“Clean up on aisle 2021!”
I’m gonna say a lot of... potentially hard shit in this blog. Not to make noise, to make sense. Because what else is there left to do in 2021 but make sense out of whatever the heck the last year was. And the three others before that. The last 20. The last 200. You get the picture. A glorious Bob Ross of a picturesque, fertile, muddy mess, with a happy little dumpster fire here, and just a sprinkle of traumatic experience everywhere over there. A muddy mess of which we actually already have all of the right tools to build ourselves a strong foundation of real support. You know, support that we have to drop brick, by carefully dropped brick, into the mud, while pumping through the system that which would wash us away, all the while sifting through the sediment to sort what nutrients remain after such a chaotic, primordial, muddy snow globe shake up.
“Yaaaay sounds glorious! I’m fucking exhausted.”
Yes you are. I am. People not reading this are. We all are (because I highly doubt any 1%ers are reading my blog, and if you happen to be one, my CashApp is located here). I’m going to do my best to illuminate a subject I’ve been pondering for a good long time, and pray that at this point I’ve taken in enough brain nutrients to pop a kernel of Truth out through my nuance in language. You see, I speak metaphor as language because I receive language of metaphor. I’m an artist first and foremost, my brain is going to work a bit different than say, a neurobiologist. But the kernel of Truth we both spend our time studying from the inner workings out, is the same. That kernel being, consciousness.
There’s (I’m going to put this gently) a lot of problems out in the world today (pause for a good, releasing rage-laugh). At this point every human on the planet has a different set of circumstances that range from inconvenience to trauma to death, roughly one year into this pandemic, turned pandem-o-volution, as I’ve been calling it. If you’re in the U.S. and reading this, there’s a really good chance you’re a human that saw this arriving last March and went, FUUUUUCK. Our country was not set up in a constructive, resonant way going into this. We were fucked to begin with. I don’t know where you are, specific reader, with your own set of circumstances, hardships, struggles, accomplishments, discoveries, etc. But I imagine at some point you’ve had to face a lot of realities about what is, versus what you’d ideally want. Heck, every single day for you might have been an exercise about figuring out which next uninvited fire to put out around your life, and you know what...that’s ok, it’s a fucking pandem-o-volution.
I started using that term last summer, when the United States was literally on fire. It’s unbelievable right? All the things that happened within the span of one year. Just think of all the things that happened in your individual life, let alone the outside world. For many of us, disbelief can set in that we actually went through that, and accomplished coming out (so far) on the other side (a moment of blessings to those not with us anymore). There’s an awe that we can get lost in remembering how hard something was, how frustrating, how anger inducing, how it almost broke us. We should probably stop talking about it at this point because we might start to dive together into retriggering. And that is what we do not want, if we’re going to keep our resiliency about us in this giant muddy mess of America that we are trying to function in.
“So what’s this blog about Deanna? Clever title, but you’re just posturing.”
Friend, this blog is about Truth. With the Capital T. (See what I did there?) We all have our individual truths, and it’s the individuality of truth that can get us humankind into some stuck situations with each other. We can do our best to sit with what may be painful for us, trying to find the right words to explain how harmful something is to a person who has harmed us, but they just might not “get it.” Because the most of what is harming us, is the system itself, in all its myriad of twisted, complicated ways. Sometimes it’s hard to even comprehend the whole system when we’re busy just trying to be a healthy working cog in one part of it, trying not to be gobbled up by the very same system. Depending on where our own little cog is located (aka, our individual life experiences), there may be many more turns, and corners and layers of systems to make our way through before we’d be able to fully grasp the enormity of what’s actually going on around us. Sometimes we get past a turn and see an entire new hallway of gears to make our way through, and we decide to just sit down and rest for a minute, and end up staying because we just get used to making due with our resting point.
But if we’re all in the system, then, isn’t the kernel of Truth that...somebody else had to make the system? We’re running it, but somebody else made it, and we’re exhausted in it, and we still have to get through it, in order to understand how it works to then upgrade it? Good lort no wonder this is taking forever!
What if we were granted a shortcut? What if we had a tool to help us get through this in a smoother, less harmful fashion? We’re covered in mud and sediment of yesterday’s trash and trying to worm our way through the bowels of “the system” toward some mystical spacetime that is of resonant and bountiful beauty, grace, joy & Light… “Hell yeah Deanna, give me that shortcut!”
Well friends, the shortcut is actually the longcut, because when you’re stuck inside a system you didn’t build, the only way through is through. But we can choose to wash ourselves and each other in the tears of our grief & sorrow, save what comes off that’s good for the journey, compost the rest, and keep helping each other through together. Let’s also think for a moment, before we stop metaphoring and start translating this into “why the heck is this blog supposed to be good for me,” what happens when we add Fire to a heated, muddy gunked up system? Things that were already hardening get harder. Gross hard shit butts up against other gross hard shit, it connects together and ends up forming blocks of hard shit in the system we all have to function in. Now, we could choose to ignore those blocks and do our own thing, but at some point, those blocks are gonna be in everybody’s way behind us. And the system ends up more gunked up day after day because we only stopped to apply the “clean as you go” thing to our restaurant jobs.
I think y’all are probably starting to recognize the makeup of this metaphor I’m spitting. It’s why this blog started off in humor. And also acceptance. Humor often helps us process the hardest shit in life (shout out to any fellow Murderinos out there). Have we ever stopped to process why humor does that, other than feeling good to our funny bone? Laughing gives us a moment to take in deeper breath. Laughing gives us a pause to suspend our disbelief of a horrible situation long enough to just accept what chaotic, paradoxical nonsense just is, without trying to change it, or judge it. Laughter is golden. That pause of breath and sense of Divine Presence suspended in spacetime is fucking golden. When we really belly laugh, we feel alive don’t we? What if I told you… laughing is in a way, mindfulness meditation?
“Deanna, you’re nutty, laughing is not meditation. Are you sure you’re enrolled in a quality program?”
Stay with me dear friends, metaphors (also, I am a helluva tease after all).
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of letting go, allowing, and returning to our present self moment, after moment, after moment, after moment. In that moment of laughter, we return to ourselves. Take a moment right now, and think back to your last year...was there any moment that you can recall where you ended up in rage-laughter? You know...that laugh that’s past frustration, past anger, past even disbelief because you know what you are laughing at is actually really true. I was living at near daily rage-laughter from about the first presidential debate up until after the inauguration. Laughing beyond my disbelief, right back into acceptance and unhinged belief.
Here’s the thing though...if that’s ever happened to you, you’ve healed yourself, at least a little bit, in that moment because you chose a pause and breathe for acceptance. You converted your disbelief into belief and allowed that breath to pass through you and shake that Fire in you loose into the compost of your gut, and a nice hearty steam release through your mouth. Here’s the other thing, you made Divine Truth happen too. Divine Truth is not human made truth. Laws are a human construct. Language is a human construct. Gender is a human construct. Religion is definitely a human construct. And that’s why the antonym to truth is not “lie”...it’s belief…
Let’s take a step back in a minute to our muddy cog system metaphor. Oftentimes our laughter, rage or otherwise, can kick loose some stuck emotions and allow our tears (happy or sorrowful) to wash away some of that mud. Once we have experienced what it feels like to have that wash of acceptance of grief & sorrow, and have felt it cleanse the mud from our bodies and reveal our true, untainted and original nature of grace & humor, we’ve got an embodied “felt” experience to connect with. If we are a part of the whole system, and we know this works for us with laughter, that we can wash ourselves of muck that did not belong to us so that we have a less burdened time trying to make our way through this thing called life, then that means this might work for others too right? We might at some point become so excited by and accustomed to washing ourselves and our own unit, that we can become “so clean” that we can’t even imagine why other folks along our path choose to try to get through this thing all caked in mud and soot. It can get frustrating, always having to step over, and around and slip in other’s muck that they chose not to deal with. Landing us right back in this place of disdain, or disbelief that someone would just leave their obvious muck all around like that.
What I’m getting at with this metaphor is the kernel of Truth of having to accept others' bullshit because all of our human lives are interdependent to each other. I can hear y’all now, “Yes! I knew it! Deanna is still gonna give me a shortcut to getting around not having to deal with other people’s shit!”
Well the answer friends is… yes, and no, and both/and.
When we don’t deal with the muck...it’s still there right? That’s why America is in the shape it’s in? Because not enough folks have cleaned up enough mess yet right?
“Oh shit, Deanna’s gonna tell me I have to go and do more activism...but I’m tiiiiiiiiired! It’s a pandem-o-volution for Pete’s sake.”
No, I’m not going to tell you to go ‘do’ more if what you need to do, is to do you. Hello! You’re a cog in the system! Ya got muck on ya friend, we all do, now let’s go get cleaned up together!
If it were only that simple right? But our problems are complex. They are not an easy fix. They are not a shortcut. They are the time consuming, unraveling of entwined muddy systems connected to other muddy systems that have been purposefully built in such a way that the muck actually benefits the builder(s). All of our cog threads are twisted and crusty and leaking oil and too much to work on, so we just do what we have to do today to put off what’s too much til tomorrow. And thennnnn, apathy. The most evil of evil villians to threaten the health & wellbeing of our broken, collective consciousness, inner-child. Humanity’s giant, gaping, Source Wound. Ugh.
Not doing anything (or enough) is what got us into this mucky mess, and as absolutely fucking exhausted as we are (white folk), we don’t practice our resiliency every day to give up at the final hour.
This blog is not going to be about telling folks who have experienced different oppressions than I what and how to process their feelings. This blog is about encouraging those of us (white folk and others) willing and able to do “the work” to continue waking up to our biases so that we collectively can leave Mama Earth in a better spacetime than it was when we took our first breath. And to do that, we’re gonna have to look at one big, glaring, muddy, “elephant” in-the-room bias that I for one, think there’s not enough talking about, and certainly not enough sharing of tools to deal with.
We at this point y’all, are well beyond niceties when it comes to racism, xenophobia, gender & identity discrimination, and the destruction of Mama Earth Herself. We are in the realm of doxxing, and cancel culture, and entire countries on fire, dual impeachments, runes & salutes on television, and flags in halls that have in over 150 years never waved in certain ‘sacred’ places. We are in an acute, muddy, systemic, mess. And what’s worse yet, the head of the hydra that’s a direct descendant of one of the builders of “the system” has been cut loose and five more have grown in its place, to go more underground, back into the system, converting more cogs to hardened fire misers, wreaking havoc to us regular ol’ cogs just trying to get un-mucky and through our day.
Y’all, we don’t have the option anymore to keep pumping more Fire in the system. I’m not even going to get into how many acres were literally on fire last year around the globe. I’m not going to get into the downfall of Texas politicians' choice to try to cheat the system for more profits in fire muck itself, only to result in intense and unnecessary suffering of thousands of regular folk. And I'm also not going to get into a discussion about whether or not I can be both non-violent and honor all forms of dissent (you can read more about my thoughts on that kind of discernment here...it's slightly NSFW BTW). I’m not going to rehash anything that was because, it was. We’re now. We have to accept what is now otherwise we are not going to get around to doing the washing and cleaning, let alone the building the ability to have a smooth running system.
I want us to hold in our mindseye again, this feeling of disbelief that we’re still here. Still trying to adjust the same broken things we were trying to change a century ago. It’s a frozen moment, isn’t it? Disbelief is the freeze trauma response. In my opinion, the worst of the trauma responses because it has us doing, nothing. Apathy is what is beyond freeze, when our parasympathetic nervous system just doesn’t have any more fucks left to give. Neither freeze nor apathy is a spacetime we want to rest or stay stuck in. Visit, sure, we don’t deny feelings when they arise, but rest in, nope. When we rest in disbelief, we are taking our pause in a frozen moment, not an actively aware moment. Over time that frozen moment can become so fixated in us (due to our overstressed parasympathetic nervous system), that when we experience a trigger that is part of that trauma of disbelief, it can zap us right back to the past freeze moment, almost as if yanking an imaginary rope we have tied around our belts. Pulling us back on our ass, only to have to get up again, dust ourselves off, and try to find where we were on our exhaustive path again.
But what if we made regular, intentional visits to our disbelief in order to break down the hardened shell of the kernel of that Truth it carries all tucked inside, not wanting to be dealt with? (If you’re still reading at this point, I think I trust that you’re here for that good good of actually being able to do something about this pain instead of just re-experience it through my blog here). Let’s think again about that rage-laughter…
The pause...the spacious space in time that is the act of laughing itself is what allows us to accept a reality that we do not want to accept. It’s that moment at which we stop running from what sucks, and we allow it to just, be. Without trying to deny it or change it. Now, I’m not calling for us to just utilize indiscriminate making-fun-of as a way to ward off racism & abuse, quite the opposite. I’m calling for us to learn from the physiology of what happens during our rage-laughter, and apply that to the other times we are just having our normal ass day...and need to continue to stand up for what’s right each time we encounter it.
“Now THAT, sounds like a shortcut, Deanna.”
And it is. It’s called mindfulness! It’s also called Insight meditation, or Vipassana...which is the style of meditation I’m in training to certify as an instructor. It’s the practice of paying attention to, slowing down and guiding our breath to meet with us in any given present moment. It is the practice of choosing to pause and make space within our present moment, to then choose what we pay attention to, feel, experience and do with ourselves. This friends, is an incredible resilience building tool when it comes to this pilgrimage of a journey through the muddy system we’ve all been born into. Disbelief will have us frozen and yelling at elephants online all day. Mindfulness, with practice, will have us repeatedly waking ourselves back up with more acceptance of what is, and space in our lived experience to choose what we want to do about it.
Mindfulness is not an end all, be all peacemaker, but it is something that helps us untangle our threads of cogs, much like one of my favorite metaphorical stories, “Skeleton Woman,” an Inuit tale, retold by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in “Women Who Run With The Wolves,” (which is required reading for any of my fellow artistic mystic storytellers out there). When we stop running, we start dealing. Disbelief is running while frozen and unsustainable to our long term wellbeing. Dealing is accepting, short term withstanding for longer term grace. Accepting is not condoning, it is making space for what is to be adjusted (told y’all, longcut).
A very important example I can give about applying this to our current predicament, is how we choose to deal with discrimination and oppression, in any given moment in any day. When we expose our brains to the internet, we are taking in and reinforcing information in our brains. What we concentrate on, is our reality. When violent extremist groups concentrate themselves into one echo chamber of an internet reality, we know already what happens. Could we take a step back for a moment for a wider perspective, and look at what we do when we constantly watch them, re-experiencing the disbelief that more of the same is still unbelievable? Depending on our news sources & personalized feed (please remember every person has a different internet experience), we may be getting all trauma porn of disbelief all day, that these people with these labels are doing this thing again and UGH! Just rampant disbelief. That shit weighs on us, doesn’t it? It takes up precious brain energy, which is actually emotionally processing energy, which is actually physically processing energy, and why we’re utterly exhausted after being on the internet all day. What if...we spent less of our time subjecting ourselves to trauma porn, unintentionally adding anxiety, stress and ongoing, life draining, sympathetic nervous system response, and more time actually handling our own shit. Aka, putting ourselves in a 20-30 minute time out every day to down-regulate our tension through our breath and our anxiety, and allow our day’s brain trash to move through our gut, and evaporate into the air after a long, deep, sustained cleansing sighhhhhhhhhh.
Sounds nice, right? It ain’t easy friends, and it takes some technique, but it is worth it. Because handling our own shit gives us more breath and spacetime to handle what is about this exquisite, chaotic life we have rather than worrying about what isn’t. Handling our own shit, our anger, our frustration, our impatience, our fear, our scarcity, our lack of connection with self leaves us more “here” in the present, because we’ve invited all our shadowy shit to sit with us in the dark and stew in time out, together. Not separate. All of us inside the healing circle of our breath. Our awareness of our breath is the practice of calming our own spacetime where we get to be our own friend, and forgive ourselves for being “not enough” or “too much” or “messy.” It’s the spacetime we learn what is our own baggage, and what was someone else's that they just couldn’t hold onto at the time we interacted with them. It’s the spacetime where we can truly learn to understand that shaming trolls (or each other y’all, cut that shit out) on the internet is only a short, shallow ego fix, and doesn’t actually unravel the individualized, twisted problems of the world. Our awareness of our own breath is the spacetime where we get to reclaim our precious energy from the disbelief of how inhumane the world is, and find more lovingkindness for our own journey, our own imperfections. Our awareness of our own breath is how we can then begin to unravel the twisted dirty cogs and see that everyone is walking around hyperaware of their own imperfections, and just trying to do their best to not get others muddy too.
I think this practice of self accountability is going to be incredibly useful in our collective journey to healing human and nature divides. I know that it is, because it’s an anciently wonderful and strong system built on the solid foundation of nurturing, oneness of LOVE (and totally backed by secular modern brain science). And also I know this because a year into a pandem-o-volution as a self-partnered person without roommates, any close blood fam, all chosen fam in states far away, and a totally evaporated prior career path… I’m still here, I’m still somehow optimistic, I can still find joy in every day (even the worst ones) and I still give a shit about being the best human cog in the system that I can be, for me, for you, for us.
When our systems are already made of too much Fire, too much Flood, poisoned Air, we can choose to add more Earth. Ground ourselves further onto Her surface, get more connected with Her at Her Roots, become more human. We become more human every time we make a conscious choice to bring ourselves back to our own breath and presence in spacetime, off the loop of the what-ifs, the to-do’s, the should-have’s. We rehumanize ourselves when we build the resilience to not pick up the phone and doomscroll out of mindlessness. We rehumanize ourselves when we choose not to go off on an internet troll or a community member with a foot in their mouth, so that we have more energy for assisting our friends & neighbors in real life, facing harmful words & actions every day. We rehumanize ourselves when we learn to ground our own pain in the gentle spacetime of loving care so that we can choose humane words that don’t push fire elephants towards more fire. Grounding ourselves through the anchor of our own breath isn’t bypassing our pain, it’s directing it back into the Mother because we are always held by Her. Our Fire is held by Her. Our Fire is Her. We are literally made of electrified stardust y’all, why shouldn’t we think that we can find our own tools within us by being in connection with Her. Our breath is Her. Our emotions are Her. Our wisdom is Her. Our future is Her. Our NOW is Her. We are the modern architects of Her, and WE choose how we want Her to look, how Her systems operate, one sit, one thread, one cog, one connection, one candle lighting another candle at a time.
We cannot solve the Divine Chaotic Paradox that is life in 2021 with logic, and preconceived judgment. Logic and judgment doesn’t leave spacetime for the Divine Pause of spontaneous discernment (aka our intuition) to decide what’s working and what’s not working anymore. Sacred stillness is the antidote to the experience of trance we are all biologically programmed to. Sacred stillness is our birthright. If we as a species are going to come back Home to Ourselves then we are going to have to remember how to be more human than the dehuman the system was built for. We run this Bitch. All crew on Starship Earth. Part of the ship, part of the crew. No captains. No masters.
Before you exit this blog, I encourage you to try a short practice to process & integrate what you’ve just read, and then try and respond with some thoughts. Wherever you are, give yourself a couple of minutes to sit in pause, and draw attention to your breath. Give yourself a moment to breath in by the count of 3, pause, and exhale for the count of 3. If you feel yourself experience some calm, try to space your breath out to 4 counts, and then to 5. And once you’ve given yourself a few minutes to anchor your breath deep within your body, I’d like to invite you to respond in the comments with whatever response this blog brought up in you. No leading questions, no judgments, no cross-talk on other people’s posts. Just a few sentences of sharing about how this impacted you.
If you feel this blog made a positive and constructive impact on you, please share it with a friend. Direct email and shares of the specific url are best, as certain social media technology does not lend toward click-ability and reach. Today is also International Sex Workers Rights Day, and one of the best ways to support sex workers (and other creatives who have / had access to limited resources) is to amplify our voices. My internet (and thus, my work environment) accessibility is limited due to the nature of my work and my social class (aka the muddy system). My work assists sex workers and working class creatives. This is the system I’m choosing to help cleanse, one sit at a time, one candle shared at a time, and I can do that better when I have interdependent support, and a little bit of human loving care from our interconnected webs. (I also totally have a patreon, appreciate any and all support for as little as $5 a month). Namaste y’all, your Artistic Mystic,