“Peace can become a lens through which you see the world. Be it. Live it. Radiate it out. Peace is an inside job.” —Wayne Dyer
2020 has been an emotional year for most of us. The entire world has been impacted by Covid-19. Our country has visions of twittering, tweeting, marching, and burning throughout the Presidential elections. Fortunately, the election is over and as I write most of the votes have been certified and a winner chosen. A chapter in our nation’s history is coming to a close.
But unfortunately, the virus is still rampant among us closing schools, keeping us from seeking out family and friends, hurting small business and restaurants. When we look back on 2020, I’m not sure what the history books will say about how we were impacted by Covid-19. We know our lives have fundamentally changed. Some of those changes will return to normal with a vaccine, hopefully by spring. But some will stay with us. For example, many people may always work remotely. We’ve gotten so used to packages we may not return to shopping in stores. Hopefully, we will return to seeing our friends over coffee and at churches and social outings.
On Wednesday, March 25, Governor Little ordered Idahoans to shelter in place in a effort to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus for 21 days. Our family currently at home consists of my husband, a physician who goes into the hospital daily and myself and our pets, two dogs and a cat. When my husband heads out early to do rounds, I am essentially sheltering alone. I have marked off my calendar with the days that the order holds. I’m treating it like an advent calendar. Assuming Idaho is able to bring the virus under control, we will be able to return to some sense of normalcy by April 14. I check off each day, another grand adventure at home. If we are successful at reducing the spread, the time in shelter will be worth it.
At the moment I feel lucky because my son, Scott, lives in Seattle, a virus hot-spot and has been staying home since March 1 so almost a month longer than my husband and I. Since Seattle hasn’t managed to turn the curve yet, he may be staying home even longer. So far Scott who works for the Starbucks Corporate Office has been very fortunate to be able to continue his work from home. Every day we read about more layoffs. The ability to work from home is a true blessing. I am retired so my office floats around the house. I have a lot of electrical equipment to conduct my retired affairs including an I-Phone, I-Pad, portable computer, desk top etc. I am practically computer illiterate so I feel lucky every day I am able to write a coherent sentence on equipment that is smarter than me.
Here are my lists of delights since we have moved to sheltering:
1. Walking a couple miles a day around our neighborhood. We have a mansion going in up the street from us. I remain amazed at how many workers this project has entailed. The work has continued even with the shelter order. Maybe a home for a multi-millionaire is an essential project or at least keeping a large workforce going is essential. On the nature front, flowers are bursting from the ground and budding on the trees. We have gorgeous colors all around us, pink, red, yellow. We have no tulips because the deer snap off the tops as soon as they bloom. I have to assume to deer tulips are similar to aphrodisiacs to humans. Idaho has lots of newcomers. Someone posted on our neighborhood blog that her tulips had been stolen during the night and who could be so mean. Sometimes, our wild friends are not so accommodating.
2. Sitting on my front porch enjoying the sun. The weather this weekend was so warm we could all be outside playing but that was before the Governor’s order. Now we can exercise but we are suppose to keep close to our houses. We have a gorgeous front porch. The weather has turned a little cooler but I spent all morning yesterday outside wearing a parka and covered with a blanket sipping a mug of coffee and catching up on emails. Sun is good for the soul and should be sought out whenever possible.
3. Meditation and prayer. Our minister has suggested as a lead up to Easter we pray five times a day (when we get up, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and when we go to bed). I also try to take time to close my eyes and chase away the whirling thoughts and focus on my breathing.
4. Playing with and enjoying my pets. I have an entourage where ever I move through the house. All the animals go with me. They like to be petted, chase balls and in general I find them amusing.
5. Keeping in touch with family and friends. I text my two children and my sister every morning so they know I’m still around. I try to call my sister who lives in Colorado daily. I chat with my kids weekly but send them many strange messages by text throughout the day. I have a friend in Wyoming who writes long esoteric essays on the meaning of life that I look forward to reading and responding to, and much to my amazement I have found Facebook to be a place of much humor and little politics.
6. Watching movies and reading. When I’m done with my contacts with the outside world, I turn to reading and watching movies. Much of my reading involves newspapers. We get three every day. I love old movies and with Netflix and Amazon Prime there seems to be an endless supply of things to watch.
In summary, I find my days in shelter to be generally delightful. I could view them differently as boring or a hardship. But I prefer to focus on the loveliness of the world in which we live and opportunity to experience something new each day. My blessing to you today is, may you stay healthy and find joy in the moment. And your home be a sanctuary in times of trouble.
I’ve been attending a Bible Study Class based on the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, starring Tom Hanks. The movie (based on a true story) focuses on the relationship between an angry, cynical reporter and his 1998 interview with Mr. Rogers. The reporter, Tom Junod, had a hard time when he first started interviewing Mr. Rogers believing that any human could be so kind. After following Mr. Rogers around the studio and meeting up with him in a variety of settings, Junod decided that Mr. Rogers was in fact the real deal. The interview eventually made the cover of Esquire Magazine. The title of the article was, “Can you say…Hero?” https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a27134/can-you-say-hero-esq1198/
The movie is full of nuggets on living a more positive, God centered life. In our Bible study, our minister has been combining stories from the Bible with these little morsels of wisdom. Here are the kernels, I have picked up over the past few weeks:
Remember all of us, no matter our color, income, beliefs are the same. Everyone was a child once. We all share the human experience. Our hearts should be open to everyone. Each person we meet, no matter what their past experience has something to offer us.
Be fully present. In the presence of another person, be fully there for them. In our multi-media world, we are busy with our phones or watching TV out of the corner of our eye. But people need our full attention. We need to carefully listen and not be planning our next response. We need to ask questions and fully engage. We fail others when we don’t take the time to provide our best selves in each conversation.
Get angry. It’s OK to be angry but it’s not OK to take that anger out on others. We can go pound the piano (as Mr. Rogers did) or exercise (Mr. Rogers swam daily) to vent out anger. In the midst of anger, catch a breath, breath in and out, release your anger, and move on.
Don’t carry resentment, especially from your childhood. Focus on the gift that each family member has given you to make you who you are. Even if you had a horrendous childhood, that childhood helped weld you into a strong adult. Focus on how your childhood made you who you are rather than how bad your past was.
Pray daily. Keep a list of names and turn them over to God each night. It’s not your job to fix everyone but it is your job to care for everyone who comes across your path. Tom Junod writes about praying with Mr. Rogers in Esquire, “What is grace? I’m not certain; all I know is that my heart felt like a spike, and then, in that room, it opened and felt like an umbrella.” Use prayer to open your heart like an umbrella to help shield the world.
Be thankful. Every day is a gift God has given us. We are all seekers trying to carry out God’s work on earth. Sometimes we do that well and sometimes we totally fail. But each day we are given another chance to start from scratch at doing better.
We are all heroes.We may not be celebrities or feel we have special calling. But every single one of us has the potential to help someone else have a better day. Listen for what God is calling you to do. Show up, be kind, be a hero.
We are headed to Buffalo, Wyoming for Thanksgiving this year. Our trek is elaborate. We start out on Tuesday and head to Bozeman, Montana. We spend the night in Bozeman and pick up our daughter, Kayla, who is a sophomore at Montana State University. We also drop off her snow tires.
Then we soldier on to Billings where we stay in a suite that has a 24-hour airport shuttle. This is an important feature because our son, Scott, is flying in from Seattle and arrives at midnight when most things in Billings are closed. Assuming everything goes as planed, he arrives at our room about 12:30 am while the rest of us continue snoozing peacefully with visions of turkey drifting through our heads.
If Billings goes anything like last year, we will be running around late looking for tofu turkey. Scott is a vegetarian and we left our specially bought vegan plunder at home. We raced in the only vegetarian market in Billings just at closing (8 pm) and bought a supply of frozen veggie turkeys. Scott landed on time but crashed through the dark room waking everyone up. But who am I to complain? He made the sojourn from Seattle after work on a cigar plane (one seat on each side) to a small airport, landing in the middle of the night, just to join the family.
We get up on Thanksgiving day and drive two and half hours to Buffalo, Wyoming. The town is about 4,500 people; about half of whom are Koziseks. The Koziseks have manned the sheriff’s office and police force for years. The next generation is now serving. There is such a crowd that last year we had dinner in the basement of the Baptist Church. We didn’t fit in a house. A large number of the family were left out because my nephew’s wife was entertaining her extended family at their mini-ranch. We dropped by for a visit and couldn’t get in the door so many people were in attendance. The thought of all of us together in Buffalo is mind boggling. My husband’s family are all avid hunters and fishers and believe in standing for the flag at football games. We always have lots to talk about except politics.
My husband, Pete, lost his younger brother who lived in California last spring. Our Thanksgiving group will be slightly smaller and a lot sadder this year. The California brother was the big arranger of family reunions and his favorite place was Disney Land. We have toured the Magic Kingdom on a number of occasions in a Kozisek crowd. My husband used to laughingly refer to his California brother’s family as the “Disney Nazi’s” because we did Disney from sunrise to fireworks every day. I fondly remember the trips because Kayla was little and got passed around a lot. I got a break from child care and the pleasure of adult company.
Over the years, what I have found most remarkable about all these visits is the goodwill. We are very different people but at Thanksgiving and in Disney Land we seem to be able to find common ground. I have learned that love and gratitude grow with age. In the Kozisek family, there is always plenty of both to go around.
I awoke to a glorious Easter Sunday in Boise! Always a blessing to get up and greet the sun. We’ve had a winter that didn’t seem to want to end. There was snow just last Thursday.
Our minister told a packed house; “Anyone who likes to garden has faith. It is an act of faith to put a seed in the ground and look forward to it springing forth with new life.” Let’s get out there planting little sprouts to bring hope to ourselves and others.
Five years ago I would never expected to see police in uniform on duty with a bomb sniffing dog at church. Now we are getting to use to it. We had one at the Cathedral of the Rockies at Christmas too. This time the policeman was extremely kind to everyone and the gorgeous German Shepard was very photogenic. Fortunately, their presence was not needed.
We always buy flowers at Easter from the church youth group to help support youth mission trips in the summer. The pink and blue hydrangeas have thrived in my back yard. The one we go this year practically shouts, “Look at me!”
I buy the Calla Lilies in honor of my daughter Kayla, both the lily and Kayla have roots to China but grow well in Idaho. This year I am blessed to have both flowers and daughter grace my house with beauty.
This is the twenty-second year I have hidden Easter baskets, a family tradition. I will miss it when Kayla goes away to college, one more year of baskets. We learned this year with Scott home for a while that you are never too old to bite off the ears of a chocolate bunny.
My son is off to Seattle May first to expand his world and hopefully hunt down a good first job. We are all very excited for him. The purpose of parenthood is to raise children who can float by themselves. I will miss his good humor, beautiful photographs and noise around the house.
Our male tom cat, Satch, had a good Easter. He discovered a box in the house just his size, always a delight. The weather was perfect for cats to lay outside and soak up sun.
Easter is a time of new beginnings. May this year bring out the very best in you and your family. Thanks for reading.
“The Intuitive Mind Is a Sacred Gift and the Rational Mind Is a Faithful Servant” Einstein
Intuition is the art of knowing without rational facts. Implied in the definition is that what you know is correct despite the facts you have before you. For example, you meet someone and you immediately know that they are a good person you can trust. Later over the years, you find out this assessment is true based on repeated interactions with this individual. Recent research, published in Live Science, May 2016 found that people do use intuition to make faster, more confident, and more accurate decisions. In other words that feeling in your “gut” is worth listening to. Intuition is a perception that happens in the present, is very fast but this momentary perception can be swept away by cognitive analysis. Unfortunately, in our society based on technology and rational thought we often over-think our initial response
Women are attributed with having stronger intuition than men. Research has clearly shown that women are better at reading facial expressions than are men. Thus, women are more likely to pick up on the subtle emotional messages. Psychology Today suggests this skill is a direct outgrowth of women having lower social power than men. Women have had more opportunity to study their male supervisor’s response and learn to adapt in order to either stay in their positions or move ahead. Women’s special intuitive skills may in fact be a direct outgrowth of surviving in environments with “emotionally clueless men” (Riggio, 2011)
Einstein suggested that intuition is a gift. Some people have more intuitive talent than the rest of us. We call them clairvoyant, psychic, or prophetic. Many times we are fascinated by these individuals’ ability to see more than one can know based on natural vision or rational reasoning. At times in throughout history, this ability has frightened us. We have labeled women with special sight witches and burned them at the stake. We have looked askance at fortunetellers in carnivals believing their skill was probably trickery.
While our culture focuses on technical rational thinking, other cultures, such as India, embrace sensory experiences. Neither approach is right or wrong but by cultivating our intuitive side; we open up our creative mind. Creativity requires being willing to move forward embracing uncertainty and doubt. Some of the greatest discoveries in science come from scientists being willing to follow their intuition about how to solve a problem.
An individual’s intuitive skill can be improved. I took a class on intuition this week. The emphasis in the class was on opening yourself to listening to your intuitive sense. This personal awareness requires the ability to be still, breath in and out in a settled position, and listen to the air. The prophets in the Bible heard messages from God as whispers and in dreams. We can’t become attuned to our inner-most thoughts if we are constantly in front of screens, have ear plugs on and spend our lives multi-tasking.
Take the time this week to take advantage of your sacred gift of inner knowing. Spend some time by yourself but with yourself.
Christmas may be over but the work of Christmas is just beginning; to help those who are most vulnerable. One example of need in our communities is Flint, Michigan’s water problems. No public official in Michigan was deliberately trying to poison children in Flint. There is no public enemy number 1; rather we see a series of bad choices and then a cover-up. “Administrative Evil” is normal administrative professionals engaging in evil acts without being aware that they are doing anything wrong (Adams, Balfor 2009).
My poem “Flint (2014 ongoing) captures a real case of administrative evil in action.
Flint (2014 ongoing) by Julie Robinson
purveyor of health
taken for granted
streams out of taps
into our mouths
circles down drains to
no filters in place
brackish, brown, stinky
a public disgrace
none of it safe
flows through the body
restricted to bottles
Summary of the Flint, Michigan Water Issue
My husband, a physician, frequently says the United States health system is more dependent on our high quality public health programs than on our abundant supplies of physicians and hospitals. One example of this is drinking water from the tap. If you have travelled in other countries where the water is undependable such as Mexico or China, you know what a gift it is to be able to drink water directly from the faucet in the U.S. Of course, that is not true everywhere is the U.S. The place that has received the most publicity for public health problems over the past few years is Flint, Michigan. In Flint, a decision was made to move the drinking water to the Flint River in 2014. This decision was made to allow time to build a pipeline to connect to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA).
Mayor Walling explained the decision as follows: ‘It’s regular, good, pure drinking water, and it’s right in our backyard… this is the first step in the right direction for Flint, and we take this monumental step forward in controlling the future of our community’s most precious resource.’ “
Rather than testing the water first to make sure the public was safe. The City chose to take a less expensive route of “waiting to see” what happens.
High lead levels started being documented in February 25, 2015. This information was deep-sixed by public authorities. By December 2015 as lead levels continued to climb, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency over the elevated lead levels in the city’s water. “I am requesting that all things be done necessary to address this state of emergency declaration, effective immediately,”
The water continued to be unsafe in Spring 2016. Both Presidential candidates Trump and Clinton and President Obama visited to symbolize their concern. Concern is not corrective action! By July nine public officials in Michigan had been charged with criminal offenses for the problems with Flint, Water. These public officials were charged with misconduct and misuse of public funds.
Today, filtered Flint water is safe to drink but not everyone, especially low income families, have access to working filters. The courts have ordered that these individuals be provided with bottled water.
A $170 million stopgap spending bill for repairing and upgrading the city of Flint’s water system and helping with healthcare costs was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 8, 2016. The Senate approved it the next day. $100 million of the bill is for infrastructure repairs, $50 million for healthcare costs, and $20 million to pay back loans related to the crisis.
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31.
Wednesday, December 21, is the Winter Solstice-the longest night of the year. My church celebrates the longest night to acknowledge and sooth some of the pain, sorrow; grief and darkness many of us have suffered or are currently suffering during this holiday season.
For some this grief is raw, a death of someone young or in their prime, a shocking loss with no good-byes. This grief is a vise on the heart, the pain sometimes so severe breathing is difficult. There are softer but still lingering losses for others. The pain of putting down a dog who took you on walks every day and won’t be there tomorrow to greet you. The cat who slipped through your legs one night and never returned home. Some loss is hard to explain to others but still bittersweet for you; the death of the beloved ancient oak tree whose shade made your west facing backyard bearable in summer. You know you won’t live long enough to have the same shade at your house again. Or maybe the pain is just beginning because you have learned you or a loved one has some condition that will keep them from spending another Christmas with you. You celebrate shared joy today but dread the year ahead and feel the small kernel of coming loss beginning to grow deep within.
My mother died 30 years ago, a week after Christmas. She suffered from a rare liver condition which both my sister and I have genetically inherited. As her liver failed her, she turned an odd sinister yellow, her face and feet bloated, her skin stretched like a balloon with too much air. When some small part of her liver was working, she knew us and except for her distorted appearance, she could joke with us and share memories of better times. But over the course of her 18 month decline, these moments of lucidity became less frequent. The poisons seeping from her non-functioning liver gave her dementia. She would think I was her mother, that my father was her daddy. Just when I would get used to the new reality of my lost mother, she would reclaim a piece of herself and know me again. On her last day, she knew everyone and told us how much she loved me. I went to a basketball game planning on moving her home in the next few days. This was before cell phones and by the time I got back to her room from the game, her bed was empty and new people were moving in.
Because we are blessed (or possibly my mother would have said cursed) with financial resources, my dad and I took mom to Denver to specialists and then to Omaha to see if she was a candidate for a liver transplant. These were early days in the transplant world. We had to put up $100,000 just to be seen in Omaha. We got the funds back because she didn’t qualify. But it was a lesson to me about the differences in treatment in this country based on income. As we waited to see if mom physically qualified for the surgeries; other younger qualified liver candidates with young children waited to see if they could raise enough money in their communities through bake sales and other events, carefully orchestrated by the hospital to pay for the operation.
Mom didn’t want to do anything to extend her life. She would ramble on about “wanting to go where the angels sing and the flowers bloom.” During this period she would have us read Isaiah 40:31 to her two or three times a day. We flew her home from Omaha on a private plane a few days after Christmas and she died soon after.
I carry a piece of her around in my heart but her soul has flown free. In her illness, she knew more about God and spirituality than my sister, father and I combined. Sometimes, it is a gift to let go of the person you love. Extraordinary measures to keep a loved one alive are often for the family not for the one who is suffering. Thirty years ago she was lifted on the wings of eagles, soaring joyfully to sing with her beloved angels. She was just about my age.
Now when I pray for those in need, I visualize them being lifted up on eagles’ wings by the Lord’s enduring spirit. As I age, my Christmas card list shrinks as friends and family pass. My father died 10 years ago, my step mother last Christmas. I grieve their passings but take joy in their memories.
Weeping lasts through the night but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5-6
I have lived in Idaho almost 22 years, a third of my life. Idaho is the most Republican state in the nation.The state where a perfectly normal question is “Have you heard of the group Black lives Matter? Well, in Idaho Redneck Lives Matter.” In rural Idaho, PETA stands for “People eating tasty animals.” (Probably shot with a concealed weapon, all perfectly legal.)
In this staunchly Red environment, I have transformed into a strong Democrat. I drive a blue car with a novelty license plate that says BLUEGRL. I am proud to be a Blue girl (Democrat)in a Red State. I sometimes worry about the car getting keyed for advertising my political opinions.
I have a Republican friend who says Idaho Democrats could hold the state convention in a phone booth if we could find a phone booth anymore. Idaho Democrats running for statewide office get consistently about 30% of the vote if the individual candidate runs a good campaign. We haven’t had a Democrat elected statewide since our Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marilyn Howard, retired in 2006. No other position has even been competitive in the 20 years I’ve lived here
The miracle of Bernie Sanders in Idaho is that thousands of people showed up for Democratic caucuses all over the state. In Boise, there are still Bernie yard signs up. Before the Democratic National Convention several hundred people marched in Boise in support of Bernie.While I still see Bernie stickers on cars and yards signs, I haven’t seen any Hilary stickers. I got an email last week that Hilary had hired an Idaho field organizer, a young woman, recent graduate of the University of Idaho. The email said Hillary could use some help in Idaho. NO KIDDING! Hillary and Idaho? Talk about an oxymoron! The fact Hillary has paid staff in Idaho shows the fundraising process of the Democratic Presidential campaign. Maybe Hillary has a field organization in Idaho to recruit Bernie fans. But the few I know wouldn’t vote for Trump. They may choose to not vote and thus the need for Hillary to have a grassroots organization.Paying to organize Idaho Democrats for a national election is like seeing how many people you can get in a Volkswagen. You can run around a lot, create frenetic energy, spend a great deal of time but in the end the number will be quite small.
In this environment, where there are no decent Democrats running for national office why do I remain a Democrat? Afterall, I will be voting for Republican Congressman Mike Simpson in my Congressional District. Congressman Simpson is a retired dentist who supported expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He recently got Congress to pass the White Cloud Wilderness Bill, designating three areas in the Owyhee Mountains as wilderness. This legislation took years of work. In other words, Simpson is a good guy. Why bother with the Democratic label at all when I am clearly the minority?
I have wrestled with my Democratic values for some time. I am forced to when I am consistently in the minority. Saying my political alliegence aloud can lead to crazy arguments and loss of friendships.
I grew up a Republican in Wyoming. I can remember standing on the tamarack at the Cheyenne airport. My sister was dressed in white holding glittery gold poms poms along with other teenage girls. I tasted the bitter bile of jealousy as the wickedly cold wind made my eyes leak because I wasn’t old enough to be a Goldwater Girl and stand with the cheering girls. Goldwater went on to win only six states, Arizona (his home state) and five southern states. He even lost Wyoming and Idaho.
Early in my early professional career I worked for both Democratic and Republican Governors. I considered myself an independent, supporting the individual rather than the party.
I capitulated to dyed-in-the-wool, bright Blue Democrat as I saw the Idaho legislature become progressively conservative giving tax breaks to business, failing to appropriately fund our public schools, repeatedly defeating Medicaid Expansion. Last year in the legislature an emergency room physician testified that at least a 1000 low-income Idahoans die a year because of lack of health care. Our Republican Governor Butch Otter’s response was, ” Lots of people die every year.”
My husband and I give monthly to Idaho Democrats. I am volunteering to stuff envelopes for state legislative races. All of this money and energy with no expectation of it making a difference. The question is why bother?
I got the answer on Saturday at Payette Lake in McCall. I was sitting on the dock at Ponderosa State Park watching my daughter and her friend jet skiing across the lake. A woman with head covered, black leggings and a beautiful white lace top got on the back of a new jet ski behind her husband. I presume she was Muslim and the man was her husband. After bouncing across the water at full tilt, she came back to the dock sporting a huge smile. At that moment it became crystal clear to me why I am a Democrat. Jet skiing provided a great metaphor for living in our complex world. My Chinese daughter was out on the same water with the Muslin couple and behind me some black families who were speaking a language other than English, also in full dress, probably refugees, were playing on the beach and wading in the shallow water, laughing and splashing. All of us from very different backgrounds were sharing the lake linked by our human capacity for laughter and joy.
I am a Democrat because I believe all lives matter. Hurrah for Rednecks, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Jews, Gays and everyone else! You all matter and American should be a big enough place that we can embrace and live with our differences.