Fighting Words

I did not fight in a military war
I have not held a weapon
or trained to kill
Each time I was treated as just a woman
I fought for my independence
Each time I was asked to clean up
after others, expected
to be willing to put my needs aside for others
I fought for my independence
When I am subjected to the blame, handed down from
the story of Eve
The story that provides a blanket excuse to blame all women
I fight for my independence

When I am complimented for my looks and not my abilities

I consider the compliments fighting words
When I am looked at, not for my abilities
but as an object of pleasure
as a sexual possession
I fight for my independence
When I hear about a teen mother
without a question about the body
attached to the penis violating a young female
I fight for independence
When a women is not permitted to be a religious leader
I fight for independence
When women’s rights are restricted
by the court of the land
I fight for independence
When all women are honored and respected
I will celebrate Sovereignty.

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Just

I remember the last information on the news
Body Bag count

I remember wearing the POW bracelet
connected each day to a life either lost or missing

I do not remember hearing stories from my father
and his fighting in WWII

I remember telling veterans
in an arrogant youthful innocent voice
You had a choice. You didn’t have to go.
Before I truly understood how
words are the first weapon of choice

I remember being taught the
Just War theory and getting that sick feeling
that what I was being taught was not true

I remember arguing with the person on the phone
someone from Selective Service
when I was told that there was no option to declare
conscious objector until being called to service

I remember hearing story after story, with great sadness
the cost of refusing to answer the call to military service

I remember bringing home the book “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo
and being told I was not allowed to read the book.
I remember reading it
shocked at the treatment of veterans
by the country that called them to arms

I remember those who lost lives, limbs, dignity
in the name of war
I remember them each time I advocate for the
choice
action
courage of
non-violence
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Radiance

Before the sun rose, we met each other on the street. She, maybe at the age of 3, standing at the bus stop with a woman. She had on a warm coat, had a smile on her face, and a rose in her hand. Not knowing them I paused, just a bit, before speaking.
“What a beautiful rose”. I said, looking first at the woman and then the child.
The child held up the wilted flower.
“Are you going to give that to your teacher?” I asked
“No, I’m going to give it to you” she replied, with every ounce of her being brought to attention.
Her smile was radiant.
Her intentions clear.
She did not hesitate because
it was dark
she didn’t know me
my skin is a different color
I am older
or that I didn’t have something to give her in return.
Before the sun rose
in one short moment
this young girl and I shared a radiant connection.
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Lasting Impression

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The carvings in a tree. The etching in rocks. Signs that someone was there. Someone who felt the need to leave a mark, to give a lasting impression, on a natural being. I lower my eyes, apologetically, for being part of a race that disrespects what nature offers.
When I enter the woods, oceans, mountains, I enter with silence. I want to hear and feel what the trees, wind, water, have to share with me. I am grateful for every step in wilderness I am allowed to take.
As a young person, I found refuge at the ocean. Sand between my toes, salt in my hair, was a welcome sign that I was were I needed to be. More recently, I am surrounded by mountains. The ridgelines, vistas, ravines, help me escape and remember the sacredness of life. I have been hiking in the mountains of Western North Carolina for eight years now. A few months ago, with snow still on the ground, I felt the mountains finally allow me to hear them. I lower my eyes, acknowledging that nature leaves no physical marks on me yet has the most profound impression.

Intentional Communication

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Grace.

Simple movements.

A slight turn, touch, gaze and the movement alters, adjusts.

It’s the most intimate type of communication. No words. No rules. A few guidelines. The flow is counterclockwise. The count is 1, 2, 3. Leads begin on their left foot, follows on their right, just slightly behind, not to be subservient, but to hear the request and then give a response.

I look at the dancers, waltzing to live music. Silent conversations accentuate the grace of each step, each turn, each touch. As the gentleness of the flow fills me I wonder, what do people mean when they say they can’t dance? What is it they do not hear, feel, signal?

To learn I needed to be intentional. To combine the rhythm with movement. There was, initially, a disjointed flow, yet with practice and encouragement, the music and movement have united.

What about this basic communication would frighten someone? Cause them to state, believe, proclaim, they can not dance?

The question is a request, the response, “What is needed for someone to overcome their fear of dancing?

If this was a thesis question, I would need to define dancing. Is it is a formalized set of steps, to a structured music? Can it include children playing ‘Dancing with the Stars’? What about the time I walked out of the grocery store, balancing a bag in each hand, twirling to the rhythm of the street musician? Or the subway rider moving and swaying to the jerks and sputters of the train? Or the rich flow of a potluck, spoons, forks, drumming a beat, people moving around the table?

I know dance.

The sway.

Shift of balance.

Spin.

Eye contact.

Light touch.

It can happen walking down the street, smiling at a stranger.

Receiving a response “you are an angel.”

Receiving a hug from a child, commenting that they were the first one to hug me that day.

Leaving a small gift for a friend, watching their face light up.

I know dance.

It’s an invitation to joy, to move with grace, to give and take, balance.

Tell me, please, what does it mean to believe you can not dance?

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Set Aside

DSCN0709Set aside the first part of the day
To promise
In response to the gift of the sun rising
To promise
In response to the first breath of the day
The stretching of the body
Before the day stretches on
Carries you away, body mind and spirit
Set aside
To remember
The wonder of the sunrise
The spirit of your breath
The wisdom gained from experience
Set aside the intention to
Hold your ground
Not the ground that shifts and moves
That breaths and lives
The ground that changes to allow forgiveness
Hold your ground
The earth that your heart is made from
The stone that supports you
Set aside your intention
To say no
When no is necessary to free you from harm

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Zero Tolerance

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I do so declare, JMJ. Written, and signed after a test. I do so declare, to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I did not cheat on the test. Written and signed, years ago, in elementary school. It meant honesty, reputation, with a zero tolerance accountability.
Today, I do so declare to my body, mind and spirit, to be true to me. True, to Spirit, the source of joy, wonder, forgiveness and sacredness of my being.

If you want to blame me for every red light that gets in your way ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you expect me be responsible for your social aspirations ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you charge exorbitant prices and expect me to be loyal to your extravagance ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you expect me to look like Barbie, work like Rosie the Riveter and appear in the bedroom like a lingerie commercial ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you expect me to believe in the commercially spouted news ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.

After all, life, whether you consider it one long test, an adventure, or opportunity, the promises we make to ourselves, for ourselves, are the promises we are held accountable for.

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Go Beyond

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Go beyond
The intellect
The mind, the messages
Go beyond
To the feelings
The gut
The real
There is value in knowledge
Only after feelings are acknowledged and heard
Feelings
Raw, honest, humorous
Feelings
Before they are rationalized
Categorized or judged
Feelings
Go beyond
Illusions of control
Filtered beauty
Failed attempts
Go beyond
Find the wonder
Experience the mystery
Feel

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Selective Pruning

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Pruning
Cutting back
Leaving the opportunity for new growth
Pruning
So the plant will be stronger
Inviting
Full
Abundant
Growth
Still connected to what has been cut
Benefiting from the selected cutting
Even amputees remember the physical connection
Through phantom pain
What we see is not everything that exists
What we feel is not everything relating to us
We are connected to our ancestors
Through their abundance
As a result of their pruning
We are connected to generations yet to be
By what we leave behind
By what we nurture
There will be a time we are not seen
When we are only felt
When what we leave behind will
Nurture

Foreign Expression

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I feel her skin

as she rests next to me.

I hear her breath

and sense my truth is foreign to her.

She sits next to me

aware of my voice.

I question the truth she expresses.

The differences between us are more than visual.

Our experiences are as vastly different as Jupiter and Neptune.

I breathe out, aware that the air from our bodies intertwines

reminding me of our similarity.

As essential as the water surrounding our planet.

Our breath

reminding me of our similarity.

As promising as the sunrise.

Air, in and out,

reminding me of our intention to

Accept with love