Sunday Quote: Speaking Out

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Powerlessness and silence go together. We… should use our privileged positions not as a shelter from the world’s reality, but as a platform from which to speak. A voice is a gift. It should be cherished and used.  –Margaret Atwood

I got a call tonight from my 13-year-old son. He had gone to visit a friend who lives in an apartment complex. He was being told by the property manager that he was trespassing and that he was not allowed to be there.

My son was being accused of causing damage to a vehicle and told that he was not allowed on the property. Here’s the thing: no one saw who did it, and it was several months ago. There had been a family with two (black) kids who used to live there. These two kids had caused a lot of trouble. My son is black. The manager claimed that my son was friends with these two kids, and therefore guilty by association.

The problem is, my son has no idea who these two kids are. He says he had seen them a few times, but never hung out with them. The manager claims that he had seen the three of them ‘together.’ But there is no one who saw Keith do anything wrong. This manager decided that Keith was a trouble-maker because of an imaginary connection to the kids whose family had been kicked out of the complex.

It was frustrating, and I could not help but think that, somehow, the ‘playing while black’ thing was going on. The manager had called the police. The officer just shook his head and said ‘This is a non-police issue.’ and left.

We took our son and went home (after getting him Dairy Queen). I don’t know what the manager’s real motive was. I don’t know why he thought my son was guilty. God know my son is not a saint. What should I do?

I told my son, “I believe you. He was wrong to treat you like that.” At the same time, I had to add, “When you are in a similar situation, no matter how wrong the other person is, you are still responsible for your own actions. You must remain calm and respectful.”

And that is how I can be an ally to my son, by hearing, supporting, and believing him. My privilege is that I am a white, middle-class, married housewife. I am socially acceptable. Non-threatening. I have many friends who do not have the same privilege I do.

I am here to bear witness and to use my ‘platform’ to let other voices ring out. Today, there is much buzz about the sexual harassment of women by men in power. The women have been afraid to speak up because it would have been devastating to their career. There were calls for men to no longer give respect to men who don’t respect women.

I think the same is true for non-minority folks having a mandate to speak up when and where we see discrimination. If you are suffering, I want to say ‘I see you.’ My prayers and actions are with determination to see truth and justice reign.

 

 

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Life Is Bland

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It’s been about 12 weeks since the accident. Still not walking, occasional pain (mainly after the physical therapist leaves) and I haven’t learned to function in a wheelchair effectively.

What have I been doing? A whole lotta nothing.

Perhaps that is why I feel so bland? The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 66

I have definitely been a grouch lately. I wonder if “brainstorm,” back in the ’30s, had a different meaning? Today, we use the word as a creative exercise to generate ideas. It’s generally considered to be a good, healthy thing to do, and for writers and artists, it is essential for life. So I’m thinking, How could the brainstorm not be for me?

The key may be in the sentence preceding this. “If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.”

When I look at it in that context, I am reminded of those whirling thoughts, like great thunder clouds and flashes of lightening, that consume me when I am raging. Ah, in that case, The ‘storm in the brain’ is definitely not for me.

I only know one solution to still that boiling-over brain: connecting to Spirit. Perhaps that is why I write this blog. When I slow myself down enough, feel my finger tips tapping on the keys, I am reminded to breathe and relax.  As I search myself for what’s gong on, I find the answers to share with you.

I think another part of my problem is that I’m just getting bored. I have all these things I want to do, but not walking makes them difficult. My life is not structured to accommodate immobility. Hmmmm. You know what I tell my son? Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Sometimes I hate my own good advice.

via Daily Prompt: Dubious

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

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I love books, but I don’t ‘let’ myself read very much. To remedy that, I’m going to start writing semi-regular book reviews. Hopefully that will motivate me to read more.

The first book I’m going to talk about is The Tethered Mage from the Swords and Fire trilogy by Melissa Caruso.  This is a fantasy novel full of magic, but it carries some serious themes such as government control vs. personal freedom. I absolutely fell in love with this writer. It’s effortless to read, with some amazing ‘one-liners’ that add to the enjoyment.

Her approach to revealing the “laws of magic” is seamless and unobtrusive. Magic has become extremely rare. Those who have it are taken as very young children and “tethered,” meaning the powers are squelched under the control of the government.

The story revolves around Lady Amalia Cornara, who is of very high status with many duties and obligations. She also desperately guards what little freedom she has. She is known to dress as a peasant and visit the town, and sometimes that gets her in serious trouble.

During one of the jaunts, she encounters a mage who has managed to hide her magical ability. This book has multiple story lines, and one of them is the journey Lady Amalia and this mage have toward mutual respect and friendship. There is a little romance sprinkled in, and these characters are well-formed and fully fleshed out.

This novel is suspenseful and full of surprise twists. It has espionage and betrayal, but also celebrates the human spirit. I enjoyed every minute of reading this, and even recommended it to my daughter (who is super picky.) She loved it and raved about not only the story but also the skill with which Caruso tells it.

This is the first book in a series. The only bad thing is that the second book won’t be released until April 2018. It’s been quite a while since I had to wait for a book to be released!

How to Have a Hygge Life!

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Language shapes reality. Having a word for this… moment of supreme contentment… changes how I think of it. It becomes more “real,” and when it is real, it is something to appreciate and strive for instead of just a passing moment with no meaning.

Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

When I learned about Hygge and what it meant, I wanted to add more to my life here in Colorado.

Hygge is a Scandinavian word, pronounced hue-gah, used to describe an extraordinary moment during an otherwise ordinary day by being aware of the feeling of coziness and charm in order to slow our fast-paced life.

The word blew up in 2016 and was soon added to American dictionaries. Life has become more stressful for a lot of people. Hygge focuses on what makes you comfortable and happy. As the northern hemisphere slides into winter, I am all about Hygge moments.

Hygge can be experienced through a solitary or group activity. I’ve seen many examples, from wearing pajamas while sipping hot chocolate and reading a book, to small gatherings with friends.

Hygge’s definition depends on your unique lifestyle. Colorado is known for its active people.  When I’m not tapping away on…

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Letting Go of Worry

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I just started writing for a ‘community blog’ designed to inspire others. This is my first post there.

Worry is having faith that the worst will happen. The laws of attraction say that you draw to yourself that which you focus on, but how can we let go of those negative thought patterns? For me, Emmet Fox’s The Golden Key has proved useful many times. Basically, whatever it is you are worrying about, […]

via Letting Go of Worry — Success Inspirers World

Sunday Quote: Indigenous Healing

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Racism is a disease in society. We’re all equal. I don’t care what their color is, or religion. Just as long as they’re human beings they’re my buddies. -Mandawuy Yunupingu

I’ve been following Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, on her trip to Australia to accept the Sydney Peace Prize on behalf of BLM. While there, she learned more about the plight of the indigenous people and the struggles they face on their own lands.

The aboriginal people of Australia hold perhaps the oldest wisdom on the planet. When I lived on Guam, I visited the southern continent for two weeks. I traveled to the sacred heart of the land, Uluru (known in modern societies as Ayers Rock.)

This area is associated with the Dreamtime, and the aboriginal people are offended by foreigners climbing it. I am ashamed to admit that I did climb Uluru. That was in 1991. Signs discouraging visitors from climbing first appeared in 1992, and starting in 2019 visitors will no longer be able to climb this sacred site (which is a good thing). If I knew then what I know now, I would not have climbed.

While exploring around the base of this site, you can feel the power throbbing from the earth. I also visited Alice Springs and was able to sit with native artists. One of my most prized possessions is a small piece of fabric painted with Dreamtime symbology. But this is beside the point.

What I want to say is that I believe that the suppression of indigenous people’s beliefs worldwide contributes to the insane state of imbalance humanity faces today. We have become cut off from our roots. A deep connection to others and to the Earth is necessary. Part of that process is to acknowledge and listen to the wisdom of these marginalized and oppressed people. To hear their voice, we must first understand that their lives do indeed matter.

I think it’s an important step for BLM to extend their support to these societies. BLM can help those voices be heard. A symphony needs every instrument, and those silenced voices need to be amplified.

I would encourage you to learn more about the beliefs and stories of the aboriginal people of Australia. Really, listen to the stories of the people around you, too. You can get a taste of the aboriginal stories in a series called Cleverman, available on Netflix streaming. (Sorry to sound like a commercial, but it is a powerful series.)

May someday we achieve integration of these fractured voices so that we can hear the beautiful harmony of humanity.

 

 

How To Share Good News?

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Yesterday, I was very happy and content. I had some very real stressers, things that I could not see the solution to, yet I had absolute Faith that everything would work out OK. It was easy to share about those feelings of uncertainty.

Today, I received an incredibly generous and unsuspected gift. Many of the things I was painfully anxious about are now taken care of. I feel… humbled? Blessed? Grateful? I’m afraid to talk about my good news because… am I bragging? I don’t want others to feel bad?

And then, as I’m writing this, I’m remembering what I posted almost 2 weeks ago: God Gives. It was a quote about how God will never give me what belongs to someone else. That reminds me to be humble and accept this gift with a full and thankful heart. It’s not anything special about me in particular, but it’s about God’s plan unfolding in my life.

Miracles do happen. Everyday. My prayer is that your life is full of abundance and prosperity. May you accept the gifts offered and see how you can add joy to this thing called life.

How Can I Give You My Faith?

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When I was young, I always felt like I was late to the show. Everyone else knew how to act, but I missed the intro. I wasn’t there for the explanation. I missed the training. I didn’t fit in, and I hated me.

If you have ever attended a 12-step fellowship like Alcoholic Anonymous, no doubt you will have heard sentiments similar to this. My solution, like many others, was to escape through alcohol and drugs. Now, this was not a very good ‘solution.’ I put myself in grave danger and was harmed in many ways.

Now, I am confronted with a young person who feels like I did when I was a teenager. She looks to me for guidance and comfort and help. I can tell her that I understand, but I do not have a solution for her.

I had to go through years of an incredibly painful life until, by the grace of God, I was able to find achieve sobriety. I was given the manual (the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous), asked for help from a trusted friend who had ‘been there,’ and started my journey to sanity and serenity via the 12 steps. That is not a path I would wish on anyone, but it is the only one I know.

I wish I could take a scoop of my faith and trust and give it to this beautiful young woman. I wish I could be like Jesus, lay my hand upon her head, and see her be filled with light and love.

When someone is in the pit of depression, how can we help them? This is my angst of today. I know that everything will work out OK, but how can I give that gift to someone else? I can’t. I feel like I should give her some kind of practical advice, but everything I say falls flat because it is my solution, not her solution.

I guess I only have on choice: praying for her. I pray that her higher power can reach her and ignite that spark in her soul. I pray God works through my words and actions to help ease suffering. This is the way I can at least bring peace to my own soul.

Sunday Quote: Gratitude

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We have rarely been encouraged and equipped to appreciate the fact that the truth works, that it releases the Spirit and that it is a joyous thing. –Toni Cade Bambara

Perhaps this is a way to keep my serenity in these crazy times. I can hold that kernel of truth deep in my heart, allowing it to grow and keep me warm. I’m grateful that I have felt the presence of Spirit, and taking a moment to connect with that brings me immeasurable peace.

via Daily Prompt: Gratitude

Power, Algorithms, and Dystopia

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I was inspired by a Ted Talk by Zeynep Tufekci called “We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads” (video below). She expands the discussion to how these algorithms:

  1. Are not understood, even by the programmers, how they are able to target individuals, and
  2. Have been used to dissuade individuals from voting.

What caught my attention most was her discussion of how YouTube will progressively “recommend” in the “Up Next” area videos that are more and more extreme. Those algorithms also tailor other content to lead us “down the rabbit hole” deeper into what we already tend to believe.

This helped me understand how people in this country can hold such extremely opposing ideas and beliefs about ‘reality.’ We don’t live in the same world. The information I see and what I hear on my myriad screens does affect my reality because my reality is based on what I see and hear. What I believe to be TRUE can be radically different from what someone else sees as TRUE.

Here’s a simplistic analogy. See a picture of someone slouching on a bench. They are sweaty, clothes disheveled, with streaks of dirt and mud on their clothes and body. One group is told the person is a homeless drug addict. Another group is told the person was taking a break from helping tornado victims clean up and sort though the debris.

Media, in its many forms, tells us how we should interpret events. Just like what we are told (or not told) about the person on the bench shapes a positive or negative opinion about that person, what we are told (or not told) about a situation shapes our opinion about that.

Because the algorithms that shape and direct our online experience guide us by providing more (or more extreme) of the same, our ideas and beliefs continue to be reinforced. Thus, our realities are, in fact, different.

Left unchecked, our country will inevitably become more and more polarized and extreme. I don’t know the solution to bridge the gap, but I do know that Europe has much stricter guidelines about how our information can be used. I welcome your ideas and insights about this issue as I am just starting to grapple with it.