Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hardened

My body and heart began aching in November.  It seems that a month centered around giving thanks also has given much pain.

Like a daisy bobbing its head above the weeds, I've waved in the wind and turned my face upwards.  But the weeds are choking me now and I find my sunny nature hardening.

Physically, excising one's old lymphocytes in the hopes for better ones has been exhausting and I know that is affecting my disposition.  But before that, I watched my country stab itself and its democraZy directly in the eye and elect a demagogue.  Adding pain to the wound was the acknowledgement that far too many of my friends, family, and fellow citizens are incredibly selfish.

November finished itself with the anniversary of a dear one's death and anew, the death of another for which I could offer no comfort...can't fly until those stupid lymphocytes regrow to protect me from the germs of the masses.

Hardened.  How can flowers grow in dry soil beset with so many weeds?  Wilted.




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hatefulness Hanging in the Wash

Because of my unexpected health crisis, I find myself trolling the internet far more than usual.  And it's not pretty.

Now that we've flung open the windows to our personal bias, we're looking at everyone's stained laundry and cringing.  It's being hung out to dry in social media and it's shocking.

Ignorance is more cool than intelligence.  Yes, that means I've also been ignorant.  I've disregarded the flurry of Tweets, FB posts, and Instagram pics that are based on pure propaganda from family and friends.  I've told myself over and over again, everyone has a right to their own opinion.

And that is the crux of it.  The hatred and untruths that I see spewed aren't coming from well thought out opinions.  They're coming in the forms of  mindless re-tweets, FB sharing, and "like"s for memes that offer up another person's opinion.

What has happened to make people so lazy...or maybe they're just dazed?  Has fact-checking become too inconvenient or is it too painful?  We tend to see what we want to see and use our personal bias to hide from the rest.  So I'm guilty.  I've chosen to blind myself to the hateful rhetoric that's being vomited from people that I thought I knew.  It's disheartening and it goes beyond politics now.  It's the cutting comments toward another's religion, race, sexual preference and nationality and the passive-aggressive flaunts that say "there is only one way and it's my way" that shock me the most.  

I used to ponder why my ancestors would leave their home countries?  In my imagination, I see what they faced from an historical perspective:  Huguenots fleeing a spiteful king, the Dutch seeking greater financial opportunity, the Irish becoming indentured servants leaving behind starvation, and the Scandinavians...they, being the conquerors.

Instead, I'm pondering if they couldn't bear watching their family and friends turn into strangers when confronted with the stress of a changing society.  

We don't have to move to a different country.  We can move to a different city, state, or region.  We can limit our contact so that those old memories are more prominent than the ugly truths thrown at us in the guise of social media.  

We can also close the windows and pull in our stained and dirty laundry.  




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Opened Hand Love

Opened Hand Love

When I feel weak
                I want to run from you
When I feel weak
                I try to forget us
When I feel weak
                I hide in front of you
But
                I face my fear
Because you strengthen me
                I remember our love
Because you wait for me
                I do not fly
Because your hand is open
                                                And
                That is love
                That is us
                And me is we
                I am you

                We are free
                In open love

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I Hope My Children Call Me Stupid One Day

Listening to the presidential candidates after the Iowa Caucus reminded me of my youthful folly supporting past inadequate nominees.  It reminded me that I had heard their rallying cries, had seen their enthusiasm and been crushed by their losses or indiscretions.

I want my young adult children to be politically active (at least knowledgeable) because I know that ALL politics are local and crap eventually rolls downhill wherever one stands.  My advice, "Have a voice in who delivers the crap and perhaps all of it won't land on you!"  Some believe that corruption, inaction, and idiocy go hand in hand with government yet without having some trust in it, this country would disintegrate.  Use that four letter word and VOTE every time it is offered.

Revolutions are messy, usually deadly, and most fall flat.  Arab spring?  It ended up flooding the region with false hopes.  But will the believers stop?  No.  They may be suppressed for a while but their children will observe, learn, and find their own protest strategy.  Energy for freedom always resurfaces. For the sake of humanity, may that generation of children call their parents "stupid" when their own efforts succeed.  May those parents live long enough to accept it laughingly and say, "You're right!  We were stupid when we did it BUT we're happy you kept trying."

Knowing better.  We preach that if a habit goes on long enough, it takes longer to break.  As a country formed by revolt, a people emboldened to rise up again and again when suppressed, I hope my children call me stupid one day for some of my beliefs and actions.  That will mean they KNOW better.

A simple photo inspired my thoughts.  What a great idea!  It's a much better option to give fruit to a child versus a cookie in the grocery store if we're trying to teach them to live healthier.  To my future grandchildren, "Yea, we really used to let our kids eat stale cookies but now they only give fresh fruit!"  :-)





Free the Teachers!

In response to an article that a friend shared on FB, I simply had to rant!

How To Raise a Creative Child

This is EXACTLY what is wrong with standardized testing as a goal...teaching the "rules" over and over doesn't allow a child the space to develop other "rules" that may help mankind push forward to new thinking. How in the world can we expect our kids to be innovative if all we ask of them is to relearn old facts? Instead, letting them have information access via their libraries, etc allows them to expand their thinking from others' creations and experiences. Teaching them how to "teach themselves" will let them delve into topics that may seem inconsequential to us but could change their young lives forever.
Yes, they should be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, civics, the arts but only to a point. Controversial? No, because generations before us were given these tools and did great things. To have access to the world's information via computers and ask kids to memorize miscellaneous facts about an obscure historical event, a rarely used mathematical formula, even my beloved poetry...ridiculous. Memorization is valuable because it can increase the synapses in developing brains...but why aren't we letting them memorize what they're passionate about?
Once they've mastered essential tasks, shouldn't we let them with their parents' input personalize their educational experience? How many "gifted" kids have languished in middle and high school because they can't pursue a passion. Once we have their trust, we can expose them to the intricacies of certain subjects. Engineering, more recent history, music beyond an instrument but via their laptops...if we let them, students will excel at something. And if they excel, they'll trust themselves to EXPLORE other topics that we can facilitate.
I truly sense that we're at a tipping point. Our educators want/need to follow their instincts and let children latch onto to their own talents. They ought to have space in their classrooms to guide these young minds and instead, they're mandated to make their students "learn" what others feel is important, pass tests that huge conglomerates create.
Those days are done. The public education system will continue to languish regardless of the money we pour into it if we follow this path. Home schooling would be hard for the masses...we pay taxes so that our children can come together and develop socially, create with others, and be guided by teachers to discover their own gifts.
Overhaul of the education system? Recreating the education wheel? No, it could be as simple as it once was...teaching students essential skills and giving them tools to hone their own skills. Vocational school? Yes. Technical schools? Yes. Artistic endeavors? Yes. Under one roof? Yes.
Standardized testing? Occasionally to make sure kids leave with the life skills of reading, writing, and calculating what they need including their own finances and civic responsibility so that they understand how the government that works for THEM should be working together.
Sorry, not sorry for the long rant.... I had teachers who were allowed to guide me toward self expression. And what a good job they did!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Death Squad

 My recent experiences at a nursing/rehab center for the elderly haven't been easy to process.  Although I observed my mother give great care to her parents as they drifted into those situations, I still didn't appreciate the scope of how it takes over one's life.  Her care giving was monumental and without lapse; her sacrifices were never laid at our feet as martyrdom.  Instead, she went about the daily task of caring, worrying, and taking on responsibilities that the rest of the family couldn't imagine.  I couldn't imagine until these last few weeks.

If someone needs a caretaker from the family, it tends to fall on the ones who live nearest.  With today's mobile society, traditional family units have fractured.  Our belief that the internet helps us to closely monitor the lives of our loved ones is a misnomer.  It doesn't.  Without physical presence, it is impossible to know what is actually happening.  The nuances of body language, intuitive listening, and the simple act of observation are lost in cyber translation.  For the caretaker left behind, it's a struggle to convey how troublesome some events can be to those looking beyond.  Do they feel taken advantage of?  I'm sure it feels that way at times.  Do they feel unappreciated?  How could they not...the duties are often menial and appear thankless.  Instead, the far away family members get to preserve their own memories of the loved one.  They won't see them as weak or scared, angry and grouchy, or downright depressed at times.  Instead, they might see the grateful and happy patient who is thankful to have an infrequent visitor.  But the caretaker left behind deals with the daily struggles of their loved one.

I'm the last year of the Baby Boomer generation.  The Greatest Generation has mostly passed on and now we have a huge generation of aging individuals who aren't as closely connected physically with their loved ones.  Seeing Florida's large population of boomer retirees who are seemingly active and happy makes me wonder who will take care of them when their bodies and minds become weak.  As our society cobbles together government programs to protect the homeless, the elderly, those disadvantaged by illness or socioeconomic circumstances, it becomes ever clearer that we aren't having the conversations we need to have.

Not long ago, inflammatory pundits decried the efforts of healthcare initiatives wanting to begin the discussion of what the process of dying and DEATH means to each person.  Yes, I'm saying it loudly...DEATH!  By speaking up, I'm speaking forward.

Political harpies did not want to discuss it because they felt it would be the beginning of Death Squads.  Their definition...purposefully ending the life of someone for the good of caretakers.
What caretakers?  The government?  The conglomerate health care industry?  Themselves?

When I had young children, I set about learning as much as possible so that I could make informed decisions for their physical, social, and mental well being.  No need to call me a helicopter parent...I was a "space shuttle" parent.  Knowledge is power and I wanted to give them the tools available.  By asking if they wanted me to intervene on their behalf and then hearing an adamant "NO," my two wonderful children have taken on their own struggles and are learning their own lessons.  Yet I know in their upbringing, their father and I have instilled the value of KNOWLEDGE.

Now at this new stage of my life, seeing my contemporaries deal with the illness and subsequent death of loved ones, I seek knowledge.  I seek power behind the facts, strength in the steps of transition, a commitment of peace after doing all that can be done to slow the drumbeat of death...if that is what the person wants.  And if I hear an adamant "NO," then I'll step aside.

Death squad?  Yes...a squad of helpers to assist patients in making their own decisions.  Yes, a cadre of friends to help each other as events spiral out of our earthly control because I'm learning that DYING is as out of control as giving birth...nothing goes as planned.  I can be a "space shuttle" parent, friend, child, and partner.






Saturday, November 14, 2015

Refraction

My generation is experiencing loss.  We are mostly at the midpoint of a centenarian life; I like to think we'll live another healthy 50 years if we want.  Unfortunately, that means our parents and other family members are growing older too, passing away in greater numbers as life's cycle continues.

Watching my dear friends go through this in 2015 has been heartrending.  The roller coaster of illness, hospitalizations, disability, relocation and for some, death foretells a future that I don't want to consider for my own family and yet, I know it must come to pass.

Writing helps me process what I see and feel when confronted with these painful passages.  Because I've been an onlooker rather than a participant, I've observed a commonality between the ill/dying loved ones and their grief stricken family members.  Each exists in an emotional/physical fog as they struggle to find a safe path through this passage.

I'm imagining the intimate connection of how two loved ones must say goodbye.  Each is on their own journey...one processing their own demise, one processing the demise of their loved one.  Regardless of who is around to support them, no one but themselves can walk the path and understand the passage.

They are each other's light passing through a fog, a refraction of love and a reflection of life and death.

refraction:  the fact or phenomenon of light, radio waves, etc., being deflected in passing obliquely through the interface between one medium and another or through a medium of varying density 
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REFRACTION


I sit alone
A chair of hard wood and straight back
I sit alone
Time rushing, unchecked
Others see life, a purpose not lost,
Harder for me, adrift more than most

I gaze alone
A cavern of dark thoughts and cold moments
I gaze alone
Thoughts seizing, now frozen
Others feel warmth, flames newly lit
Harder for me, scared I still sit

I rise alone
A rock of limestone and sand
I rise alone
Legs trembling, knees stiff
Others walk forward, time still unspent
Harder for me, not knowing my strength

I step alone
A foot dropped in great pain
I step alone
Heart broken, life stained
Others flee sadness, but it fills me whole
Harder for me, chasing dreams then my soul

I float alone
A welcome thick fog
I float alone
Grief stricken, but calm
Others call to me, beloved on each side
Harder for me, I’m saying goodbye