Monday, May 27, 2019

Lacuna

Image result for hills with a path going through them

la·cu·na
/ləˈk(y)o͞onə/
noun
noun: lacuna; plural noun: lacunae; plural noun: lacunas
  1. an unfilled space or interval; a gap

I'm spending some time going through my journals today.  I recorded this dream in January of this year. I've been meditating on this concept since I had this dream.  Honestly, finding very little "lacuna" in my life these days.  Or?  Maybe I am stuck in some sort of gap or space in my life.
***************************************************

I got up early today - tested if I should be up for the day at 6:30 am by brewing myself a cup of coffee and gazing at the transformed puffy white branches that appeared overnight.  But the caffeine and snowscape was not enough to keep me awake in my chilly apartment.

Back in bed, I fell back to sleep almost immediately.  As I was drifting off, snug under my 20 pound weighted blanket, I was hoping for a dream and I wasn't disappointed.

The dream started with me being at some sort of gathering place at the bottom of sloping hills.  There was a large house and several small buildings close to the very large building I was in.  I could see all around because one wall of the building I was in had a large overhead door that was open.  There was a cavernous gathering room with tables and benches in this building, surrounded by doors that led to individual rooms for guests.  

There were a lot of people there.  At first I didn't recognize anyone.  Then Molly came.  I also "wondered" if some of the people milling around were other family members or people I knew.  Molly and I sat at a table and just looked around until an older man, a bald and tall Ross Perot in khakis and a blue chambray shirt, came over and asked why we were there.

I had no idea why we were there, so I began spewing things like, need a break, thought this was a retreat, it's so beautiful here . . . .  I thought he might be angry that we didn't have a good enough reason to be there, his arms crossed in front of his chest and his scowling face nodding from time to time as I talked.  

All of a sudden, one of Molly's staff slid onto the bench beside me.  I was terrified that I was in trouble because she was there.  The man and the staff looked at each other and broke into a joyous reunion.  They explained they'd known each other for a long time but didn't even know that they were each "still here."  They hugged and talked, and hugged some more.  

Finally the man stood on top of our table and called out, "It's time for you to explore.  I'll reward you when you return."  He then instructed us to go hike into the hills on any of the dirt paths.  I gazed out the large door and saw a network of wiry trails on every single hill that surrounded the valley we were in.  Already, the fastest hikers appeared like little ants, gliding up and down over the hills.

I offered to stay in the building and let Molly and her staff make the trek.  Getting up and exerting energy to hike  up and down seemed exhausting. Because no one invited me to stay, I felt compelled to go out and hike.  (At this point, I remember thinking that I was glad this was a dream and I didn't have to actually go and hike those hills.)  

I dragged behind Molly and staff, encouraging them to keep their fast pace ahead of me and not worry about me.  I'd stop to tie my shoe, to zip my jacket, to put my short hair into a ponytail, to put on gloves.  Finally, they were ahead far enough that I could not see them. I was only a few yards from the building we started from.

I went back inside.  There was the man.  He said, "I knew you'd be first back, that you wouldn't go far.  You'll still get a gift from me for your effort."  I felt relieved, but somewhat embarrassed that I'd made such little effort to hike the hills.  After what seemed a very long time, the masses of people returned, rosy and invigorated from their long hikes.  I regretted my choice to opt out of the hikes as I heard them exclaiming what beauty they'd witnessed from the different hill tops.  

Molly and her staff, as invigorated as the rest, found me.  We all got in line to receive our gifts from the man.  I could not see what people were getting at the head of the line, as we were way in the back.  I was, in fact, the last person in line.  (I worried I might wake up before I got my gift because it was taking forever!)

People squealed and gasped, hugged and cried as they held their gift gently in their cupped hands.  As we inched closer, I could sometimes seen a glimmer of light, sometimes a flash of white.  No matter what, the reaction was the same.  I was so confused.  Eventually I could see that some people got what appeared to be a precious jewel, while others got a small piece of vellum paper.

I was increasingly anxious about how long this was taking.  First I worried Molly, her staff, and I would not get a gift before I woke up.  I needed to know what we were getting!  Finally, there were only a few people ahead of us, but I could sense I was beginning to wake up.  Then I did.  For a moment.  I pulled the covers up higher and turned over, and fell immediately back to sleep.

Now, Molly and her staff were holding small jewels. I did not get to witness them receiving their gifts or hear what the man said to them.  Molly's jewel was purple, her staff's was blue.  I had nothing in my hand.  

There was a woman (in western wear) standing where the man had been and she was making an announcement.  She said "He's gone.  He passed peacefully.  He was so happy to see all of you."

Everyone began weeping quietly. The tears seemed to be more of gratitude and joy for having known him than for sorrow or loss.  I began crying too, hoping people would think my tears were as joyous and calm as the rest, when really I was so sad for myself missing a gift.  

I imagined the jewels were very valuable and could have been sold for a great sum.  I imagine the paper had some sort of valuable information from the reaction of those who received the papers.  I could not stand to be there any longer, giftless.  I wanted to wake up, but I did not.  

The woman who'd taken the man's place, and who I was certain saw through my false emotions, made her way to me.  I was afraid she was going to call me out.  Instead she smiled softly and held out her closed hand.  This sort of pissed me off.  She was so genuinely kind.  I wanted to call HER out about the lack of equality in the gifts and the delivery.  I wanted to demand to know who she was, who the man was, where we were, why we were there . . . I did not want to touch her.

But I did.  I put out my outstretched open palm under her still closed hand.  In a flash, she opened her hand and out floated a small vellum strip of paper that landed on my hand.  I grasped it and brought the paper back to where I could read it.  There was one word on it.

Is this really what others were so excited about getting?  Did we all get the same word? I wanted to call her out for the hokiness of the whole process, the whole dream.  Before I could mount my protest, I was being held by Molly, her staff, and this women.  In a moment, I went from cranky to enraptured.  Like others who got their gifts earlier, bliss-filled tears wet my cheeks.

Finally our little cluster hug broke up and the woman said to me,  "You know, he saved that one just for you.  Use it when you feel you need to."  

I looked down and and read the word again.  Lacuna.  I looked back at the woman, puzzled.  "Really," she said, "it's a gift."

I fell back to sleep and woke up cranky.  Or something.  The word, lacuna, rattles around my brain and psyche.  I imagine how everything and anything in my life is like, or could be, an unfilled space, a gap?  And how is that a gift?

It's been a year . . . .

It's been a WHOLE year since:

    I posted on this blog . . .

    I traveled to Scotland . . .

    I left a job I loved but did not have the energy to continue . . .

    I started a job I love even more than the last one . . .

   

It's been ALMOST a year since:

    I made any new art . . .

    Molly almost died . . .

    I spent an hour writing for me, not work . . .

    I went swimming every day . . .

    I went to bed at night without thinking of work . . .

    I went on vacation . . .

    I took a sick day . . .

    We decided things were just too complex for it to work . . .

But it's only been a MOMENT since:

    My heart swelled at the thought of you all . . .

    I  worried about you all . . .

    I reminded myself for the millionth time that you all are strong, smart, brave . . .

    I missed you all . . .

    I had grandiose plans to be motivated to . . .

    I committed to finally do it this time . . .

What have you all been up to?



   
 








Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bully Fighting


Union Grove Lake Waterfalls - Iowa DNR


Imagine a large river with a loud, powerful, and majestic waterfall in the middle.  If you stand at the bottom of the waterfall, you will see hundreds of people falling over daily.  There are strong rescuers waiting at the bottom of the falls who wade in to the river, often many times each day, to pull the waterfall victims out.  Sadly, some people don't survive the fall, some aren't able to survive even after they are pulled out.  Joyfully, many who are rescued recover and heal.

At first, the work of being a rescuer feels rewarding, then, because of the personal physical and emotional resources needed for the work, the rescuers evenutaly get weary.  Some have even fallen in, downing or needing their own rescue.  Amazingly, some of the rescued are brave and strong enough to go back in and become rescuers themselves.

After a few days, even the strongest and bravest rescuers began to wonder, "What's at the top of the falls?  Why are people falling in the river?

Each teller of this fable has their own metaphor for what's at the top, what's causing the people to fall in and tumble over the falls.  Here are the four most common scenarios, including the one I use: 1) Bridges of varying strength and access that put some people more at risk for falling in the river (this is my second favorite metaphor); 2) people up top who made bad choices and got too close to the river or built their homes in dangerous places (victim blaming); 3) natural disasters (meh, very random, but indeed sometimes true); or my favorite, 4) there are bullies up there pushing them in.

I like the idea that it's bullies pushing the people in for two reasons.  First, anyone can become a victim of a bully; aka - racism; misogyny; interpersonal violence; unexpected medical crisis; job loss (heck, never ever being fully employed); low wages; disability; targets of homophobia or genderphobia; tariffs; patriarchy; wars - you see where I'm going.  Second, we can push those bullies in one at a time, and we can push them in over and over again until they drown and drift over the falls.  If we work together, we can push them all in the river at once, to tumble over the falls and on downstream where they will decompose and transform into fish food and fertilizer for our river banks.

An even more radical thought?   . . . maybe we can reform all some of the bullies so they can stop feeling that pushing harmless people into the water is acceptable . . .hey, I can dream.

                     __________________________________

I feel I have spent most of my adult life challenging bullies at the top of the waterfalls.  I've had some success in pushing a few in - some that stayed in and some that were able to crawl back out.  I've even gone in myself a few times as I was pushing, fortunate to survive the trip over the falls.

Yesterday was my last day working as an advocate for victims of sexual assault.  I learned so much about myself, about strength, about justice and injustice, about transformation.  But I became exhausted.  Working forty hours during the week and being "on call" every sixth day is more than a full-time job.  Even though I was fighting the interpersonal violence bully hard and strong, and sometimes got a good shove at the justice bully, I was constantly fending off the economic justice bully for myself. 

Part of my fight with the economic justice bully is committing to work reasonable hours for a wage that matches the difficulty and intensity of the work. In leaving, it feels a bit like the bully and I both went in the water then agreed to help each other out.  Still processing this . . . 

What's important is, I am walking away, dripping wet, with new understandings of myself and so many other bullies and people.  I'm sitting on the bank drying off, pondering my next interaction with a bully and imaging who my partners in the battles will be. (Bully fighting is far to dangerous and important to try to do on your own.)

Many thanks to my partners in Bully Fighting - ACCESS Assault Care Center; ISU Office of Equal Opportunity and Student Services; ISU Police; Ames Police; Mary Greeley Medical Center; Story County SART; Iowa CASA; Story County Attorney; all the other law enforcement, medical, and justice seeking agencies in Story, Boone, Greene, Marshall and Tama County; and especially thank you to all the amazing and strong survivors I got to walk beside.  A special thanks to family and friends who understood all the times you had to not be my priority. 

I have grown.  So much.  I "heart" you all.



Friday, January 19, 2018

Facebook

Facebook
I am too weary tonight to reach out
I can barely scroll through all the posts
I have nothing profound to say
And life is too heavy to report.

As I do scroll through you all's posts,
- liking, loving, laughing, being surprised, 
or getting pissed off -
I see my old posts mingled amongst them.

Twenty reactions
Three loves
Eleven comments

Aww, you all care about me.

Here, I'm just going to post this
right here.
I could use some love tonight.


Seriously.  Sometimes it's nice to just know we're thinking about each other.  Facebook is far from perfect, but it is contact, social integration.  It will keep us alive longer.  And, it allows us to "have people over" without having to clean or bake a coffee cake.  

Get up and walk, go outside, do some yoga, some stretches. Make art.  Cook yourself some yummy, healthy meal.  Call your family.  Then get back on FB and "like" or "love" my posts.  Thanks friend.













Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sexual Assault Apologies - Here's How


Apology

This.
I'm sorry. Is there
anything I can do to
make this up to you?

Not this.
Poor me, oh, poor me.
I used my privilege to
assault you. Got caught.


I would like all people who have assaulted someone in the past to just step up and put that out there. (Although I will admit it's amusing to imagine the millions of famous, infamous, and regular people squirming in the privacy of their homes, waiting for their name to come up . . .)  And, for fvck sake, do not deny, explain your psychological diagnosis, or ask for sympathy for your situation for being outed as a perp!  Here is the only thing you need to say.  Memorize it:

"I'M SORRY.  I WAS WRONG. YOU DID NOTHING TO DESERVE WHAT I DID TO YOU. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO HELP MAKE WHAT I DID UP TO YOU?" 

Here are some other important steps to remember when offering this apology -
  1. The apology is offered in private, not in the national and world media
  2. The apology is given directly from you to your victim(s).  You do not have your lawyer, friend, agent, or journalist friend deliver it.
  3. Do not just show up at your victim's door to apologize.  Send them a letter or text telling them of your intent to apologize.  If they direct your to an attorney or advocate, do what they ask.
  4. After you give the apology, you step back and wait quietly for your victim (or the victim's lawyer or advocate) to get back with you.  
  5. Your victim may never get back to you.  You have nothing to say to anyone about that.
  6. This is your victim's story, not yours. 
  7. These are first steps in giving back the power and dignity you took, and held, from your victim. It feels shitty, doesn't it, to not be in control of the situation.  Yeah, your victim knows how shitty if feels.
All these things are the opposite of what your attorney is going to tell you to do.  You can tell your attorney to go fvck themselves. 

Your victim may ask you for millions of $$$.  If you have that, give it to them.  If you don't sacrifice to give them the most that you can.  Most of the reports that are coming out these days are about assaults that happened years ago.  If the assaults were reported earlier, they were met with people calling them liars or crazy.  Then, victims who spoke up were systematically and fully black-listed, fired, avoided, and labeled as difficult or delusional.  Think of all they missed out on because of the trauma you caused in the moment and sustained with your years-long denial. 

How much do you think it's worth that you got to go forward with your life and your career as if your actions were inconsequential?  Acknowledge that your victim's reality changed, your actions affected their career options, learning ability, partner choices, family relations, and everything else that made up their lives?

So you perps . . . sshhhhh.  If your apology gets into the news, it should be your victim who is sharing what they care to share.

Rock on, brave victims.  You are changing the world for the better.

©Lori Allen 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I'm Not Weighing Myself Anymore - 4 Months, 19 Days - Until Tomorrow


Breaking the Spell

Doctor's appointment
tomorrow.  There'll be no choice.
I'll step on the scale.



The picture above, while not recent, does express what life has been like for the four months I haven't been weighing myself.  I think of my weight (and by think I mean: obsess, fret, shame, curse, and blame my genetic inheritance) infrequently these days, which has been a great gift.  I have felt lighter, able to break the chains of the cultural anchors of fat shaming. 

Being hung up on weight, for me, is a carry-over of childhood and young adult relationship stressors.  There have been times in my life when I was lighter, thin even.  Being a physical target for criticism and hurtful words (you're such a fatty, your 10% over ideal weight for a twelve-year old, honey if you could just lose five pounds, how can you let yourself go like that  . . . and so many more) allowed me to keep the focus on things I knew I COULD control rather than things I could not - like your depression, the toxic environment I lived in, the regrets you lived in. 

Being a bit overweight or fat was something I could control, something to take the focus of the things I could not control.  Being a naughty girl, a bitch, an obstacle to your dreams, these were things I could not control because I didn't know what I was doing to cause those things.  (P.S. - I now know I was not doing anything to cause your hurtful words and actions - that was YOU being an asshole.)

Finally, in this point in my life, I've learned that who I am is not who you tell me I am.  Your harsh and cruel words to me were always more about you than me.  I know that what I weigh is more about how I dealt with you than my willpower or personal strength.  And now, I live with this tension and accept that I can deal with you and me and the whole world as I care to.  One day, I may trust I can let go of this protective layer I wear, to allow people to see me.  I want to trust that I won't fall into old patterns of co-dependence.  Some day, perhaps, some day.

So, apparently when I started this whole "not weighing myself anymore" posting, I gave reports.  So, in honor of my annual physical tomorrow where I WILL be weighed, here's an updated report.

Daily goals report: 
·         Weigh in – nope.  But I did eye the scale knowing that tomorrow at this time . . . .
·         Meditate – yes.
·         Walk – Not yet. Just a bit for work. 
·         Eat – Quiche and coffee. 

      Other goals report:
·         Music came in the form of chattering, quarreling, and laughing granddaughters who are bunking with me for a couple days as their folks travel for work. 
·         Clearing my bookshelves and donating to PP booksale.  I have found Swedish Death Cleaning, consider an art that.  I am learning.
·       .Wrote a haiku - see above.
·         Writing - where have your gone?. 
·         Inspired today to update my blog after reading a client's blog.  There is strength and inspiration in V's writing.  Thank you.







Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I'm Not Weighing Myself Anymore - 3 Months - Types of Weight

Image result for scale image  Image result for stress level scale
I am happy to announce that I have NOT weighed myself since I pledged not to on my birthday back in June.  I don't have a sense that I have varied very far my my last weigh-in, and I am satisfied with that feeling.  If there is any anxiety, it is in an upcoming doctor's appointment.  My doctor has patients weighed at each visit, so it will happen.  Whether or not I want to be told the number is another matter.  Hmmm . . . . .

Truth be told, if I were interested in a weight measurement right now, it would be the weight of the stress and vulnerability that I hold, that many around me hold.  I tell myself that I am a non-anxious person handling a high stress job, I tell myself that "I've got this."

Yet today, this sunny fall day, I have struggled to see clearly in moments of metaphorical darkness. Fortunately, I've had a few moments of alone time to close my eyes and meditate.  As I closed my eyes and allowed darkness to wash over my mind, the words of David Whyte's poem, Sweet Darkness flowed through my thoughts:

The world was made to be free in.  Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.

I know what world I belong in.  I know who and what does not bring me alive.  I am claiming a larger space to live in.  That is all.

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Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired, the world is tired also.
When your vision is gone, no part of the world can find you.
It is time to go into the night where the dark has eyes to recognize its own.
There you can be sure you are not beyond love.
The dark will make a home for you tonight.
The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness to learn
anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.
                                                                                       ~ David Whyte

Image result for meditation image