Friday, January 16, 2015

Stepping Out to Step Up

A friend sent me a link to an article from the Guardian online (one of my favorite and most trusted news sources). It was about 'likes' on Facebook which up electronic surveillance and data sharing on the 'likee'. A byline under the title mentioned losing our souls by clicking 'like.' 've known about this surveillance and data sharing for some time.. and in actuality, I don't think there is anyway you can remain private on the Internet. The things you don't want repeated or used need to be said face to face... not in emails or on cellphones or in public places.. and it all reminds me of Brazil in the 70s, what happened in Chile and Argentina. When someone told you to step outside in a friend's garden where you were warned against speaking inside anywhere, including cars. Warned against talking freely on telephones (nationally and internationally). That was then. This is now and if we thought the 70s with all the desaparecidos and the military governments and dictators were bad! Now, the desparecidos are robotized, militarized and zombied! Today, we're being hit from all sides and from all directions; from food to civil rights, our immune systems, climate change and Orwellian oversight which in simpler terms is confinement and containment. That said, I believe we've been specifically called to be here now. What an honor! What a blessing! To be asked to be more of who we were designed to be. I was amazed by the powerful energy thrust I felt when 2014 became 2015. And this is what's happening. Either you let go of what hasn't worked or what has held you back, or it will be done for you. There are no exceptions. This is our emotional and spiritual and physical turning point. We, and others like us are the akaline content to an acidic world. And many more are on their way to join us. Excitement, intent and life affirming energy are all contagious. What struck me and made me want to dance (I actually threw my arms in the air and did a little samba solo in the wifi cafe the other day) is how incredibly comfortable I feel inside my body. More than ever before. How incredibly powerful it feels to be connected with the universal life force. To have that energy working through me 24/7 and all it took was an unconditional yes and thank you! How incredibly comfortable it is to intuit... to draw from that beautiful sense of connection. I predict we're going to see increasingly honed intuition that compels us to yes! Soft engagement with negative forces is over..we're now engaged in precision laser like defense and offense. Firm compassion, loving support that launches and surrounds others, full self body love - getting in shape. Lean, fit, flexible and strong. Love and care for all beings.. and I see this picking up speed, especially in nature and with wild creatures and the domesticated. There will be more meaningful loving relationships with our self, friends, community, lovers and partners, and all living creatures and organisms. We're being asked to stand up, to say out loud who we are and what we believe. And as others join us the sound of all those unified voices, the physical, emotional and psychic preparation/connections will be our greatest shield and our greatest weapon. The finest sword is tempered by the hottest flame... that's you, that's me, and that's us. Sending out a namaste (I see the divine in you) to all my brothers and sisters, my ancestors, and all living beings. May this be a year blessed with an abundance of love, laughter, fulfillment and large measures of grace.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is the best of all the holidays for me. As a child, it was Christmas - hovering on the razor's edge of trying to stay awake to hear Santa and his reindeer, the inevitable fall into sleep. Waking early, the greed that propelled me downstairs to find my gifts under the Christmas tree. The joy of ripping packages apart to discover what was inside. Of course, there were thanks you, often decidedly brief and hugs and kisses. It was only later, over the passage of years, I began to understand the fullness of giving thanks and being grateful. And I believe the depth of that understanding will keep on growing over my lifetime, and possibly beyond. Today, this day, this moment, I'm giving thanks for each bite of a sumptuous feast of memories, some spicy, some achingly sweet and joyful. Some bittersweet. Today, I'm grateful for food on the table, a fire in the fireplace, and the river which was supposed to flood, but for some reason changed its mind. And isn't that what rivers do - have their way? I'm grateful for a reasonably sound mind. And discounting the bum knee, which will be changed in January for a bionic version that in my wildest fantasies has me leaping over small buildings, I'm giving thanks for a sound body. I'm grateful for those who are out there expressing gratitude for life by giving to those in need. The caregivers. The listeners. The educators. The openers of hearts. The menders. The carriers of light. I'm giving thanks to the mean ones, the deniers, the pompous and the greedy who serve as wake up calls to what's inside us - what we sometimes forget - that we're all connected. I'm giving thanks for friends present and friends lost, for friends yet to come. I'm grateful for those who've looked past my flaws and my careless mistakes, who know what it is to be human and stay. And I'm giving thanks for all of you, who've become family. In one way or another, unknowingly or with intent, you've enriched my life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The bittersweet passion of being a mother in multi color world

Following the grand jury's decision about the fatal shooting of the teenager Michael Brown, I can't stop thinking about what it would be like to be the mother of a young black man in America today. It's not as if I haven't thought about it before. I have. And I've made an effort when possible to help, and as a woman especially my African female friends. But I, like many other white women who are mothers, tend to get wrapped up with what's close to my own life. My own child, her welfare and my daily battles and victories make it easier to forget. I can't pinpoint one particular reason why this tragedy has captured my attention in such a powerful way. But it has. But this morning, I sat down to envision what it would be like to start the day as the mother of a teenage African american boy. I would fix a healthy breakfast while the two of us talked about our plans, to do lists; who we would be seeing and where we would go. And underlying this conversation would be the understanding that my boy's beautiful coffee or deep black skin color could provoke mistreatment and scorn at any given moment in anyplace. I wouldn't have to tell him be careful of the police, they might hurt you, we'd already had that talk. And deep down, I knew there would be times when nothing I could do would change the violence he'd might face. He would already know he shouldn't walk too fast because that would make him look guilty. And unlike the time when my white boyfriend ran down the street toward the drive in dairy in an all black neighborhood at the edge of a ghetto, the police wouldn't pull up and ask if he needed help. Nor should he walk too slow because then he'd look suspicious. He would know not to keep his hands in his pockets and avoid hoodies. As he gathered his books, I would remember the old white woman in the supermarket who took one look at him, turned and sped down another aisle. The time when we'd stopped at a liquor store so I could buy a bottle of wine. I'd disappeared to the back when I heard shouting. Rushing to the front, I saw the owner aiming a gun at my boy. Threatening to kill him. My boy's hands were empty. He hadn't taken a thing. And he was angry. 'Go ahead and shoot me, old man,' he'd shouted. And faced with a gun, what does a mother do? I told the 'gunslinger' we were leaving and dragged my boy outside. My son wouldn't have been happy. He would have resisted, but my visceral instinct as a mother was the overwhelming desire for him to live to see another day. To let him intelligence and creativity take him places he'd only imagined, but was afraid would never happen. I would have told him, there are other ways to promote and support change. Maybe he would already know this because he'd attended the self esteem classes for teen age black boys held by the teenage african american friend of my daughter. And as he left for the day, I would have held him. And as he walked away, wearing his non offensive clothes, with his non offensive hair cut, his careful walk, I would have been hit by the pain of knowing I might not see him again. Of knowing that if he did come home that night, something might have happened that took him to place full of anger and rage. An alien place where a mother's love couldn't enter. A place where a mother's worst night mare would come true. None of these happened to me. They were told to me by African american women who are mothers and friends, soul sisters, grandmothers. I can imagine what it felt like. I can write about it. I've even cried about it. But even, I've gone as far as a white woman can truly know. What I do know down deep is that good mothers have never been more important than they are today. As women who are mothers we need to own that innate power we share and up the ante. Join with others of all colors and creeds. Start in our neighborhoods, at churches, in coffee shops and libraries to talk about how we can empower mothers. As mothers we're usually the ones who spend the most time with children. Invite the rainbow of mothers and children into our homes. Share stories. Stories passed down by our mothers and grandmothers about victories. How we got help. We need to tell them about failure, self forgiveness. How we let go and moved forward. And most of all they need to hear every single day that we haven't lost faith. That we're not giving up. That as mother gatekeepers, we promise to keep the passage that leads to the future open because all children matter.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Coming Home is a longing that's particularly strong in me on this gray, wet day. And isn't that the feeling that sent me out into the world on a lifeline search. Find Home. The first time I went looking for something other than the war zone of my parent's home was at the age of six. I ventured several blocks away and found a small avocado tree where I spent the night. Shivering with fear of the monsters that lurked outside its sheltering branches on a road where there were few streetlights and houses were set at distance from each other. There've been many other times in the years since then that I've ventured into the world hoping to find a home away from pain and anger and hopelessness that rise up from the obstacles life throws in my path - many of my own creation. There were the tears from loneliness and want after seeing the happy homes depicted in movies, books and on tv, only to discover they were nothing more than a cruel Hollywood myth. The rage and loss of balance that sent me to a wreck of one room apartment waiting to be renovated. A hotel room on the West Side of I rented during my first job in NYC, which I decorated with small pots of ivy, dried flowers, candles and colorful pillows. This morning, I waded to shore after floundering in my own tempest of self indulgence of helplessness. This time I was afraid I might never walk normally again. You see I've been told I need a knee replacement. The pain keeps me up nights and wakens me before I'm ready to get out of bed. The fears centered around questions like 'what if I didn't find a surgeon my health insurance would cover? What if the surgery went wrong. Would I ever be able to long walks in the country or dive into those adventures I enjoy walking for hours through cities and towns? What if I'll never be abe to do my yoga stretches again? Dance around the living room to pounding rock and roll or salsa, twitching my hips in a way that makes me feel more like a woman? And what if I'm left with a portion of the surgeon's bill that will be a burden for months to come? Without fully using my body, I tire more easily. Other aches and pains emerge. But this morning I arrived home, or at least to the front door. It's open because even if I never walk normally again. If my health starts sliding downhill from lack of exercise, there's still enough time and life to make what's left to me count. To live large with what's at hand. You see, if all those fears manifest into what is, I want to be like the woman I met a few years ago. A retired attorney whose resided in an assisted living facility. Whose bed was covered by books, along with a computer and ten telephones, all of which she used to do pro bono work for people who couldn't afford the services of an attorney. Home for her about compassion. She lived large; creatively and courageously. Thinking of her, I managed to conjure up a place where the door was open. There was a fire inside the fireplace. Fragrant smells coming from a cast iron pot bubbling on the stove top. The one I use for delicious soups, hearty stews and jambalayas. Looking down the mat on the doorstep said Welcome Home.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Answer(s) Are Blowin' In The Wind

Was feeling a little blue last night thinking of missing the saturday night dance, in a town that remains new to me; a fairly isolated one at that. Went out on the deck with a glass of white wine. Dylan's voice drifted outside - 'the answer is blowin' in the wind.' That little bump brought a giggle as I remembered letting go of the Saturday Night Dance fever a long time ago! My days are busy with work, exploration and although I've had a couple of intriguing meets, those deep meaningful friendships in a new place can take time.
The phrase lingered as I drifted off to sleep.
The story of the man stranded on his roof as the river rose. You may know the one. He's praying for rescue. A boat arrives, then a helicopter. He sends both away saying he's waiting for Divine Salvation. When he arrives in heaven, he asks... why didn't you answer me. You darn, fool, I sent help twice and you refused.
Thinking that maybe Dylan had something going on, I was reminded how easy it is to miss the boat!
This morning, after my morning routine of meditation and breaking fast, I checked my email. Anjanita had posted a photo of flowers and an excerpt from The Little Prince and his one rose. (author St. Euxpery). On the deck were two gorgeous pink rose blossoms. Most of the roses didn't survive the excess rain, but these two exuded a beautiful perfume.

Went outside to sweep the front entry and noticed that the mat was facing my way. It said Welcome!

The Saturday Dance has begun...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Five Reasons for Laughing In Times of Adversity

Laughter flies into the face of fear and brings us back to hope.

In today’s world, we need to have courage and indulge in borderline insanity to laugh, but laughter redeems us. It takes us out of the shadows and into the sunlight. It exorcises the demons of ego and ignorance. It helps us accept our imperfections. We are after all, comical beings.

I keep a cache of films that I watch whenever I need a good belly laugh. They include among others Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Charlie Chaplin and his character the little tramp, along with the classics by Laurel and Hardy. Watching them I’m able to laugh at those moments when life seemed to take an embarrassing turn, or threatened to overwhelm me. For instance, the allergy attack that surfaced during my wedding ceremony and had me sneezing all the way through. (I should have known that the allergy was a strong hint about the relationship that ended in divorce!) There was the auspicious moment when I, the single mom, paddling as fast as she could exec left the house in a rush to attend a business presentation with my sweater inside out. Putting on my poker face, I promised it was a new fashion trend and the formal atmosphere shifted. I got the job and laughed all the way home.
When I was nine months pregnant I attended a ceremony with the Dalai Lama. Afterward, as I attempted to kneel to receive a blessing - not an easy thing to do when you have a 30-pound belly that defies any grace you might ordinarily possess. As I came close to ending up in a heap at his feet he gestured for me to remain standing. His belly laughter set me off. We both ended up in tears.
Being too rational not only stifles laughter, it puts the lid on creativity. Creativity happens when we cut loose from the boredom of logic and shoot for the moon no matter how absurd or impossible it may seem. Some of the world’s most creative people were laughed at for their ideas, only to have their detractors shuffle their feet in chagrin. In 1977, Ken Olson, the President of Digital Corporation said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” We can all be grateful that Stan Wozniak and Steve Jobs who gave us Apple Computers didn’t feel the same way.

If there’s anything I’ve ever been sure of, it’s that the Gods have a sense of humor. We receive sound advice and then we ignore it and when we return, asking why didn’t you let me know; they laugh and laugh and laugh.

Five Reasons to Laugh:
1)When we laugh, we leave the ordinary behind.
2)Laughter helps us be freer, more spontaneous.
3)Laughter is a universal language.
4)Laughter aids digestion, comforts us and helps us stay alert.
5)Laughter helps save relationships.

When was the last time you really laughed at something you did and how did it make you feel?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Labels Are Ghosts That Cling to Our Backs

Just because the message may never be received, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth sending - Japanese Buddhist teaching.
Labeling people is something I not only distrust; it makes me sad. For instance, Helen Keller, blind and deaf, was early on labeled as dumb – something that’s not uncommon for someone who’s challenged in speaking. She was fortunate enough to meet a woman who wanted to know her, to help. In the ensuing years, her gifts were uncovered, and she went on to become a well-known author and advocate for women’s suffrage and people with disabilities. She counted among her good friends, Mark Twain and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It’s easier to label the woman who washed clothes for years on end as the ‘help’, the one who could always be seen with her hands in soapy water, or bent over an ironing board. Then you learn when she’s retired or dead, that she saved close to a million dollars and left it all to scholarships for at risk children who promised to graduate from high school. I like to imagine that at least 10 out of those 100 went on to create a life very different from what others believed they were destined to live.
Today, labeling has become particularly insidious. It’s easy to call someone an extreme conservative or socialist commie. Sometimes, I wish I could sit down with one of them for an hour or more. As they began to preach about that person or party and the damage they’d done, I imagine a conversation that might go something like this:
1) Me: I can see that this really concerns you and I want to be sure I fully understand you’re saying. Could you please state that in slightly different terms?
(That tends to slow someone down, because they think that since you didn’t hear what they said, you’re probably slow, or even dumb.)
2) Then I would repeat what they said and ask if I got it right. Then I would give them more recognition. ‘I can hear how this concerns you. Is there anything else that concerns you about this? Can you expand on what you’re saying?
(Now they know you’re listening and they tend to talk not only slower, but more thoughtfully.)
3) After they’ve expanded on their thoughts, I tell them ‘I can see how that could
be really troubling. I’ve thought about that too, in slightly different way. I proceed to lay out my thoughts, seeking ways we can find a mutually agreed upon solution. At that moment in time, we be successful, but we may have opened a door to future dialogue.
The highly esteemed author and creator of Non Violent Communications, Marshall Rosenberg was once called to assist at a meeting of Jews and Palestinians that took place on the West Bank. The first day was rife with accusations and labels – ‘Murderer’ and ‘Thief’ as each side unloaded all of their loss and anger. Then came the second day. Each of those horrifying experiences were verbally recognized by the opposite side. Then, Rosenberg began to ask each one: What is it you really want? What do you need? What can’t you live without?
By the end, everyone in the room realized that the two things they wanted most were two things they all shared; safety, and a chance for their children to be educated. Then they began talking about small steps they might take to make those things happen.
Labels are the ghosts of our emotions and our imagination. Feeding those ghosts has them clinging to our backs. They speak through our words. They impoverish our conservations and our lives.
When you find yourself labeling someone else, stop and ask yourself:
1)Who does this person love?
2)Has he ever cried?
3)Is he lonely?
4)What changed him from the child he once was?
5)Did anyone ever tell him he mattered?
6)What is he really seeking?

Somewhere inside those questions, you may find a shared truth.