Sunday, November 24, 2013

Abuelita's Voice & the bird in my belly

It's here!

I've written about the bad-ass writing course I participated in last month.  Now, you can read the fruits of our labor.  The words are vulnerable, bold, and so bright.

Check it!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

F**k it, Dragons

My friend, Monserrate, cracks me up.  In recent months, as he describes it, a window opened to this world.  He's been gazing in, enchanted, and transcribing the journey.  Recently, he wrote, "In nine months of writing, I've exercised self-restraint in my storytelling.  Today I said, F*** it.  Dragons."

That's the mantra.  I can't get enough!

Whenever I'm feeling timid or doubtful, "F*** it.  Dragons."

I keep over-explaining my life, usually to myself.  The self-critique is that it's too much, I'm too all over the place, chasing a passion for writing, a yen to be digging in soil, my love of yoga.

F*** it.  Dragons.

Kevin & I were talking about the versatility people cultivated in themselves even two generations ago.  We weren't quite so stove-piped, so specialized.  A doctor still played baseball on the weekends.  A mechanic wrote poetry.  Farmers were (I say are) philosophers.  Certainly, people today are multidimensional, but I think too many of us are apologetic.

Certainly, our efforts much have depth and sustenance.  Cultivating a sampler platter of passions leaves us superficial.  I'm allowing myself to be a Renaissance Woman, or as Kevin prefers, a Jack of all Trades.  I want to clean my home with gusto and some salsa in my steps.  I'm planting a farm in my backyard.  I plan to publish my poetry.  I teach and practice yoga to stay apart of an ancient lineage.

F*** it.  Dragons.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creative charge

This has been a seriously creatively charged fall.

I've written here that life got rough this past summer.  Maybe beginning in July and never really ending, things felt intense and sometimes out of control.  There were a series of events with family and funds-- all right at the root of our sense of stability in the world.

I'm a control freak.  I don't take kindly.

I really worked to be open, vulnerable, and keep moving.  There were real affects-- usually I run my behind off in the fall (last year completing a Half Marathon).  Haven't done a lick of that.  My yoga practice really suffered.  My time was stretched thin as I worked more to refill our coffers.  As a result of working in new venues I kept finding more and more work.  Now my time is a bit imbalanced and I'm working to realign.

In early October, I gulped and offered a Yoga to Unleash Creativity workshop at a conference full of accomplished creatives.  The workshop was well-received and gave me access to this dynamic event full of mutual support and ingenuity.  Right on the heels I began Caits Meissner's Digging Deep, Facing Self online poetry class.  I'd never done anything like that before either-- and it rocked, hard.  Every day I woke up to detailed, inspiring prompts that coaxed completely unexpected stories onto page after page.  I wrote my buns off.  I communed with other dynamic female artists, mutually supported, edited, and celebrated.

Last night it ended.


It has to.  Those experiences are so rich because they're finite.  From that experience, the conference that preceeded, and all the damn living I've been doing, I have a lot to say and new ways to say it.  My poetry is becoming more visually rich and emotionally evocative-- all thanks to these fantastic teachers (with Caits at the helm!).

The inner narrative recently has been, "Bye bye 2013.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"  As I think back on what got stirred up in Shiva's big destructive dance, I think I may have to redefine 2013.  It was a hard year.  It was big and smacked me around a bit.

But it gave me a lot to say.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seeking asylum in Cuba

Not legal,
with visa I stepped on
forbidden ground and big ups
to you, each of you, sitting
on over-turned milk crates
playing dominoes, floating
salsa and bachata through
the streets, chewing on
cigars, and tapping sandals
on pavement.  Big ups.  No shyness,
you called me on packing my
things and stepping into
your hood feeling entitled
to big plates of plantains
and a dose of Revolution.

Not that
you didn’t make space for
me, not that there wasn’t
a seat for me in those history
lectures.  No, you were happy
to have access to the “Little
Imperialists,” as you called me
and my classmates.  But
you wanted to be clear.  I
could walk down your sagging
streets and listen to the folk songs
bouncing against pastel
walls.  I could drink mojitos
and sweat late into the night.
I could pause at Che murals and
escape the huracanes.  I

She wrote of leaving
rich parents to create molotov
cocktails.  She told me about when
the hotels were taken over to
become housing for sex
workers while they learned
new trades.  Her reward was
half a diplomat’s house.  The
hotels now are for
Italian tourists who still manage
to find
sex workers.

She wrote of visiting
Chicago (somehow?) and
feeling invisible.  No “Oye,
nena!”  No hiss hiss.  Those
sounds plagued me. I wanted
the privacy of averted glances,
the space to take in this
place without accountability
and big ups,
y’all didn’t give it to me.  I
hid on the rooftop, put on my
headphones and merged
Caribbean breezes with
the hip hop of home.
She said those hisses, those
quick friendships didn’t mean what
I thought.  She didn’t
feel danger in the  male gaze.

Not yet legal to
drink in my home
I dropped back aguafuego,
big-eyed, gulping at
your laughter hearing
stories of Mariel, rough waters,
small rafts,
big will to live, to survive
to find Revolutions
on islands

at sea.

At Parque Lenin, Havana, Cuba, as a 20 year old exchange student in 2001.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bones of Thanksgiving

I've got a bone to pick.

On Thanksgiving, my thoughts are with the Indigenous of the Americas.  I think of reservations on barren land, systemic poverty, and rampant racism.  Many folks in the U.S., especially white folks, love to romanticize an idea of an Indigenous person who shared food with shivering pilgrims.  There's nowhere near enough education about the genocide of the Indigenous and the current conditions for survivors.

I think of Leonard Peltier, a Lakota political prisoner, who has spent the majority of his life incarcerated, despite a multitude of evidence that points towards innocence.

I think of the mass slaughter of turkeys and the larger meat industry.  Apart from the unbearable brutality towards animals, this industry is among the most environmentally devastating.

You totally want to invite me to your Thanksgiving, right?

Yeah, I know.  Activists are often accused of being kill joys.  Get it.  Duly noted.  And I also understand that for many, Thanksgiving is a moment of warmth with family.  It's tradition in an often culturally-starved, or consumption-diluted U.S.  We need ritual.  We need culture.  Yes, yes.

Here's my bone: what is it that makes us uncomfortable in sitting with both tradition and reality?

In yoga, we constantly increase our capacity.  We find more room in our body for strength and flexibility.  We find space in our mind for greater awareness.  I wonder if we aren't capable of the same in these moments where our desire for tradition knocks up against inconvenient truths.  Can we have the capacity to hold space, and maybe even supportive action, with Indigenous people and causes?  Can we love our families, our time with them, and not suppress these larger realities?

I hope so.  Granted, I'm not generally so sentimental.  I'm not the nostalgic in my household (that title goes unequivocally to Kevin).  Holidays don't twinkle in my eye.  I think I might draw a bit closer to that flame if I felt light was being equally shed to the whole.

Let's illuminate.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It Is Big

In the last few days, I've been asked several times, in various venues, by different people, what I want for my life and what I would change.

I want what I'm living.

What would I change?  More money.  Just enough to feel more stable.  More time.  Just enough to feel more balanced.

I wouldn't change where.  This spot is too rich with soil that knows my footprint and plants that surprise me with their blossoms, patterns, and response to wind.  This place is too filled with people who inspire me and fill my days.  There's too much work to do here; to support the community that exists and continue collaborating towards more growth.  And it's the best place to return to after having run around the globe a bit.

I wouldn't change who.  If anything, I'm working on changing myself, to be more open, available, and vulnerable.  I'm learning how to FEEL more.  I've gotten good at boundaries.  Now I have to get good at having the judgment to use them and the wisdom to sometimes let go.

My people.  Big time joy in my backyard.

I wouldn't change what.  I have a nagging doubt that I spread too thin, that my passions are too distant from one another, that there isn't sufficient cohesion.  As I wrote to my artist's community: Shit.  This is my life.  It is big.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dirt & Muscle

I've been tasked with being vulnerable.  Today, I'm supposed to publicly show my soft underbelly.  I'm currently in a (fantastic!) writing course, Digging Deep, Facing Self with Caits Meissner.  It's a big part of why I've been so quiet on this platform-- I haven't been reading (unheard of for me) nor listening to NPR (equally strange) because I've been delving into memory & imagination.  Part of this process is gaining a little experience with being exposed.  Hence, a piece from the course to share with you.  I would greatly appreciate your feedback in the comments below.  Interacting with creative work helps me grow-- & I'm happy to offer the same to you.

Dirt & Muscle


We hid in late night lamp light
stories gathered in our eyes.
Generations of women
with their fingers out of the covers
clutching a book.

Shuffling at the church pew,
holding a hymnal
the words dusty.  
Catch tight breath.  Chewing
clunky waiting to
speak spirit.

The barn relaxes into
Tennessee hills, where
my grandmother hid
to read.  The tired
boards creaked with
teenagers leaning against
one another hearing the piano
sing what hymns forbade.

The beams held when
my great-grandmother
tied her noose, hanging
limp against light.


I keep a jar of Georgia clay by
my bed.  My grandfather scooped
it bare-handed from the earth.
Fertile enough to
grow peanuts, suspend water,
absorb blood.  

Dig in clay and muscle
to sweat off your sins.  Press
thumbs together, earth distills
to silk.  I’ll paint you with soil.  
Heal your skin.  
I plant to purge.  

I hide and watch the
sand separate, watch the
clay turn to dust.  
Southern earth
that spit me out
won’t let me
back in.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The veils are thin

Warm, bright, happy, & Feliz Dia de los Muertos, Samhain, All Saints Day, Halloween, & Diwali to each of you. I'm tripping over all of these people scattered throughout the world & throughout the ages who felt that this was an auspicious time to commune with the ancestors-- to Dig Deep.

"'This is the night when the veil is thin between the worlds, the seen and the unseen, the day-to-day and the mysteries!' Happy Halloween, and blessed, Samhain to you all. With the ending of summer and the gathering of the harvest we celebrate endings that lead to new beginnings, mourn our beloved dead and celebrate life's resilience. Light a candle, tell a story, remember someone you've loved, and listen for the wisdom of the ancestors." -Starhawk