Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Religious Perspectives

Imagine the earth and for a moment pretend that it has stopped rotating.  One person stands facing the Middle East.  Another can see only the frozen wasteland of Antarctica.  Another can mostly only view the great Pacific Ocean.  These three communicate by telephone and describe what they see.  They come to a heated argument, the one insisting that a mixture warm land and water cover the earth, another stating the assumed fact that it is a frozen planet and the third that it has only specks of land mass at all.  They cannot come to a consensus and therefore come to insults and verbal blows about the actual description of the planet Earth.  Each insists that what he can see is what the planet is. 

It is an absurd argument as we can all tell.  And yet there is a real argument that mirrors this exact situation and plagues members of the human race.  It is the argument over religion.  We see things differently.  I recently read a blog post in which comments were made contentiously over religion, the nature of a cult, and what exactly is established Christian doctrine.  It was like a scene from Macbeth.

We cannot assume that Christian sects outside our own are wrong simply because it is not what we view at present.  God is larger than one mortal person's comprehension.  As for myself, I hold a certain understanding about God and religion.  I speak as I find.  But I am not about to become contentious or insulting because someone looks at truth and sees something different. I trust that God knows each of us and teaches us according to who we are as individuals.  I don't have all the answers; I trust that if I hold faithful to what I know (ie: I know that there is a frozen wasteland in front of me and that is all I can presently comprehend) He will teach me the rest as I am able to bear it.  But we do have a responsibility as God's children generally and Christians particularly to be kind and friendly one with another.  Let us remember our duty to kindness before our zeal for pride. 

Go Ahead - Rekindle an Old Flame!

Most people who know me generally consider me a very chaste, straightarrow human being.  So I generally appear.  But you see, with the stress of raising two children, handling a executive job, caring for a home and the like, I found it necessary to rekindle a passionate relationship with a man I once knew a long, long time ago.  His name is Boz.

I met him in a high school English class.  My teacher, Mrs. Bethany Oder introduced us and from the first moment we were inseperable.  We spent many late hours together alone in my room, even into the morning.  He was often the first thought when I woke.  But then we drifted apart.  I attended college and didn't have all the time I wanted to spend with my dear, exquisite Boz.  I met new wonderful men named Nate, "Dan", and a fella I like to call "Mel." 

But as I teach my children to be intelligent, morally upstanding human beings, I see I need the aid of my precious Boz.  So I taught them about him.  You might have heard of him as well, but probably by the name of Charles.  Charles Dickens.  Literary fame first knew him as Boz.  Don't think I have neglected Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dante Alighieri, or Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick.  Hardly.  But in the hurried bustle of deadlines, and the general stress of life sometimes we need to take a step backward and fall in love all over again with things that inspired us in our youth.  It keeps our minds relaxed and often places the stresses of life in perspective.  And then when we come away from our impassioned inspiration we do so with a greater sense of purpose and freedom and meet the challenges and duties pressing on our shoulders with renewed strength.  So go ahead and rekindle an old flame today!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Bethlehem Star

Great darkness spread across the trembling earth

And stole through cities vast and wide expanse.

It stifled into mourning human mirth

And demons loosed in all consuming dance

 Triumphant in their soul destructive glee.

It seemed that no great devil could enhance

Contention for it ran through spirits free.

But look! Above the darkness’ evil space

What is it there that those with shackles see?

It glows as sweet as heaven’s tender grace

And reaches through the sinfulness to man

Destroying inclinations foul and base

And rendering to soul the strength to stand

Reminds us truth of who we really are.

It forges goodness to a mighty band

Of righteous souls from near and ever far

And lends us Captain to our bless├ęd fight.

For yonder see the Bethlehem’s bright star. 

It pierces through the dark and shadowed night

Extending peace and hope throughout the ranks

And flooding hell with heaven’s holy light.

So when the darkness seems too strong to bear

Gaze heavenward toward power shining there. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Skinny on Judging Fat People

I'm not obese.  I think that is pretty much evident and anyone who knows me knows that no matter what I put in my body I have always been thin.  I used to eat Reeses Peanut Butter cups and root beer for lunch.  True story.  And even at nine months pregnant I have never been over 135 lbs in my life. 

A few days ago I attended a zumba class taught by a woman who was definitely larger than I am.  She exhausted me.  That woman could move her body faster and longer without any kind of breath of a respite than I can even think.  When I first began working out there was a woman at my all ladies' gym who proved very much overweight.  One might be inclined to judge her walking down the street as a lazy, gluttonous creature.  But I knew her well and everyone in the gym found her absolutey inspirational.  The fact was that though she was very overweight, she had lost over one hundred pounds and worked out for hours every day.  Compared to her weight when she first made a lifestyle change, she was a supermodel from heaven. 

I have often heard people, usually thin, well dressed, feminine people, judging, pointing, mocking, whispering or generally disrespecting those who don't fit into a size six.  But the fact is that we don't always know their stories and we might want to think twice before judging someone for how they appear at first glance.   And to those who avoid the gym because they fear what the ripped, skinny people there will think of them let me leave you with this pertinent thought.   I think I can speak for most of us thin, toned individuals when I say that when I see an exceedingly overweight person at the gym I doubly cheer them on and gush out respect at their being there at all. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Surviving the Plague

As I have recently studied the Black Death I have been terribly impressed by the countless life lessons one can draw from it.  I could fill volumes of my reflections regarding the matter.  But in an effort to keep this blog well rounded, I will only submit one that I found profoundly interesting and is dear to my heart.  I discovered one method someone employed to survive the plague when it raged through London.  He survived, firstly because it was the will of God, and also simply because he was as thoroughly prepared as he could be.  Upon the first breakouts of the plague on the far side of the city, he stocked up on as many provisions as he could possibly manage and then had his family and himself stay within the home almost entirely as the disease took its course and 100, 000 people's lives in the filthy London streets.

This echoes something that my religion has always taught, which is to have on hand at all times a stock of provisions and learn to sustain yourself and your family at a moment's notice.  I was quite enchanted to see that in practice and to learn that it availed the party involved quite well. 

I can personally attest to the importance of being prepared.  Every morning before I rise I pray and ask the Lord what He would have me focus on for that day.  Five years ago in February, the answer was "Be prepared."  I could not understand what I was supposed to prepare so I did everything I could in every area of my life.  The next day, again, the answer to my morning prayer was "Be prepared."  The phrase "if you are prepared ye shall not fear" kept running through my mind.  The third morning was Valentine's Day and again I received the same answer.  I was more or less psychologically ready to catch the sky if it came crashing down on me.  Good thing, too.  At about 10am I was on the freeway, pregnant, and was hit by a gravel truck and a semi.  The car was demolished but the four people within it were protected.  Not one bone broke, the bruises were considerably minimal, and while the entire back seat was smashed to pieces, my eleven month old daughter who had been sitting in it received only one small scratch which healed the next day.  When I returned home after a few hours in the hospital to check on my unborn son, the house was clean, groceries already purchased, dinners for a few days were made and ready, and all things were in order.   

Teach 'Em Young

I have two little munchkins named Julia and Joshua and they are presently the ages of six and four respectively.  I have come to understand that many people consider it impossible or somehow damaging to seek to render to them a strong and very early education.  I fear this is one subject on which I cannot agree with the masses and cannot submit to the naysayers.  I know it is possible and even advisable because my children are quite familiar with such names as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Wolfgang Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Galileo, Thomas Jefferson, Dr. Louis Pasteur, Helen Keller and countless others.  They do not consider these things boring; they whole heartedly embrace them and ask repeatedly for more.  How does one accomplish this?  Begin early. 

I read to  my children in the hospital when they were born.  My daughter first received some passages of scripture and then some passages from Milton's Paradise Lost.  My son again received scripture as his first newborn education and then some passages from John Bunyon's Pilgrim's Progress.  I have created picture books for them for years including such subjects as human biology, nutrition (what various vitamins do for the body and what foods supply them), architecture, art, history, our genealogy, and most recently I butchered A Midsummer Night's Dream into a twelve page book consisting mostly of pictures.  I'll ask forgiveness of my dear Will Shakey later.  I'm sure he would understand. 

How do children receive this?  How do children receive learning about the Holocaust, the Black Death, fast paced family history stories, the explosion of the Italian Renaissance, and the like?  My four year old Josh, who is quite the deep philosopher, told me today, "Mommy, all of life is one big cartoon.  God and Jesus watch all the things that happen like it's one big cartoon."  The fact is that these things are just interesting.  Teach what you love to learn, for as we know, all children love a good cartoon.

Vivaldi, My Invisible Cat

Those who read my blog regularly or who know me personally are well acquainted with the fact that progression and education prove highly important to me.  My goal through much of my life was to be a university professor.  Learning is the joy and passion of my life. But in learning life's lessons I found something I had not considered before.  It is equally important to maintain an active imagination, for so doing relaxes the mind and allows the creative juices to circulate with greater productivity. 

Like a muscle that has been engaged in weight lifting, some stretching and release proves necessary for the mind to function at a higher, stronger level.  I was unfortunately born without much of an imagination but my God mercifully granted me two children who came with more fantasy coursing through their veins and little heads than I could possibly have previously conceived.  We have a full menagerie of invisible animals at my house, most of my daughter's making, and I am required to keep a cat of the invisible variety myself.  I named him Vivaldi, after one of my favorite musicians, and the first one I came to really honestly love and study with a passion.  The feline Vivaldi is black and white like the keys on a piano and likes to sleep on my keyboard during the day (which means I am not required to feed and pet him if I choose not to do so).  But at the moment he is sitting and purring on my lap as I type. ;)

If we are to have a full and well rounded education let us remember that it would serve us well to season it with a little imagination.  True, we can spend our days and nights studying the plays of William Shakespeare and analyze to pieces the tropes and iambic pentameter but let's remember that it is the brilliantly imaginative plots and sheer linguistic beauty that makes these classic works so memorable in the first place.  And while we may adore the creative work of others, we have divine fire within ourselves to craft powerful works of art ourselves.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free Speech

Fairly recently I encountered a man who had read my blog and had become rather incensed by some things I had written.  Particularly upsetting to him was my attitude toward pornography, sexual abuse and the like.  He indicated that my blog made people angry and continued by various ways and means to belittle my opinions in this area. 

I confess, I had so little expected such an attack and have ever only attempted to make this blog an uplifting place, promoting moral decency and mutual human respect that I was quite taken aback to the point that I nearly deleted my blog.  I certainly stopped writing for nearly a week, though I continued posting things I had written previously.  But then I considered the source.  What kind of a man would be upset over such a view unless he felt himself wronged by it?  And what person would consider himself wronged unless he had an issue with his conscience in reference to women and his treatment of them?  I do not pretend to know his history; I cannot attempt to judge his motives. 

But it brings up something that we all treasure as Americans.  No one forced this man to read my blog.  No one threatened that he had better do so.  If he or anyone else disagrees with my opinions, let them find a different manner in which to spend their time.  They have a right so to do.  I invite all who wish to read what I have to say to do so, and I enjoy speaking my mind in this manner.  I do not visit pornography websites and then become enraged at what I see, write the man in charge and complain.  I avoid such sites altogether.  Let us respect each others' right to harbor opinions and also respect our own right to view, read, and participate in those things which bring us joy. 

Where Science and Spirit Meet

I have been listening to a bantering argument outside my door today involving two adults arguing about science versus spirituality.  The scientist has been parroting the usual arguments on the subject.  The saint has been arguing of course the mysteries of God and that we do not have all knowledge yet.  The argument has led to the fact that we cannot believe in what we do not see on one side and the faith that greater things beyond comprehension on the other.

May I play the peacemaker for all those in this predicament?  You will need to follow me to the Orient, but there is indeed an answer that satisfies both.  It is called chi.  It is the life force within us which we cannot see.  In Western terms we would call it the spirit.  Those who practice chi gong, tai chi and the like know that of which I speak.  When we perform certain movements in a certain manner we can actually feel a spiritual strength pouring through our bodies. 

But you can't see or hear or measure the spirit!  Right?  Yes, you can.  Scientists in the Orient have learned to actually be able to measure the sound waves that chi masters can release through their palms.  One can track, measure, and even hear the human life force.  Western scientists have studied and have learned to measure the weight of the spirit by studying bodies immediately before and after death.  They take into account air that the body loses and all other physical reasons a body might weigh less after death.  They have come to the conclusion that the spirit has a very slight weight that exits the body upon death.  So to those who believe only what they can see and measure, I have good news.  We are beginning to be able to measure spirituality. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reconstructing Priorities

I was not born a baby person.  I was not born a little kid person.  My goal as a child was to be a university professor, professional student, rack up PhDs or eventually become a sage.  I know that I am not the only one who has felt that playing Go Fish is not the most exciting way I could be spending my time. 

Did I mention I have a beautiful custom house and I enjoy keeping it clean?  That my acre of land is covered with an exquisite garden and I have facebook statuses to check?  We can always find something else to do rather than spending time with our kids.  But I realized in attempting to place my own priorities toward the back and those of my kids toward the front that when you do so life slows down and that slowing down is okay.  And you learn to enjoy life more. 

When you spend time with your kids, you realize that the dishes in the sink weren't going to produce monsters that will take over your house.  You will realize that facebook can wait indefinitely.  You rediscover your interest in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Monopoly.  And as I learned, you don't need to fulfill the dream you thought you couldn't live without.  You recognize that before your agenda needs fulfilling, your human soul needs fulfilling.  My Julia and Joshua are my Masters degree and PhD. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Miracles: A Word to the Atheists

I have spent many years listening thoughtfully to arguments some people have employed to discredit spiritual miracles in support of the idea that God does not exist and that things happen randomly in our lives.  They argue that people who believe in God are foolish.  I cite one such arguement upon which I stumbled fairly recently in relation to the Roman Emperor Constantine.  For those who don't know the story, he was the first Roman Emperor to support Christianity.  On the eve of a major battle, he was told by the Lord that if he fought in the name of Jesus he would win.  A cross appeared in the sky, and his troops attacked in the name of Christianity.  Sure enough, they won this very important battle. 

I read an account of this along with a suggestion that scholars think it might have been merely a strange alignment of certain planets that created this cross in the heavens and thus the story had no spiritual merit.  I cannot help smiling and exercising compassion on their poor, dear ignorance. 

It stands to reason that since God created all things in the heavens and beneath it, it is certainly within His reach to employ the planets and stars to His own purposes.  Let's assume that these scholars are right.  The cross in the heavens might have occurred because of certain aligning planets.  And who controls the planets?  Who created them?  God created all things from the Red Sea to the burning bush to the walls of Jericho and certainly He knows the natural laws that govern them.  Having created nature itself as we know it, He can perform feats that though to Him are quite simple, we quite rightly call miracles.

An Apple Fell and Changed the World

I have been gearing up for summer with my beautiful children.  I love summer because I have more time to be with them and teach them.  I sometimes make them picture books to teach them rather higher level art, nutrition, biology and the like, and yesterday I began drafting a page devoted to Isaac Newton.  As I studied and relearned the concept of gravitational force which we all know so well, something caught my attention.

We generally think of gravity as the earth bringing something toward it, but the lesson doesn't end there.  Newton also said that in its own way, according to its own mass, the apple also had an effect on the earth.  Two objects have pulls on each other.  That apple had an effect on the earth.

So what is my point?  Sometimes we feel terribly insignificant and look up to others as being the fit rulers, role models, and popular figures while we languish in obscurity.   But each one of us, no matter how quietly we behave or insignificant we feel, has an effect on everyone else.  You do matter.  No matter how small your sphere of influence, you matter.  Your life force touches others.  Your attitude whether fair or foul, has an effect on those around you.  Even if you cannot see the effects, they exist.  I haven't the time to write an earth shattering text filled with years of study and research.  But I can write books for my young children, and in raising the next generation I can indeed change the world. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Present Day Black Death

Today I saw a photo of someone who had the Black Death and I have been reading Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year.   It has caused me a great deal of thought as one might expect.  I have been beyond horrified at the photo of a man with this unearthly, bright red, venomous horror on his neck and been astonished at the terrible accounts I have read of live people being accidentally buried under the infected bodies, parents going mad from the illness of their children and more stories too numerous and sickening to relate.

As I read this book on the treadmill at the gym a few days ago I found myself caught in a reverie.  I often do this when I ponder historical events.  I thought about what I could have done had I been there with the knowledge I have.  How many lives could be saved if they knew they could just destroy the rats, use clean water, and employ soap every day?  I wished that I could have been there to tell them how to lessen the epidemic.  A thought of inspiration broke upon me.  I felt that God had placed me in a time when we face something more fearful and evil than the Black Death.  The physical plague destroyed human bodies.  The emotional, moral, and psychological plague of today destroys human souls.  And today, there is something we can do.

Many in that time were courageous enough to nurse the dying, contagious patients.  How many today are courageous enough to stand up to the tempests of immorality, indecency, abuse, and general plague against that which uplifts and ennobles mankind?  Are we strong enough to walk into the streets filled with agonizing souls and strew as much light and goodness and courage in moral strength as we have to give?  Can we stand for what we believe?  I think that to some extent we all have the power to love and uplift those around us.  Let us give away what goodness we have, lift those hands that hang down and stand for those things that we know can overcome and destroy this present day Black Death.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Act Your Age

I have often heard people, and usually men, laughingly refer to themselves as grown up children.  They play with legos, watch cartoons, and the like.  I find that a healthy frame of mind, provided they engage in such activities sparingly in fairly rare moments of deep relaxation or when caring for children.  But sometimes I fear we take the concept rather too far.  I recently spent two hours listening to someone who insisted in recounting several cartoons in vigorous detail.  This person is older than I am. 

I know several people in this frame of mind and imagine you might as well.  I have noticed something about such people that seems to be a trend.  Often when childish amusements fill the bulk of one's entertainment, the person's personal habits tend toward sloppiness.  I find this particularly in their eating habits.  They are more inclined to junk food, rotted teeth, and find it difficult to live in the here and now.  The rather older ones tend to be mentally stuck in the decades of their youth.  They tend to have emotional problems, particularly in dating and more mature relationships.

My dear friends, let us act our ages.  Let us realize that we are not here on this earth to prove stagnant but to progress in all things.  Let us rejoice in our physical maturity and count it a blessing to have experienced that which we have.  Let us stand taller that we might uplift and inspire the young to grow up into strong and mentally active men and women we so desperately need to carry the world into a brighter and stronger future. 

Pro Love

I love all people.  I love those who act in manners contrary to my opinions of right and wrong.  I love the women who feel themselves required to abort their unborn chidren.  I love those who recklessly choose late term abortion for reasons self centered and entirely lacking in love in and of themselves.  I love passionately those innocent victims of abortion. 

I cannot in good conscience excuse the choice of late term abortion.  I cannot in good conscience condone those who make irresponsible choices and then choose abortion to avoid consequences.  I still love the women who make that choice.  I understand that some say that in the case of rape or the mother being in physical danger by keeping the baby that they are justified in abortion.  Let them make their choices as they will.  But let me share two relative stories on the subject.

I know a woman who was severely abused by her husband.  She pleaded in prayer that God spare her having children until this man had undergone therapy and changed his life.  She would have left him but for fear.  She bore two children by him.  Those children are the light and joy of her life and have been instrumental in allowing her to heal from the scars of trauma.  They are special children and all who know them adore them.  Another woman I know was told during her pregnancy that she had cancer of the uterus and had to abort the daughter in order to have surgery to save her life.  She refused.  Against all odds and in a situation nothing short of miraculous she bore the healthy girl, recovered from childbirth, and then had a full hysterectomy.  The lovely daughter will be married this July and the mother will be there to share in her joy. 

Let us have a little more love for each other.  Let us dare to have a little more faith that things will work out if we strive to protect innocent children.  Let us recognize that whatever the situation, children are a beautiful gift from the Almighty and are to be cherished and enjoyed.

Live and Let Live

Some time ago I found myself engaged in a political discussion with a man who argued that he supported the idea that we should allow other people to act injudiciously and in a manner out of harmony with generally accepted ideas of right and wrong without punishment.  "Live and let live" he concluded.  I agreed with the following point:

Yes, we should live and let live.  But part of my life includes promoting what I believe to be right and discouraging what I believe to be wrong.  That is part of my right to live according to how I see fit.  I would not be living to my satisfaction without that. 

Often we are chided and regarded as bigots if we do not support legalized marijuana, gay marriage, child pornography and the like.  But who is the bigot?  Is it not fair that we have the right to cast our own ballots according to the dictates of our own consciences?  Is it somehow the right of others to badger and insult us because we believe in promoting traditional ideas of moral decency?  Allow me to make a distinction.  Some of my best clients have been very good masculine gay couples.  They are delightful.  I would do lunch with them anytime. But when it comes to casting my ballot, I have the right to cast it in a manner according to my desire to promote marriage as something sacred between one man and one woman.  Let them vote as they will.  But do not persecute me for voting as I will.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Show Me Your Stuff

One of the great emotional pains I carry every day is seeing particular people I love attempting to hide behind the image he or she wishes to portray rather than accepting themselves as God made them.  They wear all the “right” clothes, dye their hair the color they believe is most fashionable, and talk incessantly about the activities they do that they believe will draw a desired social reaction.  Calm down, my beloved friends!

I have one acquaintance that breaks my heart relentlessly.  He is completely unaware that if he would trust what the Lord made of him in the first place he would immediately see the kind of results he wants.  The results he continually seeks remain a universe away.  Why?  Because he is kicking against the pricks by trying to conform to something that is beneath him. 

If we want people to value the real us, value us for who we are, and love us to the center, we need to show them who we are.  People are not mind readers.  Show them what lies beneath, revert to a simple and honest style of dress and activity and you will realize that you already had what it took to impress the world all along. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Working Mommies

I have read as I am sure we all have, several news articles regarding women working outside the home.  One poll I read discussed the findings that even if a woman has sufficient money coming from her man she will usually still want to work outside the home.  They concluded therefore that the matter was closed and that since women wanted to to do it, there was no problem at hand.

I am a working mommy and I know many of them.  Sadly to say, many of my associates who wear double hats do so for the same reason which has nothing to do with money.  It has to do with men.  Their significant others treat them disrespectfully and indecently if they do not bring a paycheck.  Often the masculine counterparts glory in their jobs simply because it gives them an excuse to treat their wives with contempt.  And with divorce rates skyrocketing in this society, what is a woman to do?  I know of one woman whose husband refused to let her work outside the house except in the mindless jobs he accepted and while she was pregnant he would pretend to work and instead spend his time in strip clubs.  Disgusting.

Brethren, I love and respect you.  I believe the best in you.  I know that not all men are like this but for goodness sake, boys, give your woman a reason to want to stay home.

Severus Snape and Other Reasons Not to Judge

I appreciated very much the final twist in Harry Potter regarding Snape.  Literature is full of exquisite examples of characters who seem evil and thoroughly wicked but end up the great heroes of the narrative.  Stories are often a powerful way of teaching and I think one of the great lessons we need in this world is that of judging with love and giving others the benefit of the doubt.  Sometimes we feel so justified in criticizing others or allowing ourselves to become disgusted with them.  After all, Harry actually saw Snape murder Dumbledore in cold blood.  Reason enough to peg him as a fully worshipping Death Eater. 

One of my favorite other examples of this kind of twist lies in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  Through a long, thoroughly gripping and delightfully entertaining series of events we discover that up is really down, left is right and no one has any reason to fret over the things for which they were ready to murder their best friends or die trying.  Another is Verdis's opera La Traviata which has become rather a favorite.  A woman who on the surface seems nothing but a flirtatious, indecent, self centered, fickle woman turns out to be the heroine who sacrifices her ruined life to secretly bring others a window of happiness.  And let's not forget Pride and Prejudice where proud, immovable Mr. Darcy risks everything to rescue a devastated family from shame and raise them to heights before unimaginable. 

My apologies to the general public - I speak more or less fluent nerd.  It creeps into my language sometimes.  But you understand my drift.  Whatever a person may do to us, let us first and foremost remember that we do not want our actions toward that person to be justified.  We want them to be right.  Justice will eventually find glory in its visitation on every human soul.  Let us guard our own actions toward those we perceive to be evil and recall that whatever their actions toward us, we need to remain constantly kind and decent with regard to them.  And who knows?  It may end up that our forgiving words and actions may give emotional refuge to another grim looking Severus Snape!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mix it Up

Life is beautiful!  Life is something we have the choice and opportunity to enjoy to its fullest.  We can soar in the highest wind or explore the reaches of the deepest ocean.  Sometimes we need to break away from our typical occupations to find new things that can open our minds.  Don't be afraid to try. 

I have always been touched by beautiful language.  Allow me to share a few favorite passages with you.  The first is from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Says broken hearted and slighted Helena, "Love looks not with the eyes but the mind and wherefore is the winged Cupid painted blind? For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne, he hailed down oaths that he was only mine." It is a commentary on the fickleness of men, the nature of love and attraction, and leaves the reader satisfied that he or she has done something altogether classy by reading it.

There is another passage that absolutely slays me no matter how many times I hear it, which is really quite often.  It is from cowboy songwriter and vocalist Marty Robbins's Strawberry Roan.  He is relating a tale of being thrown by a wicked old horse when he had boasted he could ride anything. Robbins sings, "He's about the worst bucker I've seen on the range.  He'll turn on a nickel and give you some change.  He hits on all fours and goes up on high, leaves me a-spinnin' up there in the sky.  I turns over twice and I comes back to earth.  I lights into cussin' the day of his birth." 

Do something unexpected today.  Whether listening to an opera for the first time to reading a random comic book from the library shelves, make an effort to expand your horizons.  You just might learn to love whatever it is you've been avoiding.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Walk Like You Own the Place

Last year I entered a situation that proved, beyond annoying, rather a learning experience.  I work out frequently and in entering the gym I would often find a group of anywhere from two to five muscular male gym rats loitering at the entrance, waiting to ask me out. 

First, let me explain something.  I hate it when men hit on me.  It's one of my ultimate passionate hatreds.  So I had already informed these boys the answer was unalterably no, wore fully modest gym clothes and avoided eye contact.  I remember getting a sick feeling in my stomach when I was near them and for this reason I straightened my shoulders and walked with a kind of "you can't frighten me" sort of expression.  Thus, I was surprised that they proved so incessant.  With all the scantily clad women in the building I couldn't understand their undying interest.  Imagine my surprise when they told me that what attracted them first and foremost is that I walked like I owned the place. 

Ladies and gentlemen, you do own the place.  You are a child of God and He loves you.  He owns the place and He doesn't want you selling your body to those who will disrespect it.  Dress with dignity, protect the body He has given you and you will naturally walk as though you own the place as well.  Realize that you don't have to be cheaper than the next person in order to get a date and confidence will naturally radiate in your expression.  And people are drawn to that.  You will have a scandalous amount of admirers at your feet and your job will be to decide which one is amazing enough to be your one and only true love.

The Other Side of the Tracks

Let's stretch our souls a bit today, shall we?  I often yearn to stretch my spiritual legs but I try to keep my blog posts fairly simple to create short, uplifting tidbits that people can easily blow through in a short time.  Today let's take our gaze outward to the other side of the tracks.  This applies no matter what side of the tracks you currently find yourself.

I come from a rich family.  It's true.  My parents are quite well supplied and live in a four story split level mansion.  But I grew up on the side of Tucson to which most people refer as the wrong, bad, dangerous and poor area of the city.  I grew up at Salvation Army and Goodwills when my clothes were not hand tailored by my mother.  Those who have not spent much time in the ghetto, let me give you a rather surprising reality check.  The residents there are people, too.  There is love in the poor areas of town.  There is heart felt sacrifice for family members.  There are parents grieving terribly that they cannot give their children something better. 

Those who look outward and see rich, pampered snobs looking down their noses at you, I have news for you.  They don't think themselves better than you for the most part.  They are afraid of you because you live in a world that they know would crumble them in a moment.  And they aren't all snobby, self centered gold diggers either.  Many of them started where you are now.  I know a great many wealthy people that give to others who have less than they do in a way that would stun any preconceived notions of the selfish rich. 

The fact is we are all human beings.  We all have emotions, and I think most want to help others.  Let's try to bridge the social gap between social classes and realize that no matter the wealth or poverty of another person, we can always find something in common, we can love and respect each other and learn from what the other has to share.

There is Always Hope

When I was a child my mother had two major issues with me, or rather, two that I will presently address.  I am sure I caused her a great deal of stress more than a simple two issue disagreement.  The first was that for the life of me, I would not brush my hair.  It felt as though monsters were ripping, tearing, and ferociously growling through my locks when anyone attempted taming my ever resisting curls.  Later on, my eating habits became beyond horrendous.  I was extremely picky, couldn't stand the idea of red meat, and eventually in high school took to shoveling nothing but sugar coated garbage into my mouth.  She pretty much had to give up and let me live as I chose.  I was too troublesome.

I think we can deduce from my pictures that I have learned to brush my hair every now and then.  One of the issues my family deals with regarding me now is that I am no fun at the dinner table.  My eating habits are nearly textbook perfect.  My family has sought in vain to get me to open my mouth to anything that would adversely affect my body. 

Sometimes we lavish time, energy, prayer, patience, and all the love and compassion we can muster on people who remain completely unmoved.  I know I have had this experience with many people I love.  I have often been brought to my knees, thinking that it was all for nothing and I failed.  The thing we must remember, however, is that it isn't about us or what we can accomplish.  God is the one at the helm.  And sometimes He just uses staunch, stubborn, unmoving people so we can learn to work and give our all.  Sometimes He waits until we have expended all we can give and long afterward He brings about the result to teach us humility.  But miracles can happen and they frequently do all around us. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gender Confusion

Some years ago I stepped onto an airplane and headed toward my seat near the back.  The young fella who happened to have the seat next to me seemed altogether too excited to be in such close proximity to me for the hour and a half trip back home.  I spent most of the flight attempting to sidestep his various attempts at hitting on me.  Then finally as we were about to land he turned to me and flirtatiously but accusingly said "Oh sure, just don't ask for my number."

I was stunned.  The audacity of his unrelenting flirtations aside I was first and foremost astonished that he expected me to be the man in the situation.  Call me old fashioned but that just isn't the woman's job!  I have also had guys thrust their email addresses into my hands, beg me incessantly to call them but refuse to call me, and the like. Once in high school when I was attempting to figure this whole guy/girl thing out, I did in fact call a guy who seemed otherwise difficult to reach.  I found that when I have to pursue a fellow I lose all respect for his manhood.  He not only insults my femininity by such behavior, I felt, but sacrifices his own masculinity. 

Another one of my crazy ideas. Men and women are inherently different.  I know it's shocking to think such a thing in this society but really, it is true.  And it's a good thing.  We were meant to be ourselves and compliment each other.  Men are hard wired to be pursuers, hunters, and ultimately victorious on the field of emotional battle.  Women are, among other things, wired to be goddesses worthy of being wooed and intelligent enough to accept the wholly masculine, pursuing man she really wants, eliminating all others from her heart.  So let's just all be ourselves. 

Get Fresh With Me

One of the most amazing things we do in this lifetime is eat!  I love good, healthy, soul inspiring food.  I am also blessed to have a fairly large parcel of land on a well and consequently have an orchard and very lively garden.  Since I have historically had rather a black thumb in place of a green one I have required a great deal of help.  My garden presently has tomatoes, peas, artichokes, carrots, squash, zucchini, lettuce, butternut squash and yams to say nothing of the herbs and flowers.  I have been dragging my feet or else I would also have corn by now.  The orchard includes mouth watering delights like figs, avacados, peaches, pears, apples, cherries, mangos, lemons and the like.  Last year much of the harvest went to feeding the hungry, freezing, dehydrating, giving to friends and eating at home.  We still had to throw away quite a bit of surplus.

There is something richly beautiful not only about eating fresh and amazing food every day but actually getting one's hands dirty in the soil in the first place.  Even weed pulling becomes a joy.  Everything takes on new meaning and purpose and you begin to understand life with a more cheerful point of view.  I would like to reiterate that this didn't come naturally or immediately to me in any way.  I've had my irritations with literal thorns in my flesh but when you catch the vision of what you are doing, who you can help, the good you are doing not only to your dinner table but for the earth everything seems to fall into better order and you learn to be more grateful for what you have. 

It also forces you to open your eyes and learn new things you would never have expected.  I became a master at learning to use butternut squash last year because the plants grew like weeds.  I learned how to make several eggplant dishes including ratatouille and had the opportunity to teach new cooking techniques to others.  And to those interested but wondering where to begin, the answer is trial and error.  Dirt.  Seed.  Water.  Sunlight.  Recognize that failing is a part of learning provided you don't give up.  Start there. 

How to Win the Dating Game

I don't watch television much but my favorite sitcom is an old one called Hogan's Heroes.  It is a hysterical comedy set in a Nazi prisoner of war camp where the Nazis are very unintelligent and the prisoners have them wrapped around their fingers.  They have an underground tunnel system that includes a French chef, steam rooms, radio communications and a chemistry lab to make dynamite et cetera.  They destroy German bridges and factories by night and line up for role call with innocent expressions in the morning.  The Nazi commander often asks the senior POW Robert Hogan for advice in personal matters. 

At one point he asks Colonel Hogan for advice on women.  Hogan being a casanova tells him that the most important thing is the sweet things you whisper into her ear when you are alone.  Baffled, the Nazi asks what kind of things.  With a self satisfied and confident smirk, Hogan answers him with the single triumphant word, "lies."  He then expounds upon the fact that women want to look up to the man they love and no man can really reach that pedestal with the simple truth.  He then gives the Nazi commander some lines to use on his desired lady while a rather unintelligent Nazi officer snivels sentimentally in the background. 

But I digress.  As hilarious as I find this flick, there is of course something to be said.  Here's your "eat your vegetables" part of this post - the part that is annoying uplifting and altogether true.  It may be a crazy idea, but I can't help thinking that instead of chasing after women trying to come up with lies and then having your face slapped when they discover the truth it might prove advisable to concentrate energies on being your best self, improving your character and accomplishments and then after being yourself and naturally having every last victim of the opposite gender dying of love for the honest you, you can pick the one you really want at your leisure and have a solid and commited relationship forever.  Just a thought.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spirituality and Mother Earth

This is a marvelous planet.  I have had the great blessing to visit much of it and two trips stand out in my mind with regard to getting to know the passion and beauty of our native earth. 

Fairly recently I enjoyed the opportunity to visit Yellowstone Park.  Geysers, bubbling mud pits, the foul smell of sulfur and boiling hot springs account for only a few of the majestic aspects of the area.  I realized how much energy and versatility earth experiences.  I realized how exquisite the conversation of matter and chemistry can exist in this sphere on which we stand.  I came to respect earth as something far more profound than anything man can understand, much less create. 

A few years ago I toured Guatemala and Honduras.  On the banks of Lake Atitlan, the bottom of which exceeds human technology to measure, I rested on a hammock and watched mist settling around the lush, rich vegetation that surrounded me.  Three volcanos surround the lake and add to the spirit that resides in that "land of the green forest."  I had just left an earthquake zone and in a few days would drive across the meeting point of where the underground plates of North and South America intersected.  I felt a powerful call from the earth beneath me.  It was though I could feel the passion and spiritual power of the soul of the earth itself.  It reached toward me in thundering beauty and reminded me that it held the secrets of ages past and awe inspiring answers that would astonish weak and presently baffled scientific man.  Direct your spiritual energy toward the earth and let it teach the center of your heart.

Eat Up!

I had a delightful salad today.  Lettuce, apples, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries and light Italian dressing.  Crunch, munch, crunch.  My snack after that was a bowl of sweet seedless watermelon chunks.  And I can't survive without my sushi run once a week.  But you know what I really love?  Those in the Tucson area can visit a place called the Harvest that has this lamb shank dish that just melts off the bone along with pumpkin based ratatouille.  The flavor explodes in your mouth and then starts dancing. 

Yesterday I made green peppers stuffed with rice, hamburger, tomato and a few savory seasonings.  Fresh banana bread from the oven made a nice snack thereafter.  And then I started munching on dates.  I might later hit the Outback for a good steak or just make some carne asada with onions and peppers at home Mexican style. 

Are you drooling on the keyboard yet?  Oh, good.  Then I can go on with my point.  I never mentioned junk food.  I never listed anything that would harm a physical body.  Oh sure, we can sit on a couch and munch a bag of Doritos but where is the imagination in that?  Let's take care of our bodies and souls by taking healthful food into our tanks and in the process exercise creativity and savor life.  So never mind the things your body doesn't need.  There are so many wonderful things at our disposal that uplifts and aids. 

And most importantly, it tastes yummy.