Are We Evil or Just Mentally Ill

The photograph shows Hitler embracing Rosa Bernile Nienau, then about five or six, and is embellished with flowers which were placed by the young girl, Alexander Historical Auctions said.

Hitler and a Jewish Girl.

I’m going on a rant so hang in there or click out. I’m having this existential crisis as in, ‘why do I love bad people?’ Why do I see the light and soul in them even when they have told me to my face that they are not good for me. Why do I ignore red flags. Why do I keep best friends who belittle and abuse me. Why do I stay when I hurt and my life is so painful I want off world. Am I wrong to love “bad” people or am I loving the human beyond their obvious and sometimes painful trauma responses to life.

I don’t believe in the Devil but I do believe in mental illness. If there is evil on this planet it stems from the human consciousness or lack of consciousness we see daily in the news and in our society. The Devil didn’t make the Nazi, poverty, anger, despair, racism, and a need for revenge over the loss of world war one created the Nazi. The Devil didn’t create Jeffery Dahmer. Untreated childhood trauma created Jeffery Dahmer. Think of all the evil you have ever experienced, trace it back to its source and you will usually find a deeply painful traumatic origin story that leads to mass or individual mental illness. 

So, all those people in prison can’t be mentally ill right? Some of them are just evil right? Nope. They’re damaged, broken, traumatized and crammed into a system that will only injure them further. The rate of recidivism among inmates is so high because they generally come out of prison more damaged and mentally unstable than they were when they went in. The only evil under the sun is the human need to have power over another person, to create cast systems that makes one person lower then them, to hurt innocence, and destroy freedom because of an ingrained belief that if you are lower then me then I’m not at the bottom, you are. The only evil is us.

I grew up poor. My dad would walk through the house and laugh as he said, “We is Po Fuckers!” Yep! he was a racist immigrant who knew he didn’t have a pot to piss in and never would. He hated everyone who wasn’t white because that meant that his light skin made him better then the people he made fun of, the people I called friends and he called N*****s. When I told him my DNA proved we were gypsy and mostly North African and Middle Eastern he went silent. Who was beneath him now? His white brotherhood wasn’t his brotherhood anymore. He’s a Gypsy like me and the fear of being other must have hit him hard. 

Fear makes monsters of us. Fear yells in our head that if we don’t ace the next test or get into the good school we’ll be like them, the poor trash, the prison bound, the under dogs that don’t fight their way to the top but just get run over. I was born poor trash living in domestic violence and even when I thought I had fought my way out I realized I hadn’t. My thoughts about myself screamed in my father’s voice,” You is a Po Fucker and you won’t be nothing.” I was baptized in poverty consciousness, a mental illness that constantly reminds you that your next meal is not guaranteed, and your roof is only your roof as long as you can afford to pay the MAN to keep it. 

So how do we heal America? How do we end the mad dog savagery that is us. And please don’t think that just because you drive a Benz, live in the perfect community, and attend church regularly you aren’t just as big a lunatic as the rest of us. So again, how do we conquer fear and really turn this sinking ship toward shore? Well I’m just crazy enough to tell you. 

  1. There is no evil, there’s just you. 
  2. Fear is driving the crazy bus so if you want to get off you have to find faith in your own instinctual goodness. A person who does not fear can not be controlled. 
  3. You have to start loving yourself. A person who loves themselves can not stand on anyone else’s neck to get a better view because a person with a direct connection to self love honers and loves the Devine in everyone they meet.

Love yourself. You were divinely made. Turn off the news. Step out of the matrix. Fear nothing but your own need to control. Mental illness doesn’t have to be our final destination. We weren’t born to struggle.

Just How Afraid Are You America?

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I just finished Dr. David Roger Clawson’s article, Are You Searching for Your Authentic Self. It’s a must read so click the link. As a hippy dippy kind of person, I have been on a life long search for my authentic self. I have always looked forward to that moment when I discover me and feel whole and at peace. Dr. Clawson has just blown that little daydream all to shit. He posits brilliantly that the self shifts continually based on the level of threat or safety you as a person are feeling in a given moment. You under threat can become a raging insecure misogynistic bigot with little or no emotional equilibrium. That’s right. Under a heavy level of threat or for us laymen let’s say fear, we can become our own worst nightmares, meaning we’re just a white sheet and a pointy hat away from totally hate chaos.

On the other hand, our ideal selves, the aspirational us that we dream to be, the happy, joyful, creative, loving, fertile, healthy and connected selves are only found when our person is in a state of safety, security, and are seen and valued by valued others. This is our dream person but we are so far from being this person because we live in a society that values what Dr. Clawson calls a threat load or for us, fear load. We don’t share, we compete, our social networks pray on our weaknesses and our politics have moved from working for our highest good as a nation to bullying and backstabbing while our nations political and civil defense swings in the balance. The fearmongers are in charge and we are paying the physical and psychological price.

The fall out, Dr. Clawson says, is that our threat load is so high that if you’re not mentally ill already you probably can look forward to being so. The pills are awesome, take it from me, the depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, not so cool. The other fun fact about a high threat load is that you will probably die of a major stress induced disease such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc. When you live under a high threat/fear load you do not go into rest and digest, you are not calm, you do not heal, inflammation becomes your constant companion and cancer is just waiting around the corner.

So why am I talking about this totally depressing article. Because it has an obvious and manageable solution. Choose safety, choose inner peace, share, avoid stress, sleep, make love, kiss your partner, wave at your neighbor, practice nervous system regulation, turn off your TV and exit the matrix. There is no law that says you must participate in the high threat paradigm. I love the way Dr. Clawson ends his beautiful and stirring article by saying, “Let’s move towards safety in everything we do. No person on the planet can truly be safe until all are safe.” Doesn’t that just scream unity consciousness and universal love. So, you have your marching orders thanks to Dr. Clawson. Let’s go forth and choose peace, love and safety, a happy sympathetic nervous system and a lighter load.

You are your own master. Chose love every time. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be the light you wish to see in the world. Be peace so you can know peace.

This is your life

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Welcome to your life. It’s filled with color and vibrancy when you slow down enough to see it. Listen to the meow of the cat, the bark of the dog, the buzz of that obnoxious fly that wont stop circling around the room. Take your partner’s hand every chance you get, bake that special tart grandma used to make, taste the soup when it’s still too hot, bake homemade bread from scratch, share butter and salt kisses that lead to, well…you know. This is your life.

Dance in the kitchen to a dumb song you just made up, own at least one Hawaiian print shirt. Hint…everything Hawaii is good for the soul. Eat cookies in bed, always let the pets sleep with you. Dance with your children from the time they can walk. When they are half a century old, they will still remember what it was like to stand on daddy’s feet and sway to the music. Don’t worry if your house is dirty or if your car is a mess, go to the zoo anyways. Elephants are so much more magical than vacuums. This is your life.

Don’t over schedule your children. Give them time to play and run around the neighborhood and scratch up their knees and crash their bikes and climb trees. Remember, this is their life. Play sad music you can cry too and remember what it feels like to love and lose. Play happy music that is goofy, the kind your teenager rolls their eyes at but smiles at too. This is your life.

Hold your loved ones close. Cry happy tears for the simple fact that they were born and came to live in your life. What a freaking miracle it is that they found you and that they love you. This is your life and it is beautiful.

Happy Saturday beloveds. Now go out and play.

Self-regulation and the baby steps to joy

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Why do we hurt? Why is trauma so emblazoned in our memory that to touch it with thought is to relive it, moment by torturous moment, until we sink under the weight of the memory. The loss of a grandparent, the loss of a friend, a miscarriage, a rape, a breakup with the person you thought was the one. Why do we hurt until we break, even years after the moment of pain has passed? Whoever said time heals all wounds was never traumatized, and never felt a loss so acute that sixty years later just a fragment of the memory is a punch to the gut.

Two people can witness the same traumatic event, a car crashes into a pole at high speed. The first viewer is troubled, talks to the police, talks to his family and friends and lets the incident slip into his past. The second viewer is traumatized, cries when he talks to the police, can not discuss the incident with his family or friends, avoids the place where the accident occurred and is shaken every time he sees a car similar in color and type to the one in the accident.

Why did both people come to such different places in terms of how they reacted to the incident? First is the preconditioning of the nervous system. The first viewer has self-regulation, few past traumas and a set sense of self and the world around him. The second viewer has a dysregulated nervous system, lives in high alert, and has a poor sense of self and the world around him. He has been traumatized before, and the world is a scary and uncertain place for him.

What makes the memory so physically painful for viewer two is the amount of emotion he was flooded with when the incident occurred. His preprogrammed heightened arousal to danger, his low self-regulation, and high sense of uncertainty etched the car crash into his memory in horrifying detail. It is the amount of emotion experienced by the perceiver that decides whether an incident is traumatic or just simply troubling.

Self-regulation is key to managing trauma and stopping new trauma from forming. We self-regulate by talking to a qualified trauma specialist, doing deep breathing work to regulate the nervous system, going regularly to yoga or tai chi classes, managing stress, practicing prayer and meditation, and above all by surrounding ourselves with people and environments that help us feel calm and supported. Calming and regulating the nervous system is key to self-regulation and regulating the emotional brain.

So, turn off the news, cut out toxic people that leave you feeling weakened and drained, do not watch movies that are fear based, and lastly have faith in the creator who made you. Dr. Brene’ Brown says, we dress rehearse tragedy to beat vulnerability to the punch, meaning we live in a constant state of expecting our next trauma because it is too terrifying to believe that joy just might be our next great experience. To experience joy, we must first be vulnerable and willing to be open to change. I ask you to lean into your Creator, lean into healthy love, lean into gratitude, lean into your healing work, and prepare yourself for joy; After all, joy was once your natural state of being.

Keep going-You got this-I love you

Introducing a New Voice, my friend Pearl Grace.

Waters of Life


Flow through life like water
Continually moving
Never conforming to a certain shape other than your own
Glisten with the sun
Stir with storms
Drink the rain
Fluidly, glide through rapids
Shoot down the waterfall
Rest in the stillness
And keep flowing
-Pearl Grace

It is an interesting type of funny when you realize that you’re really not alone in experiencing life.  Life keeps life-ing all over all of us.  It is easy to become blinded to the truth.  The truth that everyone has a journey and every journey has mountains and valleys.  We have a lot more in common with each other than we know.  

Each and every person is a phenomenon.  

Beautiful, vibrant souls with hearts that beat, emitting infinite shades in a full spectrum of color.

Day to day.  Moment to moment.  It shifts.  A fluid kaleidoscope of feelings, emotions and thoughts.  Our own internal river.  The very essence of our being. 

Life has its mountains and valleys.  Twists, turns and rapids of turmoil.  Waterfalls where we fly off the edge, free fall down and get sucked under into the eddy below.

This eddy is the place we get stuck.  The weight of the falls continually flow forcefully, downward; holding our heads underwater.  Spinning in the current, around and around; like laundry in a washing machine on rough cycle.  It’s so fast and strong, it feels like we’ll never get out.  Once in a while it eases up and we attempt to escape, but can’t kick our legs fast enough before the tentacles whip out. Snatching us back in.

One of the worst ways to die, in my opinion, would be to drown.  Based on my observation, others would agree.  I see you.

You are the ones who keep fighting and holding your breath to survive.  Realize, if and when you feel weak, lesser, down or angry with yourself, that the opposite of what you are feeling at that moment is true.  You are some of the strongest, most courageous people walking the earth–phenomenons. 

I was asked a question, recently, “if I could write my whole story in its entirety, what is the one, singular, most burning question I would want answered?”

I’d want to know how I haven’t died 9,000 times already!

Think about yourself.  See yourself, what you’ve endured and give yourself some damn credit!

Even though, the water is still a bit murky from all the mud that was spun up, you eventually make it out.  Totally exhausted, floating on your back to the bank where the water becomes clear and still.

When you reach that place and stand up to walk out, something beautiful will catch your eye.

When you see it, you will know.

Take time to gaze in amazement, because what you’ll be looking at will be peering back into your eyes.

This is your most precious rescue…

It’s the reflection of the authentic you.  Being free to simply be. Exactly as you are.  

I believe that this is the journey we all have in common as we live, lose ourselves and eventually come to find ourselves.

I believe that this is the journey we all have in common as we live, lose ourselves and eventually come to find ourselves.

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Home

Feet on bricks that don’t give, hand on door that won’t open without resistance. No peace, no love, no freedom, just him, them, their schedule, their wants, and needs. “Don’t contact me, I have boundaries. You don’t have boundaries.” So silence between mother and son stands as dividing sentry that says do not cross this line again. They were friends once, mother and son, but no more. Single mother with a paycheck son called mom so the two became one as often happens when there is no relief from one another. Boundaries are a new thing to the boundary-less, the used and owned mother so used to selfless serving that she didn’t know that she could state a need and have it heard.

In the beginning, she had said, “no marriage, no children, no houses, no home, I want the world.” And the man, the boy’s father had said, “marriage, children, homes, the world is mine, and you will serve me as I climb vast glittering corporate towers, and fly in jets to all the places you have spoken of seeing, but I’ll go without you.” So the mother waited, grew to grieving for her life, for her future, for the love she sought but did not find, and the child grew and learned to hate her.

The husband grew as well, he grew old, he found no joy in wife or child so he grew busy, sedentary, gray in hair and skin until he was old, old, before 50. The wife watched, trapped in the poverty of marriage where the man holds the cash and pinches the budget and ignores the wife who still serves the boy who always needs but now hates and she is, is what, a ghost in the wake of her youth standing in a kitchen with no one to cook for, mocked for her table cloths too rich, too fine, for saying silverware when she’s meant to say flatware, derided because once she had wished for so much more.

She’d been in college before the man came. But now her hair is gray, her mind slowed by the endless repetition of mother goose, Dr. Seuss, all those cats in their hats, all those endless rhymes, rhyming nothings, so good for the boy, so bad for her who’s mind had wished to wander, but now just wanders, lost over shopping lists, birthday gifts, and the other sundry of simple nothings that weaken the brain and kill the soul. If she got in the car, where would she go? If she made camp under a bridge who would miss her? A cloud breaks and for one brief moment the shy Seattle sun peaks through filling her eyes with light that teases but will not last.

Just Us

Duncan

How little a thing we are when we first begin to be a thing at all. Little breaths, babies’ breaths and babies’ tears, babies’ coos, the little things that define the undefined, the unmolded yet unique being called us. Oh delicious, soft fat arms, milk sent in the fold of chubby necks, the sweet pink of soft cherry cheeks. The us in us is fragrant with possibilities folded into jumpers and onesies and serenaded by a cacophony of vowels and consonants into a guttural noise that means us: Mary, George, Jane, Robert. We hear the sound that means us and we smile or scowl in rotation depending if we want to be wanted or are vexed to be disturbed. Silly brilliant things are names we wear like crowns defining ourselves by them as they define us to the world. Mary Ellington George St. Mari, would be as sweet if she were Jane, just Jane.

As baby bloom lengthens to childhood’s bumpy first steps the toddler emerges with creased brow and declares NO! NO I shan’t! No, I couldn’t possibly! No to everything you say. Simply NO! And little arms are crossed and little heads are shaken in resolute defiance, the simple NO sufficient in its rebellion. I am me, we all cry out. I shan’t, I won’t, I flatly refuse. The beauty of saying No, of being naughty, the tasty succulent delight of owning oneself fully and wholly in the now. NO! We cry, NO! But soft months that creep on cajoling or disciplinarian feet teach us to be pliable, polite, reasonable, inoffensive and sociable. So, we blend, we merge, we become one with society until our sacred self, our defining NO becomes a thing we no longer hold in our hand but have given, somehow, away to the masses.

And how we love the masses. We want them to love us back as we run to catch the ball, hoping it was thrown to us, wanting to hear our melodious syllables called out, here to me Jane. Let’s play Charlie. You are my best friend Mary. We run to the others, are polite and pliable, becoming not so much an us as a we. The we is a many legged creature which stumbles and tumbles through girlhood and boyhood raising one we up, as it throws one we down, decrying that this we was rude, and that we was wonderful, and don’t we all agree that the brown eyed we is awfully good looking in his new jacket? And we clutch to our we’s as they roll us about, spitting us out, taking us up, including, excluding, laughing, and rebuking, until the entire thing is smashed by the something called two.

And so goes us, so goes we, now there is you, and now there is me. A touch of the hand, a catch of the eye, I brush back your hair, your hand touches my thigh. We are sighs on summer breezes, kisses on grassy lawns, hands held between classes, stolen kisses on shadowed porches, a hand slipped up under a shirt. And the yearning grows and grows until we are no longer children but grown grasping things alive and alight with living. We say hello, we say goodbye, hearts break, tears dry, we part, we come together, we lose sight only to find one another once again in a different city, in a different time when laughter lines our eyes.

And if we are smart, we have found our NO! Stomped our foot, said hell yes to all the right things and hell no to all the wrong. We’ve held our own children and set them firmly on their feet. Only to linger now in this kind light of long ago loves and look, just look into each other’s eyes. I who was me, you who were you. And we hold our coffee cups in our knotted hands and remember how brilliant it is to be…just us.

The Caretakers

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The Killien Mansion during the Lauzon family ownership, circa 1935.

“The council agreed to send a letter of condolence to Mr. F. Killien, though no one knows what he was to be consoled for. Someone in his family must have died,” Gail of the historic society said, reading from the Lowell city council meeting dating from the 1930’s. “They don’t send out letters like that unless there was a death.” That would make a third, I thought, looking around the old home which had been built by Mr. F. Killien for his family in 1924. I hadn’t anticipated a death in his family.

I knew the Smiths (the home’s third owners) had lost a daughter, the Bevers (the fourth owners) had lost a grandmother but now a Killien had died, quiet probably in my old home. I felt the secret twisting under my rib cage as I said goodbye to Gail, the crowned queen of Lowell, the local town historian who has dedicated her life to preserving the memory of the old logging town and its people, three of which had been mourned in the very rooms I now occupy. Funny old house. I pat it like a friendly dog I hope won’t turn and bite. I haven’t told my son about the grandmother who died in the sun room or the young miss who died in the southwest bedroom and I won’t tell him about this unknown Killien either, this condolence that has yet to have a face or a name.

When we first bought the house, it was a tear-down. The roof was caving in, ferns grew from rotten soffits, and the gutters hung from falling fascia boards, no longer catching or moving water. Water is a constant in Western Washington, the rains fall for months without stopping. It undermines foundations, peels away paint, rots wood, and erodes mortar from brick. But the house was beautiful, it was stately. Even in its disrepair it was instantly our home. Set over three lots on a shy half acre it was priced at only a little over its land’s value. We’d have been fools not to buy it, fools not to invest in a growing urban area, fools not to restore the massive home known as the Killien Mansion. But the deaths hung on the home like a cold blanket that would never feel warmth. The home was unhappy and it need to be cleansed.

I lit a candle for the grandmother and a second for the young Miss. I stirred charcoal into the wax and left them to burn out. I said prayers for the dead and salted the windows and doors. I set holy water in a crystal bowl and prayed over it in the sunshine before blessing every window and door in the names of all who are holy. I lit sage and walked through every room, every closet, every hallway, letting the smoke and my prayers cleanse away the past. People have died under my roof and people have been born under it. Infants have grown into children, and children have grown up and grown old, having laughed, loved, and been mourned in their passing. I too plan to spend my life in this home. To live in it until I live no more and this new condolence, this new passing will require a new candle. Who was she or he? What happened?

I know the grandmother made stew. I used to smell it when she came into a room. Sitting all alone the room would fill with the scent of beef stew and I would know that Mrs. (as we came to call her) was paying me a visit. Mrs. also liked the thermostat kept at 64 degrees. I like the house warmed to 68, yet every morning the thermostat was turned down to 64. My husband swears he never touched it.

Now that the house is cleansed it is lighter, happier, free in a way it didn’t feel before. The beef stew scent is gone and the cold blanket feeling has lifted.  I’ve done everything I can for the ones who passed here. I’ve cared for their home and I’ve cared for them, even if from the other side of where they now rest. And even without knowing who Mr. F. Killien received condolence for, I will light a candle for him or for her and pray they have found peace.

Mr. F. Killien standing outside the sun room of the Killien Mansion, Circa 1930.

frank killien by sun room2

My Mustard Seed

eeorme

mustard-seed1

If you had bumped into me seventeen years ago you would have met a deeply depressed person. I was sick and tired of existing and I wanted off this rock. My level of despair was paralyzing. So what to do when you feel washed up at twenty-four? For me the answer was…a hypnotherapy class?

I remember walking into the classroom (a remodeled second story room over the garage) and wondering why in the hell I was bothering. My PTSD was so bad at this point that my anxiety came over me in waives, crushing me with panic attacks so severe that I often felt as if I was dying moment by moment.

Hypnotherapy class was…different. I met neat people, I learned about meditation, trance work and how easily humans are led through the power of suggestion. (We are predictably irrational creatures) I also learned what manipulation looked like and how…

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5 out of 5 Stars for Magdalena’s Shadow

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Magdalena’s Shadow received a much earned 5 out of 5 stars from both the Manhattan Book Review and the Seattle Book Review. Thank you to all of you who have supported my work over the years. This has been a long hard haul and right now, for the first time, I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel. I am so grateful to everyone who has offered me their support and encouragement. Especially, I would like to thank my husband Dan. Without his love or support I would never had the time or the courage to tell Coco’s story.

God bless you all,

E. E. Orme