Gratitude Sunday: Welcome To The Twilight Zone

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

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Sunday Haiku
Earth bares its secret.
Soil feels warmth before we do,
leaves shoot out of bulbs.

Sunday Musings
You’re traveling through another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

Many of us are having strange feelings of dissociation these days. We are having a hard time adjusting to having an immature, impulsive, petulant, reactive person who by a fluke of policy is the top “leader” of America. I’m pretty reactive myself and I have to be very careful what I say and to whom. I work on all those other qualities every day. I do my home work, know how to admit when I’m in over my head, or ask for help when I need it. Those are hard things to do when you struggle with adulting every day.

I’ve been through eleven presidents. I was born the year Eisenhower was inaugurated. I don’t remember much about him, though my family had a small black and white TV and we must have watched some news.

I do remember, however, how excited I was for JFK to be our president in 1961. I was in second grade. Here was a young man, who was rather handsome (in a way he physically resembled my dad), with a beautiful gracious wife, and a little girl who reminded me of my little sister with her dark hair and sweet round face. I don’t remember anything about his politics or what he represented for our nation. Such is the way an 8 year old mind works. Even though our school teachers taught us how to duck and cover under our desks, I was never afraid.

LBJ, of course, we got by default the first time, and while I don’t remember, I read about the controversy of his re-election. People were still in shock over the assassination of JFK and it was easy to keep him. Again I don’t remember his politics but as a tweenager I liked that he had young daughters who were growing up just like me, even though they had many more advantages. But I was never afraid.

Then we got Nixon. We all know how that turned out. I was still a teenager, and though I had not had much experience with people yet, I had enough to know I did not trust this man’s face. While I was not comfortable with many of his politics – we were in the Vietnam era – I was not afraid.

On July 1, 1971 the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. October 1971 I turned 18. I understood the feelings of our young men who said if they could be drafted to serve in a war they did not support they should be able to vote for change.

Meanwhile Gerald Ford was appointed to Vice President as Spiro Agnew resigned the office in disgrace in October 1973 and when Nixon finally gave up denying he was a crook Gerald became president in 1974. I didn’t get to vote for him. Nobody did. Gerald Ford was comfortable. He had a family like mine with 4 kids, he tripped over his own feet like me, and he was an Eagle Scout like my brothers ended up being. He was our only president ever who was an Eagle Scout. He may have seemed inept to some critics, but I was never afraid.

The first year I was qualified to vote for president was 1976, America’s bi-centennial year. And what a year it was. The bi-centennial celebration was amazing. The bi-centennial was everywhere you looked, in all sorts of marketing, and in the political campaign as well. The fun part about aging is not remembering so well any more. Ford narrowly lost to Jimmy Carter and I honestly can’t tell you whom I voted for. Now when I look back I love both men. To me, both of them exuded integrity, honest family men who took their work seriously. I was not afraid.

I know I voted for Carter against Ronald Reagan. Given I didn’t understand or know much about politics as I was so busy scraping together a living, I felt Carter had significantly more experience than the actor. But Reagan was not so objectionable that when he won I was afraid.

And then the economic mess that was George, and Bill, and George W. I might have voted for them. It is embarrassing to say I don’t remember. Even though I may not have agreed with their politics and policies, I was never afraid.

I was proud to vote for Obama. I was thrilled to have an educated man who seemed so different than the last few. I admired the way he conducted himself, thinking he did his homework and considered the issues from many sides before he made a decision. I loved his family, and that he is a family man who loves his family. And I was never afraid.

Granted I did and do not know these people in person. I was not privy to meetings or press conferences with them. I knew/know them only second hand, by what is reported in the news in whatever form that takes. But you can see enough body language, and hear enough vocal inflections, and listen enough to cohesive (or non-) speech to know when a person is trustworthy. Or not.

I refused to watch the original Celebrity Apprentice because I could not tolerate watching a face that activated in me a fear like having nightmares. The fear comes from actual trauma experiences, and can be triggered by an assortment of cues. The fear is mine, but it is very real. Being lied to, gaslighted or asked to believe other than what you see and hear, being raped, being threatened by a man who is very much larger than you, all of these and some others trigger the fearful feelings. It’s a look of contempt on the face, a flash in the eyes, a smirk of the lip, a derision in the voice, a slap with the hand, an attitude of “I can because I can” without regard to the other person. Many women and men have experienced these fearful feelings.

I entered the Twilight Zone somewhere during the summer of 2016 when it became obvious how many people hated Hillary enough to vote for him. How many people were suckered by campaign lies. How many people were not skillful at reading body language and between the lies. In November with the electoral college win I started falling through the dimensions. In December when the electoral college failed their responsibility of preventing an unfit president from taking office the line between reality faded even more. Inauguration Day 2017 left me fully in the Twilight Zone. And afraid for the world and our blue planet.

I am comforted to know I am not the only one. We are multitude. We are women who march. We are people who voted and who take the time to protest peacefully. We are people who seek guidance for these awful scary feelings. My counselor tells me her clients report experiencing increasing fear since the November election. I take the time to call my elected representative, and the staffer I talk to tells me so many of the constituents who call tell her about the Twilight Zone feeling. The pastor at the church I choose addresses it subtly in her sermons. Friends talk about it between themselves and on social media. Fears are overheard while waiting in line at the grocery store.

So here we are in another dimension, an alternate reality, the Twilight Zone. Will our world as we know it be victimized, raped of resources? Will the voices of fear, the voices of the constituency, prevail? Will the billionaire class succeed with the devastation of an entire society? Beware the smoke and mirrors in front of us. We have an uncertain future. We can help change those feelings and our future.

What can we do to fight feelings of fear and dissociation, of disbelief and powerlessness? Here’s a few ideas.

If you have a job, make sure you continue to do the best job you can. Do not let these feelings interfere with doing your best at work. If your work is making art, create as if your life depends on it. It does.

If you have littles, or young people in your home, spend as much time with them as you can. They are only little for a short while and you may find even the 7- and 8-year-olds are experiencing strange feelings because of smart phones, peers, and social media. You are their best resource. They might be your best avenue to joy.

Take care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise. Sleep. Spend time on yourself whether it’s a hobby or a massage.

Call your congress person or state representative. Really. We pay their staffers to listen to us. It takes less than five minutes. Phone calls are proving more effective than emails, and if you have phone phobia it gets easier the more often you do it. Write a script which makes it even easier. Representatives receive daily reports from staffers about how many calls they take and what the concerns are. Worth five minutes once a week, or every day. Depending how concerned you are.

If you have the funds you can join the ACLU or other organizations who work to protect our civil liberties and rights we have already achieved.

If you have the funds you can make tax deductible donations to organizations who support your point of view.

If you are physically able you can volunteer in your community, at your local food bank, for your local homeless shelter, at your church or school, for your city or local hospital, with a youth group or at an elder center. There is so much we can do just to help each other and keep our personal connections strong.

If you cannot physically help, remember your voice. You can share information. You can share your stories and experiences of presidents in the past. Of what you did to help your family and community. Tell your children how interesting it was when you volunteered and recommend they do the same. You are not bragging; you are telling histories as it was lived and you are encouraging others to create those stories in their lives. Listen to their stories as well, what they are experiencing at their schools and jobs. We must keep communication open.

If all you have is your voice don’t pay much attention to the tone police. As long as you express yourself politely the passion that shows in your voice reveals your heart. No one has the right to set the parameters of discussion by asking you to “calm down” and if they feel they have to stifle the passion in your voice they aren’t really listening anyway.

The Twilight Zone is a fluid dimension. We can move back and forth between the fear we are being directed to feel by an uncaring bully and the reality of a life in which we can have our voice in how we are governed, in a nation embracing forward progress toward world peace and cooperation. Sharing our stories, focusing on our everyday lives, writing down our stories as we live them contribute to the connections we all have in this world, the one without fear. We work hard for a world without fear and we have the right to continue to do so. If we bring the power of numbers together, and all pray and work for the safety of the world perhaps we can prevent what so many of us fear instead of crossing over permanently into the Twilight Zone.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The first pink heather of the season. dscn0396 Green daffodil shoots spearing warrior-like through brown leaf shields. dscn0402 A hopeful stand of green iris leaves. dscn0409 Emerald primrose leaves full of the promise of spring blossoms. dscn0422 Some shiny green leaves with ruby magenta string blossoms. dscn0417

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} It’s Helen Mirren week here. * Painted Lady (1997, not rated) was a Masterpiece Theater presentation about an aging rock star who becomes involved in a murder mystery involving stolen artwork. Sounds more exciting than it was. Meh. * The Clearing (2004, rated R) with Mirren and Robert Redford, a mystery with Redford’s character being kidnapped and the unsuccessful recovery process. Better than Painted Lady, but I never figured out what the title meant, and didn’t understand why the character was kidnapped. I’m not willing to watch it again to figure it out, because I bet it isn’t there. Some things happen for no reason. * The Roman Spring Of Mrs Stone (2003, rated R) from the novel by Tennessee Williams. I think I have watched too much Helen at once. Each additional movie makes me feel she is a self-indulgent actor. But I still like her and I know how hard it is to make art, so perhaps I am too harsh. However, I now want to watch the original 1961 version of this movie with Vivien Leigh. Inspiration wherever you can find it, right?

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Currently Reading Just finished The Girl on the Train (2015, fiction) by Paula Hawkins. Good standard British mystery, great for a summer read. In between fiction, we’ll see what the week brings. * In between non-fiction as well. Finished Ed Slott’s Retirement Decisions Guide: 125 Ways to Save and Stretch Your Wealth (2016, finance) by Ed Slott. Now explain that to me in language I can understand. As it applies to me.

It’s almost February and I didn’t choose a Winter Classic for the 2016-2017 season. So many interesting books to read. I must have been distracted. It’s been such a traumatically strange year I’m ready to skip it. Exceptions can be a good change occasionally. I’ll have to put more effort into planning ahead next year.

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This week I have been grateful for:

  • Some lovely warmish days, you know, when 45 degrees feels warm after the cold spell.
  • Watching the signs of spring coming.
  • Being able to walk a bit on the clear days we had.
  • Weather forecasters who are mostly right because of technology and science.
  • Sweet juicy mandarins when I’m craving orange flavor.
  • Librarians who work everyday for our access to knowledge.
  • Libraries public and private: repositories of knowledge.
  • So many voices waking up to speak out for progressive values.
  • The kind staffer I’ve been speaking to at my congressman’s office who explains process to me and thanks me for expressing my opinion, which I always do with polite language.
  • Reading some different perspectives on the opportunities this dreadful political situation may present. I like different perspectives. Helps me with mine. One can always learn.
  • Learning when to shut off the news.
  • Having many distractions to keep me busy so I can stop thinking about the state of the world occasionally.
  • Finding my bedroom floor again. It’s cyclic.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

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Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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