Erin O'daniel is a writer, artist and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth, Minnesota

Yes Birthday Months! Yes Poems! Yes Love Bubbles!

A few weeks ago, I returned from my annual birthday vacation to our family cottage in western New York state. Always a menagerie of relatives and self love - from dad visit in Chicago to a week with my mom plus extended maternal family on Chautauqua Lake in western New York to solo camping with my pup in the Upper Peninsula- these places have become part of an August ritual ten years strong.

Now imagine your current favorite poem. Feel how every word is an invitation to sink deeper into self, moment, satisfaction, pleasure, freedom, softness, body, love. Beyond schedules and unconscious spinning, poetry offers me another world. One I like to spend a lot of time wandering through, aware that everything is my own, easy to share while unattached to outcomes.

Similarly, a month+ of celebrating self = me wide open to receiving maximum amounts of birthday/travel/poetic goodness. With a Leo sun&Virgo moon+rising, I’m not shy about basking in the beauty of my very favorite time of year. I am at my best during August and September. A powerhouse of love, I marvel at what I can create.  From new poetry-letter infused friendships to reconnection with my high school basketball coach to art+sport+adventure galore, I also slow to where words and I become intimate again after taking time apart during high summer.

Yes, every year I’m amazed at how much poetry I experience during Leo&Virgo birthday season+travels (coined trip magic years ago by my bike Collective Spoke N’ Heart). The perfect blend of familiar meets new- 350 days in between cottage visits- allows me to make the adventure expansive and fun. Using my new ‘Love Bubble’ label, even as fall temperatures and colors push summer into next calendared poem, I see further into all my August+September pleasures.

My bio family summer cottage experience fills me soul deep. Time on this small lake has been the most consistent thing in my life. My grandparents bought the beloved place in the 1950s. Once an office for a French window manufacturer, my grandma swam in shallow water out front before committing to the purchase. She knew what she was wanted and wasn’t afraid to find it.

 The cottage has given me ground when I haven’t had any. It’s also invited me to grapple with my whiteness in relationship to land ownership. My grandma and grandpa were working class folx who purchased this waterside property for themselves, their three daughters, extended family and friends. My grandma Ruth loved to entertain and hosted endless lunches and dinner piling Jello salads and Johnny’s Texas Hots on red wooden picnic tables decade after decade, generation after generation. It’s been my ultimate Love Bubble.

 I come home to a different kind of family. Queer and committed to water, my people here on our bigLake are another Love Bubble. Pride weekend, celebrated every labor day in Duluth, allows me to feel as loved and alive as I do with my blood family even while I queer life in Minnesota to the max .

It’s fascinating to feel the poetry of my bubbles- what they give me along spectrums of wildness, queerness, art, love, adventure. Poetic in nature, I believe in the magic of claiming my time while easily connecting with others. Nothing hierarchical or restrictive exists when summer abundance is available. I listen to what every moment desires. That practice is at the core of building Love Bubbles and poems.

 Fun to differentiate between ‘Love Bubbles’ and ‘bubbles’. Love bubbles serve me well and create ease. I’ve fought other bubbles all my life- especially doing middle and high school in Texas where it seemed the ‘middle class white consumerism Christian cis-hetero bubble’ was trying to drown me. Yes to escape! Here though in Minnesota, winter seems like another claustrophobic bubble= contained, silent, “nice” gloss over extreme emotions the brutal weather creates inside so many of us. Winter waxes on a hard shell- the exact opposite of the soft, pliable, openness and connection I feel now.

Love Bubbles keep me open and enamored with my northern life. My community and families also connect and lean into the beauty and ease of our individual + collective states of being. There’s complete acceptance now (again, versus full body resistance to the harshness that is our coldest, longest months). Lake Superior summers, like cottage family time, capture the best of my Love Bubbles.

This season takes me to the magical intersections of pleasure and poetry. Steady soft surprising connections of August and September keep me tuned into my body. Magical, effortless sensory experiences happen with poetic satisfying precision giving me exactly what I desire. Like writing a poem, there’s a subtle noticing of how good all this feels right now that lends to even more joy.

These Love bubbles hold me, relax me, encourage me to allow even more abundance. Yes, it’s true my queer heart feels safest at the end of summer! I recently did a tarot reading using the phenomenal Queering the Tarot by Minnesota based writer Cassandra Snow. Powerful cards came my way- three of cups (love), six of wands (passion) and the Devil. All speak to success and removing obstacles while trusting the hard work I’ve done to build the life I desire. This reading was a beautiful affirmation of who and where I am and how as a queer, gender expansive womxn I can consistently feel cared for, strong and capable. Yes Love Bubbles.

Yes, this birthday trip east stroked my confidence. Building relationship and connection with family is key for me. I do it well. While I live an exciting and migratory life, coming ‘home’ feeds my core. I bask in the cellular satisfaction I feel on every level. I write, love, build community from this place of peace, calm, warmth, pleasure, openness and connection. Love bubbles are living poetry. Words and freedom readily available to communicate exactly who I am and what I desire.

I hope all are blissfully aware of and enjoying their own August+September Love Bubbles like I am. Here’s to being-writing-enjoying the poetry of this time of year together as long as possible.


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