Brain, Choices, Determination, spirit

Power Failure

bangkit-prayogi-cave

We saw everyone around us smiling and repeating “I’m fine! I’m fine!” and we found ourselves unable to join them in all the pretending. We had to tell the truth, which was: “Actually, I’m not fine.”

Glennon Doyle

It pulls in all the bad stuff: guilt, despair, shame, anger, disappointment, confusion, worry, exhaustion, and pain of all varieties. The ShopVac of Suffering. It sucks into its belly the cobwebs from the corners and the black mold from the basement and the decades-old crud buried deep in the carpet.

Engine growling, it whips this mix into misery soup.

Continue reading “Power Failure”

activism, Children, Learning, Writing

freedom as we have yet to know it

Urvashi Vaid

Progressivism is a spectrum; it’s not an ideology following one leader saying one thing. It’s many people who have very wildly diverging opinions about many things. But, as progressives, if we could commit to a general frame of reference that we are about improving the quality of life for a lot more people, we’re about helping working and middle-class people, and we’re about taking care of poor people, we could really make some inroads in political power in this country. But, if we choose to be purists, if we choose to be arguing for a consensus we will never reach, for agreement on every point, it’s never going to happen.
My son is drawing on a portion of this quote for a 7th grade English project. He is parked at his laptop, wrestling with his thesis statement. The current iteration goes something like this: Urvashi Vaid is dedicated to expanding LGBTQ activism to improve equity and justice for all marginalized groups, and this dedication is evident through her speeches, writing, and activism.

Continue reading “freedom as we have yet to know it”

Choices, Friends, Letting Go

the world is glimpsed through veils

glass sculpture ben young 3
Sea of Separation, Ben Young

Sometimes you sit in a room with someone who is doing something hard. You sit with them and let them do the hard thing. You sit with them not doing the hard thing for them. You sit there not answering the questions facing them unless the questions are some version of, “Can I do this?” The only answer you say out loud is, “You’ve done hard things before. Of course you can do this.” You offer them sips of water. You keep the glass filled.

Continue reading “the world is glimpsed through veils”

Children, Growing Up, Parenting

Sick Day

owl-reads-a-story
From A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2010)

Temperature pushing 100. Shaking, nauseated, dizzy, and a little green. He sleeps for nearly 13 hours, so motionless at daybreak I have to rustle the blanket to make sure he’s breathing. When I call the school, they tell me Flu B has been making it past the vaccine.

He sleeps on. Sometime after 10am, he creaks out of bed and shuffles to the kitchen with a blanket draped over his shoulders. I am parked at the dining table plodding through cut-rate wifi to VPN into work. As he passes, I look up at his sallow face and ask him how he’s feeling.

“Sick,” he rumbles, his voice dipping even lower than the adolescent tenor which is emerging with increasing frequency these days.

Continue reading “Sick Day”

activism, Brain, Change, Choices, Mindfulness, Take Action

Global Dissonance

tunis-muralfist

Maladapation or simply adaptation?

When experiencing cognitive dissonance, a person has two options. Three really, if remaining in a state of crazymaking incongruity counts as an approach. Assuming that easing the dissonance is the goal, however, you can go through one of two doors.

Door A is adjusting your beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, and values to fit the situation.

Door B is changing the situation.

Continue reading “Global Dissonance”

Art, community, Relationships, spirit, Take Action

Creative Sanctuary

Woodruff Girl Skipping Rope
Hale Woodruff (1900-1980), “Untitled (Girl Skipping Rope)” (c. 1959-60)
Photo: Joyner/Giuffrida Collection

When you open the news, do you find yourself tensing up? Or feel a pull to retreat to some warm, gentle space to catch your breath? Maybe it all would be more manageable if you could just get a hug. Or give one. Or a thousand of them.

This hunger for warmth has to be something more than a simple need for comfort. Yes, we need that too, especially when we carry real trauma. But it seems this urge to connect and catch breath has to do with knowing what’s at stake. We feel something turning. We sense what is roiling under there, the fury and sorrow and maybe even some kind of power that’s awakening under the surface. Something terrible, something very big.

Continue reading “Creative Sanctuary”

Family, Growing Up, Poetry, Relationships

Backstitch

thread fleur

The magnifying lamp on its swiveling neck,
bent glass thick as thumbs
guide her fingers to find the warp
and weft.
Putting off the inevitable.
Pretty much the whole story
from the moment we begin.
Don’t tell the kids this.
Let them lose their grip on immortality
the old fashioned way.

To outlive the sharp focus of adolescence.
We should all be so lucky.

Continue reading “Backstitch”

activism, prayer, spirit

The First Principle of All Existence is Utter Dependence

Santiago Mauro Mora

The discipline of gratitude reminds us how utterly dependent we are on the people and world around us for everything that matters. From this flows an ethic of gratitude that obligates us to create a future that justifies an increasing sense of gratitude from the human family as a whole. The ethic of gratitude demands that we nurture the world that nurtures us in return. It is our duty to foster the kind of environment that we want to take in, and therefore become.

– Galen Guengerich, “The Heart of Our Faith”

May gratitude carry us over the rocky places. May we remember to say thanks for the smallest gestures. For the simplest nourishment. For the hand. The comfort. The roof. The healthy parts.

Thanks to the fighters. The ones who take on the dangerous work. Who excavate the hidden graves. Conduct research on hunger, violence, trauma. Share their findings, speak the names, guide our practices. The eco-warriors. The anarchists. The witnesses holding vigil at the pipeline, at the refugee camp, at the courthouse. The cash bail activists, the public defenders, the protestors, the disruptors.

Continue reading “The First Principle of All Existence is Utter Dependence”

Love, Relationships

Water Creature

perdido key

After 35 years in California, my amphibious companion carries a constant coastal hunger. He’s made a valiant effort to downplay the oceanic pull during this first year in his newly adopted Virginia. He’s not fooling anyone. When we traveled to the Bay Area and south to Big Sur in June, proximity to the water awakened something primal in him. In near total solitude along a stretch of beach by Garrapata State Park on the Monterey coast, he frolicked like an adolescent sea otter.

Continue reading “Water Creature”

Art, community, Creativity, growth, Purpose, spirit

Let the World Spin

Farrell Eye Mural

The enemy does not live in you.

Your life is not your foe. Not your wounds or mistakes, not even the hurt you caused.

Not your temper. Not your failures. Not the paths you taken or those you’ve passed on, not your reckless love or your absent god.

The enemy does not occupy your mind. The enemy does not govern your chemical imbalance. The enemy never existed inside you. You didn’t let it infiltrate, storm the gates. You are innocent of that, if not of everything.

Continue reading “Let the World Spin”