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.”

 

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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.

 

Little Thoughts


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When thoughts start to clutter my mind now, especially ones that take me away from the present, this is my new mantra:

I am here now; I am alive; I am healthy; I am grateful.

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“Extended bliss is boredom of the existential kind.” from the book NutShell  By Ian McEwan.

Just Right


“In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you are supposed to be. ” — Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

How long do we wait for the right place and the right conditions? It may seem to some of us that we take a long time to stretch out; that we spend much of our lives contorted and bursting apart just to come together again. I have.

The right conditions seem to involve some sort of special magic; a particular brew that mixes together to concoct the spell where the microcosm in which we move feels easy and the skin that we wear no longer needs tailoring.

Some folks that we meet seem to have been born with this magic as they whirl around with the twinkling Universe hovering nearby. But most of us aren’t so lucky. Some of us seek it, but I see now this maybe isn’t how it works. It may be more like how a seed turns into a tree. It’s just dumb luck. It just waits encased in its shell until all the conditions are perfect and then bursts forth into the world.

But most don’t get this far.

Maybe I’ve just tried too hard to make everything happen. Can I be more like that seed? Just quietly sitting on the forest floor gathering the magic conditions to crack me open. Will I be one of the lucky ones?

And once I am that wonderful entity, crawling with life and fluttering with each breath of wind, my roots firmly reaching in all directions: then I will know I am who I am supposed to be.

You Can Teach Old Dogs…


So a while ago, when I was sitting at home, in the thick of my contemplating about my life and future–I had a harebrained idea: I would take a course. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but what I did know, even though it was kind of intimidating, was that I would attempt to do it online.

This may not seem like a very big deal to many of you out there in computer-land, but to me, the gal who is a ‘hands on’ learner, it felt very strange. But on the other hand, I also knew that I was in no position to go schlepping off to some place for a class, nor did I want to pay a huge amount of money for some program that maybe I wouldn’t like after a few weeks. And I knew that nowadays there are so many courses offered online. How hard could it be?

So I started to search, and sure enough, our local community college had some very short and very inexpensive courses that seemed quite reasonable to explore. Hey, I had nothing to lose since my time was wide open, so I decided to sign up for the Veterinary Assistant class–actually a set of three of them (maybe I was a bit ambitious) which started today. In the long run I guess I hoped it might land me a job.

My job is to look beautiful

I literally had no idea what to expect when I logged into ‘my classroom’ today. But there were my lessons, a syllabus, some quizzes, some assignments (optional), a forum area to talk with the Professor (a Vet from Canada) and other students, plus other relevant stuff.

It was all fairly straight forward. Of course I couldn’t get my printer to work when I tried to print the lessons (I finally did after 2 hours), something suggested by the teacher and a good idea for studying for the Final to have for later on. Once the class closes, one doesn’t have access to the information again, so I will create a notebook for reference.

This kind of learning is actually perfect for someone older (like me) or busy…go at your own pace. And it’s basically open book for exams–who wouldn’t love that? I’ve always felt that in real life one gets to look up what we don’t know, so why memorize everything? It’s great.

I have a memory like a steel trap

Will I get a job out of it? Well, the funny part is that after I had already signed up for it, I got a call for a job interview for a job that I applied for about a month ago. I’d given up thinking about it actually, but it so happens it’s at the very college where I’m taking this online course! Imagine that. The interview went as well as expected, but I am still waiting to hear. Who knows?

But I will take this course anyway as it is designed with pet owners in mind also. Plus it’s fun and always good to stretch one’s mind. Maybe I will even use the information to volunteer…

And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks….??

No tricks for me Mommy

Shadow Self


Since it is my preference lately to hang mostly among the shadows, I find the comfort of home is where I can be found. In the quiet, familiar backdrop, my everyday life scrolls forward in an orderly fashion. This too protects me and surrounds me like a warm blanket on a wintery day. It’s safe and holds me in its embrace–my four walls are my fortress keeping my truth free and the mystery of others at bay.

Going out can sometimes be a challenge these days, especially if it’s somewhere new. Uncharted territory on clogged and hostile roadways send my tentative energy levels to a heightened state. Honking horns if I am too slow, lost in the jungle, rattle my senses and the animal part of me takes flight. It’s disturbing, enough where I avoid putting myself in these types of situations as much as possible. 

My guide is technically based, thank goodness, or I would be completely lost and most likely never leave my apartment. I am a person who navigates by landmarks and memory, repetitive action. Once I am familiar, the anxiety goes away. Most likely it’s the OCD part of me that makes me like this–I need to know everything in advance in order to be comfortable. And because I’m simply not grooving with the outside world in general these days, it makes all this quite challenging. 

So, today, the trip to my city library  (after parking on the wrong block at first), proved to be fruitful on many levels. I love to read. And I’m reading lots while I’m unemployed, but buying books just isn’t feasible. I bought a kindle, which I mentioned on my blog. And I discovered my library has Ebooks! After figuring out where the place was, parking in the wrong spot and getting honked at in the parking lot–I am now connected after getting a library card! 

While I do miss holding a book, the trip to and from the library would be too much for me at this point of my weary journey. Maybe instead I can save the trips for some of the events they have there. 

And hopefully someday, when my spirit is stronger, I will venture forth again through the stacks…

Ooo Fire!


My new toy.  Because I was spending too much time watching Prime videos and not enough time reading, it was time to rectify the situation. In fact, I love to read! But returning books to the library or buying them all the time wasn’t feasible. This was the perfect solution. 

Soon I will be fully unemployed again  (sigh) with too much time on my hands. So in between looking for jobs and my usual routine, I can squeeze in some reading. I’ve already knocked off three books.

And I will go get a library card and check out their electronic loaning system. Apparently I can download them to my Fire?! Perfect. 

So, if I am digital, at least I’m not simply wasting my time for hours just watching movies. I’m also trying to volunteer at a nature preserve….

Hopefully my brain won’t just frizzle up into a ball of mush while I’m home.

Permanence


When were kids we expected the world to fall at our feet and for everything to go our way. We didn’t know that were supposed to work at some things to make them happen, or for them to be right because we were the center of the Universe and everything else revolved around us and our needs.

Ahhh, if only it could still be like that……

But, alas, this is not so when we grow to be adults. Unfortunately we learn, sometimes the hard way, that we must work (often with much effort) to make our lives come out the way we hope. The plans may be laid thoughtfully either in our minds, or even very carefully in real-time, and still end being tripped up when they come to fruition.

This may be due to any number of factors: our ‘dream’ may not be what we had quite imagined it to be or maybe some monkey wrench gets thrown in to burst our bubble after our tidy plans were hatched. Either way we can be hit we a huge wave of disappointment, which may turn into sadness, depression or even anger–anything but the joy, happiness and excitement we had been dreaming about.


For me I had experienced something like this with my move from the North where I had been for so many years to the South where I am now. It was a huge decision and took a long time to decide to do. There were many factors that made me chose to come, some pushing me from the northern end, and others pulling me from the south. So when the move finally came: I felt more than ready!

But after I had been here for some months and found myself away from my friends, my home, leaving a career I had for many years, in unfamiliar surroundings–suddenly I found myself second guessing myself. I was scared, down and leaning on my Mom a lot.

I’m not sure what the turning point was for me –when I realized that the world, this place  I was now living in, was not going to come to me. I did know that one reason I came was because I didn’t want to be miserable anymore! It was for change, not more of the same.

So, when I heard on NPR about a book called: “This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live” by Melody Warnick and the interview with the author, it gave me a whole new perspective on my dilemma. I have not nearly completed it, but it made me realize that I’ve barely given this place a chance, and that I personally have done nothing to make this place home.


While I’ve been grumbling and seeing all the negative, life has been passing me by here. All the good reasons I came have still been here and I’ve ignored them and focused only on the negative. When I changed my mindset at work and decided to love it there, things got so much better. It seemed time to do that with living here too.

In discussing this with my Mother, who has been my constant companion and confidant here, we decided that buying a condo, rather than renting–could possibly be a better option. Prices are high for rentals and many are such bad options. For me, I know that it’s all about mindset more than anything. Feeling more permanent here and a part of the community is what I may need, rather than feeling like a drifter. So I’m at least looking at a few places. Who knows if it’s possible, but it gives me hope anyway.And hope is a powerful tool.

The bottom line is that a main reason I came was to be closer to my Mom and I am very lucky to be near her. She has been steady when I’ve been unsteady. It’s been hard to express how strange it’s all felt at times, but she’s done her best to understand. She’s my rock and I’m so grateful to have her close after so many years.


So maybe I’m not a kid anymore and can’t have the world falling at my feet, but I try my hardest to make my world positive. And as long as I’m here and have my Mom around, I’ll still be her kid and she does the best she can to make my world the best it can be.

The Next Decade


As I boldly step into this sixtieth decade, where this woman has never gone before, I sense it will be an interesting one. I already know that I will be experiencing things that have never happened to me before, and portray roles unknown to me. This is both scary and exhilarating at the same time!

Ten years, while it may seem like a long time, can quickly speed by. The last ten certainly did and brought with them so many ups and downs. While I can’t ignore the past decade and its emotional pitfalls spattered with the not as memorable good snapshots, I’ve decided to do the sensible (and recommended) thing and live in the now.

So that even means not looking too far down the road of the next decade, although there are enjoyable moments where I can’t help it. Hey, my kids are all off doing their own things now, I’m single by choice, my health is good and I have a great imagination! Why not, then, occasionally dream about what may be in my future? All the fun places I might chose to live, or a new career choice, people I may meet, my future creations…the possibilities are as big as my mind.

But we don’t get there except by living day by day. And I plan to make each one of those days as satisfying as I can. My plan is to stay healthy and positive, remain open to new ideas and keep learning/reading/researching. With all these things, maybe the next decade will be decent. I’m not reaching for the moon, just a good walk on this troubled earth.

Most of all, I want to remember to be in the now, breathe and stay in constant touch with the world around me. Hopefully this may help to slow the next 10 years a tiny bit.