Category Archives: Uncategorized

This Christian Nation

You claim this is a Christian nation,

Which means a practice of love and merciful consideration.

Yet I cannot see proof of this enacted creed,

but something opposite, derisive,wholly obscene:

Where Jesus fed thousands who failed to bring their lunch,

You would starve millions – children, elderly, those who do work but can’t claim much.

Where Jesus healed the infirm at the first asking,

You deny the same any kind of care or compassion.

Where Jesus refused to judge, and preached the same in scripture,

You complain, place blame, testify that some are simply lazy creatures.

Where Jesus displayed contempt for the corrupt and hatred for injustice,

You embrace these heartily while spewing lies that shift the focus.

Where Jesus overturned tables and openly abhorred greed,

You worship Mammon with gusto, keep your money in piles behind doors of steel.

Where Jesus exemplified love and unity,

You damage with pure divisiveness, then flit around deceitfully.

Where Jesus accepted without question the stranger and the prisoner,

You deny them with malicious prejudice and disdainful reasoning.

Where Jesus might have built a prosperous City on a Hill,

You destroy democracy, sell out lady justice like a two-bit shill.

So, spare us the self-righteous narrative,

Throw off the coat of pretending.

At least own who and what you are –

A faction full of forked tongues, willing to ignore Jesus’ mission

For the sake of self entitlement and blatant power grabbing ascension.

 

 

Advertisements

Mammon

We claim to be a nation conceived by God,

Blessed by virtue of Holy support,

But it seems we’ve been abandon, left under the charge of Mammon.

I offer such observations as these for proof:

An opioid epidemic enabled by

Doctors wooed by corporations,

Lawmakers wooed by the cherished dollar.

Millions of Americans in a prison of addiction while

Mammon pulls levers, then turns nobs

in order to maximize His earnings.

A gun lobby that encourages violence.

Causes us to turn inward upon ourselves,

Killing our own, racking up a body count

That even combined wars can’t touch;

Mammon gleefully collects His gold

From dutiful firearm makers and sellers.

A culture “war on Christmas”

In effort to keep pure a singular Holy Day

Layered upon Holy Days,

Yet we fight, grab, push, some even die,

In order to get those shiny Black Friday deals;

Mammon has never been so well fed.

Men of God preach from t.v. thrones

or stages of megachurches.

Their message feels contorted to

Some modern ideology where helping yourself

means blindly supporting them,

Instead of the homeless, instead of the abused,

instead of the sick.

Mammon laughs and laughs at this clever ruse,

and counts His gold at night with gluttonous hands.

Just a few examples of a misaligned religion,

Where we claim to be capitalists during the week

While displaying contrite gratefulness on Sundays

To a god that blesses and gives.

A god who’s name is Mammon, not Yahweh

A god who has become fat upon greed and hypocrisy

A god who presides by permission

thanks to human adoration of the holy free market,

where decency, sympathy, and cooperation are damned.

Praise be to Mammon, god of the United States of America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Sensitive Year: Take Care

One of the most important lessons to learn as an HSP is to take care of ourselves.  It is a must, for our physical health and for our mental health.

Today’s world is complicated, messy and wholly unforgiving – which makes living in modern times especially challenging for some of us. Just reading through one’s Facebook feed can produce enough stress to send an HSP into flight or fight mode.  The daily grind of clocking in and clocking out while navigating corporate rules or office gossip means that each night after work we ruminate endlessly and conjure ten different ways to adjust in order to be ready for another day of the same.  When tragedies happen such as a mass shooting, HSP’s can feel the impact physically, and travail for the lost and their families, on top of going about their normal day.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, and make that a constant priority, we risk the probability of becoming depressed or shutting down.  Self-care is imperative for HSP’s.

I’ll share with you a few of my techniques.  Take them or leave them, or maybe you do them all now anyway, perhaps you have one or two to share with me, you’re invited!  However you do it, make it an absolute priority to take good care of your self.

Meditate.   I cannot stress this enough.  It’s the reason this is very first on my personal list of ways to stay healthy.   I’ve been fairly consistent at this for the past four months, and have noticed impressive results even in this short time.  For people who are prone to dissect each thought ten different ways, training the mind is especially important.  I’ve noticed I don’t let myself go down some of those familiar dark rabbit holes any longer.  I’ve begun to recognize quite soon when my mind begins the route and have the ability now to gently pull it back to a resting place in tune with my breath.  During an acute period of stress I experienced during work, my blood pressure was still within normal range – I attribute this to meditation. Even my husband has noticed that I’m able to recover much quicker from moments of anger or overreaction.  At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I do highly recommend the Headspace App.   I previewed three other options before committing to this particular brand and haven’t regretted my decision in any aspect.  In fact it’s one of the best investments I make in myself.  (the app is $12.99 US / mo.).  I appreciated that the ten day free trial got right to meditation and what you get in that trial is exactly what you get in the app.  There are a variety of ‘packs’ to meditate with and they’re broken out into some neat categories: Sports, Health, and  Brave for example, with sub categories that are equally helpful. Mini meditations are available for a quick re-balance and Andy just began a daily meditation that I’ve included in my routine, it’s a great way to unwind from work.  I now meditate twice a day, it’s the most empowering thing I do for myself, my family, and my writing career.

Alone time.  We crave it inherently as HSP’s but sometimes we become wrapped up in life and forget to sequester ourselves for recharging.   This is one area where I believe we need to give ourselves permission to be selfish.  If we don’t remember to consciously take time out, when we can be fully aware that we are resting from yesterday’s schedule and gearing up for tomorrow night’s meeting, then we’ll crash and burn.  At that point we do take the down time but we’re so depleted we rarely get filled completely, increasing the chances of another burnout.

Take baths.  Epsom salt baths to be specific.  The sweat produced from sitting in the hot water is healthy in itself.  It gets some of the toxins out of our system.  The minerals a salt bath aid in keeping inflammation down as well providing other health benefits. HSP’s endure a lot of stress, baths address some of the physical manifestations of stress, with the added bonus of giving us some down time.

Exercise/nature time.  The benefits of exercise are well known and perfect for HSP’s as a means of keeping stress hormones such as cortisol at minimums.   I’m a big believer in touching base with nature as helpful to HSP’s.  It allows us to take a step back and understand we’re only part of a much bigger picture.  Hike, walk, ride, whatever…make sure to include some nature in your self-care routine.

Therapy.  Just do it. There’s a lot to be said for talking with someone who’s entirely objective and has no stake in your social/personal life.  There are tools to be gained from grinding out some of our weaker points and allowing a soft counsel to help us accept them.  There is strength to be gleaned from understanding that most of our inner self is normal.  If therapy isn’t an option due to budgets, then check for a local support group.  It doesn’t have to be forever, but taking a few months to learn to understand how you perceive the HSP trait is advantageous.

Observe.  Watch your habits and see if you can adjust some things to help reduce anxiety and stress.  If I’m engaged in a vigorous Facebook conversation, I’ll sometimes avoid reading someone’s rebuttal right away.  If I’m not in the right frame of mind, their words might bring a reaction that’s more knee jerk than thoughtful, or I’ll take it more personally than intended.  I’ve learned that my day is much smoother when I meditate first thing in the morning instead of later.  I function much better when I have a protein breakfast rather than a carb breakfast.  These are just a few things I’ve learned about myself as I’ve simply watched and observed how certain habits interact with my moods and productivity.  I challenge you to take a neutral, third person view of your behaviors and their relationship to your feelings. You’ll find it’s fun to explore ways to improve your day and quality of life.

Taking care of ourselves as HSP’s is a priority.  However you do it, make sure to do it. We owe it to ourselves, those around us, and the world for which we care.

Yours,

Frankie

NB  Here are Dr. Elaine Aron’s tips on self-care.

 


Survey

The tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting is devastating. As I survey the news, I’ve noticed that the same headlines and talking points pop up after these kinds of incidences.  They bear listing, for the sake of understanding the big picture and the problems we face in attempting to turn around this particular, unique tide of violence .

The very first thing that comes up with each mass shooting is the argument of gun control.  Whether the timing is right or not, it’s natural human behavior to witness this kind of act and think “Can we do something about this?” The Onion has gotten cheeky (cynical??) in its reaction, using the same headline and article the past five mass shootings, just switching out the picture and a few details to reflect the current horrendous mess.  But more serious news articles abound with statistics demonstrating how the US compares to other nations whose restrictions on gun ownership means no one has guns, therefore the amount of deaths attributed to guns in those nations is much lower than what we experience in ours.  There are discussions about the inability to track gun deaths and violence in the US due to effective lobbying by the NRA.  There’s the opposing loud and proud call to retain the 2nd Amendment in it’s purity, forgetting the phrase ‘well regulated’, and including pat responses such as ‘This is the price we pay for being a free country’.

A more recent talking point that comes up at a time like this is the attention drawn to the fact that in the US, we are more likely to be struck down by one of our own than from a sworn enemy such as an ISIS operative.  This is definitely something to consider as we muddle through court cases arguing about the constitutionality of travel bans from specific countries.

Another common thread I’ve surveyed among news stories is the idea of the public obsession with the shooter and copycat behavior.  According to the FBI, this is a serious component to furthering our already violent nation into more violence.  It’s normal to long for an understanding as to how someone could be so callous as to murder their fellow primates. Part of that process means discussing their habits, their background, their final moments.  While the media provides these details to us, the disastrous cyclical effect it produces means we may want to re-think how we handle these circumstances in the future.

Finally, we are so anxious for news in the wake of these tragedies that we seize onto the first few stories that come out of the wreckage, often based on piecemeal details that are difficult to scrub clean in the investigative aftermath.  When the dust settles, when the investigation is complete, those initial stories are usually amended to include the findings of police and others.  However, those late arriving details are lost in the belief of whatever is read first while in the throes of shock.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for this attack, we won’t know if that’s true until computer records are gleaned, but the damage is already done.  While anything is possible, it’s not probable that this is ISIS inspired, and a small contingency will believe so anyway even if the investigative outcome reveals no connection.  It behooves us to wait until we have more facts before jumping to conclusions because those reactive stories are often adjusted to reflect a more realistic picture and understanding.

There aren’t words to describe the depth of despair these kinds of tragedies incur on our national population:  We are literally killing ourselves at an alarming rate.  The probability that it will happen again, soon, is depressingly high.  Yet as we survey emotions and news headlines each time, we notice that the same issues continue to raise their ugly heads, as well as ways to deal with them.

Maybe, one day, we will become wise enough to challenge ourselves to change.

Peace, and much strength and grace to the families of those who died in Las Vegas.

Frankie

NB:  Some of the links I use in this article are a couple of years old, yet quite relevant still.  I purposefully chose them to illustrate my point:  the same issues keep cropping up in situations such as this.

 

 


Authority Issues

“If they don’t stand, fire them.”

It might just be a written comment on Facebook or Twitter, but the tone sure comes across as plainly as if it were spoken on t.v.:  authoritarian.

There’s a reason the Supreme Court of the US ruled that an employer cannot fire its employees for choosing to sit during the pledge or the anthem. “Do this or else!” is an authoritarian demand and demanding blind patriotism and faith leaves no room for dissent or freedom of speech.

The ruling is difficult for those who belong to the fairly large component of our nation that also invokes authoritarianism:  religion.  I spent years in ‘the Church’ and over and over the authority of a supreme being is preached and consumed with vigor.  It’s His way or the highway.  There’s no discussion, there’s no negotiation:  Either believe in Jesus or go straight to hell.  There’s no room for individualism – people are highly discouraged to look for outside sources of information – the Bible is the only and final solution.  “God is a jealous God” He doesn’t accept any behavior except being worshiped and adored (a human who acts thus is considered a narcissist, by the way).  It’s Him and Him alone and He has the last word always via the Bible.  The idea is furthered by the scriptural uttering that the husband is the head of the household, his word is final and therefore also…. authoritarian.

There’s a kind of feedback loop that is occurring which exacerbates the authoritarian streak:  Most Christians are prone to watch only a certain news channel and only certain televangelists.  So whatever is said on that singular channel becomes infused with religion and then repeated, ad nauseam, from the armchair preacher selling apocalyptic food stores.  Hence, authoritarian phrases such as “Kneel or else” gets drilled down upon and affirmed on more than just one level.  When the same is preached from the local pastor on Sunday mornings,  authoritarianism  becomes ingrained in many.  Consequently, there’s a decent sized population in our nation that is predisposed to project that authoritarianism onto our national, democratic principles and would happily sacrifice those principles for the mere conformity and idealism that is esteemed in Church.

It’s my observation that this ingrained authoritarian attitude is related to a kind of  Stockholm Syndrome.  I worship an all-or-nothing god who would throw me to the wolves if I once deviate from his command. However, if I comply without complaint, if I submit without a whimper, if I follow like a sheep, then that same God will feed and take care of me and, maybe, he’ll even allow me to prosper like that guy on t.v. with a mega-church.

Within the four walls of a building, adopting authoritarianism isn’t all that damaging to a nation at large.   It is when the notion spills out of the structure and into the streets where democracy, equality, and freedom of speech are paramount that problems arise.  There will be conflict when authoritarianism, especially in the form of “Kneel or else,” rears it’s head in a democracy where citizens are accustom to absolute freedom.  Just look at the conversations going on these past few days.

It’s a helpful point to understand.  Realizing that authoritarianism is a by-product of the largest religion in our nation allows us to understand why so many are willing to ignore liberty and demand allegiance.  I don’t know that the knowledge is helpful in any discourse between individuals, but it does provide some insight into the mechanics of this current moment of social unrest.  Perhaps there is someone out there who can find a way to bridge the gap and inspire a deeper love for democracy over religiously ingrained authoritarian inclinations.

I am open to suggestions.

Much peace to each of you…

Frankie


A Sensitive Year: The Bravest of Them All

It took me months to admit I might be Sensitive.   I hated the idea since the admission seemed to carry with it a connotation of weakness.  As I’ve learned more about the trait and living the life of an HSP in our hyped up world, I’ve adjusted my thinking.

I suppose it seems weak if a person can’t sit through violent movies.  I suppose it appears to be weakness if a man chooses to go home after work instead of going for a drink with the guys.  I suppose it looks as if a woman is weak if she becomes overwhelmed quickly in a highly stimulating environment.  I’m sure it must suggest weakness if a person is constantly empathizing with others instead of getting on with life.

While all those scenarios are true of HSP’s, it must be remembered that we don’t like or do those things because of a weakness, we behave this way because our wiring. Which means most of what we do requires a level of bravery that others don’t need to employ.

It’s a brave soul that moves beyond the constant fight or flight tension to engage with a stranger and get to know them.  It’s a brave man that speaks out against an observed injustice in the workplace.  It’s a brave woman that disciplines her involuntary empathy to pass up a relationship with a narcissist. It’s a brave person that notices the oddball in the crowd and pulls them in to feel more comfortable.  It’s a brave individual that pushes back the fear and reaches out to help, teach, guide, and care, because we don’t just see the suffering around us, we feel it as equally and as vividly, and we’ll do damn near anything to ease the suffering in this world.

It’s a two sided coin for sure.  HSP’s appear to exist along the sidelines, preferring less exposure since we’re already inherently exposed; yet we often lead the way in situations that necessitate diplomacy, empathy,  and the ability to see details while simultaneously observing the big picture.   The only way we have the ability for doing so is by literally ignoring, or overcoming, or swallowing the energy of every alarm system going off within us.  Such acts require a deep well of bravery that only HSP’s possess.

We are the bravest of them all.

Yours,

Frankie


Religion and Fake News: A Package Deal

We’ve entered a strange era for a nation where facts are of little meaning and truth is distorted without consequence.

If you’ve tried to have a conversation with someone who still supports a Trump presidency, there’s a high probability that many of you experience the inability to find some tiny common island of truth on which you can agree. It seems that the only thing agreeable is that we can all identify as Americans, and even that concession is tenuous.

For a long while I’ve been baffled by the ability for many, including leaders of ‘the church’, to ignore reality and cling to strange, somewhat mythological concepts such as “God can use even a corrupt man”.

Then it came to me: Part of the agreement in being a Christian is that there’s only one source of information from which to base a world view.  Only the Bible can provide real answers.  Only the Bible can be the source for history.  Only the Bible offers a moral code for society.

There is consequently an entire population of American citizens who are programmed to refuse any new information simply because it doesn’t come from the Bible.  Anything outside the holy writ is considered blasphemous and is not to be weighed.   There is no room for curiosity, no appeal to questioning, no allowance for new evidence.  It’s a closed and very regulated environment, as most religions are and must be.  Outside sources are quick to prove them wrong, or at least mistaken, and would shatter the thin foundation upon which the belief is built.

Since curiosity was killed on the altars of religion, it makes complete sense to me as to why so many are willing to buy into FOX, Breitbart, Hannity, Limbaugh, and Jones narratives –  there’s no reason to question their assertions, nor is there a desire to discover if they are presenting the truth. These are minds that have become accustom to just receiving information without weighing its worth, and if a talking snake can steer mankind down a road of licentiousness,  then yes, Donald Trump, corrupt as he is, can be affirmed by god to the highest office of the land in order to fulfill some vague biblical purpose.

I am trying to find ways to bridge the gap and encourage conversation, but without a desire to heed facts or consider a differing perspective, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy, productive discourse.

While it helps to understand why there’s such a resistance to truth among a certain number of our fellow citizens, I’m not sure where this leaves us overall.   I wouldn’t worry about it except the US has lost a great deal of respect in the world’s view, and the legislation coming out of the current Congress would send us into third world status, and we want to pass to our children a viable, healthy democracy for their future.

I am open to suggestions.  And always hoping that, somehow, reason would save us from becoming another crumbling empire.

May truth will out…

Frankie

 

 


A Sensitive Year, In a Poem

“It’s Like”

 

It’s like –

Existing as a singular nerve ending

Exposed incessantly

Raw, reactive

Always gauging the atmosphere.

It’s like –

Knowledge of every nuance

Unable to shut out the details

Observance of minutia

With ability to interpret it accurately.

It’s like –

Involuntary empathy

Impervious to selfishness

Emotional insomnia

Absolute incapacity to rest feelings.

It’s like –

A human sea anemone

Waving in peaceful currents

Then retracting, revolted

By any maligned touch.

It’s like –

Walking the thin

Knife’s edge

Dodging incessant flying rubble

Still maintaining balance

It’s like –

Processing

A hundred thoughts

Into a thousand categories

With millions of layers

And, understanding them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Sensitive Year: Introduction

My arms and hands ached for nearly two weeks after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  They were weak; merely holding my cell phone caused discomfort and texting was severely curtailed.  I needed both hands just to open the door to my Jeep.  I thought I was having some serious carpal tunnel problems and was about to go to the doctor, except the pain finally subsided and I seemed fine again.

The occurrence made sense to me about three months later when I was sitting in my therapist’ office and confessed that maybe, as she suggested, I was sensitive.   It took me months to admit the possibility – the idea seemed a complete antithesis to the other characteristics I knew about myself:  I was outgoing and an extrovert, I was strong and had endured some difficult challenges in my life such as working through the grief of experiencing the full-term stillbirth of my only daughter.  In every job I’ve ever had, I am always driven enough to work my way up to some supervisory position.  I didn’t perceive myself as weak, but considering the idea that I was sensitive certainly seemed like an admission of weakness, yet there I was in the therapist office, checking  the ‘yes’ box in response to most of the questions on the HSP assessment. (The questions themselves seemed a self-description:  Do you prefer to have music off when driving?  Do you stay home after a day’s work rather than go out with the office?  Do you stay away from violence and violent movies?)  The term ‘off the charts’ was applicable to the final outcome of my responses to the questionnaire.

I immediately grabbed hold of anything I could read about the Highly Sensitive Person and was astounded at some of the things I learned:  It’s an actual genetic trait.  HSP’s make up about twenty percent of the population. The trait exists in other animals as well.

I was relieved once I had more information.  It felt as if several questions I had about myself most of my life were answered:  Why am I the only one noticing small details about situations and settings? (I admit I was really sort of judge-y towards others when they didn’t notice the same things I did, I have since adjusted my thinking.)   Why did it seem like I think way more than others do?  Why why why did it seem that sensory overload was always something I had to deal with – did I have adult ADD or something? How can I be outgoing and sociable and still be sensitive? (turns out there’s a small percentage of people that are both extrovert and HSP).

Many aspects of my life seemed to fall into place and the picture I have of myself is much more complete after acknowledging that I was Highly Sensitive.  Now it’s a matter of learning to live with an entirely new perspective.  I understand that the tendency to over-react to negative circumstances is something I can acknowledge as trait-related and not take things as personally or as seriously.  Instead I try to observe it from a neutral point of view, “Oh yeah, that’s the Sensitive part of me, it’s okay.”  I can utilize the hyper-observation of circumstances in order to notice that a certain student is behaving in a subtly different way and be able to offer help.   I understood immediately that the ability to notice details and nuances is absolutely why I can write – only in the deep observation of a thing can we then describe it well.  And a big light went off when I figured out that all that pain and ache in my arms after the election wasn’t mysterious at all, it was a physical reaction to the knowledge that I knew our nation would never be the same, and that there was a collective heartbreak at the reality of a Trump presidency.

It’s a process to figure out ways to work with this new information.  I am especially challenged, and willing to bet that many of you are as well, with the day to day dealings of the current political climate – we sense and  feel the stress of millions of others and it takes great discipline to keep such stress from taking up residence in our soul (here I am eternally grateful to Headspace for guidance in training the mind).

I find some solace in reading about other’s experiences as well, which is why I’ve decided to write about it myself and the way it impacts a person’s life.  You may not be an HSP, but the information is valuable inasmuch as you most likely know someone who is.  If you are an HSP, my hope is that these writings will encourage, enlighten, and offer strength.

Here’s to new information, and the ability to allow it to transform.

Yours,

Frankie

 


Shock and Awe

It’s a shock to see young white American men giving the Nazi salute and holding up swastika flags after having fought against fascist hate. It’s a shock to see them turning on our fellow citizens, physically harming their human brothers and sisters who live and breath alongside them.  The problem is, we don’t really have time to be shocked at this particular moment.

How do we navigate the all normal human response of shock in this critical time?  We have to admit it first, just notice it. Denying it will only lead to a festering anger, but we don’t have to pick it up and hold on to it either.  If you’re an empath, or possess the trait of being Highly Sensitive, then this is a particularly difficult challenge.  It can be accomplished however.   Acknowledge the feeling, that’s it, then move on to action.

Action is where we can awe ourselves and each other.  There’s plenty around to inspire us.  Twitter is busy with people helping to identify the perpetrators of Nazi hate in Charlottesville. And while it’s disappointing that our President refuses to condemn white supremacy, there are plenty of other politicians taking up the sword of justice for him.   Many gathered together yesterday to show support for those killed and injured.

Across the nation, today, we have the opportunity to show the same support, demonstrate love and acceptance, sow the seeds of kindness and peace.   It’s up to each one of us, shocked as we are, to awe our neighbors and friends with positive action.  And in the doing, we find that shock doesn’t have to render us paralyzed, and love can lead us to unity.

Peace,

Frankie