#14

a fox

in a moment of magic

little beams of light

to deeply connect to the world in a way others can’t

asks the question

which way to go

directions

asks itself

there is no fear of choosing the wrong way

the world is an opportunity

yes it walks

stepping into the uncomfortable space

to be resourceful

to figure out a way

all that abounds

is playful laughter

#6

i don’t care who gets the ring

who wears it

who has the lamps and the cleaning supplies and

don’t you know there are hearts now everywhere?

like the kind that said hellooooo

and after a long yawn

and that the stuff is no longer here

i don’t care

split it a million ways and could all be moved to the garbage dump

swimming in the Pacific gyre

sea of memories of times when they just sat

or spoke to tell story

and my heart goes up up

up up

rate goes up up

up

increase the value of the living beings i once (still do?) knew

as each inch of carpet is dissected like delicacy

everything has it’s price

but it won’t bring them back

neither will the picture frame

the desk

The vacuum

neither will the claims and tears and arguments of what a human heart is capable of feeling

that she didn’t have a limit on how much she put out

as did he

as did she

as did all of them

and my blood boils when i think of how we devour the unimportance of

what’s left

dilated and honed in pupils my heart beats at rebellious pace

to high pitched scream

in order to be grounded once again

in the midst of this greedy confusion

i hate

talking

about

this stuff

Commitment

I took a trip to Minnesota recently that came with a lot of unexpected detours. I went to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday and as the second stop on the Jwanouskos Ramos Wedding Celebration Tour.

We had an amazing time seeing the beautiful lakes and forest areas. So green compared to California! However, the time was sadly overshadowed by my grandmother's decline in health.

She was a strong woman with a huge heart — one that unfortunately was born with a defect. Her breathing became more and more difficult during the time we arrived such that she was admitted to the hospital the day after we flew in.

She knew. We all knew what was next. Though I tried to avoid the conversations and the subtle shifts, she was dying. In my head, her death was something that would happen way far off. Not when I was there. As time went on, it was clear she wasn't leaving the hospital. So the best we could do is make her comfortable.

Maybe it's the wrong segue, but I depended on my practices during this time. I have her and my weary family members lomi lomi massage. As the pain medications wore off, I sang her Ka Lei Aloha I Na Kupuna – a Hawaiian chant and lullaby that Brent and I sang for the new expectant mothers preparing for birth. It is a song about being surrounded by the love of the ancestors and understanding that you too are part of that love. I talked to her about my tai chi practice and the book on Russian breathing systems I was reading. I read her my poetry. I talked to her about the business Brent and I hope to create. I talked to her about my step daughter — who she told me to give the beanie babies in her basement. And I practiced yoga in the early hours of the morning to the rhythm of her strong yet forced breathing. I even was able to bind in Marichasana D on my tight side. I think it was even the day or day before she transitioned on.

My Grandma taught me so much about pain, death, and family during this time. I tried my best as a visitor from California to be there and be grounded, be compassionate for my family. And it was hard to do that. It was hard to see them come apart at the scenes and feel like though you wanted to, you couldn't. As if something kept you from it.

I was named after my Grandma and she was one of the strongest ladies I knew, who got things done. She didn't fuss or make a big deal about it. She was a nurse and she was used to long hard hours and endless self sacrifice. At the same time, she was fun and laughed a lot while she called you on your shit. Up until the last days she was talking, she was cracking jokes and speaking her mind.

She transitioned on surrounded by her family and so much love. I knew by the end of the week I was in the exact spot I needed to be and I was giving what I was meant to give.

In the days that followed, I didn't know what to do or how to help. So I began my day with yoga and tai chi. I figured that maybe if I could keep steady, my family could keep steady.

My family on my mom's side is a range personalities and A LOT of feminine energy. For some reason, people look at me and they go, "well of course Barbara does this crazy artistic thing that we couldn't think of or do." And I just am so adamant that the answer to that is, "yes! You can do it. You are capable of more that how you see yourself!" I probably get to be a little airy fairy for people if I start talking about it, so I try to just hold my tongue and not say anything unless people ask me.

But then the strangest thing happened… People started asking me about meditation, tai chi, yoga, eating vegetarian, art, music, storytelling, social justice, keeping in shape, martial arts and breathing. What? Me?

"I just do what I do."

So I started connecting more with my cousins, aunts, and uncles and on Instagram and Facebook, I'd post snippets of my practice. Mostly because without regular access to my teachers, I wanted to see and understand for myself what I needed to work on.

I even watched a yoga practice session with my brother who lightly chided me for moving too fast. He said to take my time with it.

"Yeah, see, when I was practicing, I loved up dog, you should take your time with it more. You're missing out on that stretch."

My cousin would ask me advice about breathing in yoga and how to get started at home because she wasn't ready to start going to a class. Another two cousins and I bonded over plants and essential oils. She is growing the Oxheart tomatoes that come from my Italian great grandfather (my Grandma Barbara's dad), who loved these tomatoes for sauce and just everything. In fact, my Grandma still has two living older sisters (96 & 106) and she said that the secret to her longevity was to eat tomatoes and have a little brandy every so often.

Here I'd been so secret about these holistic and artistic practices, considering myself to be the family anomaly and just like most things, I was looking myopically. My family was so supportive of me. Not who I tried to be or wanted to become, just everything I was at that moment, they saw as valuable and worth emulating. For that I am eternally grateful.

Part of me wonders about the synchronicity of this experience and wonders what my Grandma may have been trying to say. While I haven't always called or been able to visit, I never doubted for a second that she loved me deeply and truly saw me for who I am.

A couple hours after she passed, I was sitting in the family lounge with my relatives enjoying the memory of her and what she gave us. I was going through my email trying to find something about her ancestry to give to my cousins and I came across a lot of forwards of prayers and wishes and beautiful pictures from her. Then, I came on a direct message from her to me. She saw an email I sent about my upcoming play production and was sending me some money and wishing me luck. Matter of fact, supportive, and loving. I read it and it was a confirmation of everything I already knew.

So, "my practice" has taken a turn because I can longer see it as just for me and a source for my comfort solely. I see my family, my friends watching me and taking something from the one thing I do think I'm okay at — continuing to show up. This has made all the difference to me and propels me forward in dark times so that I can see those faces saying to me that they saw what I did and tried it for themselves.

Thank you and thank you to my beautiful Grandma for showing me how to continue day after day through the hardship with only love to guide you.

❤️

heartbeat 

heartbeat

resonating strongly with the beat of the drum

heartbeat

fiercely resounding

echoing uncannily in quiet halls and libraries

heartbeat 

paired with the breath

traveling across continents 

unser ocean water

from the quietest purple thunder

lightning flashing

heartbeat 

steady and true

heartbeat 

resting and syncing all around

heartbeat 

that serves as the impulse

for the first steps into swaying motion

heartbeat 

the kind that leaves a glow

so raw

filled with connection

filled with warmth and love

heartbeat 

strongly resonating

strongly pulsing

linking together the furthest parts of the globe

linking together the furthest people

they find a moment within this

heartbeat 

beating strong

still here

it gets to the point where you think 

i really don’t have any other option

that it’s the same old story 

same old annoyances

day by day

and you’re job is to just

take it

and take it

and take it

that’s your main job

is to just take it as it comes

to be “patient”

to be “accepting”

to never say anything

like it’s probably your problem

it’s probably you that can’t handle 

what life is giving you

so you need to step it up

doesn’t matter how frustrated or tired you get

and i’m tired…

lately, i’m tired

but i’m still listening

and i’m still trying to find a way in deeper

and i’m still willing to work

i’m still here

your own champion 

who does this outside pressure come from?

who is it that tells you that you somehow fall short?

who tells you that you need to fit in?

even though sometimes it seems that the space was meant for square blocks and you’re a round peg

the message you get is not accurate 

even if it comes from you

because truly you can do anything you want to do with your life

no matter what they put in your way

who tells you that you are good enough?

that they like you how you are today?

and even when you livened things up a bit

who told you they still like you?

who smiled when you made room for another person

because we’re all in this together

who knew that even if you made a mistake 

no one is perfect and no one expects you to be at every moment

sometimes you’re just nice to be around

sometimes it’s okay to make someone smile on a hard day during hard times

sometimes people like your quirkiness

sometimes they don’t care that you think too much

sometimes you’re doing just fine

sometimes it’s okay to let go a little more

and not worry

and not be scared

and not hold your breath

and not think about whatever goes on behind those eyes

sometimes it’s okay 

let me set the record straight

you are not too big

you are not too old 

you are not too much
you are not too little

you are not alone

you are not helpless
you have a voice

you are strong

you have power
you don’t have to get everything right

you don’t need to apologize

you don’t need to hide
you are intelligent

you are full of promise

you are capable
there’s no such thing as the perfect size

the perfect shape

the perfect color

the perfect way of talking

the perfect way of living

the perfect way of being
you are wise beyond your years

you see a world as an empty canvas

you know what to do
you are not the misunderstanding they’d put on you

you are not what you fear 

you are not crazy
you don’t need to fight them

you don’t need to control

you don’t need to hold on
you can do what you like

you can like what you like

you can enjoy what you like
and you can share what you love

with everyone

because you are strong

because you have heart 

because you are you