Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What brings me joy? Lenten Journey 2017

Erzulie's Arsenal by Renee Stout. 2013
mix media wood.  Haley Institute of Contemporary Art
"Let us dance in the sun, wearing flowers in our hair." 
~ Susan Polis Schulz. 

“There are random moments - tossing a salad, coming up the driveway to the house, ironing the seams flat on a quilt square, standing at the kitchen window and looking out at the delphiniums, hearing a burst of laughter from one of my children's rooms - when I feel a wavelike rush of joy. This is my true religion: arbitrary moments of of nearly painful happiness for a life I feel privileged to lead.” ~  Elizabeth BergThe Art of Mending



Lent is here and spring is right around the bend.  I can feel the sharp winter winds at my back and the warmth of spring rains on my face.  The trees are beginning to bud up and the birds are back (earlier than usual). 

As you are aware, I look at the Lenten season differently.  Lent is not about giving up.  It is about creating sacred space for reflection and for putting my life in order.  Okay, giving-up things that are barriers between MotherFather Spirit and me.  This space gives me time to face these barriers straight on.  A good Spring Cleaning of my soul. 

This past week I read this great blog by writer Candice Benbow.  Benbow poses the following questions she intends to reflect on during Lent: "What makes you feel alive? What brings you joy? How do you need to be reminded that God wants you to flourish? Might I suggest answering these questions and leaning into some of the answers over the next 40 days."  

I have reflected on many questions, but joy, not so much. What does it mean to have joy as a woman?  I plan on exploring these questions too and I invite you to come with me on my springing into spring journey.


Beethoven Symphony 9, IV Movement "Ode to Joy"

 

Exercise: What Brings Me Joy? 
Over the next 5 days write a list using free writing for 10 minutes.  Whatever comes to your head, write it down.  Write whatever needs to be written.  Just keep it moving.  (Below is my daily writing.  Note your ideas will be different.


What brings me joy? I like going to a movie. Going to foreign films to learn about different cultures - traveling two hours to another place for $8 - $10.  Meditation. Yoga. Singing. Running. Going up stairs and not getting winded. Driving with the window down and feeling the wind go through my fingers.  Forgetting the ill and pains of the world one moment. Green grass. Sitting on the beach and listening to the waves. Listening to the birds in the morning. The beginning sun change in February.  A candle with a faint scent of bergamot flickering on my table as I write.
This brings me joy.
A tiny baby reaching out. Eating with my entire family--surrounded. Just listening to stories like how my uncle had a gas station and how famous people came to it driving from Detroit or Chicago to Cleveland. Chicken farm stories.  Painting. Sewing. Knitting.  My friends - even when I'm not so great of a friend.
What brings me joy?
I like running and the after run feeling. I like to escape into the land of reading.  I like gardening. I like sewing. I like writing. I like eating.  I like cooking.  I like hiking.  I like having a clean home.  I like dancing. I like the arts.  I like doing things with my hands.  I like creating.  Lighting a candle. A sunbeam. Seeing my cats sit and snooze in the sunbeam.  The sun through leaves and seeing the veins and the lightening of the leaves.  Red and blue glass and holding a piece of pink quartz and feeling it vibrate.  Watching my cat wash her face the way the sun lightens her black coat. Sunny cloudless blue sky days. Forsythia bending in spring winds.  Almond croissants full of butter and crispy. Crunchy popcorn.  Chocolate mint ice cream.  Smell of spring.
This is what brings me joy.
Morning quietness.  PBS.  Dancing and twirling.  Walking long distance.  Dinner.  Good egg breakfast.  Traveling. Prague. Glastonbury. Luca. Frankfort. Kyoto. Picasso.  Dali. Art museums. Painting with oils and feeling the smoothness of the brush across the canvas. Having my toes painted.  
These things give me joy...
Flamenco, science, mysteries, finishing up a creative project, guitar, piano - Beethoven, Chopin, listening to music, flowers, growing things from seeds, learning something new, Z, T, my cats, my family, my friends, 
Joy Joy Joy
A rainy day for reading, freedom to travel, freedom to become what I want to become, my house, my bed, my sofa, my computer when it is happy and moving face, ocean, SOF, my writing group, Lake Erie and watching a storm come in. Things run smoothly like butter cream frosting. Pie.  Coconut Cream Pie made with coconut milk.  Chocolate.   Tres Leche Cake.  Baking my Aunt Sue's cardamom bread.  Dancing with friends.  Lunch and a good book.  Lunch with girlfriends.  Out with girlfriends.













Monday, February 27, 2017

What are you for?

Infinity Mirror Room Phallis Field 1965. by Yayoi Kusama
"You can't save people. You can only love them." ~  Anais Nin

“Don't seek love externally, it's fleeting. Go beyond the ego and awaken the love that already exists within; it will encompass everyone and everything in your life; it will permeate your very being.” ~ Danielle Pierre

“A positive needs a negative to complete its cycle, as the Moon needs an embodiment of itself, the Sun, to complete the cycle of its illusory essence, the Earth. Now if the earth is in dire straits, is bombing the moon to discover whether water is ‘perceived’ in the natural stance of humans an intelligent move?” ~ Aainaa Ridtz


Binding Spell: are used to prevent someone or something from causing harm. They aren't the same as curses, where you inflict harm on another person. They are similar to, but slightly different from protection spells, which are meant to protect you from bad things occurring. (www.everythingunderthemoon.com)

Hex: 1) A spell or curse; 2) Brings bad luck (Webster)

A binding spell recipe is currently been shared on social media. (Here is an example of one) Personally, I feel binding has a place, but you have to be careful. CAUTION should be in the back of your mind whenever binding, hexing, and cursing. You must be aware the spell can come back to bite you in the bum. Another consideration is a higher power and the law of giving and receiving govern all spells: the good, the bad and the ugly. The higher power and the law always influence the net result and the results may not turn out as how you planned.

Another consideration is the person who is performing the spell. What is your frame of mind? Why are you doing this? Are you reacting or are you acting out of love for all humanity?  All good questions you should ask yourself.  

Reading and reflecting on the proposed spell, I’ve identified a problem. It appears to focuses on one individual. My analysis and gut reaction? I believe the problem is bigger than the identified individual who is the focus of the spell. I also believe this spell doesn’t get to the root of the “infection.” This spell doesn’t act like an antibiotic killing the root contagion.  It acts like more of a band-aid. 

Putting on my health hat, if we get down to the nitty-gritty of this issue, we all have been infected with the same disease that has infected the person identified in the spell. Think PANDEMIC. The difficulties with this acquired disease are each individual manifests the symptoms and signs differently. Personally, I wish bacteria, a chemical, or virus caused this disease. We could identify the source, create vaccines and/or other course of treatment. When an out-break occurs we would follow WHO’s international protocol to help stop the spread. We would also develop guidelines for prevention.

I wish I could say I’m free of the infection, but this is a lie. I
Lingering Dream by Yayoi Kusama
have biases and violent tendencies too (i.e., I like to thrust my imaginary sword for justice, and in my youth I liked to play hard on the soccer field, and have been known to yell and raise my voice at my children). I’ve grown up in a culture and society that rewards being King of the Mountain and kicking people down versus culture and society that rewards sharing and helping someone who is down. I have been exposed to the same infectious agent as the one who the spell is being directed.


Sure, I don’t do all the things that this person does. It takes a lot of work to keep my infection in check. I try daily to dismantle my prejudices and biases. I try to put out kindness and somedays I don’t have that energy. What really keeps my infection in check is my devotion to a world where all people feel like they are heard and belong. I am devoted to the beloved community that Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks about.   

Making Peace
By Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
                                              A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Levertov, Denise. “Making Peace.” Breathing the Water. New York:New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1987.  


I've written about this before.  Our actions effect the things around us.  If we cut a tree down, we lose our relationship with the tree (CO2 to O2 relationship), shade, helper in soil erosion...  The way we treat other people effects our world. 

This is the time to really reflect on your personal ethics.  What do you stand for?  What are you devoted to?  This is your point of reference.  This is what you should be aligning your heart and mind to when you act. Your actions should be inspired by your devotion and not a reaction to the oppressive forces.     





Saturday, February 18, 2017

Emma Watson's Books on the Underground


Emma Watson
There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.  ~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis


Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. ~ Angela Carter


Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. –Maya Angelou


It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. –Judy Blume

 
I am always keep my ear out for women who are doing interesting acts of kindness.  I am also interested in unique ways young women are changing things up.  Emma Watson (recognized as Hermione from her Harry Potter Days), actress, activist and UN Ambassador for her organization He for She, is hiding books in the subway stations as her new literary philanthropy project: Books on the Underground.  The books are part of a Feminist Book Club called Our Shared Shelf.  She takes a picture of where the book is hidden and shares it on Instagram.  She is using books for the public to the talk about feminist issues.  Those who join her "club" are asked to read one feminist book a month and talk with someone about the book.
 
I have been doing my own book sharing by releasing the novels I read during graduate school.  All revolve around social justice issues.  I have been leaving them at the Free Little Library Project at my local food pantry.  
 
Below is my own social justice book reading list for 2017.  Books I've read so far:
 
Re-read:  In Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez  (What sister are you?)
 
Oran's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian (What would you have done in this circumstance?)
 
Wonder by R. J. Palacio (How do you treat and talk about people who have disabilities?)
 
Bridging the class divide and other lessons for grassroots organizing by Linda Stout    (Written in 1997, many of Linda's examples are true twenty years later.  How does it feels to be left out and not welcomed at the table.)
 
Another spin to my project this year is to use my local library.  Why?  Libraries provide you free access to book, e-books, audio books, and knowledge so you can think for yourself and make your own decisions.  They are also a place for you to meet members of your community.  Libraries are a place for me to spread kindness magic. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Holes that need mending

Illustration for Little Mermaid by Asami Kiyokawa. 2007. Fabric
“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” ― James Baldwin

“Sometimes that’s all it takes. Just one person to turn everything on its head. Remind you of the person you were.” ― Samantha Towle, Trouble

“You know, life fractures us all into little pieces. It harms us, but it's how we glue those fractures back together that make us stronger.” ― Carrie Jones, Entice





There seems to be a lot of things that need mending in my life, and I am not just talking about the loose buttons, ripped skirt hems, and snagged holes in my sweaters. My son’s used car’s engine is beyond repair. My butterfly bush needs pruning again due to an ice storm. Did I mention I have family relationships that need transformation after ten years of not speaking and a reckoning is coming soon due to a death of a favorite Uncle. Then, there is the living room walls need re-painted. Writing this list down, they all seem pretty restorable. (Okay not the car.)


Really what I am driving at is something bigger. Right now. At this moment. A chasm is expanding. I watch the hole rip wider from a leader who is rallying others to stalk, beat-up, and deface personal property of those who are different (e.g., racism, sexism, abilities, agism).  No matter how much I attempt or my friends attempt to stabilize it by sewing patches or knitting stitches--it grows.  I knew there was this undercurrent, but I never knew its extent.  It feels far worse than having my big toe poke through a hole in my hose while I’m at work and don’t have a replacement pair.   




Syende fiskerpige by Anna Ancher. 1890. oil on canvas.
See it at Randers Kunstmuseum 




Two Sewing 
By Hazel Hall, 1921

The wind is sewing with needles of rain;
With shining needles of rain
It stitches into the thin
Cloth of earth—in
In, in, in.
(Oh, the wind has often sewed with me!—
One, two, three.)

Spring must have fine things
To wear. Like other springs.
Of silken green the grass must be
Embroidered. (One and two and three.)
Then every crocus must be made
So subtly as to seem afraid
Of lifting color from the ground
And after crocuses the round
Heads of tulips, and all the fair
Intricate garb that Spring will wear
The wind must sew with needles of rain,
With shining needles of rain
Stitching into the thin
Cloth of earth—in,
In, in, in—
For all the springs of futurity
(One, two, three.)



I don't have any easy answer for this problem.  I saw this video yesterday by Robby Fischer entitled: "Fight Despair with Defiance."  It gave me an energy boost of hope.  
The take home message for me was a radical and defiant person takes action against a bully by using their gifts and talents to make a difference.  It isn't about changing the bully's life. Instead, the defiant person creates the community they want to have no matter what the bully says.  

The bully and his/her crowd is not going to listen to your analysis and logic.  Instead they will use your information and turn it around by lying, discrediting, intimidating and isolating you. 


Fischer calls us to use our gifts and talents.  If your gifts and talents are chaining yourself to fences during a protest--use it.  If your gifts and talents are gardening--use it and fill your community's pantries with food and teach kids to grow food. If your gifts and talents are art, music, or writing--use it.  This is what will overpower the bullies and their followers in the end.   Your gifts and talents creating a beloved community.


BIG TAKE HOME: Don't tear each other down.  If you aren't into marching--don't tear down the people who are into marching.  If you aren't into picking up the phone and calling to voice your opinion--don't tear that person who is has this passion to do this.  If you aren't into gardening--don't tear that person down who is putting food on the table.


INSTEAD: Honor and celebrate how we each show our gifts of courage against the bully by creating a community where kindness rules and everyone has a voice and feels like they belong.  





Friday, February 3, 2017

Celtic Season: Candlemas & Education



Kizette in Pink by Tamara de Lempicka,
1923. Oil.  See it at
Mussee deBeaux-Arts de Nantes, France.



“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” –Confucius



"One of the best ways of enslaving a people is to keep them from education… The second way of enslaving a people is to suppress the sources of information, not only by burning books but by controlling all the other ways in which ideas are transmitted.”
—Eleanor Roosevelt 




"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela 









2017 I plan on celebrating the Celtic Season by reflecting on humanitarian issues I am passionate about. Based on my title and quotes, you should figure out I’m focusing on education.


One of my favorite books I used to read to my child was Beatrice’s Goat written by Page McBrier and illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter. It is a true story about Beatrice Biira, a nine year old Ugandan girl, whose family is given a dairy goat. This family’s life is changed by this gift. The goat brings nourishing milk to the family, and the extra milk they are able to sell. With the extra funds Beatrice’s family is able to purchase medicine, and raise enough money for tuition to send her and her siblings to school.

Beatrice’s story doesn’t end with her attending elementary school. She is able to complete high school, and attend college and graduate school in the U.S. Today she is working to help end world poverty at Heifer International.

The book always struck me, Beatrice's family had to pay for her to go to school.  If it wasn't for the gift of the goat, according to UNICEF, Beatrice would join the 
61 million children of primary school age (about 6 to 11 years), 60 million young adolescents of lower secondary school age (about 12 to 14 years), and 142 million youth of upper secondary school age (about 15 to 17 years) who were out of school. She would be one of the estimated 250 million children in the world cannot read, write or do basic math.

UNICEF data indicates that girls are the most marginalized groups, with more than fifty percent being excluded from education. UNICEF also found that most children not attending school were from the poorest of families, from rural areas, and/or from ethnic or linguistic minorities. Other reasons children didn’t attend were the children had disabilities, the children were refugees, or the children needed to help their families provide for the basic survival needs (i.e., food, shelter, clothing...).

The lack of access to education has a rippling effect on an individual and communities. Education has been shown to stop cycles of poverty and improve health outcomes. The World Bank study, 2012, showed that women with six or more years of education were more likely to seek prenatal care, assistance in childbirth, and postnatal care thus reducing the risk of maternal and child mortality. Studies have also shown that that if at least forty percent of the population is literate that there is a rapid economic growth. Additionally, A person’s earning increases by ten percent for each school year they receive. 

       
###





1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

###



These past couple of weeks, I've heard a lot of people talking about the benefits of paying it forward. I see public education as a way of paying it forward.  It was Thomas Jefferson who argued, after the Revolutionary War, that tax dollars should be used to fund an educational system. However, some ideas take longer to implement.   

It is amazing to learn that Colonial America did have schools often associated with a religious body.  Some states began establishing public schools in the early 1600s (Boston Latin School, 1635) to provide for a separation of church and state.  Mostly boys attended these schools and were taught reading, writing and mathematics. If girls did receive education, they were taught at home the basics.    
 
Georgia was one of the first states to partially fund public education before the Revolutionary War.  But it was Massachusetts that passed the first compulsory school laws in 1852. New York followed the next year, and by 1918, all American children were required to attend at least elementary school.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, Americans saw public education was more than the basic 3R.  They saw it as a way to establish our countries values (Declaration of Independence and Constitution) and understand the stories and the people that make up this country.  It is through these stories, we understand the struggles our ancestors faced: slavery, broken treaties, prejudice...

Despite this great history of endorsing public education, the US ranks 17th place out of 40 countries in a Pearson Report.  Finland and South Korea are at the top of the list. In an interview with the BBC, Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s chief education advisor, stated one reason that these countries scored higher for education was the culture at large thought highly of teachers. If this were to be implemented in the U.S., teachers would have the same rock star status as a CEO of a tech company or sports figure.

Another difference found is the U.S. doesn’t have a constitutional, or statutory, guarantee of the right to education. It is up to each state to determine how they educate their children.  

I see the gift of education as an act of kindness shared with the child across the street, a teenager bagging your groceries each week, or a stranger across town, on the other side of the state or maybe in another state. If you get down to the nitty gritty, this act of kindness benefits that child, myself, my community and the future citizens of my
community by increasing our economic and health advantages that come with education.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hag Stones: Seeing through the glamour

Single Form by Barbara Hepworth. 1961-1964. Bronze.  See it
at the United Nation's Building, New York.
"We must begin to see ourselves as existing in society not as isolated selves but as part of the whole. " 
– Rev. William Barber.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." — Marianne Williamson

“We are deeply committed to a society where people love one another and don’t kick people when they are down.” - Rev. William Barber


THIS IS AN OFFICIAL ALERT 
FROM THE FAIRY GODMOTHER’S ASSOCIATION

FEAR GLAMOUR

The Fairy GodMother’s Association (FGMA) has just issued an alert. They are investigating an outbreak of “fear glamour.” This magical spell is part of a series of enchantments that fall under Terror Management Series.  It is used to create a "culture of fear."

People who are infected show a mild to extreme, irrational fear towards humanity.  It is largely based on assumptions. FGMA have reported infected people appear to rely on others (including the media, Facebook, and snapchat) to spoon-feed how things should be. Ultimately, FGMA has identified that the spell is being used for the following: to silence or censor people, to isolate people, and pit people against each other based on differences (i.e., rural vs. urban, poor vs. rich, college educated vs. GED, gay vs. straight, conservative vs. liberal, man vs. woman, black vs. white – you get my point).

When talking to infected persons, they appear amnesic regarding their country’s history and/or lack the awareness of the stories about the struggles their ancestresses and ancestors experienced. In extreme cases, the infected person’s fear seems based on their lack of knowing their rights or caring for the rights of other. These individuals describe having a complete sense of hopelessness and a willingness to withdraw from community activities. They are hoping for a knight in shining armor rather than rolling up their sleeves to work on hard moral issues.

This glamour is highly infectious. The U.S.’s last outbreak began in 1950 ~ 1956 and lasted through the 1980 and is commonly referred to the Second Red Scare, Cold War, or McCarthyism.

Recommended Actions for Prevention:

  • There has been some success using a Hag Stone. The stones have the ability to cut through the glamour. The uninfected look through the hole and can see the truth. However, there is an inadequate supply for the stones from Europe due to political control of imports. FGMA is asking people to share.  FGMA has had additional success using the strategically placed Barbara Hepworth's sculptures.   
  • The uninfected should also consider drawing conclusions for themselves. FGMA recommends reading, active listening, having civil conversations with neighbors, and drawing a conclusion for yourself. They also recommend the of the analysis should be around the moral issue: how do we treat each other. Are we generous or stingy? Kind or a bully? Sympathetic or unfeeling? Welcoming or unfriendly?
  • Secondary Prevention for mild cases.  Reducing media and social media consumption and attending a local community event: school play, band concert, helping the food pantry, meditation or prayer circle, or discussion learning group around a moral issue you are passionate about.  

###

Let Them Not Say
by Jane Hirshfield, 1953

Let them not say: we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say: we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say: they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say: it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say: they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something:
A kerosene beauty.

It burned.
Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.

###


This past week I marched in one of the many international women’s marches. We were a sea of pink hats each made to fit the style of the maker. My friend and I were wearing ones I made. The count estimates more than three million people in 500 US cities took to the streets with our signs, slogans, chants and song. There were lone marchers around a suburb block and several on hospital floors. I know there were many women who feared to come out and there were those who thought it was a waste of time or the marchers were sore losers.

For me, the march gave me a jolt like being knocked off my feet from being touched by a fairy wand. The march challenges and inspires me to be re-committed to helping people and to mend holes. The march also reinforced my rights as a citizen of the USA stated in my constitution: “Amendment I: Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

These written rights I have are a privilege other people, mostly women may not have internationally. I also had the privilege of time to attend the march in my home state; a working person may have not had that time. But the purpose for writing down the quote above is for all to see so it can help break this spell of fear.






Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kindness Tea Party - Alternative Narratives


Three Graces by Marie Bracquemond,
1880 oil.See it at Musee d'Orsay, Paris
"Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

“All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.”
Kathryn Stockett, The Help


"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia


We live in a world that is constantly telling us stories. These narratives have a way of shaping our lives.Their plot lines describe what or who to be afraid of; what is a beautiful face or body type; what we should eat; how you should act; or what success looks like. It is hard to escape these stories because they are reinforced by the media and the number of hearts and the reposts. I often find it hard to escape from their grip of my subconscious. Sociologists call these stories the dominant narrative

Jeyne Roberts writes, “There are three sides to every story. Yours. Mine. What really happened.” The dominant narrative is a one-sided story. It pits my story against your story. If your story wins. It becomes the story that is perceived as valid and real. However, there’s a problem with listening to only one side, you don’t get to hear the stories from other perspectives. By not hearing all the stories, I believe you miss out on the nuances of the story. And, if you hear a similar story, you may jump to a conclusion influenced by past plot lines.




I a firm believer of making your own decisions and coming up with your own solutions to problems.  Following the CCWWW philosophy, you need to put on your lab coat and unearth different viewpoints.  You also need to make sure your solutions consider others wants and needs.  By hearing only one viewpoint and choosing the dominant narrative or one story, puts you in conflict with the CCWWW philosophy.  Meaning: everyone should feel like they belong, they are valued and they are heard.  (It doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other person’s story only hear them out).


Song


You don’t listen to what I say.
When I lean towards you in the car
You simply smile and turn away.


It’s been like this most of the day,
sitting and sipping, bar after bar:
You don’t listen to what I say.


You squeeze a lemon from a tray,
And if you guess how dear you are
You simply smile and turn away.


Beyond the hairline of the bay
the steamers call that shore is far.
You don’t listen to what I say:


Surely there’s another way?
The waiter brings a small guitar.
You simply smile and turn away.


Sometimes I think you are too gay,
smiling and smiling, hour after hour.
You don’t listen to what I say.
You simply smile and turn away.

Fuller, John. “Song.” Collected Poems.  London: Chatto & Windus, 1996. 



Kindness Tea Party
I have been doing a lot of reflecting at the end of the year.  One story I have stumbled on is the number of people who state they feel like don’t belong or they are not heard.  I keep hearing and reading in the news and in my Facebook feed.  I’ve also noticed that this story doesn’t seem to fit with the dominant narratives playing out in the media: us versus them, liberals versus conservatives… It makes the story a little more complicated because both us and them are telling this tale. 


The first time I heard about this story of not feeling connected was in a random essay on Facebook.  The story immediately made me think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and number 3 on his pyramid: love and belonging; (and the OSU professor who droned on in a large, hot lecture hall).  Maslow identified that humans need to feel that they belong and are accepted in a group.  We are mammals that require social connection to love and be loved.  This loving connection has increases our survival as a species.  If this need isn’t met than the affected human may develop a laundry list of psychosis: loneliness, social anxiety, depression, and ultimately people who can’t form a relationship. 


And, how do you prevent or fix this problem?


One activity I am launching this year with another co-worker, is a Kindness Tea Party in the work setting. The Tea Party is a magical opportunity for people at my work to connect through food and listening. We are holding it in the late afternoon. I’ve sent the invitation out to about 100 people (paper and via e-mail) and asked them to bring their own cups (fancy hats are welcomed too). Twenty people have responded saying they are planning on coming.



Equipment Needed:
Tablecloth
Napkins
Electric Coffee Urn (Earl Gray Tea)
Electric Pot to heat water for (Hibiscus tea and Green Tea)
Two containers to make the other two teas
Cream container
Sugar
Spoons
Food (shortbread, brownies and a tin of lemon cookies)




No tea is complete without fortunes.  We decided to print off fortune cookie messages and place them in a bowl.