REMAINING HOPEFUL #ORGANIZED ACTION

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My Dear Readers,

Like many of you, I was disheartened by Tuesday’s election results. I was depressed and felt that I had woken up from a bad dream, in a world I was no longer familiar with.  I like many, felt that the Trump coalition was a tiny voice expressing the worst of our country.  There was no way, in my America, that he would be elected president. But he was.

Like in all tales of good vs. evil, in order to understand  the power of evil, you must experience it.   I guess that is what will happen to us as Americans.  From my view point as a an African American female who has two black sons, I am fearful and yet I remain hopeful.  I was glad to see that 90 percent of African American females had voted for Hillary.  I was disappointed that more than 53% of white females voted for Donald Trump. I am sure they have their reasons, and at a moment when my heart is not so raw, I will perhaps comprehend their actions. I am disappointed that many of my fellow Democrats failed to come out to vote.

I was happy to see that half the nation, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation voted for Hillary.  I was encouraged that many young people between the ages of 18-25 voted for Hillary. I believe that these young people will save the world including our bloated Boomer Generation where many of  us feel that we have been left behind or have failed to keep up and therefore were left behind.

I for one, know that this is not the time to give up. Hillary Clinton may be a lost cause. Perhaps she was the right candidate at the wrong time or the wrong candidate for this time. We will never know. Hopefully, Mrs. Clinton will continue to serve our country in some manner.  Although, many thought she was deeply flawed and was dishonest, I do not believe that many of us could withstand public scrutiny over 30 years,as she has. I know I would have failed.

Over the next two months, I will prepare for my book tour. While I hope to sell books, I want to bring compassion and understanding and education about addiction. For many, addiction has been a moral issue rather than a physical or mental one. Thankfully, medicine and science has advanced to realize that some of us are just genetically pre-disposed to addiction. But more than that, I want people to know that less people would become addicted if they believed their was as social network to support them.

I understand this is a loaded statement. What is a social network? It is people who care and who are emotionally invested in us.  You will ask, “Isn’t this a contradiction to people being genetically predisposed to addiction?” Not really.  A predisposition for addiction, does not guarantee addiction, it only makes it more likely under stress our trauma.

My second point,  that I would like to communicate when I speak on this subject is that there are many kinds of trauma and that poverty is one of them. This statement brings me  back to why I must continue to work and to work quickly, efficiently and tirelessly. With the current administration in place, I fear that many more millions will fall into poverty and they will not have the resources to help.  I fear a America who does not care about health care or addiction or people who do not fit into a narrow neat box.

I will continue to believe and act with ideals of America. I hope you will too.

With light and love,

 

Briana S. Clark,

Your Fellow Journeyer

 

Forgiving the Unforgivable

 

forgiving-othersMy Dear Readers,

No, its not about erasing what happened. There is much more. I cannot give you details about what is on my heart today because what troubles me is the accusation against a man that I know who is accused of raping his 14 year old daughter. I cannot tell you more than this because, to do so would easily allow the curious to find out who he is and possibly cause him greater shame, pain and fear.

The accusation puts me in a strange position. I was a victim of incestuous rape when I was 12 years old. Nobody believed me and my father never went to jail or was ever held accountable for his actions. I believe that after he raped me he harmed other members of my family.  My father is not  here to defend himself and he leaves behind a wife  and other children who are remain conflicted about my story and whether to believe me.  Now, I have come face to face with a man accused of the same crime that occurred to me decades ago. What I find ironic is that many years after my rape occurred, I have stood in the shoes of a man afraid that he will go to jail for a crime he says he did not commit and I  believe him.

Besides trying to help him obtain better legal representation my advice to this man is to find a place in his heart to forgive his daughter. Whether she is lying or telling the truth, this young woman has been traumatized and needs healing.

My friend says that he does not feel animosity towards his daughter or the child’s mother. My friend says that he has put them out of his mind, that he does not think of them- that they are dead to him.

I tell him that he must find a place to forgive her, she is after all his own flesh and blood. He says he cannot find a path to forgiveness when  “the gun” is still pointed to his head- meaning his up coming trial.

I know that forgiveness is very hard, but it is something that the forgiver does for himself.  In trying to convince my friend to forgive his daughter, I believe it will help if I list some basic misconceptions about forgiveness:

  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are pardoning or excusing the other person’s actions.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean you need to tell the person that he or she is forgiven.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any more feelings about the situation.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean there is nothing further to work out in the relationship or that everything is okay now.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean you should forget the incident ever happened.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to continue to include the person in your life.
  • … and forgiveness isn’t something you do for the other person.

The other thing that I need to tell him is that forgiving someone is a decision that he will have to affirmatively make each time his thoughts or emotions reflect on what is happening or has happened. It is a choice that he must make over and over.  Also, I must tell him that he cannot forgive his daughter until he has expressed all of his hurt, pain and anger.

I have told my friend that when  his daughter decided to lie about what happened to her that she was seeking something from him. The question is what was this flawed child seeking when she chose to accuse her father of this terrible crime? It will be part of his process to answer this question.  I do not know the answer.

Medical professionals tell us that bottled up anger and emotions can  cause physical damage to the body and the mind. Not expressing or trying to subdue one’s feelings could lead to depression and anxiety or to stomach aches, headaches, and a myriad of physical ailments.

I know that forgiving his hard to do. It has taken me years to forgive my father and my complacent mother who did nothing to investigate my claims.  At no-time in my life has either parent said they were sorry for their actions or lack there of.  Yet, each time that I have found it in myself to forgive them there is a sense of peace and serenity and a place of calm beauty that is in opposite to hatred and anger.

Unlike me, my friend does not have decades which he can work on his forgiveness. He has  five months before he must face a jury a take a chance they will believe him and not her.

In my world of forgiveness, I would ask that my friend simply say the words “I forgive you.” whenever his mind lands upon his daughter and the lie he says that she has told.  This lie is such a terrible lie  or this accusation is such a terrible one, that even the hardest of the hardest  can not easily digest that one can rape one’s own child.  After all raping your own child is a horrible action- yet it happens everyday  all over the world.  I know that his words of forgiveness will be empty, but somehow I feel that he should recall the love of his daughter and from this place forgive her.

I fear, that if my friend does not work out the tormented emotions that plague him and which he fights on a daily basis, those emotions will not be able to be hidden- and who knows how a jury might look at a man whose face seems filled with fear. I do not think this is what he wants to feel on the day that he must face his daughter and that she must face him.

Perhaps, my scenario of forgiveness works only in the movies.  Perhaps, it is not easy to be brave and open when one has been accused of  such a crime as he has been- but I know this- he must come to a place of peace about everything before he enters a court of law to be judged by his peers.

I have no easy solution. Forgiveness takes time- or a miracle. My friend does not have time. I am hoping for a miracle that will ease his heart and give him peace. I will say a prayer for both the daughter and the father. Tonight neither of them will likely sleep and dream peaceful thoughts.  Both are hurt and the legal system will not  bring closure or heal the pain for either of them. The only path that I know for him is to forgive her.  That is all I can say to him. I hope, he will find away to forgive her so that he can return to a place of love for her- regardless of  her actions.

I believe in  a world of forgiveness. I believe it is the greatest gift to bestow upon another and simaltaneously one’s self.

In Light and Love,

 

Brianna S. Clark,

Your Fellow Journeyer

 

 

 

 

 

A LOOK BACK ON JEALOUSY AND ENVY

My Dear Readers,

Four years ago, about this time of year, I went into a tailspin caused by my addiction to a man who I thought I was losing to a younger woman. What I had done was drive over to his home unannounced- thinking I would find him with the woman that I feared he was interested in. He was alone and shocked that I had driven to his home.

As a result of what I call a “drive-by” I began to question my understanding of what love was and was not.

The premise of jealousy is that you the jealous person can be replaced. However, we all know at an intellectual level that we are not fungible or replaceable. But tell that to a person in the grips of jealousy. As one author put it “jealousy is like trying to stop a moving car on ice”. The following story  exemplifies a time when I was both envious and jealous.
I was dating a man to whom I was addicted to or some would say that I was codependent with.   My husband had died. I was fearful of being alone. I was scared of living alone. I was afraid that I would not know how to financially take care of myself and that I would end up homeless, man less and on the streets of Baltimore. So to say that myself esteem was missing is an understatement.  The worry of caring for my late husband, who I had idolized both in life and death had worn me out and aged me. I was depressed. I brooded and I had extreme self-loathing of   my aging psychical self. At the same time, I was a pleaser and caretaker that I had always been. Taking care of my dying husband had made me more so.Dave the man who I was dating was the perfect “temporary” guy. . He was a little in awe of me and the kind of man that I felt was “safe.” No one was going to claw their way to get to him.  While I verbally berated Dave, inwardly I was desperately afraid that he would leave me for a younger woman because there was a 7 year age difference between us. Automatic behavior kicked in and I waited on Dave’s every need.  Yet, I did not receive the kind of acknowledgement that I had received from my grateful and dying husband. Dave responded in the way a teenager is pleased with finding himself with a B rated former sex star. The more I catered to Dave, the more I loathed myself and projected that loathing on to him.

So, here’s what happened. It was in mid-October four years ago. Dave had been busy running his small underfunded business. He was swamped and overwhelmed. He and I had not seen each other for a week, which was unusual. He had called every night explaining his absence and for six days I had pretended that his absences were ok. In the meantime, Dave and his single young attractive female colleague with whom he worked had been spotted spending a lot of time together. This caused me suspicion. This young woman who I had always believed to be in love with Dave, was incredibly accomplished and had been honored with the highest honors of her profession.

With a second malicious report of spotting them together reached me and when Dave had not shown up that week, I was at high alarm. I was sure that he had taken up with her. In my madness of jealousy I put together disparate incidences of times that they had been together and I was jealous. I was being replaced by some young nincompoop!

When on the seventh night Dave had begged off, I got into my car and performed a “drive by.” The angry knock on the door was necessary. Dave opened the door and was puzzled.  Hadn’t he just said that he was not feeling well? Why was I there? When I told him my suspicions, he said that they were completely unfounded.  And then he made it worse and said that even if he was seeing her, that he and I did not have an exclusive relationship and that he didn’t have to hide anything from me. This was fire on gasoline. I called him every ugly name. Dave never raised his voice or was loud. He was simply amazed to see what he thought was such a put together woman falling apart. He offered me water and I could see the pity and alarm in his eyes, which shamed me even more. My ego and I had no place else to go, but to stalk out and leave him. But as I did so, my heart was breaking. I realized that I was totally out of control and it wasn’t about Dave, it was about me.
I had gotten lost and afraid. My erratic behavior had scared me into realizing that I needed to find myself; to re-invent myself. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. I had to learn to like myself. I had to learn to live alone. I had to learn to take care of myself on my own for myself. The journey to finding myself or finding the beloved within myself is the basis for my second book, which is tentatively named “Twisted”.
I have set myself on the path that is right for me. I have accepted myself and know emotionally that love is within and not found without. I also learned that someone’s attraction to another or desire for another does not lessen me in any way. At my most secure self, at your most secure self, you know your intrinsic worth.  The first step in anything is awareness. When you catch yourself being envious pay particular attention to what and who you are being envious about. Then ask yourself, “Why is it that I feel that I cannot attain that?”  Before you get to the point of insane jealousy ask yourself why you are jealous of that other person who is trying to take your place? Perhaps the question to ask yourself is “Where is my place?” These are not easy or short term skills to develop. However, understanding that envy and jealousy relates to our own lack of self-esteem might provide us with the necessary next steps. Remember it’s not them; it’s you.
Signed,Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

#ENDHOMELESSNESS

My Dear Readers,

I have an unusual relationship with the homeless who I see everyday as I walk the eight blocks each way from my home to my office and back. One reason I care about the homeless is that for a few months after I had gotten out of rehab and evicted out of my apartment, I was homeless. No, I did not live on the streets or in a shelter- my home was my 325 E BMW.  In my car I had everything that was important to me, my computer, my clothes and everything that could fit in the back seat and trunk of my car.

After I got out of rehab, I had no family or friends. After all, who wants to hang out with a former crack cocaine addict? That was 20 years ago. I don’t recall exactly how long I remained without a permanent address- maybe three or four months. But it was long enough to never allow me to forget. Anybody, for countless reasons can find themselves homeless- get sick and lose your job and fail to go to the right government agencies and one can find themselves homeless- regardless of your level of education. I was a lawyer when I become homeless.

So, each day I chat with my group of homeless “friends.” Brad pictured above has been adopted by people in my Baltimore neighborhood of Mt. Vernon. He has fortunately situated himself at the bus stop at Charles Street and Chase Street. At one end of his block there is an old hotel called the Belvedere; across the street is the Chase Brexton Medical clinic- which was a gift to our community by a private charity which was created years ago to give medical care to HIV positive gay men. At the other end of  Chase Street is my condo building. Because of the  members of these three big entities that dominate our end of the Mt. Vernon Community, Brad drinks designer coffee and eats organic sandwiches and is given clothes and  medical care.

I do not write about Brad because we, me, our community has done such a great job. We need to do more. Each day, I see growing numbers of homeless people, many of them young people with their clothes in large see-through bags that they get from the homeless shelters in which to put their items. It is heart breaking.

One of the things that has been repeatedly said by Republicans and the Republican Presidential Nominee is the desire to repeal Obamacare. One of the major components of “Obamacare” is the treatment of mental illness. Many of our homeless are homeless because they are mentally ill. In this country where the 1% owns 94% I hope that our next president will make greater in-roads in solving the many problems of education, the elderly and the homeless population.

My dollar here or there may or may not make a life changing difference to a homeless person. Yes, they may use my money to buy alcohol or drugs- or maybe they just need some food. So, I give them whatever change I can spare.  It is what I do.

I hope all of you will join me in making an effort regardless how small to end homelessness- not just in Baltimore or Maryland or America, but world-wide. It’s a big vision, but start with your neighborhood, your community. If everybody does a little bit we can make a big difference.

With light and love,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

IN HOPE OF AN AMERICAN MELTING POT

Dear Readers,

This weekend I watched as much as I could of “Birth of A Nation” a beautifully photographed well thought out script of  a story of the slave Nat Turner who was taught to read and who ultimately became a preacher. The real story is not of this man’s brutal revenge on his white slave masters but the story of how a man who was mistreated long enough to turn into a man who led other slaves to rebel against and murder their white masters.

It was a painful story and a vivid reminder of  what it might have been like for poor white masters holding on to the human capital with which they created their income. It’s a story that could only end in Civil War which was a war about slavery- despite the fact that historians argue that it was about State versus Federal rights. Humans cannot enslave other humans and speak the words of democracy and equality for all.

Race has been the most used word to describe the division in our country. I believe that racism is still rampant.  I also believe that the issue of race hides the real issues which are education and economics.The huge  under-educated population of all races are angry. These people of all races and both genders who are under-educated live in a rapidly changing technological world where they are not trained, educated or equipped to fully participate.  This huge  population  compete for limited jobs in service or sales or manufacturing. These jobs do not pay them enough to get out of  their working poverty much less, change their economic status. These people feel left behind and left out.

The media and the Internet don’t help the divisions in our country. At best these divisions are reported using highly edited and slanted video on local and national news stations and are not always “unbiased” reporting. As amazing at the world wide web maybe it is also a place of  wrong or false misinformation. It’s hard to tell what is really real anymore or whether it has been  photo-shopped and created to fit some one’s agenda.

In the last few days there have been leaks hacked from the campaign of our Democratic Presidential Nominee and at the same time women coming forward accusing our Republican Nominee of  unwanted sexual contact. I have stayed far away from television and politics- except for seeing “The Birth of a Nation.”

There were only a handful of people watching the movie- which has been labeled a “flop”. I wonder if a pre-release story of the film maker’s former accusation of rape held movie goers at home or whether we as a country  simply hope that our unspeakably long history of enslaving people will simply fade from our collective memories. Out of sight out of mind.  There are as many reasons as one could conjure  as to why this beautiful movie about a terrible event in our history was so avoided by everyone.

However, in the midst of this time where the issue of race and gender rage on,   today I ran into the young lady who is the subject of the photo of today’s blog. She was the subject of an earlier blog called “THE NARROW BOX OF RACE”.  I wrote that blog about race when I met this bi-racial  young woman. Her mother is Caucasian and her father is  African American and Asian. I spoke to her today about race and the election. She reported being appalled by both candidates but that she was going to vote for Hillary Clinton because she was “the lesser of two evils.”

This young woman who is  African American yet who doesn’t appear to be Black is a growing part of America  where 6.9 % of adults  have at least two races in their background. The majority of these mixed race people say they are proud to be multi-racial, but more than half of them say  they have been subjected to racial slurs or jokes or people have made assumptions about their race. The hope is that as this population of bi-racial adults grows larger perhaps we as a country will stop seeing our nation’s issues as white versus non-white or even Republicans versus Democrats or Women vs. Men or Young vs. Old, but rather look to see what the real issues are. I believe those issues are not enough higher education for all and better paying jobs that reflect better education.

We are about three weeks away from an election that could literally alter the face of America. Hopefully our largest population- the Millennials- will use their high level of education and their genuine hope for a better world and vote. We understand that that group of young people  are of high moral fiber and frown on anything that appears corrupt or dishonest.  I believe this group will be the problem solvers of our time. Hopefully they will provide an opening for an America willing to deal with the bigger issues that hide behind the mantle of race.

With Light and Love,

Brianna S. Clark
YourFellowJourneyer

HOW MY ROTTEN CHILDHOOD GAVE ME THE GIFT OF RESILIENCE

My Dear Readers,

When I was 19 my  favorite song was “Diamond Girl” by Seals and Croft. The first line of the song begins Diamond Girl-you sure do shine.  I heard a live version of the song when I was 19 and the song was introduced like this “My Baby is Sharp, Hard and Expensive.”  I took that line to be my mantra.

Years later when in a therapist’s chair- this after my stint in drug rehab- I asked my therapist why do some children survive abuse and do okay and why do so many others become statistics? My therapist told me about a study conducted in Hawaii. The study was called the Kauai Longitudinal Study. This study  traced the developmental paths of a multiracial group of children who had been exposed to chronic poverty, chronic family discord and parental psychopathology. The study followed the children at different phases of their lives from ages 1, 2, 10, 18, and 32 years of age. The study began in 1955.  Why did some of these children thrive and others just survive? The bottom line answer was that the children who managed to survive their early childhood trauma had the ability to engage and resilience.

So what is the ability to engage? To put it simply engagement is the ability to get someone’s attention. The children who “overcame” their early childhood trauma were able to engage someone to help them. That’s it. It took getting somebody to pay attention to them, to care and take corrective action.

Throughout my life I have had people who were willing to engage with me. As a child, the engagement of caring adults saved my life. Those caring adults each took  action that got me to the career counselor in high-school -who found the lawyer who filed my case in court and where a judge emancipated me when I was sixteen.  That was a lot of caring by a number of people who believed my story and believed in me.

The other aspect of survival for those of  us who come from less than fairy tale homes is resilience.
The definition of resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and to come back stronger than ever. That’s what had happened to me as a child. I became resilient out of the pure desire to never let my parents believe that their behavior was ok with me. It was not. It never will be.
Therapists agree with me “Resilience seems to develop out of the challenge to maintain self-esteem.” This occurs because survivors draw boundaries between themselves and troubled parents.

Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient. Among these factors is a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. These qualities allow people who attain resilience the ability to change course and to soldier on. At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself- which is the one thing that I have always had. I believed in me when no one else did. The other piece of resilience is the belief in something bigger than oneself.  I shared that belief as well. I believe in the inherent goodness of people, despite what I saw and experienced on a daily basis.  I also believed that someday my experiences would help other people and they have.

While some scientists argue that resilience is inherited others say it can be cultivated. I believe both are true. Some people do differ in their ability to handle stress better than others. Some people because of their trauma lose their ability to handle stress, but if one sees oneself as capable and competent it is possible to survive the darkest times.

Evidence shows that its not really until adulthood that people begin to surmount the difficulties of childhood and rebuild their lives. As Hara Estroff Marano writes in her article “The Art of Resilience”  “Resilient people don’t walk between the raindrops; they have scars to show for their experience. They struggle- but keep functioning anyway.”

Marano continues to say that ” A troubled family can indeed inflict considerable harm on its children, but resilient people are challenged by such troubles to experiment and respond actively and creatively. Their pre-emptive responses to adversity, repeated over time, become incorporated into their inner selves as lasting strengths.

As an adult I can say that I have cultivated insight. I have the mental habit of asking myself hard questions and finding honest answers for myself. I take charge of problems and I stretch and test myself. I am glad I have done so. I hope that  others can learn do so as well.

With Light and Love,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

GETTING TO PERFECT

My Dear Readers,

Scott Peck, psychiatric medical doctor and author wrote is his book “The Road Less Traveled”  that EVIL can be defined as anything that takes away from LIVE. In other words, anything  that takes away from life and living is evil. Let’s sit with that for a moment.

These days it appears we need umbrellas even on a sunny days. What do I mean when I say this?
This weekend we heard the Republican nominee say sexist, ugly statements about power and money. There was no-one that I know who found joy in discovering that a man who has come so close to becoming president of the United States speaks the way which was uncovered this weekend. On top of all of the negative political news this weekend, which was punctuated with a tense televised national debate, there was Hurricane Matthew who had left Haiti devastated- again. This is what I mean when I say even on sunny days we feel we need an umbrella.

Clearly, our nation is at a cross-roads. There are many Americans who feel forgotten, left behind and disenfranchised. Our next president will have to address these national issues and the many issues facing international communities, nations  and continents world-wide.  In these moments and times, what do we as individuals do to stabilze ourselves, our lives, in what seems to be an unstable and disintergrating world?

I have pondered the answer to this question for many years and here’s the answer: Get to perfect.

Here’s how I got to perfect: The universe is perfectly designed. Things happen either good or bad- which is an opinion- not a fact. For instance, rain can be good for the farmer, bad for the bride with the outside wedding, etc.  So, regardless of our opinion things happen.  There are some events which are generally considered bad: murder, racism, child abuse, elder abuse, animal abuse, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and sunamis are all generally considered bad or evil or natural disasters. “Good” tends to be more diverse and includes all things sourced from Love.

Getting to perfect requires an acceptance of the current, immediate “now”  and a willingness to do something about it; or disprove its sense of being all pervasive. In an every day practice getting to perfect requires an acceptance of things like traffic; rain when you want sunshine; heat when it is cold; cool when it is stiffling hot and the willingness to accept that’s the way it is right now. It doesn’t have to be “that way” forever. What can you do in the mean time? What actions are required and appropriate? Asking and answering these questions put us into solving the issue rather than wallowing in our frustration, anger, dissapointment and inaction.

I suppose getting to perfect requires flexibility, the ability to pivot and options. The level of which one has the ability to  pivot, to be flexible and to have options determines the ease or quickness of getting to perfect. Worrying or agonizing about what you cannot change is a receipe for frustration. Acceptance of what we cannot change- like weather or traffic- is the first step to getting to perfect. Oh, I’m going to be late. That’s perfect because… I can’t go outside and garden… perfect I can now clean out that drawer, closet, the refrigerator. I admit, it’s not always easy or possible to pivot and make another choice or take another action or make an alternative plan. You can choose how you feel or react, even better yet you can pivot from the negative emotion even if that’s your first reaction, it doesn’t have to be your continuing or final emotion.

Getting to perfect is not a form of denial. Denial requires a refusal to accept reality. Getting to perfect requires an intimitate and close up relationship with reality inorder to pivot quickly and effectively.
I think the greatest value of getting to “perfect” quickly is not spending a lot of time in anger, dissapointment and suffering from wanting something that clearly is not going to happen- at least not in the moment. When one plunges into despair or rushes to anger, declaring “It’s perfect” allows these emotions to dissapate faster. From making a declaration of “perfect” allows for the new and unexpected to be created.  In fact, declaring “it’s perfect” creates an unexpected future in which to live into.

Try it the next time the unexpected or the unwanted occurs. It may seem  an empty statement at first, but over time declaring “it’s perfect” opens the door to the new, the different, the unexpected that one discovers from pivoting and choosing what is in the now.

With love and light,

Brianna S. Clark,
Your Fellow Journeyer

photo credit: www.digicrea.be – Analog & Open Source Photography <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/128124352@N08/28849755361″>Friendship</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

ITS BEEN A HARD DAY AND NIGHT

The photo of the female Episcopalean priest is an example of the inroads women have made in all professions. This woman and I met in a coffee shop and I took the photo. In opposite is the picture of the 12 year old  Afghan child bride. I am saddened that young girls are being married off to become wives when they are still children. According to the International Center for Research on Women, one third of girls in the developing world are married before they are 18.  One in 9 are married before they are 15.

This week was revealing to me about me. This week I took off my mask, showing my audience what I looked like make-up free. Equally illuminating, is the persona, the person who I present to the world which is reflected in the selfie of me in sun glasses on my way to work this morning.

I dealt with people in various forms of crisis. I had to portion out and balance how much I could give to each. It is wisdom that deals with competeing needs. I did something which I have not done in the past, which was ask for help.  I am particularly proud that I took care of myself. I ate well and I excercised and got at least six hours of sleep each night.

I am grateful for the friends who came to my rescue this week, even though all of us knew that all I needed was the knowledge of the team behind and before me and  by each side.

I had accepted several challenging commitments, each within themselves  possibly overwhelming.   I performed at my heighest level of possible performance. I am saddened for some of the choices that I had to make for the good of the group. Those descisions are always hard.

There are uncountable challenges in the world today. Find the best in  your life.  Hold on . Add to it.  Give some away. Share.

Let’s keep striving.

With light and love,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

ON THE DAYS I HATE EVERYBODY

My Dear Fellow Journeyers,

This photo represents my feelings towards mankind today. Today I hate everyone. I don’t feel good about hating everybody, but I do. It takes effort to be polite on days like this.  I also wonder if my “hate” for people makes me a bad person,  and what should I do about this?

From my cursory review of psychology journals here’s what I learned. Those people haters like myself-not always- but enough of the time- have high expectations of others.  According to my reading if you are dissapointed enough times by a single person or by people in general one begins to form a “schema” or mental representation that others do not meet their standards. This view is not conscious. We are not aware that we have standards and that others are not meeting them, but we are aware that something isn’t right. That’s how I felt today.

I am aware of the symptoms. I know them well. I am standoffish because I am evaluating you to see if you are in fact worthy to me my friend.  I have few friends. I find other people who hate people and nurture those friendships and we people haters find other people haters and mate for life with them.

However, I will say this about myself and I understand these traits are typical for other people haters as well.  Apparently we listen well. We remember what other people like and we do it for them. My few friends would do anything for me and me for them. They have managed to pass my “hate” test.

I know on an emotional level that most human beings can’t help their limitations. I know that when people can’t see what they are doing is wrong, they lack empathy and self-awareness. I get it that these folks “just don’t get it.” I know I should not get angry at people who litter- who throw food and trash out of their cars unto the streets- yet I am pissed off and I hate them.

I know my hatred of people who do things that I despise is because at some level I am immature and that those people have failed to develop responsibility. This doesn’t help, when the chicken bones fly out of the car window.  I know that I need to manage my anger in these situations, and usually I do so externally, but internally I am seething and name calling.

My therapist says I should learn to “gradually learn how to bring out the best in people” at least the ones that I have more than just a one time contact with. I know that I can narrowly focus on the bad in people. The reality is that all people are some mix of the good, bad and the weird- just like I am.

What bothers me the most about my “hate” for people is my own anger. I have learned that anger has a tendency to generalize itself. I hate that aspect of anger. I wish I could be angry only at specific things or people at specific times, but when I’m angry I hate everybody and everything. I know I need to work on this aspect of my anger. It’s been hard. I’ve observed my wide swath of anger ever since I was 11. I knew then as I know now that I cannot blast the world for something someone unknowingly or knowingly did to anger or better yet to disapoint me.

I know my all or nothing attitude towards people limits the number of people with whom I engage. I am working on it. I am a deeply flawed person, yet I have difficulty accepting the deep flaws of those I encounter. Many people have not had the time to develop the kind of genuine moral awareness that I have. This is not because I am so much better for having created this moral awareness- it takes time and not everyone has the time for mediation and expensive classes that lead to self-awareness. Some folks are out there trying to survive at the most basic levels.

Here’s the ugly reality. When I have such widespread general anger or disappointment which I call “hate” I am not looking down on people, I have actually made them far too important. I have put those people on a pedestal for them to have such an effect on me.

Misanthropy is a clear sign of frustration and feeling that your needs have not been met. Part of the solution is taking better care of myself and not making my needs other people’s responsibility. In addition, I am told to lower my expectations of people. My rule is “Unless you do what I want, then you’re awful.” But I have learned that its not worth the disappointment of needing anything from the wrong people. This is what sets my hate cycle – expecting something from the wrong person.

Here’s the last part that is the hardest for me to swallow: Hatred could be seen as a form of unnecessary emotional dependency. I must find a way to get to “I can be happy in spite of the way some people are. I don’t have to take on all the problems of the world. I am not responsible for the bad behavior of corporations or individuals or governments, nor am I responsible for their actions.
In a world of 7 billion, I can find some interesting, kind and evolved people. Needing a relationship  with someone who rarely meets one’s expectations is a sign of being too involved.

I am not committed to hate. To hate others is to signify that I have a harsh relationship with myself. I know that I can never learn to love myself if I insist in hating everybody else. The problem with hating everybody means hating myself.  And as I’m mentioned before hating others is a false  means of creating superiority.  In the end hatred is a waste of time and energy.  The last thing this world needs is another hater.

With love and light,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

ADVERSITY AND THE PURSUIT OF GOODNESS CREATES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

“A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them. This museum tells the truth that a country founded on the promise of liberty held millions in chains. That the price of our union was America’s original sin.”

George W. Bush, Former President of the United States of America

The photo of  First Lady Michelle Obama hugging former President George W. Bush at the opening ceremony of the African American Museum garnered a lot of media attention in the past 48 hours.  I am glad that the photo has gone around the world showing people that America has been built and kept strong by it’s diversity. I hope that the camaraderie shown this past weekend will continue to invigorate the America that I believe it can be.Tonight our country and the world will hear two voices. One voice will be one of hope and forgiveness- the other voice will be that of discontent and a desire to create an America that cares about itself first- the rest of world- if it has the time and resources.  I hope that the second America will never occur.

For those of you who have read my blog over the past year, you know that I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. For me, Hillary represents the idea of never giving up. She is that older woman who has paid her dues and is now hoping to reap after the years of hard work. I hope she will win some hearts and votes tonight.

Is Hillary a flawed character? Unquestionably yes. But for those of us who have never  been under the microscope of the public eye; it is easy to dismiss Hillary Clinton as untrustworthy. It is easy to paint her with a broad brush of  double standards. Any other candidate, if he were not a she, would be a sure bet for the White House, But ironically for  Hillary Clinton her “untrusthworthiness” is  partially  because of her long and yes tainted political record. However,  a lot of what plagues Hillary is that she is an old female politician.

Similarly we paint Donald Trump as a racist, a bigot, and isolationist, a demagogue, a wild man, the list is endless. I am not sure if Donald Trump is any of things that he has been called. The scariest thing about Donald Trump is that we don’t know who is. What we have seen of him during this past campaign has been polished and written by handlers- who at this point- Donald Trump has acquiesced to. I think that those of us who have never  been extraordinarily wealthy are fascinated by a man who has created himself a billionaire- even if he’s only worth one billion instead of  the ten billion he claims to be worth. Some how we think a man who can create personal wealth can create wealth for all 300 million of us. It’s a great fantasy, one that I hope does not send voters Trump’s way.

I imagine for those of us who are terrified of  racist in the White House, there are those  who were terrified of a black man in the White House. As it turns out- that black man became a great president not because he was black but because he cared deeply about this country and its people.  I hope that in the next several weeks we as a people will focus on who will create the most common good- and give up our positions of a “first female president” and  “wealth creator”.

I believe as flawed as Hillary Clinton might be that she would make a better president than Donald Trump. I hope that come election day,  all who are eligible to vote will vote. Let’s listen tonight as we gather around to listen to these candidates and listen with the mind set of who will best serve the greater good in this country. Who will care and work for the poor, the ill, the imprisoned, the transgender, the  Muslim, the outcast- all of which make up the richness of America.

I have traveled to many places in the world. No matter how much fun or how beautiful or how advanced that country might or might not be, I am an American. I believe that this country will find its way as it has always found its way to do what is the right thing to do.

Each of us must ask ourselves each day and on election day, what is the right thing to do? Do that.

I pray for world peace. I pray for peace in America. I pray for peace in Maryland. I pray for peace in Baltimore. I pray for peace in my home. I pray for peace in every home. I pray for peace in my heart and every heart that beats on this planet.

God Bless America and let her be the light to  world.

In light and love,

Brianna S. Clark,
Your Fellow Journeyer