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When the Personal Becomes Political, Rest in Power RBG, and Bye Don

When I heard about The Honorable and Notorious RBG’s death, I felt compelled to channel my grief, and to find ways to let her memory be a revolution. And so, I find myself writing a post that is both personal and political.  
Image credit:  RBG in 2015  Sebastian Kim/Time Magazine (p.164 of Notorious RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, by Erin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik)
On November 3rd, 2020, my father, an immigrant,  and naturalized citizen, who loved this country and all the wonderful ideals it stands for, would have been 100 years old. I am proud and grateful that I can vote, and I will vote with love, for this beautiful, if imperfect, nation, in honor of my parents memory.
When Trump was running for office, my reasons NOT to vote for him included Trump’s racist tendencies, his treatment of women, his disregard and disrespect for veterans, and his insensitivity towards people living with disabilities. Intellectually, I disagreed with his views. Instinctively, as a mother, my response to Trump was, and continues to be, visceral repugnance. He made the hairs on my neck stand up straight, and I knew, in every cell of my body, that he would make life less safe for the most vulnerable people in our society. As a woman of mixed race heritage, I have come across bullies throughout my entire life, and I know a bully when I see one. As a mental health professional, I worked with women affected by domestic violence. Trump has all the earmarks of a perpetrator.
The reasons above are why I did not vote for Trump in 2016. I told myself, and my friends, it’s not political, it’s personal, it’s about human decency, this goes beyond politics. I want to feel good about the leaders of our country. I want to point to their behavior and be able to say to my children and grandchildren that their behavior should be emulated. Not so with Trump and his cohorts. I believed that friends, family, neighbors, and fellow citizens would exercise their own critical thinking, and come to their own conclusions. When he won the election, I was stunned. We now know that Russia interfered in our electoral process through disinformation and social media outlets. Still, we are a democracy, and every vote matters.
For the upcoming elections, the issues have now moved beyond these personal, intuitive, and emotional responses. The personal has now moved to the political. Now I see that big bully going after my beloved American democracy, each of its checks and balances, and its beautiful institutions. Attacking the fourth estate, our free press, was just the beginning. Installing an attorney general with authoritarian leanings, using force to intimidate peaceful protestors, politicizing a public health crisis, lying to the public about the coronavirus, pressuring the CDC to withhold information and change their reports, deliberately hobbling the USPS, spreading misinformation about mail in voting to discourage our free elections…. Oh, no you don’t Mr. Trump. I don’t have a degree in law or political science, but I don’t need one to see your disregard for our beautiful country.
I’m a mother. I’m a citizen. I paid attention during my high school political science class. I listen to the news, on both sides, Fox and MSNBC, and I think about it all. I have read the constitution, and the bill of rights. Have you? We moms are paying attention. I repeat, what started as personal, has now become political. Get your hands off my democracy. Get your hands off our electoral process. Seasoned moms, hell, even brand-new moms, are not frightened by schoolyard bullies, even if their address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The problem is that bullies, given power, will continue to take more. Bullies given power, become tyrants. We are watching you. You have done more than enough damage, and there will be a lot of repair to be done. That’s okay. Human beings are resilient. We can show the world that our democracy, though it has taken a beating, is resilience. At least you have shone a light on what has been broken all along. And thank you for  that. What we don’t look at, we can’t address. But that’ll do, now. Step aside, there is much healing work to be done. Pack your bags – the moms are voting you out. Bye Don.

Talk to me like I’m Five Years Old

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During the past number of months I have been recovering from a back injury with many blog posts bubbling up in my thoughts. The overriding subject is that of pain. Pain as informative, instructive, as an experience, as a teacher. I know that today is Thanksgiving, and this is NOT a post of complaint, far from it.

This injury gave me an unexpected opportunity, even a mandate, to stop, slow down, take stock, be still. Taking a page from The Wae Center, a community of adults with developmental disabilities, I decided that if I couldn’t move very much , I may as well meditate every day, just as they do. When you have been going a mile a minute, stopping short can be a bit of a shock . I was seeking an anchor and steady ground.

About this time, a dear friend gave me a book called “The Energy of Prayer,” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a wonderful book that I highly recommend for anyone of any belief system who is interested in deepening his or her mindfulness, reducing stress, and softening the heart. In the appendices of the book , the author has outlined a number of meditation practices that are easy to try. My favorite is described as the five year old meditation, which invites you to visualize first yourself, then your father, then your mother, at the age of five, and to meditate on the vulnerabilities, fears and challenges of that time. Wait, I am making it more complicated than it sounds. Here is the simple directive, as excerpted from a page in the book:

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“Breathing in, I see myself as a five year old child. Breathing out, I smile to the five year old child.

Breathing in, I see the five year old child, who is myself, as very fragile and vulnerable.

Breathing out, I smile to my five year old child in myself, with understanding and compassion. ”

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This is repeated for your father, then your mother, and then acknowledging the challenges faced by each of them, manifesting within yourself, you being the ultimate conduit of healing. Even if you were to attempt the first segment of this meditation, I think you may experience some opening, softening of your heart, a palpable experience of lovingkindness towards yourself that, unbidden, will naturally spill out to others.

Getting back to the pain.

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Parallel to this deeply comforting experience of lovingkindness, and reassuring sense of peace that seemed to well up from my moments of quiet meditation, was this thrumming drumbeat of relentless pain. Sharp, searing, burning, aching, presenting itself in all manners of nuance. I wanted to run, to sprint away from it. Yet, as limitless as my mind might feel during meditation, this ratfink pain had me corseted, teasing and taunting me with all the things I could not do. Again, I need to send a shout out to  my friends at the Wae Center, whose daily embodied experience has been one of limitation for as long as they can remember, yet who are truly my mentors in terms of patience, gratitude and finding joy and fun, a lion’s share of the time. A shout out and a bow down.

Pain takes a lot of energy and there were many times when my default position was to find ways to distract myself from the experience. Which is one reason that I now can list all of Ally McBeal’s failed relationships in chronological order and have became an expert at typing while standing up and in a variety of other positions. My deep need for distraction and realizing the quantities of energy it takes to manage pain is causing me to reevaluate ways that others might “act out”, avoid, or make less than loving choices while doing their darndest to manage not only physical, but emotional, mental or psychic pain.

Healing happens in its own timeline. The body will not be rushed, and neither will the heart. As a wise woman recently told me, the universe has its own clock. No matter how much you want or plan for something to happen in a certain way, at a certain time, often, you just can’t force it.

The surprise bonus is that pain can also be a connector and it certainly brings out those friends who (thank god!) you just can’t get rid of, no matter how often you whine or complain or when the zen like wisdom of your enlightened five year old self disintegrates into the crabby, pessimistic tantrums of your fussy five year old self. Let’s face it,  I’m not that good at meditating yet.

This Thanksgiving, I wish to say thank you to those friends who keep sticking around through the ups and downs, the pain and pleasure, both the fun and the not so fun stuff. Those who were and continue to be generous with their kindness and friendship. You know who you are! I love you lots. And I know there are some veterans with pain, illness and the like here in the blogosphere who humble me with their experiences. If you have any tips and insights on managing, surviving and thriving with chronic pain, I am all ears.

Thanks for reading this long and painful (pun intended) post. Happy Thanksgiving.

Images: Family photos of me at around age 6, Photo of pages 138-139 of Thich Nhat Hanh’ book The Energy of Prayer, How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice, charcoal drawing by Miho Watabe

Merry Christmas

perfume fundfund 2Wishing all a very Merry Day, sharing a sweet  gift that my daughter put together for me…filled with sweet possibilities of the new year…isn’t that the best kind of gift, after all?

Fox Demon

Although the overall intent of my blog is to remain apolitical, it seems a timely moment to reblog my daughter’s use of traditional Himalayan art motifs as social commentary…

Dad's American Beauty

Fox News god 2Fox Demon, gouache painting on paper, Miho Watabe, 2011, Artist’s comments:

In Himalayan art, there are many depictions of wrathful deities standing in powerful angry poses. As demonic as they seem, these deities are actually wrathful protectors who focus on protecting humanity. My Himalayan “demon” embodies the Fox News Channel and is an over excited wrathful protector that it is stomping on the human figure under its feet to “protect” him from looking into the unbroken mirror, a traditional Himalayan symbol of truth.

The Fox News Demon feels that it knows what is best for humanity and therefore will resort to anything to protect it, this includes the destruction of the gold lined mirror that is shattered by it’s right foot.

The Modern Day Skull Necklaces and Crown

In place of the ornamental skulls that are usually tied around wrathful Himalayan deities’ necks, the Fox News Demon wears the heads…

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Happy Wednesday

Happy Wednesday

from the garden, a few seasons ago, taken by my talented cousin

This is my first time to Reblog and I thought in honor of the new month and season approaching, I’d share this Friday Fictioneers Challenge. This week’s photo is particularly intricate and could take a writer in a limitless number of directions…Enjoy!

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple

Will March come in like a lion or a lamb? No matter. It’s a new month to gather and write. So bring out the pencils, the pens, desktops, laptops and any other implements of construction. Let your imagination soar as you wrestle one hundred words into submission because it’s time for

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS!

**We set a new record last week with 105 postings!**

THE CHALLENGE:

Write a one hundred word story that has a beginning, middle and end. (No one will be ostracized for going over or under the word count.)

THE KEY:

Make every word count.

THE RULES:

  • Copy your URL to the Linkz collection. You’ll find the tab following the photo prompt. It’s the little white box to the left with the blue froggy guy. Click on it and follow directions. This is the best way to get the most reads and comments.
  • MAKE SURE YOUR LINK  IS…

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Adieu Faithful Friend

fudgeHot Fudge Gee Willikers, Spring 2004 – February 26, 2013.

You will be missed, thank you for sharing your playful and gentle wisdom with us these past nine years. Sometime I will write about the gifts you brought me, but not tonight.

 

Happy Anniversary, Wei Lim and Dolores

dateMarried, February 9th, 1952 through April 7th 2012photo

 

Mixed Race Marriage: The Hidden Flower by Pearl S. Buck

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I found this old book of my mother’s on this snowed in morning, The Hidden Flower, by Pearl S. Buck. Published in 1952, the year my parents married, The Hidden Flower is about a young interacial couple who fall in love on the heels of the second world war. She is the daughter of a repatriated Japanese physician who left America rather than be confined to a concentration camp. He is a young American soldier, who inherits his family’s estate in Virginia, one of the many states with anti miscegenation laws. The story that follows, how their marriage evolves and how their relationship is affected by the harsh atmosphere of the times is profound and touching. At one point, the young bride reflects on the destiny of her unborn child: You belong to two countries, and yet have no place to welcome you, no place to lay your head. 

The surprising conclusion is hopeful and somewhat utopian for the times. I respect that Buck was writing about these issues with such passion –  providing a literary forerunner of the civil rights movement. The fact that my mother loved this author and had this book in her collection gives me a little window into her thoughts and how she must have felt as a woman from Kansas just married to a man from Shanghai, at a time when their union was illegal in at least sixteen states.  Anti miscegenation laws were declared unconstitutional in 1967 – when my sister was twelve and I was five.

A shout out to all the “world babies” out there!

What I See: Mabel’s Neighborhood, Taos, New Mexico

ImageA simple walk through the neighborhood from the Mabel Dodge Luhan House was a feast of sunlight, colors and local artistry. It was cold but we didn’t care. ImageThe local homes implemented natural elements like adobe, wood and stone.ImageEvery surface seemed to be a canvas for light, color, texture and shadow.ImageThe pop of turquoise blue became a favorite sight.ImageThese charming benches sit in the center of Taos Plaza.