Dreaming is an option

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A song I’m loving:

West Marin magic, 35mm film

1 — My daughter squeals, “come dance with me, mama! Let’s spin!” We blast Chappell Roan, her current favorite. She holds onto my pinky finger and we spin in circles in the living room until she or I falls over, giggling. “We tumbled!” I forget the rest of the world; I forget this is her whole world, us spinning in the living room.

I oscillate between spinning in the living room and spinning in my mind while glancing at the news, between making Mac n’ Cheese for lunch and witnessing what feels like a collapsing society, between curating a home for fairies in the backyard and wondering what her, our, future is going to look like. I move between utter joy and complete dread so many times daily. I pile her stuffies next to her underneath my comforter to turn it into an Igloo fort. I see a photo of a child’s limbs blown off. I hide kale & carrots & broccoli in turkey meatballs to try to sneak her some vegetables. I hear more blatant racism come out of a presidential candidate’s mouth. There’s another heatwave. There’s her smile, her silly jokes, her tiny scraped knees, evidence of her capacity to play & play & play. The contradictions and both/ands feel impossible to hold, yet we all keep holding them. Tending to the life in front of us while navigating the world we face feels impossible to hold, yet we all keep holding it. There is no conclusion to this; just the observation. We keep holding it. Of course we’re tired.

2 — What kind of world do I want for my child, for all children? What kind of world do I want for elders and animals, for close kin and distant strangers? What kind of world do I want for those different from me and those closest to me? What kind of world do I want for all of us? What can I do to practice that world in the smallness of my life, in the moment-to-moment interactions I have? How can I forgive myself when hurt gets in the way, or when fear gets in the way, or when forgetting gets in the way? How can I forgive others when their hurt or fear or forgetting gets in the way? Who do I want to be in the unfolding chaos, not in a hero way but in a part-of-a-wider-web way? These are questions I am meditating on. Sometimes, the answers are confronting; sometimes, they remind me of what I’m already doing or what I need to do more of; they always point me back toward what matters most to me. My teachers remind me even now, dreaming is an option. Even now, it is possible to imagine better futures.

To the other side, 35mm film

3 — What I’m practicing lately: returning to movement after straying, again and again. Specifically: Range with Kara Duval, 20 minute Youtube dumbbell workouts in my garage, yoga, & walking. Being kind to my body. Titrating the news instead of either over-indulging or ignoring. Re-reading beloved books. Noticing when despair enters my energy and asking what I need to reorient toward presence. Integrating deep healing ceremonies. Letting integration be a lifelong process. Moving away from all or nothing thinking. Learning. Loving people more. Shifting habits that feel stale. Keeping my heart open. Grieving lifetimes of grief. Self-forgiveness. Deep breaths in traffic. Investing in what brings me closer to being who I want to be in the world. Tapping into child energy. Turning to nature. Listening to Soul. Softening. Laughing and letting my humor come forward more. Trusting my instincts. Tip-toeing into full-on book writing. Surrendering to change. Imagining futures. Exploring next steps in my career/path. Seeing from the heart instead of the ego. Wondering where and how to meet new people in my local community. Tending to agitation. Crying. Listening. Noticing my longings and being curious about what they’re asking of me. Letting practice be practice.

Trail light, 35mm film

4 — Something visceral happened in my body recently when I realized much of my lifelong depression hasn’t actually been depression but instead was untouched, unfelt grief. Part of me has always known this, but it has only been through my own sacred medicine work that I’ve been able to truly feel it. Slowly learning to touch and feel what I never knew how to access, all the way back to the womb, has been one of the most tender, heart-wrenching processes I’ve ever moved through. I have been reminded that so much goes back to grief — so much goes back to living in a culture that doesn’t know how to grieve out loud. The grief gets stifled and quieted so regularly that it becomes stagnant in our bones. With no place to go, grief becomes an internalized weight that was never ours to carry alone.

Undoing this stagnancy is teaching me so much, revealing so much. It is allowing a new level of compassion to arise within, both for myself and for the world. It is softening my heart in ways that never felt safe before. Francis Weller, one of my greatest teachers on grief, says “grief and love are sisters, woven together from the beginning.” Grief has been with me since the beginning, but so has love. The more I am able to unleash my grief, the greater through-line I find to my heart, to love, to being with the truest parts of being alive. If I want to love and be loved fully, I know being with grief is part of the path. On a recent episode of Becoming the People with Prentis Hemphill, guest Malkia Devich-Cyril speaks about grief not as an obstacle to healing, but as the healing: grief is the medicine. I have never known this to be as true as I do in this moment. Grief is the medicine. I will be partnering with grief for the rest of my life, tending to it and nurturing it and being a humble steward for it to be felt, witnessed, held, released. Grief is the medicine.

Shadow dance, 35mm film

5 — A prayer for all of us:

May your grief be held with exquisite care.
May the future you dream of become more & more real.
May you find the people who see & trust your heart.
May compassion be ever-widening within & around you.
May laughter fill rooms you thought only heaviness could fill.
May nature mirror your inherent belonging.
May hardened edges find enough safety to soften.
May one breath after the other guide you back to yourself.
May your humanity be known, felt, seen.
May we remember how we’re meant to be with one another.
May violence become a distant memory.
May we lead from our heart in a world desperate for love.
May this moment offer you something nourishing.
May you remember you can always begin again.

Thank you, as always, for being here.

PS. Deep gratitude for all the support and kindness about my book announcement. It has felt so tender sharing it — I’m reminded once again how vulnerable it is to put our hearts out there with no say on how it will be received. Some of us choose to keep doing it again and again, and I’m honestly in awe of the tenacity required to continually share your heart’s offerings in this fragile world; thank you to everyone else trying to do the same in your own ways, whether publicly or privately. It matters and it means something.

On radical imagination and moving towards life

“Where do I decide what is true about someone else before relating to them? What do my certainty and righteousness win me (beyond an illusion of safety or superiority)?”

Woman Behind a Paywall

This episode about adoptees, attachment, & masking was so affirming

To pollinate the world with belonging

Grief is healing in motion

On the creative and spiritual rewards of fertile aloneness

Fugitive Hope

△ Making small offerings of gratitude to the land —

The kind of spiraling I’m after

With care,

Human Stuff from Lisa Olivera is generously kept going by readers. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a subscriber. So glad you’re here.

Human Stuff from Lisa Olivera

21 Jul 2024 at 15:26

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