I’ve been so lazy and unmotivated to post on Instagram, overwhelmed by the infinite photos of others and even of those in my own phone. However, while running into some emotional battles with 5-year-old Geo as we adjust to our new family dynamic with Baby Delphi (he totally loves her but is dealing with the fact that he’s no longer the center of our attention), I went into my feed and scrolled all the way to the bottom, back when my little Geo was a baby.
In tears I looked through all the photos and videos and read my captions. There was so much positivity and soulfulness in them. Why have I lost the motivation to literally take five minutes to write a few sentences and share a memorable photo? Have five years of my adult life in my thirties made me jaded? I used to even include hashtags, but stopped when I began reading about child trafficking... that’s when it started to change.
Not like I was oblivious to the darkness in the world before, but the things I’ve discovered about the exploitation and abuse of children shattered what faith I had in humanity’s inherent goodness; more so than the atrocities of war or poverty, of which I was painfully aware since my own childhood.
Despite my reluctance to include the vulnerable and private colors of my life on the internet canvas, if I hadn’t posted all those photos of Geo as a baby and toddler, I wouldn’t have those accessible snippets of memories now - comforting me in a moment of panic because my once-tiny-baby is now a grown boy with big feelings... still just as much in need of affection, security, reassurance, playtime, being seen and heard, positively disciplined (when I don't succumb to the urge to yell), cuddled, held, etc. Sure the photos are in my digital backup files and some I’ve printed, gifted, framed, etc, and I did make a photo book of Geo’s first year that we’ll always treasure - but the Instagram feed that those words and images comprise is something I treasure as well.
Let’s see if this instinct sticks and I start posting more often. It’s so great to interact with friends too, and keeping my account private helps my paranoia about internet predators.
Our children are so precious and divine. Of course we want to share their milestones and magical everyday moments. There’s so much of the past few years with Geo that I haven’t shared, and while it’s not about sharing it to prove it happened, it is about documenting a unique and special journey, and inviting people I care about to witness it.
A new positivity and soulfulness needs to rise within me, it cannot be reclaimed from the past. I’ll start with gratitude for two healthy pregnancies and births of my children, a wonderful man who loves us, our families who support us, and the gorgeous and relatively safe location where we live. Uncountable blessings despite various struggles. Perspective. Empathy. And visualizing a safer and healthier world for us all to share...
Give my often-ignored but perhaps making-a-comback Instagram a follow: https://www.instagram.com/nikagram/
Today was a momentous day in our household. For the past five years, with the exception of date nights, working late, or traveling, I have sung Geo to sleep with Russian lullabies. Soviet-era songs from cartoons, folk music, and some I made up myself. Every bedtime. Holding him when he was a baby, then sitting on his bed or laying down hugging him, or lately bouncing on the yoga ball because of my giant belly... Always until he was all the way asleep. Sometimes getting frustrated if it took too long or if I walked out of the room and heard him whimper for me to come back.
I pushed through the frustration because of an instinctual pull to stick it out with him, knowing I’ll never have those first-years-of-life bonding opportunities again. Despite criticism that I coddle him or paranoia that I’m setting him up for unrealistic expectations of attachment. Still I believed that this time together was too precious to force to end sooner than needed. I didn’t know when it would, or how I would even surmount it, but trusted that it would flow. And with his baby sister almost here, the time has revealed itself.
She’ll be getting the bulk of the lullabies now... and he will be falling asleep more without me. He’s had plenty of practice with his dad and with my mom, but it’s a new chapter for me to watch him fall asleep while I’m home and not singing to him. I borrowed a CD player from his grandmother, put on a bedtime story, and he was out in fifteen minutes. Granted, I lay beside him and hugged him, but plan to wean him (and myself) off of that gradually. I might be able to still sit with him and nurse the baby while we listen to stories and songs, we’ll see what works. The important thing is he did totally fine tonight without my voice lulling him, and I owe a lot of it to his preschool routine too, where they lay down for their naps with recorded stories, so he’s already used to it.
When shaking my head about not figuring this out sooner, I realized that I take pride in having sung to him for five years. Feels like I’ve given him a part of my soul, a part of my innate essence and love of the Russian language. Even a love of the sentimental old Soviet idealism that I grew up with, a nuance I can’t quite explain, but something I feel in my heart every time I repeat the same kind and innocent words that comprise the poetry of the twentieth century creatives of my birthplace... if you know of Crocodile Gena or Kot Leopold you might know what I mean...
Something along the lines of:
“If you are kind,
But if you’re the opposite,
If you’re singing songs,
everything’s more joyful.
But if it’s the opposite,
Indeed I find the flow of life more joyful when there’s music in it. I hope my little son will always keep music in his heart. 💜
You’ve put out so much of something already. So much thought, so much vibration. In so many words, on paper, online, in your mind, in and through your heart. You’ve lit so many candles, and closed your eyes so many times. Inhaled and exhaled and sat and stood and sang and danced and collapsed and flew. But every cycle of something, every constellated arrangement of celestial bodies - you find yourself feeling an energy of “should.” I should write intentions. I should meditate. I should make a freaking vision board.
I am done with the idea of the New Age. Maybe I’ll just call it the Next. Maybe there’s no delineation necessary. Maybe it’s all just one cluster-fuck of universe, multiverse, omniverse, whateververse. There are epochs and ages and eras, sure. But what does that really matter to
Right now is about “being here.” Sure, ok, yes.
But that is such a given. It’s just so obviously true. Yes, I am here. You are here, reading this. There, you just finished reading that previous sentence. Now you’re here. And so on.
So what is “right now” about then?
Perhaps this quote from Alan Watts:
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
Sounds about right.
About as right now
as you can get.
Tonight, in this new moon in Virgo and solar eclipse and Mercury retrograde energetic shitstorm, I give myself back the power of exploration. I don’t need to do all the right things in all the right ways. I don’t need to close my eyes and breathe deeply if I don’t want to. Rather, I want to, but I also want to explore somewhere else. I want to relax and not have to fix every part that aches. I want to surrender to the pain. Let it swallow me, let my tears flow, let my numbness pervade, let my tangled imagination rouse itself slowly. Because if I don’t - I will risk falling into an abyss of thinking I’ve healed myself, that I’ve made progress, that I’ve anointed my wounds with a loving salve. The more I do that, the more I lose the essence of my gifts. Without the wounds where the light enters us (Rumi quote I think? or Hafiz? someone mystic) - I am canceled out. My own healing journey brings me to a zero point. I’ve had it all wrong this entire time. I don’t want to return to anything. I’d like to build atop the drama and treachery that is my will, my craze, my hope. Without my admittance of the colorfulness of my being, I am less than nothing. “Nothing” isn’t so bad. It’s the deterioration of possibility into utter frivolity which is sad to me. Not that sadness needs to be avoided. I confuse myself yet again, and this is the first time I call it out but it’s happened more than once already in this long paragraph… the confusion. My own confusion. Ok, bring it on. Self. Confuse yourself. Get lost in your own maze. Explore it. And stop giving yourself shit for it. Stop trying to figure things out. Just be the aperture, look, and explore.
When it comes to thinking about our world (almost all day every day for me), why am I so dumbfounded by my own emotion that I can only think of paragraphs to post on facebook? I seem to only go as far as composing a superficial woe-begotten mini-rant, asking rhetorical questions and rehashing sentimental platitudes. Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on myself with this observation. Paragraphs are better than nothing. Or are they just babble? Emotional purging for the sake of not much else.
So many of us think and speak and write of how we fear the world in which we're raising our children. Fear it and question it and pray for it and... dread it. It's like we just dread the future, how much more horrific it can get, the way it seems to be going.
Many of us pray and write hopeful things. And take hopeful actions. And get things done and change the world and save lives and create inventions and discoveries. I do have faith in us.
But... but but but. Something's missing. Something's terribly wrong. I know it is, because I used to think I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders needlessly - and now I think I do it with no other choice.
I suppose that's because I'm a mother now, and I feel like I just can't let myself off the hook. I feel as if a buried speck of knowledge and ability lies somewhere within me that I am not allowing to surface. If I don't light the way into that abyss with my own feelings and emotion, how will I ever unearth it?
My old philosophy of living my joy is exactly that - it's old. I don't feel pure joy anymore in this world except when I'm with my son... And that isn't fair to him. I must not use him as my therapeutic solace. I wish to build a world for him where real joy is possible - not at the expense of barbaric wars and wasted resources. No, I can't live with all this blood on my hands. That of innocent people lost in the name of a fictitious cause... "fighting terror" and all this bullshit. The fight is the terror. The FIGHT.
We stick play swords in our kids' hands and let them pretend to stab each other. We buy them plastic guns and let them shoot each other as they run through the park, shouting "I'm gonna kill you!"
I know this observation isn't a new one, and it goes right along with my usual status-paragraph complaints. I just want to reaffirm it to myself - to challenge myself to raise my son with perspective, with awareness. To speak to him realistically about the effects of violence. To not instill in him that it is something in our nature. It may have been so in the past, as a means of survival; but it need not be so now.
Unfortunately my ideal doesn't sit with the real "now." Sure there are statistics for how less violent and poverty-stricken the world is now than in the past. But that doesn't mean it ISN'T violent and poverty-stricken. And I think it's a shame that it is, considering all of our evolutionary advancements. It's a shame that huge wars are waged for the sake of questionable motives. It's a shame that there are stories and explanations and wool over everyone's eyes. It's a shame that we aren't able to solve our problems. Put as simply as I can - I think it's a damn shame.
So I am challenging myself to think differently. Think of what hasn't occurred to me yet. Think of what I've been missing.
There isn't really a simple answer. Or is there? Is it just staring me in the face, a quantum degree away? What is real power? Do we possess it? How can we harness it? How can it have any effect? Here are my rhetorical questions again. Well, Yanika. Start thinking.
They say that overthinking is useless and even dangerous... I've definitely over-thought before to the point of feeling stagnated, or to taking unnecessary action...
But to think differently isn't to think too much. It's literally that - different. It's different. What does that mean? I think it is both forgiving and holding evil accountable at the same time. It's acknowledging what's wrong, not bypassing it with explanations and theories. It's.... Oh I don't know. It's beyond words. It's a simple prayer, it's a rhythmic heartbeat. It's a dying star inside a supermassive black hole inside a supernova birthing a new star. It's truth. And indeed it's out there somewhere. All the way out there, right in here. *points to brain*
I hope I can get nearer to it. Create it if I must.
bubbles of sadness burst themselves all around my body and being -
i kneel, i flee the room, i let tears have their way.
of a saddened day remembered
so long ago,
so often now
shades of a person, memory of their soul,
you want to touch it, press it,
but it lies so buried in dimensions’ softness.
constricted softness holding eternity,
the whispers and imprints of
what was, what is.
what hasn’t been -
its dull and studded wall not yet clambered over,
a blurred imagining
in our ever-present minds.
they say we need more presence, or to “be present”
i said it myself just two days ago, if I could just be present
to the beauty of the present
enjoy it as much as my heart deems it wants.
but why the “if” -
if that’s my solution…
to how i wish to be in a state of happiness,
how i am seeking ways of thinking
to make it so.
if I just think in the PRESENT, and positively at that…
THEN, i can enjoy the NOW and
will be just as good.
For it will be its own present, of its own.
i’m just not sure that
that’s the way of thinking
i wish to choose and employ.
i sit in the dark at my desk, having forgotten to close the window from the evening chill,
i sit and realize i’m freezing, and thirsty,
and a candle burns upon the dresser/altar
joined by the light of the laptop screen,
and the sound machine loops its static heartbeat womb noises from the baby’s room down the hall…
and i am unsure.
need to take a breath.
again i ask my soul, my anything, my world and existence.
how can I see into those soft warm folds of everythingness?
can i reach in and just hug my grandparents, or, be hugged by them?
that’s all I wonder for now, as i cry a prayer of wishing my family safe,
after breaking into tears
standing in the kitchen after putting the baby to bed,
ready to make dinner but first, bang! -
- a thousands sadness bubbles burst around my body and being…
In tears I leave the kitchen to kneel on the yoga mat left from some earlier lazy stretching.
its blue color, along with the welcoming hardness of the wood floor, embrace my prostration
but I can only last a minute before retreating to the bedroom and letting my body fall as if in slow motion onto the bed.
Feels like I have so much to cry about. There’s no time for crying right now, it’s late and you gotta go make dinner, I tell myself.
But the tears continue unchecked until I wipe my face a few minutes later, rise to light a candle and burn some palo santo (because I’m a gypsy hippie after all), and sit down on the blue exercise bouncy ball that is my desk chair. Open the “drafts” file off a fresh desktop window on my macbook to begin typing, but am caught off guard by the last thing I had written here. So I read it. Proofread it sort of. It makes me cry harder for a moment and then all at once it helps me to stop crying. The text was a sort of birth story, written as a review of my doctor. It’s too long (said yelp when I tried to post it), even though I thought I was keeping it succinct. I thought people wrote pretty long essay-ish reviews on there so I went at it. Was too long and I never posted it, having seen that in the 17 months since he delivered my baby, he had gotten loads of positive reviews. ANYWAY,
the paragraphs on the bright screen, dimmed to contrast less with the darkness of the room, but still very bright…
small thin letters carried me out of the sadness. it had been such a soaking, heavy-ish feeling - encompassing my entire self and requiring full lay-down-on-bed maneuvering. it’s a bit like grief, never quite going away.
it’s grief. it never goes away.
it gets smoothed and coated. it gets hidden, or tangled, or processed in a healthy way and released.
(that last one is bullshit)
it never goes away. you can “release it” and think it’s released, observe it as released, commemorate it as such, teach others how to do likewise, describe how and why, when and where, with whom, through what, how else. infinite ways of dealing. of healing. of words and words and thoughts, feelings, dreams, travels, trips, quests, voyages and pilgrimages. of infinities. infinities onto infinities.
and then - plop!
back to you, just you.
a woman on an edge,
from maiden to mother.
and rejoicing. always.
the grief is there, but it becomes something else. creativity. and something akin to an angelic power. an amplifier. a never-ending blessing.
i reach my arm into a nondescript void,
a void which so embodies the meaning of a void
that it is not a void -
and I feel my feet follow in step…
am I here?
inside the everything?
When I was pregnant with Geo, I didn't think much into what I wanted him to "be" or "do." I think most of us women spend our pregnancies simply imagining health and happiness for our child's life, knowing that we will love them unconditionally, and support them in whatever fulfills them. Although, with Geo, I had one recurring thought, and voiced it to certain friends and family once or twice:
"He's going to be an acrobat."
I don't know why, and it isn't like that was ever a dream of my own. (I dreamt of being an actress and visual artist). But having seen my first Cirque Du Soleil show (Mystere) when I was 7 years old, and then Quidam when I was nine - I remember the heart-opening, magical effect of seeing human bodies fly and whirl through the air. I didn't know what the feeling was back then, but I believe that my heart speeding up and skipping beats and launching into my throat were all sensations of the heart chakra/energy center blasting open. The synthesis of the music, staging, costuming, lighting, etc with the indescribably beautiful movement of the performers in the mystical big-top was not only mesmerizing - it was spiritually transcendent. Like a phantasmagorical, super-colorful, multi-sensory, multi-dimensional initiation into a thought-form beyond the everyday processes to which we are accustomed.
After an experience of initiation, there is an integration period in which an individual might go through challenging moments - due to latent concepts, memories, desires, or sensations coming to the surface. They are there to be acknowledged and learned from. They reveal aspects of the true self. They bring growth and strength, and if surrendered to, they can open portals to further initiation; into endless truths and wonders. Life (perhaps eternally) is one initiation after another. We are constantly evolving.
At Quidam, my mother bought me the program booklet. I repeatedly stared at the faces of the acrobats and felt an obsessive admiration. I made a program of my own with drawings of each figurine in my collection of small toys. They comprised an epic choir/performance troupe of which I was the director, and I modeled their square-shaped "headshots" on the Cirque ones. Having been Russian-born in Odessa, Ukraine, I felt connected to many of the Quidam cast-members who were Russian. I felt the fire of a lifelong yearning for the performing arts being stoked by my remembrance of the show - the spectacle - I had witnessed. Studying dance since the age of 3 (still am!), I was already a campy stage kid, but nothing in the world had affected me the way that show did.
I mentioned the integration period after an initiation because looking back, I feel as if my nine-year-old self was somehow aware that I [it] was on a spiritual quest. Deeply in my heart, I am a mystic. One who connects to higher power through creativity and resonance, who finds solace in breath and song, who seeks truth but tries to not let it get trapped in dogma. Back then, at nine, I experienced a couple weeks of what I would now actually describe as depression. I felt a dark dread in the mornings, I felt like crying for no obvious reason, I felt unmotivated. I was sad that my direct experience of Quidam was over. I was sad that I wasn’t in that tent, hearing that music and seeing those acts, and I felt sad that my only link to that magic was my memory. I think that’s why I obsessed so much over the program booklet, leafing through it endlessly and drawing up my own version. I think those couple weeks of a nine-year-old’s depressive funk were my integration period after experiencing one of the most intense and transformative initiations of my life (and there have been, and will be, many).
What was I integrating? Ancient dreams of flight? Seemingly intangible career goals as an artist? Visions of my future which I had no way of comprehending at the time? The story-line and characters of the show and their impact on my young self as an immigrant, only-child, daughter of two artists, creative kid with big dreams?
Was I able to surrender to those sensations? Those arching truths leaning into my soul’s periphery, hinting to me that I would always love the arts, passionately and recklessly, whimsically and beyond-words-achingly? I would become a theater geek in high school, major in Dramatic Art in college, dance in various companies, spend a year in Egypt engaging in some exhaustively scrupulous soul-searching… and become (and be in a constant state of becoming) a visual and performing artist.
Yet, there is something deeper. Beyond the sensation of my own future as an artist, beyond the emotional pull of a bottomless scope of inspiration, beyond the realization that I could do nothing except live and breathe for creativity… I look back now, and think - perhaps, I was sensing, somewhere very subtly, somehow and sometime, that I would raise a child in the arts, and he would learn to fly through the air, and he would open hearts.
He would lift his eyelids to reveal the deepest depths of sea and sky, soaring through grids of starlight and bouncing from stratosphere to ether. This would be my little son, or daughter, propelling through the air like a dragonfly and causing wide grins to materialize on the faces of anyone watching…
It’s just a vision. A little dream. Albeit a grain of the molecular magic of which we’re made. Nevertheless, a dream. Did I dream it at nine, or did I dream it the other day while experiencing the latest Cirque Du Soleil show to come to Los Angeles, Kurios? I sat there just as sweetly stupefied and exhilarated, squeezing my lover’s shoulder and letting my eyes fill with tears not once, not twice, but three times throughout the show… marveling at every single detail. Whether it was this show, or the one I saw as a child, or any other moment of life which spoke to my soul - I know beneath my intuition’s veil, there is truth in art, and there is truth in being creative. I don’t “think” about what my son will “be,” but I suppose I do think about what I’d love for him to “do…”
Be creative. Live with imagination. That’s it.
Just found this as a saved screenshot in my folder titled "works in progress." It's timestamped August 26, 2013, but I don't particularly remember writing it [then]. Don't know where and within which text file these paragraphs may be, but I kind of paused after coming across them while looking for something else this evening. Then or now, or anywhere ever, I feel all this every moment, every breath. It's often a challenge to detach from it and just breathe for breathing's sake. My Holiday prayer is that we breathe with the world; for the world. That we ask, "what can we learn? How can we improve?" That we express our love in any way we can find it true to our hearts. That we can expand our brains and allow them to grow and evolve. For the betterment of the Earth and all its habitats and inhabitants!
Photo of a Northern CA woodland by my father, Alex Chemerisov
We are tipped away from the sun
here in the north.
While the southern hemisphere hovers closer…
in the balance.
In the long night here.
In the long day there.
I used to celebrate this magic
Mainly aware of my dome of the earth,
a sense of “up,” a notion of “top,” a realm of
which are not really “up” at all.
They are just half -
and the world “down south” is another half.
Together they form a wobbly sphere
in all its chaotic majesty.
It whirls itself by a force of elegant nature
and holds us to it
with a magnetic pull
like unconditional love…
As much as we plunder the lands, the waters, the ethers,
Earth’s gravity does not let us go.
Thank you, world of colors, elements, sounds, creatures…
you are our ground.
I hate to ask you for more,
but please help us
grow better at
In stretches of nighttime dreaming…
in expanses of daytime becoming.
This evening, washing dishes, and a memory materializes,
that of a moment when I knew something
unconsciously, but knew it still.
My love had brought me to the little snowy town of Aspen,
and we were going to lunch at a cafe in a bookstore,
or was it after lunch…?
Either way we were on the sidewalk,
and crossed a pair of mothers with their children.
My cold, ungloved hand
- the one not holding the hand of my beloved -
hung empty and casual at my side.
One of the children,
a boy of three or so,
had become detached from his mother for a few seconds as she spoke to her friend.
He took my hand, in his sweet confusion, and took a couple strides with us in our direction.
The two women giggled and called to him,
I squeezed his little fingers and reoriented him, laughing and shrugging
and secretly ecstatic inside myself,
because I felt that I was to become a mother soon myself.
I didn’t know it then, but I was a couple weeks pregnant.
I didn’t know. But I knew.
Intuitive suspicions live inside wily cells.
They know better than I. They smile quietly while
my solid being slides itself through experiences such as that one.
Experiences such as now,
standing at the sink and listening to the refrigerator hum amidst the otherwise silent woods.
What am I unconsciously yet joyfully suspicious of now?
What intuition lurks behind my tired yet happy form?
My mother’s face today
They say with age
that beauty fades.
But I have proof
"Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. And so to whatever degree any one of us, can bring back a small piece of the picture and contribute it to the building of the new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit, and that after all is what it's really all about."
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