All posts by Analyn Revilla

All I Want for Christmas

If seeing is believing then all I want for Christmas is that we see…

It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There’s Christmas music 24 hours of the day (radio, TV, internet, on the streets, in your head, the one that you hum unconsciously).

There are Christmas lights and decorations on lawns and stoops of homes along the quietest streets and the busiest corners.

There’s anticipation in the air for some mystery and wonder.

There is a Santa Claus that lives in everyone’s heart.

Though without the means or the money, and there are miles, rules, illnesses and the pandemic that separate us from our loved ones, there is still the wish, hope and desire in our hearts and imagination to make dreams come true.


Peace Y’All.

Painting by Tom Browning. Courtesy of Santa’s Time Off.

I See Therefore I am

Today was the second day of winter, December 22nd, 2020.  Yesterday, the Winter Solstice, also the shortest day of the year was when two planets (Jupiter and Saturn) appear closer than it has ever been since 800 years ago.  It is known as “The Star of Bethlehem” (aka “The Great Conjunction” – During the 2020 great conjunction, the two planets were separated in the sky by 6 arcminutes at their closest point, which was the closest distance between the two planets since 1623).

When I was a very young girl my dream was to be an astronaut.  In 2nd grade, during class, I stared out the window and imagined being in space, while the teacher’s voice droned on like an unidentified buzz. I looked towards the azure and wondered what’s out there? and where and how do I fit in in this enormous puzzle?

Funny, many many decades later, I am still the same in my thinking, though the desire to be an astronaut has long passed.  What do I dream and hope for now?  I am at the arc in my life, the shooting star no more, and the trajectory is the downward bend.  This is a combination of losing momentum and gravity pulling my mass towards the center of the earth.

This is life.  Decay is inevitable.  I accept… though I still struggle.  Surrender is not easy when I remember how I used to climb tall mountains, and ran down the trail fast – hopped from rock to rock, light on my feet and my shirt drenched from clean sweat.  These days, I sit in front of a laptop with a tape over the camera, hiding from unknown intruders while my fingers hop over letters and special characters that decorate virtual documents and pages.

One definition of life is a measurement of time.  In the obit section, a name is listed with a date of birth and a date of death.  There was a beginning and then an end.  Between the bookends describes what the person did and who was left behind.

Imagine a straight beam of light shooting out of a super giant star, like “Deneb” (10 to the 5th degree in solar units luminosity).  Its light has been traveling for several light years to reach our eyes.  One day, the bright light of “Deneb” will fade and die.  But we wouldn’t know this in our human life, because the light reaching us now is a view of the past.  “When we look out across the Universe, we’re also peering back in time.” – Ethen Siegel, Forbes 

As a kid looking towards the stars I was seeing myself but not recognizing myself.  I was searching for the self, when I already am the self. I see therefore I am.


by Analyn Revilla

One, among many, memories of my father was he was a collector of things!  He collected books, collected coins, watches – he just never threw anything away.  But his worst collection was his video recording machines (Beta and VHS) and they were all hooked up to the TV – all seven or eight of them.  It was way too many for one household and one man.  He was the master of these machines, and no-one was allowed to use them.  This irked me to the max, and I asked him why he needed so many video recorders and pretty much alluded that it was a kind of sickness.  Needless to say, you can picture, that he and I butted heads on everything.

So what I was trying to tell my Dear Father was to get perspective.  Perspective is everything in terms of figuring out if you’re crazy, normal or out of this world.  

A few days ago I commented to someone, “Hey, there must’ve been many periods in history when there’s been a pandemic, and probably complicated by social issues.  With my limited knowledge of history my example is the Middle Ages with the Bubonic Plague and the land owners and serfdom.  Here we are again, pretty much playing the same story.  

I am not downplaying the personal stories of loss, humiliation and suffering.  We are all experiencing the effect of the freak show.  Each and every story is real and deserve empathy.  How else can we grow as individuals and as a community of human beings?  We have the capacity to evolve because we’re gifted with tools to be more than what we think we are.  But we have to use those tools to transform to a higher level of consciousness.  Again, imagination is a tool, and another one is perspective.

Without perspective we can lose ourselves in the vortex of emotions and confusion.  Meditation is another tool to observe from within what’s happening inside and out; and outside and in.  Knowledge is another tool.  Having a perspective of history and the movement of humans from hunters to gatherers to information workers, artists, farmers and service providers allows us to let go of the fear that we’re not enough, and there’s not enough to go around.  

A recent make-over of my abode in South Los Angeles resulted in sorting through boxes of books, memorabilia, clothes, shoes, CDs, laptops, musical instruments (including seven guitars and downsized from a larger collection).  Now talk about the fruit not falling far from the tree.  I am my father :-).  I’m able to recognize the heap of things I’ve collected and see that I am repeating the same story.

And I can actually relax and let go of my anxiety that I’m not normal.  My father was normal.  I’m OK and he was OK and you’re OK too.


by Analyn Revilla

A friend of mine and I have been exchanging a daily list of 5 things we’re grateful for via email.  We’re now on our 7 month, and I hope we continue this for the rest of our lives.  One time he listed “Imagination”.  

Thinking about the meaning of imagination I begin to understand that imagination is a tool we all have access to only if we allow ourselves the luxury of time to practice it.  It is a practice, like other forms of discipline.  

Imagination allows us to to go places where we physically can’t go – the outer edges of the universe.  Imagine.  

With our imagination we have created other tools to give body to something we’ve imagined.  For example, math and science to map the galaxies.  With imagination we think about the possibilities of life on other planets other than our own.  Statistically, scientists have hypothesized that the probability of life beyond the Milky Way is possible.  So we endeavor to explore and build spacecrafts and probes and radars to reach out.  “Hey, is there anybody out there?”

With imagination we can empathize and know what it’s like to be in someone else’s position – their joy, pain, sorrow, guilt, shame, contentment, dreams.  It is effort to practice imagining a situation; it is a form of surrendering our ego to something beyond ourselves.

You’ve probably heard someone say “I can’t imagine…” after telling them a story that is either unbearable or unbelievable.  Then you say, “It’s true.  It really happened.”  And the other person still can’t accept the story as a possibility.  Later on, she may think further about it, and allow her imagination to go there and then start to believe in the possibility.  And tendrils of sympathy may grow from empathy into believing.

Yes.  Imagination is something to be grateful for.  

How else could we have hope to get through this period of isolation and uncertainty.  Just imagine it without having an imagination.

Happy 4th of July, 2020

by Analyn Revilla

In Hyde Park, the people are standing outside on the streets, sitting on the porch, parked in chairs on the sidewalks and are looking up at the skies… The skies are bejeweled with color and dazzling sparks. The sound is intensely booming the celebration of freedom.

For one evening during this period of uncertainty, we are united by awe and wonder. Couldn’t we remember to regard each person with awe, respect and wonder more often?

Emotions Run High

by Analyn Revilla

These days, the news reports that drivers are more aggressive on the roads and that there are higher accidents and fatalities on the road.  Some people are channeling their unbridled emotions with pressure on the gas pedal or taking unnecessary risks.  Today, while driving along Western south of Jefferson Boulevard, someone passed to my left, crossing onto the lane of the opposite traffic and swerved to make a right turn, crossing three lanes.  Bold and stupid to say the least.

During my drive, prior to being a witness to that, I was musing about the gamut of human emotions.  I thought, as an experiment, that I would start to take notes on the range of emotions I experience in a twenty-four hour period, and correlate those emotions with the thoughts that motivated the emotions.  Then, as an objective scientist, I would create a bar graph of the categories of thoughts-emotions, to visualize which bars tend to be higher than others.  This bar graph would be an indicator of my tendencies, and perhaps help me to manage my emotions better.

My emotions have been running high.  I shared with someone that, lately, I’ve been yelling a lot at the dogs.  My temperature gauge is running hot and I don’t like this trend.  Upon recognizing my rising emotional temperature, I reasoned that the dogs prefer to be near me, especially with the illegal fireworks exploding during the evenings and sometimes well into the late night.  Or they are looking for attention when they destroy the hose or bend the metal bars of the screen door.  Big sigh.

It’s interesting to me that what inspired the idea of taking an inventory of my thoughts and feelings by logging them was leafing through a book called “Classics of the Foreign Film”, by Parker Tyler, and published in 1962. Open a page and there, bared to the eyes of the soul are images of the human condition.  Every page is breaming with these images.  I think this compilation is better than National Geographic.  It is art made by artists about You and Me, Us and Them, Me and We, He and She.  It is the relationships put into cinematographic art form by  years, starting with 1919 thru 1961 from different countries (Germany, France, Italy, Poland, India, USSR, Japan and more).

I don’t quite understand how my mind made the connection of what I’ve been experiencing with my emotions to the catalogue of dramatic scenes in those pages.  Like a light switch, the light turned on and I recognized that I needed to step back in my own life and see it as a movie.  In doing that, I don’t identify so much as the doer but more of an experiencer of what’s happening at the moment. i.e. not to take it all so personally (in pill form).  Watch the images projected on the blank screen as passing moments.  The only thing permanent is the screen, me; while the experiences are ephemeral.  

This, all this, that’s been making our emotions run high and low, shall pass. 

Yoga Sutras to Writing

by Analyn Revilla

There are three principles in the practice of yoga that can apply to a writing practice.  These principles originate from the second chapter of the “bible” for yogis, called “The Yoga Sutras” by Patanjali.  It is an ancient collection of “sutras” (known as “threads” in Sanskrit) compiled into a book by the guru Patanjali around 200 C.E.

“Union in Action” is daily life lived in a clear and conscious way. – The Yoga Sutras.

As a sporadic writer, still aspiring to do something more ambitious than what I’ve been doing with my writing, I recognize that perhaps how I conduct my yoga practice could be useful to my writing life.  Having spent a lot of time reading books on creativity and writing; immersing in artistic milieus:  writing classes, acting classes, participating in LAFPI, attending plays… I continue to experiment and looks for ways to turn it around.

In my last blog,“Why Write?”, the fire within was ignited.  Do not quit.  I actually had stopped writing for about a two year plus period, because it was too painful, and too much heavy lifting to move my hands across the page, and draw sludge out of my veins, and what came forth was painful and ugly, and maybe even toxic.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped, because all those things I deemed “ugly” and “untouchable” were all parts of me I was denying. 

In the past, yoga has been a practice that has sustained me through times of hardships. When my husband died so suddenly, some people gave me journals and encouraged me to write.  I did for awhile, and I even started the entries as Day 14, Day 15 and so on.  There were days when I couldn’t write, but I kept track of the days… Day 218.  So I would say that writing has also been a companion that helped me through troubled times.

So, why not combine the two?  The elements of the the triage can elevate my writing life and sustain it so that I can be more consistent and revive the spirit of joy in my writing.  The triangle is known as the strongest structure in engineering and architectural structures.  So the same goes for the triage of the three elements listed below.  All three are required to have “Union in Action” for writing:

  1. Willful Practice or Refinement – Tapas
  2. Self-Study or Reflection – Svandhyaya
  3. Release and Surrender – Ishvara-Panidhara

(The italicized words are Sanskrit.)

Tapas translate to heat, and burning the impurities of the body and the mind and it leads to the refinement of the body, the mind and the spirit.  I show up at the mat on a regular basis in both my own practice and when I teach.  As a writer it’s required to show up in the writing space with the intent to write without false distractions (hunger, internet browsing, making and receiving phone calls, texting, walking the dog). 

Tapas in a practice generates heat in the body as the muscles, tendons, joints and bone move into a pose (asana) with mindful awareness.  From initiating the movement to holding the pose, the yogi expands his consciousness inward and outward.  Self-study of the micro-movements of the body and the micro-movements of the mind and the breath.  Svandhyaya in writing is conscious awareness of the process.  If hunger arises then examine if the is the hunger real or an excuse to step away from the writing.  In expression of the truth, are the thoughts expressed with the right intention? Is the truth being circumnavigated? Maybe the writer is not yet ready to juice the truth?  

Listen to your body in both practices.  On the mat, to be safe and to transform to higher states, the yogi listens to the body.  Is it tired? Is the yogi ready to scale up to more difficult asanas or to hold the pose longer with more edge?  As in writing, listen to the body. Is it fatigued? Is it tensed when writing something that releases trauma in the tissue.  In yoga therapy the belief is “your biography is your biology”, so it the same in writing.  It is a cathartic process that moves energy of a stored memory in the tissue to the outer sheaths beyond the muscles and skin.  

Finally, with Ishvara-Panidhara, there is release and surrender. Upon initiating the movement into an asana using proper breathing of knowing when to inhale and exhale, while conscious of the spine alignment, the yogi listens to the feedback from all parts of herself.  Where is the resistance?  Where is the flow?  How to adjust?  Is this the edge?  Allow and accept the edges (physical, emotional and mental) to be.  Do not allow the ego to dictate the practice.  Release expectations that push beyond unhealthy edges.  So it is the same in writing.  When forcing a release, sometimes there are means to help take off the edge.  It takes courage to look at a blank page and then dive off the cliff.  A little something can help give courage, but that some thing (be it alcohol, drugs, or eating sweets) can become addictive and unhealthy.  As I described earlier I stopped writing for awhile.  I just needed to be still.  

How can any writing happen in being still?  There are incubation periods and healing periods.  When an athlete or a dancer is hurt part of the recommended physical therapy is rest to allow the injury to heal.  So it is in writing, allow the heart to heal.  To prescribe “stop writing” is not for everyone, but for me it was better to stop for a little while.

I once asked a writing mentor if a writing life means writing all the time.  He had just finished describing a scenario that while waiting at an intersection for the light to turn green, he observed the driver of the car in front of him and it triggered an idea for a piece to write.  So he said that he is always writing though not physically putting words on a page.  The writing life is a way of being.  I recognize the surrender to a writing life of accepting where I am at – at an intersection of my writing life where the light is green and there are road signs saying “Caution”, “Road Under Construction”.  Surrender to what is in the now.  Trust that I am at the right place at the right time.  Let go of the results.  I cannot force a blossom to bloom beautifully when the mini-me gets in the way.  

Why Write?

by Analyn Revilla

I am stretching for a story to share with you to relieve my stress over writing.  Here are a few things I’ve read in the past weeks related to writing.

“Writing is easy.  You just sit and stare at the blank page until the drops of blood form on your brow.”  – This is a sign on the desk of the wife of another writer Philip Zaleski (“The Best American Spiritual Writing” – 2007). His analogy was writing is like praying, a kind of spiritual discipline.  “A spiritual discipline is something you engage in on a regular basis, whether you feel like or not.”

Like others, I’ve struggled with the question “Why write?”.  It’s not something that haunts me.  Although, when I look at the heaps of journals in boxes that I’ve hauled around with me from place to place during the past 40 years, then there’s gotta be something there that draws me to write.  So I look to other writers who write successfully (whatever that means) and those that do it for practice (spiritual or otherwise).

Among the first names that come to mind is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  The process of creating “The Gulag Archipelago”, moved me to ask what was his compulsion to write the manuscript.  

He wrote the three volumes of non-fiction about the forced labor camp system in secrecy, while under the surveillance of the KGB.  Then, following that, if the Soviet government caught anyone with the possession of the manuscript then it would mean imprisonment for ‘anti-Soviet’ activities.  The process of getting the work published was an enormous feat, and unfortunately resulted in the death of Elizaveta Voronyanskaya, an assistant to the writer.  She was captured and tortured by the KGB to reveal the whereabouts of a copy of the typed manuscript.  Shortly after her release, she was reported to have hung herself in her apartment. 

“It is the artist who realizes that there is a supreme force above him and works gladly away as a small apprentice under God’s heaven.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Not sure if the “gladly” was in his mind during the creative process of “Gulag Archipelago”, but there is a joy in fulfilling one’s purpose and he was clearly aware of his purpose.

Margaret Mitchell said in an interview after writing the novel “Gone With the Wind”: “If the novel has a theme, it is that of survival.  What makes some people able to come through catastrophes and others apparently just as able, strong, and brave go under?  It happens in every upheaval.  Some people survive; others don’t.  What qualities are those who fight their way through?  I only know that the survivors used to call that quality ‘gumption.’”

This quote inspired me, because of Nebiy Mekonnen (Ethiopian poet, journalist, playwright and translator).  His story was among the collection of writings in the book “The Best American Spiritual Writing”.  Nebiy was the subject of the essay “Tomorrow is Another Day” authored by Carol Huang.  It describes Nebiy’s experience as a prisoner during the Derg Regime’s Red Terror.  During his eight year term, Nebiy translated the novel “Gone With the Wind” from English to Amharic.  The novel was the sole book available in the prison.  Nebiy and his cellmates shared the book by circulating the book whereby one cell mate had the book for an hour each day before passing it on to the next person in the rotation.  

By Nebiy’s fourth rotation of the book, he started translating it from English to Amharic using the lining torn from empty packs of cigarettes (and he wasn’t even a smoker).  His goal of translating the novel to the native language of his people garnered support from the other prisoners.  Some sacrificed their hour of reading for Nebiy, so that his work could progress faster.  Meanwhile the smokers passed their emptied cigarette packs to his cell so that he could scribble the translations on salvaged paper including “puzzling over phrases such as ‘fiddle-dee-dee’.”  Beyond this laborious process the translated pieces of paper had to be smuggled out of jail.  The bits of paper were folded and repacked into empty packs of cigarettes that were resealed.  The packets were casually transported out of the jail building in the shirt pockets of men released from jail.

“Whether you have black history or a white history, history is history,” he said.  “You have to look for the outcome, which was the America that emerged.  The present wouldn’t have been had the Civil War not been.  That was the basic thing.  I really prayed that the country (Ethiopia) would reach that level.  And really, if you were in prison and read that book and saw the end of it, where of destruction reconstruction come, where out of war comes peace – that is the utmost you can dream of.” – Nebiy Mekonnen from the essay “Tomorrow is Another Day”

“Why write?”, indeed in the face of the enormity of what these three writers have accomplished.  It is humbling to imagine what they’ve done, but at the same time, they humbled themselves to the creative force working through them.  

Staring at a blank page feels like moving a mountain.  I think about it, and see that the mountain is really my ego.  It’s the ego that whispers and sometimes shouts, mouthing the words “You’re not good enough”.  But, there are days when something inside me, the bigger “I” surmounts the little “i”, and then… and then some beads of blood form over my brow.

Writing contains a common thread that binds us together. It is one word strung together to another word and so on and so on, and then a thought is formulated and that thought triggers an emotion. The emotion moves something within, and that something is inside all of us. And that’s what makes us human; and being conscious of this is what makes it sublimely divine. We are divinity, and we’re always aspiring to our higher selves. So this is why I write.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

by Analyn Revilla

Coming back from a brief and fast walk with my dog, my cheeks are burning from the nip of the cold rain.  I love the contrasts of sensations.  Each step, I recount the moments of stepping on slippery rocks and roots along the trail by Lynn Creek in North Vancouver. My dog, sniffing the carpet of dripping moss under a Cypress tree lingers, and lingers.  And now my mind lingers too.  My heart is heavy, my steps are light.  I accept, finally, that I can never go back home.

The home I had was a memory that lived in my heart.  And I recognize that if I continue to yearn and ache for the past then I will continue to bear the weight of loss and longing.  So how do I cure myself of this malaise?

Many of us are self-isolating in our homes waiting for this tide of pandemic to pass.  It is April 7th, 2020, and in a few days Easter will be celebrated quite differently from previous times; and also the beginning of Passover will be a new experience.  These religious milestones are periods of deep reflection and reverence for events that uplifted the mentality and the hearts of people living the Christian and Jewish traditions.  The rituals of these “Holy Days” conflate the past, present and the future.  The past is the remembrance, the present is the practice, and the future is the hope.

And there seems to be an answer to what I just thought and put down on this page.  The past is the remembrance, the present is the practice, and the future is the hope.  

The practice can be anything.  It could be walking, writing, or anything done with mindfulness.  Today, I am remembering to be present to what’s happening now.  It can seem so overwhelming to consider the “what if’s” of the future not yet here.  There are so many permutations that can come out of this present moment.  And the wisdom I’ve read and sometimes remember to do is to be aware of my intention of the moment.  My intention(s) will produce the outcome just like a simple or compound math equation that has two parts on either side of the equal sign. 

So I practice awareness of the feelings and the thoughts that come in flurry, like the raindrops slashing across my eyes, cheeks, nose and lips.  My warm breath condensing to the temperature drop beyond, and I pause to weep for a moment only, then walk on, calm, assured that hope is just beyond the next step, the next breath.

Easier said than practiced, but this is what practice is all about. It is showing up to the page, to the mat, to my feet on the ground, to the listening with an open heart. An open heart that accepts all foibles and doubts without judgment. Once in awhile, I can easily open up the trinket box of memories and wish for things to be what they once were. The scent of a perfume or the colors of a bloom, a snippet of a conversation, a dream – all these can pull me back, but I mustn’t linger lest I lose track of the moment now.

The way of life as I knew it before the lockdowns, a domino effect in towns and cities across the world, will never be the same. Neither you nor I can go back to that way anymore. It’s odd to “feel dirty” after grocery shopping, as I dispose of masks and gloves and anything that might be contaminated into the garbage and the washing machine. Grocery shopping of the past was a treat, filling the basket with favorite things and believing these things will always be there.

So savor the moments, the flavors, the scents, the observations, because it’ll be over soon enough.

Home is where my heart is, to be present and to be aware of the gift of this time.

Why I Don’t Write

It’s been 5 days or more that this task has been haunting me.  What should I write about? What do I want to write about? A slew of ideas come to me, but I am not able to piece any of it together.  Why? Why? Why?

Oh forget the why’s.  Just do it.

So I pop open my laptop, a dinosaur of a Mac OS 10.6.8.  

First the battery had died so I plugged it in. I am baffled, at first, as to which port the power fits into without ruining the jacks.  Hours later, the green light goes on. Yay! Screen displays, password verification… Uh-oh. Oh sh-t. I type in tentatively a few guesses and the screen responds with a terrifying tremble.  Eventually I do get in, feeling guilt. If I did this more often, then all this would be in my bones. Ah well, it’s a new year, I promise to be better. Tally on.

Click on Pages… another hurdle –  ‘Enter your purchased iWork ‘08 serial number’.  Has it been that long? I’ve either misplaced or tossed out the box.  I should’ve saved the number in a file somewhere. Oh well, another one to work on getting better at.  Continuous improvement, right?

Be resourceful.  Ok, got it. Google Docs!  Click on the Safari icon. What now?  “This version of Safari is no longer supported.  Please upgrade to a supported browser…” I press on, hoping I can fool this stupid software.  I tap on the “W” and pops open a dialog box telling me “Unable to load file. Try to load it again or send an error report.”  a big bold pushbutton “Reload” is below the polite words. I am feeling it, like Captain Pickard. “Make it so, Number 1”. This action clears away the dialog box thus inviting me to tap the next letter “h”, and there it is again – “Reload”.  The booming command reminds me of cannons that I feel like aiming aiming at my screen.

Be patient and calm.  Just do it.

I choose to shift courses and use Chrome.  Click. Search for Google Docs, and click again to find a login screen for my Google account – pinky hovers over the ‘a’ of the keyboard, then press and nothing.  Let’s do this again. Pinky hovers over the ‘a’ then down. Nien. Huh? Okay. I now vaguely remember why I haven’t been using this laptop. The ‘a’ letter is no longer functional.  I ingeniously remembered my ‘work around’ for this problem. Open a virtual page and highlight the letter ‘a’, and copy it to the clipboard. Whenever I need the letter ‘a’ then I do quick “Command+V”, and there’s an ‘a’.

Voila!  Fait accompli.

Now just save this puppy and post it. 

The most unexpected things can inspire one to write.  For me it was the briefest email from a friend who sent me a comic strip, saying that he saw “this” and it reminded him of me.