Leaning in with Her, The American Warrior Woman.

Leaning in with Her, The American Warrior Woman.

“I want to express gratitude to all the millions of women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed, bills to pay, and dreams to pursue.” ~ Oprah Winfrey, Golden Globes Speech

Generations of American warrior women
Standing up for what’s right
Against tyranny and bullies
At the risk of…everything.

Things could go real bad real soon.
Or, we the people, could consent
To some sort of reset,
Like a ship off course.

Like adults.
Like Americans.
Like now.

How We Can Create a Respect Movement.

Will you meet me on The Respect, Compassion and Action Bridge in 2018?

“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist…but when the law undertakes to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions… exclusive privileges to make the rich richer and the more potent more powerful, the humble members of society have a right to complain of the injustices of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evil exists only in its abuses.’ ~ President Andrew Jackson

Hello 2018,

We greet you with raw and ready hearts. 2017 challenged us.

For me, not like 2016 when my beloved died. That year almost broke me.

Still, I limped through most of 2017. Is it true for the collective? Are we all in this together?

What’s worse than being knocked down or crawling through the struggle is starting to believe stagnation, or even backsliding is normal.

When we get smacked down with too many triggers or linger too long in a season that’s meant to be temporary, grief becomes us.

Bombarded with too much danger, too much rhetoric, too much power wielded illegitimately and selfishly at the expense of people’s souls, too much fake patriotism, fake Christianity, and fake politicians leading us, we crave a break from what’s happening in our country and the world.

Sh*t! We almost want to watch fake reality shows!

This is us. This is our country, The United States of America. Acting divided.

Our 2017 experience included Mother Nature sweeping with her hurricane broom. She’s cleaning up. And we came together in times like that. Thank God.

Chaos. Catastrophe. Disaster. Scandal. Death. Lies. Corruption. Collusion.

All this made my personal grief feel minor next to the collective mourning over our country’s pandemonium.

But, hello 2018! Welcome to the shift.

Listen, we’re Americans. We’re stubborn. We’re independent. We don’t like to be told to come to the table; we like to be invited. And, we expect there to be food for all when we arrive.

See, we like things running smoothly. We want to believe in our justice and electoral systems. We prefer our Presidents act Presidential.

We want people to be treated with respect, dignity, fair pay, and opportunity to compete for the American dream—so we can focus on our own lives.

Yeah, we’re a little self-centered. We’re used to being entertained.

Things are changing. The 11th hour is upon us. We might be a little out of shape, but we won’t stay out of the big game. Not when it counts.

In 2018, we do not like greedy men manipulating our democracy.

We’re not British, but we Americans have a certain decorum.

It does not include crass and violent actions against women or crazy boys with bad hair banging drums for nuclear war.

In our hang-loose American society, we still care about the least among us.

Education, health care, environment are the seeds we sow for our children and our children’s children. These are the safety nets of civilized society.

Hey, we might be slow to the table, but don’t think just because you didn’t invite us, we won’t show up.

We go when we feel called. Truthfully, we didn’t think our voice was required. We thought we had systems in place. Geez, gosh! We never thought it would get this bad.

But, now you arrive and enliven us, 2018. Now, we hear the call.

To save our democracy, decency, decorum, respect and kindness. To restore the dignified character of our country.

Truth and advocacy.

We’re opening our eyes, thinking for ourselves, researching facts, and reaching a boiling point in our individual minds and hearts.

Collectively, we move toward the good. We consider our neighbors. We’re Americans, in the best sense of the word that some have tried to pervert.

There’s a shift, like when you’ve been dating the wrong guy and you’re trying to see the positive, but he keeps doing stupid things and so you’re in the in-between… until he crosses some nonnegotiable line you may not have even known you had.

Suddenly, it’s game on.

You stand up and speak truth. You remember who you are. This isn’t it.

Like when you’re searching for a new job before you’ve told anyone, and one day your lips tell your boss you quit. Scary. This is a time for reckoning.

Like when you start packing before you even know where you’re moving.

Taking in the ridiculous scenarios of 2017 packed our bags and mentally readied us to move. Forward. With the heavy baggage.

Or, for some of us, 2018 may slap us awake like the day I witnessed a teenage girl beating the crap out of another at the park across the street while other kids laughed, cheered, and videoed the fight on their phones.

“Hey, what the hell are you doing? I called the police,” I said, even though my leg shook like Elvis and in my panic I forgot to hit send after 911.

Our democracy is the girl being beaten. What’s going on is wrong. People are applauding. Others hide in our houses and pretend what we clearly see is not as bad as it is.

No more.

In 2018, we speak. We question. We consider. We make noise. We show compassion. We listen to what’s behind the rhetoric. We research.

We bring back a little thing called FACTS.

We avoid violence and name calling. We focus on shared values and ideals.

We find common ground on which to restore and strengthen our communities, society and country.

We’re not fools; we know there’s a lot of faking going on.

Let’s be real. We can create the kind of country that offers fulfillment for all.

Not prideful. Not egotistical. Not my-hands-are-bigger-than-your-hands charades.

What about a Respect Movement? Respect yourself. Respect your neighbors and fellow citizens. Fellow humans. You know, God’s children.

Kind of like Jesus did in the Bible, if you believe he was a good example. When the times called for it, like when religion was perverted and money was worshipped, that dude got mad!

Blind belief after the truth has frayed is ignorance waiting to be revealed.

We’re not blind. Now, we speak from our hearts and minds.

Profit isn’t the only bottom line. There’s a cost to pretense.

This moment in history can be the blip or this can be the blow-up. We’ve got to show up.

Let’s peak behind the curtain and see what’s behind the political reality show because we might just marry one of these fellows.

Do we respect these folks? Do we believe their words? Very few. Regardless, we, the people still regard the United States of America and our ideals.

Here’s a few words from THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE:

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed, that when any form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

Those framers gave us the manual: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—not Power, Greed and Inequality.

This isn’t the beginning of our country and this isn’t Selma, but these growing pains call for courage.

I haven’t been as brave and actionable as I liked to believe I would’ve been if old enough during the intense 1960s.

See, my generation has enjoyed the good fortune of not having to be involved. We’ve been riding on the work of generations before us.

This isn’t about politics. It’s about civics. Doing our civic duties. Yep, all of us. We’re a family and we all have chores.

Let’s not let our American house and family go down in shambles.

Let’s not be the naïve child who believes her parents will never divorce, although she’s witnessed her family’s splintering all along.

We insist our children get an education. It’s not just to get a good paying job, is it? What have we learned? What were the lessons?

Civil rights. Vietnam. Suffragettes. Authoritarianism. Journalism. Voting Rights. Environmental Protections. Dictators. Authoritarian regimes. Rhetoric.

Gosh, what about the bomb on Nagasaki that was a baby compared to the ones we’ve created now?

Oh, please. The time is late, but it’s ours. It seems big, overwhelming. I know.

Let’s start small.

Let’s start with respect, the kind of self-respect that calls us to step up.

Respect is a bridge we can walk toward tomorrow.

Let’s do this.

 

What I Learned from Buying a Homeless Man Breakfast. #bloglikecrazy

What I Learned from Buying a Homeless Man Breakfast. #bloglikecrazy

“But we progressives have done our share of offending, in ways we sometimes don’t even realize are insulting.” ~ Van Jones, Beyond the Messy Truth

My sister had a work conference in Denver. I drove out from our home in Ohio with my dog Phoenix to meet her.

During the days, I wrote and took breaks to take my dog the four blocks to the patch of grass called a dog park.

On these walks, I saw an abundance of homeless people. Normally, when a privileged gal like me crosses paths with homeless souls, it’s a brief encounter.

Often, I’m going to a concert or play. I see sad eyes, a sign, or a request for help. I often give. I often don’t. I move on, back to my car and my comfortable home.

In this case, it was back to our Marriott Hotel room. My schedule and mind were open. I was on vacation!

I felt both guilty for making my dog stay on the 11th floor of a hotel and kind of giddy to see her riding elevators and indulging in city smells.

I felt safe with Phoenix’s 90-pound Black Lab body beside me. If alone, I might not have ventured out at all. Typically, I’m confident, but I wanted to be invisible to any danger, which I sensed in the city air.

Witnessing so many homeless people several times each day weighed on my heart. I felt helpless, but what could I do?

On day two, at a breakfast spot that allowed me to order at the door and wait outside with my dog, I doubled my order and asked for two bags.

I set out on a mission to give a hungry person the same delicious breakfast I indulged in. I asked God to lead me.

What about that guy across the street? I thought. Oh, poor guy. He doesn’t even have any shoes. Oh, wait, he’s got one shoe on.

Something happened to my body as I watched the man spread his toes and inject a needle between them. Heroine? I felt drenched in sadness. Some things are best left on TV.

Well, he’s not a candidate for the food. I felt defeated and walked back toward my hotel, still searching. There were some guys in a group who said hello as Phoenix and I walked through them.

As I neared the Marriott, I saw a man digging in the trash. As I approached, he moved on.

From behind his back, I hollered, “Hey, guy!”

He turned, as if he was in trouble. I said, “Are you hungry?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Here, I got you breakfast,” I said, handing him the bag.

He grinned the most beautiful smile a toothless man could.

Happiness. Relief. Gratitude. His. It all hit me like light from God.

Hours later, as I was leaving the hotel lobby, I grabbed a second cup of coffee. Off my dog and I went so she could practice crapping on a city sidewalk.

It wasn’t long before I saw another man digging in the trash. I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned with a defensive look of anger and shame.

“Do you want a cup of coffee?” I asked, as I held the cup out to him.

Relief. Humility. Grace. He nodded and took it. I moved on.

A few yards away, another man stopped me and said, “I saw what you did. That was really nice of you.”

“It’s the least I could do,” I said.

I didn’t expect to be noticed, but neither did the guy digging in the trash.

Shouldn’t we notice each other? We look away, not because we don’t care, but because it feels overwhelming.

Yes, I did something nice.

To give to someone in need, scrounging for the basics you and I take for granted, is a tremendous high.

Because I slowed down and looked, one simple act entered my mind and was easily delivered.

Sadness seeped into my soul as I tried to imagine being homeless and hungry.

I’ve actually never been hungry—not like that. Not where I’d abandon my pride and dig for something to eat with people watching. That’s hunger.

I’ve rarely gone hours on any morning without a cup of hot delicious coffee. It’s a little thing, my morning routine.

How lucky am I?

On my last morning there, the table in the lobby was loaded with pastries. As Phoenix and I headed for the dog patch, which happened to be where a group of homeless folks hung out, I loaded up what I could carry, stuffing coffee cups with croissants and Danishes to feed my new addiction.

I saw a few young men huddled in a group. I thought they were homeless, but I was afraid to go up to them directly and I didn’t want to be insulting.

So, I set the cups of croissants and coffees next to a light post, tried to make eye contact with one of the guys, pointed to the cups and then at him to convey my message.

I turned and headed back to my easy life.

I tried not to turn to look back to see if they’d gone for it and for the brief second I did I saw no movement. Eyes forward, I told myself.

Even if that guy didn’t grab it, whoever was meant to find it would.

No, it wasn’t as fun as the face-to-face light show, but I felt good.

I felt good, doing something little. Of course, the problem is bigger than me, breakfast, or a cup of coffee.

I was on vacation. I’d get in my car, travel on, and head home to my comfortable life with a soft bed and warm coffee to greet my mornings.

But, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that toothless smile.

 

How Grief Helps Us Grow. #bloglikecrazy

“Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed.” ~ Wikipedia

Grief is a truth teller when we like to believe the lies.

Grief slays us from our easy chair and smiles at our idea of control.

I thought her evil, pointing out my deficiencies, even stealing joy and freedom.

Grief speaks the loudest at funerals, but that’s not the only place her voice is heard.

She whispers throughout our lives and we resist her presence repeatedly.

She says: He’s got another woman (when he does). Your mom has cancer and will likely die. (Sometimes grief sounds like a doctor.) Your parents are divorcing. You hate this job. You’re going to lose the house. The doctors had to cut off his foot. He’s unresponsive.

We think grief is the b*tch, but she’s more like my new stepmom when I was a teenager: introducing rules which felt restrictive, but showed me what it meant to be a family.

Grief is strong and no doubt she can be harsh, but she’s loving.

She’s like the junior high school teacher who made my brother read in front of the class. Except Bill couldn’t read; so he slapped her.

That teacher revealed a truth my brother had been denying.

That’s the kind of teacher grief is—willing to be hated, even abused, in order to remove the mask.

A friend of mine told me he was sexually abused, by more than one person, starting at age five. He told me he doesn’t feel sad or angry. He says it didn’t affect him. In fact, he’s fine.

I recognize that mask. It’s the I’m okay mask.

I wore it for almost a decade after I was raped. I not only denied the pain, but avoided it entirely (actually how denial works).

I thought I was brave. I thought I was strong. I thought I was fine.

Actually, I didn’t think much about that night at all.

It wasn’t a #metoo campaign that made me face my pain.

A qualified therapist knew it takes more than just listening to a client like me paint pretty pictures so she feels better.

This therapist encouraged me to take off my I’m fine mask, look at the truth, and allow the tears to break where my trust had been violated.

She helped me face what I hadn’t known how to. And to move past it.

It’s not only the experiences we want to avoid; it’s the grief.

Grief says, “Yes, you were raped.”

What a b*tch. What a truth teller.

It takes courage to face our pain. That’s why so many women don’t come forward until years later, if at all. It’s easier to deny.

Our ego convinces us to be “strong” and in doing so, we often end up lying to ourselves through minimizing.

I have friends whose fathers left them or never showed up when they were kids. For years I’ve watched them dismiss the impact of an event like that.

Then, as adults when they get conscious and courageous, they can cry in the arms of grief. It’s the beginning of releasing that mask they all but glued on their beautiful faces.

When they finally take off the mask and let the grief in, the light comes. too.

When we face people’s (including our own) imperfections, manipulations, and violations, at first we’re hit with grief. But then, we’re set free.

We’re no longer captive to the actions of others. That’s why society applauds so many women and men coming out of the shadows and saying #metoo.

We’re witnessing their individual healing and society’s collective awakening.

We minimize our pain not because we’re strong or brave, but because on some level, we believe the grief could devour us.

She won’t. She waits like a patient parent or teacher. She helps us remove our I’m fine mask and the illusion of being in control.

Grief invites us to lay our hurt and humanity at her feet.

She holds us in our raw pain.

Then, like my stepmother and my brother’s teacher, grief helps us grow into more conscious and compassionate human beings.

 

How to be Soft like Sunshine, Strong like Storm. #bloglikecrazy

“Hanging around for an endless repetition of the same cycle is not loving, but merely dysfunctional.” ~ Marianne Williamson, Enchanted Love

I’m the kind of woman who’d rather face morning with tears than flatness.

I spent decades defining my emotions as positive or negative. Guess which ones I determined to align with?

When the “bad” ones vied for my attention, I changed my state.

It worked. I presented powerful to the world—and myself.

How can a woman (or a man) be whole if afraid to feel feelings?

I was afraid because in my youth anger awakened uncontrolled rage. (Never mind that I had reason.) Better not do that anymore. Check.

Sadness ignited suicidal tendencies. (Often, when women turn anger inward, it invites suicide; for men, it’s homicide.) Wow. You’re freaking people out. Stop it. I did.

I got my feelings under control. I “mastered” my emotions.

But, those slaves had a propensity to rise up at inconvenient times.

What if I worked with them? What if I befriended my feelings? What—all of them?!

Yes, now I even invite them. I allow them in my life. I listen to what they’re trying to tell me. I give them space and voice.

I find they don’t like to be pushed down, set aside, denied or renamed.

Feelings offer truth, insight, and opportunity for new understanding.

This is the more challenging path, like learning the material rather than just acing the test.

The way medical students studying diseases wonder if they have them, at first, one may worry honoring feelings defines her.

It’s in our language: She’s sad. He’s an angry person.

Enough with that.

I choose to feel my feelings. Is that so radical?

Sometimes, we feel sad or mad or blissed out.

These are our feelings—gifts certainly as valuable as thoughts—which (mine, at least) have been wrong a few thousand times.

I’m coming full circle, in one sense childlike, in the way children skin their knees, cry, and then rise to play again.

But, I’m more. I’m alive with my full feminine essence.

This is my FU you to a patriarchal society that deems it necessary to deny me of my emotions because they scare you. (She’s a hysterical woman!)

This is my hello to my dancing soul.

I was told, and maybe you were, too:
Let it go.
Don’t cry.
Laugh it off.
Be professional.
Don’t be so sensitive.

And, my favorite: “I’ve got it handled,” as in, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head.” Ha! I do not need to be handled!

If you want to care for me, consider me in all my femininity.

Fierce as a blazing fire.
Wild as the wind.
Soft as sunshine.

We reclaim our feminine nature.

Does that scare you? Maybe it should.

Or, maybe you’re so deep in denial, telling yourself the things you’ve been telling us, you refuse to feel fear even in the face of Mother Nature’s wrath.

Do you think femininity is weak?

The jokes, baby, you keep telling them. The lies, honey, you keep believing.

Not me. Not anymore. I’m out.

Out like the feminine force of nature.

You didn’t listen. You tried to shut us down and deny our feelings.

Patriarchal bullsh*t is being blown up. Where will you stand? Choose.

In the hurricane. In the political sh*t storm. In truth like a tornado.

You might just have to frack off because my sisters and I are speaking truth, crying tears, and dancing joy—real joy, not some plastic crap you tried to sell us.

We are the mothers in Mother Nature.

We’re as soft goddesses and as seductive as the sun.

We’re the giggling girls.

We’re the children and the women saying NO. And being heard.

We’re women welcoming our feelings and our experiences.

You won’t always see us smiling to suit you.

We will never line up to salute a lie.

We’re gathering like bees on flowers. We can produce sweet honey or we can sting.

We feel our feelings—full, feminine, fierce, radiant, juicy, messy, ours.

We invite you to join us.

Welcome to everything but denial.

 

 

 

How to Endure the Darkness. #bloglikecrazy

“All not-good things in the world are transient, containing within themselves the seeds of their own destruction.” ~ Peace Pilgrim

Sometimes darkness comes upon me as strong as my brother’s fist when we were kids.

I remember times in my youth when I believed darkness was my destiny.

Darkness can be like claustrophobia; it’s only threatening until the release.

Finding my claustrophobia funny, an ex-husband used to lock me in our tiny half-bath. I took control back by hiding books under the sink. My panic dissolved when I dove into reading. Then, the door opened.

Now, I prepare for darkness with my candles: prayer, writing, yoga, music, movement, and occasionally conversation.

The greatest power is knowing darkness’ temporariness.

If you’ve been engulfed by the black night, I offer you the idea the light will return.

I can’t tell you when or how. Just consider the idea: This is temporary.

Say it and let it seep into your mind.

Sometimes, it can be a long, lonely night. I will not belittle your darkness.

I’ve tasted its bitterness and touched its sharp edges. But, I won’t pity you.

See, I believe we’re made for these moments because we’re capable and there’s something for us in the dark.

Sometimes, the strongest way to wrestle is to simply sit with gloom and allow it to pass through like a ghost.

While you endure, I send you a candle and my faith that you’ll find the light again.

Hold still. Let your aching heart rest.

Ego and others tell us to fight, as if we aren’t already trying hard enough or just need fresh affirmations.

Whatever works, but so many suggestions seem to come from people born with sparklers in their hands and music playing in their minds.

My birth certificate says I was born in morning, but I’ve danced with darkness since childhood.

Five decades in, she no longer scares me. She can’t slay me.

Darkness is a visitor. I give her the attention she deserves. I offer her tea and ask her what she knows.

I listen, aware of her tendency to tell tall tales and make fake new feel real.

And yet, like that really tough teacher, I’ve learned some of my biggest lessons from darkness.

I don’t pretend her away or allow darkness to highjack my identity.

I respect her when she arrives in my home, regardless of invitation.

Sometimes, like the friend who talks too much and keeps saying he’s leaving, darkness stays for what feels like forever.

I encourage her departure. I even hold the door open, but pushing her is like pushing the lid of a jack-in-the-box.

I now trust darkness’ temporariness. In this, I am strong.

I have faith in light’s return, as a child has faith her parents will come home to release the bad babysitter.

Until then, I trust myself to sit with darkness.

She will not manipulate me into choosing her; I’m attracted to the light.

Soon, darkness will walk out my door, dropping lessons as she goes.

Sweet light will make herself known again. Because she always does.

Seduction. #bloglikecrazy

Men, you came to me
Eager, focused, enthusiastic,
Needing, wanting, desiring
Me, your only goal.
I jumped into your arms—willingly.
Then, you turned away
Leaving me baffled,
Bewildered, wondering
Why I succumbed
To charms now denied.
You made me realize
My own power.
You can walk on, men.
You can come back,
Calling on me,
Begging for affection.
It’s not rejection, guys
That I’m aiming your way,
But more an understanding
Of what you are not,
Of all I am & all I can do.
More than beauty,
More than a body,
A soul, a spirit,
Seduction beyond all
You ever offered.
I am a woman,
Full, present, real.
And, thanks to you,
Realistic.
You came to me, but
I have come into my own.