• Current Reading List

    Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh*** Eat, Pray, Love*** Peaceful Living - Mary Mackenzie(daily reader)*** The Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron (this is a read a chapter a week type book)*** Dubliners - James Joyce*** Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring - Jean Watson*** The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Volume I***
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.

Experiencing Prejucide First Hand

Okay, so I have been MIA for quite some time, and I have likely lost what small readers I may have collected. Lots and lots of reasons for this, but my passion for writing remains…it has just been buried under a lot of spiritual and physical heaviness that I haven’t been able to shake on my own. This past weekend, an event occurred that has shaken me to my very core and has given me the motivation that I couldn’t dredge up alone. (I sure hope this doesn’t mean that it is going to take personal crises to get me to write on any kind of consistent basis!, but I digress)

I have determined that it is impossible to really understand prejudice, the lived experience of prejudice, by reading about it or hearing about it etc. The only way to really understand it at a core level is to have experienced it directed at yourself or a loved one. Scratch that too, maybe it is really only possible to fully understand its devastating impact if you have experienced it directly yourself. A big part of me hopes that is not true, because then the emotional turmoil that I am currently experiencing only scratches the surface of what my husband must be experiencing right now. Words don’t seem to adequately describe this experience, but those that come close are fury, helplessness, despair, devastation, impotent rage. Not enough…I feel like I need to create new words to describe the impact of this experience. I want to rail against something, wring justice out of the ether, make this somehow right again, and figure out how to recreate my shattered sense of personal safety and security. Those tasks seem impossible in the face of an insurmountable wall of injustice and I am left with a quivering impotence and fury at our failed justice system and a general feeling of wrongness of it all.

My husband sustained physical injuries last Friday as a result of a violent and unprovoked attack. The assailant fit the stereotypical image of a skinhead: White, shaved head, and large and muscular to the extent that steroids must be suspected. My husband almost fits the stereotypical image of a middle-eastern man: Tall, beautiful brown skin, dark eyes and hair, and on this particular date he was unshaven for several days (and as fast as his dark thick facial hair grows, this means he had the beginnings of a full beard).

Almost as devastating painful (and perhaps upon further thought, even more painful), as the violent attack itself were the events that followed and the failure of our legal system to protect us, validate the wrong that occurred or take any swift action in attempts to right the wrong.

The attack occurred at one of the seemingly most safest places in the world – our YMCA. We were both working out. I was in another area of the gym, so was not a witness. Instead, a YMCA staff person found me dripping sweat on a treadmill and asked me to follow him. He said that my husband had exchanged words with another man, had been in a verbal fight, and that I needed to come calm him down. “Wait”, I said, “You must be mistaken, that doesn’t sound like my husband at all”. Not at all. Not my gentle sweet husband who has never even raised his voice to me. There must be a mistake. The man assured me that there was no mistake, and that I shouldn’t worry because no one was hurt.

I guess he failed to notice the lacerations, abrasions and contusions to my husbands face and arm. I guess the blood that seemed to be everywhere must have just somehow escaped his notice. Not a big deal right? Because it was a “fight”…Oh wait, let me get a dictionary….I thought a “fight” meant that two parties were mutually involved. I didn’t realize that knocking someone down in a surprise attack while hurling racial slurs and then continuing to hit them while they are in a position in which they are defenseless to protect themselves and then fleeing the scene constituted a fight. My bad right?

My bitter sarcasm is because this was the general stance taken by almost every person that could have helped  (I say almost because the doctor in the emergency room was very compassionate and as appalled by what happened as I would have expected the rest of the general populace to be). No one, not the police officer, not the staff at the YMCA, and later not even the district attorney took the time to ask my husband what happened and listen to his response. Because the only witness was a white woman (who happened to be with the assailant, but that must not have been an important detail), who was “vague” but said that they were “fighting”, my husband’s account of what happened was pretty much deemed irrelevant. Also irrelevant was the fact that the assailant ran away. There was never even a mock attempt at pursuing him.

Four days have passed and we have not been allowed to press charges. A detective is supposed to investigate sometime later this week. The members of the justice system that we have encountered have acted as if we were somehow the ones at fault. No one has spoken the words “I am so sorry this happened to you” or even hinted that any attempt at justice would be made. Meanwhile, this violent person has been allowed to get away scot-free, with not even a hint at repercussions. Is this really happening? Surely if I pinch myself, I will wake up to a world that is more just. 

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if my husband’s skin color was different. I guess it would have never happened to begin with. But if it had, I can’t help but think that some sort of justice would have occurred. And that makes me sad beyond words.

lonely blog

lonely blog these days. Have thought about writing…just have been feeling generally apathetic and haven’t done much of anything. My painting has slowed to a snails pace – the creative marathon process took a major pitstop. I have painted…just have been prolonging the last few “miles” into an extended period. Part of that is the doldrums I am in, and just not feeling very creative. Part of it is because I don’t want this painting process to end so I have been dragging it out. I am setting an intention to get my latest paintings (of the last two months) on here this week.

I also am setting an intention to blog more.

will see where things wind up.

Musings on a Second Half

Despite the paucity of blogging data to support it, I am still running. Last week, my confidence in my running was pretty shot. Well, really it has been since middle July. I started working at night – which has meant many bodily woes – too tired to run, 15 lb weight gain, change in routine. I generally just felt like garbage being slow-roasted in the sun for most of my runs through August.  I still run when I first wake up, but now that is in the evening, and when evening running I just hasn’t seemed to have the umph I did when running in the morning. Negative umph. Then to top it all off, 4 weeks before raceday, I sprained my ankle. Pretty significant crash (the booboo on my knee is still pink and scarred looking).  This meant that my training schedule was shot all to hell, and that my longest long run was 4 miles short of the 13 I had hoped for.

All this added together made me pretty much feel like a loser. I had wanted to really ramp up my speed and get my time to 2:30. I wanted to lose more weight and run smoother. I wanted to feel really confident going into this race. Been there, done that, easy peasy.

That is not the way it happened at all. I am heavier. I felt like I was running so much slower and less efficiently. My get up and go, well you know.

 I even considered backing out of the race. But dang it, my pride just wouldn’t let me do that. Plus I really wanted the nice shiny medal with bright and shiny girl runner charm that I could put on my necklace with the charm I bought for the last race. Pretties almost always get me motivated. That, and I didn’t want to accept defeat.

I felt really nervous about this race. Really nervous. The kind of nervous that I used to feel on the first day school as my mom was driving me in. Those days were also wrought with lots of “what if I can’ts and self-doubt).  I kept telling myself, and anyone who would listen, that I was just going to finish. It didn’t matter if it took me 4 hours. I was going to finish. I told myself that I was probably going to take longer than the first time, but it didn’t matter. The accomplishment would be finishing. Even if I walked the last 4 miles, as long as I finished, it would be success.

Deep down I didn’t believe any of that garbage. I felt like a loser. I envisioned myself floundering in pain at mile 10 and having to be carried off the road on a stretcher. Oh, the shame! I envisioned myself limping across the finish line at a crawl after 3 1/2 hours. Lots of visions, none of them very nice.

The morning of the race, the excitement I felt at the CMM wasn’t there. I was just nervous. I grabbed my requisite cup of coffee and headed out to my front porch for some serious prayer. “Help me  finish today. Help me feel good about this. Help me really believe that it is okay if I finish at 3 1/2 hours”. Then I did something which I had done before the April 1/2. I envisioned myself running this race joyfully, and joyfully crossing that finish line.

Now I won’t say that I went to the starting line with no qualms, but I got that sense of excitement back. I felt eager with only minimal qualms. Nowhere near  the level of first day of school, but still not a day at the park either. Just the right number of qualms.

Joyful is what I was. I felt good. The race felt very different. It was all women, with the exception of a few random guys…very few. The energy was great. There were  not so many people cheering at the sidelines…and I liked that too. The day was beautiful. I settled into a pace and I took my time. I tried to keep myself moving, but I walked when I needed to (which was predominantly going up some of those monster hills that downtown Nashville is notorious for). I didn’t even wear a watch, so I couldn’t even keep a good measure of my time. I am not much for mathematics in my head, so when I passed the mile signs with the clocks, it seemed like I was making pretty good time, but I felt certain that I would slow down and that was okay. At mile 12, the clock said 2:33. 2:33!!! Only 1 more mile left. I soared. Well, my heart did anyway. I walked long enough to text my hubby and cheering partner, because I knew he wouldn’t be at the finish line yet. I had told him at least 3 hours!

What the heck happened.??? I let go of expectations. I allowed myself to be in the moment, to just enjoy the process, and once again I was amazed by the results.

I crossed the finish line at 2:48. My official time was 2:46 minutes. 19 minutes better than my last half.

 I am just going to keep getting better.

Maybe I will run a whole next year.

seemingly random

My latest painting for the creative marathon was to paint a representation of balance. Also in the instruction was to use paper on the canvas in creative ways. The crane or egret is a significant symbol of balance for me, so I got out my fancy paper, tore up some strips, and attempted to collage a crane onto the canvas. Then, so I imagined, I would throw some paint on and there would be this perfect representation of balance and a beautiful crane. (I forgot that balance does not equal perfection).

Did I ever mention that realism is not my strong suit (maybe I mean this in several areas of my life. maybe). I am much better with the abstract. So my little crane came out looking much more like a giant dodo bird, with a strong chest, large head, and ungainly feet. Not really balanced at all. So today, I took again to the canvas with the intention of throwing some paint around and trying to salvage my crane. I kept repeating the word “balance” and trying to hone in on what was balanced or how to represent balance as I tried to let go of my image of this perfect crane. I mixed up some colors and at seeming random, slapped some paint on this way and that. Before I knew it I had this mountain shape of layered colors with the heart of the crane at its center (which was an actual heart from one of the strips of paper) and revelation struck me! I had painted the colors of my chakras. I have long engaged in a chakra meditation, and these particular colors have consistently come up in the different chakras (and they aren’t colors typically “assigned” to the chakras). My crown is white (clouds at the top of the mountain). Third eye is always yellow. Throat is green. Heart is blue (sometimes red, but blue came out here). Navel is orange, sacral is purple and root is pink.

Seemingly at random, and here it is. I didn’t plan it that way…well maybe some unconscious part of me did. I also find it very interesting which of the chakras are larger in this image. More for me to think about.

I guess it is obvious where I need to be focusing on balance.

latest

Mile #18

I am actually quite pleased with this one.  Repetition of shapes was the charge for this mile. I started out with rows of little circles that I DID NOT like. So I hedged them in with squares….still didn’t like. I kept adding colors and squares and then finally the big circles. I felt determined on this mile to keep working at it until I liked it. Different feeling, for on other miles I have been content to slap something together and let it be. Part of that whole, “letting go” process that I have once again been working on. With this one, I was beginning to feel rather frustrated and I worked on it off and on for a week, until now I have decided that it is Not Half Bad.

This process of painting

Is very different than anything I have worked with creatively before. I don’t want to stop. I want to paint every day…or at least every day that I can, even if it is just for a few moments. I have two more paintings right now that I am probably going to keep…one is a maybe and one is for certain. This makes three paintings so far. When I look at these paintings, as well as several of the paintings that I have painted over, I feel…..a little gleeful.  I did that. These images have such power. They are simple, but I am in love with their beauty, and it is beauty of my own creation. What could be more magnificient than that.  Even the paintings that don’t make me feel elation, I still have a sense of creation and enjoyment. I feel the colors. Color is so soothing and so life affirming. While I do have other colors of paint, I most enjoy mixing the primaries myself and coming up with colors that are all my own. They are difficult to re-create most times, but more often than not, the shadings of color are what really add to the painting. Colors remind me of a feeling, a place or a particular thing or person, or all three at the same time. This lavender reminds me of the exact shade of the irises that grew on the hill where I grew up. This rusty red is reminiscent of my mon’s old purse that she carried for years past its prime. This pink reminds me of the perfect round spheres that I would gleefully twist from from a bubblegum machine at the bank. The colors evoke playfulness, joy, wistfulness, contentment. With a squirt of this, and a dollop of that I have the potential for a whole menagerie of feelings and images. Sometimes it is a conscious process and other times it is not. Whatever the case  the memories and feelings are carried into the painting and it builds the life and soul of the image, giving it a depth that recreates those feelings upon viewing of the painting later. At least it does for me. I would hope that would happen for others as well. I think that will be an indicator of true artistry.

latest miles