Making the COVID-19 Numbers Personal

I  am sick (not literally) and tired (quite literally) of hearing people say that the deaths from COVID-19 are not large enough to justify the stay-at-home orders. I am fed up with people being so blase about the death toll in the US alone, much less the rest of the world.

signboard informing unavailability of sanitizers

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As of today, April 30,2020, there have been 63,538 deaths in the USA, with roughly 2000 of those deaths occurring today.  Globally, there have been 230,804 deaths, with 3,400 of those deaths happening today.  Numbers of deaths remain abstractions until we put names to numbers, until we compare.   Let me make some comparisons.

In my own life, I identify strongly with three places:  my county of origin, Atascosa Co., Texas, the University of Texas at Austin, my alma mater and San Antonio, Texas, the nearest large city that I visited as a child.

As of today, there have been 1,092,328 cases of COVID-19 in the United States.  Globally, there have been 3.2 million cases.  The city of San Antonio, Texas has a population of 1.5 million people.  San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the U.S.  This virus has infected the numerical equivalent of a large U.S. city.  Is that not enough?

Now let’s take a look at the deaths.  Deaths in the United states are at 63,000.  My county of origin, Atascosa County, Texas, has a population of roughly 49,000.  The University of Texas at Austin, enrolls 50,000 students.  It’s the 7th largest public university in the country.  Corona deaths have taken out the equivalent of a rural Texas county or a large public university.  Is that not enough?

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By the way, the cities in my county of origin range in population of 2,000-10,000 people.  At the current rate of deaths in the U.S., it’s like one small town is dying off per day.  Is that not enough?

I say enough is enough.  We think of numbers as mere data, cold, hard and impersonal, but these figures get very personal when you compare them to what and who you know, where you came from and where you are.  Let’s stay at home, stay well, stay alive and come out safer and stronger with as many members of our communities alive and kicking as possible.

 

 

Pluto: An Examination of Conscience

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by how the Christian idea of the devil plays out in astrological terms.  Here’s some thoughts about Pluto and how Pluto manifests as our Western idea of evil or The Devil.

In mythology, Pluto is the king of the dead.  In astrology, Pluto rules that which must be transformed and resurrected. The mythical Pluto is an abductor.  He’s a rapist.  He holds his young niece Persephone captive and makes her a child bride.  Pluto is the taker of innocence.  He entraps Persephone by feeding her pomegranates.  By eating, she doesn’t understand there’s an unspoken contract.  She eats in the land of the dead, therefore, she must stay.  She doesn’t see that Pluto’s gesture of seeming care is a means of binding her to him. Pluto initiates what seems like an eternal winter until Persephone’s mother makes a deal with him and Zeus to get her back, at least part of the time.

“Innocence”–that which is without darkness (Latin: nox).  When Pluto captures Persephone, the darkness settles in.  Barren lands are the dark night of the soul.  There’s no fertility, no life, no joy.  Persephone becomes the queen of the dead.

purple crocus in bloom during daytime

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She’s powerful.  She has so many subjects, but her kingdom is joyless.  In fact, everyone becomes her subject eventually because everyone dies.

Pluto represents the loss of our naivete, often through shocking, hellish circumstances.  One day we’re fine, picking flowers, closely guarded, as Persephone was.  The next day we’re in situation, perhaps even a “situationship”.  Our innocence cannot be restored.  We’re forever changed by what we’ve seen and heard in the Underworld.  Our quest then is to return to joy, to rediscover what once made us happy, but with more adult eyes.

My Catholic school girl days required regular trips to the confessional, where I had to do an “examination of conscience”, list out my sins and confess them.

A Pluto-themed examination of conscience:

~What is dead in my life?

~Is propping up a “dead” or “dying” situation compassionate or selfish?

~What is rotting that I have not buried?

~What is still torturing me?

~What season is this person, job, project, etc., inhabiting in my life?

~Who am I punishing and why?

~Do I have any unfinished business with dead relatives, friends?

~Do I have someone I’m obsessed with romantically?

~What makes me think I am entitled to be with a particular woman or man?

~How do I manipulate by pretending to care when I really don’t?

~What unspoken agreements have I made with others, with or without their consent?

~What must I cut out to make room for the “new” in my life?

~What “deals with the devil” have I made lately?

~Do I get off on corrupting people or taking them down a peg, especially those who I perceive to be less savvy or experienced than me?

~What are my control issues really hiding?

~Do I get pleasure from overpowering others mentally, physically or emotionally?

~What traps have I laid recently to bind someone or something to me?

~How often do I abuse my power?

~How often do I consider others needs and feelings as I pursue what I want?

~If the person I loved didn’t love me back, would I bless them and release them or would I attempt to further bind them to me?

~In order to be “king” or “queen”, do I beat people down to keep them in their place?

~Do I believe in redemption or punishment?

~What have I hoarded to maintain a sense of closeness?  A sense of control?

~In what areas of my life am I stifling growth or change?

~What secrets am I keeping to maintain control of a situation or person?

~How do I control my fears?

Hell is a very real fear for many people.  There’s many that advocate that hell is not a place, not a chthonic underworld, but a state of mind.

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When you compare the Christian Devil to Pluto, they are similar enough.   Whether or not hell is a destination is debatable, but it’s certainly evident some have a hellish state of mind.

Pluto rules Scorpio-the sign of sex, death, transformation and secrets.  Scorpio rules the liminal time of year before Halloween, a time we confront our deep fears, especially of death.  As humans, many of us make our whole lives about avoiding death, avoiding Pluto, avoiding The Devil.  What if we looked at devilish and Plutonic energies head-on?  How less fearful would we be?  How much needless control would we yield?

Silence Is Not Always Golden

I’ve been talking more lately, and not because I’ve been feeling chatty.   I’ve realized how much I’ve kept under wraps and repressed to keep the peace and to just get along.  Frankly, it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done to myself.  Silencing myself has been a huge burden.  I’ve been grieving.  I’ve been healing.  I’ve been shouldering some difficult situations that don’t have easy answers.

copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of body positivityThere’s a lot of good too, but I’ve realized in the past week that not all silence is golden.  Not all silence heals.  Sometimes, you have tell someone what you feel.  We all want to “look our best” at the expense of feeling our best and fessing up that there may be some issues.

One of the biggest things on my mind and my heart this week is remembering Fortuna.  She was diagnosed this time last year of renal lymphoma and in April, almost four months to the day later, she died.  Her death and issues around her death had me in a deep state of shock and denial.  I told few people she had actually passed.  I loved her so much and I couldn’t speak about her without being immobilized by grief, pain and anger.  fortuna and kristinCancer is a cruel disease and some of the circumstances I dealt with peripherally didn’t help either. I’ve been having a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to help raise funds for research to help both people and pets who are suffering from this rare disease.  I still tear up each time I post about the fundraiser.  It’s okay.  Better a thousand tears than a mess of hardened, bottled up feelings.

Tuna was naturally very expressive.  She always would tell you what she wanted.  You didn’t have to guess.  She was not coy.  She didn’t hide what she thought.  So much of what is hurtful and damaging grows in silence.  We don’t acknowledge something someone said or did hurt and then it just becomes part of us somehow.  My silence magnified my pain.  I was getting harder and harsher as time went by because I was really angry.  I was angry at cancer for killing her and turned some of that anger on myself.

I am doing better now.  The tears are still there, but the what-ifs or what-could-I-have-done-betters are now mostly gone.  I got to a point of surrender–and if you know me, surrender is not an easy thing.  I’m used to winning..  I expect myself to overcome.  The word “surrender” is not a go-to for me, but it has been lately.  I’ve surrendered some of my pain, some of my angst by talking about it.  Talking about her life and her suffering has helped heal some of mine.

If you have something that’s burdening you, please get some help.  “Suffering in silence” may seem noble, but it can hurt too.  It can make your pain greater.  We all have problems to face and once you get in the habit of airing them out, the problems become more manageable.

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Silence is not always golden, but the love in our hearts is.  Speaking from the heart, even when it’s inconvenient, will always serve you better than pushing your feelings down.  I miss Tuna every day.  I miss her honest green eyes.  She not only saw people; she saw through them.  I miss they way she chewed my hair.  I missed her demanding things of me as a matter of course. Today and every day, ask you if your attitude of “put up and shut up” is really serving you, or if you may be hiding something you really need to heal.  Today, I am still healing from my loss of Tuna.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for caring.

 

 

Walk with Me

In March, I received a call I was never prepared to receive.

Earlier this month, I received a similar call.

Both times, my mother called to inform me that someone I knew had committed suicide.

At first, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the realities of these situations.  I’ve dealt with deaths.  There’s an ineffability of the aftermath of a suicide.  No words can fully contain it.  I am the type of person that always feels better when I DO something, which is why I am walking in the Out of Darkness Walk in Pasadena on November 4.

Please help me to vanquish the darkness of suicide by raising funds and awareness.