Why I Marched

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On Saturday, January 21, I attended the Women’s March in Oakland, California. It was an amazing day, and so inspiring to see so many women, men, and children out walking the streets together in solidarity with women marching all around the world. It was lovely to hear the chanting and singing, to read the clever and funny and poignant signs.

I saw a notification on Facebook that Senator Dianne Feinstein was asking for comments from people explaining why they marched. I sent my comments in, possibly too late to be useful for her, but nevertheless, it felt good to articulate what all this means to me. Here it is, with a little elaboration:

 

It may be too late for this to be useful, but here is why I marched in the Women’s March in Oakland with a friend and my husband, while friends all over the nation marched in other cities:

Because I want women to be appreciated and paid equally for the tremendous work they do in every industry.

Because I want women who are doing the honorable and essential work raising children not to be systematically and financially penalized for doing so.

Because I want women, men, and children of all ethnicities, creeds, sexualities, gender identities, economic backgrounds, and disability and immigration status to have a fair chance at success, and furthermore I want all those who have challenges to receive assistance to live their lives to their full potential. This is what government is for.

Because I want all of us to vote, not just those who feel their side will win, and I want voting protections for all Americans.

Because I want our government to be accountable to the people, and not to have leaders who take every advantage to get richer themselves or stay in power at the expense of the rest of us.

Because Black Lives Matter, and this institutionalized racism must stop. There are no acceptable excuses.

Because I want our environment and national parks and natural resources to be rigorously protected for all Americans. I want America to value and support science and scientists, for they are pushing our society forward.

Because I want us as a nation to address climate change with enthusiasm and gustobecause our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it. I want America to cooperate with scientists and innovators and reformers all over the world to tackle this global problem.

Because I want women and girls everywhere to have equal rights, access to health care, education, opportunity, and reproductive freedom. I want women to be able to move through their lives in safety and without fear of suffering discrimination, injustice, rape, or any other personal or systematic violence.

Because I want to address our national problems of health care access, education gaps, income inequality, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, lack of clean air/water/food, so we glorious humans can get on with the better work of creating art and expanding opportunity, bettering society, and making contributions to science, knowledge, medicine, culture.

Because my sisters and I are dying of a thousand cuts.

I marched because I’m raising two feminist sons, and I want them to see the world for what it is, and to imagine how much better it will be when we all have equality.

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And if you’ve been here before and are now thinking this is not my typical post. Well, I gotta say. It’s going to be more typical in the future. I am absolutely infuriated at our new president and everything he represents. He and his cronies are the antithesis of my core values. I will not be silent. I will put my money to work for my ideals as best I can. I will march and march and march. And I will vote.

Robet Kennedy Ripples of Hope

#womensrightsarehumanrights, #thankyouhillary, #pussypower, #nastywoman, #feminism, #resist

Garden Mandalas

Garden Mandala No. 41 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #geranium #mallow #plum #locust #azalea #cross #square #quadrants

I’ve been making mandalas from flowers and leaves since February 23. It has become my meditation, my art project. It’s how I’m dealing with stress and anxiety. I am a huge fan of land art, ephemeral artworks made of natural, found materials and installed in natural spaces. This is my own little contribution to the art form. I love flowers and used to be a florist, so it seems to fit.

Garden Mandala No. 44 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #waldorfhome #ephemeral #roses #lavender

I am using primarily materials from my own garden and yard. Occasionally, when in a wild place or undeveloped lot, I will pick some wildflowers to use, but only if they are totally plentiful. I’ve made mandalas in my parents’ yard and in my in-laws’ yard, using their plants and flowers. I’m not buying cut flowers for this project, it’s just what I can glean.

Garden Mandala No. 38 Every day there's something new to use. #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenartflowers #square #cinquefoil #locust #lantana #roses #petals #leaves #catkins

It seems that every few days a new plant is blooming, making its flowers or pretty leaves available to my art. I don’t want to denude anything, of course—I grow my garden so that it’s beautiful and pleasant to be in—so I only take bits that are abundant. I carefully consider whether I can spare the flowers.

Garden Mandala No. 36 Office park landscaping and riverside wildflowers #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #star #starofdavid #thistle #wildflowers #waldorfhome #weeds

There’s a kind of sacred geometry to these, I think, as is so with all mandalas. I enjoy playing with forms. Each mandala has something wrong with it, a kind of wabi-sabi element. Somehow, this delights me. Even though I really do try to make them symmetrical and geometrical and “right.” Tiny pieces sometimes move out of place. Usually I don’t see their flaws until after I’ve taken the photo and walked away, or the wind has moved all the bits around and destroyed the pattern. Then I take a deep breath and decide to love the mandala anyway.

Garden Mandala No. 34 It's such a beautiful day! Happy Friday, friends! #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #mallow #flowerstagram #azalea #periwinkle #oxialis #grass #japanesemaple #gardenart #ephemeral

Some mandalas are simple and some are complicated. I’m enjoying exploring shapes and textures, as well as colors and all their myriad combinations. Sometimes I use bare ground or my lawn as the background. Other times I’ll find a place under a tree where there’s bark or needles. I think the background contributes to the overall feeling of each mandala. So far, every one of them is unique in many ways.

Garden Mandala No. 30 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #triangle #flowerstagram #roses #calendula

The wind is my enemy when designing a piece. Various sun versus shadow conditions can also be tricky, I’ve learned. Time of day matters, too. If it’s too late in the evening, I find my photo isn’t as nice because of low light. If the day has bright, bright sun, I often can’t tell by looking at my viewfinder if my photo has captured it properly. After taking shots, I play with the brightness, saturation, shadows, and other elements of the photo to try to pull out the best qualities of each mandala. I’m no whiz at postproduction, but I get in there and mess about anyway.

Good morning! Garden Mandala No. 2

Even if I’m using many flowers of the same type, or many leaves from the same tree or bush, each one is different. I like that these same-element groups don’t always behave the same, or look quite the same, or have the same size, color, or texture, but when viewed as a whole, sort of cooperate and can be taken together.

I think most of all, what I like about making these is that they make me happy. They’re little earthy prayers of my own making, arising from my wild mind and creative soul though the work of my hands, arranging materials that delight me. They are quieting, when my mind is racing. My mandalas give me a moment to stop everything, take a few moments outside, and make something beautiful, even if it lasts only a little while.

Garden Mandala No. 43 Friday I'm in LOVE #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #locust #plum #daylily #heart #mandalaart #ephemeral

I also love that they make other people happy. So, dear friends, thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I think I’ll keep making my garden mandalas for a while longer.

Beauty Way

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In Beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With Beauty may I walk.
With Beauty before me, may I walk.
With Beauty behind me, may I walk.
With Beauty above me, may I walk.
With Beauty below me, may I walk.
With Beauty all around me, may I walk.
With Beauty within me, may I walk.

 

Giving Thanks

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Thanksgiving
THANK YOU
for all my hands can hold—
apples red,
and melons gold,
yellow corn
both ripe and sweet,
peas and beans
so good to eat!

THANK YOU
for all my eyes can see—
lovely sunlight,
field and tree,
white cloud-boats
in sea-deep sky,
soaring bird
and butterfly.

THANK YOU
for all my ears can hear—
birds’ song echoing
far and near,
songs of little
stream, big sea,
cricket, bullfrog,
duck and bee!
—Ivy O. Eastwick

 

To my parents, thank you for all the unflagging faith, love, friendship, and for all you do to support me and my family, even still, even though I’m 42.

To my brother, thank you for being so steadfast, and for opening up.

To my in-laws, thank you for the love and comfort, for your respect, for the constant love you flow to my children.

To my sons, thank you for so much joy and inspiration, for being so resilient when we mess up, for shining your pure and perfect light into our lives, and for loving us completely.

To my friends, who are legion, near and far, thank you for the laughs, adventures, trust, time, attention, caring, honesty, support, forgiveness, courage, vulnerability, strength, creativity, madness, and dreams.

To my husband, who is my whole heart, my earth, my home, and my fire, who teaches, scrubs, weeps, strives, laughs, heals, parents, and sleeps beside me, thank you for everything you are and for loving me.

I am blessed beyond deserving, beyond measure. And I am grateful.

 

Love is …

* An extra much-needed day of work, and appreciation for a job well done
* A mom friend who takes my boys home with her children and feeds them
* Parents (kids’ grandparents) who arrive home, safe and rested, from their vacation
* Delivering the requested milk and bread, and turning on the heat in the house 12 hours before they get home
* Shark tooth necklaces and sea salt seasonings from Hawaii
* An assistant basketball coach/dad turned coach, who is passionate about teaching, connected, and dedicated to helping our boys get the most out of their season
* A little boy who writes his own game books
* Friends who run with you, even if you’re slow
* Friends who hike six beautiful miles with you, and let you cover even more territory in conversation
* Visiting friends from out of town who don’t mind either sleeping bag or early-morning boy bounces
* Blueberry muffins from scratch, because someone small asked for them
* Big boys who need and ask for an extra cuddle at night to help them fall asleep
* Friday night fish tacos à la Daddy
* Friends who take you to places in your hometown’s backyard that you’ve never seen before
* Grandmas who take boys to school and pick boys up from school
* Watching my son and his friends/teammates win a basketball game
* Helping friends with their farm-to-fork movie contest
* Date night featuring a sushi gift card and The Hobbit.

Sixth Birthday Gift: Lord of the Rings Peg Dolls

Before

My little guy turns 6 in a few days. I’ve been making gifts and planning his party. Here’s a sneak-peek of one gift I’ve made. Shhh! Don’t tell him.

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Guess

Fellowship

Do you recognize the characters? I’ve painted a set of nine peg dolls to look like the Fellowship of the Ring characters. Gandalf’s hat is made out of sculpey clay. He just didn’t look like Gandalf to me without a hat. I’m pretty happy with these. I need to do a bit of touch up work and then varnish them. Think I should make Gollum, too? I think I might, if I have time.

Another day this week, I’ll share the another gift I’ve been working on.

January Sunsets

1/7/13 sunset

My eyes are trained to the sky these days. I eagerly await these pretty winter sunsets.

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They can be quite spectacular, I find. In the winter we get some beautiful cloud cover, so the sunsets are wonderful.

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Sometimes I catch them with my camera. I rush to the end of my street, where we have a big school field.

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Or I shoot from my doorstep. To me, these moments are peaceful and promising. If you are patient, you get to see a whole story of color unfold before your eyes. It’s like a reward at the end of the livelong day, if you take the time to notice it.

Yesterday evening

Sometimes I pull my car over to take a photo. My kids think I’m nutty but it’s worth it.

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I love this one I took at my parents’ house. Their daffodils are coming up, so spring is on its way. Just thought you might like/need to know.

Seven Days of Increasing Kindness

“Kind hearts are the gardens, Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits, Take care of your garden And keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine, Kind words and kind deeds.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Do you ever get crabby or short-tempered? I do. Sometimes I have to work hard to be my best self. Kindness in everyday interactions makes pretty much every situation better. We can make kindness even more reflexive by taking some time to work on it.

Day 1: Set Your Intention

California Central Valley

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” —Albert Schweitzer

First, you have to want to embrace kindness. Maybe kindness is already part of your spiritual beliefs or religious practice. Or perhaps no one has ever put it to you that living virtuously is largely a matter of being kind to others. If you’re ready to embark on this little seven-day experiment, sit for a moment with yourself and commit to it. Over the course of this week, you will endeavor to keep kindness in the forefront of your mind. You will do your best to notice kindness, engage in it, share it with others, and give thanks for it. Read ahead on this first day, if you wish. Know what you’re getting into. Really, you do this stuff already, so relax and set your intention. Making a mindful practice of kindness will be simple and rewarding.

Day 2: Plan Your Kindness

Daddy Helps

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” —Dalai Lama

Just as you write out the week’s grocery list or daily tasks, you can plan kindness into your life. I believe you already do this, but you’re perhaps not aware of it. Every time you agree to pick up your girlfriend’s kids from school, take your Mom to tea, pack your child’s lunch, or iron a shirt you are being kind. Those everyday kindnesses are wonderful and important. Chances are, they shape your days. With just a little more mindfulness, however, you can plan something extra—some out-of-the-ordinary kindness—into your week that could really mean the world to someone. So get out your calendar. What things have you been meaning to do lately? Who has been in your thoughts or your dreams? What can you say or do to touch their lives this week?

Day 3: Think Kind Thoughts

Lucas Love

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” —Lao Tzu

Think for a few minutes today about your family members and pay attention to all the things you appreciate about them. Overlook failings or hurts and focus on the good stuff. What do you wish for these beloveds today, this week, or this year? What good do you hope for them? Now expand your kind thoughts to include friends, coworkers, students, acquaintances, etc. Think of the people who are facing challenges, ill health, or difficult change. Imagine all the kind things you would like to say to them or do to help them. Think about the wonderful communities to which you belong. This next part is harder: Think of people you usually do not like or with whom you have difficulty getting along. Think kind thoughts about them; find something you appreciate in the situation. There’s always something. You’ll find it.

Day 4: Say Kind Words

Rainbow of Handmade Quills

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” —Blaise Pascal

Some days pass by without our paying much attention to what we say, especially when we are busy. We show our love and concern for others (or lack of it) in our choice of words and our tone of voice. All people deserve respectful, kind words. You might be surprised to observe you’re always polite to the restaurant server, but sometimes are snappish or dismissive to those you love most in the world. Take a deep breath and allow the kindness of your heart to ride forth on your words. Here are some ideas for cultivating kindness in what you say: Greet your family after sleeping or an absence. Smile. Tell them how happy you are to be with them again. Call a friend or elderly person on the phone. Say that you were thinking of them and wanted to hear their voice. Ask them how they are. Give compliments as often as possible. Write a letter or an email. A handwritten letter these days can have a tremendous impact, so take out your stationary and write. Show your appreciation for the help you receive by saying thank you. You’ll melt when you see your child’s smile after you say those blessed words.

Day 5: Do Kind Deeds

Pumpkin Rye Bread Rising

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” —William Wordsworth

This one is easy. You do kind deeds every day! And now that you’ve been thinking a lot about kindness you probably have many new ideas of kind things you can do for others. Pay for someone’s food or toll. Help someone with a chore. Make a favorite meal. Volunteer. Teach someone something they need to know. Save someone some time or effort by taking on a task and lightening their load. Share what you have with someone who has none. Give a gentle, healing touch or a hug. Make something especially for someone, personalizing it and pouring your kindness into the gift. The possibilities are endless, and the joy that results from kind deeds is sublime.

Day 6: Make Kind Wishes

Morning Walk to Preschool

“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” —Mother Teresa

You may be accustomed to meditation or prayer in which you send out your love to others. You may already say blessings at mealtimes that express your care and concern for humanity and the health of our planet. This is your kindness spreading to all beings, to all corners of the earth. Even if this feels alien or uncomfortable, try it. Think of all the good you’d like to exist in the world: peace, sufficient food and resources, sustainable living, the end of human rights abuses, the end of horrible violence and murder, love and support for the world’s children, education for all. Wish it for all our sakes. Let your kindness radiate from your heart into the universe. Let your kindness waft on the breeze to all beings everywhere.

Day 7: Reflect on Kindness

Asher's Bouquet

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” —George Washington Carver

You are here because of the kindness of others. In your life, you have received a million small acts of kindness, gifts, boons, words of encouragement, and good wishes. Adopting a reflective attitude about this can lead to a deep sense of gratitude. When you truly appreciate the gifts of your life, you will give to others in turn with intention and generosity. So, make a list. Take a few minutes and start writing down the names of people who have been kind to you. You will most likely immediately write the names of your partner, your parents, and your children. After you get through all of the obvious ones, you will expand your awareness of all the people who do or say kind things for you: your boss, your coworkers, your child’s teacher, your grocery clerk, the librarian at your elementary school when you were a child. Before long, you’ll have a list of names a mile long. Now, don’t you feel supported and cherished? How have you benefited from these kindnesses? I’m sure that’s a long list, too.

Finally, reflect on your week of increasing kindness and know that others noticed and benefited. You touched lives with your many kindnesses. How do you feel? Now notice how you yourself have benefited from your kindness experiment. Know also that you have modeled a beautiful way of being to your children and others.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” —Amelia Earhart

Here

My view for the last several days

It is nearing the end of winter vacation. I am grateful for the good weather. The boys are playing outside. Asher is “painting” the window with a paintbrush and what I hope is water. Lucas is bouncing on a pogo stick. It’s a ka-chuncka-sqeak sound, over and over. Neighbor kids are in the play house.

Later I peek out and see Lucas cracking ice in the birdbath. A wave of noise floods the backyard when they tumble through the gate, then trickles out again as they move to the street in front of the house.

Some construction or demolition is happening nearby. I can hear the drone of heavy machinery doing work. The soundtrack in the house is the drone of the dryer, which I believe is trying to die.

Now I hear the boys playing stick wars outside, dueling it out with found tree branches, with smaller sticks-as-daggers stabbed through belt loops. They can never have too many stick weapons. I worry about their constant war games. But I have long since learned that I can sooner stop the moon from fattening than I can stop their games. To me they are frighteningly fierce. The boys ignore my pleas to play nicely. I am frequently told to chill out. At the present moment, I am grateful that their bickering and battling is taking place outside our home and not in it. There have been far too many arguments these last few days. Alas, it’s almost dark now and they will come galumphing in the front door soon.

I have all manner of things I want to be doing. My mind is full of chattering thoughts. I sit here, trying to refocus on what I have to do, telling myself to just be. I cannot to all. The. Things. I can only do one thing at a time (plus keep the clothes washer and dryer going).

Back to the editing. I tell myself that I can have a reward when I reach the end of this chapter. I can check Facebook, or write a few words here. I have already rewarded myself several times today with breakfast (after some work), with a shower (after some work). That’s how I roll, how I work alone year after year and stay motivated. Some days—especially dull days—I even break out teeth brushing as a separate reward for slogging through. “Want oral hygiene? Finish this chapter!” Hear the whip crack?

So, in the back of my mind, while I edit fantasy wars for couch-ridden adventurers with thumbs, I am kinda planning out some goals for myself, for this blog, for my work. I had a little time today to lift my head and look up, while the boys were away with grandma. I put a few events on the calendar. It seems that on 1/3 I am able to finally begin my new year.

Well, that’s where I am. Here.

 

 

Care

Morning Light at Grandma's House

I spent some time caring for my grandmother today. It’s a long story, but her usual caregivers were temporarily unavailable and my dad asked me to step in and help. At first I was annoyed. I’m very busy with work right now and I’m facing multiple deadlines. I agreed to do it because—obviously—it is the right thing to do; nevertheless I was feeling put out. Even though I am never asked to do this.

Now I am so glad I did.

Beloved Grandma

This is my beautiful grandmother. She is 93 years old. I love her very much.

It is hard to see people you love changing as they age, changing noticeably each time you see them. I don’t like it. I am inexperienced when it comes to being around and caring for elderly people. I was scared to be in charge of her well-being.

It was fine. It was easy, thanks to my dad and others who have this territory all mapped out already. I just had to follow some simple instructions and all the difficult stuff was done when I arrived. I am grateful that grandma took her medications so easily at my request—that was part of what I was worried about.

I wandered a little while I was there, trying hard to notice things about her—about her home, about her likes and loves, her collections, her style.

Treasures

There are careful touches in every nook, beloved items placed with intention.

Colorful Glass

The marks of her hand and her sister’s hand, Nana, with whom my grandmother lived for most of her life, are everywhere.

Just So

Photographs of family members cover walls, bookshelves, and tabletops. Paintings and prints, delicate wallpaper, rich drapes decorate the space. Beautiful light is everywhere. Everything is just so.

But that’s not all I noticed, while I was there. It’s not only my grandmother’s careful hand I see. I see my father’s, my uncle’s, and my aunt’s—they are part of her world every day, ensuring that she is OK, makes it to doctor appointments, and has company. They stay with her when her caregivers are away, do the shopping, and much more.

I see it in a hundred gifts given with love over the years.

Carnations at Grandma's House

The evidence of caring is all around, especially in the fact that my grandmother is still living in her home, despite her age and infirmities. It’s in the American flag that’s hanging on the house, just as it has done every July of my grandmother’s life. Someone put it there for her. It’s in the tiny china dish, fashioned in the shape of a teapot and painted with flowers, that holds her daily medications for after breakfast. It’s in the coffee, water, and orange juice that are served to her in the morning, and in the fact that they let her put syrup on her frosted danish. It’s in the special, mechanical chair that she sits in to watch her game shows. It’s in the living orchids and other houseplants that someone carefully waters. Fresh carnations sit in a vase on the dining table. Her pale yellow socks matched her pale yellow outfit, even though she cannot dress herself. I see it in her hairdo, which is set faithfully every week, and in her manicured nails.

None of this is easy, this maintenance that is done to keep her well and comfortable. I am full of wonder and gratitude, and not a little sadness.

Life is full of mighty lessons these days. I am trying hard to learn them.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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