Monday Mirth

I am so excited about this kick ass life I hardly know how to express all my gratefuls for what is happening in my world.

Last Wednesday I had an essay published on Kind Over Matter, the website that I regularly credit with saving my soul when I was going through a major life transition. My essay is about finding freedom in heartbreak. In case you missed it you can check it out here. Be sure to bookmark their page, I have become a contributing writer with the KOM community and you don’t want to miss a thing!

I am overjoyed to be leading a workshop next fall at the Be Golden Conference in Bloomington, Indiana! This conference is created for people that have a dream, want to make a life change, and find a safe place to find those resources for the next big movement in their lives! Join myself, Awesomely Luvvie, Susan Hyatt, and Elliott Sailors for a weekend full of badass juicy wisdom and joy! Gold badges are on sale now, get yours before they sell out. 

I wrapped up teaching one of the greatest groups of students I have ever had the honor of educating. I know they are going to go out and change the entire trajectory of the world with their passion for social work, social justice, and advocacy for their communities. I learned so much compassion and fierce determination from these young people. This is the message I gave to them our last day of class


My wisdom of the week reminds us all to check our fear at the door. Don’t forget, time spent in fear is still time spent. 


Xoxo

Missy 

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The Last Class

Today is the last class that I am teaching at the California State University, San Bernadino School of Social Work. I dedicate this blog to my 28 amazing students who have been personally and professionally affected by the outcome of the 2016 election. They are fierce and they are woke and they are engaging in activism like I have never seen in a group of social workers.

This is what I have learned from the CSUSB MSW Class of 2018:

I have learned that I don’t know everything there is to know about poverty. We all come from somewhere and many of us are still one moment away from needing the very services we provide as social workers.

I have learned that bravery is in all of us but only the strongest among us can walk through fear to admit what makes us strong.

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I have learned that our hopes and dreams for this Nation are as individual and different as the sunsets and the colors of our skin and we all want to make a difference in our world.

I have learned that racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the other isms/phobias are experienced by each one of us a little bit differently but that doesn’t make those experiences insignificant.

I have learned that the patriarchy lives and breathes and in one way or another we are all shocked that this is our government.

I have learned that it is OK to provide a safe space for people to tell their stories and that it is that space that is critical to learning and being passionate about what is being taught.

I have learned that vulnerability is key in a classroom and it is OK to have emotions with our students.

I have learned that if we simply stop and listen to our students, we can be inspired by their vast knowledge and change the world on and off campus.

I have learned that when I stand in my passion and my power and when I am unapologetic about teaching social justice policy, advocacy, government, and how to kick ass in my own way then my students become empowered to do something – and they DO!

Look out America, the Bird Girl Army is assembling and it is fierce, on fire, and relentless in its pursuit of equality and justice for all.

 

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What will your bench say?

A few days ago I was hiking with my husband and we came across a bench in memory of Sylvia and Irving Silver “who lived life with a passion for justice”.

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This got me thinking, what would my bench say?

I asked my husband, “what do you think our bench would say?”
He responded, “I feel like I only qualify for a memorial folding chair.”

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That is my husband, always underestimating the contribution he makes to the world.

I think our bench would say, “Missy & Jim – she saved the women, he saved the oceans.”

What would your bench say?

Would it say you lived in fear and remained frozen in your rickety folding chair? Or would it say you spoke up against tyranny?

Would your bench say, “She gave up in the face of adversity” or would it say, “She rallied when beaten down and conquered her demons.”

Too often we see things that bother us, hear things that disturb us, bear things that fell us to the ground, witness injustice and do nothing.  We stay stuck. We stay quiet. We stay put. Our butts fall through the worn out threads of the folding chair and we can’t get out.

Lately I have been waking up and thinking, “How can I kick ass today?” I set lofty goals every morning. Sometimes I soar and sometimes I plummet to the ground. But every day when I go to bed and reflect upon my day, I know that I got off that rickety folding chair and focused on my intention to inspire badass change in the world.

Sherry Ann Clark never missed an opportunity to teach, laugh, or help. I imagine she didn’t stay all folded up in that aluminum chair waiting for someone to help her out, otherwise she wouldn’t have this beautiful bench placed in her honor.

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This week I challenge you to do one thing that scares you. Challenge yourself to follow a crazy dream. Take a risk. Go big.

My bench will say:

Melissa Bird speaker, writer, teacher, social justice badass. Her words changed the world and inspired all who knew her.

What will your bench say?

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Lost in Translation (Stepmother)

I remember the moment I found out he had children. It was night, I had been drinking and fucking around on Facebook. I thought I had found his Facebook page. His profile picture was of kelp so I wasn’t sure if it was him or not. It said he was married. I clicked on her page and there was a little boy maybe 6 months old on the beach wearing an Army hat. The next photo was of him with her at a wedding. I completely freaked out. I wasn’t freaked out that he was married. I wasn’t freaked out that he had kids. I freaked out that he would never leave those kids because he was too good of a person. This meant one of two things, either we were done forever or I was going to become a stepmother.

A stepmother.
A stepmother.

Ewwww. I don’t want to be a stepmother. I want to be a real mother. I want his vasectomy to fail. I want to not be infertile and I want to create a human inside of my belly. I want to give birth to his baby. I don’t want to take care of another person’s baby. Ewwww.

Me: “Do you have kids?”
Him: “Yes.”
Me: “How many do you have?”
He gulps, takes a deep breath, “Three.”
Me: “Wow. How old are they?”
Him: “Well, Katelynn is 9, Gwendelynn is 3, and Sean is 1.”
Me: “Wow, they are little.”
Him: “So are we over?”
Me: “I don’t think so, are we?”

That was the moment I became lost in translation.

It was the moment I fell into the rabbit hole and watched myself spin down to the bottom of a cavernous pit in the name of love.

I became lost in wanting to perfect my new identity.

I was going to be the best stepmother in the history of all stepmothers.

I would wash and sew and cook and clean. I would do laundry and do yard work and read and play. I would never say bad words about their mother. I would always be kind and gracious towards her because after all, without her I would never be able to help the man I love raise his children.

I would be the greatest “stepmother” the children would ever know. I wouldn’t cringe when they called me “Missy” even though that was my name and to expect them to call me mom was just silly. I wouldn’t cry each time they left with her, the woman who would stand on my front lawn screaming and swearing, calling me names as the children walked outside.

I wouldn’t get angry at the legal fees, the court hearings that I was not allowed to attend because it would look bad. I wouldn’t hold resentments toward his attorney for taking so long to end this, toward the judge who was clearly blind and incapable of seeing what is standing right in front of him, to the state of California that does not allow free attorneys for the children like they do in other states. I wouldn’t lose my shit all over because I know too damn much because I am a social worker.

Nope not me, I am going to be MAGNIFICENT. A pillar of grace. I am gonna be so fucking graceful I am going to print out pretty words that say grace and grateful and hang them all over the fucking house.

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Thank you Pinterest, you have saved this stepmothers ass.

I remember the moment I realized I didn’t recognize myself. It was 2012. I was sitting on the back porch chain smoking cigarettes reading stepmother chat boards ramping myself into hysteria because every single story was the same.

We had all been lost in translation.

We had all been rendered voiceless by the court system. We had all been forced into a strange land that had new words in a language we didn’t understand. We had all found a common language as stepmothers but didn’t know how to talk or act or be in our new roles. We all sat by and watched as our husbands fought tooth and nail to keep their children from women who were on drugs, drunk, and homeless but whom the courts considered paragons of perfection because their uteri are fit for incubation.

When I became a stepmother I not only lost my identity, I lost my voice. All of a sudden I couldn’t speak. I was paralyzed by fear that I would say or do something that would get these children taken away from the man I love.

I became frozen in an insane wasteland or torment as a partner and a caretaker and a housewife and a…gasp…mother.

While I was simultaneously making my dream come true by turning into a “mother” an insidious transformation was taking place that was entirely out of my control.

I completely lost my identity for about 2 years.

I was entirely unreadable.

I looked like some jacked up mishmash of language written simultaneously in Greek, Russian, French, and Hebrew. Advocating with the stepmothers felt inadequate, I wanted to go bigger. I wanted to change the entire court system in California. I started doing research. I started calling county workers and administrative office of the courts bureaucrats in Sacramento. I started developing a plan.

And then one day it all stopped.

One day Gwen came into the living room and said, “Mommy, will you read me a story?”

I am pretty certain I started crying right then and there.
Did I just hear that?
Did she just call me mommy?

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And so we read and we read and we read.

And then Sean woke up from his nap and came and curled up with us on the couch and we laughed and we giggled and we tickled. And then Katie came home and she needed help with her homework and I needed to make dinner and then Jim came home from work and needed kisses and hugs.

And then I wasn’t so lost anymore.
I had been transformed.

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You are not alone 

A few weeks ago I wrote this in my journal: “I need to get back to my happy place and set my feet in my ancient relatives earth and feel their histories rise in me. Amen.” I rarely end anything with an official amen. What an odd prayer.

I wrote that sentence after reading the words, “Walking I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” It struck me as odd because when I envision myself, I see a bird, a big ass combination of a bald eagle and a Phoenix soaring into the heavens. Not something that wants to be rooted, planted, or stuck to anything.

I have learned when a message comes to me that sounds the opposite of what I am drawn to that I should listen to it. Be rooted it says, stop soaring, dig in, sink those gorgeous feet into the earth until you can see the roots slithering their way through the soil, securely anchoring you to the loving embrace of the true mother.

I love the Utah desert. It is the place of my ancestors. I used to take the top off my Jeep and drive for endless miles on the dirt roads until I was so lost to civilization no one could find me. The minute I left the pavement I would remove my seat belt and lean forward in glorious anticipation, barely breathing as I climbed hills and boulders searching the edge of my hood as I took drop after precipitous drop. I could feel my dead father’s steady hand on my shoulder, gripping me with giddy anticipation. His presence was so real sometimes I could glance in the rearview mirror and imagine his smiling face into being. The desert is where I feel grounded and alive. It is where I feel like I am flying and descending at once. It is where I find my peace. It has been seven years since I set foot in my beloved Utah desert. Seven years since I have been home to the place that sets my soul ablaze and brings me to my knees with its glorious energy of magic and healing.

I am Native American. Paiute, but not enough for it to count on either side. I am unrecognizable by modern man yet the blood of my ancestors runs thick in my veins. The only time any native soul has ever publicly said, “You must be Paiute” was when a random stranger came up to me at a child abuse conference and said just that. My reaction was to spontaneously burst into tears. No one had ever recognized me before, it is a part of me that is so true to my being and yet so invisible to the naked eye.

This last week I have been on a retreat in Scotland, another birthplace of my ancestors. On the first day we were told to pick a rock out of a bowl. This was mine:


My search for my ancestors ebbs and flows year after year. Sometimes I consciously look for them as I did when I Googled by dead fathers name in 2007. What I got in response to my inquiry was my Uncle Arvel’s website. My only memory of Arvel was his fiddle and how he used to play “The Devil Goes Down to Georgia” for me over and over when I was a little girl. He used to be an opening act for the country western band Alabama. Over the years he had become a semi famous Native American musician. I randomly called the phone number on his website. I hadn’t seen him since I was six or seven years old. We talked for two hours. That phone call began a two-year journey where I learned who my father is, connected with cousins I could barely remember, and discovered that I am descended by great Scottish warriors.

Recently my psychic told me the energy of the earth is in a panic. She told me to give the protesting a break and stand back so that I know which direction is the right direction to go. She told me to take a big deep pause and get perspective on what I want the end result to be not just for myself, but for the entire country so that I can advocate and see results. She told me my time is coming to lead from the love space, that I am going to “bring love and awareness to stop the war.” When I listened to her say those words I took a deep breath and felt giddy. I have always known that I was born to lead, oftentimes I pull too tight on my reins in my struggle to charge up the hill, my patience is starting to pay off, I have been chosen to stop the war.

Two nights ago I read this paragraph to my fellow sisters at the table:

“The wisdom of my guides, combined with my deep connection with my ancestors encourages me to listen in a deeper way. If I close my eyes, I can breathe in the messages of thousands of years of healers and shamans, goddesses and witches, queens and sorcerers. I stand alone, in full battle armor like Joan of Arc, cloaked in my wise woman cape that has been woven with the feathers of a thousand birds. I turn around and as far as I can see there is an army of wise women standing for miles in their entire glorious splendor. They move to surround me with their loving embrace. Illuminated in white light they are there beseeching me with gifts from a million different experiences. The entire matriarchy armed with decadent wisdom, beckoning me over to take the gifts that they hold in their hands, gently pushing them into my heart so I can see them with my entire soul. I light up with the resplendent glory that has been bestowed on the very fibers of my being. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands. And we are here as you stand in your own glorious white light, leading the charge into our glorious love revolution.”

I am not alone…the energy of millions of women runs through me. 

I am the midwife of the collective. 

I am here to assist in the birthing.

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The Carpet

When the rug is pulled out from beneath you and you lay there on your back, wind knocked out of your lungs, head pounding from the impact of the floor, how long does it take for you to get back up?

Hours?
Days?
Weeks?
Months?
Years?

It used to take me months or years. Now it takes hours to days.

Almost every time it is accompanied by waves and waves of emotions rocking my soul and my heart like a storm swept sea.

Anger, sadness, convulsive fear. My heart pounding so hard panic threatens to take over. I can hardly breathe when I think of what has happened, what might happen, what will happen.

These emotions threaten to overtake me until I catch my breath.

Deep breath in, I will survive this.
Deep breath out, I have no control.
Deep breath in, I am the boss of me.
Deep breath out, I surrender to the will of God and the Universe.
Deep breath in, I am love and I am loved.
Deep breath out, I am Dr. Melissa Bird, PhD.
Deep breath in, I call on the wisdom of my tribe and ask for prayers.
Deep breath out, I receive all the messages my loved ones have to send me.

I rise, like always, like the Phoenix on my back.
I focus on my present moment and the gifts that are all around me.

I replace the ripped out carpet with a new heavier one that cannot so easily be pulled from underneath me.
I breathe.

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In 2017 I am…

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Photography by Nathalie Gordon

Fierce, on fire, lit up, inspired, out of control, raging, pissed off, revolutionary, Joan of Arc personified, Guinevere exemplified, smart, happy, joyous, sassy, laughter, sparkles, bubbles, tickles, spunk, pissed off, lit up, rising rising rising, rich, voluptuous, badass, vibrant, abundant, loaded, delicious, fabulous, energetic, healthy, muscular, funny, interested, attentive, awake, woke, staying woke, damn my whole entire house is woke and we will not be deterred, focused, diligent, Wonder Woman, lit up, fucking dead sexy, pointed, organized, going with the flow, listening to my body, listening to my soul, tuned in, turned on, punk rock, heavy metal, smooth jazz, inspiring, sister, vivacious, determined, kind, love, diplomatic, professorial, nurturing, independent, relaxed, embracing my stress, releasing my stress, bossy, funny, inclusive, queer, passionate, going grey, a believer in causes, a leader in causes, the originator of causes, I am the god damned cause, I am the bringer of the Mists of Avalon, the high priestess, the witch they could not burn, the granddaughter of the witch they did burn, the harbinger of gratitude, grateful, grace, humble, creative, mom, momo, mommy, wife, partner, sex goddess, diva, creative, best friend, lover, fighter, scrappy, divine, goddess, multi-faceted, diverse, iridescent, fast, passionate, smart, courageous, eloquent, hilarious, tenacious, empowering, resourceful, engaging, impassioned, fiery, go-getting, a teacher, a mentor, compassionate, empathetic, dynamic, intelligent, a leader, fierce, sassy, free.

Oh my goddess in 2017 I am so free. Free to teach. Free to make oodles of money. Free to finish my fucking website and go speak all over the world about empowering women and girls. Free to write my book, Journey of the Modern Virgin: Stories of women in America. Free to go on a book tour. Free to do my research, get my grants funded, be the expert in the room. Free to hike and walk anywhere I want to. Free to camp once a month, take long drives to the Oregon coast, fly to San Francisco to see my “big gay boyfriend” whenever I want to. Free to clean out my entire closet and buy new clothes. Free to buy new clogs from Sandgrens. Free to finally get rid of all the high heels I don’t wear anymore because let’s just be honest, they hurt my damn feet. Free to admit my weaknesses and not be afraid that someone will exploit them. Free to finally be free of patriarchy in my own mind. Free to fully embrace the matriarchy in a way that welcomes me into the bosom of woman united. Free to stop bitching and start my own fucking revolution once and for all. Free to listen to podcasts about becoming a minimalist and then not do anything they say and not feel guilty about it. Free to buy the biggest, reddest, glitteriest, most full of tulle ball gown and then wear it while gardening and drinking coffee and doing laundry and taking my dogs for a walk.

In 2017 I am the divine expression of the way that my children see me. I am awesome, strict, loving, caring, and nice. I am a leader, strong, fierce, honest, and kind. I am awesome, beautiful, love, mom, happy.

In 2017 I am the divine expression of the way that my husband sees me. I am smart, sweet, dedicated, inspiring, and amazing.

In 2017 I am patient, prayerful, powerful. I am leaving a mark, embodying bravery and integrity in a way that is beneficial for this new nation of hate. I surrender and accept that I have no control and that the Universe always, always has my back. I am a spectacular expression of liquid love and I am adding to the thriving of the world through my burning, orgasmic, powerful writing. I am leaving a mark and transforming the world through the magic of my imagination and my dreams for the future. I am sitting amidst extraordinary moments of gratitude while I am living a life of imperfection and magic, drinking tea. I am receiving whatever is of the highest service for me and for the world while I engage in masterful conversations with my future self.

In 2017 I am the embodiment of the Phoenix rising. I can do anything I want because I am everything worthy and right and good. I am fierce fire and I am changing women’s’ and girl’s worlds on a grand scale. I am teaching and empowering and rising up women to believe in the beauty of their dreams. I am living Brendan Gill’s two rules of life, the first of which is to have a good time, the second of which is to hurt as few people as possible in the course of doing so. I am living the life that my grandparents dreamed for me as a child. I am finding the blessings through the eyes of my children and I am relishing in the loving touch of my sons snuggling cheek, Gwen’s questions about witchcraft and the earth, Katelynn’s belief in kicking patriarchy’s ass.

In 2017 I am in a little house built from love, surrounded by trees and flowers and the smells that come from summer turning into fall, drinking tea with my husband in our “Up” chairs in front of the fireplace, dreaming of adventures yet embarked on. I am sitting with myself in the stillness of my writing room, surrounded by books, inspiring quotes, whitewashed walls and rainbow pillows, dreaming of stories yet to be told. I am holding inspired dinner parties connecting strangers in their shared humanity to discuss politics, love, sex, life, and living.

In 2017 I am gracefully and fully stepping into the next half of my life, relishing in the spectacular glory of my glittering and gorgeous existence, realizing once and for all that I am a divinely delicious human who rocks my life so fucking hard there is no other human being I would rather be with but myself.

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Photography by Nathalie Gordon

In 2017 I am badass, full on, balls out, punk rock, fantastically fervently free.

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