#MeToo Tenfold

It appears that the #MeToo movement is on course to end gender-based violence. Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, pushed the button that began the ball drop on New Year’s Eve at Times Square. Irony aside, we are witnessing an unprecedented coalescing of women in support of one another.

700,000 women farmworkers of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas wrote an open letter in support of the women of Hollywood and helped spark the launch of Times Up.

Times Up is a Hollywood based initiative to fight systemic sexual harassment. It includes a $13 million dollar legal defense fund to support women who might not have the resources to fight back.

And here I must acknowledge the tireless local effort to end human trafficking by La Crosse’s Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Their Task Force to End Modern Slavery partnered with Breaking Free, to create a video series entitled, “The Faces of Human Trafficking”. That series will premiere throughout this month.

And we must never forget the ongoing assault on indigenous women due in large part to extreme extraction of resources. Man camps are on the rise with every pipeline, construction site and refinery. Mainstream media and voices of the status quo have long ignored the plight of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. Sometimes we must work very hard to learn the truth.

And so it was with great surprise that on a recent visit to my birthplace, Beaver County Pennsylvania, I learned of the effort by police to prepare for the onslaught of construction workers entering the county making way for Shell’s new ethanol plant there. And to what end are the preparations?

Police concerns are not merely the increase in traffic or the drain on social services –but it is an awareness that with transient workers comes an increase in human trafficking…

Yes, #MeToo has been needed for a long time – and while it is too late for far too many, let us pray that we can continue this courageous effort to end gender and power based violence once and for all.


This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This” on Thursday, January 11. You can listen to a recording here.

For more information listen to Democracy Now’s coverage of from January 12.


Indomitable Spirit

It is -7 degrees F, and I am wondering how Louise is doing. Today is January 13. It is the coldest of the cold snap that will hit us this week. We had a break for a while and the temps hit 40 degrees F. I have begun to give Louise massage and physical therapy on her hind legs since she showed me that she had no desire to leave the planet just yet. (This might be the moment that you want the back-story posted on Dec 30.)

Louise is a sheep who I have had the good fortune to know for nearly fifteen years. She had been down for nearly three weeks. One of those weeks I was away and she had not gotten up at all. What I didn’t realize is that she was often moving her legs to push herself closer to hay or maybe she did it knowing she had to. I do not know. What I do know is our friendship, our communication and our relentless spirits are enjoying this time that we share.

Over the past few days she has stood up on all fours, with help of course, and has taken a few steps. The boldest steps took her outside of her pen into the warming sun. She had to step down a bit. She did it. And all the other girls came round to check on her and to see what goodies she might have for them to eat. They had been noticing that her water is warmed, and her apples cut. They had also caught on that if they were close to her pen there was hay left for them and sometimes a piece of squash came their way. Oh, and they definitely smelled the grain. They only get a bit of grain at shearing time, so that caught their attention as well. They are an observant lot.

The camaraderie does her good. I have contemplated putting her with the others but sheep lack the niceties of proper company and would never give her time to eat. I think she knows that, too. So a bit of time together – not meal times – works out well.

Many of you ask about her and I tell her that you are thinking of her. I am cherishing this time. I am continuing to learn about indomitable spirit and the sweetness of each moment. She is strengthening me as I help her. I am still under no illusions. But like my good friend and best veterinarian on the planet, Dr. Burch said with a giggle as we acknowledged the unlikelihood of this moment, “She just isn’t ready to go yet.”

So that is your update as I go to the barn, heavily layered and knowing one thing for sure: Wear your woolies. The sheep got it going on. She is so warm in her au naturel. And today will be brilliantly sunny. That is Nature’s way of compensation for the deep cold. I erected a plastic door to let the sun shine in on her. I feel her gratitude as I learn about her needs. So very grateful to have this moment. Very Best to All.




Our Moral Currency

The moral currency of this country is bankrupt. Do not look to leaders to do what each of us must do. And what is it that we each must do? We must live. We must live with a passion towards life that is undeniable. Life is for the living, not the dead. We are letting the dead lead. Why? We are accepting intolerable inhumanity as if we have no choice. Why? We are spinning with isms and making one another sick. Why? We fear diminished capital, but not diminished humanity. Why? We are content to shake our head and wring our hands, but unwilling to change the course of our lives. Why?

The solutions are simple and are right in front of us. They require the heart and the will to manifest. Respect one another and the earth and yes, live in kindness.

You want to change the course of a river? Go to where it sources itself and put your finger there. Stop making this so difficult. Change your thoughts, your actions, your patterns, your lifestyles…learn or re-learn to walk in Beauty. Celebrate the living, not the dead. We have to help one another out of this mess. And the clock is ticking…

I am no longer surprised by the ignorance of a few. I am stunned by the silence of the many. And I long for the company of the living.

And here are some living words; words that will forever outlast ignorance. These are the kind of words we need right now and we need to share:

“Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


photo / meme from Business Insider




Wishing You a Life of Loving

When people tell me things, I tend not to believe. Not because I don’t want to believe it is just that a lifetime of experiential learning has often taught me something different…

And now Louise is teaching me. Louise is the other half of Thelma. They were my first two sheep and if you know me you surely have heard the story. Nearly 15 years ago I put the four-month olds into the back of my SUV and said, “You must be Thelma and Louise, because this is your last ride.”

About three weeks ago Louise went down and could not get up without help. And if you know my sheep they are a hefty lot, so as she weakened, so did I. Cold setting in and knowing I would be gone for a week, I started to accept the words I had always been told, “When a sheep goes down, that’s it.”

While that may be true for some, it does not seem to be the case for Louise – at least not until she teaches me more about living.

thelma and louise

I took these pictures of Thelma and Louise in the summer, grateful that they had given me one more chance to photograph them together. You can see Thelma there saying to Louise, “There she goes again taking our pictures, enough already!” (They came to me with tails removed and when I realized how necessary their tails are I promised them that all of their children would keep their tails – and they do!)

I have laughed with them, cried and prayed with them. I have allowed them to teach their children and great, great grandchildren how to live with human beings, how to not be afraid and how to wrap us around their beautiful hoofs in order to get treats.

So when I realized a few weeks back that our time together was nearing it’s end. I cried bitterly while remembering what Annie had told me about death, “We cry for ourselves, not for them.” Once again I had to admit she was right.

Louise was teaching me what so many of my animals have taught me as they passed into that good night. She was teaching me about will, about how to flourish to the end, and how to draw upon each breath with the gusto of a newborn.

I doubted I would see her alive when I left one week ago for holiday time with family and friends and knowing I could not let them down by saying, “You see, Louise is dying and I need to be there with her…” I said my farewell to her, still hearing the words, “When a sheep goes down…” and I was determined to be joyful as I ventured on.

This morning brought the extreme cold of the past week in full force. It “felt like” – 28 degrees or so the weatherperson told us, and with some trepidation I returned to the barn. The animals were happy to see me, well cared for by my friend, and then I went to see Louise. She was still in the cubicle where my young Amish friends and I had placed her, surrounded by the bales of straw to keep her warm. Once again she raised her head to my call, eyes bright with wonder, and yes, I believe it is love that I saw there.

Still capable of raising herself on her front haunches, she let me know she was glad to see me and questioned me silently – where was her treat? Louise defiantly teaching me: it isn’t over just because a sheep goes down.

Now I am not for a moment suggesting that she will be up and at ‘em again, but her joie de vive is still infectious. Two of us struggled to move her and ensure her continued comfort. Briefly she stood after one week of being down. No, she did not stand without our help, yet in those sweet moments with her today she helped reaffirm the preciousness of life and rekindled in me the thrill of living.

This evening I whispered my promises to her and thanked her again and told her I would be back in the morning, whether she is here or not. It is her call. I left her with her dignity and she with mine. Grateful for all of our moments, certain my perception of life has once again been altered toward the Good, and knowing I will walk into this New Year ready to give my all.

It has been a year of loss as some of my best animal friends have passed on. Each has taught me a bit more about love and loving. Each I carry in my heart.

So to you dear friends and family, I wish for you a life of loving, tender hearts to carry joy amid the hardships, and a desire to flourish, not merely survive. Peace is possible in our hearts and in the world. We can do this. We can.

Much love to all from all of us here at Echo Valley.


The picture of the blooming orchid was taken today. It was my Mother’s plant and lives on, reminding me again…about love.



In This New Year

As we move into the New Year and before our glad tidings once again fall prey to divide and conquer, let’s take a moment to assess.

What have we learned?

For the past forty plus years we have swung between false visions of who we are as a people. The atrocities of the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights era were great Awakenings, yet we have surrendered the hopes and dreams of that time to sound bites of fear and stories that teach us to hate.

What could have been and should have been the beginnings of creating a new vision based on dignity, peace and prosperity have become a nightmare of innuendo and the tightening of power and control.

The storylines are dizzying and the “tell” of where we stand is alarmingly clear: the rise of suicide, the rampant use of recreational and pharmaceutical drugs, the willingness to destroy the earth and our insistence on war are all results of our negligence to foster peace.

You might say, “It is not my fault, I have stood up, I’ve voted, I’ve marched and signed petitions.” And I would say, “All good. But efforts are fruitless if the bitter cup of hate continues on.”

The blaming game has crippled us. The inability to trust one another has hindered our ability to galvanize a movement towards peace with any staying power. We fear those who are different and we are willing to dwell in the comfort of sameness.

I think it is time we reach for discomfort. I think it is time we assess and take stock of beliefs we harbor that diminish our humanity and another’s. And it is time to let them go.

There is little left that we have not tried. Except this: We have not secured our right to peace. We have not yet learned the power of it. We have ignored the need of it for ourselves and for each other.

In this New Year, we can stand together for what is right, just and human. Let the love of the sacred and the awe of the earth call us back to the source of peace and dignity within us. There we will find compassion and resilient love, and there we will find the courage to act.

Let us try what has not been yet been tried; let us act together with one voice towards peace. Rise up. Make it a good year.




This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This” Thursday December 28th.

Looking forward to everything this New Year brings. Love and Best Wishes to all

Tis the Season

I come to this time of year with a mixture of wonder and dread. Living close to the land one develops a deep appreciation for the earth shedding her skins and retiring to a long slumber.

The shortness of daylight and the brilliant stars lend themselves to this season often referred to as the time of winter stories. I like to think of it as a time to dream.

There are many cultures that have a deep appreciation for this time and while I appreciate the nuances I have delighted in my own personal discovery, created my own narratives and charted my own course. I have discovered the practical purpose of celebrating the season with lights and making sure there is green around me – it helps to remind that this seemingly bleak time will surely have an end and spring will again emerge triumphant.

But I have shied away from using this season as a time to shower loved ones with gifts. And I recoil from tired carols that herald a better time.

The temporary truces, the words of peace too soon forgotten are more than I can bear. And this is where the dread comes in. I always cry.

When the tender loving of the human spirit bursts forth for a moment from the hard shell of this uncivilized time – it tears me up.

I want to scream: “Get it? Peace is possible. Hold that thought”, but then I realize most are content with a few moments of sweetness. The thought about peace somehow erases the feeling of it, and as our thoughts go fleetingly by we are on to the next and the next…

But what if this year we don’t just wait for “It’s a Wonderful Life” to teach us what we already know? What if we discover the sacred and the sanctity of our time here and hold onto it for dear life – because that is in fact what it is.

For this brief moment we are given a dear life. Enjoy it my friends. Take it for all that it has to give – not materialistically, but where the memories and the feelings never die: in our hearts.

May peace hold us close, and may our tears be joyful drops of coming home.



This piece aired on WDRT‘s 2 minute segment, “Consider This”, which I have been fortunate to work on since June, 2017. You can hear it live or live-steamed every Thursday at 5:28pm CST or around that time…

Find a way…

The high number of white women (and men) in Alabama who voted for Roy Moore is a stunner. Somehow the violations against women and girls do not rank as high as the need to have “someone like me” in office, someone who thinks like me, who believes as I do. And while Doug Jones was a relative unknown to politics, the characterization of him as the “other” was enough to send the white world into a tizzy.

From where I sit the fear of “other” is part of a revisionist Abrahamic belief that “evil” exists as an outside force, one to be expelled, and one that exists solely in the “other”. I say revisionist, because I was raised in a Christian faith at a time when people did not hide behind this notion of external evil. We had choices of good and bad, both existed in us and we were expected to follow a moral compass that would guide us toward Goodness.

This blurring of free will and choice and the insistence of an external evil is, pardon my expression, the devil of convenience. Turning a blind eye to the travesties of our shared histories and excusing the behaviors of oppressors makes us complicit in these acts, not the “good people of faith” that we profess.

And then there are those who profess no faith in God, but exercise the same fear and loathing of the “other”. Herein lies our stalemate. If we cannot see the humanity in one another, if we cannot find a way to communicate with one another, then we are locked in a death wish embrace, because the stakes have raised too high, the consequences too great for anything less.

This, then, is my hope, for this New Year: that we can step into the reality before us. We are alive. We have a chance to do Good. We have a chance to make things better. We have a chance to heal.

It comes down to this: Shake off the BS, folks. We have a lot of work ahead.


The photo comes from Dream Catcher Reality