Gratitude

Shot-Tec-Thank-YouI sometimes post this video to Facebook on my birthday. I think I may have blogged it before… but this time I forgot to post it anywhere! Anyway, another birthday has come and gone (about a week ago now), and as ever, I remain deeply grateful to be alive.

What I love about the song is that it richly exposes some of the things that can bring us to new places. For example:

Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

Terror, disillusionment, frailty, consequence and silence are among the many gifts my many years have given me. Where would I be without them? How we love to celebrate strength and victory, but there is a treasure that we can mine if we go deep into the shadowy spaces.

With the song on my mind and gratitude on my heart, with Thanksgiving a few days away, I thought this would be a nice way to begin the week. Thank you for reading and following my blog. Postings have been sparse, but I’m still here. And so are you! Thank you!

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Get out the vote!

keep-calm-and-go-vote-1920-1080To all of my readers in the US – please go and vote today. It does not matter if your only local elections are for dog catcher and coroner. Our votes always matter. I believe that local elections are what truly matters anyway… change (or lack of it) starts in town councils, school board elections, county elections, state, and so forth. As Americans we tend to get all fired up in the two years prior to a presidential election and apathetic (or smug) during the other two years.

Think of voting as an exercise. The more you do it, the more likely you are to do it. Think your vote does not count? Think again, it does.

Not sure of the issues? Check independent resources such as The League of Women Voters is a good one. You can find your local league easily to learn about local issues. Follow the candidates; if they are already in office, check their voting records and positions. And whatever you do, whatever your partisan preference is, don’t use cable television as a way of feeling too informed. I don’t care if you watch Fox News or MSNBC, they each have their own agenda. Watch it, but press into more independent resources to learn. Newspapers such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post are good examples. I’m not going to link to all these sources, you know how to find them.

I think that we can all agree that Facebook and Twitter have their limitations in the matter of influencing elections… enough about that.

Many of us are overburdened, overextended, stretched to our limits. A lot of people count on that to make sure we do not raise our voices and our power as voters in a democracy.  When I get home tonight and realize that I forgot to vote I might think, “no way am going out again, I’m too tired!” And then I remember that there are people who walk for days in other parts of the world, just to cast one ballot. Or that people have died risking their lives to make democracy real in other places. And that people have died to for THIS democracy. How does one not get up and go vote after that?

So please – go vote today. And if you are not registered, tomorrow would be a good time to go and get registered. It is a privilege, let us not waste it. Our future depends upon it. Especially in off years like this one.

#metoo part infinity

MN0079706I’m back… yes, more #metoo is on my mind. Rather than saying part 1 or part 2, let’s just skip ahead and say part infinity. It kind of goes on forever.

Today the internet is lit up with the news that actor Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed an intern in 1985. There has been a great deal of surprise about this, including my own for about a second.

Honestly, I am talking to myself as much as I am talking to others as I say this… I think we should stop being surprised at learning some other person of note has committed some form of sexual harassment because it is so systemic.

Think about it, women were essentially chattel for a great deal of history, and remain so in many ways and places. A big part of the white nationalism movement goes beyond issues of race, color, ethnicity, and also seeks to return to a time when women knew their place. Zoom out – it is part of something much more significant, and we are all involved in it. This is why it is still a challenge for many women, let alone men, to use the term feminist. I myself avoided it for a long time, and it was not because I saw myself as some little lady.

As someone who is often seen as too demanding, too loud, too outspoken, too angry, too emotional, too strong willed, such a bitch and more, I have to always work to be self-aware. Am I being one or more of those things? Or is what I am doing just what I should be doing as a human being in the world. Let me tell you, far too often I rise up only to be cowed into some kind of shame that I am “too_____” (fill in the blank). For so much of my life I have just owned that too quickly, letting others off the hook.
 

Dustin HoffmanSexual abuse, rape, assault – these are crimes of power. Dustin Hoffman would not have said “I’ll have a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled cl*toris.” to an intern if he did not think he could get away with it. Worse yet, it probably wasn’t even thought out – simply a reflex given his position. That this was done in front of an entourage, and of course they all laughed hysterically only adds to the abuse.

One of the worst #metoo experiences I have is about a man who simply used the most disgusting descriptions of sexual acts as he tugged and pulled on a bottle of wine that he was trying to uncork at a company function. Some of our coworkers were no more than ten feet away. In a low voice he questioned what I might like to do or experience in terms of his struggle with the wine bottle using the most vile and explicit language.  Honestly, I was in one of the most senior management positions, higher than this man, but I was so shocked that I stood stock still. I do not think a single muscle moved in my body. Did I breathe? I don’t think I did that either. Honestly, I felt terrified although I knew then, as I knew now that this man would never lay a hand on me. Yet this language and these descriptions of what he imagined I might enjoy threw me. And as suddenly as it started, it was over. The wine was corked, he stood up (he had been a little hunched over) and smiled and walked away. I wanted to faint.

One of my first thoughts was “did I hear him correctly?” Of course, the reflex of many women is self-recrimination and blame. “Was I wrong?” was a nearly unconscious reaction. I turned to look at the rest of the room, people were filling up the place after an event. I felt as if I were out of time or in a dream sequence. On one side of the room I saw one of my employees, a woman. She was pretty wild and had had a lot to drink; I remember that I worried she would do something foolish. (She did… that is another story, file under #himtoo. It happens.) Anyway, I could not deal with any of it, so I quietly left and was about to walk back to my room. A friend came along and asked why I was leaving, so I told her. She couldn’t believe it but neither she – nor I – would have thought about reporting it.

The man was someone I had known for about 16 years give or take. He was not someone I would have imagined would do such a thing. He was drunk, and that was not entirely unusual for him or others at this function. It seemed to me that I sort of knew he was having some marital issues, but maybe that’s just because I now know that in reverse. But you see, in some way I was trying to get him off the hook.

Well a funny thing happened on the way to the HR department. As I noted, there was a #himtoo story having to do with my female employee and I was working with my HR person on that. She was a great employee, but also drank a lot and she was a very wild child in those days. We’ve lost touch, but I think she calmed down. Anyway, as I was casually speaking to the HR person, who was a friend, I mentioned what had happened to me that same night.

Well, guess what? She was kind of a mandated reporter. Just knowing about it casually meant she had to investigate it. I was horrified – and ashamed. One, I started to wonder if I had misheard him. Two, I felt ashamed because I just felt ashamed. Three, I did not want this to become a thing. (And we wonder why rapes are not reported?) Too late – things were going down.

Let us just say that of all the possible endings, it worked out well instead of truly awful. I can say this, I was in receipt of what I believe was an almost immediate and sincere apology from the other end. No serious actions were taken, and frankly, I think he was shaken to his bones over this. I did mention to him that he was a manager of young women and that he needed to be aware of his actions. Today I’m pretty glad I actually said that, regardless of how it might have turned out. I have no idea where he is today and while I do not wish ill upon him, I do not need to know.

Most of the stories do not turn out this way. Most of the stories leave us feeling angry, ashamed, or worse. I still have a number of those. But you know what, if nothing else, #metoo reminds me it is actually #ustoo. None of us are alone in this. And the fact that it is pouring out like water overflowing a dam is a good thing.

Expect more stories, don’t be surprised. It is not an excuse but the entire machine was set up this way. That goes a short distance to explain what most men should have known better about, but who consciously chose otherwise.

Here is a song to remind all of us who have been indeed – silent all these years. It makes me feel strong, but I also cry every time I hear it.

Continue reading

#metoo

downloadThis is a deeply personal post full of deeply personal information, including a great deal about sexuality and abuse and lived experience. I write it because within the past 36 hours #metoo has mushroomed on the internet. In case you have not seen it, #metoo is a movement of women (and some men) posting something to the effect of “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” I found that specific text on Alyssa Milano’s Twitter.  You can see it from the image posted. In any event, I do not post for pity or to elicit any feelings from you about me; I write because silence indeed equals a kind of death, acquiesced to in a horrible way.

When I saw it, I quickly posted my own #metoo on Facebook, and I was pretty bowled over by the response. Within hours I noticed that a super significant portion of my Facebook friends had either commented or posted their own #metoo status. It was kind of stunning to see it all at once.

While a supporter of speaking up, a gift that I lacked when I was younger and victimized, I also have mixed feelings about the movement. That said, I’m going to try to offer a few posts about the topic starting with why I feel that way.

Why the mixed feelings?
AAtnCgFWell, that goes back a day or two earlier to #womenboycotttwitter – that came from the actress Rose McGowan. In theory I agreed with her point, but I don’t use Twitter enough to make a difference. What struck me more powerfully was Ava DuVernay’s position on that movement.  She said, “Calling white women allies to recognize conflict of for women of color who haven’t received support on similar issues.”  She is absolutely correct as far as I am concerned. Along those lines, #metoo met with a surge of interest, and it makes me sad that issues that impact women of color do not come close with this kind of attention, or people of color in general. Which by the way illustrates the baseline problem, but that’s another topic for another day.  Let’s just say that I support #BLM and #takeaknee , and doing so does not mean in any way that I am anti-police, not at all. Moving on, hope to post more about that soon.

What happened?
Back to #metoo – mixed feelings aside, I felt a deep compulsion to be very clear about saying #metoo in regard to my own life. Challenges around boundaries Continue reading

Time flies!

Gosh, it has been almost a month since I last posted. My #caminoversary began and with it daily long form Facebook posts with lots of pictures. I’ve abandoned the poor blog temporarily. *sigh* I’ve also been trying to get more exercise, and do actual real life things. Like what, you may wonder… well, I saw my favorite Beatle in concert, Paul McCartney. I went to a football game. Met a social media friend that I have always wanted to meet. (Sorry no photos!) Went hiking in PA with my two friends. Visited theh desert. Stuff like that. I’m also doing a B/W photo challenge on Facebook, that’s kind of fun. I also read some books, a lot of magazines, did some art projects.

And I’m trying not to lose my mind over:

puertoricohurricanesfiresfiresfiresthatmaninthewhitehouse
churchdividespoliticalnightmaresgaloreworldchaosandallsortsofstufflikethat.

But it is hard.

Anyway, here are some photos. Back to living, more writing to follow.

Caminoversary

EDIT SJPP Waymarker Sept 17.jpgIt has been quite a year… I am at the one year anniversary of going on Camino Santiago. Once again, I thank everyone who supported me in various ways; materially, by walking with me as I trained, and always in prayer and love. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and my feet.

It is interesting to note that now that the anniversary is here, I am emerging. Something happened to me on Camino, not one thing, but it did what pilgrimage does, it set off a series of reactions within me. I’m not even sure how – or if – I will ever write about that, but I can say that I traveled down to the depths. Our culture is based on either denying, ignoring, fixing, and other meddling with these deep dark caves where transformation happens. I will say this much, had I needed medication or feared anything, I would have gone for it, I truly believe that. But no, and no red badge of courage here, I went down and stumbled around in the dark.

But guess what?!  Light is found, a tiny stillpoint of it is found once your eyes adjust to that place. God was there, I never doubted God even though I doubted a lot of other things. It was another pilgrimage, one that went deep within. Today I am grateful for the place I went, the place I stayed with God. It kind of sucked in a lot of ways, mostly that I gained a lot of weight. On the other hand, I can and will work on that, and I can never thank God for what now grows from that seemingly fallow, even dead, field in my heart.  Things are stirring!

For some this may seem too vague and creepy and you may worry about me. If this sounds confusing, I can only recommend reading and studying the work of Carl Jung, and shadow work.  I am being as clear as I can be, and I am doing really well, as happy as I have been in a long time. Along with that, I’m deeply grateful for my “second pilgrimage.”  Let’s see what lies ahead! In the meantime, buen camino one and all! Ultreia!

Help

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Found on Twitter: “Crystal Jaramillo and Trey Jones of Texas City say they’ve rescued about 22 people in their kayak.”

Whatever I might have said about anything else today has been swept away by Hurricane Harvey. A lot of what happened in the aftermath of Katrina had a lot to do with infrastructure issues, like the levees giving way, which in no way lessens the horrors. Harvey was just a full on beast of a storm that would seem to resist any definition.

I keep thinking of those who fled New Orleans after Katrina; many ended up in Houston. And many of that number stayed as they could not bear to return. And now this – how they must feel!

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So today, in addition to some photos that I have found that illustrate how we help one another, I will add some places to donate. My number one choice is always Catholic Charities USA or its local affiliate; it matters not, the funnel all empties into the same place. CC helps everyone, asking no questions of faith, only assessing need. And responding. When I say they help everyone, that means everyone.

If for some reason you do not wish to donate to them, here are two other alternatives, one Lutheran and one Episcopalian.  And I will add one more – the Jewish Federation. All have the same policies – no questions asked, other than to assess needs. Another group that will need donations is Habitat for Humanity… I suspect a lot of houses will need to be built.

Catholic Charities link is here.

ECLA link is here.

Episcopal relief link is here.

Jewish Federation link is here.

Habitat for Humanity link is here.

Whatever you do – please do something. Feel like your $5, heck – your $1 is not enough? Imagine if every person in the US gave $1 or $5! The results would be startling. And if you can do more… well, then please do more.

Whatever you choose this day, please do one thing. Help. Please.