Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Today, I unfolded the three chairs and placed them in another room, in a different environment, under different circumstances. Thank you, Mark, for the inspiration to do this. Your most recent comment in my blog led me to want to share more, if you are interested. (We can talk about it in the group.)

Gregory Bateson once said,

"All changes can be understood as the effort to maintain some constancy and all constancy as maintained through change."
(From Steps to an Ecology of Mind, page 381)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thanks to Mark and Andrew, for your comments a few days ago. Yes, we are taking care of it!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

An event occurred two nights ago and I am wondering how it might be connected to the dream I had on Monday morning. Somehow, it helps me connect dots between the various confusing points of interest in what happened, which was this:

My husband was assaulted by two of our neighbors, apparently a father and his teenage son. I was in the house at the time and am still learning of the details, bit by bit. There were no witnesses other than family members of the attackers. A woman, presumably the man's wife (but this is still unknown), saw and participated in what happened. It was three against one.

What started the conflict was the woman speeding down our alley and swerving toward my husband, who was standing in our driveway, as she sped past. He has a high-powered flashlight and pointed it at her car, to get the license plate number so he could call and report her. Following her was another vehicle, a truck, driven by the man; he was also speeding and again, my husband shined the light on his vehicle, too.

When the man got to his driveway, two doors down from us, he got out of the vehicle and came walking toward our house. My husband meanwhile had begun walking toward the man's house. They faced each other in the alley between our houses. My husband had his cell phone in hand and was about to call the police to make the report. The man began cursing him for shining the flashlight on them. More words were exchanged and he came at my husband with his fist.

By that time, a teenage male had come out of the house and joined his father in the assault. My husband was hit at least three times, hard, in the face and on the side of the head. To stop him, my husband pulled his gun (carried legally), telling him to back off, which the man did. As he was lying there in the alley, still reeling from the beating, the woman attempted to steal his cell phone which had fallen onto the ground. My husband pointed his gun at her and ordered her to drop it, which she did. After that, he called the police and they came out.

Meanwhile, I was in the house preparing to settle in and do my schoolwork. The dogs were in the back yard. My husband walked in the front door, came into the room where I was sitting, and asked me to bring the dogs in. I looked at him and saw his face bleeding. It looked like he had been attacked by a dog, or hit by a car. I had no idea of what had just happened.

I went out the front door to the porch, where he was standing with our next-door neighbor. After going back in the house to put on something I could wear outside, I returned to find both my husband and the next-door neighbor (our friend) spread eagle against the back of one of our cars, being searched.

Since a gun was involved and details of what happened as yet unknown, the police were treating them like criminals. At one point, one of the policemen demanded to come into our house so they could search for the gun. I wouldn't let them, believing they were overstepping boundaries, not only of law but of decency, too. After all, we weren't criminals and didn't deserve that kind of treatment. After some time, they gained access to the house to get what they were looking for (they gave it back later); but the way they wanted to go about it at first was humiliating and unfair.

What the police didn't know then was that my husband had spared these people's lives! He would have been completely within his rights to shoot in self-defense. It is to his credit (and a mercy to all of us) that he didn't allow himself to pull the trigger in the heat of the moment of being severely beaten.

An ambulance arrived and paramedics got to work. Fortunately, the injuries weren't severe enough for him to have to go to the hospital; although he was urged to go, he chose not to. [01.31.07 Amendment: I wrote this before realizing his injuries were indeed more serious than we realized. He was disoriented that day and wasn't able to articulate that he had sustained a head injury; he should have been transported to the hospital right away for treatment.]

The story told by the other family is quite different from the story my husband told to the police, so it was determined that each party would be issued citations for disorderly conduct and let a judge determine the outcome in court.

Race is involved here, too. My husband is Arab American and the other family is African American. We sensed racism in the behavior of at least one of the policemen, too, who kept spitting on our property and acting very unprofessional and arrogant.

As it stands now, after consulting with some other people within the police department, my husband is planning to sue this family.

[02.21.07. Once again, I must amend this. The lawsuit is not against the family, as I first thought; it is against the city. The incident with the neighbor is a different issue from the investigation of the crime. But the prosecutor who has the authority to get the charge dropped is twisting things so that it looks like the issue is between neighbor and neighbor. That is not the issue. The police did not accurately depict what happened and my husband had to hire a lawyer simply to force the police to do their job in an orderly way rather than the way they did it, which resulted in an honest citizen accused of being "disorderly" now having to defend himself and to bring to justice those who have disrespected his civil rights. It will be heard by a judge next month.]

I now wonder how and if justice will actually be served. It would be good to work it out between us but the animosity is too great. I suspect the family is poor, and suing them might serve one purpose; but it also might plunge them deeper into poverty, thus making their situation worse.

Additionally, this family keeps three mean dogs chained up in the backyard. I mentioned this to one of the policemen and he urged us to call animal control. To me, the dogs represent a way of life for them and I wonder what has happened in these people's past to make them so hostile and aggressive, and to keep dogs like that, in that way.

I feel afraid now, like we have to watch our backs. Yet as upsetting as this whole ordeal has been, it also clarifies our roles not only in the family but in society as well. My husband was cooperative with the police, despite their harsh treatment of him, especially at first. (Once his side of the story started coming out, they behaved with more civility.)

I also think about how we co-create our lives with the Universe. Each person played a role in bringing the scene to reality. It confirms that what we focus upon becomes reality, it comes to pass.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I described a dream I had this morning, here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Literature on the run

With only fifteen minutes to spare here, I wanted to say a few words. Love is a complicated but necessary ingredient in a person's life. It is not easy to love, especially when one has been wounded by it.

Kahlil Gibran writes:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep,
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden
among his pinions may wound you.
Only in love can a wound hurt so deeply, or as Neil Young sings, "only love can break your heart." But if it's true love that is sought, one must seek also to endure the sacred pain with dignity and to trust that it is for a purpose, and that it shall pass (or at least ebb and flow) and give way once more to the ecstacy that alerted you in the first place that you are in love.

I am committed to a heap o' studying today, with a test and homework assignment due tomorrow morning! Wish me luck, please.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One of my friends, Paul, commented some days ago about my posting on January 10th. He asked whether I had been reading Conversations with God. I wasn't aware it was a book, too. Another friend of mine saw the movie and has been urging me to watch it. Here is a link to the trailer.

The dialogue Paul was referring to came to me that morning. I wrote it down in my journal, then typed and posted it here. I have no idea where these dialogues come from, but when they crash into my consciousness I listen. (For another one, please click here and scroll down to the entry for May 23rd.)

"Where there is love, there is no effort." Amma
We hear so many voices in the course of any given day, whether these voices are within ourselves or outside of us. One of the concepts I've been reading about in my coursework is that of the multiple "alternative identities that constitute our self-talk." (Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions, 7th ed., by Corey, Corey, and Callanan.) What especially struck me is this. The authors discuss the theories of Paul Pedersen, who asserts:

"Each person has a thousand or more alternative roles or identities that are collected over a lifetime from various sources."
It immediately reminded me of Joseph Campbell, who said:

"Follow your bliss and you will be aided by a thousand helping hands."
That phrase, follow your bliss, has become somewhat of a cliché, and yet if you say it slowly, letting it sink in, new meaning surfaces. Try it!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Taking a Walk

This is one of my favorite pictures! Back in the 1950's, roving photographers used to go around downtown streets, taking random pictures of people then offering the photos for sale. This one is of my father and his mother, taken in Fort Worth, Texas. I am not sure of the exact date, but it must have been in the early part of that decade. The two of them were shopping for a wedding ring for Dad's fiance, his first wife who (along with their infant son) would later be killed in an automobile accident. He met and married my mother a few years after that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Poor Pitiful Pearl

Since I'm back in school and can't possibly keep up with everybody who I'd like to talk to online, but I love getting feedback from people and staying in touch, keeping the blog updated seems to be the best method of communication outside my regular personal correspondence. I am grateful for you, coming here to read what I have to say.

I have a quiz over three chapters in my family therapy textbook and have thus been reading and taking notes for most of today. The "fun" (if you can call it that) thing about taking notes for a psychology course is that there are endless ways of relating the material to current life issues, and these have been finding their way into my notes. Five minutes ago, I jumped up from the couch and headed toward my computer, eager to share an insight that came up.

I took a walk this afternoon, a short one around the neighborhood. Just as I was approaching a particular house, I remembered a character of mine, a little black girl named Pearl. She was the leading lady (child star) in a story I began writing for National Novel Writing Month, a few years ago. Alas, I never finished that story, but Pearl has stayed with me. In fact, I think she is me, in many ways.

The name was inspired by a doll my mother bought for me when I was a child, Poor Pitiful Pearl, who I loved very much. As an adult, however, I came to view Pearl as a symbol for sadness. I questioned my mother's intentions, wondering why she had given me (of all things) a sad doll. What was she thinking? Was Pearl some kind of role model for me? A kind of mild resentment settled in. What kind of a mother....

Well, it wasn't until later that it occurred to me that Pearl was not necessarily sad; instead, she was poor. Disadvantaged. So, her "sadness" (as I saw it) had roots in poverty. And looking at a picture of the doll today, I see she wasn't as sad as I had imagined her to be. She is just homely, and is actually smiling, just a little. I began to see Poor Pitiful Pearl more realistically, and in a new light.

Anyway, as I was approaching this house during my walk, I thought of not only the character Pearl, but before that even, I thought of the physical pearl, and the process of making one. It involves an irritant; a pearl would not exist if not for a bit of debris irritating the oyster in which it is created.

Coming out of the irritating condition of poverty is a process, too. I waved cheerily to the man sitting on the porch of that house, a house I knew had a handicapped occupant who rarely leaves the house because of her paraplegia. I had also talked to other occupants of the house (the caregivers change) and had come to learn that she has ... well, "problems," related to her condition.

Anyway, all of this together -- a child in my consciousness, Pearl; the pearl, created by the oyster; and Poor Pitiful Pearl -- is what brought me to the computer tonight.

Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Thank You

Yes, I am talking to you. Thank you for reading my blog. This morning (and it is still morning, but just barely), I was thinking about what matters. Does it matter, for example, that the time on my clock is 11:53? That today is Wednesday?

"Everything is significant, not just the few somethings that we allow ourselves to see when we are blinded by our own ambition." Julia Cameron, in The Sound of Paper
Who is to say what is a "little" thing, and if God is in the details (some say it's the devil), who else is there with her?

Echoes of places resound inside my incandescent self.

"Think of yourself as an incandescent power, illuminated and perhaps forever talked to by God and his messengers."
Brenda Ueland, as quoted by Julia Cameron, in The Sound of Paper
The discernment to filter negative images out of our imaginations is a skill needed for developing discernment in other matters. After all, we imagine the images, don't we? In our imaginations.

Why does it have to be "God and his messengers," for example. Why not "God and her messengers"?

God's incandescence transcends the limitations of gender. People can be stern and rigid, or neurotic and clingy. But not God, oh no.

How do you know that?
I'll repeat myself. God's incandescence transcends the limitations of gender.

Tell me something I don't already know.
Okay. You misunderstand your friend.

No, I don't.
You sure as hell do. Allow things to unfold as they will and stop trying to control them!

I'm too much of a control freak to let go.
Then you'll never understand what this is all about.

But how do I let go?
Just release the energy that is keeping you locked into your limited way of viewing things.

I asked you how.
Be still and listen, and when you are ready say yes.

Is yes a magic word?
Only if you mean it.

But I want to mean it. Is that good enough?
Well, I guess you could try faking it until you make it.

I don't want to do that. It's such a cliché.
You'd rather cling stubbornly to your controlling nature?

Why are you pouting?

I don't mean to be.
Well, you are and it looks as childish as you are behaving.

Is there something wrong with childishness?
In an adult, yes.

What gives you the authority to say that?
I just know.

How do you know?
I did what I'm advising you do; I let go.

You mean you released control?
Yes. Paradoxically, that is the way to claim authority, perhaps the only way. In a real sense, that is.

Now wait a minute. First I was going to say that you never really answered my question, how do you know, and I want to ask you again, even if I can already hear your answer. And then you go and throw in that bit about some "real sense," as if there is an unreal sense to contend with, too. Is there?
This is getting complicated now. First, to your comment, "I can already hear your answer," I return to you: What is it? Next, reality and unreality are concepts that will forever be argued on earth. Nobody can prove or disprove either, so these are not much use squabbling or even just conversing about, a waste of breath and precious time.

Okay. You asked what is it, the answer I can already hear. I figured you'd say, again, "I just know." Right?

Then what is it?
I already told you.

You told me that you released control, whatever that means, but you never said how this gives you authority.
It's the yes.

The yes?
Yes, the yes. Say yes and it is yours.

It? What it? Do you mean authority?
What do you think? Be still and listen for the answer. You know what it is already.