Lena Corazon

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Tag: Audre Lorde

ROW80: Self-Care is Self-Preservation

Once again, I’m dropping back in to wave hello to all of my wonderful friends taking part in this season’s ROW80 challenge. I’m especially excited because it is NaNoWriMo time! Even though I’m not participating this year, there’s something so intoxicating about the energy that abounds throughout the writing world during this time. I’m hoping a little of that energy rubs off on me.

-oOo-

Back in August, I identified some of my major pitfalls when it comes to writing and productivity. I was hoping it would jumpstart me to get back on my research/writing/blogging game, but instead I realized something else that’s been nagging at me: my lack of self-care.

Splitting my time between my parents’ house and my boyfriend’s home has left my bedroom is shambles–half-empty suitcases on the floor, clothes strewn about, papers and books everywhere.  I wear stress on my body, visible in weight I’ve gained from a lack of healthy eating, and in the rashes that have sprung up on my arms in legs, partly from nervous habit, and partly because I don’t take the time to moisturize and apply the necessary medicine.

audre-lorde-selfcare

I’ve stopped writing, whether poetry or prose or silly blog posts. And I’ve stopped dreaming (unless you count regular nightmares). That lack of dreaming hurts the most, I think. The visions of the future that I used to entertain have morphed into something else altogether: fears about never finishing my PhD, or worse, that I’ll finish and never find a job that captures both my passion and expertise.

And so that is what I’ve been trying to conquer these last couple of months: to care for myself, to take time in the evenings to read magazines and journal and listen to music, to listen to my body when I need to rest, to give myself the space to listen to the stirrings of my heart. I’ve been reorganizing my room and eliminating the clutter, the better to give myself a sanctuary that will encourage serenity and dreaming.

After all, as the great feminist scholar, poet, and warrior Audre Lorde once said, self-care is self-preservation–a profoundly radical act. Because if I expend all that I have and all that I am for others, without taking the time to nourish and restore myself, there is no way I will ever be able to accomplish all that I’ve dreamed. More importantly, there will be precious little to support the happiness and joy I’d like to feel in my day-to-day life.

These are my challenges, then: to overcome fear, to recognize and tend to my needs, to rediscover my passions. I’ll be pinning this Audre Lorde quote over my desk to stay motivated:

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

For this round of ROW80, I want to take steps to living  fully, deeply, and deliberately. Here are a few concrete ideas for how to get there:

Dissertation

To date, I’ve written an introduction + chapter one. My committee has been encouraging me to write about my findings, so I’m juggling a few things here:

  • Reviewing my data: I’ve got to identify the historical examples that help illustrate my overarching arguments, which involves wading through all my notes to figure out what to flag.
  • Reading secondary literature: I’ve got a stack of books that my committee recommended when I met with them in October. Getting through 2 per month would be phenomenal
  • Writing, writing, writing. There’s a chapter I’ve been dying to write which is already partly done. If I could buckle down and finish it, and then have an outline of that “substantive” chapter done by the end of this Round, I’d be really pleased with myself.

Blog

I’ve neglected my poor blog for way too long. I’ve got 7 unfinished drafts that I’d like to polish up and post, and I’d like to get back to reading everyone else’s posts. I’m aiming for 2 posts per week: 1 ROW80 update, and 1 non-ROW80 post.

Self-Care

This is simple, and also the hardest. I want to use my weeknights for myself, and to have time on the weekend to rest and recharge. Bottom line? The goal is to do the following: Journal. Clean. Read. Write. Sleep.  

-oOo-

And there’s where I’m at this week. I’m excited to put these goals into motion, and even more excited to catch up with everyone. Be sure and cheer on the rest of our ROW80 participants!

For Those Who Have Ever Been Afraid to Speak: The Poetry of Audre Lorde

1980, Austin, TX. I took it in very poor light...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My October celebration of poetry, sparked by the wonderful October Poetry Writing Month challenge, continues on. Today, I profile the great and wonderful Audre Lorde (1934-1992).

Lorde is an inspirational and illuminating figure, a scholar, poet, activist, and outspoken feminist.  She is notable for a million reasons, not the least of which was her lifelong battle against social inequalities, inequalities that she identified as endemic and embedded in the very structure of American society.

Race, gender, and sexuality were ever-present in her work, as were her scathing critiques of the feminist movement of the 1970s and 1980s, which she decried for perpetuating a single definition of “woman,” one that took whiteness and heterosexuality as the norm. In refusing to acknowledge difference, Lorde argued that feminism could never reach its longed for goal of gender equality, for it would continue to reproduce other forms of inequality.

When it came to individual experience, Lorde also explored the dynamic of multiplicity that we encounter in our own selves.  A self-proclaimed “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” her poetry and prose explored her struggles with reconciling the various aspects of her identity.

Lorde’s work on identity, inequality, and difference has resonated with me since I first encountered her as an undergraduate. It is her writing on silence, fear and courage, however, that truly inspires me. Silence, she reminds her readers time and again, is seductive. Silence is easier, safer, than speaking out, but that is both false and dangerous.

For Lorde, silence is tantamount to death. In order to live, we must speak our truth. Fear never fully fades, but as she wrote in her memoir, The Cancer Journals,

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

Although she died from breast cancer in 1992, her work continues to live on. This clip from “A Litany for Survival” (hyperlinked in case the embedded video doesn’t play), a documentary on Audre Lorde’s life and many contributions, illustrates her intense passion and creativity.


I end with with poem for which the documentary is titled. “A Litany for Survival” is, in my mind, the perfect expression of Lorde’s fierce exhortations to live, to write, and to speak.

-oOo-

A Litany for Survival

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak
we are afraid our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive

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