Grounding My Love by Xochitl Alvizo


I love living in a second-story apartment. Having a view of Los Angeles, of the palm trees, the expansive sky, the distant mountains, and the city lights of downtown, makes life feel bigger, more full of possibilities. In the struggle of transitioning my life back to L.A., the view from my second floor apartment helps make me feel ok in the world. I’m in love with Los Angeles – the land, its topography, its sky, its desertness – and even its traffic. Beside the fact of sometimes being made to arrive late somewhere, I don’t mind being in our famed L.A. gridlocks – I don’t mind being in the slow moving flow of cars. I kind of enjoy being among the thousands of other folks sharing the collective experience of trying to get someplace. Traffic becomes for me a leisurely time when I get to do nothing else but enjoy the city.

Plus, the freeways – I love them! Have you ever driven on one of L.A.’s sky high on-ramps or carpool lanes? It’s like you get to fly. You get to be up in the sky among the top of the palm trees, with all the other cars and buildings off in the distant view. I would drive somewhere just to get onto one of our sky-high carpool lanes, I swear. Just recently I merged onto the carpool lane of the 110 North from an on-ramp I had not taken before, a magnificently long single-lane on-ramp that took me high up into the air, and I immediately thought, I need to remember this way so that I can drive it again sometime.

So despite the difficulty of my transition back to Los Angeles from Boston, where I lived and built community for eleven years, it is the city, the land/place of Los Angeles with all its idiosyncrasies that has been my stability and joy; and living in a second-story apartment has felt critical to that. I cannot, nor have I wanted to, imagine living on the first floor.

I couldn’t imagine waking up and not having my coffee by the 2nd story window where I stand and enjoy seeing my city first thing in the morning. Or, when I wake up extra early, getting to see the colorful morning skies right from my bed (another reason I love to live on the second floor – so I can always leave my curtains open). Every morning, as I stand before the view of my city from on high, it’s like it speaks to me and reassures me that – things will be ok, look at the expansiveness of life, it’s all going to be ok.

In the turmoil of transition, of trying to establish a new life in Los Angeles, it is the city that has been my comfort and stability. But of course, life moves us toward change, and recently I’ve had to think about the possibility of moving. And moving in itself is not a bad thing, but it has tapped into a fear…what if I can’t find a second-story place in my neighborhood that I can afford to live in? How can I live without my city companion in full view?

~ ~ ~ ~

I have been trying to slow down these days. In the past few months I noticed how destination-oriented I live. Always with my eye, energy, consciousness directed at the next thing. I noticed how I move constantly with an orientation toward the immediate-future and, worse, never with the experience of feeling that I have arrived. There’s always the next task/due date/place/or person I’m supposed to get to or meet. A continuous restlessness and anxiety of not having yet arrived…of always trying to, but not even sure how or to where, what, or whom I’m supposed to be arriving. I became more aware of this modus operandi of mine these last few months and I don’t like how it feels.

~ ~ ~ ~

I have a friend who is staying with me at my apartment for a few weeks. She is a poet and artist whose words you might have read here before, and whose work I have written about before as well, Edyka Chilomé. She is grounded, slow moving, and has a much more spiritual orientation to living than I do (an understatement of grand scale). It has been a gift to have her company and easy conversation. Being in her presence the last couple of weeks, and seeing how she moves in the world, which is so different than how I move, has been a learning experience. Witnessing her way has inspired me to practice slowing down and being more present.

So, one afternoon last week, as I was preparing for a speaking engagement, I decided to go outside and do my reading while walking around in my garden. It was early evening, and even though the sun was still out, it was a little chilly. So I decide to sit on the ground, on the mulch between my raised garden beds, knowing that it would be a little warmer there. I was reading Mary Daly’s “The Women’s Movement: An Exodus Community,” which I often read in order to get my writing juices going. Reading Mary’s words, as I sat on the warmth of the ground, I looked up and around and had a tremendous insight.

The earth is expansive. Being close to the ground, to the plants, to the green, the brown, the yellow, the orange of the earth, filled me with a sense of the fullness of life. Life on the ground is expansive – it is bursting with infinite possibilities.

I don’t just need the sky, I need the earth. And no matter where I live, I know I will have access to both, and I’ll be ok.


I have arrived
I am home
in the here
in the now
I am solid
I am free
in the ultimate
I dwell

– Thich Nhat Hanh

 

My view from below…

 

Xochitl Alvizo, loves all things feminist, womanist, and mujerista. She often finds herself on the boundary of different social and cultural contexts, and works hard to develop her voice and to hear and encourage the voice of others. Her work is inspired by the conviction that all people are inextricably connected and what we do, down to the smallest thing, matters; it makes a difference for good or for ill. She teaches in the area of Women and Religion, and the Philosophy of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality, at California State University, Northridge. Her volume, co-edited with Gina Messina-Dysert, Women Religion Revolution, is available through FSR Books. 



Categories: Earth-based spirituality, Ecofeminism, Feminist Awakenings, General, Mother Earth, Spiritual Journey, Women's Voices

Tags: , , , ,

21 replies

  1. I love this post. Your love for the skyline, for place mirrors my own. I am overjoyed to read that looking out over your city brings you the same kind of pleasure that looking out on my brook and forest brings to me. There is something about these words of yours that resonate: “The earth is expansive. Being close to the ground, to the plants, to the green, the brown, the yellow, the orange of the earth, filled me with a sense of the fullness of life. Life on the ground is expansive – it is bursting with infinite possibilities.” I think this is true….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, I really loved this post: how you described your feelings and view from higher up, your observations about your friend and yourself, your insights. I live very quietly on a narrowboat in rural UK, still I don’t always work with and to my own rhythm. When I do, I get everything done, easily and happily. When I don’t, I get stuff done, but with some tension, and my creative work isn’t as good. But every day the rhythm is different and so I have to alter my idea of the best way to work or live. To listen to my inner sense of need and peace, not the pushy pressuring thoughts… Thank you, and wishing you all the best with work, moving, life, etc.

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    • I’m so happy to meet you in this virtual world, Rachel. Thank you for your comments and compliments. I definitely resonate with what you say about ones own rhythm of work, not always having access to it, and then the need to listen to oneself. I’ve just recently begun the intentional practice of listening to myself (or of trying to *learn* to listen), as you say, that “inner sense of need and peace, not the pushy pressuring thoughts.” I likewise wish you all the best. I saw your website – I love what you do and how you are living. If you ever want to submit a guest post to be published here on FAR, please know you have a standing invitation to do so! [https://feminismandreligion.com/contact-information/]

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much! It’s all a work in progress, learning how to operate ourselves and navigate through life, how much to listen to others and when to be quiet and turn inwards. Thanks for checking out my blog and for the compliments. Thank you very much for the invitation. I would happily write something, are you looking for anything in particular topic wise?

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  3. I’m not sure I exactly love Los Angeles, but I’m glad to live in SoCal. Long Beach is a bit homier to me, and it seems safer, too. I know what you mean about those sky-high freeway transitions. Every time I go from the 91 to the 605, I say to myself, “Flying lessons!” and zoom up and around and down again. The southbound transition from the 10 to the 57 is like that, too. Flying lessons! And the expansive gardens here in SoCal. Wonderful. We’re not flooded. We’re growing and greening and blooming. Thanks for the gorgeous photos.

    See you at lunch tomorrow. I’ll show you some of the beautiful spots here in Long Beach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it – “Flying Lessons!” I know exactly what you mean. And I’m going to start thinking that now too :) And, yes, looking forward to our lunch tomorrow – and to experiencing your favorite parts of your city!

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  4. What Sara said! Beautiful post. As a lifelong resident of the Northeast, I had heard terrible things about LA. I was told I would love San Francisco and Northern California but not the Southern California. The Northern coast is indeed breathtaking. But to my surprise I fell in love with LA. I have only visited both places, but there is something about LA that touches my heart, particularly the desert plant life.

    It is now intensely lush and green in the northeast. To see big sky, I have to climb to a view point. I am intensely moved by the generosity of the plants. Expansive indeed. And I have California poppies beginning to bloom in a tiny desert-like garden I’ve created around a rock in the middle of the yard.

    I trust you will ground and soar wherever you are, dear Xochitl!

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    • I love that you loved L.A.! But yes, many people, especially east coasts folks do not like it much. I do hear that a lot. And how awesome that you have a tiny desert-like garden in your yard – that makes me smile. California poppies are gorgeous, bright, little things! <3

      Liked by 1 person

  5. LA and surround is my original home. Sometimes my bones literally ache to be there! Here I am in the middle of Texas, but security and family keep me here (quite important at 77!). So, I can only be there in my memories. Lovely article!

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    • Oh wow, Deanne, I can imagine how that is true – the ache for your original home. In the first 3-4 years of living in Boston, I realized I had to make the intentional choice to fly out here 3-4 times a year because I missed it so much. I needed to be back in my city to, ironically, re-ground myself. I realize too that much of that had to do with the cultural connections and diversity that exists in L.A. that was really missing for me in Boston. But as you know, Boston eventually became a second home for me – and now I miss it too!

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  6. Thank you for this remarkable essay of city insights. Each time I’ve lived in a city (Denver, Kansas City), the most I could handle was 18 months and I had to escape to rural rentals among the trees – you’ve provided an evocative window into how some people resonate with living in a particular city, even love it! This is quite astonishing to me and yet, somehow … you (and others) live, love and thrive in the cities you adore. I have a friend who is a homeopath and curandera whose home all her life until recently was LA and, like you, she loved her city, had an extensive garden. Blessings!

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  7. Thank you all for your comments so far. I am a little love crazy about my city and also understand how it is not everyone’s cup of tea. And on the flip side, it has been a growing area for me to understand that I also need to nurture and be connected to the earth, Mother Earth, and to stay grounded. In many ways my current learning is about strengthening my sense of self – my connection to my own be-ing – and realizing that the earth will be my teacher in that area. Thus, my need to “ground” my love there too. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a beautiful post. I suspect that wherever you go and live you will find a way to be “a little love crazy.” In fact, I think that is a major part of the secret to life especially in our modern day where we tend to move around a lot. I remember a quote from back in the day, I think it was considered a zen saying although I don’t remember the source “wherever you are, there you are.”

    Also a fabulous Thich Nhat Hanh quote. I hadn’t seen it before.

    Stay “love crazy” my friend, stay “love crazy” and be a beacon for us all. Mahalo, mahalo

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  9. Mmmmm I love that last few lines, and the imagery… I love to lie on the ground and feel the way it seeps into me, reducing inflammation markers, lowering blood pressure, boosting immunity, all effortlessly gifted to me by the so-called “humble earth” just in exchange for me lying down on it. <3 <3 <3

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  10. Xochitl, there is simply nothing like a view. It is pure magic. I have friends who have had a view of various beauty from their past two flats, and now they have to move and I don’t know what kind of view they will have, but I have so treasured the photos they post. Your mountaintop lens seems to delve into the transcendent divine we experience when we can both see far, and very, very near. I was particularly struck by the ecosystem when I was last in SoCal. How I wish I could have seen you! It is so very different from New England, and breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.

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