My first green burial workshop

I am presenting a workshop on establishing green burial space in Texas at A Natural Undertaking ATX in August. It's going to be a day full of everything you need to know about alternative death care, something I have dedicated my career in funeral service to.

Conservation burial practices and caring for our dead go together surprising well in Texas. Our laws are less strict about industry involvement, land is available for this use and well, there is a lot of it. Even for people who are just curious about green burial, who want to know if it is the right choice for themselves or their loved ones can benefit from learning about what goes into creating a space to bury the dead naturally. If we understand the full concept, we can more fully embrace the practice.

I'll be hosting alongside two other women in the Austin alternative death community who will be presenting on home funerals and death doula work. Visit our website for more details.

A Natural Undertaking ATX Workshop
August 26, 2018
Casa de Luz

Playing house

Right as Hwy 183 splits off towards Airport Blvd and 7th street, I looked at my phone and saw that Pump Project had started a live video of the artist talk I was on my way to. I knew I would be late but admittedly I did not think it would start on time, which is what kept me from turning around at several points in my drive over. I could have watched it at home, the live feed suggested, but I was already so close that I refocused my effort and put my eyes back on the road.

Arriving as the two artists, Tsz and Nat AKA Big Chicken and Baby Bird, were answering questions about their show The Door by The Garden, I couldn’t help but feel bad about my tardiness. Punctuality, when enforced, looks like evidence of good home training and I hated to think I was without it even among the most casual crowd.

Home training, that domestic sense that seems to be either completely missing or fully exploited with rare exception at events these days was partly the focus of their collaborative work which featured huge paintings on vinyl panels, smaller paintings on paper, furry wall hangings and plaster floor sculptures of headless creatures in various states of home life.

Many of the paintings featured a vessel-type creature that looked like a macaroni noodle, that most basic pantry item that has sustained millions with it’s cheap and easy prep. Along with it's familiarity, the creature played on our sense of direction. Even with the addition of legs, it wasn't always clear which end was the head and which was the ass. When it appeared to move forward, or have liquid sliding through it, you could just as easily imagine the motion happening in reverse.

In some scenes the noodle-being lounged in a pool, depicted on a platform not unlike the Barbie dream house toys where the sides of the structure are exposed to show the layers built into this play of luxury. In other scenes, it had legs and crawled hungrily around a pond of brightly colored nutrient that other macaroni creatures where feasting, or spewing, on.

The furry pelts that hung on the wall were cotton-candy colored tapestries alluding to the skin that might have once covered the black, headless dog sculpture-a focal point of the show. The removal of a skin and its subsequent display was a nod towards value and even costume, I felt, as I listened to the artists talk about the exploration of their identity as femme presenting women and their place within the domestic system. The dog was titled Won Coi, a Chinese term for abundance as well as a very common pet name in the country, cleverly exposing an obsession with attracting wealth as a sort of pet project.

The Mattel-like color palette of vibrant  pinks, purples, mint and yellows were enhanced by the many deep blue sections of the paintings and sculpture which the artists pointed out was influenced by the ‘blue screen of death’, the dead computer screen so many of this generation grew up understanding meant shit had gone terribly wrong. Like Ikea toys meant for kids who don’t have the space but want to play house, you can store your fantasies in an area the size of a computer chip but there is no telling when and in what form they’ll come out as.



Each night at Enchanted Rock we were surrounded by coyotes, storms, and gun fire however the sky above us remained clear, full of stars and little more than wind blew into our campsite. Coming back to Austin feels like we're now in the middle of what was off in the distance, with the latest bombing occurring a mile from where we picked up food last night. I didn’t have cell service or even battery life over the last three days to do little more then send a quick text back to Austin to say “I’m out here, love you” and I thrived in the remoteness of the park. My brother and I climbed up and down the sides of the immense granite domes, sat for hours on top of boulders that gave us a view of all the stolen land along which a line of cars full of desperate visitors sat waiting to get a chance to see the world as we saw it.

Most days we walked silently along the quartz-lined pathways, watching the sea foam colored grass blow in the hot wind. A tree behind our tent hummed all day as swarms of bees pollinated it’s blossoms. The energy from the rock was so stimulating that even though I hiked for miles each day, sometimes with 20 lbs or more of water and gear on me, I had trouble falling asleep. My dreams were short. I was awake for the most part.

For the most part is too little I realized after we got back and had eaten and played Rocksmith and watched weird Twitch clips when the alert came telling us to stay indoors because two young men were injured by another explosion in our area. Suddenly, the two ambulances and fire truck that passed us on the way home had a destination. The next few hours tried to compensate for the most part, of anything suspicious we’d noticed or conjecture on who was behind this. I sent a text to a friend who lived a half a mile from the explosion. I woke up to news that this may be a more sophisticated attack then they once thought.

At one point during a hike in the park, I tried to sit on a rock that a rattlesnake was lying under. I quickly backed off once my brother alerted me to it. We watched for several minutes as the diamondback slowly coiled itself into a tight heap in the corner. We went back the next day to see if it was still there. It was gone, but the nightmare of the bite and the crisis that would have unraveled lingered in our minds for the rest of the trip, still now that we're home.


death: a simulation

I arrived at Casa De Luz in the light rain of yesterday afternoon. The courtyard was covered in ivy, ferns, bamboo and stone. Birds chirped and a breeze blew through the space. I went inside the auditorium and found a small table set with a memorial pamphlet with my picture on it. My birth and death date (yesterday’s date) were beneath it. An empty sheet of paper was beside it. Both were illuminated by a small, flickering candle. A group of people began to filter in and sit in front of their pictures. We were all silent.

We were there for a Living Funeral ceremony lead by Emily Cross of Steady Waves End of Life, an Austin-based death Doula service. Typically I am very suspicious of staged emotional events, but I’ve gotten to know Emily and hearing about her experience becoming a Doula intrigued me. I’ve also felt more open to exploring the emotional side of death to deepen my understanding of final rituals.

To begin, Emily guided us through a meditation that focused on looking at ourselves in the picture and letting go of that image. On the empty page, we wrote our final goodbyes. I wrote a full page. I wasn’t as emotional as I anticipated. The room was now fully dark, our flickering lights all that moved.

When we were finished, Emily announced that she would be collecting our words and giving them to another participant to read. Before I had time to fully process what that meant, she handed me a flashlight and a woman’s handwritten goodbyes. I looked at the picture of the woman and the words she had written. I tried to begin, but I was speechless. I had to pause several times before I could finally proceed. I knew the woman was somewhere in the darkness listening. I had no idea who the people were that she was saying goodbye to, forgiving, telling them she loved them. I felt like a cosmic messenger, reluctant and humbled by this task.

Some people expressed regret at having wasted time, others reached out to those who already died, hoping they would be with them again. They left instruction on what to do with their belongings and how to take care of their beloved pets. I found I had trouble contextualizing what was happening, it was unlike the thousand funerals I have been to before in that is was so intensely about the present moment.

As I listened to my own words be read, I felt less judgemental about them than I usually am. However, I wished I had written more specifically about what I was doing right now. How I’ve been reading the blog of a classmate who recently became a widow and learning so much about grief and expression from her. How I was anxious about meeting a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. How one of the tabs open on my phone is literally to the dictionary entry for pathetic. Writing as though the next moment is death is very liberating. I felt detached, but compassionate toward myself. I was grateful for the darkness I sat in.

Finally, we laid down and were covered with a shroud, an eye cover and a single stem flower placed atop us. Emily guided us into a space of selflessness and then back into life.

“I hope you have a lot of fun tonight, because you’re alive,” she said before we departed. I left to go meet up with my friends, including the one I hadn’t seen in awhile. I gave her the flower that had been placed across my body. She asked if it was a funeral flower and when I told her it was we both began to laugh. When I told her it was from my own funeral it somehow seemed even more funny. We passed the flower between us for the rest of the night, opening up about various moments of despair and elation we’d recently experienced. There were moments of silence during which we just looked at each other.

“You all look the same,” my friend remarked, as though the passage of time should appear more evident. I realized I hadn’t looked at myself since I saw my picture on the memorial pamphlet. I actually couldn’t form an image of myself in my head at all. I laughed again, this time with the great relief of knowing I could just be that.

Look for the flower arrangement

This paper jam article in the New Yorker hits on several topics I have been immersed in lately: the limits of technology, pleasure in work, problem identification and...flower arrangements, even symbolic ones. I am not surprised that it is a popular article this week; it's endearing to read about engineers who clearly love their job of redesigning Xerox machines that ultimately succumb to the paper jam. This 'problem' has always existed and because of the unpredictability in air flow behavior, it likely always will. No amount of engineering prowess or tech innovation applied to it has made it go away. However, there seems to be an acknowledged frivolity in the fact that we can just print copies on demand. The workers profiled in the story delighted in creating temporary solutions. More than being entertained or enlightened while reading, I felt jealous of this detail. If  you read enough literature on flow-state mentality or even skim worker psychology articles, you'll understand what I mean. What some people wouldn't give to have an unending problem to solve.

Flowers in private

To my knowledge, there is only one book that closely examines De Stijl artist Piet Mondrian’s largely unknowable collection of naturalistic flower paintings. Mondrian painted these at the beginning of the 20th century until the late 1920’s, mostly for money and mostly, as the author notes many times, under the guise of indifference.

Done in watercolor and ink, the works are heavy with mood and desire, if not a bit romantic in their overall existence. The book, aptly titled “Mondrian: Flowers” by David Shapiro does what it can with very little documentation about this side project of Mondrian’s. When considering the flowers in relation to the abstract line paintings that took him all the way to the top, it’s understandable why Mondrian refrained from discussing them in a meaningful way. They would have taken over the conversation with their unreal beauty, a concept Mondrian appeared to attack in the abstract, painting black line across black line on the canvas until only the distant idea of nature was evoked. If the discussion could be contained to the boxes of solid primary color, or better yet, the absence of it, Mondrian could be free to paint what was missing and he could do it in private.

Shapiro finds proof that Mondrian continued to paint these flowers even when he wasn’t being commissioned by advertisers or publishers. Mondrian would paper the walls of his studio with these floral images to show friends and his notebooks are full of many motifs of the same single stem of chrysanthemum, a favorite of his, or a lily or a rose. They are thickly outlined and alone, deep strokes of color moving up and down behind them. Rarely did he paint bouquets or arrangements. The bloom is isolated, itself a study in symbolism and the symmetry that appears in nature without mans intervention. It is also appears deranged. There is an unspeakable gloom in even the brightest burst of flora, as though Mondrian can’t forget that death is creeping up the stem. In one study of a sunflower the petals feather forward, the stem droops over heavy with age and the gigantic blossom center appears as a downcast eye. This private exploration of decay clearly struggles against the sterile block paintings occurring simultaneously and much more publicly.

Spirituality was on Mondrian’s mind, as his involvement in theosophy is well documented, and Shapiro finds these flowers to have been an extension of his spiritual practice. He writes that this “symbolism provided him with a spiritual refuge from an obsession with mere facts of vision that permitted him to engulf cubism without engulfing himself.”

It is likely that if Mondrian had tried to become a serious painter of nature, he would not have had much success pushing the form forward. The work is something of a lesser Van Gogh and lacking imagination. However, it's important to recognize that Mondrian probably knew this as well, yet didn’t care. Here he was painting for himself, despite what he told others, and extracting meaning from it that he could apply elsewhere, onto a style that was lacking it. He was able to transfer the task we typically place on flowers to express our emotions and give us pleasure onto panels of blunt abstraction. Like the timeless quality of flowers, Mondrian’s influence endures to this day.


In all caps

I spent about an hour yesterday attempting to locate an email from a friend that contained a compliment to me, given by one of their friends regarding some writing I had done. When I could not find it, I checked my DMs and the texts on my old phone to see if it had actually been sent there. It was in none of those places, leaving me to believe I either deleted it or dreamed it. The mental state I was in yesterday (fragile) occurs with enough regularity that I can't imagine I would have deleted such a valuable message. The people involved in it create work I very much admire and if I am to believe I was in an emotional place at some point in the past where their acknowledgement didn't mean enough to me to keep the container it was sent in, then I guess I will have to settle with believing I fantasized the whole thing.

I did however come across a message I had written to this friend asking for their address so I could send them a gift. I could not for the life of me remember what I sent them when I read their response saying how much they loved it. 


Some indication

In a rather tossed-off moment last week, Greta observed that I did not really care about gravestones when she mention that there were several cemeteries along Highway 71 just south of Fayetteville, AR that I might stop and look at. I didn't object at the time but the comment sat on me like moss and I couldn't figure out if she was right or not. In a sense, she is. For all of my enthusiasm for cemeteries as places of memory and dedication, I don't immediately seek out stone markers that to tell me about the space. I'm thinking now about the afternoon in which I drove over to see the Confederate cemetery she told about which lay in a woods near her house. I pulled up to the gate but didn't go beyond it, the white marble statues were plenty visible from the road. Right outside the gate was a family cemetery, smaller but just as walled off, inside of which large headstones with lettering sat. I could read them as I walked by them to inspect a few smaller, misaligned headstones that were planted among the leaves and branches. "Sally" was the only word on one, the others were too worn to read or had fallen face-down into their sunken lot. These were the slave graves Greta had told me about. I gently stepped around whatever stones lay on the ground, careful that my footsteps avoided going back in the direction from which I came.

The day's disgrace

Once, sitting in the back of a car that was driving along the pacific coast near the Santa Monica pier, I had a discussion with another funeral director friend of mine about what we had never seen. We’d seen a lot of traumatic death, but neither of us had seen a body hanging from a noose. We both agreed it was an image we were most uneasy with. The drama of it would almost surely bring with it the feeling that this had been a mistake. No matter how intentional the act was, the shock of it would make it seem wrong. I have been thinking about the person hanging from that tree in Japan and if they felt their life was cheap. To then be cast as the symbol of someone else's failed attempt at dark humor, their failed attempt at seriousness, at any sensitivity at all is an even more hopeless reality to wrestle with. However, if I think about what a powerful light that person’s body became in death by exposing the ugliest parts of the most hollow human, the parts that until that moment were unreachable, I am comforted once again by the power death has over all of us. It matters very little if the person being exposed (or confirmed) as a monstrous capitalist  understands that they look one million times worse than the person in the tree.
Their ignorance should not be our focus. We need to protect our dead, not be protected from them.

Cremation in India, liberation through the head

Filmmaker Sai Pramod Mohan described his first experience with cremation to me. Sai grew up in India, where cremation is a much different experience than what we have in the United States:

"My first cremation experience was at the age of 14-15 years, when my grand father passed away. He was 75 years, super healthy,  active and was living with my Grandmother and her mother in a very small spiritual town in South India. I remember my dad telling me that grandpa passed away in his sleep and we are leaving immediately with no return plans in place. By the time we reached, there were a few other relatives mourning next to my grandpa who was covered in a white shroud, his eyes closed, big toes tied together with a piece of cloth and left uncovered so people could touch them to pay their respects. The body stayed there for 2-3 days, while some of my  family members were busy with preparations for cremation and others sat next to the it. 

"On the day of cremation, grandpa was bathed, covered with turmeric, dressed in new clothes and brought to the patio of the apartment in a chair. A priest chanted hymns, and instructed my uncle-the eldest son and my dad to perform a small ritual as the other family members formed a circle around them. A wooden stretcher covered with a fresh white linen waited on the street for grandpa at the end of the ritual. 

"Once on the stretcher, four men including my dad, and uncles picked it up and the procession of men walked towards the cremation grounds as the women of the house wailed staying put on the street. There were 15-20 men in total including me and my cousins who were around my age. We enthusiastically threw petals of flowers on grandpa as the elders shouted a distinct chant that loosely translates into "There's nothing permanent in this world". By the time all the elders took turns carrying grandpa we reached the banks of the river, where an undertaker with a well framed pile of logs was waiting for us. Grandpa was moved to the top of the log pile and each of us started covering him up with more logs as the priest's chants continued. My uncle, being the eldest son had a log of fire in his hand and circled around the pyre a few times before the priest instructed him to light it up. As the flames picked up, we stood by them watching the embers form and take grandpa away slowly. Being a very restless kid, I remember asking my dad how long till we go home? The priest, who overheard it chuckled and explained that we are not supposed to leave till "Kapala Moksha"- i.e till the bursting of the skull which signifies leaving of the soul from the body. I wondered how we'd know when Grandpa's soul leaves but was fascinated enough to not ask anymore questions and just stare at the rising flames. After a few minutes, a loud thud sound reverberated through the flames. I knew that grandpa's soul had left us, as we prayed one last time before walking back home." 

An evening post

A holiday card arrived in the mail mentioning how nice it was to see a little bit of my life through my infrequent Instagram posts. A comment made during Thanksgiving expressed confusion about what I might be interested in as far as gifts go based on looking at that same feed. I did a tarot spread for myself in which judgement was the first card I drew, crossed with the nine of wands, the full weight of my desires. I'm not trying to be too reflective this year end, because I did so much of that already this year. Outwardly, I was slight and confused. Inwardly, I was working overtime. But I did the work and these last couple weeks have felt uncommonly clear.  I believe it started on the solstice, which I spent outside a tiny Texas town at a bonfire on a friends land. She moved out there when her folks died. She recently bought the town grocery store. We drove past several holiday Trail of Lights displays to get there. None were spectacular but you could still see them coming a mile off. The line of cars was longer than necessary as well. But our bonfire was bright too, even though it only attracted us and one fat cat. It was a nice display of heat in the long darkness and emitted a primal, nurturing feeling. It took several logs, two old rocking chairs and a year's worth of unopened mail from my friend to make that thing burn. My hair smelled like smoke for two days afterward, as if to remind me that nature has its own hazy attachments to people that aren't sure why they're there. 

Here's to a new year of space, protection, providing, creating, trust and rest.


More cremation insight

When I was in Germany over the summer, I saw many picturesque places that would have been perfect for scattering cremains. I also visited Holocaust memorials, so I wasn't sure how the country viewed cremation today. I was able to get some insight from a funeral worker from Germany:

"I don’t think people make a strong connection between cremation and the Holocaust. Maybe because the horror is more in having so many dead bodies at a time. The were hundreds of mass graves too. And we all know the pictures of that too. Hundreds of half naked, worn out bodies thrown into a huge roughly dug hole in the ground. Maybe these pictures are even more “real” than the ovens because there is no technical and abstract solution as cremation in between."

"So as long as it goes one by one everybody is fine. And there are strict laws and intelligent technical solution to make sure it’s one persons dead body at a time and nothing gets mixed up. Sometimes that causes problems too. We had already two times a case of a mother with child where the family wanted them to be buried/cremated together..."

"But because of WWll our traditions around death changed. Everybody lost so many people that they couldn’t cope with it the old way. So the whole funeral tradition was outsourced to professionals and people tried to have as little contact with death as possible." 

"Scattering ashes is not allowed in Germany. So if you stick with the official options it’s on a cemetery (grave or columbarium), the sea (in a special sea run that dissolved within 30’), under a tree (in special forest cemeteries). No ashes on the mantelpiece in Germany.
Except the city of Bremen actually. They [are] allowed to have to urn at home for up to 3 years. In general each federal state of Germany has its on legislation on how to handle bodies. That makes it a bit difficult sometimes."

Maybe tomorrow

Being left without imagination so early in the day, as I was this morning when I sat 'writing' for an hour, gave me a sense of despondency I was even less prepared to deal with. I tried writing again when I got to the office but gave up and tried just stamping documents. It was hard; I had to read numbers and put them in order quickly. I have no patience or efficiency, my work is fraught and slow. I indulged in deeply hateful thoughts about my aimless last few months.
I tried to explain to a coworker who was watching me that I lack the confidence to stamp quickly; I can't just trust that I know the correct order of numbers! She said maybe I should make it my goal to be a faster stamper.
If there is no holy ghost for all mankind then there most certainly is a small one for me, evidence here by the joke made of my present situation. I wish there was a less humiliating way to learn focus and pragmatism but I just can't think of any right now.

Important cremation insight

The other day I received a response from author and LA historian Richard Carradine to my inquiry about scattering ashes as Disneyland.

"Yes, many people over the years have been caught trying to scatter the ashes of a loved one at Disneyland. It's apparently happened so many times that the park has HEPA vacuums and a protocol for such incidents. Obviously there are cameras everywhere in the park and in every attraction, so as soon as someone starts to spread a foreign powder, they can shut down the attraction or area immediately and clean it up. Even if someone covertly deposits the remains in water like on a boat ride undetected, most water-systems are drained and cleaned nightly.  One Cast Member told me that its a shame because ultimately that loved one ends up in the trash. As for spirit energy connected to this, there are two ghost stories linked to this idea of spreading ashes. The Haunted Mansion is said to be haunted by a little boy (seen most often in the unload area), who according to legend had his ashes scattered on the ride by his mother. This was presumably many years ago before they started watching out for such behavior. It is said that his ashes blended with fake dust throughout the attraction and went unnoticed. There is also a little boy that has been seen riding in the boats of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride for the same reason. Although two identical ghost stories connected to two different attractions is possible, some believe this story is true of one attraction, and that over the years it has been falsely attributed to the other attraction to explain the identical nature of the two "boys." Who knows. I hope that answers your question."

Be sure to check out Richard's new book The Park After Dark for many more deep cuts from haunted Disneyland.

It cost nothing

I read this poem today on Craigslist free stuff and it made me think of you:

neighbor has this couch by curb street and I have this stuff by curb / its now gone as of last night
an Ice chest etc
neighbor next has old treated picket fence which r gray color and about 23 years old


    An hour, a day

    Wasted time has been a concern of mine for/since/probably my whole life, acutely felt on Sunday when it's late afternoon. I am not alone in this but the delusion is that I am and my agitation starts to look like compulsory actions-eating, shopping, scrolling. Usually I would be recovering from literal 'wasted time' but its been a few years since that occurred and I am grateful for it. 

    My idea of productivity wasn't achieved over the long holiday weekend and in a desperate attempt to make use of what was left of the fading daylight I sat outside to measure the hour in stillness. It helped that it is gorgeous today, easy to sit uncovered. I tried to go to a more 'special' spot where we could both hike and sit, but it was crowded and broke my immersion of being the sole human on the planet. In my backyard, I set my timer for an hour and watched.

    My brain activity ebbed and flowed, replaying the previous nights events, jumping forward into my doubts about the future. When I was able to focus on the present, I could smell the foliage on the air, the barbecue in the neighborhood, hear the rooster next door, the flap of a birds wings, a telephone ringing twice within the hour. I could see, and I could see I wasn't looking.

    I have a lot to do. That is about all I can comprehend at the moment. I also didn't make it the full hour, as Warren came out to tell me something and we walked around the yard using the landscape to depict our plans. He picked up a half circle of chopped wood to use as a base, I clipped stalks of lavender to fill an empty vase I had been thinking about filling for months. Problem solved.


    Selective memory

    Late Thursday night a friend tweeted at me asking if I remembered the band we had attempted to see at the Mohawk the last time we hung out together. Neither of us could remember anything about it other than that the audience felt hostile and we left early. The bad energy is all that sticks in our minds and its driving us crazy trying to figure out who it is. If you can help, some clues are: indie/folk music, song about astrology or something celestial, seems like it was just a female with a guitar, 2010/2011. All leads welcome!

    One other thing I remember is us driving under the overpass downtown on 7th and her telling me about a guy she just starting dating who had a pet iguana. They are married now and I think she is expecting a baby. As harrowing as it was to identify a completely black spot in my fairly recent memory, it somehow also brightened my perception of that time of my life. Until Thursday night, I almost exclusively thought of it as very lonely and I am pleased to be reminded of the moments that weren't.

    The Longer we can stay there

    Before I got out of my car this morning, I listened to Joe Biden finish his thoughts on the current political chaos. He seemed angry. The reporter's final question was if he was going to run in 2020 and Biden pounded his fist on the table while growling NO. He said his mission was to honor his dead son and give hope to people in a similar situation. He didn't say it but what I heard is that he wanted to grieve. 

    I feel for the people trying to move on while grieving, particularly right now, as very few examples of sanity and hope appear in the news or in culture. We have a baby as a president and we acknowledge a random celebrity as the 'sexist man alive'.  I'll admit I forget what a luxury it is to revel in the absurdity of the days news, to push against the edge of my understanding and compassion with curiousity and still feel safe. That seemed to be the place the reporter was coming from when she asked Biden that silly question, though she tried to blame it on public pressure to do so. 

    It reminded me of this piece I read last night about the ever-changing meaning of childhood. The author of was making the argument that as we fail to manage as adults due to things like lack of sustainable employment, we cling to ideas like an idyllic childhood as though it really ever existed. I also see this taking place when it comes to dealing with grief, we think we remember a time where it didn't exist or when it was more acceptable to feel our feelings-our childhood, basically. The longer we can deny our grief the longer we can stay there.


    I did the thing

    Late last week, after I had stood in front of the Austin City Council, rushing through a presentation on why Austin should accommodate green burials in their cemeteries, it finally occurred to me that my imposter syndrome appears in moments of both prosperity and trauma.

    This causes me to push away from the positive momentum I’ve built or heal from the pain I am dealing with. It’s not a groundbreaking revolution but I do see it as progress in terms of my mental health. At least now I know part of what is going on.

    The rest of what is going on is out of my control, which I realized when I looked around the room waiting to address the council. They do not give feedback nor do they express anything that looks like encouragement or discouragement while you talk. The woman ahead of me gave a passionate plea for kindness in schools and sang a song in French as a parting expression of this. It was moving, but in the vortex of emotion it went nowhere. I realized my voice would fall just as flat.

    I did it anyway as it is important for me not to hold onto any expectations of the outcomes. I appreciated the exercise in public speaking; the chance to share my vision with city leaders who may or may not give a shit. It is on me to continue to follow up, making the presentation public and sending it to the cemetery manager. All these things I want to create or to heal from are only powered by me and I continue to be amazed at the way my brain will sabotage my ability to do both.

    Even then

    I watched a performance called Dueling Doulas tonight that asked questions to audience members related to death and dying. One of the question was "if you knew you were going to die in two weeks, what you do?" Everyone had their mind on who they would see and what they would say and all I could think about was how I would still be wondering how I will die.