Category Archives: peace

Speechless

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Silence by Ket Quang via Freeimages

It is the bane of every writer to lose their words. Writer’s block is really a thing and it can be a very scary thing indeed. Being a fledgling writer myself, I am slowly trying to trust the process. But every time I publish a blog post, something that feels akin to giving birth, I feel purged and I panic that I won’t ever have another thing to write about. Writer’s resources suggest a myriad of ways to nudge the writing process. Use a prompt. Write something every day at the same time. Put ideas on paper without judging what is happening. All good advice to be sure but none of them fully assuage the fear that a coherent set sentences may never come to me again. In other words, I will be speechless.

It’s not as though words have flowed freely in every situation in my life. I was speechless both times I gave birth, first to my son and a few years later to my daughter and held them each for the first time. Words failed me when I witnessed my son marrying his long time sweetheart. My throat closed up when I was told of my cancer diagnosis. I was tongue tied when I shook Bruce Springsteen’s hand although I did manage a grin when we took a photo together. But when I had to be Momma Bear or step up to something I felt was unjust I have had no problem voicing my concerns.

As a parent, I felt that one of the greatest gifts I could give my children was permission to speak up and advocate for themselves. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s when a common adult adage was that children should be seen and not heard. Early on I was given the impression that what I had to say was not as important as what I should be listening to and what I was listening to was that my voice had less power than others did. I don’t blame my parents because at my current age I can fully appreciate that they were doing the best with what they knew and with the information they were raised with. It was ultimately up to me to find my own voice and I confess I am still finding it. During their younger years I constantly advocated for my children because they had yet to find their voices. Even when they did I still felt it was my duty to speak for them until one day they both assured me they could speak for themselves. That day was bittersweet to be sure. I was happy they felt strong and confident to say and do what they had to do. But a large piece of my parenting duties had to be put to rest.

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Speech Bubble by Prawny via Pixabay

When I consider the courage and power it takes to raise one’s voice, I must admit it is an interesting time in history right now. People are finding their voices about so many things that have been silenced for such a long time. Sexual assault. Racial profiling. Religious persecution. People of every age, gender and race are speaking out about things that happened to them yesterday or last year or last decade. The power of speaking out is overriding the fear of being shamed for the secret itself. Ironically, the thing that can render you speechless can also free you once you tell it. None of us could have ever imagined what has been kept quiet for so long. Each day the news brings more and more to light. A troubled young man with a criminal past obtains an assault weapon and enters a church with murderous intent. Speechless. A famous movie producer abuses countless women using his power to make or break their professional careers to get what he wants. Speechless. Politicians and religious leaders and movie stars prey on young girls and boys. There are no words.

I heard a woman speak at a recent empowerment event I attended. She said “a closed mouth does not get fed”. That statement was so profound I have not been able to forget it. Not only does it mean the obvious, that we cannot feed our bodies if we keep our mouths closed but that our spirits too suffer if we do not speak out on the things that hurt or demean us. I truly believe the best gift you can give a person is permission to speak their truth. Do words get corrupted? Yes. Are voices used for evil as well as good? No doubt about it. And yet the worst thing is the silence, the belief that one’s voice doesn’t matter or their story is worthless. They are rendered speechless.

Each day new stories are coming to light as men and women come forward to speak. It’s overwhelming, the scope and depth of the revelations. But it is also an enlightening and empowering time. Time to change the narrative. Time to change the balance of power where the demeaned and disenfranchised are allowed to speak and be heard.  Time to listen.

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Shout by macmao via Pixabay

 

Equinox

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Equinox by Comfreak via Pixabay

Last Friday was the autumn equinox. Summer has officially changed to fall, my favorite season of the year. Lots of great things happen that give me so much joy every fall. Anniversaries, birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving. Harvest, changing leaves, crisp air and pumpkins. The change begins in September. For me while I was raising my children and now as an advisor working in academia, September has always been the beginning of the new year, not January. Getting ready for fall means new school supplies, new clothes, a fresh start. A new beginning. The equinox signals the change.

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Tree of Change via Pixabay

This fall feels different. This September the world has seen three major hurricanes, two considered the largest in a century. Islands have changed, coastlines have changed, lives have changed beyond repair. This September has had two devastating earthquakes, hundreds killed and displaced. Monsoons and tornadoes. Flooding. Massive forest fires that burned for months clouded the air in September. This equinox it is clear that Mother Earth is pissed.  She made the required change from summer to fall but her fury seems slow to abate. The same can be said for human anger. Swords are rattling and there is great division as politics permeates every facet of life and not in a good way.

We live near major military bases, Air Force, Navy, Army and submarine. There has been a lot of activity these past few months, a sense of preparation. One night a loud hum that turned into something dark and ominous passed over my home. Something massive moved low and slow overhead, a feat of engineering, a sound that generated fear and unease, a disturbance in the force. Is this how our parents felt in the years before the great war? The uncertainty in the air, the rhetoric, the falseness of promises. The taunts of tyrants, the drums of war. There are major policy changes and vehement disagreements at every level and definitely a few steps backward. The constant deflection of attention by our leaders is giving me whiplash. There is a love of chaos and the blurring of lines. Sometimes it feels like a fight for the very soul of this country.

George Harrison famously sang “All things must pass” and if anything can save us, that sentiment surely will. I play my music loud to try to drown out the dissent. The equinox signals the seasons have transitioned and we are now on the other side of the next step. But how have we changed in the process? Webster’s dictionary defines equinox as the time of year when daytime and nighttime are equal in length. It certainly feels like that right now. There is such polarization that life in this country feels very black and white. For or against. Good or evil. Night or day.

So, yes, it has been a unique September. It is the first September we did not have our Mom here to celebrate her birthday. This September has dark things coming out of the shadows and discourse seems alive wherever one looks. Yet there is the other side, that equal balance of the equinox. This September has shone a light on heroes and heroines of many colors, genders, backgrounds and creeds. There has been thousands willing to stand, to kneel or to lay down in the face of injustice. There is hope and strength and so much courage. There is the opportunity to change the narrative, a chance to do something different now that the sun has crossed the equator.

Despite the dark days and the muted nights, life marches on. The college started classes this week, a whole new group of students with hopes and dreams and new clothes and school supplies beginning their education to explore and fulfill their life’s purpose. The devastating natural disasters have paradoxically brought out the best of humanity. In the face of that fury there is no color, creed or gender. There’s just people in need of each other. Why does it take these extreme measures to make us realize how alike we all really are? How fragile we are? How strong we are? That our blood is the exact same color and texture. That all of our brain matter is grey. That our lungs move in and out in harmony. That we all laugh and cry and love and struggle. We all have hopes and dreams. Life is not black or white. It’s a rainbow created by the sun shining through raindrops. Out of the mud comes the lotus. This too shall pass just as the equinox slowly changes the balance of the sun’s trajectory.  The equinox has made the transition and we are on the other side. Which road will we take into autumn?

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Silhouette by Geralt via Pixabay

Eclipse

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DSCN0194Last week an event of astronomical proportions occurred when a total eclipse of the sun was seen through a broad swath of the continental US and in partial elsewhere. An eclipse happens when the earth, moon and sun align, normally when the moon is in  crescent stage (according to the science tech who spoke at the gathering I attended to watch this event). The moon slowly encroaches on the sun until it fully covers it for several moments, leaving only a small bright circle of light as the sun tries to unsuccessfully maintain its superior stance in the heavens. In other words, a much smaller, seemingly dead asteroid has the ability to entirely block an enormous ball of burning flame from view, change the daylight to twilight and drop the temperature some significant degrees. That’s pretty cool.

I have always loved the mystery of space and the stars and have often been accused of having my head lost in them. As a young teen enthralled with such TV shows as Star Trek and later the iconic world of Star Wars, traveling to the stars was always an absolute dream of mine. I was determined to become an astronaut until I was undermined by my own inability to master high level math and science classes. Alas, my trip to the stars would only ever be real in my vast imagination bolstered by books and films.

What is it about our dreams that make us believe they are attainable? When we are

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Dreamcatcher by Pexels via Pixabay

young, the sky’s the limit until someone tells you it is not. We can have absolute faith, unshakable and true, that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to until we bump up against reality. Now that is not true of everyone. There are those who knew right away what they were meant to be and have achieved those goals. But I see that as kind of an eclipse; all the stars aligned for that person to make that dream happen. And yet despite that realization, I have never given up on having dreams. What is true is that as flexible humans we can adjust our dreams so that they are attainable. Or perhaps it is ourselves that we adjust to be more in line with our dreams. Like that determined little moon, it is possible to find yourself having your moment in the sun with the greatest of satisfaction and accomplishment. The real trick to dream attainment is discovering who you really are.

In that respect I believe it is important to follow your heart’s demands because more often than not it brings you to the place where you are supposed to be for the dream to evolve. The dream in my 20’s was to work in film and live in Hollywood. That I lived in northern Canada in a small town thousands of miles and a lifetime away from such a dream didn’t stop me. Once I got to Hollywood and started working on the dream, the bump against reality was jolting.  I did not expect it to be easy but it did not take me long to learn that much of the promise of Hollywood is as opaque as the smog that covers it. In a city built on fantasy, image counts, body type and hair color counts, speech and words (but not necessarily truth) counts. Talent really doesn’t register until you’ve been lucky enough to get a few jobs and even then it might not count.

Yet I have no regrets, not one. I grew up in Hollywood, I had fun in Hollywood and yes even got to meet the actor who played one of those fictional Star Trek characters I admired so much. I also met some lifelong friends and the man I would marry and raise a family with. And yes, the dream changed. I realized I was very good at listening to people, pinpointing what they trying to express and able to give them ideas to help with their particular concern or question. I went back to school and got my degree. One dream eclipsed another. That happened to be the right one for me but it could not have happened if I had not followed the one that wasn’t quite right for me.

Today is the last day of August as autumn begins to eclipse summer. Perhaps life is just a series of eclipses and our job is to find that brilliant circle in each event to mark our life’s unique journey. Sometimes it’s hard to know what each transition might mean especially when the darkness encroaches. I think of what the people of Texas are experiencing now in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. How devastating to think about rebuilding their lives let alone just surviving the event. Yet everywhere in that disaster is evidence that love has eclipsed hate. People have come together to help each other and there is seems to be no divide in the common goal of saving lives.

Maybe the universe was trying to tell us something a week ago Monday when millions trained their eyes to the sky. Mother Nature knows how to get our attention as she has proven once again with this cataclysmic hurricane.  We need to pay attention if we are to survive. There always seems to be a light in every moment of darkness. We are human and as such we have amazing capacity to rise again. If we can hold out over those moments of darkness, that sun will start to reveal itself again. Time to let go of all this hate and discourse. Time for the next eclipse.

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Eclipse by ipicgr via Pixabay