Healing What Ails Thee


I haven’t written in a while.

I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The primary complication associated with this disease is that having it increases the risk of developing other autoimmune disorders. It’s a drag on the spirit, because the ways my disease might blossom into other autoimmune dysfunctions is unpredictable, and different from the ways Hashimoto’s will progress in other people.

I’ve been on hypothyroid drugs for about 20 years, but the Hashimoto’s component (which, looking back, I’ve had for most of my adult life) was just diagnosed last summer, when I was experiencing so much muscular/joint pain that I couldn’t walk well or far. And, over the years, I’ve had many “mysterious” health problems that I now understand stemmed from this and not from my “imagination,” as so many physicians like to suggest when they haven’t a clue.


There’s an extremely restrictive diet, initially followed for a month or two, that can help reset the immune system. The disease isn’t cured, but it can help it be better-managed. So, I’ve been following this for a few weeks and keeping up with my regular exercise. I miss my coffee and glass of wine; I miss boiled eggs and popcorn. The diet eliminates dairy, gluten, nuts, beans, a lot of fruits, coffee, cocoa, and any foods from the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers). But families are running for their lives all over the globe. Terrorism, disease, and warfare are daily companions to many; I think I can stick with salmon and an organic salad and do just fine.

The learning curve regarding this has been steep and deep, and it’s tiring in itself, just to educate myself without becoming either tedious to others or overwhelmed by the research. Stress, of course, exacerbates any autoimmune issues, so it’s important not to feel overwhelmed.


Things were going along fairly well, and then, a couple weeks ago, we learned a dairy conglomerate hopes to build an almost-CAFO (concentrated animal feed operation) in our community, near our home, the bike trail, and the river. The owner wants 9000 goats on this farm; a cozy home for 7000 does and 2000 kids. Legally, there would have to be 10k goats to qualify as a CAFO and meet stricter regulations than a mere 9000 goats will demand, although with the loosening of the environmental laws in our state under our current and disastrous state government, it’s all a bit of a sad, hollow laugh.

The farm will send goat milk to a distant Wisconsin town’s cheese factory to create goat cheese for a company owned and managed in California. But our community will deal with the air pollution, groundwater poisoning, road repairs, smells, and the fertilizer production, sending who-knows-what chemicals spewing into our endocrine systems. We have dairy and chicken CAFOs in operation here already.


Unfortunately, the Enbridge Pipeline also runs through our state, and also close to our home. It’s the largest tar sands pipeline in the world; every day 1.2 million barrels of toxic tar sands oil flows through our county, and Enbridge hopes to increase that, with another line, to 2 million barrels a day.


I don’t usually write about these kinds of things; if you’ve read The Daily Round, you know how dearly I love our home, our gardens, the land, and environment. I love the river, and birds, the foxes, and raccoons, and yes, even the mice and squirrels who are also part of our community, as are the trees, wildflowers, and the fish who manage to survive the poison already in the river. We’ve been enjoying eagles flying up and down the river this winter, and have been looking forward to fox kits in April… I worry about having to leave Full Moon Cottage and abandoning all of these companions so I can stay as healthy as I can. I worry about those 9000 goats. No one will know them or love them. They’ll be “production units” and “discontinued” when they’re no longer capable of lactation. I worry about the world we are becoming.


No one needs to cram 9000 goats onto a bit of acreage. The universe doesn’t need that much overpriced goat cheese. I don’t understand how anyone can continue to willfully destroy the earth so rapaciously, when we’re told, over and over and over what this is doing to our atmosphere, air, resources, and quality of life. It doesn’t matter to me how “green” the technology will be; the earth is better off without it altogether. Small farms, sustainable living (within our means), community welfare, and an environment that doesn’t destroy our immune systems make so much more sense.


Greed alone is driving the frightening, rapid increase of factory farms. And in our state, as in the greater world, greed is always connected to wealth and power. How to respond?


Well, a merry little band of activists is creating itself and working, researching, learning, and planning to mount an opposition. Full Moon Cottage will be welcoming some of them here tomorrow…it’s not the usual way one celebrates Valentine’s Day, but if we are to heal ourselves and our world, it’s a grand way to start.


Blessings on your Valentine’s Day. I hope that when you list your loves, your name is on the list. May you be gifted with any healing you are seeking, and may you be the healer you’ve come to be.



© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

The Gift of Water

March icicles 001Snow, ice, fog, and rain: within a week’s time, we’ll experience all of these in massive doses: March in Wisconsin. The juxtaposition of winter and spring is marked and remarkable, and painted with water in all her varied media.

Two days ago, we received 8 more inches of snow and today, icicles are melting and birds are again energetically singing their spring songs. Rain is forecast for the weekend, and snow returns on Monday. After a long season of drought last year, we’re very grateful for water in any form, as well as the music, smells, and images each form creates.

March snow 011

Titmice, snow, cats, chili, snow 008

Titmice, snow, cats, chili, snow 013

DSCF0234I’ve been contemplating the gift of water these past few weeks. Turn the handle of the faucet and out comes water fit to drink, or bathe, or clean our food, or wash our clothes. The quality and availability of fresh water is a gift to be treasured and conserved.

Our state is bordered by two Great Lakes, including Superior, the largest fresh water body on earth. Just south of Lake Superior is the Penokee Range, which runs southwest from the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan to southeast Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

A 22-mile iron ore vein runs through this range, and was mined with shaft-mines from 1868 until 1965, when they were closed, due to the advent of the cheaper open-pit mines, such as those in Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range and Michigan’s Marquette Iron Range. The competition from inexpensive foreign ores also contributed to the closing of the shaft mines. Wisconsin became, over the next several decades a leader in environmental protection, nationally and at home, creating stringent laws to ensure our precious resources would be safeguarded for generations. Or so we believed.

Titmice, snow, cats, chili, snow 002Running along the surface of the Penokee Range, for example, are lakes, trout streams and the head waters of many rivers. Downstream is the Bad River watershed and the reservation of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The Bad River watershed contains 40% of all the wetlands in the Lake Superior watershed.

This land provides essential habitats for bald eagles, wolves, plants, songbirds, fish, and humans, and is regarded as some of the most environmentally-sensitive land in the state.

Snow-walk with Riley and Clancy 042The current Republican majority in our state government have chosen to prostitute the Penokee Range, however, selling it to Gogebic Taconite (a subsidiary of The Cline Group owned by billionaire Christopher Cline, and headquartered in Florida. His mining operations in Illinois have pillaged and polluted the land and water.)

Our noble politicians rushed a bill through the legislature, holding only one, brief, public hearing, that allows this corporation—one of the nation’s largest mining companies—almost free reign in destroying the land, the habitats, and the groundwater, so it might extract taconite, at great profit to Mr. Cline, called “New King Coal” by Bloomberg.

Long-standing and environmentally-sound mining laws have been re-written by our current legislature so Chris Cline can hurry up and start extracting taconite; he’s paid for these exemptions, after all.

I don’t know how much more abuse our mother earth can take, and it saddens me, deeply, that the state I was once so proud to call home will be complicit in her further destruction. The legislature is calling it a “job-creator,” but I’m not sure people will want to work in a place where the land and water are poisoned.

icecicle drips 056Perhaps it could be the Republican version of a tourist attraction, to replace the one they’ve destroyed. Come one; come all! See the largest open pit mine in the world!

But don’t drink the water.


© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

A Separate Kingdom

The sudden warmth and recent rains fed the mycelia of several fungi, their “fruit” decorating the earth and trees along the trail.

It seemed the trees, stripped of their leaves, had donned sweaters and waistcoats, using the various fungi as buttons. Or maybe the fungi are badges of honor awarded the trees for surviving the summer’s drought.

This one looked like a trumpet, playing music from another world, or perhaps an ear for whispering one’s secrets to the fairies…

The truth-according-to-Western-science tells us fungi are neither animal nor plant, though closer kin to animals, having separated from animal origins and pursued their unique evolutionary path some 500 million years ago. They have been accorded their own scientific classification kingdom, separate from plants, animals, archaebacteria, eubacteria, and protists. A fungus can be microscopic or develop into an organism covering thousands of acres (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-largest-organism-is-fungus).

Fungi break down the world and continually recycle her matter; they may be perceived as beneficial or destructive, offering a “Shiva” kind of energy for our world. Without fungi, we’d lack wine, beer, cheese and yeast breads, many medicines, drugs, and, of course, the ability to live on the planet. But they can also poison us and destroy plants and other animals we value.

They remind me of Good Witch Glinda’s question to Dorothy: Are you a good fungus or a bad fungus?

Perhaps, as with people, and that other unique kingdom known as “political candidates,” whether the answer is “good” or “bad” depends upon one’s perspective.

The temperature has dipped; cold winds do blow, and the fungi fruit has already withered and blackened.

Locally, that other kingdom’s inhabitants, the political candidates, are still very active, though I expect their noise and presence to recede, somewhat, by November 7th.

Happy Full Moon; peace and safety to all life along the hurricane’s path; and may the spirits of Halloween bless you with sweet surprises!


© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Losing Home

The recall enables the people to dismiss from public service those representatives who dishonor their commissions by betraying the public interest.  ~ Robert La Follette

For the last year and half, my state has been flooded with negative energy and anxiety regarding our political leadership. Regardless of the leadership favored, one couldn’t escape the discord and angry rhetoric, which, of course, has become increasingly perpetuated and repeated in robo-calls and divisive television advertising as the recall election date has approached.

Tomorrow’s recall election represents a struggle some feel (and I believe) is between outside wealth and Tea Party extremists dictating what happens in our lives, and having a state government that’s localized, encouraged by our voices, focused upon our land management, workers’ rights, quality of education and other issues germane to this state, its people, and its resources, both natural and economic.

I’ve engaged in this struggle by attending rallies and informational meetings, canvassing for my candidates, posting links, and sharing with other concerned voters. I’ve donated my time and what little money I could afford to support those candidates I believe will re-establish our integrity, and I’ve spent a lot of time in silence, discharging negative energy and becoming re-centered.

It’s been emotionally challenging and, at times, greatly dispiriting. I’ve been politically active since I was in high school, but I’ve never been so attached to a political outcome as I am to this one, nor so worried about my state’s and family’s direction and choices if the present governor remains in office. Wisconsin looks no place like home anymore, and it’s breaking my heart.

You would have to know some of the history of my state to understand my responses to the relatively recent and abrupt changes the current governor has enacted. For example, I’ve always been proud that John Muir spent his formative years in Wisconsin, and that Aldo Leopold’s belief in nature conservancy and environmental protection came to fruition during his years as a professor at the University of Wisconsin and during his time at his home in Sauk County, writing A Sand County Almanac. Senator Gaylord Nelson launched the nationally-observed Earth Day while serving as our state senator.

Now, we have a state government inviting mining corporations to write their own environmental negligence into law just to “provide jobs,” while satisfying their greed and destroying our resources, as well as breaking our treaty agreements with native tribes and entirely discounting their voice at the table.

In 1911, Wisconsin was the first state to legislate a Workers’ Compensation Act. In 1932, unemployment compensation was enacted in our state, and in 1937, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Act was passed, adding critical state support to workers’ right to organize.

Now, we have a state government that has destroyed collective bargaining rights, broken union strength and protections, and is encouraging, even laying the groundwork for, the transition of Wisconsin to a right-to-work state.

For over 30 years, following the brief, dangerous misery known as Joseph McCarthy, William Proxmire served as our state senator, refusing campaign contributions for his last two terms, and earning well-deserved fame for exposing government waste, especially in regards to military spending, through his Golden Fleece Awards.

Now, we have a governor who has raised almost $31 million in campaign contributions, largely from out of state PACS funded by millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers, with specific and special-interest agendas. How many hours of non-stop negative advertising and lies do you think this has spawned? His challenger has raised under $4 million, in much smaller increments, and almost all of it from in-state donors. (http://www.wisdc.org/)

Wisconsin was home to “Fighting Bob LaFollette,” who, as a U.S. senator, advocated progressive reforms like child labor laws, social security, and women’s suffrage, and lived from a moral center that led him to protect the rights of the voiceless when others preferred feeding the personal greed of a ruling elite.

Now, we have a governor with an immense legal defense fund (that grew by $100,000.00 just this past month), who advocates secrecy votes and who misrepresented his goals when he ran for the office of governor. Only later was he clearly exposed as a pawn of corporate interests and out-of-state power centers. He has repealed the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act.

Once, and for decades, our state ranked near the top of the country for the quality of the public education provided for its students.

Now, we have underfunded schools, overcrowded classrooms, and a state government that participates in and encourages the vilification of teachers. Many of our seasoned and most talented teachers have taken early retirements to ensure they’ll receive even part of the retirement benefits they were promised and worked for these past thirty years or more. I worked as a teacher and I was a good one, but not the first year, or the second…it takes time to manage a classroom and the flow of lessons, to enhance and enrich them and to become sensitive to the energetic currents in a classroom. We’ve lost a lot of depth in our classrooms these past two years.

These are just a few of the reasons I’ve been involved in the recall effort and care deeply about the results. Decades of environmental, employment, and educational progress, reforms and protections are disappearing, rapidly. The place we’ve called home is disappearing.

And still, after all of these lies, and power-grabs, and repeals, and reversals, there are people who refuse to participate. I met a woman yesterday who told me, “I just don’t vote, usually…I wait and see what my neighbor says and does, and then I might do what she does…” She laughed as she told me this; expecting what? That I would join in her merriment, tickled by the rampant vacuity of someone surrendering her power so blithely?

Here’s the thing: I haven’t undertaken canvassing door-to-door because it’s a keen source of enjoyment or even self-satisfying. I haven’t donated time and money because I had nothing better to do or money to burn (hardly that). I haven’t read countless articles, listened to debates, watched informational programs and asked questions because it wouldn’t have been more fun to read a book, take a nap, or watch a mindless movie…And I’ve done very little compared to countless people who have given most of their energy to the recall election for months and months and months. But this is (or used to be) a democracy: of, by, and for the people. If we’re not involved, if we’re not self-monitoring and paying attention, and participating, then we’ll lose rights, and quickly. And if we don’t question the smiling lies, and legal defense funds, and out-of-state money pouring in by the millions, then we’ll get the government we deserve. Run by special interests and serving them, not us.

Our votes absolutely have power, whether we use them or not, but perhaps not the power we would have preferred, in retrospection. Power corrupts in the hands of those more focused on personal gain than the welfare of all. And all it takes for the corrupt to rule is for good people to sit back and do nothing.

If home is where the heart is, where is home for a heart that’s broken? I want my heart healed and my home back, starting tomorrow.


© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.




Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire. ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin                                   

Tomorrow we celebrate the Spring Equinox, a day of equal light and darkness, a lovely metaphor and invitation to reflect upon the balance in our lives, and certainly, the equinox may serve as a portal leading to the new life granted us by spring.

I’ve been pondering these words “new life” a lot the past few months, in light of the physical and spiritual shifts in my own life; the choices Phillip and I have made to pursue a life marked by greater simplicity, earnest dedication to using our gifts, and tending to being present, but also in terms of the political climate of my state, and country, and energies shifting throughout the world. We’re running on fuel that’s depleted—in every way possible—and at a pace that doesn’t allow for reflection or peace. The energy seems to be shifting and our future as a species seems deservedly precarious. Quo vadimus?

New life implies more to me than “the same old thing, but one more time.” Rather, it connotes a path, or method, or being that is evolved, a genetic sport, a surprising new synthesis that is now possible and which just a year, or month, or day ago may have been perceived only through a glass, darkly, or not at all. Serendipity and synchronicity are involved in this new life’s revelation, but so are hard work, paying attention, and listening.

And it involves a great deal of dying and acceptance. Joseph Campbell, discussing Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History (1934), writes:

In his six-volume study of the laws of the rise and disintegration of civilizations, [Toynbee believes that] schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme to return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to wield together again the deteriorating elements. Only birth can conquer death—the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be—if we are to experience long survival—a continuous “recurrence of birth” (palingenesia) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. ~ The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949)

In our current political climate, I think we see those who, possibly out of their great fear that vital patterns of human interaction are changing (and must), resist the threats these calls to new life pose and seek to return to a time they imagine actually existed and has passed–when men (i.e., Caucasian men) were men and women were invisible. When education was readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic, taught by low(er)-paid drones. When the earth was an endless resource to be infinitely plundered. When aggression and domination were impulses lauded and given free reign over the “inferior others” (those unlike us), and when all these things could be validated by and receive the imprimatur of those who form the hierarchies of belief systems we value (over yours).

That dog don’t hunt no more, folks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that dog led to the 1960’s—Civil Rights? Vatican II? The EPA? Unions? Earth Day? We should be evolving beyond these wonderful human achievements, not regressing to a mind state prior to their birth.

Regression is natural and can be a very healthy response to change; we want to “go home,” to safety and a time when  the parental figures—mature adults—handled all the world’s problems, choices, decisions and stress. Perhaps a healthier way to allow for this is to grant ourselves peace, quiet, reflection, meditation, and engagement with creativity every day. Hang out in our center, re-charge, and then re-engage as the mature adults we are called upon to be, now.

And, as Toynbee indicates, time spent cobbling together and mending those failing patterns and institutions we currently have, is also wasted energy. Let them die. Rumi said this better:


Inside this new love, die. Your way begins on the other side. Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape. Walk out like someone suddenly born into color. Do it now. You’re covered with thick cloud. Slide out the side. Die, and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you’ve died. Your old life was a frantic running from silence. The speechless full moon comes out now.

(From The Essential Rumitranslation by Coleman Barks, with John Moyne, published by Harper Collins)

I like that Rumi says, “Do it now;” Toynbee also wrote that generating pie-in-the-sky visions of a perfect future is also wasting energy. It absolves us of doing too much to effect change while we can and should, and the time has run out for “dream and avoid” behavior.

Check this out: http://www.worldometers.info/ The times they are a-changin’, and what we do with our time, our money, our gifts, our relationships, and our interactions with everything on earth matters more than it ever has, and quite possibly more than it may ever have the chance to exceed.

We have witnessed many examples of humans who have called us to be the changes the earth and all creation need to “nullify the unremitting recurrences of death.” (I would use the word “balance” rather than nullify; I think a rejection and fear of death got us exactly where we are: what if we accepted it instead as life’s necessary partner?)

These human genetic sports, avatars, and prophets were often recognized as such, and disturbed their times and societies, divisively generating both revolutionary enthusiasm in those consciences with which they resonated (usually the have-nots) and fear in those who sensed a challenge to their power and control. We’ve often rejected or destroyed these teachers in their own time and later built boxes and institutions around their teachings, freezing them in perpetuity, adapting them to our egoic comfort, and persistently rejecting the real challenges these human gifts among us represented and offered.

I welcome the balance spring calls me to establish and honor in my life. I welcome the new life, both the familiar and the unknown. I fear the deaths necessary to allow this new life to emerge and grow, but I welcome them anyway, because I’m in the good company of 7 billion–and counting–other precious souls. I’m grateful for the chance to serve as midwife to new life with everyone else on the planet. Together, we can harness the energies of love and create the palingenesia our sweet world needs to renew herself.

I truly believe in what St. Therese called the “Little Way;” every day we each have so many opportunities to change the patterns of interaction we’ve accepted and followed without reflection. Here’s a video that demonstrates how such patterns can change. I especially like that this example involves young women, because of my hope that humans may soon honor and balance the way our feminine natures (and we all have them) can complement our male gifts. We can be strong in our compassion and powerful in our ability to unite.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSQf9ZbSDHE&sns=fb

And here’s a link to a video I love. I think we can never take ourselves too lightly, and it also serves to remind me that the only person I can change is myself. (A mental “Stop it!” works…and makes me laugh.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYLMTvxOaeE


© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Tipping Points

A year ago this weekend, my husband and I attended a rally in Madison to protest changes made by our then-new governor and a state government whose Republican majority supported him. That Governor Walker won the election with only a 52% majority perhaps foretold the divisiveness to come, but I don’t think many of us anticipated the cataclysmic changes or acrimonious conflicts ahead.

Over the past year, the elimination of collective bargaining rights for public sector employees (with the exception of police and fire fighters), the draconian cuts to public school funding (in the neighborhood of 900 million dollars), the implementation of voter identification requirements, and dozens of other measures taken to ostensibly “manage the money” of our state, have split its people and created an atmosphere of such vitriol and mistrust that friends and families have parted company and once-strong professional alliances have broken beyond repair.

Whatever merit existed in these changes and whatever “good” they have contributed to the state budget, they have come at too great a cost to the spirit and people of the place I have called home most of my life. I continue to protest the manner in which these changes have been enacted and I am anguished by the attitudes of disrespect and indifference with which those in the majority have flouted their power. But I am equally affronted by much of the oppositions’ language and inability to focus on policy rather than the individuals with whom they disagree.

Over a million signatures—540,208 were required–were collected to force a recall election of Governor Walker and his lieutenant governor, and other signatures have ensured the potential recall of other state legislators, including our own district’s senator, the majority leader of the state senate.

These recall elections will take place within the next few months. I’ve joined thousands of others in supporting the recall elections, but I dread the anger, distortions, and noise the campaign advertising will likely spew and the bitterness they will engender. My conscience led me to protest the choices and to participate in what I felt were just actions to stop those in power from creating further damage, but I’m so disappointed it’s come to this, and I’ve tried to proceed cautiously. I want to remain hopeful regarding the outcome.

What continue to sadden and perplex me are the perceived and dangerous changes in our degrees of dialogue, courtesy, and compromise that have shadowed this entire process, a reflection of the larger national shifts in political and social discourse, and in the sensationalized way they are presented and reported by our media.

I wonder a lot these days about lines that are drawn with humorous intent that then becomes sarcastic, then cynical, and then hate-fueled…when do these lines become too dangerous to cross? When do they become walls?

At what point do words incite action and then violent action? Are there a given number of rally cries, or decibels, that convert a crowd into a mob? When does a discussion become an argument and an argument a war? When does a perceived threat overtake reason?

What creates the necessary energy to make me forget my connection to everyone in my community and align myself with only those who think as I do?

What, finally and irreversibly, causes us to see each other as enemy? 

When did some Germans, or Poles, or Hungarians look at their Jewish neighbors and begin to see them as expendable? And how did “some” become “more” and then “enough?” What shift allowed Rwandan Hutus to pick up axes, and knives, and spears to murder their lifelong Tutsi neighbors? How could the English elite turn away from my own ancestors’ starvation? How could they ignore Irish people eating dirt and families dying in fields? How could anyone ever consider anyone else his property? How were the United States shaped by justifying the destruction of those who were already settled here? Is it possible to freeze the moment when my vision alters, my self-awareness fades, and my heart turns?

We’re always walking on see-saws and there are tipping points everywhere.

People read historical accounts of human atrocities and shake their heads. How did that happen; what were they thinking; how could they allow it? But I doubt those living into such times conceived what they would become. We must always be aware of our words and their power, our energy and what it can harness, our shadow and where its neglect may lead us.

The usual suspects: greed, power, fear and ignorance are like liquid mercury, and only mindful attention to the direction they’re flowing and ways they’re joining forces—within and without–works in our favor. So we must slow down. See the human frailty in ourselves and the other. Be brave enough and energetic enough to counter injustice before it overwhelms.

We must never be willing to sit back in silence when there are people and governments who must be held accountable for their behavior, but we have to focus on the behavior, the flawed thinking, the likely damage, not engage in hating the individuals. And we must be willing to take a long and penetrating look at our own motives and behavior. Make apologies when necessary. Proceed with care.

Begin and end with love.

 A news program I admire for its maturity and impartiality is The News Hour on PBS; an added attraction is that women guests, reporters, and newscasters are as prominent as men. I especially enjoy David Brooks and Mark Shields for their respectful way of presenting opposing views: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/indepth_coverage/politics/political_wrap/


© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.



A Robin in Winter

There is no one who better challenges my complacent acceptance, denial, and avoidance of reality than Bill Moyers. I love and fear his work equally, because it often, initially, flattens my spirit and leaves me with a feeling of despair: All is lost; civilization, as an experiment, has failed. We’re doomed. Of course, that’s not his intent, but he articulates so forcefully and shines the light of truth upon injustice so brilliantly that there’s no denying we must change, but I’m never exactly certain how…What are the precise steps we must take? When all the money and power are in the hands of so few, what should and can I do?

Moyers’ new program, Moyers and Company. Premiered last week, with this program: http://billmoyers.com/episode/on-winner-take-all-politics/. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It may confirm what you already know, but it certainly elucidates, clearly and compellingly, the inequities our country tolerates and must not, if it is to survive as a democratic republic.

 I loved it, and felt the old, familiar “Moyerian flattening” as it concluded. The guests, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, stressed that their indictment of the corporate control of America and the alarming escalation of the transference and concentration of our country’s power and wealth to the hands of a few, over the past 30 years, should not leave us depressed, but hopeful. Knowledge is power and knowing this, we can change it.

But I didn’t feel hopeful; I felt tiny, powerless, and victimized.

 I’ve been reflecting on it ever since; setting it aside, picking it up…the usual Moyerian response.

 This morning I felt in need of a reprieve. The daily round began with an early hike down the trail with my 4-legged companions, and we were rewarded with a surfeit of the rare and charmed meetings that a winter dawn can bring.

 Our fox, as I’ve come to think of him, paraded along the riverbank, his bushy tail high in the air and his aura of solitary self-contentment apparently shielding him from detection by Clancy and Riley. They were so intently monitoring the Canada geese on the other side of the bridge that they didn’t even see Mr. Fox, and for that, I was grateful. Reigning in 120 pounds of canine is a bit much at the best of times; on a slippery winter bridge it presents more complicated physics than I’m prepared to calculate or perform. Happily, we crossed the bridge peacefully and trudged along as Mr. Fox pranced out of sight.

 The snow glittered and mirrored the soft colors of the sunrise, a chickadee chorus countered the crows, and our spirits gradually hushed as we walked deeper into the woods. There are farmers’ paths that cut across the trail in various places, and as we approached one of these, three young deer crossed, paused, looked into our eyes, and then leapt away, unearthly dancers defying gravity. Clancy and Riley were initially too stunned to give chase. The three of us froze in place, statues marking the place where a holy encounter with wildness had occurred. Their instinctive urge to pursue kicked in just as I tightened my grip on their leashes, allowing them to pull and sniff as the deer bounded into the woods as fast as light, and away.

 I distracted Riley and Clancy with a treat—a cheap but effective trick, I admit—and the walk continued. The scent of other forms of wildlife who had preceded us along the trail kept them merrily sniffing and tracking till we reached our turning place and headed back home, and it was then that we had our most surprising encounter of the morning: a huge flock of robins sat in a grove of ash trees on the northwest side of the trail, their red breasts catching and flashing back the morning light.

 I understand that robins frequently remain in my part of Wisconsin during the winter, but in my 15 years of walking the trail I have rarely seen them, let alone such a large flock.

The first robin-sighting in the spring bathes my spirit in hope: Another winter has been endured and new life is rewarding us once again. I felt that same hope rising and settling unexpectedly in my heart today, but with greater contrast, clarity, and depth than when discovering the first robin in spring

 A robin in winter seems to more powerfully incite hope against overwhelming odds.

Last week’s news that enough signatures had been collected to initiate recall elections of our state’s governor and lieutenant governor and my district’s state senator, is both welcome and exciting. Although the recalls may fail, the fact that groups of citizens have challenged the powers-that-be and joined forces to stimulate change is heartening. Long before Occupy Wall Street, Wisconsinites were occupying Madison, and now, a year later, it’s encouraging to see that energy rewarded, although clearly a lot of work remains for those desiring change.

 But I don’t believe replacing a Republican with a Democrat is nearly enough to improve my district, state, country, or the world Bill Moyer’s program has once again defined for me. Civilization seems too near some cataclysmic edge for insubstantial back-and-forth changes to satisfy the authentic needs of our hearts and spirits.

It seems that true evolutionary change is called for when power and wealth are so limited and concentrated, and such little good comes of it. We have to relate differently, expect different outcomes, imagine different futures, and do so with mutual respect, open dialogue, and at tables where all are welcome. I don’t think it can happen without the non-cooperation, peaceful resistance, and non-violence others have employed to create changes once considered impossible.

 An obvious but clear connection to the robin in winter is Martin Luther King, whose legacy is celebrated nationally on this day. His own inspiration was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was in turn inspired by such people as Plato, Thoreau, and Tolstoy…and behind and surrounding all of these men were equally inspiring women and other role models, of that I have no doubt.

 There have always been people who have served as voices of hope when darkness is all most of us can see. And the thousands of nameless followers and supporters who worked to effect the changes we associate with “Gandhi,” “King,” and others, have also—always—been necessary agents of social, environmental, spiritual, and institutional evolution, along with their charismatic leaders.

It isn’t enough to write this, though, and then sit around waiting for a Gandhi or King we-who-are-sitting-and-waiting can support. I think the gift and the challenge is to be the robin in winter for ourselves, and in our relationships, dialogues, writing, choices, and actions.

 We have to be hope.

 We have to avoid demonizing those with whom we disagree, because de-humanizing them changes nothing and robs us of our own humanity and capacity for compassion. We have to steer clear of the traps and deeply rutted paths of ego; question everything, but respectfully; keep our eyes on justice and avoid engagement in judgment. We have to risk discomfort because it’s worth it, if our embarrassment or missteps help to create a better way of forming relationship and community. We have to trust that setbacks are temporary, whether we outlive them or not; evolution happens and we can hasten it with our hope.

 Emily Dickinson wrote:

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune–without the words,

And never stops at all…

 Robins in winter remind us that startling encounters, whether with Bill Moyers’ programs or the wildness within and without, are always gifts, and can lead us to face life and the changes it demands of us, with hope, breathing hope, and being hope.


© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.


Recall and Kitchen Wisdom: Creating a Table Where all are Welcome

The one area of domestic creativity that has intrigued me from an early age has been anything connected to cooking and baking. My mother was very capable in the kitchen, but didn’t enjoy her time there; I speculate this was largely because producing family meals day in and day out without much of a break became a dull routine. I recall her deep pleasure in my father’s midlife interest in gourmet cooking, and the way it freed up her weekends so she could relax and enjoy time away from the kitchen.

One glorious Christmas, Santa brought me an Easy-Bake Oven, with its miniature stove, pans, utensils, and boxed mixes. It conjured little layer cakes, muffins, and quick breads through the magical heat of a light bulb. It entertained me and kept my brothers content for a few minutes after the Lilliputian cakes were frosted, but I soon tired of putzing around on such a small scale: I wanted to enter the arena of the real kitchen and manipulate the enchantment of chemistry on a grander and more sophisticated stage.

My mother was only too happy to encourage this, and I am eternally grateful for the trust and freedom she granted me as she left the room with her own pile of books and a sigh of contentment.

Her list of rules was brief. She expected me to clean up whatever mess I created, which I thought a fair exchange for the pleasure provided, for creation—both the birth and death necessary for it to occur—is a messy affair indeed. She also asked that I share my results with my brothers, which taught me that while indulging one’s creativity is vital, the sharing of one’s creation, art, and self is the purpose.

I’ve been pondering these lessons lately, as I return to the kitchen with the great excitement of holiday baking adventures, new recipes, and family gatherings tantalizing my imagination. I love all the seasons, but there is none better for me than that grand culinary and guest-welcoming stretch of the calendar year between October and January. Friends, family, food and its accompaniments: what’s better? Imagining how this or that creation will please someone we love is a lovely impetus for our artistic endeavors.

And so, in the kitchen, I still create wildly and clean the mess as I go along, and I still—mostly—share what I create. I’ve been wondering lately, though, if I apply these rules as wisely to the rest of my pursuits in the grander and more sophisticated arena of life outside of my kitchen.

It is no secret that Wisconsin, the state where I have lived most of my life, is experiencing a political crisis and that divisive laws, choices, and use of power have been more in evidence this past year. We are living through an intensely concentrated and tempestuous version of the larger international and national socio-political chaos that is the hallmark of our time, and there are days I can enter the fray with energy and clear vision, and others, when I desire silence, peace, and a Canadian refuge. Life and choices are not black and white, as they were when I was younger; they are rather a formless gray and we are invited, especially in a representative democracy (if we truly are that anymore), to co-create our society’s shapes and patterns, institutions and laws, taxes and their use…and we are expected to participate fully in the operation and integrity of these systems, ensuring that our creation is fashioned to include and honor everyone justly.

I am filled with doubt when asked to support an “us/them” mentality, and yet the divisions between the opposing political worldviews seem more and more distinct, and I am increasingly unable to perceive enough common ground where I may stand and hold hands with those on either side of the arguments. I am concerned that all of us are creating messes without attending to them and have no well-formulated plan for how our new creations will be shared among all the state’s, or country’s, or world’s residents, including the non-human.

I fear we may act without forethought, fueled by anger and reactive impulses rather than reason and compassion. How will we reconstitute the relationships we are dissolving and repair the connections we have destroyed? How will those we oppose be invited to contribute their gifts if we become the party in power? How are we living into the change we desire?

It seems the earth is straining more violently these days, and the hope flickering at my core is that these are birth pangs as well as death cries, and that the spirit of love is present, working earnestly to help us midwife a time of greater peace and equity among all earth-dwellers. I can’t go on without such hope, despite the preponderant evidence that we never, really, learn how to accept and love the stranger.

Hate is a dangerous fuel, energizing and strengthening a journey of division. It can change the faces of power without altering the balance. Discord is not a reliable or sustainable diet. And I cannot be fooled into believing myself, and therefore my pursuits and methods, any less selfish and partisan than those with whom I disagree. Listening, reflection, and circumspection are more important practices than ever.

I’m trying a new recipe today and as excited as ever about creating something new and sharing it with those I love.

Tomorrow I will sign a petition that seeks to recall our current governor.

May we proceed cautiously and with mindfulness regarding the energetic sources that inspire and motivate us; may we take time to tend to our messes as we go along; and may we finally create a life-giving system for governance served at a table where all are welcome and all are fed.


© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.