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I’m voting for her.

 

So many people came and sang for mom in her last days, she delighted in the music and the melodies. This song was especially poignant for me as I have been listening to this voice my whole life, and the comfort it brings me is akin to a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day.

My mom’s close friend (and my Auntie), Sandy wrote this song, inspired by a conversation with Mom about how The Work is not always done in one’s lifetime. Mom passed on from the world, leaving her latest project, restoring the Similkameen River, to her husband and community. Leaving her Work was very hard for Mom, but knowing she was a link in a chain of action allowed her to feel that she could rest, even though she worked right up until her brain could no longer function enough to write an article, or critically follow a conversation thread.

As I sat on Election night of 2016, with my mom and sister on the phone, looking at a bleak future, all I could think of was the 40 years of Work that Mom and the rest of the environmental community had done, all of the sacrifices the families of those doing The Work had made and the gains we had received as a society, were in jeopardy.

My mom’s legacy was in jeopardy.

For all of the links in the long long chain, and all of the future generations, for my mom and those like her who have served this country, this world, and The Work, for Mother Earth, who gives us all life, I’m voting for Her next week.

May we gain a representational leadership that protects the ability of future generations to live and love freely, rather than the monied interests of corporations and billionaires.

Thank you, Auntie. This song warms my heart.

Stone by Stone: Burying an activist, community builder, wife and mother.

We buried mom on Thursday

Thor’s Day, God of Thunder

Ruled by Jupiter and Sagittarius

Fitting for the Warrior she was

Dragon Lady

Defender of Earth

Her body, dressed in the splendid purple silk Autumn bought her years ago and

Unpolluted by fluids meant to preserve her flesh

Laid to rest in a simple pine casket

Handcrafted by a Colville man

Lined with a Pendleton blanket

A cedar filled pillow for her beautiful brain to rest on

Tucked into her time capsule were special stones

Her feather and staff and

The dragon box she cherished, filled with farewell notes of love and gratitude

 

Her community gathered

Friends, allies and

Hearts filled with gratitude for her tireless optimism in the fight for Justice

They spoke of her journalism

Her quest for Truth

Her penchant for framing conversations in a way that can be heard by those in power

Her commitment to Community, also

Barter Fair committees, the Tonasket Co-op, the Tonasket Community Cultural Center, Annual International Mother’s Day March for Peace

The list goes on: co-founder, board member, advocate, volunteer, ally

They spoke of her commitment to our Earth and

How she inspired them to take up action, that

Each citizen of the planet can make an impact, that

Everyone shares responsibility to keep our home for the next generation

She was honored by the Similkameen People of Canada for her dedication in

Helping restore ceremonial rights on the River

For helping them understand how to fight the Okanogan PUD in the US in

Their corrupt bid to build a new damn and

Destroy the sacred salmon run

This honor is great, as

Mom deeply respected the Indigenous Peoples, and yet

The white environmental community has historically not

Aligned with the needs or ways of

Indigenous Peoples

She was honored in song by the Hyde Family and

Upon Mom’s request, everyone sang Amazing Grace

I was overwhelmed by, and also grounded in,

Community

The women, my Aunties

Those who had grown the food,

Made the birthdays and weddings and so many parties, and

Rituals of Life happen, they

Came together and made the wake, funeral, and meal afterward happen

The men, my Uncles, they

Carried the casket, set the site, made the prayers and

Many quoted her in saying

“It takes a village” and

All honored Mom

Builder of Community

 

James did the rope science and tied the knots and

That way we didn’t need a machine so

We hoisted her into her Beloved Earth

By hand

Clutching the ropes tightly

Bracing our legs, we

Gently touched her down into that 10 foot hole

We shoveled the dirt

The huge mountain of dirt

So much dirt on top of Mom

Forcing myself to shovel and

Knowing it was only her husk, still

Fighting every moment to not yell

“Stop! She’s gonna suffocate in there!”

I continued to shovel with my brothers and my dad and sister and

As we slowly made our way home

I kept the panic at bay

No, we hadn’t forgotten Mom under all that dirt

That’s now her Forever Home

 

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

 

Friday morning dawned bleakly, what

Would I do with myself now that 7am wasn’t the time to get mom up and dressed?

I binge watched Netflix

“She’s Gotta Have it”

While drinking pots and pots of tea

At 4:30 am

 

I worried most about Rick

Lover, Partner, Husband, Coparent, and Ally of 35 years

Inseparable from almost the first day they met, together he and Mom

Raised children, founded and published a magazine for 20-plus years, made bread, stopped a mine and saved a mountain and a watershed, grew food, sued the Army Corp of Engineers and won, canned pickles, taught on the Colville Reservation, cared for and nursed many loved ones through death, volunteered in the community and

Loved each other passionately

Now, still young and healthy at 79

He mourns the love of his life

A love few are blessed enough to know

He is the strongest kind of man there is

The embodiment of feminism and

True Equality for All

A male who supports the females in his life

Not just with words, but actions and

Supported Mom in all ways, including

Nursing her during her six year battle against cancer and

Finally death

Always protecting her right to make her own choices

 

Mom’s love of and study of geology went far beyond

Simply learning how to read an Environmental Impact Statement

Everywhere we traveled by car Mom would explain and

Recite the geological formations and processes of the local landscape

She was enamored with stones and

Collected a few thousand pounds of rocks

During her 34 years in Chesaw

Delighting in the geology everywhere she went, she

Surrounded herself with stones and

People gifted her with stones and

Her favorite stone, a granite erratic boulder

Uncovered during a backyard excavation project

She had placed upon the hill behind her house

Her Sitting Stone

She chose it for her Headstone

 

Friday, after rising

All in a daze

We made plans to clean and decorate Mom’s grave

We collected some of her stones and

Headed back to the cemetery

In tears we raked and built a mound of the remaining dirt

Brainstorming how to make her gravesite

Insisting that it had to last a couple of hundred years I

Wanted Mom’s descendants to know who she was

When they came looking for their ancestor

Chris took the biggest of stones and began digging them in

Building a rock fortress around her edges

 

We worked at it for four days

Collecting rocks from the house and yard

Loading the truck

We brought at least a thousand pounds of those rocks to the cemetery

Amongst the hazy fog of grief and shock we

Discussed and ideated

Hugged and cried

Drank booze and smoked ganja

All the while steadily, but without a clear plan, moving forward

I like plans

I need plans

Plans make me feel better

We couldn’t make real plans without the erratic in place

Late on the third day

We had just placed the stones the erratic would rest on when

We spied Leroy rolling down the road with

The erratic in the bucket of his tractor

Of all of the days he could have delivered it

Like a miracle it showed up just then

 

Sometimes plans are less than Flow

 

On the fourth day

Still without a plan

We collected and delivered the

Mother Lode of stones

James and I bickered

I cried

Still no plan

I just wanted to collaborate on a plan that

Incorporated everyone’s ideas, meanwhile

Rick began to place stones with his usual quiet gentleness

Randomly placing with Intention

He led us as

One by one the rest of us followed him

We picked up Mom’s beloved rocks

Stone by stone we

Placed the rocks mom had collected

Circling inward with each stone we

Built a Cairn

An ancient Irish burial mound

She was very happy with our work

 

Covered in the rocks she loved

The rocks and Mom

Nestled between the mountains she loved and fought to protect

Now in their Forever Home

 

The building of Mom’s cairn was centering and

The process we needed as a family to bring to a close

Our collective journey in Mom’s disease and

In the nine weeks we spent together helping her die

A beautiful, dignified death

Now the five of us are bonded in

Our shared experience

Our collective grieving

Our love of Mom

Uniting us from her side of the veil

Where we shall all pass one day, but

For now we live and carry on her work

All of us

In our own ways

 

photo credit chad madden

Me too

Ok [deep breath], the first time I was 5. My parents had family friends over, their 12-year-old boy managed to get me away from everyone else. I haven’t been able to think about that family without hot shame flushing my face or disgust making me shake, ever since.

The second time I was 11, I was swimming when an adult family friend signaled me out of the water, I ran up to him all smiles before he grabbed me, right where our president likes to grab. It took years before I could look at that side of Osoyoos lake again.

The third time I was 13 and sleeping over at a friend’s house. She shared a room with her older brother. In the middle of the night, I felt his hand creeping into my sleeping bag. I never went back for another sleepover at that house.

The 4th time I was 12, in my orthodontist chair, he liked to cop a feel as he adjusted train tracks. I later learned he was banned, or whatever happens to dentists who aren’t allowed to practice because they’re perverts.

The 5th time I was 14 and my Uncle tried to kiss me. I’ve never told anyone about that before now.

5 times before I could even be considered a consenting adult. I’m guessing you’re thinking this is excessive and I must have asked for it. Maybe it was because I was curvy early? Perhaps my attitude? I was too friendly? It must be my fault somehow, right? After all, boys will be boys.

When I was in my early 20’s the one friend I had told about the incident at Osoyoos spilled my beans to the powers that be. The people of my community discussed this amongst themselves and I was forced to speak to a council of my parents and other community leaders about what had happened when I was 11. I was told that the man (at least 20 years my senior) was facing deportation back to his country, based on my account of what had happened, where he would face certain death. The pressure was overwhelming and the questions kept coming, I kept looking at my parents, desperately wanting someone, anyone, to be on my side. I was made to feel alone and this was almost worse than the violation I had experienced as a youth.

My daughter is 17, they refuse to ride a bike because they get constant catcalls. What I want for them, more than almost anything is to never experience what I and so many women experience, All. The. Time. I’ve lain awake nights, worrying about how I can protect them. I’ve not allowed sleepovers unless I knew the family and never if there’s an older brother or mom’s boyfriend around. My child deserves to be unmolested, whole, innocent and complete amongst themselves. This is a basic human right.

Why do we have to teach girls to be careful and safe? Why don’t we teach boys to respect girls and not to rape? It seems so simple to me. I am working hard to raise the kind of man I would want my daughter to marry, one who values and respects women, understands that everyone’s diverse strengths make up a strong team and most of all, one who understands what consent means. May he live in a world that values all people and one where respect for all life is paramount.

I wrote this post exactly a year ago, when the Access Hollywood video was released. I decided it was too private for me to post then, and buried it away. But here we are, a year later and the same story is circling – 1 in 3 women have been sexually abused or harassed in their lifetime. I’m not a victim, I’m a warrior… and a survivor. So this time I am sharing because perhaps my story can help swell the tide that will create a change in our world?

When a workout makes you cry, and it’s not because it’s a tough one.

Crossfit has a long standing tradition of creating workouts of the day, or WODs, in honor of service people who have fallen in the line of duty. Generally very tough, these workouts are referred to as Hero WODs. Typically the Hero WODs are performed on the day commemorating the event and include either weight or reps that correspond to a significant number to the fallen heroes. One of my favorite Hero WODs is the HotShots 19, dedicated to the 19 firefighters who lost their lives while defending homes in Yarnell, Arizona on June 30, 2014.

The Hero WOD is a symbol, and also a way to push ourselves through the toughest workouts, reminding ourselves of the fallen heroes, challenging ourselves mentally and physically to work harder, faster and with more intensity. For me the Hero WOD is a time to remind myself of how much a human can endure, with the right mindset. It’s also a way that I put myself, and my ultra privileged life, in the proper context. The “yes, this is hard but I’m alive and look what this hero and their families went through” self-coaching that allows me to push myself harder and tell myself “as long as I’m alive, I can do this.”

So, I was stunned, when checking the box’s blog before heading to Crossfit Up for class today, when I saw that the WOD was titled “Pulse” and was in fact a Hero WOD.

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The tears and horror of this week came flooding back, and at the same time I felt safe with my feelings being so much on the surface as I walked into the gym surrounded by people pushing themselves to extremes while wearing rainbow armbands (provided by the gym). I was amazed and thankful to see this level of awareness and thoughtfulness. While the act of creating a WOD with 49 reps of anything doesn’t solve the problems we face, or bring back loved ones who have senselessly lost their lives, it creates an awareness. And most of all, with the collective thoughts of those doing this WOD focused toward the fallen people, a ripple of good was sent into the universe, in the same way a prayer circle does. These athletes will go about their day, having connected to those cut down in Orlando, even for a brief hour, in a way that will not fade because they felt it, sweated it and pushed themselves, in memory of so many vibrant lives cut short.

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When I came home, I did a search and I found this one, and this one, and this one! For a sport with a history of making some really bad decisions with respect to transgender athletes, this awareness (albeit at the affiliate level) really makes me feel that the tide might be turning in our country. When ordinary, every day Americans care enough to memorialize the loss of innocent, mostly marginalized LGBTQ people, rather than fight about bathrooms, there may be some hope for normalizing our queer population.

And now, I’m wondering when we can finally say that Crossfit is every person’s sport, regardless of athleticism, age, or gender preference?

Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain!

Today is one of the oldest and holiest holidays in the Celtic tradition. Halloween or Samhain (sah-ween) is the time when we honor the harvest, the end of summer. It is this time when the veils between the spirit world and the physical world are thinnest. We decorate our homes with symbols of the harvest, carve faces into pumpkins, inviting in their lively spirits; and don costumes of ghoulish beasts to remind ourselves of death and to make it seem just a little less scary. We remember our dead and give thanks to be alive.

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We grew some of these and others were gathered at a farm outside of Santa Cruz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some seek communion with loved ones, others guidance from the ancient ones, and many quietly memorialize their dead with small remembrances and prayers. We are our great grandmothers and great grandfathers, they are in our bones, our eyes, our DNA. To honour them is to honour our bodies and our lives, to remember that from which we came and to give thanks for the bounty we are blessed with.

This is the night when the gateway between 
our world and the spirit world is thinnest. 
Tonight is a night to call out those who came before.
Tonight I honor my ancestors.
Spirits of my fathers and mothers, I call to you,
and welcome you to join me for this night.
You watch over me always,
protecting and guiding me,
and tonight I thank you.
Your blood runs in my veins,
your spirit is in my heart,your memories are in my soul.
With the gift of remembrance.
I remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within me,
and within those who are yet to come.

— A Prayer to the Ancestors by Patti Wigington

The end of the summer marks the end of the Celtic year, with November 1 recognized as the traditional Celtic New Year and the start of winter. It is a time for us to move inward to our warm homes, nest with our loved ones and practice gratitude for our many and bountiful blessings. Winter is a time of introspection and slowed growth, when we dwell with our thoughts which will become the seedlings of action that burst forth in the spring.

Maggie and John Currie

This year my family lost a dear friend, Jon Curry. Jon was a native of Washington state, a photographer, a Vietnam Veteran, a son, a brother, a sailor and the best friend of my Uncle Llwyd  who was like a father to me for the first several years of my life. Uncle Llwyd is gone too, he passed 6 years ago.

Unlce Llwyd wearing his famous patched outfit

I know they are both together somewhere, telling their stories, laughing hard about the hell they are raising and making art out of their experiences. When these great men passed, friends all over held memorials for them, calling up memories and remembering their legacy with respect and fondness.

So tonight, as candy passes hands and treats are traded in lieu of tricks, while my young son is learning about the spooky fun of Halloween, I am remembering my loved ones – my father, uncles, grandparents, my ancestors and all those who have come before me. Tomorrow my kids and I will feast with our dead. I’ll tell my kiddos stories about each of their ancestors and together we will keep their memory alive for another year.

Our Samhain altar for our dead.

May the ancestors deliver blessings on you and yours…
May the new year bear great fruits for you…
May your granted wishes be as many as the seeds in a pomegranate…
May the slide into darkness bring you light…
May the memories of what has been keep you strong for what is to be…
May this Samhain cleanse your heart, your soul, and your mind!
— Traditional Samhain Blessing

Thank you for taking the time to read my sharing. Blessed Samhain, Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.

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When Work is Play and Play is Work

Dylan sweeping
Tonight my son found his little toy laptop in a basket of toys. He pulled it out and started typing “letters” to his daddy. After a few minutes, he prompted me to ask him to play with him.

 

Me: Will you play with me?
Son: I have to work.
Me: (stifles a giggle and a sob at the same time) Ok, will you play with me when you’re done?
Son: (types furiously for a minute and then closes laptop) Ok, now I am done with my work, I can play with you Mommy.

I had such a reaction to this. Being a single, working parent means that sometimes I have to say no to playing because I am (insert activity required for daily existence) and then I have to make myself stop and just play with him, which feels hard, like I’m working at it. So of course the guilt starts in strong when he’s showing what I am modeling as not being available to him…

IMG_6151But then I thought that maybe modeling working and then stopping to play is a good thing. Maybe I’m not abandoning him and “scarring him for life” in doing so. Maybe instead what he is learning about how to amuse himself – and learning that sometimes we play and sometimes we work – is positive?

Aye yay- it’s all just a guessing game, this parenting thing. I often ponder that it must have been much simpler when we were in small villages or tribes and the kids literally “played” at what the adults were “working” at, there wasn’t much difference between the two activities then. Children learned how to do the things required in life because they played at doing them from the time they were old enough to hold something in their hands. They mimicked their parents work until they were able to start helping, between the ages of 3 and 4.

In a lot of ways, I think the expectation I have on myself, as a parent, to always be available on my children’s schedule to do what the they want to do is an unrealistic expectation and may set my children up for not being able to be resilient and resourceful when they are in need.

How do you handle your child’s playtime requests? Are you always available?

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I Took My Daughter to GCUC 2015 and This is What We Learned

The 4th annual Global Coworking Unconference was held in Berkeley, California last week. It was an amazing event, and I really felt like this was the year that GCUC grew into it’s own. The attendance was the usual mix of people looking to start or just starting their coworking spaces, veteran operators/owners, vendors and people in the general shared office and real estate world. Everybody came excited to learn, share and make new connections and see friends they hadn’t seen in a year.

The irony for me was that, even though GCUC was in my own back yard, I wasn’t able to participate as much as I have in years past. I’m happy to say my kids come first for me these days and well, they did last week too. Actually, I decided that Thursday was “Bring Your Daughter to GCUC Day” and had my 15 year old join me. She loved it and was disappointed when I told her she had to skip GCUC on Friday to attend school.

 

Bring-Your-Daughter-To-GCUC-Day

Bring-Your-Daughter-To-GCUC-Day

Anyway, what with all of my mom duties, I missed the entire unconference (my favorite part) and only caught one panel. I did, however, get to introduce my daughter to my long time coworking friends, connect with some new faces and, as expected, I came away with a great feeling about the coworking world and the possibilities it offers to help people work happier.

So when I pondered my biggest takeaway I realized that it it was simple. We hear it all the time from new people entering the industry, whether they’re touring our spaces, calling and asking questions about how to run a coworking business or attending GCUC for the first time: “Everyone was so friendly!” or “I felt so comfortable asking questions!” and “I was surprised at how open and helpful everyone in coworking is.”

This is my take-away: We collaborate. For us it’s about coopetition, not competition.

As an industry, we are changing the way businesses interact.

I love this about us. I love that we open our spaces to all forms of business, that when people join our communities they don’t compete with each other. That even when people who would traditionally see each other as competition meet in a coworking space, they open up and share ideas, sensing an opportunity for collaboration, rather than a potential threat to their individual businesses. In fact, we as an industry see that our businesses and the businesses of our members are enhanced by collaboration. Coworking people share “trade secrets” with each other openly. We share business concepts, financial models, community building best practices. We help new spaces to open and provide them with the mentorship needed to allow them to succeed. This open and supportive environment has allowed us, as movement seedlings, to grow and flourish into a real industry. And the corporate world is taking notes.

For a long time, there was a sense that if the coworking movement became “about” business that we would lose our authenticity, our community roots. That the five core values would be forgotten in the search for profits. I think that it’s just possible that what may happen instead is the corporate business world will learn more from us than open plan seating and big community tables. They’ll learn the coworking industry offers more traditional businesses knowledge that through the values of Collaboration, Openness, Community, Accessibility and Sustainability, businesses can increase employee engagement, productivity, innovation and enhance their bottom lines.

My daughter is going to enter the world of work some time in the next 8 years. I’m excited to know that we are building a future where it’s expected that we care about our members, each other and about making this world just a little better. One happier coworker at a time.