On the eve of the presidential election, I offer this poem of Hafiz written in the 1300’s in Persia.
It Happens All The Time – Hafiz
It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth –
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
And women and women
Who give each other
Often will get down on their knees
And while so tenderly
Holding their lover’s hand,
With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,
How can I be more loving to you;
How can I be more kind?’
This week, the Democratic National Convention is in Philadelphia, and there are lots of activists doing lots of amazing things: republicans, democrats, socialists, you name it. They are highlighting a variety of issues including immigration rights, climate change, marijuana legalization, and transgender rights.
Being an activist is hard work, and it can be emotionally draining. Damon Constantinides, a licensed clinical social worker, started a website called Healing for Activists. In a recent article on Billy Penn, Constantinides said “many Black Lives Matter activists are people of color, and may come from underserved communities in regards to mental health. With the stressors of racism in America and recent events, they may also be traumatized by encounters with police.” Constantinides noticed that activists may have difficulty accessing affordable therapy services, so he created Healing for Activists, a list of Philadelphia-based therapists who will provide a free or discounted session for activists and advocates (see article on Colorlines).
Healing for Activists is “a list of therapists in the Philadelphia area who are committed to supporting Black Lives Matter and the struggle to end racism and the killing of black people. They have committed to reserving at least one free or low fee slot in their therapy practice for activists who are seeking counseling or mental health support.”
I am proud to be listed as one of the therapists who will offer a free session, and while the list was intended for Black Lives Matter activists, I support all activists.
Thank you for making our world a better place.
Here is a poem that’s gone viral, written by Benjamin Giroux, a 10-year old with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Benjamin was featured on the Today show and is an ambassador with the National Autism Association.
His father remarked “Ben’s goal was to have people understand that being odd is different, and different is amazing, and people shouldn’t be afraid of who they are, and that makes me one proud father!” – Sonny Giroux
The text of Benjamin’s poem follows, as well as a link to a video where you can learn more about him. Thank you Benjamin for your poem and your courage.
I am odd I am new
I wonder if you are too
I hear voices in the air
I see you don’t and that’s not fair
I want to not feel blue
I am odd I am new
I pretend that you are too
I feel like a boy in outer space
I touch the stars and feel out of place
I worry what others might think
I cry when people laugh it makes me shrink
I am odd I am new
I understand now that so are you
I say I “feel like at castaway”
I dream of a day that that’s okay
I try to fit in
I hope that some day I do
I am odd, I am new
Like many people, I have been troubled by the recent violence in the news. So today, I offer Maya Angelou‘s poem in her own words. You can browse her books and find more on her website, or check out the documentary, also entitled And Still I Rise.
There has been much in the news this week about the six-month jail sentence for Brock Turner in the Stanford rape case, and the power statement issued by his victim.
This case got me thinking about consent, which is not just the absence of “No”, but also the presence of “Yes”. Consent is an agreement between people to participate in activities, and can be withdrawn at any time.
Morgan Roe and Liz Andrade created a storyboard (shown to the right) that teaches children about consent. There is also a great article from Joanna Schroeder, Julie Gillis, Jamie Utt and Alyssa Royse at the Huffington Post that talks about how to teach consent to children, teens, and young adults based upon their age groups.
Finally, you could check out this video (less than three minutes) from the Thames Valley Police in the UK, comparing tea and consent with a bit of humor.
Time is a funny thing. It passes so quickly, and today I had one of those experiences where your life passes before your eyes.
It was raining heavily and I was taking my car to be inspected. Someone made a sharp left turn in front of me, and I slammed on the brakes.
That was the moment when snippets of my life flashed in my mind.
I am happy to report that the anti-lock brakes worked perfectly, and a tragedy was avoided. Afterwards, I started to think about the Five Regrets of the Dying.
Bronnie Ware was a hospice nurse where she spent time with people who were dying. During this experience, she noticed that many people had similar regrets and she categorized them in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Let’s take a look.
The top five regrets of the dying:
- I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, instead of the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard (or much).
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish I let myself be happier.
As I reflect on my morning drive, I know that I can live my life without regrets, knowing that time is a precious thing, and that accidents do happen; every day, all the time. So how might I live my life without regrets? Jenny Nichols has some great suggestions (40 of them!) about how to live without regrets. Among them are:
cultivating a sense of gratitude
taking care of yourself
relaxing with family and friends
becoming the person you’d like to spend the rest of your life with
treating yourself and others with dignity, respect, and compassion
doing something every day that makes you feel proud
So today, I am grateful for family and friends. I am proud of how I have embraced change over the last year, and I’m exploring the idea of becoming the person I’d like to spend the rest of my life with. How about you?
I love this Ted Talk by iO Tillet Wright. iO launched the Self Evident Truth project where she photographed nearly 10,000 people who identify as anything other than 100% straight. It is a fact in the US that in over half our states, people can be fired, or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. In iO’s Ted Talk below, called Fifty Shades of Gay, she tackles the question of equality.
And if your up for another Ted Talk, this one by Geena Rocero, a fashion model from the Philippines, called Why I Must Come Out is great. She talks about the fluidity of gender, and she is also an advocate who founded Gender Proud. Did you know that the suicide rate for transgender people is nine times greater than that of the general population? Isn’t it time we treated people the way they say they want to be treated?