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Posts from the ‘judgment’ Category


Went through my filing cabinet this morning…filing new documents and letting go of a lot of old paperwork. I lit a small fire in the fireplace and burned the “sensitive” and personal papers.  It felt good, until I stood up and noticed my house was smoke filled.  I threw open the front and back doors and let the day air cleanse the space.  My home feels lighter, I feel lighter.

There is so much I hang on to.  Stuff.  But little of it matters in the day to day. In fact most of it doesn’t.  But I let my energy hang on to it, and some days I feel the weight of it physically.  I have been weeding through my closet in much the same manner as my filing cabinet.  But I find it harder to let go of  cloth than paper.  Maybe it’s because I paid for my wardrobe, and the paper  comes free to me.  Money plays tricks on my sense of priorities and self worth. The paper is a burden, the clothes are a pleasure.  Too bad for me.  There are far greater pleasures to pursue and enjoy than the wearing and caring of my clothes.

our stories

My daughter turns twenty one this week. Every year I retell the story of her birth, well I try to.  Usually I get a groan, but I believe that my children really are interested in their story.

Today at work, one of the kids told me how when he was young, his father didn’t live with him and his mother.  His parents live together now, but this boy doesn’t know why  they lived apart.  Perhaps his father had to work in a city far away, or maybe his parents were separated.  His parents won’t tell the story..”it’s not important now,” his mother says.  But it is important.

Our stories, our histories, however subjective they are,  matter. Or do they?  I have met people who are so invested in their story that they become that story, rather than who they genuinely might be. I have done it myself.  The story becomes a role.

There is a place between the two..between the holding on too tightly to the past and the discounting of it altogether. I am not sure where that is, I feel as if we might float back and forth between the two. My Grandmother once told me that her mother, my Great Grandmother, never spoke of her life.  My Grandmother knew none of her mother’s history.  As such, I know nothing about her as well.

A few years ago, I sat with my mother and asked her questions I have never asked her before.  Sometimes I forget that before she was my mother, she was someone else entirely.  I wanted to know my mother outside her motherness.  Just as I want to discover who my daughter is, outside of her daughterness.

I am not sure we can ever really know anyone.  We seem to be  conditioned to view others  with the lens of their relationship to us.  I would like to find a way to know someone with out that bias..but perhaps that’s impossible.

why can’t women get along?

Today at work, I heard a young woman say, “I don’t get along with girls.” I’ve heard that often from women. “I don’t get along with other women.” In fact I have heard those words uttered no less than three times this week.

I have never once  heard a man say, “I don’t get along with men.”

What is it with women/girls that we have such trouble connecting to each other. I have to admit that while I haven’t ever uttered that phrase…I may have thought it.  I have heard my own daughter profess her preference for male friends over female ones.  Why is this so?

Often I hear the statement followed up with one of he following..

…I can’t trust women, they say one thing to your face, and another behind your back.

…they’re so dramatic.

…they’re backstabbers

…women are jealous of me

…they’re so high maintenance

Are we the competitive, insecure, shallow, selfish people we label ourselves to be?  Do we make lousy friends? Are we really untrustworthy and hard to get along with? Are men really better friends?

Perhaps the sting of betrayal is just harder to bear from a girlfriend? Perhaps we expect more from our female friends than our guy friends, and are disappointed in them more often.  I don’t know.  And it makes me sad. I have hope though. I have seen wonderful relationships between women…it happens, and happens often, perhaps we just don’t celebrate that enough.

I recall when my daughter was kindergarten, she was best friends with another little girl.  They did everything together and adored each other.  The teacher felt they were too dependent on each other, and so separated them the next year.  My daughter and her friend drifted apart. I wonder what might have happened had their friendship been allowed to just be.  What’s wrong  with developing close relationships? I regret my silence…why didn’t I question this decision?

I have decided that it is not too late to change this  for myself.  I have slowly recognized  my own culpability, and I have been working on nurturing and cherishing my relationships with other women. Perhaps I have just been lazy in the past, lacked effort more than intent. Perhaps the greater truth may be that I haven’t valued myself enough as a woman to see the value of other women. The tide  is changing on this.

Artists Who Walk…Snapshot of a Stranger

The inspiration for this walk came from several themes I have been thinking about for some time. First, I have always been drawn toward conversations among strangers. I am  curious to discover what people are willing to share or not about themselves. It is interesting that in our computer culture, people can find themselves very easily engaged in on line conversations with people they do not know, conversations they might be reluctant to have with someone face to face. I have been surprised by the candor of some discussions/comments I have read, attributing this to the safety of anonymity. I am also keenly aware that some discussions on line are also disingenuous…that persons can create alter egos on line, and represent themselves as whomever they like. It seems that the cover of our computer screen can allow us the safety to be completely open, but also unknown, or completely dishonest, and safe from being called out.

In person, however, the meeting of two strangers sets up a different dynamic. No longer anonymous, we have a bit more at stake. Often there is a palpable discomfort. The reasons for this are many, and I am not necessarily concerned with reasons, but rather with the outcome of such unease. What do we choose to share, what do we hold back? Are we as genuine as we can be, and how long does that take to happen? Is it a matter of trust, or safety, insecurity, ego, or even chemistry between two people?

I am wanting to explore the idea of what people share about themselves when they are not permitted to talk about what they “do for a living.”(see rule #3 below) The topic of work is an easy fall back as a conversation starter. It can be a source of pride, or shame, and can then set the tone for the rest of the conversation. Work is often seen as identity…” I am what I do.” I am interested in learning who people are aside from their professions.

Rules of the Walk:

  1. Take an hour long walk with someone you do not know. By this I mean, someone with whom you have never had a conversation and/or met face to face. Ideally you would set up the walk through another person.
  2. Have a conversation during the walk, this is not a silent meditation, although that could be interesting as well.
  3. You may not talk/ask about your jobs, what you do for a living, how you make money, etc. Trying to be very clear about that!
  4. The path of the walk is to be decided together as you walk.
  5. Go over the rules of the walk before you begin.

I made a conscious decision to not have any prepared questions along the way. I wanted any discussion to be spontaneous, and any awkward spaces to be just that. I was eager to see where each walk took us…the physical landscape as well as the interpersonal one.


our feet

the bee who joined us

the river view

the old trolley line

I headed to Milwaukie to the home of a friend to walk with Henry, the father of my friend. Henry is in town for a month visiting. I arrived at my friend’s home, and within a matter of about thirty seconds, I was headed out the door with “my stranger.” I explained very briefly the rules of the walk, and Henry was a little concerned about NOT talking about his work. “That will limit us some,” he said. But in fact in didn’t.
We walked for over an hour in fact, and talked the whole way. We spoke about our names first, and our preferences and dislikes concerning our nicknames. We then talked about families…our own and the nature and often dysfunctions of them. We ran into a number of dogs, giving them all our attention. This of course led to talk of pets in general. We then got into a long discussions of bees, and at one point Henry bent down and allowed a bee to crawl up on his finger. We walked for quite sometime with that bee, and then just as unexpectedly as it had joined us, it flew away.
I was amazed at the ease of our conversation. We had an immediate rapport and I credit Henry with being so open to the experience, with little or no expectation. The time passed quickly and before we knew it, we were back to longer strangers it seemed. The experience was delightful!


our feet

Duke and his person, we met them along the way

a sweet garden
My second walk began as my first one had, with little fanfare and out the door. Katsu is visiting from Japan with hopes of moving to Portland. He apologized time and again for his English, which was completely unnecessary as his English was flawless. And my Japanese is non existent.
Katsu had just finished a 43 day, 800 mile pilgrimage on a island off of Japan. He walked everyday…up to 30 miles, but averaging about 20 miles per day, with the intent of visiting over 80 Buddhist temples along the way. He called himself a “funeral Buddhist”…one who only seeks out a monk when someone has died. But the devotion of an 800 mile trek seemed to counter his perception of his faith. He saw the pilgrimage as a way for him to return to a simpler life, one he had been living until his father had become sick and then passed away.Katsu had returned home to care for his father and to take care of the family business. It was during this time Katsu said he became a “spending person.” A person he did not want to be. He has slowed his pace since his trip and is free right now of work of any kind…open to seeing what happens.
We also spoke of Katsu’s wife. She is Chinese from Hong Kong and she is not with him on this trip. They met at the university in Los Angeles, and married shortly after. I was amazed to learn that they are only able to communicate to each other through English, as neither knows the other’s first language. While Katsu’s English is very good, he says he misses the subtleties of the language, as does his wife. Katsu said that English for them is the “shock absorber of their emotions.” I am still pondering this…
The walk with Katsu too flew by. He laughed at me once saying that if I had wanted to walk with a stranger in Japan, people there would think I was crazy. I laughed and told him how in our culture we warn our children to “not talk to strangers,” but how often we actually do in fact. I dropped off Katsu at the home of his host. We hugged briefly and I felt I had made a new friend.


In both walks, I found that the physical path we took was decided through a primarily unspoken communication. It seemed we walked with no direction or destination in mind, and only on a few occasions did we need to stop and pay attention to where we were. Once we came upon a dead end, another a very busy street. Often I did not notice the scenery at all, but then there were moments when our surroundings directly influenced our conversation. The walk and the hour we spent was what we had in common…we had committed to that time and space together and what unfolded seemed a shared investment.


Tips For Finding Strangers

1.Ask your friends to help you connect with someone you do not know. I put out feelers to a number of friends, and the most ideal situation set me up with someone who I did not have even an menial conversation with. In one instance, I did speak with my “stranger” via cell phone, to set up the time and date. I felt afterwards, that this may have compromised the walk. In the end, I was unable to walk with this person, so I am not sure how this would have panned out.

2. Some suggested craigslist….I was skeptical

3. Wear a billboard sign, advertising for a “walk with an artist who walks.” Walk with someone who’s up for the walk.

4. “Cold call” approach someone you don’t know and ask them….might be weird

As a matter of safety, if the person is not the friend of a friend,walk in a public space with lots of people around. You don’t need to go for a hike in a forest, pick an urban setting. If you feel unsafe…ABORT the walk.

5. I have thought seriously about organizing an “walk with a stranger” event. Ideally people would be called to gather at starting point and each person would be paired with another randomly, again someone they didn’t know at all. Each pair would be given an hour to walk, after which everyone would return to the starting place. A discussion/ opportunity to share would follow.


My belief about God’s existence is…well mixed.  What I know is nothing really.  What I speculate is much.  What I feel is whole other thing.

I was making my bed today and the thought just rose up in me that we as a God believing people are pretty arrogant to think that there is a God up in heaven judging our every action.  It’s a scary thought on one hand if this is true.  And I have lived with this being the truth for most of my much so that I have lived in an almost constant state of fear and anxiety, acutely aware that I was being watched.  I have wondered too much what God would think of me in this moment and the next.  Wondering if what I was doing was good enough and waiting for some reward or punishment as the answer.  Not a good way to live, and certainly not an authentic way of being.  Every action done out of fear.  Ughh.  It makes me queasy thinking of this.

Why do we buy into this?  I think it is because we like to be judged. Really.  We want to know where we stand at any moment We want to believe that good begets good and bad begets bad…and by God, literally, we want   to be told we’re doing well.  We want it in school…working more for the grade than the actual understanding of a subject.  We judge and our judged by our peers and strangers alike, as well as by those we work with and for.  It would be nice to believe that we are not a judgmental people, but we are. I am.  I compare myself to other women all the time…most I see as more successful than I am. But often I judge myself as better than others.  It’s ugly but it’s true.  I catch myself comparing myself to others all the time.  How is this not judgment?  Pay attention one day to your inner thoughts.  I think you’d be surprised.  I was.  I had always thought of myself to be a fair and decent person; but the truth is I am pretty insecure and often judgmental.  One has to look in the mirror sometimes and face the truth.

Just the other day I heard Obama praising the firing of an entire high school’s teaching staff in Maryland. Former and current students of that school spoke up last week criticizing Obama for making an such a statement when he didn’t have the facts.  “He doesn’t even know us,” they complained, “how can he make a fair judgment.” Don’t we do this all the time?  We see someone arrested for a crime and we assume guilt.  If the person is found innocent, that story often doesn’t make the news.

It makes sense that as a judgmental people we would believe God to be this way too.  The Bible even tells us there will be a judgment day.  Enough already. Look at the universe…in the scheme of things we are a pretty insignificant part.  To believe that God is out there somewhere watching our every action is too much for me to believe and seems incredibly arrogant. I think I have chosen to believe this in the past mostly out of fear, a tradition of fear that was passed down to me. What I have come to believe about God now is very simple.

God is Love.  There is no fear or judgment in this Love…it is Love only and immensely.  Our task on this earth is to accept it.