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?

Yes.

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:

https://theestablishment.co/why-im-done-being-a-good-mentally-ill-person-aa1124fa4215

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXowYIZpYpo

“And yet she persists.”

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LOOSENING My Mind

… 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:

https://g.co/kgs/7ze8XM

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!

Posted in Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness, One billion Rising, Opeyemi's Mystery School | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

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.

I DOUBLE 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.

https://www.thenation.com/article/the-real-reason-sandra-bland-got-locked-up/

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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

 

20170318_114247

 

 

Sa

Seku

Sahem

Posted in feral M.D. blogs, Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness, One billion Rising, Opeyemi's Mystery School, Phoenix Rising, Race Relations Commitment, Temple of the Healthy Spirit, Thirteeth Fairy Stories | Leave a comment

Speaker For The Dead: Sobonfu Some

“Speaker for The Dead: Someone who retells the life of a deceased person. A Speaker for the Dead tells the story in all truth, holding back neither good nor bad, so that the deceased may be better understood. ”

from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Speaker%20for%20the%20Dead

The last time I did an essay as a Speaker for the Dead was for my mother. My father’s response was to write me a 27 page letter outlining all of the reasons the essay was the final straw, and he had to dis-inherit me.

Speaking for the Dead is not always a pretty thing. Be forewarned.

So this is my story.

I met Sobonfu, shortly after she arrived here in the United States, having just married Malidoma. I met her at Kripalu, where she led a Women’s Mysteries retreat. About 18 women attended.

I was struck by the quality of her smile, with that lovely gap in the front, and by her sense of humor. Her English was still a little wobbly; but that mischievousness penetrated the language barrier.

I was a practicing family doctor back then, and the only other woman of color at the weekend event.

She shared stories about what it means to be a woman in her community, preparation for childbirth, how children were cared for and parented. Her worldview blew our minds.

We Dominator Culture types interrupted her presentation to ask many clarifying questions:

“Wait… what do you mean when a woman is pregnant, the Village gathers and goes to her home and sings “you are a little mother now’?  YOU go to HER?

Sobonfu looked puzzled. “Why yes… especially if it is her first time. Sometimes those little mothers do not know, and we have to tell them!”

What do you mean “the baby speaks to the mother, and tells her it’s life purpose, name, talents?  From the WOMB?

“Yes… around 7 months we let the baby come forward and speak (okay– I could translate that into “the . In the ceremony, the father must get the baby’s rock from outside…”

What do you mean, “The baby’s rock?”

Well, the father must find the baby’s rock, so that all the baby says will be recorded. He will usually find it, because when he looks, the right rock will move a little bit, and he will know it is the baby’s rock.”

As 18 of us looked at her in astonishment, she added “Don’t you use SILICON in your computers? The stone holds the memory!”

Then there were OUR questions for her.

“What do you use for birth control in your community?”

That one produced a look of puzzlement and then, astonishment as she understood we were asking questions about timing intercourse, menstrual cycles, and ovulation.

“What, can you all not SMELL?”

There was an awkward silence, as I thought of the amount of information we were washing away with vaginal fresheners and douches.

As a anti-genital mutilation advocate, I worried about what her community did as rites of passage from girl to woman, and I asked her about “cutting”.

That one also took a while to translate. When Sobonfu “got it” she just looked at me with astonishment, then began to laugh. That practice was definitely NOT a part of her culture; nor had she heard of it, until my question.

On the Saturday night of our weekend retreat, she created a ceremony for us. She took me aside (I think  because I was a doctor, but perhaps  because I am African slave descent) and whispered intently, “You must help me with this ceremony. These women have a blackness in their wombs that is like a sucking hole. We must pull out the poison.”

The ritual was this: each woman lay down on the floor. Sobonfu or I took a raw egg, and rolled it slowly around the woman’s abdomen, circling towards the center, below the belly button. She instructed me to suck the poison into the egg, then to carefully put the egg into a large basket. Once all the eggs were collected we sang, and dance, then went outside an buried the eggs in the ground.

Sobonfu did the ritual for me. I did NOT do the ritual for her.

And, I think that is where it all went a little wrong.

I wanted to write more about that. I don’t think I will, now. I just want to say that by the time Sobonfu was living into her own death, she looked like Anansi the spider to me. She looked like Spider Woman in all the different cultures that worship that archetypal goddess.           grandmother spider

“As long as you keep getting born, it’s all right to die sometimes”
Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead    

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Still SPEWING –Because I Won’t Be Quiet

One time, years ago, my Beltane Festivities were interrupted by an episode of intractable vomiting. No sooner had I taken my place in the circle with a ribbon for the Maypole in my hand, then I was overcome by a horrible feeling of nausea. I handed off the ribbon to a friend, left the circle, made it to the entryway to the event and started upchucking.

A friend took me home, where I vomited and retched for the next eight hours.

I named that as “over sensitivity to other people’s energy”. I recall feeling a huge amount of pent up frustrations/yearnings/bridled passions in that circle as so many pagan women and men were preparing to raise flirtatious energy with one another, and use it to honor the Mother Earth, Spring, and the general fertitily of the land.

Or, maybe it was just me, and a queasy stomach?

That’s life these days. “Holographic”; meaning the micro personal and the macro artchetypal just keep dancing and wrestling and playing off of one another!

I use that as a starting point, because yesterday’s “A Day Without Women” was such a strange and confusing experience for me.

On January 21, we were all SERIOUSLY inspired, by MILCK

Milck, a native of Palos Verdes, California, wrote “Quiet” a couple of years ago after a culmination of frustrations hit their breaking point. She was exhausted, tired of being judged for being a woman with opinions; suffering through anorexia, abuse and depression; needing to conform to the perfectionism expected of Asian-American women; and experiencing racial profiling. She needed to write “Quiet,” to exorcise personal demons and grow stronger. That hope bubbling in her lyrics, though? It also happens to be universal.” from http://www.etonline.com/features/208658_meet_milck_quiet_songwriter_anthem_of_womens_march/

Yes. The women are rising…and spewing…and “Getting Well” (a term used in ayahuasca ceremonies for vomiting)

beautiful hand made image--the artist is holding the sign.

beautiful hand made image–the artist is holding the sign.

I woke up excited. I had all my red clothes ready; couldn’t find my RED pussy hat (my sort-of sister in law knitted a red and a pink one and gifted them to me), but was psyched to hit my local business for a cup of tea and to people watch other red clad co-conspirators.

Well, there was ONE other woman; she was wearing a sort of magenta sweatshirt.

I checked in with my fellow workers. No one else in my corporate agency was taking this as a personal day…I ran into a fellow employee at the local business (my Co-op), who shared that she had just dreamed the night before that she was getting fired at work.

And, she wasn’t wearing red.

20170308_142139

I sat for about 40 minutes, getting more and more self conscious.  I was WEARING RED– head to toe. I used the cafe area as a platform to inform others about the day, while I separated a dozen pink tulips that I had purchased to share with 12 women who HAD to work . But there were guys there– the same “barber shop” style commentators on New York Times driven social issues who share news over coffee every morning.

Today, I was particularly aware that it was THEIR news that dominated the conversation near the register. A discussion/ excitement for International Women’s Day OR for the U.S. intention to have “A Day Without Women” never caught on.

Things that make you go, “Hmmmmm.”

And, I was eager to share stories of my experiences from four years ago, when “One Billion Rising” first took off as an international meme to address violence against women, and our reproductive rights:

But  I left. Without sharing either the video or the dance.

But the next event that I planned to attend was called “I Will NOT Be Quiet”.

What was I DOING???

Somehow, leaving the Co-op without sharing this wonderful, 4 years in the making “One Billion Rising” energy just wasn’t working for me… I was an enthusiastic dancer when it was first choreographed…One billion rising dance

And yet I felt too self conscious to even share the video of the dance!

So I sat in my car for about fifteen minutes… gathered myself together… and went BACK INSIDE to do the dance for a cashier that I really like who would be open to receiving it.

Then magic began to happen… As I walked back towards the Co-op, a staff member was going in at the same time, AND SHE WAS WEARING RED! And as I got to the door, a friend who works with me was leaving the Co-op, dressed in red like me– head to toe!

I had inspiration. I did the dance. I did it alone.

And, the day got better and better from there.

While the symbolism of the organizer of the “I Won’t Be QUIET” rally on the commons in Greenfield, Mass having laryngitis was not lost on me, a good time was had by all…

Red hat O

And a friend posted this photo of me. She captioned it “beautiful women”

I responded, “Yes… I …will…stay…BIG. If you feel like “I’m taking up all the oxygen in the room” (a comment made to me by a long time Greenfield resident about a year ago) you need to learn to BREATHE DEEPER.”

Because there’s enough power within for ALL

 

Posted in Apocalypse Participaton, Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness, One billion Rising, Phoenix Rising, Temple of the Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A day without (white) women? Part 2

MY BLOG…

My language…
Thank you to Tiokasin Ghosthorse for giving me words for a very specific experience. I find that I am creating pain as I am stuck between the tools of the Dominator culture I was born into and the Relational Way Of Being that I strive towards.
 I really DID mean it as a “tough love” note (my blog “A DAY Without (Jewish) Women-Really?”).
I am finding it easier to apologize, than to ask permission.
And, I remain confused and challenged by the triggers/disconnects and responses I receive as I attempt to grow my Baby Elder self into a thoughtful social commentator that writes evocatively…
NOT provocatively.
And, I will continue to use Robin D’Angelo’s white fragility scale to check in on how much of this is “me” and how much if it (might be? in some Universe somewhere???) “other”.
Calling out privileged identities is hard work.
Calling out terrorized privileged identities was surprisingly challenging, and has left me with a Total Truth reality check that burns in my throat, corrosively…
Behind the big response that I have received (see comments listed at the end of my last blog for a total of over THREE THOUSAND WORDS) from two Newly White sistars, there is no way in Hell I will move forward and attempt to engage the two “older white” communities of women I hoped to query:
#1. Protestants  (who claimed to be my allies through their historical Association as abolitionists)…
#2. Catholics of Irish and Italian descent (the Irish being so unfathomable to Sigmund Freud by urban legend that Freud was quoted as saying, ‘This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever’ when referring to the Irish. However, as the Freud Museum in London points out, there is no actual evidence that Freud ever said this statement though it is mentioned in the film “The Departed.”)
from
 
And, I will let my sistar’s stew…
in a review…
of what white fragility can do–
When it shows-up
“Outta the BLUE”
(points that seem relevant to this conversation to me I have highlighted and Bolded):
 
In this case, the identity–rather than “white” I name “newly white TERRORIZED individual”:
Challenges to this identity become highly stressful and even intolerable. The following are examples of the kinds of challenges that trigger racial stress for white people:
Seven of her ten points seem relevant.
2. People of color talking directly about their own racial perspectives (challenge to “NEWLY WHITE TERRORIZED” people taboos on talking openly about NEWLY WHITE TERRORIZED identity);
3. People of color choosing not to protect the racial feelings of NEWLY WHITE TERRORIZED people in regards to race (challenge to white racial expectations and need/entitlement to racial comfort);
5. A fellow white not providing agreement with one’s racial perspective (challenge to white solidarity) BALANCED, BY TWO SISTERS OF THIS IDENTITY BEING ABLE TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER AT LENGTH)
6. Receiving feedback that one’s behavior had a racist impact (challenge to white racial innocence)–I DIDN’T FIND YOUR WORLDVIEW AMUSING
7. Suggesting that group membership is significant (challenge to individualism) EMPHASIZES THE TERRORIZED ASPECT.
8. An acknowledgment that access is unequal between racial groups (challenge to meritocracy) IN THIS CASE, ACCESS TO COLORED MEN AND THE CONSEQUENCES–I DON’T HAVE SIMILAR “PERKS” my sex across racial lines carried the brass ring of “light-skinned/can PASS for White children”. It has generated more contempt than empathy and admiration (what I see, when white women and colored men connect).
9. Being presented with a person of color in a position of leadership (challenge to white authority); I HAD THE CHUTZPAH TO TALK ABOUT A GROUP OF WHICH I AM NOT A MEMBER
Not often encountering these challenges, we  (“newly white TERRORIZED individuals) withdraw, defend, cry, argue, minimize, ignore…
(From “white fragility” by Robin DiAngelo)
I thank Spirit for providing me with such good cushions when moments like this show up in my life. I had just responded to this question on a friend’s social media site:
“Ever trigger someone so hard that they totally, permanently block you? Without trying? If you have, then you’re a Trigger Ninja. This superpower is not to be ignored. It certainly isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s worthy of honing, this skill…
it means you’re rocking your truth. It means you’re empowered. Keep on rocking it, Trigger Ninja. Notice the M.O.’s of the ones who fall away. Check that trait off of your self-improvement list, because when it leaves your life, it’s a clue that you’ve mastered it.
Another step up from Trigger Ninja, is the level of Love Transformer. But that one’s for another lesson…
<3 ~ Goddess Oceana”
 I am still honing my trigger ninja skills. I am still experiencing embarrassment and shame when my friends tell me that I have hurt them.So, mission ABORTED. 
 
Here’s hoping Wednesday’s “Day Without Women” is powerful and deep.
 
However you chose to engage. Or. Do. Not.
Posted in One billion Rising, Race Relations Commitment, Thirteeth Fairy Stories | Leave a comment

A Day Without (Jewish) WOMEN? Really?

from http://chcentralmich.com/?z=Jewish+Women ARTISIT UNKOWN

from http://chcentralmich.com/?z=Jewish+Women ARTISIT UNKOWN

Here’s an official website:

https://www.womensmarch.com/womensday/

I want to believe that we can pull this one off; but my FEARS keep me cynical.

FEAR= False Evidence Appearing Real.

I am going to break this down, one ethnic/religious group at a time.

What groups out there have historically been my allies? Who has Done The Work, and truly represented as accomplices to me– an African-American slave descent woman, with some 27% of my blood from “somewhere else” that is European (most probably forced sexual interactions)?

Jewish women. NEWLY WHITE women.

Women who are curiously silent now, as The Apocalypse roars forward into it’s second month.

I am having the conversations. I am hearing the reasons. I am smelling the fear. I am aware– possibly even MORE aware than my Jewish sisters themselves–that they sit as the “we MADE IT to WHITE” group in the States who has been most recently silenced; most effectively scapegoated. And, this occurred almost within my lifetime; certainly within the lifetime of anyone 65 or over.

I am NOT speaking of The Holocaust. I am speaking of McCarthyism.

McCarthyism was not just anti-communist; it was anti-Semitic. And a Jewish woman and mother of two was made an example for all. This is documented painfully in “Heir to an Execution”, produced by Ivy Meeropol; Ethel Rosenberg’s granddaughter:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388996/?ref_=ext_shr_eml_vi#lb-vi3719037209

“A deeply personal, occasionally heartbreaking affair, “Heir to an Execution” paints a rich portrait of a devoted couple whose names came to symbolize Cold War hysteria…On June 19, 1953, Julius Rosenberg was electrocuted, and Ethel followed him minutes later. To the end, authorities offered Ethel Rosenberg an out, telling her she could avoid the electric chair by confessing.

800px-Julius_and_Ethel_Rosenberg_NYWTSPeople have often wondered why she did not do it for the sake of her sons, Michael Meeropol said.

“At the last minute, our father’s already dead, and what she would have had to do is make up stuff,” he said. “She would have had to say, ‘Yes, my husband was a spy,’ and then she would have had to lie and say, ‘I was, too.’ So now she goes to jail for 30 years.
Does she really take care of us that way

Does that really help take care of us?

“Her response was to stand by him and stand by that incredible commitment. And that way, as Ivy says in the film, we get to grow up respecting and loving them.”

(above from http://www.recordnet.com/article/20040122/a_life/301229993 )

Rosenberg et all familyHmmmm. That’s certainly one interpretation. The images stirred up in that documentary, of a nation waiting as this woman went to the electric chair and was electrocuted are more than haunting:

“Julius was executed first; he died after the first electric shock. Ethel’s execution did not go smoothly. After she was given the normal course of three electric shocks, attendants removed the strapping and other equipment only to have doctors determine that Ethel’s heart was still beating. Two more electric shocks were applied, and at the conclusion, eyewitnesses reported that smoke rose from her head.”

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_and_Ethel_Rosenberg#Execution)

Those images are TERRIFYING.

Ask yourselves, “Newly white sisters”, if you truly believe that a Catholic woman– sent to die with two adorable boys displayed before the public– would have been fried FIVE TIMES????

4letters

A Miracle Was Happening Then…

She would have been dusted off after the first or second shock, declared the Miracle That She Was, and returned to her children (possibly a little softer in the head, but we were using lots of ECT back in those days, and a 3/4 mom was probably better than no Mom at all…)

As an Inside Outsider to Christianity/Capitalism/ and The AmeriKKKan way, the layers of anti-semitism, internalized oppression (a Jewish judge did not stay the execution), and MISOGYNY are breathtaking…Soul-killing…Voice silencing.

Sure looks to me like Jewish women are suffering from a legacy pattern that still says “You Are Too Loud and we HATE you”.

Remember the DNC? Last week?

We just watched two born-Catholic MEN– one older/ one younger/ one browner/ one Blacker duke it out for control of the Democrats, with Bernie cheering them on…

Where are the women? I hear silence. And Deb Wasserman-Schultz is the current scapegoat and Every Assimilated Jewish Woman’s Nightmare because she F**ked up.

And there is  second part to that Shadow Work as I see it is that corrosively undermining to TRUST in Jewish women. That is a Dominator Culture trick that effectively divides us– women from men– within our ethnic and racial tribes. It’s an African Slave descent shadow pattern, too… The Dominator Culture makes sure that the property of the patriarchs–enslaved men– are humiliated another layer, by making certain that “the property of the property (that would be us women)” is never really, totally under control of the men.

It showed up with the Rosenbergs. I watched “Heir to an Execution” with a Jewish man, who couldn’t stomach the ending, and left. It is there, at the DNC Drama:

“Your Men will NOT Protect/witness you/support You…” Bernie has had no compassion; and he’s married to a Shiksa!

So when a Jewish friend responded to the Day Without Women idea by chuckling about how her boss “would keel over from a heart attack (if his all female staff struck his business!”  having no plan to participate THAT way), I didn’t laugh.

That is exactly the point. To collapse the system. And, when that Patriarchal system is seized up with it’s heart attack, we best be dis-entangled and far enough removed as to not Go Down Too…But we women are still too often “standing by our men” at our own expense.

If the Jewish women– the ones raised to see themselves as “prized higher than rubies” while their men daily thank God that they were not born female–WAKE UP, I see us actually Going Forward. But I wonder about an Abrahamic culture that still does not treasure The Divine Feminine, not matter what lip service it is giving to same.

Lillith?

Eve?

Whatever…

Next, The Abolitionists, as represented by THE QUAKERS…

 

 

 

Posted in One billion Rising, Opeyemi's Mystery School, Race Relations Commitment | 13 Comments

Day 39? I JUST Can’t Toe That Line

“Toe The Line” defined…

”  ‘Toe the line’ is an idiomatic expression meaning either to conform to a rule or standard, or to stand poised at the starting line in a footrace. ”

Sure looks like I remain a nonconformist feral M.D.,  Occupy Wall Street Demonstrators

AND I am poised at the starting line of a new adventure.

Here’s what my last two weeks have been like and they have been truly “schizophrenogenic”. There is an Old Way. And, there is a New Way. They have been shimmering before me, like mirages. Which one is REAL???

As I began job hunting in Canada, I sent my “edited for CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL EXPERTISE” C.V. out. I got a challenging response from the conventional end of the medical spectrum, that left me sort of panicked. Good news: Canada has a program that allows internationally trained M.D.’s to “fast track” to work visas, if they agree to work in an underserved are for 3 years. Shades of my own medical background, with 4 years working for the National Health Service Corps. Good news, again: There was a medical practice not too far from where I will be living with my husband that was in crisis, losing all three of it’s doctors, over the next 6 months:

http://www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com/news/410319535.html

Bad news: I drove 45 minutes to the site, and had the most miserable exchange with the front desk receptionist. “I don’t think anything would work out…” this woman said to me (C.V. unseen). The entire place felt dark and depressing.   81121cowichanvalleycitizenclinic1.cmyk.lb

Was it my skin color? That’s not supposed to matter so much up here, right?  I took a deep breath, and kept on breathing…

Bad news:  the term that the British Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons representative used with me was “you don’t have medical currency”; meaning I hadn’t practiced recently enough for them to even allow me to take the test.

They won’t even let me take the test?

WHY?

Then I remembered passing a test in college before I had even taken the course (it’s along story)…/ skipping grades, in school/ pulling miracles out of my ass, repeatedly…It would be too much of an embarrassment to everyone IF I PASSED… Too “witchy” for the system!

maleficent

Okay. But new anxieties arose…Oh dear, does that mean I am no longer considered “a skilled worker”? With all this life experience, AND medical expertise? I let the panic build, and begged the BCPand S representative (who named me “without currency”) to see what she could do…

THE OLD WAY:

2/17 /2017

Subject line: “U.S. retired M.D. who wants to work ANYWHERE”

C.V. attached.

Thank you for reviewing this (I so hope you can help me figure out ANY HEALTH RELATED EMPLOYMENT I might pursue, as I emmigrate from the U.S.

As you will see from my resume, I have spent a large part of my career supporting health services for women and children; currently mental health services, in a social service agency.

Now while this was evolving (or, devolving) here’s what was also happening.

THE NEW WAY:I make magic/ I speak truth

I followed the signs, and portents, during my two week Canadian scouting expedition. I didn’t just visit that beleaguered clinic, out in the boondocks. My ears perked up, when my (new) sister-in law mentioned apologetically “well, there’s a Women’s Health Center in  Downtown Duncan you might want to look at, but they’re VERY alternative…”

So I strolled on over from the corner cafe, the day before my marriage ceremony and chatted a bit with Amanda at the front desk of The Matraea Centre. She– unlike the Cowichan woman– was welcoming and friendly.

I left my C.V.

I got married, had a honeymoon, flew back to the States, then looked up the website.

www.matraea.com

And I cried. Tears of amazement, and of joy.

E-mail 2/27/2017

Subject line: “Here’s a copy of the letter I snail-mailed to you”

AND I began with “I believe in miracles and magic, when it comes to healing. Finding the Matraea Centre during my two week visit to British Columbia (I just married a Canuck who has been in my life for the last 12 years) was magic, to me.

This is my story.

I am a 60 year old African-American, slave descent woman, raised in the U.S. in an upper middle class environment by very artistic and bohemian parents. That has made me unique in many ways. I considered myself a lucky child when I was met with “so, you want to be a doctor when you grow up!” not “girls can’t be doctors; if you work hard, you can be a good nurse.”

I knew nothing about midwives”.

I went on, for two pages.

I concluded:

“Can you see a place in your collaborative for a 60 year old healing artist– moving from Vermont to Cobble Hill? Adding more services?  Augmenting existing ones? facilitating workshops? Creating monthly events? Expanding midwifery services to peri-menopausal women and women in their menopausal metamorphosis? Supporting women facing complex medical issues (diagnoses of chronic illness/cancer/after abortion procedures and miscarriages) in need of “peer support’ (that is the title of my current social service position, in the U.S.)? Supporting parents in need of support? 

 Can we open a dialogue on possibilities?”
 And here is the Response that I received. And, it is The-New Way:

Hello Opeyemi,

 Thank you for your sharing your beautiful and amazing story!  You are an inspiration!!  And thank you for your kind words.
 
I am one of the founding midwives of the Centre and the practice and I would love to meet you!
 
What is your schedule like?  I can be flexible…I am on call this Thursday and Friday which means I have more availability as I am not in the clinic.
 
Please let me know :))
 
Warmly,
 
Kate Koyote
To which I replied

“Hello Kate.

 I just upgraded my phone service here to unlimited calls for North America.
Let me know when we could talk on Thursday at a time that accommodates your schedule.
 
I am wide open, and should be able to connect anytime after 9 a.m. PST, up until 6 p.m.
 
Yours, enthusiastically–
              Opeyemi
 (Phonetics–oh pay YEH mee)”
AND, IRONICALLY, … I received this response on the same day from the representative of The Old Way

Subject line: Opportunities in British Columbia

Dear Dr. Parham,

Thank you for your email and for the CV you provided.

I have reviewed the CV and based on the CV and the information you provided to me during our telephone discussion, it is evident that you would not be able to practice as a physician in British Columbia since you have been out of practice for over 10 years, however since you are open to other opportunities, I would recommend that you review the Island Health website for opportunities close to your home in Cobble Hill, perhaps there is a position that would of interest to you. The Island Health website is – http://www.viha.ca/careers.

Getting to the HEART of the Matter...

Getting to the HEART of the Matter…

Please note that unless you already hold Canadian citizenship or Permanent Residency status, you will require a Work Permit. Island Health will have to assist with this because you cannot apply for a Work Permit on your own.

I am sorry we are unable assist you with regards to opportunities as a Family Physician.

We wish you all the best in your endeavours.

Best Regards (rep name here)

Encouraged by the RIGHTNESS of The New Way, and a sense of moving forward into Right Livelihood for this last third of my life, I wrote this, to the Representative of The-Old-Way:

Thank you for your response!
 
I hope you will watch my career blossom as I emmigrate to Canada.
 
I am one step ahead of terrible rising fascism in the U.S. I know what to do, and I am doing it; one legal step at a time.
 
It has been made quite clear to me that any association with allopathic medical that would give me the power to prescribe and hospitalize is no longer a part of a healthy healing arts practice for me.
 
I intend to work as a Healer (legally and with support of the community) in Duncan, Vermont.
 
And, So It Is.
 My medically oriented channel:

The BCP and S respondent was a woman.  Ayuasca Mother image

I am imagining her obtaining some sort of a consult from me, in the not too distant future. Because I am walking into my power, into my passions, and into magical realms.

And, as for the conventional practice that is losing all it’s M.D.s… Here’s a comment from their on line article that sums up allopathic medicine these days:

You can’t bring in FP/GP under a special immigration/training so they can be licensed and need to work in outlying areas for only 3 years. I have not known a physician who came to Canada under these programs and stayed put any longer than the original contract. These doctors then move to larger centres, or, in many cases, resort towns etc.”

stressed-female-doctor-portrait-33168940Yes, I imagine that they do. Because the pace of that lifestyle burns them out. They hold their noses, as they are counting down the days until the end of their obligatory commitments. I wouldn’t have been that kind of an M.D. but I can imagine how my workaholism might have kicked up again.

My way as a Healing Artist is still feral. I cannot “toe the line” in The Old Way. Picking up that stethoscope– as tempting as it was to my ego– rightfully shot down by Spirit.

And, now the wild rumpus will continue to move forward!

www.artbygaia.com

www.artbygaia.com

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