Every Day is Earth Day, or Should Be

On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, children wonder why there isn’t a Children’s Day. Their parents tell them Every day is Children’s Day. Perhaps this is true. What isn’t true, but should be, is that every day is Earth Day, and having a small number of people trying to get the rest of the world to focus on it for one small day is not enough, not even close. Earth Day is like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and all the other holidays rolled into one. The Earth is our life giver. We should be celebrating her because she is us and we are her.

Yet as has been the case since humans decided they should be at the top of a triangle instead of flowing in a circle with the rest of the Earth, we have taken steps to dissociate from that connection and now here we are, in a place where we believe the planet revolves around us and the result is that the planet and everything on it is dying. Many respected climatologists believe we can turn this around. I’m a bit more pessimistic, but I certainly don’t believe we should not try. Earth isn’t Earth anymore. As Bill McKibben so eloquently stated in his book by the same name, Earth is now Eaarth, a different place than any of us were raised. We’ve interfered and taken it beyond recognition. Yet, this doesn’t mean we should not take care of what is left. We are Eaarth and Eaarth is us. We owe it to everything, not just ourselves and our children, to wake up and turn things around.

Every day is Eaarth Day, or it should be. Wake up humanity, or it will be too late.

Generational Differences

This essay was published on Huffington Post, and can be seen here.

When I was a child, we played outside, rode bikes without helmets, we rode in cars without booster seats, and our parents didn’t organize and supervise play dates.

This is a popular meme making the rounds on social media. It’s usually accompanied by a photo of some kid jumping something enormous on a Big Wheel with no helmet, hair flying maniacally, face full of joy. The implication of course is that today’s children are too coddled. The Atlantic just did a big article on this subject (See here). The article was good. It focused on helicopter parents and people who won’t let their children do anything with risk.

But I think it’s a mistake to revere the way things used to be. When I was a child…keep reading by clicking here.

That’s so Gross, Mom

This is how conversations go in our house:

My oldest daughter was singing “Can’t go to bed ’til you’re legally wed, you can’t you’re Sandra DEE!” I said, “You can’t even go to bed after your legally wed. Just don’t go to bed at all. Or wait. You can go to bed after you’ve been wed for ten years.”

“That’s so gross, Mom.”

Then I amended and told her seriously, “Aw well, someday you’ll go to bed. Just don’t do it too soon, and don’t do it with too many people, and use protection.”

“That’s so gross, Mom.”

Then I said, “If you’re with a guy and he says he wants to have sex and you don’t want to have sex, and he says not having sex will cause his penis to shrivel up and fall off, or his testicles will explode, don’t believe it.”

“Wow, Mom. No one would say that. That’s so gross.”

“No. It’s true. It’s been said. But don’t believe it because it’s a lie.” I said this with assurance, just in case she was thinking of believing some lie about a shriveled up man part.

“It sounds fake. I would never believe anything as stupid as that.”

Good thing, daughter of mine.

Multidimensional and Pining

I remind myself of the Laura Linney character in Love Actually. Except not at work. Just her pining. I am oh so boringly pining.

Sometimes my job doesn’t offer all the answers. I don’t like this. I want to be able to help. I get it that it’s not possible to help everyone all the time, but my poor bleeding heart wants to and is disappointed when it can’t.

I don’t want to live in this flat world. I want to live in a multidimensional soft world. I want to go live in a small space among growing things and make the world a better place. I do not want to run and run and run and realize I have gone nowhere. I do not want to wake up on my deathbed and realize it is all gone. How to be present in a world that longs to flatten us?

SOAR: Your Concept of What’s Possible is About to Change

SOAR – Your concept of what’s possible is about to change
By Susan Hess Logeais – Hot Flash Films PDX

Almost two years ago, Melissa St. Clair invited me to Jefferson High School to film a duet she had choreographed for two sisters, Kiera Brinkley and Uriah Boyd. When she’d told me that Kiera was a quadruple amputee, I couldn’t picture what their duet might look like. How would she move let alone dance? But Kiera had a reputation in Portland. Other dance teachers I asked confirmed that she could, in fact, dance. So, camera and tripod in hand, I went to Jefferson to meet Melissa and film them.

It only took Kiera a cartwheel out of her wheel chair and I was a fan. But as the music filled the room and she and Uriah started to dance, my appreciation grew to encompass them both. Yes. Kiera was amazing—fluid, graceful, and so full of heart. And… so was Uriah.

Through my camera ‘s viewfinder, I saw how Uriah’s effortless grace moved the space around her. Everything connected in an endless flow. Watching Kiera, I saw how her movement radiated out from her heart to extend beyond her amputated limbs. Their dance was exuberant and playful. When the music ended I finally exhaled.

As my 2nd camera operator gushed with praise for Kiera, I saw so many things. Kiera would always be remarkable for just being who she is. And yet Uriah would probably receive less praise and attention even though she was equally beautiful and mesmerizing to watch. In so many ways Uriah’s life would be easier than Kiera’s, but growing up in the shadow of a powerful person leaves its mark as well. Perhaps I’m projecting, but as the third child born to a couple with two adopted children, I know what it is to be told you’re special in private and yet not be treated that way in public.

Now, I’ve been watching dance since I was 5-years-old. My life was ballet from age 7 until I turned 18, and the last year of that period was spent studying and performing with the San Francisco Ballet. Even in my mid-50’s I continue to study movement and dance whenever I can. So I consider myself a movement specialist, and when I saw Uriah and Kiera dancing together I knew that Uriah had learned to move using the space around her body from watching her sister’s example. With ease they exude what students in all disciplines of movement spend decades struggling to achieve.

In that moment I knew that I would help them tell their story if they wanted me to— because people needed to see it. They needed to know what is possible when someone gets the love and support he or she needs to challenge potential limitations. People also needed to know that those in a supportive role are equally benefited from their caring.

I’ve cried more than once while editing our footage together. The first time happened as I edited the duet Soar and watched Kiera pour her heart into the dance. Her courage reminded me of humanity’s potential for good. The second time was when I edited Uriah’s interview and she talked about what it was like to be Kiera’s little sister. The depth of her maturity and dedication to her sister surprised me. And although I’d guessed she needed to step away to define herself, I was still touched by her willingness to reveal the pain underlying the decision. Many times I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for having witnessed their lives. There is so much about them both that stirs my heart and fills me with hope.

To be honest, there have also been moments when I questioned what Kiera might be able to do – such as become a nurse – but she has proven me wrong every time. And there have also been long periods of silence. As a mother of two teenagers and a full-time student myself, I had plenty to keep me busy. But I did wonder at times if we would ever see this project through to the end.

Thankfully, we always manage to reconnect and finally we are about to draw our documentary project to a close. I’ll admit the finale is staged—literally, as on the stage of the Newmark Theater here in Portland. I like organizing performances that bring people together in honor of a good cause. This will be my fourth such event and it’s the biggest yet—this time celebrating arts as a way of overcoming adversity.

To cover the costs of the concert and a whole host of other expenses we are crowd funding to raise money. It’s all or nothing with Kickstarter, but I’m realizing that this platform is the future for creative people who want to sell their work directly to the public. The outreach and marketing it involves builds the network to receive a project when it is finally finished. Even still, it feels a lot like jumping off a bridge and hoping your parachute opens.

One thing about getting older—I have more experience of both succeeding and failing and that makes taking risks frightening at times. When I remember that life is a process and I will learn something from everything I do then it gets a little easier. In any case, I am a better person for knowing Kiera and Uriah. My gift to them is directing and producing this documentary so that more people will know these two courageous and beautiful young women.

To learn more, visit the production’s website here.

I’m Boring

My god, I’m such a cliché. I have been so busy with nonsense for weeks and weeks on end, I can’t even remember life with pauses. I don’t want a life running. I like the pauses, but circumstances haven’t worked in my favor.

There is a problem with sliding through life like it’s a giant luge. Time passes more quickly. I don’t want to get to the end yet; I want to experience now and not get whiplash watching it disappear in a blur as I pass it by (could one sentence be filled with more clichés, just like me?).

One consequence of this Speedy Gonzalez existence is the same byproduct I’ve lamented in many posts. No writing here. I have even considered just shutting it down, but even that takes time I don’t want to spend that way. So here I am again, saying nothing and the same thing. BORRRRRING.