March 31, 2007

The Wolves of the Web...Popup Ads

Pop-ads. The bane of the internet. I try to block them but tonight I've decided to use them as fodder for inspiration. State Farm's fairly annoying popup "Never try to outdrive a tornado," has me thinking. I grew up in tornado alley. We always knew when tornadoes were coming. Please, State Farm, give me a break! Tornados announce when they are coming. Sure there are twisters that hit at night. Sure there are twisters that hit when no one is expecting them. But selling car insurance whilst attempting to convince me you are trying to keep me safe is laughable. You are still a wolf, no matter how many sheep skins you wear.

Maintaining Serenity in an Unserene World

Serenity. I used to think only mystics or monks on the tops of inaccessible hills could become serene. I no longer think that. What I do believe is that serenity is actually a choice. And to make that choice takes a lot of work, letting go of habits that harm and holding onto those that help. Harm or Help? Two very useful words to reflect upon today. And very useful attitudes to take towards anything that upsets me. Does going through pain help? Sometimes yes it is useful to experience emotional pain because I grow from it. Sometimes it is self-abuse to allow pain from particular events or people to continue. And so I must let go of those habits that hurt.

Those are the choices I make to maintain serenity today.

March 30, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere

Watergate, White Water and now Black Water. What is it about water? Black Water scares me though. The idea of a lean mean insertion team of soldiers gulled most of us into thinking that Iraq would be quick, cheap and not use many people. Frankly, I never believed in WMD. I kept thinking to myself about "Wag the Dog" scenarios. But of course, being told those same things by the President made Congress buy off on the idea. And having General Powell tell the UN about WMD clinched it. If General Powell was convinced, then who was John Q. Public to doubt? But what John Q. Public was not told was the Black Water connection. I can't help but think we are being sold down the river with this mercenary army and its clones we haven't heard about yet. My questions are many but most immediate is what happens when we run out of wars to feed BlackWater and its' stockholders? After all, this is the America of the bottom line. We can't have an army without a profit. So I'm skeptical.

Death Comes to Benny

I have been there with all my companion animals at the end but once I was there at the beginning and the end. That once was a Newfoundland named Benny. Benny was a breach birth and I was the midwife. Thank god I had a really knowledgeable friend who came over just in time to shift the puppy as he was coming out. Newf puppies look like beanie babies. They are just the same size and soft fur. The only difference is that puppies wriggle and squeak and beanie babies don't. But puppies grow into dogs and dogs die. Newfs have a very short life. It is a very lucky owner who has one live over 10 years. And when they die, a huge part of my heart would die with them. Benny died last July but I only now can face the final photos I took of him. He was the last of the Newfoundlands I ever owned. My comfort is that every time it rains I know it isn't really rain, it's dog drool.

Looking Young but Feeling Old

I don't look old. People keep thinking I am 10 years younger than I am. But here I am at 55, small boned, and just not interested in eating. No diet queen here, folks, just working on a walk-through kitchen. Walk through to get coffee, to toss trash out, to clean cat dishes and trying to walk through life as gently as possible. So this recent trip to Boston was salutary for me. First, I got reminded that cooking can be a good thing, second I got reminded that I used to like cooking and I even liked planning meals. However, chronic pain makes advance planning difficult. Somedays I feel full of energy and planning is a joy. Other days planning is beyond me. But I must be getting better because I plan more. So perhaps cooking is a possibility -- especially with Passover looming on the annual horizon. Now where did I put those recipe books.

Sitting Ducks or the Mounting Body Count

It's spring in my area and the annual pile up of dead animals is impressive even by my sanguinary standards. This morning I drove my daughter to the bus stop and swerved to avoid hitting a small grey/brown mallard duck almost on the side of my lane. I made a mental note that that duck was a goner and sure enough on my way home I saw her crumpled on the side of the road. Now you must understand, seeing dead animals makes me grieve inside. Really grieve. I say a little prayer over every one I see. I stop when I can by the side of the road to pick up the bodies of the dead to give them a decent end.

Wasting innocent souls such as these is just wicked. As a sometime animal rescuer I feel the loss of habitat and space available cause these devastating migrations from one side of the road to the other. And I feel helpless to stop these mass deaths. Progress, the bottom line, humanity feeling itself above animals? So what to do? Not much. Just grieve and do what I can. And ultimately realize that life and death are two sides of the same coin. Two manifestations of spirit. But that is cold comfort both for me and the dead duck. Sigh.

Aging and Myofascial Syndrome

Weak knees! I hate them. They belong in romance novels where the hero sweeps the fainting heroine off her feet. I wish. I walk and start to crumble. In reading a book on trigger point therapy for myofascial syndrome, this weakness occurs with entrapment of nerves. No more sitting seiza for me. Sigh. I like sitting seiza.

I have sat in seiza all my life. When I would embroider, when I would watch tv, when I work with shy animals who need humans on the ground. But now in addition to dealing with orphan syndromes like myofascial which seems tough for physicians to diagnose and the insurance covered physical therapists to know how to treat, I need to learn how to change my habits.

So what else is new? Change is constant, it is just the way I need to adapt. Adaptability -- lack or inability killed the dinosaurs. Will it kill me if I don't flow with the changes of aging? Absolutely. Aging and resentments about it are useless however. Coping skills like marking when to take that pesky osteoporosis pill are more useful.

Samson and Delilah?

Given President Bush's track record as Governor of Texas, I wish I could say I was surprised by current events. But I am not. Alberto Gonsalez is just President Bush's lastest disaster and Mr. Kyle Samson is just another ... well, it is hard to say exactly what Mr. Samson is. The hearings yesterday prove one thing well. Mr. Samson certainly knows how to say he doesn't remember. He certainly knows how to run out the Senatorial question and answer time period with excuse after excuse after excuse after clarification.

Personally, for me? As a word nerd, his last name says volumes...Samson.

So who was Mr. Samson's Delilah? Was it Monica G? Probably not. My vote is for Harriet Myers. So stay tuned...who knows? This scandal might just bring down the temple.

Illegal Alien Issues

If illegal aliens are such a big deal, then how come the government is allowing workers from India and other places to be let into the country to work in places like New Orleans? Importing people to fix problems that American workers can fix and keep US dollars at home is bad public policy. It is that "bottom line" again. These workers are cheaper than paying US workers minimum wage and health care.

Coyotes are a thing of the past when this kind of worker im-portation can be done legally by corporate entities and a profit gained from the practice. But how safe can the rest of us feel when the least of us is mistreated? The answer to that is not safe, not safe at all.

March 29, 2007

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

I am angry. Today's hearings with Mr. Samson really remind me of Watergate -- and not in a nostalgic sense. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that Bush is not used to power. He overuses power the way the newly rich overuse money. You either "get" how power needs to be used wisely or you don't "get" it at all. And sadly, the folks below President Bush take their cue from his actions. So my advice, folks, is to strap in tight because we are all in for a bumpy ride.

Daily Sayings, Serenity and Me

Saying of the day: Seeking happiness outside ourselves is like waiting for sunshine in a cave facing north. - Tibetan Buddhist Saying. Making my own happiness. That saying above is pretty much true for me.

Homeland (ha) Security

Life in America is supposed to be safe. That's why we have this so-called Department of Homeland Security. So how come none of the Homeland Security types feel uneasy about U.S. business outsourcing critical information about citizens' own financial affairs? For instance, my child's stock account at Mellon Bank is a victim of this outsourcing. When I called recently to find out how to change the way the account reads now that my daughter is over the age of a custodial account I discovered I was talking to someone from the Philippines. How do I know? Because I asked. And the answer gave me chills.

But my questions for today are many. I perceive a clear and present danger to the survival of the United States with the accelerating offshore and outsourcing being done. For instance, how on earth can we address Homeland (ha) Security (a clear oxymoron) if our businesses choose to send personal financial information off shore? How can we say we are safe?

Powerful Tomatoes Kill 4 in US

Ok, ok, that is NOT a typo. It is exactly how I read the headline on the BBC website. When I looked a second time to be sure the title actually was "Powerful Tornadoes Kill 4 in US." I really need to get my glasses looked at or actually set up the Society for the Easily Amused I keep going on about.

Fungible -- Look it Up

A co-worker of mine reminded me of "fungible." Here is a link to the meaning it has as an adjective. Definition of fungible - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary And I have to agree it is true in today's work world. True but sad. It makes me think of a book I read on slaughter houses and how the animals are channelled into their personal oblivion. It is a marvelous book with a unique perspective...the author is autistic. The title of the book is "Animals in Translation" by Temple Grandin. She is a marvelous, observant, thoughtful writer. Here is a link to a review of this book.

In many ways, Ms. Grandin's book touches onto this problem of workplace "Fungible-ity," albeit indirectly. As workers we are replaceable by others of similar titles. One size fits all. As a citizen Ms. Grandin's book touches on how I often feel shunted into oblivion by the way the government views the health care issues that government accountants blame on the Medicare Generation. Hell, I am a member of the Almost Medicare Generation and frankly I fear that those of us who make it to 65 will be given Jim Jones KoolAide. We worker bees have become numbers in this society and as such affect the Bottom Line. From health care to PeopleSoft to individual perspectives on life, we have been diminished by American society's obsession about low cost high return to investors. Is it cost-productive to pay a U.S. worker or better for the stockholders if we off-shore and outsource the expense? Fungible is just business, just the American bottom line.


Ok, folks, NPR had me laughing hysterically this morning. From Monica Lewinski to Monica Goodling. Ahh, the irony of names!! No wonder the current Monica is pleading the Fifth. There is just too much fun in the names here.

For further education, here is a website on meanings:

BJC View

BJC? Another acronym, I hear you wail. Yes, Buddhist-Jewish-Christian. Born and raised High Church Episcopal, converted to Reform Judaism and practicing Buddhist, I am a religious amalgam. I view Life through the Lotus today which helps my perspective quite a bit. And just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears -- This View on Reality is Just Right.

March 28, 2007

Deadwood -- the Incredible Lightness of Letting Go

I love words. Tonight's word is "deadwood." What Passover reminds me of most is loss not renewal. I know, I know, that sounds weird for Jew to say. But what the Jews in Egypt lost was their life of slavery. Changing from what hurts us but is familiar to something unfamiliar but potentially better is just plain hard and very very scarey. Those Jews changed where they lived, what they did, and everything else familiar and went off into the Reed Sea with a guy who lisped -- Moses. So like the Jews celebrated at Passover, what do I need to let go so I can go on with the rest of my life? I can start by dropping the deadwood in my life of anger, resentments, envy, pride and fear. Those are all big weights for me. I am tired of hauling them around with me everywhere I go. So how to drop them? Should I file a psychic environmental impact statement? Probably should because my resentments and anger run deep.

March 27, 2007

My 4 Hs?

My 4 Hs? Hand, Heart, Head Harnessed together ... Sometimes it is Heart, Head and Hand Harnessed ... Sometimes it is Head, Heart and Hand Harnessed together. How the Hs in my life combine revolves around where I am in my day, in my spirit, in my soul. And so we go...into the light.

And yes, it is a fundamentally 4 H idea. Here is their link: The difference is the word health in theirs and harness in mine. Here is their pledge which seems very worthy to me.

I Pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living, For my club, my community, my country, and my world.


Robin Hood: Dead Line word for the night

BBC America's Robin Hood is a terrific show with a completely new interpretation of the tale. Funny, irreverent, timely and as timeless as ever. Love, loyalty, loss and language like "deadline." BBC - Nottingham - Robin Hood
(Mil.) a line drawn within or around a military prison, to cross which involves for a prisoner the penalty of being instantly shot.

The link above is to the word of the night and reminds me that sometimes seasons and the holidays that celebrate them are like deadlines around the soul. Seasons and celebrations mark new beginnings or times to let go. Passover -- new beginnings. Funerals --Times to let go. Lines, deadlines, lines in the sand, lights in the soul. How to explain to my soul that the death this year was a planned one, a scheduled one, a reasoned one? There is no way to explain that. Not on my level. Cherubim might understand it. But I only know that the arms of the angels encircle us at all times and when I am sad like this I need to hold those arms tightly so I don't fall off into the dark. Amen and Amen and may we all know peace.

March 25, 2007


Janus - the god who looks both ways, turning points, guardian of doorways, is a mythological character. January is named after him. Janus...turning points. Each of us face turning points every second of every day because we get to choose everything we do. Even people who tell you they have no choice, have choices. It is remarkable how those choices create our interior lives. Remarkable how we choose how we feel. Janus and turning points mean I need to think for myself more than ever because (even though I am one person) what I do affects everyone else.

So Buddhism is right -- one action leads to another -- choose carefully -- but choose and keep moving.

Passover 2007

Passover. The term comes from the last and most devastating of the plagues that Moses called down upon the Egyptians. Pass-Over. Literally, death in the form of G*d passed over the first born sons of the Jewish slaves. See this link: Windsor - Jewish Life

Some archaeologists now theorize that these deaths of the Egyptians can be explained by studying the lakes that killed some 1800 people in Africa.

These archaeologists theorize that the high born sons of nobles and the Pharaoh were always placed in the honored positions near the earth when they went to sleep. And that night was no different in schedule for them. The difference for the Jewish babies was that everyone stayed up to celebrate the passing over by G*d in the form of the Angel of Death. So the babies were in the arms of the adults and nowhere near the earth. They did not breathe in the fumes. Here is a link to the website for the Naked Archaeologist so check the episode yourself:

The Naked Archaeologist
Shot on location in Israel, Egypt and Greece, The Naked Archaeologist airs on ... like the Biblical slaughter of Israel's firstborn sons and the murder of - 14k

Me? I have no idea one way or the other about this theory but it is interesting to me because this year death has been very much a toxic presence in my family. Those we never expected to die are dead in less than 3 months and those we figured would go on a long time have now been in the hospital 2x for various scary sounding procedures. Pulmonary embolism, coronary heart disease, cancer. 2007 is a very leaky year. Folks I have known well for years are gone, folks I wanted very much to get to know better are gone, folks who made a place a home are just gone. And here comes Passover on its annual ambit to remind me that life is not a guarantee. Every day is a gift. And every gift is what you make of it. Use your gifts wisely.

Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis? The heck with where you are going! Where am I going? Plans never work for the how not to be distracted? I recently purchased a book on how to retire early. I guess it gives good ideas but the toughest for me is the section about planning. Where do I want to go? What do I want to do once I get there? How do I build up the resources so I can live comfortably once I am there? Planning, planning, planning and then double checking the planning.....


Numbers are very important in life. Two hands, two feet and so on. Today, number is three. Three pops up for me because the 3 Hs in life hit me hard if I ignore them. Head, Heart and Hands. Getting those working in unison under stress is a project for a orchestral conductor. Leonard Bernstein, where are you?

So how well do I work under stress? It depends on how often I pray or meditate, how often I read, how often I watch the critters around me and how often I release my creative muse and write or draw. It is no secret that I love comparing words that sound the same.

So my words for today are prey or pray just like the cat at the top. Praying gets me above my problem long enough to look at whether I will become prey to it or not. The more detached I am, the clearer my thinking becomes and the less likely my emotions will jump me like a lion on lunch. Crunch!

Escalator Railroad Blues

Escalator Blues/Backward Glances/
Checking for Lost Chances/Sweet to watch


Between reflection and reality, lies a Scrap of Serenity.
That one chance thought named my website and this blog. I have moved now from to this blog because my thinking has moved on.


Echo is such great word. I believe we hear silent echos throughout our entire lives. Physical as well as emotional ones. Echos of praise, of disapproval, of sadness. Echos that tempt us to stay lost (like Narcissus -- see any book on mythology) inside ourselves and forget to reach out to the world of reality. When I separated from my husband to live on my own for the first time of my life at 53, my sister was so very supportive of me. My sister's husband died recently and I find myself hearing echos of my own losses. So how to help others without doing it for my own self-aggrandizement? It takes a great deal of thought -- am I doing this to look good or am I doing this to actually help -- for no gain at all. Hint: The last answer is correct. It is when I scrape away these cobwebs of old hurts to focus on another's pain that I know I am doing the right thing.

And, as I reach out, I heal myself. So in researching resources for widows here is what I found today...
It is probably not good right now but possibly may be useful in the future.


March 21, 2007

Take Heart

Take Heart

And speaking of Hearts, it is no laughing matter, folks, laughing really does reduce stress, exercise your body and help you live longer. To get more laughs in your life, listen to comedians. One of them, Bill Cosby did a hilarious skit called "Chicken Heart." FYI, You can find Bill Cosby CDs on Amazon. What you want to look for is Bill Cosby as himself. He is very funny, very wise, and worth hearing to learn how to realize that you are never alone in dealing with life. Or, if you like political satire, you just can't go wrong with Tom Lehrer. He still has a cult following (I'm one of 'em) who absolutely love the work he did back in the 1960s. So take two laughs and Hang in there.

Homeless Animal Prayers from BeliefNet

Judaism teaches that when one person is killed a universe is destroyed. The situation is even starker if you are an animal rescue volunteer like I am. Recently, I was reading through BeliefNet which is one of my "must reads" each day and discovered this prayer. It deserves wide distribution so I am copying it into this blog.

... We implore you, dear Lord, to empower our prayer for the animals. Help us awaken humans to their plight. Give comfort to those suffering and dying daily in shelters everywhere. Protect those who are without homes. Intervene for those who live in houses where there is cruelty and neglect. Save a special place by Your side for those in laboratories. Help us raise the consciousness in this country and, finally, this world that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment upon or exploit in any way. These beautiful, helpless and defenseless souls have every right to live, be loved and properly cared for. Help us to extend our circle of compassion to include all living beings, but especially Your animals.
Namaste skibum1960 -9/28/2000

March 20, 2007

Weasels and the Presidency

Here is a photo of a pine martin I found on the Scotsman newspaper on line. I love reading foreign newspapers. It is a short vacation for me without leaving my desk.

Anyway, the martin is closely related to weasels. I think weasels get a bad reputation from doing what weasels do. After all, a critter has to be quick, aggressive, sneaky and courageous to survive these days. So it seems a shame that the word now has a second meaning...

To weasel out of something or to use weasel words. For instance, when I listen to the President explain how he will not allow Congress to subpoena any of the White House staff to explain under oath what their reasoning was in the firing of the 8 DOJ prosecutors. This reeks of weaselling to me. Given how beautiful this little pine martin/weasel fellow is to the right, it is a shame I would use his name to describe really unprofessional behavior on the part of the White House to protect incompetence (on the best view of it) or utterly criminal behavior (on the worst view of it).

I say: Free the weasels and pine martins from this kind of human behavior.

March 19, 2007

Cat and Mouse

Maintaining Peace in the Face of ...

A cat on a mouse. Perfect. At peace. I need to be the kitten in the picture -- that comforted by life -- so that the mice of fear don't click on.

March 18, 2007

Little Lies

Quote from Dresden Files: The Way In is Also The Way Out.

Little lies we tell ourselves...engage our pride because we want to believe we are what we tell ourselves we are. When I tell myself I am strong, I don't mind being alone, I can deal with anything that comes along...these are good lies. When I tell myself I am not those things ... those are bad lies. But whatever lies I tell myself, when I work through loss and sit with grief, I need to let go of my pride so I let go of denial. You remember denial? It translates into (Don't even Know I am Lying). Sitting with grief...means facing how we actually are -- not how we wish we were. That's why it is so important to let those who go through loss feel numbness, feel loss, feel anger, feel pain, feel separation, feel whatever they want to feel. It is a path like the labrinynth at Church. To be gone through alone with the prayers of those who have gone through before surrounding them. Amen.

Jelly Bean Therapy -- Working through Grief

Experts tell us that we need to pay attention to grief and numbness when going through loss periods of life. I say eat Jelly Beans along with the usual recommendations of "staying busy." For me, keeping active on the physical level helps keep my feet on the ground. Patting cats, feeding and washing their dishes, watching my fish swim through the aquarium fill in the empty spaces in my schedule. What becomes important for me is sitting with the grief without having to "do" anything else. Just sit. Kind of like socializing cats. So, sitting with grief, resting, food, more rest, and jellybeans for the quick energy I need to take care of myself. So let the jellybeans roll.

March 17, 2007

Drug Ads -- Just Say No to Profiting from Fear

Modern snake oil salesmen flog new wonder drugs. If you believe the tv ads, you can cure impotence, cure rheumatoid arthritis, cure cancer by injecting young women (over a series of three shots) with an unproven drug from the manufacturer of Vioxx. Remember Vioxx? The pain killer with a killer reputation? I have myofascial syndrome which is extremely painful. For a long time my doctors kept throwing pill samples at me in an effort to help the pain and to get me out of their waiting rooms. People who have chronic pain make doctors nervous, bored and ultimately annoyed. They even threw Vioxx my way in an effort to get rid of both of us. I was lucky. The pills didn't work in my case. I had bad reactions to each and everyone of them. I still hurt but am dealing with it with over the counter tylenol, exedrin and writing. When I see ads that sell pills by making people scared I get mad because not everyone is sick but these ads will make them think these pills will work. All they have to do is convince a doctor they are sick enough. But I say to profit off fear is wrong.

Nail Nibbling

My cat chews his nails. I wonder if it is a stress thing but from reading cat based websites like the, it is probably just a normal behavior. Gnawing to get rid of the nail cover so the nail is continuously sharp. My dog used to suck his paw. But I never figured out why he did that. But he certainly was cute. He was even cuter than the Thurber dog below.

Things to see before I die

Here is an owl I found on a link from the Scotsman e-Zine. Beautiful, isn't it? I would love to see Scotland before I die but if I don't my world won't collapse. However, now there is a book and a show on 1000 places to see before you die. I think this attitude is just so toxic. It makes dreams mandatory. Other peoples' dreams of selling these things are behind these ads. Louts who tout that everyone must have a house before you are 30, must have a car before you can drive, must have, must have, must have... This is just cruel. For some people, just getting through the day without collapsing in pain is a triumph equal to climbing Mt. Everest. Why is being ordinary bad? What's wrong with folks who do ordinary things? Why must we are be extraordinary? Why must we all be heros? If everyone is extraordinary then is anyone extraordinary? These superlatives devalue the very qualities they are puffing up. I'd rather have a day with my animals than spend money traveling all over the world.

Learning to be satisfied with myself than be dissatisfied trying to live someone else's dream instead of my own. Being my own owl.

March 16, 2007

We are Seeing Another Friday Night Massacre

Holy Shades of Nixon, folks.

This current situation with the 8 prosecutors kicked up a phrase I last heard back in the Watergate period of my life. Let me backtrack. My first vote ever was for Nixon. I was young. I was from a Republican family. I was happy to vote Republican. Nixon was a bloody deflowering of my youthful vote.

And now the Bush administration is saying this firing has nothing to do with politics. That it is exactly what Clinton did. Each time the Administration speaks to this issue however the number of attorneys fired goes up. First it was 93, today is more than that. No doubt about it...the Bushies are math challenged. First the number of Iraq citizens killed in friendly fire and now the number of attorneys who were fired by Clinton.
Clinton did a lot of things wrong. But he never deliberately dirtied the professional reputations of the lawyers who actually did good work for the public weal. Those replacements were completely political and never ever characterized as anything else. Clinton came in -- changed political affiliation of those who were serving without saying they were incompetent -- and then went forward. Not much else is admirable from Clinton's conduct (from finding WhiteWater files subpoenaed by Congress in the White House living room to Monica Lewinski) but this was a straight up and up political replacement and was never characterized as anything else.

So for the Bush Administration to claim that this time the firing is the same as that time is disingenuous at the very least and a bald-faced lie at the worst. Whatever it is, it's amazing. The bigger the lie (see prewar WWII Germany), the more people believe it. The more media is consolidated into Fox News and concentrated into various outlets, the more the people lose their ability to make considered judgments on news from different sources.

Don't settle for the easy answers just because Fox News or Bush says so. Think. Because we all pay when we don't pay attention.

March 15, 2007

Relative Evil But Don't Worry?

America is broken. Just when I thought the world couldn't get more is an internet report on a woman from Columbus, Ohio. Who knew Columbus harbored such evil people?

Pet-Abuse.Com - Animal Abuse Case Details: 650 dogs and cats ...
Read it for yourselves. But I warn you do so at your own risk. It requires a very strong stomach because it is very very sick. Rescue groups are going through their lists to see if she was ever an adopter from their organization. This is just a horrible situation.

Truly evil people like this are so much easier to throw stones at than the equivocal evils of treating foreign workers as badly as the government has in Massachusetts. Viewed against the equivocal evil of the government, actions by this woman in Columbus are refreshingly devilish. After all, the woman just killed animals -- right?

March 14, 2007

Departed but Never Gone

2007 has been a terrible year so far. I just want it to stop, rewind, restart and have a better film editor -- one who rewrites the script. Meet Dan, my brother in law who just died on March 10th after a short and brutal fight with cancer. Rest in peace, Dan. I was going through old file photos and discovered this classic shot of you with one of the two siamese you and my sister had together. You were such a major cat hugger.

And I am so angry at the cancer that killed you that I want to scratch out the eyes of every single cancer cell I meet on the street. This, I know, is completely unrealistic. Cancer cells don't wander around on the street. But I sure wish they did. I don't think I have ever felt this way about a disease before. You were such a gentle kind soul. And now? Gone. Just like I wish 2007 was. Until we all meet again, Dan, love from this end of the family to you, my sister, your cats and your family. Until then...

Felix Says

Felix says -- bumper stickers are back because people are angry. Dunno if that's true but I am seeing plenty more bumpers covered with stickers the longer the Iraq war continues. If the Dems don't get a handle on how to end it, the sticker-ing will start to cover entire cars in my area. Felix feels that we should start by continuing to support the troops with food and armor and whatever else they need but start pulling them back to the borders. Meanwhile, we need to cut the budget for the president, vice president and any other cabinet members to fly on these lame duck term junkets. South America -- please. Give me a break. Negotiating? Hah. Felix and I both feel the best defense to keep from looking terminally stupid to the rest of the world is to seriously think about giving Texas back to the Mexicans. Just a modest proposal.

March 13, 2007

How Not to Clean A Curious Cat

Here is Freckles. He does things I never thought I'd see a cat do. The dishwasher inspection to the right is just his latest escapade. He also nests inside empty shoes. And attacks ankles. He is a true character and well worth what he dishes out.
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Hungry Ghosts and Spirited Away

Photo of the Hungry Ghost and Heroine from the movie Spirited Away
We have all met them. Folks who have to cut ahead of us -- on the roads, in the bank line, at the lunch counter. Folks who have to be first no matter who it hurts. Folks who have to have the best cars, the biggest houses, the most food to eat. Perhaps that accounts for the popularity of reality shows or who won the latest lottery or Entertainment Tonight. They are an expression of our deepseated wants and attachments. Wants and Thoughts. There is a character in the wonderful anime film "Spirited Away," who looks like a blob until it opens its mouth to swallow characters down whole. It is a hungry ghost and only when it finds love does it become un-hungry and kind. In my limited understanding of Buddhism -- desire/want is considered a hungry ghost -- and it is that attachment that I work on letting go. Work on reconciling. That is why I rescue -- to remind myself there are others and other things that are important in my life and to pay attention to the least of us or I neglect my soul's path.

What is it about...losing that creates lost items?

The more losses I have in my life whether near or far away, the more things I lose. So as I search yet again for my car/house/office keys and cellphone -- I did mention I have these issues with mechanical devices? -- I stop to ponder the role of loss in the process of things getting lost.
I lose things all the time. My keys are notorious for never being where I thought I put them. Same for books, pieces of paper, phone numbers, and cell phones. About the only things in my life that stay put are the bigger pieces of equipment like desks, sofas, sinks, stoves, refrigerators, fishtanks and tv's. With the arrival of wireless laptops, even my computer wanders. So what creates loss which causes me to "inadvertently" lose things? What do I believe?
I believe things out of my personal control distract me from paying attention to where things need to go consistently. Paying attention to life. However, when I look at the larger picture, feed the cats, meditate, watch the snail inch its way around the fishtank I feel less loss, even though I still am still trying to find the things I have lost.

March 12, 2007

When One Door Closes, Does Another One Open?

Mechanical and electronic devices hate me. There are sensors that automatically lock the suite doors at my work. The click the sensors make as they unlock the doors is audible and necessary. Without the click, the doors don't open. Anyone walking towards the elevators has to go through the doors to get there. But, sadly, the doors and I are not on a clicking basis. I have lost count of the times I have walked directly into the suite doors because the click that unlocks them stubbornly did not happen. I have reported it to the fix-it folks but don't have much faith that the door will be fixed anytime soon. So I have to wonder that perhaps when one door opens for me spiritually, does that mean mechanical ones won't work so well? More food for thought.

March and Miracle Max

It has been a bad month so far for survivability.
The Princess Bride has a wacky magician called Miracle Max. The character in the movie is brilliantly played by Billy Crystal. However, in my aquarium, that role was filled by a Ramshorn Snail. My snail died sometime last week. I kept seeing him lying at the bottom of the tank and then he started moving around which is why I named him "Miracle Max." But last week he went missing. Not many places to hide in a 10 gallon tank so I kept looking for him to move around. Then Saturday I found his empty shell. Yes, I know, I am surrounded by a lot of dying this year. I had hoped Miracle Max would beat the odds though. Like I said earlier, it has been a bad March.

Myofascial and Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome

Dealing with referred pain...Here is a link in case you get a kink in your neck or back or wherever. It took me a very long time to get diagnosed with these syndromes. And I could not find a physical therapist who knew or was able to do the kind of trigger point work my doctor prescribed for me. I am still absorbing the information and it is really DENSE but USEFUL. It is worth the price too!!!
Here you go...

March 11, 2007

Into the Light

When I first started on my personal journey, I kept hearing the phrase "into the light." This motif appears in near death experiences, in healer's language, in protective magic. "It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness." Funny, though, at the height of my migraines, I had to be in darkness because the light hurt my eyes. I put the lowest wattage bulbs in and turned on the fewest lights I could use and then battled with darkness induced sadness. Tonight with this loss I should be in darkness to grieve but have turned on the lights instead.
Progress -- one light bulb at a time.

Dresden Files and Karma

The Dresden Files on the Sci-Fi Channel rocks. The show is about a wizard (not a kid-style Harry Potter type wizard either -- a full grown wizard living with the consequences of his choices in life). Harry Dresden is a complex character. The show's theme tonight was about limitations and choices that we get in life. One of the lines that struck me was "We all make mistakes. It's what we do next that matters." There are no coincidences that this phrase was in the show. My sensei today was talking about karma. We are our actions. Our actions define our karma. Our choices make our path. If I choose to see the world negatively then negative forces are attracted to me. If I choose to think positively then positive forces are attracted to me. Some people use feng sui. Some people use prayer. Others meditation. Still others use whatever else helps get them through the day. I use a combination of all of the above. From cats to magic to rescue to writing to reading about trigger points to working on trigger points to lessen the pain I get. It is all grist for the mill of life. The bottom line is to act. Act instead of think. Thinking just fools me into believing I am doing something. Actually doing something creates the results I thought I could get thinking. Twisted logic....

Dreams and Limits

I love pictures as much as I love writing. I especially love pictures that play into the thoughts I have every day. Here is a thought I got from a line in a recent Dresden Files show: "Our limitations define us." Someone who is good with one thing may not be good with another and therefore not pursue it. I have perfect pitch so I am really very good with harmony and sing in my car as a meditation device. However, I am not good with math so my grasp of music theory was never good enough to pursue a professional career in music. Lost opportunities or open doors into other realms? It depends on my perspective at the moment. And thus, is something for me to ponder tonight. Enjoy the dreams you have. Pursue those you have time and talent for and don't regret the past.


Teeter-totters belong in the playground but all too often my moods make me feel like I am Fay Wray teeter-tottering with King Kong on an extra large playground set. What and how does anyone deal with death this swift and cruel? What to say? How to say it? All I know is how glad I am I found those prayers yesterday. I want to not feel anymore and that's just impossible. So I am glad I have started to learn patience in dealing with animal rescue and fear reduction. I once heard that Courage is Fear that has said its' prayers. But to be able to pray takes faith. All I know is that I am glad I have the patience to recognize that faith is what I need and how to regain/reacquire/connect up with it. I used to think that "connection wizards" (so useful in getting a computer setup) were quaint programs with cute names. Now I know that connection wizards get activated by prayer and faith in the rightness of what happens no matter how painful and full of fear. Bless you, teeter-totters.

No Surprise

It's no surprise. I watched a show last night on laughter as a healing force. It calms students and creates community. This morning I am watching a story on dogs who greet visitors to stores on Nantucket. And remarkably the same thing happens. No, folks, don't laugh. Store owners report customers return each summer looking for their favorite canine store representatives.

Some stores even report that their sales improve because they have a dog to greet customers. It is no surprise to me. Dogs and cats have lowered my fears and resistance to looking strange and silly for years. In effect, they give me permission to be me -- no fear of social put-downs, no fear of being yelled at, no fear of people hurting me. And that confidence allows me to go to many places I would never go. Would I frequent shops that had animals there? Absolutely.

Taming Feelings? Try Herding Cats.

Here is a photo of the cat that brought me into rescue. Ally Cat. Much of what I do in rescue spills over into my life. And Ally was the match that lit the fire. She radicalized me as much as Katrina and 9/11 did. As I foster and work with animals bringing them back from fear into trust, I realize that direct confrontation doesn't work at all. Of course, this makes sense on a physical level. A cat who is cornered is a formidable opponent. A dog who is cornered is the same. My way of dealing with these animals is just to sit with them. Sit. Not gesture, not read a book in the same room, just sit. And what begins to happen is interesting. The animals start to sit with me. Not face to face but at various angles. I see the more fearful among them settling into quietness out of the corner of my eye. And those small glimpses are flickers of trust starting up inside those critters. I often hear that if you blink slowly at a cat you are showing them love and vice versa.

The cats I have rescued are no where near the slow blinking stage. They pant when they are picked up. They need catnip toys to tussle with to drain off excess fear. But after a time (variable for each) they become slow blinkers. Still independent, still free to walk away, but much more interactive. In fact, I feel sad for people who want to adopt a cat that is immediately interactive because they miss so much of the journey into the life of another soul.

So how does that rescue reaction of patience spill into my own life? It teaches me how to deal with my feelings of sadness, of fear, of pride, of inadequacy. I have a long standing habit of turning feelings into pain because it is easier for me to deal with pain than to deal with feelings. And it is a habit. When I first started working with rescue, I noticed I wasn't hurting as much. I began to develop more patience being able to sit with my own emotional reactions to fear and the others instead of rushing to turn the emotion into physical pain which I can use to run away from people and animals both.

March 10, 2007

Rescue as a way of life

In rescuing others, I rescue myself. In keeping balanced between emotional extremes, I stay awake to possibilities for me to take today. I try to stay balanced by leading a life that is "stripped down." I don't own a fancy car, a fancy house, a fancy way of life. What I need is what I have, I am content. Or at least, that's how it is supposed to work for me. I am still working, however, on not taking the judgments of others personally. "Stripped down lives" in this current consumer driven world tend to get belittled by others. So, staying centered between wanting to be content and wanting others to be content with me, is all about the quality of my acceptance of their attitude but not letting their attitude define who I am. Or as I see in the Latin Quips Book: "Esse quam videri bonus malebat" or "He preferred being a good man to looking like one" by Sallust, in Bellum Catilinae, LIV

The Ouchness of Truth

Buddhism: Your Daily Meditation In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow - and that is likely to hurt. 'Posthumous Pieces' by Wei Wu Wei Sponsored by - Crestron Programming

That just goes to the core of what I have been pondering today. Creditors, language, rescue, changing attitudes all have one aspect in common -- truth. If I am not truthful with my language I mislead not only others but myself. If I am not truthful with my creditors, I wind up in debt. If I am not committed and truthful about saving animals, I will not go on rescue drives. If I am not truthful about what bugs me or what helps me, then how can I change my attitude. Truth is a large part of the equation. Acceptance is on the other side of the balance beam, though. If truth is my goal, then I must accept what is true to be able to put that new attitude, that new truth, that new rescue, that new phrase into action. And sometimes, going into action with that truth is just like the quote above -- "In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow -- and that is likely to hurt."

Today in Latin Quotes

Quote for the Day: From "Latin Quips at Your Fingertips" collected by Rose Williams. Dives Sum, si non reddo eis quibus debeo. Plautus, Curculio, 377. Translation: I am a rich man so long as I don't pay my creditors. Hah. I love that. Plautus rocks. And he starts my day off thinking. Not so much about paying my creditors -- I do that anyway and do think those thoughts as well. No. I am thinking more along the lines of life and death. And dealing in the face of ultimate truths. So because I cannot change, for better or worse, conditions beyond myself, my goal today is to pay the creditors I can pay. Work for lives that can be saved. That's why I do rescue work with Truck-N-Paws and Maine Coon Cat Rescue and Friends of Homeless Animals. There are not enough hours in the day to help those organizations. All of them always need drivers, caregivers, cat and dog walker/petters and people with paws on the ground looking for ways to help.

Enough - dayenu

Enough - dayenu is not just for passover songs. Last year I gave a lot of time and money to rescue organizations. Gradually, I realized that money wasn't what I needed to give. I needed to give more time. Hands' on. So this year's resolution (albeit realized a lot after the New Year's), is to make myself available to pay off the most rapacious creditor of all -- called life.

I am a driver today. Going 60 miles south to pick up two dogs. I will attach their pictures once the ride is over to this post. I don't know the dogs yet. But from having done this for just about a year I do know one thing. They will be very grateful and sweet. And I will have put them on a new path. And frankly that's the greatest reward I can have these days. From despair to love.
But I couldn't pick up the dogs today. Ivy was sick and couldn't come up. So I did what I could and went to the local shelter where FIV cats have a house of their own. I went there and snuggled in with them on the couch. And it was enough for today.

March 9, 2007


Personality Quizzes -- Gotta love 'em.
Your soul was born in the world of shadows, for your entire life, you have never really been noticed or given much attention to. You are probably a very quiet person and probably have pretty good marks. You are cautious of what others think of you so are often very withdrawn from others, so you are often alone or wit ha couple of friends. In class activities, you are most likely too shy to answer a question even if you know the answer. You are calm and understanding, and will probably realize how much talent you have if you open up.

Quote: Loneness kills, there is just no one there to notice it.
Element:Water, calm and serene, yet powerful
Ability:Invisibility, to get closer without being noticed.
Mythical Creature/Being:Spirit, there but unoticed.
Gem:Tourmaline, tranquility, serenity

Soggy Moggy

When my mom died, I inexplicably began leaking lots of water. Crying, tears, whatever. I had pretty wet cheeks and my kids kept asking why I kept leaking. I tried to explain. I really did. After all, I have a college education, a humanities degree, a long time love of language. You would think I could explain. But ... some events just are not explainable to kids. Even kids like mine who were used to having dogs live unbelievably short lives. And this upcoming loss is like the waters threatening to engulf the cat at the far right. I am sure to get soggy again soon.

So just for today, how to keep from being soggy with sadness? I look at pictures. Here is one I found today on the C-BBC (childrens' BBC). For those who don't know the UK lingo...a moggy is a non-pedigreed cat. See for a much more detailed explanation and lots of other useful facts.
Hopefully, this little fellow will find good fosters and a furr-ever home. The article does mention that the RSPCA is looking for his owners. But frankly I would take him in a shot if I lived in the UK. Here is the link to the story behind the pictures.

Who are these people?

I made the mistake of listening to my favorite going-to-town radio station today. Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. It rocks my world. It gives me news that compensates for the pablum on the other channels. So when it reported about the rounding up of illegal aliens in Massachusetts without making sure the aliens were united with their small children and that snippet of news connected with what was being reporting on other stations, I had to shake my head. My brother-in-law and sister took me to the mill towns near Boston during xmas vacation in 2005. I had heard and learned about mill towns in high school. But the impact of seeing them in their historical recreation was stunning. "A government by the people, of the people and for the people" can't exist when a class of people is treated as badly as the newly industrialized workers were in the 1820-1850 period. For more information, check the Lowell website...
A government which rounds up illegal immigrants and callously refuses for mothers to go to their daycare to collect 7 month old babies who are now in hospital suffering from dehydration is worse. I am coming to the inevitable conclusion that I do not know these people who say they are Americans anymore. And by Americans I mean the ones who are doing the collecting of the aliens for the government. Who are these people? For more information on current events like this, here is the link to today's Boston Globe:

I ask again, who are these people who call themselves Americans? Here are a few words on the side of justice :
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:23 ***You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow's garment in pledge. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. Deuteronomy 24:17-18 ***Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 16:20

The Hard and The Easy ... Song Title

The Hard and the Easy is a CD by the Great Big Sea. The title song is about life in Newfoundland Province, Canada. The lyrics could have been written yesterday but were actually written back in the 19th Century. It is a tale about life and death in Newfoundland back in the days when logs were hauled by men with their horses. One line in particular "the hard and the easy, we take as they come***when ponds freeze over, we shorten the run" is an inspiration to me today as I wait to hear from my family about things that truly are beyond my control. Death is like that ... it strikes and moves and strikes again. Never in the same place at the same time. And while I can save animals from shelters and abusive situations, I can't save loved ones from death. I just have to have faith that I can take "the hard and the easy" as it comes into my life and the lives of those I love. Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston has incredible resources and great souls. Their webpage even has a link to the chaplaincy section with prayers for those who are suffering and for those who are supporting cancer patients. Solace is never sufficient for me in loss situations but this website comes as close as I have found.

In the Morning
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly; If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. If I am to do nothing, help me to do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the spirit of your love. Amen.
At Night
O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.

Tuning In/Tuning Out

I just love English. The same word can mean so many different things.
Word of the Day for Me: Tunes. Tuning in and tuning out. Tuning an instrument. Tuning forks. You might ask, why tunes? Because tuning relates to hearing. Tuning an orchestra. Listening to the song the orchestra creates. Tuning a chorus to a certain key. Making sure everyone sings in harmony. Or turning inside to tune into my feelings. Tuning in to myself helps me balance my feelings as I approach life with a positive attitude. I can "tune out" negative people and news much better when I have a positive attitude. And there is just so much to tune out these days. NPR had a segment on the upcoming apocalypse. Good grief. Or not "good" grief. If I listen to NPR, the world will end in less than 5 years. Serious news? I think not. NPR becomes more entertainment than news each time I listen to it. Arrrggh. So tuning in to my irritation means I tune out and turn away from what I used to think was useful information. And tune in to more positive forces that help me feel better -- Buddhism, oriental art, sumei painting, cats, rescue and drawing.

Society of the Easily Amused or SEA

As I was saying earlier, you were listening, weren't you? I went to an audiologist recently to have my hearing checked. It is fine but creative. Bear cages = barracades is my most recent incident. I know the tinitus creates a white noise effect which affects my ability to understand voices in a certain range but ... really. In some ways having hearing like this saves me from having to deal with the way news is covered in this country. I find the things that journalists cover these days to be so ridiculous that not hearing it means that I don't have to deal with it. Except for those bearcages ...

March 8, 2007

Ringing in the Ears

For years I was sure I was losing my hearing. I can't hear conversations when I am in a restaurant because the background noise from other diners' messes with my comprehension. My girls often complain that I don't listen or even when I do "tune" in, I don't hear what they are saying. But I am pretty sure I hear ok. I hear sadness on the phone when I talk with my sister, I hear concern from other family members, I hear the cats mutter to each other as they plan a revolt against me, I hear the crows say thank you to me when I put out their corn. I hear the important things. I just don't hear my daughters' when they mumble about their day or give me driving directions. I finally caved into the peer/parent pressure and went to have my hearing checked. It turns out that my hearing is fine. At least it is for a 55 year old woman. And that's a good thing.

But I have ringing in the ears from all the Excedrin I take during the day to deal with muscle aches. And the ringing is in the same register or key as normal conversation level voices so one noise blanks out the other. I really need to learn to lip read to compensate for this.

On the other hand, I am not so sure that not hearing voices is such a bad thing. I won't ever be burned at the stake like Joan of Arc, I won't ever be committed to a nut house for hearing voices (I may be committed for other things perhaps) and I won't have to be bored by the political debates because I can tune them out.

Newsies or Bloggers Gone Wild

What makes the news? I ask because I don't know anymore. When Anna Nicole Smith's death becomes more important than real news I know journalism has evolved into something I can't even recognize. I used to know these things.

I used to watch Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Frank Magee. I used to believe what I was told. If they said the world was temporarily flat, why then it was temporarily flat. Now Scooter Libby says he doesn't remember what he told or was told and I cringe. Now there are internet polls about whether Libby should be pardoned. But who can pardon the media for creating an event like Scooter Libby which distracts us from the reason he couldn't remember?

Covering Scooter Libby's trial or Anna Nicole Smith's death distracts us from the war in Iraq, the increasing imperialism of the country, the loss of civil liberties, even the political betrayal by our politicians and government. And is that ultimately where journalism is headed -- into the entertainment industry? If you watch or listen to C-Span that's what they say about themselves. They are "entertainment." Brrrr. Since when is hard news like covering Congress entertainment? I must have missed that memo. I feel bad for Edward R. Murrow. He must be getting seasick from spinning in his grave.

See the quotations page for more from Murrow about reporters and reporting.....

Students and the Do

It is said that when the student is ready the teacher appears. What I never have realized is that a teacher is only as good as that student. Both learn from each other. So as I go through today who are my teachers? Loss? Acceptance? Cat rescue? Pretty much all of those contribute to my mood today. If I am open to loss then I can be open to healing. Do the Do

Boots and Animal Rescue

Rescue I think therefore I am (Voltaire). I live therefore I rescue (sky). And I think of Boots who was turned in by his owner to a local shelter. I love this shelter. The people there care a lot about all their animals and they called us at Maine Coon Rescue to help out. I was closest to the shelter so I went over there Wednesday evening and "pulled" Boots from harms' way.
There is no high bigger than saving someone and even higher than that (for me) is saving an animal who never asked to be put into harms' way. Innocents. And I couldn't have done the rescue if I hadn't had a small village who backed me up. We passed Boots from one car to the next. Fairfax to Pennsylvania in one evening full of icy road conditions and snow. Did I say I was an adrenalin junkie as well? If not, I should have.
Now Boots is with his foster family who have their hands full because the little mite is not well and I want so much for him to be well. If wishes were fishes we'd all eat well. Be well, Boots. Be well, Fosters. Be Well, All.

On Animal Rescue and Loss

Living with much can you lose before you lose yourself? Three years ago I would have said I didn't want to think about what I'd lost. I didn't want to face it. And yet, loss keeps growing when I don't deal with it. So dealing with loss is a MUST DO even when I don't want to. I have been working on a lot of loss issues because losing control, losing people, losing pets makes me crazy. I used to worry about where I was going to find love because I didn't have any love inside for myself.

Recently, though, my daughter went to college. And in the empty space she left behind, I have discovered rescuing animals. And in doing that I have found grace and self-love which allows me to see things like life and loss in a bigger picture. In Buddhism there is a goddess of compassion. Her name is Quan Yin. Compassion = Grace. I often find myself thinking about her as I go through my day and those thoughts level out my mood and attitude.

Canada, Eh?

Whenever things overwhelm me...I run away. I may look like I am sitting and typing but inside I am miles and miles and miles off on the horizon running as fast as I can. And when I run it is always to English Speaking Countries -- ok, Canada doesn't speak American but then again Americans can't speak American. We just think we can. So what with government being corrupt, what with outsourcing hitting my firm, what with cancer hitting my family -- I daydream about living in a nearby yet Foreign country. Ottawa, Toronto, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia? All of them sound good and when I look at real estate prices I am blown away. 3 bedroom townhomes for under $100,000. Sure they are probably built in bad neighborhoods or on top of landfills full of uranium and no doubt the salary I could get up there couldn't deal with even what looks like a modest asking price ... but jeez...the place I rent here I couldn't begin to buy. Homes near it are being snapped up for $500,000+. Salary rates here are ridiculously high but then that drives other things up as well -- food, cars, rent, gas, clothing... And the government has the temerity to wonder why savings are down. Let the government eat beans for a while. Then perhaps the hot air they blow out can be used to supplement the gas we are not getting from Iraq.

Of all the gin joints in all the world

March gets blamed for a lot of things. Windy weather, Caesar's death, crazy march hares from Alice in Wonderland just are a few things wrong with March. Personally? I have a grudge against it for my grandfather's death back in 1963 and now for the impending death of my brother-in-law. Winter is a cold and unforgiving time -- beautiful but not friendly. So cancer pulled up to our family this year. Again. Last time, my Newfoundland dog, Inde, got it. This time, my brother-in-law got it. And I find the usual blah, blah, blah from doctors and cancer websites even more aggravating. Yes, reality bites. I am mad. Not at the disease. It can't help itself. Not at the doctors. They can't help themselves either. I am mad about not being in control. I don't want my family to be vulnerable. I don't want to see them harmed by life. And yet life happens and we all happen to be a part of life. Of all the gin joints in all the world, cancer had to walk into mine. Damn.

Resources for Soulful Living

Finding Serenity
Finding Serenity...Getting the heart, head and hands harnessed together. Not as easy as it sounds. At least for me. My favorite way to start re-balanced myself when I realize I am living too much in either place is to start writing. I pick two words that sound alike, e.g., pray or prey, and write about them. Inevitably I begin to write about what is bugging me. I flow into that part of myself that needs attention. That part of me that dreams quietly and runs me ragged with resentments and petty jealousies and fears.

Of course, there are lots of parts to getting balanced. Eating, sleeping, exercise, singing in my car, drawing, reading, looking at pictures and working with my hands. My favorite " must check" websites are, bbc Scotland,,, Daily Om, my Google Home page, or

Meditate instead of medicate... So, did you meditate today? Or was it tough to touch base? Hang in there......and try reading a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. This is a classic book that teaches how to enhance creativity and artistic confidence. There are remarkable drawing exercises that not only teach how to draw but how to meditate as well.

Until then Read, Relax, Believe, Be Aware, instead of Beware. Chill.