award-winning documentarian: radio + music + photography
The Rabbi called while we were driving Izzy to his middle school basketball tournament. It was a packed car. Jay answered the phone. After a few moments his eyes became wide, his chest began breathing with a contained intensity that only I could see. He needed to pull over, but couldn't. Then something shifted. He took a deep breath, compartmentalized the information, and focused on getting us to the game on time. The call ended. I was curious to find out what happened, and respected his choice to wait and tell me in the right time. Obviously, the news was huge. Three hours later, after we attended the basketball tournament, had lunch, and came home, Jay and I went to the bedroom and closed the door. I knew a mystery bomb was about to drop. He told me of our new friend (we moved to Oregon from California 19 months ago), a therapist and father to a 12 year old twin daughter and son, husband of a wise, beautiful, and deep woman who came together to feast at our table one month before, whose bunny we house sat while they went on vacation, this therapist, father, husband, friend, son, cousin, and brother took his life.
"WHAT?" I said confused and nauseated as if being punched hard in the gut by this shocking news. It literally took the wind out of me. I am often very astute at reading people and clearly I had no idea how much our friend was suffering. That night Jay and I went to the house to pay our respects and offer support.
Upon coming home, we told the kids.
"WHAT? OH MY GOD. THAT IS SO SAD. HOW? WHEN? WHY? HOW COULD HE DO THAT MAMA? WHAT ABOUT HIS KIDS?" they said in a cacophony of mixed pain and confusion together. We all hugged. Jay and I said something like..."Sometimes people hide their suffering so much that they can't stop suffering and hiding pain makes it worse and worse. It is so important to share your sadness with people you trust when it comes up. We need to feel it ALL THE WAY without holding back to help it let go."
The next morning Jay left for a weeklong business trip. I gave the kids a choice to come with me to the memorial and burial or stay with friends that night and into the next day. Promptly, I brought Sofi to her friend's for a sleepover and into the next day. Izzy was on the fence.
I woke before sunrise for yoga, meditation and journal time before waking Izzy with a back rub and tea. He was still on the fence. I said to him, "When horrible, scary things happen, we have the opportunity to turn toward whatever it is and really take it in. Blink only when you must and keep your senses wide open with curiosity about what is happening. If you do this with me, then I promise it will feel less scary."
He decided to join and held my hand the entire time with a snuggle in my armpit during the more excruciating moments, particularly at the sounds of wailing belly cries from his children and family members at different points in the heartbreaking service. Then, his wife, an extraordinary queen and freshly widowed woman slowly walked up to the front of the sanctuary holding her heart, looking out at the sea of people who showed up to offer their love. She looked out to everyone and gracefully paused, then said with gratitude, exhaustion and a shattered tone, "Thank you all for showing up. I am here to take in what (my husband) could not."
As she spoke, I could feel my hair stand up on the back of my neck and forearms. The room was still with tension and a wisely devastated agony. Izzy looked at me with an expression of soul-filled concern, the kind of empathy that both shook him to the core and made him a stronger human being at the same time.
From the memorial we drove to the burial service. I stopped for a coffee and picked up a lemon poppyseed muffin and milk for Iz, which he sweetly appreciated. Earlier I had warned him to bring a warm coat but his teen cool factor was fine without it. Before leaving for the day, I wore two black wool coats knowing he would need one while standing by the grave at dusk in the cold of winter. When his lips began to turn blue with his shivering body, I asked in a whisper, "You want a warm coat?" He smiled and gratefully took one of my two coats already existing with warmth inside from my body which clearly comforted him. We stood closely with those who showed up to chant ancient prayers and help guide a tortured soul from the human realm into the beloved sea of stars.
At times, it's hard to know how to respond to the waking times in which we live. The truth is, we are all vulnerable and cracked open to a new normal where each of us is being called to step up and stand more fully into the gifts we are here to share. To get there, we humans have an opportunity to be curious about excruciating discomfort within the inner most caves of our lives as key to becoming more alive, awake, and steadily growing toward the light. By staying open to the brutal universal truths of life head on, perhaps we can prepare, little by little, to become fearless in the face of pain and actually consider it an opening, a deepening and a homecoming to the force that connects everyone and everything on this beautiful, breathing planet.
“There is death in life, and it astonishes me that we pretend to ignore this: death, whose unforgiving presence we experience with each change we survive because we must learn to die slowly. We must learn to die: That is all of life. To prepare gradually the masterpiece of a proud and supreme death, of a death where chance plays no part, of a well-made, beatific and enthusiastic death of the kind the saints knew to shape. Of a long-ripened death that effaces its hateful name and is nothing but a gesture that returns those laws to the anonymous universe which have been recognized and rescued over the course of an intensely accomplished life. It is this idea of death, which has developed inside of me since childhood from one painful experience to the next and which compels me to humbly endure the small death so that I may become worthy of the one which wants us to be great.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letter to Mimi Romanelli, December 8, 1907
At the burial, I felt an urge to create in honor of trusting that light comes to us on the other side of darkness. A painting came, "Suicide Into Sun"
At age 19, I traveled from Lawrence, Kansas with my beau and a few friends in a 1975 white Dodge van containing a bed, bathroom and kitchen. From Seattle to Portland and San Francisco to the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, we explored and camped throughout majestic mountain ranges that my Midwestern eyes had never seen. We journeyed to The Rainbow Gathering and chased Grateful Dead shows from city to city. It was 1993, before I was set to leave after sophomore year at The University of Kansas to make a bold move to NYC to study theater and dance.
On the wide open expansive road, before my city detour, I met Michelle (Elle), a young edgy 20 something with curiosity, openness, and a wild mountain laugh that caught my Gen X attention. This familiar stranger had a fierce smile and powerful presence to welcome me gladly into conversation. She was with a fellow traveller and we all engaged in existential ideas while they generously made me a black gem necklace woven with bendable molding steel strings. She was from Kansas and serendipity was in the air. I didn’t see her again until four years later.
After 3 1/2 years of learning and living in New York, I realized it was no longer my place and it would be wise to move back to Kansas and finish university. My boyfriend from the road followed me to New York and then again moved back to Lawrence, Kansas only to split up soon after moving. As I lived out of my car, while working, taking classes, and looking for a place to live, one night I went to hear jazz funk music at the college town bar and it was there that I saw Michelle again. We immediately remembered each other from the road and caught up. She told me of her new baby, Sloane.
Michelle generously offered me a place to lay my head while I looked for a new living situation. She opened the door with trust in me to live with and support her family.
The first time I met Sloane it was love at first sight. I was totally smitten with this bright shining soul. She let me hold her immediately and we bonded everyday of the brief month I lived there. Aside from my cousins and a little babysitting, I had no experience with caring for a little human on the daily.
I remember waking every morning to change her diaper while her parents slept in with appreciation. It was my first experience of showing up to what motherhood might feel like someday. I woke often for early journal time while keeping the door slightly cracked to hear the sounds of a fluttering, flittering magic angel waking in the crib next to my room. I’d go in and see Sloane with joyful anticipation as she peered straight into my soul with her big, clear and wise oceanic eyes. I’d lift her up with a hug and slow dance as I hummed a quiet vocal intonation as the dawning sun rose slightly through the windowsill. Hints of caramel light drenched the rocking chair shadows on the wall in an early morning cozy sway back and forth as we bonded. Our special mornings gave me strength to meet the uncomfortable unknowns in my life at the time. Unfortunately, after witnessing intense fighting and dissonance between Sloane’s parents, I could sense that she was living in a painfully unsustainable relationship that would be a tough road ahead, which it was. I knew she would go through really hard experiences and promised this being that I’d stay connected.
Soon after, I found another place to live for two years, completed my degree, started to work in radio, and would come over to spend time with Sloane and her new baby brother Grayson, who was born after I moved out. The moment graduation day came, I blasted off to start a new life in California, with gifts and writings for both kids every year since. They came to my wedding, I went back to Kansas for work and re-connected in person then, but the face to face connections were sparse. At some point, Michelle asked me to be Sloane and Grayson's godmama.
Last week Sloane came for a visit! She is now 22, the same age I was when I lived with her. She instantly re-connected with my kids and Jay after coming to Berkeley 4 years before while in her last year of high school. This time she came as an adult. Ready to begin her new life as an almost college graduate with wings to fly forward, heal, and create dynamic expressions in this world at this urgent time in our country.
It was a reunion of belonging and deep seeing through our shared stories late into the night under the stars. We made meaning through learning about each other, listening and sharing. She reminded me and Jay of the wide open worlds we saw and lived at 22. We ate beautiful nourishment, soaked in the sulphuric baths with Sofi for a ladies night, yoga in the mornings, tai chi, Shabbat, and the kids running in to jump on her with hugs and kisses, hikes, and recording stories…never had she been inside of a home where it felt like unconditional love. That love infusion happened for Sloane and with it, a vision for her future.
My son, Izzy, turned 10 last week. 10 years of showing up all the way for another human being. There is a remembrance. A re-living life again through new eyes. When I was 10, I had my ears pierced for the first time. I can remember the smell of the cleaning fluid and the anticipated moment just before that needle gun stabbed my earlobe. Memories held from childhood seem crystal clear to the senses.
Izzy has turned 10 and I wonder what he will remember, and how in only three years he will be a teenager. Three years is a flash of time. And time is moving at a different pace than it used to. His years remind me of my years, and what happened in them. One of which is a story about the first person I truly loved. It was a connection that opened my heart to experience how love works. This relationship showed me the first glimmer of what it means to believe in someone, and what it means to show up. These were critical teachings in the great human drama, the stories of our lives.
I was 14 years old and was living in a Romeo and Juliet love. It was a very intense relationship where we saw each other every single possible moment. Often, he used to sneak out at night from his parents house, which was only ten blocks away. I remember the way he held a flower in his teeth as he skillfully climbed up the side my parent's house and into my bedroom. I remember hearing him quietly make his way to me in the night. I was Juliet. He made me tapes of cheesy love songs that I played like a religion, learned to memorize, interpret, and dream. He was Steve, a junior.
The night was May 15, 1989 and one week before prom. My mother took me to get the finishing alterations to a fancy laced fairytale dress for the dance. As we drove home from the mall in our suburban town, we heard a commotion. After driving closer, we saw a swarm of sirens, a helicopter, fire trucks, police cars, people surrounding, it felt like some crazy scene in a violent 3D war movie. We kept driving, a bit shaken, grateful to be alive and well, and unable to determine what had actually happened.
After getting home, I went upstairs to watch TV on my parentʼs bed. Early evening had turned to night, maybe even after dinner and the phone rang. I used to have a habit of curiously picking up the phone after someone in the house had already answered, screening the call.
The call was from Steveʼs mom, Diana. She proceeded to tell my mother that Steve had been in a horrible electrocution accident. He was living by a thread in a burn unit in Maywood, Illinois, which was about an hour drive from my house. Diana could barely speak. I donʼt remember anything specific that she said but the devastation in her voice was palpable. I turned off the TV, with my other finger still pressing hard, as if it might break, on the phoneʼs mute button. My throat was on fire as my entire body ceased up with fear. I remained silent, listening, stunned, shocked, as if life flashed before my eyes. Steve, I heard in Dianaʼs voice, was about to die. This was the accident we had seen earlier.
Unbeknownst to me, Steve and his friend Frank (who lived close to my house) had spent the day together after school, making romantic surprise plans for the upcoming double prom date. They decided to go out to Frankʼs side yard to play with a bottle rocket. It shot high up into a tree and became stuck. Frank went for the ladder and an aluminum golf ball retriever to hit the rocket out of the tree. Steve held the ladder as Frank climbed up. Apparently, the electric wires above were supposed to be insulated, but instead, they were live. The golf ball retriever attracted 2200 volts of electricity and it raged into Frankʼs body, down the ladder, to Steveʼs.
By some miraculous intervention, there was a break in the current, which passed through Frank, throwing him off the ladder, his body hitting the ground with burning flesh on his face, neck and arms. Because Steve was holding the ladder, the electric current stayed pulsing through the silver beams held by his 16 year old hands. Steve had more serious burns than Frank as the molten hot force shot through his body. The current ran through, from the inside out, melting 80% of his Achilles tendon, out his head, missing his brain, and into the earth, through his feet, holding him to the ladder until all of the energy passed. His shoes and clothes were burned like dark, crisp toast. Had Frank not been thrown from the ladder, they would have certainly died right there.
Every emergency team seemed to hum around the scene like bees on honey, including a helicopter, which transported them to a hospital burn unit outside of Chicago. In the helicopter the paramedics whispered just over Steveʼs head, “Weʼre gonna lose him! Weʼre gonna lose him!” In that moment, Steve later told me that while he heard the voices, he experienced a white light and thought of staying alive so he could take me to the prom.
When I hung up the phone, lying on the bed, paralyzed with shock, the air felt lifeless with yet a stimulating silence. My mom did not know I had been on the phone and overheard her conversation with Steve's mom. She came upstairs and slowly opened the door. When our eyes locked I screamed a blood-curdling scream. I threw over shelves of books, emptied drawers of clothes, and kicked a basket across the room, which made it look as if we had been robbed. I needed to move my fear. I needed to get it out and my mom just stood there, watching, not attempting to change my experience.
“Get in the car!” I screamed. “Now!” We raced to the hospital so fast that if a cop dared to stop us, I might have been arrested. There was not a moment to put on a jacket, pee, or change clothes. She drove lightening fast, racing against time yet we didn't stop once. All the streetlights were on our side before and after the highway ride. I never saw my mom step on it like that. As she drove, I screamed, cried, held my body so tight with an aching heart and intense focus to get there. Inside I was both exploding and dying.
The car screeched into the emergency driveway, I swung the car door open and ran into the hospital, my mom parked and ran to follow me in. A rabbi was there in a black coat, reading from the Torah, Steveʼs parents were sitting there crying and holding each other. The doctor was also in the room with a face that seemed as if I was too late. I told them I had to see Steve. The doctor said, “Iʼm sorry, but no one is allowed to see him at this time.” Right when the doctor turned his head, I snuck in to see my young, innocent love lying on a bed, hooked up all over his body to machines and wires. Blood was on the ground beneath his right hand while his upper back was arched up, as if his heart was pulling his chest and body toward the sky. He was particularly muscular and I remember his muscles, veins, and skin hooked up to monitors and machines working hard to keep him alive.
As I stared at his face, fire in my eyes, burning with focus I said, “You will not die now, Steve. You will live a long life. You will grow to be a father someday. You will live on.” I felt a surge of superpower in me that permeated from head to toe and all around. I could feel him hearing me. Then, my instinct was to raise up my hands and repeat those words. We were working as a team. His eyelids fluttered open. When I saw that, I ran to get the doctors. They ran in. He was alive! He was going to live. He did.
26 years later, the experience is fresh today somehow, now that my son is only four years away from when I lived then. I wonder when the drama of my son's first love will begin.
I was in theater school reciting lines in the subway on my journey uptown, engrossed in the words and thoughts of Ophelia. It was a chilly October afternoon and what helped me focus, aside from the rumbling rhythm of the train, was knitting. Funny to knit while in the midst of executives shoulder to shoulder with artists, next to homeless folks blending in with every culture and creed together, it seemed, in one train car during sardine time on the subway. My big bag held the knitting skein I was weaving with long, unsharp needles as the train came to 79th Street Station. I remember the moment when I stopped knitting and put it away to deliberate about whether or not I'd get off the train to buy a book at the corner store. The doors opened. I was standing there and just as the doors were about to close I jumped off onto the platform, deciding yes to the bookstore.
The subway doors closed on my bag which was tightly wrapped around my right side body and neck.
I screamed to the subway conductor that I was stuck in the doors. From inside the car I saw people try to push my bag out. Then, the doors slightly opened to accommodate my bag, which, from the momentum, sunk my right leg down into the space between the platform and the subway car. My right leg was all the way down, up to my pelvis, while the rest of my body was struggling to get up before the subway took off.
In this split second of a moment an angel, some amazing fluke of grace of a person, lifted me up by my armpits and the subway took off instantly. I never saw his eyes. I know I was lifted up by a big man who saved my life in this near death experience. Life flashed before my eyes like a shock of lightning, and, later, a black and blue bruised hip and upper thigh left evidence that the incident happened at all. I might have not believed it happened otherwise.
That experience was one of a string of near death experiences which brought me closer to my aliveness and its absolute fragility. At a young age I gained a healthy respect for that which cannot be seen or measured.
I went to the bookstore, in utter shock, and sat down ever so slowly. Then, silently, took out my needles and began to feel, for the first time, the radiant life force of my hands knit.
Fania Davis wrote an article in YES Magazine to be read entitled:
"This Country Needs a Truth and Reconciliation Process on Violence Against African Americans - Right Now"
We are alive in a time of great change, a seismic shift in the way humans engage with our humanness. Standing at the crux of an evolutionary moment, our brains are rapidly transforming from the ways in which we use technology. I recently watched a fascinating show "The Future Starts Here" created by Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg at AOL entitled Robots, Botox and Google Glass.
As a direct result, I have found myself thinking, on the verge of obsession, about the fine line they propose between being human and being robotic, particularly as it relates to where our species is evolving. And, even more particularly, how that relates to mothering.
Mothers can attest to the fact that primal love is the connective tissue between humans, a feeling robots can never know. I think our hearts and our emotional capacity to love, to connect, and to intimately engage the unknown beyond what we think we can manage, sets us apart from robots. When moms are forced to disconnect from authentic instincts, then, as Regan Long says in her recent compelling plea to the President in this week's Huffington Post, we are in danger of shutting off our innate wisdom to become "gladiators", "superhuman", or dare I say robotic. We are asked on a daily basis, over and over again, to refute our instincts to accommodate the maze of modern living. Is it working, ladies? At some point, we will, in collective force, take back this very human, timeless and universal story.
We are alive in a golden age as we empower ourselves to re-design the ways in which mothering could be revered and respected in our culture. Where we don't have to choose between work and family, but can utilize Internet powers to integrate innovation with fluidity, creativity and media savvy. Today, US moms are pitted against each other, identified in a particular camp on the vast spectrum between "working" or "stay at home", without a policy to support this essential and critical function of a healthy social fabric. Regan Long's article gets straight to the heart of one of the most pressing issues for mothers of my generation, as we pave the way for future generations of moms - our daughters.
The emergent patterns from this exercise reveal that which makes sense only in retrospect - waves come together in one pool of understanding. This is my 40th year. As I wade in the waters of life, deeply humbled yet with cultivated chutzpah, I am here, ready to swim fiercely when necessary, with unwavering trust in what is.
This is my creative process.
As I step up into a sustainable, fully integrated expression of story, creativity and community, I trust that this ripple is moving from the inside out, in its right time. As long as I strive to be impeccable with my word, avoid taking things personally, as well as avoid assumptions, and always do my best, then I will let the sail take me on the wave of possibility with this beating heart, right now.
I have been feeling the weight of our tragic times lately. When I tuck my kids into bed at night there is a particular gratitude I feel for the quiet alongside sounds of their deep, safe rest and yet I viscerally sense other mothers in places without the same sounds. Sometimes the feelings of powerlessness and fear are so overwhelming that I want to hide with my family and pray for change. But I know I cannot hide for too long. We humans who have the inclination to share and spread light, in whatever ways we do, are needed in collective force right now.
With that being said, I am honored to be contributing a DELVE song to an upcoming compilation album for the Network of Spiritual Progressives. NSP strives to provide their members with thought-provoking content and to advocate for a transformative New Bottom Line in our economic and social institutions. This compilation CD will be distributed in 2015, nationally and internationally, to NSP members as a gesture of peace and social transformation.
DELVE is moving around the country and overseas. It has been purchased on iTunes Europe, among other places in the US, from New York City to Columbia, Missouri and Fresno, California to Houston, Texas. This is encouraging and I haven't done much yet to bring the album out beyond my community circles. While the music is spreading, I wonder about the people who are listening.
We are all born listening, helpless and vulnerable creatures. We are all born wired to connect, to be held, nurtured and loved. Then, somewhere along the way, perhaps we stop listening to our guts, our deepest, most vulnerable truth. Then, while on the twisting, turning path of life, key stories arise out of heartbreak and triumph that shape the origins of who we are, and who we are becoming. These stories are the maps of our lives that guide us into our collective future. Our stories also help others find their courage and know they are not alone. I believe, if willing to stretch beyond the defenses of what we think we know to be true and what has seemed to protect us, that everyone has the capacity to heal, integrate, and become whole human beings. This is the reconciliation work of our time, one person at a time. The more people who do this unveiling work, the more it moves into our cells, our memes, our relations, and our world.
Today, June 30th, marks one year since the DELVE Kickstarter Campaign was completed - an amazing year it has been! After reaching the $15,000 goal, I distinctly remember closing my computer, going outside for a walk in the sweet air, and lifting my arms up to the sun, tears streaming down my face with gratitude for the chance to dream and have the dream actually come to life. When I came home, this was drawn on the sidewalk outside of my front porch from my close neighborhood friend, Lauren, and her daughter, Jo.
After releasing the album in February, I came to realize that no institution or set of rules would pioneer my way forward. The old systems of the music business are dying off and being replaced by human instinct, creative, authentic process, and faith to know when to turn at the right time, without force. As my dear friend, Rony Reingold, recently said, "you've been living in the radical pause", pulling back to listen to what is ready to emerge.
To move forward I will go back 10 years to then come around full circle.
In 2004, I became pregnant with my son and all of a sudden started to see pregnant women everywhere. To make sense of the experience taking over my life, I began to gather audio tape of mothers sharing their stories and then asked Tania Ketenjian if she wanted to co-produce a project with me. That tape turned into BIRTH, the public radio documentary about practices and perceptions of birth in the US. It was distributed nationwide by Public Radio International in 2006. It aired as an hourlong radio special and then was over. Poof. Gone, without a tactile connection to the people listening. This conundrum made it clear to us that we wanted to make more of an impact on the ground, person-to-person. As a result, Tania and I created THE BIRTH TOUR, a nationwide community event intended to catalyze intimate conversations about birth and simultaneously stimulate a support network for new mothers.
THE BIRTH TOUR was designed to incorporate excerpts from the documentary along with questions for attendees to discuss in small and large groups. The event grew from six initial cities where Tania and I travelled with my little boy, to requests from all over the US. In response to the demand, we created a document that guided people to self-organize THE BIRTH TOUR in over 75 cities and towns nationwide between 2006-2009. The work was sponsored by Organic Valley, Motherlove Herbal Company, gDiapers, Mothering Magazine and The Institute of Noetic Sciences. At the time, we didn't realize our endeavor was unsustainable, both in infrastructure and in business model, without both of us at full steam ahead.
Then, in 2009, I became pregnant with my daughter and went underground just after the launch of BORN, a follow up public radio documentary about the postpartum experience in the US. Everything in my work life had to be put on hold to handle the incredibly intense demands required of me in my own pregnancy and postpartum family life. I was overwhelmed and unable to keep it all together with juggling two kids and a career. When my daughter was 6 months old, she stopped napping and was up, literally, 6-10 times a night for 2 years. She rocked my world and everything I thought I knew about motherhood was challenged. I had been immersed in thinking about and commenting on birth, yet the coming of my daughter brought me to my knees with humility and compassion for what it takes to show up to this unbelievable feat.
DELVE was born out of being stripped down to the raw grit and grace that was my experience of those early motherhood years. The letting go of my professional identity was a bitter pill to swallow and yet, somehow, my instincts told me I was on the right path even though the unknown terrified me at the time.
Now that my kids are 9 and 5, and DELVE has been born, I am considering possibilities to refine my vision for THE BIRTH TOUR and potentially create THE DELVE TOUR (with Tania's good wishes), a nationwide event focused on the potential for personal and social transformation through motherhood. I am exploring how to shape the event design by integrating DELVE songs plus new ones, along with probing facilitated questions to stimulate story-sharing, community, creativity, and social change. In addition, I am considering sustainable business models with sponsors and partners and a strong infrastructure made to last.
Dearest Global Renaissance Woman, Dr. Maya Angelou,
Although your body and spirit have separated recently, your presence is undeniable.
I'd like to take this moment to thank you for living your life with such an exquisitely insatiable curiosity for truth.
You were a remarkable example of dynamic resilience and creativity inside the human form, moved to fill page upon page of translation from your rich and fertile being. Not just in the written word, oh no. In music, film, theater, dance and other various expressions, you mastered the craft of tuning inward to listen, inquire and then create. Even your tweet a mere 5 days before your death wisely said, "Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God." The voice of creative force in all of us is the very truth of existence, waiting, beckoning to be received, held, and, then, released, hopefully, to bring more light to this world.
You lived that way, Dr. Angelou, all the way to your quiet, dignified passing at home with loved ones surrounding. Your soul was able to completely let go, rest and expand into the Great Eternal Mystery where we will all return. Because of our common origin and destination you were able to see the beauty and possibility in yourself and, hence, in all human beings.
Today, the capacity to listen to ourselves is becoming a biological imperative, particularly when inundated like never before with marketing, technology and the mass quantities of stuff we think we need outside of ourselves to be ok, to be enough, to be worthy. We cannot buy our way out, but we can imagine a new way through, and that, I think, is by listening. It gives me great solace to know that you, Dr. Angelou, didn't write your first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, until your 40th year around the sun. Before you focused on this historic writing, your despair and grief must have been so unbearable to realize "the need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind."
You couldn't be caged. Oh no. You liberated yourself from darkness into the healing waters of your destiny by owning your uncommon, unlikely path as a best-selling author, poet, editor, essayist, screenwriter, director, actress, playwright, producer, dancer, singer, teacher, civil rights activist, and mother. I salute you! I celebrate you for your courageous, inspired life of bone deep compassion, unwavering humility, and tremendous gratitude for a brilliant turnaround. You re-framed your life to make it thrive!
Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou, Global Renaissance Woman, for living a life so alive and real and connected to life far beyond your own. You will inspire me until my last breath, and beyond.