Abscond

Standard

earthquake and thunderstorms

alter the vibes of peace

sometimes, life goes rattling

insecure and uncertain

heart and mind misaligned

flames feed from

bottoms of your soles

abrade against concrete

remnants of burning scents

as you marathon the path

the unknown direction

as long as it heads ‘away’

away is comfortable

to stand and face mirrors

challenges every cell

cuffed with shame and guilt

so you run, shackled

ball and chain

you tire easily and wonder why

the key to bliss in arm’s reach

but running moves feet

motion lulls the mind

it’s temporary though

good sneakers will take you far

minus the restraints.

(c) Liza Morales

Advertisements

Notice the Fear

Standard

So once again, fear took over my body. I recognized it immediately and had myself breathe through it. I reminded myself, this fear was fake and that I wasn’t going to allow it to control me nor stop me from speaking.

When I prepared to speak, the fear traveled from my chest to my throat, then clutched and contracted.
I couldn’t speak.
I didn’t speak. 
I felt so disappointed in myself.

This is something I’ve been working on. There are times I conquer the fear (for that moment) and then there are times it conquers me. I keep reminding myself – it’s okay. The process is continual. Sometimes, I take two steps forward and then I may take one step back. That doesn’t make me a failure, as long as I keep working on it. This choke hold will soon lose its power. I just have to stop giving it the power. Not every time, I’m as courageous but I will remain relentless.

So, whenever I’m consumed with emotions or have questions, I quiet myself and pause and typically will submerge myself in nature. And without question, realignment to inner peace occurs.
Today, in the midst of tears & meditation by the water, some breezes came gusting through. My breaths became more intentional, exhaling anything that served as a blockade to my higher being. I literally felt a load of low vibrational crap blow away and drift off into the sea.

I walked away feeling so much lighter. Thank you Mother Earth.
45596953_10215271528999162_5340531097996361728_o

Badmouthing the Co-parent to a Child

Standard

badmouthing-kids-coparenting.jpg
Nah, FUCK him!“, among other things, is what I overheard her say about the co-parent of her 11 year old son, Adam, with him standing just feet away.

My heart pounded so hard for him. It’s almost as if I felt what he felt as he stood there listening to his mother badmouth his father. It’s not her first time either. She’s been this way for years. His older brother experienced the same thing, with the bad-mouthing towards his father.

Adam’s shoulders dropped and crouched forward with his head tilting to the side. I called him over to ask him a question and his eyes were drooping from the pound of her words. The pain that runs through Adam is real and probably even disorienting.
You see, children have the propensity to love their parents, unconditionally, beyond their transgressions. Their personal identity comes partially from each parent. Therefore, the defamation of a parent can be internalized as the defamation of that child. As a result, this behavior can backfire, with the child building resentment towards the parent who’s doing the badmouthing.

Interparental rivalry can be detrimental to a child’s mental health. It can place pernicious weight on the child’s psychological and emotional state. It is hurtful to hear someone badmouth someone you love and when being subjected to the denigration of one’s parent, it may put them in a position of feeling obligated to take sides, though they don’t feel what their parent expressed about the other. This can birth feelings of guilt or shame. It’s also disrespectful to the child and their relations with the other parent. Yet, the child may not have the tools to express themselves verbally, so this dysfunctional influence may cause them to internalize these burdens. Eventually, the impact of these burdens will seep out negatively. It can lead to self hatred, low self-esteem, poor school grades, substance abuse, a lack to thrive and so on. Children are helpless and lack the capacity to change their situation or the climate of their home life. This powerlessness is inevitable, especially for an 11 year old child. It seems like the only power he can obtain is how to survive these wounded acts.

It’s understandable that there may be resentment, unmet expectations, betrayal, and various pains involved among the adults but it is selfish and of great disservice to the child(ren) for a parent to mar the other parent, directly to a child or even indirectly, within their ear’s reach. That negativity can alter the child(ren)’s sense of self. It can also teach a child an unhealthy way to deal with adversities. It teaches inappropriate communication and also that it’s acceptable to be verbally insulting. As the adult, it would behoove one to learn to channel their emotions, thoughts and feelings about the co-parent. It’s a matter that should be dealt with among the adults, not spewed onto the child(ren). Along with the verbal and emotional abuse, these parents tend to draw out patterns of inconsistent disciplining, disloyalty and the blame game in all regards. These qualities (consciously or unconsciously) are being ingrained into the child. The loudest form of teaching is demonstration.

Learning to compartmentalize adult issues is advantageous, not only to oneself but also for the child(ren) involved. It is crucial to learn to separate adult issues from the child’s realm, especially if it involves displeasure, anger or degradation. The child(ren) would be spared the distress of a matter that’s not theirs to carry. At the same time, it would teach the child(ren) how to deal with real life issues in a mature fashion. All parents (together or not), should aim to have a healthy or at least a civil relationship with the co-parent. It provides a safe space for the child(ren) and also strengthens the character of a child. Choosing to consciously compartmentalize negative thoughts or feelings of the other parent would actually be an act of love. The status of one’s relationship should not contribute to a child’s fears or discomfort. They should be able to trust each parent. They deserve the opportunity to witness healthy interactions. They deserve to know what loyalty and respect look like.

Spare our children this trauma… please!

©2018 Liza Morales

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

― Frederick Douglass

 

Maiming the Island

Standard

12888579_10207396417606299_8405196409956359334_o

oppression lives in my last name
a name that identifies
the trunk I branched from
with roots anchored
in Puerto Rico

Morales, from Aibonito
surname of Spanish origin, meaning
‘one who’s lived by a mulberry bush’

and mom’s side, Nieves
from Arecibo
‘Our Lady of the Snows’

la Isla where great-grandma
was forced to flee, with
ten kids on hips and back
because discrimination
said her fair skin ought
not to link with black
she birthed brown babies
outcast,
abandoned and
chased across the ocean

Papa, my grandfather
loved la Isla
in a shared tin house
nestled in
the middle of the island
but colonialism is tough
a family needs more
than white rice and eggs
he flew to New York
in the fifties
and ran a bodega

Puerto Rico was enslaved
stripped of sugar cane
and coffee crops
where people were massacred
on Palm Sunday
and restricted to vote
for president
today’s debilitation
speaks the same dialect
intentional disabling
restricting resources
maiming the people

over 4,000 Puerto Ricans dead
4,000 human beings, blood
same that flows through me
veins, impassioned vessels
an oceanic causeway
for the ancestor’s voice
that’s bubbled in rage
for basic human rights
as people are sucked
into the mouths of hurricanes
the president plays golf

my people struggle
to keep afloat
half-baked under
Caribbean sun
casas, no roof
no electricity,
no running water
the mountains care more
than the U.S. government
paper towels thrown at us
and FEMA, aborted

heart monitors cease
dialysis machines stop
intubated lungs deflate
life support loses breath
thousands of people die
they even lie about that
a genocide formulation
as their eyes peer our land
gluttonous fingertips
reaching, to swipe our soil
while bodies perish in despair
they ignore the screams
entangled in palm trees
and the straining gurgles
that ebb and flow ashore

politicians are thieves
a ravenous culture
profiting from our deaths
and destructed properties
eyeing opportunities
from our misfortune
narcissists with agendas
look to capitalize
on coquis and
beauteous beaches
indigenous wail
as gushing wounds
are preyed on
and gasping breaths
ignored

lack of humanity scares me
this level of disconnect

chains are still clanking
the Jones Act snickers
oppression is real
and has lived too long
but our spirits
won’t allow us to give up
because our family names
remind us of those before us
and the fight they fought
to the fight we fight
with spines split forth
bent and hung over
a shattered land
but ancestors uplift
with valor and strength
to bolster our souls
above the peak
of Cerro de Punta

so, let it be known
we will figure it out
we will revive the soil
and plant new seeds
earth will reciprocate
all that we’ve sown
what’s ours is ours
and so it is.

©Liza Morales

http://hispanecdotes.com/maiming-the-island/

Saying Yes to Myself

Standard

I had been wanting to do something to challenge and nourish my craft in writing for quite some time. I was becoming aware of a yearn in me for expansion and a need for connection. My spirit was starting to feel a sense of entrapment. This particular feeling prompted me to think about Anaïs Nin’s quote,

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Through reflection and honesty, I gained cognizance that I myself had been getting in my own way. If I keep it real and take it a step further, I had been getting in my own way and was well aware of it. I just simply allowed it.

Why?
Because it kept me safe. The refusal of taking risks meant eliminating the possibility to fail. That felt good for a while but then it didn’t. Limiting myself and allowing fears and doubt to control me evolved to an acute sense of unnaturalness. So, I made a decision to take measures towards my expansion and growth.

How?
I didn’t have a definitive answer. I just knew I had to move and take steps.

To where?
Who knows? I just had to start trekking these steps in a forward direction.

I logged onto facebook and browsed through my notifications and took notice I had received an invite to the ‘Live Big Girl’ workshop by the beautiful, poet-sister Vanessa Chica from the ‘Live Big Girl’ play, which also features Karina G-Lopez and Rebeca Lois. The workshop was commencing on my birthday weekend and I figured what better way to treat myself than this time to write, learn and share. The only possible obstacle would be, getting the day off from work because I work every weekend. I’m glad to say, I got the day off quite effortlessly. I attended the workshop and was elated to give myself that time. It was my first writing workshop. From there, I started planting seeds, germinating with a vision board. In the midst of creating this vision board, I was reminded of the importance in finding my voice. Not only to find my voice but to be active in using it.

Vision Board

A few weeks later, I received an invite from Alicia Anabel Santos, the CEO and Founder of NYC Latina Writers Group, to the 4th Annual Sankofa Sisterhood Writer’s Retreat. I smiled hugely when I saw this invitation, knowing that it was the universe communicating with me. I viewed it as a response to what I had been meditating on. The universe was handing me a direct link to my next step. Now, it was a matter of saying ‘YES’ and showing up for myself. I had no idea what I’d be getting into, I just knew I had to go, even though I’d have my fears and doubts in tow.

The retreat was being held in the Catskills, upstate NY for Memorial Day weekend and I was afraid that would present a challenge with my job being that I was scheduled to work the weekend, including the Monday holiday. The retreat was months away. I figured I shouldn’t have too much of an issue getting approved for the time off. So, I filled out the ‘request off’ sheet and handed it in to my boss.

I was denied.

She said ‘no’ because I was already scheduled to work and that it was my responsibility to work it. She went on explaining that there wasn’t anyone to cover me. Typically, in a case like this, I’d accept the answer, be disappointed for awhile, and then move on with my life. But for some reason, this time was different. My spirit didn’t allow me to accept her ‘no’ so conveniently. At that point, my internal dialogue reminded me that I was responsible for my efforts. So, I asked myself had I put my best foot forward in making this happen for myself and if so, then perhaps at that point I’d let it go. That wasn’t the case though. So, I took some initiative and started personally going around the department asking other technologists if they’d be so gracious enough to cover my shifts at the hospital. I explained my situation in detail to them. Understandably, many declined. I received ‘no’ after ‘no’ after ‘no’. They went on telling me they were going to a bbq, or one had to work at their other job and another was going to Lake George. As I was hearing these varying responses, there was a voice in me, whispering “you’re going to this retreat”

In the meanwhile, the non-refundable deposit’s due date had already passed and I had not submitted the monies. For a moment, I got a little nervous because in the physical realm, it appeared as if I wasn’t going to be able to attend. Then, there was another part of me that was refusing to accept that as truth. I cautioned myself to walk by faith and not by sight and consequently, I kept hearing that little voice, “you’re going to this retreat”.

I then began negotiating with a coworker (which is not like me), offering to work her holiday, if she’d work mine. To my surprise, she came back to me a couple of weeks later and accepted the offer. Then, I had another coworker agree to cover the Saturday and Sunday shift. Apparently, he needed the extra money.

Boom!

And just like that, I was relieved of my duties for that weekend. I was so proud of myself for not settling for that initial ‘no’. My spirit’s ‘YES’ superseded my boss’ and everyone else’s ‘no’. Hooray to me for being relentless about the situation! Hooray to me for believing in myself and honoring myself with the things I deserve!

Anaïs Nin’s words resonated,

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

__________________

I had the honors of attending the retreat after all. My persistence paid off and my ‘YES’ felt so good. Alicia Anabel Santos even emphasized the gravity in saying ‘YES’ and showing up for ourselves. She’s a New York-born Dominican educator, writer and healer who cares enough to create a safe space for women of color to become empowered in writing their stories. She facilitated the ‘Strengthening the Writer’s Core’ workshop, in which she guided us through self-revelation and fortification through scenes, music and the 5 phases of movement. She also held a guided meditation every morning at 7:30am. We stretched, breathed and wrote. It was the perfect way to start the day.

33862786_10213983270513505_1845637598454743040_n (2)

Yoseli Castillo co-facilitated this retreat. She is a Dominican poet-activist-teacher who is funny and full of life. She’s passionate about her work and of the lives she inspires. She facilitated the ‘Closing Reflection on Movement’ workshop and prompted reflection and presence. She also served as the emcee for the Sankofa Open Mic, in which I will never forget. One of her missions was to keep it culturally enhanced, as she accomplished with her plantain microphone. It was such a fun night!

33743052_10213985691614031_3694429760194084864_n

Alicia and Yoseli co-created this space for writers, women of color to partake in the prioritization of our self, our mind, heart and pen. They created a space intentionally set for sisterhood and humanness. They created a structure of support. They created a space free of judgment. They created a space to nurture the spirit and the temple. All of this amounts to a space of healing, which is the ultimate bestowal.

33720312_10213990727059914_6430021557753479168_n (2)

The retreat’s keynote was New York-born Honduran Boricua, Vanessa Mártir, educator-writer, who was published in the recent NY Times Bestseller ‘Not That Bad’, edited by Roxanne Gay. She facilitated the ‘Writing and the Body’ workshop, in which she holds a mirror prompting us to look within, to peel the layers, as painful or uncomfortable as may be and then write. She also guided us to connect and release to the earth, which was very homey for me. I felt lighter after it.

33579834_10213975529639988_2864806708998307840_n

The last workshop facilitator was Bronx-born Puerto Rican poet, performance artist, activist, teacher, Reiki practitioner, Mariposa Fernandez. She facilitated the ‘Feeling & Healing’ and Performance workshops. Both were extremely beneficial. She provided tools and tips on performance, which I’m so grateful for and performed Reiki Medicine on us, which brought a nice balance to the environment and the work we were doing.

33583468_10213973857438184_9172838216154218496_n

The physical body was prioritized by having the amazing Afro-Dominicana, Chef and owner of Woke Foods, Ysanet Batista, to feed every temple there with healthy and conscious meals. She prepares sustainable foods that keep close to ancestral eating, with high consumption of plant based meals. She’s an educator, organizer and farmer-in-training who nurtures with love ingrained in her hands.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________
Since the retreat, I am a changed woman. There has been a shift in my heart, my soul and my womb. I have gained new tools, a rejuvenated spirit, new sister-friends and a different outlook on this work. I am super grateful for the encouragement and inspiration. This weekend will forever be treasured.

If you’re a woman who writes, looking for inspiration and connection or just a space that reminds you ‘you’re not alone’, consider attending the next Sankofa Sisterhood Writer’s Retreat. I promise you, you won’t leave the same.

Sakofa

The lesson here: never give up on yourself. You deserve the best of you and whatever it takes to get there.

© 2018 Liza Morales

Marina Abramović and my attraction to her

Standard

The first time I was exposed to Marina Abramović’s work was while perusing social media. I bumped into a video clip of ‘The Artist is Present’ at MoMA in New York City. She sparked my interest immediately. I thought “Who is she?”, “What is she creating?”, “How do you spell her name? I’mma google her.”

Since then, I’ve been researching her and her work and I’ve been totally drawn. So drawn that the moment I recognized my fascination in her, I had to pause and ask myself why. I wondered ‘what is it about her that moves me?’. It didn’t take long to realize, I was magnetized to her authenticity. I was captivated by her fearlessness. I observed some of her work and became aware of how she actually uses herself, her physical body, as the main component in her art. She is the art. How magnificent is that? Not only does she use her body in her work, she uses it so brazenly. Ultimately, she becomes a vessel to reveal the authentic selves of the audience.

Back in 1974, she performed a six hour piece titled ‘Rhythm 0’ at Studio Morra in Naples, which entailed her standing still for six hours, inviting the public to do whatever they wanted to her with the 72 objects she left on a table in the room. The objects included a rose, feather, honey, perfume, wine, a scalpel, nails, a metal bar, and even a loaded gun. She claimed to take full responsibility, reassuring the audience that they were safe in choosing to do whatever their hearts desired. The purpose of this project was to demonstrate a sincere revelation of the people and what they’re capable of doing when given this sort of privilege. She was so committed to this piece of art, that she refrained from any resistance. Mentally, she was prepared for anything, including rape or murder.

At first, the audience were taking turns dabbing with the various objects from the table and being quite gentle. Then, after a couple of hours, the people began to remove her clothes, cut her with the scalpel, stab her with rose thorns, kiss on her, suck her blood, fondle her, and one person even took the loaded gun and placed her finger on the trigger while pointing it towards her. She still did not resist but other people did. A fight broke out among the audience members. At the end of this piece, she finally began to move and walk towards the audience and the people ran away. They were so lost in seeing her as an object that they were not prepared to face her as a human being.
Later on, she went on to say, “What I learned was that if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.” 

 

Marina Abramović has been into pushing past perceived limitations for herself and her participants since the early 70s. Through performance she challenges herself physically, emotionally and mentally. She keeps herself vulnerable and releases all power to the audience.

In 2010, when she performed ‘The Artist is Present’, she performed presence, living in the moment and exhibiting the power of a gaze. She sat still everyday, eight hours a day for three months, gazing into the eyes of hundreds and hundreds of strangers. She sat there motionless, without eating, drinking or using the restroom. After hours of sitting, her body was in pain but she refused to walk through that mental door, knowing that the pain would distract her intent. Instead, she ignored the pain, overcame its presence and eventually with time, entered another realm that surpassed the physical. By this, she proved the power of the mind. The object here was to stretch the length of performance to the point of altering the perception of time and cultivating a deeper engagement for whatever period of time the audience member chose to participate. The eyes became a window to the soul. She became a mirror, a reflection. Some people cried, some smiled, some just stared back and others closed their eyes, as if they could not bear what they were seeing.

This performance drew over a thousand people. This goes to show, humans are always seeking. Whether it was curiosity that brought them there or simply the desire to connect, people need each other. The audience and participants are the key ingredients in making her art successful. Without the people, her art would be incomplete.

artist is present.jpg

I can recall engaging in a similar act while on a spiritual retreat out in Costa Rica. In the simple engagement of an eye gaze, there’s so much to absorb. I engaged in this exercise  for a period of time with complete strangers and was able to see pain, love, trauma, contentment, peace, fears and so on, without ever meeting them before or knowing anything about their past. Not only do you see, you can also sense. You can feel their energy, their aura whether light or dark. It’s pretty amazing. This does require stillness though, which many people are unable to do or more so are uncomfortable doing (especially New Yorkers). This is one of the many boundaries she surpasses.

Her art and the fearlessness that lives in it is so inspiring to me. I am full of fear and she reminds me of our limitlessness, though we are human and mortal. Her courage and bravery is so loud and beautiful. I pray to have at least an ounce of it, so that I can pour it into my writing or any creative measure I engage in. I am so moved by her, I made it my business to see her when The New York Times announced they were having a Times Talks featuring her and Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova at the Florence Gould Hall, NYC on May 14, 2018. After reading and watching her work through the internet, I yearned to see Marina in person. I needed to see her in the flesh, share space with her, feel her energy, observe her mannerisms and perhaps even catch eye contact, in which I did not because I was too far in the back. Still and all, I am grateful to have seen her. I absorbed whatever she had to offer. Nadya even shared how Marina has been teaching her the importance in emptying oneself when creating one’s art. I totally get it. We’re so full of conditioning, ideals and criticism that we forget to create from our most authentic self, our most vulnerable self. Marina expressed how important it is to give ALL of yourself; beyond 100%, more so 120% and how everything should be done delving in the realm of love.

Now, it’s super clear to me why her work is so magnetizing.

PhotoGrid_1526571706761.jpg