Rebecca Elia's Blog

All about Feminine Health, Healing, and Greece

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Nightmare Day Martin Luther King, Jr. was Murdered

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Yes, you all recognize this famous quote by the late, great, Martin Luther King, Jr.

I remember the day he was murdered. Assassination is too mild, too clinical, a word for what happened. He was murdered, plain and simple. I was in elementary school in a small privileged hillside section of Oakland, California. My city was (and still is) predominantly African-American, composing over 80% of the population in the 1960’s. My mother, a public school teacher, reading specialist, and, later, professor of Education, had spent her entire life teaching minority children to read in the Oakland Public School system. She, herself, returned to school in her 50’s, to obtain a PhD in Education, which she then used to educate public school teachers. She held firm to her belief that any child can be taught to read as long as they had the prerequisite training.

Although my mother was acutely aware of problems with public education, she was a strong proponent. Even though the system fell short multiple times, she kept her children in the public school system. In fact, we remained in this system through college, all of us obtaining our undergraduate degrees from her alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley.

But the public school system failed many times. I remember the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, because that day, this small elementary school failed its children, miserably.

I remember being released early into a vast sea of children. Outside, it felt like a war zone. I don’t know if I actually saw the riots or if I just felt them. To this day, my memories are surreal, as if it didn’t really happen, but was, instead, a terrifying childhood vivid that it remains impossible to distinguish from reality. All Oakland teenagers and young adults had emptied into the streets of Oakland. Rioting was everywhere. It was a war zone. So different than what this remarkable gentle loving giant had tried to model for us all.

Every elementary school child was released, including my younger brother, who was in kindergarten. Parents weren’t notified. Older siblings weren’t instructed to pick up their younger siblings before walking home.

I did what I always did after school; I walked did all the older children. My younger brother went outside to stand on the sidewalk in the usual spot where he always waited. My mother, however, had no idea that we had been released early until she saw school children walking up the street. She rushed to the school to find my brother, who was waiting unattended and unprotected outside the school.

I have so many memories, all bad, of that day. Hate, fear, anger, violence, lack of responsibility, danger, disappointment... No not fear. Sheer terror.

Today, two of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s other quotes come to mind:

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’”

So, when everyone recognizes Martin Luther King, Jr. today, it brings back all of these mixed fillings, all bad, all sad. I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted it this way, but, honestly, have we learned anything since then? It has been over forty years. What would he think if he could see us now? Not to belittle the changes for which he so peacefully fought, and certainly not to ignore the advancements made in civil rights—no, that is not my point.

I’m asking, have we decided to stick with love? Have we recognized that hate is too great a burden to bear? What are we doing for others?

For more quotes from the great Martin Luther King, Jr., see this Huffington Post Article.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Solar Eclipse of the Century

I have no idea from where this picture was taken. I can only hope that I have permission to post it.
 If not, let me know, and I will remove it!

If you happened to be in Burma today, you had a pretty good view of the longest (annular) solar eclipse of the century, not to be repeated until 3014. Unless you believe in reincarnation, you probably won’t be around to see it the next time.

You may not have been able to view this eclipse at all, but even if you live on the other side of the world, as I do, you may very well have experienced its effects. To say that the last few weeks have been eventful is an understatement. Most of us are still struggling with the end of year clearing and our New Year’s resolutions. We haven’t quite dealt with the slow-downs common with mercury retrograde, and we’re smack dab in the middle of another “longest record,” that of the longest cleaning spree of the century.

Add a catastrophic earthquake in the middle of all of this, and one wonders if the earth is doing a bit of major house-cleaning too.

I find it a bit strange that the moon tries--albeit fleetingly--to protect us from the full light of the sun. It’s as if we can’t bear his full force and Mother Moon makes a last-ditch effort to shield us from the glaring truth that only he can reveal.

I’m struck by this metaphor in my own life. Is she, in fact, protecting me from me? What is it that I cannot bear to have revealed in the full light of day? What have I willingly covered up, tried to ignore or escape from? Unfortunately for me, the answer composes a long list. I can’t help but believe that I’m being placed on notice. All is now revealed. I no longer have Mother Moon’s help. The nurturing cyclical feminine can no longer protect me from the harsh piercing revealing light of the masculine. There will never again be such a lengthy solar eclipse, not for the rest of my life.

So folks, for me, the day of reckoning has come. A choice stands before me. I can ignore the message and face dire consequences or, once and for all, deal with the truth.

It might be a reasonable time to assess your own truth. What is being revealed to you in the full solar light? What has the feminine in life tried to protect you from? What truth(s) have you covered up, tried to ignore or attempted to escape from? Are you being placed on notice too?

The good news is that we have a choice, of sorts. There really is only one choice, and it may be the one that we haven’t yet chosen…but it’s there, and the time to choose it is now.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel better sharing this with you, knowing that I may not be completely alone. Why don’t we resolve to face our truths head-on?

Perhaps this can be our New Year’s Resolution.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pray for Miracles

I honestly didn’t expect that within hours of writing my last post (that’s right…the one that explained that my word for 2010 is “Miracles, simply because there is no way that I or anyone else is going to make it through 2010 without them”) a devastating earthquake would hit Haiti and the whole world would be praying for miracles.

One advantage of social networking technology such as Twitter is that we are all drawn together within seconds. We feel each other’s pain and distress. Devastation is no longer just on the evening TV news, but all over the Internet. We, literally, would have to unplug ourselves from everything electronic and all human contact to escape it.

When I was a teen, my mom would chide me for my disinterest in current affairs and politics. I was the one who ran to the bathroom when a family member grabbed the Trivial Pursuit box. I’m shaking my head as I write this, because now, no matter how hard I try, I can’t escape this information. Even consciously turning off the TV and disconnecting from the Internet does not spare me.

Those of you who are premenstrual or have gone through menopause may have a first-hand experience of how human suffering connects women. We are the iron shavings of the tremendously powerful unifying magnet of loss, anxiety, fear and despair. This is the negative side of emotional or somatic intuitive knowing. It’s the same knowing that alerts us to the next dangerous move of the car beside us and, at the same time, causes the constant driver-anxiety we feel, regardless of traffic.

So, this nightmarish earthquake is the next event in what will most likely be a series. We are acutely aware of tremendous suffering and, yet, paralyzed. It is a horrible place to be—to feel such distressing effects and, at the same time, not take action. We all need to be able to transform these feelings into action. On Twitter alone, numerous helpful Tweeps (twitter people) have listed trustworthy relief groups to which one can contribute. You are probably aware that you can even text as small an amount as $5 from your cell phone (text YELE to 501501). Many others have also reminded us of one of our greatest calls to action: prayer. You certainly don’t have to practice a particular religion or even believe in God, for that matter, to pray. You must, however, believe that there is more to this world than a bunch of egos and that, alone, we rapidly run into the limitations of our own power and control.

Was it a coincidence that one of my new Twitter friends, Amy Oscar, posted “Whatever” to her blog today? In it, she discusses our self-created anxiety produced by the limitations of our personal power and control. It rapidly became one of my favorite posts, because I (and I’m sure I wasn’t alone) could see myself in her honest reflection.

Her post also reminded me that it is our own inability to relinquish control that interferes with our call to prayer. We do what we can, and we make sure that we is the biggest we imaginable.

We pray for miracles.

Eight Specific Ways to Pray for Haiti
Lists of relief organizations can be found at this site, this site, and at this one:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What’s Your Word for 2010?

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed my question about your word of the year. Two-thousand and nine was, in many ways, a wonderful year for me. I took an extended break from direct patient care to pursue my writing and to contemplate the expansion of my career. I gave myself this very special 50th birthday gift. I highly recommended the same gift to each and every one of you, regardless of whether or not you had already celebrated your 50th, because it is never too late to gift yourself time and reflection.

But 2009 was also a year of tremendous change and letting go. So many disappointments and failures have caught up with us, both personally and collectively. If you’ve spent any time of this earth, chances are, you’re acutely aware of our failings. Largely because of this, when it came time for me to consider 2010, one word came to mind: Miracles.

The New Year is a time when everyone thinks goals and sets up the year with intentions and expectations. But goals can become yet another item on our already-packed “to-do” list, and, for most of us, this can be nothing short of overwhelming. We still have a few days left of mercury retrograde, and even after it goes direct, I will put myself out there as proclaiming that rather than goal-setting, 2010 continues to be a year to let go. There is just too much unfinished business, too much stubborn hoarding of the old ways of doing and being. Most of us are still struggling with this.

Before we can consider goals, we need to let go.

I know you’re getting sick of hearing this. I think this is my third post on letting go in less than one month, but I’ll keep it up as long as necessary…because we’re a stubborn group. And I’ll keep reminding you, because I need to be reminded as well, and because we can all use one another’s support. I glanced at Oprah yesterday. Her guest Rita Wilson captured my attention for multiple reasons. Tom Hanks went to my high school. Rita was responsible for the movie version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she and Tom co-produced both Greek films that launched my (not-so-budding) career as an extra/stand-in (Mamma Mia and My Life in Ruins). So I was another captive member of her audience—even though she didn’t mention Nia Vardalos or Greece once. Instead, she was doing makeovers. But what she did mention, repetitively, was advice to empty our closets, to give away clothes that we’re no longer wearing.

That stuck in my mind, because we’ve all heard this advice multiple times. We’ve heard it a million times, but it’s still coming up, because we’re still hanging on. We’re being reminded, yet again, to clear it out, all of it!

So, back to the 2010 word of the year. Mine is Miracles , simply because there is no way that I or anyone else is going to make it through 2010 without them. Yes, Miracles has become my word out of necessity. And, perhaps, if I keep repeating it often enough, I will reaffirm my belief in a divine force greater than myself and release, for a few more moments, my egocentric nature. I will remember to ask for help, to relinquish an overwhelming need to control, and, instead, anticipate and welcome the next miracle.

I asked you all to share your words, and you came up with some lovely ones. Here are a few:

Good Changes
Filotimi (honor-dignity-duty)

I noticed a wonderful pattern to all of these words. They are all big words, ones that go beyond little me. They include something far greater. They recognize that we’re not alone, and that our meaningfulness comes from our connection with one another through a divine power.

So, I have a simple life-assignment to suggest:

1. What still needs to go? Write it down. Commit to releasing it. What are you going to let go of today? This week? This Month? This Year?
2. What is your word for 2010?

Let go of #1 and hold onto #2.
Let #2 replace #1.

And then, I invite you with me, to witness the blessed miracles occur.

Joy to you all in 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

To Everything--Clean, Clean, Clean

For those of you falling behind in your end-of-year cleaning, you’re not too late; you have eleven more days! As many of you know, 2009 ended with a fire under our butts, urging us to clear, cleanse, and release all the junk of our minds, relationships, bodies, and lives. This last December 31st was the first time since 1990 that we experienced a Blue Moon (the second full moon in a given month) on New Year’s Eve. It will not occur again on December 31st until 2028. Not only that, this time, it was accompanied by a partial lunar eclipse and retrograde mercury. Amazingly, this Blue Moon occurred not only on the last day of the year, but also on the last day of the decade. The new moon will appear on January 15th, which also happens to be the last day of mercury retrograde.

Okay, I know you aren’t all into astrology, but it doesn’t matter. Before you zone-out, let me explain. All of these things are working together to support evaluating, clearing and cleansing—not just for 2009, but for the last decade. So, on December 31st, the intensity so many of us experienced was linked to all our stuff that needs to be reevaluated and cleared (possibly from the last ten years). It was especially intense on New Year’s Eve, because this “stuff” was revealed to us by a paradox of the full light of the moon dancing with an eclipse. There’s nowhere to run; nowhere to hide, even though the eclipse might make it seem otherwise.

I am impressed by the many of you who are being led to clean out the old without consciously recognizing the forces that are here to assist you. Many of you are intuiting that this is the right thing to do, just like we tend to clean in preparation for the birth of a newborn, or before our menstrual periods. Some of you have already cleared and cleansed your physical home or work space—reorganizing closets or offices, websites or blogs, cleaning the home, or giving away non-essential personal items.

But how many of you are doing the same with your emotional, mental, and spiritual baggage? Again, I am impressed by those of you who have the courage to do so—including those of you who are facing this head-on, because you have no other choice.

This next decade is not for the faint-of-heart. Enormous challenges and changes await us. Faith, courage, compassion and support will be essential building blocks of the human soul if we are ever to navigate this.

What needs to be cleared and cleansed in your life?

Take advantage of the next eleven days, and do it!

For more on a similar topic, see The Point of New Return.