All posts by Analyn Revilla

An Experiment – After “Poor Clare”

After seeing “Poor Clare”, I’m convinced that the story stirs up inquiry about Clare and the arc of her journey from being a young woman enveloped in the bubble of a privileged life to an alternate painful reality beyond the walls of a palazzo.  She was innocent and harmless in her mind until Francis of Assisi showed her how her lifestyle enslaved others into a life of hard labor.  

What I found interesting about the story is the parallel between her story and Siddharta (the Buddha).  Both walk away from their privileged lives.  Their paths diverge where Clare follows Francis of Assisi and serves the poor; while Siddharta goes into a quest  inward into meditation to realize all is Maya.

I think we are all at different stages of awaking to alternate realities.  This is the richness of life. We can explore freely in mind and our hearts and make our own choices.  We stand on the shoulders of giants, including Clare of Assisi, Francis of Assisi, Buddha, our parents, our teachers and an endless list that includes ourselves.  

Playwright Chiara Atik notes that the play does not offer a solution to the crisis of homelessness.  It did however bring me to turn the wheels as to stepping out of our comfort zones, and exploring the power of our true being.

An Experiment – Before “Poor Clare”

“A lot of people don’t know but when I was about 14 or 15 my father lost his job and we became homeless for quite sometime. Of course, we were living up in Canada and I thought we were just camping…”

“…It’s totally out of control now the whole homeless thing. And we’ve really got to do something about it. Not only is it unnecessary to live in this country that way. Let’s face it. It’s getting totally annoying”.


In a few hours I’ll be sitting in a darkened theater with the lights directed on stage to watch “Poor Clare” unfold. My initiative to see this play comes from different places. Firstly, starting with reading Carolina Xique’s interview with playwright Chiara Atik. The second is my curiosity and concern about homelessness.

Facing my own fear, I’ve often asked myself how far am I from a state of being homeless? That thought floats along my spinal column, so that I get out of bed and and put on my game face for work. There are easy days and there are not so easy days. I count my blessings that I’m able to work.

I don’t know anything about homelessness other than what I see on the surface. I’ve talked to some “homeless” men and women to find out about their story. Some feel ok to share the truth or half-truth. I’ve talked with other people to find out their opinion about the state, but I think nobody really knows what it’s all about, because it is complex.

One woman, in her 60’s (maybe she was younger, but being outdoors had weathered her face and body too soon) has a daughter who has family and lives a normal life. “Why aren’t you living with them?” I asked. “Because we don’t get along.” That conversation was sometime ago. I’ve seen this woman a few times again, and she’s off the street now, and lives in an apartment of her own through the means of Section 8.

I’ve met two women who lived in their cars for a period of time. One woman, “Paloma”, was a chef. I met her in a writing class. She was writing a memoir about her life as “people without a house”. She read about her experience in the weekly workshops and I admired her cunning and courage to get through that period of her life. For example, she stayed in the parking lot of a grocery story that gave her access to bathroom facilities. Eventually the staff/management of the store figured out why she was there.

Out of compassion for her, they let her “live” in the parking lot, knowing she was in a transition period and was working to get out of her homeless state. They were also aware of the dangerous elements that a woman being alone could be exposed to. In allowing her to camp in the parking lot, they could keep an eye out for her. Paloma has since found a good position as a personal chef and is thriving in her new life.

The other story, I’m not sure how her life turned out. I met “Claire” at her friend’s yard sale. I had picked out a few things for myself at the yard sale. She and her friend encouraged me to come back next weekend as they promised to have more offerings then. So I did. And that’s when her story unfolded to me. Claire’s friend had decided she could no longer host the yard sale in front of her apartment building. Later, Claire revealed to me that she’s living in her car and had had falling out with her friend.

So, she was trying to make ends meet by selling her clothing (which must’ve been expensive as they were beautiful). She said she had loads of clothes in storage and she imagined that some of them would look “gorgeous” on me. She told me where she spent most of her days, and asked me to visit her. It was at the park where I walked my dog.

She was a complicated woman. I saw her quite regularly. Naturally, I had become friendly with her, because how couldn’t I? I was tempted to invite her for a hot meal to my home, but my friend discouraged me. “You don’t know this woman.” One day, Claire asked me a favor. She wanted to take a shower and asked if I could let her use my bathroom. I didn’t see any harm in it, so we arranged for the meeting.

My friend was aghast. “What?! Are you kidding? Now she knows where you’re living. First, she want to use your shower, and next thing you know she’ll be moving in with you.” Because I didn’t have the courage to backout of my agreement with Claire, my friend was present during Claire’s visit.

Maybe I was wrong on all counts. I just don’t know, but I avoided that park for quite some time, and it was an inconvenient change. I felt uncomfortable engaging further with Claire, because of my own fears. I am deeply curious how I will change after seeing tonight’s play. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

“Beginner’s Mind” & Grief

Before sitting down to write, I googled “Beginner’s Mind in Writing”, and there were several sites that came up, including not surprisingly Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”.  I have it on my shelf, among other books about writing.  

Continuing on the theme of “Beginner’s Mind”, I searched for other areas of interest that this Zen concept has been applied to:  

Sports – 

Music – 

Yoga – 

Cooking –   

Sex – , 

Grief – 

The last one on grief only brought up one link that addresses grief with a “Beginner’s Mind” applied.  It was written in 2004, and it is a resource guide on grief counseling.  The reference to “Beginner’s Mind” was only in the first paragraph.

Defining “Beginner’s Mind”, the Zen Master, Shunryu Suzuki.  wrote,

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.

As it applies to grief, the handbook says,

As bereavement workers we must meet the grieving without expectations about what should happen or what they should be feeling. There are no experts in this work.

– AUTHORS: Susan Wheeler-Roy, Ed.D. & Bernard A. Amyot, M.S., M.A.

I’m still stifled by these words.  My thoughts, emotions, my entire being still freezes when I think of my own grief.  I like that… “my own grief”.  I’m owning it.  I’m not passing it on to anyone else.

Today, someone reached out to a friend asking for my contact information as this person had just recently found out about my husband’s (Bruno Herve Commereuc) death that happened more than three years ago.  It’ll be four years in January 2022.  I imagine how horribly sad and shocking it must be for this person to have just found out. She has pictures of her baby in Bruno’s restaurant, “Angelique Cafe”. Her baby is now a 25-year old man. Bruno had many lifelong friends. He was that kind of a man who was unforgettable and took a big bite out of life. He lived big. He was bigger than life.

They’re now beginning their process of bereavement.  I put myself in their shoes, but it’s not the same.  It’ll never be the same between any two people who knew the same person.  And then there’s this space of time between then and now.  

The five stages of grief, as identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are: 

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Maybe the normal (if there is a “normal”) flow is from 1 to 5, but my experience is it is fluid from one state to another at any given moment, but definitely time is a big factor in processing the loss.  Either time just helps to forget the pain if I don’t want to deal with it (denial), or it just allows me to move along the timeline to be angry, to bargain, to be down and feeling lost, and then after all that, fatigue sets in. I surrender and just accept it.

Then… it could start at anger again, if something pulls me there. But this is when awareness is important. Perhaps having a “Beginner’s Mind” – to be open to possibilities. I have choices. I can choose to be present and just allow the storm to pass and carry on with life again, like everybody else is doing. I’m not the only one who’s suffered. We all suffer. Why hide our imperfections? There are no mistakes, just lessons.

Learn the alchemy

true human beings know.

The moment you accept

what troubles you’ve been given,

the door will open.


I found the information in the resource guide (“a field manual” for bereavement workers), published by the New York State Office of Mental Health to be very good.  Chapter 4 on “Sudden Death Loss Issues” to be quite accurate.  Amongst the identified issues were:

Inability to comprehend– the disbelief of the event does not allow the individual to grasp what has actually happened. There is a searching for “why” and “how” this happened in the initial period following the death-loss event.

The ability to cope is diminished due to the shock of the event and the additional stress that has just been imposed on the individual.  

All true.  I couldn’t cope well with processing information and events.  It was as if I was a new born baby, having to relearn to comprehend.  It was a strange sensation, because I could see myself as the forest, and not in the trees. I witness/ed that I had become incapacitated, and I couldn’t understand how to learn again.  I struggled. I had to regrow neural paths to cope, to survive, to learn to find joy and thrive again.  Talk about “Beginner’s Mind”.

Thank you.  Thank you for trying to seek me out.  I look forward to meeting you and I anticipate I’ll be learning new things about my Bruno.

(Dedicated to a new friend).

LIFE Smiles Back

by Analyn Revilla

I was at a busy intersection on Slauson the day before Halloween 2021.  The van was loaded with large pumpkins and sundries to carry the entire household (humans, dogs and chickens) with food and snacks (the latter considered not as food, but necessary) for three or four days.  The weather was chilly, and I recognized LA has a fall season.  Some deciduous trees had turned their colors to yellow and brown, and dropped their foliage everywhere.  

The intersection at La Cienega is always backed up, and Saturday afternoons aren’t different from the other days.  My eyes wandered as I noted all of the cars sitting idle.  All were pretty much the same:  SUVs, trucks, sedans, vans.  Ho hum… until I spotted one SMART car.

It looked smart.  The shade was an unusual creme neatly outlined by a piping design, akin to a Coco Chanel suit.  I don’t know anything about SMART cars, other than they’re still being sold in Europe, and it’s pretty much dead in the United States.  The Europeans like their compact cars which makes sense when navigating the narrow streets of cities, towns and villages – at least of what I’d seen in my limited travel experience of Europe.  Anyways, it made sense and indeed smart to travel in compact cars in small streets.

Now here’s what struck me as weird.  As I sat in my wide and roomy van, I noticed an arm connected to a hand with fingers that held a lit cigarette.  Why was that odd to me?  I started to see more details.  The opened sunroof billowed smoke into the atmosphere above, while the arm, like a puppet, was drawn in and out of the driver’s side window consistently and rapidly! The pace was like a matador swiftly and adeptly moving a red cape as a bull charges at it. The tease, the dust, the heat and the cry of the crowd incests the animal further, making it charge more furiously towards the bullseye.  This arm was flicking ashes on the street after each inhale of nicotine.  

I watched in wonder for a little while, until I awakened to the trick my mind was knitting together – the juxtaposition of a chain smoker in a teeny car with S M A R T smattered across the back.  I laughed. We are humans. We are inconsistent. I simply love it.

“We’re all bozos on the bus,

so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.”

Wavy Gravy

The Whole Kit & Kaboodle

by Analyn Revilla

In the heat of the afternoon I cleaned the chicken coop and its surrounding grounds – it is one of the methods to keep down the fly population, and it is a labor of love.  The chickens did their thing as I did mine.  Occasionally I’ll see a chase when a rooster haunts after his favorite gal.  Sometimes all of the roosters will gang up on one hen.  I haven’t gotten used to this behavior, and instinctively I want to interfere, but refrain from it.  I really don’t understand their chicken-logic.  I think it’s a territorial thing when the dominant rooster will not accept being cuckold by a lesser chicken in the order of chickendom.  

This afternoon, “Henri” was the energetic one and reigned terror in the roost.  I always watch my back when I’m working in the garden.  In the past, he’s attempted attacking me with his dance and jumps that aim his talons at me.  I meet him straight on.  If I back down then I’m sunk forever.  Despite my bravado, it still scares the heck out of me.  Lucky for me, I have an ally in “Number One” (that is his real name), the main rooster who keeps order in his domain.  He’s smart enough to know not to bite the hands that feed him. “Number One” will peck and chase away “Henri” as soon as he sniffs “Henri’s” evil thoughts.   But, even with “Number One” nearby, I still keep something at hand to fend off “Henri” should he have it in his cuckoo-brain to go-for-it.

As I raked and raked the ground while keeping an eye out for “Henri”, I wondered how pleasant it would be without him around.  I’ve threatened him numerous times that he would make a tasty pot of Coq-au-vin if he keeps up with his nasty behavior.   After 3 years of living in the near-terror of having this nasty rooster around, today I finally asked myself more than once if it would be nicer without him around.  

The action of raking and raking, then dumping the manure mixed with dirt into the garbage can, and sweating in my farmer’s uniform of coat and boots under the blistering sun, I started to melt. 

“Wouldn’t it be nice?” I pondered.  “Wouldn’t it?”  

I questioned my own thoughts.  The little urban farm looked cleaner as I moved from one side of it to the other.  My thoughts became less clouded as my body drenched in sweat was refreshingly fatigued.  As I gathered my garden tools and walked out of the little farm I felt less inclined  to be rid of “Henri”.  I came to the conclusion that without characters like “Henri” life would be less interesting, if not only less hazardous. Another day, and again, “Henri” and I have come to a truce.  I went inside, peeled off my wet clothes and showered away the dirt and salty sweat.

Without the “Henris” and “Number Ones” vying for the top roost and the best girls, then my chickens would just be hollow zombies.  There wouldn’t be that tension and heat that sizzles the mystery of what it is that we do.

life, funny little life.

by Analyn Revilla

We share the universal phenomena of life, love and death and everything in between.  As human beings we move and travel in linear time in our mind and in the cycles of the season with our senses. 

We pass our minutes, days, weeks, months, years and decades like the spokes of a wheel marking the miles and miles of the journey with selfies, postcards and worries. 

We cry tears of joy or sorrow. We burst out laughing in madness or glee.  It’s really a wonder to me how full life can be.

After many false starts I am still here.

I’m learning to surrender to the wonder of it all. 

As I drove home from my other job, navigating the streets and freeway traffic, I knew I had to write something. Maybe from fatigue or emptiness, I toyed with the idea of conveying silence.  Words can make a lot of noise. One word can be loud.

So let me try singing silence to you.

Just be still.

Just be.

After spending a week in the hospital as someone dear to me recovered from surgery I felt moments melting together. The thought of losing someone to their last breath condenses time. I don’t mind now that he doesn’t pick up after himself. I will miss it if I lose him.

Chasing Lilacs

by Analyn Revilla

In Edmonton where the winters are very cold and can last into early April the lilacs bloom heartily and they are sweet smelling.  A childhood memory is cutting down the tall stalks from the ancient bushes across the street from my home.  I made leis and crowns of the little blossoms that I plucked from the frond, like pinching bits of cotton candy from the cone.  

The common name of lilac is derived from the Persian word for blue.  Here is why:

Where they grow native, a lilac bush will appear in ordinary spaces making them extra-ordinary for a short period of time.  I’ve seen a single bush soften the harshness of concrete and metal with the wanton splay of branches, laden with French white lilac blooms. Syrina Vulgaris is native to the Balkan Peninsula where it grows on rocky slopes.  Perhaps it is the lilacs’ nature after all.

T.S. Eliot used lilac in two of his poems: “Portrait of a Lady” and “The Waste Land”.  In the latter he recognizes the lilacs by…

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

a little further on…

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water.

This lilac that has captured my imagination since childhood is more than sweet and heady.

I had to write this last blog because spring is upon us and the lilacs are ephemeral. Since living in LA I’ve been chasing lilacs.  There are two places to lose one’s self in lilac dreams.  In a few weeks time, by Easter perhaps, they’re expected to come out in blue splendor at Kilcoyne Lilac Farm in Acton, CA.  (  I just bought a dual membership for Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, CA ( where the lilacs started blooming in early March ( 

Just go!


le fo’u












no perfect





spillchecker, grimmer-checker








b o t  









Analyn Revilla

Keep Calm and Ride On

by Analyn Revilla

Can I just be honest and admit that sometimes I feel envy…

It’s a hard knock to realize that some dreams aren’t meant for me.  This struck me not long after my husband died so suddenly.  We spent years building towards a dream. We wanted a farm with our animals and to live simply on love, song and wine.  We were getting so close to it, then poof!! All that disappeared one crazy day three years ago.

Sometimes you just want to say ~#$@0WTF!%8* 

After convalescing for three years I’ve learned to breathe again.  I had jobs to keep things going.  I made new friends while some dropped off, and those who stayed have sustained me. Thank you.  I learned new skills. I became an urban chicken farmer and a yoga teacher.  My three dogs and I, along with sixteen chickens, are generally doing pretty good:  there’s space to grow in our little home in South LA, I haven’t caught COVID, there’s internet, there’s food in the fridge and the ‘bestest’ is plumbing!  I can turn on the taps and there’s cold water and hot water, and I can mix the two to a perfect temperature, under which I can luxuriate for a decent amount of time. I also have a boyfriend now who keeps me grounded when my head is in the clouds, or lifts me up when I am blue or feeling Holly Golightly’s “mean reds”.

I still beat myself up when I catch myself thinking, “Hmmmm.  I wonder what it’s like to drive a new car, especially that sleek Tesla”, or that I’m working at some kind of artsy project.  I can even envy a dog with its head out the window of a car while its floppy ears and gorgeous fur is blowing in the wind like some 70’s TV commercial for shampoo.  I wish I was like that dog being taken out for a drive to the beach.  “Rover” is beautiful and carefree.

I try to practice what I teach in my yoga classes to “Allow and accept where you are today”.  

I recently finished reading “Advice on Dying and Living a Better Life” (authored by HRH, 14th Dalai Lama and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins).  Rather than focus on what I don’t have, appreciate what I have, because life is short.

Another imagery that brings it home for me are these lyrics from “Time” by Pink Floyd. 

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over

Thought I’d something more to say

“time” by Pink Floyd

One form of happy is to keep my envy in check.  Next time I witness something that stimulates my sense of lack, I pause and tell myself, “Some dreams aren’t meant for me”, then keep calm and ride on, hangin on in quiet desperation.

On Kindness

by Analyn Revilla

Sometime today, a man calls his doctor to say he’s running a little late.  He is literally five minutes away, and that he’s already in the parking lot and he’s awfully sorry.  He’s at the lobby where there are elevators to choose from – one side leads to the West Wing while the other goes to the East Wing.

An elderly man approaches the elevators.  He is confused as to which elevator to take.  Meanwhile, the other man, already late for his appointment, realizes he’s in the wrong building.  He had transposed the building address of 2634 to 2143. The other building is another ten minutes away. Then there’s also the problem of finding parking.  The elderly man looks to the left then to the right and then at the address written on a piece of paper. He shoots a helpless expression to the other guy.

Anxious that he is already late, and his doctor had arranged for a technician to come specifically to give him an EEG test, he asks the man where he needs to go. He verifies the name in the directory listing and escorts him to the correct elevator.

Driving to building 2634, he considers calling the office again to let them know he’s running later than he said earlier.  He reconsiders. It wouldn’t make sense, because he had already said he was ‘only 5 minutes away’. That was twenty minutes ago.

When he walks into the doctor’s office, the EEG Technician named Melinda is clearly unimpressed. She is due at another location for more EEG exams after his appointment. The receptionist is uncomfortable. He attempts to ease the tension by first offering a box of See’s chocolates to her. She smiles generously with a warm ‘Thank you.’ Then he draws a second box of the same for Melinda, but her trite ‘Thank You’ and tense expression only deflates the mood.  She marches him to an examination room.

Inside, she asks him to roll up the sleeve of his left arm, and as he does this he exposes a bruised and swollen forearm. ‘Where did you get that?’, she asks him.  ‘At the Endocrinologist’s office when they tried to draw blood.’ he says.  That was less than a week ago. Her left eyebrow lifts. ‘Really.  Which one?’  Upon giving his answer she says, ‘My husband and I go to his office. He is an excellent doctor, but I never let them take my blood there.” She pauses. ‘They just don’t know how to draw blood over there.  Someone should tell them.’

Having something in common between with them, he senses a softening of her eyes and her lips. She assures him the bruising and swelling will clear up. After an hour of running tests, before he leaves, she tells him that she has a sweet tooth and the chocolates are perfect.