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Processing: Who Does the Heavy Lifting

We sit in the chairs to get educated.

Attentive. Being a good student. Listening for what we can learn.
Giving up a whole day of our busy lives — because we know this is important.

Truths revealed. Layers of our privilege glaring before us, for us to see.
Asked again and again — where is your empathy?
Perhaps some words land in a particular way,
And we allow our hearts to break.
Shame, sorrow, rage, confusion.
We feel the tremble in our own bodies.
How can this be? This is not right.

And then what?
We go back to our homes. Back to our lives.
Perhaps we think about — What can I do? What will I do?
Perhaps we make commitments, tell others to hold us accountable.
We process what we’ve heard.
Perhaps the intensity of listening and actually hearing is too much and we run away,
escape into the comfort of our familiar, into the ease of our peace.

Meanwhile. For those for whom these realities are their every breathing moment reality —
Where is the rest? Where is the escape? Where is the return to “my life”? Who fills in when they need a pause?

The hustle continues. Trying to provide safe spaces for youth continues. Alternatives to the streets, the guns, the violence. Alternatives to the classrooms and the spaces for leisure, where adult and peer eyes look at these teenagers and young people and believe they are lesser, up to no good, not as smart, not on a path to a bright future, believe that their parents don’t care. Hustling to create alternatives to narrow views of what their future could be. Alternatives to always having to live in the hustle.

These leaders are providing opportunities to experience the joys and pleasures that life can offer, to see people glowing with pride and appreciation, recognizing the unique humans that these youth are, feeling the hearts of those who believe in them, who sacrifice everything they have towards the hope of their brighter future. Experiencing opportunities to learn relevant life skills, to grow networks of people who want to lift one another up. Laughing. Dancing. Playing. Smiling.

And then the late night hours, morning news… 12-year-old killed, 18-year-old suffering from gunshot wounds. Futures pierced with the bullets of a moment’s reality. Hope for tomorrow disrupted by the corruption of today.

And again — who is present to deal with the trauma as it is unfolding. Who feels the response-ability, the obligation to be part of the solution. And who sits civilly. In our chairs. Listening. Emotion-filled, but paralyzed in our bodies. How long have we been sitting in our chairs, at our desk, running errands, staying busy… and yet…

Today, July 1st, 2018, in Asheville, North Carolina — People of Color are absolutely disproportionately carrying the weight of leading actual change in this city. They are absolutely doing the majority of the heavy lifting to bring about more safety, fairness, justice and morality in our city. They are doing the physical and emotional labor of caring for one another in a city that is ready and willing to leave people to suffer and even die rather than actually change. They are creating spaces where we — liberal white women, progressive white men, social change oriented white folks — sit civilly, listen, and perhaps even feel. Sometimes we see that we are needed and we step in with them. Usually, if we get involved, we hang around the edges or yell loudly in inappropriate places. There are too few of us who get our hands dirty, follow their lead, and use our own deep listening and discernment to recognize what is helpful and what is more harmful.

Is today the day that one more person sees that our own life and freedom and peace and comfort is actually bound to the life and freedom and peace and comfort of others? Is today the day that more of us feel the obligation to be a part of the solutions instead of sitting by silently, or only speaking up on facebook or twitter or showing up at a rally once every few months?

It is summer time. Violent crime is on the rise in this city. Police officers can harass and beat residents on camera and still be found as innocent. Community leaders are busting their asses to try and create different realities, to try and find solutions, while being the ones leading the efforts to implement those solutions AND educate the rest of us about why what they are doing is essential and necessary. Meanwhile, they work fulltime jobs and care for their own immediate and extended families.

Are we ready to get organized as a city and make significant changes that cultivate greater care and support for one another and assertively address the oppressive and discriminatory systems that are in place?

Those who are vulnerable because of the racist, classist, and oppressive systems that this country is built up need all of us to be involved. Those of us that are privileged, detached from our capacities to empathize and connect with a greater whole and humanity, our well-being requires our involvement too.

The local is the regional is the national is the global. We can build strong networks of mutual support, resilience, and evolutionary action. There is a unique role that we each have to play. This is a massive puzzle, a huge ecosystem, and each of us have something different to contribute — what’s yours to do? What’s yours to contribute?

For me, in this moment, I had to write. The urgency to want to act and yet not clear what will best serve finds an outlet in words. And with these words is prayer, my own effort to extend my hand in a gesture of “please join me”, a prayer that perhaps one person reading will feel a new spark in their heart that says  — “Yes. I’m ready now. Let’s get to work. I will be part of the change.” And prayers for peace to those that are suffering, courage and protection for those that are leading towards different realities, and prayers for the web of our connections to strengthen so that we may be collectively more effective.

And to keep it vulnerable and transparent, today I also sit with my own personal conflict — my emotions are swept by this reality and so I’m not as available to loved ones today in the ways that I had planned to be. I’m preparing for 6 days away with family, and yet I feel that organizing and activation is so needed right now. I’m nervous about the time away when I’ll feel this need to pretend to enjoy this particular holiday season that makes me cringe… and yet the loved ones gathering mean the world to me. And I’m sitting with my white woman tendencies that feel an urgency to act — like I should be doing more now.

Breathing. Prayer. One step at a time. And LISTENING DEEPLY — to the spiritual guidance that I receive and to the guidance from those I am in community with. This is why I invest in growing strong and trusting relationships.

Thank you for reading. Your reflections are welcomed (though I might not respond).

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Strategies to Reduce Stress

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Research shows six major strategies for mitigating stress: sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, mental health care, and healthy relationships.”

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Loving Parents Empowering Powerful Transgender Children

We humans are so powerful when we get to be whole… to be who we are. ?

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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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This is a great explanation for the project I am working on right now… Looking at the reality that systems are living organisms and operate like living organisms. What can we thus learn from what we already know makes an organism healthy and vibrant? How can we apply that knowledge towards social organizing, action and innovation?

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Celebrating Mr. Clean, Celebrating Life’s Force


In case you’ve been following the story of my dad’s health, here’s the exciting update. He was photographed on Tuesday (cat scan). Technology peered into his body to articulate the progress of his recovery. The image that came back invites deep celebration as he is clean with no signs of cancer in the picture!! Yippee!!! Sweeth breaths of relief!!! For more details, hop on The P Train. For my own learnings and reflections, keep reading!

Leading up to yesterday, I felt the intense anticipation, fear and anxiety so many people were holding about yesterday’s doctor’s appointment… How much significance it had… The messenger delivering the verdict of my dad’s state of health… A defining moment when a specialist would read the results and share his prediction of the state of a man’s life. Each time I would feel into this scenario, I was struck with confusion. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Regardless of some person’s expertise, how can another human being have so much power and control to define how alive a person experiences themselves to be? How did we as humans get to a place where we allow other people to discern for us the quality of our life, the amount of hope that we should or shouldn’t have based on the data?

I have no idea what it’s like to be in such an incredibly vulnerable place where there is some unknown aggressor attacking my body and I am forced to join a fight that I wasn’t even aware was going on inside my very own skin. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be a person who is told that I have cancer or some other life-threatening idea*. Should a day like that ever visit my life, I don’t know how I’ll respond.

Yesterday, however, being in this process with my dad, my family, people I love deeply and my own reactions, I learned some important lessons. I felt my dad’s life force. I felt the strength and power of the human life force. The current of creation, vibrancy, beauty, yes!, generative movement forward, LIFE. As I try to articulate that now, I feel the pulsing vibrancy in my own being. Wow, that’s magical… that we each have that, we each have access to something so sacred, so powerful, so uniquely our own and so universal to each of us.

I called my dad yesterday and extended an invitation to him that was something like this:

I invite you to take a moment before you get to the doctor’s office to connect with your life force. There is a force inside of you that is so alive. I can hear it in your voice. I can feel it in your writing. I imagine I’d see it in your eyes if I were there with you. You have a life force that is vibrant inside of you and will be there when you walk into the doctor’s office and will be there when you leave. I invite you to connect with that and stay connected with that, including whatever it is that the doctor shares with you. And no matter what anyone tells you, you are the only one that really knows what that life force feels like, how strong it is, how alive it is, how vibrantly it is moving through your body. No one can tell you about that… only you can connect with and know its presence and strength.

I thank the universe for the arrival of that message through me. For me, it is powerful and inspires me greatly. An invitation that I hope to really integrate into my own being and believing, further allowing me to share that vibrant radiance with myself, others and the world. What a gift that we each have!!

And then, after the doctor’s appointment, when my dad shared the news with me…. sweet tears of relief, bubbling with excitement. His life force gets to shine on with the medical world’s blessing of a clean cat scan. THANK YOU!!!

*As I was proofreading, I was shocked to read the word idea there as I didn’t consciously use it. I meant to use some thing like a life-threatening disease or condition. But I’m struck. Are these life-threatening diagnosis ideas? There is concrete fact and data that there is something going on inside the body… but the notion that it is life-threatening… is that an idea? Our life is always threatened just by the nature of being alive… hmmmm….

photo source

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Living with Radical Honesty

Living With Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton
Re-posted from Charity Focus

I learned that the primary cause of most human stress, the primary cause of most conflict between couples and the primary cause of most both psychological and physical illness is being trapped in your mind and removed from your experience. What keeps you trapped in your mind and removed from your experience is lying and we all lie […] all the time. We’re taught systematically to lie, to pretend, to maintain a pretense because we’re taught that who we are is our performance. Our schools teach us to lie, our parents teach us to lie. We’re all suffering from mistaken identity.

We think that who we are is our reputation, what the teacher thinks of us, what kind of grades we make, what kind of job we have. We’re constantly spinning our presentation of self, which is a constant process of lying and being trapped in the anticipation of imagining about what other people might think. Our actual identity is as a present tense noticing being. I’m someone sitting here talking on the telephone right now and you’re sitting there talking on the telephone and writing or doing whatever you’re doing. That’s your current identity and this is my current identity and when you start identifying with your current present-tense identity you discover all kinds of things about life that you can’t even see or notice when you’re trapped in the spin doctoring machine of your mind. So radical honesty is about delivering yourself from that constant worrisome preoccupation of, “Oh my god. How am I doing? How am I doing? How am I doing? How am I doing?” Then you can pay attention to what’s going on in your body and in the world and even pay attention to what’s going on in your mind. […]

Just look at what you notice in front of you right now, your environment, wherever you are in an office or wherever it is. Noticing is an entirely different function than thinking and what we do all the time is that we confuse thinking with noticing. When we think something we act as though it has the same validity as something that we see. I’ve got a bumper sticker on my truck that says, “Don’t believe everything you think.” It’s like your thinking just goes on and on and on and on.

–Brad Blanton, Center For Radical Honesty

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