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Welcome

I am first and foremost, a visual artist with a bit of talent for writing, a penchant for studying classical ballet and a strong desire to bring all together in this blog—Dancing Forward—a personal journal I share with you.

Each of my preceding blogs: Called by Name, Drawing Sacred Circles and Genesis Continuum, were forums serving times past. The aftermath of the 2016 election is creating a somewhat volatile and highly uncertain era in which to live out my seventh and eighth decades. Dancing Forward will allow me a voice to not only publish commentary, but with candor, wit and beauty, share the things in life that are meaningful to me.

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Politics

The Personal Is Political

It has come to my attention, that some people dismiss political blog posts as merely personally therapeutic—without merit beyond the writer’s immediate need to unburden, unload, debrief. It’s been suggested that postings like my last: Dear Donald Trump, don’t change anything.

The wheels of political change move very slowly. Had the anti-war and civil rights rallies, marches and sit-ins not happened—had people not expressed themselves (often with deadly results), where might we be now fifty years later? We are learning that the prolonging of the Viet Nam war had much to do with neither Johnson, nor Nixon wanting to be known as having lost that war. We are understanding that Watergate was a collusive cover up of information that would have revealed Nixon’s treasonous road to the presidency; that his pardon by Gerald Ford changed the course of politics in this country forever. We are living that change.

Had people been more informed, how different might it today look?

This is the age of information overload. It comes in many forms. Some are stopped in their tracks with it all and want explanation. Some are stopped in their throats and want to breathe again. Once we understand and breathe, personal bloggers like me write to communicate—to connect, unify. We say what we do and send it out. Sometimes it connects and allows another to have a voice as well. When a reader writes: Well said, thank you, connection has been made. It is one link in a chain that might grow. It takes time.

Speaking for myself: I do not write for therapy. Participating in countless political avenues of resistance would be far more therapeutic. It takes time and energy to write an authentic piece that may or may not speak for unknown others. This is my work…one of the things I do and it is taking a chance every time.

The personal is political.

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Uncategorized

Dear Donald Trump

When I started this blog in my mid seventies, my intent was to dance forward—age gracefully into the nighttime of my life. I was just a little older than you are now. Barak Obama, a black democrat, was our president. Hillary Clinton, a democrat was our Secretary of State. The congress was turning cartwheels over this and soon gave birth to the nefarious Tea Party, an ultra conservative, backlash with racist/misogynist undertones. Once you claimed the oval office, leaned back, put your two feet on the desk and started signing meaningless executive orders, in huge self-important script, the tea partiers became the Alt-Right, as though two rights couldn’t make a wrong.

I had been fairly unconcerned about the inner workings of politics until the shock of the elections results hit me on the morning of November 9, 2016. Every thing changed after that. At first I was dedicated to activism, paid attention, learned a lot and participated in the resistance movement. The more I learned the more I needed to learn, because what was happening in your White House, your Congress your Supreme Court, the Republican Party of Trump was not the United States Government, with the constitutional checks and balances so essential to a healthy democracy. You and your kleptocrat comrades were surgically removing and throwing aside as much as you could get away with—drop-by-drop. I watched the eroding of the government by the self-centered, morally bankrupt cadre until I couldn’t stand the sight of any of it, and especially you, any longer.

I used to ask how this new, not normal America happened. I don’t ask anymore. It started decades ago in a small snowball that rolled along, picking up detritus as it went, and getting bigger and bigger. Then, when it began to crescendo in the Bush/Cheney regime, Barak Obama entered with his message of unity and hope. The American people chose to set aside racism and elected the elegantly brilliant, empathic, Obama. From that moment on the big snowball filled with detritus as the Rich-Right swung into action, buoyed by the Righteous-Right. You, more than anyone, knows that money talks and most everyone can be bought somewhere down the line. And so they were, and so they continue to be.

You claim to be a Christian. I know you are not. Most of what comes out of your mouth is a lie, but harken to this from 1 Timothy 6:10:

The love of money is the root of all evil, which when coveted after, erodes faith, and pierces through with sorrow.

The New Testament book of Timothy is very small, you probably just missed it. It’s way in the back…just a few pages between Thessalonians and Second Timothy. Easy to miss, but the religious right should know this by heart, unless they are just carrying their Bibles to church and not really reading them. Oh well, apparently memory fails when needs be.

I have tried to return to the original purpose of this blog…to Dance Forward through the aging process with grace and purpose, but I am so often stunned into the middle rooms of silence, worry and regret, that I lose the creative thread needed to speak, dance or sing.

It will take several decades and many good, courageous people to right this badly damaged ship. I will not see restoration in my lifetime and that makes me so incredibly sad. Tears stop at my eyelids; words stop in my throat. This is not what my generation was promised. This is not my America. My America was already great even with its flaws and guffaws. You, Donald Trump, have trampled on the majority of American citizens and clawed at those hoping desperately to be remain in this land of the free, home of the brave. You, Donald Trump, are the most cowardly abusive traitor this country has ever known.

I believe:

• You are at your core, a majorly successful con artist, hustler—a flim-flam man, nothing more, nothing less.

• You know this about yourself, but are distanced from the knowledge, and the distancing leaves a void in the center where faith, hope, trust should be.

• You have a void that is a huge black hole that nothing can fill, not money, not power, not friends or family…not even the presidency.

• You know all this for seconds at a time, but you lack the personal courage it takes to look, see, embrace and change.

• You have inherited some faulty DNA that prevents your brain from evolving past that of an 8 year-old.

• You cannot change…will never change. You have created your own non-being nightmare of narcissism.

• You are without empathy—one of the essential rudiments for sharing life with others on this planet.

• You engage in delusional fantasies more often than not, calculated to protect yourself from paranoid fears, real and imagined.

• You have elevated lying to a high art. It is your principle and language of choice. Perhaps it began as a childhood game of survival, but now it’s just who you are: a pathological liar.

• You are not a danger to yourself, but you are a toxic danger to anyone who causes you to fear exposure to yourself, as well as to the public.

• You are ruthless in your dedication to self-preservation and self-enhancement. You will throw anyone under the bus that gets in your way…even family members.

• You are fabulous at reading the room and knowing where the marks and the shills are. In another life you would have been traveling through Europe in a circus caravan—the chief and the hawk.

I could go on, but I’m tired now and ready to put you back in your little black box until next breaking news circuit.

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Chaos, Politics, Presidential Election, Resistance, United States of America

The Empty Oval Office

As I write this, Sunday, October 8th, we are 260 days into the irrelevant presidency of Donald J. Trump. Note that I use the word, irrelevant. When speaking of the highest office in the land, it is a powerful push-back to the cunning, arrogant braggadocio of the most ignorant, malevolent, salacious con man ever to have been elected to that office.

I first saw the term used in print just a week ago in relation to Mr. Trump, on September 30, in a Facebook posting by Robert Reich. The piece began: “Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States. Oh sure, he has the title and he has the bully pulpit – from which he’s bullying everyone from NBA players to people protesting white supremacists to DACA kids. But he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening elsewhere – in Congress, the courts, the Fed, the career civil service, lobbyists, and in the states. Or it’s not happening at all.”

It was re-posted on October 1st by Daily Kos: Announcement: Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States and again by Raw Story: Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States: Robert Reich. It is something of a manifesto against the mounting anxiety his actions are creating in those of us enduring the interminable waiting for the checks and balances of our democracy to take hold. We have a foreign power influencing our political system for wealth and power; a political party paralyzed in a presumed overflow of wealth and power, and another party struggling to find a unified path forward. In the middle of this is a man of prepubescent maturation—a danger to himself, his country, the world.

You can read the original robertreich.org posting in its entirety here and follow Inequality For All on Facebook.

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“ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock”, “The Work of Nations,” and “Beyond Outrage,” and, his most recent, “Saving Capitalism.” He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, INEQUALITY FOR ALL. ”

 

 

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Chaos, new not normal, Pacifism, Politics

What is happening?

What is happening has been the fevered query of my mind and heart lately, coming to a fevered pitch with the Las Vegas mass murders and maimings, following closely on the heels of the callous, presidential response to the devastation in Puerto Rico; all of this against a backdrop of political chaos and the very real possibility of nuclear war with North Korea. We are a country in backlash—divided and fearful. We are first-timers to this degree of peril. Our America is changing quickly, but it didn’t happen overnight. It’s been decades in the making. We are in mourning for times that never really were.

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear

Because members of my family suffered in the Armenian massacres of the 1890s and the Genocide of 1915-17, WWII and the succeeding years of the 1940s, went deep into the formation of my character as I was growing up. Communist paranoia in the 1950s and 60s found fertile soil in most Americans. I was no different until, through personal circumstances, I found myself taking a stand against the war in Viet Nam.

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

I’ve been—and not been—a pacifist since 1967 when I met two conscientious objectors to the war in Vietnam. Neither of these boys had real stories to tell. Amerikan Dream Poster 1967Their emotional character said it all to me, or so I thought. I was a young, single parent with a story of my own that somehow connected. I joined a poster alliance, attended rallies and meetings with baby daughter in tow. I thought I knew something, until I didn’t and spent the next eight years in an intentional Christian community, where pacifism was one of the laid down, bare values, not a just a protest movement in time and place. I became a pacifist there without really knowing what it meant on the world stage. Several decades and personal losses later, the reality of a pacifist stance took on more and more consequence, until I could no longer claim it with authenticity

There’s battle lines being drawn
Everybody look what’s going down

As the news of the Las Vegas massacre hit the news like one more punch in the gut of normalcy, I remembered my long ago anti-war poster, but couldn’t help visualizing the barrel of a gun pointed at me.

What I felt in that moment was deadly awe and immobilizing fear. I could feel the cold reality of a weapon of war whether 100 feet away or Gun Control Poster 3thousands of feet away and knew that thoughts and prayers could never be enough to stop the terrorist madness. I reworked the poster as an act of realization and as I did so, I kept hearing Buffalo Springfield’s, For What It’s Worth and I just kept asking, what’s happening here to our lives, to the world—and how long is it going to take for the pot to boil over and the contents spill out to be remade and molded into a just society?

 

The quotes in this posting excerpted from the song, For What It’s Worth, by Steven Stills, 1967, performed and recorded by Buffalo Springfield.

For the story behind For What It’s Worth, by Steven Stills

For Buffalo Springfield’s YouTube performance of For What It’s Worth lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

 

 

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Uncategorized

The World Will Split Open

Yes, Hecate Demeter, you have said it well! And the saying makes me all at once glad and sickened. One day we, who are afraid men will kill and who men are afraid will laugh at them, will reach critical mass. I will be long gone, but my spirit will hover in the atmosphere along with the tens of thousands of other women who dared to dream of being all that they can be.

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In the poem, Kathe Kollwitz, Muriel Rukeyser wrote:

What would happen if one woman told the truth about
        her life?
     The world would split open.
With the publication this week of Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened, we see that Muriel Rukeyser was right.
     One of the perpetual criticisms of Hillary Clinton has been that she’s “inauthentic.”  The implication is that she’s presenting a front, that she’s not really the polite, sensible, pragmatic, public servant who’s devoted her life to improving conditions for women and families all over the world.  No, she must be faking it.  Underneath the practiced demeanor, she’s really scheming, too ambitious, too cut-throat.  Why, even her marriage must be “political,” and that explains why she didn’t leave her husband after he had an affair.  When she smiles or stays calm under pressure, that’s just an act.  If you knew the “real”…

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Misogyny, Politics, Resistance

It Wasn’t Just Russian Interference

Shell shocked after seven months of Trump’s presidency, appalled in particular at his equivocating remarks defending racists after the disgrace of Charlottesville, we still struggle to understand how we got here. Roxane Gay’s NYT op-ed Hate That Doesn’t Hide states what so many of us feel: “Angry white men holding tiki torches and shouting their…

via Media’s Hillary-Hate and Trump-Coddling Were Weapons To Silence Women —

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Aging, Ballet, Chaos, Politics, Resistance, United States of America

It’s Never Too Late to Dance

I would so like to move on…dance forward, share with you the wonders of learning to dance at any and all ages. But each time I take a restorative leave of absence from the constant anxiety-producing breaking news to do this, I am thrown backward. Every day is becoming a breaking news day. Anxiety—domestic and international—increases exponentially, eroding bodily health on every level. I cannot keep up. As a cancer survivor well into my 7th decade, I have had to repeatedly take a leave of absence to restore equilibrium to my body, mind and heart. Each time I get a period of remove and try to write, a new and horrifying event, emanating from this administration, occurs. This white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, lacking proper condemnation by the president of the land of the free, the home of the brave, is the latest.

Katherine Fritz has covered the catastrophe nicely in her blog post: My fellow white Americans (August 12, 2017), as does Julius Goat on Twitter.

This is only the following first day…there will be many more speaking out, both private citizens and public officials. But when will it end and how will it end? With age comes experience and sometimes, even wisdom. Those of us who have lived a long time and seen a lot, know that this is domestic terrorism borne of fear carried by hate, not some random event by factions easily ignored. To some extent this latest event has been sanctioned by this president, his administration and by proxy, the alt-right republicans too fearful of personal consequences to do the right thing. What would that right thing be? Wake up. Stand up. Clean up and impeach now before we end up in world war III, one that will have no true winners.

And with that said… I will try to launch my never too late message:

If you’ve always loved ballet or any form of dance and wished you’d grown up dancing, let me say clearly… It’s never too late to learn to dance. I began ballet as a rank beginner 4 years ago at 74. I take 4 classes a week, not out of a latent desire to be a ballerina, but because ballet:

  • artfully forms connections with all of my abilities,
  • frees me for a while from the anxiety of this current state of unhappy affairs,
  • keeps me sane, gives me purpose and keeps me whole.

Dancing is music, art, movement, theater… it requires nothing more than a willingness to be in our bodies as we were when we were children. Dancing increases the neuroplasticity of the brain. The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a 21 year study of brain neuroplasticity in senior citizens 75 years and older. In that study dancing stood out, producing a possible 76% reduction from the risk of dementia.

“People who dance regularly have greater cognitive reserves and an increased complexity of neuronal synapses”, explained neurologist Dr. Robert Katzmann. Conclusion: Dancing may cause the brain to continually rewire its neural pathways and by doing so help with neuroplasticity. (5 Things That Will Happen To Your Brain When You Dance, by Rebecca Beris.)

Adult beginner classes are springing up all over the country. Look for one near you. Observe a class… try it and see.

This is a frame from Let Me Dance, by Justin Owen, a film about ballet classes for older women. Take a look/see, you will be uplifted.

Note: The women in this film have a website: http://my-ballet.uk and a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MyBalletUK/

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