All Strong Women Are Called Bitch

nasty-womanI woke up Friday morning, suddenly aware that my belief that election stress hadn’t gotten to me was, in fact, a coping strategy to hide from what now feels very much like trauma! It broke my heart to see how disconnected I’d become from my emotions just to survive this shit. It was alarming, because I try to look honestly at myself and what my feelings are telling me. I was hiding from pain!

Post-election is going to be ugly, too. There will be no ideal reconciliation, or even real workability, but thank god this part is OVER. The longest, most vitriolic election in modern history. I feel like I’ve been beaten.

I ached again for the little girl who grew up in a violent home, who developed that coping mechanism just so she could breathe. I read once that Depression isn’t merely a pervasive low feeling, but the absence of all feeling, eventually the inability to feel. A person crying “the tears of the damned,” I call them, will do anything not to feel them. Not to feel. They stop being able to feel at all, even the good stuff. It’s horrible, and it comes from hiding from pain.

I would have thought that I had a special radar for noticing when that technique was creeping into my life. I didn’t see it at all! You hear the buzz words “election anxiety” everywhere, and I had perched myself above it, in very much the same way I would leave my body during violence that I thought would kill me. When I saw it – her – I ached, and went in again to be the grown-up I needed when I was a terrified little girl.

I decided that I will no longer watch any news or footage of any kind until Wednesday, and I haven’t. Of course, it’s everywhere. You can’t get away from it. But I’m not permitting the sound bytes into my life anymore. I’ll know tomorrow what happens tonight.

At one point Friday, I was praying and dancing – with my new beautiful mandala hand drum – and putting peace and healing into the meditation/energy bubble I’ve described before. I had this vision of Hillary Clinton ushering in a reconciliation era. I felt almost elated! I danced and celebrated, and put all of my love into that vision.

The next day, I woke up feeling like such an idiot! I’m so stupid! Hillary won’t be permitted to lead our national recovery. They’re going to eviscerate her! They are going to make her pay so hard! They will never stop trying to SILENCE THE WOMAN. And they want the rest of us to witness what happens when we dare to speak.

I felt like crying. I felt hopeless.

And then I didn’t. Immediately, I thanked her again. She is the only woman who could break this final fucking ceiling. Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, SHE has opened the door at last for women to be taken seriously in U.S. Presidential races.

The United States hates women as much as it hates black people. It’s shameful that it’s taken so long for a woman to break through that insistent wall of fear and desperation. Germany has Angela Merkel. England has Theresa May, and the Iron Lady was taken seriously decades ago. Israel had Golda Meir a lifetime ago! She was born in 1898!

But not here. Never here. Here, they don’t want to hear. SHUT UP, said white male privilege to every woman and every person of color. “It is the existential fear of displacement from a world that has slowly – too slowly, for too long – been chipping away at white male supremacy.” -Rolling Stone

Hillary Clinton was the woman to break through that blockade, not because her place in history is that of a peacekeeper. That woman is a warrior! She’s strong enough to take anything they say and do to her. And only that woman can handle what’s coming after she’s elected. She’s a battering ram! And she’s willing to do it.

So I’m grateful. I don’t love her perfectly. That’s a childish world view. Politics is messy business. No one is 100% happy 100% of the time. That’s dictatorship. But Hillary Clinton is among the most honest politicians (Deal with it), and she’s accomplished things across both sides of the aisle, that make the world a better place. That has been her aim.

Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll see any of that ever again. This bipartisan bullshit is an attempt by the Republican party to bring down everyone if they can’t have their way, exactly as they want  it. It’s so dangerous. It breaks my heart.

And that’s where I come in. I have to learn my limit of exposure, and pray. Ironically enough, I’m a warrior, too. But it’s in this way that I came to my calling, which is to heal. Myself. My friends. My family. My neighbors. My world.

I can’t get bogged down by the futility of it all. I just have to believe in my ridiculous mystical bubble – and I do – and send all of my love into it. I can imagine myself into real visions of peace and cooperation, and when that sight takes the pain from my heart, I pray and pray and pray. “Let the world feel this, NOW. Let everyone who sees this in their heart send the power of their healing into the bubble, too, and make it grow!”

“Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
-Maya Angelou

drum

Here she is again. I love this drum so much! She is a healer! I love her voice.

Tonight, I will go to a belly dance class, and come home to work on my next mandala. In this way, I’ll hear none of the nonsense that I don’t need. It’s done.

I’ve found that the repetition of each rotation brings on a trance state, where the mind forgets its being-ness, and what’s inside comes up. I’ve caught myself putting hatred and anger into these beautiful lines and curves, but Sacred Truth stops me. I really feel like something else jumps in and says, “Not here! Not this!” So I redirect my thoughts, and pour love, joy, healing, humor, and everything beautiful about my inner nugget into these drums I’ve come to love so much. They contain prayers and magic!

Kumbaya, bitches!

womens-suffrage

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My Drums Went To Their First Show!

grateful-goddess markos-and-my-drums

my-first-showNone of mine sold this time, but they will!!!

Even better, here’s my latest and greatest. It’s 13″ on a wood frame – huge difference in sound integrity and just… overall goodness. Plastic/petroleum sucks – and I really nailed the color relationships this time. I love it so much, Marko told me it should be mine. Secretly, I think he just loves me and wants to watch me play and laugh and be happy. It’s something we can share and love together. For 8 years, he’s been begging me to involve myself somehow in his art, by giving me chance after chance to create my place in his studio. I’ve dabbled, but I’m lazy and it didn’t connect until I finally decided to hand-paint mandalas on his drums. Marko advised me not to part with this for less than $200, but I don’t think I’ll let it go at all. It has such beautiful tone and color!latest-and-greatest

Speaking of stepping into my creativity and honoring the opportunities in my life, I’m recommitting here and now to sticking with the didgeridoo until and after I master circular breathing already! (Marko has also given me hundreds of dollars worth of didgeridoos and didge-boxes. Hell, he even paid me for awhile just to ship them, but I didn’t check my emails enough to keep the job!)

The Original Didjbox original-didgeFollow the link to Marko’s online shop, to see his original patented design. He’s the first in 400,000 years to alter the aboriginal instrument, and once he invented the didgebox it was immediately incorporated into designs all over the world, by individual craftsmen and artists, as well as by companies that make a killing off of his design. (A U.S. patent means nothing in the global community, but it still proves Marko’s place in the world of music and innovation.) You can make the most amazing works of art now that are functioning didgeridoos, because of Marko’s invention at their core. If you’re into didge, you know his name.

Here we are at Burning Man in 2008, with one of his hand-crafted leather didgeridoos. marko-and-me

Utah’s Didgeridoo Maker Here’s a link to the online article about Marko that appeared in Utah Stories. Ironically, I’d been pitching the idea for months to the owner of the urban rag mag before he stole my [unrelated] article, printed it verbatim, and didn’t pay me. Our relationship had begun to erode, because as much as I loved the content and angle he presented of my beloved city, the man can’t edit for shit. With his permission, and a pittance of pay, I was doing it. His ego is so big, however, that he continually corrected my corrections, incorrectly. After about 3 months of this, he realized he’d never given me credit in the staff bio as editor. I begged him not to, and finally had to confess why. I tried to be tactful, congratulating him on what he’d created, but reminding him to stick to his strengths and delegate to others what their talents can serve. He was offended and took back the article I was currently writing, then published it completely, unaltered, with one paragraph added, crediting (and presumably paying) the author of that paragraph.

He sent another writer to feature Marko in the very next issue. What a baby! He showed me! But it’s a great article. I like Al Sachrov, who wrote it, and I’m very proud of My Man Marko, Utah’s Didgeridoo Maker.
marko

Halloween Capers

and Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been taking a Community Ed class at East High here in Salt Lake. Quinn decided on a break from teaching djembe [that threatens to be a long-term shift], and I needed focus and music in my life. I’m not terrifically self-directed, so I pulled my old guitar out of the garage and started again with Beginning Beginners. I love it.

My wrist has not complained like it did when I dusted off my rusty, twanging dreams 4 years ago, when my real journey with Fibro began. I definitely feel it, but pain patches and yoga really seem to be taking care of me for now. LARGE BLESSINGS!

My body is my own again!

It’s clear that the janitors come during our class, because every week when I leave, the halls simply sparkle. For some reason [I’m weird], last week I got the idea to leave notes for the cleaners. I giggled and giggled dreaming up my caper and yesterday, I finally played out my little impish frolic. I ducked around a corner every time I heard someone approach, then re-emerged to post another note. No explanation can capture the why of this, or how hard I had myself laughing.

Trick or Treat!

Halloween is my FAVORITE HOLIDAY!

2011

Redhead Costume Idea … FIRE Itself!

second-floor

thank-you

“Excellent Work!” “Wonderful Job!”

Skinny Was My Superpower

And I ate everything!

I learned that some girls in my school had what they called “The Christie’s Thigh Diet,” because my legs didn’t “splat” when I sat down in my cheerleading outfit.

So I ate more. To show off.

Well, 40+ happens to everyone, ha! I bought a car on September 1st and gained 19 lbs. in 4 months. (9 years on a bike, and damned proud!)

I am 5’6(-)” and 159.6 lbs! I think 5 lbs/mo. is healthy weightloss. I’d like to reach 130 by Summer, and stay there this time.

When I got home from Spain last year I was 129 lbs. But, you know, being held captive and fed once a day will do that to you. I told my best friend that “The Brian and Chrissy [forced] Diet” was more effective than the one those girls named after me in high school, and at least one good thing had come from the trip.

But my visit triggered dormant PTSD, which triggered a loooong binge, and I ate everything. I finally got it under control after 6 months or so and held steady at 140-145, not minding if I did or didn’t lose weight.

So that’s what I’m doing this New Year’s. Diet and exercise, like everyone else. I don’t mind being average. 🙂

And quit smoking. (For good! 20 YEARS in May! Unacceptable.)

I quit Diet Pepsi in October! Hey!

I expect Salt Lake Power Yoga to bring me back to my athletic body and relieve the newly unremitting pain of Fibromyalgia. (Since Spring, 2015 was spent in constant pain, with a week to 10 days off here and there. It was aching, exhausting, and extremely challenging to retain my signature enthusiasm. Before this year, I never considered medication. Now I’m studying.) (It seems awful. I really hope to keep it natural, and controlled.)

I have to say, I hide weight well. It’s pretty evenly distributed. It’s like everything just puffed. I got as much back fat as I did boobs but they fill an A cup now, so there’s that.

Oh, guess what else happened in 2015? Psoriasis. *sigh*

Coconut oil seems to help, but I’m still finding new patches every so often (since November). I’m hoping to avoid steroids or immune suppressors.

I’ll continue djembe lessons and drum for dance classes. I’m joining a guitar class on the 13th. I’m anxious. That’s what began my journey with Fibro 4 years ago. Refamiliarizing myself with chords and frets, I developed pain in my left wrist until it seized up to the point of requiring a cortisone injection to move freely again without screaming agony that woke me up nights. Other joints joined in, but only the left big toe needed cortisone. None of those joints is 100% now, and that wrist is particularly moody, but not unbearable.

I have to try. I want to play and sing! I want to write shitty music.

Life is strange. I would have thought it untenable, my reality. My body hurts. I’m tired and lack endurance. Aching like I do – worse and worse, in ever-new muscles and junctions, then finding scaly patches of goddamned skin that spread and won’t go away – is very frustrating. And I like my life. Huh. tough

Everyone has something. Some people have lots of somethings.

Okay.

Hope you’re rollin’ with it and having a good time, too.
Blessings in 2016.blessing

TEDx Salt Lake City

Look what I found!

Africa Heartwood Drum & Dance Ensemble performed at TEDx on Sept. 20th. Of course, I can hear myself and immediately begin finding fault, but I just have to remember that day. I love Africa Heartwood Project. I’m so honored to be a part of it. I love the music. I love the community. I love African drum and dance! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for me.

This was so exciting and nerve-wracking. You might perceive, also, that as an ensemble we’d never heard the last song of our show before we took to the stage, haha! Andy’s… inspiring like that. 🙂

(Ooh, get up on that note! I remember thinking, “Oh my, they started a little high.” Oy!)

(Funny side-note: I’m told I clapped for myself after my first performance at 3 years of age, as well. It was my premiere audience and I suppose I thought, “Oh, this is what we’re doing now. How lovely, yes!” I’m still at it, it seems, only these days I have a percussive rattle. I clap at the end of my shows, too. I love the actors I work with, and I really love the audience. Live music, theatre, and dance are special. Even if it’s not the best, there’s something beautiful about the symbiotic relationship we create together. It can’t be duplicated. It’s fleeting and sacred, and exists only because of every person in the room.)

Korejuga

Finally!

For the entire class last week, I was trying to think of the name of the Lakota group that’s an approximate equivalent to the Korejuga, from the Malinke tribe in the region of Guinea in Africa. (Korejuga are the jesters who show up to your party and tell jokes about you ’til you pay them.) They are the Heyoka. Phew!

Among the Lakota people, the heyoka (heyókȟa, also spelled “haokah,” “heyokha”) was a contrarian, jester, satirist or sacred clown. The heyoka spoke, moved and reacted in an opposite fashion to the people around them. Only those having visions of the thunder beings of the west, the Wakinyan, could act as heyokas.

Korejuga is a really fun, challenging rhythm. It’s a little frustrating, because it’s one in which the difference between slaps and tones really makes the music, and I just don’t differentiate yet. I try not to get – rah! – with myself because I am a beginner and I get to sound like one, but it makes a difference with timing, somehow, when you muddy over the distinct voice of each beat. I catch myself falling out of sync with the recording when I practice. I do love this one, though, and I love Quinn.

Quinn is the Korejuga of my life. He likes me, too, because I make faces and swear at him, haha! When I really zing him, he calls an “Air five!” or “Air hug!” Sometimes when I go for it, I get “DENIED! Oh!” Straight out of the 90s. He’s so much fun! He’s like a kid brother and I couldn’t love him more.

Now… I have got to figure out this signal! Why is this so hard? I can alternately play and fake the rhythm, but this signal is mocking me!

______

In my first sweat lodge, my leader was Heyoka. I was confused, because this event was supposed to be so holy. There was no frame of reference for such an irreverent man. I, myself, am quite an irreverent person. Paradoxically, I also have a great reverence for spiritual things. In my own “Orthodoxy of Christie,” God or Whomever is freaking hilarious, and one of the most healing, loving, delicious things we can do, privately and communally, is to laugh. But my upbringing made occasions of gravity… somber. Not really. People tell jokes at church. The funny talks are always the most touching and human, memorable. The Bishop who made me laugh is still my favorite. But Sweat Lodge seemed to me like going through the temple, I guess. I’ve never done that, but I know how you act in there. Hushed and humble, not cackling and contrary!

I caught on to Chief Shellbone’s oppositional humor. Between one of the sessions, when he opened the door covering he bellowed, “Hot enough for ya?”

“NO!” I hollered back.

He threw cool water on me and I got street cred, haha! Aho Mitakuye Oyasin!

(Incidentally, whenever I start to “go” into the heat, I have visions of prairie people in wagons. Every time. Many of those with whom I pray here are Native. I have come to believe that my people, who met theirs while crossing the plains, are joining with us, just as their ancestors are. It’s so beautiful.)

______

Oh my gosh, I’m the Korejuga! My friends paid my way for all of my twenties. (The “’til you pay them” part cracks me up!) I’d consider myself a mooch if I weren’t so amusing. Also generous and loving. 🙂 I babysat a lot of kids for free. Lucky me.

Sinté

I’m buying my djembe today, and last night as I was going to bed I decided that my new goal in the next year is to learn to play and sing together. It’s hard! With Africa Heartwood Project, all I’ve done so far is to shake a rattle – and sometimes I can’t sing at the same time! (Or keep the beat… Something’s gotta give, haha!)

When I pictured myself singing and drumming freely and with skill, I thought, “Oh, isn’t that strange? That dream from my childhood…”

I used to sing/chant this verse to my dolls that a golden idol taught me in my sleep. She turned into a woman in African dress… and chased me, actually. It was terrifying. But I remembered the song she sang to draw me to her. She was in my dreams for years until Mom forbade me to sing what I’d learned, and then I forgot her. Maybe manifesting African drum and dance in this life wasn’t so random, after all.

I found out years later that my ancestor, Abigail, woke up knowing songs, too. She wrote about it herself in the 1800s. In a childhood dream, Abigail heard the song of “a people in white on a vast plain of grass” and “longed to be numbered among them.” She taught the song to her friends. (I taught my chant to my sister. That’s when I got in trouble. Melanie always told.) Later, Abigail became one of the first Mormons, and she and the other fleeing members sang that song while crossing the plains to Utah.

This morning my friend invited me to a dream workshop on Friday. Should be fun.

_____

Sinté is played for weddings on a large krin, which fits 3 players.
(rhythm modified for Malinke drums, which we play here in Salt Lake)

Location: Boke, Guinea
Ethnic Group: Nalou