The Invitation: Poetry Worth Sharing

The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

De Uitnodiging, art by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

***

This incredible poem shared with me by Ashliin Miranda.

My 2 Cents on Dating, Consent and Transparency

‘I don’t know’ means no. ‘Maybe’ means no.

Enthusiastic consent should be all you’re going for.  Nothing Less.

An excuse is a polite rejection. Always take it as such. 

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This goes for sexual encounters, like meeting a drunk chick at a bar.  This goes for casually dating someone, like that guy you have taken on a few dates and you’re wondering if things are going to go further.  If she’s not responding to your texts, your sneaking suspicion is right– she’s probably not really into you, and you should save yourself the time and heartbreak and move on.  If he is too ‘busy’ this weekend, but doesn’t offer up an alternative date and time when he wants to see you, chances are he doesn’t.  I bet you a pumpkin spiced latte that the next time he contacts you, it’s for a booty call at most.

The consent discussion is especially relevant concerning safe and good sex, but it also carries over into healthy relationship building generally.  If someone is really into you, it shouldn’t be difficult to tell.  When you stop making excuses for their lack of interest then you’ll be free to move onto someone who clearly adores you.  This is regardless of gender.

Don’t spend your time with people who don’t respect and ask for your consent.  Don’t have sex with someone who isn’t super-duper excited to have sex with you.

Finally, go adore and be adored!

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Challenging White Privilege 101: Anthony Nocella

Challenging White Privilege 101: Posted on Facebook by Anthony J. Nocella II, re-posted here and edited for clarity. 

“If you don’t like white privilege and you are white you must do something that risks losing your privilege.  Voting for a democrat/liberal/socialist is not going to do that. Neither is going to a rally and taking pictures that you were there. Dating, marrying, adopting, having a relative or friend, or living in communities with People of Color (POC) will not allow you to understand what it means to be a POC in America or in this world. Finally, the best action to take is not for progressive white educators to teach in POC communities or countries, but to teach in white communities and work on our own people and youth so they are anti-racists. The field of urban education has been co-opted by white educators to teach future white educators on “how” to teach students of color, also known as ‘cultural competence’.

No one will ever be competent to teach another culture; it is OK to say a teacher is not; it is OK to say that a teacher has limitations because of their experiences.  Do not try to put the guilt of not being able to attend an event/conference or wear clothing specifically marketed to POC on POC.

White people need to know we are not always wanted, needed, and we do not and will not know what it means to be POC. And if you want to challenge Privilege, conduct actions that will risk losing it, such as doing something that at the end of the day will possibly lose you your job, friends, family, or safety.”

Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D., award-winning author, community organizer, and professor is a Senior Fellow of the Dispute Resolution Institute at the Hamline Law School, Hamline University. He is the Executive Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Co-Director of Save the Kids, and co-founder and Editor of the Peace Studies Journal.
 …
Other resources for understanding White Privilege:
privilege

Home.

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One of the best parts of spontaneous travel is that you stumble into incredible places where you learn things about yourself you never knew, or you forgot. All that wandering means leaving behind the things you’re done with too. Today is my first day waking up in my own bed in months and it feels so good. I’ll never forget where I’ve been, from the ships of Copenhagen to the spice markets of Istanbul, but being surrounded by my books and quilts and paints in my own little corner is just blissful. Thank you Europe, for taking the cold of the longest winter I’ve ever felt and sending me back refreshed, sun-kissed and at peace with the world.
Feeling lots of compassion, thankfulness, forgiveness, and love (for myself as well as others.)

RAVAGE: art and culture in times of conflict

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I spent the afternoon at M (Museum of Leuven) at an exhibit called RAVAGE: art and culture in times of conflict. It was an incredible blend of art and history. Although it featured representations of the city of Leuven itself, ancient Troy, Hiroshima, and Beirut, disparate times and geographies, the exhibit was exceptionally well synchronized.
A key theme of the exhibit as a whole was art created to capture the destruction of cities, both to record and document, and for the sake of art itself.  Paintings of every medium, drawings and sculpture demonstrated a relationship between horror and aesthetic.   The rich diversity of formats was wonderful– maps of reconstruction projects, illuminated medieval manuscripts depicting conquerors slaying entire populations and burning their cities to the ground, ancient reliefs, scribbled notes, video footage and more.
Exceptional care was taken to describe the repeated destructions of Leuven by plague, accidental burning and of course war after war. It was fascinating to see the very squares and markets I had just hours before been strolling through in paintings filled with soldiers and flames. Europe is always interesting that way.
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Daniel van Heil, ‘De brand van Antwerpen met het paard van Troje’, oil on canvas, 1700.
Lamia Joreige‘s feature on Beirut was my favourite. She created an elaborate map of mixed media materials (photos, video, poetry, historical texts) with a system of capital letters for hard dates, lowercase letters for soft data and numbers for her own reflections.
It was raw and informative.
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Also featured was a project where shrouds with the grey-black impressions of forms evoked the people shadows of Hiroshima.  Instead of human forms the shrouds captured fireworks– gunpowder used for entertainment, evoking screams of joy.  Televisions beside the shrouds displayed the process, where artist Cai Guo-Qiang set off 1200 black fireworks in the place where the atom bomb fell August 6, 1945.  This project exactly captured the mess of emotions of horror-aesthetic and fit perfectly with RAVAGE the exhibit as a whole.
Certainly an exhibit well worth visiting, one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Compassion. Thankfulness. Forgiveness.

My mantra for summer 2014 is Compassion. Thankfulness. Forgiveness.

Compassion for others, compassion for myself.  Thankfulness for others, thankfulness for myself.  Forgiveness for others, forgiveness for myself.

Each morning I find a calm space, sit with my eyes closed, and repeat it slowly several times.  Sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud.

Then I do ten push-ups and carry on with my day!

I saw a beautiful ‘gratitude’ tattoo and considered it as a mantra.

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Gratitude tattoo by Love Hawk.

Also Melanie Klein‘s definition of mental health is “the ability to feel gratitude”.  I went with ‘Thankfulness’ because it seems more like the action of being thankful instead of the idea of gratitude.  I like my mantras to have movement.

Okay that’s all! :)

Dangers of art

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My friend Shea posted an article (Comorbid: Finding Stability on Shifting Ground) on Facebook.

“About a year after getting clean, I was sitting in my therapist’s office, and I decided, with her encouragement, to start a website and forge the career I really wanted. I poured myself into it as I’d previously poured myself into my own dissolution. A lot of my weaknesses are also my strengths; that’s how it goes, I think. I liken it to nuclear fission—it can either power cities or destroy them.” -Beth Kirby

Oh how this quote spoke to me.  There are times I feel that being an artist is the greatest gift and others that it’s the greatest curse.   Creativity makes you see the world in strange and unique ways, and this can be either incredibly exciting or incredibly lonely, depending on the people around you.

I am grateful to have the state of mind to build a life around myself.  I have my head in a swirl of colours and sounds, with one foot firmly planted on the ground.  I thank my loving family for that.

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wĭl′fəl: Persists in doing as she pleases, habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition. Headstrong, self-willed- not obeying or complying with commands of those in authority. ˈwāwərd/: Given to perverse deviation from what is desired, expected, or required. Swayed or prompted by caprice; unpredictable.

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