#blacklivesmatter – One voice’s response

from http://geekartgallery.blogspot.com/2013/08/postersbook-quotes.html

 

I’m supposed to be working on a paper that’s due tomorrow morning. It’s 45 minutes since the grand jury non-indictment of Darren Wilson. There’s a part of me that keeps thinking I shouldn’t write about this; what do I know? How could I possibly capture in words when I have been privileged for so much of my life, passing so easily for pure, 100% white?

And yet, that’s exactly why I have to say something. Because that perceived status, that perceived idea of who/what I am comes with responsibility to recognize that power and acknowledge a system that has felt broken for a very very long time. This is just one more instance.

Tonight, I am broken open. For aching hearts, for voices unheard for so long, for deep deep divisions that will, as one of my friends online said, rip this country apart. (If it hasn’t already.) I am broken open for the lives that seem to not matter, for people who believe the stereotypes they see as though somehow that is ALL there is to a certain group of people.

What breaks me open most, though, I think, is how I keep thinking that somehow, America, we’re going to wake the fuck up and treat people with dignity – all people not just people who look like us. And yet, every time that bubble is popped, I am shocked. I am broken open.

May I continue to be broken open until all people matter. Because it’s not fair to value some lives over others. Where all have what they need in this life to move beyond surviving – voices heard, lives valued, able to share the gifts and talents blessed with. Because while privilege remains unnamed, there are consequences that ripple deeply.

I want to believe in better. In this moment, I have no more words… rather, I choose to breathe in peace. I choose to breathe out peace.

I will continue to hope and search myself for ways to honor all lives, all voices, and hold the light of hope in the midst of such ugliness and hatred.

It’s what I have tonight; and I know, on so many levels, that’s not enough. Yet, I’d rather show up, ineloquent and broken open, than stay silent.

#365feministselfie – Near end of year thoughts

This is one of the first times – outside of NaNoWriMo, I think – that I recall being actively engaged and regularly following through on a challenge. And this one has been interesting. I’ve been participating in the #365feministselfie hashtag over on Instagram since the beginning of the year. I’ve blogged (a few times) about it, but realized I have not followed up since the first month was completed. Whew.

This has been such a learning experience for me, to see my face popping up in a social media space, over and over again.

ImageI’ve learned to appreciate my curly hair and its wild ways (who knows how many times I’ve used the hashtag #curlyhairdontcare).
I’ve learned that I am allowed and able to be seen in ways that aren’t always SUPER DUPER happy.
I’ve learned that community looks differently and I have the option to dive in, sit out, OR something in between.
I’ve learned beauty covers so many facets of this life.
I’ve learned to see myself as I am in the moment, and allow that to be enough.
I’ve learned the power of scrolling through and seeing that I am more than I think and that all of me is Enough.
I’ve learned that there is value in seeing myself and breathing into the moments of “I LOOK LIKE THAT?”
I’ve learned a deep breath and pause is invaluable.
I’ve learned the beauty of the women participating.
I’ve learned the value of finding my own language to describe how I feel, and the value of not having to say anything.
I’ve learned about the ways people define their feminism and how much feminism is still needed.
I’ve learned that my “fun” side hasn’t left me, and that there is value in the goofy.
I’ve learned that I am enough, even though I don’t look like those in magazines or on TV. I am enough.
I’ve learned the power in owning my own image and learning to love this face and body of mine, as it is.

Here’s to the final month and a half of #365feministselfie!

What does it feel like to speak the truth underneath?

Do you ever have blog posts that you are like, this should be in my journal, but every time you think about it, it starts coming through in blog post format? This one is like that… it’s personal, but it’s also the type of thing that, kept in the dark? It builds. It grows, like the mold that shame is. Because, I’ve been struggling with self-worth the past few days. There have been a number of incidents – in and of themselves, they aren’t a big deal. But taken together?

It left me in a puddle of “Nobody likes me.”

I felt like Hermione from the first Harry Potter. Ron and Harry are walking through the courtyard after Charms class and Ron says something along the lines of how insufferable Hermione is, and “it’s no wonder she doesn’t have any friends.” She brushes past them, crying. If I could’ve, I would’ve gone to an out of the way bathroom. But, there might be troll, and we know how that goes.

Harry Potter Sorcerers Stone 1What caught me, though, in following through this line of thought is that Hermione is the one who takes responsibility for actions of Harry and Ron running after her, taking the blame. While on the one hand, that’s a really noble thing – but it also dismisses the fact that she was there because Ron was a jerk to her. For me, as someone who has often played nice, taken the blame, and pushed my own experience to the side in order to keep the peace, it’s hard to know what the “right” reading is.

Earlier this week, I had my first individual supervision session with my supervisor. At one point in the session, while she was asking about my goals, I commented that they seemed a pretty tall order and I laughed. Pretty common for me.

She paused, looked at me, and asked. “What did you just do?”

I stopped, thought. “I laughed?”

“What was that about?”

And, with a quiet voice, trembling a bit, I told her. I told her about the anxiety of doing this work, that there are times I still I can’t believe I’m doing it. We talked a bit about it, and then she paused again. “What was it like to speak your truth underneath the anxiety?”

That question was powerful for me and has been rolling around my brain. What is it like to speak the truth from underneath the anxiety? From underneath the shame? From underneath the possibly constant message that we aren’t worthy enough to tell our story, to speak our truth?

What would it be like to speak the truth that yes, Hermione was kind of the reason that Harry and Ron were in the bathroom with the troll to begin with… and to speak the truth that Ron was being a dick? Because it’s neither one nor the other – it’s both. Both are true and both are real and both are worth telling.

Even before this most recent experience, Hermione’s character resonated with me. What I have particularly appreciated and has caught me as I write this is how she grew into her own throughout the series. She wasn’t always willing to take the blame. She owned all of her qualities, even if it was unpopular, even if it meant there was trembling voice and perhaps standing in her own power.

It was enough that she learned to value herself and her skills, and to allow others to bear witness when things were not perfect. That is part of her strength and power.

It amazes me how much I still learn from the Harry Potter series, even years after reading and watching them.

Weekend Treats

Hunh, I had this saved, but not yet set to publish, because I hadn’t completed it. Here I am, two weeks later. Enjoy. (And, at this point, the blogs I follow on Bloglovin’ currently.)

Links to Share

White Supremacy & Fear: The Cracks In America’s Foundation No One Will Fix by Addye B at Butterfly Confessions
Deeply rattling, because of its deep truth and deep challenge to White America. So freaking powerful.

Brave by Anna Meade at if i had a voice…
A reminder that brave is not just about jumping willy-nilly into things.

Loosening the Tether of Perfectionism: A Note to my Younger Self by Mara Glatzel
This… so many times over.

Welcome the People by Mandy Stewart, writing at the Secret Rebel Club
A beautiful reminder of each person’s worth.

Voice Lessons by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
Reminders that sometimes, shrinking into nothing isn’t the plan. There’s more to it.

I Will Stand by Bethany at Midwife of Words
A deep reflection of empathy, right here.

Living with Intention by Mara Glatzel
Looking at the question of “What do I want from this life?” A hard, necessary question.

#AugustMoon14: Set an Intention by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
A beautiful follow up to Mara’s post above, about being clear on our intentions and claiming then… even when we may not see it at first.

The Spiritual Art of Saying No by Courtney E. Martin at On Being with Krista Tippett (Blog)
This sends shivers down my spine each time I visit it. It’s helping me learn to cope with not being able to do everything.

This is Your Brain on Silence by Daniel A. Gross on Nautilus
A great reminder as we head into the latter part of the year, which tends to be stressful in so many ways.

In the Aftermath of Ferguson, Stay Angry and Stay Woke by Kara Brown from Jezebel
Reminders that Ferguson is one incident that, sadly, is not uncommon. It’s vital to stay woke.

Blessing for the Jaded Healer by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
This speaks to my heart, and is something I need to bookmark for when the going gets tough.

Musical Interlude

This is probably one of my favorite songs by Florence and the Machine. I have never seen this movie, nor really know anything about it. But Florence Welch’s voice? Gah. Gets me in the gut every time. (Drumming Song made its own visit more than a year ago. It’s worth a revisit, if you’re so inclined.)

This world makes no sense to me: One of the reasons I tell my story

I’ve been thinking about what matters in our culture and what it means to be open to the hard stuff that goes on in this world. I’m taken back to a conversation I had with some clients when Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose. I was in charge of leading group that week, and the news had hit earlier that month. So, I brought an article, which ended with the statement that addiction is not inherently selfish, that there are a lot of factors at work. I wanted to talk about what they thought about that, given their own experiences.

What comes to mind now is the comment from someone that people die from overdoses every day. That just because Hoffman was famous didn’t make him better than the struggles other people faced. In the moment, it was a sense of “Yes,” but also my own struggle to “stay in control,” to go back to what I had meant to talk about in group (which, as an aside, you learn in Counseling 101 – don’t do that. It’s not helpful.) And yet, that thought keeps coming to mind today – of who is allowed to matter, what is allowed to count, and how we talk about the hard things? Who do we give voice and attention to? And what happens to every day experience, when there are those who struggle with the same thing(s)?

And I’ve been thinking about Robin Williams’ death in similar terms… but there’s more than that. I think one of my friends on Facebook said it eloquently, that part of what resonates is that the story (depression, suicide, hopelessness) is not one unfamiliar to so many people. It’s getting press coverage because of someone famous – but we also want to say, “Me too!” because it’s important stuff and perhaps, this is a time we get the forum.

And when it hits close to the heart (if you’ve read even a few of the posts, he was beloved of many – probably because he DID make us laugh and see the world in new ways), we reach out toward our own experience. It’s our way of understanding… it’s a way to make sense of the fact that someone who was best known for joy and laughter was feeling such pain and struggle. There is no sense in that. We pull in closer to our experience, to share so that others might not feel as lonely. Because depression, thoughts of suicide – all of that is a lonely, hopeless place to be.

And so, we hold on to the things that we can – our experience, our loved ones, the ways that our story does matter. To share our own experiences and bring to light the ways that we have shown up on this planet, whatever that looks like. We tell stories to make sense of a world that is so senseless – with children being taken, unarmed people being shot and killed, with good people dying and taking their own lives. Stories help us feel connected, whether to others that we know or that we don’t. It allows us the opportunity to find even a sliver of hope.

Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
– Stephen King (Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption)

 

Breaking silence: When bravery has nothing to do with “fine”

(Note: Unlady-like swearing for heartbreaking national news.)

So often, I allow my desire to not make waves get the best of me. I wait wait wait until things are at a breaking point to express what I’m feeling. That’s rarely helpful or pretty. In honor of brave, in honor of truth-telling, you get today’s post.

My heart is breaking over here. There are the news reports from Ferguson, Missouri about 18-year old Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American male shot to death by police… and the police response when the community understandably protests this. And all that comes up when thinking about ALL of the non-white population that lives in fear of this, because the presence of racism is real.

As hard as it is, I will admit that current events like this are not often on my radar. I see them on Facebook, I know the headlines, but I rarely talk about it. I don’t want to think about it, because it’s HARD. And so, I read the eloquent status posts of friends, and then move on. Because I can’t be that eloquent. I can’t think about it – and yet, there is so much pain and uncertainty… because this shit goes on every. single. day. And not engaging with it is as much of the problem as the actions that are happening – because not speaking about it, not engaging? I bear silent witness to it and my silence is my consent.

I’m tired of consenting to the shit that happens, on a daily basis, and think that my silence has no consequence. Because I recognize myself in a friend’s perplexed status asking “I get that Robin Williams’ death is sad, but where is the outrage for what is happening in Missouri?” and knowing the layers of meaning behind my silence.

And, probably like everyone, there are the overwhelming responses to Robin Williams’ death, including the potential for suicide. The thought that someone who is one of my favorite actors is no longer in this world. That there are so many people who are hurting out there – who have dealt with (and continue to deal with) depression, and dammit, we don’t talk nearly enough about mental health. Or, if we do talk about it, it’s in unhealthy terms about trying to “fix oneself.” (Great web comic – If physical disease were treated like mental health)

There is stigma around what is felt to “someone’s own problem,” and the ways society (myself included) are sometimes so fucking unhelpful. I think about times my own depression got the best of me and my own ways of trying to cope with it (healthy and not so healthy). I often say of those experiences that I learned so much (about a lot of things) but would never ever wish that on anyone.

And this is a stark reminder of why I am going into the work I am, and yet, reminds me of the weight of it. Silence, my friend, you are no longer helpful in these situations.

****

I am, by nature and personality, someone who wants to make everything okay. I want to wrap everyone in a great big hug and shout – STOP IT! I want it all to stop. I want so badly to not see these things, to know these things. I want to not think about them. I don’t want to understand the status updates going around Facebook about what a lying liar depression is. I don’t want to admit any of this. I want to put on my super happy face and say “Things are FINE!”

And yet… they aren’t. They are so fucking far from fine. These two are only a drop in the ocean of the heart-breaking realities of this world.

And just as I start to pound my hands on the table, as soon as I start allowing the heartbreak in, I distract myself. Then I come back. This is part of the practice. The coming back, when it is so hard.

This is the back and forth of learning how to be brave. Because brave is not just “I am fine.” Brave is showing up, snotty nosed and full of bubbling emotion, and knowing that it has to go somewhere. I can’t keep letting it build until I explode.

It is choosing to tell this truth, rather than hide underneath the covers, rather than hide behind the other post ideas I had for today. It is showing up and saying things that are hard… that racism is alive and well and I have participated in it – at the minimum via my silence… that mental health needs to be talked about, and I am just as guilty as others in not responding compassionately, which breeds more stigma. It’s time to own my stuff and live from place that feels truer to who I am and want to be.

{This brave shit is hard. And so so necessary.}

If you are struggling with the bravery of staying in a world that is hurting so much – please reach out.

Lifeline is always available, including a chat function if you’re like me and don’t like the phone.

1-800-273-8255

Weekend Treats Returns!

Has it really been almost a year since I’ve done one of these? Holy macaroni!

In honor of trying to be more present, in honor of building community and bearing witness to the journey for each other, I am hoping to spend more time engaging with and sharing the great reads that I find throughout the internet. I’m hoping weekly. We’ll see how it goes.

Links to Share

Everyday Acts of Courage by Beth Morey (via Secret Rebel Club)
I love the reminders that, a) things don’t need to be perfect for us to start, and b) showing up every day requires its own courage.

Signing Off, Broken Process, and a Writing Experiment by the Jotter’s Joint
Oh, this one hit home… definitely got me thinking about process and persistance.

Fiercely Being by Jonathan Fields (h/t to Jill for sharing on her Something Good post)
An interesting look at how we might measure our lives – not about what we are building or becoming, but something a bit deeper than that.

31 Benefits of Free-Writing by Cynthia Morris
A good reminder on why writing practice/free-writing is so important (and why I want to re-incorporate it more regularly into my life).

On Illness, Belief, and Saying Yes by Andrea Gibson (via The Body is Not an Apology)
This poet always has an amazing way of framing (and reframing) the world. This is no exception.

What I Would Say if You Were Here with Me by Jennifer Louden
This one? After I read it, I printed it out and pasted it into my journal. That good.

Spinning, Sauntering, Stuck, Still: How to tell if you’re doing enough by Carla at Living Wild and Precious
This was a wonderful reframe of how the same activity may actually be doing different things for you… and learning to recognize it.

This cookie “makes” me feel by Krissie at My Radical Commitment
This was a really accessible way to understand “intuitive eating,” and has given me a practical way to work with food.

Hot Palms Pressed to Today by Mady Steward at Messy Canvas
You know that talk about showing up and being awake in one’s life? This is a post that shows the beauty of that process.

Musical Interlude

My love affair with music has been returning. It’s time to start sharing some of the gems that are getting a lot of play time for me right now.

This is the group Mediaeval Baebes, a wonderful medieval music group I have seen a few times at the Maryland Renaissance Faire. This is my current favorite by them. So much fun.

What links or music have been lighting you up? I’d love to hear!