Thursday, 31 May 2007

Not every bad guy is a terrorist...creating an environment of fear

On my desk, there is a jar of contaminated peanut butter. I know it's contaminated because the numbers match the recall that was on TV and radio a few weeks back. I just found it in the back of my pantry, and I am taking it back to the store today.

To me, it's a sign that the company that makes Peter Pan peanut butter has a problem with cleanliness in their factory. Or someone has a pet turtle and forgot to wash their hands before handling the peanuts or the jars. Or maybe even a disgruntled employee caught between rising costs of living and flat earnings decided to take his/her anger out but adding a little extra something to a batch or two.

To one of the women in my office, it's terrorism. Everything is terrorism these days. Someone goes postal and shoots up a Philadelphia office building or Salt Lake City mall, and they are terrorists. Someone builds a pipe bomb to get back at a business or love rival and they are a terrorist. And now, someone may have forgotten to wash their hands and they too are a terrorist.

The definition is retroactive, too. Remember the Tylenol poisoning years ago. The crazies who engineered that stunt are no longer criminals...they too were terrorists. I know because I heard it last night on the news. Basically anyone who does anything that scares us or harms someone is, by definition, a terrorist. (Are you listening George W. Bush? That means you!)

I am not denying that there are some weird people out there who commit some pretty horrifying acts...but what happened to terms like psychopath or criminal?

By using the term "terrorist" so easily and so quickly we do two things. We elevate the common criminal and run-of-the-mill wack job to the level of a participant in an international enemy group out to destroy all we stand for as Americans or Brits, thus handing them far more status than they deserve.

But even more frightening, we hand those in power the tools they need to pass ever more draconian laws to "protect" us, and strip us of freedom after freedom. As Americans cringe under their virtual desks from these make-believe terrors and cry out to be protected from the risks that are and have always been a part of life, we become like children.

But too many of us forget that the "Mommies" and "Daddies" to whom we are handing over our freedom and personal power are NOT benevolent parents. They are the very people the Comstitution was created to protect us FROM! Our founding fathers and mothers knew that the greatest enemy of the people was the government! Our own government. But sadly, we have forgotten that lesson and the price they paid to try a create a system to reign in the power of government.

Every time we buy into the government hype and media frenzy for fear, quietly throwing away our water bottles and shampoo and eyebrow tweezers as we enter the airport because someone in power says it will make us safer, we take a step further from freedom. And freedom lost is almost never regained.

What if everyone stood up and said no, we will not surrender our water bottles and hand lotion just because you said so? And if that means we give up a vacation flight to stand up for freedom, so be it. It is a small price to pay for our freedom. Within one week, the silly rules would go away.

And can't we just go back to calling criminals criminals, and crazies crazies? And save the hyperbole for the movie screen?

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Love them anyway...

Wonderful advice for life

There are so many times when I've been told that I'm wasting my time. That I shouldn't help this person, or believe that one. That I shouldn't love someone (or least, I shouldn't tell them) until I know that they love me and they won't hurt me and that they will stay.

But life just doesn't work that way. Sometimes our best efforts and most heartfelt expressions go awry and we lose. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. And sometimes, when you think you've done everything right, the pain of loss is nearly unbearable.

And yet...

I refuse to live my life trying to protect myself from pain. No, I do not want to hurt. Yes, I want to be loved and cherished. But I cannot spend what little time we have on this earth trying to hide from disappointment and pain.

So despite the risks, and the cost to me, I have to say I will help when someone needs help I can give...even if they might never appreciate what I do. And I will try to reach for dreams even if there isn't a chance in the world I will succeed...because there is always a chance in heaven I will.

But most of all, I will tell the people I love that I love them. I will never be stingy with love, of all things. And yes, like the song says,

"You can love someone with all your heart, for all the right reasons...
In a moment, they can turn and walk away...
Love them anyway."

Josh Groban - You're Still You

The Ultimate Non Non-attachment song....

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Non-attachment and love -- can you have both?

Is it possible to really and truly love someone and at the same time practice non-attachment?

  • Love is caring intensely about another person's happiness. More so than one's own happiness.
  • Non-attachment means that we observe their happiness or unhappiness but do not become either elated or despondent about what happens to them. No matter what happens to them.

  • Love wants to have contact with the beloved. To see, to hear, to touch, to talk with, to experience.
  • Non-attachment accepts the time together and the time apart with equal satisfaction. It does not want the beloved to go away, but neither does it seek to prolong time together, nor minimize absence.

  • Love seeks intimacy by knowing and understanding the beloved.
  • Non-attachment accepts what is shown or given, but does not seek to create intimacy through seeking or asking.

  • Love remembers and imagines the beloved when they are not near, recreating their presence through memories, personal mementos, or perhaps a shared favorite song.
  • Non-attachment accepts separation and does not seek to create a feeling of connection through memories or objects. And of course, non-attachment never has a favorite song.

  • Love wants to be loved in return
  • Non-attachment accepts one's own feelings without expecting or even wanting anything from another.

Today I am far from my beloved. And I miss him. I played a song that reminds me of him. I have been thinking about the fun things we've done together, the wonderful talks we've had. I've imagined our next visit.

And I have failed entirely in non-attachment. Or have I?

It is my personal feeling that non-attachment was never meant to apply to people. That loving and caring for people is the whole point of this sometimes otherwise pointless existence. Non-attachment is wonderful for freeing us from loving things, from wanting things, from keeping things from others who might need them. From putting a love of transient objects as the center of our lives.

But the Buddha was a compassionate man. He taught skills to help people overcome suffering. He did not sit by, dispassionately while people suffered and keep his enlightenment to himself. He cared. He loved. The way other people felt mattered to him and he spent the majority of his life trying to relieve suffering and increase happiness.

How did we get from that gentle, compassionate man to a place where we see virtue in not becoming attached to PEOPLE? For never really opening our hearts to the beauty of love.

Haven't we missed the whole point?

Monday, 21 May 2007

Telling the truth when it really hurts

When did the admonishment against killing become passe'? Almost every religion on the planet has an injunction against killing. Some make exceptions for essential and limited self-defense (Islam, Judaism), others do not (Christianity, Buddhism.)

But it seems that in our modern world, it's open season on human lives. And what's worse, it's considered bad form to point it out. The reactions range from cold stares to indignant defenses in which G-d's real intent is pulled from who knows where to justify whatever war or attack is going on. Apparently pointing out the facts, the scriptures, the bits where G-d says Don't kill each. Period. is an affront to their religiosity.

It's the same way with the so-called patriotism in this country. Pointing out the (gasp!) evil acts being carried out by this country is considered bad form indeed. I was just reading a post by Becky on Preemptive Karma about this phenomenon. About all the people who, despite all the lies about Iraq and the war that have come to light, still believe that it is somehow wrong to speak out against things the U.S. is doing or has done. Unpatriotic. Subversive. To tell the truth. To not go along with the media spin or the President's agenda. Huh??

I understand the concept of relativism -- the idea of evaluating actions in the light of changing conditions. And sometimes it's necessary as our world changes. For the little things.

But for the big killing 1000's of innocent people or declaring self-serving wars, the rules still hold. Even when it hurts to finally tell the truth.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

His Unfinished Work: It Purports To Be A Glorious Day

Read this on another blog in my Blog Ring and just HAD to share! Oh, so nice to know it's not just me!!! Thank you Singer for the dose of reality in my afternoon.

Click here to read: His Unfinished Work: It Purports To Be A Glorious Day You may have to scroll up the page once you land on her site.

100 Things About....

I just added a new element to my blog....If you look in the top of the right hand column, you'll see a heading called "100 Things About...". So far I have only one thing there....100 things about me. But I would love to add 100 things about my readers. Or any other clean list of 100 interesting things or facts. So jump in.

Send me your link to your 100 things about... list. You can have it from your site, or if prefer, create a Google document of your 100 things and send me the link to that. I will add them to my site and give you credit for your lists.

By the way, writing a list of 100 things about yourself is harder than it sounds! Give it a try!

Monday, 14 May 2007

Some thoughts on Mother's Day -- Now versus Then

I had a very good Mother's Day...

My teenaged daughter brought tears to my eyes when she gave me a lovely necklace that featured a small silver dangle engraved with "Mother" -- and showed me that she had the matching "Daughter" one! A teenager who WANTS to match mom...I am beyond words!

My little one made me breakfast...her very famous scrambled eggs and toast. It was perfect! She has a secret to her delicious eggs but I had to promise not to tell anyone. Especially not the entire internet! And she made me a beautiful card at school...all hand woven with stories inside.

My son, who lives with his dad far away, sent me an oh-so-sweet card, and called. I'll be seeing him in just a few weeks and can't WAIT!

As a single mom, I suffer from too few hours and too many responsibilities. When I'm not actually at work, I'm usually cooking or doing household chores or taking my girls to one destination or another. (That's why I treasure our nights listening to music that I talked about in earlier posts!). Sometimes I think I'm not making it, not giving my kids everything they need, never mind what they want.

And then Mother's Day comes along, and I discover that according to my kids, I'm doing just fine.

I am one very happy mom! And a very blessed one.

How different it was when I was on the other the daughter.

I remember many Mother's Days with my mom. My dad would take me shopping, and I would spend hours and lots of Dad's money picking out my mom's favourite perfume and some jewelry and maybe a book or two. Then there would be a big card and some drawings to go inside. I'd come home, wrap them carefully and wait for the big day. Then I wait while she opened the gifts...

"I already have this perfume."

My smile would fade just a bit.

"I don't wear this kind of jewelry."

I would start to feel could I have messed up so badly?

"I think you picked this book out for yourself."

Sometimes I would try to salvage the moment by pointing out the advantages of the gifts.

"This is the new kind of the perfume. And I thought you would like the book because..." But my pleadings would fall on deaf ears. She'd gather up the paper, looking for all the world as though she was the recipient of a tax audit instead of the offerings of a little girl who wanted to make her mom happy.

So when I see the smile on my children's faces as they present me with their cards and gifts and gestures, I also allow myself to thank the little girl inside of me. Her gifts were just right, too. And the little girl that once was me smiles on Mother's Day...finally.

When the words are hard to say

What do you do when there are words you want to say to someone...good words...wonderful words, but you are terrified that if you say them, they will lie there, alone and untouched and you will sit there silently, not knowing what to do or say...

I saw an epsiode of Sex in the City where the women were at a wedding. The bride threw her bouquet and it landed on the ground in front of the women. They stood there and stared...looking at the flowers, looking at each other. Looking at the bride who had thrown the bouquet. And no one said a word.

That's what I am imagining. Silence. Awkward silence. And a bouquet on the ground.

The feeling seems to be mutual. I see it, hear it, feel it. Should I wait for him to say it? Is he waiting for me to say it?

If both of us are afraid of that bouquet on the floor, will the words remain forever unspoken?

Thursday, 10 May 2007

I am such a bad mommy, but the music was so good!

I was going to be good the rest of this week. Honestly I was. I was going to come home after work and make the girls a lovely dinner and do laundry and read and work. I was going to get the girls into bed early.


I was going to!!!

But I didn't.

Last night I worked late, raced home, grabbed the girls and went to hear music with T, and her friends from the senior living community and my friend G who has been so busy I haven't seen her in almost two weeks even though we live on the same street!

The band was excellent, the evening weather was even better. We listened and talked and sipped tea(me), soda (my girls) or coffee (everyone else.) We laughed at stories. My little one and I played a game of chess. My older daughter chatted with far away friends on my laptop. We ate Taco Bell for dinner.

I meant to be good. But the music and the evening were too tempting. The time grew late and the music went on, and the stories flowed.

I am such a bad mommy, I thought as I tucked my daughter in at 10:30pm instead of the 9 pm I'd planned. But then I thought of the years ahead when a night spent doing chores will be long forgotten, but a night spent listening to music and talking and dancing around a fountain on a warm Florida evening just might be a treasured memory.

Maybe I'm not such a bad mommy after all...

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Free music, poetry and comedy with a cup of tea

Last night, I did not work.

I did not write.

I did not do laundry.

I did not do research.

I did not apply for jobs or brainstorm articles.

I did not even cook.

Last night, I sat curled up in a chair at a local coffee house, a cup of hot Chai on the table in front of me, my little daughter curled up in the arm chair across from me, a new friend next to me, my older daughter a few feet away busy on my laptop, and I enjoyed local musicians, stand up comics, poets and actors. We sat there from about 8 pm until closing at 11. Drank tea or hot chocolate. And listened.

The performances were amazing. Such incredible talent. And they were performing for us, the audience, sitting in a small coffee house. I was overcome with the sheer joy of it.

For more years than I care to recall, I lived in rural Pennsylvania, where events such as this never happened. Where coffee houses served coffee, and closed before 9 pm. Without music (except the canned variety), comedy or poetry. And I missed it. But until last night, I didn't realize how much.

Since returning home to Florida, I have enjoyed weekly free outdoor concerts only a few blocks from my house. Jazz, country, rock, blues. Sidewalk concerts on weekends. Wednesday night bands. Belly-dancers by the fountain in front of the Taverna. Concerts on the beach, in the parks, and now in the coffee house. I have rediscovered the joy I feel when I listen to live music.

Yes, last night was a school night. And as a good mommy, I probably should have had my girls home and tucked into bed by 9 pm. But how can an evening of tv and early sleep compare to a night spent listening to music and poetry? They experienced slam and traditional poetry. Rap without music. Poetry recited with music. Original dramatic pieces. One very brave man's very first stab at stand up. Wonderful guitar and vocals, including a 14 year old who did a Greenday song with incredible skill. These are experiences I hope they will always remember. A start on their own lifetime of magical moments when they sit in front of a stage and take in the words or the music.

Tonight I will work. I will cook a nice dinner, and do laundry. Homework will be done right away. And after the girls go to sleep, I'll pull out my laptop and work. I may even watch a little tv. But in among my nights at home, our nights at home, I want to make sure there are enough nights like last night, where the only work we do is to listen. And make memories.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Seeing what people are searching for...

I have a statistical program on this blog that lets me see how readers find me. It shows me the search terms people type into Google or Yahoo when they come here because of a search.

It's interesting to note that most people who find me because of searches are searching on the terms Anam Cara (soul friends), Bashert (soul mates), loss of love, or saying goodbye to a friend. These terms seem to resonate with readers across the globe. And I can't help but wonder what this says about us as people.

So why those search terms? I think a few recent studies may hold the answers:

A recent study suggested that most people in the U.S. have about 2.08 people to whom they can talk in a crisis or about matters of deep importance. Putting aside that intriguing partial person that appears in almost all statistical studies (have you ever seen .08 of a person walking around? Why are they and their decimal or fractional twins always in studies but never in our neighborhoods?), that is a very very sad statistic. And many, many people reported they had NO ONE in whom they
could confide. Think about that for a moment...most people have only two people in the entire world with whom they can share the big things in life...the big fears and the big joys, the secret dreams, the "I-just-need-someone-to-talk-to" stuff. And so many are all alone, facing life without a single confidant.

And in another article, I read that calls to help lines and postings on advice and prayer websites are at an all-time high. Although there is no proof of the connection, it certainly appears that people are turning to annonymous voices on the end of a phone or the ultimate annonimity of the internet to take the place of close friends and close family.

So in our loneliness and isolation, we are searching online for advice on how to handle the loss of a love, or how to say good bye to a friend -- because there is no one there in the family or the neighborhood who will listen and share our pain. After all, we meet our dates online. And we join clubs and special interest groups online. Why not search for that elusive "someone who cares" there too?

And we search on the terms soul friends and soul mates in hopes that somewhere out there in the virtual world, there is someone who will tell us exactly how to meet someone who will finally understand us deeply and completely. (There are websites and books that proport to do exactly that, by the way. A step by step wikihow type guide to meeting the people the universe and G-d want us to find. Do we really believe G-d needs instructions to get our soulmate to our door?)

Have we (and by "we" I mean everyone on the planet) reached the point where we have to substitute typed messages and calls to strangers manning phone lines for genuine face to face contact? And most important, can we reverse it?

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

My 70 year old friend's new boyfriends

I spent the evening with my girls and a very special friend. "T-" will be 70 next month. She's a musician, a guitarist, a singer, an avid karioki participant and my best friend for outdoor concerts of all sorts. She's become an adopted mom/grandmom to us.

She is my advisor on questions about raising my kids, dealing with friends and matters of the heart. And when I was dating several different men last year, she would often claim she needed a score card to keep track. But she always listened, and always had some insightful advice to offer.

Well, guess what, T-? Now that I have narrowed my own field down to one special guy (I smile just to think of him...always a good sign!)I need the score card for you!

Popular wisdom says that love and romance are for the young. Old age, we are told, is for memories and preparing to move on. Thank goodness my friend is wiser than popular wisdom!

Just weeks before her 70th birthday, this amazing woman spent over an hour tonight telling me about the new men in her life! She smiled, laughed, described and wondered. She enumerated their talents and even commented on one's especially nice buns in a pair of jeans he often wears. She radiated happiness as she talked about the possibility of a future with one or another.

Thank you, T- for showing me that love and affection and even excitement don't end at some arbitrary age. That there is no "manditory retirement" for matters of the heart. And that happy-ever-after love can come at absolutely any age.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Does anyone else see the dancers?

It's happened since I was a little girl. A new piece of music would come on -- it could be classical or jazz or a completely modern composition or a traditional piece like a Navajo flute melody. Usually just instrumental, although on a few occasions, they have had lyrics. And instantly, I am off in my own world.

In my head, I see the dance that goes with the music. The dancers, the steps, the costumes, the lighting, the stage, the setting, the props. It's all there, complete. And I "watch", tranported from wherever I happen to be at the moment into an internal world where the dancers perform to the music.

I never consciously choose the moves or the lighting or anything else about the dance. I am a spectator, delighting in the dance, watching as the music is translated into movement and light.

While I "watch", I can usually continue to do whatever it is I must, cook, do chores. It's difficult to converse while I watch, so I usually try to stop that. Most people understand if I say I am listening to the music, and are willing wait to talk until it ends. They never know what I am "seeing" as I listen.

So my question is: Does anyone else see the dancers?