teaching joy (part one)

A conversation with a friend today illuminated my burning desire to teach existential joy to anyone who will listen.

Unfortunately, we agreed that this cannot be distilled into a recipe—that everyone must custom-make their own solution to joy’s perceived scarcity.

But we also agreed that I can succeed at the teaching process through the following two actions:

  1. Set an example through my everyday life.
  2. Write a narrative of my process; not so folks can repeat it verbatim but so they may find inspiration and guidance in it.

Finally, we agreed that my mission will best succeed if I keep this endeavor firmly secular, despite the faith that drives my core.

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

We occasionally find ourselves in the situation where someone we love deeply refuses to communicate with us. In this video I present six strategies for transmitting validation across the divide. (A text version of this content is available here).

I sincerely hope you find this material useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

Update 27 February 2017

I’m happy to have touched someone with this video! Received the following comment through Facebook today:

Thank you JoAnna!

See Also

radical forgiveness (video)

on love

the pedagogy of love

the currency of love

celebrating myself this Valentine’s Day

No significant other shares their life with me, a fact that usually annoys me on Valentine’s Day. This year I decided not to fuss about it, choosing instead to celebrate my healthy love for myself. So I’m wearing cute Valentine’s Day lingerie for my own joy.

Girls, if you find yourself single next Valentine’s Day, get yourself some sexy lingerie and delight in your own company!

spinning masculinity into a seduction tool

Last night at my favorite bar I found myself flirting with two stunning women. Delivered bold masculine technique punctuated by proud feminine presence. I stood out hot and I knew it. Through my maneuvering I made it extremely clear which side of the tracks I walked on that night.

A man in their party saw this behavior and quickly complimented me on my dress. I thanked him genuinely, smiled, and then immediately returned my attention to the ladies that enraptured me.

Later I started thinking about what motivated the man’s compliment. While I really don’t know, here I’ll brainstorm through a feminist lens:

  • He could have genuinely liked the dress. Nothing to deconstruct there.
  • He could have genuinely wanted to flirt with me. Again, nothing to deconstruct there.
  • He wanted to remind the women whom I was so obviously putting the moves on that I was a woman.
    • And this is where things get interesting…
      • Was he jealous—afraid they’d take interest in me over him?
      • Was he jealous—wanted my attention but wasn’t getting it?
      • Some combination of the last two?
      • Or was it more fundamental?
        • He subconsciously intended to assert the heterocentric social order?
        • He subconsciously intended to assert the patriarchal social order?

I’m certain my use of masculine flirtation technique combined with my confident feminine poise knocked everyone involved off guard. I planned this juxtaposition while arranging my tactic prior to engaging.

From the point of view of my transgender journey, this experience demonstrates how I completely operate from a feminine foundation now. I started as, and remained, feminine throughout the whole encounter, only employing masculinity as a tool for seduction.

power and the art of seduction

In my last post, “power and sexual technique”, I urged women to gain leverage in their romantic relationships by increasing their skill in bed. More importantly, I developed this idea as a strategy transgender women may employ to decrease their overall marginalization—to help close the power differential that exists when straight men sexualize us for our unique bodies.

So far so good. But as a charismatic person (and natural propagandist) I know that the real establishment of a relationship’s or sexual encounter’s power distribution occurs at the encounter’s initiation—at the point of seduction—not in bed. One skilled at seduction, even if they lean submissive within the overall dynamic, owns the situation.

I frankly enjoy seducing my way into an encounter, thereby controlling the situation initially, and then joyfully sharing this power as the night unfolds. I might even completely surrender this power depending on the lover.

So a skilled seductress wields a mainline to authority and control.

I therefore, in a manner similar to my last post, encourage women and particularly transgender women to learn the art of seduction. My intent is not manipulation, but enhancement of mutual joy and an attenuation of the patriarchy’s power. I want us to diminish our marginalization by grabbing men by their psychosexual balls.

I realize that now I need to set an example. Problem is, I don’t particular think I’m good at seduction. To remedy that I’m committing to a thorough study of the art, starting with Robert Greene’s classic “The Art of Seduction”:

Need some inspiration? I started with a video featuring the fabulous Dita Von Teese where she irresistibly (yes, I’m bisexual) explains basic technique and attitude (below). However, I consider her words just the tip of the iceberg…

…I want the ability to start wars with my seduction (a la Troy), not merely get a date! I want to force Odysseus to break the ropes binding him.

And now, Dita Von Teese:

power and sexual technique

Competence proves extremely sexy.

My firm desire (pun intended) is that all women, particularly transgender women, take complete ownership over their presence and their bodies. Presence emits power. Ownership delivers power. Here I refer to “power” in a feminine network sense, enabling women full constructive influence within the relationships they build and expand. These relationships may include friendships, business connections, or romantic partnerships.

In the case of romantic connections, whether short or longterm, sexual competency wins constructive leverage. I therefore encourage all women, and again, particularly transgender women, to study sexual technique. To set an example, I’ve embarked on the reading list given below.

Why do I focus on transgender women in particular? Because we often regard ourselves as “inferior” women and I wish that to cease immediately. Furthermore, we are often sexualized for being transgender rather than treated like human partners. That probably won’t cease but can be manipulated. My opinion is that developing skill in bed resists the former mindset, and shifts control toward transwomen in the latter situation.

Regarding the latter: Instead of thinking of myself as objectified for being trans, I think of myself as having cornered a market. This economic viewpoint empowers. I can set my base price (expectation of a partner) based on scarcity. I can then increase my price (expectation of a partner) by enhancing my sexual technique.

Become a world-class lover. Own yourself. Own your power.

My reading list:

Here is the most famous one, but you should know that sexual technique is only a small part of it. Wikipedia explains this well:

Contrary to western popular perception, the Kama Sutra is not exclusively a sex manual; it presents itself as a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life, and other aspects pertaining to pleasure-oriented faculties of human life.

Finally, we must learn to seduce, a skill separate from competency in bed:

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you (text version)

(A video version of this content is available here).

In my post “on love“, I describe active validation of one’s beloved as a key tactic for transmitting constructive love. I further discuss how that validation must express in terms of things eternal, rather than in terms of the one sending the validation. In other words, while stating your beloved’s value to you proves important, I encourage the communication of your beloved’s value in terms of the universe or the divine.

But how do you do this when your beloved won’t talk to you (or let you write, etc.)? The mandate remains, the vitality of this action remains, and you will feel pain at the disconnect. And this scenario occurs all too frequently in our lives, so prudence dictates the formation of a plan for dealing with it.

Here I offer six strategies for successfully delivering that validation when the receiver will not communicate with you. Granted these fail to match the satisfaction of a requited in-person transmission, but they help nonetheless. By help, I mean these tactics salve your pain a bit—provide a bit of meaning and purpose. But more importantly they actually validate and uplift the other person in very real social and spiritual terms.

These six strategies, plus a bonus strategy and then two examples, follow:



Give Them Space

Learned this lesson the hard way: If a person expresses a clear wish for no communication with you, they generally mean it. Therefore the only direct way to validate them requires validation of their request by complying with it.

Again I stress that I learned this lesson the most difficult way possible, by repeatedly failing to respect my beloved’s request. This only made the situation worse—it further accentuated the distance between us. Counterproductive when working to validate.

So leave them alone!

An exception to this injunction exists, which I discuss below in the “Keep the Door Open” section of this article.

Validate and Uplift Those Around Them

If you regularly interact with folks in your beloved’s sphere of influence, work to validate them too. This accomplishes two things: First, it sets an example that those in the sphere might follow to transmit their own validation of your beloved, thereby contributing to your goal. Second, it enriches the climate your beloved lives and/or works among, as experiencing validation generally improves happiness, and happiness moves socially.

Build a Better World

Taking the last strategy to its logical next step, work to make the world a better place. Not just for your beloved, but for everyone. This validates your beloved by producing slightly better world for their children to inherit, thereby contributing to their ease and peace. One person makes a difference when they choose to.

Of course we talk about “validation” as an abstract action in this case; I argue that indirectly improving someone’s life demonstrates valuation of their life. They will likely never know. But you will know. And the divine will know. And this will aid your sleep at night.

Pray for Their Well-Being

For spiritual readers, I highly recommend regular prayer for your beloved’s and their family’s well-being. I regard this as the most powerful thing one can do for a person, provided you back it up with action if provided a chance to deliver.

Prayer for someone’s well-being declares to the divine their value to you. And (at least in my faith) the divine values the person as well, so you stand in alignment. You form a team. The divine may never employ you as a vehicle for further transmission of love for that person, but prayer sets in motion action on the part of the divine to validate and enrich your beloved’s life. (See my post “the currency of love” for further discussion of this concept).

Keep the Door Open

If you can, keep the door open for reconciliation on the transmission of radical forgiveness. Smile at your beloved. Say “hi” or wave to them if permitted. Basically, acknowledge their existence in a friendly, welcoming way.

I don’t have these option with someone I particularly love and cannot talk to right now. So I’m simply going to send her a Christmas card next December (it’s now February). I’ll address it to “Jane Doe, Attn: Peace on Earth and Goodwill Department, 123 X Street, etc.” and I’ll say little other than what comes written on the card. Hopefully that will shatter a portion of the wall between us.

Yes, by doing this I will violate her request that I not contact her, but almost a year will have passed and Christmas cards are kind. In my book a nice way to promote validation. So I’ll risk her wrath to deliver this message.



Produce Art

If inclined, produce art inspired by your beloved, or inspired by the pain of not connecting with them. Furthermore, I recommend making this art public. I write and publish songs for this purpose. I write and publish prose for this purpose.

Keep your beloved’s identity anonymous when you do this! Respect demands it!

Public delivery of such art declares to the world that someone touched your life. The individual will likely know who they are. Validation!

And whether kept public or private, I think of my process of producing art as prayer in action, as per the strategy discussed above.

Bonus Strategy: Know Your Purpose and Intent

It occurs to me that I need to write an article explaining the meaning of validation, as this article simply assumes you know. But I digress…

To validate effectively, you must know and trust your intent. If you merely desire your beloved’s attention and affection, you miss the point and will fail. One must not confuse desire with validation, though I find it “validating” to some degree when others desire me. But here I mean something far more outreaching and spiritual than romantic desire.

Intend to validate them for their value in the universe, for their value to themselves, to the divine. Only then should you validate your beloved with respect to you. Know your purpose. Know your heart!

Example

To walk the talk I now offer two examples from my own life.

In the first example, my beloved worked for the same company as myself, though in different departments. So I built relationships with individuals in her department and threw myself into projects that interacted with her department—usually offering them novel ideas on how to build their business (this was an R&D environment). By building up the individuals around her I hoped they would in turn validate her. More importantly though, I worked so hard on the projects and the business proposals to strengthen her job security. This activity served as prayer in motion. Served as indirect validation of her importance because I didn’t want her to suffer job loss.

As another example, I wrote the following song about two women at once:

While it includes expression of romantic longing, it mostly states my commitment to them as a friend, in spite of the fact that they won’t have anything to do with me. When I published this song I basically declared this commitment to the world! As I work to deliver integrity at all times, this public declaration means something to me. To others. To the divine. Expressed validation. Prayer.

Conclusion

I hope you find these strategies useful in your own life! But please do not limit these strategies’ underlying spirit to those who won’t communicate to you. Please apply them to everyone you value! Also, please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post below or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

radical forgiveness (video)

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

on love

Grrl on Grrl Podcast interviewed me!

Today my interview with Grrl on Grrl Podcast came out!  We discuss, among other things,

  • The science of gender identity
  • The music of Axis Evil
  • “Ladylike” behavior as a source of personal empowerment
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Psychosexuality
  • Model minorities

Big thanks to June Owatari of Grrl on Grrl Podcast for working so hard to put this together! The music presented during the interviews may be downloaded here.

 

make an intent board

Optimism is a skill.

A simple exercise that strengthens your focus and direction involves creating an “intent board”, also called a “dream board” or a “vision board”. These serve me well in life!

Basically, you make a poster, or in my case a Pinterest board, called “Intent” and fill it with images that speak to your goals, values, and dreams. Then you review it every day for inspiration! The images you select may include photos, clippings from magazines, drawings, or anything else you can imagine.

For example, my intent board (below) shows everything from vaginas to fiber optic dresses to cyberfeminist propaganda to geodesic domes.

What you believe and what you focus on creates your reality. (I won’t back this statement up with psychological or spiritual arguments today, just run with me here…). Intent boards clarify goal-oriented beliefs, convincing you of possibilities. They help focus you.

While I don’t expect to—or want to because it would be too much to healthily manage—gain everything I put on my intent board, it helps to review the full scope of what I like as I work to target my actions. An intent board not only helps you enact conscious goal-seeking activities, but it teaches and pilots your subconscious such that you diminish the likelihood of sabotaging yourself in the process.

If you create your intent board using poster paper, I recommend updating it at least yearly as your values and goals evolve. Pinterest provides the advantage of unlimited space and an easy way to search for images. If you use Pinterest, I recommend altering the descriptions of any pins you add to describe your intent, rather than keep the expressed intent of the original image source. In other words, make the image “yours”. (Note that some Pinterest pins do not seem to let you alter the description).

And remember there exists no wrong or right way to do this!

Setting An Example

To demonstrate, feel free to check out my personal intent board below. You’ll identify many concepts (e.g. spirituality and music) expressed among the images that I touch upon with this blog. (Only a portion is shown below; click here to see the full board):

radical forgiveness

(A text version of this video is available here).

Forgiveness is radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

The following video introduces the concept, and then discusses the rationale, the joys, and the challenges of radical forgiveness’ practice:

Aside

This video also demonstrates my significant progress to date toward developing a feminine voice and feminine body language. Much work remains on these fronts, but I’m proud of what this video portrays!

Closing Remarks

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

on love

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

radical forgiveness (text version)

(A video version of this post may be found here).

Forgiveness proves radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

We all get hurt. Doesn’t matter if an offense is personal, such as someone berating you for a mistake, or institutional, such as experiencing a subtle, unconscious bias from a coworker that hinders you in the workforce due to your gender or sex.

Radical forgiveness combines several key actions: You must understand why forgiveness proves valuable, make the choice to forgive a person or institution, understand the process and pitfalls of forgiveness, continually repeat your choice to forgive that person or institution as necessary, and if possible communicate your forgiveness to the person or institution that harmed you. Moreover, you must treat forgiveness as a skill that requires practice and commitment to excel at. Finally, you must remember that humility must stand at the core of all these actions to succeed.

One might casually call one or two of these items alone “forgiveness”, but by employing the term “radical forgiveness” I assert a more comprehensive and effective mode of dealing with offenses than the mere casualty of the word “forgiveness” implies. We speak here of something more substantial than a flippant “I forgive you” or “I can’t stay mad at you”. Rather, we refer to a context of forgiving significant pain, like divorce pain or business-partner-screws-you pain.



So why forgive in the first place? Primarily, the process heals you, and enhances the chances of healing the other party and a relationship. Forgiving helps you “let go”, to use a colloquial phrase. You surrender, sort of. Basically you acknowledge the pain, and declare that it will no longer impact your relationship with the other party. You declare that it will no longer weigh you down. The act of forgiving claims power over emotional angst. Not complete power, but it provides significant relief. Note that by forgiving you still recognize guilt, and you still must take steps to remedy the problem. Forgiving merely leaps far beyond forcing the other party to remain mired in that guilt.

Moreover, your particular deity might demand that you practice forgiveness. We won’t name names.

One must make an actual “choice” to forgive, as forgiveness starts with a choice. And one must often continually repeat that choice for a given hurt, since anger and pain well up so easily. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, clinicians talk about “turning the mind”. That is, injecting your presence into a runaway thought to turn your think toward more productive thoughts. Similarly, when a hurt wells up inside you that you have already delivered forgiveness for, “turn the mind” away back toward a spirit of forgiveness. Again and again and again. I guarantee you that this process heals.

And that’s just it, remember that radical forgiveness serves as a process, not just a destination. You wrestle with it along the way. You start out unhappy and end with greater peace, but don’t expect an easy ride. For instance, you might have to objectively face your role in a situation, to determine how actions you took that may have put fuel on the fire. Unpleasant, I know. For encouragement, just remember that this process enriches your spirit.

One can liken the process of committing and recommitting to forgiveness to the experience of the mythical Sisyphus as described by the post-war philosopher Camus. The gods condemned Sisyphus to an eternity of pushing a large boulder up a hill by day, only to watch it crash back down the hill every night. Sounds meaningless, right? But Camus declared that Sisyphus found existential meaning in the task itself. Similarly, I claim that you will find meaning in the radical forgiveness process despite its often two steps forward, one step back nature.

The sweetest spot in the process of forgiveness is letting the other party know about your decision, because it generates the most opportunity for reconciliation. But understand that sometimes one cannot do this due to safety or other considerations—use your brain here before you act! And know that the other party may simply not be able to receive your words, may not even find themselves in a place to comprehend them. This hurts, but don’t let it derail your journey to peace over a matter.

Basically, don’t think of this action as “offering” forgiveness. Think of it as “transmitting” forgiveness. Offers feel incomplete if not received, but a transmission projects whether anyone proves receptive or not. In other words, you will have done all you can, so don’t sweat over it.

Humility drives the process. Forgiveness serves as recognition that you yourself exhibit flaws, that you could easily make the same mistakes. It recognizes that you will perform actions in the future that will require forgiveness from others. To forgive effectively you must empathize with and love the imperfect humanity in the one you choose to forgive, which can only emit from empathizing with and loving the imperfect humanity in yourself.

The last point I want to make is that radical forgiveness is a skill, like tennis or playing a musical instrument. It takes practice and sometimes years to develop competency. But if you make a habit out of choosing to forgive, and nurture the habit as you go, I assure you the skill will blossom inside you! I recommend initiating the forgiveness process the instant someone hurts you, rather than wait until you are “ready” to forgive. This strengthens the habit and prepares you for rapid closure once you achieve that readiness. And this practice increases the chance of salvaging relationships due to its proactive nature.

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

on love

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

at a wedding in Delhi

One of the most amazing experiences of my journey into womanhood occurred when I attended a wedding in Delhi.

The bride knew me before I transitioned, but immediately embraced my identity as Emily when I announced it. We quickly became extremely good friends, and I therefore eagerly attended her wedding when the time came. I was so happy for her that I even wrote a string quartet for the couple to celebrate their union:

The wedding rituals we performed during the two-day ceremony appeared more gendered to me than those of the American weddings I’ve attended. The women did many activities together with the bride, such as application of henna (see my hands on the photo below) and the anointing of saffron, while (presumably—I wasn’t there so I can’t confirm) the groom participated in activities with the men.

What stands out for me is that the women fully embraced me as one of their own, allowing me full participation in their rituals, knowing full well that I was biologically male. Result: An extremely happy moment in my life. Core validation!



After the anointing of saffron, still among women only, we danced to Bollywood songs for about half an hour. Felt very spontaneous.

Today I watched Kaouthar Darmoni’s TEDx talk “Dare to be feminine for guts sake!” (below). She begins by telling a story about growing up in Tunisia where women would gather together, away from men, and simply dance. She then describes how this practice traces back to Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago. Perhaps the dance ritual I participated at the Delhi wedding described above traces back that far; perhaps it inspired the Mesopotamians, or perhaps the Mesopotamians inspired it.

But I realized immediately upon starting this video that I participated in something ancient and profound.

the currency of love

Merriam-Webster provides the following definition (among others) of “currency”:

“circulation as a medium of exchange”

Digging deeper, we find the root word “current” which I’ll define as the flow of something, for example electrons or water. We can even link these two definitions through the word “circulation” by considering that electricity flows in a circuit and the global ocean currents cycle.

Love as Medium of Exchange

Think of a contract: It serves as a commitment—a “medium” if you will—for the exchange of services or goods. This implies circulation in that the fulfillment of the contract requires each party complete the following steps: 1. Agree to start. 2. Do the tasks. 3. Agree that the tasks are complete. Basically, it all starts and ends with agreement. A cycle.

Healthy, mutual love works the same way. The commitment involved serves as a platform—a “medium” if you will—that promotes the exchange of caring, forgiving, cooperation, and responsible sacrifice. The cycle works slightly differently, but a cycle exists in that in a good relationship feedback occurs: 1. Agree to love. 2. Act out loving behavior. 3. Ensure one’s beloved’s needs are met by that behavior and adjust as necessary. 4. Agree to keep loving.



Love as Current (Flow)

I go nuts if I love someone and can’t express it regularly in some manner. This statement applies for both friendship and Romantic love. In other words, for me, the love needs to “flow”. When experiencing fits of unrequited love I visualize a damn holding back a reservoir of constructive passion and yearn desperately for that damn to gain the freedom to release a measured amount.

When the passion just sits there in that reservoir it becomes stagnant and toxic. Ever noticed how flowing water appears cleaner than sitting water? Lovesickness is stagnant water. Sludge.

I assume the principle I describe here for my life actually proves universal. (Not entirely sure though—I’m humble enough to second guess). Perhaps love only exists in the experience of its traversal, the giving and receiving of it. The current. The flow.

Conduit

Now I’ll take a highly spiritual turn. We won’t name deities or anything, we’ll just refer to the “divine” in lowercase:

When I love someone, I desire (and ask the divine for) a role as a conduit of the divine’s love for that person.

Simple as that. Humble. I lose myself to a greater cause—knowing full well that the divine may choose not to employ my services in that particular case. This act doesn’t diminish the pain of unrequited passion, but I find meaning in it. Offering myself as a conduit for divine love opens me up to experiencing a much bigger flow than my passions alone can create—the ultimate currency of love.

See Also

radical forgiveness (video)

the pedagogy of love

on love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

 

the pedagogy of love

We don’t teach teenagers and young adults what romantic love actually is.

And we sure as Hell can’t leave it up to parents, who often lack the knowledge themselves.

In my recent post, “on love”, I deconstructed and then worked to enrich the concept of romantic love. I discuss mistakes I’ve made and promote keys to success. Primarily I distinguish between romantic love as a “brain chemical high” vs. romantic love as verb (i.e., something one does, something one acts on, a choice). We need, as a society, to teach this distinction. We need to teach best practices in light of this distinction. The resulting improvement in understanding will lead to more effective relationships and more stable families.



But who can teach this? I propose the following non-exhaustive list:

  • Schools
  • Scouting programs
  • Religious youth groups
  • Teen fiction and teen media

I’ll think of others.

See Also

the currency of love

radical forgiveness (video)

on love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

 

transgender people love

Lost in the ongoing ecclesiastical debate about whether transgender identities hold validity in the eyes of God [1] are interactions between (cisgender) Christian thinkers and transgender individuals themselves, particularly those of faith.

Many faith-leaders and Christian scholars intellectualize us into sub-humanity:  Their idea is that God made humans male and female strictly in God’s own image and that to be fully human therefore requires full embrace of one or the other polarity, the polarity matching one’s genitals. (We are ignoring the intersex population in this argument for convenience–however the body of Christ will have to come to terms with intersex individuals’ existence too). Because transgender individuals cannot live healthy lives under the constraint of this particular sex/gender model—a model believed quintessential to the construction of a human by many Christian thinkers, we are regarded as having rejected God’s gift of humanity.



However, one knows a tree by its fruit [2]:

God gave humans the ability to love. And transgender people love. We love deeply. We love just as much as as cisgender people.

The fruit therefore is the love produced, and only a human can produce it.

It follows then that we fully received the gift of humanity.

References

  1. https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/transgender-issues-next-battle-culture-wars
  2. Matthew 12:33 (NIV)