on far-reaching solidarity

marching to the beat of my own drum

marching to the beat of my own drum

Sitting on my balcony listening to the last of the crickets, feeling some heat on my face, a bit of tasty sun. I hear a little girl's voice giggling nearby.

Very sweet.

Then a man's booming voice cuts through the joy, "No. You can't do that. You can't do that. You're not strong enough!"

I take a look ... curious.

I see the little girl crossing the street skipping gleefully after the man. She says, "Papou (grandpa), I am strong enough. I AM strong enough! The thing was just a bit slippy! I'm strong!"

I think to myself, "Ya, you are! You are kickass strong and I am so proud of you declaring it loud and proud. Your papou just couldn't see beyond the given circumstances. Sometimes folks get nearsighted. They just know what they know. But you, dear one, are potential incarnate.

I whispered this in her ear in the form of love waves and butterfly kisses.

In solidarity, I yelled it myself from my cosmic rooftop!

"I am strong. I Am Strong!

Thanks kid! You helped me more than you will ever know.

on pride

stock swing photo doesn’t hold a candle to my old swing set …

stock swing photo doesn’t hold a candle to my old swing set …

i used to invite my girlfriends over in grade 5 and school them on the praxis of sex. we would swing from the rickety swing set in my parent’s front yard (one of the leg posts would occasionally lift up from off the ground and we’d all hold our breath, wondering if this would be the time we’d all topple over. we never did) and i would offer up what i felt was solid advice about all things love, relationships, and sexual practice. having memorized just about every page from my sister’s sociology of sex college textbooks, i experienced a deep sense of pride as I offered clinical information about my friends’ vulvas, hearts and ovaries. pride in my ability to synthesize clinical information into something relatable. pride in my lack of discomfort on the subject matter (i knew my friends were plenty shy about it all and i loved creating a safe environment so that they could feel free to ask questions). proud of my ability to move through the shame that my parents were actively trying to teach me about my body (according to their upbringing, our bodies were ‘dirty’). i was also proud in my ability to hold space for all the things we all didn’t quite know yet … no matter how much information the books gave us … we were children and we knew it would be years before any of us got to really experience things like sex, pregnancy and menopause. but some of us had already begun to menstruate and having a specific time to meet up and talk about our changing bodies was sacred for most of us. i’m convinced that the healthy relationship i have always had with my period is directly related to all of those front yard meetings. then again, i could simply be lucky that i never suffered from menstrual cramps. i know. i know. i count myself blessed.

i like pride.

there. i’ve said it.

i’m proud of that thing that sparked inside me of as a little kid that chose to detangle the harmful understandings of my social circle’s sexual upbringing. i’m proud that i listened to my impulses instead of being driven by the opinion and beliefs of others. i’m proud of myself for having known better. that i refused to feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilted out for what i was. a girl. with reproductive organs. and also a pulse of desire to feel pleasure. and express it with increased abandon. 

one case of pride among many. this is a very early example.

so many other moments of pride to shout out about. and i think it’s important … crucial, even, that i list them. that i list them and that i read them over and over again to myself. especially on days when i am low and forgetting just how awesome i am. 

i know it’s not common practice to talk about the things we are proud of in this culture. certainly not cool to publicize them. especially as women. we’re supposed to be humble and altruistic and all things gentle and self-effacing. i’m aware that, perhaps, religion and politics may have wormed their way into most humans’ psyches and have tried to extinguish pride as a moral practice. religious texts abound that reference pride directly as a sin. and even many non-religious people believe that a truly genuine act does not make room for the selfish state of pride. its not about you, they often judge. and it’s certainly not about how good you feel for having accomplished the thing.

i know i’m not alone in this … i offer that pride of oneself and of one’s accomplishments is a glorious thing. it’s a deep celebration of all that you are and it acknowledges and applauds your outreach and all that makes this world a better place for yourself and others around you. also, f*ck it, whatever makes you feel good and impactful and lifts you to a place of I Count, I Am Valuable, I Am Significant and Worthy and I Am In Right Relationship to Those Around Me and to Those Who Share This Planet is a really cool thing. 

i guess i could say, sure, it’s a tricky thing if one derives their sense of pride only from the accolades and approval of others. if that is the motivation of the act. that one derives their sense of pride from the gaze of others or what they imagine to be the gaze of others.  if their sense of pride would disappear the moment someone gives them a side glance or questions their act. if the sensation of pride is that precarious … then, i wonder if the state should be called pride at all. perhaps more of something that rather speaks to a neediness and is more about insecurity than pride. 

for me, authentic pride speaks to a yesness and is unshakeable. it’s a ‘hell yeah!’ that speaks to our resilience and capacity for having dealt with something. an unshakeable sense of expansion that is felt from having created something, moved through something, built and advanced something. that speaks to an acknowledgment of one’s skills and gifts and their awesome impact.

that, in my opinion, is f*cking sexy.

pride is f*cking sexy.

confidence and self-respect, feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction from one’s own achievements (webster’s definition of pride, folks) is sexy.

and for those folks out there who still feel uncomfortable with the idea of indulging in it, i want to offer this gentle prompt … perhaps its time to consider the resistance to feeling pride as a dysfunctional (read: learned) system of thought. kids naturally feel pride. it’s taught out of us. its political, peeps. the less pride we feel about our true accomplishments, the more susceptible we are to being told what is valuable from the outside … that includes media, systems of dominance, governments and consumer culture … and i posit, it’s a downward spiral toward climate demise. if you don’t feel you count, how are you supposed to care about what’s happening to your planet right now.

i’m offering that you take your moments … to refuel in what is working. what has worked. how you realize you make a difference. to feel it. to list it and to feel it. to list your accomplishments, especially if you are an activist of any kind. fuel up. do that for yourself. be deliciously proud. proud proud proud.

signing off now to go list off some things i’m most proud about myself and my achievements to date. i promise you, it will be pages and pages!

on vinyl couches

plastic runner with grips

plastic runner with grips

ever had your thighs stick to plastic? in the middle of summertime? it requires a shit ton of patience to peel yourself free from it’s tricky little polymer grip. i had it down to an art.

my parents had this living room. it was covered in plastic. the couch, the lamps, even the carpet … all covered with this sheer plastic covering.

they referred to it as the good living room.  

the good living room was for special guests only. notably, it was rare a guest was deemed special enough to enter. all in all, the good living room was a tough nut to crack. 

i snuck in anyway.  

there was a time when the good living room was just called … the living room. it was before all the renos. that living room saw a lot of living. my folks struggled considerably when they first moved to canada. and they struggled considerably with one another. considerably is a careful word. nonetheless, the living room held space for a lot of that considerable struggle … especially the barrel couch with the bar cabinet built right into it’s centre. 

i snuck me some sweet tastiness from that bar cabinet sometimes when they were not looking. fermented cherry wine. from greece. the best.

in one of his renos, my dad transformed the basement into a den of sorts. the basement had been this dark and damp place. a place for only storage and the furnace. very creepy. there’s this story of my eldest sister bumping her head into a lamb that was hanging there to bleed out in the dark … i understand she had thought it was a pet … my parents had it grazing in the front yard for a while. i suppose it was going to serve as dinner for the upcoming week.  new greeks living in tough ol’ montreal north. we must have been a sight. i really should check in with my sisters to verify the validity of this story … families tend to create myths in memory.  

so then, the original living room became a do not enter zone. new furniture was bought. matching lamps were placed on small round marble tables. a new carpet was laid. and dozens of mirrors with a faint vine decal painted on them were attached to one of the walls to give the room the appearance of grandeur.  the whole thing was meticulously covered up in this sheer protective cover. everything but the mirrors. but then again, they did have a smokey tint to them … so. 

we were no longer allowed to play in there.

can this be considered gentrification? sorry bleeding lamb(s?), we’re moving in. too many memories in the old living room. got us a reno going on in there … right now, it’s too smothered in off-gasses. so, yeah, this place has potential … nice … thanks for the basement. never been lived in, has it? you were just hanging around for a while?  we’ll lay down some carpet, clean off the walls and put up twinkly lights. the kids can play their music real loud in this new space. we’ll plaster stucco on the ceiling … a snazzy design to remind us of our heritage … two inch spikes of gypsum dripping from above … stalactites that’ll scratch the top of your head if you’re taller that 6’ and not too careful. 

a little while ago, i discovered a saran wrap-thin coating of plastic hidden deep within my being. it was fitted so securely on the inside of my visceral body, my dura mater. i had no idea it was there. invisible on the outside. genius. i noticed it when it began to manifest in chronic back and neck pain, limiting my movement, forcing me to turn in. a kinetics session with a brilliant body worker uncovered everything. the practitioner placed a small ball under my pain, did some cranio-sacral work as my back was releasing and all of a sudden, a gripping cold white fear ran through my upper back. childhood memories. flooded out. rage. mine. and what i had absorbed from my dad. his anguish. a body imprint … a psychophysical photograph of sudden and violent impact. experienced as a baby. i had stopped breathing for a bit apparently. he vowed to get his shit together. it would be a struggle. my dad. an actual decent human being. who did some solid things. like feed his family. and was class parent in all my school field trips. who waved at me from the audience like a silly person whenever i was performing in a high school play. who also had a temper. struggling so hard to make ends meet. to get a hold of his life. to make appearances. he didn’t quite know what to do with his pain. he just kept adding rooms to the house. every few years, a new reno. every few years, another room deemed untouchable.

repressed trauma. what flooded out was new information. and it floored me.  when the plastic was stripped, i shook for weeks. i wept and wept and rattled and burst. and throughout it all, something in me was shouting finally! my nakedness held me by the hand. all you’ve got to do now is keep witnessing it. live in it. feel it. let it move its way through you. let all that stuck energy move about and disperse. breathe.

strangely, part of the healing included forgiving myself for the imprint. not for having done anything wrong. but simply for the act of imprint. of forgiving the layer of protection. my rational brain still has a challenging time wrapping itself around that. but its what’s healed my back pain.

i remember helping my mother remove the plastic covering in the good living room on those rare moments when people were actually expected to enter the forbidden space. the plastic sheet that had covered the carpet had these little cleats in it so that it could grip the carpet better and keep it from slipping off. when we would remove the plastic covering, the carpet had these little permanent grooves in it.

i used to caress the grooves in the carpet to help the fibres spread out a bit easier. so, i guess, forgiving the imprint was a kind of caress. maybe a better word for the whole process is understanding.  

back pain released, i’ve started strengthening exercises again. which allow for more supportive body investigations and impulses to fly physically free. so, yay for freedom. rebirth. restoration.  i’m back to choreographing and demonstrating in my teaching. 

the body … such a whisperer

and

gentrification is a motherfucker … 

just sayin.

i am 

home. i am 

free. i am

breathing

i am 

naked 

… a big thank you to my hand-holders, my heart pals, my therapist, my body workers. they were a blessed buoy to me throughout.

Untethering …

kanchanaburi, thailand. dusk.

kanchanaburi, thailand. dusk.

(potential trigger warning: a mention of the systematic abuse of animals in tourism practices)

several years ago, i went to thailand with a close friend. i planned to travel for a chunk of time with hopes of mining some deeper sense of purpose for myself … soulful excavation. 

at the airport, i remember affectionately calling my trip the ‘shaking of my snow globe’ … a destabilizing of all the particles that were making me ‘me’.

i knew it was not going to be an easy trip. thailand was going through incredible social unrest. this was during the 2013–2014 thai political crisis and there were frequent government mobilizations and increasing public pushback protests in bangkok. the canadian embassy was advising against the travel but something in my gut insisted i journey there. so, i set off to visit a country that was deeply wounded … 

needless to say, a lot happened while i was there. on the day we arrived in bangkok, the government had issued a dismantling of all protest sites. we were caught in the panicked crowds, gunshots flaring, the sound of bombs heard in the near distance.

things eventually tempered. we carefully maneuvered our way out of the city and were met by the most absurd contrast. clear skies. calm hearts. extraordinary food. we soaked up the breathtaking country. this struck me. how things move on. how life continues forward somehow.

we eventually landed in chiang mai, a mountainous city in the northern tip of thailand.  my lovely pal and i were seduced into taking a guided tour. i’m not the tour package kinda human. i rarely do them. i find them lame, uninspiring and frankly, myopic. this one intrigued me, however. it was going to be an elephant-themed tour and, well, i have always been a big fan of elephants. i was excited about it. the dread i had been carting with me since bangkok slowly slid off my being.

in the hot beaming sun, we were driven to the location where ‘our’ elephants were waiting for us. two magnificent creatures. positively massive. 

‘my’ elephant was walked over to me. she swiftly steered her head toward me and looked me straight on. the dread came back. her eyes looked dull. there was a certain agitation vibrating deep within her.  

there is so much to say about this moment. how i, nonetheless, climbed onto her back even when everything in my belly told me this was wrong. how no one else seemed to notice … or cared to notice … how wrong this felt. everyone caught up in the exotic adventure of it all. none of us had ever been this close to a wild animal before. seemed to overshadow everything. i recognize this now as the cloaked markings of white supremacy. very soul-wrenching.

we were mounted three humans to a saddle. the handler insisted we buy bananas to feed ‘our’ elephants along the way.

we rode off toward the big mountain, clutching the tiny seat beneath us. i found myself trembling with apprehension. the elephant’s unpredictable nature was palpable. she was randy. and whipped snot at us often. when we had climbed at least 100 feet on the narrow mountain path, she began to buckle and spit, attempting vehemently to throw us off her back. i feared for my life. her handler ran over from behind. to my horror he began to poke at her with a long metal prod, persuading her into temporary submission. we gasped out loud. we were bizarrely informed to feed her more bananas. to calm her down. and we did … anything to relieve her from her handler’s threat. 

i felt compelled to gently lay hands on her back, thinking i might try to communicate with her telepathically … to let her know … how very sorry i was … how wrong this was … that i should have known. i should have known better. my companions followed suit. not sure if she heard me. was probably the least of her priorities. 

i was shaking when i dismounted her. I looked at her whole self and noticed that she had a twisted foot. it was wounded and badly healing. “when did this happen,” i demanded? “she should not have been taking rides.” i was told she was born that way. then I looked around the site and noticed the chains. these elephants were tethered when they weren’t working. 

the tremendous guilt and shame it stirred up in me was unshakable.

i had blindly contributed to life as commodity. heart as property. my soul wept.

a few days later, i had an interesting visitation in one of my morning meditations. it was the elephant.

yup. 

the elephant spoke to me. she said, 

“alix, there are 3 things here that i ask you to consider: 

“firstly, it happened. it’s done. it can’t be undone. release your attachment to it because it cannot be undone.

“secondly, ok, … if you can’t do that, then be productive about it. talk to others about your experience. educate. let them in on how unethical these practices are. and if they insist that they are merely curious about wildlife and want to have some sort of contact, they can consider heading to a conservation area ... where enslaved animals are gathered for rehabilitation…. where people can actually build relationships with these animals and begin the process of making amends.

“but lastly, and most importantly, don’t be a hypocrite.”

this surprised me.

“you’re making this all about me,” she said, “… how i was abused and tethered and not treated well ... enslaved … your outrage, your shame. but first, ask yourself ... how do you think this came to be?

“ask … how do you abuse and tether yourself, alix? how do you enslave yourself? what are your wounds, your narratives, your fears that keep you tethered and tied? how do you ‘other’ yourself? then these are your habits … cruelty, loathing, disregard. the only reason this happens to me is because you do this to yourself. 

“so, answer this question for yourself first before you make it about me. you’re being a hypocrite. start at home.”

and that kinda blew me away.

generative healing.

the patterns, the wounds that house my reactivity, my perception. if i may add to the elephant’s observation, i am also the result of dominant structures and opinion, patriarchal strongholds, media coercion. my tethers have weaved their way, era upon era, contributing to my familial/social influences, fears, my wounds and imprints, my narratives, the inner braiding of ancestral memory, how i ‘other’ myself. in judgement. in cruel self-talk or behaviour.. and then, in return, how i ‘other’ others. because the unconscious habit of othering runs surreptitiously deep.  

so, a tremendous responsibility, then. to my ‘self’. to humanity. to the survival of our planet. doing the work. healing myself is part of the global work.

committing to love. committing to loving big.

open to the weaving. leaning into our interconnectivity. In essence, healing as a kickass, subversive act.

note: some elephant rescue and rehabilitation sanctuaries in Thailand: https://matadornetwork.com/change/3-reputable-elephant-sanctuaries-in-thailand/

This Blog ...

Grass and Shoes

Grass and Shoes

this blog is a meditation. on transformation. on love. on liberation from systems of thought. on the miracles that re-pattern the mind. 

it’s personal. crazy personal. a vulnerable exposé of a meditation.

i consider this a valentine of sorts. to the whispers of one’s inner landscape. to the zeroing in on the light way down there at the end of that tunnel with piercing determination. to the trippings that have led to epiphany and to the shifts that spawn from dark nights of the soul. also, to the aha moments. the game changer moments. the moments of utter widening, releasing, deep-understanding.

a contemplation. a series of ruminations. on living a heart-centered life. of surviving and emerging from the sometime cruel dealings of fate. of how to engage in the betterment and expansion of humankind as one navigates the minefield of one’s own pain-bodies and history.   

a gathering of wonderments. of turning the gaze inward and feeling into the daily miracles that make up my human experience. also, a turning of the gaze outward and recognizing the responsibility i feel toward the embracing of kindness, care and liberation.

this undertaking, to reveal the underpinnings of my soulful pilgrimage, was inspired by the many friends, healers, light workers, osteopaths, massage therapists and fellow artists who insisted over the years that i write a book about how I approach my life experience. this blog just might serve as a springboard toward such a venture. time and desire will tell.

i don’t claim to speak for anyone but myself in this space. the views in this blog are my own and by no means represent any attempts at giving advise. that would be silly. these blog submissions are simply my musings. investigations. questions. curiosities. and a sharing/bearing of my personal discoveries.

love. hope. freedom.