Voices Rising: A Collection of Essays, Poetry, Art & Prayers to Inspire Your Voice

03/08/2017By KimberleyArt, Community, Connection, Poetry, Social Justice, Writing

voice

 

I occupy a sometimes uneasy space as a biologically female and Gender Queer/Non-Binary person. My voice shakes less these days, even when I witness the discomfort of others. It’s come in many forms – not knowing quite what to make of me, fear of offending me, women who feel my existence threatens feminism, and out and out opposition to my existence.

Through everything, I find my voice. I show up. I speak. I relate to others. I resist. I teach. I lead. I love. I am.

So when Sas Petherick invited me to contribute to the collection of voices included in Voices Rising I had a big “Yes!”

I just downloaded my copy. Feeling honored to be included among so many folks that I admire and respect.

The collection is free, a gift of love from all of us.

You can download your free copy here

Enjoy!

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Liberation Requires Commitment, Solidarity, Hope, and Courage

02/20/2017By KimberleyCommunity, Cultural, Freedom, Political, Reconnection, Social, Social Justice
liberation
the impossible becomes possibility

 

In his writing on Liberation Psychology, Ignacio Martín-Baró writes,  ” . . . commitment, solidarity, hope, courage – all collective virtues only possible when people act in reference to others.”

When the focus is solely on individual trauma and other struggles, people disconnect and become self involved – distracted from the social, economic, political and philosophical underpinnings of the whole that we live in.

Underpinnings that are, more often than not, the very ground that individual trauma and struggle come from.

 

I was raped twice as a young woman, those acts are connected to our “rape culture,” which in turn connects to patriarchy. The healing itself became traumatic because it isolated me from the truth.

 

It wasn’t a matter of putting me in a room with other rape survivors, I did that too. All that did was isolate all of us as the victims, and the act of rape got defined as an aberration and not as a very real part of the culture.

How empowering it would have been back then to hear the truth, to learn the tools of resistance, and to work toward not only healing myself, but also to join with others to build the foundations for a new culture.

That’s powerful healing.
That’s liberation.

Something else that happens when the focus is only on the individual – other people’s suffering doesn’t register. Folks may be kind and helpful to people they encounter, but they are disconnected from the suffering of marginalized folks and from the conditions that make it possible for marginalization to even exist.

When they do get a glimpse of it, they feel overwhelmed because they have lived in the soup of an artificial reality constructed by white patriarchal culture – a culture that survives exactly because it does not foster using the tools of resistance and solidarity toward meaningful change. Or people pick up the tools of the patriarchy to resist – and as Audre Lorde warned, “the tools of the master will never dismantle the master’s house.”

For a long period in my life, I isolated with my own wounds. I barely knew how to heal myself and when I looked at the plight of others I felt a sense of helplessness and turned away.

It wasn’t until I ran into the writings of women like Audre Lorde and Angela Davis that the spark in me came alive. Their voices helped re-ignite that sense of “commitment, solidarity, hope and courage” that I got an inkling of as a child growing up in the socialist subculture of Argentina. There were many others, among them Ignacio Martín-Baró, that inspired and taught me.

I learned that what seems impossible, can become possibility. And from possibility, it can become the reality of liberation.

 

I’m working on a group offering that’s part teaching, part coaching, and based in experiential activities. I believe that we need to bring more than our mind in order to shift into a new way of being and doing. We need to bring our whole selves – our mind, our body with all its senses, our emotional ground, our intuition and instinct, our creativity – for meaningful change and for the possibility of liberation.

While that percolates, I’ll be offering 2-hour intensives for groups of 3 or more. Details soon!

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Out of the Shadows: Post Election Purpose, Clarity & Meaning

11/23/2016By KimberleyCommunity, Cultural, Feral Gatherings, Feral Wisdom, Political, Social

Post Election

The morning after the election, only pure habit and muscle memory got me into the kitchen to brew fresh coffee and make my way to sit by the studio window where I inconsistently meditate and always journal. Meditation became simply staring out the window into the dark of pre-dawn and feeling my way into the stark reality of a demagogue parading as a president. For a good hour, my journal lay open on my lap while I twirled my pen between nervous fingers before finally admitting to myself that my body hadn’t caught up yet, much less my ability to form language around any of it.

I wasn’t alone.

Over the past two weeks I’ve put time aside to listen to all kinds of folks pour out their anger, frustration, fear, and heartbreak. I felt humbled by their vulnerability and trust.

But it wasn’t just tears and venting.

I witnessed those who’ve long been involved in activism renew their commitment to their own self-care and to the causes and issues they align with. How I love them for their courage and integrity.

And my hope grew with every one of you I encountered that had never, or minimally, participated in activism. I listened as you began the work of untangling yourselves from your old stories and resistance, as you took responsibility, as you faced your fears of the push-back you might get from family members for speaking up or from other activists that eye you with cynicism.

In the shadows of grief and fear you found meaning, clarity and purpose.

I extend my love and appreciation to you – so glad to have you. I’ve seen your courageous hearts, your sharp minds and your good intentions turned into commitments.

In that spirit, I’ll be announcing a gathering for anyone finding their way into this new territory. You can come to unravel your old stories and find new ones, to face your fears, to ask questions you’ve been afraid to ask for fear of shame or ridicule.

If this sounds like a good fit, I plan on an intimate group of 12 on Wednesday December 7 at 4 p.m. PST. If there’s enough of a response, I’ll plan for a second gathering in January. It’s donate what you can (minimum $20.00) and all the money will go to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Registration will require a receipt of your donation via the links I’ll provide to Standing Rock approved fund raising. I’ll begin spreading the word with full information and instructions on Monday, November 28th.

(**To those who’ve been around for a while, if you encounter anyone that you think might benefit from this gathering please share once I get all the info out on Monday. Thank you!)

With much love and gratitude for ALL of you.

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No Limits : Tyranny or Freedom

09/02/2016By KimberleyCommunity, Connection, Cultural, Feral Wisdom, Freedom, Political

No Limits

At first pass the idea of having no limits, of the ability to have, do and be anything you can dream of – well, it sounds like freedom.

 

Like the feeling you get on that first leg of a road trip when you take to the highway just before dawn, there’s nothing but miles of empty road ahead and your playing those tunes you carefully curated for just the right vibe. And maybe it will all go exactly the way you envisioned it. There’s also the possibility of traffic jams, no vacancy signs, and drinking too much coffee only to see a sign that says no gas stations or rest stops for another 30 miles.

No limits thinking takes on lots of names – everything from the Law of Attraction to that business coach that claims she has exactly the right formula to get you taking in six figures as of yesterday. No matter the costume it wears, the formula stays basically the same: your thoughts & desires + prescribed actions = your dreams come true.

The lure of that kind of freedom, coupled with a few grains of truth, make the no limits trap tempting, but if you fail to manifest your dreams, the proponents of no limits thinking have a load of rationalization and shame ready for you.

 

They’ll diagnose you with mental blocks, spiritual blocks, emotional blocks. They will tell you that the Universe or God is teaching you a lesson and as soon as you learn it your desires will manifest. The peddlers of no limits thinking don’t care about the real circumstances in your life or your experience of the culture you live in, they will pronounce you unenlightened, flawed and in dire need of fixing. For a hefty price, they will gladly lead you to enlightenment and/or get their wrenches and hammers out so they can repair your psyche. I’ve talked to people who’ve come out of those repair shops with deeper wounds than when they went in and had to spend precious time healing and reclaiming their sense of self.

I was talking with Kelly Diels a couple of weeks ago and she put it perfectly – “The tyranny of no limits.”

 

The coaches, teachers and others pushing the no limits formula become tyrants as they shame and blame you for your lack of success, but that’s not the worst of it. If you fall under the spell of having all your dreams at your fingertips, you will shame and blame yourself for every perceived failure – financial trouble, relationships ending, illness, accidents, the sexist remarks you get at work – every painful thing in your life becomes your fault. You become your own tyrant that demands you find the problem only within yourself and punishes you when your circumstances stay the same or don’t change enough to satisfy the tyrant’s need for the ideal outcome – the no limits formula has no room for simple progress. Even when you achieve one  ideal outcome, striving for more is built into the idea of no limits – there’s no end of the road.

What about those grains of truth?

 

It’s true that our thoughts, desires and actions influence our life for better or worse. It’s true that we can have mindsets that don’t serve us well. It’s true that possibility opens up when we find our voice, empower ourselves, let go of the things that we keep tripping over again and again. AND all of those truths do not add up to a guarantee that we can have, do or be anything we want. We put ourselves in danger of drowning when we jump into the no limits cauldron of illusion and try to stay afloat on a few grains of truth.

 

First, there’s the illusion created by the unearned privilege given to some by our culture.  In this culture, your identity or circumstances affords you with privilege or it oppresses and marginalizes you – and sometimes a bit of both. Oppression is real for people of color, certain ethnic groups, fat people, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities and illness, women, people who don’t fit into our  narrow beauty standards – it’s a long list. The obstacles in their path cannot compare with those of people who are white, in a favored ethnic group, thin, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, healthy, handsome, pretty or born male. No amount of thinking, desiring and doing by a single person is going to render oppression neutral in their life. Period. The opposite isn’t true either – oppression doesn’t guarantee failure – but it sure can impede success in ways privileged groups of people can’t even imagine. So when you see the shiny testimonials next to the picture of the  white, pretty, able-bodied, healthy upper class woman – remember she had a head start.

 

Second, the illusion of complete control coupled with the belief that any  one of us has become so enlightened that we understand the laws and inner workings of the Universe is beyond arrogance and enters the territory of delusion. Reducing things down to cause and effect, believing that there is a one to one correlation between your exertion of personal or spiritual power and the result you get, operating on the notion that your individual power is enough to overcome all other powers present in the world – yes, I count that as delusion.

 

But there are slippery grains of truth here too – our personal energy (thoughts/desires/emotions) can have an effect on our body and our mind, it can influence the kinds of people we attract or repel, it can affect our circumstances.  But our personal energy is not the only thing at work. Aside from the energy put out by the billions of people in the world, there’s the power of pollution, corporate greed, climate change, war, political and economic structures, culture, disease, death, natural disasters,  . . .- another long list. No one, privileged or not, has that kind of power.

And our natural world is chaotic, orderly, fucked up, perfect, beautiful, ugly, hard, easy – you can’t wield enough power to control it. Humans have tried to do that forever and the result has been more destruction, more suffering, more injustice.

Here’s what I believe.

 

We can fish out all those grains of truth, turn our attention to our inner landscapes and do the honest work of sorting out how we’ve been conditioned to think, feel and act. We can uncover and nurture our inherent power and wisdom. What we discover in doing the work opens up possibility, shapes our vision and determines our actions

 

But that’s not all. I believe there’s three key things we need to risk living the life we envision – resiliency, an open heart, and solidarity with others.

 

Resiliency makes it possible for us to navigate things like injustice, loss and disappointment without losing our sense of self or falling into despair. It looks like understanding what we need to take care of ourselves, honoring our experience, letting go of the illusion of control and embracing life as it is.

 

An open heart allows us to know our inherent wholeness.  It looks like ease in giving and receiving love in all it’s forms, it looks like allowing our fierce energy to claim its place along our impulse to nurture, like honoring our anger as well as our peacemaking. When we claim all that we are our empathy for ourselves and others becomes more than sentimentality.

 

Finally, the magic. Solidarity. We don’t have to do any of this alone. We can come together in solidarity to support, comfort and offer compassionate reality checks as needed. I’m not talking about solidarity only with those that share your identity or circumstances – that has its place – but I think it’s time to find our way into solidarity across our differences. Audre Lord wrote, “It’s not our differences that divide us. It’s our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.” She went on to say that when we do recognize, accept and celebrate our differences it creates a collective power that surpasses the power of individuals or groups based only on similarity. With that kind of power we can  face our challenges, begin to take down systems of injustice and create just systems with a foundation of understanding and compassion.

There’s still no guarantees, but the odds improve and the company is superb.

It’s like taking that road trip with fascinating people you adore. Everybody’s music gets heard and you stop at places you never would have thought of. When the traffic jam hits you make up silliness to pass the time and if the car breaks down everyone helps push it to the side of the road. When you meet injustice along the way because someone doesn’t like the transgender woman that’s with you (or the one you run into at the rest stop) everyone has her back. People that see the solidarity and love you all embody feel a longing in recognition of the power and possibility you all represent – you end up taking the train so there’s room for new faces.

This is freedom.

I believe in us.

I believe in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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