Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Adieu. (from the light of the San Francisco Bay)

Me @ the Oakland Airport, where I drafted this post

I began this blog after having an experience with Ayahuasca.

Within that first journey, I understood that I needed to write more poetry as a means of communing with my soul. I also realized that I needed to take my work as an essayist seriously. I sensed it would be my source of income moving forward. I also felt a deep sense of appreciation for my relationship with my husband--while simultaneously understanding, and beginning the process of accepting, the deep truth that our marriage was most likely unsustainable long term. Related to this, I felt the importance of following my own intuition regarding my physical and psychological health, as well as my spiritual well being. I knew that remaining compassionate for others, while authentic with myself, was a skill I'd need to practice and honor in a way I had never before. Finally, I understood this process would take time and would be best lived through by focusing on each moment as it came--both open to its influence and grounded within a sense of my own truth.

Over five years have passed since that journey.

I am now moving through my divorce, stepping away from the leadership of my instrument company, embracing my role as a professional writer and attempting to care for myself and children in a healthier way than I have in the past. It's a slow, emotionally complex process, intensified by the fact that I am also on a journey with breast cancer, in its very early stages.

I am grateful for my marriage, and I am grateful for my husband's support of my freedom. I am grateful for all friends and family who have held space for me and my children as we've been processing trauma and moving into a space of gratitude and peace. I am also grateful for my caregivers at the clinic ACPM and for all the connections I've made on my recent travels through Las Vegas, Sacramento, Portland and Oakland.

With this post, I am retiring this blog.

Some of my best posts, and my NORML Mom series, will be available via My other writing will be available via my portfolio site Finally, I'm actively seeking supporters for my imprint BAMF Books, from which my full length poetry collection, Cancer, Or Something Like It, is forthcoming. Additional anticipated collections include Tales from the Deep and Dark Swallow. 

I'm going to conclude with a photo essay which fills in the gaps between the last months of my life and holds within it seeds of my future. Thank you all for your support.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Poetry & Politics (with a nod to Mary Jane & John McCain)

At my hotel window in legal Denver, CO
All things move slowly forward. Meanwhile, time also seems to fold in on itself as I feel my core memories being re-defined by the collective energy of all the other experiences I've stored in my cells--processed and re-processed with each passing era of my short, ancient life.

I can still see a house surrounded by unkempt, but intentionally placed, plants I've chosen to ramble there, good music and sweet smells inside, original art on the walls, smoke and sunlight in the air. Now, I want a covered, heated pool as well and a bog where the frogs, and snails, and salamanders can dwell in peace. This will come One Day.

As I've aged, I've realized that I have been co-dependent as f--k and also that I like a crispness in the air--partly because I look good in stockings and knitted hats but mostly because I like the sensation of walking under cold moonlight and coming home to a living fire. The hearth is the center of desire.

There is more progress for me to make yet--circles to close with grace, new creative empires to seed, improvements to my health, and stability to my wealth--in brief. When it becomes overwhelming, I breathe and remember how much bigger the world is than me and how far it has come in such a short time. As imperfect as our system is, there are persistent reasons to hope. Here are some imperfect, hopeful things happening near me these days.

1. At the Georgia Capitol today, there was a public hearing on allowing in-state cultivation of medical marijuana.

2. In Texas, a jury found a police officer guilty of murder after he shot and killed an innocent black teen. Up to this point, the precedent has been to let the officers go free.

3. In Florida, black progressive underdog candidate Andrew Gillum won the democratic nomination for governor. Meanwhile, in Georgia, Stacey Abrams did the same and also made history as the first black woman in the USA to ever win a major party's nomination.

4. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the US Senate will be contested during mid-term elections this year. I am voting on November 6, 2018 to turn congress blue.

Despite the culture of trauma, abuse and misdirected grief which persists in contemporary America (my treasured home, despite its many faults), I see pervasive evidence that destructive generational cycles are also breaking all around me. In his autobiography, the recently deceased senator John McCain wrote:

What an ingrate I would be to curse the fate that concludes the blessed life I've led. I prefer to give thanks for those blessings, and my love to the people who blessed me with theirs. The bell tolls for me. I knew it would. ... I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don't, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued success is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.

A controversial figure himself, McCain strikes me as having more class and compassion than many. I admire the man, just as I hope for the ultimate demise of the patriarchy which produced the platform from which he grew. Such is the way of things. May there always be more to come. I will continue documenting my journey here as I grow. For now, I'm including a few pics from my landmark trip to Colorado earlier this summer.

Thank you all for showing up and bearing witness to my stories. 

Colorado State Capitol Building

Downtown Denver, Union Station

In-flight Reading 

Irises Everywhere

Denver's LightHouse 

Mutiny Cafe

When I Found the River

Sunset Over the Rockies from the Train

Street Life on the Mall

Dorothy in Denver

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Harvest Time! Purchase Signed Copies of My New Chapbook via Etsy

Marriage, meets the Women's March, meets Ayahuasca in this fleeting reflection on coming of age in the American South by GA native Kelli Lynn.

I'm elated to have finally birthed Harvest, my first chapbook, described above. Since witnessing Ashley Judd at the Women's March last year, I am embracing poetry on my own terms and using it to give voice to movements (both within my individual life & within society at large) which I hope grow to be much greater than their creators. Please go to Etsy's BAMF Boutique or to Amazon to purchase your signed copy of Harvest.  A sample poem, "Allies," is photographed below.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Scattered Thoughts (On Power, Religion & Purpose in an Age of Trump)

After returning from the Tellus Science Museum with my parents and children, I head to the bookstore and begin eavesdropping on some kids talking rather loudly at the table beside me. One is doing Christian Cool—all James Dean swagger but without the whiff of drugs, sex or secular rock n' roll & without any awareness of the irony. It has to be a difficult act to maintain, grounded in repression. I'm heartened that the other two at the table don't exactly seem to be picking up what he's putting down—especially the young woman. She commands the conversation with real grace, holding space for friendship with both an open mind and reality checks. I see the same abilities in my daughter, and I am grateful these women seem more skilled than my peers at holding their own without burning bridges to the ground.

On religion, I have a few observations:

  1. Those with the most prominently stated faith in God often have the least faith in themselves. Personally, I have compassion for this feeling but anger for those who propagate it. There is no sin in being human. Demanding people believe in their inherent “evilness” or “failure” for the purpose of giving all over to a more “perfect” God may seem kind but ultimately is an act of cruelty which robs us the gift of forgiving, understanding and embracing our authentic selves with gratitude for life, in all its wonder and pain.
  2. When it comes to pious leaders, however, many define God in terms far broader than their parishioners. Talk to them long enough, and they seem to be spiritually agnostic people who choose to experience life through a religious mythos, while recognizing that this is genuinely one of many viable paths. I have compassion for them too, but I do question why so few share this truth with those they guide.
  3. Finally, there are people who consciously use religion for the purpose of manipulating others—to gain wealth, territory or psychological control. I wish I could say these few give a bad name to religion. However, they are not a handful who taint what could otherwise be sacred. They are instead parents of the movement to remove individuals from their personal relationship with divinity by mandating organizational control of a holy union.

As someone who came of age within religion and then rather nonchalantly outgrew it, a pillar of my approach to piety is to trust that wise people will ultimately find their own way through it. However, that approach felt safer when my country's leadership felt more secure. There is supposed to be separation between church and state in the USA. However, now, just past the turn of the 21st century, moderate church leaders helped pave the way to the election of Donald Trump—a controversial real estate and entertainment mogul known for objectifying women; promoting racist agenda; and removing or blocking industrial regulations intended to protect people and the planet. As president, he is an unqualified disgrace.

Critical thinking and a deeper respect for our inherent humanity may have saved us from him. Unfortunately, neither critical thinking nor respect for our inherent humanity jive well with religion. As a result, not only did many religious leaders make the major mistake of directly endorsing Donald Trump, they also made the mistake of thwarting the type of intellectual development which would encourage citizens to critically evaluate his platform.

I support an individual's freedom to know and experience divinity through religion. I recognize that it brings many daily comfort and a sincere sense of long-term security which sometimes is actually what inspires them to be their best selves. I want people to experience comfort, security and motivation to do their sincere best. I also recognize that, historically, religion strips people of their autonomy and their agency. Like drugs, it can be used responsibly as a tool for exploring life and one's individual role within it; however, mandating that it be the tool by which all people understand life and themselves is a dangerous act of oppression. In the aftermath of the Donald's election, especially here in America's Deep South, I am on high alert for signs that religion may be further overstepping its bounds.

I am also looking to everyone for common ground now. At the table beside me today, the young people were discussing tattoos, books, Kung Fu Panda, travel, nature hikes and their parents' stories. These are windows through which we can connect with each other—the art we enjoy, the spaces where we feel whole, the histories we share. I take heart in this. As long as we ultimately desire a world to grow up in together, we will evolve—moving slowly toward a more sustainable existence.

Will we actually make it there—to that point where our destructive tendencies no longer outpace our ability to live in harmony with nature and each other, as proactive members of a web of life rather than as a dominating force? Perhaps not. But trying will mean peeling back so many layers of repression that, even if our species ceases to exist, perhaps our souls will finally be free. Maybe that's the point.

The young woman from the bookstore today did not introduce herself to me directly, but she returned her chair to my table, looked directly at me and wished me a good night as she left the book store. I thanked her and wished her the same. Then I reflected on all I had heard, and I wrote this with hope that it will bring something positive to those who find it.

Some Reminders:

Humanity is young.

We are destroying our Earth and each other.

We are still capable of changing this.

Money is a tool which can be used responsibly, or abused maliciously, to influence the evolution of individuals and society, until capitalism ends, as one day it will.

Art matters.

Nature matters.

Science matters.

Our personal stories, rituals, mythologies and moralities matter. But what defines us as individuals is not the same as what defines us as a whole.

Race, gender and nationality matter to the degree that they shape the stories, rituals, myths and laws which define, confine and direct us.

We must pay attention to what we create, as well as to what we protect—when it comes to personal and cultural legacies, both new and old.

For more information about what I create and protect, please click HERE and HERE.

#MarchForOurLives Atlanta & The Myth of False Flags

Me & my children  #MFOL ATL
After Parkland, I marched with my family in Atlanta. As I've previously written, I support Americans' right to gun ownership. I also support the students who are demanding gun control. I am disgusted by the people who choose to publicly shame them. It is a tactless move which uses intimidation and mockery to attempt to invalidate the massacre in Parkland, the students' response to it, the viability of American government and the mountain of data which clearly indicates that 1) Gun control measures do lead to fewer gun-related deaths and 2) Gun control measures previously up for vote were squashed by GOP members who have received significant pay-offs from the NRA.

The people who denounce the students seem to subscribe to the general narrative that the students are being used as pawns by the far left to deny law-abiding adults access to guns so that the government can wield more power over the citizens in anticipation of a major, doomsday style take over. According to those who subscribe to this ideology, Parkland, and other mass shootings, did not actually happen at all but were rather “false flags” staged by the government to promote its own agenda.

The idea of “false flags” became particularly prevalent following the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Following what are officially documented to be terrorist attacks by way of militant, Islamic extremists aboard hijacked airplanes, many American citizens used the internet to generate and spread reports that the US government was itself responsible for the destruction and had deliberately staged it in order to justify military engagement in the Middle East and a war on citizens' privacy in America.

Father & Son #MFOL ATL
As a journalism student beginning my first year of university level study less than one month prior to September 11, understanding these attacks became central to my experience of adulthood. In the years spent exploring information posted across the web by multiple sources, I never found evidence to satisfy me that these attacks were set up 100 percent by our government. I do not, however, see our government as a benevolent force. I see it as a neutral force, with abusive tendencies, which will leverage imminent, or existing, tragedy to forward its own agenda when possible, as well as commoditize its citizens and capitalize off their backs. Government is not something to be trusted explicitly. However, it is malleable and can be held accountable for improving the well being of both people and the planet if citizens actively claim their right to participate within it—as the Parkland students, and a handful of other groups, are doing right now. No. I do not fully support everything they say. Yes. I do believe that some of the parents are claiming their children's battle as an attempt to re-engage with their own politically-oriented careers. However, I do not think that those factors devalue the movement as a whole or justify mocking its current leaders.

#MarchForOurLives is about more than gun control. It is about youth having a voice in government policy and about limiting the degree to which the lobbying arm of the NRA can purchase the loyalty of politicians.

Meanwhile, to the very strong extent that it IS about gun control, I feel #MarchForOurLives is an authentic effort not to remove peoples' rights, but to the call them to exercise these rights with responsibility—for example: requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance, receive an education, and pass a screen for recorded violent tendencies. For those still screaming “false flag,” I also must pose a few reality checks:

  1. People engage in smaller issues hitting closer to home prior to engaging in larger issues having a more widespread impact. I realize some people are concerned that gun control is a distraction from other policies. I feel gun control is an entry point for engagement with the government and inspires citizens to pay more attention to all policies over time.
  2. Should our government ever decide to attack us, the notion that it will be brought down by a small militia armed with AR15s feels ridiculous to me. That would be a time of fight, flight and large scale revolution during which all current policy would be tossed out the proverbial door and we would all find a new way to survive.
  3. Regarding point #2, governments historically turn in mass on their foreign inhabitants prior to turning on full-fledged citizens. Thus, standing up to America's rampant xenophobia and contemporary immigration restrictions now is probably a better way to guard against a totalitarian take over than fighting for the already limited right to bear arms.
  4. Evidence shows that Russia has employed people to pose as Americans on social media and to circulate memes designed to promote both apathy and chaos, in effect destabilizing our nation and opening the door to foreign leadership which I feel no Americans desire.
  5. Beyond all concerns about our government, we remain humans who will one day die. Many 9/11 “truthers” currently calling “false flag” feel that 9/11 did claim lives but that school shootings are completely fabricated events in which the alleged victims are paid and placed in witness protection. The fact that it is easier for some people to believe in detailed government and/or corporate conspiracies than in personal tragedy and death bears serious contemplation. Sometimes members of society really do become so overcome by their individual sense of pain and loss that they kill people, leaving more pain and loss in their wake. As I have stated in a previous meditation on gun violence, it is important that we grieve. For some, the current fight for gun control is a step in the grieving process, and it is important we honor it as such.

We have much to heal within the USA. #MarchForOurLives can be a step toward doing that, and I am proud to participate.

On a somewhat lighter note, this video by comedian Betty Bowers also speaks to the heart of America's gun control debate. Enjoy.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Being Human in America: Thoughts on Guns, Grief, Rights & Responsibility

My daughter. July 4th, 2017.
A few days after the latest school shooting, social media overflows with debates about gun control, as well as monologues sending “prayers and condolences” to Florida. As a thoughtful American human right activist, I feel inspired to share what I'm noticing within the fray.


The biggest beneficiary of the gun lobby in 2016 was Donald Trump, who received over 31 million US dollars. A series of other Republicans who have received anywhere from 130 thousand USD to 7 million USD are named by the Huffington Post in the video linked here.

These leaders have been paid, more by a single special interest group than what some Americans earn within a lifetime, to make it easier for more people to own more guns. This is not an example of NRA lobbyists championing the average American's constitutional right to gun ownership. This is a reflection of the degree to which political allegiances are bought so that specific industries can grow their market and profits—at the potential expense of innocent human lives.


More guns = more shootings. This conclusion comes from both common sense and consistent science detailed here and here . Since the amount of guns within the USA is record-setting, so is the number of gun-related deaths. The USA also stands out in that it is one of only three countries, alongside Guatemala and Mexico, which views gun ownership as a citizen's right rather than a privilege to be earned. These things are not opinions or personal truths. They are quantifiable facts about gun ownership, shootings and the US Constitution.


There are many people whom I count as friends, and even respect as human rights activists, who proudly take the position that gun ownership is an important expression of American freedom. They argue that guns provide many with a sense of personal security—against potential invaders, against government officials turned into totalitarians, against dangerous wildlife and (at times) against starvation. They also argue that guns can be used responsibly for sportsmanship. Some of them support ownership with greater regulation. Others take talk of gun control as a personal slight and are quick to make statements about how criminals will just seek out weapons on the black market and about how it is humans, rather than the guns themselves, which commit crimes. On one end of the spectrum, avid supporters of gun ownership will advocate for stricter security in schools and more discipline from parents and teachers. On the other, they will advocate for a culture filled with more love and less violence in the media—mirroring their liberal peers on pretty much every point except for the one which views guns as inherently symbolic of destruction.


In The Guardian's statistics about gun-related violence in America, a few things are clear:

  1. As stated already, more guns = more shootings.

  2. The USA holds a majority of the world's guns. 

  3. While there are enough guns within the USA to supply 88 people out of every 100 American citizens with a firearm, only 3 percent of American citizens actually hold the majority of guns in America. 

  4. While mass shootings are increasing and becoming more deadly, the vast majority of gun-related deaths have always been, and seem on track to continue to be, suicides. 

  5. All gun-related civilian deaths are massively out-numbered by those resulting from auto-accidents, plane crashes, illness or natural disasters.

One may reasonably conclude from this data that Americans aren't, by and large, a bunch of trigger-happy rogues, nor has the risk of venturing into a school building suddenly become more dangerous than the risk of riding on the bus to get there. Nonetheless, I feel it is easy to understand that gun-related deaths are less anticipated by victims and families and often have a uniquely gut-wrenching impact. After all, being shot to death is often the result of an individual or group's highly personalized aggression, fear, or hatred—whereas dying from a crash, sickness or natural disaster is a known, accepted and impersonal hazard which comes with being human.

My Conclusions.

  1. Being shot to death—like dying from a crash, sickness or natural disaster—is also a hazard which comes with being human. 

  2. Nonetheless, being shot to death is genuinely unique in that it is often the result of an individual or group's highly personalized aggression, fear or hatred. 

  3. Our society can take major steps toward shifting our culture to foster less unchecked aggression, fear and hate. However, this is a complex and nuanced process. Neither “all love” nor “tough love” will get us there. I once heard of “radical love.” That may be a start, but even it most likely isn't enough on its own. 

  4. Metal detectors and security officers can help make environments safer. These measures can also breed paranoia, increase despair and fail due to technical error and genuine human fallibility. 

  5. Evidence based data shows that increased gun control will lessen gun purchases and decrease shooting related deaths, even though guns are still available illegally. 

  6. Meanwhile, gun ownership is a Constitutionally protected right. In and of itself, the right to choose is unique and worth fighting to maintain—whether that choice relates to one's religion, gender identity, marital status, decision to abort, decision to homeschool, decision to vaccinate, decision to use drugs, or decision to own a gun. 

  7. When taking a stand for gun ownership, it is important as a politician to do more than take money from the NRA and offer your condolences to the victims of mass shootings. 

  8. When taking a stand for gun ownership, it is important as a civilian to understand that your right comes with inherent responsibilities—one of which is to respect gun safety and the many discussions on that topic without jumping immediately to the conclusion that logical concern over wrongful death is being purposefully leveraged against you. 

  9. Mass shootings are national tragedies which require mourning. Generally speaking, humans are ill-prepared to mourn, even though death is perhaps the one aspect of life we are all guaranteed to share.

Personally, I mourn the loss of life in Florida this Valentine's Day. I advocate for the right to responsible, better regulated gun ownership. I advocate for stronger school security coupled with dedicated counselors who are able to focus more on students' mental health than on test scores, detention and study hall. I advocate for gun safety education classes and mass shooting survival classes. I advocate for literature, art and media which illustrates the pervasive destructiveness of hatred, aggression and fear—while also showing a way to transmute this via social justice and radical love, for the benefit of both those who might suffer from, as well as those who might perpetuate, destruction. 

Finally, I advocate for better victim care. In Florida today, recovering people need blood transfusions, and the families of the fallen need a space to tell their children's stories and to receive unconditional compassion during a time of grief. For more on how you can step outside the gun-control debate and offer direct help to those in need, go here:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A NORML Mom Returns to the Capitol

Me w/ activists Kim Smith & James Meissner
Following my attendance of the town hall for the #Cartersville70, I headed to the Georgia Capitol to lobby for marijuana law reform. I had been there once before two years ago. Back then, I'd stood outside chamber doors holding a booklet about the medical benefits of cannabis. Georgia had recently passed a measure to legalize the limited use of CBD oil for treating a narrow list of approved conditions. Our hope as lobbyists that day had been to expand the qualifying conditions, as well as to add a provision allowing in-state cultivation.

When I returned to the Capitol earlier this February, the Georgia cities of Clarkston and Atlanta had decriminalized possession within city limits, and a few conditions had been added to the list of approved medical conditions.  While we still have a significant journey ahead, we were armed not just with the request that our representatives read a handbook and do something, but rather with the names of 10 EXISTING MEASURES for them to support:

HB 465 and HR 340 for Industrial Hemp

HB 645 and HB 764 to facilitate the cultivation and possession of low THC oil

HB 505 to halt the civil forfeiture practices detrimental to many people facing marijuana charges

SB105 for reducing penalties currently associated with marijuana possession

SB 295 for regulating the retail sale of marijuana

SB 296 and HR 36 to expand Georgia's existing medical marijuana program

SR 317 to authorize the study of medical marijuana in Georgia

Whether it takes days or years, some form of these bills and resolutions WILL be up for vote by Georgia citizens, and the majority of people reading this WILL EXPERIENCE an end to marijuana/cannabis prohibition in Georgia.

Peachtree NORML had planned a rally to follow the lobbying, but the permit was pulled one day prior to the event due to an increase in the prospective attendees. Georgia State Senator Michael Williams spoke out in favor of Peachtree NORML before the General Assembly and asked that we still be allowed to gather. While the number of attendees diminished significantly after hearing the announcement that the original permit had been pulled, a few of us heeded Senator Williams' call to come out anyway. Among those present were the typical mix of patients, parents, veterans and civil rights activists, as well as creative and corporate community leaders. Spanning a spectrum of political and spiritual beliefs, our highly personal experiences with cannabis have consistently inspired each of us to stand in compassionate solidarity. With Senator Williams among us, Atlanta musician and activist Aviva guided us in forming a circle, from which many stepped forward as individuals to share our stories and call for support. 

With real change on the horizon, this is a crucial time to step up and use your voice. Please be confident in telling your representatives and senators to end prohibition. You can get started doing this by going online HERE and discovering who your personal congress people are.

While NORML operates at both the national and state level, it is also important to become active within your city and county. For those who live in my area, I am presently working with fellow activist Melissa Leachman-Taylor to form an Etowah chapter of Peachtree NORML. For updates, please follow us on Facebook here. Also, please follow Peachtree NORML here for information about a re-scheduled rally in Atlanta.

Finally, let this post be like a seed. Share it, and watch the movement grow.