My hero, Maya Angelou

Will you join me in a moment of silence in honor of my hero, Maya Angelou?

 

My initial reaction to being told she had died today was screaming followed by scream crying. My husband did not see that coming.

 

Neither did I.

 

It’s just…I thought…I don’t know. I made this website and blog because I was inspired. My dear friend, Sarah, sent me this Meme today:

 

Maya Angelou

 

I love Sarah so much and felt it was a real gift to hear from her in this way so I invited her to look at my new website, as it is rife with Maya Angelou quotes. I then launched into a desperate plea for her strength, explaining to Sarah that I was too afraid to put myself out there (as in, too afraid to shoot my excellent YouTube video scripts or tell anyone that I started a blog).

 

Sarah told me: I think the Internet is a great resource in having your voice heard and you should 100% go for this.

 

When I began to tell my husband about my conversation with Sarah, he informed me of the great Maya Angelou’s passing. During my scream crying it occurred to me that Sarah reached out to me today so that exact conversation could take place; so that I would 100% go for this. I think it’s what Angel Maya Angelou wants.

 

It makes sense that she would use Sarah, as my connection to Maya Angelou is linked to my friendship with Sarah. In the Spring of 2002 Maya Angelou spoke at our college in New York thanks to the painstaking efforts of the students involved in the Women of Color Club. Her message of activism inspired the rest of my life. When she sang, the huge packed auditorium went dead silent, you could hear a pin drop. It sounded a bit like this:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtdffxj7pNE

 

At the time, Sarah and I had just finished Co-Directing The Vagina Monologues for our school’s first ever V-Day college campaign to benefit the local YWCA Aid to Victims of Violence Unit. Maya Angelou blew our minds. I bought her autobiography afterwards called, “The Heart of a Woman” and was just astounded to learn that, like Eve Ensler, Maya Angelou wrote a play in an effort to create positive social change.

 

THIS was my calling.

 

My heart wanted to right all the wrongs that my GIANT brain could readily see, but I knew that I still needed to learn HOW to be heard. So, I went to law school and excelled. I got to stand up for victims of violence. I got to represent children in the middle of nasty custody disputes. I got to work for Family Court Judges as their Law Clerk. I even got a very nice thank you letter from a Family Law client, which is almost unheard of among attorneys.

 

However, this was not my calling.

 

I don’t want to argue. I don’t want to be lied to. I don’t want to be in a position where I witness children being used as pawns or bait.

 

I want to be heard. I have a lot of important things to say.

 

I don’t have Maya Angelou’s height or booming voice, but her spirit is within me.

 

I will shoot my YouTube videos; that is a promise.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

XO

 

~Rachel

Belly Breathe

Hey, wanna know what my greatest parental achievement is to date?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZbzDOpylA

 

Watch this Sesame Street video.

 

The belly breathe. I promise you I am no parental expert, but this is my story:

 

As I was staring at the computer screen, watching Belly Breathe on YouTube for the millionth time, holding my son, dreaming about how I used to be a lawyer back when people still talked to me and I still left the house regularly, it hit me that I was not breathing.

 

Why aren’t you breathing?

 

I’m thinking.

 

Can’t you do both?

 

Then I started to really pay attention to the song and it became clear why my 10 month old son has been insisting we watch this song every day for the last 2 months: it’s because we breathe together and we talk about breathing. Someone WAS talking to me, my son, as best he could. I thought he was trying to drive me crazy, pointing and grunting, for me to play the song, screaming and crying, for me to play it again. He was arguing with me: mommy, we need this. You need this.

 

So we belly breathe and we talk about it and we apply it to our daily lives.

 

The second he started talking, one of his first words after the basics was: breathe, with my baby actually putting his tiny hands on his tummy and watching his belly go in and out. Mommy proud.

 

“Breathe Mommy,” he says to me sometimes, when I get to thinking too hard about complicated things. Mommy grateful.

 

Flash forward to May 2014. Jackson is 2, I am holding him BC he is sick, his tummy hurts and he needs mama cuddles. So we are belly breathing, as we do in this house, and my sweet boy threw up real adult size + smelling vomit through my hair, deep into my sports bra, onto this brand new Kelly Rae Roberts couch I got for my wedding anniversary gift and onto the carpet. We sink to the floor together, all the while I tell him calmly:

 

That’s right, great job, you are throwing up and you are ok, yes baby, breathe, that’s right, perfect, breathe baby!

 

I get excited at this point, or ‘cited (!), as we call it around here, BC even though he is just 2 years old, he still remembered to breathe, to focus on breathing when he could, even though he was scared and felt out of control. He let it go. He breathed.

 

We high fived.

 

His Dada rushes around removing blankets and clothing that have been puked on, as we sit together and talk about how he just did an incredible job throwing up.

 

Do you feel better?

 

Yup.

 

Ok. Mommy will always take care of you baby.

 

Thank you Mommy.

 

Mommy?

 

Yeah baby?

 

{make throwing up noise} sick. Kitty sick. I sick.

 

Oh you got sick and now you are just pretending to get sick?

 

Yes, the belly breathe; it’s a practice in this household.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

belly breathe

The Net Epiphany

I had an epiphany on my drive from Las Vegas to San Diego. I was upset. Husband, Mother In Law, you name it. Too upset even for music in the car, I was driving to the rhythm of my own hurt stories repeating in a loop inside my head. Then I saw it, barely, a flicker of blurry movement in the top right hand corner of my view of the clear blue sky. What is that…but I already knew. True deja vu. I actually smiled.

 

Why are you smiling?!

 

It’s not real.

 

What’s not real?

 

Anything. That flicker in the sky, you know what it means: this is a test, this whole thing, it’s all made up for you. You see, but what will you do?

 

I will tell everyone.

 

And so it began.

 

When I arrived in San Diego, I had a lot of girl talk for my dear friend, Libby, but nothing more important than what I was about to say out loud for the first time.

 

Listen to me very closely: we are slaves. I saw it in the sky, it ‘s not a glass ceiling; it’s an illusion that changes all the time so we don’t figure it out.

 

“Like a net,” Libby knew, she didn’t ask.

 

Yes it’s a net, a trap. We are stuck in it all the time, all women. The evidence is right there in our history books but we are not allowed to draw the conclusion. Decades after black men won the right to vote, women were begrudgingly included in that same right. Women went from being property to being able to own property in our law books. Our bodies are always at risk of eminent domain with the prevalence of rape and the lack of resources. Make a baby, but don’t feed it from your breast in front of us. We are slaves. Right now. We will never emancipate if we don’t know we are slaves.

 

That night Libby and I went to see a world premier play at La Jolla Playhouse, written by the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama. Nothing could have described the net better than this play and the reaction of the people in the audience. The misogyny was palpable. The recurring theme of the heroine’s sister submitting to a decade of anal sex in an effort to preserve her virginity and religious integrity repeatedly caused the audience to group belly laugh. I thought about jumping from the top row of the risers to the floor below so that I could escape the theatre as quickly as possible.

 

Once you see, you can’t unsee. Every single day that has gone by since discovering the net on 2-16-14, it has become more evident to me. My friend Libby suffers from the same anguish the realization has caused me, but she has used her talents to spread the word to another young woman and my heart tells me soon we will all know and be able to see.

 

I’m going to write a play of my own. About the net. About female slavery. About love. I will shine my light on this darkness until the whole world sees it and then I will continue to shine my light on it until the darkness is gone forever. This blog is my first step and I am grateful to anyone who accepts the planting of this seed.

 

XO

~Rachel

Heal your Self, heal the world

epiphany