Monday, June 11, 2018

Our Hateful Leader Mouthing Our New Anthem



Take out the part about being a Russian tool, and the sentiment of these words is EXACTLY what American represents now...

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Suicide is Painless




Since the news about Anthony Bourdain, many people are composing little treatises on depression, “personal struggles” and self-love.

I personally think there are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who don’t know why or how a person could kill herself, and the ones who know. 

The Ones Who Know may not have made the attempt, may not ever do so.  But we have contemplated it.  And to us, it isn’t a rash, desperate decision brought on by an emotional crisis.  It’s a long considered, rational thought process that is finally acted upon after the body of incontrovertible evidence that life is too difficult, and one’s permanent absence would only benefit those left behind, has reached a tipping point.

Those Who Don’t Know inevitably make judgments about people who do carry out the act.  Judgments that are mostly about them, and not about the one who has ended her life.  They opine that the person was ill, desperate, in pain, and why oh why didn’t she come to me, go somewhere, get help?  Or, why didn’t I know?  Or, how could she have been so selfish?  Or, how could she have hated herself or her loved ones so much?  I can only impart this message to these well-meaning, hurting folks: 

It’s not about you. 

At least, not in a selfish or unconsidered way.  It isn’t as if the person who ends her own life is thinking only of herself and is lost in deep pain.  She most likely has considered the other people whose lives touch hers most closely, and has made the decision that her absence will ultimately be best for them; because she can’t continue to be the prime source of worry, irritation, frustration, annoyance, desperation…pain…in the lives of the people she loves.  Ending her life might be the least selfish act she has ever contemplated.  “I will take this step into the Great Unknown because I just can’t keep hurting people anymore.”     

Now, I know people whose loved ones have died of suicide will probably be offended by my analysis.  And I know that Those Who Don’t Know will be apt to dissect my conclusions and judge them to be the ravings of one who has serious emotional issues.  They will say my view is poisoned by my own psychological problems.  Anyone who can “rationalize” suicide must be mostly unbalanced herself.

I’m not rationalizing anything.  I’m not advocating killing oneself as a solution to anyone’s issues.  I’m simply saying I have been this close to carrying out the act myself, so I know that it can feel like...perhaps even BE… the best action one can take when all things are considered.

Each person ultimately has her own life in her own hands.  And if someone chooses to end it when she feels the time is right, who are we to judge? 

If Those Who Don't Know need some direction as to how to keep someone from performing the ultimate act of self-determination, I would suggest this:

Tell the people you love, especially the ones who may be struggling, that they are important.  Don’t waste your breath on “I love you.”  “I love you” is really a pretty selfish pronouncement, when you get right down to it.  It makes the whole relationship about YOU, about YOUR needs.  Any sentence that begins with “I” is by definition about the person who utters it.  It comes with an unspoken “so…”  “I love you, SO you need to _________.”  Stick around.  Not go away. Be in my life.  Not die.   Fill in the blank.    

Try communicating to your loved ones this way:  “YOU are important.”  “YOU enrich my life, or someone else’s life, in this way” and be specific.  Tell your loved ones WHAT you value about them.  Tell them in no uncertain terms how the world, how the family, how YOU benefit from their unique gifts/input/existence.  From my perspective, the best thing anyone can do for a person who believes her existence is only burdensome to those around her, is to make her understand the positive contribution she makes…to anything.  To everything.  To YOU.  To the universe.  It can make a great deal of difference to know there is SOME good thing that will no longer happen if one is not around to MAKE it happen. 

And even THAT is not guaranteed to redirect a person who has made the decision to end her life. 

In the end, that decision is in the hands of the person who owns the life. 

To those left behind, and to Those Who Don’t Know:  It’s not your fault. It’s not the fault of the person who has gone.  It’s nobody’s fault.  Don’t look for fault.  Don’t look for blame: Don’t blame yourself, don’t blame your departed loved one.  Grieve, because you must, but know that grief is essentially about the living.  Those who still inhabit the earthly plain loved a person, will miss a person, understand the width and breadth of the hole left behind by a person who is now permanently absent.  But I would beg you to honor that person you loved, enough to acknowledge that her life was hers to live and her decision to end it was based upon her best judgment of the options available.  Consider that the decision was not based on illness, or lack of courage, or selfishness. 

Do not regret the life of your loved one who has taken her own life.  Celebrate her, and move on as best you can…as you would if her death was from any other cause.  Life ends in an almost infinite variety of ways, but it always ends. 

Some souls are just more accepting of that fact than others.      





   

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Name That Midterm





I'm hearing the 2018 midterm touted as "the most important election of our lifetime."  

The same hyperbole was thrown around about the 2016 presidential election.

And we fumbled THAT so badly that it went over the wall and out of the ballpark.

Maybe we should come up with a different slogan...

Monday, June 4, 2018

A Time For Change

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” --Martin Luther King

King was referring to the "change" of equal rights for African Americans. But we can...we MUST...take these words of a wise and inspired leader and apply them to what is happening in America today.

Many of us were blind-sided by the horrific results of election 2016. We could not believe then, and can hardly assimilate now, what Americans have inflicted upon themselves with the election of this "president." We have been so worn down by the ensuing swift and inevitable destruction of our nation--our values, our constitutional liberties, our relationship with other peoples of the world, our moral compass, our ability to discern right from wrong--that we have at times chosen to turn away and weep silently...as one would turn away from the scene of a bloody massacre.

Perhaps this is allowed. Perhaps we SHOULD each take a moment to block out the carnage, to collect ourselves and mourn. But we can not then walk away and mutter, "I can't watch this. I can't do this. History proves that these situations will resolve themselves in time; I'll come back when the pendulum swings in the other direction." No. We must turn around and walk back into the fire with minds set on salvation; with hands prepared to help and heal.

For those of us over 60...those of us who were once part of another great political upheaval in the direction of positive change: My friends, if we do not become the change we want to see, we may not live to see the change. What kind of legacy will we be handing to our grandchildren? Can we live out the rest of our lives peacefully in light of it? Do we really want to spend our "golden years" in the country we're living in today?

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

We have been challenged to save our nation, to march forward with the banner of decency, righteousness and freedom; every bit as much as the fallen heroes disrespected by our "president" a week ago on the day we set aside to honor them.

Welcome to the struggle. Embrace it. Do not shirk it or walk away. We have work to do.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Santa Fe


And...

Patience or Persistence?




One of my spirit guides is Heron.  Heron is, in fact, my power animal.  Though I know I have not delved as deeply as I might into the details of the mystical relationship between a person and her power animal, I do feel a special affinity for Heron.  And I feel that Heron can guide me in areas in which I am particularly needy.

In the morning, when I do my salutation to the Four Directions, I call on my spirit guides to guide me through my day.  Heron is one of the first that I salute, when I face the rising sun in the east.  Heron guides toward balance, and for many months, when I began to realize I was obsessively focused on one thing or another, I would call upon Heron to guide me to balance. 

About a year ago, when we acquired a new family member whose stubborn, willful personality was proving to be a nettling challenge, it was whispered to me that perhaps another of Heron’s characteristics might be desirable.  Think of a heron, standing for long stretches of time in a field or shallow water, waiting for a meal to present itself.  Patience! I thought.  That is patience.  And if there is one thing I need, whether it’s in the framework of my relationship with the new family member or just in general, it’s patience. 

So I added “patience” to my morning request of Heron.  It is no secret that patience is something I have lacked my entire life, and whatever small quantity of that commodity I had been given originally has been thinning almost apace with my hair, here in my golden years. 

Applied to my relationship with the puppy…I asked for patience because the training methods we were using seemed to be having zero effect on her, and she was driving me crazy.  And I was guided in patience, when I asked…I didn’t kill her, or decide that she was not for us and attempt to re-home her.  

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling led to reevaluate the “patience” message.  Yes, certainly Heron spends many hours practicing stillness in order to feed itself.  But is that patience…or is it persistence?  “Patience”  implied if I kept at it the way I was going, things would ultimately work.  That was when I realized that perhaps persistence, rather than patience, was really what was needed here.  Define the goal and keep angling to get there, trying different things if the first one or two or six don’t work.   

The two concepts are certainly related.  Perhaps they are the active and passive  characterizations of the same concept.  Both involve a certain amount of projecting toward a future goal, rather than instant gratification.  But “patience” implies…waiting.  Quietly, almost zenlike.  Being content to bide one’s time until the desired outcome occurs.  “Persistence,” on the other hand, is more about actively pursuing what it is one wants to achieve…  Sticking with it, not giving up…but not just sitting there waiting for it to drop into your lap. 

And I’ve realized that persistence is more my style than patience…always has been.  Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot in any way be accused of being “passive.”  Ever.  And in this late stage of my life, I've found there are times one needs to embrace what one is; think of your ways in a positive light rather than always trying to purge from your personality those persistent things that for years you have rued as "negative."  These days, there is a certain amount of understanding of when I am setting myself up to fail.  And who needs that? 

Patience? To set myself the task of sitting quietly and waiting for something to happen…well, that just isn’t going to work. I’m not going to idle around and twiddle my thumbs til the goal arrives on my doorstep.  That is just not me.

I’ll wait, I’ll hold out for the ultimate goal.  But I'm going to be looking at it from different angles and trying new approaches in the meantime.  That is persistence.  

So now, I turn to the east in the morning, and ask Heron to guide me to balance and persistence.  It feels so much more right.
     

Monday, May 7, 2018

Get Me Out Of Here


An Open Letter: (to the husband, or the Universe, or whoever...)

We need to put this house on the market. 

Now.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a housewife.  I am not married to this house.  (I’m not sure what I’m married to, any more, but that’s a different letter.)

It cannot be me who rolls out the vacuum cleaner after I’ve been away for a week and has to suck up three inches of pet hair off of…everything in the house.

It cannot be me who scrubs every toilet, organizes every closet, and throws away every ancient leftover.    

It cannot be me who has to load and run the dishwasher that has not been run since I left the house on business five days ago.

It cannot be me who has to worry about painting four decks and a fence, controlling weeds, planting bushes for curb appeal, prettying up the yard so it’s actually a nice place to sit…(then again, I’m the only one who sits out there…but if that’s going to be the case, I need a much smaller space to tend for my own personal enjoyment.)

I am 62 years old.  I have the aches and pains and creaks and squeaks of a 62-year-old body that has been rode kinda hard and put away kinda wet.  This body is no longer adequate to the task of being the sole caretaker of a 2200 square foot house and a ¼ acre of suburban property.  If it ever was.  And while there may have been a time when my “nesting” instinct imparted a desire to maintain and decorate a space of this size, those days are way gone.  We’ve been here long enough to know that we’re not keeping up this oversized house so that we can entertain family, friends, or out-of-town guests.  Our closest family lives a hundred miles away, we have no friends, and my niece visits from Wisconsin every two or three years.  If that. 

The resident sister hides in her bedroom 90% of the time she’s here, and the husband would as soon live like a bachelor.  I don’t think he notices the difference between a clean, orderly space and…not.

So what the fuck am I doing?????

It’s too much.

I can’t do it any more.

I don’t WANT to do it anymore.   

I’m done.

     

Friday, May 4, 2018

Wise Words We Have Forgotten

"There is a moral obligation that those who have should give to those who don't...We have a debt to each other, to humanity. Maybe some people don't feel that way. I rather pity them. I think people like that live such an isolated life and don't have the joys of helping, of changing the world little bit."

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." --Audrey Hepburn

Welfare-bashers say "Let the churches and the private sector help the poor. It's their responsibility, not the government's." 

My answer, "How do you think tending to the poor fell into the lap of the government to begin with?" Because churches and the private sector were not up to the task, either because of greed, tribalism (we only help THESE people) or the sheer enormity of the task. When members of a society do not, will not, or can not take responsibility for moral justice, it is left to the state to step in.

And the larger the income gap between the haves and have-nots, the worse this problem will become. The have-nots have no resources to spare, and the haves not only hoard what they have, but relentlessly go after the rest.

When you get right down to it, most of the welfare-bashers are from the segment of the have-nots that is just high enough not to need help to survive.  They begrudge the poor the barely  sustenance-level "benefits" provided by the government.  Dollars to donuts , the majority of these folks don't give to charity or church.  They follow the example of the 1% and hoard every penny they make, to the point that they rail against the few dollars taken out of their pockets in the form of taxes and used to give a leg up to society's least fortunate.  They stigmatize the poor as lazy moochers in order to justify their cantankerous avarice. 

The 1% aid and abet that notion...in their own quest to get and keep...everything. 

"There is a moral obligation that those who have should give to those who don't." 

Yes.  Yes, there is. 


Monday, April 23, 2018

When the Pointing Finger Points to the Mirror



"Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.  For example, a person who is habitually intolerant may constantly accuse other people of being intolerant. It incorporates blame shifting."--from Wikipedia's series of articles on psychoanalysis.

Do the Cheeto and the GOP at large suffer from this psycholocical malady?  Or is their propensity to condemn their "enemies" for exactly the dirty tactics they have so successfully employed for the past several years merely an exercise in revisionist propaganda?  

Or are they merely honing their skill at making the best of the first by employing it as the second?  If fate hands you a lemon as an ideological leader, make...

Kool-aid.  


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Save...What?



Right-wing "economists" harp that Americans do not save enough money. Many Americans are working two jobs to pay housing costs that eat up 1/3 to 1/2 of their income. Health "care" is another 10 to 20%, or more--and that's just the cost of insurance. If they actually get sick or have to take drugs, it's more. Now pay for food, utilities, gasoline and auto insurance, a car payment or auto upkeep, a cel phone...if you're lucky, you can throw in cable tv or internet. What's left to save?

Say I have a couple of pennies left over at the end the month to put away. I'll get a whopping .25% (yes, that's 1/4%) interest if I put it in a bank account, and I'll probably end up LOSING money through bank fees. If I should somehow squirrel away enough to buy a CD, I won't be able to touch that money for at least six months, probably several years...and for that, I might get as much as 2% apr. Where's the incentive?

No...the 98% have been screwed. If we want to save money at all for retirement, we have to put it in a 401k and let the stock market have at it. If we're lucky, we'll at least have what we put into it left when we retire. Forget about any kind of reliable return.

I'm 62 years old, and looking retirement squarely in the eye.

It scares the hell out of me.