Guest in Your Heart / Writing

Open NOT Broken

Ms. published “Ending the Silence” article & New Website Coming!

I’m so torn. On the one hand, it is gratifying to see my name under the Ms. Magazine Online masthead. http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/02/10/childhood-sex-abuse-silence-equals-shame/

I have admired Gloria Steinam’s writing, activism and work forever. My boss met her and got her to sign my copy of Revolution from Within YEARS ago when I worked at Little, Brown and Co. I was so proud to be employed by the place that published her work. The writer and activist in me is happy.

The difficult part (the other hand) is reading the comments section after my writing on Facebook and the Ms. site and hearing about so much pain, abuse and childhood trauma. One woman, 69, talked about people who are in their 90’s who are still struggling with abuse issues. Some have told no one til now and are speaking up for the first time. Some have admitted that they were abused but can’t say who abused them.

The reach of childhood can be so long it’s staggering. Women mentioned hurts from not being believed or supported. Some are still carrying the shame that isn’t theirs. It’s tragic.

One person wrote to say it’s great that people are telling their stories but more needs to happen. I agree. And that is one of the reason I will be retiring this blog and blogging at my website (almost done) http://www.healwritenow.com where the focus will be on healing, writing and mindfulness.

Another comment I received publishing my story in Ms. was “You are so brave.” But honestly, at this point, it’s not that brave. And for that I’m grateful. The substance of my life doesn’t change no matter what I write or what activism I do. I don’t have to worry about my job security or housing or what others think. No matter what I do or don’t share, I’m going to get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee and find out if my daughter wants pancakes, a bagel or yogurt with peanut butter. I’ll still be shoveling later today like everyone else. That’s a beautiful truth.

The main thing that has changed is I walk lighter, feel less shame and am excited and motivated to connect with others who embrace healing, wholeness after trauma and who want to make the world a better place.

Individual healing isn’t enough. We live in a culture where violence to women and children is still too common and requires activism. Women didn’t get the right to vote from men who said, “This is just ridiculously unfair. Where is my daughter? Sister? Spouse? Aunt? Mother? I won’t stand for it for another moment.” First a few people have to say, “Wait a minute, why aren’t I allowed to vote? That doesn’t seem fair, feel good, is wrong.” Then, people start congregating and brainstorming.

When Dylan Farrow’s letter went viral, some of the responses were shaming and silencing, but many were not. Many people started talking to each other, in person and online, to challenge misconceptions and stereotypes and the “that’s private” nonsense said to an adult woman who voluntary asked for a public conversation about her father’s actions.

Because we have social media we can reach each other directly. I’m thrilled to live in a time when people can speak directly without being silenced. We can get courage from one another online as well as in person.

When total strangers are sharing on their Facebook pages and dozens of people I have never met comment and share and get active about speaking up and feeling empowered, it makes me happy to my core. Writing truthfully about our lives is a form of activism and is healing. Also, I no longer have the feeling I need to do what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel like I am. And that makes me enjoy EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life that much more. I used to be haunted by a feeling that I was off track and not on course somehow and I no longer am. It’s blissful.

The topics are hard. The issues are big. But there is so much joy in my heart and peace in my life. Yay!

P.S. Elephant Journal published my piece on self-care as a second language as well. Yay. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/02/self-care-as-a-second-language-christine-cissy-white/

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I Believe Her

I thought a grown woman wrote a letter last week that put to rest speculations about whether or not her father, Woody Allen, sexually abused her.

I thought in the letter, 28-year old Dylan Farrow, wrote clearly about her life, father and the sexual assaults that happened when she was seven.

I thought the one person who knows best gave a first-person account.

Why don’t people believe her?

People aren’t saying directly, “Dylan Farrow is a liar,” instead, they are saying she believes she was abused even though she wasn’t which is so offensive and patronizing my head hurts.

Apparently, some believe the abuse is an idea, implanted so deeply into her brain that she doesn’t know she has been brainwashed. Apparently, she is a victim, just not of abuse but of stupidity or insanity or of mind control.

In other words, we don’t need to hear her experience of herself when we can make our own judgments or believe the spin of others. Just yesterday Woody Allen’s lawyer said Dylan is being used as Mia Farrow’s pawn. Notice how Allen’s lawyer didn’t say Dylan’s sister, Soon-Yi Previn, has also been brainwashed, exploited or is a pawn in Woody Allen’s twenty-year plot to protect his career and reputation.

And honestly, I’m glad people aren’t speaking for Soon-Yi Previn about her experience because she is a woman in her thirties who can and does speak for herself. She has been interviewed and said she never saw Woody Allen as a father figure. I believe her. That’s her experience she is talking about.

I also believe how pained and traumatized Mia Farrow’s other children were by their father’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. After all, she is their sister, was twelve when he met her at the start of his twelve-year relationship with Soon-Yi’s mother, Mia Farrow, who was their mother too. 

The relationship between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow ended when Mia Farrow found “pornographic” (not my word but the words of the court in the ruling of Woody Allen’s custody appeal case) photos of Soon-Yi at Allen’s apartment. That is relevant because it those pictures, as well as concerns about his intense relationship with Dylan and then her disclosure which made Mia Farrow consider Woody Allen a pedophile.

When I read that Woody Allen said, just a few years ago, of his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, which started when she was 19 or twenty, and him in his fifties, “What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her,” I felt sick. He still doesn’t seem to care about the pain he caused his own children and their siblings.

I know that Woody Allen denies the allegations. I know that one of her brothers believes her and another does not. 

I believe Dylan Farrow is capable of knowing her experience and speaking about it with clarity. Her experience of herself and life is actually the most relevant one.

It was her I was thinking about when Woody Allen got a tribute at the Golden Globes. It is her I think about when I can’t watch his movies. When I hear people say he’s a genius or gets women, I don’t agree.

He doesn’t speak for me.

This isn’t fiction or a movie and we don’t get a vote in how it ends or need a director’s version of the story.Dylan talked about having been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder not compulsive lying.

Woody Allen, the father she has accused, doesn’t get to direct her part.

He doesn’t get to tell Dylan Farrow how to play the role of his daughter.

He doesn’t get to tell the “audience” what her motives are or what her words really mean. He can speak to his experience of being her father. That’s it. He can’t speak for her.

I believe Dylan Farrow was abused because she said she was abused. 

I have no reason to believe she is making it up. What she is saying is serious. Too serious to disregard as though it’s a political opinion from the side I didn’t vote for. A crime was committed against her which makes it more than an agree to disagree issue.

She knows best what happened in her body, house and childhood. 

Her words, at least for me, are enough.

*

P.S. The Mama Bear Effect posted this link today from an article from 1976. In it, Woody Allen said, “I’m open-minded about sex. I’m not above reproach; if anything, I’m below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him.” Allen pauses. “Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone,”he ventures helplessly. “I admit to it all.” I admit that I had to go read the entire article to make sure it wasn’t out of context or in reference to a character. It wasn’t. He was talking about himself.

I guess I believe him too. Just not his denial.

Relevant Articles and Sources:

From Feb. 2014

http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/an-open-letter-from-dylan-farrow/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

http://bitchmagazine.org/post/dylan-farrows-letter-tells-us-what-our-culture-needs-to-learn-to-believe-survivors

http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/zunguzungu/woody-allens-good-name/

http://themamabeareffect.org/1/post/2013/08/the-abcs-of-keeping-abuse-a-secret.html

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/02/i-believe-dylan-farrow.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/02/why-young-sexual-assault-victims-tell-incoherent-stories/283613/

http://www.thewrap.com/woody-allen-abuse-allegations-dylan-farrow-timeline

From 2011

http://www.ontheredcarpet.com/Woody-Allen-on-marriage-to-Soon-Yi:–What-was-the-scandal-/8209443

From 1995

http://www.leagle.com/decision/1995352215AD2d137_1310

From 1993

http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/02/23/reviews/farrow-verdict.html

From 1976

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20066950,00.html

 

When the It You are Trying to Get Over is Your Life

For my horse daughter, in this Year of the Horse, with her permission.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/01/dont-try-to-get-over-it-this-is-your-life-christine-cissy-white-adult/

Self-Care as a Second Language

I have a friend who fills out the gift tag option when ordering products online – for herself! When her item arrives, it comes with a love note, from her.

Huh?

Another friend, who I went to Alaska with for six weeks during college, wrote herself letters. She put pen to paper before we even boarded the plane. When she received it mid-way through the adventure she told me she had done because explaining she anticipated she might be lonely.

You what?

In both instances, when I first heard about their practices, I thought, WACKO… I didn’t say the word but am certain the puzzled look on my face expressed how odd I thought each one of them was.

“You might not want to share that with people” is what I thought. Maybe they didn’t know it seemed selfish and strange and kind of pathetic.

It’s years later and I wonder not about their choices but about my response.

Clearly they were both ahead of their time. Now, there is a language for self-acceptance, self-compassion and self-love. But these friends weren’t doing online exercises with Brene Brown or reading Cheri Huber’s book There’s Nothing Wrong With You No Matter What You Think. No, they were attending to, nurturing and doting on themselves because they learned or taught themselves to relate to themselves in loving ways.

It seemed so crazy to me at the time. Then, I was barely conscious of the way I talked to myself. I’m not sure I would have even understand what having a relationship with yourself meant.

“It’s o.k. to talk to yourself,” My Great Aunt Jean used to say, “As long as nobody answers.”

Writing notes or letters to yourself seemed too close to answering. And maybe it scared me. But why?

After all, I was a journal writer even way back when. It wasn’t the notes, per se, that struck me as strange, but the planning and ahead and admitting needs and taking steps to meet them. It was how they each gave attention to their comfort and delight. They acted so deliberately, with intention and without shame. They recognized and admitted their needs and wants.

As a kid, I was told if you asked for a piece of candy from the candy dish you couldn’t have it. Asking was rude. You had to be waited to be asked. Pretending not to be staring at the white rooster dish wondering what was inside was the goal at my great-grandmother’s house. Trying not to obsess about or drool over the chewy caramel candy in a glass bowl at my Nana’s was hard.

If you could wait you might be rewarded. If you got greedy or impatient, if you asked or admitted what you wanted… Game over. You lose. Don’t ask. Don’t expect. Don’t want. Or if you do, at least don’t say so out loud.

What was a candy dish for if not for sharing candy?

I learned to be coy about getting needs met and owning up to them. The only thing worse than being needy was seeming needy. That was weak and weak is bad.

However, waiting to be asked and pretending you didn’t care a bit about your needs or wants was more dignified and restrained. Strong even. If you could go a step further, say “No thank you” even to something you wanted, that was strong, almost regal and triumphant.

It’s not like anyone said it in words. But that is the message I got. Denying the self and overriding desire was admirable. And what makes me think of it now, isn’t the past, but the cold.

Wednesday, my daughter headed with her guitar to the door wearing only a sweatshirt. It’s seven degrees out.

“Put your coat on” I say, “It’s cold.”

“It’s just across the street.”

And the truth is, I never put my coat on, even when it’s seven degrees or below zero. Same for my mittens or a hat. And I don’t carry an umbrella and I judge the light weights who do. A remote starter? No way. All of those things are for wimps. Who has the time or the money and can’t be cold (or wet) for a minute or two?

And maybe I’m even a little proud of myself when I tough it out. But why?

I’m not happy to have taught this to my own daughter. Not proud. I don’t want her to think self neglect is better than self-care. I don’t want her to shiver in the cold for even a few minutes. It’s not tough. I want her to be know how to make herself comfortable even in the elements. But I haven’t shown her that I’ll do that for myself so now she’s copying me.

I don’t know if I will ever write myself a love note when I order a package or mail myself a letter before boarding a plane. However, I’m going to start wearing my red mittens and maybe even a matching scarf.

I want my daughter to know that her needs are not optional. Life stretches our tough muscles plenty without us trying to go without or make due with less for “practice.”

It’s one thing to give a pair of mittens to someone who needs them more. That might be noble or virtuous. But to leave them on the counter, by the door, where they are warm when my hands are cold, that’s something else.

That’s WACKO!

Silence Protects Abusers

Silence Protects Abusers

What if every survivor of sexual abuse picked up the phone, called their abuser and confronted them like this woman did?

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news%2Flocal%2Flos_angeles&id=9400191

What if we confronted perpetrators over the phone, hit record and then You Tubed the response? That would be a lot of signals carried by cell towers, countless phones ringing in living rooms, offices, schools and churches.

90% of the 25% to 33% of adults sexually abused during childhood know the perpetrators. They aren’t random criminal monsters but teachers and relatives, ministers and coaches we often know by name who were our caretakers as children. What it we all had recorded proof that our own families and friends and larger society could not dismiss or minimize and would have to confront directly and immediately?

We might live in a different world and one safer for children.

The problem for many survivors isn’t that they don’t know where their abusers are or how to reach them but that they feel shame for having been abused, for being unable to protect themselves or others, that they were guilty of, well, being children, innocent and naive, gullible and exploitable.

What has kept so many of us quiet isn’t that we don’t know our abusers it is that we do and we might have liked or loved, trusted or admired them even as we despised being molested by them.

*

When I was in my early twenties, I started therapy, talked about my abusive childhood and the frequent chaos and neglect. A few sessions in, the therapist handed me a claim for insurance and on it I was to write the diagnosis for which I was seeking treatment.

Instead, I wrote the first and last names of the three family members who molested me and handed it back.

“You can’t do that,” she said.

“But that’s why I’m here,” I said.

She nodded but explained how the insurance system worked and that a diagnosis was needed for me to get insurance coverage.

But car insurers looked at fault and determined liability so why didn’t medical insurers want a context? It made no sense. I pointed out how my perpetrators weren’t in jail or therapy and how my getting treatment wasn’t going to change their behavior.

I argued that from a strictly financial standpoint if abuse isn’t prevented, it’s going to keep happening, and it’s cheaper to find and treat the abusers than the people they abuse. Wasn’t it known that abusers abuse and will keep abusing. If it happened to me it would to many others?

Prevention 101 or so I thought. But part of the problem is how prevalent the problem is and how often it occurs. Doctors and therapists are child protection social workers may be the only ones who aren’t shocked or surprised by the statistics when it comes to childhood sexual abuse.

The general population recoils from any discussion of as though shaking the head in shock or disgust does anything to make our children safer.

As a new mother, not leaving my child at a lunch table alone in the Children’s Museum in Boston, my social worker friend laughed at my over-protectiveness. “You think something is going to happen to her here?” she said.

Even me, as a survivor abused in my own bed, home and my step-father’s car bought into the myth that the predator is some sneaky stranger in public and not the trusted coach, step-parent, teacher or priest. But it’s their familiarity which makes them dangerous and gives them access to the children they abuse.

In some ways I miss the indignation of my youth when I felt outrage on my own behalf and didn’t know that one in three or four of us have been abused and thought what happened to me, when known, would cause shock and action.

I look back at the twenty-two year old in therapy who knew that treating my anxiety was necessary but would only help me and do nothing to help prevent others from being abused. What happened to her as I aged? I miss her anger. Her outrage. The feeling that what happened to me was wrong.

Where was the outrage, not just for me, but for all survivors getting a clinical diagnosis for the crime of being children impacted by the violence committed against them as children? It seemed unfair to receive a disorder rather than a badge of courage for dealing with abuse when those that committed it weren’t in treatment or in jail?

I understood why it would be hard to speak up in families where abuse took place but why was the silent so prevalent everywhere else? The lack of general outrage injured me because it made me believe “it’s just me” and the “it’s just me” personalizing of a problem is what keeps so many shame-filled and symptom suffering.

In fact, the believing it’s just me is what made me lose my anger, feel even more shame and decide, I’m just not strong enough and too screwed up, messed up or impacted while others seem to manage better or heal more quickly, silently and better. Maybe it’s not what happened to me that is the problem, I bought into more and more over time and kept having to wrestle with but me, something in me that attracted the abuse, the same thing that makes it difficult to get over.

I spent more time analyzing and blaming myself and less time upset that abuse happened at all, to me but also continually, to children.

We can learn from Jamie Carillo who insisted on justice. When told, once she was ready to file a criminal charge against her abuser, it was too late because the statute of limitation had run out, she made a phone call on her own behalf and demanded accountability.

She got what every survivor of sexual abuse deserves and rarely gets: the truth to be known, justice served and support to be provided. But most importantly, she used her to voice to make sure this teacher couldn’t stay in her job with easy access to other children.

At my core, I knew what this twenty-eight year old must know, and that is that what happened to her wasn’t right or fair and needs to be kept from happening to any other children.

She didn’t say, “It must just be me,” but wanted to make sure others were safe.

I was not so brave.  I did not out my abusers. I did not file charges. I hated on myself and waged a war with my own pain. I joined the blame the victim culture and pathologized and marginalized myself.

I accepted a diagnosis in order to get more sessions back in 1992. “Generalized anxiety” would get coverage my therapist explained though post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was more accurate. I went with PTSD because I wanted to be honest. I didn’t want to lie or manipulate the system.

But I was mad and wanted to write my insurance company and tell them it felt unfair to be labeled when it is healthy to deal with issues and trauma. I didn’t. That was twenty-five years ago and it’s still difficult to be an incest survivor. There is a stigma to having been abused. No one is rushing to get the incest survivor bumper sticker even though. It’s not a resume builder or an asset for a match.com profile.

Many survivors have problems with trusting, doctor’s appointments, child birth, parenting, sex, The Change and many issues related to the body, sex, intimacy and trust. However, we aren’t usually chatting openly about our survivor issues and the medical or psychological or interpersonal issues that result because that’s too “victimy” or shameful and who wants to be “negative” or clinging to the past?

And that is why this woman’s You Tube confrontation has gone viral and is so jaw-droopingly brave. She delivered her own justice and broadcast it without apology. She protected others from being victimized and reminded survivors everywhere that we are not alone. She told the truth and it made a difference. She gave us a real-life example of what not taking on the shame of the abuser looks like in action.

And that’s why, today, you’ll find me running victory laps around my living room, jumping up and down and high-fiving the computer screen watching this video.

Jamie Carillo’s words and actions have made me braver and my bravery is important because abusers love shame and they silence. Silence protects them.

But they don’t need our protection. Our children do. Remember, 1 in 3 (or 4) are being abused still by people they know in their homes and schools, churches and families.

—–

For more on preventing childhood sexual abuse:

http://themamabeareffect.org/1/post/2013/11/do-you-know-how-to-identify-grooming.html

Note: I didn’t write alleged abuser because in the telephone conversation the woman accused of abused acknowledged that it happened, was wrong and said as a school administrator she herself involves law enforcement when the same accusations are made.

Storm Photos on CBS

O.k., I’m no photographer. I’m not being modest, I know real photographers who take the shots, know the mechanical settings and who make a living or a serious hobby from that art.

I am not one of those people. But, the bench at the end of my street was memorable yesterday during high tide and none of those photographers was to be found.

So, I took a few shots and a neighbor told me to send them to the local news which I did. So they are here, with other AMAZING shots of a storm and cold weather we won’t soon forget.

http://yourphotos.boston.cbslocal.com/1817539881

The neighbors I live by, but don’t always party with, gathered in front of my fireplace last night to drink in relief (and booze). We made it through the cold, the shoveling and hopefully the worst blizzard of the year.

One of my friends, on Jan. 1st said, “2014 is already way better than 2013” to which I say, “Here. Here.”

Who Are Those Crazy People on the Coast?

coastal lifeMe. I am one of those crazies by the shore.

My green CRV is a flood car. It was purchased at this time a few years ago when my blue Subaru was totaled in my driveway by being immersed in salt water. I learned one “dip” in the ocean and the engine is no longer reliable or safe – even if it starts once dry.

When my house flooded I was not as strong or stoic as my coastal friends and neighbors. Ask my sister who drove me around to get a new car and the loved ones who had to listen to me complain about feeling rattled raw. The flood cost me $15,000.00 and I was unprepared, having grown up in the city where terms like flood zone and storm surge were never used.

When my heating system needed to be hung from the ceiling, my a/c and washer and drawer moved to higher ground, the water heater replaced, the financial and emotional toll was heavy. I had a young daughter and no car, heat, hot water or cash.

The worst part was wondering, “What if it happens again?”

Years later I still look for items, like hiking shoes and remember, “Oh yeah, the flood. Gone.”

Yet I didn’t sell my house. Moving was out of the question for me then and still is now. To relocate, because of storms that might hit once a year or decade, is to reject something central and necessary to my life, which is how much I love the ocean, my home and neighborhood.

Can I, instead, with storm-savvy planning become more storm resistant, more resilient and less prone to damage? storm protectionCan I get flood insurance to cover the structure if not the contents of my home?

Until my 40’s, my favorite word was safe. A close second was good. If I could be both safe and good, I thought, I had arrived as a full-grown successful adult ready to die and be welcomed in Heaven. It was a perfect plan, except, I wasn’t happy. It’s hard to feel vibrant and safe or open while guarded.  

So let me take a moment to appreciate storms, even the ones I pray are less severe than predicted and don’t hit too hard. It’s not that I want to lose power or a hot water heater. I don’t. Still, I know storms are valuable. They make you clean the basement, find your flashlights and appreciate a good fire. But it’s more. The big ones help you to know what you love and see the dead weight you carry and must let go of.

I’m nervous about flooding and glad I have flood insurance. I’m not out surfing in below zero temperatures or pretending there’s no blizzard.

Instead, I am saying, to the ocean, I choose to see your beauty and respect your power. Even as your wind is blowing I embrace you, knowing you have lessons to teach me.  Because isn’t it true for you as well even if you are on dry land? Hasn’t your heart, been totaled on contact, at least once by love? Still, wouldn’t you risk falling in love again even though the falling part is scary? I would. I will. Safe isn’t always best.

It’s the same with Mother Nature. I know she’s got the power to do serious damage, and has, but I love her and remain loyal. Sure, her ferocious power scares me at times. It sounds as though the wind could flip my roof like it was the top of a garbage barrel. I’m nervous.

But this isn’t daily life. Most often, the ocean welcomes me, lets me walk on her shore and receives me unconditionally which is the bigger truth of coastal life.

I hope my basement stays dry and if the water comes, it recedes quickly. Either way, another storm will come – and pass – and come again. We can’t control Mother Nature, Love or Life – no matter where we live.  I love my ocean and I won’t turn from her even when she is bitter and cold.

coastal 2If I let a storm run me out of this house and life I’m saying that the other meaningful and wonderful 364 days of the year in this house and neighborhood don’t matter and can be sacrificed to fear.

And to me, that seems more dangerous than the risk of flooding.

 

The Verdict on Christmas

No, this is not a post about Christmas. Sure, my kid loved her holiday gifts, and we powered through with the stomach bug, and we played some fun games as a family for hours on end. Good stuff.

But, this speech, this amazing closing argument from a movie made three decades ago still makes me gasp and clap in the privacy of my own living room and act like other people do when watching sports.

This, to me, is the spirit of spirit, of the holidays, of the every day, of what matters. This is a big bite of the taste of awake that is like a transfusion to the heart, the opposite of a lullaby, a rev for your engine that may have been choking, sputtering or coasting in neutral. Aren’t you glad you know how to drive a stick and can feel the change of gears as you hit the gas?

Whatever your holiday or politics, if you volunteer, parent, are an activist in college, at the office or your neighborhood, here’s a little iron-filled fuel for an anemic heart.

Let the words stir you up. It’s better than Stomp, Riverdance and an old-fashioned type writer banging out noise. You can hear and feel the pulsing, the rhythm of the beats and the slaps, the power of the punch mixed with artful and precise pauses and slowed tempo so the delivery gets you everywhere.

Words, words, glorious words, not just because or to be snooty, but to arouse and soothe and stoke the soul towards activism and passion and truth-telling and justice. What could be more non-commercial Christmas.

It’s a big build – up, longer than the closing argument from the Verdict made in the 1980’s. It’s just so good, and today, to still be able to catch a movie on T.V., not planned or DVR’d or ordered but to just come across it, a few minutes in and have the hours to spare, that too is a delight and what holidays are for.

Lovely to luxuriate and it just makes me feel all Merry F’n Christmas and thank you Jesus (or Goddess) because the best parts of me are full and fired and gifted with presence….

And if you haven’t had a dose of that today, and you want one, go You Tube “Closing Argument to the Verdict” for the bonus of seeing and hearing Paul Newman, but here, I’m leaving you with the words.

I would love an ornament filled with quotes like this all over my tree.

————————–

Judge Hoyle: Summation?

Galvin: Well…You know, so much of the time we’re just lost. We say, “Please, God, tell us what is right. Tell us what is true.”

I mean there is no justice. The rich win; the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie.

And after a time we become dead, a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims — and we become victims.

We become weak; we doubt ourselves; we doubt our beliefs; we doubt our institutions; and we doubt the law.

But today you are the law.

You are the law, not some book, not the lawyers, not a marble statue, or the trappings of the court. See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just.

They are, in fact, a prayer,

I mean a fervent and a frightened prayer.

In my religion, they say, “Act as if you had faith; faith will be given to you.”

If we are to have faith in justice we need only to believe in ourselves and act with justice.

See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.

This Present / What the Flicka

I just got another piece published in What the Flicka and was made a Contributor (it’s like a promotion from Guest Contributor.) Baby steps… I still don’t know how WHAT THE FLICKA is going to look on my resume. The UPS guy laughed when he noticed the What the Flicka name return address on one of my packages. It might be more fun to address them on holiday cards.

Dear What the Flicka:

Here’s the link:

http://whattheflicka.com/this-present/

 

My Grumpy Reaction to Videos with Homeless People Continues

Nothing makes me feel more grumpy or less progressive than my anger over the videos of homeless seem to be all the rage right now. It’s not the homeless people irritating me but the housed and homed. The people in the video below seem so charmed and moved by this homeless guy as though he is adorable stray dogs who show up in music videos making them seem more real, authentic or artsy. If he were some employed man joining the scene, would the musician say, “Dude, you’re cutting into my video”?

http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/1r4ms9/guy_filming_a_music_videohomeless_man_joins_him/

People seem surprised when homeless people are actual people. People with skills and talents and sometimes warm personalities, people who listen and sing along in a music video or who look better and transformed with styling products – just like the rest of us.

I am THRILLED the issue is getting attention and if videos make people give more thought or money to affordable housing and a wide range of services, fabulous. But the videos don’t give me warm fuzzy feelings. Maybe it’s because my father, if alive, is homeless. Maybe it’s because I worked at a shelter for homeless families and know that what is needed most is money and housing and access to affordable health care.

Homeless people are actual people who are fathers and siblings and sons and daughters. They are sometimes heroic veterans and sometimes selfish boozers and sometimes, both, just the same as in most families.

To me, the videos make me feel sour in the stomach, maybe because the person who is the subject is not the one directing the shots or the video and their perspective and voice, though they “star” and make guest spots, doesn’t seem shown. At least to me. So, I rant on…

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/11/daughter-of-a-homeless-alcoholic-vet-responds-to-video-christine-cissy-white/

 

 

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