Newsletter Poetry

celebrate with me

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” — AA Milne

won’t you celebrate with me
By Lucille Clifton
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

I love this poem … thought I might share it with you as part of our month exploring the theme of resilience.
Don’t we all have that thing that we were born which makes us different? I didn’t have models for queerness, for butchness, for non-binary expressions, for sacred intimacy, for kinky topping and play. I too had no model. And I love this question: “What did I see to be except myself?” Would that I could have that kind of resilience.
I love the idea of celebrating this survival. Celebrating our resilience. Things do come after us, daily — the microagressions, the racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, prejudice — and we don’t have to survive it. Not all of us do. But hey, I’m writing to you here today, and we have. You and I have both survived it. Not only that, but here we are, ourselves.
Celebrations all around!


I’ll bury my nut my own way.

November’s theme is all about resilience. Think of those squirrels burying their nuts in the ground in preparation for the coming winter*.
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking of resilience not in the sense of planning ahead or bouncing back, all in an effort to avoid or get out of discomfort. Instead, I’ve been thinking about resilience as the capacity to stay in discomfort and to find inspiration in that friction.
Alex and I had long conversations about this very topic during the Wonder Body Connection Tour. Perhaps this comes from my New England Puritanical roots but, as we discussed the “healing power of pleasure,” some part of me resisted that concept, hearing in “pleasure” the concept of hedonism, at worst, or pacification, at best.
When I think of resilience, I want to push towards something else. I want to, at worst, develop the capacity to stand in the discomfort and, at best, have the courage take action even when discomfort still exists.
Many years ago, I remember standing on a high log element of a ropes course (yes, a real log stretched between two trees, 40′ up in the air, but me on belay with rope and harness—in other words, real fear but not real danger). My legs were shaking so much I could hardly move. I waited, thinking eventually they would stop and then I could dance with grace across the log. But they didn’t stop. They continued to vibrate like a sewing machine. Finally I realized that I would have to find a way to move *with* the shaking, instead of waiting (hoping?) for it to stop. And so I took that first step—awkwardly and without grace—and then another, until I found myself mid-log, suddenly clear that comfort is not a prerequisite to action.
This concept was re-inspired for me recently at the National Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta where an amazing experiential exhibit allowed me to viscerally imagine what it might have been like to sit poised and determined at the lunch counter protests, even in the midst of screams and threats. Would I have had that type of courage?
And so I wonder, how do we cultivate the capacity to stay embodied, aware, grounded, and focused, even as our legs are shaking? What’s your relationship to resilience, pleasure, and fortitude?
— Amy
* Just in case, I searched for youtube videos on the subject and found this silly one.


Recipe for Hunkering Down on These Fall Days

Lizz is off this week but I miss her and so I can feel the impulse to channel something that is about food and nurturance.
With fall closing in, and with all the natural (and man-made) disasters swirling around the globe, it seems a good time for an anchoring stew, something that might tether me to the present. Therefore, I offer you Brazilian Black Bean Vegetarian Stew, courtesy of Vegetarian Times . Yum!
— Amy
Brazilian Black Bean Stew
6 servings
30 minutes or fewer
Here’s a quick vegetarian version of the Brazilian national dish known as feijoada. This stew entices the eye with the colorful contrast of black beans and sweet potatoes and pleases the palate with nourishing ingredients.
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 to 1 ¼ lbs.), peeled and diced small (1/4″)
1 large red bell pepper, diced
14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small hot green chili pepper, or more to taste, minced
1 1/2 water or less (try 1 1/4 next time)
2 16-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe mango, pitted, peeled and diced or Frozen OK too
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ tsp. salt
Meal plan:
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is golden, about 3 minutes.
Stir in sweet potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes (with liquid), chili and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in beans and simmer gently, uncovered, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in mango and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in cilantro and salt. Serve hot.


Falling into Gratitude

Amy contemplates fall foliage

One thing I miss about living in New England is the fall colors. Luckily, I got my fix on a recent trip back east and this beautiful fall sampler is of my time in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
From a purely scientific standpoint, this display of colors comes from nothing more than the reduction of chlorophyll in the leaves, revealing the underlying pigments that have been there all along. It’s a sign of the end of growing season. But from an imaginal standpoint, these trees are so much more. This year, their flamboyance spoke to me of fortitude in the face of loss, of celebration even at the last hurrah, and their vulnerable boldness said, “Look! Right here, right now, there is still so much joy to be had! Don’t be afraid.” Like big old red-lipsticked drag queens, their flamboyance gives me courage.
What are the fall leaves saying to you?