Goodness Happens Still

Watching preliminary events, running up to tomorrow’s inauguration, I feel…

I feel strange. Not at all how I expected to feel. As a matter of fact, I didn’t expect I would get the chance to sit back and consider how it feels to watch Obama inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. I just didn’t expect him to win.

Today I watch as hundreds of thousands are breaking into celebration, full of hope and joy, that finally, something good just might occur. One man has held onto hope for us, and his election has set off a geyser of pent-up longing.

I find myself chagrined that I had stopped hoping; thinking I could be sitting here writing, “I just had that faith. Hope against hope, I believed, and look what happened. I just knew it!” as some of my friends today can claim. But not I.

I’ve often struggled with hope, and have often written my struggles publicly. Cynicism has been my shield and protector, oh these many years. Call me the sadder but wiser girl – woman – but hope is a fickle commodity, and disillusionment has been my unwelcome but constant shadow for too long. I had given up.

Today I feel…

I feel like I do when I’ve been sick for too long, and finally comes the day when I can feel myself getting better. I’ve been gone, and the world has gone on without me. I’ve been down, but others have taken up the fight. Those thousands upon thousands are dancing the dance of hope for me, while I sit and watch and weakly smile. Not quite up for dancing, but it’s nice to know that goodness happens still.

Ah, Yes

If you are female and over 40, check this out. Made my day. If you’re neither, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Straight From the Heart of Jen Lee

 

photo by jen lemen

photo by jen lemen

 

 

Last week I spent a pleasant morning interviewing my friend, Jen Lee, about her new life’s path – writing – and two extraordinary projects she has created. These projects come straight from her brave soul, and serve as inspiration for us all.

The first project is entitled, “Don’t Write: A Reluctant Journal,” and the second is an audio cd with original stories called, “Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark.”

 

Here’s my interview with Jen:

 

Me: So. “Don’t Write.” isn’t that a funny name for a journal? Tell me how you came up with the idea.

Jen: I was going through an internal show-down with all the messages and voices from past and present that were very loudly admonishing me, “Don’t write.” So, first came the poem, “Don’t write”, in which I laid bare my fears about the consequences of my words, and also spelled out just what it was that compelled me to keep going–even in the face of all I risked.

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

It might tell someone how

you feel. How you hurt.

What you don’t understand.

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

It will show who you are

on the inside to the outside.

It’ll blow your cover,

your nice reputation.

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

You might hurt someone’s feelings.

People may not like your words.

They may attack you, or abandon you. 

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

It might give others hope.

Let them know

they’re not alone.

It might change minds.

Change directions.

Change the world.

So, whatever you do,

Don’t write.

 

Jen: Then I was washing dishes one night, in April, I think, and I just thought, “It’s a journal. Don’t Write is a reluctant journal”.

I was warned against keeping journals my whole life, so it seemed the perfect expression of my dissidence.

Me: I love it so much – staring down the inner threats and saying “watch me!” 

Jen: They’re already there. In my head. In the room. We might as well name them–and something about seeing them in front of me makes them a little less scary. Like, bring it!

Me: Yes! And it gives us all permission to do the same. I feel a little flash of defiance when I think of it.

Jen: I think most of us could use a little flash of defiance. 

Me: Who do you especially want to use the journal?

Jen: People who are tired of being silent. Those who are done buying their own lines of bullsh*t about how they don’t have time, or what they have to say isn’t all that important–those who aren’t buying the voices telling them their words won’t make a difference. People who are ready for a revolution. 

Me: I’m feelin’ that flash of defiance again. I love it!

I heard you have another brilliant idea you’re working on. Can you tell us about it?

Jen: I just released a project that is my fiction debut. It’s an audio story collection called “Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark”. It’s a little vulnerable for me to do a project that incorporates my physical voice, because I’ve really struggled this last year with the way I’ve even shut my voice down physically throughout my life.

But, I’m gaining confidence to put what I’ve got “out there”. These are the moves I got.

Me: Jen, you’re incredibly brave. This writing thing is really about letting your soul loose, isn’t it?

Jen: For me it is. It’s the best vehicle I’ve found for that so far. It’s easiest for me to be myself when I’m in the presence of those who love me outrageously. The six stories on this CD are really my love poems for these women.

Me: I can’t wait to hear them. How can we get our hands on both of these great projects? 

Jen: Both are available now for pre-order on my website. “Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark” begins shipping mid-November, and “Don’t Write: A Reluctant Journal” should begin not long after that. The quantities are limited, though, so I’m hoping no one waits too long!

Visit Jen’s blog to get your hands on these two great projects, straight from the heart of a friend.

Catching up on stuff

It’s a strange season. I’m ambivalent about blogging, bogged down in a quagmire of political frustration, and not doing the things I said I wanted to do. Like write.

I did vote, though. Evidently I signed up to vote by mail before I knew about the warnings. I called the voting people, however, and they assured me that they will count every vote, after the signatures are verified, on November 4. Ninety-five thousand Coloradans are voting by mail this election. I guess I’m one of them. It makes me nervous, but at least I’m done.

I also officiated a wedding last week, along with my husband.  In case you’re wondering, in Colorado, anyone can officiate a wedding. There are no standards. Your dog could do it, if you want. But I think we did a pretty good job. It was a lovely wedding, a beautiful day, and some damn fine officiating.

My computer is sick. I have mixed feelings about that as well. Of course I miss it like my right arm, but on the other hand, it’s nice to have to restrict myself to leftover time on my husband’s machine. I’m tempted to get off the grid completely and go back to paper.

What makes me happy today is this blog, written by a couple of octogenarians.

Enjoy.

Voting Rights Threatened

From the Chicago Tribune

From Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:

Bobby: “There are about 30 scams the Republicans are deliberately using, particularly in the swing states to get democratic voters off the rolls. These scams originate in the so-called Help America Vote Act which was passed after the Florida debacle in the year 2000. It was originally suggested by Democrats and Republicans but it was passed by a Republican congress with a Republican senate and a Republican president. And instead of reforming what happened in Florida it basically institutionalized all the problems that happened in Florida. And institutionalized a series of impediments that make it very difficult for Democrats to register, for democrats to vote and then for Democrats to have their vote counted.

“One of these requirements under HAVA is called “the perfect match” and what that does is little known but it is devastating. A quarter of the voters in Colorado have just been removed from the rolls because of this–just this one scam. And what it does is they use a computer system to compare your registration application to all other government records of you in the state. So they’ll look at your social security records, your motor vehicle records and any time you’ve had any interaction with the government and if there is any information on your voter registration that is different than the information on another government record that they find they remove you from the voting rolls.

“For example, if I registered as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and yet my motor vehicle license said Robert Frances Kennedy Jr. I’d be removed from the rolls. If your initial is different, if you leave an initial out, if you leave a “Jr.” out, if you leave a hyphen out in your name. And what they’ve done is a study in New York that said 80% of the errors are errors that were done by state clerks who are taking down this information. And particularly immigrant communities that people tend to vote democratic, people have names…spell Muhammad with an “o” instead of a “u.” 

In New Jersey, which is a swing state, 300,000 voters in New Jersey were just sent letters saying that they are now ineligible to vote. New Jersey is nice enough to actually notify them–most states will not even notify them. And New Jersey intends to send out 870,000 letters so that is three quarters of a million people off the voting rolls in a state that could decide this vote by 50,000 votes. And these are democrats that are being pushed off the rolls.

Bobby: “Let me tell you about one other of these scams people should know about. If you’re a newly registered voter–and of course the Democrats have done these gigantic registration drives–12 million people on registration–if you’re a new voter you MUST include your license or some other state I.D. when you come to vote. What that means is that if you’re a college kid (and college kids now–they’re sending in absentee ballots–they’re not going to the voting place, they do everything online or they do everything remotely–they don’t dream of going to the precinct house voting on election day and waiting in a long line) so if they send in the absentee ballot and they don’t include a color copy of their license their vote is going to be thrown into a trash can. And none of these people know this because you have had to read the law in order to know it. So there is no notification for when you fill out your registration form, so all of those 12 million people that the democrats have registered: those ballots are going to be just thrown out.

 

REMEMBER:

1. VOTE

2. VOTE IN PERSON (IF POSSIBLE)

3. DON’T VOTE EARLY (IF POSSIBLE)

4. VOTE ON A PAPER BALLOT (NO MACHINE IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE)

5. BRING AN “VALID” I.D. (IF POSSIBLE)

6. IF YOU HAVE TO VOTE ABSENTEE ENCLOSE A COLOR COPY OF CURRENT  

LICENSE OR

OTHER OTHER “VALID” (STATE?) I.D. OR OTHER DOCUMENTATION LISTED ABOVE.

Resonance and Bill Moyers

Hey, check out my new space for advertising my coaching business. Resonance: your life, in tune, can be gandered at here. I’ll put it on the blogroll one of these first days.

Meanwhile, I want to recommend an interview I watched online. It’s Bill Moyers interviewing Andrew J. Bacevich, who has written a new book, entitled, THE LIMITS OF POWER: THE END OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM. 

Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University. A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy, he received his Ph. D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. Before joining the faculty of Boston University in 1998, he taught at West Point and at Johns Hopkins University. He’s a retired Army colonel.

I know I’ve been pretty partisan these last few months, so in case you’re not in agreement with my politics, I just want to say that this interview has very little to do with any campaign. Neither is Bacevich a left-wing liberal. He’s a self-proclaimed conservative and a career military man. 

It’s a lengthy interview, but very very important for our time. I apologize it’s not imbed-able, so you’ll have to go to PBS to see it. 

Click here to view the video.

Political Shadow

This from Deepak Chopra, Huffington Post, Sept 4:

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week.

On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giulian is a towering international figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

  I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:

  –Small town values — a denial of America’s global role, a  return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

 –Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.

 –Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be heeded.

  –Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

 –Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.

 –“Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.”

The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict.

The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.