Category Archives: Inspiration

That time Street Food Saved My Life…

When you eat an arepa like Dona Berta’s arepas, it’s as if you were eating at your grandmother’s. It’s a direct reference to emotion, to nostalgia.

-Luisa Acosta

Did I ever tell you about the time a Caribbean fruit smoothie revived my soul?

Ok so I had a nervous breakdown in the late 90s, dropped out of college and came back home a hot mess.  My mother took me to Trinidad, her birthplace, for a change of scenery and I was still  pretty miserable for most of it but there was something that happened to me there that even in the midst of my fragmented existential inner torment I could not deny. And it stays with me to this day. I can never forget it.

My mom had a friend in Trinidad who made fruit smoothies from the patio of his house, a bright colored wooden house with a yard that brimmed with abundant fruit trees. All of the fruits and ingredients who used were locally sourced from the island. I remember going there with my mom and another friend of hers to get a few tall frosty blended fruit drinks before we got in a car to drive to the beach. Somewhat just as determined to remain as miserable as I actually was, I took the drink in my hand with no sense of gratitude and then I took a sip and my insides were dancing frantically against the will of depression. The taste was so joyful, so pure, innocent, open, unapologetically present and delicious.

These were not just flavors. This was the taste of something connected to spirit, something I would never taste again, something that could not be duplicated, the edibility of hope and life itself. I felt high and yet I was stubborn and inclined to stuff it down because it just didn’t go along with the heaviness that permeated my being at the time. But I felt it like a bolt of lightening and I know that drink made me want to live again. Taste made me want to live again. The seed was planted. Ridiculous? Maybe. But the reasons that truly let us know we’re alive don’t have to make sense to anyone else.

Continue reading That time Street Food Saved My Life…

NO MORE NORMAL PLEASE

Eventually, doctors will find a coronavirus vaccine, but black people will continue to wait, despite the futility of hope, for a cure for racism. We will live with the knowledge that a hashtag is not a vaccine for white supremacy. We live with the knowledge that, still, no one is coming to save us. The rest of the world yearns to get back to normal. For black people, normal is the very thing from which we yearn to be free.

-Roxanne Gay

This past weekend I went for what has become my reoccurring restorative walk through the park, which is just a block across from where my husband and I live. Since this pandemic began I have taken this walk about once every week or so.

As you know if you have been reading my blog long enough, I derive a deep sense of center, calm, inspiration, regeneration and healing from nature in a way I am ceaselessly thankful for. It’s free and it gives limitlessly, a truly actionable love. I am very much connected to the beings that exist in nature and it’s loving, functional and harmonious energy.

Since my husband is prone to respiratory infections, he has been vigilant at limiting his time outdoors, particularly in the city where Covid infected numbers are at their highest because of the high density of people in NYC. So I’ve gone on these walks alone always, with PPE on and defense at hand. But the more I love this walk, the more I want to share it with my husband and this weekend I asked him in my specially gentle tone (LOL!) if he might and he said yes.

This park has long stretches of wide path that go for miles and miles, breaking off along the way through miles of sky high tall trees, and lower leaning bushes that often create a thick tunnel of green overhead. There are Robins, and Blue Jays, Cardinals. There are large fallen trees that lay like majestic fallen giants in the woods which I have a deep inexplicable affection for.

I have been walking a path, about about 20 minutes long that leads to a crossroad. I take the left road just a few feet to where a long beautiful trunk of a large pale tree lays perfectly on the right side of that path.

There I sit.

There I rest.

There I reflect.

There I try to bring my awareness to the present.

There I dare to close my eyes.

There I breath in deeply.

There I sway to the sound of the trees swaying.

There I stare up into heavenly green canopy.

There, I am here.

 

My husband didn’t sit on the tree trunk with me. LOL! I was fine with that. I just wanted to be there with him, in a place where I have been able to feel free, feel relaxed, feel something like whole and even safe. I sat and watched him remove his mask briefly to take a few long deep breaths. He’s not used to walking this far or this long with his mask on. I’ve adjusted to it. When we got back to the apartment he told me he wants to go for a walk in the park once a week.

No one can take it from me.

 

 

And I Stare at My Cat a lot: A Gratitude List

I can’t say that I prefer working from home because the nature of what I do is hard to translate over this format. But I do like that any minute I need to step away, my surroundings are immediately calming for me. I’ve have moments of tight chestedness and stomach flipping anxiety since this all began a week ago. Unexpected things have been revealed as a result of this situation and I have had to initiate things I never thought I would have perviously. It really helped me when these things were happening to know that I could just go into my room for a moment and close my eyes or cry or laugh, or laugh and cry at the same time which has happened as well.

Today I got on a Facebook live hosted by my dear friend Cecelia Falls who shared tips, exercises and resources for people dealing with anxiety at this unprecedented, scary, and deeply destabilizing time. It was so wonderful just to see Cece’s face and I’ve always found her voice to be very calming.  I came away feeling inspired to write short gratitude list of things that made me feel good and smile today.

Face-Timing with a co-worker who is not on my team

Just shooting the shit with a co-worker pal who is marginally involved in my work was such a relief! It was so good to see her face in real time. I’ve only been in contact with the people on my immediate team for the past two weeks and that’s been a lot. As laid back as you would think working from home would be, I’m still very aware of the the way tension shapes my body when I’m talking with people I have to have my guard up around, people I don’t feel I can fully trust. When I talked with this co-worker, someone I haven’t even know for very long, I just felt like I could let down about two layers. It was just refreshing to let myself breath in a conversation that wasn’t about updates and data entry and trouble shooting and…you get the drift.

My Husband

My husband, already quite the germaphobe is on really high alert right now. I have resist the urge not to shout “OKAAAAY DAD!” at him on the daily. I have to keep reminding myself that even if I sometimes feel like he’s doing the most he’s just trying to protect me and everyone he loves in the best way he can. And at a time like this, too much is never enough. He loves me. He’s not trying to control me. The difference can sometimes be hard to discern for many of us, for a myriad of reasons that we need to unlearn immediately.

Music/Dancing: A DJ Really Can Save Your Life

I don’t need an excuse to dance even to music I haven’t selected or curated. I dance to the music that plays during the video games my husband plays in the evening. They’re usually sports,  and they play some of the best rap, dance hip hop tracks and I’m always just bopping around to that unconsciously. The now infamous IG Live DJ set by D-Nice has been an amazing way to get loose and dance to amazingly beautifully curated set list of R&B and hip hop classics old recent. Quest Love’s IG Live afterparty was also legendary. And I’m sure many other DJs are going live for as long as it takes.  This also signals my body to relax again, that it’s okay to feel safe again.

My Cat

I stare at my cat a lot. I mean I play with my cat a lot, pick him up a lot, kiss him a lot, snuggle him and pet him a lot. But I also stare at him a lot. I watch him, watching life. I watch him engaging with life, the things he pays attention to, the way he behaves when he’s on alert, when he feels tense, what makes him feel comfortable, what makes him feel safe. I never get tired of watching him sleep at the foot of our bed throughout the day. I wonder if he has a clue of how therapeutic (though a big pain on occasion, ie every morning around 5am) he is for both me and my husband. We both go to him to hold him, pet him, scratch under his chin, ease his tension or just watch him sleep and in turn it makes us feel more calm, less tense, less angry and less self fixated in general. Here is this creature curled up in an endless series of sleep shapes, trusting and vulnerable, aware of our presence and just as tolerant of what may seem like our strange behavior to him. He’s okay. We’re taking care of him. We’re okay. We’re taking care of each other.

 

 

Sunday at The Guggenheim

Revoke my New Yorker card if you wanna but it’s taken me years to realize that the M3 from Harlem goes to the Guggenheim museum in almost 20 minutes! I discovered it this weekend and now I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m a bit of a Museum nerd and it kills me when there’s a show I wanna see on the East side and all I think about is all kinds of soul sucking train line switching I have to do in order to get there. The M3 route takes me through memory lane passed Central Park East and and my High School and finally on the upper East Side where I went on first dates, saw movies, hung out at HMV (remember HMV?) and tried to catch transportation home on school day evenings before my pass expired. I love this line.

Simone Leigh

This weekend, Simone Yvette Leigh’s “Loophole of Retreat” brought me to the Guggenheim, not one of my favorite Museum spaces but for some reason, it was more than tolerable this time. I always love seeing The Guggenheim from the outside but something about walking around an incline in circles without ever knowing what floor you’re on irks me. Still, when I saw one of Leigh’s pieces on a subway ad months ago I was just viscerally struck by the power of it, the Blackness and the femininity. I finally read more about Simone Yvette Leigh and her work a few weeks ago. I visited her “Brickhouse” sculpture on the Highline and have since just been fascinated and obsessed with being close to her pieces.

Continue reading Sunday at The Guggenheim

Now Accepting Cash/Experience Gifts

I found very important the idea of the body passing through space, and the body’s movement not being predicated totally on image or sight or optical awareness, but on physical awareness in relation to space, place, time, movement.

-Richard Serra

This Memorial Day weekend, I celebrated my birthday by taking a day trip to Dia Beacon Art Center in Hudson Valley with a dear friend and co-worker, another fellow Gemini whose birthday is this month as well. What I looked forward to seeing most was an installation by Richard Serra called “Band” which I saw in the Social Media feed of a friend of mine a few years ago.

Dia Beacon is not like a traditional museum per say. It’s really built for large scale installation pieces, several of them inviting viewer interaction and participation. All of this is exciting to me. It checks all my sensory, discovery and sense of play boxes. My appreciation of abstract and modern art has expanded over time. I don’t try to understand anything intellectually at first. I just tap into whatever feeling a work gives me and go from there. I felt Richard Serra’s sculpture immediately. I felt it all those years ago seeing it in a friends IG feed. I never forgot it. It’s funny sometimes, the things we silently file away in our minds. Things we never mention or talk about that pop up years later as opportunities to engage, unfold and make connections.

You can find a description of the “Band” anywhere online. What’s harder to put into words for me is the feeling of entering, approaching and taking in these mammoth cylindrical iron structures. For me, it was dark in nature (but not in the stereotypical negative way usually connoted by darkness), immensely soothing, calming, harmonious and just filled with an intense kind of presence I can’t put my finger on. I loved it.

Me in a Serra

There were other pieces I liked there as well but Serra’s was my absolute favorite. It surpassed my expectations and I was so glad we went out there to see it and just hang out and talk, laugh break bread and enjoy the silence and nature. Even the train ride there with my GemBae was a fun adventure. It was so refreshing to get out of the often draining confines of our work environment and enjoy each other’s company in a  space that inspired a different kind of contemplation, introspection and exchange.

For the last 5 or so years I’ve been drawing a blank when it comes to thinking about what I want for my birthday. Objects and material gifts, though I would never refuse them, are not really my thing  anymore. This weekend made me realize that what I really want are experiences. Experiences that challenge, inspire and sharpen with people I love and enjoy being around. I want more of that.

And cash. LOL! Cash gifts are always good.

Sunday Morning in Bed with Two Geminis

kanyepaul

“I know you’re happy, cause I can see it

So tell the voice inside your head to believe it.”

Yesterday, one of my friends posted the story about Kanye fans not knowing who Kanye West is. I didn’t bother to read it but I thought my friends’ own written byline, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” Was hilarious.

This morning I discovered by chance that the story was the result of a song the two recently collaborated on together. I went to my itunes app just to see what was new and saw a photo of Kanye and McCartney representing a new single, “Only One.” I had a happy flip out, listened to a sample and then bought it.

I knew nothing about the song but I knew it was sung from the spirit of his mother the minute he began to sing. She is his heart. Tears came to my eyes as I listened and felt every word coming from a divine place. Later on, reading that his daughter was sitting on his lap when the words came to him was just the most incredible way to start off a rainy Sunday in a new apartment I could think of. Especially after talking with my own mother, an incredible woman I love, for hours last night.

So much about this collaboration is huge. The generosity of a music giant to fall back and support this Black Genius while he channels the spirit if his beloved mother while his beloved baby daughter sits on his lap. It’s just…beyond. The amount of trust that requires is just so deeply moving to me, so fragile and strong at the same time. Okay, I’m getting emotional again. Like I’m just overwhelmed with feelings I cannot put into words here which means that I might have to get a bit abstract and write a poem about it over on eternalista.

This is what I love about music! Its ability to mend, to build, to bring together, to heal and to channel the divine is just…hope giving. It’s magical, spiritual, miraculous and political all at once!

Geminis like to have their fingers in a lot of pots at the same time. As a typical Gemini sun, Gemini rising, I know this first hand. Sometimes it wears us thin and fizzles out, and sometimes it produces something unforgettable. But I’m starting to learn that what’s important is focusing on the process living a creative life, if you so choose and not the outcome. Dedication to the process ensures the outcome will always be what it should. Success has a multitude of faces.

Kanye and his mother are still together, still collaborating all the time. He’s always felt this. I feel it as well. Kanye’s fearless sharing through art is always an inspiration.