Real life with ADD

This morning I made my coffee and went to add my vanilla coconut milk creamer.  It had already been opened.  I swear, I just bought this monday and drank no coffee yesterday so I know   it’s been “tampered with” or returned to the store and accidently put on the shelf.  Some milk is also gone, besides the seal gone.  How does this relate to ADD? Because you’re never sure if you just forgot…

I drank it anyway. So if I should die or get deathly ill today, please register my final words as these:

“Sometimes you have to live dangerously to get good coffee”

PS my final act of kindness was rescuing a daddy longlegs out of my shower and releasing him safely outside.

 

🙂

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Real life with ADD

Honesty, honor, integrity

I am reading James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty” and while I’m sure he appreciated the press coverage, it also focused 100% on Big headed red, my term, since I can’t stand the man and couldn’t before- his election still astounds me-

But the book is actually about Comey’s career, so those of you burnt out on crazy red like I am needn’t fear.  It’s a fascinating book on devotion to country and a fascinating career, as well as very well written.  I am far beyond halfway with little mention of red.

But also, a human is defined by how well they hold up under pressure.  How well do they maintain their ethics and integrity?  Does power erode that? Only for the weak minded.

With that thought, I wanted to share Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham jail.  It’s a long read, you might want to do it in sections.  Keep in mind, no one develops character when life is all roses, we need the challenges to develop our strength and wisdom. And is is those who fight and stand bravely for the rights of all that result in social change, and I am happy to keep fighting these fights among you.

I believe our country is still fighting this racial inequality and his writings are just as relevent now.  I don’t understand why police are only taught to shoot to kill- when an offender is running away, why not shoot to stop them rather than kill them?  The police policy and training makes no sense.

 

Letter From Birmingham Jail August  161963
by Martin Luther King, Jr.
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent
statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom
do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for
constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against”outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southernstate, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in
a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have
organizational ties here. But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.  Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be
considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.  You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am
sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.  In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gain saying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts.  There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any
other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter  consistently refused to engage in good faithnegotiation.
Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama
Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.  As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby
we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.  Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene”Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off,
we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement.
Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.  You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive,
nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of
tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.  The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than
dialogue.  One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we
have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up
their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.  We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor;it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.  For years now I haveheard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity.
This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”  We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a
cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife andmother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”;when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a
degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.  I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.  You express a great deal of anxiety over our
willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying
others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.  Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
Now, what is the difference between the two?  How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas:An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in
eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.  All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.It gives the segregator
a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou”relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the
Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.  Let us consider a more concrete example of just
and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.  Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of
being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected?  Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered.Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?  Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.  I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who
breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced
sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because
Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.  We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.”  It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.  I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward
freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice;who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from
people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.  Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the
purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually,we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension.  We merely bring to the
surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.  In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed
man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed,
it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because thequest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.  I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of
time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social
stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.  Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The
other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up acrossthe nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the
white man is an incorrigible “devil.”
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “donothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.  If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare. Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American
Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily
understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them.  So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not releasedin nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of
nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.  But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice:”Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I willstay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln:”This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same
crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists. I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rootedout by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle–have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger-lovers.”
Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.  Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholicleaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.  But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those
negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as
the cord of life shall lengthen.  When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would
be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.  In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped
that each of you would understand.  But again I have been disappointed.  I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a
desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare:
“Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction
between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular. I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her
massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creativeprotest?”
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed.
In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the
peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.  Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s
silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.  But the judgment of God is upon the church  as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.
Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.  Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have
gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the
outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two
centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and
“preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department. It is true that the police have exercised a degreeof discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted them selves rather “nonviolently” inpublic. But for what purpose?
 I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their
formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is
just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr.Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”  Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?  If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable
impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.  I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities,
and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over ourgreat nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luthe King, Jr.
Honesty, honor, integrity

“How to Hardwire Resilience into Your Brain

We’ll be better prepared for life’s challenges if we cultivate these 12 inner strengths.

One winter, I went camping with my friend Bob in the backcountry near Sequoia National Park. After spending the day slogging uphill through deep snow, we were exhausted but needed to make camp.

As the temperature rapidly dropped, Bob began shivering uncontrollably. He had poured out so much energy without refueling himself that he was sliding into hypothermia, the first stage of freezing to death. We hurried to set up the tent, get into our sleeping bags, light the stove, drink hot water, and eat hot food—and soon Bob’s teeth stopped chattering.

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Luckily, we had just enough resilience to turn this misadventure around. Mental resources like calm, grit, and courage kept us going when we were hit with freezing temperatures. And these are the same types of resources we all can use to help us cope with and push through obstacles in our own lives.

But how do we cultivate them? The key is knowing how to turn passing experiences into lasting inner resources built into our brains. I teach this skill—called positive neuroplasticity—in my new book, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness (written with Forrest Hanson).

Though it’s not a quick fix, you can change your brain for the better by working it the same way you would work a muscle. As you become more resilient in the face of life’s challenges, you move toward greater well-being and away from stress, worry, frustration, and hurt.

12 resources for resilience

Every human being has three basic needs—safety, satisfaction, and connection—that are grounded in our ancient evolutionary history. While our circumstances have changed enormously over the last 200,000 years, our brains have remained largely the same. The neural machinery that enabled our ancestors to satisfy their need for safety by finding shelter, for satisfaction by getting food, and for connection by bonding with others is alive in our brains today.

A particular need is best met by inner strengths that are matched to it—and these mental resources are what make us resilient.

To meet our need for safety, we can draw on:

  • Compassion: Being sensitive to the burdens and suffering of others and ourselves, along with the desire to help with these if we can.
  • Grit: Being doggedly tough and resourceful.
  • Calm: Emotional balance and a sense of capability in the face of threats.
  • Courage: Protecting and standing up for ourselves, including with others.

To meet our need for satisfaction, we can draw on:

  • Mindfulness: Staying present in the moment as it is, rather than daydreaming, ruminating, or being distracted.
  • Gratitude: Appreciating and feeling good about what already exists.
  • Motivation: Pursuing opportunities in the face of challenges.
  • Aspiration: Reaching for and achieving results that are important to us.

To meet our need for connection, we can draw on:

  • Learning: Growing and developing, a process that allows us to cultivate all the other strengths.
  • Confidence: Feeling a sense of being cared about, worthy, and self-assured.
  • Intimacy: Being open to knowing and being known by others.
  • Generosity: Giving to others through altruism, compassion, and forgiveness.

To start cultivating more resilience, pick a challenge in your life, and then consider the needs at stake in it, in terms of safety, satisfaction, and connection. You may be dealing with an external challenge, such as a relationship conflict, a stressful job, or a health problem. Or you could be facing an internal challenge, such as harsh self-criticism or feeling unwanted. Sometimes there’s a one-two punch. For example, tension with someone might be stirring up self-criticism inside you.

As you consider a major challenge and the need(s) at the heart of it, see if any of the twelve resources stand out. Ask yourself:

  • What, if it were more present in my mind these days, would really help?
  • What inner strengths could help me stay peaceful, content, and loving when I’m dealing with this challenge?
  • If this challenge began in the past, what would have been really helpful to have experienced back then?
  • Deep down, what experience do I still very much long for?

The answers to these questions point to which resources you might need to get through your challenge. Next, follow my HEAL framework (Have a beneficial experience, Enrich it, Absorb it, Link it) to cultivate this resource as a durable strength hardwired into your own brain.

1. Have a beneficial experience

Nearly everyone has many enjoyable or useful experiences each day, most of them mild and brief. For example, it feels good to put on a sweater if you’re chilled or feel friendly toward someone who is kind to you. But do you take notice of these experiences and highlight them in your awareness, or just pass by them and move on to the next thing?

This essay is adapted from <a href=“http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0451498844?ie=UTF8&tag=gregooscicen-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0451498844”><em>Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness</em></a> (Harmony, 2018, 304 pages). This essay is adapted from Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness (Harmony, 2018, 304 pages).

The brain is continually remodeling itself as you learn from your experiences. When you repeatedly stimulate a “circuit” in the brain, you strengthen it. The brain operates so rapidly—with neurons routinely firing 5-50 times a second—that you can grow resilience and well-being many times a day, taking a minute or less each time.

To have beneficial experiences in the first place, it helps to be alert to the good facts around you—for example, fortunate circumstances, the beauty of nature, tasks you are completing, people who care about you, or your own talents and skills. You can even find the good in hard times, such as seeing the kindness of others as you go through a loss.

Besides simply noticing useful or pleasurable thoughts, feelings, or sensations that are already present in your awareness, you could create beneficial experiences, such as by getting some exercise (to help build the resource of grit) or deliberately recognizing your own good heart (for confidence). Or you could make something good happen in a relationship, such as by listening carefully to someone (for intimacy).

Over time, you can learn to directly evoke a positive experience, such as relaxing at will, calling up a sense of determination, or letting go of resentment. Because of experience-dependent neuroplasticity, repeatedly having and internalizing a particular experience in the past makes it easier and easier to evoke it in the present. It’s like being able to push a button on your inner jukebox and quickly get the song of a useful experience playing in your mind, since you’ve recorded it again and again.

To grow the inner resources that produce resilient well-being, we must turn experiences of these resources into physical changes in the nervous system. Otherwise, by definition there is no healing, no growth, no development. Having an experience is only the first stage in the process of learning (including the emotional, social, and somatic learning I’m focused on here). The necessary second stage is to install that experience as a lasting change of neural structure or function. This is the stage that is routinely overlooked in psychotherapy, coaching, human resources trainings, and informal personal efforts at healing and growth. Therefore, this stage is where we have the greatest opportunity for steepening the learning curves of ourselves and others.

We can increase the installation of our beneficial experiences in two kinds of ways. First, we can enrich them, making them prominent and sustained in awareness. Second, we can absorb them by heightening the sensitivity of the nervous system. Here’s how.

2. Enrich it

There are five ways to enrich an experience:

  • Lengthen it. Stay with it for five, ten, or more seconds. The longer that neurons fire together, the more they tend to wire together. Protect the experience from distractions, focus on it, and come back to it if your mind wanders.
  • Intensify it. Open to it and let it be big in your mind. Turn up the volume by breathing more fully or getting a little excited.
  • Expand it. Notice other elements of the experience. For example, if you’re having a useful thought, look for related sensations or emotions.
  • Freshen it. The brain is a novelty detector, designed to learn from what’s new or unexpected. Look for what’s interesting or surprising about an experience. Imagine that you are having it for the very first time.
  • Value it. We learn from what is personally relevant. Be aware of why the experience is important to you, why it matters, and how it could help you.

Any one of these methods will increase the impact of an experience, and the more, the better. But you don’t have to use all of them every time. Often, you’ll simply stay with something for a breath or two while feeling it in your body, and then move on to the next experience.

3. Absorb it

You can increase the absorption of an experience in three ways:

  • Intend to receive it. Consciously choose to take in the experience.
  • Sense it sinking into you. You could imagine that the experience is like a warm, soothing balm or a jewel being placed in the treasure chest of your heart. Give over to it, allowing it to become a part of you.
  • Reward yourself. Tune into whatever is pleasurable, reassuring, helpful, or hopeful about the experience. Doing this will tend to increase the activity of two neurotransmitter systems—dopamine and norepinephrine—that will flag the experience as a “keeper” for long-term storage.

This is not about holding on to experiences. The stream of consciousness is constantly changing, so trying to cling to anything in it is both doomed and painful. But you can gently encourage whatever is beneficial to arise and stick around and sink in—even as you are letting go of it. Happiness is like a beautiful wild animal watching from the edge of a forest. If you try to grab it, it will run away. But if you sit by your campfire and add some sticks to it, happiness will come to you, and stay.

4. Link it

In Linking, you are simply conscious of both “negative” and “positive” material at the same time. For example, off to the side of awareness could be old feelings of being left out and unwanted (perhaps from a rocky childhood) while in the foreground of awareness are feelings of being liked and included by people at work. The brain naturally associates things together, so if you keep the positive material more prominent and intense in awareness, it will tend to soothe, ease, and even gradually replace the negative material.

It helps to use positive material that is matched in some way to the negative material. To identify the specific psychological resources that will be especially effective with particular issues, I use the framework of the three basic human needs.

For example, challenges to safety are often indicated by a sense of anxiety, anger, powerlessness, or trauma—and a sense of calm or grit can really help with these. Challenges to our need for satisfaction are frequently experienced as frustration, disappointment, drivenness, addiction, blahness, or boredom. Feeling thankful, awestruck, or already contented are well-matched to these issues. Challenges to connection can be experienced as loneliness, resentment, or inadequacy—and feeling either caring or cared about is a wonderful relief, since love is love whether it is flowing in or out.

To link, you can start with something positive, such as the sense of a key resource. While having that experience, you can bring to mind some negative material for which it would be good medicine. Or, you can start with something that is uncomfortable, stressful, or harmful, such as a lot of anxiety before giving a presentation. After letting your feelings be as long as you like and then letting go of them, you find positive material to replace what you released, such as a sense of calm from knowing that people are actually interested in hearing what you have to say.

If you get pulled into the negative, drop it and focus only on the positive. And remember that this step is optional: If the challenge you’re facing is too powerful, you can grow mental resources for addressing it through the first three HEAL steps alone.

A core of happiness

Going on a dangerous hike, we know that we need to bring food and other supplies. The same is true when traveling the road of life. We need psychological supplies, such as courage and generosity, in our neural “backpack.”

To fill up your backpack, be mindful of which particular need—safety, satisfaction, or connection—is at stake in the challenges of your life. Deliberately call upon your inner strengths related to meeting that need. Then, as you experience mental resources, you can reinforce them in your nervous system.

As you grow these strengths and become more resilient, you will feel less anxiety and irritation, less disappointment and frustration, and less loneliness, hurt, and resentment. And when the waves of life come at you, you’ll meet them with more peace, contentment, and love in the core of your being.

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“How to Hardwire Resilience into Your Brain

A share….

The Dumpster: by Meredith Sabini

by Meredith Sabini, Dec 5, 2007

 

 

     “We can’t use these. They look like heirlooms!” Gina, a guest at my holiday gathering, holds up one of the elaborately embroidered napkins from the buffet table. “Where’d you get them?”
“Out of a dumpster. The tablecloth and those candleholders were in there, too.”
“You can’t be serious! Why would they be in a dumpster?” The shock in her voice carried across the room, and others looked up.
It’s common that women ask where something came from, especially if it’s an attractive article of clothing or new addition to the house. But to name a dumpster as the source of anything, especially an object of beauty, is completely unexpected.
My explanation created an atmosphere of mystery. The tale was so unlikely that later my friends joked that perhaps I’d dreamed it.
The red napkin, tablecloth, and candlesticks all belonged to Mrs. Cybulski (not her real name), a widow who had lived down the street as long as I’d been in the neighborhood, about twenty years.
Except to water her yard, she didn’t go out much. And when she did, she stayed near the house, as if the tether fastening her to life had retracted, pulling her toward an eternal home.
One day, I noticed a full-size dumpster in front of her bungalow. I assumed it was for yard debris or trash from some renovation project. But soon strangers appeared. On my daily walk, I could see them scurrying around the property. A boy about twelve sat on the porch, looking morose. His expression evoked a twinge of anxiety in me that perhaps Mrs. Cy had died.
I called over haltingly, “Is she gone?”
“Yeah, she passed.” It was hard to tell whether he was upset at losing kin or just sulky at having to help with an unpleasant task.
Through the large plate glass window I could see a woman balancing stemware between her fingers. A man about forty emerged from the back door, his arms piled high with what appeared to be bedding. I waited nearby to see if he was really going to deposit it in the dumpster.
Reluctant to intrude yet curious, I introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Meredith, a neighbor down the street. Sorry to hear about Mrs. Cybulski. Was she your grandmother?”
“Great aunt. Ninety-one. Had a good life,” he said, and proceeded towards the dumpster, our conversation apparently over. He placed the neatly folded sheets and blankets down carefully, as if this were now the room in which they would be kept. I’d seen dumpsters full of discards of all kinds, but never one like this, packed like a trunk for an ocean voyage.
I stood fixed to the spot, bewildered by the odd juxtaposition of sudden death and business-like calm. The nephew soon appeared with the next batch, which he stacked on top of the previous one in the same perfunctory manner. Considering his lack of feeling, I figured I could peer into the dumpster without offending anyone. A wooden daybed, surrounded by perfectly decent household items, was pushed up against one side as if, at any moment, someone was going to recline there with a book for an afternoon read.
I dislike seeing things go to waste and the daybed was just the ticket for my guestroom; the old upholstery could easily be replaced. But asking to save something from the newly departed seemed crude. Was this merely social propriety, or a primordial instinct out of which taboos arise? If the nephew wasn’t especially grieved by his aunt’s death, perhaps he wouldn’t be upset by my request to salvage a motley piece of furniture. Hesitantly, I ventured, “I wonder if I could offer to purchase that daybed from you, if you’re planning to get rid of it?”
“No, but take it. You can have it.” He marched past me without looking, without missing a beat. And I walked inside my first dumpster.
I’ve been to archaeological sites, know the sun-bleached whiteness of bone, the tea-colored stains left by earth. Here, no layers of soil obscured the find. To get to the daybed, I had only to move the piles of bedding. Her hall closet must now be empty, for here were ironed sheets, blankets, table linen, and the kind of embroidered and crocheted cloths that are found in old women’s attics. When I saw these, my own mourning resumed.
Evenings at my grandmother’s had been spent with the two of us huddled together on the divan, working needles of colored thread through squares of muslin, as she taught me how to give shape to the birds and flowers we ironed onto future kitchen towels. The few I have left are like gold to me. My grandmother and Mrs. Cy were of the same generation.
When our grandparents died, my brother and I had to deal with their belongings. It was the late ’70s, a time when the perennial battle between spirit and matter was once again inflamed. Caving in to the pressure not to be attached to things or hold onto the past, we gave away too much and sold the rest for a song. Objects imbued with our ancestors’ mana slipped through our fingers, going to strangers who cared not for their spirit but only their matter.
Into the dumpster were going similar artifacts of a lifetime. I didn’t know Mrs. Cy well but this desecration had to stop. I had recently taken a religious vow of voluntary simplicity and was deeply committed to reducing my over-consumption by keeping existing goods in circulation and tending them with care. I could not stand by and watch while usable things went to molder in landfill. The nephew was headed in my direction with another load and I decided to press my luck.
“Are these linens and bedding going too? I would be glad to give you something for them as well.” I pointed to a stack at the foot of the daybed.
“Oh, I guess you can have them. But I would make sure they get laundered.”
Was it her death that contaminated them, or her life? Trying not to sound snide, I assured him I would wash everything, and began stacking the linens atop the daybed. Among them were an old-fashioned lace coverlet, a fine damask tablecloth with a dozen matching napkins in their original box, and pure cotton sheets with laundry tags at the corners. Laundering did not seem to be the issue.
After setting aside these things, I walked home to get my truck. When I came back, neither the man nor his son looked up, much less offered to help. I dragged out the daybed. Metal springs and horsehair filling made it heavy, but, with leverage, I managed to hoist it onto the flatbed. I decided that I would return for the rest after the relatives had left.
By five o’clock their car was gone. I pulled open the huge doors of the dumpster. I was stunned. It looked as if Mrs. Cy’s entire household had been packed inside. Perched at the top was a faded green Chesterfield. I would not have been surprised to see Mrs. Cy’s angry ghost hovering just above it.
Dressed for this venture in jeans and work boots, I approached with an apprehension that went beyond social propriety or legal concerns. What had happened to Carter when he first opened King Tut’s tomb? Didn’t he die soon thereafter?
The dumpster was full. Between strata of useless items, treasures emerged: several tiny            Indian baskets, a lovely handmade cotton quilt in yellows and greens, a pair of tin folk-art wall sconces, an antique brass lamp with a fluted glass shade, circa 1930, a huge red tablecloth emblazoned with white stitching. Dainty tea towels appliquéd with delicate purple flowers. And kitchenware of every type, as if all the drawers had been simply turned upside down. Lawn clippings. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a ziplock bag, white bread still springy.
I lost track of time in this coffin-world. From the position of the sun, it looked to be early evening. I was tired. My hunting and gathering had been bountiful. My truck clanked with its cargo of fireplace tools, a chaise lounge, a Jade plant in a glazed Chinese pot.
The next morning I went back. As I climbed atop the pile, a planter box tipped over, spilling fine dark soil on Mrs. Cy’s navy wool coat. Nature’s pull to compost was strong; I paddled against its tide. A jar of strawberry jam fell out of a damp cardboard box and broke open, adding stickiness to the task. A peculiar magic associated with life’s passing demonstrated itself, as contents that had been securely bound and held as long as their owner drew breath began to give way.
More treasures emerged from the massa confusa: red napkins to match the tablecloth unearthed yesterday—the napkin Gina held up; a small cut-glass bowl on a sterling silver base; a garment bag containing fancy cotton dresses and petticoats dating to 1910 or 1915; a small box carved out of a walnut burl. Then, from a nondescript shopping bag, the most astonishing find: a satin cloche hat beaded with pearls and two antique silk shawls, one champagne-colored with long fringe, the other deep rose.
As I handled these, tears welled up at their beauty, and their abandonment. Were these items part of her wedding trousseau from the old country? By shoving them into the bag, had the nephew or his wife turned their backs on the family heritage, the way my mother and father also turned away from their old world backgrounds?
Mrs. Cy’s shawls, pearl hat, and antique dresses would go into my grandmother’s cedar chest alongside her dishtowels and my other grandma’s black lace mantilla. The heritage of womanhood resides in heirlooms like these, saved for special occasions and stored where the bright light of day can’t dull their radiance. The threads of these garments touch the flesh of one generation, then another, and the next, weaving life’s warp and weft.
Mrs. Cybulski’s things took up residence in my house. The tin sconces were hung above the fireplace, the quilt went on a wall to brighten a room. The brass lamp shed its years of oxidation, the burled walnut box drank up lemon oil. I did wash all the linens and blankets, not to rid them of any lingering odor of death, but to honor them with freshening. When this rite of renewal was completed, I lit the candles in the sconces and said a prayer for Mrs. Cy. I wished her well on her journey and thanked her for this unexpected beneficence. I apologized for disturbing her relatives and hoped she’d understand.
Certain events do resemble dreams. They are like a pebble that falls into a lake, the ripples slowly spreading until the entire body of water registers its impact. Or a bracken fern, tight and compact when it first pokes up above the ground, later uncurling to great width. And so it has been with my encounter with the dumpster parked down the block many years ago. It still ripples throughout my life like a dream unfolding in all directions around a central stalk.
My ancestors also were first-generation immigrants, who arrived in this country with only what they could carry. The little they came to own was theirs for a lifetime. Anything that broke was repaired; chairs and sofas re-covered, tables refinished. Objects did not come and go but remained stable, adding to the stability of the world. What I have of theirs contributes to the weight of my being.
It is common these days to lament how materialistic we have become, but I do not believe this is accurate. It seems to me that we have not yet begun to value matter. Much that is made today is not intended to last and cannot be repaired. Mana is unable to fill our possessions. Lacking substance, they cannot become proper vessels for spirit. We may ask where objects come from, but they no longer have stories to tell. They too have lost their roots. How, then, are we to leave tangible mementoes of ourselves when we go? What will be left to caress?
A share….

Happiness and Resilience

Just dropping in for a few moments from my writing hiatus while I’m writing “Please Don’t Die” , my suicide prevention book.

The nice thing about writing, once you get past some of the difficult parts, is the research that you do.  Because I’m busy writing the intervention and prevention section of the book, the most important part, I am coming up with new concepts and understandings and I wanted to share some with you.  Sometimes the ideas are similar to ones you’ve heard before, but when you’re able to conceptualize new thoughts in new ways, you can get that aha moment.  I’ve certainly learned a few new things I want to share with you.

I’m currently reading the Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte.  This is very well written and recommended.  I know you will like the self testing part about how resilient you are and learning about how to grow this personal characteristic to help you cope with all of life’s stressors.   But for now, here’s a little bit I have found very useful because it’s alot of information in a very few words.  So take your time, and go back and think about how important all of these things actually are, and how they impact your functioning every day, and your view about how good or bad your life is.

First, it’s the notion of our internal narrative.  When you listen to your narrative, is the basis of your happiness internal or external?  Yes, we all get upset when we get a flat tire,  I’m not referring to that. I’m referring to how you see yourself in the world.  Do you see yourself as in control of your happiness?  Or do you see the world as in control?  If you don’t get that you’re the one that has to control your happiness, and make your own happiness, then you will never be happy.  That’s essential step one.

A step two, is to examine three important things in your life: your behavior, your emotions, and your attention.  Only when you have control of these three things can you find happiness. These are the three things you have to pay attention to day to day. If you’re in a mental place where your brain is all over, you have to do something to improve your attention control. If you have ADD, get it treated. If you have anxiety, find out how to self calm.  If you practice Mindfulness, you will make amazing strides to accomplish all three.  Yoga is a way to practice Mindfulness. YouTube has tons of free videos.  Insight Timer is a phone Ap and using this choose the headphone pic at the bottom of the screen to access thousands of free audios that will talk you through Mindfulness applications. It takes 5 minutes a day. You can do it at bedtime and it will help you sleep, will grow your brain grey matter, and will form new brain connections that will help you self calm when you feel out of control.

You know those people who describe themselves as a “hot mess”?  Those people have none of these things, they’re reacting to external situations like a ping pong ball.  It’s extremely painful.  You have to calm down first before you can figure out how to tackle all the stuff.  Everyone has 5 minutes. You have the power.

Happiness and Resilience

“When Someone Threw Coffee on my Face –by Mia Tagano, syndicated from servicespace.org, Feb 17, 2018”

Tonight, I went to see a play by, and full with, women I consider fierce.

En route, a car seemed to purposely cut me off, almost causing me to hit it. I was a bit in shock and angry both.”I turned my bright lights on him and I drove right behind him. At the next stop light, I pulled up beside him. He was angry, and seemed to shout profanities at me.

I rolled down my window and said, “Really? You’re mad at me when YOU cut me off?!”

He retorted, “YES!” And then threw what I think was his coffee grande (with cream) in my face!

It covered my face, my car and my steering wheel. Thankfully, it was cold.

I didn’t know what to do but I was angry and tired and not feeling 100%, so I followed behind him with my bright lights on.

I called 911 to report an assault by a taxi driver. A very nice and calm operator answered. She told me not to follow him since I could get hurt. I asked her what the procedure was, what would happen. She told me to give her the license plate number and type of car, and they would follow up.

Something in me re-thought the whole thing. I told the 911 operator that I changed my mind. I did not want the police involved after all. “I am fine,” I told her before hanging up.

The car turned down an alley quickly, trying to lose me, but I followed persistently.

I had no plan.

The car pulled over to the right, a youngish man got out of his car. He didn’t look so mean or scary actually — more sad, really. I sensed I didn’t have to worry and I wasn’t afraid.

I pulled over to the left side ahead of him and got out of my car. I shouted at him, “Really?! You are going to throw your coffee on me?” He tried to reason with me as he was approaching.

“Stay back,” I yelled out. “I won’t hurt you,” he replied. I could tell that he meant it. I started to sob. He was walking toward me, kindly.

“Please don’t cry,” he said. “I should not have thrown my ice coffee on you. You flipped me off and that made me angry. This is my second job today, I am just delivering pizzas — that’s what I do. I am in a rush, like everyone else.”

“This is not who I am. I am not this guy,” he added.

“I believe you,” I said.

“And, I am not someone who flips people off usually. I am sorry,” I say through my tears.

“It has been a hard day. I am not a bad guy,” he says. “I am not a bad woman. I am sorry, too. This is not my way,” I say. “It is not my way either,” he says.

“Please wait here,” he says as he goes back to his car to get a towel. He also brought a bottle of water. “Please drink,” he says, “It will make you feel better.” Then, he proceeded to clean my jacket and my car.

“This is not who I am,” he repeats. “I have a son, I am working two jobs, I am just trying to do my best. I am not this person you think I am.”

“I am not this person either,” I say.

As if to start over, I ask, “My name is Mia. What is your name?” “Mohammed.” “I am sorry this happened, Mohammed.” “Me too,” he says.

We both hugged, apologizing to each other. These are turbulent times for our world. “I don’t want to add to the darkness,” I tell him. “Me too,” he says.

We hugged again. Both crying. “Keep your son safe,” I say. “Thank you. You stay safe too.”

One last time, we both apologized, hugged, shook hands and parted ways.


Mia Tagano is a vocal coach, actor and ServiceSpace volunteer based in the Bay Area. She’s toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed in scores of stage productions in the United States. Her dedication towards her 96-year-old grandmother has touched many across the world. Read more about her inspiring journey here. 

“When Someone Threw Coffee on my Face –by Mia Tagano, syndicated from servicespace.org, Feb 17, 2018”