Find the Gift

I struggle with perseverating on traumas both ancient and recent.

I know my mind is searching for a way to protect me, though in doing so it binds me tightly to the experiences that seem to scald me.

I used to want to sever my ties to the subjects I perseverated on, to ablate the neurons in my brain that remembered the most painful moments and thought the most disturbing ideas.

Now I know that every challenging experience holds within it a gift, the lotus seed within the mud.

I invite you to try this: recall a traumatic memory, and ask yourself what lesson can be gleaned from it.

For example, in remembering the times my body has been violated, may I be reminded that I am worthy of respect and healthy boundaries.

In linking trauma to sacred life lessons, you will transform the uncomfortable memory into a powerful tool to heal yourself.

The traumatic memory may remain searing lifelong, however you will hold the gift in the palm of your hand and therefore be able to use it to create the life you want, starting with feeling better right here, right now.

When I do this I feel peaceful, hopeful, and at ease.

May you always find the gifts you need to soothe your heart, mind, body, and spirit.

Coping

If I ever have children (if my body can forgive me for a lifetime of multifaceted abuse), I hope to give them a more robust and diverse repertoire of coping skills than the ones my parents left me

Instead of beginning and ending with cheap alcoholism and angst, I hope that my children draw from a complete rainbow of abilities

Mindfulness and movement; may they know the sweet depths of meditation, may they return to the present moment through gentle awareness again and again, and may they bathe in the ecstasy of a daily movement practice such as yoga, qi gong, tai chi, or wild freestyle dance, may they know that peace is always a breath away.

Contact with nature: may they be blessed with the sight of many sunrises and sunsets, may the sky fill their eyes and their lungs; may they have nature in their hearts and in their homes and may they submerge themselves in forests for sanctuary.

Interconnectedness: may my children know that they are loved unconditionally; may they connect with loved ones regularly, may they feel safe and supported in this world. May they draw on ancient wisdom and allow space for new realizations. May they feel both one in a million and a million in one.

Humility: may my children not overburden themselves with pressure; with realistic expectations may they wander more easily through life, may they balance unhelpful thoughts with helpful thoughts, may they rise up for an eagle’s eye view from time to time, especially during trying times.

We are all children at our core. May we know all of these blessings and more.

Good

I no longer strive to be labeled as ‘good’ by others

Like a trained fucking dog

I don’t want to act sweet
When I feel salty and bitter
I never wanted to fit into a box
Or stay between the lines
I don’t even belong indoors
I am a wild, free woman
If that means I’m not the angel you thought I was
Then light up the fire and brimstone
Too long have I carried the burden of trying to save the world while looking cute and put-together
Always satisfying other’s needs like plugging holes in a dam and I’m about to burst
I tremble and ache to let go of the many ropes which bind me
So many roles to play and expectations to meet
No wonder I have no time or energy left for me
I am the only person I can save, and my liberation doesn’t require fake smiles or insincere social pleasantries
To live my best life
I must aspire to be more than simply good
I must liberate myself from the ribbon I am wrapped up in
Rip off the docile doll’s dress and burn it,
Warming my hands and illuminating my night
I must feel my body and ride the waves of my emotions with shuddering ecstasy
You want me to be good
But I want to be better

Death Certificate

Another day, another death by COVID.

My COVID patient who died today was relatively healthy and young.
While filling out his death certificate, I paused over the ’cause of death’ section:
 
My patient had multi-organ failure with a subsequent cardiac arrhythmia incompatible with life and viral pneumonia causing respiratory failure, however the failure that lead up to his COVID infection was systemic at a societal level.
 
My patient was a prisoner, infected by COVID-19 because he was denied the ability to socially distance, robbed of the right the protect himself.
 
I didn’t know him, but as I studied his body during his final hours I imagined what his life had been like, and wanted to include on his death certificate:
 
Cause of death:
Complications resulting from loss of human rights due to imprisonment
Secondary to the prison-industrial complex
Secondary to class warfare
Secondary to poverty
Secondary to racism
 
I didn’t know him, but I shared pieces of his struggle:
Adverse childhood experiences, trauma on trauma on trauma
 
His premature death is another stone in my pocket
My path is liberation
Wherever his soul is now, I hope he feels liberated too
Liberated from the brown skin which lead to his incarceration which inevitably did him in.

When the High Wears Off

You can drink and smoke and swallow

Sniff and huff and wallow
Burn it up, inject it in
But no amount of noise will silence the din
I hear the roar of your pain
I see the fire in your brain
Anxiety and depression rage
Fueling the words on this page
I’ve tried it all
I’ve had a ball
I’ve lived through hell
Just to tell
What I have learned
What I have earned
Highs are temporary
Where will I be
When my next high wears off
Highs always wear off…
After chasing many a transient high
Which only left me feeling low
I’m building upward toward the sky
Growing that inner glow
I’m creating a sense of safe space to come home to
After another long day of battling anxiety monsters and depression demons
My mental sanctuary is invisible, yet indispensable
It is my daily practice, my intention, my breath
My practice is to remind myself that I belong here
Even if I don’t believe it at first
I am worthy
Even if I don’t allow myself to receive at first
I am a person
Even though I’ve spent a lifetime of feeling lesser-than
Of feeling like I owed my life to strangers
I’ve survived so many dangers
I’m lucky
I’m ready
To start living
To feel beyond high
Cultivating a sustainable solution without bodily pollution
Emotional storms are best weathered while wearing a life vest
So I envelope my chest with positive visualizations
Letting my heart garden blossom and thrive
With this breath, I am alive
I am beyond high

Our Mother’s Face

We thought we could improve perfection, Mama

When we drew lines across your face
Highways of asphalt scars connecting the
Clusters of concrete wounds on your cheeks
High rise buildings offering every luxury but you, Mama
We dig into you without asking, Mama, pounding into your bedrock
Even as you gently rock us to sleep each night, as if our actions are alright
We are the ones who refuse to turn out the lights
We don’t hear your wisdom, Mama, which you sing softly even now
We boast loudly but when do we listen, Mama?
We are shaken to the bone when we drill into you, Mama
Between fracking and petroleum, our hearts are in pandemonium
We make ourselves ill when we poison your blood
Dumping debris into your waters
We choke as we pollute your lungs
Pouring smoke into your atmosphere
We share a single circulatory and respiratory system with you, Mama
Our shortsighted deeds will always come back to haunt us in spades
We drink from your abundant cup, rarely satisfied that we have enough
We pretend to be separate from you even as we depend on you for our every breath, from birth to death
We think we know best but we haven’t fooled the rest, only ourselves
We act big, but we are dust on your mighty shoulders, Mama
Our mother has the most gorgeous face
Deep blue-green eyes and a sparkling smile
Bathed in rich brown skin, holding the miracle of life itself within her
Her beauty cannot be improved by anything man-made
To thrive, she needs only to be loved by those she loves unconditionally, by us
This is her divine lesson of self-love
Caring for the Earth is caring for ourselves
We spring forth from the Earth’s womb, are nourished by her breast, and remain connected to her indefinitely by an unbreakable umbilical cord
Though we mistreat you, we love you and we need you, Mama
You are the only oasis in the vast desert of the universe
We feel calm and content when we are close to you, Mama
Words are not your language
We must show our love for you through actions
Spending quality time with you
Living simply and sustainably
Voting with every transaction
Passing legislation to protect you from destruction by our hands
We have injured you too many times in the name of profit Mama, which only robs ourselves of true wealth: clean air, water and soil
We can’t buy more of you in any store, Mama
When we hurt you, we hurt ourselves more
You wait patiently for us to learn, even as we pillage and burn
You demonstrate how to love more completely, Mama, but that does not excuse our transgressions
This Earth Day, may we pause for reflection on our self-centered predilection
May we hold you in the center of our heart, where you always belonged from the start
Though at times we get distracted, more of your children are treading softly on you each day, Mama
May I be one such child of the Earth, and help others so inspired do the same
Your health depends on what we do today
May we lift our faces to you and see our collective dream come true

My Yoga Teacher

My yoga teacher said

May you live in the heart
May you light up the dark
May you live in the now
May you flow with the Tao
May you bless up
And never come down

My yoga teacher said,
‘Our generation is the smartest one yet, we have all the information we could ever need at our fingertips, yet we still aren’t enlightened- we can’t take 3 steps without melting down’.

True, however:

What I wanted to say to my yoga teacher after class, but didn’t due to my lingering shyness was that we are in the process of becoming enlightened, and yoga teachers are an important part of the sacred process of enlightening others, whether they realize it or not:

One by one, enlightened people share their light with others
As if passing a flame from candle to candle
The glow grows without end, multiplying infinitely.

Sharing our inner light with our fellow beings does not diminish our own glow, but builds a safety net in case our own flame is temporarily blown out- we have a friendly neighbor with a bright source to rekindle us again.

Because we have paid it forward, we have propagated a culture of generosity and abundance.

Let your light shine.

Yoga is a key part of my healing journey. It has changed my relationship with myself and with the world.

To my yoga teacher, I bow in deep gratitude for how they share their light with the world.

To all teachers everywhere across time and space; thank you, and namaste.

Practicing Presence

I have good reason
To feel over-worked and under-paid
Burnt out, with a need to get laid
But good loving is hard to come by

I also have many reasons
To feel hopeful, joyful, grateful
Even satisfied

I’m not gonna lie
I’ve got a flame of desire between my thighs
That you light up with your eyes

Every time I see you, I re-realize
That life is only right here, right now
All we ever have is the present
For the divine gift of your presence, I thank you

Who could ever win the tug-of-war
Between past regrets and future worries?

It is hard to shake off the trauma that clings to me
I try to slip under it, but trauma’s tentacles are tenacious and latch onto me
But I know a secret trick
Without my ego, trauma has nothing to latch onto
I have acquired immunity
I shrink my ego enough to escape trauma’s grasp, float downstream and buoyantly resurface, safely out of reach

When I return from my latest circumnavigation of space-time
And redirect my awareness back to
where I am in this moment
what is happening in this moment
how I feel in this moment
I feel victorious!

Practicing presence is the only way
To be happy, healthy, and free

I wish such peace to thee

Absinthe and Abstinence

Instead of drinking absinthe

I wish I’d practiced abstinence

Absinthe passed through my lips

You followed suit, more than just the tip

I was butter and you were the knife

Wish I could take back that night

Spread out like jam on toast

On a Manhattan mattress, we did the most

It got so hot, we were the roast

But I was the one who got burned

Absinthe, you brought on sweat, blood and tears

Abstinence, you would have spared me much fear

Absinthe, why’d you help me undress?

Abstinence, you would have prevented stress

Absinthe, you never delivered that green fairy

Abstinence, your fruit is sweeter than the ripest berry

Absinthe, under your tutelage I’ve grown wary

Now I practice abstinence

From every Tom, Dick and Harry

and all the other men who didn’t have my best interest at heart-

You protested loudly when I told you we had to part.

You don’t have to understand

You just have to know that you’re not my man.