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. (

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.