Writing Spaces

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                   Image courtesy of: Video Blocks

The creative forces inside of me are driven by places and spaces which allow for both an unburdening of stresses and strains-a voiding of negative energies and blockages if you will- and a transformation, an expansion of all my thoughts and ideas into written form where I can express my best self. For me, the craft of writing has become a means by which I have shared parts of my life’s stories in the hopes of helping others as well as myself heal from past pain and challenges. It is through writing that I discovered the poet inside myself. It has also been a channel for venting my frustration at the current state of our nation and world-something that I never expected to write about in a public sphere.

Yet, every time I think of sitting down to write another post, I am stumped. I avoid. I complain. I yearn.  When I think of writing, I visual the small nook, that small corner with its long narrow table top desk that held the laptop in the small Craftsman farmhouse that overlooked the sweeping back yard which led to the stream and woods. The walls were robin’s egg blue and the floors a warm maple.

It was there in that limited space where I discovered a part of myself that I didn’t know existed.  During that time and in that space, I was at my most free even while laden with enormous responsibilities. I think it was the greater setting and the newer incarnation of my family that inspired me to write enormous amounts of material and carve out the time to do it.

Today I write and dream of carving out a newer space in a greater setting that is almost an anathema.  I dream of a woodland retreat. A mountainous oasis.  A place of optimal quiet interrupted only by natural sounds- not sirens and swarms of sedentary traffic. Today I set a new intention. A call for clarity of the mind and spirit.  A recreation of  my own creation.  A Writing Resurrection!

 

Free But Not Free

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                  Image courtesy of: Rúrí   ruri.is  Woman / Freedom

 

Freedom on my mind

Free but not Free

When my body is:

CONTROLLED

TRAP(PED)*

INVADED

by:

Religious “Freedom” Regulators

Bishops’ Bogus Bylaws

and

Junk Science Adjudicators

who:

Perpetuate and Perpetrate Propaganda

Perverting Pregnancy

Separating and Segregating

 Female from Fetus

When the Heart Beat is Felonious

Far from Notability and Viability

Free But Not Free

In Bondage to Strangers

Bearing False Witness to the Experience

and

The Acute Burden of Being Female**

Free But Not Free

When Doctors Cannot Speak

of

OPTIONS

and

CHOICES

and

CHANCES

to

Retain and Maintain

THE AUTONOMY OF MY BODY

                                                                          is

GAGGED

and

GUNNED DOWN

In the Name of

GOD

Free But Not Free

When I Cannot

OBTAIN CARE

that

PERTAINS

To

MY HEALTH

I Must

CONSENT

and

You Must

REFRAIN

MY BODY IS MY DOMAIN

 

*Refers to Trap laws regarding access to abortion (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) which impose specific standards and other regulations that appear to be arbitrary, are difficult to implement and are aimed at closing abortion clinics.

** credit to Michelle Obama

I saw the film BirthRight: A War Story, yesterday afternoon. It was not what I thought it would be. I cannot accurately summarize the entire film, but it is at once a history lesson and personal stories about women’s health care in this country. It is streaming on HULU and you can subscribe to it on YouTube. Here is a link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7GgXygGLQM

Also: The current regime has imposed a Gag Rule on all clinics and other women’s health care services that receive Title X funding. In order to receive any federal grant money, they cannot provide any abortion services or even refer women to clinics that provide them. By law (since 1978), the federal government does not provide Medicaid funding to women who seek abortions and who also qualify for Medicaid. They can receive other health care, however. So if you go to any of these clinics for normal health care checkups or screenings, be aware of these changes. You are on your own for seeking advice on pregnancy termination services. Note also that this same rule was applied during Reagan’s presidency and rescinded under Clinton’s.  

When Men Have the Last Word

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http://womanscape.com/2017/11/27/women-chains/woman-in-chains-song-tff/

As I write this, thousands of Evangelical Church leaders (at the urging of #45), are encouraging their members to get out and vote in November. This is part of a larger campaign that involves millions of dollars in spending through the use of social media, phone calls, mail, and e-mails, and the  so-called micro-targeting of voters: a planned total of 1.2 million people in all.

The spheres of religion and politics  are now fully merged in this country.  It has taken decades of organized planning-both overt and covert-that has brought us to this moment in America.  The movement began in the late 70’s as a reaction to racial integration and mid-twentieth century feminism. Let us not forget that Jerry Falwell  began his movement when he founded an all white Christian school -Lynchburg Christian Academy- as a response to forced racial integration. He touted racial segregation as biblically based. Since that time, we have at least two generations of evangelical citizens raised up and hard-wired for religion, most especially through the growth of private Christian schools and their related churches who are free to espouse and require an adherence to a particular doctrine and dogma of Christianity. As a result, the Religious Right has grown into a powerful political force intent on creating a Conservative Christian Fascist Theocracy under the thinly veiled disguises of religious freedom and a “pro-life” stance (which, by the way, is fairly new to Conservative Christians, who until Paul Weyrich had the idea, were decidedly pro-choice and quite uninterested in politics in general). To arrive at the present moment, the movement’s leaders have had  to strike a Faustian Bargain, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s election right up to the current occupant in the White House. Neither one of these men were and are particularly religious people. But they were and are willing to appease this particular constituency in order to secure their power. In fact, the current administration’s Cabinet is stacked with many Conservative Christians who are changing and implementing all sorts of policies designed to benefit and satisfy big corporations as well as their xenophobic, homophobic and misogynistic base. In fact, I would argue that Evangelical leaders, their members and the current White House occupant are engaged in their own Devil’s Triangle, with the members serving at the behest and pleasure of both. The movement’s influence has had an effect on all levels of government; it is no coincidence that many state legislatures are now chock full of far right conservatives. Nor is serendipitous that much of our current Congress is caught in this same stranglehold. Their path to power has been paved by stoking the fears of false persecution and victimization, voter suppression,  and good old-fashioned gerrymandering.

So, here we are once again at another critical moment; we have had may weeks of them since January 20th, 2017! Right now, I believe that we have reached a breaking point where more than half of our citizens’ rights are at stake.  Like millions, I witnessed the Kavanaugh hearings last week. I watched as the usual big mouths from the Republican side used a woman to ask another woman questions out of false deference to Dr. Blasey-Ford’s terror about appearing in front of such a powerful body of white privileged men. Then I watch them shut the former down as soon as she got close enough to a possible crack in Kavanaugh’s calendar of events. Prior to that, I watched Kavanaugh unleash a vast amount of unchecked anger on unfounded conspiracies that he claimed were bent on derailing his nomination. As I watched, it became clear to me that this man has never had any of actions questioned. Up until this moment, he probably lived a life of elitist ease, working hard to climb higher on his social and career ladder but never suffering any real consequences for his escapades. Kavanaugh openly displayed what can only be described as adolescent aggression often attributed to teenage boys who are trying to squeeze their way out of a lie or a seriously damaging situation. He was unwilling to help himself or any of the committee members get to even a kernel of truth (which he also did at his previous hearings, evading questions about himself or policy or any precedents set by previous Supreme Court decisions). And this is why I found him to be so unbelievable. That, and the fact that he was aided and abetted by many of the 11 Republican’s ridiculous pontifications-as if he were the victim here.

By putting Kavanaugh after Dr. Blasey-Ford, he got the last and loudest word. Of course, if Dr. Blasey-Ford was as belligerent and petulant as he, we would have been having an entirely different conversation. And this brings me to another point. Imagine if all women spoke up at the time of their harassment, molestation or assault. Suppose they came at us with all the venom that Kavanaugh displayed? What would we do?

Women don’t speak up because we have been rendered powerless and because we are wrongly judged. We all remember Anita Hill and how she was treated. Some of us remember how we have been treated when we have come forward and then wish we hadn’t. When a graduate school friend of mine accused her landlord of rape, the first question the police asked her was “How many beers did you have that night?” The guy assaulted her in her own bed while she was sleeping after he gained entry into her apartment!

I cannot begin to tell you how many stories I have heard from friends and loved ones about their own sexual and physical abuse at the hands of someone they know. Not one of them came forward. Call it whatever you want. Fear. Shock. Shame. Self-Blame. Why? Because this is the culture in which we raise girls.  You are either Eve or Mary. Temptress or Perpetual Virgin. Which brings me back to the Evangelical Movement. In their culture, women are considered sexual threats to men. They are raised to be the gatekeepers of men’s sexual weaknesses and are also taught to keep themselves pure until they are married. This involves all forms of sexual expression, not just intercourse. Men are taught that their wives are there to serve at their pleasure and to procreate. (For more on this, I suggest reading Linda Kay Klein’s book, “Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free.”)

And this is why the movement wants to outlaw abortion. They want women to serve as vessels for the next generation regardless of the circumstances or health risks to themselves. They want to limit access to birth control too (remember the Hobby Lobby decision?). When women cannot control their fertility, they have no autonomy. They are not free to pursue their own interests and desires. They are forced to control and suppress their sexual expression out of fear of pregnancy.  Thus, they are viewed as “virginal” except when someone wants them pregnant or to use them for their own pleasure. This unholy trinity of purity, pleasure and pregnancy is totally out of bounds when it comes to embracing the faith that was founded in Jesus’ name.  Perhaps for some Christians, it is only about his death on the cross and his sacrifice for our sins. From this, all doctrine springs forth and controls the behavior of the faithful from birth until death. I myself believe it is bigger than that. I worry less about being a sinner and more about being a giver and doing some good in the world. I believe that Jesus had a big tent. He was radically inclusive and spoke truth to power and he would be mortified at what some are doing in his name.

We forget that women had to “bust their butts” in order to get laws passed that allowed them to become more fuller citizens. We have had the right to vote for less than 100 years and it only came after many significant battles, including arrests, jail time and yes, rape! The Civil Rights Act allowed for more work place protections and opportunities. Title IX allowed for more equity in all areas of education and athletics (although Betsy Devos is attempting to undermine this in regards to sexual assault, of course!). Women can now apply for a credit card and loan without the consent of or co-signing by a man.  Wives can be victims of rape by their husbands. It is illegal to beat and batter your spouse.  Access to birth control has come as a result of a Supreme Court decision (Griswold v. Connecticut). All of this is at risk because of  the restrictive cultural and religious beliefs of a few.

When you want to rule all of your citizens in an authoritarian manner, you start with the women. During his reign, Hitler outlawed abortion (with the exception being if the father or mother was Jewish). One of the slogans during that era  was: “Kinder, Kuche,  Kirche” or Children, Kitchen, Church.  Sound familiar?

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Capturing a Running Moment

 

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                                              Image courtesy of: Becoming Ultra

A long run at sunrise sounded promising

The forecast was for a record hot day

The dastardly humidity returning

Uninvited

April holds out as if a wall is erected

Attempting to deter the thick air

Sidewalks empty of  foot traffic

The road just beginning to buzz with four wheeled machines

The sprinklers performing their duty

in their usual quiet fashion

They hiss as I run past

My mind wanders

Planning the route as I go

Needing to run far enough so my legs don’t give out

The hidden side streets are a favorite detour

before the route to the beach

The boulevard is nearly empty

as I cross to the bridge that rises over the bayou

A woman driving her car eastbound

snaps a photo of the quiescent sky

I run to the nature park and to the path which surrounds me with mangroves

My feet sound different here

palpitating with the beat of my heart

I am unaware of where this path ends

while simultaneously mindful that this is the best I will feel in this moment

 I turn a corner

and I am full on with the salty brackishness

and the day’s rising

Simple in beauty

Conscious that this will be the highlight of my day

I turn to go

Heeding my pace

Aware of the many miles that lay before me

Day 28. Happy Friday!

Her Story

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                                                Image courtesy of: Pintrest

Woman:

Refined and Revolutionary

We march

We speak

We look you in the eye

We frighten you with our wisdom

birthed in struggles and strife

Our stories belong to us and we belong to ourselves

Yet, you seek to define us:

Girl, Whore, Broad, Mistress, Wife, Femme Fatale

 Your connotations are infinite

as you seek to keep us finite

You seek to degrade us as you adjudicate us 

Your savage measures threaten our subsistence

  Good sirs:

You only fan the flames

We have no fear

Only a familiar female fury

 We will not wait

 We will storm the gates

 And rise once more:

 A phoenix from the ashes of your fires

Day 26. I had another word in mind today. Perhaps it will work tomorrow. This is it for today.

What Kind of Woman?

 

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                               Image courtesy of: Anarres Natural Health

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts in the Air


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Image courtesy of: Pintrest

Is it possible that reminders of an old life can appear unreal?

Can relocation reveal dislocation

not from a physical locale

but from an impression of  love and life?

  There:

Two lives in the same space and time

 One With and One Without

With was a notion

More of a staged play

Another in the leading role

Yet not present for every scene

Without was The Life

An Improvisation

with an ensemble cast

and special guest stars from season to season

A  Strong Woman opera of struggle and strife

whose finale was triumph not tragedy

Living  in a new dimension

Neither With nor Without

Not seeking to reclaim the latter

 It is not a discernible thing that can be held onto any longer

Yet:

There is movement and motion in both spheres

A compelling momentum forward

that doesn’t hold to a limited longitude or latitude

Here:

A garden grows

and love, too

Quiet and enduring

Room for an inner life

Gilded with grace that merges one with the other

Day 17: Bits of dribbled musings on the plane ride from there to here.

Between Two Worlds

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                                            Image courtesy of: AllPosters.com

 

She inquires

Are you coming back or just visiting?

I ask myself

Have I ever left?

My spirit resides in cold, granite rocks and crisp, gripping air

I stood outside at the airport

Basking in the north wind

Rejoicing in the sky that bore more clouds than sun

The southern nights have been restless in anticipation

Sleep elusive

I toss and turn in the stifling and stuffy night air

Rains of  sweat beneath my forehead and between my breasts

My body longing for the chill of a drafty house

and the warm pile of a fluffy comforter

The tip of my nose cool to the touch

Nostalgia keeps me coming back, I know

But the tug and pull of my  new life

reminds me of a joy that I am just beginning to sow

Day 13.  I am back in New England for a few days to visit the boys and my friends. My legs need some hills and a mountain to climb. I have been greeted with “Welcome Home!” already. Although in truth, I now have two places that bear the same name.

 

Withering Vines

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                                            Image courtesy of: Pintrest

A Reflection

A Pleasing Woman

A Magnificent Mind

A Soft Spirit

Working hard at denial

and unconscious obfuscation

Practicing the art of avoidance

Folding within herself

 A verdant vessel for a vacuous seed

  Hoping for a change through sweet offerings

While gritting your teeth and conjuring a smile

You’re building a gilded cage

 Your tongue bleeding with the words you wish to say

Your feet tiptoeing

When they  want to stomp in frustration and irritation

Is it easier to acquiesce?

What is it that you fear?

  In time your ebullience may ebb

Your smile may turn into a sneer

And the hard work of keeping it together may exhaust you

And then your unraveling will begin

 

Day 11. The daily prompt was Unraveling. I am far removed from my former life on so many levels. But today’s prompt had me thinking of women who sacrifice so much of themselves, buying into the fairy tale, afraid of being alone and staying too long because of fear of looking like a failure or fear of poverty or something much worse. The chance to regain yourself and build a better life is out there and worth the fight.

Wide Awake

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                                                 Image courtesy of: Genius

Blindly

I could not see the damage to your soul

Blindly

I thought I could love you through the break in your heart

Blindly

I followed the false path that you contrived

Blindly

I thought I could take it

The sadistic words

The trepid  fear of you

Blindly you moved further

Becoming lost to us and yourself

  Blindly

I thought it could not get any worse

 And then

Blindly

I stayed

Until I became invisible

Even unto myself 

Cautiously

I awakened

Carefully

I spoke

Purposely

I moved forward

Clearly

seeing the many paths I could walk

Day 10. Today’s WordPress prompt was Blindly. I had to wait all day to write this one!