I turned 44 just a few days ago. But, in some ways, it feels like forever ago. Probably because I’ve got life, death, and Pa’lante on my mind. Ok. Let me back up a little…
Last weekend, my birthday weekend, I celebrated in a little northern city in Sweden with my wife. A kind of fall break getaway for us. And it was amazing. We even took Monday (my actual birthday) off so we could have 3.5 day long weekend together. Well, it was absolutely a slow, beautiful, perfect autumn weekend. But, upon arriving home + getting back to work + regular life, something changed. The energy shifted. Stuff started happening. Everywhere.
And so much has happened, I could hardly keep up. This week, every 24 hours has felt like an eternity. Unexpected things seemed to pop up everywhere. But, really, is any of that new? Isn’t that how life flows? And isn’t the goal to stay grounded, to stay open to the flow of it all, to remain calm + steady as the winds blow?
Still, even when our souls are calm, our emotions can be raw. And right there on the surface. I’ve always found that it’s best to just let them be. To just feel them. Same goes with our physical body. Whatever it’s saying to us that we need, it’s best to just listen. Because the body will shut down when it needs to.
So, here is what I have been sitting with this week. What’s been on my heart + in my soul.
→ I woke with a cold on Tuesday. Now, I don’t get sick y’all. Not that often. So, when my body shuts down, then she’s telling me to take it slow. It hasn’t progressed into a full-blown cold, but it’s there. Making me achy and tired and hard to breathe. So, I’ve rested as much as possible. I’ve gone to work, but I’ve worked very slowly + kept things cozy + calm in my office. Intentionally creating a peaceful space. And now it’s weekend. So, I’m either in bed, meditating, on the sofa, or making comfort food. That’s it.
→ A friend unexpectedly passed away. This news slammed me in the face when I opened Facebook one morning. She died on Monday and apparently it all happened very quickly. Now, this friend of mine, Liz, was one of those souls I met through social media. She followed a blog I followed and somehow she found me, and then we were connected through blogs + Instagram. Buuuuut, we also met in real life two summers ago when Lina + I were in NYC. Liz was a hilarious, big-hearted, beautiful soul that exuded love and joy. Like, she was an absolute true joy who brought smiles + laughs to the faces of everyone she met. She became a mother last May, so her son + husband are now left behind without her physical presence around them. It’s shocking. Devastating. And I feel such a sense of loss, even though we did not see each other often. Blogs + Instagram make a difference. The world gets smaller. And our lives become richer because of the people we meet + share our lives with, online + face to face.
In Liz’s memory, I am going to start a blogging book club (she was an avid reader + worked for a publishing company), so stay tuned to get in on the book club fun. For now, though, I’m still absorbing the knowledge of the loss and the reminder of how precious life is.
me in a local brooklyn bookstore. just after having breakfast with liz.
→ Christine Blasey Ford. All Americans (better!) know this name. She’s the bad ass warrior woman who stood up, took the oath of honor, and told her story of sexual abuse to the US Senate Judiciary Committee + the entire freaking world on Thursday. Why? Well here are her own words:
“I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school… I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh’s conduct so that those considering his potential nomination (to the Supreme Court) would know about the assault.Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life. I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media, and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me. I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives. Those who say that do not know me. I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn. My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.”
But, bigger than that, there are women who are standing up. Because of Dr. Blasey Ford, people are telling their stories of assault + abuse. The “me too” movement is getting a powerful second wind. And, yet, the fact that there are people who don’t want to hear the stories, don’t want to believe the stories, and just blaze on with power on their mind, makes me fucking crazy. It is a dark, divisive time (still!) in the US. And it’s all so heavy. And I’ve been glued to the news for 2 days hoping + praying that a change is coming.
What to do with all of this stuff? What to do when it feels heavy? When it hurts? When we’re fed up, scared, confused, angry, sad, pissed, disappointed, tired, sick?
Well, my friends… ¡Pa’lante!
There is only one thing to do, I’ve come to be reminded of again. And that is to press onward. To resist. Persist. And keep moving + living in + speaking truth.
Our Caribbean Spanish-speaking brothers + sisters use the term Pa’lante. It’s a term that means onwards, forward. And it’s often heard at rallies usually used to rile up a person or group to action.
So, that change I am looking for + waiting for? It’s only gonna happen when we ALL get involved. When we all tell our stories, and fight for justice, and spread peace, and educate. Now, I am one of the rare + lucky ones, I have no abuse story to share. But, I still have a voice. And I still have a duty + a calling to share the truth of love + acceptance + justice. Because I do have a story of discrimination to share. (just search for LGBT posts on my blog to read some of my story).
The point is, we all have stories. And it’s time we not only tell our own, but listen to others. Because when we do, then we will see how our lives intersect- We’ve not all had the same experiences, but we have all felt alone, exhausted, defeated, disappointed, sad, frightened, enraged, mistreated + misjudged. In our brokeness, we find our wholeness. In our diversity, we find our unity.
Thanks to all of the heros to dare to stand up + speak truth to power + live their authentic lives, we have role models. We have hope, and we have a reason to press on. To move forward. To rally together. To act to make this world more just, peaceful, and loving.
All of this is my truth for my 44th birthday. I mourn the loss of a friend. I gather inspiration from the courage of brave men + women.
And, I celebrate my life by turning towards the future. By taking up arms to non-violently fight for justice + equality. By recommitting myself to my calling to live a wild + sacred life. And to share that with you.
For, though I may not be speaking on the Senate floor, I am telling my story in my own way. I am committing to using my life to create peace + justice by sharing my belief in a wild + sacred lifestyle… one that allows us to find, not only meaning and beauty in our own lives, but to make a goddamn difference in the lives of our brothers + sisters, be it in our home, in our community, in our city, or all over the world.
Happy fucking amazing 44th birthday to me. I am empowered + fired up + ready to celebrate all of life, to even embrace the sting + growth that comes from death, and to commit to always remember… ¡Pa’lante!
To all who came before, we say, ¡Pa’lante!
To my mother and my father, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To Julia, and Sylvia, ¡Pa’lante!
To all who had to hide, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To all who lost their pride, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To all who had to survive, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To my brothers, and my sisters, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To all came before, we say, ¡Pa’lante!
– Hurray for the Riff Raff