‘scuse me while I kiss the sky…

Happy Thanksgiving from my neighborhood to yours!

Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky

—Jimi Hendrix

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Be well. Stay safe.

navigating uncertainty…

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
…live in the question.”

―Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

metabolizing generational trauma…

“Once the seduction of taming and conquering never seen western lands took root, homesteading men must’ve been often blinded by their brave proclamation. The planning of their upcoming adventure, I suspect left little room for dissent of any kind. Homesteading wives just had to get on board, regardless of any fears or sorrow they felt about leaving everything familiar behind. They did what determined women have always done throughout history, they relied on their ability to make something out of nothing

It seems likely to me, the descendants of homesteaders just might hold some ancestral unsettling, some vague restlessness of that migratory gamble. I know I feel some ancient unsettling myself, and I always have.”

Excerpt from Personal Homesteading—a work in progress

Resmaa Menakem’s book My Grandmother’s Hands has confirmed many feelings I’ve had about generational trauma make sense to me. I’ve often wondered how my ancestor’s emotional landscapes have affected me. I don’t want to be at the mercy of emotions that were never mine in the first place—and now have lost any appropriate context. Sorry prairie ancestors, it’s time to cut you loose.

“trauma is also a wordless story our body tells itself about what is safe and what is a threat.”

―Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands

“All of this suggests that one of the best things each of us can do—not only for ourselves, but also for our children and grandchildren—is to metabolize our pain and heal our trauma. When we heal and make more room for growth in our nervous systems, we have a better chance of spreading our emotional health to our descendants, via healthy DNA expression. In contrast, when we don’t address our trauma, we may pass it on to future generations, along with some of our fear, constriction, and dirty pain.”

—Resmaa Menakem

We all possess some generational trauma to varying degrees. Right now our collective unhealed traumas could be part of what’s tearing families, communities, and our nation apart. I believe we can heal by learning ways to let trauma move through our bodies (metabolize it) and not keep us in a perpetually hypervigilant, anxious (fearful), and distrustful state of being. I’m an optimist AND a realist. I believe we can heal AND it’s gonna take a lot of heart, humility, and hard work.

how has COVID19 affected you?

I live in Vermont. We’ve been mostly compliant with what our leadership has recommended for our health. We’ve felt a strong sense of being in this very difficult and unusual time together.

NOTE: Vermont has a republican governor and I doubt Vermonters will shift course this November either. Governor Scott’s messaging about the pandemic has been consistent and based on science, not ideology.

Covid cases are surging all over the world. Our children and young adults are going to school online in front of computers all day long, every parent’s nightmare. We’ve lost 222,157 Americans as of this morning, COVID19 cases and hospitalization rates are rising in many states.

Unnecessarily millions of people are out of work, evicted or about to be evicted. Businesses have shuttered. Our first responders are exhausted, have held phones for families to say goodbye to loved ones and lost their lives too. Scientists are vilified. Family and friends are divided and fighting over a highly contagious virus that has affected everyone in the world in some way or another…and yet, even our health is highly political.

Why? What’s been gained? Lost?

This documentary is available for streaming—watch the short trailer here:

“Lies don’t end relationships the truth does.”
―Shannon L. Alder

I’m a bit shaky as I write this and I know it might upset many people. I’m posting the link to Totally Under Control because I think it’s the right thing to do right now. My own family hasn’t been immune to division & separation during this administration, and it’s all quite heartbreaking. This isn’t politics as usual. I hope we can at least agree on that.

Breathe. Be the bubble. Repeat.

anxiety is contagious just like COVID19…

The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. Source: CDC.gov

The principal mode by which people can be infected with ANXIETY (FEAR) is through repeated exposure to someone carrying ANXIOUS & UNSETTLED ENERGY.

anxiety:  apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill

anxiety (medical)an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.

Source: Merriam Webster

I don’t want community spread of my free-floating (airborne) anxiety and I don’t want to pick up the anxiety of others either. Not infecting those I’m in contact with is my desired outcome.

When I feel that anxiousness rising, thinking about something calm helps me tremendously. Noticing takes a lot of deliberate & regular practice. I’m trying to be patient with myself while I’m in training.

Do you catch my drift?

As M.A.S.H.’s, Hawkeye famously replied in season 2 episode 15, “I played Left Drift in high school”.

Ah, I miss you Dad. 💜

When I manage to notice & slow down (breathe here) then my anxiety can be observed, treated, and antibodies are given a chance to grow into healthy protective cells.

Me

I’ve discovered a quick visual when I feel my discomfort rising—the bubble in a level…a vintage, weathered flea market level of course. If I’m able to level myself even a little bit, I can stop or at least slow the spread of my contagious anxiety.

Notice how this level is a bit higher on the right side? The table wasn’t even, I had to make a few quick adjustments to get the bubble centered…catch my drift?

I’m trying to be the bubble.

the beauty of garbage?

This summer I spent a lot of early mornings walking Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Mass picking up garbage. What started July 5th as a way to make the weekend better for everyone turned into something else.

Late in August, I wanted to sleep in, but I realized that I had really habituated or even ritualized my beach clean-up. I had become obsessive. I panicked that if I didn’t pick up garbage that day some kid could cut their foot and ruin their family’s much-needed vacation, or people would think Town Neck is a gross beach and not want to return.

My hypothetical thoughts raced. This wasn’t actually my job. I decided I had to take the day off, I was getting a little weird about it all.

Looking back at my summer now, I’m really proud of what I did. I felt purposeful in a time of American life that feels so surreal. I was thanked by many other sunrise beach walkers. I met some really interesting people. And as a photographer, the light was just so gorgeous every single day sun or fog or in-between. I found a lot of shovels and toys, but of course people are naturally leery about picking up things like that now.

These photos may make some people disappointed in humanity, but rest assured all of these items were picked up and saved from polluting the ocean during the next high tide. Now, on to the streets of Burlington, Vermont.

fog, children’s literature & generosity on Town Neck…

In light of all of the health, social, fiscal, educational, environmental, and political upheaval there still is so much goodness in the world. As I write this post, my friend/next door is trying to fix my bike. Thank you Pete. I’m truly grateful.

Earlier this morning while walking Town Neck Beach I struck up a conversation with a fellow fog appreciator. We chatted and I learned that after years in the restaurant industry he wrote a children’s book titled, A New Day for Cray. He told me the basics of the story, it sounded full of heart, empathy, and healthy boundaries…so many things I appreciate.

We introduced ourselves, our Instagram handles anyway. Nice to meet you G Pa Rhymes (aka Gary Wakstein) children’s book author, poet, and beat make, on Instagram, I’m Dakota1966.

As we walked toward the parking lot to get away from nagging bugs, he read me a brief piece he wrote on November 10, 2016. I told him I would purchase a copy of the book for my great-nephew, Liam at Titcomb’s in East Sandwich.

He reached into his car and handed me a signed copy.

I walked home smiling, reading A New Day for Cray ready for breakfast/coffee, inspired by this story about friendship and adapting to inevitable changes that life deal every single one of us.

Nice to meet you, G Pa Rhymes. Keep up the good work, your next story sounds quite close to my heart too. The illustrative work of Erica Leigh so well personifies the characters, Cray has quite an evolution throughout the book, you can see it in his eyes. Check out social media links below.

G Pa Rhymes/Gary Wakstein

https://www.facebook.com/gparhymes/

https://www.instagram.com/gparhymes/?hl=en

Illustrator Erica Leigh

https://www.facebook.com/ericaleighart/?ref=py_c

Titcomb’s Book Store, East Sandwich, Mass

https://www.titcombsbookshop.com/

oh, what a complicated web we weave…

This morning a man in his 60s walked past me and I pointed the spiderwebs out to him. To me they would’ve been really hard to miss, and yet he hadn’t noticed. He was so struck by their beauty and quickly started taking pictures. He told me that he couldn’t wait to show the photos to his wife. He thanked me for pointing them out to him and walked over the boardwalk.

As I walked up the hill I passed another man, about the same age walking two little dogs. I said hello and mentioned that if he’s heading toward the boardwalk there are spiderwebs everywhere and they are so remarkable. He barely looked up and said one word to me, “disgusting”.

I thought about the stark differences of these two men. They were about the same age and visiting or living in the same area. I’m not going to make any assumptions here—not publicly anyway. However, if intellectual curiosity is a sign of open-mindedness, well…I know who I would prefer to hang out with if given the choice.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
― E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

a sunrise walk with my Dad…

This morning I awakened at about the time I got the call from my sister two years ago letting me know that our father had died. I get up early, not usually in the 4 o’clock hour though.

I wasn’t surprised I stirred early today with Dad on my mind. I got up, quietly pulled on yesterday’s clothes, and waited for the clock on the stove to say 5:00 before I made my coffee. I sat outside and watched the sun begin to rise over the Cape Cod Bay.

My Dad was not an early riser, definitely more of a sunset guy but he would’ve appreciated my sunrise images, especially the coyote tracks in the sand and my obsession with them now.

The coyote is the mascot of my Dad’s much-loved, alma mater—the University of South Dakota. GO YOTES!

A few days before Dad died I called to tell him that Jeff and I got stung by jellyfish while on a kayak excursion. We were FaceTiming so I showed him the welts on my arms and described the way they stung…sort of electric-like if my memory serves me correctly. I had a flight booked to come see him in a few days so we kept our call short.

This morning I remembered a song Dad used to sing to me:

Lisa, Lisa I’ve been thinkin’

what a fine world this would be,

if all the Lisa’s were transported…

far beyond the northern sea.

I miss you Dad, thanks for the company this morning.

fear, obligation, and guilt…

The acronym FOG—Fear, Obligation, and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You.

I have loved fog since I was a child, my favorite weather phenomenon by far. What I find so alluring and mysterious about fog is what’s UNSEEN. That’s precisely why I find this the perfect acronym for these complex and often confusing emotions.

We don’t know what’s happening around us until the sun burns away what’s obscured from our vision and then we’re able to gain more clarity.

Fear is a mental process that that triggers a physical response in humans when confronted by a threat.

Obligation comes from an innate sense of community responsibility. We are born with an instinctive sense of obligation to those around us.

Guilt comes from the same root as obligation. Most of us feel guilt when we do something that we think hurts others or disappoints of others.

Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win the pay-off they want: our compliance.”

Source: Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You

When someone is trapped in the FOG of an unhealthy relationship, a common method of control is the use of gaslighting.

Gaslighting deploys often repeated phrases and makes us doubt our own beliefs, even when there’s overwhelming and well-documented information to the contrary.

Here’s an example of gaslighting: The world-wide virus, Covid19 is a Hoax, a Plandemic designed to make this administration look bad before the 2020 election.

This can’t possibly be true—173,000 people in America have died so far from the virus and 1000 Americans are dying every day. Being told repeatedly that the US is managing the virus better than most other countries is false, often repeated, and done deliberately to make people doubt the well-documented reality that the virus is ravaging our nation on so many levels. There were protocols in place for how to manage a likely pandemic. They have been ignored by the Trump administration.

NOTE: Eleven people were treated for Ebola in the United States during the 2014-2016 epidemic. https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/history/2014-2016-outbreak/index.html

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

―Plato

Clearing away the FOG will allow more visibility into the reality of your relationships and how they may be affecting your health and quality of life. No one should live in a constant state of FEAR, OBLIGATION, and GUILT.

If you find yourself in a challenging relationship of any kind, the OUT of the FOG website provides very help information. There are tips about how to take care of yourself, respond with compassion to difficult circumstances, put appropriate (and loving) boundaries in place, and when to seek professional guidance to navigate turbulent emotional waters.

https://outofthefog.website/traits

https://outofthefog.website/toolbox-1/2015/11/17/fog-fear-obligation-guilt

Merriam Webster is the source for all definitions.