Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New York It's What You Do to Me (Part 2)

I have been in New York now, for about a year, which has brought me to a very reflective moment in my life. And I am left at this very moment to feel nothing less than blessed, for every ebb and flow that my experiences in the city have brought me. I have had moments that have really tested me in this past year, the largest challenge... finding the strength in being alone.

To be alone was something that was a sporadic choice to be had when I was in California; because of schedule and constant presence of friends and family and community, to take time for myself was something that would come with deliberation and intention. Alone time was something I would ask for from my loved ones even though truthfully, I may have had the notion in the back of my mind that I could take my liberties of being alone whenever I wanted to. It was my time and space to have. I took advantage of that liberty in a large degree by coming out here to NY, on my own, no family or close friends to provide a support system in proximity. Just me. I didn't realize for myself that by making that decision being alone would no longer be a choice, it would become the foundations of building a new lifestyle.

I've grappled with the tightrope walk of feeling loneliness and feeling solitude, feeling helpless and feeling self sufficient, feeling uneasy about the inconsistencies in my life, and feeling challenged and growth from them. I have never been so out of my element, only to find that it is exactly where I needed to be.

My notions of life living have shifted so much in just one year. I recall moments in the past year where I have sat in my studio apartment tears flowing because I just wanted to feel the presence of bodies to surround me, longing for movement, conversation, noise, breath to fill my environment, but not wanting to burden others with these intense feelings and then other moments where I have been in a serene silence, working, learning, cooking, art making, or just laying and feeling so blessed that I am sustaining myself in life living, doing everything for myself creating not only the ability but the purpose to wake up to another day where the sun can rise and greet me. Those days have come more often, and I have allowed myself to bask in them, savor them longer each time that they arise and know that there are more of those days to come.

I have never focused so much on myself in this way because I have always been the one looking for the next person, project and experience that will let me serve anyone or anything but myself first. And I am still that person, but its just really a balancing act now, because then I have these moments, these miraculous moments where it really is all about myself, and how I can make myself better and newer and stronger, and I realize that, that love for myself has only allowed me to love my family, friends, community, to love all of you and serve you with more fervor, purpose and positivity.

I have found for myself more and more that living in positivity is not just about thinking it, its about really BEING in it. That light has always been so visible to me in others, and I am blessed to be surrounded by so many individuals who carry it so brightly, but recognizing it in myself has been such a blessing, to really know that the sun lives inside me. Now, there is no other way to live life than with my head held high and with the notion that the body that I am in is beautiful and the soul that it carries is vibrant, beaming, and I am more than ever aware of my own light and ready to grow it, and share it with the world around me.

I thank the city for moments of being alone, because they have challenged me. BUT I also thank the city for the loving relationships I have built here, the exchanges that have taught me more to value every connection made, the experiences that have allowed me to confront fears and embrace uncertainty and newness and the ability to share my being that has grown and become resilient, strengthened and brighter with each day that the sun rises.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New York CIty, It's what you do to me

Written one year ago:

I have not willingly been to church since I was in Italy.

I'm confessing this to all of you, even though a lot of you may have notice my lack of Sunday activity other than Kaba Board meetings, because going to church today, in my second week in New York City, is a huge step in the transition I am making into my big city life.

I have always been a person of faith and hope, because through struggle they sustained me, but I lost my necessity for religion somewhere down the line.

Today when I sat down in church I thought to myself that there is something wonderful about congregating in a house of faith and hope, especially in the city, because here you are reminded that you are connected to the living all around you.

There are so many people in the city. I could go through an entire day, I think, without passing the same people I had while walking the streets the day before. So when I do see a familiar face, whether it be a server at a restaurant or the clerk at a grocer, it is that much more refreshing.

People say that New York is full of individuals who are out for themselves. But what I believe is that the individuals of New York City that live and breathe it every day are rather seeking to live their lives to the greatest potential and they believe the city will drive them toward that. They come here, as I have, seeking the gifts of the city, of opportunity, experience and discovery and must also on the other hand be prepared for the challenges that the city pairs with its gifts.

I told Justine the other day. that the city is such a contradiction because it has a way of thickening your skin and also of shedding it.

One minute you feel as if you are insignificant and unable to get past the negativity and doubt that you will be able to survive the city on your own, and the next minute you feel the complete opposite. You feel blessed, and you feel strengthened by the trials you are able to over come, whether it be little things like figuring out how to get back on your route when you've mixed up 4th St with 4th Ave and find you have been walking 2 extra miles you did not have to. Or it could be overcoming one of your worst fears and weaknesses, being alone, and dealing with the fact that for the first month you are in a new place you have to plan your life, when you no longer have it planned out for you. No more work, no Kaba, no friends who you can drive over to see or family only 40minutes away, just you and a blank slate, and time.

Believing in yourself is not enough anymore. In order to make it through the rain, you have to believe that you are surviving for something greater, for me its for the kids I want to work with in the future, for the communities that will be served by the art I want to build and share, for my friends that I choose to include in my tomorrow and for my family who reminds me of my strengths every step and fall that I make.

You have to believe in something greater, that not only lives within you, but all around you. Like church, people come to the city to be cleansed, to seek redemption, to be changed, to feel connected and open to everyone and everything around them. Its because of this that I feel blessed to wake up and be a part of the city everyday.

Church was beautiful today. The City was beautiful today.

Monday, July 12, 2010

this moved me...

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free