Checking My White Privilege In The Mirror

Remember the Pandemic – That Virus?

Well it hasn’t gone away. But the nice weather had people out protesting “Stay at Home” orders. Men, fully wrapped in their weaponry; marching, pushing their way into State Capital buildings in protest. The president said “These are good people. They’re just angry. Let them speak.” The police stood back…gave them space. Some states then lifted the stay at home orders and opened beaches, parks, some businesses, even bars in some places. And people rushed to them. FREE AT LAST to get the virus or not. “My body. My choice!” They had been heard!

New cases of the virus continue. Latest report says that there are at least 100,000 a day. The death toll is now almost 110,000 in the US.

But Then Something Else Happened

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46 year old black man, died in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed and face down on the street. His offense apparently was that he had passed a counterfeit $20 bill. The entire incident was recorded by a bystander on her cell phone. According to what we see on the video, Mr. Floyd never seemed combative but he was still taken to the ground. Derek Chauvin held him down with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck even as Mr. Floyd cried out “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” The officer held his position while three other officers stood by until Mr. Floyd was non-responsive. The video was then shared on social media as yet another example of police brutality. Yet another! This was extremely hard to watch!

A New Protest – A Real Protest

This time, this video turned into a flashpoint for communities across the country to go to the streets in protest. In the early nights, those protests turned into riots and looting. Stories circulated that this destruction was being instigated by either White Supremist groups (far right) or Antifa (far left). The thought is that the intent was to make the Black protesters look bad. But cell phones were at work highlighting the faces of the instigators. White people. White people were starting the destruction, throwing the first brick.

Some states called for help from their National Guard and the president activated the military riot units to guard the White House. Tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and brute force were used. At one point a large military contingency was used to move peaceful protestors back so the president could cross the street to have his picture taken standing in front of a church and holding up a bible. He has yet to speak to the country with any sort of understanding and reassurance that the protestors voices are being heard. Instead, he has erected an 8 foot tall fence around the perimeter of the White House and has instructed the state’s governors to “Get tough” with the protestors otherwise they will “look foolish”.

Waking Up To A New Reality

People are outraged and more and more officers are being suspended from duty for using excessive force. While police brutality and the death of George Floyd are the focus of the protests, there are other spotlights shining down on…white privilege and systemic racism as a whole. It’s in the spotlight that I find myself being totally uncomfortable. And I’m writing this as my own reflection. I have never seen myself as racist and condemn the acts of White Supremacy but still right now I need to question my white privilege.

Here Are My Thoughts

We are a country who has turned it’s collective back on inequality, let whole populations of minority races live in poverty, brought undocumented immigrants into the country to toil in our fields and clean our resorts. We have let our education system be funded by property taxes knowing full well that wealthy districts can develop great schools while poor districts just get what they can afford. Health care is also based on ability to pay. Poorer paying jobs have little or no health insurance while better paying jobs provide Cadillac coverage. So is it any wonder why more Black people have died from Corona Virus?

At one point, the president signed an executive order to demand that meat packers coming from facilities with high incidents of the virus must return to work. No orders to make sure the facility was following any kind of protective guidelines, just “return to work”. Guess who works primarily in meat packing plants? They are primarily minority people.

A spotlight has been turned on us! White people are standing in this light naked, still holding on to pandemic protest signs that read “I Need A Haircut”.

We, who hoarded toilet paper and filled our freezers with meat while still demanding that the shelves be stocked daily so that they were ready for our next frantic buying spree.

We, who for years, have blamed Black people for not “lifting themselves up by their bootstraps” to get themselves out of poverty, while ignoring the pleas for a living wage. Grocery store workers, meat packers – deemed “Essential Workers” during the quarantine, probably don’t make $15.00 an hour.

We, who watched as a black football player took a knee in a respectful quiet way to protest police brutality. We didn’t support him when his protest caused him to lose his job. We didn’t support him when his protest was turned into “disrespecting the flag”. We didn’t support other football players who were told to stand or else during the National Anthem. This protest was not allowed because it was causing people to turn away from football. It was deemed too offensive.

We, who have watched multiple videos and heard multiple accounts of black people being gunned down for looking suspicious, maybe reaching for a weapon, or running away. Some have been even killed in their own homes! We have let the outrage be carried by black communities while we stayed quiet. And when charges were dropped, which they almost always are, we believed that justice must have been served because we simply did not have all the facts.

We, who allowed cries that “Black Lives Matter” be replaced with “All Lives Matter” and stayed quiet as yard signs and bumper stickers popped up everywhere that said “Blue Lives Matter”, systematically diminishing the whole original message.

Our privileged silence gave permission to white supremacy. We have looked the other way because we, too, did not want to lose our place in society. This place we feel we’ve worked so hard to attain. But did we really? Or were doors opened for us because… we’re white?

I’ve guided my own daughters through adulthood to believe that life is about choices and doors are presented. It’s up to us to choose to walk through them or not.

But now, I see that as the purest example of White Privilege that exists. We Have Choices! We Have Doors That Open! No one is blocking our path. Even our fear is mostly self imposed.

So, now that we are standing here naked, totally exposed for our privileged selves, what are we to do? Well, we have choices, now, don’t we.

  1. We could scream and shout, blaming others for exposing our nakedness or,
  2. We could run from this light and hope that it will be turned off so we can go back to “our normal”,
  3. Or we can admit that we’re ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted with the way we look in this light. And we’d like a chance to get dressed again. Now we may not dress right initially because we’ve been in the dark for a long time, but we’d like to try. We want to learn. We want to listen. We want to help. We want to say that our supremacy was wrong. We want to share the abundance of this country to raise everyone up. We want to unlock doors so everyone has choices. Hopefully, we can find peaceful ways to communicate. Maybe we can even put our guns away! We need to listen more. Listen more, fight less. Listen more, talk less. Listen more. Listen more. Listen more.

We might even be able to make this the new definition of “Make America Great Again.”

I am standing here, now, looking at this person, honestly, in the mirror. I have let myself go. I stopped paying attention for some reason. I let myself rationalize that there was nothing I could do anymore. Now, I am being honest with this person. All the white privilege that exists in my closet right now needs to be replaced.

Checking In On Your “Busy”

“Stay At Home” Order

You know how it is when someone dies?  How all of your scheduled “busy” rushes before your eyes until you check yourself?  Someone just died!  Your “busy” is not important right now.  NOT IMPORTANT AT ALL!  And in that moment, you stop! Stunned by the realization that nothing really matters more, at this moment, than this loss.

Dealing With The Loss Of “Normal”

And you cry, first for the person but then for yourself.  Your loss!  Nothing will be the same again.

And you go through the days filling in the empty with arrangements.  Who will take care of that person’s “busy”?  Who will want to know and cry along with you?  They will want to grieve their loss too. You keep yourself wrapped up in this world of grief and loss and sadness and anger and denial and blame for as long as it takes: an isolation imposed on you until everything is made right or as close to right as can happen.

Acceptance

But then something else happens.  The sun comes up.  You look at it, surprised!  Doesn’t the sun know that nothing is supposed to be the same anymore?  But there it is, shining; filling the day with brightness.  You can’t help but smile!  That sun seems to be smiling at you too, reminding you that things do go on.

And then you hear the birds, They’re singing!  “Now is not the time!” you start to say but then you stop yourself.  Why not sing now? Why not let yourself feel joy? Why shouldn’t you take in this moment?

After all, this moment, that sunshine, those birds are there as a gift for you.

This moment, that sunshine, those birds.

Oh I know. They weren’t in you schedule; your list of “busy”.  But they’re there now.

Make a New Normal

Maybe they always were.  You just didn’t take the time to notice. Now that you notice though perhaps they should be put into your schedule. You’ve been given a chance to redefine your list of “busy”.

Out of every loss comes a new normal.

 

#She Persisted

I had a dream last night, the kind that stick with you after you wake.

I was looking for a tool to scrap old paint off my windows and there it was the perfect thing at a neighbors house. I asked to use it saying I’d even pay for its use. He said sure and then felt a need to add “Probably you can get your son-in-law to help you with the job.” Now it was just a scraper and I just looked at him! He said, “Well, do you want to rent it or not?” And I said, “I’m sorry, I just have to get over my feelings about you assuming that I’d need help to use a scraper!” And he returned that same confused look back to me! And then I woke up.

Even laying there awake, I was agitated. Why are women still not viewed as capable? And I sadly thought of the announcement that Elizabeth Warren was dropping out of the presidential campaign. Why had she not gained the traction that she needed? She was smart, eloquent, prepared. Still, there was a fear that she could not stand up to the likes of Donald Trump. Still have to fight man to man?

I raised two girls and now am watching three more baby girl grandchildren grow in this world that has battled with the simple idea of equality. I have shared story after story with my daughters about how I was raised to assume a female role of housekeeping and childcare while protecting a man’s self esteem. I told them and showed them that we were smart too, that we had every capability that a boy has and all we had to do was march out into the world with confidence.

Two divorces later, I can still hear my brother’s warning: Be careful not to surpass your husband at work. It will hurt his ego.” I had surpassed both of them. I was still confident. I had a right to grow just as much as they did. One husband used emotional abuse to try to hold me back, and the other just quit his job and took up residence on a local barstool. My desire to be the best I could be in my field had, indeed, lead them to believe that they were somehow worthless.

And so here we go again, we had the opportunity to show our daughters and granddaughters that an intelligent woman could lead us and we caved, too worried that a woman can’t take on a man even though the woman is better prepared. What do we actually say to our baby girls? We say, “She persisted and so will we.”

Call On The Butterfly When It’s Time To Change

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It’s Time For A Change

Time to once again find the courage to break free of a self-imposed cocoon. I need you right now, Butterfly.  Remind me:

Lighten up.  Stop taking everything so seriously. It’s time to make a change. In spite of the challenges, you’ll get through this transition…as always, remember, “this too shall pass”.  (Farmer, S.D., 2006)

Ok, ok. I can do this.

Every Single Time, I Freak Out!

I’ve lived long enough to have experienced change before.  Many times, actually.  Yet, every single time, my brain goes into “freak out” mode.  Still, still, I never ever let that fear stop me from making that change!  NEVER!

Sometimes, it slowed me down, though, I have to admit.  Fear is such a powerful force.  And, slowing down is actually not a bad response.  So I will say that fear can be a healthy thing, for a time.  But, fear should never be used as a REASON to stop you from changing.

So, over my life time, I have learned how to breathe through fear and embrace change.

Praying Through It All

You know, when I was a little kid, I was taught to say specific prayers.  Raised Catholic, I endured rosary after rosary and it was called “praying”.  I didn’t get it.  I wasn’t praying! I was simply barking out memorized lines of a chant.  “Hail Mary, full of grace, the lord is with thee…”  Over and over again, we would repeat these lines because we needed to ask God for forgiveness for our sins.

It wasn’t until I was older that I actually found the courage to tell my mother that I wanted to just talk to God, not say so many Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s.  She did not approve!  Still, it was then that I truly learned how to pray.  But for years, I didn’t pray because I thought praying was all about asking for something, begging for something and I didn’t think it was right to think that I deserved anything better than anyone else.  It was years later that I found that I could actually pray to God in thankfulness.  And I did, and I do most every night.

But then there are those times where I am going through a change and my brain is freaking out and I find myself begging for a sign that everything will be ok.  It was during one of these “freak out” sessions that I learned of Animal Spirit Guides by Steven D. Farmer.  It was at this moment that I felt, for the first time, that I could feel and see guidance from the spirit world.  And, for maybe the first time in my life, I felt that I didn’t have to push through a change on my own anymore.

Now, I talk to God but I also talk to family members who have passed before me.  I ask them for help freely.  And then I pay attention to the signs.  Most of the best signs I see in nature with the guidance of the Animal Spirit Guide and a set of cards.  Messages From Your Animal Spirit Guide by Steven Farmer is the deck of cards that I use on a regular basis.  And when I’m going through a change, I will get messages that may say things that include “go for it” to “slow down” or “step back to see the big picture”.

And Sure Enough, I Get Through It

Yes I do, with the help of my guides, I move through change with strength and conviction but also with thoughtful  reflection.  Fear does not define me.  Fear slows me down.  Fear tells me to proceed with caution but I don’t let fear stop me.  It’s when I feel fear that I reach out to God and all the spirits of my loved ones and say “I need help with this one. Please, tell me what to do.”  And then I listen.

Listen

Pay attention.  Messages are all around us.  Today, I needed the message of the Butterfly.  I am headed into another change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Inspiration In A Rock

Working still on trying to find my way. I’m now reading JULIA Cameron’s newer books: It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again and Walking In The World. Both are inspiring me, again, to keep moving. Just keep moving!

Begin Again

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I Am A Rock

For a few years, now, I’ve been on  a journey to “find myself”.  I know, people used to think that’s something for the young and foolish but when I was young, I didn’t have the time to find myself.  Now, I do.

So, currently, I am engrossed in a book entitled “The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity“, by Julia Cameron.  I am actively participating in multiple, suggested exercises, feeding my brain with positive affirmations, unblocking negative thoughts and fears – things that block creativity.

One of many, simple activities was to go on a rock hunt. Search for rocks that stand out  for some reason.  She said that they were, then, to serve as “small constant reminders of creative consciousness”. That’s all… Hmmm. Ok.

So, off I went to find rocks that spoke to me. I walked and walked, looking for the…

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This Is A Story About A Robin…But You Have To Wait For It!

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Personal Photo

No, I’m not going to mention this robin right now.  Wait for it.

First, I need to share this:

Yesterday was one of those days; an incredible day that ended with me feeling as though I had real purpose.

It started simply enough with me taking my brother to a doctor’s appointment.  It wasn’t any simple appointment though.  He was to be scheduled for quadruple bypass surgery.  The doctor’s office is in an area unfamiliar to my brother so I offered to meet him halfway and drive him in.  The first road was blocked with a bridge out.  He instantly panicked but luckily I knew a different route.  He was thankful, at that moment, for me. The appointment had a twist.  We thought we were to schedule surgery, instead he needs to return to meet, first, with another cardiologist.  They have to make his heart strong enough for surgery.  My brother has a bit of a short fuse, so luckily I was there to keep everything calm.  Then, as we tried to set up a schedule for this additional doctor, I felt that the directions had been listed wrong.  I was right!  He needed a “heart failure” cardiologist not just a regular cardiologist.  It was because I had taken notes during our meeting with the surgeon that I was able to catch this and get it checked out and corrected before we made an unnecessary trip in to the wrong doctor.  My brother was safely delivered back to our halfway meeting point and he was calm.  My duty was done and he was very thankful.  I was pleased.

Second Story:

Then, my sister called.  She’s been living through several tough years.  She hates her job, also has heart issues, and just recently went through breast cancer surgery.  Through all of this, she has had a dream of running her own business; a shop of up-cycled treasures.  Last summer, we worked together to try it out by setting up displays at flea markets.  That worked well enough but made her tired and disappointed.  Still, the spring warmth and sunshine has her longing to try again.  With her energy level low, I’d offered to drive to her home every Saturday (75 minutes away) to help get things ready.  Then she hears that someone has a booth at an antique mall and would like to split the cost with her.  I jumped at the chance to encourage this.  “I’ll split the cost with you”, I say. Still it took two weeks before she contacted her friend and followed through with signing a 6 month lease for her half.  I was there again this Saturday to price some items and take them over this last Saturday.  She begins placement of her treasures and I could see that she was in her happy place.  She has an eye for design.  She started immediately rearranging the items already there, placing them in ways that compliment their value and then started placing hers.  In a little over an hour, we were done and she was pleased.  But it was yesterday when she called that there was actual joy in her voice.  She had returned to her booth to place a few more items.   The owner made a special point of telling her how nice the booth looked.  She told her more than once.  My sister mentioned it to me five times during our conversation.  She then shared a story about this job that she hates.  She’s been moved back to the deli area; the area that she had said was way too hard on her.  Today she was super busy. Why?  Because people are glad she’s back!  She was overjoyed!  Her hate for the job replaced with a new sense of value. I ended this conversation feeling as though I maybe had a bit of role in moving her towards her dream.  She was happier than I have heard her in years.  And I smiled.

Third Story And This Is Where The Robin Comes In:

I was sitting down, ready to eat and the phone rings yet again.  I see who’s calling and my instinct was to ignore it and go on  with my dinner.  Instead, I answered.  “Jane, you’re my bird lady.  You have to help me.  There is this robin that has been flying into my window all day long.  What is wrong with this bird?”  I tell her what I know about this kind of bird behavior but truthfully she really just wants to tell me how frustrating it all was and how she’s tried everything to make it just stop.  Then she changes topic a bit and tells me how upset she’s been lately with her life and how she even prayed to God to send someone to help her.  At that point, I said that maybe the robin was trying to get a message to her and while she continued to share her despair, I looked up the spirit message of the robin and then stopped her and said, “This is the message from the robin.”

If Robin has flown into your life;
Robin signifies stimulation of new growth and renewal in many areas of life. He teaches that any changes can be made with joy, laughter and a song in your heart. This bird shows you how to ride the winds of passion within your heart and become independent and self reliant through this change. The energy of this bird will teach you how to move forward with grace, tenacity, perseverance and assertion. Are you letting go of personal dramas? Ones that no longer serve your higher purpose? Are you exercising compassion and patience in mental, spiritual and emotional areas? This creature will teach how to incorporate new beginnings with faith and trust in the process. It is time to believe in yourself and use the inspiration that is given. Listen carefully. It is time sing your own song for a new period in your life.

When I finished, I waited for a response and instead heard silence.  I was worried that I had gone too far.  Perhaps she wasn’t interested in the possibility of animals sending messages to her.  But instead, she said, “You have no idea how amazing it is to hear that right now and let me tell you why.” She went on to share how so many things have been out of order in her life for the past months, how she had just told her husband that she needed to do something to change it, to bring back the joy in her life, to find her way back to taking care of herself, how she needed to back away from trying to be everything to everyone else.  And then she spoke of how much she missed our time together at the gym we had belonged to and I agreed.  We had been healthy and strong and we had both been away from that for too long.  We made a plan to meet tomorrow to get some exercise.  And then she said, “Well, I asked God to send someone to help me and I never thought it would be a bird!” And she laughed.  I smiled and then said, “Maybe God sent me.”

I went to bed last night with a happy heart.

 

Slow Down. Wait For Me!

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Wait for me you guys!

 

Why be in such a hurry?

Let’s enjoy today.

 

 

Remember when days seemed to go so slow?

When waiting for something seemed like an endless chore?  “I can hardly wait until…I turn sixteen so I can drive.. graduate from high school… turn 21 so I can legally drink… graduate from college… get married… have a baby… buy my first house.” And then something happens. All of a sudden, the “I can’t wait until” becomes  “I don’t want to turn 30…40…50…60!  Slow down! Hold on!  Everything is going too fast!”

And then, something inside your head says, “Just breathe.”

You stop for a moment and do just that and it’s like the first time that you actually heard birds singing or saw that tiny flower poking through the ground.  It’s the first time that you stood still and actually felt the warmth of the sun and saw the rays beaming through the branches of a tree. And hearing a baby cry sounds more like a miracle instead of a noise.

Slow down

It’s at this point that you realize that each day is a gift and you have a choice.  You can rush through the day and fall exhausted into bed each night feeling as though you will never ever get everything done and time is passing you by.  Or, you can find it in yourself to slow down and look at everything as a gift.  Today is a gift.  My home, the people who surround me, my health, the food in my cupboards, and that sunshine are all gifts.

Enjoy the moment

Once you allow yourself this moment, you realize that nothing is more important…not yesterday…not tomorrow.  This moment is a gift.  Enjoy it.

 

 

 

Let Your Light Shine

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Everyone has the ability to reflect light. It’s a choice. So I choose the light!

 Surrounding me, forever, have been harbingers of doom and gloom. I admit, there is plenty of bad, in the world, to keep the flow of negativity going but while others share posts intended to incite anger, hatred, and frustration, I choose to give something that might allow a moment of quiet, calm, peace.

I started this blog two years ago and at the time I was living in a small apartment that butted up to a nature preserve.  It was there that I found peace.   I would walk the trails, allowing my eyes to wander from tree to flower and more, simply waiting for something to catch my eye. When it did, I’d stop and linger with the camera snapping frame after frame, zooming in to capture the intricacy of its beauty.

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These were taken in the summer time. There is something about flowers that soothe a restless heart.  I read somewhere that flowers don’t try to compete to be the best flower in the garden. They just bloom!  So, I surround myself with as many flowers as I can and, today, I choose to just bloom!

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You can too.

It’s a choice!

Time To Fall Up!

I wrote this post a year ago.  It still sits on a sidebar on my computer.  For some reason, I opened it today to reread it and I think that this was more than just a coincidence.  Over our lifetime…

Source: Time To Fall Up!

I Am A Little Pencil

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” Mother Teresa

I’ve taken a long extended break from WordPress but have continued to write in my journal – three pages, every day.

After writing, I  feel a need to simply be still, for a while, and have found this to be a good time to read a book called Spiritual Literacy – Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat.  It’s a book that’s been around for awhile; copyright 1996, but I have carried it with me, with good intentions, and now seems to be the right time to savor the words.

So there I was, reading for a bit, after writing in my journal and up crops this quote.  This is one of those quotes that jumped out at me and I knew I would have to write about it further.  One of the reasons that I stopped sharing in this blog was exactly this.  I had come to feel as though God had picked up my pencil.  I was being guided through thoughts and feelings too personal to share. Too many things happening too fast.  I couldn’t process it all.  I was being told that I was stronger than I believed, that I had to let go, lead each day with gratitude, believe in my creativity, intuition, and most importantly, believe in the messages. For some time, my journal entries were assisted with “Spirit Guide” Cards by Steven Farmer, as well.  Every day – shuffle the deck of Spirit Animal cards and pick number 14.  Why 14?  That’s just what I seemed directed to do.  Every day; number 14.   Every day, the message was different but it always seemed to fit me that day.

Today, I felt as though it was time to shuffle the Earth Magic cards instead.  I use this deck of cards only when I feel as though I am going through a transition.  This deck gets shuffled.  I count to number 14 and pull that card.  That will stand for my Past.  I keep counting out another 14.  This one will be my Present.  And finally, another 14 and this will represent my Future. For some reason, today was the day to do this.

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My Past:  Forest (Breathe)

This one caught me by surprise.  It was so perfect.  I have moved away from the home on the edge of a nature preserve.  I would walk these trails every day, sometimes twice.  I felt I had been brought to this very location for a reason.  I needed a place where I could feel safe and I found it under the trees (the Standing Ones).  I found gentleness and courage with the animals: deer, squirrels, chipmunks, turtles, and birds.  And then, I saw the glorious beauty of the butterfly on flowers and I came to understand that this signified a time for a change.  It was time for me to move on.

 

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My Present – Crystals (Focus)

“Where your attention flows, your intention goes.” Since moving away from the woods and going through significant change within my family, I have struggled with the idea of allowing things to just be.  I have needed to come back, again and again, to “Focus”.  Focus on the moment.  Focus on gratitude, Focus on positive energy.  It has been hard, hard work!  That might be why this card presented itself upside down!

 

My Future – Mountain (Strength)

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In the center of this frame is a photo I took from the side of a mountain in Sedona.  At the time, I was sitting there alone and afraid.  Now, I get a Mountain card as my future and it says “It makes no sense to deny the strength you have at the cost of allowing yourself to be reactive and subject to external influences far beyond what is healthy for you.”

It says that the current situation requires vigilance but not to the point of fear or paranoia.  I am to imagine myself as “a mountain of strength, solidly grounded, head touching the sky.”

See, God speaks to me.

“I am a little pencil, in the hand of God who is sending a love letter to the world.”