Monday, December 31, 2012

Last News Round Up of 2012, many silver linings inside...

It's not a best/worst list, just literally the last News Round Up.  Unplanned, but these all have some lovely aspects, glittery silver linings.  Enjoy!

I can't tell you why exactly, but I am in love with this piece.  I had NPR streaming on the little guy when I caught this Sunday morning.  It is really worth the listen -- it is the story of one man and as such gives us glimpses of his many sides.  Lovingly made, perhaps that is what most appeals to me.

Everyday I am reminded that loss is a part of our lives ... that is, we can't escape it.  All we can do is remember well those we have lost.  This piece does that for this good man.  I want to say taken too soon, but right now it seems that is true for everyone.

There are many ways to give ... and though all should be taken that is given free, it is also true that gifts shouldn't hurt.  This piece leads too heavily with what seems like the rejection of a freely, and lovingly, given gift.  It is much more than that as it enlightens those who want to give to the greater impact of gifts, large and small.

I was blown over by this man's sense of loyalty and giving back.  I hope we will get some updates about his time in congress.

StoryCorps did not disappoint in its last installment.  This one demonstrates the power of one person to change our lives, and the importance of saying "thank you" in deeds and words.  If you are not regularly listening to these, what are you waiting for??

Friday, December 28, 2012

Spreading Christmas Cheer

As I look back on it, we might have been the most unlikely to be spreading holiday cheer, but there we were, up early to spend the morning feeding the needy of Las Vegas.  We weren't wearing red hats or reindeer ears.  My sister and I each wore green shirts that my niece asked about as we walked to the dining hall at Catholic Charities of Las Vegas.  "It's Christmas!" we bellowed at her -- not in a necessarily friendly way.

My sister and I had battled, again, the night before over something insignificant.  And I was awake most of the night alternately seething with anger and frustration or grieving the gaping hole that seems to be dividing us of late.  Hurting, and still trying to understand our loss, we are too often hurting those dear to us instead of offering each other succor.

She was right to think that I would want to participate in this volunteer project -- but through the night I considered telling her I wouldn't go as I tossed and turned.  In the morning, the sun was bright but the air was cold, and we didn't review the night's bitterness.  We just walked into the dining hall -- donned our aprons, hairnets and nametags.

It took me a while to survey the scene and start to catalog the kinds of volunteers that were gathered in the large hall, professionally appointed as though it were the dining hall of a company rather than a shelter.  It had been decorated with green and red table cloths, silver/glittery snowflake cutouts and menu announcements.  The plates, arranged professionally, carefully stored in hot boxes while a line of volunteer chefs, in restaurant wear donated from various places, waited to serve up more. 

There was the large group from my sister's company all in yellow t shirts, and the crew that works at CC, and others volunteers in couples, families, groups and some singletons.  In my section (4-red) there was one family with three generations represented.  There were also several couples and a few singletons.  The three of us singletons huddled at first, but soon got to know the others in our group in our 45 minute wait for the doors to open.

Over the course of the morning, one young man who thought I worked at his company (I was wearing the t shirt after all) told me he wished there were more opportunities like this.  He was genuinely and earnestly overwhelmed by the connection to others this kind of volunteering provided.  Others told me about getting on the list early to not miss out on serving on Christmas -- or having just done so on Thanksgiving.  One chef told me he doesn't have to sign up anymore, he's a regular.

I imagine the families that brought their children wanted them to see and connect with what Christmas might mean beyond presents. I know Dylan (our "12" year old water deliverer) responded to my question about how many Christmas gifts he'd received, "Two so far..."   It seems his family had planned to do that part of Christmas after spending four hours volunteering -- and he was doing it with gusto and really good cheer.  His mother reported he was moving as fast as he could to deliver the water, and with each bottle a fast and cheery, "Merry Christmas!"  After serving almost 200 meals in our section alone, he was looking wilted when I offered him some water.  He perked up and ran back to work after his grandma saw him taking a break.

The volunteer coordinator had admonished all to "look every diner in the eye" and welcome them.  I don't know if Dylan needed that admonition -- or any of the other volunteers for that matter -- but it was a good reminder that this gift is not just charity to a faceless person.  It is a gift of life, self, time, love, and connection between human beings.

Hours had passed before I realized that these were the happiest hours I have had in a long time.  I was enjoying random chatting with diners and volunteers alike.  I don't know if it was the single purpose of the job, or the feeling that the room was generating, but there it was - Christmas spirit.  There is something pure in giving of yourself, especially when there isn't any expectation of reciprocation.

But these folks had reciprocated in spades -- my sister told me that at her recycling and trash station, several diners had gone down the line thanking each volunteer for being there.  Many of the diners I served, stopped to look directly in my eyes and thank me for being there.  They said they knew how much work this was.  Others responded to my chatting and hand on their shoulders with wide smiles and witty retorts or short glimpses into their lives and challenges.

I should have thanked them... looking into their eyes, witnessing their struggle and their strength helped me gain a perspective that seemed to creep up from my feetPerhaps it wouldn't have been appropriate to tell them about my loss and how this time with them was filling the hole.

It's important to celebrate these bright spots, maybe it will help me to find more.  

I need to give Steve Lopez a shout out here -- I hadn't planned to share this story (I have so many drafts in the hopper).  But I was easing into my work by reading the paper online and decided to catch up on Lopez's columns.

I got about three paragraphs into this piece on Skid Row and the movie, Lost Angels, when tears were streaming down my face. I knew it was more than just the beauty of the story he was relating.  A few minutes later I was half way into this story -- and debriefing for myself this lovely experience.

I recommend the article -- it offers an important and impressive view of mental illness, the value and import of making real, human connection, and reminds us all that "there but by the grace of god."  Lopez, as always, shares their stories articulately and with an acute sense of their humanity and ours.  Looking forward to seeing Lost Angels! From their website:
Narrated by actress Catherine Keener, LOST ANGELS demonstrates how proactive approaches to homelessness–most specifically that of providing housing–are helping many to recover from mental illness and substance abuse and to find stability. For many, Skid Row is, improbably, the last place to find refuge and build a life of meaning, proving that sometimes home is where the help is.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

News Round Up, MishMash

A news round up is probably all I can produce for the moment.  Plus I have too many articles clogging my inbox right now.  Here goes...

Let's start light -- and hopeful.  Here's a story on one farmer's use of oregano oil instead of antibiotics in chickens.  Makes me want to try it -- and I almost never eat chicken.  I admire this farmer's approach -- but it makes me wonder *again* if organic food is a sustainable solution.  I always wonder if we could cultivate enough crops or raise enough meats to sustain the entire country.  Is this just another way of separating the have's and have not's?  But this article also made me wonder if having less really good for you food might potentially help us also to eat less... which we could certainly stand to do.  If we all needed less calories per day, could we supply them in a sustainable way that would also be antibiotic and pesticide free??

This story made me laugh and wince.  It reminds me of the time some of my *militant* friends and acquaintances tried to tell me that they do not participate in the capitalist system.  Hmmm.... yet they live and *work* in the US.  Well, in that same way, these folks are trying to create *floating* isolates that aren't *governed* by any nation.  Listen to it and tell me what you think.

In another odd citizen/state balance story, here's one that tickled me.  Apparently the federal government is trying to capitalize on its involvement in the American Indian Movement.  And by that I mean its ownership of Alcatraz which was occupied by AIM back in the 1970s.  It is fascinating on many levels - and long because it is the NYTimes.  ENJOY.

I am treading lightly into the gun control news frenzy for now... but it is impossible to ignore the fray.  Here's an early one from NPR about a conservative guy who says we should talk about it ... and Robert Siegel really presses Manchin on what the statements he's made mean.  When I have a little more space to process this, I am going to write more -- I can't even begin to address the craziness that is the NRA and their so-called "Press Conference" with no questions...yeah, we call that attention seeking.

Whenever I tell anyone that I study anthropology, they assume I am working on getting my Indiana Jones official hat and coat.  I am not saying that I wouldn't love those accoutrements! However, it is not my kind of anthropology.  I am not immune to the fascination about bones... so I was tickled with this story about being able to discern a community's level of compassion from their burials.

Just back from my Las Vegas Christmas -- there are many twinkling lights in LV, but I don't know how many are really Christmas-y -- I read this article and was reminded that there are all kinds of Christmas stories ... and that we are not the only ones who have ever been forced to make new traditions.  This family waded through Christmas for the first time as immigrants/refugees -- I guess that is different, but perhaps no less dramatic (I decided against traumatic).

There are so many ways that this article feels like a kick in the teeth.  We have worked so hard, many of us in different capacities across the country, to bring a more equity and access to college degrees.  And what do we have to show for it? Apparently not much.  This story from the NYTimes illustrates, through the story of three young women from Galveston, the pitfalls that remain to be filled if we are to bring some parity in educational opportunity and experience. I hope we won't come away feeling hopeless.

To end on a lighter note, here is an interesting piece on how a medieval monastery from Spain got rebuilt north of Chico.  Yeah... just read it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quote Thursday...a day early

Be truthful, gentle, and fearless.

As I look at this today, wearing my fearless necklace, I wonder if I shouldn't have saved it for the New Year Eve's post.  Perhaps I will work on my new word of the year by then.

I didn't mean to take a hiatus from blogging ... I started some drafts and thought I would have time over my "break" to write them up.  But, I never opened my computer.  Ten pounds it turns out I didn't need to carry.  But I had this ready to go for tomorrow.  So, I decided to go ahead and post it up.

I have many drafts to finish along with all the other work, I will get on it as soon as I can.

Friday, December 21, 2012


I am trying to apply compassion as much as possible when my schedule of things to do does not get everything (or anything) checked off...

Here is some other compassion for your day.  As this "santa" says, you have to believe.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Special Edition, Poetry Thursday: Yes, Virginia...

A favorite.  I am in need of some faith in love and generosity and devotion.
Long ... but worth every last word. Good as it was in 1897.
Dear Editor
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Loving lifted from here where you will find other fun details.  Here, too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ugh...and a chuckle

Many people felt like the response to the candidates who "discussed" rape were over the top -- that, in fact, it was just partisan hyperbole.  Well there may have been those who capitalized on those candidates' ignorance/stupidity/prejudice (notably those who ran against and won), there is good reason to not allow those kinds of remarks to go unanswered.  Here is a very pragmatic one.  This judge, like those candidates, feels that he can categorize rape as "technical" and not "authentic." I'd like to know the last time he was threatened with a heated screwdriver on his private parts.  Worse than candidates' ridiculous and inflammatory statements is a judge sentencing based on his distorted views.  However, I also think that if you elect a candidate who spews this kind of rhetoric, then you better be willing to accept he will pass laws based on his views.  That is why they would never get my votes -- and that I would vigorously campaign against them.

In an effort to provide levity to this post, I offer you this lovely piece from the NY Times which traces the "war on Christmas" all the way back to its originators: the Puritans.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Comps Study Plan... reality check?

Into every one's life a little reality should fall ... gently.

Here is my plan for the next eight weeks... prepping for comps.

8-10 hours per day reading and annotating.

So far, it has not worked out to more than 5 hours ... and the pain in my neck and back don't seem to let me think that 8 or 10  hours will be possible.

But I am going to add in more exercise time and see if I can squeeze out 8 productive hours most days and use the last two for documenting and other things...

I am listening to my brain and body and taking physical and mental health breaks as needed.

And, I bought a pie.

Wish me luck.

Bright Spots News Round Up

As a country we are all in need of some bright spots and silver linings.  Here are a few I found -- people working hard at finding the good in life, and promoting it in other.

I love this story about the principal thinking through/over/under the issue of how to get his students to school every day -- and then acting on it.  LOVE IT.

I worry a little when good work is dependent on a person being exceptional at his/her work.  However, it is important to recognize the work this woman is doing -- and to know how her own story informs her work.  As I started to read this article, I almost didn't make it past the first few paragraphs. But hang in there, it will be worth it.

This story demonstrates the importance of contact (and perhaps the openness of younger generation) -- if you asked these basketball players a few years ago how they felt about transgendered people, they might not have had such a consistent answer.  Lovely story about community.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Last Friday, I was celebrating having finished my portfolio four hours before it was due, when I stopped into my apartment to have lunch.  I turned on the tv thinking I could reward myself with a few minutes of a show before running to the office to print my portfolio and turn it in -- victorious as I moved on to the rest of the to do list.

But when the tv picture came into view, it brought news of a horrifying event.  I sat, stunned, riveted, and heartbroken.  Tears streamed down my face, and I felt like someone had sucker punched me in the stomach.

All loss of life is tragic... it calls us in and makes us wonder at the crime or other tragedy that has caused the loss.  On a good day, we count our blessings.  But mostly we wonder why -- we want a reason.

When the tragic taking of life happens at a school, it always hits too close to home for me.  Just before Columbine, I had a dream about violence in a school where I was.  All I recall now is that surviving teachers and students walked in single file along a long road, worried about being exposed, but having no other way to safety.

And I think of those children with their brave, protective teachers, huddled in corners, closets and bathrooms.  I know the horror and frustration of being the adult not allowed to feel let alone show fear or even turpitude.

I love children ... I just do. I am charmed by them. I marvel at their wit. I love to see their growing wisdom as they test the world and their own place in it.  There is no room in my mind for hurting children in way let alone killing them.  

As the tears streamed down my face, I felt horror and pain and anger and shame.  Why have we not done something as a country to stop this from happening?  Why do we only care when it happens? Why don't we care before?

It's not only about guns.  It's about bullying as a way of life.  It's about not feeling solidarity with our fellow citizens.  It's about letting small issues become so large for others that they feel they have no choices.  It's about not seeing our neighbors, coworkers and strangers through compassionate eyes.  Why do we not see the suffering of others?

Of all the news I heard tonight, I was most impressed by David Brooks' discussion on PBS News Hour.  He repeated much of this on NPR radio coverage, but the TV piece was super impressive.  I recommend listening to how we need to confront the issues underlying the problem.  I am particularly impressed with his encouraging news outlets to not give face time to the perpetrators.  I am sure that he is right about this -- it helps that I already feel this way.

In that vein, here are some articles about those who gave their lives.

I hope that President Obama will lead with the courage of his conviction, and I am ready to support that effort.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Forced Christmas songs...

There is a radio station in Albuquerque that plays only Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving.

It's annoying.

It is this kind of behavior that makes me hate Christmas music -- and subsequently for people to compare me to the Grinch.

The Grinch and I probably do have things in common... I am not ususally sensitive to the "noise, noise, noise" but having the Christmas music foisted on me in every store, on the radio, everywhere, is just plain annoying.

Someone said something of interest to me on the subject a while back... something to the effect of just how many Christmas songs are there, anyway? Are there really enough good Christmas songs to play over a month long period?

The answer is no, not surprisingly.

So the DJs reach into the "we should never play this" pile a little more often than usual.

I was surprised, then, to find two songs that I like in the Christmas rotation:

I I don't think of this as a Christmas song ... at all. But I love me some Dan Fogelberg, so I am not complaining. This is, of course, a Christmas-y song... though on some level it is also anti-Christmas ... or at least, it is the kind of song that challenges Christmas-y people to put their money where their mouth is. [I must not be the only one who feels this way because this song will be in heavy rotation on the only Christmas music station. I have already heard it several times.]

No, I don't care for the American version. I think it is the prominence of M.J. ... I am just not a fan. And I can't seem to get past it.

Otherwise, I am a purist when it comes to Christmas music, give me an acapella or choir sung Silent Night or else don't bother.

I also like it if it is in the voice of a Charlie Brown character.

Music seems to be the theme of the month, so far. Go figure. [you get the words here ... but in the previous one you got to see the open mouths!]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Poetry Thursday - Blessing

This is part of the Thanksgiving message I sent this year:

May you always have enough happiness to keep you sweet; enough trials to keep you strong; enough success to keep you eager; enough faith to give you courage; and enough determination to make each day a good day.
- Blessing

 More NM Beauty... on the road to Gallup, on the road from Gallup and from my porch

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toughie, revisited

There is a fine line between dealing with emotions and wallowing ... and I am hoping not to cross it. I also don't want this space to turn into a grief journal, but this is where I am living just now.

When my brother died, what was almost immediately apparent to me was that I had lost, through his death, my biggest support and the strongest tether I have to my family.  I always felt like my brother knew me -- idiosyncrasies, warts, and all, and truly loved me.  I felt like he respected my opinions, was proud of my accomplishments, and support my decisions whatever they might be.  This is not to say that we agreed on everything or that we were the kind of siblings that checked in with each other a lot.  Over the years, he came to my rescue, as only big brothers can, many times.  Always in his quiet and determined way; never in a flashy, ooh look at me and give me credit kind of way.

I could enumerate, but what difference does it make now to count or recount?  He was always there, in my corner, rooting for me and ready to spring into action should I need him.

So, what does this have to with "toughie" or revisiting it?

Yeah, so, the other thing that is important to note about my brother is that he was the kind of person who supported you without holding you back.  Even more, he was the kind of person that carefully but enthusiastically pushed you to do more.  There was a safety in the way he pushed you to the edge and talked you into jumping.

It seems impossible and perhaps incomprehensible, but there it is.  He loved adventure, and despite his proclivity for protectiveness, he also wanted you to experience as much as possible.

I remember the sparkle in his eyes when I told him I wanted to study abroad as a high schooler.  By then I knew he was the person I should tell -- he would more than understand, he would encourage, smooth out the rough edges if necessary and beam with pride at the thought.

If he thought you could accomplish something, he would push with abandon, coax, cajole, and never feel bitter or resentful that he hadn't had that opportunity.  Perhaps it is why he lived life to the fullest -- so as to never need to regret or resent the lives of others.

This was not a tension for him -- to be protective and at the same time to push you to take that step you might be otherwise afraid to take.

There were many part of my childhood that led me to take the stance my father calls "Toughie" -- he says it proudly, too, exhorting me whenever I am low to remember, I am a toughie.  That is, I can handle it.

I don't know how my dad feels about the rest of my siblings with regard to toughie-ness.  I only know the responsibility I feel for the well being of my younger siblings, even now that we are grown adults.  And I know the way they lean on my when then need to.  It feels like they were not subject to the same toughie lessons that I was.

The summer before my younger brother was born, my mom and dad and brother took a trip together -- my sister had been invited on a family trip with her friend.  And on that trip, is the first real memory I have of the push/pull with my brother.

He was careful to make me feel safe while he simultaneously insisted that I take leaps beyond my comfort zone.  Just the two of us, probably for the first time in our lives.  He had never had to be the responsible one -- only the fun older brother.  Given the opportunity to rule over me, he decided to use it as a chance to toughen me up, Greg-style.

He said, let's get as close as we can to edge for the picture.  And when shaking like a leaf I only made it so far, he pulled me in and sat me on his bended knee.  Somewhere is the picture, me looking still somewhat scared, him beaming; me safe with my big brother's arm around me.

That same trip he figured out how to get me to walk the fence of the big scary pigs so I could collect the mulberries weighing down the tree in the far corner of the pen.  Each time, you could read these scenes as Greg getting his way, but embedded was his ethos of adventure and taking that step outside the comfort zone that he was passing on to me.

It was another side of "toughie" -- she is not just independent and able to take care of herself, she is also a calculated risk-taker, not held back by fear or timidity.  From the outside, she might be viewed as not needing others.  And/or, she might be viewed as someone who can provide help and support -- one who can be leaned on.

In times of trouble, folks rely on her.  But where can she turn for support?

This is the complicating factor.  With my brother, I never had to worry about asking him for help -- he often intuited needs and offered -- or just knowing that I could call him if I needed to do gave me a sense of ease in the world -- it allowed toughie to exist in a way.

Now, I see, though, that Toughie is so used to being called upon to help that she has a hard time asking for help.

With the help of the therapist, I am taking on this issue pretty seriously.  How do I embrace the lovely qualities of "Toughie" while still asking for help when I need it.  It is an important part of connecting to others -- and that oh so elusive vulnerability.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bringing back the silver lining

As the weather threatens to turn cold,  and the clouds cover the sun menacingly, I think it's time to bring back the silver lining.

Here are some favorite news stories that are clogging up my in folder.

Let's start with the just turned 25-year-old, UCLA alumni/fanatic, South Oxnarder who just got elected to the city council. I couldn't be more excited if I had known her before ... hope she sticks to her guns and leads with her heart and soul.  There is so much that is wrong with Oxnard, but she represents all that goes right despite that fact.  Here's hoping her idealism holds out and shows some crotchety people what idealism in action looks like.

It is no secret that I am a lover of ritual that binds family (as a friend and colleague might argue -- binds communities and serves as the elixir for belonging).  I heard this story on the radio (more than once, it was a morning I was working online) and then read the transcript in its entirety. If I could get an invite to this kitchen, I would be in heaven.  I can smell the love -- and almost taste it.

After living through long hours at the American terminal a few weekends ago, I take this news as manna from heaven (I hope the link doesn't die -- search the headline if it does:  A good meal at LAX is no longer a flight of fancy).  I am not sure when I will back there, but I will be sure to hope for a long layover so that I can try one of these restaurants.  However, the absolute best part of this story is the economic and personal development it promises for this part of Los Angeles.  I couldn't help but think of young Mychael -- his eagerness and earnestness is just waiting for this kind of opportunity. I sure hope one of these places swoops him up!

If your heart doesn't melt with this mom and daughter army story, then you are worse than the Grinch in his small heart days.  I can sympathize with this daughter's decision to go with rather than stay home and worry.

I have only read the transcript on this one, but it is on the iPod waiting to play.  If your kid has to grow up too fast, you want it to be like this. I think about him and the other children to deal with divorce, and I appreciate how very hard it is to do this kind of co-parenting!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Then... and now

Some twenty odd years ago, I bought a card with this quote on it.  Over the years, it has traveled with me from state to state, situation to situation, in a box with other cards.

I wondered over the years, what did I think I would do with this card?

I loved (and needed) the sentiment. It immediately called to me, and I bought it without thinking.

But, I thought it was such an intimate sentiment that I could never give it to someone.  Wouldn't it be intrusive and presumptuous of me to gift this card?

As I was sifting through my box of cards recently, in search of a card to send to someone (I can't even remember who), I stopped at this card for about the millionth time.
I read the quote one more time and felt that same calling.  And, finally, it dawned on me.  I'm slow when it comes to these things sometimes.

This card is for me.  I bought it for myself ... just me, no one else.

Then I carried it around with me for at least four weeks, to California and back, unable to find the courage or strength or time, who knows, to write myself a love letter.

In fact, I haven't written myself a love letter since before my brother died even though I have so desperately needed some affirmations.  That's just the way it goes sometimes.

In any case, one day last week, while sitting in SB and trying to be "productive," I pulled out the card and knew just what I needed to write to myself and how this card has been speaking to my soul for so long.

I looked up Dr. Posin (her name was thankfully on the back of the card) and found a treasure of writings that I believe I will spend a lot of time with -- nourishing and encouraging myself as I write this dissertation [see I am already calling it a diss, not just a proposal -- this will happen; it's real].

I share her love and wisdom with you, internet, just in case, like me, sometimes you need someone to give you permission or to remind you of the sacredness of your being ... that you do not have a soul, you are a soul.

Blessed be, loved ones!

Friday, December 07, 2012

News Round Up: Black Cloud Edition

This round of news stories is on the darker side of the cloud cover -- I am hoping that attention to these issues might provoke some silver lining.

After you read these rants, don't say that I didn't warn you about the dark cloud... there may be lightening, too.  I did find one lighter gray cloud with a silver lining for the end... hold on.

I take these folks seriously when they say that there is a need to rethink financial aid. However, I take issue with the only response being the need to pull back from need blind admissions.  There are deeper considerations than rising costs to keep in mind as financial aid is "retooled."  For instance, there are going to be more and more less wealthy people that need to be educated in order for our country to continue to be competitive internationally.  Perhaps it means rethinking how scholarship money is doled out -- in terms of who needs it most, rather than giving it to all.  Rethinking costs at the university level might also be needed -- and how those costs are paid.  If some colleges and universities plan to retool their offerings as well, to match the needs of employers, then, perhaps those employers ought to pay for some of that worker training.  There are plenty of apprentice/intern models out there in the world to consider.  All that to say, this piece simplistically blames "need blind admission" as the reason that colleges will fall short financially.  Um, yeah, not so much.

Wow, there is so little silver lining to find in this piece.  It is surely an unhappy fact that drug cartels "winning" the war on drugs glorifies the narco.  It seems to be elevating narco behavior to one that has power over and power to.  It is a stark reminder that we, as the initiators of this war on drug nonsense, contribute to another nation's generation growing up in this impossibly nightmarish world.  Of course these children's experience will be changed from that which we consider childhood.  When will we ever learn?

Though NPR reported this story as a victory for Native Americans, embedded in the background of the story are the years of colonization, oppression, theft and neglect.  No college fund, and no $1000 payments per household can turn that around ... and the fact that it took years (years after the woman who initiated the lawsuit lost her own life) to "settle" this lawsuit is testimony to just exactly how fucked up this is.  The US Gov't took their land, "held" their money, charged them for substandard living and educational situations and then forgot to give them the money they were due.  And now, years (GENERATIONS) later, they get around to "settling" on giving $1000 checks and a college fund.  Can we have an accounting of the money stolen (adding in the loss of life, health, opportunity, etc) in 2012 dollars and compare that with the settlement? Sure, 3.4 billion sounds like a lot... can it really compensate for nearly 250 years of crimes?

This cloud is more gray than black, but not unlike the story above, it is important to hear (or read the transcript) between the lines.  NPR reports here about a revitalization of Nahuatl in New York City.  The reporter is tickled to report that this endangered language is being taught in NYC, of all places! And not only that by a guy whose day job is in a restaurant!  Are you starting to see what's gray in these clouds? I am weary of pointing out how fucked up the world we live in is -- and how we dress it up pretty by ignoring how fucked up it is.  As the report points out, in the voice of a linguist, millions of people currently speak Nahuatl -- or various versions of it -- but it is in danger of disappearing because people in NY are speaking English or Spanish?  What about where these folks are from? What is going on there?  Why isn't this language taught in Mexico? Is it? We would never know from this piece.

Ugh... this little black cloud comes complete with a sense of hopelessness.  What do we have to do to turn this around? We could start by not believing that there are kids we can throw away -- we could believe that all children are capable of learning -- and we could understand that we need all of our citizen's brain power to turn our economic situation around.

Ok... one gray cloud that turned into a silver lining with this story.   This minister tells about how he reluctantly became an advocate for the gay community in his church.  He really figured out how to turn an unhappy situation into one of faith, love and power.  I appreciate his honesty about how reluctantly he went into this work ... and the joy he has derived from it.

If this thunderstorm of black cloud news has left you depleted and needing some inspiration, check out this DailyOm:  Blue Skies... the sky is blue even on a cloudy day.  There has to be perspective if we are going to read the "bad" news -- and hopefully try to do something about it.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Poetry Thursday for Compassion

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Basking in the beauty of NM -- trying to be positive! Acoma Pueblo, May 2010.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Jukebox, part 2

Other times, it is completely clear where the song comes from.

I have a playlist called "motivation.inspiration" - yes, I am one of those...earphones, in and oblivious to the world. It is a mishmash of old and new favorites -- with plenty of Sade, but also a ton of Pink.

They are the songs, not necessarily motivational or inspirational, that make me want to get up and dance, sing along and/or cry.

There is rarely a song that I want to skip. And my heart and soul feel warmed when they come on as though the universe were reading my mind and knowing just what song I needed to hear.

This one filled my ears the other day as I was writing myself a love letter at SB. It was just what I needed to hear at that moment. Blessings!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Random Jukebox

Do you ever find yourself playing a song in your head?

I don't mean the annoying song that gets stuck in your head after you have heard it playing somewhere.

I mean the song that miraculously shows up in your head and starts singing to you.

This has happened to me many times, perhaps too many times.  One time and it is funny, and more than that it's just odd.

I have to say the most memorable times were Culture Club songs, at least 20 years after their heyday.

Sometimes I can trace back the thought process that might have caused that song to jump into my head and gets stuck on replay.

It is interestingly more a response to some irritation or situation than anything else I could put my finger on.  Then again, I could be completely making up the connection since the song literally came out of nowhere. 

Who's to say what the brain synapses are thinking?

However, I find it a little disconcerting when it is a song that I don't even realize I know the words to... again, who knows what the brain is up to.

Apparently my brain has a much more well developed play list than my iPod.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Pledge ... conclusion and reset

Grand total for the month... fairly irrelevant.
I didn't make it ... to even the revised pledge.
But December is a new month.
Unfortunately, I have not been keeping track. It has probably already been a better month... three days in.
In December, I will only travel for a few days ... I have two big pieces due by the 14th and then I will turn my attention to annotating 60 pieces per 3 lists for my comps. 

I am hoping to be able to have at least one list done by then end of December ... I fear I will not make it if I do not have this much done.

On top of all of that, I will be applying for a few grants ... and it all adds up to a ton of writing.

Keep my productivity in your thoughts.


This is what I pull up on my computer when I am feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, frustrated.

It distracts me...and gives me a chance to pull it together and get back to work.