Saturday, April 30, 2011

How To Protect and Preserve Your Sanity

I realize that I need to institute this as a life policy. For when I get into ridiculous arguments on the street with Pro-Lifers, Jehovah's Witness, everyone working for "Free/Save/Exploit The Children", I need to have this present in contract form and ask for them to sign it before I proceed. Smh, it is not our responsibility to educate people, sometimes we just need to remind them to do the work.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Living, Breathing Self-Care

On this past Monday I attended this session organized by CITY Leaders called A History Of Activism: An Intergenerational Dialogue with self-care heavy on my mind. In a room full of activists, young and old and culturally diverse, when I asked the question of what it has looked like or meant to these folks, they began to regale us with war stories of terrifying burnout. Full collapses leading to bouts of depression, pneumonia, deep depression - the spoke of these tales with smiles on their faces, a trait that is so distinctly a part of this work. Finding pleasure in the heart, finding the learning in the hardship, knowing intimately the beauty and the necessity in sometimes giving everything you have, and often even more. Then the conversation took a sterner tone, a more mindful one and I realize in reflection that this was due to the difficulty their bodies remembered in learning these lessons:

I also want to say although I am attributing the quotes to coming out of the mouths of specific people to honour the lived experiences they endured in order to share that wisdom, I also want to say much of what was said and shared was a product of the shared brilliance of the room

1. "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon." "We need to be able to live to fight another day" (Sakura Saunders)
I loved this metaphor, but then I was reminded that it isn't even a marathon. At the end of a marathon, you vomit and fall to your knees. (Dave Meslin) If our goals are to increase the quality of our lives, then this goal must part of the process.

2."When people were asked how they became activists, they said it was because their friend was involved." (Judy Rebick)
We need to count it as activism when we cook each other dinner, watch plays together, cuddle and generally just play with each other. We need to be social beings and love and be loved.

3. "We are not trying to live forever, but we are trying to make ourselves obsolete, reproduce ourselves."
This is something I work hard to live by. Few should not do the work of millions. We actually need to decentralize leadership friends, this means not leaving anyone behind and instead of speaking on behalf of others, we need to bring more to the table - this is not only good for ourselves, but good for the movement.

4. We can't use activism as a way to deal with or to avoid dealing our own personal traumas or guilt. (Adrienne Marie Brown)
Transforming yourself, this can be the deeper work. This is what liberates into the world we want to see.

5. We have to have joy. (Adrienne Marie Brown)
Right, we know this one family. But we need to practice it with authenticity and intentionality. Write down what joy feels like organizationally, and individually, a meal together, a cookie, cheese (I may just be a bit hungry;)

This is a working list, any other ideas?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Beginning, Middle & End

Time is a tricky thing, it is not nearly as fixed or as linear as we might like it to be. With this musing in mind, I realize that this isn't the beginning of a process of healing, because everything that I have done up until this point has been an exercise in trying to make myself well. So maybe this is kind of a middle, a sweet spot I have found myself in thanks to the gentle (and not so gentle) coaxing of many of the beautiful people in my life.

But as my granny would always say, "Some people have to feel to learn, and Kimmy you are one of those people." Never content to learn from observation, I had to touch the sizzling surface of the iron, had to pick up the scorpion by its flicking tail, had to climb defiantly to the top of that volcano - had to do all of these things to sometimes learn the simplest of lessons (which I find are often the most complex). I could only do things when I could make the choice to. I think until you are ready, choices made under pressure won't stick. It's kind of like rubber cement, you gotta let it dry, you apply the wetness and you have to wait for time to pass for it to get sticky - in fact for both sides to be sticky. We all, as a community need to be ready for one person's choice before we can make it stick. All the pushing together in the world won't do a damn thing, cause once you release that pressure, everything falls apart.

But in other ways, this beginning marks a definite end for me. It marks the end of suffering in silence, the end of the illusion of 'fine' because I am sure that these are all tools that are used systematically to break our spirits.

I was watching 'The Lottery Ticket' and they described that prisons in the U.S. look at the literacy rates of Black Boys in grade 5 and from that are able to determine how many prisons spots to make available...
It is so intentional the enslavement of Black, Yellow, Brown and Red people - criminalizing them, placing them in prisons to continue to maintain the illusion of the 'American Dream'. Not for a moment, have our countries stopped existing on the backs of slaves. And I everytime I tell someone I am fine, when I really am not - everytime I internalize shame that isn't my own, every single time I tell myself I need to be better, stronger, faster - (which if we can look at the effect those values have had on our world, we would know immediately that they are all wrong to apply in a vacuum) when instead what I need to be is honest, softer, slower...
I know that we deserve better than all of this.

And so I sit here at the beginning, middle and the end embarking on a short journey to heal, to ask questions, to be patient and forgiving. To love and learn how to be loved. To protect myself, to learn new tools, to change and to grow.

And to everyone all at different places in their journeys, I wish us all the best, the honest and the divine.