In Support of a Two-Year Old

I just saw this video on the television. The story definitely touched me; tears are rolling down my cheeks. It is refreshing and heartening to hear some good news in the midst of all of the dark things that are happening..

Owning My Priorities

 

Yesterday morning a post caught my eye. It was How to Pretend You Care about Football. The post was funny and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but reading it also caused me to reflect on my own relationship to football. For most of my life, I had no interest in football; and I didn’t made any effort to pretend that I cared about it. In fact, I believe I actively conveyed my disinterest, and at times, my disapproval. The only exception I can remember was when I lived in Oakland and developed some allegiance to the Oakland Raiders.

My attitude towards football changed in the fall of 2012. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I started watching the Seahawks games very early in the season; and I continued watching them throughout the season. When I say “watched,” I use the word loosely. The reality is I was doing so many other things at the same time that I became known for missing most of the important plays. As we came closer to the playoffs, I focused on the games more and by the Super Bowl I was watching them intently.

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Photo Credit: Ginny Gensler

That year, the city of Seattle came alive in its support of the Seahawks; or it may be more accurate to say it went crazy. Everywhere there were people in Seahawks shirts, Seahawks signs in the windows, Seahawks tattoos, Seahawks nail polish, and Seahawks flags flying. The city had become one big community. After the team won the Super Bowl there was a victory parade. 700,000 people from around the region stood for hours in 20 degree weather to participate. And I was one of them!

Last year, I was much more attentive when I watched the games and was elated when we made it to the Super Bowl again. I felt disappointed when we lost, but I had enjoyed the season so much that it didn’t spoil my overall experience in the slightest.  The Seahawk fans were a community during the wins and we stayed a community during the loss.

As I reflected on all of this yesterday, another memory came to my mind. It was a story I heard in the early 90’s, on one of my first trips to Amma’s ashram in Kerala, India. At that time, one of the brahmacharis (male monks) shared a story from the early days of the ashram. In those days, the spiritual aspirants were expected to abstain from chai (tea). This young man had ignored that instruction however and would daily sneak out of the ashram and go to a local chai shop for tea. Invariably when he returned to the ashram, Amma would be standing by the gate talking to someone. She never said anything to him, but he knew she knew what he had been doing. One day, when returning from his chai break, he saw Amma standing near the gate so he turned around and went to another ashram entrance. He was shocked to find Amma standing there as well! As he reflected on the event, he concluded this was occurring because he was being sneaky. The next time he went for chai, he announced, out loud, to the universe, “I’m going for chai.” Never again did he find Amma standing by the gate when he returned.

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So in the spirit of owning my priorities, I have the following to say. The Seahawks have played their first three preseason games for this year and there is one more to go. Then the main season begins. So far I have seen all of the games and I intend to see the rest of them as well. During the six weeks I’m in India, I will follow them on my Android as much as possible. So if I don’t show up at an event I would normally attend, and there is a Seahawks game that day, you can safely assume I am somewhere watching the game. I am a Seahawks fan and I am proud of it!

Tomorrow’s the Big Day!

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Photo Credit: Ginny Gensler

Tomorrow is the day most of Seattle has been waiting for, the day of The Super Bowl! I definitely want us to win, but to me this season has been a major success regardless of what happens tomorrow.

In my mind, the city of Seattle, the state, the region and beyond became a family last year as they rallied around the Seahawks football team. That community experience was so powerful, and I expected it would be similar this year; but as far as I’m concerned that sense of community grew exponentially during this season.

There have been rallies occurring here for weeks. On Blue Friday’s so many people wear their Seahawks jerseys to work and in their lives.  As the big day approaches a sea of Seahawks jerseys can be seen every day of the week.  Apparently on the day of the NFL championship game, 91% of the televisions that were turned on in Seattle were tuned in to at least part of the game. Seattle area fans are streaming towards Arizona whether they have tickets to the game or not.

Seismologists keep track of the rumbling in the earth during the games, as Seattle is known for being one of the loudest stadiums.  The dancing and cheering that happened when Seattle came back to tie the game in the NFC championship caused activity equivalent to a level 2 earthquake.  The press box was shaking so much that some of the press thought that a real earthquake was occurring! Take a look at the seismic readings below.  The Beast Quake happened a different year; but notice the difference in the reading during the Dance Quake and that of the Overtime Touch down which resulted in the Seahawks winning the NFL championship game!  For more information click here.

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Photo Credit: KiroTV

Governor Jay Inslee created a proclamation that called for all 12’s (Fan’s are considered the 12th “man” on the football team due to their level of support) to engage in three moments of loudness in support of the Seattle Seahawks: at 12:00 p.m. on Jan. 30, Jan. 31, Feb. 1, 2015. He requested that the fans get LOUD, LOUDER, and LOUDEST for 30 seconds on each day.

Government buildings have the U.S. flag, the Washington State flag, and the 12 flag flying. There are 12 flags or lighted displays everywhere. Google Images shows an impressive selection of them.

Celebrating the Seahawks has also become a family event. I heard someone being interviewed yesterday that said their one year old was the biggest Seahawks fan in their family!

Tears rolled down my face as I watched the joy that the children in the video below were expressing.  I think the video exemplifies much of what I am trying to put into words in this post.

(I cried as much when I re-watched the video in preparing this post as I did the first time I saw it!)

So, whatever happens tomorrow I will have had the joy of experiencing a sense of community that is so palpable that in some cases it can be recorded as seismic activity!

GO SEAHAWKS!

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Lessons are for Learning

I was debating whether I would title this post “Lessons are for Learning” or “Look for the Good in Everything.” Both statements are true and they both fit the situation that I am about to describe. My thought was to use the first one that came to me, i.e. “Lessons are for Learning” but I decided instead to accept that “I Will Know When I Know.” I would decide on the title after I write the post!

As many of you know, I had been really looking forward to last Sunday’s divisional championship game between the Seahawks and the Packers. I was planning to watch it with my ex-husband Al. Due to jet lag, I only slept two hours Saturday night and attended a Sanskrit class Sunday morning. The game was at noon so I was going from the class to Al’s, with no time for a nap.

A variety of things had happened that day that triggered me and being so exhausted I was not at my best, to say the least. To top it off, on the way to Al’s apartment, I realized that he lived so close to the stadium that there was no way in the world I was going to be able to find a parking place. By then I was in a really bad mood, especially since it was raining and I did not have an umbrella or an appropriate coat in the car.

After dropping food off at Al’s apartment, I drove to a light rail station located about 4 miles from the International District where he lives. I parked the car and boarded the train. As I was walking back to the apartment, after having disembarked from the train, I noticed the strangest sound. It was loud and it sounded a bit like freeway traffic, but that wasn’t right either. What was it?  Could the sound be the crowd cheering in the stadium? Unbelievably, it was!

By the time I made it back to the apartment, my bad mood had shifted and I was eager to watch the game with him. As the Seahawks made error after error, however, my excitement withered.

I knew that taking the light rail home was going to be a very overwhelming experience. Tens of thousands of fans descending on that station when I was so exhausted would be incredibly difficult. Al and I agreed that if the game ever got to the point where it couldn’t be salvaged, I would leave. When the Seahawk’s pass was intercepted with less than four minutes on the game clock, and a score of Packers 19 – Seahawks 7, l decided that time had come.

I left feeling fine about my decision. When a few minutes later I had the opportunity to give money to a panhandler, which is something that has been difficult for me in the past (Judgment or Compassion), I was even more confident that my choice had been correct.

Seconds later, there was loud cheering from the stadium followed by fireworks. What was going on?  Al called me and Whats App texts started flying between my son Sreejit, who lives in India, and me. The Seahawks had scored a touchdown!

Soon I reached the light rail tunnel. In less than a minute’s time, the Seahawks recovered an onside kick and scored another touchdown, followed by a two point conversion, the combination of which put them ahead by a field goal.  (I can’t believe I’m saying all of this, and even have a bit of a clue what I am talking about.  Me, who until last year had NO interest in football!)

The tunnel was filled with fans who, like me, had left early. They were following the game on their phones and when the news that we were winning came through, the whole place erupted with cheers. I felt so much a part of this community experience.

With 14 seconds left, the Packers kicked a field goal that tied the game and sent it into overtime. The game was still going on when I reached my station. The elevator that took me from the tunnel to the surface street was full of people who had left the stadium early. One man said “I’m not here. If anyone asks, I’m still at the game. What happens in this elevator stays in this elevator.” Everyone laughed, and once again I had an experience of community.

I walked to my car and listened to the game as I drove home. Between the time I got out of my car and the time I turned on the television, the Seahawks had scored yet another touchdown and we had won. We were going to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row!  And instead of facing tens of thousands of people in the light rail station, I was already in the quiet of my home. All was well.

Over the next few days there were times when I felt sad that I had missed all the excitement, but at the same time I knew I hadn’t; I had just experienced it in a different form. And I watched the game highlights that day, and in the days that followed, so that I could actually see what had happened.

 

I felt a nick of sadness again when I received pictures from friends who had been together when the big moments came.

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But while I hadn’t been with Al, Sreejit or friends in those moments, I was definitely not alone. I was with Al and Sreejit via media and had had Seahawks fans all around me. I had felt connected and a part of all the excitement. It was just in a different way than I had expected.

I feel thankful for all that I experienced. As I reviewed the day in writing this post, I saw that I had an opportunity to work on the following lessons:

  • Lessons are for Learning
  • Look for the good in all situations
  • Be here now
  • Be willing to let go of plans
  • Let go of expectations
  • Lighten Up
  • There are no accidents
  • Don’t overthink
  • Learn from my mistakes.
  • What I (or others) think are mistakes may not be
  • Community comes in many forms
  • I belong
  • Choices are not good or bad.
  • I can learn from any choice I make
  • I will know when I know
  • What is right for one person may not be right for everyone else
  • Be compassionate and kind with yourself and others.
  • Never say never

So what will the name of this post be? I will go with “Lessons are for Learning.” And while I know it is important to never say never, I think it is safe to say I will never intentionally leave a Seahawks game less than four minutes before it is over, no matter how far behind they are!

 

Gratitude Sunday: धन्यवाद: मार्ल (Thank You Marla)

I have a lifetime pattern of having essentially no interest in sports.  Last year that changed in a big way. Starting with the third game, I began to feel drawn to watch the Seahawks play football.  From then on, I made a priority of watching every game. During the six weeks I was in India, I would follow the scoring on my Android.  If the game occurred while I was asleep, checking the final score was my first priority of the morning. Continue reading “Gratitude Sunday: धन्यवाद: मार्ल (Thank You Marla)”

A Hippie and Proud of It

One weekend during the mid 80’s, I was a client in a psychotherapy intensive. Early on in the intensive, one of the therapists asked us to divide up into three groups depending on whether we tended to take rebellious, over-adaptive (I.e. tendency to do what pleases others), or victim attitudes. I immediately joined the over-adaptive group.

The therapist, who was considerably shorter than me, walked close and looked up at me. “Who do you think you are kidding?” she said. I was surprised, because over-adaptive seemed like a reasonable choice to me. She then started rattling off a list of things I had done during my life. Hmmmm …. when I thought about it from that perspective, I realized she was right. I marched over to the “Rebellious” group.

I grew up in a military family where I spent a good part of my life in my room pouting. Another big chunk I spent with my nose in a book. When it was time to leave home to go to college, I picked Seattle Pacific College (SPC), a tiny conservative Christian school in Seattle, Washington. It turned out to be way more conservative than I was. Some rules were of no concern because I didn’t do the behavior anyway; no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking, for example. In addition there was to be no dancing or card playing on or off campus, and no pants were to be worn on campus except on Saturdays or when we were in our dorm. Permission to go to movie theaters had just recently been granted.

We had to live in the dorm at least a year. The first quarter our curfew was 8:00 p.m.; after that it was 10 p.m. I really enjoyed dorm life. I remember we played a lot of pranks on each other, like short sheeting our friends’ beds and putting shaving cream under doorknobs.

When the time came that I was allowed to live off campus, I did. I moved into an apartment with one of my former dorm mates. The incident I remember most clearly about that period was when I invited a boyfriend over to my apartment for Sunday lunch. Shortly thereafter, I received a call to come to the office of the Dean of Students. When I presented myself there, he confronted me for having had a man in my apartment. I remember he said, “My dear, we don’t even allow our engaged students do that!” I couldn’t believe it was against some unknown rule to invite someone over for Sunday lunch. My resentment towards the college took a big leap.

I became more and more disillusioned as we entered into the period of the civil rights and Vietnam War protests. I judged that students and faculty had their noses buried in their Bibles and had no interest in things that were truly important. At some point, I discovered the First Avenue Service Center, a place where homeless and poor people could gather during the day. The Center gave them the opportunity to be off of the streets, have friends to talk to, play cards, do their laundry and have meals. I became a volunteer in that center and it became a major part of my life. The homeless taught me to play double-deck Pinochle and I loved it. I spent hour after hour enjoying the company and the game even though I knew playing cards was against the school rules.

My fellow students couldn’t understand what I was doing. One told me, “I wouldn’t even take a bus on First Avenue. My mother obviously raised me different than yours.” I retorted either aloud or in my head, “I doubt it!”

I wasn’t content seeing the people only in the Center; I began to socialize with them outside of the Center as well. I loved being part of their lives. Except in one instance, I never felt in any danger.

I was so excited about the life I was living and the people I was meeting. I remember writing my mother and saying “Oh Mom, I’m having so much fun. I’m meeting and getting to know ex-cons, drug addicts, drag queens and other interesting people. It is wonderful!” Needless to say, my mother did not share my attitude. I was upset and shocked when I received a phone call or letter back from her saying that she was sending me a plane ticket home. I knew I wasn’t going to go home but I don’t remember how that scene played out. Whatever the process, the result was that I stayed at SPC.

I was definitely putting my mother through the wringer though. In later years she would say, “You were just fine until you went to college.” During this period of my college years she would get a notice that I was on the Dean’s list (i.e. honor roll) one quarter and on probation the next. Once she even received a letter saying there was a warrant out for my arrest. That even shocked me. It made no sense whatsoever. When I investigated, I discovered it was due to an unpaid traffic ticket, but the officials hadn’t bothered to put that information in the letter.

At some point I moved back in the dorm. That meant I had to deal, or as it turned out, not deal, with the college dorm curfew. If we weren’t in by the time the curfew came, we were locked out. With my new life style, I wasn’t always back in the dorm by 10:00 p.m.

As an aside, let me say that Al, the man I would eventually marry, arrived in Seattle in 1968 on the day that Bobby Kennedy was shot. I met him when he also became a volunteer at the Center. We never dated until I moved to Oakland after graduating from SPC, but he became my best friend during those years. There were numerous times when we sat at the waterfront all night talking because I couldn’t get back into my dorm. I really appreciate that he helped keep me protected during that period of my life.

Al
Al

During those years, I started wearing a headband and moccasins, taking on the hippie image that I still identify with today. I consider that headband to be my most prized possession from my childhood and young adult years. When I called Al yesterday to ask for help in figuring out some of the timeline for this post, he commented that I didn’t wear the headband very long because a boyfriend I had at the time objected. He went on to say that I wore the moccasins for a very long time, in all kinds of weather. I remember wearing them walking the three miles from SPC to the Center in the snow! I recall the headband as being a very significant part of my life, however, so maybe I wore it before I met Al and/or after I later moved to California. I don’t remember. But I do know it was, and is, an important symbol from my time growing up.

20140628_083124This was a time period when a program called Urban Plunge was developed. The goal of Urban Plunge is to give students “a personal experience that will equip them to engage the homeless population with empathy and compassion.” The groups of students left the comfort on their homes and engaged with the homeless over a five-day period. They spent the night in church basements. I thought about taking the Plunge and then realized I didn’t need to. A good part of my life at that time was an “Urban Plunge.” [A few years after I moved to California, I learned that Seattle Pacific had started sending nursing students to train at the First Avenue Service Center. When I googled Urban Plunge as I was writing this post, I not only discovered that it still exists, but also found that the Seattle Chapter is sponsored by Seattle Pacific University! Oh how times have changed……]

While I can’t place them on a timeline, I know I had many other experiences during these years. I spent time in San Francisco, especially in the Haight-Ashbury district, land of the hippies. I loved it. I think it might have been there that I stayed a night or two in a Salvation Army Shelter. I was never part of the sex, drugs and rock and roll aspect of the hippy lifestyle, that was not me, but I was into having as many life experiences as possible. I particularly loved hanging out in Golden Gate Park with the drums playing and everyone dancing.

haight ashburySeattle Pacific College could not offer the Psychiatric or Public Health portions of the nursing curriculum in those years, so the SPC students attended the University of Washington for two of the last three-quarters of their undergraduate program. I decided to move into a commune in the University District. I found I loved the community life style.

When it was time for me to take my last quarter at SPC however, my chosen residence became an issue.  Returning students who were living off campus had to sign a form agreeing to not having men in their homes. (As I reflect back on it, I wonder if they added that statement to everyone’s contract after I had made the earlier “mistake” of serving lunch to my boyfriend in my apartment!) I was in a dilemma. If I told the truth school officials would be upset. But I wasn’t willing to lie. I told them I couldn’t sign that contract because I lived in a commune and of course men lived there. They gave me an immediate ultimatum; move out of the commune or leave school.

As much as it was tempting to make a political statement by leaving school, I was too close to finishing to take that self-destructive move so I moved out of the commune. I still stayed in rebellion though. When I left the commune, I moved into a small room in a house north of SPC. Living alone was also against the SPC rules but at that point I didn’t care.

Instead of living in a bustling community, I was now living alone, eating hamburgers at Dicks Drive-in and whatever I could take out of a can and cook on a hot plate in my room. Soon I would be able to leave the school and its rules behind.

When I graduated in 1970 with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, there were no nursing jobs available in Seattle. Boeing was on strike and the wives of the Boeing men had to go back to work. Many were experienced nurses so they were hired for the available jobs.  As a result, I moved to Oakland and started working at Highline County Hospital.

In Oakland, I continued having a myriad of experiences. I went to San Francisco frequently. I spent time listening to the drums in Golden Gate Park. I attended church services at Glide Methodist Memorial Church, a church that brought people from all the life styles together. (Their services were a major celebration of life.) I remember going to some Black Panther meetings in Oakland or Berkeley. This was a time of great turmoil and change in the United States. It was also the time when I started dating Al, so driving back and forth between Seattle and Oakland became regular events in both of our lives. My life was full, and happy.

I think I will end my narrative with a memory that is so important to me. I don’t know when it happened but I remember the impact on me when the father of a friend of mine said, “You are one of the true hippies.” While it is not a matter of good versus bad, right or wrong, I knew there were differences in those that called themselves hippies.  I was not interested in drugs and partying.  I believed he was acknowledging my willingness to immerse myself into experiences and into the lives of others, to be of service, to be an agent of change, and to being a bridge between communities. All of those have continued to be themes throughout my life. In fact, I consider them to be my purpose in being here in this world. I knew his comment  was meant to be a complement and I took it that way.

I still have my headband, and have worn it from time to time in plays. I even wear moccasins every now and then!

Two years ago I went to my friend Marla’s 50th birthday party. We were asked to wear costumes.  I, of course, chose to be a hippie. I decided to make a fancy headband for the occasion, but it was still a headband.

My friend Vince and me

I was, and in some ways still am, a hippie…. and I’m proud of it.

 

Written for Writing 101 Assignment #20 :  Write a long post about something you  Treasure

 

Opportunity for Community May Come When You Least Expect It

When the Dungeon Prompt about Community came out the last week in January 2014, I wrote something in the comments section but since I didn’t have a blog I couldn’t post it properly. Now I have a blog!

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February 1, 2014

To me, community is to be a part of something, to belong. For nearly 30 years I have been part of our therapy community. For 25 years I have been part of the Amma community. This year I have also found community in what, for me, is the unlikeliest of places. In September, I heard that our local football team, the Seattle Seahawks, were on a winning streak. In general, I have had no interest in sports of any kind. The only exceptions have been that I, on very rare occasions, have watched part of the Olympics, and a few, very few, times have watched some of the playoff games when one of our teams was doing exceptionally well. But essentially it is safe to say, I do not watch sports. Continue reading “Opportunity for Community May Come When You Least Expect It”