Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

At loose ends with myself

At loose ends with myself
Wandering up and down
The stairs of my distraction
Overturning this and that
Within my overactive mind
A clock ticks relentlessly
Counting down the corridors
Of tasks undone and words
Never recorded yet dissipating
Into a gray atmosphere silent
And secretive not yet menacing
Though the thought occurs
to me that I am being unraveled
strand by limp strand falling
to the floor of unknown reality

Unraveled. A word rich with possibilities. Terrifying and welcome all at the same time. Loss of control. Change of direction. Once-blind eyes coming out of misty half-truth and patched-together personas. Fragility unbound and hanging out there. Human. Vulnerable. Out of control in the best possible way.

All this and more went through my mind today. It isn’t just about getting older. It’s about getting real. Becoming a real rabbit, a real human being, a real baby. Not just a make-believe look-alike.

Here’s to more loose ends of the fruitful kind. Those that lead to something greater than you or I could ever become on our own.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 November 2018
Image of unraveling butterfly found at movestrongkbs.com

A Day! Help! Help! | Take 2

Emily Dickinson’s short poem came to mind this morning. I first commented on it in March 2017, after the 2016 election and January 2017 inauguration of Mr. Trump as POTUS.

Tomorrow we get to vote again, though not for another president. My comments follow in the form of a letter to Mr. Trump.

A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
Your prayers, oh Passer by!
From such a common ball as this
Might date a Victory!
From marshallings as simple
The flags of nations swang.
Steady – my soul: What issues
Upon thine arrow hang!

c. 1858

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am not one of your fans. I am, however, a believer in more than chance happenings.

First, a confession. For months, I’ve been captive to the anti-Trump approach to daily happenings. I didn’t think about you all the time. Nonetheless, following your election and inauguration, my days seemed governed by what you did and what I thought and felt about it. Usually it felt like going from one bad scene to an even worse scene.

Looking  back, I don’t regret thinking all that through, or writing about some of it. In fact, I rather enjoy going back to see my small trail of contributions to what’s been a national preoccupation and discussion. Trying to figure you out.

There isn’t, of course, any figuring that will balance things out nicely. Especially for those whose lives are in disarray thanks to your words and deeds. Plus the words and deeds of others you’ve enabled, if not unleashed.

And so I’ve moved on. I still believe each day contains the possibility of Victory, no matter how tomorrow’s midterm elections turn out. I also imagine Emily Dickinson’s “common ball” as our planet, which I would describe as this grand terrestrial ball. A dance, open to anyone who wants to accept the invitation. There’s only one hitch. Our Creator presides over this dance. Not any human leader, billionaire or organization.

So I’m taking dance lessons again. My neighbors and their pets are teaching me to lighten up. Women and men of color are teaching me to listen deeply to what’s happening. Children of all colors are teaching me to forget about how I look and how old I am. Friends of many years are helping me reconsider my dance partners. I’m tired of the same old rhetoric, the same old hopes for tomorrow, the same old anxiety about whether I’ll be asked to the dance.

I’m already in the dance! Stumbling along, sometimes gifted with a bit of insight, scraping together my courage, and showing up in the grand ballroom of life. You might like to try it yourself, if you dare.

From one voter among millions,
Elouise Renich Fraser

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 November 2018

white affirmative action

Think of it when you go to sleep at night
Think of it when you walk or drive to the polls
Think of it when you go to church on Sunday
Think of it when you walk freely to the store
Think of it early and often and examine yourself
White gentile woman man or child that you are

By whose decree was this white affirmation
Heaped upon me and those who like me
Had no choice in the color or pedigree of our skin
Yet are heralded welcomed and protected
As the keepers and the color of purity
Angels in the making if not god almighty

Baby steps.
We need baby steps.
We need leaders who don’t look like us
Who don’t mind if our grammar isn’t perfect
Leaders who know the lay of the land
Because they’ve been there and ache
To show and tell the look of life on the other side
The toll exacted by border walls projected willy-nilly
To enhance the purity of so-called whiteness
That never existed in the first place

Humans exist in the first place
And hopefully in the last place
But only if we tend to these tiny shoots
Struggling to breathe and find sustenance
In a stingy, greedy, heads in the sand
Make-believe-we’re-OK land of no return
For this we are called
Out of ourselves and into a great
Mixed company dying to live
Before it’s too late

Thoughts on the eve of our mid-term elections. Can we find our way through this wilderness? It won’t happen overnight or without skilled leaders. Leaders who know about life because they’re already living it from the inside out. Against all odds and upstream.

Here’s how I see it. As a ‘white’ (actually German-Swiss-French) woman who is a citizen of the USA, I benefit every day from affirmative action. I’m on the lookout for skilled women, men and children who already model ways to live in a society at war with itself, without giving up hope and without being naive.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 November 2018

autumn love letter

autumn love letter
ripples across calm water
reflecting the sky
fiery burnt orange maples
bend and bow before mortals

The last two days we’ve finally seen autumn’s brilliant colors splashed here and there. They won’t last long this year, thanks to a 9-year warming October weather. Still, they’re brilliant, especially when lit by late afternoon/early evening sun.

The Ando Hiroshige print above caught my eye last night. The poem came this morning. It invites me to take a calming break, preferably in nature, after another week of unannounced violence inflicted by human beings on other human beings.

Pause mode may sound like a futile gesture. It isn’t. Especially now.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 November 2018
Ando Hiroshige print found at pinterest.com; From 100 Famous Views of Edo, Autumn, Inside Akiba Shrine, Ukeji c. 1857

Going to Seminary | Photos

Happy Halloween! Here are some photos from the 1970s. Never a dull moment. Back then we seemed up-to-date and modern. Not an electronic device in sight, yet there was more than enough adventure and excitement going on. I’m feeling a little nostalgic today, as you can see.
Elouise

Telling the Truth

1974 Feb Den chaos Scott and Sherry

Time for a bit of end-of-the-week fun! Our son and daughter are in the den of our Altadena home. Don’t miss the double door knobs. One worked and one didn’t; it was that way when we moved in.

It looks like Son is deep in thought. I don’t know what that red thing is in front of his mouth. I think he has

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Falling raindrops

Falling raindrops
Losses unnumbered
Tears of anguish
Sink beneath ground
Mourning our dead
Prone to collapse
If not eruption

It’s Monday morning, one week from midterm elections here in the USA. I belong to the President John F. Kennedy assassination generation. November 22, 1963, two days after my 20th birthday. A harsh introduction to political realities in these somewhat united states.

And now we’ve just experienced the latest in a string of brutal, overt attacks against people who are our neighbors, whether far or near. This time it was a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ironically, the hometown of Mr. Rogers.

November 22, 1963 was my wake-up call. Not about religion, but about politics. My vote seemed tiny back then. Yet as a white woman living in a nation that routinely disenfranchises and disregards women of all colors in overt and covert ways, my vote counted then and it still counts.

Walking to my voting station counts. Encouraging others to vote counts. Helping others get to the polls counts. Showing hospitality to strangers counts, whether it’s voting day or not.

This doesn’t make up for lives taken by gunfire, abuse, neglect, unleashed hatred and outright murder. Still, their lives are with us when we choose to remember them. As I see it, I’m not just voting on my behalf; I’m voting on their behalf. From the beginning of this nation until now.

So here we are one week from midterm elections. What’s your plan?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 October 2018
Photo found at hipwallpaper.com

Shame on you – a poem and confession

Shame on you
Is not shame on me

I renounce your efforts
To fill my heart with
Your lust and shame
Bequeathed to you
By your father-preacher
When you were a sobbing
Child terrified lest you wake
Up one day in that fiery hell
You too once preached to
Children who believed the lie
That they entered this world
Sinners from the beginning
Now terrified of missing
That mercy for which you
Wept loudly and often
In the confines of your own
Terrified heart and soul

Wave your arms in the air
Send out your calls for sinners
To sob their way forward
Down the aisle filled
With shame and self-hatred
Believing a story that never
Belonged to them no matter
How many times they
Rushed down the aisle
Of your own deep shame

Somewhere along the way I lost the shame I carried from childhood. Shame that bound me as an adult, not just as a child.

Here’s how I see it now. Yes, there is right and there is wrong. No, God doesn’t create junk. Nor did God make sure I came with a bit of built-in sin for which I’m supposed to feel deep shame.

The shame came later. From others who introduced me to their shame long before I knew what was happening.

As a child, preachers and evangelists routinely reminded me that my heart was filled with sin from the day I was born. I watched other children repeatedly rushing down the aisle terrified lest they be thrown into a lake of fire when they died. I managed to raise my hand once, which felt like more than enough. After all, I got it at home, too.

At some point I had to take ownership of the woman I’d become. Still, scaring me and punishing me into repeated agonies of confession never helped me take ownership of myself. It simply kept me in a constant state of fear, shame and hyper-vigilance.

Ironically, these are the very things my Creator invites me to let go. Not because I’m a goody two-shoes, but because I’m loved just the way I am.

For that, I’m deeply grateful on this day of Sabbath rest.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 October 2018

elegant feathers

elegant feathers
grace wings beating in tandem
faces resolute
a matched pair of cranes flies south
through autumn’s glowing colors

Yesterday morning this gorgeous photo of migrating Sandhill Cranes came up on my screen saver. Though everything about it caught my eye, I couldn’t stop staring at the Cranes’ faces. Birds of the air on a mission. Lending their beauty for just a few short seconds to the background of the sun and autumn flaming out. Chased by shadows, resolutely flying south guided by an inner compass.

I think I’d like to be a Sandhill Crane when I fly away. Which brings to mind this old song.

Today I’m grateful to be alive, well and kicking now and then. I’m also grateful for the way people and events come together unexpectedly, moving me ahead whether I’m ready or not. Always at the right time.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2018
Photo of Sandhill Cranes in flight, New Mexico; found at ayay.uk.co
Recording of I’ll Fly Away found on YouTube

silence of dense fog | health update

pinpoint clarity
flashes bright light on needles
silence of dense fog
wraps thick trunks in mystery
highlights tiny spider web

Despite gorgeous crystal-like drops of water, the overall scene is beautifully murky and mysterious. Which is how I’m feeling today about what’s happening in my life and in my body.

For several weeks I’ve wanted to find a few connections outside my everyday circle of friends and acquaintances. Today I have several wonderful options. Not too many, and not too few. Just the way I like it! More about that in a later post.

In addition, I’ve had some disconcerting health stuff hanging around the edges for several weeks. Nothing specific, but it all takes me to a murky place I don’t understand. Among other things this has included anxiety, lethargy, tremors, and some confusion from time to time.

On Monday I had a 3-month checkup with Dr. K, my wonderful integrative medicine doctor. She reviewed my latest blood work. It looked much better than it did when I began seeing her just over two years ago for adrenal exhaustion.

Dr. K also told me I have three of four genetic markers for CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome). Think of CIRS as cumulative, chronic inflammation that’s often mistaken for other things. The primary cause: mold buildup in the body. When unaddressed, mold-induced problems can be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s Disease. About 25% of the population have versions of CIRS.

Unfortunately, people sometimes don’t recognize or attend to symptoms of CIRS in senior citizens. They’re interpreted as part of old age.

I’m taking a couple of easy tests to help figure out what’s going on. One involves a kit that will identify where mold resides in our house. I’m also going to take an online Vision Contrast Sensitivity Test. Then Dr. K will get me started on a treatment plan.

Today I’m cautiously hopeful, and am taking extra care to treat my body well. Like a little baby that wants to be loved and cared for.

Thanks again for listening. I decided I’d rather tell you this than sit on it and try to keep going ‘as usual’ — whatever that’s supposed to mean these days.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 October 2018
Photo found at wallpaperweb.org

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