The Joy Revolution

Yesterday, thousands upon thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets to express their desire for Mugabe to step down. Invited by the war veterans to show support for the defence forces and their actions, this was not a typical invitation, and for many Zimbabweans, these are not our typical allies. Which is perhaps part of what makes it so exquisitely beautiful. We gathered, black, white, mixed race, indian, young, old, rich and poor, street kids, students, activists, war veterans, women, men, civil rights workers and military. 

It was to ask Mugabe to resign after 37 years in power, and yet it was so very much more than that.

What was most remarkable was the absence of hatred and anger. The overwhelming feeling on the streets was joy. My being fills with tears as I touch back into it. I don’t know that I have ever experienced such a collective well-spring of joy. Joy and love and unity that transcended decades of fear, division and hatred.IMG_0384

We were dancing in the streets. We were connected. It was not so much a connection against Mugabe, as it was a connection for our country, for our freedom. It was a day of spontaneous meetings in exuberance. I would catch someone’s eyes, and we would smile, sometimes laugh, and then clasp hands, or high five. Over and over again, these moments of meeting in joy and celebration and coming together. This joy transmuting decades of fear and grief. How extraordinary that such darkness could result in such an outpouring of light and delight ;-). 

We tasted something yesterday that is now a part of our story. Something released. Something shifted. Whatever comes next, there has been a fundamental shift in the field in which we live and breathe.

And it was made possible by the military, They held space for Zimbabweans to step out after fear – and a sense of futility – had held so many of us back for so long. The outpouring of gratitude for the military was extraordinary. Whatever lies in their past, yesterday they had an experience of the gratitude and love that can flow when they hold space for the free expression of their people. Whatever happens next this will have given an experience of what it feels like to be loved, which will hopefully mean something when this moment of opening begins to close down, as it undoubtedly will.

Because life is a process of breathing, expanding and contracting. We are in an expansion. Contraction will at some point follow. As we move on from this day, I hope we go with questions of how we can work with what yesterday made possible: How can we nourish the social field that we are a part of, to support the fertility of this moment? How might we continue to connect across our diversity? 

Yesterday we joined in the march and celebrations with our children. To me this is testament to the deep faith Paul, my husband, and I both have in the fabric of this country. There was a deeper knowing that we would be safe. Yes a little jitter and wondering whether we were insane, but at a more fundamental level a knowing that this impulse is one of peace, not of violence. Service stations and shops were open to sell water, drinks and snacks to people joining the march, rather than shutting down in fear of looting. Women came carrying their babies on their backs. No violence erupted. The only property destroyed were the street signs for Robert Mugabe Road, and some posters with his face on it. It makes me proud of what is moving here. It makes me believe we can find a way. Our ability yesterday to reach out and clasp the hand of the military yesterday (by their tanks!) makes me believe that we have learnt something so vital that we must remember whatever happens.

I met and engaged with more Zimbabweans yesterday than I possibly ever have. I went home enriched with faces and souls. Beautiful old women who beamed like solar constellations; young men drunk with exuberance; the old man who walked behind us, seeing our children and repeating several times ‘they are safe here. Your children are safe here.” And I know he meant in this march, but I also felt him say in this place and country. The old white man with the enormous Boerbull dog who was so proud to be from Zimbabwe. So proud to be here now. The war veteran who was walking with his son, and who wanted a picture of our children together: “our future.” The street kid who looked like his heart was alight. The soldier who in response to my thanking him said “It is done now, it is over.” And my sense was he was speaking of the past that has been holding us back.

We returned home, and while we were uploading our photos we found that our children and their friends were spontaneously erecting a flagpole to hoist the Zimbabwe flag, which we bought in town today. And this morning when we were outside sitting beneath it, my daughter quietly said, “I love the Zimbabwean flag.”

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I love Zimbabwe.

And her people.

And what these days is teaching me about the love and joy that lie deep in our collective. 

I will end with the words of a friend, Amanda:

“Yesterday, after decades of living with fear, oppression and division, Zimbabweans, in one day, countered all that with love, freedom and unity. True UNITY – not a veneer of politically correct, well marketed, lets make it look good for the cameras crap but a deep sense of real oneness. We purged all that heavy negativity that we’ve been carrying around for far too long and replaced it with liberating, laughing, smiling Joy.

The most important thing for me yesterday wasn’t about getting rid of an old man or flipping the middle finger to SADC or showing support to the people that led us onto the streets. It was about each and everyone of us remembering that we really, fucking truly are all ONE. What an empowering realisation that is. Whatever tomorrow holds we will face it together and we will triumph because what happened yesterday has made us strong again.”                       

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I am Dancer

I am Dancer
This is who I am
First and foremost – I am Dancer
Before even being woman, mother, lover, community organizer…
I am dancer

And when I let myself dance
The dance flows, jumps, moves into all my roles
All my states of being
Enlivening, Enriching where it goes
And where it opens

I marvel that this knowing could have been lost to me for so many years
For decades it lay in my forgetting
An education
Filling me with many arbitrary facts and figures
Ideas of what success is and how to strive for it
But little space for my Soul to speak and be heard

Thankfully our return to Africa, to Mama Africa, when I was still a young teenager
helped break through into the beginning of a listening
A listening for heart and meaning
A listening for soul

That brought me to co-create
a trans-local learning community of pioneers with friends
And then Kufunda Village with friends and family
And still it was to be years for the listening to finally bring me
from the rich journey of arriving into the work of my heart
To the Movement of my soul

As Dancer

Dancing my Lifeforce
My Prayers
My Grief
My Joy
My Love

I am Dancer

Will you dance with me?

Nurturing my Relationship(s) with all of Life

Yesterday a small group of women spent time in a friend’s garden
We were on a mini-solo
staying with whatever caught our attention in the garden
Being open to nature
is it came to meet and greet us
after the first summer rains

I was astounded at how rich it is
How much is there
Right there where I have stepped
every week for so many weeks
But this was seemingly my first time to Truly see it,
When I finally consciously chose to go and meet the world

I saw the Crested Barbit, the very small lizard, the Chongololos making their way quietly, returned with the rain,
looking as if they had never left;
the log that has been placed for us to sit on,
the myriad colours of green, that were surely there the day before,
but which shone so much brighter after the rain.
The Bourgainvillia and the many many flowers, red, white, orange, yellow, purple
whose names I don’t know;
the beautiful rocks, placed lovingly in a basin of water,
the bird bath glistening in the sun,
the cacti,
the crooked twists of the trunks and branches of the many different trees

It felt like a haven, a miraculous paradise on this earth.

I have often appreciated Bev’s garden
But yesterday I met it in a way I have not before

And I wondered, and I wonder
how much of the gifts and miracles of life
pass me by
as I move through my life
with my awareness turned inward
moving through the stories and the dramas of my own delightful mind 🙂

I am learning something about the quality of Relationships
And that I am in relationship with all of life – not only human beings:
The earth beneath my feet,
The Trees that grow in my garden
The many birds that nest above me, the wind, the rain, the butterflies, the bats, the rocks,

And it is my choice how conscious I wish to be about those relationships

As with all relationships as I engage with them,
I discover new gifts, immense beauty.

I am discovering a world of magic,
Just waiting for me to reach out and touch it

What does it mean to be human?
In a world full of magic
To truly be human in a world full of magic…

I suspect the answer is something so much vaster
than what I have been living until now

Like the unfurling of a new shoot
I open myself and reach out
into a fresh new world

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Practicing Belonging

5 weeks ago I arrived with my two children to Dar Es Salaam.
We were joining my husband here for 10 weeks. He has taken a new job here, and I with the children will spend half my time here for the next three years.

I am reminded of a plant that is transplanted.
And that needs extra care as its roots enter the new soil.
I did not consider this when I arrived. A part of me felt perhaps bad for leaving my village and my work behind – and so instead I got extra busy. How much more I would be able to accomplish from here, where I had no meetings, but just lots of glorious time.This was my thinking.

I landed and I got busy:
Fundraising proposals
Programme updates
Skype calls
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When there was a little moment of space I filled it with more
I had a spectacular entry into learning how to bake sourdough bread
I baked and baked and baked until I had it down pat
and then I baked some more
rye bread
cinnamon rolls
whole wheat bread
raisin rolls

To say that there was a manic quality to my arrival in Tanzania would be an understatement
Shopping things for the home
Playing with the kids (downloading multiple waldorf home schooling books, to get that little details sorted while I was at it all 🙂
skyping, doing, baking

And then I woke many mornings in a row
exhausted
uneasy
listless
sad
and I wondered
what is going on?
Why can I no longer rouse myself?
My dance became slow and heavy
I kept baking, skyping, doing

And then I saw it,
From a conversation with a friend,
and then more fully the next morning
in the dance
the wound that all this was springing from:
A need to do,
A belief that I have to Do to be of value,
that I need to earn my room and board on planet earth

To simply stop, and land, and settle and arrive
feel the sand under my feet, the wind on my face, the sun on my shoulders
this would not do.
This would surely not do.

Of course the seeing of something like this
is the first step towards its losing its power
And so I made a commitment to myself to take five days off.
Five days of just being here.
The anxiety that the thought of five days of stillness induced
was another sign that something was way off
But I stopped.
I read Jane Austen (she had never made it into my reading list, and may never return, although it was a delightful little intermission)
I played with my children
I danced
We went to the beach
I journaled – though even this felt sometimes like too much effort
All in all I did nothing much that could be called by my mind
particularly productive or beneficial to something larger 🙂
And yet it was such a healing balm to me and perhaps my children also.

The days went, one and then the other
And the image of the transplanted plant came to me
and the feeling of my roots sinking in
and the gratitude for how quickly it was actually happening
once I allowed myself to be present to where I was
Here.
Now.

I danced a dance of Belonging.
I belong. I am loved.
Even when I am not Doing.
Doing has nothing to do with belonging.
Belonging has to do with belonging. Being here now.
And the manic doing is perhaps not so very pleasant
For anyone.

I am back in ‘work’
Still redefining what that means
Noticing what really fills me with joy
And what is being done from the wound
From the need to be a productive contributor to my community
From the need to be of value

Not that it is bad to want to give
But when it is coming from a fear of not belonging
(and here I speak of a more fundamental sense of belonging
To life, to the planet, to Pachamama),
It is not so healthy
When it is coming from love, delight of giving, joy of expressing my gifts,
It is a very different thing.

Dancing, moving, being,

Learning to simply be. Learning to simply Be
That that is not only enough.
That that is all I am ever required to do –
for right action flows from this place.
Beautiful, strong, inspired action
springs from this place.

I can still bake
I can still skype
I can still do
But I don’t have to.

 

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Joseph dancing on the beach

Celebrating Freedom

Today is Zimbabwe’s independence day.
Technically we are celebrating 34 years of independence (so young!).

I have decided to join the celebrations today.
And to celebrate a slight different aspect than the political technicalities of freedom.

I am celebrating today the freedom that dances in my cells.
The freedom that is rising in people everywhere –
And in the people of Zimbabwe.
to follow and live our own deep Joy

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I am choosing to make today a celebration
for all those of us, in ways big and small,
Who are making space in our lives
for that which brings the deepest joy
different for each one of us,
equally valid for each one of us

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For me, personally, it is the freedom
To dance each morning,
simply because it makes me feel deeply good
The freedom to love my dogs insanely (I just finished feeding all five of them) 🙂
To serve the children,
to create a safe container for their free and beautiful spirits to flourish
as we create a school that can be big enough to love and hold and support them in their journey

The freedom to follow a path of calling forth the medicine of women
beginning with my own
The freedom to fall in love each day, many times over
with whatever connects to my heart and soul
trees, people, animals, life, you name it!

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I celebrate today
The freedom that I am experiencing at Kufunda
As people are choosing increasingly
to show up as themselves
instead of what our culture has told us to be
Sikethiwe, Fidelis, Admire, Tsitsi, Anna Tenis, Maria, Enock, Ethel,
and so many more
slowly but surely standing up to be yourselves
I honour you deeply
I see your deep grace, power, beauty,
And thank you for showing up
Life is richer – infinitely – with you in it 🙂

IMG_0620IMG_6387I celebrate today
The freedom I am experiencing in all our children here
as they discover that their curiosity and delight
are gifts that we treasure and welcome
Tino, Maki, Joseph, Emily, Claudia, Alice, Ayemu, Ngoni…
and all of you that I haven’t mentioned by name
You are sooo beauitful
Your gifts are already taking us all by storm

 Today I celebrate 
The freedom I experience in pockets of Zimbabwean society
freedom to speak, to sing, to dance,
to express the soul of this place and this people
To make choices that go against the grain of so much of what is here
Simply because it is what our free souls must do

Freedom to choose love over hate
Simply because hate feels heavy and toxic
and love brings joy and space and possibility and grace
Today I brought Mugabe into my dance
With gratitude
for all that he has taught us
May we learn the lessons well
Aah that he would join this dance of celebrating
the deeper freedoms that are rising here
One day perhaps he shall

For now I celebrate
with a light and overflowing heart
with delight in my being
for the joy and the freedom
that live here already
And for the MUCH more of it
that I know is possible and is on its way
as more and more and more of us
begin to choose
the dance of freedom

 Dancing on into freedom

…. At 42 I am exploding into my freedom and into my Self
All the old, boring, limiting nice-ness finally being swept away
by my dancing feet, and drumming heart
All those limitations of old
Fuelling my desire and clarity for Shift
That welcomes each of us
To Fully Show Up
in connection
To be Here Now
As the Noble, Awesome, Shiny people we each already are 🙂

Me, Alice, and my late Grandmother. Taken years ago.
Me, Alice, and my late Grandmother. Taken years ago.

 

Children at the centre
Lucia at Nyeredzi

 

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Fidelis Masimba

 

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Tsitsi

 

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Emily, Lillian, and Mary

 

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Hlekisani hugging Joseph

 

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Mukudzei dancing with the village

 

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Gogo Zonde and friend on their way to build compost toilets

 

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Community women celebrating at the funeral of Auntie Marie. Yes celebrating her life and her death with exuberant human joy

 

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Anna and Patricia – Stripey ladies at Women Are Medicine

 

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Prayer, Admire’s son

 

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Ethel


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Gratitude

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journals from a Month of Dancing

August quickened something in me, and the voice that has quietly been whispering to dance, to dance, to dance became more insistent until there was nothing for me to do, but ‘put on my dance shoes’. Those would be my bare feet. Find good music, turn up the volume, empty my house of my family – and Dance.

And so I did. This Saturday. For an hour and a half. Having been conscious for so long that I don’t have a teacher or a group, I suddenly found simply Soul. What more is needed? Really?

Let me offer my one and only disclaimer as I enter into this month of dance and of sharing it:  This writing may seem a little fantastical at times, my experience is not of groovy cool Sunday afternoon dancing. It is of learning to dance my souls expression. To release, to surrender, to enter into a union of sorts…. Me and life, me and Mother, me and the essence of my soul.

It is – I realise – time to stop apologizing for not fitting into the mold of the normal world and normal language. Especially when it is one that we have so blatantly robbed of magic and mystery. And so – disclaimer aside – I realise this is in fact a journey into those very elements of Magic and of Mystery, through my body and through the gift of music.

I come to it with Gratitude.

During my first dance, I was stunned at the fury and wildness of what was released.

When my husband returned – with my mother in law – I wondered how I would keep dancing. He suggested our bedroom is big enough for me not to have to empty the house of people. And in fact it is. So the very next day, I did my second dance.

In this I had a moment of feeling that I was Mother dancing. I was both she and me – and perhaps we truly are one. There was great gratitude for the gift of being able to dance life with consciousness – from me And from life.

During this same dance, the warrior rose more strongly in me, and I remembered that in the medicine wheel as summarized by Angeles Arrien, the medicine or healing salve of the warrior is dance. And here I was dancing my way back into power, vitality, life force. Hear my cry – it is fierce.

My third day of dance was the day where I made a commitment to keep doing this for 30 days. Yeah!

In this dance I had such a strong experience of: “for this i was born”. My ego hastens to apologise to claim the name Dancer, and yet it is much more than this. I was born to express my Soul, my joy, my spark. And this is what I was doing last night, spinning wildly in my bedroom. Aren’t we all born for this expression?

I was using a Gabrielle Roth five rhythms compilation. She offers guidance in this one – and her words entered me through the experience…”Don’t do the dance, let the dance do you. Don’t do the dance, let the dance do you”. “It is all prayer”. yes it is. This is sacred practice.

And such fun too!

As day four begins my body is a little tired. My spirit is strong. My husband says I feel more open, more light and playful, stronger, clearer, sharper but also more gentle. And a lot more self-absorbed :).

My children are joining me in moments. Pre-bed family dance, early morning rising dance. Demanded by them. These are short. Dance-snippets, but they are beautiful.

I may be jumping the gun, but I have a sense that i am diving into a month that will change something at a fundamental level in me and in how I relate to the world. At this point it seems like simply this: to know and experience at a cellular level that I can open myself to Life force, to joy, to flow. Those are not in the hands of another. They are in my hands. As I open, as a I move – I enter more fully, the river of Life. She flows fast. I am not in control. But I am learning to swim, and to dance with life.

Gabrielle’s last words yesterday were “You are the Dance.”

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How we Gather

ria&pattie

I am in the middle of what seems like a new learning. A deepening of what I have already known, to the extent that it feels like an entirely new discovery.

This is my re-discovery: How we gather affects our outcomes. How well prepared. How clear on intention. How open or closed. How speedy or slow. How connected or disconnected. How attached to outcomes, or open to what will emerge. Joy, contentment, tiredness, irritation, overwhelm. Either of these, or combinations thereof, will follow depending on how we come together.

It is utterly astounding to me to realise just how deeply true this is. How much is affected by the attention and care we place on the act of coming together, preparing a meeting, opening, holding, closing. In our eagerness for results, and in the busy world we live in, it seems that these are often seen as frills. We don’t have time to fully tend to the preparation, or to the full life of a process – and yet without it, we loose so much of what could be possible.

I am learning in particular that as we learn to gather from a place of open-heartedness, perhaps even Love, we not only become wiser in our deepened connection, we also physiologically somehow become able to revitalise and energise ourselves and each other.

For me – it has thus become an imperative, that I do everything I can to help shape each encounter, and each gathering, to foster such a connection. I feel clumsy in my attempt at describing this, but it feels that what I am learning and re-learning is what it takes, quite literally, to shift the consciousness of an encounter, a meeting, a process…

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At Kufunda Learning Village we had fallen into the rut of our weekly meetings having become very task oriented. They were the least inspired place of our village (mostly), and several issues were being discussed with only a few voices repeating themselves. There was little collective wisdom at play, and oftentimes we left our weekly Village Circle feeling drained and tired, although we might have managed to tick off many items on our to-do list.

One day – after one too many such meetings – I decided, no more. I could not sit through one more lacklustre meeting. And so I experimented with a practice called inscaping that friends of mine from Organization Unbound have highlighted in their work. Inscaping, in brief, involves “drawing upon the inner experiences of members during the normal course of work to shape and guide the organisation.” Inner experiences include intuitions, ideas, curiosities, aspirations, fears, values, biographies, etc.

The specific exercise during this first meeting was about checking in with each other in smaller groups around our inner experience of our work, using this broader definition of inner. Before we did so, we each wrote down our assumptions about how the others in our group were experiencing their work. By the end of this simple check-in, the atmosphere in the room had palpably shifted. I think primarily the act of bringing a wider sense of our work experience into our dialogue was the main cause. But also taking time to consider how we thought our work mate was doing was part of a more full opening up to other.

I found myself happily surprised at the sharing of the two of my colleagues that I was connecting with. During the every day humdrum, we seldom take the time, I realised, to share from a more emotive, intuitive, reflective place around our work. We took the exercise one step further, and so as we came back together as a whole group, we passed a talking piece and shared something personal about ourselves that we hadn’t shared at work before. People I have worked with for ten years, became more nuanced to me, and I felt my heart open as people shared beautiful, sometimes challenging, stories about what was going on in their life right now.

Then we spent about 15 minutes going through our typical to-do list. Not only did we manage to complete it much faster than normal, the quality of our thinking together was also palpably heightened. There was something in our field that enabled us to cut through things more cleanly and clearly. At the end we all remarked on how energising and in fact deeply nourishing this meeting had been. Almost all of us had come in tired and left feeling invigorated. Inspired even. And with a revitalised connection.

As I look back on it now, I think what this did, and what subsequent encounters have done, is activate a wider intelligence and a wider resource, as this fuller, deeper part of us was allowed into the meeting. Furthermore, the conversation was activating a more intimate connection between us, which – I think – allowed for information to flow more easily and for thinking to become more coherent, even as differences were raised. It’s almost like there was a stronger field built between us allowing for this flow of ideas and energy to occur. I left that afternoon feeling excited at the realisation that not only do we have access to this collective intelligence, if we tend to the field from which it rises, but also to collective energy.

Over the past two weeks I have had several more such experiences. Our Village Council (the Kufunda Leadership Circle), which does good and important but oftentimes tiring work, began its last meeting with a deeper check in. And then before getting down to business, we spent time reflecting on the purpose of our group and the extent to which we felt we were achieving it. By the end, we had identified some important systemic challenges in how we had been working together. We slowed way down to be in this more quiet reflection – and ended up spending most of the meeting on this. The last 15-20 minutes were spent on critical issues once more – and again they moved clearly and cleanly, and again we were rejuvenated by our time together.

I think this way of connecting is common to the Art of Hosting work, and so in some ways it has been a part of our village for years. What I am realising is how easy it is to speed up, even when we use our practices – circle, talking pieces, powerful questions, etc.. As we return to the artistry of thinking together, I am recognising more nuances and subtleties in what it means and takes to bring the deeper intelligence that is always present to the fore.