This Land Is Your Land–Fuck You, No It Isn’t

I have a hard time with change.  And before you say, “But everybody does!” I need you to know I HAVE A REALLY HARD TIME WITH CHANGE.  I am continually in dialogue (used to be conflict, but I’m learning) between my yardstick of a left brain, my hot fudge sundae of a right brain, and my dancing body.  Likely because of this, I get many opportunities to study people in the midst of transition, myself included.  How is it that we are one way today, and perhaps an entirely different way tomorrow, next week, or next year?

A part of transition is leaving.  You must leave a person, place, or thing in order to go somewhere else.  You’ll find these blog posts absolutely pockmarked with my distaste for leaving and the necessity of it.  Yet, here I am again exploring a new layer of what it means to leave.  I’ve decided to end the romantic portion of a long-term relationship with a lover.  I know this is not a new dilemma in the history of humankind, but I have received some very new information about myself this month during the process:

I do not really know how to leave anythinig until I am exhausted (more about this in upcoming posts–the next few weeks worth of posts are basically going to be me processing this subject).

This all landed me thinking about colonies yesterday.  I know that feels like you’re missing about fifteen steps, but remember readers, my right brain=hot fudge sundae–it’s delicious, but things tend to melt all over each other in there.  The writing that resulted was done in a park, on a concrete stoop, and on a dance floor.  I was going to wait and give you an edited version, but I like the first draft, even the parts I don’t really like, including the fact that WordPress fucks with my line spacing any time I copy and paste a poem I’ve written.  Not made for poets, are we WordPress?  Join the rest of the world on that one.

This Land Is Your Land–Fuck You, No It Isn’t

How can it be as a white woman–

unraped land,

unerased language,

unscattered clans–

that I can know anything about colonies

beyond 8th grade Social Studies?

But then what do I call the unfinished stories

of my mother and father,

crawling up my neck,

braving gray matter waves?

They lay stakes,

poor foundations

in the place my vision

wants to tangle and creep.

Or the lovers,

who told part of the truth

so I could never release or blame them?

Put covers and locks

on the wells of my heart,

made my blood private property.

Every person I’ve left really,

threatens to punish the stride in my step–

regret is the new religion of the new state.

Forget you used to know courage, adventure,

and connection to a borderless tongue.

And I know it’s not the same, but these colonies,

and a thousand others, threaten to smother

with benevolent hate, promenading as protection.

Some days they “just” deny me a vote,

others I’m caught in the street with my hands up

begging an agent of this power,

“Don’t shoot?”

My sovereign shares the crown with other powers

in a place that is my home.

The promises made for pleasing both

are immense and fake as set pieces

for a low budget musical.

I begin to see why I have trouble leaving before I’m exhausted.

And I know it is not the same.

So maybe the question should change.

Instead of, “Why do we continue to colonize

those who are already free?”

Why do we sometimes turn away from violence done to us–

and sometimes relish inflicting it on others?

A butterfly landed on my shoe in the park today.

It didn’t stay for very long.



Mandalas, Taiko, and the BFG

“This is the third year in a row you know.”

“For what?” I said to my Pay Attention voice.  I was coloring a mandala after putting the last kiddo of the day to bed, washing the last dish, double checking the last door lock: I wasn’t exactly opposed to revelations, but I was tired.  I followed the thought anyways as I continued to pull colored pencils…

2015–While reading Women Who Run With the Wolves I resonate with the wisdom of The Scar Clan chapter, and before I know it, I am designing altars to parts of my life where I am leaving something behind–history that wants to be present, habits, foundational beliefs, others errors I’d claimed as my own. You name it, I found symbolic representation for it.  Then one by one, as I understood it to be time, I left them in different places.  One under a seat on Caltrain, one in a park near my home, one outside my dance hall one chilly Monday night while the sweat dried on my neck.

2016–I spend two months walking the labyrinth at the German/Chinese school.  I walk at night with the cleaning crew giving me a wide berth, I walk during the weekends when a church rents out the space–kids occasionally watch me as they play tether ball in the courtyard nearby.  I walk in the rain, I walk in the cold, I walk bored, and I walk interested.  All I really know is–I need to walk.

2017–My movement teacher gives the entire Monday night set up crew books of mandalas for 2016 Christmas.  Another friend gives me the loveliest box of colored pencils, bursting with shades of every color.  I consider that maybe I’m looking stressed out to people, but that brain squiggle disappears the moment I start my first mandala.  Around the same time, I decide to take up Taiko drumming with my whitey white self.  Why Taiko?  I saw a flyer one day walking down Castro Street and thought, “Yes, that.”  The rest is history.  I learn to get my tall self low to the drum, I learn to swing high and fast and hard, I learn how much Epsom salts I needed in my bathtub each Sunday night.

I was shocked and grateful as I wrapped the blanket tighter in the drafty house.  I know what I need.  I’ve always known, even when I’m not listening or don’t have the tools to implement actions.  I even know the best sequence in which to provide these things to myself!  My rational brain looked over the list and took stock of what I think I gained from each.  The altars helped me review where I’d been, but more importantly, they helped me start to shift my relationship to change.  In the past it had been something that was done to me, but I began to see that I could participate in it through both welcome and release.  If I was willing to pay attention, I could make transitions.  My days and nights in the labyrinth helped me to really start listening to myself again.  Even when I felt like it was a wickedly stupid idea on the way there, and my time would be way better spent on Netflix, on the way back there would often be a clear action I wanted and needed to take.  It deepened the process of slowing down and paying attention, this time to the present instead of the past.  Finally, playing in color and sound at the beginning of this year is shifting how I take up space and how I take in what’s happening around me.  Both music and color dissolve the boundaries and expectations I put upon things.  As two of our universal languages, they broaden what I can see through my limited cultural lens.  And as I inhabit this moment in my life, I very much want to see bigger.

In all of these very different, very meditative activities, I feel a new capacity arising: the capacity to welcome surprise.  And not just the good surprise, like flowers or an unexpected compliment, but the surprise of ‘the yearly rent hike is in and I have 18$ in the bank.’  A question I have recently asked myself is, “When life bumps you like that, or harder, could there possibly be love in the bumps/slams/dings/squashes/crushes?”  Though I have not had anything violent enough happen recently to test that question, my feeling is that the answer, underneath all the heartache, is yes.  There is love in the bumps.

Simply put, the universe seems to be investing a lot these last few years in helping me become more flexible, more fluid in the way I respond to my life.  I think where I get in trouble is when I spin my gears over the question, “Why?”  Is there a momentous thing coming that will require all these lessons?!?!  Maybe.  But I think it’s just as possible that they are simply for the “purpose” of helping me be me in the truest way possible in any moment.  Whichever line of thinking is “correct”, I know longer fear I’m going to miss whatever is coming.

Yesterday I watched the Disney remake of Roald Dahl’s BFG on Netflix.  It opens with our heroine wandering through a darkened orphanage with this voice over: “It was the witching hour, when the boogie man comes out.  The girls say the witching hour arrives at midnight.  I think it comes at three in the morning, when I’m the only one left awake, like now.”  She goes to the window when she hears a noise, and accidentally catches a glimpse of the giant.  Before you know it, a big hand comes through the window and plucks her away, and the adventure begins.  My reaction?  I knew I hadn’t been feeling like reading lately because I’d been thinking of the wrong books–esoteric, serious, grown-up titles.  They are all things I truly want to read, at some point, but my brain is asking for different fuel now.  I had the briefest moment of poo-pooing my desire to read children’s books, but then I simply said to myself, “We don’t argue about this stuff anymore.” I knew I’d be in the library before the week was over, checking out all the Roald Dahl books I could, both read and unread, to commence another meditative leg, to answer another curious call.  I will provide myself with what I need, even if I don’t quite know yet why I need it.

I’ll let you know how the reading goes!

Is It Still True?

5:20 “I want to take a bath when I get home.”

6:15 “I need to feed the cat before I take a bath.”

7:45 “I just want to go to bed when I get home.”

8:30 “I want to watch Frankie & Grace and eat mango mochi when I get home.”

Just now “Maybe I should put laundry in while I write this post and eat my mango mochi.”

I have stumbled on something powerful and scary recently.  For those of you who have spent large portions of your life well resourced, independent, conscious, and engaged…well, you may find it ho hum.  It is a simple question, and like all simple questions, has the power to rock one’s face off if invited.  It always starts the same:

Is it still true…

Is it still true I want to plop in front of Netflix when I get home?  Is it still true that I am feeling ready for bed?  Is it still true that I want to go home at all?  These may seem like mundane examples, but they are how I plan to continue building muscle around this somewhat new skill of actively creating my life.  I don’t know about you all, but I get into a rut pretty fast.  Nowhere near as fast as I used to, but still fast enough that I am serious about exercising my rut-busting tools when they are presented to me.

Because too many little moments of auto-pilot lead to large stretches of life on auto-pilot, core beliefs and strategies created without much consent, push back, or wisdom of intuition.  I realized just last Monday at dance that I was still interacting quite often as if I believed I had to be responsible for other people’s feelings, to rescue them even if they hadn’t asked for rescue.  I was still living as if I believed I was not a separate person.  But I heard my heart quite clearly as it attempted to catch me up:  “That belief is different now, you can interact differently if you choose.”  If we couldn’t ask about shifting truth, I would have missed this adjustment and the ways I saw it filter through my day-to-day life this week.

So, there’s little doubt in my mind that it is a powerful question to ask about something, but why scary?  Well, for one, it requires a lot more work, more attention paid, as does everything while it is being built into habit.  It is also an ongoing acknowledgement that most of what we consider as ‘truth’ is subjective.  I HATE THAT WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING!!!  My left brain wants, and will likely continue to want, to nail things down, make binding agreements, and then watch everyone and everything play by the rules.  That is part of why Christianity and public education were both so appealing to me at one point.  While all this huffing and puffing is happening on the left, my right brain, gently with her newly granted powers, says, “You know control is not real.”  But more than that, she’s taught me the delicious delight of being surprised when I am willing to attend to the moment.

I’m sure I will continue to do things just because I put them on a to-do list or in some other fashion flipped the auto-pilot switch.  That inattention to gentle shifts may or may not have serious consequences, but I feel like I can avoid it more and more as I wield my new question over the everyday.

And to answer your burning question, I think I will feed the cat, then watch Frankie & Grace in the bathtub.