My Journal Entry, Sept. 11, 2001

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I recently dug out a stack of old journals and come across an entry dated Sept. 11, 2001.  What I captured in my journal on the evening of  9/11 was mostly observational, not having had time to process my emotional reaction.  After I wrote this entry, I did not journal for a long time, so there were no additional entries until I started a new diary the following year. I am sharing a slice of history, including my own. 

In the name of some unholy god, terrorists declared war on America today.

Like a surreal scene from “Independence Day,” or a page right out of a Tom Clancy novel,  unnamed terrorists hijacked and crashed a plane full of passengers into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon in D.C.  A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a rural field in Pennsylvania just 85 miles from Camp David.

I first heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York on my way to work. I was channel jumping and I had landed on the Walton & Johnson show, a popular but racy and often tasteless bit of radio.  When I heard a caller interrupt the hosts, I was taken aback.

And from that moment on everything changed forever, I think. While the hosts continued to joke, the reality began to sink in. I called *Brad and asked him to turn on the TV. He confirmed in moments what the caller had said—an airline jet had crashed into the World Trade Center. And within moments Brad shared the startling news that a second plane had crashed into the Twin Towers.

I raced to work where employees were already gathered around their computers frantically searching for the news on the Internet.

I found my portable TV and listened while Bryan Gumbel shared the fateful news to an astonished world….and I knew a sense of panic and fear in my heard I had not known before.

With the crash of the second plane, everyone in America knew it was no accident and that a terrible, terrible time was upon us. The news bulletin continued and I sat in a daze when I head Gumbel announce that a plane had just crashed into the Pentagon.

We were at war and we were unprepared. Rumors flew in the next thirty minutes—a car bomb had gone off near the State Department, a plane had crashed into the Mall in Washington, another into a school in Los Angeles.

By the time we heard a plane had crashed into the field in Pennsylvania, we were nearly numb. We were in the middle of a war and we were living it minute by minute, play by play, station by station and from New York to Washington to Pennsylvania, the whole world had erupted into chaos.

And then the towers came crashing down—like a computer animation drawing, it couldn’t have been a more surreal scene. Imagine a plane crashing into a 110-story building and bursting into a huge black ball of smoke—and then spitting red hot fire from office windows as people tried to jump to safety.

I’ve seen the images replayed on network TV and CNN at least 100 times and it is horrifying. The truth is that after all of the adventure movies I’ve seen, somewhere in my heart I want to believe that it is not real life. I like the movies better where I can sit in a dark theatre and eat Runts and Junior Mints and be entertained for two hours before trudging back into the day.

But what I saw captured on TV where the Twin Towers collapsed killing thousands and thousands and thousands of people, looked more like a scene from Hiroshima than a matinee movie. The building began to fold like an accordion and layer by layer, 110-floors began to fall from the sky into the concrete sidewalks of Manhattan.

When the first building collapsed, dust and smoke and debris spilled out and it looked like a volcano was exploding—or a nuclear bomb had dropped from the sky—and white dust and grit splashed and then soiled the streets chasing standbyers it seemed for blocks, and bloodied people scattered like pigeons.

I called Brad about every fifteen minutes. I was afraid and I was sickened and saddened because I knew that our world was changing right before our eyes and ears. Brad, I’m afraid of war—and what about our son, I asked.  I cried and sat like a mindless but dutiful employee at my desk. I wanted to rush to Alex’s school and pick him up and hide from this terrible terrible world. I am afraid and everything now has been divided into before and after.

Earlier, or this morning, I was me—living my simple, complicated, uncomplicated, happy, harassed, sad, joyful, fulfilling, bored and safe existence. None of that seems to exist anymore.

The president has said the terrorists have committed an act of war, and that we will seek them out. Meanwhile, untold thousands of people are lying in concrete rubble that was once national landmarks, tall symbols of freedom, finance, and national security, as an uneasy world looks on.

Today, terrorist destroyed the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, thousands of lives and threatened our national security, our air traffic system, and economy.

Every airport in America is shut down; the New York Stock Exchange is closed and families are searching for victims amidst dirt and dust and tons of concrete. Tonight, I pray for America and for my family and for my American brothers and sisters.

Like every American, tonight, I pray for peace, but I know we are now at war.

 

(Notes: *Brad was my husband at the time of this entry. Alex is our son.

I get chills when I re-read this because I remember that day so clearly; I remember what it felt like to live in the present–where planes were crashing into buildings—and in the future, where I could clearly see the trajectory of a new history unfolding, a world changing before my eyes–all at the same time. I didn’t capture that in my journal account–but I remember knowing it, as I sat helpless behind my desk.

If you are interested in more of my work, check out Tao Flashes   on Amazon. )

What to do in a Wackadoo World

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In a world gone Wackadoo, what is one to do?

I can tell you this–don’t give up. And don’t give in to the fear and anger inspired by stokers of hate.

It’s not easy. Especially when we’re seeing children locked in cages, bodies strewn across parking lots after another mass shooting and politicians playing hot potato with the future of our country.

But the energy of anger creates more anger, cues more outrage. We see this play out in our personal relationships, in politics,  in trade wars and in our daily life.  I had a taste of this last week while driving to work.  The person ahead of me on the interstate was moving slowly and I impatiently waved my hand, not expecting the driver to see me or my frustration.  The driver noticed my little wave of frustration and put his hand out of his window and waved in a similar annoyed fashion–and then raised his middle finger at me in disgust.

I knew then he was mirroring my frustration–and worse, I knew I had caused his ugly reaction.

It was a reminder that I want to be more mindful of my energy. I want to use my passion and frustration and energy for good–for positive change in this world. I don’t want to spread the virus of discourse and anger, the virus that is invading the hearts, minds and spirits of so many today.

I believe the future is malleable and we have free will and choice in how we react–and act to what we’re seeing in the world. We can clutch our hurting hearts while still going about the righteous work of lifting our society, our politicians, our lobbyists, our churches, and our financial institutions to higher standards.

And we can do it with resolve, not anger. This week, I reached out to my two Louisiana senators and shared my thoughts about the need for sensible gun control. I controlled my frustration and appealed to the angels of their higher nature in my request that they support background checks and ban assault weapons–not a popular concept in this Sportsman’s Paradise state. But it’s the right move.

I also reached out to co-workers and leaders in the healthcare company for which I work, to become more educated about the behavioral health services we offer and the types of organizations our Foundation supports. I want to see what I can offer in the way of promoting mental health in this state. I want to know which organizations I can support to make a real and measurable difference in my state and country.

I also plan to send another check to the Southern Poverty Law Center to support the work they do for ensuring fairness and racial equality in this country.

If we’re going to do something about the gun violence and racial hatred and mental health issues plaguing America, we need to tackle it from all angles. And we need resolve, which requires energy, for the work. Anger, which some use for fuel, burns a lot of energy quickly and then weakens one.

So, choose calm. Choose resolve. Choose action. Call your senators and representatives. Volunteer. Write a check to support organizations with whom you share values. Better yet, join an organization that actively works for social good.

I plan to use my resolve in a meaningful way. Because I believe love and action can trump hate and fear–and even lobbyists!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to Detox Your Spirit in 2019

 

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The new year brings lots of resolutions. Health magazines are filled with articles about cleanses and programs to help detox your body. But what about a program to detox your spirit?

Let’s face it, lately we’ve been bombarded with the sort of headlines and daily news that can make our own nightmares seem like a Disney movie. Taking in too much CNN or Fox News can create low-levels of anxiety or even depression. And when we spend too much time in this low-level state, we can unwittingly spread the negativity like a virus to those around us.

Highly sensitive people (and even those who aren’t) can pick up the collective energy of others and must be vigilant about creating boundaries and keeping toxic energy at bay. But it’s not always easy.

So here are some tips to help detox your spirit in 2019:

Spend time with positive people. During times of crisis or change, times when the entire world feels upside down, it is important to seek out those who can lift you up. So many people are focused on what’s wrong in the world–-go seek out the people who see what is right to counter-balance the negativity.

Set a tone and an intention for the day. When you wake up, listen to music, read poetry, journal instead of starting the day with negative news.

Limit reality shows and violent dramas. Watching too many of these programs can make you tense, angry, even depressed. Protect your spirit.

Monitor your social media time. Social media can bring connection, but can also encourage competition, separatism, anger and depression. Filter your feed and fill it with people and information that rank high on the joy meter or that contribute to your betterment, intellectually, emotionally or spiritually.

Take salt baths. They help to wash away toxins from your body and negativity from your spirit. They work.

Watch your words. Words have the power to heal or to harm. They carry intentions that can infiltrate your subconscious, for your benefit or to your detriment. Watch how you speak to yourself and to others.

Need more ideas?
Volunteer. Mediate. Pray. Run. Dance. Exercise and sweat out the stress toxins the old-fashioned way. Studies prove exercise raises your serotonin levels, which will make you feel better, more hopeful.

Or how about these ideas? Practice patience with loved ones, co-workers or people who annoy you in the grocery store, spread messages of hope, donate to a war-torn country or to the hungry in your community.

Hug your child, help a neighbor and do whatever you can to eradicate anger around you and within you. Detox what is toxic in your own life and in your immediate surroundings.

Energy is real and anyone who has ever walked into a room after a fight or angry exchange of words can feel the tension. We feel energy transmitted through the television, through the body language of others, through words, through music. So, it becomes crucial, in this 24 x 7 new cycle, that we be conscious of what we say, how we carry ourselves, even what we read or share on Twitter and on Facebook, so we don’t expose ourselves to too many harmful toxins. And while we can’t live in bubbles, we can take responsibility for not spreading energy viruses ourselves.

So, let’s start the year on a healthy note. Let’s detox together and cleanse our mind, spirit and world for a healthier, happier 2019!

Are you in?

(Interested in more of my work? Check out my book Tao Flashes , on Amazon.)

 

The Bridge

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Yesterday, I was on a bridge leading to the small town where my mother lives. Near the top of the bridge, I saw police cars and flashing lights and a young man sitting on the edge of tomorrow. I prayed for him all of the way to my mom’s house. Later, I learned he jumped. Like many others, I was his witness on this day. And for me, it means something. This poem is for him, and for all who are struggling with despair. I believe suicide arises from a deep longing to be validated, to be “seen.”  May we all bear witness to the light in one another, friend, stranger, foe or family, through this journey of life.

Cradled in hope
a chapter in someone else’s story
you played little league, chased fireflies
hid in plain sight on the highest branch
you could climb.
Starbright, you polished the skies,
once you were
light burning over the darkest of deserts.
You belong to the mist now
but I saw you
sitting on a ledge of aching steel
in a halo of headlights
none able to measure your brightness or despair.
I saw you,
sent up a prayer ahead of you.
I hoped it would find you,
buckle you tight in a mother’s caress.
I saw you,
a flickering light, someone’s phantom son
on that bridge, lost,
but inches from hope, a stranger’s hand.
I saw you,
light releasing itself into orbit with a punctuation mark
before you disappeared
into the mist and over the bridge.
I saw you. I saw you.

2018-copyrighted.

(If you are interested in more of my writing, check out my book, Tao Flashes, on Amazon.)

A Starry Night in Sedona

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Leave me here on the hardwood deck,

head up to a darkening Sedona sky,

heaven’s stage stretching high above the red rocks of old,

higher than the land native spirits roam.

On this starry starry night,

I think of home, wherever that is.

I see stars cluster in community,

hear the beings talk in lights.

Their words don’t work with humans

but I read the curve of constellations, intentions

scattered like so many galaxies

across a hopeful stage.

How many wishes can one star hold?

How many promises can a sky keep?

My faith, dressed in Sunday best,

keeps me looking up at a cathedral without walls,

on this starry

starry night.

 

 (If you are interested in more of my work, check out my book, Tao Flashes

on Amazon.)

Eat Barbeque for World Peace

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Nashville is known for many things: country music, good barbecue and whiskey, plus a fast growing real estate market. But a place for spiritual epiphanies or enlightenment? Nah.

But sometimes insights, spiritual or not, come at random times, in random places. Like when I was at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, a Nashville favorite, on a hot summer night.

I was standing in a long line with locals, friends and other tourists waiting to order. “The line is moving fast,” said my boyfriend after reading the tension in my stance. I didn’t reply. I wasn’t feeling talkative or spiritual.

Some people might see long lines snaking outside a restaurant door as a good thing, but I find places like that hard to swallow. Sure the restaurant might get rave reviews for the food, but the noise, the crowds, the wait give me a bad case of indigestion before my first bite.

The smell of barbecue mixed with sweat and beer made me more irritable. As the line inched forward, I surveyed the large room like an engineer to assess seating for our large group. I wanted a place away from the front door where the over-worked air conditioner greeted the humidity and created steam every time someone entered or left the restaurant.

I was thinking the quicker we got seated in the nearby room, the quicker we could eat and leave. But my boyfriend’s daughter and friends were frequent visitors to the restaurant and they steered us up the stairs where they promised it would be cooler.

As we got to the top of the stairs I felt the temperature drop and my mood lift. The place was lovely; huge tables, a sky for a ceiling, lots of seating, ping pong tables and a stage for music. For the rest of the evening I relaxed into the giggles and murmurs of the twenty-somethings around me while I ate my brisket and beans.

When it was time to leave we descended down the stairs back to the first level where the majority of patrons were seated. This is when I had my epiphany.

Clutching the bannister on the way down, I looked around and realized that the people in the ground level room were having a completely different experience than the one I had just enjoyed upstairs. Sure the food was the same, but the experience was worlds apart.

The lighting in the room was bright and harsh, the people sweaty.  I wanted to grab the momma with the crying baby and say, “seek refuge up there, in the Good Place, the place with blue skies and music and big overhead fans that blow your hair back like a model in a Journey video.”

I wondered if any of the people in the steamy, noisy room on the lower floor even knew there was something better … just feet away. I wondered if they just grabbed the first table nearby to make sure they were seated, uncertain of what they would find at the top of the stairs. I know I had been tempted to do that very thing.

What was the rationale for their selection of seating? Was it better to go with a sure thing, to grab what was in plain sight because it was a safe choice? Or to dare disappointment, risk the loss of sure seating for the possibility of something even better?

It made me think about how many times we go for the quick fixes, the tried and true, the safe route instead of getting out of our comfort zones.  How often we grumble and complain, keep our heads down instead of looking up, or ahead, or in a different direction that might offer us a better view. Or experience.

How often do we stay in relationships that no longer speak to our hearts? How long do we say in homes, cities, our spirits have outgrown? How often do we stay in careers that feel safe, that offer security but might keep us from growing or experiencing something new, something richer?

But I get it. In a world that’s gone wackadoo, many of us crave the security of the known. But maybe, just maybe, a little wackadoo is the impetus for growth, for enlightenment, even.

And maybe we start small, make new choices that don’t uproot our lives, but create a little sweet tension that serves as a catalyst for creativity, for something new and unexpected.

I thought about this as we pushed past the lines at the front door, with me clutching a souvenir my beloved bought to appease me while waiting in line to order our food. It was a t-shirt that read, Eat Bar-Be-Que for World Peace.

Now that’s an enlightening thought. Maybe Nashville and Martin’s are on to something after all.

(If you are interested in more of my work, check out my book, Tao Flashes, available on Amazon. Or visit my page on Facebook. )

A Message to An Angry Stranger

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I got into a fight with a stranger yesterday. It was an online battle, something I’ve been vigilant about avoiding in this new world order ushered in with Trump’s election.

But I let my guard down and commented on a post where a man was ranting about F’ng ALIENS taking over America and in the same breath describing himself as a patriot. I won’t share his direct quotes.

It’s not unusual for me to scroll through Facebook and read through ugly and fear provoking messages, many of which beg for my response. But I usually hear “Danger, Danger, Will Robertson,” in my ear as I read them, so I typically abort any effort to enter into toxic exchanges. It’s not a good use of my energy.

But on this day, I didn’t. I ignored sound Buddhist advice about walking away from spectacles. Instead, I wrote back, “Part of the issue today is our inability to see the “other” as a brother. Even your language and reference to F’ng ILLEGALS indicates not your patriotism but your bend toward the dehumanization of the other. Expand your heart, expand your mind, expand your capacity to see beyond you own neighborhood because what you describe is not patriotism.”

The blow back on my comment was swift like a dirty bomb and delivered with the same destructive intent. I would quote it all but it was nonsensical and filled with poor grammar. “I don’t need a lecture on charity from a socialist,” he said. “You smug socialists are bankrupting the country.” And then he ranted on about Venezuela and patriotism and other things.

I felt my fingers itch and a rush of righteous anger flare through my veins. I typed up a snappy reply that was designed to set him straight and maybe even call him out for his poor grammar. If I couldn’t embarrass him for his views, I could certainly point out his grammar, I thought, as I typed my response.

And something, let’s call grace, or sanity, fell upon me and landed like a little love bomb near my heart. It said clearly, “Stop it.” It was an inconvenient message because I was readying to drop my own bomb and it was not going to be delivered with love. But I listened to the “voice” tell me I was contributing to the discourse, the madness, the angry energy floating like invisible nuclear particles in the atmosphere.

Here I was feeling anger and disrespect for a stranger and I was ready to share that with the entire world or at least my few hundred Facebook friends.

With a little sigh, I deleted my message and went back to my morning. I drove to work thinking about my bravery. I controlled my anger, my righteousness, my impulse to best another, when in the end, it was not going to enlighten either one of us.

Better to spend my time sharing beauty and inspiration, working to right wrongs with money and support. Better that I add my voice to a choir of others who want to make a positive change in our world and not enter into useless debates that turn into ego battles and nothing more. America is a beautiful place, and even though the message of hate is being sung by some at this moment in history, I don’t have to sing in that choir.

Better that I sing a song of hope and clean up my own house, keep control of my own temper, and not project it onto strangers.

If I want a better world, it starts with me, not some stranger in another city who feels threatened by the changing times. If I can somehow find compassion for him, how he expresses, I am doing my part to straighten the ship we’re on so we don’t all sink to our lowest self. Because we’re all on the same ship, like it or not.

Stranger, thank you for reminding me that I don’t want to separate myself from the “other,” even you.

Because what is in the one is in the whole. If I separate from you, it is easier the next time to separate from someone else I disagree with and then recreate the cloud of anger we are living under today.

And if that makes me non-patriotic or a socialist in your book, that’s okay. I call it being human.

 

 
 (If you want to read more of my work, check out my book,Tao Flashes , available on Amazon.)

 

 

Children of Neptune

The children, see how they are growing,

palms in air, atoning.

They are arising.

 

Neptune’s offsprings,

they water our lawns with tears

and carry our conscience in their levis.

Not far from the mother’s breast,

they dream

of undoing what’s been done.

Voices, raised like thunder,

they pluck and plunder

the rot they’ve been fed.

 

Sweet day, our children have come to charm us,

disarm us with our own mirrors.

They live in borderless towns, they do,

 stepping in tune

to times that are not.

 

Marching over yesteryear,

yellow tape,

they come to police profiteers of pain

with their sweetness,

a lethal weapon.

 

The children, see how they are growing.

Palms in air, they are arising.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds,

they carry the jewel and the nectar,

 the peace offering,

the means for the end of it all.

 

This work is copyrighted and cannot be published without permission.

 (If you are interested in more of my work, check out Tao Flashes, available on Amazon.)

 

True versus Truth

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Truth. Some say it is relative. But what is true is a different matter.

Caroline Myss, author of Sacred Contacts and a number of other New York Times best sellers, says people may have a perception of truth, their version of what they believe is accurate. This may be based on personality, circumstance or one’s upbringing. But in actuality, what is true, cannot be disputed.

What is true, is always true. The world is round. The Holocaust happened.  

Today, we are reckoning with truth. We are shaping it like play dough, making it malleable in our fingers to fit our political or religious beliefs. Depending upon your view, CNN is the truth teller. Or Fox. In an era of fake news, truth is as cheap as Snickers bar, and not as tasty.

When it comes to politics, the lines of truth are drawn down the street center—some veer right, some left, depending upon party affiliation.

Now, some find truth in the words of their pastors and priests and religious leaders. Or in the heavens, as perceived by one’s faith.

The truth is, we as a people, are often not operating in truthfulness. We are passengers seat-belted in a way of seeing, based on perception. But what is true, what cannot be manipulated, is this: we are more alike than we are different because we are all love at our essence. (Before you shrug this off as hippie talk, stay with me.)

We may not act upon this knowing, we may flat out deny it and spend a lifetime ponying up evidence to prove otherwise.

But at our core, we hold love in our DNA.

So what is true is this, there are no shithole nations, no foreign factions, only opportunities to remember our humanity, to see that what is in one is in the whole. But we must remember our own nature, love, to remember the nature of all humanity.

In this day where we speak truth to power, we should remember to access the highest power of our own wisdom to claim the truth of who we are at our roots, realizing the other is us. When we see “them” in their difference, in their darkness or detriment, we see the largeness of our own shadow. Let us not hover under it or let it shade us from the scorching truth of our own reveal, which is love.

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

I will repeat this: What is true is always true. And it is never too late to be love. To act from love, to serve it up like a master chef serves up soul food to hungry hearts and bodies. This year, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us be this, love. Let us rise from the quick sand, let us “lift to the majestic heights of our soul’s force,” of our soul’s truth.

 (If you want to read more of my work, check out Tao Flashes, on Amazon.)