Saturday, November 24, 2012

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” 
--Lewis B. Smedes

This has been a challenging thing for me to come to terms with: the fact that my memories of my life are now so vastly different from what they were before, even just five short years ago. It seems like some sort of a trick, a lie even, as it was only in sobriety that I began to understand what had happened to me in my life. . . .  For a long time I questioned what was true, as the reality being presented to me by my sober mind looked so remote from the life I had thought I'd been living. I had not realized the full extent of, or the reasons for my pain.. But they are dawning on me, gradually clearer in my mind. The trick and the lie is what came before. What is now is truth. No more fog, no more deceit.

I am still re-framing many of my memories, as this sort of task is not completed overnight. It takes a long time to make sense of a past wrapped up in dishonesty and fear. What I love about the quote above, is the notion of a healed memory. I'm not in the act of forgiving anyone just now, instead I am in the process of draining out a bitter ocean of anger within me. But there are other ways to heal a memory, and that is what I am doing: being brave enough to listen to that little voice inside of me--the one who knew what was going on all along. Going against the past perceptions of everyone else and remembering that little voice, that always told me what was true. I didn't honor or listen to her then, but I honor and listen to her now. She was right all along. I will see it her way from now on. My memories, thus transformed.  

In writing this I discover that perhaps I am forgiving someone after all. . . myself.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I had a wonderful opportunity this week to attend the Women's Media Awards-event organized by the Women's Media Center (WMC) founded by my close friend and mentor Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. This is what their website has to say about the event: "The Women’s Media Awards recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to advancing women’s and girls’ visibility and power in media."

It wouldn't have occurred to me how important organizations like this are for women, until I saw the statistics, which are staggering. And there is a enormous array of statistics to choose from, that make the same point. Here is one: "We live in a racially and ethnically diverse nation that is 51% female, but the news media itself remains staggeringly limited to a single demographic. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010, 24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen, or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news were female.  Only 13% of stories focused specifically on women and 6% on issues of gender equality or inequality."

I didn't expect to be moved the way I was by the event. What affected me most was being in a room full of powerful women. When does that ever happen? Women are bred to be submissive, to please men, to be more concerned with the latest trends than, for example, who's going to lead this country for the next four years. Women are 51% of the electorate, which means we have some serious power in this world. But...we are bred not to seize it.

Like I said, it was inspiring to see a room full of strong women, most of whom had indeed harnessed their power. From Anne Hathaway, who hosted the event, to Barbara Walters, who gave out the lifetime-award to Pat Mitchell, to Laura and Lisa Ling, two hosts and journalists who've been through hell and back doing what they love...I was just drinking it all in, feeling a real sense of belonging among these people. I still have a ways to go to unlearn my programming, but being a part of events like this makes me as motivated as ever to go after my dreams and become who I want to be.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

These last two weeks have been challenging, I have to admit it now. When hurricane Sandy hit New York, I thought I dealt with the whole thing really well--I felt like a trooper. I kept living my life as normally as possible, and fulfilling my duties as much as I could. Yet now as the dust settles, I find that the ordeal affected me much more deeply than I realized at first.

I think that for a lot of New Yorkers, Sandy was reminiscent of 9/11/2001. Even if we aren't aware of it on the surface, there is an unconscious film-roll that started running with the shocking nature of what the city went through last week. It's an entirely different circumstance of course, but the halting, traumatized feeling of the past is renewed. I would have disagreed with this assessment last week in the midst of my "brush-it-aside-and-keep-going"-attitude, but now as I relax a bit and let my body work through and finally heal itself from what is possibly my third cold in two weeks (!), I have to say, it's true.

I'm sure I've said this before, and I know I've even said it in a lyric of mine, but often the body knows better than the mind what is really going on within us. Right now, I'm telling myself that it's ok to be unsettled, that it's ok to feel the plethora of emotions that a huge event like this brings about. The rest of the world is already moving on, but this destruction has left a mark on all of us in this city, whether we realize it or not. Just like 9/11 did.

Yes, we can choose to brush these things aside and pretend like they don't touch us, but what's the point in that? They manifest themselves in other ways if we refuse to feel them. Either way, we can't run away from ourselves. Whatever you leave behind now, you will have to face in the future. I have learned that through my own experience many times. I am learning that I can't skip over feelings that seem inconvenient, I must feel them. Only in doing so can I heal myself and be whole.

"Stop masking your pain for it will bleed through somewhere else in your life.”
― Sherna Benjamin

Friday, November 2, 2012

What a week here in New York. What a fucking week.
I'm overwhelmed with emotions, some of which I don't even recognize. It's quite a tangle... One thing is for sure: it's hard to be thrown off most if not all of one's routines. In the midst of making my record in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, it is inconvenient to not be able to get there via subway as usual. Secondly, even if I was to get all the way there from my home in Brooklyn, I would be met with the fact that there is no power in the studio. Yup, that's life in New York right now. Thus, I wait.

Don't get me wrong, I know how good I have it. I know that hurricane Sandy destroyed the lives and properties of so many people in the city. To not have lost anything of value or anyone close to me, I am extremely lucky. I just have a feeling that this is not the last we've seen of storms of Sandy's ilk. I have a feeling that this is merely the beginning, and this alternately saddens and angers me. We the people are not innocent in all of this. Sandy is a symptom of climate change. 
This, unfortunately, is fact.

I went for a walk in Prospect Park on Thursday (illegal right now, in storm's aftermath....) and what was supposed to be a refreshing outing turned into a saddening, maddening, horrifying one. I saw hundreds of trees uprooted or sliced in half; beautiful, magnificent trees lying helplessly on the ground, dying. For me, nature has always provided solace--especially when it seemed like I wasn't able to get love and consolation from people around me. To then see these broken trees in what seemed like a skeletal Prospect Park...well, it was heart-breaking.

I know that I am anthropomorphizing trees somewhat, in that I see them as fallen friends. But I doubt that I'm truly out of line in thinking this way. We are dependent on trees and plants for our oxygen and they also soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We need them desperately, and yet everywhere in the world trees are being destroyed by deforestation, fires and storms, among other calamities. 

Storm coverage is currently concentrating on more pressing issues like flooding and power outages. I hope these will finally create an urgency to do what we can do to preserve our atmosphere and our environment. It will take a while before fallen trees will create such a reaction in the powers that be, but in the meantime I leave you with a couple of photographs of my beautiful, leafy friends. Rest in peace.