26 June 2013

Sigh...a Challenging Week

This week I feel so swamped and overwhelmed. Perhaps I'm on the cusp of something new? Hopefully.

I'm frustrated, too, with: unreliability when it comes to my computer and internet access. Rich people woes, I know.  But, perhaps, there's also an underlying frustration with something much bigger: wanting all my loved ones closer in proximity and wanting to know where I belong.

Certainly, my dissertation asks me to go into that space of wanting and longing for a home where I fit in, where I am normal, where I am loved for all my diversity and multiplicity.  So, I'm willingly diving into some of the deepest pains of my life.  Luckily, I have therapy, yoga, my daily practices, and, of course, friends in the Bay Area.

I've also had four friends visit from So Cal, which has been satisfying.  Somehow I feel more whole when old friends from around California (CSU Long Beach, Quail Springs Cuyama, the Abundant Table Ventura County, and Whittier) visit me.

Altogether, I think perhaps I just need a bit more space for myself.  That's what we've been talking about in therapy.  Claiming our bodies, our spirits, our "this is mine" in all safety and creativity.

20 June 2013

Setbacks and Little Encouragements

Well, the other day, my laptop keyboard totally quit on me.  At first, I thought maybe it just needed some time or a break, but after a couple days, it still wouldn't work.  Four days later and I have an estimate on the repair.  $338.  Thankfully, it's still insured!! And, it really might be time for a new computer with a larger screen. Maybe? My HP mini has lasted me 3 years now, and it's been good for traveling but perhaps not the best choice for my eyes (which have worsened in the last few years).

In the meantime, I've been having to either come into school to use their computers (which are bigger) or bust out the wireless keyboard I bought (a bit cumbersome but it works).  And, with the obstacles to using my computer, I've had the opportunities to invest in other dissertation bits I've put off:
1. researching/reading (Ecofeminist and anti-ecofeminist too),
2. visual mapping (with my writing group too!), and
3. preparing my graduation announcements (groupon deal! I quoted Maya Angelou!).

Oh and also at my new home, I haven't been able to connect to the wifi -- thus my delay in blogging really ;) -- but I trust that will happen soon.

Speaking of my new home, this morning I had a gorgeous set of flowers delivered to my door!!! I'm so tickled by this wonderful show of affection. My partner, who is in Alaska working, told me yesterday that a surprise was coming, but I still wasn't sure what the surprise might be! 

13 June 2013

Dissertation Writing Partner

Certainly one of the other benefits of the dissertation process is the community of sisters (and brothers) who are also in their PhD process.

Luckily, CIIS, my school, has a June writing group set up that meets weekly.  Another bit of good luck is that I have a few PhD sisters in SF and the East Bay who are in agreement to meet weekly to review our writing and our overall progress.

Finally, I also have a Mestiza sister (also part Pinay!) who is about my same age and has been in my same program about the same amount of time who is this summer working on her dissertation as well.  We met up yesterday, and mostly what we focused on was our hearts.

Both of us have security/survival issues coming up in our lives.  Whether it's money or family or living situation, we were able to share vulnerably about the obstacles and opportunities these daily concerns bring to our writing.

Moreover, we are both employing intuitive/organic inquiry in our dissertation itself, so there's a lot for us to connect on on various levels.  I felt inspired to bring more imagery and embodiment to my dissertation process.  Her main image is a quilt, and mine is the labyrinth.  We embody these symbols and are dissertation can as well.

I'm thinking embodied labyrinth water colors with muscle-like pathways to cosmological main ideas. Today I buy the water-color paper and a new brush. Excited!!!! And, grateful for you, my writing partner.

10 June 2013

A Writing Retreat

Today I am starting up my writing retreat week.

[Oh, and I start my painting classes today!

This weekend has been full of good good things: investing in community, giving energy to being mentored, and feeling connected.

(Time with friends in a communal living "Hen House" and other old friends in the Christian family as well as the new Filipina-indigenous focused family. Time with my body too).]

So, now is the transition moment: the nepantla, the liminal, the space on the cusp of, the wide road of a border.  And, today, I will walk through this transition and be transformed.

On the agenda this week: visual mapping and re-reading for multi and contextual voices as well as organization.

08 June 2013

Dissertation Mentors

One of the best parts of this journey?  My mentors on the dissertation committee.  

I have three, and all three are amazing, wise, and extremely helpful.  I realized a month or so ago just how amazing it is to have these three women mentor me this next year.  What a gift! 

In the past two days, I've met with two of them.  They fed me, listened to me, and shared their feedback and advice.  And, their advice is invaluable to me as it deals with the organization and preparation and space creation for writing such a long essay.   Also, they can address the subtle nuances of speaking to multiculturalism from a relational way of being, something I desire to learn so much.  They encourage me to speak to employ a transparent subjectivity and to continue to recognize my particular heritage and experiences while bringing it all back to that social-political-cultural level of engagement as well.  Oh, and, they introduce me to other wise women. And, last, they recommend texts for me to read that have inspired them.  These meetings are pretty much the best book club and spiritual direction I can imagine. 

07 June 2013

Speaking about my research

I’m used to editing and omitting what I talk about when I talk about my PhD.  Women’s spirituality – exploring women and religion, ecofeminism, and sacred arts/healing – isn’t necessarily what I was raised to value.  Of course, my family is thrilled I’m working on my PhD, education being the passage of ascension, and in many ways, they don’t care what I am studying.  At least, that’s how it seems.

But there’s a new thing that I’m speaking to in my research now: racism.  And, you know, I just don’t know how to edit or omit very well in regards to this topic.   Moreover, with women-centered communities that I have felt free to share with before in regards to my program, mostly women who do not identify as women of color, I now find myself a bit speechless. I am hesitant to tell them that I want to talk about all women’s spirituality of my ancestors, making sure to include the dark and indigenous.  I somehow feel like I am calling them racist.  I feel unsafe, probably on the first level within myself, and then I think I’m all alone in this awkward inability to share. And, I realize, I am, actually, racist.  I carry that in me, and judging myself for that culpability, I can’t help but judge those around me

05 June 2013

And, I'm Back on Dissertation Road

What I failed to write in the last blog or to even take into consideration was that I was going on a little getaway.  Orr Hot Springs, near Ukiah, has been on my list of places to visit for a retreat.  Many friends here in the Bay Area have recommended it to me, and when my partner wanted to go away somewhere for a few days, Orr was perfect.  I forgot that they have no cell or internet reception, but I'm sure glad they don't.  Really, did I expect to keep up with techno/work/school life while out there?

Overall, the last three days have been so restful. We spent the time at Orr lounging from our yurt to the hot springs private baths to the communal baths to the pool to the saunas to the gardens and to the redwoods.  Grateful grateful grateful.  

I did, in fact, do some research reading -- on decolonizing and liberating methodologies -- and still the time away from my computer and phone helped me get some "bigger perspective" on my dissertation and its role in my life.  I want to remember to love my body and spirit through the process. If I am slowly killing myself in the process of writing, what have I accomplished?

Over the time away, I pondered these thoughts (from a healing session with the previously mentioned mentor):

"Words of wisdom will....sound eternal, applicable through many situations, many ages, many times. Words can heal or steal.  Now is the time to contemplate just what the words you hold in your mind are doing for you and to others.  What meaning are you giving your life as you define your experience to yourself?  How are you valuing what you do?  You are not the words themselves."

My partner and I discussed these thoughts, questions, and we pondered the significance of valuing times in our lives only in hindsight.  We talked about how we want to be grateful for our times together here and now and not just tomorrow.  We talked about the revaluing, if necessary, so that we can honor our livelihoods as alternative as they may seem to others.

Well, on to yoga and meditation now.  I've just dropped my partner off at the airport.  We won't see each other for 2 months. Yep, that's another story too.

01 June 2013

Into the Dissertation

Yesterday, I was offered a "medicine bag" from a woman who quickly became a mentor.  Her medicine is social and media networking with a language that is accessible as well as marketable. Inspired by her medicinal work and sacred intention, I've decided to try to blog daily brief thoughts about my dissertation experience. My hope is that this online space will help me translate my academic writing into something more ...exciting? popular? sellable? I guess I already feel like I have a poetic and creative voice that I tend to share on my blog or with friends and I have this academic-y voice reserved for school. The two really have to meet, and my dissertation itself works toward integration too. 

Thus far, I've constructed a proposal that will hopefully be approved in the next two weeks. I've organized the next few months so that I will hopefully finish a draft of my dissertation. June is research and organizing month!

I've been pondering how exactly I would frame my dissertation so that others outside the academy would be interested in reading it.  I've considered something like Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run with the Wolves or Aurora Levins Morales' Remedios and Medicine Stories, but I'm not confident that these works would pass as dissertations.  Leny Strobel's A Book of Her Own: Words and Images to Honor the Babaylan has more critical writing dispersed within it.  I'm imagining, a mixture of these three works with creative "riffs" then quotations then critical analysis chapters then ritual/story telling sections.  

Well, this is a good start, no? On to the day....I'm moving today. Sigh, trying to find a home is another story altogether.