Thursday, December 31, 2015

Poetry Thursday, Abe Nouk

new life grows everywhere - after rain, even in the welcome mat
See Abe Nouk perform this here. Find more of his work here.

I was birthed in a society that decided to use its children as child soldiers.
Instead of wearing nappies, we were wearing camouflage.
Instead of baby bottles, they put guns in our hands, and persuade us to think as men in advance.

Only ten years old, wanted to refuse, but had nowhere to go. In his mind, this isn't the life that he was destined to be. He just wanted to be... free. 

My hopes for the world is constantly diminishing as we are constantly reminded of what we've become.  
Pretend to preach love, instead it's all hatred, quick to blame religion and talk about change. 
Our selfish ways have taken us to the graves. 

But if you make it to Heaven before me, tell all the child soldiers, 'The land you fought for is finally free. And you should keep your head high, because you fought for me.' 

I'm told I'm lucky - I could've been a child soldier. 
 I could've been dead. Instead, I'm still alive. 
See, God don't make mistakes. 

I'm blessed to testify because I know what hatred looks like. 
It's bullets loaded in a gun and pointed at infants, and they call that revenge. 
I know what hatred looks like. 
It's bombs dropping on innocent civilians and mothers trying to avoid them while protecting their children. 
I know what hatred looks like. It's genocide justified. 
A pile of bodies in a mass grave while the world turns a blind eye. 
I know what hatred looks like. 

But today, that defeats the purpose. 
Looking at you, I know what love looks like. 
It's at the extensiveness of a handshake as we become friends and not enemies. 
We... are what love looks like.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Generosity and renewal

I had the great fortune to see Jack Kornfield a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out to be his annual end of year holiday blessing and a discussion on renewal and generosity.

It was a truly lovely talk - pointing to the ways in which generosity and renewal weave through so many holidays at this time of the year.  He read some truly beautiful stories -- and I wish I had paid better attention to the title of the book in order to share here.

Suffice to say, I was moved to action on a thought I have been cultivating for a few years.  As hard as it is to not participate in the rabid commercialization of Christmas and gift giving, it is somewhat easier when you are broke.  I still, though, even in lean years cobbled together small tokens for my family and friends ... and often felt badly that I could not do more even though I knew that these were not people who *needed* gifts.  Indeed, who really needs them? 

Though, I have also thought about how fortunate I have always been to have something under the tree and enough to eat.  Several times I have tried, with my siblings, to move the family from gift giving to no avail.

This year I decided to not even participate in Christmas by choosing not to go home.

Instead for Christmas (or New Year), I am trying to practice what I preach about generosity.  I don't want any Christmas gifts beyond good wishes for continued personal growth.  And I want to honor those nearest and dearest by giving in their names.  And I am sending some cards out to my loved ones, hopefully they will make it into the mail in time for the New Year...

If you are not sure where to give, here are some ideas.

I love Homeboy Industries -- they do tremendous work with the people everyone else has given up hope on -- and they are very successful.  If you are not ready to just give in someone's name, you can buy merchandise, including delicious cookies and other goodies, and support the work in that way.

I stumbled upon this group because of the video above -- it is a good way to connect with families in need. This group will give you a way to help families month to month and in many ways including with your money and your time.  I was lucky that my work place sponsored a family, so I was able to contribute to that gift giving.  But, this seems like a great way to make sure that families are happier and healthier on a regular basis.

My friend convinced me to try Kiva even though I have known about their work in the past, I just hadn't taken the leap.  The gift I gave was a "dedication" which means that I won't get to reinvest the returns.  So, I am going to try to just add to the pot as I can.  I only have a small amount to work with, but I am looking forward to hearing how even that small amount can help.

This marvelous story about one woman's generosity and how her family and friends have carried on her loving ways also inspired me -- and they take donations to try to make a special day for as many children as possible. 

Funding your local food bank/pantry or volunteering there is always a wonderful way to support your community!

Monday, December 28, 2015

NRU not so great news

I really cannot bring myself to read about the reauthorization of the ESEA, but the bad news seeps through the cracks anyway.  Someone asked me the other day if NCLB had been repealed... how to answer.  I deferred answering, saying I hadn't read the new legislation, which is true.  But I know that it is actually tinkering around the edges, so I did say that.  I am sick of being the bearer of bad news, but there is precious little else to tell.  This piece details how new provisions for special education students intended to help them with standardized tests in fact hinder their progress. 

So, LAPD investigated itself and then said there were no problems.  Sandy Banks takes a look at just how hard it is to find, change or acknowledge bias in police officers.  Learning to talk about what bias looks like, whether it is overt or subconscious, is surely the right way to start.

I am increasingly worried about the pathologizing of children's differences.  It is just too easy to slap on a label without truly investigating the behaviors, the family history and the settings.  We need to know much more about students than any pencil or paper test or cursory appraisal of "expert" or teachers.  We need to also see these students' strengths before we make

I really don't have words for Zuckerberg, you can read this and decide how you feel.  It may be a little strident but not more so than the rest of the articles I read on the subject.  Somehow the coverage has been either scathing or fawning. 

I cannot get away from the reporting on the scourge of gun violence, nor should I try to, I guess. I just would like to be able to create more change around this issue.  And there really are no good ways for me to do that, as far as I can see... other than contribute dollars I do not have.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Poetry Thursday

A Walk
Rainier Maria Rilke
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

it's raining, it's pouring...

every time I hear the little sump pump that could start up, I think I can also hear the chanterelle singing and sighing under the leaf cover
hoping to have pics to share of those babies grown up, soon....

Monday, December 21, 2015

NRU uplift...

...or at least silver linings. The world has been so full of bad news that it has been hard for me to do my news round up.

Here are two stories I felt I needed to share on the uplifting side... bad news will return, no doubt soon, with attendant ranting.

Our current media is replete with examples of public education that does not work or that is not working the way we imagine it should.  I was pleased to see this article shared on fb about a superintendent that goes above and beyond what we might consider *education* in order to help her students be successful.  I think the majority of teachers and principals would love to participate in this kind of education -- but we need to provide them with the resources, not just money but time and people, in order to do this.  Just think what would be necessary to level this up to Oakland or Sacramento or San Francisco, not to mention Los Angeles. But it is a potential model... 

Norway is facing the challenge of how to integrate immigrants into their larger culture ... this may not appeal to all as it may seem like forced assimilation, but I believe it is a model for having adult conversations about difficult topics.  We can choose to say nothing, to do nothing.  But the challenges will persist.  And our unease about the newcomers frequently morphs into bias, conscious or not.  We have to find ways to bring migrants into our culture with tolerance or we will continue to radicalize them as permanent outsiders.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Poetry Thursday

Dance, when you're broken open.

Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of the fighting.

Dance in your blood.

Dance when you're perfectly free.

~ Rumi

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Every once in a while, I get to spend time with one of my five-year-old sidekicks.

As I am starting to understand my ability to read other people's energy (and what parts of it I take with me after meeting or passing them), I am learning why I yearn for these visits with my little buddies.

They always have so much to say and questions, boy do they have questions.

But, I also note how different the boys are from the girls.  

The little boy I sometimes pick up from school generally starts off our time together reticent.

I ask him what he did that day, and he usually tells me he can't remember.  Over time, I joke with him about his lack of memory, or ask him specific but very crazy questions.  And eventually, I win him over.

We laugh a lot together -- I get to be whimsical and creative and open to any ideas, nonsensical or brilliant or both.  We make snacks together, walk and investigate places, read books or play.  We do homework and clean up.

We do every day regular things together for a few hours.

At some point during our time together, mostly when we are getting close to bedtime story, he asks me if I have children.

No matter how many times I have answered this question, I get it again ... sometime two times in row.

Is it that he thinks that adults without children wouldn't know how to understand a child?  What does that question mean?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Beach Cat

One of my last beach walks in November, I spied this black cat enjoying the sunset. 

It was chilly, the wind shooting cold air, but it was low tide, and there seemed millions of miles of beach. The sun was sinking like a big orange ball into the water behind the islands. 

I could hear Taps playing from the base behind the lighthouse.  I turned to look at the rocks and there was this cat. 

From his/her perch, the sunset was glorious.  I imagined that cat coming out just at the right time every morning to greet the sun and then every evening to watch it settle in for its night sleep.

What a lovely ritual.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Planning to go mushroom hunting. It will be an adventure! These beauties just presented themselves on a walk. I guess it really is mushroom season since it has been raining. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Poetry Thursday, RIP John Truedell

I’ve been the mirror 
To others reflecting selves 
I’ve known love that can’t help 
But love and I’ve been close 
To that hurting way of love 

I flew with the eagles 
Until I fell from the nest 
I ran with the wolves 
Then got lost from the pack 

~John Truedell

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

NRU education ed

I had decided to take a break from reading articles about education.  But, since I have been sending emails to these reporters for several years suggesting that they follow the money more carefully before reporting, I can't resist.

My heart really isn't in this NRU, but I haven't been able to avert my eyes from the protests on campus -- particularly my alma mater.

The demands these students are making, twenty plus years after I graduated, are some of the reasons why I do not contribute as an alumni - even a nominal amount.

My story, my recollections, are not as fraught as this young woman's.  But that the same nonsense persists sickens me.  I am sorry that these students have lived through this, continue to put up with blatant racism and the microagressions I know all too well.  Here is a great piece by Joshua Rothman (not Black at Princeton, not a contemporary of mine) on the un-naming of Wilson on Princeton campus...if you read nothing else on this, this quote struck me:

"The problem with the slippery-slope argument, however, is the slope. Even if you don’t want to slide down it, you still have to deal with the fact that it exists. To the extent that Wilson’s racism was typical, America was racist. Ultimately, his views are emblematic of the way that, for hundreds of years, Americans could have it both ways, regarding themselves as egalitarian even though they were also white supremacists. This way of thinking has shaped universities, too, from admissions policies to curriculum design."

Monday, December 07, 2015

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Poetry Thursday - Rumi Hope

Sorrow prepares you for joy. 
It violently sweeps everything 
out of your house, 
so that new joy 
can find space to enter. 
It shakes the yellow leaves 
from the bough of your heart, 
so that fresh, green leaves 
can grow in their place. 
It pulls up the rotten roots, 
so that new roots 
hidden beneath 
have room to grow. 
Whatever sorrow shakes 
from your heart, 
far better things 
will take their place.
~ Rumi

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

picture therapy

Seeking some peace right now ... this reminds me of the quiet time I spent near the water.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Unexpected Beauty

 Taking pictures with the iPhone while on the beach means never knowing exactly what I am capturing.

I pointed at the birds and the surf.

But I didn't imagine the mirror image in the sand.

What a lovely surprise!

Barely processed one day of pictures.  Working back from Saturday (11/28), so there are more treasures to come.