"Sometimes the only power you have is to tell your story." -Evelyn Wilde

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why Movies Matter

I believe one of life's greatest pleasures is going to the movies alone on a Tuesday afternoon. Whether on a reel of celluloid, VCR, cable, DVD or Netflix, it is in films where I have found identity and humanity.  In the past few weeks, responding to the Trump Administration, I have taken refuge again.


Of course, other people can ruin your lovely afternoon. Just last week, stealing a few hours to watch a matinee of Moonlight. for the second time. I arrived too late to visit the restroom before I saw Barry Jenkins' beautiful film the first time. I had to leave the cinema begrudgingly, when my bladder demanded to be relieved, missing the emotional heart of the movie; a scene between the main character and his mother.

I wont ruin it for you (unlike the woman a few rows in front of me at my second viewing) but it felt like I had missed something too important to not see again.

Approaching that scene was the emotional climax and catharsis I had missed, yet just as the scene began, an irritated woman chose that moment to yell at the elderly couple who had been mumbling to each other throughout the film  (3/4 of the way in, and NOW, you feel the need to voice your objection...really!?!) She effectively tear blocked me; yanking me out of Moonlight's world and back into my mundane, irritating experience.


But seeing Moonlight is an experience I will gladly have a third time. Probably at home, alone, with the ability to pause and rewind.

In the past few weeks I have also seen Suffragette, a period film set in England during the early 20th century, when women were jailed and beaten for daring to ask for equal representation under the law.

I watched McFarland, USA about a high school PE teacher, aptly named Mr. White, who trains a cross country running team and learns to love and respect the community of migrant, Mexican farm workers as a result.

May I just take a moment here to say that Kevin Costner does not get the respect he deserves for his often humanizing and boundary pushing work. Remember The Bodyguard? Interracial romance was a big deal back in the day. Telling the stories of Mexican immigrants feels just as necessary now.

Then there was Grandma, Lilly Tomlin's film from last year about helping her granddaughter acquire a safe, legal abortion. It's the best performance I've seen from her and a powerful reflection on the choice made by millions of women and why we must protect it.

And then there is Moonlight. A film set in the 1980/90s in a poor, black community of Miami where being gay, sensitive, and different got you ridiculed and bloodied, on a good day. The film moves more like a play. because it was one; a play written by a man who attended the same high school I did. Although younger than me by a few years, so not someone I knew or could claim any affiliation, other than alma mater, but I'll still name drop you, Tarell Alvin McCraney.

What is captured in Moonlight is a Miami rarely, if ever, seen on film, and my tangential connection to both the city, and the hive of artistic expression at New World School of the Arts which produced it, makes me so proud. A feeling I rarely harbor for Miami, certainly not the Miami of Bad Boys and The Birdcage.

Whatever the genre, there's certainly one for everybody, the cinema has provided an escape for people going through difficult times for over a century. The Great Depression, World War II, the AIDS epidemic, or more personal, private troubles, a movie theater has provided sanctuary to those in need of air conditioning and a respite from their reality.

At this moment,  I need movies in my life-- to remind me of the beauty and the struggle of being a person. Even if the other people in the theater are the worst.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Liberal & the Privileged

This is an olive branch- a hand offered in friendship. I want to offer a commitment to vulnerable people who are not me, from me- the white lady who shops at Whole Foods and sends love to the universe almost every time I do Yoga. 

I like quality coffee, gastropubs and bike riding. A street market makes me inexplicably happy. I know who I am.

My privilege does not ignore your struggle if I consider you in my choices. Many of us are trying our best to do that; to being better white people.

My commitment to seeing your struggle as my struggle, by doing what I can with what I have (I am still a woman so there are limits to my power) are sincere.


In Portland, Oregon the first non-profit pub just opened.  I mean- how cool is that? Yeah, its "so Portland" to donate to charity by sipping a local, IPA, but is that really a problem? It's a bit like hating Bono. That Twat! Positively impacting people's lives for decades.

What I'm asking for is a detente within Liberalandia.


We must stop shouting at one another and dividing up by our causes, colors and credit scores. This is not the time for Liberals to be taking anyone offering their support for granted. That is a privilege none of us have in Trump's America.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In Protest

This is really happening.

Donald J. Trump is going to be sworn in as the President of the United States.

I know. I know. I know.

So much has been thrown at us in the last two years. What am I thinking? In the last two days.

Is Russia the Puppet Master of all of this? Is Trump seriously going after a Civil Rights Activist for speaking his mind?

I'm just trying to block out the pee stuff.

Is any of this legal? Are we powerless to stop it? Do we find ourselves at this terrifying precipice over an email server??

I haven't written since early November because I've been at a loss- for words, for empathy, for hope. It has taken all my training to compartmentalize with my patients, and all my personal growth to turn the news off when I start yelling at the anchor. I'm trying to maintain perspective in what seem like upside down times. Some days are better than others.

By my estimation, the next four years, will be a never ending version of the Celebrity Apprentice, with Conservative, mostly white, wealthy men crafting the agenda. Flattery will get you everywhere, dissent will get you called a "fat, ugly pig" on Twitter and your name placed on a list, at best.

Maybe we avoid a horrific catastrophe and he does pull it off; America becomes the Corporation that Republicans so desire- free from the messy business of living -- "You got problems- sort them out in your own time. We're making money over here."

So, as I fundamentally disagree with the incoming Administration, I'm heading to Miami on January 21st to march in protest and peace with other women and allies. I'm going because I need to feel that positive energy around me--to not feel so alone in my horror at the disregard for dignity and honesty. I want to be around those who can transform, nurture and create. I want to remind myself that racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia are not policy platforms of a free society, nor is being an asshole a political position.


At the heart of my protestations is disappointment. This is not the country I thought I would be living in at 42 years of age. America, circa 2017, is not the shining example of Democracy my family wanted to be a part of in 1979. Progress should move us forward, not backwards, right?

Progressives, and by that I only mean people capable of taking in new information and admitting when they have been wrong, are trying to get to the next level of our evolution,  but it's as if we are burdened with a Trump Supporter (to generalize a demographic I don't fully understand) anchoring their misinformed ignorance and obstinate resistance to our heels. You're slowing us down, people!! I can still see tuition free college and universal health care in the distance if I squint.

So that is why I'm marching on Saturday. Because I have to keep moving forward. Even if the winds of change are polluted with the debris of dissent.  I stand with the Resistance because I won't stop trying to be better than I was yesterday.

 Please join me.



Resources to fight back: 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dear Hillary

Dear Secretary Clinton,

It has been two days since the election results came in and dreams of millions, but yours in particular, were lost.  I can’t read any more think piece autopsies of why we failed. I just want to write to you in an effort to convey my respect and sincere gratitude. 


Beyond the appreciation I feel for your decades of public service, it is your perseverance and accomplishments, in the face of divisiveness, misogyny, false claims, and hyperbole that I admire most.  No mere mortal could have maintained their composure and focus the way you have.

I know that self-care, introspection and solitude are needed in moments like these. I hope you are spending time with those whom you love and cherish. I am still rapid cycling through the stages of grief; not quite ready to be the bigger person and accept this defeat.  Unlike you, who demonstrated grace throughout this campaign, especially in the speech you gave just hours after your concession.

I am not a person of faith but in times of loss and despair I turn to my Yoga practice and the bumper stickers of wisdom I have collected over the years-- a mash up of Eastern Philosophy and down home wisdom. One that came up almost immediately for me was ‘Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’ attributed to the Dalai Lama.  

It is conjecture to imagine what the next four years would have been like for you. However, I think it is reasonable to suggest that the obstructive actions and hateful rhetoric you, and therefore we, would have had to endure might just have broken us irrevocably. 

As Republicans seem to have taken a particular interest in your demise, long before we sent each other emails, there is no doubt that Donald Trump’s supporters, and their elected officials, would not be capable of the gracious reserve you and the majority of your supporters are exhibiting right now.

Your commitment to Democracy is strong enough to step aside, even though you were quantifiably more qualified, dignified, prepared and capable than any other person who aspired for the position. For this, Mrs. Clinton, you are a hero to me and millions of people at home and abroad.

Thank you for being brave, for not backing down to the sexism you have faced in your life. Thank you for being patient with this country. A country which clearly has lessons to learn before it is ready to accept and embrace a woman with your resume to represent us.

With a heavy but hopeful heart, thank you for aspiring to lead us towards a progressive future we are clearly not collectively ready to receive.

Best wishes,

Natasha

Monday, October 24, 2016

Political Healing

Pre-Election Anxiety is real: Hypervigilance, perceived feelings of threat, loss of hope, gaslighting- all are legitimate reasons for what might be troubling me and many others. I process all these feelings in sessions with my patients and they have escalated within the past year to be sure.

I also recommend personally, to friends and family, that through the power of our vote we perform a 'Trumpectomy' come November 8th.

What has been exposed will need to heal, come what may on November 9th, but purging the poison, stitching that cut, popping that pimple-- it has to happen before any treatment can be applied. The ugly rhetoric, the polarized views on race, women, immigrants and Islam, they have to be let out, like a nasty fart.

What has been exposed through Donald Trump's campaign is a reminder of bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia which run deep in a significant number of people. People who fight in our wars, fix our cars and teach our kids. They cannot be dismissed as "deplorable" because they are our neighbors and often our friends, or even family.

These beliefs are a product of culture, economy, family history, even Anthropology. Historically, a majority of English immigrants settled on the East Coast of America and brought with them their legacy of education and the law. The immigration of Scots-Irish in the Appalachia regions of the country came from a 'warrior' genealogy and might explain why so many of those descendants have contributed to our Military. The Pioneers who headed West for opportunity represent the innovation and progressive values we see today in Silicon Valley.

What used to resemble a healthy respect for the contribution of each culture's skill sets now seems only to be viewed with suspicion and disdain. Yet, as is the American ideal, all of us contribute towards and benefit from the promise of Life, Liberty, and Justice. Even though the definition of that founding truth has had to be expanded many times to include many of us.

Despite the misinformation and bias which truly is at the heart of much of the animosity towards Secretary Clinton and Democrats, (and in that respect is the responsibility of the Media-- the source of our news) what lies beneath is a real fear for financial futures, for the safety of families, and a lost way of life. Donald Trump represents an alternative treatment where politics has so often failed to diagnose and alleviate suffering. But beware of Snake Oil Salesmen promising a quick fix or 100% satisfaction.

We have a lot further to walk on this bridge towards progress but without the brawn and the brain of our all citizens we will only ever achieve partial remission from what ails us.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Torch and Flame

U.S.A.!! U.S.A!! I mean, right?! We're absolutely killing it out there in Rio.

Every four years Americans remember just how strong and awesome we are, standing on those podiums more than any other country. Olympians who look like us. Really in shape versions of us. They are black, white, Muslim, Jewish, silly and shy.

Olympics, sport in general, reminds us of the power in excellence; of the rules of engagement and fair play. Cheaters are shunned. Hard work and commitment sometimes pays off in gold but always in pride. Underdogs are welcomed, celebrated even.

The Olympics are about the best-- the most perfect-- what we can control within seconds or inches.


How fantastically satisfying that these Olympics fall just before a United States election. An election mired in narcissism, paranoia, fear and the 24 hour media coverage of their symptoms.

The juxtaposition of elite sports and government could not be more stark. We as a nation, a people--humanity-- whether in America, Britain or Zambia-- are still trying to craft that more perfect union between our realities and our ideals, and the results are far from perfect.

It is so easy to get despondent and cynical. Just glancing at the news sends me into a rage cycle.


The blame must be shared though. We seek personalities whom we respond well to. We are misinformed on the process and policy and have not fought back hard enough against the powers that be. But I don't wake up to a security briefing every morning, do you? I don't know anything about how this country actually functions.
 
I just know I really needed health insurance and, when I finally got it, I felt like a citizen of a government that cared about me.

I know when gas prices are too high or when rising rent exiles me from my community. I know that black children do not deserve to be shot and killed and I want very much for people to stop that from happening.

I do know that as a Member of the U.S.A Board  (ie. a Voter) my responsibility is to elect the best person for the job-- I'm not obliged to agree with every choice they've ever made or like their face all that much. Perfection is a false promise in politics. Sometimes a vote is the best choice between "meh" and "WTF!?"

Voltaire is quoted as saying: "Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good."

Compromise, showing up, accepting good enough, getting better, being aware of our "areas for improvement" and having the patience to see it through. That is all we can control.

Commitment and vision are what politics and sport do share. But let's reserve perfect for Simone Biles and Michael Phelps this year.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Chicks and Chicos: Advice for young adults

I had a moment today when I realized that the time has arrived for me to start shopping at Chico's. Everything about my choice in jewelry, loose, soft fabrics, and ready for a casual gathering vibe leads straight to their door.

Basically, I'm turning 42 this year and it's time to embrace being "middle-aged" with gusto and tunics. That's the advice I would give myself.

As a Psychotherapist I don't really give advice- its not helpful. The work is the process of guided self discovery. But 16-20 year olds, whom I love working with, so often want to get right to the practical stuff : "Just tell me what to do" they plead, even though the truth is, even if I did, they would still screw it up spectacularly because that's what they need to do.

Nevertheless, this blog is not my office so herein lies my advice for those High School Juniors/Seniors and recent graduates. The young, beautiful kidadults staring into their future with giddy excitement and paralyzing fear of getting it all terribly wrong.

I'm not talking about the scholars, artists or single-minded genius who never questioned their purpose or Harvard Law pedigree. I'm speaking to kids like the one I was-- who don't have a clue.



1. Get a trade. Learn how to do something practical: hairdresser, waitress, mechanic, barista, etc. Have a trade that you know, no matter what, will afford you some independence.

2. Get your Associate degree as soon as possible. Complete all those basic, 101 required courses while you are working or have parents who will still float you. Then wait and work and travel.

3. Travel anywhere. Just go explore your city, state, country, the world. There are more programs than ever before to assist you on your adventures: WWOOF, Study Abroad, AmericCorps. Or take that trade and move to another city and find a job.

You will reach a sharp edge of existential crises eventually and that is when you will know if you want to study further. At that point ask yourself what you are curious about. What would you do if you could do anything? Then figure out how to do it.

4. Money does get you better stuff and opportunities but not necessarily better people- remember and value your friendships.

5. Use birth control and wear condoms- always. Do not have a child until your parents have not paid for your phone, car, and/or health insurance for at least two years. But have a baby by 35 so you don't start freaking out and making impulsive choices. Biology is real.

6. If you don't want to be a mother (or father) more than anything else, that is also valid and normal. Travel more, sleep in, eat gourmet food. Repeat.

7. Date without remorse We are so focused on finding "the one" that each rejection feels profound and painful, yet there will always be others when you are open to meeting new people.

8. When you do find true companionship + great sex- lock it down and let go of being single. You will think fondly of being single, you may crave that extra attention and the thrill of the chase, but remember that being single was lonely most of the time. You can't really have it both ways unless both of you agree to the terms. Monogamy is tough but it's also the price of admission in my experience.

9. Try to save a bit of money every month and don't go into debt over "stuff."

10. Tell your parents "thank you" regularly- even if they were rubbish. They had their moments and yes, they screwed you up, but they are yours and you are theirs. Accept and embrace the glorious mess you all are.

Now get out there and wear leggings like pants, bikinis, man buns and shorts smaller than my underwear. Chico's will be there one day for you, too.