Keep on Keepin’ On

This was one of my mother’s favorite phrases, she would say it to me at the end of almost every  phone conversation.

The words are never so imperative as they are now.  There are many of us who are still trying to make sense of our new political climate, trying to find where our creativity fits in among the dark cloud hanging over our nation.

As for me, I’ve decided not to write about today.  In my work with economics, I am certain that  at this point we are unable to pull out of the tailspin in which we find ourselves. Instead, my work is written for the future, for tomorrow, for the young men and women who will have to reckon with the consequences of this administration in the next decade.  They will get my energy and time.  They will get my wisdom and compassion.  They are the muse for my writing.

To accomplish that goal, I am currently working on a short story to submit to the Pearl S. Buck writing contest.    I enjoy working on a small project like this, it challenges my editorial eye and allows me to break out of the tediousness of working on a longer manuscript.   Writer’s Digest recently posted some good reasons for short story writing as well.

We are not the same nation we were a few months ago.   Nor will we be when all is said and done by this current president.   But our voices are still important, and will be more so for the generation that follows us.   “Keep on keepin’ on,”  write a story for them, submit it to a contest, get those creative waters flowing,  it is the only thing we can do.  But it is empowering.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 


Dark Age II

Shut Out the World, Turn Inward on Ourselves

Usher in the Dark Age.

Forego Checks and Balances, Leave all Rules Behind

Usher in the Dark Age.

Fire without Warning, Reality TV Politics

Usher in the Dark Age.

Condemn Free Speech, Despise the Fourth Estate

Usher in the Dark Age.

Mute the Scientists, Deafen the Populace

Usher in the Dark Age.

Revoke Dissenting Opinion, Claim it’s for ‘Your Good’

Usher in the Dark Age.

Truth becomes Irrelevant, Alternative Facts Laid Bare

Usher in the Dark Age.

Privatize the Public, Deregulate what is Healthy

Usher in the Dark Age.

Ignore the Constitution, Fleece Your Own Nation…

Disheveled White Men

Usher in the American Dark Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Women’s March: Just a Start

I was in Chico, California, home of my university Alma Mater.   A few hundred were expected, a couple of thousand showed up, as was typical across the US and the world.march

I marched for several reasons:

As a historian I marched because I see the possibility of past tyranny becoming a present reality for our nation.  This worries me deeply.

As a mother I marched because I have three sons.  I desire a peaceful future for them and their children.  I wish for them to have the opportunities I had as a young adult (chances are they won’t get them, but I will still fight for them).   I want them to know that democracy isn’t about just voting, it’s about making your voice carry to the oval office.  And my voice along with millions of others did carry into the very core of our nation, manifested by this morning’s tweets.

As a citizen, I marched to be another warm body among the sea.  I marched to add one more voice to the chant “Rise up”.  I marched to demonstrate support for my fellow citizens who’s lives have been marginalized by our current President.

I marched because democracy is a gift, and we must work sometimes to keep it.

It was empowering.

When I got home and opened my Twitter and Facebook accounts, I was met by pictures and stories of people from all over the world who joined in and made it perfectly clear:  This is what democracy really looks like.    This is solidarity.  These are people who will not sit idly like a frog in the proverbial boiling water, instead they will jump out at the first sign of danger and warn the rest who might not notice the change.

The next four years can be a long time or a short time, but they will absolutely be a time wherein we must engage in our democracy as never before.  May the Women’s March and it’s peaceful tone be the first step, just the start, in this process.

There is work to do, fellow citizens.   Let’s get about doing it.

Yours,

Frankie

 


Nook, Current Events, and a Sampling

Caysee Rides: A Story of Freedom, and Friendship is now available on Barnes and Noble’s Nook.   I am excited to be able to publish on this venue as well and look forward to connecting to a wider audience  (also published on Amazon’s Kindle).

In light of current events, the timing of this release is fortuitous.   With an uncertain political landscape taking form, conjectures about things such as California’s succession from the union and state’s rights are being discussed more openly and with sincerity.

In formulating the circumstances of Caysee’s story, I felt compelled to stay true to a somewhat plausible post-United States scenario, utilizing my historian’s eye in the process, and sourcing from Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.    The connections of today’s sociopolitical climate and the possibility of a state-driven republic are wholly relevant in Caysee Rides. 

I leave with you a sampling from the book, in which the reader learns the history of the breakup of the United States and the subsequent formations of Provinces; with the exception of the Pacific Republic which I further examine here.

Thank you for reading,

A grateful Frankie

“So many people died. It must have been awful.”  Caysee only thought of her parents, she just now realized that other people lost loved ones as well.

“It was.  Still is.  I don’t think anyone expected the country to be split up and separated the way it happened.  We aren’t used to closed and guarded borders, but it was the only way that the Execs could get their way and be successful, too many people opposed the corporate takeover.”  MeeMaw was dishing out large portions of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and green beans on their plates as she spoke, “So many, in fact, that it became a serious threat to them and they eventually just decided to militarize the entire nation to keep everyone in line, that’s when the Exec Revolution started. ” 

“How were the Provinces were formed?  What was it like before?” Caysee wondered.

MeeMaw sat down to her own plate, a heavy sigh gave away her exhaustion, “I don’t know how much of early U.S. history you know but in the beginnings of the Old Nation the states were hell bent on having their own rights, separate from the central government.  If I remember right the idea was to keep a balance of power and make sure the central government didn’t have too much. The issue of slavery became too big to ignore though and tested the fragile relationship between the central government and the state’s rights.  The Southern states soon declared their independence from the Union and set up their own shop, so to speak, elected their own president and everything.  Once the Civil War came to an end, the Confederacy, as they called themselves was welcome back into the Union but the states never really got over the loss of their independence.  When the chance came for them to separate again during the Exec Revolution, they grabbed it without hesitation. The South set up their own government, built fences around their borders and pledged to keep everyone out.   After that, the Execs sort of just split the rest up into convenient chunks according to their purposes and called them Provinces. But there were enough people and resources in the Pacific Republic states that they decided they wanted complete independence from the New Republic.  They didn’t want Execs running their business, they wanted to keep the democracy intact, and they had the ability to feed themselves, so they built their own border, and that’s how the New Republic came to be the patchwork of Provinces that it is now.”

“Everett mentioned that people try to escape the Confederacy just to go work in the NP.  Things must be bad there if the NP is where they want to go.” 

“Well, even before the Revolution, the south was a bit of a backwater, poverty stricken and closed minded.   Once the Province sealed itself up, all of those issues became worse, apparently thousands alone died of starvation and disease.  They keep closed off from the rest of the world; many people try to escape just so their children have a chance at a better education.”

Mac’s matter-of-fact voice broke into the serious narrative, “Right.  There aren’t many choices in the NP, but I can see how it would be better than a life completely cut off from the rest of the world.”


Happy New Year! My Year of Being Open

Happy New Year to all.  I hope this post finds each of you inspired at the bright shiny twelve months ahead of us.

As we recollect on 2016 and make out our calendars for 2017, it does some good to reflect upon where we are and where we’d like our year to go.

This year my reflections are upon the concept of ‘openness.’   The notion stems from the tenant that ‘like attracts like’:  if I am open to energy and resources that are positive and helpful, then those things will attract themselves to me.  Cool!  But it’s a bit of a concerted effort to be conscious about openness.   Our everyday lives, the news, some health scare, or just the fast-paced society we live in can remove our focus and daunt our thoughts.  Being open is a state of being, a constant choice,  because life is busy and it’s too easy to get distracted.

There’s another element to being open that I’ve been thinking upon as well.   It’s about being open to change, and changing.   If I am willing and consciously open to the universe and it’s positive energies, then I should expect some of those energies to illicit changes in my behavior by enlightening me to better ways of doing and being.

It’s one thing to become aware of something needing my attention, but quite another to enact the change necessary to bring about improvement.  I need to be open, therefore, to a willingness to change, grow, evolve.  After all, we’ve only gotten this far as a species because of our very ability to adapt, that is to change.

Being open is also an important trait to utilize at this particular moment in US history.   Tensions are high within our society and our instincts would have us ‘build walls ‘or  ‘stay inside’, but these actions only tend to further our  problems and they certainly prevent any kind of translation or communication across social lines.  Openness requires a kind of strength in this case since we are forced to override our instincts to close up.

Openness takes some effort.  But our brains are great at rewiring themselves if we’re willing to exert enough conscious energy, so it’s only a matter of focus.   Yet openness itself isn’t quite enough.  We must be willing to adapt and change to new information as it comes along and inspires us.  In our current social/political climate, openness feels opposite to the actions our instincts might have us take.  Awareness and attention will allow us to keep our spirits malleable instead.

May the year be as gentle as possible.

Yours,

Frankie


New Year, New Ideas: Employ Compassion, Not Empathy

Wanna know the next big thing for the new year?  Understanding the difference between empathy (and its apparent detriment to our decision making) and compassion.

I first heard about the notion via a podcast of Sam Harris’ in which he interviews Paul Bloom concerning the newly released book, the idea as a whole, and the distinction between the two terms:  their essence and their impact on social behavior.  It is an enlightening listen (By the way, I highly recommend Sam Harris “Waking Up” weekly podcast as some of the most excellent mind food a person can consume on a regular basis.  Warning: not for the fainthearted).    I offer these two references as further reading/review of the book: Why Empathy is Bad and Against Empathy .   I especially appreciated the social worker’s perception on ‘real life-applicable-pragmatic’ lessons in dichotomizing the two characteristics within the profession.

It will be imperative for us all, moving forward in the next few months, to understand the difference between these two elements as we attempt to cross the social divides that are becoming more obvious post-election.  We will each need to reach out compassionately to the neighbor whom we feel betrayed us in the voting booth, whichever way that went. We will need to employ a great deal of understanding and rational decision making while we try to unify some semblance of a majority against corporate plans to amend our constitution.

We have some serious work for ourselves, individually, in order to maintain a civil society – especially considering the unstable, insecure reality in which we live. It behooves us to investigate the difference between empathy and compassion so that we might employ the right tools when appropriate.   I can think of no better way to begin a new year, than with this new perspective and its useful applications.

Here’s to new information.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 


Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This past week I went back to find a piece I had written as a farce, really.   I didn’t realize it’s been a year since I published it, somehow I was thinking I wrote it during the primaries.    Now that we are living this reality, the writ is even more poignant.

“Choosing a President:  A Thought Experiment”

I honestly don’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity or cry over the threat to our democracy.

Maybe, both.

Yours,

Frankie


Memory Games

Oh memories!

Snapshots of going places,

Recollection of shared laughter,

Connective moments of time –

Weave their threads through my soul

with indifference as to their deposit.

Yet when I reach back to effect a withdrawal,

I am met with a bittersweet welcome.

Shiny and cherished, those memories

Tug nostalgically at the heart:

“That was a quaint time.”

“Wasn’t it a beautiful day?”

“My babies were little once.”

Turn the past psychological pictures over and see

How their initial viewing changes

To one of pride and treasure:

“I am glad to have had that time.”

“That day will always stay with me.”

“My babies are fine young men now.”

Memory Games.

The twofold experience of pain and pleasure.

 

 

 

 


Thanksgiving Manifesto

There is much for which I can be thankful.

I have three healthy boys that have grown to be great young men who seem likely to contribute positively to society.  I have a husband who loves and supports me.   I am healthy.  I have a handful of siblings who are my heroes, each in their own way.  I have a couple of dogs that keep me warm on cold winter nights.

And after the results of the recent election, I find I am especially thankful for the freedoms we have in our nation.  As a writer, I truly enjoy the freedom I have  to know that I can write about anything and have no fear over being arrested for my views.    I can press a button and publish a writ that hundreds can read, think, and decide upon, hopefully making us all better people in the process.

I do not take this freedom for granted, and today, more than ever, I am Thankful for it.

It sounds a bit conspiracy-theory-ish, but I worry about us writers.   We now have a president elect who has demonstrably attacked the press, time and time again.   We have a president elect who’s ties to Russia are disconcerting ( his son sat in on a call with the nation-state over the Syria issue).   We have a leader who can’t take any kind of humor or disagreement.   As a writer, these are deeply concerning issues.

My writing is a small bleep on anyone’s radar, I know, but a bleep nonetheless and in the current environment it’s not a simple matter of just pressing the ‘publish’ button. It’s a matter of weighing each posting, getting it right, ensuring that truth gets its time in the light and that  the unprecedented does not become normalized.   Now more than ever, I will write with all conviction and utilzation of the freedom of speech we have in our nation. No longer will I take this freedom for granted.  It absolutely is the thing I am most grateful for today.

And to my fellow writers , I encourage you to do the same: excercise the beautiful freedom of expression and speech that is part of the bedrock of our nation.  To do less at this moment in history is to fail to live up to the expectations of our forefathers for a healthy commonwealth.

May your thanksgiving be full of new memories, may we exemplify our gratitude for the freedom of speech as writers by making our voice heard and keeping the wheels of creativity churning. 

Yours,

Frankie 
 

 


“Hey Girl” A Lesson About (Self) Compassion

It’s a rough world.   Life is hard.  There are no guarantees. So, we need each other.  We need others to let us know it’s going to be okay. We need someone to sit beside us and hug us and validate our fears, our failings.  That’s why we have friends and why we take care of each other.

The song “Hey Girl”, out on Lady Gaga’s newest album puts this notion to a musical twist.  It’s a collaboration with Florence Welch and the track is musically reminiscent of Elton John’s ‘Bennie and the Jets” with a hit of a bridge containing some heavenly harmonies.

But, as usual, I look for the deeper meaning and found that the song works well when you sing it to yourself…

“Hey girl, we can make it easy if we lift each other…Hey girl, we don’t need to keep on onein’ up each other…If you lose your way, Just know that I got you..” is some powerful stuff to hear yourself tell yourself.

I’ve recently been turned on to Dr. Kristin Neff’s work concerning self-compassion.  It’s about becoming a friend to yourself, instead of the critic that we all grow up with.  You know, that self-talk which typically admonishes and scolds, instead of helping and caring.  It takes work to change that gig around, to come to the rescue of your self in a moment of hurt or anger.   Most of us go right for the throat of our selves:  “If you made this choice instead, you wouldn’t be in this mess,”  “You deserve this because (fill in the blank).”  “Why can’t you figure this out?”

But – what happens when we approach our self from the side, with an arm around our soul and a voice soft with support?   “Hey girl, if you lose your way, just know that I got you.”

Magic happens.

Suddenly, we become our own best advocate.  Think about how we will pretty much drop whatever we are doing and go help a sister.   Now consider how that same energy can be channeled into self-compassion as we learn to drop everything else and go help ourselves. There’s a peace that is acquired.  More than that, there is a kind of neutrality that can empower a person.   If I know I can comfort myself for my deepest, darkest wounds, then no matter who comes at me or what stands in my way, I will muster through because I know that I ‘got myself’.   I know that I can come to my own rescue.  I know that even if I am experiencing the worst imaginable pain, I can be my own source of solace.

Yes, it is hard.  Damn this life is difficult.   But there is a way to manage, and it begins with self-compassion.  Try it out, at least once….”If you lose your way, Just know that I got you.”

Yours,

Frankie