Black Lives Matter - Adventure Year Week 51

posted on: June 6, 2020

This was a week of reckoning with the soul-crushing racism and authoritative brutality that continues to exist in society.  I won't even limit it to American society, because England was even more openly and vocally racist the last two times I visited.  The difference in England is that their racists and police officers are less likely to kill their citizens or immigrants because violence is not an acceptable part of their culture.  Whereas Americans continue to glorify violence through widespread military use, gun ownership, physically violent sports, and acceptance of police brutality.

 Even though Black Eyed Peas made this song 10 years ago, it's still as relevant as ever.

The desire to fight for justice... the exhaustion of having fought for so long... the need for peace... the inward draw to tune it all out... we can feel them all at once in the same way that we hold all these different flowers in the same bud vase. No one can tell you the right way to behave or respond to all these feelings- you have to rely on your own internal compass and hope it steers you home safely at the end of the day no matter what you decide. As for me... I have no steam to fight, so I try to find peace in nature. When I’m too sensitive to the aggressions of others, even when they are being used to help shift systemic change for a positive end, I still have to choose to disconnect from the energy of anger because it feels like a sunburn on my skin. None of us asked to be born into this skin or country we’re in, but here we are, still trying to deal and heal our DNA and traumatic patterns that began long before we came. My internal compass is always trying to steer me back to peace, to compassion, to calm waters, to looking for the helpers rather than fighting the aggressors. My mind works to figure out how I can create change from the inside by lifting people up, amplifying their voices, speaking up when someone else feels silenced, and finding ways to work the system with the privileges I have to get more people on the inside when they feel on the outside. I can’t fight anyone else’s fight for them, but I can say, I’m here. I see you. I feel it all too. When you need peace, I have a heart that continues to hold space for your healing, so you can recover from the fight.
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An eyewitness video of George Floyd losing his breath and his life to a police officer kneeling on his neck for 8min 46sec grabbed the world by the heart and refused to let go.  I still begin crying just thinking about the brutality and heartlessness of that moment, and how these images are often hidden, deleted, silenced, and swept under the rug where no other eyewitnesses are present and recording the disgusting behavior of an openly racist and violent person.  This came after also seeing an eye-witness account of Ahmaud Arbery being shot while running in a neighborhood and having done nothing wrong.  The senselessness of this violence that came with an attitude of white superiority and righteousness lifted the veil of our collective illusions and gave us a window into the hatred and heartlessness that continues to exist in society.  The world took to the streets in protest, and then our racist president tried to eliminate and silence those protests in DC with tear gas and rubber bullets for a publicity stunt.

As hard as I try, I find nothing to smile about in this moment. A president of the United States ordered the tear gassing of his own citizens while they were exercising their first amendment rights to peaceful assembly and protest in Washington DC. He did it for a photo opportunity in front of a church that he did not even pray in. He will deny all of this, despite the church itself bearing witness to his actions and condemning them. Dear Military and Police Officers- I know you live your life by the chain of command- but you can also quit your job on the spot before you deliver orders to potentially hurt the very people you have been called to protect. You have a mind, heart, and soul of your own, and a god you need to reckon with who is greater than your chain of command. Do the right thing.
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Those recorded moments crushed my soul and millions of other souls as well.  We all heard these things had been happening, but as white people, we are often insulated from seeing it first hand.  Things like this don't generally happen in our presence.  Micro-aggressions or racist comments might happen - but this kind of brutality was something many of us had been blind too until the moment it reached our personal friend-feeds playing the eyewitness videos.  These were so heartless and spirit-breaking that the world collectively decided we just couldn't take this anymore.  We couldn't keep allowing people like this to stay in positions of power, we needed to rally to make larger changes.

My form of rallying, without showing up for a protest, was to black out my social media images and then to share stories in my Instagram stories and on my Facebook wall from my darker skinned friends who were sharing tons of great perspectives and resources that resonated strongly in the moment with calls to actions and discussions on how white people can be better allies of support.

Most racism grows from the seed of ignorance, fed by distance. If you only understand people who aren’t like you through things like movies, television drama, celebrities, negative news reports, or racist comments made by others in your environment, than you lack the intimacy necessary to have a more compassionate understanding of what someone else is really going through in their daily life. How do you rectify this when you are physically so far removed from people who are not like you? You follow people online who are different from you, rather than people who only echo back your own established ways of living, thinking, and being in the world. We are fortunate to live in a time of abundance and access, in which total strangers completely unlike you are generous and open about sharing their life, their thoughts, their work, their struggles, their heart with the world. Following them is now as easy as following your favorite celebrity, your cousin, your neighbor, or your best friend. In my stories, I have been sharing some of the voices I have been tuning into more closely during this time so that I may have a better understanding of how I can do better, how I can be more supportive, and what people who have a different experience in this world from me need during this time. Because I have been listening, I know it’s important not to put the emotional labor of educating myself on the backs of anyone else. Because I have been listening, I know this trauma is hitting other people at a much deeper and more intimate level than I will ever experience in my whiteness. Because I have been listening, I have gained more ideas about how to use my privilege to benefit more people. Because I have been listening, I want you to start listening too. To my friends mentioned in my stories, or in tags, who are generous and sharing their lives and hearts openly, I thank you. If I have listed your name you wish to be removed for greater privacy- tell me and I’ll remove or edit the post. I raise all these voices for the beauty, love, heart, soul, and creative spark they add to this world. Please follow them, listen to them, and learn from them.
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I needed people to see my friends as I see them- full of heart, passion, and desire for recognition and justice in a time when they have so often felt silenced and dismissed.  I wanted to amplify their voices during a time when people were FINALLY ready to listen to a perspective outside of their own bubble.  I won't know if my efforts made a difference, but my hope is that it collectively connected many more people who had not previously been connected, and through that connection, we may begin understanding each other better and expanding the larger worldview and perspective on society as it resonates and reacts to all people, not just white privileged people. Even with all of the evidence that this violence is simply unacceptable, there were STILL people who focused on the property destruction caused by looters who were not there to protest, but there to take advantage of a movement in order to create more chaos and destruction that would fall on the backs of protestors.

This does not mean looting is OK- it means that the focus of our grief and our unrest should be on the human lives being harmed- rather than on things which can be insured, repaired, and easily replaced. You can’t easily replace someone’s father or someone’s daughter. You can’t easily remove the trauma or the health condition acquired from unchecked police brutality. That’s why the focus always needs to be on people before property. The White House is currently fortifying itself as if ready to engage in battle. Take a moment to consider the level of racism and hate required for this *American* to create such a barricade to protect himself against the people he swore to serve. He wants to physically separate himself from all of the hate and unrest that he has created in this nation. To the people who may want to protest in DC- don’t take the bait. Don’t line up against a fence where you may be harmed from a fortified distance. This is a set up. It’s a stage being set for a drama. Don’t give him the satisfaction of taking your time, your energy, or your precious breath and health. He feeds off angry energy, it’s like fuel for his ego. Let him rot in the sequestered cage of his own making. Let his words fall on deaf ears. Let his pen refuse to work. Let him experience the isolation and separation that he has inflicted on many families seeking asylum on our land. Let his own oppression take care of him, and don’t let any harm or malice fall on you by trying to right his wrongs for him. Focus on making your home good, your family strong, and your friends feel welcome at your table. Organize and engage in your community to change the culture at your local and state levels so that racists and selfish leaders will no longer hold positions of power in your community. Focus on the people, not the property. Protest if you must, but do it safely and with the goal of organizing and uniting to create lasting and systemic changes. (Thanks to @jsheel for sharing this graphic.)
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At the end of this week, I find myself like many of my fellow Americans, frustrated, sad, grieving, angry, and passionate about wanting to create change at all levels of society.  I have had no problem standing between a black man and a white racist, using my white female privilege to do so- and I have taken that action on a couple occasions- and witnessed the power of how it made a difference in the entire room, and helped rally more allies to shut down racism in communities.  Yet, there are also still times when I have failed to find the words in time to make a difference, or I have failed to show up as a support system when I didn't know what I could do to help.  All we can do is keep trying, keep learning, and keep aiming to be better people.  The dance of this week has been one of trying to be supportive without backing down, while also facing all of these tough and soul-crushing emotions.    Yet this is the work that black activists have been engaged in for CENTURIES.  Showing up in these moments takes strength and courage, and those muscles and instincts only really get a chance to be flexed when things get tough.  I am so grateful for my friends of color who help me understand what more I can do and how I can be supportive.

Max wants to know when all the problems will be over? The pandemic, the racism, the unemployment, the political fighting, the police brutality, the lockdowns, the protest curfews, the social distancing... the latent and pervasive rage laced with heavy and exhausting grief? Unfortunately, I don’t have much good news to deliver him, but I remind him that it’s important to deal with these problems. Dealing with them means learning from them. Maybe we can learn enough to create more lasting changes that make the future much better and more equitable than the past. Max: Can we just play ball all day? We could keep ourselves distracted in order to recover or take a break from it all, but if we ignore everything, we will also be more likely to repeat the same issues in the future- so it’s good to take some time to listen and understand what people are feeling upset about. Max: OK, but then can we play ball again? Sure, and maybe we’ll get some ice cream too. I agree that it’s important to find a sense of balance so that we aren’t constantly overwhelmed and stressed by it all. If we feel angry, we also need to find a way to regain our peace. If we feel sad, we also need to find ways to have moments of joy. Emotional and mental wellness are all just as important to learn about during this time too.
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As I sit here in Michigan, from my computer, quarantined for the 84th day - I have no desire to protest, but if I did, I would be rallying with Jon Batiste in Union Square NYC for a musical movement for peace.  Instead, I bought his latest album of Meditations, a collaboration with Cory Wong, to help support his call for peace and healing through music and have been playing it on repeat all morning long.

No Memorial Parade but Launching Into Space - Adventure Year Week 50

posted on: May 30, 2020

Every Memorial Day for the last few decades, Hartland, MI would recognize military who died in service and the coming of spring with a Memorial Day parade.  This year, with pandemic guidelines limiting public events and large gatherings, the street was empty with a solitary large flag suspended above.

Yesterday was the Memorial Day with no parade. No sidewalks crowded with people waiting in lawn chairs. No school marching bands or gymnastic teams lining up and practicing their pieces. No old fashioned convertibles decorated for the occasion. No horses or 4H club farm animals inside tractor trailers. Just a big flag hanging over the empty road from a fire truck. Flags attached to poles in time to honor the Memorial Day but not enough time to remove or change the winter themed signage left behind before offices were closed. A few people gathered locally outdoors at an unannounced cemetery memorial service, not really social distancing or wearing masks, but if they were willing to die for the country in military service before, I guess it’s not much any different now. It’s all just so surreal sometimes, and it’s easy to forget how surreal it is when I rarely leave the bubble of our little neighborhood and home where all the take out restaurants are all still open, and grocery stores are open with added conveniences, and some small businesses are still plugging away while waiting on delayed packages that aren’t getting delivered by the USPS mail trucks that can’t seem to keep up. At least we no longer worry much about finding toilet paper, and no one has complained recently about not finding cleaning products, and the mask-making is starting to level out and be more sustainable rather than a mad dash to make all the things for all the people. I feel an obligation to document these moments and to remember. To remember the big things as well as the little things. It’s just all so surreal, and it’s feeling more and more like life will forever be different in many ways.
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What moments of connection and happiness that we've been able to muster this week have come from regular video calls with friends and family members online.

One of the blessings for my mom during this time has been an almost daily check-in with her granddaughter and daughter-in-law. In this scene- Emily helps Violet try on a mask, grandma shows how excited she is to see it, and I just laugh at how quickly Violet is going to pull that fabric off her face. Even though we were supposed to be traveling together and enjoying all sorts of fun things in Shanghai right now, we are still together in Michigan, albeit with very different experiences brought on by pandemic. We grieve our travel plans, but delight in connecting more often with friends and family, even if it’s only over the phone or video chat. We grieve the tasty restaurant meals and environments that just aren’t the same when done take-out style, but we find delight in growing more herbs and creating more gardens. We grieve the hugs we haven’t been giving or receiving, but do our best to indulge in some self-care instead. We grieve for the people we’ve lost on this Memorial Day, while still trying to hold close all the people we so desperately want to see again once we all get to the other side of this experience. It’s always weird for me to say Happy Memorial Day... but I hope that what you remember on Memorial Day are all the people and moments that have made you happy, because those are what we really need to memorialize. ❤️
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My mom decided the weather was nice enough to warrant the need for a new grill and some BBQ time outside.

Ode to the lady behind the grill. The master of her own charred meats. When the weather started to turn nice, we learned that the older portable grill (now serving as a stand for the new grill) stopped working in a way that might cost as much to fix as it would be to buy new. The older grill was intended for tailgating and easy movement for transporting from the back porch to the garage for winter storage, but wasn’t really going to be practical for the future Campervan or RV life of adventures around the country that @marlowcc has in mind for her future. This woman loves well-done meats with deep char marks on them, and so far this little cuisinart camping grill has delivered in spades. We may have lost a few peppers along the way that were sliced too thin and slipped through the heartier grill plate holes, but we’ll remember to slice them larger the next time. Another fun and odd coincidence around cooking meat that happened recently was acquiring a meat thermometer by accident! The electric body thermometer died, and wasn’t designed to easily replace the battery, so we ordered a new thermometer online for a pick-up order. Somehow it ended up being a meat thermometer, AND we weren’t charged for it. Being very honest, CC called and let the store know she’s happy to keep the meat thermometer instead of the one she thought she was ordering, but the store may want to charge her for it. The store came back with apologies and just told her to keep it at no charge?! 🤯 So now she’s all set for making sure her meats are at the right temperature. I will confess that I did try it out as a body 🤒 thermometer too... and while it was very accurate... I could feel the electrical contact from the metal on my tongue and that was not as pleasant as a regular body thermometer covered in glass or plastic. 😆
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I've also discovered my mom has a hidden talent for making mini-bud-vase arrangements from wildflowers and cultivated flowers in her garden....

How are you handling the grief? It’s not easy, but some grief responses make it easier and some make it harder. Some people don’t even realize their overwhelm, anger, anxiety, or frustration are part of how they grieve lost travel plans, lost time with friends or family, lost distractions and outings, lost sense of security, and managing a wide variety of unknowns. Some days the grief hits me like waves of tears triggered by memories of things I loved, some days it hits me like total exhaustion and feeling defeated or unmotivated. When it comes on like anxiety, at least it gives me the energy to walk or exercise or do physical tasks and chores that require additional energy output. I had one day of anger and it was a great time to cut all the vegetables with sharp objects and pound some bread into dough. When it comes on like layers of depression or sadness, I become thoughtful, remind myself not to dwell too long in the places of difficulty, and find some small amount of remaining beauty to be inspired by like this little bud vase arranged with backyard flowers. What’s been working to help you manage the grief aspects in ways that are healthy and don’t take it out on others around you?
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My empathic / clairsentient sensitivities have gotten the best of me several times this week and led to me needing to take even more time to myself, isolating even from people I love just to deal with all the intensity of the feels I've been having of my own while trying not to be taken down by the feels of others around me or in connection to me.  Quarantine has been hard on all of us, but some of us are more adept at dealing with our anger or frustrations without taking it out on others.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I recognize my need to pull back and disconnect in order to avoid further overwhelm as well as further entanglement with difficult things other people are experiencing.  I always know I'll be fine once I clear the feelings out - but to clear them out rather than continuing to pass them on - I need all the alone time I can get.

As a physical empath and clairsentient- I feel the anger of others as a physical experience, even if it’s delivered by text. First is the jolt of electricity, like an electrical shock that ripples through my nervous system like lightening and thunder across a sky. Shortly following the initial shock is often a racing heart or raised blood pressure depending on the intensity of the anger being projected outward. Once my mind becomes aware that my body has absorbed this disruptive energetic interference, I start focusing on deep breathing to regain control over my heart rate and nervous system, to bring my energy back into my own control. This is what makes it hard for me to be around people who are careless with their anger and frustration. If people haven’t learned how to manage it without dumping it on others, than conversations with these “super-venters” are like walking into fields full of land mines and hidden explosive triggers. They may just want to vent or dump their anger, because it feels good to them, but that venting can leave me feeling energetically drained and in need of hours to recuperate. Right now the world is dumping a lot of its anger online, rather than turning toward compassion or self-healing grief. Angry people are just mindlessly passing invisible kettle bells of hurt from one person to another, and some days I just have to disconnect from it all in order to keep my own energetic system healthy. For some reason, whenever that wave of anger reaches my body, I also find the carnelian stone to be deeply calming when placed on the body. I discovered this soothing effect physically before I learned a bit more about how carnelians have historically been used as amulets for battle. Maybe one day science will be able to explain all of these things that are already so palpable to a highly sensitive empath.
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I continue to attempt to get that alone time outside in nature as much as possible, so that I'm staying connected to an energy source of peace and balance that is much larger than myself or anyone else around me.  This has been incredibly helpful at this time, and I'm so grateful that I'm quarantined in a place with a beautiful back yard, plenty of green trees, and a clear sky to soak in as often as possible.

Enjoying the sun and cool breeze to make the most of nature’s fleeting condition. This has probably been the hardest week for me at an energetic level. Maybe it’s the combination of everything on the outside and inside crashing together at once, but it’s been heavy, and demanded a lot of energy to keep moving forward in spite of the oncoming of obstacles. I’m a resilient human, but this week definitely challenged that resilience as I needed to change plans and cancel plans in order to better protect my energy to stay focused on what’s most important in each moment for my wellbeing. My heart resonates for everyone who’s struggling right now- there are so many reasons we can each be struggling at once. What I’m sure of more than anything, is that the goal is to get to the other side of a global pandemic alive and healthy. Everything else is just a temporary condition or problem to be sorted out- and they will all eventually be sorted out. However, we can only get the opportunities to craft a better future if we take care of ourselves and the people we most want to spend our future with. ❤️
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Somehow, in the midst of this crazy pandemic, we were also able to successfully launch a Spaceship into space.  Meanwhile, there are people still struggling to get unemployment checks and PPP loans to keep their businesses and employees afloat.  Such surreal and strange times we are living in.

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