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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

On facing a soul-stealer

A soul-stealer has come to town,” a neighbor tells me.

“Soul-stealer? What’s that?”

“It’s a demon that eats souls. There’s no coming back from this.”

I am standing on a stairwell. A man-shaped demon emanating flames stands a few steps beneath me. 

“Run!” I shout to my seven-year-old, who’s racing up the stairs behind me. “Get as far away as you can!”

The soul-stealer before me has killed both my husband and my two-year-old, and for a split-second I am crushed by the loss. But wordless understanding fills me, all at once; given words, they would be:

Who came back from the netherworld to say this loss is eternal? Either someone came back, or this is propaganda. Right now, I must do everything I can to save my son. And then, then I will worry about how to fix what’s already been lost. Dead or alive, I will find a way. This is not the end.

“You will not get him!” I roar at the demon.

I am suddenly lying in darkness. I wonder where I am and how I got there.

It hits me: That was a dream, and this is reality.

“Thank God,” I whisper, touching my husband before rising.

As I drive to work, I chuckle. I’m glad to have grown up with horror in a family of horror lovers. I learned young that you don’t beat the monster by sitting still.

My political journey is now shaping my dreams. My dreams, in turn, are shaping my political journey, reminding me to fight for what hasn’t yet been lost instead of drowning in sorrow over what already has. After what’s left is secured, I can then look toward reclamation of what appears to have been lost.

I don’t know what’s ahead. What I do know is that I like who I’m becoming. I like that I’ve got this fight in and outside of me. 

Now, to take it from dreams and translate it to reality: doing everything I can to protect what I can of a planet being made uninhabitable long term in pursuit of profits short term.

Grandma Christine’s warmth

My seven-year-old asked me to see pictures of “Grandma Christine,” my mom. “I can’t remember what she looks like.”

It’s not surprising he doesn’t remember. He was only five months old when she died.

I told him I didn’t have many pictures of her. I explained that this was because she destroyed all our pictures while suffering from a kind of mental illness. I added that the loss of all those photos makes every picture I have of her all the more precious.

I promised to show him those pictures I still have, but a day passed. Another day passed. Yet anther day was apt to pass when he exclaimed an hour or so ago, “Your mom! I still want to see pictures!”

I sat down on the stool in front of my computer. Li’l D joined me there, snuggling up next to me as I loaded my tiny folder of photos labeled “Mom.”

The warmth of Mom flowed from those photos until I got to one longtime readers will recognize: the moment my mom met her first grandchild, and smiled a genuine smile for the first time I’d seen in years.

Li’l D scampered off to play with his new toys as I stared at the photo.

Mom and Li'l D

In my blog’s most popular post, “Dear Mom,” I expressed some of the abundant joys and sorrows of being my mom’s daughter. In the two years since I wrote that post, I understand the joys so much more clearly.

I also understand what a privilege it was to be raised by her. I know this might sound strange to someone who’s read about pieces of the poverty, abuse, predation, mental illness, and cancer that entailed, but those were mere fractions of an overall experience bound together by her love, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.

Had I experienced all that hardship without her insistence–and demonstration–there could be better, I would not be where I am today.

I like where I am today. I like how I am facing enormously complicated, harrowing truths while finding ways to effect change and retaining my optimism.

How do I know to do these things?

I learned them from my mom.

So today, as I remember the warmth of my son pressed against my side, asking questions about Grandma Christine, I also remember the warmth of being nestled against my mother.

The warmth itself fades, but the memory of that warmth is unquenchable.

Note: If you’d like to read more on the joys and hardships of being my mom’s daughter, please read the series I compiled–largely for my husband–last year:

Talks with old friends

I talked with an old friend yesterday morning.

She had made coffee at 6:15 a.m. so she’d be ready to chat at 6:30 a.m.

As I drove to work, Jane and I talked on the phone about many things. One particular exchange stood out after we hung up after I reached my office.

“I’m trying to give myself breaks. I can’t really effect positive change from a place of constant distress, y’know?” I said.

“I’m writing that down,” she replied. She felt exactly what I meant.

deb jane

Me and Jane, more’n a decade ago

I wanted to write down a lot of what we said, but I couldn’t.

Instead of marking the words, I marked the feeling: the feeling of safety that comes with having loved and quarreled with and come back to loving someone without reservation.

For the first time in what seemed like ages, my distress melted away. I was just Deb, chatting with a dear old friend and savoring every second of it.

I tried to return to the feeling of Jane-talking throughout the day. I’d find it in moments here and there, but it kept fleeing when I thought about all the change I wasn’t making happen right now!

Today was a little different.

I’d told Jane yesterday, “Rain is nice. When it’s sunny out, which is most the time here, I feel like I have to get things done. When it pours, the load is lightened. I feel so much more mellow, like, ‘You know what? Today would be a good day to do half as many things.'”

It poured today, as if to remind me.

After spending extra time in traffic this morning thanks to the glorious downpour, I stopped at a gas station and messaged my sister and a new, supportive Twitter friend, Michael, while filling my tank: “Wish I knew how to relax right now.”

Step away, Rache and Michael both told me. Take a social media break!

I smiled. I was grateful to have them looking out for me.

Soon after, I read with a little boy who asked, “Will you be coming back tomorrow?!” (“No,” I told him, “but I’ll see you again next month!”)

At work, we had our holiday party. I fought valiantly and won the only prize worth keeping: poop slippers, which I seized at the very last second.

And there was something else, too: I’d solved a riddle. Thanks to Jane’s candor, I was able to piece together some part of a truth it’s pissed me off to have perpetually just beyond my reach.

The joy from solving a riddle is directly proportional to the time and energy it takes to solve it …

… and whether a friend helps you solve it.

1012356 slurp

Same as always on Friday, I inched home slowly in Friday afternoon traffic.

Unlike always, I smiled all the way. Why? Well, wouldn’t you know:

I talked with an old friend yesterday morning.

largeleaves

The sweet convergence of past and present

Thank you for staying.

I owe my seven-year-old some snuggles, and I promised my husband I was about to step away from the computer.

I couldn’t step away yet, though. There was something else I had to say, so I sat here for a moment longer, trying to figure out what that feeling was. I finally found a name for it: gratitude.

I’ve learned a lot of hard things the last few months. They made me both sad and angry, and I showed lots of both those emotions. I’ve already said sorry for being a jerk, so I won’t dwell there again.

What’s left to say, I think, is thank you. Thank you for sticking around while I figured out what I believe, and how to start expressing it, and got back around to understanding we needn’t agree on much of anything to support each other in friendship.

I’m glad you stuck around. I’m glad you didn’t throw up your hands and go, “That’s it! The Deb I knew is gone! Done here!”

You could have. You didn’t.

Thank you for staying.

Thank you.

Categories: Blogging, Reflections Tags: , ,

Pennies together

A month ago, a dino I know talked me into joining Nano Poblano, her November daily blog post challege.

“No problemo!” I told her around roughly a half-dozen birthday beers. “I could write eight posts a day with everything I’m learning now!”

It seemed like a great idea, because beer.

image

Soon after starting the challenge, I discovered that writing about politics every day is exhausting.

It’s especially exhausting when you’re reading about all the very terrible things you never realized were being done with your tax dollars and votes.

I was wiped out by mid-month, so I started writing shorter posts. It was an improvement, but I was still tired.

By the end of the month, I was so very ready to be done … but I was grateful for the challenge all the same.

By forcing myself to write every day, I had to face a lot of questions and issues I might not have faced otherwise.

I had to face burnout, and to face the implications of burnout.

Something really, really good came from that: I stopped trying to obtain perfection. I sought “good enough” instead.

Seeking good-enough in my posts helped me understand the same approach is invaluable as a citizen approaching political change: There will never be the perfect moment or perfect information, so I must begin by doing what I can now!

I understand much of what’s led us to here and now. I understand you and I must band together now if we are to stop potentially cataclysmic climate change accelerating right now.

I don’t have time to keep reading depressing tomes on everything done wrong to date.

image

Depressing tomes read as of mid-November

I must begin pursuing solutions that might improve the future, since every second I waste stewing over what’s done is a second I’ve lost to change what’s ahead.

I can’t wait for perfect solutions. None of us can.

We must do the best we can with what we have, and trust we’ll gain more understanding and tools as we go.

I’m casting my pennies–my ideas, my hopes, my passion–into a save-the-world fund.

My pennies won’t go very far alone, but you know what? If we each cast in a few pennies, there’s no telling what we might buy together.

So, please: start casting in your pennies, even the ones that don’t look very shiny at first glance. Maybe shiny isn’t what we need, after all.

As our pennies amass, take stock of the totality of what we’re gathering and know: alone we can do a little, but together, we can and will change the world.

Thanks to Nano Poblano, coming posts on Learning to Speak Politics will be focused on seeking and building solutions.

Enough ruminating. There’s work to do!

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The Human Party

I averaged about three epiphanies a day in college, or so you’d think if you read my journals from that era.

Since then, I’d say I’ve averaged about, oh, zero epiphanies annually. I’ve had one the last few days, and I need to write about it pronto.*

The temperature in the North Pole is 36 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. Some portion of that might be random, but a great deal of it is not: we humans are rapidly making our world less habitable.

We are destroying the planet that is essential to our children having any kind of hope for the future. We’ve expected Other People and Politicians on Boards Somewhere to solve this, letting a huge problem take up a smaller and smaller fraction of our individual attention spans.

Right now, U.S. citizens are up in arms with each other over the results of a presidential election. We’re drawing all kinds of unreasonable conclusions based on corporate-sponsored news and mistaking those conclusions for truth, all while dehumanizing the very real, very hurting people all around us.

Here’s the thing. To the earth, there’s a single party: the Human Party. Each and every member of this party is bound together unequivocally, and all of us are equally bound to this planet and her destiny.

We have precious little time to save this world, all of us together. We must take each step we can, not as members of any political party, but as members of the Human Party. We must do this for our kids.

When we band together to do this, relinquishing the extinction-level myth that someone somewhere else is taking care of things, many other ills will be resolved.

See, we’re all victims of corporate globalism and neoliberalism, a devastating economic system that destroys earth and people alike for the profit of a few.

The sooner we see that, learning to embrace and fight for each other, the better our children’s prospects.

In no particular order, here are some steps you and I can start taking right now:

  • Buy local. Get offline, skipping all the waste that goes into powering enormous fulfillment centers and having all those individual packages shipped to you with lots of needless padding, at great ecological expense.
  • Go to farmers markets. Buy foods that didn’t guzzle loads of gas to reach you, grown by local farmers who value your support. Look for gifts and household items at the market, where you might find soap, candles, clothing, lotions, scents, and bunches of other items brought directly to you without any money lost to lots of middlemen.
  • Buy less. Instead of buying gifts for every holiday and occasion, offer a few hours of your undivided attention. Seek out local adventures to share. Ask your loved ones where you could donate some time, money, or love in their honor. Arrange with friends to donate to their favorite charities instead of buying objects.
  • Buy used. Go to swap meets. Add a little quirk to your home decor.
  • Drive less. Take shorter trips, group your trips, and travel with friends when you can. Telecommute if you can, and talk to your employer about the benefits–to local infrastructure, to the environment, to you and your family–of telecommuting if it’s not yet permitted. (I’ll be writing some letters shortly; please let me know if you’d like to work with me on these.)
  • Make your own bath, beauty, and cleaning products.
  • Call, email, mail, and tell your legislators in person that they must–for your children!–take major steps to protect the environment, and that you’ll work hard to see them not re-elected if they don’t.
  • Reuse as often as you can. If you don’t know how you can reuse something, store items in an “opportunity box” for when you can poke around online for ideas.
  • Grow some spices and veggies, in your yard or in planters.
  • Donate what you can’t use. Share what you can to limit waste.
  • Compost. Recycle.
  • Unplug your appliances when you’re not using them.
  • Take shorter showers and shower less frequently.
  • Buy fewer packaged foods. Be kind to planet and self; forego fast food as often as possible, packing snacks if you must.
  • Drink less coffee. When you do drink coffee, drink fair trade coffee.
  • Talk to your friends about what you’re doing and why. Challenge each other to find new ways to conserve the planet that sustains us.
  • Find pleasure not in objects but here and now, in each other.
  • Favor care and community over convenience. Come together, right now. It’s our kids’ only hope.

I’m no expert. I’m simply a parent who understands an increasingly urgent need to fight for our kids. I welcome your links, your ideas, your encouragement, and your outpourings of love for your fellow Human Party members. Please share.

We can’t expect anyone else to save us anymore.

We must work together now to save each other.

these boys

I’m in it for my kids, and yours

* Why pronto over perfect? Recently I’ve been reading about “agile” projects,
or projects begun early that take clearer form as you go,
which means improved ability to respond to new data,
and–often–better resolutions than when you
come up with a perfect in principle
(but, oops, actually unworkable)
plan.

 

God is in this place

I once
read a book
called God Was in
This Place & I; i
Did Not Know

I’ve forgotten
the book itself,
but the title is near
my heart
always
now

Because I know
where God is
right now

Long before
I began to notice,
corporations have
destroyed the earth
with the blessing and
support of my country’s
government

To discover the
depths of this, and
how truly it has been a
bipartisan endeavor,
has crushed me

35 years ago,
Exxon was aware
of climate change, but
worked to suppress
awareness, because
that awareness
spread wide
would harm
its profits

Today, as elected
Democrats give lip
service to the harms
of climate change, the
Democratic U.S.
president continues
to approve new oil pipelines
while issuing thousands
of fracking permits

If he and his
believe in climate change,
it is irrelevant; for their acts,
simply
do not
show
it

Words
are cheap;
actions,
revealing,
damning
(all
of
us)

In
this
place,
where
Earth
may
soon
fail
us
(for
we
have
failed
Her),
we
have
little
time

Where,
then, is
hope?

Where,
then, is
God?

At Standing Rock,
in North Dakota,
Sioux people
have risen
against an
oil pipeline,
the Dakota
Access
Pipeline

They have arisen
because they
deserve to
survive”
(free from
colonialism)
and this
pipeline,
routed
away from
concerned
Bismarck
citizens
who feared
for their water
and through
Native lands
granted by
treaty,
is
lethal

As the
Standing Rock
Sioux act to
protect
themselves,
they protect
Earth, water,
you, me, our
children,
both
blocking
construction
and
saying, to
corporation,
to country,
and the world,
“Our lives,
our planet,
should not
be valued
less than
the profits
of oil
men”

When my
heart turns
to Standing Rock,
it is full; goosebumps
ripple up and down me,
as I feel the pull of a
tide I can explain
no other way than
to call it God

As I think how long I
have barely believed
in God, I understand
I misunderstood
how we are all
connected, be we
in Long Beach or
North Dakota or
Yemen or
Somalia or
Peru

She who stands
for one, stands for
all; she who stands
against Earth’s
destruction for profit
stands for us all

In this time
where it so hard
for me to find hope,
I need only think of
Standing Rock and
know, truly, deeply,
through my soul,
there is yet
hope

The sooner
people everywhere
see and stand with
the Standing Rock Sioux,
the sooner people
everywhere will
stand a chance

Because God
is at Standing Rock,
beckoning us to
hear-see-feel this

God is in this place

God is Standing Rock

10 Ways You Can Help the Standing Rock Sioux Fight the Dakota Access Pipeline

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