A Short Film Review - "Exit Through the Gift Shop"

Warning- this review is full of spoilers.....

I found myself baffled and perplexed by this documentary- a hard feat to accomplish as it is my favorite film genre. I sat and watched amazing street artists who stencil, paint, and glue their way into our visual culture and lives… and the man named Thierry Guetta who became obsessed with filming these artists in action and over time became their co-conspirator… and then drops the filming to become a street artist in his own right named Mr. Brain Wash… in some ways selling out the artists who taught and educated him on their craft and allowed him to film them because of their belief that he would help express the importance of their art and their passion… this was an interesting mind cluster of high proportions!

Thierry started filming those in his everyday world as a coping mechanism for loss and to record the movements of those around him so that they could “live forever in those moments.” Over time he started following and filming street artists beginning with ‘Invader’ and moving on through many artists to high profile street painters Shepard Fairey and Banksy. One of the important aspects of the filming of these artists and their work was his accidental documenting of a risky and short lived art form. As Banksy states, “Most art is made to last hundreds of years, but street art has a short life span… It needs to be documented.” This footage has given us the opportunity to see artwork that no longer exists and talk to some of the artists who create it and learn their motivations and desires that they put into their craft. We also see and feel some of the danger and risk of arrest that these artists accept to contribute their work to society as a whole- “I liked the danger… it made me feel good.” In a very real way, these artists create an art gallery outside in our everyday world.

Watching Thierry become an artist helped me to realize that I do ‘color’ my art with a perceived view of the artist and my understanding of their motivation/ passion. I didn’t find much of his work useful- it felt ridiculous and trendy. I didn’t really feel anything by minor interest, annoyance, or boredom looking at his copious quantity of work. I loved his motivation and success, but didn’t understand it or applaud it. I loved Banksy’s work and his desire to create but keep himself and his art anonymous from his ‘real world’ persona. I liked the way that street art “gained real power from perceived power” and how Thierry was able to help some of these artists see the reactions to their work from the public creating a true feedback loop.

Banksy said a few things that really hit home for me. One is that “there aren’t supposed to be rules.” The idea of creation is just that… taking old or miscellaneous things and remaking them into something new and different from the sum of its parts. Thinking about how making and following specific rules to mass create work a bit like a shoe factory didn’t feel right to me. Another statement was, “Maybe art is a bit of a joke…” and I think he is right. Creation of any kind creates emotion of some sort and humor/laughter should clearly be understood to be part of that creative ideal. Another way to put that is “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”- Tyler Glenn. However the most amazing thing that I took from Banksy was his realization that as Thierry had no clue how to make a movie, maybe he (Banksy) should try… and the result is this evocative documentary.

I love the way that each person’s art builds upon those who have come before them- how even an evocative picture of Barack Obama by a street artist has become such a cultural image recognized by so many. Yet most people probably have no idea how the image came about. I love the way that Banksy helped create this documentary even though he didn’t agree with all the ways that the art in it was defined. I loved learning and watching the different techniques used to create the art… even if that art may be covered over tomorrow. Lastly, I adored watching the teachers' semi dismay over the creations of their protégée… for this is a feeling that all teachers have at some point… for they must let the student learn the principles and then let them go to create their own path. A lesson for us all.

pictures from: http://www.banksyfilm.com/


A Short Fim Review- "Marina Abramovic- The Artist is Present"

Here is my unedited initial impression of this artist and her work- I do highly recommend looking at some of her pieces either online, in the documentary or in a museum near you. I found this documentary was a bit difficult for me but was well worth the thoughts and spiritual work it provoked. Her work does contain nudity so be forewarned. :)

This documentary left me feeling raw and so vulnerable… in a place where I needed my prayer and spiritual life to hold me together, to recognize how I rush and rush and rush and even when I sacrifice, it is so little in comparison to some of the acts of others… to recognize my vulnerability and my need that I rarely show to others… and wondering what I would do if I had the opportunity to sit in front of this artist and what mirror image of myself and my feelings I would see and have to recognize.

“It takes such a long time to take you seriously…”

At one point, Ms. Abramovic laughs that she isn’t asked the question… finally… “Why is this art?” I found myself thinking this at the same moment and wondered at how it is different from acting or theatrical performance. I think it might be a sign of how much we do not understand her work or what the difference is between some forms of performance art and how thin the line can sometimes be…. How to walk that line and not break it. This artist recognizes that her body is a legitimate medium and she can use it to make many powerful statements and to reveal the humanity in human nature… for what is “art except for revealing human nature.” The work “The Artist is Present” is quite simply the most creative and thought provoking piece I have ever watched and I find myself terribly disappointed that I have not really seen it except through the lens of a camera and the potential shared experience of the artist and audience third hand… which will never convey the true experience. This particular piece really depended on her stamina, physical and mental strength and courage to complete- as one critic said, “The Artist is Present is so brave… because it can fail.”

“What is beautiful about the MOMA performance… she’s treating actually every human being she is encountered with the same attention and same respect which is pretty shocking…”

“There are many different reasons that people come to sit in front of me… some of them are angry, some of them curious, some of them just want to know what happened… some of them are really open and you feel incredible pain… so many people have so much pain. When they are sitting in front of me it’s not about me anymore because very soon I am just the mirror of their own self”

This is what I felt when I was watching her just sitting and ‘being in space’ for each person in front of her. For a brief moment she felt like my religious advisor… someone I should kneel before and open my heart to… someone with whom I have been taught to be vulnerable and honest with… and as they look into my eyes, they are supposed to hear the spirit whisper the things that I need them to know but cannot or will not find the words to express. And as I looked into her eyes for a brief moment, I felt like this was a small glimpse of what it would be like to see my Heavenly Mother in this world. To sit with an invisible boundary between us and no way to touch or talk but in those moments to recognize each other, to let our hearts and hopes do the talking and our eyes the interacting. To have her acknowledge my presence and to smile… To be that vulnerable is so difficult to behave safely in this world and its thin veneer of kindness and civilized behavior that is so easily cracked… is a brave and challenging thing for each of us to do. It is not something I do easily and to find myself feeling such vulnerability and spiritual need from her work tells me how powerfully it hit me.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is art and compelling work at that. This artist has helped me to open up my viewpoint on art and what it is and what its function might be in my life and the culture around me. I found the nudity so troubling at the beginning- I am so uncomfortable with the human body including my own- yet it felt right and appropriate by the end of the film. In fact, I found myself wanting to discover where her next exhibit is and maybe attend… no matter whether Fox news calls her a “Yugoslavian born provocateur”…. I’m hooked!

pictures from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Abramovi%C4%87,


Thoughts on Photo Apps: ZCamera

The first photo application I tried was a simple program called Prisma. This week I tried a another program called ZCamera and it is a pretty similar program. I felt like it didn't have as many options as Prisma and gave you lots of more downloadable options for borders and changes but the program itself seemed very simplistic and it took a lot more effort and thought to create any image that looked interesting. Here is the picture I choose to play with:

Here are a few of the changes:

In the end, it felt like there were fewer options using this free app. Most of the things to click were offering other services or more things to add to the app itself. Didn't feel worth keeping and it was uninstalled within 24 hours of downloading. The one benefit I saw to it was that you could make a collage with up to nine pictures that you could use for a Christmas newsletter or just for fun. Here are two examples of collage templates you can use.

Otherwise, this application really didn't do anything for me. Have you tried it? What are your thoughts?


Thoughts on Photo Apps: Prisma

Lately I have been taking a little bit of time to look at different computer applications that let me modify pictures. I am taking a studio art class this semester and I think that helped spark my interest in looking at developing some art myself. Using an application to change the colors and textures of photos I have taken isn't a lot of work and lets me play with looks and colors I don't have the guts to try on my own with a pencil or brush in my hand.

This is a pretty simple and easy to use program. After you open up the program, you can simply upload a picture into it. There are almost forty titled boxes that you can click on to modify and change the image. I intentionally chose a picture with some different shades and textures to play with. Here is my original photo:

Here are five modified pictures using different 'lenses'

This was a fun start. I loved the way the program changed the way the fur and fine details on the ferret are accentuated and brought out with the different ways of shading. What are your thoughts? This is a free app so you can play with it without a lot of extra cost. Feel free to comment with your images if you would like. :)


A Lazy Sunday

Today was much needed. I spent most of the day with my Bug and we hiked, cooked, ate brownies, and laughed. I am finishing the day with lots of drawing and completing of homework for the week. However I thought I would share the joy of the rest today in pictures..... enjoy. :)

I feel very blessed and grateful today. I hope all of you had a wonderful Sabbath experience and day today. :)


What is Early Childhood Intervention and Why Is It Needed?

Early intervention (EI) is the process of developing a focused curriculum and treatment plan that is based on a thorough assessment and evaluation that fully encompassed an individual’s physical, mental, social and environmental challenged interspersed with and related to their diagnosis of a mental health disorder. By recognizing the weaknesses or challenges that a child is having with their development and actively trying to treat and change the way the body responds and reacts to the problem, early intervention has been shown to give those individuals affected with ASD the tools and abilities to responds more positively and culturally appropriately in their physical environments and in relationships with others. One reason that has been suggested for early intervention is that by helping and motivating a child to use areas of the brain that are not functioning well, new neurons and connections in the brain can be strengthened and formed. Other thoughts are that, by forcing the brain to have certain experiences, the ‘flexible’ young brain will begin to grow new connections and form new pathways towards more normal processing of information in the affected areas of the brain.

The process of early intervention should be used for all individuals that have been assessed and found to either be at risk of an autism diagnosis or are diagnosed. Another way of looking at it is that EI should be used for any individual found to have a delay in any aspect of the development process that could potentially be corrected with the use of therapy. Research suggests that the sooner… or ‘earlier’… in the child’s life that the intervention is made, the more permanent and positive change can be created in the child. How the intervention is utilized can depend on many factors including, parental or provider choice, what interventions are available, funding or lack thereof for treatment, the individual’s needs, etc… there are more than a dozen programs used for early intervention which include Floortime, Denver, SCERTS, and RDI. While these programs all have differences in how they attempt to facilitate change in the individual, the typical EI priorities usually work on forming spontaneous functional communication techniques, developing coping skills, and learning to interact and play with peers. Programs also tend to try and work on removing the motivations for negative behavior through different avenues and attempting to prevent the behavior from continuing to occur. Other samples of early intervention services that can be offered are speech or occupational therapy, assistive technology or auditory services, as well as counseling, medical or psychological services.

For a newly diagnosed child, one of the first steps is to create and develop an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan.) As part of that process, location(s) to begin therapy and what forms of beginning treatment should commence. Several kinds of information are incorporated in the IFSP including a rounded out examination of the child’s current development and needs, family abilities, resources, and desires, how and how much services should be provided and for how long as well as who is responsible for certain aspects of the treatment and also the goals or outcomes that are going to be focused on developing and achieving. For a newly diagnosed two year old child, an IFSP is developed and treatment usually consists of some forms of relationship development, speech or other physical therapies as well as work with interaction and self-soothing. For more newly diagnosed toddlers or babies, intervention treatment is usually performed in the home where the child knows their environment and will feel the most comfortable and open to the treatment.

It has been shown that early childhood intervention with individuals that struggle with developmental delays can create more positive social and future life outcomes. if you or a family member has used early intervention what have your experiences been?


Overlapping Identities and Critique on “Ms. Amerikkka”

*A link to the song can be found here.

To truly understand life as lived in America today, it is desirable to consider the issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and nationality and how they intersect in the lives of its citizens. Recognizing that how each individual identifies themselves and how that creates and changes their physical realties and relationship with other people and the social structures around them not only creates and shapes their reality but also changes ours is an important aspect of true empathy and understanding towards those around us. Understanding these issues and how they affect the lives of ourselves and others also gives us the ability to create positive and lasting change for ourselves and our communities. Successful feminist activists in this country attempt to understand intersecting identities and use their understanding and creative abilities to help develop social awareness of inequality, discrimination, racism and other undesirable social practices. One such artist is Edwin Hayes, Jr, better known by his stage name Aceyalone. Mr. Hayes is a rapper from California who has released a few albums as well as his work for other musical organizations. This paper will discuss and critique the lyrics of his song “Miss Amerikkka”, his critique and anthropomorphizing / caricature of the United States of America.

The song starts by giving us an image of a man flying home on a plane to Los Angeles sitting next to a woman who tells him what America looks like from her vantage point. His words go on to give us an image of a large woman, uninhibited and mentally ill, on the quick road to ruin and death unable to see how her behavior is reckless or dangerous to all who depend on her and live with her. The imagery is graphic; a woman eating, digesting and defecating her children… a neglecting mother who abuses and neglects her children as they weep and starve…. her minions locking up or shooting those who disagree or criticize her. It is four minutes of thoughtful but angry commentary on the author’s view of America today.

One aspect of these lyrics is that they adequately express the ways that class, race and privilege intersect in the lives of people in this country. The recognition that minorities and people of color are more likely to struggle with class issues as well as discrimination and fewer opportunities to advance is vital because this helps express how complex our society and its flaws are. If someone faces discrimination due to their skin color or sexuality… or both, they are more likely to have fewer opportunities, less physical and financial stability, and fewer support systems or safety nets when difficulties arise. Without these positive and stabilizing resources, individuals are held down in the vortex of issues that society and culture have created that limit access to privilege and power to the few individuals who do not find it necessary to deal with the consequences of the race, class, gender or sexuality. These lyrics discuss many of the ways that these issues intersect in people’s lives and ask important questions to ask each of us to think and recognize where we fit into the equation that is America. One example reads: “How can people still be hungry, when there’s a surplus?” If we look at that question, really focus and look at the statistics of people who are food insecure in this country, we may not be surprised to see how high the statistics rise if numbers are separated by race or sexual identity. I have asked myself many times how the richest country in the world has so many poor and downtrodden people and I cannot discover a reasonable explanation… at least not one that is healthy for our country or any of its citizens.

Unfortunately this song is also an example of how a lack of understanding of how race, privilege, culture and gender can actually help hold up the same institutions that you are trying to change. In most media outlets in this country, the United States is portrayed as “Uncle Sam” an older white male or father figure. This portrayal makes perfect sense when we look at the political ideas that our culture spreads in its own lands and abroad: America is the nurturing father figure, the world’ super-cop, the patriarchal leader of the ‘Free’ world. However, the imagery in this song gives all the negative characteristics discussed about America to the basic negative stereotypes of women. By keeping the emphasis on negative stereotypes of women and their traditional gender roles- bad mother, no shame, lack of innocence, bad girl, mirror of reflection, disgraced, etc.… it helps keep the questioning and criticism focused away from the individuals who are in power and could more effectively create great social change… the powerful, rich, white men in positions of great strength. Traditionally and effectively, women of any race have very little direct influence in the large power structures in this control and therefore, it is much easier to criticize the status quo if the criticism is put on the ‘backs’ of those who have no power to change it. Even the name of this great lady (Ms. Amerikkka) suggests the author’s intended focus on built in, institutionalized racism in our culture and also suggests a small dig at feminism… for she is a Ms.… the stereotypical feminist without a male to control her… and the lyrics let us know the negative consequences of that choice.

During a lecture titled “Cultural Criticism and Transformation”, bell hooks states, “How can there be an interplay between all of those different forces? Popular culture is one of the places where there can be an interplay.” We are able to watch, listen and understand many forms of creative expression in our society between painting, writing, movies, sculpting, and music. For those with more power and privilege in our society, they can actively create, market and push the images and music that we are bombarded in during our daily lives… from the instrumentals played in elevators and ‘hold’ music… to the music played in stores and available to find and purchase. For those individuals who try to create and market outside the system, the road can be very challenging and untenable. Some artists are successful –Anne DiFranco being an example -but the sheer amount of work and motivation can be impossible for the majority. Aceyalone has created a haunting piece of imagery that in less than four minutes compels us to look at racism and class in our society. He also provides us with the ability to understand how the overlapping of different cultural constructs can both help and hinder us in our attempts for change, financial security and stability. A provoking song, indeed.

pictures found at: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15-love-hate/, https://aceyalone.bandcamp.com/track/ms-amerikkka-bonus-track, http://genius.com/Bell-hooks-beyonce-is-a-terrorist-annotated


Remembering Loss and Combating Violence in Select Communities: The Development and Activism of “Hell You Talmbout”

* a link to the song critiqued can be found here....

The last few years have been punctuated by fearful sounds and guns, the grim pictures of black men and women, and the tiptoeing in the media of the circumstances of their deaths at the hands of either police officers or overly zealous vigilante citizens in their communities. Each of these deaths, especially when the circumstances are examined, has opened up an opportunity for all American communities to analyze and attempt to understand the pain, racism , privilege, and class issues that are slowly breaking our communities and society. While there are many conversations that need to be had on this subject and the various means that can be used to create more opportunities, less fear, and more lasting change for all, this paper will focus on the activism inherent in the song “Hell You Talmbout” released in August 2015 by artist Janelle Monae.

This protest song was born from the pain and injustice witnessed by Ms. Monae. The day before she released the song, the artist recorded her thoughts and described how the song came to be developed and published those words on Instagram. She states, “This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves... Won't you say their names?” This song is not the first written by this artist to try and illustrate her views on racism and state violence in American society- other songs on similar topics include ‘Cold War’ and ‘Sincerely Jane’.

A few things about this song help make it the powerful commentary that is has become. While some of the lyrics are sung to music, throughout the song a drum roll will start and the artists will shout out the name of one person who was either a victim of police brutality / murder or of violence and/or death primarily due to their race. As the name is shouted out, others join in saying “Say His (Her) Name”, encouraging the individuals surrounding them to join in. It is a moving performance that is intensely powerful whether listened to or visualized and uses catchy music and passion to draw itself into your head. The artists shout out the names of nineteen people through the song. As I listened, I felt drawn into the passion expressed and active interest in the individuals who were named. It was not hard to find information on the unfamiliar names that were mentioned. Another aspect of this song is that it reminds members of the black community that they matter as well as reminding members of the privileged community that their community isn’t whole or realistic without the acknowledgment of its minority members. In a few short minutes, “Hell You Talmbout” forces open a door in each listener’s mind to admit the pain and anger felt by many people and the fear and confusion felt by all. It is a rare work of art that can accomplish this.

There are many ways that individuals can help raise the consciousness of others in their communities to social problems and general need. Whether through campaigning or art, through service or advocacy, like-minded individuals tend to form groups to try and understand the unique problems that they face and how to confront or change them. Communities come in all sizes and many names- family, religious congregations, volunteers at non-profits, workplaces, support groups, social communities, friends, etc… Some of these groups can be voluntarily joined and exited while others may be difficult to fully leave without significant work and possibly a lifetime of difficult consequences. By recognizing not only need but specific desires and motivations in individuals and groups, each individual can carefully recognize the differences both in members and motivations of various groups and also potentially recognize how the actions of one group can affect others. With this song, Janelle Monae is making a few clear statements.

• The Black community at large is scared and angry and tired of being scapegoated and discriminated against.
• As a society, we simply allow too much racial violence to happen unchecked… and complacently accept blaming of the victim to help stabilize the status quo.
• Our society has too many layers of discontent and ignoring them will not make them go away.

I am still unclear – or fairly lazy- about some of the small things that I can do both as an individual and as a part of a group to affect positive social change and justice in the communities I am a member of. I have started by writing a few letters to my congressmen and I am going to attend a local transgender support group next week and see if I can not only learn something, but how I can potential help. I also express that I am an ally on Facebook so that vulnerable individuals will know a person they can talk to or ask for help from. It isn’t enough… but it is a start. As I learn more about how different ideas and social constructs intersect and collide, I learn more about myself and the communities I am a part of. For that I am grateful.

pictures found at : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janelle_Mon%C3%A1e,


Personal Musings on Gender Discrimination and Inequality

In so many ways, this is an amazing time of the year. It feels so peaceful and wonderful to enjoy this time before the struggle to get out in the snow and the piercing cold really settles in and the next few months feel dreary and hunched and dark. So as the semester winds down and we finish up, I find myself reading, contemplating and comparing some of the things learned this semester learned along with my choices, my life and those around me. My thoughts have drifted back to focus more on gender discrimination, harassment, the wape gap and gender inequality at work.

Gender discrimination at work is a challenging topic and how gender affects the work place and work flow is something that I am still not sure I understand even after the readings. The one thing I feel pretty sure of is that I think most of us do not really understand how gender affects them in the work place and how to change it. I have worked for a few different places and have lived in a few different states and even though I have been working for over two decades, I do not really understand entirely how my gender as a woman has affected me in the work force. I can only be pretty sure in a few ways of direct consequences and the readings suggested a few more for my contemplating.

One of the statistics mentioned this semester was that 88.50% of women believe that they have faced harassment and discrimination in the work place. I have dealt with some harassment myself and was fired when I was 23 years old and complained to a supervisor about a co-worker. One month later I was denied unemployment payments even though I had excellent performance reviews for the three years before. I took that experience very personally and only the readings that suggested that some others have been denied benefits for the same reasons suggested to me that the experience might have been more about my gender than me personally. I have managed to work pretty hard to keep to myself and to try and keep myself separate at work because I haven’t wanted trouble for myself and the only female supervisor I have ever had wasn’t a very satisfactory experience for me. I feel like my idiosyncrasies are more accepted by males and so I find that I feel more comfortable in female sparse environments. When I think back, I find that most of the harassment I have received has been from women unless it was overtly sexual… then I tend to have troubles with men. I seem to be doing very well at my current job and I work almost exclusively with men… I wonder how much of my difficulties with women has less to do with my difficulties with communication and more to do with preconceived gender roles by myself and my female coworkers.

I have also found that the gaps in my employment due to family concerns has potentially caused me some significant wage loss… although I do wonder how much of that can also be placed on my lack of easily definable job skills. I do not have a degree and have been trained by on the job or by personal study for many of my jobs. I am definitely a women working in a blue collar job- I am told I am a professional, but my work is fairly physically demanding and I have flexible changing schedules, and even though I am full time, I have very few benefits for it… even my health care comes from the medical marketplace. “Because a blue collar woman learns most of her visible skills on the job rather than in the classroom… she must undergo her training in an extremely vulnerable situation… (as such) there are few visible skills by which the entry level female blue collar worker can be assessed. In situations such as this, where there are few cues available to evaluate ability, evaluators tend to rely more heavily on external characteristics such as gender as a means for judging a worker’s competence.” When I re-read this statement, I thought about how easy it has been for other co-workers to claim my accomplishments for themselves and I can see how my communication challenges combined with that could make me look like an under-desirable employee. I found myself sad but also a more motivated to work hard to stay in the job I am in. I do not make enough, but I am comfortable and respected and that feels pretty awesome and comfortable. Having the stability and less stress makes the financial trade off worth it for me for now.

I too have thought that prejudice and discrimination against women in the workforce has been steadily decreasing over the years so the studies listed (Cox and Harquail 1991), (Stroh, Brett and Reilly 1991) were a bit of a surprise to me. I find myself wondering again how much of my experiences are very much based in my gender and less my personality, behavior, or job performance. I’d like to take more time over the break and chat with friends about this topic and their experiences and see if maybe I can develop a deeper understanding about how it affects me and the people I interact with – both male and female. That seems like a nice interesting survey to conduct. : )

Reading about occupational stereotypes and gender stereotypes in the work place held very few surprises for me. The major surprise was how much I do seem to buy into and live / make decisions based on my acceptable and assimilation of these stereotypes. I hated being a stay at home mom and felt like what I did was fairly useless and my self-esteem was very beaten during this time. In the back of my mind I do not see myself as worth much unless I do have a job and I do tend to see my wage as what my worth as a person is. I do see many occupations as being more gender specific and I can find myself surprised when I am caught in a stereotype assumption in which I have made an unconscious assumption about who someone is based on their work or title (such as doctor) and then discover the person doesn’t fit into the image I made in my mind. One thing I feel like I have picked up from the reading is that while society suggests that the genders are becoming more equal in the workforce, the confidence that women feel (myself included) in being treated as equal is pretty low and we are far more likely to be convinced that each of us is making informed and objective decisions while the organization is making subjective decisions…. I feel like all of us are making pretty subjective decisions and judgments…. We just do not seem to recognize it all the time in ourselves. I have a lot of changing in my thought processes to accomplish.

what are your thoughts and life experience on gender discrimination or harassment? How has it affected your life?


List of Support Resources for LGBTQI Individuals in Maine

My choice of a Praxis project came about in a roundabout way. Earlier in the semester, I was worried about an individual who was in an abusive relationship and she ended up leaving with her children. She spent some time with other friends until she got her restraining order and was able to find some resources to help her get back on her feet. When I realized she was ready to leave, I started trying to find out what resources were available locally and went to Google- A funny saying of some of my friends that like to tweak church sayings is “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of Google, who giveth to all men liberally….” :) What I found was that the first six sources I found were no longer current and only one of the next few was still operating. I ended up spending hours on the phone and chatting with people trying to find the available resources. As I thought of a praxis project for this class, I realized that an individual who was thinking of coming out to friends and family about their gender or sexual status might also want to look for some resources online for support and help. I found the same exact experience as I had found when attempting to discover resources for domestic violence. So many listings and so few were still open, available, etc…. So this project was born. The majority of these sources have been personally contacted to make sure that they are available and that the small blurbs I put with them give a good idea of what the organization would like to provide in support or resources. I have left some sources off the list that were offered to me…. This list is a bit long and I am out of time…. at least for now. I am hopefully that the University will use this list as they see fit to help and benefit others in their student bodies and in their communities. I have tried to list sources from all over to make sure that no matter where in Maine someone finds this list, they will at least have a starting point to help with their concerns and unique journey.

I would like to give a special thanks to three people who took their time and went out of their way to give me some resources that they have been collecting to share with others and I have agreed to give them a copy of this paper. They are W. Smith, S. Hayes and S. Bock. I cannot express my appreciation of their encouragement and help enough. Any mistakes are mine alone. Please contact me for a better formatted copy if you wish.

AIDS Education / Resources

• AIDS Consultation Service (Virology Treatment Center- 48 Gilman St, Portland, 207-662-2911
• Health Equity Alliance (Ellsworth) : 25 Pine St, Suite A, open Monday through Friday 8 to 4 pm, 667-3506
• Health Equity Alliance (Bangor): 106 Pine Street, open Monday through Friday, 207-990-3626
• Frannie Peabody Center : 30 Danforth ,Suite 311, Portland, ME 207-749-6818 info@peabodycenter.org

Educational /College Resources

• Bowdoin University – Queer/Straight Alliance, 24 College Street in Brunswick. To join contact bgsa@bowdoin.edu or 1800-290-2682
• Colby College- ‘Bridge of Colby College’, 5920 Mayflower Hill in Waterville, 207-872-3635 or bridge@colby.edu
• Husson University- 10% Solutions: a GLTBQ support group for students and staff on Monday evenings, FMI call 941-7990 or
• Thorton Academy Gay-Straight Alliance, 438 Main St, Saco, ME 04072, 207-282-3361. Advisor is Kate Timberlake and can be reached at Kate.Timberlake@thortonacademy.org
• University of Maine Orono Rainbow Resource Center: Located at LGBTQ services, Division of Student Life, 5768 Memorial Union, room 224, Orono, 207-581-1439. Open Monday through Friday 8 to 4:30pm. Open to anyone: for more information, meredith.hassenrik@maine.edu
• University of Maine Gay Straight Alliance, 181 Main St, Presque Isle, ME, 207-581-1439
• University of Maine Machias: offers many services to students including safe zones, physical and mental health services, training on LBGTQ concerns, gender neutral housing and restrooms, as well as the opportunity to change names and gender within its academic system, 207-255-1305
1. 100% Society- advocates awareness and acceptance of everyone. Meetings are confidential. Hosts meetings, trainings and activities throughout the year. Meets weekly on Thursdays at 5pm in Kimball Hall, lkuntz@maine.edu or 207-255-1244
• University of Southern Maine Libraries: has a large collection of primary sources, books, and the largest LGBTQ newspaper archives. For more information, go to
• University of New England-Office of Intercultural Student Engagement. Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Friends Alliance: 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME, 207-283-0171
• University of Southern Maine Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity: Located in the Woodbury Campus Center on the Portland Campus, the Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity (the CSGD) provides a space for students to connect, get resources, hang out, do homework, meet one another, and more! Provides referral information, a lending library, internships and work study positions at the center.

Faith and Religion

• The BTS Center – (Bangor Theological Seminary), 207-774-5212
• Circle of Hope Ministry- found in Portland with special outreach to LGBT community members. FMI, mccclergy@aol.com
• Dignity USA/ Resource for GLBT Catholics, PO Box 376, Medford, MA, 1-800-877-8797, info@dignityusa.org
• Interfaith Network of Clergy and Faith Leaders, 122 Neal Street Portland, ME, 207-775-5758
• Unitarian Universalist churches- go to www.uua.org to find a welcoming church in your area
• Some websites that can help find a welcoming congregation in your area-http://www.believeoutloud.com/take-action/find-your-community

General Practitioners / OB GYN / Specialists

• Mabel Wadsworth Center- Family planning which provides educational and clinical services to women regardless of sexual orientation. 700 Mt. Hope Ave #420, Bangor, ME, 207-94705337 or 362 Harlow Street, PO Box 918, Bangor ME 04402, 207-947-5337
• Maine Family Planning- Open Door Transgender Health care: services include hormonal transition therapy and monitoring for trans individuals 18 year old and over, on-site self-injection lessons and supplies for same, referrals to specialty providers and community resources including mental, behavior and medical providers. Located at 179 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, 207-795-4007
• Rosemary Prentice – Southern Maine Family Healthcare
3 Shape Drive
Kennebunk, ME
207-467-8988, 207-283-1407
• Voice and Swallowing Center of Maine – provides voice therapy and training to members of the trans community both in person and through telemedicine. Found at Waldo County General Hospital, 118 Northport Ave in Belfast, 207-338-2500 or www.mainespeechtherapy.org

Homeless Shelters
• Alfred: York County Shelter- 147 Shaker Hill Road, 207-324-1137
• Augusta: Bread of Life Shelter- for victims of domestic violence or single adults, 157 Hospital Street, 207-626-3479
• Bangor
1. Bangor Area Homeless Shelter- 263 Main Street, 207-947-0092 or info@bangorareashelter.org
2. Shaw house – for homeless or at risk youth, 136 Union Street, 207-941-2874 or 1-866-561-SHAW. Rick@shawhouse.us
• Ellsworth: Emmaus Shelter- 51 Main Street, 207-667-3962 (have a long waiting list)
• Farmington: Western Maine Homeless Outreach – 547 Wilton Road, 207-779-7609
• Portland: Preble Street (women’s shelter and youth shelter), 38 Preble Street, 207-775-0026
• Presque Isle: Sister Mary O’Donnell Shelter- 745 Central Drive, must be 18 years old or with parents, program based, drug and alcohol free
• Rockport: Midcoast Hospitality House, 169 Old County Road, must be 18 years old or with parents/guardian
• Rumford: Rumford Group Homes, 346 Pine Street, program based with an intake assessment different homes and shelters based on needs, 207-364-4474
• Waterville: Mid Maine Homeless Shelter- 19 Colby Street, must be 18 or over but will help needy youth find housing if need be, drug and alcohol free

Lawyers / Legal Organizations
• Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders : 30 Winter Street Suite 800, Boston MA, 1-617-426-1350, gladlaw@glad.org
• Maine Civil Liberties Union: 401 Cumberland Ave, Suite 105, Portland, ME, 207-774-5444, fax 207-774-1103, info@mclu.org
• Maine Volunteer Lawyer’s Project, PO Box 547 in Portland, 1-800-442-4293. Website : www.vlp.org
• Seacoast Law and Title- Mary Anne Martell, 240 Main Street, Westbrook, 207-591-7880, law@seacoastlawme.com
• Warren, Currier, and Buchanan – Brenda M. Buchanan, 57 Exchange St. in Portland, 207-772-1262 or brenda@wacubu.com
• Vogel and Dubois- Mathew R. Dubois, 550 Forrest Ave, suite 205 in Portland, 207-761-7796, mdubois@maine-elderlaw.com

Local Support Groups

• Bangor- MTN Trans Only, 1st Monday of the month (6:00-7:30), 106 Pine Street
• Brunswick – MTN Trans Only, 2nd Friday of the month (6:00-7:30), 24 College St, Bowden College
• Ellsworth - Gay Guyz Group (GGG), meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at various locations, 207-667-9482 or wayne@mrlanguage.com
• Ellsworth- Down East Gender Diversity Group:
1. Trans Ally – 3rd Sundays at 3pm, Health Equity Alliance Building, 25 Pine St, Suite A
2. Trans Only – 1st Sundays at 3pm, Health Equity Alliance Building, 25 Pine St, Suite A
• Kennebunkport- Gender Innovation, Trans youth programming, for more info contact giadrew2@gmail.com
• Lewiston- MTN, 3rd Friday of every month, Center for Wisdom’s Women, 97 Blake Street
• PFLAG Machias- meets every second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 pm at the Centre Street Congregational Church on 9 Center Street in Machias. 207-255-1288 or downeastpflag@gmail.com
• Portland – Bare Bears- a gay / bisexual nudist (male) group that meets on the second Saturday of every month in South Portland, barebearsmaine@yahoo.com
• Portland- Maine TransNet:
1. Trans only- 1st Wednesday of the month (6:00-8:30pm), Maine Medical Center, Dana Health Education Center, 22 Bramhall Street
2. Allies Only- 1st Wednesday of the month, (6:00-8:30pm), Maine Medical Center, Dana Health Education Center, 22 Bramhall Street
3. Trans and Allies- 3rd Wednesday of every month, (6:00-8:30), Maine Medical Center, Dana Health Education Center, 22 Bramhall Street
4. Non-Binary- 3rd Tuesday of the month, (7:00-8:30pm), Maine Medical Center, Dana Health Education Center, 22 Bramhall Street
5. TYEF- Youth and Parents Groups, for more information, contact contact@transyouthequality.org
• Waterville- mixed group, last Friday of the month at 6pm, Pleasant Street Methodist Church, 61 Pleasant St, Waterville, ME · (207) 872-7564

Organizations for Support

• All About Guys: is a group of guys (GSB or questioning) getting together to meet in healthy and safe ways to socialize and talk. Meetings in Lewiston/Auburn on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month and meetings in Brunswick on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month. Also offers some STD prevention services and supplies, 207-725-4955. Website: www.allaboutguys.org
• Equality Maine: works to secure full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Maine through political action, group organizing and collaboration. Can provide resources for local support. Located at 550 forest Ave, suite 101, Portland, ME, 207 761-3732, info@equalitymaine.org
• Family Affairs Newsletter – a twice monthly free social activities newsletter for GLBTQ individuals that also doubles as a business directory, classifieds and community bulletin board. FMI, zack@familyaffairsnewsletter.org
• Gay- Lesbian Phone Line of Maine – Hotline for individuals, friends and family members offering information and support. 1-800-468-2088 or 498-2088
• Gay Maine – the lesbian/ gay directory to gay owned and gay friendly places in Maine including bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants and more. www.gaymaine.com
• GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) supports ‘Gay-Straight-Trans’ alliances/ student clubs in high schools and middle schools to work to reduce hate language and harassment inside schools. Is currently working with 40% of Maine’s high schools as well as periodic regional meetings for trainings and leads presentations for organizations and the legislature.
1. Portland - PO Box 10334, 207-619-1417 or glsensomaine@gmail.com
2. Ellsworth – PO Box 373, 207-217-9873 or downeastme@chapters.glsen.org
• Living Queer Here! - A radio show on station WERU that is aired the 4th Thursday of every month at 10-11am. Various topics are covered. Can be listened to in the greater Blue Hill area on frequency 89.9 FM, in the Bangor area on frequency 102.9 FM, and streams on the web at www.weru.org. WERU also broadcasts the nationally syndicated GLBTI show, ‘This Way Out’ every Wednesday afternoon from 4 - 4:30 pm.
• Maine Gender Resource and Support Service (MEGRESS) - provides education, information and consulting for transgender and intersex individuals in Maine. PO Box 1894 in Bangor, 207-862-2063 or megress@tds.net
• Maine Transgender Network, Inc.: provides support and resources for transgendered individuals and their families/significant others with support groups in Portland and Bangor. www.mainetransnet.org , PO Box 1034, Westbrook, ME mtn@mainetransnet.org
• Maine TransYouth Equality Foundation: provides education, advocacy, and support for transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families to help foster a healthy caring, and safe environment for all transgendered children. contact@transyouthequality.org
• Out! As I Want to Be: A supportive and empowering organization for individuals 22 years old or younger. Has twice weekly drop in programs as well as community education. Drop in at 328 Main Street, Suite 305 in Rockland. 1-800-530-6997 or .outmidcoast@gmail.com Also sponsors a radio program on Wednesday nights that is supportive of GLTBQ and intersexed individuals aged 14-22 that can be found if you tune your radio dials to WRFR - 93.3 (Rockland) or 93.9 (Camden).
• Out and Allied Theater: created through the Waterville Inclusive Community Project which works to create safe and welcoming communities for LGBTQ youth by using theater as a means to provide education to the community. Meets on Saturdays from 11am-2pm at Studio 93, 93 Maine Street in Waterville. 207-660-1672 or Markfair56@gmail.com
• Outright Lewiston-Auburn: creates a safe and affirming environment for youth under 22 years old. Friday drop in from 6pm – 8:30pm at the First Universalist Church of Auburn, info@outrightla.org 179 Lisbon St, Po Box 1038, Lewiston, 207-795-8956
• Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays: Po Box 8742, Portland, ME 04101, 207-774-3441. Helpline- 207-774-3441. PFLAGPORTLAND@aol.com Also found in Bangor – 36 East St in Bangor, 207-990-3626 or c35269@aol.com. Also Brunswick- 72 Woodside Rd, 207-725-6390, or shodgdon@blazenetme.net
• Portland Outright: youth driven program for LGBTQ individual and allies ages 14-22 in the greater Portland area. Drop in every Wednesday 6-8pm at 175 Lancaster Street, Portland, 207-828-6560 or 1-888-567-7600, portlandoutright@gmail.com or outright@outright.org
• Proud Rainbow Youth of Southern Maine : provides a safe and positive space for LGBTQ and allied youth 22 years and under offering social support and leadership, 343 Forest Avenue, rear entrance, 207-874-1030, info@commcc.org 165 Lancaster street Portland, 207-874-1030 ex 403, robert@commcc.org 43 Baxter Blvd, Portland, ME, 207-874-1030 prsym@commcc.org
• SAGE / Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders – services and support for older individuals with drop in centers in Augusta, Bangor, Damariscotta, Ellsworth and Farmington. Monthly dinner in Portland and a monthly lunch in Bangor, PO Box 466 in Hancock, 207-809-7015 or doug@sagemaine.org. website: www.sagemaine.org
• Southern Maine Pride: 467 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101, 207-650-8219 or 207-893-2550, info@southernmainepride.org
• The LinQ- serving the greater Farmington area and meets every Wednesday during the academic calendar year in the psychology building at the University of Maine-Farmington. Located at 234 Main Street from 7-9pm
• TransSupport Group: PO Box 4075 in Portland, 207-774-7029 or 207-642-6023

Runaway / Suicide Resources

• National Runaway Hotline (24 hours) : 1-800-786-2929
• National Suicide Prevention Initiative (24 hours) : 1-800-273-8255
• Statewide Crisis Hotline DHHS : 1-888-568-1112
• The Trevor Project: a leading national organization which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people ages 13-24 years old. 1-866-488-7386, www.thetrevorproject.org

Therapists and Mental Health Clinics
• Auburn
1. Rebecca Hardy :207-743-9337
2. Paula Marcus-Platz: 207-784-8747
3. Melissa Snyder : 1-877-838-5741
• Augusta: Chris York: 207-662-9433
• Bangor
1. Maria Baeza : 207-942-2230
2. Penny Bohac-Cardelle : 207-942-8767
3. Jeanine Crockett: 207-942-1433
4. Cheryl Pelletier: 207-942-1483
• Bar Harbor
1. Lori R. Alley: 207-288-0594
2. Pamela Parvin: 207-288-5344
3. Barbara Peppey: 207-667-3277
• Belfast: Shelly Fein: 207-338-3111
• Bucksport: Diane Keubler: 207-469-0505
• Brunswick: William M. Barter: 207-854-4321
• Ellsworth
1. Marc Mylar: 207-667-2095
2. Sally Smith: 207-667-4042
• Hancock: Doug Kimmel: 207-669-4178
• Kennebunk
1. Dorothy Carlson: 207-985-7655
2. Denise Hammond: 207-251-1282
3. Fran Kessler: 207-332-8881
• Lewiston
1. Claire Bergeren: 207-753-0213
2. Stephen Hayes: 207-753-0323
3. Robin Rockett: 207-753-1462
• Portland
1. Rick Bouchard: 207-650-6450
2. Alexandra Bouvrette: 207-602-1636
3. Cindy Boyak: 207-662-0111
4. Frank Brooks: 207-780-6068
5. Jeremy Cole: 207-878-8001
6. Norma Kraus Eule: 207-650-1804
7. James Maier: 207-662-2004
8. Alex Roan: 207-408-1685
9. Laura Gottfried: 207-774-0046
10. Josh Kingsbury: 207-773-2828
• Presque Isle
1. Georgette Beaulieu: 207-764-8573
2. Robley H. Morrison: 207-768-5013
• Saco
1. Alexandra Bouvrette: 207-602-1630
2. Karen Neale Leary: 207-229-8006
3. Jane Thursten: 207-282-1500
• Wells : Rosemary Ananis : 207-646-6641
• Winthrop: Mary Fredricks: 207-524-3721
• York: Erin Latulippe: 207-415-8512

pictures from : http://www.mesmacnortheast.com/rainbow-hands-up/, http://all-free-download.com/free-vector/download/free-abstract-colorful-rainbow-vector-background_147996.html


Praxis Project Reflection

This semester, I have found myself pulled in many different directions. Between emergencies with friends, medical tests and physicians mumbling around me, I feel like this semester has flown by so quickly I haven’t gotten more than a few glimpses of what I was trying to gain… like a hummingbird I see the beauty and remember it but I have to keep going over my notes and writings to really pull up the clear full image that I had in front of me. I changed my ideas on a project a few times over the weeks from blog post biographies on my favorite feminists to a newsletter with basic articles for on different aspects of feminism…. to my final and completed project of resources for Maine individuals who identify as LGBTQI.

This project came about when an individual finally discovered that her fear of her husband was also her children’s fear… she discovered that he was hurting the children as well and they were terrified their father would kill her. She pretended to be ‘normal’ for two days while quietly making plans with friends and the moment her husband left for work on Monday with the only car, she walked out to meet a friend with her children and hasn’t gone back. She was lucky and even though the struggle with the courts is all encompassing still, they are safe. Those two days were awful, with several people trying to find what resources there were out there for her. Domestic violence resources are supposed to be prolific – and they are- but out of almost 50 searches, over half had disconnected numbers, were closed, had lost funding, were full and unable to help others, or even had very strict limitations. That same week, some of the readings combined with this particular experience, caused me to push aside what I had done and begin again. I wanted to see what resources that there might be pulled up on google and spent two hours writing up every source I found for LGBTQI resources in Maine. My goal was to create a comprehensive list and hoped that I was able to fill a few pages of solid and available resources to pass along to the university.

I learned a few things from this project. The first was that as I had predicted, most of the resources that I had carefully listed were either no longer operational or if they were, I had no information to find any new information for them through follow up searches. However, as I just started cold calling different people and organizations, I not only found more resources but also found people who were collecting some of the same information I was looking for. I found individuals who not only were enthusiastic that I was willing to spend the time creating this resource and were willing to help me, but were hopeful they could have a copy of it when completed to help community members near them. I had conversations with one group who was saddened that I had found them by accident and gave them ideas on my search so that they could try and make their organization come up in search engines instead of my lucky referral from a lawyer’s office. I also worked on it at work and as my project became locally known, I had a co-worker and a few patients quietly pull me aside and hand me a paper with an email or a phone number on it. I ended up having to leave resources off the list due to time constraints (I could probably spent another 25+ hours and have twice as many pages), but I feel really good about what I have. I was pleasantly surprised at how many resources there are around… even though so many parts of Maine are rural and far flung. I was also a bit surprised to find some organizations carefully not answering some of my questions and I realized that they didn’t want to be a resource, but could not come right out and say it – due to their funding models, personal opinions, etc.… (I did leave those groups off the list.)

I discovered that in some ways, those who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, bi-sexual or intersex may have extra difficulties in finding resources and support even in areas that are known for being ‘liberal’. While there are so many resources, finding out about them was a significant amount of work and took quite a few resources to find. It appeared to me that just like my anonymous 'individual', when you are in a tough place, you really do need people with some social privilege and resources to help you find and access what you needed. I think this project was as successful as it could be with my limited time frame and the blinders of my own privilege- after all, I did choose what resources I left off the list due to time constraints… I have to wonder sometimes how things did or did not make the cut. I am hopeful that this assignment will have the forward removed by UMA and be copied and distributed wherever is appropriate. I am hopeful it will be useful to someone. Thank you.

picture from: http://all-free-download.com/free-vector/download/abstract_rainbow_background_vector_148022.html


Introduction to my Intersections Praxis Project

The next few days, I will be putting up two pretty large posts so I thought I would introduce them here. Last semester I took an Intersections class and we were able to make a choice as to a large and convoluted semester project. I am afraid I sent quite a bit of the semester trying to figure out a project and then came across my project idea from a comment at work and some contemplation. The project I chose was to try and develop as comprehensive a list as I could of LGBTQI resources in the state of Maine from emergency services to longer term mental health and medical services. The first post will discuss how I came up with the idea and how it became a reality and the next post will be the full list that I came up with and turned in for a grade. This list is accurate as of May 2016 and while it is missing a lot- due to lack of time or imagination, I wanted to share it here to make sure it is accessible (hopefully) if someone needs it. If you are reading this and want to add or change a resource, please feel free to let me know. :)


Little Things

Isn't is interesting that it is the little things in life that really make this journey worthwhile? Each of us has different ideas of what a 'little thing' is in our lives, but each of us can find something we are grateful for. I found myself dwelling on the idea of little things today and how wonderful they make life... and also confound it. How many times have we found our focus moved to a little thing- a small fluid leak from our cars, a short temporary illness, a small want that isn't fulfilled- in such a way that we are unable to fully and clearly focus on the really big things in our life. Sometimes a little thing is vastly important or becomes so... and sometimes we find that it was truly something that we could have ignored and wasted too much of our limited time on. It really is the little things that can bind and bring us joy.

There is so much ugly in the world and my country right now with so much violence and anger... so much I can do so little about. So today my focus is rest, healing, my son and service.... with a small focus on petting cats... boy I love that!

What are some of the little things that you are focused on right now?


Starting Again...

It's been awhile since I've been on here. I've been doing a bit of writing on the side, but I will admit that I feel slightly uncomfortable with the idea of putting a lot of personal information on this blog since it has been found by family... so I simply delay and then never put anything up. I want to try and reclaim the blog for myself, but I will admit that I am unclear as to how to do that. So I'll probably be a bit sporadic over the next few months. Starting again was the hardest part... so here I am giving it a try.

To any loyal readers, thank you for being patient. Comments are still more than welcome and will just be slow to post due to moderation. Any specific topics that you wish me to cover can still be requested through comments as well. Thank you for continuing the journey with me. :)


Reaction and Thoughts on "Girlhood: Growing Up On The Inside"

This post is on an unique documentary that followed the lives two young women who became incarcerated in their teenage years... and how each of them changed and 'grew' through that process. Both individuals had open ended sentences which meant they would be released based on their behavior and family circumstances. The young women were named Shanae Owens and Megan Jensen.

Shanae was incarcerated because she got into a fight with another girl and the other individual died. She has some amazing family who really care about her and just want to really help her improve, to love herself and to have the best life that she can. I can feel their support in every moment with them and its obvious that she feels their love and support too. Even though she has done something really bad, she feels secure in their love and caring for her. Her family also really openly talks about their flaws and problems- her father admits to a shady past and her mother states, “I've been there.” One of the questions that her social workers and probation officers look at is whether the family is growing as well, and I see so much of that in these clips. Even at such a young age, Shanae is learning about critical thinking and in counseling sessions makes comments such as “That might be effective for her.” I listened to that comment and compared it with some of the individuals around her and thought of her as an older woman inhabiting a young body with a brain wise and thoughtful beyond her years. She has had circumstances that in many ways I can not fathom; raped by several men at age eleven, becoming pregnant at age eleven (not sure if they were from the same circumstance, but I suspect they might be), getting into a fight and not even remembering what happened during it, etc... When she is moved to a group home, she reminds herself, “I started at the bottom there, I can do it here”. She reminds herself of her flaws but also focuses on her blessings “They never gave up on me, my parents, my family, nobody...” She finds her strength in her family and their love for her, so much so that she is able to continue to draw from that strength even when her mother passes away. She seems to see how to grow even within tight limitations and how to use the limitations in many ways to her own advantage.

Megan is an interesting young lady. I am not sure what she was incarcerated for as if it was mentioned I missed it... she doesn't seem to talk about it at all. She states that she is in trouble ever day at her facility and that she doesn't care. I watch her and realize that she almost never looks at the person she is talking to or the camera... almost like she doesn't notice that they are there. Megan states several times that she 'doesn't care', but that isn't what I feel as I watch her. It feels like she cares so much her heart would bleed with the showing of it, she looks away to hide herself, her bravado and anger are her masks. I sense her fear of relationships and hurt, but I also feel her strength and resilience... her desire to be better and to have better is just as apparent as her defense mechanisms.

“You're going to end up just like your mother and unconsciously I have been doing that”

“I regret so much... I feel like an old woman trapped in a young girl's body”

“I'm never going to change anything in my life cause this was what's supposed to happen”

I see parallels between her and her mother and the ways that they think as well as differences in their views. Both of them seem to state at different times that they have nowhere to go and you can see how this view of their lives and positions can shape a negative vision of their lives and possible choices going forward. Her mother states that they need to go to counseling together and Megan refuses- a struggle that I can see in two lights. Counseling would be helpful for Megan for her own problems and learning to deal positively with her anger, but at least at this point I am not sure that family counseling would be beneficial for her. Her mother complains that Megan states that her mother was never there for her – is a 'stranger' to her in fact – and then state that she had custody of Megan until Megan was seven. You see her mother try to count out how many years she had with Megan and the use of words like custody, she had her grandmother, etc... suggests that Megan may have a valid viewpoint... her mother wasn't there even when she wasn't in jail. I watch Megan tell social workers and probation officers that she will not avoid undesirables because her mother would be considered an undesirable and as time goes by to cut her mother out of her life, recognizing the danger and stress that it causes her in her life. Megan has more options than her mother... mainly because she sees that she has more choices than her mother. In so many ways, their viewpoints are similar but Megan's are beginning to evolve as she heads out on own and starts to try and live on her own and with friends. She doesn't have the strong support of much family at all... you do not see her grandmother much at all and only hear about things she might do, etc... (In her grandmother's defense, it sounds like she is overwhelmed trying to deal with all the problems she faces between herself, her daughter, and all her grandchildren.)

“I ain't nothing like my mother”

I see a very tough life for Megan ahead of her. She tends to fight her limitations and looks at adversity in a short term way, not recognizing how her behavior and thoughts can affect her long term choices and limitations. I want to reach out and help her and also back up because her anger scares me a bit... no matter how justified it might be.

Something that interested me and I am still thinking about is that Shanae's family seems more close knit and show their love for each other better. While Shanae seems to have committed a harder crime and therefore, has more to overcome along with the lack of privilege that she has due to race, gender, etc... she is the individual that I have the most hope for after watching this film. Both of these individuals were living their lives beginning to relieve the cycles of their parents that were potentially destructive to themselves and others. Andre Lorde states, “There is no such thing as a single issue struggle, because we do not live simple issue lives.” Both of these individuals show us a good example of how trying to separate people into single categories isn't helpful for the individuals being classified nor really informative to those doing the classifying. It seems like the only consequences of trying to see people in these limited vision are negative... for everyone involved. Megan's mother makes a very excellent observation- “It doesn't matter what you did, it matters what you do” After the death of her mother, Megan mentions that she has so much to forget and she could get drunk or smoke to 'try and forget' but that wouldn't really be helpful in a positive way for her- a very mature observation for some her age and with her grief. I see Megan as getting some advantages that she didn't really work for... that Shanae only got through hard work and in some ways, I think that Shanae will do better for it and that some of Megan's privilege is helping to hold her back from what changes she really needs to make in her life.

I wonder how the director chose these two girls, how she found them and what about each of them drew her to them to help her express her ideas and thoughts. I wonder how these young women changed the ways that Liz Garbus viewed them and their individual situations and how all the individuals involved in this project may have modified their viewpoints on these women and incarcerated young people in general based on the work they performed for this film. I am grateful to see this small vision of what could have been my past and what so many struggle with. Thank you.

One how that came up in some reading near the end was "Orange is the New Black." I have never watched or had any interest in watching this show, however, the statistics in the readings were powerful, sad and horrifying. The fact that jails are now are largest mental health providers in our country isn't totally new to me, but adding women to that equation is. Recognizing that their families and children are affected by the states' choice to incarcerate these women instead of providing mental health services and giving them the ability to be at home seems to suggest that what society's goals really are is to provide people for private incarceration for profit, instead of helping people be productive members of their communities. The documentary asks a good question... “Is incarcerating these women worth it?” I suggest it is not.

photos from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368745/, https://woyingi.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/documentary-review-girlhood-by-liz-garbus/


So Many Blessings

I'm a bit worn out and frantic tonight with a head full of thoughts traveling a hundred miles a minute. I will confess I should be doing homework and I can't seem to. I am finding myself just thinking and wishing and trying to think good thoughts about angry people. As I realized today that I am spiraling into a bad place, I thought that I would take a moment to really count out some blessings that I have. I am sure that I will not remember enough- I take many blessings for granted, but I will admit that I am a pretty lucky lady.

I have five amazing cats! They are so happy on the days that I only work half days because we can spend time together. We eat and laugh and run on the treadmill together as they jump on and slide off. It is hard to get lost in your thoughts when you have to watch for cats underfoot on a fast moving belt. My treadmill is starting to wear out which is pretty sad but i have had it a few years and i will admit I do beat them up. :)

I have a great place to live. It's cute and small and just feels comfortable. Brock loves it as well and we spent some of today wandering in the woods looking at the birds and picking up trash from the previous tenants that had blown into woods behind the house. We filled up the trunk of my car with trash- not that much but it's bulky stuff and I'll drop it off on my way to work tomorrow.

My Boo is my joy. It is awesome that he still wants to spend so much time with me. I always imagined a teenager who was aloof and somewhat distant, but that isn't what I have. I have a young man who still loves my hugs, wants kisses on his nose and is willing to talk my ear off on walks about what's in his mind. I know that will probably change someday, but I am enjoying it while it lasts.

I have a well running car, Old but useful, and an ex who loves to fix it when it has problems. I use the car for so much between CPR and pharmacy work and school that I am constantly racking up the miles. But it rarely lets me down. That's awesome considering its 20 years old.

I have fallen in love with the ferrets myself. I never really imagined having such silly pets- they are weasels you know.... but they are awesome. Sometimes they will climb into bed with me and curl up under the covers like cats. They are soft and Strawberry will lie there and lick my chin as I fall asleep. It's neat. yes, they can be a pain but they are teaching me so much and Brock loves them so much I sometimes wonder if his heart would burst with feeling of it. He gives them horsey rides on his back, extra treats and just snuggles and chats with them, giggling when they kiss him. I look at them and smile... I can't help it.

I have a few really amazing friends. They watch over me and put up with my silliness, my PTSD, my fears and anxieties and more foibles that I would like to admit. They keep me smiling when things get tough and love me no matter how weird I get. Those are some of the most amazing blessings of my life. :)

I have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I have my scriptures- both large print and small- that I can use when ever I want. I have opportunities to pray, to ask questions, to love, and to talk with my Heavenly Parents. While everyone should have that opportunity, I am grateful that I do see it as an opportunity and not a must do or requirement. I am grateful for books and chat groups that help bring me closer to him, to other members, to gospel principles, to change, and to revelation.

I am grateful for opportunities to provide service for others, whether its a couple of bucks so that someone can get gas, or a hug, or laughter. I love to give others laughter. I just love to be able to serve other people and dive deep into their humanity and therefore, my own. And I am grateful for those who serve me. Thanks for my awesome home teacher and friend who gave me a blessing last month even though I live so far away. And my awesome visiting teacher who tries to keep up with me even when I am so busy I am running around in circles. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. I am very blessed to know some very good people from church and from my community. We may not agree on everything, but for the most part.... we all agree on love and I can't ask for more than that!

I am grateful for my son's service dog. He always sees me and just seems so amazingly happy. He grunts with pleasure and rubs up against me until he is exhausted. If I get behind on walks, he comes back to find me and to motivate me to join the group again even if I have to push myself harder. He wags every time he sees me and will happily climb up and join me on my lap- a tough feat for a huge labrador retriever.... he does it though.

I am extremely grateful for the relationship that I have with my ex. So many people see us chatting and working together with Brock and just seems astonished. I get at least one comment from somebody a month about how they simply couldn't do it- they just couldn't be nice to someone who has hurt them so badly. It's funny but I do not see my relationship with him as that remarkable. We were always such strong friends.... I can't imagine living with just anger directed at someone I need to work with on a daily basis. I think that would kill us all. So instead, we are building a different cell... where Bug is still the nucleus and we work together to create peace and beauty in both of our lives. That both of us could come to this place is a blessing that I do not take for granted.

I am grateful for music. I have so much music that I can surround myself with to bring myself joy or to help sort difficult emotions that I am trying to deal with. I love being able to walk on the tread mill and sing to the music that I am listening to ... to be able to dance to music even though I am a terrible dancer. I enjoy making breakthroughs in both thought and writing through poetry and music. I do not want to imagine life without it. Currently Rob Thomas/ Matchbox 20 and Barenaked Ladies seem to be what keeps pulling me in. I can really accomplish things when I'm listening to them.

I am grateful for food and clean water. So many people are not blessed to have that and to have them pretty accessible to me is a great blessing indeed.

I love my Fitbit. Even when I am struggling, it helps to motivate me to keep moving and to move more. To keep moving, even when I am tired or depressed. Even when I feel lazy. heck, just the idea of it keeps me moving even when I forget to wear it or it dies because I didn't charge it. A good placebo. :)

I love my bed. It was given to me a few months ago and I have been stunned about how well i love it. I have always been a futon girl and couldn't imagine anything better. But the bed I have now with memory foam and other stuff is simply amazing. I tend to sleep quite well as long as my head lets me. And since its a king size there is plenty of room for the cats to share with me. Heck, I can sit and watch a movie with two other people on my bed and three cats and we all have room. It's pretty awesome.

I have warmth, fun and snuggly blankets and decent clothing. I tend to wear out my clothing faster than I should so I am always on the hunt for more- threw out six socks,some garments, 1 pair of PJ pants this week alone due to tears, huge holes, etc... I am really hard on socks... but I think they are my favorite form of clothing.... so I have on a new pair tonight and my feet are definitely ready for bed.

I love books and I have no shortage of them. I have spiritual and religious books, history, self help, children's, literature, mystery, novels, comic books... some of everything. I love reading and can't imagine life without books either. I have a book with me everywhere I go... even if I know that the chances of having time to read are slim. I just feel like my bag is empty until I have a book in it. What a blessing to live in a country where I can get books everywhere. I probably spent too much on books, but I figure there are worse hobbies. ;)

There is so much more, but I am headed to bed. I am grateful to be home early so that I can go to sleep and prepare for the morning... for work and friends and food and love. What are you grateful for? What means the most to you tonight as it gets cold and the sky turns dark...?


Thoughts and Musings on "Black Feminism in Everyday Life" by Siobhan Brooks

I just finished really a long essay titled “Black Feminism in Everyday Life: Race, Mental Illness, Poverty and Motherhood and was written by Siobhan Brooks. This is one of the most powerful and painful readings that I have ever picked up. Schizophrenia is a very touchy topic for me on a few different levels. To read the original essay that I am reacting too, here is a link. This post is a bit convoluted and a bit personal to boot, but I certainly found lots to think about and comment on... :)

"They didn't deal with the issues of poverty and lack of education, the realities of infanticide and racism or making abortion accessible for all women"

"I think... rarely considered issues of class regarding motherhood"

I grew up very sheltered from feminists issues. In fact, a general authority of my church named "feminists" as one of the three most dangerous enemies to the church. The idea of individuals calling themselves feminists and being activists was (and still is a little) frightening to me. Contention and anger scare me a lot and activism and feminism come with both- mostly appropriately contentious, etc... as change doesn't come with silence demurring - it comes with struggle, with raised voices, and activity. It has taken over two decades for me to not only embrace many of the ideals that feminism embodies, but to feel comfortable calling myself a feminist and trying to learn to be comfortable with activism. I grew up relatively lower middle class I think and didn't really understand the idea of racism at all- to some extent I still do not ever though I do recognize some racism in myself and those around me. I understood that poverty was caused either by yourself or that God was testing you with it... but most likely a bit of both. I have heard that the US has a very high rate of infant mortality and I have never really understood that in the guise that I also here we have the best health system in the world. I also recognize that the women's movement has managed to make abortion legal, however, the reality is that abortion is for the most part only available to a small percentage of women especially as laws are passed creating more and more hurdles to obtaining it. When I read these lines I thought about how race and poverty/ class really do intersect a lot in our societies and for individuals without health insurance, so too do the problems of infanticide, fewer educational opportunities, and fewer successful ways to raise productive, happy, successful children. When I was getting divorced I discovered that women who divorce are more likely to become impoverished and adding children to the mix only increased the chances. I do struggle a lot with finances and paying the bills even though I work like mad and long enough hours that some days I come home and I am just too tired to even make anything for my dinner.

In many ways, I do not think that the feminist movement has ever fully dealt with the "realities of infanticides and racism or making abortion available for all women." I say this for many reasons. One reason is that no matter where you live in this country (and in many places in the world), abortions are simply not feasible or available to those who need them. While abortions are technically legal in this country, so many 'minor' restrictions and so much societal/ political pressure. In so many ways, It appears to me that to be able to be an activist, you must have steady financial support and stability in your life to return to... and so it makes an unfortunately amount of sense that feminism as a movement can literally not see important and needful distinctions in their work because these individuals for the most part have not lived or witnessed these particular struggles. For someone who is always able to afford and get healthcare whenever they need it, it is really hard to imagine the woman sitting crying on the couch after a fall praying that her leg isn't broken and after an hour of intense pain, begging a regular doctor's office to get her in to avoid the costly emergency room... and to go back to work two days later against doctor's advice because the financial needs are even greater now with the injury. For a stay at home mother with a well to do and fairly stable home and relationship, it is challenging to even comprehend how someone can give birth and be back behind a cash register or teaching a class two days later due to financial motivations. It is so easy to not see or even understand that these situations not only exist, but are way too common for comfort and even one significant change in their life can bring them to the same point of struggle. I watch many people who need feminism fight it because they can not see how it is helping them... and for the most part they are absolutely right- having the right to get an abortion but the inability or lack or resources to make it possible feels much the same as no right at all.  Having the right to legally take a few weeks off after child birth but not the resources or support to do so again doesn't feel much different to the woman who has the right and struggles back to work so that she can feed herself and her child. I have sometimes wondered in the feminist movement and motherhood have rarely noticed each other at all. After a child is born, the mother will work and struggle through the best she can with whatever resources she has and its seems to me (might not be true, just my thoughts from the readings and my own experience) and the woman is a mother, there is so little to help her at all. Many of the same people that I know who are against abortion only want to adopt white wee babies, not children with pasts or children with phenotypes different from their own. There are lots of organizations to help you adopt out your baby, but not to help set you up in such a way to learn, understand and really take care of it- in this sense the child becomes a commodity which doesn't feel comfortable to me either. The government has programs that can help and do help, but depending on your circumstances is isn't hard for me to see how people and children fit through the cracks all the time and very little in resources or even thought seems to be brought to the table by either feminist groups or those who are "anti abortion / pro life." And now I am one of those people.... where I think about it and want to change it and feel strong emotions about all of this and yet... I do not see any way to change it very much at all and so after a few weeks, these thought might too simply drift off into my memories as the weight of daily living, work and needs overwhelm and slowly push them to the deep of the subconscious mind. (In a separate reading titled Alaza', "My oldest sister .... she's married and lives with her husband, she doesn't have any babies (so you know she's going somewhere!" Strong words indeed.)

"They never said I was being abused and never made me feel as if there was something obviously wrong with the way we lived."

"In fact, I never saw my mother as having a mental illness at all because she was functional"

"I feared that my survival would be at risk if I were ever taken away from her."

Ouch. This hit hard. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was twelve (this was in the 1980's where so many mental health disorders including bi-polar and autism were called schizophrenia- with age, time and more knowledge I suspect that my mother is actually bi polar or had borderline personality disorder, but that is only a guess on my part. For six months, she used medication and I remember that six months as a fairly quiet and peaceful time. As one of five children, things were never truly quiet but even my mother seemed calm and didn't seem so manic and ragged and ready to fight. Then, she decided that the doctor was wrong, threw away the meds and has studiously avoided doctors, counselors, anyone who could potentially be a threat to her since then. The fear of people understanding what happened at home and then rejecting me for it was very real and it was only during my teenage years that the war of openness and hiding all broke into my conscious life. When I couldn't take it any more, I would try to run away and being a relatively unintelligent person, I ran to the homes of church members who would tell me to stop being rebellious, to honor my mother and father and would then return me home where I would be seriously punished. Nothing I ever told anyone that was happening in my home was every really believed until after my sister and I were old enough to leave without legal recourse. This quote makes me smile and cry for the child that this young woman once was- not having the best help at home but also some support and love to help her continue on. I want more for her and I feel I think some of the pain that she might have felt and confusion from the different examples of families in society around her. Did her mother love her? Yes it sure seems so. So together they both fought or dealt with her mental demons. I have not chosen to do that as I do not feel like I can... so I recognize that my mother does love me and did the very best job she knew how, but I avoid all contact to protect myself from the violent anger and words that are hurled through the air when she is crossed... and it is so hard to know what will make her feel crossed. Many of my siblings have moved far enough away that visits with her require preparation and one sibling has moved his family and not passed out the address. Its a bit of a cluster mess really.... Sometimes I think that the feminist movement has done so much good with focusing on domestic abuse, etc... but these movements tend to focus on the men as perpetrators and women as victims - while stereotypically and usually true, it leaves the victims of women doubly silenced. Also, mental health is something that both feminism and society tend to shy away from. Its difficult, messy and very individual and unique... it is also quietly feared. I am grateful to have read this story, to learn that she had no idea that medication even existed and to recognize that this happens to many people. I am sad that it does, but listening to other people who have successfully and even compassionately survived these situations is a beautiful and precious thing. (In a separate reading titled 'Jaminica', she suggests the same idea that gripped my heart- "...I immediately felt like if she could go through that sort of thing and come out on top, then I could too."

"I began to understand why most women of color were in ethnic studies, not women's studies"

"These women just assumed everyone was coming from a similar environment as theirs."

I had never really heard of the idea of ethnic studies until the last year or so and what little I heard about it suggested to me that the class was a mix of feminism and cultural studies. So I thought it sounded really interesting but not necessarily a novel idea. This reading suggested its real appeal and how it is so vital to women of color who, even in classes that would seem welcoming to them and safe, are actually not able to feel the same safety and benefits that white women are. That was an eye opening idea to me... and suggests my own skin color as a result. (In a separate reading titled "Myesha", she states - "I'm not sure how much of the way they act is about me being black, but I think it could be more about my being black than I actually know or understand. I don't even know if they understand how racist they can act." I suspect that at least for me, I would have no idea how racist I was being... for if I did I like to think I would fight to change it after getting over being appalled and ashamed at myself. Sometimes the idea of privilege is wonderful and comforting life a security blanket, but it is also like a blindfold in which I do not even recognize what I cannot see. The blanket that I carry for warmth and protection that also leaves me unable to truly understand the environment around me for others... and in essence, myself.


photos: http://temple-news.com/lifestyle/people-you-should-know-siobhan-brooks-king/