I Walk For Change Because Black Lives Matter

My personal protest in the wake of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many to list

A few weeks ago, I walked 2.23 miles.

I did so without fanfare to honor the memory of a young, black man named Ahmaud Arbery. He went jogging one evening in his neighborhood in Georgia, much like the quiet, sleepy neighborhood I walk in every evening with my partner walking next to me. He and I hold hands. As we walk, we may talk about our days or maybe not at all, but just listen to our footsteps hit the pavement below our feet.

We do not fear walking in our neighborhood will cause suspicion or alert our neighbors to caution. These notions never enter our minds. Ahmaud Arbery was not afforded the same tolerance.

Instead, he was gunned down by three white men who felt he was “suspicious” yet all he was guilty of was jogging.

Pride Month: Is It a Commercial or a Celebration?

A look at the pros and cons of corporate sponsorship

Reading the news online, I flipped by a story relaying the candy icon Skittles is removing the color from their candies in support of Pride month. They are going grey to celebrate the LGBTQIA community by giving up their rainbow colors to show that only one rainbow really matters. #OneRainbow.

This got me thinking.

Last year, I attended my first Pride parade in the five years since my son, then my daughter came out. I attended as an ally and as a mom. It truly was the largest street party ever! Everywhere I looked there were rainbows and flags and rainbow flags. Banners stretched across every building with slogans of inclusion from various corporations.

Yes, corporate America celebrated and marched in every Pride parade across the nation, some even internationally.

What began as a police raid at The Stonewall Inn located in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1969, has become the turning point of the gay liberation movement now is a month-long, shout-out to equality with businesses getting on the band-wagon. Jet Blue flies their slogan, “Love wings” while Starbucks partners with Lady Gaga’s foundation “Born this way”.

Is this rainbow washing?

A Good Book Lasts A Lifetime

My coping mechanism and self-care habit in the time of Covid-19

Like so many of us, my love of books began in my youth. Books transported me to other worlds and other times filling my young mind and imagination with the beauty of the written word. As an adult, I read for knowledge, enjoyment, and my own self-care.

During this time of Covid-19 and stay-at-home orders, opening a well-loved novel can be like visiting that old friend who you have not seen in years but has the uncanny knack of picking up right where you left off last. A very comforting feeling.

Comfort and safety seem to be two essential qualities in a time when our nervous systems are overloaded with fraught, doomsday news and our everyday world is turned upside down. When my anxiety level begins to climb, I find it helpful to switch off the screen and bury my nose in a book instead. Ever since I was a young girl my coping mechanism has been to escape into the world of words.

When We Go Back To Work

One massage therapist’s look into an uncertain future after Covid-19.

At twenty-four years old, I excitedly hold my new massage license in my hands. It just came in the mail. I am shaking as I open the envelope and pull out the light blue, rectangular piece of paper. Slowly, I trace my name printed on it with my finger as if touching it makes it solidify faster as my new reality.

Sitting there, looking at my license, I am also looking out into my future and all the possibilities it holds. Just as if I am sitting on the edge of a ridge, looking out and surveying a vast and beautiful valley. I am on a path. I can go anywhere and do anything. I see, taste, and feel my future before me, designed by this new career.

The year is 1992.

Isolation For The Common Good

Finding hope from both Eastern and Western principles

On March 27th, there was a photo of Pope Francis praying inside St.Peters square published in the New York Times. He was alone. His white vestments contrasted the dark, rain-splattered cobblestones which sat silently in front of him, where usually the faithful congregated to hear his words. Not this day. He stood alone in the vastness of the Vatican, praying for an end to the pandemic.

Perhaps it was my Catholic upbringing, but during this time of Lent, I could not help but see the similarity of Pope Francis, standing alone in the emptiness of the square and the parable of Christ praying alone in the desert.

I am not particularly religious yet I truly admire Pope Francis as a humanitarian. If pictures really speak a thousand words the first one that comes to mind with this one is Isolated. (Loneliness)

During his prayer, he said,

” For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets, and our cities. It has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void.”

Of course, he speaks of the Covid-19 virus. The deafening silence may be a direct result of our own isolation. The quiet, vacant streets. Is this our own forty days in the desert?

Being A Massage Therapist in the Time of Covid-19

When a common story became all too real.

My story is not unusual right now. Yet, in my telling it I hope to lend my voice to the conversation and perhaps it will have a small amount of power to evoke change. With over 12,000 massage therapists in my state, we are left to grapple with the question, “Do I stay, or do I go?”

At the beginning of February, I celebrated my birthday with my family and as I always do, I reflected on the year past as well as the one to come. I was full of hope, feeling grounded and comfortable in my own skin. I never would have conceived what the next few weeks would bring to our world or the impact on my profession as a massage therapist.

Stories were beginning to reach the news of the widespread Covid19 outbreak in China and in late January there had been one reported case in my home state of Washington. But that was an isolated case, right? Where someone had traveled back from China? How very little we understood the far-reaching impact this virus would have on each, and every one of our lives.

By late February, as cases grew, it became common to go to a doctor’s appointment, the dentist, or chiropractor and be “screened” with a handful of questions.

“ Have you experienced a fever or a cough recently? Have you been around anyone with a fever or a cough? Have you traveled overseas in the past 14 days?

How Will 2020 Be Your Year of Clear Vision?

Small steps can bring us closer to the life of our dreams.

This past week I boxed up my holiday decorations, placing them back in the garage for another year. With the bustle of the holiday over and the house tidied up, I take some time to reflect. I can’t help reminiscing on the year coming to a close.

What have I learned this past year? What has changed? How have I grown as a person?

This year also ends a decade, lending my thoughts to span across the last ten years. Much has happened, for me on a personal level as well as for our world. For me, there was a divorce, my son coming out as transgender and going off to college, moving twice with my daughter, discovering myself, empty nesting, and finally falling in love again.

For the world, we were coming out of a global financial crisis, Obama was still President, the internet grew with technologies such as “cloud computing” and social media boomed. We saw the“Me Too” movement and Women’s March have a voice that ultimately shaped a culture. Another Presidential election happened and more scandal.

A Wee Bit of Ireland in Bellingham

Ever desired to learn how to play a penny whistle? Do you enjoy tapping your toes to a reel and a jig? Or maybe diving into the lore of Ireland through storytelling suits your fancy? All of these, plus more, can be found each October at a unique festival in Bellingham, Washington, celebrating traditional Irish culture through its music, dance, language and overall appreciation of the arts.

Bellingham Irish Festival photo by Michael Lusk.
Bellingham Irish Festival photo by Michael Lusk

For three days in early October, the downtown corridor of Bellingham, WA bursts at its seams with everything Irish, but this is not St Patrick’s Day, it’s the annual Bellingham Irish Festival.

Adventures at the Wooden Boat Festival

We had been anticipating this day for weeks! On this Sunday, the second weekend in September, we found ourselves on our way to the 43rd annual Wooden Boat Festival, held in Port Townsend, WA. This event is sponsored by the NW Maritime Center and as avid sailing enthusiasts, we joined the other lovers of the sea for a day celebrating water and wood and sailing.

Rowboats at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. Photo by Richard Schmitz
Rowboats at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. Photo by Richard Schmitz

The festival features more than 250 wooden vessels many of which are handcrafted as well as indoor and outdoor presentations, demonstrations, and of course other mavens of the water, like us. There are small boat makers on one side of the center grounds, boat building contests on the other. There is music, food and craft vendors contributing to the cultural bounty of the day and always the smell of the sea on the breeze. Everything from building your own kayak to building a sailboat can be found at this little festival, come rain or shine, so bring your wellies and a raincoat and maybe pack some sunscreen for that intermittent showing of the sun between clouds.