Tuesday, September 30, 2014

unattached to outcome

I am unattached to what happens to me when I die.

I just had a lovely lucid dream. The earth had continued to be destroyed by humans. Gravity slowly wore off and humans and all animals and physical things began to float away from the Earth, drifting into the stars, the cosmos.

I then thought of a conversation I had with a man on Sunday. He said he liked the Jewish religion's position on the afterlife. I don't know if his characterization of what religious Jews think of the after life but he said for Jews, this life is it and that's it. So make the most of this life.

Most people I know believe in reincarnation.

After my exchange with the man I alluded to, I guess I have been thinking about life after death.  I believe everything is energy. I believe the energy that comprises me will remain in the universe, although I have no idea how the energy that is currently me might morph.

I might land in another galaxy as an exalted elite being. I might land on another planet that supports the kind of life we know on earth and be a bee or a butterfly.

And I might reincarnate as another person, after a period of energy processing. Rudolf Steiner indicated that the time between death and rebirth is approximately a third of the amount of time you lived this life.  Was he right?  Who knows?

An afterlife in a dreamy Heaven, an inconceivably different planet in a different galaxy.

It doesn't matter to me.

On this, I am unattached to outcome. Just as well since I have no power over life after death, eh?  Or do I?  Many religions would say how I live in this life will affect my afterlife, whatever that afterlife might be.

No one knows. Mystery abounds.

if you leave someone

If you leave someone
at least tell them why
truthfully and thoroughly
because what's more painful 
than being abandoned:
knowing you are not worth
an explanation


I am not my mother, Pure Joy

I have meditated for over ten years now. I had undergone much training and therapy. You probably remember the work I did with Lynn. That was intense inner capacity development work.  I am nothing like my mother, who was a horrific parent, but I did not abandon her. And, as you know, I saw my great aunt Effie weekly for years out of respect for her sister, my maternal grandmother. I also visited Effie so much to teach you to honor your elders, to love your family no matter what.  Looks like that failed, eh?

I don't think I can be happy without you in my life. I have read scores about happiness, how it should not be dependent on another's love.  I know how to find joy in life and appreciate the mystery and magic.  I have many happy moments.

At my core, I am heartbroken over the loss of you. This grief never diminishes. I forget about it, sometimes, thankfully, for several days. It always returns to my consciousness.

I can't see stable happiness for me when my daughter, to whom I gave everything I had to give, won't have anything to do with me.

For several years after you dumped me, about all I did was keen in grief. I combed my memories and then told myself I have blocked out the memories that lead you to disown me. For awhile there, I was a madwoman, believing I had beaten you a lot and then blocked it out of my consciousness. I never beat you. I did slap you, twice I think. That's it.  I was not emotionally abusive. We rarely quarreled. If I failed, it was in indulging you without taking care of myself.

Did you always hate me but faked love to survive?  If you always hated me, I could understand faking love because a child is dependent on adult care.  But what the fuck did I do that made me unbearable to you?

Rudolf Steiner on Love

"Love is for the world what the sun is for external life. No soul could thrive if love departed from the world. Love is the “moral” sun of the world. Would it not be absurd if a person who delights in the flowers growing in a meadow were to wish that the sun would vanish from the world? Translated into terms of the moral life, this means: Our deep concern must be that an impulse for sound, healthy development shall find its way into the affairs of humanity. To disseminate love over the earth in the greatest measure possible, to promote love on the earth — that and that alone is wisdom."
- Rudolf Steiner

parenting tip #3

When little playmates were around and the girls made noise that got on my nerves, we'd have a quiet contest. This worked especially well when in a car with two or three giggling girls.

I would announce "Let's have a quiet contest, see how long we can be silent. The one who is silent the longest wins!". I never suggested they won anything other than the honor. When one girl would start talking, as, of course, they always did, the girls would giggle awhile and then I would say "Okay, let's try that again. Let's see if we can be quiet even longer."

Don't misunderstand this parenting tool. It does not buy you long stretches of silence with several kids in your car. It buys you a few moments, perhaps a minute.

Sometimes, hanging out with squirming, giggling, adorably delightful children gets very noisy and sometimes the adult needs a moment of silence.

I ever did this when I had two or three teenage girls in my car. It always bought me a moment of peace.

Curiously, no child ever challenged the quiet contest as not being a real thing. Not even my daughter.

I loved quiet contests, mostly because the children cooperated so nicely, although not long.

At the end of our quiet contests, we're all laugh and, I believe, got louder than ever. But respite had been achieved.

another parenting trick #2

Sometimes my dear little girl needed a nap but did not think she did. She would balk at the idea of napping. So I would make this deal. I told her that if she lay down and kept her eyes closed for ten minutes, then she could get up and skip her nap. She always agreed to this. And she always fell asleep before ten minutes had passed.

a katie joy story: a parenting secret revealed

I just remembered something Katie did for several years. She would change her outfits several times a day, often wearing each one for fifteen minutes, perhaps an hour, then changing to another one. And then, she insisted that I launder them all, even though they were not soiled.

I cheated. I washed clothes that had been worn several hours. She would put all her several changes for a single day in the laundry hamper and I would tell her I laundered them but really I put the clean clothes back in her drawers and closet.

I am not exaggerating when I say she could, in that changing outfit phase, go through eight outfits in a single day.

At the time, we lived in a third floor walk up, with the laundry room down four flights of stairs. Hauling clean clothes down to the laundry room, spending money to launder and dry clean clothes and then lug them back up four flights of stairs just didn't work for me. A waste of money, detergent, laundry and my energy.

A few times, I made a big show of taking the laundry basket full of her clean clothes that she had only worn for half an hour per outfit, 'downstairs'. Then while she napped, I was able to pretend I had done the laundry.

We lived in a fancy, old apartment with a front door and a back door.  I would put that laundry basket full of her clean things at the top of the stairs. I never once saw the neighbor, or neighbors, across the hall use that firestairwell, only the front. I would stand out there long enough to convince Katie I had gone to the basement.

thanks to all who have been part of my journey

Monday, September 29, 2014

Paul Coelho wisdom

"Order is Joy. Order is Beauty." Rudhyar

"Order is Joy. Order is Beauty. From order to order I progress ... "

-- Rudhyar

whoever you are, no matter how lonely . . .

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Mary Oliver

when I 'got' that all is energy

In college, I was pals with a female physics major. I mention her gender because the whole four years she was a physics major, she was subjected to a lot of sexist shit, with even the professors, all male in her department, telling her no girl ever majored in physics. She did, graduating with honors even.

We lived in a shared house owned by our university and used as dorm space but it was better than a dorm. It was a real house, real kitchen, but we paid the same rate as a dorm.

One evening, while sharing a joint, she suddenly became very excited. I asked what was she excited about. She said "I just got quantum physics, I just got that there are no solids, that everything is moving energy. This table," she said as she placed her hand on it, "is not solid, it is a quivering mass of energy. I finally got it. This changes everything for me."

Being a high impath, but never having taken a physics course, I literally felt what she felt about her exciting onset of awareness of a theory she had been grappling with for a class.  I, too, got that everything is energy.

I was 19 or 20. So i've known the whole universe is nothing but energy for over 40 years.

I know that every thought I have is energy, energy that seeds the field between myself and other humans. I try to surface my thoughts so those I relate to can be conscious of the energy moving in me and I want others to do the same, sharing their actual thoughts with me.  I don't really endorse editing, although politely sharing thoughts is optimal.

Anyway, I am keenly aware in this moment that my body, mind and whole being is a wuivering, undulating energy, that everything around me is quivering, undulating energy and that how I inhabit this energy field affects the field and those around me and the world.

being heard is being loved

Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person,

they are almost indistinguishable.

--David Augsburger

flat tap broke

I am going to closely read my next bank statement. I ran out of money for this month a few days ago. I did not renew my pool membership, which is $140 3X a year so I had less regular expenses. I didn't buy anything but food. Heck, I did not even add any money to my transit pass this month.

I used to say that it is very hard being in America with absolutely no money.  I must be adjusted to being poor because I no longer consider it hard. When I would run out of money in Seattle, without a bus pass, I would be stranded and that was hard.  And I bought food in different patterns than I do now. Now, when broke, I might run out of fresh greens but I always have legumes, a few jars of homemade soup in the fridge (thanks Marc for that idea) so I'm okay.  Money in the transit pass, food in the house.

Still, it's hard having zero money for a few days. I think it is old mental habits. As of today, I have had no money for three days yet I've been just fine. However I keep mentally taking note of the fact that on Wednesday morning, I will have money.

I don't like being poor.

when we heal, it affects everyone

When we heal, it affects everyone.
When we avoid our healing, it affects everyone.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

man backing up wife

While canvassing for a politician yesterday, a husband came to the door. He was warm and very enthusiastic about my candidate, assuring me he was voting for him. Such a door knock is one of the easy ones. It's hard when the person answering the door has never heard of my candidate.  So easy when the person says "I know about him and I am definitely voting for him."

There were two names on my list for this address so I asked him if he could speak for his wife or life partner, and read her name aloud. I started out, months ago, referring to the other person in the house as 'your wife' or 'your husband' but this is Berkeley and California. Lots of folks my age never married.

These two folks were married. Just as I asked if he could speak for his wife, she appeared in the foyer of their home. She was struggling to close a duffle bag.  I don't think I pressed hard but I did ask her if she thought she was voting for my candidate.

Then her husband, still speaking gently and warmly to me said "My wife doesn't feel like talking to you now. I'm voting for your candidate and now I have to help my wife and he slowly closed the door. As the door closed, the wife called out an apology to me, saying "I'm sorry but we have to get to an important soccer game and we're late."

Nice people. I put her down as another vote for my candidate. And I politely left. I remain polite even when folks are rude to me, which they aren't very often. Instead of rudeness, I simply get rejected. It's good practice, actually, getting rejected, hearing people say 'I don't want to talk to you'. It is not personal. It has nothing to do with me. I know that other people's behavior is never about me yet I fall into the trap of thinking when someone rejects me, it is about me. I deride and blame myself instead of sloughing off the diss -- in my personal life, and less and less so all the time.

What stood out for me about this brief, polite, even pleasant exchange was the way that man protected his wife. He was not protecting her from much. It appeared to me that he was accustomed to having her back and he 'protected' her out of longstanding habit rooted in care and love.

I have never had a man protect me, even for such a trivial thing, much less big, painful things.

As I walked down those front stairs, I tried to imagine what it would be like to go through life with a real life partner, someone who had my back and I his. Someone to say "My wife doesn't want to talk now" with protective love.

I want someone to care about me that way. I want to have that experience in this lifetime.  As I write about this wish, I feel great pain. I see that deep down, I don't believe anyone will ever love me as that man loved his wife.

Longing. Sad.

few can open gate to profound love

There always seems to be someone running away from a beautiful love connection but its seldom the brave one. The brave one is usually the one left behind. It seems counter-intuitive to romantics and those who feel ready to partner when someone walks away. But some people can only handle a half love because a whole love shines a light on their dark places. Real intimacy requires real presence, and if someone isn't ready to be truly here on an individual level, they will find it very difficult to manage all the triggers that come up in connection. Only a small few can hold the gate open when profound love enters. A blessed and courageous few.
 Jeff Brown, said on his FB page to be a public figure (that I never heard of) but I like some of his quotes.

my idea to improve politics

Create a database of all citizens age 18 and over and pull names arbitarily from the database, like out of a hat. Care would have to be taken to avoid manipulating the formula determining who is invited to serve a term or two in office.

I seriously think we'd be better off as a community, state, nation and humanity if ordinary people were invited, through an arbitrary selection process, to serve. Folks could decline, it wouldn't be like the draft or jury duty where you have to serve.

And tight term limits for all offices and maybe even for influential public servant jobs in government.  I know there is much value in career professionals serving many government functions so I have to think about this one.

But I would implement my arbitrarily invited to serve project with the U.S. Congress first. Can't do all states, municipalities, etc. all at once. Congress is the most paralyzed. Let's start there.

folks are angry about politics

When I am out canvassing, many people seem relieved to have someone to vent their angry about politics. Many are sick of the Bates machine in Berkeley. A typical remark, by white humans, might be "I am sick and tired of a small group of white people obeying Bates and voting for the rich and ignoring the rest of us."  Another typical remark:  "I am sick and tired of corporations coming in and spending a fortune to influence our elections."  Thank Citizens United and our partisan, conservative Supreme Court?  No exclusively. 

Politics has gotten dysfunctional, functioning only when rich corporations or the Koch brother types want something. Food stamps for hungry kids?  Nah, can't function. Medical care for the poor?  Nah, but we have money to bomb Iraq and Syria.

Sunday dinner, then and now

Growing up, our Sunday dinner was always a bit fancier than the rest of the week. It usually involved mom roasting a chicken.

Today I am marinating some boneless chicken thighs, pasture raised and pasture fed, in a tikka masala marinade (or my version thereof). After canvassing, I'll come home and bake my chicken.

A huge raw salad, chicken and fruit for dessert.

Expecting a date.

I am a pretty good cook but I don't cook much for myself. Never have. I like to cook for people.

Gosh, I had to take the chicken out of the freezer yesterday and then I put the chicken in a marinade before I head out in a few minutes to canvas all afternoon. I am impressed with myself.

And I made more than we'll need for dinner so I have leftovers.

I don't eat much chicken anymore. I can live without it.  But for some reason, I am craving a hearty meal.

Say, I could bake a squash, too.

Yum.  And I have something to look forward to while out canvassing, which gets hot, hard, tiring, except when it is uplifting and happy-making.

my mother's pearls

My mom had a gorgeous strand of pearls that, somewhat strangely, my dad gave to her years after they had divorced. Technically, one of my brothers 'gave' mom the pearls but dad had bought them for her and given them to one of his sons to give to her.

One of the last times I saw my mom, she said I could have them. The strand had broken. I had the pearls restrung and that restringing quickly came undone.  I love these pearls but I don't want to spend $100 or more to have them restrung again. And pearls are more formal than I am, I think.

Should I send them to my daughter?

Last Christmas, I sent her a pair of 24K gold earrings that match a necklace given to me by a friend long ago. The friend had made the necklace and earrings for her girlfriend but her girlfriend did not wear jewelry.  I guess I gave Rosie the necklace. Or maybe she took it. When she would visit me during her first two years of college, she would take things of mine without asking. I'd go to look for something, looking and looking.

Whatever.  I had seen her wearing this necklace in a few Facebook photos and recalled I had the matching earrings. I sent them to her last Xmas. She signed for the insured package. She did not thank me.

I need to stop trying to squeeze the memory of a relationship, accept she and I have no relationship. Letting go of things related to her feels helpful, allowing me to let go a bit here and there.

I don't think I will ever stop aching over the loss of my daughter. I am sure the loss has shaved many years off my life.

My sister did not want our mother's pearls. She had issues with mom, as did all our mother's children. She sucked as a mom, but she was damaged and unable to do better.

So if my sister doesn't want them and I don't want them, giving them to Rosie seems about right. She can always give them away.

Thinking. Undecided.

my daughter's childhood photos

I have a few boxes of papers and some old photos that I have carried around for years. I have lived in CA eight years now and never opened these boxes, letting them take up space in closets, space I need for my present life, not my past one.

I have been going through these boxes, one paper at a time. It is an onerous task. I might find something, like a birth certificate, that I can't toss out so I had to look at everything.

I was surprised when I came upon a large stash of photos of my daughter, from infancy through high school.  At first, I thought I would make a digital copy for myself so I would still have images of her. But that costs money, money I can ill afford to spend. More importantly, to me, was the photos represent my loss. I looked at photos of my baby, toddler, middle schooler and I would feel overwhelmed with both my love for her and memories of how she was presenting herself in the world at the time the photos were taken. I always thought she was absolutely wonderful so I get flooded with feelings and thoughts about how exquisite she was at age one,  nine, fifteen, whatever.  It hurts to feel these feelings, reminding me of what I have lost and I don't think I'll ever get back.

I just packed them up and mailed them to her, with no digital record for myself.  I am trying to get rid of stuff to prepare for my move. I came upon a fat stash of Rosie photos that had been in a box in a closet since I moved to CA eight years ago. Obviously I don't look at them. I didn't want to spend anything to digitize them. I'm struggling over money a lot just now.
Old photos now strike me as weird. It's past. 

I never carried photos of her as many parents do because I carried her in my heart. I still carry her in my heart. I always will. But those photos, even though they flooded me with happy feelings and memories, also flooded me with a cutting sense of having lost my only child. I feel alone, unloved, bereft when I see those photos.  I had to release them.
She might have fun seeing her baby, grade school and high school photos (haven't really seen her since, eh?), showing them to her boyfriend. Or she might just chuck 'em.
anyway, I let them go but could not just toss them out. She can toss 'em but that feels like her decision, not mine.
I am surprised I had so many photos of her. And I still have an, as yet, uncovered photo album that I will also send her when I come upon that box.

​ I had the requisite nude baby taking bath photos, blowing out birthday candles, fancy dances in high school photos. Another life, one I am no longer a part of.  Every time I let go of something of hers, I feel sadness and gladness. It feels a bit like tossing things off a boat that has too much weight.​

the New Story conference at Findhorn

I wish I were at the New Story conference at Findhorn.  Several people I know are there but that's not why I wish I were there. I wish I were there to experience the bell of being that forms when a large group of amazing people hang out together for a few days, living the new story.

No way I could have swung a trip to Scotland but, gosh, I wish I were there.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

everything affected by evolving collective consciousness, esp. economics

Our current economic paradigm, free market capitalism, is built on the ravaging of our commons, Mother Earth, for profit without taking great, careful, nurturing care of our home.  We allow private corporation owners to extract from our collective commons without tithing a fair share into the commons. A healthy economic realm exists solely to support human life. Economics is supposed to serve humans in their pursuit of happiness and self-realization.

Biodynamics, the approach to agriculture developed by Rudolf Steiner and collaborators whose names I do not recall, aligns the timing of the choices related to growing food to the stars, the time of year. A key component of biodynamic farming is a biodynamic farmer carefully nurtures the soil as carefully as she nurtures the food she grows.

We have to begin to do something similar with the planet. And it is capitalism that is killing nature so we have to develop a new, collective consciousness around the economic realm of human culture.

We need to develop different inner capacities, capacities some people already have but not enough, so we can listen to the whole, make choices that affect our interconnectedness on our home Mother Earth from within the bell of being, from within a collective consciousness.

we need to change economic consciousness

Otto Sharmer: 8-innovations-economic-system-capitalism

This is a great article. I am a longtime fan of Sharmer's thinking. In this article, he points out that economics only address social and economic evolution, that economics does not factor in the inescapable truth that collective human consciousness evolves too. And we need to also consider that human consciousness deeply impacts the economic realm of our social order.

Read it. It's worth the short time.

down, blue, depressed . . . .

I've been sailing along. A happy camper. A few days ago, like dark, heavy fog, depression rolled in.  I have no conscious insight into why this bout of depression rolled in.

I have had the experience only a couple times, where I see depression coming at me, like one can see storm clouds many miles away when on the Great Plains. Once driving through Oklahoma, going from Minneapolis to spend the summer in Austin, TX, I saw tornado twisters on the far horizon, seeing them draped mostly just above the flat ground, seeing them touch down. In a similar way, just a couple times. Sometimes a cluster of tornado clouds can look like dark, wet laundry blowing on a clothesline.

I love seeing storm clouds dipping up and down from the earth at a great distance. It reminds me of the majestic quality of the Great Plains.  Born in South Dakota, which does have the Black Hills in its western side, I think I incarnated on the flat plain of eastern South Dakota because it fit something in my soul.

Friday, September 26, 2014

your true nature

the right people will find you

forgiveness is . . . .

Forgiveness is . .. (taken from comments on Fetzer Institute page on forgiveness. . .)
  • an act of self love
  • active love
  • the heart of love
  • love pushes forgiveness up the hill, then they roll down laughing in each other's arms
  • forgiveness is active love
  • It takes love to forgive...and once embraced love grows and grows
  • Forgiveness is the TEST of love

Thursday, September 25, 2014

love is not an emotion: Rumi

Love is not an emotion
It is your very existence.

Shareholder value killing business and the planet (and its inhabitants)


Rudolf Steiner envisioned a social renewal that would be comprised of a threefold social order:  social, artistic and economic. He indicated that the economic realm exists solely to support the social and artistic realms and for no other reason. The economic realm does not exist to allow a lucky elite to accumulate wealth generatead by the labor of others, which is what shareholders get.

Steiner indicated, in the early 20th century (so ahead of his time!) that shareholders would become a cancer on human culture. He said that when an initiative needs start up capital, that an investor should receive a modest return (interest) on her loan of capital but to give that investor shares in which the investor, or future owners of the stock, profit generated by the wealth of employees of the initiative amounted to a cancer on human culture.

Steiner sure looks right. Capitalism and its priority to please shareholders is killing the planet and its inhabitants, a slow, painful downfall.

In law school, everyone takes Corporations which was a two semester course at my school and, I imagine, most law schools.  Much of our legal system serves the corporate world and our legal system has becoming increasingly corporatized, prioritizing corporations over people.

My Corp law prof was a great professor. A showman and a brilliant legal analytical mind. And he was a corporate activist. He sometimes would buy one share in a company so he could go to shareholder meetings and protest corporate policies.  He began each new class by asking, in classic law school rhetorical stance, "What is the purpose of a corporation?"

Then he let the huge auditorium filled with law students bluster for awhile. I never have hung out a more argumentative crrowd than law students. How boring law school was for me and yet I was steadily amazed to see the guys down in front -- for the most aggressive guys always sat as close to the teacher as possible, so they could talk (show off?) more -- how they loved to argue just to argue, not to learn.Or so it seemed to me.

When all the biggest debaters in our corporations class had run out of gas, Scott, the perofessor, would say "The goal of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders." That unleashed another round of debate. Didn't corporations serve society?  Nope. Scott guided us to our case law books.  It is deeply woven into our legal system that corporations do not have a duty to the social or artistic realms:   corporations, in the legal mindset of our legal system, only has a duty to make money for shareholders. Corps don't even have a duty to provide good livings for its workers, who generate the wealth cancerous stakeholders end up owning.

I listened to arguments ad nauseum during my law school years justifying corporations having no duty to society, to nature, to its employees. The only duty a corporation had, we were told again and again  -- in tax classes, contracts, torts, even that peculiar Sub-S corp class I took -- that the only duty a corporation has is to make money for its shareholders.  I like to believe this attitude has softened.  I have participated in many discussions, conferences and, yes, debates about the various takeholders in a society and heard, repeatedly, the argument that as a participant in society, a corporation has duties to that society and not merely to shareholders. And corps have invested in greenwashing themselves, posiong as socially responsible.

I read the other day that capitalism is killing the earth. Fracking, extracting all the natural resources needed to make those bendable iphones and my laptops, etc.

I took a class in my OD MS program in the environmental department called "Building Sustinable Businesses". I heard lots of rhetoric about corporations have duties to community, employees, the education system that educates their employees, the society that provices a container in which they exist, market and, hopefully, thrive. But no laws.  I took that class in 1999. Corporate social responsbility was in it s infancy. Now I have seen it morph into a cynical way for corporations to greenwash themselves.

And now I see the sharing economy being akin to the greenwashing of corporate social responsibility -- paying lipservice to being socially responsible but not doing anything socially responsible other than make money for shareholders  (Walmart owners are multi-billionaires but they do not pay a living wage to most of their staff, taxpayers pay for their emplyees health care and food stamps and the Walmart owners get rich while evading their responsibility to the people who create their wealth).

AirBnB, Uber, Lyft. These companies don't seem to give a hoot about social responsibility. While I empathize with Uber or Lyft drivers, or Taskrabbit taskers, for any genuine need to generate enough income to thrive in the world, we still have shareholders in such companies gaining return on the workers' effort plus offloading lots of risk onto society. If an Uber driver doesn't have to carry the same kind of insurance as a taxi, or pay licensing fees to the city, Uber and their drivers are analogous to the Walmart billionaires benefiting when taxpayers provide their employees with Medicaid and food stamps. Everyone trying to make a buck that actually cost someone else. IMHO. Not being an economist or any kind of expert, what the heck do I know?

I see many inequities in these new 'sharing economy' businesses. AirBnB takes rental space out of the rental market and sometimes creates disruptive tourist-partying environments in residential areas.

I know nothing of what I write, eh?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

canvassing for a politician

Every Saturday and Sunday, and somedays early on weekday evenings when folks are home from work, I canvass for a man running for State Assembly.  I have acquired a positive reputation within the campaign as delivering the most commitments of votes for our candidate and the most lawn signs. I have such a high positive return rate that other canvassers now ask to come out with me to see what I do.

It is completely different, in my opinon, when someone is with me. Another person changes the dynamic. My whole spiel is based on introducing myself and quickly moving to talking about the candidate,  With another canvasser present, the conversation is more complex, introductions take longer and, it is my belief, it is more intimidating to people to have two people on their front porch, strangers to them. Strangers with clipboards.

Alone, I become the most charming and ingratiating that I have it within my power to be.  Many begin by saying they never heard of my guy, unaware that they just gave me the perfect opening.

law school in MN was not my first choice

I was accepted into a couple law schools on the West Coast, ignoring the nine law schools in Chicago.  My dad moaned and groaned about me going to far away. I never came right out and told him that I felt a powerful, instinctive need to get away from my family.  Plus, I had always wanted to move to California when I finished college. Law school seemed like a good vehicle out, since Dad was adamant that I not get the doctorate in cultural anthropology I really wanted.

"Go to law school", he said, "Lawyers do more good for people than anthropologists."

"Dad, I want to write about cultures. I want to do my dissertation after having lived with a primitive tribe I visited in the high Andes when I lived in Colombia.  I want to write."

"Lawyers write all day. Go to law school."

Dad had wrongly assumed I'd pick one of Chicago's many law schools. He was shocked when I got into UC Hastings, Lewis and Clark in Portland and some other place in Washington State.  I knew he objected but I was determined to go far away, to have an adventure and, hopefully, never live near my family of origin again.

One day, unfortunately, at a large family gathering, my Aunt Mary, my dad's baby sister, pulled me aside and said "Tree, you aren't really going to go to law school in California, are you? I think it would kill your father."  My Aunt Mary had barely spoken to me in my entire life. I knew her message was a direct expression of my dad's anxiety and my dad's version of love.

So I went to law school in Minnesota, which was only a one day drive away from Chicago. Minneapolis was far enough that I only visited my family a couple times a year.

My maternal grandparents had both grown up in Minnesota. My grandfather had grown up in St. Paul, started college and left because he could not pay tuition anymore. My grandmother's father must have been an unusual man. A farmer with a small farm in Montevideo, my great grandfather had 13 children and he sent all thirteen of them to college. He placed a strong emphasis on education, even for his daughters, a fairly rare value at the turn of the 19th Century.

I had spent a lot of time in Minnesota as a child. My mother's parents had located to Mitchell, South Dakota, perhaps also feeling a need to have some distance from their families. But my mom's sister, my Aunt Margaret, had a thing about family. Aunt Margaret and Uncle Charley only had one child, after many stillborns.  I usually spent a lot of time with their daughter, my cousin Joy, in the summer. This gave my mom a break from one of her several children and gave my cousin someone to play with.   I spent most of my summers on their farm in Indiana but we always took a road trip to South Dakota.

When Aunt Margaret could talk Uncle Charley into taking a few hundred miles of detour to visit our relatives in Minnesota, which was most summers, we did.

I guess I still have many relatives in Minnesota, come to think of it.

Minnesota was not California, nor the West Coast, but it gave me the distance I needed from my immediate family.  I met my daughter's father in law school, married him and then agreed, with no real thought, to move to Omaha, his home town. Omaha is not my kind of town. Nebraska is conservaative. There is a paucity of art and liberals. I had my daughter there and lammed out as soon as a judge would let me. It took about three years of expensive legal wrangling to get divorced, then another year to get permission to remove my minor child from the state.

My dad did me a real favor when I got permission to leave Nebraska. Unemployed, responsible for a baby, I was afraid of being able to quickly find a job. I asked dad if Katie and I could move into his large, almost empty house, until I found a job, which would have been easy to do in Chicago, at least in those days. Dad said no. He said my one younger brother living with dad would be uncomfortable. In truth, it was likely my brother Joe, who had his own house and family, that pressured dad to turn me away.

it turned out to be a good thing. I love Minneapolis. I had many more friends there than in Chicago. I had not been in touch with anyone from high school since I left high school. We had moved when I was in the 8th grade and I lost connections with those friends. In Minnesota, I had a social network. loved the Twin Cities and, well, it felt like a good fit. If dad had agreed to let us stay with him briefly, I'd likely still be living in Chicago

My daughter, as it happens, lives in Chicago. 

letting go is hard for me when I love someone

Go with the flow, my dear Tree. Let go. Accept that the losses you are mourning are irretrievable, forgive the people who did not love you, forgive forgive forgive. Forgive yourself for being imperfect.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I am not my mother, Pure Joy

“Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota”
by James Wright
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

Long ago, nearly 30 years ago, I was in a support group in which one of the members worked, as a volunteer, for the James Wright Review.  He was gay -- the guy in my group. And wound up so tight.  He always seemed tense and, like me, didn't really fit anywhere. This guy devoted countless hours to the James Wright Review, a labor of love. I wonder if he was a writer, in hindsight. He never said he was.

Once, when my daughter and I drove to Chicago to visit my brother and mother who was visiting Chicago, this guy rode along.  Our agreement was he would stay with a friend of his. My brother's apartment was almost too small to accommodate Rosie, mom and me, much less an uninvited stranger -- stranger to my brother and his partner.

The guy spent one night with his elderly artist friend and then called me and begged me to let him stay with us. My brother and his partner were kind enough to let him, although he had to sleep on the floor. I picked him up. The artist friend lived in a huge house crammed with art.  I got the vibe that the visit had been a disaster. Having that relative stranger invade our weekend was a little odd, for I barely knew him. I had only agreed to give him a ride to and from Chicago, I had never expected him to hang out with us the whole weekend. Being the polite family my family can be, we all were nice to him.  My mom treated him when we ate out, for he was poor. My brother and brother-in-law chatted with him, included him in their gourmet meals and they tried to find some common ground around their shared gender identity.  It was a weird weekend.

My mom drove back with us when we left Chicago. We got snowed in half-way home, and checked into a pretty fancy hotel, because all the cheap ones were full with others fleeing the blizzard.  That guy just assumed my mom would pay for everything for him. He never once suggested he might have contributed something.

And then he did something that tormented my Rosie.  He used all the tiny bottles of hotel shampoo. It was a family tradition that everyone in our family used their own shampoo and gave the tiny hotel shampoo bottles to Rosie. Rosie freaked about that. We called the front desk, they went up a couple more but not the large supply initially provided for four people in that room. At least that odd interloper got the rollaway bed. Mom got one queen sized, Rosie and I share done and our uninvited guest, a very tall man who was longer than the rollaway got the rollaway. His feet extended at least a foot past the edge of the bed. He grumbled about that, hinting he should get his own room since a rollaway was the best the hotel could do. Another room for a stranger mooching oddly off us all weekend.

In hindsight, I feel empathy for the guy. I speculate that he had heard me discussing our trip to Chicago, that he was lonely and thought it would be an inexpensive change of scene. I think his visit with the elderly artist friend had gone badly, although he never spoke of the visit. And why would have have spoken of it?  We weren't friends.

I remember his voice when he called and, with a desperate tone, pleaded to be allowed to stay with us for the next three nights -- a long visit, no just a weekend -- that I felt a wrench. I felt his pain. He had imagined a happy reunion and his visit with his old friend had been a fail.

I think he had a nice time. We Fitzpatricks can be very cordial, going into an autopilot mode of politely civil behavior. Plus, I think we all sensed the guy was miserable. At the time, I didn't think much about his oddness but, in retrospect, I suspect he had a mental health challenge.

And these ruminations have nothing to do with this lovely James Wright poem.

Yosemite . . . . . still haven't been. . .

A friend who keeps assuring me he will go camping in Yosemite with me has not yet done so.

I have gone camping alone many times in the past, mostly in northern Minnesota. I haven't been everywhere but I can't imagine anywhere being more beautiful than Minnesota's Boundary Waters, the north shore of Lake Superior or the haunting Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

I've been to a few warm beach spots, such as Jamaica, Cartagena, Miami, Southern California. I am not a beach vacation kind of gal.

I want to see Yosemite.  My friend who keeps promising to go but doesn't has his latest excuse:  it is too cold to go.

We could stay in a motel. If it is cold, the park would be less crowded.

Another friend, also a man, just told me that just the drive to Yosemite is gorgeous and I should go as soon as I can, then go again and again to explore its vast beauty.

gluten free options

Fallafel is gluten free. It is also high in protein because it is made from chickpeas, a legume. Legumes have protein, fiber and, usually, some trace minerals our bodies like.

Polenta. It can be made without animal milk, folks.

Savory muffins made with coconut flour, eggs and spices. You can go fruity with blueberries and bananas. I recommend bananas always for they add some sweet. I never ingest sugar and have not for quite some time. Or you can go savory. I tend to go savory so I can add cinnamon, ginger and tumeric:   all these spices help your meteabolism and as a Type I diabetic I need all the help I can get so my glucose level doesn't spike.

Since I went gluten, dairy and sugar free last September, my glucose levels have gone way down. I need much less insulin than I did back then. And, although I am afraid I will jinx this by writing it, my insulin needs seem to go down more and more. Many, even most days, I don't need to inject at all during the day because my glucose levels stay low -- even when I eat. I eat carefully but I eat carbs now.

For years, like ten years, I almost never ate fruit and absolutely never ate starchy vegies. I did berries once in awhile as a special treat, the closest to a sweet I got.  Since going gluten, dairy and sugar free and following the To Quiet Inflammation Diet by Kathie Abascal, I have done tons more research. Turns out there are many Type I's who eat lots of fruit, even some Type I's who eat nothing but raw fruit and they swear their insulin levels are low and their glucose levels test in the healthy range, like 5.5.

In the locker room yesterday, after my swim, I overheard a nurse say she'd been off grain, dairy and sugar for ten days but had slipped the day before. She was at a meeting, hungry and the only food was sweet rolls. She said she felt the sugar rush instantly.

So I said "Gluten, dairy and sugar have not crossed my lips since September", all the Masters swimmers, jocks of all ages, clusered aund me to hear the good word. A woman asked "Do you feel better?"  I said "Yes, I feel better and I am finding I feel better and better all the time. Feeling good must be part of the reason I am so motivated."

More chatter back and forth.

I long to join the Masters but I don't swim well enough for the team at my pool. They even say in their information not to join if you aren't a very good swimmer. I am not. With some coaching, I am sure I would imrove my strokes, get faster and get a better workout but I can't afford the classes.

Masters teams are not just about swimming. They are about camaraderie. Few sports are as solitary as lap swimming.

Whenever I am in the shower room and the Masters team invades, everyone chattering and friendly, I am jealous.

I am rambling. .  I just looked up and saw my topic was gluten free.

A friend gifted me a copy of a Gluten Free Baking book. Coconut flour, almond flour, chickpea flour, protein powder (but pure organic whey, don't get protein powder loaded with chemicals at a place like GNC!), pumpkin puree, applesauce, chia seed ground into flour or just add crunch with chia seeds, and flax meal.

a raw, open wound

I was a raw, open wound for years.

This wound was protected by what I think of as a blister.  I remained numb about men for 25 years. I never once questioned being alone and doing nothing to try to date again. I was content being numb, protected, the way a blister protects a wound to allow it to heal.

My numbness ended

training for the emotional olympics

This might be a transition in TLR.

A former acquaintance, who was never a friend, once remarked to me that talking to me was 'like training for the emotional olympics".  When he said that, I choked down the comment, suppressing my strong impulse to reply that interacting with him was also, for me, like intense training for the emotional Olympics.

I wonder now, and only in passing, how things might have unfolded between us if I had shared what I thought when he said that.

I often asked this man to spend more time with me. He only saw me very intermittently, never for more than an hour or two. He never allowed us enough time to get to know one another, to get past the introductory phase of truly knowing another being. And I think he projected all responsibility for our failure onto me, blaming me. At least I was willing to try.

As the Hendricks say in their book "Conscious Loving", when two people decide to get closer, there is always a stage in which things get hard, even a little scary. Consciously loving persons hang on for the rough transition, the fearful transition, from acquaintance to friend, trusting that the instinctive call they feel to get closer to a specific someone will carry them through.

In Chicago, there was a grocery store when I was a teenager that had no actual doors. No doors in Chicago, where it gets pretty cold in winter, was amazing. The store was not near where I lived or hung out but friends and I trekked to that store to see its amazing doors.  Instead of doors, intense blowers blew hot air across the open doorways to keep out the cold. It was interesting to walk, for a moment or two, through that blowing heat to get in and again to get out.

Entering a consciously loving friendship, instead of a social acquaintanceship that is mostly shallow and founded on ever-shifting social norms and, often, also founded on an agreement to avoid one another's shadows, is like going through the heat blast of those open doors on a cold Chicago night. The transition need not be long but if one does not consciously move through the intense, 'like training for the emotional Olympics' and remain engaged with the other as consciously as possible, one cannot ever get close.

And maybe the man I have alluded to made a conscious decision that he would never get close to me.  I don't know what was going on with him.

I know what the Hendricks say. They say every relationship reaches a stage at which two people decide to go forward together, even into the scary shadow work that people must do to become close, or they agree to have a relatively shallow, social bond that may appear to be close but which is not.

Any relationship, in order to become a close one, has to transition through the hard stuff. Anyone who thinks they can get close to someone with no shadow work and no scary emotional stages is afraid of discovering who they really are.

Relationships are where we discover who we are. Meditation also reveals aspects of who we are but until one allows one's ego and shadow to bump, in trust and love, with another person, one cannot know one's self fully.

This man I mentioned was never my friend. He began telling me fairly early into our seven years of emotional Olympics that he did not trust me. Yet trust is an essential element of friendship. Aristotle wrote that trust is an essential element of friendship -- good enough for me. Aristotle also wrote that friends spend time together solely because they like being around the other person and not for shared activity, that friends spend time together because they like and want to spend time with the other. This man never trusted me and never seemed to feel any real desire to send any meaningful time with me.

Past is prologue.  I hope.

Imagine training for the actual Olympics without trusting your coach and/or teammates. A nightmare.  Trust is essential to any healthy relationship. And if someone distrusts me, that distrust is about the other person, not about me. I am trustworthy.  Sure I am imperfect, become angry, offload feelings when triggered. I can't, not yet, escape my human imperfections. Yet I am trustworthy.

I believe this relationship felt like 'training for the emotional olmpics' because of fear and distrust, and because of our respective, absolutely futile effort to escape our destiny to do some work together.

begin the world over again

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again." - Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

Monday, September 22, 2014

we live in Grail Quest times

My favorite book about the Grail is Speech of the Grail by Dr. Linda Sussmann, who uses Wolfram von Eschenbach's version of the Parsifal story. There are several versions. First the story was told far and wide by traveling storytellers and then paper and books emerged.  Anthroposophists, and I am an anthroposophist, consider von Eschenbach's version the definitive one.  Parsifal is guidance for the millenium we live in now. Here is a snippet from Dr. Sussman's introduction:

In Speech of the Grail, storyteller and ceremonialist Linda Sussman explores a new way to speak, one that heals and transforms. She takes for her guide Wolfram von Eschenbach’s epic tale of the Grail, showing how it depicts a path of initiation toward healing speech—to “doing the truth” in word and action.
“The Grail! The word stirs a deep response in the Western imagination. Joseph Campbell called the medieval stories where it is first mentioned ‘the founding myth of Western civilization,’ because ‘according to this mythology, there is no fixed law, no established knowledge of god, set up by prophets or priests, that can stand against the revelation of a life lived with integrity in the spirit of its own brave truth.’ Campbell and many other scholars, artists, and seekers have seen the Western wisdom path disclosed in the image of each knight entering the forest where no one else has made a path. The quest is to recover the elusive Grail, thereby returning its sustenance to the world. The presence of the Grail nurtures an invisible web of relationships that connect individual destiny to service of others and to the earth, thereby granting meaning.”
Linda Sussman (from her introduction)

The Grail is Love. The speech is loving, empathic, compassionate speech always.  Of course humans are imperfect and do not always speak in love, empathy, compassion, etc but we hold ourselves aloft in our aspiration to do so. And when we stumble, others love us anyway. That's the Grail. Love no matter what.

the powerful stigma of mental health issues

The stigma towards virtually any mental health issues has the unfortunate affect of causing people struggling with mental health challenges to stigmatize themselves. I know this from painful personal experience. I was well recovered from a challenging mental health disability but for years I continued to see myself as less than whole.

I stigmatized myself.

I set myself free about a year ago. I feel happier with each passing day. It is great to see myself as I always was.  Normal.

I love people I can be weird with

I love people I can be weird with. You know, be myself. How about you?

teff burritos

I make better burritos than the great burritos shops dotting all over the Bay Area.

All I needed was the gluten-free teff burrito tortillas I just discovered.

Avocado has become my new dairy, adding creaminess and fat without the carbs of dairy. I do miss cheese. Goddess how I miss cheese. But ripe, creamy avocado is now my cheese substitute and creamy fill-in.  Beans. i have become a masterful maker of refried beans, which is a bit of a misnomer. They aren't really refried, really just mashed pinto beans with, in my kitchen, a dash of live oil. No lard for me! and then vegies galore:  cold spinach or hot braised spinach, cukes, tomatoes (technically a fruit, I know, as if avocado), onions, lettuce, onions, mushrooms if I have some cooked shrooms in the fridge.

I am becoming a masterful gluten-, dairy- and, of course, sugar-free cook. I make only a few things over and over but I love all the things i eat.

Cream of mushroom soup made with coconut milk is amazing. I braise the mushrooms in olive oil, for a more savory taste than I get with coconut oil. Garlic in the oil, of course.  A mushroom, refried bean, greens tortillas:  mighty tasty.

sometimes getting dumped is unrelated to one's self

From Jeff Brown's FB page, shared by Dana Lynne Anderson. I am only sharing the quote. The image did not resonate for me. I think this quote is great:

Sometimes people walk away from love because it is so beautiful that it terrifies them. Sometimes they leave because the connection shines a bright light on their dark places and they are not ready to work them through. Sometimes they run away because they are not developmentally prepared to merge with another- they have more individuation work to do first. Sometimes they take off because love is not a priority in their lives- they have another path and purpose to walk first. Sometimes they end it because they prefer a relationship that is more practical than conscious, one that does not threaten the ways that they organize reality. Because so many of us carry shame, we have a tendency to personalize love's leavings, triggered by the rejection and feelings of abandonment. But this is not always true. Sometimes it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes the one who leaves is just not ready to hold it safe. Sometimes they know something we don't- they know their limits at that moment in time. Real love is no easy path- readiness is everything. May we grieve loss without personalizing it. May we learn to love ourselves in the absence of the lover.

I free myself and everyone

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'
Isaac Asimov

love your suffering . . .

You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation...and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else. --Hermann Hesse

Easy to say, easy to aspire to loving my suffering. Often a struggle for me but I'm getting more adept at loving my suffering. How about you?

heading to Climate March in Oakland

It's late, not until two.  I'm going earlier to scope out where I might want to position myself, also to find my candidate's group.

I am recalling that in the run-up to Cheney's Halliburton profits war in Iraq, there were millions of demonstrators who turned out to object to the war. President George W. Bush, in his standard whine, said demonstrations amounted to less than focus groups and he could not be expected to let millions of citizens affect his decision to go to war on false evidence that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Sadly, I fear, the truth is, the elite want perpetual war, for complex, greedy reasons. They want to control natural resources and people (a natural resource?) and they wrongly see war and capitalism, which is ecocide, as the way to control.  Any effort at control involves illusion.


I love the deep energy around the world today for climate change and peace. I wish I did not feel so skeptical that marching will do any good.

Like I am telling myself that maybe I would have more impact if I had gotten myself to NYC today.

Bosh and nonsense. Will 'they' listen?  Will Obama listen?  I think not.

I just read a quote from the great senator, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who says that no laws can get passed in Congress unless Wall Street approves. The money lenderse have taken over the temples of democracy.

best political, social & spiritual work we can do

The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others. ~Carl Jung

Saturday, September 20, 2014

helping friend at her mother's funeral

An old friend of mine was the main organizer at a friend's mother's funeral today. It is an honor to be asked to perform this task, to be trusted with dealing with details while a friend puts her mother into the ground.  Reading this reminded me of the time Ethel, mother of my friend Peggy, died.

I know Peggy from Spirited Work which was a lively, highly active, ongoing experiment in open space community. Ethel had come to some of our four-times-a-year, four-day-residential weekend gatherings so I knew and loved Ethel. I loved Peggy more.

Peggy asked me to organize the post-funeral-service lunch. I invited another Spirited Work community member to help. I didn't need the help but I thought this person would like the chance to support Peggy in this role. This other person, who shall remain nameless, rejected my plan, which Peggy had suggested. Peggy had suggested we go to a store in the suburb her mother had lived in that specializes in providing food for Jewish funeral lunches, just buy a bunch of food and bring it to the house. This other person said "oh no, don't buy food. We'll put a notice on the SW community bulletin board and many will bring food."

Wanting to be collaborative and having invited this woman to be inclusive and collegial, I did as she suggested, with all my instincts screaming she was wrong.

I did bring food myself. I was the only person who brought food. I brought two dozen boiled eggs. It is a tradition to eat boiled eggs at funeral lunches for many Jews, I had learned.

After the funeral, everyone was hungry. A couple other Spirited Work women dashed out to buy food. In the meantime, Peggy's sister-in-law made coffee and punch and everyone gobbled one of my eggs. EVeryone was hungry.

I was sad, feeling that I had failed. I had been so honored that Peggy asked me to organize her mother's funeral brunch. And my instincts had loudly assured me the suggestion to just put out the word to SW folks and food would come. If folks had read the bulletin goard, they likely would have brought tons of food. But no one had checked the bulletin board.

it all worked out. Everyone staved hunger with my hard boiled eggs untl they ran out. Food soon arrived. And no one really cared about food, certainly not Peggy, her sister and brother. They were grieving their mother's death.

I think I was the only one who felt bad. And did I ever. to have been entrusted with such a high honor only to have blown it.

Thank goddess I brought those eggs.

society, as presently organized, needs continuous war

"The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare."
 George Orwell, 1949, from "1984"

The dude was brilliant, eh?  I sometimes wish he was wrong about something in 1984 but he nailed what is unfolding in the world.  Continuous warfare seems to be the norm these days.


I have posted, in recent weeks, a couple scenes from a novel I've worked on off and on for years.  I posted them because I read them to my writers' group. Putting them online gives my group a chance to give me feedback.

Now the group has a google doc set up where we can share our work with one another privately.

I started out modeling TLR on a man I knew. I quickly realized that my alter-ego was TLR, not this man. The book is autobiographical with lots of fictional components.  I got stuck and dropped it, several years ago, because I couldn't see the happy ending with the man I roughly modeled the male lead after.  It was more like an incanatation, trying to will into my life what I most wanted, which was a loving life partner. So I dropped it.

Sitting with ideas, having written half a novel, stays with you.

More recently, I began a planned trilogy, which I won't say much about because I think it's a brilliant idea and I don't want it imitated until I've written my books.

I waffle between the two projects. I return to TLR when I feel stuck in the 'Trilogy'. Three novels? What am I thinking, wanting to write a trilogy?  The Trilogy fits with past unfinished writing projects in which I wrote about a happy human future, not really utopian and definitely not dystopian.

I believe humanity will become more dystopian before it gets to 'the more beautiful story we all know is possible'. My idea is to leap over the darkness ahead. I read yesterday that capitalism is a kind of war against the earth, a plundering of our commons for the sake of profit for the greedy elite. That sounded right to me.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a piece related to TLR -- keeping in mind that I am TLR -- and I wrote a piece explaining Willa's history with men. I write it during my group. I could not read it aloud. I had tapped into some old pain. In writing that painful piece, I realized I was writing a dark novel, which I do not want to do.

And, yet, as any writer will tell you, characters take hold of a writer. They even scream at the writer for attention.

We'll see. I am finding I can't entirely plan what I write. I always set out with a plan but the story always takes on a life of its own, with characters competing for my attention. And characters telling me what to do.

I think if I could quickly write past the part of TLR that involves the Geo character, I might still have a novel.

We'll see.

I am so grateful to the really wonderful writing group I have found.  Supportive. Positive. And

all serious writers.

Friday, September 19, 2014

a library fire on Christmas

I had a great job in high school. I worked at a neighborhood branch of the Chicago Public Library. I loved that job. I had fleeting moments in which I thought I might do graduate school in library science and become a librarian. Nowadays, librarians need to know technology. It's less about books.

The children's library of our branch was wonderful. She encouraged me to prepare visual displays for the children's library. She encouaged me to read books during reading hour to public groups of children.  I loved creating the window displays, choosing the books to present and then reading some of them.

The library in Chicago, like all government gigs in Chicago as I grew up, were contingent on knowing someone.  My dad was a precinct captain for a long time so he has good connects. He knew someone high up in the library. Otherwise I would never have gotten the job.

My library job was the envy of all my friends.

A small branch, we had four clerks and four pages. The clerks checked books in and out and were always females. the pages put returned books back on the shelf, in proper order. Pages were always males. I imagine that has changed.

The clerks were supposed to rotate fairly but the head library, who set the schedules, favored a rich, better-connected-than-me clerk. She always gave Jamie Friday night off and I always had to work. In my high school world, Friday nights were mostly the nights for dances, football games, and most general socializing. Saturdays were dull nights until one had a date. How I chafed that Jamie always got Friday off, that I never did.

sellling door to door

After becoming an ever-improving political canvasser, which has me knocking on doors and charming strangers to vote for my candidate, I have giggling thoughts of getting into door to door sales.

Does anyone sell things door to door anymore? Encyclopedias?  Fuller Brush products? Make up?

I would never actually do door to door sales but aspects of my being have emerged through canvassing that I did not, heretofore, know.

It's hard work. I don't feel appreciated by the campaign insiders. For some reason, I am driven to do it. I feel like I am actually doing something to improve society, to help get a good candidate elected.

Lots of "Not Home', meaning no one answer the door, even though sometimes the door is open and I see and hear folks inside. A few doors slammed in my face with "not interested' before they have any idea why I am at their door.

Every time I canvass, however, I experience some joyful, happy moments. Like the day I found Brigadoon, which was the same day I heard a violin being played and then saw a man slowly walking down the block, with his dog, playing his violin. He played quite well. It felt like a magic glimpse of heaven.  And I had a particularly good day: fifteen people said they would definitely vote for my candidate.

Shall I sell toasters? Copies of self published books?

the good in world is worth holding onto

  Sam: It's like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth holding onto.

Sam and Frodo, of course, are characters from Lord of the Rings.

may my heart be kind

May my heart


I don't want to get up and head into the world today

I have made a commitment to do some work for someone today, promised I'd be there by eleven. I have dawdled so much that I'll have to take BART instead of walking (it's North of Berkeley).

Love is real: John Lennon

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Traits of an Empath

30 traits of an Empath

1. Knowing: Empaths just know stuff, without being told. It’s a knowing that goes way beyond intuition or gut feelings, even though that is how many would describe the knowing. The more attuned they are the stronger this gift becomes.

2. Being in public places can be overwhelming: Places like shopping malls, supermarkets or stadiums where there are lots of people around can fill the empath with turbulently vexed emotions that are coming from others.

3. Feeling others emotions and taking them on as your own: This is a huge one for empaths. To some they will feel emotions off those near by and with others they will feel emotions from those a vast distance away, or both. The more adept empath will know if someone is having bad thoughts about them, even from great distance.

4. Watching violence, cruelty or tragedy on the TV is unbearable: The more attuned an empath becomes the worse it is and may make it so they eventually have to stop watching TV and reading newspapers altogether.

5. You know when someone is not being honest: If a friend or a loved one is telling you lies you know it (although many empaths try not to focus on this because knowing a loved one is lying can be painful). Or if someone is saying one thing but feeling/thinking another, you know.

6. Picking up physical symptoms off another: An empath will almost always develop the ailments off another (colds, eye infections, body aches and pains) especially those they’re closest to, somewhat like sympathy pains.

7. Digestive disorders and lower back problems: The solar plexus chakra is based in the centre of the abdomen and it’s known as the seat of emotions. This is where empaths feel the incoming emotion of another, which can weaken the area and eventually lead to anything from stomach ulcers to IBS (too many other conditions to list here). Lower back problems can develop from being ungrounded (amongst other things) and one, who has no knowledge of them being an empath, will almost always be ungrounded.

8. Always looking out for the underdog: Anyone whose suffering, in emotional pain or being bullied draws an empath’s attention and compassion.

9. Others will want to offload their problems on you, even strangers: An empath can become a dumping ground for everyone else’s issues and problems, which, if they’re not careful can end up as their own.

10. Constant fatigue: Empaths often get drained of energy, either from energy vampires or just taking on too much from others, which even sleep will not cure. Many get diagnosed with ME.

11. Addictive personality: Alcohol, drugs, sex, are to name but a few addictions that empaths turn to, to block out the emotions of others. It is a form of self protection in order to hide from someone or something.

12. Drawn to healing, holistic therapies and all things metaphysical: Although many empaths would love to heal others they can end up turning away from being healers (even though they have a natural ability for it), after they’ve studied and qualified, because they take on too much from the one they are trying to heal. Especially if they are unaware of their empathy. Anything of a supernatural nature is of interest to empaths and they don’t surprise or get shocked easily. Even at the revelation of what many others would consider unthinkable, for example, empaths would have known the world was round when others believed it was flat.

13. Creative: From singing, dancing, acting, drawing or writing an empath will have a strong creative streak and a vivid imagination.

14. Love of nature and animals: Being outdoors in nature is a must for empaths and pets are an essential part of their life.

15. Need for solitude: An empath will go stir-crazy if they don’t get quiet time. This is even obvious in empathic children.

16. Gets bored or distracted easily if not stimulated: Work, school and home life has to be kept interesting for an empath or they switch off from it and end up daydreaming or doodling.

17. Finds it impossible to do things they don’t enjoy: As above. Feels like they are living a lie by doing so. To force an empath to do something they dislike through guilt or labelling them as idle will only serve in making them unhappy. It’s for this reason many empaths get labelled as being lazy.

18. Strives for the truth: This becomes more prevalent when an empath discovers his/her gifts and birthright. Anything untruthful feels plain wrong.

19. Always looking for the answers and knowledge: To have unanswered questions can be frustrating for an empath and they will endeavour to find an explanation. If they have a knowing about something they will look for confirmation. The downside to this is an information overload.

20. Likes adventure, freedom and travel: Empaths are free spirits.

21. Abhors clutter: It makes an empath feel weighed down and blocks the flow of energy.

22. Loves to daydream: An empath can stare into space for hours, in a world of their own and blissfully happy.

23. Finds routine, rules or control, imprisoning: Anything that takes away their freedom is debilitating to an empath even poisoning.

24. Prone to carry weight without necessarily overeating: The excess weight is a form of protection to stop the negative incoming energies having as much impact.

25. Excellent listener: An empath won’t talk about themselves much unless it’s to someone they really trust. They love to learn and know about others and genuinely care.

26. Intolerance to narcissism: Although kind and often very tolerant of others, empaths do not like to be around overly egotistical people, who put themselves first and refuse to consider another’s feelings or points of view other than their own.

27. The ability to feel the days of the week: An empath will get the ‘Friday Feeling’ if they work Fridays or not. They pick up on how the collective are feeling. The first couple of days of a long, bank holiday weekend (Easter for example) can feel, to them, like the world is smiling, calm and relaxed. Sunday evenings, Mondays and Tuesdays, of a working week, have a very heavy feeling.

28. Will not choose to buy antiques, vintage or second-hand: Anything that’s been pre-owned carries the energy of the previous owner. An empath will even prefer to have a brand new car or house (if they are in the financial situation to do so) with no residual energy.

29. Sense the energy of food: Many empaths don’t like to eat meat or poultry because they can feel the vibrations of the animal (especially if the animal suffered), even if they like the taste.

30. Can appear moody, shy, aloof, disconnected: Depending on how an empath is feeling will depend on what face they show to the world. They can be prone to mood swings and if they’ve taken on too much negative will appear quiet and unsociable, even miserable. An empath detests having to pretend to be happy when they’re sad, this only adds to their load (makes working in the service industry, when it’s service with a smile, very challenging) and can make them feel like scuttling under a stone.

If you can say yes to most or all of the above then you are most definitely an empath

Empaths are having a particularly difficult time at the present time, picking up on all the negative emotions that are being emantated into the world from the populace.

TRAITS OF AN EMPATH by Christel Broederlow
Empaths are often quiet achievers. They can take a while to handle a compliment for they’re more inclined to point out another’s positive attributes. They are highly expressive in all areas of emotional connection, and talk openly, and, at times quite frankly. They may have few problems talking about their feelings if another cares to listen (regardless of how much they listen to others).

However, they can be the exact opposite: reclusive and apparently unresponsive at the best of times. They may even appear ignorant. Some are very good at “blocking out” others and that’s not always a bad thing, at least for the learning empath struggling with a barrage of emotions from others, as well as their own feelings.

Empaths have a tendency to openly feel what is outside of them more so than what is inside of them. This can cause empaths to ignore their own needs. In general an empath is non-violent, non-aggressive and leans more towards being the peacemaker. Any area filled with disharmony creates an uncomfortable feeling in an empath. If they find themselves in the middle of a confrontation, they will endeavor to settle the situation as quickly as possible, if not avoid it all together. If any harsh words are expressed in defending themselves, they will likely resent their lack of self-control, and have a preference to peacefully resolve the problem quickly.

Empaths are more inclined to pick up another’s feelings and project it back without realizing its origin in the first place. Talking things out is a major factor in releasing emotions in the learning empath. Empaths can develop an even stronger degree of understanding so that they can find peace in most situations. The downside is that empaths may bottle up emotions and build barriers sky-high so as to not let others know of their innermost thoughts and/or feelings. This withholding of emotional expression can be a direct result of a traumatic experience, an expressionless upbringing, or simply being told as a child, “Children are meant to be seen and not heard!”

Without a doubt, this emotional withholding can be detrimental to one’s health, for the longer one’s thoughts and/or emotions aren’t released, the more power they build. The thoughts and/or emotions can eventually becoming explosive, if not crippling. The need to express oneself honestly is a form of healing and a choice open to all. To not do so can result in a breakdown of the person and result in mental/emotional instability or the creation of a physical ailment, illness or disease.

Violence or emotional dramas depicting shocking scenes of physical or emotional pain inflicted on adults, children or animals can bring an empath easily to tears. At times, they may feel physically ill or choke back the tears. Some empaths will struggle to comprehend any such cruelty, and may have grave difficulty in expressing themselves in the face of another’s ignorance, closed-mindedness and obvious lack of compassion. They simply cannot justify the suffering they feel and see.

Empaths may be excellent storytellers due to an endless imagination, inquisitive minds and ever-expanding knowledge. They can be old romantics at heart and very gentle. They may also be the “keepers” of ancestral knowledge and family history. If not the obvious family historians, they may be the ones who listen to the stories passed down and possess the majority of the family history. Not surprisingly, they may have started or possess a family tree.

They are just as expressive with body language as with words, thoughts, and feelings. Their creativity is often expressed through dance, acting, and bodily movements. Empaths can project an incredible amount of energy portraying and/or releasing emotion. Empaths can become lost in the music, to the point of being in a trance-like state; they become one with the music through the expression of their physical bodies. They describe this feeling as a time when all else around them is almost non-existent.

People of all walks of life and animals are attracted to the warmth and genuine compassion of empaths. Regardless of whether others are aware of one being empathic, people are drawn to them as a metal object is to a magnet!

Even complete strangers find it easy to talk to empaths about the most personal things, and before they know it, they have poured out their hearts and souls without intending to do so consciously. It is as though on a sub-conscious level that person knows instinctively that empaths would listen with compassionate understanding. Then again, for empaths, it is always nice to actually be heard themselves!

Here are the listeners of life. They can be outgoing, bubbly, enthusiastic and a joy to be in the presence of, as well as highly humorous at the most unusual moments! On the flip side, empaths can be weighted with mood swings that will have others around them want to jump overboard and abandon ship! The thoughts and feelings empaths receive from any and all in their life can be so overwhelming (if not understood) that their moods can fluctuate with lightning speed. One moment they may be delightfully happy and with a flick of the switch, miserable.

Abandoning an empath in the throes of alternating moods can create detrimental effects. A simple return of empathic love–listening and caring compassionately without bias, judgment and/or condemnation–can go an incredibly long way to an empath’s instant recovery. Many empaths don’t understand what is occurring within them. They literally have no idea that another person’s emotions are now felt, as one’s own and reflected outwardly. They are confused as to how one moment all was well, and then the next, they feel so depressed, alone, etc. The need to understand the possibilities of empath connection is a vital part of the empaths journey for themselves and for those around them. (I added the bold to this paragraph:  this is very much like me).

Empaths are often problem solvers, thinkers, and studiers of many things. As far as empaths are concerned, where a problem is, so too is the answer. They often will search until they find one – if only for peace of mind. This can certainly prove beneficial for others in their relationships, in the workplace, or on the home front. Where there is a will, there is a way and the empath will find it. The empath can literally (likely without the knowledge of what’s actually occurring) tap into Universal Knowledge and be receptive to guidance in solving anything they put their head and hearts into.

Empaths often are vivid and/or lucid dreamers. They can dream in detail and are inquisitive of dream content. Often they feel as though the dreams are linked to their physical life somehow, and not just a mumble of nonsensical, irrelevant, meaningless images. This curiosity will lead many empathic dreamers to unravel some of the “mysterious” dream contents from an early age and connect the interpretation to its relevance in their physical life. If not, they may be led to dream interpretations through other means.

Empaths are daydreamers with difficulty keeping focused on the mundane. If life isn’t stimulating, off an empath will go into a detached state of mind. They will go somewhere, anywhere, in a thought that appears detached from the physical reality, yet is alive and active for they really are off and away. If a tutor is lecturing with little to no emotional input, empaths will not be receptive to such teaching and can (unintentionally) drift into a state of daydreaming.

Give the empath student the tutor who speaks with stimuli and emotion (through actual experience of any given subject) and the empath is receptively alert. Empaths are a captivated audience. This same principle applies in acting. An actor will either captivate the audience through expressing (in all aspects) emotions (as though they really did experience the role they are portraying) or will loose them entirely. Empaths make outstanding actors.

Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. What may initially start as, “Oh, what a coincidence”, will lead to the understanding of synchronicities as an aspect of who they are. These synchronicities will become a welcomed and continually expanding occurrence. As an understanding of self grows, the synchronicities become more fluent and free flowing. The synchronicities can promote a feeling of euphoria as empaths identify with them and appreciate the connection to their empathic nature.

Empaths are most likely to have had varying paranormal experiences throughout their lives. NDE’s (Near death experiences) and or OBE’s (Out of body experiences) can catapult an unaware empath into the awakening period and provide the momentum for a journey of discovery. Those who get caught up in life, in society’s often dictating ways, in work etc., can become lost in a mechanical way of living that provides very little meaning. All “signs of guidance” are ignored to shift out of this state of “doing”. A path to being whole again becomes evident and a search for more meaning in one’s life begins.

These types of experiences appear dramatic, can be life-altering indeed, and are most assuredly just as intensely memorable in years to come. They are the voice of guidance encouraging us to pursue our journey in awareness. Sometimes, some of us require that extra assistance!

For some empaths, the lack of outside understanding towards paranormal events they experience, may lead to suppressing such abilities. (Most of these abilities are very natural and not a coincidence.) Empaths may unknowingly adopt the positive or negative attitude of others as their own. (This, however, can be overcome.) Empaths may need to follow interests in the paranormal and the unexplained with curiosity so as to explain and accept their life circumstances.

The Mind Unleashed

raining today, a bit

Earlier this morning, it rained. It was a light sprinkle but in drought stricken N. Cali, it was rain.  Unfortunately it stopped but the sky seems filled with rain clouds. Hope we get more. I read that a hurricane on the coast of Mexico might push up some wet for us.  I hope so.

I like walking in the rain, in warm weather and in cold but not below freezing. As a former Minnesotan, I know that the key to winter survival in frigid winters is to keep dry. Once you are cold when it is below freezing, you get into trouble fast.

In the midst of winter in Berkeley, until the drought got going three years ago, it would rain most days. I have experienced no real downpours here. When I first moved to CA, it would appear to be foggy to me and people would say "it's raining!".  I see my definition of rain has shifted a bit.

I can enjoy getting wet, then feeling chilly. Then going home, taking a hot shower and changing into dry clothing feels so great. I feel alive.

I am recalling a former acquaintance who visited me in Berkeley several years ago. Rain was forecast for the evening. He lived three miles away. He had brought his motorcycle armor gear plus his raingear. But he had not worn it. He could have just put on the rain gear, right?  Anyway, over dinner, he repeatedly voiced anxiety that it might rain during is ride home. He said "What if it rains?" I said "You'll get wet."  I wanted to go on, to talk about enjoying getting wet and cold and then warming up again with a hot shower and dry clothes.  I didn't say these things because this acquaintance seemed so uneasy at the prospect of getting wet.  I guess on some level I recognized his anxiety because I dropped the subject of rain and getting wet when I wanted to wax on about it.

It feels great to put dry wool socks on cold, newly dryed-off feet. 

Getting wet, feeling cold, warming up again. These experiences remind me I am alive, a being. ALIVE.  Being wet doesn't last.  Again, I qualify that being wet in below-freezing temps is different. Dry warm feet used to be a central preocupation of mine when I lived in MN. My daughter, as a teen, would wear fashion boots with high heels. She wore warm, dry boots as a little kid but once she got into high school, she'd go out into frigid Minnesota winters with no hat, no gloves, dressed lightly. And fashion high-heeled boots.  I bought those boots because I know teens have to be teens.  I didn't wear sensible winter gear in high school either.

I think that former acquaintance might be challenged by more anxiety than I recognized when I still knew him.  I have a million issues, of course, but anxiety is not really one of them.  I think anxiety was also a significant issue for my daughter.  I knew she had anxiety issues but I wonder, with regret, if I failed to recognize the depth of her challenge, too.