CHANGING WOMAN INITIATIVE BUILDING AN INDIGENOUS BIRTH CENTER IN NEW MEXICO ~ Written for NewMexicoWomen.Org

Read Full Article Here

When NewMexicoWomen.org conducted our community-based research on the needs of women and girls in New Mexico, we came to the conclusion that gender justice and healing are essential to the well-being of women and girls in our state. In brief, we define gender justice as freedom from patriarchy and misogyny, and healing as a return to health from an unbalanced or unhealthy state. Nicolle Gonzales, Founder and Executive Director of Changing Woman Initiativeexemplifies for us what gender justice and healing look and feel like together in action.

Nicolle Gonzales is a Navajo woman, mother, wife and Nurse Midwife in Northern New Mexico. For years she has had the dream of creating a Native American Women’s Health Collective and Birthing Center for indigenous women’s wellness and birthing care in our state. With this dream at the center, she founded Changing Woman Initiative which, seeks to draw on cultural strengths to renew indigenous birth knowledge and healing through holistic approaches and community empowerment. It is focused on developing a culturally centered reproductive wellness and birth center.”  READ REST OF ARTICLE AT NEWMEXICOWOMEN.ORG

 

WOMEN LEAD WITH LOVING RESISTANCE AGAINST BORDER VIOLENCE AND MILITARIZATION IN SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO

Written for NewMexicoWomen.Org June 2018 - Read Full Article Here.

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“As I stare off into the crowd the majority of people are women: young, old, middle-aged, white, brown, transgender…” observed Johana Bencomo referring to her experience of leading over 400 border citizens to the wall in an act of loving and fierce resistance on June 2nd.  She remarked that women understand, “how much we have to lose and what’s at stake.”

NewMexicoWomen.Org’s qualitative research in 2017 underscored that immigration is a social determinant of health for women and girls in our state. Discrimination based on immigrant status and language barriers, lead to huge workplace disparities, uncertain living conditions, paternalism, lack of access to healthcare, and a vulnerability to gender-based violence heightened by fear of reaching out to local authorities. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented immigrants crossing the border has resulted in over 2,000 children being separated from their families in the last few months, most of whom are seeking asylum in the United States. NMW.O’s research with our Southern New Mexico community partners told a story of discrimination and trauma endured by our border communities. If we want to advance the movement for gender justice, we must commit ourselves to building a society that does not criminalize people for seeking a safer, better life.

Our Southern New Mexico partners, like Comunidades en Acción y de Fé are leading the way in their commitment to border rights and gender justice by building local power and reclaiming the narratives told about their communities.  We are honored to know the women that lead this work.  Here is a story of the loving resistance led by Johana Bencomo and Cynthia Pompa, community partners from Southern New Mexico.

For over a year, four key organizations, including the Southwest Environmental CenterNew Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé, the ACLU for Border Rights and Immigration, and the NM Wildlife Federation have been working together to create a comprehensive narrative that reflects the reality of border communities from people to place. These organizations have brought expertise in community organizing, civil rights, and environmental sciences to the fight against advancing border militarization under Trump’s administration.  On June 2nd they gathered in partnership with others including the Sierra Club and Detained Migrant Solidarity Community to take a stand, in Johana’s words, for “Our People, Our Land, Our Wildlife.”  The action began in Santa Teresa, directly in front of a border wall built by the previous administration, and ended where new and more abrasive border walls are currently being constructed.

Read Full Article Here.

An Intuitive's Take On Love (published by CUSHY, Feb. 14, 2018)

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unsplash-logoEverton Vila

An Intuitive's Take On Love

So here it goes. This may be the most vulnerable share I’ve ever done;  and this is coming from someone who has written publicly about suicide, emotional, physical and sexual trauma.  Ready for it?  A completely cliche and predictable article from a single woman nearing 30.

Yup, this article is about love.

With a twist.

I want to talk about my experience with love as an intuitive.

A little more on myself as an intuitive: I am both clairvoyant and claircognizant - as far as I know.  I see things often - current, past, probable; and I often just have “knowings”.  A thought will come into my head, that is information about someone I couldn’t otherwise have known, and it is almost always true.  I used to think I was just a good listener, until one day I was sitting with a friend and I saw her say something - sharing confidential information about someone I’d never met.  When I referred to it later, she promised me she never said it out loud.  In fact it was proprietary information and she wouldn’t even have shared the person’s name with me.  This is an example of the way that I may receive involuntary information about people, places or situations.  Your secrets may not be safe with me! Lol.

A little more more context:  I really believed that men were superior to women until I got to college and became aware of the internalized sexism that stems from particular influences in my childhood that I won’t go into here. Men, in general, are a point of growth for me, in terms of being able to show up in my body and my personality without censoring myself, completely shutting down, or defaulting to an assumption that they are smarter, cooler, funnier and more accomplished than myself.  I want to distinguish this from simplified “self-esteem” challenges; this is about more than self-esteem.  I am a wonderfully accomplished and caring person with a lot of love in her life.  I recognize this about myself and I truly believe I have great gifts to offer the world. My apprehension with men is rooted in internalized sexism.

Now, to love:

For as long as I can remember, I have had powerful associations with men that I am attracted to.  That sounds ridiculous at first, because so has everyone else!  What I mean to say is that I will have dreams depicting past lives with some of the men that I find attractive, or simply have clear knowings about some kind of - what I’ll refer to here as - “Soul” connection.  Recently, I even had premonitions of a man that came into my life  -  weeks ahead of time.

To clarify, I am not attracted to many men.  I’m actually incredibly selective, to the point that even my nearest and dearest call me a prude.  This is partly because I’m not superficially oriented.  When I feel things, I feel them as true or not/authentic or not, and I believe it has a lot to do with my spiritual “gifts”. I usually need to engage first from an authentic space in order to enjoy connection through shared humor, etc. For example, I’m not one for small talk, never have been. It makes me uncomfortable to the bone; it’s not that I don’t enjoy witty banter and clever exchanges, laughter and lightheartedness, it’s because in-authenticity physically repulses me.

Lots of men are attractive, amazing people with a lot to offer, but I only find myself pulled toward a very select few - and I mean like, in my whole life.  These tend to be people I have some psychic connection to.

My first love in high school was one of these men.  We were together for five years.  He is a wonderful, smart, and caring person.  However, I was incredibly insecure when we came together and projected so much of my sense of “safety” and “enoughness” on him that it became toxic.  Also, I was clear that we had shared past lives together, so I believed he was my “Soul Mate”.  Wow, if only I could educate teenage girls on the concept of soul mate and how inappropriately it’s used, creating broken hearts the world over.  Here’s the thing - he was a soul mate, not the soul mate.  We have so many!  Most of my greatest girlfriends are my soul mates.

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However, at the time that we split up it was extra devastating for me because I was under the impression that we only had one soul mate - and I was certain that he was it.  This naivety compiled with the task of facing the profound insecurities I projected on our relationship, led me deep into suicidal depression, culminating in an attempt on my life about six months after our separation.  This has been, thus far, one of the most serious experiences influenced by an ignorant relationship to my own intuition.

Since then, I have met a handful of men that I am certain I have shared other lives with. I’m not talking about wishful thinking, either. I remember sharing with a dear guy friend of mine how hard it was to be in company with another man who I had all of these intense emotions around, because of past life memories I saw. This friend was always talking about his own intuition and reincarnation, etc, but was incredibly quick to shut me down and assure me that I was just making my “feelings” up because I had a crush on our mutual friend.  I felt ashamed about this for months.  I don’t think my friend has any notion of how harmful his response was, because I trusted him to not judge me.  However, it completely changed the “safety” in our relationship.  Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly possible to emphasize and create hype around these intuitions in order to indulge our desires that may not be meant for us.  If I’m not mindful, I can confuse my psychic insight with hope.

I am still learning to decipher between information I receive and my imagination.  Regardless, there are many “intuitives” walking around in the world privy to more information than this lifetime could actually present to us.  It makes it very challenging to discern what information is meaningful and what isn’t; and what action, if any, needs to be taken.  Perhaps my proclivity toward “everything happens for a reason” makes that discernment extra difficult. I am slowly learning, though, that just because we’ve shared lives with people before does not mean we need to engage with them here and now. Additionally, if we are meant to learn from them in this life, it may not be specifically through a romantic exchange.

One of the reasons I felt compelled to write this article is that I think our intuitive experiences are greatly minimized when they deserve to be taken very seriously.

When you have premonitions of someone and they actually show up in your life, it is VERY hard to let them go. It is VERY easy to project some large significance on them, because, um, you had premonitions about them. I’m not really sure how else to say it! It feels like that person just said “fuck you” to fate.
— Carli Romero
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Ultimately, I’m learning that regardless of our akashic records (soul histories), these lives are our own.  I can’t expect anyone to move in this life according to their movement in one particular past. In fact it wouldn’t be of service if they did, and I would feel imprisoned by my past knowledge of myself if I had that expectation. The best resolution I am finding is the same thing that helps with non-attachment in general - mindfulness.  It all comes down to “being able to quietly sit in a room with oneself”, in addition to my new favorite, learning that if you “argue with reality you're bound to lose”. The more I meditate, the more I accept.  It sounds over simplified, but it’s not. When we over-complicate we suffer. That is one of my biggest teachings from life and men, right now.

I feel that my various encounters with these men have taught me different lessons about myself and are primarily teaching me the life-long keynotes of self-love and self-worth.  Regardless of past life experiences and how they fold into this one, we are Sovereign, Whole and Soulful beings, inherently connected to all that is divine.  My most recent exchange with “premonition guy” ended up lasting way beyond that first encounter, with a couple additional episodes of us trying to make it work.  In his case, I practiced for the first time ever remaining open-hearted and choosing expansion over contraction in the midst of heartache.  Although I am still regrouping from this relationship, I am SO grateful to myself for embracing open-heartedness and re-patterning my response to, well, failure.  I have listened to friends tear this person up out of their protective love for me, and have managed to pause them and remind them that a person’s choice to act of out their own needs, even when it feels painful for others, does not make them a villain.  I would rather not be in a committed relationship with someone who is terrified of commitment, or feels unable to meet me with the connection I deeply desire.  Although it hurt like hell, he did me a favor by being aware of what he could and couldn’t offer.  His willingness to teach me these pieces, is affirmation that he is a soul mate of mine.

My opportunity is to steep a little more deeply in my own soul and bring all the things into my life that I hoped to receive from him (or any man) in small ways.  If I am desiring to hear how lovely I am from someone else, I look into the mirror and tell it to myself.  If I want to feel sexy, I can buy lingerie - partnered or not.  If I want to have a romantic dinner, I can easily share a beautiful meal with a good friend.  I can’t expect to receive something from someone else that I’m not willing to give to myself.  So I’m opening to receive goodness in all the ways it is available. All my “failures”, or falling forward in love, have been necessary for me to arrive to true receptivity.

BOUNDARIES TO BENEVOLENCE: HARMS OF AGEISM AMIDST THE GRACES OF MENTORSHIP. (published by Rebelle Society, Jan. 11)

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BOUNDARIES TO BENEVOLENCE: HARMS OF AGEISM AMIDST THE GRACES OF MENTORSHIP.

This is for healing those who know betrayal by the healers.

Before the new year, as I drove from Las Cruces to Albuquerque, enjoying the long indigo and violet streaks of a slightly clouded New Mexico sky shaded by the winter solstice sunset, a fire began to burn in my belly.

Suddenly my deep ease and gratitude were disrupted by rage. The drive was so beautiful. It’s a wonder I could feel anything but wonder. Yet, here I was, feeling severely sick with resentment toward elder healerswho had hurt me. All the things I worked so hard to heal in 2017 were re-emerging with a newfound anger as 2018 approached, interrupting my perception that I had made peace with certain pains of my past.

Holy shit, I wanted justice.

But I know that:

  • justice doesn’t always come, especially from the delusional,
  • often the getting of justice creates more pain than simple forgiveness, and
  • righteousness and justice are different, and often difficult to distinguish, especially in the presence of said boiling gut.

“Love and let go. Just love and let go. You can do this. You will regret directing your energy toward this,”  I repeated to myself, half-heartedly, and with a total lack of faith in my capacity to forgive, as I made the last leg of my trip.

“But where do I set a boundary? Am I saying yes to bullying if I let this fly? Am I the perpetual doormat who never could? What story are ‘they’ (the perpetrators in this situation) going to spin about me if I respond the way my gut wants to, like Khaleesi and her largest dragon scaring the shit and arrogance out of a lying and manipulative upper class? Or just sending mal ojo with my third eye?

Perhaps a crow with a flying ‘fuck you’ will do?”

So of course I call on my trusted advisors, “What do I do? Am I overreacting?” I get very honest answers, and all different, but I know that contacting these people with a desire for punishment isn’t going to make me feel any better at the end of the day. I will feel righteous for a few minutes, and still have to deal with the pain of the whole experience afterward.

Okay, so how do I set a boundary and move forward with love? How can I actually move toward justice on a level that really matters?

And this felt like the answer. A simple voicing of the harm perpetuated by ageism (among all the other isms).

I have been in the healing field for about a decade now. I have worked on my own trauma, and with others psychologically, spiritually, energetically, somatically and politically. I have belonged to a pretty tight community dedicated to feminine work in the world.

The feminine is beautiful, soulful, concentric, intentional, nurturing, elemental and fierce. It is an aspect of our life force that, as a society, the West is just now beginning to explore and understand after years of intentional separation from this mysterious part of our nature. And, like all things, it can be misused, misaligned, misrepresented and abusive.

Unfortunately, because I was so dedicated to leading a feminine life, I devoutly concurred with any feedback I received about how unfeminine I was, and experienced years of what I now recognize as bullying in this field.

I don’t need to relive all that occurred here. It won’t help me or you, but I have a young blood request for all the elders who refer to themselves as healers, leaders, activists, priestesses and feminists:

  1. If somebody comes to you with open wounds they aren’t even aware of, don’t fucking scratch at them. Gently apply awareness, offer a love balm with encouragement, and give them time to heal. Waiting a day and ripping the Band-Aid off a third-degree psychological burn does not equate with time to heal.
  2. Telling your apprentices/students/young leaders that their experiences aren’t meaningful, just because they don’t have breakthroughs, has nothing to do with them. That’s all about you and your need to feel impactful. People process in their own time. Compassion is one of the best and most underrated catalysts for transformation.
  3. Just because you are older does not mean you’ve seen it all or been there. This should be obvious if you perceive the world and the world perceives you with a different orientation to color, economy, gender, history and location, but it’s not obvious. So just try to remember that you haven’t ever seen exactly what another does, and your age doesn’t exclude you from a personalized perspective.
  4. If you think your modality of healing or activism is the best one, it’s great that you found a fit. I experience almost as much dogma in healing workshops as I do in political offices. Conviction about a method can stand without a dedication to protocol that forbids creative intuitives like me and others from integrating the many bodies of wisdom they are familiar with and integrating their knowledge in practice. Many healers, who are tied to protocol and dogma, end up pushing talent out of this field by making younger individuals wrong for what they naturally know. Yes, so much of our wisdom comes as a result of the work done by our elders. Yes, we must respect and honor bodies of wisdom that have been developed before our time. No, it doesn’t give you a right to shut our capacity down. Everything is interconnected. All modalities can have value and interplay beautifully. Each modality in the world was created or channeled by another human, so what makes our younginnovation so threatening? Lift us up, please. I hear so many elders complain about where the young people are. We’re here, feeling like we’d rather not deal with ageist bullshit.
  5. You can’t talk the equity talk while walking the trickle-down walk.
  6. If you have a title, but claim none of its responsibility, that’s f’ed. Any declarations of “I’m teaching you accountability by stepping out of a contributing role” are ridiculous. If you are an ED or COO or CEO, you are responsible for fulfilling financial contracts with staff. Staff staff. They’re doing all the work. They deserve to be supported. If you can’t ensure that, don’t endorse contracts with real live people who need real-life shelter and real-life food.
  7. If you spout bell hooks, take a cue from her material, and participate. She was all about vulnerability meeting vulnerability. Therein lies the deconstruction of power over dynamics. You can’t lead in anall-knowing kind of way while quoting bell hooks.
  8. Finally, give people credit for their work. Taking it for yourself, or distributing it to others you are more fond of, is just lame.

So these are my boundaries, on behalf of wounded youngins everywhere. Now to the benevolence:

  1. Without the wisdom, compassion and humility of my dear abuela and her healing presence, I would never know the mystery and magic of this world. I am so grateful to my lineage of elders.  May they feel the love and joy of all we receive from them.
  2. An older mentor was the first to say to me, “Your sensitivity is a gift.” I can never thank this woman enough for transmuting my biggest weakness into a strength with a simple sentence. She opened a doorway to self-acceptance and a world of intuition that has made this world worth staying in for me.
  3. My first organizing jefe, a young, courageous and visionary woman, saw my Spirit and gave me the skills to teach and build community, and only ever made me feel capable, effective and meaningful. May she feel the impact of her generosity and commitment to her community. She has lifted hundreds of young women into their gifts.
  4. I know that a lot of my wounding by women was unconsciously carried out. May we all have ease and grace as we reveal and forgive the harmful parts of ourselves.
  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the way-makers, healers and wisdom-keepers who profoundly empower younger generation’s lives, skills and purposes in the world. May you see your visions realized.
  6. To those whom I still work to forgive, thank you for willing to be in confrontation and discomfort. Thank you for being the agents of teaching me healthy boundaries, and for demanding that I claim my worth instead of defaulting to you to declare it. May you feel the relief and lightheartedness of a shared burden.
  7. To the incredible number of older women who have comforted me, encouraged me, held me in my tears, loved me when I couldn’t love myself, there are no words. May you be forever embraced by the love you wrap around others.
  8. To the hearts of those who have always been in service, may you receive all the thanks, the validation and applause, the generosity and compassion and the space that you have held for others. Your efforts often seem thankless, but they are marked in the book of the Soul, and in the imprint of goodness they have permanently made on our world. I hope you are filled to the brim with the bounty of divinity you bring to light.

May I lean hard into these latter graces this 2018 year, hold healthy boundaries, and send out, in sincere waves, loads of benevolence. Compassion, as I said earlier, after all, is the most underrated catalyst for transformation.

Ode to Alcoholic Egos and Unbridled Souls ~ Published by Rebelle Society, Spring 2017

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Maybe I am a spoiled brat, maybe I don’t know your pain, maybe I haven’t lived your many years, maybe I’ve never had children, never been married, never been the most or least anything.

Maybe I’m 28 and can’t even afford to care for my dog, maybe I suck at disciplining him too, maybe I’ve been gone for 10 years, and so I don’t know shit. And, so the fuck what?

You choose to be an asshole, you choose to waste your hard-earned money and God-given organs in an alcoholic blur, you choose to compare your story to everyone else’s, burning the brightest fire for victimhood there is, you choose to dismiss anyone else’s experience. You call yourself an empath, but you feel what others feel while denying them their own sensitivities.

You choose to say real shit only when your real shitfaced, with a meanness all your own, and your seething judgment sliding out sideways. You can choose to hold it against me all your life, but I choose something other than your bullshit on sloshed repeat for the rest of my days, because nothing I do will ever change how you feel. So, fuck it. I’ll do me. You keep choosing.

Drown in your resentment, if you choose. Blind yourself with comparisons, if you choose. Fall under that cross, if you choose. Play your bullshit on repeat, if you choose. Or don’t.

I will love you either way, but I probably won’t like you. Or choose to be around you, or drive your drunk ass home, or shrivel up with shame at your slithering cuts, or stand in your misery’s wake and feel my insides whither to worthlessness… anymore.

You are right, I have chosen to be a victim in the past. I have worn the mask of desperation for a long fucking time. Thank god, it has been my choice. That means, this whole time I’ve had an option. Freedom isn’t a choice. Freedom just is. Our experience is the choice we make inside of freedom’s paradigm. It is the choice to own our freedom or be a victim to it.

I hope you surprise me. I hope your choices become stunningly unpredictable. I hope they reverberate with your soul’s call to be the loudest part of you. I hope you learn your worth, and stop diminishing everyone else’s. I hope you can forgive life’s transgressions on your joy and claim your inherent No-one-gets-to-take-that-away-from-me radiant life force.

I hope you feed the other wolf — the one that is light, brilliant, filled with possibility, loving, compassionate, intentional, creative, regenerative, curious and whole.

I hope you consider your options. I hope you consider that you are free to choose how you show up. I promise to consider mine. To practice what I preach. To lead with the soul, to be in my body, and to tell my truth from sobriety, even if I’m writhing with discomfort at the vulnerability and risk of it all.

I would love to hear your truth from sobriety. It would be like miraculous rain in a lifelong drought. Not your complaints, not your judgments, but your truth. I have claimed all of the things that your drunken alter ego would tell me. They won’t hurt me anymore. I’m integrating my shadow. I pray you integrate yours, so I can know you and not it.

Either way, from now one, I will see your choices, I will honor them as such, and I will feel free to make my own, with or without your punishment.

I love you, but I can’t love you for you. I will, however, start to love myself the way no one else can, as unwelcome and selfish as it might be, because I am worth it. I hope you decide that you are worth your own love too.

Published here by Rebelle Society, April 27, 2017