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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I’m no hero


angry
“You (insert religious/political/racial identity here) MORONS!”

“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” -Mother Teresa

 

I am no big hero.
But.

I would NEVER have called all Bush supporters a bunch of conservative morons. Why? Because not all conservatives are morons. Because it’s prejudicial and irrational. Because, no matter how I felt about W, the people who loved him simply disagreed with me. That doesn’t make them morons; it makes them human-there are as many opinions and philosophies as there are humans.

To paint any group with a broad brush is so unfair, so wrong, and though apparently I’m a Universal Unitarian according to the latest circulating survey and maybe not the resident expert, it is SO not Christian. And it’s pretty hate-filled as well, and I do disagree with hate. I suspect that those spewing the “liberal morons” meanstream have issues that go much deeper than those politic. But I digress.

Listen, I could not stand where Bush took us, and it’s well documented how his brother decimated Florida and is profiteering on children’s emotional health while stealing their rights to a real education. I’m not here to argue about that, and I won’t. But you know what I didn’t do? Scream hate about him, pass along undocumented forwards mislabled as “information,”  pass along repugnant and despicable memes, or call his supporters vile names.

That doesn’t make me any kind of hero or peacenik (there’s plenty else that proves the peacenik part); it makes me a person who respects others, and, agree with them or not, respects their AMERICAN-GIVEN RIGHT to have opinions other than mine. And for those who claim Christianity, the (at least the God who lives in and around me) GOD-GIVEN right to not be belittled by others for having ideas.

Authentic Facebook “Art,” or Forgery? Just posting it doesn’t make you compassionate.

^^ Don’t just post it, DO it! ^^

When you call people morons, it dilutes (and in a reader’s mind, deletes) anything in your message that may have been informed or meaningful. Please consider looking over your status updates over the last few weeks. Your updates=your reputation. Your typing  fingers are the brush, your words are your paints, and your page is your canvas. Would you display your ‘art’ proudly?

I’m okay with my social media canvas, even if some of my updates are silly, the quotes are occasionally overly simplistic and trite, and my attempts at humor are  sometimes a little cringe-worthy. I will stand in my ‘gallery’ without regret.

Listen, I’m not always right, not always humble, not always as tasteful as I might be, and certainly not as funny or clever as I like to think I am. But I am an unapologetic liberal. Unapologetic bleeding heart. Unapologetic introvert. Unapologetic Star Trek dork, General Hospital fan, and avid reader of everything. Unapologetic advocate for children, for my child, for victims of sexual abuse. Unapologetic over-poster of cat photos. Unapologetic in my never-ending and oft-faltering quest to be kind and my mission to beg the same from everyone else, because it is the ONLY way this is all going to get better.

But hey, do you know what I’m not?

A moron.

I’m actually quite bright.

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Go Read: “The Only Thing Worse Than a Disney Princess is a Disney Prince”


“I can wake myself up, thank you.”

With apologies to the Disney Conglomerate-I read a delightful post on another blog, “Allisms.”

I discovered this blog today and want to share my favorite post (link below). It rang true because of the many status updates I read written by single people who are not comfortable with their own company, or who have subscribed to a movie company’s version of how true love looks. Here’s a secret: this version sells DVDs, but it is not what true love looks like.

I still see, and shockingly I see it often posted by women in the generation younger than mine, status updates that read like “Someday my Prince will Come!” Waiting for the one, waiting on the phone, waiting to get a man so life can truly begin.  Calling some guy “the hubby” after knowing him a week.

Girls, stop it. You don’t need to validate yourself by whether you’re one half of a couple. PLEASE don’t validate yourself by whether you’re one half of a couple. Continue reading

Better Ingredients? Better People: An open letter to John Schnatter and Everyone I Know.


I’ve been watching the mean memes about John “Papa John” Schnatter go around, with everyone swearing to never order from him again because it will apparently cost 14 cents per pie to give his employees healthcare, and he said in an interview that he didn’t want to raise the price of a pizza-he’d rather cut jobs and hours than to participate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Here’s one of the memes:

So a rich guy has a big house. Not a newsflash.

As a liberal, I’d like for the vitriol to NOT be coming from us. As a human, the idea of someone having a catastrophic health event, and no coverage,  is unthinkable. As a person of some intelligence, I get that Obamacare may well cost businesses a little extra, and I don’t think it’s ridiculous to pay 14 extra cents for a pizza to help a whole lot of people keep their jobs, their hours, and have health coverage.

Everyone’s screaming about people paying their ‘fair share.’  Our President says that we are the ones that will make the change. He means all of us.  I was a victim of an unscrupulous sub-prime loan broker and my struggle to keep my home, and for many years, to keep my kid clothed and fed, is fodder for another post. Suffice to say that good old Papa John, with his easily find-able 25% off promo codes, was a hero more than once. A $9.59 large pizza?  Four meals. Price change to $9.73? Even can handle that.

Papa, will every one of those 14 pennies go to healthcare coverage for your employees? Will every single one of those pennies insure every single one of your 16,000-plus workers? Then do it. Raise the price and don’t slap the employees who helped you ‘build that’ in the face. Care about them enough to give them care.  You’re a hero to no one by threatening to fire people and cut hours so you can pay instead, thinking then the healthcare law won’t apply to you. Be a leader and take care of your employees. Petulance isn’t attractive and it doesn’t sell pies.

If you decide to do this, I’m in. I will make Change with a little change. Look, in order for all of this to fall into place, everybody’s got to pitch in, not just the guys with houses like the one in the pic (is that a moat?). It IS going to cost businesses, small and large, extra to comply with the requirements, and in order to even STAY in business, some will have to pass part of that cost to consumers. Some businesses will try to cry “Obamacare!” and price-gauge, no doubt.  My guess is they will be outed pretty quickly. I do not agree with pretty much anything Papa stands for politically. I also don’t think 14 cents looks like a fleecing. And I would still buy the occasional pizza.

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Killing Kindergarten



I read this piece on Huffington Post and had to comment (the link to the article is below):

“Thank you for this post-a perfect illustration of what NCLB and it’s offspring has done to our children (not FOR them). I will repost in the hope that at least one narrow mind might be opened and we can get closer to going back to teaching children, not teaching the test.”

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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.’

An Invitation.


At an event last night, a poem was read that resonated so strongly within my heart that I had to share. I contacted the poet this morning and got permission to post the piece. Even though these words were written by another, they put into words feelings I couldn’t have articulated nearly as well.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been working, going to school, and standing through a year that tried its best to knock me down. Moments like last night, listening to a beautiful soul read this poem, are like raindrops that wash me clean. I hope you are as touched by Oriah’s words as I was.  I’m glad to be back.

Peace, Friends.

The Invitation by Oriah

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 from her book, THE INVITATION (c)1999. Published by HarperONE,
San Francisco. All rights reserved. Presented with permission of the
author. http://www.oriah.org

“…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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Got fair?


The joy of my life.

“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.”

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wow. I’ve had this quote saved on my desktop for a while now. I ponder it, put it down. Pick it back up, then drop it like a hot coal.  Does my kid think of me when he thinks of fairness and integrity? Do I really want to know what words/concepts/emotions make him think of me?  or what words/concepts/emotions are conjured when he thinks of me? Do ANY of us parents want that particular truth laid bare?

I know a lot of things about my parenting skills. I know that despite being an expert in the field of child development, no experience or education prepares me for how to react when I see pain in those blue eyes which so exactly mirror mine. Nothing prepared me for the joy I feel when someone tells me how great they think he is.  Nothing kept me from being easy on him when most likely I shouldn’t have. Nothing keeps my heart from melting when I see his room-brightening grin. I’ve made a ton of mistakes, and I’ve done a lot that seems to have worked.

And I have learned…….

……that he’s not going to grow up on my schedule, but on his. I can help or hinder this process, but cannot force it.

…..that while very occasionally I only did the best I felt like doing, most of the time I have done my absolute very best. Even when he hated my best.

…..that everyone finds their way eventually. And letting him find the way when it involves some angst or some consequences? Gotta do it. Gotta sit back and watch, and then cry behind a closed door if I must.

…..that there really is no greater love on earth than a mother has for her child.

What do I hope he thinks of when he thinks of me? I hope he knows:

…..that I will always love him exactly the way he is.

…..that he’s the whole enchilada with extra sour cream and guac.

…..that I will always love him no matter what.

…..that fairness and integrity are part of my parenting package.

…..that he is safe from emotional harm.

…..that even when I selfishly fall into the  “after all I’ve done for you!” speech, he knows that no sacrifice was too big, no battle regretted, no effort wasted; he’s worth it.

…..that I appreciate his wit and talent and brilliance; I know that he’ll be a world-changer—in HIS own way, not mine (though hopefully his progressive thinking will continue…..).

And yes, more than anything, I hope he thinks of fairness and integrity when he thinks of me.

That alone will fill my spirit with Peace.

Hopefully he will move out into the world carrying some of that Peace in his spirit as well.

Peace, friends.

I love you, Eric.

My clone and me

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

Ode to a Cool Cat


a feline original.

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

-Albert Schweitzer

This cat. The one and only Fluffy, so named by my 6 year-old sister and my 8 year-old self, was one in a million. Just a baby when we got her; she was snowy white, skinny, and, yes, fluffy all over. She was alternately Tigger-bouncy and Pooh-snuggly. I use the Winnie-the-Pooh analogy very deliberately because for the next 16 years, I was her (Christopher) Robin and she was my Pooh. She was my Peace.

She slept on my chest at night from the start. Even when she reached her adult weight of 16 pounds, every night she purred me to sleep. I’ve yet to find a better sleep aid than breathing to the rhythm of that cat’s contented purr.

She learned to fetch a little foil ball. Her  Scooby-Doo skids when she hit the wood floor –they were as comical when I was 18 as when I was 8.

She internalized our school schedule-from 3rd grade through college. My mom said that about 30 minutes before my sister and I were due home, she’d leave her window perch in the sun and start lurking at the front door. We were always greeted, not with the aloof “what’s your name again?” attitude that the uninitiated project onto cats, but to an almost puppy-like joy, with more purrs, meows, and an unapologetic “where the HELL have you been?” (yes, I speak Cat).

If I was getting yelled at, there appeared  my snow-white protector, slinking around my ankles and wailing in protest. A lot of arguments would end in giggles because you just had to laugh at her bravado.

She listened to thousands of hours of my guitar-playing and singing. I was Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Karla Bonoff, and Bonnie Raitt-she was my audience of thousands.

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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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