enough

veru1_14_19.jpg

Who is not angry and ashamed at this point? This nonsense government shutdown demonstrates such contempt for the people – and who can be surprised? If there is a crisis, it is manifest in this abusive stunt carried out, once again, on the backs of the people.

Which one of us could stamp their foot like that on the job and not simply expect to get fired? What responsible parent would allow their child to carry on with such assininity before swiftly reining it in?

But no, our government officials, and our top dog in particular, are allowing this debased spectacle to wallow on whilst unthreading the lives and processes of the people who fund it, pay for it, and work for it.

This is not governing. This is not leadership. This goes beyond incompetence. It demonstrates an utter lack of respect for the citizenry, and a sneering disdain for democratic principles and ethics. There is nothing democratic about what’s going on right now, and while the threat of a declaration of a national emergency continues to thrum, it sadly smells more like attempted coup.

And yet, we continue to tolerate it, disgusted though we may be.

This idiotic farce of governance plays out simultaneous to any number of other deeply disturbing situations, too, not the least of which include drumbeats for war with Iran.

No. Just no.

Every single reprehensible scenario playing out in Washington D.C. these days goes well beyond media fodder that keeps everyone transfixed, emasculated, and wonderfully divided. These are not mere antics.

These are the lives of people we’re talking about.

We are not simply chess pieces. We are not tweets. We are not mere dollar signs. We live and breathe. We matter. Believe it or not.

We deserve and demand representation that works for us, not against us.

Advertisements
Posted in compassion, life, peace | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

rights and privileges

veru1_13_19.jpg

Yesterday, I found myself in the midst of a group of people anxious to see Bernie Sanders #RunBernieRun for 2020. They had gathered at a local bar to watch a livestream hosted by a grassroots entity,  Organizing For Bernie. They happily stayed to converse afterward.

What struck me about this gathering of mostly strangers was the gentle positivity, openness to ideas, and compassionate acceptance of others – traits I don’t often witness anymore in even remotely political discourse.

These folks easily hung around together for an engaging discussion that roamed far and wide, touching on topics ranging from Flint’s water to the concept of “rights and privileges.” The thoughtful and wonderfully intelligent conversation was a breath of fresh air. The talk focused on issues, very little on candidates or parties.

The discourse waded into the rights and privileges territory as participants explored healthcare issues. One person firmly took the stance that healthcare is a right not a privilege; another easily responded that they were not convinced that is the case. It was great to see all of the people in the group comfortably exploring this. There was no anger, no shame, no bullying, no dares, no put-downs, no unthinking repetition of shallow memes, just an honest and curious discussion turning the ideas over.

Much later, I found that discussion burbling in my brain – not exactly whether healthcare is a right or a privilege, but how we view and come to define rights and privileges.

The more I turned the topic over in my head, the more I realized it is just a matter of the lens through which we look at things. If we look at healthcare or water, for example, through the lens of capitalism, it’s about the price of things. It’s about who’s paying and how much. It’s about who owns it and how much benefit they receive from that ownership. It’s about one’s ability to pay, or whether they have to pay for someone else.

It’s really not a question of right or privilege – it’s just dollars and cents, the bottom line. Healthcare is simply a commodity. Life-saving drugs are commodities. Water is a commodity. Education, imprisonment, the ballot are commodities. Even war – life and death – is a commodity. It’s just about who’s going to pay and for whom. 

It is very natural to look at it through this lens; indeed, it is difficult to see it any other way. 

But there is another way. We can look through the lens of compassion. Our ingrained capitalist way of life has no room for compassion, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t or can’t be there. The question of right or privilege just serves to keep us off topic.

The very concept of “rights” implies a moral underpinning. We needn’t, we shouldn’t, shy away from our innate morality in order to accommodate a system and those reaping its profits. Denying our own very real ethics in subordination to that system is inherently unfree and inhumane – and we do it all the time without blinking. It drives us to ask such unthinkable questions as whether access to healthcare or potable water is a right or a privilege.

Most people I meet have a great deal of compassion, even if it masked by a stubborn allegiance to soulless concepts, leadership, and acts. It is human, it is life, to hold compassion.

Let’s find our way back to being the whole people that we are, not just citizens, taxpayers, workers. Let us radically allow compassion to help us determine our direction. Let us factor compassion into the most practical decisions of our society.

Let us worry less about defining rights and privileges under the gaze of the capitalist god, and look more to what’s simply best for all. Everyone’s boat will float higher when we do that.

Posted in compassion, life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunshine Blogger Award

sunshine-blogger-award

Glen, over on his delightful blog, justabitfurther, totally took me by surprise. He nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I am honored.

I love Glen’s blog where he and Lynn and their dog Katie are all about the journey, especially where the wonderful outdoors is concerned. Awesome photos and Glen’s thoughtful words take me on hikes, canoe or kayak outings, and other adventures, both transporting and inspiring me to more of my own adventures in this wonderful world of ours. Please stop in at justabitfurther and have a look-see!

I am grateful to Glen for his wonderful blog, and for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

I am especially happy for this nomination because it makes me feel even more a real part of the blogging community. The award is given by bloggers to other bloggers who inspire creativity and positivity in that community. It is all about connection, helping bloggers and readers to discover new blogs or new-to-them blogs. Of course, that means sharing some of those blogs that you love.

The rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award include:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Now, as for those pesky questions presented by Glen, I admit I find this just a tad intimidating. Deep breath, here we go:

  1.  Why did you get into or what motivated you to start blogging?  It’s a mysterious thing, isn’t it? I am a writer. It’s hard not to write. Writing for others to read keeps me awake/mindful, observant, in practice. And it’s fun. Well, mostly.
  2.  What’s your favourite comfort food? Probably a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter and dill pickle slices.
  3.  Is there a quote or saying you don’t like? Hmm. One phrase that comes to mind,  “Give back.” Don’t be upset by that.  It’s just that I believe it is natural for us to want to give. It helps us to be whole. It is not a matter of owing, it is more a matter of being our whole selves. Don’t “give back,” just “give” your own unique, beautiful gifts.
  4.  What would your ideal day be like? I suspect it would involve hiking, perhaps in the mountains, with a trusted other.
  5.  What do you love most about blogging? Inspiration and community.
  6.  What is something that made you smile today? My awesome best friend, who happens to be a cat and who never fails to make me know I am loved.
  7.  What is one piece of advice you give other bloggers? I don’t actually presume to give advice to other bloggers, except, I suppose, go for it! I learn much from other bloggers, and I am grateful for it.
  8.  Favourite flavour of ice cream? Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Caramel Fudge – it’s vegan and it’s awesome. Woohoo!!
  9.  Do your family or friends know about your blog and what do they think of it?Actually, there are only two people of my personal acquaintance who know I blog. They are long-time friends of mine and always supportive!
  10.  What advice would you give to YOUR ten-year-old self? You are amazing, and you are loved. Always know that. Be who you are.
  11.  If you could be any superhero, what power would you have and why? I don’t actually know all that much about superheroes, but flying seems like a pretty cool power to have. Yeah, I would totally fly. I would love to see more of the universe, and to feel the freedom of flight.

Whew, now that I’ve covered that territory, I would like share the names of a few blogs that are special to me, in no particular order. These are just a few of the blogs from which I derive much inspiration, pleasure, and insight. I hope you will pay them a visit:

You Are Love Now:  I love this little burst of love in my life. Not sure how it happens (or maybe I am), but every day, I find a lovely, thoughtful, encouraging poem from Sandy.

Carry Loves Cats: Honest to Pete, every time I read this blog, I wind up smiling and usually laughing out loud. Love the cat connection here, and the wonderful voice in this blog.

Nourishing Amy: Vegans, would-be-vegans, folks just scratching their heads about veganism, check it out! Particularly right now, when she’s mindfully writing very supportive posts for folks dipping into it for Veganuary.

cat fink KnowTrustChooseCreate: Reading Cat Fink’s blog is like diving into a spectacular confection, complete with rich flavor and icing and visual appeal and hidden nuggets. I relish her language, her inspiration, and the deep heartstrings she touches.

A Miracle Workbook: I am always delighted by the posts I find here. They are great inspiration and encouragement to walk my path, to be compassionate towards myself and others, and more.

Running Truths: I am inspired Every.Single.Time. I read a post here. She helps me stay on my own running game, although she’s way ahead of me on the course.

Blue Mood Café: I’ve mentioned the café before. This blog inspired my 2019 book expedition, on which I am off and running.

Inspirational Poems: Love Trina’s outlook on life, and I also really like how she presents her poems, some backstory, and the creative picture of the poem. Lots of inspiration here.

jenjoycedesign:  I do not even know how to knit, but I love this delicious blog steeped in fibers and the beauty of nature. When this blog pops up in my reader, I just feel a mental “Ah!”

James – Not looking back: Love this guy’s positive outlook on life, his fresh voice, and the things he finds with which to inspire me.

Devon Maid: This is another amazing runner who always inspires me, and shares great insights.

According to the rules, here I propose 11 questions for my nominated bloggers:

  1. What’s your last book read, and your opinion on it in less than 15 words.
  2. What’s your all-time favorite book?
  3. What is a work of art that touched your heart or that you just really like?
  4. Where’s your favorite place to be outdoors? Beach, mountains, forest, meadows, etc.?
  5. What is your favorite outdoor activity?
  6. Has blogging changed you? If so, how?
  7. What’s your favorite thing to do just for fun?
  8. What’s your favorite vegetable?
  9. What has been the biggest adventure of your life so far? The short version. 🙂
  10. Do you have a favorite animal, spirit animal, or animal best friend? If so, please briefly describe.
  11. Name a word that delights you for how it sounds, what it means, or what its etymology is.

Thank you so much, to Glen and all the wonderful bloggers out there that enrich my life every day!

Posted in writing | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

feeling the slow

veru1_10_19aI recently got to do a few miles on the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail. This time of year, it’s rather a lonely place, but I did spy shoe prints, bicycle tracks, and both dog and deer prints in the places where snow still covered the trail.

The day was not actually terribly cold, but it felt like it, with the biting wind. My hands felt frozen inside my gloves, and I dearly wished I had brought a scarf. Nevertheless, as always, it felt so good to be in motion and close to nature.

I wished I could just keep going. When the warm days come, I would love to take my bicycle and do the length of the thing. It traverses the country fields and woods, and a number of small towns. In all, this particular trail extends some 42 miles.

I love the little ghosty things you notice along some of these trails – artifacts of their previous life as a railroad. It’s always delightful to spot an old mile post marker, or to see pieces of the old ties off in the brush. Sometimes there are the empty buildings that obviously stood where they did precisely because of access to the railroad. They had a life, once, and held lives.

I love all that ghosty stuff.

There’s less and less of it, I notice. Progress seems to mean getting rid of things, or updating them to look like something else.

veru1_10_19bAs everything seems to go faster and deeper into all things technology and capitalized, there is something about feeling the slow. When you stand still in those places, it’s the life, the people, you feel. It’s the evidence of personal things, hands-on stuff, the actual relationships that played out in those places that somehow strike one.

As the trail comes into a busier town, it makes me feel more absent, more anonymous, more unseen. Here, there are actual people, not just evidence of them, but there’s a kind of disconnect. They are coming and going, looking at their phones, and hurrying along to the next… what? But I suppose that’s just the way it was, at least in some respects, way back when.

I can’t help but wonder what will we see along the trail some day when we look back.

Posted in life, Michigan, running, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

encounters

veru1_9_19I cut along between some apartment buildings, briefly noticing an angular, skinny guy on the far side of the building before the building comes between us. I keep walking.

Grey sky. Michigan winter. I pull my jacket zipper up snug against the cold.

I hear sounds, louder and louder as I come to the end of the building. As I come abreast of it, I hear it full and big and hurting. I turn my head to the right looking toward the terrible sobs I am hearing.

There she sits, as if she simply fell there, humped over, heaving her sobs on the snow-covered grass. Her hair, a flaming dark pink, waves with her painful breaths. She wails oblivious to me, to anything.

I begin to approach her, but just then, a car comes careening around the corner and up the street. It flies right up in front me, in front of the girl, and roars to a stop. The passenger side door opens and a young woman jumps out. She rushes toward the sobbing figure on the ground.

“We saw. Are you alright?” the woman anxiously asks as she strides purposefully ahead.

The sobs turn into chokes, as the pink-haired girl looks up, clearly fearful.

The woman immediately stops and puts her hands out.

“It’s okay. Are you alright?” she asks, a little softer this time.

Despite her brash hair, the girl on the ground looks like a fawn, tender and young and vulnerable. She cannot hold back her sobs. Clearly frightened of the newcomer, she scrambles to her feet with difficulty, almost falling.

“I’m okay,” the fawn asserts.

She has no pants on. Her legs are entirely bare where she has been sitting akimbo in the snow. They are bleeding. She has no jacket on, just a long, thin shirt.

“You don’t look okay,” the woman challenges, taking a tentative step forward.

But the fawn sees the approach, and she backs up, looking a little wild.

“I’m alright,” she is breathless with sobs.

“Your legs are bleeding.”

“I’m alright. It’s just he pushed me down the stairs. I’m alright.” The fawn steps backward, and looks fearfully at her approacher.

The woman stops in her tracks, and turns toward me, as if to defuse the situation. As she steps close to me, she says under her breath, “We’re calling the cops.” She jerks her head slightly back towards the car, where I see a man at the wheel with his phone to his ear.

The fawn turns and begins to flee in earnest. She runs, half-stumbling, back through the complex with her bleeding legs and surging sobs.

The man jumps out of the car and we all keep our eyes on the fleeing girl.

We step down the street, tracking where she goes. The man relays the information to the dispatcher on the phone, as we note her location. Eventually, the man and the woman jump back in their car and make a distanced pursuit.

The fawn makes her way through the buildings, the parking lot, heads across the street, stumbles down a side street. I can see her progress, and I can see the fear in her. She continues to look wildly back.

The police pull up and talk to the man and woman in the car, then they go the long way around to approach the fleeing woman from another direction. And they do.

The man and the woman pull up and tell me thank you, but I tell them the thanks are due them. Indeed, I am deeply impressed by their caring.

I continue on my walk, sad and shaken. I look back at the police car, and it doesn’t make me feel any better.

I wish, I wish…. what. I wish we could have put our arms around her. I wish we could have held her in her tears. I wish we could have heard her story. I wish we could have found a way to help her, and a way to help the sorry male that pushed her down the stairs.

And I’m not at all convinced that help is on the way.

Later that day, just as darkness descends, I am driving down a quiet street. I get to an intersection. On the far side of the intersection, two people are standing in the middle of the road. A large man and a small woman are angrily screaming at each other, close in to each other’s face. They punctuate themselves with hard, intense gestures. Hands open, hand close, hands point.

My headlights are trained on them, and they are heedless.

I wait. I wonder. I just don’t know.

The man take several steps back and turns without leaving. They stand angrily in my headlights.

I finally turn and drive away.

I wish, I wish. I just don’t know.

Posted in compassion, life, walking | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

setback and opportunity

veru1_8_19.jpg

It took me awhile to finally accept it, but my sewing machine was abandoning me. There was no getting the tension right, stitches were loose or tangled or skipped. I fussed with the tension, changed needles, cleaned the machine. Nothing I did changed anything, in fact, it was getting worse. It got bad enough that I finally realized that the stitches, or the lack of them, simply were completely unacceptable.

This machine is like my right arm. I think in sync with it. We have stitched miles together for years and years. I can’t bear to let it go.

A few years ago, I found one on eBay and bought it as a backup for precisely such a moment. I broke that baby out.

All was well for a little while. Just a little while. Soon, however, it became clear there would be no zig zag stitches. Then, there came an odd noise. Finally, there was a growl and the needle just snapped during straight-and-level stitching. The replacement needle simply slammed into the bobbin. It was done.

It would appear that these machines are just getting old enough, and well-used enough, that they’re ready to retire.

This is a pretty troubling development for me. I need to sew. My old machine knows how I think. I knew what to expect from it, how to work with it. It’s got little pencil marks on it that only the two of us understand.

I thought about taking the machine in for repair, but I have serious doubts that any repair would last long, as old as my machine is.

It would appear that now I am going to have to learn a new machine.

I am trying to digest this. It’s uncomfortable. I also realize that I can’t stew too long, because one day – and I’m sure it won’t be long – I will have need of my machine.

Change. It’s just hard.

Nevertheless, after all these years, I suppose a new machine could be an opportunity. I will have to learn all about my new friend. After a tentative, unbearable glance at new machines, online, it appears likely that it will have tons more stitches than my old machine – so much to explore, right? It might even thread itself. Huh. And, of course, if I take the plunge and invest in a new machine, I will certainly want to justify it by putting it to plenty of use, right?

Change, after all, is a given in life. Sometimes we invite it, and other times, it is foisted upon us. Either way, best to buck up, practice smiling, be curious, and wade in.

I believe it was Einstein who said,

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Still, I’m not quite past my grief just yet. I’m going to open up my backup machine and have a look at the innards. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something fixable in there.

Posted in inspiration, self compassion, sewing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

flight path

veru1_6_19

Absolutely spectacular day here yesterday. The temperature soared up to near 50 degrees, with blue, blue skies lavishing the scenery. Too good not to be out in it.

I ventured out this time to a town with which I am not familiar. I just wanted to explore a little.

Along the way, I travelled country roads, and that wonderful phenomenon took me by surprise: the way things just fall away from you as you leave the city behind and you begin to absorb the calm of the country. It feels almost physical. Worries, concerns, the general buzz of background stress just begin to drop away.

Once I arrived, I discovered that the town had a riverwalk. So, of course, I started walking.

As I set out, I heard the loud honking of geese just overhead. I quickly realized that I was surrounded by them – on the water, in the air, in the field. Apparently the migrating geese liked this location, and I just happened to be there at the right time.

They were wary, but neither did they flee. It was such a treat to see them all, and so close, and at this particular moment – a moment of change.

I wended my way along the path, also noticing that there were quite a few ducks, carrying on a rather lively discussion, too.

When I had walked a ways along, I looked back across the field where so many geese were resting. Just then, two people walked out. Instead of walking the path, they walked straight into the field. And, naturally, this inspired the entire assembly of geese in the vicinity to take to the air. It was a lovely sight to behold, though I was chagrined that their stop-over was interrupted.

I just stood and watched the rising layers of geese, easily forming their orderly flight arrangements. Up, up, up, and sailing off into the blue all together.

I wonder how far their travels will take them, when I’ll see them returning. Why now is the right time.

So much that I don’t know. So much beautiful mystery in life.

Posted in inspiration, nature, walking | Tagged , , | 6 Comments