Tender

Tender

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Gratitude (a prayer)

Reality (CAI2020)

Thank you, Mother, for the lesson they can't ignore
A warning, clear and stern
with no wiggle room for doubt
thank you for the lightness of the sentence
a lesson, not a punishment,
not yet
thank you for sending us home
for tearing so many holes, all at once
so we have no choice but to stop
take stock
and rebuild
Father, please protect us
keep us well and safe and warm
loved and sheltered from the storm
a wish for all
a wish for life
May I fortify my best
may I pass this test of my humanity
flying with the colours
being with the memory
of now.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Yes

Ballot Cast (2019 CAI)
it's already happened
it's happening now.
it makes me tired just to look at it,
but still, in the end,
I vote yes.

Indefinite, not infinite (Maverick Missives)

Indefinite Wisdome (CAI 2019)
The concept of Maximum holds the key.
The limits.
Unlimitless requires an infinite environment
so
of course Spirit pursues it!
But in a body, it’s destructive
Because Earth is not an infinite environment
Earth is an indefinite environment
And that is a totally different animal.


Earth has a limit. 
Nothing is created or destroyed, only changed
Nothing much comes in. Very little goes out.
We can do this, indefinitely

But not limitlessly. 

Limits create the definition
that allows indefinition to continue.

Wake up!


Saturday, March 7, 2020

Fabulous Women


Too Subtle (CAI 2019)

As I prepare to attend an International Women's Day Conference where there are many speakers I find interesting and admire, I have a confession to make: I secretly hate inspirational talks.

I know it’s a bit perverse and I’m probably jealous of the amazing people, but I have a habit of letting inspirational talks shame me. They highlight my inadequacy. I am not inspirational like them. All my promise, all my potential, everything I’ve done to learn and grow and figure out life’s challenges, all my failures that I call learning experiences; all I know and long to share with the world, is not much, after all. Not polished. Not finished. Not interesting. Not coherent. Not enough.

Maybe we could organize a conference of the women no one ever asks to speak, because their stories seem suspiciously common. Because they are not accomplished enough, not fabulous enough, haven’t managed to come out the other side of their challenges and put together a tidy TED-inspired story of how they grew and what they know and what they did that was so important. 

Maybe I’d rather hear mumbled, uncertain snippets from women who are still mired and mucking around. Women who have accomplished staying alive today and doing all the things that needed doing to keep their lives afloat and take care of the people they care about, despite a bevy of personal challenges. I want to hear how they find ways to be sane and loving, when the world is so terrible. I want to see how they grab and protect moments of creative inspiration despite a life filled with chores. I want to hear how they sometimes manage to break through the resentment of having all the work and none of the glory. I want to understand how they keep believing in themselves even when no one else believes in them, when the world tells them there’s nothing in them to believe in, anyway, and that situation has not changed despite their best efforts. I’d like to understand how they manage their chronic pain and constant, underlying anxiety. How they get back in touch with their bodies and learn to love them, or fail to do so despite years of trying. I want to know how they cope with never finishing anything they start, but plugging away at it anyway, or how they reconcile themselves to give it up. I would like to understand, too, how they feel about the Inspirational Women being Fabulous until common efforts begin to feel pointless, since they can’t be held up like a polished diamond for admiration. Are they inspired?

Maybe, instead of seeking inspiration in the exceptional, what I really crave is to feel inspired to hold myself, exactly as I am, as special and important. To feel that I’m not alone. To admire other messy, “unaccomplished” women who are scraping together their own purpose amidst a life dedicated to others, in a world designed to keep us from knowing our true godliness. 

I think I want to believe that I’m not a failure because no one cares about my experiences. I want to feel like I’m one of many on a journey that is important, somehow, even if I never come out the other side. I deeply wish to believe that my lack of audience reach doesn’t mean I’m a waste.

But, I suspect that craving for consolation doesn’t deserve respect.  Let alone a whole conference.

And, anyway, no one would come.

And also, I would not speak there. 

I am not so jealous of the Fabulous Women because they get to speak and be heard. I am jealous because they get to be so brave and motivated that they can do it. I can't remember the last time I felt that way, like I could tackle something like wrapping my knowledge into an interesting present for the world and delivering it with gusto. I can't remember the last time that the thought of doing something really interesting and probably very useful didn't feel like an invitation to failure, an imposition on energy, something I probably can't get done before life drags me backwards three steps. When I see the Fabulous Women and I know, they are actually fabulous, it makes me notice what I am, now. Where I am, now. What I can be, now. And I'm not satisfied. The best I can do is not good enough for me. I should be able to step up, and in. Life keeps sending me setbacks like curve balls I really should have seen coming, and I'm not sure I have the disposition for it. When I go somewhere to get inspired by the people who overcame that, I feel tired. Too tired to even admire what they do. 

I am of diminished capacity. I am limited in body and mind in ways that make my spirit lose interest altogether. I may never understand the most fundamental things that everyone else seems to get. And I have no way to help anyone else with anything they are experiencing, because following the disjointed path of my breadcrumbs would try the patience of a saint. It has. And that will likely be the only way to get what I had to give, in the end. It wasn't what I hoped for. 

But maybe today will be different. Maybe today, the inspiration will spark instead of snuff. Maybe today I will walk away with energy I didn't have before. So I go.

Because hope is the only path to peace that feels compelling. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

To weep is not weak



In this fragile state I am often weepy
Tears rise unbidden,
stinging eyes, constricting
breath
I sigh, again to find myself overcome
becoming weak right in the centre
of my strong
I play along with life, all the while
wondering about this feline creature
playing with me.
Weeping, but not weak
Weakened moments a release,
of tension, dissonance, consternation.

I cry, for a moment I cry
(a moment or two)
all the while knowing that I will make it through
back to me
this is not the sum
dying isn't the worst of what's to come
and life always offers consolations
to those who see.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Choosing Mean

Conscience(CAI 2019)

When did it become cool to be unkind?
A merit badge of honour?

When did pushing boundaries become thumbing noses
And personal ambition become winner takes all?

When did people become unapologetically,
unashamedly,
mean?

Each person must choose it every day
to be that way
they have to choose. But
maybe it's not again and again
choice after choice,
but simply one choice, to not care
then hold, hold fast, right there
Pandora's box shut tight.

I imagine how that would feel
to protect, guard this new power
like it represents sanity
like I've finally found the way around all the pain
that others' suffering naturally launches inside
the empathy that resides in our hearts from the start
To have found a pain-killer for the soul.

It must be as addictive as crack.

Imagine! to have discovered a way
to thwart life's inherent poignancy
the pull of destiny that doesn't exist
the contradictory means to survive;
to have someone clear to blame, something empowering to believe
that lets me off the hook, a reprieve
imagine slipping through the grip of guilt
Hoarding all my caring just for me!

I feel exhilaration, freeing all the possibilities previously bound by honour
shifting that honour to me and mine
a lovely switch and bait that feels like freedom
from mommy's nagging whine about what's right

I mean, who's to say? We can't trust the evidence of our eyes
or the people who run our lives
and where is our God or Hero to save the day? Guess what?
we have ourselves to save.

Yes, there's a strength and pride, to come out the other side of caring.

Nice trick if you can.

maybe I should be jealous, or mad
but all I feel is sad.

Mattering


Reversed Emission (CAI)
I suppose it's true
that nothing I do matters
that my words dissipate in the air
all I am is contained in here, this body
and when she stops, who will care
for longer than it takes to order a beer?
All the trying and striving, wonder and worry
all the ways I thought I mattered
barely a line in the sand, whisked by wind
not even a grain remains to say
I was here
(wasn't I?)

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The day I let you down (short poetical)

Breach (CAI2019)
Where was I the day I let you down?
was I looking at the sky or at the ground?
how did I miss the moment?
blithely going my way; floundering, too,
but you, you
you were trying to fly
and I didn't even know
why I was there
you needed my air to go
all I had to do was blow your way
but I spent the day
on nothing at all, and let you fall.




Monday, January 6, 2020

Futures


Futures (CAI 2019)
I see futures. Not all of them, not exactly; or, at least, I see all of them the way you see all the water droplets in the lake, at once, mixed together, as a single thing. But I also see the waves and crests, individuized, and some droplets that escape the splash to hit me in the face like a memory I'll never forget. I see whether I look or not, they intrude on my daily life and distract my attention like flies. Futures like flies, waiting their chance to eat me.

The burden of the futures keeps my head heavy with pressure, my heart heavy with knowing, my self heavy with fear and a poignant attachment to beauty. Finding my lightness requires feats of strength. Keeping my focus requires will mustered from depths that scrape nasty scars on the wall of my stomach, down the length of my nerves, through the pores of my skin.

I breathe in light. I breathe out knowing. I leave it hanging in the air and try to pretend it isn't there.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Tiny paintings


I paint tiny paintings. They keep getting smaller, but then they group, mix and match into something else.

I may be afraid to write.

The paintings flow out of me, so small, so unexpected, so demanding with unique messages I can't read but can't ignore, either. They trace back, they pull me out.

I may feel too weak to balance the who's of who I am,
I tip sideways into expected
practiced
trapped in the way things are
every move a risk of something less satisfying
or at least, potentially uncomfortable, or painful,
or inflicting of pain,
unintended consequences, cruel whip-lashes of having chosen
wrong.

I may be afraid to write.

Words expose my knowing as what it is: complete bewilderment.

I'm a little afraid to try, to start, and find myself alone, abandoned, the story fled from neglect. To stand naked, my gift withdrawn.

I may be afraid to write.

Maybe letting myself know
what I know
will make it impossible to keep
choosing what I choose
though it wears the edges of my soul away
into the tide
so why, again? why choose?

(shall I let go of the wheel?)

I look away from the futures flashing past my vision

Soul cries when I starve her, but when she's fed. she is relentless
and what she says just doesn't jibe with the consensus reality.

Potentials are congealing. We're nearing the end. But what is near, anyway?

And who is we?

And what end is not a beginning of something else?

I reach for breath
I stretch with breath
I wish for breath to keep me home.




Wednesday, October 9, 2019

From the alcove...

.
Writer's Alcove (CAI2019)

Is it still 2019? I have to keep checking. It feels like it's been 2019 for three years and those three years have been compressed into six months. I feel like I got lost in the woods so I started focusing on getting out of the woods, instead of enjoying a nice walk. I think that I'm weary, now, from all the anxious trail blazing.

Before there can be recharge, there needs to be discharge. Empty out the contaminated energy, the parts that no longer serve, all used up.

Empty out.

Now, I go back to life, empty. How will I recharge? Will I let life scrape my dregs?  What will I put in? How will I get what I need to have something to give where I'm needed?

What will I let in, from here, in this fragile time?


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A cry in the dark

Hindsight

The overwhelm hangs heavy
whispers, give up
a salve, an out
but then what? 
after I give over 
stop trying, stop striving?
what is left, when I admit
my stillborn ideas never had a chance?
who will I be, when I am not being
anything at all?


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Plain Words

Fallen on the path (CAI)

We rightly expect plain words
Will bequeath a clean translation
Transform chaos into meaning;
Instead, they lead us on 
until we're falling down the garden path
Mud-caked, crying,
Save me!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Time is the Currency of Capitalism

Make no mistake: money is not the currency of capitalism. The currency of our system is Time.

Our most limited resource, our most valuable.

We spend our time.

When we spend our time on someone else's problems in exchange for pay, we are doing so to buy something.

Security. A place to live. Food to eat. A vacation. Medication. These are the things we need to buy with our time.

Money is just the intermediary, the translating mechanism that allows us to spend time in one place and buy value in another. Spend time working for one company, buy a place to live from a different one.

There is an attitude in business that people are lucky to have jobs, should be grateful to be paid, and because they are paid, should be happy to do whatever is asked of them.

This attitude pretends that money is the currency. It devalues the choice each human must make every day about how we spend our limited and temporary little pool of time in a body on Earth.

There is an approach that says businesses are lucky when talented, capable people are willing to spend their time for what the business is willing to offer. Businesses should be grateful when people spend their time on business goals, foregoing their own relationships, health, interests, and purposes.

This approach, however, is not attractive to people with the power of knowing that they can hold time ransom, that the people who are selling their time are compelled to do so by fear of losing housing, not having food, falling short of participation in society. Why would anyone offer respect when they can prey on fear and wield power to force their way?

Why indeed?



Sunday, August 25, 2019

What is love (baby, don't hurt me)

Burning lungs (CAI2019)


Why don't I love you?
It's not a matter of adherence to expectation
Not based on revelations 
of the particular combinations
your humanity grinds
it's a failure of connection
insecurity from within, expressed out
my own failure
to love what I am.

Why don't you love me?
It's not a matter of deserving
or lack of chemistry
it's not a whim of the universe
or a coincidence of fate
it's a failing of oneness
a limitation of howness
imagination fearfully, carefully redefining
what love means
in the first place.






Friday, July 26, 2019

Anger is Weakness


(Negative Space, CAI)
Don't you know
Anger makes you weak?
He delights to eat at you
crumbling the knowing that lets you hold
your own true feelings to the light;
you don't even notice his manipulation
his chemical machinations
making fight feel like action
flailing like power
a vomit of distortion
exposing what you are
ugliness on display;
this is not a way to be strong.
Anger laughs to take you on
take you over
roll you in his palm
drive through you, make you think
you know your mind
when we all see
a coward
a weakling
a danger unloosed
because you never had the strength to find your way through
to face your own truth
Anger marked you his target
his victim
his rube
you are his whipped horse to ride
settling for shame labeled pride
hiding behind one side of false dichotomy;
unaware and unbecoming
as Anger becomes you.



Thursday, July 25, 2019

Hidden in plain sight


Stealth (CAI2018)
You know, you don't know what you're missing.

I make a tremendous friend
when, inevitably
life intrudes with reality

here is what I bring:

my eyes a pool of respite
my lap a neutral plain
my hands the embodiment of kindness
a place to lay
your worries down
and be, just yourself, with me

but also

I have made my friends
in the Universe
I bring their cleansing sight
a heady blend of truth and might
beyond the scope of mere mortal reckoning

I am a plaything of time and space
a creature of this place
and I can teach you something crucial
about how to be
if you let me
if you want.

but in the end, I guess
you may find that's not the way
and that's okay, too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Writer Block

Exposed (CAI2019)

I hardly dare to write.
That is how dangerous the truth has become;
even I hide my song
even I
run away, after all my promises
despite all my promise
I break Heart again
I say,
make it easier! soften the blow, remove the pain!
and no response forthcoming,
I turn my smile another direction
pretend that I can't see
all the futures, as they jostle and writhe
in my periphery
Rife with demands I don't believe in myself to meet
so I choose just one, a well worn path
for a donkey like me
hoping no one notices I'm built for speed
before I have to run for my life
and hoping by then
that I can.

Alone


Isolation (CAI2019)

Never alone, suddenly
alone
and all the times I've told myself
that alone would be better
I was better at fooling myself than
knowing myself
leaving well enough
alone.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Bearing Wall

Bearing (CAI2019)
He asks me
like it matters
he asks me,
are you ready?
but whatever I answer
he hears what he expects.

this is no small plot
this moment I inhabit
this place, this space standing
under my protection
projection
of my unstable foothold
in the space of time and place
of the place in space
and time
that's mine
though possession has no meaning
in the rhyme of now.

Are you ready?
Like matter
has any bearing at all.

No Blame

Night and Day (CAI2019)

He says, Child, don't you know?
you can't fuck it up.
you don't have the power
How things go, is how they go
how they will be, how they are
functions far beyond
your ham-fisted factors,
your desires, your choices.
Hush and be; hush and know
you are only where you go
the acts of war
enacted through your open doors
when reality requires your inevitable participation;
your execution earns no shame
no blame, except
you know
it does

Raw

Raw (CAI 2019)
To let it go
takes heart
a letter to myself, a decision
made in haste
not in jest but
not quite seriously, either.
I know I cannot meet her
where she is
and she can't reach as far as me in any case
to let it go
takes courage, but it looks an awful lot
like cowardice
like fear
like watching it drift away without reaching
but what if reaching
is the most dangerous thing of all?


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Becoming


Becoming (CAI2014)

While I prefer my states of perfection
I have not yet perfected staying there

Inevitably I will fall,
fail,
thrash,
flail
and when I do
when I do
when I do...

there are those who see through to me
with love and curiosity
their compassion clears my air
lets me find my way back here
to something that feels like peace, a clarity

and

others will see something else
that they recognize, or fear
their aversion and dispersion good reason
to drop me here
leave me alone, to find my shameful way home.

Different lessons, but hopefully
in the end
both make me stronger
make amends with what I am.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Balanced pattern


Night in the Balance (CAI)
What can I say when explanation sounds like excuse?
That I am imperfect?
You must already know
That I am sorry?
so what would that show? it doesn't matter.

The pattern plays out, we play our role
or each other's
the pattern doesn't care; its balance is inherent.
and our balance
doesn't even factor in.



Belonging, again


Wield (flipped and mirrored) (CAI)
Belonging. Again.

This is the one I resist the hardest, the one that my instincts reject. So it just takes longer. It's like my son, fighting with us for 3 hours in circles and wasting the very time he's trying to save.

There is a big part of me willing to choose acceptance over reaching. Accept that this is the best I could do, and sink into the rest of the time I'm here basking in the glow of the space I've created. Not take it on.

But that's an illusion. Reality requires constant upkeep, costs that can't be ignored. Paying for a life consumes a life, leaving only scraps for basking. The work is the life. The life is the work.

I am the mirror, the morph. It takes me on, activates my programming, the parts that are already there, amplified through feedback. The place in the system; it's not you so it's me. Could be him or her. Another moment and it will be. Today it's me. I get this part to play. I don't feel up to it.

I pull in on myself, a bud meeting frost when reaching for the sun.

Belonging is my last lesson. Maybe I'm stretching it out on purpose.

(Listen to Happy Rhodes say everything better than I could ever https://youtu.be/Dn3LOFVH4Ks)


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Sky is Not One Thing

Obscura (CAI)

The sky is not one thing.
We can't look at the blue sky and think, that is the sky, I know it.
We can't look at the grey sky and think, that is the sky, it will always be grey
We can't look at the night sky and think, that is the sky, it is simply black and shines with stars

What we see, of the sky, at any time, remains an illusion of the light
for in fact
there is no sky.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A quick and quiet conversation (#MaverickMissive)


Be Brave (CAI2019)
he doesn't have to tell me that the last and biggest test remains
but he tells me, anyway.

he says:

there's no point looking to the futures, they are shifting too fast to catch
there's no point clinging to the present, it's already changed beneath your feet
scrape the past from you, it clings on like a burr or a barnacle

and I laugh, and ask,
so when can I be?

he smiles sadly
10 seconds from now,  he says, it won't matter anymore.
be brave.


Monday, June 24, 2019

A private argument (#MaverickMissive)

When I complain how he abuses his privilege, he tells me we don't have time for my prevarication.

You delay the inevitable, he says, by playing nice.

and I realize, he's right. There's no time. There's no time.

But you have no right, I tell him, even if you're right, to break me down
and magnify my fear to force the issue

His not-amused amusement wins me over to his side.
What is a right? he winks, In light of Right?
I do what is required. You could be brave instead.

And again, I can't argue the point, though I want to
and again, he stands beside the point I'm making
the right to choose.

he says,
watch, watch the potentials dwindle every day,
waste them away while you wait to find out you're pursuing what you need
in the wrong direction.

You don't know that, I want to say, but I know
he knows more than me.

Anyway, in the end, I'm powerless against him.
But now I know what his promises are worth.

Clumsy balance

A Message about Balance (CAI)
Balance is a matter of shifting the weight from one side to the other.

When we do this smoothly, it feels like holding one space

When we do this clumsily, it feels like stumbling, careening;
crashing down heavily from one side to the other;

a pendulum smashing momentum through our souls in both directions.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Shallow soil


Shallow Soil (CAI)

invitation seen as demand
encouragement felt as pressure
help received as interference
love taken as expectation;
shallow soil offers no rooting
my willing heart retracts
compresses, pulls tightly in
not sure how to beat without offending
and starting not to care.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

As Seen


Obscura (CAI2019)
No one sees me
but I can't complain
I set it up that way, every day, again

because if you see me
if you see what I am
it might demand that you be
what you are

and I have learned
I have learned
I will learn again: that's no way to make friends.

Still, and holding still
I can see you
what you're made of

your being is a call to action
just like mine
shining example reflecting itself
each self, as seen

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Just Me

Nested Real (CAI2019)
An audience of one
is still billions
microbes and cells, celebrating union
oneness, selfness, as me
and what we see
oh, what we see
defies your narrow ideas of reality.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Shine

Blind Beacon (CAI)

Shine

No leader, she
never saying, Follow Me
Just being, right there,
where we can see;

she's an unwitting invitation
blind beacon slowly noticing
her shine

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Pride

my own private rainbow (CAI219)

This being a "pride" weekend reminds me I'm bisexual. It's easy to forget, in this life I'm in. I had a "queer identity" once - I've embraced polyamory and open relationships, I've had sex with women and men and combinations thereof. I never considered myself "straight" until I entered a monogamous marriage with a man 15 years ago. It's interesting, how easy it is to just let everyone put your new identity in place - the middle-class, married lady. How easy it is to forget you ever occupied a marginal place, that your sexuality was part of your personhood and not just something that happened (however satisfyingly) twice a week. To not even notice how you take it for granted that you can just be loving together and everyone accepts it as normal.

Sexuality is not straight-forward (sic). What does it mean to be bisexual, or "demisexual" (as I learn there is a term that's a closer fit), when you're married in a hetero-normative way?

As one drunken acquaintance put it, what's the point of being "bisexual" and marrying a man? You might as well be hetero.

Others have told me I'm actually hetero but was experimenting, or that I'm actually gay and deluding myself. There have been many opinions.

So as I approach this "pride" weekend, I don't know where I fit. If I show up with my husband, do I turn into an ally instead of a community member? Do I still fit in not fitting, when all my outward appearances label me part of the norm?

Does it matter?

I guess it must, if I ask the question.  But should it? I don't know. I mean, where's my pride?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Fortifying Trust

Stripped Bare (CAI2019)
The way things have shifted, trust has been eroded out from under us, to the point where we're told it's a virtue not to trust.

Where trust is punished and breach of trust is rewarded.

Where children fear the derision of being tricked through emotional manipulation by other children, who could only have learned that from adults, the newly-grown children.

Maybe emotional manipulation is an evolutionary choice that some bloodlines are making in how they pass DNA to the next generation; maybe cruelty is a strategy for survival that means the planet wins, since most people will not survive what's coming.

We can't trust each other, and we've built all our systems around this premise, with some people using their power to fortify themselves against what they see as the inevitable future of misery for most people (while blinding themselves to the fact that the misery can't be staved off with money).

They encourage the rest of us to mistrust each other, and to screw each other over and not feel bad about it, using media, games, and financial rewards to attract the worst in young people and exploit their youthful selfishness before they realize why society is built the way it is in the first place. They trick people into accepting less by reducing their access to education and health care, housing and food.

Without the ability to put even basic trust in the people who make decisions for all of us, we flounder around, unable to trust each other or the systems that we have been born into and embroiled with.

Trust is built through shared experience. Maybe we don't have to descend into chaos as they remove all the supports. Maybe there is a way to work from what is falling to build something different, not so vertical, more peace-seeking in nature. Peace-seeking missiles.

But we're all running around scared, clinging to the ideas we used to have, wishing things were different, indulging the freeze of feeling helpless in the face of a powerful desire to act. We know how much it's going to ask, and surely things are not so dire as that, are they? It's not time to give up on our dreams of a peaceful, prosperous life and just fight for basic dignity, for something slightly better than survival. Is it? This isn't the last chance to rally our talents to some purpose. It can't be.

Here we are, at a moment just before, like we've seen before in history, and the people with power are not doing the same things. They are doing worse, faster, with more widespread support and more coordinated, resourced, technologically-enabled deliberation, having learned from their past failures. They are spreading mistrust like seeds to the wind. What to do in the face of that?

It's all nice to say "band together" but it's not like that at all. Mistrust is not something we just decide not to have. We can choose to behave as if we trust, to hold our mistrust at bay like a nervous dog barking at us.

Can we trust ourselves? That is the biggest journey, the hardest because it's hard to do alone and hard to do with other people. Learning to trust our best selves is the on-the-ground work that supports the systemic policy work and the activism and the research that supports it all. It's the parallel process that lets us bring what's needed. Fortifying our understanding of our own hearts, strengths, and burning needs can be like building a strong boat and installing navigation. But how many people take even 20 minutes a day to deeply check in with themselves?

I fear for the futures most probable.



Monday, May 27, 2019

Losing Souls (from Maverick Missives)

Souls Fly (CAI2019)
Every time I let it break my heart
And that’s my part
I know before it happens
I know what probability means
The seams of reality are clear to me.
Why do I buck the trend
Put my money on an end that was never in the cards?
Why do I think this time,
Maybe this time?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Beholder

Beholder (CAI2019)
I have a complicated relationship with beauty. Specifically, the beauty of my face and body. There are some people who seem to be universally beautiful - no one would ever dispute it, everyone notices it, it's just obvious they are beautiful, everywhere they go, whoever they meet. I've always known that's not me. I have a beauty, but it's not that, it's something else.

Somehow, though, I internalized the idea that the other kind is "real" beauty and my beauty is something lesser, in the same way I internalized that being female is the "lesser" luck-of-the-body draw. What's odd is this: I never doubted my beauty or my equality, I just learned that I couldn't expect anyone else to see it how I see it. I came to expect to be treated as second tier. Even so, second tier gets its share of wanted and unwanted attention.

I love my beauty; I make myself shy. At the same time, I find it hard to think anyone else can see it. I feel vulnerable, that I have no choice but to show myself to people every day. I expect them to see what they expect to see, not me, not really me. I both long to be seen, and also, to be completely hidden. Because humans suck. Their judgments are so manufactured and ingrained that a big swath of the population might as well be robots. I don't expect to be seen, so I'd rather be unseen by those who can't see me, anyway. Fly under the radar, don't draw attention to my beauty.

But I can't just settle in, because my beauty has a Quality. I don't know how to name that quality, but it's particular. It only appeals to some people and those people often respond strongly. In this way, it's thrown me off kilter. I get used to not being seen, and then someone sees me, and I drop into shy like I'm looking in a mirror. If I can feel someone notice my beauty, it makes me immediately defensive. I've been surprised too often by a strong sexual advance from someone I didn't realize thought my friendly was flirty, so I pay attention to that flash of notice. I don't want to give a wrong impression. I've learned to be very careful, and to stay stealthy. My beauty is like a landmine that might go off and wreck what I think is an interesting relationship, or it might attract unwanted attention from strangers. It might get me stalked. I've always treated it as something dangerous because sometimes it has been.

I increasingly push my beauty to stand on its own, be in the world, and only shine for people who can see it. No make-up, just my skin, standing the test of time as best it can. Wash-and-go hair, wild in a way I never could have allowed in my 30's. I let the weight sit on my middle, not happy it's there, annoyed by the inconvenience, but not willing to engage the level of discipline it requires to keep it somewhat lighter. Am I still beautiful, now? How many people drop off from noticing me when I wear baggy clothes and let my roots grow out? As I age, and don't hide my skin? Who still sees me? Who didn't see me before but now can see me, with myself showing more? I've never been less like my internalized idea of beauty, and yet I love how I look, when I catch it, which isn't too often. I like to see me.

Once a lover said, "I wish you could see yourself how I see you" and so I looked into her mind and I saw myself through her eyes. So different from how I saw myself, a distorted lens but lovely. Now I feel that, all of that, when I look at myself. A gift. One of many. When I let myself feel how others love me, distorted as it may be, I expand my own lens, refocus what beauty means, expand the meaning and embrace what I am, trying not to mourn what I'm not; trying not to tarnish my enjoyment with wishful shaming. Eventually, over time. I get beyond accepting myself reluctantly while working to be better. Through deliberate imagination and determined discomfort, I love who I am now. I continue to spin that in the direction that pulls me. Hardly anyone can see me at all, but those who do, they've got my attention. Like a secret handshake. 

The beauty of me is more than what I look like, and I don't separate those things anymore. It takes real work to get this far, and I don't like to look too closely at how much further I could go. It's not a light switch that comes on once you understand the concept. It's not a linear progression.

I love my beauty. I am working to not be so shy about it.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Clumsy with time (a Maverick Missive)

The one safe place (CAI 2019)

He says,
baby
don't run from me because I'm clumsy

I hear the thunder, too
I will hold you
safe as me

you breathe
I breathe

move slowly, carefully
but waste no time


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What's chosen (a potentially controversial post)


I've never had an abortion. That's just luck. I never needed one. I have thought a great deal about what I would do, on sweat-soaked sheets unable to sleep for worry because I was a day late. I have thought about what I would do and I think I know, but I don't know. Neither do you. No one can know unless they are in the situation.

For my whole life I thought that I would not. That I would be interested enough in who might come out of my body that I would do what it took to make it work, but do my best to make sure that it never happened. Still, too many times to count, when I was waiting, hoping not to see the second bar, all I could think was: End it now, before it grows. Get it out.

A baby is a parasite. I can say this, because I have grown and birthed two of them from my body. Pregnancy is a highly traumatic event for a body, over a long period of time, that changes your physiology, sometimes forever. The longer it goes, the more damage it does. At first it makes you sick to your stomach, light-headed, fuzzy, irritable, bloated. That's before there's anything that anyone would recognize as a baby, but it could be enough to get you fired. That's when you're begging for this tiny glob to take shape as the seed of a human, when you want the pregnancy. That's the tiny little group of cells that you love love love into, hoping for that big head, spinal cord tail, to show up on as early an ultrasound as your doctor will let you have. When you want the pregnancy.

We have separated abortion and motherhood, but they are the same conversation. Motherhood is a choice. When we make that choice, as women, whether under duress of "didn't expect this now" or the excitement of "I want to be a mom right now!"; when we make the choice, the first thing that we have to do is agree to a significant sacrifice. We choose to allow our bodies to be used as an incubation factory for another life. The only bodies we get to live in, for our one and only life on Earth. If we don't want to do that, we are not ready for Motherhood. That only stands to reason, because Motherhood will ask so much more than just our bodies.

We choose to allow our bodies to be abused, stretched, examined, poked, thrown off-kilter, our brains inundated with chemicals designed to cloud our judgement. We choose to allow our skin to stretch into shapes it will never recover from, our hips to be pushed wide so our backs will never sit right again. We agree to pain and difficulty navigating daily life, prejudice in our workplaces, not fitting into our own clothes or skin. We agree, even, to the birthing process. No one has invented a process to remove a new human from another human's body without pain and difficulty for the body carrying the new human. We get cut open, ripped open, or stretched past capacity, and many of us will never have sex the same way again, never pee the same way again, never enjoy life like we did before we consented to this sacrifice.

Motherhood must be chosen to be consensual. Sex is not consent for motherhood.

Every child deserves to be wanted. Would you choose the life that many children will certainly be born into, through women who felt they had no choice but to seek an abortion, but were denied? I want my mother to be looking forward to me, not dreading me. I want my mother to step into the role of mother, not step out with mental health, depression, addiction. I want to be wanted. We all do.

Every woman who wants to deserves to feel the joy of expectation, even if mixed with trepidation, with a pregnancy chosen; with Motherhood, chosen. That is the sacred bond. Sex is not consent for Motherhood. Sex is no more or less sex for women than for men. Pregnancy is a consequence borne solely by women, and pregnancy does not have to mean motherhood.

Did you know, that when you have a miscarriage, they call your much-desired, already-loved baby a "product of conception"? I know that. Do you know how I know? Guess. When a pregnancy is wanted and lost, they call it a "Product of Conception" or even just a "Pregnancy." Like it was nothing. But when a pregnancy is unwanted, they call it a "baby" and try to guilt you into making the kind of choice that no one should be forced to make if there are alternatives. Which there are.

Like you, I have a limited life in a body. I am a full fledged human and I demand consent over any time any person is inside my body for any reason. I am the owner of this body, it's the only one I get to live in, and I have as much right as any man to say that I don't choose motherhood right now, so I am not going to let this pregnancy continue.

If every early pregnancy is a baby, then so is every sperm. Men don't get to treat me like a machine, an incubator, just because they didn't protect themselves, or me, for that matter, during sex. When does the glom of cells become a baby? I don't know. I honestly don't. I wanted my pregnancies, so I always thought about the baby at the end when I was gestating whatever stage that end-baby was at. But I know that if I hadn't wanted the pregnancy, I would have felt very differently. I can't predict how.

When does the glom of cells become conscious and aware of feeling? Medical science does seem to have some information about that - nerves, brain function. When abortion access is not restricted, most abortions for unwanted pregnancies come before that point. Since pregnancy is very hard on the body from the start, and only gets worse as the pregnancy continues, most women would not prolong the decision. Most abortions that happen after the first trimester are for wanted pregnancies that must be discontinued because of medical issues with the pregnancy or fetus. Personally, myself, I feel comfortable with pregnancies ending in both those situations. Beyond that, maybe I, personally, would feel uncomfortable to make that choice. But it's not my situation, it's not my perception, it's not my body, it's not my life, and it's not my choice. So, unless it is, I feel strongly we need to leave that choice to the people in the unfortunate position of having to make it for themselves.

I claim this as my basic, human right to life: I get to pick how my body is used. I choose how I handle whatever happens to me after I have sex. I get to pick whether my body is going to be fundamentally changed. Me. Not you. Not them. Not him, or him, or him, or her, or him or him or him. Me. My body. Me. You would want nothing less for yourself.

If we want less abortion, we need to make birth control widely available in choices women want and men are willing to use. We need to provide early and regular education about consent and sexuality, honest and clear. We need to provide women with enough community support to leave abusive situations, say no to sex they don't want, and keep their bodies safe. We need to provide support to men to learn about responsibility, valuing women and our bodies, condom use, consent, and a host of emotional intelligence skills. We need to make sure the kids who are born have enough to eat and smaller class sizes and stable homes that lead to stable citizenhood, health care when they need it. That's what we need to pay attention to. There are already more people here than we as a society are willing to care for. Let's focus on that.

The abortion debate is about the personhood of women, and whether our personhood is less than that of men. Men would never allow a pregnancy to continue in their body if they didn't commit to wanting the baby. They only expect it of us because we are women, and it is a way to control us. The men making these decisions fear that they don't own the birthing process, and they want to control it, despite the fact that doing so requires enslaving my body to that purpose.

My body is female. My self is a person. A human. Full-on equal, brothers. I give consent to share my body. You don't get to decide if I submit my body to sex, or to a pregnancy. You don't get to say. That's equality of personhood.

Men take their own bodily autonomy for granted, yet somehow think it's fine to question ours. If you won't stand for my right to bodily autonomy, try to understand why mine is less important than yours.

Someone else's pregnancy is no one else's business.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sing a song (failure immaturity)


The Searing Beauty of Failing (CAI2019)
Singing may be the most difficult thing I’ve let myself do.

I’m mostly a coward, afraid of the searing pain of failure. For me, failure is like getting a tattoo. Just like it. You want the outcome, but that doesn’t change the experience of the pain. I only ever got one tattoo. Failure, I’ve tried on many times. I know I have to risk it, again and again, because I’m too stubborn or stupid to even know what I’m trying to learn by following my nose. And because I want success, whatever that means when I’m trying. 

When I think of success I tend to think it means earning enough at a comfortable pace, enjoying this life more hours and days than I don’t, developing myself joyfully through creation and exploration. Deepening with the humility and compassion failure has taught me; chastened, maybe, by the caution. Mitigated by my ever-sharpening empathy. Success, for me, would be a combination of having the life I want, and supporting systemic and individual change that lets other people have the lives they want, so I can enjoy mine in peace, sharing the world.

I’m good at a lot of things, so it’s been easy for me to avoid the things I’m not good at. I just fill my time and days with things I am good at, or love doing enough that concepts of “good” and “not good” don’t hold sway. Time slipped, and after awhile I found I never really had to test my weak muscles, since my strong muscles lifted all the loads I asked. I have artificially inflated my success by simply pushing only in successful directions. Therefore, I remained immature at failure.

Luckily I’ve used the last ten years to remedy that, trying and falling short of whatever definition of success I had, often enough that I started to believe that failure is the natural consequence of attempt.

Given the opportunity this year, I’ve succumbed to the temptation of running back into my comfort space, to focus all my time and attention where I feel I can succeed, on other people’s problems rather than something too close to skin. I’ve been doing that for months. In many ways it’s been a sweet relief, not to strive, to know how to tackle a problem and then just tackle it, maybe even doing some good. To feel competent, useful.  But my restless soul holds me to account for the things left untried, which matter so much I become truly terrified to fail. Yet I fail anyway, by not engaging them, by staying safe in what I know I can do well, walking the clear path to security. And isn’t that happy pace my goal of success, after all?

If I’m honest, that’s not all there is. That success I described, the comfortable pace and joyous exploration and support of peace - those pieces are important. They are the goal, but not without the Other Thing. The Thing I’m Meant to Do. Which feels ridiculous to say, arrogance and wishful thinking all rolled together into platitude.

The Thing I’m Meant to Do requires me to risk the searing pain of failure, to sit in the chair for it, to ask that it be embedded into my body and mark me forever. I don’t feel ready to take that risk.

So I’ve decided to try to learn to sing.

I can’t hear my own voice. It’s hard to explain, but it’s always been this way for me. I can hear that my voice makes a sound, but I can’t tell what I sound like, what key or pitch or whatever is coming out of my mouth. I have worked very hard my whole life, since I was a very small child, to learn to modulate my speaking into tones people expect and want to hear, appropriate to a situation. I know what it feels like in my chest, throat, tongue, nose, eyes, lips. But I can’t tell what it sounds like. So I don’t know what other people are hearing, I just gauge from their reaction. And that’s talking. Singing is a whole other ballgame.

If talking is like swimming, singing is like diving. You need control, but you also need to open up, let gravity take you, trust your body and muscle memory in a kind of freefall that has little to do with thinking but is based on real learning. My wild voice has no training, to control, and I don’t know how to get her to emit the sounds in my mind into the real world. Nor can I tell if she’s done so, not really. I gauge by feel, in my chest, throat, tongue, nose, eyes, lips. But I don’t know for sure what’s coming out, whether it’s as expected, on key, whether it’s beautiful or painful to the ear of the beholder.

It’s embarrassing to get it so wrong, even when I’m the only one around, even when it’s just a recorder and a deleted file that hears me. Embarrassment is repulsive to me, even though I desperately want to be one of those people who let the water run off their back. I have a crazy-rigid standard for singing that only a few people in the world have met to my ear’s satisfaction, and anything short of that feels embarrassing to me.

Which is unbalanced, of course. If I applied a standard of perfection to everything I do I would fail. I wouldn’t paint, or take nature photos, or parent, if I held myself to the standards of those I admire most, and I would always feel like I was falling short. I don’t do that in other parts of my life. So why is singing different?

I’m not sure yet, but it is.

I do laugh at myself, mostly, and I’ve been enjoying learning what it is to have breath and stamina, finding where my voice comes from in my body when I try to sing along with a Goddess. I feel like I’m breaking through something important. And, also, it’s incredibly daunting, and I wonder if I will ever find the strength and trust to sing for real as if no one is listening. To not care that I don’t get it right, and be satisfied with the progress that’s possible for me.

But if not, this failure feels manageable. If I can keep with it, move through it, maybe I can build my muscles and maturity enough to stop sabotaging myself through neglect of What I’m Meant to Do. And there’s that little chance, that feeling that if I actually succeed in bringing myself to sing, openly and without fear, that maybe not all attempt at overcoming weakness is doomed to failure, after all - so maybe, just maybe, the attempt that matters can succeed.

When the mountain is high, maybe some climbing training is in order. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Not Choosing Sides

Choosing Sides (CAI2019)
It comes to a point of choosing sides.

If you believe, as many do, that the Earth is headed for a major meltdown regardless, you decide how to act.


  • You can choose to do everything in your power to fight the inevitable, stave it off.
  • You can choose to do everything in your power to make what's happening less terrible for everyone and reduce the overall damage.
  • You can choose to do everything in your power to save you and yours.


Humans are simple creatures, in the end. We will always act to save us and ours, first and foremost. It's our doom.

There are those that are accumulating control over all the world's resources within the systems everyone seems to agree to play under. There are those who will suffer and die early deaths because they lack access to even the basic resources to live. And there's the giant bell of the curve, the rest of us, who are being forced to choose between one or the other. We either pursue capitalism, unabashedly using the rules to make our own way as clear as possible in the giant mess of the world, or we fight against it, asking for more in increasingly desperate ways as the cuts and demands of our World Owners come ever closer to our own skin.

Increasingly, it seems, there is nowhere to be in the middle. Like two side consolidating over an invisible line a mile wide, we are being forced to flee one way or the other, to the illusory and temporary safety of a trench. Either we're in the Rich trench, or the Poor trench. If we choose to, even mildly and politely, fight against the current state of capitalism, currently being unabashedly exploited for the benefit of the Rich, we are not worthy of being part of the Rich. We will end up among the Poor, the story tells us, and so we must not stand against the wrongs we see. We risk ruining our potential to be pulled in as the Rich pull in on themselves and hoard the wealth of a world. The only world for miles around - so many miles of space we haven't definitively found another.

It's a time of choice. I spent my best adult years building the life that capitalism made for me, the step up generation of more education, the potential to eliminate Want, Fear, and Insecurity from the daily experience of our family line's DNA. I have a strong mind and will, and that bent very well to the needs of people working with various levels of Power in service to Rich People. I learned so much, and I enjoyed quite a lot of it. I didn't question about sides. I was making my way through the capitalist game as best I could with what I had and the experiences I could get. I figured everyone else was doing the same, so if I got ahead, that must be my doing. It must be because of how hard I work (I worked hard), how smart I am (I am smart), how well I interpreted the systems around me (I am an exceptional systems thinker). And it was, it was those things. And also, that I had the ability to get an education. And also, that I was a polished, articulate, attractive, young, white, person. And also that I happened to ask the right question at a specific time, or someone was looking out for me that I didn't know about for reasons I will never know. And a million other factors, not the least of which is the exploitation of people all over the world to make clothes cheaply enough that I can afford to buy them on what I'm able to earn in the system I'm engaged in. I was dealt a hand, like every person is born dealt, and I worked with that hand as best I could, working with the luck I got. My hand was better than a lot of people, and worse than some. I am stronger and more determined than most people, but lazy compared to some. This is life for every person. What hand are you dealt, and what can you do with it?

Do is a funny word, because what does it mean? Does it imply that we need to play to win, to end up among the Rich when the walls go up and the prison industrial complex takes to the streets? Does it imply that we use our life to resist what feels inevitable, to the risk of giving up on the good life of peace that we envisioned for ourselves, and that we extend that risk to our children, our families, our friends, our employers?

This is a time when we see people choosing, all around us, choosing a side, and sticking to it, plugging their ears against the case of the other, then shouting with anger or derision that the opposite is true. This is a time when those of us who just want to live a peaceful life of creation feel torn, pushed, forced to participate in a war we didn't want to see happening, to flee to one trench or the other, fight the oppressor or fight for ourselves by joining them.

Walking a middle path is hard. We can't do it alone, but it's so hard to band together when our interests and what pulls us feel separated by so many different factors.

I don't know my path. I don't know where I end up, or the cost of the choices I will have in front of me in my lifetime. I don't know the extent of my strength of purpose or character or will. I am holding fast to a notion that peaceful coexistence is possible, because in that case, there are no sides, there is just the pursuit of peace. If enough of us believe that, that there are no sides, there is only the pursuit of peace, then maybe that can become the consensus view of reality. Maybe we can start acting like that's possible, and deciding big decisions based on that. Maybe. Right?

I mean, maybe.