Open letter to health insurance companies:

My health insurance company asked me how they could do better. I answered like this –

It would be nice if it cost less. I don’t think I get $400 a month of use out of my health insurance. Make it so everybody can afford it. That way, they wouldn’t have to work so hard and stress so much about their bills – thus staying healthy. If people could afford health insurance on part-time work, they’d have time to exercise, visit with friends, and do the things that matter to them. We all know how important these things are to staying healthy. Or, if the rates need to stay the same, I’d love it if we as a society could turn “health care” into actually caring for health, instead of just managing disease. Too many folks don’t have time to take care of their health, so they get sick. “Health care” becomes “disease management” and palliative care, rather than truly helping people achieve health. It would be great if your health insurance company would pay for visits to nutritionists, personal trainers, massage therapists, and acupuncturists, for example. We live in changing times. It is time for new ways of thinking.

Things to do in a quarantine.

Virtual tours of museums –

https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours

Art prompts from Keri Smith, creator of “Wreck this Journal” –

https://www.explorationoftheday.com/

Music from the Metropolitan Opera –

“In an effort to continue providing opera to its audience members, the Met Opera will host “Nightly Met Opera Streams” on its official website to audiences worldwide. These free streams will present encores of past performances from its famed Live in HD series. The encore presentations will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST each night on the company’s website (see below) and and will then be available for an additional 20 hours thereafter.”

https://www.metopera.org/

Check your local library’s databases – with mine, you can learn lots of different languages and how to play a musical instrument, for example. You can learn Mandarin and Mandolin!

Make art. You know that project you’ve been putting off? Now is a great time to finish it.

Go for a walk. You aren’t supposed to stay stuck inside, just away from people.

No laughing matter.

While funny, it is also sometimes fatal. I resent having to be super careful around men, but I know that it is my own life I protect – and the life of other women around him.

A man, uncivilized, is like a wild animal.

If I stand up to a man who is harassing me and he feels shamed or embarrassed because of it – I could be attacked by him later. Or he could take it out on another woman he knows who he feels is submissive. This is no laughing matter.

Yes – we have to address this and change society. This cannot continue. But until we have a population of men who can control themselves, women are at risk.

Mystical book list

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself   Beattie, Melody

The Complete Artist’s Way : Creativity as a Spiritual Practice  Cameron, Julia

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge Castañeda, Carlos

Be Here Now  Dass, Ram

The True Power of Water  Emoto, Masaru

Monday Night Class Stephen Gaskin

Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature  Goldsworthy, Andy

You Can Heal Your Life  Hay, Louise L.

The Tao of Pooh   Hoff, Benjamin

Two Ravens: The Life and Teachings of a Spiritual Warrior     Irwin, Louis Two Ravens

The Principles of Uncertainty   Kalman, Maira

The Paradise War (The Song of Albion, #1)   Lawhead, Stephen R.

The Skin Map (Bright Empires, #1)   Lawhead, Stephen R.

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)   L’Engle, Madeleine

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art   L’Engle, Madeleine

Dreamhealer: His Name Is Adam      McLeod, Adam

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion       Miles, Sara

Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing   Moorjani, Anita

Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing  Myss, Caroline

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential   Myss, Caroline

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life   Palmer, Parker

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation  Palmer, Parker

Women Who Run With the Wolves   Pinkola Estés, Clarissa

Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta Prabhavananda

Small Gods (Discworld, #13)   Pratchett, Terry

The Essential Rumi   Rumi

The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain   Sarno, John E.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most   Stone, Douglas

The Arrival  Tan, Shaun

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment  Tolle, Eckhart

The Secret of the Beloved Disciple   Twyman, James F.

Emissary of Light: A Vision of Peace    Twyman, James F.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma  van der Kolk, Bessel A.

The Yoga of Jesus: Understanding the Hidden Teachings of the Gospels Paramahansa Yogananda

The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide   Zeff, Ted

African American fiction – speculative fiction – Afrofuturism

(This is a brief introduction to some of the best speculative fiction being created by African-Americans.Feel free to explore! Descriptions are from the Nashville Public Library website.)

Okorafor, Nnedi    Binti (3-book series)  Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Butler, Octavia  Parable of the Sower (2-book series)  Set thirty years in the future, a young woman suffering from hyperempathy, to feel others’ pain as well as her own, makes a dangerous journey north from Southern California.

Delaney, Samuel L   Babel-17  Winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, “Babel-17” is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack.

Hopkinson, Nalo   Brown Girl in the Ring The rich and the privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways — farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

LaValle, Victor   The changeling: a novel  Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange.

Jemisin, N.K.  How long ’til black future month?: Stories   In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption. In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination

Solomon, Rivers   The Deep  Yetu holds the memories for her people — water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners — who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one — the historian.  

Due, Tananarive   Ghost summer: stories In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories.

Shawl, Nisi      Everfair   What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier?

Christmas town

This was the door to Christmas town. Everyone who lived here celebrated Christmas every day. Every night was once again Christmas Eve, with the anticipation and eagerness you would expect. It seemed backwards to do it this way, but it worked for them. And who were these fine citizens to do anything in a normal way? They had all, independently, come to the conclusion that this day was too special to have only once a year.

Some had started with the idea of celebrating Christmas for the 12 days, right up to Epiphany. That tradition had faded out of practice but the clue remained in the Carol, or in the Catholic observance of Three Kings Day. What had been lost was found again.

Other had celebrated Christmas in July, watching Hallmark holiday specials and having a grand dinner with all the trimmings. Others had a special dinner with family and took the whole day off to rest and rejoice once a week.

But for some, these make-do attempts weren’t enough. They wanted Christmas every day. It wasn’t the presents they wanted, but the presence. They had come to recognize that Christmas was its own entity, a very force in itself. It was if a certain Someone was in the room, but they just couldn’t be seen. Neither old nor young, male nor female – this presence was eternal, and available to all who made a place for it in their homes.

It was why Advent was such a powerful time. It was a preparing, a setting-aside, a making-space. In Advent, you didn’t just prepare gifts or food or clean your home or pack to go visiting family (blood or otherwise). In Advent you made a space for this Someone to live in your heart. It took a month for most to clear away the cobwebs, to gear down from a workaday life of getting and spending. They were so used to a life of lack and want and ignorance that it took all that time to settle into the new pattern that this Someone offered, a pattern of wholeness, of contentment.

For the residents of this town, one day of this feeling wasn’t enough. One by one they moved here, having heard of this place through rumors and whispers.

There was no industry here for people to travel to – no shops or businesses. Everyone had the day off. Nobody wanted for anything. There was always enough food, always enough craft supplies, always enough books. Nobody finished anything in Christmas town and nobody felt bad about it. There was always the next day and never a rush.

For you see, Christmas town was in a temporal bubble. It really was Christmas every day here. They weren’t just pretending. Food never went bad because it never got old. It simply transformed at the stroke of midnight into fresh groceries again, so they could enjoy the pleasure of filling the house with all those delightful aromas from cooking a Christmas meal.

People didn’t age here either. Children were always youthful and agile, elders were always mirthful and spry. Each enjoyed the company of the other, and the Christmas Eve bedtime stories never got old.

However, the people who lived here never realized that it was always the same. They too reset at the stroke of midnight, also becoming new again. They never aged, never counted the days since they had moved to this unusual town. How could they? It was all the same, an unchanging day of joy repeated ad infinitum.

(Written around Christmas 2019)

Smile

Funny, the people who smile

with their mouths and not their eyes

who smile when facing me

but drop to a scowl when they turn away.

Maybe it would be better

if they just stopped pretending

to be happy to see me, or just happy at all

maybe their smiles would be real

if they learned it was safe to smile

when they meant it

and not just all the time

like how we say “fine”

when asked “how are you”

like it is some glue

that holds this whole stupid fake society together

e pluribus unum

out of many different experiences we somehow

shoehorn all our reactions and interactions

into one great big play

where we act out what it means

to be human

without ever meaning anything real

at all.