Red Pants for the World is a project designed to support an army of young women living created lives, altering the planet. We are committed to all women living great lives despite their circumstances. Our first program is to support the women in rural Afghanistan.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
This week I'm sharing links in honor of the UN's CEDAW--The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women -- in celebration of women and children around the world and their right to freedom and full self-expression.
CEDAW The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women A Priority:
Nepal Orphans Home - attends to the welfare of children who are orphaned, abandoned, or not supported by their parents, providing for basic needs, schooling, and health care with love and compassion:
Half The Sky Foundation:
The Hunger Project:
Three Cups of Tea:
Afghan Women's Writing Project:
And in memory of Emily, whose life continues to fully flower.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Like an enervated man
Gasping for air
Like a wounded bird
Searching for remedy
Like a guilty conscience
Seeking some virtue
Like a hungry child
Craving some sustenance
Like a thirsty creature
Yearning for some water
I want some serenity
I need some harmony
I am waiting for some tranquility
Come please Come
Peace Peace Peace
It’s sunny day. It comes back to me in slow
motion. I’m three years old. My father is often
amazed at the fact that I should remember this far
back into my childhood. I tell him the
memories are unforgettable.
Paper continues to fall, communist
propaganda literally rains down on us. The
helicopters are so noisy, so high in the sky. I
stand looking up, my arms are wide open. I want
to catch all the pieces of falling paper.
Paper, paper, everywhere
At least it’s better than when they decide to shower
us with bullets.
Mother is at work. She is a teacher at the school
across the street. You can see it when you
go outside the huge walls of my grandparents’
The walls are made of the thick hay and mud. I
remember the walls. The height of them makes me
feel protected. I imagine that these walls
are strong enough to stop the rockets.
I go inside the house to play behind the big black
couch in the main guestroom. This is where we
hide when the sirens sound in the middle of the
One night, I hear my father pray for us to die
together if we are hit. That night he holds mother
and I close to him. I can feel him shivering as I
secretly agree with him. I’ve never seen father
Now, I play with my big red doll when it happens. I
hear a loud noise. I know it is a bomb. I run out
into the garden. Somehow, I find my hand in my
aunt’s hand and I am being pulled behind her.
Small feet try to keep up.
Everyone gathers outside,
smoke rises from the direction of the school. I see
it come up over the wall. The noise numbs my ears.
There is screaming and shouting on the other side
where mother is.
We run out of the gates, into the street, though I
am hesitant. I don’t want to see her pieces lying
before me. She would be coming home for
All I see is smoke. My heart has stopped, my
knees shake, I know she’s gone. Everyone is
crying. My grandmother holds me. My head is on her
chest and I watch the smoke. I don’t say a word. I want
her to walk out of the smoke. That’s all I want.
I break free of my grandmother. I stand alone, but
I do not cry. After that I don’t remember what
happens. What I do recall is my mother, running
out of the smoke. She runs towards me. I’m in her
arms. I can smell her. She smells of mother. She
holds me tight. She cries as she whispers “we have
to get away from here.”
My mouth is dry.
If you are moved by these writings and pictures, please support Provence Solidaire Afghanistan or contact this blog by email to see how you can support women in Afghanistan.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
to hear my cries?
to see my tears?
Where is the wind
to refresh my flames?
sitting in the cell of my grief
When the birds fly back home
When the winter is gone
When the spring sun shines again
You will be here
You will be back
Winter is gone
Birds are back home
Spring sun is shining
You are not here
You are not back
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
My long-time friend, Peggy Bloczynski, is blogging today about her memories of her brother, the impact of his loss to her family and writing about that.
Do you remember when . . .
We were a typical family in the 50s – mother, father, older brother, little sister. Dad went to work each day; mom stayed home. We never had a lot of money, but we always had enough. I remember little things from those years. Long summers outside, riding bikes and playing. My friend, Karen, and I kept a monopoly game going in her basement, a respite from the heat and humidity. I think it was a happy time. We were not a demonstrative family. Love, for my parents, was in the doing. We were cared for and valued.
My brother, Harold, was six years older. In those early years, the age difference mattered. Maybe it always mattered. Only fragments of memories come to me: watching I Led Three Lives on the old black and white set; playing badminton in the back yard; tattling when I saw him smoking. We lived alongside each other. Liked each other. Barely knew one another.
I remember where.
I remember how.
I remember who.
By the early sixties, we had moved to the suburbs. For the first time ever, I rode a bus to school and spent the day with kids I hadn’t known all my life. My brother had been allowed to finish out his senior year at his high school in town. He drove back and forth, his world very separate from mine. I think now about the sacrifice my mom made, allowing him to take her car each day and leaving her at the house. She did it without resentment, knowing, I think, how much greater his need was than hers. They were bound in a way I did not understand. I would see them talking at the kitchen table about his day, perhaps his plans and dreams. Years later, I would see her sit with my own son in much the same way. I saw the tenderness and love in her eye, the way she tilted her head, the softness in her voice; shadows of the child who first held her heart.
And the what - - Oh I remember the what.
It is somewhere always with me.
Some days beneath the every day;
Some days at the top.
Harold enlisted in the army after his high school graduation in 1964. The war in Viet Nam was in its early years. Young men were encouraged to enlist and apply for special training to avoid or delay combat assignments. Harold was accepted in the Army Intelligence program and landed, after basic, in a training program in Texas. It was during that time that I received the first and only gift I remember from him. It was a gold, wind-up alarm clock. It came, not in today’s shrink wrap, but in a sturdy box embossed with the manufacturer’s name. A birthday gift. I’m sure my mother had told him to send something, but that has never mattered. I was touched and awed by his gesture. Even now, when I take it carefully off the shelf, I know the wonder of that moment.
My mother would talk later about the car.
A stranger’s car.
Up and down the street, looking for just the right house.
We have a photograph of my brother sleeping in the backseat of the old Chevy. He was home on leave before heading off to Viet Nam. I must have known he was going, I must have known this was a scary thing – but all I remember of that visit is standing on the toes of his combat boots while he held me steady. What did he think of me then? What would he think of me now? My mother told me much later that he sobbed the night before he left. She comforted him, reassured him, urged him to put his trust in God. . . That memory tore at her later. How could she have allowed him to go?
My picture has two men coming to the door.
Very somber, very sorry.
I had never seen my father cry before. It would be years later, as he approached his own death, that I would see him cry again. The military had been a good option in my dad’s eyes. A World War II veteran himself, he valued the sacrifice, honor, and service the uniform symbolized. Like many men in those times, his role in child rearing had been limited. As the youngest of 16 children in a poor, rural family, his relationship with his own father had been distant. I suspect he had looked forward to knowing his adult son, the man who carried his name.
My dad . . .
He never showed me the image he held.
Never talked about that night.
Harold’s death came early enough in the war that each dead soldier’s body was accompanied by an honor guard once it was returned to the States. For days, our home was filled with friends, family, food, and phone calls. My mother spent hours in bed, sedated. My father welcomed people into our home. I sat and watched. People whispered about my bravery. No tears from me. Bad dreams, vomiting at night – but no tears. Not then. I did not know yet what I had lost.
My brother was dead.
Too young, too much to live for,
Too close to a war far away.
My mother refused to wear black. She arrived at the funeral in a two-piece lime green suit, one of her favorites. Years later, she said it was an action of faith. She believed firmly in life after death. She would not shroud herself, would not allow the death of this body to overtake her belief in eternity. She never forgot, or forgave, those who criticized her in this matter. I believe she faced a horrible loss and reached deep to find a way in which she could survive. It was not until I had children of my own that I could begin to understand the strength and courage she must have summoned. To bury a child . . .
The shells that took him took part of each of us.
My mother’s boy; her dear, sweet boy.
My father’s namesake, his footprint in the world.
I say, often, that my family changed then. Especially my mother. I say she was distant, not interested in me. But I was 14 years old and, I suppose, not particularly interested in her. I had always been my daddy’s girl; Harold had always been my mother’s boy. Where did that leave us? My mother placed the responsibility for my brother’s death in my father’s lap. If only he had been more supportive when my brother was young, more encouraging when he was a teen, more insistent on the safety of college instead of the obligation of the military.
Years of living with pain, beside pain
It was easy for me to leave home for college in 1970. Visits back brought pampering and spoiling from my mom. I looked forward to those times. After I married and settled in the Midwest, we established routines of visits and trips. It was the birth of my first child, though, that allowed me to see what used-to-be. My parents adored David. They would coo and gaze at him. I wondered, tried to remember – had it been like that with me?
The loss of a sibling, the shared memories.
No one who ‘remembers when . . .’ for me.
Questions. Always questions. Still questions.
This is war.
These are casualties.
Forty years gone,
But always near.
I look for lessons. I look for reasons. Is there only loss? Surely, not. I am pragmatic; I am realistic. I survive. I care deeply and feel deeply. I laugh. I am happy.
And sometimes . . . . sometimes, I cry.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
On Monday, March 15th, my niece, Emily Wilkes, one of my original Red Pants Girls, walked on, leaving behind many family and friends who will miss her spirit.
STAY HERE- REMEMBER ME
A Poem for Emily
I looked and could not see you,
Slowly fading into the mist of days.
But to the end we fought to keep you here,
And make you stay.
You lent us your gentle spirit,
But I felt your need to break away.
In the end, your spirit knew best
How to soar free, not to stay.
For your love of things struggling in the world,
We remember you.
For your light step and lighter laughter,
We remember you.
For what we can make of our lives from yours,
We remember you.
God speed, Emily
Fly free and
Watch over us all
Emily's Promise - Do something good for the world in Emily's name
Monday, February 22, 2010
I've been reading "Stones For Schools" by Greg Mortenson and "Half the Sky" by Kristof and Wudunn - both gifts for Christmas from my daughter, Rudi, and her partner, Melissa. I recommend them both as real glimpses at the lives of some girls and women on our planet.
Remember to visit www.cafepress.RedPants
My Favorite Places on the Web
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- Residing Bloomington, Indiana for twenty years, my life is about all people living created lives. I am a four book contracted fiction writer, a thirty-five year graduate of the work of transformation with Landmark Education and est, and I love my life, my fantastic daughter, Rudi and my ex-husband, Keith.