Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Age: 28 gonna be 29 soon and right in the center of her Saturn
Sun Sign: Gemini
HSR: So Alexis, you are going to be 29 very soon, eh?
HSR: How do you feel as you approach this steep steep hill? Sorry to project my feelings about it onto you, but you know what I mean.
Alexis: Ha! Just this morning I was thinking about how I want to bring in my 30th year. And I’ve decided that for me, being “grown” means living every day as sacred space for an individual, collective and planetary healing process. So I’m organizing a festival (centering on my front porch).
HSR: Ahh, that sounds like an amazing way to bring in the year!
Alexis: For black women and genderqueer black healers, blues singers, midwives, reiki masters, butterfly wishers…all kinds of healers.
HSR: I hope I’m invited. Sounds like a good time!
Alexis: You are SO invited! It’s going to be June 9-16 save the date!
HSR: Awesome! Thanks for the invite! What will you call it?
Alexis: It’s called Indigo Days…inspired by the character Indigo in Ntozake Shange’s novel Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo.
HSR: Lovely. I haven’t read the novel, but I’ll put it on my to-read list. Yes, I saw it and recently recommended it to students at the library.
Alexis: Oh it’s an awesome read. My friends Afiya and L have been continually bringing that novel and especially Indigo into my life. She’s a quirky spiritual black girl who makes recipies of healing for her dolls, fiddles to the ancestors and joins a street gang to redistribute numbers running money.
HSR: oohhh, sounds like an Alexis Pauline Gumbs fictional character alright!
HSR: So, does this revelation about how one ought to live life as being “grown” somehow answer a question for you or replace something that was missing for you now or before?
Alexis: Yes… Being “grown” which will probably stay in quotes for me…is about some clarity. I think in the past I was thinking about my life (and sometimes judging my life) based on this question of “what did I create?” or “What am I creating?”
HSR: Creating fictional characters is for me, the way to illustrate reality as we’d like to see it, or as we have seen it.
Alexis: YES! And now I have the clarity that the major thing I am creating is the space and energy of this lifetime. So I am in a mode of PRACTICE.
HSR: What brought you to that conclusion? Was it hearing others stories?
Alexis: I had to ask myself, what are the practices that allow my life to be an ancestor channel, a testament to transformative power of the universe etc.? Sometimes it can be small things, like looking at my elders and how they bring their own favorite tea bags with them even to restaurants, or how they make sure they have time to themselves in the morning or at night, or how they are vigilant about their listening, about the music they surround themselves with. Practice has given me so much clarity.
HSR: So it seems that you are still “creating”, but the output is in the process, and not in the magnitude of the result, but in the specificity of the practice of the creation?
Alexis: Yes! I prefer the term “practice” even to “process,” because I think in the past I have gotten lost in “process.”
HSR: Sounds like you are choosing to slow down a bit, and not rush to the finish line.
Alexis: But now I ask myself am I practicing what I know to be true. Am I filling my days with practices that invite and exemplify the world we deserve?
HSR: And because the intention is to be almost ritualistic?
Alexis: YES! Definitely ritualistic. One of the most grounding practices of this period for me has been dance.
HSR: Ahh. say more about what ‘dance’ is.
Alexis: I have been dancing by myself as prayer everyday, and I have been improvising dances to honor the elders that we are interviewing for the MobileHomecoming project. Dancing has been such an amazing way to communicate through my physical core with a spiritual core. I have been using mostly west african and belly dancing modalities.
HSR: Do you perform or display or share these dances? I can picture your movement. Do you perform for them in solitude, or in a space where there are witnesses? So that they may feel the completeness of their existence through the consumption of your gift?
Alexis: I share the dances with the elders as part of our ritual of honoring them. I also write a poem for each of the living elders that we interview. And I present the poem and dance to them consecutively. (Sometimes the dance first, sometimes the poem first.) I practice the dances in front of the elders and sometimes their partners…and sometimes their pets 🙂 and also my partner who composes djembe drum rhythms in honor of each elder. And it is so grounding because it is simple. I want to live in a world where our queer black elders are honored. Where we honor them with our whole bodies and our chosen words.
So now that is one of my practices.
HSR: It sounds very “at home”.
Alexis: Oh it is, usually it’s in their homes, or sometimes their offices…
HSR: So, your “grown” (which I feel is synonymous with your Saturn) brings you closer to community!
Alexis: Definitely. And I think it’s definitely a Saturn lesson for me to be intentional about being much much more PRESENT with my community.
HSR: Libra insists that you will have challenges and growth in the area of the interpersonal ‘other’. This means to be the she/he who stands outside of you, and within you, creating an understanding of that separation and that point of connection. Did you find being present a challenge before?
Alexis: I did. I have been great at leaving, at dashing from here to there at multi-tasking, of making to-do lists even as I am supposed to be listening.
HSR: Yes, I think you are telling my story there. Which you have to do when you are “creating” but I get it now, it’s not the outcome if one is focused on “practice”.
Alexis: Right! Something about productivity makes me devalue my own presence in my life and in everyone else’s lives. But presence is actually the most valuable thing I have. It’s actually the only thing! Therefore, I am cultivating practices that allow me to be present in the moment.
HSR: And I’m curious, in this transitional time, where you are focusing on “practice” and “presence” in your new mode of “grown”, do you find that this is how you would like it to be, forever, or that this process of practice and presence will lead to another way of being, meaning, is this a roadmap to your eventual you?
Alexis: Haha! Who knows! I am being present 🙂
HSR: So is it that practice will help you to study yourself, until you get you right? Are you actually content in not knowing?
Alexis: I think practice is helping me to study myself. But I think from here on out I will need to have practices in my life even if they are tiny things like saying “love” first thing when I wake up…or making time to listen to my ancestors in order to be present to the miracle of my life as it unfolds? You know? I think the person I become will be more and more graceful (I hope) at being present and being true to myself and to my communities.
HSR: For the record, as I know you, I see you as one who is moving towards grace. It doesn’t surprise me that you say this, but I’m honored to receive the reason behind your grace which completely makes sense and is filled with integrity (not that you were asking, just wanted to share).
Alexis: That is so sweet! Especially since I feel so awkward so often at this point.
HSR: It’s how I experience you! But Awkward?! You can’t end there, say more.
Alexis: [laughs] Well for one even the practice of dancing for the elders has been a breakthrough. Because I can be really self-conscious when it comes to dance. Especially when it is improvised! This is a new mode of life for me, but I think you are right it gives me access to so much more grace. From my ancestors and from myself.
HSR: Thanks for taking us there, and back! I say us, cause you’re talking to me, and women who are experiencing, awaiting, or recalling their life transitions…
Is there anything else that you wanted t say in reference to your Saturn?
Alexis: Thank YOU! This is such a beautiful project. And Lenn’s story was there RIGHT when I needed it!
Also, that Saturn is an amazing journey. And I’m grateful to be present for it. I’m grateful for the lessons and the clarity it is bringing into my life. It’s so fitting that dance would be the major practice that it is calling me to embrace… because I do feel like it is a dance…with all the energies, even with the disappointments and false starts. It’s an opportunity to move and be moved!
HSR: A dance, indeed!
Thank you Alexis.
This was good.
To learn more about Alexis Pauline Gumbs,
check her out on the web in her many incarnations: