Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 by Lars von Trier: on Netflix

Nympho V. One by Lars Von Trier mostly bored me but for folks following his career, it's on Netflix. It seems a little surprising to me that it is showing on Netflix. It is so misogynistic and so debasing. Then again, I understand porn is a big deal on the web. I've never seen any porn and certainly never googled it. Nympho is not quite porn. It's art, right?!! Sure it is.

I particularly dislike the actress who plays the lead in Nympho and in several other von Trier films. I don't think she can act. Whatever she does, let's call it acting, she bores me. I don't care about her characters, what they feel. I do wince at some of the degradations (fictional) the characters endure but that is not the same thing as considering the acting of a woman being degrades decent acting.

What's her name?  Charlotte Gainsborough maybe? She always seems to speak with no affect whatsoever. Shes all monotone, no facial expressions.


But if you are interested in Von Trier's work and I was interested enough to see it in a movie theater as soon as I could, it's now on Netflix. Check it out.

Different tastes for different humans.

very short story related to Italy

A former acquaintance's ancestors are from Italy. I think some of his grandparents were born in Italy. Maybe his parents. I never got to know him well enough to learn if his parents were born in Italy.

When I first knew him, he often talked with great pride about his Italian past. He especially loved his grandmother, although as I write that I realize I don't know which grandmother, maternal or paternal. They are both gone.

One of his grandparents, and perhaps one of his parents, used to live in and own an old house in Lucca, Italy. He has visited the home, which his relatives sold when they emigrated, I guess. I know his family no longer owns it.

He told me a charming story about this house. The top step to get to the front door was so worn that it had a permanent dip. That's an old stone step! It was enough of a hollow spot on the stairs that his grandmother, or great grandmother, or some relative, would pour milk in the stair hollow spot for the cat.

I love that image, stairs old and worn down then using the wear practically to make milk available to a cat or two.

I want to own a house with a stair like that.

Such a house seems, at least to me, like it would be a lovely setting for love, maybe magic and princes and princesses going to balls in horse-drawn carriages in exquisitely beautiful clothes. Starry nights. Warm breezes. Water views. Of a Stega, a witch, casting love potions and spells. I could most def visualize Cinderella pouring milk in the top step, milk for the cat. I have no image in my mind of the house, which was likely not a castle if an ordinary family lived in it. I have an image of stairs, stone, flowers, and beautiful views. In the movies, Cindrella always leaves from the ground level. In my imagination, make her Italian and have her descend an old stone staircase under the stars.

I have no idea if Lucca has water views, never having been. My mom spent a couple summers in Lucca. Mom went to paint all summer. She did some beautiful paintings. One was a self portrait she called cappuchino. She is in a blue robe, her ubiquitous ciggie in her hand. You see the smoke drifting up from her hand, steam rising from the cappuchino. And her face looks just like her. My mom was beautiful, even as she aged. As a young woman, she was smoking hot beautiful. As is my sister, daughter and niece. How come I got the ordinary looks?!!

I guess I have a smoking hot beautiful heart. I do, you know.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

we are stardust

the bell of being© training

I am preparing to launch a new training business. This will be training in personal, inner development, intensive experiential training. The goal will be to develop our capacity to become more aware of our interconnectedness to all beings, nature and the cosmos and to develop our capacity to listen together: to listen within the bell of collective being.

Whispers, echoes, feelings, knowing . . . when aligned with collective energy, within the bell of collective being, one hears a whole new way of being.

Friday, August 29, 2014

anxiety can kill love. . . more from Anais Nin. . . .

"Anxiety is love's greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangel you with his panic.

Anais Nin, from one of her many, lifelong diaries, February 1947

my hair is being pulled by the stars. . . .Anais Nin

When I discovered Anais Nin in college, I special ordered all her books from Conkey's, the bookstore that supplied all books for our classes but also was a regular book store.

Gosh, in those days, paperbacks cost thirty five cents. And I guess it is true that college kids, at least in those days (early seventies) had spending money. I thought nothing of ordering books that were not for courses, just for recreational reading.

I inhaled all of Nin's work and all the work of many authors. I would discover an author and just buy everything available that was written by them.  Nowadays, I get restless reading a bunch of books by the same writer all at once. I like to change up writers, one book to the next. Young and obsessed with literature, I loved reading a writer's entire oeuvre.

Of course, in those days, I could do all my college homework and still inhale entire novels in a day.

A guy I dated often criticized my speed reading. He said I could not possibly have understood The Brothers Karamazov because I had read it too fast. We were in the same course and I read that one for a class.  Yet when I questioned him about that novel, he did not know nearly as much about it as me. If I read something, I usually remember it forever.

I have all that legal reading I did to become a lawyer seared in my brain, still accessible. It amazes me how much I remember.

Anais Nin. I should get some of her books out of the library and revisit her. She often wrote very sensually and sometimes actually wrote erotica. Some patron paid her by the word for pornographic erotica, she needed the money. Even when paid by the word, Nin wrote gorgeous works.

rebuilding life from within

Thursday, August 28, 2014

be kind to yourself

tweakers ally in the SF Chron building

Yesterday I went to a wine reception at the San Francisco Impact Hub. I have wanted to join a HUB for some time but felt I could not spend the money. Now that I am launching a new business, I need to be interacting with other social artists and small business entrepreneurs. I need to be in a collaborative environment.

There is a Hub in the office building next to the building I live in. I can see the Berkeley HUB from my apartment, across the courtyard. The Berkeley HUB will be my home HUB but membership in the Berkeley HUB buys me access to the SF HUB. So I wanted to check out the SF HUB.

Yesterday an organization that just took some office space in the SF HUB held a wine reception, open to anyone. I thought it was a good chance to check out SF HUB.

To enter the SF HUB without membership, one has to be screened by the Chronicle security guard and given a visitor badge.

When I arrived at the security desk, an understandably excited young man was describing an experience he had just had. In some place in the Chron building, or maybe just outside it -- I don't know the building well enough to know there 'tweakers' alley' might be, whether it is literally in the alley. The understandable tense young man kept repeating his story, the guard kept asking him the same questions.

And the guard kept me and another woman waiting a really long time. Clearly the guard could not resolve the young man's problem. Actually the young man had solved his own problem. Some high, likely-drug-addicted young man had asked to borrow his cell. The guy at the security desk, the crime victim, said "I am too naive, I guess, I just handed him my phone. I will never give a strange my phone to use, no matter excuse they give for asking to use my phone, I'll dial for them."

The 'high' phone thief just kept the phone, with the victim amiably walking along, initially believing the thief would use his phone and return it. When it became obvious the thief was not going to return his phone, the young Chronicle intern explained to the thief how important his phone was to him and how he really needed to get his phone back. The thief said "I'll give you the phone if you give me $100". The kid said "I am an unpaid intern, I don't have $100." The thief suggested they go to a bank machine and extract $100. The kid said "how about $20?  I think I have $20 in my bank account."

Once the intern had gone to the bank machine with his cell phone thief, the thief took the money but continued to resist giving up the phone. The unpaid intern kept begging for his phone, explaining his need to keep it, his inability to finance a replacement and swearing that tapping him for $20 was a bite for the unpaid intern to absorb.  The thief was obviously high but he must have been, somewhere within, aware he was behaving badly. He was coy with his victim, taking his twenty and initially refusing to yield the phone. Finally he gave the guy back his phone and even said "I won't keep your twenty" but he did.

I listened to the understandably adrenaline filled young man tell this story three or four times, with the security guard clearly incapable of doing anything constructive, like pick up the phone and call the police or take down the victim's contact info so if the Chron security staff wanted to talk to him about the incident, like maybe if they saw the incident on security tapes and could ID the thief.

Finally I said "i will take a few secons to check us in, could you check us in and then keep listening to this crime victim?"

This irritated the security guard so he pointedly took care of the other woman, who had arrived longer after me, before me.  While he tended to her, I advised the kid not to file a police report, which he had already said he didn't want to do. Oh, I think it optimal to pursue such street crime but I know that security cameras are deceptive. They do not provide much security.  Unless someone happens to see the video recorded and happens to be able to identify the thief, the odds of catching that petty thief are extremely remote, while the time consumed by the victim wasting time could be enormous.

After I shared my thoughts, the security guard let me in. I don't know what happened with that unpaid intern's report. That security guard seemed totally clueless as to what to do about it.

I have read many complaints of the aggressive rudeness of the Chronicle's security guards. Apparently the guards are rude to folks who come to the security desk and provide ID but they are not, evidently, trained to deal with actual security breaches like cell phone theft by an alleged tweaker.

Tweakers Ally in the SF Chronicle building or ally. Who would have thunk it?

Note, there is no security presence in the huge ally, where newspaper delivery trucks of old must have picked up paper newspaper for distribution around the bay. Sometimes it is now filled with food trucks. One truck that sometimes shows up there sells awesome fallafel. Expensively priced but it is downtown SF. And not even organic.  I pay seventy five cents apiece for organic fallafel in Berkeley. Non-organic fallafel can be boght for 40 cents apiece in Berkeley. And nonorganic fallafel in Tweakers Ally is ninety five cents.  Still, every time I pass that big covered 'ally', delivery area, for the SF Chron building, I check to see if the fallafel truck is there. Fallafel is gluten free and tahini is dairy free:  good I can eat, healthy, delicious. Add a green salad and I have a perfect antiinflammatory, nutritious and weight-loss condusive meal:  yum.

developing one's will capacity

It is important for humans to develop their inner will capacity. We've all heard admonitions to exercise willpower when faced with certain challenges, such as weight loss or an exercise goal. Will capacity applies to everything.

Meditation and committing to a regular practice is one way to develop one's will capacity.

Exercise is almost entire an exercise in strengthening one's will. It not only takes a willful choice to get out and run seven or eight miles daily, or swim a mile daily or workout on an elliptical for however much time one wishes, you exercise with your limbs.

It is in our limbs that we exercise all our will. Our legs take us into the future, be that future the other side of the pool or a lap around a running track. Our arms make and create, again our limbs exercising our will.

Any regular practice, done with committed discipline will develop our will capacity. And we all need to have strong wills to create the life we are destined to have, to be happy, to be loved, if to be loved is what we desire. All humans, I believe, wish to be loved. So get out there and grow your will force.

I meditate daily and have since 2002 when I sat my first ten-day Vipassana course.  I exercise daily and have most of my adult life, with a few gaps when I didn't exercise. After my daughter cut me out of her life, I didn't really do anything for a few years. Slowly, excrutiatingly, I healed. As soon as I began to recover, zip, I was back in the pool. I have swum laps most days since I was in college. A lifelong habit.

In recent weeks, I have been walking several miles a day, pushing myself to get up to ten miles a day. I'm almost there. Walking is much harder for me than swimming. Swimming is pain-free. Walking brings out all my arthritic creaks and joint pain.  I will, I suspect, eventually resume swimming daily as my primary exercise practice. Walking six to ten miles daily, however, has rapidly accelerated my weight loss. I have an iron will when it comes to losing weight, to getting down to my high school weight.

As I told a group of new lawyer friends a week or so ago, one of my weight loss goals is to buy a pair of jeans that would have fit me in high school.

It takes a strong will to push myself to walk as much as I have been. Every step hurts me. I am not exaggerating. Occasionally, I am in so much pain my eyes sting with tears and I consider catching a bus home. I push on.

In such moments, when I am experience much pain and I push on with my walking goal for the day, I usually tell myself "you are growing your will force, you don't know where this power will take you but you know you need to grow your will to get where you are supposed to go."

This might sound like nothing to some. Developing one's will capacity is serious business, a central focus in Anthroposophical meditative life.

I am grateful to have the depth of knowledge of Steiner's work that I have. Recently I hear myself sharing Steiner's ideas more and more. I am sometimes surprised by how much of his thinking I retain. I forget that one of my will capacities is an unusually detailed memory.

I don't think I could walk at all if I had continued to eat dairy.  I have tested what I can eat without inflaming my knees. And I slip and eat a little dairy here and there. I see immediate results in my knees. When I eat dairy, my knees scream when I walk. Then I get clean, avoid all dairy and in just a couple days, my knees don't hurt as I walk. My hips, they always hurt.

I used to have a friend who refused to come to my apartment, would only see me in coffeeshops. And when we met in those coffeeshops, he usually rejected my stated preference to score the easy chairs.  I must have told him a couple dozen times that sitting in hard wooden chairs hurts but he must have forgotten. In a weakning of my will force, I would accommodate his preference for wooden chairs and do my best to hide my pain. I should have exercised my will and taken care of myself, insisting on only visiting with this 'friend' when I could sit in soft chairs.

I have some shame around this pain, as if it is my fault my hips hurt most of the time. Maybe it is. I should not have gotten fat, although I am not fat now. I am not longer eligible for weight loss surgery for I have lost so much weight!

Rambling. Tired. Losing focus as I ramble, eh?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I've lost people, then found them again

I've lost people and found them again. The second time around, things just made more sense.   Honestly, timing has a lot to do with everything. Sometimes you just aren't ready for each other yet.

I am building my will and trust muscle (same thing). I need to practice radical trust.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

anger, deep compassion for another: David Whyte

at its heart, is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.
What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability; anger too often finds its voice strangely, through our incoherence and through our inability to speak, but anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics: a daughter, a house, a family, an enterprise, a land or a colleague. Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body in its love for all these outer things - we are often abused or have been abused by those who love us but have no vehicle to carry its understanding, who have no outer emblems of their inner care or even their own wanting to be wanted. Lacking any outer vehicle for the expression of this inner rawness they are simply overwhelmed by the elemental nature of love’s vulnerability. In their helplessness they turn their violence on the very people who are the outer representation of this inner lack of control.
But anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here, it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it. What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete and absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence.
©2014 David Whyte
Excerpted from ‘ANGER’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning in Everyday Words
Photo © David Whyte
Persian Ceramic
Detail : From Yusef and Zuleika
Asmolean Museum, Oxford. July 2014

the fault is in the blamer: Rumi

"the fault is in the blamer. Spirit sees nothing to criticize." - Rumi

feeling Irish, or Gaelic, today? I am .

I have felt a deep bond with the land, air and water. I have felt the Earth rocking in its orbit, whorling through space. I have felt the air as it moves through trees, shrubs, meadows and gardens. I have hear many creatures making their many subtle and unsubtle sounds. I have felt the Earth sing, tis true, but it sings in alignment with my being. I feel my bond to the all of everything in such moments.

isn't she beautiful? my daughter

overheard on bus: made me laugh

A young African American woman sat next to me on the Transbay bus from SF to Berkeley. Note:  I have increasingly taken the bus over the Bay Bridge instead of the subway under the bay.  Not having a car, if I always take BART, I get few views of the spectacular setting in which I live. On the bridge, I behold so much beauty.

This young woman talked on her cell the whole way. I did not listen to her. I was reading a book.  I just overheard one snippet. She said "I am now so Berkeley!" and she laughed. Then she said, "Gosh, I'm even gluten free."

I have been going to many parties, occasions to socialize with new acquaintances.  Eating at a restaurant one day last week, I reviewed the menu and noted that the only thing I could eat was the side of spinach and even then I had to ask them to not give me the dairy sauce."Not even on the side?" the waiter asked. Nope, not even on the side.

I turned to the people I was dining with and tried to be a little self-effacing or something. I said "I must sound like I am too fussy." But this guy sitting across from me, another lawyer, said "You are speaking my language.  My life has a million diet restrictions. No gluten for her, no dairy, no sugar and she can't do nuts so no almond milk." Then he and I said together "Coconut milk."

In the past week, no exaggeration, I have been a part of, or overheard, endless conversations about people making the most careful eating choices they can.

Why does anyone eat crap like Doritos, cheap pizza -- especially frozen, Triscuits?

Sometimes I see someone, often a young male adult who seems hungry, stuffing his face as fast as he can with some crappy food-like substance like Doritos and I want to say "You need real food. I can see you are hungry. The stuff you are eating will not really feed you. Eat some real food."  I don't say such things, not even to people I know a bit. It's not for me to tell another how to eat.

I do love finding myself at gatherings where the food is vegan or vegetarian. I love gluten-free parties.

Hearing that young black woman say "I am so Berkeley I am gluten free" gave me a happy lift.

most difficult task of all: Rilke

Monday, August 25, 2014

a cultural and spiritual transformation

"I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation."

- Gus Speth, US Advisor on Climate Change

My new business offers intensives that guide participants to develop their inner capacities so they can live in a new reality. Intensive by intensive, person by person, it is my goal to change human culture.

Love really is the only answer to any human challenge.

we're always home

Home is a place we all must find, child. It’s not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere."
-Glinda, The Wiz

Saturday, August 23, 2014

a superior opportunity to be a good person

As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good person. There will still be business enough.

When I actively practiced law, I had this quote on my business cards. I didn't want business from clients who wanted to be heedlessly litigious.

Friday, August 22, 2014

nothing lights a fire like dreams deferred: Ferguson on my mind

"Dream Variations" by Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967)
To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening . . .
A tall, slim tree . . .
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

Sweet Honey and the Rock sings this as a song.  I can't copy the link to their youtube videos. You can also find free mp3 downloads of them singing this.

my daughter's first pair of shoes

My daughter, Rosie, was born in June. That first summer, fall, winter and even the spring, she had no need for shoes because she did not walk. And when she did start walking, around her first birthday, I tried to let her run around barefoot as long as I could.

Like many new mothers, I read lots of magazines about parenting. I had read somewhere that letting children go barefoot was good for them. I don't remember why.  I remember I wanted to do what was good for my baby.

The time came, however, when she had to have shoes.  I am tearing up already as I suss out my joyful memories of buying that first pair of shoes.

We went to a mall. Everyone only shopped in malls in Omaha in those days, the old market part of town eventually was renovated with boutiques but when Rosie was one, malls were pretty much it.

I took her to a children's shoe store.

My mom had always insisted on buying quality shoes for her children, scoffing at folks who put cheap shoes on their kids. I had internalized this. I still try to only wear 'good' shoes with good support myself. I certainly would only put good shoes on my baby.

We picked out a pair of baby pink leather Capezios. They were just like the white high top little shoes most babies get for their first pair. Slightly heightened backs for ankle support, I guess. That pink leather was so soft in color and so soft in leather. They were beautiful shoes.

I was delighted that I did not have to buy the standard white ones. Thrilled.

And so was Rosie. She probably didn't know most first shoes were those white high top things. (I wonder what kinds of shoes are baby's first shoes in 2014?). She was still thrilled. She probably would have been thrilled by any pair. She probably was not ecstatic because they were pink, although my Rosie was born with an innate sense of fashion. She always cared about what she wore and often refused to wear perfectly good, even beautiful things that did not match her aesthetic. No kidding, at age 18 months, she could successful refuse to wear what I had chosen for the day. I knew early on that my Rosie had a great power to attract what she wanted.

The pink Capezios still delight me whenever I recall them, which I don't often. Writing about shoes earlier reminded me of them.

She stomped out into the mall, where we had often walked, her in a stroller until that day when she finally had shoes, during cold weather to get some exercise. Lots of people used to walk in malls for exercise in Minnesota and Nebraska, when it's too cold to walk much outdoors. Now I would walk outdoors in any weather. I never mall walked except when I had a baby, protecting her from the cold.

So she knew the mall as familiar ground.

She ran out of the store, stomping joyfully. Then she would stop, bend over to get as close as she could to her shoes to look at them proudly. Then stomp around some more, bend over again, admire the new pink delights. Then stomp on.

A secretary from my wasband's office was in the mall, running an errand during lunch time. She saw Rosie's joyful display of love for her new shoes. I forget the secretary's name but she was just about as pleased to see Rosie's simple joy over those pink Capezio high tops as I was.

When she outgrew the first pair, I bought another identical pair in a larger size. Then we had to move on in our shoe choices because we could no longer find the pink Capezios.

Nice karma. Rosie went on to be a great dancer. She was a member of two different professional dance companies while in high school. (writes this proud mama).  I mention this because Capezios make a lot of dance shoes.

I still love her. I still love the delight she took in those new pink shoes. And I love those pink Capezios.

I miss my daughter.

new shoes, dry feet

The hardest need I am challenge to provide for myself is shoes.  For awhile, I had a long run of scoring great deals on clearance racks. I only wear 'good' shoes, with arch support and sturdy soles. Such shoes don't come cheaply. Buying something that costs $100 or more can take me months to save up for.

Now that I am walking quite a lot every day, determined to get my Fit Flex buzzing at 10,000 steps and beyond, I suddenly realized all the shoes I own, which I have been wearing about as long as I have lived in California (8 years) were very worn down in the heel and bad for walking.

My whole body hurts more when I walk with worn out shoes.

So I asked a friend who loves me to buy me a new pair of shoes. I chose a pair on Zappos, choosing $100 shoes so as not to appear greedy. The first pair didn't fit. The second pair didn't fit. So I chose a third, more expensive pair. I was prepared to pay the additional $30 for a pair of waterproof walking shoes. If it ever rains again in Berkeley, for it barely rained at all last winter, I need waterproof shoes.

My one pair of closed, waterproof walking shoes had worn through the sole, no longer water proof. Water would seep in from the bottom hole in the right shoe.

I am glad I remembered to get some waterproof walking shoes. It doesn't get cold here like the harsher winters in Minnesota but it gets down into the thirties and forties. With the dampness of fog seeping into one's bones, forty degrees is cold. Add wet feet to the formula, and one is frozen.

I lived in Minnesota over 20 years, first for law school, then raising my daughter there after a brief, un-self-loving detour to Omaha. Ever heard this line:  "Yeah, I spent one night in Omaha one month." The point being that Omaha is so boring that one night feels like a long boring month.  I digress. As I do. A professional essay writer would edit the Omaha aside!!!

I learned, living in a climate where it really can remain thirty below for six weeks or longer, that the key to staying warm is wool socks, waterproof footwear/boots and hats. Dry feet is absolutely essential to staying warm anywhere.

When I called Zappos to return the second pair and pay the extra money for the third pair, the customer service guy told me that since I had had so much 'trouble', he would waive the $30.  I thanked him and did not tell him that I did not think I had undergone much trouble. Hey, a gift is a gift. I try to say yes to gifts, altho I did once decline an offer of money from a friend who knew I was flat broke with ten more days in the month to feed myself. She said "I thought you said you always say yes to offers of money."  I do always say yes to offers of money but this woman is also always strapped. I just couldn't take her offer of $40.  I love her for offering.  When I love someone, it is forever, my love locked down more powerfully than those Kryptonite locks on bikes. That's not a great analogy because those Kryptonite locks can easily be pried apart with a crowbar, as any pro bike thief seems to know.  My love gets locked in with the kind of endless power Superman has. It never ends.

Marc Tognotti, I will love you forever. You can always come back.  It will feel like magic to you to enjoy stepping past your disappointment in me, magic to feel the happiness we sometimes shared. I promise.

I know from online tracking that my new, waterproof, closed Chaco walking shoes are out for delivery in Berkeley. I sit here, waiting for the postal carrier. We usually get a chick postal carrier.

I want my new shoes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

cherish yourself, cherish all beings

"As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings."
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

figs, no one can eat just one. Can they?

As all fresh fig lovers should know, there are two fig seasons each year. There is an early summer fig season and a late summer one. I speak only of N. California.  I don't know the fig growing patterns elsewhere.

Every time I see fresh figs on sale, I buy a pint. As I do so, I resolve to eat just a couple at a time. Figs are loaded with carbs and they spike my glucose levels, even if I inject insulin. One problem is I inject enough insulin for three figs and then I eat the whole pint.

I love love love fresh figs.

Dried figs. Meh. I pass on dried figs.

Thank goddess the second wave of this year's fig season is almost over.

I just gobbled what might have been the best basket of figs I have had this year. I am so glad I did not buy two pints yesterday. Then again, I am going out tonight and I will be walking. I am always taking detours to walk more, to get more steps on my Fit Flex. I could easily detour, before my dinner meeting, and pick up more figs.

I feel my glucose spiking in anticipation.

No one can eat just one fresh fig. Can they?

I just thought of an excuse to buy more figs today:  I have never tried any in my raw green smoothies. I always add some fruit to improve the flavor. Fresh ginger, cinnamon and a fruit, plus greens and water. Yum. I know fresh figs will be awesome in a smoothie, although I am not sure the figs will last until tomorrow. I won't be making a smoothie when I come home from dinner tonight.

Figs. Figs. Figs. The incredible, edible fig.

curly hair, People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck

Recently, hot curlers popped into my thoughts. Do people still use hot curlers?

As a child, my mom was determined that I have curly hair. She put my hair in bobbie pins every night, before electric hot curlers and curling irons (do they still exist too?!!) were around. At least around our world in Irish Southside Chicago. Every single night, I had to stil on the floor in front of my mom and let her pins tight curls in my hair.  Every morning, she pulled out the pins, criticized me if any had loosened in the night and styled my curls.

The curls would not last until I had walked the few blocks to school. I moaned, groaned, begged and pleaded to escape mom's determination that I have curly hair but she never relented.

The habit became so ingrained in me that by high school, I put my hair in curlers, altho not yet electric ones, every single night. Again, the curls would have fallen apart by the time I go to the bus stop, not even lasting until I got to school.

Then hot curlers, the kind that came in boxes, each roller sitting on a hot tiny stick that heated the curlers, which, presumably, held more metal. Those curls would last awhile.

In M. Scott Peck's book, People of the Lie, in which he posits his theory that evil should be a psychiatric diagnosis instead of a judgment on a damaged, supposedly 'evil' person's values and morals.  I like the idea of seeing evil as an illness and not a state of being.

I bought and read People of the Lie because I had gotten a lot out of Peck's book, The Road Less Traveled.  I didn't really know what it was about. Once I started reading it, I read it straight through, staying up all night, in spite of the fact that I had a child to get to day care the next morning and a court appearance to get to by 9. I could not put the book down.

At the time, I was in the midst of an ugly custody battle from a physically and intensely emotionally abusive man. Our PhD marriage counselor said my wasband was the cruelest person he had ever met. He said "Most people have a certain threshold beneath which they will not sink. As far as I can tell, and I have been a psychologist 20+ years, this is the cruelest person I have ever met. He seems to have no threshold. He has done things to Tree that I have had a hard time believing but which definitely were true."

You better believe a book about evil kept me up all night. It was like reading my life.

It took some years before I associated some of Peck's anecdotes with my parents.

Note:  I have not read the book since 1983 but I remember it vividly. One of the saddest anecdotes was the story of a little girl born with blonde hair to an Italian mother. Her mother dyed the child's hair black throughout her childhood because the mother had wanted a dark-haired Italian daughter. That mother ignored who her child was and tried to impose a different persona on her.

Another example I will never be able to forget:  Peck once treated a teenager, not the parents, of a boy whose brother had committed suicide with a shotgun that the parents had given the brother for Christmas. The next Christmas, the parents gave the same shotgun that Peck's patient's brother had used to kill himself to the son.

Dying a blonde haired girl's hair black throughout her childhood is evil, in Peck's view. Giving your one surviving son the shotgun his brother used to kill himself as a Christmas gift is evil.

Something was wrong with my mom. All her children were very damaged by her.  For a long time, I thought I was the only one she was cruel to, for I was the only girl until I was fourteen and my sister was born. I thought my sister got favoritism as the baby in the family. And my sister did get treated a bit better than me. But I gradually learned my sister also felt mom had been emotionally abusive. All my siblings feel that way.

And my mom, I totally believe, did not wish to be so hurtful to her children. Like just about all parents, my mom wanted to do her best for us. She did do her best. Her best sucked.

Shaming me my whole childhood for having straight hair may not have been evil but it dismissed who I was.

Mom also took me to get permanents a couple times, in her relentless quest that I have curly hair as she had. Mom's hair was softly wavy, not tightly curly. And mom wanted my hair to look like hers.

My hair is straight as a stick. So is my daughter's.  My daughter doesn't look much like me. When we used to be seen together, more than a few people asked me if she was adopted because she does not look like me. She got my very straight hair but she is a brunette. She got her coloring from her dad:  big, dark brown eyes, a light olive complexion that tans well, as opposed to my Irish light tone that burns burns burns.

The curly permanents literally washed out of my hair. After the first fail, the beauty shop gave me a second permanent. When that one washed out of my hair, which was too fine to hold the chemicals, the shop refunded mom's money and refused to try again.

The beauty shop accepted that I was not destined to have curly hair. My mom never did.

I am wondering, just now, if mom's curly hair obsession is analogous to that woman who dyed her blonde daughter's hair black.

What did Peck say?  he said that people of the lie, people sick in darkness/evil, can be surprisingly unfeeling, unaware of the darkness of their behavior. He talked to the parents who gave their livng son the same shotgun his brothe had used to kill himself and those parents could not grasp what might be wrong with having given their surviving son that shotgun. The Italian mama who dyed her blonde daughter's hair black throughout her childhood could not grasp what was wrong with doing that.

I know, for certain, that my mom never wished to harm me. Well, except for the time when she pretty much lost her mind and brutally beat me 100 times with my father's leather belt.

I see that my writing skills are improving. Altho I had not edited what I have written here I see instantly what I should edit out, see how I lose the thread of my piece, take to many side paths and diminish the power of my story.

Was my mom evil?  Only in the sense Peck used the word evil. She was sick.

Growing up with such a damaged mother, I seem to have failed to develop, until now, radar to detect people who are heedlessly unkind to me for no discernible reason. And, until fairly recently, such people would be the ones I would become desparate to earn their love and approval. If someone was angrily abusive to me, their anger was like a gravitational pull, compelling me to dance like a circus pony hoping to win their approval. And such people are always delightfully charming. If I were a devil, I would be very charming.

Lucifer, after all, entices humans into sin with light. Lucifer is all charming delight until you are enthrall to him and then he hurts you. That Broadway play, 'Damm Yankees' captured the lightness of Lucifer's lure brilliantly. My sister once played Lola in a high school production of that play, so I have read it and watched the film, supporting her vicariously.  I remind anyone reading:  Lucifer makes a delightful, enticing, seemingly light-filled offer to the ballplayer who wants to win a World Series. Lucifer promises him he can win a World Series but then his soul will belong to Lucifer. And Lucifer enchants also with the 'light' of Lola's sexy luring.  Lola is part of the 'light' Lucifer uses to get that ballplayer to sell his soul.

Many people sell their souls to evil, although not in overtly negotiated contracts.  Oh no.  Humans slide into darkness one small step at a time, one angry outburst, one blast of verbal abuse. Step by step.

I have been in thrall to darkness a few times. I think I have finally figured out how to avoid darkness or evil. Kindness. Compassion.  Empathy.

And most importantly, at least for me:  I never, ever forget that how other people behave is never about me. Never.

I am kind and good. Trust me to be kind and good and I am. Filter me through a lens of negative expectations and I falter. I make mistakes. I lose touch with my goodness and slip and slide in the slime of darkness, of evil.

I do not use the world evil here the way most people think of evil. I use it to indicate some darkness in a person that crops up in how they behave towards others, towards me. If anyone ever treats me with disregard of my feelings, wants or needs, I consider that darkness. Or evil. And I flee.

Fortunately, once I earned this understanding, my whole world shifted. Light started streaming into my life. New friends. Love. Kindness.

I think I will always be vulnerable to Luciferic charm. I pray I have learned some lessons that have staying power.

I was glad those permanents washed out of my hair.  I never wanted to have curly hair.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

the Luciferic vortex: heaven & hell

The other day, I started to write about my experience in a Luciferic vortex. I got sidetracked, pulled off course.

I am reminded of a story someone I know wrote on their blog a while back. They wrote about having an intention, back when they were in college, of studying for a test. Then this person became aware that this person was washing the windows in the apartment and this person had not been conscious of when this person stopped studying and started washing windows. Dissociative behavior. Unconsciousness. All humans are unconscious sometimes. Being sometimes unconscious is tricky.  Like the Trickster in some Native American legends, the unconscious mind pulls humans places the human does not consciously choose to go. But is the unconscious mind motivated in positivity?  or negativity?

Well, if you need to study for a test and your trickster self lulls you into washing windows instead, maybe your unconscious mind was being Luciferic, lulling you into acting against your own best interests.

But sometimes, tricksters being tricky, the unconscious mind is protecting you. Perhaps my unconscious mind stopped me from writing about my Luciferic vortex to protect me from something.

I have to admit that it is very hard for me to approach my thoughts about this Luciferic vortex.  It's not just my trickster mind, my unconscious self, who feels a need to insulate myself from danger.  I am very conscious that the relationship I want to write about is dangerous. Dangerous for me.

When I first knew the Luciferic vortex -- howabout I refer to the person in question as Lou so I don't have to keep writing "the Luciferic vortex". For the purpose of this blog post, "Lou" stands for 'The Luciferic Vortex" and when I refer to "Lou" I am referring to a toxic relationship in my life that has damaged me. Having Lou in my life has been like Superman living with a crate of kryptonite stored in his sub-basement, only Superman doesn't know the kryptonite is down there. And maybe the kryptonite is in a sealed container, maybe lined in lead? Is there any material that might protect superman from kryptonite?  I don't know my Superman mythology so I don't know how, or if, Superman can protect himself from kryptonite.  I just remember how kryptonite weakened him and he had to get away from it. But was there some way to block the negative power of Kryptonite?

I have been a moron with my Lou, my nickname for Lucifer and for my Luciferic vortex person.  I say this because when I met Lou in 2006, my inner voice told me, bluntly, "This is a Luciferic vortex. End this friendship. Take care of yourself."  My inner voice could not have been more clear or specific.

What did I do?  I laughed. I thought it was being very hip, erudite. Hell, I thought the phrase 'luciferic vortex' was fucking genius. It is a cleverly phrase to describe an attractive nuisance, to capture how humans can be enticed into self-destructive behavior by deluding themselves that they are not being drawn into negative patterns of behavior.

Does this sound like gobbledegook?  I bet it does. Am I writing anything coherent?

I had borderline personality disorder, but I am now recovered.  Still,  I feel like I don't have a right to say this:  I think Lou also has borderline personality disorder. And I think Lou is fucking brilliant.  Lou offloads his smelly shit onto me, blames me for smelling of shit, and I not only allowdc Lou behavioral choices towards me to lead me into pain and suffering.  Goddess help me, I welcomed some of it because there is a part of me that believes I don't deserve to be treated well.

I have been thinking about my dad in the past few weeks. I recently had some post traumatic stress triggered.  I definitely have post traumatic stress disorder.  I have had some sucky things happen to me, like everyone, but I have had a couple things happen that really traumatized me. Big deep wounds that I cannot seem to heal. Cancer would be a good metaphor for my PTSD.  Imagine surgeons going in and trying to remove all the cancerous cells. I have had much therapy to heal from the traumas that left me with PTSD, digging out all the cancerous cells. But then, years later, the PTSD can come back, the way cancer sometimes does.  My PTSD goes into remission and then something happens, Lou comes along and shits all over me, and my PTSD gets triggered.

I am either getting better or getting worse.  Of course, I hope I am getting better but this is Lou we are talking about. When I am dealing with Lou, it's all trickster energy. Lou as in my own private Luciferic vortex.

What's that old joke about turtles all the way down?  Or old saying.

Some days I fear it is only hell all the way down for me. Some days I believe I am kind, loving and good and deserved to be shown kindness, love and goodness.

Today is a half and half day. Heaven and hell together.

Ferguson, MO haunting me today

I was pretty young in the sixties and did not do any activism then but I remember that many referred to cops as pigs. Militarizing them exacerbates their piggishness and violence. The military equipment seems to dehumanize them.

I was a kid in Chicago when the first Mayor Daley ordered his pigs to shoot demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention. I was in high school when pigs killed demonstrators at Kent State, all peaceful demonstrators.

I am not defending the horrible escalation of violence caused, imho, by the pigs in Ferguson. I hope Ferguson inspires this country to take away the military toys of the police but I don't think it will. I believe the power elite have very strategically militarized the police so when food and water become scarce, the elite have all they need and the militarized police will stop the masses from getting water and food.

Having said the above, however, I also want to say that, imo, society asks quite a lot from the police. And I have never heard of any police department that has programs to nurture cops, to work with them on a regular basis to be reminded of their humanity and their mission to serve and protect the people, not the oligarchy.

I also suspect police departments could do better jobs screening candidates for the job of being a cop.

If we are all interconnected, we are all interconnected with the human beings dressed in cammoflage, pointing weapons at peaceful demonstratiors, tear gassing citizens who are not commiting crimes, arresting journalists, denying the citizens' right to assemble and express their opinioins.

I am sickened by what is happening, and by the steady rise in cops killing blacks for trivial and nonexistent reasons. Here in the Bay Area, a BART subway cop killed a young black father who was already face down on the floor with his hands behind his back. Oscar Grant was uttering insults to the cops, angry that he had been arrested without cause. But some cop killed him. That cop spend a little time in jail, was convicted of something.

Something else that greatly disturbs me about Ferguson is the way the Ferguson power structure is building a narrative to protect a cop who cold bloodedly murdered a young man for walking in the street.

The Justice Department asked the Ferguson police to not distribute the photo of the petty shoplifting Brown allegedly had done. Wilson, the killer cop, did not know about the shoplifting. The Ferguson police disregarded the justice department.

It seems clear to me that no Missouri power authority, including its Democratic Governor or the oreo State Police officer appointed to manage police action in Ferguson (that guy talked a good game for, what, a day? and then authorized more tear gas?) should be allowed to manage what is happening in Ferguson.

Why doesn't the federal government step in and take charge? Maybe even bring in National Guard troops from other states.

It is unfortunate that some people, no longer able to believe they can trust the system to provide justice (I don't trust the system to provide justice). I wish the agitators that are showing up and throwing things at the cops and have looted stores would chillax, even stay out of Ferguson and let the people of Ferguson, hopefully with some great lawyers and other powerful leaders helping them, work out what is going on.

The cops on the ground clearly cannot maintain peace. Clearly the cops are drunk in their perception of their power.

self compassion beats rumination


This link takes you to a good article the Greater Good Center at UC Berkeley. They do a lot of great work on how to be happy, empathic and loving.

I'm good enough, smart enough & people like me

When someone flat-out rejects me, erasing me completely from their life, I have interpreted their behavior as being a condemnation of me.  It is not about me when someone rejects me. It is about them. And it's okay for someone to reject me. We are not all destined to be friends with all.

It hurts to be rejected by someone I love, like my daughter. It hurts like hell. Yet even her rejection is about her, not about me.

I was a good, devoted mother. I made too many sacrifices for her, gave her too much. In the process, I think I showed her that I had less value as a person than she did. Paying for my mistake has been painful.

the love of true friendship

"Once you give your love, it must be forever. Not because you want to be near that person, but because you want perfection for that soul. To wish for perfection for the loved one, and to feel pure joy in thinking of that soul, is divine love; and that is the love of true friendship." - Paramahansa Yogananda

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

may all beings be happy, including me

I am grateful to feel happy.  I had something that I was holding that left me feeling bad every time I thought of it.  I thought of this 'something' a lot, usually as one of my first thoughts upon awakening. Then, throughout each day for the past year, if the situation came into my thoughts, which it did steadily, I would feel bad.

I didn't blame anyone for my pain.  I just couldn't let go of the pain, as if I was keeping something by holding onto it. And I guess I was. I was keeping pain that I could simply release, let go.

I never read that book, by Eliabeth Kubler-Ross,   about the stages of grief. I just heard about it, it was a bestseller I think. The stages, as summarized by Wikipedia are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
Kubler-Ross initially applied her model for grief for persons diagnosed with terminal illness but expanded it to other losses, such as the loss of a friend. Here is how Wikipedia applies Kubler-Ross's model in an overview of the stages of grief over the loss of a relationship:

Grieving a break-up of a friendship

The person left behind is unable to admit that the friendship is really over. They may continue to call the former friend even though that person wants to be left alone. Instead they may deny their feelings and not admit that they are upset about it at all.  NOTE:   I never denied I was upset and I did continue to phone this former friend intermittently.
The partner left behind may feel angry for the pain the leaving partner causes them. The partner left also might blame himself/herself.  NOTE: I felt anger towards the former friend and anger towards myself. I blamed myself, took all responsibility for the failure of our friendship to thrive. I was really unkind to myself.
After, the anger stage, the one left behind may plead with their former partner by promising that whatever caused the breakup will never happen again. Example: “I can change. Please give me a chance."  NOTE:  I have never believed the friendship could be restored but this former friend once agreed to have a state of grace conversation with me. It's been a year since he broke off our friendship. He ignores my many requests for one state of grace conversation.  I thought if I were cheerful, upbeat and persistent, he would keep his word and have one peacemaking conversation. Accepting that he would not do something he agreed to do was as hard as accepting the loss of his friendship. Maybe even harder.
Next, the person might feel discouraged that his or her bargaining plea did not convince the former partner to stay. This may send the person into depression causing disruption to life functions such as sleeping, eating and even daily bowel movements.  NOTE: only the loss of my daughter has prodded deeper depression in me. I had truly believed this friend loved me. He had said so many times, once writing that he felt unshakeable love for me.  It was so hard to accept that he would not have a state of grace conversation. I think it was harder to accept this refusal than to accept his decision to sever the friendship. I was unhappy in the friendship, too.
Moving on from the situation and the person is the last stage. The person left behind accepts that the friendship is over and begins to move forward with his or her life. She or he may not be completely over the situation but is weary of going back and forth, so much so that they can accept the separation as reality.
Praise goddess, I have accepted it's over and, and this has been very hard, I have accepted that he will not have a state of grace conversation. His refusal to do so is actually a kind of gift. His refusal shows me he does not love or care about me. Why keep investing my emotional energy in longing for someone who won't even give me a state of grace conversation?

Now, when he comes to mind, he quickly leaves my thoughts.

As I accept the loss of his friendship is irreversible, I feel lighter, happier and joyful.  The pain I felt over the loss is remains. I believe I will always feel a little hole, an emptiness, where I will always believe our friendship could have found a home in both our beings. Every aspect of my highly empathic and intuitive being still is sure this man is an important karmic relationship. Accepting this loss is irrevocable is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do. And I haven't fully accepted it. A teeny, tiny flame of hope that he will shift his rigid rejection of me flares up. But it flares up less and less. Progress?

I cut all ties to my ex-husband. He was so abusive to me that our marriage counselor, a PhD psychologist, testified that my ex was the cruelest person that doctor had seen in 20+ years of marriage counseling.  I cut all ties to my wasband because I knew there was no shared grace between us.

This friend that dumped me is a graceful, loving, delightful man.  It has been very hard to accept that he does not consider me valuable enough to work through the challenges that came up.  But I don't know his reality. I don't know what he is deainng with. We are all dealing with hard challenges.

I have finall found a state of grace regarding this former friend. A one-sided state of grace.

I found peace. I am happy, joyful and sad as I finally, after a year of struggling to accept this loss, to have accepted it. Goddess, it hurt like hell to lose him. It still does.  He's gone, like a sunny day goes away when the sun sets. Gone for good. The sun still shines on me, praise goddess. For awhile there, I didn't think it could without the light of his loving friendship.

Praise Goddess. May all beings, including this former friend who has rejected me, be happy. Including me.

you have to love yourself

me and Yosemite

Last fall, I was headed to Yosemite with a friend. Then the federal government shut down and closed national parks. By the time the park reopened, it was too cold for camping, at least for me.

This year, I made plans to go near my birthday, again with a friend.  We were going next week. And maybe we still will. The park is being evacuated because of all the fires.

I guess I am not supposed to see Yosemite, at least not this month.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

first to forget is happiest

I wonder:  does severing ties with someone and forgetting all about them count as forgetting them? In the scenario I am reflecting on, the person severed all ties to me in an email and has maintained that position for a year. Does such behavior count as 'forgetting' in the context of being happy? Or is it denial, a fear of actually talking about one's relationships in emotionally mature ways?

a ruby embedded in granite

You are a ruby embedded in granite.
How long will you pretend it’s not true?
We can see it in your eyes.
Come to the root of the root of your Self.

This reminds me of lines from e.e. cummings:  the root of the root, the bud of the bud
Everything rooted in love.

Friday, August 15, 2014

a heart broken open: Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Persons called to this work typically feel relentless sensations of broken-heartedness about the state of the world, but also carry an unshakable and inspired hope for humankind. There may be anger as well. The seemingly contradictory but powerful forces of the broken heart commingled with hope are the enduring underpinnings for effecting ongoing and positive change.

Interviewer: You are saying that the social activist has a broken heart?

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Yes, a heart that is broken open -- and stays broken open -- a soul alert to its calling.

Telling the Bees, part two

Telling the Bees

Telling the Bees

Deborah Digges, 1950 - 2009
It fell to me to tell the bees, 
though I had wanted another duty—
to be the scribbler at his death, 
there chart the third day’s quickening. 
But fate said no, it falls to you 
to tell the bees, the middle daughter. 
So it was written at your birth. 
I wanted to keep the fire, working 
the constant arranging and shifting 
of the coals blown flaring, 
my cheeks flushed red, 
my bed laid down before the fire, 
myself anonymous among the strangers
there who’d come and go. 
But destiny said no. It falls 
to you to tell the bees, it said. 
I wanted to be the one to wash his linens, 
boiling the death-soiled sheets, 
using the waters for my tea. 
I might have been the one to seal 
his solitude with mud and thatch and string, 
the webs he parted every morning, 
the hounds’ hair combed from brushes, 
the dust swept into piles with sparrows’ feathers. 
Who makes the laws that live 
inside the brick and mortar of a name, 
selects the seeds, garden or wild, 
brings forth the foliage grown up around it 
through drought or blight or blossom,
the honey darkening in the bitter years,
the combs like funeral lace or wedding veils 
steeped in oak gall and rainwater, 
sequined of rent wings. 
And so arrayed I set out, this once
obedient, toward the hives’ domed skeps 
on evening’s hill, five tombs alight. 
I thought I heard the thrash and moaning 
of confinement, beyond the century, 
a calling across dreams, 
as if asked to make haste just out of sleep. 
I knelt and waited. 
The voice that found me gave the news. 
Up flew the bees toward his orchards.

James Broughton riffing on Victor Hugo

Ho Chi Min (sp?) Park in Berkeley

I am volunteering for a local political campaign. Mostly I canvass registered Democrats that more seasoned volunteers select. The process of deciding who I try to talk to is called turf cutting. I have no idea what the turf cutting criteria is. It seems to me like they choose houses with the most steps to the front door. Gosh, why do Victorian houses in the Bay Area have second-story front doors and stairs stairs stairs?

I owned a three-story Victorian in Minneapolis. The front door was at the front porch, about four steps off the ground. What's with this high 'first' floors?  It's a stairmaster workout.

The canvassing works well with my Fit Flex obsession. On canvassing days, I get tons of steps in.

There is a cute, small man who is the main coordinator for the pocket of volunteers I work with. Everytime someone, at a meeting for volunteers, mentions Willard Park, he corrects them and says it is actually Ho Chi Min park. He insists the actual, legal name of what every one calls Willard Park is Ho Chi Min Park.

I love it that this guy corrects everyone. I also love the moment when most in the room mumble their agreement. "Oh yeah, it is Ho Chi Min Park" many mutter.

I say it again: let go

It's very hard to grow, because it's difficult to let go of models of ourselves in which we've invested so heavily. --Ram Dass

We have to let go of who we are in order to become who we are supposed to be. -- Tree Fitzpatrick

tumeric: self love daily

If you don't like the taste, you can buy it in capsules. I have grown accustomed to the taste and add it to savory, low-carb breakfast muffins with no gluten.

I've eaten some tumeric daily for a few years.  I have been able to stop using high blood pressure meds. Now my blood pressure is always in a healthy range.  My bad cholesterol is now low and my good cholesterol is high and even my triglycerides are in the target range. As a Type One diabetic, my insulin needs are lower when I eat tumeric. I take it reasoning it can't hurt and it might help. Tumeric helps the body metabolize food and it is the #1 medicine in Ayurvedic medicine for Type Two diabetes. 

Eating tumeric sometimes reminds me of something my mom often said when her children did not like a new food she introduced us to. She would say "It is an acquired taste." Then she'd go on to say if you eat it awhile, you will like it. Tumeric fits mom's criteria for acquired taste. I have acquired a taste for enjoying tumeric.

Here is a link to an informative article on the 14 drugs tumeric can replace.

science confirms: turmeric as effective as 14 drugs

love is a risk, do it anyway

Thursday, August 14, 2014

essay on suicide: choose to stay

have courage to choose to stay alive, to stay

fostering codependency, part two

Once, a now-former-friend and I had tried to become closer. The guy became upset and withdrew, refusing to speak to me. I had no idea why he had withdrawn. When I made efforts to communicate with him to talk about what had happened to cause him to shrink back, he actually said, and I wish I were making this up, that he'd like to talk to me but if he did so, he would be fostering codependency.

Communication is not codependency.

Helping a confused, hurting friend understand why you abruptly withdrew from her -- this was in 2008, not recently -- is not codependent. It is friendship. Kindness. A show of caring. Helping another person is not codependent or enabling behavior, especially someone who is not dysfunctional, not drug or alcohol dependent and not mentally ill.

Codependency means a person is COdependent on the sick person's illness. A codependent buys into the idea that saving the sick person justifies enabling behaviors. 

The guy who told me that just talking to me, helping me understand why he abruptly disengaged, does not understand codependency.  This same guy has fallen all over himself for years to shield a female friend who has a major mental illness with occasional psychotic episodes. He has acted codependently with her, trying to spare her from the consequences of her challenge.  Giving her a fancy job title when she lives off disability and her rich parents so she can present herself on social media and when she attends events as someone with a job is classic codependent behavior. Classic enabling.

dang. . . .

I've only done 8,134 steps today. I have to go out and walk until I get the 10K buzz on my Fit Flex.

Well, I went back out and walked uphill on campus until I heard the buzz. By the time I got home, I had almost 12K steps.

Whew.  I see the power in setting goals. I can't stand it when I don't get in my 10K.

fostering codependency

There is a shrink, trollling for clients with Youtube videos, who says codependency is when a person tries to control another. Man, that sure is different from the definition of codependency I learned in Al-Anon and Codependents Anonymous. I also received treatment from a psychologist who specialized in recovering from codependency.  In those groups, codependency means people enable someone else's addiction or dysfunction. An example:  an alcoholic's family might cover up for her. The codependents are the folks covering up for her drinking.  Another example:  giving someone who does not work a phony job title on your website and allowing her to tell the world she is your director of development when she is mentally ill and unable to work. That is classic codependent behavior, with the person giving the dysfunctional person the fake job title being the codependent. The mentally ill person doesn't control the others behavior in codependency. The codependent chooses to enable for various reasons, mostly to avoid facing him or herself, to avoid seeing what they are willing to do to keep someone's "love". Calling in sick for the hungover alcoholic is codependent behavior.

If the only way you can keep someone in your life is by enabling them, covering up their dysfunction -- and giving them a phony job on your website is classic codependent behavior -- the person with the limitation (addiction, alcohol dependency, whatever) is not the codependent.  The person who is drug or alcohol dependent or mentally ill is drug or alcohol dependent or mentally ill. The person enabling them is the codependent.

The codependent is the person who enables the dysfunctional behavior, codependent on the dysfunction. 

Why do partners of alcoholics cover up, or enable, them? Because they are afraid of change. If someone is in a codependent relationship and one person gets healthy, that throws the whole relationship out of balance.

Codependency is not about controlling others. It is about enabling dysfunctional behavior in dysfunctional people in our lives to maintain the status quo of our lives, usually because the codependent fears change. A wife dependent on a husband for some income might fear that if she stops caretaking, or enabling, him codependently, she will upset the apple cart. Fear of the unknown is why codependents enable dysfunctional people in their lives.

I was codependent with my long ago wasband.  I enabled his behavior. I lied about the bruises he gave me.  I did legal work that I let him pass off as his own.  And I debased myself in what I finally understood was an utterly futile attempt to get him to stop criticizing me. I tried to change who I was because he didn't like who I was. Gosh, when I wrote that last sentence, I felt countless sharp knives slashing into me. I felt great pain to remember how I debased myself.

I went to two separate weekly support groups for codependents, all women, for about three years. All of the women I met in those groups had been both physically and emotionally abused. Every single one of the women I met in those groups, one of which I attended at the secretly located battered women's shelter, had been physically abused as well as emotionally abused. And every single one of them said they'd rather get hit any day than endure verbal abuse unrelentingly.

I have mentioned the fact that every battered woman I ever met, and I met many in those three years and in the following years when I represented many in divorce, would prefer to get hit than verbal abuse, women say, always with pugnacious gestures and much bravado, "No way I'd prefer to get smacked."  It hurts me when women say that to me. I have just told them something vulnerable, something I am still ashamed of, that I accepted verbal abuse, that I allowed myself be treated like I did not matter for years and years. And I had just told them the verbal abuse hurt more than the physical. I even tell them about women I knew who got broken bones, required stitches, almost died from physical abuse and they all say the nonstop verbal abuse was worse.  Any woman who says she'd never let a man smack her around likely never would. And she likely never would tolerate verbal abuse. Walk a mile in the abused person's shoes before you judge them.

reading to children

I read a lot to my daughter, as my parents had read a lot to me and my siblings.

Mom would sit in the big green easy chair in our living room and my brothers and I would surround the chair, seated on the floor while she read.  My most memory story read by my mother was Johnny Tremaine. Virtually all the books my mother read were targeted for boys' interests. My brother would not have sat around and listened to any books they considered girl books.

My mom justified reading only boy stories by having us vote. She would say we live in a democracy and we will vote.  I had two, three then four brothers. Guess how many times I won votes in mom's democracy?  She also employed voting to choose what we would watch for our one hour a day of allowed television viewing.

Everyone in my family had been read to growing up. And everyone in my family read to my daughter when they got to see her, for we always lived one or two states away from them.  A favorite memory, for me, is seeing my dad read books to Rosie after his left arm was left completely limp after a doctor messed up some test.  He had his good arm around tiny toddler Rosie and had her turn the pages. She was his first grandchildren. He doted on her. My dad doted on all kids, especially kin.

I always traveled with books for Rosie, of course.

Once, Rosie, my brother Dave, his then-partner Tom and I went out for deep dish pizza in Chicago. There is a long wait when ordering deep dish pizza. At least there was thirty years ago.  As Rosie grew restless in the restaurant, I pulled out a book to read to her.

Tom grew sad and said "We never read to Matt."  Matt was his son during his brief marriage to a woman. "I feel so bad. It never occurred to us to read to him."

I tut-tutted and did not say what I was thinking.  I assured Tom that, although I had never met his son, I was sure he turned out fine. What I was thinking was along the lines of "Tom is not very smart, I wonder if his parents were, and his son sounds like a loser."  His son had just flunked out of community college.

Who doesn't read to their kids?  I guess some folks don't. Reading to Rosie at the end of the day, which I did daily until she began reading on her own, was a highlight of every day. We'd snuggled together and read. Happiness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

the time my grandma bought her first pair of tennis shoes

I was staying with my maternal grandparents for several weeks, the only grandchild for that period of time. An aunt and uncle, with cousin, had driven me from Chicago to South Dakota. I got to stay alone with my grandparents a few weeks and then my mother would come to visit, bringing my brothers.

It was the only time, other than my last visit to her when she was dying and I was a young adult, that I got to visit my grandma all alone. Grandpa was there but my maternal grandpa completely ignored children.  This was a big deal treat, to spend a few weeks with my grandma.

This special visit happened, maybe, around 1960. My grandmother had always worn black tie shoes with a small heel that lifted her a tiny bit. Grandma shoes. Sensible. Good arch support. Ugly, at least to my eyes.  My mom was always trying to make me select sensible shoes that I would reject, turning up my nose and saying "Uck, those are grandma shoes." She would say "Your grandmother wears them. They will last a long time and you are hard on your shoes."  "Grandmas wear them. You don't. I won't."  We had that little exchange pretty much every time my mother bought me new shoes, forced to do so because, dang it, my feet had grown again.

I have always been an intense letter writer. Before I learned how to write, I used to write pretend letters, scribbling on lines up and down the page, pretending I was writing. And in my mind, I was telling stories, writing real letters. I knew no one could read my scribbles. I couldn't wait until I could write.

Once I learned how to write, I wrote to every distant relative I had, which were not many. Everyone from my dad's side of the family lived in Chicagoland. Although I did maintain a correspondence with my Chicago grandpa, who lived just across town, throughout my childhood. He always answered, very briefly. His answers were the excuse I needed to write again. I might have written, Dear Grandpa, Today me and Tammy (my best friend that he knew all about) and I played dress up.

When I was staying at grandma's, I wrote letters to my parents in Chicago. I wrote and told them grandpa had bought a pair of tennis shoes at the dime store.  I can still see those tennis shoes. They were navy blue, with white laces and a white band around the bottom. Very basic. Not well shaped atheletic shoes like today.  Grandma said she bought them because they were cheap and she would cut holes in each one for her corns. And she did. And she wore them the rest of that summer. Tennis shoes were newish, at least new for the middle class. They had not always been in the dime store. And there was no such thing as an athletic shoe store in those days. Mitchell had a JCPenneys but grandma mostly shopped at the five and dime. Cheaper she said. And, yes, my grandma was cheap.

I have always been a truthteller.

Yet my mom wrote back, "Good heavens, you have a wild imagination. Your grandmother would never buy tennis shoes."

I was hurt that my mom disbelieved me.  I wrote back to her and said "She did, honest." And I described them.

When mom arrived to claim me, and visit her parents, the first thing she said getting out of the car was "I want to see if your grandmother really bought tennis shoes."

Of course she had. She was wearing them, the holes on the side cut out for her corns.

Grandma did not wear them out in the world. Only at home. And maybe a run to the grocery store.

My grandma Joy did not have a cool bone in her body. She wore old lady dresses, old lady shoes and old lady hats. She was really into her hats. She had quite a collection, spanning most of the 20th Century. When she did, her daughters, including my mom, donated them to the local college's theater department for costumes. I was disappointed that they did that. I would have loved to have had her hats.

Monday, August 11, 2014

is it time to eat humble pie

One of my ongoing lectures to my daughter involved choice. Sometimes I would see her making choices that did not really serve her. I would try to gently remind her that we are always free to make our own choices and then we have to live with the consequences of the choices we make, even ones made impulsively, perhaps in anger.

The positive part of the lesson:  we are also always free to make new choices, to let go of a choice we regret, such as abandoning a friend in hurt or anger, and choose again. Eat a little humble pie, express regret and love that friend again.

there was a trolley from St. Paul to Lake Harriet, Minneapolis

A special date for my maternal grandparents, as they courted, was to take the trolley from St. Paul, where they both lived, to Lake Harriet, the end of the trolley line in those days.  Grandma would pack a picnic. They would go to hear a concert and picnic by the bandshell.

My grandfather proposed to my grandmother on one such trip.

I love this short story.

my maternal grandmother grew up in Montevideo MN

My maternal great grandparents were immigrants, proud farmers. My great grandfather, a taciturn man, must have inspired my grandmother to marry my grandfather, also a taciturn man. That great grandfather was Scottish, the only chink in our 'pure' Irish genes. And they were Methodists, also from his Scottish heritage.

My maternal grandmother converted to Catholicism when she married my grandfather.

In the winter, as a child and teen, my grandmother and her siblings old enough for school, lived in a rented apartment in town so they could continue their education.

My great grandfather may have been a stern man but he placed intense emphasis on education.  In an era when few women went to college, he sent my grandmother, Joy,  to university and several of her sisters. My grandmother's baby sister, Effie Carlotta, to undergrad and grad school.  My great aunt Effie got a masters in psychology in the early years of the 20th Century. Unusual for fathers to support women like that.

So taciturn great grandpa wasn't all bad.

My sister and I once drove to Montevideo, after my grandmother had died, and saw the building where she and her siblings would live, mostly without adults, during the harsh winter months when they would not have been able to get to school.  I love it that my great grandparents rented an apartment in town to ensure the continuity of their many children's education. I think there were 9 kids altogether.

roses v. snapdragons

I have a bouquet of flowers, mostly snapdragons, next to my bed. I wanted my variegated snapdragons to be one of the first things I see upon awakening.  I am surprised by how the snapdragons have expanded in the two days since I bought them. As if by magic, the whole bouquet seems fuller, bigger, richer.

I left in the daisy and zinnia flowers. The pink and yellow sedum. The snapdragons overpower them.

I am wondering why roses became such a popular flower, why roses are the focus of Valentine's Day. For my money, and my enjoyment, many flowers give richer pleasure than roses.

On the other hand, I've had some wonderful roses experience. When my niece was born, I sent my sister a dozen pink roses. She had her baby with no partner and, I reasoned, no one else was going to send her flowers. That's something men do.

I called a florist near the hospital she had the baby in. The florist discouraged me from sending flowers to the hospital.  She didn't have pink roses and had to wait for some. She said my sister was likely to be discharged before pink roses could arive. She pressured me to pick another color. They had to be pink for a girl. I told the florist my sister had had a c-section and would be in the hospital several more days.

It worked out. The special-order pink roses arrived, still closed. They opened up spectacularly. My sister actually took several close up shots of the amazing pink roses.  I have never had roses open up as those roses did.  They seemed like an omen, that my niece was going to be a very special person. And she is.

Back to my snaps. It is as if the snapdragons have continued to grow. They have opened up a lot since I bought them. The bouquet appears almost twice as large as they did yesterday.

I like flowers.  I miss having a garden.  My life is rich in many ways. Plenty of people don't have a patch of land to grow flowers and vegetables.  My life is rich. I should stop longing for what I do not have and love what I have.

I love my snapdragons.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

make room for what feels good

people avoid facing their own souls: Carl Jung

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. They will practice Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls. Thus the soul has gradually been turned into a Nazareth from which nothing good can come." ~Carl Jung

Saturday, August 09, 2014

rise through error to truth: Rudolf Steiner

We are not granted
A rest on any step;
The active person
Must live and strive
From life to life;
As plants renew themselves
From spring to spring,
So humans must rise
Through error to truth,
From fetters into freedom,
Through sickness and through death
To beauty, health, and life.

Rudolf Steiner

be first in love & generosity

"Keep feeling the need to be first. But I want you to be first in Love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

emergence does not happen all at once

"Emergence never happens all at once. It is a slow stepping into the expanded capacity of your next self. You may need practice at releasing in those places you've grown accustomed to bracing which, like a tight swaddle, was comforting in its limits. But when the time to remain hidden comes to its natural end, you must begin to inhabit your new dimensionality. Breathe into the fullness of your gaining altitude and consider that what presents itself as fear may actually be exhilaration. As your future approaches you, worry less how it may receive you and say a prayer instead for your becoming approachable."

Excerpted from the upcoming book “On Belonging” © Toko-pa Turner 2014

I wrote a post earlier today about defying gravity, being changed at a deep, even cellular level. This quote sorta addresses the same idea. I like Toko-pa's work.

CUKES! ! ! Snapdragons! ! !

This week I'm having lots of cucumber, apple and fresh ginger smoothies.  Yum yum yum. The more I experiment, the tastier my raw green smoothies get.

I learned the apple trick at a smoothie restaurant.

Snapdragons have always been my favorite annual. Anytime I have had gardening space, I have grown snapdragons. Lately, walking many miles a day in Berkeley, I have been suppressing temptations to steal some snapdragons. So when I saw big bunches of them on sale for only four dollars, I indulged.

I've been buying myself flowers once a week at the market.

Today's snaps have my favorite:  pink ones that shift to yellow, variegated. Also dark maroon ones that have a velvety appearance.  Medium dark pink ones. And some that are white at the bottom and purplish at the ends.  I kept the flowers from last week that still looked good: pink and yellow sedum, oregano with tiny white buds and white flowers many could call daisies but i don't think daisy is the right word.  And one pink zinnia.

I have always also planted zinnias when I have had growing space, sacrificing vegie space for some flowers I could cut and use in my home as bouquets.

Gosh I miss having a garden.

what fills me with hope . . . .