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Thursdays in Black

Thursdays in Black #TiB aims toward a world without rape and violence. Historically, the movement is traced to the 1970s when Argentinian women protested for protection from violence and rape. Flowing and ebbing over time, Thursdays in Black has spread globally. March 15, I attended a panel discussion at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City. Hosted by Ecumenical Women of the United Nations, a panel discussion. Four men dialogued on progress and potential for a world without gender solicited destructive behavior.

Toxic masculinity was defined broadly, not necessarily by gender or male human beings, but by attitudes; threatening attitudes that bully and harm. I talk in my memoir, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter, about negotiating the attitude of masculinity. Here is the chapter:

Keeping It Straight

The farmer’s market got a reputation. Officials from other markets, including from the Seattle Pike’s Place Market, visited Pasco to watch its operation. I’d give them tours and answered questions. They took notes. The standard comment to me was, “I can’t believe you don’t have theft problems.”

The comment tempted me to pat myself on the back. I diligently prayed for honesty and believed my prayers had positive effects. Cash was the main currency. In the crowded hubbub, purses were opened and closed. Pants pockets were dug through for money and dollar bills were handed to farmers, who threw the money in shoeboxes and crates.

In an apron tied around my waist, I carried thousands of dollars from paid vendor fees, even serving as the local bank for change. Theft was only mentioned once.

A vendor noticed a pair of handcrafted wooden earrings missing from his rack. Two weeks later he told me, almost incredulously, “Cheryl, those earrings reappeared on the table.”

My prayer for honesty was fine and good, but I knew the people and atmosphere had a lot to do with it. The customers genuinely appreciated the fresh produce, handed to them by the very people who put their hearts and souls into the products. The vendors were from family farms, not corporations. There was no middleman to dilute the authenticity. The good outweighed the bad.

Not that it was all hunky-dory. Irritation, jealousy, and plain old weariness crept in periodically to throw us off guard. Fortunately, we’d help one another get back on track quickly, even when we didn’t know it. Like the time a woman helped me correct myself.

It was a scorching August day when more than seventy vendors showed up. I wiped salty perspiration from my eyes and was menstruating, not always a trouble-free task for me. I moved cautiously so blood wouldn’t start rolling down between my legs. People kept asking me for help, keeping me from walking across the street to where the bathroom was located.

I watched three vendors walk up to me at once, all talking, or rather complaining. When they were standing within an arm’s reach in front of me, I held up my hand, palm out as a stop sign. They stopped and quieted. I pointed to the person I figured would be the quickest to deal with. “I need change for this $50,” he said. I made the change.

I pointed to the second person, who said, “I need plastic bags.”

“You can buy some bags at stall three,” I answered, and then looked at the woman who stood with an agitated, indignant expression on her face.

“You told me to sell from stall fifteen and there is no way I can get in that stall. Do you see all these people? I have a truckload of peppers and tomatoes and need to get them out of the sun. It’s impossible to get in stall fifteen. I’ve tried. There’s no way.”

In the middle of her verbal explosion, I saw a thought pass through my head that harkened unmistakably: Women like you are why we are considered the weaker, dumber sex.

Though feeling annoyed, I said to her, “Please take me to your truck and I will help you.” I followed and asked her if it’d be okay if I backed her truck into stall fifteen. She gave me her keys and within two minutes she was selling her produce, relieved and happy.

Oddly, I wasn’t happy with myself. I felt a bit chastened.

When walking to the bathroom. I quickly realized I’d judged the woman alongside the thought that some women feed male chauvinism. I’d spent my life dodging male chauvinism because plenty of men treated me with prejudice, as if I was weak and dumb. So, why would I entertain what amounted to a male chauvinist thought?

Later in the day, I took the time to answer that question the best I could. It dawned on me chauvinism wasn’t gender specific. It was simply narrow-mindedness, a laziness that doesn’t help others. I would be adding to it if I accepted that thought about the woman that had passed through my head earlier. I mentally re-routed my thinking to admit it was chauvinism that annoyed me, not the woman. I affirmed that I didn’t help the woman because she was daft, but because I could help her in a way she understood. We were equals.

It was an exercise in breaking apart thoughts and reconnecting useful thoughts to get a more inclusive picture. The exercise helped me later when reading the Bible at home.

I read the story about Elisha who met a distraught mother in debt. She was about to lose her sons as payment for the debt. Elisha asked, “What do you have in your house?”

The mother had some oil.

Elisha instructed her to borrow a bunch of jars. When she poured her little bit of oil in the jars the oil multiplied miraculously. She sold the oil and paid off the debt.

It was the question, “what’s in your house,” that shifted my mental strategy. Instead of thinking and acting from the premise that I lack, why not ask what I have?

I had food, shelter. I even had stuff in storage, nearly forgotten. We certainly had family love. And then whomp, the thought to foster children landed in my creaked-open mind. I needed to share family love.

I went to the phone and called the State Social Services Department. A social worker came to our house to start the process of licensing me and Doug as foster parents. She examined our house, nodding in approval. Where I saw puny, she saw modest. Where I saw ugly, she saw practical. Where I saw cheap, she saw affordable and clean. Within a few weeks, 2-year-old Junior came to live with us.

Leah and Carly didn’t mind a stitch when we moved their clothes dresser out of their bedroom into the kitchen so we could fit a crib next to their bunk bed. The girls had fun showing Junior the swing set and forts.

Unexcitable by physical color, shape, or size, Junior ambled as fast as his chubby legs could carry him to keep up with the girls. He adored hugs and book reading time.

Junior helped solidify in my mind the concept of a Father-Mother God that cares for us all. With a divine Parent, the temptation to condemn his human parents died off.

We continued fostering children for the next fifteen years.

I learned that I never lost what I didn’t have. I learned that I can increase what I have.

ecumenical panel against violence

Four member panel

ecumenical show of hands on violence

Audience raises hands if knows of or experienced violence against women and girls

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Resting life and death in peace

First posted in September 2014

Our culture avoids it, fears it, is attracted to it, and uses it as a threat.

Death.

But every now and then, an anomaly shows up. I met a couple who raised 7 children, successfully, on a farm. The mother told me, “The farm life taught the children about life and death.”

Interesting. She spoke of life and death as equal, mortal elements that shouldn’t absorb so much attention when the true task is to live.

How can we live life and death?

By not making life and death something they are not.

Mortal life and death are not immortal or lasting.

Life isn’t a competition for wealth and fame and human approval. Death isn’t something we escape or dodge.

Life expresses itself through us as spiritual beings. Life is God, manifesting itself, in countless individuality, through us.

Death is the human interpretation of spiritual life unattached to mortality. Someone dies and we realize they are still alive in consciousness.

Human life and death can be beautiful, but it can also be ugly. We read in Matthew 16:21-23:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

I bet it was somewhat of a struggle, but Jesus didn’t focus on human life and death. Christ Jesus lived immortality; he expressed integrity, forgiveness, courage, and wisdom.

Added 2019, from 21st Century Science and Health:

“The complicated mis-creations must finally give place to the glorious forms which we sometimes glimpse through the eye of divine Mind when the mental picture is spiritual and eternal. Take the time to look past the fading, sensational pictures. Gain the true sense of life. Rest your gaze on the unsearchable realm of Mind. Look ahead and act as possessing all power from Truth and Love in whom you have your being.”

Don’t remember stress during the holidays

Holiday hoopla keeps many people over-the-top-busy. Others feel idle, maybe lonely. As a young mother, I experienced both extremes within a few years and struggled to find a sense of balance. Oddly, I came down with holiday amnesia. It started with birthday blank-outs.

Our daughters reconciled my forgetfulness by writing on the “shopping list” the items so desired for their birthdays, allowing time to wrap the present themselves. They’d unwarp the gifts and act surprised and delighted, asking, how did I know exactly what to get.

Sometimes my husband shopped for the girls’ birthdays, but I think my amnesia was contagious to him. Or maybe I caught it from him. Either way, it seeped into the holidays.

My forgetting to run around and find perfect gifts during the holidays, however, hasn’t made me forget the meaning of the holidays. It’s the same as every day. It’s the meaning of building trust, family, and community. I talk in my memoir, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter, about a power higher than myself and some of the people who gave me the gift of building a trust in a goodness that knows no bounds.

Stress isn’t a gift from God. Neither is forgetfulness. But forgetting to be stressed isn’t forgetfulness, it’s remembering God’s goodness.

Moments of insight and love

Unobstructed

Have you ever felt as though you were obstructed? Or had an obstruction that kept you from breathing, swallowing, or moving?

In a perfect world, there is no obstruction. But we don’t know a perfect world. Obstructions are in the imperfect. Therefore, they can only obstruct that which is imperfect such as arrogance, hate, and inequality.

Now, return to the perfect world. It’s unobstructed, flowing, moving, fluent, affluent in equality, love, and humility.

Can we know this so well that we feel it manifested?

With Christ.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

With the light of Love, let’s now review a spiritual interpretation of Psalm 23.

[Divine Love] is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[Love] makes me lie down in green pastures.
[Love] leads me beside still waters.
[Love] restores my soul.
[Love] leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for [Love is] with me; [Love’s] rod and [Love’s] staff, they comfort me.

[Love will] prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] forever.

Book display

All books price listsmall

booth carly and teens

Selling at the 2017 Brooklyn Book Festival

Infomania doesn’t support women

How can we be more productive in conversations about sexual harassment and assault toward women? Don’t cater to infomania. And, do “be” the solution.

We need solutions, because sexual harassment and assault of woman is a problem, it’s been a problem ad infinitum. But infomania, or the desire to accumulate and process information, causes the brain to deceive us into working with the men who use their penis to think and act with.

How do we be a solution? Use information instead of letting it use us.

Contributing Editor at the Atlantic Emily Yoffe wrote for Politico Magazine, “This amazing moment has a chance to be truly transformative. But it could also go off track if all accusations are taken on faith, if due process is seen as an impediment rather than a requirement and an underpinning of justice, and if men and women grow wary of each other in the workplace.”

What is she saying? Take the time to give each accusation due process. Be just. Trust one another.

We can speak out for women’s progress and goodness, fully supported by divine Mind.

From 21st Century Science and Health

Civil laws are created to implement fairness and equity in our rights, but more progress is needed, to say the least. Civilization and Science stand strong on the side of justice and encourage the elimination of discrimination, however, every time an effort is made to remedy unfairness, we must make sure that the effort doesn’t encourage difficulties of greater magnitude somewhere else. Higher aims and motives, as well as improved mental character, must be considered as the feasible and rational means of progress.

Abstinence from debauched sexual activity leads to an advanced state of intellectual and cultural development in human society, marked by progress in the arts, science, and religion. Without integrity, there is no social stability and the Science of Life can’t be achieved.

Quoting from science & religion to God

We can spiritually discern and live by divine laws. We can outgrow false beliefs that work against progress. We can break barriers in ways that benefit humanity through an understanding of Spirit.

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