in depth, outside of time

people often reflect to me that i am so busy these days. i do have a full life but i don’t experience my life as busy…i think what people are running up against is the challenge of living intentionally deep lives.

i was just out of the country for two weeks, and the trip was very different than i expected. i expected two weeks of beach and baby time. instead it was mostly deep time, which included times of transition, listening, growth, change…with a day of beaching at the end.

my life is mostly deep time. i am not interested in quick, light, surface encounters. when i travel, i look to return to places of depth, family, deep friendships…and then to actually give us enough time to really laugh and cry about how life is unfolding.

depth is more.

when i say no these days, it is usually in favor of deep time. it’s not that i am doing so much, or at least not too much, but rather that i am doing things deeply. this distinction feels important to me because i have been very busy before, but i wasn’t happy in it – felt like i couldn’t catch my breath, like i had no time to integrate all the humanity i was exposed to, no time to learn the lessons.

now i might say no because i need a day to integrate between things, or i need some time alone on the road, or time to write, edit, record, create, grieve, pray.

or i might say no because i am a morning sloth and am a better person if i don’t rush to meet others’ pace of a day.

i am writing this from deep inside of return trip jetlag, where i actually can’t track what time it even is now – there’s a time on the clock, a time in my body, a time in the place i call home, and times along the journey. in most places, i’d be asleep, and my body wants to sleep…but wasn’t i just asleep?

so. solo dance parties to keep my body moving, stretching, opening. photo shoots to see if i look as groggy as i feel. catching up on high speed wifi content i missed while on my journey. grieving for all the sacred spaces burning, under attack, changing. feeling so much. and more.

it’s a deep, deep time.

jiggy jetlag jaguar

jetlag is interesting to me in a similar way to being unintentionally high: if you just relax, the whole self wanders off of its usual pathways and there’s an incredible realm of unexpected synapses, emotional congruency and integration, and a multitude of possible pleasures.

there’s small awkward moments in jetlag communication, particularly mid afternoon or in the dark hours – when your mind wanders off midsentence…or when you dive into a text conversation feeling energized and then fall asleep mid-sentence. or worse, sign off too quickly and then don’t quite sleep and end up writing a blog entry.

(sorry – really did think i was at the brink of dreams)

there’s also massive spiritual opening and life observation available. for instance i can testify that:

– the dark moon is as vocal as her brighter more obvious self
– sometimes the thing we must forgive is too big to even contemplate, so we pick at the small and close by…
– being able to feel a rhythm is essential, even when you’re alone
– i’m going to record my books as audio books. i have been planning to. and people i want to have the books have asked. but tonight i realized a way to get closer to realizing the process…emergently and in a most pleasurable way. (when combined, my work is basically mary poppins ((holding down flying brits in the lineage of power Virgos))
– my body has decided shifting to a 3-11am sleep schedule is as far as i can go towards aligning with time here…roughly half the shift i need to enjoy daytime. i can see it on the clock and imagine sleeping six hours earlier, but i can’t go and get it.
– i just spent three days using a flushing toilet built into the floor. i can squat more than i thought.
– georgetown penang malaysia is delicious and stunning and i’m looking forward to my next trip. yes, stay in the tile museum. get all the handmade joss sticks and batiks. taste everything. go up penang hill and out on the clan jetties. everything. we’re all there.
– my friend larisa is reminding-me-of-how/teaching-me to walk again. it’s monumental.
– Aries season feels good this year.

j to the g. that’s all really. goodnight!

in praise of my doctor!

Y’all, I just want to testify about the benefits of having a doctor who respects me, and who is not fat phobic!

I just came from another amazing appointment with my doctor and…I am the healthiest I’ve been as an adult. And it’s not because she’s done a ton of things to heal me, but because she has done so much to set me at ease about my existing health. When I came in a while ago, asking her if my arthritis was punishment from a vengeful god for years of being overweight, she laughed and said ‘no! who in your family has arthritis?’ I had to say, ‘my skinny ass dad. And my sister who runs marathons.’ She helped me understand that arthritis just runs in my family, and I should focus on reducing inflammation in my joints, and getting more active in my daily life. The whole team is up on game – I had an arthritis bonding moment with two (much smaller than me) staff members on her team. Afterwards I noticed that my ease was connected to the fact that neither of them assumed or even implied (as so many nurses and aids and X-Rayers and others have done over the years) that my weight was their business to discuss or diagnose.

I show up to her office with a list that shows my (also inherited) tendency towards hypochondria – every twitch and dis-ease that’s happened since my last visit. She listens to each thing and makes sure we have an action item, or that my concern is addressed (which often means telling me that my late night web MD-inspired health conclusion was, in fact, imprecise). She teases me only in relation to my own self-deprecation…but she takes each concern seriously.

She’s also a human being when it comes to sexuality, drugs, gender, healing – I can tell her what I’m actually practicing and feeling, how I’m moving through life. That way, I get the best wholistic guidance and treatment. She discourages unnecessary treatments and medication, and celebrates how healthy and happy I am in my daily life as a forty year old.

Get you a doctor who cares for you as you are and celebrates your miraculous body!

shrill be teaching

THIS IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN THE SHOW. OR DON’T PLAN TO SEE IT BUT COULD GET PREGNANT.

OK?

OK.

did anyone else recently receive a crucial piece of belated sex education in the instant classic Shrill?

specifically in the part where she uses the morning after pill (multiple times) and still gets pregnant and then finds out that the pill is only dosed for bodies that weigh up to 175 lbs?

that part?

did anyone else think back to getting pregnant after taking that pill? and having an ectopic pregnancy (like me) or an abortion (like the 11 people who responded to my initial instagram post about it) or becoming a parent when you were explicitly trying not to?

and did y’all then think back to buying the pill as someone clearly over 175 lbs and having no mention of this limitation from the pharmacist or on the package?

or did you think back to being in the hospital praying to survive a condition that has been a death sentence for most of human history? and no one mentioning this as possibly connected to this fatphobia?

some people responded to tell me about copper iuds as an after-sex pregnancy avoidance method – i’m glad it’s an option.

BUT also why isn’t there a plus size plan b pill? or a weight appropriate dose?

whew. just wanted to lift this up in case you have sex that could result in pregnancy, are 175 lbs or more, and haven’t read/seen Shrill…yet.

whew.

greater-love

beloveds, i am basking and reveling in greater love, and feel called to testify!

in my life i have loved many people, in many ways, and been loved deeply in return. but i have also been experiencing something that i suspect is beyond the mutual love any two individuals can have, even at their best. it is a greater love, a sense that we are in the right moment in time, that we are many and enough, and the right people. that we are in the miracle.

greater love is what happens when many people fall in, or are in, or escalate in love with each other. all at once. the edges and sharpnesses soften, and the ways we can fit together become clear, and we realize our purpose is always greater than an individual drive. we are each part of the divine, so each of us has to individually reclaim that within ourselves, bring our piece to something that cannot be whole without us. we realize we belong to our time and place, with our complexities and critiques intact and accounted for; that we do not need to conform – in fact, it is the divergence that makes it feel so delicious.

and, lately, even when i’m alone, i can tap into the greater love, more and more often. it is a relaxing. it is not at all like i once imagined/projected love to be (an encompassing flame, a reaching forward into…some eternal future)…no. this is more profound. an eternal present. this is a moment in which we are completely alive and in connection. which, of course, reshapes the future, bending it away from numbness and complicity. we become part of the present, shaping a future where we can feel each other.

i am grateful that a lot of my life is spent in this state of greater love. i am grateful that i’m learning to tap into it, to choose it. that i am learning what enough is, what it is to work and be satisfied, to generate satisfaction in community with others – to be satisfied by the contributions of others.

i think movements are so strong when we cultivate greater-love with each other. and yes, there’s something about being open about the love between nodes in the pattern that helps the whole intricacy become a pattern of love.

i am thinking of a moment a while ago when a comrade in the throes of new love made a declaration of devotion at the start of a meeting – the beloved comrade next to them blushed and the love was so real and palpable it flooded the room. and all of us, who loved one or both of these comrades, oriented towards the brightness of that love, supporting it, letting it shape all of us in massive possibility.

i am thinking of how, in every place i’ve been for months, i have gotten into conversation with someone who was touched by the great and generous love of malkia and alana devich cyril. in connecting around that love, we, myself and this or that comrade – who i often only previously know through shared internet love of #mittsandmuffy – become more tender with each other, more trusting. we know that no matter what else is there, we share a recognition that love is real, that we have witnessed and participated in a greater love story in some small and meaningful way.

even today, i was in a meeting where we got to celebrate the birth of one of our humble, beautiful, committed comrades. we’d worked really hard for three days, and now we got to sing and speak testimony of someone who has given us so much. and even though the levels of intimacy in the room were wildly different, that greater love flooded through us and filled the room. i could feel us growing our capacity to sustain uncertainty and vision and rigor under pressure because we had love flowing through and between us. i could feel our love helping us grieve and hold the fear of white supremacist terrorism, borders, tyrants and corruption.

as i drove home from the airport, i saw something that looked like the embodiment of greater love: i live in a place i love – Detroit! and in michigan, god is often in the rearview mirror in the form of epic dramatic skies where the sun seems to pull apart the clouds to enter the world, incomprehensible. i wanted to pull over and make a video of that sky, to say to people – when we feel like this inside, i believe we are more connected and free. but i knew that it was the present moment, and my own attention to greater love, that made the moment. the most i can share is my feeling, my invitation to such awed attention.

i am going to keep studying and thinking on this. i want to keep learning how we authentically open our movements up for greater love to move between us, and out from us to those we must compel to join us in our move to freedom. and i want to keep unlocking my own capacity to be with, and in, greater love.

practice with me?

jeju

it’s been 40 years but i finally made it to jeju, the epic, famous, Black and Korean owned spa in Atlanta in which ask the rooms are magic and hot and their uniforms actually fit big girls and they do hip baths.

hip bath, aka yoni steam, aka extra tight.

this post is short af because there’s not much i can say about sitting on a stool with a hole in it, 19 magical herbs steaming into me from a hot plate below, under a circular cape that created a private stream room from my neck down. it was daunting at times (is the kitty on fire?) and healing (have i ever done a public blessing just for my yoni?) and i immediately wanted to make it a monthly ritual.

in brief? go steam your euphemisms.

mate soul moments

i am not sure this experience can happen in a city you call home, a mate soul moment. it happens in transit, in a place neither of you are from. a stranger catches your eye and the life you could have together thrums through you, a complete chord.

there is nothing lewd about it, it isn’t the hungry look of a stranger who wants to taste your skin. it isn’t the wide eyes of someone looking at something different for the first time. it is a look of recognition – we’ve never met?, but we have history. we have ease. you feel a smile on your face in spite of the pain that walking brings to each step of your aging body.

you feel the note strum and look away – can everyone hear, feel, see this ludicrous knowing in you? but it is in you, it rings through you. you look back and this strange familiar is watching you. no missed steps, you look, look again, in rhythm with each other, not pretending not to see.

you’re with others. so is your brief beloved. there’s no need for each other, so satisfying is the brief moment of total irrational connection. you want to remember: humans forget this. you feel the directive in your body: mate soul. so you do, however briefly, take respite in the absence of solitude, the way you are tethered to a beautiful home. your home, until this tether brand.

you pull off first, a last look, the gift of a small smile, yes. we would be great.

northern ireland, first impressions

at customs the woman asks a few questions and then says, “so you’re spending the whole time in Northern Ireland then. that’s a whole nother country.” i know this, my sister autumn and i have been well prepared for the journey we’re on. but this is this first impression i get here, on the land – there is a battle over the story and it is reinforced with every step.

we have come to Northern Ireland by invitation, to do the work of Octavia’s Brood, of practicing collective visionary fiction. 20 years into a tenuous peace agreement, with brexit on the horizon, survivors and comrades and family members and nations and religions are all wondering: what’s coming?

our hope here is that these workshops will invite solutions and shared dreams in, to help these beautiful people dance with the grief, fear and mystery. we hope to, in some small way, help them shape change together.

since we announced we were coming here, i have been surprised at how many people have told me what i must do and see and read and watch and listen to to really understand what’s happening here. there is rarely a question of who is hosting me – if asked i would say i have been given tons of reading and things to watch, and i am learning the most from the stories of former POWs and hunger strikers and blanket protesters, about how they came into the conflict and how they made it through and why reconciliation is so important to them. i am humbled by their stories. i want others to hear them, i want these voices that feel so parallel to those i hear and focus on in the US to be heard.

most of the time when i travel to teach or facilitate, it is by invitation of people in that place. my rule of thumb has been that i come when and where i am called by communities i am of, committed to, and in solidarity with. so when people, especially people not from/of the place i am in, reach out to guide the journey without asking, i often feel a little defensive bristle in my heart…i want to say ‘trust the people here to welcome me, to show me what i need to see. i do.’

but even as i bristle, i can remember doing the same thing to people going to South Africa and Mexico and Thailand. i am very protective of who tells the story of Detroit, and just beginning to think i might be one of those storytellers. it’s a gift and curse of loving places, and of travel. we want to adventure and root, see everything and know it all. relive our lives through others. and, in conflict zones, we want the right side to be crystal clear.

i can already imagine future-me insisting that i know who has THE story in Northern Ireland, even as i recognize that the power of my experience here is being exposed to so many stories, so many perspectives of pain, persecution, regret, ignorance, resistance.

this desire to shape the story (of Northern Ireland and other places we go) speaks to trauma based tension in a way i recognize – after harm there is a desire to do with narrative what could not be done in person, clean up the story and claim a victory. but there’s no neat story here, and the main victory is not winning or losing, but sacrificing and living. these people who look so much alike have a coded, deep experience of being othered.

today we are told of a sunken wall in Belfast City Cemetery to keep the separation of catholics and protestants even in death, and i feel how far they’ve come, these teachers from both backgrounds, and others, around a table over wine and meatballs, cohabitating on contested land.

i am moved by how love flows amongst them, how many are in mixed religion love stories, how healing comes at the place where intimacy lives, how love knows what is truly different and the same about us.

i am also struck by the random nature of history. almost everyone i’ve spoken to was caught up in the conflict by accident, by circumstance. they were born into a lineage, a certain faith, a set of borders, a presumption of imperial rights, a working class that was hard to survive. most of them were shockingly young when they were sent to prison, or lost someone in ‘the troubles’. none of them have expressed being particularly religious, they were just raised a certain way and before they had much chance to choose anything or even learn about other options, they were being shot at, interrogated, bullied, taught who to love and who to fear, locked up or grieving or/and seeking the source of their fear and grief.

once in prison or in grief, they were shaped by those who showed up in the container with them.

so much of this makes me think of home. those that get caught in the matrix of racism and poverty and gun violence and patriarchy are rarely seeking that life path. there’s nothing romantic about living in constant fear, losing your community in an unacknowledged war, watching a generation become addicts and/or commit suicide in droves. there’s nothing romantic about spending any portion of life in prison because your rights are denied, or you’re from a different religious lineage than the dominant one where you live. civil wars, whatever sparks them, don’t end in unity, but in exhaustion.

another aspect of our work here is shaped by the humbling condition of being an American citizen. we know what it looks like when the “civil” war “ends” but the hatred never heals, the truth is never unveiled, and amends are never made. when the system never really shifts, when the conditions actually get worse, when the growth is symbolic and fatally compromised, when the past takes the future in its mouth and begins a destructive feeding. when we said no, but didn’t say a clear enough yes, when we find ourselves still fighting to win the rigged game.

we are so young, but we know this pain, the wound’s wide open.

we came to teach, so of course we’re the students. i am learning/reminded, i want this kind of big vast love to guide all movements. i want the love each of the people we’ve met have for each other, for humanity, and for this land, to be the central story – of this week, this place, and of my life. it takes love to look back, to really see what’s behind you/us, and still choose to dream the future together.

i am finding love in Northern Ireland.

(many more pictures and stories on Instagram feed)

quicky reviews for Feb 2019

i took a day off and binge watched everything on all the streaming services. then i took a long flight and watched more things. here are my very brief reviews (that’s a prediction but it’s late).

Amanda Seales comedy special I Be Knowin. when i really love a comedy special, it feels like i have fallen in love with the comic. so when i tell you i’m ready to propose? i could watch amanda be a jamaican/harlem/la cat caller or a runaway slave any day. everyone watch this immediately so we have a common language.

true detective. mahershala ali, the prayer and the god, can do ridiculously tender things with his face. scary, captivating start to season 3.

two dope queens: they make me laugh. phoebe’s physical humor sticks with me whenever i bend over.

grace and frankie, yes as good as everyone says, i adore all of them.

james blake assume form: perfect Blake. “can’t believe the way we flow” is my current theme song for any time spent with any other humans. if it’s not like that, why hang out? i also love every other song.

blindspotting. hard and brilliant film experience, gave me nostalgia for oakland, reminded me i have feelings for daveed diggs, and has a scene i want recreate with futurebae.

bill murray stories: inspired the spontaneous heart under my cool virgo exterior. murray is totally a weird delightful introvert who creates moments of people-time. worth the watch.

collette. thank God for feminism gee whiz.

heaven’s gate podcast. pretty interesting exploration of this cult that was popping when i was in high school and ended in mass suicide. i think in this age of personalities gone wild we all need to be cult scholars to stay safe.

fyre stuff. i watched both documentaries, i was surprised (blow job man really impacted me, shook my sense of dedication to work) and felt like i recognized that white boy miraculous mess energy and i am glad that this one time it didn’t work.

also, i got introduced to online boggle and am literally injuring my thumb so i have to wean off but i love word games. sigh.

muting is not disposing of (distinctions)

i have muted r. kelly in my life. his music is nowhere in my home or digital collection. i have created a playlist that hits the specific place his music did before i understood it to be a pedophiliac’s songbook.

i have not wished death on him, or torture, or the end of his possibility in life. i have not denied that he is an adult who was abused himself. i muted him, meaning i will not financially contribute to his harmful behavior.

i muted him because it became very difficult for me, as a survivor, to listen to his content. and because he’s an active predator, because there are girls still caught in his sharp teeth, living in some sex hell of his direction.

the creators of the #muterkelly campaign, uplifted in dream hampton’s visceral series Surviving R Kelly (free on Lifetime), realized that pulling his economic rug out from under him was the only way to shake his abusive foundations and possibly have a chance to stop the harm. parents of potential victims aren’t going to stop shrugging and saying ‘well he was acquitted tho.’ his record label had not dropped him in spite of the years of allegations creating a pattern of clarity around him (they’ve since parted ways). and a jury acquitted him – what he’s up to is still seen as preference or oddity by some, not serial rape, abuse and torture.

so we mute him. the campaign is not silencerkellyforever or disappearrkelly. it’s muting, an act designed to put pressure on him to release the girls and stop harming new girls.

i keep seeing this meme go around:

i want to explore this a bit, as well as why artists we want to stand with little girls’ safety instead keeping expressing their love for a man who repeatedly abuses little girls.

i think we are in very early stages of beginning to understand transformative justice, and in absence of TJ being a common practice, we think disposal or grasping are our only moves. we either have to throw the person with bad behavior out of our community, or hold onto them with love because they were abused too, because they are oppressed too, etc. and both of these strategies fail to liberate us from the cycle of harm.

if abusers see that the mass response to the truth of abuse is to dispose of abusers, they are encouraged to be more secretive about their behavior. this means not seeking the help needed to truly end the harmful behavior. hide it, deny it, continue, protect your reputation instead of your soul.

and if abusers see that people will have their backs with no public demand for accountability, they are given a green light to continue to act from their abuse shaping, rather than do the hard work of healing, changing.

what we need is a path to redemption: understand that you caused harm, stop future harm, turn within, repent, apologize, learn boundaries and how to navigate power and connection, grieve, grow. transformative justice recognizes that the state upholds systems of oppression more than accountability, and requires us to name the truths within community, to stop the harm ourselves.

TJ doesn’t guarantee peace between abusers and those they’ve harmed, but it offers the possibility of ending the harm. it doesn’t feel good, it feels like untangling knots made of nerves. these are mostly slow processes, but if we really want a world without childhood sexual abuse, without rape, without abuse, we must believe the process can work, and we must get rigorous in our practice…because it’s not enough to throw one monster out of the village when the monstrous behavior is happening everywhere. and abusers produce abusers.

with r kelly (and a lot of other well known abusers) the first steps generally happen out of sight. people asking them to stop, people trying to get justice through legal systems, quiet warnings proliferating around a repeated abuser. in most cases, a lot has taken place before we reach the point of public pressure. this is because, sadly, our patriarchal society believes, in a deep core place, that this is how things are, how men/adults are, how sex is, how power works.

public pressure is a risk, because we don’t cultivate nuanced thinking in our current education or media systems. going public makes room for everyone to point away from themselves, their families, the abusers protected in their own communities, blaming the monster of the day instead of acknowledging the ecosystem of harm.

that said, i am impressed with the strategic use of public pressure in r kelly’s case because he is still actively involved in harm. this will be different in other cases, where the harm is in the past and the need is for an apology or a reckoning, vs an intervention. but public pressure isn’t the end.

there are consequences. i want to invite everyone to listen to Mariame Kaba all day every day, but especially on this point. consequences are not disposal, and they aren’t punishment. if someone won’t stop causing harm, one consequence is that they stop getting celebrated by the communities they harm. another consequence is losing a job. or having to work within more limited boundaries.

muting r kelly after decades of sustained abuse is not disposal, it is a consequence of his choices to persist in abuse, to not seek help to break his patterns. Mariame says “it’s the harm” that should be the focus, rather than demonizing or isolating anyone. how do we stop the harm? not by throwing anyone away, not by punishing broken people, but by taking responsibility for harm in our communities and creating systems of healing and boundaries to allow for different futures to emerge.