It was an honor to have participated in the 2020 Caribbean Literary Festival and meet so many who share in this narrative, while also discovering the uniqueness of each story. Above is a commemorative magazine of this Festival’s first virtual event—-due to the pandemic. This virtual platform allowed us y to reach more our community in the African diaspora. Click here to read this magazine and find writings by all of us authors participating in the Festival. #califest2020 #CaribbeanStories
As we move through an unexpected experience of the promise of a new year, six months later, the horror is still baffling. I remember how frequently towards the end of 2019 it could be heard that the year 2020 would be an opportunity to let go of toxic political climates and refresh our inner and outer environment...Well, is it too late? Perhaps, the very change we so looked forward to did arrive, just in a necessary chaotic package.
Early this year, frivolous as well as carefully thought out resolutions were blindsided by the impact of a quarantine that instantly changed our priorities worldwide. Every day a new piece of worrisome information triggered our survival brain, that part of us that instinctively leads us to fight, flight or freeze. This manifested in the impulsive panic buying, and ever-changing disinfecting routines that, for many, created more stress than reassurance and tranquility in the knowledge of making safe and healthy choices. Freezing might have been the form of mental, emotional and bodily escape of those who could not relate to the experience of "safer at home" ordinances. I'm referring to countless children and adults who found themselves frighteningly captive in a more intense version of abuse by perpetrators.Yes, trauma, addiction, suicidality...These all increased in this nightmare of a pandemic. Let’s practice compassion with ourselves and others for the wide range of grief experiences. Mourning may happen even in unexpected contexts.
For us clinicians and the wide range of helping professionals, this global crisis has been an extremely challenging process of containing our own pains to be more fully present for the individuals and communities we serve. Although our training equips us to navigate triggers in the presence of clients and patients, this time around has shaken us to the core and called for intensive mutual support. Tragically, for many of us, the pressure to survive and help survive proved to be so heavy that all perspective was lost to the point of fatal self-harm. Others' demise resulted from this deadly virus taking the lives of the very ones they cared for.
Among the dreadful news were also frequent uplifting reports of creativity in community building in lands far and near us. Everything from the "neighborhood DJs" providing music medicine to all from their balconies to hearing about how nature seemed to be regenerating in the absence of humans disrupting its flow, and more good news really offered a lot to reflect on. We had the opportunity to ponder about how to care for each other, ourselves and an earth injured for far too long by our lack of conscious choices. May a greater conscience guide our steps when we rejoin communities on "the other side" of this crisis.
At the same time, some relationships became more life-affirming while others found that the quicksand they avoided by working excessive hours or otherwise coping maladaptively with their conflicts, finally, swallowed them up. This pandemic has truly forced folks to look in the mirror and at each other in ways that kept getting postponed. Here's proof that, if we don't pause deliberately to catch panoramic perspective of things, life will stop us in our tracks at some point. Hopefully, for those who didn't allow themselves a love village before, this inescapable crisis offers the gift of re-connection with self and each other fueled by the healing energy of a loving community.
To discuss the obvious plummeting of the economy and its impact would necessitate endless hours of reflection, especially now that what would have been a return to opening businesses has been disrupted by the rightful outrage caused by more social injustice. The racism suffered, survived and fought against for hundreds of years, once again, brings us to a boiling point, moving our bodies out into the streets to scream in agonizing pain and fury. ENOUGH. There truly are not enough words to fully articulate the layers of pain and the consequences of unattended trauma from one generation to another. Herein may be another part of the necessary chaotic package brought by 2020 for the whole world to unpack and, as my grandmother in her West Indian wisdom would say, "put a stoppage" to this madness! Yes, the oppressor has its own history of inter-generationally transmitted lies and disowned shame to profoundly examine, such that healing can ensue. However, like I tend to say to clients in therapy, are you going to postpone your wellness until someone changes? We must all take responsibility for our healing and support those who are open to listen to others and themselves ever more deeply, with curiosity and commitment to hearing truth. Let us heal.
Global crisis continues to put a magnifying lens on all public health matters that reflect racism. Education about the infinite layers of pain through generations and mental health interventions go hand in hand, and this experience of absorbing history and processing it takes a village. One-on-one and group support can look many ways, and it’s essential to moving through this nightmare of survival into the realm of thriving. Let's be mindful that healing ought not to be attempted in isolation.This global pause has silenced the noise of excess busyness and now allows the body to be heard, as it carries every single narrative of our lives---including ancestral memory. May we all feel supported, while in a compelling position to learn new ways to be with discomfort and deep pain.
So much has happened in six months that feel short and long simultaneously because of all that's happened. What else may we be surprised by in the next half of the year? What can we do in more consciousness of how generations of pain can bring a people to a place of critical mass? There's beauty in chaos, said a wise friend of mine years ago. It takes stepping back to watch it with very open eyes...I believe it every time I see that such profound pain can bring us together in willingness to "face the music", honestly digging into history to mine for our ancestral strengths, compassionately address our own transgressions born from internalizing the oppressors' values, and allow healing to begin for many and continue for those committed to honoring a resilient heritage. May we feel supported in this journey of turning points in world history. Here's to embracing a new time for transformation.
Thankfully, I'm blessed to be married to a wonderfully supportive husband and a loving family, and delicious family of friends. A light in our days has been the birth of our new grandson. Receiving weekly pictures until we can hold him safely past the pandemic gives us hope. Our daughter and her husband have super powers to do this through this storm! This is the sweetness in this journey for us. I'm eternally thankful.
This and more will be reflected in the many community events ahead. I will participate tomorrow in a Caribbean Literary Festival, which will take a look at all topics with mindfulness for the turmoil we're living in right now worldwide. My participation is within a panel named Returning to Native Lands. Visit www.califest.org
Please join me and colleagues on several Zoom conversations about Healing Community starting on Friday, June 12th (Spanish) and June 19th (English). In the meantime, may Spirit keep us all grounded and clear.
Image above: My husband and I contemplating Kara Walker's art installation of slavery history at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles.
“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
Leap because the present moment is precious and the world needs our gifts now
Leap to discover what is on the other side of fear
Leap to know that mighty forces can move us, even if fear intends to paralyze us
Leap to honor the impulse to thrive, which lives in us
Leap encouraged by a deeper awareness about the treacherous road survived and paved by our ancestors
Leap in excitement by recognizing all that we have and allowing gratitude to support us in re-thinking abundance, thereby creating the conditions to reveal and experience more of it
Leap by reconnecting with our childlike wonderment and curiosity moving us to expand our worldview---and self-view
Leap with compassion for what we did not know and appreciation for the gifts of insight
Leap into the well of our collective wisdom to gain momentum in the journey of healing the world
Leap to leave frozen pain behind and be warmed by a sense of aliveness through purpose
Leap to create life-affirming shifts inside and around us
Leap because the present calls for healing generations and moving forward with hope and an ever-growing perspective on what brought us to this moment
Leap because it is always time to love fiercely and upgrade our legacy
Leap propelled by our resilience and travel into the realm of thriving!
Infinite thanks to all who participated in “Reconnecting With Your Spark”...What a powerful experience of reflections, conversations and movement! Kimiko Warner-Turner, Taryn Schubert McPherson and Robyn O’Dell...YOU ROCK! All three of you added richly to our event. Truly, reconnection begins with the body. See you all again in March for a deeper dive into Reconnection. Stay tuned!
Where are we going now? --- 3 minutes read
"If you trying to figure out what to do . . . you got to first figure out how you got in the situation you in..."
Wise words by Fielding from August Wilson's "Jitney"
Well, we're only a few days away from ending this year. As they say, it's amazing how time flies. This is a time that many of us dedicate to reflection about our journey and envision new goals. Perhaps, we find that it's time to fine tune action plans for works in progress. At any rate, this is an opportunity for pausing.
As you glance--not stare--at the last twelve months of your life's path, is there one thing that stands out as a lesson?
It's possible that the year has included a wide range of emotional experiences in this process of learning. For many of us it means the sense of loss when loved and admired ones pass away. It may also be filled with challenges in moving forward purposefully to take our relationships (family and otherwise) and professional lives to the next level of excellence. A couple of fitting questions here can be: What do you hold on tightly to and what do you allow to flow freely? The more we give, without compromising our overall health, the more we receive...
On the other hand, we may be celebrating milestones in our "walk" towards goals. This can include the discovery of new goals. You know how it is...When we throw ourselves into what we love all doors open and we may experience things beyond the imagined! Pleasant surprises are always welcome. For this we benefit from cultivating open-heartedness, which also opens our eyes to see more opportunities to be of service. Might this be one of this year's lessons for you?
May this moment of reflection engage you in recognizing and bestowing value on every step of the way in your efforts to transform your life. The experiences are cumulative, therefore, no part of the journey is more important than the other. Yes, the painful experiences can be perceived as a gift , like the joyful ones, for they provide us with the substance of insight. We can't lose when we open our hearts to insight in all circumstances. So, there may be more than one lesson to add to our wisdom catalog in 2019---or more than one experience with the same lesson trying to get our attention!
Hopefully, given that mistakes must take place along the way, you have allowed compassion to be a centering and energizing force. If you feel that this happens to be an area that needs more attention in order to clear the mind and focus on your mission, so be it. Author Karen Armstrong says, "Compassion is a practically acquired knowledge, like dancing. You must do it and practice diligently day by day." So, get down with the compassion dance! It's not always easily felt, or danced, particularly when old hurts continue to cloud our vision and keep us finding fault out there in the world. What can we do, no matter what others do or have done to us? Here we shift from blame to taking responsibility. In taking responsibility we are better able to see the lessons all around us and invest our energy.
Speaking of finger-pointing, every time we find ourselves judging something or someone it can be helpful to remember that we're all doing the best that we can with what we "know". This idea can invite us to live compassionately, not only towards others, but also ourselves. Now, this is not to unhook anyone from responsibility from their choices. Instead, it's to keep the bigger picture in perspective. We're all candidates to expand our knowledge and deepen our sense of peace. There's always something to learn. May we be reminded that our ignorance and insight are ongoing. Let's cultivate patience with and curiosity about the process of growing---ours and that of others. Life's difficulties call us to learn how to become more compassionate. Admittedly, it's not as simple as it sounds, but it's a challenge that can elevate the quality of our lives.
Another question that might shed light on one lesson this year is focused on what inspires your gratitude. This is the single most important lesson for many: Gratitude.
It's possible that this year you may have experienced certain things in your life, immediate community and in relation to the global community that inspire gratitude for what you have and can share with others. You may be moved to do new things to improve your life and enrich the lives of people in it. What are your new visions or plans?
Maybe you're already harvesting what you planted at the beginning of this year...Perhaps, you're still feeding the seeds (e.g. relationships, work projects) such that they will germinate. In any event, remember that consistency, flexibility, patience, a good sense of humor, and mentors are the "fertilizers" that create the necessary conditions to produce excellence. Keep going!
Life is precious, savor its lessons. Let's compassionately reflect on how we got here to clear the path to where we're going. Onward and upward!
"Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future."
sentro de poco terminamos el 2019. Como dicen, el tiempo vuela. En esta temporada muchos se dedican a reflexionar sobre su jornada y divisar nuevas metas. Puede ser que algunos afinen sus planes para lograr proyectos que ya progresan. Sea como sea, es un buen momento para pausar.
Al observar los 12 meses que acaban de pasar, ¿hay alguna cosa que sobresale de lo que has aprendido?
Es posible que hayas vivido una gama de emociones en el proceso de aprender. Para muchos de nosotros ello significa el haber sufrido el fallecimiento de personas amadas o admiradas. Para otros ha sido el reto de tratar de seguir adelante con aplomo para llevar relaciones (de familia u otras) y carreras al siguiente nivel de excelencia. Un par de preguntas que han de elucidar lo aprendido son:
¿Hay algo a lo que te aferras o permites que fluya libremente? Al dar de nosotros, sin comprometer nuestra salud, recibimos...
Por otro lado, al finalizar el 2019 podemos celebrar logros en nuestra "caminata" hacia las metas deseadas. Incluso celebramos el descubrimiento de nuevas metas...Ya saben cómo es...Cuando nos metemos de lleno en lo que nos apasiona las puertas se abren y experimentamos hasta lo que no imaginábamos. Las sorpresas agradables son bienvenidas...Para que esto suceda necesitamos cultivar una actitud abierta a posibilidades, de manera que nuestros ojos se abran a oportunidades de servir al mundo. Esa puede ser una de las lecciones del 2019.
Que el reflexionar de invite a reconocer y darle valor a cada etapa de tus esfuerzos. Las experiencias se acumulan y ninguna tiene mayor importancia que las otras. ciertamente, las dolorosas---tal como las placenteras--- son regalos cuando nos permitimos percibilas de esa forma. Ambas son la sustancia de la cual emergen revelaciones. No se pierde toda vez que abrimos nuestros corazones a las revelaciones de la vida. Nuestro "libro de lecciones del 2019" se llena mientras reflexionamos...Algunas experiencias se repitieron para que llegaramos a ver y escuchar el mensaje...A veces toma tiempo.
Espero que se dieron permiso de aceptar errores, pues son inevitables e invitan a nuestra habilidad de ser compasivos con nosotros mismos y con otros. Si te parece que es una habilidad que necesita mejorar para poder enfocarse en metas, trata de practicarla. La autora Karen Armstrong dice, "La habilidad de experimentar la compasión es algo que se adquiere practicando, como aprender a bailar. Hay que practicarlo diligentemente a diario." De modo que a practicar se ha dicho...No es tan simple, especialmente cuando los dolores del pasado nos ciegan y estancan en el proceso de culpar al mundo por nuestros sufrimientos. Hay que preguntarse, ¿ Si hago algo distinto a lo anterior o a lo que me han hecho, lograré nuevos resultados? Es el momento de reemplazar la tendencia a culpar con hacernos responsables de la calidad de nuestras vidas.
Otra pregunta que puede ayudarnos a identificar una sola cosa aprendida en el 2019 se enfoca en lo que nos inspira gratitud. Para muchos, ese puede ser el aprendizaje de mayor impacto.
Puede ser que este año hayan sucedido eventos en tu vida, comunidad o en el mundo que te inspiran a sentir gratitud por lo que tienes y lo que puedes compartir. Puede ser que sientas ganas de hacer nuevas cosas con tu vida por tu bien personal y el de las personas en tu entorno ¿Qué nuevas visiones o planes tienes?
Puede ser que ya cosechas lo sembrado al inicio del 2019...O sigues alimentando a las semillas (por ejemplo, relaciones, proyectos) para que germinen. Recuerda que la consistencia, flexibilidad, paciencia, sentido del humor y maestros son los "fertilizantes" que crean las condiciones necesarias para producir excelencia. sigue adelante.
La vida es preciosa...Saborea sus lecciones. Tengamos compasión al reflexionar sobre nuestra jornada hasta el presente para ver con mayor claridad el camino hacia nuevos destinos. ¡Adelante!
"La forma más alta de entendimiento que podemos alcanzar son la risa y la compasión."
November 27, 2019 --- 3 minutes read
So much has happened this year. Every instant filled with possibilities. Right this moment we have another opportunity to be still and sense the vast possibilities. Even the quality of our next breath may be different from the present one. To it we bring history, which we can allow to empower or deplete us. It's all in the way we look back, choose to embody the present and look forward. If we close our eyes in this moment and go into our hearts, what will we see when we re-open our eyes?
As we close our eyes to be fully in the presence of our feelings, a wide range of sensations may emerge. Let them be. Whether they rattle your body and bring forth tears or envelope you in peacefulness, let them be. Allow these to run their course, observe them move you like waves. No matter what they do, let them get your attention.
Know that in each sensation there's a long history of "emotional DNA"...Struggles, triumphs, sorrow, desperation, optimism, determination, courage, confusion, desolation, connection, love, life...All of it behind and informing the present moment. Through reflection on the power of being alive right now, what are you open to create for the advancement of humanity? Open your heart to hear your intuition guide your steps with its infinite wisdom. Be in conference with your intuition, so that insight can become audible. This may sound like a contradiction, yet light and sound come together in our inner worlds.
We're here to make a difference. Therefore, to waste the opportunity would dishonor all the "emotional DNA" that our ancestors transmitted for generations. Let's take this as seriously as all the world affairs "wake up calls" are prompting us to. The quality of now and the future is in our hands and demands that we recognize this responsibility.
Invaluable time and energy would be poorly used by focusing strictly on "problem talk". This is to stare at an issue, rather than catching a panoramic view. Let's brake things down and then bathe in our inherited power to transform what troubles us. Time is of the essence. Open your eyes, take a deep breath and let it empower your words and actions.
Let's be thankful for all that it's taken to be here today. Let's open our eyes to the possibilities in our hands.
27 de noviembre de 2019 ---3 minutos de lectura
Tanto ha sucedido en éste año. Cada instante lleno de posibilidades. Precisamente en éste momento tenemos otra oportunidad de crear serenidad para notar infinitas posibilidades. Hasta la calidad de nuestro respirar puede cambiar de un momento a otro. A éste momento traemos historia, la cual nos puede fortalecer o drenar nuestra energía. Todo depende de cómo escogemos mirar hacia atrás, vivir el presente y encarar el futuro. Si cerramos nuestros ojos ahora y nos adentramos en el corazón, ¿qué veremos al re-abrir los ojos?
Al cerrar los ojos para estar en presencia de nuestras emociones, una gama de sensaciones surgen. Permite que se hagan sentir. Ya sea que te sacudan e inciten llanto o te cubran de gran paz. Permítelas surgir y llenar el momento.
Deja que tomen lugar, obsérvalas ir y venir como olas. No importa que hagan, dales tu atención.
Toma en cuenta que en cada sensación hay una larga historia de "ADN emocional"...Luchas, triunfos, tristeza, desesperación, optimismo, determinación, coraje, confusión, deesolación, conexión, amor, vida...Todo ello esta atrás e informa el presente. Mediante la reflexión sobre el poder de estar vivo(a) hoy, ¿a qué estarias dispuesto(a) a crear para el avance de la humanidad? Haz una conferencia con tu intuición para que puedas escuchar su dirección.
Estamos aqui para hacer una diferencia. Por lo tanto, el perder la oportunidad de hacerlo es deshonrar toda esa historia de "ADN emocional" que nuestros ancestros transmitieron por generaciones. Tomemos esto tan seriamente como nos lo pide el enterarnos de lo que sucede en el mundo entero. Enterarnos de las noticias es un llamado a despertar a nuestras capacidades.
Invaluable tiempo y energía se usaría muy pobremente, si nos enfocamos estrictamente en hablar de problemas. Es así como ignoramos la "vista panorámica" de una situacion. Es más útil examinar dificultades y luego darnos "un baño" en el poder que hemos heredado para transformar lo que nos preocupa. El tiempo es esencial. Abre los ojos, respira profundamente y dale poder a tus palabras y acciones.
Demos gracias por todo lo que ha causado nuestra llegada al presente. Al abrir los ojos, veamos las posibilidades en nuestras manos.
November 17, 2018 --- 3 minutes read
During holidays many people take the opportunity to reflect on a variety of life experiences, their lessons, and lingering feelings. In situations that elicit pain and anger, one can go from reflecting to stewing, which blinds us from our power. Let's keep our eyes on our power.
Countless experiences, traditions, and beliefs precede us and inform who we are, our speech, and perception of ourselves in the world. Ancestral memory includes what's profoundly painful, as well as how it inspired generations to move forward, despite tribulations. Right where we are is all that information.
17 de noviembre de 2018 ---3 minutos de lectura
Durante las fiestas muchas personas toman la oportunidad para reflexionar sobre una variedad de experiencias, sus lecciones y emociones que perduran al pasar del tiempo. En situaciones que provocan dolor y enojo uno puede ir de reflexiones a pensamientos obsesivos, lo cual puede cegarnos al punto de no ver nuestro poder. Debemos mantener nuestros ojos fijos en nuestro poder.
Innumerables experiencias, tradiciones y creencias nos anteceden e informan lo que somos hoy, nuestras palabras y la forma en que nos percibimos en el mundo. Las memorias ancestrales incluyen lo profundamente doloroso y su manera de inspirar a las generaciones anteriores a seguir adelante sin permitirse agobiar por tribulaciones.
October 6, 2018 --- 3 minutes read
As we move from one day to the next, we may be so caught up in routines of thought and action that we may miss some of life's priorities. Are these priorities to be the same for all of us? Perhaps, not. However, it can serve us well to reflect on what decisions honor all areas of our health. What are you consciously making a priority in your life? Might there be things that unconsciously move---or paralyze---your life? What amazing things are possible when we become conscious of our daily decisions!
6 de octubre de 2018 --- 3 minutos de lectura
Al movernos de un día para el otro, podemos estar tan capturados por nuestras rutinas de pensamiento y acción que perdemos de vista algunas prioridades vitales. ¿Acaso éstas prioridades deben ser las mismas para todos? No necesariamente. Sin embargo nos puede servir el reflexionar sobre las decisiones que tomamos diariamente y las formas en que hacen honor a nuestra salud en todos sus niveles. ¿Qué estas conscientemente haciendo una prioridad en tu vida? ¿Habrán cosas que inconscientemente mueven---o paralizan---tu vida? ¡Tremendas cosas son posibles cuando nos volvemos conscientes de nuestras decisiones del diario vivir!