Having come of age in a time where there weren't, what I believed to be, "people like me", I learned to navigate life independently & constantly scanning, searching for reflection (or threat). In hindsight, this brought many gifts, including strength, courage & self-awareness, but also times of "You don't belong here", and walls that read, "You must go it alone". Messages that reinforced a long held belief that "something is wrong with me". Out of pure self preservation this protected me from further pain, but created walls that kept me from authentic connections with others and my communities. I'll admit I've spent the last 20+ years trying to prove my existence, that I belong, building my credentials to prove my worth, discovering my purpose(s) and finding ways to translate that into work in the world. One that aligns with what I value, is life-giving, sustainable & fun.
I'd hit my "rock bottom" a few years ago with a series of events. It was bound to happen and culminated over the course of the past 13 years, since the death of my sister. As hard as I had/have been working on self-inquiry, advocacy & support of issues (Social & Environmental Justice), jobs that kept me challenged, participating in retreats, seminars & workshops to further my development as a spiritual person having a human experience, there still felt as if something was missing; a love for life. I knew this rock bottom had occurred when I no longer wanted to serve, I no longer wanted to be, what I had learned through my studies in Buddhism, a Bodhisattva- a compassionate being who chooses to stay with the suffering of the world, vowing not to attain enlightenment (Nirvana) until all beings are free of suffering. I'd reached a point where I didn't even want to come back, if reincarnation was an option. This was revealing to me that I was in fact at my lowest, because I had been committed to easing the suffering of others, to be in Service- Compassion in Action. It was time to work that hard at relieving my own suffering, offering as much compassion I had to others, to myself. And learn how to do that, co-arising with, being in service to humanity.
OR NOT. OR GIVE UP. DIE.
I recognized it would be irresponsible to continue serving and inauthentic to ask those I worked with to search edges I was fearful to search myself. My Odyssey, my journey was to "Seek the Great Perhaps". What that meant to me is that I answered the Call. There was nothing to do but listen and be receptive to what this Pilgrimage would show me. In hindsight, I believe, among other things, as I still process this chapter, that this was a Pilgrimage in Search of Belonging, as I found "home" in myself & lay to rest a Rejection Story that has run undercurrent in my relationships, work & choices. And I learned to trust who I am fully, maybe for the first time, regardless of that being reflected back from family, peers or society. And as wild as it sounds, even amidst these very questionable times we are living in, I feel a love for life, unlike I've ever experienced. It may be a revolutionary, rebellious act, in the face of what's ahead, but for me, it's my saving grace.
I believed the communities I wish to serve, to be a advocate & champion for, to support and serve as Mentor, Guide and eventual Elder would still be there upon my Return. Having no idea how long I would be gone, trusting I would know when the time arrived. I traveled from May through October 2016. 3 months on a 50 ft. sailboat, then 2 months of solo Europe travels by land. Both I have never done before. Both, and many more experiences I wish to share with you.
I created Queerodyssey.org & social media for Queer Odyssey to document my experience, to utilize these platforms as a foundation to step from Hero's Journey of self as Artist, Explorer, Refugee, Nomad & Pilgrim to the Return & Re- Incorporation of Belonging & Trust. To answer the next Call as Mentor of those walking, and maybe even lost, on a similar journey. Here to tell you, we can stay found together.
As of 10/25/16 the website & social media (Facebook & Instagram) sites identify as an Organization for networking, collaboration & offerings. And it carries the thread of it's origins, the transparency of my own stories, as the Queerest Quest (in every sense of the word); using my Hero's Journey & Rite of Passage as a template for navigating life's changes.
Queer Odyssey continues here on American soil, in a different way. Very interesting things have happened in the short time I've been back...stories for another time.
In a nutshell: #Nodapl #waterislife #2016election #BLM #refugees & I more or less joined the Circus,. Not really, but it sounds fun. I am, in fact on a 100 ft. Theatrical Tall Ship, called the Amara Zee. The Caravan Stage Company shows embody the themes relating to environmental and social issues. The shows are performed on the ship’s decks and rigging with the audience sitting on the shore or dock. The Caravan unique productions incorporate story, myth, character, text, poetry, music, dance, aerials, mask, large puppets, lights, video.
Talk about manifesting what you want...
With all that said, I'm here, I'm totally opening up my Labor of Love to you. If you or anyone you know feel drawn to Rites of Passage as a road-map to navigating change, that something here resonates with you or you are simply curious, come engage with me and Queer Odyssey.
Whats available now:
Group: Creating Trans-Youth Specific Rites of Passage https://www.facebook.com/groups/1815134758730365/
Ongoing https://www.facebook.com/queerodyssey/ & firstname.lastname@example.org & http://youthpassageways.org/partners/jenn-oestreich/
Event: Transgender Day of Belonging & Rites of Passage: Let us begin today, in the days following the Transgender Day of Remembrance #TDOR, Thanksgiving and leading into Christmas & the New Year. A day to admire the beauty in the lives of Transgender/Trans, Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming, Queer, Gender Fluid, Gender Queer, Two-Spirit, Intersexed people. To be seen and witnessed to be our authentic selves, despite being in a world that feels like it is more likely to invalidate, reject & abandon. This 24 hour sacred space will serve as a collection of shared stories, discovering others "like me" AND address how WE can step into the Call & discover what is needed for our community. The gifts we can bring to not only this community, but all the communities we belong. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/transgender-day-of-belonging-rites-of-passage-tickets-29045347416