Crocodile tears.

The neoliberal cries crocodile tears when stories of genocide and injustice are put before them for accountability. “T’wasnt me” as they reap the benefits of genocide and stolen lands. “Get over it” as if they would be able to get over such trauma themselves.

The neoliberal cries “JUSTICE” but “only as long as it doesn’t interfere with my capitalism. We mustn’t silence the sounds of capitalism for a little bit of peace in your neighborhood”

The conservative is more overt in their attempts at capitalizing and commodifying everything that isn’t white. They feel justified in their quest for white supremacy and have since first contact on Turtle Island. For a time, they were shamed into silence and a faux tolerance, but their hatred and quest for white supremacy seethed underground, like a vein of lava in an active volcano.

We will spend many more decades trying to overcome the conservative if the neoliberals insist on living in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. We will lose many hundreds more innocent lives, both human and more-than-human, as collateral damage to capitalism.

If we expect to quell the rage of the conservative white supremacist, we must not let the voice of the neoliberal have any volume in the conversation. If hearts don’t change, nothing changes.

Hospitality and hustle

A nice relaxing international trip. First one since the pandemic shut everything down. First trip back to Mexico in five years.

People here hustle. I mean, hustle. Do what they have to in order to make a living. Much respect for that spirit. We try to be generous with our spirits but also protective and wise.

We had a close call with some ‘sharks’ trying to get us to buy in to a timeshare. We were able to extract ourselves from that, but I had to put a lot of good prayers up to have an extraction with integrity.

This pace and place has been healing. 20 years of living and loving celebrated in a good way. I’m not a fan of ‘all inclusive ‘ properties. This place #riupalacepacifico has been a positive experience, mostly.

My heart is full of joy and gratitude.

We have been living with these magnificent birds, blessed by the aerial dance of some condors, soaring above the balcony. What a spectacular blessing to see them so close.

We walked down to la playa last night for a breath of ocean breeze. We are in our zone here.

My first sweetgrass harvest

Today I harvested my first few blades of sweetgrass and braided them with prayers for my relatives. Finding out about the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were found at the former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. has made raw wounds which have never been allowed to heal.

My prayers are small, kind of like the sweetgrass braid. The fragrance from this small strand is powerfully sweet and healing. It may be small, but it is still powerful. Likewise, my prayers.

For all the progress that has been made by Tribal communities, there is still so much atonement required of settler society. The truth of their greed, their insatiable hunger, is more evident with every day.

In spite of the ‘protections’ of Federal Indian policy, there are still reminders of how brutal their greed and insatiable hunger is.

215 babies. Acres of hundred year old cedar trees being taken off the land without any reverance. Lives that mean something. Lives that deserved to have more respect and care than what settler society can muster, even when they try.

Settler society doesn’t value kinship. Doesn’t understand responsibility. Doesn’t know how to manage rights and responsibilities.

I humbly suggest that you reach out to your medicines. Drink your water. Don’t sit with the pain alone.

Aries season

And I’m thinking about the medicine of prescriptive burns.

I’m in a season of creativity: where my desire to turn thoughts into things, in a good way. It is charged and running again. Some of the circuitry is still sluggish, but other routes are in full operation.

I have been practicing : presence : these last few weeks. I began mostly as a response to anxiety, and it has evolved into a spiritual practice, allowing me to reap benefits that I hadn’t envisioned. Voice is coming back. Dreams are returning. The anxiety has evolved as a teacher, not an enemy. This shifts everything. Instead of an immediate down-shift into fight or flight, I can now reposition my spirit to take a stance of student. Much more ease.

Being present. Creating a bio-feedback route of presence by laying hands on my own body, I am able to shift into the student stance when the anxiety presents itself. Affirmations that I have selected to intentionally shift my spirit help to align the neurons and ignite a super-charged energy that flows through out my body.

The more I practice, the easier it becomes.

Tuning into Joy. Already this morning, I have been able to identify two specific moments of joy. Joy is the fruit of intentional presence. A hummingbird, feeding itself on rosemary flowers. I have noticed that these hummingbirds are in a protective state, engaging as sentinel when other birds come near what I believe to be a nesting place. They are spiritual symbols of joy and I am blessed that we share this space.

Prior to that moment, as I stepped out onto the front porch to take in the air, I was drawn to a tiny, solitary bud on the camelia tree, at the base. The joy is mostly indescribable, but if I try to describe it here is what I surmised: this moment symbolizes for me the strength of an independent energy. The strength of establishing a foothold with little to no support. The indefatigable energy of showing up, regardless.

Don’t count this little one out.

Presence. This is medicine.

Learning Patience. As I practiced being present while making coffee, I was given another assignment to add to this practice: patience. I’m not a very patient person. I believe that I have a history of being somewhat skilled at being patient and am being called back to this practice. Another medicine, if I’m dedicated.

I contemplate the awareness that presence and patience are both necessary for prescriptive burns. Fire is a powerful transformative. If one isn’t paying attention, fire destroys, with abandon. Patience is required to keep the fire aflame in areas that need the most attention, to keep the fire from jumping to an area not intended for prescriptive burn.

May we all find our way to a patient approach to being present during this season of Aries. May we find the medicine of prescriptive burns as a way to heal our bodies, our minds, our spirits, and our communities. In this, may we find our way to more moments of joy.

Desire

It’s 1985. Probably midnight. I’m dancing, alone, in the basement apartment of my parent’s home in small town Oklahoma. I have recently removed myself from an oppressive quarter at a conservative Christian college, and I’m dancing with joy to U2’s ‘Boy’.

I feel free, relieved, and visceral joy. My faith had just been tested in ways that, looking back, seem more harrowing than when I was going through it. But at the time, getting tossed in the sea of doubt and despair seemed likely. “I Will Follow” was my anchor. This song represented for me an affirmation that, even though I would no longer participate in the oppression of organized religion, I would still follow the Christ I had come to know in my spiritual journey. Still to this day, ‘I Will Follow’ reminds me of those nights.

I hadn’t been allowed to listen to any music that wasn’t contemporary Christian growing up. I wasn’t allowed much of a social life if it wasn’t church related, or if I wasn’t accompanied by Christian chaperones. This music gave me permission to be a person of faith and not constrained by the dogmatic elements of religion.

I would listen to this cassette tape without end, going through batteries like there was no tomorrow (because, walkman). Then I bought ‘War’. This work of art cemented my lifelong love and affection for this group.

I loved these boys from Ireland for their ability to communicate through music that it was alright for this girl from small town Oklahoma to be a rebel and still stay true to her faith. ‘War’ affirmed something for me that I hadn’t quite yet been able to articulate: my soul is called to stand for social justice. I had just started reading about the civil war in El Salvador, and my views on the world began to shift, to gel. I began to formulate this quarrelsome epistemology, a conundrum if you will, that I still hold today: politics absolutely suck but there is no getting away from living a political life. Everything about life is political. U2’s music has felt like the Bifrost, a path that Creator made sure I could see as I walked this journey of life.

So, when I recently discovered that U2 had their own channel on Sirius XM Radio, I immediately made it a favorite. For the last year and a half, the magic of this music has breathed medicine into my heart, reviving the corporeal, and inspiring me to dance like a young punk again. But also, breaking my heart, in a good way. Tears fall, disintegrating the plaque built of fear, anxiety and anger.

For months, I have been trying to figure out how to submit the 5 U2 songs I desire most. I mean, I have been trying to figure out how to narrow down my love for these fellas and the art they create to only FIVE songs. Just now, ‘Red Hill Mining Town’ is playing, and I’m crying the words of the chorus, like I always do.

‘Window in the Skies’ – I used this song in one of my presentations for my undergrad degree. I was an adult college student, my lifelong learner path delayed by a lot of nonsense. “oh can’t you see what love has done?” – “the stone it has been moved” – “love makes strange enemies, makes love where love may please, soul and its stritpease, hate brought to its knees” – Shakepeare.

‘Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way’ – it never fails….the first few notes of this song starts and my heart melts, my eyes water. Depending on the day, I might just burst into a cleansing weeping. This message we all need so much. To me, this is a song of redemption. Bono recently had a commentary about this song, and it resonated with me at every level. Whenever I feel down, or despairing of the human condition, I remember that love REALLY is bigger than anything in its way. I will love this song till my dying day.

‘Summer Of Love’ – First off, let me just say that I absolutely love this whole album (‘Songs of Experience’) and the companion album, ‘Songs of Innocence’. I feel like these two beautifully capture the zeitgeist of early 2000’s globally. “Our teacher, our preacher, it’s nature, and like flowers growing in a bomb crater, from nothing, a rose, it grows”….essentially saying the same thing as Love Is Bigger Than Anything. Nature teaches us, preaches us, if we have ears to hear. And then Bono sings about the West Coast – not the one everyone thinks about – but the west coast of Aleppo, and the joy of imagining a rose growing from a bomb crater is shaken with the understanding of what happened in Syria. Unnecessary war. The casualties of unabashed capitalists who see globalization the same way the colonists always have. Life goes on. Or does it?

‘Zooropa’ – I have only recently become a fan of this song. When I first heard it and the album, I just couldn’t connect to it. I was politically naive, but not. Neo-nazism was not on my radar. It released a few months before my daughter was born, and I just couldn’t vibe with it. However, having listened to other fans over the last few months describe their love of this song, I’ve begun to see the brilliance of the song. It also reminds me of a recent trip to Germany with my husband, taking the overground in Berlin. I learned so much and felt so many emotions on that trip. I am absolutely a fan of this song.

‘I Will Follow’ – by the time I came to this music, I had already gone through a lot of trauma as a young person growing up in the middle of the country. My family had endured some pretty shitty circumstances, and we still managed to find a light at the end of many tunnels. Two specific lyrics stand out for me: “I was on the inside when they pulled the four walls down I was looking through the window I was lost, I am found” and “A boy tries hard to be a man, his mother takes him by his hand, if he stops to think, he starts to cry, oh, why?” These words resonate with me at a cellular level. I may be lost, the walls my crumble, and we may have a hand from our mother, but we still have to find our own path.

I’ve been trying to write this for at least four months. I’m still not satisfied with these as my top five songs, but they will do for now. Amazingly, I have only been to one U2 concert in my life. The timing was never right, or I wasn’t prepared to travel. I am hoping that we get to see them soon. Perhaps we might even travel to see them perform. I can’t wait till I can see them perform ‘Get On Your Boots’. My husband never liked this song, but I absolutely adore it, from the first time I heard it.

And I can’t wait to see what the boys put out next.

Blessings of 2020

There is an end of year vibe going around, “F*&k 2020” that I understand, at a level, but I think we need to be adult about our review of the heart-break and troubles of 2020.

If we stop and allow our spirits to settle a bit, long enough to quell the shock and awe of the legion of man-made abuses imposed upon our senses and sensibilities, is it possible to find blessings in 2020? I step into this moment of ponder with great care, knowing that the suffering has been immense and deep. I do not wish to turn my heart’s eyes away from the damage and trauma that many have experienced/are experiencing.

Still, as I contemplate in my spiritual tradition, I wish to explore calling to account any blessings we may have overlooked in the tumult of the year. What lessons may we build upon in order to preventatively protect each other, as each lived moment simultaneously becomes our past and our future?

With all the hope we have for a different 2021, it is my belief that we must remain responsible and rational in our approach to this new year. Optimism is good. Blind optimism with an intense desire to discard without review what we have experienced, what we have lost, how we have changed….not so much.

Nothing changes if we are silly about the transition of the calendar. Nothing changes, and we condemn ourselves to more cycles of trauma, oppression, contentiousness, and separation. Don’t get me wrong – I believe in magic, but practical magic is the stuff of heroes and masters, and heroes and masters know not to rely solely on the universe for their magic to be effective. We are, after all, each one of us, creators and creatrixes.

What of the grace we shared with each other? Was there enough grace in our interactions with each other to shine a light on 2020? I think we must first ask, do we even know how to recognize grace given, grace received? I personally can account for more instances of grace in my social spheres than I can remember from previous years. True grace. Given and received. I’m changed by those instances, and they shine in my space like precious gemstones.

What are we to make of the rebels? The ones who fought so hard for their ‘freedom’ but who did so without recognition of the responsibility of being free? When I think of rebels, what I have seen these last four years doesn’t fit my idea of what rebels should be. The behaviors of those folks who crowed the loudest about protecting their ‘freedom’ this year does not fit my understanding of ‘rebel’. There was no equality or justesse in their bellows…only selfish indignation and forceful attempts to maintain supremacy.

I like rebellion, as a rule. Rebellion is an important energy to keep alive. At bay, but alive. Rebellion is a powerful change agent – but devastatingly destructive if used improperly and unwisely. What can we learn from these supposedly rebellions actions of our neighbors, colleagues, family members? Who did they harm with their selfish rebelliousness? What actions are we to undertake to help those who were harmed? Will we ever be able to break bread and commune with the rebellious again, in peace and grace? Who will make the first overture to a peaceful reconciliation?

What are we to learn from the abusers of power? I believe that if we don’t contemplate the extent of their abuse, we will be limited in our ability to course correct their misdeeds. Do we need to change our approach to the eradication of oppression and inequality? Would it help us to acknowledge that people in power treat their application of inequitable policies and processes as a game? What approach will we have to adopt to stop being used as their football, hockey puck, soccer ball, baseball? There have been many hands this year trying to make light the work of eradicating inequality and oppression. I’m so grateful for their courage. I have watched, notedly from the sidelines, as their courage was countered with brutal and unjust oppression as they stood for justice and equality. What can we do to help advance the work their ground work and take it to the next level?

Some of the blessings I saw this year – people who were willing to stand for justice, in peaceful, if not rowdy, ways. I also saw people being more vulnerable with expressing their anxieties, pains, worries and fears. I observed the kindness of others in taking retirement from their long careers in order to preserve jobs for others who did not have that privilege. I saw people praying more, but not in a religiously oppressive way. I know people, who even while being constantly shocked by the callousness of elected and elevated folks, sought to find ways to see good in the world. Who constantly tried to pivot to find the light, the humor, the silver lining.

Those are my people. And when we stand together, arm in arm, heart to heart, as human beings, we make a better future for everyone. So, count the blessings. Take stock of the losses. Learn the lessons. Prepare and gird your being for another bumpy year, but know that together we shine bright. That together we have the ability to heal.

I am healing my brokenness, and finding new ways to help others. I find myself better equipped to choose optimism instead of pessimism, and to embrace the tenderness of a broken heart as a way to help others heal. I won’t run from my pain, sorrow, or anxiety. I will face it head on, and seek healing in the medicines of my ancestors.

Here is a blessing from Irish poet John O’Donohue, whose works have found their way back into my sphere. Happy New Year.

For Presence
Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

From “To Bless the Space Between Us”

5 5 5

Today is the first day of my 55th year as a human being on this planet. In a few days we will welcome in a new year, a 5 year. I’m learning that a 5 year brings opportunities for expansion and growth.

I’m more introspective than your average bear, and that can come at a cost. I miss the lightness of being sometimes, and my heart can veer toward pessimism if I don’t keep a steady hand on the wheel of my introspection.

As I wheel into my elder years, I’m keenly aware of the potential to become more afraid, more conservative, more constricted. And so I count it a blessing to be entering into that elder-hood during a 5 year.

May I see with an open and curious heart. May my eyes, heart, and ears receive the lessons presented to me, not to consume, as with an insatiable hunger, but to process and digest in an alchemical way. May what I receive be a blessing to all who are near.

May this year of expansion bring me a bigger heart and a smaller belly. A smaller butt would be nice too.

being thankful

Boozhoo Nindawemagaanidoog 

Tomorrow is one of the hardest days of the year for me. 

As Anisihiinaabe-kwe, whose Nookomis never claimed her Indigeneity because of shame and trauma associated with colonialism, I hold some bitterness in my heart toward the way this day is celebrated. I know the history, and I know the damage that has been wrought. 

But also, as Anisiinaabe-kwe, I know my ancestors would want me to walk in a good way, and that’s not possible if the bitterness is allowed to grow too strong. So, on the day that most people give thanks, I also allow myself some space to grieve. 

It is a tradition in Anishiinaabe culture on special days to make a plate for the ancestors, and to set it out with a prayer and some tobacco. To let them know that you remember them. To intentionally honor their sacrifice and their lives. I will ask them for guidance, too, as we are going through some challenging times.  

So, tonight, after doing all my prep for tomorrow, I will sit down with this Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address and bring my spirit to awareness of the meaning of the words. It will help set my spirit in a good way, so that I, too, can be grateful on this day. So that I can celebrate and give thanks in a way that is honest.

In that spirit,  I want to say that I’m grateful for each one of you reading this message. For the courage, grit, kindness, optimism, and care that you have brought to the shared spaces throughout this difficult year. I will tell my ancestors how grateful I am for each and every one of you.

Chi miigwech

Giga wabaamiin

Change in Seasons

Wrapping up 2020 will be wholly unlike any end of year narrative that we have had in quite some time. We are ending a decade, fighting a virus, fighting with each other, watching the planet change in devastating ways, and trying to keep some semblance of what has been deemed ‘normal’ for a very long time. We enter into a season of harvest, where gratitude and generosity have traditionally been a comfort to the souls of so many. This year, we also have a momentous change in front of us with the upcoming election. As we come into this season of voting, and in an effort to change the conversation from one of “politics as contact sport” to “politics as contract between neighbors”, here are some thoughts and questions to consider as you move to the polls.

What’s really up for election this year? Is it freedom? Prosperity? Control? If freedom, whose freedom? If prosperity, whose prosperity? If control, control of whom, and by whom? There are many ways to answer these questions that forsake the habit of critical thought. Those who are too weary or too distracted to see a wicked problem and address it with integrity also have a propensity for offering a short, off the cuff, ill-articulated answer. “My freedom”, “My prosperity”, and “My control” seem to be the answers that so many are choosing this year. Without regard for what that really means, when implemented and executed.

Should the clarion call to be to vote in a manner that feeds the foundational energetic concepts of these UNITED States, so that we vote in the spirit of “Our freedom”, “Our prosperity”, and “Our control” of the lives that are intertwined and interdependent?

We approach the harvest season, whereby our ancestors gathered the product of their hard work, their dedication to the land, and in preservation of the idea of a hopeful future. We also approach the season of giving, where our ancestors practiced the art of giving without hope of receiving, because giving is an act of love, an act of honor, an act of integrity. When we give, we receive.

What’s at stake this election is immense. Oppression, bigotry, destruction, and hate are rising unabated. What would happen if we cast our votes in the name of collaboration, acceptance, creation, and love instead? What would happen if we chose to be true to the spirit of the season, true to the spirit of freedom, justice, and prosperity?

When you strike that vote, what will your candidate do after they win their race? Will they build bridges for you and your community? Will they disappear into the halls, offices, and conference halls where only one viewpoint is heard? Or will they open their doors and their town halls to you, hear your concerns, help your neighbors, friends and families?

As easy as it would be to cast a vote without thinking critically of the aftermath, let’s all think without the madding crowd of opinion and agenda-driven conversations. Think about your neighbors. Think about your children. Think about the future of this country. But also think about neighbors and children you don’t know, who also deserve a life of freedom, justice, and prosperity.

The ideas that liberals, progressives, and centrist democrats carry with them into the polls must be robust enough to meet the challenge after the election. We must be committed to creating space for all – but fighting with integrity every action that harms or minimizes people we care about. We must be prepared in this way no matter which way the election goes.

Let’s vote with a good heart, a heart full of gratitude, not fear. A heart full of generosity, not selfishness. Let’s commit our hands to creating an equitable reality that silences the voices of oppression, bigotry, and hate and removes the destruction from our communities.

RIP RBG

G*d rest her soul. May she find her rest. We have at least 20 years of fighting ahead of us, but she laid us a good, strong foundation and gave us an exceptional model to follow. It will be an honor to carry whatever tiny piece of her legacy I can into the future.