look up

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For you the stars shimmer and dance in the blueblack sky
if you would but once look up to the heavens and see them.
The shooting star traces its exuberant arc
but you never see it
your wish unmade.

Your eyes instead peer nervously down into the dark hole.
You keep pouring into that hole and it never fills.
You look around in the starlight
and think everything is broken
you limp with it.

Always always tending to the hollow space
wasting away with the effort.
Waves wash over you
you shirk them off, snarling,
too busy with the empty hole.

My whole body aches with this.
look up! look up!
The stars
they shine for you
they hold you, perfect, in their gaze.

Things are broken
holes are surely dug.
It’s not your fault
and you are not those things.
The stars, they shine for you.

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Posted in compassion | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

peace, love, music

veru1_21_19Biting cold and snowing. You know, a typical January day in Michigan.

Of course, I was out in it. Walking seemed like a safer mode of transit than driving, anyway.

When I set out, I didn’t have a big agenda. Somehow, though, I eventually found myself standing in front of the music shop.

Although I was unaware of conscious intention, this was no accident. The music shop is not on the way to anywhere. I had never been there before.

I was cold through and through by this time, so I headed inside.

Long story short, about a half hour later, I emerged with my new ukulele carefully nestled inside its case to make the long, snowy trek home.

True, it was a purchase I’ve been thinking about for months, but why it happened just then, I have no idea.

Once I got home and brushed all the snow off the case, I got the ukulele out and started experimenting. My suspicions were well-founded – this little instrument is just plain fun. I quickly learned a few chords, experimented with strumming, and started singing.

Turns out, the singing is the hard part. I can’t remember the words to anything. But I will! Now that I have the uke, I am inspired to learn some new old tunes.

It’s portable. It’s easy to learn. It’s music. Awesome! Even better, the shop hosts weekly get-togethers with group instruction. I am totally in.

I have, of course, already tentatively mastered “Blowin’ in the Wind,” even now successfully able to recall the first verse and chorus from memory. Progress. Bob Dylan’s words startled me all over again:

“…how many times must the cannon ball fly before Before they’re forever banned?…”

My feline best friend is not as convinced as I am about the ukulele. While very much interested in inspecting it as it lay quietly on a flat surface, he was having none of it once he discovered the strings make sound!

We’ll see if he eventually gets brave enough to come out from under the bed while it is in play. On second thought, maybe it’s the singing that sends him into hiding. Something tells me, he’ll adjust.

Super excited to launch this little musical journey. I see a lot of potential for my new, portable friend.

I’m also  looking forward another little journey later on, a local peace march on this day we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his ethic of love.

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stand for love

 

veru1_20_19.jpgWe saw a lot of marching this weekend. Many people went to Washington D.C. and cities around the country to press the issues of women and indigenous peoples. Ultimately, the marching was about oppression, injustice, inequality – and shaping a better future. The issues do not belong to individual groups – the issues belong to all of us.

This kind of coming together and expression is especially important in the face of increasingly harsh and repressive reactions to ideas that don’t fit the preferred narrative of some.

And we saw the latter on full display, too.

Out of the many photos emerging from the marches, we will not forget the insolent smile of a young white man standing in the space of an older Native American man as he sings and drums. We cannot ignore the crowd of hooting, mocking young men in the background either.

This is a painful scene to view.

The marching is not done. Tomorrow we commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. There will be more marches around the country.

These marches take place to forward peace, justice, and equality. They are about all of us recognizing each and every one of us for the people that we are, honoring each other with love and respect, and securing those priorities as a premise for our country.  They are the positive wave rising and washing over us, carrying us along in the name of love.

Don’t be left behind in the dark and the cold.

Whether you march or you don’t, you can take a stand. Every single day. You can stand for love. Sing it and drum it. Dance it. Shout it. Paint it. Write it. Act it out. Teach it. Do not stand by to simply watch, but stand actively, wholly, and courageously in the name of love. Over and over again.

It was Martin Luther King Jr. who reminded us, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Go ahead. Stand tall. Stand for love.

 

Posted in compassion, life, love, peace | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

don’t bother

veru1_18_19And what if there is no State of the Union address delivered live from Congress on its appointed date?

I know it won’t break my heart if the words have to be delivered in writing instead – like it used to be. It won’t break my heart if no one bothers with it at all.

It won’t break my heart if the President has to take Davos off his agenda, if the Speaker of the House must cancel her CODEL. Really, just not feeling it over this prime time game of chicken.

What does break my heart is broken trust, shattered dreams, suffering.

What breaks my heart is children separated from their parents.

What breaks my heart is people working without pay.

What breaks my heart is people dutifully paying their taxes and finding their rights, their privacy, their possibilities, their economic security, their personal liberty slowly but surely being stripped away.

What breaks my heart is endless war.

What breaks my heart is our beautiful earth pillaged and destroyed.

What breaks my heart is people who can’t afford the medicine they need to live, who can’t afford or access healthcare.

What breaks my heart is people divided and used.

What breaks my heart is young people saddled with debt.

What breaks my heart is the homeless, the addicted, the impoverished, the forgotten.

We are, in fact, already pretty acutely aware of the state of things.

We have little use for more prime time propaganda. We have heard enough lies and seen enough subterfuge to last us awhile. We have little use to see the halls of Congress televised where yet more time will be spent accomplishing nothing on behalf of the people.

Posted in compassion, peace | Tagged , | 10 Comments

coming around to a planetary health diet

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It’s old news for at least some folks. A recently-released report, researched and written by scientists, suggests that our animal-centered diet is unhealthy and it’s bad for the environment in a big way.

“Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems” proposes the “planetary health diet” as a major part of the solution to our health and environment concerns. They assert such a diet would help us to avert climate change while preventing millions of deaths and improving health around the globe.

At the crux of the proposed diet? Globally significant reductions in foods like meat and sugar (by more than half), and doubled consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts – you know, plants.

Surprised? I thought not.

At the same time, we’re awfully slow and tentative in our embrace of a way of eating that holds the promise of so much positive outcome. Those outcomes go well beyond the commission’s vision, too.

Back in 2005, Dr. Will Tuttle beautifully and painstakingly explored the roots and impacts of our animal-based diet here in the US, and he proposed a happy alternative in his book The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony. When you grasp the picture Tuttle paints, you realize the wild extremes of the startling damage our animal-centric diet inflicts on us, the very way we think, our relationships, on others with whom we share our earth, and on the world.

Tuttle’s answer to that is pretty simple, logical, and indeed doable. It certainly jives with the EAT-Lancet Commission’s conclusion. From their summary report:

The global adoption of healthy diets from sustainable food systems would safeguard our planet and improve the health of billions.

World Peace? Healthy life? Planetary Health? Hell, yeah!

And yet, here we are still simply romancing the concepts. They look good from a distance, but folks remain reluctant to get close. We continue to be wooed by the old, abusive amour, and thus our unhealthy addictions continue with only minor concessions to our better judgment.

It’s time. It’s time to step up. Take care of yourself. Take care of your kids. Take care of our earth. It’s right there in your kitchen. It’s one thing you can actually control – at least for now.

Even if you can’t make it to vegan yet, move in that direction. Do it with full intent, with purpose, with a plan to ultimately go full bore. There are plenty of books, blogs, and vlogs out there to help you find your way, but, honestly, it’s not complicated. We make it complicated for ourselves by our extreme dependence on all things animal and processed and advertised.

Start now. A few things to shoot for:

  1. Reduce your animal consumption, at least by half. Start reading labels and be astonished by how huge a role animals play in your food beyond that burger on your plate.
  2. Eat more plants and a wide variety. The less processed, the better. Greens and beans are your friends.
  3. Support each other. Let’s move past the snide comments about rabbit food and work compassionately together for the better.

It’s your health and our planet we’re talking about here. 

Okay, then. One. Two. Three. Go! Enjoy!

Posted in food, vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

practice

veru1_16_19bWe know the absolute value of it for our children. Practice, practice, practice. Math or music or handwriting. Memorizing, anything. Sports. Languages.

As adults, it seems harder to practice. Things move more along the lines of instant gratification, impatience for results, and, ultimately, abandonment of objectives. Hey, we’re busy people.

The thing is, though, practice makes some pretty damned amazing things possible, even for us grown-ups. There are things we think we can’t do that, in reality, just take practice.

I spent most of my life never having run a mile. Or a quarter mile. Never even really thought about running, or would have thought it was possible.

Until the day I wanted it enough that I started to practice.

Writing is like that, too. Writing – certainly good writing – does not just happen. It takes practice.

Meditation? When you finally, really practice, that’s when you begin to realize the effects.

There are about a zillion things to do on this amazing earth. Why settle for ‘same old, same old’ when we are capable of so much more if we just put in the effort? Practice.

Self talk is a practice, too. Either we’re telling ourselves every damned day that we can, that we’re capable, that we’re deserving, that we will, or we’re telling ourselves we’re not good enough, we can’t, and it’s impossible. That’s neuroplasticity at work. It’s learning. What would you rather teach yourself?

I am reminded of the power of practice in a drawing class I’ve been taking. It’s pretty basic stuff. We started off with the blind contour drawing, and we’re progressing with more detail and layers. Each time I am faced with the blank sheet of paper and the assigned exercise, I panic inside. I resist. “I can’t!”

But I can. It’s just a matter of practice. And it is so empowering to be reminded of that.

I have long believed it true: anything is possible. Commitment first. Then, practice.

What is it you are waiting to learn?

 

Posted in inspiration, life, motivation | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

secrets

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In my newfound zeal for fun reading, I lately launched into a true story, Annie’s Ghosts, by Steve Luxenberg. I’m still just getting into the thing, but, basically, the book explores a family’s discovery that their mother had a sister about whom she never breathed a word. The author attempts to find out about this woman, what happened to her, and why – and why she was a family secret.

As I drifted off to sleep after dipping my toe into this story, I couldn’t help but think about the murky territory of secrets.

It seems to me that the vast majority of secrets are born in shame. And shame is born in judgment. Even perceived judgment is born in judgment.

As I look at my own family, friends, and acquaintances over the years, there have been an astonishing number of secrets – some big and some little – that folks have carried, almost always in shame and often to someone’s detriment.

If a thing is too shameful of which to be spoken, it simply then becomes a burden on our hearts. In shame, we carry the judgment of ourselves and the projected judgment of others who actually know nothing about the secret.

Once we’ve determined something’s a secret, it also becomes a barrier. We may be very honest people who try to do things right, but, now, on some level, we are dishonest. It is a conflict. It also serves to keep us separate and alienated to some extent, no matter how warm and loving we may be. Shame stands between us.

There are the secrets we carry on behalf of others, too. We allow someone to unburden themselves of their secret, and then we must bear it, too. Sometimes these shared secrets themselves become a judgment, in an awful twist.

Incredibly, some of our secrets are about good things, which we still yet feel shame to disclose.

We learn very early in life the lessons of judgment and shame in the arms of our families. Our institutional religions and systems of education cement these concepts with vigor. Media then continue to bang the drum for us.

Shame is a compelling motivator in life, that sadly does an awful lot of damage. It’s true that shame, once acknowledged, can move us to improve ourselves, change for the better. It’s the shame we bury and carry that cripples us.

As usual, though, it all comes back to fear and love. And both sides of the equation are the same.

Those who would wield the weapon of judgment are burdened to look at their own fear, and to seek a loving answer.

Those who carry shame are burdened also to recognize their fear, and to seek a loving response.

Funny how that works.

So much for lighthearted reading. We’ll see how the book turns out. 🙂

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