Growing with Our Founding Documents

So much controversy lately has me thinking deeply about the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Many are dismissing both as products of slaveowners; because the writers were flawed, the documents are no longer valued goes the thinking.  With a lifelong tendency to see both sides — a product of constantly being in the middle wihtin my family’s arguments — I see a path down the middle.

I’m a person of words, so for me, even over the years since I realized our Founders were far more seriously flawed than our history books led us to believe, the brilliance of the words they crafted still shine.  Largely helped by my long-ago Constitutional Law class in law school, I see a Constitution that has been able to grow and evolve over time.

When you read through the landmark cases of generations you see how the carefully honed document left room to interpret broader truths and equities than the men who wrote it lived within.  They were bright enough and good enough at writing, I don’t think it was an accident that, even though they created restrictions about gender and color, many of the actual words of both the Declaration and the Constitution leave room to dream of literal equality for all, though they may not have foreseen where it led.

The stepping stones from one SCOTUS decision to another also reflect both how we have grown as people in our understanding of what “equality” really means and how the interpretation of the Constitution has grown too.  In those broad words about equality Blacks have found the inspiration to press for them to be true for everyone and that history is one every child should be learning in school.

As I reflect on Independence Day, I see room to reject the flaws of the Founders and still celebrate the brilliance of what they created and how they left a foundation with room to evolve.  At this moment we are in a new stage of evolution in making the notions of justice and equality for all, without exception, true.  Sometimes evolution in law drags us forward, sometimes thinkers who are ahead of the time push the law to change. Together we grow.  

Covid Gratitude 3

Garbanzos over sweet potato

Cooking Easy

 

My cooking habit has long been time-consuming complicated recipes, especially favoring French and Italian cooking and their many layers of flavors. For years I’ve been saying I wanted to learn how to cook some faster, easier things. But, other than a foray 15 or more years ago into Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, I’ve never developed a repertoire.

As I’ve figured out stocking the kitchen and thinking through what that means in terms of meals, I’ve been studying and trying quicker, easier meals to fix, especially since I”m now providing many more meals for my mother than I used to.  I’m grateful not only for a slowly building repertoire of easy, but I actually love some of the things I’ve found.

Baking and freezing potatoes, both Russet and sweet, has already become a standby. Two of my faves:

(1) Mash a sweet potato or two with a couple of dates, 1-2 T of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. For breakfast, heat 1 to 1-1/2 cups in a bowl, add a spoonful of almond butter and a handful of homemade granola and stir up.

(2) make a batch of spiced garbanzo beans with spinach or kale, stir up a sauce of greek yogurt, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a T or 2 of honey or maple syrup, defrost a sweet potato, heat with a helping of the beans and then drizzle with sauce.

Yum to both. (and both recipes will be going up on the Scribblings blog).

Rachael Ray taught me on my long ago journey that chicken tenders are a great friend for easy cooking. I’ve been making a quicky and easy pesto chicken recipe using skinless tenders for a few years and now I’ve added a baked lemon chicken with asparagus thrown into the pan halfway through.

Still looking at recipes and making plans for expanding the list of easy go-tos — especially looking for toppings to pair with either kind of baked potato.  My stores include gluten free pasta as well as jarred sauces and frozen vegetables–which I never used to keep. I’ve learned it’s easy to make a batch of meatballs to store in freezer and then just cook up some pasta with veggies steaming in basket above, thaw and heat some meatballs and tada. So looking at more pasta sauce possibilities.

It feels a bit like a burden lifted as I’ve felt I “should” cook more but have not had energy to do the former norm of elaborate meals.  This new path of cooking easy and fast recipes means I’m cooking much more often than I’ve done in years and I’m really loving having more control over ingredients, choices, etc.

Another way in which the odd circumstances into which Covid has thrust us has paid off in a positive way for me.

 

Covid Gratitude 2

 

Full Pantry

I was never a cook who kept a pantry stocked for possible long term cooking.  Had an assortment of staples I’d keep on hand, usually enough to make one recipe of each.  And I’ve always tended to cook kind of elaborate dishes in big quantities. So I’d make a list of what I needed for that particular meal and get exactly what I needed.

In recent years, shopping, like most things, has been pretty hit or miss as my energy goes up and down. So when the pandemic hit and advice began circulating about stocking up for a couple of months worth, I quickly realized we were way behind the curve.

It became an interesting challenge, given all the panic buying, to get well stocked. I’ve been keeping lists going on three different grocery sites, checking in often to see who has what and which place on a given day seems likely to provide a fair portion of the list. But slowly built a store.

But, not having thought in terms of being that well stocked, I kept realizing more things that should have been on my list. And then that I didn’t really get enough of others. Slogging through order after order in which a number of things didn’t show up, I finally got us to a place of well-enough stocked to feel comfortable.  Not hoarding piles, just enough.

Quite a learning curve. While I can’t say I appreciated every moment of it, I am grateful for attaining a better sense of how to keep a well stocked pantry. That includes gratitude for a series of really good articles by various chefs in WaPo with their suggestions of items for a well-stocked pantry (some of which admittedly left me blinking and going, “Geez, wtf would I do with that stuff??? 🙂 ). Especially grateful for discerning what allows me to make which selection of things.

I’m so much more tuned in to shopping not just for the meal I plan to make tomorrow but for being prepared to cook from on-hand supplies.  Feeling glad to have acquired this skill. And I have to say, probably wouldn’t have happened without Covid-19.

Dear young progressives

Twitter is the main place where I get all political (though I do share some things on FB when I know the specific topics are of interest to friends) and I’m following quite a few young progressives. I love that we finally have a whole new crop of excited advocates for change. Seems like us old hippies have been waiting forever for another generation to take up the banner.

But I’m also seeing a lot of the strain of “if I don’t like everything about candidate, I won’t vote”. that has been the bane of Democrats for years. I’m not unsympathetic as I’ve felt like I was holding my nose and voting many times over the years.  I’m just practical and I knew the corporate hold was too strong. And maybe at another time I would say, sure, go ahead and hold out for your ideals.

But now is not the moment. I think many of you are so young you don’t know about how third parties, not voting and (in Reagan’s case) Democrats defecting to Republican brought us Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, all of whom contributed all they could to bringing us to where we are now.  Were their democratic opponents progressive or offering any real change? Nope. But would they have been better and managed to do more to stem this right wing conservative tide Reagan started than the Republicans? Yes they would have. Know how much we all love JImmy Carter now? That’s the guy Dems wouldn’t vote for in 1980.

But this time is worse. This time there is a right wing wave of Republicans who wish to take down democracy. They want an authoritarian dictatorship. And they’re already lining up tools. No one seems to be taking the antifa as terrorists declaration seriously because there is no such group. But that’s the worst part. Having made the declaration, because there is no actual group, they can call any Democrat, liberal, progressive, etc. an antifa — therefore a terrorist — and start rounding us up into camps.

I doubt they’ll be so bold before the election, but trust me, if you let Trump be elected again, you can kiss any chance at any kind of progressive agenda good bye.  Probably for decades. Until there is a revolution to overthrow the dictator. In the meantime, millions will have been thrown in camps or murdered, the Constitution and the U.S. as we know it will be over.

You won’t just not have a progressive president, you’ll watch every progressive in Congress being executed or jailed, every liberal judge , executed or jailed. every leader of a liberal group, executed or jailed. This is no time for playing around with the snowflake bit of refusing to vote or voting for a no-chance-to-win third party. If you want the possiblity of moving to a truly progressive agenda in 2024–or being able to vote at all, you need to just Vote Blue.   And yes, I know, the whole idea stinks. Save us from DJT. Do it anyway.

I love your enthusiasm and that you have seen beyond what most leftists of my era couldn’t see — the power of global corporations and their hold on politics.  I was into studying the Power Elite, so I kind of got it back then but couldn’t get people to listen.  You get it. Hold on to what you know. Plan for 2024 after we get the right wing out of their positions of power. But this time, vote to get them out before it’s too late.

And, as I’ve noted in my People Power posts, you also need to expand your thinking beyond government. The only way to break global corporate power is to destroy their profits. And we do that with how we spend. It means we need more local banks, health centers, manufacturing operations, food markets, etc. to provide the alternatives to Amazon and Walmart and Bank of America, etc. This is possibly more important than getting rid of corporate Democrats.

So I’d suggest, hold your nose, vote for Biden and then every down ballot progressive you can and put your enthusiasm into starting local co-ops and moving consumers to boycott global corporations. Been reading and thinking about this stuff for 50 years. So maybe I”m just over the hill.  Or maybe I know a bit…

Covid Gratitude 1

Gratitude

An interesting phenomenon has been occurring for me throughout the Covid-19 crisis — as the pandemic causes me to try different things, change old habits, rethink things, etc. I’m finding many reasons for gratitude. Haven’t decided if this will be weekly or randomly, but have decided to launch a Covid Gratitude series.

Immune Boosting

This one actually started before we knew there was a crisis, when my mother fell and broke her hip.  Because I knew hospitals are a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, I took her a bottle of Aireborne chewables to take one daily and I started drinking daily (and then eventually every other day) glasses of the fizzy version.

We’d been bucking up for two months by the time the warnings started coming, just about the time she was coming home from skilled nursing.

I’ve used the Chinese anti-viral herbal formula, Ganmaoling, for years (close to 30!) to ward off colds and flus.  Long ago they used to put a preventive dose prescription in the instructions, 3 tablets, 3x/day for 3 days.  So as soon as she came home I put us through the preventive regimen.

Through the advice of some friends I also started us on elderberry gummies, taken every other day.  And I already have been drinking turmeric ginger tea every day for some years (and since Mom doesn’t like the tea, I make her a tincture she takes every day) — some studies have found it more effective than flu shots because of its immune boosting qualities.

So we have felt decently prepared for this crisis. The one time she had an in person doctor’s appointment after this started, we were stuck in the waiting room being sneezed and coughed on by a family of four who all had something. And amazingly neither of us came down with anything, which I attribute in part to our boosted immunity.

Feeling very grateful that not-such-happy circumstances led to us working on immunity before we knew there would be an emergency need for it!  And grateful that I know a bunch of alternative health/remedy stuff to assist. I’m not saying I think this makes us totally immune, just that I feel like we’re safer than we might have been and that gives me peace of mind.

Delving into anger

Angry, Frustrated Woman

Screaming it out

In my recent post I mentioned feeling angry and doing some exploring. The process of looking within has revealed some new pockets of anger and also circled me back to an old one, with new tendrils to explore.

I’ve been using the Steve Nobel meditation on transforming anger one or twice a week. Must admit I’ve been so tired I’ve fallen asleep during it more often than I’ve consciously made it through.  But it has been having an impact. Most of the time while doing it I haven’t been aware of specific issues, just a feeling of energy having shifted/moved when I’m through.

Part of the meditation involves looking for anger in your body. During one of my earlier sessions, I quickly focused on my left hip/pelvis area, where I’ve been experiencing a lot of pain.  And noted one of the central areas in the tight pattern revisited an old pattern body work had seemingly cleared.

When I was 9 or 10 and taking riding lessons, we went out in the countryside by the stables one hot August day. Hadn’t rained in ages and the ground was cement hard. We came to a place in the trail with a very short jump/fence across. I rode a gentle horse I loved, who usually needed encouragement to even move fast. We hadn’t gotten to jumping yet but the jump was so low the instructor said we should have no trouble as the horses could pretty much step over it.

My horse took a look at the jump and decided we were show jumping over a 5 foot obstacle. Broke into a gallop shortly before the jump and flew into the air, then galloped a few steps and came to an abrupt stop. I flew over her head and landed on my low back and hips.  The pain was horrible and I wasn’t even sure I could get up.

The riding master unsympathetically informed me crying and help were not allowed, I had to get back on that horse and keep riding. And that I wasn’t really hurt. Years later as I struggled with muscle issues throughout my body that accident turned out to have created a pattern that plagued me for years.

Remembering the story, I realized how much suppressed fury I held, not only for that incident but for a general attitude in my childhood of stoicism and sucking it up no matter how much it hurt.  And more recent fury as I’ve realized how thoroughly western medicine dismisses muscles as a potential source of trouble when there’s been an accident.  So many of my muscles problems started with accidents after which no one offered treatment of any sort for muscle trauma. [pretty much any accident to your body sets up the probability of muscles tightening around pain and if no one does anything, it will generally settle into a pattern that then becomes worse and also impacts other muscles over time]

Getting in touch with this pocket of anger seems to have helped relieve the issues in my hip — not gone, but well on the mend.

Looking directly at my anger over the lies so many Americans are believing with no willingness to look at contrary evidence, I began to note another childhood issue.  In my house there was often a presumption of wrongness. That I was doing something wrong, that if I weren’t martial-ed and monitored, I probably wouldn’t do well.  I’d hit other issues in that general bailiwick but not specifically this one. I could see that part of my anger has been having folks “from the other side” question my careful research and insistence on dealing in facts.

All that questioning of my abilities in childhood has left me always feeling I have to prove myself, have to work harder, and still will likely not succeed.  I’ve worked a good bit on anger over some of that, but seem to still have more. And a side issue of anger at being questioned in arenas where I have worked hard to know my stuff, to feel I’m “good” at something.

Still exploring at this point.  Since hip is doing much better and holding I’m hopeful I’ve cleared the anger in there.  Feeling there’s still some more anger to unearth, just don’t attach it so far to an area of my body.

Two of the best pieces of advice I’ve had on this path were (1) from the transpersonal therapist who set me on this path: it all operates in an upward spiral. You keep spiraling back to the same issues but each time you’ve moved up a level, its hold is less and it’s easier to release; and (2) from the facilitator of my Fischer Hoffman group: every issue is like a daisy chain with many other issues connected, some of which also connect to one another.  Unearthing one doesn’t mean you’re done, you’ve just started moving along the chain.

I think of those teachings often as I work my way through deep issues.  I’ve also been hearing we’re in a time when final aspects of old issues are rising up to be released.  The  back issue related to riding accident definitely feels like something old came roaring back for a final realization. The other feels like some combo of the spiral upward to see the same issue again and also seeing another tendril stretching out on the daisy chain.

For the first 8-10 years after doing the Fischer Hoffman process work, I regularly mined for issues and worked through the process to release them. Then a bunch of deep body work started opening issues from the muscles and I did less delving as memories and associated issues floated up as muscles opened. For a while now I don’t wind up running into issues as often, but I’m aware this is the work of a lifetime.  Always another level on the spiral, frequently another tendril on the chain.

Teetering: “Righteous Anger” and Compassion

As mentioned off and on for a while, I’m struggling with anger over so man things that are going on. Periodically I realize I’m back screaming at certain “leaders” every time their faces appear, grinding my teeth as I scan social media and follow links to read more, and, a couple of weeks ago when a station I was watching moved from old shows to airing some kind of evangelical church service, I found myself angrily making up words to the hymn they started with and singing: “My Jesus hates you, and we kill, kill, kill…”

Being self-aware enough to see this is DEFINITELY in conflict with my beliefs about holding a space of love, peace and compassion, I keep circling back to questioning the source of the anger and how to shift it. And one puzzle I constantly come back to, is how to be “righteously” angry and yet hold that space.

Many spiritual leaders and writers feel there is such a thing as righteous anger and that, when great wrongs are being committed, we must all feel that anger and do something toward righting the wrong. None seem to address how such anger impacts the energy of the web nor do they seem to offer much advice about how to feel that angry and still find the love and compassion with which to “do something” but do it with nonviolence.

I have long been unconvinced that “righteous” anger is any different, energetically speaking, than any other. It worries me when I react with anger because I can feel how it takes hold and shoves the loving, peaceful aspect of me out of function. And since I believe the energy space each of us holds adds up to the totality of energy that is All That Is, every time one of us is angry instead of loving, our energetic contribution to the web is the energy of anger.

Most of the spiritual leaders who say it’s fine to be outraged over injustice, etc. but to be nonviolent in what you do about it, seem remarkably silent on the question of how to move from the angry place of the one to the compassionate place of the other. I’d guess the majority of people aren’t well equipped to transition on a dime from place to the other.

I see 3 main arenas we as individuals can work on to help us in recognizing the wrongs that need to be righted but stay compassionate and develop non violent solutions:

  1. Ferreting out repressed anger (or other deeply held negative emotions). I’ve noted the above video before and I really like how deeply it works on transforming anger but there are many other methods, including “process” work like Fischer-Hoffman, the Diamond Heart approach, transpersonal psychology, etc. Just find the mode that works for you.
  2. Being able to stay present in the moment is really important. If you can’t even stay conscious enough to realize anger has grabbed you and it’s time to shift away, how you can move into non violent responses? I include more than just sitting vipassana; chanting (sung or spoken), movement practices like yoga or qi gong, and some guided meditations like yoga nidra are all ways that people of different temperaments can tune into the present.
  3. Long ago I read some spiritual leader saying the key to coping with emotions and events coming at you is to allow them to pass through you without affecting.  One of many teachings that’s easier said than done. I think it takes a lot of practice and dedication to reach a place where you don’t even have to think about staying in the space of lovingkindness and compassion and calm.

There are many ways to work on holding that space.  One factor is how you “feed” yourself in your life.  Are you doing practices like metta or singing chats or meditating (whatever form) regularly? Are you reading books like Tara Brach’s 

Ripples from John Prine

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Upon hearing news of John Prine on a respirator with Covid-19, I was surprised at how much it affected me. I don’t think I ever saw him play and I never owned one of his records. As the days went by and I read comments from people I know who knew him and read accounts of his life, heard clips of songs I could surprisingly sing along with, I realized his early days in the Chicago music scene touched a lot of places around me.

The more I looked around, the more I became immersed in memories of the fabulous music scene in Chicago at the time I attended Northwestern University, Amazingrace Coffeehouse, friends who were involved at Amazingrace, musicians with whom I became acquainted just by going so often to hear them play…  And even though I didn’t cross paths with him, there he was in lots of places. Partial list of concerts at Grace over the years: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/d/1jdo4ecZXxPpf3JSIGaBdwVudT_UtMUFnpxIS-zeJHOw/pub?output=html

It turns out he was considered part of a “big three” in the folk scene emanating from the Old Town School of Folk Music.  The other two were Steve Goodman and Bonnie Koloc and I saw both of them dozens of times, both at Amazingrace and various other clubs around Chicago. Prine played Grace often enough I gather they were all friends with him. I saw enough people there only once that it’s possible I saw him and just don’t remember as I know there are quite a few of those — at this stage with few exceptions I mainly remember the ones I went back to see many times.

The group that founded Amazingrace came together at NU the year before I arrived, part of anti-war/Kent State protests. The year I hit campus, the group got permission to use an area of the (then) student union, Scott Hall, to bring in music acts and serve food. I think that was where I first saw Steve Goodman and fell in love with his music. [Great piece in Rolling Stone last summer on Goodman: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/looking-back-on-john-prine-buddy-steve-goodman-860284/ ]

Before long the venue moved to a quanset hut on campus.  The “Gracers” as we called them, were familiar to many of us on campus, both as activist leaders and front of house figures at the coffee house.  In those days, self-effacing, shy, and utterly lacking in self-confidence/worth, etc. I watched from afar but it never occurred to me I could be part of their –to me–lofty group.

However I wound up being friends with several people who were involved though not part of the central group. Out of those friendships I met some of the other Gracers, dated Steve Goodman’s road manager briefly, met John Burns (that’s him riding around with Prine in top video and playing some of the best guitar you’ll ever hear), who for some years played in Prine’s band… Amongst all those were enough Prine connections that I heard his music often (hence the familiarity with his songs), some stories on occasion, and now, in the midst of his illness and death, I saw lots of pained posts/commentary from people who knew and loved him who are devastated by the loss.

I never stopped listening to Koloc and Goodman, but something about this odyssey through so many faces from those days sent me journeying through those times.  I found Koloc playing with Steve Eisen (sax) and Howard Levy (harmonica) in the band (two more Chicago musicians I’d seen so many times with many bands) Jethro Burns (John’s father) playing with Goodman. (below Burns and Goodman performing one of my faves):

The music scene is so entwined with my NU memories… My time at NU always felt golden and for years nothing else measured up.  Then I realized the comparisons must stop and as I forged ahead on my spiritual journey I let go while still holding a sacred space in my heart for the friends, political awakening, musical journeys, etc.

In hindsight I can see how much more I could have done and been had I been as calm, outgoing, and confident then as I am now.  I don’t care much for regret, but if there’s anything that grabs me now and then, it’s sadness that my own inhibitions meant much more standing on the sidelines than I’d have liked.

Amazingrace has a FB page and as I read the many posts from those “on a pedestal” folks, I’m sorry I didn’t get to know them.  As I read every article my bereft friends posted about Prine, he seemed like an amazing guy and I’d have enjoyed being in the circle who knew him. 

The clubs and the musicians and the joy in the clubs, talking to band members, etc. circles around my love of music, which, at the time, had been a lifelong ambition.  Watching the ones whose music touched my soul, I kept trying to see what in them let them get up there and put out music from the depths.  Wondering what in me couldn’t quite do it.

[Koloc with Steve Eisen and Howard Levy in the band]:

The music dreams died when my one later band attempt went sideways and I found peace with just being a fan who sings in the shower. I’m grateful for the changes I can see, the many ways in which I’m more content, more happy with who I am than in those days.  But boy those were some magic times.  I’m sorry it was John Prine’s death that sparked this wander down memory lane, but there were a lot of lovely stops. Thanks JP! RIP

Tools for holding peace

I mentioned a while back that I’ve been struggling with the division and anger and finding myself angry much more often.  I keep hauling myself back to a place of equanimity and then suddenly there I am, screaming f**k you at a McConnell ad (if you live elsewhere, try to imagine being inundated with an ad in which he pretends the help for regular people in the stimulus package was spearheaded entirely by him…) or screaming and throwing things at the sight of the pumpkinhead.

I always know if I’m that angry, something in me is being triggered.  I also am figuring out I’m just enough of an empath that the huge amount of anger in the air affects me strongly as well. So I’ve been looking inward and working on clearing those things in me which contribute.  Two of Steve Nobel’s recent meditations have been really helping me bring some deep personal, ancestral and collective anger buried in me to the surface and also to release a lot of fear– especially that which others’ fear is engendering.

The one time I managed to get an appointment with Hanna for my hip issues, she began talking about this “Transforming Anger” meditation while working on one of the patterns and I understood she was feeling suppressed anger there. One of the times I did the meditation some of the stuck stuff in there released and, though it didn’t heal it all, it’s never been as bad since.

I’ve been alternating that one with another for releasing fear. Wasn’t sure I needed it at first, but I know there’s a lot of fear in the air right now, so thought I’d try it and realized there’s still some old fear from family stuff and some ancestral fear deep in there. Also that the energy of huge amounts of fear running through our society about the virus, the economy, etc. has permeated some layers of my being even though I don’t consciously share them.

I’ve had a very strong “hit” more than once that it’s really important for me right now to do each of these once or twice a week.  Along with a feeling this healing isn’t just for myself.

And for helping to raise my vibration and hold the space of love, I play this affirmation recording as I go to sleep both for naps and at night:

Soon I plan to add my old fave lovingkindness/Gayatri mantra chanting practice.

How about all of you?  What are you doing to hold the space of peace and compassion?  If you have a great meditation or other practice that’s on line, please throw in a link so others can try your faves.

 

Boomers, Revolution, Politics

I’m an old hippie boomer and never really stopped being a hippie. Nor did many of my friends. And everywhere I’ve lived I’ve pretty much wound up with a bunch of friends who were hippies in the day and/or live like hippies now. So many of the slurs the millenials keep tossing about boomers feel like they’re talking about some other group.

From that time forward I’ve been left of democrats in my leanings. Never particularly identified with another party like Socialist or Green, but my political sensibilities were shaped by the protest days and, most especially, Oscar Lange’s On the Economic Theory of Socialism. So my perspective favors the systems places like Denmark and Sweden have created. And I delight that in millenials we finally have a group that gets the political/economic ideas we embraced so long ago.

Voting for me through all these years has been just kind of practical, vote for the least bad kind of thing. My evaluation through all the years has been that corporate influence is too strong to really “revolutionize” the government and too large a portion of the populace has not understood the more liberal viewpoints, so it has long seemed the best we could do was not to have the Republican — and indeed it has proved to be true that Republicans have always made inequality, climate issues, etc. worse and Democrats have always improved those some but never beyond what corporate overlords could accept.

I like the push for Democratic Socialism but I still see too many in government controlled by corporate sponsors (and let’s save discussion of corporate lobbyists controlling way too many watchdog agencies that are supposed to be regulating them for a whole other post). I’m encouraged by the many Democrats running without corporate help and with more Democratic Socialist platforms. This change is heartening and we need to give it momentum. But it’s also time to get outside the box and quit thinking that changing some officeholders will change the fundamentals.

Unlike much of what I read from the millenials, I don’t see it as likely we can shift the government as radically as we need to in the short time frame we have to turn climate change around. For some time I’ve been questioning the degree to which most of us in America have fallen into the habit of expecting government to “save” us and assuming if we just change some people in Congress or change the President, we will be delivered from harm. I think we need to be more rad.

Many years of study and observation lead me to believe that government will not change sufficiently or fast enough to save us. We need People Power. I’ve laid a lot of this out in the People Power series but want to include some thoughts again here.

In much of the world corporations are really running governments like puppet masters. While there’s increasing awareness of this truth, most people still want government to save us from this power. Right now, government works for corporations and throws enough sops to the rest of us to get the votes they need.  GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOING TO SAVE US.  Take that in.  It’s time we understand this truth.

While we also need to work on voting in people who haven’t taken corporate money, the two main things I see as grass roots necessities: (1) massive boycotts and (2) a huge wave of going local; starting co-ops for banking, manufacturing, food production, etc. that are run by the people for the people and employing the people.

Two percent of the people are hoarding vast amounts of wealth and acting as though the other 98% are expendable. It’s a very weird way of looking at us when our buying dollars provide the bulk of their profits. Without us buying their stuff, booking their hotel rooms, eating their food products, etc. they can’t make a profit.  The truth of this is finally hitting now in the Covid-19 pandemic and the government still can’t get it that it’s not the 2 percent they need to save. Without us out there buying, businesses are feeling the pinch (though the super rich owners and CEOs are untouched so far).

I’ve been calling for massive consumer boycotts for a long time and running around talking about how we really vote with our dollars and few have really been listening. I find it kind of funny that the Universe has basically ordered up a massive consumer boycott without anybody actually deciding to have one. Now we need to keep it up when we’re allowed to get out again.

Thirty-four years ago when I started practicing yoga and taking the Yoga Journal, then becoming interested in metaphysics and flipping through magazines like New Age Journal (now Body and Soul), etc. I began to notice a whole secondary economy in their pages.  Health foods, yoga props, meditation retreats, herbal supplements, etc. Companies you never heard about nor, in those days, ever saw on the shelves of a mainstream grocery or drugstore. Companies with healthier products and often a healthier way of doing business.

Over the years those companies have often become more known.  Some went down the dark path — Whole Foods, for instance became a corporate monster long before Amazon took over. And many more companies have been added to the list. For the most part all these places still advertise in magazines and on web sites that cater to those who are into healthy and/or spiritual lifestyles and this other economy is still under the radar.

More recently I’ve been following a more recent and quietly grown trend for forming local co-ops. From neighborhoods taking back an old shuttered business district and supporting small local enterprises, to co-op banks owned by and serving Blacks or women or poor neighborhoods to farming co-ops, etc. across the world a movement of creating local businesses that operate for local people has been spreading.

It’s been going on for long enough there are now studies showing they are making good profits, employing lots of people and paying them better in both wages and benefits. Again, mostly under the radar though if you hunt for it you can find scattered articles. (I’ve listed the People Power posts below — many links to articles and sources there) A Thrive Economy serves better than a Growth Economy.

I see this quiet growth of a whole tier of businesses operating differently, quietly in the background as our best answer and hope. We need more of it. We need the younger progressives who are excited about change to leap on the bandwagon of going local. We need to have so many products, supplies, banking opportunities, supply chains, etc. that are both supplying consumer needs and providing jobs that we can increasingly do business only with local outfits and stop buying from corporations.

We have to be the ones to break corporate power because government is not going to do it.

I love seeing lots of enthusiasm for progressive candidates and causes from the younger generations and I hope they keep working on those things. But I also hope a huge number can be persuaded to launch themselves into a local movement. While, I know plenty of older hippies who are participating in local co-op type efforts and pushing for buying local, we’re kind of old for being the founders of banking co-ops and small manufacturing plants, etc.  We need you.  And I know I can speak not only for myself but for so many people I know, we’ll do anything we can to help you.

It’s time for a quiet, under-the-radar revolution in which we seize power by taking our dollars away from the global corporate giants and put them into businesses that serve us and the needs of our communities. It isn’t just getting “them” to pass progressive policies. We have to seize the reins and create the progressive roads.

The People Power posts — in these posts you’ll find many links to articles and studies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@ProudResister @davidhogg111 @WilliamMMcKee @OurProgressive @eve_levenson @EdwardJDavey @marwilliamson @ewarren

 

The virus and the rabbit hole

As Mom moved toward the end of her stay in rehab and my hip/psoas issues were hitting a zenith, we started hearing about the coronavirus.  Things were revving up when we got home. But we’d been sent off with Mom having barely moved from diaper changes to being able to get to the bathroom with assistance and no home help coming for days, so I felt too overwhelmed by dealing with the transition to full time caregiver to do more than note it as a rising issue.

Before long, though, I was discovering that with Mom in the house I should be going out as little as possible — some say not at all but I have yet to figure out how to get everything done for her without leaving the house.  As much as possible I get curbside pickup or delivery, mostly curbside pickup, but for a couple of places I have to go in.

Otherwise I’m staying home. I gather this is a huge lifestyle change for many people but, having dealt with health issues for a long time, I’m used to staying home a lot, so I feel like life has prepared me for this moment very well.  Not to mention being an only child means I’ve spent tons of alone time since early childhood…

Not feeling huge fear except for my Dad, alone in Florida and not taking this too seriously.  One silver lining to all the time spent in hospitals, etc. is I had Mom and I taking Aireborne every day to ward off the many things that float around those places so we were more immune boosted than normal.  And I’ve had us keep taking some along with elderberry and preventive doses of ganmaoling. Sent some of all those things to Dad and he’s actually taking stuff! I don’t go quite as far as some about wiping everything down or quarantining the mail, but I’m careful and Mom is not going out at all.

The hardest part is watching our already-dwindling investment account go down and wondering how we survive on the other side.  Otherwise the adjustment to this new normal after adjusting to a life of daily hospital/SNF visits and then adjusting to be the only caregiver 24/7 just seems like part of the ongoing fall down the rabbit hole. Head over heels, down and down, dizzy and disoriented, heading for a new world.

In the meantime, I’m looking at the commentary on what an opportunity this is to decide to change the world and throw off the beliefs about wealth and striving and what drives economies to start anew from a different set.  Now is the chance to work on “people power”, for which I advocated in my recent series. Let’s dream and plan a new world. And I’m excited about that.

Oy the hip

Psoas

As mentioned in the last post, long-standing hip issues arose in the midst of the trauma and drama of my mother’s broken hip.  Several people noted the irony of my hip at the same time as hers and wondered if it was some kind of sympathy– while I think there was some connection, it’s the other hip and I’d been having some issues with this old pattern for quite a while before she fell. I’m giving a bit of extra detail because these kinds of muscle issues are far more common than Western medicine acknowledges and many people aren’t aware of the ways these things get started or are exacerbated.

Going way back, I was born with a twist in my left leg.  Over the many years of body work on my deeply ingrained muscle issues, we figured out the origin point for many of the problems all the way up and down was that twist.  Then at 25 I was in a car accident that injured the ankle on that side and, undiscovered by brilliant allopathic medicine, a ligament was torn away.

The injury exaggerated the twist and the instability caused by the lack of properly attached ligament led to my left hip constantly going completely out of joint and lots of extra pressure on the now-even-more-pulled-out-of-alignment knee.  As a result I walked with a limp and many days it was so painful to sit I squeezed up the muscles on that side.  There are more details but that’s the gist of why I have a deep pattern in there which keeps recurring even though body work has largely released it. (and for the story of my leg straightening out see here)

Something in how I sit and sleep at home had been causing some issues but the exercises I do for my hips have kept it at bay.  Until I wound up sitting in one ergonomically-poor chair after another for hours a day in one hospital or rehab room after another.  Suddenly my low back had problems and my hip was more “out” than it’s been since the original issue. On top of that some releases in my muscles snapped a chunk of my psoas and groin muscles too far open too fast on the same side.  Because of the proximity the two began impacting one another.

Many days I could barely walk from the pain.  I looked into the “meaning” of hip issues and found both (1) moving forward too quickly — which seemed to perfectly describe the fast track of opening/releasing my muscles have been on and (2) mother issues — which made me LAUGH!  So okay, metaphysical reasons.  But ow, after a while you just want the pain to go away and screw the “lessons”.  I got this one though: barely able to move=enforced slowing down.

Realizing I’d started the issue by not exploring enough about how I was sitting and lying.  I’ve had to change the configuration of my odd “nest on the floor” style of seating because of the hip numerous times, so another change was quickly called for.

It also sank in that as my muscles have been sorted out, my many-years habit of sleeping in weird pretzel positions to accommodate the aches and pains had been segueing into sleeping more normally, including sleeping on my side for the first time, maybe ever.  I knew about the advice to put a pillow between your knees but initially I just moved onto my side in my sleep so… not conscious enough to grab a pillow. But I bought one of the pillows designed for that purpose and am working on staying aware enough to use it when I’m on my side.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to use the yoga and Robert Masters’ triggers that have kept me going all these years.  However, the pulled psoas doesn’t like moving and pretty much everything I do for my hips moves it.  So it’s been an interesting challenge to find balance in how and when to do what in order to keep releasing the hip pattern while not setting off the psoas.

Everything has been better since Mom came home and I no longer have to sit in the chairs for a few hours a day.  But both patterns keep flaring and the extra demands on me for helping Mom and rearranging and cleaning house (our twice monthly cleaners can’t come –social distancing for Mom) make both worse, so it’s been an interesting time.

Because of the long journey through muscle issues, I’m much more hypersensitive to chairs and muscle impacts than most people.  But I’d bet some of the really poor chairs I sat in have started off issues for many people who just didn’t realize at the time a pattern started from the uncomfortable chair.  That’s how they go.  Set a muscle or two off by sitting badly for enough hours and they settle into a pattern and then that pattern begins impacting all the nearby muscles.

I wish allopathic medicine would wise up and start teaching people to get something done (body work) or to do something (possibly yoga or Feldenkrais, etc.) as soon as an injury has occurred or they’ve spent a bunch of time in an uncomfortable position or doing a repetitive motion.  If you keep the patterns from settling in, you can avoid getting to the point of spending months or years trying to fix it.

In the meantime, thank goodness for the Robert Masters work; I’ve been able to do the hip releases just often enough to work probably 80-90% of the re-ingrained pattern out.  I find it hard to heal the psoas since it’s involved in so many of our normal movements, it’s constantly getting flared.  A bit of stretching to keep the pain from locking it up but otherwise staying careful about how much I move…

And then in the midst of all this broken (Mom) and unhappy hip stuff, enter Covid-19!

A big twist in the road

I’ve been largely absent for a while now.  My 94 year old mother fell and broke her hip on January 24 and life has felt like I went down a rabbit hole ever since.

The first hospital failed to take proper x-rays and sent her home, being told to just walk on it. The second one the next day found broken hip and two days later she had three pins put in by a specialist.  All this launched what wound up being almost two months of daily trips to either hospital or rehab, trying to get the house completely rearranged around that schedule so she can get a walker everywhere she needs to, running errands around both of those activities…

In other words anything resembling “my life” pretty much disappeared as life circled around Mom’s health and well-being.  She didn’t like the food at the rehab place so it also included having to fix a sandwich and put together some other snacks — not to mention making sure she still had her daily doses of kombucha and a smoothie– on a daily basis.

After the first days at rehab another problem was found, sending her back to the hospital for almost a week which interfered so much with her PT progress that her stay at the SNF wound up being extended.

By the last week or so of her time at SNF the coronavirus was becoming a thing and the full force began hitting on the first week home.  We’d been left for days high and dry with no nurse’s aide to help and OT and PT in home being slow to start.  Already floundering as I shifted from the weird schedule of the daily visits, etc. to having to be up and down all night to help her and available all day, the worries about the virus initially didn’t really register with me.

In the meantime, sitting for hours in bad chairs at various of the places wound up setting off an old painful hip pattern which wound up intertwined with a badly pulled psoas, so the next post will be about the journey through all of this while barely being able to walk.  And then after that we’ll get to Covid-19.

Yup, I fell down a rabbit hole and I just keep falling past a new twist and another turn…  Must be a really big rabbit!

People Power: Not Government

Stop waiting for government to fix our problems

Stop imagining that government is capable of fixing our problems

Stop thinking that it’s up to government to fix our problems

IT IS UP TO US

Corruption and Global Corporations

Around the world, global corporations have bought their way into power and so many politicians have been bought and paid for by them that it is pointless to hope governments as they’re now constituted are going to move on a big enough scale or fast enough to save the planet.  That’s not to say we can’t also work on changing government, which will be discussed below, but for the urgent needs of now, they’re not gonna do it.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m puzzled as to why these corporations are hell bent to gather most of the world’s wealth into their hands and leave everyone else bickering and starving since buying power in the hands of the 98% whom they so readily consign to doom is required for them to maintain profits.  Some of the wiser corporate heads have been realizing the only way to keep going is for everyone to benefit but not enough have seen the light.

It is up to us to break their power and we do that buy boycotting their goods and services.  They control so much of our food and products  it is key, as I mentioned in the last post, is to create local markets, manufacturing, etc.  The more I research these topics, the more things land in my path about what’s already happening.  There’s a worldwide network forming of “BuyNothing” groups, which are using local barter, production and trade to avoid buying from any corporate entities.  This group is not alone in such ventures, but a place to start if you want to start opting out of giving corporations the dollars to rule the world.

Governments will only start serving the needs of all the people when they are no longer in thrall to the 2%.

Elections without Corporate Ties

The Democrats have a lot of people running now who are only taking money from crowd source type funding and refusing to take corporate contributions.  We need to start electing ONLY politicians who are free of all corporate ties and obligations.

There will be push back and the 2% has always contained members who are willing to assassinate anyone who threatens their sovereignty.  They’ve interfered in elections by convincing people of false info in order to stop passage of laws they don’t like.  They’ve orchestrated “accidents” for people like Karen Silkwood; and recently there have been 35 mysterious accidental deaths of witnesses who were about to testify against pesticide makers.  So don’t underestimate their power or determination.

Here in Kentucky, the solar power industry has been burgeoning and the utility companies are now trying to get the state legislature (Republican) to pass laws that would devastate the industry.  So far the number of jobs and revenue that would be lost seems to be holding back enough votes to keep this from happening.  Be aware though, that if we start going local and reducing corporate business on a scale big enough to get their attention we can expect them to use their power to try to outlaw co-ops, stop small manufacturing, etc.  See article on the solar story in KY.

We need to make sure our local, state and federal government officials are free of obligations to corporations.  But even that won’t stop them from mounting multi-million dollar disinformation campaigns every time the go-local movement or the climate change remedies interfere with their insatiable quest to own everything.

It’s important for us to pay attention to donors and candidates and to refuse to vote for people who are supported by corporate $$ so that over the next 4-8 (or ?) years we can build a new government that will help foster going small and local and green.

Creating a New Story and a Government to Go With It

As I’ve delved ever further into current issues, the need for change, and how to accomplish it, books and articles providing me with more info and insights are constantly dropping into my lap.  The last 10 days are so have been just the beginning of a lot of time sitting around at a hospital and now a rehab center so I’ve been catching up.  I’m really excited at the moment by Charles Eistenstein’s The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible and Michael Lerner’s Revolutionary Love.

Though there’s much more to them, both make key points about how our cultures and governments are defined by the stories about the world we have developed.  Capitalism, scarcity, wealth gaps, etc. are all considered necessary and inescapable but they’re actually just constructs that have survived because we were convinced to believe in them and now no one questions those beliefs.  Lerner has valid criticisms of both major U.S. political parties, which arise from the degree to which both are mired in a global corporate view.

In order to accomplish real change, we need to shift our structures to reflect a different set of beliefs and values.  To work on a thrive economy instead of a growth one.  To insist that our elected representatives have no ties to corporate power.  To make love and compassion primary forces and the heart of policy and government.

Marianne Williamson was the only candidate who tried to get us to understand the need for this shift and I’m terribly sorry she’s left the race so soon. We need thousands of candidates who understand how dramatically we must change.

Whether our Constitution has sufficient flexibility and enough humanitarianism at its core is a question I’m still contemplating.  Perhaps we need to prepare for something altogether new?

 

People Power: The do-ers

The Three Key Paths: The Do-ers

 

Many in our society snort contemptuously upon hearing people are praying.  They think it’s useless and consider it “doing nothing.”  “You have to DO something,” they tell us.  At this point in history we don’t have time to convert the disbelievers, they just need to have some constructive things to do [though I’ll plant the thought expressed by Charles Eisenstein in The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, that often our rush to “doing” is ill-informed and at best maintains the status quo and at worst actually winds up causing harm].  See previous post on whether praying IS something.

A number of these People Power posts have explored the importance of “going local”.  For that we need increasing numbers of people on the ground who are forming environmental justice groups, creating small-scale local manufacturing, growing organic healthy produce and finding ways to market it, building co-ops for banking, local businesses, health services, etc.

As long as a relatively small number of global corporations hold most of the wealth and mind-boggling amounts of power, environmental and humanitarian crises will become ever more rampant.  To save the planet and to help ALL people to thrive we have to get out from under their control.

Two crucial steps are required to accomplish this.  (1) Quit buying their stuff.  Without profits we provide them, their power disappears.  You vote with every dollar you spend.  Pay attention to how you’re voting.  (2) Since we will still need food, clothing, etc. we need local enterprises to provide us with goods and services and also to replace the jobs that will be lost as big corporations fail.

In Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, I think several branches apply here: Right Livelihood, Right Intent, and Right Action.  The idea is that we do no harm and try to benefit others in everything we do.  Obeying Right Livelihood means making money by only working for or investing in places that are also obeying the rules of Right Action, etc.  Obeying Right Action means you make decisions about buying, selling, and what to do in life based on doing no harm and whenever you can helping others and/or the world.  Right Intent means coming from a place of compassion and heartfulness in every step you take.

To me, there is no way to be in alignment with these paths while working for, investing in, or purchasing from major corporations that harm the environment, treat workers badly, produce harmful items, etc.  A major path of doing therefore involves boycotting those companies and helping to create alternative means of employment and production that operate to bring health, thriving, and sustainability to all.

Another reminder of some new thinking on economics — the idea of a “Thrive Economy” instead of a Growth one, which I think will wind up reflecting the thought that much more needs to be local:

I’ve really been contemplating this and just in my own life I can see it’s very hard to boycott until local alternatives are more prevalent.  I buy a lot from Amazon.  I’d rather not do business with it.  But most of what I buy is only available to me now in other equally yucky corporations.  And to buy from those places I have to drive (environmentally bad as well) to parts of town I loathe, cope with the worst traffic areas, and wander around in overly big stores filled with largely unhappy people.  Right now, Amazon’s free delivery wins.

I shop a fair amount at our local food co-op and also Trader Joe’s, which so far I consider to be a good company, and I need to do more with the local farmer’s market.  But many other things I buy are simply not available as local goods.  Much activity is needed to create viable manufacturing and marketplaces in local areas.

Environmentally speaking there are many actions do-ers can take.  I keep touting Project Drawdown — there are many innovations that individuals or neighborhood groups could adopt and much inspiration for figuring out new ways to help.  If that’s your main interest, plenty of things to do, starting with QUIT BUYING FROM GLOBAL CORPORATIONS.

For do-ers there are also contributions in the land of government and elections but that is for the third post in this concluding (or maybe not 🙂 ) series.

Okay do-ers, there’s your to-do list.  Go forth!

Previous People Power posts;