Saturday, September 30, 2017

Arrival






















coco mālie kawaioli krishok
6 pounds of decolonization
each syllable proclaims your lineage
your auspicious arrival
daughter of natives and immigrants

small earthling self
constellating through the cosmos
into our arms on the fall equinox

did your grandmother sense you?
as your mother’s ovaries formed in vitro
perfect little ovaries the size of mustard seeds
the embryo implanted into the lining
made rich by centuries of women survivors

hailing from portugal
china
the philippines
germany
and hawaii

the follicle that would become you
carrying the stories that comprise your genes
your body knows the flavors and recipes
passed through umbilical cords into amniotic fluid

my son introduces my korean mother and father to you
and the polish and italian parents and grandparents of his father
the nightshades appropriated by the conquistadors from the americas
into italy circle back
and land smack dab in the middle of the pacific ocean

floating in your salty ocean
every grandmother and great grandmother and great great grandmother
caresses you
welcomes you
stay, little one, stay

where is my mother in your perfect dna?
where is my halmoni and the women before her?
could you taste the go-chu and ma-nul in the fluid
preparing your palate for kim-chi?

every gulp of breastmilk connects you back to the islands
and peninsulas of the matriline
those who survived genocides
the korean women during wartime, struggling to feed their children
buffeted by aspiring super-powers
the filipina clutching their identities, their homes, and families
the wahine fighting for their waters, their language, and their land

how many times can land be stolen?
how many times can a woman be raped?
how many times can she be humiliated and trampled?
how do we reclaim our bodies, our homes,
our food,
our stories,
our children and grandchildren?

I feed your mother the tomatoes and potatoes
from native america via italy and poland
I feed your mother the kim-chi from ground chilis
packed in po-ja-gi and carried across boats
I feed your mother my mother’s myuk-guk
iron-rich birthday soup of roasted sesame oil, soaked mushrooms,
and seaweed from oceans that touch both
this island and my grandmother’s peninsula

it is all I can do to not take you to my own breast
of dried milk ducts and shriveled ovaries
I am past childbearing
I have entered the larger realm
of the intergenerational embrace
I am backed by my ancestors and their ancestors before them

I carry their wounds and their brilliance and their strength
I am here to embody all that as I cradle you
in arms that stretch generations

welcome, my child
coco mālie kawaioli krishok

Mama Gwi-Seok’s Guide to Raising Strong, Confident, Free-Thinking Solutionaries, Part I

This has just happened:
I have become a Halmoni! Coco Malie Kawaioli Krishok was born on 11 September, and I've just returned from spending 9 days with her and her parents, my son Malachi, and his partner, Kai. In the airport coming home, I realized there was still so much I wanted to share, based on my experience of the last 30+ years as a mother. Here is the beginning of some thoughts regarding parenting.

Although patriarchy still shapes much of our society, don’t buy into it by reinforcing gender stereotypes. Invest in identity traits outside of gender. As your child grows, they will certainly express tendencies, which should be accepted and supported. Some of these tendencies could be attributed to their sex and hormones, but emphasizing gender can reinforce stereotypes that are often oppressive.

No baby or child is “bad.” They are all inherently “good” and perfect and beautiful. A mellow, laid-back child is not “better” than a spirited, high-energy child, and vice versa.

Sleeping and eating are too important to teach. In a healthy environment, babies will eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. Sugar will dull their appetite for healthy food, and stress around sleep will cause anxiety and sleeplessness. The best place for baby to sleep is where everyone gets the most sleep. Don’t worry about whether they will outgrow baby patterns or not. They WILL!

Recognize when you are imposing an adult, work-centered, capitalist requirement upon your child, such as requiring them to eat or sleep at certain times. Sometimes this may be necessary. But notice how often this is required and the impact it has on your child and your family, and consider other options.

Be prepared to be both nurturer and warrior, both gentle and fierce. The fact is our society does not fully support children or mothers. Fatherhood is also, in turn, de-valued. Our society sees children as unproductive and the work of parenting as unimportant. We pay lip-service to parents and children but fail to back it up with policy and programs like paid parental leave, good education, and comprehensive health care. No one values your child as much as you do, so you have to fight and advocate for their rights and needs. No one knows your child as well as you do, so you have to fight for what they need as individuals. Don’t let your child become a cog in the wheel of a destructive, negligent society. Also remember that fighting for women’s rights is fighting for children’s rights, because women are the ones to bear and breastfeed children and frequently serve as primary caregivers.

Limit screen time to protect their senses and their sensibilities. The mainstream corporate media is the primary way that we are brainwashed into being good workers and consumers. You will not regret the limits you place, and when and if it’s time to remove them, it will be easy to do so. However, the reverse is difficult and will cause resentment—to take away a privilege that has already been granted.

Trust the genius and brilliance your child came into the world with, and trust yourself as their steward, protector, nurturer, and teacher. Others will try to steer you and your child toward their agenda. Keep your eyes on the prize, and let your child reveal their gifts in their own time. There’s no advantage to blooming early, and lots of potential harm in forcing it. Trees are healthiest and strongest when their growth is slow. Children also should not be rushed.

Remember illnesses are building a healthy immune system. Do not overmedicate, and trust their bodies to correct the imbalances that inevitably occur. Support their immune system with the best healthy food, and natural, nontoxic remedies. Instead of antibiotics, treat with powerful PRObiotics. If and when you must resort to allopathic treatment, do so judiciously and minimally.

This is the most difficult lesson in parenting: you will not be able to protect your child from all harm. Wrap them in a cloud of unconditional love, and recruit extended family and friends to do the same. When harm occurs through illness, accidents, conflicts, institutions and authorities, your child gets the opportunity to learn how to respond: by standing up for themselves, asking for help, expressing their needs and feelings, among lots of other constructive ways to act.

Remember all needs are sacred. When they are whining and crying and acting out, they are expressing needs and asking for attention. What is attention but love? Everyone has the need to be cherished, protected, seen and heard. Notice the magic in the room when a newborn enters. Remember that magic even as they get older and make you angry and frustrated. They will always be that most innocent and fragile baby inside their gruff exteriors.

Your needs as parents are also sacred. Do not shortchange yourself or burn yourself out. Your health must be preserved at all costs. Parents need to take care of themselves and each other as well as their children. It’s not either/or but both/and. Your child may not understand this at first, but you must model self-care so that they will eventually learn to take care of themselves.

Children must never be deprived of the need to contribute to the greater good. Everyone must build the household together. Housework and cooking are tasks everyone needs to contribute to, starting at the earliest age. Children naturally imitate and will work side by side with you, whatever you do. Welcome them, and give them age-appropriate tasks. Include them as much as possible in everything.

Trust, love, feel, discern, intuit, and trust yourself some more. You will figure out what is best for you and your child.

In unconditional love,

gwi-seok

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year 2017! A Year to Use Your Gifts Fully in Sacred Struggle

“Humankind will always be engaged in struggle, because struggle is in fact the highest form of human creativity.” ~ Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs, Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century

2016, by all measures, was a year of upheaval, loss, and profound challenges. Especially since the recent election, I am determined to enter 2017 with renewed vigor. I don't have time to lapse into despair, or to squander energy in rage, or to numb myself with infinite distractions. I am determined to stay woke, to take self-care to another level, to throw all of my weight into the sacred struggles of our time, and indeed, to engage in struggle as “the highest form of human creativity.”

Between capitulation to the status quo and incessant protest, lies a third way: building the life and the society we long to live in. This is the most fulfilling form of resistance I can imagine. Outside the repressions of a counter-revolutionary government and institutions, we create with our friends and loved ones, another more compassionate, balanced, sustainable, and joyful path.

Perhaps you believe, as I do, that on some deep inner level, we each chose to be on the planet at this time, and even to be in these (not so) United States in the 21st century. If this is true, these are the times you’ve been preparing yourself for. Welcome!

What does the sacred struggle look like for you in 2017? For me, I’m determined to:
  •  Develop more quiet time: morning pranayama, evenings with candlelight instead of electricity, and reduced use of electronics. 
  •  Heal my injuries and illnesses: to prioritize and spend the time and energy and money to heal the physical and emotional conditions that result in illness and injury.
  •  Recognize when I need help, ask for it, and use it, whether it’s emotional support, health care, medicine, time, food, advice, information, and more.
  • Share my resources freely: firstly give credit and referrals to my friends, colleagues, and mentors, especially those who’ve been underappreciated due to systems of oppression; offer any experience and appropriate skills (and not take it personally if declined); show up and support individuals, groups, and organizations; speak up as needed (and be quiet as needed).
  • Speak truth to power and pressure our leaders, governments, and institutions to meet the needs of the people: I put my legislators on speed dial, will write letters and emails ad infinitum, organize, and join movements.

I hope these actions will manifest on numerous levels, from developing Iyengar Yoga Detroit Collective as a healing justice gathering place, to forming an all-abilities housing cooperative, to expanding my yoga teaching to be even more inclusive, and protecting the rights and resources of the people.

This is just the beginning. I look forward to hearing how you will exercise struggle as creativity and righteous justice in 2017.