I have always wanted to live up to this song…..
(This post is dedicated to my beloved Warriors for Justice, who, of course, went down to Seattle to join in an important protest, or supported those who went by staying in contact all day. Many of the things in this post came from them, even during the chaos of the day.)
Unusual for me to be speaking out like this…I tend to steer clear of politics on my Blog (and actually in my life) but I am a 60’s Flower Child-Peacenik, currently living in the Seattle area so the last two nights of protesting the horrific death of George Floyd, have been rough.
Then seeing that too familiar evolution, from protesting into rioting, well, it all has me flashing back to my youth.
Even back then, during countess Vietnam war protests, and passionate civil rights work in the deep South, I rarely approached things politically. Instead, these were Spiritual events in my life.
I find the same is true for me now. Earlier in the week, when I heard the awful news story about George Floyd, the content of the video they showed, on TV and online, shocked and dismayed me. Somehow I selfishly related most closely to this one woman on the sidelines, screaming repeatedly, while she had to see that policeman commit that murder. Her panicked and desperate plea, rising above the crowd noise, was something like “He’s trying to talk to you. He’s trying to tell you something.”
I feel like I have been that woman my whole adult life…just trying to advocate…as loudly and as effectively as I possibly can. In a way, I’ve done it for my living. It is my life’s work.
Probably more than any other teacher, I have tried to live the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so this morning, I am spiritually crumpled…just crushed to have to see where we are right now, as a people. So much tragic, senseless, horrendous violence…
I don’t however believe, like some, that all the work we all did back in the 1960’s was a waste, or was not successful. As the Dalai Lama says, “If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant”.
I woke up this morning wondering if it was time to get out the poster board and paints, and find those old marching shoes? Or if it was time to think about how to pass on this baton I have held onto, mostly fiercely, for my whole adult life.
I’m still not sure but here’s how I am deciding.
I pay very close attention to things that cross my path, no matter their form. If something is in my face, I believe I can learn from it. A song, a dream, a comment from a friend, an event, the squirrel on the bird feeder…again…anything can carry an important message. So when I woke up this morning with the movie (and book) Absolute Power, by David Baldacci, it stopped me…though it took some work to get at why. If you don’t know the story (spoiler alert) it is about who actually has absolute power over whom? The US President, over everyone? A black mailer over the President? Or a daughter over her father.
Huh? Yeah, that’s what I said too. What does this have to do with right now? What the heck is the lesson here?
But then I remembered my experience of last night.
Here’s how it went for me.
I am in our extremely remote Mountain Retreat, 300 miles from our home which is outside Seattle. I am alone here because James is jamming with the guys tonight, some 50 minutes away from here. I know there are protests happening back in Seattle because several wonderful friends (the previously mentioned Warriors) are texting from the rally in downtown. I turn on the TV (we only get one live channel over here) to do my once-a-day check in on the virus, but am instead greeted with Breaking News interrupting even the regular news programming. Between the TV and my friends texting and sending live videos from Seattle, I now see the shit is hitting the fan all over the country. This is upsetting, and I no longer care about the stupid virus at all. Then, interrupting the “Breaking News”, which has superseded the regular news, comes an Emergency Broadcast System Weather Warning, “crawling” across my screen, voice drowning out the news caster’s. I suddenly care a lot less about tear gas, rubber bullets and shots fired 292 miles away. I now have to gather up the cats, and prepare the house and cars for a huge thunder storm with 70 mile an hour winds, hail the size baseballs, oh, and probable TORNADOES, headed my way in a way shorter amount of time than it would take James to get home!
So the shift for me, of absolute power, went from one form of life and death, that is most likely to be present for the coming years, Covid 19 (unless we want to try drinking Lysol)
…to another, that will undoubtedly last at least until the election (“looting will lead to shooting” threatens our president?? “Our most vicious dogs will be sicced on protesters???”)
…and then finally, shifting once again to the most urgent absolute power of all, Mother Nature.
No contest! Mother Nature (some might even call her God) wins hands down, every time. She’s just plain bigger and louder!
So here’s what I’ve decided; I’m in too many high risk health categories to protest in a crowd these days, masks or not. I can’t even walk far enough to get in a good march but I am still with it enough to continue my spiritual journey. And I can still write my thoughts and beliefs and still look for things to inspire those younger (and healthier) than me.
I can pass on the baton but still wear this mantle for a while longer.
Here is some inspiration, and even ammunition, for the current battle for Power in our country.
Please listen and watch and do let me know if it is useful. I so want to be contributing!!
And an older, Jackson Browne, get-off-my-butt to fight song, that is still frighteningly true!!
All of our protesting in the 1960’s may not have made visible, permanent changes, that we get to actually see “in our lifetime”, but I would not trade a single minute of the deep, passion and purpose-filled, spiritual life I have been blessed to live.
And, with that wreath of flowers in my hair, I still believe we will find our way…
PS Two more things about Seattle…1) you know you are there when the Police Force is riding their bikes, decked out in their shorts, and RIOT GEAR, and 2) the day after a riot you see this:
To find the Spirit Lifter in this post may require some work.
Dig deep. You’ll see it.
Being falsely accused of something has been one of the most painful experiences of my entire life. Countless little accusations, misunderstandings that were never quite cleared up.
But there were a couple of huge ones, life changing ones that, had I not heeded my father’s early teaching about having the ability to choose how I look at things, well, those condemnations would have been the end of me.
And somewhere along the line in my 72 years, I realized there is always, ALWAYS something beautiful to balance out, or even counter-act, life’s repeated icky, dark, mystifying tragedies.
Of course, retrospect is my best friend, and when I search for light and fail to find it, if I can just wait long enough, it will eventually show up…often reminding me that it was there all along.
We are all in the middle of the dark right now, but in small, seemingly insignificant ways, if we keep our senses open and awake, we can gather up pieces of light every single day. These discoveries have a cumulative effect, and can eventually outweigh the heaviness of these dark days.
Often, it is not until later that we can see the obvious gifts we have received, in spite of the catastrophe or heartbreak. And sometimes they are miracles that simply could not have happened without that dark time.
I wrote this on my friend Karuna’s comment section this morning.
I just watched and can’t stop crying. Here’s a big thank you, Karuna. I have been teary all morning, because of what’s happening in Minnesota and across the country, after George Floyd was killed. This incident was highlighted for me, following a powerful connection just last week with Milton Grimes, Rodney King’s attorney. And then 2 nights ago, we just happened to watch Rocket Man…
I had been searching desperately for other “perspectives” to choose from today and then I see your post. Thank you so much!
If it’s OK with you, I’m going to write about this today on my blog.
Worth the whole watch…
I can’t light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I’m growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life
It’s much too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light
Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me
I can’t find
Oh, the right romantic line
But see me once and see the way feel
Don’t discard me baby don’t
Just because you think I mean you harm
Just because you think I mean you harm, oh
But these cuts I have, cuts I have
They need love
They need love, they need love to help them heal
Oh, don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
Cause’ losing everything is like the sun going down on me
Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I that see, yeah
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free baby, oh
‘Cause’ losing everything is like the sun going down on me
I’ve been kinda distracted by life lately…nothing catastrophic or even Virus related, just regular life. Granted, it has been New Normal life stuff but it was a nice break from thinking about the reality that I have only left my home twice since March 6th, and both of those times were hit and run medical trips…once for the parking lot, giant-cutip-up-the-nose, Covid 19 test on March 26th (false alarm..cleaning products overdose) and once last week for a quick blood test.
I haven’t been as focused on finding Spirit Lifters like before. Time to get back to that
One of my favorites is still Some Good News from John Krasinski, and episode 5 is no exception. I LOVED this one and sent it out to all my “Foodie” friends.
Then I went to another favorite place.
This weekly magazine was a wonderful resource anyway and they have really been great during the pandemic. This week’s articles are so supportive and helpful, especially the one on finding purpose and connection during this time. A great, inspiring read!
There are still so many local stories happening that are inspirational, like this one.
I was reminded of it while sitting outside yesterday, enjoying the sun, and these flew right over me, amazingly low in the sky!!
And personally, I have so many things to be grateful for in my life every day…no, not the whole “daily gratitude can change your life..blah, blah, blah…” But seriously wonderful things that I take for granted...until I remember not to.
I am so blessed to be able to get out and walk in Nature (granted, suburban Nature). I see miracles every single day!
And see the red ones on the left above? One of them is growing right out of what’s left of an old Madrona!
When I leave my own, rustic, and mostly unattended to yard to walk up my street, I find treasures all along the way.
I feel so badly that my best friends (both athletes), who live in an apartment in Madrid, are unable to get out and go these days. They were just telling us yesterday, all their daily routines are completely stalled…no outdoor exercise allowed, so they run up and down the stairs in their old apartment building. None of the places they sit and write every day (Cafe’s, restaurants, the Plaza) are open and the cops come and send them home if they are caught outside without a very specific purpose. Oh, and the worst for them, they can’t walk together, even to the little market for food…no hand holding, nothing.
Apparently, I am more easily entertained than most. It is a highlight for me to walk out my door to see what profound or coded or artistic message the local slug population has left me each day.
(Maybe you’d have to live in the Seattle area to understand this one…🤣)
And I know how absolutely lucky I am to have a Master Gardener living basically right in my back yard. The Rhubarb is already huge so I knew Mimi would start creating in the kitchen!
I was a lucky recipient!!!
And if that’s not enough to lift my spirits, there is always one or two of the reliable, dependable furry family members!
Let me know how your spirits are in the Comment Section!!
This is the last of a four part series on lessons revisited and solidified during the pandemic.
The first 3 posts on Scarcity, Three Human Hungers and Structuring Time, are issues that for me, have definitely floated to the surface during my confinement.
And here is the fourth.
I started seriously considering the possibility of the existence of Dual Realities way back in the 1980’s. I found my Psychotherapy practice filled with those who were diagnosed as “Borderline Personality Disorder”, an unfortunate label. I mostly didn’t use the suggested DSM whatever-number-it-was back then. I didn’t want to stick my clients with a reputation that might limit them in some way. So when I got a referral called Borderline, I started switching it to Borderline Personality Organization. I also encouraged my therapy community, especially my trainees, to adopt this different perspective.
I bring this up because the clients with this “diagnosis” were most therapists’ worst nightmare. No one wanted to work with them back then, and tried to limit their practices to one Borderline at a time. No surprise. A person whose personality worked that way, could frustrate the most experienced of practitioners! A “Borderline” tended to be quick, smart, combative, testing, and successful at what they do (healthy or not). Typically, they were extremely creative…but mostly at proving their own strongly held mistaken belief that they were unlovable, and that you too, would eventually abandon them….another thing they were successful at…getting a therapist to give up on them.
I never felt that way. I absolutely loved the ingenious ways they could get all of us therapists to fight over them, to disagree about them, to “split” over them. It reminded me of me and my sisters growing up.
Talk about immersing one’s self all the way into a pre-decided reality…all or nothing, black and white, no gray. Brilliant. And a lot of therapists bought right into the reality, compelled to choose a side, or a singular definition of right or wrong.
(imagine a photo of the yin/yang thingy here)
But see, I was raised by my Dad, a brilliant, but covert, Master Teacher, who from day one, taught me that one thing, two things, even three could be completely true at the very same time.
He had three daughters and out of necessity I suppose, quietly negotiated, and mediated, and helped us see things from each others’ perspectives.
It may have been easiest for me though. Not because I was his oldest, but because, though he was my Dad, he was not my father. (He married my mother when I was two-ish.) It took me until well into adolescence to straighten out that conflicting statement.
“You’re my Dad but you’re not my dad? Huh??”
I had lived the proof throughout childhood, that two seemingly opposing things could both be true. I had enough experience with it in other parts of my life, that when I started getting calls from frantic therapists, throwing up their hands wanting to refer a Borderline (remember, labeled with affection by me), that’s what I set out to teach my new clients…exactly what my Dad had taught me…
“You’re Mother left you. AND Your Mother loved you.”
The real anchoring for me of the concept of Dual Realities came right after 9-11-2001.
Immediately following the attacks, in my search for understanding I stumbled across a PBS Special. The program was interviewing religious leaders, teachers and philosophers from all over the world who, in my opinion, were valiantly trying to prevent the next world war…trying to get us to consider the event from other perspectives.
One of my very first Blog posts was about this experience. https://chosenperspectives.com/2015/11/19/absolutely-nothing-is-absolute/
Anyway, what grew for me out of those experiences was an idea…my version of a primary theory, like my mentor’s all-encompassing idea about Scarcity forty years ago.
What if there really is only one single task for every human being to accomplish during their time on the planet? I now believe there is.
We need to learn how to be separate and connected at the very same time.
Talk about conflicting states, or dual realities! How can both of those be true simultaneously?
This is not new. We have each been dealing with this exact issue since our very conception. Think about it…even as we were growing our separate little bodies inside our mother’s womb, we cannot, and will not, ever be any more connected to another human being than that!
It may also be the oldest existential discussion of all. We are whole entities, completely unique, and separate from all others. No one can ever fully be in our shoes, and on our death beds, we will all take that final breath completely alone.
But at the same time, we are completely connected to everyone else. (Hey, all those people at Woodstock would tell you they were ONE with each other!)
We are certainly connected as a species, and some would say we are linked, attached, and related to ALL living things on the planet.
Well, as if we needed a reminder of these facts, in case we needed to learn this lesson experientially, along comes Covid 19, throwing us all into the ongoing, daily circumstance of being separate and connected at the same time.
We have had to literally separate ourselves, to socially distance, to hunker down and isolate in order to slow down or stop this virus.
But what is also true is that we are all in this together, finding creative methods for proving and anchoring our connections, all while frantically searching for the way to save our entire species.
In every single moment of our lives, based on our individual and collective stories, we are choosing a perspective, a way of seeing, defining or experiencing the world.
I never thought I would be quoting one of Mr. Trump’s staff, but his Dr. Birx said the following, actually as I was writing this:
“We need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent,”
And an even more surprising resource for me to share is about the video made by former President Bush:
In a three-minute video shared on Twitter on Saturday, Bush urged Americans to remember “how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat.”
“In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of god,” Bush said. “We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”
What the virus is teaching us, shoving in our faces really, is that we have to find a perspective that includes both being separate and connected at the very same time….
And we have to find it soon.
As always, I’d love comments. Helps me feel connected even if you disagree with me…
This post is a departure from my recent attempts to be uplifting and entertaining. A month and a half into being sequestered, there are still sweet stories to be found everywhere, but we are learning hard lessons too.
At least, I am. Some lessons are mind-blowing, and some are embarrassingly simple!
I have been semi-retired since last summer, so I was already reviewing my life’s work before the virus hit, trapping me in this endless solitude. But being faced with mortality daily, in such an urgent and graphic way, I find myself in hyper-drive examining my 40-plus years of professional life.
I started my practice as a Psychotherapist through both a very direct and also an unusual route! Direct because I was “called” to do this work at Church Camp in the 4th grade and have never once veered off that course.
But things also evolved in a round-a-bout way, starting my practice in the back of my Conversion Van, in the parking lot of where I was still waitressing, while finishing school. (A long, fun story for another day…)
During these last 45 days of isolation, quarantine, sheltering at home, etc., I have had many hours to contemplate the most important learnings of my life so far.
Here is what has risen to the top of an endless list.
I have four concepts, tenets, or theories that are the core of my therapeutic and life philosophies. I try, by the way, to have those be the same thing…practicing what I preach, etc. I know where some of these originated, but they have been with me so long now, I have no idea how much I have changed them in the process of making them my own.
And some I thought up by myself…
It seems like a perfect time to write about (and share) these four models. I really want folks to read these, and comment, so I am putting them in four separate posts.
I do hope you will indulge me in this summary of my life’s work. And as always, I would love your comments and/or questions.
In this first post, I want to address the concept most obvious to me during these Covid 19 days….Scarcity.
I had a wonderful Teacher/Mentor/Adopted Mom for 30 plus years. Elaine Childs Gowell was an amazing woman, way ahead of her time. An ARNP, and public health nurse, with a PhD in Anthropology. She grew up travelling with her family on various religious missions in Africa. She lived in New Orleans, practicing as a Public Health nurse, and working for Civil Rights. Then she moved to Seattle where she became a well-loved professor in the Nursing School at the University of Washington, while she started a private practice in Psychotherapy. She also studied Shamanism all over the world, and eventually became one herself…a very loudly outspoken spiritual leader respected by thousands.
Her most steadfast belief was that absolutely every issue, personally and globally, was caused by Scarcity…. literal or imagined.
Nothing, not one thing, can bring up people’s emotions and unfinished personal-growth issues faster than the belief that there is not enough of something!
Elaine moved on to her longed for “light” almost 13 years ago now, but she may as well be alive because I can hear her unapologetic proclamations daily, and loudly, during this pandemic. Pointing out to all the blatant proof that her theory was correct.
When all the factories and businesses shut down and those skies started clearing over Wuhan, I could just hear Elaine’s irreverent “Duh”.
She could tell you in a minute, what your personal/psychological scarcity issues were-whether perceived or literal…not enough time, not enough structure, or stimulation, or recognition or love!
At one point, back in the 1990’s, we even created an amazing 5-day therapeutic retreat called Experiencing Enough. It was designed to provide, for all who participated, the experiential, literal and symbolic healing effect of truly having enough. Plenty of time and attention and food and staff (and support for the staff) and sleep and fresh air and exercise and above all, love!! It went on twice a year for a long time. So healing for so many.
And Elaine could trace every single world problem back to a belief, imagined or true, about something of which there was not enough. Power, money, and natural resources all at the top of the list. (There are certainly some world leaders that could have benefited from attending Experiencing Enough!!)
Long before Oprah started talking about our life’s repeated lessons, Elaine was preaching about how our scarcity issues were going to bring us down as a species if we didn’t learn the lessons…and fast….lessons that first tapped us on the shoulder, and eventually smacking us upside the head with a two by four.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I decided I needed to have a “talk” with her.
She was pissed! After she got finished with her “I told you so” tirade, she quietly said, “I guess we’re finding out what comes after that two by four upside the head…”
Elaine was a Master of the Big Picture. She could see it all, the whole layout of the universe. And she knew there was enough…of everything…and for everyone! Even in her passing (she had a stroke), she hung around in her coma for way longer than her Doctors predicted possible, even “surfacing” repeatedly to connect with the current visitor to her home bedside….but the rest of us were not at all surprised. We knew why.
She was making sure all the people, who were coming from all over to pay their respects, to say their good-byes, had more than enough time….
I think my specialty is the Little Pieces, I can see minute details others miss, so I have always chosen to focus my energy, for myself and for those I work for, on the small blessings, the individual stories, and the next steps to be taken each and every day.
My goal? To learn, and live, and to show that Elaine was right. It’s always about Scarcity.
There may not be enough toilet paper or gloves or masks, but there is certainly enough beauty!!!
Thank you for reading…..and forgive me for not knowing how to do a “screen shot”. 😊
It may be difficult these days to think about being creative, but I’m telling you right now, it is absolutely your best defense against the situational depression that is starting to creep in for many, many lonely people, stuck at home.
My dear friend Brenda has been making these amazing pendants lately…before the Virus arrived. I had given her a bunch of broken bits and pieces of old jewelry to use in her pendants and she surprised me by making me this one. She hadn’t known that the tiny blue and silver dangle she used on mine had actually came from a necklace my Dad bought me on a trip to Mexico when I was about 9 years old. I LOVED that necklace from my Daddy. I wore it well into adulthood.
When the Virus hit, Brenda got inspired and made this beauty!
It’s big enough to fill both hands!!! I
t’s gorgeous, and one has to look again and again to see all it’s beautiful messages
Here’s what she wrote:
This is my latest creation. I’m calling it; Corona Heart 2020
During this very challenging time, I’ve had some really hard days, and some easier ones. There’s been fear, anxiety, shock, sadness and death, but there has also been compassion and caring for one another in new ways, people reaching out and helping, singing, healing, joy and even beauty. It’s such a mixture during this potent time. I wanted to create a piece that reflected all of that.
Heart – I chose the heart to represent love, kindness and compassion. The heart is inclusive, caring, understanding, forgiving, strong and knowing. It can hold great pain and great love.
Yin/Yang – I’ve always loved the yin/yang symbol – a symbol of wholeness. Reminding us that life includes it all – light and dark, life and death, joy and pain. The circle is divided into black and white, but not straight down the middle. They are nestled together, holding one another; with a point of light in the dark, and a point of dark within the light – integrated and whole. Life!
Pink – The color pink represents compassion and caring, and during this incredibly difficult time, it’s come to honor the health care works and first responders and all the people who are risking their lives so that the world can still function.
We’re all in this together, and love is what heals. Let your heart shine!\
So your job now is to lift your own spirits and go create something!
Then share it with the rest of us.