In this update about the progress of my life’s process I will first say that I have not identified the source of the stink in my house – so I am still working on that.  Next I will say that spring is fast approaching and a great deal of much-loved labor related to the flower and vegetable gardens are in progress.  Then I will say (also related to recent posts) that since I stopped dead in my book-writing tracks early last November I have now as of 2 days ago swung myself around in a full circle so that I am back at that writing work.

Thanks in a large part to my dear sister’s comment of support and encouragement on my post about wanting to do something helpful that can matter to other people, I am understanding that of all the little things I might be able to do in that direction – which includes my efforts toward the failed Congo drum group’s performances in my community — are NOT what I either want to or need to be concerned with at this time.

I have something to offer that is uniquely mine.  I have a story of severe trauma from infant-child abuse to tell — along with what I have LEARNED about and from those experiences.

So – unable evidently to waste much time in sleeping last night I was awake and hard at research well before the crack of dawn today.


I believe my daughter who is involved in writing our book with me, and I, will increasingly be involved in what I call today “fast track thinking.”

I picture a vast freeway – the internet one – which includes a commuter lane.  With the voluminous amounts of information available to us we can move in research directions at near-lightning speed — IF we know what we are after and how the pieces fit together.

The direction of thinking being built this morning is related to what is most unfortunately becoming a slang word:  RESILIENCY.

The word itself refers to a concept that is unclear to nearly everyone using it today.  It is important to become as clear as possible about the ideas and realities that are related to this word.  What I have found and will continue to find about RESILIENCY is accumulating at this link


at which the following sub-pages are appearing

While there is much I could write in this post about this topic I have too many other things to attend to today.  I am preparing the soil to start my jalapeno seeds indoors today.  I need to go prepare the beds for the 100 Texas Sweet Onion starts that need to go into the ground today and upgrade/check the drip irrigation.  I need to rework the compost piles — etc.

So what I have to say about the connections between lifelong quality of life and well-being (and its lack), the degrees of security vs insecurity of earliest caregiver relationships, about how the signals our body receives during critical early stages of development from our attachment relationships determine how our genes manifest and how our body-brain develops (and greatly influences our physical and emotional health for our lifetime), and about how all these signals are actually our Reproductive Fitness Indicators personally as we ourselves are representatives of the quality of the environment that formed us, and about resiliency as it is created by a combination of risk and protective factors — all has to wait for another time.


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It is with a balance between humor and resignation that I must report there is something rotten in my house – in my back room, to be specific.

All kinds of parallels spring to mind between all that was truly rotten in my parents’ abusive home I raised myself in and the obviously very dead something that is stinking up the back half of my house.  But I will not dwell on these connections because I evidently have an unpleasant task ahead of me for this afternoon.

I began to notice the stink yesterday as I was preparing to leave for the afternoon to run errands – which happened to include a great deal of fortunate and very pleasant visiting with friends in town which lifted my rather glum spirits noticeably.

I wanted to believe the odor I was detecting was coming from something that had died in the very shallow crawl space under my house.  I decided yesterday I could do nothing to improve the situation but let time go by while the dead whatever mummified itself.

Well, the stink is today too close to home to fool myself any longer.  Something is dead IN MY ROOM.  (Appropriate explicative can be imagined here!)


So, off I am soon to go into the netherworld of long ago moved furniture with high hopes my efforts will be rewarded with the discovery of something I can remove without puking along the way.

In the meantime, I chuckled as I found and read the following online.  Again the parallel between the scenes being described here and the bizarre, chaotic and insane madness of the home of origin for severe infant and child abuse survivors is obvious.

Shakespeare Quotes

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

He waxes desperate with imagination.

Let’s follow. ‘Tis not fit thus to obey him.

Have after. To what issue will this come?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Heaven will direct it.

Nay, let’s follow him. [Exeunt.]

Hamlet Act 1, scene 4, 87–91

This is one time when the popular misquotation—”Something’s rotten in Denmark”—is a real improvement on the original. But you ought to be careful around purists, who will also remember that the minor character Marcellus, and not Hamlet, is the one who coins the phrase. There’s a reason he says “state of Denmark” rather than just Denmark: the fish is rotting from the head down—all is not well at the top of the political hierarchy.

There have been some hair-raising goings-on outside the castle at Elsinore. As the terrified Horatio and Marcellus look on, the ghost of the recently deceased king appears to Prince Hamlet. The spirit beckons Hamlet offstage, and the frenzied prince follows after, ordering the witnesses to stay put. They quickly decide to tag along anyway—it’s not “fit” to obey someone who is in such a desperate state. In this confused exchange, Marcellus’s famous non sequitur sustains the foreboding mood of the disjointed and mysterious action. And it reinforces the point and tone of some of Hamlet’s earlier remarks—for example, that Denmark is “an unweeded garden” of “things rank and gross in nature” (Act 1, scene 2). When his father’s ghost tells him his chilling tale in scene 5, the prince will realize just how rotten things really are in Denmark.

Citation:  “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Ed. Michael Macrone. Cader Company, 1990. eNotes.com. 15 Mar, 2012


Well, I am off to have the time of my life, no doubt!!  Cleaning the stink out of one’s home, mind and life is, after all, a one person job!  Grrrrrr!!!


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This blog originated three years ago next month.  In its beginning I never thought about censoring what I wrote here.  I wrote with passion then.  I wrote believing in what I had to say as it expressed what I was learning.  I believed that what I had to say had value to myself and to other severe infant-child abuse survivors.  I wrote with hope.

Today?  I could almost say that more than 100% of the time I make a decision that what I could write here on any given day has no value to anyone.  Somewhere along the line in time I crossed an inward line of self-judgment that keeps me from freely expressing myself here because I can’t find any value in what I think during most of my days.

Self-judgment.  Self censorship.  I don’t even know where that came from, or when it entered my blog writing process – but I do know it’s here.  Somewhere along the line I began to believe that life is too complex, too complicated, for me or for anyone else to have any ‘answers’ about anything.  Therefore if there are no answers then there is no value in anything I have to say?  Evidently I believe that…..


I do think it is hard to self-examine one’s beliefs – at least it is hard for me to do this.  In this blog’s beginning I did not worry about feeling vulnerable or about being open to criticism.  I did not worry about saying something ‘wrong’.  I did not worry about ‘making mistakes’.  I did not worry about any reader judging me.  I had confidence.  I did not judge myself.

My guiding thought seems to be, “If I don’t have anything useful (positive) to say then it is best I don’t say anything at all.”  This blog is therefore beginning to be full of “nothing to say.”  Which does leave me thinking about words words words.


My daughter, who lives 1,700 miles away from me in the north, told me on the phone yesterday about difficulties she had with her day yesterday due to difficulties her little son, who just turned 2 last Sunday, had with HIS day.  I think mostly due to the hour change in time which is makes a HUGE difference to a little person’s schedule, the start of the day followed into difficulties all the way down the line for the little person.

By the end of the day when his mother picked him up from daycare he was in tears – the stiff-as-a-board yelling like there is no tomorrow kind of tears.  Momma couldn’t get him to even bend his body enough to strap him into his car seat for the ride home.

Throughout the conversation with my daughter I found myself telling her that for all the experiences her son has through a very busy day, he is at a disadvantage because he has no words to TELL her what he is feeling – or why.  At the same time I mentioned this I realized he ALSO has, therefore, no words to THINK himself about his own life.  Imagine that!  No words.

I also know from remembering the growth and development of my own children that when my grandson does grow a vocabulary large enough to begin to TALK about the complexities of his own life that he will not censor what he says or thinks.  When does that self-censorship process enter the language-using process?  And once it does, what purpose does it serve?

Certainly this child will, as all children do, first go through the stage of chattering constantly.  I remember going through the stage with my children of helping them understand that they do not need to SPEAK every word that they THINK.  But what an amazing step in human development it is to be able to use language!  What a miracle!


And then, as I can see so clearly now for myself, there can come a time when as an adult one can judge nearly every thought that goes through one’s mind.  Too many words?  Too many thoughts?  Too many of the ‘wrong’ thoughts?  How do I really know what I think – or what I might be able to say, to write – is NOT productive?

Certainly nobody in my entire childhood ever cared about what I had to say.  Nobody cared about what I felt.  Given that terrible severe abuse was ongoing throughout all of my childhood, I never learned THEN that there was any benefit whatsoever about being able to talk about myself to anyone else.

This is tied to what I find myself thinking about quite a bit lately:  What is it about my being in the world that really matters or has value to anyone else?  On this level my self-judgments are about far more than what I think or say – the judgments are about what I do, what I am doing in a day, what I can do – and most importantly the judgments are about what GOOD I have to offer to anybody else.


I realized yesterday that the great difficulties I experience with being disappointed are directly tied to words I use such as ‘depression’, ‘ sadness’ and ‘loneliness’.  I realized that because I live alone in a very limited small life, I most often feel I lack the ability to MATTER to anyone.

As a mother, for the 35 years of my life I had children under age 18 in my home to take care of, I never thought about things in this way.  Of course what I did MATTERED.  I was a mother who was raising my children.  Anything else I did along the way paled in comparison to the important impact I always believed that I made regarding the short- and the long-term well-being of my children.


I have been working outside in my garden in recent days as the weather warms.  What I do matters to my plants.  Caring for my chickens, dog, 2 cats and parakeet matter to them.  But what of human beings?

I realized that the struggles I had with the cancellation of the Congo drum group events I had planned (scan back for recent posts) was mostly about my frustration with having thought I could do something useful that could matter to other people in some small way.  This is no different than what I wanted for my writing efforts on this blog.  It is no different for the hopes I had for writing a book about the traumas of my infancy and childhood.

I am limited financially and emotionally and physically in many ways that keep me living a quiet life – which I DO need.  Yesterday I found myself wondering if I don’t have some kind of ancient memory in my DNA that reminds me of what it was like to live intimately in community with other people.  Loneliness was probably unheard of in those days – un-experienced, un-thought of, and therefore not an experience to be expressed in words.

In today’s world with 7-billion of us on this earth, and in this American culture I live in, it seems to be that ‘independence’ has led to isolation and compartmentalization of experience – it is so easy to live in ‘pieces’ while being deprived of the experience of finding oneself mattering in the bigger picture of the ‘whole’.

Unless, I suppose, one can be creative enough to find some way to connect in social circles.  Me?  A part of a social circle?  What does THAT mean?

A big part of the ongoing abuse I suffered was, as I have mentioned here many times before, about extreme isolation from EVERYONE – my siblings, my father, any other relatives, and from any hope of friendship (except for a very brief time spent in Brownies).  My grandson lives a very very social life.  He is loved and tenderly attended to by his parents, by their friends, and spends most of his days immersed in a social environment of day care.  He is being created to be a social being.

Given that the species of humanity IS a social species – my grandson is being given very real advantages that I never, never had.  Once I left home when I was 18 – I began – through force of circumstance – to PRETEND to myself and to everyone else that I had a single clue about what being a social being in a social world was all about.

Over the years these efforts have exhausted me.  This doesn’t mean I have ever stopped having social needs.  That I can no longer experience the ‘social’ experiences that I did even as a mother raising my children, and given the fact that I have no mate and am not likely at my age of 60 to EVER again have a mate, and given a whole LOT of very real limitations of place and finances, etc. – I really don’t know how I am going to find a way to MATTER to anyone except, of course to my children and friends I am closest to.

Does it help me to begin to clarify in words that what could so easily be named depression, sadness, frustration, disappointment, loneliness is ACTUALLY directly tied to my sense of not mattering on the bigger SOCIAL level?  Do I feel any ripples I might make in the universe are so infinitesimally tiny that NOBODY but God will ever notice?

Does any of this matter?  Is there a solution?  Can I find it?  Can I stop censoring my writing because I have THESE thoughts and feelings?




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The Hard Part of Flying

We sat on the banks of a river gently flowing by

And watched an Eagle Mother teach her young one how to fly

She stood by her child on the edge of her nest in a tree

Spread her wings as she floated away calling “Follow me.”

When Eagle’s child refused to fly Mother began to scold

She screeched across the river “Child, do as you are told!”

Her child called back “I’m safe right here!  I can’t fly!  I’m scared to!”

Mother answered her child “You will fly because you dared to!”

Finally Mother gave up and as she yelled a great shout

She dove back to her nest and with a swoop shoved her child out

Yes the young one flew with its Mother following after

As the wind carried back to us the sounds of their laughter

As we watch Eagles circle high above us in the air

We know it was their Mothers who pushed and shoved them up there

All the love and noisy coaxing that we don’t often see

Is just a part of helping children learn they can fly free


Dedicated to Prairie Rose and to all of her children


© Linda Lloyd Danielson, March 11, 2012



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Much has been written about the physiological STARTLE RESPONSE.  This morning I find myself wondering what alert system human beings have that lets us know of some challenge to our selfhood rather than a challenge to our physical well-being.

How might we recognize this selfhood challenge?  Certainly we might first receive our alert through some physical sensation we experience, but what might a selfhood challenge response tell us about more than our physical body in physical space?


Here is a thoughtful blog post by Don Shetterly:  Startle Reflex

Another interesting online article connecting the startle response to pain through the vagus nerve system – CLICK HERE


For some background about how the startle reflex is connected to the fear response – CLICK HERE


However, my own thinking today about our response to challenges to our selfhood is perhaps more philosophical than it is physiological.  The first word that came to mind for me was the word CRINGE – as I recognize that when CONSCIENCE and CONSCIOUSNESS are called into play – I suspect that we experience an INNER cringe reaction that is actually our response to what feels WRONG to us in contrast to what feels RIGHT to us.

We are meant as sentient beings to be able to recognize wrong from right – and hopefully our motivation is to act on behalf of right rather than wrong.  Our inner cringe response lets us know that something we have noticed is creating a reaction of RECOILING from what feels negative and very probably harmful to us.

As Webster’s dictionary is indicating in relation to these patterns we are experiencing an aversion to something that makes us – however imperceptibly we might notice our reaction in our body – SHRINK in size in some way.  We are huddling within.  The dictionary indicates conditions related to cringe, cower, dwindle, refrain, wince, curl up, twinge…..

A TWINGE of conscience?


And, yes, these reactions I am talking about here today are directly connected IN OUR BODY to one of the most important and instantaneous survival reactions we have — our DISGUST response.  A reaction of disgust, which nature has designed us to have immediately if we see a certain look on another person’s face that lets us know to THROW OUT/UP anything we have in our own mouth that caused that special look on the face of someone else who has that same thing in their mouth!  GET RID OF POISON is what all of these reactions are meant to do — and they ARE innately linked within our body with our immune system.

Toxic poisons to our selfhood are every bit as real as poisons to our body are.


Oh, as a severely abused infant-child I knew these states of being nearly all of the time.  I HAD to experience these reactions because my abuser, my severely mentally ill brutally abusive (probably severe Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)) mother DID NOT FEEL THESE REACTIONS WHEN SHE SHOULD HAVE!  My mother experienced no SHAME response whatsoever for any affliction she did to me.  See also:  +A CRITICAL FACT I JUST LEARNED ABOUT MY ABUSIVE BORDERLINE MOTHER

Not only, then, was I forced to be her target for violence/violations as I was forced to be some projected evil incarnation of her own hated self, I was forced to feel all these powerful reactions to something that was so terribly WRONG – because I COULD feel these things – while my mother could not feel them.


My inner jury is out as to whether or not I think a person can have a conscience about something they are blocked from being consciously aware of.  I suspect that human consciousness is intimately linked to our conscience.  Both of these two BIG Cs are connected in their operation through our vagal nerve system:

See also on this blog:



My concern today is not only about how I react to other people based on my ability to HAVE an inner conscience/conscious CRINGE response that lets me know there is some challenge regarding wrong and right that I need to pay attention (attend to) so I can examine how I treat others.  My concern today is also about the long journey I have taken to be able to respect and recognize, to honor and to respond healthily when I alert myself to something someone ELSE is ‘doing to me’ that is NOT healthy to me.

This is about something early severe abuse survivors have to learn far down the road from when they were supposed to learn who to trust and who not to beginning in the second month of life.

The ability to recognize something is wrong in any relationship comes hard to early abuse survivors.  Knowing who to trust and who not to trust – what actions, which information to trust and not to trust – I believe becomes very complicated for us because we did not have these abilities built into our early forming body-brain during our early attachment months of life.

We have to include in our reactions and responses a level of intellectually THINKING about these things that slows us down – and opens up a wide margin for error that instantaneous built-in physiological reactions do NOT include.  Intellect is slow slow SLOW compared to automatic responses!


In thinking about all the kinds of trauma-triggered changes that happen in the body-brain of abused infants and children, it is easy to begin to recognize when our automatic ‘stress response’ system is overriding our ability to consciously choose how we are going to react to a threat or challenge in our present-day life.  (i.e., we are ‘too sensitive’, we ‘over react’ to perceived threats that don’t exist in the present, etc.)

Yet in the case of being able to trust our inner CRINGE – to recognize when someone/something is making us shrink and feel smaller – in other words when we are in some way being attacked on some level through an abuse of real or imaginary power over us – we ARE at a disadvantage in a sort of reverse way!

Threats that ‘normal’ people know-recognize instinctively and respond to automatically with instantaneous speed – in a healthy and normal response to challenges to their SELFHOOD – we are LUCKY if we notice at all!

And then when we DO NOTICE we are at risk for reacting very slowly – because we have to draw upon information that was NOT built into our body-brain.  The information we have that can help us has been learned far, far down the road in our life.  We have assembled our own information packet that we have to slow down and consult – most often on a case-by-case basis!

I know for myself I was raised through terrible abuse to DOUBT myself continually – at the same time I was NEVER ALLOWED TO DOUBT MY ABUSER!!

Doubt is a very healthy reaction to any kind of an inner cringe-cowering-shrinking-recoiling experience that we might have – but NOT when we aim that doubt at our own self!  I am no longer interested in erring on the side of someone else when I have this reaction!  It is not helpful for me to first suspect myself as the source of some ‘wrong’ I have detected through my inner alert system!

And (a word to some) go right ahead and accuse me of being defensive!  That’s why I have an immune system in the first place – to defend myself against threat and harm.  This is ME I am talking about.  This is MY SELFHOOD I have the absolute RIGHT to defend!  To the best of my ability I will allow no attack on ME whatsoever —- so —- don’t bother to try one!


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Important new book:  Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease by Robin Karr-Morse (Jan 3, 2012)

“No one explains better than Robin Karr-Morse…how toxic stress triggers problems that have created a major public health crisis – the research, the risks, and the results. Highlighting case studies and cutting-edge scientific findings, the authors show how our innate fight-or-flight system can injure us if overworked in the early stages of life, triggering diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, and addiction later in life.”

[And many more health problems including anxiety, asthma, other autoimmune diseases including arthritis, many cases of cancer, triggered genes for suicide — and many more]

Book Description

The first years of human life are more important than we ever realized. In Scared Sick, Robin Karr-Morse connects psychology, neurobiology, endocrinology, immunology, and genetics to demonstrate how chronic fear in infancy and early childhood— when we are most helpless—lies at the root of common diseases in adulthood.

Compassionate and based on the latest research, Scared Sick will unveil a major public health crisis. Highlighting case studies and cutting-edge scientific findings, Karr- Morse shows how our innate fight-or-flight system can injure us if overworked in the early stages of life. Persistent stress can trigger diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, and addiction later on.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“information-packed….the authors do make a very persuasive case that preventive measures should be taken to eliminate or mitigate early trauma” 

Kirkus Reviews
“A wake-up call? Absolutely.”

Daniel J. Siegel, MD, Executive Director, Mindsight Institute, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine, and author of Mindsight

“Karr-Morse and Wiley have done it again! Scared Sick raises many profound and urgent questions about how stress during the earliest moments of our lives—in utero and out in the world—can create lasting negative impacts on the health of our bodies and minds. While many of the exact details remain to be clarified with further research, this book’s summary of the science of stress creates a call to action that is quite clear: We need to awaken ourselves to the importance of both preventing toxic stress early in life and helping the many who have been affected during these early years to have the healing support that is available in the form of social connections and mindful reflective skills that can lead us in new and helpful directions in our collective lives.”

Vincent J. Felitti, MD, Founder, The California Institutes of Preventive Medicine

Scared Sick is useful, highly readable, scientifically advanced, and relevant to all of us in better understanding our lives, especially how our earliest life experiences can translate into health and disease over the decades. Another impressive book by Robin Karr-Morse with Meredith Wiley.”

David Lawrence, Jr., President of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and former publisher of The Miami Herald
Ghosts from the Nursery helped me decide—more than a decade ago—to retire to devote all my energies to ‘school readiness’ issues. The thesis of Scared Sick energizes me further. Within is an abundance of information and wisdom—about fetuses who feel pain, prenatal depression, trauma and the Unabomber, the mixed blessings of child care, and much more. The book is a splendid blend of sense and science.”

About the Author

Robin Karr-Morse is family therapist and a veteran of child welfare and public education systems in Oregon. Formerly the Director of Parent Training for the state child welfare system, she was the first executive director of the Oregon Children’s Trust Fund, a consultant to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s Touchpoints Program and a lecturer on the Brazelton Seminar Faculty. She has worked with county, state and national officials across the country to create social policies which support families in children’s earliest development. Currently, she is working with a group of colleagues to build “The Parenting Institute” to provide parents with state of the art developmental knowledge, skills and support which focuses on building emotionally competent children from conception through adolescence.


Scared Sick Lecture and Book-signing with Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith Wiley, April 2 in Albany

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 10:17 AM PST

Toxic: extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful. Stress: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.

Toxic stress is a regular companion for children living in families where abuse, neglect, and dysfunction are part of everyday life.  The impact on children and on our communities is profound and far-reaching.


Meredith Wiley is a former prosecutor and currently state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids New York, a crime fighting organization of law enforcement leaders and victims of violence who work to educate policy makers and the public on what works to get kids off to a good start in life and keep them from ever becoming criminals. Meredith is a former prosecutor.  She has been appointed to the New York State Children’s Cabinet Advisory Council, the Early Childhood Advisory Council, the Governor’s Task Force to Transform Juvenile Justice and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, and also is on the National Board of Advisors for the Nurse Family Partnership Program and the National Board of Advisors for the Parent Child Home Program.



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Some weeks ago a blog reader left me a comment related to my learning to play keyboard, to read and to write songs.  I’ve had this project idea on a back burner these past few weeks – but today I am beginning to investigate what this blog commenter mentioned might be a program that I can write songs for.

All I know is that ‘hospice’ and ‘bedside singing’ were mentioned.  As I begin my online inquiries I find links to stories such as these:

Bedside Choir Provides ‘Threshold’ Comfort

Harbour SingersThe Harbour Singers was formed in 2008 to support persons in end of life care settings at a hospice, hospital, nursing home, or at home throughout the Southern Maine region. We offer a gift of song at bedside from a small group of caring volunteers.
“The Harbour Singers is a non-denominational chorus with non-profit status under the umbrella of the
Unitarian Universalist Church of Saco & Biddeford. The choir is open to all who wish to sing. Any person, whether they come with a religious affiliation, spiritual practice or social concern, is welcome to join.”

The Bedside Singers

Singing for Hospice and Healing

Bedside Songs Help Ease The Pain and Sleep Better

Music Therapy Hospice Volunteers


Well, I don’t know where this line of thinking will lead me – I DO NOT SING!  But I might be able to write songs that someone else involved in programs such as these listed might be able to use in singing at bedsides elsewhere.  If any readers have any info for me related to these ideas please drop a comment here!

Today I am putting a little waltz tune I wrote last night to words:


Fallen Butterfly

When you find a butterfly that’s fallen to the ground

Listen to it carefully.  It speaks in quiet sound…

I tell you a tale of glory

Alpha and omega story

Blissful I began my life wrapped in a warm cocoon

Next I was a caterpillar, yet I changed so soon…

Two wings I was given to fly

Through the air so free, far and wide

My job was to pollinate.  I did my job so well

‘Til my wings beat slower, I flew lower and I fell…

Living on nectar from flowers

Peaceful was I all my hours

My days were full of colors so glorious and bright

I gracefully folded my wings in prayer every night…

I have been delicate and strong

My life full of beauty and song

Nothing I did was harmful.  I made no being sad

I never wished for anything more than what I had…

But no forever-soul have I

My time is over when I die

This lovely butterfly is all I could ever be

I cannot rise to the kingdom of humanity…

God gave to me this life vernal

And to you a soul eternal


(note pattern:  1/8, 1/8, 1/4, 1/4 – with an 1/8, 1/4, 1/4 pattern sounding at the end of some lines as notes without words)


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From: Michael Laracy [mailto:mlaracy@aecf.org]
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 7:26 AM
To:The KIDS COUNT Discussion List [KIDS COUNT]
Subject: [kidscount] Powerful Social Media and Marketing Project: Kony 2012

Hi, folks –

My teenage daughter, Charlotte, will be spending a couple of weeks this summer on a community service trip to Kenya.  Consequently, she’s been especially interested lately in current events within Africa.

Yesterday, she send me a link to a new YouTube video describing an effort to stop Joseph Kony and his murderous Lord’s Resistance Army which has slaughtered thousands of men, women and children in central Africa.  The project is called Kony 2012, and the video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc.   It is 30 minutes long, but I do recommend that you check it out because I think it is maybe the most brilliant and creative piece of social marketing and social media I’ve ever seen.  It is also utterly compelling and powerful.  It’s already gone hugely viral, and if you watch the video, you’ll see why.

For more info on the effort to bring Kony to justice, check out this excellent Washington Post Column by Michael Gerson:


The net tightens around Joseph Kony

By Michael Gerson, Published: January 26

DUNGU, Congo

Francoise, age 16, talks quietly, revealing a shy smile only after praise for her tight cornrows. While walking to school four years ago, she and some classmates were captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The girls were distributed to soldiers as “wives.” In the mornings, Francoise cooked. In the afternoons, she carried packs on the march. When she tried to escape, the soldiers melted a water container and poured the plastic on her shoulders. Once, when the fighters saw two infants along the path, they crushed them with a pestle. “I witnessed that,” she says.

She recalls seeing Joseph Kony “maybe once a year.” Kony is the leader of the LRA and perhaps the most hated and hunted man on earth. His followers, she explains, think that “he is a supernatural being. He has a power over them.”

Francoise describes a six-week walk to an LRA camp in a remote part of the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR). Then the sounds of an attacking plane and helicopter. In the chaos, she escaped, arriving home just before Christmas.

Her story is eyewitness confirmation of an important event. During the summer, Kony recalled his commanders to the CAR for his first major leadership meeting in two years. On Sept. 12, forces of Uganda’s military (known as the UPDF) scattered the LRA fighters. Kony survived and fled. But the net around him tightens.

The pursuit of the LRA ranges over 240,000 square miles of jungle terrain in three countries. According to officers at the Joint Intelligence and Operations Center in Dungu, there were more than 300 LRA attacks last year. Units operate in small bands both east and west of Dungu. But Kony is still thought to be in the CAR. Experts on the conflict speculate his current location to be somewhere west of the Chinko River, a few hours by helicopter from his pursuers’ nearest military outpost.

During decades of fighting in the bush, Kony has been protected by a bodyguard of myths. His eyes are said to shine bright red. When he runs, his legs are invisible. His soldiers believe that they were created from Kony’s blood. They spill the blood of others without compunction. A few hundred of Kony’s fighters have turned a vast territory into a gathering place of fears.

Organizations such as the Eastern Congo Initiative and Invisible Children are constructing an early-warning radio system to warn villages of impending attacks. United Nations peacekeepers protect civilians in Dungu and other towns.

But for this region to be repaired, the LRA must be broken. Military forces of Congo and the CAR are incapable. So the task has fallen to Ugandan soldiers, advised by the U.S. military. More than 80 U.S. special operations forces have been deployed to forward operating bases in Congo, the CAR and South Sudan. Their mission is to provide intelligence and assistance to the Ugandan military, which has skilled trackers — some of them formerly with the LRA — on Kony’s trail.

Over the past few months, the pressure has begun to tell. Small groups of LRA fighters continue attacks on civilians, mainly to secure supplies. But larger gatherings, such as the Sept. 12 meeting, risk disruption. LRA leaders know that mass civilian killings — a traditional Kony tactic — would call attention to their location. LRA forces have recently released some captive women and children. U.S. advisers view this as a sign of stress — an attempt to lighten the load of a harried force.

The Kony manhunt, however, faces complications. For political reasons, Congo’s government recently ordered Ugandan forces out of its territory, leaving the LRA with significant sanctuaries. The UPDF — which is also fighting al-Shabab in Somalia — is stretched thin. Ugandan operations in the CAR and South Sudan involve just a few transport helicopters and a single reconnaissance drone. The whole effort is hampered by a lack of tactical air support, airlift capacity and advanced communications.

An American combat mission in this conflict is not contemplated. But the U.S. government should press Congo to readmit Ugandan troops pursuing the LRA. And the U.S. military could aid the UPDF with more advanced air and communications capabilities. A small, final push might remove the LRA’s most capable leaders from the field.

After a four-year nightmare, Francoise hopes to go back to school. Joseph Kony, the author of nightmares, remains at large in some jungle camp. He is not a supernatural being. He is human, and thus mortal. It is time to prove it.


Many thanks,



Michael C. Laracy   /   Director

Policy Reform & Advocacy   /   The Annie E. Casey Foundation

701 St. Paul St.   /   Baltimore, MD 21202

410-223-2934 (o)   /   443-414-1379 (c)

mlaracy@aecf.org   /    www.aecf.org   /   @MikeLaracy


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I admit it.  I am entirely self-possessed at the moment, and I expect to remain in this spiraling inner state until I learn yet again what it is about disappointment that so rocks my inner boat.

Yes.  I am extremely disappointed that the event I took a big hand in arranging that was supposed to happen this coming Saturday has been trashed.  But as often happens in life it is not the current circumstances that lend most weight to my inner boat-rocking that is going on right now.  One event in the present often equals some version of a trauma trigger that stirs up all that muddy water from disappointments from my past.

When I speak about how I see the stress response cycle operating – which I have written about often on this blog – I find myself choosing to think about myself in my own life using the words I so easily spill out upon my blog’s cyber pages.

Thinking again about anger and as I see it existing as a FIRST STOP as one is challenged by something unexpected in life.  How do I begin to untangle the pop-word ‘resentment’ from the actual physiological emotional response of anger?

Anger.  The place where I am challenged to respond to a threat or to solve a problem using what I KNOW from past experience has worked to solve a similar problem in the past.

Am I angry that I have no control over most of what happens in life?  Yes.  That seems like a reasonable response – but only if some return to peaceful calm and a connection to balanced harmony in life can be quickly returned to by using the energy my anger creates for me creatively and postively.

What might my inner Scottish Warrior Woman self give me right now in my efforts to stabilize my own inner rocking boat?  What am I battling, anyway?  What is the threat I detect?  What is the problem?

And how is my current disappointed connected to certain of my past disappointments that are being triggered by my current one?


I will not know unless I stare directly back at those events that are presenting themselves today on the stage of my life.

One of them happened when I was in 10th grade.  My crazy, hate-full abusive mother happened to be selling what was known in 1966 as Beeline Fashions through home party shows.  Mother had allowed me to ‘join’ only one social club at my high school:  The Beautify America Club.  All meetings were held at the school during regular school hours.  We accomplished exactly nothing.  I didn’t realize that.  I was simply glad to be a part of something.

Mother decided – I suppose as a way of promoting her business – to contact the group – through me – with a suggestion.  She wanted the club to hostess a fashion show.  She would provide the garments.  There was to be a raffle.  The money earned for the tickets would go for the club.  Mother would provide a prize to the group member who sold the most tickets.

I do not remember what the prize was.  What I remember was myself knocking on every single door in the town of Eagle River, Alaska we lived in that winter as I sold raffle ticket after raffle ticket.  It was a damp and muddy March.  I wore a waist length light tan fake suede jacket with fake leather buttons and fake fur collar and cuffs.

One late afternoon as darkness crawled over the dirt streets I was heading home and slipped, falling fully upon my back in a soupy, sloppy mess of mud.  I was devastated in terror for what Mother would do to me when she discovered that I had ‘ruined’ yet another item of clothing.

My stomach instantly knotted into fists.  I scurried home as carefully as I could and was relieved beyond words when I entered our apartment to find that Mother was out grocery shopping.  I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in so I could wash the mud out of my jacket – so she would never know.

Yes.  I told many, many, many more tickets than did any other girl in the club.  I was so hopeful that here was something I had control over, something I could actually DO that would earn me not the prize itself – which I have no memory of – but win me some acceptance and recognition and positive feelings toward me by my mother.

Nothing.   The club knew I won.  Mother knew I won.   Nobody ever acknowledged my success in any way.  Was I disappointed?  Yes.

Am I still angry about this injustice?  I don’t know.  If I am angry, has my anger soured into a useless resentment?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that there is something about this event from the past that is triggered today with my current disappointment over the trashing of Saturday’s hoped-for events.  Both incidents are at present in my rocking boat.


And these disappointments are – I find – interestingly – connected to another disappointment.  I can tell myself now how foolish it is for me to still hold in my ‘unresolved trauma’ categories what I am going to mention next.

Only long time readers of this blog will comprehend the comprehensiveness of the insane abuse I suffered for the first 18 years of my life.  Today it is not those stories that interest me.  Today I am reminded of my ESCAPE from my home of origin terrors and traumas.

One month after my 18th birthday my parents put me into the Navy.  I mean that exactly the way I wrote it.  I knew so little at this age – so little.  But I, in my typical move-ahead way took the strange turns of events in which I was captured in stride the best that I could.

I told the Naval recruiter on the day my father took me there to sign me up that I wanted to study journalism.  “Fine,” the recruiter told me, not looking me in the eye, shuffling signature papers for me to sign.

I believed him.  Just as certainly as I BELIEVED Mother (and the club) that I would be recognized if I sold the most tickets.  I took these people at their word.

I was disappointed yet again.

There were 64 women in my boot camp company.  I was the youngest.  One day all of us were ushered into a room to be ‘tested’.  The results of these tests would determine what school we would be sent to, and hence would determine to a large extent the trajectory of our next months/years of life.

I remember this today.  I was so anxious about this testing – and so fully aware of the promise I had been given that I would be sent to journalism school – that I developed a terrible nosebleed.

There I sat squarely up to the counter with my timed-test sheets of paper coming and going it seemed at a very rapid rate, with my nose bleeding like a faucet into the scrunched up wad of Kleenex in my hand.

I did not complain.  I did not ask for and certainly did not receive any special help considering my difficulties.  I simply took all the tests – and ended up having the highest scores on all of the tests of the entire group of 64 women.

The disappointment:  Because of my high scores I was told it would be a waste to the Navy to send me to journalism school.  I was being sent to computer school instead.

Computer school?  In 1969?  Of course they called it data processing school – but it made no difference to me WHAT they called it.  It was NOT journalism school as I had been promised.  Nor did that altered course of study match one single possible skill set in my possession.

Am I angry today about this betrayal?  Yes.  Do I consider my anger a soured resentment?  I have no idea.

What I do know is that I argue with myself about ‘daring’ to hold onto a sense of justice and injustice that creates in me some kind of energy related to wanting to fight back against something that just plain feels/seems wrong to me.


Yet today as I examine these disappointments from my past along with this new one today I see that currently there IS NO INJUSTICE.  There is chance.  There is circumstance.  And, yes, there is disappointment.

Nobody intentionally set Linda up to fail regarding Saturday’s events and their cancellation.  I volunteered for this whole thing in the first place.  Obviously I know that.

(OK.  I just saw a word flash through the back of my mind so fast it is gone now.  What was that word?  Find it, Linda!  I bet it’s important…..)

Oh, here it is:  RISK – DARING TO TAKE A RISK.

Did I take a risk in trying as hard as I could to sell those tickets as I REACHED into the future in trust and in hope for a reward I had been promised?  Yes.

Did I take a risk in trying as hard as I could to get the best grades on those Navy tests that I could while trusting in the promise I thought I had been given that in the end I would be sent to study WRITING, my passion?  Yes.

And did I take a big risk in investing great hope and energy over this past month to create an opportunity in this little town to experience a world class musical event of great value?  Yes.

Was I given a PROMISE this time?  NO!  NO!  NO!  I was NOT given a promise.  Therefore no promise has been broken in the events’ cancellation – no matter how disappointing this turn of events might be.


So what is the connection for me between these three events that marshals some Scottish Warrior Woman sense of outrage?

Part of me is ANGRY that life on this earth is not about promises – and therefore is not REALLY about promises either kept or broken!  Life on the material level is not about rose-garden-fairness.  Life on this earth is not YET about justice.

The only promise of value and worth in existence comes from God – however any of us conceive of this greatest of mysterious powers.  Spiritual promises are given to humanity in the form of Covenants between people and our Creator.  None of the rest of what can ever bother me is really any greater than an eaten Twinkie.


I wrote a post on February 4, 2012 titled — +KEEPING OUR SAIL TURNED INTO THE GOOD WIND OF HEALING – at the end of which I included three short prayers I use during my daily 45 minute walks.  This one is especially important for me to consider right now in my anti-boat rocking efforts to still my self:

O God, my God! Look not upon my hopes and my doings, nay rather look upon Thy will that hath encompassed the heavens and the earth. By Thy Most Great Name, O Thou Lord of all nations! I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love.”

From:  Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, Pages 317-323: 318

If I am asking God not to look “upon my hopes and my doings” why do I bother my self with looking at them for my own self?  Whether I am hoping for a desired prize, a desired course of study, a desired series of planned events to go off without a hitch – none of this actually matters.

What might matter to me, however, is that I dared to take a risk.  And with this daring, with this risking, perhaps there is a special kind of disappointment that can happen when my glass castle crashes into the sea.  True, I’ve never been one to leap from the top of a skyscraper attached to life by a gigantic rubber band, but I have upon occasion made little leaps of faith in human nature into the future.

The trick for me might be to think of some risks of daring I have undertaken in my life that had more positive endings than do the three I have noted here.  But even excluding the ‘final crashed results’ of my current efforts, I have recently experienced conversations with some fine people along the way.

For now, what I am doing is simply letting go.  Which is a process of grieving in its own way……

Can I currently congratulate myself for having yet again taken another leap of good faith?  Not yet.


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