my mom though

it’s a couple of days after mother’s day, but right now is when i feel flooded with gratitude to my mom.

she is kind, and fiercely loyal.
she is infinitely generous, and leads with love.
she is patient and shines light on the best in the people she loves.

i am forty, and i am happy.
i know what it feels like to be loved unconditionally.

she shows up.
she is curious.
she believes me, believes us her daughters, believes everyone she meets who needs some mothering.
she prays for everyone we’ve ever loved.

we are friends. comrades.

every day. i love my mama.

don’t call it a comeback: white throated rail!

“The Aldabra white-throated rail, a flightless bird that lives on its namesake atoll in the Indian Ocean, doesn’t look like anything special at first glance. But the small bird has big bragging rights, because it has effectively evolved into existence twice after first going extinct some 136,000 years ago.”
Vice magazine

why does this story make me tear up and exhale? why does it activate all the science fictional hope in me? what is this flutter of earth adoration?

perhaps extinction all along has been a way of the earth tucking into herself the precious secrets which we refuse to handle with care.

perhaps she is saying, “if you want a simple life, if your tendency is towards the rudimentary, than i will pull into my body all of the most complex beautiful things. you butcher down and extract from me my magnificent wooden breathy life, and then cover me in boxes, flat concrete, boxes full of rows and boredom and lost hours. so i let my dream (and the bones) of the dodo bird hold safely near my heart – i don’t make permanence. that’s the only unnatural thing, you know, that which attempts to defy change.”

when i hear the news of your revolution, white throated rail, i wonder if you’ve only came to tell us that it is possible – not to not fly, to be defined as flightless (can you imagine making such an epic return and then every story about you includes the thing you don’t do?) – but to remind us that we are the only species who limits our creative wonders.

i think so many humans are terrified/hopeful/terrified to consider that she who made everything will remember how to make the world again, after us, after this foolish phase of us. or maybe we, too, will go and come again, more humble from the evolution years in the dirt?

i feel for the white-throated rail in my bones, the tasmanian tiger in my lungs, my black rhino skin, my mammoth heart. what i mean is: i wonder if i too carry the essence of forgotten miracles!

Lizzo, Goddess

i remember when someone sent me the @fatyonce account on instagram, how fantastical and amusing and nourishing it was to me just to see that dreamed up intersection of confidence and flesh. last night i got to see something even better – a real life thick diva in a stunning sexy little outfit, with thick dancers, singing and seducing like the love child of Aretha and Mae West.

Lizzo is a phenomenon. she has come to heal us and all we have to do is unleash the love in our hearts.

i saw her in Chicago with my sister and the incomparable PG (who i have to shout out for the persistence of organizing me to make it to this show, making sure i didn’t forget to buy a ticket, or lose track of time, or need a ride – dreamy woe). we pulled up and the line to get in was wrapped around three blocks. and it was almost all white people, which i’ll admit was a surprise! like…y’all know my friend? who sings about my body and my heartbreak and my life? intriguing!

got inside and the only seats left were in the rafters. it didn’t matter, i’d have climbed a mountain. and Lizzo is big enough to fill the world. she came out and started with “Cuz I Love You” and the vocals were massive. the energy was expansive. and it just built and built until we were frenzied and free.

what most excited me about the concert, though, was the preaching and healing Lizzo does between hits. she sits down and gets vulnerable. she let’s us know her songs are carved from her heartbreak, her longing, her lessons. she tells us there’s nothing wrong with us. that we are all survivors. we all know about Jerome! we all deserve to be proud of ourselves, of all our small and big transformations. to love ourselves enough to allow our full emotional range, including bad days, including tears.

Lizzo stands on the stage like i once watched Nina Simone do, stands and accepts the worship she knows she deserves. she invites us to heal her with loving, and then she has us gather the love from the room and place it in our hearts and promises to be with us when we need someone to remind us that we are 100% that Bitch.

i’m a believer. i want this holy word for all of you. pay her, support her, glorify her.

and i’m casting spells for her health, for her deep sleep, for her to be thoroughly met by all of her lovers, for her to have time to bask in the divinity she’s claimed for herself.

surviving trolls

in the past few months, i have had a chance to talk with a number of people who have had scary/awful/overwhelming interactions with mass trolling online. kind of an informal patterning, something my heart is wanting to understand.

(this curiosity might be because each book i release gains me more exposure and i see that what generally accompanies exposure is a white walker world war z speedy zombie phenomenon of trolls and haters. it also might be because i am always thinking about how we heal at a collective level, how we bring our attention to our wholeness, including, but not obsessed with, our fractures.)

sometimes the trolling was intimate – someone close to the person, who went public with a private beef, gathering negative public attention to attempt a victory, or punishment. often in the name of some vigilante justice.

in other instances, it was trolling from a distance – someone challenged by the work or ideas of a stranger, or an aspect of identity. and then that stranger deciding to attack the person in as many degrading ways as possible: sharing private communications, building a case about the contradictions, hypocrisy, or something else that often reduces the person to a cliche.

this post isn’t about the conditions that create the dregs of society that are trolls. this is about the people who survive the onslaught of that negative attention – the character assassinations, the insults and dismissals, the vitriol.

here are the top three strategies i’ve heard:

1. as a preventative measure and general life hack: have real people in your life who you trust and admire. deepen your relationships with those people. let them know the kind of person you are trying to be, and spend most of your time supporting each other’s becoming. get a good therapist/coach in this mix, and don’t perform for them. when pressure or struggle comes, let these people see you struggle, learn, and grow. call them your woes. goddesses. squad. circle. where appropriate, let these be spaces of mutual support.

2. with those close friends’ and professionals supporting and reality checking you, check on the patterns and do your work. is there any meaningful critique in the hate? or is there a pattern in the kind of trolls you attract – racists? exes? coworkers? if the pattern is something that allows you to predict your next struggle, then harness the energy to make adjustments, introduce new boundaries, new standards, new practices for how you share with dignity and intelligence. adapt for your safety and wellbeing (not from ego or fear).

3. turn away from the internet. it’s not the world. it’s not your work. supernovas don’t study telescopes. go shine, do the work that lets you shine. so far the internet has not been a place for redemption, for deepening understanding during interpersonal/organizational conflict, or for…shit, listening. this might be the most important of the lessons, the strategies that have worked for people: if they can’t and won’t hear you in your humanity, you can’t be responsible for listening to their hateration. there is a world out there, full of a lot of other real people. and meditation and mediation, and friends who won’t always be here, and actual work that can’t fit into pithy tweets, (even if they are tirades), and excellent music (lizzo, kelsey lu), and countries you’ve never heard of, and creatures you’ve never run from. or towards. or with. shift your attention to life and beauty and the work to be done.

i will keep listening.

Building Accountable Communities (speech on strategies for ending and recovering from harm)

Harm is an external wound to your wholeness. More than a bump, an accident.

Harm is what convinces us that in this abundant world, we only deserve to survive. Convinces us that material and emotional scarcity is our lot.

My work is very much about returning people to the truth of miraculous abundance. I’m bleeding as I write this – a reminder that miracles are messy, that I am alive and not in charge. Life is a bloody, magical, messy, beautiful gift.

I play with scale – instead of impossibly wide, go satisfyingly deep. Instead of focusing on the whole, getting stagnant in your insignificance, get close in, get dirty. Operate at your OWN scale. and MAYBE grow. If everyone was practicing transformative justice in their own lives, we’d have enough.

The natural world gives us some clues: abundance is healthy. It’s normal to have plenty. But! And! Plenty is relative!

Each species is programmed for the precise amount of sunlight it needs, and how to swallow light. How do we balance between the rich fertility and terror of darkness, the abundant life and dangerous fire of light?

Balance.

Divergence and balance.

And emergence. The complex systems and patterns we long for – the justice and accountability that allows for our whole humanity – it all comes from, is built from, relatively simple interactions.

Calling Black liberation workers into support. Sitting at a kitchen table. Drinking tea. That’s where I invite people into accountability. Not to be friends, not to share joy, not even to be comrades necessarily – but accountable. Accountable to something larger than ourselves.

And nature says: enjoy this. We’ve been given bodies so brilliant that some of us have even reclaimed the pleasure of the whip! in just a few generations. We long to feel satisfied and content. Belonging and dignity.

We are born into another’s hands, we are a species meant to hold and be held. We live on an orgasmic planet, fecund and perfect.

But! can we see ourselves home again after all this harm?

My work is to remind us to imagine, to remind us that we are responsible for shaping the future. And to point us down and all around at our teacher-parent-planet. And to remind us not to sleep through the sensational experience of being alive, the heaven here on earth, the blessing of having a body – an individual and collective body – that can recover, can learn, can remember to love.

Visionary fiction.
Emergent strategy.
Pleasure activism.

Transformative breakups.
Kitchen table mediation.
Boundaries are better than disposal.

Abundant justice.
Liberation.

That is all the miracle I know.