inspiration, parenting, psychology, spirituality, writing

everest21.jpgFirst it’s about Human Rights.

The first step on the long climb is to recognize that if you are unable to allow freedom to others, you’ll never have it yourself.  If my individual freedom encroaches on yours, that is not it.  That is bullying.  If I think freedom is doing as I please, I haven’t taken the first step but remain in a childlike mentality.  It has taken us several thousand years to arrive at base camp; the oxygen hasn’t even begun to thin.

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Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Ring any bells?  That was 2000 years ago.  How high have we climbed since then? It took the western world another 1800 years to take that first step and acknowledge the rights of others.  And in many parts of the world today, there has been little or no progress in that regard.

When I acknowledge your need for freedom is as important as mine, I have begun to climb.  It is not easy. Our brains are hardwired to be selfish; unless our early lives teach us to care for others, we won’t.  Research on brain development is clear on this point; we are not naturally empathic, in fact it’s hard work to teach a child that the toy his friend has should not be taken from him.  There will be tantrums, sulks, and continual efforts to get what they want, no matter what mommy and daddy say.  Until months, and sometimes years later, the child learns that sharing is good.  It has payback.  The parents are happy with their child and the friend might even give the child what they want once the power struggle is over.

When we teach our children that they are the only ones, but are not the only ones who are the only ones, we help them take that first important step toward a free world.

Freedom is an attitude not a given.

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It is a willingness to keep going up; to strive harder when it feels your lungs will burst;  Paris bombing, Beirut bombing, Malta bombing . . . The second step requires us to be patient, be kind, be empathic, not just for our own but for those who’ve hurt us.  When we want to strike back, as Gandhi said, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  

Until we’re all free, none of us are.  The age of terrorism is showing those of us who’ve lived in countries that profess freedom for their citizens that the illusion can be wrested from us.  It isn’t even very hard.  Just shoot a few people in a country that believes it’s free and suddenly, no one in that country can live with the illusion any longer.  The borders close, the army comes in, and individuals are restricted in their movements.  All gone freedom.

Freedom is not something one can have while another does not.  Freedom is an attitude of inclusion, lacking that, the word is incorrect.

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We must be still; stop our animal brain, breath and grieve.  Trauma research among animals has shown that when an animal is hurt or shocked they sit still for awhile.  Psychologists have integrated this information when working with people who’ve experienced a trauma and have found that by being still, even just for a few minutes, the individual is able to process the crises and move on.

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Understanding those who’ve violated our freedom.

Moving on up the mountain to the freedom promised at the top, means understanding those who’ve threatened that freedom; to bring our intelligence to bare on what is outside of our reality.  Like the problem of the child who wants someone else’s toy, some people have never learned the first step, so are handicapped and trapped in the reptilian brain of pain and selfishness, they take freedom from others.   Ignorance is not an excuse but it is a reality.

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For those of us still climbing toward the goal, meeting and sharing with others of like mind is a relief and a support.  To sit in the crisp clear air and share our stories, our challenges, and our failures, gives courage to continue.

Humanity need not go the way of the dinosaurs and other species who failed to adapt. We are, however, awfully close to the brink of our own extinction.  We must wake up, keep climbing, and prove we are worthy of living on this glorious planet.  But for that to happen, we must learn to cooperate.

As the Buddhists say: No single person gets enlightened.  Until we all go, no one goes.  We are One.

 

 

 

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art, beauty, hope, inspiration, philosophy, psychology, spirituality, writing

Love in the Time of Terrorism

It’s about staying light; about believing in hope, goodness, love, connection, and finally, finding humor.

What does it mean to stay light?

In the Mahabharata, Krishna advised Arjuna on the day of battle and after a terrible betrayal, to not let his heart get hard.  A soft heart does not mean we’ll get run over. (Krishna did win in battle that day.)  It means to keep believing in the good that you’re fighting for.  No matter how dire the outlook.

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Maintaining hope in the face of adversity,

means that you find what goodness there is in the situation; that you avoid the trap of going over and over the terrible things that happened, but rather that you mourn the tragic and look for the small and beautiful within the landscape of tragedy; the heroes and heroines, the saved lives, the things learned, the actions taken to recover and protect against the next bad thing that is inevitably on the horizon.

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There is so much goodness to be had in a time of tragedy.

Whether it’s war, or famine, or acts of nature, or terrorism.  ( the 21st Centuries kind of war) difficult situations tend to bring out the best in humanity; we rise to the occasion and deal with it, and in that, we find goodness all around us.

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Our connection to others becomes obvious in crises.

In our everyday lives most of us move robotically, passing others on the street and barely acknowledging them, being too busy to phone a friend or family member.  Contained within our self center, we’re disconnected from life swirling around us.

 

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Not so in crises.  By its very definition, crises means that the norm has been broken, and when it breaks, the bubble we’ve been walking around inside, breaks open and suddenly we see one another; reach out to help if help is needed, offer a hand, feel empathy, feel all kinds of emotions depending on the situation.

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Humor is the life saver; the heart saver, the hope, love and connection saver.

 

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Without humor we harden, and Krishna did warn against such a course.  It doesn’t mean we don’t feel sad, or mad, or frightened, but what it does mean is we can and must lighten the situation to maintain our humanity. With humor we can return to light, hope, goodness, love, and connection. Like the flip of a switch, what was intolerable, unconscionable, unacceptable, inhuman, etc., etc., etc., shifts from a dark perspective to one with, at least a little, light.

 

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art, beauty, hope, inspiration, life, writing

Paris; Love, Beauty, Inspiration, Joie de Vivre, Will never be beaten down.

IMG_2632Like so many others, the first time I
saw Paris, I fell in love.  In many consequent trips, I continued that love affair; always a little different, but never less thrilling.  I wrote an historical novel: the Nobility of the Robe, about a real woman who was the abbess of Port Royal Abbey in 17th Century Paris that allowed me to return several times.  I’d planned to return this spring, for no other reason than to remember myself as a french woman.  My mother was french, and I had discovered that heritage was very much alive in me; i walk differently on the streets of Paris; I breathe and sigh more passionately, I am more fully feminine.

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I took up the habit of writing poems on napkins in the cafes as I ate my croissant and listened to the melody of French conversations at nearby tables. On that first mad, divine, trip with no paper to write on but the napkin on my table, the waitress smiled when she saw me and said, “For your great novel?” We both laughed and I knew I was home; home to the creative artistic spirit that is the quintessential attraction of Paris.

Though I traveled alone, I never felt alone, never felt at risk walking at night, often in the rain, carrying my heavy photographic equipment.  Paris is even more wonderful at night in the rain.

When I returned from that first trip I created a photographic show of the images from that time.  They’re still some of my favorites.  All of the images in this post are from Paris.

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This one from the Luxembourg gardens is a normal sighting of those who spend time there.

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The wedding dress image was a surprise.  I was walking along the Seine and shot the display in the store window.  I didn’t know until the film was developed how much more had been captured.  I’m dating myself by admitting to film.  It was a while ago!

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In the Rodin Museum, another surprise moment caught my attention.

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Outside Notre Dame, I was fortunate to come upon an unusual mime that I felt captured the spirit of Paris completely; whimsical, musical and melancholic.  What I’m saying, is that my artistic spirit is so moved in that environment, things just happen.  There is nowhere else in the world where I have been so free..

That said, I am saddened far beyond these words can express by the assault on Paris this last Friday.  Will any of us who love, and, or live, in that magical city ever experience such freedom again? Will the dark overcome the light?

The answer is a resounding NO; say NO to fear, say NO to worry, say NO to doubt, say NO to the pain others cannot help but inflict on life, love and beauty.

        Say NO

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