Books Are My Friends

booksfriends

I’ve spent more time than usual lately reading. I’ve been reading and reviewing on Amazon and Goodreads. It helps me feel a certain kind of comfort, introducing my friends to others. I’m NOT organized, but I like filing and shelving my friends on Goodreads.

I’m here. I’m trying to do what I can to work through to find my creative self again. Books are never a bad idea.

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Declare Yourself Independent

Do you ever think too much about what people will think of your creativity? Well, I’m declaring today Independence Day from exactly that. I’m giving you permission to write/art for yourself and permission to remember that your art/writing doesn’t have to give you financial support. That’s not why we do what we do.

I think part of how and why I went silent these past few weeks was writing for somebody else besides myself and the hovering thought reminding me my writing might possibly bring some kind of financial support to my life.

But I write to make sense of the world. To let story into the world. To let story CHANGE the world.

This blog post inspired by dear Elora Ramirez’ new book Indie Confidence.

 

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There’s a Hole

Gongguan_Riverside_Park_-_Taipei_-_(1)

Sometimes the world feels inhospitable.
You feel all the ways that you and it don’t fit.
You see what’s missing, how it all could be different.

You feel as if you weren’t meant for the world, or the world wasn’t meant for you,
as if the world is “the way it is” and your discomfort with it a problem.

So you get timid. You get quiet about what you see.

But what if this?

What if you are meant
to feel the world is inhospitable, unfriendly, off-track
in just the particular ways that you do?

The world has a you-shaped hole in it.
It is missing what you see.
It lacks what you know
and so you were called into being.
To see the gap, to feel the pain of it, and to fill it.

Filling it is speaking what is missing.
Filling it is stepping into the center of the crowd, into a clearing,
and saying, here, my friends, is the future.

You don’t have to do it all, but you do have to speak it.
You have to tell your slice of the truth.
You do have to walk toward it with your choices, with your own being.

Then allies and energies will come to you like fireflies swirling around a light.

The roughness of the world, the off-track-ness, the folly that you see,
these are the most precious gifts you will receive in this lifetime.

They are not here to distance you from the world,
but to guide you to your contribution to it.

The world was made with a you-shaped hole in it.
In that way you are important.
In that way you are here to make the world.
In that way you are called.

– Tara Sophia Mohr

I had an epiphany this week. I wish I could say it was a positive one. I felt small. I felt as if I no longer mattered to anyone or anything. I knew it wasn’t true, but feelings are liars sometimes.

I’ve been hiding from the world. I don’t know if any of you know this feeling, but this is the message I believe I’m supposed to bring you this week. See the gap in the world, feel the pain of it, and fill it. Be the change you want to see. You can’t do that if you’re hiding and not speaking your truth.

I’m sending you so much love to light your way.

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Hiding Behind a Mask

mask

I’ve been seeing commercials for one of those new psych meds that doctors add to a medication to help it along. Since we talk about barriers to creativity when you’re disabled, let’s bring this one up. Depression that isn’t treated or needs a different kind of treatment can suck up every ounce of creative energy you have. Even if your main disability is something physical, you’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll find yourself hiding behind a mask. Some of us cycle through down periods more often than others, but each of us has to figure out our own way of coping with them instead of giving in to them.

I haven’t posted here in several weeks, and I didn’t realize how depressed, angry, and stressed out I’ve been until today. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to talk about what was bothering me, but I wasn’t dealing with it either. I couldn’t come to this space hiding behind a mask, so I didn’t make an appearance here at all.

What are some ways you encourage yourself to be open and creative while dealing with the desire to hide away? I’ve got to work on some rituals to make that happen for myself.

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Guest Post by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers on the 70273 Project

The70273ProjectQuilt1Top

Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

Top of first quilt for 70723 Project

Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

Top of first quilt for 70273 Project

Between January 1940 and August 1941, German Nazis murdered 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people, calling them “a drag on the economy” and “social misfits” and “inferior”. Posters and public service announcements warned parents of the unpleasant consequences of exposing their children to disabled people and the dire burden of the continued expense of caring for those with special needs.

 

Mercy deaths, they called them.

 

Hitler penned the order in October 1939, but backdated it to 9/1/1939 to give it the appearance of being a legitimate act necessitated by the beginning of World War II. The T4 Program (know this: I capitalize the name not out of respect, but to prevent readers from getting distracted by the rules of grammar and missing the whole point) created a new bureaucracy – one headed by physicians and dedicated to the extermination of anyone deemed to have “a life unworthy of living.”

 

Doctors made their evaluations based not on the actual person – they weren’t required to so much as lay eyes on them – only on their medical records or forms submitted by institutions. When two of three doctors placed a red X at the bottom of the form, the person was rounded up and murdered . . . usually in less than two hours.

 

Children were killed by starvation and lethal injection. More “efficient” methods were required for adults, so asphyxiation by poison gas became the preferred killing technique. SS staff members charged with transporting the disabled to their death wore white coats to make it appear like an official medical procedure. Lists of plausible causes of natural death were kept, used to falsify death records, and referred to when penning condolence letters to families. If requested, families received urns of ashes.

 

Authorities didn’t merely justify their actions under the T4 program, they glorified themselves by citing compassion, alleviation of suffering, cost effectiveness, and relieving pressure on the national budget as reasons for eradicating these 70,273 people. They convinced themselves and tried to convince others that they were ending the suffering of the “incurably ill”. The murders of these 70,273 people was best for all concerned, they said.

 

On April 3, 1940 – in the midst of the ongoing T4 atrocity – local authorities convened to hear Viktor Brack, organizer of the T4 Program, speak about the social and economic benefits of the program (http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/euthan/index.html):

 

In many hospitals and nursing homes of the Reich there are countless people with incurable diseases of every kind, people who are of no use at all to the rest of humanity, who are only a burden on society, incurring endless costs for their maintenance, and there is absolutely no prospect of these people ever recovering and becoming useful members of society again. They sit and vegetate like animals, they are social misfits undeserving of life – and yet physically they are perfectly healthy human beings who may well live on for many more years. They eat the food that could be given to others, and in many cases they need twice or three times as much nursing care. The rest of society needs to be protected against these people. Given that we need to make provision now for keeping healthy people alive, it is all the more necessary to get rid of these creatures first, even if only to take better care for now of the curable patients in our hospitals and nursing homes. The space thus freed up is needed for all kinds of things essential to the war effort: military hospitals, civilian hospitals and auxiliary hospitals.” 

 

Read this sentence out loud: “70,273 people were murdered because they were different, because they were “not perfect”, because they were disabled.” If that doesn’t give you chills, make you clench your teeth and stomp your foot, I don’t know what will.

 

Some 43 years ago, I married a man – Andy, or The Engineer as he’s known in social media – who has a sister with mental disabilities resulting from brain trauma that occurred when she was three years old. For reasons we are left to wonder about, neighborhood hoodlums decided it would be great fun to hang her by the neck from a swing set. Bringing Nancy into my life is, without a doubt, one of the best gifts ever. She is a woman of few words and many needs; a woman of little intellect and much wisdom, our Nancy, and had she lived in Germany in 1940-41, she most certainly would have been one of the 70,273. I don’t care how many times it happens, I can’t type that sentence without setting off an avalanche of tears.

 

When The Idea came to call, I was doing what I’ve done since June 2012: stitching her drawings. Her marks, as some would say.  Meaningless marks, others call them. Ask me what I”m doing, and I’ll tell you flat-out: I’m stitching Nancy’s art. She draws, I stitch, we collaborate.

 

It was one of those ideas that creative people spend a lifetime hoping for. An idea that came in fully formed, ready to start, just add heart form. I am gathering 70,273 quilt blocks from around the world to commemorate the 70,273 disabled people who were so casually and callously murdered and to celebrate the people with special needs who live among us today. Commemorate. And celebrate. Both.

 

The quilt blocks – and promise you’ll keep reading without letting the word “quilt” scare you away – are a white base, representing the medical records on which are placed two red X’s, representing the death sentence. There will be, according to The Engineer who knows such things, more than 800 quilts when all is said and done, and not all blocks are stitched. Some folks are using markers, glue, or paint to lay down their red X’s. Whatever method you choose, check your insecurities and perfectionism at the door and remember who we commemorate and celebrate: those who are perfectly imperfect.

 

Thank you Big, Lana, for inviting me here and sharing this post about The 70273 Project. I invite you and each of your readers to become a part of The 70273 Project by making blocks and helping get the word out, and even if all you do is read this blog post, I thank you and say May we never forget this atrocity, because that just paves the way for it to happen again and again and again.

 

 

MORE INFORMATION:

~ the blog: http://www.TheBarefootHeart.com

~ the introductory post: http://thebarefootheart.com/introducing-the-70273-project/

~ specific information on making blocks: http://thebarefootheart.com/making-blocks-for-the-70273-project-fabric-info/

~ facebook group (a campfire for those who want more engagement with other contributors: https://www.facebook.com/groups/the70273project/

~ facebook page (a drive-through for those who want to keep updated, but prefer less engagement): https://www.facebook.com/the70723project/?fref=ts

~ to subscribe to the blog: http://eepurl.com/CkEZz

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Solitude Gives Us the Gift of Creativity

solitude

I used to believe that being alone was the equivalent of being lonely. There was no way that loneliness could be a good thing, so if I spent more free time alone than in the company of people I cared about, I felt lonely. I didn’t like feeling lonely, so that led to my feeling depressed and angry.

Then I learned something important and surprising. Being alone doesn’t have to be the same thing as being lonely. Being isolated doesn’t have to be the same thing as choosing time alone. Even when I can’t get out of the house, I can choose to view my time alone as a gift.

I’m an introvert, so you wouldn’t expect this to be the revelation it was. I never realized that solitude would give me the chance to go more deeply within myself and learn things that I couldn’t when I was fighting my circumstances and feeling angry that my life had changed so radically from what I expected it to be. I didn’t realize that disability and chronic illness could be a gift.  My time alone has been a gift. It has given me access to my creative self in a way I haven’t had in a really long time. I had forgotten so much about my love for words and understood even less. That love for words was a gift from God.

I am thankful for the gift of solitude. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a part of the community and love others. I am just grateful that I can be more of who I was created to be. I can use my creativity to help the world to be a better place, even if it’s just my little corner of it.

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Apparently I Don’t Like Change

I’m struggling to do things in my life differently than I ever have before. I’m trying to believe that there are people out there who are reading this blog, so I keep going, no matter what is trying to keep me from sticking to my work.

But oh, how much harder is it to come back to the keys, especially when I’ve skipped a few days. I don’t think of missing a few days as a failure, but I do feel as if I should apologize to you all and myself for missing these few minutes I spend writing. I know I need to step up my game again. I’ve been tired and distracted and empty. I’ve been reading, in hopes that reading will bring me back home to the page.

Again, it’s the struggling of my body to get through each day that makes it so hard to come back. I barely have enough energy for the important things. Then I remember that yes, this is one of the important things. It is now and will forevermore be one of the MOST IMPORTANT things for me. I need to start acting like that is true.nope

Posted in #whyiwrite, barriers, chronic illness, depression, disability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment