Martin Luther King Jr. Day: #WhyIMarch

Today, we celebrate a day that puts the present and future of our country into eye-opening perspective. Today, on the third Monday of January, we celebrate the honorable Martin Luther King Jr. and his fearless efforts to lead a life in pursuit of justice, truth and equality: racial equality.

He has been activists’ and aspiring activists’ role model for more than half a century. His legacy and life has been defined by the utmost courage, service and peaceful action that is still essential in hopes of victory among similar present-day struggles. The work is not done. It is not done for racial equality, sexual and gender equality, religious liberation and equality, for immigrants and those of varying political and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Though there are different forms of fear and violence occurring in face of present-day battles, the plight for racial equality and desegregation during the escalated tensions of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States was met with extreme physical dangers and hostility.

Today, we remember a man who demonstrated exceptionally relentless courage, compassion and most importantly, nonviolence during combat with opponents that presented him with minimal reciprocity.

He dreamed of peace, healing and community: noble values that the wellbeing and health of our country is in desperate need of today.

Today, and this week particularly, we continue the battle for equal human rights for all.

This Saturday, January 21, 2017, there will be what is projected to be one of the largest human rights demonstrations in the history of the United States: the Women’s March on Washington.

There have been criticisms that regard the march as non-inclusive or another act of “white feminism”.  Skeptics have defined the march as culturally appropriating or as women’s backlash in response to the first female president not being elected.

I have been volunteering with the Rhode Island Chapter for the Women’s March on Washington since the 2016 election, and I will be marching in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

I’ve spent every Sunday for the past 10 weeks with a group of passionate, intelligent women and men volunteers who are devoted to equal human rights. I’ve learned the short history and structuring behind the upcoming march, and that the four co-organizers are Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, a white woman, African American woman, Puerto Rican woman and Palestinian-American-Muslim woman, respectively. I’ve learned that these women have been listening to the needs, concerns and fears of participants in this march and trying their best to accommodate everyone for an event that is fully inclusive, supportive and welcoming of all in favor of human rights.

While there are still countless critiques, and four individuals cannot offer a full representation of the women in our country, it is a start.

And a start is what we need right now.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

The national mission, the Rhode Island chapter mission, and my personal mission are in alignment: that women’s rights are human rights but also, perhaps more powerfully, that all groups that were or were at risk of being silenced and marginalized in lieu of recent events in our country have a voice of their own, even if that means using mine to help.

I am marching for the groups of people who are at risk of being compromised by both directly hurtful or negligent, non-inclusive mindsets. I am marching to demonstrate that I will speak for them when they aren’t being heard, fight for them when they cannot fight for themselves and stand together with them to ensure that the progress our country has made in the last century is maintained and not destroyed. I am marching for Mother Earth and all of its inhabitants, because we owe them our gratitude and protection for all that they have given to us humans.

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Volunteers wrote postcards of support and love to the Islamic Center of Rhode Island during one of our RI WMW Chapter meetings.
I am marching because as a woman, I want it all. I want social justice, rights and ownership to and of my body, parity, respect and equality for myself, for the women who have fought before me, and for the women that we will be bringing into this world. I want this world to be a greater place when my own daughters and sons enter it, because that’s what my predecessors did for me.

And as a woman, I expect my male friends and family to do the same, with and for me and my female peers.

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Empowering artwork by local Rhode Island talent, Jess Cabral. Work available on EsJessa.com!
There is prevalent, underlying and at times blatant racism, sexism and discrimination throughout our country and as a white woman I can, at times, be blinded. I admit that. It has not been my socioeconomic plight that allows me to recognize intersectional discrimination in all its faces, but it is in my heart to do all that I can with the privileges that I’ve been born with.

There will be controversy, suspicion and disagreement regarding any movement of this size and subject, but there are good people behind this march who are trying to do a good thing.

There are people– people aspiring to act in ways that Martin Luther King Jr. did– people fighting the good fight, who are behind this march.

And what this country needs more than anything right now is community and coming together.

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” – Coretta Scott King

It was the honor, humility and dignity with which Martin Luther King Jr. fought that is most memorable and renowned, and it is those qualities that I will bring to my own battles, including the one this Saturday.

Let’s ‘Make America Great Again’ not by building walls to keep others out, but by embracing all of those within our reach already, and keeping them close and safe. Let’s redefine America, and remember that love trumps hate.

Stay good, and stay grateful.

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I am Ready, 2017

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I woke up this morning feeling like it was spring. Not in the sense of temperature, but rather in energy. I felt newness, refreshment, about-to and growth. I rested my selenite and amethyst crystals upon my dormant perfect-birthday-gift dahlia to bath in the full moon light last night, and I cleansed my own soul with a quiet night of self-care, self-learning, self-containment and self-love. I will be moving to California on Tuesday; a dream of mine for the past 4 years. Feeling overly inspired, appreciative and accepting of today’s springtime-feel callings, I found myself not packing for the future but ironically reflecting on my past. I have been blessed with opportunities to see the world, and I am sure that it is part of my truth and calling. The draw I feel to absorb other cultures is an inseparable piece and constant craving of my soul. These items are a combination of treasures I’ve collected from my own travels, and puzzle pieces from friends that have only fueled my anthropological love-fire. I am ready, 2017. For west, for east, for ups and downs and for pursuing all of these sparkling entities that send my soul into full-blast rocket launch. I appreciate all you’ve been, and I accept all that you will be.

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New Years 2017 revelation: if this stuff is pouring out of me, what point is there trying to hide it? Might as well embrace it and share it with the world, right? I’m kicking off the new year by getting more of my writing out there- particularly, my poems. I’ve jump-started my poetry page by adding a few more, and I will be posting a new poem (or 2! and some watercolor paintings) on the page every Wednesday just to break up your crazy weeks with a little love, heartbreak and life. Join me as I continue to serve slices of my over-exposed heart and my now, open-book journals of past & present in no particular order. I hope some of the feels will resonate with you all and bring some release in the way that writing them did for me.

“There’s no point in saying anything but the truth.” – Amy Winehouse

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Let Us Choose Light

In a very small town in the smallest state of the country, there is a tradition among my close friends and our families to celebrate the winter solstice. We voyage across the country and across the street to circle around a bonfire during one of the busiest weeks of the year. Add in a powerful gong ceremony performed by a talented local friend and her words to remind us of the untethered connection and symbolism between nature and our lives; the winter solstice is the longest night of the year and it marks the lengthening of lightness in the days leading us to summer.

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Sunset on the pond, December 24, 2016.

Past ceremonies asked that we toss a stick into the fire representing something that no longer serves us, and then another to wish something into our lives for the upcoming year. This year, in response to some of the uncategorized and disheartening happenings of 2016, we altered our performance. We reflected on our heavy year and focused on something that we loved about it. How can we incorporate those pieces of ourselves and our lives that we love? How can we cultivate more of that this year?

I thought about my whirlwind year: spending four months in South America, conquering my fear of singing at open mics, volunteering with my state’s chapter of Women March on Washington and my upcoming plans to move to San Diego (stay tuned for cross-country posts!!). With a whole lot of smiling and maybe even a tear, I wished for myself to continue following my intuition and desires despite unconventionality or others misunderstanding. My deepened relationship with my heart and intuition is after all, what I love most about myself- and if you know me, you may know my heart lives on my sleeve.

Perhaps for that reason, one of the many devoted mama bears and hostess of the annual celebration of light and dark, Mama Pilk, asked me to write something this year. At the conclusion of my poem, our gong spiritual leader voiced,

“You can only see the stars when it’s dark out.”

“Or when you choose to look up,” said Mama Pilk. And our circle squeezed together just a little tighter.

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The whole high school gang fireside and full of wine.

 

Two Thousand-and-Seventeen
Olivia Morrissey, Dec. 2016

Two thousand-and-seventeen.
I am 23.
Life has hurt me and it has scared me
It has graced me and humbled me.
Just as it has you all.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing bits of the world and I have grown up encompassed in endless love.
And this is what I’ve learned:

That happiness is gratitude and it’s about all you have than what you can’t see
And that love is the common tongue trans-culture universally
That it is so much more about who you’re with instead of where
And that peace comes from celebrating our differences rather than what is shared.

I’ve learned that true hope is not never having felt the darkness;
It is having been immersed in it and still choosing to see the light.
And strength is not being devoid of weakness;
It is how we accept our weaknesses and hold them equally tight.

I’ve learned that sometimes, things must hit rock bottom.
They must get to the lowest of the low; the darkest of hours
In order for them rise to lightness once again:
The winter solstice; karmic powers.

Two thousand-and-seventeen.
I feel a shift and a transformation
I find solace realizing the reason I’m here right now
To stand for the beautifully diverse people of my nation
It is why we’ve all found ourselves here; under the stars at this time
It is your call and truth to right now
As it is mine.

And it is often not what we’re dealt, but how we choose to react that makes all the difference.
So let us choose not what’s easy, but rather what’s right.

Let us choose hope. Let us choose strength. Let us choose each other. Let us choose love.

And let us choose light.