Thursday, July 30, 2009

Planting My Feet - part l

photo: collaberation of mark-shark & el poquito


Earth, it ain’t for sissies. Showing up takes strength, stamina and courage. The road traveled can be riddled with fear, worry and doubt, in fact guaranteed – you will walk the earth with those three companions at one time or another.

Everyone wants a long and happy life. Lacking that, most will be satisfied with simply a long life. Longevity appears as a gift on the horizon; something to achieve, thankfully. What remains hidden is the price of longevity: the longer you live, the more experiences you gather; more milestones and equally, more losses.

This is a world filled with loss. We keep our focus on the gains, the achievements of a lifetime, but along with gains come the losses; there’s no escaping it. Occasionally life throws us a big one: the loss of a loved ones life; the loss of health; loss of work, home or marriage. The big losses sweep through our lives like a storm knocking us down.

I was swept away in such a storm. The details of the storm I’ll spare the repeating. The back-story is in the archives of the blog; see the three-parter from September ’08 called “Autumn Equinox Triptych”. It’s all there.

In a nutshell – when the rug is pulled out from underfoot quicker than a heartbeat, first we spin out. Shock can shoot us out of our bodies, leaving us feeling ‘not quite here’; and when ‘here’ is excruciatingly painful then shock mercifully escorts us off the premises. But ‘here’ is where the problem is. ‘Here’ is where the problem-solving must take place. ‘Here’ is where the work is to be done. Abandoning the premises of the suddenly crappy building that is burning down looks mighty tempting - understandable too, until you realize there are no do-overs; this is NOT a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing and it’s going up in flames!

Do you stand by passively immobilized and watch? Or do you call the Fire Department and get out the hose?

When I was swept off the planet and out of my comfortable life a few years ago, I was incredibly fortunate to know people who attempted to tether my feet as I floated away from the trauma, shock, cancer and morphine. We all knew I was sick enough to easily die – to simply float off. It really would not have been difficult to die; remaining here was the challenging part. Equally important as the cancer-fighting medications were the loving individuals who tethered me to this earth as my body attempted to slip out from under me.

Grounding was necessary.

Whenever shock is involved, grounding is the remedy. I’ve been taught that when I'm in need of grounding to do exactly that – walk barefoot on the earth; sit down on the ground, or best of all, lay the whole body out, prostrated to the earth, letting her carry me, hold me, ground me. We do call her Mother after all. Commit to the relationship with her! She has supported us all these years.

Within the first few days of flying off the planet, I was surrounded in an intentional healing circle of my wife, children and four elders, led by my spiritual elder and advisor, a humble man of power who knows a thing or two about healing, living and dying. I lay in the center of the circle as they ‘planted my feet’. I felt myself called back into my hurting, crappy body that I wished only to escape.

The first step: stop escaping. Plant my feet on the ground I truly stand on now – the frightening ground it would take courage for me to continue to stand upon.

I will be forever grateful for their loving call to return into my body. I lay there, my body drenched in sweat as I tried to slide back into it, while my elder-teacher taught my youngest son where to place his hands on me – how to continue ‘planting my feet’ after my elder had returned to Mexico. I am incredibly fortunate and grateful to this kind circle of folks who helped me remain here on earth a little longer. They called me. They planted my feet.

When life becomes circumstances of spinning chaos and we are smacked in the face with our own powerlessness, often, all we can do is try to be as grounded as we possibly can. If we become the eye of the storm we are more effective in the storm for ourselves and for others.

Sometimes this is about all we can actually do for another in the storm - we can call out, motivated by our love not fear, and help to plant another’s feet. We don’t need a special someone – an elder, a healer, a medicine man, a doctor; we all have this power to call out to one another, especially when it’s fueled by love and care.

We have been conditioned to look for an answer outside of ourselves, while all along, WE ARE the medicine.


We are the medicine
We become the chorus
On earth
Calling the lost one to return
Planting their feet
On the earth
Once again


The first step to 'Planting the Feet': Stop attempting to escape!

Muchas gracias Tlakaelel, Celia, Bert, Dora, and my wife and sons for calling me back.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Restoration: the four directions

I sat down to begin outlining some of my thoughts that have been floating around regarding healing. Once I began, the floodgates opened and much more than I expected began pouring out. Because there’s a lot that I’ll be touching upon and I can feel a fire burning in me, these will be coming out at a faster pace than usual. If I could, I’d have y’all over for some morning coffee or such to bat around some of these ideas. I just want to reiterate: I have no corner on any special knowledge – I just happen to have gone around the block a few times. I still have plenty to learn and that’s also why I’m here writing – to learn more. [By the way, life-long learning is one of those building blocks of wellness.] These are my own personal observations and knowledge passed on to me from others. If something rings true for you – great! Explore it more, or ask me about it [I probably have 5 or 10 other leads along that line] If something doesn’t ring true [ever! anywhere!] Don’t drink the kool-aid! Honor your intuition. I try to remember that myself as it has saved my ass innumerable times - and my not listening to it has burned me innumerable times also!

Often when clients in the past came to me asking for help or insight into their health problems I would take a prescriptive course with them. Now, when we are in trouble we have a kind of knee-jerk reaction to look for an answer or a prescription to make us well from some outside authority. Truth is, if we’re honest with ourselves we can usually self-prescribe with a high success rate and improve our own well-being. It’s simple and it really only takes a little effort.

First, draw a circle. This represents the wholeness of yourself. Divide the circle into four quadrants or pieces of the pie. Each quadrant represents an area of our being. Together, they interact, interrelate, make up our well-being or lack of. Over the weeks here we’ll touch on all the four aspects: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. (oh-oh, did he say spiritual? Don’t worry, no dogmas here – at least none that can’t be kicked to the curb, if you so please)

Each of the quadrants is an important piece of our wellness, health and well-being – not just the physical. I’m not dismissing the physical, after all it’s the realm we’re all hoping to stick around in as happily as possible for a while, so yeah, the physical is basic nuts and bolts to the whole picture.

In looking at the physical quadrant it’s real simple to grasp: the four elements. That’s what this place [earth] is made of; it’s what our bodies are made of: earth, water, fire and air. It’s that simple. It’s what your Mom told you – or somebody’s Mom told someone: “Eat your fruits and vegetables, get plenty of exercise, fresh air, sunlight and plenty of water.” Mom’s were right all along, dammit! The only other thing I’d add to Mom is to get on the earth. Nothing more earthy and physical than the Ol’ Mother herself; garden, dig, plant, lie down on, sit upon, walk barefoot on – all these activities are grounding.

If you were a client of mine seeking help, I’d ask you to give yourself a number between 1 and 10 rating your physical well-being. Be honest with yourself and write it down in that corner of the wheel – The number one being: I can barely lift my head; with10 being: tip-top physical health. Now here’s the crux of self-prescribing. Instead of thinking of how horribly decrepit your physical condition is and how could you ever have allowed yourself to become this blob disguised as flesh and you decide you need a major overhaul the likes of which belongs on television’s Extreme Makeover; before you totally depress yourself and go looking for chocolate to assuage your feelings of shame and horridness – find one thing – just one, tiny, little thing you could do to budge that number 4 to a 5, not all the way to a 10 by Wednesday. Set your sights within reach. One thing. Anything. Drink water. Can you do that? One small thing that if you succeed with, might nudge your well-being one degree in the right direction. The only way we get to where we might want to go is one degree or step at a time. We all like to succeed and if you set yourself up for; “I MUST exercise for one hour every day for the rest of my life,” although a noble idea, most likely it won’t last long and will quickly fall by the wayside as if it had never been mentioned, thus avoiding feelings of failure. None of us likes to fail; we’d rather quit. So, for today, make it easy. What’s your number and what’s one thing you could ADD to your day [not take away, as in: “I will NOT eat chocolate anymore.” Add to, don’t take away. What’s ONE thing that will nudge your wellness physically that you could successfully incorporate into your life today? Write it down in the 'physical' corner of the circle.

And there you go. There’s step one of your self-prescription. Who’s going to be more honest with you than yourself? Who’s going to be more invested in your well-being than yourself? I recommend placing this circle somewhere where you’ll see it and read your own reminder to yourself daily of the one thing you’re adding to your life. We’ll add to this circle as the weeks go on and we take a look at our other aspects of ourselves that can help create a holistic web of wellness.

Next – “Planting My Feet” on the earth.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Year Later....

Still Here.

Still painting graffiti on the wall - poems of survival, prose of finding my way, and making a few friends along the way. el poquito came to me one year ago, arriving with 60 kokopelli dancing up my driveway. He arrived with fire and being the pyromaniac I am, we became close friends. Very close.

When I began tossing my words out to the world all I knew was I needed an outlet - a place to express myself when my world was becoming more and more limited. And as the physical limitations mounted my mind and spirit raced. Or as Rumi said to me yesterday:

"Like the moon without legs, I race through nothingness.
See how fast I can run without legs?"

Please don't feel sorry or think me inspirational or brave. We do what we have to - and anyways, those last lines of Rumi's poem made me laugh hard with recognition: See how fast I can run without legs?

And in case you're confused and wondering, I do have legs. They're just kinda crappy sometimes. But I love 'em, crappy or not. They're still here too - well, at least one and a half of them.

Yep, still here; still ornery; still laughing; still working the Restoration Project, now along with the Delusional Optimism Project. [Guess I like projects.] More on the D.O.P. at a later time.

So at the close of the first year's cycle and in beginning the next one I want to bring the focus back to my original intent here. Tizitl means healer. To me, 'healer' isn't someone out there who will fix us and make us better, but rather the healing energy that runs through and around all of us at all times. No one has a corner on it. Lots of people, practitioners, professionals, religious and health dogmas would have us believe otherwise, but in all my explorations into healing over a lifetime, with these past several years being in intensive study, I see no definitive answers - only more questions.

The Great Mystery still rocks. And as far as I know is still going under the name of 'Mystery' - a name and concept that covers 95% of the universe according to quantum physics.

So in exploring healing we are stepping directly into the world of mystery. It's a fun playground - mystery, if you can be satisfied with humbly not knowing. But when we face the fact that 95% of the universe is of unknown 'dark matter', then it's perhaps a bit easier to say, "I dunno," since either do the very smart scientists, the doctors included. Yes, we've made great advances, but still, mostly it's a mystery how healing takes place and how one procures it, or if one can. A mystery that is worthy of investigation; just expect no definitive answers.

These next few weeks I hope to lead us on a little exploration. I'll try not to be inspirational or brave - in fact I'll most likely go out of my way to undermine those positions. I don't need admiration. You don't need a cult. But I do enjoy fellow travelers and explorers. So please feel free to jump in here with your thoughts, opinions, dreams, aspirations, hopes, fears, worries, or just to say 'hey'. This is your table too. It's really quite easy to leave a comment: you can either register a google account or simply post your comment under the 'anonymous' tag. I'd love to hear from your point of view.

By the way, because this will NOT be inspirational and will raise more questions than answers, I imagine I'll make some folks uncomfortable at one time or another. Sorry. I don't intend for that. Seems raw honesty has that ability to make others uncomfortable sometimes - but then I did say this was going to be an exploration into healing, not comfortable ways to be a lazy-ass slacker in life.

Get your shovels out folks. Here we go.

el poquito


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Also In the News

Beyond mainstream media are some wonderful, insightful writers and thinkers. Roberto Rodriguez is among my favorites. This article of his from this week's news is an example of the ethnic viewpoint that doesn't get much air. Roberto's commentaries appear twice a month in the New American Media: Expanding the News Lens Through Ethnic Media.
Also under "Links of Interest" to the right of this page, his articles along with his wife's, Patrisia Gonzales are archived under "The Column of the Americas." Very good writers with vision. I respect them both highly.


Wake Up GOP: Sotomayor is This Generation's Jackie Robinson

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Jul 15, 2009

Nine years into the new millennium and conservatives and Republicans -- with straight faces – insist that it is they who should define the nation’s racial debate and that it is their views that are fair and objective and part of the U.S. mainstream. Nowhere is this fallacy more evident than in their incomprehensible opposition to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In their upside-down world, extreme conservatives, including the entire right-wing talk show universe, have gone from defending racial supremacy (by opposing integration and the precepts of “equality and justice for all”) to appropriating the right to define the very words and terms of this debate. Interestingly, Senate Republicans, who espouse virtually the same views as those of their influential talk show brethren, minus the most incendiary language, have failed to denounce their hate and ultra-nationalist demagoguery.

For instance, Sen. Jeff Sessions’ questioning of Sotomayor regarding her supposed biases, and the Republican demand that she be neutral, is mind-boggling. Lest we forget (aside from his own documented extreme racial views), it is “objectivity” that permitted the U.S. Supreme Court for nearly 200 years to uphold legal segregation and discrimination. Implicit in their arguments is that the decisions by white male Supreme Court justices have always been fair and infallible, while the continued attempts to right the nation’s wrongs – by activists or judges – constitute bias and even racism.

In addition to a history refresher course, many of these Republicans and conservatives are in need of an English dictionary. They also need to pay a visit to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website to learn who the racists are and what kinds of supremacist ideologies they espouse and carry out.

None of those that have denounced Sotomayor as a “racist,” such as Newt Gingrich, are in line to win a Nobel Peace Prize for their work on race relations any time soon. And yet, more incredible is that the mainstream media continually turn to extremist talking heads for their opinions on the topic, virtually granting them an imprimatur of impartiality and fairness.

The Republican conservative effort to keep Sotomayor off the bench seems like a bizarre murder-suicide plot. Regardless of the obstacles put in her way, she will be the next Supreme Court justice. If there is to be any casualty, it will be the GOP, not she. She is a twice-Senate-confirmed moderate judge with 17 years of judicial experience, not the flaming radical they project her to be. She is boricua or Puerto Rican, part of a demographic (Latino/Latina) that is growing and has the potential to lean either Democratic or Republican.

What GOP leaders haven’t figured out is that, symbolically, Sotomayor represents this generation’s Jackie Robinson. If they had wanted to broaden their political tent, they could have celebrated her nomination, thereby projecting a welcoming party. Instead, they have questioned her impartiality and more important, her integrity. By opposing her these past two months with inflammatory rhetoric, they have poisoned relations with this expanding demographic group, ironically ensuring that the GOP will be remanded to the status of minority party for at least the next generation.

GOP leaders have the right to oppose her; the problem is that they have failed to do so respectfully. Many Republicans/conservatives have not simply defamed her, they have also unjustifiably denigrated both the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) – respected civil rights organizations she has been associated with as a professional. In the case of the NCLR, the anti-immigrant ex-Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo has likened it to the KKK. This is beyond intellectually dishonest.

This attempt by extreme conservatives to redefine the meaning of terms such as “racists” either reveals an Orwellian strategy to upend the meaning of words, or it reveals complete political illiteracy and/or lunacy. The consequence is that the GOP continues to send off the message that it is the party of the past, the party of greed, permanent war, hate, intolerance and racial supremacy. Also, because many conservatives equate 'illegal alien' with Mexican (or Latino) and view both as vermin and subhuman, the GOP already has a huge [recruitment] problem among these groups.

The failure of its leaders to disassociate from those extreme views means that this is the way the GOP will be perceived, long after Sotomayor dons her new Supreme Court robes.

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, writes for New America Media, including Arizona Watch. He can be reached at:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Haibun on Visiting an Uneasy Place

I don't know how to explain it, how to capture something so large and reduce it to a gesture. You remind me of the places I never want to see again, of frightening roads and being alone lost in the dark. Traveling through to the other side of destruction, I see light in what once was your mind - spreading like a glistening pool, serenity in the eye of the storm. I see homelands and prairies; the cottonwood's shade; the river, and resting on its shore. Some things there are no words for.

Kali with her sword
lopping off another head
while she smiles at me

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Birthday Haibun

Suction! Push! Now! -- PUSH! He's stuck! Turn him! Heartbeat's dropping! We've gotta get him out NOW! PUSH!

And with the strength of the hundreds of women of generations before, in one magnificent effort, she pushes him out, birthing our son. Out flops a dark purple, limp infant boy - tiny, without breath or movement - only a faint, slow heartbeat.

You're not dead.

As you're whisked away to neo-natal intensive care, "Go with him," she insists, and I leave her bleeding to follow you in search for air while over and over again I call you to earth by name:

"Elijah.... Elijah.... Elijah...."

after many days
and promises to help you
fear gives way to Life

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shadow Secrets

If I have no shadow
what does it mean?

I claim my shadow
just as I claim this life itself.
If I have no shadow falling
behind me, falling
before me, falling
next to me, attached
to my feet - never separated
from this bucket of bolts,
this hooptie I call home -
If I lose my shadow,
if it loosens and flies away
free, unfettered by mortal chain,
then, also,
this bucket of bolts with its
rusted wiring, worn parts and clanking machinery
sputters and chokes
steam rising from every orifice
yawning wide in desperate gasps
for air and freedom.

Sometimes, reaching for freedom
instead, it finds release,
becomes obsolete, no longer
to walk the dog
to tend the garden
to hold a loved one....
shocked, I recoil
watching the shadow
as it makes a break for it
escaping the fleshly prison
decorated so nicely.
[a pleasant place to be really, until it's not]

Until that final moment
of ultimate release
I claim my shadow
as mine - all mine -
as few things truly are.
I wrap it like a warm blanket
over my body, wrapping
around me its
delicious secrets
about my living or
lack of.

It whispers in my ear
knowledge for no one else -
the secrets of this life
this mortal frame
this bucket of bolts
and fancy wiring
and pregnant dreams.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Poetry of Daily Life

When I was a kid, my Mom would buy used furniture from the Goodwill, bring it home, strip it, then repaint the piece of furniture. As a kid, I really thought it was kind of weird. Nobody else's parent painted most of the furniture of the house with folk designs depicting roses and grapes and bringing in of the harvest; cowboys with lassos and all the family cattle brands that had at one time been part of los ranchos of some far, distant place called New Mexico. It was very strange this brightly colored furniture with designs of daily life - somewhere - where there were gardens, fields, harvests and cowboys.

Tonight I'm writing you from my front porch in the North Country. My new writing table was purchased on sale from K-Mart, manufactured in a factory in Viet Nam, put together on my deck this morning with carefully chosen design painted on the table, underneath. It was a tradition of Mom's. On her pieces of furniture she would paint a poem, or a saying, on the back or underneath, somewhere where it would only be seen very occasionally, like when cleaning or moving. Following In her tradition, one day when someone is moving this table, or cleaning underneath, or on their hands and knees looking for a lost something, for a moment they will see this and remember one of the odd things 'he used to do' - paint words on his furniture and on the walls of his house.

The other day I spoke to my youngest son, Popeye, living on the North Sea, building a tall ship in the north Netherlands. He's being put up in abandoned nurse's quarters of a former hospital [fancy squatters]. He says to me, "Dad! You'd love my room! I've painted poetry all over the walls!"

He's come by it honestly. We come from a lineage of graffiti artists - a family tradition.

Leave your mark. Leave it Beautiful. Leave it Strong.