Category Archives: Acceptance

Have a Good Day

The end of a good day

I’ve been listening to some of my friends talk about the notion of acknowledging “Today was a good day”.   It’s something that one of them noticed in a series about living in Alaska.  People, who are essentially living on the edge of subsistence, finish up their day with that little affirmation, “Today was a good day.”

We speculated about whether this is an Alaska thing.  I suggested it might just be something that shifts when you’re living on the edge.  I equated it to the Native American “Today is a good day to die.”

My friends are using this affirmation to see if it shifts their world view.  They think it does.  It changes the way they approach their days.  It started me thinking about what makes a day a good day.

A day sailing is a good day

I’ve certainly had days where if I managed to get dressed or showered that was a good day.  I’ve had days where just being alive at the end of the day meant it was a good day.  I’ve had days where I’ve gotten all kinds of things accomplished be a good day.  I’ve had days where I’ve been of service be a good day.

It’s interesting to me that there isn’t any kind of personal standard for a good day.  I like that.  I like that there is room for a good day no matter what kind of shape I might be in.  I like that I can have a good day just taking care of me as well as having a good day helping out someone else.

Captain Beth ( WIMNsail.net ) pulling out of the Marina – sharing in someone else’s passion is always a good day

In thinking about a good day there is something that does stand out for me.  A good day is active rather than passive.  I don’t mean that there needs to be a lot of activity.  I can have a good day curled up reading.  But there is a big difference between choosing to spend the day reading and sitting down for a break and having the day disappear.

There’s something about a good day that requires attention being paid to the day.  A good day demands engagement at some level.  Perhaps that is the change my friends are observing.  By using the affirmation they find themselves paying more attention to their days.  Being more appreciative, living in gratitude for each day, is certainly a positive life change.

Maybe I’ll give this good day thing a try.

On or in the water sounds like a good day to me.

May Day 2017

Yes, that wet stuff falling from the sky is snow on May 1st.

Happy May Day!  We’ve been having snow flurries, which makes it a little difficult to get into the spirit of the season.  I suppose I could go on about the history of labor unions and all the benefits we take for granted because of the work that they did back in 1886 and beyond.  But you all have Wikipedia for that.

In Wicca this is also Beltane and a celebration to bless the animals and the fields with fertility.   Wicca tends to work with a male/female balance honoring the fact that union is how we all came about.  In this day and age that makes much of our ritual look particularly heterosexist and decidedly gender binary.

The thing is that many of the Gods in the Pagan pantheons are rather gender queer.  There is room in Paganism to express and celebrate fertility in many other ways.  But working in a tradition, and a Wiccan tradition in particular means honoring and holding to rites and ritual formats that, when they were written, probably do have an intentional hetero-cis bias.

Like snow on May Day, the reality is often a lot more complicated than the theory.  In Minnesota a May snow, or at least a frost is not at all unusual.  Our “late frost” date is May 15th.   But in Wicca, and through much of Paganism this is a festival about flowers and early fruits.

Food and Flowers. We tend to snack while we make our May wreaths.

Traditionally, this festival is not a calendar based festival, but one that honors the actual season in the area.  It is a time when the fields are ready for planting – not the same date every year at all.  It is marked by the white blossomed trees (usually rowan) coming into bloom (also not a calendar dependent event.)  In Minnesota this year we are having a remarkably early spring.  The ground has been thawed for some time.  In microclimate areas some of the fruit trees have started blooming.  Historically that just doesn’t happen until mid May and even that is early.

So snow is unexpected this year and seems out of place.  Our weather reporters carry on about “below average” temperatures.  Technically that is true, but if you graph 100 years of spring temperatures and do the statistics you get at least a 15 degree standard deviation.  That means that “normal” is plus or minus 15 degrees.  To really be “below average”, remarkably warm or cold, we’d need to be outside of that 30 degree swing and we are not.  At least not today.

Happy May Day!

I have actually put some things into the garden already.   Cold hearty crops like radishes and peas.  I did sprinkle some spinach and lettuce seeds and I’m trying my hand at carrots again.  Tomatoes and basil are still a month out.  The weather is supposed to get warmer from here out so I’m hoping to get back into the dirt later in the week.  That will be a celebration in itself!   In the meantime, I’ll just take things as they come and enjoy the cool while it lasts.

 

 

Previous Posts on May Day or Beltane:

Fertility     Spring     May     Beltaine (even I don’t spell it consistently)

 

Support

This is what “I don’t have any food in the house, I don’t feel like cooking” looked like this weekend. Sometimes support means being kind to yourself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about support.  I’ve looked at some of the ways I give support, the ways I ask (or don’t ask) for support, and about the kind of support I need.   I’d like to think I’m aware of how much support I am given in my daily life.  I am grateful for that support.

I see more and more posting on social media in judgement of support.  Things like, “If you don’t march you can’t say you support the cause.” or “Marching doesn’t do anything, if you really want to support change….”  My feed is full of articles about what it means to be an ally, and what it doesn’t.  I am watching a heated and emotional battle that demands choosing sides.  Once you’ve chosen a side ANY sympathy, compassion, or points given to the other side is a betrayal.  There is no room for exploring nuance in that kind of “debate.”

I have often been offered support that really wasn’t very supportive.  There are a lot of reasons that happens.  Sometimes I’m just not ready to accept support.  Sometimes I’m not willing to be vulnerable enough to need support from that particular person.  Sometimes it’s help for something I’m quite capable of doing myself (as long as I don’t need to do that other thing I really can’t do alone.)   I have been offered support that makes demands of me.  I have been offered support that is well intentioned but not in my best interest.

Orion in his No DAPL hoodie visiting his sister at work. Sometimes support can be fun.

Most of the time I still find a way to be grateful for the intention.  However, I have also been known to explode and shut my “supporters” down.  Over the years I’ve come to recognize that most people offer support based on their experience.  They offer the kind of comfort they would like.  They offer the kind of hands on labor they are comfortable with, or skilled at.  They present things they have been told worked for other people they know in “the same” shape.

Sometimes people offer support to feed their own egos.  Sometimes people are sure they know best, and they won’t listen.  But most people are willing and able to have a conversation about support, and what that might look like in any particular situation.  The problem is, often when support is necessary the conversation itself becomes too much for the person in need to handle.

Sometimes one of the best ways to be supportive is to be willing to intervene and educate the well intentioned but misguided supporters.  I’ve done that.  This week I’ve seen that done for me.  It doesn’t always help, but it is very much appreciated.

Routine

There’s no internet at my parent’s house. But they are still there and I’m grateful for the time we have.

Routines, we all have them.  From the little rituals that get us going in the morning to the major cleaning, exercising, and vacation planning our routines help us get things done.  The problem is that we can be assured that our routines will, at some point, be disrupted.

Disruptions come in many forms.  An illness or injury can throw routines into a jumble.  Taking a trip or having guests will put pressure on our schedules.  Even something as simple as a change in the weather, or season, can throw a routine into chaos.

I feel as though I’ve been living in the land of disrupted routines.  Even when I think I have a handle on it something else seems to rear its ugly head and throw me off my balance.  I’ve been out of town (and not in a restful, renewing or inspiring way).  I’ve been dealing with allergies (spring is early this year).  I’m back into the remodeling project and even just planning has me throwing my hands in the air screaming.

I’m always willing to put off the routine to spend time with old friends.

I’ve missed two weeks of blogging.  The first week I new I was likely to miss.  Out of town and no internet handy it was unlikely I would get to it and didn’t make it a priority.  The second week I was still reeling from the effects of having my routines disrupted, again and again.

I talk about Daily Practice a lot.  Although Daily Practice can be part of the routine, I make a distinction for it.  Daily Practice, for me, is a small action with a big impact.  When I take up a Daily Practice it becomes a top priority, a commitment.  Daily Practice requires an attention, and often an attitude shift.

In the crazy of my world, with my routines all a jumble, I hold on to my Daily Practice like a lifeline.  I may not be as efficient, or effective, but I still do it.  I may not manage to get it done in it’s “normal” timeframe, but I still do it.  I may start with “oh shit, I have to do that.”  but I do it.

Spring coming early isn’t all bad. It does make me smile.

This is one of the many reasons for taking up Daily Practice.  Those small things can keep us going when we are physically, emotionally, and mentally out of sorts.  They become a foundation from which we can build a new routine.  They are a simple constant in an ever changing complex world.

Daylight Savings

Daylight savings time is kicking my ass.   I am not a snooze alarm fan.  However, given the opportunity I will occasionally go back to bed for 10 minutes, or 20, or 40…….    This morning I still want to go back to bed even though I’ve been really up for over an hour.

Daylight savings time is a great example of our country ignoring the facts in favor of a belief.  With daylight savings we don’t even share a common belief!  We just all have our rationalizations.  We have daylight savings because it’s better for the school children to wait for the morning bus in the light.  We have daylight savings because it save energy.  We have daylight savings because it’s better for the farmers.  We have daylight savings so that there is more daylight during our waking hours.  We have daylight savings because it “saves” daylight.

I call bullshit!   Sure it’s better for kids to wait for busses in the light rather than in the darkness.  But weigh that against bus drivers whose internal clocks are all messed up and whose sleep schedule has been disrupted.  Maybe daylight savings saves energy, maybe it doesn’t.  Turning off the lights when we’re not using them probably saves a lot more.  How much energy do we waste making our kids drive over to change the clocks on the electronics for us because we can’t figure out how to do it ourselves?

As for “the farmers” there are centuries of farmers doing what they need to do when they need to do it, regardless of the time of day.  Furthermore I know (and so does anyone whose pets expect to be fed at a certain time of day) that animals are not cool with us arbitrarily changing the schedule.  Frankly, humans are not cool with this arbitrary change of the schedule.  The entire nation has jet lag.  Coffee shops across the country have sales because they know the regular one cup isn’t going to cut it today.

I’d say it’s probably worse because of the weather.  We got a blanket of snow yesterday.  But spring and fall weather is always variable!  The stress of the seasonal changes aren’t enough, so let’s add another random factor into the mix?  Does that sound like a good plan?

But we stick with Daylight savings, because we’ve “always done it that way” (also not true) or because we believe one of those crazy rationalizations.  I’d say “wake up people” except that I can’t wake up.  My sleep schedule’s out of wack and all I want to do is curl up and go back to bed.

My People

My people PRIDE

My people PRIDE

There is a lot of research being done about the “information bubble” or more specifically “filter bubbles”.  The idea is that our view of the world is being filtered so that the only information we receive (from social media) is information that will not challenge our existing world view.   It certainly does happen, and it can be an issue  especially for those people who tend towards highly biased, badly vetted, and heavily self- referential information sources.

Many of us are aware these sources exist.  Many of us are not aware of how many of them we follow.  Because we agree with them they seem reasonable.  There bad sources coming from ALL points of view.  Liberal, conservative, religious, fiscal, civil rights, you name a point of view and there is someone on the internet writing (loudly) with no basis in actual facts.

My people - Orion's Transition graduation

My people – Orion’s Transition graduation

On the other hand there is the world we walk in.  This is the world where we are not umbilically attached to our electronic media.  It is a place where people talk to strangers.  The “real world” is where we have to get along with our co-workers.  We can’t be anonymous in this place when we shut up, stand up and sometimes get blindsided in our interactions with actual human beings.

I talk to strangers.  I chat in line at the grocery store.  I comment on reading material in the waiting room.  I drive for those ap based services and sometimes the passengers are up for conversation.  I also listen to stories from those strangers and from my friends about their experiences.   Sometimes they’re not friendly.

My people - Parliament of World Religions SLC

My people – Parliament of World Religions SLC

So what do we do when we are trapped in a conversation (on an airplane, in a doctors office) and suddenly it takes a turn.  The pleasant person we are talking to starts: quoting “fake news”, promoting a religious viewpoint we can’t support, making racist or sexist assumptions, belittling “my people”?  What do we do when the person who was a work friend is suddenly assuming we agree with them about a political viewpoint we find abhorrent?  What do we do when the customer we are serving starts spouting hate speech?

Those situations shake us up.  They make us question both our positions and our responses.  They can be threatening when they are clearly directed at us.  They can be threatening AND unnerving when we find ourselves “passing” instead of being representative of our group.  These kinds of occurrences seem to be happening more frequently, and more aggressively.  I think part of that is the “filter bubble”.  Strong language against another group can be “acceptable” within the filter, and so it is unquestioned in the world.

My people - who I call family

My people – who I call family

But when that world comes at us with active hatred we need to find some time with “our people”.  We need that sanctuary to regroup and reassure ourselves that we are not alone in the world.   Unfortunately I’m finding even in the most broad thinking sanctuaries there is little or no compassion for differing viewpoints, and so the aggressiveness becomes justified and reinforced.

Yes, bad behavior should be called out.  Yes, we have a right (and often a responsibility) to defend a point of view.  We need to remember that someone questioning a position is not the same as someone invalidating our existence.

Bad behavior does not always imply a bad intention.  Ignorance (even willful ignorance – which is where my tolerance explodes) is not improved by being demeaning.  Someone asking me for my sources is not a  “threat”.  It’s certainly not a threat equivalent to saying “my people” should be:  locked up, thrown out, burned at the stake, not allowed to participate, or somehow “put away”.   Defensiveness is not the same as defending a point.

We have the opportunity to practice these skills with “our people”.  Let’s do that, instead of just closing those doors and creating another version of “us” and “them”.

 

 

Refuge

Driving a loaner up to the North Woods

Driving a loaner up to the North Woods

Been gone for awhile.  I’ve had some car trouble, internet trouble, life trouble.   But I also haven’t been detained in an airport – so perspective.   All of this has had me thinking about refuge.

It’s a simple word, a simple concept.  It’s about being safe and protected.  That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.

Last weekend I went up to my parents and had some car trouble.  Needed to stay an extra day and wait for a part to come in.   I didn’t get the repairs paid for.  I didn’t have internet access.  But I did have refuge.  I had a place to stay, safe, while I waited for my car to be fixed.  I didn’t even have to think about it, it was there for me.

Most of us think of our homes as a refuge.  I’ve had plenty of times in my life when my home was not.    But there is a big difference between being so sick that it’s scary to be left alone to fend for yourself and wondering when the men with the guns will break down the door.   There’s a big difference between walking on eggshells to keep the screaming and yelling from erupting and walking on eggshells to stay out of the emergency room.

Because I can’t convince the bank to finance my kitchen remodel my home has not been a refuge.  I’m not comfortable with boxes piled all over and my kitchen in pieces.  Although the cupboards are empty, they are barely hanging on the wall and still may just decide one day to fall down.  I’m struggling to make a “home”.   I’m struggling to keep things orderly and organized.  I’m struggling to find the space to be creative, to write, to come out of my sense of being overwhelmed.

I'm not the only one who thinks my parents home is a refuge

I’m not the only one who thinks my parents home is a refuge

At the same time, it’s nice to curl up under the covers at night.  I sleep soundly.  I don’t need to keep an ear open for unforeseen threats.  I have heat, running water, and most of the time the internet allows me access to all of you.  There is “escape” in music, and tv, and internet chats and games.  I’m not starving for anything.

When I truly have nothing, when my life is at risk, when I am shaken to my core I find it easy to be grateful for any small refuge.  A kind word, a warm blanket, keeping down a bite of food can all seem like the most amazing grace.   Refuge doesn’t have to solve a problem.  It just allows a little break.  Why is that so hard?

Overwhelmed

photo by Nick Gatel   popupbackpacker.com

photo by Nick Gatel popupbackpacker.com

Yesterday was one of those days when I needed to give myself points just for getting dressed.   I meant to post a blog.  I had started one about a weekend worth of celebrations.    I had started one about the immigration ban.  I had started one about Imbolc and the winter thaw.   I just couldn’t manage to bring any of those topics into a coherent, cohesive whole.

I needed an ostrich day.  A day to curl up and put my head in the sand.  A day to pretend the world didn’t matter.  I didn’t talk to friends.  I didn’t get to my “to do” list.  I stuck my head in a book, turned on Netflix, and played games on the computer.

We all need an occasional day like that.   Right now there are many people who are practicing civil disobedience.  There are many people who are truly threatened by the political climate.  There are many who are suffering cognitive dissonance working to convince themselves that what they see, what they say,  means something else.  My Facebook feed is full of posts saying “maybe I should take a break from Facebook”

Sometimes we need to just take the time and space to actually feel our feelings.  There can be so much going on in our lives that our emotions become a jumble and we don’t know where we stand or what we think.  Allowing ourselves a moment to come back to our own center, without being battered about by our circumstances, can recharge us.   Taking time can allows us to be more effective in the world.

Unfortunately, sometimes those ostrich days make me feel worse rather than better.  It’s too easy to get into the cycle of self blame and guilt.  It’s easy to start thinking of all “better” ways to have used the time.  We live in a culture that has no patience for this kind of “time out”, and we carry that culture with us into our “time out” space.

It’s my Daily Practice that gets me through.   I get dressed.  Then, since I’m dressed I might throw in a load of laundry or run out to the mailbox.   I make my bed.  Then, since I really appreciate having the bed made I might tidy up someplace else in the house.   I do my language lesson.  Then, since I really do want a vacation, I might balance the checkbook or pack a bag or make a fun meal or even just tend to my seasonal spaces.

Doing the small Daily Practices I know I’m not lost in a hole.  I am not entirely overwhelmed.  I’m just taking some time out.  Doing the Daily Practices I have a springboard to reconnect, to move forward.  Doing the Daily Practices I am reminded to have compassion for myself.  I am reminded to appreciate what I do, and accept that I can not accomplish everything.

Daily Practice becomes a kindness to myself.  Doing Daily Practice is a magical act of transformation.  It’s not always apparent that Daily Practice is doing anything.  (That’s one of the reason “Daily Practice Sucks”)  But ultimately we practice so that when we need something to be easy, when we don’t have the time or energy, when we are looking for a lifeline we have the Daily Practice to lean on.

Escape

It’s been a very busy week in the country.   Goodbye to our first black first family.  Hello to a new president followed by the largest protest ever launched in America.   In fact, protesting our new president and his anti-women, anti-civil rights agenda was a world wide event.

At times like these it can seem easier to just put your head in the sand.  To turn off, tune out and escape the madness that surrounds us.  Unfortunately, that kind of escapism historically leads to even worse problems, even more oppression.   There’s a reason the poem is popular:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

Still, even the most dedicated activists need a little break.  So we turn on the TV, we read a book, we go to the movies, or the theater   Time out can be mindless, but it can also be mind expanding.  Star Trek aired the first interracial kiss,  Will and Grace increased awareness and acceptance of the gay community.  Hamilton not only educates us on our history but examplifies colorblind casting and the actual immigrant experience that has made America what it is today.   Many people had never heard of Turing until The Imitation Game.  Even fewer were aware of the women – human computers – who helped put our men in space.       hidden-figures-poster

I got to see Hidden Figures this weekend.  What a remarkable piece of American history – good and bad.  This movie demonstrates some of the underlying complaints I hear about everything that happened this weekend.   This “separate and not anywhere near equal” is the America our president things was great.  This white feminism has no room for black women becomes blatantly apparent in historical context.  That “keep your head down and don’t cause trouble” doesn’t create change that needs to happen is obvious in hindsight.

Uppity women, demanding a place at the table, demanding to be heard plays better with a good screen writer.  But those women are still out there in our workplaces.  Angry black women may not have to find a colored bathroom, but that doesn’t mean they are welcomed when they come in, they’re almost as scary as transgendered women!  The education disparity continues to be enormous, resources available to white children are just “not in the budget” for children of color.  Is it any wonder resourceful kids will do anything to get ahead of the game?

This year I’m seeing a lot of reading challenges.   Lists to encourage people to use their escape time to expand their point of view.  So I’m also taking on a challenge.  I’m back reviewing books on lisaspiralreads. There are already 50 book reviews there, and I’m challenging myself to review another 50 this year.  I’m trying to tag and categorize to fit the reading challenge requirements I’ve been seeing.   Check it out!

Hope you use your escape wisely!

 

Maintenance

At least driving makes me work harder at keeping the inside clean!

At least driving makes me work harder at keeping the inside clean!

My car was due for an oil change.  Overdue technically, but not by much.   I have always been diligent about the oil change maintenance.

Thing is, technology is changed.   When I first bought the car, the first time I took it in for an oil change I was told the rules are different.  With new systems and synthetic oils instead of 3 months/3,000 miles it is annually or 10,000 miles.   I can’t keep track of that!

But now I’m driving for Uber and Lyft and racking up the miles on my car.  It seems like I’m back at about 3 months.  Maybe that’s just my perception.  Maybe I’m reaching for the familiar.  In any case I took the car in for routine maintenance.

Which of course got me thinking about maintenance.  In my home there are places that I’m pretty good about doing routine things:  laundry, dishes, paying the bills.  There are things that are beyond me (My kitchen cupboards are empty, but still almost a year later falling off the walls.  Don’t talk to me about banks!)  There are a lot of things that fall in between (like cleaning the oven and scrubbing the floors).

I thought about the blog I wrote last week, and reconnecting with friends.  Relationships require a certain amount of maintenance as well.  I’m not great about keeping in touch.  I’m less likely to make a call just to say hi.  On the other hand I’m likely to show up in an emergency or send a hand written note in a get well card.  Different skills sets I suppose.

Then I thought about general health maintenance.  The annual physicals got crammed in between Thanksgiving and New Years.  The letters keep coming from the insurance companies about which of my prescriptions they’ve decided not to cover.  I’m still doing allergy shots.  I do have some long term maintenance things here.  Mammograms and colonoscopies are not even annual events any more.  The rules change.

I come back to daily practice.  When I’m doing daily practice maintenance seems to get done, both on the long and short term.  When I let daily practice slide, everything seems to go downhill along with it.  When the rules change sometimes the daily practice needs to change, but that’s different from letting it go altogether.

Life happens.  Entropy happens.  Maintenance is necessary and unavoidable.  So I work on keeping up the calendar and consulting it daily.  I work on tucking in a small home maintenance job daily.  I juggle my appointments and phone calls and try to be available for my friends.

Small jobs, like packing up the holiday decorations.....

Small jobs, like packing up the holiday decorations…..

I also remember that the alternative to maintenance is crisis.  I don’t need that.  Maintaining to avoid it is worth a little gratitude.  Maybe a daily practice worth.

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