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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Distraction


Tis the season for jing a ling and tra la la. Lots of shopping and running around. Too much Christmas music, tinsel and glitter or gathering for Hanukkah gelt and food of all kinds. Or whatever your holiday is, this is the time of year for…well, distraction.

Many of us may find much of this holiday season annoying: too much traffic, too many crowds, too much stuff and just plain too much consumerism. The holidays seem to have gotten away (in most cases) from what they were really supposed to mean and what all the symbols are meant to represent. I bet in many cases folks don’t know anymore. It’s just become: buy, buy, buy and rush, rush, rush and what’s on sale. They may know the basics, but unless you are deeply entrenched within your religious community, it’s all just Hallmark nonsense.

It’s exhausting and sad and often stressful.

But this was the first year I had an insight to it all.  Because the world has become such a harsh place and each year it only seems to get worse, maybe we all need this nonsense. Between the natural disasters and man-made horrors of the world, I truly believe we all suffer, on some deep level, from a global/connected/deep-seeded depression. Most of the time when we tune into what ever we tune into (our preferred media source), it’s some new calamity bombarding us. All year-long we must endure hearing about our fellow humans suffer, or our planet dying or animals being exterminated. It’s a wonder any of us get out of bed at all.

And then, along comes the holidays. Time for our own little fantasy world of tinsel and glitter, pretty lights and toys. And even magic and a crazy man, elves and reindeer bringing happiness to the whole world. And even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you may still have your own holiday celebration within your own religious belief; one that brings your family together, one where you can remember better times and get time off from work.

All these holidays have one thing in common: they help us remember our past, not only our personal one when we were young and things were simpler and maybe happier; but our human past. That’s why they were celebrated in the first place; to acknowledge an important event in history.

And the days when many of us are celebrating our respective holidays on those special days specifically set aside for these historic days from our past, we are not thinking about all the terrible things going on presently that usually occupy our minds. This may be the most important gift of all.

For those precious moments at least, we can let our hearts and souls fill instead with the sounds of our families, children and homes (after the rush and stress have died down). The smells of cooking, the visits from those we haven’t seen, the familiar decorations all give a sense of well-being and safety. These feelings may be rare for us these days. So we lap it up in the swell of the holiday tide. This is the part we take for granted, the feelings, but this is the part of life we are missing every day in this painful world. This is what the holiday season gives us.  Positive feelings.

So, for the first time in many years, I say: go ahead and enjoy. Play the incessant Christmas music. I get all the lights and sparkly stuff.  Sure, I would still rather people not buy so much ‘stuff’ because it’s not good for the world, but I do understand better why they do…it’s for the feelings they produce. But mostly, I just understand the whole ‘thing’ of the holidays more this year: instead of global depression, it’s global jublilation.

Maybe that’s why they call it a magical time of year.

The Best Life


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While almost everyone I know is most likely surrounded by friends or family celebrating one holiday or another, I am home contemplating my life and current situation…by myself.

You see, I am search of a new job again because last Friday my manager informed that I was too slow at my tasks. Since it’s a holiday I won’t bore you with the details, because complaining is not what this post is about. Rather, it’s about life, goals and hopes.

When I had explained to one family member what happened, she had put the blame on me, as though I was somehow inadequate. That I am always finding fault in everything and can’t stay put. Of course, me being me, I immediately thought this was correct: that yes indeed I’m a failure and I blew it once again.

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But luckily, I spoke with two other people who were more understanding: My Mom and another dear and wonderful best friend, who put the record straight. They reminded me that the goal in life should be satisfaction, whatever the cost. If it means giving up little piddly jobs, then so be it. If it takes months and months to find the right one, then fine. Sometimes good things take sacrifice and soul-searching. These things aren’t always handed to us, and because of this they are all the more sweet.

Leaving my home in the North and coming here took lots of sacrifice and maybe there is more to be had in my future. To attain the best life, one must persevere and not just give up and settle. How often do we do this because we feel we must? We put up with crappy jobs or miserable relationships or live in awful conditions because we are too fearful or don’t feel we deserve something better. How easily I had been convinced it was my fault that these jobs didn’t work out?

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The world is changing in my opinion. Others don’t try as hard as I do because my expectations are high. In fact, they have always been higher than others. So therefore I often get dashed expectations. It’s painful, but when they are met, I am the luckiest person in the world. Do I lower them just because others can’t lift up to a place of caring and worth? I’m afraid not. I’ll deal with the pain and disappointment. If we have high expectations, then if we’re lucky maybe we’ll get to the middle of them; if we have lower ones, then where will we end up?

So this holiday season my gift is that I realized that it’s OK to aim for the best life and not feel guilty or ashamed. It may not be someone else’s idea of a ‘best life’, but it will be mine. I know what it is and what it will mean to me and hopefully someday this dream will come true!

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Memories….


 

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A quiet night here…just remembering holidays past. Snow and cold and kids. Nothing like that now.

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No warm fires, or decorations or happy voices…or mad wrapping…

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Nope, those days are long gone. And only memories to cherish as my Christmas gift. And thank goodness for those!

 

 

The Oldest


The other day I received a wonderful surprise in my mailbox. It was a late holiday gift from my oldest daughter. There were a couple of gifts, including a great picture of her with her boyfriend and a lovely necklace. It also contained an amazing card.

You all may say: well, this isn’t so amazing–a daughter sending her Mother some gifts and a card for the holidays. What’s the big deal? But you see, it is a big deal–for a number of reasons.

Yes, many daughters and mothers have their issues, and my oldest and I are no exception. She had some pretty rough issues as a teenager and I ran myself through the mill wondering how much had been my fault. We became pretty distant because of them too. But she’s not a kid any more, closer to 30 than 20 and as my mother has been saying for years: by the time she’s 30 or so, things will change. It was hard to believe…but now I am beginning to think it may be so.

She got through her tough times pretty much on her own. Moving far from home and scratching out a life (with help from me and my ex too), and is now an amazingly successful young woman. It has been an incredible thing to watch. But the really beautiful thing to experience has been the slow and steady mending of our relationship. For this is what I have truly mourned.

So when I received these personal items…a necklace–a piece of jewelry, something she hasn’t given me for years and years, I was so touched. And the saying that went with it was clearly thought out and matched with where I am in my life right now, something she clearly sensed. In fact, I wore it to my new job today, feeling rather lost and unsure. For it is a tiny compass and reads:

“Go confidently in the direction of your Dreams”

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And so I shall….

You all can see what the card says on the outside, but inside my baby wrote:

“Dearest Mommy! I’m so proud of you for following your dreams & finding happiness. I love you always and forever.”  H

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In most cases it’s supposed to be the Mommy saying these words to the kid, but this kid has already followed her dreams and gave me the inspiration to follow mine. And well, that last line…if I ever doubted her love before it seems I may have been imagining things. One thing I do know: I never stopped loving her…and I never will.

 

Christmas 2015


As I lay in the heat of my tropical bed last night, listening for the jingling of Santa’s reindeer–I thought about how I just couldn’t get into the Christmas spirit this year. Not physically anyway. It just didn’t feel right somehow to drag what little I brought with me, and garnish my apartment, only to look out and see palm trees and feel 80 degree weather. Nope, does not compute as we used to say… The only thing that looks remotely “Christmas” are some cards sent to me that I did decide to put out.

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Christmas past

So I thought about what defined this particular holiday for me, especially since I’m not Christian. I certainly have celebrated it, along with the other teeming throngs of stressed-out Americans. So I started to make a list, a list of what was missing this year that made it feel all wrong and why I simply let it slip by instead:

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  • The mad wrapping of presents for my daughters, both as kids and when they were older, both with and without a husband.
  • My famous stocking stuffers, (which always included a whoopee cushion), each one wrapped and sometimes filled 3 stockings a piece.
  • A morning run or walk in the cold, maybe with snow–other neighbors bundled or shoveling.
  • Endless Christmas music in the stores.
  • Santa everywhere you went.
  • My friends.
  • Sending and receiving special gifts (money was tight this year).
  • Hearing The Messiah being performed.
  • Seeing The Nutcracker with my daughter.
  • Children everywhere.
  • The warmth of my home on a winter’s day.
  • Either a day off or filling in for someone with small kids.
  • The knowing that spring will eventually come.

These are some that were missing.

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My wonderful home

I went for my walk here on Christmas day. It was strangely quiet. I imagined everyone inside with their families. It made me think about this global thing that happens today. It’s really quite amazing when you think about it. Everyone, everywhere doing the same thing.

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Imagine if people could put that energy, the money spent, toward other things? Say even half of it. If there was a day, like Christmas, where the whole world concentrated on world hunger, or world peace, or global warming or violence against women or racism. If everyone took the energy they take preparing for this holiday, took the money they spend on it and put it towards one of these things…? What if….??

Do you think Jesus would mind?

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Winter Solstice 2015


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And now the days grow as the Winter Solstice visited with the longest night.

The turning of the wheel continues its infinite progression towards the Equinox. It leaves tracks of glittering dust left on Mother’s skin.

Days will gather light while seedlings rest under dark and quiet earth. We pull the cloak of contemplation around weary winter waiting.

The candles are lit. Bring the sun to the longest night. In caves, in huts, in circles, in forests –draw down the light and return again. The light, the warmth, the green!

This we’ve asked, sung, chanted, drummed and danced in hopes that we continue to be a part of the never-ending cycle.

Blessed Be!

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