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Creativity is Essential

ExpressiveArtsIrelandThis morning I was feeling in my body the absence of creative projects that integrate my activism, anger, passion and imagination into creative outlets. I want theater, street art, creative video/photo/journalism projects, “meetings” where we don’t just talk but we enact and play with this BS in embodied ways, imagining creative solutions forward in non-linear ways. I need more fun and creativity in the movement.

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May I Be a Worthy Servant

This past year I have written more online. I have used social media to ask the questions my heart ponders or frets over, share the news that crosses my path, and to articulate the ways I make meaning of the world around me. The responses from people reading my words have helped me see more clearly some of the ways I embody elements that Chani Nicholas speaks to in the Virgo call to service below. I am honored to be alive in this way and to show up and serve. Thank you for being on this journey with me. I always welcome feedback about ways I do below that are helpful/effective or not. May we amaze ourselves in the days to come as we recreate ourselves…

“You are our beloved nerd. Our expert. Our sincere seeker of the facts. The one who will ask the right questions. The one who can separate the truth from the rest of the information. You are discerning, unfazed by pomp and circumstance. You seek to understand the systems of nature we live within, looking for the beautiful, naturally occurring alchemy that uses every aspect of creation to recreate itself. You know nature’s efficiency. You know how to value the clean machine that is our earth. You know how to value the wisdom of the body. You teach us all manner of natural remedies. You know how to locate and remove what is unnecessary, toxic or ill-fitting. You know what is wrong with a thing because you know how to think critically about it and everything else.

This year we will need your compassionate critique. We will need your analysis. We will need your natural talent to deconstruct the ill-formed theories that have no place in a fair and just world. You are no fool and this year will have no shortage of foolish ideas. Bless us with your ability to cut them down to size with nothing but logic.

We need you to remind us that success isn’t about the applause we receive but about the quality of work we are able to produce in service of something greater than ourselves. You work for the sake of the work. You know what it is to be humble. To be wrong. To be worried about getting it done well. Help us to be thoughtful, concerned, hard-working citizens. Help us to remember that we will make mistakes so we might as well become dedicated students to the wisdom we most wish to embody.

In exchange, we will calm you when you feel like you need to fix everything. This situation is beyond broken. It is not your responsibility alone to figure out the whole mess. The future needs us all.”

 

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From My Perspective…

From my perspective…

BubblesThe majority of us live in bubbles.

We mostly connect with people who are like us. Our contact with folks who are different primarily comes through media — television, movies, books, social media — or through interactions that revolve around commerce — at a store, restaurant, service station. There are a few anomalies within our bubbles, but mostly we gather with people like us. We’ve been living in this way since we were born. Some of us have expanded or diversified our bubbles and others hop between different bubbles.

Most of us hold preconceived ideas about what folks who live in different bubbles are like. We develop these ideas from the personal experiences we have with people who are different. Our ideas of others are also shaped by what we’ve been taught by our parents, in schools, through the media and from our peers. These preconceived ideas can become dangerous and lead to stereotypes, discrimination, hatred, and ultimately violence. On top of all of that, people in some bubbles are granted access to things that people in other bubbles are denied, such as healthcare, healthy food, jobs, housing, quality education, etc.

I think that there are many people who are living so deeply inside our own bubbles, intentionally or unintentionally, that we are missing a lot of what is happening at this time in history. We are blind to life in other bubbles. We can’t see the ways we are affecting each other. And the bigger picture is absent to us. There are also plenty who straight-up hate people in other bubbles. This intentional and accidental ignorance keeps us from working towards a future that is good for all of us. I believe it is fueling a divisiveness that is present and growing.

politicsMeanwhile… from a systemic perspective… there are individuals with the power to make decisions that impact the lives of the masses (most of the bubbles). As I understand it, in the United States, we have a government system that says, ‘the people’ can influence those decisions by electing leadership and providing input to how the elected officials govern.

I believe that if our system worked well, we would live in a country where ALL the people living on and contributing to this land and its people would be treated with dignity and respect. We would have leadership that represented our most shared values. Everyone would be able to live as their authentic self, free to contribute their gifts and be fairly rewarded for their contributions. Everyone would be able to express their love and culture with pride. And when there is conflict or violence in the system, we would be able to address it in just and humane ways.

I don’t believe our system works well, and yet I am still living under its dominance. Therefore, I believe in voting and in doing everything I can to influence the leadership that has the ability to make decisions that impact the masses. I want for our country’s leadership to be as intelligent, compassionate, honest, and just as possible. I want for that leadership to genuinely strive to serve all of the people living on and contributing to this land and its people, not just a select few.

I am currently deeply troubled by our governing systems and especially alert to the political climate we are in right now. I pray that the kind-hearted, compassionate and courageous people (the masses from many different bubbles) will find the collective strength to influence the decisions that influence our lives. This includes the lives of people that are inside our own bubbles and people in other bubbles. From the long view, I believe that it will be the compassion and actions of these good people that will shift the political climate and demand movement towards a system or systems that work better for all, towards leadership that leads effectively and compassionately.

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 12.59.59 AM

Given all this, I attended a Trump rally on September 12th in Asheville, NC in efforts to better understand the folks that feel that Trump would make a good president of this country. I also wanted to feel the tone of his rally’s now, beyond clips and soundbites. I watched a full rally during the primaries in March and was extremely alarmed by what I saw. In the 6 months since then, I perceive that there has been an escalation of violence and hatred felt by many across the country. The divides between people are growing extreme. And I believe that Trump and his rallies have contributed to this escalation.

People asked me to share about my experience at the rally. I’m not accustomed to political commentary. I didn’t imagine it was going to be so hard to write or that I’d need to use so many words!

My perceptions of the rally sit within the context of all these other beliefs I’ve just shared. I can only see through my bubble, wrapped in the filters of my identity and all the lenses I wear, some consciously and many unconsciously.

Here are a few components of my bubble that feel relevant to how I perceived this rally:

  • Me-Me-Me-1-ssvq0pI come from, grew up in, and live in a middle class household. I was raised by two working parents in a divorced home. During my childhood, we didn’t live luxuriously, but our basic needs were more than taken care of. We had money for leisure. At college age, some of my family experienced financial wealth. People close to me have and currently do live in poverty, but I have never had that experience myself.
  • I have been fortunate in my ability to find work since I was 15 years old. People who live in bubbles similar to mine, hired me and gave me opportunities. I have also been able to take professional and entrepreneurial risks because I had financial support from family. Access to generational wealth and connections have provided me with opportunities.
  • I am White. I come from 2 generations of White family members on both sides who have been able to access quality education, take out loans to buy homes, cars and businesses. They have been able to purchase houses in the neighborhoods they want to live in (I think*). While all of these folks faced obstacles, as a whole, if they worked hard they were able to achieve their dreams and/or some prosperity. Many of these opportunities that my family experienced, Southerners with White skin, were privileges not available to others whose family members have also been in the United states for 2 generations, but whose skin is Black or Brown. *It is possible my grandparents experienced religious discrimination that I am not aware of.
  • I am Jewish. Since childhood, I felt culturally Jewish more than religiously Jewish. Woven into my cultural identity is a sense of responsibility to work towards making the world a better place and to do so by questioning the way things are, and fiercely standing up for truth and justice. I was taught to root for the underdog, stand up for those that are being mistreated, and don’t turn away when I see people doing horrible things to themselves or others. I feel these attributes are sourced in my Jewish roots.
  • I am disillusioned by our government. I do not understand our government structures and how dishonest, corrupt and ineffective they are in serving the people. 
    I would prefer that we strip the system down and start over as I can’t see a legitimate way out of the mess we are currently in, using a system that is rooted in so much systemic and structural bias, discrimination, and ineffectiveness.

SeeTheWorld

What are the lenses you wear or bubbles you live in that influence how you perceive this political climate, this election season, the presidential candidates, the potential impact of their policies and their respective followers? What will influence how you read my words?

 

My experience of the rally

To begin with, I must note that I felt safe wearing my White skin to the Trump Rally. When I was discerning whether or not to attend, I spoke to a handful of friends of Color who said that they wished they could go for similar reasons. However, they did not feel safe going with their Black or Brown skin. I knew that I could blend in and potentially avoid conflict thanks to my Whiteness. My friends did not have the same disguise and feared for their own safety if they attended this rally. This is the climate that has been cultivated around Trump. This is precisely the climate that I fear intensifying if he becomes president.

As a whole, very little surprised me. The room was packed with 6000 or so, predominantly White, of varying ages, people. The tone was definitely a rally — from the stage, lots of energy was put into stirring people up and not too much was substantially said. Trump’s comments were rather straightforward and polished compared to what I’ve experienced in the past. It definitely felt like he is trying to speak to people in the middle now, no longer stirring up his base with extreme statements, but softening, offering a more mild and compassionate story with the tone of, we got this together and I can lead us ALL there. The crowd broke into chant at the expected moments, he mentions the US and the room erupts chanting USA. Mentions Mexico and “Build the Wall” fills the room. Trump asks, “Who’s going to build it?” and the room yells “MEXICO” and goes wild. Mentions Hillary’s name and people shout a litany of sexist comments and swear words. When a protester is escorted out, they heckle with derogatory slurs. Trump pauses for the spectacles and makes comments about what bad people Hillary the protesters are and the good people that he and his supporters are.

While Trump’s words were not as piercingly discriminatory this time, his crowd was a different story. There was definitely hate palpable in the room. While I didn’t perceive directly any physical violence around me, it was very clear that the energy in the room was hot and I am certain that if the right provocation happened, if Trump had made more extreme comments, or someone around me had spoken descent, many folks in the room were ready to let that aggression out. The clips you see from media all happened here too (including a violent assault by a Trump supporter towards 3 protesters inside the rally and a  Trump supporter who supposedly punched a 69 year old protester on oxygen outside the rally. Both of these I did not see personally, but have since seen video and news accounts of).

jobsgraphic

There was also another group of people. These are the ones who touched my heart in the most empathic ways. I felt that there were a lot of working class people who are genuinely scared about the lack of jobs that they and their children have access to. They are worried about their future and looking for hope. Every time that Trump made a promise that “I will create jobs for you”, I felt a genuine cheer of relief and gratitude from the crowd, a desperate, we need this. It felt like Trump was representing this father-protector persona with his many ways of saying “I will take care of you and protect you.” He repeated many times about how he cares about people and will take care of them. On an energetic level, it felt to me like a room full of all ages and all genders, collapsing in his arms, giving him their worry, fear, and turning over a trust that “He will make this all better for us and our children.” I felt sighs of relief expressed in wild cheers when he addressed the room as “Hard working American patriots.” A sense of yes, this is us! I perceived it as people saying, “He sees us and recognizes how hard we are actually working. He will make life better and less hard for us.” One way he addressed the young people present was, “Your parents are trying to work hard to save your country and make it better for you.” My sadness, however, is that I do not feel him genuinely making these promises to ALL Americans.

It is possible that he will create opportunities for this White, homogeneous group. For those inside that bubble who are unable or unwilling to empathize with folks in different bubbles who are Latin American, Latinos, Muslim American or Muslims, I can understand voting for him. Trump could make their world better and they don’t feel a responsibility to people in different bubbles. And yes, Trump might provide those folks with a sense of safety and security, and since they only care about the well-being of people in their own bubble, they may not be concerned with the lives of innocent people such as the family members of terrorists who Trump says he will have killed or using illegal torture techniques with his expanded and modernized military.

So as far as Trump’s supporters and the tone of the rally… I felt hate and violence in the room and I felt fear, desperation, and hope in the room. I also felt a lot of people whose presence was pretty neutral. I didn’t feel much life or passion from them in any direction.

Some of the core things I heard Trump speak to were:

    • Insulting Hillary Clinton prolifically, saying that she is a corrupt politician, all she cares about is representing people with money, and she’s running a hate campaign filled with bigotry, no policy and no solutions.
    • Building up people’s egos by telling them how smart and accomplished they are, “Anyone in here xenophobic? I didn’t think so. You are lawyers, doctors, teachers. You all were at the top of your class, the smartest in your class. You are everyone. And above all you are Americans.”
    • Assuring people that he loves them, cares about them and will take care of them by providing them with jobs, education, and security. He will change foreign policy, defeat the Islamic State and protect the 2nd amendment. He guarantees them that he will make their lives better.
    • Proving that African Americans are voting for him and they love him. The conditions that inner city communities are currently facing are such a mess, so just give him a chance and trust that it can’t get worse and he can fix it. “What do you have to lose?” 3 or 4 African Americans shared their support for Trump from the podium. To me, it felt like they were hired help, paid well for an easy gig, traveling around and saying 2 sentences from stage and that’s it. I also wondered who he was talking to when he kept promoting his Black supporters — is he really trying to get the Black vote? It also felt like he’s trying to convince White folks that he really does support and care about Black people. It didn’t feel authentic to me.
    • Calling out that the liberal establishment has disrespected their voters, they have taken them for granted — saying they will do things for votes and then not doing those things.
    • Assuring folks that he has very extensive and detailed plans for everything, just read his website.
    • Painting a picture that:
      • Every American deserves to be treated with dignity and respect
      • He will restore honesty in the government
      • Under him, our country can actually “start working together as 1 people, under 1 God, supporting 1 country.”

I wish I could believe him with this last one. Instead, I perceive that his definition of the word “American” is the many people in that room that he called the real Americans… it’s only people in certain bubbles.

Leaving the rally, we had to walk the gauntlet through a confronting sea of anti-Trump protesters. There was a thin line for us to walk through as the crowd chanted “Love trumps Hate” and many people yelled at us. To be honest, there was nothing that I experienced leaving the rally that made me stop and pause and listen to what the protesters were saying. No signs caught my attention, nobody did or said anything that made me want to feel them as a human. In my role of trying to empathize with being a Trump supporter, I found myself more inclined to stick with my decision to vote for Trump as the experience he offered seemed much more civil than the experience from the protesters outside.

I have since read many accounts of what happened in the streets before, during and after the rally. You’ll have to research that yourself or let me know if you want some links.

In the end, I still feel that a vote for Trump promotes a future that puts the lives of many Black and Brown people at serious risk and could strip many Americans of freedoms of safety and speech. There is much more I could say, but I have to stop trying to assign words to my complex and impassioned internal experiences. I’ll end this with a prayer.

prayer

I pray for systems of governance and power that are built upon compassion, justice, and collaboration. I have faith in human beings. I pray that we can take care of each other and make life better for ourselves, one another and future generations. I know that there are leaders walking this Earth right now who can lead us. They are fierce protectors of that which is holy, sacred, and essential for life. They are courageous and willing to face their enemies and move towards solutions. They are paying attention to and in relationship with the most vulnerable amongst us. They are leading the way out of oppression and are wildly innovative. They are divinely guided. May we recognize and follow their leadership.

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Writing What’s On My Heart… & Why

write

I am feeling called to write more. I don’t yet know the path and pattern that will help me carry though with this… but I have faith I will find a way that feels in alignment with all else calling to me. Your encouragement, suggestions of things you’d like to read from me, and gentle witnessing are welcomed. Accountability is probably a good thing too!! Below are some recent facebook posts that share core expressions of what’s up for me.

June 24, 2016

My desire~

  1. To bring down these harmful and oppressive systems and institutions that are violent, unjust, and destroying lives and cultures.
  2. To cultivate a world rooted in love, vibrating with healthy connections of care, respect, and shared responsibility for nourishing life, all life.
  3. To do the above in community, with family. Working, organizing, acting, praying, grieving, celebrating with people I love… being creative, witty, and wise as we find ways to do the above without using the master’s tools… to be spiritually guided by forces bigger than ourselves, helping each other to stay grounded and healthy, to stay joyful and loving, to take care of ourselves as we take care of each other, as we stay committed to change and freedom.

I believe we must be able to be with both— the intensity of the facts of what is happening on our globe right now and the ability to embody the world we want to live in. To the extent that we are able, we must sit with the discomfort and the angst, the rage and grief, of the news, verdicts, and faces of state-sanctioned and hate-fueled violence and the impacts of systems built upon an order of superiority, oppression, discrimination, and abuse of power. And we must experience and celebrate love, joy, connection and well-being. We must bathe in nature and loving relationships and the pleasures of beauty, art, touch, dance, laughter and celebration. This is all a learning curve for me… I am speaking to myself just as much as I am sharing with anyone who is still reading. I want to join in this challenge with all of you. I believe in your good hearts and I believe that as a collective we could actually make a difference.

From Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

Let’s be about this work today. What will you do to get us closer to freedom, good people? ?#?letsdothis?
If you aren’t aware, a lot has happened this week.

July 4, 2016

Such a mixture of realities in my heart today… and lately. I haven’t had the words to shape into posts in response to all that is happening, all that I am feeling and experiencing. My relationship with social media causes me to feel a sense of responsibility to write when I am feeling intense feelings or am aware of significant events happening. As a big ‘feeler’ in the world, I am often called to share my experience… perhaps it will be an invitation for others to see a different perspective or tune into current events. Perhaps if I share how I am coping or not, strategies I am using or needing, it will be valuable for others who experience so much intensity in life. Sharing is also healing for me as it helps me not feel isolated in the intensity I experience. Lately, however, the feeling side has over-powered the public writing side as I sit with one mass tragedy or trauma or circumstance that baffles or invokes tremendous grief in me, one after another, while also attempting to live balance in my life and with those I love.

So without much commentary, here is what I am seeing on my facebook stream and in the news right now that impacts me. First hand accounts about what this holiday, the 4th of July, feels like for a slave, some Black people, some Native Americans. Warnings about how the fireworks impact people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, those who have lived amongst gun fire and explosions and are triggered by the sounds. Pictures of fireworks, family picnics, fun times on the water. Insight about today’s new moon. Continued grieving for these mass killings happening every other day it feels like… in Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Syria. Hundreds of innocent people dying. Teachers protesting and being targeted for their protests in Mexico. Indigenous peoples of the global South organizing for the protection of the Earth, their people, and their cultures. Queer, LGBTQ+ People of Color making their voices heard about the inequities they face from all directions, the violence and lack of protection and security. Black folks standing up for their people, their right to live the promoted values of this country. And here locally, the grieving, anger and organizing for the young man killed by a police officer in Asheville 2 days ago and another young man killed on Sunday.

{…. taking a deep breath….}

May as many of us as possible truly ACT in ways that bring about Freedom and Liberation for all.

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I Needed to Stop & Recalibrate

eyesOn January 18th in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I had one of those somatic moments where my body vibrates and catches my attention. Often when I look back, it’s moments like that one that indicate my life is about to change. A friend and colleague was talking about the sabbatical she is on, her daily routine, the things she’s saying NO to, and the self-care she is prioritizing. My whole body shivered and bellowing within me I heard, “Is this what you need to do? Can you take 3-6 months to pause?

While the doubting parts of me quickly began discouraging such a dramatic and risky move, the questions didn’t surprise me. A couple days prior I had given a talk about “Living on Purpose” where I admitted to the group of 200 university students that my professional success these last four years has been at the expense of my own self-care and work-life balance. Could I really take 3-6 months to intentionally assess and re-balance my priorities? Could I afford such a shift? What about all of my responsibilities and people that were depending on me? Could I really make caring for me a priority?

Success Checklist

Slide from lecture at Dalhousie University

 

I talked it over with friends and family, prayed on it, and by March 15th I had officially begun my process of Stopping & Recalibrating my priorities. I committed to living with greater health, more creativity and a clarified direction. I was fortunate to be supported by Mycelium in this decision, both financially and energetically.

It is a profound privilege to be able to take this time. I am deeply grateful. I feel that I deserve it. And I have faith that this gift to me will in turn serve others. Here’s more of the story about my process.

There were signs that this change was necessary:

  • I had lost touch with the vibrancy of my life force, life’s colorfulness had dimmed. I felt passionate about my work, but was going through the motions to accomplish what needed to get done. I felt drained even when the content inspired me.
  • I was exhausted and often wanting to sleep.
  • I noticed myself worrying about to-do’s I wasn’t getting to, tasks I hadn’t completed… but I wasn’t worrying about the fact that I hadn’t eaten a healthy meal or gotten up to go for a walk.
  • I hadn’t fully burnt out, but I was on the edge. I would take days to recover, get enough energy to be “back in the game,” but it wasn’t integrated. The renewal was temporary.
  • I was feeling called to a future that I didn’t yet have the spiritual, emotional and physical skills nor the community support to show up for. I needed to spend time focusing on personal practices, creative expression and growing relationships with myself, my spiritual family, and my community in order to show up for the chaos and complexity that I sense will be asked of me.

While I wasn’t certain that I needed to stop working, it was clear I had to stop being a producer for a few months. For me, a producer is someone who can see a big picture vision, articulate a strategy to bring it to life, and oversee the process of it coming to life with integrity. While I am good at this, for big projects it requires a huge amount of energy. Tracking all of the small and deep details of bringing Mycelium the organization to life with integrity while also launching transformative learning programs and tending to the relationships being cultivated required tremendous output. My self-care was frequently falling to the back seat with the wellbeing of the organization and the people we served in the front seat. I was not practicing what I preached. I was not modeling the type of leadership I believe in.

Spending Resources

Slide from lecture at Dalhousie University

 

I recognized that my goal-oriented, product-focused, analytical and logistical brain space was dominating. It was overshadowing my nurturing, creative, emergent tendencies that are also very important to my authentic expression and well-being. I had to stop being at the center of initiatives, leading them forward. I needed time for an out breath from the 4 years I invested in co-founding Mycelium. I needed to focus on the personal, daily practices that keep ME centered in the work I do and life I live. I needed to strengthen my spiritual and emotional practices that deepen my faith and ability to navigate uncertainty and chaos. I needed to strengthen my physical body for more endurance and healthy living. I needed to rest. I needed to trust that even if this move felt irrational and incredibly privileged, it was essential for the long haul.

slow-down-300x200It’s been 7 weeks now. I am seeing and re-writing patterns in myself, forming new neural pathways, letting go of unserving habits and beliefs, grieving and celebrating. I am slowing down, tuning into my heart, and listening to what is really calling to me at this time. I am taking the time to heal and nourish myself. I am reconnecting with my family and community. I am reflecting on my life experiences. I am weaving new possibilities. I am learning how to be me… unapologetically.

While I still have a lot to learn, I am beyond grateful for this time and what has revealed itself so far. So many lessons about myself, my beliefs, my work in the world, the conditions that help or hinder me thriving, and the challenges and learning experiences from starting a social enterprise. I have slowed down, but I don’t believe I’ve fully stopped. I imagine this will be a lifelong lesson for me.

Future possibilities are just beginning to whisper. A warrior in me is being beckoned. Conditions for how I will operate in this next stage of my life are revealing themselves. The focus of my attention is getting clearer. A daily personal practice that can nourish and sustain me is taking shape. I am recalibrating my presence, my frequency, my focus, my expression, who I am in relation to the many parts of myself, who I am in relation to how I work in the world and the type of work I do, who I am in relation to how I engage relationships and cultivate family. I am healing and recalibrating.

I am reflecting on this process as best I can, and I know there is much more to harvest from this time. Thank you for reading about my journey. Please feel free to ask me questions if they arise for you, as they might help me better integrate what this time has been, what I’m learning and where I am right now.

And stay tuned as I share the seeds that are emerging!

sprouting-seed-micro-photography-hd-wallpaper-spring-nature-stock-photo

Image Sources: Eyes, Slow Down, Seed Sprouting

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The Wounds and Scars Are Real

Personally~

I’m being asked to deal with my shadows. To face the wounds and scars of the past that are still festering inside me… that at times seep into my daily interactions and shape my present. I want to be real with myself. These wounds and scars are alive inside me. They are influencing me. I have not healed from them. I do not find their influence valuable.

I have shame. Shame when I act from the place of the wound/scar (fear, mistrust, insecurity). Shame that the past has such influence on my now. Shame that I continue to be hurt and unhealed by these old wounds. Shame that I can’t just forgive and move on. Shame that I am so hard on myself.

I feel guilty. Guilty that when I interact with folks with whom these scars were developed, that I can cause harm to them when I react from the pain of these wounds. My intention is not to hurt or to lash out. Sometimes that is what is felt by others. Guilty that my fears, mistrust, insecurities shape the quality of relationships I have with people in my life…

In the world~

I’m witnessing as the wounds and scars from the past, from the present, are festering inside so many people, communities, cultures, countries. Creating seemingly insurmountable obstacles between people…within people. To face and address these bleeding wounds, these century old scars is painful. Is uncomfortable. Is violently destructive to a worldview that ignores the reality of these lesions. Is harrowing work.

To face these wounds seems to require immense strength, diligence, focused attention, compassion and support. I see people I love and respect giving up on their communities – losing hope that the community as it is will be able to overcome the deeply entangled systemic and structural dysfunction and dehumanization that is the result of these old wounds and scars, current wounds and scars. I see news accounts of humans without safety, shelter, access to basic needs… hundreds of thousands of them, millions of them, around the planet. The wounds… scars… are alive and real and influencing the world that is operating today.

They say~

They say that to heal the wounds and scars inside me will help to heal the wounds and scars in the world. I know this is true at one level. I cannot do the work I am called to do when these raw hemorrhages influence my thinking and acting. I cannot support others in their own healing while unconscious to the areas of my own healing that are necessary. I cannot understand the intricate path to healing, regeneration, restoration, transformation without walking it myself.

And yet for me, I can’t only focus on my own healing and close my eyes to the healing of my community, my country, my planet. (not mine as in I own it, but mine as in I am an interconnected part of it).

So I pray that the personal work I am doing right now with myself and my relationships – may it serve me, my own happiness and well-being, and may it reach beyond the boundaries of myself… in service to a world that truly works for all.

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When I Hear the Calling…

Life continues to be a roller coaster. I feel inclined to write… and tell you about parts of this journey I am living.

I live a life of service. I listen for signs of where I am to show up… how I am to give my gifts in this world. And when I hear a calling, I do my best to show up for what is being asked.

This has resulted in major moves in my life such as leaving beautiful land that I love for graduate school in Denton, Texas. Quitting a great job and leaving Seattle at a peek in my professional career to return to Asheville with no job, no place to live, no clear direction — but a calling. It’s the reason I spearheaded TEDxNextGenerationAsheville and it’s definitely the force behind the last  3 years of intensive dedication to giving life and shape to Mycelium the organization — born out of a love affair with mycelium the organism.

This pattern of listening and acting shows up in small ways too — but this post is about the latest major life calling that is propelling my actions at this time.

Within the last 9 months to a year, there’s been a gentle tap on my shoulder – “You should be working with White people around racial justice.” I’ve listened and taken this tap seriously. The first line of action was to face my own personal lack of confidence and capability. I am not an expert in anti-oppression and anti-racism theory. I do not know the models and frameworks, the right language to use, the depths of the history that has gotten us here, the skillful approaches to engage these conversations. I’m not experienced enough for this work, I felt. So I’ve immersed myself in learning. Reading articles, books, watching videos, listening to podcasts and countless conversations with people already in the work… people who are deeply aware of how their life is effected by racial injustice everyday… people who are courageous and taking bold actions to pave the way for a different way of being.

About 3 months ago, the game changed again. The gentle but consistent tap on my shoulder shifted into a large man’s hand on by back, behind my heart, compassionately but forcefully shoving me forward. I tremble as I write, being honest with the fact that I am still afraid that “I’m not ready. I’m not an expert. What if I don’t have what it takes?” And yet… Here I am. Breathing. And knowing that I have value to give.

A month ago I was expressing to a friend my concerns about not being an expert in this work. She said, “You’re looking at expert from a Euro-centric perspective based in academics and logic. You have a different type of expertise.” This hit me as true. The authenticity I bring, my own experience, the compassion I feel for all involved and my dedication to learning are areas that I have great faith in myself. And so again… Here I am.

While looking at and addressing systems of oppression and creating more equitable and diverse learning environments has been a deep part of my professional path for the last 9 years, the terrain is shifting right now.

And this shift has me living on a roller coaster. Some days filled with hope and inspiration, motivated with courage and passion. And other days curled up in depression, tears streaming and my heart hurting. As I continue to wake up more and more to the realities that we are living in and listen to the call of what is being asked of me, I realize how much I don’t know and how intense and heartbreaking the complex dynamics really are.

At the same time, new role models and inspiration show up, new friends appear along the path. As with all the challenges that face us at this time on the planet, there are incredible leaders paving the way and offering guidance for how to get to the world we want to live in.

Yesterday was a heavy day, while also highlighted with moments of inspiration. I began with a prayer-mediation conference call with Gibran Rivera – Love Black Lives. I watched the livestream of the Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland and listened to the strong imperative to love ALL BLACK LIVES, explaining the plight of trans and queer People of Color, illustrating how powerful their voices are and listening to their pleas for us to stand up, speak out and help end the murdering of their people as well. I watched on twitter as the joy, healing, regeneration and gratitude poured in of Black people at the convening who are so thankful to be with one another, with their people, over 1000 of them… rebuilding their life force, receiving love and nourishment, and finding strength to continue leading this movement. I was also feeling as Sandra Bland’s family and friends were gathering to lay her body to rest at her funeral. Her dedication to fight injustice meant that she is now dead… and it is the loss of her life that will be her namesake’s fight. And I watched as the streets of Newark filled and countless people spoke at the Million People’s March Against Police Brutality, Racial Injustice, And Economic Inequality. The movement is alive. I am not alone.

And yet… when I went to a party last night to see friends I love and say goodbye to dear souls that are moving… I didn’t know how to connect beyond a surface level. My body trembles and tears well as I try and put words to this feeling that is pulsing through me. To interact in the everyday White/dominant culture world, I feel like I have to push these realities I am living to the back, not yet clear of how to bring them forward or be real to my lief experience in “not so intense” ways. I don’t know how to just shake it off and have a good time when conversation is involved.

And at the same time, so many of my dear friends of color are in so much pain and grief right now. I can’t even imagine what it is like for them to walk the streets and try and be normal and interact with people as they cope with the intensity that is stirring inside them. I deeply understand their requests for space and their need to turn inward and care for themselves. I witness as they do everything they know how – dance, pray, self-care, fellowship, ceremony, time with friends and family – to breathe life into their tired bodies and passion into their daily actions. I witness the depths of their faith and resilience and am inspired and grateful.

….

I shall bring this writing to a close for now. Thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far. Thank you for your love and care. Thank you for understanding that there are many of us who need love and support right now. You may be one of these people. So many folks have said to me, “I’m so thankful that there’s people like you doing this work.” I genuinely appreciate this recognition and gratitude. And I would like to have more people join me, to have more caring souls in the work with us. I’m seeking to grow my own support network and discover who are the folks that are available with love and support for me to call on these heavy days, who will call and check in on me, willing to come and give a hug, sit in silence with understanding eyes or be present with rage and anger?

Who is willing to walk with us as we dedicate our lives to bringing more love, justice, healing and freedom to those who walk the Earth at this time and the future generations to come?

 

 

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