Categories
Art

Dillidallier: Skellies and Bones

Dillidallier is a mother-daughter team who like skulls, oogly eyes, and brightly colored things. They are Anastasia Wasko and The Mama. Dillidallier explores art-making as a transformative psychological process. Connection, disconnection, and life cycles are recurring themes.

The Mama (Pat Wasko) is based Kingston, NY, where she scavenges thrift stores, tag sales, and curbs for pieces of kitsch to corrupt. Anastasia is based online. The Mama does most of the crafting, and Anastasia does most of the concept drafting, photo- & story-making.

***

Anastasia: I love bones. I love them because they carry our sacks of goopy organs and blood and shape the body, this wunnerful self-contained life unit. Bones hold up our physical shape, which gives us physical boundaries. I love the way the bones physically look, long or short and knobby and usually white—separate from the body system. I’m intrigued by the visual association of bones with death-things—bones are pieces that say nothing but “life” to me. But my experience of selling bone-themed pieces has only enforced a sense of a gaping hole, you know, a hole that leads to things-we-don’t-talk about. I want people to look at my mom’s skellies, the skeleton-re-painted figures, and be knee-jerked into contemplation about life via a visual of what we usually associate with death.

The Mama: I started making them a few years ago. I woke up one morning and just really needed to paint a gnome as a skeleton.

Anastasia: One warmish afternoon a few months after mom’s artistic super-impulse, I decided to take a long ride. I was in Kingston, in the Hudson Valley, New York. I turned off my GPS and just the car zoom south, zoom along route 52 through Pine Bush. I happened to pass by a large-ish farmhouse with a few concrete garden gnomes out front—they were unpainted and I was feeling daft enough to ask if he would sell me one—so I turned around, parked across the street, and went over to the front door to introduce myself. Turned out, the man who made them—Kentucky Bob, he said his name was—poured the molds his’self. He took me out behind the house, showed me his collection, his gnome séance, or, what he called the permanent arrangement of six gnomes in the garden; he said set them there, together, so they could talk to each other at night. I spent the afternoon listening to Bob’s stories and ideas. He sold me a gnome, too. The Mama was elated when I returned home and showed her. She named him “Darden,” the dead garden gnome.

Anastasia: And then the Mama couldn’t stop. She wanted more and was willing to branch out in forms. Most of the pieces the Mama uses for Dillidallier skellies are cheap, porcelain mass reproductions of mid-century and later kitsch—discarded or unwanted material made by machines, I just love that provenance.  Some are full skellies, some are havvies (part bone, part “normal”). I love that Dillidallier skellies are things, new life for dead-to-someone-else stuff. I often say that the skelly finds you, that is, it finds its home when the right person sees it and needs it. That person usually coughs up a very personal story for needing it; I’m fascinated by the ones I’ve heard. In other words, Dillidallier skellies are your friendly reminders to tell your stories.  

Fuck yes, bones!

***

Categories
Art

Occulted Religion: Orgonite Pyramid

Pieces shown at La Matadora Gallery’s “Occulted Religion” show in Joshua Tree, California; December 2019

Materials: Resin, broken glass, copper-plated bibis, copper wire, glass crystal, broken glass (picked in 29 Palms), rough quartz (picked in 29 Palms), sand (gathered in 29 Palms), reiki energy

Sacred geometry attributes power to shapes and symbols like the square, circle, and triangle, which in 3D form, become the cube, sphere, and pyramid. The triangle is the alchemical representation of fire, change, transmutation. Occult knowledge allows a skilled practitioner to access personal power through a metaphorical and literal process of burning, changing, and transmuting layers of human experience. Three dimensional, low vibration matter is broken down and changed to allow for fifth dimensional, higher vibration alignment. People are in their power when in alignment with their higher self that is beyond time and space.

Each pyramid holds a portal to a higher dimension. The portal is accessible through the third eye. The land from the southern California desert is rumored to be a stargate to other dimensions; it contains traces of Earth’s fifth dimensional essence. This is why I added it to the pieces. The pyramids are within a square of reiki energy that is within a sphere that is calibrated to the violet flame: the piece is an activator, generator, and transmuter of light for the person who possesses it.  

I use pyramids on my altars. My time in the southern California desert has been a pilgrimage that realigned me with a personal power that is rooted in creativity and amplified by a spiritual connection. The desert landscape in southern California has allowed me to spend a lot of time burning, changing, and transmuting layers of ego that had distanced me from my creative process.

Categories
Fiction

Vayux 2

Vayux 2 was written during winter December 2020/January 2021, a period in which I surrendered to the dissolution of one version of my life and opened to the possibility that light was at the end of a tunnel of darkness.

Vayux is an original character that has infinite permutations. Each serves as a vessel for creative expression. When I put her on, and live through her, and then take her off, I find I am a better version of my true self.

***

Vayux sat crossed-legged as crypto-crystalline dust fell around her. She wore a stone crown, which collected large and lithe gray flakes of the floating material. Vayux’s body, draped by a sari that wrapped around her shoulders and breasts and hips but left her belly exposed, towered over the remnant of ancient New York City. Large knobs of crypto-crystalline landed in her lap. Vayux looked at them through stone eyes, took them and bit into them with stone teeth. She chewed and swallowed and into nothing the human traces went; at the back of Vayux’s throat was a black hole. Her stone body, a the tomb around spacetime.

Ancient New York City floated outer space. Humans still lived there, but they were information suspended in matrices in the crypto-crystalline.

A birth was coming. Vayux consumed the knob with an invigorated ferocity, and her feet began to emit a trace of a heat signature. She ate memories, emotions; impulses—toward compassion, gratitude, hope. The material made more heat inside her. Human information: their pleasures, sight as bright bursts of colors, aquamarine, neon yellow, red;  their joy, swimming in dark, deep seas latticed by radiant sun beams; their delight, dancing in crowded rooms; their liking of scents, coffee and rain on hot pavement—all fell back into spacetime.

Vayux turned toward the fireball that raged through outer space.

The birth had arrived. Vayux’s stone body perceived a change in pressure of the space time around her. Flakes swirled, dust trails, tiny tornado vortices collected at the bottoms of her feet.

            And then, a silent explosion, a burst of light: a hardened, tiny body appeared out of the flame in front of Vayux. She leaned forward and grabbed the solid-block. Heat had moved from her feet through her body to her hands, and they melted the material around a human fully-formed, and the human started to melt too, bleeding trails of pinkish-red liquid at the force of Vayux’s heat, and the blood swirled around her, joining the flakes, dust trails, tiny tornado vortices at the bottoms of her feet.

She took a bite out of the tiny human, her mouth filled of a large, crooked nose—consumed it. It was chewy and oily. Vayux reached again, and a tuft of eyebrow skin with the brow-hairs still attached came away—tiny under her large stone fingers. She consumed it and her cheeks puffed, stuffed. It tasted like hate and fear. This life had been hard.

            Vayux leaned in one more time, and tore in at the tiny body, tore at the heels with her concrete teeth. Her sharp diamond nails severed the tendon in each foot before grabbing them, shoving them in her mouth, too. She tore into the right hamstring of the form; eating, consuming, ingesting all of it. The body was small, but it caused Vayux to swell, and the ancient New York City cracked and groaned under the weight of her expanding body.

            And then, Vayux fell over, and started to shake. Her stone belly began to glow and cracks began to seep crypto-crystalline dust. The belly burst and a new human, male (infant, pink, naked, flesh), the tiny form rolled out, slid onto the barren stone meadow of ancient Central Park and came to a stop, curled in a fetal position. Lying sideways, the baby opened his eyes, stunned.

After every birth, Vayux needed rest.

She stood up slowly, collected pieces of her belly that hung ragged, wrapped them into the sari, stepped a few giant steps back, over the stunned tiny new form which would be tossed out on the wind when she had the strength and the gust was right.

Vayux birthed—dust or form—but it was the black hole inside her that decided whether the form needed another life or could retire its existence and become dust. If she birthed form, the form would be back again; Vayux would consume the life again, and the black hole would rip its essence apart again and would decide whether it needed to exist as form, if the life needed to exist again at all.

Vayux moved down a spire of an ancient road to her pedestal in the blackened water crypto-crystalline-solid material. She picked up her torch that lay at the base of the pedestal then stepped and raised her arm. She willed a cosmic lightning strike; it lit the top of the torch. Light cast over the ancient New York City, black crypto-crystalline rock and gray crypto-crystalline dust; and beyond, light dissipated in outer space.

Vayux saw that dust fell again on the ancient New York City at its normal pace. Her body perceived no heavy pressure. So she settled in, stood, arm and lit torch held up, and fell asleep, standing over her creation.

A mother’s work is never done.

Categories
Fiction

Vayux

Vayux was written in April 2020 during the first wave of coronavirus-related lockdowns, set against former President Donald Trump’s willful disregard of science and gaslighting of the American public.

Vayux is an original character that has infinite permutations. Each serves as a vessel for creative expression. When I put her on, and live through her, and then take her off, I find I am a better version of my true self.

***

Vayux sat behind a stone mound, which she used as a desk, as she sifted through the ruins of humanity. The place on Earth Vayux sat used to be New York City. Where New York City once sat, it still sits; Vayux, in female form, sat where New York City always will have been.

            Vayux’s crown collected large and lithe gray flakes. She watched the crystalline-transforming-material-suspension circle around her. This was her way, the gods’ way, of addressing the human civilization that annihilated itself through consumerism. Gods thought about the humans long after humans had disappeared from Earth. Human civilization will become crypto-crystalline constructions, compressed, holding the people and events and cities together in tight matrices in a material that folds and forms tiny recordings of the everything that perished. Earth, now phasing as a planet with a hardened surface, kept oscillating around an axis that sometimes tilted away from the Sun, sometimes toward.

Vayux, who sat cross-legged in a stone-lace sari wrapped around her shoulders and breast and belly, heard nothing from the meadow of Central Park and the worn-down neighborhood formerly called the Upper West Side. She collected dust on her stone body, too; every now and again, a larger piece of ash, a more-hardened knob of the crypto-crystalline remains of human civilization that rained from the sky, landed in her lap. She took those pieces and bit into them with concrete teeth. She chewed. She swallowed. Images of Earth flashed through her mind: fish of colors like aquamarine verde neon yellow, swimming in a dark, deep blue sea full of latticed networks of radiant sun beams, years old, dancing in the ocean’s water element. Vayux tasted gusts of wind that were salt, were sweet, were wafted from salt deserts and jasmine trees. She wasn’t attached, not to the images or to the smells or the tastes; she ate them and didn’t react to anything. Human civilization that killed the Earth, a civilization long past its ending, needed an audience; Earth had memory and killed human civilization.

The falling material hampered sound, because such was the nature of sound and the nature of air. Air was thick in the Earth’s ambient, and sound was no different and no match. Then, darkness; real darkness suddenly came. Vayux felt its presence through the change in presence of the air around her. More flakes landed in her lap. The air started to thicken, imperceptible, except for the sudden appearance of swirling dust trails that collected at bottoms of her feet, which were concrete-to-stone, feet leaning, edging up against the old Upper West Side; the tops of her feet more human flesh than concrete.

The darkness darkened. The quiet battened down. She consumed with more ferocity, and her human feet emitted a trace heat signature. The rest of her body was even more flesh-like than the top of her feet. Her humanesque body, which became more and more human the longer she stayed in the form to do her job, had exigencies: her stone-suit-body had needs. Her body had a metabolism to sustain. She consumed more and more. She ate memories, sensory experiences, love, hate, rage, joy, denial, compassion, gratitude, greed, angst, and pure love. Humans had a range of emotions. She at them all as she imbibed the flakes that fell like rain around her.

            And then, silent explosion: a body appeared in the air, a freezer-frozen hunk of human with orange skin. It fell from a place not far above the crown of dust that settled on Vayux’s head. And then, Vayux felt an urge that made her feel something: anger. She was becoming what she ate.

            Vayux leaned forward and grabbed the floating frozen-solid-chunk-block. Her softened human-ized hands had minimal warmth, but it was enough warmth to melt the ice around the human-remnant; the remnant started to bleed trails of orange liquid, which caught the heavy wind, and pooled. She melted more of the block and saw that it was a male. She took a bite out of his large, crooked nose—the first piece, consumed. It was warm and oily, even though this specimen had been frozen quickly post death and floating for many years. It was hard to determine when the block of bloated Patriarchal ideals had been preserved; it could have been floating in orbit around Vayux, and Vayux would have been none the wiser. Gods observe, but minions act.

The body of the horrible human yielded as Vayux reached again, and a tuft of eyebrow skin with the brow-hairs still attached came away under her stone fingers. She consumed, saw pictures, emolliated dark things, non-human things, and knew greed and corruption had infected this man. The supine body of the boy-child that fell in a brick of iced ash lay on the sheets of dark, black-ish transparent ice, which was the old Hudson River.

            Central Park cracked and groaned under the sound of her own expanding body, belly full of humanity’s legacy. And for Vayux, it was her nature to drift quietly away, in motion because Earth was in motion, even though she sat behind a desk. Gods have to write scripts. This was the office Vayux received.

            “Occupy the space where the fear lives,” said Vayux, to no one and herself; the statement was the ghost of the goddess’s consumption.

            Vayux leaned in one more time, and tore into the body of the boar that fell to old Earth. She tore at his heel with her teeth. Her sharp nails severed the tendon in each foot before grabbing them, shoving them in her mouth too. The hunger ignited in her concrete body by the anger that rises out of fear. And she tore into the right hamstring of the beast-child; eating, consuming, ingesting the fear at the root-heart of the patriarchy, the ideology of human civilization at its demise.

            And then, Vayux crunched over, and started to shake. The woman’s feet began to split, and she began to glow, and then she split into two, ejecting off a form, which shaped itself into a fully-formed mirror-male human image: Vayu. Vayux was no more; the woman Vayua sat behind the desk that was the old Upper West Side, looking eye to eye at the man Vayu, naked; Vayua was naked, too. The were made of the shiniest black crypto-crystalline material. No features, just form. The wind and flakes settled. The woman reached forward and embraced her fellow man. She loved him. She asked him, whispering in his ear, “So what do you say now??”

            “I’m sorry,” he replied.

            Vayux, who had been sent by gods to end the human world, had assimilated it.

The gods’ desire was to try again.                 

Categories
Other

Simultaneous Times Interview

Categories
Fiction

Simultaneous Times Episode 16 With La Incubadora

Categories
EVOL

Growing Through Fire

I didn’t realize the amount of fire I was building inside me until I was in the desert heat and I felt such peace that there was nothing to do but radiate.

Me with post homa glow

Me with a post-homa glow

September 2018: As I soon as I got out of my truck and stood for the first time in Joshua Tree village, a small town in southern California where the Sonoran and Mojave deserts meet, I couldn’t tell where I stopped and the dry warm air and dusty Earth started.  It felt like the fire inside that had propelled me west all summer had fully engulfed my being.

***

As I look back over my trajectory from New York City to Los Angeles, I see how the sparks became this blaze.

They started before I left my last base camp—Kingston, NY. I had been laying on the makeshift mattress on the floor (everything in Lupe Station, my affectionately named two-bedroom space I had been living in) had been packed. It was early in the morning on my second-to-last day there. I remember relishing the way the sun entered the windows in my bedroom, moved through a teardrop-shaped crystal, cast rainbows aka colorful kisses on everything. The morning gazing ritual was something that I loved to do every day that I lived there.

And that morning, when the space was nearly empty, it  still full: I felt a kinship with the sun, the sweet energy, the strong light.

I had packed my homa fire ceremony kit, and as I laid there considering the dates I had booked to offer public ceremonies, I recognized that I was nervous at the thought of bringing it across the country. Homa is a Vedic fire ceremony for peace. It is cleansing. It is healing across dimensions. Homa involves chanting Sanskrit as ghee (clarified butter) is offered to a small fire that is created in a copper container. I wondered, too, if my teacher Ma Bha (Ma Bhaskarananda), whom I met by going to Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York (about an hour south from where I lived), would ever know just how much my life had changed by doing the ceremony that I had learned from her years ago.

Ma Bha

Ma Bha

Later that day, I got an unexpected message from Ma Bha’s son. (It wasn’t until she died [in 2016] that I realized I knew her son, who happened to be my friend and lived on the street parallel to mine in Kingston. We realized it when he had been posting pics of his mom as I posted pics of my teacher, both honoring the passing of an amazing woman.) He said he had a few things for me. I was a little confused because I didn’t know what he would be bringing, but I agreed to receive them. When he stopped by later that night, he gifted me an entire bag of her belongings, including the bag, the one that she used when she went on her own pilgrimage to India. I was moved beyond words. That’s the moment I realized how deeply I had connected to the fire and to my teacher, who showed up in this amazing synchronicity. I knew this road trip would be blessed.

It was a day later, as I drove with New York City in my rearview, a setting sun on the horizon, that I realized how the relationship that I have with fire (through the sun and actual thing and also through the creative process and metaphorical thing) is one of the most important relationships I have in my life. I often say at some point during a fire ceremony—“the light that you see in the flame is you, it is your inner light, it is your teacher”—because Ma Bha taught those words to me. So following my intuition to go west was like listening to a voice in me that said grow.

I performed a fire ceremony in June in Columbus, Ohio at the office of the Parapsychological Association (PA). This was a portent of the things to come at the PA conference I was planning to attend in August in California, where science was the framework to understand energy exchange and the interconnected nature of the material world. It was a significant experience because I was going into a space and group of people that was previously unknown to me with a ceremony that was previously unknown to them. Would they feel it, too?

Personal growth, inner life experience, sacred space is all so subjective.

When I performed fire ceremonies at Lupe Station, I did them in a room of my living space that was dedicated to energy work. I also knew many people who came to my ceremonies. I didn’t know how the fire would react to the space or the people, or me to the fire in that space. And like any other relationship—when you bring your significant other into new or different of your life, don’t you worry what might happen?

The fire ceremony in Columbus went well. In fact, it went really well—I saw how the power of the fire touched them, too. I’ve kept in touch with some of the folks who attended and have an offer to go back and do it again.

I went west to increase my own understanding about that, learning about my role as a facilitator of energetic exchange. I carefully selected some events and places to stay that would give me opportunities to learn and practice being in this role. My westward course led me to New Mexico, where a planned week-long stay in Albuquerque to complete a seminar at the Ayurvedic Institute turned into a month-long stop.

Ma Bha had spent years there teaching alongside Dr. Vasant Lad, whose direction, teaching, and kindness has helped make the Ayurvedic Institute an authoritative place of Ayurvedic knowledge exchange in the West. Ayurveda offers a holistic frame for the material world, where everything interacts in a series of balance, imbalance, and exchanges. Each time I mentioned that I too had studied with Ma Bha in New York, I was met with exclaims of respect and joy. I sat for several fire ceremonies while I was in Albuquerque, and I also did my first online broadcast of one—spurred by the feedback that some of previous attendees were feeling my lack of ceremonies. I remember my hand shaking as I lit the ceremonial fire in the kitchen of the apartment I had rented. I was nervous. I wondered if it would “work” over the Internet.

But again, as it did in Columbus, my friend showed up. The people who were at the online ceremony (physically across the country) felt the benefits, as if we were sitting together.

There was fire in me indeed. This simple, enriching ceremony gave (and gives) me the ability to feel the fire inside and use it to create connection to others. To invoke the teachers we all have inside. To let us be able to hear the intuition and follow that compass to things that set us a-light.

Incidentally, this is the ninth blog post this year that has been posted under “Outside the Lines,” the category that I created to share my spiritual growth process and pieces of my transformation story. Nine months is the gestation time for a human. Nine months I have been growing me. I had asked “Who am I?” after a powerful trip to Guatemala earlier this year. “Who am I in relation to others?” is something that trip asked me back. So I carefully considered what I needed to do to get those answers, and planned the summer road trip to get them.

But I hesitate to use the word “pilgrimage” although it is indeed what the road trip became. I kept referring to the time as “a blessed summer.”  I just knew I had to do it. I just knew that I didn’t want to leave the question of “Who am I?” unanswered. But saying that the trip had spiritual significance isn’t exactly what I want to remember it as; saying that I spent the summer growing the relationship I have to myself through the fire I have inside is. And now it’s time to birth the new version of who I am.

Homa at sunrise in Joshua Tree

Homa at sunrise in Joshua Tree

I’ve decided to stay in the desert for some time and allow for more exploring inside. I know, too, that many people spend time in the area around Joshua Tree and have profound experiences within themselves. It’s as if the sacred land is a catalyst for the power that can be unleashed inside all of us, the fire that we all have inside. And each morning, the sun wakes me up. I can feel it before it breaches the horizon. The presence calls me out of sleep to wake. By burning brightly from within, I can engage in the world in a joyful way, the way I want to be in the world.

This is the same but different version of me, lying on the floor at Lupe Station in Kingston.

Here’s a poem I wrote one morning as I laid on a bed in a furnished house I rented in Joshua Tree:

The sun woke me up today; the rays were like a friend’s skilled hand, a presence with familiarity, playing some celestial rhythm; and in the music: light waves moving through the space, dancing on my eyelids, encouraging me to open them, inviting me to another day of life n’ play… // and then I went outside. // Let’s see what happens.

Categories
EVOL

Mindfulness and Culture Making

I was at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico over the summer of 2018 for a seminar on spiritual practices, mindfulness, and wellness. The resonance of what I was encouraged to explore still informs my daily interactions.

The spacious, airy room was inviting; the colorful wall hangings and yoga mats complemented the soft, neutral colors of the wall. Sarah Bunting, the Student Services Coordinator, sat in circle with us, greeting our seminar group of approximately 50 people. Her job was to make sure that we were all well situated for the week ahead. As she spoke, explained the Institute’s principle and guidelines, she placed her hand over her heart, looked at each one of us. She conveyed her gratitude to all of us for being there, her joy at being able to share the kinship and respect for Dr. Lad and his work. At the end, she offered us an idea to sit with throughout the week: we were there to make culture together.

Make culture.

That statement really caught my attention because it’s not one that is used every day. At first glance, I observed that our natal cultures (of those attending the seminar) were varied, but what lay beneath that?

The Ayurvedic Institute was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the 1980s by Dr. Vasant Lad, an Ayurvedic doctor from India; the Institute was meant to be a hub of practice around the teachings of Ayurveda, a body of knowledge that informs of principles for living in balance and harmony. Dr. Lad—his presence was warm, and his teachings were genuinely conveyed with love. The way he transmitted the principles of balance, imbalance, subtle energetic bodies and metaphysical concepts was accessible and immediately applicable. Every time that I looked around during a lecture, the room full of attendees appeared to be deep in communion with his words and presence.

Every day, at the start of lectures and at the end of them, we chanted a Sanskrit mantra that honored the beauty of the community and the teachings. We took 2-hour lunch breaks between sessions. We didn’t use cell phones in the buildings, and only took pictures of diagrams that Dr. Lad drew when he invited us to do so.

It was a curated way in which we interacted with each other.

The point was that if you didn’t go along with this, you could disturb the experience for others and you would be asked to leave. The container would be broken. The rules we were given weren’t meant to be fatalistic and rigid—I hope that I am conveying that duly here—but rather, these are all things we did to ensure we achieved the same collective end: a healing, whole experience. The culture we created during the week facilitated mindful and meaningful connection to each other while being in the presence of an incredible teacher. That was the point of the seminar.

I hear a lot about “co-creating” our experience in the transformative dance scene and self-growth communities that I am a part of. Somehow, when phrased like that, the ask seems transient. Like, once the event or experience is over, the next won’t necessarily require to co-create. The events must come with directions. Maybe that’s just part of the embedded, hardwired narrative I employ as an American—that I don’t usually co-create. But the idea is not different from “making culture”—it’s just that the intimate setting of 50 people from around the globe who converged at the Ayurvedic Instiute made the ask of co-creation seem less transient, more necessary, because that’s what Dr. Lad inspired. I’m finding that “my culture is to co-create”—even I don’t call it as such.

Essentially, this is what we do, even when it’s just between two people. The exchanges that we have on an individual level allow us to make culture every day. The mindfulness we bring to those exchanges reflect a culture that values the space-holding for another person.

And while culture connects you to an identity, the power in that identity lies in your ability to change it; to let it go; to reconstruct the identity in a manner that serves you, and with that your community. Making culture is mindfulness in action.

On the last day of the seminar, there was a joyous if not muted mood among the attendees. We knew we had spent a transformative week together, and I believe many of us were considering how to keep up the spirit of the Ayurvedic Institute—how to implement dietary, lifestyle, and other changes for optimal health and balance. How to incorporate breathing, yoga, and meditation as Ayurveda suggests for each individual. Most of all, how to keep up the mindfulness in our interaction with the external world, knowing the sense of community that can immediately be stoked when we agree to act toward a common experience.

As I was leaving, I ran into Sarah. I knew it would be one of the last transactions I had with her. I wanted to profess my gratitude for her support and guidance during the week. We locked eyes in a comfortable way. It was a feature of interacting with her that I came to expect. It felt good, too, in the manner of validation that I had her full presence.

She touched her heart after hearing my offering of gratitude.

I touched mine when she said, “Thank you.”

That has become second nature for me—that when I am connecting with someone deeply, or being given deep sharing—I touch my heart. It’s become part of my practice to honor others. It is my culture.