After an overwhelmingly successful donation drive, we had two vehicles filled to capacity, a U-Haul trailer and four drivers on the road to deliver. I had never driven beyond the middle of Montana and oh my, North Dakota is far from Eugene, Oregon.
The items we were delivering to the water protectors varied. We had gathered more than we could take and I had to sort through items for quality and appropriateness. The night before we left, our living room had mountains of supplies, coats, food, randomness. In full disclosure, I really felt pushed beyond my comfort zone. I needed to do something with all these items, reign in some of the chaos, put order to disarray. I made piles of coats by gender than size. A good friend recommended vacuum sealed storage bags and soon we had seven x-large bags full of the coldest weather gear. We made supply boxes and first aid boxes. All of this generosity covering my couches. The people of Eugene really have a lot to share. The world is abundant.
We gathered most of the donations through social media events and sharing. I was on the local news twice. Oh, Facebook and the news. I am not going to rail about fake news or anything really besides the fear we allow into our lives. I had watched countless videos about Standing Rock, daily. I was full of emotion about what was happening hence the donation drive and delivery. I was saddened and worried and mad about the water and my fellow humans. (What is the root of all those emotions? Fear) Once we had made the plan to go it became very curious how people reacted. I had more warnings for my safety than I had expected, from all types of people. Their concern was real. But I wasn’t afraid. Should I be afraid? Was I being naive to the reality of being attacked by water cannons and pepper spray? Was I missing an appropriate amount of fear?
Facebook and I had an unhealthy relationship in the 2010’s. We broke up and remained apart for about 5 years until last year when I started my own business and needed to hop back into the ring. I created clear boundaries for myself and Facebook. So far things have been relatively healthy. During the break up I could not control myself and the happiness of others was crushing me. I was in ruins and off kilter while EVERYONE was happy and successful. I did not have the tools to see the truth about Facebook. Fast forward: Today my comparisons of friends success and their highlight reel has been kept in check. Comparisons are a rusty sword to my well-being. They cut gashes that fester on my weaknesses (it’s all about the tools). In my world, I feel envious when certain friends travel the globe but mostly I wonder why people post some of the personal things they do. To share intimate information with people holding a tenuous thread in your life seems like a false vulnerability that teeters on attention seeking and over exposure. I have to wonder sometimes about what I post and share and the story I am telling about my life because essentially we are all telling a story. I digress.
Two days before we left for North Dakota the water cannon incident in below freezing weather happened. What I watched and read was so brutal. On the drive there I wondered how humans can continue to treat one another this way. The majority of my information was from Facebook. The brief news bits on the radio really did not give much meat to the story. We also heard bits from people who had returned from the trip.
The drive was interesting. We hit two snow storms. There were towns I really did not want to stop in. There were places that I did not want to be too lesbian in. Just slide right on through, don’t bring any attention to us. We made good time. And we hit North Dakota on Thanksgiving. I had never driven through an Indian Reservation. We had to take an alternative route because we heard that there were roadblocks and searches and this took us south of Bismarck through the Rez. I was unnerved. How did people survive and make a living? It looked bleak. Hardly any trees, hardly any greenery. The houses were really spread apart. The miles and miles just rolled by. Nearing Cannon Ball, I had a flood of nerves. I welled up with tears and as they spilled out I tried to place the root of my emotions. I was empathizing with a suffering.
Then we made it to camp.
My tears promptly dried. I was not expecting the vastness of the camps. The sheer number of tents and cars and people left me with a new set of emotions. We were greeted by a beautiful woman at the gate who welcomed us home. After driving pass rows of cars, we found a spot to park and stretch our legs. In the near distance, we heard a megaphone giving peaceful protest directions. We headed over and got caught up in a large group heading to the front line. Yikes! This is where people are hurt and the guards stand waiting to inflict the punishment. We had gas masks and ear protection but left it all in the car. Should I be scared? I didn’t feel scared. And as we walked, the hill with the guards became clear. I had seen this hill on Facebook. I walked past the guy who posted vlogs daily, I felt an odd familiarity with him though I cannot say we ever met. I overheard conversations that were trivial and saw people who looked like people I had seen at other gatherings. Not protests but parties. I saw more cars chugging down gasoline driving to the front line. So many cars everywhere. Isn’t our fossil fuel consumption a big part of this problem? Isn’t the pipeline moving around crude oil to be processed to fuel things like cars? And as we got closer to the hill I felt like a hypocrite. I drove my car 1500 miles one way to fight against the very thing that got me there. I was just another white girl at the party. My privilege clouding the actual struggle of native people. My history class never covered the genocide of Native Americans with any actual meaning. As we walked, the men on the hill became just men. And I am just human. And I was an interloper in this battle.
Once we reached the front line, it became very clear to me that this place was not where my best efforts would be utilized. There were prayers and songs and people crossing the water. There were National Guard troops waiting on every hill with Humvees and rifles. There were publicly paid armed guards standing watch from atop the hill ready for something. But it was Thanksgiving. And the guys on the hill were just guys. Not even important guys because if they were they would have the day off. Those guys couldn’t change the course of this pipeline. They were not the powers that be. They were just cogs like the rest of us who drove there dependent on oil. I felt like I should have had a spiritual experience. Like I should have felt more and been moved towards some enlightenment. We shared space and spoke with other humans doing incredibly human things. We went back to camp and shared the items we brought. And we left. That night.
On our long drive home we listened to many podcasts. Some on racism, one about Putin’s propaganda against gays and I decided I needed to use my power wisely. BLACK LIVES MATTER. And white lives need to believe and live and teach the fact that black lives matter. Yes, all lives matter but it is not the same history for all lives. The majority of white lives have not had slavery as defining force in their ancestry. There is not the same societal, educational, economic forces pressuring all lives. Side note: read or listen to THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead. It will blow your mind.
Me yelling at some guard on a hill who has to work Thanksgiving (I can’t even get started on Thanksgiving) someone without any real power is not going to change anything. He may be able to inflict harm but he cannot make real change externally to the pipeline. And how do we make real change? How do I make real change? How do I use my power? I want to say IDFK, but on some level I do know.
Gotta start inside first. Check myself, my ego, my bullshit. Do my work on me. In my experience, this work is a constant. Not in a self-centered, I-can-only-work-on-me-type of way, but remembering I-carry-some-bullshit-type of way and to not let that slow me down in making the world a better place. So internal work then external work.
External work: I like to think and say “vote with your money”. How do we vote with our money? First, if we are in debt we have no power. We are not free, we are tethered to things that happened in the past. Second, if we are not informed we have no power. We must know how the system operates to change it. Eyes, ears, heart open. Take in information in a broad manner and critically think about what you find. Third, if fear steers the ship we are going to sink. Fear has to be put aside when rethinking the paradigm and our place in it. Fear is a crafty shit that seeps in even when we are looking for it. We have to manage our own fear (internal) but we also have to navigate fear within our groups (external). The fear that grips groups of people really clouds and skews judgement. I am sure you have seen this fear show its ugly face with recent politics in the US. I have seen and heard a lots of fear mongering about the President-Elect. Fear cannot steer the ship. Fourth, STOP EATING MEAT.
We did not need the gas mask during our brief time at the front line, it will be saved for another day. I empathized with my imagination, maybe from conjuring suffering from a collective consciousness or maybe from the deep well of my personal suffering. I understand the walk a mile in her shoes but if I cannot even fathom the shoes or the road, it’s nearly impossible for me. I don’t think I am alone in this. I had no first hand knowledge of Standing Rock. I didn’t know anyone who lived there. I thought I knew what was happening based on social media. I learned that I need to find out for myself. I needed to go to North Dakota and feel small and powerless and gullible. I needed to realize my own hypocrisy and the power fear has over me. I needed to see other humans so committed in their cause to make me feel so flaky in mine.
Where is my power? It may be in my story. The story I hear in my head and my heart. The story I tell others. We need to tell our stories with a fierce love that allows changes and editing. An unconditional love that lets us see flaws but tell the story anyway. Our stories may be the only thing we have. Our stories have power.
Maybe I had a spiritual experience after all.
Empathy. The difference between humans and worms.
Before we decided to drive to Standing Rock, North Dakota, I was incensed about the North Dakota Pipeline. Big business, private interests stealing from the people with permission from the US government. Water contamination an obvious outcome of this pipeline. 904 oil spills in North Dakota this year. The government taking from its own people via eminent domain. Obvious conflicts of interest and gross misuse of power.
Then we decided to gather donations and drive to Standing Rock. It is as if my heart was allowed to feel the full force of grief. The crimes against Peaceful Protectors. One letter difference between a protector and a protestor. The crimes against our Earth. Allowing this information in on a deeper level through an open heart HURTS.
I am not native. Actually, I am an invasive. I have been all my life. Growing up in Hawaii, I was reminded incessantly how I wasn’t from there. I was too white, haole, and to go back to where I was from. I don’t know where that is. I forgot, my people forgot, in a sense we all forgot our true home. The Great Forgetting of where we are from and who we are connected to. My paternal side has been in Hawaii for four generations and my maternal side for three generations. I am fifth generation born in Hawaii and my son is sixth. Thinking of going back to where I am from always left me in a quandary. Should I go to Scotland? The land of my paternity, of which I have 50% of my genes, a place I have never been to people I have never met. Or to the small islands off Portugal, the land of my maternal people, also a place I have never been and people I have never met. This lead me to the idea that the people there wouldn’t want me either. I would still be an invasive. A girl with no homeland. And so I have been my whole life. I am not sad about this, anymore.
As an only child, there is always a bit of longing to be a part of that familial web that I don’t really understand. I have family, the greatest mom I could have, uncles, aunts, cousins, all sharing bits of genetic code yet the existential “who am I” is a bit more literal. It doesn’t seem that my family members share the same lack of place. When I was in Bali, I started to understand the way the people there all participate in this large web of life that maps them and tethers them. Maybe it’s the tether of “this is where you belong, this is your place” that I am missing. My place on the map.
We all exist in the anthropocene and are cruising through the sixth extinction. We know how we live changes the biotic and abiotic factors. It is not hoax that our species has altered the environment drastically. We know that we are heading for a shift in energy use, whether we choose to acknowledge the eventual end of fossil fuels or not. We know that we have decimated species and many more are on the brink of extinction, example Orangutans killed for palm oil, burned to death in the process of creating farmland, our most genetically similar relatives. We know that horrible things happen to children, our most valuable and vulnerable of society, yet we push forward. I push forward, IMUA.
I have seen the many Facebook posts, read articles, seen footage of the Water Protectors, Peaceful Warriors brutally attacked and felt helpless. Utterly helpless. It could seem hopeless. Hope and hopelessness: an interesting mingling of feelings. I find it harmful to hope, it sets me up for unmet expectations, essentially it leads me to suffering. I choose to have faith over hope. And I am choosing to have faith in myself and our species. Faith that we can bring a bit of our intention and energy to those who can stand up for their beliefs because we all want to believe. Faith that empathy will allow us to share our bounty and abundance with those who have abundance of conviction and in turn share a connection.
At this time, there seems to be an unveiling of sorts. As if we are remembering with our hearts things we had wiped away through the Great Forgetting. I think it is societal to turn away from our history of violence and oppression towards groups that are anything but the white man. That is hard to write. I am white. And in some not so distant past my ancestors may have participated in brutality against others. The Great Forgetting is like a giant eraser of those memories that has been handed down and all I am left with is a blanket of nondescript guilt and lack of place. A denial of our collective memory that causes guilt/ sadness/ heartache. My guilt could partly be attributed to my Catholic childhood, those catholics and their horrors. It could be guilt for my opportunities and my access to alternative choices because I am not such a minority. And it could be due to the DNA we all share that is coded with all of our history.
This Great Forgetting has lead to apathy. A feeling like a low grade sickness at the back of your throat, nothing full blown that you need to take action on, but there waiting to get worse. Apathy is widespread. I see it. I feel it. The memories are in us but vague, unreachable. We remember through the DNA passed to us, the atrocities our people endured and participated in. We carry this. Yet, we also carry the memories of our connection. Embedded further in our twisted base pairs. This is time for the Remembering. We have to sort through our layers.
In Hawai’i, there is a ceremony called Ho’oponopono– to make right. Essentially, in the easiest way to share- I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. Start with yourself then work out. I want to share a prayer I keep in view at my house by Aunty M.
Father, Mother, Child as one…If I, my family, relatives and ancestors have offended you , your family, relatives, and ancestors in thoughts, words, deeds, and actions, from the beginning of creation to the present,
We ask your forgiveness…
Let this cleanse, purify, release, cut all the negative memories, blocks, energies, and vibrations and transmute these unwanted energies into pure light.
As it is said, it is done and set free.
The first time I read this out loud I cried, hard. It gave me faith that in my Remembering I have the ability to change and heal. I can empathize and not be swallowed by another and their suffering. It is okay for me to remember and dive deeper toward connection. It is okay to offer forgiveness to myself. It is okay for me to help even with all of my flaws.
Standing Rock is part of our Remembering. And our Healing. This is evident by the people here in Eugene who have donated their time and energy to help two girls on a mish to drive supplies to North Dakota for people who are beacons of light. It is evident in people from around the world doing what they can where they are. This support, for the plethora of reasons motivating each individual, has strengthened my faith in our collective human experience moving toward the light. My heart hurts and cracks feeling the violence happening to the Water Protectors and our Earth. And I am grateful for this pain. For each time my heart breaks, even just a little, it opens and with each crack I have a little more room to hold goodness, love and peace. This is what puts me on the map.
Summer has sped away down a dusty road, leaving my hopes for a sultry, golden tan in the rearview. Eugene had exorbitantly hot weather this summer, the fires started in California and I saw a tractor mowing dirt. On bad days, I wonder how long it’ll take for our species to devolve into a Tank Girl/ Idiocracy existence. On good days, I believe we are getting our act together and things are going to get better. This is how I came to end my days sitting on the fence watching the show.
I need to preface my thought process. Politics for me are interesting but I have a finite attention span, as I do for most things that I cannot touch. I was once called tactile in a museum, I prefer kinesthetically motivated. Anyway. Politics would be much more engaging if I had a personal connection and not the pussy grabbing kind (funny timing on the release of that sound bite). Engaging in this election was meh. I’d get around to it.
My first chance to vote for president was Bill Clinton, the second term. My black and white held staunch lines, I was not comfortable in the grey. Then Monica, the dress, the cigar and WTF first lady?! You are going to take that? I felt for Hillary and Chelsea. I felt for Monica. And Bill. It sucked, haha. But really, it was so nationally embarrassing. I am sure in other parts of the world it really was not a big deal to have an affair. We are still puritanical in some ridiculous ways. How could such a brilliant woman stay with such a slime ball? I was indignant. No grey yet. No understanding that marriage is complicated and different for each couple. How could a self-respecting woman allow herself to be treated this way? How could she tolerate him and the press? She was a warrior. She was a shero.
Then we went through the bushes. And I missed the old days, the accent, the policies. I missed what we had. The intelligence, the ease and comfort. The balanced budget. I was nostalgic for acumen.
Fast forward twenty years. I am driving to a golf tournament, this time hosting a hole. Still not engaging in the election. KLCC, the local NPR station is playing a Hillary speech on what exactly I cannot remember, but it felt important. And listening to her talk I jumped off my piece of the fence. I leapt into the mix, I engaged. Vote for Hillary! Except my motivation for her being the first woman was not as compelling as it was last time around. Something changed and I think it was the Obama. His pedestal is high. I know that no person is perfect and mistakes were made but we had it good. Now, we must move forward and this new chapter is all about Hillary.
I signed up on her website to volunteer when I got home, but all I get are donation emails. So I try to talk to people about voting for her and many people distrust her. Why is this? I hear it is because she lied and is linked to corruption, Benghazi, the email server. And it makes me wonder. Is she really another lying politician or is she a female, lying politician beating the old boys at their game and they don’t like it? Could the main issue be that she is a woman?
Hillary is brilliant. Experienced. Well read. Well traveled. Consistent in fighting for minorities and against -isms. Does it really come to the fact that she has a vagina? And honestly I think it does. This makes me want to campaign harder for her. V power. She is also a lifetime politician.
There are over 7 billion humans on Earth. 6 billion of us live in PEACE. 1 billion do not. I propose that the 6 billion of us stop watching, listening, giving any attention to the 1 billion that are doing their best to bring us down. Let’s take that high road together and remember our power. Let’s not give it away or let it be stolen. Let’s VOTE!
Life is now every shade of grey. And it is beautiful. Maybe this happens with age or having a child or falling in love with a woman or letting go of everything I was supposed to want. This grey opens my heart to the rest of the world. When we grip so tightly to our safety and security, our hands cannot hold any more and we miss out. Let’s not give our fear control of our future, lets turn our faces towards what we do want and not look back.
It’s true and I know you have met them, maybe you are one of them. It could be temperament, you’re just born inexcusably unable to be pleased. Or maybe you’re conditioned through the factors of sheer existence. Life has worn all your joy away. Some people just want to wear a frown and pee on everybody’s parade.
Writing people off as crazy or finding some other mental flaw can take some of the frustration off but I feel this is not the way. If we are to deal with these people with loving kindness how do we come to terms with the fact that you can’t ever win, by doing enough, bending enough, being enough? How do I not take it personal when I have done my personal best and the feedback is my best sucks?
Well, I like to do two things. And it takes practice. I am currently practicing really, really hard. First, notice and remember there is god in there. I have had my personal struggles with the term god. I am much more spiritual than religious and being so, subscribe to a belief in the Great Spirit that we all share. But to speak a language and word that many people can relate to I use god. Part of my practice then is to look for god in the dismal person. I often find the presence in their teeth. Weird, I know. But we all share teeth, at some point we have all had them. The hardest of cases when the teeth don’t cut it, I find god in something that I also have like frizzy hair. This practice is hard in the heat of the moment. Angry, hurt, underlying fear bubbles, sometimes much more than bubbles to the base of my neck. You know how it feels. Finding something that we share takes away the separatness of them and me.
The second part of my practice, remember they are suffering. Their suffering is deep and constant and what a terrible way to be. No one wants to suffer, ever. We are all trying our best to NOT suffer. Even when the person is getting exactly what they desire the most, they are suffering. Therein lies the negative feedback loop of getting your way but it is not enough. This is like the ray of sunshine on the fact that stuff won’t fix or fill this hole that the sufferer carries. This is also difficult to deal with in the moment.
Try this Metta Meditation. Start small with yourself, May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease. Then radiate it out to loved ones, strangers, strangers suffering and eventually get to this person that can never be pleased. And Ha! by this point it is not about winning or making people happy. You have put forth your good and that is your job. Put happiness and good into the world. Sounds easy, but I know you know it is not. May all beings be happy and free of suffering.
I know, it’s kinda cheesy and terribly overdue. It’s so true though. You gotta believe in Belize. It’s your next trip.
Using trip instead of vacation evokes a sense of adventure. Sure, you may relax a couple hours on a beach but a trip for me usually involves walking, a lot of walking. On adventures, you use your body and mind. It is taxing and rewarding and when the day is over you’re tired. A party may still unfold and those couple hours on the beach the next day allows vacation laze.
We took a trip. And when I say we, I am speaking of my very own Huma Abedin. Trusted intern turn advisor. Also known as my super great girlfriend. And holy cow, Hillary is a lesbian?!?! Hmm.. I see it. Yes, this makes me much less angry about Bill being a cad. Google it.
So, Huma and I planned to go to only countries that start with “B”. Well I just thought of that, but it could be a fun way to pick destinations. We actually picked it because we went to Spain a couple summers ago and LOVED it, while on the flight home we started planning our next adventure. We both wanted to go to Central America but neither of us speak spanish. I made the vow to learn the language but found a work around for my own vow. BELIZE. They speak english and a bunch of other languages, but this time looking for food without meat would be much easier.
Huma used her flyer miles and we actually flew to Belize for a ridiculously affordable amount. Woot! It was a relatively great round trip flight. We have flown often to Hawaii and it’s like that. But cheaper. And the people like you more. Born and raised in Hawaii, my sensibilities for Hawaii may be skewed. Side note: I was born in the same hospital as President Obama. Lame claim to fame, but FYI for all your birthers.
We planned to bus around the country but while at the Belize City airport rented a car. Good choice! We drove all around the country, which was what we did in Spain but Belize is much smaller. Our plan was to AirBnB for two days in multiple locations. Most of our accommodations were operated by expats and we stayed in a hostel. All fab.
First night we stayed in Belize City. You can skip it. Although, Altun Ha was a pretty sweet first ruin visit. Then we went to St. Ignacio and stayed at Maya Mountain Resort. Loved it! Took an all day guided tour to Caracol had the best guide, Viktor Gamez. Get a guide. The money helps the local economy and guides are knowledgable of the area and history. Money well spent. Get a guide. We also took another guided tour to ATM. We hiked a half mile up an underground cave, traversing through a river and pitch blackness to Mayan ritual sites. Crazy amazing! Our wonderful guide told us that ATM will close in the net five years. You should go now. Belize ATM This is the company we used and I cannot recommend it enough.
After St. Ignacio, we went to Hopkins. A small coastal town, relaxed, pretty and walkable. We didn’t drive around much. Went on an intense hike in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Lonely Planet) the first jaguar refuge, swam in two waterfalls with tiny fish that nibbled on dead skin. (I must tell you one thing about Belize, they do the opposite of exaggerate. The moderate hike made me sweat harder than an Insanity workout and the mild hot sauce burned my tongue off.) Huma saw a wild tarantula. Hilarious sound came out of her mouth as she agitated the spider hole, we still laugh about it.
From Hopkins, we ferried to San Pedro. Total party town. There was no need to stay two nights. We stayed in a hostel, met really cool people and learned the best drinking game ever. After San Pedro, we ferried to Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker is paradise. Absolutely. Our time there was great. You should go. Like now. Caye Caulker has three sand streets and most people walk or ride bikes. At night the crabs come out and I actually ran one over while on my bike. The crab and I locked eyes and I couldn’t stop. Huma says it kept running. I started screaming and the local police rolled up on their golf cart asking what happened. Through my rolling laughter I explained I hit a crab and they pulled away, slowly, you know golf cart style. Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world and we took a guided tour to snorkel around. I even touched a shark. For real, I jumped in first all excited, put my hand out to touch them (many swimming around) then my innate self-preservation kicked in, I pulled my hand back then immediately started thinking the sharks could pick up my sense of fear. I ended up touching them and feeling bad later because I am not really sure if it was the right thing to do. But cross that off my list. Although, my Huma wants to dive with Great Whites for her next b-day. Hmmm.
Overall, the people of Belize bring the nice out. There was no underlying resentment about tourists being there. The people were proud and happy to share their world. It seemed the whole country was for sale and Guatemala is encroaching on Belize country lines. Our money is double and Belize promotes a respect for the natural world. There is a rich history and the ruins are breathtaking and interesting. I learned so much about the country. I even had a tick! Money well spent. You should go. Soon.
Here we are. Autumn. Pumpkins. Halloween.
My favorite of all, Halloween. Free candy, dressing up, parties. Halloween has been a favorite of mine since childhood. And somehow I have overlooked for much too long the greatness of a wig. Not any more. Wigs are now front and center for my decorating and frightening. Let me explain.
I have had a rough couple of years trying to carve and paint my pumpkins. This year I had an idea. Just put a wig on the pumpkin and call it good. I loved this idea, so we headed to Goodwill. There was a large container of used wigs just waiting to have another life. And looking at these wigs I was hit with the sheer awesomeness of a wig. I can wear them, duh, decorate my pumpkins with them, and scare the daylights out of my family.
Now if your family is anything like mine, frightening each other is a game that holds an odd delight. The wig is a superb scaring device. You can leave them hidden in surprising place like the shower or in the bed. You can attach a string to them and move them slowly across the floor like an odd animal. Our brains want to categorize everything and when we don’t expect a wig because they are so amorphous, we have a momentary delay in recognition. And this is how a wig is such a great tool. The swiss army knife of Halloween decorations. Buy a few and let the Halloween joy ensue.
In my neck of the woods, I have been trying my hand at gardening. My efforts have been noticed by my neighbors and they sweetly donated zucchini, their garden was booming and mine struggled valiantly producing one squash. To return the neighborly niceness, I made zucchini bread to share. During my bread making I ran out of eggs, hark! Quickly I pulled up some egg substitutes and found I could use apple sauce and a mashed banana. Sweet. One mashed banana solved my problem and actually made a way better zucchini bread. I shared my mini loaves and did not mention they were vegan because I wanted my friends to actually eat them. I was cognizant of this choice. And it got me thinking.
The world is in need of an overhaul on our consumption. We all know this. We all acknowledge it on some level, I hope. I have my days of darkness with the amount of waste we as a species produce. Panic sets in that there may be no way for our continued survival on our planet. Never did I feel this so acutely as when held my newborn son within the first week of his life. Our mortality hit me extremely hard. We will use more than our share, leave more waste than we can imagine, and swim in our trash (already do in many places).
In the science community there is a term, carrying capacity, represented by K.
K is the exponential growth of a species. That dashed line is the amount of carrying capacity of the environment. Think resources, water, food and space. The growth of the red line gets a little crazy and overshoots the dashed line then there is a die off of the species as it returns to a level that the environment can support.
I am not sure if you have seen graphs of human population growth. Or if you have felt the dashed line. I feel the dashed line. When I hear of another mass shooting, I think of the lack of connection the shooter felt towards fellow humans and I also think this may be evidence of our species not having enough space or resources. Other atrocities remind me of the K and I bet you can find evidence of place being too crowded or there not being enough for everyone as soon as you try. Homelessness is a flashing neon light. Drought worldwide. Food insecurity and extreme food waste. Plastics, man-made chemicals, trash, polluting our space to a point beyond livability.
The peaceful warrior in me stands and speaks of our human spirit and all that we are capable of. Can our spiritual evolution really help us with our incredible leap above the dashed line? If we were to work towards and embrace our enlightenment, can we alter our inevitable course?
What is there to do? Put on the blinders of false ignorance denying our own feebleness and our utter insignificance? Ignore, deny, misinterpret the truth? Or do your best and make an effort? Can it be that simple? Acknowledge and change or deny and die sooner.
The fitness of our species depends on our adaptability. And we all know we are extremely adaptable. If we are willing.
One way of the best ways humans can attempt to modify and cope is how we eat. Our most basic of human needs. At this point I cringe to write VEGAN. I have seen the looks and the shade people throw when they hear that word. The metaphorical cotton gets shoved in ears. The judgement of crazy/weird/foolish is handed down. And any further conversation is strained. The weird eater can’t explain or educate beyond this point. This may be a good chance to attempt adaptation. Maybe if we were to listen to those vegans we might learn something.
I went vegan once for about nine months. I felt great. I missed cheese, could be the casein. Thinking of vegan things to eat on the run became daunting and eventually I dropped the vegan, remaining a vegetarian. Not a fish-eating vegetarian either, we all know about overfishing, etc, etc. I have respect for people who live a vegan lifestyle. And even though there are funny memes and a hilarious J.P Sears video, it is a stance. People are eating in alignment with what they believe in. And that is admirable. Knowing from experience, it can be a cumbersome life choice. But adapting is not an easy process. Adaptation is cumbersome.
Have you seen Forks over Knives? You should. There is a great cookbook that came out after the documentary and it has some pretty good recipes. Side note: A firehouse takes on a plant-based lifestyle and the firemen become healthier by lowering their cholesterol and body weight. Food can be a creative outlet. Adapting can have moments of fun. Oh She Glows and Cookie and Kate are two of my favorite plant based blogs.
PROTEIN! That is almost a dirty word synonymous with meat but that is an incorrect assumption. Similar to: we can only get calcium from milk (a dairy industry falsehood). There are many plant combinations that supply protein to our bodies. We do not have to eat meat for our protein. And if we were to think about the life of the animal before we eat it or the type of death it experienced, would we think those cells would provide our bodies with optimal nutrients. Or the level of antibiotics and hormones in the meat we eat as something that would be remotely good for our bodies.
One of my personal mottos is: Vote with your Money. It is one our most powerful tools to make people/corporations take notice and potentially change. Think organic food production, BPA use, lead in the water. I wish I could vote away Monsanto and vote in food sovereignty, all with time right. Who controls our food? The seeds, the dirt, the crops. Who runs the factory farms? At this point we should know that it’s not really in the control of the farmers. Farmers are being crushed regularly for saving seeds or if their crops have a trace of Monsanto genes. We have so many choices to make with our money. And we have so many chances to choose, so many chances for change.
Daily we make thousands of choices. The choices run the range of thoughtless to heavy, but we still need to make them. I think that our adaptability is in our choices because we are thinking, creative animals. As we think and learn more about the choices that face us we know more. The more we know, the better our chances to grow. Another motto in my life: Once we know better we do better.
In all the excitement of having some buyers, I forgot to coach them on how our relationship will play out. This was a mistake. It’s like in the classroom, you set up your routines and reinforce positive behaviors. Clients can also use clear guidelines and positive reinforcement.
I have been hacking away at learning this new biz for the last six months, time flies right? In this time, I have not skyrocketed to financial freedom like I had hoped. It seems real estate is similar to so many other professions, it takes work and education to succeed. Real estate demands another skill to reach success and that is a degree in psychology. I did not read about that in my study guides for the test. Nor did I realize my role as couples counselor.
If you think about it, buying a house can be super stressful, fear inducing and a breeding ground for issues with miscommunication. Now multiply it by 5 when you are trying to buy a house with a partner who wants the opposite of what you want. A partner who has the tendency to change their mind in a 180 degree fashion. This is the world I now navigate.
The beloved clients can turn out to be major pains in the neck when the couple cannot get their shared vision to gel. I feel a couple assessment could help me at the start of a real estate relationship. I can ask basic questions like the Newlywed Game. Examples: How often does your partner completely change their mind? What is your partners communication weakness? Does your partner actually want to purchase a home? Oh the list can go on and on. I daydream of this questionnaire. My reality is trying to tease out what one person really wants while reading the other persons nonverbal cues and adjust accordingly. All about adaptability.
This was not quite what I had envisioned. When it was time to purchase my first home, I looked at what was out there, found an area that could work, toured some homes, then picked the one I wanted. I wasn’t looking for a dream home. I was looking to buy a house. It didn’t take that long, I was underwhelmed by my real estate broker, impressed by the escrow lady and went forward in life. I now know this is not the process for many people. I had a Realtor show me about 5 houses. I did my own research and house hunting. I left that Realtor off easy.
The beloved clients have now seen 17 houses. 17!! There is always some minutiae that is so wrong, silly things. It started with the garbage disposals. If the house didn’t have one, off the list. Then other things that could easily be fixed became deal breakers. Then the whole search widened into areas, structures and ideas that totally threw me off course. Okay, rebound, I am flexible, I am adaptable. You want to look at acreage with manufactured homes, got it. Oh, now it’s raw land to develop, okay. I have to admit we saw some questionable homes. Knives everywhere as decorations, odd smells, ridiculously steep stairs, mini trailer parks, we know the inventory. Finally, I called in the big gun, my principal broker, and we had a come to Jesus, the next week after touring 3 more houses, there was an offer. An ACTUAL OFFER!! Oh, but it’s not that easy. Always a catch in this biz. FSBO. For sale by owner. Ahhhhhhh, I didn’t prepare for this.
One offer presentation to the seller later, I realized unless people have serious experience in the state they are selling a home, they really should not try to do it themselves. I am sitting at the sellers kitchen table trying to explain the papers in front of her. She just wants something simple. Like a homemade handwritten sale. As she is looking over the sale agreement I brought, she starts to sign it. I let her know that this document is legally binding and by selling it she is agreeing to sell to my clients. Oh boy.
Fast forward to the counter offer which ends with a sentence about me taking all responsibility to ensure the seller meets all legal and time requirements. I look at it and think whatevs. I can deal with that, I am gonna do it anyway because there are not other brokers involved. But it just so happened that my favorite Pro was in the office and looked it over and in colorful language expressed how I should most definitely not agree to that. She is not my client, by selling her home without a broker it is the seller who assumes those risks.
So now I have learned A) couples bring their baggage to the table and I get to slog through it. B) FSBO’s are a handful. All valuable lumps I appreciate learning. If you are keeping track, I have had two buyers who do not mean what they say. A seasoned broker mentioned to me a little rhyme: buyers are liars and sellers are storytellers…Well, my clients decided that the house wasn’t the one. And back to the starting line we go….
Next time, I may share about my new clients: the disgruntled ex-husband who wants to sell the house while the obstinate ex-wife lives in it. This should be a test of my counseling skills and flexibility.
My trip took me from Hawaii to Singapore then Bali and Japan. I can honestly tell you after many years of commercial airline travel across the pacific, I experienced a plane ride I was sure I would not live through complete with screaming passengers and a snack cart serving Cup-o-Noodles. For weeks I was in Indonesia. At first it was great. I read and cruised around and was so ready to volunteer at the school. The volunteering fell through at the last minute and they kept my money. You usually pay in some way to travel and volunteer. In a way it worked out, I met a driver who had a friend who had an english tutoring school. I was able to accomplish a small part of my mission. I had time to walk, a lot and read, a lot. There was more trash than I had seen on beaches and piled on street corners. There were large packs of dogs, “Balinese tigers”, that lounged and ate the trash. Bali has beautiful temples and a ceremony everyday depending where you are on the island. There are some things I had never seen. Trees with skirts because they have spirits. Lot’s of honking when going over bridges, to let the spirits know people are driving over them. Beauty that took my breath away. Delicious vegetarian food. And more people on a single moped that you can imagine. I saw a family of five on one moped. Amazing. I read and walked. For 21 days, it was just me. I went to yoga and a documentary about bees. I spoke with strangers from all around the world.
I was disappointed about the volunteering. I was getting lonely in this place. I was wondering why I would travel so far from home to do things I could do at home. I had beaches. I had trash I could pick up. I knew students I could help. I also had a little boy that I was missing terribly. But something bigger was happening that I didn’t realize yet.
I got my first tattoo as soon as I was legally able. I have had many tattoos since then. All but one from different women artists. There was something about that. Each had a specific meaning to me and most were easy to cover up. That was important. Inside though, I had always wanted a sleeve of tattoos. But that is not what a (insert self-defining role here) would do. For me the roles that I would no longer be good at due to my ink were: mothering, teaching, success, business savvy and being well-educated. The voice calling the shots was very vocal about my goodness directly related to how people perceive me and people with tattoos are not perceived well (all in my own mind). I have met smart, happy people who are also great parents and have tattoos. But I’ve got my crazy. As the voice got louder, the more I thought about the sleeve. Then something in my growth at the time allowed a different train of thought and it asked why? Why would you not be a good person if you choose to adorn yourself with permanent body art? Why does what other people think of you matter so much? Why can’t you allow yourself to do what you want? Why would your mothering skills change if you had an arm of tattoos?
While in Bali, I read an article in a local magazine about the tradition of tattoos. This article stated a cultural belief “a man without tattoos is invisible to the gods” an Iban proverb, Sarawak, Malaysia. Knowing the depth of my own belief system, ultimately I want to know the gods and be known to the gods. This was a subconscious factor that drove me so far away from home. To know thyself. And in two sentences it all became very concious.
I am owning my crazy. I am owning my self-doubt and self-judgement with slight narcissistic tendencies.
I was going through a challenging spot in my life and I gave myself permission. I allowed myself to get a half sleeve. I had multiple consultations and the half sleeve was done in two parts and took HOURS. And it hurt. I sat or laid there for hundreds of minutes accepting my choice in this. I could still wear many things and no one would ever know it was there. I could pretend I didn’t have it.
I went to Bali with this half sleeve. It is pretty. Big red poppies because I woke up from a sleep, not for a drug reference but for a reminder. On this island in SEA, it was humid and no one knew me so I had no reason not to let my flag fly. A lot of people stared at me, tried to touch my arm, asked if I wanted more. I would keep walking. But I did want more, I wanted the whole arm.
We float in the world. Like a dandelion that just had a gust of wind scatter it around. If we don’t tether ourselves to someone or someplace, where will the gust take us? How far can you go when you just let yourself float? This idea used to scare me. I tried to gather up all the false securities and creature comforts I possibly could because I didn’t want to look at the impermanence of life head-on. Then I had no choice but to face it. And now I make that choice to face it. And my arm of tattoos reminds to take a hard look at all that I have and how quickly it can change. And I float like the seed caught in a breeze. I do my best to appreciate and share all the love that is out there for all of us.
My tattoos are just that, mine. They have meaning to me and when I try to hide them I am not being true to myself and my nature. People may love them or hate them or care less about them. Ultimately, we are all just floating on our own breeze. And we need to make our own choice of how we want to be.