<![CDATA[You Are Wonderfantabulous! - Blog]]>Mon, 14 Nov 2016 08:46:24 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Imbolc Blessings!]]>Mon, 02 Feb 2015 15:12:15 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/imbolc-blessings]]><![CDATA[A New Year's Blessing]]>Wed, 31 Dec 2014 15:37:30 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/a-new-years-blessing
New Year 2015 Blessing
I wrote this blessing on New Year's Day this year and it started my year of writing blessings.  It's still a great way to bring in the new year, so I've redone it for 2015.  


I also made postcard sized calendar magnets with it, which you can order for $6.00, shipping included.  (US only- international shoppers contact me for options)


$6 USD

New Year's Blessing Magnet
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<![CDATA[Bush Notes: Becoming Banachinesi]]>Mon, 08 Sep 2014 20:51:03 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/bush-notes-becoming-banachinesi
Art Time in Kabunda
Eliza is the one grinning so big on the far right, barely in the photo.
On Friday, I was reading this great post by my friend Crys about putting heart into your email newsletter and about how interesting finding out the nicknames of her email subscribers was.  I got a surprise at getting mentioned, because I’m that outlier she lists that even Google can’t identify- Banachinesi.  I realized that the story of how that became my nickname is one of those stories that adds a layer to my experience in Zambia, but I haven’t told it here.  Maybe you won’t find it as funny or sweet as I do, but I need to tell it anyway. 

I’ve written before about the kids in my village and how they were my best friends, best teachers, and my family away from home.  One of those kids, Eliza, age 9, loved to tell me outrageous stories to make me laugh.  My Bemba (the local language) skills were good enough for survival, but I was still mostly at caveman level- “me need water” or “you eat vegetables, good health”.  Luckily, kids are more patient with this kind of communication than adults.  Eliza’s stories had to be limited to concepts we’d both understand, so they were about food and local people and places.  One of her favorites was to tell me that Brent, the volunteer who had been there before me, was going to sell bread in town for the equivalent of $20/loaf or more- it changed each time she told it.  I would act shocked & ask her who would buy such expensive bread.  She’d answer with the names of all the other Peace Corps volunteers she knew, since they were the only people she assumed could afford such prices. 

The fact that I was a 24-year-old single woman without kids was unfathomable to these kids.  They start to get married by 16 and most of the moms who lived near me were my age or younger.  This led to much speculation about how I must really have kids back in America who were waiting for me to come back.  And eventually, Eliza would tell me a story about my kids at home.  I’d ask her what their names were.  “Mary…. Chilufya…… and chinesi”.  This got loads of giggles.  Mary is a normal English name and Chilufya is a typical Bemba name, but chinesi is not a name.  It’s the word for Chinese cabbage.  So I’d exclaim “Chinesi!  I’m the mother of a vegetable??!”  And she’d laugh and say something about not eating my baby.  That was a running joke for us for a while and all the kids got a real kick out of it.  The other two names would change, but the last was always chinesi. 

In Bemba, parents are known as Ba na (mother of) or Ba shi (father of) their firstborn child.  So my real Bemba name now that I have a child would be BanaTemwa (it literally means Mother of Love, which I’m pretty thrilled about) (yes, I did plan it that way).  It was a natural progression for one of the kids to think to call me Banachinesi at some point.  I actually answered to it and after the laughter faded, it was stuck good.  Some Peace Corps volunteers who visited heard it and thought it was hilarious, so they started calling me Banachinesi too.  And once I started dating Joshua (my husband), he called me that too.  He still does, once in a while, and it always takes me back to those days of giggling by the river with the kids in my village.  It never fails to make me smile and wonder how they are.  Every email I get from Crys is full of wonderful internet gems but also a reminder of a different version of me that I miss being even though I love being BanaTemwa now most of all.      



In Love & Light, 
Banachinesi
Raven Signature

If you want to explore your dreams and have a good laugh while we do it, please check out myWork page for more info on how we could work together.  Or go  here to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.

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<![CDATA[The Echoes of Rape Culture in My Life -#yesallwomen]]>Tue, 03 Jun 2014 20:29:58 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/the-echoes-of-rape-culture-in-my-life-yesallwomen
#yesallwomen
**Trigger Warning- this is an frank discussion about rape culture's impact on my life, so proceed with caution.** 

I didn’t think I had a reason to join the #yesallwomen postings because I, thankfully, have not been sexually assaulted.  But I also understand that EVERY DAY of my life, that status could change.  Even when I’m 95, it will still be a possibility, since sexual assault is not about how young and hot you are, but about your proximity to a depraved mind attached to a body stronger than yours.  Then I realized why I want to add my voice to this chorus- because that possibility is something I’ve always lived with, understood, and tried to mitigate, just like all the women I know.  And now that I have a precious daughter, I’m pinning articles on how to best protect your kids from sexual predators, and I see how all-encompassing rape culture is and it pisses me off and lets me know now is the time to NOT be silent- maybe if enough of us speak up we can make a change. 

Rape echoed through my life before I was even born.  My mother was raped by her father from the time she was 11 until she was almost 13, when she told her mother.  My grandmother (who I believe was also abused by a family member when she was young, but she’s never said so) didn’t protect my mother- she apologized to my grandfather and stayed with him.  He didn’t touch my mother again, but she lived in the shadow of her rapist and faced the fear of rape every day until she married my dad at age 21. 

The echoes continued as my mother tried to protect me by never letting me be alone with my grandfather, by telling me about good touch and bad touch when I was very young, and by explaining the mechanics of sex when I was 5, so that if anyone tried to do anything to me, I’d know how to tell her about it.  And when I was old enough to understand- I think 8 or 9- she told me her full story because she desperately wanted me to understand that any man could hurt me, even those closest to me.  I HATED my grandparents after that, even though my mom had forgiven them.  I eventually forgave my grandmother and tolerated my grandfather, but it had a profound effect on my understanding of the world and personal safety as I dealt with the knowledge that there had been and still was a rapist at all our holidays and family events, from the day I was born until he died when I was in college.

(SIDENOTE: My mother has always amazed me with her strength in sharing her story and her passion for   helping other survivors of sexual abuse.  She’s done amazing things, despite her parents.  Yes, I got her permission to share this portion of her story before I published this and she even helped me edit it.) 

Not even church was safe from the echoes.  When I was in my early teens, there was a man at church who always told jokes and said inappropriate things, including things that were on the borderline of sexual.  As I got older, his comments became more and more directed at me and my friends and more lewd and crude.  He said these things even in front of our parents, always as a joke- “Hahahaha, no need to get offended, we’re just kidding around- haha” – but I always felt uncomfortable around him.  He was a ‘deacon’, a well-respected member of the congregation, brother-in-law to the preacher, with a daughter a few years older than me.  No one ever told him not to say those things, it was just acceptable for a man to make 'jokes' like that.  I learned that you just put up with it and make sure you keep away from men like him when you can and bring a friend when you can’t. 

The lessons I learned early helped me protect myself and others from real and potential treats.   In college, I took a class that included a Spring Break trip to Scotland.  It was a lovely opportunity to learn and see a whole new culture.  Our group was a nerdy bunch- most of us weren’t big partiers or rule breakers, but the drinking age there is 18, so the group cut loose in the pubs.  Except me- I’ve never been comfortable drinking in front of people I don’t know and trust- it’s one of the echoes that rape whispered through my life, always keeping me extra vigilant**. 

(**Another SIDENOTE: I am NOT saying that women who are raped when under any drink or drug influence deserved it.  I AM saying that because of the rape culture that says it’s not really rape that I lived in fear of being taken advantage of in that way.) 


One night, in a tiny town in the Outer Hebrides, we were the only ones in our hostel’s bar with an out-of-town all-male construction crew.  One of the girls in our group, usually very quiet and timid, got quite drunk and was dancing in a world by herself.  One of the men started dancing with her and my spidey senses tingled a bit, so I kept an eye on them.  Soon he started almost carrying her towards the rooms that weren’t ours.  She could barely walk and seemed completed oblivious to where she was headed- she didn’t even know the name of the man escorting her away.  I stopped him and refused to let them go.  He got very nasty and balled up his fist to hit me.  Thankfully, two of the male members of our group noticed and came over to lend a hand.  Our group ended up hiding in our rooms for the rest of the evening, away from the angry man who didn’t care that she was not able to give consent for what he planned.  It was a sobering experience for all of us, especially her, when she realized what had happened the next morning.  And it triggered an awful memory for her roommate- who had experienced an assault- she kept thinking she heard that man coming up the stairs for them.

Those whispered echoes keep me awake at night, now that I’m a mama to a precious one-year-old girl.  My whole life is now about protecting her from all the possible harms that I can, which includes sexual abuse.  My Pinterest parenting board is full of articles on how to teach your kids about strangers, words to use for private parts so that strange words will be apparent, what behaviors from family and friends are too friendly, and signs of abuse.  It pisses me off that I’ve had to think of these things, but we live in a world where the reality is that I’m a REALLY lucky girl to have avoided sexual abuse for 33 years.  Many of my friends and loved ones have not. 

I always carry my keys in my hands as a potential weapon when walking at night.  I never park next to large vans or in unlighted areas.  I’m hyper aware of my surroundings as often as I can be and I will go out of my way to avoid strange men.  I will wait for the next elevator if I’d be on it alone with a man I don’t know.  I check my backseat before getting in my car and lock my doors when I get in.  I am extremely aware of how vulnerable we are when I'm buckling my little girl into her car seat and not able to keep an eye on our surroundings.  If I’m dropping a friend off, I wait until they get inside their door before I drive away.  I ask friends to let me know they got home safely by phone or text. 

Looking at that list, it sounds like I live in constant fear, but I actually don't.  I’ve always done these things- most of the women I know do them.  Until the #yesallwomen conversation started, I'd never really looked at this list consciously as the reaction to real danger.  They are so much second nature that it took me a few minutes to even realize that they are special behaviors to mitigate the possibility of assault.     

Even at home, I am 99.9% sure my husband is a good man who would never harm our kids, but I can’t quite get that last .01% of certainty, because my grandfather never seemed like a rapist to me until I knew otherwise.  The scariest truth is that most rapists are not scary looking and creepy- they are just 'normal' members of the community.  If we have a son, we plan to spend as much time teaching him NOT TO RAPE as we will teaching our daughter to avoid it if she can.  (And we’ll teach him about protecting himself too, as I know that men- especially young boys- can also be raped.) 

My hope is that one day my grandkids won’t have to learn those lessons because our culture will have shifted.  And my most fervent prayer is that not one more person will suffer abuse at the hands of another.  I know we're nowhere near there yet, but we can each shine our little light in the dark for progress. 

With great love & oceans of light-
 
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<![CDATA[A Blessing for Good Health]]>Wed, 21 May 2014 19:57:35 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/a-blessing-for-good-health
A Blessing for Good Health
I've been thinking of health lately, while some friends are working on regaining theirs.  Here is my wish for all of us. 

May your food be rich in nutrients, free of toxins, and delicious.

May you have enough to eat and enough to share.

May your water be clean and pure and easy to obtain.  

May your body  fight illness quickly and easily.

May your lungs be strong and your breaths deep and clear.

May you prioritize your self care and take all the moments that you need for you.
 
May you move your body in ways that strengthen you and bring you exuberant joy.
 
May you be well. 

May you be well. 

May you be well.   

Blessed Be.

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If you want to explore your dreams and open up more to your inner courage and power, please check out myWork page for more info on how we could work together.  Or gohere to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.

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<![CDATA[Dancing in the Moonlight]]>Mon, 19 May 2014 20:44:17 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/dancing-in-the-moonlight
Full Moon
One of the few photos on my site that isn't mine- Photo used under Creative Commons from rcbodden.
{I published this a few years ago on my personal blog, which is now closed.  Last week's full moon reminded me of it and I've republished it here, as it's still one of my favorite stories of Zambia.} 

For almost 2 years, I lived in a village in Zambia as a Peace Corps volunteer. In that village, there is no electricity or running water. Having no electricity means that there is no light pollution and the night sky there is absolutely stunning. There are stars and galaxies that I'd never seen until I lived there. By far the most amazing sight is the full moon. She seems so much larger and closer there. Full moon nights still make me miss those days in the village.

In the village, moving around at night is more dangerous, because of snakes and other harmful critters, like drunks stumbling their way home or speeding bicycles without headlights. Part of our Peace Corps training was all about the importance of staying inside at night. (Both of the snake bites that happened to volunteers in Zambian were at night, so it is understandable that they were wary. They'd been lucky both times and they had survived, but there is always a moment when the luck runs out.)

When I first moved in to the village, I'd get a bit anxious just before sunset because I didn't like being shut up all night. I had accepted it into my routine and was normally finished with eating and bathing by 6pm so that I could be inside when it got dark. I'd use the pit latrine for the last time and if I absolutely HAD to go at night, I had a bucket (like a chamber pot but with a lid). After about 3 months there, I would go completely stir crazy just before sunset every day. There was a group of 20 kids that were always at my house throughout the day whenever they didn't have school or other chores to do.  At some point, I realized that the kids weren't freaking out about being home before dark, so I calmed down a bit and let some of the girls from next door hang out with me until their mom called them for dinner at 7pm.

That one evening changed my entire outlook on night in the village. I was more relaxed about the dark and a few nights later when I heard the drumming next door, I wandered over to see what was going on. I was lucky enough to have flashlights, so I could see things just fine and I carefully searched for snakes on the path. I discovered that whenever there is a full moon, there is an impromptu party in the village. It's like suddenly having street lights, so people can see well enough to move around and visit friends after dinner. Someone will always start drumming on empty water containers and there is dancing and story-telling around the fire and lots of laughing. I didn't understand most of the stories or jokes, but I understood the sense of
joy and camaraderie that went with them.

It became my full moon tradition to go to my next door neighbor's house and hang out with the girls that lived there. Their mother laughed at my very child-like Bemba skills, but she was nice to me and she understood that her girls were my best friends and teachers. I would bring over some popcorn or they would boil some groundnuts to share.  Most of the other kids and their parents would wander through at some point and we always had so much fun.

Full moon time was always my favorite time and I think of them every month when the moon is full.  It also reminds me not to be afraid of the unknown.  As long as you have a few friends to venture into the dark with, you're bound to find that the things you fear aren't so scary any more.  You may even find yourself dancing in the moonlight!
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If you need a supportive coach to venture into the dark with you, please check out myWork page for more info on how we could work together.  Or gohere to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.

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<![CDATA[Home & Safe]]>Tue, 06 May 2014 20:17:38 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/home-safe
May you find your way home.
Here are the names of our daughters:
Deborah Abge Chrstian.
Awa Abge.
Hauwa Yirma.
Asabe Manu.
Mwa Malam Pogu.
Patiant Dzakwa.
Saraya Mal. Stover. 
Mary Dauda.
Gloria Mainta. 
Hanatu Ishaku.
Gloria Dama. 
Tabitha Pogu.
Maifa Dama.
Ruth Kollo.
Esther Usman.
Awa James.
Anthonia Yahonna.
Kume Mutah.
Aisha Ezekial.
Nguba Buba.
Kwanta Simon.
Kummai Aboku.
Esther Markus.
Hana Stephen.
Rifkatu Amos.
Rebecca Mallum.
Blessing Abana.
Ladi Wadai.
Tabitha Hyelampa.
Ruth Ngladar.
Safiya Abdu.
Na’omi Yahonna.
Solomi Titus.
Rhoda John.
Rebecca Kabu.
Christy Yahi.
Rebecca Luka.
Laraba John.
Saratu Markus.
Mary Usman.
Debora Yahonna.
Naomi Zakaria.
Hanatu Musa.
Hauwa Tella.
Juliana Yakubu.
Suzana Yakubu.
Saraya Paul.
Jummai Paul.
Mary Sule.
Jummai John.
Yanke Shittima.
Muli Waligam.
Fatima Tabji.
Eli Joseph.
Saratu Emmanuel.
Ihyi Abdu.
Hasana Adamu.
Rakiya Kwamtah.
Halima Gamba.
Aisha Lawan.


Deborah Peter.
Rahila Bitrus.
Luggwa Sanda.
Kauna Lalai.
Lydia Emmar.
Laraba Maman.
Hauwa Isuwa.
Confort Habila.
Hauwa Abdu.
Hauwa Balti.
Yana Joshua.
Laraba Paul.
Saraya Amos.
Glory Yaga.
Na’omi Bitrus.
Godiya Bitrus.
Awa Bitrus.
Na’omi Luka.
Maryamu Lawan.
Tabitha Silas.
Mary Yahona.
Ladi Joel.
Rejoice Sanki.
Luggwa Samuel.
Comfort Amos.
Saraya Samuel.
Sicker Abdul.
Talata Daniel.
Rejoice Musa.
Deborah Abari.
Salomi Pogu.
Mary Amor.
Ruth Joshua.
Esther John.
Esther Ayuba.
Maryamu Yakubu.
Zara Ishaku.
Maryamu Wavi.
Lydia Habila.
Laraba Yahonna.
Na’omi Bitrus.
Rahila Yahanna.
Ruth Lawan.
Ladi Paul.
Mary Paul.
Esther Joshua.
Helen Musa.
Margret Watsai.
Deborah Jafaru.
Filo Dauda.
Febi Haruna.
Ruth Ishaku.
Racheal Nkeki.
Rifkatu Soloman.
Mairama Yahaya.
Hauwa Nkeki.
Hamsatu Abubakar.
Mairama Abubakar.
Hauwa Wule.


Saratu Dauda.
Jinkai Yama.
Margret Shettima.
Yana Yidau.
Grace Paul.
Amina Ali.
Palmata Musa.
Awagana Musa.
Pindar Nuhu.
Yana Pogu.
Saraya Musa.
Hauwa Joseph.
Hauwa Kwakwi.
Hauwa Musa.
Maryamu Musa.
Maimuna Usman.
Rebeca Joseph.
Liyatu Habitu.
Rifkatu Yakubu. 
Naomi Philimon.
Deborah Abbas.
Ladi Ibrahim.
Asabe Ali.
Maryamu Bulama.
Ruth Amos.
Mary Ali.
Abigail Bukar.
Deborah Amos.
Saraya Yanga.
Kauna Luka.
Christiana Bitrus.
Yana Bukar.
Hauwa Peter.
Hadiza Yakubu.
Lydia Simon.
Ruth Bitrus.
Mary Yakubu.
Lugwa Mutah.
Muwa Daniel.
Hanatu Nuhu.
Monica Enoch.
Margret Yama.
Docas Yakubu.
Rhoda Peter.
Rifkatu Galang.
Saratu Ayuba.
Naomi Adamu.
Hauwa Ishaya.
Rahap Ibrahim.
Deborah Soloman.
Hauwa Mutah.
Hauwa Takai.
Serah Samuel.
Aishatu Musa.
Aishatu Grema.
Kabu Malla.
Yayi Abana.
Falta Lawan.
Kwadugu Manu.
May you find your way home.

May God hold you safe in her arms until you do. 
   
Blessed Be.
My wish for these precious daughters who were stolen in Nigeria, as well as any of us who are looking for home- physically, metaphorically, spiritually, or emotionally.  May you find your way there.  And may these precious girls be found safely returned as well. 
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<![CDATA[May We ALL Be Free]]>Wed, 30 Apr 2014 20:27:17 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/may-we-all-be-free
May we ALL Be Free
Last week, Wednesday came & went and writing a blessing totally slipped my mind.  I didn't even realize it.  But this week, I've been ruminating on freedom and this is what I wish for us all this week. 

May we all be free.
Free to love whoever we love and be loved in return.
Free to do work that excites and challenges us to grow.
Free to laugh and enjoy life in our own special way.
Free to live safely and without fear.
Free to dance to our own band of drummers.
Free to sing out loud and off key and proud.
Free to choose kindness and generosity.
Free to be YOU AND ME. 
Blessed Be!
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If you want to explore freedom and open up more to your inner courage and power, please check out myWork page for more info on how we could work together.  Or gohere to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.

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<![CDATA[A Blessing of Community]]>Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:25:30 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/a-blessing-of-community
Blessing of Circle Community Family
I've been blessed by so many amazing circles and communities.  Today I felt the need to write about those families of choice for those who might be searching and yearning for them still. 
May you find that home of your heart. 


May you find the circle of people where you always belong and feel accepted.
May you dance in community and break bread with brethren of your choosing. 
May you find the place where you can go whenever you need hugs and soft landings. 
May you have a least one cheerleader for every idea you have, no matter how unusual or bizarre. 
May you find your forever family, even if you share no blood. 
May you find love in shining faces near and far, and know you are never alone and you are never without love.  
You are loved. 
Blessed Be.
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If you want to explore your dreams and find your circle, please check out myWork page for more info on how we could work together.  Or gohere to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.

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<![CDATA[Flourish]]>Wed, 09 Apr 2014 20:31:48 GMThttp://ravenchitalo.com/blog/flourish
Live Well and Love Well and Flourish
I've got a very important business coaching session this week with the amazing Fabeku and the magical energy of preparing for that has me weepy with joy and more amazed by people than usual, and it's a lovely place to be.  May you find that energy in your life as well. 

May you be moved to tears by your own radiance and beauty. 
May you be moved to laughter by thousands of little moments throughout your day.
May you be astonished by your own brilliance and creativity.
May you be amazed by the generosity and kindness of strangers and friends. 
May you joyfully and easily return and pay that kindness forward.  
May you live well and love well and flourish. 
Blessed Be.
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If you want to explore your dreams and need a little help to be astonished at your own brilliance, please check out myWork page for more info on how we could work together.  Or gohere to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.
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