Virgo: Adrienne Maree Brown

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adrienne maree brown is:
– a writer
– a sci-fi/Octavia Butler scholar
– an organizational healer
– a pleasure activist
– a facilitator
– a life/love/relationship/work coach
– a network weaver
– a speaker/singer (including wedding singer) and
– a doula
living in Detroit.

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adrienne maree brown wrote a book that continues to transform my thinking about so many things. It deepens connections between all of our locations and selves - it continues to help me rethink what activism and transformation looks like on the daily. Read Emergent Strategy! Read adrienne's blog! Follow her on instagram! Her work is a beautiful expression of Virgo energy - and so many more things - but it's so damn thorough, in such deep relationship with nature and life itself, so humble, smart, honoring and naming all the influences and resources from which she draws ... the principles she's collected feel essential in a million ways right now. So happy to share these words of hers below in this interview.

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1. When do you experience the most joy?

When I am facilitating a room full of history-makers and we break through societal blocks to experience freedom together. When I have a new idea and room to dream it out. When I am reunited with people I love. When I am anticipating pleasure. 

2. From engaging with your writing and speaking, I see the Virgo qualities of analysis and humility, awe of the natural world, fascination with and study of efficient processes and systems, etc. There’s so much practical, grounded material in your work - I wonder if you experience the typical Virgo struggles of overanalysis, self-criticalness, getting lost in the details? (It seems, in a way, that Emergent Strategy could be a self-help manual on how to manage and heal those tendencies!)

Oh for sure. Whenever something goes 'wrong' my first words/thoughts are still some variation of calling myself an idiot. I am able to catch it quickly now, or catch the perfectionist tendency, and move through to the work. But I am atypical in terms of the details - I like to work with people I trust and task out a lot of details, I give myself permission to obsess over details at the level of words and facilitation, because those are areas where I can see my unique offer most clearly. The rest I let go, sometimes to my detriment. The key is learning to trust - a lot of those traits are rooted in not trusting. Virgos who trust live fuller, less anxious lives.

3. What practices / people / places feel most alive for you right now in healing and transforming challenging patterns in your life? How have those practices / people / places evolved over time?

Meditation and therapy, especially somatic therapy, feel like necessary practices for me and for all people. It's hard for me to trust people who don't have a way to get quiet, to reflect on their lives, to take responsibility for their emotional states. That has been a big learning for me - there is the life that you get, and there is what you make of it. That second part is the space where art, beauty, grace, humor, humility, surrender, magic - all the good stuff comes in through the work you do to shape your life. I love that I am learning to listen to my body, listen to the memories there, listen to the present moment in me, listen to the future adjusting my current actions. 

4. How do you relate to urgency, when it arises, in your current life? When do you act on urgency? When do you not act on it? How do you decide how to respond to it?

Sometimes I ignore it. Sometimes it really motivates me into action. I am really not interested in urgency guiding my life except at a spiritual level. I believe we are in a time that needs our spiritual attention in an urgent way, needs us to wake up in an urgent way. I have an internal process though - I don't do things out of obligation - urgent obligation makes life feel falsely important or impossible. I really tune into my own passion, whether I can actually be useful. I don't give too much attention to things that I can't see a way to impact.

5. At the end of Emergent Strategy you talk about how the whole motivation of the book is love. Does the presence of this love feel persistent? Does it ebb and flow, or are there times it feels harder to connect to it? What do you do if / when it does feel more distant? And if it doesn’t ever feel distant, why do you think that is? 

Love is constant. My perspective gets shaped by my suffering and my practices. Struggle, suffering is also constant. I let my suffering be a measure of my love of life, freedom, connection. That shifting of perspective is a practice. It's one thing to know love is there. It's work to surrender into it. Life's work.