MLK Day

“You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day one of honoring his life and legacy by applying his principles to our actions. Although his famously inspiring speech was fifty-six years ago, we still need his words to inspire us to do better.

Here are two quotes from MLK, Jr. which resonant with me today.

One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.

 

Nathan Phillips, an Omaha tribe elder, confronted and mocked by Catholic high school students 1-19-19

 

This screenshot from a video is disgusting when one sees the smug look on this teenager’s face who mocks Nathan Phillips, an Omaha tribe elder, and Vietnam Veteran.

The other boy has an open mouth, no doubt yelling in support of his high school buddy and MAGA hat wearer. This group of over 100 students jeered and shouted, “Build that wall.”

The group had been yelling at African American’s representing another group a few minutes before they turned their hate on the indigenous people’s group.

It’s 2019, to far along in the millennium and decades from Martin Luther Kings, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” on August 28, 1963.

The hate’s still there. The age is younger, blatant, conceited and entitled.

Nathan Philips continued his drumbeat, his chant for peace.

“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ ” Phillips recalled. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way, and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”

Phillips kept drumming and singing, thinking about his wife, Shoshana, who died of bone marrow cancer nearly four years ago, and the various threats that face indigenous communities around the world… Washington Post

For decades, Mr. Phillips has gone to the Arlington National Cemetery every Veterans Day with a peace pipe to pay tribute to the soldiers.

“They’re (the boys) just responding to a president that is giving license to racists and bigots who have no place in our society,” he said. “I wouldn’t even wish ill will on those kids,” he said. “My job has always been taking care of the fire, to keep the prayers going.”

This isn’t an isolated incident of hate crimes. You can Google ‘hate crimes’ and see all the conflicts this month: a Sikh man in Oregon attacked, Somalian immigrants in Kansas City targeted with a bomb to their apartment, and the list goes on.

But the purpose of this post isn’t to harp on the negative because hate cannot win. Everyday people can make a positive difference, whatever their age, ethnicity or race.

Today, promise yourself that you’ll seek social justice in whatever way you can. Be an inspiration. Find out about other cultures and ethnicities through conversation, reading, and exploring connections with others.

This is something you can do on MLK, Jr. Day:

Take yourself and/or your kids to any of the many MLK celebrations in cities and town throughout the USA. Take your kids, nieces or nephews, grandkids, your favorite kid to the library and have them read any of these children’s books

or the ones found on these sites: Pragmatic Mom, MultiCultural Kids Blog, or ask your friendly librarian for a suggestion.

 

Children’s Book on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahalia Jackson

 

You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.

Art, Family, Latino culture, Latino Family Traditions, Writing

The Ortega Adobe – A House of Dreams

A couple of months ago I wrote about Ekphrasic Poetry. There is also such a thing as creating a story from a photograph, or Ekphrasic Prose.

This story is based on a painting housed in our county library. The Ortega Adobe is a California landmark that still stands 160 years after it was built.

Art Tales photo

                                                                     House of Dreams

 

María Conception awakened with a sharp intake of breath. Why did the man in her dream try to grasp her hand? He was a shadow, but his presence familiar.

The sun burned hot through the muslin curtains covering the window. She pulled her damp nightdress away from her chest and rose slowly, allowing her arthritic knees time to acclimate to movement. The clatter of pots, a knife chopping against a heavy board, and the kettle whistling sounded through the room.

Her legs moved slowly, shuffling towards the nightstand and the pitcher of water. After a rinse of cool water on her face, she stroked wet palms over her silver mane, twisted a rope of hair to the nape of her neck.

Buenas días, Doña María.” Her new daughter-in-law wiped her hands on a faded blue apron before she took an earthenware cup from the cupboard. “The coffee is ready.”

“Maybe today,” Maria Conception said noticing lines of worry across her daughter-in-law’s forehead. She sat heavily on the wood chair, its seat smoothed from years of use.

Both women cast glances towards the kitchen window, searching the sky for answers, wondering if bad weather approached or the bloated clouds were passing through. “I hope they return soon,” her daughter-in-law said.

Woven baskets filled with chiles sat next to the charcoal brazier, ready for roasting. “Canning day,” María Conception said. Soon, the familiar scent of burning coal and the sting of chile vapor rose, filling the home, before escaping through open windows.

María Conception instructed her daughter-in-law on the correct way to make chile sauce and the virtues of canning. She needed to know the Ortega family’s cooking secrets so she could provide for an unstable future when it arose. She began with the telling of the family history.

Their adobe, given to them in a land grant, stood on Chumash land spanning the years between Mexican territory and California statehood. Emigdio, María Conception’s husband, built the house.

She remembered the day he returned with his horse sweaty from pulling the carreta filled with redwood beams he found in an abandoned adobe in Rancho Sespe. Their river rock foundation would now have an equally sturdy roof. “A good home,” she said.

They raised thirteen children who worked their fields, tended the goats and provided for their needs.Their adobe withstood the flood of 1867 and the fire which burned their rafters of giant reed cane tied with rawhide. The odor lingered for months. The rugged beams survived, slightly scorched. “A miracle,” María Conception said.

Minutes passed to hours as the chile roasted, was peeled, and plucked clean of seeds. Unspoken anxiety stretched in the space between the two women. María Conception rocked in the oak chair her husband carved decades before. The rhythm, a comforting pulse, creaked to a stop.

A knock on the door boomed and paused, followed by rapid taps. María Conception looked through the window where Mr. Sanchez stood, his hat in his hand, and she knew what her dream meant.

#

This story is fictional however some of the characters are based on fact. Emilio Ortega, Emigdio and Maria Conception’s 11th child, established the Ortega Chile Packing Company using his mother’s recipes. The company has a variety of products on the market.

poetry

How Dalí Helps Me Create

Dali quote, art and dreaming
Salvador Dalí quote on Dreaming

Yesterday I searched for a gift for my son whose birthday is coming up. He’s an artist who favors surrealists and abstract expressionism.

I came upon some Salvador Dalí paintings which made me remember a trip to London with my son where we visited “Dalí Universe.”

I read that much of his artwork came to him in the few seconds between sleep and wakefulness. I imagined Dalí dipping into his dreams while creating his artwork. He referred to his art as “hand-painted dream photographs.”

Dali called this “method” his “secret of sleeping while awake,” or the hypnagogic state.

This captured my attention since I frequently find that dawn is when I feel most creative. 

Today during those seconds between waking and leaving my dreams I found a poem. 

 

Sleep State

 In the depths of the morning

I touch heaven,

the dawn rises

in ribbons of blue, 

in the quiet

before the hum

of living.

 

 

In the depths of the morning,

when light creeps through

a flutter of lashes,

I reach back into a dream

to salvage a memory

relive a feeling.

 

In the depths of the morning,

in the silence

where there is only me,

I breath life 

through a yawn

and decide

to try another day.

Luckily, I have my cell phone on my nightstand and use it to record notes, including this poem. I find if I turn on my lamp to use my pen and jot words down on paper, the bright light distracts me.

Maybe this technique of “sleeping while awake” will help you as a writer, artist, or poet.

Or you can try sleeping more, 😴

What prompts your creativity?

Encouragement, Inspiration, Writing

Obituary and Passion

From Birmingham H.S. Project-flickr.com
From Birmingham High St. Art Project-flickr.com

You know, the Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only
asked one question after a man died: “Did he have
passion?” – Serendipity, the movie

 

Whether the Greeks wrote or didn’t write obituaries isn’t as important as the question.

Passion is a zeal, a fervor, a barely controllable emotion towards a subject or person.

Do you have that feeling for something? Art, writing, cooking, service…

a feeling that if you did not do this ‘thing,’ your spirit would dampen, keep you in regret, have you say ‘what if?’

For me, if I’m not writing, I’m not truly living. My body and spirit often feel like a container of thoughts, waiting for my hands to hold a pen or hover over a keyboard ready to dive in and release those thoughts into a journal or on a keyboard.

To not set free those thoughts, is to keep everything in a container until it’s in danger of imploding, or worse, create a slow burn from the inside out.

The word passion comes from the Latin verb patere meaning to suffer.

Sometimes we suffer when working towards that passion. We always suffer if we don’t even make the attempt.

I say this only to give an example of what can happen when not heeding your enthusiasm.

Sometimes we do this to ourselves. Other times we allow someone else, through their criticism, to reduce our conviction for a subject.

It’s not their fault, it’s up to you to fulfill your own dream. To crave it so much that you hear their words and work on your passion anyway.

Critics can either wrap your passion in words of doubt until your light goes out or you can decide to follow your dreams and see where they lead. 

Your art, writing, cooking, ‘fill in the blank,’may not lead you to fame or fortune. You may need to work hard to fulfill your dream, and this might takes years…

but your family or friends could affirmingly answer the obituary question;

better, yet, you would know the answer before anyone wrote your obituary.