Author Archives: michelle

Expectations for the Modern Day Woman

Photo taken two weeks ago working with Syrian refugees in Greece.

Social justice + sacred activism + being extra human(itarian)…

Take away the fancy labels that may or may not have connected with you in the past, and realize that TODAY, this is you.

It’s us.

Those with a fire in our belly and activated voices, those, not just with ideas, but newfound energy to go anywhere it’s needed, emotionally or physically, knowing that, guided by the soul’s voice, we know exactly what to say, to whom and who, with joined hands and a fierce devotion, to create a solid, loud and consistent safety net around.

Those of us with voices (all of us, young and old) and those with platforms, need not only see ourselves in the light of these three ways of being in the world (social justice + sacred activism + bring extra human(itarian)), but begin to infuse more of the specifics of these elements into our programs, walking others through and waking them up to how they, too, can do more from their experience of feeling more than they have in a long, long time.

I went to a local ladies pow-wow with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg yesterday (thank you again, Francine) and it was further confirmation of the responsibility to see that our care, concern and feelings of anger, fear or frustration are expressed in how we take responsibility for how we keep war, separation, fear and inequality alive in our homes, thoughts and daily actions, as well as in what we financially support, tolerate and, of course, how we do business.

Bye, bye to time business as usual.

I can’t wait to share more about my process delving further into these topics and infusing more of these ways of being in the world into my groups and programs.

In thanks giving for the energy to support, not only an actively female-friendly society, but an everyone-friendly world and doing it alongside you.

Life is good,

michelle-black-sig-md-light

 

 

REFUGEE SUPPORT STORY, Day 5: Today was a day for the women, for the fierce mamas

Their husbands and eldest sons were invited to watch the ’92 Barcelona team play, so the ladies had camp to themselves today.

It was a BIG day for the men and boys, too.

Can you imagine being a soccer-loving kid here and, after everything you’ve experienced recently, you’re given a day playing big-deal soccer and then after, watch a pro team play, all the while, wearing new soccer cleats? Get out.

Today, after seeing the guys leave on buses, we said hi to the women leaving the Female Friendly Space who just had knitting class. This was the same space I came to and quickly joined in on 10 minutes of a yoga and dance class yesterday.

There’s a lot weighing on these minds, but whenever we passed each other over the last five days, they would always find a way to weave in a huge smile (gorgeous women, gorgeous smiles, fierce mamas).

I worked in the women’s boutique most the day organizing clothes that came in, so next week when I’m not here, it’s easier for ladies to find clothes that keep them warm, and, hopefully, also make them feel beautiful.

We want them to feel beautiful and honored — (see Day 3’s share about dignity).

To close out the week, late this afternoon, I, myself, felt honored to visit families off campus about 40 kilometers away who had delivered babies days before.

They were happy to have us visit, bring some groceries and introduce their babies to us (when you have a baby here, you deliver in the hospital, then live in an apartment for the first couple months).

I’m grateful my cousin Shannon, a fierce mama to many, made this afternoon happen. She’s doing an outstanding job here.

We had coffee at one of the homes, and I sat on the floor talking to the family, where the children, once again, translated for us.

The topics were, of course, how many babies I had (all were shocked I only had one), where I lived and where I was “from-from” (they would always point to their skin and face and ask which always made me smile).

I filled with more gratitude that equal to being loved by family.

And, this week could be described as exactly that — familial, in unique and unexpected ways familiar, and full of feeling, all kinds of them.

It’s a small world after all and, though we may sometimes forget or be distracted by what we look like, no matter who we are and where we live, we all have the same ones — feelings.

Love from the road,

michelle-black-sig-md-light

 

 

 

REFUGEE SUPPORT STORY, Day 4: Soul School.

The human road ain’t easy.

And yet, sometimes, you catch a break, and complete strangers or foreign countries (Greece for the refugees) remind you of the compassion that exists within each of our skin suits that refills the reserve of hope and healing.

You might catch a shower break, a snack break as you build your fire in the cold of Filippiada’s Winter or the biggest break yet which means your children, forced two to seven months ago from their country and homes, have been approved by the Greek government to, finally, go to school.

Today, in the large tent at camp, the parents received the formal paperwork to make this a reality. I was moved to tears.

It’s not yet sitting alongside Greek children, but it’s a step in the right direction (they’ll attend from 2-6pm when the local kids are gone).

More good news — they’ll be headed to school in new (but, used) boots which we made sure to walk or even run in, so we knew they were comfortable. They loved running and trying to beat me (which they did).

The news of school becoming a reality and sitting today with the remaining men, teenage boys or little boys and girls who still needed shoes or rain boots, then seeing them walk (or run) out relieved, once again, moved me to tears.

The young men are still the group who have affected me most this week, see Day 1’s share.

There are no adequate words for how it feels to share in or create moments with this community. It’s motivated me to make sure that more of us experience what it’s like to add generosity (of spirit) to our (human) business model. And, as importantly, what it’s like to feel ourselves simultaneously receiving, while we give, see Day 2’s share.

I’ve needed and wanted to get my hands dirty for a while, particularly around the refugee crisis, and, though I am heading home soon, I’m keen not to wash them anytime soon…

Love from the road,

michelle-black-sig-md-light

 

 

 

REFUGEE SUPPORT STORY, Day 3: Dignity in difficult situations

Today, I was part of the welcoming community for those coming in to shop and I also worked helping more men find boots or sports shoes they felt good in.

Refugee Support’s goal is dignity; to make the families and individuals here feel dignified in their experience.

How can we make things feel better for those who are marginalized or forced from their homes and from their beloved children, wives, sisters, brothers or mothers?

No rummaging through boxes is one way. (I can’t call it small because nothing done with love is small).

What they’ve created in what used to be a stark warehouse is incredible. The women’s, men’s and children’s boutique, as well as the “shoe-tique”, are filled to the brim with love.

There are dressing rooms, mirrors and benches to sit on while trying on shoes and organization that feels…so…good.

I admire those who have worked so hard to create these spaces. Many of those in the community have mentioned how it’s made them feel and it matches the overall goal.

To feel seen and as welcome as they would in their favorite shop back home. In other words, to feel as seen and welcome as we all deserve.

While they’re in the shops, we chat, we help them find what they feel good in, we hold divine beings called babies (see last share), and we are together in one short moment or many short moments strung together throughout some days, that may seem little to some, but that are anything but.

At the end of the day, a couple of us joined in to stretch and dance with the men and children of the community (the older 20-something’s led the 5-something’s).

Nearby, too, some of the men were practicing breakdance moves, and one of the moves looked identical to my favorite yoga pose, so, I joined in.

They thought it was funny, kindly told me I wasn’t doing the move quite right and continued smiling showing everyone what they knew.

This stretch — is life.

I hope for all of us to stretch so much that we create a bridge of understanding between two distinct lands [of thought, or beliefs], one that allows all to cross and continue to stretch and live, live and stretch.

This dance is also life.

It begs of us to dance even when we don’t hear the music.

Love from the road,

michelle-black-sig-md-light