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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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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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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…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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