#WomanCentered is an independent project by conceptual artist and community organizer, Natasha Marin. Inspired by Women at the Center, a project created with support from the United Nations Foundation Universal Access Project. This series of interviews seeks to tell the inspiring, interconnected stories of women’s reproductive health, rights, and empowerment.

Christina Springer of San Jose, California.

How has having or not having children affected the overall trajectory of your life?

This is the stuff of memoirs. So, I’ll leave it at acknowledging that I have mothered on two spectrums. I have mothered in a queer, radical, multi-cultural family construction and within the confines of a Black heterosexual marriage.

Regardless, as careful, strategic, or thoughtful as I thought I could be, each of my children tossed my carefully laid life plans in the air and attacked them with scissors, glitter and hole punchers. Children always edit and rewrite your life. That is what they come here to do. What I have had to figure out is how to be co-collaborators in our incredible life story.

Do you feel pressure to fulfill an idea of womanhood that may/may not correspond to who you actually are? If so, please describe.

I remember once weeping at my mother about how, “It was time for Black women to have the same luxury as White women to fall apart and be weak.” She told me that was the dumbest thing she’d ever heard and I was a fool to even think such silly thoughts.

She was right. I was right. The only thing I wish had been different about that exchange is that she would have shared her process of learning this truth. Womanhood is a process. Every moment we engage in our Being is a valid moment. Womanhood is the activity of actualizing the reality of our divine creative energy embodied.

When I was younger, I resisted the Womanhood Idea my family of origin presented. I never felt good enough. My Mothers and Grandmothers were impervious, magical, terrifying and divine. As I wrote in a poem, I was “never able to rip the woman from the goddess.”

For me, the pressure eased when I stopped listening to the Lying World. Our world is in invested in fractional fictions. Womanhood is a treasure hunt. Sometimes ghastly and dangerous. Riddled with traps and tricks. Once we track everyone’s bits and pieces of ideas, we end up having to spend all this other time sewing the Idea of Womanhood on like strange appendages. The Womanhood Idea has us sorting through all the conceptual limbs and entrails as if we can make one singular whole reality out of infinite and fluid realities.

When I was in this place, I was scurrying; defining roles and rules and recourse. Securing item after item of evidence to be presented about our egregious existence and demanding reparations. Yelling, “It’s just not fair” or “I am capable!” rather than creating fairness and capability for myself.

Women come naturally shedding, renewing, transforming, creating. We are always outgrowing ourselves. The pressure comes from the requirement to vigilantly guard our right to just Be.

Do you have advice for other women regarding birth control methods that worked well or didn’t work well for you?

Birth control — as we currently define it — has never worked for me. Life always manages to pass through. Always drops by my place for a visit. My best choices involved managing options, all of them, without regret. Waste no energy agonizing about your bodily autonomy. Never relinquish control over whether or not to accept responsibility for the incarnation of another.

Statistically speaking, however? In the confines of a heterosexual relationships, the most successful birth control has been the rhythm method and condoms.

Listen to your body. Know your body. Do your own research. Chase down the footnotes in the studies. If it makes you feel sick or crazy, don’t use it. Do what makes your body feel right. I call this my personal spiritual science.

Only you can develop & practice for yourself your own personal spiritual science. What is uniquely yours, your perfect way of achieving bodily autonomy. It involves the willingness to risk knowing yourself.

In 2016, openly discussing one’s reproductive choices is still considered taboo, why do you suppose more women aren’t having these conversations?

Internalized misogyny.

So, here is a good place to follow up on the last question. I am not ashamed to say that I could have eight children at this point in my life. I have chosen two. Six others and I were not meant to share an extended journey on this physical plane of existence.

I have become pregnant on the pill and the diaphragm. I have miscarried. I have assisted souls with their corporeal discovery process and returned them to the aether by terminating pregnancies. I have chosen to carry pregnancy to term both as a lesbian and in a heterosexual relationship.

I’ve also painted paintings, made films, written books, created installations and done performances.

Toni Morrison’s quote about racism as a distraction inspires me. “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. ”

Human reproduction is one aspect of women’s creativity. These days, I need to celebrate the glorious, miraculous, mysterious wonder which is my art. So, I’ve begin to shift the way I am willing to converse about womanhood and art. I need to shift the conversation towards my other birthright — non-human related creations. I’m ready to talk about how women are goddess embodied on Earth.

That whole big SheBang ~ the truth of woman that men have always feared. So terrified that they stay busy with distractions for us. Keep us focused on the biology. Keep us thinking we can’t or shouldn’t control it. Carefully orchestrate psychic attacks insisting that menstruation, birth, lactation, fucking, abortion, miscarriage, birth, and menopause are separate and distinct from writing, dancing, singing, painting, laughing, cooking, making a home.

And wow, though, our kids are awfully cute. And always in danger. And what’s for dinner?

Where are you on the continuum of self-love? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being Kanye West), how much do you love yourself and how do you reinforce and/or improve this?

Self-Love. I’d say I am at some kind of a magical seven. Maybe a solid eight. I can’t say I would ever scale all the way up to Kanye. My self-love is not a narcissistic love. My love of self is in the challenge of holding my Self to its ability to rise to the occasion of its divine highest Self. This means sometimes I experience my self-love as conditional. But, that isn’t really the truth.

My experience of self-love is very different from the kind of love I all too eagerly and easily expend upon others. The way I love others is often intuitive. A snap judgement I have snatched out of a flash or fold in time & space where I am able see someone completely. My whole Self resonates and sings “I see and accept you in the timelessness of the truth of your highest Self. I see what you have been. I see what you are. I see what you will become. And you are magnificent.”

As I continue to grow as a person, I may learn to hand over that very specific kind of instinctual, lavish, generous and visionary love to myself. I do experience it. But, because I actually have control over the implementation and actualization of my Self, I am profoundly aware of how much hard work remains to achieve this self-truth.

I self-coach a lot as a result. This is my form of holding myself to my own high standards. So, when I say, “I’m great or I’m amazing,” what I’m actually saying is: “I’m not so sure I have internalized the truth. So I am calling this truth into being for myself. I am naming my truth. I am speaking what I am out loud to the universe so we are both reminded.

Self love is the ability to commit to your own process of living the truth of yourself as you piece it back together from all the ways the world has taught you to lie to yourself about you.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self some vital information or critical education about your body, your overall wellness, or your reproductive health, what would your advice be?

Dream yourself. Make yourself up as you go along. Intentional self-invention is not pretending. It is channelling. Never stop creating yourself. You are changing every minute and every change is real. Movement is natural. Don’t let people lock you into a stagnant idea of yourself. Keep moving.

It takes hard work and courage to honor the truth of yourself. You will sparkle. There is no societal investment in shiny, happy, sparkly Black women. Black women who are happy with themselves can not be exploited, profited from or used to enlarge someone’s puny unactualized self.

Open your inner circle only to other people who sparkle. You will know them by the way they lift you up; think of you when you most need to be thought about; are present in action-oriented ways.

A fully realized Self will face maximum opposition. You will be ignored. You will be mocked. You will be dismissed. Some will offer harm to your body. People will attempt to disappear you for any number of reasons. Stop being surprised. Anticipate it. You have choices. Stand and fight. Stealth and thrive. Flow and twist. Pick any and all of the above. Have several plans. Execute them.

Everything is a negotiation. Always be ready to walk. Nothing is more important that the truth of your Self. Always be ready to burn everything to the ground. Always know this is the way entire forests are reborn.

No one will come for you. It’s okay. Come for yourself.

There are many, many, many young women out there who are desperate for fucks to give. Be generous. Let them have and give all the fucks. Find yourself busy with you.

Create, develop, nurture, honor and practice your self-love science. Then, set all the fucks free in its service. Seriously. Make regular offerings on the altar of your Soul~Self. Even if you just affirm yourself once a day.

(If applicable) How have the men closest to you supported your reproductive education and choices?

My father has always known and communicated my truth to me. He has always been full of sayings about serenity, sharing power and tending to the excellence of Self. He has always insisted that I rise to the occasion of myself. He has often offered course correction when I became weary of being a dreaming doer. Watching my son become fully realized human (boy) who understands and reveres the magic of women lets me know I am correct.

Christina Springer is #blackgirlmagic all grown up. She is many things to herself and others including Mother. She is also a text artist who uses poetry, dance, theatre, film and other visual expressions.

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