• 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.

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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.

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

double marathoning

Two major things happening in my life right now that are my “extracurricular” activities. Meaning, they have nothing to do with work or family and are just for the enrichment of my life. Funny how they both involve the word “marathon” – my “creative marathon” of which I have most recently been journaling about. And of course, the women’s half-marathon in September for which I am training. Marathon, by the way, is named such because this Greek runner messenger ran 26 miles to deliver his message of Victory at the village of “Marathon” and then fell over dead.

There is irony here because I am not trying to kill myself, but am rather trying to better myself. It can, however, feel at times as if it is indeed my death that I am plotting. Physically and emotionally. While I am feeling very successful….hmm, successful doesn’t accurately describe it…rather to say that I am very pleased with my painting efforts. I have even decided to keep one (mile #11 – the whimsical blue flower). My running efforts however, are feeling….well unsuccessful. Words like failure and inadequate come to mind. Very discouraging.

But I digress, as first I wanted to discuss my experience with my “book”-club the other day. We decided to do this creative marathon together and forgo books for the time being. We met last Sat to discuss our journey so far. They are very very talented women and their works thus far were very inspirational. I must admit, that prior to meeting with them, I was worried and feeling a bit self-conscious about my attempts at art…especially sharing the images with others doing the same thing. What if theirs were Better? Prettier?…Better?

What I found was that it didn’t matter. I wasn’t there to compare, and they weren’t either. I didn’t feel so self-conscious once we became engaged in sharing and discussing. I didn’t feel like comparing. I did learn a lot about myself. I was very delightfully surprised by their interpretations of the “miles” – the drawings we had been sent to work from. They were interpreting! You could see their individual spirit in each painting, and they were all beautiful…even when (maybe especially when) they wound up looking very different from the example.
I think my paintings stayed closest to the examples. I remembered how, as I was painting, I would try to paint my images a little different…but…**light bulb!!!***… I realized that I was very strictly adhering to “rules” that I created for myself. Those rules said I had to do it like the example and that I must follow the instructions. I gave myself only the tiniest bitsy bit of wiggle room to be a little “different”. Perhaps because I am not trusting my process. Not trusting that I could have original ideas or unique interpretations that can still be beautiful works of art. Not trusting that I have ability, that I do have an inner artist locked inside that really wants to get out. Only I keep hemming her in with rules and straight and narrow rows that she must follow in order to express herself at all. Rules that are about other people’s art, and not about my own.

Perhaps it was “fate” that this last mile didn’t give a concrete example. The instructions were to draw a “cave painting”. So I did. I did research some images that I wanted to use. And then I made up my own. It isn’t perfect. I wouldn’t hang it on a wall. But it is all mine. And I like it.

I intended to write more about my current struggle with running (yes I am running, but it seems harder than ever, I feel slower than ever, and my hip hurts). I don’t much feel like moaning about it any more. As I wrote the above, I realize that perhaps I am having the same problems with both marathons. I am trying to hard to fit into someone else’s mold. I run the way I run. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t fast. Its messy. And sometimes it hurts. But I am doing it.