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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

Share that light!

I’m an introvert.

I once used stick figure drawings to demonstrate this.

bubble 4

There’s a bubble of space around me I don’t like people invading. I’ve often gotten downright cranky when people have tried.

bubble 3

Even more recently, I’ve come to see a different kind of bubble.

Long before I realized it, I was in a bubble of light. It was mostly warm, and cozy, and illuminated by lots of other friend-filled bubbles around me.

Then Ferguson caught my attention, and I caught glimpses of darkness out beyond these bubbles of light.

I explored. I spoke. And, finally, I moved on, exhausted.

I soaked up the light and forgot my fear of the darkness I’d seen out where light couldn’t–or didn’t–reach.

As the Democratic primaries neared conclusion, I saw darkness again.

I reoriented my bubble so I could no longer see the darkness.

That only worked for a little while. The darkness began peeking through no matter which way I turned.

So rather than fearing its seeping in, I held my breath, clenched my fists, and stepped out into the darkness.

I soon learned that very, very few people are permitted cozy bubbles of light. Their–our–bubbles were purchased by others’ pain.

I learned that my country’s leaders have, for decades, spread the darkness for impoverished people they haven’t (yet) killed worldwide. They have done this for corporate gain.

I discovered my comfortable bubble was paid for by genocide.

“I can’t fucking believe we’re committing fucking genocide!” I roared in agony to friends.

“Mind your language!” they retorted.

Now I see how many lives depend on light breaking through all that darkness.

I’m ashamed I spent so much time in my own bubble. I’m ashamed I tried to hold that light in and keep it just for me and those the very, very nearest to me. More than that, I’m committed to standing outside my friends’ bubbles and encouraging them to burst those bubbles and share their light. To penetrate the darkness and illuminate the world for everyone.

Burst that bubble!

Share that light!

The light outside will be much dimmer than what you’re used to, at first …

… but to many who’ve never had any hope of ever affording their own protective neoliberal bubble, the light may well be blinding.

Please read my sister’s impassioned post
from earlier today.

It may hurt. It may be scary.

It may also well be part of your path to letting
your
light
shine.

If you’re willing to take the journey outside your bubble,
we’ll be overjoyed to walk that road with you,
growing all our strength in solidarity.

rache me mid-80s

Let it shine

Yesterday morning, my seven-year-old son heard my husband, Anthony, and I talking about election results.

“What happened?” asked Li’l D.

“Trump won the presidency,” we explained to him.

He looked stricken.

“Oh, sweetie,” I said. “I know you’ve heard a lot of terrible things at school. But, you know what? Lots of people you love voted for Trump.”

Anthony and I listed these people, and emphasized how much they love him and are committed to protecting him and keeping him safe.

image

See? Punisher! Wait, no ...

Many people are afraid right now.

Some of that fear is very reasonable, particularly for minorities. Some Trump supporters hold bigoted beliefs, and some portion of those feel enabled by Trump’s victory.

But some of that fear was carefully cultivated by the DNC, which very intentionally elevated Trump’s candidacy–and fear about his supporters–starting early 2015 to improve Clinton’s chances of victory.

On both sides, fear has been used to divide and conquer us.

I wrote this morning about why I would have voted for Trump were there only two choices. I hope you’ll read the post and consider the possibility that some of what you’ve learned has been wrong.

(I’ve spent the last six months doing this, and it’s been painful to understand how my ignorance has helped hurt people. You’ve seen some of that in anger that’s sometimes bled through here, less at anyone else and more at myself that it took me so very, very long to see.)

Please don’t categorize people as “self” and “other” right now. Resist the urge, as I must personally be vigilant about doing right now.

Please, please listen to each other, hear each other, stand up for each other–even if your voice or knees shake–and fight against the fear machine.

You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.

Take that love and let it shine, because that love translated to action is quite literally what it’ll take to save this world for our children.

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