It used to be when I wanted to offer someone support, I had two women in mind. The first woman threw her body over yours to shield you with her own, taking blows and absorbing pain on your behalf. The other woman rolled up her sleeves and planted her palms on the flat of your back to push you uphill wether you liked it or not. I aspired to be those women. Single-minded women. Heavy-handed women. Self-sacrificing women. Women who acted from a place of absolute knowing. I am protecting you or I am pushing you. That is how I supported me too. Protecting myself or pushing myself. Single-minded. Heavy-handed. Self-sacrificing. I didn’t understand how my concept of support was disempowering and damaging. Especially to my own sweet self. I was too in love with my own brute strength and force of will. I was too scared of uncertainty to allow myself anything other than an unwavering ability to act.

healing-a-broken-heart-vicki-rossAs a parent, not only is that not an effective way of transferring life skills for success to my kids, it’s fucking exhausting. It’s also a little soul bruising for them. And my desire to keep my sons’ beautiful hearts as intact and vibrant as possible won out over the fear and led me to learn new ways of parenting.

As a community member, it was downright dysfunctional. There’s no growing together. There’s no taking turns. There’s no room to learn from mistakes. As a lover and friendship partner, it was just not cool. Where is the choice? Where is the recognition of unique skill sets different than my own? Where is the display of belief in a loved ones ability to choose their own adventure? So I tried new ways of being supportive. New ways to show I’ve got your back, but they were shaky attempts. I wasn’t quite sure of what I was doing. I didn’t know if I was being as helpful as I could be. Maybe I should go back to pushing and protecting. This whole being gentle thing is so mysterious to me.

As much as I love being right, there’s something so satisfying about being wrong about what support looks like.

I’m now 6 weeks out from an intense surgery. The months that led up to the procedure were pain filled and emotionally draining. https://healingartchakraenergy.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/chakra-angel/Sometimes I didn’t recognize myself, I was so far from the woman I thought I had forged myself into being. I was not in control of what was happening inside of me. I could not reach into myself and fix the problem. I also had this sinking fear that if I was not the heavy-handed, single-minded woman I have relied on in my past, I would fail to heal and my children would suffer greatly. Yup, all of that was there and no, none of it happened.

Instead, the kids and I were supported so deftly, so deeply, by so many loving, sweet, strong, kind people. People who never disempowered me as they held me close. Support that looked like a steady hand to hold and be guided by. Support that was many arms in a squooshy soft embrace. Support that came with check ins and me being asked “is this ok?” sincerely. There was no heavy-handedness on the scene.

d90c34dbc23d0ebbc307842727314135I am beyond grateful, I’m transformed. This level of love and support is healing me on so many levels. My body is no longer in pain. I’m in the process of regaining my stamina while remembering to be gentle with my body. I’m also healing the broken heart that comes from never having experienced what empowering support actually feels like. The world is a lot less scary when you know people are capable of effectively caring for you. And now I have so many more examples of what it means to help than I could have imagined! A whole new menagerie of helpers now live inside me.

And I want to keep being helpful in this way to others too. To empower and support. To create the sustainable container for growth. No selves need to be sacrificed in order for care to emerge.

One of the people who cared for me so completely during this whole experience, who went with me to Dr’s appointments and held me while I cried after them, who came with me to surgery and stayed as close to my side as he could throughout my hospital stay, who brought me home and made sure I slept was Makana.11703288_917106778373565_8634713703738432597_o

And he’s got a funding campaign going right now. All of this helping and supporting and healing that he offers he does without asking for much in return. If you’d like to support a man who supports others so sweetly, check out his funding campaign here.







Support Sandwich


There’s a name for the current generation of people who are both raising children and caring for their ill parents, something tacky, like ‘The Sandwich Generation.’ You can look it up. The sandwich phenomena came about from people waiting to have children later in life combined with older people staying older for longer: a 45 year old mother of teenagers who is also the primary caretaker of her 75 year old mother with dementia. At least, those are the stories I found when I went searching for support online last year after my mother had her stroke. I don’t really fit into the sandwich generation’s parameters. I’m too young, my mom’s too young and never really completely independent of me. We are not of the middle class variety. The stories didn’t stick, as difficult as it is to be the center of that scale, teens and seniors both needing a lot of attention. I didn’t see my story in the groups being formed.

How… how am I going to do this? Am I going to do this? Of course I am.

This being taking care of my mother on a whole new level. I’ve always taken care of her to certain degree due to her mental health issues. My entire adult life she has either lived in my home with me, or has been just down the street. She’s been in group homes and treatment facilities. But the place she wants to be the most is on my couch planted safely in front of my TV. It’s always been a hard boundary to keep. Harder still to keep after her big stroke and then a series of smaller ones where I began helping with her daily needs. But she liked having her own place too. It was a compromise.

And then, my mother had a heart attack over the Christmas holiday. She is recovering slowly at her sister’s now and will be there for the next few months. She won’t be able to come back to her apartment in Oakland. And, well, shit, I guess I can’t do this. And that is not an easy thing for me to say. I can’t is not a phrase I’m comfortable with. I’m ok with I won’t, or I don’t, because there is choice present. But can’t? I hate can’t. Can’t means even if I wanted to, I’m not able.

And right now, I’m not able. I’m having surgery soon to remove an ever growing and ever more painful grapefruit-sized fibroid from the wall of my uterus. It’s been two months of near constant agony. Recovery from surgery will take another month or so. I physically can’t do everything that I want to do. I am able to be a full time parent to my kiddos. I am able to love the work that I do. I am able to be careful with myself as I face this health challenge. I am not able to keep my mother healthy and alive.

I made this agreement with myself when I was 10 years old that I would always take care of my mother. This is just who I was going to be. I was never going to abandon my mother the way she had been abandoned. They way we had been abandoned. And that 10 year old girl inside of me is kicking and screaming and crying at not keeping that promise. But I know that 10 year old girl needs to be kicking and screaming and crying for a whole other set of reasons. She doesn’t know that I’ll still be caring for my mother, loving my mother in ways that won’t break me. My 10 year old self doesn’t believe I have a breaking point.

I took care of my family from such a young age because I didn’t see anybody else doing it. And that is fucked up. It’s not easy now as an adult to look at how that belief has shaped my life. How it’s kept me from maturing in certain ways. When you’re in charge at too early of an age, shit gets weird. Gratefully because of all the community love I’m experiencing now, the vulnerability I’m leaning into, the connections who absolutely 100% can take care of me in their own unique ways, shit is getting less weird. It’s hard, yes. But not as weird.

I am able to do what I can because of the trust I have in the people that surround me. Not a child’s trust of blind need and constant demand. I’ve finally learned the adult version of trust. A trust that comes with compassion and understanding.

So fuck a sandwich generation. I’m feeling snug in the center of a support sandwich. I’m shoulder to shoulder with family and friends who want me to rest when I need it. Want me to fall apart as necessary. Who don’t need me to be stronger or smarter or more held together than I can be. I’m learning that’s ok too.

This isn’t how I planned to begin 2016. I had a whole other blog post to share about upcoming workshops and counseling opportunities. You’ll have to stay tuned for that in the Spring. For the rest of the winter, I’ll be resting and recovering.


It started with socks; On self care and adulting.


Last year, around this time, I wrote in a blog post, “It’s no big deal, I just have to go away and dream me all up again.” Dreaming didn’t look like what I thought it would. First my mother had a stroke, and that was terrifying. Then, I didn’t get the position with an organization that I had my heart set on. That was painful. Next, I was laid off from the organization that I was working for. That was depressing. That covers September through December 2014. Then my romantic life went to shit, ah January. That’s around the time this photo was taken:

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January 2015

When I look at this photo I see myself suffering from anxiety and neglect. This is the face of a woman putting her own precious self last on her own list of priorities.  Too much uncertainty. Too much struggle. Too much “just keep a roof over the kids’ heads and you’re ok” thinking. When life was hard, I was the last person I wanted to take care of. What I secretly wanted was for someone to come take care of me the way I took care of everyone else. And I say secret because never in a million years would I admit this to myself, or to anyone else. It was a shameful thing for a grown ass woman to want. And I did accept that I alone was responsible for getting my needs met, I just made sure I had as few needs as possible and I didn’t put much effort into meeting them. I was practicing self abandonment. I was doing to myself what my parents had done to me; something I would never do to anyone that I loved.

During this whole year I was in Interchange and getting a ton of weekly, sometimes daily, counseling. I was getting reparented by a dozen or so people regularly. My best friend and I were doing the training together and he took on a reparenting role in my life too. It wasn’t the healthiest thing for either of us, but it had a huge impact. He bought me socks for Christmas, because I didn’t own any. Ever. I made sure my kids had drawers full of socks, all different kinds, I just never thought to buy myself any. He made me eat warm, sweet gooey oatmeal when I was sad and didn’t want to eat anything.

This new me I was dreaming up could do that. Could accept the care being offered. Could say, I’m tired and scared and I need a cuddle and that’s ok. There’s this funny line my friends say when someone is flubbing up a moment, “Do you need an adult?” It’s ironic since we’re all super capable competent adults, and yet in certain moments we all suck at adulting. What struck me though, was how much I really did need an adult because I wasn’t being the adult my own self needed me to be.

Part of getting in touch with all the unmet needs I’ve carried with me from childhood was welcoming in the sad, unloved needy parts of me. After months of counseling support, the fears of being pathetic or unlovable that I had been suppressing burst through the stage door of my super ego and claimed the spotlight. My strategy of loving other people well as a way to prove I was worthy of love had to go. I needed to show up for my neglected self in a whole new way. So there I was, knowing I needed to do a thing, but not knowing how to do it.


October 2015

And then something magic happened. In May, I went on a retreat. Me! I don’t do these things. For one, it’s been impossible to take time away from the kids, and two… I just don’t retreat. Ever. It was an offer to get away from it all for 10 days and do a whole body chemical detox all made possible by friends who loved me. I said yes because this was the thing! This was a way for me to prove to myself that I mattered to me. I stopped eating sugar and drinking caffeine, it’s been 6 months and I feel amazing. 5 months ago I started moving my body more, I hated it at first. The sadness of not taking care of myself for so long overwhelmed me. But the joy I’ve found in movement is astounding to me. Every day that I prioritize my health is a day I know I am loving me. The loving connections I’ve made throughout the past year have made all of this self love possible for me. From a pair of socks to a whole new way of eating, I’m adulting!

Each moment of change this year led to another step of even greater change for me. Like dominoes. And it has been so uncomfortable at times, so much stored up pain that needed to be metabolized. There have been moments of shattering, where all my unconscious desires to be cared for rushed to the surface and it felt like I was drowning in grief. Moments of confusion and anger and bitterness and envy.  Impatience with my own process. Regret for not having done this for myself sooner. Embarrassment at how delusional I was. It’s all in there. And right next to it is acceptance, and kindness and understanding, and a gradually developing maturity. I’m so grateful to have an entire community supporting me in this process.

I did dream up a whole new me. I have a whole new profession, a whole new relationship to myself, a whole new vision of what’s possible for my family. And…now since I’m learning to care for myself, I’m all glowy!

Being seen and being accepted

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Interchange is almost over. I was nervous going in to weekend 8, I was cautiously optimistic too. I wrote about my hopes and goals prior to the weekend here. I shared my thoughts and feelings going in, it feels right sharing them again after the weekend too.

On Saturday morning, when we were all first gathered together, Steve asked people to raise their hands to show what levels of work we’ve done on identities and oppression. He started with who was completely new to looking at oppression and privilege and then proceeded all the way up to who has done a lot of work, who might even be called an expert in this field. I raised my hand for that one. There were very few of us with our hands raised. Fighting oppression and remedying social stigma is what I do professionally. I’m an anti-racist researcher and intersectionally aware sexual health educator. From racial justice to media justice to reproductive justice, I’m all in, all the time. So if I’m a pro at this, why was I so anxious about a spending a weekend with a bunch of people I’ve grown to love and trust talking about stuff I’m really good at talking about?

Honestly, it’s the well-meaning white people thing. And then the well-meaning straight people thing, plus a dose of the well-meaning upper middle class thing. I’m a queer, mixed-race, woman who is a single parent and was raised in poverty. That’s a lot of marginalized identities wrapped into one package. I’m also privileged in that I can be perceived as both heterosexual and white, my children are white, I have a graduate degree, I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m able-bodied. So I’ve got a lot going for me. I experience interlocking oppressions while experiencing interlocking privileges.

I was really, really afraid that even in this loving, super supportive space, I wouldn’t be seen as the complex person I am. In my life, I have learned that in order to be seen as valuable I must only identify with my most privileged self. I’ve had to collapse into as close to a one-dimensional being as possible to be seen. That’s my fear in large groups. But as we went through the morning’s activities where each person practiced unapologetically claiming our multiple identities it hit me. I felt a shared fear ripple through, the fear of being undervalued once we’re identified as “different.” That’s what living in a hierarchical society has done to us. As I listened to each member of my home group describe both the visible and invisible labels our society slaps onto human beings, my fear of not being seen and supported for being the complex person I am transformed into a curiosity of “How can I make sure I’m seen and supported in my totality?” That may mean I have to specifically request to be seen in my whole human complexity. That may mean I walk away from an interaction if it isn’t serving me and that may mean seeking out an ally when I need to. Me having that transformational thought was a direct result of the prior 7 months of work I’ve been doing in Interchange.

I realized that showing up in this mixed space as my full self with all my interlocking identities claimed and trusting that care and support would actually be available to me was how I was going to overcome oppression. I carried that question with me for the rest of the weekend. Each new activity and each new exercise, I looked for evidence of how I was being seen and supported. I have 30 years of experience in not being fully supported, I know what that looks like and how to deal with it. I’ve accepted being heart broken about it. What I don’t have enough of? Examples of being seen and accepted. And I’m done being heart broken.

Sunday afternoon I had this deeply healing experience when we split up into specific support groups. I was able to get the support I’ve always wanted around being raised in a family with domestic violence. I could have been a group that was focused on any of the marginalized identities that I claim, but what I really wanted was to be seen and supported as someone who had violence in their childhood and has done the work to not have domestic violence in their adulthood. I wanted to be seen and supported as that person by people who experience being that person too. And I was. I learned that though each person in my group had a different version of domestic violence, we shared similar outcomes. Hyper-vigiliance. Fiercely independent. Fear of abusing our own children. Fear of intimate partners turning violent no matter how long we’ve been with them. I sat in the center of a small group and we saw ourselves in each other and we loved and loved and loved each other. 

I connected deeply over the weekend with people who both share and do not share my specific stigmatized identities. I spoke truths I’ve never spoken before. I identified the blocks that keep me apart when what I so achingly want is to belong. In the weeks that have followed weekend 8, I’ve brought the question, “How am I being seen and supported in my totality?” into my counseling sessions. And then within those sessions, a new question came, “How do I make sure I am seeing others in their totality too?” This is a radically new approach to interacting for me. 

If you’re interested in Interchange, I highly recommend it. And I’d love to see more of my community doing this work too. I’m happy to answer any questions and share more of my experience. You can check out the Interchange website too.


A Request from the Sweetest Man I’ve Ever Known (Guest Post)

Img_00059Dear Men,

Please be sweet to the boys in your life. You do not need to toughen them up, there are enough TV shows, movies, video games and other men who buy into hyper-masculine patriarchy to teach them that sort of thing.

I implore you to teach the young boys in your life to learn their emotional landscape. Teach them to cry while holding their heads high. Teach them that it is not a crime to desire affection from others. Show them that it is not weakness to empathize and be graceful with their power. Men, I’m asking you to show more of yourselves than was shown to you.

I know it is hard to give gentle sympathy for the little bruises, both physical and emotional that the boys suffer, but we deserved that then and they deserve it now. We are human, they are human, and we can show them how to become men who do not hold in the pain that erupts into violence, bitterness, and isolation.

I ask you to honor the boy you once were by being gentle and emotionally encouraging to the male children in your life.

Thank you,
Makana M. Grant

The Gift of Speaking Clearly

There is power in speaking directly. Learning how to utilize a declarative tone of voice has helped me navigate tricky situations throughout my life. I am grateful that I have the ability to say exactly what is on my mind and convey my thoughts clearly. I feel like teaching our children to communicate clearly and effectively is super important. For my sons, I worked really hard to teach them emotional literacy. “Tell me how you are feeling” I repeated over and over and over. I asked them this question without an expectation that them telling me how they were feeling should make them stop feeling. I just wanted them to be able to name the feeling they were having while they were experiencing it. Often they were feeling more than one thing at a time and I would help them list those feelings out.

“I’m feeling angry!” 


“I’m feeling sad!”


“I’m feeling tired”


“I’m feeling stompy!” (Stompy was a feeling I named when the boys were little, sometimes we just needed to stomp it out, you know? And in my house, stompy and hungry were often paired together.)

It’s hard to teach kids things we ourselves were not taught, but it’s worth the struggle. Sometimes it’s the shape of the void that is the teacher. As a young parent I was feeling around the edges of my own incompleteness so that I could offer more to my sons. Emotional literacy felt pretty big.

Deep breath, yes, that’s a heavy admission to make publicly. Inhale, exhale.

So… yes with the direct language! Yes with speaking of our own experiences with authority! Yes to declarative statements!  Yes to eye 39201_10100104800720323_1109204_ncontact and squared shoulders and equally enthusiastic no’s and yes’s! And I hope we all have the patience to deal with toddlers and teenagers who test their abilities on the people closest to them. It was hard at 3 and 4 to listen to my kids tell me exactly why they hated wearing coats in the middle of January and it’s not really any easier hearing them say similar things ten years later. Seriously. Jackets. It’s winter, why are we even having this debate? Sigh.

It’s an interesting thing to see my kids use my tone of voice and my declarative way of speaking. It’s even funnier when they try to use it on me. I tell them I’m immune to that particular super power since it originated from me. Something I’m really glad I took the time to instill in them is that we can’t tell other people how they are feeling. We can only speak to our own emotions and then ask someone else how they are feeling too. I didn’t want the boys to be know it alls. That slippery slope was always a ride ready to be taken. Balance, right? We can speak with authority about ourselves and our experience; we have to ask other people about theirs. 

Right now in this moment I’m learning a little more about being attuned to my loved ones without having this fear of overstepping. There is a nuanced clarity involved. I am going to name what I’m seeing. I’m seeing this feeling in you, is that right? It’s a new kind of balancing. I feel good about learning how to give this kind of attention because I have a solid foundation of not assuming I know how people are feeling. It feels like a new gift to give. A way of paying attention that is intimate and special but also requires skill and vulnerability. 

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to teach this to my sons too. And it’s also entirely possible that they already know it and I’m just catching up to them. They’re smart like that.



Owning the Awkward

If I had a dollar for every time my kids said, “Mom, that’s so awkward!” I could fund universal childcare for us all. Since they’re teenagers now, I can look back over the years and see how awkward has evolved. Cuz while the exclamation is the same… what provokes it has changed.

Me dating is no longer awkward (it totally once was) but me talking to them about them dating? SO much awkward. And yet, we have a template. Tackling the awkward head on is what our relationship is built on. At each stage, of both their development and my own, there is “teh awkward” that we have to face, discuss, own and in some ways obliterate.

I want to stress that one families’ awkward can be another families’ easy and yet another families’ straight up traumatic. The matrix of our history and current situation create the framework that our awkward defines itself within. What’s easy for you to talk about off the cuff with your kids may be something that I would need to do with the help of a coach to discuss. It’s all relative.

Having on open and ongoing age-appropriate conversation about sexuality with your kids is crucial to their wellbeing and safety. One way they know it’s an important aspect of their lives is that we are willing to face down the awkward. My strategy has always been to own the awkward. Call it out, claim it. And then do the damn thing anyway. Sometimes I’m the only one with the bubbly gut over a situation. Other times, I’m totally non-plussed by a subject while their ears are turning red. Either way, I have to say, “This awkward and this is how we’re gonna get through it.”

In my house, we’ve been talking a lot about gender and the cost of not conforming to the binary. And I’m grateful that, for my teens, it’s not an awkward topic. They can see that it’s fucking tragic that kids get kicked out of their homes for being trans, or get beaten and abused, or commit suicide. We’re talking about how to be supportive to any of their friends who come out as trans or who don’t identify with the gender binary. What’s awkward for me is that I have to be honest with them and say, “Yep parents are abusive to their own kids because of gender.” That shit sucks. Informing your children about the cruelty other children experience is fucking awkward. And necessary. And tragic. And scary.

Being real with your kids about child abuse kinda makes talking about periods and how babies are made no big deal, right? Easy peasy. Talking with your kids about sexual assault? AWKWARD. But if you’re going to teach them about consent (…and you’re going to teach them about consent, right?) you have to include that part of it.

What I really want to impart upon you, fellow Awkwardian, is that talking to your kids about their 4691_791953586513_1247099_45324321_5253646_nsexual health, or gender, or consent or pornography is going to be awkward and you get to do it anyway. As parents we are constantly modeling behaviors; how we handle awkward topics and conversations is most likely how they will handle awkward topics and conversations. And we’re also who they compare other people’s reaction to awkward situations to. Consider yourself the Royal Ambassador to Awkwardlandia.






Love in the time of Ferguson

My father doesn’t understand why I’m committed to racial justice. It’s always been bewildering to him, maybe cute or exciting on the good days, self-indulgent and misguided on the bad ones. I remember being 14 years old and arguing with him about the impact of race and socioeconomic status on high school graduation rates in my heavily segregated school district. We were sitting in his car after having gone out to dinner on a school night. I hadn’t seen him in months and when he just randomly stopped by to take me out I hopped in his truck determined to show off my intellect. My desire to be stronger and smarter than my father started early. He’s also a fairly emotional guy. He feels what he feels when he feels it, masculinity be damned. He’s 6’4 and built like an Oak tree. He’ll cry if he wants to. You’d think that’d be an awesome thing for a daughter to witness; her father being emotionally available. Maybe. What it was in my teen years was another way to compete with him. I’ll be stronger, smarter and… less emotive. Hah! So there. I win. 


Turns out I’m just as big of a mush ball as he is. If not more so. Us Oak trees, the roots of our hearts run deep and we weep the big leaves. 

Thanksgiving this year was rough. My dad has been ensnared by the toxicity of mainstream media. The lazy, easy to digest, pseudo-reporting of CNN and Headline News convinced him he knew what the Hell he was talking about when he chose to bring up the nation wide protests to police killing Black people in the streets. He really thought he had some wisdom to bestow. Common sense racism I call it. It’s just common sense to believe that Mike Brown did something to deserve being shot. My dad listed off all the things that the news told him justified the execution. I debunked them one by one. I do this for a living; critique media and deconstruct narratives from a racial justice lens. So at this point in the after dinner conversation I’m still winning the “I’m smarter than you” game. But then he said something that made me angry. Once the words were out of his mouth my sons pushed their chairs back from the table and cleared the room as if someone had shouted “Fire in the Hole!” They removed themselves from the blast radius. My older son patting me on the shoulder as he went. 

The fight we had isn’t important. Anyone who has a loved one that spews ignorance at the holiday table has had this fight. My social media streams were filled with people having these arguments, strategizing how to handle them, bracing themselves and looking for support. 

There is a brilliant Queer Afrofeminist Nigerian writer, Spectra, that I’ve been following for years. She is insightful and loving and brave and generous in her blogging. On November 26th she wrote Dear White Allies: Stop Unfriending Other White People and I breathed this quote in fully:

“This is the time to remember that the outrage you feel can in no way match my own and therefore you have way more emotional capacity than I do to talk some sense into the ‘other side.’

This is the time to remember that your “solidarity” does not render you powerless; in fact, the entire point of your solidarity is to lend the power you DO have to folks who do not.

And by the way, this is the time to remember that you do have power.”

Do I have the capacity to be the person my dad works this shit out with? I better be, given that what I’m feeling is nowhere near what Black mothers and fathers are feeling now, have been feeling forever. Nothing compared to what my Black loved ones are experiencing, wrapped in despair or rage or seeking comfort. I may be feeling heartbroken at the failure of my society to protect and respect us all equally; my loved one is feeling hunted in his own hometown. What I want is for my father to feel this with me. To feel it in his gut too. To weep with me, to be angry with me, to fight along side me. So what is preventing that from happening?

My dad and I love each other deeply, he thinks of me as brilliant and beautiful and brave. He’s shown up for me in ways he hasn’t had to. We have a relationship based on mutual respect, kindness, trust, and the ability to see the good in each other. So if I can’t dig into racism with him in a loving and compassionate way, then who the fuck is supposed to? He’s my dad. I love him. I’m not going to give up on him. In order to reach him, to meet him where he was at, I realized I didn’t need to be smarter than him, or stronger than him, or less emotional than him. I needed to take a risk and be vulnerable with him.

First I told him that I know he is a reasonable person. That he needs to know the reasons why Mike Brown was killed, and he agreed to that. I said I know that he believes in justice, so he’s looking for what justifies a cop using deadly force on an unarmed teen. To him there must be a good reason for why this happened. The news has provided him with those reasons, right? The kid held up a store, he reached into a cop car, he was massively sized and super strong, crazy enough to charge at the cop even after being shot at, right? The media has been spewing that nonsense from the jump precisely to ease the conscience of reasonable people like him. He agreed to that too, maybe not as whole heartedly. I tell him that the fact he needs a reasonable explanation is so important to me.

This is when my eyes water. This is when my voice cracks. I tell him I know that he doesn’t want to live in a country where Black people are killed for being Black. Yes, this violence is heartbreaking, Yes, there is no end in sight. Yes, it’s been going on for lifetimes. And yes, our hands are bloodied by it. All of that is true. I feel all of those things, it’s not like I am immune. So I know what it is I’m asking him to do. To see the injustice, to let it in. I say it hurts me so much when I hear him insist that when a Black teenager is killed by police, it’s because the kid must have done something to deserve it. I speak to his vulnerability. I say I can see his heart and that I’m hearing him say this injustice is too much for his heart to handle. I know that he is protecting himself from a level of cruelty that should be unfathomable. I share that I know once we see no defendable justification for Mike Brown’s parents to bury their child, we can’t unsee it and we feel powerless to stop it. I tell him that is what I’ve felt. And he listens, and we don’t fight. He doesn’t say I’m right and I don’t need him to. He lets me be. I let him be. We’re also really good at giving each other space.

This is what I have the capacity to do so that nobody else has to. No person of color, no stranger on the street, no coworker, shop owner, neighbor, needs to have this deep level of empathy for my father. But I do. And who knows how long it will take! Will we fight about it again? Maybe. I don’t expect this to be a one time conversation. I do know that I will try my best to come at it from this perspective, it’s too important not to come from a place of love. I will not avoid the topic, I will not shy away from conflict. I will love him unapologetically again and again every time.


Taking the Time to Dream

I’m a U2 fan. Whew. There. I admitted it. Ok, so, in rock history there’s this moment when U2 is finishing their Lovetown Tour, after the release of Rattle & Hum, when Bono says, “It’s no big deal, it’s just – we have to go away and … and dream it all up again.”

And they did, they holed up in Berlin for a few years and came out with Achtung Baby. I’m not sure I can adequately describe how amazing that is. Rattle & Hum is a masterpiece. They could have stayed with those sounds for the rest of their careers. They didn’t. Sometimes I imagine Bono, the raging narcissist, penultimate extrovert, quite literally climbing the studio walls in the pains of audience adoration withdrawls. But he had his art. He had his band. And he is one driven motherfucker. 

Sometimes I feel like my kids are my masterpieces. The parenting I’ve done as a young adult is impressive. The resources I’ve weaved together, the alliances I’ve made, the relationships I’ve cultivated, the years of focus, the stands I’ve made and the paths I’ve abandoned… this is art. Sometimes I feel like I’m the large canvas that got partially sketched on, then was set aside in order to focus on more pressing, smaller pieces. Always in back of the studio though, maybe a sheet covering it, maybe some dust gathering, but still there waiting to be given proper amounts of attention. A big canvas requires a big dream and many hours of dedication; hours without applause or adoration.

Yes, besides mixing my metaphors, I’m making the analogy that my kids are my Rattle & Hum and I’m hoping that my next life phase turns out to be Achtung Baby. Bono isn’t alone in his raging narcissism. 

I haven’t done much dreaming. Strategizing, yes. Absolutely. I’m really good at choosing the next right thing. I am an excellent evaluator, especially under stressful conditions. I see something is  wrong, I fix it. I make decisions, I stand by them, until it’s time to reevaluate. But dreaming? The expansive, open ended, hearts desire stuff? Not too much time for that since I made the big life changing decisions when my sons were tiny babies. I dreamt of a different life for us and I made it happen. My life, while challenging, does not suck. I feel very successful in certain ways. I feel adept and confident and savvy in so many arenas. I’ve achieved so many things I wasn’t supposed to. 

If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while, you’ve probably noticed a lot less articles, posts, and features. I’ve been writing for myself mostly. Writing to see what’s inside. I’ve been excavating. This past weekend I exposed a long lost layer of dreams to the air and while I was so afraid that these hearts desires would crumble in the sunlight, turns out they’re made of some durable material. I feel like I’ve been digging with the big equipment, jackhammers and pick axes and now it’s time to switch to the fine tooth brushes. There’s something there, what is it, what does it look like? It’s not something I’m ready to share publicly. But that doesn’t make it less valuable to me. I guess that’s the cost of taking the time to dream; there’s no adoration in the private process.

And now, well, it’s no big deal, I just have to go away and … and dream me all up again.




Tonight the Orionid meteors blaze through the sky, but I’m too tired tonight to stay up and see them. And I’m totally ok with that; had a long weekend. I watched the sunrise three mornings in a row. Watched Mama Bear fade into the green Eastern horizon. Next to the Geminids, Orion’s meteors are my favorite shooting stars. The Geminids are hard to see and are an all or nothing shower. You see a ton or you see none. Not unlike Geminis ourselves. We’re either fascinated by you or else there’s a good chance we won’t remember your name. The Orionids are consistently amazing. When I think of them, I remember being a little girl wrapped in a blanket on my grandparents lawn or being a pissed off teenager perched on a roof shivering, staring up, eyes unfocused trying to take in as much sky as possible. It was always hard not to focus on the spot where the last shooting star zoomed by. I remember the feeling of stretching my peripheral vision. To see more you had to watch less.  Meteor showers are about the accumulative affect and the Orionids are radiant… they move in all directions away from one spot.

To see more you have to watch less.



Stretch to see. 

I fell in love with the Orion constellation when I was still young enough to fall in love with my own imaginary beings. I didn’t know his story, I didn’t care. My own story for the man with the raised hand in the night sky satisfied me. I’ve walked home alone many times with Orion above me. “Well, that’s how that evening went.” Not really alone when there’s a familiar figure, proud and shiny watching over me.





Stretch to see.

I’ve started a new journey. A 10 month commitment to growing into the person I’ve only had hints that I can be. A new community. A new way of relating, learning and loving. I feel radiant. I’m being consistent. Love in my life feels constant. My process is accumulative. I’m stretching to see. I’m too tired to watch shooting stars tonight, next year I might not be. I’m really just grateful to know they’re happening.