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Aisha Fukushima

“They try to divide us by color, but it won’t work. No. No. No.
They try to take us from each other and it won’t work.
We intertwined.

I believe in miracles.
I believe in a greater world.
I believe in good things.
And it starts with me.

I keep it humble cause I’m always on the real, yo.

I was born free and free I will be.
Your oppression is insanity.
My impression is humanity.”

Some quotes from Aisha Fukushima. Her and her music are inspiring me deeply. Good medicine.

And here she is singing for George Clinton.

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Playing in the Waves


My life feels very interesting right now!! Some personal story telling.

In the Fall of 2004, as I was finishing up graduate school, I was in communication with a non-profit that worked with teenagers in foster care. This program was located in North Carolina and they were expanding to include a camp for youth and families. Among other things, part of their aim was to provide these children a consistent place and community where they could return each season, reuniting in their village, held by the wilderness, joining with a community of peers and self-discovery mentors while uncovering even more of the wonders of their being and the gifts they behold. The hope was that they would receive support, find strength in their sense of self and feel like they belonged, providing ground for them as they prepared for the often abandoning process of aging out of the system. And most importantly, that they would know a genuine sense of home.

I was deeply engaged in the creative process of this new camp being born and had the great fortune of writing my own job description that was enthusiastically embraced. I was astonished by the blessings unfolding. About to receive a Masters of Education in counseling, here I was creating my dream job and being invited to live it. Wow! Amazing!

And… life is always filled with surprises! In November of 2004 I traveled to North Carolina to help facilitate staff training and to meet the team. And then in early December there was a sudden shift. Things had changed and this perfect unfolding of what was to be next in my life had another course in mind. I would not be working at the camp after all. Time to recalibrate.

So in January of 2005 instead of returning to North Carolina (where I had been living before attending graduate school in Texas), I set off on an adventure into the unknown. I stuffed my three new letters (M.Ed.) into my glove box and set out to experience the Pacific Northwest. I had many friends and colleagues between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada. At two other points in my history I had almost moved out to the northwest. It felt like now was the time to explore this region and see if it wanted to invite me to stay.

My plan was simple, give what I have to give whenever I can, wherever I am. Offer my skills and talents. Be open to what’s possible. Notice what emerges. Follow my heart when I hear something calling. I gave myself 6 months to try out living in this way and to see if I wanted to live in that part of the country. I figured if I was genuinely giving whenever I could something in the form of a job would open up. What else could the universe want of me? And if no job or practical plan emerged, well then I would hit the classifieds and take the traditional route at the end of that 6 months. Travels and visits unfolded… and in May I was offered a phenomenal job at a school in Seattle with a beautiful mixture of creative freedom in program development, a variety of ways to use my skills and talents, the joy of working with children and adults, and being in a thriving community of learners. And so began the next chapter of my life… the chapter which wrapped up this June.

I’m reliving the a fore mentioned pattern of surfing in the unknown, giving what I have to give, dreaming, listening, noticing, learning and following “the spark of yes.” This morning a big belly laugh of surprise caught me when I ran across the job description for the camp that I wrote in October of 2004. It actually splashed me in the face with an awe-inspiring, cosmic-laugh that barked: of course! The job description is posted below and the humor is in how clearly it expresses the path I am on right now, articulating the kind of work I would like to do more of wherever I end up landing next. You can compare it to the document that I wrote in June of this year (along with other information at my current website) talking about some of my current interests, passions and offerings. You might also notice that somehow in these last 4 years I got a lot more wordy! (grin)

I’ll be leaving the Seattle area on September 29th coming full circle as I head to North Carolina. Please feel free to help me dream forward a lively future and stay tuned as I continue swimming in the unknown, riding the waves of excitement and anxiety while holding sacred my dedication to follow my heart, practice deep listening and keep on learning!

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Job Description

A job description that I wrote in October of 2004, outlining the role I would like to play in a newly developing organization. Still holds true for today.

Job Description

  • Attending to the mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health of the system. This involves supporting and nourishing the well-being of individuals, sub-systems (youth, staff, social workers, parents, etc.), and the system as a whole.
  • Advocate for staff and youth
    • Staff– A link person that aims to be aware of needs, wishes, desires, stresses, strengths, support systems, etc. of staff members and attempts to keep communication open and flowing throughout the system. A facilitator of clear communication. Each member comes with their specialties and areas of interest to which they are committed and invested. My role is to be guided by the big picture while attending to relational needs of the system.
      • Dreaming Groups– Facilitating staff groups which align individual’s health, gifts, visions, and dreams with the group and larger organization’s visions, intentions, mission, and purpose.
    • Youth involvement— visible presence when camp is in session. A known resource to the children as an unbiased, completely accepting person available for individual or group counseling or mediation on an as-needed basis.
  • Therapist Support— Work cooperatively with licensed therapist, ensuring that therapeutic components of philosophy and programs are complementary and sound throughout all aspects of the program. Available to provide therapeutic services as needed and desired by licensed therapist.
  • Philosophy and program planning – Using education and therapeutic knowledge to assist in philosophy and program planning. Providing support by recognizing areas in need of greater attention and detail and keeping the momentum forward-moving, activating.
  • Parenting groups – Time would be needed to research specific needs of foster and adoptive parents, incorporating them into the Filial Therapy structure and creating a new course. An ideal situation would be to be trained as a trainer for mandated parenting courses within the foster system and infuse his course with the therapeutic components of filial therapy.
  • Staff Training—involved in planning and facilitating staff training. Providing continual staff development based on the needs, concerns, and weaknesses of the staff.
  • Workshops and Retreats – Organizing workshops and retreats for parents, social workers, and staff.

What would you call this position?

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Your Story Grows My Story


There are times when someone shares a story with me and it pops me open, spurting me out of the narrowness of my lived world and bursting me into an ah-ha that there are ways to experience the world that I’ve never imagined. I expect these experiences when I travel to new places or immerse myself into new cultural experiences. I love it when this happens and I’m not expecting it… which it did twice the other day. I’m so grateful to these beautiful souls who showed me something new and insightful.

One woman shared an experience of when she was in college and was in a class where part of their grade was based on class participation. She and another woman in the class were very shy and never chose to spontaneously participate. Every couple of weeks or so they would get together and intensely study the material for that class and plan for their ‘spontaneous class participation.’ She said it was always surprising to the professor that the two quiet women in this relatively small class would have something to add on the same day!

Another woman told me about her experience of being in a room filled with people that were passionately involved and invested in the work they were doing in the world. She had never experienced being surrounded by so many people that were passionate about their work. It was an eye-opening and seemingly body igniting experience for her.

There are so many different ways to live in and engage with the world. There are so many different types of people with whom to surround ourselves. In every moment we’re making a choice about how to engage, how to contribute, how to receive, what to offer, what to follow, what to be… so many choices and so many beautiful kaleidoscopic combinations of ways to live.

It humbles me to hear experiences like these, to have other people’s stories shake me awake to realities I didn’t know existed. It makes me stop and take a moment to reflect upon who I am, feel grateful for some of my ways of being and opportunities I’ve had, and recognize areas where I can grow.

I have largely taken granted my ability to jump in, ask a question and engage something or someone that interests me. This is a way of being that has come naturally to me… but doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In my narrow world, I hadn’t thought about the idea of actively planning ahead to participate in a conversation. It makes total sense and I feel such respect for this woman who recognized what she needed and wanted to do and took actions to help herself get there. In our conversation she taught me a lot about planned spontaneity and has opened my world to that pathway for growing spontaneity.

The woman in a large hall surrounded by people passionately living their calling told me, “I’ve been surrounding myself with the wrong people!” I took a moment and imagined myself in a world where people around me were going through the motions, doing what they do because it’s what they do. I felt the sparky pulse of passion and purpose ooze out of the living beings, that reflection and light around me growing dimmer. And, as you might imagine, a gushing wave of gratitude swept in and swallowed me. I was gifted the opportunity, from a new perspective, to stop and really feel my deep gratitude for all the people that I know who live their life’s passion and choose to share that with the people around them. If you’re blessed enough to be one of those people, thank you for letting others know how deeply you care about, believe in and are willing to take action to do what your body, mind, heart and soul asks of you. And if you’re one of the many people who continue to listen to yourself, trying to discover what that sparky pulse of passion and purpose is for you, please don’t give up… it’s in you and you’ll find it. And whoever you are, please share your stories with others.

I am immensely grateful to people like these two women who share little snippets of their life story with me… and thus help me live more consciously my own life story.

photo by //amy//

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We’re Alive, Here Now

“Let there be no more holding back on
our commitment to our life on earth.”

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Shadows and Swords

Synchronicities
Alignment
Clarity
Uncertainty
Being with
Experiencing
Exploring

A month ago I was invited into a dance of awareness. I was invited to live with greater integrity. I recognized in my interactions with myself and others that there was an inherent boundary I was not respecting. A gate I was ignoring, walking through without honoring its sacred presence. I was acting irresponsibly.

Synchronicities and teachings unfold as Chris and friends share around Going to War at the Art of Hosting on Art of Hosting. Here’s my story.

In a spontaneous moment of combined knowing-need for respite and solitude along with a longing-desire for escape, I took a one night trip to the ocean! It was a therapeutic offering of time and space to deepen into my experience of being alive. Some potent new awarenesses emerged. I’ll share a story about one of them… a recognition of two precious parts of myself.

From my journal:

There is a part of me that interacts Powerfully with others by holding space for What-is to truly be present. There is another part of me that is naïve to the power that way of being holds… and thus doesn’t always skillfully use timing or discernment. How do I come to better know these parts? Can you name them?

One part emerged immediately. I know her well. She appears readily at the surface of my expression, a light and free, playful self. The other part of my self was not as ready to be named. I allowed myself to rest in being, journeying on the land and in my soul.. and in the beauty and power of the ocean, I was able to name this other part of myself. Let me introduce you to them (again from my journal):

The innocent beginner – I’ll try anything. Why not. The best way to be an innocent beginner is to just put yourself out there. Just go for it and see what happens. I’m great at getting experiments started or inviting you into new experiences. I take the edge off of things because I give you permission to just be a beginner… be open and see what happens. I’m innocent because I really don’t know better. I’m just beginning to step my foot into this pool.

The woman who wields a sword – I notice how I have this sword. There is some body-knowing and memory of how I move, center and balance myself when holding a sword. This sword cuts through experience. The edge is fierce. Piercing the surface with awareness. It can be harsh and crisp. Awareness is often not gentle. Sometimes it’s seems so nice, helping to shave away the excess fluff that is in the way. Inviting clarity. Inviting precision. And other times it touches lived life that resists being touched… that wants to continue living as is and not to be poked and prodded, pierced with a sword of awareness.

Now that I know these two selves, I’ve been trying to notice when they emerge, especially the one who wields a sword. There is a quality that I feel in my body, a lightening of form, an expansive sense, a sharpening of presence. I am slowly starting to recognize this as her emerging. When I become aware of this I am making extra effort to listen intently to guidance of how to respond. Recognizing that in my being right now I wield a weapon and I must proceed with caution and clarity. I assume a stature of poise, balance, precision and awareness… when I remember… when I am aware.

The Synchroncity: At the Art of Hosting, “Anita Paalvast, a very powerful aikidoka, drew her katana and walked the circle, lowering the blade in front of each of us and challenging us to identify our fear and the shadow that is in our midst” (Corrigan). I plan to write more about Chris’ post and Thomas’ response and how I want to hear Christy say something on the topic! In the meantime, to stay with this story, it was Helen’s comment that illuminated more to me about this new responsibility I’ve been invited to consciously respect.

She says:

Another shadow challenge that can derail our work in the world is our own passion.

We need to know how to remain in perfect poise and dignity, never to push our adversary or interlocutor into a place they cannot go unless we are prepared and awake enough to go with them to guard their back.

I have not always respected this. I recognize how dangerous my own passions can be and the shadow sides of longings that emerge from them. And how often have I drawn my sword and then walked away, abandoning the other? Chris wrote about the shadows of greed, failure and dishonesty. How often have I drawn my sword out of greed or fear of failure? Was I ever dishonest with my sword?

In my heart right now, I feel and offer deep apologies to those whom I have disrespected and possibly even harmed with my unconsciousness and lazy use of the sword. I am sorry for the inappropriate times that I have drawn my sword, cut into awareness and imposed a force upon you that caused harm to your system… your emotional, spiritual, cognitive or physical system. Please forgive me for mistakes from my past… and in my future. I welcome support from my companions to hold me more accountable as I learn to embrace this side of myself and be more responsible with this power. Thank you… and with love…

Photos from Helen and Tom

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Piercing My Existence

Hi!

It’s been awhile since I’ve found a voice to offer here. I notice that when I’m experiencing deep and rapid change in my life, writing here can feel confusing. The sense is something like, I’m not who I was when I last wrote here… and how do I jump in with who I am now… especially when I don’t know who I am now?

Passion beats wildly as my heart.
Flying light,
like sparks and trails of fireworks,

piercing my existence
tingling a fierce dance
between pain and wakefulness

Here is a song whose lyrics resonate deeply with me right now. I highly recommend The Weepies.

The Weepies Big Strong Girl

It’s not now or never.
It’s not black, and it’s not white.
Anything worth anything takes more than a few days
and a long, long night.

Don’t push so hard against the world, no, no.
You can’t do it all alone, and if you could
would you really want to?
Even though you’re a big strong girl
come on, come on, lay it down.
The best made plans are your open hands.

Rest your head.
You’ve got two pillows to choose from
in a queen-sized bed.
Hold out for the moon
but don’t expect connection any time soon.

Feel the light caress your fingertips.
You have just begun, the word has only left your lips.
Maybe in time, you will find
your arms are wrapped around the sun
you’re wrapped around the sun.

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