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.

Advertisements

Poem: Speak Sweet


His words then

ring ring

true today

the voice that

speaks sweet

only time can solve race injustice

some said to him

It has not

Black ghost

talking before us

still

unheard

in winters of delay

When will The Dream come true?

destinies of Negro and White man tied together

Rip the bonds of inequality

and weave nets strong enough

to catch us all

as we come together

through time

 

Note: I am spending today listening to Martin Luther King Jr speeches, especially some I have never heard before. The words in italics are his.

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.

 

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.

Don’t Fight The Good Fight


Do you remember the old song that had the lyrics: “I fought the law and the law won”….

Well, I sort of feel like this…not exactly that I have been fighting the law, but a similar looming entity in America that, to me at least, now just feels like a gigantic monster that no longer has the capabilities, abilities or desire to do what it originally was set up to do.

Can you guess?? It’s health care. For months now I have been trying to schedule a routine mammogram and have been getting nowhere. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I have been lead down the dark alleyways of jargon, insurance codes, doctor referrals (or refusals to do so), authorization and the inability of one organization to speak to another –therefore leaving me, the patient, in the middle….

….With no idea what anyone is talking about. I’m in the unfortunate situation of being on Obamacare (or not, depending on how you see this), so the waters become very murky;more shady than usual. No doctors take it where I live, so most everywhere I go is an out-of-pocket expense.  I have it mostly for my one medication. But my understanding was that a routine mammo was covered…. So, I was determined to GET it covered!

After fighting with my doctor, and central scheduling, then trying Planned Parenthood, then central scheduling again, then speaking with Blue Cross at least three times and getting three different stories (all of this over and over)…. and this all after having three appointments scheduled and canceled over a period of months—I decided enough.

Healthcare? I was losing my mind. This all was causing me so much stress; I couldn’t sleep. I’ve had a concern too and really needed this mammo yet was getting nowhere! Only two people I spoke to on this entire messed up journey were actually sympathetic. Most either could barely speak English or just read off a script, and contradicted each other. One I actually spoke to her manager to compliment her because I had to talk to her so many times; she at least seemed to care.

So finally, I made a decision because I could see the fight was leading me to a dead-end and draining me of energy. It would be yet another out-of-pocket expense… I would just have to pay for the thing myself. And miraculously I had an appointment the next day!

I guess the moral of the story is that they wear you down until you succumb. Maybe this is part of the plan now. Read the small print…. If they can drive you crazy and stress you out bad enough over enough years, maybe you will die sooner.

So anyway, I fought the healthcare system and I lost bad….

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Honey, I’m Home!


Recently I was watching a video (a funny one) that was on one of the late night shows about how there are these Robots with AI that are being used for certain ‘relationships’ I won’t really get into here. I’m not sure if it was real or humor in response to all the out pouring of sexual harassment allegations that have hit the news lately. In any case, it was a moment’s pause where laughing was medicine in an otherwise very un-funny situation.

But the whole idea made me think. Having been a single woman for a very long time, I wondered about the concept of Robot companions–not at all in the way that this particular video mentioned, but maybe more like an R2D2 sort of way. Could this be a possibility for the future? Our own home companions or partners?

I mean, let’s face it: I’ve “been there, done that” and bought every possible T-shirt for trying to date and find the right person for me. Over the course of years I’ve been single (and I’ve actually lost count now of the years), and the stories I could tell about the weirdos I’ve come across on the websites would make hanging out with a machine seem like heaven. Humans are scary and/or boring.

Picture it: instead of pouring through 100’s of  old photos and fake profiles of humans, you could simply pick out which Robot best suits your needs; short, tall; human looking (creepy) or not; male voice, female voice; appendages or just lights. Then, you could have the AI programmed to whatever things you enjoy or are interested in–think of all the data that could go in there. No more dates with someone who is clueless! Ah the dinner discussions!

Honestly, I’m not so interested in much of an emotional attachment anymore, although some of these Robots you see in movies are pretty darn cute, way cuter than some of the people I’ve tried to date! It’s all about communication anyway at my age, or maybe even helping out around the place. So if you read a good book together, you could discuss it. Or maybe go to a movie together. There could be special all terrain Robots built for hiking too.

The possibilities are really endless here. Robots are filling in so many areas of our lives anyway, why not becoming part of our family? Yes, I understand there is a bit of a spooky part of it; the whole bit of them taking over the world, infiltrating our homes and getting smarter than we are (which isn’t a stretch really). Sure, this could certainly happen…

But before they do decide to take over, having a companion that’s smart, reliable, predictable, neat, sympatico and maybe even agreeable would be such a nice change. And maybe having one on your side might just be an advantage when push comes to shove and Robots gain power over us.

Because, if there are bad ones, then there will be good ones, and they will be the ones we shared our homes with and loved.

Poem: Choices


Howling thoughts in my head

lying awake in my bed

my soul is filled with silent dread

Walking in the night alone

the trees can’t speak but can only moan

it seems the world is stripped to bone

Figures hide behind every door

and seeing kindness is no more

times of love have turned to lore

Where has all the beauty gone

the lovely eve and blazing dawn

humans now are all just pawns

They had the chance to save the earth

to clean their mess and show their worth

and instead of killing choose re-birth

But time slipped on and they lost their way

most figured it would happen on another day

so in the end sweet home was left to pay

***

In my mind I know this is not yet true

yet slight is the chance to make it new

bring back life to this planet blue

As time is running out for you and me

for every animal, bird and tree

It’s all our jobs to set us free