Divine Timing (Or, don’t rush your baby’s coming)

There are big things happening under the surface of my being, in my head and heart space. I’m exploring some highly complicated ideas, and considered writing a post about these ruminations – but you know what? I ain’t ready for that yet. This baby is still gestating, and who knows when it will be ready to be born. No pitocin for me, no C-section, not even black and blue cohosh. This one is coming in her own time.

So no, I don’t have any real content for you this week, other than this: even ideas need time to grow before they’re released into the world. If we rush them, we risk their deformation, and we risk our own well-being as well. So here’s to patience, and here’s to knowing when the time has come.

Black Love in Literature

Through the month of February, I read three books by three different black women writers, partly in the name of Black History Month and partly because I needed to wash my mind clean of the consciousness-slime I had bathed in previously reading Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

Here’s the list of books I read in February: First, The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Second, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. And third, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. And wow, what a trifecta this was.

I set out to read books I haven’t read previously, because if I’m honest, my ratio of POC written books to white written ones is skeletal, and that’s a pretty serious problem for someone who aims to be an ally (full disclosure, I am a white, settler-descended American, who grew up in the middle class – so my bias of ignorance, subconscious patterning, etc. may show up in this post. If you catch me at it, please call me out if you got time and energy for that).

This short list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what is available in the world of POC lit, or even black lit for that matter, but reading these three books back to back like this had a very powerful effect on me. While they’re quite different in scope and style, there was one theme that threaded its way into each that have changed the way I feel in the world: love as service.

I’ve encountered this idea before, but there’s nothing more powerful than experiencing it directly through the heart, which Walker, Morrison and Hurston powerfully convey in each of these novels.

In all of the romantic, white-written literature I’ve read, nothing is juicier, more moving, or more inspiring than this. What meaning does love have for us as a noun? Why is romance equated with flirtation – hook, line and sinker – in white literature? Where is the substance? How could it possibly last without a motor, without love in action, as embodied by Celine, Shug Avery and Nettie, or Milkman and Sweet, or between Janie and Tea Cake?

What a gift, to understand the power of shared, active love, and its ability to kindle and rekindle again and again – in Eros, but also in platonic love, and broad, society-sweeping, being love. Apply it in romance, apply it in partnership, with your children, your parents, the grocery store clerk, and everybody out there who’s ever been shafted by the racist (sexist, ablist, homo/trans/fat-phobic, indigenous hating) system running amuck on this beautiful Earth.

Working with Intuition

Intuition is certainly a buzz-word these days, and for good reason – since so many of us have been divorced from inner and bodily knowing, and we’ve been suffering as a society for it. Only now are we beginning to understand what we’ve lost as we’ve favored worldly knowledge over inner knowing.

To be totally clear, in this post, I’m not speaking of Intuition’s predictive capabilities. While Intuition certainly informs these capabilities, it does not stop there – and if I’m honest, I’m much less interested in the ability to predict the gender of a baby, or one’s cause of death, than I am in cultivating a strong sense of self, and self-knowing.

So that’s what I’m writing about here: self-knowing. It’s a revelatory process, and requires getting out of one’s typical trains of thought to access the information important to any given situation.

This process helps us answer questions such as, “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?” And just as easily – and just as importantly – it can help us to answer the smaller, situational conundrums, such as “What am I going to do next?”

My current favorite way to work with intuition, specifically when answering the question, “What am I going to do next,” or “How will I respond?” is a process of inquiry. I like to put my thoughts down on paper, and I keep a journal for this, because I appreciate having the ability to look back on previous situations so I can reflect on myself over time.

First, I hash out the situation – what is happening externally that I want to work with? What is happening out there that is conjunct with the stirring in me? It can be something specific to my life, such as a relationship struggle, or more global in scope, such as the state of the global economy or climate.

Once I’ve painted the situational picture, I reflect on my emotions – I name each one (there’s very often more than just one) – and I reflect on what thoughts or assumptions are informing each emotion. Maybe I’m feeling angry, which is tied up in the thought that I’m being treated unfairly. Maybe I’m feeling depressed, and every time I think about the idea of climate crisis, I feel even more down.

Often in these moments, I’m feeling pretty confused about everything outside and in – not only is it unclear what is really happening out there, I’m not totally sure what that means for me – I might feel confused about where my feelings are coming from, if they’re valid or based on old wounds, and I may not even know what I really want yet. So I begin asking a LOT of questions, and even if I don’t (or can’t) answer all of them, just the process of asking all of these questions begins to clear things up for me. In this process, I find out what the most important questions are, and then, I attempt to answer them.

After clearing aside everything else – the thoughts, feelings, etc. that I had hashed out previously – this is surprisingly easy to do. Sometimes I come up with multiple responses, and as I do this, I pay attention to what happens in my body, with particular attention on my heart space. If I feel my heart closing down, I know I’ve got the wrong answer. If my heart feels light and open, I know I’m onto something.

Once I’m there, I might come up with concrete ways to enact my chosen solution if that isn’t already plain in the solution itself. Sometimes my decisions require extra support – accountability, comfort, clarity, etc. – so I set plans to see those needs met. Sometimes I still have unanswered questions, so I write those down, and keep my eyes and ears open for the answers to come. These answers have a funny way of arriving, in dreams, upon waking, in the shower or long walks. The key to receiving them is silence and mental stillness.

While this might sound rather systematic, it rarely is. Being willing to get messy – it’s through chaos that we find clarity.

Re-Rooting: A Landmark Map to the Wild Soul

Here it is, polished, shiny, and free to all:

Re-Rooting: A Landmark Map to the Wild Soul is an ebook designed to guide the reader into a closer relationship with their own wild self. This ebook is an offering for the Community Art Gathering Grant from the BeWildReWild Fund at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

Click the “download” button below:

ANNOUNCING! As of February 14th, 2020 this book is also available on most major eReading formats, including on Nook, Apple Books, Kobo, Scribd, and Smashwords. The quickest way to find the book is by searching “Courtney Chandrea” (turns out “re-rooting” is rather common in the world of book titles).

To access the book for free in the eReading format, go to Smashwords – there, you can pay what you choose, including $0.00.

After you’ve read the book, if you find you have any feedback for me, feel free to reach out through the “Contact” page listed on the menu above.

Please consider supporting my work either via my ko-fi account or by leaving my book a review in any of the platforms listed above. It means the world to me. Thank you.

*download button opens the most recent format as of 2/12/20

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT

In the past month, my presence here has tapered off pretty significantly. But this has been bittersweet for me. Bitter, because I’ve begun to really enjoy this form of engaging with the word, and sweet, because my writing mind has been otherwise engaged with the ebook I’m working on.

And that’s why I’m here, to announce its impending publication. Re-Rooting: A Landmark Map to the Wild Soul will be available for purchase online starting next Wednesday, after 3 PM CST on Amazon and Smashwords (and look out for the possibility of receiving a free download code in a future blog post).

Re-Rooting: A Landmark Map to the Wild Soul is the recipient of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s art gathering grant via the BeWildReWild fund.

This book includes a six week program of wildness training, complete with essays, meditations, and immersive activities written by myself, as well as 6 gorgeous full-color, imagination-evoking illustrations from Erica Leigh Wilson (find more of her work on Facebook at EriCat and on Instagram @ericat.artist).

Currently, there are only plans for this book in digital format. If you are interested in this book becoming available as a physical item, please let me know, because that is an option I’m seriously considering, given adequate hope for investment return.

Natural Order: An Out-Take

Today, I’m easing back into the swing of blogging things after taking a bit of a holi-break. I’d like to share with you all an out-take from the ebook I’ve written for the Iowa Natural Heritage Fund’s Be Wild ReWild community gathering art grant: Re-Rooting: A Landmark Map to the Soul (coming in February!)

While I wasn’t able to find a good home for this excerpt in the ebook, it speaks to its underlying message in a way I couldn’t let go of, and as I read it and reread it, it kept singing ~blog post~ so here it is:

I’m one of those who needs to be reminded of the moon and stars at night. I leave my blinds open while I rock in my chair. Sewing, talking story, reading, writing.

I’m also one of those people who needs privacy—I don’t like the idea of my illuminated window becoming another screen for the city below to watch. And so I crave trees and space to shield and buffer my own soul’s wildness from those that might try to tame it.

As for me, I would rather live a life where wildlife bandits steal my garbage or a flock of hens for their food, than a life where I’m fined or locked away because my neighbors don’t like how many or how little clothes I choose to wear, or what kinds of plant matter I ingest.

I’d rather be in peace with my wildness, knowing my own moral compass will calibrate as I navigate through this world. Consequence and wise discretion are force enough to guide me. I need no written law, or weaponized enforcer of it, to help me understand and act within right and wrong.

I’m not advocating for anarchy—at least, not the anarchy our culture knows. I’m advocating for natural order.

A recipe

In a pressure cooker, add 1 cup of red lentils and three cups of water. Or however much you like. Tighten the lid, and cook for 12 minutes. Or however long you like.

Aside, chop cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms, and tempeh (or…need I say it? Whatever veggies you like). Lightly fry them in a cast iron skillet, in avocado oil and water.

When lentils finish, release the steam, or wait until it releases naturally (I’m impatient, and at this point, have rowdy babes begging wildly for food – I opt for quick release 9 times out of 10). Add loose leaves of arugula, and set the lid over top until the greens have steamed.

Next, to the pot, add coconut oil, hemp oil, sauces of choice…Tonight, it was roasted pepper soup. Sometimes a curry sauce, others, plain old vegetable or mushroom broth does fine. Toss in sautéed vegetable matter and sprinkle with sea salt, fennel seeds, cumin, ground ginger, Italian seasoning…

Stir, serve and savor the warmth of winter.

Snowfall

Winter lends itself to reverie. Blankets of snow mute the colors of the world and dampen the senses. White flurries fall while I sleep, and my youngest, the Snow Princess, awakes, toddles to the bedroom door, babbling half-coherently at me until I awake and follow.

The border between wakefulness and dreams blurs, weaving into each other in ways that are hard to follow. Amused and enamored, I mumble to the Snow Princess, “You’ve convinced me.” Of what, I’m not certain. Something to do with her beauty, her strength, and her delight. I crave the cozy cavern of deep sleep, but she sparkles in the moonlight and insists that I come play.

I resist until the very end, fighting her like I’m the babe, and she my mother. “It’s time to sleep,” I moan at her. But still, here we are in the room between rooms, the room named for Frigga, Odin’s wife, goddess of the hearth and spindle, dreams and psychic power. The hour strikes 3.

We walk circles together, drink cool water, and pour bits of kibble for the wakeful kitten perched quietly at our feet. I imagine a story unfolding, conflicting arising, and then untangling. Around and around, like a drop spindle. I’m still so new, sometimes the wool tears away in my fingers, or the yarn gets caught up in itself. I’m still so new, sometimes I give in to the frustration. Never for long.

Quiet peace descends. Sprawled across my lap, the Snow Princess sleeps, warm white liquid pouring a somnolent potion from my breast into her mouth. We sit there for a another long moment before I rise and carry the both of us back to bed.

Transgression.

Our local public library has a little bookshop outside it’s doors, where patrons can buy books discontinued from the library’s shelves for just a dollar or two a book.

Yesterday, I found myself perusing the selection, looking for something I could turn into a scrapbook. I wanted something with a solid cover and binding, with room for plenty of pictures, pieces of paper and random paraphernalia. I want it to be nice and scrappy, and I want it to last.

I found the perfect fit, in a Good Housekeeping Cookbook from the early 2000s. Hardcover, ring binding, plenty of room to grow. I brought it to the counter and greeted the clerk, ready to pay. As I’m pulling out my $2, she says, half-jokingly, “Now you’ve got to cook.”

Even though moments before, I had been feeling delightfully transgressive for selecting a book without ever using it as it was intended to be used, I tell her. I say, “Actually, it’s going to become a scrapbook.”

To that, she only says, “Oh.” How she feels about my response is indiscernible from my view. Is she crestfallen? Disgusted? Confused? I’m not sure – but she certainly wasn’t delighted, or even curious. She tells me to have a good day.

Today, I find myself thinking about the word “transgression.” It has a heavily negative connotation in common discourse, equated with rule-breaking and crime. But etymologically, to “transgress” simply means to “cross over.” What then, is the true crime of transgression? It’s possessing the gall to step over the boundaries of sanctioned living and enter the realm of the Unknown. It’s reading the instruction manual, passed down through generations, and choosing to do things differently anyways.

Instruction manuals are reliable, but they’re also rather boring. Sometimes, the companion of such a manual is a comfort, but most days, I’d rather toss it in the fire.

Anecdote Break

Today, I am tired. I don’t have words sparking out of my fingers as I do on my best days, but for the sake of consistency, and more importantly, for the sake of honoring my commitments, of walking the path as much as I can, when I can, I share with you a story of something that occurred in our home last week.


I pull my ass out of bed, and slog my way to the bathroom for my morning ablutions. Maya and Pua, always in tow. Maya sees a spot of blood on my gray jersey cotton pants and she asks, “Mama, is that poop?”

I respond, drowsily, “No. I did not poop myself.”

“Oh,” she says, understanding. “It’s enchilada?”