Jazz (ercise) Hands!


fire escape
1926 Fire Escape

So. Asthma. Got that anvil dropped on my chest about 4 years ago. Out of nowhere. From running 5K races to not being able to power walk a block without having to stop to try to catch my breath, in a mild panic at the sound of-not wheezing, mind you- the gurgling in my lungs. My usual at-school workout 25-30 trips up and down the fire escape (pictured), doing curls/flys on every step with 5 pound weights? Became a one-up, one-down, do some stationary curls for a minute or two (hoping that people would just think  I was doing interval training and hoping that sweat was a good camouflage for tears of frustration) before repeating the whole thing a few times. The worst were the nights, when I’d be dreaming that I was drowning, only to wake up and find out that I was. I spent quite a few nights trying to sleep upright to combat that particular terror.

So. Diabetes. Got that jab to the pancreas about 6 months ago (July 30, 2015 to be exact). It was also deduced that I’d been hosting the blood sugar monster for several years without diagnosis or treatment. With medication and a very low carb way of eating, I’m learning to keep the blood sugar in check. Of course, the other necessary ingredient in treatment is exercise. Refer to above paragraph to see how that was going for me.

So I climbed the fire escape. Up and down, catching breath in between each trip, still trying hard to look like an ultra-cool interval athlete. Ha. Freakishly strong arm and leg muscles, but cardiovascular strengthening? Nope.

Suddenly, a salvation of sorts:

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No, You’re Not Imagining It: 3 Ways Racial Microaggressions Sneak into Our Lives — Everyday Feminism


We are NOT Post-Racial. Hard to look at? I'll bet it's harder to be on the receiving end-ALL the time.
We are NOT Post-Racial. Hard to look at? I’ll bet it’s harder to be on the receiving end-ALL the time.

I posted this piece on my Facebook page as well. The truth and civility with which it was written are stunning.  I encourage you to read every word, even when it feels a little uncomfortable, even when you recognize that there might be things that need to change in your paradigm, the worldview you were raised to find acceptable, and/or your own behavior.

Thanks to Everyday Feminism and Anni Liu for the amazing essay.

Peace, friends.

Click the link below to read this eye-opening piece.

No, You’re Not Imagining It: 3 Ways Racial Microaggressions Sneak into Our Lives — Everyday Feminism.

Speak up, even when it's scary. Staying silent so as not to 'rock the boat?' Another Microagression.
Speak up, even when it’s scary. Staying silent so as not to ‘rock the boat?’ Another Microagression.

This happened only 40 years ago.


(I copied/pasted the following article because the comments in the article’s page on the web had sunk into the usual troll hell of who is MORE Christian, and had little to do with anything other than a bunch of people who had taken over the comment section to proclaim their holiness and wish brimstone upon anyone who disagreed.)

This happened during OUR lifetimes. I was 11 at the time. The Supreme Court of the United States is pondering some big decisions this week. I am posting today in honor of my LGBT friends who deserve equality and civil rights–overdue to the point of being ludicrous. I stand with you this week as you, as we, wait for what I pray is a triumphant shift in the heartbeat of our country.

WARNING: I posted both photos from the article, and one of them is a graphic sledgehammer to the gut. So for those of us who need a perspective check, THIS is what real persecution looks like.

“Remembering the UpStairs Lounge: The U.S.A.’s Largest LGBT Massacre Happened 40 Years Ago Today
June 24, 2013 By Terry Firma

The 24th of June in 1973 was a Sunday. For New Orleans’ gay community, it was the last day of national Pride Weekend, as well as the fourth anniversary of 1969′sStonewall uprising. You couldn’t really have an open celebration of those events — in ’73, anti-gay slurs, discrimination, and even violence were still as common as sin — but the revelers had few concerns. They had their own gathering spots in the sweltering city, places where people tended to leave them be, including a second-floor bar on the corner of Iberville and Chartres Street called the UpStairs Lounge.

That Sunday, dozens of members of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the nation’s first gay church, founded in Los Angeles in 1969, got together there for drinks and conversation. It seems to have been an amiable group. The atmosphere was welcoming enough that two gay brothers, Eddie and Jim Warren, even brought their mom, Inez, and proudly introduced her to the other patrons. Beer flowed. Laughter filled the room.

upstairs1

Just before 8:00 p.m., the doorbell rang insistently. To answer it, you had to unlock a steel door that opened onto a flight of stairs leading down to the ground floor. BartenderBuddy Rasmussen, expecting a taxi driver, asked his friend Luther Boggs to let the man in. Perhaps Boggs, after he pulled the door open, had just enough time to smell the Ronsonol lighter fluid that the attacker of the UpStairs Lounge had sprayed on the steps. In the next instant, he found himself in unimaginable pain as the fireball exploded, pushing upward and into the bar.

The ensuing 15 minutes were the most horrific that any of the 65 or so customers had ever endured — full of flames, smoke, panic, breaking glass, and screams.

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“…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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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

Shake it up, baby


“Courage is like — it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”

–Mary Daly

Disco Inferno?

(Photo:Wizard Wellbeing)

When I was in Junior High, I went to a dance with a few girlfriends. Now I had never been to a dance, and had never danced in front of people before.  Also, I was ridiculously shy. So in the gym with my friends, I started to dance. Or so I thought.

Apparently I looked like I was “stepping on hot coals”–or so said a kid to one of my friends, who in her helpfulness passed that tidbit along to me.  Suffice to say, that, to refer back to today’s quote, I did NOT learn to dance by dancing. That throw-away comment has been emblazoned upon my psyche for lo, these many years.  And I can honestly say that it takes fewer than all my fingers to count the times I’ve danced since then (the dances with kids in my Music Classroom don’t count, and the Theme Park shows don’t count either).

I’m a musician, a singer, a guitar player, for God’s sake! But every time I approach a dance floor, I can hear the long ago judgment in my head.  A comment that NO one remembered 2 minutes later but me. I won’t even dance in front of myself.  I am an absurdly self-conscious wuss–when it comes to this.  And being absurdly self-conscious?  Very much a life-wasting characteristic.  And wussy-ness? Definitely not Peaceful.

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