Posted in Spring 2016, Uncategorized

Who Is the Real Child?

Childhood

 To grow up, you must first be a child.- me

I understand that this is a place where different cultures have very different ideas. My Kurdish friend has told me that at the age of ten a child is considered an adult. This does help explain how at thirteen he was married to his eleven year-old cousin. I have also heard that in Japan a child is protected by the gods until they are seven. I would like to believe that this deters abuse of the very young. Lastly it is my understanding that those who are Jewish become adults at the age of thirteen. Son’s have a Bar Mitsvah and daughter’s a Bat Mitsvah to celebrate their coming of age. But I can not judge is this good or bad compared with my own culture without running straight into the question, what does it mean to be grown-up?

Again and my ex-husband would make fun of me, asking “Are you the parent or the child?” Each time it highlighted the difference between the two of us, what we considered to be adult behavior. He seemed to think that being an adult meant that you could do whatever you wanted. Go out to bars, race cars, drink, smoke, tell children what to do and punish them however you liked if you felt like it. I saw being an adult as a responsibility. It meant being careful of what you said and did, thinking about others , your family and community first and yourself second. To me, childhood was the time to make mistakes and trust that your family would teach you gently how to fix your mistakes. Being a parent, has always meant first, to love and protect, second to teach and test. This is how I always believed that the good parent taught their child how to be a grown-up. Hitting a child made no sense, all it can teach is to solve problems with violence instead of intelligence.

Just this morning, I was saddened watching a show where a father spoke of how he chose to teach his daughter not to lie by burning her with a hot iron on the foot. She had been only seven and still had the mark as an adult. I have known many six, seven and eight year old who “told tales” as I prefer to put it and in studying psychology it is generally accepted that young children don’t lie on purpose, rather they don’t always know what is real and what isn’t. A week ago on the bus, a little girl accused her mother of hitting her just after the bus made a sharp turn and the girl had fallen into her mother’s arm. Sitting across from them I could easily see how the child had misinterpreted the event. She suddenly found her mother’s arm pressed against her for no reason, that she knew of , (at three, the laws of physics and momentum were beyond her comprehension.) So she assumed the cause to be something she was familiar with, being hit. If only learning the different levels of children’s psychological development was more widely taught, perhaps fewer parents would feel the need to use force to teach their children.

I have never met a child who did not want to learn, only children overwhelmed by having to learn what they were not ready for or bored when they weren’t able to explore the questions that most intrigued them.

“This is how we learn,” is my favorite saying for when things go wrong. To me being a grown-up means accepting problems not as somebody else’s fault but as a challenge. Problem’s are my chance to test myself and see just how grown-up I can be. They are my chance to find solutions and lessons to learn from. When I tell my kids I don’t know something or that I made a mistake, I am teaching them the importance of honesty and integrity. No rod can do that!

I think that is the most important lesson for a child to learn so they will be ready to grow up. They must learn that nobody knows everything and we all make mistakes no matter our age. In my book, those who admit to the truth and try to fix their mistakes will always be the real grown-ups and those who lie and blame others, the real children.

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Posted in Spring 2016, writing

Blue Sky

Sky

The more doors seem to shut against me, the more I appreciate that, writing is my blue sky. This is where I fly.

 

It is easy to feel trapped, when you devote yourself to others. Invisible chains hold you fast to home to care for those in need, but still your spirit cries to find a way you can be freed.

It beckons like the blue sky to take you somewhere else. It calls you to lay down the burdens too heavy on your shoulders.

We all need a piece of sky where our souls are healed. For some it is in music sung through heartfelt tears, others a dance floor where we let go any fears, for me it is in stories, words that let me shed the worries of the last ten years.

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A Summer’s Blue Sky
Posted in Spring 2016, Why?

Why Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Grain

Fact is stranger than fiction because like a grain of sand within an oyster, truth in its simplest form makes us uncomfortable. Like the mollusk we seek to make it soft and shiny, we coat truth within layer after layer of shiny lacquer to make it easier to accept. The naked truth is ugly but the clothed parable is beautiful. Thus was fiction born.

In the book Yoga’s Forgotten Foundations by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami the second yama is truthfulness, but the first yama is non-injury. In other words, the reader is urged to put telling the truth second to not hurting others. When others may be hurt by the truth the reader is urged to avoid telling the truth. Not to lie, but simply to avoid speaking of what is painful to others.

This is a strange concept for me and a challenge. The need to tell the truth has long been a driving motivation for me in my life, but it has also caused much trouble. I know that to learn to tell the truth without hurting those around me is part of why I am here. So far fiction seems the key. Those that are unready to accept the lesson can dismiss fiction as silliness. Those that are ready will feel the truth that is hidden.

Like the grain of sand within the pearl, they know without needing proof what is true.

Posted in Science-Fiction, Spring 2016

Message Sent

Underestimate
The Council underestimated his skills.

Last Dawn (chapter 1, part2)

Thirteen, fourteen, all fifteen, Myric counted to himself. His coded links were still intact and undiscovered. Sighing he sat back and relaxed for the first time since morning, before he’d left for the Council meeting. He wished he had more time to think about what he was going to do. There must be some other way, if only I had time. Myric noticed the shadows lengthening outside his window. Solemnly, he typed in the message, “One time opportunity, come to Loren Home Planet in dusk of coordinates 38º 29N, 22º30E, the abandoned Uni Temple.” His hand trembled as he held it over the send key. Is this how it must be? He asked in silent prayer. Listening for any sound he could take as an answer, Myric heard laughter from another room. An echoing of laughter filled his ears as the memory of his ill-fated speech to the Council threatened to replay itself. Myric pushed the send key and forced the painful recollection from his thoughts by reminding himself of everything he knew that the Council didn’t.

Few of the Councilors would have guessed that a physician who specialized in genetics knew much about computer programing, much less hacking. Myric had learned young that a geneticist without a working computer was as useless as a chef without food. Computers and programmers cost credits and as a fatherless child, he’d had no choice but to find obsolete computers learn to program and upgrade them himself, just to make his way through school. He’d gotten a manual and taught himself. Naturally curious, he’d experimented a lot, too. Spending many long nights alone after his mother’s banishment, he’d inadvertently hacked into the defense information system. Though he never found the answers about his parents he’d been looking for, he did learn that the grid was only set to monitor big ships, tracking large amounts of displaced matter. Small craft weren’t considered a threat. Since there were so many small pods and bubbles used all over the Empire, the Defense Department only watched select high security areas for suspicious matter displacement in small amounts.

That was when he found the uncensored reports of non-Loren Spacecraft visiting the Empire. Despite government claims that all of the sightings could be explained by errant probes, drug-induced hallucinations and overactive imaginations, Myric had found too many correlations in the descriptions of the spacecraft and their movement patterns to believe it was a coincidence.

Then three years ago, investigating the cause of death for the inhabitants of a remote space station, Myric found proof. He discovered DNA that was not Loren, similar to Loren though, so similar that he knew it had to belong to the only real enemy the Loren had, the Kaynins.

Legend held that five thousand years ago the Kaynins had been banished from the Empire. They had been Loren but refused to follow the strict edicts of the Council. In revolt, they had almost split the Empire in two. Exiled from known Loren space, it was easy to forget that the Kaynins had ever existed. They were never spoken of, but Myric remembered his mothers bedtime stories of folk disappearing and running away to join the Kaynins.

Upon his return home from the space station, he set up a system of coded links to signal back to the deserted station.Using it’s receiver he was able to monitor frequencies unused by the Empire. On a low band wavelength he found voices that were not speaking any of the Loren Dialects, but they were originating from areas within the Empire. He had decoded enough to know they were watching Loren activities focusing on the Defense Department and the Council members. Mostly though they only discussed rendezvous coordinates and needed supplies. While there motives were unknown, he felt certain they would have use for a physician skilled in hacking computers.

“Message sent,” the screen blinked. Jumping to the keyboard, Myric entered one more command. He had set up a program to dismantle all of the links, in case he was ever suspected of treason. At a single command all evidence of what he’d done was deleted.

(chapter 1, part 1)

Posted in spirituality, Spring 2016

Haunted

Vision

The vision of a man chasing a woman with a knife and other people watching, popped into my head one fateful night in the autumn of 2000. The man was totally enraged, he meant to kill her. The woman was terrified, she was scared to death. The others looked surprised. I only saw it for a second, but somehow I knew that some sort of violent domestic assault would occur that night between midnight and dawn, on my street. I shook myself, wishing I hadn’t seen it. What can I do? I asked no one. I was alone that weekend. My children were with their father and an ex-boyfriend on mine kept calling, annoying me. He was drunk. It was the full moon and as I locked the front door before going to bed, I had thought to myself, there’s something in the air tonight. I wonder what else will happen?

It was one of those open ended questions, asked in my head without any expectation of having it answered. Every vision I have ever had was preceded by just such a question. Yet never before or since was a vision so clearly defined in my head as to time and place. If ever there was a moment to put my clairvoyance to use this was it.

Sit on the porch and watch. I heard it clearly in my head. How I wish I had done as I was told. Instead, I shook myself again, thought that’s silly what good would it do for me to spend the night sitting up on a cold porch. There were others in the vision, surely one of them would stand a better chance of saving that woman than I would. If it was true, if I wasn’t crazy, listening to voices in my head. That is what people call crazy. I am sick of being called crazy, etc.

Thus I talked myself out of believing the vision and voice. I climbed the stairs and went to bed. About five the next morning I was awoken by a scream such as I had never heard before. I lay there in the darkness, thinking a dog must have been hit by a car. No human throat could have made such an unearthly sound. A few minutes later the walls of my bedroom danced with the red and white lights of many police cars. At last, I put on a robe and went down to the front porch to see. The street was lined with police cars. A few houses down I could see a group of people near some bushes. There seemed to be something laying on the ground just beyond the bushes.

Things happened very quickly that morning, though at the time it seemed so slow, I wondered if the sun would ever rise. A woman was taken from a house on a stretcher, the white sheet that covered her had long red streaks of blood across it. She moved as they took her. I was confused, if she was alive, who was laying in the front yard?

A young man arrived at the scene on a bike and screamed as he dove at the figure on the ground. That was when a song started playing loudly in my head, over and over, “No one is alone.” (It wasn’t until some days later I realized it was a song from one of my favorite musicals, “Into the Woods.”)

Sometimes people leave you.

Halfway through the wood.

Others may deceive you.

You decide whats good.

You decide alone.

Several police officers held him back and tried to calm him down. After a while he quieted but didn’t leave, he paced back and forth. When he saw me standing on my porch, he asked to use my phone. I led him to it. After calling his family, he told me, “My brother is dead.”

But no one is alone.

Believe me,

No one is alone

Clumsily, I tried to console him, I told him I could hear a voice saying he was not alone. He gave me a funny look and left. Soon a car arrived with what looked to be more of his family, yelling and screaming in anguish. After the still figure, that lay beyond the bushes was taken away, they too left.

You move just a finger,

Say the slightest word,

Somethings bound to linger

Be heard

The police cars departed and the sun rose, but for at least a full day, I could not get the song to stop playing loudly in my head.

People make mistakes,

Holding to their own,

Thinking they’re alone.

The next day I bought a newspaper and read about the stabbing. The woman’s ex-husband had just gotten out of jail. He had lost his custody rights to their children, ( the little girls that just a few days before had played with kittens on my porch and invited my daughter to jump on their trampoline.) The ex-husband had waited in the darkness at her house until she had come home with her young boyfriend. He had tried to kill her but her boyfriend got in the way. Her boyfriend protected her and it cost him his life. She did get stabbed in the neck but her boyfriend had bought enough time for her to get to a neighbors, they called the police and the ex-husband ran off.

One another’s terrible mistakes.

Witches can be right, Giants can be good.

You decide what’s right you decide what’s good

Nobody can ever tell me if it would or wouldn’t have made a difference if I had listened to the voice and spent the night on my front porch. Our street is a dead end, so chances are all three people involved would have passed by my house. Would seeing me sitting there watching, with my big black dog, have made a difference? Would I have suddenly known what to do? I will never know. But those screams will always haunt me, a young mans life cut too short, because I didn’t have the faith to listen.

Things will come out right now.

We can make it so.

Someone is on your side

No one is alone.

(bits of  the lyrics from No One is Alone that still haunt me)

Posted in Spring 2016

Yesterday at the Beach

Beach

Yesterday the sunshine made it warm enough to take my mother to the beach, but the lake shore breezes made it too chilly to stay.

Digital Camera
I told her the daily prompt was “Beach.”  She was glad  to pose for my blog.

My Kurdish friend gave me a ride there and was very happy to see she lived so close to the lake. “We must have a picnic, when the weather is warmer.” He told me.

Still he reminded me as he always does, that he doesn’t understand why my mother can’t come home for me to take care of every day. Why doesn’t  my family work together to help me with her? As always, I remind him that my family can’t work together like that.

I didn’t know it when my sons were little and I asked my family to help in doing therapy with my boys. For years I wondered why I got so little response, especially with so many teenage nephews and nieces.  But suddenly when I put out the call for assistance with Mom, unexpected problems popped up. Misunderstandings thirty years old explained the silence, some of the protective services calls and made it necessary to for her to leave her home.

Fortunately, my sisters and I were able to work together to find her a good place away from me and my children. She is content in her home near the lake, so long as I visit every week.

Posted in Spring 2016

Hope is My Key

Hope

I admit to being moody, swinging from silly and cheerful to sullen and brooding. Over the years I’ve searched for the key, how to be who I want to be. I want to be kind, cheerful and hard-working. Yet too many days, I wake up and don’t want to get out of bed. I’ve analyzed these times from every angle. Three truths I have found out about me.

First is that these times are always preceded by an unexpected roadblock. Either some problem I’m not sure how to deal with physically, like our furnace not working, or that tree I don’t know what to do with or an unexpected guest who needs a place to stay, or it is an emotional bump that interferes with my internal sense of well being, like being reminded of family scars that never healed or dreaming about trying to save dying babies. (There was one just last night, it held my fingers so tight, but its little lungs could not breath right.)

The second thing, I have found is that avoiding the issue just makes my period of moodiness take longer to get through. The quicker I can form a plan to deal with physical problems the sooner I can get back to being who I want to be. Even if it’s only “I can’t deal with this now, I will deal with this next week or next month,” it is amazing how helpful it is just to designate a particular time to deal with the unexpected. Of course it only works because I know I will face the problem at the time I appoint for myself. Surprisingly, I often find an answer often pops up before the deadline. For emotional upsets though, planning doesn’t help. Instead, crying and writing or drawing are necessary. I am very lucky in that, once I share a feeling, just believing I am being heard, it is enough to lighten my heart and return me to the state where, with a little patience, the third truth can pull me out of my gloom.

Hope is my key to healing and to being who I want to be. Believing that life is full of the most amazing array of miracles, knowing that I need only be responsible for my own happiness and no one else’s and best of all, forgiving myself for being a human who falls down a lot, these are my internal medicines that keep the seeds of hope and love blooming ever stronger. (Some time spent away from people, in the garden is extremely helpful too.)

Digital Camera
I made friends with this fellow yesterday, he feasted on the worms my digging unearthed.

 

Posted in Spring 2016

This Girl Could Be on Fire if She Would Feel the Bern

Abandoned

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. “

These were the words that inspired a revolution and for some reason I keep hearing them echo in my thoughts. I notice them most as I contemplate news reporters talking about how abandoned the supporters of Bernie Sanders will feel if Hillary Clinton does not find a way to show him and his supporters more respect. It saddened me greatly to learn that a lot of voters could not vote in the recent primary in New York and other states because in those states only registered Democrats or Republicans could vote in their primary. Had that been the case I would not have been able to vote in the primary myself because even though I vote Democrat most of the time, I like to keep open the option of voting for whomever I think will do the best job. It hurts me personally to think of independents being denied the chance to be heard.

That is when the preamble to the Declaration of Independence starts to echo in my thoughts. The things that Bernie Sanders is fighting for are not trivialities. Raising minimum wage so that people can afford to support themselves and their children, and not forcing young people to start life in overwhelming debt just to get the education they need to be competent for the better than minimum wage jobs available. As well as being able to believe that our politicians are not all owned by big money. Those are the things we really do need for “the people” of this country to have a proper chance at “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It is not by accident that I reference “The Hunger Games” in my title. The themes in the book series are of huge disparities between rich and poor, corruption, media used to distract people from the true enemy, a discontented populace waiting for a leader to ignite a revolution and a game in which violence and popularity decide a winner rather than truth and virtue. Look around and you can’t help noticing all these themes playing out for us today.

Ironically, in the book the “girl on fire,” Katniss is not all that likeable, but she is a fighter experienced at survival against the odds. The real hero in the story is Peeta, who says:

“I wish I could show them that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me.”

This inspires Katniss to be the leader that starts an uprising. He inspired her to not just settle for winning the “game,” but to turn the tables on the game maker, so that there are two united winners in a game that is supposed to have only one lone survivor. It is the partnership of the two of them that gives people hope.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same?

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I can’t afford a car, so I put my bumper stickers on my house.

 

 

But wait, we can. Politics doesn’t have to be some sadistic game of kill or be killed in a fictional post-apocalyptic future. Nobody has to eat poison berries to make a point. Still there are a lot of little people who do need to be heard and helped and I fear what will happen if their needs are not met far more than I fear any foreign enemy.

Posted in Spring 2016

The Music Never Ended

Music

Turn off the clock radio and hear the dawn chorus. This is the music of Spring. Birds call to the sun before it rises.

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The cardinal in my back yard won’t let me get close.

I dig in the ground and forget the world of mankind. Worms unearthed remind me of how miraculous is life, that to the lowliest we owe our lives.

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This is where I was all last week, my garden.

 

Little green sprouts seem so fragile, yet reach so valiantly to the sun.

 

At last Spring has reached my home and I am swept back to the eternal rhythms.

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The second week of April, my Lilies in the snow wonder “Where’s Spring?”

With warmth and water, birds and bugs awake and sing for life renewed.

This is the music never ended, only muted in winter’s sleep.

Posted in Regina Crow, Spring 2016

Preschool Cutter

Scars

The scars on her legs are barely visible now. She noticed them when she was six. Her older sister liked to have her wear dresses, the skirts were short as that was the style then. Looking down, Regina couldn’t help noticing the purple discolored line of the worst one on her knee.

She asked her mother what it was, but her mother didn’t know. Staring at the random pattern of them running down her leg, a memory would tug at her thoughts. Regina remembered a day years earlier when she felt desperate for attention. She felt like one more minute of loneliness would choke the breath out of her.

First she tried summersaults, a new trick she had just learned. No matter how she begged, her father did not look up from his reading. Again and again she tumbled until she was dizzy, hoping he would glance her way. What ever he was reading it had his full attention.

Regina sat for a while, watching him, trying to catch her breath. She couldn’t though, she could barely breath for the need to be seen. Next to her, leaning against the wall was her fathers bow saw. He had warned her that it was dangerous and not to play with it. But at that moment she didn’t care. She had to be noticed. She started playing on it, again begging him to look at the her new trick. Her eyes were glued to father, desperate for him to look up, not caring if he yelled or hit her. When at last the pain caught her attention, Regina was surprised to see the bloody cuts on her legs. She hadn’t noticed she was hurting herself.

“I’m bleeding,” she told him quietly.

At last father spoke, “Go to your mother. “ Still he didn’t look. Still he read.

Slowly, heartbroken, she plodded to the kitchen. “I’m bleeding,” Regina repeated, quietly.

“Put a band-aid on it,” her mother didn’t look either.

Confused, she found the band-aids, and tried to find some big enough to cover the long red lines all across her legs. Eventually Regina gave up on covering them all, there were too many. She would have to put band-aids on top of band-aids to cover them all. She went back to the kitchen.

“There are too many cuts,” she told her mother.

At last her mother looked, not at her face, but at her legs. “What a lot of band-aids!” mother exclaimed in that tone that told Regina she had done something foolish and childish and wasteful.

If that was where the purple wormlike scar across her knee had come from and all the other white lines, no wonder her mother didn’t know. Mother had only seen a waste of band-aids that day.

Posted in Spring 2016

Crossroads

Crossroads

To believe or not to believe, every person must ask this question sometime. I chose to believe early on but it was a decision that stayed with me even during the darkest times. I have been furious with God, (I tell him that he puts way too much faith in me.) But I never could not believe. That was my first crossroads, I made my covenant and I’ve never gone back.

 

Posted in Gratitude, Spring 2016

One Noble Thing

Disappointment

Ironically, long before I made the Facebook post that caused my little disaster last week, I had started rereading “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” If you are looking for a series of happy children’s books with delightful stories about how a trio of children have one after another interesting and uplifting adventure do not read these books. It will be a disappointment. I remember well the first time I read all thirteen books from  “The Bad Beginning” to “The End.” I expected the end to be an end but it wasn’t. I was disappointed.

But if you are looking for a series of books to read that increases your vocabulary and understanding of many of the strange sayings used by english speakers, books that are both comical and all too painfully realistic at the same time, books that both explain and demonstrate the sticky tightrope between good and evil that each and every one of us must navigate daily, and if you are ready to accept that every end to a story is really just another beginning, that every beginning was someone else’s ending, and that there are some mysteries we can never solve, then I recommend this series as special gift. To me it is a coming of age series. It is about seeing things as they are instead of as we want them to be.

My daughter and I both read it when our family broke apart many years ago. Though we were separated physically we passed the books to each other and shared in the pain and frustrations of all the mysteries. It was a comforting way that in our darkest times we could both empathize with the Baudelaires struggles and learn from them. My children and I are together again and I only started rereading the books to pass the time, when I broke my shoulder last November. Yet as I finish “The End” today, it is again a touching reminder to me not only of how far we’ve come but of the delicacy required to try to understand all sides of any incident.

Like this series of books, life is often a disappointment if we insist on having to fix every single thing, but we can make a difference and find some peace if we are content with doing just one noble thing.

Thank you, Lemony Snicket.