My 6-Day Fast (Day 2)

It was a good day…why do I feel suspicious?

Woman must be the pioneer in this turning inward for strength.
In a sense she has always been the pioneer.  – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Knock on wood, today was a relatively easy day. I have gotten used to a few random stomach grumblings by now and it simply reminds me to drink more Snake Juice and be grateful that I am finding the fortitude somewhere somehow to push through. In days gone by I would sprint to the fridge or the cupboard, because a rumbling stomach meant, YAY!, time to eat (usually whatever I wanted).  I LOVE to eat. I can spend hours planning, obsessing, making lists, saving pins, perusing cookbooks, prepping, chopping, cooking, and so on and so forth. My addiction isn’t just to the food substance, it’s to the whole experience. Continue reading “My 6-Day Fast (Day 2)”

The Roughing-Up of Fall

The pelicans are long gone. The caterpillars are crossing the roads, and the snakes, when it’s sunny, are sunning. The Northern flickers are caucusing and the ravens are ever talkative, chortling every chance they get at their fair-weathered friends who fly south for the winter.

Even in these fall winds and crazy rains everything feels, well, right as rain…even as we move the mortally wounded snakes to perish somewhat peacefully in the grass, and shoo the uninitiated babies back to the sidelines of the gravel roads. Nature so gently and unassumingly reminds me that everything is as it should be, always.

Then I read the news. Continue reading “The Roughing-Up of Fall”

Bringing the Light

(Column 49 – published in the Jan 31st Warroad Pioneer)

My time for despair is over.

Several times in previous columns I have said that this writing-it-down, this metabolizing it onto paper through my soul’s fingers is my therapy. Like walking or talking or exercise, it is the way I work through the suffering, coming out leaner, stronger, more open to the grace that is my everyday compass.

My previous column entitled “Not Ready to Make Nice” was written through the lens of despair, and surprisingly, to no one more than me, it was well-read. It was called both “hate-filled” and “inspiring.” I was called both “courageous” and “a petulant child.”

January 24th edition of the Warroad Pioneer

My intention now isn’t to rebut the rebuttal, but I do think it’s vitally important to continue the conversation. It must start in towns like ours, between disagreeing neighbors like us, about issues that seem so irreconcilable now. If not here in our home, than where? If we cannot heal the great divide even in our small communities, how will we fix the very big and very real problems facing humanity and our planet?

The divide is real and scary ugly, as we can all feel. Both sides believe they are standing in Truth. Both sides feel attacked and denigrated. Both sides, in the end, want the same things: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But I don’t want that for just some of us…I want it for All.

All beating hearts deserve a comfortable life, freedom to be who they are, and a chance at happiness. White males are not more deserving than brown. Men are not more deserving than women. Soldiers are not more deserving than struggling welfare moms.

Once upon a time, I stood in line with my WIC coupons clutched tightly to my chest, and my daughter visits the local dentist and optometrist thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Am I any less deserving of happiness than anyone else?

Simplified to the utmost: God loves his children as one.

We are more than just Angleites or Warroadians or Minnesotans. We are more than Americans. Those of us on the “left,” the ones being called snowflakes and elitests and libtards, seem to feel the call to a global citizenship more keenly than others. But that is how some of us are meant to serve the greater good. We are the tender-minded and the kind-hearted, and it is our place to bring empathy and teach compassion to those who do not come by those qualities as easily.

There are some very tough-minded and hard-hearted people in charge now. It is a different brand of leadership than the US has known in many decades. We all have a responsibility to ensure the marginalized members of our society and our planet do not get pushed aside (or worse) in the name of profit or false patriotism.

A child starves to death every four seconds, and we are wrong if we think it doesn’t impact every single one of us. The suffering is collective. The pain and misery and the need to blame has become epidemic. But even acid rain can transform into snowflakes.

I know my language is that of an idealist. And I’m not ashamed. I will always write what I am called to. I will always ask God to guide my words. I will always be grateful to a community that doesn’t throw literal rocks.

To the brave few, specifically Paul King, Brenda McFarlane and Ron Storey, who publicly voiced their opposition to my viewpoints, I am grateful and I forgive you. I hope you will forgive me when you are ready.

January 24th edition of the Warroad Pioneer

Forgiveness is where it begins.

We needn’t try to change each other; that would only be messing with God’s creations.

My hope is that through our disagreements and our despair, through our words that land so differently depending on the ears, that we can come to truly “see” and appreciate each other. I have not seen you and you do not see me. That, in large part, is the root of my despair. We are utterly disconnected.

This is far more than a political battle. This is spiritual warfare, and it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

We as individuals will never be “whole” while we cannot see each other.

I once expressed my belief that we don’t need the right to own the kind of guns that were designed solely for the mass slaughter of human beings. My brother, whom I love dearly but completely disagree with, then labeled me as one of those people who “lay down and die.”

I still don’t know exactly what he meant, but I assume it’s something akin to “snowflake.” If you are inclined to read the thoughts of an 18-year ministry veteran on that term, search for John Pavlovitz and “A Snowflake Manifesto.”

My brother’s words “lay down and die” have stayed with me, teaching me. When my ego is not smarting from his intentions to injure me, my thoughts often turn to the old story about a marauding overlord and his followers who swept through the land raping, killing and plundering. They came to a monastery high in the mountains and demanded that all the monks leave or be killed at once. Grateful to be spared, every monk did so except for one. When the men reported to their leader that there was one monk who refused to leave, the overlord became enraged. Never having been disobeyed before, the furious overlord made his way to the seated monk, held his sword at the man’s throat and screamed, “Don’t you know that I can kill you at this moment?”

The monk calmly replied, “Don’t you know that I can let you?”

In that instant, the overlord dropped his sword and fell to his knees, transformed.

That is what I pray for. That is what I will fight towards. Yes, the time for despair has passed. Now it’s time to get back to bringing the light.

January 31 edition of the Warroad Pioneer

Not Ready to Make Nice

 

My feelings are hurt.

Again.

I mean, still.

I try not to have feelings, but unfortunately, I just can’t help it.

Yeah, this is about politics again. Our supposedly broken country, you know…the one that was just starting to work for so many of us, is about to inaugurate a man I wouldn’t let near my child. Continue reading “Not Ready to Make Nice”

A Minority Victory

(Column 41 – Published November 15th in the Warroad Pioneer)

It has been a tough week to stay positive. Trumpers everywhere are telling us to quit whining and to accept defeat with grace and dignity – in less kind words, of course, and just as they would have if Hillary had won, no doubt.

It was a cruel election season, and though the election is over the cruelty isn’t. It’s as if Trump’s indecency has given anyone who wants it the permission to be just as awful.

An acquaintance found out I was for Hillary and told me because of all the Trump flags and signage he had assumed “The Angle was safe” from the likes of me. A brother called me stupid for voting for her and said he was “pissed-off that I didn’t think like him.” A brother-in-law unleashed a whole smelly stream of vitriol on my Facebook page and when I asked him to take his negativity elsewhere, he flat out refused. He was the first person I unfriended. A sister texted me a propaganda video entitled The Clinton Pedophile Satanic Network with a cover photo of a presumably dead woman smeared in entrails and floating in a tub of blood. A sister-in-law posted dozens of cruel and hateful memes about Hillary Clinton and her supporters – as if there were still voting going on. She was the second person I unfriended.

These are all from what I would have called good, hard-working Christian folk. Golden Rule, much?

Being white, I haven’t been subjected to one of the hundreds of acts of blatant racism and violence happening around the country in the wake of the election.

It is not a good time to be anything other than white, Christian and conservative in this country.

So, fall in line, folks. Support our new president, Dems. Quit whining, bitches. Pull up your big girl britches and get back to work, sweetheart.

But I can’t.

And I won’t.

My little Hillary yard sign remains. Not because I think she should be president, but because I want everyone to know that I proudly did not vote for what is about to ensue in this country. And because I’m going to hold everyone who voted for him accountable.

You need to make sure that he “will create jobs like no one else.” You need to make sure that he provides something “better” than the Affordable Care Act. You need to make sure he makes life better for inner city blacks, where he assumes they all live. You need to make certain he fulfills all of his positive campaign promises. Were there any? Oh yeah, he’s going to bring the production of Oreos back to the States. That’s a good one. Let’s make sure we are making all of our sugary, fatty poisons right here in our own promised land.

If you wanted the wall and for Hillary to be locked up, sorry to disappoint you, but he’s already capitulated on those – just good campaign tactics, no doubt. They made for good rally chants, at the least.

After the election, I listened again to the book “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz on my long and lonely daily drive to town. It’s a quick read and an even quicker listen; I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to live with integrity. It helped me remember to have hope in humanity, even the indecent ones, even the cruel ones.

Column 41.png

We are diseased, we humans. Sick in the head. We have all made a million little agreements about how to be and how to act. And, all our resulting beliefs stem from a fear that we will be judged for not meeting those millions of agreements. In truth, we are sleeping behind a functioning façade. But we can wake up, and I intend to.

The Four Agreements are:

  1. Be Impeccable with your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

  1. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

  1. Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

  1. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

(The above summaries are not my own and I wasn’t able to find proper attribution as they are on numerous sites exactly as written.)

I break these agreements all the time, but with awareness I always come back to them and continue to grow in love and integrity. In a first draft of this column, I had outlined them using Trump as an example of what not to do, but that was not being impeccable with my word. I had to scrap it. I start over all the time.

Trumpers, you squeaked by in a minority victory. More people in this country voted for Hillary than for Trump. Please treat us with respect and dignity. You have extremists in your ranks, as do we. Let’s not judge the whole by the few.

If you voted for Trump, you now have a tremendous responsibility to hold him accountable, as we all do. I wish we could hope for a more presidential man, a man who would live by The Four Agreements, as if he’d magically change from campaign trail to Oval Office. But part of his appeal is “what you see is what you get.” He himself declared that he is very unpredictable, so that’s what we’ll deal with for the next four years. And believe you me, it’s only gonna be four years.

This too shall pass.

(Note: In print, the Pioneer substituted “horrifically graphic” for the phrase “presumably dead woman smeared in entrails and floating in a tub of blood.” They also edited out the profanity from “Quit whining, bitches.”)

“I’m not racist,but…” I Am

Column 40 Published in the November 8 Warroad Pioneer

We had buried my grandpa earlier in the day and though many of us were emotionally spent, we gathered for living-room conversation of light-hearted fare, marriage, babies, the future.

An old family friend and self-made pastor was commanding the floor in his well-intended, often over-bearing comedic way. With my pregnant cousin and her hubby at the center of it, he steered the conversation from jokes about baby names to having all your babies with the same father to “those women down in the Cities who have 14 children with 14 different men” – his words.

Normally I would find a quick exit at that point. Words such as those collide with all my spinal sensory nerves, make my root chakra wince and then I flee.

But grief does funny things to filters, to nerves, to practiced patterns.

The speaker didn’t falter. “I’m not racist,” he continued loudly to the group, “buuuut…” and then, muting his voice with his hand he said glibly out of the corner of his mouth, “…but they’re almost always black.”

Without raising my voice, I quipped, “Anyone who says “I’m not racist, but…’ is most decidedly racist.” This got a laugh from my sister, who nodded her agreement. The pastor hadn’t heard me, nor, in my cowardice, had I intended him to.

He continued his tiresome schtick, but the group had quietly divided its attention. My uncle sitting near me turned and said in an exasperated tone, “I’d like to see ONE person who’s NOT racist.” We were still speaking quietly at the outskirts of the small circle, lounged comfortably on my grandpa’s worn living room furniture. Everything quickly got very uncomfortable.

It was one of those moments I wish I had practiced for; the kind that afterwards I would relive again and again, perfecting the response in my mind.

Before I could spit something out, he turned even more directly to me and asked, “What? You’re not racist?”

Though my first instinct was to blurt a vehement “No!”, I stuttered for a second, processing thoughts of all the current events and the volatile national conversation on race.

I stopped myself from a simple denial.

Absolute truth seemed infinitely more important in that moment than simply defending my moral character.

When words came, there was no righteous strength behind them. “I know I have been guilty of it,” I said slowly, cautiously. “I mean, I’m sure I’ve done things…but, I don’t think I’m better than anyone.”

My uncle turned back to face the group but he nodded to show that he was listening.

“I don’t think I’m better than anyone because of their ethnicity,” I continued quietly, “or because of where they come from.

“And I don’t think I’m better than anyone because of their sexual preference.”

I added that last part hastily after realizing that several other family members were listening, specifically one who had taken to Facebook referencing scripture in an argument against homosexuality and against marriage equality. (Note – this was all taking place in late fall of 2014, about a year after Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize gay marriage.)

In my typical passive-aggressive way of responding, I had quickly unfriended her. Now, this little verbal jab felt like vindication for having spent so much energy confused about who Christians purport to be and my perceptions of their intolerance for the very people to whom Jesus would have ministered.

The not-racist exchange ended there, and I got up pretending to be concerned about what my toddler was doing elsewhere in the house. In the moment, it had felt egotistically good to finally speak a small piece, but there was no feeling of glee or gloat, just an overwhelming sadness that compounded succinctly with the existing grief.

The thing is, these are not “bad” people, the not-racist pastor nor my extended family. They are hard-working, lower-middle class, Bible-believing people who try to lead good lives and are simply a product of their environment, just like me and just like everyone else.

Perceiving their ignorance only strengthens my own. I must forgive and I must ask for forgiveness.

But, I cannot and will not align myself with the likes of their beliefs, the limitations of their religion, nor their political candidates.

A recent funny but telling social media meme goes, “Another way to look at an election is to see who the Nazi’s and Klansmen support, and then maybe look elsewhere.”

Seriously.

November 8th, the day this paper comes out, is my 41st birthday. November 8th marks eight short month of non-drinking for Tony and me. And, November 8th will tell us if a misogynist or a feminist will take the oval office. Yep, it’ll be a big day in my house.

I grew up telling anyone who would listen that I want to be the first woman president of the United States. At the very least, I’m hoping I get to vote for one.

Back to the not-racist pastor, our old family friend … last week, in a subtly-threatening public post written directly to me on a NW Angle non-profit organization’s Facebook page, he called himself a “representative of God” said he had to love his friends’ kids, and told me I needed to get some help. On a photo of a quilt-raffle, no less.

When my flee impulse resided, I had to laugh. What else can you do?

It was the most bizarre outreach I’ve ever encountered. From a man who used to tease and tug on my baby blonde curls, sing funny songs and make me feel so special. Tony, ever the wise diplomat, said simply, “ignore him.” My decision, which clearly proves why I could never get elected to anything, is to write about it in the paper.

I don’t call myself a Christian, but I do learn from the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Dear one, you interpret your Bible and I’ll interpret mine. You vote your beliefs and I’ll vote mine. We are no different, you and I. We both cling to the beliefs of fear, because that is all beliefs are. Every belief, right down to the big one about a God that exists and resides outside of ourselves, takes us further from being Truth Realized and achieving Christ-consciousness.

Clearly, your Jesus would never send messages over a private email server.

And my Jesus? Well, he would never assault women and call names, build walls and deport immigrants, defraud students and mock POWs, make fun of the handicapped and make money owning casinos and strip joints. Jesus wouldn’t sleep with the wives of other men let alone brag it, and he wouldn’t cheat on his wife. In fact, he might stand beside his spouse through a very public, very difficult time of moral failings, not unlike a certain woman candidate who did just that and for which she is now harshly judged.

There are many more comparisons, but the election is over. My breath is wasted.

You don’t believe you’re racist and you do believe you are a representative of God.

I don’t believe I’m not racist. I don’t believe anything. Or at least I’m getting there.

I just Am.

My Dream about God and Donald Trump

Column 38 published in the October 25th, 2016 issue of the Warroad Pioneer

I woke early one morning from a dream in which I had given birth to an impossibly small baby who, for a short time, spoke with absolute clarity. In a motherly baby-talk way of sorts, I asked her/him (the gender wasn’t clear nor was it important), “how have you learned to speak so well?” The wee infant smiled kindly and said, “This is Source.”

It was quickly understood that we had a few minutes of connection to ask whatever we wanted. As all the great questions of “above and below” were tumbling through my mind, a man in my group blurted out, “Why Donald Trump? And will he win?”

Loud external noises suddenly interrupted us, but the asker was able to get very close and hear some of what was said. When the noise died away, the child had stopped talking.

“Well?” someone else asked, fearful anticipation in his voice.

“It wasn’t the answer we were hoping to hear,” the asker said, slowly. He mumbled on about the candidate choices.

The dream shifted then into a related scene of panic and chaos, as word of the “prophecy” had spread like wildfire. The country was quickly descending into terror as it was now certain our future was dire. We would approach third-world country status, and great poverty would overtake us.

Images of the wealthy Trump Family Rulers were everywhere in attempts to assure people that they were the saviors and everything would be ok.

Huge portions of the people would flee as refugees, carrying what little they could on their backs.

Right before I woke up I remember feeling a sense of absolute peace, even as I looked around at people scrambling to collect their last vestiges of precious memories and “stuff.” Sadly, most of us were not yet thinking about survival needs.

I knew I was witnessing an epic demonstration of the effects of fear on a sensory-numbed nation. But surprisingly, I felt safe and calm trusting in God’s will—a sensation very new to me—even while knowing that many of us, likely my newborn and myself, would perish. I felt accepting of the fact that at that point in time, there was no going back. This is what now had to happen in order for peace to finally overtake humanity, even though it would be a road of suffering and death to get there.

When I awoke, my daughter was dreaming fearfully and thrashing about. I pulled her close and grabbed my phone to write down the dream.

I thought of the ballot that had just arrived by mail this week.

While it is private matter, I will share that my vote is slated for Hillary Clinton for many, many reasons.

But in the dream, a vote for Donald Trump helps harken the destruction of a comfortable often immoral way of life in order to hasten humanity along the path of peace and connection to Source., i.e., an investment in the belief that great darkness must come before great light.

The dream also examined my own fears and the illusions of safety I hold on to by living in near-isolation here at The Angle. As people were scrambling in fear, I held my tongue about the safe place I knew of for fear that we would be overrun – just as the under-loaded lifeboats did as the Titanic was sinking.

I also got the sense upon waking that we had likely misheard or at least misinterpreted the wee child. The loud noise that interrupted us was a garbage collection truck across the street and surely represented the lengths to which our egos (or the Devil, if you prefer) go to keep us from hearing the truth, the voice of God. Our group was outside and comfortable in a makeshift shelter, so there wasn’t an option of closing a window to the noise. The similarities to the nativity scene become more obvious after the fact, including the group of unknown people who were with me and the downplayed physical birth.)

The dream seemed to be telling me that when we do hear God, if we’re not accustomed to the voice or do not have faith in the good will of what we’re being told to do, our egos will quickly twist anything into fear-gripping reality. God probably just sighs and waits patiently as we take the hard-road yet again. Returning to God, remembering our Truth, connection to Source (whatever you want to call it) is inevitable. God is infinitely patient, kind and loving, especially through the destruction that our own fears set upon us. The destruction does not come from God, and in fact, if you want to get down to brass tacks, we can even choose not to label it as destruction, since the final result will always be Peace in the end.

The dream also reinforced for me the idea that there are many paths to get There, some more “comfortable” than others. Indeed, a check in a ballot box here or there will both lead to God. We don’t get to determine yay or nay. We only get to determine the length of “time” and our perceived suffering along the way.

I’ve never really been one to take the easy way.

I seem to like the lessons that come from looking darkness square in the face and then decidedly choosing the light.

But now, with others to think of beyond just myself, lessons-hard-learned aren’t as appealing. I don’t want to watch my daughter suffer so that I can get anywhere more quickly. Still, our egos will always be attracted to fear, especially now in our shock-and-awe-seeking culture.

Two other interesting facets of the dream …

  1. in the pitch black of my room, I turned my phone on at exactly 4:20am.

One of the lessons I am learning now is that I have given everything I see around me the meaning it holds for me. Nothing has true meaning other than God/Source/the Divine because God is all that Is. God is the only eternal. Everything else is meaningless, despite all of the silly definitions and labels I have applied to things and people and ideas through my conditioning. ALL of that conditioning is fear-based.

4:20 has a subversive meaning in our culture, yet I must take no meaning with me, lest I turn to judgement, guilt, condemnation and thereby further separation from God. I can see that it was again the work of the ego trying to force a divide.

And 2) In our quickening towards fear in the dream, no one stopped to analyze the question asker’s response. When the distracting noise had quieted, he didn’t tell us what the wee babe had answered; he only said, “it wasn’t the answer we were hoping for.” The layers of filters and eons of implied meanings the Truth went through between his conditioned mind and mine played out as one would expect: fear, uncertainty and doubt. i.e., Chaos. I was reminded upon waking of the old saying “the finger that points to the moon is not the moon.” Surely, in our well-intentioned, self-perceived righteousness, we have glorified this or that path based on our own conditioning for far too long.

God has given us everything. Period. Everything we need to be still and realize peace. We are not just God’s adopted children, we are part of God as Christian’s understand that Jesus was. God gave us Jesus, not to lord above us, but to teach us. The job of any good teacher is to impart ALL they know and teach themselves out of a job. Jesus had to live the life of a human since we identify as humans and had to teach that he was also God, since we are also of God. His modeling of a life purely connected to Source was and is our key to Peace, to salvation. Know that we are of God, and it will be so. The fear and all the perceived destruction that accompanies it will fall away into the falseness that it has always been.

But, our egos still have a hold and a tight one at that. We fear being of God because deep-down we believe it will end life as we know it. We are attracted to the dramatic displays of our own sin, our own guilt, our own condemnation and crucifixion. It makes for darn good TV. And most of us haven’t left that teenage mentality that everyone is watching us and everything we do matters, hence the popularity of social media and the brashen displays of our pretend perfect lives or our overly real suffering dramas. Nowadays, it is especially entertaining to point at the guilt of others and condemn and crucify them even more harshly than we would ourselves.

Fear is everything we project onto others and the inanimate objects around us.

Love is what we extend. Love is of ourselves and we are love because we are of God.

When we assign meaning or blame or guilt or anything other than Love, we are projecting fear.

It is our egos at work. Not God. Somewhere along the way, I heard EGO as an acronym for Edging God Out. We’ve gotten really good at doing that in this get-and-take society, in this blood-bath of an election.

I dreamed that I gave birth to a vehicle for Truth, and it made me remember that God has already given me everything. Even Donald Trump.