Monday, October 14, 2013

Lessons from Iyanla

Iyanla Vanzant recently offered a thoughtful presentation to an eager Detroit audience.  I took notes and offer them here for those who may find value in the lessons.
  1.  Don't get caught up in judging people when they go through things, but rather look for the lessons that their mistakes, decisions, etc. reveal. Though clearly an important lesson that can be applied in many situations, Ms. Vanzant offered this specifically in reference to a person who she interviewed for an upcoming show. (I don't remember his name).
  2. Don't underestimate the impact of "how" you were raised impacts your consciousness, how you view yourself, what you consider as possibilities/choices in life and more. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Thoughts on what is called the Environmental Justice Movement

Recently i was asked to articulate my vision for the environmental movement.  Such a question gave me pause as I searched my mind and heart for the content and form of an appropriate response.

What is the EJ movement? What are it's parameters? What is it's race/class/gender/cultural character?  What strands exist among so-called moment actors? Toward what ends are their efforts directed?

I haven't yet done my research to answer these questions, hence my response, admittedly, was idealistic: To unite with other movements to end the systematic exploitation to and harmful treatment of people and the environment toward the creation of a new society that values life; values that are reflected in policies, laws and practices.

Yet to advance this, or any other vision, we have to lay the groundwork, do our studies on the development of industrial societies and the human and environmental degradation that evolved simultaneously; identify the fundamental contradictions of capitalism and the resource intensive industrial production, distribution, exchange, consumption and reproduction and trace their growth and transformation over time; map the faces and places harmed and/or destroyed directly and indirectly through practices and policies; and work with those moving in a similar direction to end this destruction while planting seeds of creation. This is no small task.

These are the conversations that must be had...difficult and time consuming as they are. And through this work we can know clearly where we stand, what we are fighting for and who is with us.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Fasting is like hitting the reset button. It can be a purifying process - emotionally, physically, spiritually - if done with care, preparation and intentionality. 

For several years, parts of me have wanted to permit the release and rebuilding that fasting facilitates. But the time had never been quite right. Doing so would have meant that i was ready to let go of things tightly and safely held in by joints, the safe parts of the soul, untouched corners of my mind. But i wasn't ready. And each attempt ended almost as soon as it started. It hasn't always been that way. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Response to a question

Tile of a spider taken at the
Occidental Arts & Education Center
A couple of months ago i was interviewed for a Berkeley-based radio program. Though it hasn't aired, a question the interviewer asked has remained on my mind. 'You seem to be involved in very different activities and disciplines - environmental justice, natural healing, African history, and more - wherein lay the connections?' There are many. And i hope to weave together certain elements that make the most sense for this public forum. 

Humans are one of many many species that live on this earth. And in comparison with some, are a relatively recent emergence in the vast span of the earth's life. We share space with other beings...flora and fauna, seen and unseen, large and small. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Personal thought on love...

I recently saw written, 
Fall in love again and again and again. Never say no to love. what you focus on you become. Be love. 
A statement that deeply resonates, but gives me pause. Is the love referred to in "fall in love" and "be love" the same? Different? Does it matter? Falling in love with whom? With what? Being love toward what end? 

That i have these questions...that i am intellectualizing the quote (and the sentiments it represents), rather than appreciating it for what it says perhaps speaks to an unwillingness or inability to embrace love fully.

Or maybe i don't understand this love concept in the ways it is used here: as a cycle, as a state of being, as a process of becoming, as a feeling.  Or perhaps my treating it as a concept is problematic. Ought love be something lived and felt, rather than conceptualized and defined? 

And yet at the gross level, how does one embrace love, be love, fall in love and maintain a sense of composure in the world? How does one who lives with the heart open to love deal with cravings that arise? Cravings that, in the Buddhist sense, lead to unhappiness? 

Questions...the answers to these and more lay within our hearts, if we only listen. And though i haven't given myself space to seek all the answers, i know that i'd rather cultivate love, live love, be love, experience and share love over not doing so. This is why i chose my name. It means love. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Market Doesn't Offer Solutions

Solutions to ecological crises cannot be found in the market. The capitalist market is driven by profit. Efforts to maximize profit necessarily involve reducing costs to the bare minimum, which means lowering wages of workers, eliminating/lowering benefits and cutting corners in ways that directly or indirectly harm the health of people and/or the environment. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

an ode to women on international women's day

so wonderfully complex, exquisitely nuanced, yet tragically boxed into limiting frames. 
exceptional spirits born into bodies that then families, systems of socialization and society as a whole seek to define. 
we acquiesce, get along, look down, choose our battles.  
we defy, push back, speak out, resist, fight.  
we cry, scream, throw things, hone warrior skills. 
we critically analyze, synthesize, strategize, problem solve. 
we are workers, players, lovers, strategists, analysts, engineers. 
we are the spooks who sat behind the door, guerrilla fighters, armed militia, gangstas. 
we are daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties, neighbors, friends, comrades.  
we are sexual, non-sexual, multi-sexual, polyamorous, monogamous. 
we are so much. 
so much more than the gendered bodies that house our souls. 
so much more than the boxes in which we are raised. 
so much more than the socioeconomicpolitical roles assigned to us by society. 

on this 8th day of march 2013, like every day, i honor and celebrate women now, then and, there and everywhere.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

journey into uncharted territory

a journey into uncharted territory can be frightening. it can give pause on the path of one's journey. the tendency is to react to it in some way. but sometimes, the only necessary thing is to sit with it; to feel fully what is there, without judgment, without intellectualizing, without calling it this or that. 

quieting oneself while in uncharted territory can and often does lead to feelings of discomfort. at times, overwhelming emotions arise. the body wants to respond. the mind wants resolution; it wants to organize and make sense of what is going on. but it could be that the heart simply wants to wants to be fully present in this moment, for however long or short. it could be that the heart treasures this rare moment to feel deeply, to connect with the parts it hasn't known in a long time. or hasn't known at all. and this is ok. 

sometimes it is ok to not have answers. it is ok to not have the language to articulate this uncharted territory. in fact, the words, concepts, phrases that might be used are indeed limiting and can't begin to describe that which is arising within one's heart and soul. it is in these spaces that we discover ourselves anew. we learn that life does exist beneath the surface.  and that life is ready to burst out of the containers into which it has been placed for the sake of getting by in this world. 

how beautiful this journey. how refreshing. how lovely.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


death comes. sometimes sudden. other times not. sometimes by surprise. other times not. it is final for the body. perhaps not for the soul. I can't say for sure.

feeling the weight of a sudden, unexpected loss.

that's it for now.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reflections on 2012

When i turned 40 (end of 2011), my commitment was to unpack and clear away the baggage from years of moving it from this place to that place; locking it behind this door then that door. Most of 2012 was spent doing that. What i didn't anticipate - because i simply didn't give it much thought - was the extreme depth i would be pulled to reach the deepest, longest growing roots. I didn't realize how nuanced the pain from trauma was until i invited it to surface for release. And in this process of release, the comfort junk-sold-as-food brought me was tremendous, although i realized it represented a nuanced expression of trauma...that of anesthetizing myself from the heavy emotions that arose.