The Liberation in Discomfort

The Liberation in Discomfort

Gentrifiers for social justice – one of life’s many paradoxes

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be uncomfortable and why folks are so terrified of the idea. The illusion of certainty (even if the certainty is not of something appealing) is reassuring, while the reality of how messy we are as humans can make us very uncomfortable.

For the last couple of thousand years we’ve done a phenomenal job of denying our nature, exiling parts of ourselves that would have made it impossible to develop an extremely patriarchal, misogynistic, racist, neoliberal capitalist system that has us struggling for liberation. We’ve bolstered a system that favors some kinds of ideas over others: the idea of being male, straight, able bodied, wealthy, being somehow superior. That system only works if we embrace the idea that some humans are better than others, and that we are all too different.

But no humans are better than others, and we are all the same. This is not about gender, race, sexual orientation, class, income, wealth, or any other category we put each other in. This is about the fact that putting each other in categories to the extreme that we have is toxic for our souls, and destructive to communities and societies. Only when we box each other as an “other” can we abuse and exploit the shit out of each other (which is how all “isms” operate).

And yet, of course we are all different, and those differences make life amazing.  Those differences also have made some of our lives a living hell for generations, simply because we are in the wrong box. My point is that we are not so different that some of us “deserve” better or more than others. Both things are true: we are all unique and we are all the same, we are all different and yet we are all one. Life is a paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable.

I’m deeply fascinated by the intersection of spirituality and activism, because we have got to embrace the paradox that I’m describing to make any real change. We have got to consider that we all have different visions, wants, and needs, and yet we are the same in that we all want a way to fulfill those visions and wants and needs. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe paradox to be Life’s organizing principle, and the only way I know to come to terms with paradox is spiritual practice.

My brain can’t easily accept paradox, not in the way my heart and my spirit can. The truth is, every single category that we use to alienate and abuse one another is present in all of us. Some people might look perfectly healthy and be struggling with disease or disability. I am a woman and yet have many of the characteristics that are traditionally associated with men. Men are also suffering from not being able to express their full selves in a system that discourages them from owning every aspect of their being. And all other genders under the sun are fighting to even be acknowledged and seen. What is wrong with us?!? I am horrified by what overconsumption is doing to our bodies and souls and the planet, yet I definitely have a greedy streak in my being. You do too. We all do.

So as long as we don’t get comfortable with paradox, we’re gonna continue to put ourselves and each other in tiny little constraining boxes of good vs. bad and us vs. them, forgetting that we are all victims and we are all perpetrators, that we are all divine and also evil at the same time. All of us. These boxes are not moving us towards liberation. At all. They are keeping us imprisoned. 

And yet, our identities are critical and sacred and we can’t lose them, and we shouldn’t lose them. But we really need to stop weaponizing them. We can’t hold who we are against each other. We need to keep the boxes in the way they elevate who we are and we must dismantle them in the ways we use them to abuse each other. Both are true. This is a paradox, and it can be uncomfortable. It’s more comfortable to hang on to the illusion of certainty than it is to accept the reality of paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable. But it is in that discomfort that we walk the path of liberation. I’m not suggesting you enjoy it, I just encourage you to get comfortable enough with it so that we stop self sabotaging our liberation. In this way, we truly are all in it together.

Two Magical Powers for Evil Times

Two Magical Powers for Evil Times

Magic is both nature and in nature

Because the times demand it, I’ve been very focused on the sociopolitical situation in the US for the last few weeks. These are atrocious, scary, shifting, evil times. Those are strong words but a string of lynchings in the US are at the very least evil. Today I want to share with you two magical powers that can help us all at the very least get through this, and hopefully even begin to heal and transform ourselves away from these evil times.

Magical Power #1: Paradox

The most powerful message I can share with you today is this: Paradox is Life’s Organizing Principle. 

It is absolutely critical that you develop the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual practice of becoming comfortable with paradox. For example: we are all part of the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Death is absolutely inevitable. Yet that is no reason to be apathetic about the systematic killing of people. Here is another example: You will most likely make absolutely no difference, but you absolutely cannot not try. Because we never really know what will actually shift things, you have to consistently throw all your love and mind and energy and resources at it, not because of the outcome, but because your contribution to chasing it will eventually get us all there. Last one: You must put yourself first so that you have a good life and the only way to have a good life is by being of service to others. Both of these statements are true, and finding a way to embody them is the key to liberation and happiness and it takes most people a lifetime. Many don’t even try, they get stuck in selfish soullessness or they become martyrs for causes that didn’t need more martyrs. Don’t be that person.

Magical Power #2: Nature

Second Magical Power to handle these evil times: remember you are an ANIMAL. A Human animal.

This means that you are in and of nature as much as dogs and trees and the ocean and your favorite musician and your most detested politician and rats. And that means that you are part of the elements and the elements are part of you. Staying connected to the wind, the fire, the water, and the land is critical for your sanity and wellbeing. It will also help you align your mind, energy, emotions, and body, and connect to the Earth and the Universe at large. Realizing that you are just another animal on this planet is quite liberating: you are simply playing a part in the larger ecosystem and you’re not that big of a deal. You need to eat, sleep, fuck, feel safe and connected – it’s not that complicated. Yet, following Magical Power #1, the paradox is that you’re not just an animal, you’re a Human animal, which means you have the capacity for thought, spiritual evolution, agency, and choice. You can choose to live a whole life. You can choose to live a loving life. You can choose to demand human rights for all. And a bunch of other things that our kin in the animal kingdom don’t get to do in the same way. The more you surrender to the paradox of your insignificance as just another beast on this rock, the more important your role as a human will become, and the more meaning your life will have, and the happier you will get, and the bigger difference you’ll make for others and yourself before your time is up. 

And these powers of accepting paradox and understanding nature and my part in it, are a sweet little taste of what magic is about, and how it can help us through and transform these times.

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones

Witchy tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones.

I believe that change happens from the inside out, and from the outside in, that we need systemic transformations as much as personal evolution, that all we can do is what we can do today but that we can’t not do it. You with me?

So this week Imma tell you about how to handle your racist loved one. This is NOT instead of doing your part on the systemic change: being an active civic participant at the local and federal levels, buying from Black-owned businesses, protesting, signing petitions, etc…you can find so many resources online on how to engage in this moment. Make sure you do that as much as possible.

But today, I’m focusing on helping you survive the next family gathering, or tonight’s dinner, with your racist loved one.

 

Tip #1: Listen (people rarely change their minds because they’re told to).

When your loved one says some fucked up shit, it’s usually to serve a purpose – that idea has a function in their life. It’s a way of making sense of the world, of justifying how messed up things are, of feeling better about themselves. Just listening for the subtext of their racism will help you deal better with their idiocy (remember, we’re talking about loved ones, you’re even bothering engaging with these people because love is love). It will give you some insight about what fear their racism is actually masking. On occasion, it seems like some people just wanna hate for no reason. However, no baby is born racist, we all had to learn it. There is something else going on beneath that racism. Listen for it.

Tip #2: Empathize (people wanna feel understood – even racists)

Once you get a hold of what’s actually going on that’s making your loved one say unspeakably fucked up shit, you’ll be better equipped to engage in true dialogue with them. Reassure them that you are understanding the underlying fear/ need/ worldview that is leading them to speak as they do, despite the fact that you disagree with it 100%.

Tip #3: Find common ground (people want the same things, we just disagree on how to get there)

From Tip #2 you should have a good idea about what the underlying fear/ need/ worldview your racist loved one is holding that’s feeding their racism. For example, they want to feel safe, they want to have financial security, they want a bright future for their families. Make sure you share with them about your own desires and aspirations, fears and needs, and agree that these are all very human needs to have, but…

Tip #4: Offer new ideas (people can and do learn)

…being racist is not gonna make your life any better off just by fucking up someone else’s. Human rights are not pie, we’re not gonna run out if we all have them. Make sure you’re versed enough on the basics of systemic racism that you can build a compelling argument about why not being an asshole won’t hurt them.

Tip #5: Know when to STFU (people sometimes need to be left alone)

Some people don’t really wanna listen -yet. They’re not ready to evolve. That’s cool. You wouldn’t shame a sapling for not being a tree, but the water and sunshine you bring to them will in fact come in handy down the road. Just trust.

Tip #6: Let go of the outcome (people do change the world, but rarely in the way they think)

The point of talking about race with your racist loved one is not having them become anti-tracist overnight, but of you being the best anti-racist you can. And who knows, a few years down the line this convo might be remembered by them as the first step on their own journey for liberation.

Tip #7: Keep going (you can’t change the world, but you can begin to change it)

Again, we have no idea what actual role we’re playing in life. We don’t know who we are helping change. We can’t tell how far our love will reach. We just do the right thing anyway, because being that way is the best way to be, and not because we get a cookie at the end.

So there you have it, 7 tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones. If you want to join the upcoming workshops with way more tools and resources to do this gracefully, let me know here: 

4 + 9 =

Productivity: Personal & Political

Productivity: Personal & Political

When it’s macro, this is what the solution looks like

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about productivity recently. For one, it seems to be in the ether – given the pandemic, people are trying to figure out how to “do it all”. If you are fortunate enough to still have a job that you can work from home, how do you get it done while juggling housekeeping and childcare? Or if you need to still go to work, how do you stay safe and keep your family healthy? If you no longer have a job, how are you gonna make ends meet? Folks are struggling with a terribly long and challenging to do list.

I am in the ridiculously privileged situation of having work to do, doing it mostly from home for years (pre-dating the plague), and living alone. Which means that right now I don’t have to travel for work at all and I just get to stay home and work, cook, work out, eat, work magic, sleep, whatever. All from home, but with no distractions other than the ones I choose for myself.

And yet, I’m having a really hard time “getting it all done”. So I’ve been sitting with the question of what “it all” is, and what the value of getting it done actually is. For me it looks like this:

Everyday, I need to sit at my altar. I pull a card, I journal, and I meditate for 20 minutes. Sometimes I work on other witchy stuff as well, but those three actions are non-negotiables, which means that I sit at the altar for at least 30 minutes everyday. I do this because my relationship with Spirit is what guides everything else in my life. Also because if not other people are more likely to get The Look™ from me, usually for no good reason. So I do need to start the day with spiritual alignment and mental and emotional hygiene.

A month ago, I started working out at home. I did a 30 day challenge of working out for 15 minutes e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y and I actually completed it, so I graduated to the 90 day version and while I’m freaking exhausted all. the. time. I’m going for it. Because I know I wanna be able to reach my knees 20 years from now, and also the endorphins do help the mental health. It’s boring and I hate it but I do it anyway cause I trust it’s the best thing for me in the long run. So I’m looking for a way to really build this into my routine. Today I got around to it at 3pm. Ha.

My consulting work has me working with folks that wanna get the current clown out of the White House and reform democracy in the US, and another group that wants to accelerate global ecosystem restoration. I love both ideas, I’m happy to help, feel great to be able to contribute…and they pay my bills. So this takes a whole lot of my waking hours. As it should.

I also want to write more, do more tarot readings, finish the online course I’m developing, sell the script I FINALLY completed after talk to my mom, see my little niece online, hang with my friends, spend time with my partner. All of this feels like a lot to fit into a day or a month. And I don’t even have the added burden of having to look after a family or have to look for a job or feel at constant risk of getting sick (not any more than anyone else following all the precautions). And yet the feeling that it’s all “too much” is still real.

A smart friend once told me that if you’re not happy with something there are two options: the problem is micro, at the individual level, in which case get help (i.e. go to the shrink, a support group, read self-help, work magic, etc.) or it’s macro, at the systemic level, in which case – organize!

I believe that right now the transformation underway is asking us to look at our lives from both perspectives. From a personal standpoint: what do you really care about? What do you actually need? What do you value most? Is your life set up to deeply nurture those things? How can you get support? From a systemic perspective: you are not imagining it, you are a pawn of the powerful, your needs are not being considered, and you are in fact being asked to do the impossible – and somehow you are doing, holy shit you’re awesome! But enough is enough. 

Please consider what is feasible, and what is definitely asking too much of a human, and decide if you need to address it at the individual level or at the macro level. Do not be afraid to share with others where you feel at your capacity – chances are others are feeling it too. Do not feel inadequate that you can’t “do it all” – no one can! And why would you want to? For me, I’ve realized that a lot of what I really value most are things that don’t pay the bills, and that most folks would consider a waste of time. Luckily, I have been able to find ways to support myself financially that I don’t mind at all, and I am free to spend the rest of my time witching the fuck out, not having to justify it to anyone. But the logistical work to get here on the practical level and the emotional work of getting right with myself to value what I value and like what I like and do what I do was not easy. Or fast. And so worth it. Still, we have a shitton of work to do on the macro level. See you there.

A Witch’s Inner Work

A Witch’s Inner Work

 

In the time of Covid, there’s been a lot of discussion about what “work” actually is. Many men (mostly men, anyway), who weren’t able to acknowledge care work and domestic work before the plague, are floored at how much work it takes to just “be”: to be clean, fed, clothed, tended to, cared for, schooled, etc. Especially for cishet families that are stuck at home, many of the men have been getting a felt experience of the ridiculous amount of (usually unpaid) work that women do to keep the world turning. And many, if not most of them, are in shock.

This points to systemic inequities. The fact that some work is valued more than other work is not news and is not even interesting. Much work of questionable real and practical value and worth (say, managing financial investments) is paid exponentially better than actual work of real and practical value and worth (say, housekeeping). It just so happens that the better paid work that I’m not sure I see how it contributes to the betterment of humanity tends to be in fields that are male dominated, and the less paid work…you guessed it.

So imagine how much more devalued “inner work” is. I am defining inner work loosely here, as any and all work that leads you to be becoming a kinder person, a more generous and compassionate human being, a better comrade to the human race. This is the hardest work there is. It takes the most courage. It feels like the slowest job on the planet. It can be lonely and painful at times. It is not only unpaid, but it usually is quite expensive: it requires time, energy, and money for therapy, workshops, self-help books, classes, the list goes on. Because the most critical work of aligning ourselves with our purpose, of healing our hurts and forgiving each other, and of becoming the people that we need to be to love ourselves and one another is not work that most of us know how to do.

Which explains the state of the world.

When we don’t know how to sit still, when we don’t know how to connect to our clearest essence, when we don’t know how to listen to our intuition, when we don’t know how to reveal to ourselves our deepest truths, when we don’t know even where to begin with all of this – we’re bound to make a mess. When we don’t have the basic tools to do the most basic work, we stay confused, we become separate from our souls, we disconnect from each other, and we perpetuate a system that doesn’t support us doing our inner work.

We continue to zombie out in front of screens, we live in fear of staying or going broke, we eat and drink and shop and fuck our feelings away instead of staying with them until they pass, as they inevitably always do. And the outcome of this is an economic system that perpetuates our inability to have a full human experience, and a personal experience that just fucking hurts.

So I’m sharing with you that yesterday, I did a simple banishing ritual that left me feeling shiny and new. I was carrying around fear that was really serving no purpose, and I decided to do what I know works to get rid of it (if you want the detailed version, email me). And while I don’t really expect to get paid for doing my own inner work, I am damn ready for us to acknowledge that it IS, in fact, work. And this sacred work doesn’t only make my life better, it benefits us all. When I take care of the crap that is weighing me down and will, invariably, come out sideways either to innocent victims or my partner or family or clients, I ensure I am that one less lunatic roaming the interwebs (it used to be the streets, and I hope this is the case again soon – but for now, the interwebs) spreading shit that the world doesn’t need. And hopefully, even modeling ways of being that will deliver the new world we are all ready for these days.

Don’t be ashamed to take credit for your hard work, even if the patriarchal, misogynistic, white supremacist, neoliberal capitalist system we are in wants to erase you. Fuck it, I see you.

Who has the Power and Authority?

Who has the Power and Authority?

This is where I find my power and authority

I have two main interests in life: making my life better, and making everyone else’s life better. Yes, I come first, cause if I’m doing like shit I’m no good to anyone else. This took me years to understand and accept, but it’s working relatively OK now – the balance between focusing on me without being a complete egomaniac and on focusing on everyone else without becoming a martyr.

In the midst of this pandemic, I have been paying special attention to where my attention goes, both in the “making my life better” and “making everyone else’s life better” categories.

In the former category, I’ve noticed positives and negatives. My attention goes way too much to what I call “falling into internet holes.” Which is spending too much time online reading shit that I would have never consciously chosen to read but that I found myself in the middle of after clicking on a link from a link from a link from a link that was originally (marginally) worth my while. This is annoying.  But my attention has also been going to some more valuable endeavors: I’ve been paying attention to my food, cooking almost every meal, making sure I like it, it’s good for me, it’s serving my health. This is a big shift for someone who considers food a bit of a hassle in general. I’m working out again, since I realized that if I wait until I can go back to the gym I may not be able to reach my knees by then. I’ve been reading books – on paper, my favorite kind. All things nice and good.

As part of the “making everyone else’s life better” category, I try to follow what’s going on in the world at large, and yeah, it does look like we are pretty fucked in general, all over the planet. I don’t even need to list evidence of that, I’m sure you know. And, then there are little rays of hope – that are not little at all. Exhibit A: California’s Governor Newsom is not only doing an amazing job of leading through the pandemic and prioritizing peoples health, but he’s doing it with flair and a built-in fuck you to Washington DC. He’s been calling California a nation-state, which is awesome and has been irking a few people. I have always maintained that the nation state is a bit of an obsolete notion, but seeing the tiniest glimmer of hope for a Calexit in the governor’s discourse is just super exciting. Exhibit B: Also, cause the federal government could not suck any harder in regards to how they’ve (and by them I mean he but I refuse to name him) handled the crisis, California, Washington and Oregon are gonna do the right thing and agree on how to handle the pandemic without waiting for DC’s fuckery to get in the way.

Why do I mention this in the same breath as my cheesy cooking and exercise routine? Because acknowledging CA’s autonomy and agency and power to look after itself is not “approved” by any official channel, Newsom just took it upon himself cause he’s the freakin’ governor ffs and so if he’s not the one to make that call, then who? In the same way that we are all sovereign over our own lives and we are totally entitled and ready to make the changes that we want to ensure we are excited to be living our lives. We don’t need anyone’s approval, we don’t need to wait for the right time, we don’t need to not piss people off. 

So Western states needed to work together to do the right thing? They went right the fuck ahead and did it. Why wouldn’t they? Take a cue from government, this one and only rare instance when it’s being inspiring. Do you need to get married or divorced, start a business or leave a job, spend more or less time working out? Go right the fuck ahead and do it, because YOU are in full possession of your life and no one is gonna come troubleshoot it for you. You are it, love. Get all the help you need, but for fuck’s sake, don’t stop. Go for the life you deserve. Remember you are the President and biggest stakeholder and only audience for your heart’s desire. 

Oh, and all those hours falling into internet holes? Those were absolutely crucial to truly understand that that’s not where I want my attention to be. Of course I would have rather not “wasted” that time, but it’s not the end of the world and everyone is stressed out as fuck and doing weird shit and who cares. Being nice to me is more important than feeling I’m not “wasting time”. I hope that is true for you too.

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