Mar 30

Why Mississippi?

I live on a dead volcano beside a living serpent of a river. Because of the black earth streaked with red clay and the blood of civil rights heroes; the impossible green of sweet potato vine; the fossilized epic log jam just outside the city; and the Ragnarok-levels of lightning breaking through the storm outside.

I live in atop an elemental convergence, with the luxuries of fine dining. The weather is fickle, brutal: Mississippi expects steep toll to live here: your home, your trees… well, let’s say Mother Mississippi challenges the concept of your ownership.

It is not an easy place to live: there are bigger cities, more opportunities awaiting you. It is an uneasy place to live: people can be overwhelmingly THEMSELVES. It is a complicated relationship, and I cherish it.

Mar 18

Confessions of a Former Corporate Goth

I don’t wear a lot of solid black anymore. I got tired of being told I should wear black, because it minimizes… ALL OF THIS, or is flattering by turning you into a non-threatening sort of caftan wearer. When I purchased a professional wardrobe, I made a conscious decision to purchase color, and bright color at that. I’m wearing polka dots today. I wear coral, ocean blue, a palette of greens and occasional purples. I love to wear color and fully inhabit my size.

I feel like black clothing is often the institution built by designers as a place for fat girls to go to die. Or buy exercise wear. So, both. (I jest: I love a well constructed black dress, and also enjoy exercising.) So I’m enjoying the first Lane Bryant designer collection by Isabel Toledo. I’m loving the embroidered, foil and eyelet sets: so much gorgeous, body-conscious, timeless beauty going on here. And… the layered cocktail  and the cowl neck dresses are so elegant and shapely. It’s a great time to be a big girl!

 

Mar 14

Eye of the Storm

never have i been a calm blue sea
i have always been a storm — stevie nicks

I’ve been quieter than I like to be for a long time. It is unsettling to settle in. I have a home, and I’ve been in a relationship for eleven years. I’ve been in Mississippi for nearly the amount of time I spent in Atlanta.

I keep busy. I fall into depression easily if I don’t. Movement gives me the illusion I hold court in the eye in the storm. I cannot control the circumstances of the universe, but I can hold space for myself, choosing who and what I bring into my demesne.

My lessons have brought me to the practice of silence, and what I’ve found isn’t for you. It is mine, and my arsenal of words would fail the concept. You might ask, Why is she blogging, then? It’s hugging the midline: sharing a bit of my work while I still stand slightly apart from the world, listening. I am learning the power of strength held in silence.

I love you, darlings.

Feb 26

On Asking for the Things We Need

I’m A Yoga Teacher And I Still Need Help In Class. [context]

Once you’ve gone through your 200 hour yoga teacher training, your hardcore anatomy, paid your insurance and RYT fees, you sometimes begin to feel like you Should Know Stuff, that you should be in advanced classes, that your ability to demonstrate xyz poses are crucial to your success as a teacher.

The best YTT lesson I ever received was that your RYT certs were a jumping off point. The first long form (Chen Ch’eng) students learn in Matthew‘s kung fu lineage loosely translates to “The Dance of Sincerity.” Learning its ninety or so movements, stances and techniques is a statement of intention. An RYT program is a statement of intent to be a good teacher, which is often best accomplished by being skillfully vulnerable, admitting when you do not have an answer, and accepting help with grace. It’s a journey that will end when–with equal parts effort and ease–life leaves my body.

Thank you Octavia Raheem, and thank you friend Gina Minyard: you remind me from afar.

Feb 24

We Are Not the Shape of the Future

Often, I hear older people complain that today’s youth and young adults are unwilling to work within established organizations, that they’re forcing donors to choose who they fund by creating new organizations… There’s a young person who’s created a model for cleaning the plastic from our oceans. A fourteen year old Taylor Wilson built a fusion reactor in his garage. Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of college to found a company that has just turned phlebotomy/blood test protocols on its ear.

How many modern org charts would nurture these minds? How many would tell them their ideas were too big, to start smaller, to work in how-it’s-been-done for a few years, and then they could talk about their big idea?

Feb 20

Why “F%&@# the South” Will Never Work

People defaced the state of civil rights hero James Meredith last week. Many people had a whole bunch of valid things to say about it, but it’s often the same old song and dance. Someone inevitably starts sounding like FuckTheSouth.com. I am a blue heart in a red state, and this only pisses us off. Please do not distract us from our work for equality, justice and unity. We have enough detractors on the ground.

There are people here in Mississippi who fight the good fight, some who have lived here since before James Meredith became an Ole Miss student. I have met civil rights activists who endured horrific indignities to their souls at the hands of their government and neighbors. Instead of fleeing, they–with more courage and integrity than I have ever possessed in my life–stayed to fight tooth and nail to nudge Mississippi forward.

Faulkner (or Willie Morris… depending on whose story is best for the occasion) said you had to first understand Mississippi in order to understand the world. I don’t understand it tonight, and sometimes I think I never will. Sometimes, it’s scary to advocate for equality, agency, progress in Mississippi. Sometimes you feel like nothing you ever do will scab over the pain we inflict upon one another. Please don’t pile hate upon hate.

Feb 2

Brighid Poetry Slam

Sacred Flame and Holy Well
Poet’s Word and Hammerfell
I step into the fire with my heart in my hands
Reforged in the Light of the World.
—Imbolc, 2014

Dec 19

The Marrows of the Year

It’s well documented that depression reigns in this time of the year. Not only does the darkness take a physical toll upon our bodies, but our environment is dropping leaves, stripping to the bark. Many of us struggle to get out of bed, feeling our connection to the earth and her rhythms. Others barrel into the busyness of the holidays, the garish blur of tinsel, royal icing and lights a distraction from the current of the year. If you become quiet, you can hear the message so much of Western society tries to ignore.

Everything dies.

I know that’s not the tidings of the season you expect to hear, but it is what the season teaches us… that we must learn to navigate fallow periods with dignity; that we must sleep deeply to awaken with glittering intensity; that we must be still to see the knowledge lying in the depths of our being. The peaks and valleys of the year test us: we willfully immerse in Midsummer’s flame, to be quenched and tempered in the darkest days, and brought to bear on the year before us. We are instruments, our whole beings aching to ignite in the glimmer of sunrise on the darkest day. It is the promise of brighter days, new adventures, fresh awareness.

Over the last half of the year, we have built a small, but strong community: in the marrows of the year, let us come together in covenant to honor the dark and together, cup our hands to shield the flickering of hope.

Oct 26

Ancestry

hands in flame

hands in flame

When I lost my mother in 1997, I felt I’d lost the well from whence I’d sprung. More and more, her friends tell me I remind them of her, how they see her face in mine, how my words hold her steel…

It’s enough to give someone a crisis of identity, or at least question nature versus nurture. I am no braggart here: she was extraordinary, and I am very much her daughter. It’s difficult to be the remaining glimmer of her work, to burn bright enough to fill that shadow for some who knew her. I was deeply connected to her when she took her last breath on an appallingly beautiful April Fool’s Day: she slid free, laughing. I think in that final moment, the dying discover something we cannot know. I’m in no hurry, but since I was 24 years old, I’ve wondered what was so &*^@*&*$^@* funny.

Knowing my mother as a person instead of an idealized SuperMom has been an important part of my work. Eudora Welty, Sly Matron Saint of Jackson, warned me to never miss the connotation of a thing because you love it. Over the years, I’ve learned amazing things about my mother. I’ve studied her work like a scholar. In a turn of miraculously nutty events, my cousin married into the family of my Mom’s high school friend. I have so many new stories of a naughty scamp of a woman who would one day become my mother. I am deeply grateful for these chances to see these glimpses of my mother before she joined the Mighty Dead.

Deep calls to Deep, Blood calls to Blood… this time of year speaks to ties forged in DNA, in the family we choose, and in the work that inspires, invigorates and influences our lives. Whose life, whose memory, whose influence wraps around you like a mantle in the darkening of the year? Whose heartbeat do you hear across the veil, echoed in the thrum of your veins?

Sep 22

Equilibrium

Photo by Benjamin Random

Photo by Benjamin Random

e·qui·lib·ri·um

/ˌēkwəˈlibrēəm,ˌekwə-/, noun
noun: equilibrium; plural noun: equilibria
1. a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced.

We are a culture afraid of stillness. We move so quickly, as if our lives should compete with a 24-hour news cycle. Eating on the run, pot-watching, compulsive checks of the time and social media, burning our candles at both ends. We often don’t even enjoy ourselves wholeheartedly, our minds on work, relationships, or stressful forces in our lives that disrupt our equilibrium.

I do not judge. I fall prey to this busyness often. (more…)