Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Where there is love

So, America, Where do we begin? The rubble or our sins? Here we are, grappling with an election result we probably should have seen coming. Are we looking at the rubble or still naming our sins? 

So many sins. So many. 
My heart and mind are flooded with the wailing and the tears of the countless citizens of this great country who every day face prejudice and discrimination in unfathomable ways. Fear of our differences has turned us into a nation of paranoia and killing.  We live in an age where propaganda is more prevalent than fact and almost no one knows the difference. I sure can't pretend to know the difference myself. 

Facts. The fact is that this American nation, this democracy, this social (dis)order has much much healing to do. So much need to heal everywhere I look. There is not one human I know who if pressed to do so couldn't identify one or more ways they've been hurt, belittled, degraded or mocked by another subset of the population- whether it's on the grandest fear mongering scales of political attacks or in the day to day power struggles of women in the workforce. 
Even the most privileged white males among you have been dragging your feet into this viscous mud and pointing fingers at those who came before us as the reasons your entitled lives are not all you believe they should be. 

But lest I let myself sink into the mud and forget how to walk - I'm going to look up. 
I'm looking up at you, my dearest neighbor- who always has a kind word and a smile. I'm looking at you my friend the immigrant, who is raising her children here with such joy and love for all who cross their path. I'm looking at you transgender love of my friend, you who confidently put your true self first and love with your whole heart. I'm looking at you nine year old brown boy who is taught to stay quiet though one of the brightest of his age, that educated mind will serve you and your future well. 
I'm looking at me in that mirror, my weary heart hearing all of the fear in the world. Every bit of co2 we push out, exhaling our worries to sit on the wind together and build tensions. I'm looking at that weary heart and I'm smiling. I'm whistling a tune about the darkest days coming before the dawn. And I'm looking out, looking out toward that horizon where the sun is starting to rise on a new world order.  It's up to us to breathe slower, consciously look at what we are exhaling into the world before we leave it out there. 

For a while as the numbers were coming in tonight, I thought about Eric Garner. I thought about not being able to breathe under the weight of our collective Fears and misconceptions. So many sins. Where is the air? Where is the lifeline? 

Here's a quote to allow some air into the room....."Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble, and there is always time." ('Abdu'l-Baha). 

Our time together on this planet may be fleeting and crisis and anxiety may abound - but where there is love? There is always time.  There is patience. There is understanding. There is life. 

Friends, when you're staring at what looks like nothing but rubble and sins .... close your eyes. Close them to our differences, close then to fear. Look inside to your own sources of light (your neighbor? Your teacher? Your humble stranger who holds the door with patience?) - and when your heart has been flooded with light - move forward day by day into all the spaces 'Where there is love .. ' 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

T2, where I remember

 15 years ago this night, I was sitting on the floor of an apartment on the northside of Chicago staring at the television, feeling pretty numb inside. Take away the scenery, and most anyone my age or older could tell you nearly the same story. But, I was half way across the country from my home state. And my home state just went through the worst day of it's life. Proud of my downstate NY roots, proud of everything New York stands for -- the melting pot, the hard work, the loyalty to the ideals of this great nation, my heart was shattered watching what was once the twin towers, now, a massive graveyard and immense amount of smoke. It was utterly baffling. Like the worst movie I never even wanted to pay to see.
Starting at around 8:30 am, I entered into that movie - and started to watch a world I didn't even know could handle such horror and evil. 
Anyway, at that time I was 21 years young and worked in the Conservation Department for the Baha'i House of Worship for North America - a literal symbol of unity and peace, that incidentally stood 19 stories tall, and was on the shore of lake Michigan, just a short ride up from downtown Chicago, where other way taller buildings like the Sears tower lived. My job that morning was to power wash the windows on T2. T2 refers to the second level. So I was on the first roof up of the building, harnessed in of course, and of course, the power washer was malfunctioning. Myself and my teammate for the morning called to our supervisors to advise of the issue and were told to hang there and wait. So I moved to the edge (who even was I at that age!), and sat down to wait. There was a great deal of construction going on at that time, as a major renovation was taking place to the grounds of the House of Worship. Picture me chilling on the roof, facing toward the start of the construction on the east side of the building. The construction foreman - who I consider a fabulous human, but who hails from the left coast and well, you know New Yorkers and our strong opinions... (eye roll here) - was walking below and starting waving his hands at me and then he yelled out " WE'RE IN BIG TROUBLE, PLANES FLEW INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BUILDINGS AND NEW YORK IS TOTAL CHAOS".  I yelled back "STOP PLAYIN AROUND, THAT ISN'T ANY KIND OF FUNNY MAN". He stood and shook is head solemnly and said "IT'S REAL".  So then I'm pacing around the roof waiting for our supervisor to come and either make the power washer work or at least TELL ME THE DUDE WAS JOKING.  A few minutes later my supervisor arrived and informed the two of us power washing was not happening. He and I were needed to search the building (HOLD UP...WHAT??) and new plans would be made after.
Then he asked me to pick a direction and told me we had to search the edifice top to bottom to make sure nothing was out of place or odd. A precaution being taken at every major attraction in the country I understood. So I did, I looked at ladders and boxes and thought - that's where I tracked them over the summer, right? I climbed through the dome and out the pinnacle of the structure and looked and thought - that's just dust, right? I thought how crazy it must be to be some place that is even larger and have to evacuate - and I thought over and over and over how it was frustrating to not know what was going on - what I was searching for, what I was to be afraid, or not afraid of, what was happening to the world. 
When we finished once-overing the whole place, I went back to the office building and into the security room - there on a 13 inch tv with poor reception I finally saw the buildings on fire, the chaos in the streets of lower Manhattan, the falling man, the loss of life, the horror.
I don't remember how long I sat in that office - I kind of remember being shooed out and back to work, but my memory glazes over and then sets me on that hardwood floor eight hours later, watching tv and thinking of any possibility anyone I knew was in the city that morning. In my case, the odds were slim. I believe it was two nights later, I called my college friends to check in from that same hardwood living room floor. During the day I spoke to my parents, I spoke to my family and I thought, we are so lucky - all of us, to just be bearing witness to this tragedy.
Now, 15 years later, we change facebook profile pics, I personally, watch endless hours of 9/11 documentaries and movies on the History channel, and I talk to my daughter who wasn't born yet about the fact that while terrorism is real, and we cannot forget that - we must remember the heroes who didn't hesitate and we must continue every day to believe in Unity, Love and our common decency and connectedness.

Yes, that's a tiny little aberator taking the ferry with her parents toward Manhattan. Yes, that's the skyline of New York the way I will always remember it. Always.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

It's not about my skin

Check another item off the adulting list - this past week I served on a jury. Not any old jury either - Federal Court. Before you get too excited or anxious like I was - turns out my version was pretty anticlimactic. For starters I was on a civil case (as opposed to criminal) and then, after 2.5 days, the two parties settled... We didn't even get to deliberate! Whomp Whomp. 
But the importance of the case I got the witness and the message I took away cannot be understated. A young lady was suing a former employer regarding her eventual dismissal on the grounds of racial discrimination. The equal opportunity laws in the country are protected federal rights, and to see it in action - as opposed to seeing people with no actual experience with it, complain about it - was incredibly interesting and disheartening. 
As it turned out in this case, the employer did such a poor job with their records, supervising and overall track record that we the jury badly wanted to convict them for being shitty alone. But as it also turned out - it was very much believable that race played a role in all of it. No - no one was caught on tape using the N-word or anything overt like that - but it was there... It - Racism - was alive and well in that environment. 
Day 2 saw the plaintiff on the witness stand all day long - and after being bombarded by the defense with questions about when or where she was overtly treated in a racist manner - she said this key thing.., "Racism isn't about my skin, it's not about that - it's about the power you choose to wield over me when you decide to devalue me to make me less worthy of what I've worked so hard for". 
That. That's it right there folks. Racism is about the fact that someone of my equal footing in every other way - education, financial bracket, wants, needs, desires etc- is way less likely to achieve a promotion or raise or any achievement... Because why? WHY? 
This young lady's only wrong doing was choosing to stay at work when she was behind rather than attend an offsite function - and that was it. 
I'm very much never going to forget her and while my heart knows money doesn't change a thing - I am overjoyed they settled and she got compensated for her losses at hands of their ignorance in action. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Like a loose garment

This summer saw me completely lose sight of my health goals. Nope, scratch that, health needs. It's a need... Health is a necessity. Anyway - I'm essentially back where I keep finding myself - with only pieces of the puzzle and no glue. 
I can do strength training three times a week but if I have three venti chai lattes I'm not going to feel any better ever. 
I can earnestly know and understand that  I'm a full fledged sugar addict, but knowledge alone doesn't remove the ibuprofen needs, oversleeping and endless gut and allergy issues away. 
Over the last ten days or so, I did some real woman in the mirror talking with the Aberator and walked away knowing I earnestly needed to remove sugar(s) from my diet - and that I seriously needed some kind of accountability partner. I know I had decided that was my need because I kept hearing in over and over in my head - get accountable, find daily help. 
In the midst of that mental mojo - a friend, whose radiant nature has always struck me like a drop of water in the desert, posted to Facebook that she and her sister in law would be starting a Whole30 challenge on 9/7 - who wants to join? Well her post already had over ten comments and it hit me like a lightbulb over a dark staircase. Clean eating? I already know I need to make these changes, and doing a challenge - a whole group of people checking in together and supporting one another - Yes! That's the ticket! 
We haven't even started the actual diet timing yet and I've already taken away a gem! In response to a question I posed the group, one woman said "Live life like a loose garment, and just go with it".
Stepping back I can see that the wind blew my loose garment into this moment where I can go with it. 
I can go with these health rules. I can go confidently in the direction of better health choices. I can lay my puzzle pieces down and make me whole again... 
Wish me luck - but I don't think I truly need it!  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Look at the wonderful mess that we've made

Over the past year or so, I've found in myself the ability to shed all forms of pretense. I was never a fan of anything resembling a veil, a resentment or a quiet stewing. 
Dig them out
Turns out all this time I was trying to be better at so many things, I already was perfect. Perfectly flawed and perfectly sculpted into what I need to be at any given moment in my timeline. 
Wear those flaws, girl. 
Guilty? Say so. Angry? let it ride. Disappointed? You're totally allowed, but don't dwell. 
Tired and run down after so many chai lattes? Call out your behavior, laugh, think of how tasty they were and move the hell on. You're not going to get whole30 without owning where the holes are. 
When all of them are counted - I still know without them I'd be doomed. 
But back to that sweet ferocious Bastille song embedded here --- there's a home in my soul, can you fill it, can you fill it? 
I've come to truly believe we can't be hole fillers for one another unless we acknowledge our own holes (flaws). 
Others feel condescension in your words and actions? ... Dig that out, lean into the people and scenarios and leave nothing undone. 
Feeling trapped by a relationship dynamic ? Dig it out - don't bury it. 
Critical words fly out of your mouth on the regular? Let them out. Let them live. Give your brain the release. Just show your heart too. Show your heart so much it lights up the wonderful mess. 
Haven't called the loved one on your mind all the time? They already know how much you love them. If they truly don't know, then you've got some digging to do - but where would you be if you never know where the holes are? 
 I can't fill it, I can't fill it....  
Some days I count the losses and some days i look at the beautiful pattern my flaws make and enjoy being my authentic self. 
Can you fill it, can you fill it? 
In my ideal world I would be surrounded by hole fillers - we would fill each other up daily. But I'm faced with the sometimes overwhelming reality that not everyone is ready to dig, nor are they ready to hold their flaws out in the open and enjoy the wonderful messes we make. 

Sometimes I sing along to this song and it quite literally drifts into my flawed holes and back out creating a breeze and reason to exhale my expectations. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

This is 36

This is 36. 
It is all the filters I need or want
Because I removed the filters that don't fit.
It is a take it or leave it, but don't ever flee it moment in time. 
It is all mine.
This day, this work, this line 
All the time
It's all mine. 

I'm beat up and busted, but not truly combusted. 

Less a part of the crowd and much more proud. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Work is worship

Confession: I have major tendency to wax philosophical and get downright reflective around my birthday. More so the older I get.  So here we are a few days from another number closer to literal middle age-dom.... and I'm drowning myself in wishes for better and pride over what life has given me.

One such grown up reflection is this factoid- I have a job I love. Now, that I put that here - I'ma need you to SHUT YO MOUTH AND NEVER REPEAT THAT. But, really, it's completely true.  I can clearly remember not so many years ago wondering if I would ever have that thing that people refer to as a "career", but six years at the same place, a few job titles later and I would call it a career. There is nothing about my job that I truly dislike. I have a good handful of co-workers, peers, that I love and enjoy being around. I routinely feel truly appreciated by my immediate team and our patients.  But beyond all that nice stuff - I am truly blessed to be working with a physician who makes a difference in people's lives on a daily basis. And beyond all that, I get to play a small part  in an engine of service - a community building, info sharing and funds raising all out exemplary thing. (Specifically, - Team Sarcoma - Uniting the Fight against Sarcoma!!)..
The thing is - work is supposed to feel good. I was raised with the teaching that any work performed from the fullness of your heart is a form of praise to God. You delight the hearts and you delight God. You work with the spirit of truly serving others, and you yourself will be rewarded with God's endless bounties. It's a pretty simple idea that most of us can instantly jive with - but when do you get to see it in action or feel it in practice? Well, internets - at age 35, I'm here to reflect that I'm abundantly blessed to be in a job that gives me daily opportunity to give people the smile, assurance or support they need - and I believe I'm absolutely in this position for a reason and love that my "career" means I get to find that spirit in myself day in and day out.