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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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?].


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.


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.


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.


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.

No more brain cells.
More upon regeneration tomorrow.

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.

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. 

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.

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!!!!

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.

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.


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

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hungers and books and beauty

Sometime you wonder up a plain old driveway and discover beauty growing from the cracks between the rocks, and you just have to stop and marvel at it. This vine was at the end of the drive, just shining in all its glory yesterday eve with bright white blossoms and centers so yellow they looked like the color of egg yolks. Have no idea what they are. Anyone know?


Just for the record (not that anyone gives a rat's ass): Seems there are a lot of people pissed off at bell hooks for her crit of Lemonade. Told you before that Bey has my heart now because of the visibility she and the heARTists who worked with her gave to bereaved mothers. *AND* there were things in hooks' crit that made me ponder - much the same as narrative therapy makes me ponder - about how we cannot be outside our culture or other subjective factors with our art. So, sorry, if you need to hate me, too, go ahead, but I have big love in my heart for *both* Bey and bell, for all their glorious human brilliance, heARTistry, and messiness because it all mirrors the flawed human experiences that unfold in my days, too. 


Let me tell you a fabulous trick.

What do you do with the abundance of chive flowers that appear about now in the garden? You make a marinated vinegar you can use as base to many things. Here's how: 
  • Tear the tops of all those beautiful purple flowers into pieces. They sort of peel off the top like even smaller tiny itty bitty flower buds. 
  • Toss them in the bottom of a jar. 
  • Fill the jar to just cover the buds with white balsamic vinegar - I particularly looooove Trader Joe's brand if you can get your hands on it. 
  • Cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. 
  • Then use that as the base to whatever you want to make like salad dressing, marinade for tofu or meat, etc. 

Incredibly yum!


Human ego is a weird thing. It is hard work to try and recognize it and keep it in check. Definitely an area of "practice, not perfect" for me. Have had my share of experiences where elders or leaders I admired and hoped to mentor with or connect with in some significant way seemed ???  put off, too good for it, snooty, too introverted??? I don't know. And I know there have been times when others have approached me seeking something, and my capacity to be present was compromised for whatever reason, so I'm sure I seemed put off, too good for it, snooty, too introverted, something. 

But so I went to first grief support group meeting I've gone to in a very long time, as a participant, just to do some tending. And it was weird. My ears would hear me talking about some author or book that was helpful to me, and it caused me to ponder if that was genuinely being heard as a share or if my ego was in the way in an "educator" role and it was coming off as annoying. Don't really have an answer to that, but just noticing it. Noticing how much, precisely because my work is in a helper role as "educator," I need to be doing things to balance and get support for my own stuff. And yet when I step out to do it, often, I find it very difficult to remove the "helper" hat. 

Also makes me notice that, for some reason, at this juncture, I want to be having MORE conversations with people around grief stuff. Especially in ways that incorporate the grief conversation in connection with our whole context -- not ignoring that we are in modern western privilege, that there is a flaw with universal models, that we cannot experience our grief stuff separate from class, race, gender, etc. Co-teaching through the Studio's certification course certainly is part of the on-going conversation. But I want MORE, too. Not sure what that means at this point. Cath and I are talking about ideas for supervision group and in-person workshop in 2017. There's something cooking...and I'm reeeeeeeally hungry for it.


And by the way, a big thank you again to everyone who connected with me in the flesh, on the ground, in MN and PA last month!


Bibliotherapy is a real thing, and there have been so many books that have heARTened me along the way. Here are a few:
  • Finding Hope When A Child Dies by Dr. Sukie Miller
  • The Other Side of Sadness by George Bonanno 
  • Healing Through The Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan
  • How To Be Sick by Toni Bernhard
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • Teaching Community by bell hooks
  • Awakening The Heroes Within by Carol Pearson
  • Improvisation For The Spirit by Katie Goodman

Just to name a few. Seriously my eReader is overflowing with book love...and there are still a few physical books on shelves here :) If you want tastes of these or other things I'm reading along the way, there is a Pin board here where I'll keep adding bits as I read and re-read.


Okay, that's all my brain cells have to give today.
Go enjoy some silence or a body of water that is much larger than you!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What you see or don't see.

You'd never know it, but the above piece started out as a photograph of flower stems in a blue glass bottle. Some days I don't like what I get from a shoot and so go in with digital tools to alter and push and pull and layer and filter and play. Can I call this my version of Picasso's self portrait at 90 years old? Anyway, there are metaphors in there with the heARTmaking process for how I sometimes feel about my days in general.

Sometimes extra tools are just needed to help me alter and push and pull and layer and filter and play til I can stand to look at whatever I'm looking at in my day. Sometimes a cup of coffee will do it. (Have you seen Sweatpants & Coffee yet? Yes to everything she creates.) Sometimes the garden does it. Or a bit of time in the swing. Or saying what I need to say. Or having some time to walk and be silly and have a conversation with Hawk about real stuff or about nothing at all. Or making sure I have enough downtime between whatever things land on my calendar to actually tend a little. Or some more sleep.

Have you ever noticed that on those days when you most need the extra help, it is often the most challenging to be gentle to you about that? Or is it just me?


Sometimes my eyes don't work. I walk in the kitchen. It's early morning. My stomach is like threatening me to eat something or it will make me sick. And my eyes look around and see nothing. Not one damn thing to eat, except coffee which doesn't really count. Do you think there is an eye doctor somewhere who can give me prescription lenses to make seeing what is actually in the kitchen more visible?


And then some days just feel like this:


Do you ever just not want to know whatever it is you know? Like it is too much. You don't know what to do with knowing all that. Just let me sock that away over here in some mangie, musty, old sock drawer and walk out of the house and do something that involves not knowing anything. Problem is, if you close the door, and then come back later, you walk into a house that is filled with that horrid musty smell and you re-remember it all twice as vividly as when you folded that pair of socks around that knowing. Ugh. Throw open the fucking windows!


Been seeing multiple things about "failing" recently:

"To cite Michel Foucault - failing can stand in contrast to the grim scenarios of success that depend on ‘trying and trying again.’ What kind of recompense can failure offer us? Perhaps, most obviously, failure allows us to escape the punishing norms and ideas of disciplined behaviours and the raging boredom of managed human relationships."
~Dr Stephen Madigan - latest Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy newlstter

"Dear Sister,
I need you to be ok with both failing and feeling. They are both essential steps in your growth and evolution"
~Desiree Adaway

"We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure. Showing up is our power."
~Brene Brown
So remember, even in "failing," you are not alone! You have gooooood company.


I don't know. I'm outta words today.
Go loooove yourselves in all the ways you so desperately wish others would loooove on you. Taking care of you first is always gateway to offering anything to others.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Extremes, calling bullshit when I see it, and side eye...before remembering what makes me sane.

You just start to let your fingers move across the keyboard because it is the only thing that will keep you from seeking out anyone with a big phat joint that you can feel in your fingers, smell and taste as it knocks you back out to sleep, oh the romanticizing of drugs that an addict's mind will do is incredible. Of course once the tapping on the keyboard starts, you remember also the paranoia, the depression, the lack of compassion you end up with for anyone and anything. You remember that morning you called Hawk and said, "Could you come and get me?" because you had decided maybe that wasn't the year you wanted to die. You remember what it was like to go cold turkey and how hard it is to stay sober in a world that is so fucked it is hard to find laughter some days.


There are reasons you, like a cat, seek sun spots, curl up, come back to your breath, and stay there aiming for compassion, but settling for neutralness, toward yourself, others, the world in general.


Many emails come into my inbox along the way from people wanting to do work in some way, they are still seeking, using grief + creativity skills. They want to know if it is viable business. They are discouraged because some publisher told them, "There is no audience for grief/death materials."

These may be hard truths to live. But there are two things I share first usually:

  • It's bullshit that there is no audience. Every single human being on this planet is mortal, and unless you are the lucky one who gets to die young, fast, first, you will have to face grief and death. Therefore anyone who can read or listen to or find your stuff is potential audience.

  • I know of no magic feathers to make this work "viable business" in the way most people are asking it. The entire human population is your potential audience, but grief/death doesn't "sell" in the modern western American capitalist way as say Burning Man sells. (Don't get me started on the irony of that.) Those who are in the midst of experiencing death and grief are never-ending because death isn't going anywhere. But that audience is a vulnerable audience from the get-go then. They who often need the most help have intersecting experiences happening that may prevent them from accessing whatever you offer. So it isn't a get-rich-quick space, and I call bullshit on anyone who tries to sell you, "do these six steps and you'll make six figures next year" crap. 

So people often ask how I do it. Well, I did other things for a good decade before becoming "self-employed" entirely. We live a very small life intentionally. No car payment. No mortgage/owning of land/property. Until what people still derogatorily call "Obamacare," we didn't have insurance, and even with it, we gamble every year on whether it is worth it to invest in it or pay the penalty. When my wisdom teeth hurt, and we get an estimate for over $4k for removal of them, it is not an automatic that what needs to happen will, and I begin pondering how to live with more pain for just a little while longer.

Is it worth it, people ask? Yes. I'm sorry. It is. I'm not interested in having a "boss" ever again. I'm not interested in dealing with "dress codes" and what is "compliant" for hair style. I'm not interested in ever working in hierarchy again. I'm not interested in the "productivity" of a people, but rather in their heARTs. I will gladly enter into being a homeless bag lady who dies on the street than give into white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy full time ever again. (And please note that is the binary, all/nothing version of things my extreme self is offering there - you can find a myriad of ways to do this work between the "boss" and "homelessness" so understand, I am just making a point there!) Is that the ideal? No. Is it what I would prefer? No. I would prefer we had such a revolution in our world that doing the creative work that I, and sooooooo many others do or are called to do, would be valued and true community would emerge for every living being to be cared for along the way.

But short of my pie in the sky, I don't give a shit if it is "viable" or what "publishers" say about audiences. I know there is need. Never-ending. Because people come into my life every single day to share and connect and looking for support. If this were the 11th century, I'd be in some monastery somewhere "hosting strangers or guests" to care for them (hospice) (if you don't know what I mean by this, look up the history of hospice). But it isn't the 11th century, we're here today, and "how to do it" is just to do it. If you are called, just do it. Do it part time while you do other things if need be. Try doing it as a social worker within an organization (not that I have much confidence in that option these days as structural social justice issues are insane in organizations, but you know, try if you want). If self-employment is something you can do 100%, then try it as a coach with the freedom that brings (that doesn't mean you don't get the education needed and then hold yourself to standards like supervision for self-care even though coaching doesn't require it -- do your best with that freedom!!!).

I don't know what else to say.  
These truths - ***as I've experienced them*** (which doesn't mean your experience will be anything like mine btw!!) - can be hard to live. But that's what I can offer.


Mother's Day. Yeah. I know. Please do whatever you need and want for it. I'm done with it for the most part. I spent years trying to raise the profile and writing pieces about ties to bereaved mothers calling for cessation of wars, and my own feminist "sisters" called me a liar, told me I was "ruining" everything by tainting it with death, and a couple of years ago we even got violent threats. So I said screw it all, removed everything I had ever written on the topic from everywhere I could (though there are a couple spots where I did not have the reach to remove published pieces), and packed it in. Very happy to see places like National Geographic and other intersectional social justice organizations now taking on the space of sharing that same herstory of it being about peace protests, etc. And still it all makes me side eye because seriously, we got violent threats for sharing the same stuff a couple of years ago. Whatever. Enjoy. I'm out.


Can someone please explain to me why we did caucus here in WA state only to have ballots for "primary" show up in our mailbox this week? What kind of fucking sense does that make? Do the caucuses mean nothing then? Are we supposed to vote in this "primary" instead?

Democracy, my ass. Why don't we just call it what it is:




It truly is a practice (not a perfect) to 1) stay sober every day, 2) turn to heARTmaking instead, and 3) to try to touch some sort of gentle way toward self and others/world when what courses through me pretty much 24/7 now is a big call of "bullshit!" on everything.

Touchstones that keep me sane:

  • Flowers our housemate lavishes on us all to enjoy around the house and yard.

  • A garden with soil that I can sink into and feel some connection to something outside man-made bullshit.

  • Loves and friends who can see the bullshit, too, (so they don't just pass me off as nuts), *and* who also know how to make fun of it all in such a way that they make me laugh. Even loves I do not know at all like CK Louis -- that man can make me laugh at the absurdity like no one else.

  • Space to speak. Space to heART. Space to sink into imagery.

  • Bodies of water that are hugely larger than moi.

  • The embracing of the fact that I am a Scanner!! (Thank you, Barb Sher, for all your brilliance around this topic and for letting me know I don't have to "be positive" to do what I am called to do.)


Okay, I have got to get away from the screen today. Go enjoy the physical world, loves. See you virtually tomorrow.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

There is no way that I cannot see it...

Dream sequences
Walking from one job to the next. Spending time walking slowly in the sun with a friend to talk and catch up. Arriving at second job which is someone's house, no one home though. Standing at this table to check my phone before digging into whatever I was to do there. And the smell of dryer sheets is overwhelming. To the point I feel nauseated and like a migraine is coming on (and I did wake w a migraine!). Looking around furiously for the source of the smell, and I find it on one of the chairs that is pushed in under the table. I cover the box of sheets with two huge towels and the scent dissipates. 

Moving out to their back porch, I see the sun has given way to rain, warm summer rain, but still rain. Looking at my phone, there are texts from Hawk asking me to call him as soon as possible because "this world of samsara has attempted to break the black" today, and there is so much hurt. He needs to touch base and hear love. I keep trying to call him, but every time I press something on my phone, it does something else. Like if I dial, it is typing numbers in a status box. If I try to see the contact list, it shows me the library in my reader app. Freaking out, I step backwards into zero-gravity and realize I can fly.

Start winging over the street outside the house. See a van racing down the street and a young boy dashing out. They just miss each other. The van driver never even saw the boy - the van too tall, the boy so little. The boy didn't comprehend the van at all, just danced across with the barely brush to the other side of the street where he kept on dancing in circles under a cherry blossom tree. People were out everywhere. Just doing whatever they do. It didn't look like "so much hurt," but then I looked again and saw every single person I saw, as far as I could see, was white. La dee dah. La dee dah.

I kept flying, trying to get to Hawk. Coming up over a rise, a heat hit me. The light changed like there was a raging forest fire travelling a great speed across gigantic swaths of land. Tried to go up higher, above the heat, but still in this space, so I could see or get to the other side of it or something. Nothing worked. Just sort of hung there, floating higher and higher as I was nearer actual zero-gravity now. I looked at my phone to see if it was working yet, afterall I was so high I could see the damn satellites. The screen said "out of service range." I screamed and violently threw the phone. Well, I tried to. Level was so high now that the scream went out silent into space, and the phone went floating off into actual zero-gravity which I had reached now.



In some ways, it is very interesting to learn how things work. Curiosity snags me by the nose, and my fingers begin searching searching searching, and my eyes start to crave information. There is much to be learned about how things work. Yet, it exhausts me because often when we learn how things work, we simultaneously find that the whole truth is obscured, or there is a catch in the works, or there is something so disillusioning that it was not worth finding out in the first place. 

Wondering today if that is an age thing. Even with disillusionments under the age of say 20, the curiosity remained a driving factor. But for the last, say 25 years or so, every next disillusionment has been a, "Huh. Yep. Of course. Let me just go over here in this sun spot, curl up like a cat, and fuck it." Was it that in the younger days, the curiosity lets us believe we can change things? Was it a lack of balance with community/self care that burns it out of us? Is the inspiring spark I see in all the young activists the "age thing" or have they discovered new paths given they have new technologies and all?

It is discouraging to hear from elders that we are beyond the tipping point. Do what we can. Keep doing good. But we are beyond recovery. Beyond recovery in our time? Is it just that we won't see it? Or beyond it entirely? When I hear this, I see the transitions from curiosity to exhaustion. Has anyone ever named this lament as grief? Maybe Miriam Greenspan has. Hm. I think I need to read her book. Again.


Say what you want about Beyonce's Lemonade film, but I've learned more from her music videos than I did in my entire high school history education. That is a sad fucking commentary. But there it is. How many of you have even heard of Igbo Landing


I'm so sick of white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy today. These women should be celebrate, not "investigated." The school to prison pipeline is real, and if you don't fucking believe that after reading this, then get yourself a copy of The New Jim Crow for fuck sake. And for the umpteenth time: none of you mother fuckers, no matter what you imagine your "authority" to be, none of you gets to tell a woman or girl what she can do with her body, including her hair. Fuck you. This is a 9 year old. You get no say over her hair. Or over any of the women or girls I've read about in the past year alone who get harassed for "non-compliant" hair style. Think about that, my brothers and sisters. Think about it. "Compliant." Slavery much in your capitalism? No. You get no say. Don't give a shit what your "position" is. 


Was outside looking at the shadows that sparked the image you see in this post. Worked the shot a few different ways before I got what I wanted. Housemate was out sitting with me as this happened. As I was shooting, she was asking, "What are you doing?" Once I had the shot and showed her, she said, "How do you always see this interesting things? You find them every single day."

Didn't think much of it in the moment. But it was an echo in the background of the dream I shared at the top of this post. I don't understand how people do not see them. Really. Part of my practice is having patience and being willing, for those who seek and ask, to be facilitator for helping people find creative approaches -- mostly to grief experiences because I feel those are the most intense moments where people might finally be shaken enough to *want* to find and see creatively. But helping people find creative approaches, period. To anything. To everything. 

There is always a different perspective. I honestly don't know how I could *not* see it. I find them every single day because that is how I see. My practice is with understanding that others do not see, and often even think I am nuts because even when I stand there doing the shots, they can't see what I'm seeing. My practice is being patient with a world that thinks I'm nuts. My practice is finding ways to stay willing and open to share what I see, even when there is backlash. 

It is scary sometimes. Many days, like I mentioned in yesterday's post, I want to just melt into the beauty of a color I shoot or create and cease being in this human realm. That is a real and constant daily struggle. Blanket houses are very inviting. The garden is a place of commune for me. I could bathe in the soil. Really. Though it is weird that I don't want to buried after I die -- I want to be cremated. But I am considering the tree pod seriously. 


Anyway, that dream line:

"this world of samsara has attempted to break the black"

is echoing through my day today. It is one of those spaces where I don't understand how we as humans don't see inequality and social injustice affects us all. Even if we have privilege, we are still part of the spectrum that is this inequality and social injustice. I don't understand how we don't see that. 


Melting into the colors and soil today...if you want me, I'll be out in the garden hoping to dig up some peace of mind. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Starts, finish, firsts, lasts...the pacing.

Good finish. Have you ever thought about how odd that phrase is? The runner had a good finish to that race. Finish? Really? The runner, unless this was the last thing she'll ever do before death, isn't finished. They'll review w coach, keep stretching and practicing yoga or whatever strength stuff they do, there will be more races most likely. Finish is relative to a particular time and space because the run organizers had to pick a day, time, space to have people meet up and compete. But finish? It's an odd choice considering the continuum that most are working with as they race or make art or study or whatever we all do.


Good death. Have you ever thought about how odd that phrase is? For me, there is no escaping the particularly American western capitalist crap that undertones "a good death." While I'm all for having honest, real, even sometimes tinged with humor, conversations about what we think of death, what we've previously experienced with loved ones, what we think about our own mortality and what will happen as death approaches us, the idea that there is a binary good/bad just seems a lousy set up for people to then have lots of shame and guilt about "not doing right" or allowing people they love to have "bad deaths" and such. Wouldn't it make more sense to ask people what they want from their death experiences? What do they think death will be, what do they fear most, what is the question they've never been brave enough to ask about death, do they feel they can ask for help around death issues? Some sort of narrative path into the topic. Maybe?


This "good" stuff is on my mind today because we've just heard that the medical clinic we use here on the island -- mind you, there is no hospital at all here -- will be closing entirely in August. All our island neighbors who are doctors and nurses there will be offered "other positions" which means they'll join the long grey line in commute via ferry to serve people on the mainland while people here who cannot afford to go back and forth will be without a medical clinic. But yeah, we need to have conversations about good deaths and good finishes because who wants to talk about people who are "too poor" to commute having a good damn life, access to basic human rights. You know, nooooo, why would we fucking want to do that. Those ferries are "our luxuries" the mainlanders say. Don't take "our highway" money they say. With no perspective whatsoever that these ferries are our highways. But fuck us. Unless we can afford to live in the house that has its own airport, fuck us.

We should get different jobs. We should leave our community. It's fine that there is nothing to entice our best and brightest kids to stay or come back after higher education (if they can afford that). 

I'm so sick of the world today. Can you tell?


When this kind of shit rises in me, honestly, all I can do is detach entirely. I certainly know that is a privilege most don't have. And yet here I am. Fuck everything. I'm going into the garden and don't fucking disturb me. The soil gives no matter what my privilege or lack of it. The worms eat my compost no matter how much or little money we had to buy whatever that compost originally was. The seeds push through the dirt without regard to whether or not there will be a medical clinic here on the island come August. The starts begin blooming tomato flowers regardless of whether or not I'll have medical care to continue monitoring my chronic health stuff or not.

Did you see the beautiful yellow in the photo of this post of those first tomato flowers???? I would like to melt into that yellow and disappear from this human realm.


Things that give me hope and inspiration:

  • Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philly -  Never been there, but streamed creative conversations they've hosted, follow their feeds on FB and insta, read all about the vision of owner Ariell Johnson. Inspiration abounds!

  • Spectrum 2016 - So happy to be offering creative ideas to this workshop series again this year, but even more happy to be *participating* this year. The sparks -- even just from seeing posts from other participants on the FB group -- are keeping my spirits raised, letting me know there is heARTful, seeking community out there, we just don't live in the same neighborhood.

  • Michelle's Business Spark Cafe - My whole heART loves the way Michelle offers creative views of business stuff. If you know me at all, you know I hate the biz stuff. Dread it. Avoid it at all costs. But Michelle has made it fun and approachable to explore, in the company of other extroverted-introverts, to explore what it means to be visible, to show up, to allow our heARTwork to see biz as just food for the nourishment of energy we need to do it!

  • All the books I continue to read - The electronic reader is chalk full of books now. Re-reading ones originally read in paper so my notes can be captured online and put toward writings I want to do. Reading anew the various ones that others have said, "you'll looooove this one," as the process continues for expanding perspectives, ideas, what is *thought to be known* and what is not known. I keep this Pin board of the quotes from the various books as a way to quickly spark myself on crap days like today.

  • bell hooks institute - Somewhere along the line, there was an article about or with bell hooks where she talked about being so grateful for activists and advocates of all kinds -- those on the ground being arrested; those making art and inviting others to the heART process; those publishing materials; those organizing people to show up and be visible; those doing legal work; all of them -- because they allowed her to also do her piece of the heARTwork with her research and writing and teaching and speaking. That has stuck with me for many years. There was a practice in there somewhere for me. To have huge gratitude for everyone out there doing what they do, so that it becomes possible for me to do just my little bit that I do with my whole heART and with love. 

That truly is a practice though. I often forget it. Crave doing something "bigger"...or forget to just show up and do my little bit with my whole being and instead question why I'm not doing what someone else is doing ... or forget that my bit is just one bit and there is much to be curious about with everything others are doing and so to ASK QUESTIONS and be in conversation with others.


And then some days just are like today. I'm a rattled tiger. Pacing. So much anger coursing through me. I need to just go out to the soil, find a sun spot, curl up and breathe. 

May you, too, have a practice you can exercise when your inner tiger begins pacing.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The new and the old

Wonky. Seems to be the word for this day that has just started. Already wonky. Though I can hear Hawk in my head saying, "But isn't it always wonky. And so if it is always that way, then isn't that just your normal?" Yeah. I love that human. 


Dream scene I woke from was intense. On a campus somewhere, not one I've ever seen in physical world. There was a lab/art studio that intrigued me, but for some reason, we could not access it as needed/wanted, so it was available only short 90 minute slot once a week. The main space we all gathered was more a huge living room, and Missy was sitting near a window and appeared to be knitting. Upon sitting next to her though, I saw she was actually stitching together mechanical parts, building some kind of machine. And by the looks of her "knitting basket," she was constantly building these machines.

A meal time was called out and everyone went to eat in another room. My being hesitated. Though I did not think about it in the dream, upon wake-pondering it seemed as if, in that moment, my-dream-me felt unworthy of nourishment or scared to assert my own needs when the room was teaming with others who had needs. Hanging back in the living room, it was easy to see people exit and leave the building entirely, so I could see when the meal room was mostly empty. Then my feet felt they could move, sort of doing a stealth kitchen run, to sneak a plate, a napkin, a bag, whatever food was left that could be mish-moshed together into a meal.

And then staying in the kitchen to eat seemed "not allowed," so with plate, napkin, and bag in hand, I half spy-slithered/ half nonchalantly walked thru another building where a play was being staged, a parking lot where students seemed to be playing pranks, empty hallways of creepily lit dorm buildings where I finally slunk down so hungry and weary that eating there out weighed the creepy factor that was compelling me to leave. Once finished eating, the plate, napkin, and bag had to be disposed of and again this was "not allowed" for some reason. Creeping around again in the creepy hallways, there were various spaces I could "leave" these things. Why a garbage can was not the answer, I don't know.

As I was about to ditch the bag at the top of a stairway, the door at the bottom of the stairway opened and it was a Snape-like teacher. The stairs suddenly turned, HarryPotterLike, into a series of black boxes stacked just-so to be stairs, and I realized these were the boxes I'd seen earlier in the lab/art studio room. Snape-ish looked at me and said, "Come here." So down the boxes I stepped. They were surprisingly sturdy. And once you got to the bottom, the door at the bottom seemed invisible and the boxes looked like they were stacked straight, not like a stairway at all. Snape-ish indicated with a flourish that no one would be around all night, I could snoop til my heart was content, and by all means, feel free to start with the boxes. They each had a buckle on them, but none were locked.

I woke.


You know how you get used to things happening one way. Then when they happen another way, you ponder if something is wrong as opposed to just happening another way. Yeah, that's been my whole week. Blood test results have never shown up on my digital charts this week after the draw on Monday. Usually they show up 24 hours later. Thought maybe the draw was mislabeled or something -- that's happened before -- so called to see if I needed to do another and reschedule drs. appt. No. They said results are there, but dr hasn't released them to digital chart yet, and please come in for appt. Not that that makes me worry or anything. 

I hate worry. One of the Buddhist teachers I was reading suggested becoming neutral with worry. Just notice it. Don't hate nor love. Just notice with no attachment. And then it will dissipate. At least that was his experience. So far for me, I just still hate it. 


Supposed to have some sun back today. Hoping so. Really want to get into the garden for a bit. Right front side is still sore, so it will be a gentle, slow bit of time, but still want to be out there with my feet in the dirt. We found purple peas and purple tomatillo starts the other day, and I want to get them going. Plus, you know, I can't explain the *joy* but pulling weeds is one of my favorite things to do now. I use the fork or shovel to loosen things up, but then I get on my hands and knees and muck about in the dirt to pull stuff out, keep the soil, turn it all over. It's like the sandbox when we were kids or something. The rice table. The water table. Only this wood box is a raised bed where I can commune with worms. Love.


It is a real thing that doing social justice work -- be it working on racial, environmental, grief, or any of the myriad of other areas -- it is a real thing for advocates, artists, activists to burn out. And equal part of the heARTwork we do, needs to be around self/community care. There was a great article in YES about Angela and Fania Davis that included this quote from Angela:

"I think our notions of what counts as radical have changed over time. Self-care and healing and attention to the body and the spiritual dimension—all of this is now a part of radical social justice struggles. That wasn’t the case before. And I think that now we’re thinking deeply about the connection between interior life and what happens in the social world."

Yes. Exactly. And self-care needs to be placed in a context outside/beyond the individualistic bullshit of modern western white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy. It need to be placed within the context of community, group, team as we work together on social justice issues. Supervision for social workers and hospice folks needs to be about more than paperwork and the bottom line. We need to feel the network of our peers around us instead of some cut-off competition where we meet one at a time with our "superiors" or some such capitalist bullshit model. Community needs to be a real thing for all of us. Self-care is always happening within a kinship system. Just as Ulanov said in Madness & Creativity:

Anyway, if this area of stuff interests you, I post most finds and resources and thoughts on these matters over on my FB feed because there is so much out there now. The feed there works more as a "current events" speed than does the blog here. For me anyway. I have the "follow" feature turned on over there, so you don't have to "friend" me or anything. I often don't take "friend requests" if I'm not sure we know each other, but most of my stuff is public anyway, so I turned the follow feature on for that reason.


What compels us to journal? Through writing or artmaking?

Teaching and *taking* the Spectrum 2016 workshop this year. And as I was going through this week's offerings, there were invitations to start. To just begin. To look at prepped pages we already had. To explore the cover that invites us into a journal. And I began pondering, why...what...the compelling factor for us to journal is...what? 

There are some answers that have rung for me in the past. To re-member shattered pieces. To re-connect to what has been silenced or comes in color/form, not word/voice. To explore a space of freedom. To witness. 

And yes, all that. But there's some other radical (to get to the root of) thing I'm pondering here. When I was a kid and the first journal was presented to me -- a journal I still have along with about 35 years of other journals in a cedar chest here -- why/ what was it that compelled me to jump in there with pen and voice to say anything? And why do I still have all these damn journals? Art and written. Why have I moved them to every single stinking placed I've ever lived? What do they mean? Why do I keep them even though I never look at them unless we are moving and I have to unpack the mondo chest by packing them into smaller manageable boxes to get them to the next place??

Not sure where my playing with Spectrum workshop will go, but let the exploration begin!


From Improv Wisdom:  Notice something new today.


Okay, off to have a day. Maybe one in which I'll notice something new. :) Enjoy, loves!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Minty fresh truths...

chron·ic [ˈkränik] adj.
1. (of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. "chronic bronchitis"
synonyms: persistent, long-standing, long-term; 
2. (of a person) having an illness persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. "a chronic asthmatic"
3. (of a problem) long-lasting and difficult to eradicate. "the school suffers from chronic overcrowding"
synonyms: constant, continuing, ceaseless, unabating, unending, persistent, long-lasting

Sometimes it seems like we use words so often that we have forgotten what they mean. Notice the definition of chronic here and how it talks about long-lasting or recurring. No where does it say "fixed, made better, gotten over, let go" after a long time. It simply says long-lasting or recurring. While some of the synonyms in there lean toward an awful tinge on that with "ceaseless, unabating, unending," those are just synonyms. Chronic itself does not indicate that consistent battering, but rather just leans toward more of an oscillation with recurring being used to describe the nature of it.

Chronic illness and grief experiences (though I absolutely do not think grief is illness at all!!) are both things that, in my experience, are truly chronic even though the dominant paradigms in our modern Western world want there to be cure, feeling better, getting over, being well again, etc. It is still a very counter culture thing, it seems, to say to someone, yes, of course this is the 17th mothers day you are living without your child who died, and yes, it still sucks, and yes, that's normal. Not relentless. But chronic. Because guess what? Mothers days keep coming, and our kids keep being dead.

Being human and real is messy.


Look, I'm not dumb. Yes, there is a whole, mostly American, very capitalist, way of life out there that is about business, the bottom line, positivity, success and "forming your brand" and all that. But let me just be honest with you from the get-go:  There is no way in hell I'll ever be your positivity, let-me-guide-you-because-I'm-so-experienced, guru with a branded message that can be blurbed in a few minutes on mass media making us all feel better. It is understandable that you are looking for that. It is understandable that you are disillusioned to not find that.

But I like to curse. The word fuck is lovely to me. I am messy and deal with chronic health stuff. Not relentless, but chronic. Metaphors in the health issues abound that mirror some of the experiences I've had with grief. There are days when it does not matter how "nice" I want to be, there just is not one single ounce of patience in me, and my blanket house becomes my best friend. I write because I have to, not because I'm trying to sell stuff. It is as if the words gather at the ends of my finger tips and make them swell until I tap the keys so they can all escape. That's why I do it. Not to be your guru. I make a lousy guru.


These cursed blank screens and pages. OMG I hate them. I sit down to them over and over again because my chronic -- actually relentless in this case -- experience of being human has taught me that I need to use these blank space in order to keep my sanity. So I come back here again and again. But man, I fucking hate that wretched blinking cursor. That pen laying flat taunting me. I don't know what those spaces are like for you, but here is a sample of what runs thru my head as I sit to host them:

  • You are thinking about writing what?!? WTF do you know about xyandz? You cannot write about that!

  • You must be kidding. You are going to offer your opinion about what? You are the most clueless dink on this planet, but by all means, go ahead and offer your "opinion"!?!

  • Why do you bother to do anything with these spaces, woman? No one gives a shit. Even you don't give a shit. So why are you torturing all of us here. Wasn't it much better when you drank and did drugs so that we just didn't have to think about any of this?! (yes, being sober is a chronic experience also!)

Yeah. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!


Sitting in my tree swing yesterday, with a big swath of time to myself, uninterrupted, and I noticed that the wind was blowing and moving the clouds from south to north. Hmmmmm, I said in my head, look at that. The wind is coming out of the south. The clouds are moving north.

And then I pondered this. What? Who cares? Why do I even know that is south and this is north? How the hell did I end up living a life where I know the cardinal directions no matter where I am in our house or on our property? What is it in me that was so excited to assert: The wind is coming out of the south. ???? Really?

Man, being human is a weird experience. Weeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiirrrrd.


Yesterday morning I woke after a good 9 hours of sleep and rolled over onto my right side and pain shot through my whole bod. Something on my right side, below the rib cage, above the hip, to the right of the belly button, felt like someone had been inside there using that space as a punching bag all night. Nothing showing on the outside at all. But the bod felt bruised from the inside. No idea. No clue. I don't remember pulling anything, doing anything in particular. I went to sleep and rolled over.


Cobbled my way through the day yesterday and wound up curled on the couch and taking my tummy meds several times before just sleeping sleeping sleeping. I have a love hate relationship with those meds. I can take them up to 4 times a day, but they are blurry and all I want to do is sleep. Usually I take them only at bedtime. Most of the day, I just hum along. But at night the pain can spike. Since they make me blurry anyway, bedtime was the compromise I could live with for them. So I HATE it when there are days where I have to take those bastards during daylight because I know I'll be out of it.

And, okay, yes, given that the pain comes, I'm grateful to have those bastards when stuff happens. Random stuff. Not relentless. Chronic. Fuck.

Slept like I was in a coma for some ungawdly amount of hours. Awake now. No meds yet. Can still feel it, but not so bad as yesterday. See the doc tomorrow. Okay then. One day at a time. One freaking minute at a time.


Want to hear something funny. Re-reading this post to correct errors, and suddenly self-consciousness rises with a flush to the face. "Dear gawd, Kara, do you see how many times you have typed the word I?" Part of my studies back in the day were with Mister Rogers Neighborhood, looking at how Fred used language across mass media to create a different way of using technology to support child development. He was very, very conscious about using the word I as little as possible. In scripts. In songs. In answering fan mail. In books.

Can you spot the amount of shame-driven crap that surrounds my experiences with meeting these blank posts or pages each day?? The bulleted list of stuff that runs thru my head shared up above? The "do not use the word I" rule. The defensiveness about what chronic really means? Rules. Big books of rules that really are shame triggers. There definitely are reasons that I so fervently threw my hat in the ring when Cath approached me about starting the Studio to do continuing ed stuff about "Shameless Grief"!!!!!!!!


Note to self: Loving the chive flowers as you do, eating three of them at a time in the smallest cup of soup or salad, please do remember that they make your breath STINK! :) Break out the summer mints.


Well, okay, hope you all are having pain-free and minty days. More later.

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