Haiku for a New Year

So fellow travelers, sitting down to work on a new post, I discovered my New Year’s Day post did not publish. 
Hmmm.
So much for the WordPress pre-scheduled publish option which I know I have used successfully many times. Perhaps that glitch was just 2020’s parting side swipe.
No matter.
I simply composed a revised intro (which you are reading now) and reposted.

(Photo: Sunset at Cadillac Mountain Acadia National Park, Maine USA 9/30/2020)

Angels in the sky
Divine Love made visible
So we remember

I hold no illusions that working through the aftermath of 2020 will be as simple as reposting a missed entry. That the year still held moments like the one captured above is an affirmation of just how much brighter Light shines when all seems darkest. Eyes on the horizon Hope is not cancelled.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way


Digging Deeper

So fellow travelers, last month I promised a post on my core experience of Christmas “becoming” magical.

Honestly, this year, I find myself digging deeper than ever to feel that magic and, knowing I am not alone in this, I remain committed to creating that post. As it germinates in the creative sanctuary of my heart, waiting to sprout words in my brain, a cold front pushed temperatures back to more seasonable digits and our first winter storm slowly turned the view from my studio into a snow globe.

I recently started spending an hour in my writing space everyday, as the “golden hour” sets in not to write, but to simply watch the light change as it surrenders to ever earlier nightfall. The cycles of nature are a reminder to me that change is the only constant in life. Day to night, season to season, the waxing and waning moon, all continuous cycles. The experience is infused with profound longing, and inexplicable joy.

To surrender to the inevitable changes in life is to cast hope into the future, like seeds sent forth as a plant’s last gift before it too becomes part of the Earth. For the first time in my life, I witnessed all of humanity struggle against the force of wave after wave of change over which we had so little control. While the tide is turning, this global transformation does not end with the flip of the calendar and a change in the year’s end digit from zero to one. When we emerge from the other side of the effects of this pandemic, our lives will look and feel very different, which is why there has been such deep persistent resistance to accepting what we know we all must do. For humanity to move forward, we must embrace the opportunity to participate in creating a more equitable, more compassionate and yes, more hopeful life for our fellow travelers. Clearly not everyone has embraced this, however I earnestly believe the balance tips in favor towards the willing as creating enough force to shift the narrative for our future.

It feels like a daunting mission and yet a moment in the opening of a recent livestream show with my five favorite musical humans, Switchfoot, brought up this quote:
“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what you have.” Ernest Hemingway / The Old Man and the Sea. *

So for now I offer this chance image, captured on a recent walk and the words it brought :

Winds of change roar in
Faith takes hold digging deeper
Reaching for Earth’s strength

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

*Editorial Note: This quote is similar to one I first read in Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography originally published in 1914. “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are. ” The quote is always attributed to Teddy (who stands as my favorite US President) however he clearly stated the quote’s origins as Squire Bill Widener of Widener’s Valley, Virginia. It remains one of the foundations of my personal perspective.

Lanterns of Friendship

So fellow travelers, the cumulative effect of the year so far has been an emotional experience I can best describe as what happens right before a tsunami:

One moment I am standing on the safe warm beach, wrapped in a blanket of sun infused happiness. Suddenly the ocean unnaturally recedes so far out it doesn’t make sense. Then comes the moment when confusion becomes terror as the reality of what is happening hits: a tsunami on the way. 

Internal equilibrium has been a challenge to maintain this past few months, hence the periodic weeks of silence here. Sometimes fear and anger run so deep, it feels too dangerous to speak of, as if my words would tip the balance of power in the struggle to keep darkness from taking over my Internal GPS. Words reflect belief and belief creates experience. 

In times like this having friends we can rely on is a resource of immeasurable value. I mean the kind of friends who hear your need when you are silent and send a quick message to touch base or ask you to text when you arrive safely, the ones who right on cue post a meaningful message that reminds you hope is never cancelled, dawn always follows the darkest night and in time love prevails. The ones you, yourself do not hesitate to lift up when their spirits need a boost, knowing the hope and Light we give is always returns even brighter. For my tribe of friends,  these words came while exploring the wilds of Maine.

Navigating paths
Holding the lantern by turns
Transcending distance

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

Now What ?

So fellow travelers, while I have considered this space as a kind of creative “thinking out loud,” there has always been an underlying hope that my writing has served some purpose beyond my own musings.

If an uplifting haiku, an eye catching photo or a bit of humor brings joy or even insight to some of my readers, I feel I have done my part in making a difference by helping others along on their journey. 
Adjusting to the massive changes brought about by the COVID19 pandemic has proven to be more demanding than any of us thought it would be. For me just the switch to online education created an overload of new information to master. There has been little time for myself to relax, let alone write; I had even stopped journaling.

Thankfully, two practices I have maintained are daily meditations and evening gratitudes. That and frequent walks with our dog have kept me sane in a very crazy time, a time which, in the words of therapist Barbara Young, “…is a much longer marathon than we could ever have imagined (becoming) a reality.”  I found her words in an article my friend and fellow writer Kate Rantilla shared. As I read it, I realized why I have felt so pressured: I am, as she describes, trying way too hard to “do isolation well.”

Her insights have helped me make sense of my emotions and allowed me to reorganize my intentions with less self-judgment. So, although I rarely share outside sources here, it felt like the best way, at the moment for me to make a bit of difference for you, my fellow travelers. 

Barbara Young’s article “What do we do now? can be found here: “https://tinyurl.com/sx2ke7n

Walk gently on the path my friends another time-
for now save lives, stay home and be well.

Rewriting History

So fellow travelers- strange dark and troubled waters we find ourselves navigating these days.

First, I pray you and those you love are safe and well. The time is coming when every one of us will know someone, perhaps even ourselves, who has been touched by this viral wave sweeping across our home planet. I see it as an unprecedented transformational experience. While humanity has survived numerous pandemics ( and will survive this one as well ) it has never been so intricately and immediately connected as we are right now. This wave hit fast, hard and will leave an impact we will feel long after the last case has been diagnosed. Hold tight fellow travelers, this journey has taken quite the sudden plot twist.  

someone shares my dark sense of humor

Normally I am pretty disciplined in my interactions on social media. Right now, with our schools transitioned to remote instruction, honestly I am so busy adjusting to new online platforms I don’t have time to keep up with my social media feed. It is however the best way for me to keep in touch with friends and family in this time of “stay home” protocols.

No surprise emotions are running pretty high everywhere, so I started getting drawn into responding a bit more to comments by adding my own perspective. (If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know me and my signature #spreadhopenotfear .) One response** on a friend’s post showing appreciation for NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership drew a surprisingly negative reaction from someone I respected. The gist of it was that the knowledge I shared in my comment (which contained facts backing up my comment) was not as valid because I am a teaching assistant not a teacher,  not a content expert in history and implied my support was driven by blindly accepting “sound bite” media.

OUCH- While being online many more hours a day than I am used to does create some eye-strain, the only blindness I’m experiencing is the blindside of being slapped down for being a lower ranked educator.  I may “just” be a TA ( teaching assistant ) however I do have a college degree in both media AND education. I may not be a content expert in every class I am assigned to but I am intelligent, well read and always seeking to learn more. I use my research skills to sort through information; I rely on science, facts and first hand accounts (aka “primary sources”) not hyperbolic media hype (left or right leaning.) I can spot a #fakenews story easier than dog hair (which is pretty much everywhere in my life) and I know how to read body language to discern when people are lying ( No, I am not a covert CIA agent- but I know people are- …kidding ….maybe.)

The

bottom

line

I have I OFTEN disagreed with Gov. Cuomo on his approach to issues in the past. That was then, this is now. And the bottom line is what we are dealing with NOW is an unprecedented global crisis. The opinion that the rapid spread in NY is due to poor leadership does not equate with well documented facts about what is happening almost everywhere around the world. Regardless of decades of warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) almost no country or leader was prepared.The few exceptions have been a handful of countries with fewer personal freedoms and stronger government controls which instituted universal mandatory confinement within a relatively short time of the outbreak in their country- something that will not fly in America, land of the free and don’t tread on me (observe the push back from simple “stay home” protocols right here at home.)

 Why was everyone so unprepared?
 (trigger warning for my friends who deal with anxiety and/or trauma PTSD. This is a very sobering section, proceed slowly or head right down to the Looking Ahead piece)
Medical experts explain that COVID19 is different, even from other viruses in the same category.  It is stealthy ( most contagious before symptoms present) its efficient (reproduces rapidly right after exposure) its sinister (takes close to two weeks to run its course – thereby prolonging the transmission rate). We do not (yet) have a vaccine or an effective treatment (there isn’t a”tamiflu” equivalent “-yet) 

Most countries and leaders looked back at recent viral outbreaks SARS, MERS Ebola and expected to have a lot more time to “get head” of the infection rate. Experts in Washington State where the first case in the US was diagnosed alerted the CDC, looking for directives in how to proceed. Suffice to say (and this is well documented) there was no sense of urgency from the CDC or federal government, regardless of the rapidly rising infection rate and death toll China was starting to report. Fortunately, Washington state and local leadership paid more attention to what farsighted countries were doing and instituted precautionary closures of vulnerable locations in Seattle early on and when the outbreak spread, so did the precautionary measures. Unfortunately it was not until Italy’s crisis became world news that other countries, including the US, realized the potential severity of this pandemic. And as of the time of this post (March 27, 2020) there are regions in the US where the outbreak is just beginning to bloom, that continue to disregard the warning signs of growing numbers. They have not taken to heart the clear implications of taking a “wait and see” approach. Many of those regions are rural areas highly vulnerable to having smaller medical facilities quickly overwhelmed with tragic results.

Looking ahead

Looking Ahead #lookforthehelpers- Since my ethereal snow goose experience about three weeks ago I have struggled to write about this experience of living through a pandemic. I see now the hidden gift in that stinging slap down, because it pushed me to find truth in my emotions and here I am pounding out the words which were buried in those feelings.

And there is more to come. If nothing else, I have broken through the anger (which too often feels like a forbidden emotion- a habitual pattern from childhood) and found a way to voice my truth without undue rancor. I have neither the time nor the desire to fuel the critical, angry attitude which poisons social media. I want, I NEED to focus my energy on supporting my students, my friends and family, my creative tribe. My greatest hope is for humanity to come out of this shadow into a better world, one of global cooperation, compassion and connection.  Historically, that has not been the after effect of epidemics and pandemics.

Maybe it’s time we rewrote history.

Walk gently on the path my friends, safe distance apart and may you live to find adventure when this shadow has passed.

**Post edit note: I would like to make it clear the comment I referred to was NOT made by anyone I work with. My colleagues in our district have always treated me as an equal and respected my contributions. I appreciate them deeply for that.