Banjo, The Meadow & Me

Banjo was a pony with a striking tricolor pattern of chestnut, bay, and white that boarded on our small Oregon farm when I was a kid. According to my older brother, he was descended from Indian ponies. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but at the age of 10, if Jimmy said so, it was good enough for me. He was unruly, pig-headed, fat, and determined to get rid of anyone who had the temerity to get on his back. I loved him. Banjo succeeded in sending every male in the family flying, including Uncle Eldon, cousin Merle, Dad, and…

Some might even call it a blessing.

  Stress… it might be going too far to call it a blessing, but it can be the disguised kind of blessing if we shift our perspective a titch. Stress can literally kill you. It can also be something that causes us to reassess our lives and be willing to try new approaches to relieving our daily anxieties. Being curious about how my friends creatively address this challenge, I recently posted a question on Facebook: “What are your favorite destressing techniques?” Here are a few of the brilliant responses. Just reading them makes me feel more relaxed! (My favorite destressing activities are at the…

Looking for the up-side

With so much happening, and at such a rapid-fire pace, it’s nearly impossible for the average person to keep up. Even members of the media are struggling with this endless torrent of weird, outrageous, and often insane behavior generated by this current administration. Every day is a new shock to the system. I do not exaggerate. Updates are out of date nearly as soon as they’re covered and posted, with readers scrambling to keep up with each new eruption. Gaslighting — a conscious attempt to confuse and distract — is a daily occurrence. “Look here, not there” is a ploy…

Shock Event

   Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College: I don’t like to talk about politics on Facebook — political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends — but there is an important non-partisan point to make today. What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries — is creating what is known as a “shock event.” Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by…

Hope, kindness, and a touch of snark

Confession: I’m weary to the bone of negativity and name-calling on social media — from both sides of the political chasm. So I’m working out how to navigate social media in a constructive way in this new year. How do we interrupt — and stand up to — the gross ignorance and intolerance of racism without falling into the trap of name-calling, snark, shaming, and tit-for-tat exchanges that too often dominate social media? Shaming doesn’t work, and we can’t just wish it away — and snark is so tempting, especially when you’re good at it. In response to me reflecting on how to…

Carrying On

“How do we do it?” is a question on the minds of many, these days. I’ve heard from people who are feeling true despair over the outcome of the election. I get it. Despair is appropriate when we’re facing the possible dismantling of hard-won political and social progress. Despair, however, gets us nowhere. It is a downward spiral that generally takes an act of will to reverse. Isolation is the ally of despair. Don’t let it be. Find friends who support you. Be an ally to those whose struggle may be different from yours. Support a cause greater than yourself. Practice bravery. Be a friend….

Flat Rock, Rippled Pond

One of the joys of my childhood was having unlimited access to the Willamina River that bordered our small farm in Western Oregon. With nearly one-half mile that was mine to explore, I was never happier than when I escaped to its edge to indulge in minute explorations of this moist, boggy, ferny paradise. Robinson Crusoe fantasies dominated my play. By the age of eight, a part of me longed to escape the tensions that were a daily part of life in my family. The river bank is where I learned to skip rocks, catch crawdads, check the boggy areas for minnows, and observe the development…