Workers of the World, Unite!

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Pete Seeger, in Shielagh’s translation of a photo originally appearing in Bluegrass Today

Today is May 1st, May Day, the International Day of the Worker, a day to show solidarity with labor unions and their hardworking members everywhere. If you work an 8-hour day, thank a union. If you work a 40-hour week, thank a union. If you get a break in the morning and the afternoon, thank a union. If you get paid overtime when your hours exceed the 8-hour day or 40-hour week, thank a union.

Lest we toss the Workers of the World Unite slogan, attributed to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, into some extremist dustbin, read what Abraham Lincoln said in his first annual message to Congress in 1861:

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. 

— U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861

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Union blood runs through our veins in this family. My parents were both union members. My dad, an architect and set designer for the motion picture industry (MGM and Twentieth Century Fox) in the 1960s, belonged to the IBEW, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. My mother worked as a draftsperson and also as a set designer for RKO Pictures in the late 1940s and belonged to the IATSE, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. I belonged to the CWA, The Communications Workers of America, when I worked in the business office of Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania and then belonged to the IBEW during a brief stint as a directory assistance operator. My husband retired as a member of the CWA after a career in the public sector. His father belonged to the APWU, The American Postal Workers Union as a postal worker. His mother belonged to DC 37 of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, as a human resources clerical employee for the City of New York. And for almost 20 years, I maintained my psychotherapy office in the Amalgamated Lithographers Union Building near Union Square in New York.

This country was built on union strength. Let’s support those thousands of hard working men and women lending their collective strength to extend the union movement and thereby strengthen this great nation. Our best times as a country have been when unions have surged, bringing freedom from want, freedom from preventable illness through affordable healthcare, and freedom from job insecurity.

So, let us turn up the sound and let our voices ring, as we join Pete Seeger singing, “Union Maid” with its iconic refrain, “You can’t scare me, I’m sticking with the union.”

And perhaps you remember the ballad of Joe Hill, a martyr to the union cause, as sung so beautifully by Joan Baez:

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 4

Diversion seems essential these days. I get mine from observing the birds, turtles and dragonflies on the large pond behind our place, reading well-written legal novels and police procedurals, cooking and baking, walking and working out, visiting with friends and family, and enjoying the gorgeous Florida weather, sugar-sand beaches and gulf waters. And my writing is less of a diversion and more of focused, creative process, which thanks to WordPress and the Daily Post I’m doing much more regularly. I also read the blogs of my fellow WordPressers. Many have inspired me to do more, write better, and persevere. We really have some great writers in this community. I’ve begun a series of short stories on this blog, or perhaps chapters of something bigger, but for now it’s at least a serial fiction. Lit crit is welcomed!

So where are we this week with diversions?

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Do you meditate regularly? Me, too, but there are many kinds of meditation, and you might enjoy trying something new.

 

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Did you ever wonder what your choice of car color may mean about you? Gas Buddy has some answers.

 

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Photo courtesy of Demoose, airliners.net.

 

 

 

 

 

I never knew how dehydrating inflight air can be until I read several blogs on the subject. I don’t fly more than once or twice a year, but some of my friends and family take lengthy flights across the globe with some frequency. Info in these three blogs might just save your skin. Really! Even you guys might learn something you can use.

 

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Flow chart courtesy of Ferguson fan @tbskyen

Lastly, I need to remember this above all. Truly. I mean tattoo it on the insides of my eyelids. Or print it out and put it on a mirror or inside of a cupboard door, or over my desk. These short questions are golden. Many thanks to Craig Ferguson for asking them. He probably wasn’t the first to say them, but he has brought them to the masses, i.e. us. In fact, this may be the best part of this post today.

So, Lionel Richie:

Namasté

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The Aesthetics of Spirulina (or not)

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It’s also called blue-green algae. Turns your smoothie a dark turquoise color, doesn’t add to flavor but does supposedly add to nutrition, with a high level of protein and essential vitamins. The aroma of the powder is not so pretty, sort of a stagnant  waterfront smell. Or like your cat’s breath.

And not so fast. A healthcare professional and one of my most trusted sources of medical information, Dr Michael Greger, suggests skipping spirulina in favor of chlorella. Spirulina can contain dangerous toxins and therefore may cause neurological, liver and other problems. Eek! I just downed a smoothie made with pomelo, Meyer lemon juice, banana, ginger and Knudsen Mega C juice. And a teaspoon of powdered spirulina.

Then I looked up “spirulina odor” and learned that if it is “unpleasant” it may have oxidized and shouldn’t be used. Not only does this one stink but I can smell it when the cupboard door is closed. Opening the door makes it stronger, and you could faint sniffing the closed container. So in the midst of writing this post, I found the receipt and put that and the spirulina into a ziplock bag to return.

Aesthetic? Not so much. But then when I first saw this Daily Post topic, I thought it says anesthetic.

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For The Daily Post

Meditating to the Rhythms of the Palms and Opening Our Hearts to those in Need

Every day I sit to meditate, except on those days when I have too much pain or fatigue to do anything but lie down. The practice has brought me great peace, calm and even moments of joy. I highly recommend it. I love to meditate to silence, but this is not always possible, so I find nature sounds or subtle music that doesn’t distract to accompany my sessions.

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Maui Beach

Recently I discovered an album on Amazon Music called Hawaiian Spa and I really enjoy the sounds.

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I haven’t been able to locate a YouTube of any of it online, so I’ll share this Amazon Prime link where you can hear it, or order it for yourself.

And if you can’t access Prime, you can also listen to this instead, with lovely music and calming Hawaiian scenes to enjoy as you relax.

Ahhh.

 

Now, if your stress has melted away and you feel pretty good, here’s a way you can help someone else feel good, too! My dear cousin Paula’s son Brian and daughter-in-law Amber lived in Gatlinburg, Tennessee until a couple of days ago when the massive wildfires there totally destroyed their house. They need so much help, escaping with little more than the clothes on their back and their three kitties. If you can help even a little, here is the link to their GoFundMe page.

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Brian York and Amber Hosea

I and my family thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the generosity of all who pitch in to help Brian and Amber.

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Revisiting Compassionate Listening

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In the two years since I first published a post on compassionate listening, I’ve had many opportunities, both personally and professionally, to experience how very essential to our wellbeing and our relationships compassionate listening truly is.

Whether our listening involves another person face to face, on the phone, or via text or email, or just watching a speaker on TV, we can miss a lot if we aren’t giving what we hear (or consume electronically) our full attention. True wisdom mandates we really attend to the other person openly, empathically and with kindness.

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I have encountered two more potential impediments to compassionate listening and both relate to aging that I experience in my work as a psychologist practicing psychotherapy. Because I’m now a Medicare provider in an area with fewer such providers, my psychotherapy practice embraces more older men and women than ever before. As I and those around me get older I’ve had many personal experiences with these listening impediments as well.

The first impediment is impaired hearing in which the listener mishears or fails to hear all our words and “fills in” what they think we said, sometimes getting it very wrong. Later someone one tells us emphatically that we said thus and so, perhaps something very contrary to our intent or even tragically so, creating a conflict we must now try to resolve, a potential distraction to the potentially sensitive work at hand. It can be extremely frustrating to both speaker and listener for the communication to break down simply because one or both parties can’t hear as well as they think they do. While it can be amusing, as the photo below illustrates, usually communication failure due to hearing problems is far from funny. It’s embarrassing and frustrating and interferes with friendly interactions.

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The second impediment is the increasingly frequent word-finding difficulty most older people experience. We all do this from time to time, and as we get older it happens with greater frequency. Speakers may pause as they search for certain words or familiar phrases, creating gaps in the narrative. A frustrated listener might quickly offer suggestions, and this can be perceived as a failure to respect the speaker’s competency or autonomy.

Another variation on the word-finding phenomenon is the speaker reaching into his or her vast vocabulary database, as it were, and pulling out a similar but incorrect word. image The similarity may be sound (e.g. tractor for factor). It may be the way the word begins or ends (shrimp for sharp), or relate in some other way we cannot fathom as the speaker struggles to get a point across. The listener then wonders what this is supposed to mean and may ask. The annoyed or frustrated response may follow, “You know what I mean!” Perhaps we do, but what if we don’t?

Compassionate listening involves seeing and feeling the struggle that others are experiencing and giving them time and space to find their way. If they grow silent with overwhelm or discouragement, or say, “Forget it!” we might ask, “Want me to try to help you with what you’re trying to say?” If they ask us to suggest a word, we should do so, but with the tentative deference suggesting we leave it to them to confirm or reject our suggestion. I find it helps to offer something like, “I’m having trouble hearing what you’re trying to say. My fault. Would you please try again?”

As we ourselves get older we probably will do the same sometimes. Our compassion for others with these difficulties will help us be compassionate towards ourselves if we fumble to express ourselves so that our listener understands. And if we have developed compassion towards ourselves by practicing Metta, or loving kindness, in our meditation practice as well as our daily interactions, we will naturally feel more compassion as we listen.

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Namasté

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Daruma or Bodhidharma: Early Zen Master

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This craggy early Zen Master, known as Daruma in Japan and Bodhidarma elsewhere in the Buddhist world, has been immortalized by Zen scholar Hakuin.

Learn more about the gifted monastic artist who painted Daruma and other Buddhist figures many times during his 15 years of artistic expression in this post at Buddhism Now https://buddhismnow.com/2016/05/01/the-sound-of-one-hand-paintings-and-calligraphy-by-zen-master-hakuin/

In the accompanying video at Buddhism Now and produced by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), curator Rob Singer gives the background and context of the artist Hakuin.

Namasté

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