Archive for the ‘peace’ Tag

The Case for Self Care

Self care is a concept that makes sense intellectually. If you take care of yourself, you’re in a better position to care for others. But for me, emotionally, I struggle with the sense of selfishness that always comes with putting myself first. It feels exactly opposite to my entire upbringing. 

But I can appreciate that everyone needs a rest, a break now and then. So here are three ways I’m indulging in some self care:

  1. I’m taking the week off. I’ve been working a lot. I always have worked long hours, but in the last few weeks I’ve been under a lot of stress with a lot of executive-level decisions. So I have told myself that I’ll be sharper, better equipped to keep up that level of work if I take a break. Plus, I promised myself last year that I’d use my PTO this year. I lost two weeks last year, and I don’t want to do that this year. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m down to one week and still hopeful to use most of it. 
  2. Also, I have given up on social media. With the exception of a few #lookingup Tweets to post a few cool sunrise/sunset pics, I haven’t opened Facebook or looked at my Twitter timeline in a week. The relief from the constant barrage of anger, unkindness, and hate that saturates media feeds, I have been calmer and less anxious. The trade-off is a deeper sense of isolation. I’m still trying to find an IRL community, friends with shared experiences and interests. That’s harder to do than you’d expect. But even so, the lessening of the angst is worth the isolation. Sorry if you’ve posted in my timeline- try PM via Messenger or text me directly. For now, I’m giving FB and Twitter a miss. 
  3. Finally, I’m finding time for quiet time alone. Minutes to hours where the screens are off and there’s no one talking to me are precious. It isn’t that I don’t want people near me or to talk to me. But I have to be “on” all the time, both at work and home, when people are there. I’m expected to make decisions and give direction and contribute to the conversation. That’s part of the job and part of being a family. But it’s part of what makes me stressed out, too. For whatever reason, noise, especially voices, build up a pressure inside my nerves, make me want to run and hide. So I’m trying to find time, at least a few minutes every day, to sit quietly alone and let my jangling nerves rest. 

I hope you’re finding ways to treat yourself well. Peace and light to you all. 

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Mangled Lyrics 

I have always had a challenge with “ear worms”, songs that get stuck in your head and repeat incessantly. As a kid, I shared the joy of them with everyone by singing them loudly until I exhausted whatever malicious energy feeds them. But as an adult I have to be conscious of the fact that that extremely annoying habit might induce aggression or get me committed as insane. 

So I learned a long time ago that I can usually kill an ear worm by replacing it with a go-to song that my brain finds comforting and non-invasive. I let that song play in my head, a little louder than the other, and let its rhythm overtake the other. Something about that process flips the off switch and I can generally get on with my day or relax enough to sleep. 

I say this usually works, because sometimes it doesn’t. When I’m particularly stressed, for example, and the insidious song is somehow connected by my brain to the stressor, even that trick is unreliable. 

And now, to accompany the extreme stress and anxiety I’m experiencing from the elections, comes the fresh hell of ear worms of mangled lyrics that tie the songs and stress even closer together. 

No peace within, no peace without. Joy. 

For a week now (at least since the election), I’ve had a soundtrack of alternating song snippets punctuating my every waking moment. First up is my brain’s twisted version of the refrain from “Everything is Awesome” by Tegan & Sara from the LEGO Movie, only its “Everything is Awful” over and over again. Followed closely by a version of Fun’s “All Alright”, in which my brain supplies slightly modified and completely accurate lyrics of “It’s not alright, no it’s not alright, it’s such a mess inside of my head and I’m not alright. No it’s not alright, no it’s not alright, I’ve got nothing left inside of my chest and I’m not alright.”

So that’s fun. 

I can’t decide if my brain is trying to help me or kill me. Maybe it’s an affirmation of my feelings, a biochemical validation that’s supposed to help me through until I am alright? Or maybe it’s just one more layer of stress and awfulness designed to make my head explode. I don’t know. 

But my go-to, ear worm-killing, comfort song* isn’t helping. And the peaceful moments alone that I desperately need to still the screeching static in my head are infiltrated with these ceaseless songs.   

I need a new trick to turn off the unwanted music.   

*I can’t say what it is or its power will fade, like Samson and his locks of hair…or something. 

A thought on grief

A friend posted a poem on Facebook tonight about how her heart feels shattered, like a broken vase, after the deaths of her beloved brother this month, and sister barely a year ago. Her pain is laid bare in the imagery of a shattered vessel with missing pieces. 

Many of her friends commented with love and support, though some feared her poem was too despairing. 

I have felt the same pain after the loss of my father, grandmother, and mother. Each were dear to me in unique ways, but that shattering was the same each time. It lingers, latent and receding, but present and real. Her moving, plaintive cry in this post spoke to my heart. My brief comment on her post is the lesson I learned from each of those losses. I gave it to her, hoping it would provide a degree of hope and bring a brief respite from the despair. 

Grieve. Heal. Remember. Cry. Laugh. Continue to love. And when the time is right…pick up the shards and fit them, together with your memories and love of them both, into a beautiful mosaic heart full of life and light and the wisdom of your experience.

What we all know, each to their own degree and according to their own experience, is that life goes on inexorably. We either live it or it passes us by while also dragging us with it. Grieving makes mindful, intentional living a daunting, bleak task. It’s so hard not to drown in the tide of tears. 

That’s the moment when you need a reminder that when the piercing pain subsides, the heart once shattered is still strong and whole enough to hold the love and memories of our beloved. And if there are still some cracks and missing pieces, just know that they serve a purpose: the light gets in through the cracks and shines brightest out the windows left in the shape of the loves gone on.  

Love and light and peace and healing to all of us. May we all build our beautiful mosaic hearts from the shards of our grief. 🙏💙🙏

Allegory for Peace

Listening to the news, reading news accounts online, hearing of events in conversation, in whatever way it comes to me, the news never fails to distress and unnerve me. I don’t see any good that comes from following it. Yet, it is necessary to be aware, at least generally, of what is happening in the world. As Veteran’s Day approaches in the US and stories abound of heroism and sacrifice, juxtaposed with news accounts of aggression, incursion, and death, my mind and sensibilities are unsettled.

My family is full of military heritage and patriots. My personal experience of late full of struggle for equality and authenticity. And the world continues to evolve, revolve and devolve by turns with respect to individual and communal quests for peace and equality. It’s all such a jumble. And, as is sometimes the case when my mind is swimming in stress and unresolvable puzzles, my mind creates in order to make sense of what is impacting on it at the time.

Imperfect, rough and unedited, the following clawed itself out of my brain after viewing a particularly unnerving documentary about soldiers returned from war and the art they created to express their experiences. Their art was both beautiful and raw, evocative and frightening. This bit of verse is none of that, but does serve to siphon some of the nervous energy that seeing their art created in me.

An Allegory of Peace

In everwood
Beyond the sunset
And under the shadow
Of the forever tree
Lived a simple soul
Still and quiet when at rest
Yet full of vigor and passion
For life and love and the beauty
Of the human heart
~
Peace, a fitting name for such a one
Crowned in equity
Cloaked in justice
Shod in freedom
The might and nobility
Gravitas and grace
Of Peace was coveted by all
Yet Peace was hard won
~
Elusive, Peace could only be reached
Through paths often perilous
Winding from fields of honor
And courts both lawful and profane
Uphill to plateaus of logic and peaks of erudition
Down slippery slopes of expediency and compromise
Over narrow bridges spanning chasms of ideology
Teetering on the precipice over abysses of war and pain
~
From age to age
Seekers of Peace carried many bags of motive
Some filled with hope and reason
Some dark and heavy with vengeance
Others light, full of optimism and faith
Many bristling with weapons of fearful hate
~
Their journeys fraught with doubt and danger
Peace seekers seldom emerged
From such treacherous paths unscathed
~
Some who sought Peace’s repose
Who braved the treacherous paths
Who gained and lost ground in the fight
Often fell within sight of Peace
Yet theirs was not a vain struggle
Nor their sacrifices empty
For the trails of their labors
Paved wider roads to Peace
~
Others survived the journey
Each one with a story
A parable of warning
Or a song of triumph
But each with a scar, a badge of sorts
A testament to the hunt
~
A few who succeeded in their quest
Lived for a time in that fair land
Enjoying the fruits of Peace’s reign
Even in small ways not always recorded for posterity
Staying in that cool and quiet glade
Singing their ballads and hymns of praise
Awash in the glory of Peace
~
Others who lost their way in the hunt
Battered and torn by brambles of strife
Bruised and weary of the climb
Stopped searching and settled
In a rocky valley of limbo
Where all paths circulate in endless
Rings of repetition hedged in stubbornness
Passing by highways to equality
Snubbing pathways of logic
Rejecting gateways to common ground
~
Those that dwelt in this desolate place
Roiled and seethed with bitterness
Resenting the gains that
Seekers on paths beyond the hedgerows
Seemed to make against the mountain of evolving ideology
Angry at the erosion of their historical stronghold
These by-dwellers in the valley of stony resistance
Struck out against the Peace seekers on the outside paths
~
Cycle after cycle of struggle and strife
Wars both physical and ideological
Raged in varying degrees constantly
All in the name and pursuit of Peace
~
But the progeny of the Peace seekers
Who rested in the reflected glow of Peace
Heard the sound of ongoing strife
Heard echoing cries for the bounty of Peace: equally, freedom, choice, self-determination
These beneficiaries of prior struggles
Answered the call
~
Poppies and ribbons, crosses and flags
Symbols of the causes of their forebears
“Lest we forget”, “Never forget”, their refrain
~
No longer at rest, never truly in repose
Seekers of Peace know
That the struggle goes on
In small ways and large
Over all the world
In ways sometimes unseen and unacknowledged
Yet ongoing
At home and abroad
With reason and diplomacy
Through logic and law
From heart to soul
Respect to respect
Until every warrior returns home
Until all are equal under law
Until every seeker finds Peace

Thankful for…restoration

So Saturday started off kinda rough. I agreed to go with my brother & sister-in-law to their studio for some family time and creativity. Despite having to miss time with Special Femme to do so, I was looking forward to it. I love them, I like spending time with them and I take real joy in playing with my tools and creating pretty things.

But in the truck on the way there, my brother made us listen to talk radio. I absolutely loathe talk radio. But, as he was the driver, he chose the station. He loves that drivel. I find it coma-inducing at the best of times and when it’s bad, as it was today, infuriating and demoralizing all at once.

It was a political talk show, with a local former politician and lecturer as host. We came into the middle of the segment, but I quickly gathered that they were discussing at least one piece of legislation giving LGBT people access to rights others have by default. The callers were uniformly anti-gay rights and some vey belligerent in their expression.

Opinions ranged widely, but several expressed some form of belief in an “evil agenda” by “LGBTs” to siphon the morals from our society and purge morality from our laws–basically condemning my very existence as a butch lesbian as immoral. At one point, an angry, outspoken man called and proceeded to both speak for “god” in condemning the entire LGBTQI population as evil and amoral, but also label all of us as pedophiles. Horrible bile largely unchallenged by the show’s host.

But, what I found most demoralizing happened after I’d had enough and asked for it to be turned off. My brother did turn it off, but then went on a 10-minute tirade confirming the “dangerous” nature of the legislation, which he characterized as legitimizing various forms of “deviants”. Surprisingly, I was able to keep calm and ask for clarification on his meaning in using that word. Upon exploration, I understood him to mean that he believes the law allows people to declare an identity different from (i.e. a deviation from) their apparent gender assignment and thereby gain access to the amenities available to that other identity (primarily bathroom and locker room facilities labeled for a different gender). But his cavalier use of the incorrect word “deviant” was jarring, pejorative and unnerving, despite his lack of mean-spiritedness.

Then, at various times during the day I heard him touch on the subject with the guys in the shop and heard their less-than-supportive blathering. The lack of respect in their discussion, which arises from their position of privilege, grated on me all day.

Follow that with a dinner out with a group of acquaintances who spent far too much time griping and gossiping about others not present and an uncomfortable noise level in the restaurant, and you have one powerful recipe for a headache. By the end of the evening, I was completely over having to deal with people and just wanted some quiet.

That’s when the day got better. With the peace of a quiet bedroom, comfy PJs and a good Skype connection to Special Femme, I was able to resign the trouble to the aether and let Lulu’s sympathetic voice soothe me to sleep.

I’ve always been a believer in the restorative power of sleep. Not only does the body need the rest to gather strength for a new day, but the mind needs the peace. I process a lot of information in my sleep. Sometimes this manifests in bad dreams, particularly when I’m stressed. But last night, with the peace and soothing comfort of my beloved, I had no nightmares.

I rested and am restored to live another day. Though I’m not happy at the set-back in my confidence and plans to come out to my brother, I’m still happy and at peace on a fundamental level, knowing that I have the love and support of a wonderful woman and the will and intelligence to eventually overcome this hateful ignorance.

I won’t be deterred. I am renewed. And I’m thankful for the restoration of sleep and the perspective it brings with a new day.

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