24 December 2011

winter 2011 - living like the one we've been waiting for...

This last year has been one of constant movement, and I’ve learned to trust and celebrate these changes. From babies to deaths to rebirths, I know more than ever that the circle continues. It’s become even comforting to look back at my own spirals I’ve created, recognize my agency in the matters, and choose, simply choose in the moment to create and not react.
I began the New Year with my good old LA friends on some old high rise building in downtown L.A. We were all dressed up, and it felt so ritzy.

My winter intention welcomed in my shadows (forgiving myself and moving into pain to experience greater joy).  Working towards that end, I was a part of retreats on the Enneagram. I also took classes with incredible scholars in women’s spirituality, among them Sobonfu Some, Lucia Birnbaum, Mara Keller, Luisah Teish, and Afia Walking Tree. These classes – from Poetry Therapy, Rites of Passage, and Dark Madonnas – helped me continue the healing work I began so intensely a few years ago. My moon cycle even came in line with the new moon this year, and additionally, I continued therapy at The Relational Center, a non-profit therapy center in LA.
Indeed, my school work has been thriving as well as challenging, and when I’m up in the Bay area for classes, I love to cook for and share meals with my friends and classmates. I have a goodly community of folk up in SF now.  With them, I’ve been able to bicycle across the Golden Gate, relax at my friend’s in the Berkeley Hills, enjoy the fun bars of the Mission, and adventure to the Muir Woods, Marin Bay, Oakland and Kensington Hills. 
I also presented a paper at the American Academy of Religion conference in Whittier, my hometown. When I’m down here in the LA area, I enjoy working toward some local urban and suburban sustainability, catching depression era drink prices at the Edison or the like, and attending centering prayer at the Center for the Working Poor.  In Long Beach, too, I have my women’s community I meet with regularly. 
In between SF and LA, I have always my dear Abundant Table farm community.  We just celebrated the most wonderful holiday weekend with a tamalada, sing-a-long, and all other sorts of merriment.
In late spring, I participated in what came to be about a two month apprenticeship at Quail Spring, a permaculture farm in the sacred Cuyama Valley. At QS, I developed additional land skills working with animals, vegetables, and fruit trees (like pomegranates!). I walked, camped in my friends’ borrowed trailer, partied in cob homes, took long hikes, played so much music, made trips to the river, meditated in my sit spot, learned how to hula hoop, and worked on the lathe.  My summer intention became falling in love with my able body. 

In the midst of all this Earth-love, my beloved Papa passed, and the process of grieving was intense.  It really changed my life.  Grateful for the close moments we shared together these last few years in southern California and for being able to be with him and sing with him during his last few hours, I still missed holding his hands and feeling his kiss on my cheek. This grieving time makes all summer feel like a blur really.

Still, at the end of the summer and for my birthday, I traveled to Spain and the Mediterranean. I blogged a travel log while visiting ancient sites in Spain as well as Malta, Greece, Italy, and France (cristyroses.blogspot.com).  An epic two-month journey if I do say so myself, I returned with an ability to let go as well as a stronger appreciation for home, family, and chosen family. Coming back, I want to be around those I trust.

In fact, I’d say I’ve loved in a deeper way these Christmas parties and Solstice gatherings with old friends – so intimate and beautiful.  My winter intention this year is to remind my baby girl self that “it is safe to see clearly now,” and my plan for entering the New Year is to witness the gorgeous mountains and deserts of California.  

On the whole, I’m grateful for a good life. My PhD coursework just ended, and I’m moving up to SF to be more focused for my exams. 
I continue to salsa, bachata, hula, and any other kind of dancing, specifically with women.  I miss flying, but I’ve been able to sail a bit. And, hiking along the California coast feels great too.  I rediscovered my love for the guitar, water-coloring vegetables and fruits, and crocheting. And, I still love my photography.
Really thankful that in all these things, I’m around so many creative and inspiring friends (like you)! 
Joy and light this season!!

31 October 2011

Travelogue: Searching for Las Diosas de Espana (y France)

"She'll find you."

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been more purposely exploring the cities and churches and caminos of Western Spain and Eastern France (around the Pyrenees). I’ve been a bit frustrated because what and who I seek has been hidden and/or forgotten, and I’ve had to look hard. I’ve had to learn and still am learning to see more clearly Her signs.

She’s there and everywhere, and as my friend Barbara reminded me, She's looking for me too.

At Lourdes

Lourdes took my breath away. “Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou” said the Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette. Bernadette said she saw a small woman, and when Bernadette asked Her who She was, She said She was the immaculate conception. She is parthenogenisis! Bernadette had 18 visions in total, and at the site of the visions – a Cave in Lourdes, France – healing happens. I came with a strong intention to heal my/our/women’s bodies from the violence we’ve survived. As I walked into the Cathedral to see Bernadette’s relic and then into the Grotto to touch the sacred stones there, I heard “healing generations.” My traveling companion Lisa heard, “replenish the spring of your soul.” We cried and sang and washed ourselves in the miraculous spring water. I sent out all the love and healing to my family and communities, especially the women – my mothers, sisters, and daughters – and to the pain that has been caused by patriarchy, hierarchy, and domination ways of being. I paused to cleanse my body and the scars I carry in my shoulders, womb, vulva...everything.

We stopped for a local beer (canya) in St Jean de la luz (French side of the Basque country), and then headed to San Sebastian. There in the old town, I ventured into the oldest churches, one of them dedicated to the Black Madonna (o Maria Escura) Herself. All around the town too, I saw Her presence with “Mari” written on the walls, and with the Ocean everywhere, I sensed too She was near.
Mari's Island near Bermeo

Driving through Viscaya, we made our way to the mountains near the seas, the places where Mari spent some of Her time. Basque mythology (my friend Liana sent me her paper on this!) says that Mari went to these caves during certain times of the year.  I've seen images of Her red hair and the moon and moonlight weaving together. It seems to me that caves and Mari go together like Persephone and the underworld, like sweatlodges and women, like wombs and birth and rebirth. As I climbed to a little church on an island in Viscaya, I felt the wind and heard the crashing waves and touched the sacred Earth. I felt the fire in me stir up (and I once again wanted to dye my hair flaming red). And, before we drove back to Bilbao, I left a prayer for clear vision, for Mari eyes.
In San Sebastian, Basilica

These places I’ve been traveling and exploring as I search for my Dark Mothers have been overwhelmingly beautiful. Sometimes, I simply feel delightful; other times, I feel the growing pains.

24 October 2011

Travelogue: From BCN to the Pyrenees

I’m sitting on the porch of this farm, listening to Beirut and Sigur Ros. The kitten is here with me, climbing the chairs, a ladder, and my legs every now and then and trying to drink my coffee I made this morning with the Italian cafĂ© maker. I was dancing and stretching a bit earlier in the strong sun, which felt so nice. It’s quite cold now and Autumn is very here. The sheep and chickens and vegetables are growing nearby. And, I can hear the dogs fighting over the Spanish chorizo I snuck them. There’s something about this farm life and community that I just love. However, there’s a responsibility here in taking care of all these things that I find quite heavy. I miss the Abundant Table community and the mothering sensibility I experience with the women there.

We are here in Sils, just a bit south of Girona, on our way to Cadaques and then on the Pyrenees. We had not planned on staying so long, but it’s been a couple days here, and it’s felt good. We’ve rested a lot and feasted a lot. Combined with the music and new friends (from Denmark, HK, Spain, and Berkeley even), the time here has been refreshing for the journey. This trip has been longer than any other I’ve taken, and I’m reminded to pause in between the many adventures. Every new adventure brings with it a new sense of the word “trip.”
Yesterday, we ventured to Figueres to the see the Dali Museum. It was a labyrinthine and surreal place, of course, and I was in awe of this man and his life work. I loved that he’s Spanish, and that I have some cultural, but limited, connection with him. It’s a connection I don’t share as much with Greek or Italian culture, art, etc. While traveling in Greece and Italy, I’m doubtful that I should even be there, like my studies of their culture and whatnot isn’t really for me, like I was taught they were my history, but they really aren’t. However, in Spain, I hear the word “should,” as in I should be here studying and observing this place and these people, because they are my place and people. These are my ancestors, no? Even their jovial and playful and passionate way of being resonates with me.

I’m proud to say that we’ll be driving up to the Basque country afterall. We will go into France a bit to go around the Pyrenees and see Lourdes, and then the plan is to come back to Spain to see San Sebastian and Bilbao.

I’ve been doing some research on the Dark Mother Mari up there, and there’s a cave we will visit. I hope to find more places associated with Her, and I’m sure we will.

17 October 2011

Travelogue: in Spain (again)

Spain: I specifically chose to fly into Barcelona on my way to Malta. I carried the intention to practice my Spanish, visit Montserrat, and simply be around the people with whom I share some cultural heritage. Whether my Filipina Spanish colonized grandmother, Mexican-Spanish grandfather, or Spanish (via New Mexico) grandmother, there’s a lot of that Spanish blood in me. I tend to think of it as my colonizer side, but I also cherish it. It’s my ticket into the European story. And, I like this European story. I’ve studied the West and their cannon for most of my life. Cervantes to Picasso to Dali (all these men!), I am interested in how the Spanish live and interact with each other as well as other countries.

Before I flew to Milan and then Malta, I spent a couple days in Barcelona mostly walking around the Sagrada Familia and hanging out with my fellow hostelers. Late nights in the discotecas, siestas, working through jetlag – it was a whirlwind couple days.

Now, returning to BCN has been a different experience. My traveling companion and I couchsurfed this first week here, and because of this, we’ve experieced a pretty Catalan life with Catalan food, some Catalan and Spanish language, and just overall a homier and local feel. The wine, the beer, the lamb, the cheese with honey and walnuts, the bread and Spanish omelette have been delicious! Our couch surfing friend lives near Gracies Station and a lovely little walk to the BCN beach, which we’ve visited a couple times. Somewhere in Crete, I lost my bathing suit bottoms, but I’ve been wearing some pretty chonies (underwear) and no one seems to care here. Altogether, my traveling friend and I agree that we are beach bums, and I like to think that this trip I’ve been chasing summer.

This week too I ventured out of the city to Montserrat. This beautiful mountain and the monastery and hikes and hermitages all up in it was stunning and perfect. I did a bit of a detox and made some veg soup. I took the time as a whole like a retreat. Wandering the mountain to the Santa Cova where the Black Madonna of Montserrat was hidden and wandering into the Basilica where another Black Madonna is held, I listened to the men’s choir, meditated a bit, and considered how I could along with the many pilgrims I saw there, seek healing from the Dark Mother.

I was asked a few times if I was religious, and my response was, no, probably more heretical. I just like the Dark Mother. Her story in part just really fascinates me. Some say she is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and some others say she is Mary Magdalene, mother of Sarah Tamar. I like thinking she’s both. Like the Virgin of Guadalupe who is also Tonantzin and the Dark Mother of the Americas, Mary of Montserrat is a mezcla and a mestiza like me!!!

A lot of my time this week, I’ve also practiced speaking a lot of Spanish with these couch surfing friends. One met me in Monsterrat and gave me a ride back to Barcelona where we made our way to the Beach again. He only spoke Spanish, and for me, it was particularly challenging. His accent and the speed in which he talked gave me a headache and made me really feel like a beginner. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, I understood more and could speak more freely. A lot of the challenge was for me giving up on this belief that I needed to completely understand. I felt like I was kind of starving or suffocating, but I realized that a better analogy is not feasting or breathing 100% oxygen. It was about letting go of the allusion that anyone and myself speaks the same language at all. I needed to let go of the old way of thinking that language and complete understanding go together.

I will say, that as my brother and mother have their birthday this mid month of October weekend, I’m beginning to desire Autumn and sweaters and warm drinks and pumpkins. I’m not sure how the Spanish do Autumn and Halloween or Dia de los Muertos, but I’m ready to paint my face and have some mulled wine.

12 October 2011

Travelogue: Skotino Cave and Lesvos and Delphi

Our last day in Crete we drove a little east of Heraklion to the Skotino cave. There we found a massive opening in the Earth that goes down four levels. There was also an altar with images of Mary, and so I added Tonantzin (the Virgin of Guadalupe). I had kept an image of her in my journal since the Women’s Spirituality Retreat at CIIS some months back. It felt fitting.

We walked down into the cave and started singing, “Ancient Mother, I hear you calling.” In the darkness, the face of a woman appeared on the formation in the middle of the cave. I imagined people of the past singing and dancing in this cave. It would have been an epic place for it.

Next day found me in Lesvos. On the ferry ride over (12 hours), I met another Thodoros, a computer scientist, and we talked at length about the addiction of virtual reality, facebook, marketing, and cia knowledge. As I slept on the floor of the ferry, my dreams dwelt on the need of privacy as well as living in the present reality all around me. Sunrise that day was on the island of Chios (a stop on the way to Lesvos), and sunset was in Molivos.

Exiting the ferry, I met Matina, a beautiful Greek woman and fellow traveler. She showed me around Mitilini (the port city) and then in Molivos (a less than 2 hour bus ride from Mitilini). We spent time lingering in the sea (Aegean), Turkey right there across the way. She also took me to the hot springs, and I felt my well-traveled body relaxing. Her friend in Molivos owns a beautiful shop in the main market area, selling Indian and natural, colorful clothes and jewelry. The center piece was a gorgeous pregnant figure, and from her window and balcony, we watched the sunset on the water. Breathtaking.

In Molivos, I stayed at the quaint Greek home of Bianca, a German tour guide of sorts living in Molivos since April. She took me to some quaint bars as well! Altogether, she was invaluable, helping me figure out where and how I wanted to go, showing me how to hitchhike (on motos and in cars!), giving me her bed, feeding me Greek breakfasts, and letting me do a tasting of her Ouzo collection.

One of my main purposes in going to Molivos and Lesvos in general was of course, Sappho. I read the fragment of her poem,“Because I prayed the words: I want” throughout my stay. I also traveled to Lesvos to meet up with my professor, Carol Christ. Carol showed me her home in Molivos, her two little dogs, a Taverna in Petra (the neighboring village), a good Aegean sea swim, and a lovely place called Octopus on the water. We spoke about my program at CIIS, the issues at the school, and the joys of our studies and lives.

Delphi: I left Molivos so satisfied, and I arrived the next day in Delphi very ready to ask the Oracle a question. I felt like the whole lot of time in Greece was leading up to Delphi, a little mini pilgrimage. And despite the fact that I prepped nearly 3 weeks for Delphi, I still needed to pause and “go down” into Athena’s temple to clarify my question. Sitting at the foot of the temple, I found myself connecting with Athena’s birth. Her mother is often missing from her story, and instead we read that she came from Zeus’ head. There is more to this story of course, and yet in this oppressive mythology, I relate to Athena. I too feel like my Mother has been missing because patriarchy replaced her with a Father that I must be reborn through. But, now I say, “No. I don’t need a rebirthing through a man or men. The womb of my mother (literal and figurative) is more than good enough. And, so, I asked Athena, “Who is (y)our mother?”

Walking from her temple to the museum (to delay my Oracle visit) to the (finally) Oracle in Apollo’s temple, I formed my question. I approached the Oracle, and asked, “How am I a mother?” The change in words was so simple but so profound for me, and the response I heard was simultaneously “You are”/ “I am.” I am my mother; you are my mother; we are mothers.

09 October 2011

A little travelogue

From Malta to Molivos, September and early October 2011
I’m learning how to really enjoy this “medi” life. Since arriving in Malta’s airport in the city of Valetta, I’ve met a lot of folk, ate a lot of food, and drank a lot of good things.


Malta is hot, and even when it’s windy in mid-September, very humid. I could have worn my bathing suit all day and been pretty happy. But, on the flipside, Malta’s still pretty conservative and Christian. I brought a scarf for all the churches even though I would have liked to been naked.

I went with a pilgrimage of almost 40 women, mostly over 50 years of age, and we stayed in the ritzy part of Malta: St. Julian’s. Being with women my mother’s and grandmother’s age isn’t all that bad. It’s a pretty luxurious journey with healthy food in vast quantities and bus rides as close as we can get to the ancient ruins and a relaxed daily schedule that includes rest time, or naps.

I also had the benefit of feeling very young, pretty, exotic (all the women were far fairer skinned than I), and adventurous. Lucky for me, I have my tanned color from working on the farms and sunning at the beaches of So Cal. My dark color and anglo nose perhaps allow me to so fluidly switch cultures. The Maltese might of thought I was Maltese, the Italians, Italian, and the Greeks, Greek. At the same time, if they don’t realize I am from the U.S., they tend to hold me to the social codes of their country (more conservative ones perhaps) and when I don’t follow them (like wearing sleeveless dresses or dancing in the streets with the older white women of the pilgrimage), I sometimes get harsher looks than if I was white skinned. On the other side, I can often feel accepted as family, just because of my darker complexion. I don’t know why I can write so at length about this subject right now except that I think it is because I am exceptionally dark at this point in my life, and I like it.

And, I think my dark color works in my favor in the end because I want to be family wherever I go, especially outside the U.S. and predominately white culture. On the whole, I feel I’ve spent too much energy hiding my skin color in order to pass for white(r) in the world that privileges whiteness. Sadly, for too long I have also felt that I don’t pass in the family of (mixed) color. But, I am a person of mixed color, and I don’t want to be as much smart and in control of myself (emotions, body)— like I believe I was taught in the white man’s world – as I want to be passionate and embodied (dancing, healing, sensing) – like I believe is valued in the world of “color.” Therefore, like Anzaldua and many other mestizas before me, I stand here with a foot in many worlds because my ancestors come from multiple cultures, and I celebrate my mixedness, my liminality.

So, Malta. We visited “all” the temples devoted to a sacred feminine figure. These temples are the oldest structures of the world, predating Stonehenge, the stones in the Gallapogoes. Do you hear that? The oldest. I had to say it aloud when we were at one of the structures preparing for our ritual. I said to my fellow pilgrim, Grouse, “So we are at one of the oldest structures in the world, and it is in the shape of and dedicated to a Divine Feminine, to a Goddess.” That still blows my mind. From the Hypogeum to Mnjdra, we traversed the Island of Malta and Gozo to pay our respects to these ancient stones, ancestors, and Mother. Along the way, I wrote a song and shared it with everyone, singing:

Ancient Stones, Ancient Stones in the Earth

With Water on Your hips,

Fire on Your lips,

Wind upon Your cliffs,

And Your Spirit I feel on my finger tips

When I touch you.

Ancient Love, Ancient Love that is now

With Your breath upon my face

Your voice fills this place

Your body is the space

And Your arms I feel like a Mother’s embrace

When You hold me.

As I shared before, one of the most breathtaking moments for me was when we were visiting the Sleeping Lady in the Archaeological Museum in Valetta, and I heard one women whisper to another, “She looks like us.” I too felt this when I saw her and more and more when I saw the Black Madonna in Gozo. Yes, the cliffs of Gozo were impressive and swimming in the Mediterranean on the limestone of Malta was enjoyable. And, the Maltese and Gozo honey and wine were delightful. But, if you go to Malta and miss connecting with the Ancient Stones and Goddess there, I frankly think you’ve missed something miraculous.

The Greek Islands:

Flying from Malta to Athens was a bit traumatic. For one, Air Malta has a monopoly on this flight, and not only did we have to pay about 150 euro, we also had to leave the beautiful hotel in Valetta at (freakin like) 3 am in the morning. Ridiculous. And then Athens itself is such a city, and I’m really not into cities these days. We chanced upon a lovely little community of like minded folk with a woman, Maria, as their matriarch. We also did happen to arrive on a day that the new Acropolis Museum was free and then the Acropolis itself happened to be free the next two days (awesome!). However, after a day, we were ready to leave and flee to Crete, the Greek Island of the south.

The two of us landed in Heraklion after taking the overnight ferry. It was a sobering night for sure. With people strewn about everywhere and us in our eye covers and blankets trying to ignore Beverly Hill Billies and then the Greek news, the boat almost spit us out in Crete. After talking with one of the ferry workers, we headed to his friend Konstas, who lent us a car for the week. We were in a bind really. My traveling companion does not drive manual (the only car to rent in Europe it seems) and I had not brought my driver’s license. No problem, said Kostas, and a half hour later, we had our car, which we named Rebirthing Athena. That day we went to visit Knossos Palace and the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion to see the Snake Goddess (among other beauties). We slept at the home of new couchsurfing friends (wait for the very Greek names of): Yannis, Thodoros, and Odysseus.

Next day, we headed down south to Hippie town Matala. It is in this beautiful region’s caves (Neolithic, later used as Roman graves and later) where the likes of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell played music. We went (yes yes yes! Topless!) swimming in the cove and later wandered to a bar called Hakuna Matata for local beer and food. It is there that we met Dimitrius who gave us a stunning room for the night, overlooking all of Matala. I was able to work on all that PhD work I have for this semester, and I really can’t imagine a better writing spot.

Both my traveling companion and I could have stayed a summer in Matala, but the next day we left to see Preveli, where the sea parallels and then meets the river. We left the magic of Preveli for the seaside city of Chania where we met Kalli (no not the Hindu Goddess), the amazing leo of Greece! We shared a delicious Greek meal including Squash Blossoms and Raki before heading out back through the “R town” as we call it to Heraklion. It was a homecoming to our Heraklion men for sure.

Next day, we drove out to the Skotino cave. And that I will have to write about a bit later. Ciao!

On a side note, I’ve met a lot of men, and none of it has been a great experience. Some, good. Some, bad. But none great. In Barcelona I met the Argentinian who demanded that I only dance with him. I later blocked him from my facebook account. In Milan, I met Michelle, who I couchsurfed with. He was not a romantic interest, just a place to stay with a friend, but he told me in the morning that it was hard for him to keep his hands off me. Like I needed to hear that. In Bologna, there was the guy who kept staring at me even though his girlfriend was right there beside him. In Athens, the man that would not stop staring even when we stared him down or the French man who won’t stop calling even though I told him my phone doesn’t work here or the man who took off his shirt at a party. In Crete, the man from Lesvos who kissed way too hard. See, pretty slim pickings.

The best men moments were at Delphi with the cute 70 year old guy and in Milano, when I briefly sat next to a guy who seemed worth pursuing. I’m in contact with both; we’ll see how that goes. Altogether, there’s been two men with the same birthday and a lot of men that I just find ….repulsive. And, then there’s the fact that I’m not even really here looking for men at all. They seem, looking back, like obstacles in my way. Well, Ganesha, obstacle remover, please help me by removing the disgusting men from my path or helping me choose new paths.

26 September 2011

End of September in Crete

So, I recently discovered the amazing world of Couch Surfing. In Malta, one of my fellow pilgrims was Anita, the mother of the CEO and co-founder of couchsurfing.com. When I told Anita I was couchsurfing my way through Europe, Anita told me who her son Dan was, and I was flabbergasted. For me, couchsurfing.com has been a miracle.  It has been a process and celebration of trust. From Barcelona to Milan to Malta to Athens to Crete, I am time and time again reminded that there are good people out there (some of them men!!! :)) .

And, this journey of trust is precisely what I am on while on this Mediterranean adventure. It’s helping me let go of that illusion that I have control of anything but myself and that if I believe the world (including all its people) will take care of me, it will do more than that; it will give me abundance (that is, good company, good times, good love).

This journey is also about visiting precious sites and artifacts of the Sacred Feminine: in Malta, the temples and the Sleeping Lady (to start); in Athens, Athena at the the Acropolis and Delphi; in Crete today, Knossos, the labyrinth, and the Snake Goddess. And, I have done this; I have visited , and I have been in awe.

And, this journey is also about traveling with other womyn. In Malta, one of the most beautiful things I heard was when we are by the little Sleeping Lady in the archaeological museum in Valetta. I caught one womyn whisper to another, “She looks like us.” I cried when I heard this.

17 September 2011

Traveling again around Europe

Mid September finds me in Malta. I’ve actually not had much of a desire to visit Malta in my life, but a chance came up to take a tour here with a past professor and a singer I like, and I couldn’t help myself. And, I’m glad I didn’t. Malta is gorgeous, and I think I could live here. I like this island life so far, and the Maltese are friendly as well as easy going. It is, of course, quite humid, and I miss California’s big ocean waves. However, lounging on the limestone along the Mediterranean Sea is pretty wonderful. This tour too is luxurious. The hotel’s spa and pools and views are just so ritzy.

They feel perhaps ritzier than “normal” because of the last week in which I’ve been sleeping in hostels and on couches and extra mattresses. Of course, the romping around Barcelona and Milano and Italy was completely worth the showerlessness and such. I found some salsa dancing places in Barcelona and Milan, hitched a ride from a new friend on his moto, cooked on a wood stove delicious leek soup with Iris in the Italian countryside, and simply learned how to trust the goodwill of Europeans as well as my intuition.

Overall, it’s been an amazing adventure so far. I continue to be surprised by how inexpensive it is to fly from country to country. I’m also grateful for the synergistic timing of events and meetings. I barely made my train ride from Milan to Bologna. And, I arrived in Malta just in time—I mean minutes—for the first school tour gathering.

I also LOVE that Iris, a friend from Whittier and Whittier Christian no less (!), and I were able to meet up in Bologna. That was truly a miracle. She came from Romania, and I from Milan, and we just walked and ate and cooked and ENJOYED the uniqueness of our lives and the difference between Whittier and Italy.

20 July 2011

Summer update....

Well, in late Spring I started my apprenticeship at Quail Springs Permaculture Oasis in Cuyama (about an hour north of Ojai). I also made the apprenticeship count as an independent study on biogregionalism (living in and loving one place) for my PhD program. I enjoyed the Quail Springs life a lot...milking goats, herding animals, skinning rabbits, taking long hikes to watering sheds and peaks and ridges and creeks and spring sources,,,,and I also liked writing the papers on "dwelling in place." I finished the Spring semester there and earned high marks in all my classes (I had taken a poetry therapy class, drumming for peace and transformation class, black madonnas class, and womanist/feminist world view class). And then a week before I was supposed to go home (back to l.a.) my grandpa (papa) decided to stop dialysis, that is, he chose to let go, and I paused my apprenticeship to be with him in his last few hours. I sang and played a song on the guitar that he used to sing to me as a child, and he sang with me, recognized me, and I got a chance to say that he'd always be with me. It was perhaps the best case scenario of a loved one passing. I had spent so much good time with him the last 4 years or so, and I knew he loved me and that he knew I loved him. I've really felt his fire and yet "take it easy" spirit with me!

The rest of the summer up till now has been a lot of back and forth between family happenings and Quail Springs as well as the Abundant Table Farm in Oxnard with my sisterfriends. Family things can be tense and ever-fluxing (funerals, weddings, time with my mom who just finished her chemotherapy and time with my dad in his favorite pastime--movies, catching my brother when I can, planning new mexico adventures and canceling them, and moving my gram up to the bay area), and I've taken solace on "the land" as they say. In embracing my grieving, I've needed a lot of open space; the cities have been too much for me, and the Earth and trees and plants and mountains and canyons have been so calming.

Altogether, a strange summer of feeling, letting go, and really encountering my brokeness. I have this visual image of myself lying broken on the floor, future dissolving in front of me, a deep sense of missing those who are not physically around me, and yet a feeling that I am empowered and can rise up like a phoenix of sorts, choosing what pieces of on the floor are truly me and which ones I truly want to pick up. I'm wandering and wondering, and I feel this new level of freedom to just go and be and travel with what I can carry on back. I trust my family and close friends will be fine without me (of course, right??), and I also trust that they are with me in my heart as I go just as I am in their hearts. Old dreams of sailing around the world are coming up, and I feel these visions confirmed by old and new friends.

I'm up in the bay area again now, and I feel like I've been called here for an intense initiation as a woman-in touch with her ancestors- healer. Something about this area, the coast, Berkeley, Big Sur, and my school community. I have one more semester of course work, some of which will be up here in sf and some I will take online as I travel in the Mediterranean for September and October. I'm thankful to be back with my bay area allies/community and already feel myself relaxing. Oliver is with me this time, and we are staying with my good friends Jill, Peter, Lily, and Magnolia as I always do. I love staying with them.

20 June 2011


Today was the final day of "official" mourning for Papa.  We buried him at Riverside National Cemetery. Hard to imagine that five weeks back from yesterday, Papa died.  Papa died on a Sunday, and it seems fitting to complete things (of sorts) on a Monday. I felt that after a Friday vigil, Saturday service, Sunday cremation, and Monday burial, that I was now ready to let go, at least, of grief for now.  I am thankful for these past weeks of mourning, and now, I feel like celebrating. 
 At the vigil, I read a poem I wrote for Papa, and at the service I gathered the family together for a family photograph long needed.  Sunday observing the cremation, I also got a chance to say goodbye one last time to his body.  I was so thankful for this special time, and he looked so peaceful.  As we left the funeral home, part of me wondered, "how is this natural?" but my time on the farms reminded me that his body transforming is just a part of the natural way of things. Like the trees and all living things, Papa's body makes way for new life and rebirth.  I'm not saying it doesn't feel strange or sad that his body isn't with me anymore, but I find peace in my relationship with the Earth that allows me to embrace the mystery of it all.
I guess it's similar to how strange and a bit sad it feels that I never got to meet this Papa, when he was so young.  I'm struck again by how it is so strange and sad that we grow up.  It hurts.

Yes, I've been feeling a lot of pain and sleeping a lot.  I read on a friend's facebook wall recently that in falling a part, we can pick up the pieces we want to and leave the rest. This is such a place of power I was reminded from another friend, and I've been wondering, what pieces will I choose?

13 June 2011

In love...

I've been preparing myself for Solstice next week and the full moon Wednesday. Breathing in my shadow self(welcome welcome) and my emotions, breathing out guilt and shame.  Breathing in interdependency, breathing out codependency.  Breathing in in-loveness with my body and the Earth, breathing out the love of just one (person, group, cause).

We held a ceremony at the Abundant Table with the sisterfriends to feast on our insecurities.  We hiked the chumash trail along the pch.  We accepted reality.  We lived in the present moment. We let go of the ideal in our relationships.  We got all messy.  We danced in our vulnerability.  We celebrated our community and allies.  We embraced mystery.  We recognized ourselves as healers.  We played.  We enjoyed one another. 

02 June 2011

I miss you

I'm missing a lot of loved ones these days.
This is only a start: I miss you, Papa.... 

27 May 2011

Ah me, Quail Springs

After Papa passed, I decided it was time to just love myself, and I headed back to the land that nurtured me.  I sat in my dwelling place, I held on to the Earth and friends I had grown to love, I danced, I played music, and I let go.

15 May 2011

Quail Springs: The only constant is change

A week or so since I've written on ye ole blog, and so much has changed.  Life is like that, no?  Slow and steady then suddenly different and perhaps a bit fast and disorderly.  This movement from order to chaos seems so natural and yet so disconcerting sometimes.  Perhaps even like the interchange between grief and praise, death and life?  Here's some snapshots from the week:
my first piece on the lathe: a chalice

the gids visit!

learning how to hula hoop/the keaneys visit!

fotografia at the top of the watershed
It's been a week of good things and yet heart-aching things. Even now, I'm back in L.A. to be with Papa as he goes into hospice.  It was terribly difficult to leave Quail Springs (left my camper behind because I'll be returning soon!).  And, when I arrived today, Papa didn't seem to recognize me at first. I played him some music with our guitar, and then he saw me.  He pointed at me and smiled.  I started singing "Bicycle Built for Two," and he joined in!

06 May 2011

Quail Springs: Adventuring

Such a busy Friday.
This week has just flown by.  Tuesday cooking and Wednesday cleaning and Thursday visioning and Friday tidying.  We've made meals together, played music together, and shared our graditude for each other.  I love this. I love this community.
There's even been a bit of poetry reading (Mary Oliver, may she live forever), star and planet gazing with the new moon, and today I watched one of the youngest members of the community milk goats.
But mostly it's the relationships, and hearty dialogue.  I feel myself transforming.

Preparing the cinco de Mayo feast: Vic, Wyatt, Mae, and Kaiden

Jumping or Flying into the River

Con Senia

We are the music-makers: Senia, Mae, and Vic

My Vedic Chart: Thanks to Oscar

Senia and her bird
Vic and the Rattler

03 May 2011

Quail Springs: Good Conversation(s), Good Things

Making Cob (clay, sand, straw) with friends from Whittier (Iris and Erin!)
So much ...simple joy and delight here on the land these days. Friends visiting, lectures on cross-roads in Portland, conversations while gazing up at the tree branches and leaves, learning new musica, making masala chai tea, checking out Saturn's rings through the telescope, planting a pomegranate tree, and learning the midwifery of death (of a turkey).

Pictures to demonstrate the "so much":

chewing on asparagus

My new hammock by the Dianita (thanks to Mark)

Singing with Julia in the common house

Transformative Water :)

Writing in Dianita

Off-Roading (up the dry creek bed) with Mark and Wyatt

29 April 2011

Quail Springs: Beautiful Happenings

I've been settling in now to the community life. This week has been full of all matters of goodness, and I have plenty-o-fotografias to share.  Last night, we had this lovely celebration of life and music, and I thought of how much I will miss these folks when I leave.

Tuesday, I ventured over to Painted Rock and to see the wildflowers.

A view from the top of painted rock, Maya below

one of the cave paintings
oh gorgeous flowers!

thistles and such
  At the end of day, we all can be quite tired. Wednesday was a busy day. 

Relaxing on the porch with Brenton and Vic
Thursday, visioning day, I hiked along the mountain ridge.

Quail Springs below
Poetry nights, hootenannies, dancing, stretching, walking....I'm thankful for this good life.
Friends are visiting too! More pictures to come....I'm exausted.

24 April 2011

Quail Springs: Diving in

So, tomorrow I'm doing it. I'm going to leave my blackberry turned off! And if that goes well, I'll leave it off till Wednesday!  It's time.  I've been procrastinating, but this weekend I felt encouraged to go for it, to trust that the world won't fall a part, that my family will be fine, that my friends won't be gone, and that I will be ok, enough, more than enough.  No need to know the time. No need to check in just now with my friends who are coming to visit this month. Nope. All will be well and all manner of thing shall be well. Yes!

I think the change (which hasn't happened yet mind you! I will have to turn it off after I use it as an alarm tomorrow morning for milking the goats time!) internally happened when I dove into the Santa Barbara ocean today for an Easter baptism really. Invigorated, I called aloud "rebirth! feminine fire! transformation!"

We had spent the day Saturday in the Santa Barbara hills to hear Jan, our mentor here at QS (http://redsequin.com/) sing at Cold Springs Tavern.  Quite randomly, we ended up dancing salsa (with my old salsa crew!) in Oxnard and then sleeping in a friend's home (right by Henry's beach) in SB.  Then today, Sunday, we enjoyed the sun and water.  I so love having the waves move my body, leaping up, spinning around, and just playing....

So much play!!!!!

So, here's my home in my little nook facing West:

 She's so cozy, warm, and I feel protected and taken care of.  I'm excited to have friends come stay or camp around.