Gentrification, The Contract With the Community and 50-50-20-15

•June 4, 2014 • 1 Comment

Step On a Crack:

I grew up in el barrio. It was during a rough time and we made do. We created change. As an adult I came back to the Hood. Gentrification set in 7 years later and now my community is a shadow of its former self. Umar Lee addresses the issue of gentrification with calm and reason.

Unless you grew up in a community like mine it is hard to understand the issues folks living in poverty and with racism as a daily occurrence face. I miss my old neighborhood. I miss el barrio. Maybe my little piece of heaven can be saved with Umar Lee’s inspiration.

Props to you Umar Lee. Thank you.

Peace,

Jen

Originally posted on Umar Lee:

Gentrification. Everyone knows the word yet how often are the the pros and cons of gentrification really discussed? Recently filmmaker Spike Lee discussed some of the negative consequences of gentrification in Brooklyn and took a lot of heat. Michel Martin, of the recently cancelled Tell Me More program on NPR, chastised former DC Mayor Marion Berry for even discussing the negative consequences of gentrification.

Why doesn’t the media cover gentrification more? It has always been my belief that the media doesn’t cover gentrification because a large percentage of media professionals, especially among the young generation, live on the front lines of gentrification. It is hard for them to be critical of themselves and their neighbors.

The narrative is that cities were dying. White-flight had created a problem of crime, a declining tax-base, failing schools, and vacant housing and white people came to the rescue. These white people are heroic saviors…

View original 501 more words

“My people have a hard time giving up”

•May 26, 2014 • 4 Comments

I often hear other writers critiquing those of us who write about alcoholism or addiction. I hear words like, ‘distanced’ or ”reserved’ as though the writer could not capture in words their own experience.

I get angry.

Living with an alcoholic or an addict, being an alcoholic or an addict, is not easy to write about in any kind of honest way. It has been years now and I have yet to write about the physicality of my mother’s death. I can barely face it in my waking hours.

Organs dissolve. Those dissolved organs leave the body while the person dying is still alive.

I will leave it there for now.

‘Distanced’?

‘Reserved’?

Hell yes.

How else do you live with the truth of a loved one killing themselves, slowly,  over your entire lifetime?

How else do you stay by them knowing no one else will?

You create Distance,

you stay reserved.

How else to Stay?

“My people have a hard time giving up.”

Thadra Sheridan, Poet,  gets not Giving Up.

So do most of us.
It is what it is, now isn’t it?

We don’t walk away,
Though often we wish we could

Run.

 

Peace,

Jen

Remember and Never Forget: Alcoholism Kills

 

Again,   Thank you to the Poets….

“How Poetry Can Help People with Dementia”

•April 3, 2014 • 4 Comments

 

Unknown-3

 

My mother’s road through Wernicke-Korsakoff, alcoholics dementia, was a long and tangled one.

I cared for her for years.

As the dementia took over it became harder and harder for me to hold it all together.

I am grateful to the social workers who helped me come to terms with the fact that I alone could not care for my mother. She was a difficult woman at best. She beat me as a child. Her alcoholism wrecked havoc on my family’s life, and she was fading away.

I was blessed to find very loving, tolerant and patient women to help me care for my mother.

Caregivers are Angels Walking this Earth. Our Angel was Catherine Finley.

My mother tried every trick in the book on Catherine. She locked her out and left out the back door to head to a liquor store. She would fill her grocery cart to the brim only to  have ‘forgotten’ her checkbook at home, leaving Catherine to explain to the cashier my mothers situation. My mother would stand there laughing at Catherine the entire time. My mother would hide from Catherine in shops. She would stop Catherine from eating her lunch, accuse her of stealing, call her names. Catherine called me daily with updates. She would tell me about my mother’s hijinks with a sense of humor. She never took the mean things my mother said to her to heart. She never called my mother names. She was always early and took time to assess what needed to be done around the house too. I would use her list to make short work of caring for my mother on my shifts. Catherine gave Mommy her dignity. Catherine was our Angel on Earth.

The time away from Mommy was very good for me and in turn, for my family. It took me weeks to wean myself off of seeing Mommy daily, of calling. I had to Let Go. I had to Let Go and Let Catherine.

I found this article about caregivers using poetry to help reach people suffering with dementia of all kinds.

As I wend my way back to the Hard Truth, today I am grateful for the woman who began to help me Let Go.

Catherine.

A caretaker. An unsung hero.

On Mommy’s death-bed I read to her. I read to her from her favorite poetry book.

I held her hand and lay next to her as her body shut down.

Poetry at the end and now a way to use Poetry in the middle.

To Catherine  and to all caretakers who are helping others Let Go

while giving someone dignity and keeping them safe.

 

Peace,

Jen

 

My thanks to agingcare.com for the article

Eternal Gratitude to Jewish Family Services of Denver Senior Solutions

for connecting me with our angel,

Catherine.

To Catherine, a Woman Angel walking this Earth with Love and Grace.

 

************

How Poetry Can Help People with Dementia

AgingCare.com
April 23, 2013

safe_image.php
For 20 minutes, silence blankets the room, punctuated only by the soft breathing of two women who are seated, facing one another.

The eldest of the two struggles to speak—she has dementia and talking has recently become difficult for her.
A single word, “life,” finally ekes its way out of her mouth.

The other woman, a poet named Susanna Howard, makes a notation in her notebook. Once she’s finished, she takes her eyes off the page and resumes waiting.

Sometime later, thanks to Howard’s ministrations, the elderly woman’s remarks have, almost magically, become woven into a new pattern, at once familiar and unique:

Lived a Life
Nobody here asks what you did
In your life
It seems they seem to think
We were put on earth with broken legs
And have come here for sympathy

Nobody wants to listen
I’ve had a stroke
Words don’t come out
And they say ‘Yes, yes’—
Don’t really want to know

It sounds silly
But it’s quite true
We have all lived a life

Giving a voice to those silenced by dementia

Howard, whose motto is “All words are okay,” is the creative force behind “Living Words,” an innovative form of art therapy aimed at giving people with dementia a new voice.

Too often, says Howard, people with cognitive impairment are written off by society.

Even close friends and family can become unsure of how to communicate with loved ones who have lost their ability to form coherent thoughts and sentences. Most hesitate to speak to dementia-stricken people for fear that they will upset them by asking a question that can’t be answered, or say something that unintentionally offends them.

Of course, not speaking only serves to further alienate the individual living with cognitive impairment. “I find it very sad when people say the essence of a person goes when they have dementia,” says Howard. “The person you loved is still there, operating from their essential self.”

Continue reading to read additional poems written by people living with dementia…

Related
Coconut Oil for Alzheimer’s: Miracle Cure or Misguided Myth?
7 Tips for Talking to Aging Parents
How Service Dogs Can Help People With Alzheimer’s Disease

Finding the Poetry in Dementia originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

We all just want to be heard

Different dementias can affect different people in different ways.

For example, the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease are often marked by progressive memory loss, while individuals suffering from Lewy-body dementia often experience vivid hallucinations and delusions.

It’s no wonder that most outsiders become easily baffled and thus hesitant to engage a cognitively impaired friend or family member.

But avoiding interactions only isolates that individual further, making him feel unheard and almost in-human.
That’s what makes the poetry sessions are so helpful.

According to Howard, going through the process of writing a poem, and then hearing the finished verse spoken back to them, can help people with dementia feel connected. “When a person hears their words, they resonate with them; even if they don’t recall saying them. This resonation prompts a feeling of being heard on some level,” she says.

Number 65
The chair—it’s so dirty feeling
I’m not in running order
Where do you go to when you
Go out?
I keep out of walking mode
With the mainframe
In the convoy—don’t go around much
I wish
Wish I could drive in a big car
Drive away in a car, oh
Oh I, I wish, wish I could
Fly just fly right away
To number 65—Not
Drifting along at nothing

Changing the way we communicate

In honor of National Poetry Month, we wanted to take the time to highlight the incredible power of poetry to connect human beings through each life stage.

For her part, Howard hopes that her work will help alleviate some of the apprehension that accompanies communication between those trapped in the alternate reality of dementia and those operating in the outside world.

It’s difficult for Howard to pinpoint the most poignant lesson she’s learned while working with men and women living with dementia, “It can’t really be summed up—I am constantly surprised at how powerful the work can be,” she says.

She does admit that one of the most refreshing aspects of working with these men and women is the fact that many of the filters imposed by society and propriety are stripped away, leaving refreshingly raw and honest observations. “People with dementia use language that more directly links to their emotions. They tend to say how they’re really feeling.”

In addition to her work with the dementia-stricken, Howard also holds seminars and workshops to help people working in elder care facilities comprehend how people with dementia express their thoughts and feelings.

Her hope is that Living Words therapy paradigm (which has been rapidly spreading throughout the UK) will grow into a model that’s used around the world. Howard is currently working on publishing a book of poems written by people with dementia.

Lost
I don’t know really, because
I’m really
Lost.

It scares me to hell
I don’t know what to do—
I’m scared

It was so disgusting—I just sat there, doing
Nothing
I thought I was
In an asylum I was
Ashamed that I
Sit there

These people were people who, well they are
Old age pensioners. They made me an
Old
Age
Pensioner. I was
Really annoyed—terrible isn’t it
There’s nothing wrong with me—
I just don’t do
Anything.

I feel
Lost—that’s all I can say, because
I’ve never felt
Lost—this is
Just hell
So you now have the whole thing.
I can’t say it myself.
The saddest thing.

 

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/3-incredibly-profound-poems-written-by-people-with-dementia.html#ixzz2xtK7pogr

The Hard Truth and Those that Tell It

•April 2, 2014 • 2 Comments

images-10

I love Poetry.

I love Poetry Month.

I also have a story to tell and this blog has been

both

canvas

and therapy.

I stopped.

I stopped telling the story of my mother’s life

and her death

and her alcoholism.

I stopped because it hurt.

I stopped because telling the truth

sharing the reality of care taking a dying alcoholic,

of being the daughter of a life long alcoholic,

well…  the truth is hard.

I intend to share Poetry again this April.

I hope to use Poetry as a door way back.

I won’t be posting my favorite Poetry this April.

I will be posting The Hard Truth Poetry this April.

I will wend my way back.

Forgiveness.

Gratitude.

Grace.

I have those things.

I am left with the Truth.

The Hard Truth.

Alcoholism Kills. Period.

Today I found a young Poet wending his way back.

Luk O’Connor Slamming in Saint Paul, MN last month.

Slamming Hard for a friend raped.

Slamming Hard for every Woman raped,

Slamming Hard for his own way Back to Wholeness.

Poetry Heals.

Poetry can tell the Hard Truth with Beauty and Grace.

My hat off to this young and gifted Poet.

To the Hard Truth and those who Tell It.

Word.

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Button Poetry * Thank You

 

 

Welcome National Poetry Month 2014!

•April 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

photo-54

 Words have Power. They ease our pain, our grief and our sense of loss and loneliness.

Words have Power. They give us courage, and strength and a new way to reach out into our lives.

Words have Power.

Poetry has Power.

photo-55

Welcome to National Poetry Month.

Every April I  honor the Poets who mean so much to me.

Every April I make more room in my day, in my life,

for Words.

photo-56

Thank you to Sierra DeMulder and Button Poetry

for beginning National Poetry Month with this:

Today Means Amen

Sierra DeMulder

 

 

 

 

“…This moment is your lover and you are a soldier. Come home Baby. Its over. You don’t need to suffer anymore.This moment is an Hallelujua!…”

 I made it.

Sierra knows it.

You made it.

This poet knows it.

You made it.

You know it.

photo-58

Please take the time to learn more about National Poetry Month using the links below!

I hope that April will bring you as much joy as it brings me….

Thank you.

Peace,

Jen

What is National Poetry Month?

Poem In Your Pocket Day * April 24th 2014!

30 Ways to celebrate!

About Sierra DeMulder * Poet

About Button Poetry!

This Wild Ass One Thing

•March 4, 2014 • 4 Comments

I choose not to believe in coincidence.
I see All of It as part of some
Wild
Ass

One.
Thing.

I don’t know what that
Wild
Ass
One
Thing is.

I do know it is there.

Today in line at the grocery store the man behind me was joyous.
I can not think of any other way to describe this man.

I noticed a large crucifix around his neck
A tattered sweater underneath.

His smile was luminous.

I asked,

“Are you ready for tomorrow?”

He beamed.

“Oh. Yes. I am. And you?”

“Yes,” I said. “Tomorrow begins it all.”

“It is remarkable is it not?” He said.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday,
The first day of the Lenten Season.

“What is your name?” I asked

“Umberto Pablo Acciento, but you can call me Bert.”

We talked as we waited in line. We talked of Faith and the power of Redemption and of Love.

I told him about my Son who told me on the way to school today that he is looking forward to Lent. My sometimes Atheist, most times Agnostic, and occasionally Catholic, son is beginning to see the power held in our Lenten season.

As I was checking out, Bert handed me a package.

“I want you to have this. I have a larger one for your son, the seeker.”

I could not open it there, the line was long. Bert wrote his name on the envelope and listed his parish. As we said goodbye we hugged one another.

It seemed we were in the Mass;

“Peace be with you, and also with you…”

It seemed that we were in the presence of this other
Wild
Ass
Thing

That is one.

We were.

I opened the package in the car.

It is a simple and touching crucifix, at the center:
The Saint Benedict Medal.

With it a brochure with the history of the medal and of Saint Benedict

At the top of the medal in Latin it says

Pax.

Peace.

I choose not to believe in coincidence.
I choose to see
Connection
Love

One. Wild. Ass. Thing.

Bert put his name on the envelope
And the parish he is with

Today in the grocery store
In the middle of the day
I was given a gift by a priest
Also standing in line

Luminous.

Pax.

We need this now.
This Lenten Season I will focus on
Peace
Peace in our World
Peace in my life
Moment to moment
And peace for all of us entangled in this
Wild
Ass
One
Thing.

I am grateful for all of it.
Sometimes I forget.

The Lenten Season is full of Connection.
The Lenten Season is full of Love.

The Lenten Season is Full.

Peace to all of you

Jen

May this season bring you clarity, hope, definition
Whatever it is you need to move closer to this One Thing we share…

May this season bring us all closer to Peace.

Peace

20140304-233832.jpg

The Monkey Always Wins

•March 2, 2014 • 6 Comments

Hands in dance for Shiva with give and take mudra

Word came hard today.

A friend was found dead.
A murder investigation is underway.

She was of some other world:
wild, free and without filters.

She was a good woman

With a monkey, or a dozen, on her back.

I can hear her raucous laughter now
Her begging me to leave one night and head into town to

Dance
The
Night
Away.

I regret staying on the farm that night.

The monkey on her back,
I hear him too….

I met a little girl decades ago on a hike on the land.
She was quiet. Too quiet, her head down
walking
Ever
So
Carefully
Along the red dirt trail.

A little girl, so careful, too quiet

Walking
With
Safety
In
Mind.

“How do you like living in India.”
I asked carefully as we walked side by side along the trail
Stepping carefully over rocks.

“I am alone.”
Was her answer.

“I am alone all the time. I want to come home.”

She did.

Come home.

She was the daughter of my friend of the other world
Wild
Free

Monkeys on her back…

I can hear the raucous laughter
But what lingers are the quiet words of a little girl
Walking
Ever
So
Carefully

“I am alone.”

She was maybe 5 at the time.

She was moved back home and grew up
Not with her mother
Wild
Free

But with family friends
And a backpack
And a bus to catch
And homework to be done
Before dinner and
Bed.

A friend is gone, her life taken violently
Circumstances still pending.

No. Not really.
We all know here in these pages that

The Monkey always wins
And it is never pretty.

Details can wait
The truth is walking with me:

Raucous Wild Laughter
And
A quiet child
Alone,

But not for long.

Growing up with alcoholics prepares you.
Watching alcoholics and addicts die prepares you.

Alcoholism Kills.
Addiction Kills.

A quiet child alone
Walking
Carefully…..

She makes her way,

Home.

I am grateful to my Wild Odd community
I will miss my friends laughter
I will await her daughters return

Home.

Family.
We build it ourselves
Flesh and blood?
Yes.
And the kindness of those with Love
And a lunchbox and a place to Be.

A place to
Be
Safe.

We must all be aware of those of us
Carrying monkeys and Wild Laughter

Is there a child walking
Carefully
Quietly
Behind?

Help who you can.
Don’t mourn the choice.

Peace,
Peace,

Rest in Peace My Friend,

Your daughter is Loved,

And so are you.

Jen

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 250 other followers