Black mom in Africa nursing

It’s World Breastfeeing Week, August 1 through 7.


As I said on my facebook page, you may want to start here, with this 6 minutes from NPR:


This issue– when I first heard about it, made me so sad that I created a spontaneous 3 minute video that was very emotional:

The video below has more balance, and shares a very personal story:

The NPR reporter ends her story with these words:

“I also got help from a lactation consultant, and made it through”

What leaves me sad and confused, is this– how in HELL did we get to the place where the “lactation consultants” (yes, I am using sneer quotes, due to the business end of this phenomenon) are prescribing equipment, pads, and accessories enough to fuel an entire AISLE at the local Target or K-Mart? That’s right, an entire AISLE next to the one for babies who get formula/bottle fed.hqdefault

New families, please BE AWARE that not all lactation specialists are the same. And even those covered by your medical insurance may be suspect for ulterior motives.

Tried and True…

Still coming at you…

Is this community: http://www.lllusa.org/

La Leche League:

Don't be fooled!

Don’t be fooled!

La Leche League International (LLLI) (La Leche is Spanish for “the milk”) is an international nonprofit advocacy group that distributes information on and promotes breastfeeding. It was founded in 1956 in Franklin Park, Illinois as “La Leche League” and has a presence in more than 85 countries.”

(from wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Leche_League)

When YOU need help, go for the GOLD!



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Consolidating Power, Pride, Privilege and Purpose

My image– of who I have been since late April and how I am living is straight out of the film, Gravity:

I have been spinning and spinning since I left New England this past spring and breathing into the full catastrophe of an unexpected series of unfortunate (and “DEEPLY-fortunate-but-how-did-I-know-THEN!”) life events. My life is “gelling”  here in the Pacific Northwest. Things are not only unfolding EXACTLY the way that they should, but I am moving forwards with optimism, enthusiasm, and direction.

I have had most amazing and heart felt community support from many places. Thank you all.

This essay/blog will go out to as many of those places as I can remember. I am moving into Fall consolidating my efforts, and quantifying my skill set.

For my patreon.com/doctor0 supporters (www.patreon.com/DoctorO), my “Go Fund Me” Campaign donors (https://www.gofundme.com/support-me-writing-down-the-bones), and the other folks who have floated me financially and supported me emotionally through the summer, THANK YOU!!!

With your support, I now:

  1. regularly record and air a WEEKLY 15 minute radio show and podcast, designed for listening in one setting or as three, 5 minute episodes


2. Fabulously  flaunt the Madwoman persona that I so feared 15 years ago:  by dancing in front of a samba band in the procession for all species this May/mariposa

supporting the naked bike riders by blowing bubbles for the kids/

naked bike riders

blowing bubbles and spouting my (genuine) love for Jesus,





in front of the nasty guy with the bullhorn calling me a fornicator, at the Bellingham Gay Pride March/joining the Echoes Congregation in their LGBT pride focused worship service:

song of solomon quote

(and having the honor of reading that  “Song of Solomon” psalm–“you’d sound great, reading the phone book” a 30-something man gushed afterwards) /dancing, as the singer at the Mount Vernon Unity Church sang of community connection, when Spirit moved me…/committing to my MEMOIRS for real …

Public Service Announcement:

I just saw “Girl Trip”** and something about the message of the movie that rose above the stereotypes has to do with that yearning for deep sensual/ sexy/ spiritual connection with other good women. And that white ameriKKKa sees something in “us” that is always too loud, too brash, too forward. Yet deeply craves it as well. 

**The trailer is HORRIBLE. Just see the movie. And Black women get to play Black women, NOT TYLER PERRY.

Writing memoirs, I  attend a weekly group and get feedback from 3 white elders in their late 70’s through early 90’s. If THEY “grokk” what I write, then I am meeting my goal of becoming ACCESSIBLE, as I remain mystical.

Because now I know what I am. I am a Seer: a person who is supposed to be able, through supernatural insight, to see what the future holds…an expert who provides forecasts of the economic or political future…”our seers have grown gloomier about prospects for growth”…archaic a person who sees something specified….”a seer of the future”

 Zhinni (Black Lilith) - 2nd House

I can look back over my life and SEE that I have always been 5 to 15 years “out of synch” with whatever the ideas are of the larger community: socialized medicine. Home births and abortions. Alternative medicine complimenting the conventional. Inter-racial loving. Community living. Ecstatic enjoyment of life! Not so much seeing the future as seeing with CLARITY. And being good at seeing unusual situations and seeing from impossible angles.

I hope at 60 I can relax into that 15 year gap. It has been a life torture. I can now see it’s just me– choleric as ever and impatient dancing into a world that likes to take it’s transformations slowly.  Culture-change





Posted in Apocalypse Participaton, Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness, Phoenix Rising, Temple of the Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Writing My Memoir, Everyone!

I am settling for the summer at this farm:

the one day old calf takes TWO of these, twice a day...

the one day old calf takes TWO of these, twice a day…

Time to write, again.

I am coming out as a psychically sensitive woman from an oppressed minority in AmeriKKKa, who developed many amazing strategies and coping mechanisms to survive in a culture of crazy making conradictions and trauma. Those strategies served my African American slave descent smart girl, sexy, privileged self quite nicely.
smart girls
Until twelve years ago, when they did not.

I wrote about that experience, as an essay titled, “Waking From Despair” featured in the complication “Hope Beneath Our Feet”:

As I said, time to write, again.

noon at farmNow 60, I coming out of my second serious “spiritual emerge and SEE/initiatory process” I intend to share  the truths that I have seen, and the ways that I was silenced/ mimimized/ shamed and blamed for seeing them.

The tools I have developed– strategies that served quite well to get me through long days in the belly of the conventional medical beast–generalize to many or us and to our experiences.

The money will allow me to PROCEED with my writing, while simply doing my part at the farm. I won’t have to aggressively look for ways to pay the basics for July and August: car payment/ car insurance/ car repairs for July = $865.00

And, you patrons and donors will get “preach and teach it” video and voice recording updates, so I can shape the stories with feedback, as I go!

we can do itHo Ho Ho and Tally Ho!


(Oh yes one thing. My spelling of “AmeriKKKa” has everything to do with the title of my memoir. At 60, a deepening understanding of where my country has been, where it is, and where it may be going underscores it all)…

“I describe myself, in 6 words or less, as “a black bohemian refugee from ‘Negroland’ “.  I was born into a time and place where the politically correct names for my people have shifted: from “colored” to “negro” to “Black” to “African-American”. I choose to add the description “slave descent”, to distinguish my story from that of 1st 2nd and now 3rd generation immigrants to AmeriKKKa from sub-Saharan Africa in this century.

My now 91 year old aunt traced my mother’s family line back to an ancestor named Savannah Curry in Union Point, Georgia. I can recite with pride my place in that lineage: I am Opeyemi mother of A*** and grandmother to M***, myself the daughter of Alfredine, who was the daughter of Emmie, who was the daughter of Julie, who was the daughter of Savannah Curry born into slavery.

Seven known generations in AmeriKKKa. Probably more. Too painful to go back, right now.  census-of-1860My aunt traced my mother’s family line back through to the 1860 Georgia census, but she stopped, there. Enslaved Africans were not listed by name; the list was simply a list of plantation owners’ property. First, the rugs. Then, the furniture. Then, the enslaved Africans.

On that list, my ancestor was identifiable, only because of the family’s story that goes with her. That Savannah was the mixed-race child of the plantation owner. That a good black man had married her enslaved mother, and gone on to have several black children with her. My aunt identified Savannah in that census report as the first child on that list. The one listed as “mulatto” under “a negress” with “three pickaninnies” listed by age on the lines below.

All honor to my ancestors; these people who were not slaves, but whose condition was slavery.

cash rewards of $400 to $500 offered...

cash rewards of $400 to $500 offered…

None of my family has yet had the courage to attempt the genealogy on the white side of that family tree.
Too painful.

When my brother had his DNA sampled, he was troubled by the inconsistency that result placed into The Story We Told Ourselves about my father’s side of the family. 73% sub-Saharan African was expected. But 27% European descent? Grandma Pearl said there was a Cherokee woman in the family genealogy on my father’s side. Was that a lie? Did she prefer telling a story of Cherokee blood to the painful realities of “mixing white” and the implications and questions that issue raises regarding power and sexual consent?

Or, did the DNA lab just not have enough data to accurately identify the genes of First Nations folk, since AmeriKKKa has almost exterminated those lines?

Too, too painful to know. “

Well, I am settling in nicely in Whatcom County, here in the Pacific Northwest. Since where I intended to land in Canada is currently ON FIRE, this doesn’t seem like such a bad option. Gotta get serious, about staying balanced. WRITING works, for me.
Any support sent my way, is much appreciated!



Posted in Temple of the Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reporting out, on WELLNESS

Last blog was angry and tense. I warned folks, ahead of the read…

This time, I am feeling very optimistic about my life and my world. I always promise to fulfill my intention to GO THROUGH my emotions, to the other side.

I am not a Buddhist. Mindfulness is wondrous, and I need to rant/scream/shake rattles/ make voodoo dolls and stick pins in them, WHATEVER.

ART from Afiay stay 1

Because I am claiming my identity as an African-AmeriKKKan, slave descent woman who is NOT supposed to be alive. Meaning, on reviewing my life, I understand that:

  1. I was never supposed to have succeeded as well as I have
  2. I was supposed to have “assimilated” more thoroughly, in order to succeed
  3. I have been infected with a level of internalized oppression designed to destroy me.

stay loudAnd yet I rise. And soon, I THRIVE.

Spirit and Synchronicity have gifted me with two months of over the top adventures. Those experiences leave me with new knowledge and understanding of who I am. And, of who I AM NOT.

First, I thank the Mary Ellen Copeland Center for giving me the opportunity to attend “Wrap Around the World” on a scholarship. I breathed through biting my nails two days before I was due to begin driving the 14 hours to the three day international conference when I only had $4 “accessible”. $4 doesn’t fill my tank, and even if I slept in my car, I couldn’t do it on that tight a budget. So when I had no money for gas, I decided that I simply would have to cancel the trip, if my assets didn’t “liquify” on time. We can skip details of the reasons I didn’t have access to more money (and I thank those of you who continue to help me tread water out here, through donations to www.ceremonyheals.com/services), but the essence is this;  AmeriKKKa is so class-driven that we constantly shame, blame, and SEGREGATE people who don’t have steady incomes, stable and documentable addresses, credit cards/”good” credit histories.

Access to my money came through one day before I began to drive. Hallelujah!

WRAP around The World taught me several things. First, I didn’t know that California has been the crucible for the Mad Pride movement over the last 40 years. Thank God (Goddess? God-US?) for those white kids who dropped out from their wealthy families, took too much or the wrong LSD, and ended up on psych wards! Because they had the privilege to get released. And the compassion (through their lived experience) to care about the Ones Left Behind.   WRAP types

When I looked around me, marveling at the amount of MONEY that was clearly being used for preventative mental health in California, I learned that this was due to “The Robin Hood Tax”. California has been taxing it’s millionaires at a rate similar to the REST of us for over 10 years. Much of that money has been channeled into preventive mental health. And it shows.

WRAP supplies

Third, WRAP Around the World got me excited, because of the DIVERSITY of faces and places represented in that room of several hundred folks. Black Christians. Brown Muslims. White social workers. European visitors. Go-Getters from Hong Kong.


Inspired and encouraged, I drove that 14 hours again, three days later, and came back “home” to the Bellingham, Washington area to attend another mental health community event: Hope and Resiliency in a Complex World”

flyer for Hope and Resilience conference

flyer for Hope and Resilience conference

At one of the local high schools, parents, teens, young adults, and “other Carers” shared from the heart strategies on what works, how to live together with more authenticity, and how to get/ Stay well.

Wellness Recovery Action Planning, IN ACTION!

Look to this site, and to my “Temple of the Healthy Spirit” facebook page, for a more in-depth discussion on the practical tools from these two events.

For now, I am happily fatigued, and will do good self care by resting.

Be Well, everyone.

the cartoon

Posted in Apocalypse Participaton, feral M.D. blogs, Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness | 2 Comments

Anger Management Strategies?

It has been just over one month since my life blew apart, and decided to re-integrate into Something I Never Imagined.

I am almost ready to call the horrible psychic rapists ( I do NOT exaggerate, here– thank GOD for good therapists!) I encountered at the Canadian boarder “hit man angels”.

Almost. Not quite.

Because, as Trump attempts to take the Paris Accord down, and AmeriKKKans begin to fight back, I landed in a state with good government:


I can feel less ashamed of my “fellow citizens” from here, then from Massachusetts or Vermont, where I used to live.

Since the timing of my personal catastrophe coincided with the end of a 6 month on line program with Dr. Stanislav Grof, I have been grateful to have progressive Spiritual community who is reverberating with these awful times on the same “wave length” as me. And I hope we will all continue to grow from our trauma dramas.


I am a very VERY angry woman. At 60, I am (finally?) understanding how much of that anger has been healthy coping strategies for the amount of CRAP I face, every day of my life as a Black woman on this planet, at this time. And, I am also understanding (finally!) how much of that anger has been something that I turn inward, spew at loved ones, and fire in any direction but the right one.

Yet, anger can be power.

I watch white women flinch, at mildy raised voices. Cry, as their “default” coping strategy. They beat traffic tickets. They manipulate groups. What an example of white privilege that continues to go unexamined. And oh yes…  when BLEEDING each month, how many can do nothing except lie in their beds anemic and untouchable?

The above is an example of an uncensored RANT. Even writing such words gets me labelled “cruel”. And sometimes cruelty is about using any tools available, to try to get an empathic response. Anywhere.

I listen to the Canadian Broadcast Network these days. Top of their news in British Columbia is a (white of course) nurse who murdered 8 seniors in her care, “because she was angry.”:


And then there’s another (white) woman that I know who got a year of mandated counseling, when she tried to run over a bunch of belligerent teens with her car.

So white girls, GO FOR YOUR ANGRY POWER! No one is gonna KILL you for it. As happens to Black folks.

To this day (meaning as recently as LAST WEEK), white people feel entitled to comment on my reactions, even on how I look at them. It is no wonder I default to the emotion that has the best armoring potential for me. Even knowing that is what a sick and twisted AmeirKKKa wants me to do, to maximize possible state approved punishments, it is still what is most comfortable. I intend to continue to move forward, outside of my comfort zone.

Tears never got me anywhere, except humiliated. I am working on that, too. Because I deserve the power of all my emotions, even my tears.

And I have said here before, I refuse to stay in the box of “strong and ANGRY Black woman”.

So I share here today a story that I wrote a few years ago. It is how I cope with my own rational brain, the part of me that sees NO WAY THROUGH with white supremacist assholes now actively collapsing the country I was born into. It is where I take my anger, and weave it into creative imagination, and MAGIC…

May it be so!

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Becoming a BABY ELDER

sad-black-womanThere is nothing quite like thinking you have nothing left to live for, to re-set priorities.

I have spoken quite bit about the trauma and drama of April into May of 2017. I find myself unexpectedly looking a life that feels as foreign and strange as if I have been teleported to MARS.

My pithy but powerful motto–designed to both inspire BLESSED UNREST and to help hold perspective–has been this:

“If you have a roof over your head/a closet to put your clothes in/ and a refrigerator,  you are better off than 87% of the world’s population.

That’s a statistic from the Awakening the dreamer Symposium:

Years ago, Bill and Lynn Twist designed this powerful program, holding an expectation that Americans would awake to the hypocrisies we live with, with respect to our ecological/ environmental/ spiritually ignorant/ and social justice issues for this world.

But WE DIDN’T. And instead we elected an absolute ASSHOLE Hell bent on accelerating our downfall.

Okay. Whatever. Spirit let me experience a “fall” down to having NONE of those 13% of privileges that most AmeriKKKans enjoy. No fridge. No roof. No closet.

BUT I STILL HAD MY CAR, which probably kept me from totally imploding.

As I have said, feeling waaaay beyond “feral”…
Feeling “ROGUE”.
Below is the best definition I have found, as I continue my word-smithing and RE-FRAME/re-claim this word:
“ROGUE–an elephant or other large wild animal driven away or living apart from the herd and having savage or destructive tendencies…”
MORE background:

” Rogue, by itself, has been used to refer to an elephant that has become violent (either from being separated from their herd, or because they have been injured) since at least 1835. When ‘going rogue’ was first used it had a fairly specific meaning of ‘behaving in an erratic or dangerous fashion.”     

No one can stop me, NOW!!!

No one can stop me, NOW!!!

And, even MORE:
” Urban dictionary carries the definition of ‘GOING ROGUE’ as ‘to cease to follow orders; to act on one’s own, usually against expectation or instruction. To pursue one’s own interests.”
Yes. I would say that’s about where I have landed.   
So, look for me: working as a WWOOFA this summer/ and/ or teaching at a local community college/ and raising a RED TENT or two in Northwest Washington state/ and teaching about CANNABIS as a useful medicine (please let’s not get into the hypocrisy of tobacco and alcohol comparisons), and continuing to find ways to include more sensuality/ spirituality/ and access to information on sexuality in what we call “health care” in AmeriKKKa.
Still a Wayseer (but I don’t believe in the medical model he uses to describe brain chemistry AT ALL):
P.S. And I believe that ANYONE can become a Wayseer, not that it is a “special gift” for us Mad Folks, alone… we are just the “point people”
Other resources for The Strange and The Sensitive among us:
Posted in feral M.D. blogs, Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Mid-Life MIDWIFE? Heal Thyself

In the language of the metaphor that I have chosen for this exciting phase of my life as a healing artist, I have just survived a major crisis. Crisis as dangerous opportunity. Three times now, I Have been gifted with the opportunity to model in my own life the principles and tenants I am attempting to teach/coach/mentor.

First, I had the physical challenge of kidney stones and made a conscious choice to manage them totally outside of a conventional allopathic model. At age 60, I consider myself lucky to beat the statistics: the average AmeriKKKan is on two drugs for chronic illness by age 50. I am on none. Yet I recognize that my kidneys are my “weak point” in my body; when I am feeling pissed off and hurt I develop kidney stones. Then I must cope with healing them which involves horrible episodes of renal colic when passing the stones. After no episodes of this painful physical phenomenon in over 12 years, I have had two episodes since October, 2014.

The first  episodes happened one month after I started a job where my strengths,  and skills were under the control (note that word– it becomes very important as I share my life choices and story) of an enthusiastic but inexperienced young white, female manager in a social service position.

When the kidney stones first hit,  I had driven myself to a site I was to work at, that is 45 minutes from my home. I was incapacitated by the renal colic, I had to not only have my supervisor drive me back home, but I had to leave my car. I sat in the passenger seat puking the entire trip.

Not the best way to impress your boss,

eh ? As a treatment plan, I worked with a naturopath, used an amazing herb (chanca piedra–it is an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and dissolves stones), good hydration, cannabis (a muscle relaxant, analdesic, and anti nausea tool), and–when things were truly horrific–all of the above plus 400 mg of Ibuprofen every 6 hours to got me through those episodes.

Mischief managed, times two. The Lessons Learned there? Both renal colic episodes related directly to issues at work. Perhaps this was not my ideal job?

I have written here about my second challenge the mind loosening…versus “losing it”. Triggered by the Trump Administration, obvious white supremacy rising here in AmeriKKKa, and personal experiences with increased racial hostility and misogyny, I found myself feeling out of control_frightened and without sufgicient coping strstegies/tools.My best option was to seek support in the alternative peer respite model of Mental Health crisis/recovery work, NOT in a psych hospital. I posted about all this, in a series of short videos at my YouTube channel:

When I was ready to return to work, I had less than 3 weeks left before my great adventure North by Northwest to Canada was to begin. My social service corporate job gifted me with paid leave those last two weeks, giving me more time to pack up my life and prepare to leave.  I suspect there might have been some mangerial awareness that I was still emotionally in a hair trigger place; plus a recognition that my job–as a African-American slave descent woman expected to work with disinhibited (translate mentally ill or developmentally disabled )white Americans of working-class background HAD BECOME UNTENABLE. Three days a week I was working in the VERY town on which The Simpsons Springfield  is modeled!

Okay. One lesson, for The Body.–keep your medical care SUSTAINABLE. Second lesson, for The Mind.–keep your coping skills and strategies up to date with you life challenges. On to lesson three. Spiritual crisis.

Spiritual “emerge and see.”

Car packed and ready to go, I traveled to the Vermont/Quebec border tp begin my cross-country adventure to Vancouver Island. I had booked Air B&B reservations, across the trans-canada highway route.


My planned (red) vs. travelled route (green)...

My planned (red) vs. travelled route (green)

But, I was turned back at the CANADIAN  border. My dreams rapidly turned into a nightmare. To make this long story less long, the essence of it is that 4 INTERROGATIONS (not 2–the US side of the Border kept me and questioned me as to “where did I think I was going and WHY?” as well as the CANADIAN side)  over a week, with a solo drive across TRUMPS Middle AmeriKKKa in between the Quebec rejection and the B.C. rejection left me hopeless, despairing, and acutely suicidal.

Acutely suicidal, for the second time in my 60 year life. 12 years ago, I went over that edge and made an attempt from which I was miraculously saved. This time, I used all the tools I have to stay on this side of the veil. And they worked.

The lessons?

I am in a culture whose values have been poisoning me; reducing me to the culture’s belief that without a home, and income, or cash on hand I am a worthless piece of shit. Those white male border guards looked right through me and used their power over me to enforce that belief. I am at 60 a PTSD/ sexual abuse survivor who got malignantly triggered with loss of control issues (that felt like rape all over again) to the breaking point.

And I’m still here.

I ask those who would judge me harshly to ask themselves how they would be thinking about all of this, if I had high blood pressure or heart disease, survived the last three weeks in Hell, only to have a heart attack or a stroke as I was turned back at the BC border.

Now, it is post-crisis clean up time. Very messy. Very humbling. Very challenging. I do my work from this place, with growing strength and balance.

More life experience, to help others through mid-life crises. angel quote




Posted in Apocalypse Participaton, feral M.D. blogs, Phoenix Rising, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

NO FOOL, This April First

“Here we stand at the edge, the chasm yawning,

art by Emily Balivet

art by Emily Balivet

Dare we look past our fear to light beyond?

Heart to heart we can feel it dawning,

Hand to hand we connect, and travel on.

As we leap, the abyss, so deep below us

Terrifies. And on Faith we must rely.

No fool’s fall will await, if life has shown us

Love’s True Path, and we know

That we will FLY.”

The above is a poem that I wrote for a man I had been with for nine months, about three days before getting a “Dear Jane” letter from him. That was close to 20 years ago. I keep bringing out this poem and using it to move me through particularly narrow and difficult challenges in my life.  It served to bless a community of women, called The Crystal Amethyst Sisters. It was published, at the Millennial. I have read it with my husband in mind. I share it, as I head out into a Big Life Adventure.

Today I gather my thoughts and my feelings and prepare to leave the lovely sanctuary of a week in a respite. Am I ready to fly?


I used the quiet time of this past week to review various aspects of a complex and challenging life, on my way to a new one. I found ways to “quantify” some of the trauma dramas in my life; particularly the ones that seem to be stuck on repeat. I have had major epiphanies. Racism has damaged me much more than I had imagined. My privilege in AmeriKKKa– when compared to that of my white friends and colleagues– maps out on a scale of one to five as a ONE. All of my Black Sistars (no, there are NOT that many) map out as either one or two/five privilege points. Most of my white sistars map out from three to four/five.

Three have five/ five points of privilege: all of those three have held positions of authority over me at various times in my life. All three are younger than me; two by several decades.That fact gave me a big reality check on schizophrenogenic realities of the uphill battle to Stay Sane While Black (and FEMALE) in AmeriKKKa.

But at least I believe that I see with clarity what I am up against. I see the toxicity of the stories of female to female betrayal that keep every woman focused away from looking at what patriarchy and capitalism actually DO to us; a society of Apologetic Predators.

Myself included.

I will be taking a one month break from blogging here at Ceremony Heals. I will be culling my lists, contacting folks who “like” me at Temple of the Healthy Spirit and here. I intend to  shape a cleaner, LEANER presence over social media.

If you “like” me, please join my patreon support group: www.patreon.com/doctorO with $20 pledges for May, June and July to float me over to B.C. without too much anxiety over my exorbitant auto loan payments (there’s a long Santander driven story there…) OR…

Send a one time donation, here: www.ceremonyheals.com/services at my paypal “donate” button.

I am migrating North to join a community of women who recognize the power of Fierce Dignity as a mover and shaker in their lives. And I will continue to pray for my sistars here in The Lower Forty Eight.

Look for May postings, from my new location!


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Trust, At My Workplace

As I have said, I am in the middle of having a nervous breakdown.

Afiya contract

Afiya contract

I know what to do, and I am doing it. My breakdown is moving me forward, into ”Breaking Through”. And what I am moving through and into is more trust, in a culture where trust (and the lack of it) has left me post-traumatically stressed, with some pretty powerful triggers primed and ready to explode.

Sad but True Trust Point #1:

We in the Mad Pride movement –who work jobs anywhere “inside the system”– still must present as The Exceptionals.   San Dylan Finch says this very well, below:


books at Afiya

I am using the tools that I have gathered over the many years of my wild and crazy life.  I map my  warning signs; and also when things are beginning to break down. This doesn’t always play out so well, in a corporate system of written requests for time off, FMLA, sick days, personal days, days without pay…

bath at Afiya

bath at Afiya

Not if you are someone who has been On The Wrong Side Of The Locked Door.

Sad But True Trust Point #2 :

The Exceptionals are NOT supposed to fall down again. Ever.

14 months into my very heart-opening work in a (trying very hard to be) progressive social service agency and one month before I emigrate to Canada, I find my warning signs signaling that I need to prioritize self-care to maintain my sanity this round of Life Catastrophes. And the triggers cluster around racism, ageism, and misogyny.

ART from Afiay stay 1So staying sane while a Black sixty year old living in rural Vermont became a priority, after several episodes that rubbed my nose in this—




Sad But True Trust Point #3:

I regularly work with white AmeriKKKans who have:

— a. never had a Black person in their home

room at Afiya

room at Afiya

–b. have never had to answer to the authority of anyone Black

–c. are a part of a culture that sexualizes Black women and openly and dismissively comments on our appearance regularly.

Last week Monday, I had a perfect storm of triggering, involving two white women with tattoos and an SUV. My interaction left me feeling murderous RAGE at these women.

And a reality check on what might happen if I expressed even one TENTH of what I was feeling– anywhere in my work environment– shocked me and left me feeling helpless and confused.

I have named this for what it is. I am having a Spiritual “EMERGE And See”.

a map of my own relationship to RACISM

a map of my own relationship to RACISM

What I am seeing isn’t so pretty with respect to naming problems in a financially stressed social support system, with overwhelmed and overworked staff and too many vacancies. Under a new administration whose “super CALLOUS, fascist, racist extra-bragadocious” exploits of less than one hundred days are becoming legendary.

from the Boston sister march, with the Women's March inWashington

from the Boston sister march, with the Women’s March inWashington

So my Wellness Recovery Plan for Staying Sane While Black in Vermont has action steps like this:

–limit your exposure to police cars and blue flashing lights to no more than FOUR episodes in a 24 hour period.

–don’t walk into any situations where there are three or more white men are standing/ sitting around wearing baseball caps (no, what is on the caps is NOT important—ANY baseball caps).

–look THROUGH police officers, do NOT try to engage them with a friendly smile or a “Have a nice day, officer” any more (I am up to 8 stops by police since I began counting in 2014)

–look THROUGH white men who look like they voted for Trump (yes I have signs I look for that usually play out as accurate predictions); do NOT try to engage them with a friendly smile or a “have a nice day”. This, after one man coldly stared back at me, pointed his fingers at me and made a signal as if he was firing a gun into my chest.

Using my WRAP Plan, that meant that Wednesday’s plans for hang out time between a 9:30 a.m. medical appointment and a 2 p.m. supervisor’s meeting were re-scheduled, when I had reached the magic number of THREE police cars by 9:15 in the morning.

9:15 a.m.                                                                         

Mike Keefe cartoon, from the Denver Post

Mike Keefe cartoon, from the Denver Post


And I wasn’t even using the major highway!

I imagine that I am sweating out/crying out/raging out my deep feelings of FOOLISHNESS, over expecting more from my country. I never really believed that white people of working class and white women of all classes would actually react to eight years of Blackness in the white house with this level of VEHEMENCE.

Van Jones named it “whitelash”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQly01LLe-I

What will Get Me Through is challenging, because it has never been my strong point. That is my sense of humor.

I am at a Peer Led Respite, taking inventory, while I prepare to embrace a level of “Devil May Care” and SPIRITUAL Trust that reclaims the little girl in me that Was Always Too Much:


“And yet she persists.”

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… not to be confused with losing it.

Last week Monday, fresh off of the kidney stones, I had a triggering experience that left me with symptoms and signs of needing much more emotional support than I was giving myself.

By Tuesday, I was unable to get out of my car without feeling my heart race and my palms get sweaty.

Add in four more “objectively hostile encounters” on Tuesday, all in Brattleboro, Vermont.

My car was the only space in my life left where I did not feel at risk for harm and attack. The safety within my car was still conditional said My Loosening Mind…I could hold on to my sanity if I could navigate my world with less than four episodes of blue flashing lights from the police in my face each day.

I knew “the magic number”, because I had hit four in my attempt to go down to Greenfield for the “Alternative to Suicide” group Tuesday evening.  Four police cars was right “at the line”. I knew– in my body and my mind– that if I saw one more police car with its blue flashing lights on going somewhere self-important, I would collapse in tears in my car and be unable to drive myself home… or I would “Do a ToWanda” and smash my car into the first thing or person I could.**

I crept quietly home (driving carefully!) Without getting support from that “Alternatives to Suicide” group because Greenfield has blue lights flashing pretty much every half hour as I have come to know that town these days.

That is how an entire town became unsafe to me.

From my cabin space in Dummerston, I began to strategize on how I could get more emotional support as things were continuing to break down in my life. Tuesday night was the first night in a while where my emotions woke me up at 4:20 and I found myself unable to get back to sleep again AT ALL.

Same sleep pattern, on Wednesday night, at a friend’s home on their sofa (geographically now I’m down in Turners Falls–fewer police cars than Greenfield). Now I’m becoming sleep deprived and confused. By Wednesday, I was feeling that outside of my car–in my workspace, in restaurants, in supermarkets– that everyone was looking at me…

And, as a black person in areas where there are simply no other black people for hours at a time it is hard to sort out paranoia from reality! Usually, in rural Vermont white people ARE looking at me. But I was imagining that I saw more hostility in those looks.

Or was it my imagination?

Next emotions to rear their ugly heads were self-doubt and self-criticism. Why did I move to Vermont in the first place–this “whitest state in the Nation”? I begin to obsessively second-guess all of my life choices; a dark spiral that I try not to go down…

I knew what I needed. I needed peer support. True Peer Support.

Which looked like two hour  drive from where I work to Rochester Vermont to speak with a staff member at this peer led respite:


That is where one of the other two black women that I know who work in progressive alternative mental health was working. AND I NEEDED PEER SUPPORT to maintain a rudder for my ongoing dance at the edge of madness.

I had tea with her, with the other staff person, and one client. And she and I went for a walk together. Then I drove back home two hours to Dummerston.

Where I got back in time to do that two hours prep in my cabin to get it warm and toasty enough for me to sleep there…

And, I had a fair night’s sleep. But, still woke up at 4:30 and could not get back to sleep again.

So as of Friday, I have accepted sanctuary in the home of a friend and lover in Fitchburg. I am esconced in the front room of that home and I am feeling SAFE.

And I’m not in my car. And I got back to sleep again when I awoke at 4:20 a.m.

Yay me!
I will continue to take this one step at a time.

**I imagine psychologists would name that “an obsessive compulsive thought”? Whatever the language it is important to note that that thought is heavily tinged by the news this week. There were more than one instance in the international news where extremists plowed into crowds of people with their cars. Sometimes it’s not all inside my head, but reverberations of the Collective Consciousness as well!

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Holy Terror. Finding it. Tasting It.

So this past Monday, I  got triggered into an extreme state of Holy Terror. I was trying to park my car and had to pass through a drop off zone in front of my workplace. A mini-van sat idling in a location let’s begin with the benefit of the doubt–unintentionally– blocking passage on either side of the van. It was a snowy week, and all lanes were more narrow than usual. But there was no way around that SUV.

white tatto-ed chick power rules!

white tattoed chick power rules!

I approached and I tapped my horn, and waved.

The driver waved back.

I rolled my down and said, “Could you move your car to one side?”

The driver replied, “Could you say PLEASE?”

I won’t go down the hill with the avalanche of bizarreness that followed that initial exchange. Let’s some it up with my feelings. My first response was that I wanted to ram her car with mine:

TAWANDA style.

Then, a reality check on both the fantasy presented above, and the reality for Black women WHO ACT LIKE ME when frightened or challenged really hit me. Hard enough to break my heart (open) and leave me adrift and ungrounded for the next few days. Here is the best I can do to share the power of my grief with you, in real time. Watch this 10 minute video to the end. I dare you.


Now you begin to share some of the stories that I live with, inside my head, as an African-American/ Slave descent/smart enough to SCARE folks/ sexually courageous female. I am digesting stories at a pace that I can absorb. Sometimes I spew and puke and choke on the stories. Sometimes the righteousness of the hurt gets so big it gets STUCK as anger in my kidneys and leaves me pissing blood and passing stones. But I won’t stop my process. And if you don’t want to get vomited on, then take a step back.

But don’t ask me to stop. And NO, I won’t say “please”.

P.S. The family of Sandra Bland was awarded a “wrongful death” settlement of 1.9 million dollars.

P.P.S. No one had the money to post her BAIL in jail of $500. How humiliating. Life, money, power, and CARS, just don’t look the same in Black and in white AmeriKKKa.


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Pissed Off, HURT, (and healing?)

Day fifty six of The Apocalypse.

I claim mythopoetic space right now…I have held archetypal energies as a model

"Rest" by Laura Garrison

“Rest” by Laura Garrison

for many artists

MAAT from Hrana Janto's Goddess Oracle tarot deck

MAAT from Hrana Janto’s Goddess Oracle tarot deck

…and some of those “bigger than LIFE” feelings are not what the doctor told you they were. So as I rock and roll through kidney stones, with some saying “why don’t you go to the E.R.?” I say that I have a different relationship to my wellness. The E.R. is in my plan, but I am only at stage three of a five stage crisis, and that’s a lot of leeway before adding pharmaceuticals that “take my mind off the pain” (while masking stories that are coming up of PTSD moments/ hurts/ that need to melt away?) . That constipate my process (figuratively, and literally)!

I have a right, a duty, and an OBLIGATION to be pissed off and hurt, right now.

Anything else would be inauthentic, dishonest, and drive me CRAZY.


Beyonce got it right (SING IT, Girlfriend):

Except it it is not betrayal by a MAN that ‘s makin’ me crazy… it’s betrayal by my country. AmeriKKKa.

FB_IMG_1485796041409 I am leaving my country and I really love my country. I do. I am a Matriot–back  in my 20’s, Lady Columbia whispered in my ear that she was the best possible choice for me;  a Black, female, “yang-energy”, cultural creative.

And now I need a divorce.

Every time I leave important relationships in my life, I get kidney stones. The first time I had just spent 6 hours sharing space with my “ex” and their next partner. At our mutual friends’ wedding. Where they used elements from our ceremony in theirs.

aeschylus1It was emotionally excruciating.

And, my lumps of undissolved anger (Louise Hay’s explanation of kidney stones) needed an outlet. Even with that first episode, I saw bouts of renal colic as way better than cancer (another story– don’t ask me to explain how those possibilities dance together in MY loose associating mind).

So here I am, about twelve years later, willing to Do The Work. Again. As I divorce my country.

Punishment + GUILT= Pain            FB_IMG_1478741686568

With that basic formula, I can dance backwards, forwards and sideways into deep stories of cultural neglect, personal politics betrayed, doors closed, opportunities missed, bridges burned…

“And, yet she persisted”

We are rising. But the energies that will help us flow with grace and ease through these difficult times are not always pretty.


Wild hipped Sehkmet








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