I Don’t Know That America

3:29 am… the clock keeps ticking away
And sleep doesn’t seem to be approaching.
I’ve been itching for weeks,
For my escape from Los Angeles

Dreaming of driving the great highways of this country
Sleeping in my car
Cooking out of a cooler
Roughing it on the road. Continue reading “I Don’t Know That America”

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Chocolate Quakes

Last night a girl friend called to confide
That she’s probably leaving her long-term relationship.

I felt tired as we talked,
But didn’t see the monsters coming down the hall.

I didn’t notice the monsters creeping up from under my bed
Until I saw the empty chocolate wrappers
And realized I’d been scarfing.

Continue reading “Chocolate Quakes”

So it turns out…

Video magic thanks to Symone-Elisa Guerra. Also, inspiration thanks to Symone, and our roommate-Spoken-Word-Youtube-earbuds-Slam-Jam at the Onion Collective, Ubud… I’d been wondering about my place in the world a lot, and writing poetry a lot, and feeling a lot, and she played a piece from Andrea Gibson for me, and this poem just came out.  Continue reading “So it turns out…”

Falling in Love – An Affirmation

Many nights, I have trouble sleeping in Bali.

One night I thought high tourists season came early and all the decent accommodation had been snatched up from under my nose… I’d be left without any place to call home for the next several months.

The night before, I was sure that I’d contracted Japanese encephalitis, or dengue fever, or whatever horrible fatal disease the mosquitoes are carrying this year.

Some nights, my mind spins with excitement about what possibilities may lie ahead in life, working itself into a frenzy as it tries to figure out how to best manage each and every one of them.

Most other nights, I just itch all over, with the worry that little bugs are biting me each moment. (but no, no place I’ve stayed at has bed bugs)

Nights have become challenging for me.

In my struggles with emotional eating and compulsive work, afternoons have generally been my trigger times, but on this journey, I’ve developed a lot of empathy for the midnight snackers and wee hours binge drinkers. The nights can indeed be “dark and full of terrors”.

What are those dark terrors?

For me, they all come back to the same core: The unknown.

It’s so weird. I gave up everything normal in my life, to thrust myself into the unknown. I knew I needed it’s aliveness, its immediacy, its push to grow. I embraced it as a close friend, to take this leap.

But just because I wanted it, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Just because it’s exciting doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.
As my body struggles to maintain immunity and energy with new climate, new food, and now, lack of sleep… the unknown behind it all feels more like an enemy.

I believe my next level of blossoming is available, through becoming comfortable with not knowing.

And so I work.

My potential relies on me falling in love with the unknown.

And love is not always easy.

I work to be with myself through the sleepless nights… through the compulsive search for the next place to call home, through the swatting away of bugs who may or may not exist.

I work to embrace it all.

I work to let go and stop working.

I let go, and sing to let my brain work for me.

About six months ago, I started playing with setting affirmations to song. My coach had encouraged me to work with affirmations, to support me through the beginnings of this major internal and external life shift. I tried, but I just couldn’t get down with spoken affirmations. They always feel corny as hell, and set my inner alarm bells going off. Once I started singing them to myself, though, they really opened up for me. I found that the “catchy” power of music, really helps the affirmation get deeper into my internal “automatic playlist”. I’ve noticed a lot of internal shift since I’ve started singing affirmations.

You know how sometimes you’ll stop being aware of your thoughts for a bit, and then check back in like,
“Oh, hey, mind! What have you been up to?”

During that time, mostly my mind would reply,

Oh, nothing, you know… just worrying about everything that’s about to go horribly wrong and jumping off this anxiety cliff

I knew there was something to this business of singing affirmations, when one day, I checked in –

“Oh, hey, mind! What have you been up to?”

And it replied,

“Just singing this little tune I picked up” – one of my affirmations. My subconscious had been playing it on repeat without my direction. Score. That’s brain re-wiring in action.

I can’t keep all the goodies for myself, so I’ve decided to start sharing them. This recording is about 5 minutes, and if you need some help embracing the unknown, I encourage you to sing along- the point is to get it stuck in your head.

Note: The recording is left imperfect on purpose – to help us all escape the mental traps of perfectionism!

Happy singing and happy living!

.

(Photo credit: Pedro Martin)

A Song for my Mother

I remember, mama
The magic time. The freedom places
The life of love and play
That you made for us.

I never forgot, but this place makes it
The thing that matters again.
You’d love it here.

I remember, mama
Laying on the floor. Closed eyes.
Just seeing where the music takes us.
They do that here.
And make livings from “sound healing”
And I’m learning to do it too
You’d love it here.

I remember, mama
Summers under the tree.
Painting pictures, playing games.
They do that here
Learning to make jewelry or colors or tigers carved from watermelons
Just because they can.
You’d love it here.

I remember, mama
“It’s all part of the adventure”
Your code for life,
Before my perfectionistic conditioning told me
I had to be smart enough to
Control
Every
Outcome

I remember, mama
Before work made you stop hugging
Because it wasn’t professional
Before I learned to pull back too.

I remember, mama
Before layers of fear made life seem so hard
Before the stacking
The stuffing
The training
The judging
The rights and wrongs
And rights and wrongs
And rights and wrongs

You just loved, no matter what
They do that here
I remember you
And you’d love it.

I remember, mama
Laughter so hard you needed your inhaler
And incense and candles and dancing in circles
They do that here,
And long hugs and deep cares and eye contact too
You’d love it here

I remember, mama
The healing with hands, passed down through our family line
The songs and stories
Rewritten
Reclaimed
Remade into the songs of your heart
They do that here,
Gathering in circles
Raising voices into the night
Reminding us we’re better than we think.
I remember you
You’d love it here.
Maybe I’ll get to bring you here someday
So we can remember together
And dance and play and laugh
Exactly as we are
Tasting again that sweetness that can’t hide for long.

Even now, you’re with me, mama.
As we do what we do here, bringing back what got buried.
We peel off the layers
We burn off the fear
We learn again, what you taught:
To trust.

We sing to restore the world of the heart
We dance to rebirth creativity, love, wonder
We gather to reclaim the magic of life

We’ll build you your world again.

I remember.

And you’ll love it here.

Banana Leaf and Ricefields

I crack open one precious mangosteen,
A bite of food to ground me from the night’s ceremonies.
The red skin stains my hand as I attempt to peel myself away from the tribe.

The rain has stopped, my ride home will be quiet.
This part is all downhill – I don’t even need to peddle
As I coast past palm trees and rice paddies,
The sounds of water running off plants
Mix with the frogs and the crickets
And my sighing tires on fresh wet roads.

The sky is empty with the new black moon
The single spot of my headlamp guiding the way ahead.

Mind wanders to the requests just made of me –
Social media posts, youTube videos
Going full power with the spoken words that seem to stir my brothers’ hearts.
But it wasn’t until I offered my iPhone to the Gods
That I was able to
Really
Sink
In.

The gentle pull of the open road reminds me
I don’t have to figure it out now.

As a shot of adrenaline kicks in with the barking of wild dogs
And “please don’t chase me”
Becomes my only thought.

Safe again.

I turn a corner onto the central highway.
And for the first moment in my weeks here,
Its quiet.

I can imagine this place 10 years ago
Before the throngs of tourists
Like me
Drawn to this place to meet themselves,
Tickled by endless entertainments
And attunements
Along the way

I press open the squeaky gate
To the family compound where I live now.
I’ve never seen it closed before,
Must be my latest night out yet.

As I return my bike to my favorite hitching tree
I notice the banana leaf and rice still sitting beside,
Leftover from the morning’s offering

Someone had cared enough
To ask the Gods that I travel safely

Tomorrow, I must share more mangosteens.

(Photo credit: Thomas Hubauer)

The Space Left Open

Forty brothers and sisters gathered around the ceremonial fire, surrounded in flowers, and bubbling with anticipation.  Modern tribes from several continents had joined to share in the sacred cacao spirit here in Ubud, tonight.

Song after song, rich with wild harmonies and free entranced voices.
Prayer after prayer, from hearts pregnant with love.
Spoken word incantations, calling forth the forces of Earth and the elements.
Eventually the dancing, the hugs, the drinking of the blissful chocolate elixir.

As the circle chanted “Shiva Shiva Shiva Shambo“, therein calling forth the positive forces of destruction, I wrapped my arms around my knee, curling into a little ball as the healing tears emerged like they so often do in Bali.

All afternoon, I’d been talking with expats, getting to know more and more of the local town and how others lived here, and somehow an old mental habit decided to make comparisons out of the lives they shared with me – comparisons that resulted in the crippling internal conclusion: “You’re doing it wrong”.

All of it. Continue reading “The Space Left Open”