What I have learned in the 18 years I’ve been utilizing the phenomenal cannabis plant and the last 4 years of advocating for its use and legalization is that we all have a trauma we are healing and a truth to speak, and that there is individual as well as collective strength, healing power and liberation in connecting communities through telling our stories.
After getting involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012 I co-founded two multi-disciplinary coalitions to create public education around the issues I am passionate about. In 2013 I gave up two jobs in childcare and education to pursue monetary reform and cannabis legalization activism full time. I began lobbying my congressional representatives, speaking at community board meetings, canvassing the streets of New York City and Long Island, and co-hosted free public events for the cannabis activism community in NYC. We created a community for people who are passionate advocates in a movement that empowers women, queer people and communities of color. Veteran activists came out and taught the new blood of the movement about the history of the work that paved the way for our generation. I got to help organize the NYC Cannabis Parade for 2015 and helped spark a new wave of public smoke outs in Washington Square Park, a tradition which began during the Yippie era of the 1960s and ‘70s. My former partner and I raised over $10,000 in online donations for our coalitions, a difficult and humble salary to live on when you’re putting all of your own resources into building an effective grassroots campaign, but a significant amount for autonomous activists with no financial support from within the ranks of drug reform organizations.
For the three years that I engaged in direct action and direct democracy, some lessons in resistance rang louder than others: To succeed in changing the conversation, changing stigmas, changing policy, whatever the goal is, we must utilize a diversity of tactics. To change the system we must work both outside and inside of the established paradigms. We must be both radical and rational. And above all, we must not underestimate the power of using our own voices and bodies to tell our stories, to effect change and inspire more people to do the same.
That last point of using one’s own voice has never come easy for me. The truth is I resisted the limelight and the power of my own voice for a long time. I spent a lot of my time doing research, making phone calls, making signs and holding a camera and allowing someone else I perceived as more experienced, more educated, more eloquent and worst of all, more deserving of the opportunity to be the spokesperson for my contributions to our work. When other people sought to raise me up by expressing my talents or value I often paid for it in resentment and being gas lit in arguments with my collaborator.
It wasn’t until the end of 2016 that I became more earnest in my quest to liberate and heal myself that telling my own story began to feel like an imperative. I am a survivor and I am ready to own it. I am healing myself and I am ready to tell the story of what that looks like. I am ready to be the change I want to see.
This starts with an honest admission. I am human. I am flawed. I make mistakes… all the time. I am my own worst enemy. I get baited into arguments I know I shouldn’t have. I spend entirely too much time worrying about the past or future and not being present in the moment. I am learning to reconnect with my inner child and love myself so that I may love my fellow human better. I am growing. I am changing and yet remain the same person I have always been since birth. If teaching young children has taught me anything about the human condition it is that we are much more powerful and able to heal ourselves and bounce back from pain than we give ourselves credit for. Children have innate understandings about this that we completely forget about in adulthood, until we see it reflected in an encounter with a young child and we are reminded, even if we laugh it off as “the things kids say”, we know we were once just as fearless and wise as they are.
The cycle of human knowledge always comes back around. But it is fleeting. The one constant truth is change. We must embrace it to really let go.
This affinity I have for throwing myself into uncertainty and leaning into the lessons of the universe has led me to Boulder Colorado. Here is where I have begun experiencing a renewed sense of awe for this thing we call life because of the generosity and compassion from my fellow Kindreds and the synchronicities that bridge isolation and community. Here is where I have experienced a renewed connection to self and source through exploring meditation, dance, and new friendships. Here is where I have begun cultivating my passions and deeply reflecting on the blessings I have and have always had in my life, despite any and all struggles I have encountered. Once I landed here a new process began cycling though my mind and body. The process of self healing. A journey of self love and compassion I have never given myself permission to have, because saving a romantic relationship was always more important than saving myself. That all changed with distance and perspective. I now know I am worth the effort I have given to so many others before. And I now know I can use my healing as a way to heal my community as well, and create spaces in which others can explore their truth and power.
Originally posted on http://obliteratedatoms.tumblr.com