Reality Check


It is always interesting when we can have a moment where we can look at ourselves and see some aspect differently.

At work it feels like I am surrounded by many disgruntled co-workers. Or at least folks who are not really into what they are doing; or maybe they are just exhausted? They work with kids in a school, which can be tiring, especially these days for sure–but somehow I figured there would be more passion in the people there.

Instead I find a group of (mostly) frustrated, cranky, unhappy people who seem like they would rather be anywhere be where they are…and I suddenly realized yesterday, after hearing my immediate co-worker complain and whine, that oh my goodness: this was me for so many years in my last career!

How miserable it must have been to be around me! To hear me complain all the time and see my grouchy face. And to hardly ever hear anything nice come out of my mouth. Yikes. It stopped me cold when I realized how it must have been to be work with me all the time.

Because I know what it’s like to be around these folks day in and out. It’s a downer. And how must it be for the kids? We’re suppose to be models for them after all, eh? Was I able to fake it for my patients on the ambulance, because I know these educators aren’t hiding anything from these children.

It really made me ashamed of myself, that I had put everyone I worked with through all my stuff. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter if it had cause or not; I should have left it at home. Work is not a place to drag your baggage. It’s not fair to anyone around you, yet I did it for a long, long time.

These folks may have what they feel are ‘good excuses’, but really none are when you get down to it. If you’re unhappy, find something else to do. It’s hard to find other work, yes that’s true. But if you’re heart not in what you’re doing, we all can tell.

If you can fix the things at work that’s the best solution. Or maybe you can learn to suck it up and push your way through things (not let things bother you as much)…but the ultimate solution may simply be to move on…. That’s the sad truth. I finally left a career I loved because of the extraneous stuff that bugged me too much.

So, in the end, I am very regretful for all those I drove crazy with my unhappiness. It’s clear now as I can see it in others (and it’s hard to take). In payment, I’m trying to be as upbeat as I can to make this place a little brighter…

And I know at least the kids appreciate it.

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Speak


As this Martin Luther King day approaches, I am compelled to contemplate (and write) about racism and bigotry in this country. With a president that feels he has the right to boast his hatred and utter his disregard for equality it is quite evident that some people still carry these sentiments most obviously.

But a book that I recently read: Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America, By Michael Eric Dyson, made me look more deeply into the question of implicit racism. By definition found on the computer it means:  implicit racism includes unconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices.

He speaks to ‘whiteness’ in general, not in a way that is scolding, but in a way that most definitely made me look at my privileged life in this country as a white person. Of that there is NO doubt.

It is easy to notice things like what the president did and said: that this is racism/bigotry. But there are other signs that are less clear. The lines become blurred when looking at crime and how media portrays who commits them. Who do we feel as white folk are the criminals? Really, answer that question, then check the statistics. Or how do you feel when you walk down a dark street and people of color are near?

There are tests to see if you have implicit bias (or racism). The results may be surprising to you. I was scared when I took one, afraid that I might not be the person I thought I was or wanted to be. The result was fascinating actually. I guess it may depend on life experience and how much you really believe what you read and see on the news.

Dyson challenges white people in order to make this a world as Martin Luther King envisioned (and many others like him), then we must engage those who say racist things when we hear them. Sitting silent is as good as saying it ourselves. Let people know you won’t tolerate this kind of talk. Use it as a teaching moment if you hear folks spouting incorrect information about black people; let them know you know the truth.

This president is trying to worm his way out of the disgusting words he spoke recently and so will others. It is not being tolerated.

So in the words of MLK, speak up!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

Lofty


I’ve decided to start a project–a lofty project one might say. Someone gave me the idea this summer, but I didn’t think much of it then, but recently the idea settled in the back of my mind like a little ember and has been burning ever since.

My poetry is by no means award-winning, nor will it ever be found next to the likes of Oliver, Angelou or Plath, but in looking back, I’ve realized it has been somewhat prolific. Over the years of my blog I’ve written over 400 poems. 400! 400? I was quite amazed, and pleased with my writing self.

Some, of course, I like better than others; some are a mere silliness and some just bubble forth to lie down hard. But, none-the-less, they all exist in their own right. The thing is: they exist in the world of the internet and nowhere else. And this, recently, has become unsettling to me.

In our ever-changing world, ever unreliable and unpredictable–it seemed a novel and maybe even prudent idea to save these precious thoughts of mine in a more mundane and old-fashioned way–just in case. In case the internet collapses and goes away. Or, maybe even something less dramatic, that someday my kids just run across my journal where these poems are kept, and are stunned by the notions their mother had in her head.

So I have begun to transcribe all these words into a journal. Sure, I could have simply printed them out. But I wanted to wrap myself around them; taste them with my being as I write; re-live them. I feel like a medieval scribe, hunched over my parchment, cup of tea and sunflower seeds, scribbling, scribbling…

And some I read aloud. I close my eyes. Before me is a cushioned room and other poets such as myself, clutching their poems and listening intently as I share. They will be next to speak their truths, bring their gifts to the small group of unknown writers. Here we feel safe.

For no matter who we are or what we write, good or bad, it is a love of words and the joy of weaving them that unites us all.

Thank you for letting me share mine with you.

 

One


Humans have so many peculiar traits. There are a myriad of cultural, ethnic and race oddities we humans have adopted that allude me. How far in the centuries do they go back and from where do they stem?

For instance: where does royalty come from? Watching The Crown last night, it struck me as, well, silly (no offense to anyone reading), that we as humans actually regard other humans as somehow superior. That their blood is somehow ‘royal’ and to be treated specially; that we should bow down and kiss their hands etc. It struck me as funny.

And then there is the black vs. white situation. We all know the horrors of that situation, not only in this country, but in South Africa too. How do humans come to a place that one race is more deserving than another? Where does this feeling begin?

In Germany, we have an idea where to trace the hatred of the Jews and subsequent extermination of them. But was it really just one man’s idea or is there an underlying theme among humans that somehow we are not all equal? I see a trend.

There are so many examples we can look to in history where one people feels different and better or somehow higher. In some cases, like with royalty, maybe these people are held in high esteem. But in most cases, it causes bad blood  among the groups.

I’m no scientist, but I do know that at our cellular level, and when you cut us all open, we all bleed them same. We all look the same on the inside. We all have a heart, two lungs, two kidneys and a brain, although some don’t use it as well as others. That’s why when you get right down to it, it’s all so foolish that we fight and kill, destroy and bomb, displace and denigrate folks we feel are others. Because really they are not.

They are really us, maybe with a different color paint, but filled with the same parts.

Clearing


These days I have a lot of time to think. And think I do. All this thinking sometimes leads me to see my world completely the opposite from the way I used to see it. Maybe it’s like when you get way close to something, then it may not look like the same object at all. The perspective is distorted, but not necessarily in a worse way.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t help but think about our past. I’ve gotten beyond tearing it up and regretting it, and yet, it still passes through my mind. I turn things over and look at things and pull them close, and lately when I do, I’ve started to realize that maybe some of the seemingly disruptive, hurtful things I did, really had the right instinct behind them.

And all these years later, those I have walked away from, I can now see didn’t have the staying power to be near me anyway. They moved on easily, while I still am working my way through it all–alone.

But the other thing I’m finally grasping is that there will be some (maybe only a very few) that will stay close for the long haul. Some of these may only make themselves apparent after a long time or suddenly, but they’ve been there all along. Some are with you every step of the way. These few are the true ones.

So looking from a different angle while we brush off the detritus that our minds have built around our past, maybe we can see it all from an organic place. Or maybe someone else, someone who has been hiding in the shadows, will appear to remind you that it’s OK.

Either way, stepping in close and twisting the past at a different angle can be the peace you need for today.

Blink


There are moments when time is on my mind…I mean BIG time, the passing of time, forward time and backward time. And I sit in this middle of this time contemplating it.

Often, while I am waiting for time to pass because it may appear to be dragging along, I suddenly snap awake and realize this is a foolish notion. The reality will be that the present will be gone and become the past so quickly, that I will end up wondering in those present moments why I wanted those moments to be over in the first place.

It’s quite clear now that once certain things are gone, they are gone. The moments cannot be replaced in a future moment. Yes, the future may hold some new contortion of the past, but not what we may have wished away or that time simply left behind.

Yet ‘being present’ is almost an impossibility as time is not static. It is forever slipping on before us. So while we may stand still in the this second, time doesn’t wait for us. This struck me then: if it keeps loyally moving forward, and appears to at break neck speed as I look back–that I should probably stop encouraging it even more.

Instead, it may be best to just settle into time and let it do its thing. Don’t fight it anymore, because it’s a losing battle anyway. If changing my perspective and understanding that it really is all relative anyway will help me through challenging times, then so be it.

Because as I look back on so many of these times in my life, I am simply amazed now how far in the past they are and how it all felt like just a blink of an eye.

Clarity


Seeing people for who they really are, whether they are homeless or our closest friends/family, can often be challenging. As humans, we spend a lot of time trying to create comfort around us, and this may include internal comfort also. Living in a world where situations can bring us discomfort, our brain will do as much as it can to remove the ‘bad’ stuff; erase memories or twist pictures before our eyes into something we’d prefer to see.

Seeing the world around us without our rose-colored glasses can often be painful, on a personal and global level. It may reveal our own child as a drug addict or a fellow human as hungry, neither snapshot as something we want to see.

But both these things are truths before us and must be acknowledged. They are drastic cases of what we see when we choose to have our eyes truly open to people around us. How do these things make us feel about these people and how do we react in response? Afterall, it does not change the fact that they are both humans still…

What if what our eyes remain closed to simpler truths about someone else? Things that just make them who they are, but different from you and I? Have we truly listened and accepted what someone has told us about their feelings or needs? Or are we trying to change them to fit into our agenda?

It can be a challenge to accept someone just as they are; especially when they look or act differently. Each day the world seems to become less and less accepting and we drift farther apart from our shared humanity.

Respect and listening. If we felt heard and respected, no matter how minor the role we may play in this game called life, then we can feel here, human and a part of the whole.