Sunday, November 30, 2014

the alien bar scene in Star Wars & a prayer to my angel

I have not seen all the Star Wars movies. I resisted seeing any of them, even the first.   I am not overly fond of science fiction.  I did, eventually, watch Star Wars, primarily because I kept hearing so many cultural references to it, years after the first movie came out, and I wanted to get the references.

My favorite scene is the bar scene on a planet that is not Earth. Hans Solo has landed to fuel up his space ship but also to make a vital connection. He goes to a bar known for making connections. In this bar are all kinds of beings that do not look like humans. To Hans, all the odd beings just look normal to him.

And the main point of the scene, for me, is that he is trying to make a connection to advance on his path, to get where he thinks he needs to go.

I feel like I am trapped in a bad bar scene, or waystation, waiting for my life to move forward but not moving at all. Stuck. What am I missing? What do I fail to see?

I ask my guardian angel to give me blunt clues because, as she knows, I tend to miss the subtle ones.

free blankets in soap boxes & free toasters from banks

In the nineteen thirties, I think, one marketing trick for laundry detergent, at least one laundry detergent company, was to put 'free' blankets inside the soap boxes.

I know about this because my grandmother had a white blanket with roses that she got free in a box of laundry detergent.  That blanket got misplaced.  I mentioned it to my Great Aunt Effie, my grandmother's baby sister, and Effie gave me an identical blanket. 

I love this blanket. It's worn. And it was cheap to begin with so it is full of pills. It it a layer on a chilly night. I basically use it as a sofa blanket when I type on my sofa. It's not warm. It's pretty and sentimental.

Remember when banks would give you things like toasters or comforters when you opened a savings account?

I once moved my savings account so I could get a comforter. Not a down one but a thick one that would keep a person warm. Then I offered it to my aunt the nun who was working in a very poor parish and working to help the poor. She said "If you give me the blanket, I will probably give it away." That was fine with me. I had not seriously believed my aunt needed a blanket. I was a little indignant that she had not understood I had given her the comforter because I knew she needed things to help the poor she helped. Duh.

My aunt the nun is no longer a nun. When I was 47, she married an Episcopalian priest she met while attending a Jean Houston program. It was love at first sight but the guy was married. They decided he had to keep his commitment to his wife and songs, so my aunt took a job in Guatemala to get over him.

A few years later, that Episcopal priest turned up in Guatemala to propose. His wife had decided she was a lesbian and was divorcing him. A clean, ethical break for the priest. He was free to marry my aunt, who quickly left her order, with her order's support.

empathy


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Keeping Things Whole

Keeping Things Whole by Mark Strand
In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.
 Former U.S. poet laureate Mark Strand died today. This is one of his most beloved poems.

The myth of progress manifested in tool form.

“Wilderness can be saved permanently,” claims Ted Kaczynski, “only by eliminating the technoindustrial system.” I am beginning to think that the neo-environmentalists may leave a deliciously ironic legacy: proving the Unabomber right.

The Unabomber opens his book with these four premises, which the author of the Orion article agrees with. Kingsworth describes reading the Unabomber and how he found himself agreeing with him.

Here are the four premises with which Kaczynski begins the book:
1. Technological progress is carrying us to inevitable disaster.
2. Only the collapse of modern technological civilization can avert disaster.
3. The political left is technological society’s first line of defense against revolution.
4. What is needed is a new revolutionary movement, dedicated to the elimination of technological society.

The above quote is from an Orion Magazine article by Paul Kingsworth. Link to the whole article below.

Another quote from this great article:

“Romanticizing the past” is a familiar accusation, made mostly by people who think it is more grown-up to romanticize the future. But it’s not necessary to convince yourself that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers lived in paradise in order to observe that progress is a ratchet, every turn forcing us more tightly into the gears of a machine we were forced to create to solve the problems created by progress. It is far too late to think about dismantling this machine in a rational manner—and in any case who wants to? We can’t deny that it brings benefits to us, even as it chokes us and our world by degrees. Those benefits are what keep us largely quiet and uncomplaining as the machine rolls on, in the words of the poet R. S. Thomas, “over the creeds and masterpieces”:
The machine appeared
In the distance, singing to itself
Of money. Its song was the web
They were caught in, men and women
Together. The villages were as flies
To be sucked empty.
God secreted
A tear. Enough, enough,
He commanded, but the machine
Looked at him and went on singing.

Another quote from the Orion piece:

We are not gods, and our machines will not get us off this hook, however clever they are and however much we would like to believe it.

civilization is going to collapse, so what to do w/ourselves?

I don't agree with Kaczinsky's criminal attempt to harm people he believe were contributing to our collapse but I agree with what Kingsworth:  Kacinsky was onto something right.


You are that lumiosity

Ignorance can be compared to
a dark room in which you sleep.
No matter how long the room has been dark,
an hour or a million years,
the moment the lamp of awareness is lit
the entire room becomes luminous.
You are that luminosity.
You are that clear light."
-Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

Friday, November 28, 2014

blind and clueless

A former acquaintance abusively told me several times that I am blind and clueless.  When I indicated I did not like being negatively characterized as blind and clueless, he would express disbelief that I was offended by his negative characterization. Only this guy has his charm act down pat so he charmingly chided me for taking offense at what he characterized as his harmless characterization.

I am an INFJ, deeply intuitive, severely gifted intellectually. I usually get the feedback that I seem more tuned in than most people, that I pick up on all kinds of details that few others notice.

I am so not blind and clueless.

When someone negatively characterizes me, or anyone other than themselves, they are engaged in self-disclosure. Listen attentively when someone you have mistakenly believed was your friend tells you what is wrong with you. They are telling you about themselves.

So the man who told me I am blind and clueless was really telling me he is blind and clueless.

This man also frequently told me he did not trust me. Translation:   he was telling me he is not trustworthy. And, as it turned out, he was not. I genuinely believed he was my friend. We've all heard the old saying 'with friends like that, who needs enemies'.  Some people, apparently, feed like vampires off the strength of others, deriving a sense of their own value by putting others down and then, seeing they have deflated the other, they feel a false inflation of their own value.  I guess. I am speculating. I don't really know why anyone could, so wrongly, see blindness and cluelessness in me.

I am notorious among my friends for noticing everything.  I have friends who are internationally recognized communication consultants who are amazed at all the things I notice, and these are people that notice most things, too.

Once, when a friend and I were convening a four-day weekend, residential event, someone went through most of the rooms where people were staying, during the dinner hour, and stole money from most purses and wallets. The group was very upset and even fearful, wondering if a stranger had come to the retreat center. The loss of the money was less upsetting than the idea of a stranger staking out our group, watching us and carefully choosing dinner time to steal from most of us.

So my co-convenor and I gathered to talk about it. She had absolutely no idea who could possibly have violated the privacy of most of the group. For me, it was instantly obvious.

A new participant in this community, for this was an ongoing experiment in community that met four times a year for four-day residential retreats, had dragged her unwilling fourteen year old daughter to the gathering. This new participant had just finished her college degree and had been promising her daughter for quite some time that after graduation, the mother and daughter would have a weekend getaway together. When this woman heard about our gathering, she wanted to attend it and she, disingenuously, imho, told her daughter "this will be out special time together".

But it wasn't a special time together. The new participant aggressively made a big presence in our group, took over lots of circle time blowing her own horn. And she did not spend any time with her teenager.

I, convening that weekend, paid closer attention than I might have if I were not convening. I saw the teenager was angry, upset and unhappy to be at this adult and, to her, boring gathering.

When I heard someone had stolen money from most of the participants, I knew instantly that it was the teenager.

When my co-convenor and I gathered to assess how to manage the anxiety that was alive in the whole group, I said "It's so-and-so, the teenager, she's mad at her mama."  My co-convenor, a beloved friend,  and also a hugely successful communications consultant who has worked all over the world, published popular books on group dynamics models and dialogic models, almost gasped and she exclaimed "I never would have gotten that!"  She didn't have to say that she knew I was right. We both felt the certainty that I was right. That teen was angry with her mother for dragging her to a boring adult gathering. The kid might have been okay with spending a weekend in the woods. I think what rankled the kid was her mom had said "This is out getaway together" when the mom was totally absorbed by the event and ignored her daughter. Probably a pattern in their ongoing lives.  This mother had a tendency to suck up all the attention she could.

The next time the group met in full circle, it came out that it was the girl.  The group did not talk about her motives.  Everyone was empathetic and many participants shared stories of having stolen, esp. as a young person. No one suggested that the girl had stolen from most of the participants to act out anger towards her mother. But that's what it was.  Mad at her mama.

A blind and clueless person would not have seen, instantly, that the thief was that kid, mad at her mama.

The kid fessed up on her own. No one had to confront her.

I couldn't understand why the whole community had not instantly realized it had been that teenager. Her anger at her mother was boiling over. The girl had disrupted our large circles, sucking up a lot of attention from all of us because, I surmised even before the theft was discovered, she wasn't getting the attention she wanted from her mother.  It was obvious to me.

Then again, I had endured an angry teenage daughter.   I had relevant experience?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Elk Speaks v. Guns Germs and Steel

For my college freshman orientation program, the first book I was assigned to read in college was Black Elk Speaks. I wrote a post about Black Elk Speaks a few days ago.

I have had a nagging urge to remember something and I remembered what I was trying to remember just now.

My daughter also had an orientation at college. I believe the transfer students, which she was, and freshman all read the same book:  Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel.

I remember recoiling in my being at the book Guns Germs and Steel. I considered reading it, to have a sense of what my daughter was learning. I don't think she ever read it, actually. Some guy she was seeing just before she left for Ithaca found it fascinating.

1971:  as a college freshman, my first book was Black Elk Speaks

2001:  as a transfer student in orientation, my daughter, all the new transfers and all the freshman were assigned Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel.

I don't think I could read a book called Guns Germs and Steel even if I were paid a hundred dollars a word. I suspect the name tells me all I need to know:  guns, germs and steel have shaped human civilization.

Black Elk Speaks offered a way forward. Guns Germs and Steel seemed wrong to me.  I wonder why my daughter's college chose the book it chose. I thought the choice did not bode well for my child.

I am grateful I went to a university that had all its freshman read Black Elk Speaks. We also watched an Ingmar Bergman film during our freshman studies program, my introduction to foreign film.

THANK THANK THANK THANK: poem

THANK   THANK   THANK   THANK
PRAISE       PRAISE     PRAISE
THANK   THANK   THANK   THANK
CELEBRATE THE DAYS


A thank for mandolins and cheese
A thank for wine and honeybees
A thank for fellows deft and quirky
A thank for stuffing in the turkey

A thank for pixies trolls and faieries
A thank for Bloody and Holy Marys
A thank for angels and for knaves
A thank for rumors with their waves (a reference to the band Rumors of the Big Wave)

A thank for art and dance and words
For cooks and cocks and hummingbirds
A thank for queers and queens and cuties
and one for brawny hot patooties

A thank for those whose love is firm
A thank for hardon and for sperm
A thank for friends and food like this
and every taste of simple bliss

THANK   THANK  THANK   THANK
PRAISE       PRAISE     PRAISE
THANK   THANK   THANK   THANK
CELEBRATE THE DAYS

James Broughton 1992

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

you never looked so alone, Billy Collins

Embrace by Bill Collins
You know the parlor trick.
wrap your arms around your own body
and from the back it looks like
someone is embracing you
her hands grasping your shirt
her fingernails teasing your neck
from the front it is another story
you never looked so alone
your crossed elbows and screwy grin
you could be waiting for a tailor
to fit you with a straight jacket
one that would hold you really tight.

do I dare to eat this peach? or write about my real life?


If I am going to write a memoir of my actual life, instead of  limiting myself to happy or funny memories, I will have to write stories I can barely access.  I am going to write about my hesitations and anxieties in an effort to write my real story.

When I got divorced, I was, and this surprised me, concerned about being a divorced Catholic.  I had given up on Catholicism when I was in my teens. When I married a man who had also gone to Catholic school all his life, including his undergrad and MBA programs, I slid back into going to church and acting like a Catholic. 

I was very unhappy in that marriage. Church was surprisingly soothing. As a child attending mass a lot, I had never really connected spiritually. Going to Catholic school, having parents active in parish life, my Catholic world was cultural.  Irish Catholic cultural.

I was surprised, during my brief marriage in my late twenties, to find solace at Sunday mass.  My husband, who talked all the time about his Catholicism rarely went to mass. I soon reached the point where I never missed.

When we separated, I talked to my parish priest about becoming a divorced Catholic.  He gave me what is probably good advice.  He told me that a divorced Catholic had to wait a few years to file for an annulment. He suggested that I write my annulment petition then, as soon as I had separated.  He suggested writing it might be cathartic plus it would spare me from reliving the answers years later.

So I did start to write my annulment petition in the early weeks of my legal separation from my husband.  I wrote and wrote and wrote, answering each question I depth.

I was probably 20 pages into my annulment petition when I realized I was writing the fake version of our lives that my ex-husband and I had invented to cover times when we had gaps in employment or had been fighting ferociously.  We had so smoothly told fake versions of our shared life that I was smoothly writing it down for ‘the Vatican’. 

When I realized I wanted a divorce from my false narrative, I dropped the idea of annulment. And that was when I truly stopped being a Catholic.

There, you see, I just wrote another inaccurate piece of my past.

I did completely drop Catholicism from my heart and soul. I was raising a child, however.  When she and I were able to move away from Nebraska, returning to Minnesota where I had gone to law school and had friends, I felt I should give my child some kind of spiritual life.

When we first moved to Minnesota (first time for her, a return for me), we happened to live two blocks from a Catholic church with a spellbinding young Irish priest who gave great sermons. The church had great music. For the year or so we lived there, we went to mass every Sunday. After mass, we walked to a nearby café were Rosie always ordered a bottle of orangina, which she did not actually like to drink. She liked the round bulb of the bobble. It was expensive. Every Sunday I tried to cajole her out of that orangina, then cajole her into drinking it. She never budged.

One day in church, after the energetic young, visiting Irish priest had returned to Ireland, a priest said, in the middle of a hate-speech sermon, “If anyone in this church right now doesn’t believe that homosexuality is a sin, they should leave this church and never come back.”

Thank you, Father!

Rosie and I were seated in the third row, smack dab in the middle of that very long row.  We got up and crawled over a dozen or more right-thinking Catholics.

I relished the dramatic departure. Rosie was glad to get out of sitting still for mass.

That was when I gave up on Catholicism for good.

My baby brother and my best out of four brothers is gay.  I could not attend a church that considered my dollykins Dave a sinner.  Dave came into this world very effeminate. When he was five and I fifteen, I had a moment of awareness that Dave was one of those males I had heard whispers about. I didn’t have language for what I knew about my little brother but I knew:  he was ‘like that’, whatever that was.  After that, no one could tell me people choose to be queer. Dave was born gay.

Then my guiding star for finding a church, for I felt I had to give my child some kind of spiritual exposure apart from my own beliefs,  became finding a church that accepted homosexuals without judgment.  In the mid-eighties, this was not an easy quest.

For some time, Rosie and I went to a different church most Mondays, rejecting them.

I don’t want to write about my attempts to give my child some kind of spiritual foundation.  We ended up in Waldorf, which does not teach anthroposophy, of course, but which became our source for fellowship and community.  We did search for church for some years but left church behind as we grew in anthroposophy.

My point is that annulment petition, how I wrote a fake version of my life.

I veer away from my truths in not-quite-conscious ways. 

Maybe I am too intense. Or maybe I think about the truth of my life in a skewed way.

I don’t know if I will be able to write my real life story but I hope to try. Ever since it came to me that I live behind layer upon layer of white lies and hiding aspects of my being, I feel a tremble in my whole being.

Do I dare to write about aspects of my life I have never talked about with anyone, except for Jane, a psychotherapist I saw every Monday for ten years.  Jane might be the only person I have ever revealed myself honestly to. And that took years.

Jane once said, and she was the kind of therapist that almost never said anything, “I have a strong sense, Tree, that you are dancing on the table here, that you are not telling me about your real life, but the one you think is acceptable.”

Dancing on the table. She was right.

I have been dancing on the table all my life.  Can I stop now?  I trusted Jane as much as I have ever trusted anyone and I couldn’t stop dancing on the table for her. I wanted to but I couldn’t.

It hit me last night, powerfully, that I might be ready to stop dancing on the table.  And maybe, at age 61, it is too late to stop. Too late to be me.  I hope not.

I keep thinking of a quote from George Eliot:  “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

I note that I did not write what the true story of our marriage was here. That might be a start.

Something within me seems to want to come out.

One benefit of being dumped by my daughter and even my five siblings, who all live far from me ,and my parents gone is I am free to write my story. Own my story. Write whatever I want in anyway I like. As Annie Lamott has been quoted saying "If people wanted you to write nicer stories about them, they should have been nicer to you."

I am free from the constraint of relatives who might object to me writing my life story

my daily pancake

I checked out Berkeley's new Whole Foods recently.  It's hella long walk from my place. The old Whole Foods is not only half as far but more like a grocery store. The new place has an odd layout and even odder food choices. In my opinion.

One interesting new thing:  the paleo hot food take-out bar.  I don't try to follow a paleo diet but paleo usually means lower carbs. My diabetes necessitates rigorous carb control. So I turned to the paleo food bar in curiosity.

I bought a bunch of spicy green beans.  And added some marinated crimini mushrooms in the same box. The marinade was tart and sour, burying any mushroom flavor and seeping into my deliciously spicy green beans. Yuck.

Right now, before I head to my writers group, I am enjoying my favorite daily breakfast. I think it counts as paleo but I am not sure.

Mash two bananas, add cinnamon, two eggs, beat with stick blender and cook like a pancake. It is as much egg dish as banana dish but it is as close to pancake as I get these days. I have added ginger to this recipe and it tasted fine. I have also tried a dash of vanilla; also fine. I love a cinnamon-y pancake like breakfast.  Sometimes I add chia seeds, which does not change the flavor or texture.  I quite like the way chia seeds metabolize slowly and leave me feeling full.

On paleo, can you eat bananas?

I used to avoid most fruits, because of the carbs. I have learned fruits have healthier carbs than processed foods like most flours and all sugar and sugar substitutes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a bit of butter on toast: yum

The host of our writing group always puts out bread and butter for toast. Sometimes muffins. She also presents nuts and, sometimes, blends of trail mix with a few bits of chocolate.

I always bring my own snacks, everywhere I go. If I feel suddenly ravenous, I have learned, I need to eat. A one ounce bag of cashews, sold conveniently by the dozen at Trader Joe's, does the trick.

I have resisted buying glucose tablets for low blood sugar challenges.  I have not had many low blood sugar moments. I bring a piece of fruit to eat when I feel low blood sugar. I also test when I feel my glucose is dropping. I need data, urgently. A 70 reading is very different than a 30. A 30 is close to coma time.

Low blood sugar can happen overnight while sleeping and this is often when the type one diabetic slips into a coma.  My former endocrinologist wanted me to awaken at 2 a.m. each night to test for lows but that would keep me awake for hours. Plus I never tested low.

Diabetes changes all the time. Doctors don't tell you this. Doctors, in my experience, don't tell diabetics very much. And endocrinologists are weirdly, tightly focussed on certain lab tests and don't actually pay attention to the patient as a person.

Two weeks ago at my writers' group, an hour after Eric had offered to make toast for everyone. He made custom orders for each person but me because I don't do gluten, dairy (butter) or sugar (jam).

An hour or so into the writing, I suddenly felt my sugar plummet. Like a large stone dropped in a river.  I tested and there it was, the dread 32.

I got up and made myself toast. And, since I was eating wheat, reasoned I might as well butter that toast.   I miss hot buttered toast. I really miss it. Such a simple pleasure.

Eric, restless and hungry, I guess, came in and added a piece of toast for himself, expressing surprise that I was making some for myself. When I told him about my low blood sugar, he reminded me there was jam in the fridge.  I probably should have used some jam. Sugar will boost my glucose fast but probably not much faster than the highly processed white flour toast I was going to have. I was already looking forward to the hot buttery toast and already planning on a second slice. If I added jam, I would only have had one slice.

A purist? 

Two pieces of not-very-nutritious white bread toast with butter and my glucose was back up.

A persimmon would have done the job but I had slipped out without my fruit.  I always carry an apple and some cashews, depending on which way the sugar is moving. In persimmon season, I carry persimmons.

Those two pieces of hot buttered toast were so good.  They reminded me, however, that it is optimal to avoid highly processed carbohydrates. The more processed the carbs, the more I crave carbs. After such an indulgence, I crave junky carbs like more toast, donuts, even candy.

I have learned, to my happiness, that I can eat more fruit than I allowed myself for the ten years I was misdiagnosed. Fruit has healthy carbs. Fruit doesn't spark my glucose to dangerous levels the way highly processed carbs do.

But in a dangerously low blood sugar situation, processed carbs get the job done.

Gosh that buttered toast was tasty. And my blood sugar level snapped back into healthy range.

That buttered toast was so much more pleasurable than the most delicious fruit, probably because it was my first buttered toast in many years.


Not enough to condemn riots: Rev MLK.

"It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968

Monday, November 24, 2014

the greatest gift


chia seeds

I've been using chia seeds for about two years.  Now and then, I have a day without eating chia seeds and I really notice the difference.

Chia seeds are high in omega 3, providing enough Omega 3 in one ounce for a week. They are high in fiber and protein, too.

My favorite thing about chia seeds is how slowly the body metabolizes them, leaving me feeling sated for a couple more hours than a meal without them.

I put them in my grain-free breakfast muffins. I put them in my heavenly banana-egg-cinnamon-chia seed pancakes (almost no carbs! good for my glucose).

Eating chia seeds helps me need less insulin. Insulin is a tricky medicine. I need it to live, since as a Type I Diabetic, my pancreas is shutting down its ability to make insulin. Yet taking insulin tends to make it very hard to lose weight, a major goal of mine. I continue to steadily lose but it is a lot harder with all the insulin. Chia seeds help me eat less, eat less carbs and, happily, need less insulin.

My chia seed supply is low. I have to reorder but have to wait until the first. I am completely out of money until December first. No turkey dinner buffet from Whole Foods for me this year.  For years, I have gone to WF the day before Thanksgiving to buy a plate of traditional Thanksgiving, and also for Christmas, meal. Not this week! Perhaps it is just as well for I would surely have taken a scoop of stuffing -- carbs, carbs, carbs.

My organic baker pal said to me, yesterday (she lives in Santa Cruz), "Even if you don't have a family, you should be able to find a family of friends to have holiday meals with."

"I know, you'd think so. But I have spent all holidays alone since my daughter left me. I used to ask friends to invite me. People who do family things don't seem very comfortable including an Elisiah or two in their family meals."

Then she said "But many people have gatherings of friends, take in friends who would be alone. Seems to me Berkeley would be a great place for such hospitality."

"I think it is but something about me blocks me."  I didn't go into my sorrow. 

I deliberately kept my head down and did my best to ignore the holiday season, which I took to calling the holiday hellhole when 'Rosie left me. I haven't used the phrase holiday hellhole for a couple years. That's some improvement, altho in recent weeks, with holiday jingles feeling more assaultive than usual, I have heard myself thinking "Hunker down, babe, and keep to yourself, avoid the hell of the holiday hellhole."  The hole is no daughter.

One thing I really hate:  when a friend brings up the holidays, maybe just to say "Happy Thanksgiving" my heart uncontrollably leaps with hope, thinking  maybe they are going to ask me what I am doing and when they hear I will be alone, they'll invite me". I fell for that leap of hope for years. Now I hate it when friends mention 'the holidays'.

I don't celebrate 'the holidays'. I stay home alone, eating a raw green smoothie with chia seeds this year.

At least I have chia seeds. Actually I have plenty of food in the house. Wild salmon, squash. For some reason, I bought two butternut squashes yesterday. Visions of a curried swuash soup danced in my head. If I keep feeling better, I might actually make that soup. Otherwise, I'll just bake the squash.

rambling, eh?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

peanut butter. v. Marmite

Marmite is a yeast paste commonly used on one's breakfast toast in the UK and, for all I know, on other things. I have eaten Marmite and its Austrailian equivalent, Vegemite, a few times. It is, as my mom often said to encourage her children to eat new foods, an acquired taste. It is a taste I never acquired.

One my daughter's Waldorf School has a prominent Anthroposophical teacher and speaker come to town. Several leaders of the school community, which included me as a board member, attended a dinner at one board member's home to honor him.

Over that dinner table, the topic of Marmite came up. The visitor was from UK. And he put us all in our place.

After several Americans had weighed in on the peculiarity of Marmite, he announced, in his stensorial, professorial tone, "For most Brits, peanut butter is intolerable. Peanut butter is disgusting. Can you explain to me why Americans love peanut butter?"

Touche.

We didn't get Marmite. He didn't get peanut butter.

Peanuts, by the way, are not a nut. They are a legume, wrongly considered a nut by most. Pinto beans, navy beans, black beans. These are legumes, not nuts.

Peanut butter is an odd food.

So is Marmite, eh?

Rapids by A. R. Ammons

Rapids
by A. R. Ammons


Original Language English

Fall's leaves are redder than
spring's flowers, have no pollen,
and also sometimes fly, as the wind
schools them out or down in shoals
or droves: though I
have not been here long, I can
look up at the sky at night and tell
how things are likely to go for
the next hundred million years:
the universe will probably not find
a way to vanish nor I
in all that time reappear.



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lucky: happiness feels like this


We don't even have to pretend
We know what it is
That we are looking for

Life is just a dream
Lucky you
Lucky me
Life is just a dream
Lucky you
Lucky lucky me

Listen to this song and feel happy, as I do when I listen to it.

More lyrics from this song:

There is a Place in Time and Space that WE can ALL BE FREE!  

Friday, November 21, 2014

paintings of women with holes in them

In the late eighties, I ran an intensive training business, training in inner capacity development. Very intense five day trainings.  We offered them one month in Minneapolis, then one month in Baltimore. My former biz partner lived in Baltimore when we joined forces. When I had built up the business in Minneapolis, she basically just took it from me. Old wound. Stop here.

Anyway, I occasionally helped run the intensives in Baltimore. I got to know the base of our Baltimore clientele. There was a woman named Gina who was an artist, a painter.  I went to her studio once. All her paintings were paintings of women and every woman she painted had a hole in her. Just a hole someone, mainly in the torso, that was nothing but air all the way through. When gazing upon her paintings, the holes seemed perfect.  I came away thinking "These paintings are perfect because every woman has holes in her."

And anthroposophists believe that when a woman has a child, the birth tears a hole in her etheric being. Imagine having eight full term pregnancies, as my mom did. Or fourteen, as my great grandmother did. Yikes.

I thought Gina's paintings made a profound statement about women. I don't think she was thinking about etheric holes. She was a artist. She likely worked from a vibration, an energy. If one asked, and people did, why all her women had holes in them, she would shrug and shake her head to indicate she didn't know. I felt like I 'knew', knew viscerally:  maybe all women don't have holes in them but I have a huge hole in me. I am terrified it will never be healed, or closed, or compensated for. Maybe I'm depressed, although I am taking an antidepressant but my hole, my wound, is wearing on me. Hopefully it's just because I am so sick and not healing quickly but I know myself. This is my hole, the kind of hole Gina painted in all her women.

as plants renew themselves from spring to spring

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

I think I have posted this before. An old friend just reposted it, from my blog, on FB so I read it again.  I love the reminder that 'as plants renew themselves from spring to spring', so must we humans.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

don't apologize for being sensitive


reminder: be gentle to myself






Day 4 mostly spent in bed recovering from intense rear flank pain and a serious kidney infection. . .. I am feeling better very gradually. I ignored my symptoms for weeks. And I can't wait until my flank pain is gone.  I am eating probiotics because I know the antibiotics kill all the good bacteria in my intestinal tract. I dragged myself to a store yesterday to get some probiotic foods.

And I am being gentle to myself.

the joyful cry "I am!"


This photo is from the FB page of David Ah-Zen. I love this image and this saying. How about you?

from "Black Elk Speaks"

The first book I was assigned to read for college was during a week-long freshman studies orientation. That first book was Black Elk Speaks. I loved the book and loved the class discussions of it.

"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
~ Black Elk ~

Indigenous cultures were way ahead of the curve of our capitalist/dominator culture. They recognized the sacredness in all and had deep reverence for their relationship with nature. They believed that if humans develop their inner capacities in harmony with nature, they could inhabit the bell of being and wisely choose how to live.

Rudolf Steiner also espoused views similar to indigenous culture's harmony with nature as guiding spirit.  He referred to nature, more or less, as the supersensible and nonmaterial realms that most westernized humans ignore.

I choose compassion

Don Miguel Ruiz states, “People can only love you at the capacity that they are able to love themselves.  They can only forgive and embrace at the capacity that they are able to forgive and embrace themselves. They can only give what they have the capacity to give.”
and I say. . .

I forgive myself but I take ownership in the choices I've made. I forgive others in my life and choose to have compassion for where they are on their karmic path. 

The Pied Piper of Delusive Greed

Racism, we are increasingly seeing, appears to be integral to the drive for greed. Yesterday I was an incomprehensibly true story about the State of CA disregarding a federal judge's order to reduce population in CA's overcrowded prisons, arguing that the state would lose billions if it lost its $2/hour labor, esp. for firefighting. Such an argument, of course, ignored the huge cost to house and guard these prisoners so the state of CA is not really paying $2 an hour for this cheap labor. I note that nonviolent offenders are supposed to be released. The state uses such nonviolent offenders who committed relatively minor crimes for their cheap work force because they are nonviolent and 'good' prisoners, exactly the kind a federal judge has ordered released.

It's slavery. But the above story is just one story among an endless string of horrific stories. A few investment banks created the housing inflation and attendant mortgage inflation problem knowing the market would crash. Their plan was to make money on the inflationary rise and on the depression-like crash, radically altering the lives and financial stability of millions of Americans. Pied Pipers, those investment bankers. They lead millions to their financial doom and the bankers made millions and billions.

So what did this allegedly great country do? It bailed out the bankers and let millions of Americans fall.

Capitalism, or maybe money, is a Pied Piper. The Pied Pieper of delusive greed.

It is delusive to believe 'life' will be better if the greedy get rich. Or richer. It is delusive to believe money is the center of life. The way we do money now is not just delusional, it is downright insane. We allow greedy, grasping capitalists to rape the earth and allow some humans  to rape not just the equity in homes but the very labor of some humans brow. It has been widely known for years that restaurants engage in wage theft yet 'we' have allowed it to continue. It has been widely known for years that fast food workers are forced to work off the clock, often fail to receive overtime when forced to work overtime. This is New Millenium slavery.

It's the Pied Piper of money.  It's hard to conceive of life without money because it is hard to see what one has never known.  I believe humans could thrive without money. We could create a culture along the lines of Rudolf Steiner's Threefold Social Order and establish clearly that the economic realm of a healthy social order exists solely to support the social (schools, roads, power, water, parks, etc) and artistic (creativity, spirit, love).

We could make this shift but it would be very hard. The folks gobbling up our commons, Mother Earth, and greedily stealing wages from some of the lowest paid workers, will resist.

So what to do?  I don't believe war is the answer. I actually believe what is needed is happening, but, like all evolutionary emergence, change is slow, even glacial. We gradually develop a culture in which the economic realm exists in perfect equipoise with the social and artistic realms. We make the economic realm smaller and no more powerful than the citizenry.

How? And can we do it or is the earth too damaged to recover from all we have allowed to be done to it?

The Pied Piper of Hamelin/Capitalism

I just did a google of the Pied Piper.  As a child, living in a very Irish world, I learned this story with an Irish twist. It was told to me that the Pied Piper was hired to drive snakes out of Ireland, for an agreed-upon fee. He freed Ireland of snakes but the people refused to pay him. So next he lead all the children out of Ireland.

According to most google resources (not precise research, I know), most consider the Pied Piper to be from German myth and/or history. There is some historical evidence that the German town of Hamelin did hire the Pied Piper to rid the town or rats, which he did. Then the town reneged on their agreed-upon payment so the Pied Piper took the children.

Where did the children go? In the version I heard as a child, the Pied Piper lead the snakes out of Ireland. I was also told St. Patrick lead the snakes out of Ireland. Go figure. He lead the snakes off a cliff where they all dropped into the sea below. And, whether I was told this or not, as a child I believed he lead all the children to the same cliff, like lemmings, I guess, and they also fell into the sea.  I recall feeling sharp pain as I imagined hordes of children happily following the musician and then falling to their deaths.

I think contemporary human culture, with some rare exceptions, is being lead to self destruction by the Pied Piper of capitalism.

I was also told that St. Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland. As an intelligent child, I spent some time puzzling out these stories. Raised in a devoutly Catholic family and community, I did not question the great St. Patrick's ability. I wondered why the story came at me as a fairy tale (Pied Piper) and as the work of the patron saint of Ireland.  I still wonder.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

my high school English teacher did not know Kafka

My sophomore, high school English teacher gave our class only a couple 'creative' writing assignments. I didn't go to a great high school. Each year, I took English, of course, four years of English was expected to get into college. Each year, we'd have just a few token writing assignments. Perfunctory assignments, as if each English teacher had been told they had to teach writing and not just talk about novels. Oh, no poetry in my h.s. education. None. We did read a play each year. My sophomore year, we read aloud, The Merchant of Venice. I read the role of Shylock and felt embarassed to have that role. That was my entire h.s. exposure to Shakespeare. Gosh, by the time my daughter finished grade school at her Waldorf School, she had memorized a couple Shakespeare plays by performing in them and read many of them.

Like I said, I did not go to a h.s. with high academic standards. Most of the girls I knew went to college but few of them seriously expected to finish college. College was what good girls did until they landed the husband.  No kidding.  My h.s. best friend doubted she would continue in college past her freshman year.  I lost touch with her and don't know if she graduated from college.

Anyway. Sophomore English. We were given the assignment of describing our bedrooms right after I had read, for recreational reading, Kafka's Metamorphosis. As anyone who has read that book nows, in Metamorphosis, the protagonist is suddenly turned into a cockroach and copes with the ensuing existential angst of being a cockroach and fearing getting stepped on. At least that is what I remember. I only read the book once when I was 14 or 15, so it was long ago.

When she announced the assignment to describe our bedrooms, the teacher, who had struck me as one of the sharper tacks in the dull faculty at our h.s., spoke enthusiastically of creativity, urging us to be as creative as possible in describing our bedrooms.

With Kafka's cockroach on my mind, I decided to describe my bedroom from the perspective of an ant walking all over the things in my room.

My English teacher could make no sense of my bedroom description. I had worked on it.  One had to think to get what I wrote. I did not announce "I am going to describe my bedroom from the perspective of an ant."  I tried, seriously, to imitate Kafka and simply write from an ant's perspective with no further explanation regarding why an ant's walk  through my room was how I chose to creatively describe my bedroom.

I got a 'D' and the teacher told me I deserved an 'F' but she didn't want to mess my college options. Fuck her. I didn't think fuck her back then. Back then, I was ashamed. Back then, I actually assumed the teacher had understood I had been trying to imitate Kafka. I credited her with knowing much more about literature than she did.  It was only much later, like ten years ago, that I thought of that ant paper and realized "Duh, the teacher had no idea about Kafka's cockroach."

Sure I might not have done a good job imitating Kafka but anyone familiar with the Metamorphosis would have realized what I was trying to do.

I got no points for creativity.  I had believed her when she urged me to be creative.

Lesson learned. I never tried again to be creative in an English class assignment. I did write some poems my senior year that were so good my then-English teacher was shocked and did not hide her great surprise that I had written such nice poems.   One of my poems was so good that many girlfriends asked if they could give it to their boyfriends.

forgiveness is revolutionary stance

"Forgiveness is the most revolutionary stance. It opens up the future by letting go the past." ~ Marianne Williamson

it's not mindfulness without kindfulness

If you think mindfulness is just about neutral noticing and non-judgement, then something important is missing, says Ed Halliwell of minddful.org.

“The awareness and approach to life that arises from paying attention on purpose, fully present, with curiosity and compassion." This is a small shift from the most common modern definition of mindfulness, which describes the practice as ‘non-judgmental.'

Mindfulness is just not neutral noticing. There are a clear set of attitudes which underpin the practice, and compassion may be the most important. Mindfulness just isn’t mindfulness without kindfulness. From the very first time we’re invited to come back to attention, we’re reminded to do this gently. Without this emphasis on friendliness, we set ourselves up for an internal battle, making struggle and stress as we try to force focus. Many people do get frustrated when they notice attention wandering, and it’s a key learning when they realize this noticing itself is mindfulness, and that it brings a chance to express care, understanding, patience, and love.
As we train in these attitudes over and over, it begins to affect more than just our relationship with ourselves. As we cultivate the habit of being gentle, loving-kindness percolates outwards. Most practitioners find over time that they’re gentler with others around them, less reactive, less automatically hostile. This makes sense of course—the mind that relates to internal experience also connects to the external world, in which we live and work with others.
This is why I believe that mindfulness—taught and practised properly—is its own self-protection from misuse. As long as we commit ourselves to an ongoing practice of noticing what’s happening with curiosity and friendliness, awareness and compassion tend to follow. Whether taught and practised in friendly environments, or hostile ones in which the prevailing culture is grasping or aggressive, true mindfulness will lead to an increase in kindness, the basis for ethical action.
The key, of course, is reminding ourselves and others that mindfulness is more than just neutral attention training. That’s why I think having clear definitions are important—if mindfulness loses its kindfulness, then we really are lost.

I chunked down (edited) some of what he wrote. Now I am giggling. No one overwrites more than me and here I am, editing a stranger, chunking down his work.

eres de pinga

In some idiomatic Spanish, 'eres de pinga' means 'you are amazing'.  My first lover was a Mexican college student named Fernando.  Fernando was George Clooney handsome. I have never slept with a more handsome man. We weren't in love. We were in lust.  But I was besieged by Mexican college boys who thought all gringas had lots of casual sex. I chose Fernando as my first lover because he had said 'eres de pinga'.  He had to translate it for me and his translation was slightly more elaborate than 'you are amazing'. He probably was wooing me to have sex with me but every guy I talked to in Mexico did that. He just was the most charming and clever.

I am a sucker for charm. And 'ese tipo', this guy, really was as handsome as men get.  He told me being 'de pinga' meant I had fairy-like qualities, that I gave off a magical aura. Good looking, charming, yes, indeed, I chose him for my first lover.

I liked that. So after months of hoping to lose my virginity and besieged by male college boys constantly, I chose Fernando for his charm. His awesome good looks didn't hurt.

Being a sweetie, Fernando introduced me to Oscar, and asked Oscar to drive me to Mexico City for my slight home at the end of the semester.  Oscar, I fell for. He asked me, before we even got to Mexico City from Guanajuato, Gto, to postpone my flight. He said he was on Christmas vacation from school, his parents didn't expect him home for a week and he really liked me.  Oscar was not George Clooney good-looking. He was smart and he wooed me with some really charming choices.

My first night with him in Mexico City, he took me to Denny's, imagining I would love eating American food after being in Mexico so long. I had never been to a Denny's, not ever, because I considered it bad food. I politely ate at that Denny's and did not tell Oscar it was not representative of food I would choose to eat. Then, after that meal, he did something that persuaded me to change my flight, piss off my dad who was expecting me home the next day -- dad needed childcare because our youngest siblings were visiting dad for Christmas. The kids were little and dad had to work. He had been counting on my long Christmas break for childcare.

On the way home from that Denny's, Oscar saw a young mother with a small child in a car with a flat tire. It was on a huge road in Mexico City, like ten or twelve lanes. It was very late. Oscar said no tow truck help would come that late so he would stop and help her. He changed her tire. Then when he got in the car, he said it was wholly unlike him to do something like that, to help a stranger on a dark highway at night. He said he did it to impress me.

Let's just say it did.

At first, U resisted having sex with Oscar. I explained that I had had sex for the first time with Fernando and I didn't think it right to have sex again with someone else, not so fast. Oscar asked me if I expected to see Fernando ever again. No, I answered truthfully. Then he asked me, "Do you think you will ever have sex again?" and I had to answer truthfully again. Of course I would have sex again.  "So why not me?" he asked.

I had been with Fernando for months, with Oscar for that one week. Oscar and I corresponded for two years. Fernando wrote to me once or twice.






Monday, November 17, 2014

soft heart takes courage


my favorite Emily poem on pain

Poem by Emily Dickinson

There is a pain—so utter—
It swallows being up—
Then covers the abyss with trance—
So memory can step
Around—across—upon it—
As one within a swoon—
Goes safely—where an open eye—
Would drop him—bone by bone.

another Emily pain poem

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.

Part One: Life

XIX

PAIN has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
  
It has no future but itself,        5
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.

Emily Dickinson on Pain, #372


P-A-I-N

Yesterday in the ER, I was given a morphine drip for an hour or so. All morphine long since warn off.

Yikes, I am experiencing intense physical pain. Sometimes when I move without thinking, I am literally felled by the pain. I might go to get up from a chair without tenderly tending to my left rear flank and the pain is so intense I can't get up, can't force myself to just push through the pain. I stop rising, gather myself and get up more carefully. Sometimes I feel fine taking one or two steps and then kaboom! the pain comes on so intensely that I almost crumble to the floor.

I try to power through the pain and keep moving. I have been ignoring this pain for weeks. It finally started knocking me down, literally knocking me down, on Saturday.

In 2006, I went to the ER and ended up in the hospital, including 3 days in ICU, for a whole week. After that, I vowed I would never, ever go to an ER, or a hospital stay, without a computer or, now, an iPad. Thank goddess I took my iPad yesterday. The hospital had free wifi and I could surf, post goofy comments on my blog (since removed) and I could read read read. I remembered I have several books on my iPad and I got deep into one of them.

This morning I got a script filled for hydrocodone. I didn't take one right away. I resist taking pain killers and most meds. I have to use insulin but I don't have to take statins, blood pressure med or other drugs doctors try to foist on me.  I have acquired some serious health issues because I took meds mindlessly, following doctor's orders, for years. No more.  I have raised my good cholesterol and lowered my bad one through diet and exercise. I have not had high blood pressure in years, since I started eating well and exercising daily.

I was resolved to not use the hydrocodone. I lasted until about 2 p.m. when suddenly I felt an intense, knock-me-over wave of pain. The hydrocodone does not do what morphine does.

I was on fentanyl, which is a synthetic morphine that is more powerful and more addictive than morphine, for years. My doc would still have me on it if I wanted it. I admit I've been wishing I had some fentanyl patches right now but, over all, I don't want to use those patches for the rest of my life. I am proud that I had my doctor wean me off the fentanyl, truly, but right now I would love to have some.

I can deal with stiff knees that sometimes, most of the time, hurt without synthetic morphine.  If I were to have this flank pain for a long time, I can see how someone might crave morphine.

Drug and alcohol dependency run in my gene pool. I have an almost morbid dread of being addicted to any medicine.

I regret that I broke down and took a hydrocodone. She only gave me 10 pills, so little danger of addiction. Gosh, I hope the antibiotics dull the pain.

The pain might not be an infection. The ER doc said the radiologist saw what may or may not be kidney damage. That likely means a trip to a nephrologist. 

Gosh, the pain I am experiencing is intense.

And, gosh, I put up with a couple weeks of pain, ignoring the pain because I believed it was creeping arthritis pain, or standard aging. I got to the point where I could barely walk.

And still no one to bring me a cup of tea at my bedside.

Once my daughter stayed home with some kind of bug from h.s.  Her friends chided her when she returned, saying "What do you get at home that you can't get her?   You can lounge around all day, the cafeteria has a great range of food and we're here." She said "I stay home when I am sick because my mom brings me cups of tea."

Nobody has ever brought me a cup of tea when sick, certainly not my not-maternal mother.

I heretoforth shall measure the success of my life by whether or not someone enters my life who offers to bring me cups of tea when I am sick and, getting wildly dreamy, this person might offer me easy to digest food, all brought to my dramatic bed side. Maybe a bed tray will be involved, but it is not required.

Right now I want a cup of chicken soup. Ooh, some egg drop soup from a Chinese place:  very mild but so soothing.

Only magic will bring such bounty to me.

The hydrocodone doesn't mask my pain anywhere close to that morphine. I see why morphine is highly addictive. To feel nothing and sleep soundly while in pain:  dreamy and desired experience.

Running on. I don't feel well enough to do anything but stay in bed so I write drippy posts and emails.

exuberate: James Broughton


I never lose . . . like this concept


Sunday, November 16, 2014

each has their own pace

I have been struggling for about a year with a loss that I have only recently accepted. I thought acceptance would soften my grief. Acceptance has sharpened it. I hope this sharpening sadness is a kind of cleansing, readying my heart to expand anew.

I feel open, happy, hopeful and, well, new. I am so different than I was a year ago. How did such big change unfold when I thought nothing was happening?

I am sick, which is a drag. I have been sick for several weeks. I tend to frame all health related body experiences to my diabetes but other stuff goes on. I forget that I can feel very sick and it's not about diabetes.  I've been sick all year.

I imagine everyone who has been chronically ill for what stretches as if its forever is surprised that they go on feeling sick, and feeling sick on and on.

I work hard at my health. I exercise quite a lot. I kept on exercising when I got sick for a couple weeks. It's only in the last couple days I stopped willing myself to keep exercising and I gave in to being sick.

I sometimes have a lucid dream, a dream that flashes through my thoughts like a movie but which happens in only a few seconds. Inside the dream, the unfolding story can seem long and spacious but when it ends, only a few moments of 'physical plane' time has passed.  A recurring lucid dream is one in which I am paralyzed, my body like running sand. I try and try to hold myself together so I can take a step or move a hand but the sand slithers away. It is an awful feeling dream.  I feel helpless and often morph into hopeless feeling also.

This battle I am facing with being sick much of the time feels like that dream. No matter what I do, nothing helps.

I imagine anyone who has dealt with cancer, especially advanced ones or particularly lethal ones, feels this way. I tell myself I am not entitled to my thoughts

this is gobbledegook, isn't it? Codeine, morphine and, tomorrow, generic oxycontin.  Who'da thunk.

Memories

In 2006, I had many blood clots in my lungs.  The lung x-Ray looked like polka dots. To save my life they put me on an intense med intended to thin my blood so much that it would begin to melt the clots.  This drug made me very vulnerable, thus the close care of ICU.  ICU nurses have love and equanimity.  Those nurses cared more about me than I did.  In that heavily drugged state, I had a very powerful experience.  A voice-my goddess self?-told me if I wanted to live, I needed to start loving myself.  The voice said "these nurses love you more than you love you".  I started loving myself more right away.

I stopped writing this post earlier because Jaden, my adorable male nurse, had come in and said I could go home.

Boring posts about my ER but this is my personal blog and I can be dopey if I wanna.

Let's be honest. I am dopey often, it is one of my charms.

I am also very funny but very tired. And very sick.

I'm tired of being sick and it aint over.  But I am home in my own bed, always a healing balm after an ER trip, eh?

in each of us

This from Spirit Science's Facebook page. They do not attribute the artist.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

tenderness in me grows

I am becoming softer, kinder, more empathy and compassionate. I guess I could say that I think I was always soft, kind, empathic and compassionate for for long stretches, I have felt a need to protectively hide these traits with gruff, blunt demeanor.  I get hurt more, it seems, when abusive type personalities sense my vulnerability. And I tend to be attracted to abusive men, emotionally abusive men.

Free of any abusive relationships these days and growing more and more adept at politely asserting what I need and even what I want, things get smoother and happier.

I am happy.

Silence by Billy Collins

Silence

Beautiful Romantic Love
Now it is time to say what you have to say.
The room is quiet.
The whirring fan has been unplugged,
and the girl who was tapping
a pencil on her desktop has been removed.
So tell us what is on your mind.
We want to hear the sound of your foliage,
the unraveling of your tool kit,
your songs of loneliness,
your songs of hurt.
The trains are motionless on the tracks,
the ships are at restn the harbor.
The dogs are cocking their heads
and the gods are peering down from their balloons.
The town is hushed,
and everyone here has a copy.
So tell us about your parents—
your father behind the steering wheel,
your cruel mother at the sink.
Let's hear about all the clouds you saw, all the trees.
Read the poem you brought with you tonight.
The ocean has stopped sloshing around,
and even Beethoven
is sitting up in his deathbed,
his cold hearing horn inserted in one ear.

this is it by james broughton

This Is It

This is It
and I am It
and You are It
and so is That
and He is It
and She is It
and It is It
and That is That
O it is This
and it is Thus
and it is Them
and it is Us
and it is Now
and Here It is
and Here We are
so This is It

This Is It #2

This is It
This is really It.
This is all there is.
And it’s perfect as It is.

There is nowhere to go
but Here.
There is nothing here
but Now.
There is nothing now
but This.

And this is It.
This is really It.
This is all there is.
And It’s perfect as It is.




Thursday, November 13, 2014

I wish life had a pause button

I guess people who can afford vacations take pauses in life through vacations. I can't afford to go anywhere. I used to camp at least a few times every year. I even bought a tent last year. Without a car, it is hard to go camping and renting a car is an economic stretch.

I wish I could just stop thinking and feeling for awhile.  I wish I could take a vacation from being me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

heteronormative is dominator culture, not normal

I attended a weekend training lead by a delightful man who happens to be gay. I had not met this man in person until I got to the workshop venue (right on the ocean . . I still hear the ocean as if it were coming from the Berkeley hills outside my window) and as soon as I saw him, I knew he was gay.

Now gays, or, as one of the other facilitators, a lesbian, prefers to be called, queers, are not unfamiliar to me. My best and my baby brother is gay. When I was 15 and he was five, I suddenly knew he was one of those males I had heard whispered about in my conservative, Catholic world. I had no language for what my brother was but this INFJ suddenly knew "My dolly David is one of those". I didn't exactly know what 'one of those' was but Dave was one. And he most definitely was and is queer.  And still my dolly Dave.

As I entered adult life, having left Catholicism well behind me, I searched for a church that didn't merely tolerate homosexuals but embraced them. Dave was a primary male in my daughter's life and I wished to raise her free of heteronormative conditioning. I didn't ever want her to think there was anything wrong with our dolly, delightful David. And I found a church that we attended until Rosie was in the fifth grade. After a few weeks into fifth grade, she came out of Sunday school and announced "I am done with church"  "Fair enough," I said, for I had stopped going some time prior but was dropping her off, going out for coffee and picking her up. I had had such an intensely religious childhood that I felt, a bit inchoately, that I had to give Rosie some sort of church but I was only exposing her.  I loved it that she felt free enough to say "I'm done" and I love it that I equaniously accepted her decision.  I had done my duty.

There were lots of gays at that church and lots of non-gays. All very liberal people and not all that much piety. The church I chose to expose Rosie to someting besides my own beliefs was nothing like the rigid, hierarchical Catholicism I had grown up in. Plus it had awesome music.  And then we were done, but by then, we were both immersed in Waldorf, which is not at all religious but Waldorf pedagogy is deeply connected to spirit and reverence for all of life and the cosnos -- even better than church, at least for us.  I wonder what she thinks of Wally World and Anthroposophy these days, eh?  Who knows?!

When she was five or six, I chose as my best friend a grossly,morbidly obese dyke as my best friend. This woman was about five feet five and weighed almost 500 pounds. I know her weight because I once took her for a doctor appointment. When the nurse weighed her, I glanced away so I would not see her weight, give her that privacy but I truly inadvertently saw the scale read 480.  She has since had bariatric surgery and is more normal. She had a loving, smoking hot life partner back then. And Rosie and my social life revolved around those two gay women and all their brilliant queer friends, mostly women.

During those years, most who knew me believed I was lesbian. I was celibate and ignored men so I let everyone believe I was gay. Truth be told, I wanted to be a lesbian. I loved that social circle of brilliant women who were all a bit older than me and most of those brilliant women had been out since they left home for college. Think about that a moment:  out lesbians at Harvard in the sixties. It took a lot of inner power to be out at such a young age before the gay rights movement really got going.

I wanted to be a lesbian. I surrounded my child with lesbians and gay men.  Raising her to not assume heteronormative was the norm was important to me. And she did me proud, having some love affairs with girls as soon as she left home for college at age sixteen (I believe, but do not know, she is with a male these days.). As Rosie said to me, back when she came out to me at age sixteen, "Mom, you are so old fashioned. You don't fall in love with a gender, you fall in love with people."  It was a tad unfair of her to even lightly chide me for being unhip about queerness because of all the diversity I had exposed her to.

And I have not yet told you about the deformed dwarf Cheryl who was her babysitter for a few years or the gay friend Craig who sometimes picked her up from day care when I couldn't.

From the moment Rosie told me "I'm here I'm queer, get over it", I stopped making gender assumptions about anyone. I was living in co-housing at the time and spoke of my newly 'out' daughter* at one of our community meals. Many of the parents thanked me and said they would not assume their children were heterosexual, thanks for my openness and, indirectly, Rosie's.

Heterosexuals don't go around announcing "I am a heterosexual" yet many hets expect queers to announce they are gay.

At the weekend training I just completed, one man in the group who I think is straight but he never said so, voiced disappointment that the workshop organizer had not told him he, the leader, was gay.  I asked that straight man "Do you announce your gender identity everytime you join a new group?"  He didn't exactly answer but of course he doesn't.

I never assume gender identity, not anymore.  I have known women who used to be men and underwent the chop (as one such woman put it to me).  I have known so many male-ish lesbians back when trans-man was not in this culture's vocabulary,  I've known very bullish bull dykes who proudly claimed to be bull dykes and I have been yelled at by other more feminine lesbians for calling any lesbians dykes. But some of them call themselves dykes and, at least my dyke friends, let me refer to them as dykes. I would never refer to a woman as a dyke unless she had cleared that framework as part of her identify.

I've known men who pass as female who didn't have sex change surgery. I know a man who started life as a girl and had his sex change surgery at age 19, with his parents support.

I welcome the gay rights movement because like all rights movements, it frees everyone, not just the fighting class.

Heteronormative is so old fashioned.  I can practically hear my sixteen year old daughter scorning at people who make heteronormative assumptions when they meet people, assuming all are gay.

For someone my age and from the era in which I grew up, I think I am very cool about gender. I think my kid was wrong to sneer at me and tell me I didn't get gender identity. I think she learned to think openly about her own gender identity largely because of me and my dollykins David.

A heteronormative dominator culture suppresses all women of any gender identity and all men of any gender identity. Many alpha males don't get this but that does not make it less true. And I guess lots of straight women don't get this and live contentedly in the dominator culture.  I don't live there. I don't want to. Do you?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

stand in the fire with me

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.
By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

Monday, November 10, 2014

the bliss of with by james broughton

The Bliss of With
You have come to me out of antiquities
We have loved one another for generations
We have loved one another for centuries

You teach me to trust the voice of my voices
You teach me to believe my own believings
You touch the palpability of my possibilities

Together we reflect what our mirrors conceal
Together we upgrade the sun in our meridians
We remain open night and day to transcendence

You are incompletely disguised as a mortal
You are the eternal stranger I have always known
I saw your wings this morning
I saw your wings this morning


my favorite moment in tgroup this past weekend

We did something new to me and the facilitators have only done it once before.  Each tgroup sat in a circle with the other group surrounding us while we did our tgroup in front of them. Then the other group gave us feedback.

One young woman's feedback for me still has my heart singing.  She said "It seemed like Tree felt she could do whatever she wanted and everything she did seemed to help and please the whole group."

I tend to feel free to do whatever I want in all my life. I live in Open Space.

Open Space Technology was first identified by Harrison Owen but Harrison is the first person to declaim credit. He simply identified the way the world works when free of constraints.

In open space there are a few guidelines.

  1. whoever shows up are the right people
  2. when it starts it starts
  3. when it stops it stops
  4. whatever happens is the only thing that could or should
There is only one law in Open Space: the law of two feet. If you find yourself in an experience, or, at a conference, in a session that does not engage you, if you don't feel you are either contributing or getting something out of it, walk away. Go to where you feel drawn. Life works like this. We all live in Open Space if we just free ourselves into Open  Space.

I am free. I live in Open Space. I do tend to feel free, except in abusive relationships when I am attacked (usually by men), mostly because I feel free to say what I am really thinking and many men seem to think women should tamp themselves down. Fuck that.

I am proud that one young therapist in training saw how free I felt and saw that what I said in my fishbowl tgroup was warmly appreciated by my group.

I did feel free. It would never occur to me that I am not free to say what I wish. Sure sometimes I get negative reactions to my 'free', often blunt, often direct open speaking. Those people locked themselves in closed space. I won't own others' failure to be free and self loving.

I am not used to feeling warmly appreciated by men.

love is a mystical force

I just went to a 3.5 day training. It was a t-group.  A t-group is, mostly but not entirely, about love. More boringly, it is about learning how to communicate more effectively, to ask for your needs, to believe that you are entitled to have your needs met.

I don't really like the t-group model. I went from personal curiosity. I was trained in tgroup by an NTL tgroup facilitator trainer, a world reknown consultant but a former friend sees himself as a tgroup professional par excellance and he put me down for not 'getting' tgroup. I've been curious to see if how tgroup is done in California were meaningfully different. It is not.

I get tgroup.

Lots of folks fake in tgroup. Our group talked about that. One of the benefits, hopefully, one gets from tgroup is to stop faking. Or fake less, to show up more authentically and more lovingly.

Interesting weekend. T-group is not my thing. I rejected it fourteen years ago as a component of my work life. I used to facilitated far more awesome training groups. And I am hoping to get back to that work.

But not tgroup.

Most in the weekend group, with two different tgroups, were all eager to come back for a longer five day tgroup.

Me?  I was screaming silently to get the heck out of there after less than 24 hours. Not having a car, I was dependent on my ride home.  All that head stuff just doesn't mean much to me. The love part I got.

I loved everybody. I was in a group with more men than women and it was a great joy to find myself loving each of the very different men.

There was a young, fiery, feminist lesbian who kicked off the first tgroup session by rushing to protect me when a rich, entitled, elitist white male jumped on me.  He turned out to be rich, entitled, elitist but also loving, deeply full of feeling and he worked so hard to show up with feelings instead of talking at folks. I am proud of him. He and I became  friends. There was a process where we had to pair up with a partner and I ended up paired with him.  We were also the geezers of our group, the only sixty-somethings, with most being twenty, thirty and forty something.

At one point, the group pushed me to share my heartache, which they all sensed -- the loss of my daughter. It seemed cathartic for the group. They seemed to think I had made some big leap but I don't really hold back who I am in any situation. I try to only talk about my sadness in moderation so as not to bring others done. It was not particularly cathartic to have a group of strangers empathize but it seemed to please the group. Geez, I am open and authentic all the time.

I need loving, intimate friends in my life to be kind toi me regularly, not a group of folks I likely will not see again to empathically hold space for my heartache.

Interesting. More reflection. Now off to Fort Mason for a full week of events.

Unusually busy for me. Conference work all week and a retreat at Stanford next weekend.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

a mystical force present in all humans. . . .

from Evolver Social Movement on FB

David Whyte on Forgiveness

FORGIVENESS
is a heartache and difficult to achieve because strangely, the act of forgiveness not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source. To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw center, to reimagine our relation to it.
It may be that the part of us that was struck and hurt can never forgive, and that forgiveness itself never arises from the part of us that was actually wounded. The wounded self may be the part of us incapable of forgetting, and perhaps, not meant to forget…stranger still, it is that wounded, branded, un-forgetting part of us that eventually makes forgiveness an act of compassion rather than one of simple forgetting.
Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity and generosity in an individual life, a beautiful question and a way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves; an admittance that if forgiveness comes through understanding, and if understanding is just a matter of time and application then we might as well begin forgiving right at the beginning of any drama, rather than put ourselves through the full cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing and eventual blessing.
…at the end of life, the wish to be forgiven is ultimately the chief desire of almost every human being. In refusing to wait; in extending forgiveness to others now, we begin the long journey of becoming the person who will be large enough, able enough and generous enough to receive, at our very end, that necessary absolution ourselves.
Excerpted from ‘FORGIVENESS’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. ©2014 David Whyte

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

what happened to my 'complete works of yeats'?

The Second Coming (Slouching towards Bethlehem)
W.B Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Berkeley v. Big Soda spun some gold too

Berkeley v. Big Soda chose a brilliant name for their campaign to get a sugar tax passed in Berkeley. Their choice of name reminded every Berkeley voter that big, anonymous, dark money, corporate money wanted to control the outcome of a race in Berkeley.

When I was canvassing every Sat and Sun for Tony, I listened to anger about money in politics over and over and over.

I hope other progressive groups study what Berkeley v. Big Soda and Tony Thurmond's campaign just did. Also, the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) defeated Chevron on every single item on the ballot that Chevron cared about. Chevron hoped to put in their hand-selected mayor and council but the RPA spun some gold in Richmond through good old, old fashioned, boots on the ground, grassroots organizing.

If a small group of progressives defeated the millions spent by Chevron in Richmond, and a small group advocating for a tiny sugar tax defeated the millions spent on tiny Berkeley for a tiny sugar tax and if Tony could defeat the dominator political machine's hand-picked candidate. . . well, I feel hopeful for the first time in a long time.

These positive, grassroots, inexensive campaigns spun gold and, just as the Japanese beleive a pot repaired with gold makes the pot stronger and more valuable, I believe we can keep spinning grassroots gold and take back our democracy.  at least I sure hope so.