Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Need some time near the water

Feeling the need to spend some time near the water. Now since I live in Florida, you'd think that wasn't a problem...but with my schedule, it's almost impossible.

But I need it. Some time to let the water's energy pour over me, sooth me, calm my stressed and frazzled mind.

Time to sit...alone...and listen and watch and absorb. I need some time near the water.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

When it's too painful to write

When you're not sure whether things you believed with all your heart and soul are true...

When the possibility of the things you always believed would be a part of your life might never happen...

When you've given your all to hope and to trying "one more time," only to have it fail yet again...

When you just can't think of anything except the things you had or thought you had, and can no longer imagine looking forward with real excitement for more than a day or two...

David sang out to G-d at times like these. I cannot even find the words for that.

Friday, 26 September 2008

They get 7 billion dollars and kids go to school hungry

I was trying to wrap my head around this Bail Out proposal thing. As far as I can tell, these are the same people who scream and yell about how the free market is the only way and regulation is tantamount to communism and will kill all our country stands for. BUT, when they screw up big time and everything falls apart, they want the taxpayers of this country to pony up a giant life preserver to the tune of seven BILLION dollars. Now. Today. Just hand over the check.

I was trying to imagine this from the viewpoint of one of our country's hungry families. One of the MILLIONS of hungry children.

"Mommy, I'm hungry."

"I'm so sorry honey, there's no food, and my minimum wage paycheck will just cover the rent. Maybe you'll be able to get one of the other kids at school to share their snack with you."

Mommy, how much breakfast would seven billion dollars buy? Would that be enough for milk and cereal? My tummy hurts."

There is no more to say.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Missing autumn

Right now in Central Pennsylvania, it's 68 degrees. The leaves will be starting to turn. Fireplaces will be lit tonight. Hot soup will be a meal of choice, as people come in from the suddenly crisp air. Autumn has arrived.

Today in Florida, it's 90 degrees. I will probably go swimming after work. A big chilled salad is the best idea for supper. Then maybe a late night walk on the beach.

I love Florida. It's home, it's where I grew up. But I also spent years living in other places. Places with autumn.

And today, I want autumn.

I want to experience that amazing feeling of coziness when you slip your arms into a soft sweatshirt jacket. I want to feel good when I pull warm socks from the dryer and put them on my feet. I want to go for a long walk on the Conewago Trail, in Bullfrog Valley Park or along a trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon and see the colors, my hand tucked snugly into my jacket pocket (or the hand of a special someone.)

I want to curl up in the big armchair in front of the fireplace, and lose myself in a good book. I want to sip hot apple cider, stirred with a cinnamon stick and munch on crisp Ginger Snaps.

It's time to visit autumn.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Are you a rock or a river?

The thoughts that were in my head when I awoke today, after yet another night of feeling "gone" and having a collection of vivid images in my head....

Which is stronger? Water or stone? Which is more powerful? Flexible and flowing, or rigid and stiff?

I sat there in bed and thought about it.

No matter how strong a stone stands, it cannot resist the flow of water. Water, which is constantly shifting and changing form, direction, speed, and shape will always dissolve the hard and fixed. Rules and absolutes are as stones. Heart, truth, spirit and openness are as water. In life the body is soft and flexible. In death, it is rigid. Even water itself...if it gets hard, it can be shattered. But as long as it stays soft, striking it cannot hurt it.

G-d is teaching us truth all around us. Water. Stone. Life. Death. Are we blind to not see the messages?

So I did a search, and after reading a few pages, I found this....

From the Tao

Chapter Seventy-Eight

Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this,
Yet no one puts it into practice.

I wish I was free to meditate today.

Your thoughts?

Friday, 12 September 2008

10 reasons for raising a vegetarian child

Ever since the moment I announced that I would be raising my children as vegetarians, I've gotten grief from other people. It would make them sick. They would be short. They would feel left out.

My youngest is now 10, and after all these years, it seems appropriate to finally list the 10 best reasons for raising vegetarian kids!

10) They will never fall into the Supersizing trap at McDonald's or Burger King.

9) You will never have to feed them that nasty grey paste they claim is meat baby food.

8) They will get sick less than their meat eating classmates. They will need less doctor visits and less antibiotics. But no one will admit is has anything to do with diet!

7) They will not be contributing to the destruction of the environment -- grazing destroys 9 times more land than growing produce, for 1/10 of the food produced.

6) They will be leaner than their meat eating peers, a significant benefit given the growing rate of childhood obesity.

5) The grocery bill will be lower...veggies cost less than meat

4) They will have less than one half the risk of diabetes or hypertension compared to lifetime meat eaters

3) They will have a 70% lower rate of cancer in their lifetime

2) They will not be exposed to dangerous growth hormones and bovine antibiotics.

1) And best of all, they will grow up respecting the gift of life and understanding how very precious that is. "It tastes good" will never strike them as a good enough reason to kill living beings.

Fire away!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Getting the Sabbath all wrong

I have friends from all kinds of religions who agree that the Sabbath is an amazing gift. A chance to escape from the daily grind and renew. In the Torah, Shabbat is mentioned twice:

In Exodus 20:11, after Fourth Commandment is first instituted, G-d explains, "because for six days, the L-rd made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and on the seventh day, he rested; therefore, the L-rd blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it." By resting on the seventh day and sanctifying it, we remember and acknowledge that G-d is the creator of heaven and earth and all living things. We also emulate the divine example, by refraining from work on the seventh day, as G-d did. If G-d's work can be set aside for a day of rest, how can we believe that our own work is too important to set aside temporarily?

In Deuteronomy 5:15, while Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments, he notes the second thing that we must remember on Shabbat: "remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the L-rd, your G-d brought you forth from there with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore the L-rd your G-d commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

Because Shabbat rest was mentioned in connection with the building of the Temple, the Rabbis concluded that anything one would have to do to build a temple is forbidden on Shabbat. They came up with 39 tasks or chores, and from that list, a host of other prohibitions based on the assumption that anything even remotely like anything on that list is also forbidden. And that's where the problem starts.

In the world in which the Temple was constructed, and in the world in which the Rabbis first derived the list of forbidden tasks, life was hard and physical. There was no such thing as a weekend or a 5 day work week. Every act, from cooking to treating the sick to traveling required real physical labor, either from a person or an animal or both.

Now jump forward a few thousand years, or even a few hundred. We travel with no physical effort from us or animals. We light up a room or cook a meal with a flick of a switch...no wood to gather, fires to start, or massive pots to carry. We can cook in seconds on a paper towel, or illuminate our homes with a single remote.

We work, but by and large, our work is conducted in offices and cubicles. We are a sedentary society, much to the concern of bathroom scales and doctors. We have moved from a world where physical labor 7 days a week was the norm, to one in which many people are lucky if they get 20 minutes of exercise a week.

Our work is constrained by rules...what we wear, whether we may use a telephone or chat with a friend, where we sit, how long we have to eat, and when, if it all, we may go outside during the workday. We live by the clock, arriving at leaving based on times set by someone other than ourselves. Our work is the work of sitting, thinking and rules.

Blessed Shabbat! A gift from G-d to free us from our work for one day out of seven.

Except by following the rules detailed for a different place and time and lifestyle by Rabbis who could not have envisioned the slavery of the cubicle, or the lack of physical activity we now endure, we completely miss the point!

Rest, real rest, and a separation from the workday week requires that we use our bodies. Get out of the walls which enclose us and run and swim and dance and walk in nature. Do the things our daily slavery prohibits like painting, writing poetry, creating a scrapbook or making music. Traveling with our families to museums and parks and the ocean to experience that blessed gift of freedom Shabbat was meant to be.

Thanking G-d for our world, for our freedoms, for one chance in seven to break free from uncomfortable clothes and clocks and go out and experience the world created for us.

In this world so far from that of ancient Israel or 19th century Europe, we need a new and realistic definition of work...and rest. We need Shabbat, as we always have. We just need it for different reasons.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Rules or spirit?

Is G-d really interested in the rules? Or are they just tools to get us to finally, completely notice the splendor of creation and life? Your thoughts?

Monday, 7 July 2008

But surely we all have a good reason to hate

The Jews hate the Arabs.

The Arabs hate the Jews.

The Christians hate the Muslims.

The Iraqis hate the Americans.

You don't have to go far to hear one of these, complete with a dozen good reasons, all of which come down to one thing....

They hate us so we hate them

Does anyone else see the craziness in that?

And the political powers that be fan the flames for their own gain. Insanity.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

You Had Me From Hello by Kenny Chesney

Once in awhile, a song comes along that gets it so perfectly right. You sit and listen, amazed, and wonder how this song could so completely capture the feelings in your heart. This is one of those songs.

For everyone out there who has or can remember that special someone who captured their heart from the first minute, I dedicate this song to you and that love.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

On rainy holidays and long weekends

I started looking forward to this weekend somewhere around March or April. A long weekend...a day off without using precious leave days. Picnics, fireworks and friends.

Last night was the big show. Fireworks were planned for every city and town around here, but I was going to see the show at the beach. All those bright and beautiful colors and lights over the water, a tropical breeze. Then two days of beach and sunshine. Perfect!

'cept I did not count on a downpour. And lightening. LOTS of lightening. So after months of waiting, the night passed without the beach. Without fireworks. But I discovered something...I am still having fun!

Yesterday in the afternoon, there was a picnic in the park with the outdoor club. Veggie burgers, gelato, volleyball( gotta work off the gelato somehow!). A couple of new friends. Then later, dinner with P., a woman I met on a recent diving trip with the same club. Today, an article on assignment completed and sent off. Then breakfast with T., then Project Downtown. A trip to the market for fruits and veggies. Now I'm heading to the mall with T. to walk with her and get her out of her apartment for awhile. Later, I am making myself a yummy dinner. A good book, maybe a movie. A chance to talk with D. An early night and some well deserved rest while it rains again.

Tomorrow, jazz or something else fun outdoors. More time to unwind. More writing. Some time with someone I can't wait to see.

It's funny how this weekend doesn't look at all like what I expected. But somehow, some way, it's all exactly right.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Instant recognition

There are moments in life when we recognize something immediately....

An opportunity
A danger sign
A new idea that will solve an old problem
A person we just met but already know
Home, in a place where we may have only just arrived

Where do they come from?

Some people call them insights...seeing inside, literally. It's as though we somehow pierce the outer shell and for an instant, see the essence.

Some call it inspiration...a word which means "breathed upon,", as in breathed upon by G-d. For that moment, we are graced with the divine gift of G-d's life-giving breath.

Sometimes our recognition gets buried under a mountain of expectations and old habits. The new and wonderful doesn't look like we expected, so we discard it and go on looking for what we thought truth (or beauty or love or home) SHOULD look like.

Sometimes we are so afraid of the intensity of this sudden breath or vision that we intellectualize it, analyze it. Kill it with living too much in our heads and not enough in our hearts.

And sometimes we just wait too long, thinking that such moments of grace can be put on hold until a more convenient time. Unattended, they vanish, so we convince ourselves that they were never really there in the first place.

Instead of all that, how wonderful it would be to live ALWAYS open to those moments. Always ready to receive that breath of the divine, that glimpse into the inner truth.

(Image from Soulbreath Pictures)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The road I never saw coming

Scott Peck wrote about the road less traveled.

But what about the road that just popped up out of the blue, no signs, no so many miles ahead, no welcome to.....just one minute I am one place, traveling along, and then WHAM, my life is headed down a whole different road. New scenery. New views. A new take on the whole journey.

I can't give details now. Suffice it to say, that a light went on, and when I looked around, I was not where I expected to be (all metaphorical, mind you. I am not lost!)

And what's weirder is that the place I soooooo wanted to be just a split second ago (okay, maybe a week or so ago), I now know I cannot be, do not want to be, and have no desire to go back. Lessons learned, moved on.

And now, excuse me while I am a virtual four year old and go off to play with the colorful and exciting possibilities that have just fallen into my life.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Back in Florida -- the Saga Part 3

Q., my new partner in airline adventures, asked if we could use it at the hotel. "Maybe" was the answer. We were tired and wanted to put down the carry on bags we'd been clasping for the past two hours (it's a little known fact that the longer luggage is carried, the heavier it actually becomes. Really. My once quite light bags were now about the weight of two loads of soggy laundry. Wet towels, maybe blankets. With an overweight cocker spaniel hidden inside. I swear!)

We decided to take our chances at the Sheraton.

We were told to go downstairs and look for the call area and call the Sheraton shuttle. Another trek across the airport, and no call area. But we did find a hotel reservation desk.

"We don't handle that." So the desk marked "Hotel reservation Desk" does NOT handle hotel reservations. I began looking around for John Clease or someone else from the Monty Python troupe. This was approaching the Ministry of Silly Walks in strangeness , for sure.

A man at another desk (one with no sign, so I guess he could handle a hotel reservation question) offered to call for us. "Which Sheraton? We had no idea...our pink papers said simply "Sheraton." He told us where to wait outside for the van. 10 minutes passed. 20 minutes. Finally a van marked Sheraton. We got on and rode over to the hotel. Went into the lobby, and up to the desk. The bags had at least doubled in weight since we boarded the shuttle.

"Wrong Sheraton", the woman told us.

Did you ever see the movie "The Out of Towners"? I was starting to feel very much like I was in an unintentional remake. My carry on was getting heavier by the second. By now it felt like bowling balls packed in bricks.

She called the van to wait and we re-boarded. The driver was very nice as he drove us to the other Sheraton. We checked in no problem. The vouchers would be honored, although nothing on their menu was under $10.00. We each left credit cards on file to cover the balances, and went up to our respective rooms, lugging bags that now clearly exceeded the weight limit for the elevator. Each.

30 minutes later we headed for the dining room. You have to love hotel dining room prices. A veggie burger was $15.00. A Cobb salad was $17.00. Poor captive travelers! But the food was very good...thank you Sheraton! We talked and ate, and made plans to meet at 5 a.m. to return to the airport for our 7 am flight.

The morning went smoothly. Van ride, airport security, a nice flight. The carry on bags had returned to their starting weight. I was feeling really good. We went to brunch in Miami Beach, near Q's home. A perfect return home. All is well, I thought.

Then I went back to my car. My cute Suzuki...or rather my ONCE cute Suzuki, because now the drivers side door and back door were smashed in! A kind passer by told me a recycling truck had hit my car...twice! Then left!

The next hour was spent completing a police report, gathering info from the witness and looking at my mushed car doors. And wondering if the universe was telling me to go back to PA.

Back in Florida --- the Saga, Part 2

The other person bumped from the flight was an acupuncturist, herbalist and painter. Not a bad match for a writer/vegetarian! She and I were sent in search of Bradley, an otherwise unidentified 6'6" man who "should be at the ticket desk" for our reservations and transportation arrangements.

At the ticket desk, there were no 6'6" men in sight. We asked another counter clerk, and were told he would see if he could find him, but he "would not search the whole airport." Hmmmm. A man clearly not in full grasp of the concept of customer service! About 10 minutes later, he returned. "He'll be out in about 20 minutes."

We waited. Other people waited from other presumably overbooked flights. Finally Bradley appeared. He took our paperwork and vanished. Another 20 minutes passed. He returned with several sheets. "Here are your reservations for the Sheraton. Here is your dinner voucher. $10.00. Good IN the airport."

Now, my dear readers, have you ever eaten dinner IN an airport? Has it ever in the past several years cost you $10 or less? Not to mention that we were to go to a hotel...now. It was already almost 6 pm. And we were OUTSIDE of the security gates, while most of the restaurants were INSIDE of the security gate! The prospects for dinner on the airline's dime were looking dim.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Back in Florida....The Saga, Part 1

Thursday afternoon, I left Central PA to return to BWI and Florida. It was an emotional departure, so I allowed myself plenty of time to make the drive. Stopped in Timonium, MD to fill up the SUV with gas (this HUGE silver Chevy Trail Blazer (pictured here with my sweet daughter) got an unbelievable 21+ MPG...way to go Chevy! I was serious impressed!), Had a cup of tea at Starbucks. Wandered around Borders a bit. Bought a book and some postcards, then headed for BWI.

All went smoothly...car drop off, security (what a waste of time and money that is!), and then to my gate.

Suddenly, the announcement. "We are overbooked." 30 minutes later, two free round trip tickets and a voucher for hotel and dinner in my hand, I was walking back down the concourse. I would not be leaving Baltimore today.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Blogging from BlogPotomac

As I write this, I am sitting in the first session of BlogPotomac in Falls Church, VA, just outside of D.C., one of my favourite areas of the country.

A room full of people like me who live online much of their day (and night.) A dim room, with the glow of a laptop in front of every person. A WiFi connection just for this event. Everyone connected. Great information, amazing energy, and a wonderful chance to learn from other corporate and personal bloggers.

My happy place.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Going back to the Susquhanna

Tomorrow night, I leave for a trip to Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, with a stop in Baltimore for book shopping somewhere along the way.

It's my first visit back to PA. in almost a year. I'll be playing with my kids (we've planned hiking, a picnic, and a trip to the Boyd's Bears teddy bear factory, scrapbooking with my friend Susan, and eating breakfast at another friend's restaurant.

There's even a morning at Roots, the huge farmer's market where I used to go every Tuesday to buy way too many fresh veggies and fruits (ask my kids about apple butter season! But oh, the house smelled soooooo good!) Lunch with Chastity. A visit with some old neighbors whose son will be coming down here to college in the fall. And LOTS of photos. LOTS.

But there is also one pilgrimage to make...to the Susquehanna River. To stand by that water on a sunny day, remembering all the stormy, cold winter days when its icy beauty was a much needed source of strength as I struggled to leave a bad situation.

I wrote about my Susquehanna memories a few months ago. Now the day to make that return visit is almost upon me.

There is so much new in my life. And, G-d willing, even more new-and-wonderful just over the horizon. But a few minutes spent looking backwards, in gratitude, seems like the right thing to do.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Sometimes the thing you think you're going to hate....

My very favourite instrument is the cello...it is haunting, sad, soulful.

So when I was invited to a cello concert in Ft Lauderdale, I was thrilled. When I found out it was cello and sitar, I was confused. How could those two sound good together...so different in tone and pitch. I wondered how they could possibly tune a sitar to compliment a cello.

When I found out that the cello was the one that had been altered, I almost didn't go. That sound that is perfect -- ALTERED??? How could they????????

But I went. And for three hours, I was entranced, Completely taken away. The haunting beauty of the cello remained, with the addition of an exotic overtone from the sympathetic 12 strings added to it. The sitar's sound wrapped around and under and through the cello's notes. I visualized color and design as I listened...great swirls and poignant dots of color.

And yet I almost did not go. I almost missed that magic because of the difference between the two instruments.

How many times in life do we say no to something because it's different...because it seems that it will alter that which we know and love? Or perhaps even alter us? I know I have been guilty of that. I almost was last night. And look what i would have missed.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A city taken for G-d

I read a post on Losing my Religion about envisioning a city "taken for God". I was inspired! What would that entail? Here is my response...and thank you Jeff for the inspiration!!

A city "taken for G-d"?

First of all, it would be a place where it is finally understood that G-d is too large, to wonderful, too "other and beyond our simple imaginations" to fit within any one religion. It would be a place of peace, of open-minded inquiry, a place where human laws and rules would be unnecessary because people would be living in submission to G-d directly.

It would be a city of beauty, where art and music and dance flourish, and our minds are finally free from the stress of survival and able to explore all the vast potential we've been endowed with. Science, philosophy, mathematics, and literature would grow and evolve at a pace unimaginable in our work-based world.

Children and old people alike would be cherished and cared for by all. Families would be the prime concern, rather than corporations or profit. Labels like ethnicity and religion would be at most ways to joyfully describe the incredible diversity of G-d's creation. There would be no attempts to "convert" or "proselytize" anyone, because we would live in wisdom and see that there many paths to the mountain top.

Gender and all that comes with it would be honored and respected as two parts of a whole. Male and female, female and male. Equal, certainly. But different. Thankfully. Neither would be seen as superior -- just uniquely fashioned for their role in creating and sustaining life.

Housing would be life-affirming...open to air and sunshine and breezes and star-lit nights. Food would be chosen so as to do no harm...no being would have to die to lie on our tables or feed our appetites. Energy would come from the earth without ravaging it...solar, wind, hydrogen. Silent and free. We would share our gifts, some as healers, some as teachers, some as makers of things, some as fixers ...but no one would have to spend most of their days or hours doing a job ill-suited to their God-given talents and interests.

Clothing would be beautiful, soft, comfortable. The concept of in-fashion or out-of-fashion would fall away, along with unhealthy shoes, underwire bras, neckties, and skin tight jeans. Medical care would focus first on encouraging health and preventing disease. It would see the whole person, and not just one organ or one problem. All kinds of medicine would be welcome...the wisdom of Asia, the useful technology of the West, the gentle healing of Ayurveda...and no profit would be taken from sickness.

Visitors would be welcome, and residents would often travel in order to gather more wisdom and bring it back to the city.

And talking about G-d and spiritual matters in public would be no longer considered "in bad taste"!

Ah, that such a city could exist! Thank you for the dream!!

What do our dreams mean?

Last night I dreamed that a friend of mine was dying. It was an ironic choice, because for as long as I have known her, both of her parents have been serious ill. One would be tempted to say terminal, if you didn't know the full story.

Her mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer a couple of years ago. It has not budged, nor has she. And this in addition to a host of other serious, even life threatening illnesses. And yet she's still living...at home...on her own. Working via the computer, even. She is, I think, in her 70's. (I tend to lose track of ages.)

My friend's dad has been in and out of the hospital with congestive heart failure. Pneumonia. Other serious issues. But he is also still hanging in there.

And yet I dreamed, not that her parents had died, but that she was on the verge of dying. What is the message there? And where did it come from?

Are dreams just our tired brain's way of entertaining itself when there is no real external input? A tape running, based on events of the previous day? Or are they messages?

If so, from where? From our own subconscious mind? from G-d? From angels or spirit guides? From the universal energy? Or are they communications from other people?

I would love to know what you think and why. I will post more about my thoughts tomorrow.

Monday, 19 May 2008

A lost MEME page!

Ok...I was surfing among the sites is often visit and found this MEME. I copied it over, planning to add their contact info and post my link on theirs. But then the web went down, and I cannot remember where I found this! If it's from you, dear reader, Please let me know! And sorry!

First the Rules: The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Ready, set, go!

10 years ago: I was getting to know my new baby daughter

5 things on"to do" list for today
  • Go to the bank
  • Pray for guidance on this travel issue where my ex- wants to have my 10 year old fly alone on a three hours flight (she is terrified and does NOT want to do it), but balks at paying the unaccompanied minor fee so someone will actually watch her.
  • Get the projects on my desk completed
  • Deal with a school issue for my daughter
  • Try to maintain a sense of perspective on so many things ..this too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass...

Things I would do if I was a Billionaire

  • Invest well enough to ensure that the money would never run out
  • Pay off all the debts and obligations for my family and friends
  • Make one dream come true for each of them
  • Start a newspaper and radio station that would never take an ad so they could ALWAYS tell the truth about what's REALLY happening in the country (take that, Mr. Bush and friends!)
  • Take over all the schools in one really poor city and make them into centers of learning and experience instead of classrooms where people talk at them. Homeschool reality meets EVERYONE!!!!!
  • Help people as I meet them...the waitress working two jobs to support her child, the single dad with the car that just died, the elderly person trapped in a one room apartment with no money to go out and live....to each, hopefully, the thing(s) they need to have a joyous life
  • DO all of the above anonymously
  • Get a nice house in a nice neighborhood with great families and live a normal life

3 bad habits

  • Not trusting my instincts as soon as someone I care about questions them
  • Not exercising enough
  • Believing people even after they've shown they cannot be trusted

5 places I've lived

  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Provo, Utah
  • West Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Cooper City, Florida
  • Hershey, Pennsylvania

5 jobs I've had

  • Children's photographer
  • Writer
  • Social services administrator
  • Tennis coach
  • ER assistant

People I'm tagging
If you haven't been tagged, and would like to play, consider yourself tagged.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Praying for money...allowed or not?

I was taught by my Rabbi years ago that G-d is not an ATM machine. We were not, he said, to pray for money, toys, cars, and other "things", but rather for wisdom, understanding, etc.

I have carried that belief with me till this day. That doesn't mean I have never silently uttered a plea for a check to clear, or a client to pay their bill. But to sit down, or kneel down, or stand or prostrate oneself and pray for money....


Could not.

To me, the consequences would be too awful. I guess I pictured a kind of Fantasy Island result. You get exactly what you asked for, but it happens in some terrible way. You win the lottery and lose the love of your life. You get the dream job, and a terminal diagnosis in the same day.

So what do you think? Is is still spiritual to pray for abundance? Or is it an invitation for loss? I'd like you hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Finding faith -- a how-to guide

(Yes, the images are Christian, but the message in the words and music is universal)

Yesterday, someone asked me how they could find faith in G-d. My answer --- my honest answer -- was I don't know. They seemed a bit annoyed at that answer. I explained that I could not remember a time before faith, so I did not know how one went about acquiring it. This too annoyed him.
"Don't you know anyone who has found faith? Can't you tell me how they did it?"

I thought about it for a moment, and said I did know such people, but their path to G-d and faith was a varied as they were. Some how found faith through intense study, some through retreat, meditation and prayer, some through crisis or loss, some through a blinding moment of clarity. One or two by acting as though they had faith, and finding it through ritual or interaction. Some found faith with the help of another or a group, some alone. There simply was no step by step answer. I don't know was the best I could do.

I have a feelings that for many, it's a two step process. They decide they want to have faith or wish they had faith, and they seek out evidence or experience to help them along their quest.

I wish I could answer this man. He is a good man...one of the kindest people I know. And yet, he has no faith in G-d. I would sincerely love to bring him that gift. I don't know seems like a bad answer, even to me. I just don't know any other one.

Is there a reader who can help? Can you share your stories?

Information about Meghan's Scholarships

A few of you who read Meghan's story here have asked about the scholarships set up in Meghan's name. Here is the information:

Meghan Freas Memorial Scholastic Fund,
c/o Camp Hill High School
1100 South 24th Street,
Camp Hill, PA. 17011


Harrisburg Area Community College Foundation for the Meghan Freas Scholarship Fund
One HACC Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17110.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Friday Fill-In Questions....Just a wee bit late!

Found this on Friday Fill-ins! What a great idea! It says Friday, I know, but I am going to start now! What would your answers be to this....go to the site for a blank copy to add to the comments or your blog. If you do it on yours, give your URL to me in a comment so I can read them!

She wrote:
Questions courtesy of Julie this week; if you'd like to leave some for future use, I'd love it!

1. The cake had an extra secret ingredient; it was violets!
2. Send some sunshine through my window.
3. Right now, I need some time to sit at a sidewalk cafe in Paris.
4. Home is where I went Thursday night; it was cozy.
5. Why does lonliness hurt so much?
6. All I can think of is the way I'll feel when I finally get to relax tonight.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on stuff at home, tomorrow my plans include taking a long walk and Sunday, I want to read The New York Times cover to cover

Monday, 12 May 2008

Mother's Day on a Boat!

The sunshine, a 19' power boat, the warmth, the water, a yummy picnic, and two of my three kids with me. What an awesome Mother's Day!

What was your day like?

Friday, 9 May 2008

Mother's Day Ideas

Ideas first, story second....

For those who want a way to celebrate your moms, or the mother of your children, or any other special mom in your life, here are some inexpensive Mother's Day ideas for for my favorite kind of Mother's Day! They are last minute Mother's Day ideas, yes. But they are also thoughtful ideas your mom will love.

  • A picnic near the water, in a wooded setting, in the park, or just in your own backyard. Homemade sandwiches. juice, cupcakes and fruit. Stuff kids can prepare if you have little kids. Even if you don't, a simple meal so the focus is on mom instead of a gourmet feast

  • Homemade cards. Doesn't matter how young or old, we can all MAKE a heartfelt card for mom. Beats Hallmark hands down!

  • A small sentimental gift. Forget the big stuff. If you're buying a gift, make it something she can see/touch/look at every day. A silver heart necklace. An I love you key ring. A teddy bear with a bow around its neck for each child (or grandchild...or both!) A framed photo YOU took (not a studio!)

  • Time. this is something no mom has enough of. Give her time to do what she loves without grumbling about where you'd rather be. Time for a bubble bath, scrapbooking, a long walk, browsing at an art gallery or museum, or sitting at a cafe reading a new book in her favourite genre.

  • Help at home. What mom wouldn't like to have a day (or a week) where the kitchen is cleaned or the laundry is done, or the carpet is vacuumed by someone else in the family.

  • A collage. Find pictures in magazines or ads that show how you feel about your mom. Make it big or small. Frame it or just give it to her to hang on the fridge. If you want to use family photos in it, make color copies and use those instead of originals.

  • A website or blog. Give your mom her very on space in cyberspace. If your mom is new to the web, choose a simple type and post site like Blogger or Wordpress. Set it up. Add some of her favourite photos, or create it in her favourite colors. Just be sure to be on hand to help her learn how to use it.

  • A day in the life scrapbook page. Moms are busy people! Let her know you appreciate everything she does by creating a day-in-the-life scrapbook page. Take photos of all she does in a day. Or if it's too late for that, take pictures of things she uses every day, places she goes every day, and describe her daily routine. You can give it to her for her scrapbook, or buy an inexpensive 12 x 12 frame at any craft store. Either way, she'll love the fact that you notice all she does.

Now for my story....

When I was growing up, Mother's Day was a spend-a-thon. My dad would take us out, and we would buy perfume and jewelry and clothes and fancy cards and all sorts of things for mom. Ironically, she was never happy with any of it. Our best efforts never seemed to be enough. At the time, it made me very sad. Now, looking back, it just makes me sad for her. She missed a lot.

It's different for my kids and me. From the time they were able to pour a bowl of cereal, we have started Mother's day with a homemade breakfast in bed. A tray decorated with homemade cards. And since preschool, gifts they made themselves. Actually, a few times, we've gone out to eat, but there are still the handmade cards and gifts. I love Mother's Day. I love this chance to celebrate my beautiful children who made me a mom. I love their cards and messages, their love and caring.

My mom wasn't the homemade cards and gifts kind of lady. But even with the kind of gifts she loved, she was never happy with her Mother's Day. She'll never know how much she missed.

To all of you moms -- happy Mother's Day. And to you kids of all ages, GET BUSY!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

To the person who hit Meghan and caused the accident

You know who you are. You know what you need to do.

It was probably an accident. Maybe you weren't being reckless...just doing the things we all do everyday while we drive. And then suddenly...things are out of control.

You ran. You were scared.

But it's time to come forward. Meghan's memory deserves that. Her family deserves that.

Maybe you have kids of your own. Can you imagine the pain you would feel if this happened to your child and the person responsible ran? Maybe you are still scared.

But two people have died. Two families are hurting. An 18 year old girl will never again chat with her friends, or hug her parents, or take a drive on a rainy Pennsylvania spring day.

It's time.


Bring her grieving family some degree of peace. Tell your story.



Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Do it now!

The one thing everyone has said about Meghan was that she lived -- REALLY lived -- every moment of her life. We can honor her memory by contributing to one of the scholarship funds that have been set up in her name, and I hope everyone will.

But even more so, I hope we will all honor her memory by following her example and the example of extraordinary people like her.

  • If there is someone you love, tell them now. Right now. And then tell them again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

  • If there is a chance to laugh and really enjoy the moment, laugh. Share your laughter and joy with everyone around you, especially those who look least likely to laugh.

  • Don't worry about looking silly, or trying to maintain your dignity. Once you've gone, your dignity will be long forgotten. Your willingness to put yourself out there and be yourself will be what people remember.

  • Smile. Really, and truly smile. At your friends, at your family, at the world and above all, at the camera. So what if you think your hair is messy or your makeup is wrong. Someday those photos may become treasures. Make them happy.

I would like to ask those of you who knew Meghan far better than I to add to that list. What lessons did she teach you that we should all learn? What will you take from her far-too-brief life, and carry forward in your own lives?

What is the very best lesson anyone who has gone Home has left with you?

Feel free to post it here, or own your own blogs and web pages. Share it at her Memorial service if you're able to go. Make it happen in your life.

I will start the list:

My Great-Aunts, Eva, Helen, Ruth and Blanche, taught me that life is a grand adventure. This may be the only one, or there may be more. But even if we get another time around, it won't be the same as THIS time. So go for it, girl!

Your turn....

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Meghan has gone Home

Meghan Brittany Freas passed away at 10:20 pm last night. Please pray for her family.

And to the driver who caused this horrible tragedy, and the loss of two precious lives, COME FORWARD NOW!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Update on Meghan and need for ongoing prayers

Meghan is a fighter. My son says it's because she's a true redhead...stubborn, determined and willing to go the distance. I don't know if that's the reason, but whatever it is, its good. She is hanging in there, against all odds, but is having a rough time.

They are still unable to do any surgeries because of intra cranial pressure issues, and now problems with her blood oxygen levels. Her compound fractures have not yet been repaired because anesthesia is too risky still. That means she will be facing extensive surgeries once she is well enough for those to be addressed.

She is a wonderful young lady....please keep up the prayers...they are ALL helping!

The paramedics said she should not have survived the crash in her little Civic. She's made it a week today. Miracles.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Pray for Meghan

Meghan Freas, age 18, was in a serious head-on car accident a few days ago in York, Pennsylvania. She is not doing well. Please pray for her, in whatever tradition you follow. Please ask your friends and family and churches and mosques and temples to pray for her.

She is a friend of my son's and a very sweet girl.

UPDATE: It has been determined that Meghan's car was hit and pushed into the guard rail. Please pray that the person responsible will have the courage to come forward.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

One hand loves, one hand hates

Last week, I went to a meeting of Jews, Muslims, Christians and others at the local Islamic Center. The attire ranged from hijabs and robes to tank tops and jeans. The youngest was, I think my daughter, age 10. The eldest was probably well into her 80's, maybe 90's. This group of about 100 or so people represented countries around the globe.

The one thing we shared? A desire to learn, to come together, to understand our neighbors and ourselves. To dispel the fear that comes from misinformation, stereotypes and media-fed hysteria.

For three hours, we sat there and talked. At the direction of the leader, each table was mixed to represent a good cross section of the religions and ethnicities present. Also at her direction, we discussed our backgrounds, our spiritual journey, our beliefs. We mulled over similarities and differences -- and found the similarities to be a MUCH longer list. We ate sweet pastries, and talked some more. At the end of the evening, each table sent a representative to the front to summarize what we had found.

It was a wonderful inspiring experience. And just the beginning. Our next meeting will be at a synagogue, where the learning and dialog will continue.

The very next day, I opened my e-mail to find a forward from my uncle. A former federal agent, now retired. It was a top to bottom diatribe of hatred against Muslims. A no-holds barred rage that "they" would dare to be in "our" country. He had not written it, but he had forwarded it. This particular uncle has forwarded hateful e-mails to me before and I have privately asked, each time, that I be left off his list. But he has not stopped.

Among my very religiously mixed family, this uncle happens to be Christian. Practicing. So I responded to him (and everyone on his sent-to list) with a message suggesting love and understanding as the only truly brave answer to such an e-mail. I then proposed that instead of forwarding messages of hatred, which of course only increases hatred and violence, perhaps he would consider forwarding a quote from the Christian Bible....


"Ye have heard that it hath been said, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.' "But I say unto you, 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and them which despitefully use you, persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.' For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do no even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

That, I wrote, would be a true act of bravery in the face of hateful messages.

The response from my family was ANGER! My answer was labeled "uncalled for" and "inappropriate" They were enraged at me. I was told to "Read a little about the Koran....and don't live in a shell."

I am saddened. Stunned. The contrast between the meeting and the message is too great.

I cannot remain silent in the face of hatred and distorted half-truths. But must I lose my family to stand up for what I know to be right? Does anyone have a suggestion?

Monday, 28 April 2008

International Day for Sharing Life Stories - May 16, 2008

We all "know" our neighbors...we know their names, probably their kids' names, their occupation, and maybe even their taste in food if we've shared a dinner or two. But do we know their stories?

And how about the checkout clerk at the grocery store? The veterinarian who treats our pets, or the person we pass every day as we both leave for work from the same community? Do we know their stories? And how might our view of them change if we did?

I received an e-mail today that has me thinking...and hoping that there is a way to learn about people's stories. May 16th has been declared the International Day for Sharing Life Stories 2008

It's about building bridges and making connections. Seeing the people we "see" everyday as whole people instead of their roles. Healing wounds, clearing up misundertandings and learning new ideas.

Won't you join me? I know on blogs we do sometimes share our stories, but what about all those people who don't blog? Or whose blog we have never seen? I would love to hear their stories! Let me know if you participate, and what happens when you do. That is another story I am anxious to hear!

Monday, 21 April 2008

So where does a non-Christian minister belong?

I am a Jew.

I am seriously drawn to Islam.

And I am an ordained non-denominational minister.

Who wants to be a minister. In practice.

No, let me correct that, not "who wants". Who feels incredibly drawn towards being a minister. I identify completely with the books I read about people who have felt and acted upon that kind of calling. I am fascinated in conversation with clerics of all faiths. I am drawn, irresistibly to the preaching, visiting the sick, performing life cycle events. Serving G-d in a very specific way.

But I have no interest in Christianity. Just G-d. The ONE.

So where do I go with this?

A spiritual conundrum...

Friday, 11 April 2008

Dorothy Parker style love poem

Hurry, hurry, I have no time for you

Tell me your concerns, my love
But do it fast, get through.
The time is quickly passing
And I’ve better things to do.

Just list the facts and nothing more
Your pain, your hopes, your fear.
Your overwhelming feelings too
But make it quick, my dear.

I called you now, should be enough
Never mind the stress
Just spit it out, then let me go
No touching, no caress

You’ll cry alone? Not my concern.
I’ve called – that’s what’s the key
Now just hang up, this call is done
The rest is up to me.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Quote for the day....

We’ve been trained to think in [boxes] where we should be trained to think in open spaces.

Many people dream in open spaces, but they are only dreams. Unfortunately it’s very rare for someone to act in open spaces. It’s even rarer (un-ubiquitious) for someone to perpetually live in open spaces. What an amazing world it would be if we did.

from Entrepreneurs-Journey.com

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Golden Rule - Not!

Do unto others as you would have the do unto you....

That which is hateful to you, do not do to others...

Two versions of the same rule. We've been taught since infancy that the Golden Rule is the way to go. But what if it's wrong? What if, instead of a great way to treat others, what we've been doing all along is feeding our own selfish needs???

I can hear it now...

What??? The Golden Rule BAD? Selfish? Are you crazy?????

I don't think so. I read something yesterday that made me totally shift my thinking on this....hear me out.

What if we said:

I will stop treating people the way that I want to be treated, and will instead treat them the way that they want to be treated.

It's based in part on the work of management guru Peter Drucker, but the idea has root in ideas put forth by Emil Durkheim and others.

Simply put, the Golden Rule is selfish. It assumes that the greatest good I can do for you is to treat you according to my own needs, desires, wants and construct.

If I like it, you will too. End of thoughts.

But what if I DON'T like it? What if YOUR needs and wants are not only different than mine, but contrary to mine? How is it a virtue to continue to treat you in a way you find annoying, meaningless or perhaps even offensive?

If I like ice cream, and you are lactose intolerant and diabetic, is it a virtue to give you ice cream for dessert. After all, I am giving you what I would like to be given -- Golden Rule in action. Yet, clearly it would be selfish -- possibly even dangerous.

The same can be said for methods of communication, types of instruction, and other personal means of interaction.

If instead I treat you as YOU wish to be treated, I am putting aside my preferences, and treating you in the way you prefer. Empathy in action!

And for those who would say "What if I find your needs offensive or outside of my values? Does this mean I need to be a doormat?" The answer is simple, and it's not to violate everything you believe in!

First, try to compromise and collaborate. Respect the differences. See if there is a better third way for both of you. (As in Stephen Covey's Win-Win scenerio)

If a compromise is not possible, (and that would be the logical first step!) and the needs of the other are really too awful and disturbing to respect, the relationship might need to be respectfully terminated or at least curtailed.

This does not mean that every one who sees the world differently needs to be excluded from our lives. There is much value in learning from others, and adapting our own perhaps rigid stances to include respect for other styles and needs. It's a means for growth and expansion, especially if it's mutual. In most cases, a person could learn to treat a loved one or a valued colleague according to THAT person's needs without compromising dearly held values.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Susquehanna Memories

It's been two years this month since I moved from South Central PA back to my home state of Florida. Two years ago, on April 17th, I filled the tank on my overstuffed Forenza, and my two girls and I headed south, out of Elizabethtown. We drove along the Susquehanna River one last time, and bade farewell to what had been home for nearly a decade.

A few months ago, I came across a song called Susquehanna, by a UK artist named Maddie Southorn, and I was entranced. Although her song was about a ride from Washington D.C. and through Baltimore, both frequent haunts of mine during my PA days, she captured the feeling of winter and the river...and bittersweet love... completely.
It brought back memories...good and sad more clearly than anything I had heard.

As I listened, I was once again driving along Front Street in Harrisburg. It's winter, and the river and sky are a nearly identical pewter grey. The trees are bare, and the road is edged with piles of brownish -black snow and ice pushed there by the early morning plows.

I was often alone on those drives, heading back from some real or made-up errand into the city and away from my isolated rural farmhouse. A few brave souls ran along the river's edge. Bundled up figures walking dogs hurried along, clearly anxious to finish the task at hand and return to cozy apartments.

Those days were bittersweet, because money was short, and my return home was all too often greeted by a heater empty of oil, and yet new doors seemed to be opening with a budding career and a love that held every promise of lasting forever. My children were growing and learning, but my eldest daughter was battling the often crippling pain of Juvenile Arthritis. It was a time of transition.

That river, with its icy waters and steely color reflected my sadness. Memories of the same river in soft, green spring, or hot shimmery summer gave me something to hold on to. And like the line in the song, I often longed for some one or something to "carry me away."

Oh, Susquehanna,
Susquehanna River.

Carry me
Carry me away...
from here

Long before I heard that song, the river heard me.

It was the element of Pennsylvania to which I said good-bye.

Now that my life is so different, and I live beneath palm trees, I miss that river...the same one I said good-bye to....I miss some of the dreams I had then. I miss my youngest daughter's baby years, spent together walking and playing in the parks along the river. I miss my synagogue, right there on Front Street, where the wind off the river so often chased us from car to doors in record time, and then into the cozy brightness of the sanctuary. I miss the art festivals and concerts. I miss dear friends, and those special people I just started to know when I left.

But it was time to go.

I'll be visiting Pennsylvania this summer. And while I'm there, I'll pay a visit to my river. It probably won't be grey and cold that day. But I'll remember that feeling...and the river that finally, thankfully, carried me away.

Friday, 4 April 2008

The joy of toilet paper

Have you ever been in a public restroom stall and you reach for the toilet paper, only to find that:

  • The dispenser is about 12 inches from the ground, so you have to lean way forward and bend your arm and wrist in a completely unnatural way to try and grasp the paper?

  • The paper is in the dispenser or on the roll so tightly that you can only pull off tiny slivers about the size of a quarter -- so you try, vainly, to gather enough quarter sized pieces to use

  • The paper in in one of those round, multi-pegged holders, and the one facing down is empty but you can't get the handle thingy to turn so you can get a fresh roll within reach

  • The new roll has NO beginning, so you have to start digging at it with your finger nails to try and get it started but instead it just ends up looking like the cat was using it for a scratching post and you're left with a handful of scraps

How can one common and essential product be packaged in so many ways to make it darned near impossible to use? And why would they do this? The number of toilet paper dispensers I've seen ripped off of public restroom walls tells me that any cost savings anticipated is MORE than offset by the cost of replacing those annoying holders.

Why would anyone want to make such a basic necessity so tough to use? Are there people sitting around in an office somewhere trying to come up with new ways to wind toilet paper tighter, or lower the dispenser so far that we would have to lie on the filthy floor to reach inside?

Tell me...do people REALLY want customers walking around in their stores, and employees walking a round in their offices ...well, ummm...unwiped????

Your thoughts please!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Live life -- don't read about it!

I just read Beth Shea's Put Down the Self Help Books blog post, and I am so going to blog about this!!!

I know sweet and wonderful men and women who have an awful addiction. In their search for the answers to all the questions in life, they become addicted to self-help books, groups and techniques. I'm not talking about reading a couple of books to get through a rough patch, or find some ideas for what to do next. I am talking about years and dozens, maybe hundreds of books.

He might be a great guy. She might be an amazing woman. Gentle. Kind. Intelligent. Funny. Caring. And clearly often in very real pain, as they look back on a less-than-ideal-childhood, and failed relationships as an adult.

So they read. Everything. Or rather, everything self-help. Fiction, science, philosophy, art, all fall aside to make room for the "Why am I this way books." They go to workshops and seminars, always in search of "THE ANSWER" to explain away their very real pain, and find a magic tool for blissful freedom.

The problem is, there is no such magic tool. The other problem is, they really seem to think there is.

It's easy to get sucked into that vortex of victimization. "It's not my fault. I deserved better." And to some extent it's quite true. No one deserves a cruddy childhood or a lonely life. Even so, LOTS of us get them. Is that a reason spend the latter half of one's life engrossed in trying to pinpoint the pain the first half?

Some would probably call it denial. I would call it realizing that no matter how many books I read, or seminars I attend, my childhood is not going to change. It's too late. It's over. Done. past. It is not happening any more. I grew up.

So I can choose to wallow in the past where I was not treated as well as I deserved (yup, I am one of the many!) or I can say "Whew! Sure glad that's over!" and move on.

The former might feel good for awhile. Clear myself of blame. Make my mistakes someone else's fault (and I guess their mistakes someone else's too, and so on back through time.) It's easier than getting up and doing. It might feel safe.

But the getting up and doing is so much more fun and exciting! Scarier. Harder. But infinitely more satisfying. And creative.

I do wish they were not in pain, because I'm sure most of them are very special, wonderful people.

But most of all, from my heart, I wish I could grab their hands and lead them outside and say "Look up! Look around! See the blue sky and the palm trees and maybe even someone who loves you! This is NOT your childhood. Throw away that map, and tear up the address labels, because honey, you don't live there any more."

Thursday, 27 March 2008

linger...from Persisting Stars

...I love to linger in a cafe sipping chai with my friend Kate. In my favorite bookshop while peeking at everyone else's choices of reading enchantment. I love to linger on the trails with my dog and the sun dappled paths. Shop windows with striped, polkadot and paisley materials...

I read this post today...linger... from the blog Persisting Stars....lingering...savouring...relishing....

All things I don't do enough....

I've felt the lack so sharply lately, as I rush between jobs and my kids. My 20 minutes sitting outside at Panera or Starbucks on my lunch, under the beautiful spring sky here in Florida, good book at hand, is never quite enough.

There is always that sense of deadline and due dates and appointments....

I need to linger more....

So in the spirit of Madelyn's inspiring post, here is my list of lingering I want (and so need) to do....

I need to.....

...linger on the beach as the sun rises, and illuminates the ocean with pinks and yellows and reds my camera can never quite capture, but my heart sees completely

...linger at a sidewalk cafe, with tea and a good book, a drawing pad and my pens

...linger in green places in nature, where I can walk or sit. Listen. Feel. Be.

...linger in used bookstores and old bookstores, letting my eyes and my fingers have equal say in the books I choose

...linger over my artwork, giving myself the time and patience and space to arrange and rearrange and re-create

...linger in prayer, stepping beyond the forms and words prescribed and praying with images and ideas and a full heart

...linger in bed on weekend mornings, enjoying the sounds from the woods and the color of the sunlight through the trees

...linger with my children, creating precious unhurried puddles of time when we don't have to be anywhere or accomplish anything

...linger in beautiful places, where I am suddenly entranced, instead of filing it away under the "someday I'll come back here when I have more time" category

...linger with my soulmate, allowing us time to be together in silence without feeling that we need to check activities off an agenda

So where do you linger? And perhaps more importantly, where do you need to linger?

Friday, 21 March 2008

Music and creativity

From an article that landed in my inbox....

Similarly, whenever I hear a radio station urging listeners at work to call in, I wonder: Do employees really think that their productivity, error rate, and performance are not affected if they are paying that much attention to something else? Or do they just not care?

Music has less impact than talk, though I’m not as productive with music on, unless the activity is pretty routine. (Leaf raking appears to be just about as efficient. The bike rack was past my limit.) Nevertheless, I’ll concede that some people may not be less productive when listening to music. Computer programmers, as a class, seem to believe, almost as a matter of “religion,” that music is required for productivity. I’ve worked with any number of them who are “devout” listeners and productive—so I’ll defer, reluctantly.

Ok, I’m the boss, and the owner of the company, so there is more in it for me. But is it really that extreme to expect people to pay attention when we’re paying them for their time? My e-pinion is that “serious” workers don’t have talk and music on. To be sure, some jobs are so mindless that productivity isn’t affected. Or are there such jobs?

-- Bob Brady, BLR CEO

Music and work.

For me they are inextricably linked. My work suffers when I try to toil in silence. My focus is off. I get distracted. I wander away mentally, and sometime physically. But according to the quote above from Bob Brady, CEO of BLR, the fact that HE is not as productive when music is playing means that he and I and every other worker on the planet ought not listen to music while working. Pretty powerful in his own mind, this Mr. Brady NOT of the blended-family-with-six-kids-three-of-them-with-hair-of-gold-

This man, who admits he works better without music on, believes he should decide for the rest of us. Even in the face of evidence, from the programmers he has seen who work best with music, he declares that the rest of us should work in silence.

And we wonder what's wrong with American business!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose

-- excerpt from e.e. cummings "somewhere i have never traveled"

The rose....the petals....to one person, the one who is able to "unclose" my heart, this will mean something. To the rest of you, I hope you enjoyed this poetic interlude!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

One man auctioning off his life -- what would yours be worth?

A man is Australia is literally actioning off his life. His home, his car, his possessions, indeed even his friends and job. Man auctions his life | Oddly Enough | Reuters

Reading about his choice -- one made following a bad divorce -- I began to wonder what my life would be worth on e-Bay. But I immediately ran into a problem. My life -- the only things of value in my life -- are my children, my soulmate, my health and my faith. None of them have an e-Bay value.

Once upon a time, I did have a life that I wanted to leave behind. Also connected with a bad marriage. But aside from the house, which was sold and the money divided, I gave much of that life away -- furniture and clothing to friends, neighbors, charities, recycling. Dishes and household items as well. Gone. Left behind.

Maybe I missed the chance for a more memorable and dramatic exit. A public auction of a poor choice on e-Bay. So Ian Usher, I tip my hat to you!

I hope your sale is a symbolic and actual new start for you. Only wish I'd thought of it first!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

How to Increase Your Wi-Fi Signal

Blame it on Zoom, Bill Nye the Science guy, or more recently, the Myth Busters, but I like odd science projects. The kind of kitchen supplies stuff you do at home.

"Real science" programs seldom interest me -- I prefer the arts. But the quirky, odd, gee whiz, McGuyver with a gum wrapper and a bit of wire kind of projects or demos? THAT I love.

Here's one I found on YouTube...I'm going to try it! Watch for the results posted here later this week! And if you try it, let me know if it worked for you.

Friday, 7 March 2008

The story of Stuff

I came across this simple video that just might change your view of our daily lives!

Check it out!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Hi, I'm Catherine's mommy

Soon after my son was born, my first name changed to "Nicholas' mommy." I think it started with that first playgroup meeting. As we each walked in carrying our new babies (they were far too young to play, but it was still called a playgroup...hmmm), and diaper bags and assorted newborn paraphernalia, we were perhaps for the first time, somewhere as someone's mommy. It was that mommy badge that gained us admission to the group. So the identification made sense.

When Rachel was born less than two years later, I gained a longer name..."Hi, I'm Nicholas' and Rachel's mommy." Two in diapers and car seats meant a two part name.

Later, as they became more independent and Catherine joined the family, I began to be more selective. So one moment, I was Nicholas' mommy, a second later, Rachel's mommy, and the next Catherine's mommy. It all depended on who was in front of me -- or rather who was hanging off my arm or wrapped around my leg.

This transformation happened to me, an independent woman with a name and identity, and even a CV, without me even being aware. It just WAS.

While the thought of changing my surname at marriage had sent me into terror (I never did do it), changing from the name I knew to someone's mommy never bothered me. I delighted in the role. So the name was a badge of honor.

But now that my youngest is 10, I've begun to wonder...after she is grown, who will I be? How will I adapt after so many years of being known as someone's mommy?

Those of you who have faced this...any thoughts?

A footnote: When I was walking into my daughter's aftercare last night, after writing this post, one of her classmates was coming out with his mom. He saw me, and gave me a cheerful "Hi Catherine's mommy!" Guess it really is too soon to worry about what happens after!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Carnivals, small town fairs and being a kid

We went to the community carnival last night.

I live in a large upscale area of South Florida -- 4 high schools of about 3-4,000 students each, nice developments, the standard shopping "must-have's" like Borders, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, Build-A-Bear and Macy's. Chili's, TGI Friday's, Olive Garden. Of course a couple of Starbucks. The main roads are 6 lanes, and three highways connect me to the rest of South Florida.

Hardly small town.

And yet at the community's annual carnival, as we ate funnel cakes and watched the kids running from ride to ride, the feeling was almost the same as in my former small Pennsylvania town made famous by a romantic comedy slice of life movie set in a Kentucky town that shares the same name. (yes, you have to think on a Monday morning!!)

Kids still ran into friends and dared each other to ride the scariest rides with hands stretched up into the air. Parents carrying stuffed animal prizes still trailed behind, introducing themselves to one another by their children's names.

"Hi, I'm Catherine's mom." "Hi, I'm Ashley's mom. She talks a lot about Catherine." (Our own names almost always come at the end of the conversation -- but that's a subject for another blog post.)

Too much sugar. Music so loud you'd think it would drown out the squeals and screams of pleasure and mock terror from the rides, but it doesn't. The smell of fried foods that defy classification on any food pyramid. Fund raiser booths for the local Boy scouts, Girls Scouts, animal rescue and the new church down the street. Impossibly bright lights everywhere, and the giant ferris wheel overlooking the whole thing, carrying every couple in love to a breathtaking kiss at the top.

For years, the Elizabethtown Fair was the big event. (OK, so i took pity on sleepy Monday readers and gave away the name of the town!) Even though we lived 10 minutes from Hershey Park, and went almost daily in the summertime, going to a just-in-town-for-a-few-days fair was much more exciting. It was a place to run into the people you knew, and introduce yourself to the moms and dads of your kids' classmates. It was where kids dared one another to go on rides, and lovers kissed when their ferris wheel car stopped at the top. And being Pennsylvania, of course we ate funnel cake.

This weekend's fair lacked animal judging. No food and craft barns, either. But it was so nice to know that big city or small town, in today's online, high tech world, there's still a thrill in the air when the carnival's in town.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Live Music

As I write this, I am sitting in a local coffee house on open mike night...or rather morning, as it's now past midnight.

I came here to use the WiFi for a few minutes, to have a cup of tea. That was two hours ago. The music and poetry have kept me in my seat, fascinated with the words and music before me. Such a gift I am giving myself tonight, sitting here, listening.

Why do I forget how much my soul craves live music and poetry, letting weeks, sometimes even months go by without a night like this?

Some of the performers.... JWordsmith, Crystal, Jester. Most of them on MySpace. All of them here, sharing their music and poetry.

Such a gift I am giving myself.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Reflections on a call

Your voice on the phone instantly calms me.
Swirling lists of things I think I have to do before the sun sets...
Before the sun rises...
Settle into patterns on the carpet
Like the long rays of winter sun though the kitchen window

I lose myself in your voice
and allow the sound to wash over me.
Caressing tones
Sometimes missing the words, hearing only the music

Friday, 22 February 2008

Why do you love me....

That's the question Fallen Angel asked on her blog post Reasons to Love.

Most of us have been asked that question at one time or another, most of us have asked the question of our significant others. And when it's our turn to answer, we stumble through, trying to sound profound and thoughtful. Or perhaps we side-step it with humor... "I love you because you make great lasagna." That elusive "Why" is not clearly out there for most people.

But Fallen Angel was asking why we ask. She was asked.

I think we ask because we are, at that moment, looking for a reason to love ourselves. So what we are really saying is: "Is there anything lovable about me?"

So why isn't "I love you because you are you" enough?

Because at the moment we ask, we are looking for some concrete examples of who or what we are that comes across as lovable. Admirable. Worthy. That makes it a hard question to answer, even if we profoundly love someone.

Yes, coming up with an answer is challenging.

But we need to remember when we hear this question that it's an even harder question to ask, because as Fallen Angel concluded:

On the other hand, I`ve never askedthis question. Never out loud. Partly because the question implies the assumption that I actually am loved. And I wouldn`t want that illusion shattered....

(photo from Black & White. Fekete-Fehér Képek)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Friends through the glass

My brother sent me this photo today....two creatures that should be running away from one another, getting to know one another through the glass. A safe barrier, a way to bridge the differences while keeping the risks under control.

As I looked at it online, I thought about how the Internet is kind of like that glass door. On our blogs, on e-mails, on wikis and chat lists, we get to know one another. If we passed one another at the bookstore or local cafe, we might never exchange a word...differences in age, gender, education, wealth, or appearance might keep us from ever saying hello, much less sharing our thoughts, feelings, dreams, or even family photos. We would never cheer one another up through job losses and bad medical diagnosis, nor send kudos on a new birth or a new job. We would remain strangers, barely noticed, or perhaps never even imagined.

Like the cat and the deer, we would stay far from one another.

Whatever the weaknesses of the Internet might be -- and certainly there are many -- it has at last provided people around the world with a long-needed glass door through which they can meet and say hello, and share a moment. Construction workers and doctors. People with perfectly sculpted bodies and those whose bodies barely function. American Jews and Syrian Muslims. College freshmen and octogenarians. through the glass of the Internet, we touch noses. We look into virtual eyes, and we see souls.

The Qu'ran says that nations and faiths were created differently so that we would have to make the effort and get to know one another. How exciting is it to speculate that this computer we are sitting at today, wherever you are, is part of that plan.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Decorating my space

I am a very visual person -- tell me a story, and I will see it in my head. Sometimes a good thing, sometimes really, really not!

But being visual, it's no wonder that one of my first thoughts on this job was "How can I decorate my office?"

It's plain. Boring. I posted a few photos and a congrats poem the first day. Hung my Rumi calendar. And that was it.

This company is big on encouraging people to decorate their personal space. They even sell lithographs to other people in other companies to decorate THEIR space. But I can figure out what I want to do here.

Warm and cozy? Exotic and mysterious? Peaceful and soothing? Modern and sleek? I did some searching on office decorating online -- sadly, most of the posts said "don't" Not an option. I was hoping for inspiration, not prohibitions!

What does your office look like? Are you allowed to decorate? Or indeed even encouraged to do so? I would love to hear about your office decorations or cubicle decorations. Pictures would be great, too!

Looking for inspiration...can you help?

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Walking down the middle of the road online

How much is too much...online?

Those of us who blog have grown used to journaling our lives for public view. But how much is too much?

I've seen blogs and web pages that tell all...names, places, photos, and details! LOTS OF DETAILS! Details that make me blush, or wonder when the attorneys will be showing up.

And there are other blogs that take it to the opposite extreme, making me wonder why they even bother to have a profile. There is no insight, no personal observations -- it's about a dry as reading the fine print on my Visa bill.

So where is the balance? Or does it just depend?

Is it okay, maybe even therapeutic to let it all show? A cheap substitute for a therapist?

What do you think, gentle readers? Where do you draw the line? Do you ever cross it? And how close to that line do you think my posts go?

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Loving the new job!!

From so worried, to having a great time! Wow! What an amazing few days!

I need to learn to trust the universe! Clearly, God has better plans for me than any of my own!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Saying good-bye, saying hello

For almost three years, I've had a job I love. Even on the bad days, I loved being at work. The craziness, the impossible deadlines, the grumpy clients. Loved it.

Friday, I quit.

On Monday, I'll start a new job. More pay. New people. New challenges.

It's scary, but exciting. A new way to grow.

AT first, I only I listened to the people who offered my new job because I could go no further financially at my current company. Unfortunately, with kids and the rising cost of everything else, my bills were outstriping my income Way scary!

But once I listened, and dealt with my fears with the help of S, (a very special and unbelievable patient guy), my brother, and other very, very special friends here and far away (Will I be able to do a new job? Will they like me? Will I like them?), I took the offer. And I resigned from the job I have loved and learned from for the past few years.

Excitement is taking over the fear. I am ready to stretch a bit...to reach somewhere new.

What are your experiences with new jobs? new assignments? Were you excited from the start? Or as scared as I was? How did you grow from the experience? I would love to know!

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Creating a journey book

42 pages so far.

Each one decorated with beautiful paper, each with a title and a space for a photo or two.

This is my Journey Book.

I called it that because I found a beautiful metallic plaque in the Times to Remember scrapbook store in Hershey PA. It simply reads "Journey." That's on the cover.

It's not a record of the things I've done so far in my life. It's a map of where I hope to go on the journey that remains.

Some of the pages represent big dreams...Open a bookstore.

Some are places I want to go ....Visit Egypt.

Some are things at home...Create my perfect bedroom

Some are outside...Find out what happened to Great Aunt Blanche

Some are worldly...Buy a small house

Some are spiritual...Become a chaplain

And a few are deep in my heart ...Find true and lasting love

But all of them, big and small, relatively easy to obtain, and much more complex, have become a part of my roadmap for the time ahead.

As I go through time, more pages will be added.

I may not achieve them all. Or I may someday have a photo on each and every page.

Whatever the outcome, holding a book of dreams in my hands is a wonderful feeling.