The night before camper day!

Ok. I’m still living in my car. After the initial shame and guilt and shock of it which I went into here, I find that there is no shame in sleeping in my car any longer. It is not a marker of failure. It is simply a different kind of shelter. I don’t know how that mind shift happened but my perceptions are different. I am no longer focused inwardly or selfishly. I am focused outwardly.

I’m so excited. It’s the night before I get my tiny home. I have been planning for two weeks how I’d fix it up and make it mine, but today I felt quiet, and peaceful and I went to the beach on Wisconsin Point. I was alone out there. I love being alone out there. There are just the gulls, the wind blowing off of the lake, and the sound of the waves breaking on the sand. There are lake-smooth round rocks of every color, black, red, white quartz, (and Lake Superior agates if you are really lucky), black and red rocks, all tossed and rolled by the world’s largest rock tumbler, my wonderful lake. I saw a bald eagle fly overhead yesterday. I sit on a driftwood log and let the wind play through my long hair; the sound of the wind and the waves breaking on the beach, and all of the kinks in my nerves get smoothed out; the anxiety breaks up and disappears, and all becomes right in my world.

I speak to The One Who is Greater Than Me who is known by many names and many religions. Wakan Tanka or Tunkashila to the Lakota people who I spent six years with teaching in the public school on the rez. I speak to Spirit often. I feel that there is something larger than me. I cherish that.

What a circuitous route I have taken coming home. I travelled the world and many states, and went through so much growth and expansion spiritually and mentally. Home is meant to be a rest for me, but it seems Whoever is In Charge thinks that I need to keep growing, hence living in the car the last little while. Hence being pushed into a different lifestyle with the tiny camper–but now I wonder when it went from being pushed into the camper to becoming a conscious choice to live this way and not bow down to the rents and landlords and feel as so many do that they have no choice but to conform and pay up.

Not everyone can buy a camper. Here I got blessed. There are tons of used campers for sale for any price really because in this country, everyone camps and fishes. I got lucky with mine being so inexpensive. It was a Gift.

It took losing a lot to uncover the important things and the real friends who are few but true. We know life isn’t about “who dies with the most toys.” We yearn for more and we seek more –hence explorers and pastors abound. Some of us travel to find ourselves. Like that book “Wild” about the woman who up and hiked the Pacific Coast Trail to come back to who she was, the woman her mother thought she was. Or the Eat Pray Love lady.

My journey was outward and now it is inward. It is in contemplation of the lake and birds and wind, and the space between extravagance and poverty.

This is what I am thinking as I spend the last night in my car. Tomorrow will be the start of a different and simpler kind of life.

I have more to unload. I still need to lighten up. More on that later.

Good night dear readers. Have you felt the call to simplify or have you been unceremoniously pushed into the worst that could happen only to discover that maybe the worst thing is turning out to be the best?

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Vision of what is to come

all is black and I am

moved forward by voices a cacophony if voices quiet then growing louder confused

I cannot make out the words but they slipside around me washing me like water drowning me rough seas

for we have known fear all of us unable to get traction on the world in front of us moving at light speed all of us crying in bewilderment at what we have created this great evil destroying us by degrees

I get alone and rock back and forth on the shore of this big inland sea and my prayers are carried by birds on the wind dipping and wheeling over waves crashing then

I see eagles in flight glowing in the black

I have seen them every day for a week so they announced themselves and these are giant birds who have voices of thunder

those thunder voices carry them forward they know the people need them

there is a blue warrior

A red warrior

A yellow warrior

A black warrior

a white sky and cloud people usher them and the growing dawn erases the black and people are no longer blind

Oh the horses, black and brown and red and bays and white all flowing manes and tails

the thunder of their hooves is astounding and I cower in front of them waiting

To be crushed

they leap over me and the wind of them blows the sun across the sky

those warriors follow behind them and then I see a beautiful woman

all is hushed

This woman carries a pipe and a buffalo walks beside her and behind her and becomes her and she is woman old and young and buffalo and calf all at once shimmering in the wake of horses

she speaks in the ancient language and it does not matter I do not understand I understand she has come

To save us

she sang the world into being and she sings again to save it her song erasing those who would destroy her mother her mother no longer old and sick on a cot but rising to destroy the ones who are death

rising the people rise the people know the people rainbow people rising

I open my eyes and the sun is almost gone

I get up and now I write

to tell

To remember

This is what will be what will happen the eagles have told me an

The Girl with Special Knowledge of God and other tales

Today I wasn’t feeling so hot. I somehow got a sinus infection so I went to get my medicine and decided to stop off at Target for some organic snack stuff because I didn’t feel like cooking.

I should tell you that I love pens. I’m an office supply freak. I couldn’t just walk by the stationery aisle without looking at the pens and Sharpie markers and other colorful delights. Like neon colored Post-It notes. That aisle of temptation is where I met my stalker walking opposite towards me.

She was merely a girl. A young girl. I should have known better than to make eye contact. I did. I thought she wanted to get by me.

Nope. She glowed with the aura of a True Believer. She smiled at me. I couldn’t stop my face from smiling back. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. That is when she pounced.

I should preface this by saying my longtime readers will understand I have my own faith that I am quite secure in. I also have two degrees in English Literature and Theology, with a concentration in Religious Studies. While education may not be the sum of faith it sure helps to know your Bible. Which came in handy because this girl was about to drop some Secret, Special Knowledge on me.

“Do you know about the Bible as the Word of God?” she asked beaming with a positively beatific expression on her face.

“Why yes. I am quite familiar with the Bible,” I responded. It was like pouring gasoline onto a fire.

“Oh…well…I’m sure you don’t know about the hidden Word of God in the creation of Man,” she replied smugly.

Hidden word of God? I thought. Now I was intrigued. Let’s see where this goes.

Noting my interested expression she proceeded to enlighten me that theology schools didn’t have the Secret Special Knowledge (herein known as SSK). Neither did any church. “Except mine,” she finished triumphantly.

Uh oh. Now I knew we were in for it. Only her church has this SSK. Hm. Cult? Red flag No 1.

“God gave our pastor and only our pastor this SSK. Would you like to see it?

Oh boy would I! She opened her Bible app to Genesis 1:26:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

With a conspiratorial look she got very close to me and she whispered “Let US. US. God wasn’t alone in creating man! Nobody knows this! Nobody teaches this! Who is us?

I suggested “Angels?” She scoffed. “Do you really think God let angels help Him create man?”

I didn’t see why not and this is something scholars debate but as I had tossed that out there for fun, I thought it wise to not respond. I took another stab at it.

“Us is God and the Trinity? At this she started.

“How did you know that?”

“I learned that in theology school,” I said gently.

“No! Impossible! ” She started grilling me on Bible Knowledge and trying to correct me by saying I was not as familiar with the Bible as I thought because God frowns on education and only teaches through the Holy Spirit. And only her church had this Secret Special Knowledge, remember. Suddenly she said I didn’t know the Bible in the same way she did. The girl was trying to spiritually gaslight me to make me doubt myself and my faith.

Nope.

By this time I’d had enough and politely excused myself.

It is to me rude to try to convert somebody when they are minding their own business but I get that these types are trying to follow the Great Commission so I can forgive that. But nobody and nobody has Secret Special Knowledge and shouldn’t claim to in order to take advantage of someone else’s ignorance of Scripture and theology.

I spent the rest of the time in the store dodging the Girl with the Special Knowledge and her friend who tried very hard to corral others to share this Secret Special Knowledge and no doubt try to strongarm somebody to come to church.

I don’t think I’m the only one who gets annoyed with this and annoyed with the idea that someone else couldn’t possibly be happy with their faith and they must be converted to yours. God likes us to be an example to others to show Him to others. He doesn’t expect us to weasel or wrassle people to the ground and smack them with the Bible over and over as if you are a child who knows nothing. Scripturally He most certainly does not want people to offend others to the point they want nothing to do with Him or Christians.

Be ever mindful of how you approach people, how you bring the Word to others. Please.

The world is a big place. There are other faiths. Let’s respect one another and love one another.

Injustice

Yesterday I wrote what I see as injustice being done to children, schools and teachers; and by extension the public at large. Today I want to talk further about how injustice for one equals injustice for all and why we, the American public, can not afford to believe propaganda whether from the right or the left and continue to sleep at the wheel regarding public education as we have been doing the last few years.

The ones in power think you are dumb.

I’m starting with the assumption that you are not stupid. You know injustice when you see it. Even kids know when something is or isn’t fair. The propagandists use our biases and fears to twist injustice (because it benefits them, usually monetarily), and make it seem like if teachers or public schools are having problems, it’s the teachers’ fault or the kids’ fault or the parents’ fault (you see this targeted most effectively towards poverty stricken areas). The richest country in the world, the United States, has some of the highest rates of child poverty in the world.

It always comes down to money.

Funding for public education is now seen as “reward money” only to be given to the most deserving teachers in the most deserving schools. Those schools tend to be in better served areas, not underserved areas, so when underserved schools fail, the politicians point their fingers and convince you that if they failed it was because the teachers are “bad,” so the school didn’t deserve that funding and convince parents to take their kids out of that public school and put them in privatized charter schools. Guess where the Federal funding per student goes? Into the pockets of the politicians and CEOs on the unelected boards of these privatized institutions with little to no state oversight. This creates a constant conflict of interests that (guess what) don’t benefit students.

Funding for the beleaguered public school and teacher pay is then based on students’ performance on standardized tests. Hence, teachers end up teaching to the test or worse. During Teach for America’s former head “educational reformer” (read: public school destroyer) Michelle Rhee’s memorably fraught tenure as Chancellor of DC public schools in 2007– the “reformers” began by stripping decision making power from the school board (elected officials so your voice was silenced), and the school board was then turned into an advisory body, and the new office of chancellor was created—so changes in the public school system could be made without waiting for the approval of the school board. That’s right. They did all of that with little to no outcry by the public and they got away with it.

In other words, it was a hostile takeover by politicians and “reformers.” The first thing they took was YOUR voice. While politicians argued with the school district about money, the teachers stayed anyway despite the poor state of the schools, and were given zero credit for their dedication to the students during the years all this was going on up to dismantling the school boards power. Instead, once Rhee was hired, she weakened the teachers’ contract and then fired 241 teachers and put 737 on notice.Budget cuts were the scapegoat for continued firings of teachers through 2009.

Because they were getting fired left and right, and because their new weakened contract made pay increases dependent on student performance on standardized tests, with no tenure rights that would have protected them from being targeted as a political football ripe for firing, cheating, institutionalized fraud and dumbing down of tests became the tools of the desperate.

This is just one example. Teachers all over the country have been enduring similar treatment, been given zero respect, vilified in the media in order to get public support for privatizing education, and are blamed for everything that goes wrong in the public school system thanks to a marvelous brainwashing campaign by certain members of the media that reformers and politicians have been using to serve their interests.

The upshot

The injustice being done here in destroying the public school system in this country is patently clear.

1. Cut education funding so schools can’t get textbooks or supplies or make infrastructure repairs and keep cutting until the school falls apart and becomes a place students can’t learn. There goes test scores!

2. Weaken or destroy unions by making states “right to work” states that gut union protections for educators and blue collar workers so that politicians and corporate interests can run roughshod over them to achieve their ends, and the teachers and workers can’t do a thing about it and indeed, have been told right to work is really protecting them from the big bad corrupt union! Now teachers and workers have no one to represent their interests and that is how people in power like it.

3. As a result of #1 and #2, test scores drop, schools literally fall apart and teachers are left holding the bag to buy their own classroom materials and/or have parents buy more; the teachers are then blamed by the “reformers,” politicians and CEOs, who feed this line to their media of choice so that you won’t see what’s going on. They then cut teacher pay, and cut benefits to “discipline” the “bad teachers” (or hell. Do it Michelle Rhee style and fire them all), and this planned obsolescence creates a fake need for charter schools. The “reformers” who really have a vested monetary and/or ideological interest in destroying public education, look like heroes crusading “for the kids” while making striking teachers look evil for shutting down schools because they are trying to get the funding to give the best education they can for the kids.

3. Federal dollars per student are then funneled into “reformers” and politicians and CEOs pockets and the public doesn’t see it because they’re so busy being told to “look over there” at the “bad” teachers and failing schools. The public is mad at the wrong people. Be mad at the politicians who created this planned disaster.

Do your own research. Make the connections. The “reforms” aren’t working.

Public education in this country is tried and true and has been the bedrock of our republic for over 100 years. Teachers are professionals. Take the examples of Canada and Finland where teachers are regarded as highly as doctors and lawyers and listen to them. Let them do their job instead of being an armchair critic. Unless they’ve spent time teaching in a classroom politicians don’t know shit about teaching or what it entails. They want money. That’s it. They want to steal taxpayer money under the guise of telling you the people what a big fat favor they are doing our kids by getting rid of incompetent teachers and the rotten unions who protect them, and they’ve put the biggest fox of them all in charge of the henhouse–Betsy DeVos, who has never taught a day in her life and has made it patently clear she is not for the public school system and is for “school choice” and teaching evangelical fundamentalist Christianity in the schools.

Injustice of this magnitude contributes to the dumbing down of society and is taking the last democratic bastion of this nation away from the people. Pay attention.

Support public education and funding public education, and the teachers who are fighting for public education and your kids so that ALL children may receive an excellent education.

With a little help from my friends…and one Catholic saint

I have had a difficult life and I have always questioned why but then as I grew, I stopped questioning it and devoted myself to looking for the good, no matter how small amongst the difficulties. I have striven to provide encouragement to others and deal with people in a good way no matter how unpleasant they are for it is easy to love others when they are pleasant to us but we are called to love one another even when someone is at their least lovable. Even if that love is never acknowledged… Love anyway. Is someone treating you badly? Find the good in them and love them anyway. You might have to set boundaries to love yourself, because Jesus doesn’t expect us to be a doormat, but love the sinner. Pray for them. Forgive constantly. Little things done with great love especially acts that are ignored or never seen are particularly precious to Christ. A smile. Holding a door open. A random act of kindness.

I know the way and I try to love and I am often disappointed when I am not loved in return or it seems the love I give is taken for granted or ignored altogether as unimportant. That is my ego getting in the way because I want or expect to get something in return but life doesn’t always play fair. Love isn’t wasted even if it is not reciprocated. It isn’t unimportant or insignificant to God and sometimes that is my only consolation. The lesson of course is to not focus on me but focus outward on others.

I am so far away from what I wish to be in God. I have trouble managing my temper, I don’t take criticism well. I should take it in silence but I don’t. I can be opinionated. It is a struggle being decent to others who treat you like you don’t matter. But it is the right thing to do, make these little sacrifices–love those and show kindnesses to those who don’t deserve them, sacrifice your wants for someone else’s needs, suffer in silence without complaint. I believe in this I have the help of St Therese of Lisieux who came to me while I was in the midst of loving someone who did not love me and who spent an extraordinary amount of time daily showing me how little they loved me. I suffered so badly I couldn’t take it anymore after three months so I prayed for help and deliverance and on the floor beside me in this decidedly non Catholic household was a St Therese medal with roses on the back. I had to look up who she was because I was not Catholic.

When I found out her “little way,” which was precisely what I was enduring , trying to love some one who not only had zero understanding of the concept but who could not return it, I understood immediately I was not alone or invisible to God. If no one else could see my love or accept it He could. He also loved me and does, despite my many failings, and so I do not have to worry about perfection in this life for God loves us the way we are right now and we can show Christ to everyone through little kindnesses and random acts of love that may go unnoticed by others but make a difference to the one you are doing it for and God. Be kind without making a big deal about it. Find the good in suffering or as I like to say find the silver lining. Don’t complain all the time because complaining makes you blind to your blessings and we all have blessings every day.

I keep a gratitude journal to stay positive and I endeavor to always encourage others and be positive around others. I get a lot of help and positive reinforcement from my friends who have been hard won. I lost many people who were friends in name only and when I needed help or a friendly face were nowhere to be found and uninterested in keeping in touch. I was devastated when I discovered a friend really wasn’t a friend. I took it personally and believed something was wrong with me or I had done something wrong. I had to learn I am not everyone’s cup of tea and become less sensitive to rejection and criticism. For these things focus us inward and too much inward thinking makes us selfish.

The friends I have now are a positive force in my life and I hope I am a positive force in theirs. They help me to achieve more and be more and support my faith even if theirs is different. They accept me for who I am and I hope I accept them for who they are amd I try to be encouraging and positive for them.

My life may have been or may be difficult but…others suffer more than I. I look around and see so much pain and anger and suffering and loneliness in others and it hurts me to know others live in such a loveless state. In a society that is predicated on selfishness and fulfillment of the individual over being part of a community it is easy to see that such a focus on individualism breeds selfishness and self love and greed, while the poor are ridiculed for being poor and called lazy, despite poor economies that force two parents to work, or circumstances that create single mothers or single fathers, where poverty is considered by the upper classes as a moral failing, and so the upper classes use this to justify overlooking the less fortunate. The excuse that the poor take advantage of the rest of us is a poor excuse too. It portrays the poor as swindlers which they are not. Christ told us to love one another and help the widow and orphan and the poor.

On the other hand I see those who brag about how much they give and this too is selfish self aggrandizement. I too am a part of this society and still am learning to be less selfish myself so I understand the struggle and that many do not realize what they do.

So I get by with a little help from my friends, God, and one Catholic saint. They have given me a most interesting life in which I have received many tangible and non tangible blessings, been a lot of places in the world, and been given many opportunities to show love to others even if it has largely been unreturned. My pain at not being loved in return is a sacrifice given in the service of love and that pain doesn’t matter half so much as loving does.

Love matters. Its the love that matters. I am glad I have loved those I have loved. They needed someone to love them even if they did not understand it or return it.

So love anyway.

Reimagining my life

At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

  • I will go back home to my lake.
  • I will not dwell on the failures of the past.
  • I forgive all those who hurt me and I pray I am forgiven by those I hurt.
  • I will earn an apartment. With wood floors and a lake view and bookshelves built into the walls. A nice old house.
  • I will play classical music in the evenings and have a nice wine rack with a good selection of wines.
  • I will hang art I love
  • I will have oriental rugs for the floors.
  • I will not allow the failed loves of the past to dictate failure in love in the future. I will love another and be loved truly by someone before I die.
  • I will have a good job and earn plenty of money.
  • I will collect used books for my used bookstore that I will have lakeside.
  • I will keep running and walking and do it beside the lake daily and live in hope, not despair or disappointment.

Future

A single candle flickers as I walk the path wending round bends in the dark while hidden figures block entrances

of places I am not meant to explore

The wind shifts suddenly and I find myself on the shore of an endless sea, waves agitating upon the sands shifting and I struggle feet sinking so I stop

and build sand castles

Birds wheel overhead.

A song drifts upon the night on the shore and returns me back to childhood when I felt safe and warm

I pause momentarily sand castle forgotten while a hawk peers at me knowingly from a log of dry driftwood

You are not the master of your destiny it says and flaps its wings as it waits as I wait I am carried forward to the same place returned by sand and sea and tide to the past-present

I look out over horizons as I shift flying over beginnings and endings and see a great hand writing something I cannot read

Perhaps that was the answer and I crane my head desperate to read and understand but I am carried by crosswinds back to the log, the sand castle and the sea no more a bird than a fish

A boat comes for me

I rise to meet it walking on still water.

She-wolf

I have run wild across the land and

hunkered down in snow I have hunted for the food that nourishes and found only bones

I have borne pups and raised them until they forayed into the wider world and

now I roam again beside

great inner oceans

I sing over bones and they stir faintly

they speak to me in whispers I cannot yet make out

my ears dart forward and I nose the bones

Willing them to live

they are me long dead perhaps and perhaps they are glad I have found them

I will lie here until the breath of life fills them

Dead letter

Dear Fitz

Nineteen years and it was yesterday

and here I am in the middle of my life and nowhere

in a different state

nothing

As I thought it would be

I’ve gone on and on.

I’ve loved and I’ve lost.

I’m living in a world where colors aren’t as bright they

went trailing out after you when you went to that other place and

left me here not knowing what to do my touchstone gone forever

Life yawns on in front of

Me and I might as well be blind for all I cannot see

I’ve given up mostly on things like dreams tired of them shattering like glass when I touch them tired of plans that implode tired of not having a true North to come home to

I sat at your gravestone last ten years ago and listened to the trees whisper you were not there you went home Over There

You’re okay.

I wish I knew that about me. I wish I could sit down with your bad coffee while you play Dylan and we could talk about things and you’d smile and search me with those warm blue eyes and tell me how you love me wandering like a gypsy and I could tell you I’ve seen Ireland twice and wandered Corkside and Dublin and they let me

See Joyce for free and I stood by Molly Malone on McConnell Street drinking a coffee to go from Bewleys

and you’d tell me to go see Budapest or Paris in the springtime

you asked me

Once if I believed in soulmates if I had a soulmate and all I could do was look at you

I wish

I’d told you

I was young then and I didn’t know that people lied because they could I didn’t know that they parade wolves in sheeps clothing and I believed the best of them all and so I was silent and you changed the subject and held me close

when it was time to say good bye

Where’d I go?

Australia that time I think

Life went by and took you with it and now I am in the empty place waiting

for the pieces to unshatter for my heart to be unbroken for the colors to return to the rainbows

you said to see Dublin in the winter and I know you loved the snow

you were the only decent man

I ever knew

and sometimes I know you reach out to me and show me you

love me

And this a dead letter

I travel on