Monthly Archive for December, 2016

gratitudes (public)

the births of isobel, meilu and soraya.
meeting and studying the work of ursula le guin.
finishing the emergent strategy book.
traveling abundantly.
increasing quality time at home and with my nibblings.
honest and loving interactions with family.
creating structures of love, relationship and friendship that feel liberating.
all things somatics, including the detroit local practice group.
creating hedgebrook detroit writing circle.
detroit healing by choice, the work and the beautiful circle of healers.
being in service to black liberation, just transitions and renewing right relationshio with the planet, increasing black investigative journalism and local movement building through my facilitation and coaching work.

in the culture:

the generosity and wildly different offerings of the knowles sisters
anohni
frank ocean: “the feeling deep down is good”
this is us
stranger things
this is the read
still processing
falsetto men: bon iver, radiohead, moses sumney, james blake, gallant
the collective grieving and honoring of so many icons of my childhood
the nonpolitical unpopular opinion thread
rogue one
moonlight!
queen sugar, atlanta, insecure
sugar shifting, whole life challenge, plank challenge and other collective health efforts
khadja bonet

i may add more. felt important to name some things.

be more of you (new year’s invitation and spell)

“we honor our ancestors by thriving.” – dallas goldtooth

it gets in our bones, fear. fear of ridicule and isolation, fear of the unknown, fear of past traumas being repeated.

fear that what we experience now is all there is.

fear of dying – individually, as a people, as movements.

the older we get, the more ways we watch people die – celebrities snatched up by the heart, economic and climate refugees swallowed by salt water, surprising accidents, death by state and/or other lynchings, drawn out battles with internal opponents, our perpetual global wars.

when the threats come we can shrink. as this year crash lands in a stand of burning trees, we have watched an unfolding of the unexpected against our radical will, a daunting removal of certain collectively held bubbles for those of us in us-based social movements.

we shrink in part by ignoring our own emotional breadth – our surprise, our grief, our mounting fears.

one of the ways we do our oppressors’ work for them is to deny our own complexity, wholeness, our right to exist; to attempt to shrink or disappear those parts of ourselves deemed inferior or undesirable to the mainstream. we can forget that WE shape the mainstream and all the alternative streams with our own lived assertions and divergence.

in the spirit of honoring change, taking the new year’s ritual as an opportunity to assert a collective behavioral commitment, i invite you to speak a spell aloud to yourself in the mirror until you believe yourself.

do this in the darkness of new year’s eve and anytime afterwards when such a spell is needed, including at the top of your lungs in the face of anyone even slightly challenging your right to be all of yourself.

remember the kinds of humans who transitioned this year – prince, bowie, gene wilder, prince be, phife, carrie fisher and debbie reynolds, george michael, leonard cohen, don mcvinney and so many others. in addition to your personal familial losses, take on these ancestors. be the fantastical and unique voice on whatever front lines you hold. hold your existence as sacred, drop into your post-compartmentalized whole self.

let this commitment to hold your wholeness as sacred inform your relationships, economics, fashion, food, and time use choices.

do not concede any of the ground you have gained on the path the liberation. be You with the volume on a million – all of your intersecting identities, cantankerous opinions and unorthodox pleasures. be unapologetically complex, a distinct individual in an interdependent network that thrives in part because of your unique offering.

do not shrink in the face of fear as we enter and live through a period of future-history that currently looks…foreboding at the least. instead, be more you.

thrive, at every level, as the living and joyful resistance towards the spreading blank, the nothingness, the sameness, the monoculture, the norm.

here is an offering towards the spell, feel free to use it verbatim, or remix, add onto, create your own:

i assert the sacredness of my whole self, as is.

i love myself with curiosity (as a student) instead of perfectionism.

i do not shrink inside of, or ignore, my fear – i move towards my longings with my fear as a part of my emotional wholeness.

i do not regress in my own expressions and assertions of liberation, i don’t take back anything that i have unveiled to be true in my politics. i recognize both the construct nature and consequential, experiential impacts of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, coping mechanisms, lived experiences, and so on. however whole i am today, i will fill that in in the face of fear.

i am kind in the heart of conflict – without betraying my beliefs.

i seek to understand the motivations of those who differ from me – without denying my full humanity.

i think my own thoughts and feel my own feelings, i cut through groupthink with love.

i have no reason to be ashamed of anything that has shaped me.

i grow movement and liberation through authentic connections and honest processes of alignment. i trade in urgency-based work for efficient, emotionally-honest work.

i relinquish my obsession with outcomes and with control.

i deepen into the call to shape a world that can hold all of me, knowing i can feel that world in my bones, even if i cannot yet fully comprehend or even imagine it.

i use the majority of my attention and words to generate joy, gratitude, positivity, solutions, pleasure, intimacy and liberation in myself and others.

in the neverending process of change, i will be more of myself.

solstice love letter to darkness

darkness
everyone lies about you, painting your face on tragedy

in the folds of the dark i find room for my dreams
i learn to swallow light, i forget to be separate
i listen to my life, i steal away home
i learn the tongue of skins
i fall in love with the neighbor child
wailing in the not-yet-morning

in the infinite dark i feel ancient again
a kiss full of hibernation
a wilderness brushing back against my fingers
a fist full of bravado
a fertile world within

darkness, in this pale time we need all of the complexity you call breath

pep talk for apocalyptic days

history is looping and retrograde today.

we can reflect on ourselves, and we can be disappointed and scared of what we are up to as a species.

and we can run from frontline to frontline with our attention and money, with our bodies as warriors and/or healing resources.

we can measure the power of our work in the backlash we produce. we can view each wild grab for power as a direct response to our lifelong assertion that we are and will be free.

and we may need to look away, because its so much, too much, to take in.

make it to the next breath, the next step, the next day. however you do that, affirm your survival.

when i read the news, when i look around i feel i am in a long line of fools carrying the soul of the world in pieces, in overstuffed mismatched luggage, along a tight rope, over borg replicator sauron darth voldemort’s mouth.

but it is the soul of the world.

and we hold it.

so i look down, i place my attention on my next move. i am focusing on who i love and want to build futures with, extending kindness and connection.

i am letting go of anything that can be released.

my big vision relies on small acts of liberation in every intimate, direct space i am in. in this vast/massive scale time, let’s focus on our own next steps and make them the most radical loving honest steps we can take.

mantra: attention/work/money where my mouth is, mouth where my heart is, heart where the people are – shape the future.

love y’all.

how to grieve for strangers

feel the grief. let the grief change you.

that’s enough. when there is great and unimaginable suffering happening – to strangers, individuals or masses – its ok, its necessary, to grieve.

when the suffering is manmade, we cannot be satisfied with knee jerk politically appropriate reactions.

we feel the need to state blame aloud before we give ourselves permission to feel the loss. who did this? who did this?

being human, being american, it almost always comes back to us in some way. this deepens the grief. at least, it should.

our crises proliferate, fatal games are played with our tax dollars, in our names, and the grief accumulates. the temptation to withdraw, to find a reason not to feel, is logical. but turning your eyes away won’t alleviate the truth of culpability, it will come find all of us out.

so tomorrow, may the scars of this devastation remind us that our goal can never be reform. we must consistently foment (r)evolution, we must “grow our souls”, and collectively outgrow the trappings of supremacy/enemy.

but right now, you don’t need an excuse for the tears, for however you grieve. you don’t have to debate historical paradigms you just googled or develop a crystal clear analysis to justify your grief – the destruction of whole families, of a city full of lives, a civilization, is grief for all of us.

one mode of grief that let’s me know i am changing is taking action. here are two actions i am taking:

1. Donate to Arab Resource & Organizing Center (monthly donations – the crises are long-term and so is the work): https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/AROC

2. make phone calls:

*** PLEASE SHARE WIDELY ***

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: CALL IN FOR #ALEPPO
(from spenta kandawalla, slightly edited call to action from a version compiled by Mohamed Chakmakchi which was adapted from: https://underthejasmine.wordpress.com/…/call-to-action-cal…/)

as we speak, civilians are being executed by the #assad regime in east aleppo & all over #syria. there are reports of hospital staff being executed, families being set on fire, mass executions and activists are saying their final goodbyes on social media. do we really want to live in a world where this is allowed to happen?

we need an immediate ceasefire now, protection of civilians, the lifting of the siege, airdrops of aid, freeing prisoners, an end to the war and for all parties, especially assad & his regime, to be held accountable for the crimes they have perpetrated.

inaction is complicity. we have to act now if we are to save the 100 000 civilians trapped inside besieged east aleppo. please call or email your MP, the UN, as well as russian & chinese embassies or consultates (since russia & china recently vetoed a ceasefire agreement put forward in the UN & iran has forces on the ground ). let’s flood their phone lines.

i urge you to call your senate members, call the russian, chinese & iranian consulates & the UN, and do whatever you can to end this.

California:
Boxer, Barbara –
(202) 224-3553 Email: www.boxer.senate.gov/?p=shareyourviews
Feinstein, Dianne –
(202) 224-3841 Email: www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

Email Obama here:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

consulates:
russian consulate: (415) 928-6878
chinese consulate: 415) 852-5900
iranian consulate: 1-877-917-7705

SAMPLE LANGUAGE:

“Dear Mr. President,
The atrocities that are unfolding in Eastern Aleppo, Syria are tremendously troubling and mark a new negligence on behalf of the international community and the United States. Reports from individuals inside besieged areas that entire groups of people are being massacred, blocked humanitarian corridors, and endless and indiscriminate bombing of entire neighborhoods are flooding my news feed.
The Assad regime has more than crossed your “red line” since the chemical massacres, and it has been met with ambivalence and complete silence on our part. Your administration did not face this, in hopes of finding a diplomatic solution. But, Mr. President, we cannot ignore this today. We are well beyond your previous aspirations for a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict and I understand that, but that does not mean we should continue this administration’s policy that has allowed the regime to go unchecked with their systematic killing.
I urge you, will all my heart, that you immediately denounce the actions of the regime and the Russian government and take the necessary steps to ensure the safe removal of the remaining Syrian citizens. Put an end to the massacres, to the indiscriminate bombings, to the regime’s continued “kneel or starve” campaign. Please, I beg you, that you do not ignore the atrocities we have allowed to continue and escalate. Our humanity depends on it.
Sincerely,”

a prayer for aleppo

praying fails some nights

the current day eviscerates
the horizon
the future ends for
people who we can see
and we can feel
but will never know
will never touch

to live is to witness
to witness is to suffer
to live is to suffer
we witness you suffer

but
prayer is our revolution

believing from memory
we offer you,
folded up, from palm to palm
this miracle:

may you see tomorrow
may you feel love
may you know justice
may you taste freedom

lesson from snow

sometimes contemplating the incomprehensible helps me continue. there is a foot of snow covering every surface outside and still dropping from the sky, not just here but all over the region. and each individual snowflake of the gazillions covering the city is unique. i can’t really, fully grasp this.

and yet this is us – millions asserting a future that doesn’t seem possible now. winter is a concept, manifested by multitudes. liberation is a concept. we can transform the landscape with our multitudes too. by being different, yes, and moving in the same direction.

trust your actions now, not to be right or wrong, but to be passionate and honest. be utterly unique. be exacting. be uncompromising about your right to exist, right here.

sign everything.
make the phone calls.
engage in harder conversations.
be ungovernable.
make action and safety plans.
secure your communications.

and.

cultivate joy and generosity.
resist oppression, but keep your attention on each other.
love abundantly.

as octavia taught us:

Respect God (amb note: God is Change)
Pray working.
Pray learning,
planning,
doing.
Pray creating,
teaching,
reaching.
Pray working.
Pray to focus your thoughts,
still your fears,
strengthen your purpose.
Respect God.
Shape God.
Pray working.

unpopular: shamelessly blogging about a facebook post

even though i once promised myself i wouldn’t be the kind of writer who wrote about experiences i had on social media, i am about to reflect on a positive facebook experience. because what you pay attention to grows.

you may think i am about to reflect on how rebecca solnit is diligently veering president-elect grump’s clown car, vaguely heading towards the white house, off the road. yes, i am feeling embers of hope, and doing all the actions she and taj james post about.

but i am writing about something else, my other form of resistance: putting my attention where i want it.

which, it turns out, is on other peoples’ toilet roll practices. over, under, available, in arm’s reach, recycled, etc.

and the vocal prowess of mary j blige, alicia keys, michael jackson and others who make/made a living singing.

and monogamy vs polygamy vs relationship anarchy.

and if respectful difference of opinion about the magical unicorn beam of perfection king beyoncé is possible, or political.

and how gross (or exquisite) avocados, fruit, cats, kale, human-pet french kissing, rimming, body odor, gas and so many other life choices are.

so satisfying.

this is the prompt that was posted by lauren bacon, who got it from a friend:

“What is a non-political opinion you have that is likely to be VERY unpopular?”

people reposted it. i have been reading the thread of responses on mine and several other people’s. today i asked again with a focus on sex, love, and relationships. there are thousands of responses, many of which made me actually laugh with my body and mouth to the point of tears. i didn’t know i needed it til i was in the comment thread enjoying it.

here’s what i came away with (things i distinctly do NOT usually feel on social media):

people are awesome and funny and can learn together in a public space across all kinds of identities.

having different opinions can be really activating and fun.

vulnerability is so much more interesting than anything else.

there is an elegant place for, and art to, pettiness and shade…too often, simply being mean or negative is rewarded as #petty or #shady. when its done well it delights everyone (eh, most?) involved.

we judge each other! but often not from a technical place of right or wrong, though we use that language. we judge each other because reality is a myth we have weaponized. what we actually live in is a multitude of perceptions that really can’t see outside themselves. ourselves, our small self that needs others, our small movements that need to grow.

only listening can open the door to the world beyond ourselves.

we long for less groupthink and more honesty!

i share this because i want this type of social media experience to proliferate: to celebrate difference and distinction, to realize there is enough room for the multitudes.

and…for the record?

img_1589

p.s. this just in: works for dinner conversations too ??

how do we remember we are miracle?

we have to become more worthy
of our own skins
we have lost the miraculous gaze
we only give it to the newborn
but everyone is utterly unique
amongst the entire galaxy

what does it do to my analysis
to look beyond conjecture and costume
and know this flesh as one that
shivers and bristles and yearns
and the bravado is learned behavior
and the words are hand-me-down

and the sharp theory is a weapon
for moving through the day
propelling ourselves into the unknown
others use sports, statistics on breath,
or aggregation of labor and land,
or escape to a crowded beach one week of the year

how do we shape the future without planning it
learn to feel the present without rejecting
the divergent landscapes of a day
that breaks our hearts and tapes them back together
promising us that the heart can heal, if, if…
but how do we remember we are miracle?

don’t patronize us/them (from oakland to standing rock)

on saturday i learned of a warehouse fire in oakland that, as of this writing, has claimed 33 lives.

on sunday i learned that there was a victory in the fight against the dakota access pipeline – the army corps of engineers made a decision in our favor.

the emotional high and low of the weekend has been massive.

something i have noticed, many times before this weekend (especially around the movement for black lives work) but in sharp thudding pounding obviousness this weekend, is how patronizing we get with each other in the name of rigorous social justice. like mansplaining, but it’s not only men doing it…

for some reason, we patronize and condescend to each other in response to news in our community.

shortly after i saw the news out of oakland, when i was franticly bouncing from page to page of my oakland loves and missing everyone, i already saw comments from people about how unsafe these kinds of spaces are. and why aren’t artists demanding better work/live spaces?

and then as the news of the army corps of engineers decision was being announced by indigenous leaders on the ground at standing rock, amongst victory screams and tears, people were already saying ‘but, nope, no, not a victory,” and so on.

i wanted to take a moment to highlight this behavior as one of the ways that myths of superiority play out in real time, amongst people who don’t think of themselves as racist/sexist/classist/ableist or practicing supremacy.

as a virgo/first child this is a major piece of my own life work – thinking i know better than anyone else. i am unlearning.

so: we don’t know better than the artists who were in that warehouse on friday night. they made the ‘choice’ of freedom and community over (or while also) reaching for a safety most of us have been priced out of. because warehouse parties are a gathering place for those of us who are outside the systems in a million ways, for a million justifiable reasons. and warehouse parties are one of the places where we know each others’ faces and unique styles, we look for or become our favorite dancers, we wait for the dj who knows exactly how to liberate us from the week we had and remind us we are alive and in this moment we are in community and we are free. i found parts of myself on narrow warehouse stairs in oakland, i left parts of my pain on dance floors in warehouses in every city i have ever lived in. those choices, those risks, were a part of my survival as i found the communities that wouldn’t ask me to leave any of myself at the door.

we need to learn, together, how to grieve or respect the space for the grief of others in our community – without using it as a moment to educate those who are grieving. about anything.

i think we buy into the rapid river pace of social media and think we only have five minutes to say everything that needs to be said about a topic. this is not true. we have to protect the time and space needed to grieve.

and: we don’t know better than the multitude of tribal leaders on the frozen ground at standing rock. indigenous communities are well aware, after 500 years of dealing with this country’s genocidal campaigns, not to let down any guard. when we see them telling us the news of this victory step with tears in their eyes, we need to check any part of ourselves that wants to talk down to them and say, “you are wrong, because…”

kandi mossett said this in her facebook live video, which i am posting below and recommend watching: ““we have survived genocide. for 500 years we have not changed our story – you have to care for the earth so she can care for us.” and tokata iron eyes, a 13-year-old who lives at standing rock, said “i feel like i have my future back!”

they don’t say these things because they lack context or information or misunderstand the patterns of this country and need non-native people to educate them. they say these things with lifelong experiences of being in this battle for the planet, against nations.

the victories are few but they nourish all of us, help us to understand the potential of intersectional peoples’ power. we have to protect the time and space needed to celebrate.

this weekend i have found myself all over the emotional map, and that condescending tone has felt so loud and disrespectful. comment threads expose that social justice is guilty of the same anti-intellectualism rampant in the u.s. media right now. we know so little, but rather than admit that, we cobble together stances, little barricades to cover how scared we are to feel. we are still rushing to be right and know the most. intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. we need to turn up collective rigor around facts, yes, but we also need to hone our emotional intelligence.

if we were making massive decisions based on facts, we would already have a global commitment to a just transition and every single life would matter in practice and action. instead we live in a world of emerging patterns, human flaws and miracles, crises and ecstasies. and we share this planet with (and internalize the beliefs and practices of) criminal colonial power brokers who bend the law in ways the masses are not allowed to.

what holds us together is community and story.

stop telling communities they have their story wrong.

examine what it is in you that needs to counter things you hear from people directly impacted by oppression.

grieve with oakland. celebrate with standing rock. and keep doing your own work.

kandi mossett live:

tokata iron eyes with naomi klein: