When you set out to cause suffering in another, you double your own and invite more of it. You cannot escape the suffering you put on others until you give up the practice of causing it, and give up your addiction to that savage, satiating feeling you think fixes you when you cause it.
This manufacturing of suffering is a vicious cycle for all involved. Life brings suffering at times on its own, this is a fact. But the manufacturing of it is something else. It’s abuse, for one thing, and manipulation. But more than that, it’s a whole cycle. The one inflicting the suffering circumstances (manipulator, abuser) is already suffering. What a horrid way to go through life — perpetrating hurt and pain on others. I’ve heard victims say that they don’t understand how the abuser lives such a good life, or gets away with their behavior. I can see how it appears that way, but I think this is mostly false.
Once the cycle starts, the target will find ways to avoid the circumstances and abusers will double-down on their victims, but the suffering continues to return to the manipulator and multiplies by a factor of their own and the person/s they’re hurting. One’s own suffering can’t actually be cured or satiated by inflicting more suffering. And if you’re the abuser, frankly, you give up your right to be angry at the change in people caused by your endless refusal or inability to be decent, or their willingness to go to great lengths to stay out of your line of fire. That’s part of the price you pay. So… more suffering.
Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have made me look harder at what grace really means lately, or at least what it can look like. Each has pulled out of major athletic events recently to tend to their own mental health and safety, and they have been widely publicized and scrutinized. Each was dragged on social, print, television, and radio media. But even more importantly, each was revered, lauded and applauded, and supported by so many more, and even defended on those platforms. Perhaps you are one of the people coming to stand with and behind Osaka’s and Biles’ decisions to back out of competition – or you had negative feelings when Osaka did it, but after hearing favorable commentary on what she did, you came around to a new way of thinking when Biles made a similar choice. I have no argument with those reactions whatsoever. In fact, I feel like that is progress that so many of us are showing that kind of love and support – grace, if you will. That is the loving response, and certainly the God-centered one. We should remember that their bodies and minds are sacred temples unto themselves, and do not belong to anyone other.
St. Augustine said, “What is grace? I know until you ask me; when you ask me, I do not know.” As spiritual beings we know grace to be favor or even sincere kindness and allowance from our God-source that we grant. It is not something only God can grant. Because we have the source within, it is a choice we can make. It is at once an understanding, while we may not yet totally understand. It is a conscious choice and action that begins within rather than from factors without. Was St. Augustine correct in his assessment of grace? It is my opinion that he was, in that we sometimes forget that we have choice over this and forget from where grace begins. Romans 3:24 talks about the grace of God being given freely. Therefore, it is not a stretch to understand that it is also ours to give. We are creative expressions of the Oneness within… so let us examine where we fall short when we just forget.
These young women’s very public and personal situations bring forward important questions for us personally. First, are you showing grace to the people in your life – your spouse, neighbor, parent, child (young or grown), best friend, student, employee or subordinate, etc. – are you also giving them the same allowances, favor, and grace as you have given the famous and very public Osaka and Biles? ‘Just something to think about. Everyone has problems, difficulties, struggles. No one is immune. It might be financial disparities, physical or mental health issues, relationship struggles… there is a myriad of possibilities here. If their response does not align with what we think, or they are taking too long (in our opinions) to resolve it, or we are tired of hearing about it, what then is our response? Grace does not have to look like agreement or even complete understanding, but it will always look like support and the space for that person to be where they are while being covered in our love.
Finally, and extremely important, are you also standing up for yourself? Are you giving your own sacred self the same grace that you are giving these very gifted athletes and others in your life? We often see a bit of our own humanity in others when they go through some ordeal publicly, or when someone we love is in the middle of maneuvering complex decisions. Yet, there are times when we assign more importance to someone else’s plight. There are times when it feels easier to publicly give someone outside of us grace and then walk back into our own lives and drop that mantle outside our own front door. We may not even realize we do that. Self-deprecating actions can be unconscious and habitual. Remember that you are deserving of no less grace than our Wayshower and brother, Jesus the Christ, exampled for us and that which is a constant from God.
Let us fine-tune the way we think of grace. Grace is not an award to grant. It is the truth, the reminder, and the acceptance that we are one with God, and one with each other. We are each but one part of the whole. It is an active admission that we are connected and different (not separate) at the same time – interconnected – and that not one of us deserves less or more of anything. If we can find it within ourselves to grant it when public or celebrity calls are made for it, we need only to reach nearer and harder and put it into practice for ourselves and those in our circles (1Peter 4:8). Imagine the world that will show up out of that.
I was out trying to fix a sprinkler earlier today. (Yes, Mama, I had on my N95 mask.) I was working as fast as I could so I could get back in the house. I noticed that I had ash on my arms and could feel it getting in my eyes. My glasses lenses were scattered with it. I noticed it on everything. I noticed that I couldn’t see behind our property very far today from all the smoke. When I got in the house, I decided to take a shower to get the smoke and ash off of me, and I noticed that the top of my head had quite a bit of ash on it. Seeing that ash on my head, even more than when I was out in the yard, shoved me right into a reality I hadn’t examined thoroughly before.
All I could think about was that people’s lives were raining down and floating all around me… pasts, futures, hopes, dreams, plans, tiny pieces of homes and precious belongings, maybe even pets and other wildlife. And I couldn’t help but think, “Please, no people.” Whatever it used to be, it’s all things that can’t be put back together again. They can be replaced, some of it, but if you’ve ever lost or broke something special, often times it’s just not the same. I hear it said often in times like this, “At least they didn’t lose their lives.” In an obvious sense that is 100% true, but it’s also not true at all – when we work so hard for the things we have, the places we live, the things we cultivate and that are precious to us.
Certainly I think it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of us would not trade our lives for any of those other things, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or isn’t significant. It may even be life-changing and cause a domino effect of other hardships.
So I said a quick prayer over the ashes on my head, a prayer for what was contained in them – the things that though they showed up as ash are actually the intangibles that keep us all going. I didn’t think to mention any of this until I saw someone posting a little bit ago about how annoyed they were with all the ash on everything. I get it. It’s messy and it’s certainly not good for us to breathe in. Yet, I think it’s sacred. Granted, we’ll have to wash it off of things, and some of it will catch in the wind and be shuffled off to another destination over and over again, but I sure will see it differently forevermore when I watch it floating down, resting on things, or being rinsed away.
I was a hot-head in my younger days – kid, teen, young adult… And I mean HOT! Someone asked me one time a while back how I began my journey of transforming my anger and reactions. At the time he asked, I just didn’t know; I only knew that I had to do something. He asked me how I did it. I really didn’t know the answer to that either.
That journey began 25 years ago on my 30th birthday when I knew something had to change, and just today – this day – I realize what it was that put me into action. It was realizing who I was hurting (part of that being myself). I made those people more important than anything else. I just simply made my well-being and theirs bigger than the anger. That’s really all it was, and every time I felt angry, I put them back in their rightful, bigger places.
I didn’t quit <period>.
P.S. I have never perfected this. I still have to do this. I will ALWAYS have to do this – FOREVER. Who I was will always be a part of who I am. It’s important to know this and leave it right there as a reminder.
💜I can take part in your healing (even without you knowing), but I cannot heal you. The choice to heal is 100% yours.
💜Step 1: Self is the place to start.
💜Starting may feel like daunting, rugged, mountainous terrain with no clear path.
It’s okay to be still. It’s okay to sit in the silence even in the presence of another. Don’t believe for a second that nothing is happening if you aren’t in constant motion. You are but a tiny speck in the whole of it, and it doesn’t all stop because you do. It’s okay to wait because you do not know what to do next — or even if you do.
There is power in the stillness and the silence. Don’t be afraid of it. The truth is there. Healing resides there. There are answers there. There is peace there. There is growth there.
There is so much living in the stillness and silence. There is so much to hear. There is so much to see. Don’t miss it.
Centrist ideals and actions, passivism, and just plain refusing to see (cognitive dissonance) are killing this planet. Essentially, it is killing us. You may have the urge to blame it on those that are obviously being destructive, or obviously protesting that climate change is even real. But every time you make up an excuse for our government officials and political groups ignoring the issue of climate change, you are aiding and abetting those that intentionally have ill will for this planet as evidenced by their desires for personal gain over a survivable planet. And when you think about it, you have personal gain issues, too. Yes. “We have more important issues at hand,” has been said to me. I wonder what that could be? I’ll tell you what it is, and it’s not what you think. It’s your fear – your irrational fear that Trump is the biggest thing we have to defeat – over anything and everything else. F.E.A.R. I don’t know about you, but most people don’t operate in their best thinking when they are coming from fear. We’re all afraid, but we shouldn’t let our fear have us operate from the inability to move out from in front of our noses, unable to see the bigger picture.
Right now the Amazon Rain Forest is burning at phenomenally faster rates than have EVER been known! Some of this is on purpose – for monetary gain. How disgusting! Climate change is killing it as well. We laugh, scoff and wag our fingers at climate change deniers… but how is waiting around for a better time to do something about it any better? In my opinion, that’s even WORSE, because we know better.
I am in an ongoing fight and struggle for equality for all persons on this planet, as many of you may be. If you know me, or have read many of the things I write, this is likely not news to you. Off the top of my head right now, I can’t think of anything more important to me than seeing a world that works for all. Full disclosure is, I selfishly do this because ultimately that’s the world I want for my grandchildren. I’m probably not going to see it. Maybe, but probably not. That’s OK. That’s the bigger picture. It doesn’t mean I’m ignoring the louder, more current concerns or that I’m not afraid. But the bigger picture speaks louder to me than the current, temporary ones. Does that mean that I/we ignore the current madhouse? No, not at all. What it means is that we should not put all our eggs in the basket of fearing the current madhouse. There has to be a balance. But if we’re reacting now without any regard for later, that is a God-awful strategy for our future. If your child is crying because he has a wet and soiled diaper and he’s hungry, but you just realized you’re out of diapersandformula, are you going to run out and get diapers to avoid the current mess, but wait on the formula because it’s less pressing at this moment? Or do they both require your full attention?
This is where we are. Mother Earth is SCREAMING for help, but many of us can’t seem to focus our energy on anything other than the mess in front of us. It’s urgent, yes, but there’s something bigger and also urgent that is starving for our attention as well. And if we don’t take care of it, there won’t be one single reason for any of the rest of it. The thing about starvation is, once it’s noticeable, there’s very little time to correct it, if at all. And even once it’s corrected, there may be lasting, irreversible damage to the point that saving it is in reality only slowing down the inevitable.
This is not about how much or little you might be doing for a better world. This is not about making the important work any of us are doing now suddenly worthless. IT’S ALL IMPORTANT. IT’S ALL NEEDED, ALL NECESSARY. But operating out of fear to the degree that we let ourselves be led by the nose, to ignore the underhandedness of those that we allow to represent us is going to be our end. And we do this for the short-term goal out of fear. Fear has us blind. Fear has us deaf. Fear has us cutting ourselves short. It’s sad. It’s maddening watching some of those that I love, appreciate, and think so highly of, and know without a doubt to be otherwise intelligent folks give it all up for the moment.
If you think we have bigger fish to fry than climate change, or that it can wait until after the next election, you clearly need the oxygen that we are currently running out of. This is dire. If you actually think the DNC or GOP has your best interests at heart, you MUST be suffering from hypoxia and can’t think straight. Wake up… while you still can. How is it that you can look the other way while they make up their own rules and decisions, mostly ignoring what the voters want, bowing to them out of fear instead of standing up to them and being fearless. Last election, and it looks like the upcoming one as well, so many people wanted to blame people like me for a sub-par candidate losing the election. You should be blaming yourselves and the DNC who led you by the nose KNOWING BETTER. Many of us tried to tell you, and you ridiculed and laughed at us. We’re telling you again, and you’re still laughing.
I wish I could say that “I told you so” tasted sweet, but I have to wade in the bitter poison right along with you.
Your social justice and equality issues also do not take a bigger stage than climate change. Again, these issues are not less important, but to be perfectly clear, they won’t be an issue at all if we keep ignoring climate change or putting it off until ____________. If you care so much about social dynamics and the struggles that are going on right now in our communities of color and our underserved communities, then you absolutely SHOULD be thinking about climate change. Why? If you have your community activism hat already in any arena involving those communities, then I already know you are aware of how they get hit the hardest, the fastest, and the longest when anything bad comes down the pipeline. They also take the longest to recover – if ever. Sometimes it’s actually by design, sadly, and sometimes it’s because of positioning. Here are just a few examples: housing crisis, redlining, gerrymandering, poverty, bank bailouts, war on drugs, high cost of pharmaceuticals, disparities in healthcare, inflation, etc. DO YOU THINK FOR ONE SECOND THAT AS OUR CLIMATE AND EARTH DETERIORATE THAT THESE COMMUNITIES WON’T SUFFER HARDER, FASTER, AND LONGER THAN OTHERS – THAT SOMEHOW THEY’LL ESCAPE THE USUAL ROLL CALL FOR THIS? Like I said, if you already have your community activism hat on, it shouldn’t be hard for you to see how this will go. All our work will be for not if we refuse to address our climate issues NOW – not after the election; not after… anything else. NOW.
Look, I am also guilty of waiting to fully address climate change, and not being willing to realize that if our world deteriorates, there is no point at all to anything else that I work for, strive for, pour my heart and soul out into. My selfish reasons for the other activism work that I do has to be, and is, the same for climate change. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a world that their Gram helped make better and survives for them. I don’t want them to suffer from the effects of racism, classism, bigotry, hunger, violence, xenophobia… and I most certainly don’t want them to suffer because they can’t breathe or the little food that’s left or the water is poisoning them. As a bonus, I would also like to live out the rest of my life on a planet that is being loved and nurtured, knowing it’s going to be a safe place for my Milani Jhené and Joshua Rey, and whichever beautiful grandbabies that might come next.
Eating clean(er) has had some benefits I wouldn’t have expected. One that I noticed a while back is that food has more taste – literally MORE. It’s like my taste buds received a power wash or something, and I can taste more of the detail in food, if that makes sense. So much of the “good forme” foods taste so much better, and likewise, some of the “not so good forme” foods have a different taste than they used to. With prepared foods, it seems like I can taste the chemicals or something. They just don’t seem to taste the same. Some are still delicious, though, and that’s when I have to look at them with my “that’s poison for me” lenses on.
This has been a tough journey; I’m not gonna sugarcoat it (pun intended). I reference “me” in the quotations above because I have a very specific set of items/ingredients that I have to stay away from. It’s not just about the obvious unhealthy items. In fact, some items that I thought were healthy, simply are just NOT for me, but may be very healthy for someone else. That is part of what’s made these changes difficult.
I grew up in a pretty health-conscience family. My grandparents were always trying the latest, greatest, new healthy food or recipe. I recall that we were one of the few homes that was eating wheat bread at one point – way back, of course! Over the years we and I have adjusted accordingly. Then one day I got sick. And then I stayed sick. And I couldn’t seem to get well. Let’s cut out the middle and head straight to the answer. I have a host of chronic and autoimmune illnesses – lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, chronic migraine, GERD, and… well, for the sake of the length of this post, that’s good for now! More at another time.
For years I’ve struggled clumsily through chronic illness bouts. Recently, about 8 months ago or so, I did myself a huge favor and did a food allergen lab test (under the supervision of a Naturopathic Doctor). Surprisingly (to put it lightly), I am either allergic or showed high inflammatory responses to quite a lot of foods. Even more surprisingly, several of these items were foods that we mostly consider to be healthy or part of a healthy eating regimen.
So life changed – again – and now breakfast feels like the most difficult meal of all suddenly. That’s a complete switch from what I was doing before. I sometimes wander around trying to figure out what to eat for a couple hours before breakfast even happens. I realized the other day that it’s not so much that there’s nothing for breakfast anymore, as I just need to retrain myself about what breakfast can be. I grew up and also raised my kids on a typical American type of breakfast, i.e., eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes, waffles, or french toast, or oatmeal or cold cereal choices.
So life changed, and I had a beef tamale for breakfast the other morning, which seemed so weird. But it was delicious – or I might have been nearing starvation after wandering around for a couple hours trying to figure out what to eat. Either way, it was so good and I felt great after, and nothing bad happened because I broke the breakfast rules that I had been stuck to. I had a cup of coffee with it and some jicama sticks and cantaloupe on the side. I then bought a whole bunch of frozen organic tamales yesterday. I probably need to calm down about the tamales and continue to expand. But for now, I feel pretty good about it! This morning I had my go-to, which was a cup of coconut-based yogurt with some added collagen peptides, and some berries thrown in for good measure.
I’m just glad to still be here and relearning my entrenched idea of breakfast, and finding new ways to feel well. It’s 8:30 p.m., and I’m already thinking about what tomorrow’s breakfast will be. Life is about food a lot these days. It probably will be for a long time, if not always, until I get the hang of what healthy means and looks like for me, and not necessarily what is normally healthy for most people.
Like most difficult lessons, I would have liked to have learned these latest ones an easier way, but it’s okay. I’m super enjoying my new taste buds and my increasing energy, and looking forward to the day when this new way is something that feels normal and not new.