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.

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.

noticing your energy suckers…

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” –Eleanor Roosevelt 

our unique hearts…

“Go to you bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.”

—William Shakespeare

some days require a micro view…

micro: very small

view: extent or range of vision

macro:  intended for use with relatively large quantities or on a large scale

A constant macro view can be exhausting—wasting our time and talents. Most days require us to narrow our focus, take a micro view, and determine where & how we can make the most difference to the people and circumstances we face in our lives.

Notice a difference in your perspective?

Source: Merriam Webster

the space betwixt & between…

As I age, it seems much of life is experienced within the gray areas of uncertainty. Thankfully, now at fifty-three, I’m finding not knowing is sort of interesting, perhaps even a bit wonderfully mysterious.

study in grays, June 18th, 2020

Thank you Pema, Dusty & Emily…

I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she writes about hope and fear—

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something: they come from a sense of poverty.  We can’t simply relax with ourselves.  We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment.”

HOPE verb: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true

FEAR verb: to be afraid of, expect with alarm

Hope was on my mind, so this morning Dusty Springfield’s 1964 song—Wishin’ and Hopin’ popped into my head as did Emily Dickinson’s poem—Hope Is A Things With Feathers. Oh you brilliant, creative women…you’ve been homesteading in my psyche the last few days. Thank you, your timing is impeccable.

Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’
Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms
That won’t get you into his arms
So if you’re lookin’ to find love you can share
All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him that you care

Songwriters: Hal David / Burt Bacharach—Artist: Dusty Springfield

All of this hope talk made me think about parenting, religion, and my childhood. My mother’s prayers for me when I was growing up were that I would eventually become someone or something else—an idealized version of the raw potential she saw in me. Please help Lisa stop picking her fingernails, overeating, cussing, being lazy, not caring about her grades, reading the wrong books, listening to the wrong music, drinking beer, or NOT believing the way I do.

I don’t blame her, this was her programming. I’m sure it felt quite loving hopin’ and prayin’ for my needed improvements. She feared who I might possibly become, and truly believed her prayers could turn things around for me. Her faith then required that she gave the God of her understanding credit whenever my improvements, no matter how barely detectable emerged.

I did the same thing to my children—always hopin’ they would become the best version of themselves. I guess I thought wishin’ for the hidden potential in them to emerge would reflect what a stellar job I’ve done mothering and flatter my ego. Damn, that was my programming too.

Emily Dickinson’s poem, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers reveals the unsettling nature of the never ending loop of constant hope…and never stops – at all -.

Hopin’ I believed would make all of my sleepless nights and heartache worthwhile. However, instead, what I’m finally understanding is that all of that motherly wishin, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ kept me from accepting them as they were/are in the present. I’m truly sorry Ellis, Lucy, and Willa that I did not learn this sooner.

Wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ doesn’t seem to actually be working in any part of my life now that I give it more though...and never stops – at all—thanks Emily for that reminder.

What if I practiced more acceptance in all areas of my life? What would that feel like? Complacent? Uncaring? UnAmerican? Untethered? Unbelievable?

Let’s experiment, take a moment…breathe, just let the word acceptance settle into our soul a bit…repeat it a few times. Thoughts?

What if right now in America we just quit wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ for things to be different than they are? What if collectively we ACCEPTED that the God of our personal understanding is desperately trying to reveal to us that all of the political division, rage, wounded egos, destruction, inequality, brutality, greed, spiritual aches, righteousness, grief, and suffering requires our heart’s immediate attention right now and we can no longer keep hopin’ and prayin’ for it to magically disappear?

All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him others that you care

distraction from mending…

Yesterday I went to Target., usually is a fun way to distract myself, especially after months of sheltering-in-place with no shopping—except for groceries, gas, booze, and take out. I was quite enthusiastic as I set out. I even put on lipstick…and then my mask.

I didn’t need anything, just some good ole’ aimless browsing, a coffee from Starbucks, drive home, put things away, recycle the boxes, packaging, or tags. Whew, an hour or so that I didn’t have to think about the state of the world, our nation, my family, or myself.

Thank you Target for the distraction, although upon returning home, I realized just as B. B. King sang, The Thrill Was Gone, at least yesterday anyway.

Q. Why did shopping feel so empty to me? This became my thesis for the afternoon.

I sat outside in the yard with my eyes closed for a few minutes—not meditating, just quiet without distraction.

At first, nothing specific came to me…I sat in the heat a few more minutes. I hate being hot, so that was pretty distracting…and bugs were nibbling at my ankles.

Then something Glennon Doyle wrote about in Love Warrior hit me.

“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.”
Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Glennon also wrote about going to Hot Yoga, her only goal was to stay on her mat and not run out of the room. I think I need to sit more often with my uncomfortableness (and others as well) and stop seeking so much avoidance and so many distractions.

Wait, I love my distractions…let me count the ways…avoidance always serves me so well…

TV, food, my studio, scrolling through my phone, podcasts, a nap, a beer, Netflix, Amazon Prime, news, HGTV, books, magazines, ice cream, potato chips, cleaning anything, driving anywhere…my list of distractions goes on and on.

Come on distractions, work your magic. These feelings are so damn uncomfortable. Make them go away.

At least every once in a while, I think I have to say to hell with my much-loved distractions. Welcome in all of the uncertain, uncomfortable feelings, and let them teach me something about my own heart and how to best mend it.

Then after that exhausting heart-mending work—I’ll reward myself, grab some potato chips, a beer, and watch The Gilmore Girls.

othering/a transitive verb

by Lisa Lillibridge

to treat or consider 
(a person or a group of people) 
as alien to oneself
 
Merriam Webster

I want to blame
I need to blame
someone else
something else 
anywhere else
for my inner tornado

alienate
vilify
repeat

easy breezy
automatic, unconscious

our world’s challenges
far too complex
and exhausting
to metabolize 
entirely on my own

quell my fears 
confirm my programming
please just tell me who, what, and where
I should other today

my team’s constant drumbeat
deliberate, unyeielding
laboring 24/7 
to justify
their clouding of my inner knowing 

click, forward, like, share, and tweet
fair and balanced
the daily diary of the American dream
all the news that’s fit to print

immutable 
and distracting
like a howling airplane baby

poor mum
damn baby

damn mum
poor baby

othering

seductive 
like an ice cold beer
hot, salty french fries
or another slice of chocolate cake

how did I other today?

those people are not my people
that problem is not my problem
that place is not my place

alienate
vilify
repeat

conformity is obedient and compliant
far easier
than looking in the mirror
and down into my own heart

I know I should not utter a word
until I’ve walked at least 
ten steps in someone else’s
work-boots
sneakers
high heels
wing tips
flip flops
or bare feet

but I do
we all do 
and it’s destroying us