Saturday, January 31, 2015

Jane Goodall: Our Human Potential

We have so far to go to realize our human potential for 
compassion, altruism, and love.

The Dalai Lama: Compassion

Compassion is the radicalism of our time.*

(* This is one of my bumper stickers.)

Buddha: How Shall I Live My Life?

My death is certain. 
The time of my death is uncertain. 
The way of my death is uncertain. 
How shall I live my life? 
~ The Buddha

Reflections On Self-Compassion

Ron and I returned a while ago from a day long retreat which was led by Doug Pullin - - and which focused on self-compassion. It was wonderful.

What a gift to find ourselves in a lovely space - actually where Ron and I were married 16 months ago - with others who were engaged in exploring deeper layers of experience, what it is that we hold in our hearts and minds, and how we might grow in compassion and lovingkindness. It is so heartening to be immersed in a shared community experience where we could bring our woundedness and our healing, our fears and our courage, our struggles and our strengths, our suffering and our compassion.

So often in our families and culture we hear that it is a drink that will help, or going shopping, or staying busy, and on and on. It is often not "normal" in America to be invited to actually connect in a deeper, more authentic way with ourselves and those in our lives. Yet, there are these spaces which are created within ourselves and many in our midst where there is greater opening, awareness, honesty, bravery, caring and compassion. I imagine a world where this is the "new normal."

May all beings be safe.
May we be at peace.
May we be courageous and kind.
May we know the beauty of our true nature. 
May we be our authentic selves.
May we know the heart of compassion 
 and love as our deepest truth.
 May we be happy. 

Namaste ~ Molly


The below is the description of the retreat Ron and I were gifted with participating in today. May you find all that most nourishes your heart, mind, body, spirit, and soul...

Self-Compassion Day Long Retreat 

Saturday January 31st, from 10 am to 4 pm at PIMC, lead by Doug PullinSelf-compassion can be cultivated. It's a courageous attitude that stands up to harm, including the harm that we inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-denial, or self-absorption. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves, motivate ourselves with kindness, care for others, and be fully human.

According to the work of Kristin Neff, the three key components of self-compassion are self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and balanced, mindful awareness. Kindness opens our hearts to suffering, so we can give ourselves what we need. Common humanity opens us to others, so that we know we aren't alone. Mindfulness opens us to the present moment, so we can accept our experience with greater ease. Together they comprise a state of warm, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives.
During this day together we will do meditation practices that cultivate mindfulness, kindness and a sense of our shared humanity. We will practice using the experience of self judgment and self depreciation as a gateway to cultivate compassion for self. We will use mindfulness to:
  • Free us from believing the self depreciating mind that reifies self and then negatively judges it. 
  • Recognize all emotions are expressions of need.
  • Recognize, allow, investigate, and non identify with shame based emotional experiences
  • Re-contextualize/re-story life in the context of compassion.
This day of meditation will include periods of sitting, walking and movement meditation. There will also be a Dharma talk and opportunity for personal sharing.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Remembering John

 Reflections On This Anniversary

My brother died 37 years ago today. It was Monday, January 30th, 1978 and we were less then two months away from turning 27. The Friday before he had checked into the motel room outside of Detroit, paying for three nights. John spent those last days drinking vodka, consuming Valium, and off and on the phone with the suicide hotline. He also wrote poetry, which grew increasingly incoherent. But not this one:

If Only

I need to be loved.
I love to be loved.
And I am angry 
When I am not loved.
And when I am angry, 
I am not loved.
If only I weren't so angry
About not being loved
Maybe I could find the
Love that I need.

~ John Strong

They found John shortly after he had died on that Monday morning. There were two suicide notes. It has always felt as though my twin starved to death, starved for the experience of love.

On the other side of hell is something so utterly unimaginable before the experience of going through such profound loss. For five years I avoided my grief, doing the best I could to distance myself from my heart. Disassociation, addiction, distraction, and more gave the illusion of working. For a while. Then, on February 8th, 1983 my close friend, Ann Baker, said to me, "Molly, Jim's an alcoholic." And that was the start of the world as I had known it falling out from under me and gradually, piece by piece, disintegrating and dying. So something new could be born. Me.

I blog a lot about love and beauty, compassion and passion, caring and kindness, embracing what is in our hearts and waking up, wholeness and healing, joy and laughter, tenderness and truth, humility and vulnerability, courage and connection, gratitude and grace. I could have died when my twin died. I could have just given up and been among the walking dead. Or I could find a path and enough support to claim the gifts that come through leaning into, embracing, and learning to compassionately hold my pain and suffering. I believe this is what life asks of each of us, no more and no less. If we can just be brave enough to root into the journey that leads to the unimagined gems hidden in our great losses. Love, laughter, beauty and all of the above ultimately has come to me through the doorway of my tears. 

First, I had to bring the walls down. Some can do this, and some cannot. It is part of the great Mystery that so many of us do find our way out of the fog of our illusions and awaken to the remembrance of what has always been there. Everyone, however, no matter if stuck in delusion or on a path of awakening, has the potential to be a great teacher, either pointing the way to go or the way not to go.

While my son, Matt, and I were out to dinner tonight with my mother and the boys' grandmother, I asked my mom, "Do you think of John much?" "No, not really," was our mother's response. All the while, through the day I have been aware of holding John deeply in my heart. I am remembering John, in this moment and forevermore. And I am profoundly grateful that I am able to remember, that I am able to know grief and gratitude and everything that fills my heart today. I have learned to allow my heart to break open, again and again and again. What a gift... to stop the endless running and, instead, continuously open to the experience of being here, now, embracing life in all its joys and sorrows.

For both of us, I have learned to find the love that I need, the love that weaves itself through me and you and all of life. My twin's tortured life and death filled me with the passion, courage, and commitment to embark on this great journey of discovery. Such are the cycles of life and death and rebirth. Thank you, John.

May we love more authentically.
May we be healed.
May our hearts remain open.

With compassion, gratitude, love & blessings,


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mother Teresa: Love

Charity isn't about pity,
it is about love.
- Mother Teresa

Emma Goldman: Beauty

I'd rather have roses on my table than 
diamonds on my neck.

 Emma Goldman


Emma Goldman: Violence

The most violent element in society
is ignorance.  

 Emma Goldman

Turning Back on American People,' US Senate Votes to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline

'Thankfully, this vote is a farce—because Keystone XL is a decision for President Obama, not the Climate Denial Congress.'
Published on
"The senators who voted in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline know they don't have the votes to override President Obama's veto, so ultimately this was a symbolic vote for them—a testament to their loyalty to dirty money over rational public policy," said Kyle Ash of Greenpeace. (Photo: Chesapeakeclimate/flickr/cc)"The senators who voted in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline know they don't have the votes to override President Obama's veto, so ultimately this was a symbolic vote for them—a testament to their loyalty to dirty money over rational public policy," said Kyle Ash of Greenpeace. (Photo: Chesapeakeclimate/flickr/cc)Marking a major—and likely symbolic—victory for Republicans on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in a 62-36 vote that will not be sufficient to override President Barack Obama's expected veto.
The nine Democrats who voted to approve Keystone were Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Mark Warner (Va.). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is traveling, missed the vote, as did Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is recovering from eye surgery.
All other Republicans voted in favor of the $8 billion project that Obama has vowed to strike down.
"The senators who voted in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline know they don't have the votes to override President Obama's veto, so ultimately this was a symbolic vote for them—a testament to their loyalty to dirty money over rational public policy," said Greenpeace legislative representative Kyle Ash. "Thankfully, these members and their fossil fuel agendas are increasingly irrelevant to the clean energy revolution taking place throughout communities all over the country." executive director May Boeve issued a similar statement:
Given the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on our political system, it’s no longer even surprising that this Congress has made it their number one priority to try and force approval of an oil pipeline, instead of addressing the wide range of real issues confronting American families.  But thankfully, this vote is a farce—because Keystone XL is a decision for President Obama, not the Climate Denial Congress. As the President himself has pointed out, Keystone would worsen climate change, threaten the livelihood of tribes and landowners along the route, and create essentially no long-term jobs—all so a Canadian company gets to ship dirty oil to the rest of the world. That’s why we’re looking to the President to follow through on his word, veto this bill, and then reject the permit application for this pipeline for good.
Calling on his Senate colleagues to sustain Obama's expected veto, Sen. Bernie Sanders said: "With the scientific community telling us loudly and clearly that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels if we are to combat climate change, it is totally crazy for the Congress to support the production and transportation of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet."
And several Keystone XL opponents said the vote illustrates who GOP politicians are really beholden to.
"The Republican's Keystone XL obsession is about one thing and one thing only—a direct payback to Big Oil, specifically to the Koch brothers who likely spent more than anyone else to elect the Republican Senate, and also happen to be the largest non-Canadian leaseholder in the Alberta tar sands," declared Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager at CREDO. "The American people oppose Congress forcing a decision on Keystone XL, and given the actual problems we are facing and the solutions available, the notion that Keystone XL should be the first or highest priority of Congress is literally insulting. As long as they continue their Keystone XL obsession, Republicans are turning their back on the American people."

For the original article, please go here:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Five Years After: Long Live Howard Zinn

Published onTuesday, January 27, 2015 by Zinn Education Project
Historian and educator Howard Zinn said that inspiring students to change the world should be the "modest little aim" of teaching. (Portrait: Painting by Robert Shetterly/
Today—Jan. 27—marks five years since the death of the great historian and activist Howard Zinn. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder what Howard would say about something—the growth of the climate justice movement, #BlackLivesMatter, the new Selma film, the killings at the Charlie Hebdo offices. No doubt, he would be encouraged by how many educators are engaging students in thinking critically about these and other issues.
Zinn is best known, of course, for his beloved A People’s History of the United States, arguably the most influential U.S. history textbook in print. “That book will knock you on your ass,” as Matt Damon’s character says in the film Good Will Hunting. But Zinn did not merely record history, he made it: as a professor at Spelman College in the 1950s and early 1960s, where he was ultimately fired for his outspoken support of students in the Civil Rights Movement, and specifically the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); as a critic of the U.S. war in Vietnam, and author of the first book calling for an immediate U.S. withdrawal; and as author of numerous books on war, peace, and popular struggle. Zinn was speaking and educating new generations of students and activists right up until the day he died.
It’s always worth dipping into the vast archive of Zinn scholarship, but at a moment of increasing social activism and global tension, now is an especially good time to remember some of Howard Zinn’s wisdom.
Shortly after Barack Obama’s election, in November 2008, the Zinn Education Project sponsored a talk by Zinn to several hundred teachers at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference in Houston. Zinn reminded teachers that the point of learning about social studies was not simply to memorize facts, but to imbue students with a desire to change the world. “A modest little aim,” Zinn acknowledged, with a twinkle in his eye.
In this talk, available as an online video as well as a transcription, Zinn insisted that teachers must help students challenge “fundamental premises that keep us inside a certain box.” Because without this critical rethinking of premises about history and the role of the United States in the world, “things will never change.” And this will remain “a world of war and hunger and disease and inequality and racism and sexism.”
A key premise that needs to be questioned, according to Zinn, is the notion of “national interests,” a term so common in the political and academic discourse as to be almost invisible. Zinn points out that the “one big family” myth begins with the Constitution’s preamble: “We the people of the United States. . .” Zinn noted that it wasn’t “we the people” who established the Constitution in Philadelphia—it was 55 rich white men. Missing from or glossed over in the traditional textbook treatment are race and class divisions, including the rebellions of farmers in Western Massachusetts, immediately preceding the Constitutional Convention in 1787. No doubt, the Constitution had elements of democracy, but Zinn argues that it “established the rule of slaveholders, and merchants, and bondholders.”
Teaching history through the lens of class, race, and gender conflict is not simply more accurate, according to Zinn; it also makes it more likely that students—and all the rest of us—will not “simply swallow these enveloping phrases like ‘the national interest,’ ‘national security,’ ‘national defense,’ as if we’re all in the same boat.”
As Zinn told teachers in Houston: “No, the soldier who is sent to Iraq does not have the same interests as the president who sends him to Iraq. The person who works on the assembly line at General Motors does not have the same interest as the CEO of General Motors. No—we’re a country of divided interests, and it’s important for people to know that.”
howardzinn_peacerallyAnother premise Zinn identified, one that is an article of faith in so much U.S. history curriculum and corporate-produced textbooks, is “American exceptionalism”—the idea that the United States is fundamentally freer, more virtuous, more democratic, and more humane than other countries. For Zinn, the United States is “an empire like other empires. There was a British empire, and there was a Dutch empire, and there was a Spanish empire, and yes, we are an American empire.” The United States expanded through deceit and theft and conquest, just like other empires, although textbooks cleanse this imperial bullying with legal-sounding terms like the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican Cession.
Patriotism is another premise that we need to question. As Zinn told teachers in Houston: “It’s very bad for everybody when young people grow up thinking that patriotism means obedience to your government.” Zinn often recalled Mark Twain’s distinction between country and government. “Does patriotism mean support your government? No. That’s the definition of patriotism in a totalitarian state,” Zinn warned a Denver audience in a 2008 speech, included in Howard Zinn Speaks, edited by Anthony Arnove [Haymarket Books, 2012].
And going to war on behalf of “our country” is offered as the highest expression of patriotism—in everything from the military recruitment propaganda that saturates our high schools to the social studies curriculum that features photos of U.S. troops heroically battling “enemy soldiers” in a section called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in the widely used high school Holt McDougal textbook Modern World History.
Howard Zinn cuts through this curricular fog: “War is terrorism. . . . Terrorism is the willingness to kill large numbers of people for some presumably good cause. That’s what terrorists are about.” Zinn demands that we reexamine the premise that war is necessary, a proposition not taken seriously in any high school history textbook I’ve ever seen. Instead, wars get sold to Americans—especially to the young people who fight those wars—as efforts to spread liberty and democracy. As Howard Zinn said many times, if you don’t know your history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. Leaders can tell you anything and you have no way of knowing what’s true.
Please continue this excellent article here:

Rumi: Sorrow Prepares You For Joy

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.

― Rumi

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rachel Naomi Remen: Grace, Mystery, and Adventure

Those who don't love themselves as they are rarely love life as it is either. Most people have come to prefer certain of life's experiences and deny and reject others, unaware of the value of the hidden things that may come wrapped in plain or even ugly paper. In avoiding all pain and seeking comfort at all cost, we may be left without intimacy or compassion; in rejecting change and risk we often cheat ourselves of the quest; in denying our suffering we may never know our strength or our greatness. Or even that the love we have been given can be trusted. It is natural, even instinctive to prefer comfort to pain, the familiar to the unknown. But sometimes our instincts are not wise. Life usually offers us far more than our biases and preferences will allow us to have. Beyond comfort lie grace, mystery, and adventure. We may need to let go of our beliefs and ideas about life in order to have life.


Joanna Macy: Love For This Life

The refusal to feel takes a heavy toll. Not only is there an impoverishment of our emotional and sensory life, flowers are dimmer and less fragrant, our loves less ecstaticâ, but this psychic numbing also impedes our capacity to process and respond to information. The energy expended in pushing down despair is diverted from more creative uses, depleting the resilience and imagination needed for fresh visions and strategies...

If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.

  Joanna Macy

Dahr Jamail | Mourning Our Planet: Climate Scientists Share Their Grieving Process

By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Analysis
I have been researching and writing about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) for Truthout for the past year, because I have long been deeply troubled by how fast the planet has been emitting its obvious distress signals.
On a nearly daily basis, I've sought out the most recent scientific studies, interviewed the top researchers and scientists penning those studies, and connected the dots to give readers as clear a picture as possible about the magnitude of the emergency we are in.
This work has emotional consequences: I've struggled with depression, anger, and fear. I've watched myself shift through some of the five stages of grief proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance I've grieved for the planet and all the species who live here, and continue to do so as I work today.
I have been vacillating between depression and acceptance of where we are, both as victims - fragile human beings – and as perpetrators: We are the species responsible for altering the climate system of the planet we inhabit to the point of possibly driving ourselves extinct, in addition to the 150-200 species we are already driving extinct.
Can you relate to this grieving process?
If so, you might find solace in the fact that you are not alone: Climate science researchers, scientists, journalists and activists have all been struggling with grief around what we are witnessing.
Take Professor Camille Parmesan, a climate researcher who says that ACD is the driving cause of her depression.
"I don't know of a single scientist that's not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost," Parmesan said in the National Wildlife Federation's 2012 report. "It's gotten to be so depressing that I'm not sure I'm going to go back to this particular site again," she said in reference to an ocean reef she had studied since 2002, "because I just know I'm going to see more and more of the coral dead, and bleached, and covered with brown algae."
Last year I wrote about the work of Joanna Macy, a scholar of Buddhism, eco-philosophy, general systems theory and deep ecology, and author of more than a dozen books. Her initiative, The Work That Reconnects, helps people essentially do nothing more mysterious than telling the truth about what we see, know and feel is happening to our world.
In order to remain able to continue in our work, we first must feel the full pain of what is being done to the world, according to Macy." Refusing to feel pain, and becoming incapable of feeling the pain, which is actually the root meaning of apathy, refusal to suffer - that makes us stupid, and half alive," she told me. "It causes us to become blind to see what is really out there."
I recently came across a blog titled, Is This How You Feel? It is an extraordinary compilation of handwritten letters from highly credentialed climate scientists and researchers sharing their myriad feelings about what they are seeing.
Please continue this Truthout article by Dahr Jamail here: