jumping

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The voices with bad news build. I can feel the tension rising outside of me and it invades my body. My shoulders rise toward my ears, my breathing shortens, my neck tightens. I swallow it all. Violently the words and sneers and lies and overwhelming truths force their way down my throat burning all the way down. They reach my heart with stabbing pains. The weight of them moves my heart from my chest to my stomach until I can take no more. I vomit until my eyes bulge from my head and then I jump.

Off of the cliff and feel free in the air. The voices can’t catch me. I jump and fall feeling my shoulders release and a smile creep onto my face. As I shoot through the water, feet first, the cold slithers up my skin. I sink into the quiet. I can hear the beat of my heart in my ears and it slows. The water holds me in place and makes me feel safe from the problems of the world. For a moment I am just me. I am only concerned about me. I am selfish and don’t feel guilt.

Then my lungs make a polite request. Before long they are asking more sternly and then they are yelling. They are screaming. They are making threats and demanding. They are bartering with me. They beg.

With little movement I give in. My arms cut through the water to embrace my sides and my face breaks the surface.

I am back to reality. I am back to the middle space between the micro and the macro. I can focus again and make choices. I am not free, but the illusion of freedom is in place again. I begin my swim to the shore and hold onto my memories from the micro. My safe space with precision focus, where all that matters is the present moment.

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Watch Yourself, Don’t Squish the Butterfly

An Open Letter

Dear White Persons,

This is an open letter to three people specifically. For almost 29 years of life, I lived in blissful ignorance of how I survived these things called microaggressions. It was only when I was placed into a situation when I was unable to use my only coping skill that I realized how this survival was possible. I was lucky enough to live as a beautiful brown woman for 29 years without ever having to feel the powerless insignificance of a slight based in complicated power dynamics rooted in centuries of oppression and hatred.

When faced with ignorance or misguided ideas or simply a situation where a foot is inserted in a mouth, I engage. I don’t know how I learned this. I don’t ever remember my parents sitting me down and saying anything about how to deal with racism. The first time I was called a nigger it was by a sweet black boy who I am now certain meant that word as a term of endearment. Baby Eichelle didn’t understand that, she only knew that word was the most hurtful thing she could be called. She was wrong.

So, I engage. When you say, “So, what are you?” as though I am another species or an alien or a vampire, I view it as an invitation. You didn’t know it but you just asked me to talk to you about white privilege, power dynamics, how you should treat people, how you will treat me, use of language, social injustice, systems of oppression, the history of racism with in America and anything else that may come up. You didn’t know it, but you are the lucky winner of a chat with an empathic, loving, thoughtful and convincing woman. You get to hear her thoughts about the world and you will leave this conversation knowing who she is. This process for me balances everything out. It allows me to move on.

At age 29, for the first time I was in a situation where I couldn’t engage. I couldn’t tell the man who refereed to Water Protectors as “bad guys” how offensive that statement was. I couldn’t explain why asking me if I had looked into my ancestry might not be a fun activity but one of anguish. I couldn’t explain why smudging is not a performance. I couldn’t explain why going out of your way to introduce me to the one black acquaintance you have is problematic in many ways. I just had to smile.

It was only today that I understand why I couldn’t just let it all go. It was today when you assumed me to be the help. When you talked about me in front of me, as though I’m not worthy of engaging. It was only in that moment that I started to understand why I was holding on to stuff from over a year ago.

The reason I engage and can then move on without a second thought, even from talking to a neo-Nazi leader is that when I engage you hear me. I get to be heard. If you continue to live your life full of willful ignorance and still think you’re right it’s fine. It doesn’t matter to me.

A microaggression seeks to impose a reality that is false to my existence. When I engage I at least get to scream into the void. I get to make known my reality.

Today when you talked around me and assumed that my presence had to be explained, you shifted the power dynamics. The only way I could be there is of course if I was the nanny. And of course, nannies shouldn’t be talked to directly. I don’t know what this was like for you. I don’t know why you felt a need to understand what was going on with this brown woman who came in with a parent.

I know that for me I felt powerless. With all of the privilege I hold. With all of the amazing people I have in my life who love me and lift me up, you could in one moment of inconsideration steal my power. It’s as though I’m a butterfly that you accidently stepped on. The pain you caused me couldn’t reach your ears.

I hear my dad’s voice now. He would say something along the lines of, “Why you givin’ that lady your power?” Then I hear the voice of my cousin. “What can you expect?”

To answer you both, this simple interaction represents a greater dynamic. Part of me agrees. Yes, I shouldn’t give this person, these people another thought. Me writing this right now is trying to do that. Another part of me simply hurts. The world exists so that it is okay for a white woman to do this to me. Yes, it was done to me. So, what do I do now?

Well to answer my cousin, I don’t know that I can accept the reality that many, many white people don’t know better. The reality that the three people I’m writing about have no idea the pain they have caused and probably never will. Two of them had the chance to listen but couldn’t.  If I accept that the current reality is all there is and move forward allowing this reality to color all future encounters I become someone I don’t want to be.  So, what do I do?

I write. I share this hurt. I hope that some will read it and think of others. I write to release the hurt and in some small way rebalance things.

When these three people did what they did, they shifted the power in their favor. They asserted a narrative that I refuse to believe: White is better and knows best. By sharing my side, I am saying, “no.” I am yelling, “NO!” I am saying, “hey, I’m a pretty butterfly flying here watch yourself.” I am saying I matter. That will have to do for now.

With love,

A beautiful brown woman

 

I Can See Godzilla

My whole life I could see the destruction caused by Godzilla. I felt pain when it maimed and killed people who looked like me. I saw the hatred it pulled out of people who didn’t look like me. I can see those faces yelling and crying. I can see the faces mourning lost loved ones in the wake of a powerful force.

It has only been within recent years that I started to see Godzilla itself. At first, I thought I was crazy. For many years a Godzilla sighting would make me feel this way. “No, no Eichelle. Don’t be crazy.” It’s the magic of this powerful being. There are too many people who benefit from not seeing it.

Now I see Godzilla. I see this giant green monster destroying the country I live in. Killing mothers and babies. Disappearing and murdering women. Taking lives on a regular basis with no recourse. People get upset for a while, but it’s too crazy to believe that a monster caused all the chaos. So, we just pretend that everything is fine. Anyone who dares admit that we as a people are sick with poison and being killed by a monster, we write them off. Just people angry for no reason. Or people trying to scapegoat their problems instead of taking responsibility for themselves.

At first it was hard to truly see Godzilla. I didn’t want it to be true. Now I see it and I must decide what to do about it. What am I going to do about the systems of injustice, white supremacy and patriarchy that affect me? Systems I am complicit in, systems I benefit from. What am I going to do?






 

The analogy of Godzilla as a representation for systems of injustice fueled by white supremacy and patriarchy came to me on a hike with my husband. I was angry. This is not an emotion I allow myself to feel often, but I am getting better at it. Godzilla is perfect, because for those of us who see these systems a monster is what we see. There are piles and piles of data that show racism is taking lives. It’s happening right now, but to say that is as radical as to say a large green monster has invaded downtown Tokyo.

It doesn’t change however that it’s the truth. A truth I have to come to terms with. I see the monster and now I must decide what I am going to do about it.

“Have we not learned?”

 

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”  – Dalai Lama

“Kindness and faithfulness keep a king safe, through kindness his throne is made secure.” – King Solomon

Over the last few days, I have had some lovely conversations, but a few of them have been tainted by troubling generalized statements.

In a conversation with my husband, I recently stated that angry Atheists and Christian zealots deserved each other. That we should send them off on an island to duke it out. What I see in these two groups is a similar blindness. They are only focused on their perspective and lack empathy.

For Christians it is easy to make arguments for why this perspective is at the very least not in line with Biblical teachings. While on Earth, Jesus chose to spend his time chastising the religious leaders of the day and hanging out with those deemed undesirable or unclean by the religious leaders. I often wonder what Jesus would say to current religious leaders. How would he chastise his current followers?

For Atheist I have never truly known how to engage them around their Christian bashing. If we have a relationship I know from experience I will usually get the great chestnut response “Oh, but not you.”

I wish we as a society could understand the damage we are doing when we use generalizations. Our lack of specific language makes room for offense. If I say “All rabbits are sex fiends.” my statement includes everyone. Any rabbit within my presence could be offended, and rightly so.

No one likes to be told who they are and this is what generalizations do. They seek to name in simplistic terms a key part of who large groups of people are. Hate speech and any kind of identity bashing are full of generalizations. These statements make no room for nuance or outliers or exceptions. They state only a rule that of course applies to everyone equally.

In that same conversation with my husband he said something that stuck out to me, “Have we not learned?” Generalizations are a hallmark of them vs. us thinking. Many have stated how this kind of thinking contributed greatly to the current state of American politics and the growing polarization of Americans.

“As citizens of this great nation, it is kindness, love, and compassion for each other that will bring us together – and keep us together.”  – Melania Trump

I don’t know that we can move forward as a society if we continue to classify each other using generalized statements. It is not only important that we stop thinking in them vs. us terms but also that we shift our language. No group is monolithic.

Generalizations can be useful, but not when stated alone. The only thing I have seen these statements create on their own is offense and distrust. We need more than these statements. This post is an example of this. If I had left it at “…angry Atheists and Christian zealots deserved each other…” I don’t know that I would be doing much more than pissing off two large groups of people. I had to keep going to expand on why I felt this way, to move past the emotion of frustration.

I think that is what has to be done. On the micro level, each human being on the planet must try to move past the particular emotion driving their generalized thoughts and speech. This is where the conversation starts. “Immigrants are taking our jobs.” “Christians hate gay people.” “Native Americans are drunks.” “Millennials are all lazy.” “Gay people were molested as children.” “Californians are so smug and self-righteous. They think they know everything.” “White people are ignorant.”

“It is only after one is in trouble that one realizes how little sympathy and kindness there are in the world.” –  Nellie Bly

Each of the statements are things I have heard people say in conversation. All of them are wrong.  The last one is something I said. I’m glad my husband was there to call me out and encourage me to push past the momentary feeling. He helped me to get to what was really going on.

After 2016, I heard many people talk about the need for Americans to come together. This might be one way of doing so. Or maybe like my husband stated we haven’t learned our lesson yet. I just worry about the cost we will pay to learn it.

“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.”  -Ellen DeGeneres

“First and foremost, we need to be the adults we want our children to be. We should watch our own gossiping and anger. We should model the kindness we want to see.” – Brene Brown

“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

We Are All Complicit

Lately I have found myself becoming more and more unreasonable about the recycling in my home. I can feel the annoyance rising in my husband. I have banished plastic bags from our house. We just spent twenty dollars on a beeswax bread bag. I am pushing us to move toward getting a food co-op membership, in the hopes that the co-op will offer products with less packaging. I am also looking into doing composting to reduce our trash. I can see that he doesn’t get it fully.

On a recent trip to Target, I explained to him that where others might see shiny new fun things, I see something different. I see products made off the exploitative labor of people who live very far from me. I see systems that make things built to breakdown so that they must be replaced. I see single-use products that lead to pounds and pounds of waste in land-fills.

When I see our trash and recycle piles, all I see is my part in destructive, dangerous systems. More and more I see my part in systems of oppression and greed.

I am getting obsessed about my recycle and trash I think because these are systems I can potentially remove myself from. If I can get us down to 0% trash, I wouldn’t be contributing anymore.

My obsession is mostly driven by the systems I don’t see a way out of. I don’t know how to remove myself from the system of racial injustice and white supremacy. I don’t know how to remove myself from patriarchy. I don’t know how to remove myself from the systems, my privilege blinds me from seeing I am a beneficiary of. Within these systems it is hard to see a way out. More and more I see the ways I am complicit within them. I see the ways that I benefit from their existence.

It feels like every day I am getting paid in blood money. I don’t know what to do with it so I put it in the bank. It’s guilt filled money that feels more like debt than profit. A debt that keeps growing. It grows so high that I can’t see a way out. It has been accumulating since I was born.

Even if I worked every day to acknowledge my privilege and de-colonize my everything, it wouldn’t change that I still receive those privileges or that the poison of colonization runs deep. The only true way I see out is for radical community change. The system has to be dismantled in order for the payments in privilege to stop.

We are all complicit. The question is what are we going to do about it?

Seeing the Gears

A meandering review

            I have loved film and television since I was a small, round faced child. It’s where I learn and escape. It’s how I avoid the monsters I don’t want to face. In my most recent bout of avoidance, I started watching 13 Reasons Why. This is probably not the best thing to watch when you’re already feeling sad and weary. It is however a choice I’m glad I made.

For some time, I have felt my hope and optimism fading. I realize now it’s because I haven’t been feeding them. It is easy for me to allow the pain of others to feel like my pain. With our global community, it is easier now than ever to become immobilized by the pain we are all feeling. It is not necessarily that the pain is more or less than before, just that I can see it. I can see the mourning, the dying, the fighting, and the violence. Easily and without thinking I can consume all of that pain. Sadly, my heart and body can’t grow to swallow it all. I would do that if I could. I would swallow all the pain if it would make things better.

This is why watching 13 Reasons Why, was a good choice. For me it made things better. While I feel uneasy about the treatment of suicide as a mystery, I also understand that for many that is how it presents itself. A great mystery or unknown, maybe even a monster. If we don’t look at the monster, if we don’t talk about the monster, maybe it will leave us alone. The story of the show weaves an enticing, heartfelt mystery. It tells its story with care; and reveals itself to you in digestible chunks. It gives you allies for your arguments and still makes clear the points it is trying to make. Most importantly it unapologetically tells its truth.

Normally when I finish a show or film, I’m quick to rate it. I go to IMDB and dig into the production information. Who are the actors? Creator? Writer? Is it based on something? Depending on what I’ve watched, this process can be a few minutes or sometimes hours. As a creator myself, I want to know. If I enjoyed show or film, I want to know that the actors went on to keep creating. I want to know if there is more of their work I might see. I want to know the intentions of the creators. Are my assumptions about their work correct? After finishing 13 Reasons Why, I want to know none of this. While I do hope those who worked on this film go on to have long and happy careers; I don’t feel a need to check things out. I don’t want to give it a rating.

This is new for me. I am grateful, as I always am, to the creators of the show. Weather I like it or not is irrelevant. If someone created something that I was able to view, I try to be grateful for this gift. This current feeling, after finishing 13 Reasons Why, seems different though.

For some time, I have been chewing on a conundrum. I love creating and I love consuming the creations of others. By consuming the creations of others, I learn more about the act of creating. I also risk losing the magic. When someone takes nothing and constructs something to put in its place, this is no less than magic. Not all magicians are created equal. Some have better tricks. The best magicians however are ones who invite you to face the truth. They don’t try to trick you. They merely invite you to join them on a journey. There are of course things happening that you can’t see, but you don’t notice. You truly don’t care. The problem with learning more about the act of creating is that I start to see the things happening. It’s as though I get a pair of x-ray glasses. I can see the wires and the gears. I can see them turning. It ruins it. Or so I thought.

While watching 13 Reasons Why, I could see and feel what the creators were doing. Using a mystery to explore a fairly taboo topic. Enticing me to continue down the rabbit hole, but I didn’t care. It didn’t matter that I could see the gears, because they weren’t trying to trick me. They made it clear what I could expect. They managed me and pushed me. We were dancing.

The show solved my conundrum for me. They provided an answer, I had received, but didn’t believe. They also gave me hope. The world has darkness and pain. It can most certainly feel like a place without hope. Seeing the gears of this show. Thinking of the writers, directors, craft services people, grips, producers and every other hand required to see it through to its completion gave me hope. It reminded me that every day in direct rebellion to all the sadness people are creating and doing their best to share their truth. Is there any better gift than that?

This show is most certainly not for everyone. I don’t even know that I am making a recommendation here. I think what I’m saying is thank you. Thank you to all the hands that ensured I would be able to see this show. It gave a gift to me that I needed and for that I am grateful.

She was so upset.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

                 Martin Niemöller

Protestant Pastor and survivor of Nazi concentration camps in WWII

 

My wonderful writing partner reached out to me early this week. She heard the story of a man who was being deported. She was extremely upset by the story. I did my best to console her and remind her that the democracy of our country isn’t promised. Democracy is something we have to work at. Over the last year and half, she has reached out to me a few times. She sees a troubling world that seems to be narrowing its sights on her. As a Latina woman, what ifs cloud her mind when stories like the mans’ come her way. She understands the reality of the quote listed above and is working hard to never be complicit in systems of hate and oppression. Our conversation sent me on a mission for more information.

Someone I care about deeply was feeling scared and worried and hopeless. I wanted to understand better what was so upsetting. I am not a Latina and wanted to try to better understand why this strangers’ story so effected my close friend.

I did a long deep dive into many articles and went down a few rabbits holes. One of my efforts to be a better citizen has been to be more diligent about questioning where information comes from. So I try not to take things at face value and ask a few questions before I read something. Who is this author? What authority do they have to be sharing information with me? To help you as you may ask these questions, I have included links to all the articles I read below. To be fully transparent, I did not read the full Disappeared reports. The information was becoming painful.

After reading and searching through a random assortment of articles, videos and reports all I could see was gray. Immigration it seems, like many issues, is nuanced and complicated.

I think our issues as a country with immigration and migration speak to the heart of our current identity crisis. We want to be a country of immigrants and prosperity, but it would be better if all of those immigrants looked and acted just like us.

As I was reading the various accounts of people trying both legally and illegally to enter this country I kept thinking about a play I saw. It’s called “The Art of Bad Men” by Vincent Delaney. The play focuses on a time when German POW’s lived in the mid-west and helped local farmers. After the play, I was lucky enough to go to a Salon talk-back style event. One of the historians at the event talked about the motivations for treating the POW’s so well. He shared that this practice of taking care of the POW’s was done because that is who we wanted to be as a country.

His words kept ringing in my ears as I was reading today. We wanted to be a country who took care of people. Who shared our democracy freely. Who hoped that by doing this, these POW’s might be changed somehow. This was happening at the same time that we as a country were interning Japanese-American citizens.

Who are we going to be as a country? I wonder and after spending an afternoon on my day off diving into one of the hot button issues facing us, I truly don’t know. I don’t know that we can continue to spout the myths of Ellis Island while building an ineffectual wall with one of our friendly trade partners. I don’t know that we can continue to be a place where we treat POW’s better than we do citizens. I also don’t know that we can continue to live comfortably. I don’t know that we can continue to focus only on our localized problems, ignoring our national community.

“An injury to one is an injury to all”

I love this chant. As an extremely empathetic person it encapsulates how I see the world. Why I don’t understand how people can dismiss human life so easily. Why I spent my day off researching to try to better understand the pain of someone I love.

I don’t know that I will ever fully understand the fear of deportation. Or comprehend the everyday stress that comes from worrying about being rounded up and detained. I do think I understand just a little why my friend was so upset. I think she wants to believe in a country that cares for her, even when all the evidence doesn’t support this. When a story like the story of Jorge Garcia comes her way it’s a reminder. As much as she may want it, we are not fixed. We are broken. It is really only our brokenness that we can agree on, but maybe that’s a start.

 

https://www.salon.com/2018/01/16/man-who-lived-in-america-for-30-years-was-just-deported-from-the-country/

http://abcnews.go.com/US/nightmare-family-bids-goodbye-undocumented-father-deported-mexico/story?id=52367022

https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/31/16226934/daca-trump-dreamers-immigration

https://www.vox.com/2015/8/19/9177419/border-fence-work

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2017/11/09/442502/thousands-daca-recipients-already-losing-protection-deportation/

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/08/18/donald-trump-immigration-border/

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-has-made-illegal-attempts-deport-daca-recipients-724842

https://medium.com/aclu/i-lost-my-daca-status-because-i-was-arrested-though-never-charged-with-a-crime-45561fd4a7fb

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/369096-trump-homeland-security-chief-deporting-dreamers-wont-be-priority-if

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-has-made-illegal-attempts-deport-daca-recipients-724842

https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/1877266742304807/?hc_ref=ARR7HdUJriRLrA7n6iRRUXdowQ0WfLdvkXOrcmmywyHDL2FEGhmYB2zorHjC4It4m3E

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/37284543/no-more-deaths-to-release-findings-of-investigation

http://forms.nomoredeaths.org/demand-border-patrol-stop-destroying-humanitarian-aid/

http://www.thedisappearedreport.org/reports.html

https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-factsheet-customs-and-border-protections-100-mile-zone?redirect=aclu-factsheet-customs-and-border-protections-100-mile-zone

GM’s and the Modern Day Campfire Story

Last night, I sat around a table with friends and we took an adventure. I played my first ever horror role playing game and loved it. I don’t like horror. I respect its contributions to film, writing and culture in general. I also have a hard time leaving the monsters at the movie theatre. So this is a genre of content I tend to stay away from.

My husband is a GM or Game Master. This is a magical person who creates a world for others to have adventures in. Over the last year and a half he has done a deep dive into table top role playing games. RPG ‘s or role playing games are fun interactive experiences. The most well-known RPG is Dungeons and Dragons or D & D.

Over the last year or so, I have seen my husband move past D & D to discover all kinds of different RPG systems. I have also seen the glimmer in his eye fade as people respond to his excitement with confusion and judgments. Last night I got to see him beaming.

He wore a red shirt, with a white tie and black vest. To top it all off he wore a black bowler hat. He was in his element. Crafting every turn, creating suspense and fear and guiding us through an hour and a half interactive adventure. It was magical to watch. Three friends and I sat around my round black table. All light save a few candles and battery powered tea lights was turned off or blocked out. Under the table my husband taped a string of lights providing a soft glow coming from underneath us all. In the center of the table, a Jenga tower. The crackle of a virtual campfire care of Youtube provided a sense of atmosphere and additional ominous music was provided from the laptop screen in front of my husband who sat near but not at the table.

For the next hour and a half, we went on a journey together. Each player contributed some part of the story and my husband guided us. Before we sat at the table, he spent hours creating a sandbox for us to move in. Thinking through possible events and monsters and deciding how our adventure would draw to a close.

As I sat watching my husband, it occurred to me that a GM is nothing short of a storyteller who has very old roots. Yes, games like D & D or the game we played, Dread, are newer, but the roots of what happened at that table are very old. As the virtual campfire crackled, I thought of my ancient ancestors telling the history of our people centuries ago.

Over time the voices of storytellers have shifted to different mediums. Technology created new opportunities for the campfire story experience. From the radio to the early days of television, we as a society have enjoyed the tradition of sitting together and taking in a story. Although the technologies have changed and continued to provide more individual experiences we still seek out the same feelings of communal fear, sadness or laughter. People live tweet events to be connected globally as they sit in their home alone. We choose to use the internet as a place of connection. I’m doing that right now. I’m sending my words in a virtual bottle so that they might reach your shore. RPG’s are another extension of the campfire story.

A GM creates an experience and like all great storytellers allows their audience to contribute to or simply change the story. The campfire has been replaced with a table and some additions such as dice or a Jenga tower have been added, but the magic of what happens is the same.

A good GM, creates a unique experience one part board game, one part live performance. This experience cannot be recreated, but it can be appreciated and so can the GM’s of the world. I am so proud of my husband. He creates magic and taps into the very old oral tradition of telling and creating story.

If anything I’ve said has sparked your curiosity, I challenge you to seek out RPG’s and gaming communities wherever you live. The game we played was Dread, but there are many more systems. Below I have included a few links to get you started on your next adventure.

To all the GM’s out there, thank you for continuing the oral tradition and creating story. Story is something I have committed my life to. I am so grateful for others who also make similar commitments and continue to deepen the well of story.

 

 

PS: Yes, the RPG world is very white and very male, but this is changing and the community as a whole is super welcoming.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKejuEmQjMQ – A good video about where to start

https://dreadthegame.wordpress.com/about-dread-the-game/ – The game we played

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0loSZFsyoQ – A play through of Dread – TableTop is a great channel to see fun play-throughs of both RPG’s and board games

https://roll20.net/ – A place to virtually play RPG’s if you don’t have a community where you live

If you are now inspired to become and GM (YAY!!) links for you below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjmkolUrrB4 – A wonderful female GM sharing her tips about being a wonderful GM

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuGFF6RJgaMrlxVxEB7XsBerrIFgnqZIa –A good playlist with everything you need to know about being a GM

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/top_100.php – A place where you can purchase different systems

 

Today, I Choose Hope

Today, I choose hope. My beautiful writing partner grounds me. I work from home now and can curate, for the most part, my interactions with the world. North Dakotans are generally nice enough to keep their racism limited to a few looks or whispers on occasion. So I don’t have to see racism daily unless I choose to. I am privileged with being able to live in my bubble. My safe bubble, filled with people who love me. Wonderful white people who understand that our experiences of the world are different. Who respect it when I say something isn’t for them. Who never question when I wonder if a look, stare, attitude or bad costumer service is racially motivated. Although 95% of my neighbors who voted, voted for the current administration and 60% as recent as a few months ago still support that administrations destructive, hate-filled rhetoric, the people I let in my bubble understand. Even if they support the current administration, most are nice enough not to mention it around me. Those who are vehemently opposed to the current administration love and support me. This is my reality, my privilege.

My bright shiny Latina writing partner doesn’t have this privilege. She works with children and has seen how they are effected by the hate, anger and anguish of adults in response to the current administration. She calls me and we talk. Recently I told her something that has resounded in me since. I’ll paraphrase below for you.

Love is something that you have to choose. I have been married for almost four years and each day of marriage solidifies this belief for me. In this same way, I believe you have to choose hope. This is not to say that you stop feeling anything you might be feeling. Being sad is often not a choice and those who say so are wrong. But despair is a choice. Despair is an attitude and you can change your attitude. So you must choose hope.

I went on further explaining that as women of color, when we choose despair it is one more thing we are giving over to White Supremacy and the structures and institutions of racism/sexism/homophobia and so on. It gives these things a win. It is one more thing stolen from us. As a Native woman, these things and the people who support them or are complicit in them have already taken so much. Add to that the things stolen as a Black woman and things start to get heavy.

Today I chose hope. I hope to do so tomorrow too.

Self-Care Selfish? Wrong Question.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to a group of strong, passionate women about self-care. I knew not to assume that all in the audience would believe like me that self-care is nothing short of a necessary part of life. It didn’t surprise me when the question of self-care being selfish came up. I shared with the group that for me the only way to get away from this line of thinking was to do the mental gymnastics that I am my best self when I practice self-care and that by being my best self I am able to help others more effectively. Later though, when I was having a walk and talk chat with my cousin a different answer emerged.

I realized that because I have been intentionally practicing self-care for going on a year and half I no longer feel a need to justify it. I do it because it is good for me and I don’t really care if anyone believes this act to be selfish. My cousin talked about how it is important that we as black women don’t give power to people who might question our actions. She’s right and not just for black women.

By allowing an outside perspective on my life and decisions to invade my little world I give over power to that outside perspective. Nothing says that I have to engage with this question.

For the longest time, I have felt a need to respond and engage, taking for granted that this was a choice. Nothing says I have to engage. Nothing says I have to respond. So before I start to answer a question or engage someone in a difficult conversation I think from here on out I will pause. I will take a weighted pause for myself. Is this something I have to do? Is this something I want to do? What are the outcomes of responding or engaging? If I don’t like the answers then I won’t engage.

Over the years, I have given too much of myself away. I have poured out my cup time and time again leaving nothing for myself. I have exposed myself to individuals who mean me harm, usually unintentionally but that doesn’t necessarily make it better or undo the harm they cause. This way of being is not sustainable. All renewable resources need to take in more than they put out. In farming, if you don’t put nutrients back into the soil the ground will cease producing nutrient rich plants. If you continue to pollute a water source without taking time to clean up the mess it will no longer serve as a resource.

I am no different and yet I have continued to drain my nutrients and not clean up the pollution in my life. I think I’m done with that. I value myself more than that.