Healing The Disease of Disconnect

I am disgusted, saddened, and outraged by the racist and ignorant immigrant bill just signed into law by the Arizona governor, Jan Brewer—although sadly not surprised. I choose the word “immigrant” and not “immigration” on purpose because we are talking about very real people’s lives, not just some process. It is supported and was signed into law by a woman. And now, she follows that up with reversing the law that provides benefits to domestic partners. A woman who has obviously lost touch with the Divine Feminine—proof that just because someone has either female or male genitalia does not in itself mean anything.

The Divine Feminine is about caring and nurturing, inclusivity, partnership, and community. The Divine Feminine sees the interrelationship and interrelatedness of all life. The Divine Masculine is about serving and protecting these facets of the Divine Feminine. In this way, all is in balance or seeking balance. Unfortunately, the feminine and masculine when not in Divinity is out of balance and can be highly destructive as we see with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and with the horrible environmental policies and push and same War language as Bush from Obama. When not held to account for our highest selves, we all are one choice away from being incredibly destructive.

Thankfully, there are courageous people in politics standing up against the racist and hateful policies of Jan Brewer, including San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom who has put a moratorium on city officials travelling to Arizona on any city business and is looking into how to create a city-wide boycott against Arizona in as many ways as possible to take a stand against this woman’s destructive policies.

The Disease of Disconnect is dangerous and powerful. This is our calling to be even more committed to living lives of healing and connection wherever and however we can—from our daily choices to taking to the streets to looking at our comfort zones and being willing to challenge ourselves to grow beyond our fear to live lives of powerful service.

Love in Action,

julia

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 4:16 pm  Comments (30)  

Blast To The Past

It has been approximately 23 years since I last saw my friends from when I was a little girl. But it felt almost like no time had passed at all in some ways. From the time I was about 4 years old until about 8 years old, my two brothers and I had best friends who were also 2 boys and a girl, and they also were brothers and a sister—JR (whose real name is Jesus which I think is cool and always did!) now Jesi, Marcus and Mercy.

After my family started travelling, I only saw them once or twice and the last time I saw them was only very briefly as a teenager. So much has happened in all our lives—some of us, myself included, in and out of some serious trouble. Big changes in all our lives for sure. Of course, that is often what happens after over 20 years. The beautiful thing was how we have all made it through, are growing and learning, and loving our lives.

But even after all these years, it felt in some ways as if almost no time had passed. I felt like we could go outside and start running around, playing King of the Mountain (and trust me, I had NO problem whatsoever growing up, proving I had what it took to be a King or at the very least, a rough and tumble second!) or football (which I also happened to be pretty darn good at!) or getting into some kind of mischief (some things never change!) I used to do ANYTHING on a dare because there was no way I was going to let anyone have any reason to call me a wimp or anything like that. I could and would do anything, and even if I were afraid to do it, no one would ever know!

If my memory serves me right, which might or not be true, the first person I ever kissed was Marcus on a dare. I had a huge crush on him anyway, but I was terrified to kiss him, but I wasn’t about to let him or anyone else know that! So, we kissed, and it was a very quick kiss followed by both of us rubbing our hands fiercely across our mouths and going, “YUCK!” Secretly, even though I was freaked out by it, I really was glad we were dared to do it. Luckily, kisses have gotten better since then.

Unfortunately, Marcus was not able to join us for the reunion, so I shared this memory with Jesi and Mercy, but with no ability to check in with Marcus to see if he remembers it. I missed not being able to see Marcus, but it was so incredibly wonderful to see Mercy and Jesi! I am so grateful to be reconnected with them after all these years.

I, also, had the opportunity to see many people from my early years, who were a part of the church my Dad started when we lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. These were friends of my parents and many were like our family in those growing up years.

Some looked exactly like I remembered. I couldn’t believe that time had seemed to have completely left them untouched outwardly. Some, are definitely aging, and I am so glad I got to see them, as I am not sure if I will see them again. Of course, I have changed on many levels, not only outwardly, but also, in my beliefs and views. I spent a good bit of time just smiling and not saying a lot to some because I know they were sharing from a place of love even though much of who I am and what I believe is so very, very different from them. I think some have read my blog writings and know that I am very different and are very loving and supportive even if we are very different. Some, I feel, if they read and knew all of who I am would be really challenged to say the least. Overall, it was such a treat and a blessing to reconnect after all these years, even if only briefly.
So much of my life has felt segmented. There was the Pennsylvania days, the living on the road days, the living in Jonesboro days, living in Fayetteville days, living in Luna days, and the returning to ground days. It has felt really healing to have these opportunities to connect some of the different threads of my life and begin to weave a new and more whole tapestry of myself and my life.

May we all find ways to reweave the threads from our past, so together, we can create a future that is the gift of a holistic and whole presence in the present.

Love,

julia

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 1:56 am  Comments (3)  

On Tour Across The Heartland

Touring across America. A different world in many ways from the Jamaica I just left. And in some ways, not different at all. In spite of all the challenges I experienced in Jamaica, I loved helping and supporting the homeless shelter (http://www.greathuts.com/shelter.htm), and I miss the friends I made in Jamaica and the beautiful nature, especially that magical cove of Boston Bay.

I started this tour in Indiana, supporting What’s Your Tree? (WYT) and the Center for Community Empowerment in Bloomington and Jasper. There are some absolutely wonderful folks participating in both of them. I was hosted the first night in the home of two absolutely lovely and caring people, one of whom is a WYT group leader. They made a fantastic vegan Indian dinner and friends of theirs brought decadently delicious fruit salad with candied ginger and vegan chocolate cake. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! From there, I went to Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana. Again, I met some truly wonderful people who care very much about wanting to make a difference in the world.

Next up was Minnesota and College of Saint Benedict and partner college of St. John. The shared campuses of these two colleges are quite beautiful. St. John’s campus is huge and includes gorgeous lakes, prairies, forests, and an arboretum. I met some incredible people there and wished I had a couple extra days to spend visiting both the land and some of the people I met there. If only when I went to college, I had gone to a college like this one! I want to go back and take classes from these combined campuses!

Sioux City, Iowa was next on the journey. Kristin, the young woman who was tasked by the Sustainability Committee with bringing a speaker to the campus, and discovered my story while searching online, blew me away with her commitment and follow-through. Morningside College Campus is a long way from sustainability—at least they recycle, but that is about it. So people like Kristin and Tom, the director of the Sustainability Committee (who is also a Joyous Vegan! : ) really are courageous leaders!

And, of course, as most everyone knows about me, I LOVE food—well that is good food. : ) I was treated to a really delicious dinner at Morningside. The college catering made the dinner, and I was actually blown away by the quality and diversity of options for the dinner—especially considering I was in Iowa and considering the level of sustainability awareness on campus! There were roasted potatoes and squash with sautéed shitake mushrooms; Asian rice noodles with avocado; summer rolls with tofu, basil, and mixed greens; salad with a fruit vinaigrette; ginger vegetable broth consume, and fruit skewers for dessert! On tour, I have gotten used to “making do”, so a few days thus far with really delicious vegan fare has been a fabulous treat!

The event, although attended by a small number of people, the QUALITY of people there blew me away! It was SUCH an honor and a joy to spend time with such incredible people! It is one thing to be aware and active in places like California and New York. It is another thing altogether to be aware and active in places like Sioux City, Iowa! I am so humbled and touched by my experience with these special people!

I am now off to go to a gathering with people from my early childhood days. They are people who were members of the church my Dad started when I was about 3 years old, and whom I have not seen since I was about 12 years old. A total blast to my past!

I am continuously humbled and blessed by the people I get to meet in doing this work and the incredible places I get to see and work to protect.

Here is to you and the courageous leaders everywhere they may be!

Love in Action,

julia

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 6:40 pm  Comments (11)  

Thoughts On Leaving Jamaica

Left Jamaica this morning. Bittersweet Goodbye. So much of the experience of the place and people was so wonderful. And some parts were incredibly challenging.

The Caribbean Sea is exquisite. Getting in it everyday, usually two or three times a day, was such a gift. The minute I enter that water, everything in me feels so calm, happy, and perfect. It is some of the best medicine I have ever experienced. When I am in that water, I feel home.

The lush jungle in Portland Parish, where I spent most of my time, is a cornucopia of colors, sounds, flavors, and feelings. Crystal clear waterfalls, every shade of green imaginable, vines growing around trees filled with birds chirping and singing, flowers of bright yellows, oranges, and reds. Papayas, bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, and ackee—my new favorite fruit—although it is used for savory not sweet. This place is truly beautiful in so many respects—a piece of Heaven on Earth.

As for the people, in Jamaica, like everywhere, there is such a mix. It was interesting learning the culture of Jamaican people, and then getting to see the variances within those cultural dynamics. The joy, humor, and vibrancy of many of the people, even in the most challenging of situations are truly a delight to experience. Not to mention that I saw more absolutely physically beautiful people in one town than I usually do in a huge city, 10 times or more its size.

I had to be extra mindful because more than once I realized I was staring at someone, completely enthralled with their beauty. My experience was this made people either uncomfortable or they saw it as my coming on to them and then tried to “link up”—Jamaican term for actually connecting with or meeting up with someone about anything, but often used to reference sexual hook-ups.

The biggest challenge in Jamaica for me was around having huge problems with my lungs from dust, smoke, and pollution. It is ironic that I had such problems with my lungs because one of my biggest reasons for wanting to move to the tropics is that normally, my lung problems, which I experience all too frequently in my life, disappear when I am in the tropics near the sea or ocean. But this trip, my lungs got worse, not better.

Another challenge for me is the extreme religious fundamentalism that pervades every part of Jamaican society, accompanied with the usual huge hypocrisy that goes along with the rigidity of religions worldwide.

As many people know, I am not a huge fan of religions in general, although I am deeply Spiritual, and do my best to honor the Spirit that is within all the different religious traditions. My issues with most religions is that they don’t recognize that they are not “THE TRUTH,” but rather are a tradition passed down from previous generations of the “truths” of that time. This does not negate the truth that does exist in every religion I have studied or explored because, of course, there is wisdom and inspiration in them all.

It is just the belief that certain religions own the rights on what “TRUTH” must mean for everyone, everywhere, forever that makes me sick, hurt, and sometimes angry. And add to that, the fact the world’s most known and recognized religions are based on a male, patriarchal system and God (except for Hinduism and Buddhism that also have female deities—even though they too are still male deity dominated), what little interest I had in the tradition to begin with, pretty much disappears. I am interested in truth and learning from anywhere and everywhere, it just gets hard when it is always told from the male perspective and delivered by men and saying that the Higher Power is male.

As a woman, I challenge this belief system frequently, and have since I was young which was problematic considering my father is a preacher and my mother is an intense adherent to her beliefs around Christianity—regardless of how I expressed that I experienced her religious intensity as negative and even abusive. I am constantly amazed at how few women challenge the patriarchal religious systems, and how many women embrace lower status in societies directly related to religious beliefs. Somehow, many women, all over the world, have embraced a subservient standard by accepting and supporting and adhering to belief systems that link men and male energy to power and to the Divine so that a woman’s place is always as the servant to that male-dominated system.

In Jamaica, religious beliefs are fierce. And they are prevalent, and they are proselytized. And many people are homophobic to the extreme. And meanwhile, from what I could tell from my time there, most families are made up of many children, none or few who share the same father and sadly, all too frequently, no father present at all in their lives. And it is a common, accepted practice that men cheat on their girlfriends and wives with regularity. And then say, “Praise Jah” or quote scripture when it is convenient to back up some narrow-mined belief. Women are seen as something to be used for sex and producing children—and many of the women seem to feed right into this belief. The status symbol of the man’s virility is how many kids he has—even though too many do absolutely nothing for their children once they are born.

I am not trying to say these beliefs and behaviors are true for everyone, of course. But they are prevalent and pervasive—enough to really stand out. And it makes my heart sad.

As for trash and waste, much of it is burned causing massive amounts of pollution—hence my lung problems. What isn’t burnt is often thrown on the ground and in the streams. Jamaica exports its trash to I am not sure where, shipping it out on barges, and meanwhile, the only thing it recycles is plastic bottles and doesn’t do a very good job of that.

And of course, there is the huge discrepancy between the haves and have-nots. Individuals and businesses in the tourism industry are making millions while workers building the hotels and resorts and working at them live in shacks. All of this is supported by a corrupt government—as many governments are wont to be (including the US government and the Obama administration. )

And, really, what much of the aforementioned challenges point to is how numerous threads of similarity run through so many places that I have been, and experiences I have had. Everywhere, there is beauty and devastation close by. Everywhere, there is profound power of the human spirit to rise above the most intense problems with laughter and love, and yet its close neighbor is the ability of the human being to be manipulative, exploitative, violent, and cruel. The dance of duality is part of the human experience. It is part of my journey in this lifetime to try to find a way to dance this dance with grace, compassion, love, and at the same time, my fierce commitment to integrity and not shying away from calling out injustice and unhealthy choices wherever I see them.

I say goodbye to Jamaica and head out on tour across the US. I am still in search of home in the Caribbean—a place within walking distance of the sea (preferably right next to the sea) where I can also grow food and have my own place with kitchen, and add to that very cheap rent or the ability to barter for rent. Where are my ruby, red slippers? If you find them, will you let me know?

Love,

julia

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm  Comments (35)  

Mysterious, Magical Woman, Girl

A little bit ago, a dear friend, Bev, sent me a link of Eve Ensler, the creator of the Vagina Monologues, VDay, (www.vday.org) and tireless, courageous activist for women worldwide, speaking at the TED Conference on her latest theme around women and the girl inside. Eve mentioned my tree-sit in her talk, and although she got none of the facts right, i appreciated her using the importance of the message of the story, because the message is much more important than how long i lived in a tree, etc…

My friend Bev, i met when she generously offered me to come for free to her all-women’s surf safari in Mexico as her guest (www.surflasolas.com). She gave me that Blessing numerous times after that initial invitation, and i am forever grateful to her for her love, generosity, and support of the woman and girl that i am. She recently started a blog to encourage women to love, learn, and embrace surfing, or just to love and learn from the experiences of other women who surf. After seeing Eve Ensler’s talk on TED, she contacted me and asked me to write about the girl inside. The poem below is what came through. Bev’s blog address is (http://www.surflasolas.com/laplaya).

Please remember to honor, love, and cherish the woman and girl inside (and according to Eve in her talk, this is possible, and even vital, for men as well.) The world will begin to heal as we restore balance through the reclaiming of the Divine Feminine and the right for ALL BEINGS (men and women, animal and Earth) to be honored as Sacred and Equal.

Love,
julia

“When We Realize and Remember”

We women…
we are like the Ocean.
Fluid and fierce,
gentle and gigantic,
we flow with the rythms of the moon.

We women…
all the ways we have tied ourselves down,
not relaizing we are Ocean,
bigger than even we know ourselves to be.

We women…
losing touch somwhere along the way
with the girl inside
and what the word “girl”
means to us, and only us.
The sheer magic and gift
of
GIRL.

All the ways we have been made
to feel shamed,
unworthy,
unable,
unlovable.
It is time to
undo
all the ways we have negated
our beautiful existance
and embrace
the magical
mystery
of the Oceanic Universe
of our exist-dance.

We women…
remembering again
how to dance and play
with our wild, wonderful
perfect
girl
inside.

-julia butterfly hill March 2010

Published in: on April 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm  Comments (10)  

No Understanding, Just Acceptance

Two nights ago i went for a walk because i could not sleep. Severe congestion in my lungs was causing me to go into uncontrollable coughing and wheezing every time i laid down. i felt like a walk would help me move some of the congestion, and at the very least, move my body for some exercise if i was not going to be able to sleep.

As i walked down the road, numerous locals, who know me or know “of” me (apparently this white girl got a reputation started by some rumors that are quite laughable) were calling out to me to come talk to them. Only problem, I had no voice. The severe congestion, sinus infection, and coughing all conspired to take my voice away. So i just waved and continued on my journey.

i have been loving the silence imposed by my loss of voice. i so enjoy the space of no words, only being. i am actually naturally designed as an introvert which surprises so many people because i am known so much as a public figure. It is part of why i started blogging. Felt like a way i could continue to share messages that might (or might not) be helpful to people without my needing to be actually in person all the time.

As i walked down the road, the evening was playing its nightly symphony of crickets, frogs, and other sounds that i am not completely clear on, but love. The bright and magnificent moon was playing hide and seek with big, billowy clouds blowing through on the gentle breeze–remnant from the storm that had blown through earlier. The night felt so alive and magical.

As i rounded a bend on the road, i startled a kitten that was crossing. It is rare here to see cats. It is mostly dogs, and sadly most are not faring so well– mal-nourished and mangy and often abused. So to see a kitten was a real treat. It was mostly white with what appeared to be a bit of mottled other hues, so it stood out in the otherwise very dark road. i stopped, bent down, and called out to it to see if i could give it some love and affection. It was too skittish, an obviously feral cat, so it ran away. It stopped on the other side of the road, i stayed where i was and called out to it again, trying to encourage it to come to me. It hesitated, but then scampered further away. In that instance, i saw a flash of a vision of the kitty being hit by a car. i cooed and called out to the kitten, trying everything i knew to get it to let me come near it. i knew that i had to get this animal and find it a safe and loving place to call home. Unfortunately, no matter what i tried, including just staying still for a very long time and inviting it with my thoughts to feel safe and come to me, nothing worked. Eventually, the cat ran off into the bushes and would not return. i said a prayer for it because that was all i knew to do, and then i continued on my journey.

The night still felt so mystical, but the edges were tinged with this uncanny feeling about the sweet little kitten being hit by a car. i walked until my hips began to yell at me. i have hip dysplasia which is degenerative and over the years have experienced more and more chronic pain in my hips, especially when doing anything of impact, including walking. So, i turned around and began my journey back to Great Huts where i am staying. i can not explain it completely, but there was something in the very air, an electric charge of sorts that kept sending ripples of tingly energy up my spine, neck, and out my arms. (And no, i was not smoking marijuana! i know that is what many people would think reading something like this and knowing that i am currently in Jamaica!)

As i emerged from the dark part of the road into a little golden glow cast from one of the few street lights in this area, i saw two guys weaving and stumbling their way home, obviously having just left the bar a little ways up. One stopped to look at something in the road, while the other saw me, and called out, “Hey! Wa Gwan?!” This means basically, “What’s Up? How is it going?” i of course did not answer as i had no voice, and just smiled and continued walking.

As i came upon the other man, i looked at what he was looking at lying in the middle of the road. It was the kitten. i stopped, stunned, tears immediately beginning to flow out of my eyes. Now this guy, decided he would have his try with me. As i couldn’t talk, i had no way of telling him that i wanted to be with the cat and not with him, so i had to continue down the road. A short bit later, i stopped, thinking i had waited long enough for the guys to move on, and i could go back to the little animal. But when i turned around and started to head back, the guys were turning around and called out to me again. So i turned and kept walking. i started looking for a banana tree or some other broad leaf plant where i could use the leaves to pick up and wrap the kitten in. As i was walking, i was praying that the kitten was now indeed dead and not just severely hurt because out here, at this time of night, there would have been nowhere to take it where it might be saved. i knew that if it was severely hurt and not dead, that i might very well have to kill it myself to stop its suffering. By this point, i was sobbing, stumbling along in the darkness with my tears further obstructing my view. Surprisingly, i could not find the right plant, but i found a cardboard box and picked it up. i knew by now the drunken men would be continuing onward to their home and i could return to the kitten in peace.

As i walked, i prayed for its spirit to be set free. i prayed that it was dead and that it died quickly, so as not to have suffered too terribly. i approached the little being and knelt beside it crying and praying. i scooped it into the box and found a hole in a barbed-wire fence where i could get through and bring the kitten to its final resting place. i couldn’t seem to help it while it was alive, but maybe somehow, i could help it now. i lay the box gently on its side so that the kitten was laying on its side. i continued crying and praying, wishing the spirit of this little being to find peace. And then, i walked away.

My whole life, i have experienced the pain of others on a very deep and visceral level. For a long time, i did not have the tools to process that much grief, so i shut down and built huge walls around my heart. Over the years, having done so much work on myself, the walls have begun to crumble under the power of my fierce love. But sometimes, i go through stages of giving up and shutting down. i can’t understand why beauty suffers and hatred, ignorance, and violence thrives. (And please do not quote scripture here. It has never worked for me and never will.) It is at times like these, where i have to remember there is no understanding. There is only acceptance. Anything else just causes more grief. i struggle with the despair. i struggle with the pain of my heart continuously breaking further and further open. And then i try to let go and let Love. Even as the tears etch paths down my cheeks as i write this, i let go and let Love. Because no matter how much it hurts, it seems the real reason for living is Loving. And so that is what i strive to do.

In Love’s Service,

julia

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm  Comments (16)  
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