I wanted to send out this image of thanksgiving to everyone who has made my adventure this year safe and pleasant under globally adverse circumstances. This post is dedicated to the medical response teams on frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.
Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

Much of this year for me has been in relative isolation writing a new biography of Helen Keller for a series called “Women Making History” that is coming from the minds ABC-CLIO. The first volume on RBG is in the marketplace now, and I hope to Helen’s story will come out sometime during her the 120th anniversary of her birth. Some of my fellow authors have commented on the impact of deeply exploring the lives of great women on their lives during this pandemic.

I am so grateful that I had not only a double exploration with Helen and Annie Sullivan Macy, but a deeper exploration of Helen, Annie, and Helen’s mother Catherine “Kate” Keller who was essentially written out of her daughter’s story. It is more poignant that I should look at Helen’s life within a context of a pandemic period and see nuances of three women dealing with tremendous societal change, political and economic turmoil, and the centennial of women getting the vote. Helen lived most of her life in isolation due to her being deaf-blind but she was not insular; her courage was found in her undying desire to reach out in the world of ideas and to do good in areas relevant to her within the context of her times. I try to frame Helen within a diversely talented community of deaf-blind, deaf, and blind individuals.

I am thankful for my time with Helen Keller. Women from the past have stories and wisdom to share even when they were not famous; this is what drew me into the study of folklore. In America, we should be thankful to have such diverse groups of women offering insights and we should never be afraid to look to them within the context of our times and challenges for inspiration and wisdom. Women… back then and today… are not the equitable. Women… back then and today… do not agree. Women back then and today… are natural leaders and emerging leaders. I am thankful for the ability to time-travel to visit the human condition from the past, to witness history created today, and look for and record stories that may be relevant to posterity. I am thankful for today. I am hopeful for tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for my family and friends always. Please follow safety guidelines in your celebrations for love-ones and posterity. We must look beyond the comforts of today if we are to reach for tomorrow and heal wounds. We must get beyond partisan bickering and work together in unity to solve broad societal problems.

My heartfelt thanks to those nurses, doctors, medical staff, postal carriers, delivery folks, and essential workers who may put themselves at risk for the benefit all of us. Helen Keller’s words of unity purpose hold true now: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much…” to get through this pandemic, preserve life, and build a society were all lives matter.

Drawing of a basket bottom with basket maker’s signature by Meredith Eliassen

I will never forget my conversations in March 2011 with Kathy Wallace (Karuk, Yurok, member of Hoopa Valley Tribe), who taught basket weaving in San Francisco State University’s American Indian Studies Department. Kathy elevated my consciousness when she told me how baskets could be made to honor loved ones and to serve practical functions. Basket makers could take years to gather materials with which to engineer a single basket immersed in tribal tradition, to honor elders and children who are the next generation and our collective future. Materials for baskets come from the spirit world to serve a needed function and when that function is served the material is returned to the spirit world. California Indian baskets change with the times to suit the need at hand; they never pass into extinction, but they may scatter to the winds like acorns carried to distant lands by birds. Baskets reflect a consciousness of man’s relationship within a spiritual universe in which nature is a “being” and humans are part of that greater being. I reflect on Kathy’s message now; it calms me in this unusual time.

Women vote today…

October 30, 2020

Women fought too long to have the vote for us not to go to the polls now… there are too many areas of life, health, and family well-being at stake. Women first voted in local, state, and then national elections. Where we make ourselves heard, change happens. Let’s vote with our minds, hearts and wallets and sent message up and down the ballot. Be heard.

An abstract “tree of life” design with African folk design motifs by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

News of fire in the grove of towering conifers in Big Basin Redwoods State Park in August 2020 and images of smoldering red flames inside the base trunk of a beloved ancient redwood offer no comfort in Northern California’s oppressive heat and smoke of the last week. However, as a native Californian, I am optimistic nature’s intelligent design means these groves will be reborn. The ecology of the Redwoods is resiliently designed by a higher power. The thousand-plus-year-old ancient Redwoods, or “the Ancients,” have a dense fire-resistant bark that can be a foot thick. The Redwood groves hold particular significance to local California Indian tribes who harvested basket-making material from the sacred forest floors for function and ceremony. Indigenous Californian have been great stewards of the region’s natural ecology as ethnobotanists. Native Americans understand the need for planned burns to maintain groves and manage ground-level growth during long cold seasons so in times of drought, there is no excessive fuel for fires.

Lightning strikes caused this fire. Nature may not be convenient to us humans who are set in our ways and live and build homes in densely wooded areas with little humility for their dominant ecology, but Nature takes care of us even in our ignorance. As the Ancients of the Redwood groves reach to the sky, branches are few near the forest floor. The Ancients as Redwood ancestors watch over the passing of generations from above. The largest redwoods seeming stand alone. When the fogs return with moisture from the nearby Pacific ocean, we may, if we watch over time, see how life is naturally renewed. In familial clusters within the redwoods, the oldest surviving trees scarred by past blazes stand in the middle, a few younger giants will support the center Ancestor, and a circle of younger trees will eventually emerge in a beautiful chain of life. Let us be hopeful and humble as nature does her best work.

Amendment XIX was ratified a hundred years ago today. It asserts the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on about of sex. It is a work in progress with every generation as democracy remains a political experiment. Let’s give this amendment the power it deserves and needs… women vote women vote women vote… design by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

When my workplace responded to the pandemic, we thought it would be for a few weeks. Nobody imagined we might be wearing masks for a prolonged time. This was the last drawing on my board done around March 15, 2020. “Be not afraid of sudden fears.” Proverbs 3:25. Wise words, indeed. I am also thinking that we should not be complacent in these surreal circumstances. I am picturing lots of flowers in the coming weeks as I return to the drawing board after a working summer. I look forward to more frequent posts as I gain my rhythm again. Drawing by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

Remembering Zorro…

August 10, 2020

Zorro seemed to think that he was a little fox hiding when visiting me in a dream and tugged on my sleeve to get my attention, but I see you and remember you. Each decade emerges like a fox camouflaged as just another year with the hint of winter but no sign yet of the new growth of spring. When I posted this image at the New Year, I had no idea what the new decade would bring. My dear family friend is gone, but he is never far away. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

Thanks to my new friends who sent messages of encouragement. I just today submitted a book manuscript I have been working on since April 2019, so I hope to pull out my beloved Micron pens and return to the drawing board soon. Blessings to you all, MME

Prayers for out elephant friends

The Botswana elephants have been in my thoughts recently. Beyond worrying about pandemics impacting humans, we need to care for all of the creatures of earth because we are all connected and share a home here. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

Today is a rare summer solstice eclipse, the last happen in 2001, the next will happen in 2039, followed by another in 2058, and after that almost two centuries will pass before we experience such an opportunity for global transformation.

What does this ephemeral steel butterfly today want to tell you in a time of pandemic? Out of fear, we have within us the opportunity for global transformation. This is an opportunity when one individual can act in Love to heal many. The power of transformation is within each and every one of us when we master hate with Love. To quote Mary Baker Eddy, “Love must triumph over hate.” (from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)

Take a moment to reflect on how I can act with Love to care for those around me… to make a stranger’s life a little easier… to work with cultural humility within my community to foster well being in this time of crisis…

How can I demote illegitimate hate within myself instead of looting or plundering by force those who are challenged by the same social injustices as me?

Can I afford small act of kindness to bolster community well-being? Do I have ideas and philosophies that I can share to heal another’s pain? Can I create a safe place within myself for fostering hope?

Can I live with less material comforts so I am not compelled to support excessive wealth of a few who might profit from dependency on such things?

A moment of a perceived ring of fire may seem to be an eternity, but it passes quickly and is gone… but a moment of quiet reflection before decisive action can have implications that impact generations to come.

Butterfly design by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 10, 2020

To all of the mothers of odd little chicks, I wish you peace, good health, and lots of love. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.