Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strange Intersection of Ideas and Events

This post was originally written back in 2011 at some point.  Not sure why I didn't publish it then.

Tonite there are four things that have intersected in my mind and heart in a strange way:

The battle in congress to get UI benefits extended for millions of out of work, and can't find any, Americans

The "It's worse than we thought" continuing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and on its coast

Eight Principles of Warm Yoga practice

And Jesus' mother, Mary and the difference between Faith and understanding.

There has been a lot of good that's come from humans wanting to know, understand and control things. There's also been a lot bad that has come from the same.

Our massive Unemployment and the unwillingness of too many in Congress to take real steps to end it through true jobs creation, or, at the very least, an unwillingness to continue to keep a safety net under people until the jobs miraculously create themselves, is one huge example.

The BP oil spill and life and soul killing slick is another.

Then there's the concept of faith and Mary who never understood her son Jesus and what he was about but was clearly: "willing to 'stand under' the mystery and mercy of God....the archetypal woman of faith-set in contradistinction to the woman of "knowing" that Eve wanted"(and most the rest of us seem to want) "to be....Mary, willing to outstare the darkness, however long it lasted. This means that she is drawing upon a deep source of inner light, " says Franciscan monk Father Richard Rohr in his most recent email meditation.

I don't think we're not supposed to stop thinking and trying to know and understand totally, but maybe a little humility and wonder might be appropriate? And maybe if we had a bit more humility and wonder we might be less inclined to live so much for the externals and so much under the illusion that we can really understand and control our environment. Because clearly we cant. We can't now in the 21st century and we couldn't back in Jesus time and we couldn't in all of the intervening years either.

We've created some pretty incredible things like wheels and cooking and indoor plumbing and convenient plastics and medicines and cars and airplanes AND we were unable or unwilling to foresee the consequences of these pretty incredible things and now have lots of big messes on our hands because of our extreme love or dependance or addiction to these things.

In all of these centuries we've never figured out how to stop trying to dominate one another or never grown out of the need to do so by "outstaring the darkness" thru "drawing upon a deep source of inner light"

Instead we just keep with the dominating, conquering and controlling. How's that working for us? Not well at all I don't think. Once again insanity defined.

So what do we do? How do we "outstare the darkness" instead of trying to control it all?

The Yogi masters had some, have some interesting ideas, I think, and below is a list of principals that seem at least worth a ponder. They are compliments of Sheri and her blog "Wild Women of the Universe":

1)We are either here or nowhere -- stressing the importance of staying present. ALL life is lived in the present moment. As Baptiste said in the book (pp. 32-43), "'Now here' or 'nowhere.' Interesting, isn't it, how the only difference, really, is a little extra space."
2)Be in the Now and you'll know How -- When you tune into your intuition and into your body, you will find the answers you need. As Baptiste said, "The answer to 'how' is always 'be in the now.'" The answers come from the inside-out, not the other way around.
3)Growth is the most important thing there is -- if you aren't growing you are stagnant, regressing...or dying. Growth is forward movement. It is a choice. Are you growing or dying?
4)Exceed yourself to find your exceeding self -- if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten. Fear is your greatest obstacle.
5)In order to heal, you need to feel -- it's important to face difficult things to get through them and begin the healing process.
6)Think less. Be more. -- Let go of your thoughts and just allow yourself to be. Stay mindful, but not focused on specific thoughts.
7)We are the sum total of our reactions -- Things happen in life and it is our reaction to those things that creates how we experience our lives. Our quest is to widen the gap between the stimulus and the response so we are not reacting to life, but responding to it instead.
8)Let go. Try Easy. -- if we allow our thoughts to crowd in (and possibly take over), we can create tension and anxiety. By letting go, we allow flow in our lives.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

6 Things the White House May Not Know About the Longterm Unemployed

I was reading through my emails last night and saw an email from the White House entitled

Six things you might not know about

The list below was my response because I think there are plenty of things they don't know about us!!

1) They're still looking for work, though mostly unsuccessfully. My husband applies for at least a job a day, even though he no longer receives UI benefits.

2) Many are losing their homes, having to sell or get rid of many, if not almost all, of their possessions and having to move in with friends and family, assuming they are fortunate enough to have those social resources and, of course, they have no health insurance. 3) Those who aren't to that point yet are burning thru their retirement benefits and most of them are also going without health insurance.

4) They're tired, demoralized and feel abandoned and forgotten by their President (for whom many, many of them voted) and their Senators and Representatives. Not so tired and demoralized, though, as to not also be angry, which they are!!

5) They are more than likely NOT going to be contributing to the President's re-election campaign, with either time or money, and may not even bother to vote, which will be a significant loss of energy and enthusiasm from President Obama's campaign.

6.) When they worked, they created and added value. on a daily basis, to their various career fields. Now they are a WASTED resource of this country's as they are a group of people who are rich with talent, work ethic, loyalty, creativity…

Gather them together in one place and they will be a force to be reckoned with. Our political leadership AND the privileged and elite of this country had better watch out!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Regardless of the circumstances of your life, you are the writer,director, and producer of your mental images."

Don't know who said this. I got it off of a new fb friend's page this evening. But it is actually kind of serendipitous that I saw it there as I've been really making an effort, especially over these past few days, to become more aware of the thoughts that run through my head and notice how that stream of consciousness commentary affects my mood and outlook on things.

Today, while doing dishes, an activity that really leaves the mind pretty free, I did some of this observing and noticed how challenging it was to interrupt the preponderance of negative thoughts that came to mind, noticed also how the gloominess of the day influenced my mood. What came to mind as well, during all of this, was the thought that exercise is a good way to elevate mood and, once again, I acknowledged that I need to develop that habit of daily exercise.
That was earlier in the day. Then this evening, while once again messing around with dishes in the kitchen, as I reflected on the above quote I thought some about these good habits that I want to develop of meditation/centering prayer and daily exercise and I wondered about just how small I might be able to start with them both, (one suggestion that I've heard for getting started being "start small") maybe 10 minute increments of each once a day, then twice a day, then increase the increments? Seems like a very reasonable and doable way to begin establishing some habits.

This is not the first time that I've thought of just that idea. But this evening is the first time that the internal voice that would discount such a notion didn't carry the weight that it customarily does. What made this time different?

I think that, this time, the above quote that I saw on this new fb friend's page reminded me of my choice in the matter. But how that quote, and the inspiration and affirmation it is providing, found its way to me truly is nothing short of wonderfully serendipitous. I saw this quote on the new friends page, someone who had reached out and sent a friend request to me, after I posted a very positive comment on a fb page that he is one of the editors of, that I'd "liked" earlier in the evening, that I just happened to see a post from on another fb, and longtime, friend's page earlier in the day, a friend who had posted on my fb page even earlier, who I hadn't seen much of on fb for sometime. Whew!! What a string of seemingly insignificant and unimportant events that, have turned out to feel to me like a bit of a lifeline at a time when I'm really needing one, when I'm needing to be reminded that our interconnectedness affects us positively as well as negatively, thankfully.

I just love it when something like that happens. Maybe there's the potential for such things happening more but it seems that it's the noticing of them that makes them significant and affirming to one's life. Truly positive reinforcement for paying attention and noticing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My husband is a "99er" one of those people who's been unemployed for more than 99 weeks and so is no longer able to recieve benefits. I'm underemployed. We've both been looking for full-time employment since he lost his job over two years ago.

On facebook there are lots of members who are 99ers who are trying to support each other during these incredibly difficult times and they've formed a number of different "99er" groups. I joined one of the groups, "99ers United", and the administrator for that group is very active constantly posting "99er" related news links. Needless to say his commentary on these links can tend towards the cynical, even bitter, as do those of many who comment on the stories. One day I'd just grown tired of the bitterness and the depressing nature of all of the stories he'd been posting and declared that I was tired of the "99ers United" page because I didn't find the contents of the page uplifting or encouraging. I stated that I was tired of the bitterness and was "unliking" the page.

Well, I sure got some comments in response. A couple comments, one from one of my friends, were supportive of what I'd said; one was more peacemaking in its nature and two of the comments were from people who really let me have it.

They let me know in no uncertain terms that all the "99ers" had a right to their anger and bitterness. I felt stung and blamed for being honest about my own feelings. But they both expressed themselves and the plight of the "99ers" so eloquently and in such a manner as to really touch me and cause me to feel sorry for the accusing tone of my post. In a sense I was blaming the victims for the anger, bitterness and despair that was and is completely understandable. Many of these people, including the two women who responded angrily to me, had long since lost their homes to foreclosure. One of the women, to whom I've since, ironically, become fb friends, went from having a $50,000 a year job and her own home, to living in an apartment and working for a time in temp positions which dried up over time, to now living with her mother and doing freelance content writing jobs for websites. People have lost their homes, used up savings and retirement benefits, sold possessions all just to get by. There are many who are now homeless.

Needless to say these kinds of stories scare the crap out of me, for myself and my family. We, thankfully, are not to that point, yet. We still have resources to exhaust, retirement benefits to cash in and utilize and family that I'm certain would take us in and provide us shelter if need be. But it scares and angers me that we could get to that point.

Then I had an epiphany. I feel that most people who have jobs do not want to see or hear or in any way be reminded of the millions who are out of work and can't find work or can't find work that pays them anything near what they need to keep them at a level of lifestyle even close to where they used to be. They don't want to see us, because they know, someplace inside themselves, that they could become one of us. And I realized that I, like them, don't want to be reminded of the many who are worse off than my family is, homes lost, possessions sold, because I an my family could end up there as well.

How could I be angry at those fortunate enough to have gainful employment, if I myself am unwilling to see and stay connected to, those who are worse off than my family and I are. So I've rejoined "99ers United". I don't need to read every post from them that appears on my fb page. But I do need to stay connected to these folks and not turn away from their reality, especially if I expect others, who are employed and doing ok, to not turn away from mine.

It's fear that makes us turn away or stick our heads in the sand and that fear is understandable. But we have to somehow find some way to channel that fear and the anger and bitterness into a constructive response to this situation. I really think our recovery from this recession and maybe our survival as a country depends on it.

How we do that though, remains to be seen. Ideas anyone?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

One of my life's paradoxes, realized.

Sadly, my husband and I are NOT compatible. We dated on and off for about 6 years from the time I was 20 years to almost 26 years of age. We parted ways for two main reasons, the truest one, I think, being that we really weren't compatible.

About ten years later, with some contact during the interim years, we found one another again, reunited and eventually made plans to marry. At this time we were both in our late 30s and neither of us had married or had children during our time apart. I think what was really at work in our coming back together was a combination of ticking biological clocks and a mutual desire for a port in the storm of life. I'm not sure what he told himself, but I told myself that we'd both grown and changed and it seemed that maybe the time was right for us.

About a year later, despite the appearance to me of several red flags, we married. Within three months I was pregnant and ten days before our first anniversary our dear daughter was born. Now, 12 years and some months since her birth, we are together solely for the benefit of our daughter. This has been so for the majority of her life but somehow we are managing this without a lot of conflict. Instead there is great distance in our marriage as my husband and I live our lives pretty separately but do "come together" for our daughter. For now, for reasons of mainly a financial nature, brought about by this "great recession", that this is how it needs to be. I feel strongly, though, especially as she gets older, that my daughter needs to see her mother as someone who takes care of and is faithful to the best interests of, not only her child, but herself. I'm getting more and more clear that staying in this marriage is doing neither for myself but, again, this is how it must be for now.

So, although I know in my deepest being that marrying my husband was far from the best choice I've ever made, it is also, paradoxically, one of the best choices I've ever made. From that choice has come our dear daughter who seems to have inherited some of the best and worst from her parents, is clearly growing into her own person, and is easily the result of the best work I've ever done in my life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Journey of Losses......

First they lost their jobs, which included losing their healthcare. Not everyone could afford Cobra.

Then next, if they were fortunate enough to have it in the first place, they lost, little by little, or in big chunks, their savings for retirement, for their kids college, for a car that wasn't 13 years old, as they struggled to make up the difference between what their Unemployment Insurance benefits paid and what they needed to pay their bills...

And, while they were looking for work, and losing their cushion, assuming they even had one, they started to lose their self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect...but they tried not to lose hope, as they listened to people in the media, down the street, around the corner and in Washington D.C., claim that they were lazy and weren't trying hard enough. They tried not to lose hope because maybe all those folks were right, and maybe if they just tried harder or tried a different approach, maybe they'd be the one out of 50 applicants to get that job.....

Then, after weeks and weeks and months and months and then a year and a year and a half and then 99 weeks (if they were lucky to get them for that long) then they lost their Unemployment Insurance benefits and they were left with nothing at all, or they were left with what was left of their retirement, or kids college fund and forget any money to celebrate the holidays with their children.

Next when they were finally lucky enough to get even a minimum wage job, they came face to face with the beginning of the end of their identity as a home owner, as they were forced to put their home on the market because minimum wage was just not enough to pay their mortgage.

Then, when their house wouldn't sell because the housing market still was under water, they lost their home to foreclosure, and all the money they'd put into it. They lost it all, including the great credit rating they'd had for years, and any hope of ever owning their own home again. if they were older, and if they were younger, at least for a very long time.

If they'd been lucky enough to find that minimum wage job or were able to qualify for, gasp, welfare, they found someplace to live that was smaller and would never be theirs but was safe and warm nonetheless. Or they were offered shelter or money by relatives or friends...if they were lucky.

If they weren't lucky enough, they lost safe shelter and found themselves living in a tent, or abandoned building, or car or..... outside, which would make finding a job that much harder let alone finding a job.

And somewhere along the way, maybe earlier, maybe later in this journey of loss and humiliation, they lost respect for their leaders and their country, which they used to think was the greatest country in the world, but which they now sadly knew to be anything but true...

What I want to know Dear Senators and Representatives is: How is extending UI Benefits and truly investing in programs that will put people back to work, especially when every penny of unemployment benefits goes back into the economy pretty much immediately, the WRONG things to do and renewing tax cuts, particularly for the wealthiest in this country the RIGHT thing to do? I don't understand it and I figure, since this is how you are voting, that you must understand it. So, please, Honorable Senators and Representatives, our elected public servants, please explain it to me. Because this lifelong citizen of the US, who has a college degree and whose husband does as well, but both of whom CANNOT find reasonable employment, wants to understand you're reasoning. We'd like to understand....and I'm sure we're not the only ones.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bring Kyron Home!!

Please post this notice on your blogs.

He has been missing for over two weeks and his family desperately wants him back home where he belongs. Please, also, keep this child in your good thoughts and prayers.