Cottonwood in the Flood

I had the opportunity to view a special showing of Cottonwood in the Flood, Saturday, June 11 at the International Firehouse Cultural Center (IFCC). Bottom line: two thumbs up, beautiful exploration of history through the lens of one family.

I graduated from Portland State University in 2008 (unbeknownst to me, it started as Vanport College). In my studies, which focused on urban planning, community development, and geography, Vanport was mentioned a few times. It can be summarized thus: ship building, segregation, and a big flood. The conversation was sometimes the start of tracking a history of Portland race relations where, often, poor and black found themselves the object of eminent domain (Memorial Coliseum, Legacy-Emmanuel Hospital, I-5 corridor), and most recently the increase of gentrification in North Portland. What was never clear to me was where Vanport was, who it really affected, and how we could have let something like this happen with the flood.

A friend in housing-social justice recommended I see Cottonwood in the Flood, so when the opportunity presented itself, I had to say yes.

Cottonwood in the Flood, written by local playwright Rich Rubin and directed by local artist Damaris (rhymes with “glamorous”) Webb, was a beautiful collage of local headlines, radio reports, and relevant history, knit together through the story of one family. The companion piece is the exhibit IFCC hosted on their second floor gallery, where you can see maps, local headlines, and other stories about what happened in Vanport.

What happened in Vanport – it has ended with a muddled history and retelling, until now. For example, to give a nod to the suffering, there is a display on one of the transit stops giving space for the history where it happened. It would be like taking all the suffering of Hurricane Katrina and siphoning it to one train stop. A train stop that has a particular audience, is off the beaten bath, and you have to be in the know to know it’s even there.

Thanks to people like Damaris Webb and Rich Rubin, along with the actors in the play and their community partners, we can explore this complex history more fully. Rich Rubin’s play, Cottonwood in the Flood, explores the allure of hope and a better way for a family under the cloud of war. His play explains the changing tensions, the unfairness, the subtle racisms, the overt racisms, the government double speak, while telling it through a family you easily fall in love with. Grandpa, mom, dad, and two brothers, who all they want is a better life where they can achieve their own human potential. It’s their story of how they navigate the social constraints, how it affects their moods, their livelihoods, and how they overcome … or don’t.

I spent four years at Portland State, and I never got a comprehensive story of what Vanport was. Two hours plus a 30 minute discussion, and I finally have a working understanding of the hope, the devastation, and the work we have to do to never forget.

See also…

The Mercury’s review
Vanport Mosaic
Damaris Webb
Rich Rubin

Setting the day up for success

I am not consistent with diffusing in the early hours to set the tone of my house. But, I’d be remiss to leave the house without my trusty oils by my side. Essential oils have the power to support moods, whole body health, and sometimes they just smell good. So, over the last several months, I’ve gotten in the habit of using ClaryCalm (the women’s monthly blend) and Whisper (the women’s blend) with coconut oil as my deodorant. This fragrance, by fair, gets the most comments. A day doesn’t go by when I wear these two oils that someone asks, “What is that smell?” or, “What are you wearing?” It took me a long time to admit that it was me!

Which oil do you sport daily?

From an enneagram 9: I matter

It usually starts like this: I decide I want to do something. Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s reading. Maybe it’s honoring the time I gave to work. Maybe it’s showing up at a meeting and holding back my opinion until I think it’s absolutely relevant. I am waiting, watching the energy in the room, inspiring myself to get the courage to be vulnerable or say what’s on my mind.

I identify as an Enneagram 9. One thing we 9s have a hard time with is owning our feelings and recognizing that we have an opinion that is worth hearing. If, for example, I appear to be lost in thought, as soon as someone asks me what’s on my mind or what my opinion of a thing is that might be happening at that moment, all those thoughts and conclusions I was drawing disappear with the interruption. It takes me, sometimes, a very long time to identify what I was feeling in a moment as I test out feelings, measure against experience, and see if that is right.

Some call Enneagram 9s the Peacemaker. At first, when I read that we 9s like harmony, it didn’t sit well. I resisted that thought. But, as it sat, as I rolled it around in my mind, I acknowledged that it does ring true. I don’t like to make waves. I want to be valued. I want everyone to be valued. And, I want conflict handled elegantly without too many raised emotions. Loud outbursts of anger, for example, make me withdraw. Unless it’s my own!

So, it starts with the formation of an opinion. And it often tracks where maybe I get interrupted. I raise my hand to speak, and someone speaks over me. I set up to write, and someone walks in the room and just starts talking. I voice an opinion in a group and someone contradicts it, in effect telling me that my opinion wasn’t just invalid, but not true.

And, I remain conflicted. I desire harmony. So this other, whomever it might be – a family member, a colleague, a friend, should be valued more than me. “I don’t matter” is the story I have told myself since I was small in the midst of large family gatherings where talking over one another was the norm, and I sat quietly at the table trying to make sense of it all wondering why no one would listen to me.

As an adult, one thing I struggle with is rewriting the story. It’s just a script, I am reminded by coaches and self-help gurus. And, the thing with a script is: it’s just words. You can change the words. Our human world is complex. We are messy. We all have an important point we bring to the table, coupled with a valuable fear that shapes our human existence.

I am writing this, harkening back to a comment a friend made how my blogs are very-diary like. Though that’s not my intent, I can see how it reads that way. Especially with a post like this. I am reluctant to post it. It feels too vulnerable. I can hear people chiding me for feeling this way. I can hear voices saying things like, “suck it up, life ain’t fair,” or similar. But, those voices reinforce the old script, that I don’t matter.

Here’s to a new script. Your voice matters, even if it’s expressing loudly and angrily. Your voice matters if it takes all the courage to speak up and you are still as quiet as a church mouse. MY voice matters because I am the only one that shares this perspective with my experience. I have something to add to the conversation, and some days, my patience wears thin waiting for my turn to speak.

Sometimes what you're most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.
Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.

Using Oils Internally

One of my favorite ways for getting the benefits of any oil in me is through internal use. When I started using the oils, I added orange oil to my water. At the time, I was locked into an 8:30 am – 5 pm desk job. I was a main point of contact, so my mobility was limited. Colleagues would often walk to the nearest convenience store, and they would generously ask if they could get me anything. I routinely asked for something sweet, like a brownie.

Now, here’s the thing. We weren’t talking about a quality brownie. There was no richness. There was no delectable quality of cocoa and flours coming together to satisfy an intense chocolate craving. No, we are talking about the most replicable, boxed, processed thing in all its unhealthy glory.

And I would eat one, every single day. Every single day.

Until the oils were introduced. And I noticed my cravings weren’t calling out to me. My water tasted bright and uplifting, and I wasn’t relying on a sub par dessert to get me through my morning.

Here’s another great resource on using the oils internally.

A great summary of the benefits and some uses of Wild Orange.

Use Essential Oils in the Laundry

One of my favorite ways to use essential oils is in the laundry. I like slathering my wool dryer balls with an oil of my choice. Not only do the dryer balls reduce drying time, but then I get an all-natural clean smell for my laundry – with therapeutic benefits.

A few tips using essential oils in the laundry.

Renewed Whole 30

Two full Whole 30 plans. The rest of the year was a loose 80/20 following, lowering our grain input, but not saying “no” to prohibited foods like Oreos when cravings arose.

What does this mean? When we focused on eating right, managing stress, and getting that nutrition right, our bodies shifted. We slept better, our hearts got right, our waists got thinner, and doctor visits were radiant.

Separately, during the 80/20 time, we noticed stress rise, then our waists got thicker, and movement got harder. So, another plan was in order. We attempted to do it during Lent, mocking last year identically. But, we didn’t. We enabled each other towards cravings. Until the husband had it with the tightening belt, and we started again on March 27. Frankly, it’s been a hard week. We’re hungry and relearning what we can eat.

The boy had a sleepover, so we cheated (completely against the rules) on Saturday with a compliant meal peppered with a very non-compliant Mimosa.

Today, we’re out of food and pay-day is tomorrow. So, I’m scrounging in the fridge to find enough food to stave off hunger. I purposefully used up our store-bought mayo a few months ago. Our protein source is down to a dozen boiled eggs or canned tuna. What’s a girl to do? No real mayo, no eggs… Google to the rescue and it gave me Jane’s Healthy Kitchen recipe. Having all the ingredients, I had to try it. I desired to make it Whole 30 compliant, so I withheld sweetener, but all I tasted was the apple cider vinegar. So, I added about a tablespoon of local honey to cut the acid.

My nutrition friend Leigh, crediting ATP Science, added, “the ACV will help manage the insulin response… so that’s a good addition. If you added turmeric in, the vegetable oil will convert to DHEA omega 3 like fish oil.” Definitely try for next time!