Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stop the silence, stop the violence

Domestic violence – a phrase that has come to the forefront of the news recently because yet another man beat a woman senseless. In this case, it was a professional football play (Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens) beating his fiancĂ© Janay Palmer on February 15, 2014. In March, hotel surveillance video emerged showing him dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator. (, 9/10/2014 2:27 PM) Mr. Rice and Ms. Palmer then appeared together at a press conference put on by the Ravens. Less than a week later they married.

“Initially, Rice and Palmer both were charged with simple assault. The Atlantic County prosecutor's office later dropped the charge against her. In March, Rice was indicted by a grant jury on the more serious charge of third-degree assault [First and Second-degree assault charges are worse]. The charge carried a potential sentence of three to five years in prison… In May, Rice entered a program for first-time offenders that would clear his record of the criminal charge if he met certain conditions, including participation in counseling.” (; 9/10/2014 2:30:35 PM)

During a May news conference put on by the Ravens, both of them addressed the media. She apologized for her role in the incident, while Rice apologized to his bosses. He never once said he was sorry to Ms. Palmer. (; 9/10/2014 2:18 PM). In July Mr. Rice received a 2-game suspension. August saw the NFL introducing new penalties for domestic violence. Then the video of Ms. Palmer’s beating emerged on social media in September, and Mr. Rice was released from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the National Football League.

One of the reasons I am so angry about this situation is that a man who knocked a woman out was originally given a slap-on-the-wrist penalty. It was only when the video of the actual beating surfaced and public outcry was heard that he received a stiffer penalty from his employer. I don’t know why Ms. Palmer, now Mrs. Rice, didn’t press charges against Mr. Rice, or indeed, why she then married her abuser. Her reasons are her own. I find it hard to understand why Mr. Rice’s assault on Ms. Palmer was only a misdemeanor offence.

In the two weeks since the NFL imposed the new standardized penalties for domestic violence on August 28, two more pro football players have been arrested on domestic violence charges. Why do we not have more of a public outcry against this abuse? If we say, “Oh, he made a mistake,” when a man beats up a woman, we are condoning his behavior. Beating someone up is not a mistake.

If we say a woman deserved to be dosed with a date-rape drug because she went to a club, we are agreeing that it OK to rape women. Rape is not a mistake.

If we say women should wear sneakers instead of heels, dress conservatively instead of revealingly, walk in groups instead of alone, then we are saying it is a woman’s own fault if she is followed, stalked, assaulted or killed.

This is wrong-thinking and we as a society MUST change it. We don’t make men wear baggy clothing, walk in groups or wear sneakers when they go out at night. Why then do we ask it of women? Because as a society we believe it is OK to abuse women. Think this through carefully. This is why rape and abuse are under-reported. Because it almost always is made to be the woman’s fault. Because we EXPECT men to abuse women. Until we no longer expect men to hurt women, it will continue.

Speak out women! Speak out male-allies! Stop the silence, STOP THE VIOLENCE.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lenten project for non-Christians?

I don’t usually observe Lent too much. I’m not Christian in the way most people think of one and I think of how some folks “give up Chocolate” or some such thing as a trivializing of a potentially spiritually important season.

But this month I have been struggling with the success of a co-worker. This person has many fewer years in the industry than I do; brags about lack of know-how; poor grammar, inability to proof-read and has major holes in professional knowledge. Yet, he (yes, a relatively young man) has been promoted.

I have worked in this industry for 30 years, starting with typing basic forms in quadruplet. I have a B.S. in Business Management and an advanced degree. I have worked on the client and the consulting side of the business. I do pro bono consulting in the industry for nonprofits. I handle a book of business with almost no oversight from our manager.

I’ve been with my employer for 15 years; he has been here less than 5. I recommended him for “Early Career Advancement “ training program. And now this young man has a corner office and I’m still in a cubicle with no hope of a promotion. He’s now probably going to be earning 25% more in salary than I.

The green monster of envy has taken a huge bite out of my goodwill this month. So for Lent this year, I’m re-starting my 90-day challenge and giving up envy.

What you ask is a “90-day challenge?” For 90 consecutive days, I may not criticize this person. In any way. No constructive criticism, no gossip, no digs, no disses. 90 (nine-zero, count them) consecutive days. What if I slip up? Start over at day one. (It once took me over a year to complete a 90-day challenge on a particularly challenging person.)

Will this make me a better person? Probably not. Will it change my co-worker’s life? Nope. Will it change my life? Yes!

By the time I go a full calendar-quarter saying only positive things (or keeping my mouth shut) about my co-worker, I know that I will have greater compassion for him. My blood pressure will not go up when I think of him and his success. I will be able to truly smile and be happy for his promotion. I will probably even like my job more and do it better as my attitude improves.

So my Lenten season will be a little longer than 40 days. I think Jesus would approve of my non-traditional plan for this year. My challenge to you is to make your own 90-day challenge on the person you most complain about. See how your life can change, starting with just one step, one day at a time.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I didn't die

Two weeks ago today I thought I was having a heart attack. Nausea, shooting pain and tingling in left arm, panting instead of breathing, blood pressure in the 170s, feelings of anxiety (no kidding!). I called one of my dear sisters who took me to the ER and stayed with me for hours. I sent her home after they decided to admit me for the night.

Now, my mother had a history of uncontrollable high blood pressure. My maternal grandfather died of complications from strokes and my maternal grandmother carried nitroglycerine tablets for as long as my mother could remember. I began taking blood pressure pills a couple of years ago and those seem to have worked. Until that Monday.

After about 24 hours in the hospital, including two chest x-rays, a radioactive CT scan of my heart, a dose of nitroglycerine, another vasodilator, baby aspirin, various other pokes, prods and pills, I was declared heart-healthy (Thank All-That-Is for healthy insurance!). The last cardiologist told me, “If you aren’t exercising, do. If you are exercising, keep doing it.” Whew. I didn’t die.

The doctors have not shared with me their thoughts about what may have caused this scary episode. I’ve tried to figure it out and have come up with the following potential reasons:
a. Aliens invaded my body and my body tried to reject them.
b. My son told me he got an A on his mid-term college exam and essay.
c. I had over 21 days of vacation saved up.

While (a) is a possibility, no one reported any UFOs over Southern California that day. (B) would not have caused my blood pressure to rise significantly. I know my son is brilliant and capable of expressing himself very clearly, and besides, I told him I expected As and Bs on his report cards and would expect to see them each semester.

Therefore I have come to the conclusion that (c) is the culprit. My day job as an insurance broker is extremely seasonal, with May through July being horribly busy and demanding. In addition to being seasonal, it is cyclical, and we are experiencing what is called a “hardening market,” which briefly, means my job is harder to do and I work longer hours.

What does this really mean? I need to be more intentional about relaxing and taking care of myself. I have been taking steps to improve my financial health, physical and mental health and spiritual health and I need to continue and probably do even more in those directions.

So what is my action plan?
1st My son and I are working on cleaning up our home. A neat home is more relaxing than a messy one.
2nd I will find a company to clean out the home I own jointly with my ex. That is the first big step in improving my financial situation.
3rd I will continue to walk and monitor my diet with the intention of losing an additional 10 pounds.
4th I will devote an hour a day to meditation in one form or another. It may be while I walk, it may be knitting, playing piano, painting or Zen sitting. The form may vary, but the intent will be to close down the monkey-mind for an hour each day.

These are small steps. But I will do them as though my life depends on it. Because it probably does.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Hey Mom, hope you and Grandma are having a smashing good time together. You both died too young and are missed greatly here. Just wanted to give you an update on the family.

Your grandson is maturing into a lovely, thoughtful, caring and compassionate young man. Yes, he’s a slob (gosh, wonder where he got that gene?), but he knows how to clean the kitchen and living room. I usually ignore his bedroom and he ignores mine – it works for us. He’s got his own rock and roll band and plays drums and saxophone and sings in an acoustic punk-folk band. When he isn’t playing or practicing (or playing video games with the guys) he’s studying pre-law at the local community college. He likes his studies and seems to be doing well.

He reaches out to his cousins on a semi-regular basis, and tries to maintain ties to his dad’s side of the family, and to his uncle Paco. He had a long-term relationship with a very nice girl, but that ended a few months ago. After some quiet days and nights, he seems to have recovered. Just as he recovered from that horrible skateboarding accident last December (he wouldn’t be my son without the ER visits, would he?).

I’m still selling insurance and trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up—Ministry is still the top runner if I can retire in the next couple of years from the financial industry. I’ve been participating in a dream group, knitting up a storm and working at the So Cal Renaissance Faire. Oh yeah, and riding my motorcycle in the local mountains. Last year I went on vacation with Jean and with Jeanette.

Your teachings have kept me on a good path:
1. Walk quickly and wear loud clothing. I may have to start sewing again to feed my need for unique clothing, but that’s OK – I’m almost ready to bring your machines and fabric out of the closets (and from under the bed and out of the hall library, etc.).
2. Be nice to the underlings as they can make your life heaven or hell. Yep.
3. Work hard, play harder. I forgot that for a while, but seem to be making up for it these days.
4. Save for a rainy day. You never know when the next ER visit looms, either for your kid or your car or your cat.
5. Don’t hit your brother or your kid or your cat. Ever. I refined this to “Don’t touch another in anger.” Ever.
6. If you’ve been crying every day for a while, go see a doctor. Still working on this one, but getting better.
7. Listen to the advice you give others and apply it to your own situation. Ouch.
8. Hug first. Hard words are easier to say when snuggling.
9. Leave the office at work at the end of the day.
10. Sing lustily.
11. Encourage creativity.

I’m sure there are more, but these are what come to mind as I think of this Mothers’ Day. I hope your grandson remembers to gift me somehow. I reminded him last week that the day was coming. I miss you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Adventurous Projects

So. I’ve joined an on-line dating service. Trying to describe myself honestly, yet positively enough to interest someone worth knowing is a slippery thing. I’ve tinkered with the description, changing a word here, a phrase there. Added in income level, changed photos, added more about who I would like to meet.

Humbling experience, this on-line dating. In a month of actively “winking” and sending emails, I’ve had one date. I’ve had at least three scammers tell me they are in love with me within 2 emails. They are flattering, but rather scary too. How does one try to remain pleasantly naive without getting hoodwinked? I check photos out on Google Images. I Google their names. (That’s how I found out about the scammers). Did you know there is a whole website dedicated to ferreting out military-related romantic scammers? Boy, were my eyes opened!

Having been rather in hibernation mode for the last several years, it seems the dating scene has changed dramatically since I last was “on the market” (over 30 years ago). I’ve been trying different venues and activities for the past year or so but haven’t been meeting eligible people. Hence the on-line dating.

I think I’m having more luck with my devilishly difficult Damask Shawl project. But I’m not giving up on either project yet. Stay tuned for an occasional update.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Forgive us our trash baskets

A friend sent this to me today in an email with other cute stories of kids and religion: “One particular four-year-old prayed, “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”

This one struck me as a wonderful example of how children may interpret something into their own experience and enlighten us poor adults with their truth.

We’ve probably all heard the phrase about our past being baggage that we carry around unnecessarily. I like the imagery of a debt or trespass being trash. One person’s treasure is another’s trash: therefore, something I allow to upset me becomes trash in my basket. Something I dump on another person un-righteously is still my trash and rightfully belongs in my trash basket.

This works ecologically too. I saw a picture today of a landfill where erosion from a massive rainstorm uncovered trash that was probably buried in the 1960 – over 50 years ago. Plastic bags and a tire were still very clearly NOT much degraded by half a century of being underground. Mother Earth, please, please forgive me my trash basket.

And the theme of forgiveness: I think a lot of our unprocessed emotional baggage may be from not having forgiven previous injuries. So if we can do the hard work of forgiveness, we can empty our own trash baskets and quit putting trash in others’ bins. No recycling of old hurts needed or wanted. Just clean up.

Ah, if it were just this easy. Forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets. Out of the mouth of babes…straight into g-d’s ear, please and thank you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The names have been changed...

Once upon a time there was a child named Kelly. Kelly really liked doing all kinds of things, whether drawing flowers and birds and oceans or fixing wooden boxes and frames, mowing the lawn or chasing butterflies and even pulling weeds.

Kelly studied music: clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, oboe, guitar, tenor saxophone; classical and jazz (and a little rock & roll). Kelly ran track, low hurdles, high jump, swimming and gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, bicycling, skateboarding and riding motorcycles.

In school, Kelly excelled in math, music, chemistry, languages and literature.

As a teen ager, Kelly thought Donna Summers was the sexiest person alive and Peter Tork and Mike Nesmyth were the nicest rock & rollers around. OK, so Kelly was a bit warped – Kelly admired talent more than looks (although Donna Summers certainly had and still has both) and didn’t suffer fools gladly.

Kelly’s parents taught the neighborhood kids, including Kelly, how to cook and how to make a mitre box and the best ways to climb trees and also how to fall without cracking a bone. It was a pretty good, all-around childhood.

As Kelly grew up, similar activities filled Kelly’s time and life. Kelly had a series of long-term, loving relationships and even helped raise a child or three. At one point, Kelly was living alone and decided to get back to motorcycling. After taking a class to remember how to ride (and finding out how much motorcycles had changed in the past 40 years), Kelly bought a beautiful, big, powerful motorcycle and began riding at every possible chance. Because it was easier, Kelly had short hair, but liking being a bit different (and maybe being a bit of a hippie, had a long ponytail in the back.

Returning from a nice, long ride one day, one of the other riders told Kelly, “You ride pretty well.” Kelly was pleased to hear the complement, but wondered if Kris told all the other riders similar things. The next time Kelly and Kris were on a ride together, Kris told Kelly, “Riding with you is just like riding with the guys.”

Now Kelly was confused. What did gender have to do with motorcycle riding? But being raised to be polite, Kelly simply said, “Thank you,” and wondered. Kelly rode competently, shared costs fairly and listened and took part in conversations just like everyone else seemed to do.

Kelly was looking forward to being a minister after retiring from selling insurance, and was trying to figure out how to fit motorcycling and golf and surfing into a minister’s schedule. Kelly wondered if the same type of gender-biased comments would be made on the golf course or in the church? Being less than 6-foot tall didn’t mean Kelly was a woman, just as being good at math didn't mean Kelly was a man.

Kelly decided to ignore the weird genderized comment and continued riding every day and living the best life possible, as just Kelly, "the art-loving, musical, motorcycling ministerial duffer."