Nourishment for women and men, Raspberry Relief is home to interviews, meditations and unconventional insight that makes your soul say aaaah.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Emergence of the Natural Shaman (Bienvenidos, Alberto!)

photo by my friend Wendy Ritchey of 

I look up to see a gigantic foam structure towering over me. It’s the bust of a female gymnast obtained by my husband C. back when the Olympics came to Altanta and marriage was still something I vaguely thought I’d do when I “grew up” and completed middle school. The gymnast is flanked by weathered Blue Meanies and a Yellow Submarine crafted for a Turner Broadcasting tribute to the Beatles. Since then, these sculptures have been carted back and forth many times to and from Atlanta’s Lake Claire Community Land Trust where they’ve graced the stage at the Peace and Love Fest and other musical gatherings. It was at one of these that C. first introduced me to Candler Park and Little 5 Points, areas that have since become my homes within the city. My other more constant homes are a loft built within the same warehouse where the gymnast balances in the rafters and a wooden house my husband built right across the railroad tracks where trains pass like an industrial river through the night.

C. has been active with Atlanta’s arts underground for almost two decades. However, his recognition as a key element of this scene occurred less frequently within Atlanta than within its far rural outskirts, where the warehouse sits at a crossroads pivotal to the South’s defeat in the Civil War. When he first moved his scenery business here, he was an anomaly with long dreaded hair, tie-dyed shirts and a utility kilt. Now, locals ask him to run for mayor. He’s become a regular part of the landscape around here, like one of the hearty wild flowers that spring up beside the tracks. One of his strengths is to mine the cultural underground for seeds and then plant them in unsuspecting places and people. Communities form around my husband. They gather at the shop, as they have today, for batches of smoked vegetables and chicken. They create artwork and seek inspiration that will help them through bouts of depression, poverty and general transition. They express a spectrum of excitement, disappointment and gratitude. The latest community is stronger than any I’ve encountered to date. They have united over steel—or, more specifically, the way steel can be made to sing.

My daughter beside our "industrial river"

In my mind’s eye, I envision cultural underground communities functioning as webs rather than isolated singularities. A leader emerges who trains, both directly and indirectly, individuals to become potential leaders of their own collectives, which all remain linked in some way to the parent community. The leaders are not at the top of a hierarchy in the traditional sense. Rather, they function like spiders, resting calmly at the center of the web, gracefully weaving and re-weaving connections as needed. If my husband is one of these weavers, then Alberto Roman lives at the center of the web from which C. takes his greatest inspiration. I finally met Alberto for the first time last Tuesday. As seems to so often be the case with me, I was darting out the door. Then I changed my plans. My daughter had an apocalyptic meltdown. My son soiled his diaper. Alberto offered to go, but I insisted he stay and bear witness to the storm of which I am the eye.

According to his Facebook profile, Alberto is a Costa Rica born former substance abuse counselor, probation officer and hospital resource specialist who has also spent decades exploring humanity’s connection to the Divine via his involvement in sacred ceremonies which utilize his experience as an instrumentalist and natural healer. Alberto’s degrees in psychology and philosophy relate to his spiritual work. However, Alberto tells me that his greatest moment of inspiration struck when he was around 9 years old walking to the end of his driveway. He became filled with a pervasive sense of joy that he felt compelled to share. At this point in my blogging journey, I would like to share some of Aberto’s spirit with you. Light a candle & some incense. Prepare a pot of your favorite tea. Then listen to the interview linked below. Motivational speaker and parenting expert Bob Lancer does a fantastic job of helping Alberto articulate his vision for an emerging culture of the natural shaman. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trial and Tribulation: My Take on the Anthony Case

Nancy Grace's propensity for sensational news makes me question her mental stability. As a result, I followed very little of her coverage (and other media coverage) of Casey Anthony's landmark trial. Instead, I checked the highlights after the verdict had been made, and it seems to me that much of America has been swept into a media frenzy and is jumping to major conclusions. Personally, I am caught between A) wishing all discussion of this issue will simply dissipate and B) feeling inspired to provide people with a new perspective on the tragedy. The second tendancy has prevailed, so read on for my personal opinion of the case:

To my understanding, Casey Anthony allowed her daughter Caylee to die in a pool because she wasn't watching her. When Casy found her child, she freaked out, dumped the body in the woods beside her house, made up the story about how Caylee had been kidnapped and then pretty much tried to fake her daughter's kidnapping and murder by going so far as to look up details about creating specific injuries in a frenzy following her daughter's death. She even attempted to place duct tape on her daughter body and then ripped it off in what must have been a moment of clarity, grief and disgust. Casey is most definitely ill. However,a group of jurors deemed that she is not the "party mom" who murdered her child to have more "party time," as much of America has framed her to be, and I believe those jurors are probably correct.

A mother who deliberately harms her children is easily villified. Villifying her can also become fodder for commercialized news & entertainment because people are thinking, "I may not be a great person, but at least I'm not THAT bad. That woman is TERRIBLE." However, if you consider the idea that Caylee did tragically die in a pool while unattended, then this humanizes Casey just a little too much, and makes her seem just a little too relatable to all the moms whose kids have unknowingly slipped out the back door. After wrapping that thought around your mind, think about the familial and social factors that may make a woman actually believe it's better to fake a kidnapping & murder (as Casey did) than to simply report her child's horribly accidental death. The conversation gets very complex, quite sticky, gravely important and not nearly so suitable for info-tainment. The media points to Casey's infamous "party pictures" as evidence that Casey was seeking a party lifestyle. I think they may be just as easily held as evidence that she'd cracked after finding her deceased child and was filling her mind with as much fluff as she could to keep from going more insane with grief. All told, the case really makes for a pretty deep sociological/psychological​ study, but I regret it is just going to go down in history as a sensationalized event.

At a minimum, I think all parents have at least 3 things to learn as a result of this incident:
1. Do not be a person so filled with fear that you turn your life into a nightmare.
2. Pay attention to your children's whereabouts.
3. If you have an above ground pool, remove the ladder after use so that wandering 2-year-olds can't fall in.

That's my stance. Air your thoughts and move on.


Please read my thoughts about education on Kate Fridkis' brilliant blog Skipping School. Please leave comments on the post, and take some time to check out her awesomely original writing about learning outside the box.