on refuge + resistance | reclaiming king’s dream

3 Jewels Yoga

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We begin this historic week with the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the National Day of Racial Healing as we trudge toward the final day that our country’s first Black president, Barack Obama, will stand as head of state. Fueled and aflame, with our hearts and minds resting on justice, liberation and healing, we take refuge in the good works, legacy, and words of wisdom from emissaries of light.

In intimate circles, we draw closer, lean into, speak truths and listen deeply to one another — resisting the temptation to be pulled under by despair, fear, hate, and hopeless.  En masse, we gather, convene, rally, and march — using our voices and bodies to resist the normalization of this new swell of injustice and violence that seeks to impoverish, divide, and oppress us. Wherever we are, we reclaim the integrity of King’s vision: to stand firmly…

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bodhicitta bookshelf | holy-day lessons

Nixing Xmas

Long before I began studying the dharma, Christmas had lost its tinsely-sparkle. My interest and effort to participate waned as I became increasingly disheartened by the conflation of generosity with consumerism, of Jesus with Santa, of prayers with wish lists. Wedged between this fall’s incendiary election and the new year’s looming inauguration, these typically family-oriented holidays became the fallout zone of politically-endorsed hate and division that seemed only to escalate distortions of faith.  It further illuminated the problematic ideology of Christmas and its pervasive cultural narratives, which whitewash holidays in a Hallmark hue and subsequently generate carols of racist backlash that seeks to stake exclusive, rage-filled claim to the icons of comfort, joy, and holly-jolly cheer.

Letting go of Christmas has not only been a process of minimizing my participation in the “fanfare and frippery” of festivities for which I feel no personal connection. More than that, it has been a proclamation of both my commitment to center and uplift practices that make space for inclusive, inter-cultural understanding and my resistance to engaging in toxic cultural customs. Rather than occupying space as a mere bystander at a holiday gathering, I would prefer to cultivate “the enchantment” of the season through activities that bolster a lasting sense of goodwill, gratitude, and kinship with our community.

Celebrating the Simple + Sweet

We’re a keep-life-simple-and-sweet kind of family in general and are just as vigilant in applying that rule to holidays (and birthdays). Our son has reached the age where he’s aware that our way of doing things doesn’t necessarily look the way that other families do things. When he makes observations to that point, we explain how our values/preferences are reflected in these choices. If met with a request to make adjustments, we often brainstorm fresh ways to expand our perspective and integrate his ideas.

For instance: When K commented that we never put up a tree and lights, I told him that his dad and I weren’t interested in accumulating seasonal knickknacks. Instead, I offered to help him decorate his room. Then…we watched the Just Christmas Baby episode of black-ish, and he adamantly quashed my suggestion! (So glad to have dodged that.) Decorations aside, we may watch a few holiday movies and listen to songs. But we’re far more likely to get enthused about having enough snowfall to go sledding than we do for unwrapping gifts.

Of course, K loves gifts as much as any kid and gleefully receives them from family members under the auspices of Christmas. But we’ve explained to him that we simply don’t make a big deal out of getting gifts that we can otherwise purchase on any given day (though my husband will take advantage of the sales season for things we’ve already had in mind for the household). And, like most parents, we hope our child will have a healthy appreciation for material possessions balanced with a practice of generosity, a commitment to simplicity, and (the struggle of all struggles) a capacity to let go of things that are no longer useful.

The question always is how to embody and integrate those values in our daily experiences; and, during special times of the year, how to creatively channel the energy of the holidays to bolster what’s most important to us.

New Rituals + Renewed Hope

K’s old enough to sincerely comprehend how and why we put these values into action. So we enjoyed a “giving back” family outing — crafting cards, drawing pictures, and donating food for holiday baskets that a local non-profit organization delivered to those in need. While this was not the first service project we’ve participated in, it was the first one connected to the holidays. And, it was truly heart-warming to know that we could add a little more light to someone else’s celebration.

However, on a deeply personal level, the holidays remained lackluster for me. Drawing on my son’s enthusiasm and curiosity, I reflected on my own heritage for a spark of inspiration. My matrilineal family is of Jewish ancestry, but the cultural and religious practices did not survive the three generations of intermarriage and border crossings that would produce such multi-ethnic, multicultural, multinational descendants of a matriarch who left Germany as a teen in 1880. So, unsurprisingly, Hanukkah was not at all a part of my family’s tradition. As for Kwanzaa, I have only vague memories of my mother wanting us to celebrate it when I was in junior high. It’s very likely that my siblings and I groaned and begrudgingly allowed her to drag us to a public event once. But we never adopted it in our home.

To see these traditions with fresh eyes and to show K that there are other ways to honor this season, we read books about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Both uplift principles can be integrated into lessons beyond what are intended to be these holy days of reflection on endings, beginnings, transformation, rebirth, renewal, and spiritual fortitude.

Holy HanuKwanzakah

Hanukkah Moon illuminates the lesser-told Sephardic Jewish traditions as it focuses on a special evening that a young girl spends with her aunt, who has recently moved from Mexico. They sing the Dreidel Song  in English and Spanish, hang a dreidel-shaped pinata, and celebrate the luna nueva (new moon) at Hanukkah in which the faith of women in ancient story is highlighted (Rosh Hodesh). In her “author’s note” and glossary, da Costa provides a brief explanation of the settlement of Jews in Latin America as well as the significance of Hanukkah as the celebration of re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

My First Kwanzaa is a primer on the seven-day celebration of pan-African cultural pride that is now in its 50th year. Though it is not a religious alternative to Christmas, Kwanzaa prayers have been written and incorporated into faith-based services.

Written from the perspective of a little girl who is experiencing the festivities for the first time, Katz illustrates in bright bold splashes the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). Each concept is presented as a “special idea” matched with activities to honor each day. For example, on the third day, friends and family plant flowers in their neighborhood to demonstrate “working together,” a kid-friendly interpretation of ujima or collective work. (What didn’t quite translate well for me was the depiction of self-determination, wherein little girl asked her mother to braid her hair in a “fancy African way.” This principle could have been simplified as “making choices for ourselves” and the example strengthened by more clearly illustrating that little girl had been given the chance to choose her own hairstyle.) Like da Costa, Katz also includes a pronuniciation key for the corresponding Swahili word and an author’s note that explains the history and purpose of Kwanzaa.

However we ultimately decide to observe the holidays next December, these two books offered ideas that our family can lift up, reimagine, and put into practice all year round.


Follow your Curiosity:

A Brief History of Jews in Mexico
Kwanzaa 50 Years Later

dream tales

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Overhearing these two adorables wake up and tell each other what they dreamt about was the sweetest way to begin this final day of the year!

Until recently, my son couldn’t recall the details of his dreams beyond knowing if they had evoked scary feelings. So, being the archiving-curating-storyholding mama that I am, I was geeked when he launched into the wild Minecraft-esque adventure he dreamt back in October. He indulged my request to draw a story of it, which he called “The Disappearance of MJ.”

This morning, I could hear the kids rolling awake in their beds — sleepy voices brightening as they recalled dreamscapes filled with flowers big enough to sleep in, LEGO-built dinos and robots, and various characters and people from daylight activities superimposed onto a Jurassic World dimension.

More than being tickled by and capturing a cute moment, I hope to preserve and nurture the connection between these cousins — that they will continue to share their dreams whether seeded in heart, built by hand, or envisioned in slumber.

daily snuggle

This is as true for him at 6 as it was when he was 2: my lap is still the best seat in the house!

the empty seat at your table

my truth.

3 Jewels Yoga

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It’s astonishing that people are actually coming out of their faces to say that voters didn’t intend to cause harm or to condone violence when they elected a demagogue.

Please tell me what multiverse are you living in?

That man’s racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-disabled, anti-poor, anti-everybody-who-has-a-heart-for-what-is-just-and-equitable was not whispered behind closed doors and later leaked into the public sphere after folks were good-and-bamboozled by his charisma and hope-filled messages.

He was and continues to be endorsed, lauded, now flaunted and paraded by white supremacists with confederate flags, swastikas, and full KKK regalia.

The hate and violence that fueled the campaign has escalated since Tuesday.

His “win” has become a “license to lynch” — with numerous accounts of children, women, LGBTQ persons being physically attacked, taunted, harassed and threatened.

(I will not link those articles here. Instead, I encourage you to take good care of your mental/emotional well-being with your…

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embodying privilege + risk: the stakes is high

because it had to be told.

3 Jewels Yoga

Some folks may not quite understand why the stakes are so high for me and those I love.

I am aware of my privileges:

I am educated. I attended a private boarding school and a private university where I earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree.
I am a U.S-born person whose 1st language is English.
I am a cis-gendered heterosexual.
I am married.
I do not live with a disability.

I also embody a space where the targeted and marginalized aspects of my identity make me vulnerable to practices, policies, and dominant cultural beliefs that have denied or would attempt to block my humanity as well as my civil rights:

I am a Black Woman.

I am the daughter of an immigrant.
My father is from Trinidad. His family has roots throughout the Caribbean.

The great-granddaughter of immigrants.
My maternal great-grandparents were Canadian.

The great-great…

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who are these people?

It’s been so hard to get out of bed feeling like the biggest hate crime has just been committed as this country was overwhelmingly motivated to vote on the side of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, inhumanity and overall terror.

And still I move against the weight of this devastation and dread to attend the second day of a health equity and social justice workshop where I am observing and participating as a facilitator-in-training. Trying to conjure a lasting remedy for the heartache, anger, mistrust…I am literally sick to my stomach and only managing to smile because of the joy my child exudes.

lil bodhicitta

My little guy has become a more eager reader in recent weeks and, as he prepared his own lunch, pointed to his juice pouch and asked if it read “Heart Kids.” When I explained that it was honest, he surprised me by stating, oh-so-matter-of-factly, that it was basically another way of saying heart. And so my heart sighed, as I marvelled at his ability to see into and then extrapolate the meaning of one word toward another that we adults (it is hoped) come to learn are bound up in each other. It takes heart to be honest; and, when we commit to practicing being honest, we are living intentionally from the heart.

We’ve not discussed the definition of either word as part of a formal lesson on reading or spelling. So this moment was a wonderful reflection of the priority we place on modeling our values! We have demonstrated and openly discussed what honesty, heart, and their “offshoots”–kindness, love, fairness, forgiveness, patience–look and feel like. So now he is learning to identify it, even on a juice pouch. Proud mommy moment!

I told him that I love learning along with him because I like the way he thinks. Then my darling boy told me that he loves learning from me because I know everything. I am always honest and remind that I don’t have all the answers. But on this homeschooling journey, I am guiding us toward that which cultivates bodhicitta, the heart and mind of love.

art + silliness!

words to live by | mushim patricia ikeda

As the saying goes, you can’t serve from an empty cup! So I’ve taken the #VowNotToBurnOut and am sending all of you self-sacrificing parents, caregivers, and nurturers the energy and support to do the same.

“Burnout and self-sacrifice, the paradigm of the lone hero who takes nothing for herself and gives everything to others, injure all of us who are trying to bring the dharma into everyday lay life through communities of transformative well-being, where the exchange of self for other is re-envisioned as the care of self in service to the community.”
~ Mushim Patricia Ikeda

3 Jewels Yoga

Great Vow for Mindful Activists

Aware of suffering and injustice,
I,
[tara scott], am working to create
a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
I promise, for the benefit of all,
to practice self-care, mindfulness, healing, and joy.
I vow to not burn out.

Burnout and self-sacrifice, the paradigm of the lone hero who takes nothing for herself and gives everything to others, injure all of us who are trying to bring the dharma into everyday lay life through communities of transformative well-being, where the exchange of self for other is re-envisioned as the care of self in service to the community. The longer we live, the healthier we are; the happier we feel, the more we can gain the experience and wisdom needed to contribute toward a collective reimagining of relationships, education, work, and play.

~Mushim Patricia Ikeda
I Vow Not To Burn Out via Lion’s Roar
related…

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mellowed-out mondays

tear down the walls and cast away chairs…let the world become your classroom! happy monday, y’all!

woman horizontal | the sound of him

all that motherhood inspires…

3 Jewels Yoga

he wakes whistling, thrilled by the zipping wind
he conjures and reshapes into sharps and flats

snaps a crisp unpatterned rhythm
with supple-skinned thumb and middle finger
(wiped dry between refrains)
flickering his wrist for triumphant emphasis

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mutters a play-by-play commentary
to an imagined audience of rapt gamers
punctuated with shrieks, chides, wails and groans

jigs an exuberant popiscle-sugared dance
wagging his pineapple-cherry coated tongue
shuffling feet,
flexing knees,
scuttling erratically to a giggle-inflected beat
oh! mustn’t leave out the slapping bum finale and encore

drills up and down 14 stairs,
thunderous heel-stomping laps
and cushioned drop-and-rolls,
parkouring over and around the furniture
a streak of joy unleashed

bumps and bangs precede whimpers and squealed tears
beckoning empathetic triage,
strokes of comfort and mild caution to remember,
in all this play, that his body is growing and does not yet know
the new dimensions marking where it ends and external…

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homeschoolers be like

Life Skills 101: Tent, Nap + Snacks…Whew! What a rough week. So glad it’s over.

 

On “Revolutionary Mothering” | The Laura Flanders Show

In this, my 6th year of motherhood, I am celebrating my power to radically design a life for my child that does not conform to anyone else’s standards or conventions. I am crafting a life that resists the call to pass on legacies of unexamined dysfunction and empty rituals embedded in played-out cultural traditions shaped and sullied by the whims of industry, technology, politics and religion. Shrugged off and unquestioned… because, well, it’s always been done that way.

Long before I imagined myself a parent, I stood in line at a roti shop on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn and chewed on the island wisdom I overheard from an elder:

Yuh doh raise chil’run. Yuh raise cattle and corn. Yuh teach chil’run an lead ’em…

I recall nothing else about that moment — what sparked his statement, who he was speaking to (if anyone at all…because in my experience with my West Indian fam, elders have no problem schoolin whomever’s in earshot), or if anyone had a response. I just know that it utterly surprised me when I would have easily expected the more archaic “spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child” mindset from a man of his generation!

He planted a beautiful seed that summer day in 2002; an heirloom aspiration that germinated for years until it sprouted and blossomed with the birth of nieces, nephews and my own son.

Honor their humanity. Give them the freedom to experience childhood in all its soft, fluffy, bright, silly, sweet and tender possibilities. Grant them vocal range — to be powerful, convicted, loud, quiet, bashful, brazen, kind, incomprehensible.

Gift them the capacity to see clearly, to call you out on your mistakes, to remind you to apologize, to offer you grace and forgiveness.

Resist the urge to fight, win, or dominate. Be stretched by the challenges they’ll throw down. Be touched by their magic to transform you. Grow up alongside them. Teach with compassion as you learn, unlearn, relearn. Learn as you teach, allowing love and respect to prevail.

That long-ago memory was conjured up by this powerful piece from Alexis Pauline Gumbs, which speaks my heart and truth:

“Mamas who unlearned domination by refusing to dominate their children.

Extended family and friends. Community care givers. Radical childcare collectives.

All of us, breaking cycles of abuse, by deciding what we want to replicate from the past, and what we urgently need to transform.

We are “M-othering”, mothering ourselves.”