why does someone on food stamps have an iPhone?

(taken from Facebook: 9/11/14)

i live with this every day (and for me, thrown in are visits to starbucks.)

i remember when my former best friend was a friend on Facebook, and i realized that she was saying that some people deserved to be poorer than others, i wrote her a quick note in aghast, asking her if she really believed some people deserved more than others. when she didn’t answer in a few days, i unfriended and blocked her.

One of my favorite things about being a UU is our depth of compassion and our lack of judgment. we believe the best in people, and in 2nd, and 3rd, and maybe even 10th chances, too.(i would also like to treat everyone with this same respect, even vehement people i disagree with)

our family is on food stamps. there, i said it.

i am blessed to have many friends who care and love enough to not be blinded by my computer or internet and a (paid-off) car. my closet is full of clothes purchased but never worn. i’m severely overweight. i have an iPhone. i have a $500 mont blanc pen (my dream since childhood – to publish a book, and have a really awesome pen-i purchased it in 2004, and still love it and use it and keep very good care of it)

Those things were purchased at a time when things were good. i was able to buy them, because i had a job and not only was good at it, but loved it. we had enough – more than enough- for 2 cars, and a chance to usually buy pretty much whatever we wanted (like toilet paper and paper towels) when we needed it.

we are no longer like this. we cannot afford paper towels and kleenex anymore. we use white washcloths that are cleaned and washed weekly. we worry when our car insurance comes due – or when an unexpected financial difficulty happens. we have to share one car.
my friends give me gift cards to starbucks. (everybody knows its my ‘writing spot’ by now) a relative bought me my ridiculously overabundant new computer. a friend paid for a year of belly dance lessons. i have nice stuff. clothes i haven’t even taken the tags out of yet.

if we could just live out of compassion – instead of ego or even want … if we could be present with every moment of who we are, instead of worrying about the future or regretting the past …

life isn’t about what you have. its about who you are, and what you give; how you show compassion and love to the people around you. i wish everyone could just know for 5 minutes how it feels to be scared and broke. and yes, people play the system… but we don’t. and we have lots of friends (also) on disability who don’t. most of us are not cheats.

please don’t paint everyone with the same brush. our stories are unique. each life is unique. we are all rich compared to many in 3rd world countries… yet sometimes they are more happy. don’t judge. just swallow the thought before you say it and trust that all of us are trying desperately to stay alive.

http://www.upworthy.com/whats-the-first-thing-that-comes-to-mind-when-you-see-a-welfare-recipient-on-a-cell-phone

please choose compassion. please.

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o captain, my captain (part II)

What-Dreams-May-Come-robin-williams-26619597-1499-973i haven’t cried enough; not like i want to, not like such a death observed deserves. the pain is building up and i’m not sure where to let it go. it seems so trivial – but i am hurt, lonely, even triggered by this loss; i have dwelt deeply amidst the similar darkness, and many of us are always just one small thought away from the same tragic fate.

it isn’t just about the ending – the thing that people judge him for. “the coward.” “he didn’t try hard enough.” “he didn’t want to get better.” “how could he do this to his family?” “it was those drugs and that alcohol” “he was foul-mouthed and deserved to die.”

pensiveits also about the journey. i loved robin’s eyes. i often saw the impish looks, but i also saw his eyes for who he was. the vulnerability was obvious, even though every behavior was to distract from it. everyone who has walked this journey has those same eyes – if you take a moment to really see.

and those of you who think you “get it” or can judge it by your wanting to kill yourself once when you broke up with your high school boyfriend — you are assholes with no compassion and people who are so terrified of your own unbridled dark thoughts that you push all of it away with platitudes, arrogance,  jesus and verses and light and laughter; bullshit judgments on other people and what they “should have done” — (you) will never understand the dimensions of life or the world. you want to just make everything go away.

smileyou have no concept of this path, this journey. you have no concept of the caves and the dragons who sleep in them waiting to munch you all the time. you don’t know how it feels to step back from the ledge again and again, to hold your trembling hands over your wrists, knowing that the long way is the best way. (you also know that those who slice across are amateurs; it takes some good long cuts vertically to make it harder to stop the bleeding) you crawl trembling towards your car parked on the bridge, your mind envisions scenarios, getting even, getting out, shame and guilt are your constant companions.

feathersyou are too busy telling other people how to live and marry and love and be, to even begin to glance towards the shadows, your own caves, the depths of your own soul. and even thinking of it terrifies you. you just don’t want to know. it is the same reason many people have read stumbling toward faith and written me letters. “stop feeling so sorry for yourself.” “why can’t you just get over it?” “C’mon, it was a long time ago”

as a survivor of torture and abuse, i can tell you that major depression is real. hopeless isn’t a strong enough word for it. i can tell you that ptsd is real. its not just people wanting attention, or “thinking too much about the negative.” i can tell you that medications help. it has nothing to do with “trusting god” or “demonic influences.” and as a survivor of over 80 electroshock treatments, i can tell you that at some point you reach the depths of that necessity. my depression was treatment resistant; i couldn’t stop from imagining suicide, thinking about suicide, planning suicide – i even tried to drown myself in the toilet on the psychiatric hospital intensive care unit.

gorillahugthe ect treatment worked – i am still alive today. but the trade-off was significant.

this judgment i have seen and read infuriates me, and it makes me terribly sad. i do not wish for pain on anyone, and yet i wish there was a way to give a tiny glimpse to others who don’t understand. words don’t do it. blood talks. urine covered hair and face talks. hanging by a belt talks. but if there is closure to that kind of world; to that depth of pain, nothing will help–people will go on judging that which they are too cowardly to admit to themselves that they might feel that way too–keeping them safe and secure in their bubbles, living according to their own blindness and misconceptions.

mrsdoubtfirei’ve been working on my next book, and i am convinced we need it more than ever. mental illness, spirituality and tidbits of shamanism. it is only 10,000 words right now, but there is so much to write down, to capture; so much to tell.

may those of you who have ears to hear, listen.

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o captain, my captain! (part I)

robin williams, the person i never knew but always loved, the one constant in my life through its years of suffering, the actor who played very powerful father/care-giver roles, the person who had a foul mouth and an amazing set of wit, committed suicide yesterday.

i felt as if i’d been punched in the stomach. such an incomprehensible loss. a person who couldn’t do it anymore – who got too tired of fighting the disease of depression and his various addictions. a human being who tried over and over and over to FIX IT – to FIX HIMSELF – over and over and over, and in the end, after all the rehab, the 800-number suicide hotlines, therapists, friends, wonderful spirit, amazing feats conquered, and progress he could re-check and point to as making it, he still killed himself.

i wrote this last night (and i rarely share things like this):

robin williams is dead. the rest of us want to know how that feels. the pain, the quiet, the sudden ending. is there any breath in the next life? goddamnit, this didn’t have to happen. i think of all the times he tried and tried but he was just too tired, and i know that too tired so well. it feels as familiar to me as anything else- the intimacy between wanting to die, fighting to live, and then finally letting go. i am so angry at him for leaving. yet i’m jealous too. and i know that exhaustion of forcing a self to keep going. and i know the tenderness of giving up and letting go. and i know how to wake up in a hospital bed with tubes and straps; my stomach pumped, the slits sewn up, and i have known that disappointment of waking up. it was not what i wanted. i can’t stop crying.

toys

it tore me apart yesterday, and i watched through social media as it tore through many people’s hearts. there was a shared grief among many of us, and a great sadness and powerful, tangible sense of loss. i immediately wanted to watch every single movie and episode of mork and mindy. i had spent years connecting with that man, with hope, with knowing he had struggles and watching him bravely fight through them. and somehow he had become very important to me. so when i heard what happened, i felt like “wow, he had the best help, the best psychs, the best care, treatment, and he fucking tried so goddamn hard — and he still couldn’t beat it.” what a sobering thing, to have watched it almost happen over and over again, only to soar on wings as we rise out of the ashes, what a personal loss when the admiration for someone (and the little kid/s in me) watches such a beloved man, watch our want-to-be daddy try and try again, and try and try again, only to finally end his own life.

… to be continued. i have so much more to say, there will definitely be a part II coming, if not more. i can’t write about this any more right now.

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happy birthday mr. monk

monk peter and i spent the day together yesterday – it was his birthday. we went to amarin thai and jamba juice and balboa park and the museum of art and starbucks. it was wonderful. and here are pictures:

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Blood Doctrine Review

blooddoctrinereviewWhat would happen if scientists were to take blood samples from ancient relics of Jesus’ crucifixion and extract the DNA in order to create a clone?”

this is the question that this book brings up. much in the same way as a dan brown novel, there are protagonists and antagonists, secrets in family lines, various conspiracies,  and an intrepid main character trying to put it all together.

This book is an interesting read. With its format of three stories interspersed, it is somewhat confusing to follow without deliberate attention. It’s not the kind of book you can read during spare moments; it is more of a book that deserves focus and intention. i noticed that i often had to go back a few pages to remember where i was and on which story.

Some people may have issue with the language. it probably is too intense for normal evangelical christianity, but not quite enough for those who are comfortable with un-savory words.

The stories do ultimately converge, and throughout the text, mystery after mystery is revealed. At the same time new mysteries unfold, incomplete things that will haunt you long after you’ve finished reading the novel.

“Blood Doctrine”  brings up interesting questions that we might continue to wonder about today. Piatt speaks of things that could be – even though it is fictional, it is a fascinating idea. It will be interesting to see what the sequel brings.

find out much more about Blood Doctrine here.

3 out of 5 stars stars-3-0._V192240710_36

#speakeasyBloodDoctrine

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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acknowledging my body’s needs

Dancing-Quotes-11i went to belly dance class tonight – completely excited about the chance to shimmy. i was doing great for awhile, when i started noticing some strange symptoms. my legs were shaking, violently shaking.

then i noticed that my legs were getting a very strange feeling: like they did right before i fell in the pride parade last year. they felt unmovable, like they were made out of steel. i found myself having a difficult time moving them and keeping up with the dancing.

i knew if i kept going, something bad was going to happen, so i finished up what i had been doing and then flopped to the floor. at this point, my calf muscles were cramping and i felt the invisible inevitable pair of charlie horses.

i immediately started stretching, which was painful but did not help. i started to breathe deeply and find a neutral state for my anxiety to go to – i noticed i was tight, tense, and that i was horribly stressed about it.

i sat out some of the dancing for awhile, gently continuing to stretch, and finding my center so i could keep breathing.

at one point i was able to stand back up and join the class, which felt good, though my endurance and trembling distracted me a bit.

this disturbs me greatly. many of my meds have side effects that until recently i have not experienced. dizziness, for example. several of my scripts have a side effect imitating parkinson’s disease.

i came home, had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and some cold pasta salad and a big glass of water. i’ve taken my medicines and some ibuprofen to help with the pain. i am looking forward to a bit of time wasting, and then a comfy night’s sleep.

i am proud of myself for acknowledging the ickiness instead of waiting til i fell over again. this is part of me trying to befriend my body and converse more with it. i took good care of it by sitting down immediately – even though everything in me felt ashamed and “weak.”

50 points for Gryffindor!

i am learning to listen and respect my self.

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interfaith shelter, April 2014

 

tonight was the end of an intimate time spent with a group of people for 2 weeks. tomorrow, they pack their things, and are out the door by 8 am.

i was listening to every conversation i could, trying to suck in the last discussions and intense thoughts. i heard more than one person confide in another that s/he was hoping it won’t rain tomorrow.

i’m a fan of rain. i love it. cold and rainy are my preferred weather conditions. oh- and puddles. jumping in puddles is a life necessity. I’ll be doing it up until my dying day. its a big deal to me, and i rejoice when i hear we will have blessed, glorious rain and puddles.

after awhile, as more people came, and our room filled up, i heard my other volunteer friends claim excitedly that rain was coming. it tends to be a big deal when we get water- it is almost a luxury; a novelty- and most all of the room was excited.

i noticed the homeless guests sitting near me both begin to cry. i realized that we had failed to truly remember that some of us would have no roof tomorrow night. our laughing delight about the rain was very bad news for them.

the insensitivity around the room increased, and i diminished smaller and smaller until i felt like a couscous crumb. i was ashamed at not realizing my mistakes earlier.

i started with the homeless. i went to each of them and whispered in their ear about being safe and surviving the rain. i told them how much i hated having to force them out back into the dangerous world. i wanted to have a house, maybe a room, a couch, a place to offer to them. i wanted to have something, and as i looked into their eyes, the panic and grief in me grew stronger, and i was feeling a depth of my compassion and a desperate hope tumbled together in a tear-inducing mix. i experienced a spiritual feeling of being an exploding volcano – lava bubbling up and oozing out, into the light where everyone could see it.

then i started talking to those who had roofs they were going to be under tomorrow: all day, all night – and i said that i felt it was insensitive to be so gung-ho about the rain in the presence of these people that were praying for the rain to go away; that the rain would pass through and that they would be dry tomorrow night and through the weekend.

and then i started to say goodbye.

the first women i saw – the one with children- grabbed me close to her, rested her head on my shoulder and then pulled back and held her hand tightly onto my hand – my fingers started to grow numb. she was unabashedly crying. i was surprised to notice that my cheeks were wet as well.

as i write this i am crying. its not about guilt, its about gratefulness. its about truly believing that every sentient being is part of the web of life, and that this web is priceless. we are living in a treasure chest with all of humanity – yet we squabble about the dog’s shit on our lawn, or the way our mechanic failed to completely fix something on our car. it isn’t out of guilt or prodding or even remembering to be thankful. it is about something bigger and different; about dignity and worth. it is – essential to our roles as fellow members of this gift of the web of life.

and it isn’t just the dark places or the 3rd world countries, or that orphanage down in mexico. it isn’t just haiti or sudan or egypt. it is the all of humanity — the recognition of respect in one another. truly treating people as if they mattered more than anything else.

now my tears are splashing on the keys and i’m making bad typos. i need to stop writing this. but i will continue to cry for the lack of justice, the lack of compassion, the lack of love. nothing should separate us so differently from each other.

from childhood in the evangelical church up until my last years at a baptist church, i was taught that homeless people were dirty and bad. you could go maybe wash dishes at a shelter or help, but when you came home, you would ‘clean yourself up,’ say a prayer and then forget about the good you had done. the cliche has always been dirty and bad, and lately the rhetoric is about what people deserve, and how lazy they are and if they would just get their shit together and try! things would work out for them.

it isn’t about being lazy or about what others think other people deserve. who in the world are we to decide? what makes us have the ability to look down at people who have less than us and say with such conviction “they’re lazy” “they’re drunk” “they don’t deserve help” “they feel sorry for themselves”.

i remember when i first heard my best friend from high school admit that she believed that people on welfare or income were lazy and not motivated; that they were getting tattooed with their school money and buying more and more expensive phones.. on, and on, and on, until i unfriended and blocked her because she was more offensive and calloused then i could possibly live with. 15+ year relationship – poof! gone just like that.

my whole body trembles with the humiliation and thoughtlessness of so many of us, and how sometimes we throw money at problems and feel we’ve done our part; but until we have looked into empty, broken eyes, we can’t imagine what it means to be them. and those that brag about their tattooes or iphones or gadgets? they have nothing else to share with the rest of society. and the rest of society looks back at them with loathing and cries: “YOU DON’T DESERVE IT!” — you are not important, you are not loved, you are not cared about.

what else could we possibly say?

you are a precious part of the web of life. you deserve dignity, worth, and love. you are part of me, and i of you. i treat you as i would myself. i believe in your purpose and existence so much, that i would do anything to help you continue to live… free, deserving and respected.

some of us reach our hands and ourselves across and into the darkness. we have acknowledged and lived our own, and so we can acknowledge and be patient with others. i hope we are all able to recognize not only how much we have been given and treated kindly, but also how much we even think about other people. how do we value other people, and have a true and genuine compassion for them?

… does not the rain fall on both wealthy and poor? the righteous and the unrighteous? where will you be if it rains tomorrow? how can you affirm another precious, wild life in the midst of the storm?

namasté.
always.

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