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The world is crying

There is so much pain in this world.  It seems to be screeching out at us.  Not sorrow, although that is there, but abject misery.  We may think our little lives are painful but when I think of the refugees, the millions of people in refugee (internment) camps, those who have nothing to eat, no shelter, lacking clean water, caught in the crossfire of crazed beings fighting over bombed out towns which lack every necessity now, children raped, stolen, trained into soldiers, deliberating drugged to make them more obedient, who are we to say our pain is great?

It is real, and exceedingly hard to climb out of, but my pain is increased by the pain of this world.  It’s crying out, in the air we breathe, in each time I put food in my mouth or walk into my comfortable, safe apartment.  I may be disabled, living on Social Security, and facing real challenges, but can you imagine being disabled – mentally, emotionally, physically, And being a refugee?  Can you imagine being on a boat with so many people it is impossible to move, not knowing when, or even if, a country will take us or if we will capsize the boat and drown?  That is fear.  That is feeling voiceless, unwanted, without shelter or food, not knowing how to care for your children in a situation like this, totally alone in the midst of many.

I hear and feel the ground beneath me aching in sorrow.  I feel the air I breathe trembling in agony.  There is only so much pain this Earth can withstand and in these times, it feels like it can’t possibly take anymore.  For we can’t forget, this world is an organism in its own right.  Can you imagine how It feels being bombed, desecrated, stripped of its beauty, groaning under the strain of having to hold the burdens of the multitudes? Sometimes I feel I should sit down on the ground and stroke it, soothe It’s burden even a little.

And mostly, I don’t know what to do.  Where I can place my small sums of money that will make a meaningful difference and not swallowed in “administrative fees”. Can I make a difference and where? If I could jump on a plane and fly to those crying in the wilderness, what could I bring but a hug, an ear to listen (if I understand the language).  But even that is not a reality. I need to look for people and places nearby. Stretch out a hand where it can actually be grabbed.  Help. And I need direction about where to do the most good, any good, rather than retreat into my tiny world of cat, books and home.  How is an activist born?

Caught in anger.

I don’t know about you, but when I am caught listening to someone yelling, even not when its at me, my chest tightens, my fear escalates, and I try to find someone to help make it go away.  Maybe that makes me a weenie, but so be it.

Mindfulness in the Holidays

The holidays are here . . . there is hope, my friends, hope to enjoy the memories being created, hope to share in joy and thanksgiving, hope to walk away with a smile instead of trying to shake off negative thoughts and feelings. For many of us, the holidays bring stress, anxiety, perhaps anger.  But, in times like those, it is good to remember . . .

The tingling of a stream running through a forest                 A cozy fire to warm up our increasingly older bones                 A blanket which feels cozy and secure                 The passion in the eyes of a lover, even if it was many years ago                 How the Grinch stole Christmas and Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer Those are just a few things to reflect on when life seems interminable, frustrating, depressing.  There are people who can offer comfort. Or, wait for it . . . you can give comfort to others and to yourself.  There is positivity to offer renewal – of our associations with others and our relationship with ourselves.  This is especially true for those of us with thought disturbances and/or mental and emotional ones.  When you are sitting at a table with more than 5 people, just remember you aren’t the only one – 1 in 5 people have some sort of mental/addiction/biochemical challenge – you are likely not as alone as you may think.

When you yearn to change your thoughts, move a muscle:

Volunteer or share the meal at a Shelter or Food Kitchen Exercise – max out those endorphins Watch some of the old charmers – Bells of Saint Mary, Christmas Carol, Christmas in CT . . . Call someone who understands and remember crisis centers if need be Calmly but clearly express your feelings, share those feelings where it matters Go to the Religious organization of your choosing and practice the traditions you grew up with

Don’t be afraid to leave the holiday gathering – go in another room to compose yourself, go for a walk, smile (just using those muscles changes your mood, even just a little). Feel the love you have for your friends and family, even when they disappoint you, you’re not the only person who can benefit from a hug.

Most of all, remember the meaning of the holidays . . . religious/spiritual, loving, sharing, giving of oneself to others.  Remember . . . whatever your circumstances, you are Blessed.

Lesson in Humility

The day is blustery, warm for Autumn, and the winds are kicking it.  I head out with my trusty broom and start sweeping the leaves on the deck and driveway of a client’s home. And I’m thinking, “Look at me. I’m raking leaves.  This is going to look so good.  I’m 60 and sweeping leaves!  (I’m an apartment dweller, I don’t do leaves) I might also add I’m in a lot of pain so the bluster is on both ends.  I’m getting close to finishing and a huge wind comes along and swooshes the leaves right back where they were to begin with.  I stop, look into the sky and say, “Really?  Just had to knock me down a few pegs.” So I took that trusty broom, went inside, and put it away.”

Her Luminosity

I never wrote a poem for her,
She was too uncomplicated,
too surface, a known commodity.
Yet it was a lie, of self-defense,
because still waters run deep
and she is one though whom
God’s eyes shine.
Her luminous soul reflected
in each act with which
she undertakes her days.

A vision of beauty,
exotic and rare,
unfettered by life’s social constraints,
conforming only as a means
of self-determination,
acting with a will
I failed to possess
at such a young age,
all I longed to be and more,
reflected in the eyes of this child.

Not living the Dutch way with sex

I was just reading in motherwellmag.com, an article written by Peggy Orenstein, October 10,2016, about the substantive differences between the Dutch way of handling teenage sex and that of America’s.  The repercussions felt by the two were impressive. And got me thinking about my own experiences, other articles and popular fiction.  I have to hand it to the Dutch, they have their ducks in a row, in a number of ways.

This world has so many cultures. In some a girl who has had sex, even by rape, is stoned until death. Others consider her disgraced or ostracize her.There are many who marry of their children at horribly young ages with pregnancies common as low as  twelve.

The Dutch saw the free, casual sex trend of the 70’s had found a different way to face the issue head-on. The government, schools, community leaders, and families worked together to talk and treat sex as an opportunity to educate young people  about love, sex, protection and commitment.  Judgements are few. As a reult, children understand the preciousness of sex and wait until they are in committed relationships where both partners share the responsibilities for protection and there is not pressure from peers and pregnancy and underage sex rates are much lower than ours.

When I was a teenager in the early 70’s (yes – I can remember that far back), sex was still hidden unless you were in the boy’s locker room.  We drank and smoked pot a lot, so inhibitions were lower.  It hasn’t changed much as I can see, except the drugs are worse and inhibitions lower still.  I didn’t know if even my best friends were having intercourse or not in high school. I read girls have clubs about shaving below, how many they’ve scored and what variety.  I did everything but the final home run but with a bunch of partners. Hell, I was a minister’s daughter – I had a reputation to consider!

My parents found out I had succumbed to my baser instincts when I called my mother from college and described my symptoms and asked what it was (she was a nurse and therefore god). Her answer was “So you’ve started having sex?”. I was floored.  She went on to tell me I had a UTI and it was called Honeymoonitis  by medical people as it so often happened on honeymoons, caused by intercourse.  She then told me to go to a doctor for help, to make sure we were both clean when we were having sex, and, for God’s sake, use protection.  So much for the Sex Talk.

Oh, there was an earlier sex talk.  One day, on the Football bus, a boy cried out, “Debbie, I had a wet dream about you last night!” I was mortified.  After I arrived home I asked my parents what one was.  They sort of described it.  I mumbled okay and left.  A few minutes later my mother entered my room to ask if I had had one.  (which only confused me more) and I explained what had happened. She said “”OK”.

Sex education involved a banana and anatomically appropriate charts (desexualized). My daughter’s involved carrying an egg around, splitting the responsibilities with her partner, to approximate what having a baby would be like. I would have stuck the egg in the refrigerator and pulled it out Monday morning.

A decade later, books speak of highly charged sexual episodes – and these aren’t the heaving bosom romance books but ten top NY Times books. And judging from them, we have mucked it up more as the years go by.  Do parents give any advice at all?  Do they talk about waiting until one is in a deeply committed, loving relationship? Do they have a clue what is going on?

The Dutch still have a lot they could teach us.

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

My Grinch is coming out.  Thanksgiving was when my Mother was alive and put out a huge spread which she would always take a picture of.  Thanksgiving is now the time everyone seems to gear up for Black Friday – except for us poor folk.  I’m lucky if I can do a little Cyber Monday but not much.  These times they have been changing.  I feel like Albert in Miracle on 42nd Street – “Who put the commercialism into Christmas?” Although now it starts before Halloween. How can you be thankful when you can’t keep the Holidays in linear alignment?

My family always treats the Holidays with great stress.  Who should go where – what to bring – Should we try to force ourselves into uncomfortable gatherings?  There is so much stress, you can’t find it in you to give from your heart.  You stand, feet moving back and forth, shuffling to find an easier position.  Your Holiday contribution to the meal lies untouched, except by you, the only one to eat it.  And worse, it was a staple on Mom’s Thanksgiving table – Heresy!!

Gratitude?  To either be with persons you don’t really want to be with or be sequestered within the walls of your empty home.  Honestly, the fact that we have a home is an amazing thing to be grateful for.  And if not your own home, than a shelter or another person who offers you a bed in which to sleep.

Disgruntled by what you have to bring or that no one appreciates it, or that you have to go to a Community Meal?  Let us get down on our knees and be grateful we have access to nourishing food.  Think of the refugees, those in Aleppo or other sites across the world that have no food, water, shelter.  And those within our own community, particularly the elderly and children.

So many of us struggle with the holidays, particularly so because of our disease.  Most of our friends and relatives simply don’t understand why we are so uncomfortable, withdrawn or manic.  Why can’t we be better?  We can’t, that’s why.  We are doing the best we can.  Just realize they struggle with our illness too.  They might really want to relate better with us but don’t know how.  If we need to, we can gently explain it to them.

But there are real and valid reasons for gratitude and thankfulness.  We do get help.  We can get services to assist us even if persistence is necessary to obtain them.  Our support groups can help.  Even if we are hanging in by the skin of our teeth, there are crisis centers to call, ministers to talk to, friends or neighbors to talk to.  We can keep to our traditions.  Watch all those sappy movies that have little to do with real life. Do things for others.  Pray for guidance and understanding. Smile as much as we can because the act itself, even if forced, realigns your face and emotions. Finally,  realize that it is only a month and a week before it is over.

 

 

Tears

Tears, tears,
wasted pools of stagnant morbidity,
dripping, splashing, splattering
aching vestiges of painful pride
dissolving last traces
of fetid humanity.
Torrents of undisciplined passion
dwindling ever so slowly to mist . . .
then .  …. nothing….
yet from the dank murk
of swampy Netherlands
is a seed nourished,
cleansed of grime
and cracked from it’s casing
to emerge
a waving frond
in a verdant meadow of life.

I’ll leave you behind

I’ll leave you behind
I bitterly cried
as I glared in the mirror
at a face ravaged by pain,
bloated with frustration
fed with rage and despair

But my child,
the quiet voice said
there are no chains around you.
Only your own fear
kept your eyes blind
to keep the radiant freedom
which was always within you,
could  not be chained
could not die, but slumbered,
waiting for conscious mind
to know her truth.

The walls, the limits, the boundaries
are only the product of fear.
True freedom was always
unblemished and held..

Soul chainer you were only,
ever, the visible reflection of me.

 

Schoolroom Teachings

With sure lipped bravado
he jet-sends his jeers
to ears waiting, knowing
expecting those words to come,
a fine dance of discontent
within the classroom walls.

Listless teacher, burned out
from too man kids and too many years
crying out for silence
to deaf ears, churning minds,
squirming bodies.  A Saint
might be able to achieve, but
one who hides beneath cover
of smile, whose eyes reflect out,
carrying no inner workings
the poor children carry the
hidden legacy of a broken system.

To look at the children,
the ones who care, yet are not
closed to the outer world,
their bodies retreat into themselves
curled up in a concave impression
of distancing, of
protecting the heart and mind,
placing all extremities out front,
to give the illusion of active attention,
so a measure of safety is gained.
Their eyes wells of sadness.

We witness in silent horror
as our children slowly
are divested of their gifts,
stripped bare of courage and strength,
rendered helpless in the feudal system,
where teachers are all powerful rulers,
infesting the masses with
their brand of corruption.

And, in the corner
facing a stark wall,
eyes turned away from the maelstrom
a boy draws mazes,
over and over again,
seeking his way out.