Monday, November 12th, 2018

Reflections on Elections on Veterans’ Day

What a bold, optimistic experiment our nation and government is. So idealistic. So wise about the dynamics of Power. So against autocratic rule. It was designed and created by men (what might have been if women were in the room!) who had just rebelled against their former country and they needed to create a new nation.

I thought about this  as I left the house to vote at the local school on Tuesday. It was pouring down rain, the lines were long, and the system unable to handle it with ease. I didn’t mind the difficulty. Our vote is not a casual happening. It is the moment that power is dispersed across our country. It seemed right that it took some work, discomfort and endurance to use my power. I saw people I knew who I was aware would not vote as I would. And it felt grand. Profound. We can disagree about our vote and have a nice conversation in line. That’s our premise.

While in the Peace Corps, I was in Panama City., Panama. The US had just had an election. My then, husband and I were watching the Inauguration of Nixon in a doctor’s office waiting room. The Star Spangled Banner was playing. There were five Panamanians in the room with us. All were quiet. Then a Panamanian man asked why we were not standing for our national Anthem. He went on to say that it was a miracle to see a transition of power without violence. We jumped up, hands over our hearts, glad the anthem was long enough to allow us a moment of pride rather than what the shame or indifference the Panamanians perceived. It took a foreigner to give us a kick in the pants to make us more aware.

After voting, on Tuesday, I went to the Mall to the Apple Store with my husband. I ended up with three hours on my hands while the sick computer was backed-up. I have low Mall tolerance. I wandered and poked about. I was still thinking about voting and wearing my “I voted” sticker proudly.

I didn’t see anyone else with a sticker. I began to ask people about voting. It started out casually. I ended up talking with young women clerks who looked to be in their early  mid- twenties. None had voted and none were going to. All were good at helping me in the store—nice and competent. I only asked one question; “Did you vote?”

Here are direct quotes from my tiny sample:

—No I didn’t vote. Would have had to wake up too early. After work I have to get to my kids daycare

—My husband talks just like Trump, so it doesn’t bother me

—They are all crooks so why vote?

—I don’t get paid enough to be able to vote

—My break isn’t long enough and I don’t know where to go anyway

—I never have voted. Neither do my mom and dad

—All I know is school is out and I had to pay a sitter more than I make

—This isn’t for President, right?

—I don’t know the people so I shouldn’t vote

—My boyfriend did

—Is this Oprah’s thing?

—Won’t matter to Trump

—I know I should but it takes so long

—I would, but I support Trump

I think of Veteran’s Day and lives lost to protect Democracy and I want to go back to the Mall and give the young ladies the kick in the pants awareness I got in Panama. Then I’ll give a kick to schools that don’t teach where Democracy came from and how fragile it can be and why it is worth fighting for. Next I’ll boot our election process that makes it difficult for people to vote.

Last I’ll give a kick in the shins to every politician who messes with elections, who doesn’t respect or understand a fair fight, and doesn’t understand that our democratic process is what creates our unique value in the world. It needs to be valued, protected and modernized.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, November 4th, 2018

Grab Moment of Contentment

 

 

“If a moment of contentment floats my, grab it, extend it, and fill up.”

I just wrote that sentence to end my weekly Sunday Connection email to my family. I’m hoping it didn’t ruin my moment of contentment!! Too much awareness can kill any experience. You begin to experience experiencing which is a joy killer.

My moment of contentment:

—Being in bed with clean linens and pillows just right—a rare confluence.

—Seeing my rag tag bedroom with different eyes—my dad’s easy chair, my mother-in-law’s dresser, the kids table my children used, the grapefruit plant started with the seed from a hospital breakfast on the day of the birth of my first born, my dad’s dusty fedora on top of the book shelf, Mexican tin angels guarding, and books upon books upon books.

—Healing sleep. Three weeks of bronchitis with 2 am coughing fits that involved waking up to use steam, making coffee (red cup) and using inhalers and waiting for enough calm to return to bed. Bless Nyquil. The last three nights have been the kind of sleep with dream of having. Deep, comfy, restorative.

—Being grateful for this imposed fallow time. I have clarity about my “work” that feels good and so am ready to dig in. I got real with me without knowing it. I do want to write and support people doing the work I did—organizational development and I do want to support my new companion book to I PRAY ANYWAY: Devotions for the Ambivalent. I have a strong interest in the trend of the shape shifting going on in religion/spiritual life today. I’ll figure out how to do it using social media my way. (Didn’t need a consultant.) Needed drifty, sleepy, drugged out time in bed!!

—Fall holds on outside my window, not sparkling so much now, but a slow glow that hits my poignancy button. It’s all all all all too perfect and fleeting, which is the recipe for poignant.

I could shift my lens in a blink of the eye and complain about each thing I just extolled. And so I won’t blink. I’ll relish. Like I said to my kids, “If a moment of contentment floats by, grab it, extend it and fill-up.”

 

This book kind of sort of fits in with my thought.

The Art of the Wasted Day

by Patricia Hampl

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday, October 15th, 2018

Noodlings From Rangeley, Maine

“Up to Camp “is how we say it in Maine.We went up to camp into the mountains with our five year old granddaughter for four daysTo our quirky little house on Pleasant StWe bought it for under 30,000 dollars, maybe less. Thirty years ago. Each of our five kids had a lousy summer fixing it up.

One painted kitchen cabinets

One gouged (I mean sanded) the floors.

One poly-urethaned  bead board walls that slanted and so created perpetual drip marks

One had the supreme horror of insulating the space

One weeded and weeded  (stalling, afraid of new assignment) a hopeless raspberry patch

Sullen was the look for that Summer Of Our Discontent. David would go to the hardware store and the kids and I  would all play hooky immediately.Swarming outside for Frisbee and freedom.

Now the house is a living museum.My parents Lazy Boy chairs are there. My dad’s Liberty Bell graphic, framed from the Chicago World’s Fair hangs proudly, a water color my mom painted (first and last one} my childhood game of Cootie, ancient blankets from previous lives and marriages, clothes we can no longer fit into and, best of all, every one of our many college books. David and I were both English Lit majors so there are many duplicates of Penguin Classics—most priced under three dollars.Two original Lady Chatterly’s Lover copies. (Could they be worth something?)

 

Noodlings:

—one of my favorite things is to see a stately dark green pine sprinkled with gold leaves froma birch. Festive, festooned. Not so much a Christmas tree decorated, but more like Cinderella dressed for the ball with jewels in her hair. One gust of wind and back to char woman.

—Our granddaughter in her mom’s and aunt’s old room, door shut, thrilled to have her own space. She immediately unpacked and set things up to meet  her taste. I would hear her various voices as she played all the different parts of her stuffies (cat, goose, chipmunk and bear). Kids playing pretend is my all- time favorite sound.

—Nature didn’t cooperate. We went down to the lake on a warm/hot day. The beach had been closed so there had been no  caretaking. Soooooo we were on the Rangeley  Lake beach land mined with duck poop. Lots and lots of duck poop. We picked our way to the water, shrugged, and picked our way back to the car. We didn’t see a single deer, moose or wild turkey that usually think of our lawn and trees as a salad bar.

—We had goofy drama. The muffler fell of the car. My granddaughter looked like she had chicken pox so we spent an afternoon trying to get her seen. (Never travel without written parental permission to treat a grandkid of have a house without calamine lotion.) The kitten we brought along (yep, we did) disappeared in the house. Issa to the rescue. I was stunned by the fortitude and determination of this five -year- old kid. She searched and searched and searched. And found. The kitten was sound asleep in the very narrow broom closet with the door shut.The problem with mini-drama is that they take time away the “real” trip.  You can guess what Issa will remember—lost kitten and duck poop.

—The  Fall color was the most intense I’ve ever seen it. It was right on the edge of garish. Rollicking maybe. Rolling puffs of gold and orange and red making the mountains soft.The strict, sturdy, upright pines of blackish green were a relief. I get the same kick out of a shower of fall leaves as I do of the first fall of snowflakes. Just makes me immediately happy.

—Most good was the rhythm of the day. No electronic screens. Classical music at breakfast. Quiet. Calm. Slow. Easy. Meals at the same time each day. Washing dishes by hand. Constant coffee at hand. Sitting at the table together each doing our own thing—what I call pioneer table.

Grateful for this interval, this family history, this natural beauty, this  coziness during a time of harshness in our world. This Rangeley time together.

 

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Monday, October 8th, 2018

Pockets of Peace

 

POCKETS OF PEACE

—The world is too much with us: late and soon

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune—

 

Thanks Wordsworth. We are out of tune as a people, as a country as a world.We are discordant. There is not enough common ground to stand on together.And, at this point, we don’t have a process to create social harmony.I believe we will. But for now, we are out of tune.

But while we work out a new social contract with the greatest good for the greatest number, we need to have Pockets of Peace to nurture us to live in the fray. Pockets of Peace are restorative and simple. When I have my five-year-old granddaughter overnight, the deep breathing she finally falls into as her hands relax and I am officially off duty, is a wonderful Pocket of Peace. When my husband and I clash over daily irritations and we shut up and have a silent hug, this is also a pocket of peace.

Other Pockets of Peace for me are when I:

— drink a fresh cup of coffee in a red mug and sit and sip—no thought, no purpose, just coffee

—share a belly laugh and can’t stop, especially if caused by one of my grown kids                        —get an email from a best friend that affirms who and how I am

— write my truth

— do my kind of prayer/reflection and get a glimpse of timelessness

—remember to light a candle

—give up the day. right before sleep and  surrender all imperfections

—treat myself to lunch alone

— create a little beauty that tickles me like a bouquet of paper plate flowers

—climbing into a freshly made bed (that I haven’t made)

 

I have the impulse to sing, “These Are A Few of MY Favorite Things” but I’m not talking so much about indulgence and pleasure as I am about refreshing the self in small ways so that each of us can give what we have to give in a world that needs our individual gifts

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