On Love-Bonds, Money, & the Post Office

Awake at 4 a.m., listening to the night train cooing across the river and musing over how different it was to be living in the city (like I often do when I ponder my urban sabbatical) something odd surfaced. It filled me with peace. It came in a package of restoration, the kind that comes with deep reconciliation. For all of the conveniences and cultural advantages of being in a city like Portland, to be honest, I had not yet figured out what I was doing so far from my rural home. And it had everything to do with money. Ron came here for a job.

I lay in the dark dreaming in train calls imagining the interconnected railways as arteries, lifelines to the humanity of lives it touches. I pondered tomorrow’s workshop on writing love letters that Ron and I will be facilitating when it hit me; the workshop was less about how to write a love letter and more about restoring lost love. Whether it is a parent, a lover, a brother or a child, every letter that every participant ever shared with me in previous workshops, always had something to do with writing to people of lost connections. A better title might have been: Restoring and Deepening Your Love Bonds through Letter Writing.

But at 4 a.m. in the state between sleep and awakening, magical things can happen as everything gets mixed into the soup—love bonds, the nature of evil, environmental destruction, banking, money, values and the Post Office. The soup simmered throughout the rest of the night, like the old fashioned kind that pulls all of the nourishment from the marrow and becomes a rich nourishing broth.

So what surfaced was this:

Most of us (almost half the US, since the great crash of 2008) are just one small crisis away from personal economic collapse. As we live from pay check to pay check, more often than not, we are also sacrificing our loved ones, forced to choose money over our relationships. We’ve all heard the phrase that money is the root of all evil. To do without; we suffer. To pursue it relentlessly; we suffer. To fear we might lose it; we suffer. Money has been so ingrained in our thinking and our daily lives it has become second nature to speak about everything with economic measures: from bottom lines, cost analysis, even amid friendships we might say, “I owe you one”.

So what has this got to do with love and family? As a stay at home mom, I have been fortunate to live in a non-monetized bubble for most of my life. Everything I have worked for in raising my children, everything I have worked for in my marriage has little to do with the “costs” of love as long as my basic needs were met. Yes, to be sure, I’ve had to pay bills, write checks, purchase groceries, and such; but the core values in my daily tasks had less to do with money and more to do with love and nurturing.

If we are too rethink how money influences our lives as a country or even amid the world economy; we need to rethink how we respond to money. We need to bring into balance the needs of the bottom-line and the needs of our loved ones. There was a wonderful psychologist Abraham Maslow who came up with a hierarchy of needs. In many respects the big difference between the bloody French Revolution and the successful American Revolution comes down to love bonds and basic needs. The French were starving; the Americans were not. But more on that another time.

Try this exercise:

I love; therefore, WE exist.In order to reduce stress, realign your relationship with money and loved ones you will need five single dollar bills, five envelopes and the addresses of five people you care about. Think about it! How will you feel if you get an envelope with a dollar in it? How will you feel about sending it?

First, there is an important part of the exercise. Do you remember Descartes? He was the guy who said, “I think, therefore I am.” But love does not come from our heads any more than it comes from the bottom-line. It comes from our hearts. Consider this. “I love, therefore WE exist.” Without the love that begins in our hearts, there would never be a “we”. So in these times of great financial hardship, send a special monetary Valentine. Take each of those dollar bills, and write on it: I love, therefore WE exist.

And then mail it, because our pony express is hurting, too, in this era of everything counted by the bottom-line and forgetting our common cultural heritage. Buy five stamps, and bring the balance of love back into the money specter. “I love; therefore, We exist.” Pass it on. Maybe it won’t be much. Maybe it won’t restore the economy. Maybe it won’t save the Post Office. Maybe it won’t even help your loved ones stay in their homes, but that dollar will take a step toward restoring a love bond and it’s just money after all, and if money were no object, I suspect we would all find a way to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Love lies at the beginning and end of all things. For in my life, happiness has always been the result of love.

(If you are local and want to attend the Workshop this Saturday find out more here: http://classes.artistsmilepost.net/class/how-to-write-a-love-letter/) It’s going to be a benefit for http://elohigadugi.org/

I promise, we will have a freight train’s worth of exercises to restore your faith in love through letter writing. Hmm, that would have been a good title, too. Perhaps, next time. And if you would like to include me on your list of love bonds (heh-heh) send it to me at the farm: Karen Walasek, 894 Odd Fellows Hall Road, Pulaski TN 38478. Maybe it will be an omen that I’ll get there sooner rather than later, though for now it will get forwarded to me here in Portland. We’re just a block from a rose garden, so it’s not all that bad, even if I do get a little homesick from time to time.


WWMD What Would Mother Do?

For most of my adult life I have been a stay at home feminist mom. Yes, you heard that right— feminist and stay at home— in the same sentence. I call myself a feminist because the most significant relationship in my life has been based on an equal partnership and I call myself a mom because I understand the strength and power that comes from a deep mother love—regardless of who brings in the big bucks. This force of power which comes from a sheltered, stable home is beyond the value of money. It comes from a place that is secure, safe, and sacred.

Like everything else, it has been a struggle to reconcile my walk and my talk. It’s really, really hard to stretch between paying bills and putting food in the mouths of our family. But when all else fails, family trumps bills, as we follow this value system on a roller coaster struggle to support ourselves. From the point of view of mama, if you don’t eat well, it will cost you in the end. If you don’t nurture yourself and your loved ones, what value does your life hold?

Besides, like the ghost of Christmas past it will come back to haunt you. (Thank you, Margaret Atwood, for adding value to this metaphor in Payback.) You just can’t steal the calcium from your bones, or the minerals from the land, and expect to stand tall. You can’t feed a nation empty calories, any more than you can feed it endless fear.

I have been a stay at home feminist radical homemaker who breastfed her children into toddlerhood, and nurtured the individuality of each family member without stomping on them, me included. So it’s this crazy wild haired super mama perfectionist dreamer who has not been afraid of putting her hands in shit that is speaking now. Yes I said the “s” word. My apologies to anyone who is offended, but Mothers are all about getting their hands dirty. We clean up the shit, because we love. Putting roses or fluffy pink sentimental flowers over the word doesn’t make it any less real or any less needing to be cleaned up. And people, it is time to clean up the shit. From the bottom up, and the top down (especially the top down) we need to start asking ourselves, what would a mother do?

And I’m not talking about a strung out stretched-too-thin single mom on food stamps struggling to pay for heat. I’m talking about a healthy supported well-loved mother who has the time to know out how her children are doing and who has the resources to feed her children with all that they really need. She’s a mom who turns off the TV and pulls the plug on the videogames and kicks you outside to get some sunshine. She’s a mom who’s educated enough to know that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are just that NEEDS. (If you don’t know what they are, look it up!)

So at this time of great sorrow, when the house is crazy and there is shit everywhere, we need as a nation to give ourselves a moment to grieve. We all need to laugh, cry, scream, argue with God (or whoever we perceive to be a higher power), and we need to find safety in the arms of loved ones. We see that happening everywhere these past few days, people calling each other to say “I love you.” And once we’ve given ourselves time to breathe, heal, and reconcile with our personal spirituality; we need to clean up the shit. We need to ask ourselves as a nation, What would Mother America do? Mothers need to balance the nature of how this nation is run. We’ve allowed the Father hunters to stay out too long, and we’ve forgotten we have the powerful voice to say, enough is enough.

We need to stop declaring wars if we don’t have the resources to help our returning soldiers to heal, from cradle to cradle because a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder will pass that onto their children as easily as DNA. We need to stop polluting our air and water because every mother knows we are not supposed to shit in our drinking water. We need to become a good steward of the land and stop the devastation of the Amazon because it is literally the lungs of the earth and if we think global warming has caused devastating storms how will it be it we cannot breathe? We need to cherish life itself.

Seriously, I could go on, and on —but you get the point. What would Mother America look like if She has equal power to Father America? Bankers? Seriously what about the families on the street because of your fiascos? Monsanto, you need to sit in the corner and think about your lies. You are so resourceful boys (and girls) maybe you can find something better to do with your talent! Which of course leads me to the whole military industrial complex— what would Mother America do about that? And how will You walk Her talk?

I am a crazy wild haired super grandma perfectionist dreamer. And I’ve lived long enough to know you don’t respect me. And that’s the problem. We’ve lost sight of our nurturing values. Feminists might think motherhood isn’t a true career, while the Christian Right would like me to go back to the hearth and shut up already, because on some level they have both bought into the money is everything game. Congressmen will kiss my granddaughter and patronize me with a smile. We’ve got to stop being a nation of mother patronizers and become a nation run by Mothers in equal partnership, because honestly the old school patriarchy has stepped over the edge and it’s time for mothers to clean up the shit.