Present Tense

2017: The Year of Complete Exhaustion

Let’s face it: 2017 has been a completely exhausting year. We’re all worn out, mostly from the weird energies and ‘new normals’ that have we’ve been faced with this year.

I would love nothing more than to go into the whole astrological significance and transits and energies and how this is affecting our lives, but I know better. Many of you find that silly and confusing…so onward. (But, it’s fascinating and amazingly accurate, so maybe I’ll write about it later for those who are interested)

I guess the main theme and watchword for the past 12 months or so was ‘disruption’. As I watched the news or read about current events, my own mantra was “Nothing Makes Sense”.

As the year went on, this became something I repeated over and over to whoever would listen (usually my poor husband who is the main receiver of my insights and wisdom:) After a while, I started saying it with an exasperated chuckle.  Eventually, things got so crazy, you HAD to laugh.

We kept trying to fit this square peg of a year into the nice, round hole of comfort, security and ‘the way things have always been’. Try to do that physically and you’ll soon be banging that peg with a sledge hammer, creating an even bigger mess and problem.

This was the year that all of the buried shit in our culture began to rise up, like a plugged up toilet. The normal and expected result after we poop or pee is that we push the handle and it flushes it all away; out of sight, out of mind.

2017 was the year that we pushed the handle like we always do and suddenly the toilet tank begins to fill up.  No flushing! Holy shit! And I mean that literally.  Here it comes…overflowing…overwhelming…what do we do?

This was the year that we had to begin to see that our collective toilet is plugged. That we’ve pushed things down, underground, out of sight, out of mind for literally centuries.

Racism, sexism, misogyny, abuse, male domination, bigotry, religious zealotry, white supremacy/nationalism, violence, corruption, corruption, corruption, homophobia, ignorance, inequality of kinds; shall I go on?

You get the picture. All of these horrors have existed, but we buried them nicely, so that many of us who are not directly affected (and as we’ve seen over the past year, with #MeToo, etc. that nearly ALL of us HAVE been affected, we just felt powerless to speak) have been able to just whistle past the graveyard.

So, as we all stand here at the end of 2017, with the sewage puddling around our feet, now what? Do we get a shop vac and suck it all up? Do we get out our mops and sanitizer and make the bathroom sparkle again?

OR do we unplug the goddamned toilet?

Let’s stop shoving things into it, hoping to flush it all away. Let’s begin to allow unpleasant things to be seen, rather than buried or flushed.

This is the legacy of the past year AND of the Trump presidency. It was to disrupt and to force us to see who we are. He is our mirror. Ugh, right?:) But, that’s the hard part, isn’t it. Seeing our warts and prejudices and ignorance. Tough stuff.

Do I think he had this all planned out? Oh, for God’s sake, NO! But I see so clearly that this had to happen. We had to be shaken up. Do I like it? Not really, but I have gotten to the point where I understand it and see that it’s a necessary evil.

We can’t keep flushing away our problems…the septic tank is FULL.

So, relax this weekend. Reflect and try to see past all of our fears and discomfort and disruption of the past year. I know it’s been exhausting, but growth and insight and resolve take a lot of energy.

2017…you kicked our butts, but I think you lit a fire and for that we will look back in gratitude.

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Era of Stupid

I’ve begun to refer to this time in history as ‘the era of stupid’. To me, there is no other explanation for what is happening in our culture.

Watch enough cable news or read enough online postings and it becomes abundantly clear that the ‘enemies’ are smart, competent people.

We call them ‘elites’. Which to me, are people with decent educations, bright minds and a level of competency in their field.

But, in our current climate, that is considered suspect and even dangerous and a reason to toss them out of these positions.

God forbid that we have people in sensitive and importantant positions, who actually KNOW what they’re doing. Or have the ability to learn and innovate because they can ACTUALLY THINK and use big words. Oh, the horror.

We live in an era and a culture where people drive around with bumper stickers that say “My kid can beat up your Honor Student.”

The era of stupid.

When did we get to the point where education and brains became a liability? When did we get to the point where deep thinking and rational and interesting discussions became “Whoooooaaaa, egghead…that’s way too deep for me…here, have another beer and a jalapeño popper and chill…”

We are proudly ignorant! I hear it and read it all of the time.

And I guess we get what we want when it comes to leadership.

There is segment of us (that seems to be growing, sadly) who think that all we need is ‘hard work and common sense’, rather than those “Ivy League educated elites (code for egghead or anyone with a college degree…a derogatory term)” leading us.

Well, I’ve got news for you: 2017 was the year to realize that the ‘proudly ignorant’ (some of them with Ivy League educations) in positions of power, don’t always know best.

We’ve seen that “common sense” is relative and may not help solve a nuclear crisis that has been years in the making and that pronouncing that you can fix everything, without any previous experience, is probably merely a boast.

Walk into any bar and you’ll hear somebody sitting on a stool, carrying on about how he/she can solve the world’s problems or run the country or tell “Rocket Man” what’s what.

Most of us have the inner sense to know what we don’t know. I sure do. I have no idea how to solve most of our problems. Honestly, it’s waaaaay to complex for me and I know that I don’t have the background or experience to even unravel how we got here.

I do, however understand how we got here. How we fell into the ‘age of stupid’.

We had leaders in both government and media who appealed to our fears, our insecurities, our survival instincts.

They knew that there always has to be an enemy and they have played us like a fiddle. Most of us think that we’re not good enough, smart enough, fit enough, pretty enough, strong enough, wealthy enough….shall I go on?
That makes us easy to manipulate.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that you must have a college degree to be smart and competent. That’s not my point. My point is that there are people who just KNOW more than we do.

Journalists for one. For the most part, they DO have more information than I ever will. They swim in their jobs and are surrounded by the people that they report on. They ask questions, they hear things, they run down leads, they have sources. They KNOW STUFF.

Same for someone who has spent many years in any job, whether that’s government services or fixing air conditioners or trying cases in court. There is a level of expertise and competency that should be respected.

“Draining the swamp” has enormous unintended consequences that smart and competent people have been warning about.
I honestly am at the point where I don’t really care about Rs and Ds, Red or Blue; both sides are prone to corruption and manipulation. But, for the LOVE OF GOD, can we dig ourselves out of celebrating stupid?

Stop being so proudly ignorant. Stop making fun of the ‘brainiacs’ and deep thinkers. If something seems too “deep” or confusing or complex, take a minute to listen and think and even do a little research. Ask questions and attempt to grasp the concept. Learn something.

We have the entirety of the world’s knowledge in the palm of our hands on our phones, and yet, we revel in NOT KNOWING or even caring!!

So, it’s almost a new year. How about we try to make this new era, the “era of enlightenment”. You don’t need an Ivy League degree…It’s a little to late for many of us. But, let’s at least allow that smart is good.

Smart will save us.

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Anniversary….

One year ago today, I embarked on a journey that affected me so profoundly that I haven’t even processed it fully.

I packed a bag and left my house to drive 4 hours south to sit at my 96 year-old mother’s bedside as she died.

I wrote quite extensively about the process and the journey of being with my mom as she wound down toward death. I had been preparing for this for some time.

As I sat with her and listened to her breathing, I realized that I had been preparing for my entire life.

I was her last born, the last child that she shared her heartbeats and her breath with.  I was the one to be there and hold her hand as she left this incarnation.  The circle was closed.

My mom and I had a very close relationship when I was a child. All of my older siblings were out of the house by the time I was 5 or 6. My dad worked long hours. So, just mom and me.

As I grew up, our relationship, like many mothers and daughters was complicated and at times, difficult. I distanced myself from family; physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Whether it’s accurate or not, I felt abandoned by them. It was during my mom’s final years that I realized that the death of her father when she was 12, left her feeling exactly the same way.

He chose alcohol over his young family and he died right int the middle of the Great Depression, leaving my grandmother to raise and provide for 3 children.

My mother NEVER spoke of this until the last couple of years of her life, when her dementia lifted some of her inhibitions and she spoke much more freely about her childhood and the challenges of losing her dad.  And the challenges of losing my dad a few years earlier.

So, I was with her in those final few years and months, as was my brother who lived close by. My older sisters , who visited as often as they could, were with their families, kids and grandkids, last Christmas. As they should have been. My sense is that they were where they were supposed to be, just as I was.

As she lay sedated and dying, I felt so strongly that her ancestors were in the room with us. Comforting her, gladly leading her into spirit. My dad, my grandma, her beloved sister, grandparents and who knows who else. All of them were there.

I was told during meditation to stay out of the way; that she was in good hands and I was there to witness not a death, but the birth of a spirit.

This was all very profound and comforting at the time and has greatly altered my view of death, both my own and others.

However, over the past year, I’ve realized that I was ready for her death, but not for her absence in my life. Even though the last few years with her were challenging and scary and exhausting, I miss her.

I miss how happy she was when I walked through the door. I miss her loopy conversations and questions as her memory slipped further into the ether. I miss helping her and caring for her and yes, waiting on her:)

I felt weird and sad when my parents’ estate was settled; they left a nice little nest egg for us, which was great, but the trade off was being parentless.

2017 has been a wrestling match with my grief. Over losing my mom and the earlier shocking death of my dog, Ember. 2016 was a blur of activity, much of it difficult, but with a few magic moments sprinkled in.

2017 was the year to allow that previous year to settle over me and I admit that I haven’t handled it as well as I would have liked. I fell into some of my default escape and coping strategies a few times.  But, I feel much stronger now.  Shit happens, you know?

As all of you know, grief hits so suddenly and randomly. And it’s hit me pretty much daily this past year. Could I have done more?  Could I have handled things differently?  Could I have saved Ember?  The answer to all is: no.  Life unfolds as it does and as it must.  Regrets and second guessing only cause more pain.  Time to accept.

On December 28th, I’ll mark a year since her last breath. I’m not upset about losing her around the holidays. So many choose to leave in December, in the darkness and holiness of winter. Seems like a perfect time, doesn’t it?

Anyway…I’ve always loved Christmas Eve for it’s solemnity and quiet before the storm of frantic activity that often marks Christmas Day.

I will sit and watch or listen to Christmas Eve services at the Vatican, as I did with my sleeping mother last year and as I have done for many years. The consistency and beauty of that service nourishes me.

For those of you also remembering and grieving, I send much love and comfort. I get it. It is bittersweet as we carry on with our lives and legacy, knowing that we too, have limited time here.

Merry Christmas. The light is returning.

December 24, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

A Tipping Point…

We are swimming in the soup of enormous cultural changes and I worry that we will now slide into a gender war.

Every woman in the US has known that this has been going on forever. We have all known that we are considered ‘less’ than men.

We all know that there is a cultural knee-jerk reaction to believe the man when a woman makes an allegation of sexual abuse, molestation, harassment or touching.

We are told “well, that’s just him” or “maybe, you misunderstood” or “he was just joking around…where’s your sense of humor?”.

This has been our ‘normal’ for as long as I can remember and for as long as my mother can remember…and my grandmother and so on and so on.

Did you know that in many cases, women couldn’t apply for credit without a male co-signer until the 70s? So no credit cards, no mortgage. We couldn’t vote nationally until 1920, the year my mother was born.

So, as we traverse this new territory where suddenly, we are seemingly in the middle of some cultural epiphany; where we are learning that men seem to think we are property or playthings. We are in grave danger of further division.

Obviously, all men are not abusers. Obviously, all men do not look at women as potential conquests, and yet, I find myself wondering what exactly DO men think of us?

I spent my career surrounded by and outnumbered by men. That was just the nature of broadcasting and media for most of my career that I entered in the early 80s.

It has changed some and I suspect that MOST women have worked with more men than women and the things we’ve heard come out of their mouths were often shocking and at times, painful.

Things like, “She’d be so much better looking if she grew her hair” as a woman left the room. Or, “No wonder, she’s not married” or “I’d hit that”.

Yup….over and over and over and over, day after day after day. Guy after guy after guy.

So, for the men: when we hear things like this come out of your mouth, is it any wonder why we feel angry and unworthy and yes, frightened?  Or when you sit by and let another man say these things without calling him out?

Is this how we are judged, even though we are competent professionals?

It’s all about who is fuckable, right?

So, yes. The pain, the humiliation, the fear and the overwhelming feeling that nothing that we do matters, because, well….’you’re a girl’ is suffocating.

Now, some brave women are coming forward and saying “Enough”. We are asking to be treated with little more respect. We don’t have to be adored or worshipped or put on a pedestal.

In fact, I have found that men who tend to claim their adoration and worship of women, are often the worst offenders in treating us like trophies or playgrounds.

The danger right now is that this will pit men against women (again). As women, we have to be careful not to paint with too broad a brush. To not demand too harsh of a punishment for men who just acted like a jerk. There is a difference between criminal and abusive behavior and being an asshole.

That is a very thin line, I know. But, in order for this to really begin to change, we have to muster what we women are best at: compassion and balance and love and nurture.

This is our wheelhouse. Let’s not allow ourselves to tip over into the default reaction of male energy: punishment and anger and domination.

This is but another test of our times. Jupiter is in Scorpio and that is a time to dig up the secrets. These things have been happening forever. All of the horror that we are seeing on the news every night isn’t new.

It’s just been buried and now, we are unearthing these dark secrets and behaviors. It is very hard to look at, but we HAVE to SEE it and acknowledge it. All of us. This is the time we have chosen to incarnate and it is both exciting and overwhelming.

It’s okay to be angry. I certainly am. And frustrated. And overwhelmed. This is hard, but we have to guard against becoming hardened.

Practice compassion and empathy and intellectual honesty. This is non-partisan. It is a human problem and if we divide into our tribes, we perpetuate this behavior.

How we reacted in the past (Bill Clinton, etc) is not relevant now.

The cosmos is asking us to grow up. It’s time.

November 22, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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