My Peeps & Politics

The day that Donald Trump got elected as 45th president of the United States of America, I was in a study room in a university library in Temuco, Chile (South America). In a sense, I went crazy that day, at that moment. The things he had said, and the realities I knew my minority-member (non-white/non-heterosexual) friends lived, hit me with such raging force that I sat down in a hard desk chair and cried. The loco came when I lifted my head up and entered the social media world with a hard edge to my words, fingers clacking, and thoughts that hadn’t been there before.

Certain political issues are “hot-buttons” for folks from Left to Right on the political spectrum in the United States: Mr. Trump’s candidacy (and then presidency) triggered just about all of them. Gay rights, women’s rights, police violence, black liberation, etc. I believed (as I still do) that these issues are incredibly important in our shared life, but what I have realized is that they are not as important to me as having good days together. At the end of the day, they are just issues. Legislation that defends rights for LGBTQ+ people is not LGBTQ+ people. Support for a political servant who stands for the humane treatment of immigrants is not the immigrant we seek to defend. I want the system to change, I want good laws to be upheld, I want crooks out of office (to be clear). I am a Lefty, yep. That doesn’t matter half as much as the fact that I am a human.

It is important to me that we see and listen to one another, that however long the human species exists on this planet, we have good times together. I want people to not be alone more than I want stricter gun laws. Do I believe that stricter gun laws could reduce the number of violent deaths in our country? Absolutely. Others don’t. Neither of us have immediate control over whether or not gun laws change. What we do have control over is the quality of the energy that we put into the world, and the way that we treat one another. I want to feel comfortable hugging the people I work with–because of mutual care and attentiveness–(be she Republican, Democrat, White Supremacist, Libertarian, Socialist, Black Nationalist or other!) more than I want to convince someone else that marriage is for everybody.

I like a lot of people whose views I find dehumanizing, and contrary to my moral code, yet I want to be found continually inviting them into my life. Over certain dinners I have voiced my opinions, been rudely contradicted, and then seen the disagreer sink into shamed silence. That shame is not my responsibility, but neither do I want them to drown in it! I sure don’t want to be left to drown in my shame! Truth is, this place is better when we join hands in the face of shame. People will make their way through shame in their own way at their own pace. I’d rather we not have to make that journey alone. Regardless of beliefs or how we act on those beliefs, we all need one another (please accept that there are violent people, like some particularly in the media eye currently, who are best avoided).

In the face of the technological typhoon, we need to face the threat of isolation and overcome it with tolerance and radical peace-making.

The day Mr. Trump was elected I forgot that dogma is a closed door, and that it breeds conflict. In that moment I took life too seriously (Jesus’ words had taught me to look at the care-free birds), and let a desire to change people’s views (for the sake of other people) eclipse the true priority of loving those around me, and making peace (be it in person or through a screen).

On that day, when I heard the news (that I still perceive as horrible news–other people don’t perceive it that way….hey friends!) of Mr. Trump’s election my system shook off its foundation of unconditional, accepting, and compassionate Love that I had so fiercely constructed in my heart as a young girl. I hardened to hear that news and put up a shield. But shields are for defensive, combative living, and I am beginning to see (again) that I wasn’t made for such a lifestyle. My heart is aching with the weight of standing with a shield between myself and other people. The shield is too heavy.

I want to melt my shield down and turn it into a watering can. People are growing, they need water, not constriction. People are lonely, they need company, not a barrier. I believe that the ideals that lefties like myself stand for are about human rights. However, if we lose our ability to create and maintain healthy relationships, and to treat others with respect and dignity in daily life- social media INCLUDED–then we have lost the embodiment of the very ideals we fight for.

This is not an us-or-them universe, even when we feel put into a “them” category by family, co-workers, or friends (who side on the Left or Right). This is our home, this planet is where we belong, and we belong to each other. There is us, together, and either we will perish, or Love will win.

 

There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges–the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light. ~Eckhart Tolle

Be messy. Be complicated. Show up. ~ Glennon Doyle Melton

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Why Yoga?

Yoga matters to me, especially right now, not because it is something better than the other somethings. It is not the hobby to put all hobbies out of business. It is not the one true religion.

Yoga matters to me because it is what I have right now. In days past, I had Jesus. I had the words of Jesus, my sweet tattered Bible, and the Christian community (a tad unreliably but nonetheless,) surrounding me. Those days were imperfect but that study, the weekly and daily rituals (praying before meals, attending a service weekly, eventually spending hours in prayer and meditation), blessed me, and kept me from spinning my wheels in the mud of meaningless suffering. Now (praise ye the gods!), amidst hard financial and emotional times, I have the practice and study of Yoga.

I didn’t realize how much it has come to mean to me, and how much this ancient study/practice has blessed me until I was at a workshop in a neighboring town (holla at ya, Conway) yesterday, and heard a teacher talking about why she sticks to the more pure forms of yoga (the closer to Krishnamacharya–the better! was her angle). The impact it has on the mind. The connection to the Divine as the motivation behind it. The beautiful (albeit fundamentalist ;)) chants before and after each two-hour-long practice.

I realized as she spoke that if I did not have yoga right now, my little hands would feel awful empty. The presence of something on my palms–be it yoga or religion, study, or exercise–actually helps me open up to receive and release. Yoga, like the words of Jesus, draws out the Divine in me. These ancient prescriptions conjure up spells of light, love, and hope, and without spells, my days would be much darker. I shudder to think where I would have been without the words of Jesus nurturing my soul. This year, I have been to some dark places, and it is yoga that is helping me emerge.

At a Vinyasa (movement with the breath) class today, my Yoga teacher, Sherri, guided us through breath retention and some hella-difficult classes. After a brief savasana (corpse/resting pose), we engaged with her in listening to a song with repetitive lyrics in Sanksrit (holy language of ancient India/the yogis/inis). Singing along, I felt movement rise from my hips to my head and, in spirit as in body, I was at church again. Moving with the beautiful sound, we were alive together, plugged into source like blue Omaticaya Avatars seated, entranced, around Home Tree. Tears soaked my face as the words resonated with a magically unidentifiable part of my being:

Oh, my beloved
Kindness of the heart
Breath of life
I bow to you

And I’m coming home

Ong namo guru dev namo

Divine teacher
Beloved friend
I bow to you
Again and again

Lotus sitting on the water 
Beyond time and space 
This is your way 
This is your grace

Ong namo guru dev namo

Guru dev, guru dev namo

This is your way
This is your way
This is your way

(Bryan Kearney / Snatam Kaur / Thomas Barkawitz)

 

That is why yoga, for now. I am grateful for the teachers, preachers, and friends who create space that is safe and holy enough for the scared and lost parts of us to come home. Spaces that are big enough for tough emotions, and small enough for Love to fill, are resting places on the journey.

Praise be to Ganesh, remover of obstacles, praise be to Lord Shiva, inspiration of many asanas (yogic postures), praise be to Buddha, for being the Awakened One, and always, ever always, praise be to Jesus, for loving me first.

I’m coming home.

 

Grace & Peace,

 

Lydia Nomad Bush

Lies & Big Questions

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Lies

 

knowing the lies are lies just isn’t enough

they are heavy in me:

a hook that I have swallowed.

 

can I walk up to him, asking,

“are you deeply disappointed in me?”

 

can I tell her I did not mean to make her mad?

she’d scoff, I know. She’d find it awkward and strange and

then she’d say, “I’m not angry. I wasn’t even thinking about you.”

 

I would say, “I know.

Damn all these lies, right?”

then she’d look away, which is

okay.

 

 

Big Questions

 

Am I alive if

I ask no big questions?

It is in the asking that I find

The Life; who to ask is

irrelevant. To ask permission is

also irrelevant. I ask it only

of myself,

Fount of Big Questions.

Untitled Poem

 

Sometimes a woman must go

with herself

to a place

where she can be alive to the dark, unfriendly, & inhospitable

emotions that stir

beneath the white lie

of her smile.

 

She does this because her emotions put

her mind back into her body, where

she can breath,

create,

slither out of the snares

she walks into: naked doe dissected

day after day.

 

Every month she bleeds but it isn’t the blood that

costs her  

dignity.

It isn’t the blood that threatens her, nor is it the emotions.

The threat is the short list of predators:

ego, fear, and

denial of herself as the doe, of life

in this barren land

as the scalpel.

 

Sometimes a woman must go

with herself

to a place

where she can smile

in the dark.

Deals With a She-Devil

Deals with a she-devil

 

If a woman must pay her bills

then she must make her choices.

 

If a woman must change her tire

then she must allocate her wealth.

 

If a woman must look beautiful

then she must be the agent of her sexuality.

 

If a woman must kneel

she must do so of her fiery and free volition.

 

If a woman must do things for others

she must do things purely for herself.

 

If a woman must attend church

then she must yell at the gods.

 

If a woman must love deeply

then she must scream at the stars.

 

If a woman must belong to a man–

No. That must never happen. Run, sister. Run until you belong

to yourself, then run for

the joy of that

intoxicating freedom.

 

If a woman must fight to be free

then she must also reap the riches of her destiny.

Tapa(s) That Mountain

 

Climbing Pinnacle Mountain today was difficult. Stomach problems made it painful internally but it was not even an *Arkansas* hot day. There was a breeze that accompanied me as I wheezed, heaved, & groaned my way up the East Summit.

Damn, I love that mountain.

Every bit of the experience was familiar to me (though I did not used to be this challenged on the way up…). The contours on boulders smoothed by hundreds of feet scaling them each week, the canopy of leaves overhead, the friendly faces who greet & cheer you on as you ascend & they descend the steep trail. I adore the crags on either side of the worn path. I love the coolness afforded by the vines and greenery all around. I love the feeling of my chest rising & falling at the summit as I gaze for miles & miles, soaking in the sherbet sunrise. I hear firecrackers, set off not far away & roll my eyes.

God, I love this place.

This walk triggers a plethora of memories. When I was a child the mountain seemed so long, the trek lest arduous but definitely more lengthy. During high school for a time I climbed the mountain weekly with a fierce group of young women. We explored the crags & swung off tree branches. It got easier for us every week, but never lost its’ lustrous challenge, it never stopped reminding us of the warrior-women within. None of us spoke out loud of how powerful it showed us to be, this weekly strength practice–we were taught to be docile & dainty–but I know we all felt it. And secretly shared it. If the other girls do not remember, then I will be guardian and remember-er, and secret keeper of these memories.

In yogic philosophy  there is an idea called “tapas”. According to Deborah Adele, Tapas is the fiery determined effort we can make to offer ourselves up to transformation, by way of strength training, meditation, or any other focused practice. Tapas is discipline, it is taking the difficult action because in your gut you know it is the right action. Tapas is the courage to step into the fire for the sake of being purified.

Pinnacle Mountain has been a place where I have cultivated Tapas. That summit has been & was again tonight the altar where I offer myself to God, to transformation, to my higher, truer, better self.

I love it. Oh, I love it very much.

Here’s to more cardio & less carbs.

Feel the holy burn, friends!

 

Lydia Nomad

Forgiveness

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Toltec Mounds, Scott, AR

There is a list of 10 names in my private journal. Above their names I have written “forgiveness”.

I carry these names as weight in my heart because in some way or another, each person has wronged me. Intellectually, I know each action & word had a cause & made sense to each of them. Most likely, no harm was ever intended me. However, until I can forgive these individuals, the gates that protect my heart will be held open. Until forgiveness flows from my heart-center, for each of them, I am vulnerable to more conflict. Forgiveness is not a transaction between myself & these individuals. Forgiveness is a process, walked out in anguish & struggle, conducted between myself & the fractured presence of my Divinity. It is a battle of ego & intuition, pain vs. wisdom. Pain leading to wisdom, by way of Faith’s path. Intuition, wisdom, by way of faith, must win or suffering ensues relentlessly (as these life-protecting boundaries are stuck ajar). As Thich Nhat Hanh, beloved Buddhist monk, says, “To suffer is not enough.*”

It is impossible to live in this diverse world as dynamic & sensitive creatures without causing one another pain. It is difficult, but never impossible, to grasp true forgiveness. It is always a good time to put the old aches & wounds to rest for good in the garden of Grace.

As the ancient scriptures say, “God is merciful & gracious, slow to anger, & abounding in steadfast love.**” There is enough grace available. There is endless love available. I believe that to forgive daily, daily these truths must be remembered. We are divine beings, but our divinity is often forgotten in the sea of distraction. It is something to remind ourselves of continually throughout life.

Sometimes as humans we fear grace more than we fear judgment. We know how to protect ourselves from judgment (being unfortunately well-practiced), but we are unaccustomed to enduring the fires of Grace. But Grace, seen as the dominant force at work in the cosmos, is what can change everything. Especially for those of us lost in unforgiveness.

What if we were, are, and shall be forgiven…always? That is sweet oxygen filling the lungs of our fearful hearts, if we let it.

 

Hopefully,

Lydia Nomad

 

Past, Death, Present

Many novels I have read are written in third person, past tense. As if the story has already happened, yet is now of crucial importance. Perhaps the stories that have already passed are even more relevant than what is known as “current affairs”. Maybe folks who often say “the good ol’ days…” in conversation are on to something. This moment, now, and how we qualify it, is intrinsically lacking if not seen through the lens of that which has come before. The stepping stones leading up to where we stand on the path in this moment are keys to understanding where we are, and why we are here at all.

Right now: I dance while I cook my own dinner in the house I pay to live in, decorate, and clean weekly. That is nice, but it isn’t a story. The story came before. The story is that there was once a girl who lived at the end of a dirt road whose mother always cooked the meals & whose father did the 9 to 5 & made demands on the rest of the family at his whim. This girl perceived these whims to be quite, quite, QUITE anti-female, and anti-her best interests (oftentimes laziness, or dislike of being forced into anything). This girl made the decision, there as she pulled weeds in her demanding dad’s garden, or vacuum-hosed out a vehicle, that she would be the boss of her own life, and she would not cook or clean. She would do the “real stuff” (whatever that was…).

Fast forward a handful of years & that girl is independent, for real. She has said “no more” to the strangle-hold family & cultural expectations (& her perceptions of those phenomena) & lives with a woman who kindly opened a guest bedroom to her in the second year of study at a local community college. That young woman stares down a  sauce pan, exhausted of eating eggs over-easy, yet, out of ideas, intimidated by complicated recipes & long grocery lists (& high costs). She eats over-easy eggs again.

Fast forward once again & the girl is back from 5 months spent abroad, a woman now, Not a young woman–a woman woman. She has clinical depression, but does not know it yet. She knows that she fell in Love with a (young) man. She knows his family made her feel comfortable. She knows she is now alone; he is not here, & no matter what anyone does or says, she is the only one who can finish her Bachelor’s Degree. She is the only one who can get her out of bed. She is the only damn one who can cook her dinner. She read that a key to lifting ones’ spirits is to eat well-seasoned, well-cooked food. She started with a shrimp & noodle dish. She wanted to eat something bland and simple like tuna or refried beans on a corn tortilla again. Yet she knew she was the one who could give her body what it deserves at least once a day, if not thrice. So she cooked noodles with clear sauce, and shrimp. Her hackles raised when a co-worker asked smuggly why she was eating something with no sauce but she knew inside, it was an accomplishment. She had gifted herself a good meal, & she considered it a worthy investment. She considered her own self worth a quality meal, even on an average day, even if she did the 9-5 all by her (bad) self.

There. That is the story, written in past tense. It is the story that makes what we see (a woman cooking her dinner) a story rather than a scene. The joy is found in the juxtaposition of where she was with where she is. Who she was bled out & gave rise to who she is in a dance of creation, death, & resurrection,

Perhaps the flesh of human stories exists in the past, in what the conscious mind forgets, & the subconscious remembers.

This whisper leaves my lips: thank you. For who the girl was, who the young woman is, and who I will be.

Creation, death, resurrection. Forever & always the circle of life. May every story–now and in the past–be doused in Divine Light. Amen & amen.

 

Shanti, friends.

3 Poems

Most of the Time

Most of the time, poems come

from a deep broken place;

it’s a conundrum.

I like to write poems but do not like

to be in that place. Good thing

life does not let me choose,

most of the time.

 

Evening Poem II

To wish that others be happy seemed to be

such a good wish to wish, then

I actively wished it and witnessed my happiness whisked

away. Is it my mistake or theirs, that I wish it? Perhaps

the wish is not wrong, but the insistence that

the wish for happiness be what others wish too.

Wish them happiness I will, and to wish–but not insist–that they wish it too

won’t hurt.

 

Less-Than-Human, Worriness Poem

The police in me woke up;

I awoke with depression. Never had I interested myself in

rules or the line one must walk

certainly, with exact step and without stumble. I danced,

then, brought to a thin place, I scrutinized daily motions necessary for life to determine

which I could neglect and still cruise by the state

trooper, with a decent justification, and not get pulled over

for being less-than-human. Yes, depression makes me feel

less-than-human because I cannot fathom closing the fork drawer

much less mustering the energy and will to braid my hair or hold a full

conversation with another who may notice my less-than-human.

A full conversation may awake the police in them to finally incarcerate this restless mind

for being less:

10mg less than human.

30mg less than alive.

If I cannot close the fork drawer, or leave my bed without counting to ten slowly,

am I enough to merit the space I take up? Ask the police

of my mind–she still does not know.