46. Rain

December 2, 2019

It’s chilly this morning. A soft rain is falling, almost a mist, barely disturbing the surface of the puddles. The blessing of it is that there will be no new raging wildfires today like the ones that have ravaged California all year.

There’s a close and comforting quality about rainy days, as if winter has finally turned the calendar page and now we warm-blooded creatures have taken our refuge indoors, those of us who are blessed to have a refuge in the warm dry lovely safety of indoors.

I try to let go of my sadness, for a little while, for the others who don’t have this, the homeless who are camped not far away on the other side of the park. The little village there has grown to about 40 tents and makeshift shanties now, right next to the sidewalk on Broadway, across the street from the massive multi-million-dollar Kaiser Hospital’s newest and biggest complex. I think the money they spend on toilet paper every month would probably feed these people for year. But that’s not the way corporations work, and Kaiser is still calling itself “not-for-profit” and so paying no taxes on its millions.

But the homeless somehow bravely soldier-on, camped right in the faces of the millionaires and other strangers passing by in their cars, hurrying to their business and their lives. Right there on this arterial street, right next to the sidewalk, where the world cannot help but see them and be forced to think about how wrong this is.

45. The 4th Spiritual Law: Let It Be

July 7, 2019

At this point, I’ve begun a serious, dedicated spiritual practice of Deepak Chopra’s 4th Spiritual Law: Acceptance/Nonresistance, and I am committed to the practice of letting things be as they are, because my thoughts about Trump were giving me headaches, bellyaches, and sleepless nights. This is no easy task, but I have chosen to trust the honest and decent people whom he hates and reviles daily in his rabid insane tweets, and accuses them all of the crimes that are actually his, not theirs. I trust them to fulfill their calling as journalists, investigators, and Representatives, to bring him to justice.

Above all, I trust the law of Karma. Deepak says, “Karma is both the action and the consequence, it is the cause and ultimate effect, because every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind.” Jesus said it too, as “whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.” And in more contemporary terms, “What goes around, comes around.”

Even as Trump’s horrible acts continue damaging and destroying the lives of tens of thousands of innocent people, I find myself realizing that this mortal world is one of polarities, that I can’t personally change it by raging against it, feeling victimized and helpless. All I can do to change the world is by what I am myself, and how I carry myself thru life.

I’ve never been in any danger of being like him, but as the (real) news repeatedly tells of his senseless cruelty, greed, and arrogance, I have let his way creep into my brain and put me into a rage, over and over, and THAT is precisely his power. He has an uncanny ability to cause and create hatred, conflict, and violence. That is his only skill, and he takes enormous, sick, pleasure in doing this.

Forcibly taking terrified children from their distraught parents and locking them in cages, can arouse angry thoughts even in the gentlest, kindest hearts. The world has had many monsters, but none so sick as Trump. Hitler, actually, was a nicer guy in a way, at least not as wild-crazy vicious a personally as Trump. He did hideous things too, but at least didn’t brag about them all day long in the cheapest, lowest possible media, Twitter.

And so, for my own sake, and the sake of those around me, I have stopped talking about him so much. I turn off the TV if his face appears there, I know whatever he says will gouge me in the gut with anger. I refuse to give him my attention or my thoughts. Only once in a while, when he gets so totally off his cracker. Not every time.

History will show that Donald Trump’s one success in life, his greatest dream come true of being a legendary historical figure, has been accomplished – He will be remembered as the absolutely unquestionably worst, most utterly incompetent president of any country in the world that history has ever seen, and hopefully ever will. He believes he can get away with absolutely anything, forever, and he seems to be doing so. His infantile ego is reveling in pure, sick, ecstasy of brutal power, which fuels ever-more insane behaviors, because he has got what he needs so desperately: Everybody in the world noticing him.

Think about it. And then decide to spend your thoughts on something better. When you do, as a practice, it will surprise you with an unexpected peace of mind and softening of those tense nerves and muscles of the body.

There is one thing I know with certainty: Nobody escapes their own karma. Every one of us gets as we have given, and Karma is a meticulous bookkeeper. This man, and each of us, sooner or later will get exactly what we deserve.

44. The Real News, July 2019

July 7, 2019

Real News, July 5, 2019: “God rains on Trump’s parade, as California earthquakes steal his headlines.”

Why do so many people object to Trump’s self-glorifying military parade? Because politicizing the military is dictatorship 101. That’s why past presidents have respectfully declined taking a central public role in July 4th celebrations. Trump claiming ownership and associating himself with the power of the military is what Mussolini did, Hitler did, Stalin did. What Kim, Xi, and Putin do.

Just like Trump, Hitler took extreme advantage of a brand-new media, and flooded it with emotional propaganda messages. The miracle-new media was radio, and the public was as immersed in it as we are in social media now. He denied any truth, like Trump does, “Fake News!” he said, and eventually took over control of all public media, and there was no longer any independent news, just his.

Flash-forward to 2019. By now he whole world has noticed, and mentions in their news, that the only people Trump shows any respect for are the world’s most murderous dictators. He wants desperately to be like them, and be in the Big Boys Club.

In the rise of Adolf Hitler. You will see, step-by-step, Trump following Hitler’s playbook, including openly violating laws, suppressing the legitimate press,  mounting an extreme battle against the truth, calling it “fake” over and over, drilling it into the subconscious, burning books and Bibles and other views that opposed his. Trump precisely mirrors Hitler’s promising greatness for the pure race, and quick solutions. “The border problems are all the Democrats fault, he shouts tothe camers, I clould clear it all op ib a week… (if only everybody everywhere did what HE wants.) In America, that’s not the way we do it. 

A documentary on KQED said “Hitler promised the people everything they needed, and they were mesmerized by his violent loud rhetoric, endlessly repeated simple lies, pounding them into the people’s minds.” (Sound familiar?)

”Simple answers for complicated problems, Hitler promised he could end all problems” and decent but desperate people believed him, and stepped into his trap without realizing it until it was too late to disagree, and they and their family would be killed if they spoke against Him. Just like Trump keeps firing people or forcing them to resign when they reach the point where they can’t or won’t  lie as much as he commands. Trump has destroyed (what is it, 45 so far?) political careers. He has wrongly, illegally imprisoned tens of thousands of innocent people seeking refuge to escape the brutal dictators who have taken over their home countries. So far, Trump’s commands have only a killed a few, mostly children.

Trump promised midwest family farmers he would help them, and then he caused thousands of them lose everything they had worked for all their lives, with his China revenge-tariffs, that cut off the soybean farmer’s normal international market so that their crops had to rot in the fields. Then Trump shut down to Federal government for 35 days, so that they could not even get loans to try to save their farms that had been in the same family for many generations.

“At first, on the surface at least, it did seem to look like he was getting things done.” Again, just like Trump. “The “economy was thriving” which meant the same thing as it does today– the rich are getting richer. The rest of us are not. I am retired, and my income is tiny. Yet with Trump’s claimed “tax break for everybody,” for the first time in my life, I have had to pay MORE when I filed my 1040. Everyone I know, at every middle and lower income lever has had to pay more.

Just like Trump, Hitler promised to make Germany “the greatest country in the world.” He did, in a way. He gave Germany a permanent place in history as the country of the greatest evil ever perpetrated upon humanity.

Trump’s version of HIS “Great” America does not match mine, and does not match the morals and principles of most Americans or any decent people worldwide. But he is making his dictatorship a reality, in spite of everything and everyone. He has committed outrageous crimes and violated or circumvented any and all laws by simply “doing it anyway” and if opposed by the Supreme  Court, he continues doing it, and issues an “Executive Order.” He insists that he has the right to do anything he wants, and ignore all law, especially the Constitution that every American President is sworn to uphold and protect.

So Trump, in Hitler-like fashion, this week placed himself at the center of an expensive and inappropriate celebration of military war-power, instead of respect and appreciation for those who have served our country, many with the cost of their lives. He carelessly spent our tax money (he won’t reveal how much) plus 2.5 million that he simply took from the National Parks’ budget.

He gave a lifeless, bored and boring speech of simplistic slogans, in which he appeared to be depressed and heavily medicated. He referred shamelessly to the military heroes of history as “we” (even though he never served in any way, and had in fact been a five-time draft-dodger, and with his father’s money and power, managed to avoid any military service of ANY kind.

if you still don’t see it,  look again at the history of the rise of Hitler and Mussolini and the Nazi takeover. We can be pretty sure that Trump got an F in history, since he said in his parade speech that “We” (the American Revolutionary fighters, which did not include him) “beat the British by taking over their airports. We took their  ramparts.” (?) “We did what we had to do. We took their airports.” 

What kind of a mind is this, that does not realize that there were no airports in 1776? No cars, no telephone, and no twitter? Yet he said it not once, but twice. What kind of a mind is this? Is this man even remotely fit to lead anything? Let alone a formerly Democratic country? I want my country back.

So after God rained on his parade, and the major news organizations opted not to  send any reporters to cover it, then 3 major earthquakes (in California, the state he hates the most, gobbled up the headlines on all national and international news media. TV too, said virtually nothing, except that he had a parade and the turnout was “disappointing.” And it rained. They ran about 2 seconds of some person’s cellphone video. The crowd was thick at the very front, the VIP section, but of “real people. only a sparse few in a grassy field watching the monster Jumbo-Trons. You could just barely see Mr. Trump through the slime and rain-smears on his specially-made massive wall of bulletproof glass.

43. Mothers

February 23, 2019

You could say I’ve had two mothers in my life, but it wouldn’t quite be true. A psychologist might have a name for this, but I don’t need to know, because honestly, I believe life is too complicated to pin down so neatly.

Of the two, the first one, my biological mother whom I have finally grown strong enough to call any m-name out loud, I now refer to respectfully as my birthmother. When she was my familial mother, she was called Mama. She was not able to love me the way I needed and probably deserved to be loved, and she loved my brother more than was healthy for him or for herself. I never really knew her, and that was my wound, I knew that she never really wanted to know me.

My true Mother did, and I love her so much that I get sweet grateful tears every time I think of her, and I can feel her spirit beside me now, here in the room.

People would probably say I had a terrible mother until I was thirteen. That was not true. “Unfit,” they said.  That was true I guess, but it wasn’t all her fault.

After the divorce, my birthmother’s alcoholism kept getting worse, and she sank deeper and faster. I think the divorce had shattered her, but I was a kid, I didn’t understand. Looking back now, I think she turned to alcohol the way most people do, to escape her pain. She was alone and broke with two kids to feed.  When she fell down drunk and broke her arm, she lost her waitress job. We moved three times in two years to smaller and worse apartments, and finally to a cold abandoned boarded-up house. It was October and the only heat was one small open-flame gas heater, the kind that even then, the 1950s, were illegal and unsafe. Most of the plywood-boarded windows were broken out. The wind howled through the boards, and the cold seeped and flowed over the casements and under the door jamb like invisible slow icy blood.

It was November, about a year and a half after the divorce, and I was just starting junior high school. One morning I walked out the sheet-ice sidewalk to go to school, and I saw Daddy’s car parked on the street. He and Helen were in it. They called to me. They asked if they could come into the house. No one was there, so I took them in. When they saw the way I lived, the dusty barren silent house, and the empty refrigerator, Helen was visibly shaken. She and Daddy stood together talking very quietly. She had tears in the corners of her blue eyes.

They packed up my clothes and belongings in a paper grocery bag and “kidnapped” me, technically. Yes, that was illegal. In total surprise and bafflement, I did not resist. In an hour, I got transferred to a new school and I had an unimaginable new life and a new mother.

She wanted me. And she wanted to know me. She loved to do things for me, teach me things, like how to make baking powder biscuits from scratch that were like big delicious clouds of wonderfulness. How to sew, how to look nice and to walk proudly. She showed me how to have a modest dignity and  a genuine personal style. I don’t know exactly when I began to call her Mother, but it came soon, and laster forever.

She had rescued me from a lonely and desolate life in that condemned house, yet she never would have even met me, except that by some inexplicable link in the cogs and wheels of the universe, she met my dad and they fell in love, a love so deep and cherished and beautiful that it lasted all the rest of their lives, and beyond

Daddy had taken me to see her on weekends, to play with her two daughters. The first time we met, she liked me and I liked her. I was very shy but she respected that, and she was gentle and patient. She let me help her prepare the marvelous hot meals she made for all of us to have together when Daddy came, after work. Then he would bring me back to where I lived, to an empty house or apartment, where there were no hot meals, no meals at all except school lunch. During the week I stole Twinkies and meat from the big Safeway store, and fruit and vegetables from the baskets of wilted or spotted produce they set out back for the garbage truck.

It was the heart of my true mother that rescued me from a desolate marginal life with no future. Suddenly I had the most beautiful, generous,kind, smart, loving, mother on earth, and she wanted me. She loved me from then on, to the very last moment of her life.

She and Daddy got married and filed for custody of my brother and me. Helen encouraged us to keep in touch with our birthmother and arranged visits with her for us. The first visit was painfully awkward for my brother and me, and for our birthmother most of all. She was ashamed I think, and must have felt defeated and lost and sad. My brother never went back. I did a few times, and then I went off to college.

The next time I saw her was my wedding day. So much was happening that I did not actually speak to her, or she to me, but she was clean and sober and she looked healthy and prettier than I had ever seen her. I was glad for that.

The last time I saw her was after my own divorce. She got on a plane for the first time in her life and flew to Minneapolis to see me. She was seeking some sort of reunion, and that must have taken enormous courage, but it failed miserably. We were both strangers, and the encounter ripped open old wounds I had hidden from myself all those years. She left, but after that, we wrote letters, and for the next ten years we shared a fraction of ourselves as adult friends. Most of what I know about my birthmother, I learned from those letters.

She died at age 76, in Dallas where she and my brother both still lived, though he had refused to ever speak to her again for 50 years. He buried her immediately, I don’t know where, before I could get there from California.

The path to divorce between my parents was unknown to me as a child, but now that I’m grown, I can guess. Life is complicated, not easily analyzed, and often wrongly judged. She was a good and decent woman who had wounds of her own from childhood, and she taught them to me unknowingly. She never knew that she deserved better, and her life taught me that I didn’t either. It wasn’t rue, about either of us.

She never meant to hurt me, or anyone, and I never meant to hurt her. But her inability to love me had cut deep permanent wounds into my sense of self, and this must have been her experience as a child too.

Even though my true Mother’s total and unequivocal love healed the wounds, it could not take away the scars, which still are too easily torn open again. I am no longer ashamed of them, but some days are harder than others.

The truth is, everyone has hidden wounds. My catharsis- and I recommend it- was to write a book about my own rocky path of healing from the inside out.

I wish the healing for you too, and for all of us in the family of humanity. Not one of us is without wounds and scars and flaws. Please accept, respect, and love this in yourself, as I do in myself and in you.

42. How You See It

December 7, 2018

When you try to do something and you fail, that seems to suggest that you can’t do it. Suggest, but not prove. This is where you have to decide, and choose between letting it go, or trying harder. If you try again and fail again, the suggestion gets stronger, so the determination must get stronger too, or else, there is the option to let go of that endeavor, and move on. Does that make you a quitter? Or a failure? This is your choice too. Giving up too soon or too often is not a strength, though it’s not a disgrace either. But the price you pay is, you never give yourself a fighting chance.

Everything that happens in life is open to interpretation, and ultimately the only interpretation/ opinion/ belief that matters is yours, because that is the only one that actually has any actual true power or influence on your life.

The children’s rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is not quite true. Words can hurt, a lot, but can not conquer you, unless you choose to let them. You always have a choice. Are you going to let somebody else “out there” set your course in life? Will you choose to let their opinion change your inner knowing that you are more than they can see? Are you doing that now? Why?

Once in a conversation, a firefighter friend told me “You can do it if you set your mind to it.” I wanted to be a firefighter but as a woman, at five-foot- six and 112 pounds, the odds against it were enormous. Three years of hard work pumping iron, running bleachers with a backpack full of sand, 40-mile bike rides, and several failed firefighter-physical-agility tests later, one day I didn’t fail. I passed that one, and then I passed some more, and eventually  did I became firefighte then an officer. Though I started out late, I served eight years of active duty first-response Fire and EMS, with a remarkable performance record. It turned out my friend was right. Since then, whenever I’ve had to set a difficult goal for myself, my mantra has been: “I can, and I will.”

Here’s a truth: It’s possible to learn more from failing than succeeding. If you start out not strong enough, you have to learn how to get strong, and then that learning and confidence will be there for you in everything else you do. The experience of failure is painful and humbling, but it is the ultimate challenge to inner strength. It can develop character and courage, depending on how you see it. Failure is one experience that can come between you and success, one rock in the road.  Everything depends on how you choose to see it. Life is open to an unlimited number of interpretations. The only one that matters, is yours.

Ravi Shankar said this: Life is like a river. The river does not stop because there is  stone”