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Have you noticed this image (or a different form of it) going around FetLife or the Internet?

Switch Pride Flag image

It's a switch pride flag. I actually came up with it in 2009. (The first place it showed up on the Internet was on my personal blog, here: http://c4bl3fl4m3.livejournal.com/586692.html ) I licensed it Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

This means it's free to use, edit, use your edits, and even sell stuff with it or your edits. However, if you use it, you MUST give me credit, and you must include the CC license with it. If you modify and use your edits, you must also license it the same.

Notes about the flag:

1.) This is not the final draft. Stuff isn't exactly centered, etc. I'd like to do that before making the "final" draft of it.

2.) The flag incorporates what I consider to be a/the switch pride symbol... the 2 arrows pointing up and down forming a circle & the heart in the center. I took a page from the history of the peace symbol and wanted to make a symbol that people could easily draw by hand, even with little to no drawing skill. (I have no drawing skill. Anyone can draw this symbol and it's just as valid as the flag picture. Remember that the flag picture is a picture of a FLAG, *NOT* the picture of a symbol. The flag HAS the symbol on it. The symbol is the arrows & the heart. Any drawing of 2 arrows pointing up and down in a circle with a heart inside is a drawing of the Switch Pride symbol.

3.) It is technically not "official" but I'm not sure how someone would make something like this "official" anyway.

4.) Yes, many of the design elements are intentionally off of the Leather Pride Flag. The stripes are off of the proportions of the stripes in the Bisexual Pride Flag, mainly because that was easier for me to design/work with. Also because at the time I designed it, I identified as bisexual (amongst other things) and with the bi pride flag, so it was a nod to the creator.

4.5) I chose that idea for the switch pride symbol because I wanted something that showed our sides, that showed movement between the 2 (including the idea of flow), and I decided to incorporate the heart to 1.) continue the homage to the Leather Pride flag and 2.) to show that what we do is out of love (or at least out of caring, or at VERY least isn't about harm and hate and violence). The current symbols at the time (a light switch, a switch as in a stick for hitting) didn't resonate with me, and I thought they were too gimmicky. Also a lightswitch is too binary... on or off, and doesn't show the movement or the flow or the places in-between.

5.) I should release the PSD I used to create it, so people can make clean scaled vector versions of the size they want before creating a raster version. I should release other vector versions. Because people keep copying and recopying and resizing the raster and it's looking NASTY in places. (Yes, that was a lot of graphic design speak.)

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/16143.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
It's snowing here. It has been since about 3:30 pm... first just a smattering of flakes, but then it turned into the largest clumps I've ever seen in my life... like 2-3 quarters put side by side.

The flakes are smaller now, but no less numerous. It's really coming down out there.

I've left the lights out in my house and it's just illuminated by all the holiday lights I have up, plus the LED candles I have decorating my "mantle" (really the top of the tv/shelf unit).

I'm feeling warm and fuzzy inside but the house was chilly so I heated up some cider and put some caramel apple instant cider spices inside of it. It's basically flavored sugar, but it's tasty.

It's warm. I'm warm.

I believe this emotion is called "content". I like it an awful, awful lot in a very quiet kind of way.

I have so few moments in my life with this emotion. I have to grasp those that I do have, but the act of grasping it can change it, much like Heisenberg's principle.

So I will smile and drink my cider and be happy in this moment.

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/16092.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Picking this up again... hopefully

I have been writing things on my computer, exploring ideas, but I haven't been posting them anywhere. I think I'll start posting them here again.

I think I might need new icons... or just stick with 1. I feel like icons aren't so important anymore. Tumblr has gotten us out of them.

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/13373.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Holiday Traditions

I've always been a bit fan of traditions. Some might even say a bit obsessive or fanatic. (Familiar and repetition… knowing what to expect and when to expect it… seems to be helpful with my brand of mental illness.) Tradition is comforting, and something to look forward to that you know won't disappoint you or let you down. Holidays are important to me, too. It's a time I always knew I'd feel happy, a special time that almost makes up for all the hell of the other times.

But of all the times of the year, Christmas and the winter holidays were always my favorite. They're big celebrations, they last a long time, there's many different things to enjoy: the music, the food, the decorating, the lights, the buying of presents & the wrapping of them…

I'm supposed to choose 1 holiday tradition. I don't know if I can. I'll share many.

I grew up in a Catholic family so we always had an Advent wreath with 3 purple candles and one rose colored one. I always enjoyed the Advent wreath and I still have one as an adult. I've created my own traditions surrounding it, including singing the first verse of O Come Emmanuel while the candles are lit.

My mother and I take a trip to Bethlehem PA every year before Christmas… we've done it since I've been in 4th grade. When I was a kid, I was a lot closer to my dad, so this was the one mother-and-me time. It's almost always been a "no boys allowed" venture, and, when I got older, it was a "no partners allowed" deal. (Last year I broke the rules and spent the day with a good friend of mine. But it was very very nice to share with him the places and traditions I've loved.) We often times listen (and sing along with) the same Christmas music in the car on the way there. The length of the trip has changed over the years (starting as a day trip and turning into a 3-4 day trip), and we've stayed in just about every hotel in the area, but we like to eat at a lot of the same places (and throw in a new place or 2 each year), go to the same shops, take the same bus tour. As the years have gone by, we sometimes drop some of the traditions (like the bus tour… sometimes we drive around and I narrate a "tour" myself, with a lot of silly joking around) but add new ones in… like the house tour (which happens every other year) and seeing a play at their local community theater on the non-house tour years.

On Christmas Eve, one year my dad decided to do a buffet at home. It evolved into everyone having a favorite food for Christmas Eve dinner. I always requested Dad's cheese fondue (which he only made at Christmas) & which I brought tonight. My parents often times had shrimp.

When I lived in Toronto, I'd go to Neighborhood UU church on Christmas Eve. It's located in the Gerrard India Bazaar, and I have fond memories of taking the streetcar and watching the Christmas lights in the windows of the shops glisten in the sequins and jewels on the beautiful saris, while snowflakes fell outside. One year, me and my boyfriend went for Indian buffet right after church (because, why not?). I was looking forward to that turning into a tradition, but we broke up in the next year, and it was not to be.

On Christmas morning, I always open only my stocking before breakfast. Then we have breakfast, and then we open the rest of our gifts. Sometimes we'll go out driving around and looking at Christmas lights after the sun goes down.

My father always bought me just 1 gift. Well, he always bought me 1 main big gift every year. I usually have no idea what it will be. He also would lie to me about what Mom's gift would be, because he never trusted me to keep it a secret.

One year, when I was a child, we read a book called the Glass Angels. In it, Tilly, born poor to a widowed seamstress mother in the UK between the 2 world wars, goes and visits the elderly Mrs. McBride next door. Mrs. McBride has a large trunk full of trinkets and memories from the glorious time "Beforethewar" that she'll often times bring out things for Tilly. This time, when she goes to the bottom of her trunk, she finds 3 beautiful blown glass christmas ornaments… a pine cone, a bell, and a bird.

That year, on Christmas morning, I found a box under the tree. It was labeled "Mrs. McBride has been to the bottom of her trunk again." In the box were a few old fashioned glass ornaments. My mother explained to me that some day I'll be an adult and I'll have my own Christmas tree, and she wanted me to have ornaments for it. So every year, I would find the box from Mrs. McBride, with yet another ornament or 2 in it. As I've gotten older, my mother has not stopped the tradition. I've received angels, fruit & vegetables, a sun, moon, & star, candles and bells and snowmen and Santa Clauses and all sorts of animals of the land and sky. (And yes, I have a few birds, at least 1 bell, and, my favorite, a red pine cone covered in sparkles like snow.) And sure enough, over the years, I have amassed quite the collection of glass ornaments. To the point that my tree is almost exclusively these beautiful fragile treasures. As an adult, I will sometimes buy myself a glass ornament to add to my collection. (I have a beautiful Harlequin mask with rainbow designs that I bought at the GLBT bookstore to celebrate my Pride. I also have a slice of cake that looks suspiciously like the cake in the video game Portal.) Now, often times while in Bethlehem, mom & I will look at the glass ornaments in the Moravian Book Store, and I will go "ooh, I don't have one of these. Maybe Mrs. McBride will find one of THESE in the bottom of her trunk!" And, of course, I never receive that ornament (for Mrs. McBride had probably already been to the bottom of her trunk already), but that's still part of the fun… trying to guess what ornament Mrs. McBride will find at the bottom of her trunk THIS year.

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/15851.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Advent for Humanists & Non-Christians

I'm a big fan of Advent. Growing up, I always enjoyed the small celebrations leading up to Christmas… the lighting of the candles, the songs, the preparations that go along with Advent in a Catholic environment. Although I no longer identify as Christian, each year I take out my wreath, go shopping for purple and rose candles, and enjoy lighting them while singing the first verse of O Come Emmanuel (my own personal ritual surrounding it). I always bemoan that the candles don't last longer, as I would burn them all day, every day during Advent, if I could. They set the tone for the season for me… they bring me back to myself and my center. They are the cornerstone of the religious festival I choose to celebrate along side the secular celebration of what I like to call Chrismas (notice the lack of T.) (I also celebrate a number of other holidays, including Hanukkah, Solstice, HumanLight, and this year I'll be celebrating Chalica for the first time.)

This year, I picked up a book called "We Light the Candles: Devotions Related to the Family Use of the Advent Wreath". While it turned out to be a bit too Christian for my tastes, and I passed it on to my devoted Catholic mother, I got to thinking about a few things I read in it, and, as I have a tendency to do, started trying to figure out how to translate Advent and its messages to non-Christian, non-theist, or Humanist folks (esp. Unitarian Universalists that are the above things, as I am).

Often times the message of Christmas at a UU church is how blessed the birth of each child is. I'd like to take this a step further and adapt some liberation theology (as best I know it, which isn't well at all). Advent means coming, and Christians wait for the coming of their Messiah, their Christ. I think we can celebrate a similar waiting for a birth. We've had many prophetic women and men who have fought for justice. But we still wait for that justice to happen; we still fight the good fight. We've had many great leaders in the past. Maybe someday we'll have another great leader who will help us establish justice for all… a wise and charismatic leader. So we can wait for that birth… or perhaps those births, if instead of a singular leader, it's a group or movement. We can work hard, fight for freedom and justice, and hope and pray for the coming of those who will lead us even further, who will teach us how to not just live well but create a world where everyone can live well. Hope and pray that the coming generations are even more enlightened than we are. (And, of course, we can teach our children well so that they will surpass us.)

So we, too, are waiting for the coming of a wonderful blessed birth… we just don't know who it will be, or what they will achieve. They're probably not going to be the Son of God, but they may well be a Savior of the World.

The book mentioned that the devotions within will focus our attention on our relationship with God. We can focus our attentions on our relationships with others, our relationship with ourselves, and our relationship to our personal spirituality, or, for those so inclined, our relationship to our ethics, to doing what is Right.

The book mentioned that there are many names for the 4 candles. It chooses to label them promise, light, love, and hope. These, I feel, don't need any translation. The promise of a better world, the light of knowledge and goodness, love (which stands alone), and the hope for a better future.

So this year, I'll probably still sing O Come Emmanuel (because I find the song to be beautiful and haunting). And I'll use this season to prepare myself for the coming of not a Savior, but perhaps a Liberator. I'll work on making good relationships with those in my life and I'll work on bettering myself ethically & personally so I'll be in a place, emotionally & ethically/spiritually where I can do the Blessed Work of Establishing Justice.

The thing is, since we're not looking for a single Savior, since we're not looking for the coming of God, we may never know who Our Messiah is. They may never come. They may have already been born. And, as it may well be multiple people working together, some may have already died, while others may not yet be physically conceived (while they are, indeed, conceived in our hearts), and still yet others may be in our wombs currently while they are in our hearts. They may be wandering around already doing nothing of the sort. They may be me, they may be you. And since we may never know, perhaps we have to act as if they're already here. Or perhaps we need to act as if they'll never come, and step up and be our own Liberators. But we can step back, reflect, better ourselves and also create a space for centering & peace in the crazy holiday season. It can give us a religious festival for those who don't celebrate the Christian solemnity of Christmas but would like some kind of religious or spiritual practice or celebration to counterbalance the fun but often times frenzied & stressful secular celebration.

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/15488.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
So there was this survey and some of my answers got so long I wanted to put them in my Notes so that in case the page borked, I'd still have my answers. These are unedited... they may be incomplete. But I thought they were interesting so I thought I'd share them here.

Read more...Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/15324.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
1.) Any therapist/psychiatrist is NOT better than none at all.
I'm tired of seeing the posts that tell people to go to therapy or find a psychiatrist and that then very clearly insinuate that if you don't, that you aren't working on your mental illness. It's important to have the RIGHT mental health professionals. The wrong ones are a waste of time at best and actively harmful at worst, esp. when we're talking about psychiatry (remember: these folks have the ability to literally change your brain. Their Rx pad & signature is extreme power over you. When improperly used, it can make you end up in the hospital against your will… and if you're committed, you lose a number of rights forever even once you come out.)

Many folks find traditional treatment options to be ineffective. Many folks have been harmed at the hands of the mental heath profession and it's very traumatic for them to even consider going again. Many folks use alternative treatment options instead. Going to therapy or being on meds is one option, one choice. Others use group therapy, peer counseling/support, alternative medicine (herbs, acupuncture, etc.), yoga, tai chi, exercise… there's as many options as their are people. Support someone towards wellness, even if that means not being in therapy at that time. Support their right to not choose that path. Listen to them when they talk about how they've been hurt by it… take their pain seriously.

And that being said...

2.) your mental illness is like any other illness… yours to treat or ignore as you see fit. (Also, it's not all or nothing. most people sit some where in the middle.)
Many people ignore physical problems they're having… that sore knee, that rash, the twitching in their eye. It's their right to do that. It doesn't make them a bad person or not worthy of doing whatever (dating, owning a house, etc.) just because they're not taking care of it. It's the EXACT SAME WAY with mental illness. If someone's not treating it, that's their prerogative. You should do everything possible to not make that the conditions of your dating or relationship or whatever hinge on them taking care of their mental illness in a specific way… or to the amount that you think they should do. Respect their right to get as much or little treatment as they see fit, just as you'd want them to respect that you don't feel like getting that clicking in your elbow looked at. We have the right to do whatever we want and get treated or not get treated or get treated the amount we want.

Now, when it affects you, you have every right to have boundaries. Communication is essential. Maybe you'd rather have couples therapy for learning how to deal with their illness. And it's ok to lovingly and gently say "you know, this really seems to be affecting you. Have you considered that it might be time to get more help? It's totally ok to get more help… no shame! What kinds of help might you want to get?"

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/14889.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
(Note: since writing this, I'm coming to realize this is almost everyone/most organizations that the majority of the members or the founding members are at or above a certain socioeconomic level, and not just UUs.)

If a congregation wants to say that they're truly welcoming to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, they need to truly represent them. They need to not just have food drives for the community… they need to offer food to people in the congregation, and not just "our neighbors" in the surrounding area, as if those people aren't actually part of the church, but rather separate. (As if the church is "In the world, but not of the world"?) Helping to establish social justice needs to start in the home, or rather, in the church, amongst its parishioners. Otherwise poor people will come to your church and feel disenfranchised and leave. They'll feel like you care about strangers in Uganda but not about the people directly in their midst. (This has happened to me directly a number of times. I've been asked to give money when I've been deeply underinsured and desperately needing specific medical care with no organization to give it to me. I mentioned my problem to the regional head of the board for UUs for SJ and the best he could come up with was "we've failed you". No "oh god, that's awful… we'll have a meeting and see what we can do to fill this obvious gap in the system." Just him giving up. Such a position of privilege. Forget me, make me go away, make me be someone else's problem. But I don't have that luxury to give up. This is my life I might lose if I don't get treated. Way to REALLY care about SJ. You fight for the environment but not for a person who came to you with a desperate need.) And it shows that those of higher economic class don't even consider that there are those of lower economic class in their congregations… we poor are left invisible, unseen, unnoticed in UU churches. People are unaware. They are so privileged that it doesn't occur to them that they worship with people not as privileged as them. They assume everyone in the congregation not only, say, has enough to eat and adequate health care coverage, but can afford to give away food and money towards health care coverage in developing countries.

People in poor churches all band together and help each other and are aware of the socioeconomic backgrounds in their churches, but people in rich churches never consider that some there do not have enough and would like to receive some help from those in the Beloved Community. Social Justice isn't something we do to or for other people, but something we do TOGETHER for EACH OTHER. It requires those of higher socioeconomic levels to consider themselves not allies, separate but caring, but rather ONE OF US. It needs to become their struggle too. It needs to mean something to them because it's happening to those they consider equal and the same... one of us, one like us, not separate from us. They take on the struggle of their parishioners because they understand what happens to one of us happens to all of us. That our fights are their fights and vice versa. Social justice is about identifying as a whole and acting as such.

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/14770.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

On Submission, Identity, and D/s not M/s

I also find myself wondering, yet again, if I really am a submissive or just someone with submissive like desires. For a little back story, I wish to be in a D/s relationship. I am not a slave, nor do I wish to have a Master. So I try to buy books on D/s and not M/s. I try to buy books that address submission and dominance. But so many of them seem to use D/s and M/s interchangeably, or they describe their own M/s or O/p (Owner/property) relationship to talk about submission. (I feel it's a bait-and-switch.) Many of the "core concepts" in these books are not things that resonate with me… they are things that I do not want, that scare me, and that would probably be damaging to me as a person, esp. considering my childhood history of abuse and manipulation, and my current struggle with pervasive mental illnesses.

So I find myself wondering… are they improperly interchanging M/s with D/s? Or is this really what submission should be about, and I'm not a "real" submissive, but someone who just wants to play one? (I feel there's nothing wrong with wanting to play at it, but considering some of the play I wish to do with it isn't in a formal BDSM scene, but is in more real life situations, and to be of more extended time than just the occasional scene…)

And if it's the case of calling M/s D/s, then where can I find a book that is TRULY about D/s and ONLY D/s? And where can I find support for D/s and D/s alone? I've found there's lots of support for M/s under the guise of the Power Exchange sub-Scene, but I need a place that's for D/s and D/s alone where I can talk to other Dominants and submissives about our way of doing things. So I can see if I really am a sub by comparing myself to the way they all do things. Where can I find the D/s scene?

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/14536.html. Please comment there using OpenID.



I'm realizing that I'm not fully honest in my writing and I want to challenge myself to do what I haven't ever done before… write what my life is REALLY like, completely uncensored. The problem is, I don't want to show how I feel as some horrible afflicting mental illness (even though, frankly, it is), I want to just incorporate the intense moods as just part of my daily life… because they are. I think that's a far more accurate way of showing my life than isolating an episode and talking about it.

I've always been afraid of really expressing what goes on inside my head. Part of it is lack of ability to really communicate it… I don't want people to not get it… I need to get it right. Another part is… really, I don't want people to think I'm crazy. Rather, I don't want to be viewed as crazy and interacted with as such. I want to be treated like anyone else you know, but possibly with a bit more cultivation and care.

I really want to get PERSONAL.

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/14121.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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