Austin speaker

Road Angels

Carine and AmeliaInspirational Female Figure of the Day: The incredible seventeen-year-old, Carine Ferraz.

A couple weeks ago as Mechi and I approached Salvador, Bahia with only 360 kilometers left of our 5,000 km journey, our roadship, Carlotta, finally gave out one last time. Out of all the places we could have broken down at along the last hours of the route, we broke down in an oasis. A posada in the middle of the Brazilian landscape, one that was completely obscured by the thick vegetation with only a simple cheeky road sign “Be curious! Come see us!” to indicate anything existed beyond the forest wall.

They also advertised free internet. THUS why we stopped.

After all the mountains, steep inclines, insane 18-wheeler drivers, and impromptu trips to the mechanic for many (many) other fixings… a final short cobbly hill was her demise, rupturing her front left wheel well cylinder.

Like I said, OUT OF ALL THE PLACES WE COULD HAVE BROKEN DOWN AT…the Universe conspired us to stop there. We arrived right as they were setting up the lunch buffet… a spectacular display of a variety of Brazilian cuisine. We felt like queens that forgot they were queens until we bowed down to the great, big Universe for reminding us that we were. Even though we were covered in grime, smelled like strays, and wore 3-day old clothing.

Trying not to freak out, as it was the day before Easter and I had only 2 days to catch my flight back to the U.S., we just tried to be patient, allow ourselves to be with the moment and trust that everything would work out. (THIS IS VERY HARD TO DO BTW.)

A mechanic was called. He came. Took Carlotta apart. And said: “I will either come back, call you, or you’ll call me, or I won’t come back at all.” He didn’t come back, and we couldn’t get in touch with him.

Commence Not Freaking Out Freaking Out.

It was also the full moon. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

Then that evening, Carine came along with her friend, Mateus Gonçalves. And they helped ease our (my) troubled brains. They explained that I could get a bus from the nearby town to Salvador, and Carine said her boyfriend could give me a ride!

Not only did her boyfriend (who looked like a young Brazilian version of Channing Tatum) give me a ride the next afternoon, but Carine WENT WITH ME, took me to the bank so I could get out more monies, sat with me as I waited for the bus, and helped carry my backpack until I was safely onboard.

There were many, many road angels along the way. But, she took the halo cake. I am forever grateful for her generosity.

I’m also happy to report that Mechi and Carlotta finally made it to Salvador on the back of a tow truck.

Where there is a will, there’s a way. And the Universe will send help, always.

Muita, muito obrigada, minha amiga.

Photo credit: Carine Ferraz

When you love yourself, and I mean really love yourself

Love Reflection

When you love yourself, and I mean really love yourself,
you cannot help but look at that person in the mirror and weep.
That person who lives in a body tailor-made to swell and shrink
with the tides of food; whose scars, curves, lines, and bumps
pattern the casing of an animal, a house of the entire emotional spectrum;
whose dreams churn the engines and heat the heart;
and whose laughter delights the stars and all ancestors before her.

Yes, I love you.
All of you, person that is Me.
Every inch. Every piece.
Finally.

© Amelia Isabel

Photo credit: Amelia Isabel, in Buenos Aires, Argentina

A Visit from Maya Angelou

Christmas lights strung across a room

Once upon a time, the Greeks believed in invisible fairy creatures called “dæmons” or “geniuses” that served as spirit guides and the ultimate connection to one’s divine creativity. They helped us to transcend, become one with our calling, and step closer to understanding what life is all about.

What if invisible fairies weren’t the only ones helping us in our creative acts?

Last week, I had a unique opportunity to intimately bear witness to my own creative process as a new poem burbled up inside me like a cork floating up to the surface in a pool of champagne. A classmate of mine shared the following lines in our poetry course:

It’s the strangest sensation to be happily lonely
to keep the thoughts of a universe, safe inside a humbled heart
It’s a whimsical place, to feel luckily bound in a body 
that won’t misuse its wisdom

With my genius at my side, we wrote this piece:

Sanctuary within a Temple
A Reflection on the Universe within the Body

My heart space
Is a child’s bedroom
A warm womb where I am tucked away
Beneath a rolling sea of linen and down
Looking up through soft sheer canopy curtains
At the twinkling lights of the universe
Strung across the ceiling
Gently swaying
To the pulse of my chamber walls
Rocking me into the safest slumber

And ultimately, the following story. I didn’t realize it right away, but as the last line came out, I gradually noticed something different about my poetic genius. The familiar sensation of a whimsical story began banging around inside my ribs, commanding to be heard. And I obliged.

Dr. Angelou, this one’s for you.

Screenshot of my youtube video, A Visit from Maya Angelou

“Lights” photo credit: Chris Jones

Naked

Amelia in profile, headshot

To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous. — Elizabeth Gilbert

This summer, my new friend, Alberto Martinez, said to me, “I would love to shoot your picture.” My ego instantly glowed, because what cooler feeling is there than for a stranger to see you as art? (Especially since this is the first time someone has ever said this to me when I’ve only barely walked into a room…)

Then, I realized HOLD ON. There is great risk to be fully seen by someone! To trust another person with your Essence. To look into the eyes of a camera and stand there as broken, unattractive, or unworthy as you might believe. You feel naked, vulnerable. Yet, somehow strong, empowered. Someone SEES you, and you are allowing yourself to be seen. Granting permission to be captured, flaws and all… into a work of art.

What greater freedom exists than to be naked?

I am proud to share this redesign of my website, which features some of the pieces from our recent creative project! (See them on the Home page and under About.)

Go on. Be naked with someone today. ❤

Photo credit: Alberto Martinez

Gratitude! Gratitude! Gratituuuuuude!

The support and feedback from my talk on beauty has been nothing short of amazing. My soul is overflowing with so much gratitude from truly phenomenal people. On top of the audience feedback I got from my first Open Mic last week, here are some more comments that truly touched me:

From a beautiful and brave family member who has battled breast cancer:

Thank you for sharing this wisdom Amelia. You’ve shown me that I don’t have to be afraid of the way I’m changing physically due to having a mastectomy, or due to my age, or due to my particular feelings that day that tell me that I can’t go out of the house and see people. Your experience of coming to know that your true beauty is all parts of you has helped me to not be sad today as I realize there is more to me than my face, hair and clothes. I will accept who I am as a whole. Thank you for sharing your beautiful self!

From a dear friend who recently had a baby:

I listened to your open mic and it got me thinking about how after having [my baby] I’ve been avoiding pictures because of how I feel about my after body. Thanks lovely for the reflection.

From an inspiring new friend after having too much bourbon last night (paraphrasing):

Your talk was really inspiring. It made me realize just how much I’ve been picking at my flaws recently and how it’s been getting me down. I’ve always thought about how my hair part goes the other way, because I can see it in photos, so I’m conscious of it. You helped me to step back and see myself for who I really am. I really want to experience the True Mirror, too.

I was also recently spotlighted as a “Bald Beauty” by The Bald Movement, an organization that empowers women who are bald either by circumstance or by choice.

Spotlighted on The Bald Movement Instagram

AND if that wasn’t amazing enough, Daniel, the facilitator of Austin Java Open Mic wrote up a FANTASTIC review on my performance, saying, “It was really easy to take in all the emotion of what she was getting across and I felt like Amelia and I had a lived a lifelong friendship together by the time she was done.” Aww, shucks. 🙂 Read the entire review here.

My next Open Mic will be at BookWoman on North Lamar at 7:15 tonight! Come and share your own poems and stories!

I Shaved my Head. And This is Why.

A month ago I shaved my head. Last night at an Open Mic at Austin Java, I explained why.

The audience feedback was incredible. My heart is swelling with so much gratitude. In my piece, I discuss the history of the reflected self and our culture’s obsession with mirrors. Well, right before the evening began, a group of visually impaired students came in, and I though Oh my god…how am I going to be able to do this talk now?! But, it could not have been more perfect. They were the most supportive of my talk, as it resonated with them, too. One of them actually told me that she recently “came out” and that my presentation encouraged her. I was so humbled by her bravery. What better compliment can you ask for! Another woman came up to me later and thanked me for my existence. I have never been thanked before for existing! She told me that I needed to share this story far and wide, so here I go.

This piece is dedicated to Joanna McAfee and her brother Paul. My journey over the years started with her sweet courage. I have never forgotten her story, nor will I ever.

Screenshot of Why I Shaved my Head You Tube video