Dead Wood

dscn0258It started with the long, hot, dry weather, unusual for the mountains in autumn. It was the drought that came first. Then, the fires. The continued lack of rain combined with human insensitivity ignited a crisis. The physical result included the burning of 55,531 acres. Two months, 987 personnel, 700 structures damage, and at least seven dead, by the time the fires were extinguished. Before the fires started, the weather created the environment conducive to flames.

Another fire was also burning. Decades of civil rights progress, legally, culturally and politically, ignited with comments like

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

“The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yamakas every day.”

“If you can’t get rich dealing with politicians, there’s something wrong with you.”

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”

“One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.”

http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/stories/5187/23-ridiculously-offensive-donald-trump-quotes#

There are theories that forests need occasional burns to clear the dead wood and create an environment for new, healthy growth.

Politically, as rights are threatened, as violent words are spoken, the flame of anger has the potential to clear the debris of prejudice and the myths that disconnect ‘them’ from ‘us’.

During a forest fire, the animals leave without resistance. Some humans refused to leave, holding on to their material possessions, believing everything will remain the same. Some became aware of the need to act, to make changes, and when the fires became too dangerous, choose safety.

The fires of the 2016 election have released the anger of dead wood in our country. The dead wood of affluenza. The dead wood of sexism. The dead wood of racism. I welcome the burn. I encourage the destruction of beliefs that prevent new regrowth. In time, everything dies, everything is recycled and given new life.

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Winter Significance

I love the winter ocean. The colors and solitude. Not the quiet because the wind and the waves are accentuated when empty of people.

I love the push and pull of the water coming up trying to catch me. The dead remaining debris from long ago or maybe recently forgotten. The reminder of being insignificant surrounded by significance.

I love the winter ocean now as the days become longer. Watching the white foam and wondering if the tide is the ocean’s breath or the waves rhythmically inhaling and exhaling. I love standing on the shore and daring the ocean to come and touch my shoes. I love the virgin sand and the awareness that this sand maybe older than me and one day I may be sand.

Coming here to the ocean brings me peace at a time of turmoil. A time when hate and objectification of women has been glorified. The ocean reminds me of the temporary aspect of all living beings of all ideas. Every shift, movement, wind worn debris is a reminder that for every action there are consequences, always.

Open Debate

As the floor was crumbling beneath me, my words were still vague and distant. Another writer suggested I write with anger. Today, I understand what he meant.

For every comment that tells me to ‘be open’ and ‘move on’, well, get ready. Let me clarify, this is not about the election. This is about abuse and hate.

Weeks before the election I could feel the emotions surface. Every woman I talked with was sensing the same anger, along with flashbacks of being objectified. So when someone tells me to ‘be open’ I want to know what they mean by being open. Do they mean be open to degrading remarks about women? Or blindly support hateful, violent statements? Maybe they mean being open to fights breaking out in schools due to threatening statements modeled after political leaders? I use the word leader purposefully, since representatives actually listen to voters. Open? Even something as simple as a hiker being subjected to the false accusation that forest fires were started by anti-Trump protesters. For the people who want me to be willing to give someone a chance, tell me, how ‘open’ are they/you/them/me/we to rational, respectful debate?

I will not be open to sexist, racists, hateful statements. When those comments are expressed by a person committed to dismantling women’s rights, natural resources and constitutional rights, I will not ‘be open’. I will continue to exercise my rights and responsibilities to protect laws and policies that have made America great. Even more important, I will continue to advocate for what makes humanity great. Greatness doesn’t just happen because of a slogan. Greatness comes from significant transformation. The turmoil that has infected America today is from a resistance to change, an attempt to go back, before civil rights, before women’s rights, before protection of national land. I have attempted to engage in dialogues, inquiring about women’s rights and the violent speech of the incoming leader. The responses, “I am not going to discuss this.” Lack of debate = lack of change.

In this world of Social Media I can find any information or fact to support my view. I can believe that the world is flat with a superficial ‘search’. https://flatearthscienceandbible.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/top-ten-undeniable-flat-earth-proofs/

Or, find amazingly creative reasons men are superior to women http://www.menarebetterthanwomen.com/top-ten/

I can find proof to support any imaginative theory I have. I can avoid any challenge to my beliefs, so I can be constantly affirmed and supported. I have been there and done that. In the past I couldn’t write or feel angry. That required dismantling the myths taught to me. It required great transformation to challenge the myths that restricted my humanity.

So, no, I will not be open to ignorance, to hate, to violent speech. I am open to dialogue, to respectful communication.

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Skin Sick

Slowly, I feel. Like recovering from a flu, an internal sickness, I am beginning to feel alive again.

I feel hungry. I feel my skin wanting to move. Slowly. I remind myself. You have been infected with a virus of hatred, move slowly, purposefully.

I think of my skin. How or why it can be considered dangerous and offensive. As I emerge from the past few days of sickness, my skin is detoxifying. The medicine I need is intent and purpose.

While I was personally sick, I was aware of the climate of frenzied irrationality. Hate can do that. It feeds on fear and control. Staying calm in a storm requires skill. Just knowing where to start is overwhelming. Do I advocate for women’s rights? Visit the National Parks afraid they will be lost to development? Maybe set up a camp at Standing Rock to support the water protectors? Immigration, and the building of a wall, complete rejection of Muslim’s entering our country. Ok, since the wall will be paid by Mexico, how bad can that be? Maybe Mexico will also pay for the tripling of ICE agents. What about healthcare?

Nausea returns. Overload. Slow . . .

Facts, what are the facts? In this frenzied irrational climate how do I find the facts.

As I begin research, I get distracted.

KKK Parade planned to celebrate Trump’s election. Must be a panic story. Facts.

CNN, Fox, MSN, NYPost, ABC, LA Times, all have reported the announcement of the parade.

Due diligence convinces me to type in ‘snopes’. Confirmed, with a link to the KKK site.

Racial greetings from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan!

It is a simple fact that whenever these races try to integrate themselves into White society, that society is damaged immensely … perhaps even destroyed altogether. Everything that we do as Klan members is in furtherance of our ultimate goal. We are not evil; hateful people as our enemies would have you believe. We are common white people from all walks of life who have recognized the problems that our race is facing. We have chose to stand and fight for those things that we hold dear to our people. Won’t you stand with us, while there is still time! It is the duty of all white Christian men and women to fight against the Communist who have stolen our Nation. http://www.kkkknights.com/

My skin, heart, bones, all shut down. Slowly I breathe. Slowly, I feel, fully, the sickness of hate. I’m building a strong resistance. Purpose, intent, act. Solutions. There must be solutions. I’ve encountered the isms of discrimination, I’ve experienced a few, and continue to do all I can to not be a perpetrator of hurtful discrimination.

Solution. First, gather the facts.

When dealing with conflict, an important first step is: Recognize and acknowledge that everyone’s basic nature is compassion and basic goodness, no matter what they are doing or saying on the surface.  https://www.shambhalamountain.org/mindful-living/ten-tips-non-violent-communication/

First problem, the KKK believes that integration damages society, immensely, perhaps even destroying society altogether.

Slowly, intent and purpose. Essential, critical, intent, purpose.

I could quote most religions on the importance of love. The power of love to save, heal, unite, thrive, love as the answer, the salvation.

So, I allow myself to be distracted. Partly because I don’t want to face the ugly message of hate. Partly because I feel powerless.

Act, what actions can I, one person, one individual take.

Be aware. Be prepared.

Don’t act as though it isn’t happening. Oh, how difficult that lesson has been in my own life.

Be aware of the hatred. Be prepared to act. Be prepared to:  Recognize and acknowledge that everyone’s basic nature is compassion and basic goodness, no matter what they are doing or saying on the surface.

I wish for a easy fix, a vaccine to cure hate. Instead, I am aware of my responsibility, my actions, to recognize the dignity of all, even those who, on the surface, choose hate.

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Blank Mystery

I see
Blank
I see
Potential
I want to be exact
On
Blank
Empty
Pages
I want to put my mark
Exactly
Clearly
What I want
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Then
It is sent out
And the mystery begins

What I mean
What I hear
How I feel

Like hawks
Preparing a nest
Clearing out unwanted
Predators
Threats
to protect what they birth

Still
There is the unknown
Nature
Wind
Rain
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The blank page
Is my nest
It is what I birth
Empty, until I put my mark
On the blank paper
Before
The mystery
Of misunderstanding
Of joy
Of rejection
Of forgiveness

The blank page
Has my spirit
My intention
Mixed
With other voices
Messages
Desires

As I mark my words
On the page
I taste for too much salt
Check if my spirit is as light as a feather
Determine if there is anger or blame
I make corrections
Additions
To say what I want to say
To offer opportunities to
See
Hear
Feel
Connect
With more awareness
More dignity

My heart responds
To the echo of my voice
My words

I listen
Deeply
Unconditionally
Allowing words to fly free
To embrace the mysteryDSCN0441

Absolute

IMG_20160227_152322_982I watched her reach for the icicle

There were so many within her reach

He gently said “Don’t take it. Let it be”.

She, being young, didn’t understand.

I, being older, breathed in her father’s words.

She too is one of many

And, she is worthy of being left alone

To grow, melt, shine, freeze, break,

Without unwelcomed interaction

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Being older, hardened by experience

Sharpened by the breaks,

I could tell her about waiting,

But that is not the message I wanted to share.

I could tell her about freezing,

But know she deserves more.

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I want to tell her about being honored

Even in a crowd

Even in the dirt

Especially when melting

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I want her to know without asking

Without question

Her shine

Her radiance

Her essence

Is not intended to be possessed

Owned

Operated

Disturbed

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She, in all her forms

Deserves to be

Admired

Appreciated

Protected

Absolutely

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Between Absolute

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It’s there, in black and white
The facts
Known, provable facts
Printed, stamped, absolute

Pumps, 100,000 times a day
8 pounds, 22 square feet, waterproof and insulating
30 feet of complex digestive and detoxifying action

Written, in books
Handed out each year
To learn, know, about life
About bodies
Printed, stamped, absolute

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I feel
Lungs
Inhale deeply at an exquisite sunset
Nose
Following the scent of a home cooked meal
Heart
Connected to generations through the eyes of a newborn

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Between the font
The facts
Known, provable facts
I believe in the
Heart releasing anger when the words “I am sorry” are voiced and heard
Feet comforted when they arrive home, welcomed and appreciated
Voice joyful when singing with the wind, with wolves, with community
Skin cleansed, invigorated, when immersed in a cool clear mountain stream

Pay attention
Listen
Read
Memorize
Know

I say
Look beyond
See the invisible
Feel the connection
The mystery
Believe beyond the black and white
Believe in the existence between

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Distorted Feelings

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In a few moments I descended to the lost, alone, damaged person I used to know so very well. The one I have slowly uncovered from the distortions layered on me over the years. Just a few moments and I was telling myself the distortions: “You’ll never amount to much” “Who do you think you are?” “You can’t do that.” I gathered myself, took a breath, and again began to uncover the distortions I was telling myself. As I began to recover myself, I assessed the damage, the physical damage, that triggered the emotional descent. The consequences involved lost billable hours and cosmetic damage to a tool. As the day progressed, and I kept having to redirect my thoughts. Mostly, my thoughts were on the physical consequences. Looking out to the mountains, I realized, I was spending all my energy and efforts to let go of the physical damage, and had not yet addressed the emotional damage.

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I heard a hawk cry as I realized how difficult it still is for me to really know when a harm is done to me. I might be the one harming myself, or someone else. It’s the same. I am often blinded when it comes to a harm being done to me. Times, experiences, when I forget my truth. Just moments, gone, lost to the distortions.

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I know, intellectually, the distortions told to me are not true. Feeling, really feeling the damage of the past is not something I want to feel.

Each day I greet the sun I feel the wonder of the day.

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Each day I greet the sun I feel the promise of a new day.

I hear the hawk again, and promise myself, when I look at the physical damage from this challenging day, to courageously share my truth.

Church of the Empty Nest

IMG_20160124_101358_598I went to church today
The church of the empty nest
The church of the unbroken snow
The church of the bare trees
I went to church today and felt
Deeply felt
My heart
My soul
My voice
Deeply deeply felt
The silence of the newly fallen snow
I felt, deeper, even deeper
Not just in the snow,
In the new fallen snow,
But a path
through my heart
through my soul
In this holy church,
This church of the holy trees
Holy river
I feel a loss
Of being a mother
Of how afraid I was
Of how I was told
Over and over again and again
How I was not good enough
Not enough

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I remember those times
As a mother
How I didn’t know
But was told
In every way
I was not good enough
Especially for my gender
Not being good enough
To please
Satisfy
Others
To care for others
Enough
Now, I know in this holy church
I am loved
Appreciated
For my love, playfulness, forgiveness
How I wish I had those traits
When I was younger
When I was afraid

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In this church
Of the holy sacredness
There is no time
No schedule
No first service
Later service
Or Saturday evening service
There is just going outside
Looking to the sky
Looking to the earth
Looking to the east and the sun
Looking to the west and the trees
Looking into a neighbor’s eyes
Looking into your heart
I went to church and
I served my soul

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Sweeping into the Unknown

I noticed the crack while walking.

There, along the river, a crack in the earth,

a cut,

a section separating,

ready to be swept into the water.

Earth, water, air, sky, the elements merging.

The crack appeared after a heavy rain.

Flooding, excess, overabundance,

resulting in a drastic change of form.

Transitions are like that.

Forceful at times,

excessive,

with the ability to feel the earth shift.

I go about my day, putting one foot in front of the other,

assuming the earth will be there for my feet

to connect and then push away.

One footstep after another,

assuming,

until the earth moves,

until I notice the shift,

the crack,

the cut.

Or maybe, the cut prevents my foot from moving,

connecting

or pushing away.

Noticing the assumption is not real,

is not solid,

and there is no place for my foot to connect.

It is then, finally,

possibly,

hopefully,

courageously,

the transition happens.

When both feet stop,

hold their ground,

notice,

wait,

notice even more deeply,

wait with wonder and anticipation,

notice,

and step in a new direction,

sweeping into the unknown.