Category Archives: Uncategorized

Exercise

Exercise is a “bad” word in my book.  I won’t say it’s a “trigger”.  I don’t have a dramatic response to it.  But there is definitely a knee-jerk temper-tantrum, “NO!” that happens deep in my soul.

Sitting on a sailboat isn’t exercise. But it is definitely more physical than sitting in a chair in the living room!

I certainly have the trauma.  Years and years of everything from embarrassment, failure, and humiliation in PE classes take a toll.  I have more PE injuries (some of them quite dramatic) than success stories in my background.

Even trying to keep up physically with my friends has always been a challenge.  There’s the bike trip where the athletes were riding 12 speeds and I had everything I could do to get my 3 speed up the hills.  There were the tree forts I couldn’t play in because I have NEVER been able to climb a rope.  There was the ski trip where I finally told my boyfriend to go ahead I’d be in the hot tub when he got off the slopes.

Then there have been rounds and rounds of physical therapy.  Insurance is happy to pay for 6 visits of PT if you’ve got a joint issue, but they won’t pay for any kind of accountable follow-up program.  I’m good for about 3 months  (including the actual time in PT).  Then I feel better and stop.

The Stone Arch Bridge Band was playing during picnic lunch. Didn’t dance, but I did bounce along to the beat.

Unfortunately I’ve come to recognize that my sedentary habits are not helping me maintain all the gains I made from having the bariatric surgery.  My surgeon and my chiropractor agree.  Just because I would rather sit at home with a good book than do anything that might be slightly physically demanding doesn’t mean I should.  Of course recognizing an issue and actually dealing with it are two entirely different problems!

So this week I’ve parked a little farther out (except when Orion is in the car.)  This week I’ve made myself step out into the neighborhood for a short walk or two.  This weekend I scheduled “out and about” events for myself just to be a little more active.

Went “horseback riding”. This is actually the appropriate fitness level of riding for my back and hips right now.

We’ll see how long I can keep it up.  As long as it’s not “exercise”.

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Snow Day

The ice is making pretty patterns on the driveway. Not sure I’d want to walk on it.

We’re under a winter storm warning today.  The prediction is for rain Sunday night, turning to ice and followed by up to another 6″ of snow in the afternoon.   As I watched the Oscars, the screen was a constantly updating running list of all of the school closings in the state.

It is not that unusual to see the rural area schools being closed when there is a winter storm warning.  Roads in those areas get blocked.  Transportation is unpredictable.  But when the city schools are closing the night before an afternoon snowstorm I have to wonder what’s going on.

Historically the Twin Cities don’t shut down.  The airport stays open until everyone else in the country is closed and there’s nowhere to send our planes (or no new planes coming in).  The plows run, salt is distributed and everyone (certainly by March) is accustomed to winter driving conditions.

But we live in a new era.  City budgets for snow removal and maintenance run low by the end of the season.  Liability is an issue for traffic control issuing tickets for badly parked cars late at night.  Young students of low income families stand at the bus stop under dressed for the weather.  Parents need notice to make plans.

Minnie is watching for the snow. It’s a grey day, but no snow yet.

When I was in school it was assumed there would be a parent (let’s face it, a Mom) waiting at home if schools were released early.  That’s no longer the case, and latchkeying a grade schooler is frowned upon.  Schools can’t be sending children home if there is no one there to let them in.  So an afternoon snowstorm becomes a crap shoot.

Do you hope that the weather holds until everyone is on the buses and on their way, or do you close the schools the night before?   Given the length and severity of the storm prediction I can see why most of the school districts in the state seemed to make the choice they did.

This morning I get up and think, snow day I’m going to have to shovel the driveway.  I wonder if the buses are going to be running for Orion and I’m pretty sure they will be late.  Then I look out.  Nothing is coming down.  There’s a little ice in the drive, but no snow to be seen.  It’s a snow day and so far no snow.

 

 

It’s actually blowing a lot and of course there is ice underneath. The pm commute promises to be treacherous.

Update:  By 4pm it finally started snowing.  If we still get the amounts predicted maybe they should have made the snow day tomorrow.  Stay warm and drive safe.

MLK Day

So on Martin Luther King Day I decided to use my platform to expand another voice.  My friend Crystal Blanton    is a Social Worker, an activist, and a talented writer.   Reprinted with her permission:

Losing the Illusion: The Reality of Racism Today

Losing the Illusion: The Reality of Racism Today

Jun 17, 2017

Many of us are angry right now. I am enraged by one more example, another reminder, that Black lives don’t matter in this country. After hearing the verdict today I am numb. I cannot wrap my mind around a society that clears a cop from all criminal charges after shooting and killing a man, Philandro Castille, in front of a 4 year old child and his girlfriend…. while he still had his seatbelt on.

I have been sitting in my numbness thinking about the trauma of this on that little girl, his girlfriend, his family, his community, the school children he worked with.. And the Black community at large. I have been thinking about the ways that trauma are retriggered and how that applies to racial trauma. I have been thinking about the generations of transgenerational pain in the Black community and how epigenetics pass this down generation after generation in our DNA.

It seems like year after year we have been fighting for the larger society of Americans to listen to our stories of pain, trauma, and fears. We have been working overtime to prove the existence of racism and discrimination that continues to be normal in our experience and a part of the fabric of the very society we share with others. It is interesting in today’s times to see the country continue to be divided by race, and to watch a portion of Americans come to grips with how overt racism has become (again) in the age of Trump. It is interesting to watch people come to grips with the ongoing murder of Black people by the state, and work to cope with the increasing realization that the words of our Black friends and family were truthful and real all along. It is essential for people to understand that racism is alive and well, functioning in all facets of our society and interwoven in the fabric of our history and our present.

Critical Race Theory is very applicable to this and understanding the ways that American society continues to thrive on systems of racism embedded into its very operation. And when we are evaluating the impact of racism, and ways to disrupt that pattern, we have to start looking at racism itself from a very different lens. Racism isn’t just the white hooded figure with an ignorant view on life and an affinity for the word Nigger. Racism is a system, a construct, that permeates every corner of our society and has been used as a tool for targeted success in this nation.

On the UCLA School of Public Affairs site it states that “CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures.” Let’s say it again for the people in the back. “The individual racist need not exist…”

People live in a place of cognitive dissonance by convincing themselves that someone is a good person and “can’t be racist”, or that people of color just want to make everything about race. Arguments even ensure about how a cop, like the one that killed Philandro Castile, “isn’t white and so it couldn’t be racism”. Ignorance about the functionality of racism in power structures and institutions, coupled with cognitive dissonance, is the reason people can believe such things. It is comfortable to think that racism is a person, that it is “bad” people, and that others can be separated from it because they have Black friends.

There are tenants to Critical Race Theory, and while those tenants are often a source of disagreement among different theorists in the field, there are a some that are universally accepted. The widely accepted CRT tenets include the following: Racism is Endemic, Race is a social construct, the power of differential racialization, interest convergence and materialist determinism, advancing the voice of the marginalized and intersectionality of identities.

In Critical Race Theory in Social Work Education: A Framework for Addressing Racial Disparities, the first tenet discusses the very point of how we view the role racism plays in society. It isn’t isolated to an individual person or experience and is not abnormal in our society. It is the normal reality of the power dynamics within the society we have created in America.

“Racism is Endemic. First, CRT asserts that racism is not an abnormal experience, but an everyday occurrence for people of color. It is reproduced in our structures, customs, and experiences. Accordingly, race should be seen as a central rather than a marginal force that defines and explains human experiences (Solórzano & Bernai, 2001). Given this endemic nature, CRT suggests that the functions and effects of racism are often invisible to people with racial privileges.”

The reality of this statement strips away the lies modern society has been able to tell itself about what racism is, how they are exempt and the accountability each person holds in the continuation of this demoralizing and deadly epidemic. What we are seeing now is how this illusion of safety for the average American has been  slipping away with every police murder of an unarmed Black person that is caught on a standard smartphone by a passing citizen.

While white America experiences the slow slipping away of the illusion of righteousness and exempt status, Black people are losing the illusion too.

Once again the Black community is faced with the reality that change isn’t really change, we still aren’t safe, and that we are rapidly slipping back to the 1970’s civil rights era. We are dealing with the harsh reminders that our bootstrap muscles are more defined than most and yet we are still target practice in these streets.

We are again and again faced with the reality that we are not in control of the narrative and our voices are too often left out of the historical accounts of our history. Coming to terms with our lack of social capital, in 2017, and the disenfranchised power-base we are holding onto, it leaves us to really think about what it means to navigate as a Black person in a modern racist society. It is comfortable for us too to believe that “We The People” now includes us…. Until it doesn’t.

Going back to the Critical Race Theory, how important is it for us to redefine our understanding of racism and the impact of the illusions of meritocracy, and good will on our psyche? How does this support or hinder positive change that promotes the survival and the ability to thrive for Black people?

For a moment, let’s dive a little deeper into the tenet about interest convergence and materialist determination.  Too often the survival of our people relies in our ability to appeal to dominant culture. Critical race theory makes space for us to understand that this itself is part of the construct of a racist society and an institutional system of privilege benefiting the majority.

“A fourth tenet of CRT is that of interest convergence and materialist determinism. This suggests that racism confers psychic and material benefits to the majority race. Further, it posits that the interests of the oppressed are addressed only when they converge with the interests of the dominant group (i.e. Whites) (Bell, 1980). According to Stec (2007), “acts that directly help blacks must implicate white interests because white economic (and other) interests and black oppression are inextricably interwoven and depend on each other for their survival” (p. 2). This means that those in the dominant culture who enact social, political, and economic change on behalf of racial minorities would only support changes if their own self-interest is better served.”


This leaves us with a lot to contemplate while we grieve yet another injustice at the hands of the state. How do we navigate a system, without the power of the dominant culture, and isolated from a system of justice that is meant to protect us? How do we heal hundreds of years of transgenerational trauma when we are living the horror that continues to retrigger the very pain of our ancestors? What does it mean to be an ally when the very nature of the system we exist within disproportionately devalues the oppressed and empowers others? When will we begin to look at how transgenerational trauma has impacted white America’s epigenetics around empathy, power, worth in our distorted systems?

I think it is time for us to begin the work of diving deeper into the construction of our societal fabric than we have ever been in order to gain understanding that will prioritize change. How can we shift what we do not understand…..

And in the meantime, I will continue to grieve for my people and the reality we are living in. I will continue to contemplate the meaning of freedom in the middle of the warzone. And I will continue to fight for the survival of myself, my family, my community and a collective consciousness that moves us back into future. In the meantime I will fight for love.

More to come…..

 

https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/counseling-psychology/counseling-theories/critical-race-theory/

http://www1.uwindsor.ca/criticalsocialwork/system/files/Constance-Huggins.pdf

Merry Christmas!

To all of you who celebrate, have a very Merry Christmas!

 

Deck the Halls….

Yule Tree and presents

I seriously debated pulling out all the decorations this year.  It’s not as though I’ll be entertaining.  I’m not even sure I’ll get to baking (although I’m thinking I’d like to try.)  Thing is with so much greed and anger in the world, and the days getting longer and darker, and with unseasonably warm weather and no snow I’m struggling to have any holiday spirit.

Found a spot for the horses and reindeer to gather

Of course that’s all the more reason to dig out the boxes and dig in.  That’s what I’ve been doing in fits and starts all week.  Clearing space felt pretty good.  I’ve needed a new printer for awhile and it’s been sitting in the box since my pre – Thanksgiving shopping.  I pulled the old one out and set up the new one knowing I would put the tree in front of it.

I cleared out shelf space as well.  Since I’ve not had  a kitchen my coffee/tea cups have been sitting on the buffet.  It was definitely time for that runner to be washed.  I did a little dusting (and in a few places some serious dusting).  I also had to make space, in my room full of kitchen boxes, for the ornament boxes to live for the season.

Traded space for my holiday mugs and runner

Orion listens to holiday music all year round.  We have a rule about our shared music spaces (like the car): Holiday music only after Thanksgiving through New Years Day.  So I’ve been playing the holiday music channel during dinner and leaving it on over the weekends.  I have yet to put on my CDs, but I’m getting there.

I’ve spent my evenings watching Hallmark movies with a bowl of popcorn in my lap.  I’ve also had a needle and thread at hand and bit by bit have managed to string a sufficient amount to trim the tree.  I make a point of turning on the lights.  When I’m up early, especially if it’s a grey day, I find myself turning them on in the morning and leaving them to brighten up the house.

The tree again, view from my chair.

Packed up the summer seashells and dug out the bells

I pick up presents when I see them and stash them in my closet.  So I pulled everything down to inventory what I have and what I still need to buy.  Apparently I’ve been busy because I only have a gift card left to purchase.  Santa often makes a last minute online run for movies, but Santa’s budget is bleak.  It’s a relief to know I don’t have a lot of shopping left.  Well, except for the grocery store if I get to that baking…………

Sacrificial King

Crossing the Mississippi at the corner of MN,WI,and IA

In Frazer’s The Golden Bough there is some exploration of the notion of the sacred king.  There are a number of components to this idea.  One is in the Divine right of kings to rule, and subsequently that they are the representatives of the Divine on Earth.  Then there is the belief that the kings are connected to the land.  As the king succeeds the land thrives, as the king fails or falls ill the land is depleted.  In a system that holds these principles to be true, the logical outcome is to demand the sacrifice of the king to relieve a drought or natural disaster.  Frazer took that philosophy and connected it to the agricultural cycle of reaping and sowing – death and rebirth.

Prairie reclamation project at Wyalusing – Wisconsin State Park

I came back from spending a long weekend on the land to see my Facebook full of images of our Secretary of the Interior assessing National Parkland for its value to sell to industry for development.  Moving from visiting a Prairie reclamation project at the height of success to a clearly out of control consume and profit narrative was disheartening to say the least.

On the way home I noticed the corn was starting to come in from the fields.  The corn harvest is the mark for me of the Lammas celebration, John Barley Corn is dead, long live John Barley Corn.  This is the representation in Wicca of the sacred king mythology.  The grain God is sacrificed to feed the people.

Prairie Flowers

It’s been difficult to sort out the sacred from the political.  Police are shooting people, healthcare continues to be threatened in spite of an overwhelming majority who clearly want to have coverage, and our sacred lands are being sold out from under us – again and still.

I see spiritual representatives from around the world being dismissed by Big Oil at Standing Rock.  I see a spiritual leader in my hometown, trying to help a neighbor in distress, being shot by police.  I see places that I’ve stood in awe of nature being looked upon as a feast for mining, logging and manufacturing industries.

Included in the sacrificial king mythology is the Arthurian story of the Fisher King.  This is part of the grail quest.  The sacred chalice, that has magical qualities including the ability to heal, is apparently in the possession of the Fisher King.  The king has a grievous wound and is failing, as is his land.  Somehow he doesn’t have the wisdom, moral integrity, or desire/belief to use the grail.  Percival, who was raised by a single mother in the forest away from the society of men, sees the solution but fails (out of politeness?) to ask the question that will heal everything.

“LIfe will find a way”

We need to ask the questions.  We need to keep asking until we get answers that go beyond pats on the head and being told we can’t possibly understand.  Why can’t we get along?  Why does the notion of “equal rights” always seem to have an “except” clause?  When and how much is enough?  Who has the vision for our future?  Does that vision include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For everyone?

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Happy Lammas!

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Previous blogs about the holiday season:

Lammas

Ducks, Geese, and Corn

Corn Mother

First Fruits

Corn on the Cob

 

Celebrations

Thrilled to be there in support of my sister

Thrilled to be there in support of my sister

This has been a season of celebrations.  Mine kicked off back in October with my sister’s wedding.  I feel like I’ve been running to catch up ever since.

For many people the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving.  What made ours special this year was that my daughter officially took over the cooking.  I haven’t made a Thanksgiving meal at Thanksgiving for years.  I learned back in my 20’s that it didn’t matter what I did, my mother was going to do it too, “just in case I didn’t make enough”  or because she wasn’t sure I would make “hers”.  So over the years I’ve made “harvest meals”, usually in September and October, that look a lot like Thanksgiving.

Karina put her foot down.  If Grandma wasn’t going to cook then Grandma wasn’t allowed to cook.  Now that she’s in her 80’s that was a little easier for my Mom to agree.   Karina also recognized my Mom’s need to make a contribution so she raided Mom’s pantry for ingredients and asked them to bring a couple of loaves of Dad’s bread.  The meal was a hit.  Everyone took home lots of leftovers.  Everyone also agreed that the portions my Mom used were probably triple what the current crowd needs.  Maybe next year we can cut back on how much food.  (To put this into perspective Karina already cut the appetizers and deserts down to about 1/3 of what they used to be.  But then several people brought deserts they’d been gifted so the quantity of sweets available was not actually diminished.)

Karina's bird

Karina’s bird

I’ve started filling my calendar with dates for holiday parties.  I’ve sent Orion off on his Weekend Venture with Reach for Resources.  (He had to come home early and there was a late night in the ER.  He’s fine, but my “weekend off” did not feel like a break.)  There are dinner and lunch dates to catch up with friends.  There’s a lot of hustle bustle that goes with the season.

Even the “Celebration of Life” event that I attended had a holiday atmosphere.   One of my childhood friend’s mother died at 90.  A good, full life and a testament to family ties goes a long way towards making a somber occasion a bit more festive.  As is often the case, weddings and funerals become a setting to “catch up” with people you wouldn’t otherwise see.   There were plenty of stories about “back in the day”.

The best celebration (at least so far) was curling up on my daughter’s couch for the Gilmore Girls marathon.  We couldn’t watch on the day Netflix released the new episodes, so we planned a date.  The series was an important touchstone for us during her teen years.

We managed to stay close even during those difficult years..

We managed to stay close even during those difficult years..

It gave us common ground.   It opened the door for conversations about difficult topics.  There was a lot of “if you ever do that” or “please react like this and not like that”.   Karina made dinner.  We opened a bottle of wine.  There were brownies.  It was a long evening, but very lovely and special.

What kinds of celebrations do you hold dear in this season?

Resolve

The squirrels are building their winter nests

The squirrels are building their winter nests

It’s definitely autumn and this week I’m getting ready for the Women and Spirituality Conference at Mankato State University.   I’ve attended this conference in years past (links to old posts at the bottom) and enjoy it for a number of reasons.   I find it a great networking opportunity.  (too bad I’m so bad at following up on those networking contacts.)  The keynote speakers are often both educational and inspiring.  I have an opportunity to see people I only see at the conference, and catch up.

I also have the opportunity to present.  This year I’m only doing one presentation, and it’s one I’ve done in many different settings.  When I submitted the proposal I had a plan to get my next book written and possibly even printed before the event.  I went so far as to acquire a space in the vendors room to sell books.  That didn’t happen.

This year's program

This year’s program

I still have books to sell, just not a new one.  I will still do a great workshop and practice that whole self-promotion thing, referring folks to my other work.  But I won’t have a book on the topic of my workshop.  Life has just gotten in the way again.

Which leads me to thinking about how badly I need some resolve in my life.  I need to resolve to get back to work on my writing.  I need to resolve to be methodical in my attempts to deal with the house (the kitchen project is back at square one due to the bank and the city being unable to come to terms and my furnace isn’t heating).   I need to find space to work, to socialize, to write, to keep up with the daily grind.  That’s not as easy as it sounds when you don’t have a lot of structure in the schedule.

On the plus side I’m finding that I’m not as interested in the new TV season, even the shows I’ve watched in the past.  Mostly that’s because finding the sites to stream the series I like is more complicated.  (Hulu no longer carries everything)  I’ll take that as a blessing.    I know I spend way too much time on the computer, avoiding the things I get on the computer to do.  (More Facebook than writing, more YouTube than researching, more gaming community than business networking – I have a talent for distraction.)  But that also means that I know where to find the time.

Fall colors are starting to fade, even though not everything has turned.

Fall colors are starting to fade, even though not everything has turned.

A lot of my issue can be solved by a “just do it” attitude.  Hence the need for resolve.  As we approach the Wiccan New Year (Halloween/Samhein) it seems like a good time to get these things in hand.

That’s what the workshop I’m doing at the Women and Spirituality Conference is about.  I’m due for an updated version of walk the talk.   This week is my kickstart.  Resolve

 

 

 

Grandmothers

Crafting

Conference

Pain

Daily Practice

 

4th

PART_1436198519103_20150704_221953Happy 4th of July!PART_1436198532749_20150704_221508

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re off somewhere parading.   Hope you have a lovely day.PART_1436198492714_20150704_222040PART_1436198507951_20150704_222002

Spring Fever

Anticipating the equinox

Anticipating the equinox

I don’t want to sit inside and write.  It’s been unseasonably warm these past few days.  Sunny and up into the 50’s!   That may seem entirely reasonable, but typically we would expect another 3-8″ of snow in March not greening grasses.

Many of my friends are throwing open windows during the day just to air things out.   I’d like to do that as well, but then there’s that little allergy piece.  The warmer weather brings out all the mold.  I’m not miserable yet, but I can feel it in the air (and in my eyes and in my breathing.)

I’ve been out and about quite a bit in the past week, birthday dining.   I went to tea with a good friend.   My kids took me out to dinner.  There were seasonal rituals with much feasting (not really birthday related, but this one happens every year in competition with my birthday weekend so I’ve adopted it.)

Dinner with Karina and her boyfriend and Orion. They put candles on desert.

Dinner with Karina and her boyfriend and Orion. They put candles on desert.

I picked up some tulips at the grocery store to brighten my inside.  Since the kitchen is becoming more and more useless I need the “pick-me-up”.  I’m anxious to spend another day buried in seed catalogs and garden designs.

The spring thaw is an important lesson in balance.  It’s easy to pick up a cold when the allergies are threatening the immune system.  It’s easy to dress too warm, or not warm enough.  It’s easy to put off the things that need to be done and just sit in the sunshine.

A few spring flowers brighten up even the cloudy days

A few spring flowers brighten up even the cloudy days

It’s too early to be out planting the gardens yet.  Patience is part of the lesson here.  It’s probably fleeting.  Chances are very good we still have some freezing days ahead.  Theres an unsettled feeling.  A sense of growth, bursting forth that isn’t quite ready to happen.

The equinox is still a few weeks away, so spring isn’t officially here yet.  Even when it comes, experience tells me that it won’t necessarily feel like it.  Still the sun is shining, the days are longer and it doesn’t hurt to enjoy it while it’s here.

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