Showing posts from 2017

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Sustainable is the quality of being able to continue indefinitely. It is woven into how we relate to ourselves, our families, our communities, our work,  a nd our world. Being sustainable is a concept that is, at its heart, inclusive because it asks us to consider the web we live in and how we can support and be supported by the threads that connect us to each other. Sustainability is the language of relationships. When I walk on the beach for example, I come into contact with the sand, the water, the rocks, the air, the sun, my thoughts, my feelings, my fellow beach visitors, the birds, the trees, and the plastics. We all occupy a moment in time and space where we are directly aware of each other-- how the wind feels in our hair, how casual conversation creates a sense of belonging and camaraderie-- and yet, there are even more connections beyond this instant that supported us getting to a particular moment at the seaside. And we may start to consider that we exist in re

What Do You Call A Mentally Ill Society...?

Rhetorical questions are meant to be pondered but not explicitly answered. It's an interesting concept, considering that rhetoric itself is the art of persuasive speech...a method of communication designed to manipulate and change the proverbial hearts and minds of an audience rather than to create a dialogue leading to shared vision and action. The rhetoric of this country has long been to convince us that we are one people and yet, also meant to fear one another based on skin color, religious preference, sexual orientation, gender, economic status, education, native language or political affiliation. The message is clear-don't forget you're American (no running off trying to form your own republic or country), but don't get too cozy with your neighbors. Unless they are exactly like you. But not too like you.  And yet, new science shows us that we are all connected. Fractals, chaos theory, self-organizing systems -they all speak to the intricacy and order that

Wind Sword

I drove south last weekend. Hour after hour led me further down the highway, away from my home and into another world that was about to become one. There is magic in being able to move across the land-watching the trees change from evergreen to oak, the sky shifting from grey and melting to a slow blue burn stretching across the horizon. Driving a road is not flying where the view is distant and pulled back. It is different than walking, every step an embrace between foot and earth. Driving offers both scope and meditation, relationship and consequence. And for me, on this sweep down the West Coast, it was a revelation. I slid over the patchwork quilt of the earth herself, noting the rise of hillocks and the sway of valleys melting up the sides of the Siskyous. I observed the body of the mother that sustains me and provides shelter, food and clothing. I saw the gouges made in her flesh to extract gravel, the trees burned and charcoal scenting the air with  wildfire. Lake Shasta

I Have A Brain Injury

The internet is a funny place that seems to run on fairly predictable fuel. Survival. Any of you who have fallen into the black hole of Facebook or the rabbit hole of Youtube can attest to this. If a link or site produces some kind of adrenaline rush in your body, positive or scary, chances are, you'll see where it leads. But maybe I should speak for myself alone. Of course we all have different things that get us amped up. Maybe it's the recent antics of 45 or a debate on white supremacy amongst white folks. Maybe it's a pair of really cute overalls or something that just blew your mind on Pinterest. Whatever your bait, the interwebs seem to be built on triggering the fight or flight mechanisms in our brains. Over the last six months, I have been deliberately rewiring the excitement center in my brain, otherwise known as the Limbic System. But, you say, it's FUN to be excited and provoked! Why would I do this? Well, for one, when anyone's brain is being

Lost in Space

One Autumn I strolled with strangers Beneath crab apple and fuzzed quince trees And asked,  "Do you know what this is?" Their replies, Surfed the cooling winds, Mischievous hand ruffling a cat's sleeping back, "Perhaps a pearapple?" Meanwhile clouds shuffled overhead Scent of apples, Fermenting in the patching sun, Buckeyes dotting the ground, Begging to be palmed and pocketed. It struck me, I once considered this day holy, Week after week, Year upon year, The beauty of holiness revolving around Saturday, Shabbat, Sabado. And more sacred still, Those bound afternoons of trails beckoning- Of cedar and cataract Multnomah and Oneonta Oxalis and Trillium... Rigid hours softening Into seasons and senses, Time put back in its proper place, A salmon come home to spawn.

Clackamas Holy

Growing up in Oregon City, Oregon, words like Clackamas and Willamette rolled off the tongue and stuck deep to bone. They were natural and comfortable, breathing out canoeing sprees in July or school field trips to the old James River paper mill. As kids we’d pack up in the car on Saturdays and head out to grandma and grandpa’s farm in Molalla or head over to Oneonta gorge on particularly hot summer days after church. Thirty miles north stood Celilo Falls, which we’d never actually seen due to construction of The Dalles dam, but my sisters and I begged for stories about dad driving up to buy salmon from the Natives on the weekend. We’d press our faces against the glass on long trips to Walla Walla and imagine the magnificent cascades roaring next to us, Celilo people perching on their platforms, waiting for rock battered salmon to leap into their dipnets. I invented a game called ‘Imagine When’ because of stories like this. Names and places had little conscious inspiration for t

Breathing Trees

There are things you believe in this life, without having ever experienced them directly. Things like the pyramids being real or the Mariana Trench being the deepest place in the sea. Maybe even more esoteric things like Jesus having the power to reverse death or that you can be anything you want to be. I have long believed that the world I live in is alive and breathing. And not to be overly simplistic, but to quote Pocahontas "I know every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name." Up to this point, I have largely relied on a deep knowing with sprinklings of imagination and wishing to engage with the natural world more fully. Like standing on a bluff looking over ancient forests and contemplating each tree as an individual consciousness with stories and experiences and a dynamic adaptive ability that allows it to survive centuries without crumbling. It's very moving and highly interesting to be in the presence of aged witnesses to the passing

If You're White American, You're Racist.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and confess that none of my immediate family relationships have been easy. If you're a normal person, you can probably relate on some level. Of course on some level, we've all seen or dreamed of families where everyone gets along beautifully and actually like each other on top of it, but that is rarely reality. Living around the same people day after day gives you insight into their best and least desirable behaviors. It gives you access to their routines, habits and idiosyncrasies. It teaches you where their hot spots are and how to get them riled up in under three sentences. If you pay attention, it reveals the dark corners of their psyches that they'd rather not visit. Interestingly, it is always easier to identify the issues and secrets of people you live with than it is to articulate your own. Case in point: As a kid growing up in a tempestuous family, I adopted the role of counselor and coach. I would move from one agitated

My Slow Dance With Death

When I was 23 years old I thought I was dying for the third time in my life. Some people face death once, at the end of a long and healthy life. Some of us get a face to face glimpse of our mortality in an accident and choose to come back. And some of us slow dance with death without realizing what we've swayed with until it removes its mask at song's end. I breathed death in as a child and then backed away. After graduating college in England, I had death jump into bed with me in Bangkok, Thailand and seize me by the throat in the middle of the night. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move. All I could think was, "I am dying. Right here in a place where no one knows me and I can't yell for help." Not even my friend knew what was happening as she lay in the bed next to me, sleeping peacefully as I struggled to inhale. Somehow the panic subsided and I felt my chest begin to rise and fall, but the fear was embedded in each heartbeat. This is what it feels

I Am A White Supremacist

I live and grew up in a state that was created specifically for White Americans Only. In grade school, there were exactly three people of color between the ages on 6-14. One was Mexican, one Pakistani and one was black American. Except for the Mexican boy, Charlie, I thought Tiana and Monica were fascinating and had a monopoly on dancing and coolness. I went to them, unconsciously wanting to understand Something I could not define and we spent hours under the church porch talking about boys and practicing dance moves. In the midst of these sessions I carried a sense of longing within me. It was a slight tingling that ached in my chest and sent butterflies racing through my stomach. There was something they had that I would never understand, never be a part of no matter how much rap I listened to or how carefully I studied the way they spoke. It was an invisible barrier that I could not name, much less describe. Occasionally I would wonder why there were not more people of color i

Me, Cancer, and A Heart

Many of you who know me are aware that I had cancer as a child. Many of you who know me may not be. It was one of the defining moments of my life. I was 8 years old. Ironically, getting cancer was the scariest thing I could have imagined. I remember thinking mere months before the first lump appeared, “I hope I never get cancer. That would be the WORST thing that could ever happen. I would probably die.” And then it did. On Christmas, my most favorite of holidays. And at my grandparents' house in Angwin, one of my most favorite places. I would not call myself the most courageous child. Intense, yes. Brave…I was prone to bursting into tears at the mere mention of a doctor visit way before cancer appeared on scene. And yet. There stood the truth, in all its wretched, terrifying reality, demanding my answer. What’s it gonna be, kid? Shrivel up inside your fear? Kick the bucket? Or Fight. I had no idea what my answer was until I found myself lying in bed at Sta

Play First

An era is at an end. Not of one person or president, but of some basic expectations of human conduct from the highest office in the land.  A wise man named billy barr once said, "When I know I'm gonna fall skiing, I just sit down instead of landing on my face." So the question is, what does sitting down look like in the Epoch of Anything Goes? Clearly kindness, science, personal integrity and respect are useless to hold up as standards for our leaders. Just as clearly, we must find common ground or risk the dissolution of our country.  People are already speaking of succession and partitioning parts of the country which do not agree with the ideology of the incoming regime. Whether this gains enough support to produces results is almost a moot point because it underscores the disintegration of unity around a significant purpose-namely, One Nation under God, INDIVISIBLE, with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for ALL. (my emphasis) We needn't look far to

I Lost It

Why was it so easy to go inside, shut the door and plug into a virtual world? Do you remember when you first sat at a computer? First had a cell phone? First owned your own personal computer? Some people may not remember now because their world always had such things in them, but I remember the advance of technology and it started when I was 12. Before 6th grade, the most complex machine I used was an automatic typer that would flash a pixelated letter across the thin screen until you hit the right key. But when I discovered Oregon Trail and Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego, a tractor beam began to pull. By high school, I was racing through Keyboarding class which taught the basics of word processing and occasionally using my parent's cell phone that was the size of a bread loaf and about as easy to talk on. In college, I received my first email address and installed my first home modem with the help of my techy boyfriend, Rolf. A cell phone followed shortly after, a

Warts and All

To Our Dear Fellow Human Beings: This year has been a time to reflect upon what our deepest commonalities truly are. We have been forced to acknowledge that there are differences between ourselves and people we thought we shared values, political leanings or global sentiments with. We have seen relationships go through growing pains and in some cases, detach. We have had our feet held to the fire as we wrestle with the question, “What happens now?” In the Eld-Mathis family, we have found ourselves confronted with choices about how we eat and how we treat people we differ wildly in opinion with. Just a few months ago, Tobias and I watched a documentary called Cowspiracy which talks about the environmental impact of the animal agriculture business and were compelled to admit that we needed to move towards a more plant based diet. That is, IF we wanted to exercise our finite ability to make a positive impact on the planet we all share. It is not easy to shift in that direction