Monthly Archive for July, 2013

dropping into body

spent the day today driving down the coast of california, hiking, dancing, laughing. i have never regretted saying yes to a road trip in my life, it is sweet to my body to journey at this pace, touching the trees and rocks along the way, watching the sun set over the vast pulsing ocean.

this last week i was in the second weekend of my somatics teacher training. i love being a student in this way. i will write lots about it sometime soon, but for now i am just sitting in gratitude.

i feel my body like a returned homeland.
i am dropping into my body as a falling in love: thrilling, learning, easy, impossible, there, there, there, here.
glimpses of my wholeness soften me.

the longing i have always had for a world where wholeness is celebrated and encouraged and possible feels closer as i expand to be in my whole body, to feel home in myself, in relationship to others, as something small in the face of the massive and mysterious, as something which belongs, which could not ever be apart.

one of the teachers shared a quote from shuji maruyama, founder of aikido: ‘you cannot defeat me, i am one with the universe.’ this release of the possibility of loss or failure, stepping into alignment with the universe, is the aspiration in me right now, for myself, for this species of which i am a part.

tomorrow i land in l.a. for another octavia butler event, its exciting and educational to continue this work. i will also get to meet the founder of the octavia e butler legacy network! it’s an exciting and appropriate time for this octavia renaissance.

learning to respond to the world as a non-organizer

as usual, so much is happening.

in the past couple of weeks the voting rights act was overturned, trayvon martin’s known murderer was released, detroit declared bankruptcy…these are three of roughly a billion things to respond to.

my response is rarely surprise. it is often: right, that is what happens next in this scenario, in this system. and the need for self and collective love and liberation persists.

the other day the news of detroit declaring bankruptcy came down and i went through a series of responses.

so what?
surviving is detroit’s default.
we make it look fresh.
i love detroit.

how did this happen?
can people actually survive on any less here?
i don’t want to even try and become an instant expert on city bankruptcy. just like i didn’t want to become an instant expert on emergency financial management.

but then how can i imagine a viable solution?
…i look at the cultural wealth of this city, don’t they see it?
…i reflect on what capitalism allows in terms of stratification – how many people are succeeding in this city, off the development of this city? don’t they see?

and how do i respond as myself, as a person?
i love detroit. as she is, has been, and will be.

(hands over ears)

the facts are on our side right now. but the facts alone don’t seem to line up with when and how communities rage and riot, resist, or renew.
…i don’t want to give the actions of people who don’t care about detroit so much of my attention.

i love detroit.

the other night, sitting with some of my favorite detroit minds reflecting on this moment, i realized part of my resistance to emotions around the emergency manager and the bankruptcy is rooted in residual guilt about knowing i am not an organizer, and my growing/ongoing questions about other ways to show up.

recently someone from outside detroit questioned me on why i wasn’t organizing responses and direct actions here, with all that’s going on. i struggled to respond without feeling defensive, dropping into what i know to be true for myself and for the city.

first, detroiters are responding. hearing of some of the efforts, i am reminded of the AMP principle: “Wherever there is a problem, there are already people acting on the problem in some fashion. Understanding those actions is the starting point for developing effective strategies to resolve the problem.”

amplify the efforts happening, yes. maybe more support is needed. but trust that there are passionate and strategic responses afoot.

but second, i am not an organizer.

i have tried various approaches to organizing. the way i was developed as an organizer was to learn tons of information, tactics and theory, and based on that data to form an opinion, a strategy, and wage critique through my words and actions. whether that waging was effective or not (and i can humbly say it often wasn’t) it was righteous, backed up by fact.

i have seen this approach work gloriously for folks who had a nature of warrior, or researcher. i literally don’t have the natural skill set of an organizer (my extroversion comes in spurts; my memory is inconsistent, numbers free and creative; my vulnerability thrives in written form; i really prefer to be alone more of the time than most people know; approaching strangers gives me anxiety).

also, my theory of change (we must transform ourselves to transform the world) has me focused on internalizing the site of transformation. i am working to evolve beyond the capitalism, competition and individualism within myself, my family, my relationships, my writing, my reach.

and as y’all know, i have not thrived in the burn-out culture of organizing, which i acknowledge is the state of most of the movement now.

i have been building a life of things i am called to do, and love. i am a facilitator and a writer, a creative practitioner. a doula. a coach. i am a lover, a budding philosopher. a hybrid. i excel in the inter-nodal work, the intermediary work.

if there is anyone i place on a pedestal it is organic organizers, the kind of people i regularly support through facilitation and coaching, who are out in the world knocking on doors, approaching strangers, spending the majority of their waking hours in group processes to strengthen community. i respect and admire them, i need them to succeed.

i know i am not them.
they are better people than me in many ways that matter to me.

but i also love me.

my curiosity is peaked by conversations more than news, by emotions more than policies, by relationship and healing more than long-term strategies. and i don’t think this makes me less serious, less strategic, or anti-intellectual – i think am just oriented towards other types of intelligence.

i deeply believe in collective action. i don’t believe everyone in that collective has to be an organizer. i think the more clearly everyone seeks the roles in society/family/community that give them pleasure and fulfillment, the more effective and creative any collective action, resistance and living will be.

so i am learning, honing my ways of responding as an artist. as an emergent strategy facilitator, i am focusing on healing strategies, relationship depth and emotional growth at the collective level.

this means when injustice happens in a major ways, it brings me to questions about the emotional realities of communities i live in, love and support.

these are the kinds of questions i sit with:

what can i create, write, build, birth, hold, make easy?

what is in our hearts that makes us internalize oppression, resist, or create alternatives?

how much heartache can a people take before we walk away from participating in oppressive systems?

how many dreams must be deferred before a community withers – and what is it that breathes new life in…anger? love? some perfect juxtaposition of the two?

how do we give our all to the creation and practice of ancient, alternative and new systems within the shell of the current…knowing they could be smashed like the acorn community in parable of the talents?

or is that the inevitable point, that we must build new systems without attachment, growing philosophies and practicing belief systems grander than our current endeavors, discovering new ideas about ourselves, literally new futures, from within?

rather than fighting for the political/physical place we are, how do feel/find the place that can hold and love us?

it’s speculative fiction but i suspect that what we long for might occupy the same physical space we are in, but is a parallel emotional world determined by how we show up.

emerging: a soundtrack

tonight was the first night of professional development training for my writing fellowship. i feel like i (imaginally) remember i did when it occurred to me that i was crawling and walking was possible.

it’s terrifying.

i have spent many years becoming aware of my military brat’s honed work to land, adapt, please, and leave. it will always be a part of me – how does this system work? as a new person how will i survive this place? how can i engage deeply when my external world will most likely need to change completely again? can i please this place, be loved here?

i have been facilitating, being a doula, holding space, witnessing and supporting my best understanding of transformation for as long as i can remember.

my artist self has never been very interested in pleasing others. creating has been a healing, largely private pleasure and practice and release. unaccountable, but transformative nonetheless.

along the sidelines of my life i have created piles of content. songs and melodies never finished or recorded, tapes of me singing snippet songs, stories never shared, sketches of clothing never made, half-written blogs, thumbnails of story ideas, volumes of dreams and ideas.

for a decade, via email, then friendster, then here, the thing i have consistently produced is this blog. i learned as i was listening to others’ works that the kind of writing i do here is memoir and personal essay.

oh.

i feel brand new.

and folks seem to understand the ideas for science fiction and social justice, too.

and everyone has smiles on their faces but i feel like i just landed on death ground: “Confront them with the advantage, but do not explain the danger.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War (The Nine Kinds of Ground) (premise of death ground theory) – i suspect the danger is losing a sacred part of my life in an attempt to make it the whole of my life.

but it could be the whole of my life!!

something very young and core in me is trembling and totally awake.

it’s marvelous.

soundtrack:

“point yourself in the direction of your dreams…and make your transition,” underground resistance

anything could happen, ellie goulding

“i’m not scared anymore of being something great“, monica blaire (starts at minute 2, but intro stuff is magic too. to improve your life watch to the very end. liberation.)

unspeakable joy, kim english

SHOPPING LIST AND SCHEDULE FOR JUICE CLEANSE (reposting)

(posted this on my tumblr when my blog was down, and then realized it’s not searchable, so reposting here for myself!)

i’m doing a combination of master cleanse and raw juices. i’ve done the master cleanse before and found it very powerful, but adding the raw juices 2-3 times a day was recommended to me by a nutritionist for not just cleansing but recalibrating the body towards fruits and vegetables.

I thought I’d share the shopping list for my 10 day juice cleanse. i bought everything as locally and organically as was available to me. it was $110, though I will have to reup the greens as they are the most perishable item and I want/need them fresh.

veggies and fruits:
kale, 3 bunches
spinach, 3 large bunches
collards, 1 large bunch
parsley, 1 bunch
beets, 7 medium with greens still attached
radishes, 1 bunch with greens still attached
carrots, 6 bunches with greens attached
cucumbers, 4 large
turnip, 1 large
ginger, equivalent of 3 large pieces of root…I LOVE ginger
oranges, 1 large bag
apples, 2 medium bags
plums, 5
grapefruit, 1 bag
lemons, 2 bags (about 14 lemons)
limes, 1 bag (about 10 limes)
pineapples, 2

teas:
alvita ginger-peppermint
alvita dandelion root (I couldn’t find actual dandelion greens, will look for it when I reup greens)
triple leaf super slimming (drink at night to help body move toxins out)
triple leaf detox

also:
coconut water, 4 large bottles
Lakewood organic pomegranate and cranberry juice blends
grade b maple syrup
cayenne pepper
sea salt (for a salt flush on days 5-6)

here’s how my schedule looks for this cleanse:
in the morning i make make master cleanse concentrate with 3 lemons, 2 tbsp maple syrup, cayenne pepper to taste and hot water. sometimes I add a tea bag to this for variety. set aside to cool.

then i make a green juice (kale or spinach, parsley, cucumber, ginger, apples, lemon or lime)

drink a mason jar full of water

mix 1/3 of master cleanse concentrate with coconut water or regular water and drink throughout the day, refilling the mix from the morning concentrate.

make a hot tea at midday, and keep drinking regular water along with mix.

in the late afternoon I make an orange juice (carrots, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, ginger) or a red juice (beets, apples, radishes, plums, pineapple) adding in bits of other things for variety, like a touch of the turnip, etc.

then return to master cleanse mix for the evening.

before bed i make a cup of the super slimming tea (i also have get regular, which also has senna in it) and drink another full jar of water.

it’s a lot of drinking, it’s really important for me to stay hydrated, and there is a real burst of energy after the juices which i counter in for scheduling yoga, jo, work meetings and social time.

in terms of waste, any part of the veggies i don’t use i freeze for future veggie broth, and the rest of it is great compost.

hope this is useful for any others out there looking to cleanse sustainably. if you have feedback or other tips, please share!

Keep going Trayvon

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

keep going Trayvon don’t look back here,
nothing here for you but our stranger’s/
familiar’s love
twisted tonight to a grief.
go on home,
this place doesn’t know how to love you.
axe.

i didn’t watch the trial.

i watched loved ones watch the trial, and i wondered: what is right action? where should i put my attention?

i focused on releasing Trayvon from being a story or statistic, and then loving Rachel, sorry to know their names in this way.

(from the moment you were made to feel afraid, there was no justice to be had for you.)

i love many children i know to be irreplaceable. if anything happened to them, if they were hurt, if they died, afraid, i know this country’s justice could never appease their ferocious spirits, or mine.

i hope that we wouldn’t have to rely on the system that set them up for death to deliver their justice.

not guilty. hmmm.

the peace we are expected to hold in these moments is some mandela coming out of prison with a smile peace, some truth and reconciliation amongst piles of skulls in rwanda peace, some continental cultural genocide-survivalist peace.

…something not matured in me yet honestly.

…something I am growing, because I suspect both justice and evolution are tied up in that sort of massive constant practiced inner peace.

…something seemingly required to be a parent in this country, which thinks so little of our children’s lives that we shoot them, accidentally and on purpose.

(it was the familiarity of assumed powerlessness that i felt when i heard you’d died, and saw your beautiful face, in that order.)

i think about all the people expressing their anger on social media and wonder, do we miss the opportunity of our collective fury as we sit alone together? or do we build a beautiful pattern for feeling too much?

(wouldn’t riots be an appropriate second line for you though? how can we sing you home while your killer picks up his weapon again?)

the riot that comes is inside our hearts, on our streets, in our words and music and art. it is keriah writ large, our torn garment of grief for centuries of sitting shiva.

(i sit still in the dark with your name on my lips. i light candles and sage and send the qualities of the four elements to your parents.)

we keep seeking something greater than our suffering to share. ‘we must love each other, and protect each other’ as assata taught us, fiercely, outside of boundaries, borders, bars, laws and the myth of safety – ‘we have nothing to lose’…

(you are long gone.
i’m tired of falling for ghosts.)

i hear coyote wailing in the distance and it sounds like grief. i wake up thinking of blood on the leaves, and bloodletting. then i feel it all over me. i slap at my body, but i know i’m defenseless.

Relinquish the safe territory of us and them

So much happens in this world because we can shirk responsibility – ‘them’ as a concept is such a relief, such a gift. ‘They’ are destroying the world, hoarding resources, dominating space, etc.

In that scenario ‘we’ are generally the righteous force, advancing deeply accountable visions, constantly. If we weren’t thwarted by ‘them’ there would be liberation and a perfection of balanced power.

It is so easy to go on in this way, holding the lines we inherited of mainstream and margin, powerful and powerless, bad and good, friend and enemy, divided, divided.

I just finished facilitating the Building Equity and Alignment Initiative. Environmental justice groups, national environmental organizations and environmental funders came together for an historic set of conversations for Mother Earth. Once again, I have glimpsed another way, a way that gives me hope we can actually reach a next phase of humanity that is worthy of both earth and the miracle of our brief lives.

I used to think transformation was mostly about people stepping into our own power, and I still believe that is a major foundational part of it: ‘presuming our power, not our powerlessness.’

But I am understanding more and more that it also has to do with how much we can see ourselves as one organism at the species level. That we as a species are learning how to bring justice, love and future generations into the center of our existence.

Some parts of the organism already remember this, never forgot it. Other parts are awakening to it, other parts sleep yet. If we are able to see it is all of us, an experience of being whole is within reach. The heart does not rail against the fingers, she feeds them. Amongst humans I see that sustenance come when we see each other’s humanity and possibility instead of focusing on each other’s mistakes and limitations, when we move to stand with each other, instead of holding the space between us as more sacred than our shared work.

People who appreciate the miraculous create futures full of miracles, generating more possibility – not in spite of other people, but because of connection.

It means we relinquish the safe territory of us and them, and walk onto the dynamic creation ground together. We endure the imperfections of each other until we reach understanding, shared vision and laughter. We pick up the work of future building, no less complex because we all carry it, but lighter, easier to sustain.

What we withhold of ourselves becomes our prison…that includes what we withhold of our need to connect, of our need to see our interdependence on this home planet. But when we see each other and are seen, hear each other and are heard, move each other and are moved, there is a chance for love, and for liberation.

We long for this, as a survival wisdom. We are learning to be of each other.

lessons from a transformative breakup: how to find new ways be in each other’s lives and not split the communities we love or the movements we support*

Try every single thing you can to make it work, and articulate the effort you are making to each other. Even things you aren’t sure will work – try EVERYthing. this will matter later.

Love yourself.

Don’t let fear make you settle for something you know isn’t working.

Be honest. The harder things are to say, the more necessary they are to say.

Commit to being in each other’s lives, and doing whatever is needed to ensure that in the long term.

…this may include being far away from each other (physically, and in social media, and in all communications) in the short term.

Set boundaries around communication and stick to them. This includes how often to communicate, what is ok to talk about, who it’s ok to talk to about the process, and permission to express feelings. You can identify a new boundary while in communication as you go along if something hurts or doesn’t feel right.

Don’t tell anyone else until you are ready.

Be intentional about who you tell, what you say, and letting people know what is and isn’t ok to talk or ask about. Write a letter to your community if need be. That way your true story trumps gossip and bullshit.

Feel your feelings.
Feel your feelings!
Feel your feelings.

Gather trusted support around you and lean on them as much as necessary.

Together, tell the story of your relationship to a trusted friend. What happened, what was great, what did you learn? Be as honest as possible, and take the time to tell the whole thing.

Don’t judge each other’s choices, feelings or processes. You can’t actually know what is going on for them. Take responsibility for your own feelings and act accordingly.

When you feel ready, dream together about the new relationship you want to have with each other.

As you come into new, post-breakup relationship with each other, watch for your patterns, and take it slow.

Celebrate your maturity and growth and ability to be present and do this.

Invite others to celebrate and applaud the efforts.

When you feel ready, enjoy the friendship you made possible together.

* please note: all of this is in the case of a generally awesome, healthy relationship that doesn’t quite work. not an abusive one that you may need to actually completely leave quickly.)

bombs bursting in air

bang.

for well over a week now it has been fireworks season in detroit.

we schedule our official freedom fireworks to align with windsor’s celebration of canada day, for budgetary reasons i believe. then, from whenever that happens to be (usually a week or two before july 4) until independence day, fireworks are going off basically constantly.

bang.

this year the official fireworks were on monday, june 24. and it was quite beautiful from my vantage point on my friend dream’s fabulous rooftop. i had fresh watermelon whiskey cocktails and didn’t think too much on it.

but now, as i sit here reading the warmth of other suns and listening to laura mvula and generally having a beautiful black evening at home, it sounds like a war zone outside the window.

bang.

which i suppose is the most appropriate way for this day to sound.

bang.

it is a celebration of america, after all.

my mind is not still. i sit here thinking of the places, domestic and abroad, where explosions are not for fun or beauty. i think of all the places where bombs and other weapons made by the US create fatal thunder and flash bang lightning, a great jaw-dropping show of violent life or death all the time.

bang. bangbangbangbang.

i think of the last bright lights aiyana and trayvon and oscar and so many others saw.

i think of the lights and sounds in egypt today. coup fireworks.

i wonder what drones sound like, if they kill with any light or wonder.

bang.

i wonder who first saw beauty in bombs exploding.

one of my parallel selves, the ex-pat singing jazz in paris, twinges at me, ghost-limb-like. and i wonder if there is any place in the world where i might never hear these sounds again, nor feel this involuntary attempt of my intellect to shrink inside my skin.

bangbangbang.

is the hardest work of the american revolutionary to sit in the violence holding vision?

bang.

i need a meditation to lull myself to calm:

may the longing for war be sated in my species
may i learn to experience awe with no reference to death
may i retain my childlike wonder at light
may i sleep without fear

bang.

principles to live by

the allied media conference was last week. it is a restorative, reenergizing space for me each year. not just because i get to do the most fun set of sessions ever (octavia butler and emergent strategy book club, emergent strategy tool build, sabbatical your life, etc), but because it is an amazing thing to be in principle with so many others.

the allied media principles emerged through the iterative process of people coming to the conference, and being in relationship year round to grow the ideas of the conference. it amazes me now how much i believe these principles, how much i reference and practice them in my daily life.

in practice, living in principle looks like being intentional with the energy you take in, put out, build up and release. what you give attention to grows. in community it looks like self-love, personal and collective power, and one generative space after another.

it requires you to open to the seemingly simple idea that you are powerful. for most of us this is so radical, if we take it in to the root of ourselves it can and will transform everything.

here, once again (with my favorites bolded), are the allied media principles:

We are making an honest attempt to solve the most significant problems of our day.

We are building a network of people and organizations that are developing long-term solutions based on the immediate confrontation of our most pressing problems.

Wherever there is a problem, there are already people acting on the problem in some fashion. Understanding those actions is the starting point for developing effective strategies to resolve the problem, so we focus on the solutions, not the problems.

We emphasize our own power and legitimacy.

We presume our power, not our powerlessness.

We are agents, not victims.

We spend more time building than attacking.

We focus on strategies rather than issues.

The strongest solutions happen through the process, not in a moment at the end of the process.

The most effective strategies for us are the ones that work in situations of scarce resources and intersecting systems of oppression because those solutions tend to be the most holistic and sustainable.

Place is important. For the AMC, Detroit is important as a source of innovative, collaborative, low-resource solutions. Detroit gives the conference a sense of place, just as each of the conference participants bring their own sense of place with them to the conference.

We encourage people to engage with their whole selves, not just with one part of their identity.

We begin by listening.