With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Because love is so powerful . . .

I'm still struggling in this new day-to-day reality of Trump appointments and reports of hate crimes. Politica has temporarily abandoned me, her fiery rhetoric and passionate determination disappeared along with the Halloween candy. The boil of excitement generated bymy plane ticket to the women's march in DC has faded to a low simmer, and donating small sums of money and signing online petitions feels inadequate.

But when I read the following quote in the current (November 2016) issue of The Sun, link it cheered me immensely. From the final page, aptly titled Sunbeams:

"You survived by seizing every tiny drop of love you could find anywhere and milking it, relishing it for all it was worth. . .  And as you grew up, you sought love anywhere you could find it, whether it was a teacher or a coach or a friend or a friend's parents . . . They are what sustained you. For all these years, you've lived under the illusion that, somehow, you made it because you were tough enough to overpower the abuse, the hatred, the hard knocks of life. But really you made it because love is so powerful that tiny little doses of it are enough to overcome the pain of the worst things life can dish out."
- Rachel Reiland

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the tiny little doses of love that I give and get on a daily basis. And for the hope that they are enough.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cracking Eggs

"I brought an egg and offered this: a chick knows when it's time to peck through the shell because a toxic gas is released chemically inside the shell. This is so noxious it causes restless activity and a crackling release! This biologic can be applied to our lives and collective events. Have we cracked through, enlarged in the life we find ourselves inhabiting now?" - Dominie Cappadonna, Ph.D., CT, www.dominiecappadonna.com

Swastikas spray-painted on driveways, Confederate flags flying again, people living in fear of deportation - noxious fumes. Regardless of political party or political vote, we should all be able to agree that acts of hate and prejudice have no place in our society. The social progress of the past eight years has apparently generated upwellings of these toxic emotions, which were suppressed during the years we were all behaving more circumspectly.

But if those gases existed all along, if the acts were just more disguised or unobtrusive, then we have not created a monster so much as released one. And you have to see the monster to kill it, just as the chick has to break the egg's shell to escape. So now that the intolerance made visible, the discomfort and dislike have emerged, let's surround it with acceptance, with a passion for justice. Let's break out of our walled cells and run around in freedom, seeking the joy of release for everyone under the sun.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Bell Tolls

"No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind, and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."
- John Donne, Meditation XVII

"Any man's death diminishes me." Just as any act of violence, of intolerance, of hatred by one of our fellows diminishes us.

Two days ago, an immigrant family in a Denver suburb woke to spray-painted swastikas on their driveway. Can you imagine their terror and uncertainty? What comes after the vandalism?

We either support such actions by remaining silent, by turning aside to the details of our own lives, not affected (yet) by the change of our elected officials, or we protest. If we do not protest, we are complicit in acts of hatred and violence.
It's difficult to resist the seduction of complicity, the desire to return to normal. But we must.
So we march. We send notes of support, petitions against racist appointments, against the loss of our liveable earth. We donate to organizations with good lawyers, we hold painful discussions..

We are not griping, we are not whining. Don't ask for whom we march - we march for you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Moving Forward

Setting aside my passionate alter ego, Politica, for a moment  . . . .

The first openly gay, female bishop in the United Methodist Church, Karen Oliveto, spoke at our 9:00 service yesterday. An inspiring gift of a speaker after a bitter and devastating election. (check out Bishop Oliveto's faith journey here.) 

The bishop reminded us that humans have a blind spot when it comes to seeing the pain of others. Either we're so distracted by our own travails and worries that we forget to look closely, or we're afraid that carrying the weight of another person's sorrows will sink us.

Bishop Oliveto received calls from people of color, women, children, and members of the LGBTQ community after the election. They were suffering. She reminded us to reach out to them, and to all of our neighbors, really seeing their pain and offering our help.

The bishop also reminded us to see the pain of people who voted for Donald Trump, people living in economic uncertainty, people who have been left behind by the digital society, rising costs of college, shuttering of manufacturing and mines.

So I am trying to see that pain, imagine what it feels like to live in the Rust Belt amid broken-down buildings, rows of unused factories with gaping windows. Or near a mining town which has shut down its main source of income.  Trump promised to bring manufacturing jobs  back, promised to revive fossil fuels, in part to galvanize this portion of the electorate that has been left behind.

In my passion for moving forward, for solar panels and Tesla waiting lists, I had forgotten about the people left behind.  I believe that Trump's promises are false, that it won't be possible to turn back time, but I want to see the pain of people who cannot find work or feed their families.

We need a coalition that saves the planet and the people who worked on fossil fuels, an environmental group that provides energy solutions and the choice of a way forward for people who have been uprooted. An economy that employs robots on assembly lines and in long-range trucks but also trains factory workers and truck drivers on new skills, or lets them go to college or information tech schools. We need to think bigger and include everyone.

Time for coffee and the paper now - Politica will return soon.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Galvanized

verb  gal·va·nize \ˈgal-və-ˌnīz\

: to cause (people) to become so excited or concerned about an issue, idea, etc., that they want to do something about it: to cause (a force that is capable of causing change) to become activeMerriam Webster
I'm tired of crying at unexpected times, picking at my food, and feeling generally like a black cloud has descended on the world. Also, sleeping would be good.
I felt happy for a few minutes yesterday while donating money to protect the earth, civil rights, and at-risk populations. Also happy - petitioning the electoral college to vote for the nation's popular vote winner - Hillary Clinton (Electoral College.) [ If Trump won the popular vote and lost the electoral college, would he go down without a fight? I think not.] Huffington Post had a sweet item about safety pins, so I put one on my shirt to show my intention to be a "safe" person, open water amidst the sharks. (Safety Pins)
Then I read about Trump's first items of business: abandoning the Paris Climate treaty, establishing anti-LGBTQ measures, cutting funding to sanctuary cities. And I thought f*!$ this sh@#.
I've been a good girl all my life - with a few notable exceptions. I blog about autumn leaves, family vacations, poetry seminars. No more. I'm done. 
To those columnists pleading for civility, compassion and kindness: I will be open-minded with Trump supporters, empathetic, willing to listen, and kind. Mr. Trump will have to earn my civility and my respect.  If he acts on those horrid promises I will be bad-ass. I am galvanized. 
If he screws with my children's planet, deports my friend, takes away my rights? I'm not gonna be polite. If he grabs a woman by the crotch and laughs? I'm headed to Washington. I dare him to call me a "nasty woman."  I'll put it on my urn. It will be my highest accolade. 
I'm done crying.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post-Election Slump

Post-election day in America. Wake to red-rimmed eyes and nausea, flurries of confused and despairing text messages from friends and family. Trump slump.

Fumble for the right words to reassure the children, explain America’s choice of a bully, a tyrant, a braggart, a bigot.  Canada’s immigration website crashes, stock futures are lower. Read Paul Krugman in the New York Times , watch Van Jones on CNN, rationalize pending depression.

Fake my way through breakfast and school prep, visit the drugstore, the pot dispensary, the coffee shop. Youngsters at the dispensary bop to reggae, encourage optimism, intone cheerfully that we have until next year, anyway.

Barista at the coffee shop sees my face and sighs, “Yeah, I know.  At least I’m a straight white male…. But I’m gonna be there for my friends who aren’t.  We’re gonna stand up and fight together.”
And I stop. We’re in like Flynn, even with the megalomaniac, so we have no time for depression, no luxury of lassitude. There are immigrants, Muslims, people of color, women and children who have reason to fear. They need us. The earth’s climate in flux, balanced on the knife edge, it needs us. The country, democratic values at stake, it needs us.

Take a day for despair if you need one. Find the chemicals to dull the shock. Turn off the internet for twenty-four hours . .  . and then come back. We need you.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sleep Injuries and DST-lag

It's odd how previously accepted and safe activities become dangerous with age. Take sleeping, for example. I can go to sleep after reading a few pages, blissfully tired and lacking any particular aches or pains. Seven hours later, the alarm goes off and - surprise! - I can't get out of bed due to crippling back or neck pain.  A friend and I were laughing about these 'sleep injuries' at a swim meet, where the young people sat on concrete with horrible posture, swam miles of races, and reappeared the next day without limp or crick.

I also find sitting to be precarious, especially in a car or on a couch. Watch out for those dangerous obstacles, my friends. The couch, in particular, appears innocuous but deals a mighty punch for those who lounge too long in its cushions. Our road trip dealt me a smack down by way of upper back tension, a combination of high-boredom driving and poor posture.

The chiropractor is calling my name today, or at least it will be as soon as I get over the jet lag from Daylight Savings Time. Though I welcomed the extra hour of sleep, it will take me several days to adjust. I'm like our cat, Rex, who haunted his food bowl ninety minutes early at all three meals, confused about the new schedule. Don't change the time, and don't make me sit on soft seats. No road trips for a week or two, so perhaps I'll escape injury, at least until preparing lunches today when the butter knife takes a chunk out of my thumb.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

And the Aftermath

My to-do list exploded as soon as we pulled into the driveway on Saturday night. Rob cleared out the car and car carrier while I unpacked, assembled laundry baskets, emptied the cooler and re-stocked the pantry. The fridge was barren, the cat food ran out (fortunate kitties were re-supplied by our neighbors), and the trees conspired to drop every last leaf while we were gone.

We survived the re-entry process to work and school, only to  be rudely interrupted by Halloween festivities. Today I dealt with the aftermath of trick-or-treating, which required a massive donation of leftover candy to the orthodontist and teaching swimming lessons to high-as-kites or down-in-the-dumps kiddos. My prayers and sympathies are with educators all around the country dealing with kids on sugar. And did you know that sugar is only one carbon molecule removed from heroin?  Easy to see after last night's candy binge.

As I drove home from work I reflected on the fading fall, the turning from Halloween to Thanksgiving and beyond. Leaves are mostly on the ground or in the landfill now, and the colors have bleached from all remaining foliage. Though temperatures are warm, the stark naked limbs of our deciduous trees point to the change in season. Autumn is the aftermath of a bountiful summer, a time of honoring growth and respecting loss. I was fortunate enough to experience a nascent fall in New England, a glorious full flowering in Colorado, and the start of a descent to winter in spiritual Yosemite Valley. I'm now ready for a short death myself - by way of a nap - and possibly the need for a vacation from my vacations.