Spiritual Practice: Finding Your Tribe

backlit dawn foggy friendship

When I say tribe, I’m not referring to a group of people you were born into, as in a Native American tribe, but in the popular understanding of the word: a distinctive or close-knit group, a group of kindred spirits, people you feel safe with.

Sadly, these are not always the same people as the tribe you were born into, though it is for some lucky folks. Also, your tribe will change over time depending on where you live, work, play and grow as a person. Sometimes, a change in beliefs or political understanding will move you from one tribe to another. Sometimes a job promotion or increase/decrease in your standard of living will propel you from one group to another.

The important thing is, we all need a tribe — people that “get us,” people that are safe. I recently met a young woman who had developed a great group of friends. Later, something happened that showed her they were not her tribe. They betrayed her deeply and gossiped horribly about her. She was devastated and is now having trouble trusting anyone else. That is a hard thing; betrayals can stick with us causing us to withdraw and put up walls of protection around our hearts.

My husband and I went through a tribe change when we started standing with the LGBTQ community. Our faith tribe, some family members, and many friends could not understand this decision and we felt exiled from that tribe. It was a very painful thing. But it was also freeing. We had been tiptoeing around on eggshells, trying to avoid rocking the boat in our tribe, and when we left, we could walk more freely. Suddenly, it was as if we could breathe, we could be ourselves, and we could advocate for justice. We remained close to many of our longtime friends, but it felt as if our tribal allegiance had undergone a seismic shift. Eventually, we found likeminded people with whom we could be more candid with about topics that were previously difficult to discuss. It took a while but we are now enjoying exploring a new tribal identity.

 

photo of a person wearing printed crew neck t shirt

How do you find a tribe?

  1. Look for people who might have the same interests as you. Perhaps in a church, community organizing group, book club, hiking group or political action group.
  2. Look for people you feel comfortable around.
  3. Try sharing a bit of yourself and see how that part of you is handled by others in the group. Are you welcomed or held at a distance?
  4. Not everyone you meet will fall into the category of tribe-worthy. We all have friends, acquaintances, and family members that we love, but that does not automatically make them part of your tribe. Don’t put all your energy into forming a tribe at work. Jobs can disappear and your tribe along with them.

Why do we need a tribe? Life is hard, and we are all busy. Having a small group of people you can be yourself with is important. You don’t have to agree on everything to be part of a tribe. The best tribes can challenge and disagree but continue to love and be connected. The best tribes can bring in new ideas and expose each member to new things. But tribes don’t just happen, they need to be cultivated. Meeting with people regularly is the only way to develop a tribe. Weekly or monthly gatherings, dinners, or any event where you can talk deeply with one another can lead to a tribe. You must take risks to form a tribe. Tribes can be healing. As we share our pain in the safety of a tribe, we can heal.

five women laughing

When we left our former tribe, we started a new one called “Shalom.” It was to be a place of healing for people from the LGBTQ family who had been hurt by the church. This became a tribe of safety and love, but it took over a year before we could all trust each other. After five years we officially dissolved the group, not because anything bad had happened, but because it had met its purpose. Everyone in Shalom, including us, had found safety and healing, and life had gotten better and busier for everyone. Everyone agreed it was time to stop our meetings which had gone from weekly for three years, to monthly for the last two. We will still be friends, but it was time to let the tribe scatter.

How do you know it’s time to move on from a tribe? Sometimes it is just natural as life and priorities change. But tribes can also become toxic, as what happened to the young woman I mentioned. If there is gossip, lying, or intolerance of who you are, it might be time to leave. If you find yourself avoiding the folks in your tribe, you might need to reevaluate. A tribe is somewhere you are not just tolerated, but celebrated.

Do you have a tribe? How did you find it? Have you ever had to switch tribes? I’d love to hear your stories.

 

 

Photos: Top pic 

Man in shirt pic

Women laughing pic

 

Spiritual Practices: Archetypes — The Sovereign

close up portrait of lion
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are continuing our study of archetypes as a spiritual practice through the book, Illuminating the Way, by Christine Valters Paintner. You’re welcome to get the book and follow along, or just enjoy the blog and comments. This week we are in the second chapter, the archetype of The Sovereign.

To review from my last blog, Archetypes are “instinctual and universal patterns of thought developed in human beings over thousands of years.” (pg. xi) And this week we look at The Sovereign: “Sovereignty is about being centered in your own power and taking full responsibility for meeting your needs.“ (pg. 20)

This archetype was harder for me to relate to than The Fool. There is a bit of “learned helplessness” in my life based on my family of origin issues, so the idea of coming into my own power feels like a shirt that doesn’t fit comfortably. Also, having been happily married for thirty-five years has meant that there is another person involved in meeting my needs; he is a wonderful man who loves to help me. So…what does it mean for me to embrace my inner Sovereign?

I love the idea of birthright. It is the idea we were divinely gifted with certain unique skills, gifts, and talents with which we can bless the world. In fact, I wrote my first book series, The Birthright Series, around that idea.

But, Valters suggest that The Sovereign might be a midlife archetype as it takes a long time to come into your wisdom enough to know your place in the world. This is something I’m still trying to figure out. For me, finding my place in the world is not a linear process, but a spiral I keep coming back to as my life continues to evolve and change. Who I was, in my last big understanding of myself, had to be deconstructed so that I could figure out who I am now — and how to use my wisdom and power to create safe spaces for others. It is an ongoing process that I’m still working on.

king david

My other issue with this chapter was Valters’ use of the icon of King David from the Hebrew scriptures. David had a lot of good qualities: He was a shepherd, a poet, a singer, a dancer with joy (channeling his inner Fool); he was brave against Goliath, and he wrote great Psalms. And, he was also a murderer, a rapist (In my opinion Bathsheba had no ability to say no to a King, and he used his power and privilege against her. You’re welcome to debate that in the comment section). He was a terrible parent, a serial adulterer, etc. So,  I had some baggage to get through when Valters asked us to imagine spending time in his presence. But even that was a graced encounter for me.

I imagined kneeling before him (he was the King after all) and he put his hand on my head and said, “Forgive me.”

I used to work with college students and take them to a week-long camp. There we studied the New Testament book of Mark and eventually got to the story of the woman with a flow of blood (Mark 5:25–34). One intriguing part of this story involves the woman telling Jesus her “whole story.” Since it is recorded in Mark that she’d been bleeding for twelve years and exhausted all her money on doctors, I assume that was a LONG story. We all have LONG stories of pain and suffering. After studying this passage, we gave the students the opportunity to tell their “whole story.” This story-telling often went on until two a.m. One year my male co-leader, after hearing so many women share their stories of sexual abuse, got on his knees and asked the womens’ forgiveness on behalf of all men who had harmed them. It was a powerful moment. He had done nothing to any of us, yet he was willing to stand in the gap for the men that had done harm and ask forgiveness. It was an incredibly healing experience. I felt that power of The Sovereign again when, in my imagination, I saw King David ask my forgiveness. Sovereignty is about owning up to your choices, including your mistakes, and using your power to heal and to bless the world. Now that is something I can try to live into.

The shadow side of The Sovereign is getting caught up in power for the sake of power and misusing it. We certainly see too much of that in today’s world. But another way the shadow reveals itself is in becoming a martyr and not taking responsibility for caring for our own needs, often while resenting those that try to help us. As an Enneagram Two, that is something where I need to be careful. I could easily live in martyrdom and I’m sure I have in the past.

I love the idea that “Sovereigns create safe and healthy spaces for others to grow and develop their gifts and are never threatened by others living into their own power as well.” (Pg.22) This will be my take home. This is really what gives me joy and life, creating safe spaces for others to grow and being the champion of others’ successes.

What are your thoughts about The Sovereign? Do you see this archetype in yourself? Do you struggle with its shadow? What gifts of the Sovereign do you want to bring to the table of your life?

Photo: King David

Spiritual Practice: Metabolizing Change

new_year_19

Remember: Starting the first Tuesday in January, my next twelve blogs will look at twelve archetypes using as my guide the book: Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics by Christine Valters Paintner. If you’d like to get the book and read along that would be fabulous. I think it will be a really fun read.

Now…on to metabolizing change.

If you’ve been with me a while, you know that I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I choose a word, phrase, or picture to try and live into for the next year. Today I listened to an interview my friend Debra Trappen (business coach extraordinaire) did with Tara-Nicholle Nelson (the woman behind My Fitness Pal). I love the six questions Tara uses to prepare for the new year and I’m going to start journaling them to prepare myself for 2019. I’ll attach that interview below plus a free webinar Tara is offering this Friday for making 2019 intentions. You can hear the whole chat and possibly get the webinar too but they said I could share the questions.

Tara says the idea of Metabolizing came from Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward.

When we want to make a transition from one year to another, or one job to another, or any kind of transition, it is helpful to think about how your body metabolizes food. Our body keeps what is lean and nourishing and gets rid of the rest. As we look back on the year, or job, or relationship that is ending, we can metabolize it — decide what is good, what we want to keep, and what we want to let go of.

This idea helped Tara create a Transition Doc on her computer for the new year. I did this for the last job I left. I wrote down all the important things I wanted the person coming in behind me to know. 

We can do this as we review and metabolize the last year. It’s like asking your 2018 self what you want your 2019 self to know.

writing newyear.jpg

Tara uses these six sets of questions to help prepare her for the new year.

  1. What do you appreciate and what really worked for you this year? Just brainstorm this out on paper without worrying about making it pretty or grammatically correct. There will be good things you want to celebrate and there will be some of the hard things that turned out to be useful — hard things that lead to your growth and development. Write it all down.
  2. What questions did I answer this year? What new clarity or inspiration did I receive this year? What things which were confusing became clear? I love this set of questions. I always want to be growing and learning new things!
  3. What became part of my identity? How did “who I am” shift this year? This is important. Sometimes we think, “This is who I am,” as if it is a static construct when actually we are always evolving and changing. A better sentence might be, “This is who I am today.”
  4. What am I ready to release? These may be things we feel didn’t go as we wanted or things we just need to let go of because they don’t serve us well anymore. As Debra Trappen always says, “Shame off you,” let it all go, opening your hands to let it go prepares you to be able to receive new things!
  5. What do I want? What verbs do I want to do? What do I want to create? How do I want to feel? Verbalizing these feelings and desires can take them to the forefront of your attention where you are able to access and move toward them more quickly.
  6. What questions do I need answers to and who might be able to point me in the right direction? Brainstorming this might give you an impulse to reach out to someone; do it right away! That still small voice inside you is Divine wisdom and as you move toward that nudge, life-changing things can happen.

Okay, I’m ready to think through these questions. Let me know if you want to join me and how it goes for you.

debra11  You can find this interview here.

tara nicoleSign up for Tara’s webinar here.

 

Clock Photo

Writing Poto

Spiritual Practice: Moving Through Thresholds

threshold

(I decided to share the book I’m writing over on Wattpad. You can read it here). Now, back to the blog on Spiritual Practices!

Recently I was with a patient as he was dying. His body fought hard to stay alive and I sat with him, holding his hand, praying for him and singing, as he crossed over. He’d been homeless at the end of his life, and he was estranged from his family because of his choices. But nobody should die alone, so I stayed as long as I could.

As I watched him struggle, I was reminded of the labor it takes to give birth. I’ve had the privilege of sitting with three women who have given birth, plus I’ve done it twice myself, and I can tell you – it is hard work! There is one point during labor and delivery called “transition.” It’s the period when partners get slapped, swear words fly, and statements like: “Don’t ever touch me again,” become part of the birth story.

Once I was in a training with a wizened hospice counselor who was talking about the process of “crossing over” when we die. She called that passage a “threshold.” She said that thresholds are hard and dangerous. For example, an airplane is in the most danger when it is taking off or landing. She said perhaps the thresholds between life and death are also hard to navigate and that was why so many of our patients see long-dead relatives who come to escort them over the threshold.

There are many kinds of thresholds besides birthing a new life and dying to new life. I believe that moving through them can be a spiritual practice.

There is a threshold when you’ve lost a job, and before you get a new one. Or when one relationship ends, and before a new one begins. Or when you let go of an old idea of God but haven’t yet formed a new one.

During these kinds of transitions, it’s good to have someone with you to guide you across the threshold. There are birth and death doulas for those transitions and there are others:

IMG_6642 (1)

Four kinds of helpers when moving through thresholds:

If you have lost a job it can be a very scary time. But, it can also be freeing and a time to re-envision what you want to do next. This is a good time to consult a guidance counselor who can give you some assessments and help you think about options for your future. You may decide to go back to school or re-tool for a different career. Get someone to help you with your resume as well. The rules about resumes may have changed and the requirements for each job need to be considered with each resume. There are also places online to get that kind of help.

If you have lost a relationship, a marriage and family counselor can be a great help. It’s important to grieve the loss before moving on. It’s also vital to own your part in the failure of the relationship, as well as determine what features of the relationship you would like to avoid with the next. The Psychology Today website is a good place to find counselors in your area.

If the transition you are going through is physical, you’ll need medical help. A doctor, a nutritionist, a personal trainer or physical therapist might be parts of a great team to help you through your transition. Asking for referrals from friends or on Facebook can be an excellent way to get a good recommendation.

But also, I see all transition as spiritual, and there are people trained as spiritual directors who can help you navigate that area. They usually meet with you for one hour, once per month, and don’t charge too much either. Spiritual Directors International is a good place to find one in your area. Some will work long distance through Skype or on the phone.

Whatever kind of transition you’re in, don’t feel you have to go through it alone. I remember a 12-step friend changing the old saying about, “When God closes a door, he opens a window,” to add, “but the hallway is hell!” I agree. It can be tough in the hallway, the waiting room, the threshold. But these transitions usually lead to new life, new possibilities, growth, and joy. All you need is someone to come along and guide you through.

Are you facing a threshold? What help are you finding as you go through? Any hints to share?

 

Spiritual Practice: Nurturing Relationships

 

plant

You know if you follow me that I work with people that are dying. Nothing clarifies a person’s priorities like knowing they are going to die. One thing becomes crystal clear. When you know you’re dying, it’s the relationships you will miss. As someone wise once said, “No one says on their deathbed, I wish I’d spent more time at work.”

Nurturing relationships is a spiritual practice that takes time and intention.

Consider these three stories:

I’m working with a young man who is dying from lung disease. When I asked him if he had any “spiritual background,” he said, “I sort of just believe in the Universe.” I asked how he felt about the Universe. He said, “The Universe has been giving me s**t for years.” I asked if the Universe had given him anything good. He pointed to his fiance and said, “It gave me her.” She was the only joy in his otherwise miserable life, the one bright spot.

I worked with a man who had spent the last decades of his life as a houseless alcoholic. Because of his choices, he had been alienated from his many children and siblings. Then he told me about his cat, Jewel, and he wept bitterly, missing her. His only comfort was that Jewel would be waiting for him on the “other side.”

Today I sat with a woman who is deaf but can still see. She still has a strong mind, on good days. I was paging through her photo albums with her, impressed that she had traveled the world as a nurse. Her son even told me that she had smuggled Bibles into Russia. But the only photos she commented on, and did so consistently, were of her son. “My son,” she would say with pride. Nothing else mattered to her but him.

So, if relationships are so important to us when we are dying, we’d better start building them now. You might be wondering, who will I miss when I’m gone? Who will miss me? If you’re looking around, thinking, “Wow, my friendship pool is pretty small,” it might be time to nurture some relationships.

Spiritually, nurturing relationships is the natural progression of loving God, loving yourself and loving others.

Friendships are mysterious. Some last forever, like perennial flowers. Some, like annuals, are only for a season. Here are some ideas on forming new friendships:]

  1. Facebook is a wonderful place to find and reconnect with old friends, long lost cousins, or past loves. Old friends are cool because of your shared history. I’ve attended class reunions I would have skipped because I’ve reconnected with so many old friends.
  2. Join a small group on something that interests you: a Bible Study, a gardening group, a stamp collecting club. I’ve found that, in these kinds of groups, it generally takes time to get to know others. Don’t give up. It helps to become a leader in the group and bond with others in leadership. Once, when I had moved to a new city, I joined an exercise class that also did crafts. I had first thought I had NOTHING in common with the women in the group, but eventually, I learned we had many things in common and we became good friends.
  3. Get on “Meet ups” and find an active group to join: hiking, softball, writing, painting. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you may discover a hidden or forgotten talent. My daughter once gave me a membership to a writer’s group for my birthday. Nine years and eleven published books later, I’m still attending.
  4. Take a class. Especially a class that involves participation, like wine-tasting, travel, improvisation, or dancing. Having to work together builds friendships.
  5. Join a group that serves others. This takes care of any self-pity issues and bonds you together with like-minded people. Try Habitat for Humanity and build a house for a needy family.
  6. Nurture your existing friendships. A group of friends and I started a “Game Night” group 30 years ago. We meet monthly and each couple hosts the group once per year. These are the folks I would call if I needed anything. We may not hang out much outside of Game Night, but if there is ever an emergency, we’re all there in a heartbeat.
  7. Adopt a pet. My step-dad came home with a dog the SPCA had brought to a baseball game to give-away. That little fellow has become his constant companion, filling a big void since my mother died. Our own dog, Rocky, has been a very important part of our family.
  8. IMG_8448
  9. Start small. If these ideas seem overwhelming, just invite a friend to lunch. Unfortunately, no one can make friends for you. It can be intimidating to reach out, but it is worth the risk.
  10. And above all, cherish your parents while they are still alive. Today I sat with a patient who was deeply asleep. There was nothing I could do to wake her no matter what I tried. Then her daughter walked into the room, and before her daughter even reached the bed, she became fully awake and engaged. Love them while you can. They won’t be here forever.

How have you made friendships that last? Share any ideas you have for developing and nurturing relationships.

 

Photos: Plant through pavement, perennial, annuals, Rocky — mine.

 

Spiritual Practice: Cutting off Toxic Relationships

cutting off toxic relationships

 

How is breaking off a relationship a spiritual practice? Read on!

Shouldn’t we all try to live at peace with one another? The answer is yes, of course, we should. Yet, there are people and even institutions who don’t have your best interests at heart. They can actually become crippling to your soul, and when they are revealed as toxic, sometimes the best thing you can do is cut them out of your life.

I have a friend who was once a part of a very controlling church. When she thinks about it now, she shakes her head in wonder and says, “I was drinking the Kool-Aid!”

For you younglings, this is a reference to the Jim Jones cult, where, in Jonestown, Guyana, 909 followers were killed by murder/suicide when they “voluntarily” drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. My friend’s church wasn’t as cultish as the Jonestown group, but it had some very controlling features like needing approval from leadership to date someone, etc. It was definitely heading down the Jonestown road.

I was thinking about how churches can become controlling and toxic when differences of opinion aren’t tolerated and everyone is forced to believe a certain way. I’ve had many friends hurt by being part of the “inside group” of a church, then when they don’t tow the party line, they suddenly find themselves on “the outside.” The hardest part is their “friends” don’t want to hang out with them anymore. It is devastating.

But churches aren’t the only ones who have this cult-like, controlling, or toxic behavior. I’ve seen it in businesses, marriages, and even friendships. Often, you don’t know you’re drinking the Kool-Aid until you leave that place/relationship and get some distance from it.

One example of a corporation with Borg-like tendencies (you know, “resistance is futile” …Star Trek…) is the behavior of a local, unnamed hospital. Hospitals send recruiters to nursing schools for an employment fair before the students graduate. But this particular hospital sent recruiters a month before the others came, then told the applicants, “If you agree to take a job with us before you graduate, then change your mind, you will be blacklisted from ever working for us.” This kind of proprietary behavior is downright evil. It doesn’t give the nurses a chance to compare offers from other hospitals. When a corporation uses threats to control behavior, it is a “cult-like” practice. Making a choice to work there is choosing into a toxic work environment. Trust me, it won’t be good for your soul.

This toxicity is easiest to see in marriages or romantic relationships. Usually, the controlling behavior involves money and/or jealousy. If your partner is keeping a tight rein on the finances, questioning you every time you go somewhere, or using anger to control you, you are probably drinking the Kool-Aid.

I made the mistake of mentioning to my middle-aged hairdresser that I’m a licensed therapist. I don’t usually mention this fact, for a good reason, because she then felt free to tell me too much information about her and her boyfriend. “He gets mad and jealous whenever I go anywhere,” she said. “And he wants sex all the time; isn’t once a day enough?” I wanted to scream, “Run! Run away from him as fast as you can!” But, she was still wielding scissors near my head.

I’ve also seen this same dynamic in friendships, usually in women. If your friend gets jealous and you feel like you have to lie to him/her about spending time with other friends, you’re drinking the Kool-Aid.

koolaid


So, how do you know if you’re in a toxic relationship at home, work, church, or with friends?

  1. When someone tries to change your personality by using manipulation, anger, or guilt, to make you into someone you are not.
    2. When you don’t feel free to express your own beliefs or opinions.
    3. When someone tries to limit your access to money, time, friendships, options, or your own body.
    4. When you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about these problems: You can’t go see a counselor or talk to anyone about your issues.

 

If this blog is making you uncomfortable, sit with it for a while.

Ask yourself “Where do I feel this discomfort in my body: stomach, back, head…?

Ask your body, “What are you trying to tell me?”

Ask the Divine, “What do I do now?”

You may need to seek the help of a trusted counselor, spiritual director or wise friend for help in disentangling yourself from a toxic situation, but your soul will expand and rejoice if you do!

So, is breaking off a relationship a spiritual practice? You bet it is when your soul is suddenly free to breathe and grow after being bound and suffocated by a situation or another person.

I’d love to hear what you think about this idea and/or any times you’ve left a toxic situation and what it was like for you.

 

Photo: Woman at top

Spiritual Practice: Displacement

displacement

Have you ever been in a place where you are the only one who looked like you? Maybe you went somewhere you didn’t speak the language, or the food was unfamiliar, or the customs were confusing. What did it feel like to be in that place? What you experienced is called a displacement experience.

For those who live in the margins, the non-majority folks, displacement is an everyday experience. Being a white, cis-gendered, straight person, I am rarely displaced. I live in a city where I’m in the majority. It is comfortable for me to be who I am here. Why then should I go out of my way to displace myself?

It is important to displace ourselves because this is often the only way to truly know the human experience of our brothers and sisters. How can we have love and compassion if we have never known what it feels like to be “other?” If I am to grow beyond my prejudices and assumptions, I’m going to have to start by displacing myself.

Displacement is the first, and easiest place to enter into honest dialogue about cultural, ethnic, religious and world view differences. If God is the God of all people, and we want to move closer to oneness with God and with each other, we will have to take steps to cross the barriers that separate us.

Here are five easy ways to displace yourself. Pick one, try it and share the results. If you are already from one minority culture, try one from a different group.

  1. One of the easiest ways to displace ourselves is to read a book written by someone who is not like you. Some of my favorites are:

Fiction: The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas. (especially good on audio)

Non-Fiction: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Memoir: Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians by Justin Lee  

  1. Purposely go someplace where you are not like the majority of people in the room:

Visit an ethnic church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. Places of worship are still the most segregated parts of our society. Let yourself really feel what it is like to be unfamiliar with the culture of the church. There are black churches, Latino churches, Korean churches, Greek Orthodox churches, Muslim mosques, Jewish Synagogues…all will welcome you in, but you may not feel welcome there. This is a good thing to understand as it is often the experience of when a person of color, or a different region, or one of our rainbow family members visits your place of worship.

Take a trip to an inner-city ethnic enclave. Visit China Town or Little Italy; walk through Harlem; go to a gay bar or dance. How do you feel there?

Notice your bodies reaction to this environment: Are you scared? Are you anxious? Can you imagine that some of your brothers and sisters feel those sensations every day at work, or when a police car comes up behind them?

  1. Try a different ethnic food restaurant each month. How does it taste on your tongue? Do you like it? What would it be like to feed it to your baby? What can you learn from different diets? This is a fun and easy displacement exercise!  
  2. Invite someone different out to lunch, or even better, over to your house for a meal (ask if they have any dietary restrictions first!). Then open an honest dialogue as you get to know them. Be a learner, not a teacher.
  3. Watch a movie that is out of your comfort zone. Some of my favorites:

Black Panther (What Africa, undisturbed by European colonization and European cultural dominance, might look like, a sci-fi version of course, but still awesome.)

Love, Simon (When a gay protagonist is the star of a sweet, chaste film, like “Never Been Kissed,” it can open our eyes to the experience of our gay friends.)

The Sea of Trees (Learn about the Japanese suicide culture and deal with the truths of grief in the American culture and how they intersect.)

The Danish Girl (What does it feel like to have one body on the outside and feel like the inside doesn’t match? This will help build compassion for our trans friends.)

I’m still a newbie in this racial reconciliation dialogue but my friends of color have taught me that displacement is a good first step. In light of the things I’ve learned in the last twenty years, I wrote a book that helps put white people into a fictional displacement. It might be a fun and easy on-ramp for you to read. It’s called, Cracker.  

Some comments from reviews:

“Cracker is a must read as it takes you away to a world that we should all see, one that helps you truly open up your eyes to the magnitude of racism and prejudice against gay and lesbian’s. This story not only forces you to face your own thoughts on racism, but it also educates you on the history of oppression creatively through her vivid and strong characters. Cracker will change the world you see and the way you decide to treat people that are different from what you see in the mirror; it opens your eyes and your mind.”

“I recommend this easy to read yet profound book to teens and adults without reservation, and hope that it yields deeper curiosity, trust, and courage to love across difference in every reader.”

“This story made me keenly aware of (and question) my own beliefs in the most profound, imaginative way. Ann’s story riled me up and shocked and shook me to my core. Jacci challenged me and changed my perspective.”

Let me know which displacement exercise you try and what you learn from it!

Photo Credit