Giving thanks for 2011

This year has been a abundant and blessed one in many ways…more ceremony, more travel, more flor y canto, more truths, another diploma, a new job and more time with my boo.

To start of the year, I did the master cleanse, fasting for 10 days and focusing more on what I ate and beginning to exercise a little.   The cleanse was a good way to honor my body as I had began months before to release weight and do my best to become a better vegetarian.  Though I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years, I’m definitely not the best or a very healthy one.  My goal was to eat better.  Over the year I kept the 15-20 pounds that I had released off, though I need to still push myself to eat better and healthier…an ongoing challenge for me.  I’m thankful to some of the various mujeres and hombres who have led the healthy food ways talks and movement here in Los.  They have been a great inspiration even just with internet posts of their smoothies and now with their workshops, trainings y mas.

This year I have also had the blessings to share my music, floetry and spoken word much more being invited to share at protests, conferences, fundraisers and other locations.  Each of those opportunities is so important because each and every time it’s a chance to connect with youth, mujeres and mi gente.   Ever since I started sharing with my sisters of In Lak Ech 15+ years ago, we have realized and felt the importance of sharing your story.   Mujeres always come up to us and thank us for sharing their story, for touching them in some way, for empowering them and representing movement mujeres. This type of creative work is not about us, not about me, it’s not about one wombyn or man, about talent or ego..….its about what happens when sacred palabra is shared—transformation & healing!

I am also working on a CD of my floetry and spoken word to go along with my book, “Ten Fe” which waspublished in 2011.  This is so that others can have access to the flor y canto and also hopefully be transformed, empowered and inspired.  The book is something I’ve wanted to do for years now.   The pieces in this book were written from 1997 to 2010, mainly from 1997-2003 and are all meant to be performed through spoken word and performance poetry. Often presented in remixed versions they reflect my varied experiences, views, and what I’ve seen. Some of the pieces previously appeared in Mujeres de Maiz zines and in the In Lak Ech CD “Mujeres Con Palabra (2007).” Remixed pieces to music will be available on my debut CD, which I plan to have out in March 2012.

The vision for the CD, also titled “TEN FE” is to have youth and gente be able to read the poetry in the book, listen to it done in spoken word on the CD and then to beats in floetry/hip hop style.  Along with it would be some lesson plans and sample exercises to work with students and connect the work(s).  My vaquera friend who’s also a school district expert on ESL in the classroom has offered to help me and also see how we can get it in the classroom.   I’m excited about that part.  I’m also excited about how the music is manifesting.  For over 10+ years, I’ve wanted music that really represents my mixed interests and background.   From pow-wow inspired hip hop beats (which A Tribe Called Red is now doing and I love!) to banda & nortena hip hop (which Akwid did but, well it can still be done better).  At least a few of the tracks on the upcoming CD bring this mix of music to my words. My homie DJ Dub from the ITS/MISOL Klan created most of the beats and Kwix of Misol/NoNotUs is recording it at his studio in South East L.A.   I’m indebted to them and all the ITS/Misol Klan who have had my back for years and whom I created with, from what I know…the 1st xicana indigena hip hop music with a mujer rapper back in 1999 with the track “Always Running” for the Peace & Dignity Journeys CD in 2000.  Since then and even way before these brothers have always created and mixed street and ancestral knowledge to honor ancestors and their hoods…something I honor with them.  Other friends including my brothers in ceremony Gerry Rodriguez and Raul Garcia, as well as fellow In Lak Ech’er Marlene ‘Izkalli’ Beltran are featured on the CD sharing song.

This year in May 2011, I also graduated with my 2nd master’s – a Masters in Fine Arts/MFA in Public Practice Art from Otis College of Art & Design.  I really appreciated the program because it is an activist based art program—something definitely hard to find.  It allowed me to create the things I always wanted, experiment, imagine and become the artist I always knew I was.  Before the program I had created things…but usually in groups/collective.   This program was my time to create on my own, still with others but the time to finally really do it and create my dreams into reality.

After graduating with the MFA, I began looking more for opportunities to teach Chican@ studies courses in local colleges. I sent my CV and info to a few local schools but actually got hired for a 3 quarters in 2011 and 2012 at UC Santa Barbara teaching Contemporary Chican@ Art. The class has been a great blessing and challenge as it was my 1st ever college class.  Luckily, I had an amazing TA, another Chicana performer and artist, who did amazing work and supported the students and me every step of the way.  In the class I really pushed the various forms of arts, not just visual and not just painting/drawing, had guest artists (both in person and skyped) as well as had the students write and especially create work.  Though most identified as ‘non-artists’ each of the student artists created a political poster and a final creative project related to Chican@ art(s).  I was honored to be there artist instructor and look forward to the next 2 classes in 2012.

On the constant quest to grow and transform, I am committed to grow spiritually.  Among other regular ceremonies, I am especially honored and humbled to be able to be a part of an amazing annual wombyn’s ceremony in Mexico based on the moon, women’s energy and our wombs.  It has been eye opening, has shown me my strength, and reminded me how things once were and could be….a balance of ceremony, a balance of life—just balancia.  With the moon ceremony as an inspiration, we have created our monthly full moon coyolxauhqui circles here in Los Angeles, where mujeres gather to share song, palabra, ceremony and honor selves, community and the cosmos.  This has been especially healing and important for many of the mujeres involved and I really look forward to more of this wombyn honoring time.  This year I also honored 5 years sober…and that for me has been another important healing ceremony.

Thank you to each and everyone in my life who has inspired, supported and created community and family with me…. I am truly blessed and honored to be living the life I live and sharing it with so many amazing gente.  I hope to continue to help create “a world where many worlds fit” (EZLN) and seguir transformando in a good way.  Ten Fe!

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