Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Begin Again . . . .

There was an old man named Michael Finnegan,
He grew whiskers on his chin again.
He shaved them off but they grew in again.
Poor old Michael Finnegan.  Begin again.

There was an old man named Michael Finnegan,
Ate all his dinner from a tin again.
When it was all done he'd fill it up again.
Poor old Michael Finnegan.  Begin again.
                                         From a Children's Song

I remember my grandfather singing the first verse of this song to me when I was watching him shave.  I asked him why he shaved every single day.  The song was his reply.  He rarely sang, so just hearing his gravely voice try to create a tune was a hysterical joke to me.  When I begged him to sing it again, he refused and sent me to my grandmother to have her sing it to me.  She complied and sang not just one, but several verses to the song.  I was delighted to learn a new song with such a catchy tune and wonderful rhyming phrases.  Grandma and I even made up some of our own verses about cooking, cleaning, sleeping. . . . each and every verse ending with  begin again.

It wasn't until I was an adult singing bits of the orginal song and making up new verses with my children that the profundity of the simple song hit me.  Begin again.  Every verse tells us to begin again.  It doesn't say one more time, or number how many times, it simply reminds us to begin again.  And again, begin again.

Yesterday this song came to mind as I had a conversation with a young man about an upcoming project we're working on together.  He was so enthusiastic - for me.  I on the other hand, I was thinking of Michael Finnegan.  Exactly how many times can I, can anyone, begin again?  Where can I find a similar energy of my own to tap into to meet this young man where he is?  When does one stop beginning again?  It didn't take me long to catch up with his enthsuiasm.  Michalel Finnegan reminded me to begin again.  And again.  

As I ponder when to stop beginning again, I know the answer to that.  I will no longer begin again the moment I draw my last breath.  For now, I have a lot of "things" to beginning again . . . . getting up everyday, hugging my family every opportunity I have, finding joy and meaning in the work I do, loving the opportunities and challenges that each day brings, simply-waking each day.

May you find joy in all that you begin again today.

The was an old man named Michael Finnegan,
He slept each night and woke each morn again.
Worked for justice, peace, and love within.
That lucky old Michael Finnegan.  Begin again.
                                                         My Latest Verse

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Silence? Not always golden.

Today, while catching up on Facebook posts, something was tripped in me that made me decide it was time to write another blog post.  You see, growing up in the Midwest, I have mastered the art of being "Midwest Nice."  If someone says something that is offensive and demeaning to me, or even to a large portion of the population, I let it go so that I don't hurt the speaker's feelings.  For example, this particular Facebook post.  A friend who lives in Nebraska posted that reading the news made her brain hurt, then she added a link to a story about the Nebraska Supreme Court (Six white men over the age of 60 and one white women perhaps a bit younger than 60) ruling that a sixteen year old is not mature enough to have an abortion.  Seriously.  (  There are a lot of details here ...  she told the court that she was pregnant, and that she would not be financially capable of supporting a child or being "the right mom that [she] would like to be right now,"  according to the court ruling.  But she also told the court that she feared losing her placeent in foster care if her highly-religious foster parents learned of her pregnancy.

There were a couple of responses to this post that I "liked" about the story being outrageous, and then there was the comment from Julie S.  I don't know Julie S.  Julie S. doesn't know me.  Julie S. commented that "no" person is mature enough to have an abortion.  She then told of her recent attendance at a fundraiser for a particular ministry that reaches out to the "abortion-wounded."  She shares how these poor women were told that their lives would "return to normal" after the abortion, how the abortion was the "best thing."  Now these sorry women, even 40 years later, are still carrying the burdens of that decision.

With my pulse rate and blood pressure perhaps double of what it was before reading her post, I began pounding my response to her post.  First attempt - too sarcastic.  Second attempt - too angry.  Third attempt - didn't even complete it.  Instead I erased everything, reminded myself to be nice, and kept scrolling down reading more Facebook posts.  But as I scrolled I thought, who's going to speak up and let people know that Julie S. can't speak for everyone?  It is not true that no person is mature enough to have an abortion.  And there is no such diagnosis as abortion wounded, it is a thing made up by these so called ministries.  Please!  And the lies about all these physical effects that linger for decades?  Nope, have to say something.  So, I scrolled back up to Nebraska friend's post and wrote the following response:  I know many, many, many incredible/wonderful/ethical/moral/whole/powerful/fun/spiritual/successful women who have had abortions.  For those who have bought into the shame and baggage that others want them to carry - I pray they find a counselor (or sista) to help them shake off propaganda-filled and emotionally charged phrases like "abortion wounded."

Of couse there were responses to this. A "like" and a supportive comment, then Julie S., again.  She wrote that the women she has met (I assume she is talking about the women she has met who have had abortions, but then, how would she know if a woman she meets has had an abortion?) are hurting and are blessed to have found help.  There it is, the "H" word.  Those poor women need help.  Hell, honey, we all need help from time to time, doesn't matter what our abortion-having status is!  Then Julie S. throws a distracting comment about miscarriage and how some women feel as though they have lost a child when that happens.  Huh?  Of course we all react differently to similar experiences.  We have different ways of healing, and sometimes not healing.  Then she says I should not criticize those with whom I do not agree?  WTF?  Julie!  Can you not see that you were criticizing anyone who does not feel they need abortion woundedness intervention?  Did you not just say NO ONE is mature enough to have an abortion?  Sounds pretty critical and judgmental.

This is when the conversation usually goes something like, "well, whatever works for you."  But I can't do that nice shit anymore.  Now, in your face I say, whatever works for you and you and you and you . . . . as long as:  1.  Men or women who have no relation to you do not decide what you should do with your body and with your life.  2.  Men or women who do have a relationship with you and want to help you in your decision-making process do not use abuse, coercian, threats, guilt, power, religious or political authority, or any other unethical means to get you to do what they want you to do with your body and your life.  3.  At all times in the process there are opportunities for grieving, healing, gratitude, compassion, anger, empathy, and joy.  4.  No person appoints themselves or others as an authority on what your path in life should be.  5.  Affirmation of YOU as the authority on your life, your decisions, and your feelings is held up at all times.

So, friends, all I can say is this - speak up.  Do allow your Midwest, Southern, Western, Tropical, or Whatever "nice" you have to get in the way of sharing the truth that there are many, many ways to live a holistic and healthy life.