First Article Almost Due - Tips to Trust the Journey
Well...I will say...that I will stop saying, "I am not a journalist." Besides, I like how "citizen journalist" sounds anyway. Journalist reminds me of male-oriented news broadcasting and propaganda.
When I was writing throughout the VOF application process I was doing it because I wanted to hear women everywhere else. I wasn't even sure of the exact issues in my community. There are so many! How do I pick and choose? How am I an ally for everyone? Where is my strongest place as an advocate? Which is why LGBT issues are my focus and submersion into this community is vital.
1. When you are feeling like you don't know what to write, who to interview, what to ask, and what direction to go in - trust that what you were originally inspired by is probably where your heart is rooted. I wasn't sure who to interview, how do I pick when I know so many empowering women who are leading my community? The week I began to stress about it I taught a LGBT Youth workshop on religion and homophobia, attended an all-day summit for the National Association of Social Workers, followed by a lovely Saturday afternoon spent inside various lecture halls at a Transgender Inclusion Training. I didn't know what would happen, but I knew this - those three days would bring people into my life who were connected to the issues I am passionate about, they would be working with people affected by those issues AND advocating for change, and that - if I didn't network with anyone - I would have spent three days educating myself, working with the community, and being uplifted by everything I heard. I stopped stressing and enjoyed the process, then this happened:
I met Ang Soliz from GLSEN - http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/about/index.html who is a local LGBT advocate, volunteer, and trainer. I attended her "How to be an Ally" training. I learned that gender falls along a long spectrum and many people identify somewhere in the middle, instead of firmly rooted in feminine or masculine roles/identity.
I met former senator, Rebecca Rios, and even though she was no re-elected, I felt uplifted by hearing her journey into politics and her efforts have been influenced by a background in social work. I started to pick up more on political lingo.
Kyrsten Sinema, House Representative of District 15 in Arizona until January because she was just re-elected as Senator...was supposed to be speaking at the social worker's summit, but Rebecca Rios had spoken in her place. This was still my first introduction into the work of Sinema and I have realized that the state I live in is not as conservative and hopeless as I thought it was...however...the Republicans are the majority in Arizona starting in January which basically means that no Democratic bills or voices will be looked at or heard. I am still hopeful, Sinema was a delight to speak to and she is inspiring people here in a multitude of ways.
I also met Cookie, who suggested during the Transgender Inclusion Training that we should stop segregating our support groups and start uniting despite our differences. I was witness to two Skype conferences where I heard from women who are leading the LGBT community by giving voice to those who cannot speak, who are afraid to speak, who have been taught not to speak.
The tip is to trust the journey...
2. Just when you think that you haven't been doing enough, thinking enough, writing enough, asking enough - remember to breathe and be aware of the people you are communicating with on a daily basis and how your presence impacts them, what inspires you to speak, and how you are teaching others to move forward. I forget this sometimes. I become so caught up in what I must do, what I must write, and how I should spend my time...that I forget taking a break to have a cup of coffee with my neighbor will be just as empowering as interviewing the senator. Making a meal and inviting friends over will be just as engaging as writing 10 drafts - and, quite possibly, more capable of reminding you to stay rooted. My friends remind me of why I inspire them...and that reminds me of how important it is to continue seeking sources of inspiration, telling their stories, and sharing those stories with more people.
I know it is not easy for all of us to enter into a Skype conference, get to a computer, or connect with our mentors when we may need to - but remember that everything you look at in front of you is a part what has inspired you and delivered you to this place. I want to be comfortable enough to interview people as I would the evening silence - with ears wide open, grateful for the presence of something/one amazing, and enjoying the possibility to momentarily connect.
As well as trusting the journey, trust that every moment is the journey and is influencing the direction you will move in, the place you will speak from.
Don't forget how you feel when you speak to people. I know I am interviewing who I am supposed to because my heart feels expanded afterward, I feel hopeful and inspired, and I am writing on my walls again!
Use your journal! I am a WP supporter and member before a VOF Correspondent. My voice still needs to be heard. Posting tidbits here and there this week has reminded me of a few things:
Daily experiences and reminders of gratitude, along with the lessons revealed every day, are helpful to remember. It helps me stay true to my voice, if that makes sense. I'm a nonfiction poet, if any 'type' of writer, and I don't have to change that just because the format of delivering stories changes. Just as, if your strength is speaking in your community to spread your vision is your strongest way of communication, speaking from that place is still possible even though the format changes to written, instead of verbal.
Gratitude...I've received comments on tidbits this week that do just what WP works to do - remind us of the possibility of connection and offer a way to communicate! I wrote posts to channel some of the things milling around in my head and they helped to remind someone else to breathe. We are hear to speak AND listen, commune and collaborate.
Finally, it may not be the best idea to post a general journal post when the article is due in six days and your first draft consists of pages of notes and replaying recordings - but I assure you, it will serve its purpose, even if it was to remind myself of the beauty of connecting with lovely people in my community and sharing them, fragment by fragment, with whoever chooses to read.
Wishing everyone sweet energy and connection to self this week as we write, journey, speak, and listen.