Saturday, June 20, 2020

Falling and beginning again





I was writing in my head while doing the dishes. "At times, I don't know if I am going to survive this. To get through." I stopped scrubbing as I realised with a bit of a shock but also a laugh that I haven't. The me that was before all this began is...Changed.

Now, I am not talking about the essence. I proclaimed that a little too forcefully recently in a friendly text exchange: "I know that at the center of my existence I am a good person, generous and kind. That much I am certain of." It is my refrain when the world becomes doubtful. No, I am talking more about the fuzzy outer layers. Personality, if you will. Ego. Tastes and preferences. Perspectives and preconceptions. A matter of trust.

Over and over, trust. My lips are sweaty against my folded knuckles, I take a moment to breathe in and out, loudly, over that word. It has been four years, four years since my couple imploded and yet I still have trouble putting trust in a man. And to trust my choices and attractions, me who usually considers myself such a solid judge of character. To trust that I am worthy of a good man, a clear strong love. Why do my eyes tear up to write that? Because my heart was hurt this week in the trying. And how long will it be before I finally heal myself? This too, I know is up to me.

I have written about the impact of the months of imposed solitude and isolation have had on my psyche but it was premature. Just like any trauma, the after-effects are still rolling out. Often, I find myself walking through the streets, finally free to do so with hunched shoulders and lowered head, as if hiding. Sometimes, I will chide myself, "pick your head up, Heather. Stand tall, you have nothing to be ashamed of." But I can't always do it. Sometimes, I feel ashamed.

It has not even been a month since George Floyd was murdered. Do you remember feeling that shock in watching the video for the first time? Trying to comprehend what was happening? That moment when you understood that you were watching a man being killed? I do. That too, broke something in me. As has the incomprehensible police brutality, the unsparing hatred screaming, the relentless provocation of a man so insensitive to the world that he could propose to stage a rally in America's most racism ravaged city on Juneteenth. Through my spirituality, I had previously come to the point where I thought that "good" and "evil" were mainly religious constructs. Now, I question that as well. To not have trust - yes that word again - in the morality of humanity? That has changed me too.

I am in a state of parenthesis. What is to be filled in between the ( and the ) I do not know.

Listen, this is not sad. This is, again, not about me really. It is just that if I feel that I am no longer the person that I once was, either four years or four weeks ago, it is just a further reminder that we are all constantly in a state of more forceful change than we realise. As in Buddhism, there are the waves that flow through our lives but we are not those surges and hollows, we are the sea. We are the sea itself. Perhaps it is helpful to remember that if we can.

I may not be entirely sure of the "who" of I am right now but I very aware, on this Summer Solstice of...of?...my aliveness. I have a voice. I have this heart that cares too much but that is what it is. If I focus, I can wonder what trust in this time would feel like...in my own body, where can I sense it? In our collective society, where can I antennae tap out something to lean into? ... Again, I put my head into my hands, I massage out the "lion's wrinkle" in-between my eyes and...the only answer that makes any sense at all is Love. It seems completely paradoxical given all that I have written above but the only thing that I can trust in when all else is broken, falling and yet beginning, is, Love.

There is nothing that burns brighter in our human existence. Yes, it feels a bit like coming home, of an evidence to think so on the longest day of a very long year. In journalism, it is a cardinal error to repeat oneself. I am entirely aware that I am doing so, constantly, in these posts. And yet if it is because I continually do so to side with Love, on that I will stand.




Happy Solstice, everyone.

I have done a recording of this post. I am enjoying doing them, so thank you for your encouragement!

You can listen to it: HERE.

Within the above text, I have also included a lot of links to other posts, mainly recent but also with some from the past that might be of interest to my newer readers (thank you!). 




I have been listening to this gorgeous rendition of Martin Gaye's "What's going on" non-stop since my friend Trudye send it to me. Including while I wrote this post.
May it bring courage to your heart as well...







As always, I am so grateful for your presence.
Do you realise that we are coming up on ten years?
And what is incredible is that most of you have been here from the very beginning.
Through so many highs and lows.

On we go...

As Edgar says, "Stay strong, stay safe, be well, be kind."


With so much Love from Provence,

Heather














Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Living history




I walked with my friend Kenza and her little sister, Jade.

Both are young enough to be my daughters.

I stood for Leonard Wells, my Mom's husband and one of my best friends, My Buddy.

I watched as people of all ages mixed and chanted.

"No Justice, No Peace!"

At one point I cried. After taking a knee.

But this isn't about me, it is about us all.

To feel us united, all over the world.

There was a lot of blatant racism in my Dad's side of the family.

When I was 15, I punched him in the chest when he pushed me too far.

I am the end of this particular line of the family.

And I am proud to be able to say, "This stops with me."

It may only be the beginning, but it is a start.

This is living history.

Black Lives Matter.












On the way home, I counted 13 police vans in front of the Sous-Prefecture. 



We can march, educate, donate, sign and vote.

Every voice counts.

And each silence does too.

"The change begins within me, the change begins within you."


With much Love and Gratitude from Provence,

Heather


Monday, June 1, 2020

Up to us




In some ways, I feel right back at the beginning.

Those first few days of realising that we were in for the long haul with COVID 19 and that we have no idea how it might end.

So gripped in fear that I am paralysed by it.

Spending hours upon hours scrolling social media and the internet to try and get information, to try and understand.

As if it were possible to comprehend all of the pain and anger, the division and violence that has occurred since the murder of George Floyd.

It has been almost a week and the police brutality that I have seen has broken me.

But it can't.

For if we still have far to go with this pandemic, it is nothing compared to the battle of dismantling racism. Racism, inequality, which is stitched in the fabric our Western and capitalist societies. Someone is always "better off" than the other, that is just "how it is."

It is why so many have been blind to their own beliefs for so long because they were literally born into them. It's too close to see.

And it is too close. Too close when police officers shoot a peaceful protester in the face with rubber bullets or Taser or tear-gas a young girl.

It is too close when members of the press are fired upon and arrested.

When politicians incite not protect. When they do nothing to quell or unify. Or simply nothing at all. "Let the fires burn."

Several times this week, I have wondered if there are elements to what is happening that make it similar to what it must have been like at the beginning of the rise of Nazism. So many events in so little time and the public cannot handle it, so they simply side with the easiest "solution." The winning party. One with plenty of propaganda, whether it be fact or fiction.

Even while humanity falls apart.

We can't let it. We can't. Not again. Not again and again and again. And again and again and again.

In an exchange with my friend Patricia this morning, she asked: "Where are the voices of strength and guidance?" and I responded, "Who is going to bring us all together again?"

Which brought about another idea that had been rolling about in my brittle brain recently, that of President Barack Obama's comment during one of his recent graduation speeches: "“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you."

It's up to us. No one is going to help. There is no "leader" in sight. Please don't turn away. I know it is painful and frightening but nothing near what it must be for the black community who lives through cultural, societal and economic discrimination every single day because of the color of their skin that they were born into. That is not a choice.

But how we move forward collectively is.

I don't know what that looks like but I do believe that it is possible.

And that is the most hope that I have felt in months. Perhaps I am too naive. But if the pandemic has taught me anything, it is that there is much good in this world. We can unite around a cause and we can find each other through love.

Please. Don't think, do. The change starts within me. The change starts within you.




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If you have not yet listened to one of my audio recordings of my posts, this might be a good one to start.

You can find the english version: here.

Pour mes amis francophones...je suis désolée, ce n'est franchement pas au top, mais voilà: c'est ici.





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HOW YOU CAN HELP

Sign a petition:

Justice for George Floyd on change.org

#JusticeforFloyd on act.colorofchange.org


Donate:

Official George Floyd Memorial Fund on gofundme.com

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Black Lives Matter

Communities United Against Police Brutality

The Minnesota Freedom Fund

National Bail Out Fund - Free Black Mamas


Educate yourself:

Black Women Radicals and AAFC Solidarity reading list

"Algorithms of Opression" bookclub via womenscenterforcreativework.com

"On becoming anti-racist" on cupofjoe.com

I thought this was very much worth the watch. Truly helpful:

Trevor Noah speaking on recent events.


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These are, quite obviously, my personal emotions and thoughts. I realise well that I might be misinformed no matter how well-intentioned. So please, feel free to respond in the comments or by email. 

It just felt necessary to do something on top of what I have suggested above. 
Something to try and get to a more positive place so that I can continue to take action.
Continue to learn. 

For days I did not write because I again felt as I did in this post at the beginning of the pandemic.

How could I find the words to contribute? That could move us forward? Then as now...

"I have exactly the words that I need. 

They are:

I miss you.

I love you.

Are you ok? "

Please let me know how you are and what your experience of this terrifying time has been.

With much Love and Gratitude,

Heather

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This post is dedicated to Leonard Wells, My Buddy.