5x rest in power

The events in Charlottesville are still reverberating around the world, and the legacy of white supremacist violence lives on unchallenged by the state. At home I am thinking about the anti racism billboard campaign that managed to enrage local white supremacists and "law abiding" racists alike. At the time of the release every public forum seemed to be flooded with a rage fuelled by fear of self reflection. Neighbours openly argued for racism (and against the campaign) unmasked and unashamed. Often with inconspicuous statements like "the city has better things to spend tax payer money on" moving the financial burden of education, let alone reparations, from the white public benefiting from the system to the individuals affected and their allies. As far as I know no direct violence erupted because of the ideological clash of the billboards, however I may be one of the last to know if there were as a white woman living and working in white neighbourhoods. Without obvious flair ups of violence such as the one in Charlottesville it's easy to fail to adequately comprehend the daily violence of white supremacy and everyday "casual" racism. I know that I have failed when I feel my "shock" in spite of reading daily about the worsening conditions in the U.S. and at home. I know that I have failed when I feel "afraid" for my future because of violence and prejudices that have effected other folks for generations. I know that I have failed when I feel "hopeless" in the face of dismantling 500 odd years of systematic violence from my relative position of power. I know that I have failed when I let my empathy for my fellow human's pain immobilize my body in "sadness" rather than extend a hand in loving service. I know that I have failed many times over, and yet I am here dedicated to the perseverance of love over hate, of knowledge over ignorance, of action over reaction, of peace over suffering. Today I share a few things that I am reading and considering as I face the shadows of myself betwixt the eclipses darkened sight. Rest in power to those fallen in service of compassion, peace, love, and justice.

  1. The Case for Reparations via The Atlantic
  2. Dear White People: I Want You to Understand Yourselves Better via The Establishment
  3. The Similarities Between Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program and Slavery via Huffington Post
  4. Indigenous Perspectives of Canada's 150 via APTN
  5. A Seat At The Table by Solange
  6. Donate to Support Charlottesville
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Change of seasons

Things that I don’t feel like doing anymore & don’t know why:

  1. Drinking alcohol to get drunk
  2. Making accommodations for relationships that don’t fuel me
  3. Putting on the pretence of happiness
  4. Taking nudes & selfies
  5. Getting angry over the news
  6. Holding space for people not invested in my well being 
  7. Working myself to the bone
  8. Working for free
  9. Skipping meals
  10. Putting myself second

Things that I am craving & I don’t know why:

  1. Time alone uninterrupted
  2. Time in silence among the trees
  3. Slow jams & female vocalists
  4. Non-violent TV & media
  5. Tidy living space
  6. Manual labor
  7. Wholistic foods & meals
  8. Meaningful connections
  9. Patience in thoughts
  10. Opportunity to grow new roots

Things that I am doing & I don’t know why:

  1. Looking forward to going to work
  2. Giving up on detailed long term plans
  3. Posting less on social media
  4. Reading less & consuming less media
  5. Talking to the point of excess with people near me
  6. Thinking to the point of excess about how my actions are impacting others
  7. Snapping at people I am not close to over small inconveniences 
  8. Feeling guilty for not taking care of everyone around me at the expense of myself
  9. Unable to formulate thoughts & ideas into complete written words
  10. Looking for reasons to base how I feel off of

Things that I am not doing & I don’t know why:

  1. Sitting down to meditate
  2. Talking to my friends about how I’m feeling
  3. Writing 
  4. Practicing yoga at home
  5. Working on my creative pursuits
  6. Looking for another job
  7. Concerning myself about finances 
  8. Feeling depressed, suicidal, or hopeless
  9. Starting new projects or latching onto new ideas
  10. Longing for something or someone that is not already here with me
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Tsunami girl

The first time our lips groped each other in gentle awkwardness a tidal wave overcame my body drowning my brain in the dizzying waves. You touched my face in that loving way we had whispered to each other about as kids. Except you weren’t the tuxedo mask or Kurt Cobain of our fantasies. You had soft hands that smelt like vanilla body spray and truth or dare perspiration. You pulled away while I was still struggling to catch my breath and laughed in my face. You said that its no big deal to kiss after all it was just a game. Even though I had tried to say to you many nights in the dark that I could fall in love with any gender, but what I didn’t say was that I was falling in love with you. I think of all those times we would practice our make up and try to find the right angle to make our barely there breasts seem most appealing in the mirror before lying together on the bed legs entwined talking about our futures. You said that we had to practice doing it for the boys, to attract a husband that we would wow with our nubile yoga bodies, and cook fancy meals for on special occasions. But I knew no boy would appreciate you like I do. He would be intimidated by your Amazonian figure, and fierce intellect. He wouldn’t know the hours you devoted to becoming your best self. He wouldn’t know the way your dad sometimes scared you, but you still loved him. He wouldn’t know that you think carnations are tacky as gifts. But I knew. I had watched you growing up all these years, blooming into not a woman but a force of nature. And I  was the one reminding you that you were beautiful, and that shared your anxieties about sex and love and romance. I couldn’t say to you though that I was falling in love with you. You were my best friend, and if our parents found out no more sleep overs, no more friendship, no more innocence. Besides we agreed that we weren’t ready to have sex yet anyways. You wanted to wait for marriage, and I wanted to wait for more body hair. But then you kissed me on a dare at your birthday party while your parents were out in front of all of our friends and shipwrecked my timid heart. In that moment as my lips parted to your infinite wetness letting it wash away all my fear of being seen when I too felt like I might be a goddess of the sea, you laughed at me. You told me that it meant nothing. You could kiss me anytime that you wanted, and it wouldn’t mean anything to you because you are not gay. I am just your friend. And sometimes friends kiss because boys like it when they do, and you, my friend, really want a boyfriend for your birthday, and I am never going to be that boyfriend because I can’t hide how soft my lips are, or how smooth my cheek is, or how tiny my hands are. My tiny hands that could never encircle your waist in the strong titanic embrace that you dream of. I wouldn’t even know how to love you  if I could. We hadn’t been practicing for this moment. The moment I would dissolve into your lips. I buried those feelings like a treasure closely guarded. Kept under lock & key, but always just below the surface. I had seen the ocean in your grey eyes, and I tried to swim back there everyday, but you were always looking somewhere else. 

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Chinook

Winter can’t decide if it’s thawing or freezing, but I’m ready to hibernate for another three months. 2017 started with a bang with Alt Alt DIY Fest which was such a huge success on so many levels that I could not have anticipated. However it left me feeling quite emotionally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually drained for most of January and the better part of February. I’ve been in denial about how much that event took out of me because it was so truly obviously worth it, but living in denial is not the start to being able to adequately replenish myself.

Now that it is nearly March, and new projects are on the horizon, I am taking time to reflect on what it is I need to move forward. Burn out is a luxury I am afforded as a single person with good support networks and steady employment with health benefits. I can work myself to the bone for my community then collapse inwardly because no one is counting on me for their 24/7 sustenance, and because I know there are people around me who will catch me if I fall too deeply into depression or self loathing. It is truly a privileged position that I feel blessed to occupy, but this is not how I want to create in my career. Periods of intense creation, and intense seclusion will always be necessary to my practice, but neither state should be so extreme that it put such unnecessary strain on my day to day ability to live my life.

A huge part of the burn out taking two months is that I need to work 35 hours a week in addition to the 20-30 hours of creative & community work required by projects of this scale in order to support myself. It is hard for me currently to imagine a point when that level of work would not be required in order to stay a float, however I recognize that is a limitation in my belief structure rather than a hard fact. The question then becomes how to move beyond that bias in order to start to look at ways to become more self sufficient.

This is a powerful lesson to take from Alt Alt, the gift that keeps on giving, and now that I’ve identified what I want to avoid I need to set my imagination to work to find a new way. How can I create a practice that allows for projects of this scale without sacrificing my well-being?

It’s Pisces season, and spring is just around the corner which I feel is a good time to reflect on this question. I’m asking for creative vision to guide me in the next month as I look inwards to recenter. This is a time for tinkering, for dreaming, for meditating, for empathy, for love, for reflection. Planting seeds this month to harvest come June.

If you have experience or resources relating to managing burn out as a creative, or transitioning out of the work force let me know in the comments.

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Who are you?

I am happy

I am searching

I am scared

I am scintillating 

I am heart broken

I am heart strong

I am loving 

I am loved

I am a witch

I am a leader

I am a artist

I am a storyteller

I am a mother

I am a daughter

I am a sister

I am a flirt

I am a lover

I am a fighter

I am a loser

I am a winner

I am a seashell

I am a shaft of wheat

I am a mountain

I am a wisp of silver fog 

I am a baby goat

I am twins

I am many

I am me

I am just trying to get by

I am getting by as best I can

I am caring for those around me

I am learning all the time

I am feeling inadequate 

I am looking for a better way

I am dreaming of a better way

I am listening

I am hoping

I am praying

I am breathing

I am here.

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Going to church

“God spoke to me, and he said ‘I am the one who¬† will decide which kingdoms will rise & whose will fall, and I say that I love & cherish these people as my children and they will flourish'”.

As I stirred creamers into my tea I did not look up at the man speaking, but I felt the hairs bristling on the back of my neck all the same. Inherited rage against the church of my father. It was late in the afternoon and the diner was mostly empty except for me, and these three church folk conversing over pie and coffee. There was something about the self-congratulatory confidence which this man’s faith spoke with that grated my nerves. Even as I felt the tension & irritation rise in the bile of my stomach a calmer voice reminded me to let it go. He meant no harm by his story, he was no threat to me in my booth, and who was I to judge his experience of the unknown.

“Father Clearey looked at me astonished as I spoke these words, for he knew that I would never have said such a thing! I was fed up with being there. There had been so much resistance, so many set backs, and they had just run out of money to pay us. So they called an assembly with the children to see if any of them had access to money. I was ready to throw in the towel, I was sure that these people were past hope and would be wiped out under the heel of God. So I said to myself, well I know what I think of these people, but God what do you think of these people?”

As I listened I felt the knots in my stomach relax into unexpected calm. Certainly this man was not perfect, he barely concealed his inherent racism & disdain for “those people”, but when that voice answered him he was prepared to listen against his own judgement. A small bead of hope settled in my heart. Here was someone whom I would normally consider beyond hope, a Christian missionary with an agenda. With Trump the President-Elect spitting his hate speech from the television in the corner of the diner these church folk stood for everything I thought was wrong with the world. Yet, here he was acting out of divine love to support people he had deemed beyond hope in circumstances that would try the most loyal ally let alone a bigot.

In that moment I thought about the reasons I had hated his faith, how similar they were to his own reasons for hating the faith of the north, how little any of our reasons meant in the face of so much pain. Humanities pain. My pain. The pain that I had been in when I walked into the diner to sit at my favourite corner booth where the waitress comes to sit on her breaks and cheers me up with stories of her weekend. She gives the best hugs. How I needed one of those hugs today because I was feeling so lost. There is no way to adequately describe the emptiness of depression. A real absence of care. Of faith. I questioned why I had turned away from all overt forms of faith as an attempt to prove that I was an intelligent, capable, grounded person in my father’s eyes. I noticed how much my heart craved that faith now. A faith that is open to receiving signs from beyond my own understanding of the situation. A faith that acts out of the best interests of those involved against my own petty judgements. A faith that loved deeply & fully with no expectation.

I was reminded of the one-step plan we had discussed in my yoga training. Give life. How impossible it had seemed when she had said that to me. Shed everything. She said that we were already on it. Over to God. I couldn’t understand how. One step. Over bagels & tea I understood the blessed simplicity of that sentiment.

There is no reason why that man should have had a change of heart. There is no reason that I should have stepped into this diner at this time to hear him tell it. There is no reason any of this should occur, and yet that is all the reason that I need to restore my faith in humanity. My faith in happy accidents & divine interventions. My faith in my own ability to keep going. My faith. There may be a divine reason too complex for my understanding, or I may have arrived here by a series of happy accidents, or gifts from the god as another teacher refers to them, either way the results are the same. I am sitting alone in the corner booth on a grey steely day stirring cream into my tea when I experience a change of heart. I can not measure or quantify the experience, but my actions change as a result. My thoughts change as a result. Love enters my heart as a result.

As I walk back to work considering the unlikely probability that I would hear these words at this time and have them land in my heart in such a way to momentarily lift the veil of apathy I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for magical mistakes & mysterious meetings. As I walk the one step at a time path through depression I see all the other tiny steps that have got me here. I see that we are each walking the one step path together, and whether we waver or stumble, we are moving through it as one. One step. The rhyme or reason of it is whatever we each choose to weave between the lines, but the result is the same. We walk together.

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Loosing faith

I feel it in my body. My limbs are heavy. My fingers feel thick & bloated like strange cocktail wieners attached to the end of my wrist stumps. My eyes ache, and my mouth tastes like ash. I have a hard time remembering what was just said to me. I feel like a waste of space. Same thoughts as before. I’m tired of hearing them. I can objectively see that I am doing well, my life is reasonably comfortable, I am reasonably skilled & kind, I am supported & loved, and my challenges are manageable. Yet my mind roars a deafening cry of apathy. It’s harder to silence when I know it is unfounded. Maybe I will always feel like this. Maybe I don’t deserve the things I have if I can’t appreciate them. Maybe the only way to get any peace. I can reason with myself that isn’t the answer. I can say the things to myself I would say to a friend. I can put myself to bed & make myself tea knowing things will keep going on. Maybe things will get worse, maybe I am a waste of space, but certainly no more so then anybody else. I can only make good of what I have here. How selfish is it to allow my mind to fall into such disrepair over nothing. Why does my body ache when I try to sleep? And disassociate when I try to focus? And smile when I feel afraid? I feel so embarrassed warning my friends. I need to tell you this because I know you would want to know if something were to happen, I have no plans, but someone needs to know, and I can see my weight transfer from my mind to yours, but I am no lighter for it, and again I am afraid. What is the point? Why am I here? I am asking a god that I don’t think can hear me for an answer that I am afraid to hear. No wonder it isn’t going well. Why do I make things so hard for myself? Or is it out of my hands generations of trauma leading up to this moment where I try to make an excuse for my own lousy outlook on life. Turning off the news helps. Playing music helps. Sleeping helps. Eating green food helps. Praying to no one in particular helps. Talking with others helps. Petting my cat helps. Drinking tea helps. Writing this down helps. 

I don’t know if help will ever really make a difference, but that’s the best I’ve got.

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