Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gaining Perspective in High Spaces

Not long ago, I hiked Lower Table Rock in southern Oregon. To my mind, the path was steep. Walking up was less difficult because the ground rose in front of me, making it easier to see. At the top, we walked the path to the edge of the mesa. I snapped this picture standing near the edge and looking over the valley as well as Upper Table Rock in the distance. I watched eagles gliding over the field below and laughed at the thought that we were standing above the soaring eagles.

Hiking back down was more difficult for me. I kept my head down and focused on the bright turquoise shoes of my daughter hiking down before me (purposefully close to me). I was grateful for the assistance. It calmed me so much that I hiked down the steeper part of the path beside her with my head up. A very different view!

The following week, I found myself ascending Mt. Evans, one of Colorado's Fourteens ~ over 14,000 feet ~ on the world's highest paved road. At one point, this was our view: no horizon to speak of, nothing ahead but fluffy white clouds on which to focus. From what we'd already driven, I knew we were coming to another hairpin turn. My heart was racing and I pulled my right side closer to the center of the vehicle ~ as if that would help!

At the top, we met a fellow traveler on a bicycle and a couple riding a motorcycle. Mountain goats with their lost, bleating kids wandered and nibbled at the sparse grass or relaxed at the side of the road. Yellow-bellied marmots dotted the landscape and chirruped as they chased across the rocks. Our view was vast, rocky and distant. We could truly see for miles and miles. Pike's Peak appeared through the clouds as well as the other FourteensThe view was breath-taking ~ as was being over 14.000 feet in the air! Hence the sign:
As I reflected on these trips, I realized how much perspective I gained on each of them. Although Lower Table Rock seemed an easy jaunt for most of the hikers, it was my perspective making it more difficult. Hiking next to my confident daughter afforded me the opportunity to notice that I felt safer when I limited my view. However, I did not feel better. Once I recognized that I was limiting the view, forcing a narrower perspective, I could lift my head and see the fullness of the wooded landscape I was traversing.

Mt. Evans, on the other hand, was a different sort of trek. We were in a car, driving up and up and up. The same what-if fear gripped me at times. I recognized more quickly that I could breathe deeply and enjoy the beauty of the heights or I could focus on the narrow space where the fear resided. Again, it was a matter of perspective. When I let it flow out in a wider circle, my fear dissipated. I felt the incredible awe of the adventure. I wondered about the First Peoples who traversed this mountain on foot and marveled at the people who created the paved road.

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: "We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down." Being close to those cliffs physically, recognizing the ones I carry within, I have a new perspective on how and why I develop those wings. I am grateful for the journeys in such quick succession ~ as well as for those who accompanied me up those heights, and those who accompany me on the internal cliff jumping.

At what cliffs have you stood? How do you face them? How do you feel when you stand there? Has the fear ever overwhelmed you? What do you know of your perspective at those moments? How has your perspective changed over time?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 2016 Capricorn Full Moon

One theme of July's Full Moon is letting go. Letting go what no longer serves us. Letting go the past. Letting go regrets. Letting go the tight controls we put on our emotions. Another word for all of this might be surrender. It's not a passive release. It's an active process of allowing for experience, expression and exhalation.

Allow the experience of remembering and considering what is holding us back from being or doing our best. Allow the expression of regret, grief, fear or whatever other emotions bubble up. Allow the exhalation of pent-up breath, tears, exhaustion and worry. The Capricorn Full Moon is present to support us as we dig deep into our very selves, call up our shadows and bear our souls.

Uranus, the Ultimate Awakener, and Eris, the Goddess of Chaos, are square to the Full Moon as well helping to shake the foundations to cause destruction of the old and rebuilding of something new and better. This is the time to rebalance and refocus on our higher path, realign our earthly self with our heavenly self, bring the ideal into reality.

What do you need to let go of? What no longer serves your best good? What feeling/s are cramped inside you, waiting to be released? How will you move forward from here? How will you embrace the healing and joining of your earthly self and your heavenly one?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Don't You Dare!

Caveat: I am a storyteller. I stretch, bend, twist, turn and invent the truth as needed & from my POV.

While sitting at my local Starbucks with some of my comrades-in-caffeine, a group of young women entered enthusiastically. It was a hot day and they'd obviously spent some recent time in the sun. In an admiring and disparaging tone, one of the men in our group commented on the skimpy clothing on a couple of the young women. I was in conversation with another person and chose to ignore him. The woman sitting next to him commented, "And they wonder why they might get raped." Before I knew what was happening, I snapped, "Don't you dare!" and pointed at her. "Don't you dare blame them for wearing whatever they choose. They are not responsible for the actions of some men who choose not to control their own impulses." I was livid. Almost immediately, I apologized for my vehemence. The woman on my left put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Don't worry about it, sister. I have your back on this one." Another man in the group related a story of an investigator who needed to be removed from an assault investigation because his first question was, What did she (the victim) do to bring this on? I realized others were as stunned as I was, though I was the only one who spoke with such fierceness.

I later realized that I was not sorry about what I said. I responded to an appalling comment. Victim-blaming is rampant in our culture. The 'boys will be boys' excusing of behavior overwhelms common sense. It is why approximately 67% of rapes are never reported. It is why 99.4% of perpetrators never go to prison. (according to RAINN) Rape is considered the most grossly under-reported crime in the US.

Our group's conversation turned to Brock Allen Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who received a very light slap on the wrist for his rape of an unconscious woman. His father, Dan Turner, wrote "That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life." and complained because his son has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Well, Mr. Turner, that's what he is. I mentioned to the group the letter Brock Turner's victim wrote and read in court. Did anyone read it? Indeed, a couple of people had. Another couple of people never heard of it. Some side-stepped it with a comment that this kind of writing 'gets to them' too much. Again, I found my fierce voice saying, "It should get to us. That's why I felt the need to read it. I want to honor the woman's courage and her willingness to speak her truth."

At heart, I acknowledge that my strong response was triggered by a comment blaming the victims ~ especially poignant to me because it was made by a woman. What I know is that I live in a culture that does less than it could or should to prevent rape. I live in a culture more willing to blame the victim than to look at its own shadowy protection of its people of privilege. I live in a culture that coddles its male progeny and too often excuses their violent behavior. I live in a culture where women remain second-class citizens in many instances ~ and are also kept there by their sisters who have bought into the perpetrated blame game.

What do you know about rape? Has anyone ever told you s/he has been raped? What is your first reaction when you hear someone's been raped? (honestly) What can you do to change our rape culture and victim-blaming?