Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm not Occupying Red Bluff any more...

and here's why.

I enthusiastically participated in the first Occupy Red Bluff march a couple of weeks ago, waving my sign at cars going up and down Main Street.

The original Occupy Wall Street movement which, spore-like, has sprung up in communities around the world, began mostly as a protest against corporate greed.

Says the website: "Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.
This  movement empowers real people to create real change from the bottom up. We want to see a general assembly in every backyard, on every street corner because we don't need Wall Street and we don't need politicians to build a better society."

So okay, I absolutely can buy into that.  That seems to be an issue that transcends party lines and will register with politicians and corporations that we 'little people" are not going to lay down and watch our dollars disappear into your coffers without a protest.

And I print my signs about being one of the 99 percent and show up.

The Occupy Red Bluff group gets on Facebook. Well, okay, that is a great social media communication device as is Twitter for communicating and staying in front of people.

And then I read this post: "Every Monday @ 11:00 am there will be a gathering of occupiers @ BofA, 955 Main St. Red Bluff CA. Plz bring a sign and express your feelings about what is going on in Congress, on Wall Street ,The War, Guantanamo Bay, etc....Be nice, be polite, be humane"

More posts appeared in support of the Humane Society, the homeless, famine in America and hungry children, pictures of hippies back in the day, lots of news about other Occupy cities (which I'd have expected, of course), domestic violence, even Lindsay Lohan news. 

And I was done. 

The protests against corporate greed,  about misuse and non-repayment of the federal bailout money, and about the rich (both individuals and corporations) not being fairly taxed was one I could embrace and one which I believe could do a lot to bring people in any political party together on an issue has now devolved, at least locally, into a mishmash of liberal causes. 

Don't get me wrong: I support many of these causes individually and have donated time and money over the years. I've marched on picket lines and written letters to the editor and supported various of these causes. I support spay/neutering of pets, shelters for the homeless, ending domestic violence, and the like, for instance. Each of those causes already has an organization devoted to furthering its message and call to action.

But Occupy Red Bluff (and, I suspect, many other local Occupy events) has become too unfocused, too broad for me to want to get out there with my 99 percent sign again. I don't have a passion for some of the other causes that have been all tossed in together like grandma's old crazy quilt, and I don't want my friends and neighbors to mistake my action and conviction for something else. 

Unfortunate. Really unfortunate that it has become just another "liberal" vehicle for the Tea Party and conservative Republicans to scoff at and dismiss as a place where all the 'commie liberals' hang out and wave their protest signs. 

It should not be labeled as such. The root of the protest is one we all should be concerned about and be vocal about because it strikes at the heart of our economy, our investments, our government, and our future . The leaders of this 'leaderless' protest would be better served to stick to the issue. Because they've lost this one of the 99 percent, who is now slipping back into that silent majority who don't participate in picket lines and marches. (My pen, however, remains my most trusted sword....)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dear Universe, give me patience. Now, please.

That 'patience' lesson has been one that the Universe has offered to me over and over most of my life, but since 1997 I've been really aware when it presents itself.

I think I'm there again, although I'm not sure exactly what I'm needing to be patient about this time.

My life changed drastically in 1997  (although there was actually a lead-in of several years that I can see now that I have the perspective of time and hindsight). I was working in Birmingham, Ala., for a multinational company that sent me to the San Francisco area to visit other offices and to meet with my colleagues from there and from the East Coast offices.

It was a wonderful time: I explored the city, went to a meditation retreat in Marin County, ate wonderful food, met with my colleagues and worked on planning and projects, and thought a lot -- a LOT -- about what I wanted. I was 49 years old and so many of my friends were going through huge changes in their lives -- illnesses, divorces, moves -- best known as "mid-life crises." About that time I discovered Gail Sheehy's New Passages, a followup to her best-selling book Passages, and realized that we women were not losing our minds and that certainly our feelings and actions were not unusual. It was liberating to understand that.

I came home knowing that I belonged in California, more specifically in the SF Bay area, and that I did not want to look back at my life when I was dying and wonder "what if." I wanted to be who I was, not who I was expected to be any longer. That message from the Universe was crystal clear.

So I started to work towards that goal, involving many long distance job applications, hours of reading and talking to friends who lived there already and with those who knew me best, approaching my company for a job, and  -- yes, a divorce.

From April until August -- really not long at all -- I worked single-mindedly at this, crying a lot, praying a lot, meditating a lot, reflecting on who I wanted to be, and trying -- STRUGGLING -- to be patient. In August, one of my employers' offices in the SF area came through with a job offer and I flew out to look for housing, which required more impatient patience as I waited for applications to be approved. (I HAD to live on the coast within a few miles of my beloved ocean, after all...)

It was the absolute right decision for me. It was not the easy path, however, and being on my own in California was sometimes very difficult and lonely (at least until I found Tony -- something the Universe clearly had planned for us).  The Universe kept throwing 'patience' lessons at me, though, and I have learned to deal with it a little better over these last 14 years.  At least I recognize when I need to let go and let it be, although it is always a struggle not to try to take it back and try to control it.

And once again I feel 'patience' as the lesson of the moment, but it seems to be patience for the next right thing to come along. I've felt very uncreative for quite some time -- fleeting ideas about writing, jewelry-making,  sewing, gardening, singing, acting --but not anything that I feel passionate enough about to actually spend much time doing, and therefore I haven't done much of anything. Since I've always been passionate about the creative things I've chosen to do, to be so wishy-washy about doing anything is a little unsettling. 

So, Universe, I'm waiting to see where I should go from here. You are in charge here, not me, and I get that, finally. I'm just trying to keep my eyes and my heart open to possibilities, and watching for open doors and windows. And to be patient, trusting that all will be well eventually. (But please remember that as I get older this time becomes more precious, okay?....)