storms come

it’s been raining for days. today the sun came out briefly and i noticed that all the colors seemed to be vibrant impressions of themselves.

the rain has not come alone, and it has not gone anywhere but into the dirt. the soil is damp and soft, swallowing temporary steps.

the thunder comes from a long way and then the lightning is exploding just overhead and i can hear the patter of rain against the window and the outer wall. this amazes me, knowing how small raindrops are, that i can hear them at scale. i can hear them through all the layers of my home, over the music, behind the noises from the television. i can hear the rumbling even as i write this, rumbling is a promise of something spectacular coming, but i cannot wait for it tonight, i must sleep. this beginning of the storm will do for now.

it’s as humbling and awe inspiring as anything else, to live in this world of rain that pours in sheets from the sky for days, tiny boisterous rain, cleaning the earth below the topsoil, rivulets carrying away the impossible silencing weight of winter.

it is spring, daunting squall-full spring. let’s see what all this death has made.

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storm to do list:

bluster about;

donate to Mia’s breast cancer support fund;

listen to new Andre 3000 tribute to his late parents and cry for days;

read pema chodron classic When Things Fall Apart and center;

dream about a detroit screening of Pleasure Activism contributor Alana Devich Cyril’s new documentary about her battle with stage four cancer and finding pleasure in each day;

fall from great heights into the river that finds itself underground.

“mantra: i die a thousand deaths, and am reborn one thousand and one times.” – #shewolfetarot by @serpentfire

the pace of a lightning storm

I can’t rush
I can’t shrink
I am light but only of darkness
I am the sound of darkness
I am the thick and heavy crash
I look soft I look slow
I am tons I am bigger than ever
praise arcs the sky
gasp, gasp in wonder
you thought you were above.
surrender to going under:

there is a lightning storm out tonight, it is loud and massive and midwest and bright and spectacular. it’s been raining for days, the land is swollen, the river is fast. here is a lesson of lightning: you can’t rush or shrink who you truly are.
and if you have a brief life, let it be bright.
and let the sound be a sign of intimacy.
close enough to quake within, close can be so frightening. show all the way up.
I tried to capture the lightning but you could only see it by being present.

we will not cancel us

We will not cancel us.

We hurt people.

Of course we did, we are human. We were traumatized/socialized away from interdependence. We learned to hide everything real, everything messy, weak, complex. We learned that fake shit hurts, but it’s acceptable.

Our swallowed pain made us a piece of shit, or depressed, or untrustworthy, or paranoid, or impotent, or an egomaniac. We moved with the herd, or became isolationist and contrary, perhaps even controversial. We disappointed each other, at the level of race, gender, species…in a vast way we longed for more from us.

But we will not cancel us.

Canceling is punishment, and punishment doesn’t stop the cycle of harm, not long term. Cancellation may even be counter-abolitionist…instead of prison bars we place each other in an overflowing box of untouchables – often with no trial – and strip us of past and future, of the complexity of being gifted and troubled, brilliant and broken. We will set down this punitive measure and pick each other up, leaving no traumatized person behind.

We will not cancel us. But we must earn our place on this earth.

We will tell each other we hurt people, and who. We will tell each other why, and who hurt us and how. We will tell each other what we will do to heal ourselves, and heal the wounds in our wake. We will be accountable, rigorous in our accountability, all of us unlearning, all of us crawling towards dignity. We will learn to set and hold boundaries, communicate without manipulation, give and receive consent, ask for help, love our shadows without letting them rule our relationships, and remember we are of earth, of miracle, of a whole, of a massive river – love, life, life, love.

We all have work to do. Our work is in the light. We have no perfect moral ground to stand on, shaped as we are by this toxic complex time. We may not have time, or emotional capacity, to walk each path together. We are all flailing in the unknown at the moment, terrified, stretched beyond ourselves, ashamed, realizing the future is in our hands. We must all do our work. Be accountable and go heal, simultaneously, continuously. It’s never too late.

We will not cancel us. If we give up this strategy, we will learn together the other strategies that will ultimately help us break these cycles, liberate future generations from the burden of our shared and private pain, leaving nothing unspeakable in our bones, no shame in our dirt.

Each of us is precious. We, together, must break every cycle that makes us forget this.

the blessings that come

my life is overflowing with blessings right now. i am learning that it takes work to prepare for blessings, and to put them to good use.

in the past month i finished two books, did two big journeys for emergent strategy (madison and nashville, very rare trips in this year of homing), and hosted the first emergent strategy immersion in detroit.

the books reshape everything, the characters and ideas show up in between my mind and the world as new lenses, combining grief and pleasure in each day, in each interaction. i am shocked by how often people are sharing secrets and love and longings with me these days. these are stories i am open to in new ways. do they know this is all i want to hear, the truth this raw?

and…i want to be home, quiet, hermiting. having to leave feels like tugging myself away from a comfortable womb. i am healing each day i am home, talking to my plants, sitting in my tub, swimming with all my elder homies, making small offers to my community, cooking.

and i want people to come here, gather here.

immersion is a way of being in water, completely. the event i hosted is the first of several experiments this year. i am seeking the best ways to invite emergent strategy to the front of peoples’ consciousness and practice, ways that don’t rely on me being the sole one to teach/spread it. this first one was thrilling for me, it was a group of people surrendering to the flow of being with each other, taking risks together, being whole together, steps and missteps that became a dance, learning with each other.

we were in detroit because it’s a teacher, a cauldron of transformation, and because i want the city to feel the abundance that comes from emergent strategy, the love that can open inside the theory.

eh, this all feels vague, and that is probably on purpose too, as i want to learn a lot more before i say more.

i was immediately able to test some small pieces out in nashville, and am in a large experiment with solidaire in may, as well as ongoing facilitation with Movement for Black Lives and BYP100. i am giving myself permission for this to be a learning year, i want to be generous with my student self in every space i get to be in or hold.

but conversations continue…some places to check me out:

Sex, Power and Leadership Conference

Longreads: a beautiful distillation of everything i care about in interview form.

Radically Selfish Podcast

and being very high for 4/20 special episode of How to Survive the End of the World podcast (we also dropped an episode on Reshaping Apocalypse that is fire).

blessings also come as needed lessons. saturn is retrograde from now until my birthday. this means caution with my words, discernment in what i listen to, and…karma is coming, learn from it. i want to learn, and to smile, to laugh in the lessons. everything is still hard, and we all die. i take that seriously. but until then, i am focused on the blessings.

writing so hard

writing comes easily to me in that i write daily, and have since i learned the alphabet. i don’t really feel things fully, or understand things, until i have written them down.

writing is still the hardest work i do – physically, emotionally, spiritually, politically. figuring out what needs to be written, what needs to be uplifted, how to write it, who to write to, how much i am willing to share and to change…and, always, when to write – it’s hard work.

words are spells and invitations. they all exist, and we rearrange them over and over to say the truth.

the ancestors i love left me a river of words, and i am conscious of being a small stream flowing into it, sometimes guiding others, bringing myself to an ocean.

so. i just wrote for three weeks straight.

on the surface of it, i finished two books.

one nonfiction, on pleasure activism.

one visionary fiction, a novel on grief and transformation in detroit.

just under the surface, i edited an anthology that i’d been gathering for a year, with a lot of original writing on pleasure to weave it together. as i was completing it, i could see all these additional needs, and every day i was reaching out to people who would add the exact note to the chorus that would make it complete. it was exciting work. and i had to ask myself daily: am i being brave enough? am i telling the truth about my pleasures and vision and healing journey? do i need all these words? does it read like a conversation? am i enjoying this?

i turned it in to my publisher a day before it was due. it will come out this fall, it has a cover, it’s real!

and just like with emergent strategy, i wrote a book that i was longing for.

by the end my whole body hurt. there’s no way to write for 12-13 hours a day that doesn’t tax the body. i took baths and swam every day, celebrated each chapter upon completion, went for walks, sought pleasure.

still, it hurt my hands, my neck, my back, my ass.

my goal is to create a life in which i write 4-5 hours a day most days, an amount that doesn’t hurt. writing brings me unparalleled satisfaction. for now these marathons are what i have and i’m grateful.

so then it was time for the novel. the novel has been showing itself to me for five years in short stories, through a nanowrimo, and a month long writing residency january 2017.

it’s an emotional lift. it’s all about grief, so of course it’s full of ghosts, and i have to step into my own grief to write any of it.

for two days of the work i wrote for 17 hours, no breaks, no swim, nothing but the work. and my pulsing sense of scarcity, that i only had six days left. then five. i moved like a dying snail through three small chapters. my eyes were trembling when i laid down to sleep.

then, the third morning, i released my outcome orientation. i accepted that i most likely wouldn’t finish in the time i had. that i may never finish, that i can’t approach this book that way. i scolded myself for being out of alignment with everything i believe in about creating.

i course corrected.

i let myself deepen into the story, lose myself in the content, feel it and weep, take risks. i went swimming daily, took more epsom salt baths and let myself feel as excellent as possible. i connected with others, friends fighting cancer and heartache and nightmares. i watched planet earth ii.

and, to my surprise…i finished something i’m excited to read, to share. i feel satisfied.

and i remembered, then, how i wanted, needed, to finish the novel before i turn 40. i am aware of time passing. i love aging, and i live in a perilous world.

i noticed how people, people who love my writing, don’t quite understand that writing is hard.

i set relatively soft boundaries around the writing – i won’t answer emails, i won’t be on facebook as much, i won’t do other work. just for three weeks. people used the private space of every social media platform i’m on, my text messages, and friends in common, to still send me requests.

“i know you are writing but…”
“i hope your writing retreat is fun, can you just…”
“congratulations on writing, what about…”

i initially resented this. then i realized it’s the ongoing lesson of boundaries. i am responsible for my life. i can’t have slippery boundaries and expect others not to slide into my sacred writing space.

there are so many societal reasons why boundaries are hard for me. for all of us. and for me.

and, every day, i see how the work of creating and holding boundaries allows my life to be lived in a way that satisfies me. not in reaction or resentment, not protecting my projections of other people’s feelings, but in reveling, in the miracle of being a creative, curious person.

i keep telling the truth these days: no. no and here’s why. no, i’m writing a book. no. i’m writing two.

no makes way for yes. and i’m 39, i want all the yes i can get in this life.

time is both nonlinear and magical. AND finite in the sense of a life. actual years. death is always with me. the week i finished the novel was the 50th anniversary of martin luther king’s assassination.

when i turned 39 i felt very aware that it was my mlk year. 33 was when i compared my life to the brief miraculous life of jesus at the age of his assassination. it’s ridiculous to do this. so what.

39 is the year when i am noticing what i have (and mostly haven’t) done in relationship to mlk. (there are other such years, if you’re into such things.)

i have felt a lot of admiration for mlk as i have aged. he was a human, a direct action hero, and a writer. we remember him as an orator, but that’s because the words he wrote to speak were such radical love poetry.

now i am a 39 year old writer deeply disappointed by the nation of my birth, losing faith in the species at a large scale, but gaining faith in the planet, in the intimacy of communities, in what love can do, and…in what i can envision beyond the mountains of struggle and pain before us.

i see free people.

writing in the context of white supremacy and militarized capitalism and patriarchy ranges from annoying to devastating. writing about concepts that were articulated clearly 50 years ago, and thousands of years before that, is humbling.

will the conversation ever change? it’s changing all the time, of course, but will it ever really change?

i think about how hard it was to write the words “i may not get there with you.” to have a wife and children, a flock, a following, security and a god…and to still know no safety. they are true words that shouldn’t be true. this far into the human journey, speaking truth shouldn’t be fatal. but he didn’t stop writing, speaking. mlk was generous.

i get inspired by this when i dabble with hopelessness and rage. i don’t stop writing, even though i rarely claim originality. i am in the chorus i believe in: i sing of justice, i sing of liberation. i write what i need to read, to hear, to say. i feel when it’s true. i celebrate when i feel truth from others – it’s so easy to perform, to promote. but all i want is truth.

junot diaz just wrote something i needed to read, to hear. it’s in the new yorker, and it’s a #metoo story.

i am a survivor of many kinds of sexual harm. among these is harm that came at the hands of a male survivor of rape. i didn’t know that until later, it was all a mystery in the moment. i experienced harm inside of a sort-of-relationship where i believe we truly loved each other as much as we could at the time. we both carried so much unspeakable baggage in the door that we could not see or hear each other. and i experienced the physical harm of his trauma, coming through his body into how he interacted with my body. he didn’t mean to hurt me. he did hurt me. writing about it hurts me.

i could feel in junot’s words a pain that has always been under the surface of his books. the yawning chasm. the unspeakable baggage. the truth. i know it hurt to write this piece. everyone needs to read it.

writing shapes and reshapes the world, even if the words are simply rearranged dreams, visions, confessions, truths. matter doesn’t disappear, it transforms. we are of it, we shape it. writing so hard that the truth comes forth changes the world, and it changes the writer.

in all of this, in small and undeniable ways, i feel different than i did last month. this is internal. i told the truth. i am 39, and i am slowly seeing who i am.

my hands

i just turned in the pleasure activism manuscript. my hands hurt. and the book is exciting.

!!

the moon is full above thick clouds. i feel her. i completed this work in a moon cycle. that feels right. full moon is when you name what you are releasing. i detach from outcome for this work. i’ve given it everything.

and i got two days of fiction writing in this week. now i get to revel in the fictional realm of my novel. well…struggle more than revel. joyful struggle.

with nonfiction i have a sense of how to do it, it’s my voice, my opinions, my stories. but the novel is a weaving together of voices i can hear, ghosts and complex characters who want me to get their stories right. and this first novel is full of ghosts, grief, songs and magic, all in Detroit. i love the story, and i am eager to know where it will take me.

grateful for everyone honoring my boundaries, and reminding me to hold them tight. grateful for the wide range of pleasure activism contributors. grateful to have a life that centers pleasure. grateful to have a life that has gifted me so much to grieve that i must write about it. every day, as i’m here, comes more sorrow, more joy.

all is full of love. wish me luck, and hand love.

a moon kind of night

tonight the moon is bright
not full but so full
telling me she can see the sun
even when I can’t
she can see the light of all our lives
she can share it with me

a creature moves through the woods
and I think, it’s bedtime
but that little hungry one
guided by senses I can never know
says there is life in the dark
and beauty…don’t be so scared

and I am scared
to feel so much about
the so far away people and places
the so mysterious future
I can’t save anything
only love it all so much

and love moves through the fear
reaching and touching me
showing me I am more than I know
and we are, all, doing our best
to be wild, still
to be free

and the moon moves over me, moves through
unapologetic in her power
reminding me I am hers
reminding me I am tides
reminding me I am full
even here, even now, in the shadows

two sweet things

one – the podcast i am doing with my sister, How to Survive the End of the World, is going and growing, with 80K listens and over 100 patrons. This week we released an episode on class that is vulnerable, beginning a larger conversation on Future Economics. Check it out.

two – i got to have an awesome conversation with Zenobia Jeffries from Yes! magazine, The World is a Miraculous Mess, and It’s Going to Be All Right – here’s an excerpt of the interview:

“We currently live in a reality of scarce justice, scarce attention, scarce liberation. It makes us believe that we must pit ourselves against each other with our harm, with the worst things that have happened with our lives. Where we’re like, my worst thing is worse than your worst thing. We’re like, “How come your worst thing gets attention and my worst thing didn’t?”

That scarcity is the lie. Actually the society we want to build, the society we want to structure and move toward is one in which there’s abundant justice, abundant attention, abundant liberation, where there is enough for all of us to feel attended to.”

ps. i am basically complete with the Pleasure Activism book!! diving into the novel now. keep sending love and supporting my boundaries <3 <3 <3

annihilation: an emergence horror

whew y’all i just saw annihilation and i am SHOOK.

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i want to review it without any spoilers in such a way that you go see it in theaters. i am not sure that’s possible, so just go see it.

seriously not the best choice to watch while alone on a wooded island. but i do feel extremely alive and alert now. the wind is blowing and there are a million sounds in a forest. the moon is bright but not enough to show everything.

the entire movie rests upon the most basic aspect of life, cells split, the dream of the cell is to become two. the movie is beautiful and weird and science-y and dramatic and brilliant.

several times while watching i was like oh hell no and then two seconds later gasping in awe and feeling renewed curiosity.

nature nature nature. y’all! someone go see this movie so we can freak out about it.

one week down, two to go

i love this. this being: writing nonstop.

i have been writing and editing the pleasure activism book for a week. here’s a bit of a report back:

it has been an intensive reminder on how to boundary my life. here are a couple of lessons so far:

– no one means to cross the boundaries. some people apologize as they do it or try to diminish the request. there’s a lot of love and longing out there, intentions are usually good.
– it’s actually not up to others to uphold my boundaries. if i can’t hold the line, it won’t be held. so i am shoring up with as much love as possible.
– i can’t dabble with Facebook if i want to finish anything else in my life. i tried a few half boundaries and kept finding myself scrolling away precious writing time. so i am stepping back further, removing the app from everything.
– boundaries work best when rooted in abundance. i am not keeping myself from fun or connection, i am gifting myself the delight of total creative time. all the good things will be there on the other side.

i love the routines of this process. my routines here include tarot, yoga, swimming, eating in a uniform way (when i write i graze, so popcorn, sunflower seeds, those puffs that are like flavored air, those are go tos), and dance breaks.

i am especially committed to being in a state of pleasure while creating this work, so there are baths with fir salts and there’s an excellent soundtrack and i am only wearing super comfortable clothes.

extreme solitude feels good in a way that let’s me know how far my healing work has moved.

i am befriending trees!