Saturday, June 18, 2016

Mixed tapes, mixed media, the mish-mosh of a life...


The mixed tape. Was a very real thing in my youth. Is now more of a metaphor.

In my own heART and in collaboration over at the Creative Grief Studio, taking a creative approach to grief -- and all of life really -- is the foundation of my BEing. I move through the world, I enter relationships, I create heARTworks by taking a creative approach.

In my youth, the mixed tape was a most creative approach to communication. Being able to share music was one piece of it. But if you were a fan of, say, Laurie Anderson, then it was also about the mixing and matching of music, the intersperse of spoken word and poetry, the art work of the cover insert, the way you wrote on the label of the tape.

It has probably been a good decade since we had an actual, working cassette tape player. But that doesn't stop me from having a shoebox tucked away in a cedar chest, filled with mixed tapes from family, friends, loves. I cannot part with them. In my most wistful moments, I desperately want to listen to them. I want to see if the local community radio station will allow me to try and transfer their contents from cassette to cd or dvd. In the more neutral moments, I just know they are there. And that's good enough.

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Often my pondering focuses on the meandering of the interwebs. I wonder at the making of a mixed tape type line-up of things from the interwebs. Not stealing music or media, but like a clickable line-up of media someone would listen/see/read through on various topics or to learn about the grief another has experienced or to share our love and appreciation with each other.

Actually, I suppose those who use YouTube "Add to" feature to make lists of media, well, that is kind of making a mixed tape. Or maybe those who use Pinterest to make a space on particular topic or to express an experience, that, too, is kind of making a mixed tape. Heck, even our list of bookmarks we each curate in our browsers. Maybe even the history of our browsers sort of curates the construction of a mixed tape. Our "Saved" items on Facebook. The "bookshelf" on our kindle readers.

In a way.
Sort of.
These things are kind of like the list of media you'd handwrite into the art of the mixed tape cover insert.
Kind of.

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So the creative prompt idea is about using the mix tape idea to tell the story of your grief experience. Maybe you tell it just through a playlist of songs? Or maybe it is a YouTube "Add to" list? I'm sharing the image in this post as a way of working the idea visually. And then I'm sharing the list of clickables and whatnot below as a way of giving a mixed tape that sort of goes thru my experiences these last 17 years since our first son's death. And using these as just samples, consider what your mixed tape of your grief experience might be like. What does it look like? What are the item that make up your mixed tape? How would you like to present it?

A BirthDeath: a mixed tape of grief experience

  • What words does a poet share immediately after the birthdeath of her son? The words of Mrs. Duck.
  • How does a writer handle the on-going-ness of being a parent to both living and dead children over time? She explores what A Different Kind Of Parenting means.
  • When language, over time, becomes an annoyance because it does not adequately say all that bereaved parents need it to say, what do they do? Create their own Dictionary Of Loss.
  • As a bereaved mother finds herself living life as a heARTist having to reconnect to the world at large in some way, how does she take the tentative first steps? She uses her powers of word to be an advocate.
  • And when people start asking the heARTist how they, too, can find language and create expression of their own experiences, how does she reach out to them? She catalogues a blog full of creative prompts.
  • When people start sharing with this heARTist that they cannot possible be creative for a myriad of myriad of myriad of reasons -- and the heARTist herself begins to question if she can sustain creativity -- what can she do to help? Offer as Permissive a space as possible.
  • And as time passes, as this mother becomes a grandmother and realizes that all relationships evolve, both those with living loves and those with dead loves, how does she share her heARTfull self with those who have died? She writes letters of love over the years.
  • And finally, when others begin asking her how they, too, can get their grief & creativity skills on and become advocates themselves, what does she do? She tosses her hat in the ring with an amazing team of people to offer a Studio of exploration.

That, my Loves, in a nutshell, is the mixed tape of my experiences. What is on your tape?

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Reiki to all eyeballs who come across this...
Signed by this radicalized grandma,
k-

Friday, June 17, 2016

Star gazing, heart pounding, and love making...

It really is an odd thing to be human. Being active in the world of learning and social justice, we can intersect with such destruction, such oppression, and overwhelming need. And at the very same time, man, dude, loves, when we CHOOSE creative approaches; when we decide we will use technology for good; when we consciously use what is at hand to come together; well, there is such beauty here. This is my "high" coming off of watching this:


Really take in some of those "testimonials" he shared from their Facebook page. There can be many uses of the virtual, many experiences with it that allow us to poo-poo it, but DAYUM, people, when we choose to make community with virtual outreach, magic can happen. It is a possibility. If your able-bodied, physical access, location, and means allow you to do everything in person, that's lucky for you. But, folks, wow, for those who can't -- or for those who are visioning beyond -- and looking at the best that technology can do -- wow. They didn't make this up. People sharing their experiences with this choir talk about their *RELATIONSHIPS* with the community - even with their families. The two sisters who are apart from each other that now get to sing together. That, my friends, is the stuff of relationships.

Why do we continue to discount people's best experiences with these things? Why do so many continue to choose the worst possible uses of technology and media?

You don't need to answer. Those are rhetorical. I know too many of the answers. But I just am reminded today, watching that video, that where we choose to offer each other housing security, food security, access to technology, access to education, my G-d, stunning beauty can happen.

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All of the above reminded me of this quote we use over at the Creative Grief Studio in our certification course:


I love Parker Palmer's writing (which all seems like poetry to me), but more than that, the idea he conveys here so exhibits what we aim to do each session of our course at the Studio. If we use the technology we have at hand in the Studio, to bring people together to learn and explore creatively, then that offers a model for how we might all do it day to day. Whether at home with loves and friends or at work or in creating the heARTwork we want to do in this world. An incredible amount of gratitude runs through my body each day as people come together at the Studio to create and share. We are doing our version of a virtual choir, I think. :)

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Was watering the garden last eve and noticed that the beet micro-greens are getting a bit beyond micro because I can't eat them fast enough. Turns out I'm the only one in the house who likes them. But I had planted enough for all three of us. So there's a bunch of it going beyond micro, but growing so squished together (as you do for micro) that they have no hope of becoming beets. I was pondering cutting them all and offering them on Facebook or something when I noticed three slug on leaves in there. I thought, ah well, there you go. They are eating them with me.

Still think I might cut some of them, and some garlic scapes, too, as there is nooooo way we can eat all we have. Maybe one of the community dinner cooks might want them for ingredients? Or maybe the foodbank, but I don't know if they take fresh produce donations? We'll see. Just got me thinking we need a Garden-Grown-Food-Exchange or something!

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Can't believe we are getting toward Summer Solstice here already in 2016. This summer is 20 years Hawk and I have been together. 18 years married. The kids were so young when our lives connected. And now the grandkids are having these young creative experiences of life flying by so quickly. Or maybe it is just that today is a bit overcast and cool and looks like it could rain. That always makes me think life it going too quickly. It's the bright sunny, roasting hot days where you savor the heat, stick your feet in water, sit in the tree swing and things seem to sloooooow down.

Have no idea where I'm going with this. Just noticings.

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Well anyway...guess that enough rambling for today. Been following one of Barb Sher's offerings for Scanners, and one of her suggestions was to change up your timeline today so that something different takes place than normally would. Thinking about getting out of dodge here earlier today. Meander up town on foot instead of wheels. Take some notice of summer growings along the way: trees, flowers, sidewalk art.

Hope you find some heART-time this weekend, too, Loves.
Signed one of those radicalized grandmas,
k-

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hard truths, diapers, and dreams

The call to social justice work comes out of significant experiences I had as a child and all the ways, as an adult, I've seen people in the midst of grief experiences having to simultaneously navigate oppression. People will tell me grief is grief, done, and to stop bring social justice issues into it. But I tell you that in my most horrific grief after the death of my son, I know now, clearly, how privileged I was. I am white; we were middle-ish class; we had healthcare at the time; we had a life that allowed for us to make and foster connections for support; we had ways to become self employed and not be beholden to any boss or capitalist exploitation. AND I've learned over time how very privileged that was.

It is impossible to look black mothers in the face after the deaths of their children at the hands of police and just say it is grief like all others or that grief has no color blah blah blah. Their grief is political. Their grief is part of a social justice movement. Why? Because they don't get to just grieve and have experiences like we had in our privilege. They must simultaneously navigate the criminalization of their children all over the media so that the police can justify why children are dying. It IS political.

Yes, I am remembering that all the people killed in Orlando are children of someone. Yes. Of course. But that doesn't mean we get a bypass on the political and social justice issues that come up, too. It's a nice sentiment to say we shouldn't politicize the deaths of someone's children, but I'm guessing -- just a guess -- you go listen to the videos and read this post and this post and this post of people speaking for themselves -- but I'm guessing that most LGBTQ+ people and families will tell you it IS political.

And there are so many experiences of grief and social justice intersections, that I know we can get overwhelmed with trying to process it. This isn't a woulda/coulda/shoulda, but rather just a raising of awareness that we are each doing what/as we can *and* there is always a bigger picture. Also an awareness that focusing on one issue is not meant to take away from another or to privilege one over the other, but rather to be aware there is always a bigger picture. As @Joannathangiah shared in one of her beautiful heART-works which you can see by clicking here:

"Just because someone is drawing attention to one oppressed group doesn't mean they are ignoring others."

This is tender space. I get it. Not trying to make one bereaved parent or caregiver "wrong" while others are "right" on this. AND I'm saying that even in my worst grief experience with the death of my own son, I came to a point where that was no longer a bypass for checking my privilege and getting real about the fact that *everything* happens within a context. Of course we are individuals having these experiences, but always always always within a kinship system:


We cannot be objective. We are all mobile discourses coming to the table of these experiences:


I'm not trying to politicize everything. It is already political. I'm not trying to be depressing or discouraging. But I am trying to get us all on the same page so we can take account of what is really happening. We need to do that so we can be present in a way that is meaningful; so that actual needs can be addressed. We cannot positivity-police ourselves through grief nor be of service to others if we are positivity-policing their expressions and experiences. In fact:


Just consider it. You don't have to like what I'm saying. You may not be in a place in your own grief experience to have the bandwidth to be present with these ideas. That's okay. I'm sharing for those who are interested. For those who know there is more to this grief stuff than "keep calm and...". For those who are at a space where exploring the intersectionality of grief experiences and social justice makes sense.

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Something I saw today out of the #StateOfWomen was a share from Desiree Adaway about how a significant cause of depression for low income women is lack of access to clean diapers for their children.

Re-read that. 

Let that sink in.

A source of their depression is lack of access to clean diapers.


Dear G-d. I know modern Western capitalist culture is screwed, but this...breaks me. How do we just go on when this reality comes to light? For me, I need to take action. Find out how this is addressed in our community. I'm asking our food bank if this is issue that needs to be addressed here. If so, how best to address? We don't have a lot. But we do make $10 or $20 donation here and there as we can. I will be glad to spend that on diapers for the food bank if that will help. 

How much could shift if we all did things like this wherever and whenever we can?

ADDENDUM: After posting this, I came to learn in the discussion thread on Desiree's page that there is a national project looking at and addressing this issue. I had no idea. Thank you, creative and wonderful people. Now others of us can get involved! http://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/

_____

It was an incredible day for me today. It just so happened the way our schedule worked out over at the Creative Grief Studio, that this morning at 10am I co-facilitated the last content session for our March class, and at 4pm I co-facilitated the first content session for our June class. It was a powerful space to be with seekers, like our participants and my fellow co-teachers, witnessing the beginnings and the endings. To be part of on-going process with all of them is this huge gift in my life. I love working with all of you. I love heART-making with you. Just a huge thank you to everyone involved!

_____


Random dreamscape:

She came into the public library and told me she sold the house we were living in with it being on the market for only an hour. The pit of my stomach sank as I realized I could pack our stuff, but I could not pack our garden. That, we would simply lose. 

As I walked down the street back toward the home that was just sold out from under us, I sobbed for the peas we would be forced to abandon, knowing they would wither and die. New people would not be moved in quickly enough to salvage them. 

As I walked, I realized the sidewalk was just continuing to stretch out before me, making my walk endless. There was no way to get back. I tried to get my backpack off so I could find my phone and call Hawk. But as I was doing so, a man rushed me in attack. As I felt my body hitting the ground, I realized I would not get to hear Hawk's voice. 

In waking life, I began screaming in my sleep. Hawk says I was all gooseflesh when he heard me yelling and woke me. 

Can I just tell you that I love having those kinds of dreams and discovering myself back here in the waking world with Hawk gently shaking me saying, "Kara, Kara, Kara, wake up."
_____


Okay, well, enough babble. Reiki to all eyeballs who come across this.
Signed,
One of those radicalized grandmas
k-

Monday, June 13, 2016

You can't pinpoint anything because it is always a range of human being-ness.

Okay. So if you were here yesterday for my "do not fuck with me" post and you are here with me today for this "it is too hard. i'm running way" post, then you are getting to witness the full range of what it means to PROCESS, to live a life of practice not perfect.

Look, the thing is that, we as humans, just are going to have a range of responses and actions around the lives we live. And when we intersect with social injustice, trauma, and grief like we are seeing around the events in Orlando, we do our best in supporting each other by allowing that range to unfold for people.

We don't help much if we start polite-policing advocates and others around being polite or only speaking out of love or the "right" way to make change. It is equally important for process to allow many expressions:


  • Saying FUCK
  • Sink down into our hearts to sob
  • Hear our bodies and minds saying this is too hard
  • To honor the running away, not to get out of action, but to TEND and feed our souls so that the next actions and steps can be taken.


Look we, in the role of helpers or witnesses or ally or advocate, we can NEVER know what the oppressed person themselves needs to find their liberation. And if we start playing the role of expert who knows the exact way to make it happen, we lose connection with people.

In social justice movements, it is just real that there will be a range of reactions and actions and reactions.

  • People will scream and protest and interrupt. 
  • People will be part of policy meetings and endless conversation to debate and eventually come to space for change. 
  • People will run away and need to tend or RETREAT to figure what's next. 
  • People will use things like blogging, memes, video, speeches, and more to be heard, to release the valve of expression. 
  • People will get out on the streets to video and photo catalogue what is happening because so many don't believe what is happening.


ALL OF THAT and more!

And you will not only see a range like this in social justice movements, but you will also see this in grief. People need and want to do what they need and want to handle grief when it comes. They just do.


  • There are no 6 steps to happiness. 
  • There is no 20 minute meditation to make you smile again. 
  • There is no prescription that will work for everyone exactly. 
There is just being witness or ally to people who are hurting 
and giving them space to do what they need while keeping them
safe as possible, loved a lot, supported in any way we can.

NOW bring yourself to the intersection of social justice and grief -- BAM!  There you will see the full range in all its glory. Of course you will.

You cannot expect grieving people, who have experienced some of the most extreme marginalization of any of us, to now be recruited into a pathology of hate toward Muslim people. Come on. Wake up. There are many LGBTQ+ people who are ALSO Muslim. You cannot ask LGBTQ+ and those of us who love them to now get on board with Islamiphobia and have hate for people who are our brothers and sisters.

There are a range of things that need to happen -- every single thing playing a part in a bigger picture. But creating suspicion and bias toward yet another group of people is not one of them.  Carrying more guns is not one of them.  Using one religion to be "right" while making another religion be "wrong" is not one of them. AND I challenge the idea that any of this stuff comes from the actual religion. There are many who bastardize Christianity for hate -- the KKK for one. There are extremists twisting religion, even in Buddhism. I think in the space where the twist comes, we are no longer talking about religion or spirituality. We are talking pathology.

Anyway, the point being that there are no single issue answers here. In the words of Audre Lorde:

We need lots of things to happen:

  • We need people showing up to give visual on how many of us are speaking.
  • We need to be very clear that our grief is not allowed to be used as excuse for your racism.
  • We need to start having real conversation, so there can be real movement, around the complexities and intersections of what is going on in this world.
  • We need protest and clarity in the form of poetry.
  • We need to help kids understand what they are feeling as they encounter the world.
  • We need to remember that what hurts one of us, hurts all of us.
  • We need to take the time to hear each other, to understand each other.
  • We need to demand gun control.
  • We need social media awareness like this and this and this and this.
  • And so many more things, precisely because this isn't a single issue thing, and I alone could not possible name or even imagine all of it! But we can always try to be present, allow advocates and grieving people space, voice. Take time to listen, be curious and ask questions that help them explore, that help us understand. Use your critical thinking to see when others are polite-policing and say something. Be fierce where you see marginalization happening and try to be a partner in opening space back up again.

Can you see how much creativity is involved in all these things? Can you see how many other creative approaches there might be besides these?

At the intersection of social justice and grief, we humans have the choice to be CREATIVE instead of destructive. The men and women who have chosen destructive gun violence, including in wars and policing, made a choice. THERE ARE OTHER CHOICES to be made. Lets make them.

Reiki to any and all eyeballs coming across this.
From one radical grandma to all the loves out there wrestling today.
k-

Sunday, June 12, 2016

With the human beingness, today, I just can't.

With everything that has just gone down in Orlando, all I can say is: WAKE the fuck up, peoples.

I can't deal w the human beings beyond that today. Fuck racism. Fuck those who will invoke hate toward Muslims now after this hate committed upon our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Fuck homophobia. Fuck hijacking of any religion that allows hate, encourages it, thinks it has all the "right" answers and everyone else is, not only "wrong," but justifiably harmed. Fuck you.

If you don't know how to handle cognitive dissonance, that is on you! Get a therapist. Sign up for emotional intelligence training. Something. DEAL WITH YOUR SHIT.

And most of all, here in this USofA(sses), if you think not voting is taking a stand, I implore you to reconsider, to at least vote local races where it can make the most difference, and please bug the fuck out of your government to CHANGE THE FUCKING GUN LAWS!!! It is not rocket science. We don't even have to figure it out. There isn't any experimenting that has to be done. Because guess fucking what? Other countries in this fucking world have ALREADY done it. We know how to do it. We just don't fucking want to. And if you are here, if you are one that doesn't want to, check your shit. If you are one that wants to, but doesn't know how, start by bugging the fuck out of your government:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Last thing I'll say today: If  you still think social justice issues do not intersect with grief, wake up, please. How in the hell can anyone look at what is going down and not see the GRIEF, not just on individual level, but communal and cultural. This is a fuck load of grief, peoples. Wake up. Time to start dealing with our shit.

Reiki to any and all eyeballs who come across this.
This radicalized grandma will speak to my last breath in the hope we keep each other WOKE.
k-

Friday, June 10, 2016

Paper bags, throw away lives, and impossible expectations...

Couple of years ago, I took one of Patti Digh's Verb Tribe courses. The creative approach that had the most lasting impact on me was her insistence that we write our different topics each day using a sharpie pen on a paper bag. Her idea behind it was that if we get all caught up in the "preciousness" of "good" pens and "quality" paper and such, we set ourselves up to have to be "perfect" and have what we created using those things be exceptional. But if we are writing on any old paper bag with whatever pen we have handy, it can get us in the habit of just writing to practice writing, to watch the words drip out of our fingertips, to let them move across a surface without them being so precious as to have to be perfect.

In the end, some of the things I wrote on the bags were gems. Some were starts that evolved into other pieces as I played with them. Some really were just trash that became bags used to ripen avocado or interesting surfaces to use as collage backgrounds on art pieces or something.

All of it was a reminder that if we want to be writers, then write. It's kind of like some of the sparks that Barb Sher has written throughout her different books about how if we want "to be" something, just start being it and see what happens. Now, of course, in a practical way, she wasn't advocating anything ridiculous like wanting to be a cop, so start walking around with a gun!! But she was saying that for many things, you don't have to have a license or particular degree to just start doing it. If you want to be a writer, start a blog and write. Open a notebook and write. When someone asks what you do, answer with, "I'm a writer."

These things revolved around permissions that I had to practice giving myself. Maybe it is because I'm a girl/woman. Maybe it was some moral thing about "telling lies" from the religion I was raised with back in the day. Maybe maybe maybe...whatever. But for some reason, until encountering these kinds of practices with permission, I kept looking for permission to call myself thus and such from someone else.

As a college student, I met a musician after a gig one night, and he asked about my studies. I told him I was a student of a particular professor, and the musician (who knew of this professor) said, "Oh you are a writer then. Great. What do you write?" It took me a moment to answer him because I was shocked. I hadn't yet allowed myself to call myself a writer "officially" or anything, let alone hearing it come out of someone else's mouth! Why did it make such a difference to have his validation? Why did I need that? Why did it shock me? And on and on.

Anyway, all this babble to say I keep re-discovering every single day that the value of practice is in the practice, not in the quality of the paper or pen. I want to be a writer, so I write. I want to be an artist, so I make art. I want to be a gardener, so I drop seeds into the dirt. Live it. Go for it. Take out that stack of paper bags and make art. And by the way, the muted mandala/gelli press art you see in the photo with this post is done, yes indeed, on a ripped up paper bag!!

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This phrase: don't throw away your life. Or the idea where social injustices occur and we humans ignore it as if the people affected are just living lives that are disposable: throw away lives.

The amount of grief in those phrases makes me buckle under the truth that these are not just words. Rather, we are talking about human beings here.

I can understand we care about another.

But to impose your ideas of right and wrong on others by trying to guilt them into thinking they will throw away their lives??? I don't mean the big things. If someone you love is an addict, then maybe, yes, okay, I can see you asking them to seek help, support, rehab so they "don't throw away" their lives. But to tell someone they are throwing away their lives because they want to major in art in college? Or to suggest they are throwing away their lives because they want to marry someone of a religion or race you don't like/don't want them to/whatever? I don't know. Seems...needlessly violent, harsh, causing oppression instead of actually being in relationship with them? I don't know.

I can't understand how we don't care about others.

To look at the justice system or the water system in the good old USofA and throw up your hands and say, "Oh well, nothing I can do," seems like a defeated acceptance of the idea that people are disposable. Or to keep doing exactly what we are doing because "that's just how it is," seems like a collusion with the idea that some are just living throw away lives. Not saying we can be the solution ourselves, but we can DO something. When I am called for jury duty, I can go into the courtroom and when asked questions in voir dire, I can speak the truth. They'll never want me for any jury probably and the judge might threaten to have me arrested, BUT I can still speak the truth. I may not be able to change the pipes in places like Flint, but I can keep sharing on social media about the situation. I can sign petitions. I can donate money. I can protest visibly in the world, on the street when possible.

While the idea of using tossed away paper or disposable paper bags for writing, for not making writing process too precious, makes sense to me, the idea of LIVES being disposable makes no sense to me. We make mis-takes (missed takes, like in the movies, so do another take), but we don't throw away our lives if we major in art or inter-marry religiously or racially. We have big social justice issues in the world, and while we individually can't fix the big picture, the people affected most by these issues are not lives we can throw away! There is action to be taken. Do something.

The oppression of grief around these ideas is relieved some for me by taking action. What does it for you?

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It is incredibly frustrating to see individuals and our society as a whole having impossible expectations around grief experiences.  I posted this rant earlier on my Facebook stream, but it is worth repeating here:

Oh for the love of Pete!!!!! ARRRRG. Listen up, peoples. You cannot ever know more than the oppressed person themselves about what they need to find their liberation. This goes for social justice issues as well as for grief experiences!!!!!! If you actually think you have the right to tell another person they "need help" or "should get over it" or "need to find closure" or are "too sad" -- fuck you. You have internalized white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy and are playing "father knows best" instead of being compassionate and present to a person who is already fucking hurting. Take your colonization bullshit and go play in your own yard. Hurting people need relationships that are partnering, curious, supportive. They do not need your prescription of propaganda for "the right way to do grief and healing" bullshit!!!!!!!!! ARG. [Have I mentioned my ability to be patient is challenged lately? ;P ]

More than ever, I hold close to my heart, the idea that it takes creative approach and practice to address our grief experiences and remain in touch with our humanness; our vulnerability; our (maybe broken) open hearts.

None of us can meet impossible expectations. We can only live our lives as practice. Make mis-takes (missed-takes), try again, keep experimenting. I have no answers beyond that. There are no such thing as "experts," but rather just people who are practicing practicing practicing. And after all their practice, they know what works for them and are open to sharing BUT that should just be an invitation for you to practice and find your own ways. Their ways can't possibly be 100% yours, too. That's okay.

Anyway...

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That's a lot of babble for today. Don't know that I have some sweet, wind-it-up, conclusion here. Just this stuff has been swimming around my brain.

May Reiki flow to any and all eyeballs who come across this.
Blessings,
k-

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dreams and intersections and blindspots...

Keep fooling myself into believing it's summer, and then another batch of gray, cool, sometimes wet days come and disrupt the previous few days of sun and shadow and warmth that finally got to the marrow of my bones. That's what keeps us green and all Pacific Northwest-y, I know. But man, I'm sorry, I'm a sun and warm ocean being. Pretty sure many past lives were lived as sea turtle or something. It's the promise of zero gravity, the floating in the warm salt water that most calls me.

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Hawk rarely sits in the tree swing we have outside because he says he's seen too many youtube videos of people falling out of swings and whatnot :) But the other day was so warm, and he was so tired that he sat in the swing and promptly fell asleep. He said it was like sleeping in a floating hot tub or something. Exactly. The zero gravity. It is addicting.

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Can I just mention here that the Department Of Education, for as much as you all try, geesh, you suck, and seriously, could you make processes and systems any more difficult for people to use? NO, Don't Answer That!! I fear you could make it even worse. But you suck as it is. For any of you out there trying to navigate because you or loved ones have student loans from schooling here in the US, I'm so sorry. You have my condolences for all the brain cells that die every single time you have to interact with those processes. Ack.

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Though I have a massive blind spot in my right eye today from a migraine that will not let go, I'm happy to say I'm finally back here with very little pain and weird chronic stuff happening lately! It's been hit or miss the past month or so. The return of the mystery pain was driving me bats there for a bit, and sorry for the gap in posts during that time, but I finally got so tired and annoyed that I just didn't have the brain to post anything here.

Well, luckily on June 1st, for some reason, Hawk thought to look up side effects of this one medication that I've been taking the past year *BUT* a month prior, we had doubled the dose of it. Sure enough he found side effects that matched the mystery pain that had been happening for me the month prior! DUH!!!! OMG, I just had no brain to put that together and am so incredibly grateful for his ponderings on it and his partnership. So right that day, June 1st, I halved the dose again. Sent email to the doc to let him know. And bam, pain ceased. Eight days now without pain. Eating normalish again. Sleep feels like sleep again, which means waking and actually having brain cells to function again.

Not taking it for granted coz I know this chronic stuff means there is always another corner to turn and whatnot. But for now, for this moment, woooooow, look at me! Typing to you and making sense. Okay, well, some sense. Well, what counts as "sense" for my weirdo self anyway. :P

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Continue to be surprised and so inspired by doing work in collaboration with the Creative Grief Studio. Really, when Cath asked me years ago to participate in some way, and I decided to throw my hat in the ring 50/50 with her, we had no idea where it would go. The talented and creative people we continue to intersect with in each course session is just amazing. The conversations that come to the surface, the ideas that lightbulb for people as they explore, and the ways this process becomes, not just continuing education for them professionally, but personally, too -- omgosh, I love this work.

We have our March session just wrapping up next week, and the June session just getting started this week. And a new packet just arrived from an alumni to assess for certification. And seriously, folks, you keep me inspired and interested and curious and wanting to continue my own practice! So grateful for you; for being able to give and take the teaching and learning; for being able to do this kind of creative education with team and community values at the core. I adoooooore every one of you! Thank you.



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The process of gardening continues to fascinate me. I love getting my hands in the soil and harvesting stuff that grows well and problem solving where things don't grow well. It was so exciting to discover we have our first teeny tiny itty bitty little green baby tomatoes yesterday that you would have thought I'd won the lottery or something. It is also such a lesson in being human. There are times when I fret and worry and fuss trying to get something just so in the garden or trying to coax something to grow. And then there are times when I just float along and do whatever needs to be done. And you know what? Either way, stuff grows and does what it will do and feeds us. So why do I continue to waste my time and energy on the fret and worry and fuss???? There are metaphors in there for living fully and dealing with grief and such. Really.

Plus it also hits me that even while I'm in there elbow deep and some worm or spider or slug or other creature comes along and scares me or brings out the ick factor or makes me jump back, they are part of the process. I can equally practice encountering them, stop, breathe, back up or gently move them or whatever. Metaphors for encountering the stuff of grief that scares us, brings out the ick factor, or makes us jump or breakdown or whatever.

Also seeing what happens as I choose to do something or not. We had a few really warm days. I had thoroughly watered prior to the warm spell. And the first day of the warm, for various reasons, I just didn't get out to tend the garden well. Even neglected, stuff grew and happened. But then when I got round to it late that second day, I noticed that the slightest bit of tending and everything was soooooo much happier. Leaves opened up, soil came back to color, even the bees came more readily. Metaphors there for how we put off or downright ignore dealing with grief stuff...but the tiniest bit of tending and sooooo much stuff processes, comes back to life, etc.

I can understand how someone might get completely sucked into garden therapy!!!

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Then again, of course, I am a Scanner. There are so many ways to explore grief metaphors that interest me. Exploring the concept of being a Scanner is kind of new to me, so I'm still realizing how different it is to accept and roll with the concept vs. the ways I have previously fought it, tried to fix it, or thought I needed to be different.

Hawk has told me for ages now that when I sort of shut down into this low-to-the-ground kind of mode, there isn't anything wrong with it. I have felt it was laziness or questioned what the hell is wrong with me that I can't just keep going or how can I justify "doing nothing" when that mood strikes. And Hawk would always say to me, "You are soooooo far away from doing nothing, it isn't funny," and then he'd proceed to tell me how when I'm in this mode stuff is composting that will feed whatever is going to blossom in just a little while here. *Another Garden Metaphor!*

Or I would kind of beat myself up for getting all interested in something, losing interest, and then just as whole-heartedly getting interested and jazzed up about something else. Why couldn't I just pick something? Stick to something? See it the "whole" way through? But learning about Scanners taught me that I'm doing what I do up to the points of learning that I need and want. The "whole" way for me, may not look like the "whole" way for others. I tap every single drop out of experiences that I need and want, and then guess what? I'm done. Next!

It is a creative process. OMG. Who knew?

So glad to be seeing that now. It's still a practice for me because it is habit to beat myself up about not doing things the "right" way or whatever. But it is soooooo nice to re-remember Scanner -- and wa-la! Permission is granted to be nice to myself instead of beat myself up. Such a gift.

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Diving into and staying engaged with social justice stuff is not easy. Worth it. But not easy. I'm reminded again and again that it is a process like all others. There is no end point of perfection with it. It is a process of always learning new things, understanding how people experience oppression (often accompanied by grief, though we in the US are loathe to name it  that way!), to try and seek solutions instead of perpetuating it. It can feel discouraging so often because things will make one step forward, and then something ridiculous will happen and feel like we are dragged 10 steps back. But it is a matter of staying in the process. I've been so grateful to hear people like Angela Davis recently talking about how part of this process with social justice work (and way of life/living) is to really get clear that we must tend ourselves, too. Self care -- as a community process -- is just as important as demonstrating, studying, teaching, and everything.

So I've been pondering ideas that might feel like self care to keep tended this summer -- even while I continue to take action; to process grief creatively; to stay engaged in the world. This is just a random list of stuff that's come to the surface. Wanted to document here to keep myself reminded that these things are as important as anything else:


  • Sit in the tree swing with my feet dangled in water. First alone as meditation time. Then with others as a way to have some summer communication time that feels engaged with Earth.



  • Walk up to the park and sit on the berm under the trees. First facing out to the street. Sitting alone, but taking in the world that is passing by as ferries arrive and people scurry to wherever they need to be. Then turn around and face into the green. Sitting alone still, but now taking in the Earth, the quiet the green of trees and grass bring, the wide open space that brings calm and energy to humans, and view of the library that holds keys to the whole world for people. To really appreciate that in the moment.



  • Walk up to Strawberry Fest on one of the crazy tourist afternoons. Find a spot and just sit. Don't try to get to a stage or event. Don't rush to try and get best parade seat or anything. Just plop down somewhere amid the crazy. Stop. Be still amid the goings-on. Really see it all. Feel the centeredness and solo-ness even amid the mass of people. See the energy and heART and crazy and range of it all.



  • Explore the rest of the yard. So far, my role in this shared household has just been the two garden beds. But we have other areas of the yard where rosemary and sage grow, where poppies and figs grow, etc. They are not well tended at the moment. But I'd like to explore them. If I were to take on tending them, what would that look like? What might I want to see grow there? What skills do I need to learn to make it happen?


Okay, well, that's just the start...there's more but I'm tired and bored with typing now :)
Hope you all are finding your own creative ways! Sending Reiki and loves to all eyeballs who come across this.
k-



Friday, May 20, 2016

Pain and practical guides?

It's been one of those weeks. Things have changed significantly since last summer health-wise. It is great to know my blood numbers are normal-ish, cells are larger/more saturated, everything shows up normal w liver, pancreas, gall, sugar, with iron levels finally getting to build without drops blah blah blah. And still, random days, random pains.

Said it before, grateful to have ways to address it, but maaaaan, those add up to some fuzzy days. I sort of meander around - sometimes just following Hawk around (if not knocked out sleeping) - coz it feels impossible to know what to do with myself.

And it's really frustrating to interact w people (so I usually don't) because they can't "see" it, so sometimes on those crumbly days, I'll run into someone who will say, "Oh you look so great! Lets get together. Love seeing you out and doing things..." yada yada. Hard to explain the complexity of things that happen around that for me. Do I say, "That's nice, but I feel like shit." Nothing like stopping a conversation in its tracks. Do I say, "So you have another opinion of me when I can't 'do' things?" Do I fake it and say, "Yes, great, lets get together soon!" And then just disappear again (often the case).

Can you see this is an ongoing thought theme with me. It frustrates me that, we as humans, are soooooo lame at being able to face anything that is *chronic*. We are set up so binary. Good Bad. Sick Well. Male Female. Black White. It is truly our downfall. I don't understand why we aren't all neck deep in dealing w that reality. But then again, on weeks like this, the pain rattles in my body, and my head says, "Who fucking cares. Go to bed." And I do.

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Woke up the other day to the photo you see in this post. I love that frog. He often gives me the answers I'm seeking. There it is right there. Stay in relationship with all that is around you, and that will quickly take us out of the binary blunders.

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Keep seeing things that kind of slam "armchair activists." One the one hand, when using that phrase to talk about like the person in the backseat who is telling you how to drive, I get it. But on the other hand, seeing it used about people who are doing what they can because they are somehow differently abled so they work from home, do what they can online, can't be out on the streets etc., well, that's kind of double-standard, isn't it? I mean we're talking about inclusivity, intersectionality, breaking the binary limitations. Activism happens in lots of ways. There are many, many moving parts of any organization or movement, right? So why not embrace those who are doing what they can, the ways they can, instead of belittling them with labels like "armchair activists?" Just asking.

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Watched the show, "I'll have what Phil's having." It's beautifully filmed. Phil is an interesting character to see travel and really savor his interactions and eating experiences. And I know I'm too realist to be one of his hard core viewers because, I'm sorry, I cannot get it out of my head when watching: that's kind of a lie. It's a nice idea that "I'll have what Phil's having." But that's kind of a lie. I mean it is one thing to be a white, cis, hetero man with some wealth generationally, connections for funding, backing, production staff, ability to hire family members, knowing some of the world's "best" chefs, etc. But how many people can really use this show as a "practical" guide to anything? It's nice to know the names and spots. But it is really hard to ignore the privilege that is part of what is making all that happen. There are not many people who have that. Or is it just me? I'd love to see an actual practical guide to how people can have what Phil's having. It would be incredibly helpful. Anyone know of a show or podcast or something like that?

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Okay, so basically, I'm a cat. I like living with people *around* while I'm off over here doing my own thing. And then sometimes I wanna come out and enjoy the sun spots together, check in, and then go back to doing my own thing.

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Just read the Japanese Lover. Funny thing. It was full of all Allende's dreamy, beautiful, poignant writing. But all I did was drool over the scant few scenes she wrote talking about the various studios the main character had for her artmaking during her lifetime. She made great points about race, wealth, death, dying, grief. But whenever she wrote about the studios, I wanted to jump into the book and look around. When she moved away from the studios to go back to the story (coz the studios are really just a footnote in this book), I was soooooo freaking sad.

Huh. Take the hint, Kara.

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Thanks to those of you who answered my post about the mint issue I'm having in our garden. Very helpful! Hoping to try a few of those remedies soon to save them and have some mint this summer. We'll see.

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Okay, Loves, go, live, be, love. See you next post.
k-



Monday, May 16, 2016

Practice is so easy, it's hard.

You'll find many teachers who will tell you these things. Barb Sher will tell you to ditch the all or nothing, and just give it 5 minutes. She'll tell you to not discount anything. Wherever your interest is pulled, NOTE it!! Treat it as scientific information. You don't have to understand the mystery of it yet, but allow your interest in it to count and be noted. Give your interests 5 minutes a day. Julia Cameron will tell you to just write your morning pages. They don't have to be good or bad. Just move your pen across the page. Just go on an artists date with yourself. You don't have to take out a bank loan and become a world traveller -- go to the art museum on free Thursday this month after you finish work and give yourself an hour there.

It isn't rocket science. But you have to give it 5 minutes. You have to put the ink to page. It isn't magic or a secret formula. You don't have to be "better" or fix anything or "stay positive" or do anything extraordinary. Really. Just give your heart 5 minutes. Note things in your Scanner's notebook or in your morning pages.

We humans are weird. It is *hard* to do these things. I know.

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Keep telling myself to just come here to this blank screen each day and write something. Though it is going out into the world to the eyeballs reading this, this actually isn't a performance for you. It is for me. This is my investing 5 minutes in what catches me. This is my notation of the things that interest me. But funny how quickly I come, type, delete, type more, delete, and then throw in the towel entirely because nothing in this blank box is "good" and so why put it down, and why hit the "publish" button?! And so then I go away for 3 days and post nothing. Oh, by all means I bitch and share posts on FB about the social justice stuff that comes across my radar. But giving just 5 minutes of this blank screen here to my heART -- welllllll nooooooooooo!!! You can't do that unless it is ...  ???  ... [enter whatever undermining thing you can think of here...  perfect, maybe?].

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Is it odd that as soon as I took the photo you see in this post I wanted to go find cake toppers that are two grooms and two brides for same sex marriages and add them to this tree art scene? Yes, that is tree art!! These are items that have been left in the crook nook of a tree. Sometimes things get left there for months and months. Other times someone comes along and takes stuff out and then puts new stuff into the scene. I love walking uptown to see all the tree art along the way. I love documenting the changes and new scenes. I don't know why. Who cares? It is such ephemera. Why not leave it that way with no documentation? I don't know. It just catches me.

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Weirdly, it is a totally known thing to me that the "just give it 5 minutes" thing works. It works for everything, not just your heARTmaking practice. For some reason my brain has always just been easily overwhelmed and a bit of a perfectionist. So there is mail unopened on my desk. There are emails unopened in my inbox. There are dirty dishes in the kitchen and dirty clothes in the basket. There are various to-do lists hanging about. There are 4 starts out in the garden wanting planted. There are all my art supplies calling to me in my studio. And all I feel noting these things is a desire to crawl back into bed. When my chronic health stuff flares, I can actually sleep like 15 hours in a row. I love my bed.

AND I know that if I give just 5 minutes to each thing(or hell, just one of the things): 1) I feel better, 2) actually a whole lot gets done, and 3) rather than drain my energy, it feeds my energy.

Still, I drag my feet and stare out the window and think, "Wouldn't it be so nice to go back to bed?"

Weird. Being human is weird.

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Oddly though, if I have a meeting scheduled with Cath or a course session at the Studio is on my calendar noting my turn to teach, nothing can normally stop me from being there. What is that? Work ethic? Fear of disappointing others? (Though I appear to have no problem disappointing myself by leaving that sketchbook page blank for another day!) Magical powers of seeing things on the actual calendar? What. Is. It.

Human. Being human is weird.

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Random notes from the past few days:


  • In my head I keep hearing the drippingly sarcastic line from Philadelphia Story: "The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges." 



  • Did you know that things like berries and cream mint or chocolate basil actually exist as plants people grow in their gardens? Who invented them??? Or discovered them?



  • Grey days and sunny days are very different creatures. I find it easier to "give it just 5 minutes" when the sun is out vs. a cloudy rainy day. 



  • My mind often wants to do lots of social things. But what it forgets is how much time and space I need after each social thing to find balance again. If my mind had its way, there would be something doing every single day. And then my body laughs and say, "Here ya go. Bit o pain for you to remember we will go slower than that!" Oooooh. Yeah. Ugh.



  • Growing our tomatoes and tomatillos next to the woodpile so they can climb may or may not be a great idea. As I watered last week, the hugest brown ugly spider jetted out from the wood onto the tomato plant dirt and began attacking the water stream. Hm. Can you say, "Wear your gloves when harvesting tomatoes!"



  • Don't put red food dye into your hummingbird feeders!! It is no good for them. FYI.

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No more brain cells.
More upon regeneration tomorrow.
k-



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hunger, ignorance, and a lack of patience

Today's post comes to you, typed one finger, on my phone, while sitting outside in the garden. It is true that technology certainly can be used for evil. But if you had told me two decades ago, I could sit here in my introverted heaven *and* connect with an audience that is potentially world wide, I'd have thought you were nuts.
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Hawk told me about a PBS documentary he watched on guns and violence in America. He said it was a conversation w a bereaved mother after her son's murder that changed the mind and heart of an influential man who was subject of this doc. It is a hard thing to process that it is "great" she could make him see, but at the cost of her son's life...was that man's privilege so off the charts insulated that he had never had to see anything until this woman, at a time when community should be most supporting her, instead, at that most vulnerable moment, educated him???

My friends and loves of color tell me that it has always been this way. They endure some racist bullshit, and then some white person wants them to be "calm" or to prove that bs happened or make it a "teachable" moment to explain what happened -- and let's not forget that the white person will also ask the POC to speak for *all* POC, too. Ack.

And can I just say that if one more person says to me, "Well black on black crime..." then that person immediately is required to speak for all white people and explain to me why we have such a huge problem with white-on-white crime coz statistically more whites kill whites. So come on! Explain it! And if I hear, "Muslims need to be accountable for ISIS terrorism," then damnit you must immediately tell me how your Christian ass is staying accountable for the KKK. Otherwise sit yourself down. Seriously.

I'm not the most patient advocate anymore. I suck at it. I can't even imagine how my friends and loves of color feel after dealing w this bullshit for 400 years here. 
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In this most twisted world, there is still beauty and hope, I know. Some days when I have no patience, others do. Some days when others need to tend, I find a space of calm to be present. It's just that often, frankly, I come here to write so I can vent. It is a valve for me. Lets off steam. Lets me see thoughts that have been circling around, land and have some coherence. Or maybe they land incoherently, and that's fine, too.
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Why is it still an extraordinary thing to see on shows or in films that the black guy doesn't die first or get cut from the competition first? Because Hawk and I take in much media together, we notice how often 1) there is no black person as significant part at all or 2) the black person is first one to be killed or cut from competition or 3) the part played by the black actor has been written/directed as if all POC are exactly like thus and such. It is awesome to see Shonda Rhimes, Bey, and others shifting things, not to negate any of what is being produced. Just saying I'll be so happy when it isn't extraordinary to have the black guy live and play a significant role!!!!
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Stillbirth is an odd birth experience. How many of you still think that is a rare outcome for birth? Saw some meme that said something about how dumb it is to say, "We're expecting a girl," because what else would you expect? A velociraptor? And my head said, "What else? I'll fucking tell you what else. A dead baby. That's what you smug mofo." I told you. I am no longer a patient advocate(an advocate with patience to educate). The women giving birth to death have had harsh experiences. You can handle the curse words if she can endure stillbirth. Wake up out of your privilege.
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Random cliches that are not cliche for me and actually form basis of where I'm coming from (not that you care, but if you did, these are keys to understanding a bit of my rantings):

Objectivity is bullshit.

Being human is messy.

It's a practice, not a perfect.

Capitalism is violent.

Grief is an experience, not an illness.

Making art in the studio or by planting a garden outside is all art. There is no "qualification" for something to be heARTmaking. Intend it. Do it. Done.

Nothing can serve to tend the body mind heart better than lack of gravity. Sitting in tree swing. Floating in ocean. Anything to get rid of gravity.

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Anyway that's that. I'm too hungry to keep typing random blather. May you find yummy food on your plate today.
k-
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