The Running Manifesto

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Her mind is restless.

She is living with a sense of foreboding that she finds difficult to escape.

Running:

the welcome release valve,

the essential respite,

the place to gather thoughts and make sense of things.

Running gives a woman positive bodily integrity.

The sheer act tells the story of how a woman won’t be controlled

by restrictive laws or narrow thinking

that seeks to put her in her “place”

or shames her into choices

that someone else is making for her and her life.

She controls the pace because it is her race to run.

So why  run?

Run to stay empowered.

The goals?

To remain a free and self-determined woman.

And what is she training for?

Her Life

 

Day 14: This poem has pieces from a post of mine “Freedom of Movement” that I wrote on November 6, 2015- the year before election night. I must have had a sense that changes were approaching. In reality, they were already underway; the widgets were set in place in the 1980’s. 2016 was the beginning of the overt onslaught.

 

Never Victim, Servant, Or Beggar

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I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet ~ Ghandi

I can choose to walk like a wounded warrior,

allowing the scars of old battles to reopen and fester.

I can choose to act like a servant,

the invisible maid that cleans your messes,

only known to you when I leave behind my dirty rags.

I can choose to be a supplicant

the one that begs to be heard,

while you stand over me

the master of rules and the keeper of keys

But I won’t be a victim, a servant or a beggar.

I will choose to run unscathed

by the arrows that attempt to slay me.

I will choose to be the mistress,

a visible force that refuses to feign a lowly existence.

I will choose to be my own sovereign nation;

one who raises her voice, stands up and never kneels.

 

Day 11: This is for anyone who is or has been in a situation or position where another or others treat you as their inferior.

My Body, My Self

-FASHION STYLIST & CREATIVE DIRECTOR-

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“Embedded in the American Constitution was the right to privacy. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well- meaning but without understanding.”  ~ Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

What is women’s fundamental freedom?

PRIVACY

Our stories are personal and parallel

Reproductive and Sexual

It is my mother’s in 1962: Age 24

Whose kidney disease left her unable to bear more children

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER

When abortion was illegal

No option for a tubal ligation

Instead she was placed on medication

THE PILL

It is my mother’s in 1981: Age 43

A missed period and a pregnancy scare

When abortion was legal

An inevitable decision she would have had to make if the results had been positive

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER IF SHE DIDN’T

It is mine in 1998: Age 37

  Mother of two beautiful boys

Abortion is legal

BUT

Loud, violent, deadly protests

Fierce and frightening gauntlets

form to block entrances to care

I fear a failure of birth control

An accidental pregnancy

I want a permanent procedure

The experience felt like a Prohibition speakeasy:

sordid and secretive,

a place of secret codes and knocks.

Why is it that we vainly celebrate,

freely flaunt,

and strongly sanctify,

men’s sexual freedom and prowess

without risk of consequences?

They have unconstrained access to

inexpensive condoms,

erectile dysfunction medications,

and vasectomies.

 While women’s vaginas and uteruses

are held under lock and key

by legislative laymen

intent on keeping women either virtuous or vilified.

WE WANT A SENSE OF OUR OWN AGENCY!

A woman’s right to privacy begins and ends with her body.

A woman’s body is her house.

She has a right to stand her ground

against all unwanted intruders

whose sole aim is to take away

her freedom, safety and privacy.

 

Day 9: Much of this poem has been lifted from a speech I gave before the state Constitutional Review Commission last spring. There had been an attempt by the Religious Right to amend the right to privacy.  All State Supreme Court cases involving abortion had hinged on this fundamental right. Thankfully,  the  Commission decided not to take up their attempt at an amendment. However, this legislative session and new governor are bent on restricting access to care for all women. As I write this, bus loads of advocates have driven to the state capital to lobby against proposed legislation related to further restrictions. Interestingly, the quote from Justice Brandeis was from a case about Prohibition!

Be Wary

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Be wary of rulers who subscribe to a tribe

Who believe an enemy is necessary to survive

Who lead with judgement and fear

instead of acceptance and love

Who use propositional truths as conversations

dominated by a privileged few

(men)

Who believe their perspective is most objective

on the true nature of things

Their profession is OPPRESSION

CONTEMPT and EXPLOITATION

They preside and decide the Deity you will abide

The call for authenticity is a sacred path to the common good

Highway to a Higher Self

The Kingdom Within- not Without

Neither Hell nor Heaven

    But only

The Universal Truth

(Can You Tell?)

 of what it means

to be Human

 

Day 2: Started before dawn, written during breaks at work, finalized just now. A collection of  my own thoughts, quotes from books I was reading,and snippets from podcasts, TED Talks, and NPR that I jotted down in my writer’s notebook.

Why Write?

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        Since moving to a new state 3 and 1/2 years ago, I have found it difficult to tap into my creative outlet on a regular basis.  Lately, I have wondered why- given that my life is filled with less responsibilities and a bit more time in which to write. I have moved away from the near daily reminders of my past into a space where I can build a whole new life for myself. Perhaps my expectations were too great. Reality has a way of biting into those beliefs, forcing a change to my mindset. So, what’s changed? A close examination bears the following: my job as a teacher pulls and drains at the energy required for such a task beyond the work day.  Each year my school community has challenged me with a new class to teach. The trust placed in me to create (yes!) another new course with its accompanying curriculum is both an honor and a burden, given the high expectations (there’s that word again!) that I place upon myself. I wouldn’t have it any other way, either.  When I moved here, it was important for me to cultivate a community-not necessarily replicate the one I left but it needed to come close. My work environment fits the bill.  It is a place of love and support and laughter as well as being intellectually stimulating.  And herein lies another obstacle to my creativity-a draining commute! I find the endless traffic lights and the strip mall landscape and multi-lane roads unbearable. The lack of investment in modern and efficient public transportation here borders on the ridiculous (no, it is ridiculous!).  There is no time of day when traffic is not heavy.  Local and state leaders truly have not had (and I would argue still do not have) the gumption and vision to move forward in this area. The only exception may be the desire to build highways in rural areas, which is nothing but a blatant attempt to further develop an already over developed fragile ecosystem whose drinking water problems may very well be the death of us. And given the fact that one has to travel over large bodies of water in order to get from point A to point B-not only to get to work or other destinations, but to also evacuate-you would think that this would be taken into account. But I live in a heads- in- sand-state; so again, I have lowered my expectations of things changing anytime soon. For now I have found a route home that is tolerable and calming for the most part.

 After a day spent teaching and a drive spent being grateful for not getting into an accident, all I can muster is a yoga workout and then meditation on my mat! Dinner, a bit of wine and a good British murder mystery is how I usually end my day.

Still, there are two things I truly fear most about hitting the keyboards these days. First, that it will be an endless lament about how much I miss my four season home state and the nearby mountains. If I couldn’t get to a higher altitude, I had the woods and hills. THE QUIET. Florence Williams reveals her own writing challenges in her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative.  In her introduction, she writes of her family’s move from the majestic mountains of Colorado to the “Anti-Arcadia that is our nation’s capital.” She states: “I yearned for the mountains. I felt disoriented, overwhelmed, depressed.” (p.8)  After reading that bit, I realized that I was not alone; my emotions were validated.  And while I cannot escape the din more regularly, I find myself seeking out the trails in a nearby park. If I turn up my headphones just enough, I can almost not hear the sounds of the sirens that seem to drone on several times within a half-day’s span. Moreover, I head north as much as possible ( five times in 2018!). My soul is fed by time spent with the boys and my closest friends-not to mention mountain hikes and walks in the woods!

     My other fear is that I will devote most of this blog’s posts to the current political climate in our country. When I first started the site nearly 7 years ago, I wanted a space where I could explore and grow my writing as well as offer a forum of hope for anyone who was experiencing an abusive relationship. I wanted to write about my new life in order to convey a message of  triumph and joy and profound appreciation for resisting and overcoming personal tyranny. Well, that is done! But what about the oppression of these past two years? What about the culmination of the hard right turn this country began taking in 1980?  I cannot not write about it.  Writing is an act of resistance that is just as affective as the activist work that I have participated in since November of 2016. Writing clears my mind. Writing raises my voice. Writing sends a message of resistance to the abusive and repressive power structures that seek to quiet us. Writing raises the vibration and gives us energy and hope. So write I will.

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What Kind of Woman?

 

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You’re not one of those women, are you?

A question posed thirty-one years ago

A poster hung above my office desk

Hues of red, gold and blue

Women of the World Unite!

The question surprised me-

It was 1986 after all!

I answered with a question

What kind of woman?

His discomfort and unease exposed

He stumbled

Mumbled a response

To him

Women were sexual objects

Conquests to be won

Goods to be sold

Tasted

Then discarded

A future concubine for his progeny

The refrain is sung again in the larger houses of white men

who wield swords of archaic laws

and regressive religious beliefs

To them we are nothing but a body

A body to be controlled

Control the body

Control the woman

Sell the body

Strip the body

Sacrifice the body

What kind of woman then?

Day 21. 1 day late. I started this yesterday but it needed the gift of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking Heaven

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I lie on my mat and ponder the wickedness in this world

Softly chanting mantras

Calling for light in dark corners

  Offering praise for the ones showing us the way

 I meditate

Cleaning the slate of my overworked and overwrought thoughts

I move my body

Stretching muscles

Mending tissues

Restoring cells

Experiencing joy in the work

Content that heaven exists

in the garden planted,

the mountains climbed,

the  paths run

and

the moments magnified by love

Day 20. Namaste