Who Am I?

Welcome to this healing blog.  This site focuses on writing; the content related to my professional healing practice has its own space.  Click here to enter that space. 

I practice as a Feldenkrais teacher, TARA Approach practitioner, and counselor who is trained in EMDR. I teach various forms of shamatha meditation as I learned them under the instruction of my teacher, Thrangu Rinpoche. In August of 2014 I began shamanic initiation and training.  Essentially, I'm an indigenous American healer, born and raised in Austin, Texas, with many healing threads that weave together into a tapestry as unique and complex as the people I help

I dance with Julie Nathanielsz and Heloise Gold, both recipients of Austin Critics' Table awards for their work.  In addition to dance, I studied Cuban, Brazilian, and Puerto Rican percussion for a number of years, and have recently come back to the study of Egyptian percussion under the tutelage of Hossam Ramzy.

My nickname/stage name for many, many years has been La Pistola. All I'm going to tell you about that is that you'd better believe it.

I hope that your visit here finds you something to laugh about, something to think about, something to dream about. 

You can subscribe to the blog through the boxes on the right. 

Peace to all, and thanks for visiting.

Whole Foods. Tattooey Stuff.

I finally left the house and went to Whole Foods to get two slices of pizza. There are only three things I think Whole Foods does well: pizza and their house made granola and house made parmesan crisps. Oh, and every now and then they have a good soup. Beyond that, though, it's pretty disappointing most of the time. That said, those three things are worth the trip, especially on days when I don't want to eat anything at all and a cracker-thin piece of fresh pizza fits the bill.

Tonight's demographic at Whole Foods was, as usual, about 95% white, with about 80% of the female population being some version of bottle blonde. The customers at Whole Foods don't interest me that much; they're pretty standard high end hipster fare, black North Face jackets, yoga physiques, skinny jeans, very Boulder. I like looking at the people who work there, who are a lot more diverse and interesting. I like the funky, the eclectic, different shapes and colors in my people. This is why I just sigh when the Man fusses about his weight. I like the way he looks. 

Tonight's cashier was a black woman, older than me with amazing dreads who said firmly, over and over, to the skinny blonde in front of me, "Miss, please move aside," when said skinny blonde stood there obstructing my moving forward because she was texting on her phone. 

Cashier finally tapped her on the arm and asked her one last time to move aside, at which skinny blonde looked very offended and surprised--and finally moved out of the way. 

I slid up to her and said, "I admire your assertiveness." 

She looked at me for a long moment and then said calmly, holding my eyes, "Some people think they're the center of the universe. You can just tell."

I laughed in spite of myself. As she gave me my change I sneaked my other hand across the register and we exchanged a low, unseen high-five. 

I also got an unexpected compliment on my makeup and hair from a really pretty Indian woman, also somewhat older than me, which made me happy because I spent much of my day trying to learn how to do a better job with my hair and makeup. I think I need help with some parts of this, and I've heard you can get that help if you walk into Sephora and ask, so I might do that this week. There are times when I feel like being a little more glam, but I've never known how to do something more svelte that wasn't specifically for the stage and therefore overly exaggerated--so I spent today watching video tutorials and practicing and trying to learn. At least to one person, a very pretty and distinguished lady of color, those efforts seem to have stood out, so cool.

Which brings me to tattoos.
Two great articles:

The Four Tattoos You Need To Stop Getting Right Now

The Laws For Lettering And Tattoos

Both are rants from tattoo artists about things they hate doing on clients. Particularly text. The lines of text thing seems like it got started with Angelina Jolie, but good tattoo artists really hate doing lots of text, for reasons the articles explain. I particularly appreciate the thought and depth of the artist's observations in the Laws for Lettering and Tattoos article, about how words limit and images are timeless. 

Incidentally, both of the blogs these articles come from are great reading. My favorite line from Angry Ink thus far: "An older guy comes in, Bluetooth in ear, doing the open-mouth tough-guy gum chew...."  

Oh, man.

The piece Chris is drafting is one I've been thinking about for more than a year. The first thing he did was X half of the idea, which was actually a relief because I wasn't sure about it anyway. He honed right in on the part of it that was the original inspiration, and is taking a few weeks to see if he can draft something that sculpts to the body while also being true to the old Chinese embroidery piece that started the wheels turning. I actually own this piece, and look at it every day, so I'm quite familiar with it. Even so I took a full year to think about it before approaching him.

It's pretty challenging, and he told me that our first session may involve mostly drafting and redrafting on the body and seeing if it even works. But he was squinting his left eye in that way he does when he's happy about an idea and liking the challenge of creating something he hasn't done before--which has pretty much been the case with every piece he has done on me, since none of my pieces were inspired by other tattoos--so I imagine he'll work his magic. I suspect strongly that one of the reasons he likes working on me so much is that I have never once showed him a photo of another tattoo and said, "I want that or something like that." Everything we've done together has been an original, starting with images from nature that I collated over months' time.

The placement is also a huge challenge due to the interweaving of the piece with his previous work. He likes those kinds of challenges, though--the kind of thing that makes his brain light up and calls upon the skills of his craft, right? What artist doesn't love that kind of assignment?

Anyway. Chris has asked me several times if I ever would consider being photographed, as professional tattoo models do. He has photos of me for his portfolio, but he's the only person who does. So far, I haven't been interested in that, though I absolutely love looking at professional photographs of tattooed people and do it all of the time (Miles Better!). I've been content to let it be a mystery and a surprise, though most people with as much work as I have seem to enjoy exhibiting it on the Internet, Instagram, what have you. For me, though, that's never been a pull. 

The process of the ink has taken years, and a lot of thought, and a pretty big spiritual journey on my part. And it's close to done, and may already be done if we can't make this idea work. The only thing I could ever see adding is either a sleeve or a thigh piece, and although I enormously like looking at those on women, I've thus far never wanted either one. Same with epaulettes and necklace and chest  and hand/wrist pieces. Love them. Love looking at them. Don't want them. Just not my style.

I think I like the secret. The mystery that you only see if you meet me at the pool, or out, or in a dance class, my habitual haunts, so to speak. It's a real life, meet me in the flesh kind of thing. Not for Instagram or Facebook. 

I can't wait to see what happens.

Ugh. Just Ugh. And The Closet.

I am not doing well with this medication at all. I was alright, sort of, at first, then things devolved into a pretty bad combination of dry heaving and read that right. Apparently this can be a side effect of a high dose steroid, especially with someone like me who never takes medications.  The doctor didn't mention either of these side effects, nor did he tell me that I was getting a superpowered dose of medication. I thought this stuff was supposed to make you hungry, but it's just making me sick and giving me a terrible bellyache. Last night was pretty rough, and my symptoms re-emerged full force at around 3 am, leading to a period of time where I was trying to decide whether to go to the ER because I was, in fact, having trouble breathing. It got pretty scary there for a long minute.

Now that I know what to expect I prepared for today, just making sure that I don't have anything to do that's involved or requires complex decision making. The doctor said he hoped two doses would get it, but he gave me five just in case. I truly hope he was right because the treatment is almost as bad as the problem. Eccchhhhh.

But, on the bright side, my closet is a lot cleaner and more organized. How happy am I that I spent Black Friday weekend giving stuff away rather than accumulating more stuff? I did buy a few things online, like shampoo, just because there were sales. But I didn't buy a bunch of polyester clothes at the mall, or feed the Walmart empire.

Overall I'm concentrating on trying to downscale and organize my life, a process that takes quite a bit of time. I created a "what-if" hanger today, which has on it three dresses that I'm either going to figure out how to wear or give away. I rediscovered several items of profoundly bad-ass 1970s vintage that had been forgotten and reinstated them into rotation. It's going to take a minute to figure out exactly how to wear the silk smoking jackets, but I have time. The big fringy hand knit poncho is an instant yes just because it's amazingly cool--I think that came from Etsy for about 20 bucks. 

Along with all that there is an acceptance thing about who I really am. I am just not "cute." All attempts at "cute" are fails. I am a Kat Von D/Burning Lotus kind of woman. (though, in both cases, I don't really care for the belly tattoos, nor do I like them on Margaret Cho--I was sad when she got them done because all her work previous to that was so amazing and I felt they just took away from the overall flow. Chris Gunn and I had an extensive discussion about this, and we agreed that this last piece on me will be, in fact, the last for exactly those reasons. There's a point where more becomes less.)

But yup. That's just the way it is. I accept it. All cute clothes are going away now. I'll keep all the slinky dresses and lace and fringy ponchos and flowy drapey things close to the body. Other stuff, bye now. Thanks for trying.

Doctor Komodo Dragon

The on-call doctor:  Hi there. Oh, wow. Yeah. I can see why you came in. How much Benadryl have you taken, again?

...Yeah. Yeah, that's obviously not working. Time for Plan B. I don't want to give you an injection because it could be more medicine than you need. I'm giving you an oral steroid and I want you to go take the first dose right away. You're pretty sleepy because of the Benadryl, aren't you? You breathing OK so far? Alright. Start this now and take it until your symptoms are gone. Call us if it seems like you are getting worse. This medication may make you moody and upset and give you insomnia. But it's what you need to do, you've already done all the other stuff. You may need to think about getting allergy tested, too.

So then I was sleepy AND wired. A lil weird. I was very careful driving around today. He wasn't kidding about the weird mind. Things are getting kinda strange in here. Plus holding an icebag to your face all day tires out your arm. 

On the other hand, I learned from this experience that I'm never going to be doing that weird thing where women inject their faces with fillers. I got a good preview of just how that would look. No thanks. We won't be going there. I'm OK with being wrinkly.

I'm going to the studio.

Between Art School And Apocalypse

While I hang out waiting for Housemate to get back and also monitoring the gradual process of turning into a Komodo dragon (that's if the Benadryl doesn't work), I am going through things and Goodwilling.

Oh man is this fun. Apparently at some point I decided that my personal style is an exact midpoint between art school, Woodstock, and the apocalypse. This is a pretty amazing journey. I am smiling at my younger self and how sheerly and unselfconsciously amazing she was sartorially. Nothing off the table, not black leather harnesses, not velvet gloves, nor feather collars, nor belly dance gear, nor embroidered jackets.

Just pretty cool. Like the song: too original.

To Listen To The Body With Kindness

Well, today is interesting. I'm in my 8th hour of managing a gigantic, outta-nowhere histamine response to who-knows-what. It first showed up as angry red patches on my face, and after a while spread to massive patches of the same on both arms and the left side of my trunk. I finally realized that it was systemic, not local, so I went to my friendly neighborhood pharmacy and am waiting for the Benadryl I got to kick in and hopefully take this thing down.

What's interesting about it is that today is the Bad Anniversary. I feel fine emotionally and actually quite well physically, but my body is sending off serious distress signals, as it has been all during the month of November, my bad month of the year. My own healing journey has taught me a lot about the importance of listening to these Strange Events in the body, the things that come up at coincidental times, particularly bad anniversaries. In the many many years I have been working with others as a Feldenkrais practitioner, I've seen hundreds of examples of injuries, illnesses, or physical problems re-emerging at bad anniversaries after long periods of resolution. It is a very familiar phenomenon when it comes to trauma, and today, it's my turn to be patient and take care of my body, understanding that, as Bessel Van Der Kolk writes, the body does indeed keep the score.

I was actually engaged in this conversation yesterday with the Man, who is in a self-directed training program for race walking, and has been frustrated with what he sees as his lack of willpower in losing   X amount of weight. My observation, based on what he's been through this year and before that, and what I see in his body, is that what he's actually struggling with is cortisol weight--not a lack of willpower or poor effort on his part. I sent him some articles about it. What with the publication of Childhood Disrupted, the new book on the relationship between childhood trauma and adult health issues, I always, now, consider trauma and chronic stress (and really, they overlap a lot don't they?) as a true medical issue. I have, at this point, seen so many people drastically improve their physical health during EMDR treatment simply by treating their unresolved trauma. I've seen people lose weight, start healing rapidly from chronic medical conditions, many many things, simply by dealing with the trauma. And I myself have had major improvements in my own health by doing the same, as well as recently revising my entire support system of supplements. 

Mostly, when this stuff comes up for me, I find it's best to listen to my body; to try to see what it needs, and how I'm feeling emotionally, and see if I'm taking good care of whatever is coming up. I think I waited too long today to get the Benadryl, though to be fair to myself, I didn't realize how bad the situation was for some hours. What's eerie is that this neglect mirrors the behavior of my parents when this would happen to me as a child--they would wait until I was swollen beyond recognition, almost unable to breathe, before taking me into the clinic, even though they had health insurance. 

I didn't do that to myself today, but I did note that I took way too long to take care of myself, and how this is a repetition of what happened to me over and over as a child. And I resolved to do better if it happens again, starting with making sure I actually have medication on hand so that I can jump the issue the minute it starts. Histamine responses get worse as they go on for hours and hours, and I regret not having gotten the needed help earlier, but I'm on it now.

It's the body having its own sort of PTSD--a somatic "attack" of something. It happens. It's a familiar thing to trauma survivors. So the healing is to listen. To be kind. To do what's needed. To recognize that the body never forgets, to appreciate its wisdom and care for its vulnerability.

No Reverse Parachute Jump

Huh. The holidays. I didn't think it was gonna happen this year, but sure enough it did--I got a voicemail from someone who bailed on their friendship with me 2 1/2 years ago, right in the middle of one of the worst times of my life in the last 10 years. The person just disappeared right off the map after something like 8 years of knowing each other, and didn't respond to the four or five phone calls and messages I left over the last 2.5 years asking what happened.

And then, two days ago, a voicemail. I miss you, let's reconnect!

I had to sit with that one for a couple of days to see what I wanted to do about it. Finally I left a return voicemail this morning that said, Nice to hear from you. Surprised to hear from you. Seems to me like you parachute jumped right out of our connection and I grieved it and moved on a long time ago. Sure, if you wanna grab coffee sometime, that's fine, I'm pretty busy but just let me know.

I'm kinda proud of how I handled it. I mean, I had to get over the whole thing completely on my own, since the person in question never provided any kind of explanation or closure about why they bailed. And I truly am over it. I don't need an explanation about what happened, because I seriously don't give a fuck anymore. I know what I need to know about that person because of their choices. I'll never trust them again. 

It is what it is, and it's alright.

The thing is, there isn't a reverse parachute jump back into La Pistola's airplane. There isn't a process by which everything folds up and antigravity sucks you right back into the cockpit and we are all good again, buddies, like nothing happened. That's not how this works. I give people plenty of chances, and I said in all my messages, if something happened and you don't want to know me any more, that's fine, I'd just appreciate you TELLING me that. Of course, after four or five times of doing that, I stopped calling or leaving messages, because really, why bother. It was time to grieve it and just move on. 

Which I did, and my life is fine; I no longer miss this friend, who I really used to respect and hold in dear esteem. It hurt for a long time, but that passed, too. Now I just find it sort of bemusing and sad to get contacted like this. It's never about benefiting me; it's always about them, their bad choices, their guilt, whatever it is. Someone who really cared about me would not have bailed in such a fashion. I'd never do that to someone. Just not a fit as a friendship.

I do kinda wonder, what are people thinking when they do this? Call you up after parachuting out of your life? Seems to happen at this time of year. Pretty lame. A lotta clients going through this too. It's like everyone who's ever been a dick to you thinks the holidays are their free pass to come back through to see if you're available for a Round Two. 

Not so much. 
Of course this person wants to reconnect with me. Because I am cool. This person? Not so cool.
The parachute jump goes in one direction, folks.
Stay safe out there!


Man. It's Wednesday before Turkey Day. I worked 14 hours yesterday. It's the hip-deep Holiday PTSD Groove. I got this. I am so glad to get two days off tomorrow and Friday and equally glad to be in the trenches for the folks who need me right now. It's alright.

The Man is taking me to a football game tomorrow. I've never been to one. Everyone who knows me is laughing at me about this, including my clients who asked me what I'm doing on Turkey Day. One of them, in particular, couldn't stop laughing about it. He said, "What are YOU going to wear to the game?"

"The same trashy Gothic outfits I wear all the time, what else?" I retorted, and he guffawed all the way out the door. What, is there some kind of special Football Outfit or something? There probably is. But it's not like I would know what that is. 

More to the point, is this issue something I'm even going to concern myself with when working 14 hour days?

It is not. It's black, it's fitted, it might have a fur thing over it, it's all I need, that and French perfume. 

I'm a multiculturalist and therefore open to all kinds of experiences. 

As far as I'm concerned, the closest I ever got to a football outfit is listening to that Amy Winehouse song. Yup. I'm an innocent. I get a pass. I decided.

She's Not Dead, Oh No She Isn't

Been more than a week since writing on the blog. I still don't feel like writing on the blog, to tell you the truth. Taking a break from all social media stuff has been GREAT. Life is a lot more interesting when you're not tied to a computer screen.

That said, I figured I should put up a note so that everyone knows your friendly neighborhood healer is not dead or out of commission; just taking a break to work on writing and art making that is more focused, more developed.

All is good. Things are moving; big undercurrents sweeping along, deeply felt if not necessarily seen. I feel deeply well, quiet, and rather exceptionally happy after a stretch of days in South Texas, in communion with Big Nature and running into the unexpected again and again and again. There was a radical perspective shift during that time that is going to take some time to process. Suffice it to say that some very deep truths, about my inner core, about the world, revealed themselves in a rather shocking way, and I'm not sure my life is ever going to be the same again.

So there's a sitting with that; a deep silence, waiting patiently for the words about that to come, whenever they will.  Such a thing can't be rushed or forced, nor should it be glossed over or diminished by superficial attempts. An artist has to know when to be still, when to do nothing at all in order to wait for the right thing, the right moment.

That's what I'm doing. All the way. Being patient. Being still. Deeply appreciating this life I'm in, just as it is.


Happy Turkey Week, for those of you who do that thing.

The Mother. The Change. Over And Out.

I wiped many tears today in the office. Consoling, holding young people in the place of love. There is this deep well of loneliness that arises at this season, wounds around love, around acceptance, that come with these things of family and holiday. 

So much. Just so much. 

Sometimes women say to me, "You don't know what it's like, you didn't have children, you're not a mother."

Do I not? 

I think to myself, I wonder to myself, could they do what I do every day? Could they show up every day for these young people, people not their own children, these young people who don't have parents; because the parents are drunk or high, because they're out chasing men or women, because they're doing pills, or shopping, or in jail, or simply not returning phone calls? Or because they're dead, or were killed, or simply don't care?

I wonder that. 

But I say nothing. Some kinds of injustice, some kinds of unfairness, are best left unresponded to. So I say, "I'm sure you're right."

I don't need to tell my story to those who are so smugly sure that I must not know. It's not important. It's not important that I have a label, either. What matters is that I be there: tissues in hand, comforting hugs, a keen eye to look into a situation and see what will help, formulate a plan, support, believe in, and most of all, love. Love love love.

A deep shift is happening. My body is healed; I know it. Gaining strength every day at a rapid rate. The earth is coming up to meet me, and something new and sweet is spiraling out of that: a new tenderness, softness, gentleness. Last year, I was told by a shaman that this presence is otter woman. That she belongs to me, and that she's coming. 

I understood, this morning, that I have mastered flying through the air and seeing. This will never leave me; it's integrated and done. Now it's time for the second half: the sweet, tender, playful gentleness of the world, the mystery and surprise of it all. I'm done being warrior; she's here, any time I need her. It's time to disappear into the river and explore something new.

Pausing the blog for a while; it's time to let beautiful things grow into this delicious space.
Over and out for now.