August 22, 2015

Understanding Or Not

Perspective. A very interesting word. My go-to friend,, lists the top four definitions in spatial terms. For the purposes of this post we are going to jump right over the physical aspects and jump into the reasoning/reflective definitions. They are:

"5. the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship:

[example] You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective.
6. the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship:

[example] Your data is admirably detailed but it lacks perspective.
7. a mental view or prospect:

[example] ...the dismal perspective of terminally ill patients." ( Hi, again, friend) defines the adjective aspect of 'understanding' as characterized by: "understanding (the noun); prompted by, based on, or demonstrating comprehension, intelligence, discernment, empathy, or the like: [example]  an understanding attitude."

Recently a friend was telling me about a CD presentation he was listening to. He found the core idea extremely compelling. It describes how people are gravely divided in viewpoints and profoundly unwilling to listen to 'the other side' of the picture. According to the speaker on the CD, those people holding differing sides of so many issues are unwilling to look at things from different perspectives, not just with the fear of having their opinions changed but a bitter rejection of even trying to attempt understanding the other side. This includes major issues such as religion, social concerns, political party stances right down to minor topics such as buttock enhancement.

My friend and I discussed what a peaceful world this would be if people were open to listening to how other people feel about any specific subject. My friend was very positive about the wonderful changes this practice could bring to the world. We both agreed that many conversations end up as arguments because so many people are so focused on defending their own beliefs or viewpoints that we don't hear the other person's words, let alone understand their meaning.

My friend and I then moved the discussion to the way girls and women are devalued in our culture, and, yes, by using the word 'culture' I am including men and women. You see, the way it happens is, when women are raised in a society that devalues them, they don't value themselves or other women. Yes, we do get a little snarky with each other. We are often cruel to each other, we compete with each other and we judge each other....shame on us.

I made the statement that I believe that organized patriarchal religions systematically support and encourage society's oppression of women (and female children). The devaluing of women almost encourages abuse and rape as an entitlement to some men.

I didn't use those exact words but my open-minded friend jumped to the defense of his particular patriarchal religion. The conversation took a nose dive.

Whoa! Wait a minute! What happened to the idea of trying to understand another person's perspective?

What I learned from that conversation:

     1. Listening and understanding is a good idea but it should start with someone else.
     2. The bible does not diminish women nor support the continued inequality of women in spite of the words that describe woman as chattel, unclean, and demand their silence, especially in .
     3.  I am going to suffer serious consequences after death for my questioning and lack of participation in organized patriarchal religion, even though participating (in my opinion) constitutes silent approval of the offensive portrayal of women.
     4.  Watch the road and keep my thoughts to myself......"Cow!"

Just for the record, I would like to share a couple of quotes from the Bible. Not sure which edition of the bible but can I just interject that if The Word is so dang important, why are the 'words' different in so many of the hundreds of editions of Bibles?


"A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."
Timothy 2:12

"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says."
1 Corinthians 14:34
" be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
Titus 2:5

If you find any of the scripture above offensive to  your moral code, by all means, please avoid Leviticus 12,  wherein women who have given birth to a daughter are twice as "unclean" as a woman who has given birth to a son. It goes on to demand that a woman who has been raped and resides in the countryside must marry her rapist! If a woman in the city is raped without crying out, the Bible demands her to be stoned to death. (p.s. when I was raped the monster put his hands around my throat and threatened to kill me if I didn't stop screaming. Either way, the woman loses.).

I love Jesus but will He send me to hell for thinking that the Bible is one of the most mysoginistic books in existence? 

Listening for understanding how another feels.....what a concept! When listening-for-understanding becomes the norm then maybe my friend and I can revisit the conversation.  Conversation in our relationship is "in the box" and there will be no stepping out of the box unless the box itself gets a little bigger through the general concensus of society, then our relationship may be able to stretch....maybe.

Until then our conversations will probably sound like:

"How you doing?"

"Good. How you doing? "


"Want to talk about something meaningful?"

"Not for nothing!"

August 04, 2015

A Camping We Will Go

Photo by Toni Tona
Yeah, that's right!

California is on fire and hubby wants to go camping.

The PLAN: He gets off of work at 5:30, unless a customer comes in at 5:28 and a customer always comes in at 5:28! So, he will probably get off of work at 6. Come home (play with great-granddaughter because who can resist that smile? Besides, she makes him take her out to the pool and pick a kumquat for each of her little fists. She loves those kumquats, even the ones that make her shoulders shiver!) Then he will change clothes, make sure all the camera batteries, cards, tripods, etc are accounted for and functioning. An hour drive to the campground will put us there just about dusk.

I love setting up the tent at dusk, don't you?

Then tomorrow, before noon, we will break camp (he works on Thursday), hang around the mountains for awhile and head back to the valley before dinner (grandson is cooking chicken enchiladas Thursday evening and we don't want to miss out!).

My husband suggested this same plan for last week but somehow I dodged that bullet. I think I cried and sang a song about no room on my plate for one more thing.....he bought it!

Last night he suggested it again. You pray and pray and pray for your husband to be more spontaneous and you get mini-camping, hurry up and get there so you can get back!  No more praying, well, at least, my prayers will be much more specific.

Don't get me wrong. I love camping. I actually love, love, love camping. The mountains are the most fabulous venue in the world for refreshing the soul. I've just never been a fan of one-night-stands.

Car is packed. Food is packed. Clothes are only mostly packed because I am putting it off by blogging!

I could be gathering the camera equipment, make sure the batteries are charged, make sure the tripods get in the car. I could run to the store and get Frank a new pair sandals to replace the ones that snapped while he skipped slimy rocks in a creek at the foot of Castle Craggs trying to get that 'perfect' photo.

Oops, just got caught by the man himself. He came home to charge the batteries for the camera. Doesn't look like I'm going to be able to use the excuse of "working hard all day to get us packed at the last minute" to get out of a night hike or cooking dinner. 

Off we go, to sleep under the stars (on the rocks we didn't see in the twilight).

Someone call and remind me not to forget the cork screw!

August 01, 2015

A Confession

I am a liar.

I'm a really good liar!

My mom taught me how to lie. In fact, my mother taught me to live a lie. She also taught me how to drive, how to fry chicken, how to crochet, to sew and that I was extremely damaged. She taught me to be ashamed of the truth and hide the true-me.

Growing up, my dad taught me critical thinking and that I could be anything I wanted to be with some hard work and dedication. He also taught me how to shoot, fish, drive a stick-shift, that education was important, how to cook the world's best lasagna and beef stroganoff!  He taught me other stuff, too, and continues to teach me to this day but he could never counter my mom's lessons on my brokenness.

Many of you know about the events in my family's lives that I was instructed to lie about, to pretend never happened, and taught to be ashamed of.  Truth was rarely welcome in my childhood home, in fact, we were often convinced to hide the truth from our own father. One very significant day of shame was the time a distracted woman drove her car into our car ( twice), causing my extremely shy little sister to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance.  Her collar bone was broken, she'd just been in a pretty incredible car accident, and had to make the trip to the hospital with strangers while Mom stayed behind with the police

When we returned home from the hospital, Mom made my sister hide in her bedroom until our mother could gradually and gently 'break the news' to Dad that we had been in a an awful accident and that the car was wrecked (not to mention that my little sister was injured in more ways than just the fractured collar bone).. My dad was not violent. He was probably hurt that he wasn't called and told that we needed him. I'll ask him about that next time I see him.

Can you imagine the shame a 9 year old feels when she thinks she has to hide her injuries from her own father?  If that accident had happened while I was a mother, the first call I would make is to my child's father to ask him to meet my daughter at the hospital or ride in the ambulance with her if possible.

We learned to be afraid of the truth.

We learned that 'we' weren't enough.

In high school, I would come home and Mom would ask me about my day. She always seemed so disappointed that I was just a kid, going to school, learning, then returning home. Boring. Her kid wasn't popular. Of course, what could you expect from a defective child?  So I started making up stories that would make her laugh, or at least make her smile. I tried to make her like me with my stories.

I learned that simple stories were not enough. Stories needed expansion. My imagination is bigger than life and I can spin a good story.

Somehow that carried on for some time.  I buried the true-me.

I fell in love but was always too afraid to share the true-me with him. He asked me to marry him, having fallen in love with the not-me.

I was over-the-moon excited to show Mom and Dad my ring and tell them I was getting married. Mom's first comment was, "Did you tell him about what happened to you? He may not want you if he knows what happened?"

Really? He might not love me if he finds out that I am damaged goods because I was raped when I was 10?  Is that what she thought?  I told him. He wanted me any way. But I chose a man who couldn't be faithful. I knew it because he had cheated on me even before we were married but I loved him with all my heart. I also didn't believe that I deserved to be loved. After all, I was a broken person. He hurt me for years and I kept thinking, if I forgive him this time, he will see how much I love him. But he only looked at me like I was a chump. Not his fault, it was all mine. I taught him how to treat me.

After 13 years, we separated. Not because of the cheating (which broke my heart) but because he let my kids watch a gathering of his drug buddies as they cleaned out a brick of pot and cut up some cocaine to divide amongst themselves.

Years later, he made a joke to our daughter, that every 13 years I go a little crazy.  I sometimes lay in bed and wonder what would have happened if my daughter had responded, "No, actually, Dad. Every 13 years she gets tired of the bull shit and walks away from it."

Over the years, I have told family stories, sometimes adding side-notes to  make the old stories more interesting, more entertaining. Now my family makes jokes about how I can spin a tail. Sometimes, I just forget the exact way things happened, so in the re-telling of an event I get the dialogue wrong or the order of things mixed up.

I've stopped spinning yarns. I try to keep my creative imagination to my writing. Over the past couple of years, I've discovered that I have become the butt of some pretty hurtful jokes.  That's okay. People say what they are going to say.

What I can say now, is that I am releasing the True-me. Bringing her out to the light and giving her a little love.  Yeah, she's got some wounds but she is not broken.  The True-me loves unconditionally. The True-me prays for those who have hurt me; I pray that the pain that causes them to strike out will heal.

The True-me loves my mother and father and knows that they did their best. The True-me is a wise, loving, nurturing woman who has some weaknesses and some challenges. I'm working on them.

The True-me has been released and she is not going back into the shadows.....ever!

The True-me is actually about half an inch taller than the Not-me and I like that.