Why Write?

Image result for woman writing as resistance art
            Courtesy of: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/553802085399155400/

        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.

Image result for poets as unacknowledged legislators

 

When Men Have the Last Word

Image result for woman in chains

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?

Related image

                       https://slideplayer.com/slide/5818813/

 

Sacred

                                                          Nancy’s sea glass

Holy pieces housed in an unadorned vessel

Faith’s fragments washed ashore on a Mayan peninsula

Divinely inspired

Gathered piece by piece

Every unearthing calling forth a living  prayer

 Ordained with a blessing

Offered in love

Binding all living things to one another in hope and healing

Day 29. For Nancy.

Capturing a Running Moment

 

Image result for sunrise run

                                              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!

The Road to Consecration

Image result for authentic self in art

                                      Image courtesy of: Jenny Grant

She turned to face him:

Which mask to wear today?

It was hard to gauge his mood with the thickness of sleep still bearing its weight on her body

Her mind is murky

  She lets out a sigh

Feeling safe only if she lay on her left side curled up and in her own embrace

Much better to fall off  than brush against the beast

How long could this charade last?

Lately she had matched his deceit with her own

Not out of some need to enact revenge

She wasn’t even sure how far he had gone

But he wore his lies like an ill-fitting suit

The pants dragged beneath his heels

The jacket was two sizes too small

And the buttons were askew behind his lengthy tie

When she would point out the mismatch between one tall tale and another,

he would insist that he was misheard or misunderstood

Keeping track of  his dirty deeds became a game of survival and self-protection

His self-involvement and vanity distracted him from noticing her wily ways

Still, she was weary of feeling undone

Every encounter exhausting

Every conversation calibrated

Today would be the day

Holding her breath

 She slipped out into the early light

Suitcases already packed in the trunk of her car

The papers and house keys lay on the kitchen table

  Woman!

We have lift off!

She exhaled and let out a silent cheer

She had no compass

Just her authentic self 

The only true guide to the road within

Day 27. The word is authentic drawn, from a conversation yesterday with Emily- although the subject matter was different. I hadn’t expected this as the outcome but certainly the theme of freedom is on my mind these days.

Her Story

Image result for authentic women

                                                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.

Transcending Old Suffering

Image result for a woman feeling small

Image courtesy of: Heart Sisters

Too dangerous to repeat those words which once made me feel small

They hung in the air

A hovering smog of demotions revealing your lack of devotion

Too dangerous to think how those utterances once pierced my heart

They slit and sliced

leaving a hole where love once lived

Too dangerous to feel how those remarks concussed my soul

where my very being was left battered and bruised

Then a moment when I thought I was so far removed

Where the hurt had been expelled and expunged

My attention became ensnared and captured

Energy stuck in an obscure bodily sphere

Tenuous and subtle but present

 I linger with it

I sense it moving through

There!

It sits behind my eyes

Insisting that I see

Pounding my head with implication and insinuation

Admonishing me to feel

I turn it over

Offer it up

 Relief arrives with admission and realization

that the Spirit

the Me that is Me

carries remnants

the residual remains

of Invisibility

Each movement of ancient energy

is a releasing

another renewal

and I am seeing myself as I never did before

Day 25.  Old stuff surfaced ever so briefly yesterday and gave me a gift. And now I am giving you one as well. For those of you moving past old hurts and sufferings at the hands and/or words of another. The journey through healing is worth the destination.