Rumi’s Words in My Head


Wake and Walk Out 

–Rumi

 

If I flinched at every grief, I

would be an intelligent idiot. If

 

I were not the sun, I’d ebb and

flow like sadness.  If you were not

 

my guide, I’d wander lost in Sanai.

If there were no light, I’d keep

 

opening and closing the door.  If

there were no rose garden, where

 

would the morning breezes go?  If

love did not want music and laughter

 

and poetry, what would I say?  If

you were not medicine, I would look

 

sick and skinny.  If there were no

leafy limbs in the air, there would

 

be no wet roots.  If no gifts were

given, I’d grow arrogant and cruel.

 

If there were no way into God, I

would not have lain in the grave of

 

this body so long.  If there were no

way from left to right, I could not

 

be swaying in the grasses.  If

there were no grace and no kindness,

 

conversation would be useless, and

nothing we do would matter.  Listen

 

to the new stories that begin every

day.  If light were not beginning

 

again in the east, I would not now

wake and walk out inside the dawn

 

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Form is Ecstatic

–Rumi

There is a shimmering excitement in

being sentient and shaped.  The

 

caravan masters sees his camels lost

in it, nose to tail, as he himself is,

 

his friend, and the stranger coming

toward them.  A gardener watches the

 

sky break into song, cloud wobbly with

what it is.  Bud, thorn, the same.

 

Wind, water, wandering this essential

state.  Fire, ground, gone.  That’s

 

how it is with the outside.  Form

it ecstatic.  Now imagine the inner:

 

soul, intelligence, the secret worlds!

And don’t think the garden loses its

 

ecstacy in the winter.  It’s quiet, but

the roots down there riotous.

 

If someone bumps you in the street,

don’t be angry.  Everyone careens

 

shout in this surprise.  Respond in

kind.  Let the knots untie, turbans

 

be given away.  Someone drunk on this

could drink a donkeyload a night.

 

Believer, unbeliever, cynic, lover,

all combine in the spirit-form we are.

 

but no one yet is awake like Shams.

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I was at the hospital today, visiting my friend who is recovering from the surgeries well, but she still has Stage 4 cancer. And I could hear Rumi putting words in my head, and I could feel his energy and his reminder that his religion is Love, and our religion is Love, no matter what path you follow.  The ecstasy in the path of Love can help you get through the trying times and sometimes in the devastating times.   When the going is the toughest, it’s good to remember that the God is Love, Lover and Beloved, and nothing else can be all three.

It is One Thing to Believe in Sacrifices


It is one thing to believe in sacrifices, it is quite another to live with them. In the sixties, we didn’t get that and when guys came home from the Vietnam War, we ignored them or yelled at them. We wanted to make them feel ashamed for fighting what we perceived as an illegal war. It  was illegal, but that wasn’t the fault of the soldiers or us, the government will forever carry the responsibility. It took me and many others a long time to get it.

 

My ah-ha moment was on a date. He was a Vietnam veteran. He was the only military person I ever dated. We were watching China Beach. I always watched China Beach. He asked me if I would let him tell me about his experience in Vietnam. No, was what I wanted to say, But, something made me say Ok. Not enthusiastic, but I committed myself and I sat and listened. I will not repeat his experiences out of respect for him. Three hours, many tears and a bit of shock later I wished I didn’t know. He had never told his story before but it was his truth. It was not a pretty story, but it was reality and I suddenly realized that not supporting the veterans accomplished nothing. The government was the villain and we had missed the point.

 

I have been to the Vietnam War Memorial erected in Washington, D.C. I ran my finger tips over the thousands of names etched into the stone. There were memorials and small tokens everywhere. A mom was holding a little boy who was touching a name and she was talking, I assume, about that soldier.

 

The Iraqi war was illegal. He lied to America and took advantage of the fear that spread through America after we were attacked on 9-11. There were no weapons of mass destruction and we sent so many of our youth to fight in Iraq. One young man was close to me and he was injured. The Army couldn’t actually find him for awhile. He was in Germany and he was having his hand treated.

 

Now, I look around at the severity of injuries that our young men and women have suffered and I am sickened. Why do we always resort to violence and war? We don’t need to. We need to show compassion, acceptance, gratitude, love, kindness. War never fixes anything. It just increases the level of violence. This violence is causing severe head injuries, the loss of arms and / or legs. The loss of dreams and abilities. Severe mental issues such as PTSD and many other mental problems.

 

Wounded Warrior Project and the other groups working to assist veterans and their families are doing important work. So today is Veteran’s Day and I want to say thank you to all vets, male and female. Though I continue to wish that there would be an end to war, thank you for what you have given to America and those of us who live here. Your bravery is an amazing thing to see.

 

Someday, I hope we will no longer need these terrible sacrifices on the part of our young people, our future. One day there will not be wars. Diplomacy will reign and calm, logical and rational thinking will replace greed and power hungry people.

 

So, veterans, Thank you for your sacrifices. I am sorry you had to sacrifice all that you did.

 

 

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Flag unfurled by vets

Flag unfurled by Americans

 

Veteran's Day run held in various places around the country.

Veteran’s Day run held in various places around the country.

 

You have our support

You have our support

 

 

For All My Artists…and You are ALL Artists…


It’s happened to every one of us — we present something we’ve created to someone whose opinion matters to us and hear “that’s not very good” or “oh.  That’s nice” in the condescending voice we all know and hate to so much.

 

I’ve found another Ted Talk by David Kelley about the process of being creative, even after we’ve been told we’re not.
Please keep it in mind the next time you’re told something that tries to shut your creativity down.  Because we are all creative, in our own ways.  Every single one of us.

 

Including you.

 

Namaste,

Barbara

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Is Gratitude Trivial?


I saw the Neurologist this morning. We had an unusual conversation. We talked about gratitude. I learned some interesting facts. Most of our conversation was taking place around the concepts of past, present and future. They are doing more and more research on the way the mind works.

 

I think this is a very important direction for neurology  to go into. So little is really known about how our minds work. How do each of us learn best?  How do we survive trauma and violence? What can we learn about how to deal with mental illness and the part it plays in violence in our world? Why are some people drawn to violence and some completely repulsed.

 

They know some victims of violence, have a brain that rewrites itself. It goes around the areas damaged by the pain, trauma and fear in the past. But do they all rewrite the same? Probably not, because some abused children become serial killers and some are good citizens who care about others.

 

Writing is one thing that scientists suggest as a way to deal with the traumas in our lives. When you sit down to write and put pen to paper, what comes out is the real truth and sometimes what we aren’t aware of on a conscious level. Free writing is putting pen to paper and just write without stopping. Write for thirty minutes. If you hit a block, write stuck, stuck, stuck until the words begin to flow again.

 

Scientists are doing case studies about going back to basics. To start at the very beginning. To go into a meditative state. Breathe in and out slowly and put your awareness on how the breath flows, how your heart is beating and how your lungs are taking in air and pushing used air out. As you finish the outbreath and are beginning to take your next in breath say thank you with an open heart. The thank you is for the fact that your body works. There may be parts that are not working right, but the basics work. Your body will take you where you need to go. Even if it constantly hurts, it is still working and you are here. So thank you is all that is required from you. It is pretty easy, yet it effects your mind and how your subconscious works.

 

The subconscious mind lets go of pain, trauma and fear. The future becomes brighter and manageable. The scientists have determined that chromosomes elongate and we begin to feel younger. I don’t think any of us would mind feeling younger.

Namaste to everyone.

 

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Feeling a little bit younger is good.

Feeling a little bit younger is good.

 

 

Prejudice Takes Many Forms


Fueled by Superstition, People Are Violently Attacking Albinos in Tanzania

By Samuel Oakford originally posted at Vice.com

 fueled-by-superstition-people-are-violently-attacking-albinos-in-tanzania-1409177333

 

August 27, 2014 | 6:15 pm

In the past month, a spate of violent attacks in Tanzania targeting people with albinism for their body parts has highlighted a morbid practice linked to witchcraft.

People with albinism, also known as albinos, are born with a deficiency of melanin pigmentation. Those with a complete lack of pigmentation have extremely pale skin and hair, and their eyes are typically a light shade of blue. The condition generally results from recessive genes carried by parents. Albinism in Africa brings with it an increased chance of developing fatal skin cancer, and the lack of pigment to protect eyes against the bright sun can cause sight problems.

Africans with the condition can suffer alienating social stigma in communities where their neighbors and relatives believe them to be ghosts, cursed, or intellectually incapacitated. In some regions, they face a near-constant threat of violence.

UN officials and rights groups reported at least five assaults on albinos that occurred in Tanzania in less than two weeks in August.

On August 5, three men armed with machetes hacked a 15-year-old girl’s right arm off below the elbow in the western region of Tabora. Her family was threatened with death and could not scream for help. Later that day, the assailants targeted her uncle, who also has albinism, though he was able to escape.

The three men were eventually arrested, including a local witch doctor who informed authorities that they had amputated her arm because buyers were willing to pay as much as $600 dollars for it.

On August 14, the mutilated body of a young albino man was found lying in a swampy area in the outskirts of Dar es Salam. Pictures of the victim shared on social media showed that a large patch of skin had been excised from his torso and a hole bored into his abdomen.

Two days later, a pair of men attacked a 35-year-old woman with albinism in a small village in Tabora. They killed her husband for attempting to defend her before severing the lower portion of her left arm and fleeing.

‘The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling.’

Though these acts of mutilation are widely abhorred and spiritual practices in the region vary greatly, in isolated areas with little access to medical information it is still believed that the body parts of people with albinism can impart mystical or magical benefits.

“In sub-Saharan Africa there’s a significant belief in witchcraft, which often involves the use of body parts,” Peter Ash, who heads the albinism-rights group Under the Same Sun, told VICE News. “That’s been the case in the region for a long time, well before colonization. It’s part of a deep-seated cultural, historical, and spiritual practice.”

In parts of the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa, UN officials have seen reports of gold miners using amulets made of the bones of albinos to enhance their luck, and of fishermen weaving their hair into nets to ensure a large catch.

Since 1998, Under the Same Sun has documented 332 attacks on people with albinism in 24 African countries, including 147 in Tanzania alone. Ash said that the reported figures are only a fraction of the assaults actually taking place across the continent. Most incidents occur in rural areas, where they sometimes go unreported and are rarely investigated.

In many parts of Africa, albinism occurs at higher rates than in much of the world. In Tanzania, one in 1,400 people have the disorder — roughly 35,000 people nationwide. Globally, the rate is generally one in 20,000.

With limbs regularly selling for hundreds of dollars and entire bodies reportedly costing up to $75,000 in a country where the median annual income is less than $600, there is a widespread assumption in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa that members of the business and political elite are behind the demand. A rise in attacks has been documented in several countries ahead of elections, when candidates have reportedly employed witch doctors to increase their likelihood of victory.

“Witch doctors have long been influential in many communities, but now they’re trying to make a buck, rather than just being elder and respected practitioners,” Ash said. “Now they’re entrepreneurs.”

‘They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education. It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.’

Though Tanzania — where 93 percent of Christians and Muslims say they believe in witchcraft, according to a 2010 Pew Research report — is often portrayed as the epicenter of this grisly phenomenon, much of that perception stems from the presence in the country of non-governmental organizations like Under the Same Sun, which has an office with 20 employees who can be dispatched to document crimes.

After a 2008 BBC report on the Tanzanian trade in body parts horrified the international community, activists began paying closer attention to the plight of albinos in the country. But while closer observation has seen a greater reporting of incidents in Tanzania, the same cannot be said of the rest of Africa, where freedom of the press is weak and rates of violence against albinos remains for the most part unknown.

Because neighbors and relatives are often involved in attacks on people with albinism, police face obstacles even when they are willing to investigate. Families often bury deceased albino relatives in unmarked graves out of fear that their body parts will be harvested even in death.

Amid the increase in attacks over recent years, Tanzania’s government has increasingly housed children with albinism in schools created for children with disabilities — an ostensibly protective measure that has lately prompted concerns of segregation.

“When it was proposed, it was an emergency measure, but it has now become a long-term solution,” Alicia Londono, a UN human rights official who recently returned from a visit to the country, told VICE News. “The conditions are very bad. Many of the children already have the early stages of skin cancer, and the staff is not trained to treat this disease.”

More than half of these schools now house albino children. Londono described them as “dumping places” where families leave unwanted progeny, and noted that children in these facilities face a risk of sexual and physical abuse.

“They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education,” she said. “It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.”

Ikponwosa Ero, a researcher from Nigeria who has albinism and works with Under the Same Sun, told VICE News that everyday life for children with the condition is immensely difficult.

“The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling,” she said. “Aside from physical attacks, the suffering that happens is beyond comprehension. The ejection from school, rejection from society. I wasn’t allowed to step outside at night without a relative, and I was always aware that attacks by ritualists was a possibility.”

Activists and UN officials believe that efforts to educate the public about albinism will help abate attacks on albinos and ensure that they have greater access to services and support — but Londono noted that it won’t be easy.

“Everyone from authorities who I met to the driver of my taxi referred to beliefs that are attached to the condition, that they are subhuman beings,” she said.

Follow Samuel Oakford on Twitter: @samueloakford

 

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The Human Family has degenerated to the point where education  has crumbled, and all over the world superstition and bigotry, meanness and paranoia, are what has replaced a good education for many people.

 

This story is horrifying because these children already have a serious health condition, and it leads them to develop melanoma because they live in Africa and their lack of coloring cannot adequately protect them.  That is the problem these children should have, but because of bigotry and superstition, fueled by ignorance, they are being hunted down and cannot live with their own families.  These children are aware of  other children who have the same physical condition who have been murdered for no other reason than that they are different.

 

All around the world, prejudice is growing and spreading like the deadly disease it is, but it is not spreading through the exchange of fluids or a bug bite — it is spreading because we ae not teaching our children tolerance and understanding.  We are teaching hatred and lies instead.

 

What are you doing to stop the spread?  Are you speaking up against bigotry?  Are you speaking up for education?  Act out and teach the people around you that Hate Is Not The Way.

 

 

The Women’s Revolution


Gloria Steinem was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last November. It is America’s highest honor for a civilian. Her work on behalf of women in the areas of equality and empowerment were the reasons for this prominent award. In her acceptance speech, she spoke about what remains to be done for women. She declared that there are still goals which need to be met. Ms. Steinem discussed equal valuing of women’s work, ending violence against women, recognizing reproductive freedom as a basic human right, and uprooting racism and sexism. This is a hefty list of goals. Comments of the GOP flow through my mind and I realize the enormity of this undertaking.

 

We also have some myths about feminism that we need to straighten out. One is that this movement, also called women’s liberation. womanism, mujerista, GRRLS, is only for white middle-class women. This is not true. I have black women friends who are feminists and women with less money, who are on fixed incomes and are involved with stopping this War on Women. A poll was conducted in 1972 by Louis Harris and Associates that revealed black women were almost twice as likely as white women to support these issues. Now I read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and became committed to the issues. Black women read Shirley Chisholm, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou.  These women  inspired the dream in black women. The idea that feminism was designed only for white middle-class claim was invented to turn off women. It negated their need for change.

 

The second myth is that those of us who worked, protested, marched, demonstrated, and lobbied in the 70’s and beyond have accomplished all that can be done for women. Young women felt that our work was done. Women could now relax.

 

The reality is, we still have much to do. We need to be legally equal. We are the only citizens who are not legally equal. Once we survived the backlash against equality, we still need to work to be socially and legally equal. President Obama has signed an equal pay for equal work legislation. While this was huge and we are grateful, women still do not receive equal pay for equal work. Please note we do not want more pay than men earn for the same work, we just want equitable pay.

 

We are also dealing with the fact that many women and children in the work are living in violent situations. Women are still being battered at about every nine seconds. I repeat, every nine seconds. Battering can be mental,emotional or physical abuse. Physical abuse can include slapping, kicking , pinching, punching, pulling hair, punching where clothes will cover the evidence. Being pushed and shoved is battering. Being threatened with a knife or gun is abuse. The numbers of women and children who are living in violence is staggering.

 

In the modern world, most other democratic nations have more women in government positions than America. It is still unusual for American women to be elected. The United States is a modern democracy, and yet, almost alone among such nations, we don’t have some form of a national child-care system. The average cost of child care here has surpassed the average cost of college tuition. If this continues, people will have to have less children in order to give them a chance in life.

 

A woman’s ability to decide when and whether to bear a child is not a “social issue”. It is a human right, like the right to free speech For the female half of the world reproductive freedom is the biggest economic issue. Women who have children to raise, are less likely to get hired and and to be well paid. Nothing else is going to be equal until men spend as much time performing child care as women do.

 

As women, we often raise our girls the same as we do our sons. We seldom raise our sons the same as our daughters. To allow a son to play with “girl toys” or to go “girl things” like helping to clean or care for younger children, takes a lot of courage.

 

Being a woman today take a great deal of courage.  There is a book out called Sex and World Peace, which proves that the biggest indicator of whether a country is violent within itself, or will use military violence against another country, is not poverty, natural resources, or even a countries’ degree of democracy. It is violence against women.

 

Only if each of us has a torch will there be enough light to create World Peace.

 

 

 

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Motivation

Motivation

 

 

 

Domestic Violence Stats

Domestic Violence Stats

Update on my Garden


Though our terrible winter took its toll on our gardens here in Cleveland. I am happy that many of my plants survived and while not thriving, they are fragrant and the color is a joy to my eyes and I hope to my neighbors also. Though the blooms are not as lush as they were in years past, I am delighted to have them to share with you. I hope you have a moment of pleasure as you peruse my photos.

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio  2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Roses are a favorite of mine. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Roses are a favorite of mine. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014