Category Archives: Politics

Waking with the Sun

IMG_3213Last night before going to bed I googled to see what time the sun was going to rise. I was contemplating an early morning beach meditation but remembered I had a list of things to do to prep for my cleanse. Of course, the seed for sunrise waking had been planted in my subconscious so something nudged me at 4:54am even though I resisted the tap on my soul’s shoulder.

I fell asleep with the fan pointing directly at me and that usually leads to me rolling over feeling dehydrated at some point during the night. Finding my water bottle meant opening my eyes and stretching my arm to reach for it. Not quite ready to rise, I repositioned myself for more sleep. My mind, however, had already begun etching a poem in the sky.   Two things were clear: 1) my mind wanted to write and 2) my heart wanted to watch the sun come up.

Sleepy, I reminded myself that it’s Sunday and I can nap without guilt. I also remembered that the market opens at 7am so it’s possible to finish all of my errands by 10am. I like the sound of that. Anyway, in the Ayurvedic tradition they say we should wake before the sun rise so we can synchronize with the rhythm of the sun and that it leads to better physical and cognitive function.

As an on again, off again lover of both the late night and the early morning, getting my inner 3 year old to go to bed by 10pm is like trying to get an actual 3 year old to go the heck to sleep. On some days I am so happy and creatively inspired that my energy bubbles like water in a teapot on the verge of boiling. Then there are days where there is so much to do, plan and prep for that stopping the work flow requires a set of rituals. My wake up time always seems to be in flux. Sleeping in is often necessary for me to be able to have a productive day, but today is not one of those days so we shall carry on.

I grabbed my liter bottle from the kitchen, made my cayenne/lemon daily detox drink, lit a white candle, burned one of the good incense sticks and opened both curtains wide. I started writing. It was still dark outside but the sky gradually became lighter and brighter.

The trauma that recent current events have caused is real. Sandra Bland was laid to rest yesterday but she is alive in my heart and mind. Feeling frustrated, hurt and angry about her arrest and death, I caught myself before I slipped into a low-funk. I made an energy shift, which elevated my emotional response. I keep remembering this line from a Lauryn Hill song – I was hopeless now I’m on Hope Road. Embracing my personal power and that of my various communities has been spiritually empowering.

Watching this morning’s sunrise functioned as a prayer. It is a prayer of rebirth. Today is yet another new beginning. There are a number of ways rising early can impact work life and your habits but I’m really focused on the spiritual benefits which include the following:

  • The quiet, noiseless early morning means the mind is free. There is more room for clutter free thought. Our mind can access solutions to problems with greater ease and ponder decisions without distractions.
  • It gives us an opportunity to practice what coach Cheryl Richardson called the art of extreme self care. It can actually be viewed as a gift to self. You can create a ritual whether it’s lighting a candle, aromatherapy and/or making a special tea.
  • Some of our best ideas hit us in that space where we are awake but not fully alert so the creativity can really flow.
  • It increases your peace of mind because you have more mental organization around your priorities, self-care and responsibilities.
  • Meditating before the noise begins while all is still quiet is extremely powerful.

Yes, I know that we have to go to bed earlier if we are going to wake with the sun. Yours truly will have to practice bed time to get to that point, but for now I am giving myself permission to enjoy the early morning and to take in the sunrise every chance a get.

bright sun

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Can Hot Cocoa & Pancakes Help Me Process Amiri Baraka’s Passing

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Immediately after hearing the news of Amiri Baraka’s passing, I made hot chocolate under the guise of sharing it with my mentee who was here working with me.  The kitchen counter was full of vegetables that I pulled out to juice but I  instead chose to make hot chocolate.  As the almond milk warmed and I put the unsweetened cocoa powder into the mugs, I noticed how I was feeling.  I recently met with Dr. Akilah, a naturopath and energy healer out of Atlanta, and ever since I’ve been really present to how I am feeling and how that impacts my behavior and choices. The hot cocoa was a reach for comfort. I have not made hot chocolate in 3 years. I avoid sweet drinks at home opting for either a water mixture, fresh juice or medicinal tea.

Earlier in the day –after the police stopped me a block from home for not having my seatbelt on and gave me a ticket–I ate cassava, callaloo and saltfish–comfort food. I’ve also eaten popcorn—something else I don’t do often but it reminds me of Auntie Jennifer’s house. She absolutely loved eating popcorn.  My mind was uplifted for a while but came right back  to reality. Sigh. I had gotten over the unexpected expense of tickets, I got one yesterday as well, and the needed car inspection, but reading about Amiri Baraka’s death left me shook.  One of my brothers in poetry, Brian Gilmore, who was a huge influence on my development as an artist in my early to mid-twenties, posted that he was going to make cornbread to get his mind off things. Now, I am sitting here wondering what else I can make, but will make my vegetable juice to stay in solidarity with my health plan. I didn’t eat enough callaloo to make the nutrients count.

Then I tried  to sit with google chromebook on Facebook, LIKING each of the status posts about Amiri’s passing.  However, there were too many in my newsfeed and it didn’t feel like I was honoring his life, but passing the time because I did not know what to do with this grief.

Where do we place this grief? Tell me where to put it.  There is no container for it.  The past few months began with a grief moment every other week but since early December the pace has quickened to a weekly grieving schedule. Tuesdays are my studio day, Saturdays I go to hot yoga community class at Sacred Brooklyn, and there has been at least one day that involved grieving for someone lost. I don’t know if loss is the appropriate word to use here.  Perhaps that is the issue, I need to re-language death, identify new ‘descriptives’ since it is becoming so ever-present within my immediate circles.

The issue might be that our entire culture needs not only new words to talk about death, but a new way to look at it and honor it. It is after all, inevitable. I guess that’s not the point of this post though. It’s really just me thinking out loud as I search for a way to process what seems to be frequent death announcements spanning across generations. I’m sure I’ll wake in the morning thinking of gluten-free pancakes and baked sweet potatoes. Cousin Carla says at least you don’t crave Jack Daniels or cigarettes but I would love to be able to move through grief in stillness, without using anything outside of myself to assuage the pain.

Amiri Baraka’s passing reminds me of my mama’s book shelf when I was a little girl, it reminds me of my Auntie Bennye and Uncle Keith’s record collection and Auntie Jennifer’s love of Black poetry. As a girl growing up in a working class town where baseball, church and eating good food were often the only creative activities, I longed for something that spoke to my artistic soul. Music and poetry were my first loves.  Arriving at Howard University’s campus pre-DC gentrification was like a “Toni in Afro-Wonderland” film. Over the years, I not only met the people from those books and albums, but worked with many of them, sat on panels next to them and even got checked by a few.  Tonight before sleeping I will say a prayer for E. Etherlbert Miller, my literary father and poetic mentor to countless others.  Baraka’s passing reminds me of the hours he spent feeding and nurturing my creative hunger and love of poetry.

Well, I guess I will make that vegetable juice.  Everything is already cleaned and prepped. Hoping I can channel this energy into memorizing the words for next week’s performance with pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs at Brooklyn Academy of Music. We will perform with Abiodun of the Last Poets, another one of the greats who has reached elder status. Perhaps that’s part of the exercise–transforming grief into art, making the ugly beautiful, focusing sadness into an experience that will uplift and impact the lives of others? Who knows? If I drank liquor I would pour some out, but I’ll do me and raise my glass of green juice while reciting Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note. Yep, poets do things like that.

Sending love and light to the Baraka family, hugs to my Howard University family and to my poetry family around the world—it’s Nation Time.

Ase.

Saturday Night: How About That Verdict?

Last night while driving home after hanging with the Haitian massive in Queens–well, not really, I met my friend Samantha to check out a band, but 98% of the people there were from Haiti so we were kinda’ hanging with them. Anyway, I was incredibly late because the verdict left me stunned. I sat on the edge of my bed unable to move. The most I could do was post one word comments on Facebook statuses. I wrote things like “wow” and “sigh”. I “liked” the expletives of others and cried at the photos of Trayvon and his parents. I wondered how my sweetheart was feeling. I thought about my nephews, my cousins, my brothers and friends from college. I worried about the well-being of my youngins’ (i.e. male mentees and former students). The phrase “open season” kept coming up and left me filled with anxiety so I rushed to shower and dress.

Somehow, I  was able to escape for a few hours.  The band took almost three hours to start playing but the DJ spinning zouk, as well as a few songs from Trinidad, kept the vibe warm. The band’s producer felt bad about our wait so he sent over a bottle of red wine. As Samantha poured our glasses I realized this was my first “drink” all year.  I wanted another but was driving and afraid of how it might affect my super sensitive self. I get tipsy really quick, but I had just enough to relax. Relaxation was in order. We sat in the VIP section catching up on our personal and professional lives.  Inside the silent moments I found myself wishing I could share this moment, albeit brief, with numerous people in my life. The music, the lights, the wine and the people dancing somehow made things feel ok in the world. That delusional thought was squashed when I saw Bryce, a hip-hop producer with Haitian roots, walking towards us and his first question? *insert drum roll* How about that verdict?

Well, everyone’s talking about how we will remember where we were when the verdict was announced. A friend told me she will never forget holding her breath and staring at her daughter and her God son. Another friend was in a hotel room with her sorority sisters and one of my ‘brothers’ admitted it was the first time he has cried in a very long time. I’m still tearing up. Hoping I will have an answer to Bryce’s question soon, but not rushing. I want to be clear, really clear.