Kundalini Splendor

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Patricia Follows Her Bliss 

Recently, several of my friends have been talking about "following their bliss" (and some are doing it). Some are, for one reason or another, hesitant to take the "big step," which may change their lives dramatically. Here is a post from Patricia Lay-Dorsey's blog (www.windchimewalker.blogspot.com) This amazing woman, now in her sixties, is beginning yet another new chapter in her event filled life:

Monday, August 22, 2005
An inkling of what comes next...
Do you, like I, find you have to give up the old before there's space for the new to come your way?

This morning before putting up my blog, I'd emailed Kathy and Nancy of the Raging Grannies to tell them of my decision to take time out from being a Raging Granny. Actually I'd told Kathy in a phone call maybe a week ago, but today seemed to make it official, especially after I'd posted it on my blog. By the way, it was a decision I'd been sitting with for months and had suspected for a long time before that.

It was simply time to go forward. But to what?

I had no idea except to know it would involve more than simply dissent or resistance to what I see as destructive/damaging/wrong-headed choices by those in power. I knew my new focus must address the realities of WHAT IS while offering ways to move beyond these realities. I need to be part of creating the world I want to leave to those who will come after us. I must be PRO-active not just RE-active. But how?

Three gatherings this summer have brought forward pieces of the puzzle of who I am and how I can best impact the world for good. At the Continent In Song in Saskatchewan in June, I learned that I have a gift for speaking in front of groups in a voice that moves the listeners deeply. At the Writers' Workshop at Leaven Center in July, I saw that I have the capacity to see inside the experiences of others and bring that forward in words. At the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival a week ago, the young women and womyn of color helped me see that I can bridge differences between generations, races and abilities just by being myself. And underlying those three awarenesses is the fact that I have been committed to justice and respect for ALL beings since I was a small child.

So where does that lead me? As of a couple of hours ago, I now have an inkling.

On Thursday morning at festival, I was visiting with Andrea, a DART sister-camper who works as a social worker in Boston. I have always admired her intelligent, truth-telling way of being in the world. As we talked, she was rushing to get dressed for a workshop facilitated by a woman whom she said was excellent. The workshop, which was being held right next door in the DART Workshop tent, was called "Where Do I Have Privilege?" and was being facilitated by Jona Olsson of Cultural Bridges. I decided to go. By the way, it was the ONLY workshop I attended the entire week.

Perhaps 30 women showed up. As we soon discovered, we were a wonderfully diverse group. Jona started by showing us what she called the Cage of Oppression, a drawing that identified things like racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, ageism, lookism (how we physically look to others), and ableism. She spoke briefly about each of these before asking that, in this workshop, we focus more on our places of privilege rather than staying stuck in where we feel oppressed. For many of the women that meant looking at something besides sexism and homophobia.

Her technique for helping us see our places of privilege was first to ask three women who identified as heterosexual to come forward and dialogue among themselves about what it meant day-to-day to be heterosexual in a culture that values that way of being in relationship. The rest of us were to listen and try to take in what was being said. After five minutes or so, those women went back to their places and three different women were asked to come forward. These women, self-identified lesbians, were to dialogue on THEIR day-to-day experiences of being gay in our culture. This same process was repeated for each type of oppression and their respective places of privilege. What an eye-opener!

After the workshop I spoke with Jona about the possibility of bringing her to Detroit and Ann Arbor to facilitate such workshops with groups that were coming to mind, workshops not just on privilege but on other topics regarding cultural diversity and dismantling oppression.

Two days ago I received an email from Laurel, a young activist from Ann Arbor with whom I'd talked at the beginning of the workshop when Jona had invited us to go up to someone we didn't already know. In it she told me that Jona would be coming to Michigan State University this autumn to facilitate a workshop on challenging homophobia, and would I like to join her in trying to set up other workshops in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. Of course, I said YES!

So this morning I called Jona at her home in New Mexico to get more information. As we talked I heard her mention something about training trainers around the country to do this work where they live. I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do. Jona said they're looking at holding a Cultural Bridges training session in 2006, perhaps at a retreat center in New Mexico. I am now on her list of persons who would like to be trained.

It feels SO RIGHT.

copyright, Patricia Lay-Dorsey

And it is! Thanks, again, Patricia, for serving as an inspiration to us all, and showing us that it is never, ever too late to "follow your bliss!" (for those of you who don't know Patricia, she is an elder who lives with her husband in Michigan. Formerly a social worker, she has for years been an ardent peace activist, an artist and writer, a mover and shaker in many, many ways. She herself is "other abled" and travels to peace rallies and jazz concerts and choral workshops all over the country in her special van. Her journal on her website (www.windchimewalker.com) is read by hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people all over the world. Her site is dedicated to "creative disability" and includes many beautiful examples of her own artwork and photography as well as insightful essays on social issues and accounts of her many, many daily activities, from swimming laps to volunteering at schools in the inner city of Detroit.
Patricia, once again, I am proud to call you my friend!

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