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Redefining Beautiful: Courage for Authenticity and [Com]passion

24 Jan
A/N:  Images displayed for this post are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr, Imagebam & Pinterest. No copyright infringement intended. Click the image to link to its origins. Playlist is working again (it’s probably playing RIGHT now)! Musical inspirations listed at the bottom of post. To open the player in a new window, clickity-click here—> http://pl.st/p/20984139787 Pre-read by a luminous team of Rebel Beauties, led tonight by @kate_suena . If you catch any remaining bobbles, they belong to ME.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”

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HAPPY NEW YEAR, my Rebellious Beauties! It is my pleasure to skip vivaciously into 2013 bearing a couple more definitions for our Anthology of Otherness. I must tell you…well, no, I can’t even begin to articulate how stunned and honored I was at your responses to the last [first?] new Musings. 

In the comment section, on Twitter, Facebook and through emails, you showered the kindest and the most exquisite definitions and responses upon me, all in the name of my Royal friend Eeeby, and New Beauty, of Reigning Other Queen Kristen Stewart, and of #Otherness. I humbly bow down to you. Your warm welcome compels me to keep going and continue this… even while things have been especially challenging. . . 

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So let me introduce you to the contributing definers featured in tonight’s MOO. My friend Dee (@DeeDreamer16) is an OG Muser. Legit. I mean, I think she commented on the very first Musings ever written, two and a half years ago. A sage, articulate and thoughtful kind of gal, Dee is, and we connected almost instantly, through the magic that is the world wide web. Over the years as we bonded over our love of Kristen’s unrelenting badassery, Robert’s increasingly open admiration of aforementioned badassery, and the sweet seduction of the written word (fanfic and otherwise); Dee became a consistent, loving force in my life. She is a supremely gifted writer and has been unfailingly kind and supportive of me personally (read: she has listened to me sob into her ear via phone…several times) and in our celebration of Kristen and Otherness. I am honored that she felt inspired to have a hand in The Otherness Anthology. Annnnd I may or may not have highlighted passages that resonated with me all of it. every dang word. But above all, I count my lucky stars that she is one Majestic Misfit whom I call friend. 

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Definition: Authenticity

~DeeDreamer

Authentic, adjective. True to one’s own personality, spirit or character. Not false or imitation. Worthy of acceptance. 

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”  ~ Hamlet

When KJ first presented the idea for her Anthology to me, I immediately gravitated toward wanting to expound on authenticity. What does it mean to be authentic in this modern age of digital anonymity and online personae which may or may not accurately reflect the true character of the person behind each screen name? This question, especially after jumping into the Twilight/Rob/Kristen fandom four years ago, confounds me. In preparing the definition for this term, its true meaning in terms of Other nearly screamed at me: worthy.

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Aren’t we all worthy of acceptance? Don’t each of us deserve to live our lives without judgment from others, especially from people whom we don’t know? I think that’s the essence of being a beautiful person — knowing how to reserve our own commentary, teaching ourselves to put the filmstrips of judgment residing in our minds away on some dusty, back shelf of our brains so we can transcend. If we subscribe to this mantra and follow our hearts, we win — even when we are too blinded to realize it.

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I was too blind to realize it back in high school. Looking back even now, with so many years separating me from that girl I was, I still don’t really “feel” like I won at anything. In fact, back then I’d have argued that I was pretty much losing — as in being a total LOSER! — at least in terms of things like popularity and cool friends/boyfriends/parties/whatever. I made a lot of… unpopular choices. I removed myself from what my peers were doing socially because I never — not once — could make myself comfortable doing the things typical high school kids did. I didn’t want to be seen as a priss, and I certainly wasn’t doing anything to stop others from having their fun, but I just felt… Other. It made for some lonely days. Not gonna lie. 

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But then my senior year came to a close, and yearbooks were delivered. I flipped through mine and saw a gorgeous, half-page ad in the back that my parents, brother, and sister had taken out for me, proclaiming their pride, love and support. Along with their words, my mother had included my (still to this day) favorite Shakespeare quote. Reading it there in black and white, for everyone to see next to my senior picture, was somehow utterly affirming. 

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Scholars can argue Polonius’ meaning as he spoke these words, but to me, as an impressionable teenager, the words sang to me, echoing through my limbs. They were a calming salve on the raw wounds of teenage life, and I ensconced them in bubble wrap and kept them safely cradled to my heart. They gave me strength to stand by my beliefs. They gave me permission to be my authentic self. They gave me the confidence I sorely lacked and assured me that, indeed, I was worthy… just the way I was. Nowadays, so many years later… if I had an “Other” button, I’d wear it proudly. Even through the halls of my high school. (Hint, hint, KJ.) 😉 ~Dee

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So I guess I should pull out my old button-maker and while I’m at it, fire up the T-Shirt making process too?  It has been awhile since my last T-Shirt giveaway…See what I mean about Dee? Brilliant and so kind and spot on. 

You all, I’m pretty sure, have encountered the genius and gentleness that is my Katie (@kate_suena), the second contributor to tonight’s collection of pristine terms and definitions. She of course, has authored several gorgeous essays for @KSIBTU, and she is the scribe behind the sublime Lost In A Book Somewhere  (have you visited yet? If not, GOOOO); but she also is the biggest Other Anthology Supporter.  She was apart of the commencement post with a stunning definition of her own; she was the first of my friends to donate her words. Well…she’s back, y’all. Again, I may have highlighted bits that knocked my socks off…Have a seat and prepare to be inspired. 

Definition: [Com]passion

~Kate

[Com]Passion, noun. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” 

I sometimes feel as if compassion is an endangered quality. Especially in “Girl World,” where for whatever reason, some find it easier to focus on the negative and relentlessly tear things apart and each other down.

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But then there are those who are OTHER. They bring a refreshing change of pace to this antagonism. I see PASSION as a key part of compassion; if one feels ardently about something, or someone, this is reflected in the compassion they display.

By consistently recognising Other in the world, our view allows us to be aware of what is important and react accordingly, simultaneously disregarding frivolous non-concerns

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A tangible, important example that springs to mind is the response to the havoc that Hurricane Sandy wreaked. I find witnessing Mother Nature unleash her fury terrifying; there’s a sense of hopelessness as you watch natural events unfold (and I’ve never even experienced any such destruction firsthand!). But in the days following the storm, I saw an online show on compassion that restored the hope that Mother Nature had temporarily interrupted: one person donated to the Red Cross and ignited a spark.

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Soon my Twitter and Instagram feeds were FULL of people sharing how they were donating and therefore helping those thousands of miles away from them, subsequently encouraging [O]thers to do so as well. These compassionate people from all over the United States and around the WORLD were doing their part to assist people they had never even met.  

How beautiful is that? Queens of Other and Royal Rebels are unbeatable proof that caring and compassion are alive and well in this world. ~Kate 

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Definition: Courageous

~KJ

Courageous, adjective. Daring, steadfast, unswerving. I am frightened but I am unfaltering.

“Freedom lies in being bold.”
~ Robert Frost

Over the past six months, I have seen courage manifest in the most awe-inspiring of situations, and in gloriously royal people. After a hellacious summer, Our Reinging Other Queen Kristen proved her resilience and fortitude by stepping into the relentless spotlight and unblinking camera lenses to dialogue about a project of great personal significance to her. Despite the countless glaring gazes fixed upon her, and the judgments, diagnoses already conjured and proclaimed, Ms Stewart remained poised, and throughout even while vulnerable and exposed .

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So, she persisted. She moved onward (in perfect shoes).

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These days, I have been struggling to find my own valor… I realize the work I’m doing at my counseling agency and with The Red Cross has depleted my abilities to regenerate and provide compassion for my own weariness. My personal relationships are suffering severely and my physical body is run down. I know that getting out the door each day in the morning is an act of courage in itself, when all I want to do is huddle in a dark corner and weep. But I do climb out of bed and push through the door, regardless.

Now, that is little ole ME lamenting on the copious reserves of bravery I’m trying to locate within myself.

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I do not have swarms of vultures toting cameras circling outside my house, stalking. I do not have warring factions of “superfans” determining my worth based on a self-made (read: absurdly skewed) psychological theory touted all over Twitter.

But Kristen Stewart does. 

And excepting when she’s in SuperStealthNinja Mode, Kristen still. shows. UP. And she’s all beautiful and brainy and breathtakingly articulate when she arrives.

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Other Emerging

I believe it takes a tremendous amount of courage to be authentic and [com]passionate. As both Dee and Katie illustrated earlier, it is not the easiest of decisions to represent an idea or image that deviates from the conventional schemata. I have watched, awed, by Ms Stewart’s ability to remain congruent and grounded, even in the midst of extreme, incomparable challenges…It is why she is, after all these years, Queen Royal Rebel. She wears the shiniest crown.

Norman's Cloud Break

courtesy of (c)KinoPhotography

Soooo these are the newest definitions to catalogue in our expanding Anthology of Otherness. Thank you for rolling with me into this new year. Thank you for sending in your most incredible ideas and thoughts on what “Other” means for you. I will try and feature every contribution I receive, even–especially–those left in the comment section and emails. I maintain always that Musings’ readers are the most incandescent of souls. You continuously, wonderfully, confirm this.

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We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others are freed by their bold, [com]passionate authenticity.

Embrace Your Other.

*   *   *

QUESTION[s]: How has your relationship with authenticity, [com]passion and courage evolved over the year? How did you greet the new year?

A/N: Next time, which will hopefully be within just a few days, I will bring a few more essays to you. I’m pleased to tell you that the lovely Emma (@ItsAlwaysEmma) has contributed a definition to the Anthology that makes me weak in the knees…and the voraciously brilliant and funny CC of @KSIBTU and I are collaborating on a conversation about On The Road and #TheMadOnes that I am dying to delve into with you all.

* * *

Thank you, Katie. Thank you, Dee. Thank you Eeeby. Thank you @r_boncoeur.

CynicallyConvy and BeammeUp_00 check in on me regularly and I am beyond grateful for their thoughtfulness.

SOOO many pictures found on the tumblr so perfectly named: QueenKristen: http://queenkristen.tumblr.com/archive/2012/10

Playlist

Blue Skies ~ Noah and the Whale

Born Secular ~ Jenny Lewis (feat. The Watson Twins)

Til Kingdom Come ~ Coldplay

Redefining Beautiful: Resilience, Kristen & Eeeby Everywhere

29 Nov
A/N:  Images displayed for this post are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr, Imagebam & Pinterest.  No copyright infringement intended. Click the image to link to its origins. Pre-read by a luminous team of Rebel Beauties, headed by @deedreamer16 and @just2cusmile. So if you catch any remaining bobbles, they belong to ME.

It isn’t easy finding footing, once we’ve tumbled, as scores of us can attest. It is those who have fumbled and fallen to whom I gravitate, seeking validation and wisdom. It has been over three months since I’ve mused, and the ache in this knowledge is ineffable. Hello, my Royal Rebels and Majestic Misfits. After weeks of contemplation and more than a few entanglements with heartbreak, the flu, false starts and deletions, I’ve finally found myself ensconced in the sanctuary that is Musings again.

To Return

I have returned anew. I have cultivated and maintained this space for over two years and have been enriched in ways I never believed possible. Over the course of Musings’ evolution I’ve encountered kindness, compassion, wicked wit, cleverness, warmth and sheer intellectual genius in the form of you lovely Readers and Rebellious Beauties. I’ve also recognized that MOO’s original concept has emerged, expanded and naturally concluded. And while I considered wrapping up thoughts and archiving this ‘blog’ I have decided instead on another route.

In the end, after hashing it out with some of my dearest, I’ll continue to muse aloud, seeking more ways of Othering onward,  hopefully for the benefit of someone. ‘Someone’ might mean the few of you who read these ramblings, or clients, or folks in the Kristen/Robert/Twilight community, or fellow Others… maybe you, maybe me.

I think this new incarnation is even more faithful and congruent with Musings’ original mission to redefine beauty, honor the unconventional and ultimately expunge vitriolic judgment.  I will continue to applaud and highlight Royal Rebels in our midst and celebrate any Royally Rebellious gesture that our Reigning Queen Kristen Stewart produces, but we’re going global, guise. We’re going to take the spark that Ms Stewart and fellow Others ignited and blaze a bigger, brighter trail. I hope you decide to accompany me on the next leg of the journey.

Anthology of Otherness

So what did I do? I turned to the most brilliant people I know (that means YOU) and presented a question:

What does ‘Other’ mean to you? 

I asked a few of my CyberSisters, my Team Other Co-Captains, my friends from the MOO and @KSIBTU community to send in words, pictures, ideas, phrases and music that defines and illustrates their conceptualization of Otherness, Unconventional Beauty, and Royal Rebellion, across all realms: Kristen and Rob-influenced or not; 3D life, 2D life, or otherwise.

And the genius began rolling in. It occurred to me: I need to compile these new definitions into an index –an encyclopedia, if you will. To share. To refer to when feeling directionless, uncertain. 

I realize I was already kinda doing this the previous two years of Musings, what with Featured Royal Rebels and Stew Reviews, but you all know how I struggle with the ability to be succinct and contained. Also, in this forum, we’re interacting collaboratively, not with me just blah blah blabbbbbing AT you. Come on. You know one core principle guiding Royal Rebels:  Sharing is caring. 

So… below, are the inaugural entries for our Otherness Anthology. Please. Please give a warm welcome to the absurdly talented  [and aesthetically pleasing] poetic princesses: @buff_82 and @kate_suena.

Buff is up first, Katie’s definition follows, and then I wrap up the essay with my own contribution.

So… Buff: She’s the designer of both Musings’ and KSIBTU’s banners and themes over the years. She also is webmaster for my private practice’s site…and on top of it all, she’s mother to beautiful offspring, and a deft wordsmith in her own right. I am so pleased to call her my friend.

Katie, my beautiful soul sister, writes words that make me weep. Her odes to books (you follow her blog LostInABookSomewhere right? If not, what are you WAITING for???) and stories and travel make me soar and I am a better person for knowing her.

Definition: Fearless

Fearless, adjective.  One foot in front of the other. Never stop, never waver, push on because you are sure of one thing–yourself.

Definition: Embrace

Embrace, verb. “Live the life you’ve imagined” 

When KJ first introduced the idea of definitions for an “Encyclopedia of Other,” this was the word that immediately was at the forefront of my mind. It pertains to all the areas of Other that I can fathom – and of course the overarching idea of Otherness itself.

To embrace means to transcend past simply “existing” to actively exploring/loving/living/changing/growing. The beauty of this concept is that a person can embrace Other and everything it represents in whichever way they choose; there’s a sense of freedom and security simultaneously.

Shedding inhibitions that previously affected the way in which you faced a situation and decided to go with your gut – this is key to embracing what life is all about. It could be as small as varying from the norm when it comes to choosing your next meal, and therefore exposing yourself to a new and exciting culture. Or, it could be big. It could be more profound than you ever imagined – like taking that first step towards pursuing a new career (or life) goal.

The magnitude of what one embraces isn’t the important part, it’s that the action is happening, period.

Plus, I must admit that I’m quite fond of hugs, so this definition fit snugly with that as well. That feeling of being wrapped up with love and warmth is a pretty damn good one, wouldn’t you say? <33 ~Kate

 Definition: Resilient

Resilient, adjective.  Encompassing strength, grace and courage to push through adversity. I am worth this. I will do this. I will return.

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen

For this first post, defining resilience for The Anthology of Otherness, no words can properly illustrate Kristen Stewart’s spellbinding emergence over the past four months. Simply absorb the majesty.

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Royal Rebels Among Us: Eeeby

My dear friend Eeeby (her nickname is the phonetic, Australian pronunciation of her online handle) and I met a few years ago. Through this community, this chaotic, addictive, omniscient fandom of ours. Vivacious, scintillating, and eloquent she is. A single mother of two teenage boys, Eeeby was a constant force of nature, all mouthy and bold. 

So Eeeby had herself a rough year, but perhaps above all, she had the most harrowing summer and fall of her life these months. I’d venture to say she’s had the most harrowing time of anyone’s life. 

In June the Colorado Springs wildfires roared through her neighborhood, forcing her and her two teenage sons to evacuate their home, bringing only the possessions that would fit in  their car with them . They stayed four nights outside their home, taking shelter at a friend’s, away from the destruction. June 29th, Eeeby and her boys were permitted to return to their home, which blessedly, was undamaged, save for smoke saturation. Such gratitude they felt for having their home spared. Early morning on June 30th, Eeeby discovered that her newly-turned 18 year old son died in the hours following his exchange of grateful goodnight hugs with his mother.

The anguish I felt in my heart when I received the news of Cole’s passing could not be soothed. I was teaching a Psychological First Aid course for Red Cross on this bleak Saturday,  and I found that the techniques I taught earlier in the day needed to be implemented for myself that evening. My CyberSisters came together in the most phenomenal way, from around the world. We joined together in candlelight vigils, prayer chains, regardless of differing religious backgrounds.

I found myself delving into my own religion, at my piano. I was compelled to follow an aching melody floating around my head. I pushed ‘record’ on my iPhone in a last-minute decision to contain it, and maybe share it with Eeeby as a wordless expression of my grief and a declaration of my love for her and her family. I couldn’t get to Colorado, though I offered. But I could quiet myself long enough to let the lullaby emerge, and all I knew in a moment, was that Cole was with me, speaking to me, communicating with Eeeby and his little brother L. Even if I didn’t get the chance to physically be near or speak to Eeeby for a period of time, she would know she was surrounded. 

Cole’s Lullaby

A few nights later, I received a text as I was about to walk into a movie theater to see The Amazing Spiderman with N. It was from Eeeby. She thanked me for the composition and asked my permission to use it for Cole’s memorial service the following week. And as I burst into blubbering tears in that movie theater lobby, I let her know YES YES YES I would be honored if she used that little spur-of-the-moment piano ditty to celebrate her Cole. It wasn’t mine to grant. I told her it was hers, hers, hers. Never mine. She sent some sparkling, lovely reply back, and I cried harder more out of awe for my friend who despite her anguish, found a way to remain, as always, here… and so very her. 

Which is even more inspiring to witness since Eeeby was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in September. But she’ll be damned if she doesn’t look good while fighting it. Check her shoes below. The night before her surgery  (a double mastecomy with a radical mastecomy on the right side to remove lymph nodes), she packed lipstick and her makeup in her overnight bag . She attempted to bring along her heels, but the hospital staff quenched that urge real quick, much to Eeeby’s dismay. 

Upon hearing news of her diagnosis, Eeeby joined CaringBridge, an online support site to stay connected to family and friends while on her journey towards wellness. She also joined to make sure she stays connected to who she is especially while feeling the effects of chemo (which she’ll begin next week); the storm of emotions, the hellacious physical discomfort. Her journal entries filled with curse words, requests for coffee and acute observations on humanity’s mysteries, make my life. 

Though she hasn’t the ability to fully lift her arms, and she takes measured, languid steps when she walks, my friend Eeeby clocked in 9 hours of Black Friday shopping Nov 23rd, and she offered to pummel my husband who has been behaving slightly [read: alarmingly] off-color as of late. Now THAT is a fierce, fearless, Rebel Queen who is willing to embrace Otherness, if you ask me.

If you would like to connect up with Eeeby through CaringBridge, to share your own stories of resilience and Black Friday steals, come talk to me. I’ll hook you up. I have no reservations about showering upon my friend the praise and affirmation every day that she is an Other Queen in every sense. . . she is and remains in the company of my very favorite embodiments of grace, beauty and resilience. 

Redefining Beautiful

Sooooo. This is the New MOO. It is an evolving, fluid, collaborative effort to redefine the antiquated ideas of “beauty”. To create, identify and celebrate the unconventional, the unusual, the inspiring ideas and the people who embody the pioneering spirit of Otherness. Every essay won’t be this long, or this loquacious. I may just publish a series of pictures or videos on a random day with no commentary.  I’ve definitions tumbling in courtesy of your brilliant minds, and this is just the beginning… In the next month or so, I expect to be flooded. 

I look forward to our adventures together, Lovelies.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others create their own definitions of beauty.

Embrace Your Other.

* * *

A/N: Talk to me. How are you? Are you already conjuring up your own vocabulary words to contribute to The Others’ Anthology? How do you see “Embrace”, “Fearless” and “Resilience” manifest in your own life?

Thank you…… Kate, Iris, Buff and DeeDreamer16 for holding my shaking hands as I trip and stumble through my own return to posting.

Thank you to all of you folks on twitter and facebook who say really, really nice things to me.

So much love to: Bouffant, robkris13, Mel452, r_boncoeur, punkybellyjelly, j_carroll7, alotmoreofmagic, cynicallyconvy, Aaiposs, JaiPoss, Nai, lmrg1122, TrueLove, bellsy-bai, cheermom, randommama, Mari-Pai, every single one of my Cybersisters/Readers, my sister Puss, mycleveralias, drowninit, and iampancakes (thanks for the ride, beautiful!)

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