Tag Archives: humanity

“This is an ex-parrot”, Hippocrates and Cancer

There are words received via text that shatter your heart.  Sent from a friend during their latest round of chemotherapy more than 5100 miles and multiple time zones away these are debilitating words. #notadamnthingIcando words. I respond to each line of text, being present without being physically there. In truth, it feels beyond inadequate. I want to jump on a plane and just sit next to him while he has these poisons dripped into his body via a port in his chest – and not only does he not want that, but I can’t. I scan hundreds of YouTube videos and send these as a possible lightening of spirit parrotor at least distraction but he can’t watch them because the noise in the room where he sits with other cancer patients is loud. Very loud. A man sitting someplace behind my friend was evidently screaming from the pain of his infusion for hours. The time before last a woman was bitching non-stop, unnerving everyone around her and especially her family.  (He survives this assault to the psyche earning platitudes from the son for his ability to crack jokes, and generally lighten the environment of suffering around him.)

The last time I was (physically) present to a chemotherapy session was more than sixteen years ago; the brother of my best friend, the uncle to her children, the husband of another dear friend and dad of three kids the youngest of whom was a toddler at the time, brother to another brother, uncle to his three kids, son, friend, et al. I haven’t been in the Beverly Hills Cancer Center (BHCC) to witness first-hand what I perceive as being the antithesis to luxury on which so much of Beverly Hills reputation rests but I was present at the Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong Memorial (Rochester, NY) and the contrast between the two care environments couldn’t be clearer to me.  Sixteen years ago Mike was surrounded by family and friends, shifts of love floating in and out of the room like sunbeams streaming through clouds, there was raucous camaraderie (he being a former Major League Baseball player, the baseball coach of the local Jesuit high school, a widely and much-beloved friend) and I recall at least six people being in the (memory driven) seemingly private room besides myself and Mike.  I could not tell you why I was there.  As Jeffrey describes it BHCC is a ‘factory’, 12 reclining chairs crammed into a single visually sterile room with half walls separating patients, everything everyone says can be heard by every other person in the room, all the bitchingmoaningandcomplaining, the comings and goings of the staff and their commentary.

I didn’t think of this last night as I responded to the texts, but I had two vastly different dreams about those treatment rooms after I went to bed. And it strikes me that the experiences of these two men hang not simply on the distance of years and geography but also insurance coverage.  Mike had robust private insurance and friends and family offsetting some of the costs, my friend Jeffrey was ‘covered’ by Molina Health as part of its participation in an Affordable Care Act Exchange.

The other component is two decades ago, regardless of the circumstances, we were as a nation and as individuals more compassionate toward one another.  That compassion manifest in Rochester in an environment that was calmer and more conducive to healing. The perception of Beverly Hills Cancer Center I have gained through my texts and conversations with Jeffrey reflects an odd dichotomy, on occasion extraordinary but all too often disconnected from the very compassion which Hippocrates advocated and swore to uphold. His first oncologist failed to speak a single word to him in the first nine hippocratesweeks after his diagnosis. His current oncologist, though certainly mending Jeffrey’s body and on a scale, infinitely more attentive, had the most outrageous response imaginable to Jeffrey expressing that he didn’t like the smell of his own burning flesh from the cauterizing knife used to install the port (replacing the defunct PICC line). My head is still reeling from the quote in the text I received on Thursday night.  Compassion. Seriously. Lacking. (Say nothing rather than do harm.)

It pains my heart, my psyche and every aspect of my humanity that Jeffrey’s experience is a mere glimpse into a state of being under-insured in the United States. That “the haves”, those with robust private insurance, and the “have-nots” relying upon a broken system commandeered by shareholder value are somehow less human, less entitled to care and more inclined to be denied basic human dignity, less likely to be approved for the very treatments that they need to get healthy despite paying the disproportionate percentages of their wages to have insurance.

Let’s be clear, as of 1 September my friend Jeffrey is no longer insured by Molina Health, his Screen Actors Guild Blue Cross and Blue Shield coverage went live at 12:01 AM. I think about something one of his doctors said about Molina Health’s consistent position to deny coverage first and then if the patient gets loud about it, or the doctor treating chooses to advocate on behalf of the patient, then approve and eventually pay out. This seems like a path to protecting golden parachutes and seven figure salaries and double or triple digit earnings; to me, this seems more like a Ponzi scheme than health insurance. This strips the humanity from Molina Health’s employees and isn’t a terribly efficient manner of running a company given the human resource cycles of answering phones and ensuing paperwork.

Societies have always been measured by how they care for their most vulnerable citizens, it’s clear we are failing. The three hundred year expansion, supreme dominion, the subsequent decline of the Roman Empire and the resulting Dark Ages seem as though they could be minor in contrast to whom we are becoming.  Maybe a tiny private room for receiving chemotherapy is insignificant in the grand scheme of things but the dignity such affords seems as important to healing illness as putting the ‘civil’ back in service.

This is the fourth instalment in my series on having cancer in America.

 

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 
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This is “Matt”. Matt is Every Single One of Us.

Jeff

This is “Matt”. Matt is the guy down the street whose kid plays Little League with yours.  He is courteous and helpful.  So, of course, he works at getting your ‘shades of blue’ reconciled in the paint department at Lowe’s.  Matt could be your neighbor, or you.  The truth is that Matt is every single one of us.  “Matt” is actually my friend Jeffrey, an actor living in Los Angeles, a very funny comedian, an intellectual pundit (when he chooses to be) and a man with a laugh that fills rooms with joy.  Jeffrey has been diagnosed with cancer, stage 2 lymphoma to be precise, and at present he is being squeezed in the middle like a tube of toothpaste by a grossly negligent ‘system’ and the people employed by it who have zero sense of humanity. I am mad as Hell over all of it.

The name of his insurance company matters, it’s Molina Health.  With ‘our’ shareholder, profit-driven, horribly broken, healthcare system in the United States the truth is that what is happening to Jeffrey could happen to any of us and our loved ones. It also matters that his insurance company hangs up on him. It matters that the administrative staff tell him that his premium will quadruple if he ‘wants’ home care for changing the dressing on the tube sticking out of his arm (sepsis being a real possibility) where he is hooked up to receive his chemo. It matters that I escalate and help seems imminent only to have some drone of an administrative staff person deflect and say it will take two weeks. It matters that appointments are made and cancelled due to software, and human errors and then the humans charged with delivering this news are devoid of humanity. It matters because the stress of dealing with getting healthy on your own (even with a supportive tribe) is enormous. It matters that his first oncologist failed to speak a single word to him in the nine weeks immediately following his diagnosis and never prescribed anti-nausea pills with the host of others which he did prescribe.  Jeffrey’s second oncologist is amazing. Despite the fact that I am a non-relation he has taken my call to problem solve aspects related to Jeffrey’s treatment from Sweden where I am currently.

Which brings me to two components of the health insurance storyline in the United States; employer supported efforts like those which “Matt” as an employee of Lowe’s enjoys (really amazing benefits which should prompt all of you reading this to vote with your wallet and shop at your local Lowe’s ‘just because’) and the idea of a single-payer system such as our Canadian neighbors and those in the Nordics enjoy. On this day, with TrumpCare effectively dead, the reality of a single-payer health care system in the United States has risen like Fawkes in Harry Potter.

Let me remove any ambiguity, I have a couple of issues with the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) but neither have to do with the fact that it came to fruition under our 44th President; the first is that it didn’t go far enough and the second being its mandate to be purchased under penalty.  If we have sufficient financial resources to wage seemingly endless war across the planet then Americans of every stripe should have universal healthcare on par with what our federally elected officials enjoy. And if that can’t be done then our elected officials should have that benefit voided.

How do we get to a single-payer health care system to the universal benefit of 330 million Americans and put the United States on par with other first world nations? Well, California, where my friend Jeffrey lives, ever the ‘test the water’ state for public policy adoption has a viable solution called The Healthy California Act. Evidently this legislation has broad support on both sides of the political aisle in La-La Land but one man has blocked it from advancing, and there is a reason for that. Actually there are about 475,000 reasons in the form of contributions from the Political Action Committees of health insurance companies and their executives to Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Redon re-election campaign.  Redon is a perfect example of the systemic violation of the masses by a corrupt politician bought and paid for by the highest bidders for his favor.

SB-562 The Healthy California Act.

The passage of a single-payer system in California, or nationally, wouldn’t put insurers out of business but the resulting shifts in the market would demand agility that insurance companies are not generally known to possess. A model which offers premium coverage in lieu of, or as a supplement to, a single-payer system would still provide considerable revenue – with a healthier demographic contributing to shareholder value.  Policies which would allow customers choices in taking advantage of medical tourism opportunities around the world should also be considered. The increasing perception of health insurers places them at odds with the humankind they are supposed to be serving – essentially sentencing their policy holders to death when costs become inconvenient and expensive. When we make a conscious choice to deny protection and participation by our most vulnerable we can no longer claim to be an advanced or civil society. The costs are too high when we lose our compassion and willingness to step forward and be part of the solution rather than remain part of the problem.

Critically we need to dislodge ourselves from the ‘us vs. them’ mindset that is so pervasive in any conversation about health insurance, healthcare and providing a path forward for all of our citizens. Universal peace of mind around the most fragile aspect of living our lives fully and completely should not even be a question in 2017.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

 

 

What light will be found?

better humanIt’s been a horrible three weeks for humanity starting with the Médecins Sans Frontières bombing in Kunduz, followed by the terrors unleashed in Beirut, Paris, and Baghdad. Senseless death. Lives destroyed. Borders closed. Hearts closed.

My business partner took the scope of ‘this’ and thoughtfully addressed being sensitive on social media in the face of tragedy on his weekly radio show this last week. I invite you to listen to the podcast for some very practical advice on being a better human being in our ever connected world. Starting at the 5:00 time-stamp mark and proceeding through the 20:00 mark Ken offers a list of seven to-do’s 1) pull the plug on automated posting 2) go silent 3) briefly acknowledge what has happened with compassion 4) share links to most credible relief organisations 5) gradual re-engagement 6) avoid perception of opportunism and finally 7) do not hijack a tragedy based hashtag for commercial gain.

My words will take a different focus, the same focus offered by Antoine Leiris, the same focus of four best friends from around the world whose #LoveOverFear efforts in the Montreal Metro made me weep. I sit here writing while listening to 50 of the most beautiful Adagios ever composed. I haven’t written since 7 November, a shockingly long being humantime for my fingers to be idle of creative energy. While talking heads have cast aspersions and spewed hateful rhetoric, the respect I have for all who have been lost demanded my silence. I took time to offer ‘light’ in the minute tasks of daily life. I recognize that I didn’t bleed. I still live. While my heart shatters in ever smaller pieces I am reminded:

French-boy“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

As is often the case, God has been used as an excuse. You know what? God isn’t on the side of evil. “God” would never have us kill in His/Her name. God is Unitarian. God is Agnostic. God doesn’t have a denomination of preference. God is neither yours exclusively, nor mine. Whatever you believe God does not condone your taking a life – any life.

I am simultaneously embarrassed and disgusted by fear-mongering politicians (I am not alone) who are systematically destroying any chance to provide child-sleeping-on-rocknormalcy for terrified children and their families who have lost everything that they know and understand – right down to the pillows under their small heads. We are segmented by artificial differences and it makes me sick.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Candles. Flowers. Vigils. Borders opened. Hearts flung open.

Eiffel tower“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

Unless of course you are viewed with contempt for the simple reason that the colour of skin is less white, whose God – though the same – has a different Prophet than those making decisions. Those whose own paranoid fears incite hateful behaviours in others are the grand manipulators of our society and those suffering from mental illness are perfectly sane in contrast.

Exactly 700 years ago, England’s King John, younger brother of Richard the Lionhearted, exacted a wholesale slaughter of the citizens of his realm. (It should sound strikingly familiar against what is happening in Syria.) Innocents caught in the machinations of massive debt, madness and ineptitude, which paved the way for the occupation of England in what was nearly a second Norman Conquest. Eventually light was let into this darkness in the creation of the Magna Carta.  Why have we learned absolutely nothing from history? Or perhaps the question now is what ‘light’ will come from the daily terrors our world is experiencing now?

Nostradamus certainly prophesied the chaos we are now living 500 years ago. Every single thought, every action each of us takes us closer to either catastrophic global destruction or realignment in the light.

“When one takes action for others, one’s own suffering is transformed into the energy that can keep one moving forward; a light of hope illuminating a new tomorrow for oneself and others is kindled.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda

Under normal circumstances I would close with a suggestion that if you liked my post that you send me the value of a cup of tea via PayPal – don’t do that. If this post found resonance for you please send the cost of a cup of tea to the Malala Fund. Thank you.

 

Telling stories, witnessing history.

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Un-retouched fresco from St. Anton

From the beginning of human history we have told stories with pictures. Our oral history made physical to share with more people, and future generations. With clays, charcoal, plant extracts on cave walls, on animal skins, on wood, and fiber woven from all manner of plants our stories vibrant in their youth and then fading with time, or in some instances covered with the works of later generations as newer stories take on greater importance in their telling. Do we even consider the overwriting of our collective stories?  I have been in the “smallest town in the world” of Hum and its slightly larger neighbor Roč in Istra, Croatia the last couple of days and nowhere have our stories and history collided so immediately before my eyes as here.

Before general populations possessed literacy the Church (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) hired talented artists to adorn the walls of their Romanesque (and earlier) houses of God with the most 20150825_111821important lessons a particular bishopric wish to convey to its flock. Ascension. Damnation. The merits of living a pious life. Bearing witness to the horrific deaths of its martyrs. The lives of Saints. With this key (and others just like it) Jelena of the Roč Tourist Board (if so motivated to visit go through Mila in the Buzet TB to arrange) opened up its churches for me.

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Un-retouched image from Saint Roč

Missal

Prepared in Roč, Glagoljica script was used for the Missal printed in 1483.

I am not a art historian. I am not a devout Catholic. What I am is curious and passionate about our collective cultural heritage and its preservation. In particular as we watch ISIS destroy the heritage of the cradle of civilisation it seems a race against time for us to stand physically before our cultural lineage. So sharing something so incredibly special is an honour for me and in sharing it I hope you do visit Istra, Croatia and experience the stunning beauty of these 800 year old frescoes in person. Three layers of frescoes (until recently it was thought there were only two – surprise!) adorn the nave of the Saint Roch nothing prepares you for the door of it to be opened, and literally step back to 13th century. Also requiring a keyholder in Roč is the Church of Saint Anton, and main church (for services) is the massive Saint Bartholomew (Crkva svetog Bartula).  For me, it would have been enough to come to Roč to see these but a trip to Hum is well worth staying two nights in the area to explore both towns. Why? Concurrent with the development of these beautiful frescoes was the formal creation of the Glagolitic script (not an alphabet, but an azbuka – the names of the first two letters of the script ) commonly referred to as ‘Old Church Slavonic’ which is the oldest of any Slavic script used for the translation of the Bible and Roč became the centre of this effort. To understand more of the origins of Glagolitic script, and the original practices of faith of what is now Croatia please take time to read this marvelous blog post by Gordana Kokić.

Each year at the end of June 60 exceptional 6th grade Croatian students are brought to Roč to study Glagolitic in a course called “The Small Glagolitic Academy”. My heart soared to learn that something well over 1000 years old is being honoured and still being taught.

On the main road between Roč and Hum is “Glagolitic Alley”. Eleven different sculptures (ten of stone, one of copper) are set into the midst of the Istrian landscape. Reverence for 20150825_115958Istra’s cultural heritage that inspires those of us drawn here to Terra Magica for reasons we can’t fully comprehend.

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Made in Croatia, characters of the Glagoljica script in Hum.

Our stories start with something we experience, something common or extraordinary that we feel compelled to capture by putting a single letter onto a blank page. Humankind hasn’t changed so very much since using charcoal on a cave wall. Our letters, one at a time form the basis of painting the picture of our experiences with words.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Living in Holocene – Days Like These

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”                                                 ~ Psalms 90:10 King James Bible, Cambridge Edition

Hennaed hands, a mass of humanity – utterly naked adorned but in red dye as a piece of performance art by Spencer Tunick, mudder races, the exhilaration of the Hindu festival of Holi (Festival of Colours) – even when things appear the same, they are so very different; hennaalmost imperceptible subtleties, we are all united in the common human experience. Our joys and happiness have depth and shallowness, clarity, lingering as memories, captured in images, put in frames, or as a ‘picture memory’ indelible to ravages of time; the passage of each day a special gift to appreciate, or squander, life happens, even if you choose to be observant you are magically, exquisitely, ‘in it’.

I walked to meet a girlfriend and her fiancé this afternoon, shared a Magic Hat beer called Séance – the darkest carbonated alcoholic beverage I have ever consumed (it was delicious) – watched the tiniest bit of the (American) football game, the pretext to get together so I could hear her wedding plans, see “the ring” and then walked the mile plus back home. On my return there were nine, nearly identical, small radio operated model yacht raced a course around five buoys in the pond of the park, the breeze lifted as I sat at the picnic table wet with remnants of the mornings’ heavy rain, darkening grey moved quickly across the sky and I thought of Tunick’s installation art as it had been shared via Facebook earlier in the day. I had, in turn, shared and responded:

“I think this is less about holieach person finding their niche as it is THE PERFECT representation of how we are all joined by our common existence, made of precisely the same “stuff” with minor outward physical difference (in this performance art by Spencer Tunick – he has negated even those differences to the extent possible – exquisitely leveling us in our humanity)! BREATHTAKING, thank you for sharing – I feel inspired to play with more words as result. ox, Te”

I thought of Tunick’s vision again as I was just about to clear the park, we’ve had snow (albeit a very small amount) in the city in which I live and, yet, here was an apple tree still holding all of its fruit – small green apples (yes, I filled my purse to nearly overflowing with them) – tunickagain, common in their experience and nearly identical in appearance. How many people had even noticed the tree? You can be certain that plenty of people driving their cars took notice of a woman in a skirt picking these apples! The Holocene, in geological terms, commenced with the gradual warming of the earth, within it is all the written history of the human species and places (“urban”) that have been continuously inhabited for nearly 12,000 years. We don’t think of our four score and ten in our youth, perhaps not even as our middling years encroach on our passions, but the underlying messages of the songs embedded in this post (thank you Bon Iver and Die Toten Hosen) which I have united to form the title of this post, for me, amplify and echo our lives  – spent in community and in solitude.

Necessary to our health, we must celebrate, make time for now so we have a long view of miles and miles and miles to recognise with contented sighs at the end of our days…

Marijan, thank you for ‘starting some of my sentences’ for me!

If you enjoy my blog please consider “buying me a cup of tea” in your currency to me via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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From darkness to light – lessons in living well

This is part of what my horoscope said today (thanks so Servane!): “Should your mood evolve further into dark reflections or doomsdayish daydreams, your best antidote is to step back Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Imagesand unashamedly laugh at your own melodramatic tendencies. The dark will always be here, periodically shadowing the light with its ever-impending scythe of mortal impermanence. Greet it, then: ‘Hello, there, dark. No, I haven’t forgotten you’re lurking. I just already have plans to be stupid and silly and rebelliously not-serious for this next little while. I’ll get back to you when my schedule permits. Later, dude.’”

I have to admit that even my friend Ken called me out on my “last post as being heavy” but tornado rainbowtoday we’re going to an inspiring and happy place, a place where deeds are based in fairness and personal integrity, an awe inspiring place where double rainbows come out and bird song accompanies symphonic compositions devoid of painful dissonance, and beauty clears away the dark ugliness that is draining all of us.

A year and a half ago a cross-country race was being run in Burlada, Navarre. Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was running second, some distance behind race leader Kenyan Abel Mutai – the bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics – who mistakenly pulled up 10 metres ivanfernandezshy of the finish line, presumably thinking he had already crossed. Fernández Anaya could have easily exploited Mutai’s mistake to claim victory yet he guided the latter to let him cross first. That Fernandez Anaya is 24 years old is only important in the possibilities of his examples of good conduct will offer all of us in the future. His words after the race resonate in a sportsmanship all too lacking in contemporary society: “But even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn’t have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”

And so I dug around the life moment playground known as YouTube for other examples of gut wrenching, heart tugging personal integrity and humanity (shedding lots of good tears in the process) and offer you these three additional videos:
This, from the Barcelona Olympics and this one from a football (soccer) match between teams in the Ukrainian Premier League and this one, not of sports but of a boy in Oslo, Norway and ‘just like the rest of us’ Norwegians doing the right thing (and some clearly not).

We think heroism is a vague concept assigned to people with larger than life lives – that’s not respecttrue, each of us are extraordinary in our own way, and the tiniest gestures have impact – the pebble in the pond of goodness.  My friend Servane, in one of her TEDx Talks here, says something really important – something easy to remember and act within –  “Love is a political weapon.” (Whoa), and because of her words I thought of this meme that is making its rounds, of another athlete doing something political because he and his teammates see the suffering in Gaza and can make a grand gesture to draw attention to the plight ordinary Palestinians experience everyday – even as we all know that $9 Million USD is a drop of water against a desert of despair caused by Israel’s apartheid policies.

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@albapro/Instagram

Fernandez Anaya mentioned the future gains for his name in the context of branding in his post race interview but in the visceral moment doing the right thing wasn’t a strategic business decision of “if I do this, I will get that” but humanity shining through brightly like a beacon of hope, of kindness, of how we wish to be treated and simply doing. It was the 4th of July in the United States yesterday – the celebration of our nation’s birth (something like the Arab Spring but 238 years ago).  The last line of the Declaration of Independence reads: “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” The best that we as Americans once had to offer the world were these ideals, every man, woman and child across the human experience should be free from ignorance and self indulgence, the destruction of our world and each other from greed, anger and fear. So today, (and tomorrow and all the next days after those) no matter where you call home, no matter where you aspire to live remember that without our mutually pledging to each other our lives we should not think ourselves as living well but merely existing.  To whatever God to whom you pray may s/he watch over and keep you in the light.

If you enjoy my blog please consider “buying me a cup of tea” in your currency via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal and please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Eh gads, I am a Feminist?

I very clearly recall a conversation between my parents at the dinner table in the late 60s or very early 70s. My brother and I were in school all day at this point, and while my mother mandingohad an expansive vegetable garden to tend,  and read novels like, oh gawd, Mandingo (I remember sneaking a page and being mortified of the vivid description of a rather endowed man’s anatomy), she also sewed, baked and cooked, but she wanted to get a little part time job at the local pharmacy as a cashier, to have her own money and get out of the house. My father told her in no uncertain terms that if she went to work “it will put us into a different tax bracket” and that was the end of the discussion.  (Lord knows she’s never expressed her opinions to his face in 54 years of marriage. )

It’s notable that my father’s favorite TV show of this time was All in the Family, the parody of a ultra-bigoted, racist and sexist man, a man all too literally sitting at my kitchen table each evening. It pains my heart that, as so archiemany of you reading this will attest, the telling line of the theme song “guys like us we had it made” reflecting a nostalgia for a different time when women stayed home (like my mother) is still with us and our collective humanity. And “angry old white guys” are making things difficult and ugly for so many because the world as they would like it to be doesn’t exist – exerting excessive control, spouting abhorrent rhetoric, always seems to escalate when this segment of society feels threatened. (My father peeled rubber down the driveway throwing gravel, stormed out of rooms with the toss of his chair, or gave you ‘the look’ whenever he was challenged or somehow something anyone else knew and expressed was contrary to his closely held view.)

Growing up in a childhood environment such as this, and with all the ills that remain for women to fight against even to this day, how is it that I have not actively and passionately embrace this moniker until recently?

I mean at 12 I was having a conversation about Roe v Wade with my priest and I have struggled against the barriers to equal pay throughout adulthood, the mere idea of human trafficking makes me quiver with angerHumanTraffickingMythbusterPOSTER, and yet it took a social media chat with a man of Latin heritage who can claim serious credibility in “enlightenment” to push me over the edge and realise, I AM A FEMINIST! (if you aren’t also you need to watch this video from the brilliant Lacy Green.)

This ‘title’ doesn’t feel authentic to me yet (there are women and men I know that truly fight the good fight every day, utterly committed, and they are damn loud about it) but (for clarity, just now) I called up Merriam-Webster online and according to their site feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”, who wouldn’t want that? (Okay, other than the Republican Party in the United States and the ultra-Orthodox of any and all religions.) Feminism, in case you reading this were unaware, actually traces its roots back to the age of Enlightenment and the hero of said movement Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My claim to being a feminist came about because the aforementioned man posted an image on his Facebook wall entitled ‘Tennis Sweets’ (not a reference point to Sugarpova) which  featured a nubile young woman in (ridiculously) high heels, the shortest white pleated tennis skirt imaginable, lace panties, no shirt, no bra and a white sweater draped in such a way as to just cover her nipples. This was in such a stark contrast the Universalist mindset of love he had presented that I was compelled to call him out on it, and he responded that he took it down but not for me (okay, fine, whatever).

gender is not between your legsWhat’s odd is that in his posting the image he did me a huge favour, so I thanked him and expressed: “my reaction told me something I didn’t truly realise about myself – eh gads, I am a Feminist!”

And then he wrote: “That’s not healthy… Be human first… Your sex is not you…”

If you think about it, this is kind of funny because the image that prompted this personal discovery for me was about sex, a woman’s sex, and objectifying her rather than seeing her ‘in fullness of being’; and that has ALWAYS been an issue for me, the objectification. (How one woman balanced the ‘creepy man syndrome’ – do click thru, it’s brilliant!)

Equally so, I suppose, is the assumption that he made earlier (and men often make) that unless a woman has a partner, a lover, a man, there is something wrong (with her). Because despite the fact that he freely acknowledged my “great soul” and later in our text conversation wrote “enlightenment will disable all thoughts of need of equality between man and woman.. That’s my point… I believe your higher then you believe so…” he had pointedly asked: “How you survive the nights? in terms of sex? or companionship? You have a active lover?”

sadhuSigh. So even when we have reached a higher level of consciousness, our souls having a human experience, it ever comes down to ‘who are you spending your nights with’? And if you aren’t spending your nights with someone that somehow either makes you a freak, diminishes you in the eyes of humanity or evokes pity. Does anyone express such about monks, nuns and sadhus?

So let me be clear, Madison Kimrey is the kind of chutzpah packing feminist I wish I was and she’s not yet 13 years old (I sincerely hope no one is asking her who she is spending her nights with)! I absolutely love that she has taken on uber-conservative Phyllis Schlafly  in the common ground of a bra to eloquently express that equality really means having choices. My choice, as a woman and as a feminist, and more accurately as an evolved soul having a human experience, is not to share my bed simply for the sake of doing so.  The energy in the sacred sanctuary of our sleep needs to be nurturing, protective, harmonious, inclusive and yes equal – and I am unapologetic about abstinence and exclusion until I find that singular person unquestionably worthy of aligning all of my chakras as I take responsibility for the care of his.  

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There will be consequences for your stupidity! 😉

In the meantime there’s something to be said for being a feminist, a humanist, a mindful sensualist and for not suffering fools. (Yes, I unfriended the Latin man. )

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