Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Try self-care

I know many women who have experienced sexual assault. I also know many who were "triggered" (memories of abuse surfaced and women felt re-traumatized) by the Brent Kavanaugh hearings when he was nominated and then placed on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was extremely painful to hear Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's quiet testimony about her experience of assault and then to watch as she was dismissed by lawmakers and others. It was just another reminder of how much work we women and all men of good will have yet to do on the subject of sexual assault. If we want to rid this country of its rape culture, we must pay attention to how we treat those who dare to come forward with their stories.

Just recently, I read a good piece on the subject of being triggered that listed 4 ways to care for yourself if that happened to you during the Kavanaugh hearings:

1) Stop, breathe and be. The article recommended turning the TV or computer off, taking deep breaths and being still.

2) Share your feelings and step away from the internet.  This recommendation is for both women and men who have been assaulted and encourages talking with people you trust and doing things that are relaxing and make you happy. Stay away from the news for a while.

3) Connect with the present. Ground yourself by noticing things you can touch, see, hear, smell and feel.

4) Don't try to numb your pain. Instead, healthy remedies are suggested, things such as yoga, exercise or sleep.

As always, self-care is so essential—whether you were triggered or whether the whole process last month upset you and offended your sense of justice.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Who's the stranger?

Lately, I've been talking about justice and about some of the issues that garnered our attention during the recent election cycle.

I'm a Christian and as such, I have concerns for how we approach immigration issues in our country. I am aware that people of other faiths have concerns for "the stranger" as well; Christians aren't alone in that desire. So who are the strangers in our world? Our lives? And what are we to do?

In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the stranger:

"...for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"

I certainly don't advocate a policy of letting anyone and everyone into our country with no rules and regulations governing such entry. Somewhere between that and completely closed borders, there must exist a space where we can stake our claim as Americans. With the exception of Native Americans, of course, we have all gotten here because someone in our family line entered the country through an immigration process. At one point, someone in our family was a "stranger" in this land. What's your family story?

What does that mean to you? What ideas do you have for bringing justice to this situation? 

Friday, November 9, 2018

A passion for justice

For nearly all of my life, I've been passionate about justice. This continues to be a strong drive within me, and it means I pay attention to what's going on in our society and in the world. I believe that as a citizen, I am called to be engaged—to stay informed, to speak out, to vote and whatever else seems important and necessary to assure that, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "the arc of history ... bends toward justice."

That said, I have decided to take the opportunity now following the election to use some of my blog space to talk about issues that are important in our life together. One of those issues is the increasing gun violence in our country.

Two of my sons and several of my grandchildren love hunting. They have all taken safety courses and follow gun safety rules judiciously. I am not against hunting and careful use of guns.

However, I am extremely concerned about the increasing rate of mass killings in our country. Clearly, it didn't bother us when our littlest ones were killed at Sandy Hook. It hasn't moved us to action when our high schoolers were killed in Columbine and in Parkland, Florida. And now we've just had another one in California. We are upset by killings in our churches, synagogues and mosques; but our concern seems to pass quickly as the news cycle moves on to other events in our national life.

I don't have answers for all of this—just deep, deep concerns. How can we protect all our citizens—and most especially the children we bring into this world? Surely it is our job to protect them and be sure they are as safe as is humanly possible. Do we have the will?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Digging under the words

National elections were held just yesterday. It's been an especially contentious election season. So many important issues have been the focus of national debate. Debate might seem like an extremely tepid or overly polite way to describe what's been occurring. Some days, it's more like food fights in a high school cafeteria!

Some of the issues that have been tackled are health care, immigration (except for Native Americans, we all got her through the process of immigration), voter suppression and gerrymandering, the #MeToo movement and all the broad strokes that surround issues related to women, reproductive rights and so much more.

I've been listening to the rhetoric and trying to pay attention to what's underneath the strong feelings and the words that are used—words that often are hurled at each other across an ever-increasing divide. Let's just take one of the issues: reproductive rights. Many feel the terminology typically used can be misleading: pro-life and pro-choice; and those people say that nearly everyone is for life and that it's a matter of who makes the decisions. So I've been thinking a good deal about what exactly the term pro-life means to people. I suspect if I asked 10 people, I might get 10 different answers.

I'm curious: What does it mean to you? For me, pro-life covers such a broad range of things—for example, attention to such issues as hunger, poverty, homelessness, child abuse and domestic violence, education, health care, gun laws and gun violence, just to name a very few. I see what happens throughout the life of that child who's born as a matter of concern. For me, it's more than simply having a child born; it's about making sure that child is safe, loved, cared for and has the best chance at quality of life that's possible. And in this wealthy nation of ours, I believe high quality of life IS possible if we have the will to see to it.

I would love to hear what you think about this and other issues. It's so easy to repeat rhetoric—words and phrases—that we hear politicians or others say. And sometimes we don't really examine those words to see what is underneath them. It's important to do so and to be sure the words we use really are authentic to us.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Embrace your changes

We know that change is a normal part of life. Without change, we'd never grow up. Change, evolution, transformation—call it what you will. It's essential. I love to think of the butterfly, which started life as a lowly caterpillar and wound itself into a dark cocoon, where it seemed to die. And then suddenly, all those same parts that formed that caterpillar changed into a beautiful butterfly. I love that image of transformation, which is why I've chosen it as the symbol of my Way2Grow Coaching practice.

French author Arnaud Desjardins, who wrote the book The Jump Into Life: Moving Beyond Fear, once said:

"Life is expressed in a perpetual sequence of changes. The birth of the child is the death of the baby, just as the birth of the adolescent is the death of the child."

On and on it goes. Perpetual change. Why then do we so fear change? It's a normal, yes a valued and essential, part of our lives. So let's embrace it and be grateful for new life and transformation. Be grateful we learn and grow. And let yourself soar like the beautiful butterfly that emerges from the cocoon!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Deep breaths. Time to de-stress.

How are you handling your stress these days? Do you have some tried-and-true methods of either keeping it at low levels or letting it go once you feel it?

Whatever tools you have to deal with stress, now is probably the time to dig them out of your toolbox. This month is Thanksgiving, and we all know Christmas and the busy holiday season come right on the heels of that. Even when you try to limit your activities and your to-do list at this time of year, it still can easily get out of hand.

So take some deep breaths. Get back to exercising, meditation, yoga, quiet reading time or time with friends—whatever it is that helps you keep your equilibrium when life gets crazy. Try to get out ahead of all the stress. And perhaps even make a vow this year to limit some of the activities or some of the expectations you put on yourself. Take time to enjoy this special time of year. Be grateful for these special times and don't let the stress get you down!