To my Fellow Reluctant Activists: we were made for this

 

Lately, I find myself reading news articles, checking source validity, fact-checking video interviews, researching world history, and engaging in political discussions. Over the past few months, I’ve written letters, signed petitions, made phone calls, attended rallies, and marched at our nation’s capitol. My morning routine now consists of at least three phone calls to my representatives and one additional call to “the office of the issue of the day” followed by a tweet and a post that hopefully, in some way, informs others of what I am learning.

None of this comes naturally to me. I’m an introvert. I’m the person who loves snow days because it means I can enjoy quiet time without feeling guilty that I should be engaging with anyone other than “my people.” I’ve yet to reach that point people talk about when they’ve had too many days without human contact and they start to go stir crazy. On the contrary, more than a few hours actively engaged with strangers and I’m in need of isolation to recharge myself. I love sitting in silence and have no need to make conversation to feel connected. I love reading and writing, crocheting and yoga, Hallmark movies and The Andy Griffith Show. I have no desire for suspense or intrigue. I like happy endings…predictable happy endings. At 52 years old and after a lifetime of denial, I was finally comfortable knowing these things about myself and had no desire to change. However, the universe has recently conspired to keep me living in a state of discomfort.

Often, engaged in debate, I find my palms are sweaty and my voice is shaking. I ask myself, “Who is this person who is speaking so passionately about a subject she barely understands?” Politics has never been my area of expertise. Without Ms. Ellis’s Law & Justice lectures and the catchy songs from Schoolhouse Rock, I would be completely clueless as to how our government functions. But what I’m beginning to understand is that passions arise from unexpected places and often it isn’t until we take a step back that we are able to see the interconnectedness of life events.

Molestation and assault may silence a voice but they don’t kill the message. We go through life trying to communicate, stumbling, falling, longing to be heard. We shout. We cry. We whisper. We are ignored, talked-over, dismissed, misunderstood. For a period of time, it may seem as if we have given up. We go through the motions and conform because we’re tired from the struggle. This has, in our history, shown up as generations of women whose voices were lost amidst the noise of the times. Across the globe today, nations of women oppressed, abused, enslaved, and forgotten. Voices are muffled but the message remains, simmering beneath the surface, waiting. Waiting for the day when the pressure is so intense that the fear of speaking pales in comparison to the fear of remaining silent.

Although on the surface it appears to be sudden, the awakening happens slowly. Whispers begin. Thoughts are shared. Words are overheard that strike a cord in people who previously thought they were alone. One by one communities are formed. Voices joined together create volume and people begin to listen. For those who aren’t accustomed to being heard, the feeling is one of power, validation, and respect. Fears are pushed aside and passion takes over. From quivering voices the message begins to seep out into the universe, starting as a rumble and growing to a roar.

This is where I find myself today, empowered by the strength of other women, no longer sitting quietly by while injustice occurs. We may stumble. We may fall. We might be dismissed, talked-over, and misunderstood but we’ve been here before. We have lived in that space of fear and it has shaped us. Like pressure to coal, we’ve emerged stronger and more brilliant, built for this time.

This time, we will not be ignored. We will cry cleansing tears. We will whisper truth to our babies and shout justice into this troubled world. We will reach deep inside our hearts and feel compassion for those who need it most and having seen the darkness, we will bring the light. We will march, and write, and sing, and we will be heard.

And though we may be reluctant activists, we were made for this. img_4331

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/02/to-my-fellow-reluctant-activists-we-were-made-for-this/

Let us pray.

pray-banner

Recently, I read of a group of people who planned to be in Washington DC on inauguration day to pray for the incoming president. I couldn’t help but ask myself exactly what it was they would be praying for: His safety, given his divisive rhetoric? His heart, given his plans regarding human rights? His intellect, given his ignorance of the office he would hold and the many policies he would influence? His soul, given his inability to display modesty or gratitude for his situation?

What would these well-meaning individuals have asked God to do on that fateful day in history? To change a man into someone he is not? To step in and provide some Divine intervention that would save his soul and perhaps also the world as we know it? Many may believe that God chose this man to be our next president and therefore, God most certainly would not leave us in harm’s way.

I, myself, am not a religious person. However, I am a reflective person and as I reflect on the past year I’m reminded of a story about a man who’s house was consumed by a flood. The short version of the story is that the man sat on his rooftop and prayed for God to save him. He prayed as a friend came by in a canoe, a policeman came by in a boat, and a rescue helicopter flew overhead, all offering the man a ride to safety. He prayed and prayed as the flood waters rose until eventually, he drowned. When the man reached the pearly gates, he asked why God had deserted him. He was faithful in his prayer and steadfast in his belief that God would never forsake him. God shook her head and said, “I did not forsake you. I sent a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter. You refused all three.”

If one is to believe that God sent us this president, aren’t we also to believe that she sent the other 19 primary candidates from which to choose? The Bible is filled with stories where believers were tested. Perhaps the story of the 2016 US Presidential election is a modern day story of such a test. I imagine God might have thought this was an easy one for us to pass. After all, she had provided a book with lessons and rules as a guide.

“I’ll give them 17 candidates on one side, a few of them will be so extreme that they can eliminate them right off the bat, but I’ll leave one or two reasonable choices. Then on the other side, I’ll give them a flawed but qualified woman and a jewish guy who’s fighting for all that my son was sent to teach.” 

I imagine as the primaries progressed, God may have started to feel a bit concerned and by the time the GOP debates took place, God was most likely losing faith. Childish insults, rude behavior, false statements, shouting. At one point, in an effort to get attention, one candidate was heard to say, “Can someone attack me please ?” God watched as we officially entered the land of the absurd. Week after week she upped her game but it didn’t work. The more obscene the situation, the more popular the candidate.

The situation wasn’t much better on the DEM side. The choice for the Left was between a kickass woman who refused to play nice and a fatherly old man who fought to feed the poor and tax the rich. I’m certain God felt confident that we could get that one right. Checking in on things daily, she would see massive crowds of people supporting the jewish socialist as he spoke of income equality, human rights, worker’s rights, peace, love, and protecting Mother Earth. I imagine God felt little concern for the outcome of the DEM primaries but just to be safe, she sent that little bird to sit on the podium to seal the deal. #BossMove

Then the primary results began to come in. It was most likely at this time that God started to regret the whole “free will” thing. Realizing what she had to work with in the general election, God stepped up her game yet again. Providing opportunity after opportunity to showcase the difference between the two candidates: hateful rhetoric, Islamophobia, misogyny, mockery, adultery, conceit. Audio and video evidence was released to help us separate real facts from “alternative facts.” At one point, I imagine God shaking her head and considering a googleAd:

7 DEADLY SINS - FREE & EASY ACCESS
www.DonaldTrump.wth 
Pride. Envy. Wrath. Gluttony. Lust. Sloth. Greed.

And then we voted…

At this point, I imagine God cried. And then, like most of us, she took a few days to grieve and collect herself.

What must she be thinking now? I imagine there’s a part of her, like any parent when their child makes a poor choice, that would like to say, “Don’t ask me to fix this. I did my best to guide you toward the path of righteousness but you chose to go a different way. Now you can live with the consequences of your decisions.”

But she won’t.

She’ll listen to every voice and feel the heaviness of every heart. She will inhale a deep breath of compassion and exhale love all over the universe. With unconditional love, God will forgive our arrogance, forget our shameful selfishness, and provide us the opportunity to come together and heal the divisions we allowed to separate us from each other, but she won’t do it for us.

God has provided each of us with everything we need to fix this mess ourselves. We are, after all, each created in God’s own image, each of us a spark of the Divine energy of the Universe blessed with the gift to show love and compassion, but we must wake up and be responsible citizens, not only of this country but of the universe we inhabit. We cannot sit on the rooftop of our ideals praying to God for evidence of why we are right and others are wrong. No, we must take action or we will all soon drown.

 

 

“If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it’s not big enough”

I spent the morning responding to comment after comment from women who have read my article “An Open Letter to the ones who have never been assaulted.” The article was published 8 days …

Source: “If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it’s not big enough”

“If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it’s not big enough”

I spent the morning responding to comment after comment from women who have read my article “An Open Letter to the ones who have never been assaulted.” The article was published 8 days ago and has been viewed 15,719 times by people from places I’ve never been. My husband has made it his daily mission to provide a visual so I can grasp how many people this is. Each morning he reports the name of a town with an equivalent population. So far, the towns have all been small coastal villages. That is comforting to me.

The words were written for myself. I shared them for my daughter and for my future granddaughters. Never did I expect that I was sharing them for women I have never met, women as close as South Carolina and as far away as South Africa and Australia. Women thanking me. Thanking me for sharing my story. Thanking me for speaking up, for being brave.

“Your timing is ideal. I needed this right now.”

“Courageous and touching. Thank you.”

“I’m not brave enough to speak up but it helps to know I’m not alone.”

“Thank you for sharing your story…our story.”

Women sharing. Voices joining. My eyes soak up their words. Their message makes it’s way into my mind, through my heart, and one by one passes back out as droplets from my eyes onto the keyboard. Connection, kindred spirits across the miles connecting through the written word. Seeking solace in knowing we are not alone. Gathering strength from each other in order to face and stand down that which has silenced us. We are stronger together. Our combined energy, a force to be reckoned with.

For  me, writing the article was cathartic. During the process I began to feel an inner shift, an ease, a confidence, a relief. I felt a need to place my story out into the world in a way that was more real, more tangible than the spoken word. I wrote for myself. What I didn’t realize is that I also wrote for my Self, my inner being coaxing me along, leading me closer and closer to others who shared my story.

“If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it isn’t strong enough.” Advice from a young man with an old soul made me pause and reflect. What is my Why? It’s the reason I do what I do, to pay bills. Some days, just to pay the water bill. My Why now expands beyond basic needs to include tuition, vacation, life insurance, and savings plans. All noble desires centered around family but never has any of it made me cry. At times it makes me anxious, disappointed, often frustrated, but I don’t believe it’s ever made me cry.

So today, I observe the eagerness with which I prepare my coffee and settle in for my morning routine. With a physical desire felt deep in my belly, I anticipate what I might read when I open the comments section. The stories, a thread connecting souls across time and space. Energy flowing. Strength growing. Whispers amplified when spoken through the megaphone of solidarity and understanding. Brave women reaching out with shaky hands to touch others to be assured and to reassure.

brave

This is the Why that makes me cry.

Tears of understanding + Tears of connection = Tears of Joy

Civic Ignorance

Just when we think it can’t get any crazier, when there can’t possibly be another trigger point for him to hit, BAM! There he goes again, even lower than before. This time it’s babies being ripped from a mother’s womb. A ghastly description of what could only be a scene from a low budget horror movie. Facts be damned. He’s gonna say whatever the hell he wants to and, lord help us all, there are people who believe him. People who will take his repeated false statements as fact and repeat them over and over on social media sites, adding graphics, creating memes, and misconstruing the issue to a point that no one knows where the truth lies anymore.

As a country, we’re battle weary. We’ve fought against racism, sexism, xenophobia, misogyny, and bullying. Many of us have stood in disbelief as we watched neighbors and friends step out of the darkness to reveal things about themselves that most of us would prefer not to know. A part of us wanted to stay inside our happy bubble singing LaLaLa and seeing only the good in everyone, normally, focusing on the positive and tuning out the negative. Sadly, “normally” hasn’t been around for a while.

For the past year, we’ve had to speak up for immigrants, gays, Muslims, and refugees. We’ve been called to re-evaluate our views on practically every social issue imaginable: Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, Criminal Justice, Gun Control, Abortion…

To explain why it’s wrong for a country founded by immigrants to discriminate against immigrants felt ludicrous, but we did it. Using words like freedom, opportunity, justice, and inclusion, we reminded folks of what it means to be an American. We attempted to calm the paranoid and bring sanity and compassion back to the conversation. We’ve talked of religious freedom and equal rights. We’ve been reminded to “Love thy neighbor as thy self,” that “Black lives matter,” and that “Love is Love.” We’ve defended religions that were not our own in hopes that the sentiment would be reciprocated and mutual acceptance achieved.

We’ve fought against the language of rape culture. We’ve heard audiotape boasting of sexual assault defended by men and women as “guy talk”, “locker room antics”, and “typical boy behavior”. We’ve been told to get over ourselves and stop pretending to be offended by vulgar words. For days, we fought to be heard. It’s NOT the word “pussy” that upsets us! It’s the act of grabbing a woman ANYWHERE without her consent. Many spoke out, no longer allowing the normalization of unacceptable behavior.

Week after week, issue after issue, we’ve armed ourselves with facts and resolved to do our part to discuss and debate respectfully and thoughtfully. We’ve listened, responded, and when necessary, agreed to disagree. This is how democracy works. But lately, like a toddler whose tantrums have not resulted in the attention he was seeking, the outbursts have reached the level of deplorable and I, for one, have no more patience.

We now have a presidential candidate, civically ignorant, spouting lies and spreading unfounded fear. Using innuendo and rumor as if it were fact, to distort records and manipulate the citizenry. Taking quotes out of context to paint false pictures. And as upset as we should be with this behavior, we should be even more upset with the behavior of those who have allowed this to fester. Those who have laid back and been spoon fed by the media and by the church, taking whatever is offered as the gospel, not questioning or inquiring. Allowing those in power to manipulate emotions and thoughts because it’s easier than thinking for our selves.

“I don’t understand, “ is not an excuse. If an issue is important, seek to understand. Reach out to people who have experience and ask questions. Approach things with an open mind and a caring heart, willing to learn and brave enough to allow a paradigm to shift.

If you read a quote that bothers you, research it. And if you discover the quote was taken out of context, imagine how it might feel to be misquoted yourself. Be grateful you aren’t publicly scrutinized and have compassion for those who are.

If you don’t understand the effects of sexual assault because you’ve never experienced it, don’t judge those who have. Refrain from questioning their motive or behavior. Express gratitude for your fortune and compassion for their struggle.

If you don’t understand the how and the why of abortion because you’ve never known someone who faced that decision, don’t condemn what you don’t know. Express gratitude for your innocence and compassion for their pain.

If you don’t understand why it’s important to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter because you aren’t black, don’t condemn those who are angry and frustrated. Express gratitude for your privilege and compassion for their story.

If you don’t understand why some of us are weary and no longer have patience for the conversation, then you aren’t paying attention and that is the reason for our frustration.

For whatever reason, be it laziness, busyness, or ignorance, if you choose not to do a little research and educate yourself on the issues, please refrain from the conversation. You are only serving to lower the overall competence and intelligence of an already shaky population. Our democracy is in danger and civic ignorance is the cause.

The Affair Factor

Thanks for the authentic response Derrick! Very well said.

derricklweston

0114_clintons-1998

Something has been bothering me. It has been for awhile, but with the volume on the election rhetoric cranked up so high, it’s really striking a nerve. I’ve been accused of over-sharing in the past and may be again here, but so be it:

I have a really hard time with people criticizing Hillary Clinton for her handling of her husband’s affair. I say this as a man who had an affair. I say this as someone who knows that unfair things were said to my ex about how she was handling things. I say it as someone who has both firsthand knowledge and a lot of guilt and shame in this area.

There are a couple of criticisms that I hear that I think are wildly unfair. The first is that she couldn’t take care of her husband. When said, this can mean a lot of things; that she…

View original post 1,070 more words

Love Harder – the world needs more healers

Many are feeling confused, scared, sad, angry, frustrated, inadequate, pathetic, weak, searching, helpless, speechless. Lost.

I am.

I’m confused. How do we heal this?

Bombarded by news of shootings, riots, grieving, anger. What does it mean? No one’s to blame. Everyone’s to blame.

“But he must have done something.”

“They’re all prejudice.”

“He was unarmed.”

“They felt threatened.”

I’m scared. How do we heal this?

Our children are watching.

To my black brothers and sisters, I’m grieving too. The color of my skin holds me back from moving towards you because I’m afraid of judgment, afraid of rejection. Worried my intentions won’t be seen as sincere. How can I possibly know or understand?

I’m staring to know.

I’m beginning to understand.

With each story, my heart breaks.

Perhaps this is the reason for it all. To awaken those of us who have been complacent for generations. Content to sit in our safe cozy spaces believing that all is well and all is equal. Convincing ourself that working with, playing with, living with black people means prejudice is history. Turning the other way when we hear of injustice because that isn’t what we see day to day in our part of the world.

A young man is shot walking home at night. He must have been up to no good. We search for evidence of past misdeeds, justification for the killing. Blame the victim. If only he hadn’t run. Innocent people don’t run. Right?

When we know better, we do better.

Now, more than ever before we must love intentionally.

Start close. Expand out to the whole world. Send love.

How do we fix domestic abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, sexual assault, discrimination, political corruption, gang violence, Charlotte, Orlando, Syria, Uganda, etc etc – the list goes on and on and on – the answer is always LOVE.

Start close. Expand out.

2ed5342ee88f877e87baa5d480f5ad12“I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered, where does it hurt? It answered, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” – warsan shire

Before, we were blind but now we see. The world is awakening and with this awakening comes power to change. We all have the power within us. We need only to start at home. Love your Self with intention. Love your family with intention. Take not one moment for granted. Feel gratitude for the breath you take, the air you breathe, the earth below your feet, and the sky around you.

Intentionally feel. Intentionally see. Intentionally listen and then love. It won’t be large acts on a grand scale that will heal this troubled world we, as a species, have created. It will be small acts of love given freely and often and always with intention.

More healers are aware and working in the world than ever before. We are all healers. We must make the conscious choice to be. Meditate love. Love harder and then love some more. – namaste