Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Armor up!

In the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas I have become activated, awake, and wanting nothing more than to understand where I, on a personal level, will go from here.

First, a MAJOR concern. The shooting occurred Sunday night. I didn’t find out until Tuesday at 4pm. Not one of the thirty or more people I came in contact with discussed it. Not one! After watching an 18 minute video of a first-hand account by a taxi driver outside Mandalay Bay, my heart felt like it had been wrenched out of my chest. I instantly called a friend. How could I come in contact with THAT MANY PEOPLE, and not know about this? Which led me to my next major concern.

Fearful. Desensitized. Numbed. Powerless.

As a mental health therapist when a person presents with symptomology, I diagnose. Like a zombie, I left the office, but upon seeing another human, standing next to me on the street, I couldn't remain quiet. “Did you hear about the Las Vegas shooting?” “Yes." he said, "I am in shock.”
Two days later and still shocked? I called another friend, and asked her why hadn’t I heard about it. “I think we’re just numb as a people.” Again, two days after?

It’s as though we’ve become so fearful of experiencing pain, individually and collectively, we just won’t go there. Instead we stay in shock, move to numb, then feel powerless. And the cycle continues, very much like the domestic abuse cycle graph.
Heard about the boiling frog parable? If a frog is thrust into a pot of boiling water it will jump out, however if a frog is put in tepid water then brought to a boil slowly it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.
Sound familiar?

Where is the anger?

I believe we are so fucking angry that we don't know what to do about. Well, that's not entirely true. We certainly know how to blame and finger point, passing the buck on the next guy.

A diseased mentality

The truth is we have have lowered our life expectation bar. This is our new norm, and if things stay this way, they will continue to get worse. But slowly. Remember the frog?
Where do we go from here, because the way I see it it's either one of two things. 1) "Call me in 2020. I'll send my absentee ballot in then," or 2) Act.

Action, action we want action...

We take the truth of our hearts - the anger, disappointment, and grief - as well as the experience of the days when kids could safely play outside and then demand answers. How? BE CREATIVE. Use your experience, resources, and energy to find your unique voice in all this. Set up a meeting with your school principal? Look into cities policies? I might email my local police precinct, city council, etc, CC'ing as many people as possible asking about how they see we can make our community safer. I might look into mental health risk assessments, and how to get them implemented in the guying of guns in my own community.
Here the major takeaway folks. We need REAL solutions. If something isn't going to work, then we need to push further and find something that will. Being that we are in the thick of a diseased mentality, a Black Death of sorts that has swept over our ideas, thoughts, and beliefs, we need healing. Real healing. The solution doesn't come from getting better locks on our doors. The solution comes when we get up, walk out the front door, put on our Superman capes and get to work!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Let's March...

I started this blog several years ago. It started as a travelog then shifted to more of an interpretation of all things people. Our minds. Communication. Love.

I’m a little older now. Perhaps wiser. All in all I’m the same woman I was then - on a mission - and filled with a passion to connect with people about life and truth. 

Pardon, but I’m still coming off the election high and slightly edgy. That “edge” might actually be here to stay, and I am ok with that. I’ll readily admit, especially towards the end of the election, I felt as though I'd been tar and feathered - psychologically speaking - with all the hate and ugliness I witnessed.

Standing up to internet bullies is a painful job, one in retrospect I question whether the end justifies the means. I hope so. But I don't know. I am glad that *fingers crossed* the worst of it is over.  Since I'm on the subject of action, specifically with regards to anger, I need to share dialog from one of the most wonderful conversations I've ever experienced. It is a conversation between comedian Dave Chappelle and poet/activist Maya Angelou.  --

Dave Chappelle -- “What was it like living through, 8 or 9 assassinations? What does that do to a generation, having lived through that and having known these people? If this was me, I imagined I’d still be angry with my country, I’d be angry with anybody who let that happen to my friends?

Miss Maya Angleou-- “If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone or you’re too sick to be angry. You should be angry. Now mind you, you must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger, yes, you write it, you paint it, you dance it, you march it, you vote it, you do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”

Her words are like music to my soul. 

Ok Maya, I'll march. December 3rd. 12-3pm. Seattle Women March Against Hate. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Quarters, crumpled receipts, and blackened croutons smoothly cascaded from the dust pan into a black garbage-lined bin. Clutter is the problem. Instinctively, I shook and interchanged the room’s two rugs, re-positioned an old camera and sprayed three pumps of a designer perfume. Before turning to leave, I made imaginary check marks over areas to be cleaned later.

I need to relax. With a laptop settled into my stomach I tethered one ankle around its mate, and allowed the morning's thoughts to wash over me.

Am I a “good enough” writer?  

Is my writing boring?

Does what I do matter?

You know, the usual super deep unanswerables. Deep in my thoughts, I felt an unease sweep over my body, when I replayed a comment from a customer at work.

“Finally. Your hair's getting longer. Much better. Women with short hair aren’t feminine.”

Until his comment I'd forgotten that I was a woman, and was unaware that femininity was something I could lose. But then again, I reminded myself, there will always be comments about what is and is not expected of a woman.

"A woman buying a house on her own?"

"A woman going on a road trip alone? You'll need someone to protect you."

"Shave your head? But, you're a woman!"

Yes, I am a woman. And yes, unfortunately, I care about what you think.

* * * * *

I am 360 days without a drink of alcohol. And, I realize today, Mother's Day, is a trigger for me. I know how important writing, gardening, or photography is when I feel shaky, as I do now, so writing it is. I think the mental challenge helps ground me. It forces me to mold the abstract into words, into paragraphs, that play into a story that (hopefully) ties into the bigger picture.

Over half my life ago my Mom used to sing to me. It wasn't very often, but when she did, I clung to each and every word. She'd sing You Are My Sunshine

In an almost whispery melody she'd sing a verse followed by the chorus, then a verse followed by the chorus. She sit on the edge of my bed and with her warm hand stroke my hair and sing.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away." She'd pause, look at me and then continue.

"The other night dear, while I lay sleeping. I dreamt I held you in my arms. When I woke up, I'd mistaken. Then I hung my head and I cried."

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."

I thought about going to visit the cemetery today but I knew it'd depress me. So, instead I went for a drive. I stopped at a local nursery to pick flowers up for my yard and upon entering the store the Mother's Day buzz was all around me. A young woman's hand was held to her hip, while her other hand held the handle of a cart full of flowers. She waited for an answer from a woman who looked like an older version of herself. She didn't receive a response and I imagined her to be frustrated. I told myself that maybe it was better for me this way; my mom's and my relationship although non-existent, still could exist in whatever form my mind chose. So, with my imagination I painted a land for just the two of us...

(Today my Mom and I danced in the street. We kicked our feet up to our sides, watching to see who could be more silly. We sipped mochas at a coffeeshop and we giggled about love. I watched her eyes light up when she spotted a newborn baby. With our toes we etched hearts in the sand. When we parted I hugged her tight and told her that this was the best day, ever. She told me, "Me too. Say, why don't we do it again next year.")

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inspiration or Obligation...

Isn't it interesting how we take on other people's anxiety as our own? I had an experience recently where a friend planned on moving in with her boyfriend. She showed me a building where her cats were going to stay, separate from her boyfriend's house. I instantly felt negative about her move, as her cats were a big part of her life and their living outside was not something I thought she wanted. When I shared my concern with her she smiled and explained that I must have been picking up on her anxiety about the move. She explained it wasn't her boyfriend that was against the cats being in the house (he actually looked forward to their addition), it was that she was anxious about inhabiting his space.

We behave in ways that we believe will make other people feel better, but in doing so we jeopardize our own well-being. Taking action from a state of inspiration rather than from a place of obligation is makes all the difference between living an authentic versus insincere life.

Give only when it feels good to do so. 

If taking action feels good - do it - and if it doesn't, wait. The inspiration to act will come at just the time, at just the right moment. When you give when it feels inspiring to do so, you will flow seamlessly with the stream of life, or closer to do so anyway. It seems inspiration hasn't quite hit me yet, so I guess I'll take my own advice and wait...    

A Walk in the Woods

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Song Speaks...

Soon-to-be tomato
I've been waking up way too early lately and I like it. It's a time and space for me only. I don't have to answer to anyone, or be anything I don't want to be. I just get to be. It's a long, deep inhale and exhale where I oxygenate my soul.
My favorite and latest emergence.

Also, I've noticed songs playing in my head. Sometimes they are quiet and barely audible, and sometimes, like yesterday morning, a song will overtake me, make me to stop what I'm doing, and ask me to find the meaning it holds, which at that time was "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. After I wrote the lyrics on a white board, I took a step back and read them aloud. It was surprising how spot on they were with what I needed in that moment; reassurance.  
This morning's song was Salt-N-Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex." Its rhythmic cadence transported me back in time to the backseat of my friend's mom's convertible. With the top down and wind blowing through my hair, I sang the risque lyrics at the top of my lungs, something I would have never been allowed to do in my parent's presence. This moment, unknown to me at the time, was a a pivotal one. I now see it as a step towards breaking protective cocoon of childhood and replacing it with the uncertainty of adolescence. And all that from a song.   

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gardening as Art...

Green, for now

There is such a delicacy to a garden when it's first planted. Cats, not only my three but the neighborhood felines as well, deposit their goods and uproot my tender seeds leaving them defenseless and lifeless.

The pea at right has made it past imminent danger and grips tightly to its metal post, and to my delight has upped its chances of survival, despite my youngest and most violent kitty lurking in the background.

At times any cat, mole, insect or crazed weather pattern overwhelms me to the point I consider fencing, netting, and/or insect repellent to keep my dear ones safe. But when I sit and look at my fear objectively I realize the problem has little to do with my garden and more to do with a desire to control the uncontrollable.

My garden also reflects an unconscious need for success, not that that's a bad thing, but when that need makes the experience stressful and the gardening  process takes on a less than enjoyable tone, I take notice.

Whether you're a parent raising a child, an artist painting a piece, or a creator envisioning a dream, any project at some point, to some degree takes on a life of its own between preparation, maintenance, and tending to. Its failure or success, despite what you may or may not do, is out of your hands. The balance between control and letting go is a fine one, but when you find it the art of living is at your fingertips.

Enjoy the view...