I am sitting here, writing this letter, on a sultry Saturday evening.
I look across the table in the living room, a corner of which also doubles as a dining room, and I feel drunk on wonder, drunk on love.
And yes, I’m drinking a beautiful glass of Malbec, but I’m not drunk on the wine, because I felt intoxicated before I had a single sip.
Looking across the table, above the screen, slightly to the right I see my daughter, long legs draped over the top of the sofa as she reads her book. Such a bookworm, this gorgeous intelligent FIERY teenager, this dramatic wonderkind of the universe.
I am drunk on love, and life, as I look over at her, the back of her head facing me, the blurred faraway words of her book feeding her spirit, her imagination.
And then, to the left of me on the other side of the dinner table, feet draped up against the other sofa, my daughter’s oldest friend lies on her stomach reading too. Her iPod is held solidly but unused in her right hand as she too reads a book in her left hand, intent, devoted, absorbed.
We, all of us, are minimally clothed because the heat here on Vancouver Island is almost unbearable, despite it being 9:40pm, despite it being mid-August already, despite it all, despite the fan spinning at full speed all day, the windows open, french doors too, our skin is bathed in a slight layer of slippery sweat, our bellies satisfied by a late supper, and our spirits fed by happy storytelling and family squabbles over the dinner.
I can only ask myself again, and again. What did I do to deserve such a life? Watching wonderful young women grow and blossom before me. Writing this letter. Feeling content. Feeling content!
And outside the french doors, I look into the darkness to see a tiny glowy eery light – my landlords, who live in a renovated garage in our backyard, have taken to leaving an LED tealight out at night, on their outdoor patio table. It shifts from green to blue to hot pink, orange to yellow, before cycling through the colours again, and I am reminded of the fig tree, the pond and the blackberry bushes in the backyard. The raspberry bushes, although their season is already past, and in the front yard, a young cherry tree and abundantly fruitful grape arbour.
Such beautiful blessings. What did I do to deserve such a life indeed!
My art room, to my immediate left hand side, is emptied of my art and my art supplies, but filled to the brim by life and energy because I have a 60-something German artist living in my home for 3 weeks, painting and creating and sparking new ideas and sharing her delight in exploring this area and I am filled with joy for the ability to host, to share, to be inspired by other beautiful souls.
I look 2 days into my future, and I know my mother will be arriving for a short visit, and all I can picture is blessings. More and more and more blessings.
Kindred spirits abound. How did I get so lucky?
My heart is stricken too. Just before sitting down to write this letter a favourite poet of mine, Isabel Faith Abbott, shared a note on facebook about a young woman in her 30s who just died of cancer. And this brought to mind my father, who, in his 40s, got leukemia, and died of it at 53.
Stricken by the fact that we think we are so certain that we are set in life, that we have a path leading towards a long life ending in old age and retirement. But the reality is that we really do not ever know how much time we have in this world. And all I know is that, at this moment, surrounded by kindred spirits, growing souls, creative spirits, and the blessed joy of writing my stories to people that read them, I am satisfied. Content. Blooming with joy. Tearful with joy. Yes. Life is so beautiful. I am so fortunate.
There is music playing – my daughter chose some sort of playlist for dinnertime (which she and her friend cooked), which has just kept on playing, and it’s somehow perfect for right now, for my writing, for the day, for the sweltering oppressive yet meltingly gorgeous mood I’m in right now.
Moment by moment, feelings and moods change. And at this moment, oh my god. Life is so scorchingly, unbearably good.
What has brought this gratitude on?
I ask, and I ask, and I am constantly seeking, and I suspect you, reading this, cycle through similar moods of overwhelming joy and divinely deep dissatisfaction.
Well, there is something I can put my finger on.
I attended two workshops today, all oriented around the concept of Deep Democracy.
The morning workshop was all about how to use the work of Deep Democracy to facilitate some volunteer work – an upcoming day that offers and facilitates a rite of passage for young women aged 10-12.
This is work that is so important to me – in a culture that has dropped the rites of passage for girls which are so necessary, as they go through puberty and start to menstruate – we women, of all ages ,are SO hungry for passages and honourings such as these.
So I offered a ceremony to my daughter a year and a half ago, in part because my grief and rage at not receiving that sort of honouring for myself has always been so potent – and now I feel a deep responsibility to hold space for safe celebration for younger women.
Then, in the afternoon, the focus of the workshop was on privilege.
For many people that are identified as ‘white’ by others, and/or by themselves (meaning that you appear to have European ancestry, whether that is the literal truth or not), we have an automatic privilege – certainly in Europe, and certainly in North America, and in certain other areas of the world, but it’s not always an easy thing to admit.
And I will admit this of myself.
In some ways, I have felt deeply underprivileged – as a single mother, who, legally, has experienced a legal system that prioritizes my daughter’s father’s financial needs over mine as the sole caregiver of his daughter, as well as over the needs of my daughter. The it’s-not-fair wail has been fierce and strong and it’s true, it’s deeply unfair, the legal decisions made around how much financial support I get for my daughter (and I’m a frugal person living a modest life – I’m not asking for anything more than backpay and 50% of the basic $$ costs of raising my daughter).
And unraveling the repercussions of being a child of parents that endured alcoholic abusive families and parents, mired in poverty, these experiences come with their own challenges, laborious in the healing.
However. I also have privilege, and I feel it’s important to name and acknowledge my privileges as well as my challenges.
▪ In a culture that values ‘whiteness’ I am privileged to be white.
▪ in a culture that values and rewards people that fit certain norms of being pretty and handsome, I am privileged to be perceived as pretty and attractive by others.
▪ in a culture that proscribes authority and safety to tall people, I am privileged to be a tall person.
▪ I am privileged to have been able to attend university.
▪ I am privileged to have access to medicare. To live in a country that makes medicare available to all of it’s residents.
▪ I have also been privileged to seek and have access to alternative forms of healing.
▪ I am privileged to live in a country that is still relatively pristine.
▪ I am privileged to be from the Yukon, with it’s beauty and small population and access to opportunities and resources far exceeding it’s population base.
▪ I am privileged to be able to enrol and receive financial support for my daughter’s tuition in an alternative Waldorf school.
I am also blessed to be able to access what I believe everyone should have access to, but what not everyone on our planet can access.
▪ I am blessed to live in a country where i have freedom, as a woman, to be single, to be a single mother, and to have control of my own vote, bank account and choices without being punished.
▪ I am blessed to be able to make my own choices about my spiritual life.
▪ I am blessed to be able to access clean water and good food.
▪ I am deeply blessed to be sharing my words and thoughts with you, my readers.
▪ I am blessed to access the internet.
▪ I am blessed to be able to offer the work that I do.
What a blessing to be able to spark bodylove, creative vibrancy and personal ease.
I wish these blessings and privileges for everyone.
And therefore, I have a deep responsibility to work towards that desire.
I feel so humbled and overwhelmed by this task.
I also feel so overjoyed and wildly in love with the possibility of fulfilling this task.
What about you? In what ways are you privileged? I believe there is no shame in admitting our privilege. Because we are all born into different circumstances. But once we admit to privilege, we are able to harness the power of our positions towards making that freedom available to everyone. And so, in what ways are you privileged?
What about your heartbreaks? Your struggles and challenges? In what ways have you grown? What kinds of skills, and, most importantly, empathy, have you gained from it?
Is there a path you sense, a deeper meaning you’re called to pursue? And if so, how can you use your privilege towards your goals? How can you empathize? How are you feeling these days? How can I support that?
I want to hear about it.
with so much appreciation for your reading eyes, and attention,