Author Archives: lissa

Pleasure as a Form of Care and Justice (from embodiedheartmind.com)

This is an excerpt from a piece by Lissa which you can read in full here.
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photo by @jeremybishop


What happens when we as a collective center pleasure as a form of care, justice and liberation?
I have been exploring this concept in my life and also in my offerings particularly InterPlay, deeply guided by the work of  adrienne maree brown and her book  Pleasure Activism.

I have found Pleasure Activism to be an incredibly powerful approach to healing that not only affects the individuals engaging in the practice but all of those who in turn come in contact with them. Pleasure, compassion, and care intersect with each other and promote a more just society where we have the agency and capacity to care for ourselves and each other.

It gives me great hope that I can center pleasure as not only a practice that allows for well-being but as a loving form of rebellion against oppression, a form of individual and collective perseverance and strength for me and so many others in my communities and my ancestral lineage…

Read the rest here. I plan to post on embodiedheartmind.com every Friday sharing new content as well as updated versions of old posts from this site.

If you are interested in learning more about my offerings and writings, please also consider subscribing to my quarterly newsletter.

–lissa


imagine freedom #3

an updated version of an old dear poem of mine, which was inspired by this painting by  rick mobbs as well as the poetry of Maya Angelou.

inhale golden burgundy peace. exhale grey lavender grief. kiss me until joy travels through every orifice of your body, cooling the fires in the growing oceans surrounding us.

. ……… . …… ………………………………. .

imagine us together forever. tuck yourself under the shade of the chocolate tree in our imagination. carve our initials s and e into the trunk with strawberry juice. lay with me against the soil until dawn.

i stroke you until the whip lashes tattooed into your brown skin shimmer like stars. you become so alive that you relearn how to feel and tears of happiness stream down your face as my laugh — slow crescendo of love tickles your cheeks. i see the anatomy of a rainbow in your eyes.

just before nightfall, you point into the distance. tremors overcome our bodies as we see us in a future dreamland — happy and free with our children by our side. we wake during the night surrounded by the remnants of the harmony of their beings; they soothe us back to sleep.

. ……… . …… ………………………………. .

when morning comes and master finds us, we repeat maya’s words we rise, from a past rooted in pain, we rise, black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling, bearing in the tide…we rise, bringing the ancestors’ gifts, the dreams and hopes of slaves, we rise, we rise, we rise.”  we are not afraid because we know that i am the sun and you are the earth. our story is without end.

–lissa

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learn when to leave the table

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Our dinners together always had a sort of tv dinner feel. Perfectly contained portions of mashed potatoes, corn, mystery protein, and silence. A silence that never left us once the microwave was put to rest.

This silence wasn’t tender or quiet. It seemed to envelop with its sharp and loud vibrancy that radiated in the dull ache that made up the right side of my chest, screaming the word leave over and over again.

How could I leave him after all this time though? What was the point anyway — he was dependent on me, and I was dependent on being a good Christian…

Though it was never stated, I think the silence at our meals, at the intersections between the possibility of the present moment and the memory of his long-standing affair with his high school sweetheart, were mandatory.

My body would often engage in a gentle humming and swaying that my dear long-time table would join in with soft, scraping sounds that were always on beat. He stared down at his plate the entire time, which was fine with me. It saved me from having to see that same look he always seemed to have on his face in my presence — one of incredible emptiness and remorse.

It hurt deep in my soul how he could just turn it off and on, rushing silence out of the house, on the days our daughters or friends would come over to visit, sharing all the jokes he had heard on a recent sitcom, and looking at me with an intense look of love on his face.

I imagine that one day when I die young from a broken heart and go to heaven, he’ll write to our daughters shortly after I’m gone about his new girlfriend. He’ll say keep an open mind. Your mother, Celeste, and me were all best friends in high school.  The pain without your mother was just too much for me. She was my best friend, my love, for forty years. Celeste helps me to feel like I can go on. I know your mother is smiling down on us in heaven.

& since this is all made up anyway, I like to think that I am smiling down on them with a happiness that could never be too much for me, and that my dear table continues to make soft, scraping sounds on beat with their fuckery.


Nine months & counting since her death

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photo by januprasad

***

To be exact, it’s been 267 days since she died — not exactly nine months but very close. It feels so poignant that I return to write on the blog about her. Nine months can be a moment of joy and new life for so many. For me, life continues on with and without her.

***

I wrote this poem for her on the day she died:

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I feel her presence incredibly strongly still and I feel so grateful for that.

***

Grief is such an intimate teacher. It feels like a young being, wild and vulnerable, desperate in its need for comfort, insatiably loud with its demands if ignored. In those moments, when the grief is most intense, I hold grief and myself, rocking and whispering, “I know. I know. I know, dear one. I’m here.” Somehow, someway, I seem to envelop myself in love in its purest, deepest form in those moments. It’s almost like grief leads me to love. Is grief love? The two are more interconnected than I ever realized.

I wonder how many countless other beings sit near or far by in the quiet, mourning their losses, healing in the best ways they know how? Even though it’s so hard to know sometimes, I hope they know, I hope I know, “We are not alone. We could never be alone.”


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our loving ancestors

3-gogo-and-the-ancestors-marietjie-henningphoto by marietjie hemming

I like to think our ancestors are rooting us on through life.

There’s a mindfulness practice at Blue Cliff Monastery called touching the earth where we place our palms in front of our chests in the shape of a lotus bud and slowly lower ourselves to the ground so that our four limbs and forehead gently press against the floor. We bow deeply and return to the earth and our roots, connecting with our spiritual and blood ancestors. We know that we can never be alone as we are always surrounded by love, by divine beings who only want the best for us, by the earth. We touch the earth and reconnect with each bow to all of that life and recognize that we make up the earth and life and can never be separate. We are all connected.

Breathing in, I breathe in the earth. I breathe in connection. I breathe in life, strength, stability, love, nurturing, protection. Breathing out, I breathe out separation. I breathe out suffering. I breathe out anger, fear, shame, sorrow, grief.

I wonder if each time we engage in a healing practice like meditation or yoga, are we touching our ancestors? In engaging in the practice and connecting deeper with ourselves or transforming an area of suffering, are we also lessening the suffering in that whole ancestry chain? If we release a story steeped in limitation and inadequacy that we used to cling to, do we release suffering in our whole ancestry line? Is our growth a shining light of hope and pride to them?

 

 

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background image by carolyn doe

Believing our thoughts

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We have so many thoughts each minute, each day, each lifetime. Some believe we have 50,000 thoughts in a day so that would be over 18 million thoughts in a year — far too many thoughts to hear and remember. So what determines the thoughts we believe and cling to and the ones that never catch hold and quickly disappear? It’s more often than not a choice. I want to carefully choose the thoughts I listen to for they create my reality.