Unapologetic Lazarusing: The Sacred Work of Beyoncé and Lizzo

You know how sometimes you feel like there’s no hope left, and then you are brought back to life?

Perhaps you’ve felt as down in the dirt as Lazarus, beyond death four days, and a miracle floods through your body and suddenly you are twerking through Bethany?

Or you’re a modern human with awareness of the world, so you are just grief- and change- weary and already tired of the 2020 election and ready for the post nationalist, post capitalist world.

Or things are good but you’re hella jetlagged and need to be inspired to soul twerk and self-love swag as often as possible.

Or maybe that’s just me.

This post is about two people who bring you back to life. They are resilience bearers, hands and lips offering up blessings of breath, song, affirmation, encouragement to continue.

Beloveds, today I am testifying to the respiring powers of two incredible divas from Houston, TX: Supreme Beyoncé and Cosmic Extravaganza Lizzo.

Our Beyoncé released Homecoming, her HBCU-infused Coachella performances, yellow and pink, edited together into one seamless event. And then, because she is generous beyond measure, our Deliverance deepened with the story of how she managed to reclaim her husband (implied and documented in a high percentage of her text), have surprise twins via unexpected c-section, and then recover to deliver what cultural history books will teach as the Blackest, most bombastic performance of any music festival ever. “Ain’t that bout a bitch?”

She also released the live album, and it’s astonishing to hear both how excellent she and her background vocalists sound (knowing from memory that she’s also dancing basically the whole time – those lungs are blessed and trained!), as well as seeing how incredible her intimate songbook is in the multitudinous realm of adaptations.

Plus, the video and album both feature Blue Ivy serving us young diva, well loved. And Rumi and Sir, gifted to us exactly as Beyoncé wants us to see them – in her arms and with her permission.

With this work, Beyoncé shows us the pleasure of hard work well done, of having no ceiling, of reclaiming Black life and culture as a central story that can and should be celebrated by any and every one, be it thousands of white people in flower crowns on drugs at a music festival, or the millions of humans around the earth who’ve never considered the healing powers of HBCUs. Or, most especially, Black Americans who see ourselves and our loved ones swagging all over that stage.

The emergent strategist in me is very excited by the skillful unveiling of the process of such an incredible offering, the sweat and hunger and iteration. As usual, she does something even better than satisfying our expectations. Beyoncé says there is no force in the world that can keep her from her excellence. Witnessing this, we are invited, compelled, to show up for our own excellence with more precision, sacrifice, gratitude, calling and celebration.

And then there’s Lizzo, who just tore it up at this year’s Coachella. I may have mentioned somewhere that I was sitting behind her on an airplane when the Coachella announcement went live and I was so touched by her authentic glee. She was gracious when I stanned a tiny bit. She has been on my radar for a few years because she is a throw-it-down badass singer who is also carving out new ground for what thick big juicy yummy humans can dress, act and twerk like.

She just dropped her new album Cuz I Love You and from the first note Lizzo is demanding that you feel her. And yourself, your preciousness and power. It’s one self-love anthem after another, none of them corny or trite.

Lizzo has been working so hard, showing up everywhere, blowing up, twerk and fluting her way around the world. The album is unapologetic! It’s full to overflowing with Lizzo’s irresistible badassery, her love force, her humor – she shows the range we need to develop in order to clock what’s going on and realize that self-adoration is the key, central survival strategy.

While it may be hyperbolic to use the word bombastic twice in one post, Lizzo lives into the word too. Perhaps that’s the common thread between these two teachers of liberation through the body and voice…they are both unapologetic in every aspect of their power and talent.

And me? I’m just grateful to be alive again on 4/20 with all of this glorious work to listen to, my own dreams to pursue, and a Saturday to revel in Black femme feminist witchery and boss shit. It’s a double miracle for the weekend in a weekend of miracles and I’m bowing in deep (verbose) reverence.

before kondo, kondo, beyond kondo

five years before marie kondo was conceived, i was born, a virgo oldest child to military grade parents who were also 2/3 of the sagittarian horde in our household. i was not so much a neat child as a particular one – i like things the way i like things. i came out of the womb adjusting my hair and pushing my sleeves up, wanting more touches of color in the hospital room.

military life, moving every 2-3 years, gave me many opportunities to learn what i loved, how i wanted my room/home to feel, and how to let go.

in my mid 20s i moved from NYC to Cali, having realized after ten urgent important years that i was incompatible with the new york lifestyle. i wanted less performance, less rushing and elbowing, to be less on, less at the center. i wanted a simpler life. so for that move, i committed to only driving across country the things i loved and needed. i would pick something up, assess if i loved it, go through the internal struggles of negotiation and making excuses for why i wanted to keep things i didn’t love, and let go of most of my things. i gave away things i loved but didn’t need – i lovingly curated boxes of books for dear friends, i let people shop in my donation bags. sometimes i still come across those items in a friend’s house and they make me smile.

i decided to do this practice a few times a year, especially with clothes. it has served me well. people have commented that it’s a virgo thing that i do this. perhaps. i don’t like clutter but i do like things, and acquire new lovely joy-inducing things regularly. but! i don’t like cleaning. so i tend to live in spaces small enough to clean quickly – and the less clutter, the less cleaning. and order serves my creativity – when everything is in place my mind can settle in on what doesn’t exist yet, or what i am learning to say.

i first heard about marie kondo from a friend who knew of my practice. she said, “this is like what you do, but she made a whole book about it.” i didn’t read the book, nor have i watched the show, but her konmari method of tidying up, minimizing clutter while increasing home joy, is now ubiquitous in my world. i feel like she’s living the life i could have lived if i hadn’t failed french and joined the rebellion. i am so grateful she exists because friends who once chalked up my practice as my weird virgo shit now text me pictures of their reduced belongings and the bags of stuff leaving their home.

marie kondo is not a virgo, so maybe there are forces at work in this world stronger than astrology. in part she traces her methods back to shinto religious practices. i love this idea, as this reduction ritual has always felt sacred to me. how to be in love and not attachment? how to see what i have as treasure without growing greedy?

all this to say that i kondo’d my kitchen yesterday. while i do my clothing regularly, and recently did my bedroom and bathroom, the kitchen had been getting away from me. i had a set of rainbow colored knives with the paint peeling off, unused and dangerous. i had eight more mixing bowls than anyone needs, and tupperware with no lids, and tea that hasn’t been considered for a decade.

this kind of cleaning gives me home joy. taking bags of stuff out of my home to donate and toss and recycle gives me home joy. coming back into my apartment and seeing the space i have reclaimed gives me home joy.

but/and i was also reminded of my little bag obsession. whenever i clean my home i find little bags full of chapstick, pens, gift cards, stuff i think i’ll need when i travel. in transit i never open these bags, but they’re with me just in case. it’s not unusual to find 3-4 little bags in my suitcase.

in the kitchen i learned i do the same thing with tea. i assemble little ziplock bags with an assortment of my favorite teas. i travel with them, rarely drinking the tea, and then bring it home and put it in the tea area. i found four meticulously assembled baggies with black, green and herbal teas. two had tea balls in the bag for loose tea, though i hadn’t packed loose tea.

i’m thinking of this as the nomadic clutter of home joy. because i live a life of frequent travel, home has to always be with me where i am. i love my apartment, and without thinking, i bring the small comforts of home joy with me everywhere – a reminder of my extensive tea collection, of my self care practices, of my body having needs. even if i don’t open and use what’s inside, these little bags are sacred, and i love what they represent.

but i am upgrading my home joy game. i’m going to just have one beautiful small bag – of tea, chapstick and pens – and carry it like i do my altar bag, as a sacred beloved thing, functional if needed, but not needed because i need function, just needed because i need home.

the place i am interested in exploring a bit is what we actually need, all of us. how do we kondo at a collective and interdependent level? what if what brings you joy is a zionist soda machine, or artifacts made of ivory, or fancy temporary technology that harms the earth, or a wasteful amount of personal space that requires tons of heat and energy resources? there’s a space for connecting kondo’s thinking to a just transition, to being in right relationship not just to home in the individual sense, but to all of us having enough and having joy in the home of the whole.

perhaps that’s in the book i haven’t read yet, i just haven’t heard it in the flurry of excited energy around konmari. and i don’t know that i will watch the show, cause i live this method in my heart. i am mostly writing this as a note of gratitude, that kondo has made my ways less weird, more delightful, and more common. and an invitation, to see it all as home, to measure it all with joy.

birthday blessing

we have now entered the sacred window that only comes once a year, between Beyoncé’s birthday today and my own on the 6th.

a lot of people have asked how they can support me in my new IRS situation, which involves paying the govt more money than i have. every month. (i was a war tax resister, i reflected on my learnings on my blog)

any money given to me will just be more taxes to pay later. but what really matters to me is supporting and protecting the work of the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute. i don’t want the work to drift because i’m being made to feel scarcity. i’m feeling clearer than ever that it’s time to offer emergent strategy facilitation training, i want to answer this call. monthly or one-time donations to make sure that this budding little institute can actually cover my salary, let me hire someone brilliant to grow the work, and let us focus on making the offer of facilitation training for 2019, this is the birthday gift i want.

if you have been moved by emergent strategy, by the thinking and writing and facilitation, if it can come from the heart, please give. in the memo put “ESII birthday donation” so i can thank you all for being my birthday blessing.

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michael brown’s homegoing

i have been watching ferguson and feeling many many things. how unique this moment is, and how familiar. how exciting the responses have been, and how exhausted i am by the need to respond. most of all, how to manage all of these front lines, all these black bodies swinging, all this brutality to brown skin.

where i sit in detroit, it is a beautiful, soft, cricket-full summer. and there are masses with no water. the u.n. said it isn’t right, like they said gaza isn’t right. so. there isn’t much relief in the moral high ground.

tonight it is the virgo new moon, and it is a night for prayer, ritual, magic and saying what it is we want. i want the kind of safety that comes when no one is afraid of you, when you are loved unconditionally, when you can make mistakes and live to learn the lessons, when you can rest assured that you will only die of natural causes, when you have every opportunity to live a beautiful and impactful life, when you can be bold and young and vivacious and sassy and creative and brave and tender and old and full of tears, pleasure, laughter, wisdom, new life. and black. i want, i invoke, the safety for black and brown people, for all people, that will come with the healing of the species from the mental illness of racial supremacy/inferiority.

i thought the moon should know.

they called him michael
and he was her only blameless child
and you would have loved him
but he died so quickly,
like a nameless child
(chorus of a song i wrote in high school, for another brown boy who never made it home)

lay him in the dirt
lift him high, raging angels
let him make it home
(for black august on the day of michael brown’s funeral)

napowrimo poem 14: what is this togetherness?

prompt: write a poem in which every sentence, except for the last one, is in the form of a question.

i feel very together in my life right now. the virgo influenced poetry of it:

is the detritus bagged
& stacked out in the alley
is the compost tucked
deep in backyard bins

are the clothes all clean
& folded & stored
is the walk in my bones
the clay mask off my skin

was the book by the bed
consumed all the whole day
is the work on my table
my joy beyond wealth

is a feast all prepped
from the earth & the sea
these are sunday songs
this is loving myself