Political Theology: Catholic Spirituality and Drones

At every intersection of political examination of conscience, I come to the word peace and rummage in my mind for an spiritual reasoning that explains why I have never heard the word “drone” in any Catholic space or conversation. ?I suppose because most Catholics, ?sitting upon the words “political” and “reflection” come to the two areas that the church is most infamously known to brush scandal: sexuality and gender. ?Anything that has to do with, as NCR columnist Jamie Manson describes, “the pelvic region” is cause for Church debate and media sensationalism.

But nothing about drones.

Drones, like so many other facets of foreign based news and political chatter, seem like a topic outside my understanding. I don’t know when drones were built, or by whom, or what (other than terrorizing other countries) their purpose is. ?Based from general and cursory reads of current events, I surmise that the overarching goals are to “keep the peace” (surveillance) and limit the risk to US American lives. ?And yet, as a US American, I can’t say that I feel any safer than I did a decade ago. ?Drone strikes, or any US military tactic that sends machines of steel instead of human life, further deploys the global message (read: illusion) of an American Invincibility; where the cost of life will rarely be American and the mental neuroses of paranoia and terrorism will impact us all.

I think about how removed most Catholic consciences are from this issue, how removed my own conscience is from this issue. ?I wonder if when Catholics pray they are only praying for peace of mind. Sure, no one wants a worried mind, but what price comes to believing in peace? ?To believe in peace, we have to believe that all life is sacred, even those whom we label “enemy.” In nearly every passage of scripture I have ever studied or contemplated, the word enemy is used to describe the further advancement of love; manifesting forgiveness and painful growth of inclusion.

None of this is simple. ?There are some acts in the world, ribboned with terrifying violence and unthinkable hate, that I can scarcely put words to fully encompass the horror. But I wonder about today’s passage and what is left for Catholics to ruminate in a time when we divorce ourselves from the responsibility from the callous calculations of our government. ?How long do we continue to focus on issues of sexuality and gender to the negligence of the crime we are also witnessing on a global level?

I often hear from aging and aged Catholics that we have to pick and choose our battles, we must discern where in the world we want to try to help make a difference and focus on the good so we do not burn out or become hardened to the point of inactivity. ?My focus and passion has always been issues of radical understanding of human divinity – of all persons – and I can’t reconcile the truth that peace does not exist and I, very likely, cannot undo that.

So what is left for me today, after these lines in today’s reading:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

I have more questions.

Is it enough to create peace in the world in the spaces I occupy? No, but it’s a start.

Does it really matter how I love people and whether I prize their full human being? Yes, because everything stems from here.

How do I participate in the disordered values that are perpetuated by the idea and military execution of drones strikes? I think what I choose to express about power, understanding, and love either challenges the idea of drones or uplifts it. The world I love is drowning in violence. ?Where, on this ship, can I puncture a hole to release some of those rough waters, knowing this is will not save me, but done in the daily practice of what I so fervently believe is what we all seek: peace.

We’re Moving to New York

We’re moving to New York.

I’m going into an MFA program in literary nonfiction at Columbia University.

Our life is nuts. Lines are blurring. Days are running together.

Our house is up for sale.

We keep driving to New York to investigate and make decisions.

Life is…nuts.

This pic is a reflection in the window. You can see, Isaiah sleeping in the car, Nick doing email on his cell phone, and New York buildings all around.

Welcome to the next phase of my life.

One Act Play: Am I a Hipster?

Am I a Hipster: A One Act Play About Moving To New York

Setting: Dinner Table, Spring Night in Cleveland 6:30pm

Two parents, one four year old eating a huge bowl of chocolate pudding for dessert

Empty plates in front of everyone, cleaned from a night of chicken burritos.

Nick: I was pinged by one of my coworkers who asked if we made a decision about the move.

Lisa: Uh-huh.

Nick: I told her that we’re deciding between Riverdale and some parts in Brooklyn. ?Do you know what she said?

Lisa: She can’t believe we’re thinking about Brooklyn.

Nick: Yes. And do you know why?

Lisa: Something about hipsters, I’m sure.

Nick: Yes! She said,’I never pictured you a hipster.’

Lisa: (laughs)

Nick: Wait. ?What’s a hipster?

Lisa: You don’t know what a hipster is?

Nick: I mean, what IS a hipster?

Lisa: Do you want my definition or, like, a real definition.

Nick: Either. Both.

Lisa: Well, it’s like that one guy said the other day. You don’t own something specific, like a lawn mower. ?There’s only one, and it’s all community shared because it’d be considered cool to not own anything so you don’t own anything.

Nick: Oh man. That’s me! Give me another definition.

Lisa: It’s like-

Isaiah: Excuse me!

Nick: Because I really want to know-

Isaiah: Excuse me!

Lisa & Nick: Yes, Isaiah?

Isaiah: I have a definition.

Lisa: You have a definition for “hipster?”

Isaiah: Lazy. It’s someone who is lazy.

Lisa: (laughs) Awesome. (stop laughing) Wait a second. You’re right! Lazy people who can’t think of fashion for themselves, so they go by what’s trending.

Nick: (grabs laptop) I’m looking this up.

Lisa: (puts plates away)

Isaiah giggles, slowly impacted by sugared pudding.

Nick: It says someone who follows trends and is an artis-, artisan- artisnal – look, I can’t even pronounce it. ?That must mean I’m not a hipster.

Lisa: Artisinal?

Nick: Someone who lives in gentrified areas. Ohhhh.

Lisa: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Nick: And…what is this word? E-f-f-e-t-e

Lisa: Effete?

Isaiah: You said feet.

Sugar Cleanse Letters, Day 2

Dear adrienne,

Forgive the staccato, unrelated points in this letter with no transition: it’s day 2 and I’m noticing everything. ?My ability, though, to put it all together, is nil.

I notice how after I eat, even when I’m satisfied and no longer hungry, I notice the Want comes alive. ?I Want something crunchy, salty popper in my mouth. ?I like the feel of crunch against my teeth, grinding in the back. ?And cauliflower doesn’t have the same zing. ?I keep asking myself why I’m doing this, why am I putting myself through this when there are so many other ways – less restrictive than this path – that would deliver similar results. ?To be truthful, I don’t know why but the challenge of it entices me to keep going.

I face day 3 tomorrow and am scared. ?I’ll be traveling for three days, and although I have the support of my partner and frenzy of my little one to keep me busy and occupied, I’m worried about the road. ?I’m worried about the Want overtaking. ?But I’m packing healthy alternatives and will keep my journal on hand to jot down the times and moments that I’m craving. ?The Want is strongest around 2pm. ?What’s funny is that I’m not a sweet tooth. ?I’m not a big chocolate eater, I can’t really stand oversweetness, and am allergic to a lot of tree fruits. ?What’s hard to say no to are the carb loaded tempations of rice, gourmet breads, a touch of boursin on a cracker, and pasta. ?Things that aren’t inherently bad for you, but the indulgence of them will toxify the body with sugar.

I drank coconut water today and didn’t realize it had a little bit of sugar in it. ?Natural, of course, but sugar nonetheless. ?I felt like a failure and dreaded the idea of starting all over again ?I noticed the failure feeling and wondered where it came from, why would I let one unintended mistake set me back. ?I ran into the perfectionism. I noticed it and moved on. ?I’m not starting over. ?I’m continuing. Tomorrow. Day 3.

This past Sunday I celebrated Easter, a time of renewal and celebration in my faith. ?I was able to enjoy it reasonably without an overabundance of sugar. ?Everywhere I look I notice how much we, as a society, consume that is not real or natural. ?It’s made me question how much of my life is real and natural.

My family just completed an epic purge to prepare for our impending move and I never felt better about letting go, and moving toward a vision of myself that is healthier, less reliant, even, and deliberate. ?I don’t know where this cleanse is taking me, and I truthfully don’t even know why I’m insistent on doing it now…but it feels right. ?It feels timely.

I’m resisting the urge to keep apologizing for my writing — I’m tired and feel strange.

Thanks for being in this world, adrienne.

Lisa

———————————————————

Breakfast: egg white omelette, dollop of guacamole

Lunch: quinoa, chili with grassfed organic beef, fresh spinach

Snack: greens salad w/ grilled chicken, hot tea

Dinner: brown rice, shitaake mushrooms, lemon chicken

Dessert: T of peanut butter

Sugar Cleanse Ain’t Just About the Sugar

After the book tour and consuming countless hours of facilitated dialogues about healing, suffering, and trauma, I decide to go on a sugar cleanse. ?To be truthful, I don’t know why, but in my body, I feel the need to release things that aren’t mine. ?I’m not sure it’s possible to explain it well over a a computer, or really in words, but I knew I had to do something when my sleep turned into interrupted confused states, and my once razor sharp memory began fuzzing out simple details. ?I’ve had body work done, I even went to acupuncture. ?I’ve run, planked, yoga’ed, and drank more water than I ever had and, still, something(s) are lingering. ?I need some thing(s) to be released. ?Things that aren’t mine. Trauma that isn’t mine that is clinging to my cells, draining me, weighing me down.

A contributor from the anthology and new friend, adrienne maree brown, recently did a 21 day sugar cleanse and to be honest what attracted me to it were her Facebook posts about how difficult it was. ?As strange as this sounds, I wanted something else to take my mind off the stress of moving, the unknown of going back to school, the vestiges of the anthology’s emotional turmoil. ?I began prepping a few days ago and experienced terrible withdrawal symptoms. ?I had diarrhea, chills, pseudo flu symptoms without the body aches. ?That was just the prep. ?Then came the headache of all headaches. ?I could barely function that day and Nick wondered if I was taking on too much. ?I could barely care for Isaiah. ?Then, boom, the next day I woke up refreshed, energized, and my face feeling as smooth as a baby’s bum. ?I took the weekend to enjoy the holiday and eat some favorite foods (filipino kare kare with rice! artichoke and spinach dip on pita chips! a margarita!) and managed to steer clear of marshmallow peeps and Easter candy.

Today was my first day. ?And the one thing that saved me? ?I WAS PREPARED.

After an egg white omelette with fresh spinach, tomatoes, and avocado, I prepped an organic grass fed beef chili with beans for lunch, and then traveled with a can of lentils, brown rice, chicken, and spinach for dinner.

It worked. ?I wasn’t hungry at all. ?My energy was even and felt attentive and aware of my body.

My intention for this cleanse is prompted by intense curiosity, need for challenge, but primarily health. ?After nearly 2 months of heavy travel, I feel the need to make my own food, drink more water, sleep well, and rid my body of emotional and physical toxins.

I’ll be writing letters to adrienne to help keep my focus and accountability up. ?I’ll post them here on this blog and hope you enjoy the journey.

Here are some tips from adrienne that I will be incorporating, and here is the cleanse that I will be doing. ?I can tell you this right now: I’ll need the support and the company.

A Selfish Lent, An Easter of Joy

It’s been a selfish Lent, and I liked it that way.

While the rest of the Catholic world pined and prayed away their 40 days on sacrifice, obligation, “giving it up to the Lord,” and fasting on their human favorite goodies like alcohol, chocolate, and bad words, I’ve done something I’ve never done before: I made a whole new life for myself.

That’s right. ?I put into action the plan I’ve had for years and finally did my 40 days of genuine ministry in the topic that draws me ever closer in enraged fascination: sexual violence. ?It’s time, it being Holy Saturday, and the Easter Vigil tonight, to share what I’ve done, how I did it, and why I’m giving up giving things up for Lent in lieu of putting into action a new course of living.

One of the first memories I had of Lent as a child was being given a cardboard box to donate all my coins and extra change during the forty days leading up to Easter. ?Because of my late February birthday, I always received money in the mail and carried around a guilty conscience that I should give my money into the donation box. ?I did. ?Every year. ?Whatever birthday money I received, I folded it up and pushed it through the skinny slot so children in some other part of the world could eat for the next few months. ?The unknown person got a bowl of rice, I got my birthday cake and mom’s homemade lasagna. ?Seemed like I should be happy with that deal.

But I wasn’t. ?And I wasn’t a spoiled child. ?I rarely received money and I didn’t spend it. ?There were no allowances to save, so anytime money came across my way, I would save it for something special that I wanted. ?But I dreaded Lent because of it’s inevitable alignment with my birthday. ?It was the one day of the year that I wanted to do what I wanted, a day that I could do and be all the things I wanted with no apology or reason. ?But Lent curbed that for me as a child. ?This was my introduction to Lent and to the concept of charity: it forced me to give up the one day I waited for all year.

Lent is often focused on the solemnity. ?The suffering. ?The human darkness that temporarily triumphs the supposedly inherent light in us. ?The words ring like bells repent, make way, offering, repent, sacrifice, repent, repent, repent.

A lifetime of growing up Catholic with Catholic rituals, prayers, and worship service formed my conscience to be acutely and painfully aware of suffering. ?It wasn’t until natural adult maturation that I begun to understand Lent in the context of my own strengths and limitations: charity never made sense to me. ?Giving the extra never made the impact that I always wanted to see.

For me, the depth of poverty and corrupt infrastructure of leaders and politicians evaporated whatever hope I experienced from volunteerism and random acts of kindness. ?Don’t get me wrong: I believe in the necessity and power of charity and sharing resources with the marginalized. ?But 35 Lenten seasons later, I no longer found it moving to simply stop drinking soda and going to mass an extra day of the week to feel a deeper connection to something Larger than myself.

When I began the Dear Sister anthology, I shied away from revealing that much of it came from my desire to do something with my faith. ?The focus on the anthology is on survivors and their stories, admitting or narrating my story felt and feels distracting. ?Beside the point. ?Needlessly detailed. ?But in processing it these past few months, it’s essential to stop hiding faith and begin living it in the most authentic way we can imagine. ?Lent, for me, needed to go beyond sacrifice. ?It had to be about creating something.

I formatted the book tour to reveal my innermost longings about life and faith: activating community members to care. ?The dialogues were facilitated in a way that I hoped to radicalize the notion that non-surviving community members and allies were, essentially, the heart of transformation. ?Their ability to listen, believe, and love is the only way forward in eradicating sexual violence. ?What other way could there be? ?And ?yet, over and over, the communities did not understand this. ?Still, the onus and responsibilities of transforming the world to a more peaceful and just existence fell on the ability of survivors to tell their story and be labeled “strong.” ?Their choice to report, not ability to heal, is the focal point of justice. ?Their health and safety is secondary to their willingness to cooperate with state’s notions of jurisprudence.

For this Lent, I decided to create the conversations that I thought would uplift the survivors and help heal communities so they are stronger and able to more readily address the issue of power and sexuality in their communities.

Perhaps it was my unwillingness to give up meat on Fridays, or maybe it was the my shrinking belief in the veracity of the gospel, but I decided to create a new Lenten practice for myself and speak what I wanted to speak, step out of the cave of fear and assumption that someone else would do the work and just do it myself. ?I had to. ?Not only was the orthodox Lenten practice boring me, it was killing my spirit. ?I decided to take this Lent to live the way I wanted my life to be lived: truly for others.

I made this Lent about me. ? Me serving others, not me giving up pleasures. ?In some ways it was selfish. ?And it never felt so good. ?A new Lent made a new Easter. ?The renewal I experienced was not shiny or even pretty. ?Folks forget that rising from the dead isn’t all glory for the rest of us. ?Death’s stench lingers until we fully escape the tomb, and only than does the open wind cleanse us.

I am emerging from this tomb and leaving behind tattered garments of a woman who worked for the church, who prioritized the feelings of others over the well-being of the marginalized. ?My Easter is not of sunshine and sweetness, but of an earthy grit that comes from digging out of that grave, a smell of soil and sweat, and even a little bit of brokenness, still. ?It is an Easter of joy, of smeared dirt marks on my face, and exhaustion beyond bodily fatigue.

This is me crawling out of my cave.

Day 13 of Book Tour: Anger Comes with Safety

One thing I didn’t expect was the anger. ?First came love. ?Flooding everything afterward, the anger came.

I made it to southern California, a surprising haven for me. ?Most of the people I know in the midwest and east coast tend to generalize SoCal with broad, unfair strokes tainting it with the superficiality of Hollywood. ?For me, though, SoCal has always been a place for family, healing fun, and roomfuls of laughter.

When I got to LA, my family here immediately greeted me in typical Filipino fashion: a big party with lots of food and plenty of loving attention. ?After so many days in hotel rooms, other people’s apartments, and every kind of mode of transportation – to be surrounded by love gave me a sense of relief. ?A relaxing that I didn’t know I needed.

What I didn’t expect to find today was the anger. ?An uncomfortable realization of how angry I am at the world for not caring about the people and things I care about. ?In almost a childlike way, obstinate with no reason, I feel stubbornly inflexible about wanting others to care about sexual violence, communities, and healing. ?After meeting so many contributors, and reflecting upon how many survivors of rape and sexual violence are already in my life, I felt nauseatingly angry. ?It came in waves. ?They were powerful and unrelenting.

I’m tired. And that’s when I’m easily overcome by unmanageable anger. ?It happens late at night, like now, when I find no solace in the stars or the mystery of life. ?The anger comes when I am in the company of survivors who have worked nearly their entire lives learning how to love themselves and others again, and in their company, realize how few people truly do that kind of work – survivor or not – and how necessary that process is to undertake. ?I grew angry in the reality that the world has ignored the voices of so many, turned its back on the vulnerable, and forgotten about the ones who didn’t survive at all. ?The simple unfairness got to me tonight.

I think I’m reacting out of love. ?I genuinely love the contributors that I have met and spent time with face to face. ?I’ve poured over their work for years and now, meeting them in person, has generated a warm connection to each person that I meet. ?In getting to know them, I realize that most of them have been raped and/or abused, and the realization comes in waves again – very different than editing their work on the page – that pierces my heart with an acute sense of injustice and confusion.

How can this kind of trauma exist? ?How did they live through it? ?Even after all this time, I still can’t fathom the strength to move beyond the unimaginable pain and betrayal some of the contributors have experienced. ?I knew all these things before through their literary writing, but not with my heart. ?To hear them read their work puts the anthology in a new level of meaning and existence. ?It is a living, breathing entity; a collection of hearts and souls and thoughts and tears. ?It is a living book of stories.

Realizing that I am loved and safe with my family here frees me to feel what comes. ?What came today was the anger. ?The anger that rape exists. It is in existence. ?Right now, as I type this, someone is being raped. ?And that’s another person who would need to read the anthology, and that enrages me. ?I must be the only writer in the world who wishes no one wanted or needed to read her book. ?I must be the only writer in the world who actively works to make her own work irrelevant because that would mean the end of sexual violence. ?I must be the only writer in the world who wishes her book wasn’t needed in the way that it is.

The anger comes.

How do you know you love someone? ?For me, today, I know I love someone when I feel anger at the injustice of their suffering and pain. ?I do not take on other’s trauma or process, but I love the people I am meeting on this book tour. ?I love them. ?And that love leads me to a place of deep reflection and sadness. ?Although the book is about hope, I had to rake out the trauma. ?Sometimes I think it is trapped inside me.

The anger comes.

Day 12 of the Book Tour: Everything, Especially Life, is DIY

I’ve got one week left. ?In one week, I’ll be on plane flying home to Cleveland. ?The west coast sweep of the book tour will be over. ?Years of thinking, months of planning have gone into each event and then, poof, it will all be a memory.

I’ve never been on a book tour and I had to figure out how to do it. ?It was all DIY. ?Makes sense. ?The book itself was a DIY from the start. ?I think that’s one of the things I’m most proud: I finished it. ?It may have taken 13 years, it may have consumed the last 4 years of my life, but I finished it. ?I’m in an exhausted state right now, unsure what my next steps are going to be, half praying that somehow those steps will reveal themselves to me.

But ?I know better than to do that half prayer. ?I know that things most important in our lives are never revealed to us, they must be explored with tireless curiosity. ?And then built.

I built Dear Sister not just for you, but for myself. ?It’s a space where I wanted to learn about the intersection of complexity and love. ?It has not disappointed.

Day 11 of Dear Sister Book Tour: Thoughts from the Road

I’ve been on the road. ?Two pieces of luggage full of old clothes and fresh books right off the press. ?The books are all the same title. ?It’s my book. ?It’s a collection of letters, poetry, and prose I put together about four years ago. ?It’s taken this long to get it out in the world, and it’s taken this long to get myself out into public spaces to talk about it.

I often struggle with how to talk about rape. ?There are so many ways I can talk about it – prevention, healing, justice, trauma, community, global epidemic, silence, culture – that I find myself, sometimes, at a loss for words. ?I fill the spaces I’m in with words, yes, but the real words, the ones I have been searching for for a long a time, still, have not yet arrived. ?It saddens and worries me. ?I hope those words come. ?I crave the process that will give me the insights, but I can’t have them now. ?I’m still IN it. Therefore I can’t have an insight in what is still occurring. ?The process can only be an afterward. ?This simple statement frustrates me, too. ?I want to have my own words, not the ones on repeat that come automatically during the Q&A. ?They are genuine, but those words don’t reveal the complexity I am experiencing. There is so much complexity.

There is a time for hope and a time for brokenness. ?Oddly, during this book tour, I’ve found that I can be both; my body can handle being both. ?It’s usually the people that populate the world that can’t handle the duality. ?It truly is extraordinary, our need to know if we are one thing or another. ?“Both” — is countercultural. ?Being more than one thing is too much, too difficult to grasp.

But not for me.

There is a joy and brokenness I feel on this book tour. A solemn understanding of the gravity of what I am bringing into the spaces I am presenting or facilitating. ?It’s like a permanent twilight in my soul. ?A dimming of the day that never happened. ?That is what violence and trauma have done to us. ?And, still, the joy of meeting the contributors whose work has occupied my life for years now is a wonder to experience. ?They bring their pieces to life, to an emotional level of existence that could not be enlivened by the page or screen. ?There is something projected by the actuality of a person; their voice, skin, they way their eyes scan their page, and then look up, open their mouths, and tell a story that is true. ?A story of violence. ?A story of survival. ?A story that birthed itself out of their minds and onto the page for the world to consume.

It’s a joy and sorrow I cannot explain.

I keep saying to myself that I’ll find the words. ?Maybe the words will come tomorrow. ?Maybe the words will come at the next event. ?Maybe.

nhà cái tặng tiền cược miễn phí tháng 20192014 8th Annual State of the Self Address

I delivered this talk in an unprecedented way this year. ?My annual birthday reflection was given at the very end of a reading and talk I was giving in Seattle about the anthology, to a packed house at Black Coffee Coop where they laughed, clapped, and wildly cheered and say Happy Birthday. ?The lyrical parts of the essay – I actually SANG them ?into the mic. ?Me! ?My terrible singing voice. ?Fear, be gone. ?I did it! ?I gave the address to a crowd. ?Bucket list shortened.

The other day I caught a lyrical moment while I was cleaning.? That iconic song was playing, “to everything, turn turn turn. There is season turn turn turn.”? Nearly everyone knows it.? It’s based a popular Ecclesiastes passage in scripture that poeticizes that for everything in life, there is a season.

As I was folding laundry, I found myself singing along, “A time of love, a time of hate, a time of war, a time of peace.”? My attention drifted in and out of the song, and at one particular moment when I drifted in, the lyrics are “a time to rend, a time to sow.”? But when I heard is a “time to wren, a time to sow.”

The actual lyrics say a time to:

To rend R-E-N-D is to shred something violently into pieces.

Sow. Would put all of that back together.

But what I heard is a time to

Wren. W-R-E-N. Meaning the small, brown-feathered songbird with a perky head.? Although a noun, I thought turning wren into a verb was a clever way to communicate a time to fly.? Since the music group who sang this classic song was called The Byrds, I figured this is what they meant.? At time to fly.? It made sense.

To sow, I thought it meant a time to cultivate the soil, to till the earth.

As I look back on the past year, on what 34 revealed to me, I think it was year to rend. R-E-N-D.? The ever growing matrix of raising a 4 year old in this world that would love nothing more than to squeeze out every gentle, creative, non-linear tendency rends my zealous ambition to preserve and develop it.? The razorblades of rejection letters from online publications, magazines, and journals rend my delicate tongue as a writer.? Simply existing sometimes rends my dreams of love, justice, healing, and simply allowing myself to be imperfect in a dangerously hypocritical world that is itself flawed but seeks to emotionally persecute and criminalize the imperfect.

To rend R-E-N-D is where 34 began, but it didn’t end there.

Tonight.? Tonight I stand before you in my time of wren – W-R-E-N – flying, soaring. being a person who has finally come into her own song, as someone who decided that I’m finished tilling the soil.? It’s time to wren.? It’s time to fly.

Tonight my flight comes full circle, as I stand here in Seattle, the very place where, 13 years ago I ruminated about a thought I had for a book that may help survivors of rape and sexual violence know that they are not alone.? Tonight I stand before you as its anthologist, a person who emerged out of the ideas of “maybe someday I will do that” and into the light of “I did that.”? I am 35 years full of beauty and brokenness.

I believe that, as woman of color activist by quilt trade, Carolyn Mazloomi, once said of her decision to pursue quilting as her life craft, “I left my job to quilt because I believed I deserve a life of joy.? I deserve to go after my dreams.”

I believe I deserve a life of joy.? And as a women of color declaring that I deserve the opportunity, the unequivocal moment to express who I am without backing down in fear of racism, sexism, kyriarchy, catcalling, harassment, mockery, heckling, or anything else to silence the voice that I have come to know and love as my own for the past 35 years, yes, I believe I deserve a moment to say I deserve a life of joy.

I believe you do deserve that, too.

This is my song.? This is me.? This is 35, a time, indeed, to WREN. W-R-E-N.