Deafening Silence: White Silence and Alton Sterling


This. Break the silence.

(Excellent words, but not mine. Re-blogged from another writer)

 

Form Follows Function

I want to start by being very specific about who I am talking to; this post is meant for people who look like me, those of us with white skin.

Many of you woke up this morning and heard the news about Alton Sterling, the 37 year old man who was shot and killed by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sickening feeling in your stomach probably hit you hard as you watched the cell phone footage of a police officer charging and tackling Sterling to the ground. You knew what was coming next. And, within seconds you saw it: the police officer mounts Sterling like a UFC fighter. There is no confrontation. No struggle. Sterling is subdued and then another officer yells “Gun. Gun.” The officer on top of Sterling pulls his gun and within seconds fires multiple rounds killing Alton Sterling.

This morning my Facebook feed…

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…what was that Statue of Liberty thing again?


The height of vanity, isn’t it, to reblog myself?
I was revamping my blog, going through posts and cleaning them up, when I got to this one that I wrote SIX years ago. It wasn’t terrorists that fueled the mean then, it was the fear of a drop in property value, which, wow. But it points to a different truth-do we just look for a reason to not welcome those in dire straits, because we might-gasp-have to sacrifice something in order to do so? I stand, during this Syrian refugee debate, in the same spot as I did with Haitian refugees six year ago.

also, this: Award-Winning Marine Just Tweeted A Perfect Response To The Syrian Refugee Crisis

"...but I'm not the only one..."

Give me….who?

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”

-Pablo Casals

Boggled. That is my mind right now–befuddled and boggled.

I read the comments section (I know, the last thing ANYONE sane should do is read the comments) that follows an online article about Haitian refugees being flown into the states, both adults to come stay with family members already here, and children and babies here to be taken in and adopted by Americans.

I’m not going to add any power to those comments by quoting them. You know the drill: a bunch of powerless ignorants who think if they spew enough garbage, someone will finally validate their existence. Hate and bigotry are their drugs of choice.  It blows my mind to read such drivel.

Basically, the sentiment is that we should NOT be taking in our  human brothers and…

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We must stop these crazed half naked psychopaths from feeding their children in front of other people!


If it's good enough for Jesus.....
If it’s good enough for Jesus…..

I’ve often wondered about what’s going on in the heads of people who want to shame women for doing 1) as Matt wrote, doing what God intended them to do, and 2) doing what the same people will shame women for if they DON’T do it. Breasts are not ‘nasty.’ No body part is shameful, nor are their (God-created, remember?) functions. Click the link below for a fantastic blog post.

We must stop these crazed half naked psychopaths from feeding their children in front of other people!.

Phoenix Rising


I take care of a few feral kittens who live in my neighborhood. They are healthy and happy, with the exception of one baby I’ve named Phoenix.

Phoenix is a sweet and loving feral who needs a lot of medical attention. I am virtually fundless but cannot watch this girl suffer when she still has so much spirit and life in her. She has fleas, ear mites, roundworm, and a nasty skin infection, and that’s just what I can see.

I set up a “Chip In”  page to raise funds to help her live the happy life she deserves. Once she’s well, I’ll work on finding her a home. She’s full of spunk, purrs, and talks up a storm. Somebody will be very lucky to have this little girl as a best friend!
Believe me, I understand broke. If you can’t donate a buck or two, you can still help- say a prayer for little “Pheenie.”
To donate, go here:
http://paxgirl.chipin.com/mypages/view/id/069b548429740859 -no longer valid or accepting donations!
Thanks for caring.
4/28: Phoenix update-There were enough donations to the ChipIn page that I was able to get enough help for Phoenix that she now looks like this:
6/22/13: Phoenix is healthy and beautiful, but quick and smart-I haven’t yet been able to catch her and get her spayed. She did have a small litter of two kittens (only two,thank goodness) on my front porch, and took very good care of them. I am determined to  get her spayed and vaccinated this summer. Wish me luck!
11/29/15: Phoenix is neutered, vaccinated, happy, and healthy! We did this for about 15 neighborhood strays, and of that group, there are 5 left, and two new kitties have been visiting for breakfast, so I imagine we’ll take care of them too so that they won’t procreate.
Phoenix says, “Thank you.’

“…and dance by the light of the moon.”


 

 

You can do it.

“Be the buffalo. Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it–and gets through it quicker. Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo.”

~Donna Brazile, rules to live by.

There are a number of people in my world right now who are going through some challenges: challenges in growth, change, health, emotional difficulties, and the like.  While I’m no poster child for living wisely, this subject in particular is one upon which I can speak, and maybe it can offer a little guidance or encourage  someone who’s on one precipice or another and is afraid.  In a nutshell, the fear you feel will not go away until you face it head on.

The quote above from political commentator/campaign strategist Donna Brazile is something I read in Oprah magazine. Its organic truth struck such a chord of authenticity within me that I tore the page out of the magazine. It’s been sitting here next to my computer for many weeks now, while I wondered how I was going to use it. Today it hit me; sharing the example of the buffalo might help some of my friends who are struggling. If you are reading this and know someone who needs to read this and share this post, maybe someone you know can turn a challenging situation into an opportunity to grow, to live honestly, and be finally free of the prison that running from challenge can become.

It took me a long time to become a ‘buffalo gal.’ Before I began to live authentically (which means allowing myself to feel the unpleasantness that discord often bestows), I was not myself. I was afraid of conflict, so I held in feelings that should have been shared. I was afraid I had nowhere to go, so I stayed in a place where I was not safe. I was a broken spirit and spent many a year locked in my room with a beautiful cat (see a previous post), my books, and my stash of Virginia Slims Menthol. I literally lost much of my teenage years to nicotine and self-imposed solitude. Came out of the fortress to go to school and work. I married a  man who helped me through some ‘interesting’ times while I was becoming me, supported me as I started counseling,  and also let me know that I wasn’t crazy to have the feelings I had. The marriage didn’t last, but my gratitude for his understanding at the beginning of my healing process endures to this day. As well as for the child who resulted from our marriage (see another previous post). I was well into adulthood by the time I first charged into the storm (even though I’ve always loved thunderstorms).

Here’s what, in continuing with the Oprah theme, I know for sure:

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Paws to reflect


“Life is life – whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.”

~Sri Aurobindo

Shelters are filled to overflowing with sad and frightened animals. The suffering they experience in the bleakness of their cages, their grief at being separated from their humans, their babies, or their mothers, their confusion and fear just before their ‘euthanization–‘ all of those energies are released into the universe, enlarging the dark cloud that hovers over not just humanity but all beings. The pain we feel (or avoid by changing the channel and burying our heads) when that dog-gone (yes, intended) Sarah Mclachlan commercial comes on and makes us cry-that is an organic, authentic, primordial cosmic hint:  we can do better for our planet-mates. We must do better.

ending their nightmares, one animal at a time.

I have come, through the magic of Facebook, to know a peaceful warrior by the name of DJ Chandler. I would only mangle her bio if I tried, but if you’re curious, no doubt you can find her online. I was inspired to share her with you because she is personally responsible for the diminishment of the toxic cloud of confusion due to her tireless efforts to find forever homes for shelter animals on Death Row. She organizes people to pull the animals from high-kill shelters, shows us how to contribute to their veterinary expenses, finds foster homes,  and arranges animal transport from shelter to vet to foster to new home. She has also rescued and fostered countless dogs, cats, and horses herself.

Their physical injuries are mended. Their fears are (sometimes very slowly and painstakingly) allayed. Their sadness is loved away. The cloud dissipates just a little more as each cat starts to purr again, as each dog puts his head on his new human’s knee for the first time and looks up with trepidation and-wavering-trust.

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give it away, give it away, give it away now.


 

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”

-Jane Addams

“Hey, I’ve got mine.”

“I’ve earned this.”

“Nobody’s taking anything away from me.

“Let them take care of themselves.”

Almost 15 years ago, I was just beginning the single mom chapter of my life. I’d just built a house for my son and myself. Not long after we moved in, my household income took a major hit and I found myself treading water, holding my kid above my head as the sharks circled.  I was thrown a lifeline by someone I’d never even met, the father of a friend.

This man is not an educated man, in the official sense of the word. But he tips the scale on wisdom.

This man worked over 40 years in what would be called an unskilled profession. But he was skilled at his job, and demonstrated a work ethic that was rewarded by his employer as if he was an executive.

This gentleman, in his blue collar custodial job, saved diligently and had put together a nice-sized nest egg for his retirement. In other words, he’d “got his” –and had earned every penny, every accolade, and had every right to enjoy his retirement by taking it easy and looking out for number one.

Instead, he put $1000.00 in a plain envelope and told my friend to give it to me.

My friend had mentioned my circumstances to this hero in passing, and he decided to help. A couple of weeks later he surprised my friend with the envelope, who then floored me by putting it in my hands.

Did I mention that I never had met this man?

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the only thing we have to fear…


“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

-Maria Robinson

Smash it to pieces.

(photo from bobsbarricades.com)

For me, it’s when I miss a couple of workouts, or eat a couple of really bad-for-me meals in a row.  The mind plays a dastardly trick: it tries to convince me that it’s time to give up, that it’s easier to spiral lazily in the vortex of “what’s the point of trying”  than to pick up and move on.  Funny isn’t it?  How effortlessly effort itself becomes the enemy.

Be it diet, exercise, studying, leading a life of strength and independence, or  just turning the doorknob of a classroom and entering, our psyches do an excellent job psyching us out. I don’t think it’s the fear of effort that paralyzes us. Fear of failure, of being physically attractive, of (ahem-) dancing in public, of  not having a significant other, of not being good enough, of conflict, of abandonment, even fear of success…..the real roadblock  is the is the fear of facing your fears!

And the ONLY way to smash through the roadbloaks and get peace?  Step on the gas and drive head-on into those fears.

You are the driver, and the fears are cowering behind one of Bob’s Barricades (ever wonder how rich “Bob” must be?).

It’s NOT the other way around.  You are behind the wheel. The drive may have some uncomfortable miles; so what? Fear–just a sensation.  Panic–just a sensation. The panic will stop in a minute. The loneliness will evolve into sweet solitude and personal strength.  If he’s (or she’s) “just not that into you,” okay; sad, but it’s clearly not meant to be. Nobody’s watching you dance anyway, so flail on.  Afraid of conflict? Speak your truth anyway, people are supposed to disagree and argue sometimes (just fight fair, which means listen to the other person and NO name calling). If you succeed at something, guess what? That means you ARE good enough!  If you almost succeed, congrats on your future growth potential. If you fail, face the fear of acknowledging it, enjoy the freedom that admitting failure gives you, and move on.

And if you require a little emotional Driver’s Education, put a counselor in the passenger seat and floor it. So it’s hard, scary, and very un-fun at moments. That’s okay too. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable sometimes, or you’re not really living your life.

Every minute you wallow in fear is a minute you won’t get back. True, but here’s some more good news: the next minute and every minute of the rest of your life, can and should belong to you. The beginning of your trip, even the middle, may have been bumpy and stormy, but you can turn your vehicle NOW to start the drive to your peaceful destination. It is absolutely, unequivocally, never too late.

So who am I to be giving all this self-help advice?

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“Anyway” you look at it…


“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith © Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Epiphanies can happen in the oddest places.

I was in the bathroom of my friend Alexis’ classroom today, and as I was washing my hands, I noticed a piece of paper taped to the mirror.  As I read the copy,  I actually felt myself becoming wiser! Well, maybe that’s a bit much for the bathroom of a portable classroom at an elementary school, but reading the page gave me chills.

The words on the page are quoted above. The author, Kent M. Keith, created these ‘commandments’ when he was only 19, a sophomore at Harvard. He was working on a  booklet for high school Student Councils.  It looks to me like he covered how to lead a meaningful life in 10 easy (or not so easy, depending on one’s degree of humane development) lessons!

This piece needs no analysis or evaluation on my part. The genius is in its truth and simplicity.  Just read it and let it bounce around your brain and heart for a few minutes. Then let me know what you think. As for me? I think I’ll print it up and tape it to my bathroom mirror.

As an added bonus?  Reading this takes about as much time as singing Happy Birthday (one of the ‘how long you wash your hands’ suggestions).  A much more evolved way to spend your hand-washing time.  So there you have it–grow as a person AND eliminate H1N1!  Two for the price of one (you’re welcome).

Thanks, Alexis!

Peace, friends.

For more on Kent M. Keith, visit:  http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com

A World that Supports Everyone


will the circle be unbroken?

(graphic: UNICEF)

“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.”

-Hafsat Abiola

I love the second sentence of that quote. I keep reading it over and thinking of ways that we do, and don’t, secure space for others to contribute. Either way, it can take just a small act to do either. See if any of these ring true (and when I say ‘you’ in this essay, I don’t mean YOU, fine reader–it just makes for a smoother read than the impersonal “one”):

NOT securing space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that *  pick an -ism. Sexism, racism, age-ism, class-ism, partisan-ism. ANY sentence that begins, “I’m not prejudiced, but….”

* stealing the credit for someone else’s idea at work or school.

* allowing competitiveness to overshadow your efforts or those of others. The end doesn’t always justify the means, especially if the “end” you’re aiming for is attention/praise/accolades  for yourself.

* dominating class discussions, dinner table conversations, happy hour banter,  and meetings with your own discourse while no one else can get a word in and be heard.

* wondering why all those earthquake victims have to come to “our” country.

* name-calling and put-downs of any kind.

Looking back on what I just typed, I see that the above examples would actually be detrimental to both parts of the opening quote–anyone who’s perpetrating any of the above is sabotaging self as well as others’ abilities to contribute the best that they have.  Just goes to prove: what you do for others, you do for yourself as well. What you do TO others, same story. If you stomp on others to get to your perceived “top,” whatever that may be, being on top will be pretty bleak (and no doubt very lonely) indeed.

So. How can we contribute the best that we have toward creating a world that supports everyone? And how can we secure space for others to do the same?

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…what was that Statue of Liberty thing again?


Give me….who?

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”

-Pablo Casals

Boggled. That is my mind right now–befuddled and boggled.

I read the comments section (I know, the last thing ANYONE sane should do is read the comments) that follows an online article about Haitian refugees being flown into the states, both adults to come stay with family members already here, and children and babies here to be taken in and adopted by Americans.

I’m not going to add any power to those comments by quoting them. You know the drill: a bunch of powerless ignorants who think if they spew enough garbage, someone will finally validate their existence. Hate and bigotry are their drugs of choice.  It blows my mind to read such drivel.

Basically, the sentiment is that we should NOT be taking in our  human brothers and sisters who are in such desperate and dire need. Property value apparently trumps compassion. Prejudice trumps being charitable.  Entitlement trumps generosity. An accident of Providence, namely being born on American soil, trumps following  the Golden Rule, a version of which can be found in virtually every religious denomination’s teachings.  Narrowness and fear trump TRUTH.

Here is my truth. I do not care if any of the refugees are uneducated. It doesn’t mean that they have any less brainpower than we do.  On the contrary it just means they haven’t been to school. Joe Comment, on the other hand, may have gotten through 8th grade, but his ignorance is evident with every word he types.

I don’t care if English isn’t their first language. Interesting though, how many Haitians speak English.  Gotta be pretty smart to speak two languages. That’s more than I can do, and I’m a pretty bright girl.

Property value?  What about Human value?

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“you are the weakest link”


never too late to fix the chain.

“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger that its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.”

-Marian Anderson

The chain is no stronger than its weakest link. Our national (for me global chain, you know I’m not fond of borders) chain is full of ‘weakest links,’ those who are keeping people down, and by doing so are denying themselves their own flight into true freedom.  Some I consider to be in this category (but great news! If they stop doing it, they return to shiny, unbreakable forged steel immediately):

Anyone who still uses the antiquated and antipathethic “they just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps” pontification.  The people they’re talking about don’t have bootstraps, or boots, or the means to acquire them. Anyway, they don’t need boots so much as compassion.

*Try buying boots when you’re followed and given the evil eye the second you walk into a store.

*Try buying boots with the food stamps you’ve been forced to use because you left an abusive husband and brought 4 kids and a cat with you and you’re all sleeping on a cousin’s screened porch.

*Try buying boots when you’re ashamed to go into the store in your unwashed clothes -can’t do laundry because you don’t have running water.

*Try getting a job to buy boots when you don’t have clothes to wear to the interview.

*Try buying boots when no one in the store will talk to you because you are clearly homeless and as such you are assumed to be schizophrenic or alcoholic, or both, but you’re just another college-educated victim of the sub-prime fiasco and lost your home.

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Show me the Money


sow peace, reap peace.

“Once, when we were discussing a world peace project with my teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, somebody asked him, ‘Where is all the money going to come from?’ And he replied without hesitation, ‘From wherever it is at the moment.’ “

–Deepak Chopra

The above anecdote resonated within me on many levels. First, the obvious grabber, is that the Maharishi’s faith was unwavering that the funding for the Peace project would come. His faith was steadfast to the point that  worrying over the fund-raising was unnecessary. He knew that the money for the project already existed in the world; in time, the way to amass the  financial support would make itself known, and the project would commence.

As a single mother living on a teacher’s wage, may I now say that wherever the money is at the moment, it’s not in my checking account, and it hasn’t mapquested my address yet.  I am no living example of the attitude conveyed by the Maharishi. Worrying about money is a daily event (the good news is, when I have enough-notice I didn’t say “when I’m rich”-I’ll stop worrying.).

Yet it did strike me as remarkable, this unwavering faith……”from wherever it is at the moment.”  So simple, so complex, so profound.

It’s not fund-raising, though, or my electric bill, that really prompted some thinking on my part. It was my own faith-my deep and abiding belief that a compassionate and peaceful world is possible. Because it is possible; in fact, the seeds of it already exist.

Within every beating heart is the seed of peace. It’s like ground cover, sprouting and spreading in all directions.

“…from wherever it is at the moment.”

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