“Who Do You Need to Forgive Today?”

I have been working with a set of questions as journal prompts since November. Every morning, I go through them. I let them challenge me. I add to the pages as new thoughts and new responses emerge. Sometimes, they remind me of who I am. Other times, they focus me for my day.

One of the questions is “Who do you need to forgive today?” I have listed on that page a bunch of names, people who have caused old scars and fresh wounds, some still bleeding. When I get to this page, I try to think of their intentions. I pray. I ask for more love. Some of these people I’m pretty sure I’ve forgiven. I question what it means to use “forgive” in the past tense. Is it supposed to stop hurting?

I had an encounter yesterday with an individual who was already on my list of people-to-forgive.  It left me with an out-of-breath soreness in my chest I can only identify as anxiety, a knot in my neck by the end of the conversation, my skin breaking out after a few hours of trying to process the conversation.  I woke up in the middle of the night, still thinking about it, unable to get back to sleep.

This morning when I saw “Who do you need to forgive today?,” the answer in my spirit was so clear: The person who most needs it, the person you’re most angry at, the person you’re most hurt by.

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On Faith and Feminism

…and why feminism shouldn’t be viewed as such a dirty word… 

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An Open Letter to Bill Nye

New post should be coming soon on this site, but in the meantime, want to share a post from my other blog: on Science and Faith, and a call for more understanding between the two, and a more inclusive attitude in academia more generally.

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Welcome, Mary&Marie!

Celebrating today the opening of my new blog! While I will continue to post here from time to time, as usual, I have started a new blog focusing on feminism, faith, and science.  Posts will be every Saturday at noon; I hope you’ll join us!

maryandmarie2

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New. (On Doctor Who, three years of grieving, and the new me)

Over a year.  About a week ago, someone new started following this page.  After I’d left it dormant for over a year.  After I wrote a post saying I might not ever write here again.

It’s good timing.  Something has been stirring in me.  Many things, honestly.  My life has changed enormously, again.  To the point if I wonder if this is actually just how my life is now… one big step, one big change after another.

In the past year, I’ve watched a lot of Doctor Who.  And, with each new companion, I fall in love and need to reassess who my favorite is.  Who am I like?  For a long while, it was Rose.  And I loved Martha, but she made me sad.  And Donna was silly and not much like me, although I would have been her friend.  And then there’s Amy.  Amy is fiery and I wanted to be her, too.  I feel her loyalty and stubbornness and passion and willingness to defend those she loves.  I feel it down in my soul.  The depth of her love.  Yes, I was sure I was Amy.  And then there was Clara. Clara is beauty and adventure and cleverness.  I wanted to be the Impossible Girl.  I wanted to step in to situations and save the day.  I wanted to do things that were impossible.  I wanted to be the Mystery…

And then yesterday, I realized, I don’t want to be the Companion at all.

I realized that I’m waking up again.  Every year it seems to happen all over again.  I wake up a little more from my grieving.  Over the past two weeks, I’ve reread some of my blog posts and some of the things I have written in secret places, in notebooks and in documents hidden deep in folders on my hard drive.  And every time I cry.  Every time.  Because for three years I’ve written to cope and handle things.  I wrote the experiences.  I wrote the lessons and the observations I didn’t want to lose.  I wrote what my heart was learning.  I learned so much.  The intensity of the experiences was almost too much and my writing was a way for me to get it down on the page.  To take it in, process it, and save it for a future time when I might need to revisit it.  But I haven’t written anything happy in almost three years.  I’m not sure I’ve been happy in almost three years… In little ways, yes.  I’ve been immensely happy.  I’ve had good things happen.  I’ve celebrated.  I’ve pursued more joy and happiness in my life.  In the way of adventure, and travel, and fulfillment in my work.  In my faith, in the gym, in my art.  In gratitude.  In making little donations to support things I believe in.  In cooking and getting together with friends.  But I’ve always felt… heavy.  There’s been a heaviness in my spirit that I got so used to carrying around I didn’t even notice it there.  Until this month, it left.  Or, I think it did.

Fact is, I’m changing again.  I don’t think I can be the Companion, because… I think I’m more the Doctor.

When I lost my grandparents, I remember the light going out of me.  I remember looking at pictures from before and seeing that my face had changed.  Lately, I’m seeing it again, in a way.  My body is different.  I hadn’t noticed it changing.  And I went back to read some of my writings on the body, from three years ago.  And things started making sense.

I remember that after they were gone it was hard to be happy.  It was hard because it seemed impossible– absolutely impossible– that anything good could ever happen again, not truly good at least.  At 25 years old, I didn’t really believe that the best days of my life were behind me… but they couldn’t possibly be ahead of me either.  How can the best day of my life happen when two people I loved so much, two of my biggest supporters weren’t here to see it? And every new year felt wrong, like I was being forced further away from them.

My emotions have changed, almost yearly.  For a long while, longer than I realized, and much longer than others realized, I was in a weird, depressed state.  I lost my voice– figuratively. It was kind of, numb.  I couldn’t communicate how I felt or what I wanted or didn’t want.  And then, I woke up.  A regeneration of sorts, perhaps. And it hit me that a year had passed and I only finally felt like I could breathe.  And I was stressed at work and stressed in my relationships and I needed to cope with the events of a year, including large swaths of time and conversations that I couldn’t seem to remember.  This new me didn’t know how to handle all that.  And it took about a year before I figured it out.  It took a year before I got enough of a voice back, and got upset enough and angry enough to begin to move forward.  And then I stopped.  And I stayed there. Some things were better.  I was happy at work.  Blissfully happy at work.  Overworked, but happy at least.  I was making discoveries about this new version of myself.  And after a year of that, I’ve recently entered some more recent incarnation of myself.  I’m still figuring her out.  She’s wildly outspoken, for one; which is not something altogether new to me, but this seems more extreme.  She’s getting back about her business.  About her art and her ideas… things left unexplored and untouched for a long while.  She’s weighing her intentions and her desires.  She’s deeper and more light all at the same time.  Suddenly, after three years of rain and fertilizer… things are starting to grow and bud and blossom.

I’ve never liked the regeneration aspect of Doctor Who.  I mean, I get the new face bit.  I can live with that.  I suppose the show couldn’t have been all David Tennant all the time (sadly). But the new personality always confuses me.  It seems so, foreign.  The most alien bit of my favorite alien.  Yesterday was the first time I think I understood.  We’re always changing.  We all have the events in our lives which will be the “before” and “after” moments.  We are never the same.  Our cells, our chemistry, our personalities… always in flux, always regenerating.  We die.  We die in relationships and we die to negative influences (we hope).  We die in a thousand little ways.  And we grieve, when we’re wise enough and brave enough to face it.  And we go on living.  We come to new understandings.  Old wounds heal or fester (our choice).  We make peace with the past, or ignore it, or fight it.  We become new.  Sometimes better.  Sometimes colder and more distant.  But new, nonetheless.

I feel like I may be finally entering that butterfly stage, afterall.

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This may be my last blog… or not.

This page isn’t very active anymore.  In my head, I keep intending on doing something about that.  I am still cooking and creating, and living life as creatively as I can imagine.  Summer brought dance classes, my first silks class, rock climbing.  I have not gardened in two summers.  I miss it.  But I did get a crock pot and made delicious chicken stew.

I began blogging to find a community.  I wanted to have conversations.  And I did find one, of sorts.  A few of you out there who I have connected with, and the occasional exchange of comments, discussion, encouragement.  I am thankful and will continue to return to read– and write the occasional post.

What I found, however, is that I already had a community.  And as my blog has waned, my private social networking life has flourished.  There is real exchange of ideas happening.  Real thought.  Thinking more critically.  Making a point and backing it up.  I beam that I know these awesome people and get to bear witness to their thoughts.  I flatter myself that, at least in creating a venue, of sorts, and supplying a topic… I have facilitated this.  It’s a new role I feel like I’m trying out in my life on a larger scale.  Facilitator.  I am wondering if what I am doing in my private, online life… is what I’m doing in the classroom with my students.  I am wondering if this is some inherent, latent part of myself– why I chose this career path to begin with– because on some level, this is what I do.  This is my strength… I’m not sure if that’s true.  In class, I lecture a lot.  I have to.  And I love to.  But while I hated being broken into groups when I was a student (still do)… I do this a LOT in my class.  I want to hear their ideas.  Want them to talk to each other. I asked them each what their goals and concerns were for the class. I want them to view this as a personal journey, not just a required class.  It’s a writing class, in part, so I suppose I have that luxury.  Neuroscience might be harder to sell that way.  I suppose I shall have to wait and see.

So this is an explanation, with a little update and no promises.  I’ll write here from time to time… but the happy ending is that sometimes the thing you went looking for is the thing you already had.  So I’m clicking my heels three times, and away I go… at least for now.

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Trayvon Martin, Injustice, and “It”

When I was in elementary school, we’d visit the school library about once a week.  It was probably my favorite room in the building, besides any room with a piano.  In a little, Christian school that didn’t have a lot of money, there seemed to be books everywhere.  A large room, with shelves all around the perimeter and a couple more forming an aisle by the door.  I have very few memories of the books I took out from here, though.  As I got older, I often didn’t get to read the longer chapter books, usually mysteries, that I took out.  Being little, I have no memory of seeking out the classics.  I have no idea if we even had those books.  But I remember reading about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  I remember reading about Harriet Tubman, and female spies during the Revolutionary and Civil wars– the unsung heroes, the suffragettes, the abolitionists,  I remember the paper I wrote about Shirley Chisholm in the fourth grade.  I remember buying books about Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, and Eleanor Roosevelt.  

I’m not sure why I was so drawn to these books… although I assume it was simply in my blood.  Not just the Feminism, but the desire for justice.  The desire to fight for what one believes in.  It must have been handed down to me from my mother, who lived through the 70s, and my grandparents who recounted stories of their being discriminated against for being Italian when they were young, and instead of forgetting, took the lesson with them and judged people only on the quality of their hearts. 

Perhaps I should start further back. Before I could read those stories, before I knew about how the Irish teachers treated my Italian grandparents, before I knew how cool the 70s were; I grew up believing that everyone was equal.  I grew up with parents who taught me I could be whatever I wanted to be if I worked hard and put my mind to it.  I grew up playing with dolls and cars.  And watching a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to round out my Disney princess infatuation.  My school was racially mixed.  My best friends were both white and black.  And I had no idea.  I had no idea why my mom couldn’t cornrow my hair like my best friends’.  And it was years before I would figure that out (maybe I wasn’t too bright, but I digress).  This was my life.  We were White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, and everything in between.  And we played and held hands and had crushes and none of us knew any different.

Depending on how old I am in theory, Trayvon Martin could have been my best friend.  My first crush.  My prom date.  He could have been one of the kids at my mom’s church.  He could be my son someday.  He could be my nephew, my best friend’s baby boy, who I am in love with as though I were his Aunt by blood.  

My heart breaks for Trayvon.  For the hopes and dreams and plans he had that will never be realized.  For his family, who will never hold him or touch him again.  Unable to forget, able only to mourn.  My heart breaks for the facebook statuses I see.  The mothers, aunts, youth– who know this could have been their son, their nephew, their life… I’m broken by the statuses of people that I love and care about who feel that this country still believes they are less than human.  That their lives matter little.  It hurts.  It hurts seeing people I care so deeply about feel so uncared for.  I see facebook statuses that are understanding, sad, enraged, broken, unifying, dividing.  We are all drowning in this: the fact that a boy is dead and the person on the other end of the gun is going free.  Going home to his family, a luxury that Trayvon will never get.  It should upset us.  It should enrage us.  Yes, I believe that Trayvon lost his life because of the color of his skin.  It adds to the hurt.  It adds to all our hurt… 

There are evil people in this world.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  And we can pass a lot of blame around.  In a case where a child is dead and the murderer goes free: something is wrong.  Many things are wrong.  And we can point fingers if we like.  But this is how I see it: There is no “they.”  Hear me out: There is no “they” that doesn’t care.  That allows children to die. that allows people to be mistreated and disregarded and killed for the color of their skin.  Yes, I believe there are evil people– and they should be punished.  But mostly, we fight against an “it.”  

It’s the same evil and injustice that allows women– regardless of skin color, to walk around in fear of being raped.  It’s the same injustice that decimated the Native American populations so many years ago.  That shot Malala Yousafzai for trying to go to school.  That assassinated Martin Luther King Jr.  That killed millions of Jewish people (and others) in the Holocaust.  That wages war in the Middle East, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in places all around the world.  It’s the same spirit that says that any race, religion, country, region, location, skin color, ethnicity, hair color, eye color, ability or disability, age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or anything else– is better, worse, or should be feared.  It is the thing that divides us.  It is the spirit not only in our culture– but in every culture.  Is this a sad remainder of our American history?  Yes.  But it is not our heritage as Americans.  It is our heritage as humans.  There is not a group that remains untouched– as both aggressor and victim.  If there is a “they”– we are all that “they.”  But we are also the only hope to fight against it.  Not against each other.  But against the injustice and prejudice and fear that holds us all back.  Because, speaking as a white woman, Trayvon still could have been my brother, my husband, my son.  His death affects us all.  It is the story of every minority group.  And we should not stand for it.  But I hope we are careful to remember to stand together.  A child is dead and it is a nightmare.  But it’s not too late to be the Dream.  

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