Sunday, December 29, 2013

rock skate bounce roll

“Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.” 

with the winter holidays in full swing and the end of near nigh, i am confronted with the reality of having lost inspiration with an effort that has been going for about 5 years now. i got to provide energy which became instrumental in forming a peer-led organization that meant to address stigma for people living with hiv- head on. i started a newsletter that has been published quarterly for all those years- being placed in clinics around the state showing newly diagnosed individuals that living with hiv was not only possible but both practical and profitable- ergo one can live a much more enjoyable and well-rounded life with good health and steady income-additionally one can learn about living with hiv by working with others who are struggling.

somewhere along the way, i became disenchanted with the federal and state systems that are funded to provide services for hiv positive individuals. other than the 1st issue of this newsletter, there has only been 1 offer of financial assistance to this publication-(although a link to our site is provided on their website) and this was never followed up on, nor were we given the courtesy of a phone call to explain why. the city receives over 6M annually to serve persons living with HIV and not only did a peer publication never receive funding, getting any information to use for publication was like pulling impacted teeth. However, there is plenty of energy to squabble internally amongst the city hiv office and the planning council to hold up the funds for 2013 by cancelling all  monthly scheduled public meetings and involving federal representations to help settle internal disputes- with all of this disagreement and discord being about personalities and not policies. 

so not only do persons living under the poverty level have no visible and emotionally present representation, those living on the fringe and the outskirts of metropolitan areas continue to not receive copies of our newsletters because the city and the state don't deem it important while annually thousands of dollars are spent educating new case managers and providers most of whom are on a turnstile with their careers and hiv is simply a stop. can you feel my frustration here that those who will be living with hiv for the rest of their journey here are passed up to throw education and support to those who are just passing through (and already earn a paycheck)? GRRRRRRR
i find myself tired of this incongruity. i am well aware of hypocrisy and i am certain i have my own. but the audacity of the hiv office's disregard for the spirit of its general mission has turned into a toad.

beyond this is our organization. with the onset of successful treatment modalities and the transition towards the american care act, most of the underprivileged people with hiv will qualify for medicaid and not need the array of special services. our mission to normalize living with a health condition becomes prime for transition as well. since i have been working in substance abuse field for almost a decade now, i find that hiv is no longer the issue it was in our community. yes way too many gay men (and others) are being diagnosed. but this is not the problem as i see it. hiv diagnoses are just a symptom of the problem- mental health and substance abuse. but this is not something we as a community (or culture) are ready to begin discussing with compassion and objectivity. 

this is my frustration at the end of 2013 and one of the flags i will be waving in the years to come. i am more interested in beginning conversations about self-care, mental health, and shame-based trauma. yes safe sex conversations are appropriate, but healthy boundaries and saying "no" to one's self hold more intrigue for me now. in looking up quotes to place under my 70's roller skating photo for this post, i realize that although i am no longer impassioned by the last 5 years, i am certainly grateful for them.  i don't know if i will leave our hiv organization, but i have to find different involvement and feel strongly that its mission needs to modify drastically in order to even strive to be relevant. 

if i am honest, part of my passion comes through creating change and developing processes. it sounds so geeky, (prolly is), but that's the truth. i have been able to be involved in creating change in my community, albeit small, and that has been a complete blessing.  and i hope for more blessings in my life and in yours.

i wanted some old school today- this is an unknown mix with a couple of crash-y edits, but i do like the 70's vibe. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

holiday musing and darkside -live in paris

Charles Dickens

i simply want to wish any and all of my readers a festive holiday season. i continue to receive the benefits of making change in my life through my moods and my experience. my self-respect grows, and my ability to care for others increases with the practice i put into it. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

festival of light

i thought i would just share some short stories that have the winter solstice as a theme. somehow it has never really occurred to me until now, just how dark these last few weeks in december are and how important and affective the symbolic lighting of the trees and the bringiing in the light of stories and fables about the best in us- the kindness in us, and the giving qualities that almost all of us possess- when we are giving we are far less likely to be dwelling on other emotions. 

The Story of Santa Lucia

(There are several versions of the story of Lucia but this is a nice one!)

Lucia was an Italian girl, born in Sicily in the 3rd century A.D. It was a time when the Romans were persecuting Christians, and Lucia's family was Christian. When her father died, Lucia vowed to remain unmarried and to serve God, but since she didn't tell anyone about this vow, her widowed mother went ahead and promised her in marriage to a suitor who was not a Christian. Lucia said no thanks, I'd rather be an old maid, and she proceeded to give her dowry away to the poor. The young man's pride was severely injured, so he reported Lucia to the Roman authorities and she was tried and convicted of being a Christian. The judge decided that a suitable punishment for a woman who wanted to remain chaste was to be sold into slavery - to a brothel. But when the soldiers came to take her away, they were unable to move her! Rather than being awed by this, they proceeded to pour oil over her and set her on fire. The oil burned - Lucia did not! Still unimpressed, the soldiers beat and tortured her and tried to get her to deny her Christian faith, but she refused. So they stuck a sword into her throat and that did kill her. She died a martyr's death on December 13, 304 A.D. For her faithfulness, she was made a saint. 
How did a Sicilian saint become a part of Swedish tradition? Legend has it that back in the Middle Ages, the Swedish province of Varmland was experiencing a terrible famine and people were starving to death. On the longest night of the shortest day of the year - which also happened to be St. Lucia's Day, December 13th - a light suddenly appeared on Lake Vanern. It was a large white boat filled with food, and at the helm was a beautiful young woman in a white gown wearing a crown of lights. Lucia had come to rescue the Swedes! As soon as the ship was unloaded, it disappeared.
Swedish custom is that on Santa Lucia Day, mother and children get up very early in the morning to make the traditional Lussekatter (rolls made with saffron) and Luciapepparkakor (ginger cookies). The oldest daughter portrays Lucia dressed in a long white robe with a red sash with a crown of lit candles on her head. She carries the tray of food as she leads the procession of mother and the other children who sing the traditional Santa Lucia song as they march to the father's room. 
Traditionally, the winner of the Noble Prize in Literature has the supreme honor of crowning Stockholm's Santa Lucia. Traditionally, miracles can happen at midnight on the eve of St. Lucia's Day and animal may talk. Traditionally, the cook buries the lutefisk in beech ashes on St. Lucia's Day. You don't have to be Swedish to celebrate Santa Lucia - Lucia wasn't a Swede! Välkommen! Varsågod!


There is a story about a princess who had a small eye problem that she felt was really bad. Being the king's daughter, she was rather spoiled and kept crying all the time. When the doctors wanted to apply medicine, she would invariably refuse any medical treatment and kept touching the sore spot on her eye. In this way it became worse and worse, until finally the king proclaimed a large reward for whoever could cure his daughter. After some time, a man arrived who claimed to be a famous physician, but actually was not even a doctor.

He declared that he could definitely cure the princess and was admitted to her chamber. After he had examined her, he exclaimed, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" "What is it?" the princess inquired. The doctor said, "There is nothing much wrong with your eye, but there is something else that is really serious." The princess was alarmed and asked, "What on earth is so serious?" He hesitated and said, "It is really bad. I shouldn't tell you about it." No matter how much she insisted, he refused to tell her, saying that he could not speak without the king's permission.

When the king arrived, the doctor was still reluctant to reveal his findings. Finally the king commanded, "Tell us what is wrong. Whatever it is, you have to tell us!" At last the doctor said, "Well, the eye will get better within a few days - that is no problem. The big problem is that the princess will grow a tail, which will become at least nine fathoms long. It may start growing very soon. If she can detect the first moment it appears, I might be able to prevent it from growing." At this news everyone was deeply concerned. And the princess, what did she do? She stayed in bed, day and night, directing all her attention to detecting when the tail might appear. Thus, after a few days, her eye got well.

This shows how we usually react. We focus on our little problem and it becomes the center around which everything else revolves. So far, we have done this repeatedly, life after life. We think, "My wishes, my interests, my likes and dislikes come first!" As long as we function on this basis, we will remain unchanged. Driven by impulses of desire and rejection, we will travel the roads of samsara without finding a way out. As long as attachment and aversion are our sources of living and drive us onward, we cannot rest.

Monday, December 9, 2013

i'm bustin' out

Well, not just one wish. A whole hatful, Mary. I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here and go to college and see what they know… And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long..... George Bailey (It's A Wonderful Life)

as the year comes to a close and fb has launched it's "2013 year in review", i am flooded with an odd sense of almost urgency. i have walked through a couple of dreams coming to life. i have felt the immense reassurance from the universe that some of me indeed makes sense. i have witnessed change happening in peoples' lives that have been as breathtaking as watching pink or orange sunrises.

i vowed last year to make room for love in my life. somehow i have managed to do this. i intend to grow this intention in my life and to expand it and to be more specific. i watched as part of my world seemed to fall apart and i did what i always do, but i also found the where-with-all to lean into the destruction and try to glean something from it. this last bit is a definite sign of progress for me.

i am excited for the chance to let go a bit more. i have been holding on to some invisible side rail feeling as if i could be knocked over at any moment- also with a deeper feeling that maybe i didn't deserve to be carefree. this year has swept in change with regard to this. i am grateful for this and i am both nervous and excited to change even more.

as i review my year, again i am amazed at the ninth step promises coming true in my life. perfection has not been reached, nor will it ever be- but a global shift has taken place in my world. it feels really wonderful and i want to examine it more closely. happy holidays.
The choice is ours...
Do we want more of what brought us to AA ...

We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people—was not a basic solution of these bedevilments more important ... ?
3rd ed. Big Book pg. 52 

... or do we want what practicing the principles of AA promises?

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

3rd ed. Big Book pg. 83 & 84