Marianne Simon Speaker Writer Coach

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They Say Lakes Burned

Cuyahoga RiverThey say:

Once upon a time lakes in Ohio were so polluted they caught on fire.

 Once upon a time Los Angeles residents built underground backyard smog shelters.

 Once upon a time they sprayed DDT on our strawberries.

 Is that really the Great America we want to go back to?

 The EPA was founded out of necessity by Richard Nixon in 1970, to protect the very air we breathe, the very water we drink, the very food we eat.

 We will NOT support, Scott Pruitt, a nominee who has regularly proven that he is willing to fight the EPA in order to increase his profits and those he works for. There are no ‘alternative facts’ to:

  1. He has sued the EPA, the very organization he is meant to lead, 14 times.
  2. He has shut down the Environmental Protection Unit within his own state.
  3. Against the word nearly 97% of climate scientists around the world, Mr. Pruitt thinks climate change is still up for debate.

 This is a nominee who does not seem to recognize that without these fundamental protections we are ALL at risk – This is beyond short sighted, this is insanity.

 So I ask of those who might confirm him,

What good is a good job, if you and your family develop cancer as a result?

 How great can our economy be if we are having to cart home bottled water because our tap water is toxic?

 How great is this America when kids can’t play in their own backyards, or on the school grounds, or on the play grounds because there is arsenic or lead or cadmium dust on the ground?

 So, no. Senator Feinstein. This is not a nominee that we will support. Not one bit. Not at all. This is not a nominee we will support – not at all.

 And we ask you, Senator Feinstein, to do everything in your power, to call on all your resources to ensure that Scott Pruitt is not confirmed as the next Leader of the EPA.

(Speech at Senator Feinstein’s Office January 24, 2017)

 

“They Thought They Buried Us, They Did Not Realize We Were Seeds.”

“They Thought They Buried Us, They Did Not Realize We Were Seeds.”

IMG_2162Out of all the inspiring signs I saw at the march yesterday, this is one that stuck with me. Maybe because I am an environmentalist and see the world through my lens of protecting the earth. But also because it spoke to my belief that each of us has something to say, something to contribute. So often, as women or minorities, we are taught to downplay our gifts or our power, buying into the fiction that we are  inferior, powerless, invisible, voiceless.

 Yesterday I marched with thousands of others.  Though some will quibble about the numbers, I know what I experienced:

– On streets running north-south and east-west I saw rivers of people streaming along, carrying their banners, chanting their messages.

– Multitudes of groups were there with their specific messages: women’s rights, protect the earth, free speech, equality, democracy, justice for all.

– Friends of mine had been concerned about violence, but I experienced people of all colors, ages, preferences, marching peacefully;  arm in arm, children carrying balloons, groups of drummers and dancers flowing down the streets.

– Police officers stood at the perimeter to answer questions, insure no violence erupted, doing their job to ‘protect and serve.’

– There was such a sense of inclusion and energy.

And this was reflected in marches around the world.

There are some who say this march was premature, nothing had ‘happened’ yet, he wasn’t even in office yet. I got an email accusing me of ‘treason’ for not going along with the will of the people. 

 But I must respectfully disagree. IMG_2181This march happened at the perfect time. It was a declaration, a reminder to those who were elected, that they are there to serve their country and not the other way around.

And as much as some would have us believe, we cannot deny that this is an administration that seems to quick to repeal our healthcare without having a replacement; that it is filling its cabinet with members who have histories of suing the very agencies they are meant to lead; that it is combative and divisive and quick to bully its opponents into silence. They have already launched their opening salvos.

We are answering back.

What faces our country and our planet demands that we work together collaboratively, creatively, peacefully.  It requires that we listen to one another’s beliefs and opinions in mutual respect and understanding.  And it is vital that we find common ground, seeking to discover what connects us rather than what separates us.  

To me that was the spirit of this march.

So in conclusion, I am more than willing to come to the table to find common ground, to have the conversations we must have to find solutions where we all win. This march was our message to the elected officials that we will be heard, our voices matter, and we are not alone.

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So We Just Came

So We Just Came….

 When they planned the event for their community, they figured there would be about 30-40 attendees. Then the reservations maxed out at 150. But they weren’t going to turn anyone away. At 3:00 pm, people were still pulling into the parking lot, the line ran outside the church. By the time they were done we had over 229 attendees officially signed in! This was the kickoff to the Santa Monica Move On gathering focused on resisting the Trump agenda.

IMG_2083I sat at a table with 7 others as we learned a little about each other, what brought us there, what gave us hope. The second hour was focused on specific actions that could be taken. Some small, simple tasks that anyone could do, others, larger, more complex.

 As I sit down to write this piece this morning I am questioning what is it I want to communicate?   What mattered?

 For me, personally, it was sitting at a table in a political setting with my family for the very first time. My sister, like many of us, feeling intimidated by the process, but daring to step out of her bubble to try. My mother, Jewish, who survived Nazi occupied France, was there as well. And though she was reluctant to participate, she was there: my reminder of other times in history when we saw what happened when we let fear divide us. When we pointed the finger at ‘other’ as the problem. When we silenced free speech. When we ignored what was happening, never believing it could happen to us.

Growing up in this free country, this melting pot of the world, I never would believe it could happen to us.  But then I remember this saying: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

 So what mattered?

  •  That we were there. In a church room, on a Sunday afternoon, with over 200 people who had chosen to come together to take action.
  • That we spoke to each other with civility and respect.
  • That even though most of us were newbies, we were willing to step into the fray.
  • That in just 20 minutes of brainstorming, we came up with several strategies to add to the Resistance. And 15 other tables did the same. (I’ll post those later)
  • That by the end of it, we left more encouraged, more hopeful than we had in a long time.

 That even if they told us the registration was full, we just came.

 

 

 

Weaving Us Whole – Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Dear Friends,

I can still remember how my heart ached when we got the results of the elections last year. I had never cried after an election before, but I remember sobbing in my car as Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech.  For days, weeks, months, since then I’ve gotten more and more frightened at what seemed to be rolling into our country with no way to prevent it.  Dumbstruck and overwhelmed, I searched desperately for something to hold back the tide.  Asking those I knew, what can I do?  How do we stop this?

But over the past few weeks, the fear has started to subside a little as I look around and find courage in the work that is being doing to organize the resistance.  I look around and realize that I am hardly alone in my dismay … and more importantly, in my decision to do something about it.

I acknowledge that for most of my life, beyond voting, I didn’t really do much as an ‘engaged citizen.’ Like many of us, I had so many other responsibilities and pressures: family, business, money, the need to feed my creative expression.   Plus there was a pervasive sense that there wasn’t really much I could do about it.  And finally, being a liberal, and living in Southern California – I felt pretty protected, immune from what was happening in the rest of the country.

But these past months have shown me that my bubble is a great disservice.  None of us are immune.  The stakes are just too high.  The threat is truly great, to what we hold most dear, and too often take for granted in this great country of ours.

Today I am going to a meeting hosted by Move On here in Santa Monica to find out what I can do.  I am leaning into the thrum of the word, ‘Citizen.’  It is sweet, and powerful, and tugs at my heart and draws me in.  I remember that this United States is my country, our country.  And though a thousand little fears spike up, I remember the great words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

leaders-courtesy-of-sahistory-websiteThis coming Saturday, January 21, I am preparing to join thousands upon thousands of women and men around the world, who are rising up in solidarity to stand for what is right, what is good.  

I am inspired by the amazing, courageous individuals who walked before us, who dared to speak up, to stand up.  Who literally risked their freedom, their lives for what they believed was right.

We each have our gifts, our contributions; no matter how large or how small, each of us makes a difference. In marching with these others, I am joining the exquisitely colored threads who have the power to weave this country whole.  

Even if you can’t go, please share with your friends and neighbors. Our voice, our rights, the fabric of our democracy, the very planet depends on it.

For those not in Los Angeles, click on this link to see where other marches are being held.  

Much Love – 

Tribute

One for me, one for you, Mama. One for me, one for you, Mama.

I stand at my kitchen counter cutting up vegetables for dinner. The heart goes into the bowl, the scraps into the green compost bucket at my side.

Inspired by a book I’m reading, “The Hidden Half of Nature, the Microbial Roots of Life and Health,” I’ve started an odd little practice. First thing in the morning, I go out to my backyard with my bucket of kitchen scraps, often still dressed in pajamas, slippers and a pair of garden gloves. I pick a spot, scrape out a shallow bowl to loosen the dirt, then pour out the scraps. Much like a cat, I push back the dirt I’ve disturbed and cover it with a layer of mulch and a splash of water.

After the first couple of deposits I discovered that critters come in the night to dig up the offerings. But I realized that once the site had been picked for goodies the critters rarely returned to the same spot. So now, anticipating these nightly visits, I add an initial layer of mulch and then go back later to add more.

compost-sprouts-400x266I can only imagine what my daughter thinks of me, wild woman in pajamas and slippers, scuttling out at the crack of dawn with her green bucket. Even my husband, who knows me well, looks a little askance, not quite so keen on our nighttime visitors.

I admit it has become a bit of a compulsion. Getting irritated when we throw away the coffee grounds; chopping up broccoli bits into smaller pieces so they can break down faster. Eying each crumb greedily to be added to my pot.

Curious as to this obsession I wonder what it is that calls to me so deeply? It is a simple act yet elicits such joy.  

I believe that this act is actually a tribute that harkens back to the old ways. My skin ripples, telling me true, that this offering is a remembering of ancient rituals that resonate deeply with the soul. It represents an innate knowing that we are part of the life cycle, and that it is a deep honor to give back to the earth what she has so generously given to us.

I also know that my six year-old self grins with delight at the wonder of it all. I love that we are an oasis for the wild things that have so few options in our apartment-riddled neighborhood. I love how green things sprout out of the little piles I’ve deposited just a few days earlier. I am amazed and continuously humbled at the miracle, the true magic that is the waste consumed, broken down, transformed, into rich black soil – starting the cycle again.

This fall I am imagining planting a new garden in the backyard, looking forward to the dark soil I am building, the new plants that will thrive there.

Don’t tell my husband, but I’ve started eying the leaves falling across the street and the piles of carrot tops at the farmer’s market….

We Stutter and Stall

It is coming. The next shift. The next movement in this thing that is my life.

It starts to take shape. A figure rising from the mist. It has to do with putting the writing out there, the words out there, in a ‘bigger’ way.

 I rush to give it words – I want to get published! I’m going to do pod casts! I’m writing another book! I feel that familiar, almost manic, rise in energy, excitement. Yes! Something I can sink my teeth into. Get moving on (already).

 I hear of a summit for writers, it’s free. Lots of writers talking about writing. How they overcome resistance, write while on a cruise, get published and make a million dollars on their first book. It’s free. But many ways to get forever access to the presentations, buy books, join programs.

 I set up a meeting with a dear friend to talk about writing and publishing. I’ve put it in red in my calendar with a big smiley face. We pull out our notebooks to brainstorm and make lists. The lists grow, and the options expand, and all of a sudden I’m feeling that tightening, closing, breath stopping feeling of “Whoa Nelly! Hold on there. Slow Down!” I go home all shaken up.

 The next day I read the headlines about Orlando.

 A dark gray cloud descends. Wrapped in the heartbreak of that shooting, the pointless tragic waste of it all.

 And so I do the only thing I can in the face of it. I write. I write. I write.

— 

This morning I rise to birds twittering. The sun is finally breaking through the clouds. In my morning pages I discover that this ‘next movement,’ as I can only call it now, is still taking shape. I cannot rush it, cannot force it. The writing and how it will be expressed in this world will have to find its own way organically, from the inside.

 I am grateful that I catch the warnings a little earlier now. I recognize the old pattern of leaping to find the answers in a summit or someone else’s advice before I trust my own self to lead.

 I see that I must let go of ‘publishing’ for any of the ego reasons, the expectations, the money, the accolades, the race to the finish line, the ‘success.’ I must come back to the what, the why, sharing my work feeds an essential part of me.

 Sounds selfish perhaps. But I am learning that for me it doesn’t work any other way.

 There are words that spill from my heart and run down my face and find their way onto a page. Sometimes just into a notebook. Sometimes they get typed onto a computer. Sometimes I feel the need to share as a blog, a post, a newsletter.

What is this ‘next movement’ then? I don’t know yet. I only know that I feel the familiar nudge. I know I am moving into position, the foundation is strengthening.

I also know it is yet another lesson in listening and patience and trust and faith.

 I  know I am not alone in this.

 So though it may feel as if we stutter and stall, we are just pausing in the dance.

To listen carefully to the music. To wait for the next notes.

To open every pore in our skin in order to feel what is next in this sweet partnership with ourselves.

 

 

What We Grew There ….

What We Grew…

It was not what I initially thought it would be. And it was lovely. Perfect. Exactly we needed on this evening. 

For months, my house had been calling out for a gathering, a party. It too needed to feel wanted, alive. So when spring rolled in, the inspiration for this ‘growing a wild woman’s garden’ took root (pun deliciously intended).

 We gathered, six beautiful, unique women to sit at the table adorned IMG_1381with flowers and shells and candles. With the help of my daughter, which was an extra bonus, we brought out platters of salads, roasted vegetables, and fresh fruit with chocolate.

We talked, as women love to do, the conversation flowing easily like a babbling brook

            About travel

            About writing

            About what ‘wild’ means.

We sniffed petals and leaves, using scent as our way in to an exploration of ‘home’ and what that meant to each of us.

And though we talked about soil and aphids and cumbers, we also spoke of how our feet seek the sand, and our hands the dirt when we feel lost or lonely or hurt.

One woman shared an analogy used by Debbie Ford, that when we begin life we are given a huge mansion to inhabit – filled with all kinds of emotions, both light and dark. But over time, we are taught to close the doors to one and then the other, until we are left trapped in our small one bedroom apartment.

I imagine then, that when we venture into our own wild woman’s garden – be it physical or spiritual, we can begin to ease these doors open once again, allowing a sweet cleansing breeze to air them out. This garden is permission, arms wide-open permission, to explore and accept all that grows there.

Though I had initially intended this gathering to touch more on cultivating a physical garden, it became apparent that a garden is so much more than trees and flowers. It is, in truth, anything that we cultivate, nurture, grow – be it a pot of basil …. Or our souls.

The evening was rich beyond any agenda I could have planned. It was what we needed. A place to gather, and share, and learn, and heal.

To cultivating the garden in us all.

The evening was rich beyond any agenda I could have planned. It was what we needed. A place to gather, and share, and learn, and heal.

To cultivating the garden in us all.

If you would like to join this wild women’s garden, just click to Hereand I’ll include you in our postings.

The Book is Finished!

The book, “Skins I Have Worn,” is finished.

 You would think I’d have shouted that to the world as soon as I was done. Posted it across the internet. Hired a plane to fly it across the sky. But I haven’t.

 In fact, I waited days to order my proof, which then sat on my desk for two more days. Now over a week later I have still not ordered my copies to distribute ….

Instead, I’ve shared nothing. I’m thinking about new projects, maybe another book, and I have all but rolled over and ignored this significant accomplishment.

But this is what I do. This is what many of us do. We barely wait until the ink is dry before racing onto the next project. We do not take the time to really let it sink in. We do not allow ourselves the satisfaction of acknowledging and honoring what it takes to make our dreams come true.

 Instead, we rush to think we are bragging or that it was ‘really no big deal.’

 So how could I possibly express my full joy unless I stepped back and acknowledged what it  took to bring this journey into being:

  • The courage to write and then speak the words, 
  • The kindness, generosity, support of friends and strangers who believed in what was being created
  • The talented cast and production team and the energy, fortitude, trust and love it took to bring it to the stage, 
  • The tenacity, time, faith and patience to publish it as a book. 

 So I say to you as I say to myself: We must honor the process, the commitment, the persistence, the faith it takes – step by little step, to bring our dreams to life.

  • Yes! Be proud.
  • Yes! Honor the work.
  • Yes! Stand fully in the whole of the soul that transforms the ephemeral into tangible.

 With wonder and awe I stare at the book in my hand!IMG_0957

 Skins I Have Worn

Written by Marianne Simon

 There is a copyright and an ISBN number. I can be found on Lulu and soon Amazon. It is real. It is real.

Now I am ready to shout it from the rooftops. The book is done! I have published a book of poetry! (exclamation points and many emojis)

 Copies will soon be mailed out to the sponsors that helped make it possible.

 And for those who are curious as to what the hoopla is all about, copies are available at Lulu, click HERE to check it out. : 

 To honoring your dreams.

 With so much gratitude.

Why I Wear Mismatched Socks

To remind me.

This writing was inspired by a prompt, “Why would I need a gun?” I didn’t want to write about guns or anything closely resembling guns. But the little voice in my head said it was a prompt and I needed to follow the rules. Follow the rules.

Says who? Says who? I began to question. Change the rules if you don’t like them.  Change the rules.

It’s all made up anyways, all an illusion. So who really cares?  We get all worked up, writhe in agony during this life of ours. But at the end of the day we die. They put a nail in our coffin and bury us six feet under.  And very soon we are forgotten – dust to dust.

 So change the rules!  Now this sounded exciting, freeing.  Except the next question was, “What rules would I change?”

Whoa! Hold on there! Didn’t expect the reaction I felt. That was a great big scary question, opening the door to a snowstorm of possibility. What rules would I change? Because now I would need to take a closer look at all the rules I’d lived my life by.

Rules on how to speak, to act, to write, to live, to love, to be.   

2381008530_c49bb6eb67Suddenly, this was much bigger than I thought. But what a fascinating question. So I decided to start with small baby steps. What if the first rule I changed was that I did not have to wear matching socks? I could do that. Next.

 What if I didn’t have to brush my teeth? Possible downsides to that, but worth taking a look. Since I can change my rules I can also change them back again.

Show up late to a meeting. This one got me twitchy. I am notoriously prompt. But I giggled like a girl at the idea. Yes. Be late.

Be nice. Now we are moving into more dangerous territory. This is a vicious one, wraps around me like barbed wire. Right up there with be considerate and caring and quiet. All quicksand, threatening to pull me under.

Go gently. Test it, touch it, taste it.

What if I changed the rules? 

  • Be late.
  • Be rude, crude, blunt.
  • Be mean, nasty, bitchy, witchy, selfish.
  • Be lazy, slow, loose, lost.

 Scary. Naked scary. But so freeing to just speak them out loud. Ripping off the constraints, removing the girdle, tearing off the bra. Breathing deep, standing under a spring rain.

We all have our rules. The list is endless, planted long ago and far away. They are hidden so deep,  woven into the very fabric of who we believe we are that most of the time we cannot see them.

Not all rules are meant to be changed. But all are worth the inquiry.  What are the rules  I live by? What are the rules I want to change?

Today I will wear mismatched socks and remember to be kind to myself.  

A reminder.

How about you?TvyamNb-BivtNwcoxtkc5xGBuGkIMh_nj4UJHQKuprtAejtpGgdPFVbdYgakeT4rD7BNBP1vJKu-

 

Asking

Yesterday I realized that the biggest stumbling block to my asking was my own belief in the value of what I had to offer.

 As I begin the process of applying for fiscal sponsorship with the LA Women’s Theater Project, it dawned on me that for the first time, perhaps ever, I was asking for money for my art.

 Raised with the paradigm that artists did it for love, I spent most of my adult life working a day job so that I could support my ‘fix.’ For years I worked voluntarily as an actress, and then went on to direct and produce shows with my own money. Some could say I believed in the projects enough to fund them. But looking back I question that. Rather it was that I was never sure anyone else would believe in them enough to support them….

 So what a new experience to suddenly consider going out for a crowd funding campaign, or applying for a grant. And even though I can still feel the hedging in the back of my mind (worse comes to worse I can put it on my credit cards), the fact that I am even considering it is huge.

 The big difference is that perhaps for the first time, I believe in what I have to offer. I believe that the topic of Skins I Have Worn” is vitally important to share. I believe that I was given the gifts that I was, the experiences that I had, for this very purpose. And I believe in my ability to express this work in a way that is uniquely mine.

 Huge tectonic plates shift at that. Because of course, all of this is tied to the bigger question: ‘Am I worthy?’

 I finally understand, in my gut, that this very deep core pattern of beliefs is also at the heart of my on-going struggle with abundance. How could I ever expect to feel abundant if I didn’t believe….

 The irony is I’ve spent thousands of dollars on seminars and workshops that were all about abundance and prosperity. They talked about all this stuff. I did the exercises and the affirmations, and all of that – but little of it worked – at the time.

 What is the difference now? Many things. Though it is a cliché it is also the truth. I am older now, wiser now, more mature, tempered by life and its hard knocks. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that. I do my morning pages every day, I try to walk on the beach every day. I have integrated new practices like tantric dancing that help me connect to the Divine. I am learning to trust in something larger than myself. And I strive to see challenges and obstacles as new lessons to be learned.

 There is no short cut, no easy answer, at least not for me. I am still a work in progress – by no means finished with this evolution. My resistance regularly comes up in new and clever ways. Just as I get one lesson learned, another sprouts up to throw me off.

 But I do know that as I write this post I am not where I used to be. The proof: I can tell you that as I rise every morning at dawn to work on my application, I honestly believe there is no reason they should turn me down.

“Skins I Have Worn – explores the topic of violence against women. Revealed thru words and dance, it is catches glimpses of several women as they journey thru the dark lands.   Along the way, it touches on love and obsession, sex and violence and ultimately forgiveness and freedom. It is my story. It is our story.

To your Journey !

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