Showing posts from 2019

Taking A Life

I was raised vegetarian as part of my early upbringing in the cult. That is an entire blog post in and of itself but suffice it to say, I was more aware of turkeys as something I could draw by tracing my hand than I was of it as a relative and source of nourishment. True, my aunties would sneak me pieces of turkey under the table at Thanksgiving when we celebrated with my father's family who was decidedly carnivorous and not in the cult. Also true was the delicious feeling of transgression and taste delight that co-mingled in my mind and mouth as I savored the juicy morsels. But it was an unimaginable leap between this low key rebellion and actually connecting with a living, breathing being that gave its life so I could feel a little naughty and then scrape any evidence into the trash. Skip ahead 30 years and I'm deeply interested in knowing where my food comes from, how it is raised and treated, and how it is killed. Food justice is not only about access to healthy food,

The World We Know Is Possible

People know things are changing on the Home Planet, Earth. Even if they like to temper the shifts in climate with comments like, "We could use more sunshine here", the facts speak for themselves. And just because many of us in the Northern Hemisphere can still get food easily enough, doesn't mean that there aren't starting to be inconveniences, like the voluntary power shut offs in some Bay Area communities due to extremely dry conditions. PGE, the power company acknowledged that they were unprepared for the increase in fire danger last summer when a huge area of California burned down due to faulty power infrastructure. Now, Science, which has occupied a similar level of credibility as the Almighty for the last 175 years, is falling in value. "Post-Fact Era" is now a phrase on many tongues and Instagram sites, whether you identify as Red or Blue or Purple. When we no longer want to hear what an authority figure has to say, the power of the masses can

Grieving What Is Still Alive But Lost

A hole in my chest where breath and beat used to be. Ashe mother, I am ready to acknowledge this love For I want to be wonder-filled Rising through mud Claiming the bud of the lotus That we may all share its Life. Family, my origin Destined to be Greatest teachers through Bruising my breast Demanding my yes, I acquiesce to learning the hard way See this scar, Not on purpose, And yet, so far beyond Your original intent. I see you, flesh and blood Heart of my heart, Bone of my yard We all try so hard to belong To sing our own song, Truth to the mother, I can love no other, Even if it means Beholding this world Without its masks Cruelty and kindness Wrapped and undressed Will I continue To fight? Warrior goddess, Priestess, mistress Of all in my domain Embracing the pain in order to Be free. I love you. And I know you love me. That’s it. Messy, hurt Dirty duty Carried into a new world Where I cut the rop

White Mountain Rising

Shasta, Uytaahkoo, White Mountain Goddess First light Presiding Between scorched thighs Rising up Robed in halos of Pink cloud and magic hour Crown shrouded As her body glows She knows the ways of men Climbing her flanks, Burning her hair Yet she ascends, Clothed in snowy knowing Silent Because there are no words To fill the gloaming Just ice and flash, Melt and flow Like the cities Like the lava Like the asphalt tar Wound about her body. Like Time She abides, Queen and slave Full, luminous, Mother

The Alchemy of Grief

I wept as Terry Tempest Williams described watching the door open to reveal her brother’s body after being cremated for six hours.   She spoke of his ribs, broken open like wings, the bones they gathered after another 3 hours on trays and then watched as they were ground to dust. The weight of his bones was 8 pounds and 2 ounces, the weight he was at birth. “Learn from owls.”   She said in her clear, steady voice. “They have taught me a thing or two about how to navigate the dark.” 2019 has been a year full of grief. Friends have passed, leaving young children motherless, family allies have been given terminal diagnoses, parents of friends have crossed the rainbow bridge, my family has broken my heart. Many days I have wondered, “How is it possible to rise day after day when grief is like a mantle pressing me into the earth?” Sometimes, it is like a hand pressing against my breastbone, steady and deep, compressing my chest into itself. Caroline Casey, a mystic sufi

Science is not modern, it is the cult of counting

Science is not modern Ask any Indigenous person. They will tell you the names Places, uses, and most relevantly, Numbers and Functions of the Life they live within. Pick your subject Biology, Botany, Agriculture Physics, Engineering. Thousands of years Using bodies as laboratories Memory as notebooks Story as peer-reviewed journal lit. Land was an eternal field study Annotated with bridges To span gaps Between Seen and Unseen God in forms of animal and sky Quanta dancing in Coyote's mischief They spoke our holy language Before we did. Now that we have grown Fluent enough to understand We find ourselves Straining To count the remaining whispers Of particle and wave Plant and sea. We pray they will teach us The missing pieces Before our failed experiment Implodes.

Cascade Head Serenade

I stood at the summit of Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast, watching mist roll back from the cliffs and water thousands of feet below me. This place was important to the First People of this land. Huge Sitka spruce held court at my back, cradling ancient stumps and a steady drip of moisture rolling off their branches. Nature’s medicine is potent, and my skin steamed with the effort of climbing. I imagined the entire headland alight with fire, welcoming ancient runs of salmon home like a pyrotechnic lighthouse set ablaze by human hands. To climb, to sweat, to call out to our relatives, “Come home!” requires effort. How many times have I leaned into Life’s challenges? How exhilarating and exhausting is it to put one foot in front of the other with a vision calling me forward? A place I have never visited, a relationship I have yet to build, a world still incubating. Rain drenched the entire first section of the trail. Water cascaded down the path beneath my feet, my body sodden

The Way of Beauty

Jewel once said, "In the end, only kindness matters." Remember that line? It has come back to me like scripture as I have contemplated ways to move beyond Rightness or Wrongness and towards solutions for our beleaguered souls and planet. What does Rightness have left to offer? Where do we find ourselves when we practice kindness? Being Right and Being Kind. Sometimes they are the same things, but often they aren't. I went to Molalla, Oregon for July 4, Independence day in the USA. My whole immediate family was going to the parade and then to the rodeo afterwards. They asked Tobias, Espen and I along and I said yes. We were showered in candy and tractors. We were serenaded by America the Beautiful and other USA themed songs. We watched horses prance, longhorn cattle be ridden with saddles and a mobile porta potty mounted on a riding lawn mower whiz down the parade route. After that was over, we went to the rodeo and watched women's drill teams gallop at breakneck s


I marched in the Pride parade for the first time this year with Tobias’ kettlebell gym, The Warrior Room. There were lots of rainbow booty shorts, lycra, kettlebells, and face paint. We paraded down the street, waving flags, blowing whistles, and screaming for the warriors who would bust out routines on command, pumping their bells and then dancing it out. The experience was a fiesta of color, music, fabulous creativity, and reminders that the first Pride was a riot (Stonewall). Espen and I grabbed a snack as our group waited in the staging area and decided to hit the bathroom before returning to the festivities. A wrinkled blonde woman bedecked in rainbows and glitter motioned us to the front of the line. “The little ones go first.” she said.   We thanked her profusely as she marshalled us into the room. “I wish this wasn’t’ just one day per year.” she said. I couldn’t agree more and found myself tearing up at the generosity and riotous exuberance all around us. Beauty is a lang

Decolonizing My Life Post Cult

As many of you know, I was raised in a religious cult. Though it masqueraded as a mainstream version of Christianity, it had its own codes and symbols that would be unrecognizable to an outsider. It kept us inside its walls, though to the rest of the world we could come and go freely.  I was educated from first grade through my first college degree in their schools barring one year at Portland State University. I left despite a full ride scholarship because I lost a bet with my mother who was deeply worried that I would leave the cult should I remain. To tell the whole truth, I was a little worried I would too; it was so colorful, so self-confident, so...alive. So I slunk back to cult-land and finished my degree at an outpost university in England. There, I left the cult in my heart and mind but continued to attend school until I had my degree... and promptly had a nervous breakdown in Thailand after graduation because the stress of starting a life outside the boundaries of

A Line Across the Stars

(First printed in Gravel: A Literary Journal, December, 2018) My lineage became fainter on April 2, 2018 when my paternal grandmother, Patricia Mae McDonald Mathis stepped out of flesh and onto the celestial trail home. These days it seems like my attention is either aimed at the farthest observable glimmer in the sky, or at the shrieking 5-year-old red giant about to supernova at my feet. But one afternoon as I stood alone on my porch, watching morning glories lifting and floating on the breeze, I clocked the fading path. There would be no more phone calls to Grandma when I found the time, no last-minute pop-ins to browse the family tree and its shoe boxes full of silver photos and frayed newspaper clippings. The line was silent. I sent her a card a week before she died, thanking her for her gift of 10 thousand dollars, given to each of the grandchildren as their inheritance. I told her that regardless of the money, I would always