Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why I left the South - or better yet - Why I love the Northwest!

I'm one step closer to completing my Masters in Library and Information Science. Each quarter I journey up to Seattle for a few days to meet my instructors and fellow students in each class. The rest of my coursework is done via the computer so I can stay home in the awesome but wet city of Portland.
If logisticaly possible I take Amtrak up, use a taxi to the hotel and then the hotel shuttle back to the train station. It's longer than driving, but easier on the nerves and the environment.
After spending two days will my fellow student librarians I felt energized and refreshed. The cohort is progressive, diverse, and dedicated to life-long learning. Not unlike the attitudes generally encountered in the Pacific NorthWest. Sometimes it's easy to forget there are other people out there that don't see things so clearly. Segue to my shuttle back to the train terminal.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Child Honouring

As a child growing up in a Christian home I was continuously reminded that it was my duty to honor my parents - in other words - whatever they asked of me I had to do or else...
Our country has endured many generations of this type of child raising. As a result we have some of the highest rates of incarceration, drug use, poverty, single parent families, child abuse, domestic abuse - you name it, America has it in spades. I know that many people out there want to blame the liberals, the blacks, the Hispanics, the Latinos, the gays, the lesbians, the cats, and the dogs. But the simple fact is that we made this mess ourselves by adhering to a philosophy that puts money ahead of all else. Why do so many kids not have health care? Because we've allowed corporations to take over our health. Why are kids in daycares for 9 and 10 hours a day? Because single parents have to work, spending up to half their wages on the daycare. Why are our children suffering from depression and becoming overweight? Because they live in a world that doesn't see them, where they are left prey to advertising that tells them what they need to be happy and fast food in their schools that pumps them full of sugars and fats. And if a family can't make it? If a child is abused? If a child is neglected? Then it was obviously the mother's fault - or the father if he's still around.
My childhood sucked! I survived sexual, physical, mental and drug abuse. It's taken me decades to become whole again. What's worse is knowing my story isn't the unusual one. 1 in 4 women in America are sexually molested by a family member, primarily fathers and stepfathers, by the age of 18. I refuse to stand by and watch other children endure what I did. I now have a 3 year old daughter and I teach Sunday School at my UU church. As a teacher I've discovered the music and philosophies of Raffi. He's recently introduced his idea of "child honouring". And what a great idea! Instead of honoring adults (not including our sage seniors) we honor the youngest of our society. If we adopt his ideas fewer children would endure what I did and the planet would begin to heal.
What an extraordinary idea - to "organize society around the needs of its youngest members". This requires we treat our children like the creative and amazing beings that they are. It would change our habits at the core. It insists that we have affordable and well-trained child care facilities. It requires that our child care workers be paid in accordance to the vital role they play in our society. It suggests that we learn to live sustainably, detoxifying our environment for the health of our young. Raffi discusses his ideas eloquently and fully at his website.
I encourage all those with dedication to healing our lives and our planet to visit Raffi's site and covenant with us to honor our children.

Race for the Cure

Tomorrow, Sunday September 23,2007, Portland will run its annual race for the cure. I'll be teaching so I won't be participating, but my heart and thoughts will be with the 40,541 registered participants walking, running and enjoying a beautiful September morning in Portland. I've lost two aunts to this disease and as many women I live in constant vigilance, fearing its darkness in my life. I've had three close scares with this disease. Tomorrow, as I look into the bright eyes of my 1st and 2nd graders, I'll be thinking of the amazing journeys that they are beginning and hoping that none of them will ever have to endure chemotherapy or to watch someone they love die piecewise by this disease. Next year I'll make sure to be in that race.

I'll also be thinking of my favorite songwriter/singer, Melissa Etheridge and her bravery as she's come out to her public, shared her pains and joys, showed the world the heights of lesbian parenthood and the hurt when a relationship ends, and then appearing bald headed at the Grammy's to belt out the music of Janis Joplin with more passion than I've ever heard it before. And now, Melissa continues to invite us on her journey through her tremendous songwriting ability. As I teach my class tomorrow, know that I'm with all my sisters as they race for the cure.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Is God a Terrorist?

State Sen. Ernie Chambers in Nebraska has sued God. God is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. And on the Senator's side is the Bible, with countless atrocities that God takes full credit for. He has not only supported genocide, child murder, gang rape or innocent girls, but also eventual Armageddon for us all.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Covenant Groups

In the Unitarian Universalist churches there exists small groups that meet 2 times a month to dig deeply into topics that aren't part of the normal Sunday service. These discussions allow us to share our journeys with each other. They can become like family due to the intimacy of the sharing. In my first covenant group I was the youngest member at age 37. The oldest member was 97. She's still smiling and spreading joy to all she meets. This particular group saw me through pregnancy and the birth of my only child. Their stories have given me a solid base to build my positive attitude toward parenting as a single mother. But today I learned of the peaceful passing of one of our members.

Frank, in his eighties, was full of energy and compassion for the people around him. He and his wife were in our group. They were "in love". This was not the first marriage for either, but it was THE marriage of a lifetime. And their love extended well beyond the boundaries of their lives together. They were active in the church, which involves being active in the community and the world. His sense of humor and his smile would put you at ease, and immediately infect you with just such a smile. The same holds true for Ellen.

My thoughts are with her tonight. As I've enjoyed my Labor Day Holiday, celebrating with new friends, my thoughts have been with Ellen and my covenant group. I feel an emptiness knowing he's no longer here, yet I know Ellen's empty place must be so much more. I'll light a candle for her this Sunday and send her my love. I'll always cherish the kind words and stories that they shared with me.

Thank you Frank, you are well loved and remembered.