Monday, February 19, 2018

Shelter from the Storm

    Shelters have structures.  The story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf offers us a metaphorical glimpse into the kind of structure that keeps us safe.  As a person, the structure that keeps me safe is my solid self, who oversees my internal family system.  Knowing who I am, what I am capable of, what my frailties are, as well as my place and space in the universe contribute to this solid self and allow me to function.  As a leader, whether as a parent, a friend, a teacher, a writer, or a therapist, coming from this solid grounding allows me help others in both expected and unanticipated ways.  I can both model and help in demonstrating how structure (boundaries) can lead to feelings of safety which in turn becomes security, a shelter.
    For the shelter of society,  structure is often found in institutions, including government.  The government must mirror a solid self, knowing who it is, what it is capable of, its frailties, and space and place in the universe to connect to its individual members.  In our society, government currently is not operating from a solid sense of self, at least the executive branch.  That branch is lead by me, me, me, it's all about me mentality.  One could, I suppose argue, that at least the tweeter in chief knows who he is.  But does he? He is the man who is called the President of the United States, not the man who shouts "you're fired" on tv.  He does not have absolute authority to do whatever he wants in the government as he does in the corporations that he owns.  We citizens are not his employees.  We are his employer.  The President works for the people of America, all of us, each of us, regardless if we voted for him or not.  He is our representative to the world at large in this time and this space and this place and he is an embarrassment in that regard.  His tweets are ludicrous and self-serving and often peppered with incorrect information.  He fires the seeds of dissent through an automatic weapon, dividing us as a nation.  I am incredulous, and have been since Inauguration Day 2017.
    When I am having a difficult time understanding my own self I know I need the help of another mind to work through the issues I have that are preventing that.  But first, I must come to that knowledge.  For institutions and their leaders, I think that is a Herculean task.  Yet, the introspective life is especially important for the elected leaders who allegedly speak for us.  Some do, some don't, and whether they do or not is how closely they are in touch with the understanding that to provide shelter for society, they must think of all of its members, not only themselves.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


      In the wake of yet another school shooting, this time in Florida, seventeen dead, others injured, I feel compelled to write.  Writing is talking and action is needed but with the writing comes the reading and putting into the universe the energy for the action.  Writing is a step from the thoughts and prayers that while another intentional step in the universe, is less put-it-out-there.  Although, when the event happened, when I watched the aftermath, especially the video of the mother yelling at Trump that he could do something, I cried and I did offer thoughts and prayers.  A first step.  I watched the NY Times GOP Guide to Mass Shootings and shook my head.  A second step.  I thought about past shootings and even potential shootings and wondered how I could help.  What could I say? A third step.  I'll know what I say, because I now will say it.
     I never have owned a gun, although I have shot a bb gun and some kind of pistol when my neighbor took me to the shooting range.  When my husband worked for the police department in the 70's and he brought his gun home, I made sure he stored it high, in a secret turn around book shelf we had, well out of reach of our sons.  I didn't let my sons have toy guns, except in the summer in the form of water pistols.  I figured they had an index finger and thumb if they wanted to play shoot. When I was a child I did play war with a friend up the block who had all of the play things from toy guns to helmets to backpacks.  In my imagination I lobbed grenades and shot up enemy lines. So, I have some familiarity with guns.  Some.
     I understand people have guns for protection (who are they kidding?) as well as hobbies.  Some like to shoot at the range, others to shoot for sport and, like fishermen, dress and eat the animals they shoot.  I have no negative thoughts about people who have guns and use them (or potentially use them) for those reasons.  It's just not for me.  But neither is skydiving or windsurfing or welding or running marathons.  Not that there are too many comparisons across these not-for-me's.
    I believe in the first amendment even though I don't always agree with what people say.  Still, I defend the right to say it.  No brainer.  I don't have to agree to understand the right.  I believe in the second amendment, even though I don't own guns.  Although, and here's a big difference, way back when a gun was a one shot item, often not accurate.  But I'll not debate that.  Let's suspend belief and think the intention was you have a right to own a gun, no matter the potential for killing.  As time evolves, perhaps owning even a nuclear gun will be legitimatized. Ridiculous or foreshadowing? What is the limit?  And now we have the problem to address.  Not do you have a right to own a gun, but what type of gun do you have a right to own?
    For me, weapons of mass destruction in the gun sense are guns that no individual should be permitted to own, nor have access to privately.  You want to take target practice?  Pistol or rifle? No automatic weapon.  No.automatic.weapon.  Oh, you have to reload to often? Whoopsie.  Zen target practice.  You want to hunt? No.automatic.weapon.  You want to be able to eat the animal, not pulverize it.  No.automatic.weapon.  Try a bow to show your real skill.
   Even without automatic weapons changes are still needed to keep guns off the streets, out of the hands of children, out of the hands of mentally ill.  So much need to restore our society to a society not rooted in fear and terror.  We will lose the opportunity to come together as a nation to mourn another school shooting when we lose easy access to all types of weapons and automatic weapons are banned.  Thoughts and prayers are an empty check written on a failed bank.  Our lawmakers must step away from the gun lobby as an addict steps away from drug of choice and enact real gun control laws.  Not blaming shootings on mental health issues, which are separate.  Mental health needs must be addressed.  Gun control issues must be addressed.  Our society deserves better.  Our children deserve a safe place to be every day in school.  EVERY DAY.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


      Rainy day yesterday.  My plans early on were to go to the movies, but as the day progressed, the movies were not in my thoughts.  I spent some time going through one of the overstuffed closets as a precursor to getting rid of stuff.  I have a lot of stuff.  Stuff I collected with my husband before he died.  Stuff my husband collected.  Stuff I've collected since.  Under the umbrella of stuff there is good stuff, interesting stuff, useful stuff, and then just plain crap.  Why am I keeping this kind of  crap.  I came across some stuff that is salable but I'm not sure how to sell it, nor if it will sell.
    I took pictures of some of the stuff I think I might sell.   The dead body decanter, for example.  Maybe get $20 for it if I can find the correct place to post it.  Then there's the sports cups collected over the years.  Not really post on ebay types, but maybe a garage sale will net me 50 cents each? In any event, stuff needs to go.
    This doesn't even include the books I have.  Books and books and books.  I think I'll try to sell the first editions in case anyone wants them, but what to do with the rest?  Donate them for library sales, perhaps?  Maybe leave them around town with a note inside...pass it on...
    Thing is, when it comes to books, or really, any of the stuff, well, most of the stuff, it's hard to say goodbye.  These are part of my life, things I've enjoyed or we've enjoyed.  Things that were going to make us some money in our retirement years.  Now, I don't see that happening.  Should have invested in gold.
     I look at all of this stuff and see dollar signs, frivolous purchases.  I mean, they weren't at the time, but now when understanding the difference between stuff and money, I judge my younger self.  I could have had a lot more actual cash.  To do what with though?  How much money do I really need?  I'm comfortable in so many more ways than so many people.  I am entirely grateful to what I do have--roof over my head, food to eat, a means of transportation.  So why am I concerned?  I'm putting something on the stuff and selling/getting rid of  the stuff that is more than about money and opportunities lost to be like Scrooge McDuck and swim in my pool full of money.  What is it?
     Where once happiness and pride of ownership enveloped the stuff, now it drips with memories of what was once.  Each book, each collectible has its own story, and it is the story that I do not want to lose.  But, how can I?  Memories randomly enter my mind frequently, uninvited, but welcomed.  I know the memories that the stuff holds can revisit as well in the pool of memories.
      To keep in some way so that I can recall at will, I can always take pictures.  So, the solution to the holding of memories is a fairly easy one.  There is something deeper, something more I need to ponder.  Perhaps as I come to understand it, I will also find it easier to divest myself of the stuff.   I'll let you know : )

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Distance to Empty

        I noticed my car's odometer yesterday when I turned it on to return home after another great session with the creative writing group I facilitate.  9999 and holding.  I've had the car over a year and I'm only now reaching this milestone.  Demonstrates how much of a homebody I've become.  And, this even includes two vacations---to Yosemite and Mendocino from Los Angeles.  In my commuting to work days I would have reached this level months earlier.  Even in my commuting around this valley in earlier days, I would have reached this level months earlier.  I just don't get around much any more...well in my car.
      This morning when I sat down to write, I noticed the additional information on the odo.  I was not moving, going 0 mph.  I was sitting in park, and I had 96 miles to go before the car was empty.  Is there a message in the picture? 
       I've felt rather stuck in the past few months, as if I am not moving.  I am, indeed, parked in the past and not feeling the possibilities in the future.  Okay, odo, I get it.  I still have some distance to go before empty.  For my car, 96 mi to empty depends on how I drive.  It is the minimum I will get if I tool around town in stop and go traffic.  If I head out on the highway, looking for adventure, and whatever comes my way, well, I find the distance to empty will actually go up as I get better mileage on the open road at a steady speed. 
      I take at least two ideas from this.  One, obviously, head out on the highway.  Two, go at a steady speed.  Perhaps not full speed ahead, but ahead.  Let's say on the open highway my car gets 30 mph (which is the minimum it does).  This might up the distance to empty to 115 miles.  My car, when full, notes the distance to empty is about 350 miles.  115 is approximately a third of that distance. So, if I push the analogy envelope, the metaphor envelope, I see this as approximately a third of a tank of life.  That's a ways to go still.  God willing, in good health.
    In that creative writing class yesterday I wrote a kind of eulogy to my writing, a resume of my writing life over the years.  It was a strange piece, but I realized that it was a kind of way of building myself up as a writer.  I wrote of the poems and essays and short stories and books that have been birthed through my creative process and how they hide in boxes and drawers awaiting light.  I vowed to give it to them, to bring them a place in the world that is no longer hidden.  I want to continue my daily blog writing, if it serves no one but me.  Still, it is in the world.
     I joined a writing class online and my first assignment is to write a 55 word story.  It's still wandering around in my mind.  It's a good exercise to limit and to look at words.  I wonder how skilled I am as a writer.  Prolific, yes.  Skilled? My inner critic debates.
     I think there is some sort of interesting connection to looking at my odometer yesterday,  an uncommon occurrence, what I previously wrote in class before I looked at my odometer, and how it hadn't left my mind and became my muse this morning.  I don't profess to understand the connection, I do, however, observe and note its presence.  I'm still trying to figure out life.  In my odometer metaphor, the learning for me is, I have miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Walk in the Rain : )

     California Sunshine is her name.  She's been a part of my life for just a little over a year and we've had some adventures together.  I hope to have many more.  Today I thought would not be one of them, but it was.
      When I awoke this morning it was a dripping rain.  Nothing too heavy, but more than a mist.  By the time I actually got up and had my breakfast it had stopped.  I checked the weather report and it indicated the rain would commence at 10:00.  It was 9:00.  I hitched Cali up to her harness, we had an hour for a walk that usually lasted between 30 and 45 minutes.  All's well.
      Cali moved along briskly this morning, usually she sniffs here and there more intently.  I thought it might have to do with the rain and the fact that no one was out walking.  Perhaps the usual canine track leavers had not passed by owing to the weather, or, it was just the wet that snuffed their tracks out.  In any event, I knew we had it nailed!
      When we arrived at the baseball field in the park I noticed, across the park, a large German shepherd standing next to an SUV.  Then I noticed that the SUV was a sheriff's car.  I must have just missed him exercising his dog on the field.  I would NOT have mentioned to him about his dog being off leash.  I knew he had control of his dog!  Ironically, after my walk, our adventure, when I was sitting at home I heard a constant th-thump of a helicopter and went online to find out that a suspect was barricaded after he stabbed a deputy.  In my watching of the news here and there, I saw video of the canine unit arriving.  I knew the dog had his exercise that morning!
     Cali and I trod our usual path to the top of the park.  No one else was in the park until we reached the top playground where a couple and their young child were playing in the playground.  We exchanged good mornings and I proceeded back down the path.  I was walking on the balance beam when the rain started.  Pouring, heavy steady rain.  I glanced at my watch: 9:30.  Last time I'd trust the weatherman.
      I finished the balance beam and we continued down the path.  I started to walk more quickly.  This is when Cali paid attention to the liquid sunshine falling on her.  She twisted on the harness, biting it, her indication that she was nervous.  I turned her around and kept walking.  She pulled to run away, but we would not outrun the rain!  Then I realized this was the first time we had taken a walk in the rain.  As a small puppy she lived a lot of her life in it last year in the backyard when we went out to potty, but it had been months since rain had touched her. 
      After a few steps from the course correction, Cali decided she was getting too wet.  Now, a series of attempts to shake off the water.  Every five steps.  Stop, shake, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, stop, shake!  By this time I'd pulled on my hood and was enjoying the rhythm of the rain bouncing off.  I watched it bead up on my new jacket like on a finally waxed car.  Cali must have decided she was used to the wet, because her attention now turned to the puddles we were walking through.
      Usually Cali walks with her nose down inhaling the scents from the ground, in search of interesting leavings (mushrooms, poop piles, kleenex).  Now her tongue lashed out at the puddles, as if she could capture all the scents in liquid form.  We continued our walk.
      Pulling, attempting to run, biting the leash, shaking off the wet, drinking all the puddles faded into the past as we made our way down the home stretch of the our street.  She strutted in the rain, a veteran now.  No longer did I need to convince her that as a golden retriever she inherently loved the water.  She at least could tolerate it!  Another new adventure.  Check!  I love seeing the world in new ways through the eyes of my California Sunshine!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Land of Could Be

     I bought a set of oracle cards.  I've never worked with them before, but I'm usually up for something otherworldly.  I am, because I don't know.  I have questions, some of which have to do with interconnections with forms of reality.  I like to think I know something of reality, but I admit I am uncertain.  I try to be open to different ways of learning and being.  i try to live in the land of Could Be.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It's not the most comfortable of lands in which to live.  Uncertainty is something I do not like at all.  But, on those days when I have my solid self (more days than not, thankfully), I dabble in trying to understand the land of Could Be.  It's not the land of possibilities in the sense of life is hell here, so there must be, might be, could be something better.  It is the land of not knowing and of seeing a spectrum of possibilities...the land of Could Be.
   Occasionally I'll ask a question and read the Oracle Card.  My question of today, not too tightly formulated, had to do with where my life is leading.  The card meandered in generalities for several paragraphs and ended with an idea that I velcroed.  Basically the notion is that I  do not find success in an end, but in a journey.  Likely why I go on so many of them.  Not necessarily physical journeys in travel, but relationship journeys, inner journeys.  And yes, I enjoy them, therefore finding success in process over product.
   I thought about this idea in relationship to my writing.  I am finishing revising a book and will soon be in the end, the now-what phase.  What will I do with it now?  Uncertain.  I have been satisfied in the process of revision, but this new phase leads to competition, and this is not my area of expertise.  I can perhaps think of it as a new journey, but, that will be a topic for another day.
   Oracle cards are an interesting form of connection.  With what, with whom, this I don't know.  But I do think there is something to being open to this type of connection.  To me it heralds the universe and its connection to the beings within it, whomever we are.  One day more will be known, more will be clear.  This may occur sooner than later by viewing success as process, not product.  By being open to the land of Could Be.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Routines and Surprises

            Most days I take my dog for a walk up through the local park.  The whole walk is close to two miles.  I meet interesting people from time to time and a few regulars here and there.  I am a friendly person and appreciate friendliness in others.  I am intolerant of people who have their dogs off leash, as if the park is their own backyard.  I will say something to those people about how it is important for the comfort of all of us that your dog be on a leash.  My most amusing encounter was the time a man's large dog came running for my golden retriever.  I wasn't sure if we were to be lunch or all would go well.  The man chased his dog yelling, "Hunter, come, Hunter, come."  Hunter's point of focus was my dog.  When Hunter arrived he sniffed around and satisfied, moved on, his owner running behind him yelling, "Hunter, come!"  When he passed I said, "That's why we have leashes”. His reply, "I don't need a leash." 
 I chuckled at that for a bit and, apparently, am still.  Then there have been the encounters where the owner of the leashed dog says, "Oh, he's friendly," and I allow my dog Cali, who loves people and dogs, to greet the other dog.  When the other dog snarls and barks and I pull Cali away, I say, "I guess not too friendly."
Today I started out on my walk and was stopped by my neighbor and we stood and talked for ten minutes or so just catching up.  Pleasant chat.  I continued on to the park.  As Cali and I reached the baseball field of the park and we walked across like we usually do, a dog came bounding towards us dragging a leash.  I stopped.  I noticed  the dog was a puppy.  Behind her came a man running and calling her name.  Behind him  three young girls also running and calling her name headed towards us.  The man, obviously a body builder, who wore a sleeveless Superman shirt that displayed not only arm but chest muscles, was quite apologetic as he untangled his puppy from my dog's leash.  He took the puppy away and the young girls arrived to ask to pet my dog. 
 As the man took down a soccer net near the other end of the field, the puppy escaped again and joined us.  Two of the the girls talked about how my dog looked just like theirs.  The other girl, the owner of the 4 month old lab puppy, talked about her other dogs at home.  We talked about dogs in general and our puppies in particular as Cali received a lot of love from the young girls. They were very sweet and friendly.  After several minutes, I told them to have a good day, they responded in kind.  Cali and I continued our walk.  
As we did, I thought about what a nice encounter with the girls we had.  Such positive energy between the girls and me and the dogs.  I thought about missing working with kids and how uplifting they are.  Such a random encounter made my day.  In all of the negative news and serious situations in this world, much of it brought on by poor leadership, this little piece of Americana gives me hope for the future.  Children are our future.  We must work to leave them a world that bends towards positivity, that preserves the natural world, that points to all that human beings have in talking about pets in the middle of a baseball field on a random Saturday morning.