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Today is Day 13 of My Selfie Challenge. This is my time to look at how I walk in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bind my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it is my hope that as I take each photo, I will learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it is my time to find the beauty that is me.

~ ~ ~

There is so much going on in the world. . .horrible stuff that needs our attention. Here is just some of what is filling my mind:

American Disabilities Act
Common Sense Gun Reform
Human Rights for all
DACA
No Wall
Racial Inequality
Fairtrade
Pipelines
Education
Climate Change
LGBTQ Rights
Refugees/Immigration
National Park
and
Hurricane Harvey/Natural Disaster Recovery
and
Israel
Palestine
Shalom

There is so much on my mind – now & always. My heart is racing as I realize how daunting this never-ending work is.

Day 13Tonight, I am wiped. I haven’t stopped for what feels like eternity, but somehow I still have hope. I also have the deep realization that although I don’t do enough. I do the best I can. I have done and will continue to do whatever I can for humanity and all of it’s moving parts.

What’s beautiful right now are the many grassroot organizations as well as more established organizations that are motivating and inspiring so many of us to act.

My list is no where near conclusive. I can’t stop adding to it.

Native Americans
Voters Oppression
#MeToo

What about the challenges of individuals, communities, and countries everywhere.

Hinieni (Here I am)! I am here to serve.

Sending love, light, hope, & blessings. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chava looking at large canvas 3

Rothko Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts;             Photo Courtesy of David Cooper

Last night, I learned to listen to that quiet voice that reminded me to remain silent when what I really wanted to do was share the thoughts racing around in my head. Somehow I knew that I needed some time to reflect before expressing myself in any serious way.

Communicating is easy. At any moment, I can pick up my phone, send a quick (or lengthy) text, quickly shoot of an email, blog from my soul, shout out to my Facebook/Twitter community, or scream at my sons. I could do that, but I didn’t. At least, I did not do that last night.

Instead of going for instant gratification, I took a deep breath, a long walk, and a shot of vodka. I decided to refrain from major conversations, long involved letters, intense blogging, or even small talk. While I wrote a few quick responses on Facebook status lines, I did not pour out my heart, make any major decisions, or say something that I would later regret.

For once in my life, I (mostly) listened to that quiet voice that provided a shadow over my soul. Sometimes it is better to allow for the quiet.

When I was a little girl, my father used to loving put his hands over my ears and give a gentle squeeze. As he did, he would whisper the words, “Listen to the quiet.” I believe that act may have been the most loving act my father ever did. He knew that when I was sad, tired, sick, or struggling that I needed the cocoon of silence. I probably also needed his loving hands to remind me that I am loved.

While I don’t have my father’s hands nurturing my spirit with his gentle touch and loving words, I do have the ability to remember that sometimes, I need to listen to the quiet. And sometimes, I simply need to allow for the silence before finding and sharing my voice.

Writing is how I best communicate. If you want to know what I really feel, don’t ask me to tell you, ask me to write. Years ago, I learned:

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at,
what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
~Joan Didion

Through writing, I share the deepest part of who I am. And while I know how to use my voice, I am a much more honest writer.

So when last night’s darkness loomed, I did the only thing that made sense. I allowed for the silence, refrained from making any ‘real’ decisions, and I sat in my sadness, my frustration, and my anger. And the hardest thing that I did was refrain from writing. I didn’t send words out into the universe that could never be taken back.

At this point, you may be wondering what was feeling so heavy. Was it that one of my sons was acting out? Was it an internal struggle I am having? Was it that I have an upcoming meeting that is reminding me of my many vulnerabilities? Yes, it was all of those things. AND it was the sense of foreboding I feel with the upcoming election that was intensified by this week’s AIPAC conference. It is also the growing rift I see in the larger Jewish community. Maybe it has always been there, but in the last few years I feel the rift growing. Whether we are talking about Israel or the Jewish people, politics or immigration, human rights or the environment, each and every issue seems to create clouds over our people and the larger world too. And with each serious challenge being brought to our attention at break neck speed, the struggle is inevitable.

Last night, I did my best to take a deep breath and to listen to the silence. I chose to go inward, to cry, and to sleep for a couple of hours. It helped.

I am not sure that the world is a better place or that the elections will bring out the best in people. I do know that this morning I have a little more clarity about what I need to do today, tonight, and in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. Mostly I know that I have to sometimes trust the silence and sometimes trust my voice. And perhaps, what I need most is to:

“Step out today not seeking to be in the spotlight but seeking
for a spot to light
– be a blessing to someone.”
Bernard Kelvin Clive

 

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Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

SEEKING LIGHT:Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

(Note: WordPress seems to have a mind of it’s own right now and will not let me organize paragraph’s and spaces as needed.)

     Forgive me, I am feeling the urge to purge some of the thoughts that keep racing around my brain. Yes, this is absolutely a diatribe. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop my mind from living and reliving the many nightmares that I see surrounding me, my community, our nation, and our world. The world feels like it is getting worse by the moment.
     With information coming to all of us at a rapid fire pace, it is hard to convince myself that things aren’t really as bad as they seem. They are bad. Our world is a really challenging place and regardless of our politics, we are all feeling it.
Before I start, let me say, I am writing in my blog and I don’t want to be politically correct. Mostly I have been respectful of others on my blog. I share my journey, many of thoughts, and now it is time for me to say what I really about Israel, marginalization of black people, gun control, immigration, women’s rights, climate change, modern day slavery and the list could go on for hours.
     While I accept the fact that none of my thoughts are simple, they feel like they should be. Human rights matter!!! Period. No question. If you feel differently, please don’t continue to read. And in all honesty, if you have Republican leanings, it is due to so many of your beliefs and/or the staunch Republican politicians that our country is in the condition it is.
     I love people. I am a bleeding heart liberal that wishes that I could really make a positive impact in not only my community, and our nation, but in the larger world. I do what I can and I always will.
     Let’s start simple, why do people purchase items made from slave labor? Why would anyone want a sweet morsel of chocolate that comes at the expense of another human being. In truth, I understand that not everyone is aware of who makes their clothing or who picks their cocoa beans, but seriously, if you do know, why wouldn’t you change your ways and look for ways to end slave labor? I don’t have two spare cents to rub together, but I have made decisions for how I shop. If you want to learn more ask. . .I will share. But you don’t need me, there are amazing resources in the fair-trade world. And if money is your concern, don’t buy what you can’t afford or go to thrift shops, consignment stores, etc. to get what you need and want. At least, this way, those that are human rights violators don’t receive direct benefit. And if you really feel like you need something that you can’t live without then only buy exactly what you need until you can afford products that take human rights into consideration. And if your curious, yes that does mean that Hershey is ENEMY #1.
Next
     Climate change is hurting our universe. It isn’t a fabricated tale and yet there are so many limited people that believe this. Look at the storms, look at the landscape, the pollution, and look at your carbon footprint. And if your really curious, consider taking the time to study what scientists are saying, not politicians that want to fabricate a story to meet their needs. And look at the loss of lives, home, and land over the last decade.
Next
     Having a child is a choice. There are so many reasons that women need to make a choice that may not seem “right’ to you and even to me, but it isn’t my right to dictate how people take care of their bodies. As a survivor of rape, I can’t imagine how I would have responded to being told I couldn’t have an abortion. While I didn’t have that experience, I wouldn’t want it. And as for some pregnancies, if I were to have gotten pregnant during my fertile years, it would have been an unwanted baby. I wanted children more than words could say, but my one surviving birth was a miracle. I lost many pregnancies before and after my biological son was born. Once doctors understood my genetic reality, there was no way I would have wanted to carry a pregnancy to term or even until I miscarried it. Why should I even have to? Why should anyone?
     Let women decide how to take care of their bodies and meet their needs. And don’t make people go to back alleys and have abortions by scummy beings or doctors that are awesome enough to break the law. Let’s not go back in time and cause the devastation that once was.
Next
     All my life, I have heard about the countries that turned their backs on the Jews before and during the Holocaust. And now that refugees are trying to navigate towards safety and a life of freedom, we are perpetuating the same realities that existed in the late 1930s and in the 1940s. We are creating situations that allow for the black market to take over. Why can’t we open our country up and make immigration easier. I feel like I live in a population full of prejudice with an ethnocentric politicians/people.
     Instead of building a fence, make it easier for people to live and then watch them flourish. While it make take a while, people will thrive once they are given the room to soar.
Next
     How many more school children and students have to be murdered at the hands of someone that should never have had had access to a gun? For $200 you can go out and buy a gun. Perhaps you are facing an emotional crisis and you feel despondent for a period. No problem, just go to the local store and buy a gun, a couple bullets, and then take your life. Or better yet, you find out that someone screwed you, why not just buy a gun and blow them and their family away. It really is that simple. Why not consider a federal tax and a local tax for each and every gun you own. We can do this yearly or upon purchase. Heck, our dogs need a license to live in our homes.
     And seriously folks, who needs assault riffles? I am reasonably certain that no one does except perhaps military, law enforcement, and drug dealers.
     There are many steps that can be taken from all encompassing background checks, waiting periods, significant taxation, required training, and making it illegal for children to have access to all guns. Finally it should be illegal to have undocumented private transfer with no background checks.
     While I don’t understand why most people need a gun, I do understand that more can be done to prevent firearm related deaths.
Next
     Black Lives Matter! Period. While we can all say all lives matter, I know that as a white woman, the color of my skin will not marginalize in any way, shape, or form. I am secure that even if I made a mistake and ran a red light, I wouldn’t have to fear police brutality. And while I know the majority of officers are keeping our streets safe, there are some that aren’t and too many that are being kept on the force despite previous actions. And while I know there are challenges in the black community, we aren’t doing enough in society to change this reality. Violence begets violence – I pray that no more officers lose their lives due to hatred for ‘the uniform’ and I pray that those same officers show discernment while also keeping themselves safe.
Next
     Israel occupies territories and then wonders why a subjugated people are angry and ungrateful. Gaza is an open air prison that Israel has more or less created.
     No children should have to see their parents blown away on any side of the fence. And should I even discuss the fence? I will skip that here. No one should have to fear going out on an evening walk. And yet none of this is simple. Daily, there have been regular attacks on Palestinians in the territory, even the recent deaths of Israelis. And you wonder why violence is being perpetrated and people are ready to explode. We keep building settlements and destroying the dignity of those that live on their land. Again, I do not encourage violence, but I do think the current government is destructive and destroying any chance of peace in our lifetime.
Finally
     Our world could be so much better, if different choices were made. With every ounce of my being, I pray for peace for all.
From Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

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Everything we say and don’t say matters; everything we do and don’t do matters.

Words and Silence – Action and inaction. . . .

Over the past many weeks, I have been more selective with what I say and what I do. Allowing myself to room for silence of voice and action has sometimes grounded me and has sometimes left me profoundly uncomfortable.

Too much is going on in the world. Every day, we are bombarded with information on the Iran Deal, US politics, climate change, the illness of loved ones, poverty, racism, human trafficking, refugees, immigration, gun control (or lack of control). The world feels really dark and painfully out of control. Opinions, prejudices, and biases emerge as if they are fact. And the facts are skewed by whoever is sharing them.

While each of us may see or hear about the same event, we tend to interpret what is happening based on our life experiences and views. I am no different. And I am realizing that so many people lack the power to discern what is happening in the world because they are being influenced by whatever sunglasses they are wearing instead of by interpreting the facts with the openness to really embrace the facts.

With so many human travesties and a feeling of hopelessness, I find that I am doing less than I should. I am not visiting the sick, helping teens navigate the world; I am not taking the time to care for others or the environment as much as I should.  Instead I am feeling stuck; I am unable to process the world as I once did.

Add the above to life’s normal challenges and some not so normal challenges, I have been feeling paralyzed and unable to make a difference in the world.

With all of this in mind, over the recent period of time, I have found myself going a little more inward and looking for quiet ways to care for myself more. This week alone, I have slept more, read a little more, taken some amazing yoga classes and listened to some amazing podcasts. I have allowed myself some time to invest in close friends and my sons. This time has brought core exhaustion to my core, but it has also brought about some intense realizations.

When I allow my momentary sense of hopelessness to surface, I live in fear that the world can never recover from the human conditioning that exists today. And then. . . just as I settled in myself sparks began to emerge, so many beautiful moments. There are people that are really trying to address the horrific issues of our century. A couple of days ago, I received an email with the following link http://www.globalgoals.org/prayer-for-everyone/.  Open it up and allow yourself to dream, to believe, and then to join those that have created Global Goals, those that have yet to give up on the human atrocities. There is work to do; we can make a difference.  At the same time, that I woke up to find the above link in my mailbox, a couple of new friends and old friends alike have found ways to let me know that my voice matters.

A day doesn’t pass without me looking deeply into the world.  With that responsibility comes the opportunity to listen and to share; we can learn from one another.  Listening and sharing leads to action and sometimes inaction. There are things we must do and sometimes we simply can’t do it all.

As I move towards 5776, I am aware that my voice matters so I need to find my voice even as I listen to all of the voices that surround me. In the coming year, may I leave the very tight cocoon I have woven for myself and be the butterfly that brightens the world around me. May I truly make a difference by impacting the world and doing things that make improve the lives of not only my family, my community, but the larger world too.

Can I be a butterfly that makes the world a little more beautiful? Courtesy of Karen Judin

Can I be a butterfly that makes the world a little more beautiful?
Courtesy of Karen Judin

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