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Confessions

Of an Extremist

A Letter to All the Men I Love, and the ones who Annoy me.

When I was five, I wished I was born a man.  

As a long haired munchkin, in a sea of grownup legs, 

I once clung to a pant trunk, that I had mistaken for my Father’s.

They all looked the same,

Solid, Simple, Black. 

No drama. No hair to fix.  

No question about which dress made you look less fat.

I envied these fuzzy “quick decision wizards,” 

standing tall above “small decision binds.” 

I idolized their boundary ease,

Impeccable with the word “NO.” 

Never afraid to step into the ring of life.

Rising above emotions to get the job done. 

Disciplined. Strong. Responsible. 

While my hazel eyes, cried most days, and thought rain drops were the world weeping. 

Scared. Sensitive. Unsure. 

Even still, the freedom of being a little girl felt fun.

Exciting,

like waiting in the ocean for the perfect wave to “trust fall ride” all the way back to shore. 

Cartwheeling through front yard grass and illegally picking wildflower bouquets for my dad. 

Flowing in faith through a tender-eyed, wonder world. 

My dear beloved men, 

I’m sorry my 5 year old innocence, thought you had it easy. 

In our current age of the “strong woman”,

I am free to rediscover and express my masculinity.

Patriarchy celebrates getting punched in my resting bitch face, 

Stoic, unafraid to get back up and in. 

My masculinity gets shit done and stands in the center of the fire, unaffected by haters. 

They call me a beast, a badass, and a bitch, because most days, “I wish a mother fucker would,”

as I protect my people with both middle fingers up. 

But I still get to cry,

Doors are opened for me through voracious vulnerability, that I freely display,

because it comes naturally. 

My brokenness is not a fault or a failure, but a rose with a million thorns,

an epic tale of fiesty Cinderella ambition, that still needs saving, but I can also save myself. 

You, my dear men, have a fight to reclaim.

Our culture touts your femininity, 

as weakness. 

“Man Up.” 

Don’t let your guard down, the science proves you will not attract a mate.

And we are all suffering,

In a paradigm that sees our collective feminine as fragile,

When it will claw your eyes out, if you fuck with our children.

We need all sides,

Regardless of our birthed gender sentences.

It is our duty to say hello and squeeze hospitable arms around our masculine and feminine faces,

with equal ferocity. 

Balance is an act.  

A constant “N-flux see saw.”

My beloved men,

I see you.

I fight beside you and with you.

I love you.

We’ve got this. 

Let’s reclaim the “shit” out of our feminine paradigm,

so we can all bask in “little girl sprinkler jumping” liberating freedom. 

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Life isn’t about waiting for the Storm to pass. Learn to Dance in the Rain.

My mid-week small decision, would require “text support” from a trustworthy friend. 

Do I trek the four miles on my bike to teach Yoga in Takoma Park, or do I take an Uber? 

My weather app is predicting fifty percent chance of rain.

What is a crazy girl, wearing a sundress, knee high black boots, without a helmet and rusty chains, supposed to do? 

I was on a short timeline.  

I made a “Hans Solo” decision, before my “Luke Sky Walker” had an opportunity to weigh in.

I texted my friend,

“I am biking. YOLO.” 

Mind you, I am not a fan of acronym’s, and only use them, if I am sarcastically stabbing the literary shortcut through the heart. (YOLO= You Only Live Once.) 

Even still, desperate times call for desperate measures, and I was two feet into my “risky” biking adventure. 

With a proud, “I made my own decision” grin, I put my cheap headphones on, and spun the wheels, to my angry Halsey-Kat Dahlia play mix. 

I arrived at my final destination with just a few raindrops, that made my skin dewy and hair wavy.  

After teaching back to back classes, I straddled my bike to return to the Nation’s Capital.  

The sky was a formidable gray to the right, but the magical fire flies, backdropped a late, “day before solstice,” June.

I remembered when I used to catch fire flies in jars, running barefoot through humid Texas summers. 

An innocence blew freedom through wild hair, before the world tried to tame her. 

In pure wonder, I’d watch the glow bugs light up on my bedside table, until my mom told me they would die, and I always set them free. 

Fast forward.

As the wind began to pick up, I knew Armageddon must be near.

I was mesmerized by the fire flies, hypnotizing me into childlike, Lone Star State, Wildflower picking wonderment. 

The first drop did not fall lightly, but was an immediate torrential, “This is happening now,” downpour. 

Instead of regretting my “small biking decision,” I turned my head towards the sky, big mouth opened wide, and in maniacal laughter signed an acceptance treaty with the rain gods. 

My semi flat tires, splashed ferociously through all the sidewalk puddles, and I welcomed the water slosh into my black leather boots, that I promised I’d retire months ago because it’s 90 degrees outside.

Freedom baptized my bones, into a book character that I always wanted to be, because she welcomed spontaneity and transformed eyes into stars of shooting astonishment. 

I was “that girl” who looked insane from the outside, but her soul was an ageless, endearing, wrinkle-proof gem of beauty.

I am grateful to the seven year old, puddle jumping warrior, who still lives in my bones, and breathes tender love into my marrow. 

No matter how “realistic” life gets. No matter how much stress, responsibility, heartbreak, and anxiety, 

never lose your birthright to bask in mystery and wonder.

Remember the little one in you, who imagined worlds through trees, comic books, big dippers, my little ponies, play-dough, midnight blue colored crayons. 

She is waiting for you to come play with her.  He is begging you to see him and be kind. 

Our world is in desperate need. 

It is our time as the “adults” to fight for freedom, with knives piercing through calloused fear, that has built up around our collective heart. 

Let’s get on our bikes to ride or die, 

No matter how rusty the chains, and how looming the storms may be. Fear is not a reason to implode. Fear is a liberation banshee call to rise. 

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 

The Pop Tart Story and my Road to Self Worth

On that morning,
in early June,
I knew I had arrived.

Baby bird eyes squinting at four a.m. light,
a familiar feeling:
“Oh no…what did she do?”

I rolled over
with a pillow hug
into a place I had never been before.
A tornado night that blew Dorthy and Toto from Kansas
into a new realm of Oz.
The lions, tigers, and bears of old
with their notorious daily attacks
of “not enoughness”
were replaced by a modulated voice of gentleness.
New pitches of kindness
welcomed my crazy antics
in the arms of endearment.
With hand-on-head humor,
forgiveness rained down—
adoring eyes of mother to child;
anger trumped by goddamn cuteness.
The kind where your lips turn upward
head shaking with charmed disbelief,
relentless unconditional love,
just because she woke up again.
to the Pop-Tart story of shame,
rewoven into magic healing moments
of redemption.

And so the story goes like this…

She never liked Pop-Tarts that much.
And yet an industrial box lived in her cupboard,
leftover from the Airbnb guests
who also were “non Pop-Tart lovers.”

Well-entrenched in a “social season,”
she had no time for grocery stores.
Life was too full of living, loving, and laughing
ferociously.
The only sustenance in her bright sunny apartment
covered in quotes and plants named Mary
after the virgin,
was an oversized box of Pop-Tarts.
Consumed only in the dark
after one or five too many libations
because she always forgot to eat
until she remembered,
and there were the Pop-Tarts
staring back.
Like an old friend you don’t really like
but you’re lonely, so you call.

These patterns repeated until only two silver packages remained.
“Not tonight!” she said,
outsmarting herself
before she went out on the town,
winning this game
once and for all.
Her strong hands of conviction
opened the cabinet
and with a smile of satisfaction
she walked the stale strawberry tarts to the trash.

But not just her trash can—
“that girl” was known far too well.
She would complete the mission down the hall;
the community trash can
would be the new home of the final two infamous tarts.

She threw them to fate,
jumped on her bike like a stallion,
riding out into the city lights.

And like every other night,
she came home, with a growling stomach or maybe a just growling mind.
With no shame,
barefoot,
she crept down the hallway
to the community trash room
with secret hopes that the Pop-Tarts were still alive.
Looking down the gray garbage can hole
right where she left them
the almost empty box of Pop-Tarts
said hello.

She justified the rescue operation,
and saved the year-old stale strawberry gems.
Crumbs were the only evidence,
except the memory
that morning,

Baby bird  eyes squinting at four a.m. light
but there was no more shame,
only love
for that little Pop-Tart stealing girl
and it was in that moment
she knew
she had arrived:
Inner critic freedom.
There must be hope for us all.
To be saved
from ourselves
into new paradigms
of unconditional love and self-worth
not even
year-old stale strawberry Pop-Tarts taken from the trash
could obliterate.

Time Stops For No One

They said, “Put the fight on hold,

Your knee will be ready soon.”

They said I’d return stronger

But I want to be strong now.

My aggressive pursuit of healing,

Does not need an Anterior Crucial Ligament

Because she’s unafraid to face plant.

Me versus me.

I looked into her sweet destructive eyes,

“Let’s go to war.”

Baring teeth, head held back in laughter,

We tapped gloves

Some days she beat me,

because she’s so goddamn smart and cunning.

But as I got lost in her depths

and said hello to the terrifying darkness,

I fell down blindly

On my knees,

to a bottomless pit of fiery ashes.

scorching my hands

Pleading fists to the sky for mercy.

Longing for painful wounds to disappear.

And then one day with a weary face, turned up to the light

the sun eclipsed

into brilliant madness moons of hope.

Shaky-boned power luminous

called by our collective human spirit,

to get back up.

cuddled by intimacy of our resurrection nature

Some say Rock bottom, but I say,

Over-flowing pots of gold at the rainbows end

Lucky charms got nothing

Because leprechauns aren’t real,

Human Beings are

And I believe in this shy little girl

Trauma stricken sweetheart

With imaginary unicorn friends,

Who transform mystical horns

Into rhino blood, ramming down

The constructs we swear to be true

Fantasy lies we were told,

about who we are and what is real.

No need for external elixirs

to be powerful, fun, wild, and free.

Radiant enough “as is”

blood pumping through veins called freedom.

It’s an inside job

A mafia of justice and redemption

Because I need me, more than ever

To step into the arena of life

Everyday.

Now is time to stick our emoji thumbs up for deliverance.

Singing redemption songs with the prophets who paved the way

Embedded in our fragile bomb bones

Maps of resilience

We find our way home.

And train for our fight camp they said was impossible

Because they feared our visionary eyes

To see through bullshit.

The voices desperately wishing our wisdom into conformity.

Unable to withstand the siren calls of vulnerable truth.

Liberation theories of the heart.

“Wait a few more months to fight?”

Nonsense.

Time stops for no one

So I’ll stare down this one “wild precious life”

and we will dance together.

Because battle scars are the tell tale sign

Of a well worn ride

Rolling in the melody of cackle like freedom and a healthy dose of crazy.

The Seduction of Power: A Story of Deliverance.

I no longer fear my own power.

For years, I kept it shoved down, caged into oblivion. Terrified to unleash the seemingly destructive force, untamed and rouge. Programmed voices in my head, “You are not strong enough to control this beast. Your will power is weak. You are too sensitive. Your emotionality will hurt yourself and more importantly others.”

But I say, “Fuc* that.”  My super power is a vulnerable, open soul. A ferocious love, falling so hard and often, that hearts break open, and on the other side is our human deliverance.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -Marianne Williamson

Dear Power,

You have always scared me.

Electricity inside my sought out body

not supposed to be real.

I was taught, you are too dangerous.

You must be contained.

The beast unleashed would wreak havoc on a world already in shambles.

The current order, abused by hungry wolves, seduced by their own greatness.

Possessed by the gods they think they are.

Small tribes of royalty, slashing naysayers of the throne.

They tell us,

Girls like you are out of control.

Threatening chaos to the order

Rings of Lords, not meant for fragile fingers of emotion.

Put a robe over your head and sing tales of a handmaid.

Burnt down,

by scarlet letters branded on our chests.

We see windows through the scars,

cackling at the moon.

Witches rising from the lakes you threw us in.

“And so we pray, oh my god do we pray

we pray every single day for revolution.”

And they say,

Be quiet silly girls,

Your power does not pass the smoke test of our bullshit.

Contain your demonic force, because we can’t handle temptation.

A hunter cannot restrain a voracious appetite for a juicy kill.

And so we roared,

a resonate bass, calling an army of #metoos,

knitting a cape of belligerent guts,

our middle fingers pointed up at the sky.

We willingly jumped out of the cage, unaware of the sentence.

The good girls our fathers raised,

crashed to a bloody death

The ancient desire, trembled our bones

Dominance.

Authority.

Leverage.

A ring we feared to accept,

Until one day

Face down in the ocean

low tide, gently rocking our hearts

Our hands filled with earthy sand

we found the tiniest of shells.

And we knew

we passed the test.

crowned warrior queens, worthy to wield the sword

of creation’s power.

We must all rise together, it’s the only way through.

DELIVERANCE

And then one day she opened her eyes,

feeling the weight of a silent morning. 

Smiling at the empty spaces

without a headache or a heartache

sediments of anger settled deep

turning over to kiss her comic tragedy on the cheek,

She no longer feared the fire.

Destruction lost it’s power to board up her heart.

And instead of drowning the ancient beast, 

she burned down instead. 

Rolling in the ashes

reaching down into earthy mess

she found her war paint 

to highlight the scars.

Her face dirty in radiant glory

glowing with resurrection legends of freedom. 

Her mouth wide open

unleashing a wild banshee wail 

to unlock cage doors of black and white borders.

No longer sentenced to a life should’s and shouldn’ts. 

Bailed out of conformity. 

My friends, 

risk being burned for what you love

for your own soul’s liberation.

Let it hurt like hell

because on the other side is your deliverance. 

Blaze ferociously 

until pure water rushes through your veins.

Healing tidal waves, brave enough to fight fires. 

Let yourself fall over and over 

because the tide will always return, 

in the soft glow of moonlight. 

Learn to flow with humor and grace,

trust your tears will not drown you.

Get back up

reintroduce yourself

with a wink and a smile

unshakable in your bones.

Let go of incessant need for control,

every detail of every day

remember the little one inside 

who saw through untamed eyes

a magical world of possibility. 

Turn towards your tender fragile heart 

give her a hug

Let him know he’s gonna be okay.

Do not fear what is yours yet to know 

call out to the ancestors

who sang stories written from stars 

combusting into nothingness and everything-ness.

You are a blip on the screen.

“let the beauty you love be what you do.”

Feel it all 

until the small drops

merge with a raging ocean of love

an endless horizon 

depths we cannot yet see.

Dive down, 

there is always a way back up

through the indomitable force of our human resilience. 

A relentless spirit.

It is yours 

It is mine

It ours.

It’s Okay

I’m not crazy.

Okay, maybe just a little but I’m fun.

I’m not broken.

I just sometimes cry a lot.

I no longer need a savior.

because I wake up in the morning

to my own alarm that I’d like to change, but I don’t.

I brush my own hair and my teeth too.

I make my own coffee and say good morning to silence.

It never smells like bacon anymore because no one cooks it for me.

But thats okay. I’m okay.

I ride my bike around the city, usually with a wet head and sometimes I forget my helmet.

I fix my own chain when it breaks, and shake off the ones that cage me in terror.

I wipe my own tears now, but most days I just let them flow

healing rivers down my face,

badges of humanity that I don’t mind sharing with the world.

I call my friends and my mom and they tell me

It’s okay.  You’re okay.

When I wake up in the middle of the night I no longer turn over on a hairy chest.

So I just get up and write.

When the roller coaster creaks slowly to the top, I look around and no one is sitting beside me

So instead of closing my eyes, I have to keep them open now

bracing for a “Texas Giant” fall.

And it’s okay.  I’m okay.

I used to lay on the couch without my feet propped up on a sturdy lap.

I turn the tv on and then off because I never really liked it anyways.

Sometimes I fall asleep and no one carries me to bed

or wakes me up with forehead kisses.

so I just get up and walk there myself .

I wasn’t sure if I could survive these turbulent waters

without a sea captain steering the ship.

but little did I know,

if I just look up,

the stars are a map.

Home has always been written on my fragile bomb of a heart.

The signposts are everywhere

if we just pay attention.

All the roses have a story to tell if we just listen

More than just piercing thorns

because when they bloom, the world basks in their simple beauty.

The rhythms inside are the natural order.

After the winter, spring follows

and then we peel our clothes off

to get naked

jumping into deep waters just because it feels good.

When the fall comes, the leaves will always die,

but they make way for barren land

so we know our resilience

to always rise again,

And so I’m learning to flow through these tidal waves inside my head

And somewhere in the distance I can still hear my coaches voice

“hit her in the face with your right hand” and I smile.

with gratitude for those all those who believed

before I believed in her.

Imbalance some may say, but I say beautiful destruction.

endearing as a tiara of hellfire.

Warding off those unworthy to touch.

A storm chaser

getting close enough to share pictures of magnificent annihilation

right before it obliterates all those in the path.

I pick up my own pieces now, and put puzzles back together.

I thought I wasn’t good at puzzles

But it’s okay. I’m okay.

Crawling is a way forward and many hands reach out to me.

They tell me I’m strong and that I have to get up

because leaders are made from the fabric of our most tender selves.

They say “without fear there is no courage”

and so i roar.

The army of lions surrounding me

a deafening ancient freedom call

blasting through fortress walls of right and wrong.

Breaking open boarded hearts,

volcanic eruptions of love.

I look people in the eye now

so they can see the parts of me that only my protectors knew.

and honestly,

the world really isn’t that scary.

so I’ll stop searching for a hero

because I can say hello to her every morning.

I can wash her face.

I can put her to bed and I tuck her in

and when loud noises go off

in the darkest hours

I can cuddle up with her.

and whisper in her ear,

It’s okay.  You’re okay.

Girls Like Us

They tell us to shut up,

Stop talking about your feelings

They don’t matter

in this grown up conversation.

They say we are chaos.

Destroyers of order.

Shakti dancing on your third eye.

spinning you around in circles

left dizzy from seduction.

Adorned by a necklace of skulls

erasing everything you knew to be true.

You drank our love and said it was poison.

An addiction.

Out of control.

Crazy.

You don’t know where we came from

the wildest ones

who refuse to be tamed.

Your bones tremble with ecstasy

begging on knees to forget us

questioning the very nature of existence.

We broke all the rules

and you broke our hearts

Open.

We are relentless.

Daughters of rebel warriors.

We give birth.

Cradle you in the arms of death,

cackling at the moon with savage eyes.

We thrive in the liminal spaces.

Transitional.

Hurricane winds annihilating antiquated order.

You can’t control us

and so your marrow shivers with regret.

They tell us we are bad.

Girls like us are perilous

We love too intensely.

We protect with an ancient ferocity.

When danger threatens

we claw their eyes out

sinking bloody teeth into flesh.

We are not your enemy.

We came to save, when you were supposed to save us

and maybe that’s why the world can’t understand girls like us,

we turn stories upside down.

Breathing compassion through dragon nostrils

like hell fire

shooting through the veins of a starving nation.

We fight with trickster wit

and fist if we have to,

but lead with the sweet melody of tender, open hearts

We rock the world on our bosom

until everyone has a home.

We see in circles

moving, living, organisms.

We lift all voices.

Power to the people.

We come in peace

Breathing acceptance into rigid spaces of right and wrong,

unafraid to bang our heads against

armored walls

Persistent rams

In aggressive pursuit of healing.

We know what a headache feels like

heartaches too

And even still, we wake up in the morning to feed the children.

A formidable tribe of messengers

We band together

spreading the gospel

of cutthroat intimacy,

sharper than any sword,

wiser then all belief systems.

We measure power in mystery.

divergent theory,

we look into your eyes, and see your soul

ourselves

deeply connected.

We do not stand in prosecution, but in tears

aching for

the vulnerable

the sick

the hungry ones

the lonely

those who think they are never are enough

drowning in shameful secrets.

The ones we know too well beneath our very own skin.

We are

The Maiden

The Mother

The Enchantress

The Crone

The Warrior

Cycles of blood clearing our vision

to see through bullshit.

Holding your deepest pain

and wrapping our arms around it.

We weep bitterly

gnash our teeth

shake fists to the great unknown.

They say, “stay quiet silly girls”

and we say “fuck you,”

with a smile of course

and when the anger subsides

the weapon of love annihilates

all those in range.

unleashing a raging flood,

brave enough to sink Noah’s ark

and re-imagine

a new creation story,

no longer two by two,

because we need all voices.

We do not wish to destroy order,

but breathe a pulse back into you,

re -imagining patterns of freedom,

an always evolving kaleidoscope.

We hold hands with fear

and kiss shame on the cheek.

Cages have become too boring

for our feral nature.

We demand liberation

starting with ourselves

and call upon courage to

dive down

spiraling into the depths of Hades

hanging our carcasses on a meathook.

In the silence

some may celebrate

that wicked witches are dead

banned to the underworld.

but little did they know,

from the ashes we rise together

stronger

more determined, clear, and inspired,

Indomitable forces.

They couldn’t burn us

So they took our words and shoved us in the dark,

but with an intuitive wink we giggle,

weaving back together visions of light,

Because they were never meant to be separate.

We are Sensual.

Undomesticated.

Our eternal hands raised up in wonder.

We bask and twirl under an endless blanket of stars.

The sirens will always call.

Because we were born to rise.

We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest.

I have a confession to make. I have spent most of my life not speaking up because I was afraid.

What about you? Have you ever silenced yourself, or shied away from the tough conversations because of fear?  Fear of failing? Fear of being seen less than perfect, or being seen at all?  Fear of getting kicked out of the tribe if they do not agree with your message, leaving you alone in the wilderness with the saber tooth tigers?

Toddlers throw tantrums when unexpressed and I’m sure we’ve all thrown a few in our adult lives.

So why do we do this? Why do we hold back our truth when we are in desperate need of  our real, vulnerable, courageous presence?

For myself, I thought I wasn’t worthy. I never had all the facts. Not aggressive enough. Too feminine.

I thought my ideas and deeper stirrings lived “out there,” on a different planet not called earth. I didn’t know how to translate my gutteral movement into mouth sounds.  So I shunned words.  I marked  them as irrelevant. I preferred speaking in stories, archetypes and symbols. I thought words were too small to capture big mystery, and so I talked to trees instead of people.

This is a worthwhile lifestyle if you are a monk on a mountain praying for the world, but it doesn’t work well for people in the trenches. Words are the communication tool to connect, educate and inspire.

I remember as a new Yoga teacher stumbling around for words to share my deepest self.  At the time, I was living at an AIDS hospice and my world revolved around death. Earlier that day, I had washed a dead body. For me, this was a routine occurrence, kind of like washing dishes. Needless to say, my death monologue highly offended the lunch ladies trying to find respite during their half pigeon pose.

I can look back, laugh, and love that girl for her ambition, but at the time it was quite frustrating.

In that same year, the owner of the Yoga studio gave me feedback on my teaching. I argued, “I feel like you are always judging me and it shuts me down.”  Her response to my rebuttal,

“Everyone is always judging you.”

The profundity of this statement blew my mind and handed me a key to freedom of speech.

We are always judging each other. It is a survival mechanism. Is that a snake or a rope? We have to decipher. People’s judgement is none of our business, and if we concern ourselves with the drama it has the danger of stifle our creative flow.

Why are we so afraid of losing the “tribes” approval at the demise of our own well being and self expression?

I may have been afraid to speak up and out, but I was fearless in following my heart, even when the culture, my parents, and status quo said “wrong way.” I followed the beat of my internal rhythm.  I left safe tribes, because I trusted something more substantial would catch me.

Blind leaps of faith, took me to the favelas of Brazil, streets of Denver, finally settling into a progressive seminary for a Masters of Divinity.

It was there I met the late Vincent Harding.

Vincent Harding was an activist and civil rights leader. He authored several books and wrote speeches for Martin Luther King. He didn’t speak loud or much but his presence preached lifetimes of wisdom. The first class I took with him was called “Religion and Human Transformation,” and the last was “Visions of a New Society.”

He would start each meeting with a song played from a cassette tape that you could hear sliding into the old school radio. He shared songs of freedom, Sweet Honey in the Rock.  He would close his eyes and hum as Ella Baker sang, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest.”

He fought on the front lines and made the weapon of love look so goddamn formidable and simple. He spoke like a prophet. I hung on his every word.

I remember reading one of his books and questioning his usage of the word “man” for “woman”.

He said simply, without any ego shattering, “things change, people change, things I couldn’t see before eventually got brought to light and it’s no big deal, we adapt.”

I understood this so deeply.  We are only able to see from our narrow experience of the world, but through the questions, the collective and adaptability, we have the power to see more.

So how does this connect to tribe?

When we understand our world is not limited to a small tribe, we feel liberated to take risks, because we know the diverse chaos will catch us. It’s trustworthy.  Our primal brain thinks, “snake”, and wildly we laugh, because we no longer need to fear snakes.  We know how to tame them.

Vincent Harding didn’t equate his inability to fully understand a woman’s perspective as a personal failure, but more a constantly evolving process of discovery.

He told stories of courageous love, people in the trenches of the Civil Rights Movement. It wasn’t romantic. He emphasized the grind, the sleepless nights, blood, sweat and tears of people who were sick of being slaves. Ordinary people who dreamed of a different order.

He said the motivation to keep marching, was derived by, raising voices together, “We shall overcome. We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday.”

There was a creative fire bigger than any individual and it could not be contained.

Vincent Harding’s teaching was the reason, I left my Masters of Divinity program. The war in Iraq was about to begin and he encouraged us to take action.

What were my gifts? Not protesting, not politics, but I knew how to be with people.

And so I jumped. Into Joseph’s House, an AIDS hospice for homeless men and women in Washington DC.

I wanted to be with people on the fringes. To listen to their stories, soak up the wisdom of this liminal space, life, death, and all the messy stuff in between. Curiosity drove me to continue expanding my bubble of what I knew to be true.

At the end of one year, I was to return and finish my Masters of Divinity. I had a full scholarship and my dad would be arriving in a few days, to help me drive stuff from DC back to CO.

A warm, summer, stoop night changed my trajectory. I sat with residents of Joseph’s House that were now my friends, smoking Newport menthols, shooting the shit, laughing, watching people pass by.

I told them I wasn’t ready to leave. They said matter of factly, “Don’t.  Ask if you can move in.”

What?!  That sounded like crazy talk.  There was not a paradigm for this.  What would that look like? How would it play out?

I did not have any answers, but in that moment my intuition said “Fuck Yes.”

Reason argued, “Your dad is coming in a few days. The plans have already been set. You have a full scholarship. This would be absurd and irresponsible.”

The director of Joseph’s House walked up an hour later. I told her I didn’t want to leave. She said, “Then don’t.  Stay.  Move in.” and I said another “Fuck Yes.”

That decision, changed the course of my life and I stayed in the trenches with homeless men and women dying of AIDS and cancer for the next 11 years.

Do we take these leaps because we are trying to change the world?  I think our deepest human nature understands the individual and collective are not separate. As Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

I  bring this full circle through fighting and writing.

I was tricked into Martial Arts by something called Budokon. I went to a Budokon training weekend, expecting to do yoga and move around like an animal. Instead there were two full days of punches in the face and rear naked chokes. I loved every minute of it.

From that day forward I sought out Martial Arts with the same vigor I did everything with.

I wanted to fight because it viscerally terrified me. It took me out of my comfort zone. My internal tribe of safety.

I also loved to train.  It made me feel alive and free.

The root cause of terror was a fear of exposure, of failing on a public platform. Of being marked inadequate in front of the tribe.

With shaky legs, I stepped in. Held by the support of coaches and training partners that saw my fear, but told me I was stronger.  They were my “freedom songs” of the civil rights movement. They looked me in the eye and said, “You’ve got this. Everything is going to be okay.”

While I was training for my first MMA fight, I tore my ACL.

I was devastated. Fighting was my passion and the activity I spent all my free time doing.

I had a choice in this moment. I could wish things were different and wait a year until I could train again. Or I could rewrite the story.

I chose the latter and my new fight became the aggressive pursuit of healing both externally and internally. I learned to walk again, slowly, with a forced patience that was a secret blessing.

I did not understand why this happened or if anything positive could ever come out of it, but I trusted life, got quiet, and asked the questions.

Who do I say I am now? Who do you say you are?

I have always been inspired by the Rilke poem, “ Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…..Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

A few weeks ago, I had an “AHA” moment.

I had been guest teaching at a Yoga training.  It was one of those “out of body” teaching experiences, when you know you are a conduit for something much greater than yourself. I was in a complete flow state and  finally found the words to connect my depth to the everyday world.

Afterwards, I jumped on my bike, pedaling as fast as I could to lead another Yoga Teacher Training. I didn’t want to miss a moment.

In route, I had to bike up one of the steepest hills in DC.  A hill I used to sprint up when training for fights. About halfway up, I wanted to stop and walk my bike.

Instead, I coached myself, “Angela, you are a fighter.  You will not give up.  You will get to the top of that hill without quitting.”  I barely made it and when I did, I threw my head back and laughed.  “I’m not a fighter. I’m a writer.”

For the first time since I tore my ACL, I saw glimpses of answers.

The inability to train for fights, left lots of free time and space to write. To practice finding my voice through the written word.  Just like stepping into a ring, becoming, naked, and exposed to public scrutiny and judgement.

It is a choice I am making because I think vulnerability is a powerful weapon.

Sure, showing our soft underbellies could get us killed in the wild.

But, I’m a Wild Woman, acquainted with death, who holds hands with fear and cackles at the moon.

Can we learn to  create art with broken hearts so they stay open to love?

Can we keep taking that small scary step forward until our strides get longer, voices get more clear and freedom is no longer a word to be mentioned. They just look in our eyes and know.

As humans, we thrive in intentional community, but our need for close minded tribes, is archaic.

The prophets, who see a new order, will most likely always be banned from the tribe and maybe that’s okay.

If we wander around lost for awhile, alone, the wilderness will whisper our nature. We are deeply connected.  Your pain is my pain.  My joy is your joy. I do not need to make you wrong so I can be right, because you bleed the same color as I do. Our lives depend on each other.

We are the authors of our own stories,  what adventures and magic do we want to imagine? The world is waiting to be painted with our brilliance, even if some will not understand the colors we choose, it’s still so goddamn worth it to create.

Girls Like me and those that fear them.

“Girls like me and those that fear them,”  is a project aiming to redefine Self Defense for women. The current Self Defense world is dominated by male paradigms and voices. This makes sense, because men have historically fought on the front lines, while the women took care of the home.

 

As the human species has evolved, we are less dependent on defined roles in order to survive as a society. We now have women emerging as leaders in the Self Defense/Martial Arts movement, but we are still operating and teaching Self Defense to women from a male dominant paradigm.

 

The goal of WWR and the Project “Girls like me and those that fear them,” is to infuse a female paradigm into the world of Self Defense. Our modality of gathering and sharing information will be through the art of storytelling.  Our desire is not to create an “us and them” dynamic, but to evoke the desperately needed feminine spark into the conversation.

 

Women offer a different perspective of fighting. Women will most likely be the smaller person in any altercation. Women are disproportionately the more vulnerable targets. So why are we teaching them to physically fight their way out of a dangerous situation?  As a competitive sport fighter, I think teaching women to physically fight can have tremendous benefits pertaining to boundary setting, reclaiming their masculinity, finding voice, decision making, cognitive function, reaction time, stress inoculation, and becoming physically stronger, so yes, it is important, but we must not stop there.  

 

WWR understands any movement of change needs to begin at the root cause.  We are suggesting an imperative topic of conversation: female sexuality.

 

We are not just talking about the act of sex. We are curious as to why 80 percent of women have admitted to faking an orgasm to please men, protect male egos or get sex over with because they are bored.  We are interested in highlighting a much more pervasive issue than just the act of sex. We would like to deconstruct the messages our culture sends to young women in regards to their female sexuality, such as, but not limited to, “Your sexuality is dangerous. It could get you killed. You need to protect yourself from men by not exuding your sexual nature.  It’s your responsibility if someone is attracted to you. You need to change your behavior, otherwise men will think you are attracted to them.”

 

Our world is in desperate need of the powerful feminine. (not strictly defined by gender, found in both male and female.)

For purposes of discussion, we are defining powerful feminine energy as:

 

Creativity, Fierce love and Compassion, (not soft, mushy, Disney shit), Circular leadership, Embrace of chaos, Comfortability with the unknown, Mystery, Beauty both inside and out, Sensuality through the body, Artistic expression, Deep intuition (defined as, the ability to see through bullshit straight to the deepest joys and pains of our human existence.)  Intimacy, Vulnerability, Freedom, Playful curiosity, Storytelling through written and spoken word.

 

Sex in a heterosexual culture is predominantly male-centric.  Most women, have been complicit in this ideology accepting how sex is currently defined as the norm.  They contort their bodies and spend countless hours and resources to look beautiful in order to “capture a man.” #metoo.  I have been there and am ready to stop this madness, because it is exhausting and keeps women caged in. It also creates unnecessary competition amongst women.  

 

The #metoo movement was an ambitious beginning to raise awareness, but we would like to suggest something less reactionary and more action oriented.

 

As women, it is our responsibility to come out of the closet and speak up. It is our job to question the current system, share our voice, and be willing to stand in the shadow of criticism if needed.

 

Not with anger, self righteousness or linear agendas, but to integrate, adapt and re-imagine a new paradigm where all voices are heard.  This takes courage, the ability to not have answers, the necessity to have conversations especially with those who see differently than us, and the ability to listen with a sense of curiosity rather than rightness.

 

We believe that our world needs both Chaos and Order to operate at its most naturally evolved stasis, and we would like to offer a ferocious dose of chaos by unleashing our female sexuality.

 

Our project will be focused on collecting stories from women and men spanning all walks of life, age, race, class, geographic location, profession, sexual orientation,etc, around the issue of “female sexuality as dangerous”  We will ask specific questions to spark the archetypal realm of our collective human story.

 

Human beings have evolved and carried on culture through storytelling.  Our documentary will employ this modality, while moderated by the WWR team.

 

We the people are the movement and when one of us chooses to rise, we all rise.
www.warriorwomanrepublic.com

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