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?




Spring is here – What are you waiting for?


This morning I found this flower beginning to bloom right outside my front door. I smiled and thought, “Spring is really here.” The crocuses have come and gone already, which they say is always the first sign of Spring, but I don’t trust them. They often don’t know any better and come out without their coats on and freeze.

I was noticing these buds as I was contemplating what to write today. Then it struck me. As with writing and many other things, we often find that life gets in the way. When that happens we sometimes have to just stop and truly embrace it. We need that.

However, sometimes we find that what we think of as life getting in the way, is often just our way of procrastinating. I used to think that procrastinating was something that you did to avoid doing something that you really didn’t want to do. I’ve come to realize that unfortunately, it is also a way to avoid doing something that you love or really want to do. The thing that causes the procrastination is not the lack of love, but fear.

There’s that terrible word. There is real fear when your life is in mortal danger and then there is that imagined fear; the fear of the unknown, of rejection, of disapproval, of not being perfect. These imagined fears are no less terrifying and they can often prevent us from doing what we really want to be doing with our life.

The story below is one I wrote when I was trying to think of a short story quickly and couldn’t come up with anything. I also, have always loved that image of Snoopy sitting on his doghouse with his typewriter. Isn’t that the most icon picture of a writer anywhere?


In the story, the man has writer’s block. He has been writing, but he is running out of time. Will life get in his way?

It was a dark and stormy night

By Sonya Rhen
Michael was sitting at his computer. He was staring at the blank screen. Where to start? It was a dark and stormy night popped into his head. Then he pictured Snoopy on his dog house sitting at his typewriter. That wouldn’t do.
Ann came in behind him. She ran her fingers through his hair. Michael felt a shiver run up his spine at her touch.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m trying to write,” Michael answered without looking up at her. “I don’t have a lot of time.”
“Am I bothering you?” Ann asked coyly.
Michael breathed out heavily through his nose. He didn’t want to be rude, but he was anxious to get some writing in this evening.
“What are you writing about?” she asked, when he didn’t answer.
“I guess that’s the trouble.” Michael ran his fingers through his brown hair, straightening the hair that Ann had ruffled.
“You should write about Vampires,” Ann suggested, “or zombies.”
“They’ve been done to death,” Michael couldn’t help saying.
Ann groaned. Then she smiled broadly, “You could write about me.”
“Me!” Ann repeated.
“That’s crazy.” Michael stabbed at the keyboard. He typed “Title” and under it he typed “by Michael Jameson”.
“That’s not much of a title,” she read over his shoulder.
“I haven’t thought of one yet.”
“What’s so crazy about it?”
Michael picked up the cup of coffee sitting on the desk next to his computer. He took a sip while he tried to remember her previous train of thought. “Nothing, I guess.”
“Is that coffee?” Ann looked at the cup closely. “You’ll be up all night.”
Michael raised his eyebrows at her.
“Whatever,” she continued. “I still think you should write about me. I’ve always wanted to be in a book. Maybe you could call it Ann of White Picket Fences?”
He thought about the picket fence that ran along the front face of the house. They were not great gardeners. It was overgrown with bushes and vines that grew out front. He shook his head. “You don’t spell your name with an ‘e’. I don’t think it would work.”
Michael felt Ann swirling the hair on top of his head with her finger. It triggered that spot in the middle of his back. He squirmed.
She whispered in his ear, “I could help you brainstorm. I could be a foreign spy on a top secret mission, ‘Tell me all your secrets, darling.’”
He chuckled at her Natasha Fatale impression. A glance out the window told him that the sun was setting. He looked anxiously at the clock on the computer.  “It’s really nice of you to offer to help, but…”
“Why won’t you write about me?” Ann insisted. “I’m fun and interesting. I’d make a great character in your book. You never write about me.”
He looked at her pouty face and sighed.  “I’ll dedicate the book to you.”
He wanted to write something exciting, maybe a mystery or thriller. He’d need a tough character. Thoughts of Dashiell Hammett or Mickey Spillane ran through his head. Ann just didn’t fit in that picture.
“You’ve never been anywhere foreign,” Michael reminded her. He felt like holding down a key, any key, on the keyboard, just so he wouldn’t see all that blank space on the page.
“It’s fiction,” Ann said, “I could be whatever you wrote me to be. It could be a present. Our anniversary is coming up.”
Michael didn’t even notice the crinkles in his forehead forming at that suggestion. He gave a non-committal, “Hm.”
“A ghost story!” Ann breathed with excitement.
“Ghosts are so trite,” Michael said without thinking.
“Oh!,” Ann exclaimed.
Michael felt a stab of regret at the sound of her voice. He was going to pay for that remark for a long time. He turned in time to see her form vanish through the closed office door.
He turned back to the computer in front of him, even though he knew it would be too late. He frowned down at the long hard nails and furry hands that hovered uselessly over the keyboard.
“Stupid full moon.”



Tomorrow will come for Michael and then maybe life won’t get in his way. I imagine that he will finish his story and makeup with Ann, because that will be his passion, what he really wants in life.

What is your passion? What do you really want in life?

Spring is here – What are you waiting for?