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saying YES to being kind to myself [a co-created list]

say yes
a wee paper YES collage

I recently made a commitment to myself to do something kind for myself every day in the year 2011. It might seem obvious to some people that one should do this but, in truth, I am honestly not that great at it. I beat myself up a lot and often don’t make sure I have everything I need to thrive. I realized that any commitments I’ve had a hard time keeping in the past are directly related to not being kind to myself, to not really loving myself. Kindness seems tangible and quantifiable so I thought I’d make a list of what that looks like. What does it mean to be kind to myself?

One bit of kindness I allowed myself was to go to First Thursday at Pioneer Square here in Seattle to view some art with my youngest daughter, Gigi. I brought my journal with me so as we waited for our bus to come, I asked Gigi to help me write a list of kind things I can do for myself. She was super helpful and I knew I would get something wonderful and pure by asking an eight-year old. What follows are mostly her ideas and a few of mine.

    Love myself.
    Speak kindly to myself.
    Take warm baths.
    Treat myself with respect.
    Drink plenty of water.
    ENJOY LIFE.
    Keep myself healthy.
    Be kind to my body.
    ENJOY TREATS and TOYS.
    Don’t say, “I’m a bad person.”
    Have fun!
    Do stuff that makes me feel good.
    Believe in myself.
    Tell myself I’m beautiful.
    Say NO to bad stuff and bad people.
    Avoid mean people.
    Say YES to what is good.
    Be myself.
    Find what I need. (One of my faves from Gigi. When I asked her what she meant, she said, “Just whatever you need, you should try to find it.”)
    Be free!
    Play more.
    Laugh a lot.
    Stay warm. (This seems obvious but I often forget this.)
    Allow myself to receive goodness.
    Allow and cultivate balance in my life.
    Make space for creativity.
    Dwell in the present moment.
    Choose joy and curiosity.

Do you have any ideas to share? I’d love to hear them.

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angel of the quake [or the patriarchy is crumbling]

angel of the quake

she clings to his leg
holding up the fractured pillars
(white marble with purple veins)

she clings to him
looking up with such devotion
(the master feeds her)

she clings to his leg
holding on to a crumbling world

she is in the rubble now
her hands bleeding
seeking his eyes

he doesn’t see her
his eyes averted
(he sees only all the work he must do)

neither of them see
the water rising
but she is under first
the water filling her lungs
(he doesn’t notice)

he leaves to
find an oar

An ekphrastic poem I wrote inspired by the photo “Angel of the Quake” by Manuel Álvarez that I had the privilege to see at the Frye Art Museum as part of the Manuel Álvarez Bravo: Mexico’s Poet of Light exhibit.

***

The patriarchy is crumbling.  Creating chaos.  Creating opportunity.

The poet Holderin wrote

Danger itself/

Fosters the rescuing power

Danger and risk can serve to lift us out of our complacency.  It’s certainly true that comfort seems to keep us deadened in many ways.  Clinging to crumbling pillars will not end well.  We can co-create a new reality.

Embrace the new.

Imagine new possibilities.

Stay woke.

Love.

***

Note:  Image is a piece in I did in 24 hours as part of 14/48:  The World’s Quickest Theater Festival in January 2014, now in a private collection.  We were given a prompt, a support, and 24 hours to create a work of art in whatever medium we chose. I didn’t know at the time that would one day have an orange-haired clown as POTUS but that’s how the Unconscious works, isn’t it?

manifesto!

Discover

I once had a teacher in college that recommended that we write an artist’s manifesto.  It is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had and continues to inform my life and my work.  I recommend that you make one.  If you do, please share it with me.  I would love to read it.   Here’s mine:

I am for art that reflects back the war in the human heart so that it can heal.
I am for art that ignites the imagination.
I am for art that exposes and challenges hypocrisy.
I am for art that unapologetically tells the truth, inspires others to do the same and encourages people to participate.
I am for art that is accessible to everyone and is co-created by the communities where it lives.
I am for art that tells a new story for humanity: A story of unity, empowerment, freedom and tolerance.
I am for art that inspires a call to action.

“Conformity and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men and of the human frame,
A mechanized automaton.” ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

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individual versus(?) collective

Did you watch this? Please do. This is absolutely what happens when you “act up” in a way that isn’t part of the sheeple social contract–you know, the one that you actually didn’t participate in creating but seem to be expected to follow?. I was once making sidewalk chalk drawings of hearts and the words “love” and “peace” on a private corporation’s “property”. A private security guard didn’t see me but later saw me running my hands in the water of the fountain and asked if I was drawing I said no (because I wasn’t in that moment). I asked why and he said someone had been defacing their property. I actually had no idea it was private property because, as the guy in this video points out, it looks public and the public is welcome there as long as they follow the unposted rules.

If nearly everything is “owned” by a tiny percentage of the world and they get to tell the rest of us that we aren’t allowed to be there unless we follow their rules (which are enforced by security), we are indeed living in a police state. Living in a society with this kind of oppression makes me feel afraid and vulnerable.

I have been thinking a lot about this topic of oppression of late. We have people occupying Wall Street in protest and people seem to feel powerless against this huge machine of corporations, globalization and colonialism. People who are comfortably residing under some sort of paternal umbrella (like working for Microsoft,the government or being married) feel a sense of “freedom” that is completely false. They get what they get as long as they follow the rules. Freedom doesn’t come from a paycheck or even a roof over your head. It comes from a sense of sovereignty.

So what does THAT mean? It means supreme, independent authority. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I frequently write about boundaries and sovereignty. There are reasons for this.

My father once hit me with a belt. I refused to cry. He said, “I am going to keep hitting you until you cry.”

He did.

I did.

Did he win? No. But then again, neither did I. That’s the problem with trying to break someone’s will: It only creates more pain.

I was in a relationship with a man who had a hard time with boundaries. He would wake me up in the middle of the night, petting my back because he couldn’t sleep. I told him I need to sleep and asked him why he did that. He said, “Because it makes me feel better.” I responded that it was keeping me awake and I needed to sleep. I asked him to stop and rolled over to go back to sleep. He got angry and left. I was glad to see him go. I deserve to have my needs and my body respected. I am indeed the sovereign queen of my world. My life, my body and my heart is much more peaceful without that kind of disrespect. I made the right choice to say, “Get off my property!”

This brings me back to this video. Is it okay for these private organizations to say “Get off my property!”? It seems that there is an inherent tension between collective responsibility and individual liberty. If I want people like my ex-lover to respect my body, my needs and my boundaries, shouldn’t I be willing to respect the boundaries of a private organization? In theory, I would say that the answer is yes. However, when there is an imbalance of power, sometimes there needs to be a revolution in order to get things more balanced out. While I’m not sure we have the right to intrude on the rights of others in order to get our needs met, whether it’s a church’s staircase, the Apple store, or my body, we clearly need to keep a sense of revolution alive.

I truly believe that the real revolution lives in my own heart. After all, this is all I can control. I believe my part in this is holding myself fulling accountable and not blaming some external entity for my life. It also means not taking on a sense of responsibility for others and letting them blame me for their plight. Choosing to be an agent for peace means seeing the world as a whole system and considering everyone’s needs in the mix. This takes awareness and deep listening. It takes caring for the well-being of others. It takes owning our power instead of giving it away and, more importantly, it takes sharing power with others. If agreements are truly co-created, we can all honor them. If boundaries are known, we can honor them or decide we need to take our own sovereign selves elsewhere.

On the individual level, I am still learning how to assert my needs while also being tolerant of difference. In my own psyche it’s sometimes fear that makes the “police” come out but it’s also a need for respect. That seems reasonable to me. The guy with the megaphone makes a good point about it not being illegal to talk into one but imagine if everyone in that square was talking on a megaphone. It would be an unruly, cacophonous mess! Law and social contracts exist for a good reason. The agreements and boundaries we have both collectively and individually help us to manage that tension between individual liberty and collective responsibility.

As I watch the protesters and the police around the world, I am looking into the police state inside my own heart. I believe I have a right to having boundaries and to having them respected. If I am in a shared space with my children and their needs conflict with mine, I believe I have a right to ask for what I need but I believe I have a responsibility to listen to their needs as well. If I believe I get to have the final say about how things will flow because I am the “owner”, is that fair? The point that the man in the video is making is that we only truly own ourselves. I agree. Because of that, I am looking at what it means to be 100% responsible for myself and the myriad ways I have been waiting around expecting someone else to either take care of me or define boundaries for me so I don’t have to take responsibility. I have often not used my voice and moved from my own core truth. I haven’t said “no” when I should out of fear of loss or punishment.

When you’ve been beaten until you cried or had someone get angry when you ask for your body to be respected, it becomes scary to self-advocate. We have to do it anyway. We have to be courageous enough to stand our ground and own our power and we have to allow others to do the same. We also have to let peace live our own hearts.

I want to be able to honestly look in the mirror and say I don’t want to control someone else because I feel completely in control of myself. I suspect the world will look much different when I reach that level of awareness. In the meantime, like the world outside, I am a work-in-progress and I learn a little bit more about respect every day.

What do you think? Where do the police live in your own heart? Where do you keep yourself bound out of fear? Do you believe we can have explicit agreements with one another that can be maintained and honored without punishment?

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integrity, co-creation and the word

a story

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. -Aristotle

I believe this is true for everything in life; I believe every moment is an act of creation with an infinite number of possible outcomes depending on the choices we make.

When I create a piece of art, It is often quite mysterious to me. I don’t have an end in mind; it’s an improvised act of spontaneous creation. If everything we see or experience outwardly has some sort of inward significance because we are co-creating it with the Universe in the present moment, it is useful, I think, not to be overly concerned with reflecting on the past or on what will come of it, but rather to enjoy and appreciate it fully.

*note* I was interrupted whilst typing this the other day. The interruption fits this theme. Sort of. Read on.

I was typing this at a coffee shop. I got up to a get a refill and as I did so an older man engaged me in conversation by asking what my tattoo means (for the curious, it means gratitude). He was charming and engaging and told me many lovely things about myself. Me, being a highly curious individual and because I found the conversation both fascinating and enjoyable, stayed with it. The gist of it is that he wanted to “own” me and “take care of me” like a “daughter” and be my “daddy/dom”. I have had interesting propositions in the past but this one was especially interesting for a couple of reasons:

1.) The day before this happened, I wrote this post proclaiming an end to my days as a girl with daddy issues. I also had a conversation with a friend the previous day about relationships and integrity during which I told my friend, “If I wanted to, I could find a sugar daddy tomorrow who wants to take care of me but that’s not what I want”. (Did you catch that? I said TOMORROW!)

2.) The other reason it’s interesting is that a couple of days before this happened, I wrote this post about energy vampires as it relates to relationships and how co-created these relationships are.

This experience taught me an invaluable lesson about the focusing part of the Law of Attraction. We really are co-creating this experience with the Universe and the word really is powerful. I will continue to set my intentions and be even more focused with my intentions. Here are some new statements:

I am attracting my strong, healthy, happy, supportive, loving, peaceful, Beloved Soul Mate to myself.

I am attracting all the financial security I will ever need.

The Universe it conspiring to bring me more and more goodness with every breath I take.

I am healthy and happy.

My children are healthy and happy.

The world becomes more peaceful and loving every day.

And so it is.