These are perilous times. These are also times filled with challenges and opportunities to pause, listen, allow, pray, reflect, connect, envision, and innovate. In addition, we are charged with saving ourselves, each other, and our world. Journal with pen and pencil, voice recording, art, music, movement etc. Make a record of these times for yourself, and for your beloved ones and for those who come after you.
Here’s a suggestion, one way, to structure and hold our thoughts, feelings, visions, brilliances, and knowings.
Write it Down
Write for 5-15 minutes each day or more if it delights you
Put the timer on
Write with a commitment to transform your dreams, prayers, stories, songs, music, joy, sadness, anger, fear, silence, anxiety, immobility… onto the page and into positive, productive, and powerful action and art
What to do:
Choose a time
Choose a comfortable space
Set your timer
Center and breathe with intention for 1-5 minutes
Or more, as is your practice
Ask yourself and your guides for support & help you
Set your timer again
Write until your timer signals stop
After resetting your timer: Revise your writing
Read your writing out loud. Yes, this is a very good practice
Should it delight you to write more, reset your timer
Reset timer & Revise again
Read out loud again
End your session
Give thanks to your Higher Power & Guides
Have a long drink of water or tea or…
Make a folder for your chronicling, name and date each entry & Save!
Put on some music & stretch & or dance & or take a walk, keeping Covid-19 safe
Share your chronicling experience with another
by phone or email or text or snail mail, etc., should that delight you.
Share it with your writing group or support group or via social media
Read it out loud to a beloved one.
Join me, starting Monday, March 23, 2020 for:
Morning Write: Monday – Friday from 7:30 am – 8:30 am Pacific Time
Evening Write: Monday – Friday from 8:00 pm- 9:00 pm Pacific Time
The US CDC reported 10,442 total (confirmed and presumptive) COVID-19 cases and 150 deaths nationwide. This represents a 48.3% increase in reported cases and a 54.6% increase in deaths from the previous day. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.
Orange Julius abused a journalist today during a news conference when he was asked to address the fears of millions of Americans. Some senators are reported to have possibly benefitted from sales of stock with insider information while assuring ordinary Americans that our economy and our markets were strong, there was nothing to fear. Doctors and nurses plead for masks, gowns, swabs, gloves, goggles, ventilators…
Orange Julius lies and lies and lies and mis-informs and mis-manages while the specter of gross negligence and incompetence are costing the lives of American, our beloved ones, our neighbors….
We ride our tricycles and visit the wild rabbits and wild turkeys. We listen to the birds singing throughout our community. Someone is playing a saxophone. The sound is smooth and sweet in our ears. We wave at cars, the UPS and FedEx trucks, and the workers servicing our neighborhood.
I take picture of the rabbits and turkeys, blooming irises, a radiant ornamental pear trees with a young woman sitting near, a young wisteria flowering for the first time, and cotton ball clouds in the blue sunny light sky of our afternoon sky.
I go down my to-do list of selfcare: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home, except for the pharmacy & the grocery and then only with mask and gloves and when there a very few people shopping. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Listen to music. Play games and laugh a lot with my partner. When I feel the fear, she holds me tight. When I feel the rage, I scream at the TV and make a list of positive and productive things to do.
March 19, 2020, 11:50 pm.
The Vernal Equinox arrived to align day and night. Long nights have passed. The Anglo Saxon Goddess, Eostre, announces and celebrates a new life with the gifts of Easter. She asks us to awaken from our soul’s sleep. She demands that we cleanse our homes, our minds, our bodies, our hearts and our souls. She urges us to enjoy the returning sun while we prepare ourselves to turn the soil, plant the fields, husband the animals, protect and preserve the land, air, water, every natural resource. She admonishes us to do our work in the world that protects and preserves life. She insists that we tend to ourselves and each other with love, respect and honor. This she asks of us to assure our survival, our thriving in abundance and joy.
The days before the final verdict on the articles of impeachment of Donald J. Trump for Obstruction of Congress and Abuse of Power, a collective memory stirred in me. I had been dreaming about and trying to imagine the middle passage. African children women, children and men stacked and shackled. The dead thrown overboard. Those who were forced to throw the dead overboard threw themselves as well. Unrelenting labor, torture, dismemberment, rape, and delivering children destined for the auction block. I imagined the cost to resist–rebel. The costs of living without respite or hope. The cost to living with hope for the freedoms of generations coming while constant fear and endless loss.
Beginning with the FBI investigations into undue influences in our 2016 presidential election up to the impeachment hearings of the sitting president, I watched. I listened. I talked. I read. I slept with the actions of the leader of our nation–his administration–his spokespeople– his words–his actions. I was–I am furious-angry-rageful–not merely frustrated. I was-I am sad–prostrate with grief. I was–I am terrified–not paranoid–not overreacting–not histrionic–not biased–not hysterical.
I have been experiencing rational terror informed by our current political realities in which the posture–quality–quantity and substance of our debates–policies–laws–norms–morality have been bent toward white supremacist territorial-social-political-religious-economic agendas for increased power and rule over women, children, black and brown people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, our land–our natural resources–our environment–all of our sacredness. I have been experiencing rational terror because of the hyper-escalation toward absolute presidential powers to influence and rule. I am witnessing the erasure of the checks and balances provided for in our constitution–by a free press–an independent judiciary–equal branches of government to adequately and effectively be truth to power–check that power–veto the power–impeach that power–inform the citizenry of the immediate and present dangers to our democracy and republic–end a decent into tyranny. My chest–head–arms–back ached. I wondered if I was experiencing heart attack symptoms.
Early on the morning of February 5, 2020, the day of the president’s senate trial verdict for abuse of power and obstruction of congress, I heard my mother’s voice singing within me. In this memory, my mother and a church choir were singing the invitational. The invitational is the time in a protestant church service when anyone who wants to join the church is gently encouraged and warmly welcomed to come forward. I hummed along. I finally sang the song out loud–from memory–by heart.
The first songs I learned were hymns and Negro spirituals, the blues, the rowdy lewd kind, as well as the jazzy dancing kind, and the jazz ballads. Yet, when there is deep danger, sadness, anger, even joy, it is the church music that sounds in my mind, my sleeping and waking dreaming.
From the ages of four to eleven years old, my church experience was one of safety, safe caring adults and lifelong friends. It was my first spiritual, educational, social, and political home. It taught me about reliance on my community, lifting each other up, and looking after the sick and the elderly. My church taught me black history, literature, music, and providing safety in community. My church was politically active in the civil rights movements.
What I treasured most was the feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of black bodies, voices and harmonies. It was a feeling of complete wholeness and safety in the segregated south. I felt linked to each and every person, to every black person, to every stolen generation before me. I felt safe. I felt protected.
The deep irony of the hymns singing within me is that my church betrayed and abandoned me. I left my church and organized religion after I was sexually and emotionally abused, and exploited by a very powerful Methodist minister starting when I was eleven years old. For many years, I blamed myself for his abuse and my church’s failure to protect me or stop him. I blamed myself when my relationship with God was shattered. As I recovered, I re–established a sustaining spiritual practice and decided to stop participating in organized religion. When the songs came, I often kept the tunes and changes the words or layered additional words and stanzas to make the tune and the hymn accessible to me.
I used the words my mother was singing to me to look up the name of the hymn and its author. I looked in the usual places online to find who wrote the music and lyrics to the song playing in my memory to no avail. Even though I could not find the hymn, I traced the memory and traced the provenance to an agreement to survive–more-to live and thrive through love and action.
I asked myself to imagine the effect of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 and the yeas it took for all slaves to learned they were free. Jubilee. Freedom. Searching for loved ones. Mass migration. Building homes, churches, schools, businesses and towns. Voting, serving as mayors, governors, and legislators.
I imagined the three days before the presidential inauguration in 1877. The democrats declared Rutherford B. Hayes, a republican, the winner of the 1876 presidential election in exchange for the removal of all federal troops from the south. This ended the Reconstruction Era and all its protections for former slaves’ equal rights as full citizens. It reignited a reign of domestic terror against former slaves and people of African descent. Kidnap, false imprisonment, rape, and murder. Homes, businesses, and towns looted and burned. Slavery again all but in name.
After the Compromise of 1877, it would be seventy–seven years before Brown Versus Board of Education, eighty-eight years before the Voting Rights Act was passed, and ninety-one years before The Fair Housing Act was passed.
My being began to write a poem between the lines of the words of the invitational hymn alternating lines of song and poem. The intertwining of hymn and poem reminded me that our current times are not the only times of peril we have survived. I felt admonished to refuse to give up on hope and joy. Refuse to give in to hate. Dispel disinformation, confusion and inaction. Mobilize my angers and my fears toward right individual and collective action. Remember, we are not alone. Those who have gone before us remain with us. We can lean and depend on them. They are our guides. We are each other’s guides.
Call and Response
Give me this day
As the sand cranes in the delta lift up in first flight
The pardon of my sins
In refusing to treasure my whole self in the whole selves of others
Jenee Darden, author ofWhen a Purple Rose Blooms, shares her journey of growth from black girl to black woman growing up in Oakland, California. Her writing is smart, complex and accessible. Her journey is filled with humor, self–love and empowerment, all while absorbing the barbed messages of being black and female in her time.
Yodassa Williams, author of The Goddess Twinswrites an exciting tale of discovery by identical twins.Aurora and Arden develop powers in telekinesis and telepathy days before their eighteenth birthday. Adventures and dangers abound for the sisters as they master their powers and confront a family mystery that is centuries old.
Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA Invites you to a Women’s Writer’s Camp
in Windsor, California
March 19–through 22, 2020
Together is better than alone and more fun. Come write, collaborate and support one another across generations, definitions, abilities and backgrounds.
Writer’s Camp in Windsor, California is designed to facilitate intensive writing, enable direct immediate feedback, and encourage wellness. Our time together will include private writing time, group learning and discussion, and shared meals each day. Don’t forget the pool and hot tub!
Capacity is ten (10) participants.Last day to enroll: March 2, 2020
Writer’s Camp Fee and Lodging for Three Night (3) $425.00 Single Occupancy – $325.00. Double Occupancy
Reserve your space with a $200.00 deposit by February 24, 2020 and receive a 20% discount. Pay Here
Location & Accommodations:Writer’s Camp at World Mark, 1251 Shiloh Road, Windsor, California, 95492, Approximately 75 mi. North of California just above Santa Rosa. Fully equipped kitchen, w/d, patio w/grill, outdoor pool, hot tub etc. Coffee, tea, and healthy snacks will be available all day and evening. Writers responsible for own food. Bring food to prepare, order in or eat out in the Windsor Community.
Charlene Allen & Andrea Canaan Invite you to aWriter’s Camp for Women in San Francisco
Charlene Allenand Andrea Canaandeveloped Writer’s Campto enable direct immediate critical feedback, encourage wellness, and enrich our vital writing relationship as women writers.
Charlene is a creative consultant specializing in adult and children’s fiction. Andrea is a therapist and writer specializing in creative non-fiction and fiction. We find that sharing our work and creative process brings joy, dispels isolation and fear of rejection, and brings our writing to life We have convened Writer’s Camp in Brooklyn, New York, Granby, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Georgia, and San Francisco, California.
The San Francisco Writer’s Camp will provide a nurturing writing environment grounded in supported writing, building writing and creative community, promoting individual wellness, and publishing and promoting our writing work. Our time together will include individual consultation, writing, revising, workshopping, and a public reading.
Schedule: Friday, October 11th- 6-9 pm – Saturday, October 12th10am –6 pmSunday October 13th10–6pm (Reading 4-6pm)
Writer’s Camp San Francisco
Location: Verve Wellness Studio 1231 Cortland Avenue (Corner of Cortland & Nevada, Bernal Heights Neighborhood, BART to 24th Street)
This 4th of July thousands of separated children, teens women and men have been dispersed into states, cities and rural locations. They are undocumented children, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers wives, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, friends, husbands. They are undocumented, legal asylum seekers and seeking to immigrate. They have been forced and shuttled into another Colored People’s Diaspora on both sides of the Mexican border.
Thousands of refugees are crushed inside cages and warehouses, left out in the elements along our southern borders and scattered over Louisiana and Mississippi in private secreted prisons.
An unknown number of children and teens have been separated from their parents, declared unaccompanied minors when, in fact, they were accompanied, and were denied passage to relatives and sponsors who would care for them, feed them, cloth them, provide medical care, recreation, education, human touch, welcoming arms, smiles, and soothing words and deeds for shattered hearts. We don’t know how many. We don’t know all of the places they are being imprisoned or placed in foster care or where or adopted or trafficked for al we know. When mayors and legislators, and others, demand to see them, they are turned away or they are hidden away. Food and hygiene supplies are shown to visitors but not given to the children, women and men.
This 4thof July news reports tell of shocking and heartbreaking atrocities being committed in our names. No access to due process or healthy sustainable food or water or hygiene or medical attention or environments to rest and sleep or education or recreation or freedom of movement or lawful and humane treatment or lawful oversight.
Women who are already citizens are facing numerous laws that take control of their bodies, force them to carry unwanted pregnancies or submit to abusive invasions before receiving constitutionally protected health care services.
I cannot celebrate America’s freedom and birth when tens of thousands of people are treated inhumanely for the sole purpose of assuring white people in America that white dominance and privilege will remain the intention of the law and the order of our nation, and to secure the second illegitimate election of the current president
I woke up on the 4th this year thinking about what I wanted for the day. I want freedom, I said to myself. I want to hold my nation’s truths “to be self-evident, that all men, and women, are created equal, that they, we, are endowed by their, our, Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I do and will “continually help to…” form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare..”
That’s what I want, I said to myself.
Although my heart swells to all of the patriotic songs and hymns of every branch of military service, I, and my peoples, have never experienced the full freedoms of U. S. citizens. And, while I insist, fight, vote, talk, march and write about equality, justice, the pursuit of liberty and happiness, inalienable rights, freedom and justice for all, I still live in fear for all people of color, all immigrants of color, LGBTQ people, all women and all of our children.
I decided to listen to Nina Simone, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDqmJEWOJRI as she sings out my longing for authentic, non-delayed, non-gerrymandered freedoms for women’s rights to control our own bodies, receive equal pay, receive equal protections from harassers, abusers, and rapists without statutes of limitation, to experience freedom from racial and police profiling, and abuse, free from being murdered by domestic terrorists, given bolder and bolder permissions by the head of our nation, or agents of the state.
I’m grateful for the relative privileges and full obligations I have as a citizen of the United States of America. I renew my pledge to be an informed, fully participating, fully empowered citizen and to reverse the policies and practices of those who have engineered our beloved nation into a divided states of America. I will remain true to myself and all of the peoples of my native lands. I will act up, sit in, march, resist, campaign, vote, oversee, and hold accountable my nation to grow into a fully functioning equal, just, multicultural, multi-ethnic, democratic republic, and yes, celebrate our every small and large victory.
While food, fireworks, dancing, parades, marching bands, soaring symphonies of patriotic music, grilling, red white and blue bunting and every kind of summer fun is the traditional celebration for most, it remains an elusive dream, sometimes nightmare, for many. As a citizen of this country, I work toward the day when we are truly the land of the free and the home of the brave. I want to celebrate this day with abandon and joy. I want our children’s belonging and freedoms to be secure. I want to celebrate like the child in the Frank McKenna photograph above. Today, sadly, is not that day.
Andrea R. Canaan–July 4, 2019–San Francisco, California
My daughter,Leslie, dropped me off at Adamsville Rec Center. It is a neighborhood away from her Collier Heights Home of brick ranch style houses of every variety that had steep drive ways in hilly wooded landscapes and lawns that ended at the street. No sidewalks. I go there five days a week, Monday through Friday, on my two-month long visit for an hour and a half of swimming laps in the heated pool. I am greeted in an Atlanta warm–honey urban southern drawl”
“Why hello Mam, how ya doin today?”
I drop my West Coast accent, even though I haven’t lived in the south for twenty–five years.
“Why, hello to you, darlin. I’m doing just fine, thank you. And you?”
I pay two dollars for the swim and make my way to the women’s locker room that is especially clean and has a well designed disability dressing rooms and shower stalls. I walk through the women’s locker room door dressed in my black speedo swim suit, size 24, and black flip flops holding a cane.
I push the women’s locker room door open and begin to make a hard right turn toward the Olympic size pool and the walk between eight swimming lanes on the right, observer bleachers above, and on the left. I am looking forward to my twenty–five laps to keep my recently replaced knee in good shape, my un–replaced knee with minimal swelling and pain, and in need of prescription pain medication. I’m ready to bask in one of my places of meditation and prayer, and stroke, turn, stroke and turn again, and again.
As I turned right, I nearly collide into a young man. We are both surprised. He steps back and moves out of my way, while holding the door for me. He is a young black boy. He is ten, maybe eleven-years-old, growing into a young man. He has a wiry muscled and toned swimmers body. Water is beaded on his skin the color of new pecans. He has a close haircut and dark caramel eyes. He was passing the women’s locker room door in route to the men’s locker room holding swimmer’s goggles and other swim gear. Other young men are passing us by after their team swim workout. Each of them say, “Evenin Mam,” Hello Mam” How ya doin Mam,” as they have been taught.
The young man who nearly collided into me, the one with the new pecan colored skin and the caramel colored eyes, did so automatically. Home training, especially for an elder. As he held the door, however, he paused, turned his head to the side, moved his head back a bit, tucked his chin in a little. In this seconds silent exchange, he looked me up and down slowly, like I was a dark milk chocolate ice cream swirl and said, “Well hellooo… there!”
His voice was a boy’s. His look is pure unrivaled appreciation.
I responded with a friendly, but elder–to–child, “Thank you, son,” (for stopping and letting me pass) “And good evening to you, darlin.”
I passed to his left and walked toward the pool. I didn’t look back. I know he was still looking at me noting the rhythm of my flip-flopping steps, my cane on the tiled pool deck, my wide coffee with a generous pour of milk body, swaying hips, ample buttocks, thighs, legs to the ankles and back up again, to my graying long locks banded into a thick pony tail.
As I walked pass eight lanes of teams of swimmers, their hands stroking and legs kicking, I heard them making the sounds of water falls or high waves rushing to shore. Swim coaches blew whistles and shouted directions and encouragement. I was surprised and delighted as I looked into the face of this growing boy. I saw him. Boys like him whose grand mothers and grandfathes, I had grown up with, our families were neighbors or church members or socialand pleasure club members. The appreciation in his eyes told me that he appreciated my size. He likes big bosomed, big butt women, and so did the boys and men that make up the constellation of his living. In his voice, I hear he had been taught to appreciate and praise power and grace when he found himself in its presence.
I kept my smile small, but allowed beams of pleasure and sweetness to enter my warm liquid sanctuary at the same time I entered the Adamsville Rec’s heated pool.