A Break from Blogging

As of today, I have decided to take a long break from blogging and social media to focus on college work and other important areas of my life. I plan to continue to give thought to how I want to restructure my business and this website as well. I’ll be back sometime in 2016. Have a great rest of the year. Cheers!


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Building Trust

Landscapes & NatureLaird Schaub is a group process facilitator, educator and consultant. He was a community mate and co-parent when I lived at Sandhill Farm intentional community in northeast Missouri, which he co-founded 41+ years ago. He also happened to be Geoph Kozeny’s best male friend and executor of his estate. He writes an interesting and informative blog called Laird’s Commentary on Community and Consensus, and he generously allows me to re-post his work.

The following piece on trust building is relevant to peace and social justice, as well as research and personal growth work I am doing. It resonates with a larger, philosophical perspective in terms of an essay in progress concerning the war between men and women, collective trauma, Dieter Duhm and Tamera Healing Biotope’s healing work in the field, cultural creation and paradigm shifts. Yeah, there is personal, healing work required to move into the visionary field, co-creation and implementation of a vision of trust in love. This work is deeply political and crucial to be doing, from where I sit this morning.

Thanks, Laird!

“I was working this past weekend with Durham Central Park, a newly built intentional community in downtown Durham NC. We ended the first day with a focus on trust. While there was quite a bit of trust that had been built by folks that had gone through the fire of development together (it took about six years of faith and dedication to turn their dream into a beautiful three-dimensional reality), people also noted that there have been some bumps in the road during the first year of living together, and thus there arose the desire to give attention to building (or rebuilding) trust.

We wound up devoting about 30 minutes to going around the room inviting everyone to share what trust meant to them and how they build it with others. (The default is that people assume that others see trust as they do and offer what they’d like to receive—but as a community veteran I knew that it wasn’t that simple.)

From 28 people we got this range of responses:

o  Developing knowledge of the other person through a wide variety of ways, many of them informal (not just in the context of meetings or working together).

o  Assuming good intent.

o  Being emotionally authentic.

o  Following through on commitments (that you’ll do what you say you’ll do). [This was the most common response, mentioned by a quarter of the group.]

o  If favorable stories about a person match with independent observation.

o  If the person accurately shares relevant information (rather than withholds).

o  Establishing connection through empathy; feeling heard by the other person.

o  Being vague and avoiding engagement undermines trust.

o  Going through the fire together (considerable trust was built in the process of developing the community over a period of years).

o  Being consistently kind.

o  Trust and familiarity are not necessarily related.

o  Emphasizing showing up more than performance.

o  Willing to honestly share reactions.

o  Trust is built through repetition and time.

o  Acting with courage.

o  Acting for the good of the whole (in contrast with self interest).

o  Moving slowly enough to make sure everyone has been heard. Emotional expression needs to be authentic; not calculated or manipulative.

o  Trust is built on a wealth of common experience.

o  Predictability; deep knowledge of the other person’s background.

o  Honesty.

o  Sense of being in it together (fellow travelers).

o  Exchanges that are caring.

o  Feeling safe; honest and direct communication.

o  Being thoughtful and forward looking.

While this list unquestionably contains many similar comments (and probably few surprises), it’s noteworthy how rich it is and how varied are people’s points of entrée to trust—a concept that everyone immediately identifies as desirable, even though it turns out to come in more flavors than Heintz has pickles. All without anyone being off the wall or inappropriate.

If you reflect on this list you’ll be able to see the potential pitfalls. For example, if you highly prize direct, honest communication, you might experience kindness as pussyfooting around. Going the other way, direct feedback might land as an attack—which is not all consistent with caring. In such an exchange, each party may come away with the mistaken notion that the other doesn’t want to build trust, when the actual message is that the two parties go about it differently.

That’s the gold in this kind of exercise: uncovering that good people can reasonably have a wide range of preferred ways to create and nurture something as universally desirable as trust. Just because we all have belly buttons doesn’t mean we all build and sustain close relations the same way. Trust me.”

Families & People

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Black Love in California: Tupac Shakur

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A Daughter of Love

Flowers & Trees

Love Flowers

My daughter and only birth child, Emma Elise, was conceived in love during a solar eclipse. She is a love child brought up within the kind love fields of intentional communities and tribal connections. I’ve been a single mother from the beginning of vision and conception. We’ve traveled far and wide together in this country. My little warrior girl is fiercely independent and exceptionally compassionate, creative, intelligent, and a very hard worker.

Emma lives in the hood in West Oakland and has been on her own since she turned 18; she’s co-creating a community home with her lanky, long-haired, gardener-chef sweetheart Vincent. Emma never really liked cooking much while I was around to cook for her, but she appears to love learning how to cook well beside Vincent in partnership; she also works at Saul’s Deli & Restaurant and has become somewhat of a fixture now that she’s been there almost four years. She’s loathe to go to college because she likes money (they pay her well at Saul’s, and they love her there) and being free right now. She gets to choose her life, and my work as a parent has primarily been helping her to find what moves her.

Sweet Emma was heading into puberty at 12 when we lost Geoph Kozeny to another dimension. He was her surrogate father. They fell in love together when she was still a toddler at one, and she led the way into that new beginning for the three of us. Together, we pulled through the tragedy of death. Together, we stand strong and rise in Oakland, our home base now.

Like most people, especially young people like my child, Emma is way too busy. I don’t see her very often anymore. It’s a hard transition for a single mother to live alone in an empty nest; nevertheless, I’m seriously delighted to have had the opportunity to make the journey back into my own independence. My work as a mother-woman is now primarily about rediscovering what moves me and my own artistic vision and voice.

I finished my Black Love #2 painting yesterday! I’ve been hanging out with and developing my inner connection with Gustav Klimt, reveling in the jewels. :-)

When I miss Emma and don’t hear from her for many weeks because she’s actively engaged and involved in her juicy life (what I most desire for her), I wonder if she appreciates me? still loves me? Does she understand what it took from me to raise her in the way that I have chosen? I think the key is to appreciate myself really and let that be enough, yes? Yet today she sent me this video, and I’ve been crying because I feel humbled and grateful for how the Universe responds to my needs in ways that I can never predict or even begin to imagine. Emma is one of the greatest, and surely the most profound, learning experiences of my life. I’m certain I made many mistakes, given the very limited parenting and nurture I received as a child. Somehow my heart of kindness won the day in this game of life, thank Spirit for leaving that intact within me. And thank goodness for all the incredibly good role modeling we received in this area from co-parents at Sandhill Farm, The Farm in Tennessee, Twin Oaks and generally all of the communities we have visited and resided with. Deep gratitude wells up in my heart.

Emma says, “The story is not ours, but the meaning remains the same. I am obsessed with Tupac right now; that’s not an understatement. Believe me, it’s no joke.” Yeah… love makes me cry good tears and giggle at the same time. Seems there is much of life’s richness that makes me cry and laugh these days. I think it’s a good thing, and I’m building boats in my paintings, sprinkling the way with beauty and bliss.

Dear Mama, Tupac

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Spark Boys

If you see something that looks like a star
And it’s shooting up out of the ground
And your head is spinning from a loud guitar
And you just can’t escape from the sound
Don’t worry too much, it’ll happen to you
We were children once, playing with toys
And the thing that you’re hearing is only the sound of
The low spark of high-heeled boys

The percentage you’re paying is too high priced
While you’re living beyond all your means
And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
From the profit he’s made on your dreams
But today you just read that the man was shot dead
By a gun that didn’t make any noise
But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest was
The low spark of high-heeled boys

If you had just a minute to breathe and they granted you one final wish
Would you ask for something like another chance?
Or something similar as this? Don’t worry too much
It’ll happen to you as sure as your sorrows are joys
And the thing that disturbs you is only the sound of
The low spark of high-heeled boys

If I gave you everything that I owned and asked for nothing in return
Would you do the same for me as I would for you?
Or take me for a ride, and strip me of everything including my pride
But spirit is something that no one destroys
And the sound that I’m hearing is only the sound
The low spark of high-heeled boys

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Suzanne, Leonard Cohen

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she’s half crazy
But that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.
And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

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The Journey to the Center of the Mind: Reborn in Paint

DSC07660My first painting, Black Love #1, is nearing completion. I’ll let the painting speak for itself, albeit these photographs only give a glimpse compared to seeing the painting up close and feeling the colors, textures and energy. I’m happy with my fledgling work, although I don’t actually know how it stacks up in terms of “artistic value or talent” because I have little formal art training, with only limited exposure to the world of art… yet. :-) I’m looking forward to the class critique next Saturday, so I can hear and see how people respond to my work.

Reborn in paint! Catharsis happening and full speed ahead into awakening joy. Drawing hand finally freed up and countdown to midterm in Botanical Drawing next Monday. Spending many hours outdoors drawing this week … work it!









The Journey to the Center of the Mind, Amboy Dukes



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Stones Mood

Sympathy For The Devil

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Moonlight Mile


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Set Them Free

Landscapes & NatureHappy October! New beginnings are here now post-eclipse! Whoooooosh! Ever-evolving change, growth and blossoming is an interesting and rich process. Yeah! I give thanks for the journey, even though it is extremely arduous at times and thus requires extreme self-care.

It’s all about perspective… yep, excellent reminder from an ally. I discovered that an important piece of my BLACK post was incorrect in that it was generated from looking at the picture of new, fresh, relational love from a negative perspective, and I’m delighted to be corrected into a more positive viewpoint, with heart-connection intact.

I began my first black painting last Saturday. I’m glad I pushed through my resistance to going because the class was excellent and fun, too. There were a few insights during Sunday meditation about the class and this work in progress. I’m grateful to have an excellent mentor in Professor Nash to guide me through the murky waters. He hears me, sees me, and allows me to do what I want, plus he stands by to support the implementation of my vision. There is very deep wish fulfillment in this process of learning to paint with him, as well as in doing sculpture with Susannah Israel. Actually, I adore all of my creative endeavors, although drawing poses more of a motivational hurdle that I’m working through now. Learning from a skillful mentor makes all the difference in the unfolding. So now I begin to glimpse the blessings and abundant wealth shining within and through the black of my life. There are gifts to be gleaned from the grief and death sitting upon my shoulder, along with the heart I wear on my sleeve.

I’ve been looking at my first painting for almost a full week and can see that it needs a lot of detail work, as the ideas have percolated up from the foundation of the piece. The technical challenges will be fun to learn about and attempt to execute. I’m excited about the work and the story that’s unfolding in this painting. It’s a cooperative, collaborative painting about love, too, which is satisfying. And it’s very black for real… feels pleasing to me, even though it is far from finished. I plan to add a corpse for good measure.

If You Love Somebody, Sting & B. Marsalis

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Occupy My Mind

Occupy, Rising Appalachia

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