Thursday, April 30, 2009
Adios to April! As I sit here watching my backyard become a swamp from all the rain, I am grateful with all my little heart that my basement is dry. I flipped the calendar to May and lo and behold, fasten your seat belts, Mother's Day is coming.
Why mention this now? Well, you need time. Time to construct that throne that Mom needs to sit on for "her day". Time to shop for the perfect sappy card (note to my kids who don't read my blog but in case you do - don't forget the sappy card!). Time to plan this day of honor and celebration (note to kids - please don't make me cook!). Time to buy the flowers, lavender scented anything, or jasmine candles, or funky earrings (note to kids - here's the damn list!)
But wait. Let's rename this day to include ALL women. Many are not mothers. Many do not have kids rushing to the mall (don't hold yourself back now, kids) or constructing the throne. And to be perfectly fair and equal, Father's Day should be Man's Day (no throne, sorry guys, the construction is beyond us, just food, lots of food and a promise of no honey-do list for the day). Now there. Isn't that better? Everyone is included!
My mom has been gone for over 20 years. I think of her, not just as Mother's Day is approaching, but very often. When I wrote the last blog about Chinese Medicine and the whole emotions/health connection she was really with me, but in a weird way. Mom didn't get it. She had a PhD in worrying. And she was really, really good at it. So good in fact, it literally made her sick 9 days out of 10 with some ailment or another. There were permanent scowl marks on her lovely face.
I remember being silly, telling jokes, doing anything I could to make her smile and laugh. I developed a great sense of humor (altho yes, it can be sarcastic at times) not FROM her but because of her. I can actually remember thinking hard, actually planning, on what to say or what to do next that could light up her face. It was exhausting at times, but always worth seeing and hearing have a good laugh. On many Mother's Days I wrote, directed and starred in many plays and performances. I gave her the gift of laughter because I had no money to buy her anything. I would scour the fields near our farm to find spring wildflowers, pussy willows, wild forsythia to make a special "bouquet". The sappy card was home made and from the heart, not Hallmark.
In my pre-throne days, I'm looking back on lessons I received from my mother, or because of her. I learned that worrying not only causes deeper wrinkles, it destroys your health. (See the last blog if you missed it.) I learned the more you dwell negatively on circumstances the more joy you miss, and that "gifts" don't have to cost money. And I learned making anyone smile or laugh could really make their day!
With two weeks notice, and of course the blessed media will help you out with endless commercials and reminders, you need to get that throne going for the woman in your life. (Note to kids - don't build it too high, you know I'm scared of heights!)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Since spring has arrived and we are all at least thinking about spring cleaning, if not actually doing it, maybe an article I read recently about emotional health should be thrown in for good measure. Scientists have been making some connections between our emotions and our health. The "new" connection is anything but new, with origins in Chinese medicine that go back a long time. Our culture in the West has a history of considering anything from the East somewhat philosophical rather than actually useful. Yoga and meditation have fortunately crossed vast oceans to bring millions of people a sense of balance in their lives. What else are we learning?
When there is balance among the mind, body and spirit, everything that happens, good and bad, is processed naturally, in a fluid way. It’s all experienced as normal, without great intensity. Getting "stuck" in emotions is what blocks energy, inviting or creating an opportunity for illness and unrest.
Chinese medicine asserts that each organ has an emotional spectrum. A Chinese medicine practitioner asks a patient about his/her state of mind and identifies relationships between the responses and the internal organs. The concept is that when one emotional state dominates, smooth flow of energy (known as qi) to specific organs is impeded, so the emotion and the organ must be treated concurrently.Here is a brief list of emotions and their effect on the body:
- FEAR: The kidneys and the work they do, including elimination of waste, are associated with strength and willpower -- and on the negative end of the spectrum, with fear.
- GRIEF: The lungs and respiratory system are connected to our sense of order and can move along to perfectionism and, at the opposite end, grief.
- ANGER: The liver, which filters toxins, supports planning and decision-making -- the skills needed to manage life well. At the far end of the spectrum, the liver is connected to anger.
- SADNESS/JOY: The heart is the center of the body and soul and not surprisingly, is connected to sadness as well as to joy.
- WORRY: The stomach/spleen, responsible for digestion, can be the source of sympathy on one end, worry on the other.
At the heart of Chinese medicine is the concept that all disease has roots in a need to change in one of three basic aspects of life -- physical, emotional or lifestyle -- that comes up against an inability or unwillingness to do so. Sickness can be an expression of these conflicts.
One simple illustration: Chinese medicine respects the body’s natural ability to expel toxins by vomiting them up, sneezing them out or through urination or defecation. Medicine that treats the symptoms gets in the way of this natural process, sending the toxins from the now-suppressed symptoms into the body’s energy channels where ultimately they can get stuck and cause serious disease. Treatment must address the entire person, not just the symptoms.
- Live in harmony with the seasons. The winter months can be valuable for rest and rejuvenation... in the spring, you can ramp up activity. Summer is the time to expand and expend the most energy in many activities, while in autumn we can benefit by slowing down and retreating from all that busyness.
- Follow the light. In the old days people got up with the sun and went to bed soon after it set.The instinct to follow light is a good one -- it both increases longevity and protects health. One idea is to become aware of your mental and physical posture throughout the day and learn to use it consciously. To gear up for productivity at work in the morning, for example, many people strike the type-A jutting-chin, fast-talking, vigorous-thinker posture... which can be physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting if maintained all day. Make an effort to ease into a more relaxed posture, slowing down your speech, thoughts and pace when you go home at night. By the time you are ready for bed, you should have relaxed and slowed to the point that you are truly ready for sleep... if so, it will come easily to you.
- When illness sets in, respect your body and mind -- take time off to heal. Within reason, it’s a good idea to "tough it out" if you have a cold, for instance -- let the cough and congestion run their course untreated by drugs, so your body can rid itself of the pathogen. Use natural substances such as spring water, whole fresh foods and spices to strengthen your body and provide the resources required for recovery.
- Recognize that your disease may be happening for a reason. Perhaps you are working or playing too hard (or both) which is putting your body out of balance or maybe you are not taking proper care of yourself. Review and readjust for a better balance.
- Remember, true healing always involves increasing your awareness. Any illness is a call and an opportunity to evaluate your internal state. Are you heartsick about something... suffering from anxiety... in a troubled relationship? This is your chance to sort through the problems that are creating toxicity for you and figure out what might help you heal, in every way.
- Use daily reflection as a conscious tool for balancing your energy. Think about what things are truly important to you and how you are using your chi (spiritual and physical energy) to work toward those goals. Ask yourself if you are getting caught up in a spiral of need for things that don’t really matter.
Spring cleaning? Open the windows of the mind. Shake out the old rugs of habits. Preventive medicine has roots in our mind and emotions. Fertilizing those roots, as we do in our gardens in spring, could mean we have a harvest of balance and good health. Sounds good to me!
Some of the material in this blog was from The Daily Health Newsletter I receive. I hope you found this interesting and informative. Now get back to your spring cleaning!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Hope you'll enjoy this video and music today. There are flashes of inspirational/motivational words throughout, as well as a nice variety of scenes - not to mention I love the song, Cool Change. Also wanted to let you know, if you scroll down, there is now "the box" to sign up for getting my blog in your emails - Have a lovely day!
Friday, April 24, 2009
I ran across this quote in an artist's newsletter I subscribe to:
"If you can give your child only one gift, let it be enthusiasm." ---- Bruce Barton
Now I don't know one piece of diddly about Bruce Barton but I'm seriously wondering if Mr. Barton had kids. When my kids were little they were enthusiastic about everything! It seemed they were born with it - oh look, puddles, let's jump and splash in them - let's sled in the backyard yard (it was 20 below zero) - that kind of enthusiasm. While it was fun and refreshing, it was also exhausting. I looked for that enthusiasm button on several occasions wishing to turn it down a notch.
Fast forward to teen years and once again I look for that enthusiasm button - only this time to turn it ON!
"Come on, we're on vacation in Acapulco, turn off the tv and come down to the pool!"
Or sometimes to monitor it - "Following that rock band on tour is NOT going to happen on my watch, what about school?"
So theoretically, if parents give this "gift" of enthusiasm to children , Mr. Barton, what happened to it?
In the adult world we are struggling to get in touch with our inner child so we can remember to have fun, to play, to enjoy everything, you know, be enthusiastic about stuff. Some days I have to talk myself into being enthusiastic about doing something - like cleaning the house - by telling myself it will be so wonderful to be dust free, gunk free, clutter free when I'm done.
I feel there is a strong connection between motivation and enthusiasm. Is enthusiasm just being happy that you are motivated? Enthusiasm sounds like a play word to me, whereas motivation has the smack of "work" to it. I think it is possible to help motivate people, but I don't know that you can GIVE anyone enthusiasm - that seems to be something every individual has to tap into, maybe from the childhood days? Isn't enthusiasm just a word for having a good attitude/energy about something?
Mr. Barton, in my personal opinion, has it wrong. One gift? I can think of several that are key building blocks to give your kids for a good life that I feel trump enthusiasm (which they seem to have anyway!) How about honesty, respect, good attitude, courage, patience, compassion?
It's Friday - are you enthusiastic about the weekend? So where did THAT come from?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I can remember the first Earth Day in 1970 because we all thought it would change the world. The "we" was the tree-hugging hippie group I called my family back then. It was exciting to think with recycling and environmental awareness getting so much attention --- at last! --- a major global environmental disaster could be averted. Each year since, the news of species disappearing or becoming endangered increases, the ice cap melt increases, the resources taken for granted are drying up and on and on. I bum myself out just writing this - so lets see what we can do to help.
I wrote a blog "Gettin' the Finger from Grandma" a few weeks ago (it's in the archives if you missed that one) where I remembered the spartan life my grandma had. She had a "make do or do without" attitude I definitely subscribe to, and I spent decades re-using, re-inventing, re-making things. It was fun, a challenge, and saved me a lot of money over the years. When, or if, I threw something out, it was dead beyond any miraculous resurrection.
Here are few tips I'll throw out for Earth Day and if you have some too, share in comments.
Napkins - You'll never find a paper one here in this house. I have cloth napkins and its not a chore to add them to the laundry with the kitchen towels, they are folded, not ironed. I bought so many over the years, always on close out or mark down, and sewed some myself from left over fabrics, and there is no matchy-matchy thing for the every day napkins - anything works.
Tote bags for groceries - I had enough of the plastic bags in the garage to stuff a mattress years ago and decided never again! The totes are kept in my car at all times.
Paper Towels - RARELY used here (except for the puppy days) instead I use old towels, or cut up t-shirts for cleaning. In fact I cut some to fit the little Swifter mop so I don't have to buy their refills so I save money and don't buy another plastic box!
We have bricks in toilet tanks, don't run the water all during teeth brushing time, conserve energy by always watching water, and electric light use, and keep the thermostat low, really low, so low you wear sweaters, socks, slippers and drink hot tea til about May 15th or whenever it warms up outside.
Don't want to bore you with more - but here's a tip - go to dailyecotips.com and sign up for this guys blog - he has an eco tip a day - some you may know about and I'm sure some that you will find helpful. I've been following him for a few weeks now. I give him my thanks and appreciation on this Earth Day for getting the word out there! Everyone needs to pay attention and contribute to the re-greening of the Earth - it's the only one we have. The typical American family is so unbelievably wasteful I need to sic grandma on them to shape them up.
I've also been reading Jeff Jarvis's blog Buzzmachine - he wrote the book "What Would Google Do?" He has apparently been getting some criticism from the print media saying he is anti-journalists and newspapers. If, indeed, it is a fact that newspapers eat up 450 million trees a year, and de-forestation is causing environmental distress and destruction, would YOU be willing to pull the plug on newspapers?????? Where do you get your news from? Would you miss papers?
HAPPY EARTH DAY TODAY
how about we do this every day? Recycle, make do, or do without - make grandma proud!
Busy hugging trees today,
Monday, April 20, 2009
Time for a bit of spring cleaning and re-organizing and I am bound and determined to keep Living the Simple Life my mantra. While I'm going about this (with no system, mind you, just randomly and when I have an hour here and there) I'm finding things. Little surprises - some delight me, some confound me.
Like what in the hell is the big package tape dispenser for sealing boxes doing in the upstairs linen closet - empty??? It "belongs" in the basement in the area I'd designated long ago as the Ebay shipping center. It's been there for years. I always know right where it is and I really LIKE that. My mama said "There is a place for everything and everything should be in it's place." Since I'm aware that senility is creeping up on me, this is critical. (I forget where my coffee cup is continually as I wander thru the house tidying up, getting dressed, etc. That is quite enough to deal with, thank you.)
Then it occured to me. My daughter just moved out a week ago. She must have used it to seal boxes and the new roll of tape I put on it just a few weeks ago was gone, just the empty dispenser sitting by the towels in the linen closet. I smiled. It was an ending. It was a new beginning.
Memories of yesteryear.............
The computer is used by everyone in the house. My desk chair is always adjusted to someone else's height and the organized chaos on my desk gets shoved, crumpled and food-stained by "them". Reference books travel by themselves and my stapler is either missing or empty. I find my prized letter opener in the garage. It now looks as though its been chewed up by an electric fan it has a funny smell to it. Nobody will confess and I probably don't really want to know!
My headphones are there but the walkman is missing. The glass jars I saved for watercolor painting are filled with guppies. There is a major blob of dried-on crazy glue stuck to my desktop that will require sanding off. No one is guilty of course.
As for other rooms just brimming with "my" possessions? The mileage on my nail clippers alone would qualify for frequent flyer passes on United Airlines. I bought everyone in this house their OWN personal clippers as stocking stuffers for Xmas and thought I was creative and clever.
It seems in less than a month they mysteriously "lost" theirs. The only reason I have not lost mine is that I go on safari's looking for them. I'm thinking of installing a beeper on them. Maybe beepers are the answer to everything here. I know the only way I can ever locate the cordless phone is to use the intercom beeper on it.
One day I was employing this beeper trick to find the phone and I heard the beep coming from my daughters room. Ignoring the "Keep Out!" sign on the door, I steeled myself to enter this forbidden territory, quite innocently just to retrieve the phone. The phone was on the floor, half exposed under the bedskirt of her bed. When I lifted the bedskirt to get it, I spied the handle of the long lost hammer from my kitchen drawer. I went deeper under the bed and found several pieces of silverware, my Thesaurus, my precious German scissors and my tweezers. I needed a laundry basket --- this haul was going to be a good one! The missing duct tape, my magnifying glass, my favorite coffee mug and a huge shirt I wore to paint in all went into the basket. My nail polish remover, my walkman, several CD's and my old curling iron that had been replaced by my new curling iron which was now MIA as well, completed the days haul.
Something told me I should not discriminate. One person could not, alone, be responsible for all the mysterious disappearances in this house, while the other teen totally innocent. I took a deep breath and entered my sons room. It did not disappoint. I found long lost treasures in his possession as well, more tools, dishes, kitchen stuff. Nearly every discovery had me wondering what they needed it for: like what did you duct tape for heaven's sake? Did I even want to know? Was it something of MINE?
We had a family discussion that evening when I revealed two laundry baskets filled with things I found in their rooms. Of course the kids were appalled I ventured into their rooms and looked thru "their" things. I told them they made that necessary by their failure to return things to their proper places and if they wanted me to respect their privacy then they had better get this rule down about returning things you borrow.
It wasn't long after this, things began to go missing again. I decided to fight fire with fire and take their things. I took a CD from my sons room. I took my daughters curling iron. I waited. I waited a whole day day. Then she took my curling iron. Not a word from her. Then she misplaced mine, which she thought was hers, and takes mine again, which is really hers but substituting for mine and its daughter 2, mom 0.
I have nothing that is not considered community property. It seems the only two things that remained untouched are my toothbrush and the laundry hamper.
"I am living with THIEVES!" I screamed at my husband.
"I didn't take anything!" he snaps in defense.
"I don't mean you - its the kids! I was in the shower ready to shave my legs and my razor was gone. GONE! MY razor! Do you have ANY IDEA how maddening this is?"
He said he could only try to imagine the torture I was going through. I know he tries to imagine what it is like to live in a home that is your own home with stuff that supposedly belongs to you but it doesn't because you have thieves in the house.
A few days later my daughter's friend dropped off a curling iron that was left at her house after a sleepover. Wow, I had one now, even though I think this was actually hers, not mine, I was determined not to care but considered labeling things with names. It worked when they went to camp. They only brought back their own dirty laundry, nobody else's.
We had another family meeting. I said I was going to institute fines, like the library, for anything not returned in the future. If my future safari's produced as much loot as the last one, I'd be at the day spa in no time with the fees collected. They assured me my point was made and I would be staying home.
I returned the CD I took from my sons room to him. He was so delighted - and also relieved! He was relieved because he thought he lost it. It wasn't his. He borrowed it from a friend. He really wanted to return it to him immediately, his new-found conscience ablaze.
I gave my daughter her curling iron back and took possession of my own in exchange. She was also very happy about this - too happy. I had to ask why. She informed me that my curling iron doesn't work any more, so yippee, she has one now that actually does work!
I bought a new curling iron and put my name on it.
Ahhhh, memories. In this house, at this present time, stuff is all mine because the thieves grew up and moved out. It's up to me and me alone to keep track of where it all is. It is coming as a shock to me that when something is "gone" from its place, I have nobody to blame but myself - although my husband is handy, he doesn't take razors and curling irons.
So after the spring cleaning and a few random discoveries, like the tape dispenser with no tape, I guess I'll have to come to terms with the lump in my throat. Clearly an ending, clearly a beginning.
Friday, April 17, 2009
From time to time, the challenge of making a choice (or choices) with what is going on in our lives pops up. My rhythm in writing has suffered a month long distraction and I've felt my life in pieces rather than in peace, progress in the sink rather than sync with just about everything that matters to me. I even hesitated writing about it, but you know what? It's a slice a life. It's not always packaged in a box with a pretty bow. Sometimes it's the poop in the yard that needs a pick up.
In two words I can describe the past month --- Dog Drama.
Exactly a month ago, I buckled under pressure from Main Man to get another dog. (Now I HAVE a dog, my yorkie-poo Mondo, who admittedly has a few social issues but he is totally house-trained, never destroys anything, lets me know when he needs something, and can be left alone all day with no worries. ) So here comes this adorable puppy, Main Man's dream dog, a black lab to replace the one who died two years ago. This will be "his" dog.
After a week, I went thru a half dozen rolls of paper towels, saw my brand new carpeting spotted up, rescued her countless times from chewing electrical cords by the computer, took her out hourly, and gave up on the crate since the decibel level of her screaming in it was unbearable. (I talked to two trainers and our vet - this dog would by-pass FOOD to scream. She had severe separation anxiety and had all the signs of being Marley.) The "breeder" (I use the term lightly) was a farm in the countryside - the puppy was 13 wks. had not received shots yet and had worms. My daily peace was clearly pieces, routines in the sink, not in sync.
Despite the illusion of this being HIS dog, the pieces in the sink were all mine. I asked myself a bazillion times why I was doing this. The needle on the bitch-o-meter was was rising and I felt one more day of this chaos and I would loose my mind. Melt-down was approaching fast. He was leaving on a golf trip with our son, and I would be baby-sitting my son's dog to boot. I had a choice of sending the puppy (who I swear was ill as well as deranged!) back to the breeder, risking some marital disharmony, or going insane (not quietly either).
The puppy went back. I had a week of quietude to turn the pieces into peace again and crawl out of the sink.
Two days after Main Man came home, he was hell bent on trying an older, crate-trained, housebroken dog from a shelter. The crate I took down and put in the basement was resurrected and in came a year old "lab mix" that was 99% pitt bull.
Now I'm all for giving good dogs a home, I love dogs. I also love my life just the way it is. It's the empty nest - kids gone. (Would I want another child??? - oh paleese!) It's the perfect time for me to do my thing and not be a caretaker. It's my reward for past service, surviving teens, re-inventing myself. Yeah, it IS all about me!
The irony of Dog #2 is that she was terrified of MEN. Main Man had his work cut out for him. He couldn't get her to take a cookie, couldn't get her back inside the house, couldn't get her in her crate. He didn't have a clue how to work with her and since everything was landing on me, the bitch-o-meter was going off of the chart. Clearly a dream dog. Clearly a major project for little ole me. Clearly an adios!
The crate is in the basement. All dog toys have been either sterilized or thrown out. Dog #2 brought with her the dreaded dog flu and infected my Mondo - we are waiting the 2 week incubation period to get him treated once the symptoms show up.
Main Man has been at home before starting his new job on Monday, giving me a taste of future retirement. (Gulp!) That will certainly be enough adjustment to the daily routine without dog drama thrown in. The bitch-o-meter was taken down off the wall since peace reigns once more. The dialogue was a good thing too to get the sync back in place.
Is there a moral to the story?
Maybe it is a message in knowing what your limitations are.
Maybe its another stupid test to see just how firm you can be in sticking with your goals.
Maybe its the realization that we all have joy-monger tendencies (wanting to give others whatever it is that they want) that need to be seriously questioned if it means making sacrifices you aren't going to make without that bitch-o-meter going wild.
Maybe when the ship is sailing smoothly, you just don't purposely turn it into an oncoming hurricane?
May you all have peace - may you all be in sync!
Monday, April 13, 2009
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Mahatma Gandhi
"Forgiveness is a basic, daily challenge. It comes in big sizes and small. The challenge of forgiveness has been with us from the beginning of human consciousness." Roger Bertschausen
Everyone struggles with forgiveness. I suppose there is some comfort in knowing this is not some Suzen Struggle, that it is part of the human experience and we are all facing challenges of learning to forgive repeatedly throughout our lives. I've been reading Hal Urban's book and his chapter on this topic is worth writing about. He has five simple questions, no brainers really, but they will pack a punch if you don't know how to forgive or refuse to forgive.
1. Would you deliberately poison yourself?
2. Would you voluntarily check yourself into prison even though you had done nothing wrong?
3. Would you load up two suitcases full of bricks and carry them around all day, even though they weight you down, yet serve no useful purpose?
4. Would you tie yourself to a torture rack and ask someone to inflict pain upon you?
5. Would you ask someone who's hurt you to hurt you some more, and to continue hurting you over and over?
Interesting questions aren't they? Urban says we would be illogical, masochistic, and stupid to do any of the above, yet that's what we are doing when we refuse to forgive - we bring more hurt upon ourselves. Resentment really does poison the mind and we can be held back from living our lives to the fullest when we are weighted down with a suffering suitcase.
Forgiveness is a choice. Sometimes it is a long process, sometimes it is letting go of the past and sometimes it's realizing we have better ways to spend our energy.
There are dozens of books written just on the topic of forgiveness, both from a psychological and religious/spiritual view. Urban says one of the main reasons so many people never experience the peace that comes with forgiving is that they do not fully understand what it is. I was surprised by that, but kept on reading. He then provided a list of a few things that forgiveness is NOT (to clear up some of the most common misconceptions about it).
---Forgiveness does not mean that you are condoning the hurtful behavior of another person, nor does it mean that you're letting that person off the hook.
---Forgiveness does not mean that you have to play the part of a martyr. It does not mean that you have to continue as a victim.
---Forgiveness does not mean that you have to pretend that everything is fine. Pain is real and forgiveness takes time.
---Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. Many times it lead to restoring relationships, but it isn't always possible.
---Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. We're urged to "forgive and forget," but it isn't really possible to completely erase our memory banks. We cannot deny reality, but we CAN forgive without forgetting.
---Forgivness does not mean being a weakling. Forgiving a person who's hurt you is not "wimping out" on yourself; it is taking a step toward healing.
I know I've experienced the forgiving aspect but I did question the forgetting part. I suppose if there is real forgiveness and time heals the emotional wounds then forgetting shouldn't be an issue. If I cannot forget "it", it's ok as long as it doesn't cause me further pain to remember. If the pain is still there on remembering, then I have not completed the forgiveness as well as I thought I had.
It's spring - it's renewal and growth time - could it also be time to purge ourselves of resentment, bitterness and revenge? The sprouts coming up in my garden needed to cleared of the winter debris in order to have room to grow and bloom. Maybe forgiveness is like that winter debris? And maybe all forgiveness is not about making a reconciliation happen as much as it is just letting go? And maybe learning to forgive does as much good as a healthy diet and exercise for our overall health?
The bone to chew on - forgiveness.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Change comes down to a choice --- whether to defend our habits while destroying our lives (and the planet) or to commit to the difficult process of transformation.
I've been thinking of my grandmother lately. Compared to the life she lived on the farm, I am on Easy Street. She had no modern "conveniences", there were no shopping malls, and although she had a TV in her later years, it was rarely on. I don't think she felt the need for entertainment, or the noise of it. She was never on any "quest" for anything. There was a contentment about her that I've seldom seen in anyone since. I guess that is one of the reasons I really wish she were here right now.
I would ask her why my life seems so complicated compared to hers. I have these appliances, all this stuff doing automatically what she labored over. I can buy food in a huge grocery store, I don't have to grow it, or feed the chickens. I don't have sew my own clothes, make my own down blankets, can my own jam. I don't have to hang my wash out to dry, heat hot water on the stove for a bath, or bake my own bread. Grandma never "ordered in" and rarely ate dinner out in a restaurant.
She had a quiet pride in doing a good job at whatever chore was in her face --- the face that smiled and didn't complain. It was a simple life. She found time to indulge in her passion, homemade lace making, and could sit for hours with a half dozen tatting bobbins flying about in her talented but worn hands. Entire tablecloths were born of those moments!
Yes, she worked hard. But she never suffered stress, depression, emotional or physical ailments. She also never had a weight problem and was strong enough to arm wrestle my father. There is something to be said for her life. She took such pleasure from nature. Picking the perfect peach off of a tree would bring a smile that would last all afternoon. I am blessed for having lived with her for years, living the hard work yet experiencing the reward of it all. I know that way of life in its rural and rustic simplicity is not a popular choice today but I am feeling drawn to embrace it.
I can see her wagging a finger, maybe more than just at me - at all of us. We take so much for granted. Our ultra convenient lifestyle has helped pollute the planet with plastic this and that, disposables and outright junk and garbage. Sure there is re-cycling now, now after landfills are brimming, now that we are decades into bad habits, now that we have Earth Day!
I'm not advocating we all move to farms and live off the land - there isn't enough good land available for that transformation anyway. But you know as well as I do, her wagging her finger at us means we better change our ways. Change is choice and the choice is ours. And the time? The time is past due. I am doing a serious re-evaluation of what we consume in our household. I've been recycling for years but I want to do more. I'm planting as much food as I have room to grow. I was raised with "make do or do without" and I am reincorporating that as my new mantra. I want to change on my own, before I'm told I have to!
What changes are you making to leave a smaller carbon footprint? What would you will be willing to do without? How "green" can you get?
(Beware of Grandma's wagging finger - it could be coming your way!)
Monday, April 6, 2009
The Webster dictionary definition of empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another.
Other words of related virtues are compassion, understanding and caring.
When trying to grasp a concept, I use a look at the opposite words for clarity. In this case, the opposites would be self-centeredness, insensitivity, and heartlessness. Obviously we would not want to describe ourselves using these words, yet it can be all too easy to slip into those behaviors or thoughts. Words are powerful. Intentions are powerful. If we aspire to emulate the virtues of empathy, compassion, understanding and caring then to act in a self-centered, insensitive and uncaring manner is contrary, and sends a message that may not be what we intended.
In his book, Choices that Change Lives, author Hal Urban states that there is a clear distinction between empathy and compassion, and that psychologists have concluded that empathy is the starting block necessary for not only compassion but for all other forms of kindness.
"Empathy is the ability to vicariously put ourselves into another person's position and feel what he or she is feeling. These feelings can be ones of great joy or sadness, or anything in between. Empathy is defined as the ability to imagine oneself in another's place and understand the other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. It became an important word in counseling because lack of empathy is a major cause of breakdowns in communications and relationships."
Intellectually I know this. As a human being capable of screwing up (tho never intentionally of course) I need reminders. Lots of them. It doesn't matter what age or stage of life I'm in, living the life I aspire to filled with love, compassion, understanding, and all those wonderful spiritually enriching virtues requires some monitoring and perhaps even vigilance. I can focus on the positive virtues daily. The signal that tells me I may have strayed off course are those "opposite" words, if I become self-centered for instance, it's my alarm bell. If something is all about me, it ceases to consider the feelings of anyone else BUT me.
Do you have a method, or recipe, for staying on track with "the good stuff"?
Friday, April 3, 2009
An article in my local a few days ago stirred something up. I'd like to write about it and I hope you will let me know what YOU think about this.
One of our local high schools had invited Bill Ayers to come and speak (brief bio to follow from Wikipedia). It turns out that the parents had one holy fit over this and wanted him banned from coming - which the school then did. Granted, he is controversial due to his very radical behavior over 40 YEARS AGO, but I would think it interesting to listen to him nonetheless. I feel quite confident he would not be inciting the kids to fight our government, or suggesting they should bomb government buildings to make a point. Rather he would fill in the huge blanks of deficient history texts and tell the truth of those days.
He is not apologetic for his behavior, perhaps that is the sticky wicket here, but I wonder how many of the people banning him were even alive then? Unless you lived thru the 60's and early 70's and the whole Viet Nam nightmare, do you automatically ban anyone from speaking about the tensions, the horrors and the frustrations of that whole era? It was a volatile era, between Viet Nam and Civil Rights. It was a time of activities, protests, and change, lots of change. It was frightening. It was exciting. It was a lot of things worth mentioning, worth discussion.
Look in a high school history book and see what they write about it. Not much and not the whole ugly truth either. I graduated high school with kids that were immediately drafted, and many who were immediately shipped back in the coffins that are now banned from being shown on the news. Oooo, too much reality? Perhaps blessedly, we were spared the intense news coverage back then that is available today. Or perhaps if we DID have the coverage, it wouldn't take radicals like Ayers and his merry band of radicals to help stop the war, which like it or not they did do.
I wasn't involved with his group, but I did join protesters - me and millions of others. I watched as many of my friends came back (the ones NOT in coffins) and they were spit on and hated. One friend wore hats all the time because in the 60's if you had a shaved head (army style) it was a dead give away you were in the service. Even in civilian clothes he was physically attacked for serving in the military - like he had a CHOICE? No choice back then remember - it was a draft. People were so outrageously vicious toward the military when it was the government leaders that they should have been throwing rocks at. These kids serving should never have taken such hatred from Joe Public.
So here we are many decades later and this is all history and yes it was not a history to be particularly proud of but it all happened. Boomers like me remember it well and I would enjoy listening to Ayers - he is, after all, a professor of merit and good repute now. I haven't read his book but it is on my list to read. I'm not a "fan" of his actions, but I do know and understand where the hell he was coming from and it was exactly that - hell.
My question to you is:
Are these parents coddling their kids -- do you think they have a right to ban Ayers from speaking? Would you want to listen to him? Could we not perhaps learn something?????
Below is info I copied in case you need more to reach a conclusion.
William Charles Ayers (born December 26, 1944) is an American elementary education theorist who was a 1960s anti-war activist. He is known for the radical nature of his activism in the 1960s and 1970s as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. In 1969 he co-founded the violent radical left organization the Weather Underground, which conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings during the 1960s and 1970s. He is now a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar.____________________________________________________________________________
The group is notable for a campaign from 1969 through the middle 1970s of riots, bombings, and a jailbreak. The "Days of Rage," the group's first public demonstration on October 8, 1969, was a riot in Chicago coordinated with the trial of the Chicago Seven. In 1970 the group issued a "Declaration of a State of War" against the United States government, under the name "Weather Underground Organization" (WUO). The bombing attacks were mostly against government buildings, along with several banks. Most were preceded by communiqués that provided evacuation warnings, along with statements regarding the particular matter which motivated the attack. For the bombing of the United States Capitol on March 1, 1971, they issued a statement saying it was "in protest of the US invasion of Laos." For the bombing of The Pentagon on May 19, 1972, they stated it was "in retaliation for the US bombing raid in Hanoi." For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the United States Department of State Building, they stated it was "in response to escalation in Vietnam."
The Weathermen grew out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) within the SDS, splitting off to pursue a more radical agenda. It took its name from the lyric "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," from the Bob Dylan song Subterranean Homesick Blues. They also used this lyric as the title of a position paper they distributed at an SDS convention in Chicago on June 18, 1969. The founding document called for a "white fighting force" to be allied with the "Black Liberation Movement" and other radical movements to achieve "the destruction of US imperialism and achieve a classless world: world communism."
They largely disintegrated shortly after the US reached a peace accord in Vietnam in 1973, which saw the general decline of the New Left.
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