Different Branches on the Same Tree

Anthony Delanoix

Holy Wow.

I came back from a walk to do a few errands in town to an amazing horoscope. But before you read it, I have to tell you what I was talking to myself about on the walk.

Lately I’ve been noticing that I need to start making time each day where I’m not working, not in front of the computer, and not taking care of other people. In other words, time to just be and to be in that kind of unscripted space where ideas arise. Or maybe they don’t. But the point is to make the space to connect with myself. Mani suggested I take an hour a day for this — rather than falling into that big either/or trap of thinking “I need a week’s vacation somewhere beautiful with no obligations.”

This need is arising especially in relation to my work right now; I keep having that nagging feeling that I need to be listening for something, and I can’t really tell you what it is. (Hence the need to listen.) But that is not going to happen by itself. I have GOT to make time to do non-work things that bring me joy and connect me with my sense of joy, purpose, and creativity. I am not a machine.

Yesterday morning, I did just that and took a nice walk in the woods while Pearl was at Hebrew school. The point wasn’t that I would get all still and blissed-out and lightning bolts of inspiration would strike (though damn, don’t you love it when that happens?). More that all of that mind-noise is a constant in the background, like a radio that you can’t turn off where no station comes in clearly, and unless I do things that are grounding and joyful — walk in the woods, have coffee with a friend, just sit and doodle or read a book — I won’t be able to get the volume down low enough as to be able to hear my own self, or soul.

Not shockingly, during my time in the woods, I took some pictures and sent myself a few random thoughts via text that later formed the basis of a newsletter (you can read it — and subscribe — here, by the way!). And when I finally did sit down later to write and work, I felt so much more present, able, ready, and glad to be there. It’s amazing how even when you’re self-employed, you can forget that you GET TO DO THIS and turn it into the very daily grind you left behind.

Anyway, I digress. Just now as I was walking home after stops at the copy shop, CVS pharmacy, and post office, I was thinking about comparing and how it feels and tastes. It feels small, tight, mean, and yucky. It tastes like a loose filling — bits of metal in my mouth that I can’t wash out, no matter how many times I rinse. Then I thought about how not comparing feels: Spacious, beautiful, connected, and easy. It tastes like jam made from fruit that was picked that very same day.

I passed a tree that was just starting to show some flowering buds along its many branches. I looked at its trunk, the biggest branches, and then the increasingly smaller ones from each of those. I thought about my life and work as a branch, and other people’s lives and work as other branches. And whoa. I know this isn’t an original metaphor, but something clicked so completely for me. It was amazing.

My branch and your branch? They are dependent on the same strong trunk, the same healthy root system, the same soil, the same rain, the same sun. One vibrant branch is an indication of a strong system. And if I think my branch and your branch are separate, I am operating from an incredibly limited perspective that is based on pure illusion. Neither of our branches would even exist without the whole tree! What’s good for you is good for me, and vice versa.

I furthered this personal revelation out loud — quietly, mind you, but out loud nonetheless, as if often my habit while walking and working something out. It felt so so good to come to this today.

And then I got home and made a turkey sandwich with avocado on a whole wheat pita (yum) and read this horoscope. (OK, now you can read it!)


Capricorn & Capricorn Rising

Wednesday’s new moon wants me to feel it. Cozy up to it. Revel in the realness of it. Joy is my healer. Pleasure is my therapist. Amusement is my muse.

The inner-revolution that I am currently experiencing is one that needs a whole lot of happy to make it happen. Any amount that I can cultivate and allow myself to fully experience is a win. I do so consciously. I carve out time to explore what brings me bliss. I dedicate time to all things that delight my senses. I work at creating a life filled with wonder.

I am not afraid to feel good. And when I am, I help myself work through it so that I can feel the power of healing my self-denying tendencies. I work through it because I owe myself that much. I work through it so that I can honor the sacrifices my ancestors made to get me here.

I laugh, I love, I live for the benefit of my entire family tree. From my roots to the fruits yet to have ripened.

I use Wednesday’s new moon to feel the pulsating power of my creative energy. I use Wednesday’s new moon to give in to what that force wants to create next. I use Wednesday’s new moon to say yes to the projects that ground me in life-enhancing expressions of joyful healing.

*The new moon in Taurus, occurring on April 26th, is a new moon to manifest with. There hasn’t been a moon this open to interpretation in a very long time. Read more


The bolded lines? Um, yeah. So exactly where I’m at right now. Taking time away from the things you HAVE to do, the producing, the responding, the planning, the tangible, the to-do lists, and making time for the things you WANT to do is a crucial aspect, at least for me, of being a creative person. In fact, rather than detracting from my work, having a full life always, always enriches it.

We need to do our part in tending the soil of the tree, rather than expecting the flowers on those branches to bloom all by themselves. And when I tend to “my” soil, the truth is I’m tending to yours, too. We are all connected. Everything else is pure illusion.

Don’t Burn Out or Numb Out: On Pacing Myself for Long-Haul Resistance

I’m having a moment of feeling so sad. Just so sad.

I’m watching live video from Standing Rock. Reading about the revocation of transgender rights, such as they were extended by the Obama administration. An “approach” to gun violence in Chicago so racist it made my head spin. And so much more. I have been trying to be intentional about staying focused on community and connection, truth-telling and self-care, all as the basis for long-term resisting. But I worry about my own blind spots and will keep coming back, knowing that I don’t know what I don’t know but determined to keep peeling back the layers so as not to be a walking part of the systems that got us here in the first place.

I know that’s what we’re up against — the long-term part. Sometimes I seriously doubt that we’ll ever “recover” from this moment in American and world history. We were already so broken, so much unfaced, unacknowledged, unhealed, that this feels like a chasm in the earth that will just grow wider and wider, with more and more people falling into it. The ones who will fall in fastest — we all know who these groups are. Immigrants. Muslims. People of color. Poor women. LGBT folks. Jews. Groups of people that are each so diverse it’s a preposterous failure of language to even list them this way.

I’m sitting here at my kitchen table feeling sad and angry at the greed and white power sitting in the highest office of this country, while those who try to protect the water that serves 18 million Americans are being forced off of their own land. While those whose blood, sweat, and tears built everything we’re sitting on get sold down the river. While hardworking business owners and mamas and fathers and students and musicians and children and the people who change the goddamn sheets at the nice hotels where these politicians lay their unconscionable heads at night fear for their safety, their homes, their livelihoods, their families, and their lives.

I say “their” knowing full well that any idea that my world is more secure is an illusion, one I refuse to get lulled into believing, though must also confront everyday as directly as possible if I’m going to be of any use to the collective. So tonight, my friends, I’m just feeling all the feelings. I have no actions to put forth or suggestions to make or knowledge about how to deal with this. I know there are a zillion resources and I’m plugging into ones I feel like I can commit to, rather than flitting around, both in real life and virtually — in the forms of giving small amounts of money (believing everything counts), time (believing everything counts), and learning (my own, because lord knows I have so fucking much to learn and unlearn).

The question of “is it enough” isn’t one I spend time worrying about; we each have to pace ourselves in order to neither burn out nor numb out. It’s no accident that Mani and I are boot-camping a new schedule starting this week; I’m already seeing just a few days in just how much I need this structure in order to take better physical care of myself, and that my work — both in the sense of livelihood and providing for my family as the sole earner right now, and in the sense of contributing to the Resistance in meaningful ways — all hinge on this.

Sleep, water, food, friends, moving the body, time to write. All of this needs to be tended to every single day — something I have typically sucked at for a long time. I’m not saying that as self-abuse; it’s just true, and even though it’s often hard, saying what’s true and acting accordingly really is the path to freedom. My freedom. Your freedom. My sisters. My brothers. I hurt for us. And I’m not giving up. I will never, ever give up.

No matter what else, find people you can share with. Find spaces where you feel safe to come and just be — where you know you can show up as you are and be met and supported. We have to keep being here for each other. This so-called government wants us to implode. To be scattered in so many directions we lose steam. Please keep reaching out, writing, and showing up in whatever ways makes sense for your life.  And maybe even in some ways that disrupt your life, too.

How and what are you doing when it comes to finding your footing here? All I know for sure is that there is a lot of stumbling, and that we are truly stronger together.

* * *

If We Divide, We Don’t Conquer by Carmen Rios :: Read
White Guilt is Actually White Narcissism by Emma Lindsay :: Read
I Am Not Your Negro :: GO SEE THIS FILM

The Roar Sessions: Candace J. Taylor

On “Being Nice”
by Candace J. Taylor

Candace J. Taylorthere is a real part of me
that isn’t “nice”
that part of me,
she lives in the shadows
choking
drowning in a pool of
unshed tears
frustrated and
                FED UP
of hiding
and being misunderstood…

 

The other day I was home, washing the dishes while listening to my son play in the background.  All of a sudden he joyfully yells, “I love destruction!”

My immediate instinct was intrigue, curiosity.  But some voice swooped in and erected a wall blocking that curiosity with bricks and mortar of “should” and “should nots.”

“Destruction?!”
“That’s bad.”
“You should tell him to think about peace, not destruction.”

Why?

Why “should” I tell my son to not think about destruction and instead he “should” focus on peace?

Destructions is inevitable.
Dare I say, normal, a part of life.

Kali.
Shiva.
Omega.

One of my many jobs as his mother is to prepare him for life in all its natural rhythms, its ups & downs, ebbs and flows.  Destruction happens and it’s not without value or purpose.  How do I prepare him for the fullness that is life if I choose to shelter him or re-write his experiences into what they “should” be rather than what they are?

Why do we tend to identify “life done right” as blissful days frolicking through meadows of wildflowers with rainbow-filled skies and unicorns with a million bucks in the bank?

That is not “life done right”, that is illusion, maya.  This dreamland that is both created and chased in many ways is a pursuit of convenience and comfort and that life has softened us on all levels; energetically, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally – wholly.

Perhaps it’s not destruction itself that is the issue, but rather how it makes us feel… uncomfortable.  Its not that destruction is good or bad, right or wrong, perhaps its about our inability to both BE in discomfort and with discomfort; resisting, avoiding, distracting ourselves from the experience and sensations of discomfort as soon as possible.

Recently, I’ve been revisiting the yamas (a list of attitudes towards our environment) and niyamas (a list of attitudes towards ourselves) from the Yoga Sutras.  The two yamas I have been thinking about a lot in particular are ahimsa (non-violence/non-harm) and satya (truthfulness).  In many ways, interpretation of these yamas seem so clear; don’t hurt others and be honest.  But…

What if my truthfulness causes harm?

Should I lie, breaking the practice of satya so that I can “keep the peace”, maintain “status quo” and “do no harm”? OR should I tell the truth?

One thing I am certain of is that to do otherwise, to lie to “keep the peace” may, on some level, feel like it protects others from harm but know that it isn’t without its harmful impact.  Silencing my voice and performing a part focused on erecting maya, veils of illusion, to protect you from experiencing harm or discomfort ends up harming me and you in different and similar ways.

We both loose an opportunity to practice being both connected while being whole individuals with complex feelings, thoughts, emotions and a diverse tapestry of stories to draw on for support as well as to make in a moment of discomfort.

This maya, illusion we have co-created and, in our own ways, chasing may take a revolution of practiced honesty, among other things, to undo. That’s ok, hope is not lost. On some level, quite possibly a whole heck of a lot of levels, this may feel like destruction.  It may not feel “nice.”

But who’s to say destruction will lead to all things bad and wrong, whose to say it can’t lead to liberation, rebirth, a new beginning. Who’s to say that folks involved in a “not-so-nice-but truthful” conversation will fracture their relationship and never be friends again.  Perhaps that very same difficult conversation will be just the foundation needed to both nourish and grow the relationship between those conversing and ultimately within the self.

**

Candace J. TaylorCandace is an intuitive healer and teacher dedicated to using her studies and experiences to provide a sacred space for transformational healing. Candace creates an environment with her students that are authentic and nurturing with an intentional focus on the whole-body connection.

Candace’s passions for holistic healing, social and environmental justice have led her on a radical journey that began as a child, in the kitchen, by her mother and grandmother’s sides. She learned all about her Caribbean ancestral and cultural herbal healing practices and the use of food, roots, fermentation and herbs as medicine.

Candace feels her grandmother’s hands guiding hers every time she connects to the Earth while gardening, preparing food for cooking or remedies for healing. She uses this ancestral wisdom each day in her personal life and her work with clients as a Holistic Health Coach & Chef and Wellness Educator.

Her journey as a healer and educator continued to evolve taking her through labor and birth doula training, 200-hour yoga teacher training, Healing Touch and Reiki Level 1 & 2 training. Candace’s studies and practices have been deepened by her work with shamans in Vermont and Guatamala as well as her immersion in studying sacred indigenous rites of passage for women.

She is an expert in the fields of social justice, anti-oppression and trauma with almost two decade’s worth of experience. She has created and facilitated various workshops and retreats and has spoken and taught at numerous conferences, colleges, teacher trainings and events.

Candace is currently immersed in advanced yogic studies with her teachers Will  & Susan Duprey through the Hathavidya school where she received her Holistic Health Coach certification.

Additionally, Candace holds a B.A. in American Studies and Education from Smith College and a M.Ed. in Education and Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Vermont.

In her free time Candace enjoys cooking, studying herbalism and Ayurveda, dancing, all-things-food & eating related, being in her organic home garden, reading, practicing yoga and spending time with her partner Tony, son David, dog Roxy, chickens and dear friends, and family.

More about Candace:
candacetaylor.wix.com/candacewellness#!about-candace/c14p0

More about Healin Irie: healinirie.com

**

The Roar Sessions is a weekly series featuring original guest posts by women of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid and Other Notes to Self

Dowager

I am not flashy. I have no fancy packaging or branding. And you know what dawned on me this afternoon? I have been going about my business (of building a business) largely in blissful ignorance as to “what else is out there” in terms of writing groups and other comparable offerings.

Of course, I’m aware of some of the many wonderful opportunities to write and learn and practice. I love encountering these and feeling like I’m in such amazing company.

What I didn’t realize before this afternoon is that I have a general philosophy about this. But it seems that I do, and it is this: Be inspired or walk the other way.

Notes to self (and you, if you can relate):

  • Don’t drink the kool-aid!
  • Comparison is a rabbit hole that leads to envy, insecurity, and self-pity. NOT GOOD!

One nasty gulp of this near-fatal cocktail, and boom — I’m reeling drunk on imaginary stories about other people’s lives, what they’re really thinking, who has it better or easier, etc. And there is simply no good way to wrap up this dismal paragraph, because the list, of course, could go on and on.

And on.

The thing is, I’ve reached the 72-hour mark of a headache that, at its peaks, has been in migraine territory. It started Sunday, reaching a crescendo that evening with nausea and tears, and has hung on stubbornly though two night and now a third day. I’m hopeful by tomorrow it will have made itself scarce and I can continue with my regularly scheduled programming, which involves — rides on, even — not being flat and foggy of brain.

Last night, I tried to write here, and after several incoherent paragraphs, scrapped the effort and sidled up in bed next to Mani to watch Downton Abbey, a show I resisted for a long time (sure it would be stuffy and dull), only to fall for hook, line, and sinker. The costumes alone are enough to keep me watching.

On Saturday, we looked at art. And it was like coming home, to enter into those gallery spaces together after being largely homebound, as a couple, for well over a year now. We began in the gift shop, ooohing and aaahing over books, bags, jewelry, and even socks (Mani bought a pair that say “I got this,” so fitting — haha — seeing as wearing socks is part of her physical therapy as she slowly recovers from debilitating neuropathy in her feet).

Our one-night getaway at The Porches Inn in North Adams, right across the street from the museum itself, could not have been more welcome and wonderful; we are already scheming to save up enough for another jaunt to the Berkshires. And I can’t wait to go back with the kids, too. In short, I am hungry for life — a good sign, by all counts.

Notes to self (and you, if you can relate):

  • When you’re feeling physically vulnerable, everything else feels vulnerable.
  • This is a good time to practice not catastrophizing.
  • Listen to your wife (or husband, or BFF, or sister, or therapist) when they tell you that even if you really were down for the count for a few days, nothing is going to come to a screeching halt before crumbling before your eyes, like a cartoon character’s demise.

Self-employment (oh, and life) takes huge stores of faith. It’s good to remember that I’m in it for the slow burn on the slow path, not the one-trick pony or the flash in the pan, not a firework or the zero-to-sixty, not a brilliant storm that puts on a good show before clearing skies and returning to normal.

Notes to self (and you, if you can relate):

  • This is the new normal.
  • There is no normal.
  • What’s normal keeps changing, ain’t that the truth.
  • Ground down, sister.

What I know is that the chair beneath my ass, the keys beneath my flying fingers, my wife’s soft, soft hands, my kid’s voice on the other end of the line — these are solid and real. So is the food in the fridge and the hot water that pours from the shower head, over my physical, naked body. Amen.

Yesterday morning, I wrote on Facebook: I couldn’t sleep and was writing in my head. Sometimes I wonder if most of my poems and blog posts don’t amount to basically this.(Variations: I was falling asleep; I was waking up; I was napping; I was having a dream within a dream.)

I wrote this on Facebook because the words I wanted to write here had gone the way of dreams — and I was disappointed. And a little worried. Each day, I’ve come back to try again, competing with the headache that has kept on keeping on.

So what to do? I napped. I snuggled. I worked on other things. I showed up for the writers in my groups and wrote right alongside these women whose words and stories bring music and poetry and heartbreak and joy to my door, each entry a gift to unwrap slowly and savor.

I marveled at the shared insecurities voiced by so many people I write with and encounter through this work, the nearly universal doubts about what counts as “real” writing, what’s good enough. I found myself feeling ponderous, and stood before our new bookshelves, in silent conversation with so many titles that have traveled with me, loyal companions all.

I got the web page ready for this summer’s Unfurl retreats — two sets of dates for doing this very thing in person: Getting together, but not to compare, not to measure up, not to get ahead, and not to prove a thing. I’m not interested in any of that. I’ve spent my whole life so far wanting to blast open the whole charade of some people being better or cooler than others. It’s all kind of trickery and fuckery and no, I’m not sorry. I don’t buy it.

Maybe if I were flashier, I could find a way to make a lot more money. Maybe.

Notes to self (and you, if you can relate):

  • If making money alone were the goal, most beautiful things — art, photography, music, memoir, poetry — would never be born.
  • Imagine having a baby driven mostly by the goal that the baby would grow up, become rich, and take care of you.
  • It’s preposterous! Poor baby.

I won’t do that to my babies. Not the actual growing-up ones, nor the ones that are my writing groups, the coaching work I’m doing more and more of again, the words themselves that bless me when they come.

On the other hand — and I’m Jewish so there are at least three of those — I like making money and taking good care of my family, and there is no shame there, only deep pride, gratitude, commitment, and love.

Violet Crawley, a fabulous curmudgeon also known as the Dowager Countess of Grantham, said it well: “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s an atmosphere.”

Notes to self (and you, if you can relate):

    • Atmospheric changes are unavoidable. But creating an atmosphere where there needn’t be one at all — that is just silly and a waste of time and your God-given gifts.
    • Take a bath instead and watch Netflix until you feel better.
    • A headache will not bring anything to a halt.
    • Not every blog post has to knock it out of the park and not every day in the life of your business (writing, parenting, job, marriage) will feel winning.

Just don’t be a slave to the illusion of flashy, perfect, or easy.

It’s never the whole story — and rarely the most interesting one, at that.