As a young child I wrenched myself free again and again from the limitations ground into my soil, mi tierra. I still admire the bits of grass and weeds that slowly, inexorably, finding the cracks in the cement and asphalt. Bravo, I shout. They are a sign of my continual commitment to breathe, to believe in my power, in the power of my disorderly, unrelenting resistance to the “mitote” of this culture, which Miguel Ruiz defines as the chaos planted in our mind.
The excerpt on the back of my writing notebook in 2002 spoke of the fear of being powerful beyond measure. I didn’t resonate with that. My growing confidence exuded being powerful and then getting the shaft. Instead of labeled the weakest link, I received the “You are the strongest voice of opposition to the status quo.” Good-bye.
I speak easily about my job employment history — of being suspended, demoted, and fired from different jobs where equity was supposed to be a value. It was not my inadequacy that brought about these responses from the decision makers. It was my unabashed sense of entitlement, coupled with my denial that on the unlevel playing field, I would lose – be it because of race, gender, function level or a combination of all three. While I have been despairing of past employers and clients’ unwillingness to listen to and value my wisdom, I appreciate those in each organization I have left who have seen and heard me, who have appreciated my presence and continued our connection.
My response can easily tilt toward believing I don’t have a fighting chance in the dominant U.S. culture. That I will always be in a one down position, subject to the fears of others’ biases. This opinion continually attempts to graft itself to my soul, like an indubitable fact. The impact of feeling empowered and also one down is that I know I will experience discounts and I also let it bother me less and less. Failures come and go like the wind when I create space to quickly grieve and let go.
This allows me to avoid the pit of despair my mother splashed in after my father’s death, enveloped in heartache and unable to absorb the joy and love of her children or grandchildren. I have, over the years, explored my mother’s path to learn the lessons she could not. Even as I unearth the meaning of her suffering, I also unearth the fuller picture of my path – the one where I use my power in exciting and joyful ways. I have been gainfully self-employed since my last job ended more than twenty-five years ago and have the positive regard of my colleagues, friends, and familia. People abound in my life who believe in me, hire me to work with them, trust in my abilities, and see me as a powerful being. My example fuels their own journeys of power as we toss energy back and forth, challenging each other with different perspectives.
My twins are delving into their power while also feeling ambivalent about me expressing my appreciation of their wonderfulness. They note my inner confidence to say ‘I don’t know’, to refuse to be an English only familia, to apologize when my power comes out like a hammer when a feather would have sufficed.
I remember flying over Los Angeles during the day, seeing for the first time the earth smothered in concrete and smog – truly horrified at what civilization had wrought. I picture myself as the earth who cannot breathe. Claiming the power of the weed requires turning the chaos into art, love, and new dreams full of choices.
My power emanates from my writing, my creativity, my sexuality, my spiritual practice, and my cultural journey. The integration of all these aspects multiplies the sparkle in each. They were all submerged, distorted, or shamed into submission as I grew, sprayed with pesticides, stepped on, yanked up by their roots, tossed into the garbage, plowed under, cemented over. They have triumphed. #52essays2017