Dee's Blog
Mon 10/27/2008
The Power of Voices Sustained by an Advocate
Topic: Power

At the time of Pearl Harbor (1941), there were 110,000 people of Japanese descent who were immediately considered people to be feared, simply because of their ancestry.  They were guilty by association.  Just as many survivors of abuse are considered to be, despite the fact that the sole blame for the atrocities lies with the perpetrators.

We can gain insight into the importance of the voices of the innocent because one wise and caring woman, who was the librarian at the school where many of the children had been attending, before being abruptly shipped to internment camps.   Her name was Clara Breed.

Clara went to the train station to see her students off.  At the time of that sorrowful departure, she placed in their hands self-addressed, stamped post cards and urged them to keep in touch.  The collection grew to 250 pieces of mail, many of them now available at

Over the next few days, I plan to be elaborating on this important work of Ms. Breed and her students.

All to show the power of the individual voice and the need for each of us to do all we can to encourage communication from people who, for whatever reason, have had their voices squelched from the view of the masses of people who are more privileged.  At least, privileged because of greater power and wealth, which seems to be the way most of us define "privilege."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 1:56 PM CDT
Sun 10/26/2008
Understanding Grace
Topic: spirituality


Ron and I had supper with a great friend last night.  He's a survivor who also happens to be a very spiritually-minded Quaker minister.  In the course of our free-flowing conversation, he mentioned a survivor to whom he had been a support person for several years. 

Sadly, he'd recently received word of her sudden, untimely death from natural causes.  The one who informed him commented that the woman had, sadly, never been able to experience the grace of God.

To which my friend replied that he rejoiced that she was, at least, now experiencing the grace that God had been trying to extend to her all of her life.  That's how he understands grace.  I thought that was beautiful, yet can only be comprehended by a small percentage of people.

May the grace and peace that comes from deep within, connected to the higher power that you understand today, be yours.  Thereby connecting you to a great, universal spirituality that is beyond comprehension for all of us.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:32 AM CDT
Fri 10/24/2008
The Carefree Atmosphere of My Voting Place
Topic: Making Decisions

What delighted me most about the experience of early voting was the carefree atmosphere.  Unlike the usual poling places where I've gone in the past, often managed by aged people who tend to be stiffled, extremely serious and deliberate,  the auditor's office was open and friendly, with younger people who seemed delighted I was there.  Also delighted with the large number of children who were learning at some level about the process as they sat by their parents or just played nearby.  Children who will, hopefully, will never believe like the apathetic woman who is throwing away her vote this year.  

Just being among these young parents and children gave me a spirit of optimism!

These are the children we must inspire and teach in all that we do, even as protect them and their freedoms in every way we possibly can.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Thu 10/23/2008
The Scales of Justice
Topic: Power

To cast my early vote, I went to our county courthouse.  Inside is a statue of the familiar "lady" holding the scales of justice.  Impressive, spanning two floors over the staircase that many people have walked on their way to the courtrooms.  Filled with hope.  Or dread.   Some have exited in handcuffs, escorted to prison.  Others have smiled at the "lady" before departing, I'm sure.  Some family members have wept.  Others have shouted. 

As I stood waiting for the elevator, my eyes weren't drawn to the "lady."  Instead I focused on the scales.   Thinking how often they are weighted by cultural beliefs, before judicial processes even start.  Beliefs that blame the victim or convict the accused before there is a chance to even start the hearings.  What a tricky, daunting, seemingly impossible task it is for those of us who are not God to ever hope of achieving a perfect balance!  What a contrast between the beauty of this lovely "lady" and the ominous, yet very fragile,  scales she held in her hands!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tue 10/21/2008 8:16 AM CDT
Wed 10/22/2008
Contrasting our Rights with Those of Others
Topic: Making Decisions

 In my opinion, the woman I met, who refuses to vote, needs to spend at least a year in a country where she has none of our blessed freedoms. She needs to be in a place where the government hands down decisions with a heavy hand, behaving as if it is God instead of the tyrant that such governments really are.

I've lived in a country where freedom of speech and freedom of press and freedom of choice were not a privilege.   Neither was the freedom of religion.   Of course, the lady also has the freedom not to vote.  Thereby, relinquishing her right to have a part in one of the most important elections in the history of our nation.  She has the right to be apathetic. 

The first commandment is one I'd like to see as a universal one, even though it comes from a religious text that happens to be Judeo-Christian.  No government, no institution, and no religion--in fact, no religious text--should be God.  When we allow it to be, we make the "god" a tyrant.  And that's power abuse.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tue 10/21/2008 8:15 AM CDT
Tue 10/21/2008
Down with Apathy, Up with Choice
Topic: Making Changes

"I've seen 'em on TV.   I know what they are saying.  I'm not interested in either one.  I'll just see what happens."  That came from a middle-aged woman who opened her door to my attempt to engage her in a conversation about early voting last week.  My stomach was already churning from the reek of tobacco coming from inside the residence.  I found the repulsion of the woman's attitude more repulsive than the tobacco.

While I accept that everyone has a different idea about how to achieve "liberty and justice for all,"  the idea that individuals in a free society would choose to believe that voting is not a responsibility--that's what upsets me far more than the ones who have views far different from mine on the issues that are high on my list.

I voted yesterday and encourage you to do so.   Just in case something happens that prevents you from going to the polls on election day.  It's an opportunity I never want to miss.  What's more, I plan to be using my little set of wheels to get others to the polls on election day.   Maybe you can consider doing this, as well.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:49 AM CDT
Mon 10/20/2008

When I was in North Carolina a few years ago, one lady gave me more encouragement than anyone there.  She was the one who told me not to worry for one minute about further coordinating a speaking engagement in Raleigh.  She said this within 60 seconds of getting her on the phone, as soon as she heard I was coming there on a speaking tour.  She assured me that she knew the people who would be most interested and would see that they were assembled at Meredith College, a renowned women's college in the city.  She did!

Laura Hilton is with Interact, an organization that is about working for oppressed people.  One of it's primary concerns is sexual and domestic violence.  Laura happens to African-American. 

Interact is asking us to get involved in supporting their organization, as well as a cause for which they are working.  So I'm passing this along to you.   It only take 60 seconds!

 For every Interact friend who visits between now and Friday, Oct. 24, Allscripts will donate $3 to us, up to a possible total donation of $10,000!

Now, $3 may not sound like much but if every one of our supporters were to visit the website and watch the 1-minute video, it would amount to a sizable donation.  And, it’s a race between us and four other Triangle charities to get the most viewers and capture the largest donation. 

So please go now to, leave your name (no other information is necessary), select Interact
, and watch the video called “Connect to Health.” The video humorously describes a key problem with healthcare today – the lack of connectivity between doctors, hospitals, labs and other parts of the system.  And it spells out the solution.

Share this email with your friends and acquaintances … send it to your colleagues and family.  When you forward this message, try not to include more than 25 addresses at a time to avoid your message ending up in Spam or Junk folders. Every viewing represents $3 more towards building our financial strength, so we can continue to provide great services to the community.

Now go watch the video!  J

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:51 AM CDT
Sun 10/19/2008
The Courage to Heal
Topic: coping
Some of you may be interested to know that the 20th anniversary edition of The Courage to Heal is out.  No doubt the authors have learned much since the original publication.  Just as everyone in this work. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:40 PM CDT
Fri 10/17/2008
Following "Idols"
Topic: spirituality

A lady by the name of Robin was on the Today show this morning.  Chosen because, for the past year, she's been doing everything that Oprah prefaces with "you just have to do this" or "have to have this."  She's spent about $3000 already buying things that Oprah says we all need--I doubt anything I have is on the list except for low-heel shoes (probably not the ones she recommends, though). 

Robin isn't necessarily an Oprah fan, though it sounds like she admires her about as much as I do.  She just wanted to make a very good point.  Wanted to show just how ridiculous life can become if one unquestionably follows anyone.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:07 AM CDT
Tue 10/14/2008
Patience Wanted, Not Perfection
Topic: Making Changes

Some people, including many of my students, believe that patience and passivity go hand in hand.  They do not know the difference.  This goes for some of the parents of students, as well.

Problem is that they want me to be patient when they are passive.  Or pretending.  Both of the latter P words refer to another P word.  Spelled with a big P.  You guessed it--Practice!

What makes a good teacher is the same that thing makes a good student.  That leads to a 5th P word.  Persistence.

Whether we are dealing with systems or working on ourselves, a sixth P word needs to be eliminated.  That would be Perfection.

Occasionally, we'll get things perfect.  Problem with piano, like a lot of things in life, is that what one person sees as perfect, the next will only see as Progress.   Sometimes my students come in thinking they've gotten something perfect, only to find out that I see their "accomplishment" as Pitiful!  Depending on my mood that day, I may not be as patient as they would like when that occurs.  On my good days, I'll resort to just being persistent and give them a good lecture on the importance of paying closer attention to the details they are supposed to consider important already.  That is, if they want to make music rather than just a bunch of strident noise.

Practice does NOT make perfect--at least not usually.  It does make Progress in all of us.  Keeping this in mind is essential, as we patiently approach our own personal struggles, system challenges, or with individuals who can drive us insane. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 1:59 PM CDT

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