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Just when you think the world couldn’t be more chaotic, hurricanes and wildfires are brought to the scene.  Add this to an already unstable and divided political stage, whose leaders are dabbling with ideas like nuclear war, and suddenly everything you know begins to feel a bit out of control– the sky is full of smoke and there’s a whiff of apocalypse in the air.    

Photo By Tristan Fortsch, AP

Granted, it might feel this way for me as I have an aunt and cousin in Houston, my dad (stepmom, friends and sister-in-law) lives in Florida and my husband and I live in wildfire country (currently on a Level 1 evac with a house on the market).   Does the rest of the world feel this way right now? Having lived in a community that has experienced significant fires, you see people become addicted to fear like it’s catastrophe porn. The news makes us long for an apocalypse and our churches guarantee one.  

At the same time, human beings have never been perfect and our existence has always been unstable.  The great Roman empire fell.  The rise of Germany.  The Russian nuclear scare of the 80’s.  The great San Francisco earthquake, tsunamis…  Life happens. Is it our social media age that allows us to see more of it on a daily basis?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that the way everything feels around me right now, the number of times we are clubbed in the head with a new disaster, it feels too big– the numbers too great, to ignore.  It personally has me begging the question, what are we learning from this?

What is humanity learning from this?  Let that marinate…. 

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In numerology, the year 2017 equates to a one.  One is the symbol of new beginnings.  This can be a very exciting time to start new things but it also means that whatever we create in this year stays with us for the next nine years- nine, being the number of completion. With so many factors happening as of late, I can’t help but wonder if we’re looking at everything myopically and not seeing the bigger picture.

Mother Earth has been spinning since the dawn of time.  SHE has seen some things.  Her own creation, dinosaurs, the building of the pyramids… She has some stories to tell. She’s been around.  The same goes for the oceans that receded to showcase spectacular mountains and gorges, or trees with their deep roots that plunge into the ground, hundreds of years old, THEY’VE seen some things.   Us?  We pathetic little humans see the span of 80+ years (if we’re lucky). 

I remember reading ‘Crazy Horse,’ a book about the war leader’s legacy as an Oglala Lakota in the 19th century.  In the book I learned that the Lakota’s calendar was based on 13 moons throughout the year.  The names of these ‘months’ reflected what was going on during that time of year.  Names like, “The Moon of Green Grass,”  “The Moon When Turnips are in Blossom,”  “The Moon When Chokecherries are Black,” or “The Moon When Deers Shed Their Antlers.”  I was fascinated and in awe of their connection to the land.  They respected it, cherished it and took part in it.  Personally, I believe they got it soooo right.

I find myself again asking for earthly wisdom.  What are we supposed to learn here?  

Photo by Richard Carson, Reuters

Who are we to nature?  What do we think and feel about it?  Is it something to be owned or purchased?  Do we rule over it? Do we respect it? Or are we beginning to question our part in it all?  Are we spending hours fighting various policy without any real connection to the earth? When do we become guests here?  Shouldn’t the earth have seniority? Shouldn’t there be some humility? Shouldn’t we ask for its’ wisdom?  It seems awfully ungracious and ignorant to not look at the bigger picture.  And yet in our 80+ years, we’re the rulers and decision makers.  At this point, shouldn’t we at least pay our respects to the wisdom of the hundred year old sea turtles?  Why are the ‘ants’ of the world the ones to rule?

And its not just about the natural world, it’s about humanity.  Our political climate is a battlefield full of righteousness and vitriol. Again, the question smacks me in the face… What are we learning here?

Photo By Brynn Anderson AP

Hours upon hours spent on Facebook and Twitter, ‘fighting the fight’ and ‘setting the record straight,’ in my experience, has not changed a single opinion.  It has done nothing to progress anyone’s agenda but create more division, and made us feel even more helpless and angry, righteous and indignant.  How can that be a good thing?  

Even more than the great chasm between us, this time has instilled in us hateful reactionary triggers set to go off on a moment’s notice– whether it’s politics or which ice cream to get, we feel we are under attack all of the time– offended, disrespected and you’re going to know about it.  

“NO, I’M RIGHT AND I HOPE YOU DIE CHOKING ON YOUR BLUE BUNNY, YOU MOTHERFUCKING ASSHOLE!!! GEEZ… CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT GUY?  EVEN HAAGEN-DAAZ WOULD BE BETTER… FUCKER… HE’LL PROBABLY PUT CHOCOLATE SHELL ON IT… DO YOU KNOW WHAT CHOCOLATE SHELL IS MADE OF?  …WHAT A DICK… “

HE’S what’s wrong with the world. Thankfully, you’re on the side that’s ‘right’ so you don’t even have to feel guilty for too long blowing your top. I mean, you’re not typically like that, but THAT guy?  It was awell warranted.  Not to mention, all of your friends will validate your righteousness through ‘likes’ as they think chocolate shell is the devil as well.  It feels good to be right. A community of right people.  If only all the world was as right as you are.  

It’s happened to all of us. We are all guilty.  But tell me how this is helping anything.  I see little John Connor as a young Edward Furlong, ringing a set of car keys in his hand… “Are we learning yet?”  We don’t always have to kill the guy to get the car.  There can be other possibilities. Sometimes we can find a spare car with keys in the visor.  What if nothing is well warranted?  What if crazy stays crazy and we just watch it spin rather than react in the same way? Instead, we crave Judgment Day. Maybe we’re a bunch of kill-fest terminators that need reprogramming. 

I recently listened to a podcast about reincarnation.  According to this podcast, after death you are greeted by loved ones.  After a bit of ‘Welcome Back Cotter’-esque celebration, there is a life evaluation.  In this evaluation, you are able to see all of the decisions you’ve made but also–and this was the kicker– you feel the feelings of every decision you’ve made.  You feel the feelings of those you’ve effected.  You see the ripple effect of your actions.  Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, can you imagine what it would be like to literally feel how you’ve made others feel?  And how it has effected your life and the world around you?  YIKES.

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Meditating on this question, thinking about what we are supposed to learn, I have a sneaky suspicion Baby Soul and other children will come out of our wombs scratching their heads, wide-eyed, unprogrammed asking ‘Why would you do that?’  I pray it’s a generation of children that instinctively know it’s about raising our vibration.  

I hope we can pause a second to this about this… 

I don’t have answers but I think questions are a great start…  What do I need to learn?  Do I feel grounded? What does that look like in everyday life?  Am I meditating or making time to reflect?  Am I living in gratitude?  How am I speaking to those around me?  Or online?  Do I judge people I don’t understand? When have I been shown kindness or compassion? How did it make me feel?  Do I live in fear? Where does it come from? How am I showing respect for the earth?  Am I seeking wisdom?  Why does it feel good to ‘be right?’  Am I stuck in a lifetime of circumstances that have happened to me or have I done the courageous work of healing those hurts?  What would it feel like to be free of those burdens?  To forgive?  

It is a blessed and harsh reality that I truly have no control over what happens in the next few weeks. But what I can do is ask myself the following:  How can I raise my own vibration?  What can I bring to the table as a guest here on earth?  How does my life effect the world? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first inspirational post comes from my dear friend, photographer & writer, Stacy Osterman.  Stace is inspirational to me for many reasons– she’s an amazing photographer, for one, but she also inspires me with her enthusiasm for travel, adventure and by marching to the beat of her own drummer.  Stacy and her husband do their lives different than most.  Rather than having children, they save up to travel the world.  So when I asked her to be my first inspirational guest blogger, I was expecting something about photography or maybe about living a lifestyle that is different than the cultural norm. When she sent me this, I was surprised but knew its timeliness could touch a lot of people this week.  It is both lovely, thoughtful and beautifully written.  I also asked Stacy to include some of her photos and she picked what she thought might bring more beauty into the day.  Keep playing today, kids.  xoxo.

Note:  This is about an artist expressing herself through writing; This is not a political piece up for debate. All comments for artists on MandiCrocker are to always remain positive and encouraging!  Be sure to leave her lots of love. xoxo 

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As my deadline loomed I did what any good writer would do, browsed Facebook. It was a minefield. Hours after the presidential election was called my friends woke up to a world they didn’t recognise. That’s a feeling I’m familiar with, being an international traveler, and although I was disappointed in the outcome, and know that people need to go through their mourning process, I’m a little jaded when it comes to politics as I was a poly sci major in college during the Bush elections, a Dean supporter and Bernie will always have my heart. I know to get up and keep working because that’s what we have to do every day, even if we suffer a loss. The world goes on and we get another chance in a couple years to make a change.

Then I came across a post from my 19 year old cousin. A sophmore in college she was raised in a suburban town and had a hard time understanding her sexuality in that environment. Now in a more diverse space at college she is thriving, settling into her new queer identity.

 

“What I want to say is that I fear for my life. HE is not exactly what scares me. He is just the fuel for the flame that frightens me. What scares me is the fact that I’m living with people who agree with most of the things he has said. You can tell me all about how “not all his supporters agree with the way he’s treated women, POC, LGBTQ+, etc.” But that is exactly my point. We still have millions of people out there in the world who DO agree with how he treats all the groups I stated. And being a queer woman myself, I am terrified to live with people that believe that my basic human rights should be stripped right out of my hands. I am terrified that our soon to be Vice President believes that you can shock gay people into turning straight. I’ve struggled for the past two years to become more confident in my queerness. I still feel slightly uncomfortable holding a girl’s hand in public because I see all the stares and I let my anxiety get the best of me. I’m afraid this election will make it even worse to be me. I’m afraid to exist as myself.”

 

I have reached the point in my life where many of my friends are having children. Grappled with the idea of telling their daughters how a man like Donald Trump could be elected president they penned open letters to their babies, apologizing for how the future may look. I don’t have to wait, I have a young person in front of me asking why. I dropped the article that I had researched for the last two weeks and wrote this letter. It’s a little different than what most people would say to someone who is afraid, but I don’t think anyone should be afraid of fear: we should use it. It’s one of our most valuable possessions.

 

Dear Jolie,

Although many of my friends are in shock, mourning the loss of their political party and literally crying while holding their newborn children, I’ve not shed a tear. Knowing many of these people have not participated in the political process other than complaining on Facebook about the options for President has made me apathetic to their sadness. No one mentioned the Senate or House races. No one talked about the initiatives and propositions. I didn’t see a single mention of any debate other than those which our media promoted as earth shattering. This country has gone through Watergate, Clinton’s impeachment, wars, terrorist attacks, the Bush/Gore election and we have not imploded. I wasn’t worried nor was I too surprised at the results.

It wasn’t until I saw your post that the sadness settled in. The panic crashed over me and I became irrationally angry. She could lose her freedom! She could be called out in the streets for simply being herself! She will have to live in fear!! These thoughts were just as horrifying as the first time I saw you get hit by the opposite team while playing ice hockey. I couldn’t believe how hard they ran into you! And you just got up and kept playing!

You just got up and kept playing.

Three months ago on a particularly lovely day I decided to walk to the grocery store up the street. On my way home a man exposed his genitals to me before dashing off in his car so quickly I couldn’t catch the licence plate. I got back to my apartment, told my husband what happened and then I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. The experience triggered me to remember when I was younger and the same thing occurred, a man exposed himself to me on the street as I walked home from school, but at that time I was told it was simply because of how I was dressed and to be more careful. I was 12 years old. No one ever called the police to report it.

It’s only been in the last couple weeks that I’ve allowed myself to walk down that street again and in the meantime I’ve noticed that all the clothes I currently wear cover myself as much as humanly possible in the heat of the summer. I haven’t taken any photos of flowers in months, one of my favorite activities since I usually have to be so technical in my image making. It took me this long to realize I’d changed my clothing, my daily routine, my ability to enjoy my surroundings, basically everything about me because of this 30 second encounter.  I felt just as helpless as I did when I was a little girl being told it was my fault.

I had to get up and keep playing.

I had to remind myself that the first thing I said when this man tried to take away my power was “I didn’t need to see that’. Those words came right out of my mouth as soon as he opened his pants. My strength caused him to run away. I didn’t initially fear him, I was angry and I expressed it out loud. That comes from experiencing this over and over, from constantly walking into situations where I was scared, nervous or anxious and making it out ok. Battle scarred, but still here.

My friend Shawna is a unicorn. She has short, delicate pink hair. She wears leotards and shirts from the kid’s section at Target. She dances like a fairy with the little girls she teaches and she inspires the adults she coaches by telling them not to let anyone “crush their shine”. Her significant other delights in walking behind her in a crowd as he gets to see the smiles and looks from those who have just experienced Shawna’s presence. She is just existing in the world but because she doesn’t blend in she is occasionally taken down by those who don’t like it when others are out of the ordinary. People have singled her out and berated her on the street, insulting her looks or her demeanor. But every day she gets out of bed, laces up her sparkle shoes and greets those who may look at her strange.
She keeps playing.

The television is going to tell you to be afraid. That when you step outside your door you will be ostracized because of your sexual orientation. That the world is a scary place so tune in at 11pm and watch it all burn.

Unfortunately they are right. Kinda. Nothing in this world is that black and white.

We will continue to make strides and then we will take two steps back in our fights for social justice and human rights. No matter where you travel in the world you will come upon those who want to harm you just for being you. Maybe it’s because you’re a woman, maybe it’s because you’re gay, maybe it’s because you cut them off in traffic: the threat is always present and it hasn’t changed in my lifetime. I don’t see it changing in yours. There will always be ignorant people who fear what is unfamiliar. There will always be people who would rather hurt another human than understand them.

This means you have to be strong. You have to hold the hand of the woman you love while walking down an unfamiliar street. You need to shave your head (or dye your hair purple) and know that people will look at you strange and that’s ok. You need to travel the world and go to places that take you away from everything you’ve known and shakes up everything you’ve ever learned. You need to learn to live with fear. Fear about who you are means you don’t get to be you, and that’s not something I’m going to let happen, but a healthy fear about the world around you is normal and will help you to…

Get up and keep playing!

Find your tribe, those who love and support you when the world seems like it never will.  Seek out  your Shawna to help you fend off those who want your shine to be crushed. Remind yourself that those who try to hurt you are hurting themselves. That we need to love them but that we don’t need to be around them if they cause us pain. Learn how to protect yourself, how to be self sufficient and how to manage your anxiety when it gets to be overwhelming.

And I promise to always help you stand when it seems like you can’t get up and keep playing.

I hope one day you don’t need to write a letter like this to your own children or to the young people in your life but just in case you do I hope this reminds you that the world is what we make of it.

Make it beautiful.

I love you,

Cousin  

 

Croatia 2010

 

Big Island Kamoamoa Fissure Eruption 2011

 

 

Shimla

 

Sunrise Over Sikeu

 

Waterfalls, Croatia 2010