Solidarity to Solitary #WomensMarch2018 #MakeTheWorldABetterPlace


Young Filer and her daughter Hahna, 8 stand along Pine Street during the Seattle Women’s March on Saturday. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Saturday was the second annual Women’s March.  I missed it.  I also missed the first march.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just so much stuff in my life now is going crazy.  I have this weight of other things hanging over my head, that this was just not a priority for me.  I have friends, that are younger, that did the first march and lament that they did not for some reason participate this year.  The time was not right for me.

Here are some facts that might shed some light on my perspective.  I grew up in the seventies.  It was a time of protest.  Maybe the sixties were more known for it, but I certainly saw it often on the news in the seventies.  I couldn’t wait to grow up and go stand outside some “evil” factory chain link fence with a protest sign or march down the street chanting for equality and burning my bra.  That never happened.

By the time I got to college it was the eighties, a time of prosperity and relative peace, at least in my area.  I would occasionally hear about a protest going on, usually Greenpeace related.  If you went to the area where the protest was happening, there would be maybe twenty people huddled in a group holding five signs in Red Square on the UW campus.  To those people it must have felt like being on a small raft in a sea of apathetic students passing by on their way to classes.  I found ads in the classifieds for activist jobs.  You could get paid to do this – make a living from protesting things?  Somehow that seemed to take all the meaning out of it for me.

It was a bit of an eye opening experience.  It wasn’t that people didn’t care about whales or whatever the protest was about, but the time was not right for that.  Historically, you can look and see that events tend to pendulum back and forth.  It’s not getting progressively better, but swinging back and forth along a fairly straight path; times of peace – times of conflict, times of prosperity – times of scarcity, times of hope – times of despair, times of enlightenment – times of ignorance.  To some this might be disheartening, but if you think of it this way, it just means that if you are in a down swing, then things are heading towards an upswing.  It is ingrained in human nature to keep us in that balance.

Don’t get me wrong.  I applaud those protesters.  There is something to be said for solidarity.  Being part of a group, belonging, gives people a purpose, worth.  We all need solidarity at some point in our lives or in certain areas of our lives.  This is what being in a group does for you: brings you together and gives you a purpose, feeds your soul, uplifts your spirits, gives you strength, courage and hope.  You see this in sports, clubs, religions, communities and other organizations.

The times feel like despair now.  This does not feel like a great place to be, but in fact adversity breeds creativity.  Women have experienced this for ages.  They have expressed their protests in craft, needlework and knitting for hundreds of years.  These pink hats are nothing, but the latest expression of protest.  Not only women, but all people feel the need to create art when they have something to say and need a way to express themselves; through song, paint, drawing, sculpture, writing, poetry and other crafts.

Had these marches taken place thirty years ago, I would have been right in the middle of it.  It is something I would have loved to be a part of.  Now, maybe, I’m too cynical and definitely older and more tired.  My friend from college, who sometimes would go to protests told me years later that she learned that it was more effective to work from the inside to make change, rather than standing outside that chain link fence holding a sign.  I believe she was right.

I urge you all to make that change from the inside, starting with yourself.  Stand together in solidarity, but at the end of the day stand individually by your own solitary self.  You have more power than you think you do.  If you see something that needs fixing in the world, then take the initiative and fix it.  Even the smallest things make a difference.  While we can’t always do the best thing or the right thing everyday, when we make a conscience effort to try and do the right thing, like helping someone out, being kind, picking up after a stranger in shared public spaces, spending our money with companies that try and make the world better, this makes a difference.   These are things that if we all did them, would make a difference in the world.

What if everyone lived their lives as if the reason for being here was to make the world a better place?  I try and teach this to my children, because this is a world that I would like to live in.  What about you?




A Year in Passing


This past October marked the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing.  She died on October 2nd, 2012.  It was her 71st birthday.  It may seem like quite a coincidence, however it was the day that we made the decision to pull the plug on her life support machine.  I’m not sure if the doctor knew that it was her birthday, but it was kind of poetic and we decided to do it that day and not wait.

This past year has been hard.  It was very hard, especially the first three months.  Throughout the year there were many rough spots, times when I wanted or need my mother and she wasn’t there.  In truth, she hadn’t really been there like she used to be for several years, which was another pain altogether.  When she died, I not only mourned the physical loss of her, but I was then able to mourn the loss of her mental presence for the past two years.

The time that I most missed her was during the holidays and mother’s day.  But what took me by surprise, was when I missed her this past July at Med Fest.  I belong to a belly dance troupe and every year we dance at the Mediterranean Fantasy Festival that takes place in West Seattle.   This year, my father was mourning as well and he returned to his hometown of Dauphin, Pennsylvania to stay with his sister and be close to other family and friends.  So when the day of Med Fest came around, I was without mother or father.

Now, I had invited other family and friends, some of whom said they would try and make it.  But in the end, my husband and son went to play board games, everyone else was busy and no one came to see me dance.  My daughter was there, but she was dancing with us, so no one was there to see her dance either.  There were other belly dancing friends there, but they would have been there even if I hadn’t been dancing.

My point being, that normally this would not have bothered me in the least.  I have danced on several other occasions without having anyone I knew in the audience and it was fine.  But on this particular day I broke down.   I’m not kidding.  I literally broke down and cried in the middle of breakfast.  When my husband asked me what was wrong, I said that no one was coming to see me dance and I didn’t know why I was doing it anymore.  His response was that I should quit.  He didn’t get it.

If I may back up several years.  It was at Med Fest and we were still a pretty new troupe.  I was nervous.  My hands were sweating.  I’m standing behind the stage with my sword and I’m so worried that I’ll drop it, I’ll forget the group choreography, or whatever.  My stomach hurts.  We finally take the stage and I feel my hands shaking.  My face feels tight with trying to smile.  I look out at the audience and there is my father.  He has brought my mother to see the dancers.  She is sitting there in her wheelchair.  She seems happy enough, but who knows what she is thinking.

I get out on the stage to do my solo piece and I look at my mother.  I don’t even know if she knows who I am.  Suddenly, she breaks out with the biggest smile on her face and I know she knows me.  Her face is beaming and I can tell that she is happy.  My heart beats slow to a normal pace.  My face loosens to a natural smile and everything with the world is okay.  I don’t have to dance for anyone else in the audience.  I can dance to make my mother happy and nothing else matters.   From that moment forward I dance for my mother and I haven’t been nervous (much) or worried, because the rest just doesn’t matter.

This past year, I got out on stage with a heavy heart.  I looked at my daughter, who was so happy to be there and I realized that this year I dance for my mother…  and my daughter.  Nothing else matters.

If you happen to read this sometime close to my posting date, you may also want to look up KEXP’s John in the Morning dj’s “The Mom Show”.  It is his annual tribute to his mother who died of cancer and to everyone who’s lost someone.  I’m pretty sure it will be aired on Wednesday, November 13 between 6-10am.  If you miss it you can probably catch it in archives or at least see the playlist from it after.  If I were to request a song for my mother it would be Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’.  She loved big band and especially Louis Armstrong.


So, this is for my mother, who loved music and dancing with a passion.  I’m not positive, who she would say that she danced for, but I believe her answer would have been her family.

Whether your passion is dancing, music, writing or anything else, I think you can substitute what I’ve written about for any of those things.  When you think about what’s important in your life, I have this question for you.  Who do you dance for?

Thoughts on Aging, Writing, and Happiness

So sad today that Davy Jones died.  He was 66, so it’s not that shocking, but now that I’m older I’m thinking, it’s really not that old.  I didn’t know Davy Jones personally, (but how cool would that have been if I did?)  so on the one hand I shouldn’t be that sad about it.  However, like all things famous, most of us find a personal attachment to those things that we love.  There is a small ache in my heart that the world has lost this great singer and entertainer.  A small beloved piece of my childhood has died today.  I loved the beautiful and usually happy music of the Monkees and who could resist that smile and accent.  The Monkees and Davy Jones is something that truly made me happy as a child.  I can still hear my mom saying, “You are just crazy about those Monkees.”

My girlfriend, Jodey, called today and told me that Davy Jones had died.  Going over the conversation in my mind, I seem to have not been very moved by it.  I don’t know if that is just me or if everyone does this, but bad news never seems to sink in until I’ve thought about it later.  Is it the shock?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s my way of protecting myself from bad news.  It just takes a long time to process.

This is just another thing that reminds me that I am getting older.  I also find time slipping away at an alarming rate.  I don’t understand how time can pass so slowly when you are younger, but now I look back and it has all gone so fast.  Don’t even ask me what high school reunion is coming up.   I don’t even want to know.  I find that I dwell on things like what I will not have done before I die.  I will not have read all the books on my bookshelf or watched the videos/dvds/bluerays I have on the shelf.  I’m worried that I won’t get any of my books published.  I worry that I will miss out on something my child does.  I wish I had one of those backward time things that Hermione got from Dumbledore.

I feel like I am wasting time on the internet/computer and should spend my time more productively.  I did however hear something encouraging today.  I was catching up on some talks by Bill Kenower of Author magazine.  He was doing an interview and he told a story about a college professor who was very disappointed with the quality of work that students were writing.  He thought that their writing was uninteresting. So he did an experiment and he found blogs for some of the students in his class.  He was surprised to find that those students who wrote such boring papers, actually wrote very interesting blogs.  They wrote well, when it was something that they were passionate about.   Bill went on to say something to the effect that even though it has been said that people don’t read or write anymore, it is actually the contrary.  People are reading and writing a tremendous amount, but it is just they are mostly doing this on-line and not in the traditional way of books, papers and magazines.  This does make me feel slightly better about all the time I spend writing inane things on-line.

Another thing about getting older that makes me sad or at least is a slight downer is getting, taking, or (gasp) wanting advice from someone younger than me.  (I’m just thankful that I’m not working and I don’t have to take orders from some young power hungry idiot.  That would annoy me.  I have heard stories about this.)  I don’t know why this should bother me so much.  It’s a weird thing.  It’s as if I were in competition with someone (even if they are only a year or two younger).  As if I have arrived at this age before them, then somehow I should know all that they know.  Intellectually, I know this is crazy.  Different people have different experiences and it has made them wise in different ways.  I am wise in some ways (at least I hope so) and other things I’m still learning and other things will never become an issue.  I still can’t help feeling like I should know as much as someone else that has lived just as long.  It’s crazy.  I am reminded of a bit by Gordon Pinsent.  This is brilliant.

It puts it all back into perspective…