Tag Archive for 'grief'

choose your own adventure: an affirmation

i learn experientially.

i often feel slow, behind the clarity, behind the certainty that others have. my questions focus on things i feel, things happening under the surface. sometimes that’s all i can feel, and the more overt reality has to be pointed out to me.

i also often feel clear, out ahead in a mysterious fog or body of water, afloat, gently feeling my way forward and then calling back, ‘this way, this way is new’…not safe, but not what we’ve already done.

sometimes i feel immense belonging, an interconnectedness so profound that i know everything, i just know.

other times i feel overwhelmingly alone – lonely, or, more and more often, at peace in the solitude and mystery; a star that cannot feel the constellation i’ve been clustered into, just the darkness.

joy is possible in each place, and in the transitions.

i’m learning that because i learn experientially, i have to be so intentional. i have to move towards experiences that keep growing me up, that challenge me and demand my authentic self. and can meet my authentic self when i show up.

there’s so much of the storyline of my life and grief that i don’t get to choose. i do get to make decisions along the way. i get to think for myself…it’s important that i keep doing so, keep feeling for myself.

i get to determine how much i will let others see and feel me in real time. i know now that i see good in people, and in moments, brighter than anything else. i am learning to listen and feel beyond what i can see, to believe the shadows as much as the light. i am learning that i don’t get to determine what others think about themselves, or about me.

i take the actions, build the relationships, hold the boundaries and shape the life that keeps me in right relationship with myself.

lately things keep happening in my life that are so deep, so true and so good that i can’t believe it. not perfect. not tidy. but absolutely mine, my lessons, my good news, my adventure.

i am accepting responsibility for what i’ve been given. i am accepting the blessing of the time i have left. i know this life is precious.

love love love

i believe we are living on the precipice of the next phase of our species. and i’m with such good people, people who cry hard and laugh harder. and do one to move through the other, rolling across the full emotional span in epic waves. we feel what’s gaping and yawning underneath both of those releases, that scale of lovegrief that can’t be captured in any words i know…we let it be in our eyes, at our core.

the more i learn/remember how to feel, the more in love i fall with the particular aliveness that only sparks between us. that met longing felt when the interior world unfolding in me comes to a border and longs to be porous, expansive, vast, one, multitudes. this opening, these moments, this work, this makes a viable future possible.

today i remembered a song i was taught over a decade ago:

“oh i say thank you
oh i say thank you
oh great spirits
in this way
i long to give my life to you
in love and devotion
in love and devotion”
(this was taught to me as a gwitch’in song from haida gwaii)

even now, especially now, with a mask over my mouth and a storm at my back, i am learning what i must realize in myself, what i must defend and protect, what i must cultivate in the face of fear and death and supremacy: love, love, love.

stardust and rivers

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sitting at the intersection of life and death, love and grief, waiting for a train.

everything this week has been reminding me i am stardust. i practice non attachment, but the universe grabs me close, shakes me, reminds me everything is connected. the only way to live a meaningful life, a life that is worth the miracle, is to accept the extreme tenderness of connection, to come together with warmth and ease, to be together with honesty, joy, rigor and pleasure, and to release each other with as much grace as possible.

even if it’s a dream, even if it’s a painted sky, even if it’s all predetermined…i feel so much, and i’m so grateful to be able to feel so much, to have this range of love demanded of me. this aliveness is my victory, and i am always free.

now, now, now, with sleep in my eyes and work to do, i watch the human river flow and see poetry, realize i am wet, realize i am weeping in public, glitter on my cheeks, heart growing in a way i can feel. and then it’s time, again, to go.

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how does crying work?

last weekend i cried in front of people. i suspected it could happen – i was teaching a somatics course and was being vulnerable in front of the class.

it wasn’t just a few tears, it’s the kind of crying where you feel ugly and want to be smaller and picked up by someone who has the answers and will carry you back to some time before you knew adult suffering.

it doesn’t much matter what i started crying about, when it was time to be done, my tears were not done. they felt non-specific and available, like new thoughts, old memories and ongoing longings would float up in my mind and they also wanted tears.

the crying, the feelings made me pale and tired and prickly and pushy and honest without sweetness. thank octavia i love so many patient people, or i think i would truly have to go find the castaway/lost island and learn to open coconuts on rocks.

yesterday i was driving from one home to another and in a pause between two songs, more tears came, suddenly, strong enough that i pulled off at the next exit. my tears almost always come at the sharp point of a singular true thought – “this person is gone”, “i was thoughtless”, “someone scared my nibbling and i wasn’t there”, “why is my species suicidal?”, “i miss my grandparents”.

later i drove through a storm and finally, for the first time since crying in front of people, felt just right. lightning shot down bright fingers trying to scorch earth, thunder clapped and undulated overhead saying “wrong way, wrong way, turn around”, and the rain was so abundant.

i saw how you can’t rush the rain, can’t rush a storm.

i’ve been trying to rush through my amazing life, my own transitions, rushing to share everything i learn, rushing to be everywhere at once. leaving no time for big messy beautiful storms, for my rage, my overwhelm, my celebration.

tears are another way the body takes time. slows things down.

my body says: “slower.

slower.

know nothing, know nothing, just listen. no, listen. fill up your cup and then, maybe, pour into others.

slower.

it may even seem like you stop for a moment. slow like that.”

i spent time with my bestie-nibbling yesterday. she’s been in this world nine months now, and she is learning about crying, testing out her lungs and her discontent. we stepped onto her balcony and the rain had just cleared. her face was calming, a fat tear lingering on her cheek. she looked up in wonder and watched a flock of birds fly by us. i just watched her face, the full range of feeling there.

i want to live at this pace.

my face is wet, my breath is deeper, i’m catching up with myself. i want to really be here for my life.

i’m thinking of rewriting the tortoise and the hare as a shapeshifting story. with my body.

9

Because today is the ninth day of NaPoWriMo, I’d like to challenge you to write a nine-line poem.

sometimes i lose my hope
when the miracles have gone
my kind invented walls and wars
boxes cages bricks and bars
separation built of sticks
spilling blood that should not mix
signs to say who cannot come
bending fire into guns

some nights my hope is done

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.

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,”

one week of poems on love and terror

i was supposed to be working on a novel this month but it will keep. instead i have written thousands of other kinds of words – blog words, journal words, and with my clarion writers group, a daily poem. here is some of the poetry, which feels very much like the journal stuff, my terror/despair/love, clarified.

….

1. survival

the brittle tissue was layered and piled up
rung dry
stretched on a repurposed loom
until diaphanous
torn strips for the days to come

she rolled the flesh up
suffocating the thru line
doubling it, fat grease
thick in her fingerprint
placing gray life on her tongue

it was salt and steel
it was cold and still
it was the fat end of the day
and she was the only one hungry
the open mouth

in this way
she ate her own heart
before they came
to break it

….

2. moving forward

i wake up into clouds
and all day i reach in my hands
feel my way forward
i think forward
its hard to tell
sweeping the nothingness away
i gather the mist with my palms
ready, not ready
for the sharp tomorrow
to slice my fingers

….

3. reducing myself

i am accumulating crust and feathers
pinching and piercing my skin
and threading through me
and making a bloody mess

it gathers at the edge of eyes
too fast to wipe away
the salt-ring
soon i will decide: open? closed.

i used to love all the colors
i used to love all the titles i could gather
but i can let my skin cake up with dust
be a no one from here to there

at first i was so brave
and i had a framework, an answer, a flow
now, i just choose life over death, today,
today,
today

4. becoming brightness

im far away from myself
a distance between heart and skin grows
fills with brush fire
until inside i wheeze and my eyes tear up in public
am i a stray spark
am i of danger

if i keep an open mind it means maybe there are multiple interpretations of “lynch that nigger”
a humorous way to grab a stranger’s pussy
and logic by which descendants of immigrants can tell anyone ever to go home;
that my love is less than sacred

but i am the infinite accumulation
of millions of small sparks in the night
saying:
i am not your dream, i am my own

now i feel smoke in my mouth
now i begin to burn through those i touch
i begin to feel a hunger for anything that stands still
i begin to slip out of system

….

5. every time i choose

on one side of me is the terror
a shoreline with a violent water
sucking back teeth
lifting up to swallow
me and all of us
making all my distinctions silly
drowning my horses and
dashing my obsession with living

on the other side of me
she is holding my hand
she has already lost several nations
and all faith in men and politics
she loves me without ever saying it
watches me until i become goddess
saying its ok to grieve, to be terrified
let us feel as much as we can while we are living

every time i choose her
i feel the miracle of touching skin that isn’t mine
her life comes from a desert
and she laughs at how i am american
grandiose and self important
then she shows me something smaller
and more precise
than i ever dreamed

this time it is a tiny elephant named earl
she wants me to travel with him
before that, a soap from aleppo
to remind me that nothing is forever
and once it was a book of male genitalia
to help us laugh at those who care for power
now, with my sea of terror behind me
all i can gift her in return

is my life

….

6. my heart can break but not in two

i am not half of myself
my mother’s cells do not inhale in me
pulling themselves away
from the skin that terrifies
her neighbors

my mother grew up around
men on horses with rifles
told a lie about their hearts
(irrelevant)
and a lie about their destinies
(supreme)

my heart can break on a story
about a poor white person
who lost something beloved
person, place, thing
but show them my picture
ask if i can lead them…

so, my heart can break

i am not half of myself
my father’s cells do not terrify
the tender world in me
which whiteness inhales in infinite lines
feasting on its neighbors

my father grew up around
women who held kitchen courts
lost their teeth early
(truthful tongues are sharp)
lived almost forever
(raising everyone in sight)

my heart can break on a story
about a poor black person
who nurtured the deepest sweet
but stepped onto the pavement
and was swallowed up, whole

so, my heart can break

7. your safety and your pins

there is nothing wrong with safety pins
i imagine that where you are
it is brave
the world around you
held together by a gleaming oil-ish bubble
chartreuse and bulbous
inside like a snow globe
small and white and seeming to fall down
earth flat, that sort of thing
and you want a real life
you want to stop being shaken
and responding to a false chaos
where the only thing that changes is the
position of the sky
you want to feel dirt and
to find a heartbeat in your chest
so you prick inward and out
and with the sharp and rounded pin
you shout:
i will change

and there is nothing wrong with this
it is a morning action
and you still have sleep in your eyes

an emissary from the night might tell you
there is nothing wrong with safety pins
but you may find you need a sword
a shield, a baton, fireworks,
a megaphone and a rested voice
and to feel the ocean inside you
before you can step onto this line
between me and hatred

for the line is long and fatal
and the war so quiet
it could break you in two
like a confession

for the line is sharp
and the war so deep
it could swallow you whole
before you can say stop

grief is gratitude, fear is intelligence, truth is strategic

over this past week i have been cycling between feeling the rough emotions of this moment and feeling for my/our resilience – our capacity to recover from harm. and i have been connecting with loved ones to do both these things, to vent and move thru the worst possible case scenarios and breath into “what now”, and “where do we go from here”?

i keep experiencing gratitude for the reality-based visionaries at movement generation and their teachings on false solutions – solutions which are politically possible now, but will not satisfy/save/serve us. (for example, it appears that elections as they are currently structured are a false solution. we need a popular vote for president, and instant runoff voting, minimum.)

fear has come in waves and i am getting curious about it, finding out what my fear wants me to know. fear is an intelligence, it makes me alert to danger. its not a state i want to linger in – its a way to come into wakefulness with what is. we knew we were in danger, our data set just got more precise. the danger is intersectional. and it feels smart to feel terror and grief when the place i call home attacks me and everyone i love.

as the shock of this change wears off, i am feeling lit up about our liberation from false solutions, and lit up about futures where we don’t fear other humans. while i still feel anticipatory grief over the changes coming, i can also feel anticipation for the ways we will tell the stories of our desired future, and bring those stories to life.

i find that i am already in the right place and supporting the right work. my loved ones are supporting each other, some taking to the streets each night, some reaching out for broader alliances, all educating ourselves. we have already been working to unveil the wound and make real solutions, to make what we really need to thrive and evolve as a species and planet, politically possible.

while it is tempting to focus on ‘the enemy’, what we pay attention to grows, and we need to continue to focus on the growth of justice and liberation technologies that are not dependent on a sophomoric state within which a portion of white people are terrified of the inevitable and acting all the way out. so i am feeling for right balance between resistance and rejection of ignorance/misogyny/white supremacy and focusing on building what we need. rereading the parables to help with this understanding.

for those who claim this whole thing is just about class (i haven’t seen any “fuck poor people” or even “kill the elite” tagging since tuesday, only race/gender/sexuality/anti-immigrant slurs and threats, so…), i assert that our economic vision of an abundant cooperative localized economy is more compelling in the long run. but we don’t need to just say that, we need to live into it with the way we organize jobs and funding in our radical work. keep creating models that can stand the weight of our communities.

we need to deepen our practice of removing white supremacy from our language and norms. it is not a dark time, it is a pale time. our people are not ‘minorities’. my heartfriend anasa troutman also challenges us not to use the term ‘people of color’, defining ourselves only by non-whiteness. it’s time to be creative and specific. i am going to either use very specific language to speak of communities i am supporting now, or use the language of impact, for the broader set of communities impacted by this intersection regression unfolding in our national government.

its also a great time to stop being polite. be loving, kind, direct. but most of all, be truthful – full of the capacity to speak the truth when you see and feel it.

i remain fascinated by us, anticipating how we will move beyond reactionary rhetoric and action, to build our connections and move forward from our deepest love and longing.

if you are overwhelmed with fear and terror, find a friend, sit face to face, and do this together:

first, take turns naming your fears and/or griefs. let feeling come with them. with your hands show where the fears live in your body. mirror each other, so you both get the experience of seeing your grief on another.

second, place your hands on your bellies and take turns naming things that make you feel resilient. imagine those things filling you up. rock and roll a bit, make more room for resilience inside yourselves.

third, offer gratitude to each other for both having the complexity to hold grief/fear and resilience in the same miraculous body.

one day at a time. one brave, loving, radical day at a time.

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