Encouragement, Wisdom

Jesus Was An Amazing Social Activist

Seattle Protest, Nov. 9, 2016 photo by Ricard Ha
Seattle Protest, Nov. 9, 2016, photo by Ricard Ha

 

United We Stand: How do we get through the difficulties that threaten to tear us apart?

This was the topic of Sunday’s service at the church which I attend. Although it’s part of a series titled “Family Stuff,” it’s also appropriate for what’s happening during the post-Trump election.

Biblical scriptures are great like that, showing us that many ancient words still pertain to current circumstances.

The scripture used this past Sunday was Philllipians 1:27:

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

These words reminded me that Jesus was himself a social activist. Anyone familiar with the bible knows the numerous stories of him speaking and fighting against injustice. What is amazing is that he did so in a non-violent manner.

It has grieved me to hear about the racist incidents happening all over our country. Time magazine cited several. A compilation of Tweets enumerating hundreds of incidents on Day 1 in Trump’s America began.

Reading the tweets may anger you. The hatred is real and so is the pain. Don’t let these hateful things break your spirit.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted more than 300 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the five days since Election Day.
“They’ve been everywhere — in schools, in places of business like Walmart, on the street,” SPLC President Richard Cohen said Monday.

I’ve heard stories, from parents in my own city, that racist comments have been made in elementary school classrooms. That breaks my heart.

My comment to the parent was to report all incidents and ask the administration to gather an assembly, reaffirming that hateful speech and bullying isn’t allowed whoever the POTUS is.

I read this report today from a Latino legal civil rights organization.

MALDEF STATEMENT ON REPORTS OF POST-ELECTION BULLYING AT CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS

November 10, 2016
LOS ANGELES, CA – In the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, reports have surfaced of problems at schools, including anti-immigrant bullying. MALDEF calls on local and state officials to move swiftly to address any incidents of uncivil discourse in our schools.

Please attribute the following statement to MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz.

“Every public school in the state of California is obligated under both state and federal law to step in to prevent and address bullying or harassment on any prohibited basis, including on the basis of actual or assumed immigration status or on the basis of race or ethnicity. These obligations are grounded in the federal and state constitutions; they have not and will not change regardless of who has been elected president or who is serving as president.

MALDEF calls upon school superintendents, principals, other administrators, and teachers to act promptly to address any bullying or harassment tied to the Trump campaign’s regrettable rhetoric around immigration and to take proactive steps to prevent such activity. MALDEF will not hesitate to take legal action against any school that fails to comply with its constitutional and legal obligations with respect to any such conduct.”

Now, I know all Trump supporters aren’t spewing racist remarks towards others but to those who believe electing their candidate gives license to their hate speech, they’re wrong and we have to combat these incidents.

On Nov. 9th, I took to FB, as many of us do to share, comment, vent, and lament.

“My son, in Denver, said people cheered in the streets last night, people wearing White Pride shirts. He’s uncomfortable, angry, and sad, like many of us. Fear ruled the night.
I woke up needing to process the choice most Americans made and began my day like all the others, reading my devotional. Psalm 39:7 appeared. It’s about hope.
Those of us who don’t like the choice will grieve but please continue to do the work you’ve always done for a better America, for all people. Do not let fear and hate destroy that work or dictate the next four years. Let hope rule the days to come.”

What can you do? What can I do?

Hope is what I will embrace. And don’t get me wrong, hope isn’t only a noun. Hope is a verb, too.  Hope as a noun is a feeling of expectation but as a verb, it is a desire for something to happen. Hope in action is significant.

Hope Journal, photo by Elizabeth M. at flickr.com
Hope Journal, photo by Elizabeth M. at flickr.com

 

Hope is not passive. I’m reminded by numerous scriptures that Jesus was not a passive man, or apolitical. He  confronted injustice, railed against tyranny, and engaged in ‘civil disobedience.’ Be involved with the communities that are hurting.

There are hundreds of things you can do as an individual or family to confront racist incidents. Start with your own family and talk about social justice in your home. Join a civil rights organization, participate in a local or state protest, talk to your kid’s teacher, confront hate, listen to others pain, demonstrate kindness and compassion.

If you want more resources, there’s plenty of people who’ve contributed their tips on the internet. Here’s a couple about talking with kids after the election and stories from the classrooms, What Do I Say?

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

 

Anne Lamott self care quote
Healing, Health, poetry, Self Care, tough times, Wisdom

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Safe

Anne Lamott self care quote
Unplugging-Anne Lamott

This has been a frightening week, interspersed with personal trying periods, and a need to bury my head for a couple of hours at a time.

My daughter texted me after the tragedy in Nice, France.

iPhone text
Text One
iphone text
Text Two

 

I hated that she felt unsafe. I hated that I couldn’t stretch my arms across 1,000 miles and give her a hug, kiss her forehead. All I could offer her was to look for hope and to take a deep breath.

But I had to remember that feeling unsafe doesn’t mean that we are.

This was my reaction to feeling powerless, angry, and fearful.

I wanted to share the power of prayer with her, but she isn’t Christian or of any faith anymore. That in itself added to my sadness. But, also gave me the opportunity, later, to have a conversation with her about why I pray and how that helps me.

That night the news across all channels broadcast the tragedy. Soon there was another world event, the attempted coup in Turkey, and another, the sniper attack on police officers in Baton Rouge.

I had to keep the television off and stay off social media. My mind, spirit, and body were out of whack.

My attempts at ‘righting’ myself was to practice some self-care. I tried to find ways to relax and experience safety.

The garden beckoned. The Monarch caterpillars had decimated the milkweed leaving it a skeletal reminder of a once gorgeous fiery orange headed plant. Meanwhile, new butterflies showed off acrobatic skills over the remaining fronds of the second milkweed bush.

Butterfly acrobatics
Butterfly acrobatics

While watering the potted succulents I found that two blossomed with beautiful flowers. Being in the garden helped and somehow pushed me to go to the gym and exercise.

Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.
Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.

That evening I decided not to go out and sat in my backyard coloring. My sister gifted me with the adult coloring books a few months back. This may sound cheesy, but I felt a lot of pleasure wielding the colored pencils, so much that I had to go buy me a box of Crayola crayons, the giant 64 set box.

The next day, I read a mesmerizing book of poetry written by a man who had been a slave and put into the ‘service’ of a wealthy slave owner as a child of six years of age. Although his verses expose the cruelty of slavery, his poetry reflects the beauty he finds with his parents and his own world.

Book of poetry, cuban poet Juan Francisco Manzano
The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle. Poetry of Juan Francisco Manzano.

Meditation via my cell phone is a life saver. I either go to Pandora and listen to Deepak Chopra or I go to the Oprah channel and listen to one of Chopra’s 21 days of meditations. (Many times they are free).

On Sunday, I attended church service where I’m a greeter a couple of times a month. As I passed out bulletins to numerous families, teenagers and the elderly, the smiles people gave after a “good morning, I hope you enjoy the service” enlivened me.

I wondered why I felt a new energy, and it dawned on me that although the people were heavily burdened, they were trying to live and do the best they could.

Over the weekend, I kept in close contact with my daughter and shared the photos above with her. I don’t know if this helped her but it sure helped me.

Do the best you can. Create your own safe space. Hugs. 

 

 

 

Family, Inspiration, Latino culture, Strong Women, Wisdom, Writing

Top 5 Posts of 2015 – An Authentic Cultural Experience

Top 5 #blog posts of 2015, blog posts
Happy New Year 2015

 

Are you excited for what’s ahead in 2016? I am.

The year 2015 had its up’s and downs. I think of the ‘downs’ as learning opportunities and the ‘up’s’ as blessings.

WordPress and Grammarly sent me year-end reports which reminded me of my writing during the past year. Their graphic reports were very cool with stats and all that, but I’m not going to post the whole thing.

Let’s just say my blog posts surpassed my 2014 stats in views and followers, a plus in my book.

Surprisingly, all of the most read posts had to do with aspects of my identity: Mexican culture, food, drink, home remedies, and the term “Chingona.” Interesting.

WordPress said,

If your blog was a concert at Sydney Opera House it would take 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see…representing 106 countries...with most referring traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Buzzfeed…

The referring traffic was a big surprise and means I need to keep up with my 20 Pinterest boards.

As for Grammarly, which corrects your grammar, I still hold the title of Comma Queen meaning I put commas everywhere but the right places far too often.

Now on to the “Top 5 Posts”:

  1. Five Important Ingredients for Tamales : The making of pre-Christmas tamales is a tradition where our family gets together to work towards a common goal, namely to make dozens of tamales for a communal feast. By the time New Year’s Day rolls around we are ‘tamaled’ out. Red tamales are filled with roasted pork simmered in red chile sauce and the ‘green’ ones are filled with jack cheese, strips of California green chile, and homemade salsa.
Christmas food, tamales, red chile tamales, green chile tamales, Mexican tamales
Red and Green Tamales. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

2. The Importance of Cultural Traditions: the title says it all. If we lose our culture we lose part of ourselves.

3. How to Be a Chingona in Ten Easy Steps: The steps are according to the wisdom of Sandra Cisneros, one of my favorite writers. We can all aspire to be chingonas. I love this image of Sandra Cisneros profile as an Adelita, a soldier in the Mexican Revolution. An Adelita is symbolic of the woman warrior.

quote on being a Chingona by Sandra CIsneros, woman, inspirational quote, women quote
Chingona- Sandra Cisneros quote. Quotesgram.com

4. Champurrado-Mexican Comfort Drink: this is a drink I make every Christmas since my mother ‘retired,’ from making a similar drink ten years ago. When she stopped making the drink, due to her limited eyesight, I was bestowed with carrying on a tradition. I make a vegan version for my sons and their friends.

5. Latino Home Remedies for a Cold: Back in the day, the standard issue for Mexican households was Vicks VaporRub, 7 Up, honey, Manzanilla (Chamomile) tea for cramps, Yerba Buena (Mint) tea for stomach aches, and caldo de pollo (homemade chicken soup) for flu or colds.

So there you have it, the top five posts in 2015.

I hope 2016 is a blessing to all of you and yours. Peace, love, and joy.

 

Encouragement, Inspiration, Wisdom, Writing

Why Do You Write?

This quote resonates with me.

Quote on Writing-Audre Lorde. www.alvaradofrazier.com
Quote on Writing-Audre Lorde. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

In my blog bio, I say something similar about the type of fiction I write for young adults and adults.

In my youth, violence, gangs, and drugs surrounded my neighborhood. During my adult career in juvenile justice and corrections, the same issues were part of my daily life, but I was on the other side.

When you live with violence, poverty, racism, fear, or trauma you can develop some coping mechanisms like acting out, repression and denial.

For many women, one of the coping strategies is silence. But when we stuff our thoughts, push the words down, stifle our voice in fear, we sometimes think we’re okay.

But we’re not.

Our feelings go somewhere deep into our muscles, into our blood, and into our soul, where we bury the pain under a facade of everything is fine, “don’t you see the smile on my face?”

That’s why I write. I tired of stuffing thoughts and reactions down into the corners of myself.

I tired of seeing others do the same thing, over and over again until their throat got so thick with unsaid words they would get sick, or develop masks, or self-medicate.

Write down your words, somewhere, anywhere. Let your pen flow with the unsaid things in your heart. Write through the fear, the terror, the uncomfortableness of the pain until you can’t breathe anymore, or the tears come and then write some more.

You will get to the other side.

That’s why I write.

Why do you write? When you leave a comment, please leave the name of your website so you can share your stories.

Thank you and enter September with an adventurous spirit.