child-cuddling-teddy-bear-16188541I recently learned a new name for the controversial ‘transitional love object’ young children often bond with and carry around. I call them ‘loveys.’ Depending on the particular object, of course, it is often simply called by name: ‘blankie’ comes to mind as an obvious example.

The new-to-me name for this self-soothing companion is ‘buddy.’ As I ponder this, it seems a wonderfully helpful concept. From a young age, you are encouraging a child to understand that, when faced with fear or discomfort or sadness, s/he can call upon a trusted buddy. A friend to actually help. Can’t you hear the conversations? Seeking advice; telling one’s heart; holding tight to get through the dark…

According to the dictionary, ‘buddy’ means a close friend; a working companion with whom close cooperation is required, a partner. It can be used as a term of endearment for one’s son, or a generic name for guy friends. Some definitions suggest it actually came into usage as a child’s version of ‘brother.’ How wonderful to start early to understand the ties that run deep, the ones that truly nurture and help us in need: family.

Of course there are crude uses of ‘buddy’ and repugnant allusions to ‘big brother’ …  and far too many families that do not support one another. Perhaps, though, if we remember the origins of the word, and carry with us the vision of the child who turns to ‘buddy’ for reassurance and comfort, we can help rebuild a world where the kindness and support of family and trusted friends can become a cornerstone of our lived values and experience.

Thank you, WP Daily Post Challenge, for nudging us into ever-expanding and varying word explorations.


no fair

fairness, dignity, community

credit – neopeopleism

Today’s WP Daily Prompt – ‘No Fair.’

Fairness might well be the biggest value by which I live. When my kids were young, I early learned that they had different needs. What worked for one might not work for the other. That doesn’t feel ‘fair’ sometimes.

But the ‘no fair’ I am steaming about today is far scarier and morally wrong. It is the kind of unfair that lurks behind cronyism, currying favor with those in control for personal reasons. It is the kind of unfair that supports a woman’s groundless accusations when the accused is an upright, hard-working man of unshakeable moral integrity.

I honestly do not know which roils my blood more: the fact that any human being would systematically and maliciously go out of her way to malign another person; or that her accusation carries any weight at all. Clearly the case under my skin concerns cronyism at its most cowardly. How is it possible to credit her charge while ignoring her history of unreliability, ineffectiveness, rudeness and favoritism? [If you answer – ‘because she is a woman’ – I will choke. This is the most vile of all to me: the woman who uses that fact to a purely selfish end.]

The answer of course lies in systems which promote to the level of incompetence; which favor inside networks; which do not actually have as their goal a team approach to problem-solving for the greater good. Rhetoric aside, such systems put individual gain over community good. Which bumps up hard against my second biggest value -community.

The solution? Would that there were a single one! But if we’re talking fairness, at the minimum we need to inhabit a broader systems view. We need to take context into account. We need to be accountable for the work entrusted to us, the lives under our care. We need to listen with our hearts to hear the truth. And we must cease the betrayal of human by human. We are all here, together, now. Let’s drop our scrapping egos. In the end, much of life is ‘not fair.’ But we can get through it easier, and better, working together.

the first thing you see …


“The New York Times is going to feature your blog on its home page, and you’ve been asked to publish a new post — it’ll be the first thing tens of thousands of new readers see. Write it.WordPress Daily Post Challenge

As luck would have it, just today I experienced my first taste of post virility. [Really?!] Not five days ago, I emailed an embarrassingly large number of invitations to the book launch of “Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write” (Orbis Books), a collection of prose and poetry by Vermont’s imprisoned women produced during our first three years of writinginsideVT. 

Already we are getting enthusiastic responses far beyond the large mailing list. Burlington VT has gone viral. Is it the program? Is it the graphics? Is it the opportunity to celebrate the women who use writing as a tool to pull themselves up and out of the despair and demons that landed them in jail to begin with? Is it the endorsements by such well-known women as Helen Prejean (“Dead Man Walking”), Michelle Alexander (“The New Jim Crow”), Madeleine Kunin (former governor of Vermont) and Ellen Barry (E.D., Insight Prison Project) — among many more?

All I know for sure is – post virility happens. Really!!!