Bye Bye NaBloPoMo

 

nanopoblano2016

I actually wrote most of the first piece in my latest budding little series today.  But when it was time to start typing and finishing, I realized it’s the last post for NaBloPoMo and decided I’d rather say a little farewell (with a touch of good riddance thrown in 🙂 )

I’ve so enjoyed reading posts by new-t0-me bloggers and getting some new followers.  And it was easier for me this time to post every day than it’s been on my previous two outings.  I did post every day though I’ll admit one day it was just a reblog with a little note added from me…

However, it’s been feeling a little tougher here at the end to churn one out every day…  And the added reading time to get through the NanoPoblano list as well as the folks I already follow (thank goodness for the folks who are on both lists!) has gotten harder to find.

I’m thinking it would be fun if us NanoPoblanos could check in quarterly — some kind of challenge or a day to post and use the tag again….  But for right now, I’m kind of happy to know I can skip posting tomorrow without letting down my commitment.

Thanks everybody!  We did it!

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Uh oh, filling space again…

I’ve got a little 2 or 3 post series forming in my head and planned to start today but the muscles around my eyes are jerking all over the place and it’s hard to focus either my eyes or my brain….

Can’t complain though, the yanking is opening lots of knots, moving along toward that end I’ve been expecting…  for years…   Shh…  Don’t tell anybody, but it could be near…

The chanting, BTW, has been lovely and having such an impact.

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Seeing the other view

English: Anti-apartheid protest in London, UK,...

English: Anti-apartheid protest in London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In all the finger pointing and rancor going on post-election, I keep remembering two big lessons about world views I got years ago.  I think they keep coming up for me because I see some assumptions being made in the jibes about those who voted for Trump and my lessons told me those assumptions are probably wrong.  In times like these it’s so important to be able to step back and at least try to understand another world view.

The first lesson occurred when I was a sociology graduate student, working on a big study for Northwestern’s Center for Urban Affairs.  I’d been assigned a couple of neighborhoods to interview as many people as I could.  One of the areas was a working class neighborhoodk with some big open housing issues going on.

Having done some networking, I went down one day and interviewed a group gathered in someone’s home.  Afterward, a few of the people took me aside and told me quite nicely that if I wanted people there to feel comfortable talking to me I needed to quit talking so “high brow”.

It came as a shock because I’d been very careful not to go into “PhD speak”, which I’ve always despised.  Eventually I realized that even though I grew up in a blue collar area, my family is loaded with college-educated people and all my friends growing up were the children of educated people — if not formally educated, the kind of people who read a lot and are always learning (often better than school, I’ve noted).  In many ways we don’t speak the same language as people who aren’t readers and learners.  The people I was interviewing were put off by my style of speaking and I could see I didn’t have a clue how to change my language to what they needed.  We literally talked past one another.

The second lesson came as a fairly new lawyer, back in the late eighties, when I joined a pro bono legal team who were defending a group of protesters arrested at the South African Consulate.  Our case intended to set precedent (and did) for using the necessity defense, in this instance arguing that the conditions under apartheid in South Africa were so atrocious it was necessary to violate the law by protesting (kind of a simplified explanation).  A lot of our case involved testimony from people who’d either been there or had some expertise about conditions under apartheid.

During the voir dire (choosing the jury panel) it was very important to both sides to know how much awareness the potential jurors had of the situation in South Africa and whether they already had opinions about it.  We questioned something like 60 potential jurors of many ages, races, jobs, etc, asking every one whether they regularly read the newspaper or watched the news and what they knew about South Africa and apartheid.

With two exceptions,  the startling answer was no.  No one read the newspaper.  No one watched the news.  They barely knew where South Africa was and they knew nothing about the apartheid situation or the call for an embargo, nothing about Nelson Mandela (he was still in prison and far less famous outside the circles who were informed about the situation).  Since my entire family and all the people I knew had newspaper subscriptions and watched the news, listened to NPR and stayed informed, this came as a great shock to me.

But it also stuck with me that I need to always remember the world view my circle shares, which assumes you need to stay informed by paying attention to the news, is not the only world view (and not one I share any more).  I keep seeing people accusing those who voted for Trump of being bigots, misogynists, etc. (and I did it in a post too) based on an assumption they heard and saw all the things he said.

While I am sure there were plenty who did know these things and voted for him anyway, the probability is that a significant percentage of those who voted for him do not read newspapers or watch the news and didn’t know most of the outrageous things he’d been saying.

The sweet spot for me at the end of the trial story:  when I went to the picket line at the Consulate after the trial was over, several members of the jury were there marching. As soon as they knew and understood what was happening they felt they had to take part in the fight to end apartheid.  The fact they’d previously chosen not to stay informed didn’t mean they were stupid or unfeeling, it meant they lived a different lifestyle than mine.  And when they knew they showed up to help.

We’re all divine sparks of All That Is.  Sometimes you have to be open to seeing that spark and trying to understand a different way of thinking.

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Thankful… Thanksgiving…

fresh cranberry compote from another year

fresh cranberry compote

Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving just started.  Since I made things ahead and bought most of the side dishes, a lovely dinner will be had and I can have a pretty leisurely day leading up to it.  (you can see my main recipe over on the other blog, here)

I’m so grateful to be able to buy the food for such a meal, to have the wherewithal to make such a meal and for having a nice home in which to eat it.

Although I’m glad NaBloPoMo is almost over, I’ve also enjoyed it and am so thankful for the news friends I’ve made.  And even more thankful for the blogging friendships here that now stretch years.  Love you all!

And I ask for prayers for the protesters at Standing Rock.  Some of my local friends are about to head off to join them, so if you can add thoughts for a safe journey for them as well, I’d so appreciate it.

Whether you’re having a holiday today or it’s just an ordinary day, I wish you peace, happiness and love.

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What lies beneath?

3x-great-grandfather-gallaher

Whenever I find myself being deeply emotionally affected by some external circumstance like the election, I know the situation has to be touching on something in me.  Along with chanting for peace and lovingkindness I’ve been watching the ebb and flow of emotions while chanting and also observing the impact of the spewing going on on FB, wondering what my reactions are telling me.

Starting before the election, another major phase of unwinding in my face has been going on.  [The glued-together stuff at the root is finally separating enough I can pick out some specific muscles!]  Whenever muscles are opening there’s a fair chance some old issue, whether personal or ancestral or past life (or all of the above), is going to be released.

The way the Universe operates, I figure there’s a pretty good chance the issues from the election and whatever I’m moving through in the healing process are related.  As I’ve contemplated I’ve looked at a few things and come up with one surprise issue I’ll be exploring.

Several times the Gayatri Mantra has produced a big emotional reaction so I looked up a translation.  I know it’s used often for peace and that it opens the heart, but the specific meaning of the words doesn’t seem to stick with me.  I found a lovely translation and discussion on this site:

OM BUHR, BHUVA, SWAHA
OM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAT”

We meditate on the glory of the Creator;
Who has created the Universe;
Who is worthy of Worship;
Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light;
Who is the remover of Sin and Ignorance;
May He open our hearts and enlighten our Intellect

While I don’t find anything there that raises a specific personal issue, I can see that the tone and purpose of the chant is a big contradiction to what’s going on in the U.S. right now.  I figure it’s hitting right in the place where fear is pulling me away from an open heart…

The big place where I’ve been very emotional involves the horrible things Trump has said about people of other races and religions, especially his commentary on Blacks.  Ridiculing the Black Lives Matter movement and talking about “go back to Africa” hurts my heart.  One evening as I explored inward about what might be evoking such a strong response, I suddenly saw my family tree in my mind’s eye.

You see my 3X great grandfather and his son, my 2X great grandfather (plus his many siblings) owned slaves.  When I first encountered a copy of a will from 1837 in my grandfather’s effects, I was so young I really didn’t know what the bequests that seemed to hand off people meant.  Nor did any of us know what relation the testator had to us.

As an adult I recalled seeing the will and realized somebody in my family had been a slaveholder.  I’ve grappled with guilt over it off and on ever since but ultimately I’ve had to realize I wasn’t there, I didn’t convince anyone to do it and I’m not responsible for what they did.  I’ve always aimed to treat every human I encounter with dignity regardless of race, creed or religion and I don’t quite know what to do about what my ancestors did 170-200+ years ago,

Eventually I did enough research to know the maker of the will was my 3X great grandfather.  I’ve stood on the property he owned in Tennessee and I’ve seen the graves of both him and his son.  What mixed feelings I have about them.

It was moving to see the piece of land my 3X great grandfather purchased around 1800.  It’s hard to describe how it felt to stand not only at his grave but also my 3X great grandmother and another set of 3X great grandparents whose daughter, my 2X great grandmother, married my 2X great grandfather.

They’re my family.  They moved from Scotland to Ireland when England offered property and then a few generations later my 4X great grandfather moved to Pennsylvania.  Eastern Tennessee came next, then a little west to Knoxville.  Eventually branches of this family were involved in every major surge to the west in American history.  Part of me is proud that these poor farmers had the courage to keep picking up and moving forward to seek a better life.

Part of me wants to travel back in time so I can hop up and down in fury and demand what on earth they were thinking???  How could they be so cruel?  I wind up in this ambivalent space between loving them because they’re my family (and much of the courage and conviction I carry I know I owe to them) and despising them because they lacked humanity.

A piece, then, involves my ambivalence.  But I also have a deep sense I’m feeling something that has to do with those ancestors and how they felt or now feel about slavery and their part in it.  I’ll be doing some exploring in meditation and ceremony about the ancestral piece and possibly it’s time for a check-in with Hanna for some of her excellent healing.

How about you — if you’re feeling strong emotions around the election of Trump, have you found any of those feelings arise from personal issues? Are you aware of the source of these deep reactions to xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination, misogyny, etc.?

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Still Chanting: the ups and downs…

English: Peace, Love and Increase

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a little tired and out of sorts so thought I’d just give a short update on my progress with lovingkindness chants, etc.  Sometimes it feels to me as if lots of people expect practices to serve as magic wands that will sweep you into a permanent state of peace or bliss.

I find it a bit more up and down and back and forth.  For me practices are a way to generally hold a calmer space but also the tools for pulling myself back to being calm and centered when life’s bumpy road knocks me to other states of being.  Doing practices doesn’t take the bumps out of that road or stop me from having varying moods.

Over all I’ve calmed down quite a bit since I started my lovingkindness practice (metta).  I’ve also changed it up.  When I began I was doing 10 minutes for me, 10 minutes for Trump and 10 minutes for America.  Soon I switched out the last 10 minutes of metta for singing the Gayatri Mantra and/or Om Shanti.  Just felt pulled to be doing singing chants too, so I chose two that are used for peace.

I’ve also been working on Deepak and Oprah’s latest 21 day meditation since before the election (I’m behind…).  And “just happens” to be the perfect topic for this quest for finding peace in these troubling times.  Which of all these practices get done on a given day is variable.

I’m very up and down though.  There’s so much angry stuff being spewed, I find myself pulled into the anger.  The extreme anxiety and upset stomach initially subsided for maybe half a day each time I chanted but for the first days came back.  That has leveled out now and I’m back to spending my days calm with only short moments of losing my center.

My emotions still shift.  I’ve cried while chanting or felt waves of nausea.  For the first time ever I burst into tears while singing the Gayatri (this chant previously has just opened my heart, not touched into deep issues) and for a few minutes couldn’t stop.  The other day Mark Bialczak asked readers to comment on their wishes for Trump.  The first and only thought that jumped into my head:  “fatal heart attack”…

Apparently I’m going to be chanting for a long, long time…  Because that’s not who I want to be and I’m going to chant until I find the connection.

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