“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin
It’s been almost a week since we convened to hug Sandy Davis’ neck. I wish we could meet every Friday for dinner, or just laughs. Jeanne Marie’s phone says all that needs saying about my Kentucky tribe. I love them all so much, and I’m so lucky to have them as friends.
“In a world full of people who couldn’t care less, be someone who couldn’t care more.” ~ Unknown
Queen Sandy Davis was in town from Boston and I was lucky enough to catch her for dinner. In fact, a bunch of us had the pleasure of dining with Sandy this evening, and I feel safe in saying ‘a good time was had by all.’ Her hugs are just as kind and long as they’ve ever been; her smile lights up the room, and her spirit brings us all together in a way few others can. My life got better the day I met Sandy Davis. I’m very fortunate to call her friend. In fact, every one of these people enrich me every day. I couldn’t love them more.
“In a way life itself tracks a person’s generosity, much like an airline might track frequent flyer miles. The more you give, the more you earn, the higher you fly, and the further you go.” ~ Robin Jackson
Today I did something I’ve never done. I went to a protest march; the Women’s March. I tend to keep my political views to myself. The outhouse provides me a positive, creative outlet. Politics don’t really belong here because I don’t find them particularly positive. But today I have to talk about it. I exercise my right to vote at every election, and I take that very seriously. A century ago, women were beaten and scorned and God knows what to get me that right. I refuse to dishonor them by not going to the polls. My father and his brothers, even my mother through her military service, fought to uphold this right as well. I honor them when I cast my votes. As a progressive in Kentucky I often lose, but I go to the polls anyway. You can call me a lot of things, but sore loser isn’t one of them.
I did not go to the march as an anti-president protestor. I never want our presidents to fail. I don’t want congress to fail. Nobody wins if/when these things happen. No, I went to the march because ours is a democracy admired around the world for its ability to survive whatever gets thrown at us, and that survival depends solely on people getting off their asses when they don’t like what they see and doing something about it. I went to the march because of the inexcusable behavior during the campaign that allowed America’s underbelly of racist, sexist, cruelly insensitive hypocritical culture, the level of which is nearly incomprehensible, to raise its head. It’s not the campaign tone alone that I have a problem with; it’s the culture to which that behavior gave voice. Disturbing though it is, I am not at all surprised by it. You don’t have to be a minority to know it’s there. You just have to be willing to acknowledge it.
A man did not win the American presidential election. Apathy won the election. Frankly, I think having a president who did not earn his seat by popular vote, buoyed by a single-party controlled congress that, thus far, appears perfectly alright with whatever happens regardless of the consequences, will be an excellent thing for this country. Let’s hear it for this reawakened bravado of the McCarthy-era wealthy, white patriarchy. You can’t fight what you can’t see. So, here it is, front and center. If you don’t like it, do something about it. If you do like it, enjoy it. I suspect this current Washington line-up is just the punch in the gut that Apathy needed. After what I witnessed today, the mid-term congressional elections are in 2018, and this resistance train is mighty and moving fast. Things will change.
I went to the Women’s March today expecting nothing but women. Boy, was I in for a surprise. There were just as many men. They made my heart sing. There were young people and elderly people. There were people in wheelchairs and babies in strollers, and gay people and straight people and people somewhere in between, and black and brown and white people, and people in costumes I didn’t understand at all. There were friends and colleagues and strangers all around me. This might have been called the Women’s March, but this was really The People’s March. This is what democracy looks like, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.
I’ve seen estimates for Lexington’s Women’s March between 5000-9000 people. There was an estimated 2.5 million protestors across the country today, apparently making this the largest protest in American history. I marched today for my mother, and my grandmothers, my aunts and cousins, friends and colleagues, and for all the men I know who would never condone the behavior that’s been unleashed. Jim Brown and Lance Hughes felt particularly close. I marched for my dad who loves me from the bottom of his heart and would never, ever, ever talk about me like a piece of meat. He is a decent, honorable man. We are so blessed to live in a country that gives us the right to peaceably assemble, and for our voices to be heard. God knows we’ve got our faults, but America is already great, and I reject any suggestion that it is not. I’m not a political junky or an activist. My view here is simple compared to the complexity of the situation. All I really know is that I love everybody. I don’t care what a person’s religion is, or who they sleep with, or how many sins they may – or may not have – committed, or what color their skin is. If they are kind, respectful human beings, I welcome them in my world, and I hope they would welcome me into theirs. To me, this is what being Christ-like looks like, and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It is also fundamental to my political views.
“Fear has two meanings:
‘Forget everything and run’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’
The choice is yours.”
~ Zig Ziglar
Erin Chandler had a gathering to say goodbye to 2015, welcome 2016, and bring together a few family and friends for laughs, food, and music. Indeed, we had all of that and more. Some of us met for the first time. Others of us knew one another from various and sundry parts of our lives. And many of Erin’s closest family joined in the celebration.
Erin’s first cousin, Whit, confessed to me as we stood in the kitchen. He confessed that he attended many a Stealin Horses show at Café LMNOP during his youth. He was the guy doing the pogo. If you’ve ever seen a Stealin Horses show, you’ll know that during our take on Gloria, Kiya would pogo at some point, and always the dancers would join in. Whit was one of those Solid Gold Dancers! He made my night with that story. Plus, I realized that I hadn’t been crazy all these years by thinking I knew him from somewhere. I really did.
Whit’s mom, Erin’s Aunt Toss, was drawn to the music. She was also drawn to Silas House. She was very cute about it, too, making her way around the room quietly, weaving in and out of the crowd, until finally, she made him scoot over so she could sit beside him. She’d had her eye on him from the start. Ultimately, however, she was in it for the music. The bottom photo with Whit warms my heart so much. He is so tender with her in the way he talks with her, the way he touches her. Frankly, I think Whit hung the moon. That he’s also one of the world’s best huggers is just icing on the cake.
It was a great evening just as Erin intended. Before dinner we each said what we were grateful for in 2015 and what we hoped for in 2016. I’m blessed in so many ways and grateful for every bit of it. That’s true in 2015, and it will be true in 2016 come what may.
“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
~ James Allen
I had a guest register available at the reception. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until I went to bed Friday night. I attended All Saints Day service this morning and picked it up afterward. Sixty people attended Friday’s reception. Sixty people took time out of their lives to come see my work. Some I’d never met before Friday. Some sneaked in and out without my seeing them though they were kind enough to leave their signature. Some drove nearly two hours to be there. Some took off work. Some were recovering from major surgery. Some couldn’t stay long, and others stayed the whole time. Someone pointed out how many segments of my life were assembled in that room: family, close friends, old friends, new friends, co-workers, writers, actors, artists, musicians, librarians, bankers, software developers, railroad men, professors, social workers, therapists, pathologists, nutritionists, the list goes on. They’re not all represented in this collage, but I couldn’t think of a better way to have a group hug in the outhouse. Sixty people. I may be speechless for a week I’m so overcome with gratitude.
“Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.”
Look at those smiles. This was exactly what I’d hoped for at the reception, and every picture I have from last night shows nothing but smiles. I’m told Stacy Yelton was so proud of me and the work that she was fluttering about singing praises to everyone who would listen. She played tour guide and took my family up to the sanctuary where they all sang Amazing Grace together. I’m really sorry I missed that. How do you repay that kind of support? I’m speechless yet again.
“You’re only human. You don’t have to have it together every minute of every day.”
~ Anne Hathaway
I want to talk about just how awesome Sandy Davis is. First, her photo bombs of Josh James at last night’s Gallery Hop are a scream, the bottom two especially. Not the top one, though we three agreed it is an excellent photo of Josh. In any case, Sandy’s got mad photo bomb skills, but that’s really not my central point. The point is, she is a great example of how you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get on with living the good life.
We’re all faced with challenges along the way. Some of us face small incremental tests. Some of us get way more than our share. Some of us face enormous tribulations at birth, or early in life. Some of us get lucky and go without a big hurtle for decades. Whatever the case may be, as I see it, nobody gets through this life without events that test our fortitude, and build our character. Thankfully, there’s art. There is exceptional healing value in the creative process, regardless of medium, or the challenge at hand. To create is to be in a state of meditation like nothing else. “Be Here Now,” as Ram Dass said. You have to be in the moment to make art. Cross that meditation with the dedication/determination to do roughly the same thing every day for a period of time – 100 days, a year, whatever – and the energy and power that’s created in and around you is transformative. Good vibrations are real, and this is one way to manifest goodness. Sandy’s been on a rough patch for a while, but just look at her now! The 100 day pastel challenge transformed her, in much the same way the outhouse brought me through, and out of, the worst period of my life to date. What a beautiful thing it is to watch someone come back to life as Sandy has done. It’s like watching the first rose bud in spring open; fragrant, delicate, alive. Just look at all the fun and smiles (except for Sandy’s heil Hitler shot – that’s just funny to look at): Sandy made that happen, and that is a glorious thing to behold. A strong and mighty woman she is. I’m so proud to be her friend.