When measured by the word-count for my third book in progress, Year 2022 was not a productive one. All my efforts to refocus and get back on track produced only a rewrite of the Introduction and Chapter One. Two major events early in the year derailed my efforts: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and my reading of Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos (UK & USA 2021), edited by Jem Bendell and Rupert Read.
What is wrong with the Men in Power of our world!? How can we waste human energy and taxpayers’ money on war games when humanity is faced with an unraveling climate and ecological crisis? More than ever, our society needs more women in top decision-making positions worldwide. After all, we are the ones who suffer the most when calamity strikes our communities.
My Poetry Corner December 2022 features the song “The Christmas Song” (A Canção de Natal) by Prisma Brasil, the opening song on their 2017 CD album of the same name. Prisma Brasil is a Brazilian Christian musical group dedicated to spreading the love of God through song.
With headquarters in Hortolândia, São Paulo, the group was founded in 1980 by the pianist Eli Prates as the Young Choir of the Adventist University Center of São Paulo (UNASP) of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Comprised of students, employees, and professors of UNASP, the group retains its youthful base as graduating members are replaced by incoming students.
Glory to God in the highest Echoes at night in Bethlehem Angels from heaven announce: The Redeemer was born Celebrate! Hallelujah! The Messiah has come
To the world hope has been given Reaching every tribe and nation For all the weary and afflicted He became flesh and offers peace This is the hour, glorious hour The Messiah has come! The messiah has come! This is the Christmas song
Glory to God in the highest Sung for generations We no longer fear the darkness For Christ is with us Celebrate! Hallelujah! Jesus saved us
Glory! Glory! Glory! Let the people sing: Glory! Glory! Glory! Let the earth sing: Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory!
I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Christmas filled with peace and joy!
To read the complete featured “The Christmas Song” in English and its original Portuguese, and to learn more about Prisma Brasil, go to my Poetry Corner December 2022.
In August, I shared my challenge of “Creating a drought-resistant garden in The City of Angels.” By October, I completed the painful task of uprooting the plants struggling to adapt to our extreme heat and drought. I’m happy to report that most of the plants have adjusted well to once-a-week watering, a fifty percent reduction.
Not surprisingly, the Aeonium Mint succulent plants suffered the most. I uprooted three plants in areas where they faced over four hours of intense afternoon sunlight. What a difference from their cousin, shown on the right, that receives only a few hours of direct sun in the morning!
The expansive, five-foot-tall Pencil or Firestick plants have all partially collapsed. After cutting off the collapsed branches and trimming the fleshy stems, I fortified the remaining branches with wooden sticks, as shown in the photo below. The Firestick is my favorite succulent plant for adding height and color—red, orange, yellow, and green—to a succulent garden with few seasonal flowering plants.
The ten-year-old, three-foot-tall jade plant, rooted in the ground, is also not happy with water rationing. On Thanksgiving Day, another branch collapsed. I sliced off the branch and did a general pruning to reduce the weight on the remaining branches. To prevent another collapse, I secured all the branches together with green ribbon, as pictured below. I’m considering the painful choice of cutting down the plant; I will wait and see if it recovers with less evaporation over the winter months.
The potted jade is doing very well. I marvel at the way plants adapt to the confining space. As shown in the photo to the right, the leaves with orange edges are much smaller than its all-green, earth-rooted relative.
I reserve the gray water I save after domestic use for my son’s three potted fruit trees—guava, lime, and orange—as well as my vegetable plants. The infrequent visits of Mother Nature’s pollinators have been the greatest constraint for our dwarfed fruit trees. After several years of watching their blossoms fall from the stems, I was surprised this year to see the appearance of two oranges, five guavas, and several limes. The lime tree has shed most of its leaves following the drop in temperatures.
The Christmas Cactus is now in full bloom, adding color to my garden plot. But it’s the Camellia trees—now laden with buds and early flowers of pink, red and white—and an Indian Hawthorn shrub that steal the show at this time of the year. (All photos were taken on December 8.)
NOTE: The captioned photo is a section of our largest garden plot, located across from my apartment.
Jem Bendell uses the word “autonomy” in e-s-c-A-p-e ideology to describe the idea among the modern dominant culture that each of us is the separate autonomous origin of our awareness, values and decisions, and that it is good to become more autonomous (Bendell, p. 133). He asserts that this assumption is false. Instead, our ability to conceptualize, communicate, and perceive stimuli are built on social constructs and conditioning of our culture and upbringing. Even our free will is socially conditioned. We also cannot ignore the influence of human physiology in defining our nature of being.
I am one of those individuals who believe that I have the right to personal autonomy or self-determination, as I prefer to call it. Over the years, I have discovered that achieving self-determination has its limitations based not only on where one lives on this planet, but also on one’s gender, religion, race, income, and social status.
Earlier this year, millions of American women of childbearing age have lost their right to decide when to start a family, the spacing and size of their family, or not to have children at all. More recently in September, Iranian women took to the streets to protest morality police enforcement of hijab rules that endanger the lives of women who dare to expose their hair in public spaces.
Autonomy based on developing one’s own individual self is a more complex concept that I have yet to fully grasp. This emphasis on individualism goes against my own view of our interdependence as a species within the web of life and dependence upon the contributions of others within society. On the other hand, I have learned from living within three distinct cultures—Guyanese (British Caribbean), Brazilian, and American—that social constructs and conditioning of our culture and upbringing do, indeed, influence our self-awareness and vision of the world.
My Poetry Corner November 2022 features the poem “The Abortionist’s Daughter Declares Her Love” from the poetry collection Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting by Shivanee Ramlochan, published by Peepal Tree Press (UK, 2017). Born in the twin-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet, arts reporter and book blogger. She is the Book Reviews Editor for Caribbean Beat Magazine, writes about books for the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Anglophone Caribbean’s largest literary festival, as well as Paper Based Bookshop, Trinidad and Tobago’s oldest independent Caribbean specialty bookseller. She is also the deputy editor of The Caribbean Review of Books.
Ramlochan grew up in an Indo-Caribbean family with a Roman Catholic mother and Hindu father. As a girl, she was more drawn to Hinduism than Christianity. As she came of age, she never fully found a home in either or any other faith. In an interview with Alice Hiller in January 2019, she related that her large, extended family regard her as “heretical, unorthodox, deeply disturbing, and irreligious.” As a self-declared “queer woman of color,” she added that they are puzzled about where she got “this whole gay thing from” and wonder if she would ever get married. Although the High Court overturned the law criminalizing homosexuality in September 2018, after the publication of Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, same-sex marriage is not open for consideration.
In a world where the image of being pulled together and perfect set an impossibly high bar, sometimes giving ourselves the freedom to just own who we are, let our hair down and stop worrying about being accepted is such a breath of fresh air! I can’t tell you how many YEARS I agonized about not meeting with other people’s approval, or worse, living in fear of their disapproval. As long as my energy was focused on THAT, it was as though that was exactly what I attracted into my life! The disapprovers showed their colors to me time and again, when they showed me they really just wanted to control me and my life because they felt they could do a better job at it than I could. Even if that were true, it was still my life to live!
TAMARA KULISH is an artist, photographer, jewelry maker, and wisdom seeker. She is author of How to Heal Your Life on a Deep Heart Level and Love Art Journal Workbooks for use as life development tools. In her books and blog posts, she shares information and techniques she learned and implemented on her own healing journey from mental and physical abuse in her youth.
Jem Bendell uses the word “control” in e-s-C-a-p-e ideology to describe the idea among modern cultures in the West and worldwide that it is possible for the human, both individually and collectively, to control the environment and others, and that it is good to do so (Bendell, p. 131). As evident in the vast urban centers worldwide, we humans have succeeded in transforming our natural world to fit our needs. Yet, given global ecological collapse underway and the frequency of extreme global climate events as our planet grows hotter, it should also be evident that we are not in control of our natural world upon which our lives depend.
When the dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Ian struck the west coast of Florida on September 28, 2022, with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles (249 kilometers) per hour and a storm surge of 12 to 18 feet (3.6 to 5.5 meters), the people in its path had to get out of its way or hunker down, hoping for the best. Not everyone who sheltered in place survived Nature’s fury. Others returned home to find their neighborhood trashed beyond recognition. Faced with such a life-altering event, we realize that our control is lost in the rubble.
It seems impossible, but every humbled life has cried it is so: The sweetness of living comes to us when the very humanness we regret and try to hide, our seeming flaws and shameful secrets, are worked by time and nature into a honey all their own. Ultimately, it is where we are not perfect—where we are broken and cracked, where the wind whistles through—that is the stuff of transformation.
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, Red Wheel/Weiser Publishers, USA, 2020 Edition, Entry for October 18, p. 343.
MARK NEPO is a poet, teacher, storyteller, and “an eloquent spiritual teacher.” His #1 New York Times bestseller, The Book of Awakening, has inspired readers and seekers worldwide. He has published twenty-two books and recorded fifteen audio projects. In 2015, he received a Life-Achievement Award from AgeNation. In 2016, Watkins: Mind Body Spirit named him one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People. That same year, OWN also selected him as one of their SuperSoul 100—inspired leaders using their gifts and voices to elevate humanity. In 2017, he became a regular columnist for Spirituality & Health Magazine.
My Poetry Corner October 2022 features the poem “Leviticus” from the poetry collection The Body Family (Haymarket Books, 2022) by Hope Wabuke, a Ugandan American poet, essayist, and critic. Born in the United States to Ugandan refugees, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Film and Media Studies (1998-2002) at Northwestern University, Illinois, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing (2004-2007) at New York University.
In The Body Family, Wabuke explores her family’s escape in 1976 from Idi Amin’s Ugandan genocide and the aftermath of healing in America. She focuses on the nature of personal trauma juxtaposed against national trauma. In her interview with Julie Brooks Barbour for Connotation Press, the poet explained:
“I look at the national trauma of the genocide in Uganda as part of the legacy of colonialism in Africa by European powers, and the national trauma of violence against black bodies in America that has been ongoing since the founding of this country. These two violences are interconnected. There is a global culture of anti-blackness that is manifested, whether in post-British colonial Africa or in America, where the black body is erased, and what is layered upon it are negative stereotypes of blackness. Both are an erasure. Both are a disappearance. A large part of my writing is to get past these layered stereotypes, to unerase the erasure.”