Latest Posts

Our Illusive Borders

I’m finding myself thinking a lot about borders these days: Who crosses them, who gets erased by them, what they sacrifice to escape, what they leave behind. One day I’m watching images of young children who have traveled thousands of miles without parents to reach the US border and the next day I listen to news reports of Israel raining down bombs on Palestinian people in Gaza. I witness from a safe distance protected by my borders: my US nationality accessorized by a passport that I use for play and self-discovery. I walk through the world with the illusion of safety, a privilege that often feels like a bullet-proof plexiglass covered window out to the world. The image beyond the glass a dull picture of people and places whose struggles I will never fully know and only understand via the strategically biased POV of US news media.

US-Mexico_Border

Then there are the borders within this country that get redrawn, divided, erased. In Chicago whole communities eliminated, displaced, and resettled in ways that breed quick and acute conflict. In southern states, whiteness floundering and desperately asserting its dominance with reckless gun laws, as it sinks under the rapid browning of America. Everywhere Trans people are killed and often must fear for their safety just walking down the street because they dare to traverse the borders of strict gender binaries that confine us all in roles we are aggressively conditioned to assume. So many different lines drawn around us, borderlands defined by bodily integrity, housing rights, gun violence, and the criminal justice system, which is constantly redrawing its borders to keep black and brown people trapped within its confines.

I want us all to feel safe across borderlands. I don’t want to constantly feel like my right to live must rest on the trampled broken backs of other people. I’d like to know for a fact that somewhere, someone isn’t paying the price for laws meant to appease me and products meant to pacify me. But where do we begin? I’m not quite sure but I have to believe that we can imagine our way into another way of being with each other across borders, with interconnection, and humanity, and maybe even love.

 

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My Writing Process Blog Tour

Nina Angela Mercer, a woman who ever inspires me, invited me to join her on this blog tour and the timing could not have been more perfect. At the start of June I committed myself to revitalizing this here blog page and after three posts I found myself running out of steam. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on where I am in my writing practice. Thanks, Nina. You can check out Nina’s blog here: http://windowsdoorsclosetsanddrawers.blogspot.com/

 

Here’s how the blog tour works. Each writer answers 4 questions about the writing process and then passes the baton to two more writers who follow-up a week later.

 

What are you working on?

I’m writing a new performance work called Who Taught You How to Love? It’s the first show that I’ve written in a number of years. It’s written mostly in poetry, which for me is a return to my roots. I began my writing journey as a poet 16 years ago, and with this new project I find myself telling stories in my native tongue again. When completed it my hope is the work will be a fully immersive experience. I’ve been thinking a lot about creating a “Love Carnival”. When people walk into the performance space what are the ways I can get them to think about their relationship to one of the most over used, variably defined, and yet vitally generative concepts in the human experience. Next, week I head to The University of Wisconsin-Madison to perform and teach at the Hip Hop in the Heartland Institute. I’m eager to test out this new work and see what if feels like to share with an audience.

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How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

That’s an interesting question. And I’m not totally sure I know how to answer it. I think more often I find myself seeking alignment; searching for my literary and artistic tribe; claiming a lineage that I can ground myself in. My writing often begins with personal revelations. Which I don’t think sets me apart at all. I know lots of writers who write to understand themselves and the world around them. I often find myself revealing what feels most uncomfortable, most turbulent as a way to make peace, find the beauty, the possibility for change.

 

Why do you write what you do?

When I think about the plays that written and also the literary non-fiction work it’s always been ritual of release. Sometimes a story sits so heavily upon my chest that I have not choice but to write it down.  It’s the only way I can breathe.  But the telling is not just to free myself. If that were the case I could just go to my journal and write.  No, there is a question at the heart of that story that demands that I enter shared space and weave a dialogue with others. It’s like Spirit says, you need to create a container for this conversation to happen and that’s when its time to write.

 

How does your writing process work?

It works when I get out of the way. I love to create organization and structure in my life. I love to set goals and benchmarks and often I will do this when I begin writing a new piece and then nothing works the way I want it to. I had a totally different idea about what I would be writing this year. I had even told people about the piece before I had begun to write it, certain that it would come. And then life happened spinning me around, sending me in new creative directions, demanding that I give my attention to a new question: who taught you how to love? Ok, let’s do this. Let’s create the container and the space for this to unfold. The minute I stop planning I can start writing.

 

Two of my dearest friends and sister writers will join the blog tour next week.

Jennifer Cendana Armas www.junipersupadupa.com

Chiara Atoyebi www.visionfromtheroots.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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How Will You Greet Opposition Today?

 

I appreciate our time together and this week’s date was no exception. As I was sharing some of the challenges that I faced communicating with members of my team at work she told me about a Deepak Chopra quote that she came across during her day: “Don’t meet opposition with opposition. Meet it with compassion and openness. Let go and then spirit will give you the answer that you need.” I’m paraphrasing but that’s what I typed into my iPhone notes later that evening as I rode the train home.

 

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How often am I meeting resistance and opposition in my relationships with the deafening force of my own urgent need to be heard, be right, or be the victor? And what happens to relationship as a result of my need to push rather than allow space for something new to emerge? That evening on the 3 train, I decided to make a commitment to softening and opening my heart when faced with opposition in my relationships.  I have no idea what is going to emerge but the old ways of being just aren’t cutting it any more so its time to create new practices.

 

Just in time for Mercury to hit reverse and send communication into chaos, here are four practices for meeting opposition with compassion:

 

  1. Engage Conflict with Breath and Curosity: Yes, it’s uncomfortable and can trigger a whole heap of emotions you’d rather not experience but if you enter the tension in your relationships with others with compassion,  patience, and curiosity it can lead to amazing revelations that will deepen relationship and help you to understand yourself better.

 

  1. Write your inner dialogue: when preparing yourself for any conversation that feels hard to enter into. Write it down. What’s your greatest fear about how that conversation will go? Put it down on paper. Writing it down takes some of the sting out of it. Also, writing it down gives you an opportunity to consider the impact of your words and how to enter the conversation in a way that opens dialogue and connection rather than shuts it down.

 

  1. Who was I being today: It’s the end of the day and your heading to bed. Take a moment to ask yourself the question: Who was I being today? Were you in alignment with your values? Did you act the way you intended in that meeting, conversation with your lover, or child? Who were you being and who do you want to be tomorrow? Go to sleep having made peace with what was and set a clear intention for how you will show up tomorrow.

 

  1. And this last one is a spin off directly from the Buddha: Before you speak ask your self three questions: Is it true, is it necessary, and is it kind? While it think its important to be kind, I know that as we work to create a world that is more equitable for all, sometimes the fierceness of truth is needed to break open justice. So if you can’t be kind, remember to ask instead, what will my words create? And make sure that you are using the power language to generate peace, healing, and possibility.

 

I hope that you will join me in practicing a new way of greeting opposition when it arrives at your door.  Please comment and share your journey. I look forward to hearing what revelations emerge for you. So lets get to practice!

 

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