Bound

by Rebecca Villarreal
You can listen to this poem here.


Orange is the new tweet

I sit giggling over Scotland’s raucous artistry

a Mariachi band

welcomes producer and pound-maker

soon I’ll be in the air again

grateful for the Artha:

prosperity, paperwork

yet puzzled by the muzzle

how did a poet of protest

inching down the corporate ladder

become bound by balance in a world

beaten by turbulence?

 

Afghanistan’s first female rapper

ten men draw blood

forced to flee, returns too late

to save her cousins, six and eleven

choosing escape by fire

over one more day

married to sex-to-generians

 

Snow mounts on the ghost of the Dakota pipeline

where victory is a creamsicle, sweet and temporary

for the knowing is in Terra Madre

our Mother marvels

at the billionaires scurrying to dig and dig

in the face of sun and wind

unceasingly:

shining

blowing

through the lobbies on that swampy hill

 

Our crops unrecognizable

bees buried in South Carolina sands

bottled water in Flint

Still

your Thanksgiving green beans may come with contaminants

how now?, said the oncologist

 

Or was it Joseph Campbell’s axis mundi?

the immovable spot where we sit small enough to make room for the whole world?

Thoreau ate homemade cookies on Walden Pond

with Civil Disobedience pouring from his pen

the eyes and hearts of Gandhi, Mandela,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

poured over those declarations

written a mile and a half from home

 

What shall we do now?

Stay silent in the face of spittle flying from the three-ring?

No.

Speak love into the stands.

Spill popcorn, get sticky with the pink of cotton candy.

This is the circus,

only we’re in it.

What’s the act?

Blindfolded and shot from a canon?

Or eyes wide open, these hands hold light

let us know the taste of victory

in peace

keep loving thy broken neighbors

choosing between medicine and mashed potatoes

phantom paychecks shrouded in hungry nightmares

that’s what made the rhetoric real

despite the tawdry truth buried in the green hills

buttressed by maples grade A and B

 

This time let’s skip the swipe

reach for a hand and see what’s underneath

a lost mother

a father broken by the bread not won

the child in every human

hoping for a moment to sit by the pond

one jewel in the web

reflecting all the others

for that will loosen the grip

of flapping lips

fanning fire

off with your shoes and socks

come sit beside me

dip your toes in the water

and find home in the palm of my hand.
***

Today is Terra Madre Day. Check out the origins through the Slow Food movement here. Sign the manifesto here.

Today is Human Rights day as well. Find out more here.

Healthy food and full bellies are a human right. Freedom to BE is a human right. If people are nourished and loved and treated as humans, we can attain peace.

Nourish Yourself – Granola alert and Book Two Sneak Peek!

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Friends, as I mentioned in the last post, I managed to nourish myself during the previous week even in the face of a high level of stress. I have received requests for my granola recipe, so I did a demonstration video here. First and foremost, this is not my recipe! It is from Mayi Carles magnificent and delightful Life is Messy Kitchen cookbook. It’s Gluten-free, vegan and the version you see in my video is 99.9% organic. I have adapted Mayi’s recipe to suit what’s in my pantry. I am also occasionally allergic to following instructions so you’ll see in the video that I went back and tweaked a few things. I hope it entertains and instructs! Regardless, I’m sharing this to remind you that if you work a Monday through Friday schedule, today is a great day to think about what you want to eat this week.

Click here for Mayi’s Heartmade Granola recipe. And dang it! I’m glad I just glanced at her recipe again because I realize that I forgot to add dates to my granola. Well, good thing it’s all still sitting on the counter. There’s a lot to be said about not cleaning up right away. And if you’re interested in Mayi’s Life is Messy cookbook, check out purchase info and her awesome 39-second video here.

See the instructional video below, remember to also add raisins, or dates or some kind of dried fruit like cherries!

I won’t use the term “meal planning” because that can feel overwhelming when today is a day of rest for many. My meal planning often consists of looking in the pantry and inside the fridge. Last week I said, “Oh I need to use that cauliflower,” so I happened to receive a nice email from Cookie and Kate in my inbox with 4 different easy recipes for roasting cauliflower. This meant that one day this week when I was on a 7-hour videoconference with a 30-minute lunch break during which I had 3 different phone calls, I could throw the cut and washed pieces in a bowl with some spices and coconut oil and then stick them in the toaster over to roast while I finished those calls and made my quesadilla with a side of avocado. This week, I’m thinking about tuna melts, chickpeas with indian spices and some quinoa. I don’t actually like quinoa but I’m trying to experiment with it so that I can gain the benefits of the protein and the fact that it keeps me full for a long time. There was one quinoa bowl I used to get in Chicago that included veggies and a ginger peanut sauce so I’m also thinking of making a ginger peanut sauce to have on hand for the leftover quinoa. The other thing I’m making is the Minimalist Baker’s Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles which are mind-blowlingly easy if you have a food processor. I’m experimenting with not eating white sugar so these satisfy my sweet tooth in a big way.

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In other news related to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon – A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship: I am participating in #NaNoWriMo which is National Novel Writing Month. It’s another way to encourage myself to continue working on Book 2! I spent this morning (after making and eating the granola), doing my own version of nature magic, researching, writing and singing. I’m very excited about the scene I created.  I share my process in the video below. If you want to get more inside scoop on Book 2 as well as some recipes and spells, sign up for my newsletter at http://rebeccavillarreal.com.  We will send out the first one by the end of the year. You’ll also get a preview of the documentary from my writer’s retreat on Orcas Island. In case you missed it, the trailer for the documentary is here and below my sneak peek.

Stay tuned for info on purchasing signed copies of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon for the holidays! In the meantime, you can purchase it everywhere.

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What did she think she would find there?

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She woke earlier than she needed to. It was Saturday after the hardest week she’d had in years. She thought of someone she loves who is suffering. She wanted to grab her phone, to look at inspirational things. She wanted to see photos–to escape her feelings. Instead, she heard, “just feel it.” So she did, she let the sadness wash in and breathed through it.

Then she lifted her body and decided to go on her mat for yoga after the heavy sleep she had the night before. Instead she found her phone, came back to her mat and saw her friends around the world eating and playing. She read inspiring quotes. Then she put down the phone.

What answer did she think she would find inside the phone? The one telling her to go back to bed for more sleep? To go for a walk in nature? To do yoga? To tell her she was all right now?

She stretched and sat again with her feelings. How had she narrowly escaped despair? During the previous week,  all the old feelings of overwhelm and not wanting to get out of bed had returned. She hadn’t felt that way since post-partum depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome after her son was born. Only this time was different: she could be of two hearts and minds. She could see it happening as opposed to drowning in it. Not surprisingly, two days earlier, she had a dream of not being able to save her toddler from a Tsunami coming through their bedroom windows.

And yet, all week, she still got up and produced and produced and produced. But her heart was so, so, sad.

On the mat this Saturday morning, without the phone, the words came. “Go write. Go write now.”

And so, here is how she narrowly escaped despair:

  1. She took a mental health day, for her mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health.
  2. She spoke on the phone to two of her closest friends and not only asked for emotional support, but asked how they cope with too much work. One advised no matter what, make time for nature, walks in nature are walks with God. And to pray the old prayers like the Hail Mary–that they are meditations. The other advised her to tell her manager. To speak the truth because people just keep their heads down and keep doing it and then they go on medication like most of the people in her office. She asked her closest friends to keep her in their thoughts, to pray for her and she cried to them. And she also laughed at some of the ironies of functioning under these feelings and under her working conditions. The laughing-crying felt good.
  3. She let the tears flow and flow when they needed to.
  4. She called a colleague who had faced such extreme stress the previous year that it made her ill. The colleague advised talking to the boss and getting some things off of her plate. She assured her that she was taking all of the right steps so that she wouldn’t get ill.
  5. She told her husband: “I am not feeling well. This is like after our son was born, only I can see it happening and I can still produce. But I cannot sustain this way. I feel trapped.”
  6. She planned meals and nourished herself with real foods.
  7. She made a mimosa with pretty floating raspberries and watched her favorite spy show. She remembered how she used to pretend (as an adult) that she was that strong, fierce and still vulnerable woman.
  8. She acted as if she was happy during meetings when she needed to.
  9. She ran again in her new running shorts. She got the gear to be the magic athlete she wanted to be. She ran half a block, then walked. She ran some more, then walked. She played dodge ball.
  10. She went to the backyard in her bare feet and got grounded. She did what little yoga she could. She prayed and meditated like a beast, even if she fell asleep during the meditation. She showed up.

She arrived at Friday afternoon, having talked to her boss and unraveled her work into the pieces and places where they belonged. She was assured that her instincts were right–to reach out made sense. That she can narrow her focus to her job and not do all the other jobs people want her to do because of her other talents.

Friday night she became a new version of herself. The one who can take care of herself and her family. She found joy again in the sun and mountains and grass and the air.

She wrote to you to tell you, that she is me.

I made it through the Tsunami. I remembered how to swim again. You can too.

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A Brutiful Truth – a poem

with thanks to Glennon Doyle Melton for coining the conundrum.

You can listen to this poem here.

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This poem has been pulsing since 4:14am

Lucky numbers by all accounts of my heart and that of my sister’s

Turn toward the Brutiful

Brutal

Kids under rubble and the angry tides of Matthew

A Haiti not forgotten

though tramped upon

by a sasquatch of narcissistic personality disorder

riding the waves of misogyny

What’s that?

It’s a swimmer on dry land for a spell

twenty minutes of misbehavior captured

in the face of

little girl brides

left home from school

and boys who can’t walk home and wander

for their profiles

may elicit

shots fired

their strides, their skin

their love of Legos

who then can face this day?

Vote in a parade of misfits

your bread is treated with five rounds of Roundup

Wheat and the big C

amber waves of

wait

did you see a loophole

in the Dakota pipeline?

Muslims marching for

Sioux Cherokee Chumash

or was their a spark of hope

in a Syrian Santa

passing stuffed animals

to tiny hands in Aleppo?

I rise, swipe, pray, breathe

Lakshmi

Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity

it lies in our spirit

she whispers

four hands forward and back

edit out the brutal

for three pulses of your heart

 

one

reading tea leaves on the isle of Orcas

where Heron visit reeds

Crane signify Druid patience

longevity and secret knowledge

 

two

there’s my boy

puppets, drawing Illuminati and begging for

wrestlemania in oxidized waters

yes, I say and green light, statue

marco

 

three

hash browns and hail marys

a candle lit for

a cousin

 

trees digging dry soil

the taproot still finding sustenance

in the hope

if we face the Brutal

underneath we will find

the Beautiful

it is ours

each time we

say yes to

love

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Building a Better Block — for Bethel, Vermont

To view the video that illustrates the poem, click here.

To listen to the poem, click here.

a dog named Denise
and a deconstructed taco
this one Vermonted up
with pork and apple chutney
the vegetarian is not mailed in
uncrowded mushrooms dance with pepitas
until Crazy Gringo Taco Bar runs out
I spin into Gilead confections
before cash leaves hand
a salted caramel seduces the buds
More!
they cry, More! More!
so an apple cobbler with cream cheese filling
take five bar
and my childhood favorite: elephant ears

Alas I am abuzz with cane and confidence
fly to The Hive
with fair Lindsey
who learns to eat sunshine and poetry
while painted faces born of my namesake, Stone
speak of favorites: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
construction paper verse spills under and above glitter glue, feathers and pom poms
Kelly’s earth music
Anika’s bunny pumpkin puppy family dog poem, inverted

Cut to Lindley’s scraps crafted with fine furniture fingers
her earrings dangle from my lobes
reminding me of Vermont trees laden with faeries and tucked in Lylee’s golden pouch alongside Lisa’s felt snail, Joy Full

Did you know the B.U.G.s on chairs painted between vines and pines stand for
Bethel Under Ground?
Community insurrection for places to sit, sip and savor
Kirk speaks of midnight runs for theater seats on sidewalks
bounce to blue lanes where e-bikes zoom me forward and back
into a beer garden framed by Ola
the wave, beloved eighty years plus
earth and truth via Tennessee
she speaks of equality in the face of all the hoopla
knowing elegance over the mess of sloppy slurs

The checkers, chess and tic tac toe of tree stumps
make me wish for more stories
Doug settled in town after Fort this and that
fixing roads, minding a granddaughter
I assure you, I tell her,
as we both spill, trip and drop,
your mind is too full to worry over table corners
that’s no clumsy
you’re just creating fire
it’s a gentle burning

There’s a better block in Bethel now
sprouted amidst Nell’s pizza and dominoes
all hail the hearts who uncover treasures
chalk love
paint streets
waddle with wattles
for this
is
home

From Outlet to Outlight

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Alternative title: Unconditional love and how to stop being an Emotional ATM

Yup. Just finished crying on the couch with my husband. It was a happy sad cry. It was an I can’t figure it out cry. It was an I’m lonely and I feel so loved cry.

And then came the a-ha:

I have everything I’ve ever wanted in my life.

And I’m not living in fear that I have to anticipate every scenario that could upend this happiness.

I have faith.

I am a vessel for unconditional love.

What on earth does this mean for me?

And what about you?

This means:

If you are feeling, lonely and sitting in a church full of people

If you are sitting alone in your apartment facing an open day in front of you with a to-do list chomping like the childhood monsters under your bed

If you can’t sleep

YOU ARE LOVED.

By whom?

You don’t have to believe in God for this one. I believe in God and lots of other fantastic and fantastical things.

There is a universal force out there and it is this: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Now unconditional love is so dang different from TRANSACTIONAL LOVE.

I have had people very close to me offer transactional love.

If you answer my 911 calls, then I love you. If you listen to all of my problems and do not introduce your own into the conversation, then I love you. If you call me, then I love you. If you send me one of your signature care packages, then I love you.

I used to try to keep up with the people whom I love by “holding space” for all of them. A text to let you know I was thinking of you, a voicemail, a card. And then, I started to do that for myself.

I slowed down and sat in my own pain. That experience actually stinks. What I found however, even this morning, is that I was missing Father Jerry from my old church in Chicago. When he got reassigned, I tried the new priest a few times, but I basically left. Like a kid who didn’t get her way in the kickball game, I picked up my ball and went home. I didn’t leave God. I didn’t leave faith. But I left Regina and Greg. I left Mrs. Clayton. I left Liz. I left my friends and I left my community.

Then I left Chicago.

So I’m rebuilding again. I’ve sat in meditation. I’ve embraced yoga on an entirely different level than ever before in my life. I’ve prayed. I’ve tried two churches here. I’ve met God in the ocean, on the mountain and on the trail.

Yesterday, I went to the Catholic Church in my town and kneeled and prayed. And all I got was, “You don’t belong here.”

Last night I went swimming and I asked God, “What do you want me to know?”

And here’s what I heard: “Stop trying to figure it out.”

So this morning I sat with it. I just shared with my husband:

“I miss Father Jerry. I miss my church community. I’m lonely. And I feel more loved than I ever have in my life. I only have people in my life who love me unconditionally.”

I’m no longer an emotional ATM. Occasionally, people make deposits via the ATM. But usually, folks use the ATM to withdrawal funds.

What if I were to tell you that you are actually a vessel for UNCONDITIONAL LOVE?

Yes, the capitalized version of those words.

I have found my path to unconditional love to be painful and messy and beautiful and illuminating and magical and fantastic.

Here’s what worked for me:

  1. Receiving: the next time someone thanks you, pause and take it in. Or if it’s a compliment, receive it before you volley back a reciprocal compliment.
  2. Pause: I am the fastest emailer in the west. I cannot wait to finish typing this to send it to you right now right now right now. Yet, I’m going to re-read it. I’ll ask myself if it passes the vulnerability meter. Like have I written anything that I cannot live with? Does this story represent a wound or a scar? Then I’m going to ask my husband to read it. And he’ll ask me questions and point out areas that don’t make sense. And I’ll have to pause and fix. And wait to see. You can pause with any action or reaction. You may not have control over an event, but you do have control of your reaction to an event.
  3. Boundaries: Sometimes boundaries can be made in silence. It’s worth avoiding engaging in gossip or even the pretend kind in which you’re sharing someone else’s story without their permission because you’re concerned for them. My boundary-making was learned the hard way. Childhood trauma actually has helped me understand and make better boundaries as an adult. I have a major radar for what is not okay—even in the simplest interaction in the grocery store. I’m safe. And the way I keep my heart safe is to be particular about which people I allow into my life. If something or someone’s behavior makes you uncomfortable—watch how that shows up in your body. Maybe when you read an email from that person, you notice your jaw clench or your back stiffen. Your body will often signal you before your heart and mind catches up.
  4. Detachment: This is about allowing for what is, to be. You cannot save everyone. You cannot actually change people. It’s the ultimate act of taking action on your end and letting go of the result.

And finally, there’s big faith. I have big faith in “if not this, then something better.” And I know I’m a vessel for UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. And it feels so good.

I want you to feel that way too.

I love you. I love me.

Love thyself. Start there. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Thank you for reading. This has been my Father Jerry moment. I feel in community with you. I needed that today. Thank you for loving me unconditionally.

Rebecca

P.S. I’m currently obsessed with the work of Glennon Doyle Melton. I’m listening to her book, Love Warrior. Tomorrow* I start The Wisdom of Story course with her and Brené Brown. The code LOVE20 gets you 20% off. I’m not an affiliate, just sending you big love to write your own story and your own ending. In case you’d like to get to know Glennon better, I enjoyed her interviews with Marie Forleo, Lewis Howes and of course, with Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday. For more on Brené, check out aisle 2 of this post. I have a selection of her resources there.

*A week later…

P.P.S.: Well, I let this baby marinate for an entire week. I actually wrote it the morning of Sunday, September 11th. It’s been a beautiful week of healing. The Wisdom of Story course has been phenomenal. I also created this downloadable Ocean Meditation in the middle of the week which addresses many of the themes above. It’s only 10 minutes and it invites you to keep a paper and pen handy in case you need to get some things out of your head and on to a list. I hope you enjoy it! Sending you big UNCONDITIONAL LOVE for a phenomenal week. Witness a miracle because you are the spark behind one (or more!) every single day.

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The Slowdown–a parenting poem


To listen to this poem, click here.

Blowing whistles
and the wonderings of a mother

who hasn’t signed up for

soccer

baseball

swimming

art class

Spanish immersion

instead she shifts her son’s head

to drop in a remedy for swimmer’s ear

from swimming

playing

dreaming

Saturday marked by ten, twelve hours sleep

a body in repair

and the luscious knowledge of the intangible

it’s called Rest

“You know the park is just down the street.”

“He can walk there on his own.”

“Everyone here does it.”

What choice does she have?

Sign on the dotted line

put a number on his back

swear fealty to the clock for fear of falling behind

Or what if stop-motion movies

puppets and pizza tag

riding bikes till twilight

made for enough of a childhood?

What if boredom became a challenge?

Live in the world

surf on worksheets

dig up Redstone

write the series about

Super Parnassus the Potato

and his Grape sidekick, The Greginator

this verse is homage to the slowdown

allowing for mothering and fathering

any which way

in the gray lies truth, freedom

and knowing the human who chose you

Put Your Wholehearted Pants On

Friends, this vlog post has been bursting out of me. You’ll see why. And yes, I’m scared to share it. But I’ve come to the point where it’s no longer optional. So here goes:

In the video, you’ll hear me talk about the following people and resources which have helped me to take small, measured steps into wholehearted living.

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Me & Carrie Hensley–my favorite yoga teacher and one of my best friends in the world. 

Do you want to get stronger inside and out? Making me stronger than ever before: It started with the 30-day yoga un-challenge by one of my best friends, Carrie Hensley. It’s free. It starts September 1. And guess what, it’s okay if you miss some days! You can sign up here.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?  Beth Barany has been a wonderful coach to me, helping me unravel Selma’s story and get extra curious about my characters. Her “30-Day Writing Challenge for Novelists” runs October 1-30. And after that, you’ll have lifetime access to the materials. She’s even providing three bonuses for those who purchase the course by August 31. Beth also offers scholarship applications until August 31 at 9pm Pacific Time. If you want to get a sense of Beth’s style (and that of her awesome husband, Ezra), you can sign up for her webinar replay here. The webinar is called Planning Your Novel: Essential Plot & Character Tips. Check out the course details here.

Do you want to live a wholehearted life? Yesterday, I signed up for The Wisdom of Story course by Courage Works with Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton. Check out the course here. Use the promo code WARRIOR to get 20% off. I did!

Specific goals of the course include:

  • Identify the “bru-tiful” (brutal + beautiful) adventure that you’re on. Maybe it’s your job or your role as a parent or partner. It can even be a life stage.
  • Use the classic three-act story framework as a powerful tool to create awareness around the connection between your thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
  • Learn the “rules of the world” – these are the expectations and messages that fuel shame and often provide the conflicts in many of our stories.
  • Discover why owning your story of struggle, whether heartbreak, disappointment or failure gives you the power to write your own daring ending.
  • Identify how the wisdom of story has the power to make a difference in the world.

For some of my favorite Brené Brown resources, check out “aisle 2” in this post.

Kick tribal shame to the curb.

I talk about tribal shame in this blog post specifically in #2 in the bottom of the post. This is also when I just scratched the surface of what it is to allow joy & sadness to coexist inside of your heart without fighting them.

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Remember, I love you with my whole heart. Bring yours to the table. Plant it and see what grows. I promise, it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL.

The music sampled in the background of my video is from the brilliant soundtrack by Sondre Lerche to one of my favorite Wholehearted movies, Dan in Real Life.

Happy Birthday Selma! Let’s celebrate!


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Happy 1 year birthday to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage Food and Friendship! I’m buzzing with excitement, gratitude and Assam tea. I love you. I love you for reading. For showing up again today! For supporting me here in this blog and with my novel. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And please keep spreading the love and magic–I’ve put the Kindle version on sale for 99 cents here through Tuesday!

1. Live Party on Facebook: Come party with me! I’m having a Facebook party on Thursday, August 11 at 5pm PT/6pm MT/7pm CT/8pm ET. If you’re outside of the U.S., you can use this handy time zone converter. The link to RSVP for the party is here. I hope you can join us! WHAT THE HECK IS A FACEBOOK PARTY? It’s where we hang out together right here. We’ll celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the publication of Selma. I’m going to ask questions like where you’d like to see Selma go next, where you personally like or wish to travel, what books you like and easy fun things like that. Of course, we’ll talk food too! And there will be prizes like gift certificates and Skype book club visits with me!

2. Photo Contest: This week, I’m also announcing a contest to win a $50 gift Visa e-gift card! If you want to jump on the train early, all you have to do is snap a pic with you or your pet or someone or something like food or nature and my book (hard copy or e-reader) and tag me on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #cucalacas. I can’t wait to see what you share!

3. Documentary Trailer for Book 2: I’m writing Book 2 like crazy! I spent nearly a week at Drop Out on Orcas. An amazing internet- and cell-free refuge for creatives in the woods. Just me and the trees. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve always wondered what it’s like for writers when they go off in solitude and write. I figured you may wonder about that too. I’m editing my documentary! I recorded videos every single day to share the process. Oh and please sign up for updates on my site rebeccavillarreal.com where you’ll get the first view of the full documentary once it’s complete. Click here for the trailer.

5% of net proceeds go to Teaching for Change! If you want to relive some of the fun videos and interviews from the last year, check out this blog post!

Two of my favorites and big, big honors for my heart are:

Dharma Blazers interview with Carrie Hensley
Huffington Post article by the talented writer Brandi Megan Garett, PhD 

Thank you again and go bravely into your world…and er, um, one last gift, I recorded this downloadable meditation titled Made of Stars Meditation to Trust in the Divine Plan which has really helped me believe there’s a plan even when things get a little unsteady. I hope it serves you!

Remember, find magic in your everyday life. It’s there!