5 Lessons


It’s important for me to take moments of rest and distance from the intensities of living day to day. I have learned the necessity of replenishing my well and how crucial it is to seek to do this with the support of those who speak similar language of life and spirit with me, who walk the world with me in parallel paths of lightwork-purpose-sacred calling, and who seek to honor and uplift the living, creation, guides and the ancestors all around us. I take these moments to gather and reflect on learnings, to sit with my circles I have met and built with in my growing and ready them to be shared in prayer of words, action and creation. 


Last weekend, I exchanged in sacred sisterhood rooted in spirit, a tradition for Undas (Philippines Day of the Dead) I began last year when I gathered with sisters for ceremony of my first sacred Inking in Montreal. That trip was a definitive moment where I recognized sacred sisterhood surrounded my existence. This year on Undas my visit was to Toronto filled with light of ancestral spirit, sisterhood, children and elder wisdoms. 
I want to share 5 of these lessons that emerged to teach me and that I now carry as part of my deepest prayers, in this time in my life.
1) Create Boundaries So You Can Tend to Your Path And Listen Deeper
Our sister Maria who manages the Elder Lodge Dodem Kanonhsa'(Clan Lodge) in Toronto, Canada shared deep stories of her awakening, of her spiritual teachers and how she has recently been thrusted into her path through her dreamtime moving into her waking and her healing work presenting itself in a crisis of abundance. She has recently been feeling her power of holding healing, uniting, sacred spirit space and what her body has taught her in taking her time for her own healing. Pains, ailments, wounds persist when the healer does not re-member to heal themselves. She reflected on the ability to close the door (literally to her office) in moments of needing to rest, to say no with grace and to be at ease with doing only as much as her spirit can allow- which requires the deep listening. She taught the lesson of boundaries especially for those of us who do healing and guidance work and reminded us to take care of self when doing work with and for spirit. Not only can we replenish, but we can also process and reflect our relations and exchanges from spirit in a good way.


2) Surrender to Spirit, Accept Yoir Path and Trust Yourself
My sisters Aimee and Jen of Kapwa Collective and our Ojibwe sister Amy trusted me the facilitation of holding ceremony for Sacred Dance intimately and with deep intention to hold one another in a moment of exploration. It was in this circle that we all learned how Surrender, Acceptance and Trust allows for the deepest healing. We each explored our separate and similar needs when giving in to a moment of deep connection with our spirits in dance. We explored the idea of fighting with our spiritual callings in relation to our physical lives, denying ourselves truth of what is being imparted to us from our guides and ancestors. We explored the affirmation of “Yes” and what it means to express our deepest desires without apology, but instead with excitement and confidence. We explored what it is like to accept healing from others and seek their support and affirmation and deny the healer within us to be trusted, to be given the power to give to self. And we explored the dance and how when you follow your path, the signs, the symbols, the senses of your being- you arrive exactly where you are supposed to. All these lessons rooted in Surrender, Acceptance and Trust.


3) Adopt Family and You Will Never Be Alone 
I sat with my sister Jen in exchange with Elder Grandma Rene Thomas-Hill at Dodem, who shared with us beautiful lessons of living. I expressed her my lonely heart as she felt heaviness there for me. She spoke to me of my light and how it was important for me to be that light even in the darkest places and how when I allow for that to be that I will find the light of others who are shining the same, and it is our job to help others find that light and turn it on in them as well. She said that it was okay for me to be different, it is special and that it is a duty to shine. I expressed to her moments when I have felt people leave me because of my being myself in this way, the image of light shining in the darkness and people approaching the light I shine, but then disregarding it. She said we all have to come to this in our own time, many are not ready to be with the light of truth, of spirit. But the important thing is to seek connection with those who I can call family, that I will know who these people are. she said, When I am without a sister I can adopt a sister, when I need a mother I can seek a mother in community to hold me, when I need a grandma I can adopt a grandma. And that they are there for me as I am there for them. My sister Jen added the presence of my ancestors and guides as spirit family always with me. 


4) HEAL Others- HEAL Yourself
Another lesson from Grandma Rene was the lesson of Healing others and ourselves as an exchange. She particularly spoke of the relationship between man and woman and the need for us to Heal eachother and to remember we were made to balance one another, to be in duality and exchange with eachother as the creator made us, like our two hands, two eyes, two ears work in tandem. She spoke of the need for us to help our brothers our men to cry to release and she told us ways to support this, that the mere action of creating a fist transmits anger to our hearts. She told us to teach them and ourselves that the opening of our hands, the holding and uniting of our hands the use of our hands to caress the head, to hold the shoulder, to embrace, to give warmth, these all are important for man and woman to learn to heal each other. She also said that we have a responsibility to one another in this way of healing because there is so much to rise from everyday. She emphasized self care, to do things that would support of spirits to be well. She told us to practice patience as a daily learning and give ourselves the time and space to listen to the messages that will come to us on our journey to put them together to help us find Peace in our living. 


5) We All Belong
Ate B who is a visiting Elder from the Manobo Tribe in Mindanao spoke with me of the lesson in understanding the role we play in life, the duty we have been given to serve in a very specific and perfect way. She spoke to me the lessons as follows:

I cried to her

“WHAT AM I LIVING FOR?”

I am losing my mind.

This world does not support my

Sense of justice, 

Sense of belonging 

Sense of being
I’m doing the little I can

But somedays I see

How many want this life to persist

Or think that there is no other way 

Than to live with these constructs

That make so many suffer
She share morning saved me by sharing her stories to me as reminders (One story to share): She said she asked her own Elder in a moment of heartbreak by the world around her- “Apo-Why do we work so hard?

Why are we so poor?

He answered

“This Earth is big

and everyone was assigned to a certain place

And everyone has to take care of that place.
Even the birds

They can only live with certain trees

(The Creator) made them for the certain trees

We all have the same place

He made our skin

Our eyes

Our body

To protect our part of this Earth 

But the problem is that we are stealing from each other

We are small beings and we have to take care 

Of what is ours to take care of. 

You are blessed for every seed we plant.

When you care for a seed, 

you already care for so much.
Think of the corn with one seed

You have two stalks and each stalks bears 100 seeds
Too many people don’t see their blessings

Too many don’t know how abundant

with one corn seed you have 200 stalks of corn, 

and you are still not satisfied?” We have to celebrate

We celebrate when we plant

We celebrate when we harvest

We celebrate life.
She said-

“Without people like us

They will forget

It’s good we’re here

Because it can be passed down to our children.

And so you are doing good work, because 

You teach.

You teach them to take care of our world after us.” ———– I know its not going to be immediate

I know its going to be difficult

To live in this Now

That makes my heart break

Every

Day.

But I am here 

I will play my part

I will protect what I can

I will follow my purpose in my belonging 

And I will urge others to understand their belonging too

And celebrate it in deep prayer.

I have daydreams of letting go of all things, of this life. And I feel so crazy, I feel like my loved ones think I am crazy. I lose my friends, I lose companions and students because I believe what I do about this world not serving us- too deeply sometimes. I’m not trying to shame anyone in speaking my beliefs, or making them feel guilty, I want just to contribute my perspective to the ability to make change for the betterment of us all.
I know I cannot change these structures 

But can contribute to the changes necessary for our survival
I give thankful for those who continue to accept me and to support me and to love me, for who I am, for my beliefs and for my work.
Eating apples on a Monday Afternoon, exchanging in understandings of the world.
More comfort from my Elder. More love of lessons. More pray. 
She said:
“Many are worried about me

Because I have very little already

That I gave up so much

I sacrificed

Until I am in my bare minumum

And my community they worry for me

But I’m not worried

I believe I lived a good life
For the people

For the youth

I have been educating-

They are now at their right age 

And they are now the ones

You are doing the good work

In their communities
Whatever man has done to the Earth 

Will be paid back by man

We can’t help how people have destroyed the Earth 

We are passing anyway

The destiny of this Earth will be to pass

But we need to do our part as we are alive

To sustain
We have to be gentle to ourselves

We can only do what we can

We can only do so much

And we have to do it where we can be supported

To do that good work more

Accept that you cannot change

That you can only contribute to the change
Keep humble to your gifts

And keep speaking the way you do Jana 

You’re so young, but you’re so wise
You understand

Keep speaking your beliefs.

Your beliefs need to be heard 

To challenge the beliefs that many think they cannot change

That are the beliefs of those that do not care for the people

They do not care about the land

They do not care about the water.
This is a time of confusion.

Human beings are confused

By all the luxury

By the want for things that are rooted in vanity.

How will you make your life 

More useful to Many People.

You will.

Just share your belief.

Just share your prayer.”

I’m learning. Ever learning are all of us. And the deeper I learn with my spirit leading me, the more I am opened to all there is in life that is miracle and blessing in every moment. I am grateful for my sisters Jen and Aimee in Toronto who hold space for me, who support my rising, who see me, and accept me wholly as I am. I am humbled to hold space for them and lift them with my love and admiration in return. Many lessons to learn in future days together, I feel it, I know it and I am ever filled with gratitude.

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#IAmNotAfraid Curriculum For All Educators and Organizers, For Our Children (A Response to the Results of the US Presidential Election and Donald Trump)

I woke up this morning and got to work formulating how to begin the journey that I know we all will be taking in the next 2 months to prepare ourselves and our communities to make a change. Here is a Curricula I have prepared to raise up our students and staff at El Puente. Please feel free to use it, shift it, grow it.

This is also a great article for all of us to read and support us in our work today and moving forward with our youth: What Do We Tell Our Children? by Ali Michael (Teacher Educator)

Do not Fear and retreat to notions of helplessness and hopelessness

This is the time for courage and vigilance

Do not be divisive and create blame directed on those that need you more than ever to see them as brother and sister

This is the time for interconnection and unity

Do not be frozen in disbelief of truth that was always present- capitalism, racism, patriarchy and misogyny have always been foundations of this country

This is the time for action and movement

Do not give power to the power they believe they have over us- we have everything within ourselves and in our communities to enact true change starting with the everyday actions in your home, your neighborhoods and your schools that create revolution

This is the time to rise and resist

This is the time.

We are together,

JL

I Am Not Afraid Curriculum (A Response to the Results of the US Presidential Election and Donald Trump)

Activity #1: Breaking Down the Deeper Truths Revealed Beneath Fear

Check-In: (Chart the answers) In one word or phrase Name your initial reactions/feelings after you heard Donald Trump was voted the President Elect of the United States?

“It is important for us to process the truth about what it means for a Man like Donald Trump being selected to run our country. It is important to reflect deeply on how we as a community take on the truths and begin understanding that we, more than ever need to gather together powerfully and ready ourselves to stand up for the “Liberty and Justice of ALL”

Many of these feelings we had this morning are rooted in the presence of FEAR- and FEAR arises because there is a threat, there is something at risk, because we may lose something, because we feel we have no control, because we feel victimized.

What are the things that we FEAR most will happen with a man like Trump as President? (Chart this Also)

I want you to share some of what he has declared he will do or ways he has been threatening to our communities in his words and actions (i.e. Build a Wall to keep Mexican immigrants out, KKK affiliations, Saying he would grab women by the pu**y and other misogynistic declarations, etc.)

What are other Specific plights of our communities that will be affected by Trump’s initiatives he has declared he would implement with his presidency (i.e. The education system, housing and developments creating gentrification and displacement, construction by corporations destroying natural resources, mass incarceration)

This is not something to take lightly. This is not a moment to be complacent and go back to the lives we were living yesterday, this is a time when we have to begin looking at these issues at hand and understand more than ever how we as individuals and a community can stand up, and join the fight to stop them from worsening following the lead of a president who is openly and relentlessly racist-white supremacist, misogynist, homophobic, islamaphobic and ready to destroy any natural resource for capitalistic gain. We need to ready ourselves for the projected 4 years that our communities will have to fight for our rights, for our liberties and what already feels like for our LIVES.

We’re going to take a moment to breakdown the specific issues at hand

Small Groups: Students will be split into small groups of 6-8 to breakdown an issue that they feel most passionate about from what we listed. They will answer the following questions (give them theses questions and ask them to answer them in this order).-

  1. How does this issue affect you personally?
  2. What in US History supports this issue existing?
  3. What social and political structures (laws) hold this in place or contribute to this worsening? (I.e. Interconnected issues)
  4. What has been done so far to change this that you know of?
  5. What are questions you have that you feel you need answered to understand this issue deeper?

Return to Large Group: (Discussion)

These questions are ones that help us to crack the SURFACE of an issue, and we can deepen it and deepen it with intention. What did you all discover about the issue that you sought to tackle? What layers did you uncover? 

The beginning is the questioning, the action comes from deep understanding and aligning ourselves with others who feel passionate about the same issues as you. And following in this path and working in a way that you understand how valuable your voice, your actions, you movement to a movement, begins with how you orient yourself in your daily living. 

Throughout US history we have encountered these injustices and oppressions at extremes- genocide of Natives, Slavery, segregation, injustices around undocumented people’s, Black and Brown people being shot on the street, etc. But we have continued rising up.

Show demographics of voting highlighting the high rate of the 18-25 Year old bracket having voted for alternative or the Democratic Parties. Really have this graphic sink in, If the youth of the US were the ones to have voted in this president we would have had a very different morning of November 9, 2016. LET THEM KNOW HOW THEY ARE THE HOPE OF THE FUTURE.  

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Break Down The Electoral Vote vs. Popular Vote process- This is a Great 6 minute Video that Breaks it Down The Trouble with The Electoral College

It is important for you all to understand that we cannot see our power as a peoples ending at the Voting polls, people are already turning to one another in BLAME and divisiveness. We more than ever need to look to one another and unite. 

Your generation is our HOPE. We know that. Think about  some positive things that are advancements from your generation and the time we live in that make it easier for us to Unite? What are your generation’s capabilities and what they have shown of their ability to create a different world on the shoulders of your ancestors’ plight?

What are large people’s movements you have seen occur in the US and the World in the past couple of years and how are they still growing? 

  1. Start with Occupy Wall Street- A NYC Movement that Created a Ripple for Movements to Come, this action brought us the ability to understand the depth of our right to assembly, the first like this in NYC, and with such diversity in attendance. This is also when the police began to shift because of it, their tactics shift with the people’s power growing. Show them photos in this order and see if the can guess what movements they are:

tents_in_zuccotti_parkOccupy Wall Street Protestors March Down New York's Fifth AvenueOccupy Wall Street

2. Black Lives Matter (A Nation Wide Movement) Talk about how tactics from Occupy were used in BLM and how they grew deeper, how there was massive movements happening simultaneously in the country and how it rapid response to these movements grew and grew. It unfortunately, because of the amount of  killings of Black and Brown people becoming more and more visible became a norm for protest to happen, and thus brought us to a place where the police would also respond readily.

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3. Standing Rock (A Global Movement) All on our land of the United States. Really bring awareness of the connection to this and our Native Peoples and how the call has reached around the world because we are facing a united issue around our Natural Resources all over the WORLD. Talk about the tactics that are happening around encampments and Warrior fronts, where Peaceful Direct Action is the center of this movement. 

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What would it look like if all these movements stood up together all at once? Is that Possible? Why has it not happened yet? 

Share also the demographic of diversity in the US. And show them the class breakdown in the US and the disproportion of wealth. Guide them in seeing how many people do not benefit from Trump’s declarations of action for his Presidency- the connection across movements.

Discuss this as a collective- How is this landing with you? What is Coming up for you?

Activity #2: Value Charting

The students will be given a worksheet- with boxes breaking down parts of their life that will have them reflect on what makes them Valuable and Powerful and what support they have around them.

(See Attachment)

  • What are you  Talents?
  • What Survival Skills do you have?
  • What are the things you are most passionate about?
  • The most important lessons you have learned about humanity
  • People who you Love, that share your values, who you can Trust and turn to?
  • What are your wishes for Humanity
  • What are the parts of your personality that you feel are most powerful?

value-chart

Activity #3: I Am Not Afraid Declaration Freewrite

Using your Value Chart write a message to Donald Trump with the declaration- “I am NOT afraid…”

Have all participants share their pieces. Record some of the students speaking their statements and share on a video or have them post lines or their full declarations to #IAmNotAfraid

*Some sharings of students and staff at El Puente Williamsburg Leadership Center

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Processed with MOLDIV

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Declaration by El Puente Arts/Activist Facilitator Jana Lynne Umipig

“I am not afraid.

I am prepared.

I am equipped with so many powerful skills and gifts to give to the survival and empowerment of my family and community.

I’m also surrounded with some of the most brilliant organizers, teachers, healers, warriors and visionaries who I know are readying themselves beside me.

I am not afraid.

My ancestors and the creator put me here because I am meant to serve and to rise here. I know they got me.

And I got ya’ll

Relieve yourselves of fear and victimization

The veil is being uncovered more and more

And the illusion of the United States is lifted

For the whole world to see

This system was never ours

It was not our ancestors’

And was not the system of the ancestors of this very land

It was always the white mans’, the colonizers’

Now is the time

To look to each other

To rise

To teach

To speak up

To act

To resist

To ready

To ready

To ready

Look to one another

We are strong

We are intelligent

We are powerful

We have our ancestors, the land, the sky and the waters on OUR side

We are together.”

Closing: Next Steps

What is one thing you are taking away from today’s circle and what is something you are personally going to do to inspire or make change after leaving today?

Trump will not be Inaugurated until 2 months from now, what are some Actions or Events we could plan for youth and families in the next coming weeks? (If you want to flesh this out more as an Activity #4 you can  Use the El Puente Rapid Response Tool attached to help) 

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Reflection on This Time- The Now of October 2016 in the US

I wrote this status in July. I am standing firmly on my stance of how I am carrying myself through this moment in time, on this land that I am a settler to. I believe my ancestors have kept me here for a reason. To carry out my role in a good way.
I know how important it is, in this constructed world, to vote- policies and lawmaking counts, and also those laws are still and often broken and corrupted. I stand firmly in my own beliefs and actions that do not support this system. I am not investing my time and energy to tell folks to vote.
I am inviting community to tables and exchanges that ask us to envision and implement another way of living that is just as possible as this constructed existence. As I’ve grown, I have removed my attachments from having to invest in the creations of this living that do not serve all of us as valuable beings contributing to this world.
I’ve realized I’m willing to give up a lot to realize a world that I feel is worth living for, for all of us. I have given up so much already, and I also have gained tremendous peace of mind and heart. And have connected deeper in spirit because I understand that all of the things that I feel oppress me, are all constructions, that they were created by us as human beings, and maintained by illusions that have been reinforced by those they serve, which is very few. I do not want what they have to offer as the alternatives to my living based on money and false ideas of success and division of me and others.
All this to say, I am using my energy to build with folks who are ready to create something different, who are willing to risk the comforts of this constructed living, which are really not that comfortable at all for all of us. I’m ready to physically, mentally and spiritually stand up because I believe the time has come to do so- to fight for something different. That’s why I write my prayers, they are a reminder that we do not have to have the “truths” of this world be the only one that exists in us.
Voting, is not going to determine whether we are all going to be “okay.” The words, actions and ways of living you put forth as an individual and with your communities will- the way we raise our children to believe and to treat each other will, the way we uphold our elders in their teachings of wisdom will, the way we see the importance of protecting our lands, waters and sky will.
Those that are content with this world, that reap the most benefits from it, look to these determinants and believe deeply in the idea that this constructed world that upholds patriarchy, capitalism and white supremacy is the one that should be lived in. So their word, actions and ways of living as individuals and a community support that, the way they teach their children to believe supports that, the way they uphold their elders in their wisdom support that, the way they see the importance of destroying the land, waters and sky support that.
My energy is being used here- calling folks to no longer buy into what does not serve us ALL. That all being said, I have not watched the debates, I am not investing in voting, and I am not saying anyone who does is wrong in their doing so. I just hope that with those votes we also prepare ourselves for whoever is elected in to not dictate all of what is possible for us.
Begin by- knowing the survival skills of those in your community, understand your own knowledge of surviving, begin cultivating physical spaces that community can gather to seek safety and connection, live daily with gratitude and awareness of the remainder of our natural resources and take good care, take good care of each other, take good care of yourself.
Let your actions be prayer.

Let your creations be prayer.
And let your prayer be powerful.

Delayering, Deconstructing New York City to Remember How to Be Lead by the Knowledge of the Ancestral and Spiritual (A Conversation with Serena Olsen)

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I sat today in reflection with Serena Olsen practioner of Inner Dance about the experience of living in NYC while on my path of finding clarity and connection to a sacred calling working with and through spirit. New York has been difficult to root myself fully here- my spirit often feels exhausted, my heart often feels heavy and my mind often feels like it does not have the capacity to hold all the thoughts feel like they are racing.  And yet I remain in New York because something inside me repeats the messages that “You are here for a reason. You need to be here. You belong here and have important work to do here.” I breathe through these messages with understanding despite the difficulties I have faced in my time here.

Serena and I reflected on the construction of New York City and how it makes work with spirit so much more difficult. This is a place where the constructs are ever vertical, layering, building upon building because a majority of the vertical has already been covered. New York destroys memories with each construction, and these are raised vertically more and more with “success” in the monetary/capitalistic sense of what that is.

Just the same the notions of goals, purpose and path are all vertically driven, to better you must be better than the other- competition and hierarchical structures are the way we are taught to function. There is very few spaces where we are looking to be in communal exchange and see the benefit of self being connected to the benefit of all others. The way we move is with the intention to move toward our “success”- and NY’s choices are rooted in just that- we say “Yes” when we feel achievement and success will be welcomed. We say “No” when the possibility of failure is present.

And when we feel what has been constructed is not worth consuming or is no longer with the flow of the popular, the current, the mass appeal we build over it. We layer over what was once there. The ancestral land has a building built upon it and then that building begins as possibly a family owned shop, then becomes a start-up, then becomes a condo and a high rise and so on. Layering over and over erasing memories of what was once there. And the land continues to absorb the destruction, it holds all these memories, and we choose not to listen to its pain-we forget it’s messages and the way it holds foundational roots of ancestral knowledge and spirit.

I see this being similar to why living with a goal of connecting to spirit is so difficult here. The same layering is happening to our beings. We layer over our wonder the conditioning, the conformity, the fears cloud the ancestral roots of our spirit that experiences with wonder that embraces all as same as self, that allows us gratitude and understanding of the importance of all beings and things in a place of service to each other. Layer after layer we become what someone, what the constructions around us, tell us we need to be. From childhood we are being taught in these metropolis environments to build upon the raw, wild and free self, ever in wonder- into individuals who are driven by “achievement” and constantly avoiding “failure”- based on conditions and standards that are made up, that are false.

The journey I have been walking to go deeper and deeper, to lift the veils, the masks, the layers- to reveal the memories, the roots of knowledge that connects us to ancestor and spirit I feel is never ending and the more that I accept and say yes to that uncovering, the more I feel alone.  I have experienced many of my relationships in the city end in a way where we experience deep rooted moments of spirit exchange, of healing and looking at traumas and wounds and then following that experience there is lack of investment to go deeper, to do more delayering, to uncover the roots and ancestral, spirit knowledge that has been built over and often destroyed. The deeper I have gone, the more fear and ego have persisted in their attempts to stop me- the messages that say “Don’t continue in that path, you are crazy, naive, unreasonable, you will end up poor, outcasted, be reprimanded, disregarded.” “The material and physical recognitions, the acclaim, the fortune are what we all want- the liberty to live fully only comes with investment in what has been constructed, there is no use in trying to have else.” Its everywhere I walk.

Today I traveled through 14th St from 8th Ave to Union Square and I saw these messages everywhere and I heard the messages to enter stores, to be dressed in the latest apparels, to indulge myself in costly foods and treats, and even passing stores that were feeding the “metaphysical” were fully commodified- people paying to have more knowledge and more relics that connect them to spirit. The more we layer, the more we show our status of knowing, of having more material items, more means of luxurious living, having more knowledge, having more spirit. All the ego screaming at me. I tried to balance all the chatter that was speaking to what Serena described as seemingly an investment in the Crown and Root Chakra- the want to Achieve in the form of the Physical, but all that is in-between is being neglected and unbalanced. This creates the need for Financial Wellness to be a part of the balance of Mind, Body and Spiritually being well.

And so in a place like NYC when we make decisions about what we want to create, who we want to grow with, what experiences we want to invest in, we are lead by these notions of achievement, notions of what you will gain that is going to feed the physical/material/ financial wealth of your being, and in a way that will serve your “success” and being “recognized” for it. And when things are limited to only a few, we want it even more, because it greatest achievement to have what others do not, and cannot have. I see all these creations that reflect human progress and advancement and we are not all given the opportunity or capability of accessing it, because that would not serve these constructions that have been created. Could you imagine a world where everything that was created was accessible to every person? How rich the human experience would be, how we could advance and grow and create so much more with collective, unified elevation and evolution, where no one is left to suffer not having what others have, what only a limited, elite, “successful” have worked to “achieve”?

When we begin hearing the messages beneath all of these constructs, the deep under the buildings, in the ancestral land type of knowledge that says “What you are letting lead you are constructions, buildings, illusions, and you can build something else, something that serves us all,” it creates disruption and it is frightening and it feels like there are not enough who will follow in that- that are willing to abandon the constructs and create something new- and something inside of you says- “Maybe I’m not willing either.” And thus it continues. And is the reason I know I have had to release many relationships in my life, because I cannot accept that this world that has been created based on patriarchy, capitalism, hierarchical structures, guilt, shame, fear is the ONLY one that we can live in. I see, hear and feel past all these things the further I say “YES” to the path of spirit and ancestor speaking to me- when I listen to the trees, to the water, to the skies, when I listen deeper to the longing in people I meet to have a world that is invested in every individual’s belonging and elevation and ability to just live- and live well. A world that is invested in every person being given the right to food, shelter, and living life fulfilled- where every creation made by human innovation and progress is meant to be utilized by everyone and is meant to last because it is not just being constructed to feed constructions that value one persons ability to live fuller over millions and billions of others.

I’m searching for community in this, in particular in the Pilipino community, but here in this city, it is so difficult to find the circles that are willing to say “YES” to the deconstruction, the delayering, the deepening of the listening and seeing that feels so unknown, to the invitations to not live in the constructions of division, of competition, of the want to achieve above the other. I’m searching for you to exchange with me in this, in this city. I believe that is why I stay. Because I believe that this place needs more individuals inviting us to listen to spirit.
I have been cultivating my self practices for healing daily and have been seeking spaces to grow community that are in NYC, that I don’t have to feel so distant from, that will ground me in my path and elevate my existence as I become my greatest self and that I can exchange with in return, I’m still here because I believe in the possibility. I am here. I am listening. I invite you to listen and exchange and learn and practice with me.

Thank you Serena for reflecting with me. This obviously is still being unpacked. And is continuously something I am struggling through. I am always open for communication, I am always searching for shared experiences and shared opportunities to overstand.

Sunday, October 16, 2016 is the one of the last days of Serena’s visit offering Inner Dance experience in NYC this run before headed to the Bay Area, West Coast and then possibly returning back to the Philippines. Don’t let cost turn you away, she is offering discounts for all to be able to attend. Remembering it is all energy exchange.

Inner Dance Workshops NYC – Cognitive Resonance – 5Hr Workshop

Sunday, Oct 16, 2016, 10:00 AM

Topaz Arts
5503 39th Ave Woodside, NY

2 Inner Dance Community Attending

Cognitive Resonance -(Cognitive Resonance is a psychological model emerging from within the Inner Dance process) Cognitive Resonance gently explores expanded states of perception that leads to healing and transformation. It serves as an accessible opening to those dealing with depressive states, addiction issues, and psychosomatic mind and body di…

Check out this Meetup →

I am currently working on bringing others who I have exchanged with from across the globe to teach us their spiritual and ancestral practices rooted in Pilipino cultural learning. All are always welcome, the invitations are continually meant to bring us closer to each other in a way where we can see beyond a world that has been constructed.  I hope to continue peeling past the layers.
 

Makasaysayang Pagtatagpo- Historic Encounters- Witness Report “We Are Learning”

My name is Jana Lynne Umipig, daughter Godofredo and Rosemarie Umipig, granddaughter of Anacleto and Cristina Umipig and Santiago and Nena Caldetera. My family comes from the regions of Ilocos Sur (Sta. Maria) and Ilocos Norte (Pagudpud). I am a proud yet humble Core Member of the Center of Babaylan Studies.

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Photos from Ate Maileen Hamto

In our time gathering for the Third International Babaylan Conference- Makasaysayang Pagtatagpo (Historic Encounters): Filipinos and Indigenous Turtle Islanders Revitalizing Ancestral Traditions Together many lessons were amplified and much clarity was brought to the surface to guide us all in our individual and collective paths connecting to spirit and honoring our ancestry.

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The most important of the roles I was called to rise in during this time, was the role of Witness, shared with us as a sacred native tradition by our hosts from the Coast Salish, Skwxwú7mesh Territory on the Sunshine Coast of Vancouver. In my understanding of the tradition, when tribes/villages gather in a large convening there were witnesses chosen from each village who would bare the responsibility of observing, listening and holding space for the messages and truths that would unfold during the exchanges that would transpire during the time the tribes/villages were in communion with one another. At the closing of the convening they would be asked to share with the elders of the tribes and with the community in attendance what they gathered from their deep listening. This is the written account of my reflections on a moment in this living where I was given the invitation and duty to Listen deeply.

The first days at Camp Elphinstone were filled with so much anticipation of our guests, with much movement to make every detail attended to, to the best of our ability as an organizing team of the Center for Babaylan Studies and Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Collective Society. I followed with humility the lead of my sisters and brothers, and I sat with them in deep gratitude for the attention to those details as we stayed up late into the night on that Thursday evening assembling nametags and satchels of seeds to gift as offering to those joining us in the next coming days and preparing the registration materials to welcome our guests upon arrival. As a Core Member of CfBS, I feel my witnessing began the moment I was accepted into this circle of Sacred Work. I want to take this beginning moment of my report to recognize my sisters and brothers and what I learned from each of them in our communal work of manifesting this convening together.

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In reflection of the teachings from our Kapwa in Kathara I thank Claudine for her teachings of Lifted Energy, the way that she awakened us all with her presence and warmth. Like the lessons of the sun she was continuously giving of warmth, of liveliness, of light from the very last moment of her departure we all felt the rising of our spirits as you rose in yours with every exchange. I thank Babette and Sobey for the teachings of respecting sacred exchange; they taught the arduous and important work of building relationships with our Native brothers and sisters and how much humility is part of every encounter. Sobey taught me the importance of patience and steadiness in communication and was balanced by Babette’s way of dancing in exchanges, leading with her heart and with her mother womb. I thank JR for his leadership and his joy.  JR taught me presence, particularly the importance of being in presence of self for the support of others – he walked with us every step of the way and was often the key communicator between us and the community in Vancouver. Because of you all, I left the conference truly understanding a call to reconcile a relationship with the Natives on the land I settle on in New York, and what it will mean to begin that relationship in a good and honorable way.

The teachings learned along the way from my Core Family are so tremendous. The largest of those learnings is how there is a life investment when you exchange in creating relationships centered on spirit. I had not lead my relationship-building so intentionally in spirit until I was invited into this circle; it was something that was unspoken of, but with my sister of CfBS that is what roots us in our Sacred Work together – our deep commitment to the upliftment of our spirits in connection to the spirit of all.

Ate Maileen, I am always in awe with the way you see moments with Light. I learn from you the beauty of observance and how profound it is to focus on awareness of what is conspiring around you. I believe this is where your mastery of photography comes from; it is rooted in a deeper way of being humble to moments and being silent to what you see, it is prayer in observance.

Ate Inday, I am in awe by your way of moving with grace, just as your name amplifies, I learned from you to listen from within and to do this lovingly and with patience. Your Love and Care is so profound, they illuminate and bring clarity through your words, actions and even stillness. I am humbled to have you act as a guide and model of upliftment in my life.

Sis Jen, you have taught me the truth of feminine power, the way you hold space with the desire for the goodness of all, and how you give so tremendously of your wisdom with each exchange. You are fierce in the way you hold yourself in connection to spirit continuously. I see you move like Water sister, gentle and healing and so powerful in this way, I learn from you to be a Warrior Womxn always rising.

Sis Aimee, I am humbled to have you in my life and to follow you in your tremendous leadership – I want to honor you in the way you were the weaver of our entire community in this process of creating this convening. You held us all accountable to roles to lift this sacred work and you always did it with such genuine joy and with so much wisdom of organizing. I learn from you to Lead, and I am so thankful for how you gave of your entire self to all of us in every breath you exchanged.

Ate Lily, thank you for being a gentle storm, that teaches me to be brave in my movements and to do so with ease and grace. I learn from you the power that can come from compassion and Love being held in every intention no matter how it disrupts and creates chaos. I learned from you that at all moments we will return to Love if we push forward with that intent. I learn to stand up for what our heart speaks to us and to see the beauty in the challenges that we rise up against.

And Ate Leny, I learn from you to live in vision. I listen deeply to the way you SEE. You are a seer, you understand when we lose sight, you pause when we get caught up in movement and you invite us to join you in each moment to move with more awareness and knowledge. I thank you for this, and I thank you for seeing all of us on our paths toward and in seeing us, connecting us together, initiating unions that are rooted in spirit and ancestral learning. You are so powerful.

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I begin my reflections in my witnessing in this way because it is important for me to recognize the individuals who answered a call from spirit to create our convening. It is important for me, because we did not get a chance to do so in the presence of those that attended the gathering, to honor those that took care of every detail before, during and are still working to take care of details here after. We were faced with many challenges,and because we were the powerful collective of human beings that we were, who volunteered to rise in this sacred work together – we, together, were able to transform each moment into lessons.  These individuals throughout the conference held space for almost 150 other learners, giving of their time, energy, presence and spirit to care for those we invited to walk with us. It is always unseen how much is done to create these types of sacred spaces, and I am humbled to have borne witness and to have contributed beside all of you in this creating.

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Now I reflect on the conference in whole and what messages were heard and processed in my time as a Witness. Every lesson I share here, comes from the teachings of all of you. Many of you sat in exchange with me and I believe did so in connection and in echo of others in our community. I received your sharings and I listened deeply to what lay beneath these messages and I am still in this moment listening to what was shared with me and I am still processing deeper and deeper what is beneath the surface words that were exchanged. Every lesson I share here comes from our communal teachings in exchange.

I pray you all know, that it has been difficult to write these messages, because I have experienced, even post conference, how many have left not looking deeper at our learnings with Love and humility.

The greatest message I learned in our time together was that “We are all learning. We are ever learning. Be kind to yourself and to others in our learnings.” I hope this message can echo throughout my reflection and my sharing for myself, for you and for any other individuals that come to your mind in reading my words ““We are all learning. We are ever learning. Be kind to yourself and to others in our learnings.”. In our journeying through this life, we can get caught up in messages of colonial mentality that urge us to KNOW. The purpose of our gathering was embedded in its title: “Revitalizing Ancestral Traditions TOGETHER.”  Colonial teachings create emphasis on the INDIVIDUAL, and raise our ego to take precedence over our humility, our gratitude that allows us to find continuous wonder and gratitude for our living. As Greg Sarris shared in his talk: “Wonder makes us humble.” How unfortunate that we have forgotten so much of what it means to live in wonder.  We are all still learning and we will ever be learning about this life. Now is a time to be in wonderment as we have all experienced deep exchanges and newness in our circles on similar paths toward knowing spirit.

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Lessons learned to begin: Be humble in your misunderstandings and the misunderstandings of others. Draw away from shaming yourself, from shaming others – take moments to express truth as you have learned it and offer it to others with humility; those teachings are universal learnings that were meant to be shared with care and not with ego. We need to work more to invite each other with compassion into conversations of learning and to approach one another with the intention of Love and the genuine want for us all to be better in our paths and to speak and act in a good way with all our relations.

In reflection of our misunderstandings of protocols and ceremonies and what transpired in our raising of spirit, I invite you all to have forgiveness to self and to each other. And to ask yourself continuously in your choices, your movements, your actions in furthering your connection to ancestral learnings, learnings of the land and the waters and your learnings of spirit: “What is my intention? Is it coming from clarity in my heart and the ability to walk with Love?”

As the Core has reflected on since our gathering, we did not prepare the participants we invited to gather fully on how to enter exchanges in ceremony. On our first day together when we were leaving to the water, I invited everyone to make their walk to the water in silence and to allow ourselves to fully “Arrive.” Invitations are just as they are, they are not mandates, they are gentle reminders to be aware of how we treat our journey and our exchanges. I have learned in our gathering how difficult it is to break away from colonial rituals. We are more accustomed to these, than those of our ancestors (the reason why we gather, to remember), and many times because there are insidious attachments to Colonial rituals we are not aware of the importance of being mindful, or how impactful it really is to be present to experiences with all our senses, especially in connection to ceremony and ritual inviting spirit.

Many who stood on the shore for the tradition of Canoe Ceremony, shared by our Coast Salish hosts, may not have experienced how present spirit was at that moment and how much they were asking us to be still, to listen. The mist that carried the canoe to the shore holding our dignitaries and representatives of our communities was the presence of our ancestors and a call to us to remember the journeys that have been taken through water to arrive on land to commune and exchange by many peoples including our own.  These journeys have been covered, masked and forgotten- and to remember fully, to truly hear the voices of those that have journeyed is painful. They were there with us, in the mist, in the water, on the land. Remember the message “We are all learning. We are ever learning. Be kind to yourself and to others in our learnings.”

 

I felt the uneasiness of those present on the shore, many were anxious, many were unsure and confused, many felt the want to invite others to act and be present in the ways they have learned, and drew back. I breathed through my own moments of wanting to tell folks to be quiet, to listen. I felt my own discomfort and breathed through it, pushing myself to be present as the rain fell on us.

I watched as Babette and JR submerged themselves into the water in service of ceremony, I listened deeply to Lagitan’s song and the Song of our ancestors and I saw many spirits in the fog waiting to be welcomed on to the shore by Chief Ian and Mandy.

I heard them say “We are here. We have arrived. You all have not arrived yet.” I felt the same, we all had not arrived fully yet to this moment together.

In that moment I recognized that it is not us who invites one another to be in these spaces, it is our ancestors. They speak to us to commune in exchange of understanding this living, they ask us to impart their messages and teachings in every moment, they invite us all to experience together because they understand the power in this. Our ancestors smiled the moment we heard their invitation to gather. Ate Leny and JR could not remember who invited who to create this conference, it was our ancestors who invites us to create powerfully TOGETHER.

They want us to all listen and to learn in union. And the Canoe Ceremony itself was a lesson in how long and difficult the journey of returning to each other has and continues to be, and how we have to honor one another in our readiness to accept the invitation to be in union. We are not all ready to accept how much we belong to one another.  As the boat arrived Chief Ian shared with us a creation story and I heard Chief Ian’s voice bring lightness to his storytelling- because he knew, we were learning and we were all there with purpose to learn. And levity helps to ease these moments where spirit is present. “We are all learning. We are ever learning. Be kind to yourself and to others in our learnings.”

Through the canoe ceremony- we asked permission in exchange through song – and song being the voice of ancestors vibrating through our vocal cords. Song is spirit expression just as dance is. And the asking of permission was elevated in this way. We ask permission because of a respect for one another, because of an understanding that we all must be willing for genuine and equitable exchange to be upheld in our communion. This is not how we are taught in colonial teachings, it is often more about what we receive for ourselves, how we as individuals gain, what the value is for self before others.  Our ancestors ask us to consider, to have recognition and to hold the betterment and goodness of one another in every exchange.

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Ate Diveena spoke of the way the world we live in has been steeped in Colonial teachings, but we have our ancestors within us, around us, above us and below us, and they are continually reminding us in messages that we have the power to live in a way that is good, that is just, that is connected to them and Great Spirit. It is not easy to walk the path of re-membering and re-becoming. The learnings of what it means to create home again on this earth when we have been told that it is not ours to live on, that it comes with a price tag- that the lands our ancestors walked on cannot be cared for by us, but it continues to be destroyed by others who have purchased the right to do so, the land cannot be exchanged on in spirit by us because of our acceptance of colonial doctrine and ways of living. These false teachings have told us to fear and that we cannot act upon what we learn by and of our ancestors that the land belongs to us, that we belong to the land. “300 years of Church and 30 years of Hollywood” as spoken by our guest from the Philippines- their teachings tell us to be divided.  But our ancestors are continuously trying to remind us and our hearts are continuously reaching out to re-member.

After Canoe Ceremony, I took a moment to ask permission from the waters to be with us, central to our Dambana (altar).  I asked Chief Ian, how to approach the Water in a good way, to receive her presence and listened to her welcome me to gather a part of her to bless our sacred space. Water is sacred. Water is life. He helped me pray and I listened to her give to our gathering.  The water spoke throughout our time together, she was helping us to clear and cleanse. The rain fell throughout the days we spent on Mt. Elphinstone, another invitation from spirit, from water to be present, to be aware, to find moments of stillness and to see what needed to be made clear. Like the Sea Lion made from fire and cedar and submerged in the waters as told by Chief Ian in the creation story of the Coast Salish- we were being submerged in waters of spirit throughout our time together.

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Re-creation is just as arduous as Creation, and possibly much more painful. Ate Lily invited us to listen deeply to the process of re-membering after we have been “separated from our indigenous souls” for centuries.  The process is repeated again and again, “Gather, Hurt, Grow… Abundance must be labored”  “We are all learning. We are ever learning. Be kind to yourself and to others in our learnings.”

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In the Queer, Twin- Spirit Circle gathering Ate Lily also spoke of the pains of not having a village to usher us in our healing.” I reflected on this in our finding of one another- How we have found circles to hold us in our healing, to share in strength with, to lift sorrows and traumas with, to remember compassion of self and other with, to rediscover joy with in laughter and love- I heard in this gathering and in our entire convening that this is our village and this village will grow,  and as we grow, we will learn and know each other- we will learn and know of ourselves, we will free ourselves with every exchange, we will plant seeds for the future. Grief and sorrow is beautiful when held in communion. When we bare our broken souls to each other. We find in our Kapwa pieces of ourselves being filled- every crack and hole being filled with Love.

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And also I learned and heard that we do not only have to Mourn in our process of remembering, because every time we hear, and see our ancestors and we reclaim their teachings in our lives they celebrate us. “We are the dreams our ancestors dreamed would free them.”  A message I have repeatedly shared in my artistic expressions, a message of universal truth I found within myself in my exchange of learning with others. Our ancestors breathe, speak, cry, stand, walk, run, dance, fly through us.

This brings me to reflection on Saturday and what it meant to be Witness in that moment of living and experiencing spirit together. I have been gathering and learning and processing and crying and feeling so moved by what took place around our Dambana at the conference. I look deeply to Lagitan, to Nati and to our elders for guidance as all those who were present were opened up to a tremendously transformative experience. We all left that moment changed in our path toward remembering and communing with ancestors.

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The Dambana, the place where we invited our ancestors to join us in convening, where we laid down medicines from our Philippine Traditional learnings and unified them in bridging  with our Coast Salish relatives. I recalled the care that was taken in configuring that sacred space, in an honorable way, in a way of following what has been learned and hoping to deepen that learning in the future. Such a powerful exchange I was honored to have with Biyaals in silence, in patience. And as she smudged with the room in the beginning before anyone else stepped into the space, I knew powerful happenings would emerge from our gathering. The Dambana itself was a representation of a bridge we were building not only between Indigenous peoples, but between us and our ancestors and Spirit.

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The moment we shared on Saturday evening of the event brought many learnings.  It was the moment when we needed most to listen, but many could not because they were not prepared to listen in this way. And so we convene in many circles after departing from Elphinstone to make sense of the messages that came to us in that moment:

“Listen”

“You have a dirty heart”

“You are not following your path”

“Give me us your voice”

“Pray for the grieving women.”

I sat with these messages myself throughout that evening as I sat in reflection with our community in intimate spaces and I recognized for myself how much we all may have received these messages in ways where we blamed, shamed and condemned ourselves in the presence of community. I don’t believe that this is how these messages and learnings can serve us. To Listen, to fully and truly Listen, takes patience, it takes deep compassion, it takes us moving beyond just feeling. Because we have not been taught to do this, we may not have heard what the root of what was communicated to us was really offering us to move forward with. I invite us all to receive these messages not with fear, not with ego, but rather to receive them with Love and with Kindness.

There was so much I heard throughout the conference of judgment of one another and of our selves. I heard recognition and claiming of division. I heard messages of shame and feelings of unworthiness. These truths are not ours. “We are all learning. We are ever learning. Be kind to yourself and to others in our learnings.”  We must fight for Love and Kindness to persist. Even through spirit and how we commune with them. We must do as Water and Fire do, clear things away and allow for us to truly see. To Listen. To recognize what roles we play in honoring the life we have been given and the many lives that are living in communion with our own. Prayer is important, that is the exchange between us and spirit and the way we communicate to them that we are listening and prayer comes in many forms. We all have power within ourselves and gifts that we carry that we must learn to use these gifts as prayer and live with all our relations honoring what they contribute to the whole in good and honorable ways. This is what I heard in the messages.  And it all came back over and over for me about the value, the importance and the purpose of learning.

Seek teachers, see the teachers in each other, share as a teacher to those who appear in your life for learning exchanges. And know that these teachers are not just people, they are the animals, they are the land, they are as I spoke of earlier, the Water, and the Fire as we heard throughout from Lagitan and Corrine and its many keepers, our teachers are all around us, and they are within us. Our teachers are also our children- we should look more to them to remind us what has been forgotten and we must protect them in their growing in this world so they can hear spirit as clearly as we are working to remember how to. It is our duty to see them as our teachers and to listen to them as we listen to the Water, the Earth, the Wind and Fire.

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All our relations are rooted in learning, and those learnings are what will grow us, and will propel us in living purposeful and full lives, guided by goodness and Light.

I give thanks in closing to our hosts of the Coast Salish, Skwxwú7mesh Territory. We follow in your teachings as we are all still learning. I thank Chief Ian and Mandy and their relatives for receiving us with joy and for seeing the connections between our people right down to the fiber of the cloth that we exchanged with them similarly draped over our hearts and uplifting our minds. I thank Chief Willard for sharing teachings of justice and honoring and what it means to live to fight for your peoples and your traditions that connect you to ancestors and spirit for the well being and protection of all our relations.  I thank Biyaals for being a deep example of teaching and bearing truth like the Bear and balancing it with gentleness and Love like the Deer, it was powerful to see the exchange between you and Lagitan in holding all of us and holding spirit.

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I hope we all can reflect in a way that what transpired in our gathering was an invitation to continue in our learnings.  This conference, this convening, this gathering- was always about learning. We heard the importance of learning from our teachers and most importantly we heard it within ourselves the moment we made the commitment to attend- we all arrived in common place to Learn.

To decolonize is not about ownership in reclamation, it is about remembering and learning that we belong to each other. As I sat in reflection I heard spirit speak to me and I wrote this-

You cannot own spirit.

You cannot own the land.

You cannot own the waters.

You cannot own what is wild and free.

You cannot own us.

We belong to all things

As they belong to us in exchange-

Ownership is not communal,

Re-member what it means to Belong

Belonging allows us to have a space,

In this larger sacred space of Life,

That is rightly ours,

In the scheme of all things,

In the weaving of life-

We belong to Spirit

We belong to the Land

We belong to the Waters

We Belong to all that is wild and free

We belong to each other

We are all learning.

We are ever learning.

Be kind to yourself and to others in our learnings

No matter how arduous

No mater how much you sweat

No matter how much you cry

No matter the pain

Let yourself

Learn

Remember

Reclaim

Protect the truth that

“We belong to each other.”

Learn

Remember

Reclaim

Protect

Spirit

Land

Water

All that is Wild and Free

Us.

Continuing My Journey Toward Financial Wellness and Freedom: Humbled By Monetary Value


Continuing the Journey Toward Financial Wellness and Freedom:
Reaching out to community for monetary support is something so humbling. It could easily create insecurity and feelings of discomfort, but for me that is not the equivalent of the humility I feel.
To me, the feeling of being humbled is a deep gratitude to those who see a sense of worth in what I live in this existence and it doesn’t need to be monetary exchange of course not. But when someone offers you monetary givings it is giving of a piece of what sustains them in this physical world given to support you in yours. Their giving to you does not hinder them, but rather as they give there is recognition that they your work in this living to be more valuable than a dollar amount- that it will bring returns for something more life fulfilling, nurturing and healing than the constructed value of a dollar or two or ten or fifty or a hundred.
I have always had the mentality of “If I can then I will.” A mindset that has allowed me in the past to aide my own friends for a meal, or for a place to sleep, or for an opportunity to have a day or evening to enjoy an activity of leisure away from the stresses of being without money. “If I can then I will,” helps to be present in ability rather than living with anxiety and depression of scarcity, and it invites others to give in exchange of what they have to support what you may need to elevate.
Any work I do in this living, when being offered a monetary check, is received with thanks that the energy and time and knowledge and talent I have offered gives to emotional, spiritual and mental wellness of others and in return my physical life wellness is provided for.
I say all this to offer a shift in the way we think of our monetary exchanges. I say this to create more exchanges of acceptance when someone offers you a monetary exchange and more willingness to give of monetary exchange. I say this so artists and cultural workers and others who work so hard and give of their talent and of their living for very little monetary exchange can feel the peace in truth that they can ask for more. I say this because o believe this. I say this because I have been humbled by a current experience of asking and receiving in abundance. I say this with deep, genuine gratitude.
I seek to live forward with the support given now in this moment of need and throughout my life past and future- to create through my sacred calling, holding true to my value for self and the world, and honoring the value of others in exchange spiritually, mentally and physically inclusive of monetary exchange.

Financial Wellness and Spirit Exchange

Financial Wellness does not mean that we live luxuriously. It doesn’t even mean that we live to our basic means (i.e. Pay your rent, handle your bills, fill your fridge) 
I’ve been learning more and more that Financial Wellness comes from shifting our relationship to money. 
Removing the stress, removing the anxiety, removing the depression connected to money, can only happen when we remove our attachment to it- when we begin to see the beauty of how Financial “hardship” strips you down to live in-
Vulnerability.

Modesty.

Creativity.

Simplicity.
Find the joy and magic of this- it is medicine. Taking my doses everyday; letting it help me learn survival detached from the need for money, learn to thrive detached from the need for money.
I know how difficult it is as an artist and a cultural worker to ask for monetary exchange. It is something that does not always feel appropriate. 
I know that many times over I have felt thankful for just the exchange of feeling an individual’s spirit uplifted by my work- felt their heart open up, felt them discover clarity and truth in our exchanges. I think of the artistic works I have created and birthed into the world and how often I have not asked for monetary exchange, and usually when I have it has been to support and give to others who had contributed and given of their talents, time and energy to the manifestation of the workings. 
I am reflecting deeply on this. I understand that Money is not something that should drive our work- that it should not determine the worth of what we create in this world. I want to make exchanges yes, that will sustain my physical living, and also… I want even more to make exchanges of my work to sustain my spiritual well being. I want to feel heightened integrity in what I ask and what is asked of me in exchange.
My sacred work that I have been called to do could not be more important at this time when the world needs more room to not be driven by Monetary needs. The gap is widening between those who are pulled into poverty and those who are living in mindless luxury. And as I realize this more and more I am working to find out how to navigate my counter beliefs in a world that wants me to believe I cannot survive unless I play the game and walk the path that capitalism has created to oppress and degrade those that create spirit medicine in this world.
I have experienced and watched anxiety, depression and so many other ailments occur because of the power given to money. As I am living in a present moment where I am faced with money being able to have a stronghold on me again, I pause and I look at the beast in the eye and I know in my heart that the medicine I have cultivated to hold and protect my spirit is stronger. I’m seeking ways to shift the monetary paradigm in my own life, and I am inviting us all to take a look at ways to find freedom from financial hardship.
Vulnerability.

Modesty.

Simplicity.

Creativity.
To all the artists and healers and cultural bearers who connect with me on this- we are together.

Mercury Stationed Retrograde Grounding Affirmation- I am Listening

I am listening.

I am taking pause to survey the lessons that are being presented in this time of uncertainty.
I am sifting through my lived experiences, the ones that have fulfilled me and made me feel connected to my purpose and also those experiences that challenged me, made me feel uneasy and understand that they have also helped me to hold true and not give up on that purpose. I am hearing the No’s and understanding they are making way for the Hell Yes’s!
I’m letting myself be told that “there is something else…something better…something meant for me… And that something may not yet exist and I have the power to create it.” 
I am reminding myself that telling myself these things is not cliché, they are simple mindsets connected to truths to live in-that help me see how important my role in this world is. I am working to value the worth of what I am here to manifest and create. I am ready to serve, using the gifts I have been granted and have been growing to master throughout my living. I am making a list of that catalogue of skills and talents that are so powerfully mine and I am offering my service to the community and the world.
I am looking at true relationships and points of deepened connection that have offered me lessons- I am reviewing what I have learned and have adopted and looking back at what I may have missed or denied as a teaching that would serve me and I am accepting all of the teachings fully now. I am aware that I have to evaluate which relationships I should keep closest- that are of true betterment exchange.
All these things are healing my wounds of lack of self worth. It is helping me shred my invitations to the pity parties that my subconscious has been planning. 
I am letting myself be present to current experiences that have jarred my existence and cleansed me of life expectations. I am sitting in them in stillness.
I am listening.
 

All We Want is To Be Free

I love people watching.

But today
I watched in Dumbo, in Fort Greene, in Flatbush, in Alphabet City, and in the LES-
The reality
of how

Free

White people Live

I watched

The Freedom
in how

They
Walk,
Ride,
Eat,
Drink,
Shop,
Laugh,
Speak,
Gather,
Grow,
Breathe
And I couldn’t help, but

Wonder
If they valued
Living in
The Freedom
That so many of us
Long for

I wondered so deep
I had
To
Stop watching

And

Look away

-JL