Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Dona Nobis Pacem - "Peace in the Time of Quarantine"


click here to learn more about this project, and its founder, Mimi Lenox

"Peace in the Time of Quarantine" is the theme of this year's Blog Blast for Peace.  I've participated on and off for several years, and this year...well, this year I hardly know what to say about the subject.  As usual, I'm (fashionably?) late to the party, and as I sit in the gathering dark of my apartment on November 4th, waiting for the United States to oust our moronic, racist, rapist, tax-evading, mentally unbalanced, trustafarian crook of a side-show 'president' from our midst in what should be a landslide victory for another questionable and creepy politician with a running mate who gets the side-eye for her past involvement in destroying innocent people's lives with undeserved prison sentences, I find myself exhausted, disillusioned, and angry.  How did we get here?  How did we come to find ourselves with so many struggling, unemployed, hanging by a financial thread about to fall into ruin, with hundreds of thousands of us dead and dying from a virus that we had every tool necessary to avoid?  Families separated at the border, children in cages, women in ICE 'detention centers' being sterilized against their will, Black women and men murdered in cold blood, missing and murdered Indigenous women, Indigenous water protectors shot over pipelines crossing their sovereign lands, Flint Michigan still without clean water, trans people regularly beaten to death, sex workers forced out of their trade by vengeful politicians regularly caught with their pants down in the company of their rent-boys...the list goes on, and the rich continue to turn a massive profit at our expense.

So how did we get here?  Incompetence.  Corruption.  Patriarchal capitalistic values.  Individual/institutional/structural racism.  Cronyism & nepotism.  A lack of decent education giving us the tools to do the work of learning truth ourselves.  For way too long, the white establishment has lived in comfort and complacency within a system built for them and them alone, and I had hoped that their time of reckoning was at hand.  I'm all for tearing it down to the ground and rebuilding a better world under the guidance and supervision of traditionally marginalized communities.  While I had really hoped to be voting for Bernie Sanders in this election, I'm also well aware that a country that failed to elect a woman for president will never elect a Jewish man either, however innocuous his Jewishness actually is to the Christian majority.  So we've got Uncle Joe McFeely-Hands, and Cop-ella DeVille instead.  Great.  Wonderful.  I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of peace...not.  It's enough to make me want to follow through on my constant threats to exercise my privilege to live in another country (which comes with a host of it's own issues, of course).

As for the quarantine, I'm another one of those middle-aged Gen Xers who's more than happy to stay home avoiding people for the most part, though I do miss seeing live music performed in a space where I can dance with others who also love to get their groove on to good tunes.  Oh, and I'm completely broke for lack of work - that part sucks balls.  Other than that, quarantine has been, in a sense, good for me.  Knowing I would go off-the-wall bonkers if I didn't get outside for fresh air and exercise regularly when my state went into lockdown over the coronavirus, I started walking outside three times a week.  Nothing major, just up the hill of my street and back down, maybe a half mile all told.  It was more effort than I thought it would be at first, but as the weeks progressed, it got easier, and I added jumping jacks at the top of the hill, which I increased over time.  At some point, I started jogging to the bottom of the hill, which eventually led to my downloading the 'couch to 5k' app to my phone, and working my way up to jogging for 30 minutes straight, eventually to a distance of 5k (3.1 miles, which takes me about an hour...yeah, I'm slow, mostly because I was more than 100 pounds overweight when I started this journey).  

So what does me getting my jog on have to do with peace and quarantine?  well, like many Americans who have long been concerned at the way our country's politics have been moving closer towards fascism, I stayed up late last night watching the results of our election come in, and when I finally called it a night out of exhaustion, I didn't sleep well.  Still, I was up near dawn, as is my habit, got into my running gear, and...sat down at my computer to check what had transpired with the vote-counting overnight.  The results were not as encouraging as I had hoped, and with a growing sense of doom I couldn't quite explain - given my firm belief that Uncle Joe was still going to win - I went to the trail to get my run on.  If it was due to the previously mentioned lack of quality sleep, the fact that my leggings are getting too big (I'm down 32 pounds) and kept falling down, my app not tracking my mileage properly, doing yesterday's workout too late in the day and not leaving myself enough time to recover, not nourishing myself well enough, 'monkey-mind', or not being able to get out of my head, I had a crap run today.  I only ran for about a half mile, then walked another mile to a bench where I sat in the sun and took some time to enjoy the peace and quiet.  When it felt like time to stroll back down the trail to my car, I stopped to watch the birds and squirrels, and thought about how I no longer take the time to go camping, or even just be in the woods with no agenda other than to commune with nature.  I also found myself composing social media updates in my head, and how thinking about what I was going to post when I got home ran counter to why I started this journey in the first place, and had me considering that I might be losing sight of my WHY.  

My WHY was originally to learn to celebrate myself in healthier ways than by overindulging in food & drink.  My WHY was to get fresh air and exercise on a regular basis.  My WHY slowly became a way to clear my head, have some 'me time', listen to music, and have fun while working to boost my metabolism, lower my blood sugar, and regain some of the strength and stamina I lost from spending too much time sitting on the couch.  Sadly, it seems I've become overly dependent on the positive reactions and supportive comments of my running community on social media.  And though they are inherently uplifting and helpful, the fact that I'm thinking about them on my run rather than focusing on where and how to place my feet, or paying attention to my breathing, my pace, or simply enjoying the fact that my body is strong and healthy enough to carry me down the trail for a certain amount of time and distance  - or the privilege of having the time and safe spaces to enjoy running - speaks loudly to the kind of chaotic disconnect I feel in our collective if we've been encouraged to lose our way.  On the other hand, there has also been a collective uprising against that disconnect, and while that movement gives me hope, it still hasn't brought the level of change I think we need in order to move forward with purpose again.  

The fact that 24 hours after many of the polls have closed we still don't have that landslide victory I had hoped for tells us that at least half of this country is still willing to throw the other half of this country under the bus to ensure their continued complacent comfort at the expense of others, and that's a huge problem.  Our work is nowhere near done.  And that's exhausting.  So incredibly bone-tiring, it affected my ability to jog happily up the pretty wooded trail in my quaint little community where I don't have to worry about being out alone for a run.  Can you imagine how it must feel to those on the front lines?  To the folks who do the work because their lives depend on it in a way I can only partially feel, and most others don't even deign to feel, or dare to push back against?  How tired do you think those folks are?  How much jogging on maintained wooded trails for health and wellness do you think they get to enjoy?  No matter how much it makes us want to lie down and give up, we simply can't fail in continuing to support those who really do need us to hold them up and offer our protection so they can rest, and continue to take the lead.  We need everyone to be all in for everyone else, no excuses.  It's the only way we build a world worth living in for future generations, and really...if we're not here for that, what the hell are we here for?

peace ~


previous Blog Blasts for Peace:

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2019

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Terrapin Portal

about a month ago, I was driving down one of our main local routes into the nearest small city when I noticed something on the side of the road that looked like a turtle on its back. even though I was traveling at 45mph, and on my way to an appointment, I had an overwhelming desire to stop and turn around, to help the poor thing.  ever since I was little I've had this deep sense of sadness come over me whenever I pass a dead or dying critter on the road, and as I live in what's considered to be a rural area of NY, I see a lot of critters on or near the streets I drive on, and I take pains to avoid hitting them with my car. over the past few weeks alone I've seen/avoided porcupines, baby and adult foxes, baby and adult raccoons, frogs & toads, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and the ubiquitous deer.  so seeing what appeared to be a turtle on it's back on the side of a four lane highway broke my heart, but I needed to get where I was going, vowing to myself (and the turtle) that if it was still there on my way back, I'd go and see what I could do to help, hoping some other kind soul might stop and rescue it before then.  


not 'my' turtle - an image from the internet


on my way back, I slowed down and searched the opposite side of the road for the turtle, and saw it - still on its back in the same spot.  I pulled into the parking lot of a shop and got out to inspect it, and it was most definitely dead.  I felt bad for not getting to it sooner.  so, for whatever reason or feeling compelled me to do it, I took a large wad of napkins out of my glove compartment, picked up the dead turtle, placed it gently in my trunk, and brought it home with me.  while I found an appropriate spot to bury it, I told it how sorry I was that it had been hit in the road, and died alone on its back in the hot sun.  I wondered where it was from, where it had been going, and assured it that I was digging it a nice, cool hole in the damp earth for it rest in, and be devoured.  I asked if it wouldn't mind having its shell preserved as a scared item while wishing it a peaceful journey, then covered it over with dirt, and marked the spot so I could find it again in about a month.  during that time, I chose to learn a bit about turtles, how and where they live, breed, and die, and how best to clean and preserve one's shell.


tiny turtle vertebrae


this morning, with prayers for its safe return to Void, I dug up the grave, and didn't find the shell I had hoped would be there.  I wondered what could have happened to  coyote?  cat?  I sat in the shade of the pines for a minute contemplating, when I spotted a turtle shell - on its back - a few feet away, through some close-grown trees whose branches formed a barrier I couldn't penetrate.  how did it get there?  did some other critter really dig it up to eat?  in any case, the shell was empty, so I tried to get around the trees one way, and failed.  I knew I couldn't get around the other side of them, so I tried going through - no luck, too dense.  I got out my tree lopper and cut a hole through the dead branches just large enough to force myself through, pushed my way around the live branches to reach the shell, and brought it back with me.  the dead branches caught at my dress, scratched me on my arms and face, got tangled in my hair, and I had to yank myself free, knowing that leaving some skin and hair behind was a fair trade in this exchange.  for a reptile that is considered in several cultures to be representative of portals and doorways, this was as it should be.


as shore creatures, turtles are seen as a bridge between heaven and earth - land and water.  they are prevalent in the myths of many cultures around the world, and symbolic of good health, long life,  perseverance, protection, self reliance, tenacity, slow progress, luck, strength, hope, steadfast tranquility, and are considered a good omen in many world religions.  in several indigenous American traditions turtles represent Mother Earth as "Turtle Island", the turtle that carries the world on its back.  most turtles have 13 'scutes' (scales) on their 'carapace' (top shell), which has been likened to the 13 full moons in a year, and relates to menses and motherhood.  turtle shells have traditionally been used by some indigenous cultures to dispense medicines, and to make rattles.


can you see the 13 scutes on this carapace?

I found this piece of information which I just loved so much I had to share it in its entirety (the relevant website can be found at the end of this post):  "Dr. Tami Jollie-Trottier, PhD, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and a North Dakota-based clinical psychologist specializing in indigenous behavioral health and healing has developed “Turtle Medicine” (Mickinock Mishkiikii), an innovative approach to post-traumatic healing in which spiritual and cultural symbolism and Anishinaabe animal teachings are used to explore healing through art, writing and storytelling".  she believes that "westernized medical intervention alone cannot produce the level of wellness required, after a personal trauma, to return to the healthy state of mind needed to function in today’s world", and that "healing powers can be found within an individual’s own spiritual, cultural and creative energies".



in Hinduism, the god Kurma (Sanskrit for tortoise) is one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu, and in that belief system, the world is said to stand on the backs of four elephants, who in turn stand on the back of the tortoise Akupara.  here, they represent truth because they carry the world on their back, and speak of both the journey and the destination.  turtles remind us to be aware of our perceptions about time and our relationship to it while awakening both our physical and spiritual senses.  there is a certain safety in knowing they can survive hard times, and the lessons they are said to teach are that we should stay faithful to our paths, and be at peace with our choices and decisions.  they encourage us to release the negative things that hold us back, and remind us to use our heads to right ourselves.  "pay attention," they say, "abundance is available to us in the right time - the Earth provides us with everything we need."


so beautiful...

to be practical, and knowing that many reptiles carry salmonella, I researched ways to clean the dear turtle's shell, which I did by soaking it in a solution of salt, baking powder and water for an hour, then rinsing it off and soaking it in a solution of vinegar and water for another hour.  then I scrubbed it with soap and water, inside and out with a toothbrush, and set it to dry in the sun.  I'll probably put a coat of varnish on it to protect it, so I can keep it on my altar as a sacred item, and a reminder of all the good lessons listed above.  in my searching, I also found some vague references to supposedly ancient tales coming to us from China and South America of "three legged flying iron turtles" and a sky-god-bringer-of-corn, killed in the underworld, whose resurrection is depicted by his emerging from a turtle shell.  what do you think? 


Hun Huhnapu, resurrected as a Mayan maize deity?

further reading and references:



Wednesday, July 29, 2020


Feeling a need to visit with Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth's The Faeries' Oracle, but not having a deep connection to the deck or knowledge of how to work with it, I went with my gut and playfully swirled the whole deck out in front of me in a pile and picked a random card from the center with no more of a question in my mind than a general read, and to meet the fae who chose to greet me.  I drew Gawtcha -  who appealed to me right off because they're blue, with sticks poking out of their spiky hair.  I like their slender fingers and pointy ears, and the way their large, curious eye is peering out from behind an elegant hand.  so I was surprised to read "Sudden shock.  Unexpected events.  Rude Awakenings" in the card description, suggesting any number of possible disasters - car trouble, money trouble, other kinds of trouble - while also acknowledging the possibility of a small windfall (not all luck is bad luck - good things smack us in the back of the head out of the blue, too).

on one level, this card is telling us we need/are due for a cosmic smack, because we still haven't learned to trust our instincts, and that we have to regain our balance more quickly when those destabilizing experiences come along - we also need to be cautious not to lose ourselves in them, good or bad.  the card scared me in the sense that it speaks of upheaval, of shaking up staid structures we build in our consciousness and realities, and even though I complain about a lot of the mundane aspects of my life (just like everyone else),  I've lived such a transient existence that I hardly manage to get any kind of routine going before circumstance comes along to tear it down, so my first reaction was, "nooooo, I've barely recovered from the last 'growth' I went through," and all Gawtcha sees is the ungrateful recipient of their kind and generous gifts (it's hinted that the poor faerie numbs the pain of our human indifference with strong drink, as evidenced by their bloodshot eye).  on the other hand, there are a great many 'staid structures' in our modern world that could do with some 'upheaval'.

while "the sudden, often violent, breakdowns of existing structures, habits, patterns, and/or attitudes" (from the Oracle guidebook) in the summer of 2020 is a long overdue conversation that America has been needing to have with itself for Far too long, the card (or the fae energy associated with it) also speaks to my personal journey of being "confined by our own self-imposed limitations that may include the desire for comfort and security", and how we can grow into our liberation once we manage to break through those barriers.  we are encouraged not to fall back on our old ways, but to build something new with the pieces, and to leave room for future additions.

being who I am (human - it's a function of our minds that we imagine catastrophe so we have a chance to survive it when it strikes), I went to the dark side immediately and thought "oh no, I hope I don't get hurt while running!"  then just as quickly chided myself for even thinking such a thing, and wondered what kind of positive surprise might be lurking around the corner...a second stimulus check?  universal basic income?  but the specter of dark tiding had been there, lurking in the back of my mind, and it was a certain kind of week.  I had setbacks, unexplained (or unnecessary) cancellations, financial inconveniences and pressures, I had two 'bad runs' in a row and a slew of aches and pains...but I also received a surprise gift from a kind friend that brought me much joy.  so what is this card telling me really?

"let your baggage go.  find your balance, and keep moving forward.  you have all the information you need to proceed, and ample experience in this world to know how to 'roll with it'.  you will rise to every challenge, even though the suddenness with which they descend may be alarming.  it's a necessary evil that must be navigated to learn and grow, and increase your ability to hold space for further understanding.  welcome the opportunity with grace, and it might leave you a little less worse for wear."  that's my personal interpretation.  in my life right now, I've been making great strides towards moving into that new consciousness, challenging myself to leave the baggage where it lies, and take up my own best interest as a guidepost to finding my way through the discomfort and insecurity of setting my former self alight (again) to create new work from the ashes.  the same goes for our larger world - each of us is responsible for finding our new place within that discomforting insecurity that helps our friends and neighbors rise up, and to roll with any upheaval as a growing process that needs to break a few things to break through a few things.  if you're low on supply, remember how beautiful a Phoenix can be, give it what it needs to thrive, and it will bring you along for the ride!  good luck, seekers, and be safe out there!

💙  💜  💙

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Memory Jar 2019

it's that magical time again - the beginning of a new year!  sort of...being Jewish, I also celebrate the 'new year' in September, but Rosh Hashana, with it's round challah, apples, and honey is a completely different animal than the balloons, music, silly hats, noise makers, champagne, fireworks, and ball drops that grace the stage of many a December 31st celebration in the USA.  as has become our tradition - 6th year in a row! - my young man and I read out the memories we saved up during the year and relive our best times as a way to keep the positivity flowing, and our hearts grateful for all our many blessings.  this year, our Memory Jar (pictured above) got packed up sometime in March, and just yesterday, we dug it out of the box we still hadn't unpacked it from and laughed, because there were maybe two little slips of paper in there.  then we set to writing down what we could remember in retrospect to keep the practice going.  here are our respective good memories ~

playing in the Ramones show
the beginning of wrestling season
new Logitech headset
getting Minecraft
new gaming keyboard & mouse
getting an 'A' in English
defeating Borderlands 2
defeating 99% of the side quests in Borderlands 2
Nintendo Switch

first Friday Shabbat
'day of pampering' by local adult group - facial & pedicure done by willing male servants
my birthday full blood wolf supermoon eclipse planetary alignment snowstorm!
while the forced move sucked hard, the new place is good...ESPECIALLY THE HEAT!
Drum Gods (Teen's show)
pics of the old place
lunch with C
Garage Rock (Teen's show)
buying legal weed
roast chicken & veggies
lots of great cooking - soups, naan, marinated chicken burrito things...
P7:  Planetarium - planetary/tarot workshop
Ramones! (Teen's show)
MILKSHAKE!!! (private joke between the Teen & I)
new snowboots
new-to-me laptop
TALON (local band)
Firing Squad (local band)
The Adam Hendricks Experience NYE party (local band)
moving into a new 'me'
sharing traditions with my son

so, as is fitting for someone his age, the Teen's list is mostly about gaming, with a nod in the direction of his musical endeavors, and to his team sport.  I have no recollection of him getting an 'A' in English (neither does his report card), but I'll let it pass, because maybe he did at the time he put the slip in the jar.  it's too bad he didn't spend as much time making memories with friends this year as he did in the past, but we've been through some transitions in terms of our friendships this year, and the kids he hangs out with these days mostly interact through their computers, in the gaming world.  it bothers me that they don't spend as much time outside with each other as my friends and I did 'back in the day', but it's a different world, and I'm doing my best to roll with it.  though my need for him to interact with people 'in real life' was the impetus for me making him come out to the show we attended last night, and he not only had a good time listening to great music, he had fun hanging out with one friend in particular, and got lots of positive reinforcement from the other kids he knows who were also at the gig that they not only enjoy his company, but they also appreciate his musical ability, and like playing music with him.  one of the kids in the band said that if he knew my son was coming to the show, he'd have asked him to do a song with them.  so sweet! 

for myself, I enjoyed making the effort to mark the Jewish Sabbath each week by having what we called 'Friday Night Dinner' in my parents' house growing up, which I managed to continue throughout the year, with a few exceptions for the Teen's gigs and sporting events.  the 'pampering event' was held just before my 50th birthday, so it was nice to have taken that opportunity to get a bit of attention paid to myself, as I'm not in a financial position to be able to visit a spa, so this was the best I could do, and it was indulgent enough to satisfy that desire.  and while ultimately, I spent my milestone birthday at home during a snowstorm, I had the foresight to pack in the supplies I needed to make it fun, and I enjoyed the crazy energy of it a great deal.  you may have noticed that I added perimenopause to my good memories - that's because I'm Really Enjoying not getting my period every month anymore, and while that makes it all the more annoying when it does show up, it's been a Great transition for me, and a reminder to pay more attention to certain aspects of who I am as I age, and live in tune with who I'm still becoming.  more women should feel encouraged to embrace this time in their lives with joy, in my opinion - it's truly magical!

moving out of our home of 5 years because the State took over the property we lived on through eminent domain was a rough blow, and a hard patch to navigate that nearly drove me over the edge, but we survived it, and have settled into our new place as well as 'transients' like ourselves can manage.  the Teen is still in the same school, which is really all I hoped for out of the whole situation, and the apartment is nice, if out of our price range (the State was required to help me out with rent and bills, as there were no apartments that I could afford available to rent at the time they needed us to move, so...I don't feel like this story is over, but we're enjoying it while we can).  even still, we did manage our first Passover Seder, such as it was, and it was good enough for us.  also, since we were going to be moving, I made sure to take hundreds of pictures of the gorgeous flowers, trees, and shrubs that we had lived with during our time on that property, as well as the river, and as many of the animals as I could before they're all destroyed and/or displaced.

my son once again played in a variety of Rock Academy shows, which I enjoy to no end - they are so much fun to attend, especially when our friends manage to come out and join me on the dance floor!  it seems so weird to me that I only managed to have lunch with one friend this entire year, and I'd like to make sure to spend more quality time with people I care about in the future.  buying legal cannabis might not seem all that special to many, but given the history of prohibition in this country, and the war that has been waged against people of color as a result of it, being able to walk into a store and purchase recreational marijuana was Huge for me - I'll have to find the time and money to do it again!  I cooked up a lot of good food this year, moving slowly and steadily towards my becoming more competent in the kitchen, and developing my skills in not only the cooking of foods, but of planning healthy and delicious meals for us more frequently, and with increasing ease.  another highlight of my year was being gifted a one-week workshop in studying planetary energies, and working with them through dreams and tarot - a kind of work I used to do more regularly, but fell out of practice with as the pressures of earning a living while single-parenting took over most of my life, and squeezed out most of my hobbies and interests for those of my child.  it was wonderfully renewing, and a large step towards remembering who I was before I was 'Mom', and helping to center me into my new 'becoming' as a woman past her childbearing years - what I like to call 'croning'.

'MILKSHAKE!!!" is a joke that happened between the Teen and I after one of his performances that made us both laugh hysterically for longer than was necessary, so while it's a bit inappropriate, it's funny to us, and definitely deserves a place on our list, because that kind of sheer silliness is an absolute necessity in our lives, and I fully support inappropriate raucous laughter as long as it isn't hurting anyone.  for Hannukah this year, we both got gifts that we wanted and needed, and those gifts brought us both joy, which is also something I support experiencing as often as possible, and I appreciate that my friends were willing to step in and help us out with the funds we needed to attain some of those gifts for ourselves (charity and kindness are also endeavors I readily support).  I was also able to attend several shows recently of local bands that I really enjoy listening to and seeing perform, and I feel thankful for being able to share that with my son, too.  more of that in the new year, hopefully, as well!  finally, I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to have built up some traditions for my son to look back on, and hopefully appreciate both now, and when he (someday) has a family of his own.  we have such a strong bond, and even though his teenagey-ness sometimes works my last nerve, I'm really proud of who he is, and the person he continues to become, and it's sometimes hard to believe that he's so awesome because of the ways I've chosen to make him a priority in my life, even though I constantly wish I could do more for him, or that we had more money, or that he had an active father in his life.  all I can do is press on, and keep doing what I can, and do my best to do even better. 

I know a lot of people who had a really awful year, and are happy to see 2019 dead and buried, but all in all, it could have been a lot worse - even given the stress of our move - and I feel like I experienced a lot of growth in positive directions, which is always welcome.  so, the best of everything to everyone reading, and I hope you have a great 2020 - I'm already looking forward to a visit from a long-term friend whom I haven't seen in decades in a few weeks, my next birthday, and the Teen's 16th (oh boy...).  Happy New Year, all!  Baxtalo Nevo Bersh! 

Memory Jar posts past: