Last week, I was on a panel about diversifying the outdoors. And as I sat on the sofa with the other panelists, I started to question whether I should even be up there. I was part of this event with five powerful and empowered women of color, who are doing incredible work in the world and in their respective communities. Looking out into the multi-colored audience, I thought to myself, I’m not sure if what I have to say matters right now. The humility I felt sitting next to these women was real. And there was a personal dynamic happening inside of me that made me want to diminish myself because, as a white woman, it all just felt irrelevant. I now understand that the choice to undermine my own voice was also perceived as being inactive and too passive from a white perspective. I can see why it would come across like that. Some folks in the audience were looking for me to be more verbal and speak truth about what we, as white people, can do to shift the current climate. Afterall, I was on a panel about “diversifying the outdoors,” and yet, there was an underlying current moving through me that kept bringing me back to silence.
The journey of self-development
We are all evolving along our unique paths of consciousness. My journey of self-development, and the subsequent emergence of my own voice, has always been through spiritual immersion in nature, indigenous ceremonial healing, writing, yoga, energy work and dance. Mothers Moving Mountains was born because I wanted to create a safe space for
mothers to connect with themselves, with each other and with nature – as a platform to heal the shame and blame we carry from personal stories, from our bloodlines, and from collective trauma – that which ultimately creates division, and lends itself to prevailing racial and social issues. Trauma is passed down from generation to generation and it is collectively shared in the circles we run in, and yet, many of us look for answers outside and expect change without taking the time to reflect and look inside. And all that does is perpetuate the issues at hand.
I believe that Mother Nature has an extraordinary power to bring us together, to cradle us and receive all of our pain, and gift us the beauty of nourishment and love and unconditional support. In Her, we find a reflection of the Great Mother, the all-nurturing, all-patient, all-knowing divine feminine perfection of synergy, rhythm and grace. In Her, we are able to deconstruct the rigidity of our own minds through the realization of oneness between all things. And that is when we can truly start to dissolve the collective social, economical and racial barriers outside of ourselves.
Truth be told, I have never been an outward activist. And I’ll be the first to say that I am no expert in diversity and inclusion. I was invited to be on a panel and I accepted because Itrusted the sources that recommended me. When the community of Mothers Moving Mountains came into being on a winter day in January, I outwardly spoke my intentions, prostrated on the soil, calling in all of the grandmothers and high priestesses and wise elders to protect us. I promised that I would hold space for connection and difficult conversations to occur, that I would be a vessel for change and devote my life to creating at least a small corner in this world where Tre, my son, would feel loved and supported as he moved through life.
As I look back on that panel, I realize that my voice wasn’t what was needed in that conversation. I’m a full-time working mother, fiance, daughter, sister and friend, just doing what I can to make life more sacred for myself, for my family, for other mothers, and all of our children. People listening in the audience needed an activist with a strong, clear and ready-to-forge vision for diversity and inclusion in the outdoors. My role, I believe, is more subtle – I simply want to create the space for reflection and natural connection to occur, which is the most authentic contribution I can make.
I have always been a woman devoted to the path of consciousness and awakening, allowing myself to shed layer after layer as I more deeply understand my own shadows. Unfortunately, I can’t help the fact that I was born into this world as a white person. That is my destiny. People who know me well know that my intentions are always for healing and love, and they also know that passion drives everything I do. I only know my own experiences over decades of travel and immersion in remote locations and spending significant time with indigenous communities; having played basketball through college and sharing intimate reflections with my teammates; and of course being with my lover and emphatically sharing his walk of life as a black man. Each moment informs me and asks me to look in the mirror and seek truth and understanding. I never claim to be anything else than a woman in service of love in this world.
The reality of being my son’s mother
I am not naive to the fact that I am the mother of a biracial child who is both black and white as labels define, and yet an intricate mixture of the DNA that his father and I carry through our own lineages – African, German, Maori, Turkish, Brazilian, Norwegian, Scottish, Irish, Australian and Bosnian. Regardless of what I call him (or how others expect me to label him), he will experience the issues at the forefront of these current day conversations. He is two years-old right now so I haven’t even scratched the surface of what that looks like a few years from now. I know as I read stories and hear friends share their experiences of their children, I ask myself, “How am I going to respond?” At this point in time, I can only empathize with the future and prepare my son to be an authentic, confident, compassionate, strong and kind human being. While there will be many trials surely, there will also be many triumphs, and as his mother, it is my responsibility and honor to hold that balance and empower him to celebrate it all as he moves through life and leaves his own legacy.
The way forward
I don’t regret the experience of being on the panel because simply being there with so many extraordinary people was enough to make me get real with myself and discover the most authentic path for me here. The way I see it, the only way forward is to look inside. We cannot affect collective change if we do not do our personal work to create our own individual change. People that are angry and hateful and resentful of others are, at their core, angry, and hateful and resentful of themselves. And this darkness always comes from a wounded place within that is laden with emotional trauma and ends up obscuring a clear, loving path forward. When this is the infrastructure of the mind, no one can be loving or compassionate. And it is indeed, love and compassion that will dissolve barriers and create connections.
A mindset equipped for sustainable change requires us to be:
- Ready to engage in change; know what you stand for, what is important to you, and what makes life meaningful. (Even under the most hardcore anger and hate, there is a longing for connection and love.)
- Willing to face challenges and grow in pursuit of long term goals without immediate reward; accepting both pleasant and unpleasant experiences and knowing that life’s journey is going to be full of ups and downs. Shit happens to everyone – how do we deal with it optimally?
- Able to rise above who they were before and shift their perspective of their own ability; overcoming former stories about the self, and cultivating a new version without harboring shame, blame and guilt. We cannot understand someone else’s pain and oppression if we don’t understand our own.
Being ready, willing and able is equivalent to being flexible and open to all of it… both internally and externally – the bumps, the hurdles, the mountains we move. The triggers and emotional patterns are traced in our blood lines. The experiences of all people are ancestral. Trauma is engrained in the very fabric of every waking and sleeping moment, etched in the soil of every inch of land we roam. Our patterns are nonconscious – meaning they are expressed from times we cannot even conceive of.
So what does that mean? It means that we must all acknowledge that these trauma patterns exist inside of us, and to unwind and disrupt them is to do the deep, personal work of getting into nature, sitting at the feet of our elders, listening for the wisdom of the trees and the land and all the great sages who have gone before us. And then looking in the mirror and asking ourselves, where does this come from? Is that really who I am? Is that who I want to be? What do I fear? What do I need more of? What would happen if I chose differently? And why does that inhibit me from changing? Asking these questions are an essential part of the path to healing.
Given we all come from various backgrounds, upbringings, and ancestral lines, healing is a journey someone chooses when, and if, they are ready, willing and able. Changing how we think, act, speak, respond, and live day to day doesn’t happen overnight. It is a lifelong journey. All of the tools lie in the practices that so many fear or just plain avoid: mindfulness, self-reflection, conscious movement, deep contemplation and intimate conversation. Then there are the obvious things: the willingness to be out of one’s comfort zone, travel and immersion in other cultures, to engage with people who are different, to be curious about all of life and all people. Even wholesome nutrition, good sleep, healthy lifestyle habits, and putting our phones down are imperative to cultivating the mindset for positive change.
My role in it all
I’m convinced that each of us have a destined role to play. We are all given a vision, a mission to fulfill. None of us have the same exact vision, and none of us will manifest in the exact same way. We must do what our soul longs for, and what we’re called to do, in the best way we know how. So in being asked, “how are YOU diversifying the outdoors, Tiffany?” my reply remains as it always has. With my guides, elders and ancestors beside me, I am creating a space and an opportunity for women and mothers to know themselves deeper and to be able to access the love and compassion inside of themselves, for themselves, so they can express it toward others. Only then can we live from an authentic and creatively powerful place, and raise our children with the same morals, values and ideals that empower and enable them to be the best versions of themselves and be an integral part of an upgraded and optimistic future.
If we can learn to respectfully be a part of an evolutionary conversation through self-healing and learn to approach each other with kindness, empathy and curiosity, then we will make steps forward together. If we can learn to express pain or disappointment with love and compassion and allow each other to speak and listen, only then can we truly start bridging gaps and healing the brokenness that permeates our society. If we can learn to ‘embrace our humanity’ within the constructs of the quest for justice, like Imani Perry so beautifully alludes to in her book, Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, then we will be able to see ourselves in each other’s eyes. Whether we accept it or not, we are all on a healing journey, and regardless of the color of our skin, we are on the path together. And when I come back to heart of compassion, I know that we are all doing our best.
Mother Nature speaks
I sit amongst the trees in the Colorado mountains and listen to what Mother Nature and the wise ones really want to teach us… and these are the words I hear:
- Stay open and curious. Life is full of radiant color and magic – if you spend too much time with your eyes on the trail, you might miss the epic views.
- Attune to the rhythms. Honor nature, the seasons, the moon and stars – and you’ll remember that all of life is always moving in cycles. Move with it.
- Find your path. You have a journey designed just for you. Find what lights up your soul, what makes you shine, and dance along that path forever.
- Love yourself. More than you’ve ever loved anyone, love yourself. And you’ll know the essence of what perfect union feels like.
All I can do each day is try to be the best version of myself I can be. Sure, I’ll fall off the trail and I’ll get back on. But perhaps with one smile, one act of kindness, one empathetic thought, one intention toward healing, I can contribute to moving one small part of a mountain. And that’s all anyone can ask of any mother.
To my tender, sweet angel and greatest teacher, Tre, you are my devotion, my strength, my wisdom, my love. You are going to shift this world with your bright eyes and warm heart. Exploring every crevice and corner of this earth is what we’ll do as we walk the path of love and oneness together. I will teach you the ways of the seasons – how something must die for something to be born. I will teach you the ways of the moon – how she waxes and wanes and reminds us that there are times to be bright and times to retreat. I will teach you the ways of the elements – of air, fire, water and earth, and how we as humans embody these in every moment of every day. And I will teach you the ways of the One Light – and how you are but a unique refraction of this grand prism of love. May we embrace every step with courage and curiosity and may every experience be an opportunity to grow and learn and become the best versions of ourselves. May we share our stories of humanity, full of triumph and trial, with vulnerability and grace. And may all words of discouragement and shame and ridicule and blame be absorbed back into the earth as compost for new life to grow.
You will know empowerment and love and beauty and compassion in this world because you will always be surrounded by it.
I love you.
Tiffany Christena Grimm