Daily Archives: January 3, 2018



(For the ancestors)

no-one from no-where whispers, ‘what does it mean to matter?’



Welcome, You Who Were Not Allowed to Matter

Welcome, neglected children. Ghost children.

Welcome, you who knew no limbic rapport with mom. No steady eye contact to nourish your constancy, nurture your: “I exist. I matter.”

Welcome, precious Black Lives.

Welcome, survivors of neglect, of abuse, of attachment trauma.

Welcome to the ghost people, slipping by unnoticed.

Welcome, you who were marginalized, invisible-ized, genocided, institutionalized. Welcome, you who were enslaved.

Welcome, you without a home; welcome, you who are not home in your body.

Welcome, autistic people, borderline people, dissociated people.

Welcome, communities that never knew collective limbic rapport, warm eye contact from outsider-oppressors. Your humanity, unacknowledged.

Welcome, children of parents too pressed by life and death struggles to give their babies limbic rapport, nourishing eye contact.

Welcome, disembodied ones; forever denied your matter.

Welcome, all. Let us begin.


What Would You Like Me to Know About You?

I am quick to despair.

It seems I do not leave a trace:

I phone and my call is not returned;
I text into a void;
I email but my no one responds.

Long, pervasive silences.
People are busy, overloaded, overwhelmed, forgetful– I know that.
Still the silence erases me.

Without frequent contact, without memory cues;
I forget who I like;
who likes me.

When my voice is not heard;
my eyes are not met;
my touch meets no resistance;
I leave no trace.

I forget myself, my accomplishments.
The sounds I make, the words I write, the work I do.

No legacy is built.
No home, no security.

Nothing sticks.


Nothing sticks.

Our actions leave no impression, not even on us.

We forget our history, forget what we won;
Forget what we lost.
Forget how we shaped the world.

We stand on the rooftops, holding handwritten signs. Waiting for mercy. Or death.

Our voices are not heard, our eyes not met, our touch meets no resistance; We leave no trace.

Why bother?
Why not give up,
settle for less than nothing?

Thank you for telling me your truth, your struggles;
your *What.*

Next, let’s look at your *Now, what?*

What Do You Want To Take Away From Our Work Together? 

What Do You Want to Feel, to Be, to Do That You Cannot Yet?

What I Want to Be:

“I want to be real.
I want to exist.
I want to matter.”

What We Want to Do:

Complete something

Love and be loved
Meet and be met
See and be seen.

What I Want:

I want to want. I want to know what I want.
I want vision. I want eyes alight with vision.

Welcome! Hooray!
Such good things to want!

I am here to be your ally.
I want you to have all this–become all this.

The first step is to visit your story/stories of origin.

Beloved Ghosts, Tell Me How You Began  
Tell Me Your Ghost Stories/Stories of Origin


We were the disembodied hands, attending your every need. 

Oldest daughter, family drudge, I existed to serve.

We were kidnapped, taken to residential “schools,” where they erased our words, our selves.

I cried, but no one picked me up. 

We called 911, but they never came to our neighborhood.

I did not bother them, hoping for some crumbs of love.

We were put away in camps, far from anyone’s eyes. 

They never saw my gender. No matter how clearly I revealed myself.

We were put away in reservations, far from anyone’s eyes. 

My father wouldn’t meet my eyes. Unseen, I did not exist.

We were put away in prisons, far from anyone’s eyes. 

I stopped breastfeeding; I could taste her resentment. 

We were put away in institutions, far from anyone’s eyes. 

They told me I was a burden. So I made myself small, transparent, silent.

They could not see the unique beauty of our minds.

My mother could not reflect me back to me. 

Everyone saw the video, but it did not matter. Not one cop was convicted.
Did no one see him or hear his cries? 

[Those uniforms contained bodies, bodies that bruised his body, stopped his breath. Why didn’t those bodies perceive his flesh–his matter?
How did they lose their senses? What makes an ear, an eye, a nose disregard another being’s matter?

My father could not reflect me back to me. 

Economic refugees, climate refugees, we sought mercy. The only refuge you allowed us was to hide for the rest of our lives.

When I made myself invisible, I didn’t get hit.

Colonizers could not reflect ourselves back to us.
(The land they colonized was “uninhabited.”)

A whisp of myself, I make no matter.

Immaterial ghosts, we do not matter.

And now, here we are (here we are not).

Thank you. Thank you for letting me witness your truth.

Now it’s time to name the adaptations, the survival strategies your ancestors developed. Claim the superpowers you birthed in your personal hell.



How Did Trauma Shape You?

How Did Neglect/ Attachment Trauma/ Exile/ Solitary Confinement/ Cultural Genocide/ Existing-only-to-serve-others Shape Your Body/Behavior?

I learned to serve, to appease, to erase my self.

We answered to the names you thrust on us.

I learned to pretend, to pass, to blend in.

We learned to perform, to entertain, produce.

I learned to ask for nothing;
to ask most gently, charmingly, most patiently for food-air-water-space—

–We never asked for space;
we learned to do without.

We met our needs with sawdust and imagination;
We dreamed other worlds.

I learned to wait ‘til my mom got home; wait for scraps of food and attention.

We taught our own babies to wait.

I taught myself not to cry.

We mourned, we honored, we buried our dead far from your desecrating eyes.

How we made it.

How I survived.

How our children came to be.

Thank you for telling me your stories.

Thank you for letting me see you.
I see you. I hear you.

I sense your body asking, “What does it mean to matter?”
Such a good question, body! We will set about finding out.

Next month, Part 2: Honoring & Befriending Our Survival Strategies.

You can schedule an in-person or video Somatic Coaching session with Dr. Vanissar Tarakali through www.vanissar.com



(written in October 2017, during the Northern California fires.)

Are you living, ever more intimately, with uncertainty?

As the climate crisis hits my home, I write with lungs aching from wildfire smoke.
With fear for my parrot-in-a-coalmine.

Grief as I witness Sonoma County, my future home, gasp and reel with unspeakable conflagration and loss.

There have been many days of helplessness and confusion. Many nights of soul and internet searching.

You, too?

As more of us join the ranks of house-less folks, climate change refugees, economic refugees, housing refugees, healthcare refugees;

As more of us lose the abundance that we were accustomed to: reliable shelter, possessions, healthcare;

As order gives way to chaos;

Uncertainty is our collective dance partner.
[She always was.]

Who knows what her next move will be, in a minute, in an hour, in a week?

What can we hold onto, how do we dance this ever-shifting, emerging dance?
I have more questions than answers.

Here and there, answers show up, some written by a wiser, calmer me.
Answers in the form of Resources, Practices and Mood-Mindsets.

My Heart asks,

What can we do in these times?
How can we trust ourselves and the universe?


Question: What Can We Do in These Times?


Befriend Uncertainty 

Living with “I Don’t Know”

Embracing a Vast Perspective

Prepare to Lose Everything

Become a Nomad

It’s time to get skilled at fold-up-my tent, pack-up-my-stuff and go. On a moment’s notice.

Shed the Unnecessary

In synch with this time, it feels urgent to shed what is unnecessary, including:

  • Any non-essential possessions that possess me;
  • The need to be right. The need to let everyone know I am right.

For example, I am weaning myself from the subtle/unsubtle bickering on social media about who is right, who is the most correct, who is the kindest, most thoughtful, most inclusive, most sensitive person or group of people.


Let Go

Take Good Care of You

Emotional First Aid

Get Unstuck

Love Yourself (& Your Body)

Offer Refuge; Be a Refuge

Offer Refuge to Others

It is urgent now, and will continue to be necessary to provide refuge.

A place for folks to rest, and eat, and be clothed.

To tremble and unwind from trauma.

It’s not just time to offer a place of refuge.
It is time to BE a refuge, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.

Each of us can be a refuge of kindness and patience and generosity.

What can you share?

Do you have an extra respirator mask?

Can you listen kindly and patiently to someone who is distraught, confused?

Someone who has less composure, less serenity than you have (at the moment!—you may be distraught tomorrow!)

You can provide clothes or shelter if you have them to share.

But if you don’t, you can provide prayers, eye contact, a steady voice.

Any of us be an expression of generosity and kindness, wherever we find ourselves.

If you find yourself in hell, look to your left, to your right.

Who is here with you? Are they scared, like you?

You can be a loving presence that says, “we are in this together.”

Question: How Can We Trust Ourselves & the Universe?

Trust Ourselves

Finding Home in Our Bones

You Are a Force Of Nature

Trust the Universe

Welcome Triggers as Your Spiritual Practice

View Disruptions as Sacred

Can we live, ever more intimately, every more tenderly, with Uncertainty, our ancient, brand new dance partner?

Can we follow and lead, lead and follow?
Can we create beautiful new forms and ways of being?

I believe we can.
I believe we are.

May fire, air, earth and water transform and heal us all.

If you would like to experience Somatic & Intuitive Coaching with Dr. Vanissar Tarakali, email to vanissar@vanissar.com


This article is a repeat. Two repeats, actually.

With a twist.

The twist is that I am offering two articles together to highlight a compelling

The articles are:

You Are Worth Fighting For: Autoimmune Disorders and Self-Love


10 Ways Shame and Blame Hurts Social Justice Efforts.

As I re-read them both, a metaphoric question arose:

Are social justice movements suffering from collective autoimmune disorders?

Autoimmune diseases are characterized by the body attacking its own cells, tissues and organs.

Are we attacking ourselves?

Is “calling out” culture a symptom of a social justice autoimmune disorder?

Do we mistake activist community members for the enemy, and ruthlessly dispose of them?

Is a hostile internal atmosphere alienating precious community members?

I believe social justice projects and movements are at risk for all of this.

From Micro to Macro, Love is the Antidote

When I struggle personally with autoimmune conditions, the antidote that best supports my wellness is the consistent practice of self-gentleness and self-love.

I am inspired–and relieved–to witness several social justice projects embrace collective versions of this antidote:

Movement Strategy Center chooses to Lead With Love:


Black Lives Matter embraces self-loving Guiding Principles:

“We are committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with with one another.”

Sins Invalid commits to Principles of Disability Justice, such as

Commitments to Cross Disability SolidarityInterdependenceCollective Access, and

“Collective Liberation…where no body/mind is left behind.”

We can nourish our social justice community members, and call in our allies.

We can cut ourselves some slack and give up perfection.

Alexis Shotwell endorses this in her book Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times.

For Shotwell, letting go of personal purity means cultivating “an attitude of self-forgiveness” and liberation “from feeling like we have to do everything ourselves.”

In this moment of political and environmental crisis and dis-ease, I find both my blog articles to be timely and relevant:

Our bodies are being stressed and pressed like never before.

The need for sustainable, love-based social justice movements has never been greater.

But if one of these paths to healing calls you especially today, trust that.
Take care of it.

We need you. We need us.

Wishing us all ever-growing love and wisdom,


You can schedule Somatic and Intuitive Coaching appointments with Vanissar through www.vanissar.com