Saturday, September 29, 2018

He Failed the Job Interview for the Highest Court in the Land

On Thursday, a very compelling, articulate, credible woman told her truth of a sexual assault naming her attacker.  Dr. Christine Blasey Ford does not remember exact details, like how she got home when she was running for her life.  Victims of assault don't remember because there has been TRAUMA.  Trauma changes everything. But she absolutely remembers the person(s) who physically assaulted her in the room and the man who held his hand over her mouth removing her ability to breathe.  The sounds of Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh's laughter is forever burned in her memory.  Her life has been affected for the last 37 years.

Thirty Seven Years.

Sexual Assault survivors are affected for the rest of their lives.

How many women don't come forward because they are shamed, scared and know they will not be believed?  After the President, who has been accused of sexual assault himself, said it was Dr. Ford's fault for not coming forward when she was fifteen, survivors who have never previously uttered a word to anyone, spoke of their painful stories en masse.  Yet even when women do the bravest thing possible, it just doesn't matter. It comes down to a "he said, she said." The old white men side with the other man.  The statistics are sad and dismal.  Women do not come forward.  Cases do not go to trial and there are not convictions. Rape kits sit untested. There are not usually witnesses to assaults.  And the assaulters get away with their behavior.

The hearing on Thursday was a "he said, she said" without any other witnesses allowed.  She was very credible. He was angry, condescending, and evasive.  So what is the answer? Old white men apologize to the entitled white man and vote him in.  They ignore her truth and are astonished and moved at his emotion.  But his emotion was from being found out and letting his family down. And the white male senators couldn't handle one of themselves crying. "The Democrats broke this man."

No, Kavanaugh broke himself.

Most men and even women, especially these male Senators, don't know how to recognize emotional behaviors in front of their eyes.  They run from anything vulnerable.  They recognize and adulate power.

It is sad that he feels so entitled, that he came out swinging for a lifetime spot on the most dignified and important bench in the United States.  He is no longer qualified because he failed his job interview.  He was playing to a jury of one who appreciates bold and brash denials.  Roy Cohn, the McCarthy lawyer taught that one man jury how to do it so well.

It is time for the old white men's club to be dismantled.

I wish I were one to get out there and march and speak up.  But my calling is to write. Perhaps because I live in the Deep South Bible Belt and it was ingrained in me by the culture to smile, be pretty and stay quiet. This is my own personal quiet revolution.  Writing these words are a coming out in the midst of a deeply red state with very small blue spots in cities.  My senators are the worst. One gives quotable shticky one liners and the other writes articles for mysogynistic, racist websites.

I identified with Dr. Ford sitting in that interview.  She was bright, articulate and funny.  When she began speaking about the assault, she became the fifteen year old girl again.  That is what trauma does to one.  But she knew who attacked her.

Judge Kavanaugh was on a high pressure job interview for a seat on the highest bench in the land.  When he began speaking it was belligerent, partisan, entitled and condescending.  This is not how a judge should comport himself or herself and shows his true character.  Assault charges aside, he is not the best candidate for the job because of how he behaved Thursday.   What his actions revealed was a white man who has always had privilege and could not believe that he was being called out.  He was crying because he got caught.  From his actions under oath, it is entirely believable that he could act aggressive and violently when alcohol enters his bloodstream.

He must have been the shy kid who drank excessively and wasn't having sex but wanted to. He was conflicted about a natural desire and what was dictated by his religious culture.  There seem to be several classmates coming forward to reveal he was a nasty drunk and not exactly the do gooder that he wants the world to believe. None of us are good as we want ourselves to be but don't fib about it under oath.

Kavanaugh is not the best person for this job to legislate women's issues for the next thirty to forty years.  Nominate another candidate. Push that candidate through before the midterms.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Ford's story was leaked when she wasn't ready.  It is unfortunate that the other accusers came forward at the last minute of an arbitrary deadline.  For survivors, there is strength in numbers.   But the allegations have been brought out, and now Senators have to deal with it and follow tradition of due process and not throw hissy fits about it.  Senator Graham doesn't want to know the truth. Did he watch her testimony?  Thank goodness Senator Flake got caught in that elevator with a brave survivor speaking her truth.  And now there is one week for the FBI to gather more information. One week only was given for a lifetime appointment.

In the hearing, Judge Kavanaugh over and over refused to say out loud, let the FBI clear my name.  He kept repeating, I'll do what the committee says.  Because he knew the Majority on the committee was behind him.  He doesn't want further digging.  Why?  He absolutely doesn't want Mark Judge to testify.  He knows he drank too much at times and something in him deep inside, that he's not ready to admit yet, doesn't know what happened every time.   Kavanaugh lied about several facts including Renate, the triangle, and boofing, or whatever it was. There are other lies related to judicial matters.  Instead of answering the blackout drinking question, he made a turn to aggressively ask the kind and seemingly meek female Senator Klobuchar if she had the alcohol problem.   This is what a defensive, guilty aggressive person does.  He is trying to paint himself as the victim when Dr. Ford's life has been affected for the last thirty seven years.  People at that particular gathering where the assault took place may not know anything because she ran away and didn't tell anyone as survivors do, but there are people that could testify to a pattern of his behavior, mental health professionals that would explain her memory gaps, lie detector results for both of them and character witnesses on both sides. And then there are the other accusers.

We are at a place today, where getting the facts still may not make a difference because of the makeup of the Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Majority are completely ignoring the other accusers that have come forward because they don't want to know anymore and they want to push this nomination through. (Merrick Garland, anyone?)   Those accusers are willing to testify under oath to the FBI, the non-partisan information gathering body.  Kavanaugh doesn't, but why?  He just kept repeating, "I was ready to show up the next day to clear my name."  The next day would not give any time for an investigation.  How does a Federal Judge not understand that concept?

Courtesy of Megamamas
When people are found out, they do lie to save themselves. Our President is one of those who lies every day, day in and day out.  He has no credibility whatsoever in this matter.  He calls all his accusers liars.  And he was found out to be lying about Stormy Daniels per his own lawyer.  Judge Kavanaugh has proven to be on the same page as the partisan pussy grabber in chief to double down and repeat a lie until it seems it's the truth.  Judge Kavanaugh defended himself in a brash, aggressive manner maybe because that's who he really is or for Trump so that he would remain the nominee.   There is no doubt he and his family has suffered in the last 2 weeks, (contrast that with 37 years) but when you want to sit on the most respected, highest court in the land for the next thirty to forty years, the candidate must be thoroughly investigated even when new allegations come at the very last moment. 

Sexual assault victims do not come forward.

Dr. Ford showed more character, bravery and composure after a lifetime of suffering.  She did her civic duty.  She's reliving her worst trauma in front of the nation but she didn't whine and complain like Dr. Kavanaugh.  Women can be Steel Magnolias.  Judge Kavanaugh is having to come to grips with his past too.  Perhaps he could have come clean and said, I don't remember what happened when I drank too much, it is possible but I don't know.  I am a changed man now.

Those are pipe dreams I know.  But one day in the future.

There were witnesses to his past and I hope we find out more of the truth. I don't count on it because I have equal parts pessimism and optimism in me.

I do know, he failed the job interview.

I hope beyond all hope, that there is a wave of qualified women and minorities coming forth to lead and dismantle the old boys club.  Women came forward after Anita Hill and ran for office in record numbers.  It is accepted that what Dr. Hill said back then was true about Judge Thomas and she was maligned in the process.  And some of the same men back then are still judging now.   What will we know about this particular assault in the future?  What truths will come out over time?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Lesson on Paying Attention and Seeing Signs

A former first grade teacher that taught both of my girls was having stomach troubles after having beaten breast cancer a few years earlier.  She and her husband have a high school sophomore daughter, the same age as my eldest and an older son that is a senior in high school.  She was quiet and reserved but you knew she was present.  It took me a while to understand this though.  Having people in your life that are with you full on in the moments that you spend with them is an amazing gift.  It's nothing about themselves in that moment, it's all focused on you.  I have been diligently learning how to be present, especially with my children.  Shirley possessed that ability with such quiet grace.

I didn't really get to know her during the lower school years but after she retired, I had an experience when we were both chaperoning a middle school cotillion dance session.  This is when I saw the mom side of her and her sense of humor.  It was a wonderful surprise to get to know that side.  I didn't see her much after that as our children were at different schools.  But I struck up a friendship with her husband through social media.  He is the most gracious, friendly, down to earth, and kind man.  He doesn't meet a stranger and he sends a note to mark the smallest of occasions.   I think he read one of my blogs and made me feel special because he took the time to comment on what had struck a chord with him.

You never know how a small action can affect another person in a positive way.

This past April, I was sitting in an Old Navy dressing room with one of my daughters and I got a FB message from him, that was written by Shirley.  My heart dropped and the tears fell as I understood what I read. She had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer and the prognosis didn't seem good.

From an outsider's perspective, her writing and what her husband shared as times went on, she was strong and brave and had accepted her fate with a deep faithfulness.  I was awed by their strength. She had lost her own father young in her life.  She had conversations with her children for them to understand they knew her and would know what she would think for matters in the future.

Those are brave and vulnerable conversations.

This family's journey has struck something in me and has stayed with me.

As time progressed, there were updates through FB and then Caring Bridge.  By summer, they stopped treatment because she wanted to live out the rest of her time, with her family and travel.

From a selfish point of view, I thought what if I were in the same situation leaving my daughters and husband behind.

Life just doesn't seem fair.  I have come to expect that stuff just happens, and I think about my faith. Could I handle a journey like that?  Could I be gracious?  I still have a lot of fear and anxiety that pop up for me yet I am coming to understand the true unconditional nature of God.

I know for sure, that God has ways of helping me understand things that are too much for me, if I stay aware and open.  The signs of God's unconditional love never look like what I think they will, but they fill the need if I am patient and let go.  They are obvious especially as I practice observance.

In our neighborhood, for many months, there have been three pet bunnies that have roamed across the street in my neighbors' yards and sometimes in our own yard.  They ran mostly between the three yards directly across from my house.  When I have come outdoors, I never remembered to look for them.  I was always unexpectedly delighted in spotting a combination of the white one or the two brown ones.  Seeing those white cotton tails hop away brought me such joy in that moment.  But I also knew those bunnies weren't going to be around forever.  After a while, we noticed we hadn't spotted the white bunny for some time.

One Saturday a few weeks ago, Shirley's husband posted a picture on Facebook of a fox that was in their neighborhood.  On Sunday afternoon, my neighbor posted a picture with a very similar looking fox, with one of the brown bunnies that it had killed next to it.

What a coincidence.

I couldn't help but think of this family. They don't live that far away from us by foot with a BREC park and woods nearby.

Within days,  I received the news that Shirley had moved to a hospice facility.

And not much time after that, my husband texted me on his way to work that the fox was lying dead on one of the streets of our neighborhood.  It looked like it was peacefully sleeping with not a mark on it.

Again, my thoughts turned to this family.  What does this mean?

A few days later, my neighbor and I who have talked many times about the wildlife that has showed up in our area, texted me a picture of a beautiful white stately egret that was on her back fence.

That night Shirley passed away.

The next day, I read the news that she had moved into the great mystery.  That afternoon, Mallory and I spotted the egret with our own eyes in another neighbor's yard.

On the morning of her service, I was walking the dogs and it hit me that I really, really wanted to spot the remaining bunny before I left.  I had seen it previously and neighbors had seen it recently.

But then I got it.

I wasn't going to see the bunny.  I had already seen the beautiful white egret.



I don't have control over what happens in this world.  I have to look for the Divine signs that life goes on. Loved ones are still with us if we pay attention.


When I read the quotes in Shirley's funeral program, I was taken aback with what had been chosen.  They were so perfect and so meaningful.  It's more important what you do in your life in the time you have, how you make people feel and to celebrate even when things come to an end.  Be grateful for the moment at hand.  This has been a goal of mine to learn to live life in the moment at hand.



Shirley was a beautiful, gracious and faithful soul.  She inspires me to live my life authentically as I am.

Namaste.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Loss Of John McCain Stirs A Comparison to Our Current President

I am saddened at the loss of Senator John McCain, both for the loss of a real American patriot and for the loss of a voice and a model that is so direly needed in the current political climate.   There was something about him, that I was drawn to over time.  Did I support his policies or campaigns?  I don't remember specifics now, and my political positions have changed over the years.  Looking back at his entire career and at this particular time in history, I have the utmost respect for him even though I didn't agree with him.  He called it as he saw it, but you knew it was because he thought it was best for the country.  And most importantly, he admitted his mistakes of which there were several.  This shows such integrity.  When someone cannot admit mistakes, it means their sense of self will be destroyed if they admit an imperfection.

Weeks ago, I watched "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and discovered how McCain's character developed with his father and grandfather both achieving Navy Admiral status and his time as a POW.   Recently, Carl Bernstein pointed out when he covered him on the Straight Talk Express during his Presidential campaign bid in 2000, it was apparent that John had nothing left to fear.  He was a changed man after Vietnam. He had cheated death and lived through hell in the Hanoi Hilton for five and half years.  McCain was able to be his true self, all in and authentic to the core.

Authenticity is divinity shining brightly.

When the opinions of others fall beside the way and one knows that littlest nudge of intuition is the right path, that is authenticity.  And one knows also, that if you don't listen, that nudge will come around again.

Listening to Bernstein's interview, the lightbulb went off: that is why I was drawn to McCain.  I am drawn to persons imbuing their authentic lives.

And it is the exact reason why Trump has turned me off from the very beginning, most likely watching the facade of The Apprentice.  Trump is unable to be authentic because he is still lost in an insatiable need for his own acceptance (and for those around him.)  He does not feel okay as he is, and mercilessly has to promote himself because he needs to fill that void.  Watching his mafiaso rantings this past week with the Manafort verdict, Cohen plea and other cooperating witnesses, instead of my usual anger, I really saw how very sad and pathetic he is.  I saw a child coming up with excuses and for all his bloviating, he is the weakest person to ever sit in the Oval office in the modern age.

Why did Trump run for office?  He wanted to prove he was king of the world.  He needed it for his self esteem.  Why did John McCain run? He had a sense of duty towards his country that never wavered.  It takes a small, small man to not give a dead hero his due.  Trump's late proclamation, mostly due to outside pressure to put the flag back at half mast was filled with what he was doing for the deceased, not actually recognizing McCain's bravery and service.  He couldn't bear to use the word hero because even in McCain's death, Trump cannot rise above his own pettiness and jealousy.  He threw together a half made trade "deal" to take attention away from the McCain tributes and it was only fitting that it didn't go smoothly. (I am small by pointing this out)

As I watch what is going on with the current administration, along with many other Americans, we wax nostalgic for honesty, and character on a daily basis.  I think McCain's death is reminding us of a time when our leaders had honor, and service and love of country over love of self or a party line.  There has always been corruption, but never in our faces as much as it is now, with live tweets day in and day out.  We are becoming immune to his lies, and propaganda.

In hindsight, McCain's statement after Trump capitulated to Putin in Helsinki put into words as only someone having the knowledge and experience could do.  I didn't appreciate it fully then, because there is you know, so much news.

"The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivete, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate, but it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake." “President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world."

Will other Republicans join Democrats to fill the void and speak up against Trump and anyone who threatens the institutions of our democratic republic to save their own behind?  Not likely.  They will have to be voted out.  And will America do that?

When I get really worried about that, I turn to Presidential historians who remind me, our country has been through times like this before and we have survived.

It is a telling legacy to McCain how many people on both sides of the aisle are speaking about him in gracious loving terms with tears in their eyes and using words like hero, patriot, fierce and funny.    One could go toe to toe in disagreement with Senator McCain and then walk away laughing.  He was a true patriot. And I don't use that word lightly.  That word has become unrecognizable to me lately.

Coming back from Vietnam with some of his body parts broken never to recover, McCain was not broken spiritually.  He was even more grateful to be alive, and the desire to serve his country was even moreso ingrained in him.

To end, I caught this short bit from his speechwriter and co-author of seven of his books.  I was astonished to hear his words, but recognized what he was saying immediately.  This is why I was drawn to John McCain.  It screams Brene Brown and vulnerability.  Vulnerability equals bravery. The truth of living is that it is all about love and connecting to others.





We are born to love, and we were born to have the courage for it, so be brave, the rest is easy."

Friday, June 22, 2018

History Will Not Be Kind to Trump: Do You See What I See?

I wasn't going to write anything about Trump until I could reach beyond a reactionary response to his divisiveness and black and white thinking.  


But you know, I have to start where I am, as an observer with a counselor background and a keen interest in the American Presidency and history.  I have to process what I see.  And I have seen a lot as have you. 

Do you see what I see?

A friend recently pointed out that President Trump meets every one of the criteria for a Sociopath.    Here are the criteria for a high functioning sociopath:  

High IQ: High functioning sociopaths often have a higher IQ than other sociopaths or people without personality disorders. This helps them plan, manipulate, and exploit others.

Lack of empathy: Difficulty is empathizing with others or understanding the emotional consequences of their actions.

Narcissism: They often have strong self-love and grandiose self-image. This occurs because of low esteem and delusional beliefs.

Charming: Although most sociopaths lack empathy, they are capable of mimicking and manipulating emotions to appear charming and normal

Secretive: A sociopath doesn't feel the need to share intimate details with others unless it is to manipulate.  (Tax returns & business dealings after American banks stopped loaning him $)

Sexually deviant: Since they lack guilt, remorse, and emotional attachments, sociopaths tend to have affairs and engage in the questionable sexual activity. (Goes Without Saying) 

Sensitive to criticism: Despite their lack of empathy, sociopaths desire the approval of others. They feel entitled to admiration and are quick to anger when criticized.

Impulsive behavior: Sociopaths often live in the moment and will do what they feel is needed to reach their immediate goals. (Twitter rants and policy) 

Compulsive lying: Disregarding the truth to make themselves look better or get what they want.
Needing constant stimulation: Sociopaths often get bored easily and need to be actively engaged.

Addictive Behavior: Their compulsive mindset may result in addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or other addictive behaviors. (Twitter, controlling the narrative

Criminal Behavior: Criminal activity associated with sociopaths could include theft, assault, or destruction of property. (Got In trouble in high school and was sent to military school, and you know, waiting patiently for Mueller)

Isn't it amazing how he meets EVERY SINGLE CRITERIA? Although sociopath is not a DSM diagnosis, it parallels very closely to anti-social disorder which is.  He does meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality too. 

Why does it matter that this label fits?   On a daily basis we see each of these characteristics playing out in destructive ways in our country in hourly breaking news.  Let's begin with the lies.  As of last month, three thousands lies in the last 466 days.  Every politician glosses the truth, but Trump has hit the high of six lies per day, and ones that are easily proven false, yet his followers believe them.  His supporters at the recent Duluth rally were interviewed and believe that the pictures at the border detention center supplied by Trump's own administration are not real.   

It's not only lying, but the constant gaslighting of the American people when things are not going well for him.  As the Russian investigation gets closer and closer to him, he acts out and distracts. This is his brand management style of a reality TV Show Presidency.  When the noose tightens, distract. He changes the narrative and he's exquisitely pathologically good at this. For example, he first began saying there was no Russian collusion which in and of itself is not illegal, but as communication by his team with Russian emissaries was revealed over and over, he began the pivot as did Nixon, that the investigation by his own appointed Justice Department is flawed and conspiracy theories abound. 

This Russian witch hunt currently has 17 indictments, 5 guilty pleas, and one campaign manager currently behind bars because he couldn't stop criminal behavior even with an ankle cuff monitor.  

He will hire only the best people.  





The Russian investigation began not because of a conspiratorial "deep state" but because his own foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, bragged to Australia's British diplomat in a London bar that Russia had dirt on Hilary Clinton.  

He hires only the best people. 

Australian intelligence counterparts then notified our intelligence offices. That is the way ally Intelligence offices work. U.S. Intelligence doesn't work for the benefit of just one narcissistic U.S. President, they work for the safety of the entire country. 

One or two of his very best people happened to already work as pro-Russian agents for countries like the Ukraine and they accidentally forgot to put that on their official work papers and lied to the FBI about it. 

He hires only the best people. 

Back to the sociopathic tendencies.  What matters to him is attention, optics and ratings and most importantly trying to fill a void of self worth that will never be quenched.   


 


Tony Schwartz is the writer of  "The Art of the Deal," who spent eighteen months daily with Trump. (He massively regrets his role in the writing of this book and creating the persona.)

The real problem, is he doesn't appear to have a soul.  An August 2016 quote about Trump from recently departed Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: "He has a shocking absence of elementary decency and of natural empathy for the most profound of human sorrows, parental grief." 

It's hard to watch our democracy being lead by someone who has no empathy, decency and actively stokes division at every turn. It's a true test of our founding father's framework.   In order to watch the news, I have to balance it and listen to historical scholars who say that our founding fathers envisioned this and our democracy will survive. Jon Meacham is one of them. 

Other than the test of our democracy, the reason I'm so intrigued is that I was fooled too.  I never liked Trump because he was too narcissistic, too sexist and too much.  But I actually thought he could possibly be a legit business person. I was fooled by the gold letters on top of some of his buildings until I learned that those are a licensing facade.  He doesn't own the buildings but rather the right to put his name on it.  He's pathologically good at branding. 

But then I learned the details of his business career: dad's money, bankruptcies, lawsuits, cheating small business owners, failed businesses including Atlantic casinos, which led to American banks no longer loaning him money.  Where did he go for funding to stay afloat? Russian oligarchs and anywhere money could be hidden.  You don't play with dirty money and come out clean.  This is why there is no transparency with his tax returns.   Why does one need a fixer like Michael Cohen if you are running your businesses above board?

His business evolved to reality TV.  And our TV President held court in The Apprentice and that facade made him legitimate to some citizens.  He presided in the big chair on a television set that gave the appearance of a strong businessman who said, "You're Fired" but it was... scripted and directed.   In reality, he cannot handle conflict, and has other people fire whomever has crossed him or he sits behind his unsecured phone and fires by Twitter.  

What blew me away was, with his much touted negotiating skills, and with a Republican House and Senate, he couldn't get his version of healthcare passed because he had no version.  He doesn't read, he doesn't know policy or history,  just catch phrases.  It was truly shocking to me what a poor negotiator he actually is.  He's really good at executive orders in front of the camera though.  He can't roll up his sleeves and do the hard work even though he might have a good point.  (See, I give him that he might have some good instincts!)  He's unable to have the hard conversation with our ally leaders in person to reach a mutually beneficial agreement at a summit. That is what negotiating is about.  That is strength.  

It's sad to see it's about optics and show.   He only shows up for the picture op or a parade in his honor.

Whatever you have to say about Obama and your disagreement with his policies, he met with both parties, had meetings and had hard negotiations to pass healthcare.   He is a Christian, he said Merry Christmas and he was born in Hawaii.  Even though it would be okay if he were Muslim because being Muslim does not mean you are a terrorist.  He sat with parents who had lost grade school children to gun violence and wept with them.  Trump does not have that emotional capability.  He threw paper towel rolls in Puerto Rico from behind a table and it was so symbolic of who he is.  Of course, that U.S. territory is still suffering. 

All of the above mentioned sociopathic tendencies are crippling him and has an affect on our country. 

Most recently, the lack of empathy was on full display with his Zero Tolerance family separation border policy which Stephen Miller crafted and Attorney General Sessions stamped.  He started the fire and then put the fire out.   For a day or so, he did see an opportunity to use these terrorized detained immigrant children as hostages for leverage for his wall but then optics got too bad for him.   He has affected children and families who have been so psychologically scarred and whom may never be reunited with their parents.  As of this morning, he drops Immigration impulsively because the optics are bad at the present moment. 

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I can't even begin with Sessions using the Bible to justify ripping families apart, just like it  was used to support slavery.  At times I actually feel sorry for Sessions whose policies I deplore. He is Trump's whipping boy because he actually did the ethical action of stepping down from overseeing an investigation that included himself.  But Trump is now torturing him unmercifully because mafioso Don was expecting loyalty from "his" man.  (Trump was expecting a Roy Cohn)  Trump's authoritarian stances and dictator love is quite disconcerting.  It wasn't a joke that he wanted "his" people to stand at attention like Kim Jong Un's people as rocket man presides over a murderous military regime. 

He has extreme black and white thinking. (I spot it, I got it too!) You are either all in or on the complete outs with Trump.  For example, he is incapable of nuances.  He doesn't know how to meet Kim Jong Un and not flatter and fawn all over a murderous dictator.  He could meet with him, be courteous and yet hold a hard line.  I thought the two of them might just be so crazy that something good could come of it.  

Then there is the inconsistency of the "law and order" President.  He is waging Presidential war against his own Justice department to cover his own tracks.   Why would someone with so many questionable financial dealings with funding from dirty money run for the highest office in the land?  He brought this level of investigation on himself.  His narcissism tells him he can get away with it.  And Comey helped him win the Presidency!!  I am not missing that irony. 

A simple fact during the campaign was he told the American people he had no dealings with Russia and all along, his business associates were trying to build a Trump Tower there.  He learned to lie this masterfully from Joe McCarthy's lawyer, Roy Cohn when Trump was thirty years old.  He learned  how to double down and repeatedly lie until people think it's the truth.  

This is wearing me out, how about you? 

Who is the Biggest Fake?  

I know many do see the dysfunctional sociopathic characteristics but they see it as strength.  They have craved someone who calls it like they see it.  He's bold, he doesn't care about political correctness.  America First!!    Mixed in with America First are the evangelical leaders and Christians who align with the man who says he has makes no mistakes and never needs to be forgiven.  And well, the sociopathic tendencies...

Jesus would have been all in for America First, right?  Jesus, the olive skinned Jew, who was an immigrant with no home who preached "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Jesus would have been turned away at the border by our current administration.  He was a snowflake in the best way, who said love everyone.   My personal God is the God of all people in the world, not just the American ones.  Trump has co-opted patriotism for his own purposes.  I love America, I love our freedom but I also see that the rest of the world's children (and adults) as God's too.  This includes the brown ones, the Mexican ones, the Muslim ones, females, children, gay, straight, transgender, the tax collector, the Pharisee, the white ones and the male ones. 

My pastor says that we must love our enemies.  I think Jesus did too.  Trump may stoke the fire of divisiveness and indecency day in and day out but I really try not to respond in hate.  I can even tell you how he has helped me!  Trump has helped me accept that I am not in control.  Ha ha!!   And that is an understatement!!  He has taught me to be in the present moment, more than Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra or Jesus could! He has helped me to understand that politics are so very personal and they are so very deeply ingrained.  Do I hate Trump?  He makes me cringe for sure.  I can't listen to him speak and I loathe red hats. I really despise his actions and his rhetoric but I do try to understand him.  That is who I am.  I try to understand who he is and who his followers are.  I think he's pretty miserable that he won.  

For those who understand what I'm writing intimately, take heart.  I truly believe our democracy will survive this President.  Now, I don't think that every day, but on my best day, I do.  It will be ugly for a while still.  The Founding Fathers created our constitutional framework because we were fleeing a King with unlimited power and forced religion. They had this scenario in mind. 

Do you see what I see?

If you don't agree with any of these thoughts, thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!!  We may not see the same things, but I do try to see you, and understand as well.  We both want many of the same things in life, we just have different ways of getting there. 

Namaste. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Feelings, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa Feelings

In lower and middle school, I took piano lessons.  When I quit lessons, there were just a few remaining songs that I could sit down and play by memory.  "The Rose", "You Light Up My Life" and "Feelings" were the emotional songs that I sat down and belted out every word.  I think there was a Barry Manilow in the repertoire as well, of course! {giggle}

I'm finding the irony of how enamored I was with those heart wrenching sentimental songs and where I am now.  I have come full circle.

Somewhere along the way from childhood on and most especially after a terrible bout of Postpartum Depression, I shut down allowing myself to experience a full range of feelings or what I like to now call by the proper name of energy.  Feelings are just energy, plain and simple.  Society and those persons closest to us, tell us not to cry, not to be angry and ignore the anxiety and Just Do It.  It's both a natural reaction to cry but also it seems to try and stop someone from having an emotional catharsis.  How many times have you seen someone apologize for making someone cry or apologize for crying oneself and then making a joke about it?  It can go to the extreme though, as a good portion of America now numbs itself with compulsions or addictions.  Nowadays, there are more compulsions that you can shake a stick at.  The old standards are still there: alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, cleaning, exercising and newer ones with that have crept in with technology, all so we can avoid ourselves and the emotional energy that naturally comes up in life.  We are turning away from ourselves (and the Divinity within).  And it takes a lot of practice to turn towards oneself again.

For years, I have been listening to a marvelous teacher named Mary O'Malley, a therapist in Washington State.  In interviews, videos, and articles, Ms. O'Malley states that in essence befriending and being curious with the compulsion is the way through, not trying to fight it head on but rather using curiosity and compassion.

Curiosity and compassion towards myself? Are you kidding? How contradictory is this to the message from the diet industry which owns my compulsion:  restrict, and deny yourself through eating.   As then there is the Western mentality of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and white knuckling through whatever. 

I have been missing the curiosity and compassion component for years even though I had heard of it. I had no idea of how to do it.  I figured out I needed to feel my feelings so I started gutting myself through all of them.  I learned that anger is a sign that boundaries are being tread on and so I took different actions with certain people.   I faced anxiety and deep sadness head on.  I cried buckets, and sat with discomfort that I wanted to escape from more than anything.  A true bonus though, was learning that joy was in this mix of energy too.  I began to feel utter joy from simple encounters with my family, friends and nature because when you turn away and numb, you numb everything.

What Ms. O'Malley points out is that we judge our energy (feelings) and that keeps us in the vicious cycle.

I JUDGE MYSELF FOR HAVING THE ENERGY THAT COMES!

I'm screaming this because I need that to sink in as I practice acceptance. 

She describes four kinds of movements in regards to energy.  The first is anger that I'm not getting what I want.  The second is fear and I'm getting what I don't want.  The third is despair/sadness that I will never get what I want.  Lastly, Mary says the glue that holds them all together is judgement.

We want to escape the anger, sadness, fear and we try to think ourselves out of the shame, guilt and whatever else is associated with it.  In my head, I think so very many derogatory thoughts of myself.  Why am I feeling this way, no one else is?  I need to get over this.  I am so pitiful.  What can't I be stronger, etc. etc.  I beat myself up.  Let's just pile it on. That will make things better. NOT.

Ms. O'Malley does a brilliant in depth explanation of the next step and more in her book, The Gift of Our Compulsions, if you are so inclined.  I had a simple event recently that highlighted the act of compassion towards myself.  I know Mary knows what she is talking about but knowing and experiencing the phenomena are two completely different things.  Both of my kids went off in different directions for the first week of summer.  Four years ago on a Sunday,  I watched Mallory drive off on a bus towards camp, a destination 6 hours away for the first time, and I cried uncontrollably.  I couldn't contain it, and I couldn't pull it together to attend church.  Four years later, we were going to church on another Sunday, yet Mallory was already gone to Texas and we were going to be bringing Riley to catch the bus for a weeklong mission trip. As I got dressed that morning, I immediately experienced a strong wave of "I've got to cry" sadness.

And then something brilliant happened if I do say so myself.  In that wave, I immediately accepted the fact that I was going to cry my eyes out and deemed that it was okay.  NO BIG DEAL. I packed up makeup to refresh myself so that I could go to church.  And I went on with my morning and the sad wave of energy passed.

I didn't resist the energy, or judge it.  I know how much I love my girls and I'm watching them grow up and be independent, which I didn't learn until my forties.  Four years ago,  I was probably crying for my own self who was scared of everything and transferring it to Mallory. She was totally fine and excited. But it doesn't matter why I cried.  This time,  I ACCEPTED IT.  My goal here is self acceptance and love.

Energy comes and goes. Learning compassion and curiosity towards myself, opens my heart to those around me and in the world.  It's my new practice.

Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa feelings.  Again in my heart.

Namaste.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

I Killed the Xanax (And What Do Boundaries Really Look Like)

I had a dentist appointment at 10:00 am a few Fridays ago.  Around 8:30 that morning, I began to have slight nerves.  It was the second appointment to complete putting a new crown in.  The last appointment should have lasted an hour but instead it was an excruciating three hours.  I now have secure knowledge that I am completely claustrophobic of being trapped in a dental chair with two people in my grill, especially when the drill comes out.  (The other most important fact I learned: it takes an hour for Xanax to kick in completely.)

And I judge myself for this. 

I have judged myself that I can't buck up, and get through.  Everyone else can, right?  At times, there is a constant belittling of myself in my mind that I'm not enough.  I have awareness of this voice now, and that awareness is the beginning of extinguishing it.  And I do so, bit by bit.

It has become apparent that I need "help" to get through dental work over the last few years.  I had a panic attack towards the end of a root canal over a year ago because my Xanax dose wasn't appropriate. I bared through until the end because I knew the dentist was almost finished and he would have had to start over.  So for this first crown appointment,  I took the right dosage but only around 15-20 minutes before I left.  I didn't know that I needed an hour.

I just didn't know. 

And I judged myself.

As they bustled around me, shots were injected, preparations made and the drill ran to remove the injured tooth came out and, I put my hand up and said I can't do this.  I was having full out panic. It feels like the world is closing in and all I want to do is escape. And there was no way, I could gut through it this time.  I couldn't breath my way through, I couldn't think positive thoughts. I couldn't imagine happy places and I said no.

Even though we waited over an hour for the medicine to kick in,  I still couldn't do it.  It's like the full out panic killed the Xanax.

So after my Dr. consulted another physician, our next step was nitrous oxide.  I hadn't ever used laughing gas but I knew this work had to be done, and that I shouldn't leave without completing it.  It had been hard to come to this appointment.  So on comes the small nose mask.  (I also don't like being put under either so this was trippy as well)   I couldn't stop talking at this point to focus on breathing the gas in as I should have. But you see, the floodgates had opened and my "secret" was out, and it was "way out" and I could talk about it now.  There had been a miscommunication with my dentist about dental anxiety and this lack of communication bothered me.  In order to clear it up, I would have had to speak up, take up his time and admit my weakness.  During a call to reschedule the crown appointment because I didn't want to go back in, I talked to one of his assistants about my anxiety.  Turns out she had done a lot of research because her son has it as well, and she was the one who helped get me back into the chair.  At least one person in the office understood and that helped.  But I still hadn't talked to the dentist.

And I still haven't. And that is okay. I spoke up. I imagine picture perfect scenarios and conversations where I speak my truth and my feelings bravely and eloquently and the other person totally gets it and embraces me (HA HA HA)  That is not reality.   It's more about setting boundaries and if those aren't respected, you have to back away.

The Dentist doesn't have to understand everything about me. I just have to raise my hand and say, I can't do this.  Let's figure out another way.

This is called a boundary. 

And it doesn't matter if the other person understands my feelings or not.  Not everyone is going to understand and that's the whole point of why you have the boundary in the first place.

This is where I am at this stage of life.  I stayed quiet a long time and never wanted to rock the boat. But that is unsufferable.  If I don't speak up for myself, who will?

I have pushed myself to do things I never thought I would ever do. Plenty of uncomfortable feelings, have been gutted through.  But I will not do so anymore in the dental chair.  I will take whatever medicine works and am thankful for it's existence.

And I'm beginning to lessen the judgment.

And in a most unexpected fashion, at the end of the last appointment, I had THE best conversation with my dentist, not about anxiety, but about spiritual practices and the Trinity. I was not anticipating this scenario at all.  I simply adore talking about spiritual practices with like minded persons.

Life is full of surprises.  This was one of them.  I call them God Winks.

Namaste.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Turning Fifty, Donna Summer, & Unused Creativity

Yesterday afternoon, I was mundanely picking up my lovely child from volleyball practice. Prior to the drive, I had been busy planning an event that I'm in charge of for the first time and my mind has been filled with details, emails and a little anxiety.  On the way home, I tuned to the 70's station of Sirius Radio.  The first few bars of a song played and I quickly grabbed the volume knob and turned it up as loud as I thought Mallory could take it.

And then I turned it up a little more.

My energy level shot up.  I began bracing to happily belt out words to a long ago familiar song.



~Stringed instruments~

"Someone left the cake out in the rain, I don't think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it and I'll never have that recipe again....AGAIN

~Insert wicked laugh and groovy dancing music....

I have no idea what the lyrics mean but I bellowed out the ones that I remembered. And I laughed while doing so because what does that cake represent.  I haven't known for thirty years.  But my spirit lifted.  My mood shifted.

I LOVE MUSIC.

I love how unbelievably fast that music can change my energy and lift my soul up.

While I walked the dogs this morning, I began a You Tube play list of groovy dancing music from my era of the late 70's and 80's.  Why have I never pulled together all of the music that makes me so happy?  I became lost in it and will pay the price by going to the later, more advanced yoga class.  Oh well, my intuition has told me I needed to step up anyway.

Music, the arts, writing and more falls under being creative. Creativity comes from a higher power.  Unused creativity is not benign.  I remember when I heard that in a podcast with Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert.  That WOKE me.  What Brene learned from the research was that when you do not use what you have been given, it can eat you up inside and make you sick with resentment, grief, and heartbreak.  Ohhhhh.   That gift of God must be used.  I need to write.  I need to dance.  I need to turn up the volume on what pleases my soul.  And we are all creative people, it's not just the arts.  It can encompass using your brain to think out of the box.  What holds me back?  Time and worrying about what other people think. But when I make the time and let go and use it...

It makes me a more LOVING and JOYFUL person (which is why God planned it that way)

I do need to stop worrying about what others opinions are of me.  I am turning fifty this year.  It is a decent number milestone.  It is making an impression on me because my birthday isn't until August and it's been on my mind!!  At this point in my life, I have to get on the horse or not ride at all and be sick with heartbreak and grief.  I can feel it.   It is also the tenth year of writing this blog. How did that happen?  I have been finding myself and my soul, slowly, through this writing and other means.  Once again, the point about finding my authenticity is that it is divinely given.  As I peel back the layers of stories I tell yourself, of who I  think I'm supposed to be, and find out what makes my soul sing, I find the Creator.

The very essence of the beginning of life and LOVE.

So I will try a little harder to fit Donna Summer and 80's music in but also find time for quiet which is where my writing naturally evolves.

Namaste.

It's a great podcast!! Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert: Season 1, Episode 12: Brene Brown on "Big Strong Magic"

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