Monthly Archive for December, 2012

2012, and scene.

2012 has been such a full and blazing year.

this year i grabbed my life up, got fierce about what my every day looks like. there have been years of great advances in my life, and great setbacks – and most of those have been in pursuit of righteous and grandiose dreams for what i am meant to do in the world.

this year, in many ways, it felt like i woke up.
or began to.

the year had two parts.

the first part, traveling the world on sabbatical, was all about getting quiet enough to have some agency. the further i get away from that international journey, the more clearly i see what i brought home beyond the gorgeous tan – this capacity to take a step back into myself without disconnecting, to find the quiet room of my own reckoning, and determine right action. the quiet room is massive and constant.

i believe myself, which is a relatively new experience. i believe what i feel, and am less inclined to creative beautiful fictions to counter those feelings if they require difficult action. it is hard to be a writer and also live an authentic life, but i am getting there.

the second part of the year was a long series of opportunities for application of this practice of getting quiet within, and taking right action.

i have had so many distinct opportunities to step further and further into living my truth, holding every day of my life, every moment, as the practice ground for being the abundance i have longed for for so long.

i have learned some things about abundance.

it is self-perpetuating. each moment in which i have claimed abundance has simply increased my comfort with claiming abundance, and has made scarcity then more unbearable, as a personal mindset or a worldview.

it is a natural state. there is a period in each of our lives before we start participating in the routines of shared time (school, work, etc) where we are just present. how long we get to be in that place depends on a number of factors, but it is worth protecting. for a long time i couldn’t figure out just why i adored children so much, but it is this capacity to be present that is so delicious. and in that present state, to be able to easily say what is interesting and focus on that, that is a skill worth reclaiming as adults. so much scarcity comes from wasting time on things that neither interest nor excite us at the foundational level.

and abundance is immediate. its not something you have to plant and wait for spring. that too of course, it grows now and in all your potential futures. but if you truly call it in, you must be ready for it, because it shows up right away, and you will want to have room for it.

i love what i have learned so far. i am grateful for all of my teachers. for next year, i have no new resolutions, i just want to deepen my practice of abundance, which deepens my incredible life.

blowing you kisses!

see adrienne fall.

yesterday i fell down.

i used to fall down all the time, but it’s been a while since i actually fell and injured myself.

this time i was walking in the woods, in the snow. i was so excited by the experience, the sound of my steps in the snow, the pristine crisp sharpness of the trees against the wintery white-gray. me being me, i wanted to share it. me being me, instead of stopping to film, i whipped out my phone and started to film the walk, including showing myself walking.

then i fell into a hole.

i’m not sure i would have missed the hole if i hadn’t been focused on the video. but i’m pretty sure that making the video, or the lack of being fully present that the making of the video represents, contributed to my fall.

and now i have a video that feels so essentially me, in this beautiful world, wanting to make myself a part of it, wanting to have people see what i see, and then being humbled.

my life these days is a consistent ebb and flow of beauty, humility, joy, grief, and always laughter. it’s happening, my life, all the time.

i’m sure i could wring a million lessons out of the experience. mostly i feel really grateful that i didn’t fall because my body is weak, that i didn’t do more damage, and that even tho i am hurting, i still love and trust my body, as opposed to how i used to feel when i fell.

i walk the same line that many artists and writers walk, being in the world and simultaneously wanting to capture it, capture a moment, a feeling. there is always a little viewfinder, a director, a narrator and an analyst at work. i hope to never feel embarrassed about that desire, to always lean into my creative way of seeing things.

but it can take away from my ability to just be present.

i’ve come a long way in being present – this was a lovely and dramatic little nudge to keep going. with instagram, facebook, flickr, tumblr, twitter…it’s so tempting to live with so many people. but more present is possible.

that said, being able to truly laugh at myself, alone and with others, also feels like a gift. and the gift works perfectly in moments where i am taking myself too seriously.

after i fell, while my foot was still down in the hole and the rest of my limbs akimbo on the snow, i was already laughing. and i was very present then, to the feeling of snow all over me, to the unseen land under my body, to the quiet absence of others, to the desire to just lay there in the cold soft til the pain passed.

luckily my sister was jogging on a road not too far off, and she could hear me calling and come rescue me, and my other sister could come get me in the car once it was clear i couldn’t walk anywhere. and once i arrived at christmas dinner there were all sorts of experts on how to care for an ankle, and a faller.

and there were people, my family through blood and marriage, to appreciate my whimsical, beautiful, scary, hilarious video.

how how how – how we live our lives and respond to our lives, that is what interests me most. the means create the ends. being out here in the woods with babies who throw themselves completely into every adventure and thus experience life as an adventure, with two families falling in love with each other over those babies and thus experience life as a series of opportunities for love…i keep noticing how i do life, how others do life.

the people i appreciate most are those that laugh with their whole bodies, and love with all their hours. so even if i fall, even while i’m laid out on the ground with my foot lost in the earth, even if i don’t know anything else including how to stand up again…i know love is where i’m going when i get up, and being more and more present to the wonder and laughter of it all is how i’m getting there.

21 observations for a new day

i love days like this, uplifted as something special – winter solstice, new calendar, mom’s birthday, named in time. here are 21 current observations from my life.

1 there is no silence, but it is good to quiet ourselves enough to hear the night animals hunting, the snow melting, the vibrant pounding of our own hearts.

2 there are moments which cannot be thought through, must be felt through. this becomes more apparent as i am growing my capacity to feel.

3 i am starting to ask children the questions i really hold. their answers delight me. i highly recommend this.

4 ‘so now i am older/than my mother and father/when they had their daughter’ – fleet fox, ‘montezuma’. when i remember this, i feel such compassion for my parents.

5 it comforts me to imagine that thousands of years ago, people sensed that humans would need thousands of years to work out our worst tendencies, but longing for a compassionate resilient way of being was present even then.

6 that said, i don’t presume to understand what was known then. it makes me nervous when people speak too definitively of what someone in the past was thinking, knowing how often i am mysterious and misunderstood in this time.

7 every single day that i begin with meditation and/or yoga is better than days i don’t. writing is a meditation some days, jo others.

8 it is taking me a long time to apply that lesson to my morning routines. but i am aware now, and feel the immensity of choice in me, that any time things aren’t feeling right i can return to breath, begin again, and again.

9 dignity is becoming very important to me. i notice it in posture, in the way people meet my eyes without falling in or falling away, in the pull of gravity and dreams. i want to be of a dignified people.

10 i’m not the only one who hears music all the time inside. when i let my ‘soft animal body love what it loves,’ i am always dancing. (mary oliver, a beast among poets, wrote those words in her poem ‘wild geese’)

11 i really do hope i was foreseen, and am worthy of my time.

12 home is an internal condition, and a way of being in relationship, for me.

13 fashion is a communication of home, beauty and vision. my fashion, which i am finally allowing to matter to me and for me, was shaped by marilyn monroe, new york city, and images of the future from the past: star wars, star trek, idoru.

14 i prefer to be part of the beauty, not part of the background.

15 ‘we must keep in mind that we are not going to be free – we already are free. every idea that we are bound is a delusion.’ swami vivekananda

and

16 ‘the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.’ camus

17 complexity is liberating me. i now hold that there is an absolute freedom, some place we are all driven to, and a relative freedom, the freest we think we can get given our conditions. taking steps towards the relative freedom can move us towards the absolute.

18 i love love. it feels really essential to being alive, to risk the vulnerability and the heartbreak, to actually live in love with others.

19 i love this body of mine, part of the greater human body. the more i feel, the more i realize every cell is full of stories, and more are coming.

20 i have, so far, avoided getting so serious i can’t laugh at these efforts of ours to make meaning of our seeming insignificance. we are completely hilarious.

21 i have, so far, avoided getting so cynical i can’t feel the miraculousness of my life, and of our efforts to understand and evolve what it means to live. we are utterly incredible.

i am a BALLE fellow!!

I am so so so excited to share that I was awarded a Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) fellowship!

I’m in a cohort of brilliant folks, including inspirational Detroit Black Community Food Security Network organizer Malik Yakini and brilliant People’s Grocery leader Nikki Henderson!

From now through 2014 I will be learning about socially responsible cooperative and commons based business models and local living economies with the intention of growing a viable food justice economy in Detroit with the Detroit Food Justice Task Force.

I am excited, and nervous – business and economy has never been an area I thought I would focus on, and yet the question of what kind of economic system will support the future I want continues to come up on every other path I walk. So I am going in.

I am excited to share my process and learning here as I go.

Read more about BALLE, the fellowship, and the Task Force!

Oh – and please engage with me around local economy – send me articles and reading and models that inspire you. :)

love letter to the babies/they are all ours

they are all ours
don’t let the sickness infect you
that division
that says these children matter
these don’t
they are ours,
holding guns children
sweat on brow
death in their eyes
they are ours
freckles, hair flopping
running from the teacher’s son
death in their eyes

they come from our bodies
from our hard work
from our dreams
from our desires
and they need us to hold them close
so they can become themselves

they need us in the wilderness
however it appears
within and without
to be that greater love
to answer every question
without violence
to cover them with those kisses
that cause them to giggle
that let them know
from the cosmos
they found a place to belong
on this earth
in this time
in these hands
they are all ours

dear babies,

i cannot sleep, thinking of you.

i went and looked at all your pictures, videos, those beautiful faces, hearing your forming voices lifting all of your questions and demands, your expectations and futures bursting off the screen.

i have spent my life wondering about good and evil, heaven, hell, life on other planets, justice on this one. i have sought the cause, the root, the place to put blame. i have spent millions of hours developing theories about all of these things, and building my fury and grief, weeping and wanting to know what could make the world good enough for the possibility of you.

and then you came. from other wombs and other stories, but i knew you were also mine. i held you in my arms for the first time, felt your weight upon my chest, the shape of your whole fluttering life becoming solid in my hands. and i realized my ideas and theories would never come to life soon enough. to love a child is to know the limitations of time, and the horror of being in a particular moment of time, a hollowed out age where babies are collateral damage for borders and egos, among other things.

everyday the world reminds me that i cannot protect you. i don’t know if protecting children has been possible yet on this earth. i just believe that what we do, or allow to possibly be done, to our babies, in this world, at this time – that is the measure of our humanity.

it’s quite possible that this is the purpose of our evolution, to reach a point where we do nothing which takes away from childhood, that protecting childhood is how we grow healthy societies. that the safe unfolding of children into adults shapes every aspect of the worlds we build.

perhaps…

but now? even as a warning i can’t whisper the horrors of what we allow to happen to you. some of us, we do our best, but we are all traumatized, living in a competitive society where violence is normalized and vulnerability is shamed.

how many of us were taught how to live with a switch or belt on our backsides? what world does that create? the small violence opens the door, the gateway drug of violence as control and discipline, it is intoxicating.

and every hour there is more. it is a more thoroughly interconnected world – we cannot pretend we don’t know the violence, genocides, and injustices happening in our cities, in the country, around the world. we cannot even pretend we are not fascinated by, obsessed with, the violence. it is our news, our movies, our music, our video games, our foreign policy, our right, our sickness.

baby boy, baby girl, we who hold your future in our hands are woven into the fabric of violence which is suffocating our species.

so we must do the impossible, and liberate ourselves.

i won’t be defeated by the immensity of the task – my love is unconditional. especially when the conditions are violence, abuse, trauma and scarcity. that is the state in which i give you my heart. love is what i want to be best at.

i don’t want to use the words promise or try with you. i want to give you things that are solid, values that won’t falter under pressure, and a safety that you can create and hold for yourself.

i want to love you without error, i want nothing of my pain to be part of your life, only my devotion to you, my brilliant love. i want you feel and taste the freedom of safety. i don’t want you to worry, to feel scarcity, to live your life in a constant state of defense.

because i long for what you are and what you are becoming.

so – i turn away from anything that could hurt you.
i seek out violence in myself and attend to the wounds that cause it.
i generate compassion in myself, particularly with those who hurt or wrong me.
i turn away from those who live defensively, and turn towards those who let love guide them.
i learn new ways to handle conflict, no matter how much harder they are than giving into anger and fighting.
i conjure up change in myself, my greatest self, to be worthy of you being in my life.

you are recreating me. i love you and i am so grateful for you. i will give my all to make this a world worthy of the miracle of you.

auntie.

they are all ours
that is, why we are here
to hold them close to our hearts
let them run fingers
over the tips of the wheat
lick sunlight from their palms
and find the place without nightmares
in our arms
before dawn

they are all of them ours
our karma and creators
the only test
for our species
over and over given
the air, the food, the water,
their skin, their unique way
their smiles

their smaller hearts
pounding inside our bodies from the moment
we are born
ancestral
unpromised
they are ours
they are all of them ours
they are all ours

all 12 everything

i love when there is something very cool in our relatively arbitrary shared systems.

like a magic moment in time – the way we measure time. at various moments, various humans have said Here is where we begin to count. we will measure our memories, mark our present in some grand arc, and from here we will vision and prophesy about that time which is not now and not behind us, but ahead.

12 has emerged as a dominant way to measure time, which makes it one of the most powerful numbers for us, and today is sort of magical. and no one else in the universe may know this moment is magical, because no one else may have even decided to count time.

but we did.

and we noticed that 12 is central to our cycles, and so this a uniquely earthling magic day.

humans live our global shared lives in cycles of 12. its how we track how old we are, every 12 months we have gained another measure of experience, we look back and we celebrate our births and the labor of our mothers. we look forward and make ludicrous commitments for the next 12 months, and then settle back into the rhythms of our days.

there are no less than 21 calendar systems in the world, and the vast majority of them have 12 months. why?

it takes about 12 months for the seasons to run through their great turning in the miraculous dance with sunlight that processes it into all life on earth.

that is, over the course of four seasons, the earth generates abundance from that steady light, absorbing it, filling up with it in the form of plants and trees and fruit, making light edible, harvestable, storing it in the soil and plants and in us, sparking the circle of life. within those seasons, 12 moons move through the night sky, or rather we move across the face of the moon 12 times, the effect of our own shadow creating one of our first maps and calendars.

our orbital cycle around the sun gives us on average 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness a day. the north pole of our clock is 12, the north star of our compass, the indicator that a new day comes, rising til high noon when the sun sits directly above us.

i’d say 12 is the romantic number in our love story with the sun, the day when she puts our love on top – as far as we know, no other planets in this solar system or anywhere else do quite what we do with sunlight…it’s a deeply unique relationship.

and 12 is the last year of childhood, supposedly we are about 12 when the cycle of life becomes active within us in the forms of blood and desire.

we even spend 12 years in our schooling programs in many parts of the world. that is what we generally agree it takes to prepare a human to be in the world on it’s own.

at what point does a number become sacred? even in our somewhat arbitrary timeline, only true because we all commit to practicing time in this way together, there seems to be something lunar and solar and grander at work.

in geeking out about 12 i saw that apparently the repetition of 12 means love in some cultures, a wholeness.

“On Twitter, @Jin_Campbell wrote: ‘Tomorrow At 12 mins, 12 secs after 12 o’ clock on Dec 12th, the time will be 12:12:12,12/12/12.'”

i think days moments and seconds like this remind us of the remarkable nature of our existence. we not not only evolved from cells to bodies, we not only miraculously reproduce life in a variety of species all over the planet, we not only process sun into all life here…but we learned to count, and in our counting we have patterns.

those patterns indicate that outside of our creating there is rhythm to the universe that is a 12 bar musical score, a 12 tone bell, a vibration of 12 heartbeats.

yesterday was a painful day where i live – long story short we are not a represented people here in michigan and yesterday we got reminded of that on a few levels.

so i want to claim that capacity to create something massive like time, claim the cycle of time to honor the gift of life, claim whatever wholeness exists in this particular day – to remember that we are not whole because someone else says so.

we are whole, we make magic, we made all 12 everything.

longing

i woke up this morning and was lost.

for the past 10 days i woke up in a room of windows that looked out on the woods, usually to the sound of my babies’ feet hitting the floor above me, or them bursting through the glass door separating my futon guest room from the kitchen, seconds before they jumped in the bed.

my sister is pregnant, and i am her doula. part of my commitment to her is visiting a week out of each month to support with kids/house/life – our sister april is supporting my travel, so it’s truly a sister-doula experience.

after the kids had me awake, we would have breakfast, and then spend the day looking at pictures of lava – nephew’s latest obsession (his first was the moon), drawing pictures of lava, going outside to play, learning together, processing boundaries, asking and answering questions, watching wildkratts and super why, posing for my camera, visiting their nona (my brother-in-law’s mom) who lives just through the woods, having bath time, reading stories and then i’d sing them to sleep.

when not with them, on the days they had school/daycare, i would write, cook, load up firewood for the fire, and, more often than not, find myself looking out the window and realizing i was missing the babies.

each time i visit them, my love for them deepens – deepens the space for love inside of me, makes me grow in order to be an adequate adult in their lives.

they are both so smart, so emotionally open and curious and testing everything…with the whole world before them. and they have so many adults around them who love them, the only privilege i have seen have universal positive impact in the world.

i thought my doula work, and even my auntie work, was about what i could do, be and give. but it’s also about what i need to learn right now, as a human – to listen, to feel, to be honest, to be gentle, to be radically committed to curiosity and seeking what is unknown.

when i am away from them, interacting again with adults and seeing where the lack of love leaves it’s ruts, patterns and wounds, it floods me with this level of compassion that feels like an awakening.

we were all of us children once. every single one of us. it’s so simple, but when i look at each person that way…it takes away my breath. it’s so beautiful to see people this way, as children, who sought love, who seek it still.

which makes me think of all these people who want to do right by their children, who want to leave their children something better than they had. this aspect of humanity that is about future generations – it feels so visceral to me right now.

as usual, on these first days after awesome baby immersion, i’m lit up and all the paths in my mind lead back to them. i am longing for them, with every known sense and some that feel new and unknown.

and what a blessing, what a gift – to love this much, to know such longing.

to be seen

for someone as public as i am, it amazes me that i can still be so uncomfortable with being seen.

most recently this has shown up as i contemplated making it possible for folks to financially support my writing here.

my internal story about this blog has been that it was just something i did. it started out as an exercise to train myself to write publicly. so i wrote my way through events, movement spaces, heartbreak and learning, through several jobs and homes. and for much of that time it was something i just did when i could.

and someday i would publish a book, be a Real Writer.

a few years back, two friends, seth and amy, pushed me to take it more seriously. seth gifted me my own domain name outside of social media, and amy designed the site for me. i got an inkling, then, that folks were really seeing me.

since then, more and more people have given me positive feedback, letting me know how my writing impacts them. i don’t get a lot of comments, and i don’t track site visits, but i get incredible and moving love notes, extended hugs, sheepish confessions and folks sending me their own writing and transformative a-has.

i love it, i love what my writing calls back from the world.

and it still comes as an amazing and pleasant surprise every time i find out someone is a regular reader. being in relationship with others around my writing has brought home to me that, in fact, this is not a small part of my life.

this may be one of my greatest contributions!

it’s certainly one of the greatest investments of my miraculous and limited time. it’s been a space where i have watched myself grow as i have written these thousands of pages.

as i have become more intentional about what belonged on here, and what didn’t, i realized that i wanted the content i offer to be healing, growing, honest and opening…that i couldn’t maintain a space, however small, for gossiping, complaining, tearing folks down, being less than my whole self, or blaming others for any part of my life.

the result is that i have grown not only as a writer, but as a person.

still, as i sat down to write today, i was trying to think about what would actually be worthy of my new members, worthy of people committing to read my words, engage with my thinking, and support my dream.

it took a few hours and drafts of pieces, drafted in my mind as i played with my niece and nephew, stockpiled firewood and tended the furnace, connected with close friends, and did some of my consulting work, before it occurred to me: i don’t have to prove myself worthy to y’all. you are already here, you have already responded and affirmed the writer and thinker i am.

i am already a Real Writer.

all i have to is take a deep breath, and let you see me.

and somehow, someday, find the words to share with you how good that feels, and how grateful i am that you found me.

i am a writer.

hello lovely readers.
during my sabbatical this year it became clear to me, again, that i am a writer. i am happiest when i am writing. and a lot of my writing happens here on this blog. i’m asking you to consider paying $1 or more a month to invest in my writer self if you regularly read my work and it moves you. if that’s not possible, i welcome you as a free member, and appreciate you giving me your attention and time :-)
towards abundance and living the dream for everyone!
amb