Friday, January 20, 2017

The Lesson of a Donald Trump Presidency

I have started many post election missives.  And I write and I get worked up and angry and that is not the place I want to come from and I don't finish them.  I'm really going to try to finish in the spirit that it is intended today.  But that spirit is being lost as events and facts continue to unfold and it's even more disheartening.  What is going on is not about politics as usual whatsoever.

I see and hear the frustration on all sides.  The frustration that led unemployed workers in Erie, PA to vote for Trump out of desperation even though they wished he would stop talking a certain way.  Coal miners need jobs yet they are benefiting from ACA and don't think he will really dismantle it.  (How does one choose which thing to believe of what he says? )  I understand those who want change and there was too much progress to handle.  Two months ago, I was stunned but understood those reasons why he was elected.  But now, it's a different story.  There is Russian involvement and that unfolds each day, and Comey and FBI interference.

There is also no transparency of any sort with the businesses that PEOTUS and his family hold, just his word is given to us.  And Kellyanne Conway says not to listen to his words but know his heart.  The heart who degrades anybody who disagrees with him, openly mocked a disabled reporter and grabs pussy because he can.

In the words of the Kentwood native, Oops, I did it again,  I started going off.  Deep breath. Each time I write it boils down to this, the most important occurrence from Nov 8th was...

Decency died.

Do I have to list the reasons why?  If you are reading this, then not likely.

The list is long and there are new reasons each and every day.

Does he really care about Americans?  Or did he just want to WIN!  Did he want retaliation from Obama humiliating him at the 2011 White House Correspondence dinner?  The lesson that his father taught him was all about winning and not being a loser.

This notion of winning really goes deep with a painful tragedy within his family. His father, Fred, Sr. and Donald repeatedly told his brother, Fred Jr, who was eight years older than Donald, that he was a loser because he did not have that killer instinct for the family business.  Fred wanted to be a pilot, and he did become a pilot but was a real disappointment to those two men.  Fred Jr. drank himself to death by the age of 43.  I'm sure that instilled in Donald even further to be a winner, or what he designates as a winner.   He is still seeking approval from his deceased father and from all of us around him.  That is his low self worth on display.  (It takes one to know one, I spot it because I got it!)

This next fact, explained so much of Trump's behavior to me and in particular, behavior that is so intolerable to me.  Roy Cohn, the deceased mob and McCarthy era lawyer, taught him to lie and keep repeating lies until people think it's the truth.  Even today when there is audio or video footage to the contrary, this seems to make no difference at all.  Student Trump did finally learn a lesson and he learned it really well.  Truth and facts do not matter.  Double down.

He has not stepped up into being more Presidential as I meagerly hoped, that is not who he is.  He has tweeted in retaliation throughout the transition, the business elite have been appointed for cabinet positions some of whom don't even know the job they are being assigned or are terribly unqualified, and there is no untangling himself from his businesses.  The potential for conflict of interest is huge.  The first Trump White House Press Briefing by Sean Spicer included an infomercial for his DC hotel.  

He has historically low poll numbers of any President before he is sworn in at 40%.

I am not alone in thinking this man is not ready for the job.

But he was elected and with unprecedented foreign involvement.  Yet, there is a peaceful transition of power.  And then what will happen next?

I read an article in Psychology Today by Karl Albrecht, PhD that described who Trump will be as a President.  It fits with everything that I've read and watched of who he is.  There won't be meetings or information shared by those with knowledgable of the given area because he doesn't have the patience or attention span for that.  His style of leadership will be a fly by the seat of his pants and a competition of those around him who can get his attention the longest and compete for their interests.

A concern that stands out to me is that when a tragic event like the Sandy Hook massacre occurs, can you imagine PEOTUS comforting the families or the United States as a whole?  His thin skin and ego, is all about himself.  Does he know how to be empathetic?

Is he going to grow up?  Is he going to learn, that not everything is about himself?

Now that I've gotten a little bit out of my system, I will attempt to take a different turn.

I do think that with this election, there has been a positive.  He has galvanized those who disagree with him in solidarity!  The marches of women and others demonstrating are going to be amazing. His words, "Nasty Woman" were a rallying call. There is activism out the wazoo to let Senators and Representatives know what their constituents want.  There was a huge response to Republicans trying to gut an ethics panel at the beginning of the month.  I have taken to several different means to communicate with my representatives.  These people in government work for us and we are not going to let them forgot that.

I have to speak up and that is not comfortable for me at all.

But in the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller: I saw these words this summer in Boston at a Holocaust memorial.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

My hope and prayer is that Trump can continue to be an agent of change, just not for what his intentions are, whatever they are.  I have to pray for this man and for those who surround him.  This is a tall order.   I can easily pray for life, liberty and the pursuit of justice for all people of the United States.  All people including those of different skin colors and races, different religions, women, those with disabilities and of different sexual orientations, all of us.  We are all brothers and sisters.  We are all in this together. A divine power created us all.  Now to actually send positive thoughts to someone whom I have seen no decency in? That is how I have to grow.

I pray that as he takes on the awesome responsibility of this job, it transforms him.  One can hope.

The only way that I know to move forward is to love.   I have to love and care for those around me, including myself.   Even though decency died, I have to love those whom I disagree with politically and move forward.  I have to dig really, really deep.  Because that lack of decency is born out of fear.  Fear of not having a job again, fear of the color of the United States changing, fear of a woman leader, and fear of change.  And the opposite of fear is love.  I have to dig really deep to live in peace that all will be well.  This is the ultimate teacher.  Love big even though it is not being demonstrated by the man in the Presidency.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Sending love out.  I will walk my dogs now.  I will work on my budget. I will clean and do laundry and tonight,  I will pick up my kids from school, I will go to my Spiritual Formation conference and listen to the topic of Holy Listening. That is the perfect antidote for today.


Monday, January 16, 2017

I Have Enrolled in Seminary

Not really, but sort of.

I am enrolled in a 2 year paraprofessional certification for Spiritual Formation Leadership.  What is that, you ask?  I'm not sure really, but it requires furthering my relationship with the Divine within and going out of my comfort zone.  So here I am.

It is a joint venture between the Ministry of Spiritual Formation of my church, First United Methodist in Baton Rouge and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Illinois. I'm not sure how I ended up here (oh yes I do), but here I am.

I wrote that a few weeks back and reading again now, I just noticed that the words "Here I Am" were at the end of both of the above paragraphs.  That happens to be one of my very favorite hymns.  It make me want to sing and cry all at the same time.  No coincidence that I wrote those words.  It gives me goose bumps every time.

I am going to determine that this certification is a good thing.  It is comprised of several conferences over 2 years.  And the most important part is taking on different spiritual practices on a near daily basis: keeping a prayer journal, Centering prayer, audio listenings, book reports,  developing a rule of life, Lectio divina,  and small group meetings.

Oh my gosh.  That's a lot and since grad school, I've never been very disciplined in reading activities.  Can I be disciplined?  I have been very intentional in my thought processes and changing those that don't work for me. Guess what?  That is the spiritual practice of Self-Examination.  (Check that practice off the list!!  One down!!)

My spiritual homework is pushing me to do practices that make me feel uncomfortable and are painful.  I am healing the past and... thought processes that did not bring me closer to God.   These new practices, although awkward and challenging, open me up even further to the divine within.  I wasn't ready to read the words or hear the words or speak the exercises before me until now.   Some healing had to take place to make me ready to take in, here it   And love always is the answer.   But love comes not in the form that I expect, so I have come to expect the unexpected. (But of course still some yearning in the ways that I think it should be)

I had put off starting many of the above described homework assignments.   A deadline loomed and I dug in.  It finally hit me why I delayed sitting down to tackle the materials.  This work is emotional.  My fundamentalist baggage is deep.  Whatever I learned when I was younger did not bring me to know how much God loves me.  I read within the first sentence of a chapter on Self Examination: ...God is the searcher of every human heart.

That brought tears to my eyes. Wow.  Eight words did me in. I'm in that every human heart and I believe it. God is seeking me out every day, all day, with a ceaseless love.  (I just have to pay attention and let go of my expectations!)  This is a stark contrast to how I felt about God before.  I felt God was out there (hand as far away from the body as it can get and tilted upward because you know that's where heaven is)  and relentlessly judging me.  I failed in the judgement that I thought was going on each and every time.  What a difference to know a higher power is always there with LOVE, a ceaseless love not judgement.

My former black and white thinking on God (and life) takes time to dismantle.  Now, I desperately need to hear the notion of original love not original sin.  We were born of love, as love.  It takes time to take this in.  People and religions make up rules and dogma instead of doing the hard work of allowing love in.

So I am in seminary, sort of. I wouldn't have ever thought that was true.  I just was invited to take this step and it made sense to follow it.   I am pushing myself once again, uncomfortably into new territory.  This is growth, though.  I cannot grow and evolve standing still or sitting and cowering in the corner as I was accustomed to.  I am dragging myself slowly bit by bit but I know without a doubt I'm on the right path.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Years Day 2017 - What Does It Mean?

It's a new year!  What does that mean?  What has changed? The ground is still saturated from the rains that lasted all day on New Year's Eve and yesterday. The sun is still not out today and more rain is falling.  So here we are.  A brand spanking new year.  What does it mean?

We rang in the new year quietly.  We had a delicious dinner visiting with George's sister and family from out of town and they headed back to their hotel several hours before midnight.

Riley watched Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve on her own.  Mallory really wanted to stay up so the rest of us watched "Miracles from Heaven" waiting for midnight.  In true fashion, I did fall asleep and make them watch the ending again.  But at 11:55pm, Riley joined us on the couch making our core four celebration and we rang in the New Year together in central standard time.   The ball had already dropped in New York but they dropped a Fleur de Lis live in New Orleans and by 12:02am, we were heading to bed.  Check please!

I'll have to say the first two days of the new year feels sort of empty because it is just the same as the last day of 2016.  It seems as though there is an expectation that is should be brand spanking new!    It is a new year, month, and day and opportunity for a new slate yet the dishes, Legos and laundry are still sitting there waiting.   I gave up resolutions years ago as those don't work.  But what I have learned is that intention is the way to go for me.

Intention has worked for me and I'm not really sure how or why I started I just knew things needed to change.  For one thing, there has to be a very passionate desire to change something.  Intention has been my steely focus on a daily basis on my thoughts (and healing!)  I was very resolute. I haven't been this resolute about anything before.   I didn't start out to be intentional, it just happened along the way... First, I had to become aware that I had negative thoughts that needing changing.  As I woke up to that voice in my head with the runny dialogue I discovered the the story I told myself was "I can't" all the freaking time.  Not a good thing.

After practice, practice, practice, when a negative thought popped in, I take note.  And slowly, I dismantle them.  I ask the critical question, "Is this true?"  Really true?   I used intentionality every day, to change this.  Therapy woke me up but that was just the beginning.  I self taught with many teachers that I listened to, watched videos and read.   Along with intentions, I learned I needed to be in the moment.  Persons like Eckhart Tolle, Gary Zukav, Michael Singer and Byron Katie.  Anyone who taught about mindfulness.  There's so much to this process of becoming awakened.  More later.

(Jesus' taught this too - the renewing of the mind but that blog will come later.)

This past year, I did not write nearly as much, only 20 blogs, compared to 50-60 in previous years.  I had profound thoughts that came into my mind, but they didn't come through me.    Politics anyone?    I have felt blocked and hindered.  I feel like something is passing me by.  It is not a good thing at all.   I have an intention this year to write and blog more.  I need to process my life this way.  I do not feel like I'm in the flow and may energy is sagging not tuning in to my authenticity.  The older I get, I need to listen to my intuition and do what I know works for me.  Shutting out the assault of politics to my senses is going to be one way to help me stay intentional.   Sitting down for my Spiritual Formation homework is another.  It centers me fairly quickly.  

For me, this new year means zeroing in on intention again.   The intention of listening to my intuition and the God nudges that come in my thoughts.  And putting those down even if they are not perfectly stated.  Now that I have spent quite some time clearing some of the negative ones, the light is coming in.  Alright, 2017 here we go!