Sisters Walking into the Lion’s Mouth

Stories about the Dakota Access Pipeline have been troubling my heart for some time now – this story by Victory Lonnquist especially moved me, brought me to tears, touched me on so many levels. Maybe it’s the moon, or my moon – or that water, the earth, women – are so powerful and yet, so repressed that we forget the power.

And of course, what’s happening in North Dakota right now is absolutely horrifying – and a huge civil rights travesty – not to mention an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Here’s Victory’s story:

prayers-at-the-frontline

Women Praying at the Frontline – photographer unknown

Today I joined Starhawk and other women in a prayerful walk to the front lines. We held each other arm in arm, hundreds of us, bundled in jackets, wearing long skirts to show respect for prayer camp, silent. Absolutely silent.

We walked from Sicangu/Rosebud along 1806 to Oceti Sakowin, to the Seven Fire Council. Faith Spotted Eagle wanted to talk to the native woman leading us. She was concerned about us going to the bridge. There were questions on who gave blessing for this action. I heard Dallas’s name. The men murmured, increasingly agitated. I was concerned. Arvol had just said – no actions without the blessings of the elders. I have deep respect for this protocol.

One of the men started saying we needed to go back. The native woman in lead banged her drum in front of them and motioned us on. We started walking, hundreds of women.

I told the sister I was walking with I was concerned. It didn’t feel right, going forward without the blessings of those elders. I stepped away from the front. She joined me. “What elders? ” she said. “There are many elders. A native elder is leading us. ” This is why we are walking! Because too many times women are stopped, our power oppressed.” I nodded, and fell in with sisters who opened their arms with a smile, and walked ahead, trying to understand and feel all of this out.

strength-card

The Strength tarot card symbolizes inner-strength and determination to overcome obstacles, and self-knowledge and self-discipline, as only when we know ourselves and act in a responsible manner will we be able to deal effectively with challenging situations and overcome our difficulties successfully. Yet this card does not only represent physical strength – moral and emotional strength are included in the meaning. {Tarot del Imaginario – LA FORZA}

We neared the bridge, and I could feel the heaviness of the energy, the warning of danger. “What am I doing here? ” I thought. “I’m walking into the lion’s open mouth! ” Yet I would not leave my sisters.

The last time I was here, I was treating water protectors at night, dropping around me like flies. It was a place of violence and war by the police. Now, it was day. It was quiet. We came softly.

Men met us at the bridge, some stern. Male security guards that had made a line to stop us. Some telling us not to go forward. The native woman at lead banged her drum. Some of the women cried “Men! Do not tell the women what to do! ” Some pushed against the men. Some men were aggressive and dominating. A native elder (female) next to me muttered ” Why are they policing us? We have enough police here. ” Some women yelled “Men! Let us through! Stop blocking us! ” Some men looked helpless yet resisted. One of the men said “We are trying to protect you! “

I became aware that this struggle was the mirror of the world.

The women who are tired of men speaking for us. The women who want to walk peacefully without men telling us where to go or what to do. The men, who think they may be helping us, but are still oppressing us. The men who genuinely wish to help. The men, some of whom are learning themselves how to be. We are all learning how to be.

In the end, the men stopped us. A small group of elders were allowed through, which was good. They prayed there at the front lines with the police. We women sat down, kneeled, silently, as the female elders walked to the razor wire, as police with guns and large militarized vehicles looked on, fingers on triggers. The women looked so small against the large fence and weapons just on the other side.

They held ceremony. They smudged. They went to the river and prayed. Quietly we looked on, sage and copal smoke floating around us, only the sound of our “Mni Wiconi, Water is life” flags billowing in the wind.

When it was over, we walked back, silently. Hundreds of women, arm in arm, returning to camp united, in prayer.

Fear, Love, Gratitude and the Election

Letter I wrote the day after the election. 

Hi,

I don’t know what’s going to happen – and that is a scary feeling. Currently, it feels like all is lost – my spirit feels like it’s trying to jump out of my body – but the pit in my stomach is keeping it tied down. This morning, last night, I was struggling to find coming from a core place of love. I have to try. I have to do it – because coming from a place of fear is too hard.

I acknowledge that I am afraid, I acknowledge that fear makes me feel separate and that feeling of separation is anxiety-inducing, I acknowledge that I am sad. I acknowledge that there is an awful pit in my stomach. I acknowledge that I am deeply disappointed. I acknowledge that I feel incredibly vulnerable.

I also acknowledge that I love my life and I love this planet and I love making art and doing yoga and riding my bike and reading good books and writing stories and making love. I love the mountains and the air. I love the time we have had together so far.
i-am-the-change_chip-thomas-street-art-holly-troy-10-2016

Street Art by Chip Thomas aka Jetsonorama

I acknowledge that I have the right to be here and to live in joy.

I hope that my visit with Leslie tonight will be helpful – making plans to create – creating, is very helpful, has always been helpful.
I prefer that my friends are peaceful and loving. I am grateful that my friends are peaceful and loving. I acknowledge that we are all feeling some form of fear/disappointment/anger.
It’s going to take a little bit of work, and it’s worth it. I want to feel safe and loved and joyful and valued even with all of this insanity – the misogyny, bigotry, sexism, racism, climate change – that our country seems to be ok with. Steps I can take now:
– renew my passport now before Trump takes office (it expires in August 2017)
– remember I am love: check in, check in, check in with myself
– give love
– have gratitude

My friend Merk has a good plan she shared today. I found it helpful.

From Merk:

Friends, I just posted this on my business page and I think it’s worthwhile to share here as well:

Many people are suffering today under the weight of overwhelming negativity. In my own household, I woke to two highly sensitive teens who are taking on emotions that are compounded by others in their sphere.

In a community of compassionate people who seek to make their lives better, I know that there are many people here who feel as if hate and injustice have been given the upper hand, and are searching today for ways to feel better.

I’d like to help you with some techniques to bring your center back to a place of love. Because love is the way through. It is always the way through, as it is the greatest force in the Universe.

1) List as many things as you can think of that you are thankful for. Take some time to feed your brain and your nervous system with positivity. We all have much to be thankful for in this moment and our focus needs to be there. Go back to this list and this activity as often as necessary over the next week, but certainly do it at least once a day.

2) Be generous. Try to give a small gift to someone each day for the next week. It doesn’t need to cost much at all, but go out of your way to help make someone else smile.

3) Write one thank you card each day for a week. Imagine how good the recipient will feel when they receive it as you are writing it.

4) Clean out a drawer, cupboard, closet or room. Clear through things that no longer serve you and are stagnant in your life and release them by donating them to a worthwhile organization. Create flow and usefulness in your space.

5) Meditate. I can’t stress this enough. Find your center and let love and compassion flow through you so that it can be the filter through which you see life around you.

When our focus is on love and compassion, we can see what possibilities and opportunities exist around us. When we see life through fear, we block that ability and halt any progress that we otherwise would have made.

And if you are already feeling great, and not negatively affected by the news in the world, please have compassion over others who are experiencing fear.

Take a moment right now to feel the love that I have for each and every one of you. Accept it into your heart and pass it along.

With gratitude for a community of beautiful souls,
Merk

Shine a light on your fear

Fellow Jersey-girl Marie Forleo has some great advice about dealing with criticism.

She says:

  1. Everything that you love is disliked by somebody.
  2. It’s a whole lot easier to critique a thing, than to make a thing.
  3. Do not give anyone the power to make you feel worthless.

Watch the video on a great technique for vanquishing your own inner-critic.

I took a short break from painting since the Matter(s) Collective Mama Terra opening at b.e. yoga about a week or so ago. I’ve lately had a lot of visitors passing through – which means I’ve been needing to catch up on rest. Picked up my work yesterday – and it feels great. (pic of me in my studio from last fall)

me in the studio © 2015 Holly Troy

Constantly juggling work, cycling, and creating. Sometimes you just need to stop and look around. I took a break to see this a few nights ago.

sunset from the studio © 5:13:15 Holly Troy

Baby steps on the next piece – an hour or so of work here and there after 9 hours a day at my day job is what I can do right now. So glad I took the time to get this going – Monday night Magic.

showin my work © 5:15:16 Holly Troy

Have a beautiful day! And don’t let the critics get ya down – let yourself shine!

 

 

The (R)Evolution Will Not Be Televised

Get out there. Talk to your neighbors. See what’s going on. Talk about stuff that matters to you. Really matters. What’s going on in your heart? Do you know? Can you speak it?

Make something. Make some art. Plant a garden. Plant a seed. What do you wanna grow?

How are your relationships? What’s happening in your community? Your city? Your country? The world?

Look around you. What’s going on?


The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gill Scott-Heron

Thank you, Young Turks.

do it, be it, live it with love

I needed to see this today, and I can bet I am not alone.

Excerpt from the film, Angel-A, written and directed by Luc Besson.

My friend Bradley Olsen shared the video. He is a beautiful writer as well as a psychotherapist with a “particular interest in Jungian Analytical Psychology and Mythological Studies“. He wrote: This is what’s missing in our culture right now; genuine, deep, frightening, painful, vulnerable love. Love of others and of self. I’m afraid we’ve mistaken narcissism and inflated egos for genuine love. What a lovely film clip.

Our culture is in a sad state. A boy died at the university where I work yesterday. He was shot and killed by another boy. I wrote this to a friend: At first when I heard the news I went into a spin about how kids are being turned into numbers/consumers who are taught how to be automatons trained to produce and consume in a disconnected world rather than human beings who are [loving] creative critical thinkers – and how maybe that is why there is so much more violence on campuses (and in general in this country).

This disconnect really comes down to love. It is this simple beautiful thing that is taught out of us, starved, beaten, bankrupted, neglected, withheld, smothered, abused, sexualized, homogenized, marginalized, advertised, commercialized, trivialized, sterilized, dehumanized out of us.

We have to stop hiding it. We have to let love out so we can let love back in.

Giving and receiving love is our birthright.

Thanks so much for reading and viewing.

Have a beautiful, peaceful, love-filled day (and life)!

Holly

I took this photo a few weeks ago while visiting the spot where I spread my sister's ashes. I'd been feeling so much grief, so much weariness, so much loss over the last few months. Finally, I let the space embrace me. The trees, the grasses, the earth, the stones - and my sister's spirit, too - all there offering support. If you have no one to hug, hug a tree. Hug the earth.I took this photo a few weeks ago while visiting the spot where I spread my sister’s ashes. I’d been feeling so much grief, so much weariness, so much loss over the last few months. A lot of crying, a lot of cleansing tears.

Finally, I let the space embrace me. The trees, the grasses, the earth, the stones – and my sister’s spirit, too – all there offering support.

If you’ve got no one to hug, hug a tree. Hug the earth. A little love goes a long way.

Sister/Brother Giant 2015 – Engaging Expansion and Awareness in a Democracy at Risk

Occupy Tucson Sign (c) 2011 Holly TroyI did not go to Sister Giant this year – but it is an inspiring and amazing event that I would recommend to anyone who cares about the state of our planet.

Check out my post from my 2012 trip to Sister Giant:  Sustainable Politics through Love – thoughts on Sister Giant (part 1).

Love restores the bottom line, and not the other way around. ~Marianne Williamson

In notes from my experience at the 2012 Sister Giant, I wrote:

There were moments at Sister Giant where I was incredibly uplifted, and moments where I felt myself plummet to the depths of darkness as I relived how my own life has been affected by poverty and homelessness and fear and violence and sexism and racism and invisibility—and how I am not alone, not today nor in the history of our country! I also felt the relief of light shined on those dark aspects of our collective history, the “dirty little secrets” that are not secrets (sexism, racism, poverty, genocide, hunger, classism, etc.), by the voices of courageous women and men who are taking a stand for humanity—and calling all of us to do the same! I felt myself sweat and squirm, I laughed and cried, I felt the gravity of our collective and individual situations, and I experienced the capacity to love humanity and our potential to bear witness to our struggles and to be light for one another.

Our stories are powerful!

I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of the Sister Giant conference this year. I may post more about it – and also – continue to respond to my experience from a few years ago.

Marianne Williamson herself ran as an Independent for Congress in 2014. While she didn’t win the race, she still made an impact. Williamson says,

And the cause was always bigger than one woman winning one Congressional seat. I know many people who were part of the campaign, and supported it, are now doing amazing things to continue the work of peaceful revolutionary change. For myself, it’s time to create a new platform, harnessing the same conversation and in service to the same goal: political change in America aligned with the angels of our better nature. . . . This isn’t a time to whine. It’s a time to engage. For the cause of peace. For the cause of democracy. And for the cause of love.

Issues discussed at Sister Giant are:
Democracy at Risk
Mass Incarceration
Our Food Supply
The Economy
War and Peace

It is clear that our politics and our country are in crisis. We need to be engaged now, and not expect that common sense and compassion will prevail on their own. What small and not so small actions can you take to be involved in shaping your community and the world at large?

sometimes you are helpless

Humid

Breath is pulled from my lungs.
My throat goes hollow
every time a howling
fire truck wails down the street.

My throat goes hollow,
I could swallow those anxious faces peering
from the fire truck wailing down the street.
It would be safer in my mouth—

I could swallow those anxious faces peering,
despite (my) pounding temples and blurred time.
It would be safer in my mouth—
I could shout a warning.

In spite of pounding temples and blurred time,
every time there’s a howling
it’s a warning
that’s been pulled from my lungs.

* * * * *

Yesterday, when I read the news that there was a gas leak explosion in the neighborhood that was my home of twenty years, New York’s East Village, I gasped. Three buildings caught fire and collapsed. This bullet point in the Daily Mail headline haunts me: Nicholas Figueroa, 23, who was on a date at a sushi restaurant and Moises Lucon, who worked there, have been reported missing.

east village coffee shop (c) 2009 Holly TroyFire was one of my greatest fears when I lived in the city. There is nothing like the sinking feeling of walking home and seeing firetrucks on your block, or a friend’s block. How quickly fire can spread on those tenement buildings pressed up against one another.

Of course, fire is a big issue here as well. I’ve experienced two forest fires, and both times, have had friends whose homes came close to being swallowed up. Last year, when I first started dating my boyfriend, I helped him evacuate his home. The landscape was eerie and strangely beautiful, overcome with the haze of smoke and (not so) distant glow of fire.

I wrote the poem above in response to 9/11. After the attack, walking by a fire station was like walking through a pocket of sorrow – the weight of sadness in the air was palpable. So much loss. Whenever I’d see a firetruck, I was overwhelmed  by the faces of the men inside. Just, oh – I wish 9/11 never happened.