Friday, December 19, 2008

Potty time!

If a picture paints a thousand words...tell me some that come to mind when you look at this one. Hahah!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are they denser?

Clark just recently Art Directed the music video for the Killers latest song, Human. I like the song...but nobody seems to know whether it is "Are we human? Or are we dancer?" or is it "Or are we denser?" I looked online and found that most went with the "dancer"...which seems like a non sequitor question. Also, I didn't know that humans and dancers were opposites...? In an effort to philosophize they went with vague and "poetic". There are different interpretations posited for either and as always I am fascinated how meaning can be found in anything. is a good song...even if the meaning may be obscure. Are they obscure to sound wiser?
Funny how that is a method used a lot today to substitute for plain speaking truth and wisdom. It is easy to be dazzled by "deep" and startling verbal acrobatics. As in The Princess Bride when the Sicilian is in the Battle of Wits with Wesley and he talks in circles and convoluted phrases...
"Truly, you have a dizzying intellect" Wesley observes.
"Wait 'til I get going! " He exults.
Sometimes when listening to a politician or a learned person of the world that exchange goes through my mind and I have to smile. Often wisdom has few words and much talking is a smokescreen for ignorance or guile. As I listen to "those who speak" I will wonder about their sincerity, I will wonder about their alliance to truth and I will ask myself..."Are they clever, or are the denser?" (=

Monday, November 24, 2008


Two teen girls live with us now. Fun and drama abound. They are a source of enjoyment and concern.
I watch their struggles. I see how the world has selfishly polluted their environment, spiritually, and physically...young growing things trying to be strong, pushing down to root in toxic soil. The very air and climate is unfriendly to healthy growth. It is a madness I cannot account for. Can anything good survive and bear fruit in these conditions?
Look at what we have done to the environment; to the point that much of what we eat is unsuitable to nourish us. The water and natural resources have been corrupted. To me this is analogous to what we have also done culturally and morally.
There is a parable about seeds being sown in various places, and the outcome of the seeds according to the quality of the earth. Of course, the earth in this parable represents the inner fecundity of our souls and not that of our environment. And the seed is knowledge, faith and strength. But what if we are the seeds and our culture and surroundings are the only earth to grow in? There is little doubt that we would perish in pollution.
Fortunately, unlike a plant, people can make decisions. We can choose to not drink the water provided and we can willfully heal the environment. When the local soil is unsuitable we can build boxes and fill it with the good stuff to plant in. A person can decide that certain philosophies, lifestyles, entertainment, etc. are toxic and destructive; choose another source of nourishment. We adapt and survive, one good decision at a time. We all know people who do remarkably well despite their disadvantaged situations…my father is one. He came from poverty and abuse and found better soil to plant himself in when he found the gospel. And the opposite is true too. Somebody can have all the advantages and choose to drink the poisoned water outside of the grow box. So, as the parable suggests, the inner soil is the soil that counts most.
We can’t afford to just accept what is being served by anyone who comes through the garden gate. We must question it, challenge it, inform ourselves and reason with the evidence; when we are told something is “OK” there is often massive proof to the contrary. No person, government, business or group really can be responsible for our nurturance- and most of the time would not care to be, negligent at gardening for our sakes…they have other interests. We need to become active participants in our own cultivation and growth by choosing better soil... and choosing a better Gardener, one who brings us clean and living water. This is how we can flourish and bloom wherever we are planted.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

No words...

Writers block. For awhile now...can't put thoughts together on paper. Can't think. Feel like prehistoric woman smearing mud on a wall. Need sleep. Need hugs. Need chocolate.
Trying to connect the dots.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


At ten years old I was one of those tomboys with a boy’s nickname, and if it weren’t for the skirts I was forced to wear you would probably have a hard time knowing I was a girl. I hated skirts. My mom made me wear them to school so I would behave more “lady like”. Everyone else at the time wore acid washed, pegged jeans with neon sweatshirts and matching socks. I looked like something from Little House On the Prairie, but maybe it inadvertently reflected my dual nature.
I rode the smelly, yellow bus to and from school everyday. With the early morning mad dash to the bus stop I sucked in cold air until my lungs hurt. The few times I missed the bus I could see the kids in the back watch me walk back home, defeated; I cursed my skirt and kicked rocks with my high top tennis shoes as I tried to look casual- as if I was unaware a bus even existed. I was just out for a walk at seven in the morning on a school day.
On the ride home I sat at the back of the bus with the tough kids. I had to be extra tough because I wore a skirt- like that song “A Boy Named Sue.” Nobody would tease me to my face-- I made it clear I would clobber them.
My little brother was crazy. He had a high tolerance for pain and never got tired. He was a legend in our neighborhood. That kid had more battle scars at eight than anybody I have ever known. One time he jumped out of the window of our two story house because he had been grounded to his room. We were a formidable duo that other kids showed respect to. At the back of the bus we ruled supreme. Our neighbor from across the street, a boy who screamed high pitched like a girl but acted like Han Solo, sat with us. Then there was obnoxious Maurice. He was half white and half black, with a fuzzy round hairdo and buck teeth. He always started fights and said things to bug you. Nobody liked him but he always sat with us.
One day Maurice seemed more ornery than usual. He was grabbing my brother’s back pack and calling our neighbor “Freckled Freak.” We told him to cut it out, but he was the one kid screwed up enough to not fear us. Maybe because we were nothing compared to what he had to fear at home. Anyhow, he was being a bad example to the others on the bus.
“Just wait ‘til we get off this bus, you jerk.” I warned with my most menacing voice and slantiest glare.
“What are you going to do? Dance with me to death, Cinderella?” He tugged at my flowery skirt.
He had to pay. I glanced at my henchmen and they nodded. Time to teach that snot a lesson. The four of us got off at the same stop. Several of the kids who usually get off a few streets later followed us. We stood and faced Maurice with a ring of kids around us as the bus groaned away from the bus stop. Beside us was a large cement trench used for drainage and a stop sign. Maurice laughed nervously and backed up to the edge of the trench.
“Get him!” my brother yelled and ran toward him with his fists flying. The neighbor boy roared like Chewbacca and followed. They all ended up at the bottom of the trench pounding and kicking. The other kids stood with me as I looked down at the show and they cheered. Like I said- nobody liked Maurice. My brother and neighbor did some theatrical flying kicks using the stop sign pole to swing around on- they were living the dream. After awhile Maurice curled up into a little ball and stopped fighting back. At that point the crowd broke up and my two warriors gave a last kick or two to their defeated foe. At that point it wasn’t a show anymore- the audience gone and the enemy pitifully moaning at our feet. My brother and the neighbor boy walked away and left me alone with Maurice.
I was a toughie and he annoyed me, yet my heart began to ache for him. I gathered my skirt in my hand and jumped into the trench. Maurice rolled over and looked up at me. His nose was bleeding but, I think that wasn’t the source of the pain I saw in his eyes. In a weird way I guess we were his only friends- if you could call us that. I pulled him up without a word and half carried him down the long road that stretched to a dead end. A dirt canal full of weeds lined the street that passed in front of some of the older and more run down houses of his neighborhood. I let go of him and he straightened up, still sniffling. There was blood on my shoulder but, I didn’t say anything. We were almost to his house so I decided to let him continue on alone- (no need to face his parents- if he had them).
“You OK?” I asked.
“Yeah. No big deal.” He said.
I watched him hobble farther away and I turned toward my house which seemed miles away. After I had walked a bit I heard him call out from up the street so I turned around.
“You @$#%* girl!” He screamed and flipped me off at a safe distance.
All my mother instincts vanished. I chased him down, my skirt waving like a battle flag. I fumed. He made a fool of me and knew it. He laughed and tried to run on his hurt leg but I caught up and shoved him into the dried up canal. Lying on his back in the weeds he looked up at me with a mix of surprise and admiration. I looked down in disgust, pinched the sides of my skirt and curtsied low. I left him in that ditch and didn’t feel sorry for him again- until years later when I thought about it and realized he was only ten years old. I have wondered what was behind the doors of that sagging house where the road dead ended.

Friday, June 27, 2008



Time bloats like water

Something inside.

Turning with days

Awakened by moon

The unavoidable tide.

Small spongy cork

Swelling to block

the only escape.

Plugging the hole

Against pounding wave.

The groaning vessel,

Screaming surf and

Bursting dam

Here I am.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Plastic Veteran (point of view, fictional essay)

Uncle Sam said I had fulfilled my duty and could finally come home from the Middle East. I had read my wife’s letters religiously like the Bible and the pictures of my child, who was a baby when I left, became the images upon which I built my fantasies of home. It was somewhat anticlimactic to come off the plane to no cheering. I walked through the airport, got my bag and exited through the glass doors out to the curb. I remember the old days when you said your goodbyes and hellos at the gate, the actual place of departure. I realize there is a vague connection between the war I had been asked to fight in and this new rule. But, it was just a duck and cover routine like in the 1950s when we feared bombing, just a formality. Because… weren’t the terrorists ticketed passengers?
Anyhow on the curb I was hugged and mobbed and flashed at by cameras. Like an out of body experience I saw myself embrace my wife and start to sob into her shoulder but, I don’t know what I felt exactly.
The car neared our house and I saw the lawn fluttering with at least fifty American flags. My wife told me the Boy Scouts had come and staked those in that morning. There was a fat yellow ribbon tied around our spindly tree and a Welcome Back banner over the door. I guessed that meant me. Apparently my wife had planned an open house for the neighborhood to welcome me home. My family, friends and vague acquaintances came and went, smiling and congratulating me. Just glad to be home I think, I mechanically smiled and nodded, wanting to be alone with my wife and the darling little stranger who attached herself to my leg. She squeezed tight and kept repeating “Daddy” over and over again.
Finally everyone was gone. I gave a big sigh and turned to my wife with a grin and scooped up my daughter when the doorbell rang. So my wife opened the door to a family I knew I had never seen before.
“Sorry we are late- we won’t stay. We just heard about you and wanted to say welcome back. We moved here while you were gone.” The man with the goatee smiled enthusiastically and his wife did too.
Two little boys stood uncertainly between them and glanced up. The older one who was 6 or 7 was wearing camouflage pants and a plastic dog tag. He held out a piece of paper to me and a big chocolate bar.
“Thank you.” I said for the millionth time that day.
“Thanks to you for going out there for all of us” the wife said.
“Too bad he isn’t in uniform” my wife said to the boy.
“Oh- he would have liked that- as you can probably tell” the dad said.
When they had gone I looked at the paper. Scrawled in crayon it said “You’re my hero.” And there was the drawing of a soldier in uniform saluting the American flag. On the bottom it said “Freedom”. Also there was a small plastic army man taped to one side who had an impressive and unidentifiable piece of artillery resting on his shoulder. Hero. Me?
My uniform hung in the closet, clean and unwrinkled. It was hard to imagine what it had looked like days earlier. The folks at home would never see it with rings of sweat and dirt and blood on it. This war is complicated. It isn’t clear cut like the true fight for freedom that the American Revolution was. In that war everyone knew the cause. The colonies wanted freedom from the King and the right to govern themselves. Even the opposition knew that was what the fight was about. I wish it was that easy now because it would be more satisfying to serve and sacrifice if I knew all the reasons why, wouldn't it? Maybe there were no real reasons...what if I was a toy in some game?
Being home, not a lot has changed. America seems the same- so far removed from her all important struggle across the sea. I guess I am back to normal too....can't be sure if it ever even happened sometimes. Just about the only place that isn’t normal is the airport which still makes no sense to me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Little Jack on the move

An outing with Jack... he had so much fun. He has come so far. I was fascinated by other people's reactions to him. Some smiled, some stared and some ignored in awkward embarrassment. To me it was a delight to see him feeling so free and grown up- so proud of himself!
What would you think if you saw a tiny child whizzing past you in a walker? How could you not burst into a smile? Go, Jack, go!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Devotion... (fictional essay)

I used to wonder what it would feel like to be devoted to somebody or something. You know, the kind of devotion like that man in Sri Lanka had, that loved God so much that he pulled all his guts out and held them in a bowl for 24 hours to prove his devotion, then he put them all back in and lived- it’s true, I read about it in Guinness. What would I ever be willing to bare my guts for?

It turns out that there wasn’t anything noble about me most of my life. I took and gave when it profited me and “self preserved” myself into a lonely walled- in space that nobody was willing to live in with me for long. It probably began with my Father. I won’t bore you with a cliché’ description of growing up in a “home” with a drunkard for a parent, but I will give him the credit of saying he at least had something he lived for and he loved it until it killed him when I was in my early twenties. Not me- I was OK without much, maybe afraid of wanting anything because I had to be in control.

I was in my early thirties when I learned what it was to be devoted. I was a casual church goer but, I could take it or leave it. It had some benefits for me that had nothing to do with God. Single and working I slipped in and out of unsatisfying relationships that I felt I didn’t need. That is when the bomb dropped, an exchange student from elsewhere starting coming to my church. She was pretty and for all selfish reasons I pursued her- you see my roommate was interested in her as well. We began spending a lot of time together and as lame as it sounds she was different than other girls. For one thing she had devotion spilling out of her like honey, to her art, her family, her health, and for God. You know she actually went to church to worship.

I may have pinpointed when I crossed over from liking her to feeling devoted to her. Our relationship hadn’t even blossomed into romance. We were out shopping in the city and she was buying all sorts of stuff for her family back home. A drunken bum on the corner asked her for money, I grabbed her arm to steer her out of his path and she stopped. She gave him the rest of her shopping money and it cut our outing short. She didn’t seem to care that he was disgusting and didn’t deserve it.

“You know he’ll only buy booze with that or blow it on a hooker” I snorted.

She smiled and looked at me for a minute.

“You know I’m sure the devil said that to Christ after he finished bailing us out, too” she said with her slight southern drawl.

I guess at that moment I knew two things: that she was devoted unconditionally to an ideal and that I wanted to see her everyday. Was it still selfish? Maybe it was- maybe I thought she would rub off on me and I would find a lot of purpose in my life but the lesson didn’t end there.

We continued to hang out as friends- maybe more didn’t happen because she wasn’t looking for a guy like me. But, I was feeling all the symptoms of devoted love. I wanted to be with her, do things for her, I was sad when she was and happy when she was. I even felt excited about church- to see her, but also at the inkling that there might be a higher purpose to it that involved giving instead of receiving.

One night I felt it was time to unburden my heart to her. My roommate said I was whipped and for the first time in my life it was true. I walked through the night air to her apartment bursting with love. When she opened the door I took her into my arms at last and kissed her. It was a moment of worship; a ray of light seemed to bathe us in a holy glow. When I stood back and gazed into her eyes and told her I loved her she smiled sweetly, like she had that day at the drunken bum. That’s when the holy ray of light turned back into her porch light. I stood there with my bowl of guts and she basically told me to give it to God and she meant it. I wish someone had mentioned to me before that she was planning to save souls, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked as a missionary.

A few weeks later I experienced the final step in my education on devotion. I heard through the grapevine that she was invited to Tanzania to aid the people of Didia. She was going to have to turn it down because she had run out of money. I am sure it was because she couldn’t keep from handing it out like pamphlets for Jesus. I wrote a check and had it anonymously deposited into her account. You see, I found out that devotion is unselfish. My self preservation gave way to my love for her. I knew my money would send her away from me forever- would make her untouchable my whole life. But, I knew it was what she wanted most and I’d sacrifice anything to do right by her. One definition for devotion in the dictionary says “the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal (as to an idea or person)” and I suppose it was the first time I ever knew what that meant.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lady Bug Hill

Lady Bug Hill

I was an elf in the field nearby,

I tunneled through grass and mustard

Flowers as tall as my dad.

My kingdom had hills and a pond

Full of tiny frogs

And the bigger kids were brave warriors,

Kings of Lady Bug Hill on quests.

Collecting flowers and bugs,

Sword fighting with sticks like curved bone,

Shouting with triumph.

Like Rome my happy place is gone now,

The field housed magical secrets,

Children’s summer adventures.

Housing like headstones mark where fun

And make believe lived.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Sometimes they are just good friends. Sometimes they are relatives. In this case here are two of my favorite girlfriends- my little sister and my little cousin. Talk about love!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Katie

Seventeen years ago my sister, Heidi, gave birth to the first grandchild on our side- my first niece, Katie. I was almost 17 at the time. I remember going out to visit shortly after her birth and taking her into my arms, hardly believeing my sister was a mom. It was love at first sight. Her snuggly, warm little body, fit in my arms as if she was made just for me. The soft, milky smell and her sweet newness triggered an immediate and powerful tenderness in me. Oh, no, she got me. Now what was I going to do? I never wanted to hand her back to her mommy who had also been caught under the Baby Katie spell.

As luck or maybe fate would have it, a year later I moved in with my sister to finish out high school in the state where she lived. Katie was my new roomie. As a toddler she amazed me. She could talk, sing, dance, tell jokes! I would tell her stories at night and she would listen with a grown up, knowing look on her little round face. Katie sparkled. I took her with me out with friends sometimes. We liked to buy her things and play with her. She never really seemed like a baby to me. Her soul being old and her mind so quick. She felt things deeply and her moods were like mountain weather- sudden and extreme. She was vibrant with life. She had no mercy whatsoever as she continued to be darling and delightful. And from that time she holds a special place in my heart.

It has been so wonderful for me to see her grow into a young woman; talented, passionate, brave and full of life and fun. As she struggles through life and all that comes with it, my heart aches for her but I feel so sure of her ability to overcome. Without much surprise I realize that she is not only my niece, but she is dear to me as a friend and sister as well. Sometimes souls just click and time, and space do not factor in. She is now the age I was when she was born and she is already more amazing than I was at that age. I am eager to see who she is when she gets to where I am now, as a mother and a wife. I know her journey will produce a wonderful and multifaceted woman in some ways more courageous than me, developing her talents and striving to overcome her trials ; but it wouldn't matter what she decides to do in her life, or how often she bites the dust- I will always love her and be so proud of her.
That tiny bundle is now taller than me but I still feel she was made for me and is still a perfect fit when I squeeze her. She came into my life and made it better. She is always my Katie.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Three Sons

Sons...more like the moons of a mother planet they orbit around me
I pull them toward me as they turn away
Which keeps them moving around and around
And I turn and turn to keep my eye upon them...
And to do my own dance

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Food, glorious food!

All joking and pretense aside now. I am not one of those women who picks, like an anemic bird, when it is time to eat. In fact, my hearty appetite could rival most men my size or maybe more. I know that is an unpopular thing to admit as a woman- but there you have it. My idea of a good time almost always involves food in some way...that being said- I won't eat just any slop. It has to be healthy and of relative quality. I do have favorite foods for different moods, too.
If its a night on the town, when feeling free and funky I zoom into the spicy arms of anything curried. Nothing like a fabulous blend of garlic, cardomom, cumin, ginger and chilli to get my olfactories to wake up my temporal lobe! Sometimes sultry,exotic Indian and other times the sweet, coconut possibilities of Thai- depending on my mood. Other times nothing beats the straight forward comfort of something really cheesy and Mexican- with guacamole and some serious kick. My sisters and I have been known to get lost in the unparalleled pleasure of a Nacho inferno. Oh, yeah. Then of course there are the soup days when its cold and salad days when its hot. There are the times when only something bloody and seasoned, scored by the grill will do.The parties with the proverbial finger foods, like old friends crowding the kitchen counter. Holidays, memories, vacations and events- the human story is written in menu form, and burned into our emotions, irrevokably connecting our feelings, and the rituals we live with the food we eat.
Luckily, I eat healthy, so I can indulge with out guilt. I am a social eater- cardinal rule for foodies: NEVER EAT ALONE! But eating in the morning is permissable. Okay, I am sort of joking now. Anyway, bon appetit!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Not to encourage a bunch of work and goals that keep us busy and give us a false sense of worth- but to focus on the ultimate and eternal goals- the important ones that sometimes take on the form of a quiet, well lived life of satisfaction and truth. Choose carefully.

I stole these from a friend's blog:

"Goals...There's no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There's no telling what you can do when you believe in them. There's no telling what will happen when you act upon them."-- Jim Rohn

"People who say life is not worthwhile are really saying that they themselves have no personal goals which are worthwhile... Get yourself a goal worth working for. Better still, get yourself a project... Always have something ahead of you to "look forward to"--to work for and to hope for."-- Maxwell Maltz

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."-- Les Brown

"A goal is created three times. First as a mental picture. Second, when written down to add clarity and dimension. And third, when you take action towards its achievement."-- Gary Ryan Blair

"It is not enough to take steps which may someday lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise."-- Goethe

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."-- Eleanor Roosevelt

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring."-- Dodie Smith

"This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force."-- Dorothy Parker "Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours."-- Dale Carnegie

"The roads we take are more important than the goals we announce. Decisions determine destiny."-- Frederick Speakman

"In life, as in football, you won't go far unless you know where the goalposts are."-- Arnold H. Glasgow

"If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else."-- Laurence J. Peter

"The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them."-- Jim Rohn

"A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. A goal is what specifically you intend to make happen. Dreams and goals should be just out of your present reach but not out of sight. Dreams and goals are coming attractions in your life."-- Joseph Campbell

"We can have more than we've got because we can become more than we are."-- Jim Rohn "No one rises to low expectations."--Jesse Jackson

"We tend to live up to our expectations."-- Earl Nightingale

"Setting goals provides man with an excuse to stop before he has exhausted all efforts to reach his maximum potential."-- David V. Ellison

"Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable."-- Lord Chesterfield

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."-- Antoine de Saint Exupery

"Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice. You can choose to be all or you can choose to be less. Why not stretch up to the full measure of the challenge and see what all you can do?"-- Jim Rohn

"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blue prints of your ultimate achievements."-- Napoleon Hill

"I learned that there were two ways I could live my life: following my dreams or doing something else. Dreams aren't a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. When I dream, I believe I am rehearsing my future."-- David Copperfield

"It may be that those who do most, dream most."-- Stephen Leacock

"Dreams do not vanish, so long as people do not abandon them."-- Phantom F. Harlock

"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens."-- Carl Gustav Jung

"The free man is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought."-- Leon Blum

"Great souls have wills; feeble ones only have wishes."-- Chinese Proverb

"Excellence can be attained if you Care more than others think is wise, Risk more than others think is safe, Dream more than others think is practical, and Expect more than others think is possible."-- Author Unknown

"To aim at excellence, our reputation, and friends, and all must be ventured; to aim at the average we run no risk and provide little service."-- Oliver Goldsmith

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit."-- Aristotle

"The passionate ones, the ones who go after what they want, may not get what they want, but they remain vital, in touch with themselves, and when they lie on their deathbeds, they have few regrets."-- Charlie Kaufman

"The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach."-- Benjamin Mays

"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents."-- Andrew Carnegie

"The real tragedy of life is not in being limited to one talent, but in the failure to use that one talent."-- Edgar W. Work

"What's more important-your goal, or others' opinions of your goal."-- unknown

"The richness of the human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome."-- Helen Keller

"The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit."-- Jim Rohn

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One thing gold can stay...

I was not yet three when I was hit by a car, crossing the street in front of my home on Pear Drive. Possibly my earliest memory- very vivid still, the fearful shouting of my parents, looking up to see the tire on my leg, covered with blood, my dad holding me in the hospital and singing to me... fragments, but clear ones.
Fortunately, I was spared skin grafts, although much of the skin on my left leg had been scraped off. The skin and my ankle healed. Somehow healing happens.
I was a very happy child, they tell me I scooted around like a crab and tolerated the bandage changing well, I recall it was painful, and I can still picture my mom and a friend popping open vitamin E capsules and squeezing them onto my leg, my mother's voice low and soothing.
In this picture I smile on my grandmother, Melba's lap, the mummified leg forgotten. I guess I didn't take the injury to my leg personally or as a sign that I deserve bad things. I hadn't learned yet the lie that tells us we are worthless if we are treated as if we are and that bad things only happen to bad people.
I marvel at how well children adapt to the bumps and bruises. We seem bound and determined to be happy when we are little. We come thinking we are pretty great and deserving of love- we were right. Little Jack has taught us that the most. The surgeries, the disadvantages, the pain...and he is so sunny and happy. He looks in the mirror and smiles with genuine delight- he hasn't learned to be ashamed of himself yet. He loves baby Jack. Sometimes self love becomes harder as we age- for various reasons we lose the belief that we are fabulous and loveable "as is"- thus losing our ability to be happy. We think love is to be earned or achieved like success...and like happiness. We try everything in the pursuit of happiness- we are so bent on having and holding happiness that we become unhappy in the very pursuit of its elusive and twinkling ray. Is it inevitable that happiness fades even in our reaching?This reminds me of a poem:

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-- Robert Frost

Most of us are convinced of this on some level. But, what if our perception of happiness isn't what the season or the weather says? Not the things that happen around or even to us? Could we hold it then? What if it lives in us, like an immortal firefly in a jar, indifferent to outside conditions.When we are happy in spite of pain and suffering is it always denial or some coping mechanism? Maybe too often it is.
I believe that true, steady happiness comes of trust and faith. Trust that good times can be reborn and that a bump in the road does not mar our life like an omen in a Greek tragedy- where the inevitable end is misery and doom. Perhaps it is more important to remember that nothing horrible can stay either- unless we invite it to. And faith, because we know there is a fire living in us, the love of God which knows no seasons, it is endless and timeless and we are pieces of him. God is the one gold that stays. If he is our defense and our protector we have no need for defense mechanisms of our own destructive making and if the truth is that He loves us unconditionally there is no reason for denial or masking the truth. And if happiness is His free gift we do not have to chase it- just accept it.
The hardest part of a trial is when we see no end in sight- looking down that dark tunnel for a light at the end- it isn't that we cannot endure it- it is the fear that it will endure us and we will collapse before it is all over and never come out the other side. We get overwhelmed and we lose heart waiting for an outside light source. The light is in us- dim or bright- it is there and will not be snuffed out entirely. A happy past can haunt us if our present is miserable- we mourn the loss. If we don't have a happy past to look back on it seems impossible the future could be any different- but the potential is there in us, if we could only see who we really are and not what we have been led to believe of ourselves.
Nothing gold can stay- but who is to say the silver and the copper cannot be endured for awhile like the seasons, things always come back around -sunset to sunrise. So childhood passes and so does midlife crises. We can't control what goes on around us or to us and the attempt to do so in order to feel happy is ironically what brings misery and makes us nuts. If we let go- we will feel the pain we fear and mask but as acute as the pain can be- the joy on the other end of the balance is just as great.(As Alma Jr. found out)
A lot of good things and a lot of bad things have happened in my life between the time a car hit me and now and I fully expect more of the same. As a child I trusted my parents when they told me I would be ok after every injury- and God has to replace our parents as we grow up.With faith and trust we can experience it all, the bad and the good,- fully, honestly, externally- so the light inside remains true and constant- like God's love for us which is unaffected by anything we do or anything that has been done to us. We are loved exactly as we are. A happy thought.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Self Esteem


"You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims."-- Harriet Woods

"Self-esteem must be earned! When you dare to dream, dare to follow that dream, dare to suffer through the pain, sacrifice, self-doubts, and friction from the world, you will genuinely impress yourself."-- Dr. Laura Schlessinger

"Whoever you are, there is some younger person who thinks you are perfect. There is some work that will never be done if you don't do it. There is someone who would miss you if you were gone. There is a place that you alone can fill."-- Jacob M. Braude

"It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself."-- Muhammad Ali

"The first great step is to like yourself enough to pick someone who likes you, too."- Jane O'Reilly

"The longest journey is the journey inwards of him who has chosen his destiny."-- Dag Hammarskjold

"There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness."-- Han Suyin

"Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?"-- Martin Luther King Jr.

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you."-- African proverb

"If you think you're too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito."-- Bette Reese

"Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be."-- Clementine Paddelford

"Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world."-- Helen Keller

"If a woman is sufficiently ambitious, determined and gifted -- there is practically nothing she can't do."-- Helen Lawrenso

"If you think you can do a thing or you think you can't do a thing, you're right."-- Henry Ford

"With confidence, you can reach truly amazing heights; without confidence, even the simplest accomplishments are beyond your grasp."-- Jim Loehr

"The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs."-- Joan Didion

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."-- Joseph Chilton Pearce

"Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind. You are as old as your doubt, your fear, your despair. The way to keep young is to keep your faith young. Keep your self-confidence young. Keep your hope young."-- Luella F. Phean

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Team: "T.E.A.M. (T)ogether, (E)veryone, (A)Achieves, (M)ore"

Team: "We become successful by helping others become successful."

Team: "None of us are as strong as all of us."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

As the world turns...

I had a random thought at the zoo yesterday. There is a fountain near the entrance, a large round stone, etched like the earth that rolls on a gusher of water. Children are mesmorized by it. They run their hands all over the smooth, wet sides and push with all their might to move it. If there are enough children they can get it rolling pretty well, causing the water to roll and run too; a pleasant and enjoyable activity on a hot day. Well, yesterday, a bearded, backpacked, college student with a black-leather-silver-studded belt began vigorously pushing it, hand over hand. His whole body into it, wet up to his elbows, to impress the girl, hiding behind bangs who stood coquettishly behind him. The earth spun faster than I had ever seen it do, sloshing the water more than usual all over the surrounding children who laughed but tried desperately to stop it, their little hands sliding over the the rounded shining surface with what seemed like an abortive effort. But, more children, attracted by the fuss came around, my boys included and being more determined, began by some unspoken accord, working together to slow the mad spinning. The college student snorted a smile and took it as a challenge, giving the world a whirl again, the children responded quicker than before and slowed it down to a saner pace, grinning in triumph.
A small, random occurence in passing with no importance. But it seemed significant to me. I am reading a book (as those near and dear to me know) called Bradshaw: On the Family. This little episode tied in with what I am gleening from this book. The generations before us, bigger, older can sometimes send our world, as children, out of control. Who knows why- fun, anger, hurt, power...and the new generation is made to scramble and grapple with a slippery, insane world, putting all their efforts into survival, ending up wet and exhausted. But, in this there is hope, too. Our kids, some of the new generation, will be a part of the solution.
It brings to mind the song by Billy Joel "We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world was turning...". true- we didn't but, we will continue the bad traditions if we don't question and oppose them. I hope I do and can at least help my children desire to, and as long as some of us are not the cause of the problem, our effors can attempt some balance.We have one shot at this life and one world- how do we want to spend it and what do we want our children to inherit? I want to end up soaked, arms sore and smiling in triumph, making it all better for the people to come.

"And I think to myself...what a wonderful world..."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

grin and bear it

I am still adjusting to my new braces- ow. The best diet plan ever- it hurts to eat and cleaning them is such a bother- eating seems like more trouble than it is worth.

Lately there has been so much going on. Rushing around, appointments, church obligations, scouts, Jack's various classes and sessions, school stuff, out of town guests...
and somehow the Holidays were just yesterday, but March is half done. Zooooom!
I have not had a chance to work on my novel in way too long. There are things in the family to worry over- health, finances,harmony etc. It snowed again today. Time for a big sigh and a regrouping.
My kids are really individualizing lately. I enjoy seeing them use their time to find themselves. Kids use time much better than we do as adults. They really live in the moment and seem satisfied with things as they are. They experience more joy. I gotta remember to do that more. I will squeeze that into my schedule.

Friday, March 7, 2008

What we think we know...

I watched out my window.
The brown hills rose up like the backs of basking cows, the patches of white snow in bovine pattern , liked spilled milk, shone in the afternoon sun. These sleeping, heaped cows lay penned in by the gothic, ragged cathedral of stone cliffs, layered and scored by years of sediment and the elements carving their designs. As I drove past them, winding along, my toes still numb from a day recreating in the snow, I suddenly thought of how small I was and how fleeting- like the melting drifts of snow, surrounded by ancient giants of landscape. Just a flea lost in cow fur who thinks he is central to the universe, but who would not live to see even a few inches of erosion or change in the setting. Pull out further and the hills are mere pimples on the backside of an old earth groaning slowly through space, rotating to keep time with infinity and taking us to our inevitable future from season to season. What do we even know, as small as we are- can we even comprehend what we claim to know about our place in the galaxy? Anymore than a dust mite living in our eyelashes knows about us, as a whole bodied human with all the complex workings of organs and systems and seasons of our own? Sure, he can see the hair, may know how to gather sustainance there and thinks he has it all worked out in his life span of a day...but how can he know what he doesn't realize he doesn't know?
I am rambling. But, I had a conversation with my children once about this very thing. Can we be living in the eyebrow of God, so to speak, and claim he isn't there because all we see is the eyebrow and we think we have that all figured out? Do our dust mites believe in us? Or do they merely exist, survive, thinking that what they see and experience is the extent of reality? I suppose I could never presume to say that something or some "One" out there couldn't exist. The hubris we humans have...the specks who know a few things and jump to all sweeping we proudly decipher part of the code in our rudimentary labs, with our plastic toy instruments, we ignore that that code was written and programmed by something bigger and smarter than we are. Why? Has anyone ever sat and listened to the intricate flowing sounds of a symphony coordinating harmonies and imagined it "just happened"?
Anyway, it is funny what can set my mind off on random tangents. The world is a beautiful and thought provoking place- and as one flea to another- don't be afraid to explore the possibilitites and keep an open mind. There is more to all of this than meets the eye.
Maybe all we know is not what we think we know.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ring, Ring! For whom the BELL tolls...

Today is March 3rd. On this very day in 1847 Alexander Graham Bell was born. He was an innovative genius of a man. His most notable accomplishment was his invention called the telephone. Just think how that has changed the world! Look at what he started for long distance communication. What would he think if he could see cellphones and the internet and satellite...? Amazing. So honor him today by reaching out and touching someone. Call a loved one and think of old Alex G. Bell.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Still Shoveling

Today it snowed again. This has been the heaviest winter since moving here 5 years ago. The endless shoveling of the snow in the driveway that the wind blows back over in the night has long since ceased to be novel or charming. I have gotten stuck in the driveway numerous times on my way to appointments when I didn't have the time or inclination to redo the digging- my wheels spinning and squealing in the ice and going nowhere.

So, still I shovel. In fact, my life has always been endless redoing of things. That is the nature of living and of being a mother. Life keeps sending us work to do and even as we do it more is coming down. But, we don't put down the shovel and give up because if we do- we get stuck in the driveway. So we keep digging and try to have good attitude about it because we can't change it.

Ten Reasons Why I Love The Snow

1. it is beautiful

2. it is a great backdrop for the Holidays

3. it brings water to this desert

4. it makes me appreciate the Spring

5. it can be fun to play in

6. it forces me to indoor play with my children

7. soups and hot cocoa

8. it covers my dead lawn and my ugly yard that needs landscaping

9. shoveling it is a great workout

10. the profound silence of things when it falls like goose feathers

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A shout out

...This woman, very often, makes my day! Not many things better than a good girlfriend/sister.

Guiltless Pleasure

This recipe is a huge hit- even with my sugarholic friends. For Valentine's day I made these as cupcakes and injected the filling. I also made several candies and truffles- of course the healthy way- but deliciously! All these recipes were developed by my sister Ali and me- over years of healthy eating and experimenting. The best way to get rid of a bad habit is to find a substitute to replace it...this will do- I promise.

NO WAAAY! Chocolate Cake
(no gluten or refined sugars or flours)
1 C brown rice flour (heaping)
1 C tapioca flour
¼ tsp salt
1 C cocoa powder
½ tsp xanthan gum (a natural replacement for gluten)
1 ½ tsp baking soda

½ C butter
¼ C canola oil
1 C agave nectar (or use xylotol or crystalline fructose)
¾ C water
1 C buttermilk (can subs 1/4 C sour crm and 3/4 C milk)
3 eggs
1 or 2 tsp vanilla

Prepare 2 round pans with parchment on the bottom and grease with veg. oil.
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Blend all the dry ingredients in large bowl. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl beat butter, canola oil, and agave until light and fluffy and creamy.
Add vanilla and eggs one at a time- whipping on high.
Add buttermilk and water and blend.
Add dry mix a bit at a time while mixing.
Pour into 2 round pans and bake for 25-30 mins- don't overbake- it is best moist. Cool- run knife around edge, turn out on racks
Chocolate Mousse Filling
1 ½ C whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tblsp cocoa or more to taste
2 Tblsp agave or more to taste
Whip cream, vanilla and agave until a soft cream- add cocoa and whip stiffer. Use as filling between your two cake rounds.
Buttery Frosting
6 egg yolks
½ C agave
¼ C water
1 ½ cubes soft butter
Boil water and agave until soft ball stage-(not too long or you’ll make taffy).
Whip yolks on high and slowly add hot syrup mix- beat until outside of bowl is cool.
Add butter a little at a time. Flavor with any extract and color. IF you want a chocolate frosting add 1 Cup melted and cooled grain sweetened chocolate chips and or cocoa powder. Experiment with what you like and according to dietary needs. Cool frosting before spreading. (Refrigerating the whole cake before serving at this point is nice.)
Decorate top of cake with extra mousse, fruit, nuts, healthy candies or shaved, sugar free chocolate bar etc.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Melvil Poupaud

There is something about this French the movie Broken English, with Parker Posy that took me by surprise. As much as I wanted to dislike him at first ,for being French and of questionable intentions, by the end of the film he was irresistable. Hmmm. He masters the art of puppy eyes and direct, frank attraction to the leading lady in a way that every woman wants- grab her and kiss her with no bravado- only slight warnings "I want to kiss you...", or, "Come over here." A gentle John Wayne approach, with a continental twist and more affection and concern emoting from his boyish face. Looking forward to seeing this guy play protagonists more often- many of his roles are conceited cads, as in Le Divorce, with Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson, one of the worst films I have ever wasted a fraction of my life on.
Anyway, Broken English is a slow, somehow classic feeling, dramatic, romantic comedy-ish movie without big laughs... and more indy style, not polished and formulaic. Parker Posy is a pathetic, lonely girl in Manhattan who drinks too much to keep her loneliness at bay, disappointed in love time and again. There is something reminiscent of Katherine Hepburn in her somehow...the acting is realistic and the story is not exciting, but interesting. I think what it illustrates well is that when someone is unhappy with themselves, they are driven to desperation and make bad realtionship decisions and consequently become jaded, having a hard time trusting and knowing how to find real love. Enter unlikely French love interest- could be just another player only around for the action...then again maybe not. The thing I always find strange in modern movies is the lack of moral compass- it is no wonder people are confused- when is it real? When does the sex mean something? To orient myself in this way of thinking is to suspend all I believe about the subject. This is how people are shopping for relationships...and miraculously, some can still find them in this precarious manner. Sometimes, somehow, genuine caring can evolve out of such uncertain and irresponsible behavior. The question at the end of the film remains, to me anyway, can love last when the participants follow the philosophy that one should go with the flow- if it feels good, do it- contracts be damned? When love and commitment are confused with sex and fleeting desire? Chances are slim, but one can always hope, for their sakes, the lonely, searching ones.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The light that was, still is

Why is a clear perspective of ourselves and of life such a slippery thing? Sometimes we grasp it in sweaty hands- momentarily- and see life illuminated in bare truth in relation to our deepest sense of self- our desires, our paradigms- but, just before the epiphany can do any lasting good- it slips away from us; it cannot be held as a photograph, it is moving fast- at the speed of light, and all we see is the blur of the light- and all the blur of light does is reflect off the things around us- so we think they are the light- we believe this is the truth and the mystery again. My opened mind closes once more on creaking hinges and all my "ah- has!" seem to fade into "huhs?". Sometimes I think that mortality is the repression of reality, knowledge and truth suppressed...And still I know that good and truth exist because what else can be missing that we all so keenly feel in the vacant corners of our lives.Black holes mark where stars once shown.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Every dog has its day...

I don't do pets. If it were not for the insistence of my son we would not even have the low maintenance tortoise, Crawler that we have. House pets gross me out- the smell, the fur...etc. But there was a time I was recently reminded of when I did love a dog. It seems almost inconceivable now. Ginger was our family mutt during my whole childhood. She was a small reddish dog, intelligent, loyal and loving. She stayed out back. Over the years she was , eventually a bit neglected, but when she was suddenly gone it was surprising how keenly I felt the loss. She just wasn't there anymore. I took for granted how she tailed us to the bus in the morning. Or how she would happily bound around us as we played in the backyard. You could talk to her and she acted like she knew exactly what you were saying.She was that constant source of love that everyone forgot about because it was there all the time, in the yard, big brown eyes, patient and wise with age. Ginger watched all of us grow up and forget about her. Then, one time when we had all left on a family trip, and we had left her in the care of a neighbor, she left and never returned. I wonder if she knew she was dying, or got hit by a car, or thought we had finally abandoned her...I don't know. Years have gone by and I rarely think of her. Then this summer, on the beach there was this sweet, friendly, "undisgusting" dog. I was amazed at how satisfying it felt to cuddle and stroke this dog...I thought of Ginger fondly. I wondered why we take unconditional love for granted. Why do we forget to give it back? I don't know. Now, to this day I can't abide the thought of ever owning a it partly because I know, deep down I can't give it what it wants from me? Maybe. I wonder, because, I didn't always detest I ponder what made the change.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Lemon Fresh

I don't write enough on this blog. I have so many little thoughts and vignettes that I should put on here but - don't seem to get around to it as often as I would like. My boys are in the other room playing with their new Christmas toys. Holiday decorations are put away, the house guests have gone.I have a crazy burst of energy right now. I found myself scrubbing the tile floor with a big brush, on hands and knees with a bucket of water. The kind of old school cleaning that actually gets the job done. Speaking of cleaning- I have been on a cleanse since January first. Day four of not eating, only drinking glass after glass of that lemony concoction...I feel amazing. I bought a juicer yesterday- I intent to go onto a juice binge after my cleanse. I wanted to start the New Year right. Clean out the body, the closets, the mind and start fresh. It is an invigorating and spiritual endeavor. It is funny how many benefits can come from one principle. Fasting is so empowering...and it isn't just a practice for the religious- It is a necessary practice for your body (which is probably why God has told us to do it- like so many other things there are dual purposes to his will that we don't always see until Science catches up. Kind of like how negative thoughts actually alter our brains- he knew that before we did- "watch your thoughts..."that's why we obey just because he said so- he knows.. )
If you have ever done a cleanse- you know what I mean. My last cleanse was in the spring...I did it for ten days and I felt incredible. My mind and body was alert and quickened. The juice fast that comes after the cleanse is recommended to be forty days. I may do the whole thing. SO much of it is mind set, too- for health and for enlightenment...I have had such a positive experience with it in the past I am actually excited to do this twice a year as recommended. Anyhow, that is what is new here, 2008 is here and I am ready for it, lemon fresh.