Two Strips of String Cheese


There have been many times in my life where I’ve been food insecure for whatever reason. [Couch surfing, ditching an abusive husband, barely making ends meet with 12 hour days] By default, I find myself counting and re-counting the dollars I have to spend at the grocery store. I’m hyper aware when dollars go missing from my pocket.

At the grocery store this evening, as I browsed the produce section, I noticed a young man whom looked a LOT like my friend Rocky. Hair, gait, style of clothing, even the way he was talking aloud to himself reminded me of Seabuurd. He also looked quite distraught.

“Are you okay? You seem upset.” I asked.

“Yeah, I just…I just lost $10 somewhere on the floor. I’m retracing my steps.” he replied.

“Well I sure hope you find it.” I continued on my way giving a short glance around the area hoping I’d be the hero that found the missing currency.

A few aisles later, I see the young man again.

“Any luck?”

“No. Someone probably found it already. I really needed that.” He fruitlessly searched the barren floor.

“I’ll keep a look out.”


I checked my pocket where I only had $7 left until Friday evening. I decided if I saw him again, I’d give him the dollars. I headed to the pharmacy area to see if they had an OTC sling to put my arm in because my shoulder is really jacked up right now. As I searched the pharmacy shelves, I heard a loud ruckus coming from the checkout part of the store.

Three women were taunting the young man with the $10 they found in the aisle. At first he started to explain himself, but they kept on going. Bragging about their good fortune loud enough to be heard, literally, half-way across the store. The other patrons joined in to defend the young man, but the young women just wouldn’t let it go. Finally, the young man, nearly in tears tells the women that he hopes they get pulled over and have to use his money to pay the fine.

Not finding what I need, I head over to the checkout lane. I select the one with a high school friend of mine as the cashier. As I approach her, I ask what all the noise was about. She tells me the story. While she’s talking I look over my shoulder where the Rocky looking young man is packing his groceries into bags. He’s obviously shook up. I reached into my pocket and gave him my dollars.

“It’s not the full $10 bucks, but it’s closer than you were.” I smile at him. At first he refused, but my high school chum tells him to take it.

“She won’t quit. You’re better off taking it.” She tells him.

“Oh, well do you like string cheese?” He asked me with sincerity. “Here have a piece.”

He gave me a piece which I peeled at the register and we ate together in the middle of the checkout line. “Have the rest of it.”

“Nah, I’m good. I can’t eat too much of that.”

“Please take a couple pieces at least.” He offers them earnestly to me. I accept and put them into my grocery bag. At that moment a tall well-dressed man enters the store, walks up to the young man with his hand extended.

“I approached them in the parking lot and asked for the money back. At first they were all about keeping it, but I told them I’d call the police because they were assholes. They gave it up.” He chuckled richly.

“Aw, man! Thanks, dude!” The young man reached into his pocket, retrieved the dollars I’d given him, attempted to return them to me.

“No. I already gave it to you, they’re yours. You now can pay it forward better.” He looked astonished. He kept telling me what a beautiful human I am. Even as I walked away from the counter he was continuing his praise.

You may or may not believe me about this, but I do stuff like this all the time. I don’t do it for the compliments or praise. I’m not even telling you this story for positive feedback.

I’m telling you that when you do something equally as kind, it spreads like a California wildfire. When you put yourself out there by an act of kindness bigger than the moment, you’re doing what you are born to do. You’re born to shine. You’re born to be the beacon of hope, love, and joy in this ridiculously cruel world. You get to be the hope someone sees by your actions. Like lighting your candle off your neighbor’s at the Christmas eve candlelight service, it spreads love.

Preaching all day long does nothing but give you a sore throat. ACTIVELY living loving is a practice in mindfulness; a revolutionary awareness of the world around you. It is a true mark of courage to be the light in the darkness. It is a badge of honor to set aside some wants you have (like giving up my breakfast tomorrow morning) to give someone else that light. I’ll keep doing what I do, regardless if you follow my lead or not, but we should practice this kind of radical kindness every day.

Blue Gene

The thundering rain roiled violently in the warm November night

striking the man with sheets of his plight

He, on his knees on the side of the road,

had arms raised like and above his face

a thousand cries towards mercy

In supplication he wailed at the haunt of cars

A woman rushed to his side.

She didn’t touch him, but she united her voice with his prayers

He staggered to his feet as wings offered him passage

His breath of prayer accounted for, he was warmly embraced

He sobbed his shame into his cupped hands

while apologizing for his humanity

The chariot released him to the cross of spirits

easing his ailing heart.

He is loved.

These Are My People: Ray and Coral Juras

I was scrolling my Facebook feed and I found a picture of Coral and Ray looking into each others eyes while they danced together. When I first met them, it was in the social hall at the old church building. They didn’t attend the service but had scooted in to “hang out.” They were so warm and kind that I instantly realized they were kindred spirits with one another. They were just content as clams to be nearby. I loved them warmly then as I do now. This is a poem inspired by that picture I found but can’t yet retrieve.

I barely knew the sea, ne’er touched the heated sands beneath my feet

I didn’t know the lighthouse song or the foggy waves clashing the beach

I didn’t taste the salty air or dream of it cleansing cool against my skin

I never watched the tides roll the beach, tossing shells as the waves washed in

But then I looked into your eyes with the warm smile of the sun a beacon…

I am intimately aware of the soul of the sea with the heated sands beneath my skin

I heed the beckoning of your loving heart and with the lighthouse of your love sing along

The fogs have lifted where once it was shady, but you and your love light my way again

I embrace the kiss of the salty air in the dream where I get to be your spousal song

We’ll dance like the tides ebbing and flowing, splashing playful at the shore,

As I return again and again to you, my beautiful, the one the ocean dictates I adore

These Are My People: Theresa Wiseman

A beautiful spirit cloaked in kindness.

A beautiful spirit cloaked in kindness.

There is a legend from the ancient fires

That when a body dies, the soul does not expire

But it continues through the ages, grace upon graces

Changing its location, wearing different faces

When two souls their paths abide

Return to gather in eras of needed tribes

The powers that be return them there

So they may uplift, gather in prayer

That they may break bread and commune together

Hold the umbrellas through storms and sunny weather

And sometimes it’s seen as a gracious boon

That one knows the other never too soon

They see the smile, the movement in grace

They feel the love returning from their own face

The one from where the legend of ancient fires sprung

And they know that the cycle has once again begun.

Winter Daisy

My dear friend Miss Sharon Crane gifted me with a little solar powered daisy that dances in the sunlight. I put it in the window that I stare out when I’m writing. All day long, each time the movement catches my eye, it’s made me smile. I wrote a short little poem about it.

Miss Sharon Crane's gift to me brightened my winter scenery.

Miss Sharon Crane’s gift to me brightened my winter scenery.

I’m a human, not a lady

I am not a good girl

I am not a good girl

Why do I need to act like a “lady?” What does that even mean? Be a yes, sir, no ma’am demure wall flower in hopes that I’ll get picked to be the next Cinderella? Does that mean I have to put someone else before me always and pray that my needs get met because I was a good girl and followed the rules?

Why do I need to play like a boy when I can be a woman and ditch cars, ride horses, bake cakes, kick dirt, saw wood, paint wordy pictures, dream just like any other human? Why does that even have to have a gender placed on it? We all know what we can do, why separate the two?

Why do I have to be respectable in public when the public slut shames my gender? Starts war upon my sisters with horrible results and back-alley horrors committed against their beauty out of spite, anger, jealousy? Why do I have to bow down to the “mighty” man of six years old because he was born with a penis and I was not? Fuck that. I’ll be who I am. You adapt to me. I’ll color just enough inside the lines so that you’ll have no choice but to look at my art, but when you start telling me that a sun has to be yellow and not purple, we’re no longer friends and I don’t have to be nice to you any more.

Why can’t I be passionate no matter where I am? No matter where I’m going? No matter what I’m doing? If I feel it, why should I make an excuse for loving my life and everything about it? This seems insulting to the very gifts I’ve been given. This seems selfish of me to hold back the beauty that is everything I am. It’s disgraceful to not be passionate about the life-gift we’ve been given and I don’t think it has anything to do about being a sexual being.

I treat my body like a temple, not a mausoleum. I don’t need quiet pristine walls to know that I’m alive. I need vibrant colors, loud music, laughter and singing, dancing at all hours with colors winging the ceilings and candles and joyous arousal. I need hats and capes, and delicious chocolates dripping with harmony. I’m here to live life not pretend I only want a little bit of a taste. I want the whole damn thing. I want to swallow it whole and chew for hours on ideas and thoughts of what I see; experience on every level.

Why can’t I treat my body like a motel if I want to? Why can’t I take a lover into my arms, no matter the number, no matter the reason? Why should I be held to a different standard than someone who happens to have different genitalia? Why do I need to limit myself to the taste and pleasures of one gender? What if I want to dip fingers into honey as much as I want to lick my lips up the honey dipper? Why can’t I smear sex on my body like peanut butter if I desire it? That’s a horrible double standard and I refuse your rule book, your little black marks, your stigma, and your anger towards my freedom to choose what I do with my body. It’s not some body. It’s MY body. See that? It’s not called YOUR body. It’s MY body. I can have a revolving door if I choose, so don’t dictate my hours or my calling. It’s not your motel to run. I’m sorry you’ve found the Bates Motel more to your liking, lurking with the dead and dispassionate. That’s not me.

I refuse to love unconditionally. If I were to do that, I’d be God or Goddess, or Buddha or Christ and I’m not any of those. I’m a human. I can look at you with disgust if I want to. I can refuse you entry to my chapel of horrors and my circus if I don’t like your act. I don’t owe you anything which, as many misconceive is what love is when it’s unconditional. That, in many people’s minds means without question. I’m not going to love someone who harms children, particularly me. No way. Been there done that and I’ve served my life sentence every day since my birth. No. I will not.

This part I can agree with. I will speak my truth and I will live as honestly as I can. Not for your benefit but because my spirit is peaceful when I know I’ve done my best to follow my own compass without your rules holding me to unrealistic and unreasonable behavioral constructs that do not belong in my body, mind, spirit, or hands. What I will further agree with is that if you trust me with your heart and I trust you with mine which means we vow, with word or not, to never betray that trust intentionally, you will never again have to feel alone.

These Are My People: Oshun Avani New York, New York  Photographer Monzeeki
New York, New York

Just for today,
I will honor the knees at which I kneel
Taking preservation in wisdom dripped
From oceans of tears and millions of stars.

Just for today,
I will offer my actions without expectation
To those who suffer poverty in all ways
In their bodies, in their actions, in their spirits.

Just for today,
I will be grateful as I prepare my meals
Mindful of the preparation in my hands
Filling plates with sustenance, love, laughter.

Just for today,
I will hold a my tongue from anger
Keeping tolerance at the forefront of my mind
Defending against injustice with a considered heart.

Just for today,
I will hold the brothers and sisters of my spirit tribe
With compassion and kindness in the Light
That guides us to one another in graceful exchange.

Bone Filled Closets

“The problem with people is that we’re looking at everyone’s front door from our bone filled closets.” –Crystal Beeler

We show the world the prettiest of packages. We wear the nicest clothes we can afford, drive the best car we can, work at a job where we’re considered “A nice person,” hang out with our friends who think we’re hilarious/serious/odd/insert-other-attribute-here, and we still can’t see ourselves honestly. We pull the wool over our own eyes that we’re not as good as others. We hoodwink ourselves into believing we’re bad at everything and at times ponder why we’re even accepted any place at all.

But we reinforce this belief by telling each other about our humanity through platitudes of: “Everyone makes mistakes,” “Don’t worry, it will get better,” “You’re fine/okay,” or one of my favorites, “Pray that God forgives you,” shows me that we all want to be okay; Be considered okay. But hearing it from the outside while we stand in the midst of our failures can do the complete opposite of what we need to do for ourselves.

The truth is, we already have all the tools we need to be perfectly us. We are already loved. We are already beloved. We are already the perfect version of our collective experiences. When you can accept that, the world is ready for you to explore it with the awe and wonder of your spirit that isn’t linked to the physical plane but by your memories and experiences. A collective of the tried and true and the not such a great ideas mingled into the spicy delicious you.

But how do you get over the fear that others are seeing you as you see yourself? How do you look in the mirror with confidence that you have talents unique to you? How can you say that you’re less than anyone else when you are born into the right of love?

Take off the front door. Be the human you are without fear because it’s who you are. You are, with all your lumpy bumpy bits, amazing. On the physical sense (and yes this assumes), your heart is beating, your lungs are working, your kidneys are doing their thing, your bowels, your stomach, your entire blood vessel system are all working and you don’t have to think about any of it. You can’t run a mile? That’s okay because you can pick up a grain of rice between your toes. You can’t lift 100 pounds? That’s okay because you can read an entire book in a day.

Replace those negative thoughts with the things you CAN do even if they’re not remotely related. Look on yourself with the same compassion you’d show a friend who stripped off their pretty package and had a meltdown in the grocery store. See yourself as a child who only occasionally needs correcting by your loving attention. Give yourself tenderness by taking time to recharge/renew/revive yourself.

There is no shame in taking care of yourself. People will come and go in your lifetime which means that you are the ultimate expert on you. You’re the only one that is around you 24/7/365. You are the only one who know your every thought, every emotion, every goal, every dream, every aspiration, and what makes your truly happy. I repeat, there is no shame in taking care of yourself.

Comparing yourself to others is judging yourself in the harshest of lights. There is no room for error when you’re trying to measure up to someone else. However, if you realize that you are your only competitor for your life and spirit, it really is empowering to know that you can set the goals YOU need to feel successful.

Search deeply into your hidden secrets without fear. You already know what they are. They aren’t a surprise to you. You lived them. You experienced them. You learned from them. Throw them around the room as if you were looking for your favorite toy or outfit that somehow got buried under years of denial, regrets, self-loathing, shame, guilt, and other harmful self-incriminating tactics you’ve used against yourself to declare an invalid self-worth.

Just like as if you were doing a spring cleaning in your house, do so with the negative. You can keep the lessons you’ve learned, but don’t cherish that time you hit your brother over the head with a dictionary. Let it go. If we hold onto the childish mistakes of our past, we’re likely to hold onto the inexperienced or ignorant issues of our adulthood. This isn’t self-care, this is self-sabotage. You’re worth more than that.

By allowing yourself your humanity, you’re giving the gift of yourself to others in a way that can’t be duplicated. Embrace yourself with the knowledge that your imperfections, quirks, obsessions, snarkiness, anger, kindness, and actions are a reflection of the spirit of your humanity.

Give yourself the greatest gift you can give to yourself, love. Everything you are is utterly fantastic. Even the worst thing you’ve ever done is not the definition of you but a measure of how far you’ve come. Put down the baseball bat you’ve been beating yourself with and let those cuts, scars, and bruises heal. When you reach for that self-abuse, remember that a loving person would never harm you. You ARE that loving person. I don’t even know you and I can tell you this for a fact.

These Are My People: Freddie Nechtow

The Aurora Borealis promenade the northern skies
The wisdom of your lifetime animates and implies
Coaxing your stellar erudition in your voice alone
Embracing with the emotional blessing of Shalom.
Compassionate communication are not just words to you
Bringing galaxies of practicality, a gift to others imbued
They are words that you exemplify in your actions kind
A serenity of spirit, a pastoral state of mind.