Monday, May 26, 2014

A Memorial Day for All Veterans, Not Just the Military Ones

I stand across and separately from military professionals this Memorial Day with some understanding on this holiday we call “Memorial Day” – many of whom, like me, suffer from PTSD: men and women who have knowingly stepped into the institution of the United States' military and gone to war – these who have made service inside the walls of violence their very profession – and those that have been drafted or conscripted. Those have suffered and those who have died. I respect you. I respect your family and friends, who gave you and your precious time up for the service of our country.

I stand more closely with civilians with PTSD who are fighting wars in their homes and in their neighborhoods – every day, not as any profession or role, but as individuals who have been and are being bullied, oppressed, abused, assaulted, and raped. I respect you. I respect your family and friends, who gave you and your precious time up for the service of life itself.

You are also fallen soldiers. You are at the same risk as those who have served in the military.  Perhaps even more risk. More because you are unrecognized. And your war is more often a private, invisible one. There are no honorable, dignified words available in our culture to describe the phenomenon. When someone says, "I served in the Gulf War," there are knowing nods and thanks for service. When someone says, "My wife beat me," there are more often messages of disbelief, denial, and shame.

You have no uniform for this role, this position. There are no accolades, ceremonies for this rank if you perform well. There are no honorary guards to receive you and salute you as patriots. No special government facilities that offer special privileges to restore your dignity. No social clubs where you can commune and share your stories. Precious little camaraderie and kinship. And no Purple Hearts to be received waiting with your name on it or to be received by your family if you have died. There is no institution name like “the military” that has some measure of honor to define what you face and deal with.  Just a general word: violence.

For these people, people who wake up every day and try to live, and celebrate life again – those striving to make the world a better place for everyone -- still and in spite of the violence they have known and still live with. For all who have been lost to it. For all who have lost others to it. For the Veterans of Everyday, Civilian Wars in the United States and around the world, I wish you the utmost respect on this Memorial Day. Until there is a day set aside for you as broadly set aside in these United States....

I see you. And I salute you.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

If you want to change the world… love a woman (Lisa Citore)

I liked this poem by Lisa Citore ( and wanted to remember it:

If you want to change the world… love a woman - really love her.
Find the one who calls to your soul, who doesn’t make sense.
Throw away your check list and put your ear to her heart and listen.
Hear the names, the prayers, the songs of every living thing-
every winged one, every furry and scaled one,
every underground and underwater one, every green and flowering one,
every not yet born and dying one…
Hear their melancholy praises back to the One who gave them life.
If you haven’t heard your own name yet, you haven’t listened long enough.
If your eyes aren’t filled with tears, if you aren’t bowing at her feet,
you haven’t ever grieved having almost lost her.
If you want to change the world… love a woman-one woman
beyond yourself, beyond desire and reason,
beyond your male preferences for youth, beauty and variety
and all your superficial concepts of freedom.
We have given ourselves so many choices
we have forgotten that true liberation
comes from standing in the middle of the soul’s fire
and burning through our resistance to Love.
There is only one Goddess.
Look into Her eyes and see-really see
if she is the one to bring the axe to your head.
If not, walk away. Right now.
Don’t waste time “trying.”
Know that your decision has nothing to do with her
because ultimately it’s not with who,
but when we choose to surrender.
If you want to change the world… love a woman.
Love her for life-beyond your fear of death,
beyond your fear of being manipulated
by the Mother inside your head.
Don’t tell her you’re willing to die for her.
Say you’re willing to LIVE with her,
plant trees with her and watch them grow.
Be her hero by telling her how beautiful she is in her vulnerable majesty,
by helping her to remember every day that she IS Goddess
through your adoration and devotion.
If you want to change the world… love a woman
in all her faces, through all her seasons
and she will heal you of your schizophrenia-
your double-mindedness and half-heartedness
which keeps your Spirit and body separate-
which keeps you alone and always looking outside your Self
for something to make your life worth living.
There will always be another woman.
Soon the new shiny one will become the old dull one
and you’ll grow restless again, trading in women like cars,
trading in the Goddess for the latest object of your desire.
Man doesn’t need any more choices.
What man needs is Woman, the Way of the Feminine,
of Patience and Compassion, non-seeking, non-doing,
of breathing in one place and sinking deep intertwining roots
strong enough to hold the Earth together
while she shakes off the cement and steel from her skin.
If you want to change the world… love a woman, just one woman .
Love and protect her as if she is the last holy vessel.
Love her through her fear of abandonment
which she has been holding for all of humanity.
No, the wound is not hers to heal alone.
No, she is not weak in her codependence.
If you want to change the world… love a woman
all the way through
until she believes you,
until her instincts, her visions, her voice, her art, her passion,
her wildness have returned to her-
until she is a force of love more powerful
than all the political media demons who seek to devalue and destroy her.
If you want to change the world,
lay down your causes, your guns and protest signs.
Lay down your inner war, your righteous anger
and love a woman…
beyond all of your striving for greatness,
beyond your tenacious quest for enlightenment.
The holy grail stands before you
if you would only take her in your arms
and let go of searching for something beyond this intimacy.
What if peace is a dream which can only be re-membered
through the heart of Woman?
What if a man’s love for Woman, the Way of the Feminine
is the key to opening Her heart?
If you want to change the world…love a woman
to the depths of your shadow,
to the highest reaches of your Being,
back to the Garden where you first met her,
to the gateway of the rainbow realm
where you walk through together as Light as One,
to the point of no return,
to the ends and the beginning of a new Earth.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How Sometimes Tongue-In-Cheek Breaks All the Way Through the Skin

I wake again. One of those horrid, terror-filled mornings. Everyone is asleep. I am disconnected. In all of the spinning, this song comes to mind: Randy Newman's "I Think it's Going to Rain Today."

I call it up on YouTube and find so many remakes of it. Bette Midler, who first exposed me to it in the movie "Beaches." Norah Jones. Peter Gabriel. I find a copy of Mr. Newman singing it in an orchestra hall with full orchestra backup and full applause.

I think of the space needed, the electricity, the talent -- all of the wealth needed to pay everyone to put on just this one song at this one time in this one place, let alone the millions of dollars made on it over time?

To what end? How does being "entertained" with it transform what's really going on out here? What the song is TALKING ABOUT? Doesn't it perpetuate the problem the song addresses?
Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles
Frozen smiles to chase love away.
... and who also clap on cue and fold their professionally designed and printed programs, complete with ads for upcoming performances, carefully in their laps? Does Mr. Newman think about any of this as he performs it?

I think of the irony. I get an ice pack for my head, and I weep.

When brilliance and insight into an experience goes...wrong.

I'm going back to bed now. Maybe I will sleep this time. I doubt I will be able to reconcile it. Or my own place in the web of it. Or find any new sort of comfort or hope about it.

Here are the lyrics. For your amusement. Or for your study.
Broken windows and empty hallways
A pale dead moon in the sky streaked with gray
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today

Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles
With frozen smiles to chase love away
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today

Lonely, lonely
Tin can at my feet
Think I'll kick it down the street
That's the way to treat a friend

Bright before me the signs implore me
To help the needy and show them the way
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today

 It's raining. I need relief.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Empowerment Poem

he never expected
that she would
the knife he stabbed her with.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Making the Best of What We Have: A Ration Book, a Home, a Name and a Life

Here is a photo of my grandmother's war ration book.

My grandparents lived at 3939 Washburn Ave N, Minneapolis, a 1-1/2 story, one-bedroom, one-bath home with an unfinished basement and short ceiling attic which housed their family of 2 parents and 3 children.

Please notice the form of the address. Looks like "12" was an acceptable form of zip code "55412" at that time.

Please also notice the signature.

I've only met one other woman who *today* identifies with "Mrs. HusbandsFirstname HusbandsLastname." I understand that a great deal of pride can go with the tradition. It is a ritual-of-association, but also one that many women today feel contributes to a loss of the personal identity and person-hood necessary for a mentally and emotionally healthy partnership.

I understand that the women on this side of my family struggled to freely choose the men they wanted to marry. (Nothing to do with love or spirit. Everything to do with power and control.) My great grandfather threatened to "disown" -- which is to say shun and disconnect my Grandmother Marie (aka Mrs. Donald Piepho) from any and all family connections and resources -- if she dated or married out of his approval (which she did, twice), and one great uncle on the same side threatened to have my 2nd cousin committed to an insane asylum for the same. This was an extremely dangerous proposition for these women because independent sources of income available to them during that time in history were very limited.

I don't believe that Marie was in any way forced or coerced to sign her ration book this way. Per the delighted tone in her voice when she spoke of her name, I believe it was a tradition she was familiar with that she was carrying out dutifully and with pride. Of course, elders sometimes make light of things for the sake of creating a more positive experience for their progeny, hiding the raw nerves of abuse and violence. Marie did not reveal her first annulled marriage until she began cleaning out her home at 3938 Washburn Ave to enter assisted living. That annulment was forced.

The creepy part of this oppressive history is: had that marriage not been annulled, I would not be here.

The song "Some Nights" by Fun runs through my mind....

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What does it mean to be a lover?

Here is something I read that I want to remember and share. I think it can apply to friendship and family and associates and all kinds of relationships, not just those that involve sex or the idea of sex. And not just between human beings, either, but between humans and animals and between humans and natural resources and humans and all of our creations -- and Creation itself.

Love, commitment, sensory fulfillment and delight can happen between any two entities, which is to say, any couple, any pair, any two. When we say "couple" or "partner," we think of the mated human pair. However, we act in partnership and in tandem with "others" every day.

I'm going to insert some of my broader ideas in [brackets] and replace the commonly used terms like partner and couple with [other] so you understand what I'm talking about:

What does it mean to be a lover?

[You as a Conscientious Being]

It is more than just being married to or making love to someone.
[It is more than liking them. More than spending time with them. More than serving them.]
Millions of people are married, millions of people have sex, [millions of people have friends and acquaintances, children and associates]  - but few [who among these] are real lovers?

To be a real lover, you must commit to and participate in a perpetual dance of intimacy with [the other.] [They are akin to a dance partner, sensitive to the subtle nuances in your movements and signals, accepting the carefully guided pressure of their independence and their leadership.]

You are a lover when you appreciate the gift that [the other] is, and celebrate that gift every day.
You are a lover when you remember that [the other] does not belong to you - [they are] on loan from the universe.
You are a lover when you realize that nothing that happens between you [both] will be insignificant, that everything you say in relationship has the potential to cause your beloved joy or sorrow, and everything you do will either strengthen your connection or weaken it.
You are a lover when you understand all this, and thus wake up each morning filled with gratitude that you have another day in which to love and enjoy [the other].

[Being to Being]

Reiki Wall Decor Angel
Healing Energy Art Blue by primalpainter
When you have a lover in your life, you are richly blessed. You have given the gift of another who
has chosen to walk beside you. Your lover will share [your time and] your burdens. Your lover will see secret parts of you that no one else sees. Your lover [may] touch places on your body that no one else touches. Your lover will seek you out where you have been hiding, and create a haven for you within safe, loving arms.

Your lover offers you an abundance of miracles every day. [They have] the power to delight you with [a] smile, [their] voice, [their] scent... the way [they] move. [They have] the power to banish your loneliness. [They have] the power to turn the ordinary into the sublime. [They are] your doorway to heaven here on earth.

- Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D. / [Rebecca St. Martin]

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Monday, February 03, 2014

Skooling the School

When I was in eleventh grade, I was excited to have been selected to be in the high school musical -- not just a chorus part, but a one-line solo. A friend of mine from out of town was coming in to see me perform. She had arranged a sign language interpreter to come along, and all we needed was to find a place in the light where she could see. I went to my choir director for support and what came next I was not at all prepared for. He told me no: "No interpreter." When I asked why, he said, "It will be too distracting for everyone else."

I tried negotiating. "What if the interpreter is near the wall? To the side?" And "how about near the back with a flashlight?" (I cringe today, thinking of how reminiscent this is of Rosa Parks.)

"No," he said. "We can't have one person ruin it for the rest."

Ruin it?

He leaned back in his chair, tossed the script over the desk toward me. "Here," he said. "Have her read this."

I was stunned.

What else is there to do but obey? I took the script, did a 180 and made a bee-line out of his office. 

I told my mom. She told my friend's mom. There was something abuzz. Something humming in the background. I felt deeply uncomfortable. I didn't know why.

My friend and her mom still drove 1-1/2 hours to come to the play. She did not bring the interpreter. I felt deflated and angry and embarrassed as I handed her the script. I felt like I failed her. Her mom assured me that everything would be fine.

After attorney and coalition phone calls, the school received a disability awareness education.

But I got an education, too. I will never forget how the school principal and the musical director called me into their office (alone) and denied to my face that the director prevented my friend full access to the performance. Their apology sounded something like, "I'm sorry, you misunderstood...." I won't either forget that I was not included in the 12th grade musical -- not in any aspect of it. Of course, I probably "didn't honestly make the cut."

Kindergarten stuff going on in high school. Any time I have *more* than someone else in an area, it is my privilege to be of service. Is that hard?

Is it worth mentioning that my music teacher was a White, Straight, Christian man? Strictly positive, happy-all-the-time with a huge toothy smile, and very, very well-liked by everyone, including me?

Who the hell am I?

A shit-pot stirrer.

There is a new policy. I have been made aware that all musical seasons at my alma matter now have one scheduled interpreted performance.

I lick the spoon. I pretend it's chocolate.

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