April 30, 2007

On Squirrels and Newfoundlands

This is edited from an old email to an animal rescue friend.
I just found your great and funny and wise email a whole month after you wrote it. There are no ghosts....just unread emails! ... Years and Years ago, I had a squirrel get into my house and my daughter pointed to the curtain and lisped (she was 4 years old at the time) that there was a squirrel on the curtain. I pooh, poohed only to discover there really was a squirrel making free with the curtain that hung over the fold out couch. Eeeck. So we scared the squirrel who jumped onto the couch and then beat feet into the coils and things inside. I unfolded the couch part way to scare him out. Didn't work because I stopped when I thought of squishing him in there. So I brought in one of the dogs who really scared him and he ran out of the house with me following him with a broom. The neighbors must have smiled.

Pain and Spirituality

When pain nailed me to the floor a few years ago, I turned to the spirit and prayer because the pain medicine didn't work. And I started thinking about my soul's path. As usual with me, my road is complicated. I had been feeling disconnected from the synagogue and in fact from Judaism in general for a long while. So after much thought I turned more and more to Buddhist studies -- specifically Zen. Zen concepts are integral in Eido/Kendo which I studied for so long. And I found a community of Shin Buddhists (very closely related to Zen on the Tree of Buddhist thought) near where I live. It is the first religious community that didn't feel threatening to me by the people who were already there. I am a sensitive (ha!) soul and part of the daily pain I go through physically with my myofascial is a hunching up of my shoulders to defend myself. I have hunched my whole life. But I don't hunch here and my "hunch" (you knew I would do that, didn't you?) is that I have finally found what I am told by several spiritual counselors is my soul's path. It fills that hole in my soul and offers me a way of giving back to the stream of life through compassion, serenity, community, food, and prayer. And the emptiness is lifting.

Always Find Something to Believe

When I am feeling down, I like to review positive things I have found about myself. One of the best ways to locate impartial information is to take some of these almost free personality tests. Those are the things I look at to remind myself that someone, something other than me did the judging. And I am reminded that I am someone of value.
Until then

Turning Points

Tafnit - Hebrew for "turning point." See this article in the International Herald Tribune:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/29/news/mideast.php?page=2 This is an article about the peace movement in Israel, about the protest organizations against the war in Lebanon, and generally about Olmert's political problems in the country. More power to the protest group which is called: Tafnit - Turning Point. We all reach turning points in our lives. If we are lucky, we see them before we run off the rails. I pray that is the case in Israel.

Until then

Was You Ever Bit By A Dead Bee?

So this thing I have about death...I have been doing some thinking about it. I realize now that I am no where ready to deal in an acceptance way with all the losses in the family. Call it lack of acceptance, call it a need to control, call it whatever you want. I didn't really get the picture of how unready I was until I was walking along and found a dead bee. It was/is a beautiful creature. Just lying forgotten in an alleyway in the City. There are many tales that come from the City and this is just one of them that caught my heart and made me think. I don't have an aversion to dying for myself. I have an aversion to dying and leaving things left undone for my survivors. It is just silly to want to have a grave picked out, a funeral home contract paid for, all my bills up to date and my clothes in order before I die. Who has a death date calendared into their daytimer? So I just realized all I need to do is to give myself permission to be incomplete when I die. After all, it is just another permission slip to fill out. You'd think I'd have realized that earlier.
Sheesh. Until then

The Hairy Side of Meditative Koans

Buddhism: Your Daily Meditation

It is necessary to understand that I Am, In order that I may know that I Am Not, So that, at last, I may realize that, I Am Not, therefore I Am. - Ask the Awakened by Wei Wu Wei
Sponsored by
humaneInterface.com - Crestron Programming

I am not as evolved as to be able to read today's posting without mentally twisting my brain into billions of small pretzels.... One of these days I will grasp this thought, Until then may we all be blessed

It's About Time

It's about time. http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL2919156420070430?feedType=RSS Reuters has just reported an Israeli investigation into the Lebanon war last year. Finally, Olmert is going to be held accountable for "making his bones," by going to war to legitimize himself to his Israeli public. It is sickening. Olmert has no military experience -- just like someone else we all know. My question is this: If countries go to war, why don't the chiefs of state go to the head of the line to do the fighting? Boudicca had it right. She led her clan into battle against the Romans. She actually died in the final battle. But the damn fact is that she put her own body and soul on the line. Here is the BBC entry on her, http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A19248320
Where is that willingness today? Not in Israel and, clearly, not in the U.S. either.


I admit it. I am definitely a candidate for What Not to Wear! I am hopeless when it comes to putting an outfit together. And even when I do get it sort of right, there are always the helpful folks who follow me around to tell me of fashion faux paws. I am so clueless I cannot even spell faux paws. Sheesh. But today my view of Image is not so much about how I look outside but how I look to myself inside. I just have to remember to accept myself as who and what I am today, this minute, this second and go on from there.

Another Word for the Wise-Acceptance

My right hand does not like my new mouse. It keeps trying to do what seems normal. But normal doesn't exist with twitchy nerves and long standing pain. So this morning I faced that awful/awesome word, Acceptance. I had to type, I had to use the keyboard, I had to work around my habit-driven thumb. So I changed which hand is using the mouse. Maybe forever -- maybe just for now. And to do that I had to accept I cannot control my thumb's habits. Perhaps I need a 12-step program for retraining thumbs. But until then...


To help ease hand stress, I just starting using one of those fancy ergonomic devices last week. It is a mouse with a positioning ball on it. I am still on a learning curve/curse with it though. I have to "think" every time I use it because old habits with me die hard. And not only in my mind but in my hand. Every time I positioned the location on the screen using the ball device, my thumb twitched violently. Perhaps it was to show me there was a lot of stress stored up in that nerve. Perhaps in protest to being replaced as an unreplaceable item. Whatever the reason, that nerve made me realize that twitches are useful indicators of where nerves are frozen in my body. So this weekend I just slept in my spare time. Didn't do my usual routine of watching tv thinking I am relaxing. I just slept instead. As Miles Vorkosigan's says in the Barrayar series by Lois McMasters Bujold, "Let's see what happens." Until then....


April 29, 2007

Word of the Day - Attend

Here is a link to the definition of "attend" first. http://www.wordnet-online.com/attend.shtml I take it to mean "pay attention" to life. So in addition to other focusing techniques I now use the word attend when I feel my attention wandering.

Until then, namaste

April 28, 2007

Water Cooler Stories Cat Style

I wish I could speak 'cat.' My guy has started to knock over the water bowl with its biggish water reservoir. I think it is because he wants to play but it could be a dispute over who is allowed to use it. He is very territorial. He tries to do this with the remaining reservoir but can't because that device is too close to the ground and has too broad a base. So he can't take a swing and push it over in the momentum. I just wish I knew what the cats were talking about at the water cooler to start this water cooler shoving. Until then, I have mops and towels handy to swab up the water. And see about getting this:

Being Honked At

I used to get ticked when I got honked at. No more. I have a sticker on the back of my car saying "HONK IF YOU DON'T EXIST." So, is that honk from someone who understands or someone who is impatient? Doesn't matter to me because that honk is a call to attend to who and what I am in that moment of time. Priceless in today's gas driven economy.

Garden of the Three Treasures

Ekoji is having a spring garden cleaning party. Today! So, of course, I am grabbing whatever grubbing/gardening things I need and heading over there this morning. Giving back and getting back from being involved is what life for me is all about. Here is a picture of the gardenIn Gassho

April 27, 2007

Show of Hands, Please

Ok, who is old enough to have worn mood rings when they were first on the market back in the day? Don't be shy. Raise your hands. I had mood rings but never could get them to work. I always had cold hands so the crystal/glass/whatever it was never was anything but grey. The best mood ring I have found is not crystal or glass. It is silver and cost 7 bucks from Kohls. It is engraved with four words: peace, spirit, mind and body. And right now it is at peace. Be at peace, folks, be at peace.

Lest You Think

Lest you think my life is all gloom and doom, rest easy. The up side of having a chronic condition is that my kids check in with me. They make sure I am ok. They call to make sure ... It is sweet.

Middle Life Education

It has been a year of shock and awe healthwise in the family. If wishes were fishes, I'd have the whole year swim backwards to save/retrieve/rewrite the script somehow. But it isn't fantasy. It is life in the awful, awkward middle years where people get ill, deathly ill, and death visits far more often than Elijah at Passover. Death drops down like an owl on a mouse, quietly, whooshing up the soul before we know there is danger. Damn, damn, damn. No course in Humanities, no course in history, no course in college ever prepared me for this. Not ever....

Exterminators and Rare Diseases

Well, folks, diseases are back again. In the close family, again. I declare, they are worse than the german cockroaches I had in my place when I first moved in. Just when I thought I'd sprayed enough, the bugs would come back -- goosestepping across the couch. And it is just the same way with these rare jawbreaker named illnesses. More bugs. More uncontrollable trouble. More composing myself for whatever comes. More, More, More. Exterminators helped with the cockroaches. I pray doctors will fill in the same role of exterminating this newest plague. And while I wait? I'll pray.

So How...Do Coping Skills Work

Coping skills. My neurologist told me yesterday to take my migraine meds at the first sign (usually a pain behind my eye) of a migraine. Today, I was at a staff appreciation happy hour and started to feel bad. I left and took a pill and I feel much better now. The trade-off, though, was the I missed collecting the prize at the final secretary drawing for the week. I gave up the firm's prize which would have stoked my firm image to the better prize of no pain. I think I won that bet. It all goes to what is more important -- taking care of myself or taking care of my image.

On Trust and Faith

You know the old saw, "In God we trust, all others pay cash." I have trust in the universality of ... well, things. The "thing-ness" of things. While I am fine with things, I am not so fine with people, politicians and governments. A T-shirt adage "Beware of the Power of Stupid People in Groups" says it better than I ever could. I suspect what drives my doubts is a lack of faith that the universe will protect me, that other people mean well, that my trust won't be violated. Hah! 1 out of 3 are not good odds in the faith biz. For a good read, here is a link on trust, faith and, well, the universe. http://www.killingthebuddha.com/manifesto.htm

Acceptance - Something More than a Word

Working on acceptance to let go of the fear and anger I feel at having CMP. So far, CMP 60%, acceptance 40%. Not bad so far.

Channelling Anger and Desperation

When animals chew paws off to escape traps...it is called smart or weird depending on your point of view. I know now from personal experience, that the gnawing is alive and well for me. When I hurt, I claw at myself. I don't have tattoos. I don't need them. I have scars instead. So finding a way to contain the pain is essential if I want any skin left unclawed. And I don't work well with any of the migraine medications to prevent migraines. And the pain medications prescribed are pretty much no better or worse than OTC meds. I guess that's pretty lucky because at least I don't have to worry about getting hooked on a serious drug. What I have found is that Excedrin Migraine works very well for the body aches. And other things like naproxen work well too for pain prevention. With a backup plan like the only migraine med that works for me, I am in as good shape as I can be in. Now if I can only find some other way to channel the anger at the pain...

April 26, 2007

What Pain Drains is Hope

The only downside to seeing my doctor is that he always needs to check the amount of mobility and where my bunched up pain is lurking. He is so skilled that he hits each spot where it hurts and in myofascial syndrome that means it hurts on the same identical nerve on each side of the body. So if my right shoulder hurts at one spot, my left does too. At exactly the same place. Ouch. So now I need to take some otc pain medicine to help with the reaction to being checked out. If I don't my migraine will return and drain away the hope I have of feeling ... better, whole, well again.

And the Answer is "Desperation"

I just saw my doctor who is amazing, caring, perceptive and patience itself when dealing with me. I always come away from seeing him with renewed hope and a sense that I am not alone. Pain is such a lonely drain. I tried to describe what motivated me to up my medication without consultation. He waved my words aside by just saying "desperation." And he is right. When I hurt and hurt and hurt and see no end to the hurt, I get desperate. Trying not to make the pain worse by holding on to it is upper level pain management for me still. So I just do the simple things like change to ergonomic mouse ware (I need to find ears for this mouse) and small keyboards so I won't have to move my shoulders so much. Myofascial freezes me into an arms at my side position (think of that show "Six Feet Under") only I am the one in the box. It is no fun. So anything that helps me loosen up -- heating pads, talking to friends, seeing my doctor when I am desperate helps. Until then,

Google Home Page Themes

I love them. I especially love my Google screen theme called tea time. It makes tiny changes from morning to night. This afternoon a turtle chomped on green grass as the sky glowed in late afternoon colors. Such serenity. I will continue to watch it as it evolves from dinner to bedtime, until such coherent peace comes to my own soul. Until then ...

Letting Go

Death and Dying -- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I read this book years ago. I need to re-read it given some of my recent experiences and insights from them. What I remember most is that she discusses the stages of grief. There are five of them. Here is a link for those who never trust authors and want to get right to the facts. I know who you are because I am just like you too. Stages of Grief I just wish there was a better sort of manual for how one goes on about life after loss, whether through great change like leaving home, through the loss of a beloved partner, through separation, through divorce, through kids going to college. As I let go of who I was, I find I still need to be that person sometimes. There are often so many resonances of the old personna that intrude. After all, when a marriage breaks up there are usually kids, custody, and continuing conversations of how to deal with one kid or another. It is a confusing split view on reality. I haven't found the books that address this issue directly. So, for now, I guess the best I can do it just go on. And eventually I will find I haven't lost a life, I have gained a greater and fuller perspective.


On the cosmic scoreboard of my life, it is usually out of town team 100, home team 0. I don't usually realize how much I have changed until I am done changing. I always forget the good I have done and only see what I have done wrong. Sigh. But I am realizing that state of mind tonight. Going forward from here is an uphill climb but at least I won't be holding myself back.

Anger and Stuff

I had an epiphany tonight. I don't have to hold on to anger. Not in my muscles, not in my head and not in my soul. No wonder my shoulders hurt. I have been bunched up for years with anger that really needed to go to another place, another time, another world. A world, a time and a place I left long ago. Heck, I even get angry at the pain. So I know I am a clutter bug, I know I collect things, I know I am a hopeless fantasy/myth/medieval geek. But I also know it is toxic for me to hold onto emotions that have outlived their time and usefulness.

Ah, so this is what spring cleaning for the soul feels like.....

April 25, 2007

Ah, Permission Slips

Permission slips are a daily thing in a household with school age kids. But I never realized I needed to give myself permission to start a new role as a new 'me.' I mean the change in legal status still has me staggered. How do I suddenly give myself permission to become a new "me"? Whom do I ask for permisson to do that? I am sure it looks easy from the outside but I am just now realizing how hard it is from the inside. And it has taken me a very long time to realize that granting myself permission is not just about staying up late and watching tv. It is about deciding what I like, what I want to spend time doing, how I deal with anger, how I deal with frustration, how I deal with loneliness, how I deal with fear, how I deal with the anger I have at the pain that has taken over and constricted my life, and generally how I deal with life. Tonight I discovered the person who needed to do that -- me. So yeah, lots to think about. Think, not fester, not rage. Just think and check in on how I am handling the permission slip thing. Oh, yeah, and make sure I give the permission slip to the right person -- me.

Things I Never Knew About Phases

When I was in school, I always thought the moon was the only thing I needed to learn about that had phases. I was wrong. Now I realize there are phases I never learned about in school. Phases like my kids went through -- the terrible twos, the teenage years. Now in my mid-50s, I realize there are more phases to face. I know, you're thinking that I have to deal with getting old. Well, there is that but there is more to it. Different ages bring different challenges. In some ways, tougher because if I make mistakes at this age I won't have as much time to fix them. In some ways, rougher because after a number of years building a certain personna as a Mrs. and working mom, I am now a Mrs. who doesn't fit that personna anymore. And frankly letting go of who I was is far tougher than letting go of who I was married to. Evolution...is a process. Some species made it to today. Some didn't. I plan to make it through this phase.

April 24, 2007

Orphan Diseases

I never knew anything about orphan diseases until I got sick three years ago. Then I discovered real quick that some diseases are orphaned by doctors and drug companies because they don't pay. The people who have orphan diseases are chronic sufferers. I had to deal with a bunch of doctors to get diagnosed for what ultimately turned out was wrong with me. Sadly, it is chronic. There is no magic pill to take, no magic massage that will help, no sleep therapist who can help me get the rest I need. So it is really annoying for me to deal with most doctors at this point. And that is with healthcare. I shudder to think how I could deal with this if I didn't have insurance. So I watch Congress's hand wringing about healthcare with a very jaundiced eye. How can Congress deal with this mess other than kick the insurance companies in their collective behinds? The lobbyist groups won't let that be done. They won't let that be done because investors' lose money when a disease can't be cured, when a disease can't be advertised on TV so drug companies can sell more pills. And chronic pain can't be cured. There is no money in it. So why hurt the investors' bottom line spending money on someone who is always going to hurt? For a better definition of living with pain read this link... http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/2006/02/the_spoon_theory.php

Cats adapt and so must I

Where am I today? Home sick. Head hurt too much to even try to drive in to work. I suspect it was a good thing because today was the fixit man's time to repair the damage done by the renters who lived here before me. A case of bored bull dogs meet windows and window frames. Between the migraine and monitoring the repairman, I am exhausted. And now he is gone and I get to put up the curtains again. I am trying to avoid thinking about that by telling myself the paint on the trim still needs to dry. Sigh. And on top of that? The ledge where the cats loved to soak up the sun is gone now. Bigger sigh..... Ah, well.... Cats adapt and so must I.

Cell Phone Alarms and Dancing Sheep

What on earth did I do without my cell phone? I used to think of it as an electronic leash. Now it is a lifeline to connect with folks who matter. And even handier are the alarms I can program in. Alarm clocks don't work for me. I have a hard time falling to sleep and a harder time waking up. Now, though, with the Nokia cellphones, I can program in intervals of beeping that interrupt me at my rest. Even better? I get to see sheep dancing about on the screen which puts a smile on my face. And smiles are few and far better for the sleep beleaguered. Thank you, Nokia software folks. Thank you.

Drains and The Infinity of Emptiness

Draining...plumbers' helper for the clogged brain...migraines. Actually, migraines and myofascial are a very important part of my path to serenity. Like most of the folks I knew growing up, staying busy was important. It didn't really matter what I did as long as I looked deeply involved in it. When the pain started, though, my world got severely and suddenly circumscribed. Things I could do without effort suddenly took an immense toll on me. Both physical activity and emotional upset. And I just hurt more and more until I learned I needed to study the art of holding with an open hand things I used to crush with control.

But unlearning life long habits is not for the weak of will. Indeed, it takes a mindful understanding of the way my mind affects my physical self to be able to start learning to let go, to unlearn, to stop hurting myself and drain the pain away. I know I have much to learn. But I am much better having a path instead of feeling trapped. So just for now, I will read this link to Japanese Gardening Books which promises to be another path of healing for me. http://www.stonelantern.com/booksjapanesegarden.html

Serenity and the Cluttered Mind

I have a cluttered mind. I suspect it is like most of us these days. Whirling from chores, long commutes and then more chores, we rush around and then wonder why we never really get anything done. In all the rushing, I would write notes to myself of things I saw or felt and left the scraps scattered around the house and lurking unwritten in my mind. Then I started a website on serenity and all those scraps came out to play. And now, this blog. It is a good day. May we all find a scrap bin of our own to put our thoughts in. Until then keep writing, keep thinking, keep body and soul together....

April 23, 2007

Rapacious Creditors--Not Who You'd Think

I am beginning to believe the next most rapacious creditor - next to death - are the lobbying groups in America. Last year, I gave to a number of rescue and environmental lobbying organizations. This year, I've had a change of philosophy and plan on giving time instead of bucks. But that doesn't stop the Democratic National Committee and its various clones from calling me after 9 pm on weekends to request aid. It doesn't stop the other environmental lobbying groups from calling either.

Rescue groups are not as well organized although they need the money even more than the dems or the environmentals. So I try to pick up the calls from them. But to avoid the others? I had to stop to think about the best way to do that and finally realized that I don't have to answer.

So now I look at the who is calling information on my phone and if I don't recognize the number or the person I answer and immediately hang up. What would my parents who taught me proper phone manners say? Probably "right on." Until then

April 21, 2007

Leaps of Faith and Headaches

Sleep with a headache is impossible. When I can't sleep, I watch TV. Usually I watch the history channel. Tonight I struck paydirt with an episode on History International about Rob Roy MacGregor who is an ancestor of mine. And I follow that up with watching "Hitch" only to see the best diaglogue on taking a leap of faith. http://www.sofacinema.co.uk/visitor/product/39811-Hitch.html I love his words which sort of go like this: Because we leap and hope to god we can fly....otherwise we drop like a rock wondering why we jumped in the first place...you make me fly.... This is the scene where Hitch jumps onto the car and is thrown off. Those lines he says about why we jump and the faith we have to pull ourselves through any situation are mind-bogglingly good. 'So from family to faith tonight.

Rotten weeks

I am exhausted. It has been a rotten week for deaths, a rotten week for headaches, a rotten week generally. Here in D.C., rotten gets worse when the traffic is bad. And last week, it was bad. So today it was just me, throbbing head and the cats. One day I'll feel better. Until then

April 20, 2007

Living On

This is a page about a very sweet practice that Japanese Buddhists have to celebrate the life of those kids who didn't live or didn't live for long. Somehow, researching this ceremony made sense in this week of tremendous loss. Here is a blog that has photos of statues with knitted caps on them. It is beyond evocative...it is sweetness itself.

Hunting for Serenity

Until then, hunting for serenity is ... attainable ... when I see my cat wrinkle his whiskers in his sleep.

Split Self and Cancer Study

http://www.bioenergeticanalysisct.org/rablensplitselfessay.htm This is a fascinating read. I initially researched it after realizing that I was in danger of becoming brittle after this last set of deaths in my life. I need to learn more boundaries and less active involvement the pain of others. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries....not just a park in Minnesota. http://www.friends-bwca.org/ Sigh.

April 19, 2007

When Good Words Go Bad

I Just .... Get ..... Steamed ..... when I hear words that used to mean something else entirely become co-opted by various groups. You hear them all the time, "ho," "gay," "weasel," "bang," and the list goes on and on. Small wonder that talk/shock jockies get burned by casual use of a word like 'ho.' And then there is me. I love slang. I mean it. Not gutter slang like 'ho' though. Old fashioned slang. Mickey Spillane, Sherlock Holmes, Dashiel Hammett, gangster movies, molls, guys, dolls, gats, spats and all the words that came out of their characters' mouths. That kind of slang. Sure, I know, jazz meant drugs back in the day. It also meant music and the clubs where the drugs were. But did jazz ever mean anything else before that? Nope. It is a consistent word. Gay used to mean an emotional frenetic happiness. Ho used to be a noise Santa Claus made. Weasel still is a very pretty animal. Bang used to mean the noise a gun made. I just hate getting gunned down by words becoming inconsistent. Sigh.

Then there are serious quotes

"Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
and transform your entire being into
the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation."
St Clare of Assisi

Great Quotes don't always have to be Serious

"How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a massage?"


Found on one of the Gulf Coast morgues after Hurricane Katrina:
Mortui Vivis Praecipant.
"Let the dead teach the living."

Movie Quote: As Good As It Gets

Sell crazy someplace else. We're all stocked up here.

You've Got to be Carefully Taught

You've got to be taught, To hate and fear, You've got to be taught, From year to Year, It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear, You've got to be carefully taught, You've got to be taught, To be Afraid, Of people whose eyes are oddly made, And people whose skin, Is a different shade, You've got to be carefully taught, You've got to be taught, Before it's too late, Before you are 6 or 7 or 8, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You've got to be carefully taught http://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/southpacific/youvegottobecarefullytaught.htm

Of all the irritating lyrics I heard as a kid, this one tops the list. Even worse than "The Sound of Music" Preachy, goody-two-shoes, and self satisfied. Arrgh.

Yet those words are the most powerful commentary I know on what happened at Virginia Tech. On all sides, there is concern. Concern. Concern for the shooter who felt hated and obviously wanted bloody revenge. Concern for the students who were killed. Concern for the psych docs who said he posed no threat. Concern for the school and for the teachers for accepting that a kid who stalked and had dark writings posed no threat. Concern for the students who didn't file formal complaints earlier against him. Concern for the police who thought the killer was the wrong person initially. Concerned for those who acted to protect others and were gunned down.

But most of all Concern for all the students who wanted to act but who were programmed by the Public School System into passivity. For those students who didn't report the bully morphing into shooter because they feared the consequences of speaking up for themselves. Make no mistake. In today's schools, the reporter of violence often is pressured to not bring suit, to not complain, to believe the bully is just a boy or girl gone bad and the student who complains will be responsible for having the bully kicked out of school. Or worse, the bully and the victim receive separate and equal punishments. How do I know this? Because those pressures are exactly what happened when my two girls were victimized by bullies at their school. And I don't think I am alone in the experience that bullies walk while victims just talk because that's all they feel safe doing.

Bullies don't get punished. Not enough. No apologies are required. No true compensation for the fear they caused. What do they get? A lunchtime detention here. A day's suspension there. And the Bullies learn the valuable lesson that there are no consequences to their actions. I suspect that this kind of passivity training happens all over the country and all over the world. After all, Virginia Tech has students from around the world.

The fact is that most of those students at Virginia Tech froze because of their conditioning. I just know it in my bones. So yes, school violence is terrible. Bullying is terrible. It is often impossible to know who did what to whom and as administrators you need to appear to be fair. After all you can't have student on student attacks. But perhaps you can be too carefully taught. Just look at the final results of the lesson.

Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations

On Death
In order to train in the path that would allow us to transform death, the intermediate state, and rebirth, we have to practice on three occasions: during the waking state, during the sleeping state, and during the process of death.
-His Holiness The Dalai Lama, "Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying"
Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations," edited by Josh Bartok, with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville MA 02144 U.S.A, www.wisdompubs.org.

Cyclones of the Soul

In re-reading my entry for Sunday night, I realize that there was a extratropical cyclonic depression going through the Northern Virginia area where I live. Extratropical Cyclones (also known as Nor'easters) are winter hurricanes and odd things happen during them. Odd things like sudden freezes, sudden thaws, high winds and emotional ups and downs. But the reason I bring up cyclones is the emotional aspect to them. The winds I sat through on Sunday gave me and the cats huge feelings of dread, we just knew something was going to happen. So what to do on those days when dread gets the upper hand, when the wind of change is making the soul's windows shudder? I pray and gather the cats close and jump onto the www.tarot.com website to check my impressions. I probably should have gotten my dowsing stuff out but I was so unclear about what was going on I would have asked really general questions. Sometimes just sitting through dread is the toughest thing to do. Just don't try to do it alone.


Things my father taught me.

As I stubbed my toes walking today, I had an odd thought. I don't know who taught me to walk. But I do know the things I have learned from my dad.

When I was small, he taught me not to get uppity with adults. I sure didn't like the way he did it but that skill in avoiding non-essential fights has served me well .

When I was small, he taught me that drawing outside the lines in the paint by numbers kits was a surprising technique but not always a bad one.

When he thought I was ready to learn about his workshop downstairs, only to be disappointed that I was not ready to learn, he let me go with grace back up to my reading place.

When I got bigger, he taught me how to write with humor.

When I got bigger, he taught me that music is made with the heart and even broken instruments make beautiful sounds.

When I got bigger, he taught me to drive a manual car because that was all I could afford. And when the car would break down, he would come and pick me up...no matter where, no matter when.

When I got even bigger, he let me test drive a car -- a real fancy car -- that he was thinking of buying off the showroom floor and onto the snow covered fields and roads of the county. And when I pulled over and the car slid majestically into a ditch, leaving him stomping across a farmer's field, he never ever mentioned it to me again either in veiled criticism or in hate or in humorous asides that would have made me cringe.

My father taught me so much more than life skills. He taught me courage when I would get lost, courage in facing reality, patience in learning new skills, acceptance of others and kindness in dealing with each and every person I met.

I would not be the person I am today without that interior lighting of wisdom he gave to me as I grew up.

April 18, 2007

Music in General

I have always been obsessed about music and spirituality. Music is so close to the spirit. I started learning to read music when I was 5 years old. I started singing in the church choir the next year. By 12, I played the violin, mandolin, wooden recorder, piano and french horn. So, yeah, music is cool. The music the Virginia Tech band played yesterday was very sweet, quiet, evocative ... I used to play music like that at graduations. So unexpected to hear it accompanying the convocation. So Sad.

Muse and ABBA

There is a new rock group from England, Muse. At least it is new to me. For some reason it reminds me of ABBA. I am sure to shock my daughter because all of this music is new to her. I just hear long standing musical themes rewoven and it is all good. Here are some links to check out the Muse music http://www.muchmusic.com/music/artists/index.asp?artist=957 and here is the ABBA website http://www.geocities.com/abba_maor/ No matter what you like, you will find these good hears. Enjoy!

Sopranos and TV Music

I love music. I love the background music from the Sopranos, Miami Vice, Angel, Gunn...name the show. If it has a good beat, I love the song. Heck, I even liked the theme from the Man from Uncle. Go figure. What I find interesting is that now music morphs from what I knew into something new. Sting becomes background for the Sopranos and on it goes. And the music is just as good as ever -- just different.

Naxos, Greece and Uncompleted Temples

Never Completed Temples of Naxos, Greece get lots of tourists traffic. Never completed lives? Not so well traveled. So what does a life look like that is uncompleted? I mean, if you are dead, you are complete? Right? But what if you are not dead? Does that mean you are complete? What about if you have that list of things you mean to do someday? Someday may get here, but you may not be here to greet it. Sobering thought. And a blessed goal to let go of the things you hold onto out of habit. Be graced tonight and everyplace.

Extratropical Cyclones: Highs & Lows

Here are some links to understanding extratropical cyclones.
Strahler Companion Ch. 6
An important weather system affecting middle and high latitudes is a traveling low pressure system called a wave cyclone. Wave cyclones move from west to ...www.wiley.com/college/strahler/sc/strach6.html

and for the military minded campaigner
and finally

Death remains eternal...life optional

Death got another soul. Another someone I didn't have time to get to know but am blessed to have known them the short time I did. Truly, Moments That Take Your Breath Away says it all.
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. falling leaf -- author unknown ... "


Invisibility! Is it a curse? Or a plus? I struggle with invisibility daily at work. No official recognition, no official praise, no smiles from higher ups to lighten my days. I know I prefer the shadows and corners and have lived in the dusty outlines of file drawers for years. But after 14+ years, I would think people would care whether I was there of not. So, I ask … why am I here? I ask … what role do I play? I ask … do I make a difference? I ask … am I of help to anyone? And the final question is what keeps me driving down roads increasingly clogged with secret service (doing secret stuff), Feebees (doing whatever useless things they do) and DC cops/park police who shut the roads to work keep us Safe. In some way, to some people, I make a difference just by showing up. But the price in stress, in emptiness, in lack gets higher and higher and higher each day I give part of myself away.

Oy, When Will People Learn Names Are Important!

"Early this morning, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) announced that
former state police superintendent Gerald Massengill will lead that independent review."
Folks, it's rip and read time. Oy, if names affect how you feel about an individual, here's one we could do without as independent reviewer on the Virginia Tech murders.

April 17, 2007

Breaking Points

Invisible points on the interior compass of behavior.

Why is it?

Why is it? Why is it that mass murderers kill themselves after killing all their victims? Why not before and save everyone else all the heartache. I wish I knew so I could try to figure out how to stop them first. There is a movement actually to identify kids who harm animals as potential mass murders but I am not sure that is really going to work in all cases. And given our dismal public school track record on identifying and helping bullies before they hurt others again, I doubt it will ever be corrected. Meanwhile, here is a website on bullies that may be worth the read.... http://www.bullyonline.org/


What bothers me today in the after-math of yesterday? Tipster lines for police. Tipster lines for colleges to report troubled youth. Tipster lines for public schools. Our local school system used to have an anonymous tipster line to call if a student witnessed or felt something was about to happen. I looked for that phone number today -- just in case -- and it wasn't online anymore. So now if someone makes my kid feel uncomfortable, if somehow there is a threat or a student paints a threatening sign on a locker, I have no one to call.

Both of my girls have had run-ins with bullies. I have to trust the school to find the person who hurt her and punish them appropriately. I don't trust anymore. All too often students who bully get off easy. Lunch time detention or a stern talking to. It may not be easy to pass students who do poor school work but it seems all too easy to let students who harm others move on to higher grades to get them out of the administrators hair. Less pain for the administrative people, more pain for the rest of us.

The Sand Shifting beneath our Collective Feet

Virginia Tech could have been any college, any state, any country. The tragedy is that it happened at all -- anywhere. The bigger tragedy is that this kind of death happens throughout the world -- in Darfur, in Gaza, in Israel, in Africa, in Iraq -- all the time. And there really are only a few news agencies that cover these losses. Now there is a killing in South America of 19 individuals. And the beat just keeps going on and on and on. As a sometime animal rescuer, I find this lack of concern for humans disturbing. It is deplorable to ignore animals. It is worse to ignore humans.

Oblivion and Final Journeys

Oblivion. Each of us chooses how to block out senselessness in our lives. I choose to rescue animals and write. Sadly, in avoiding what makes me sad, I avoid people I wanted to get to know better. I should be seeking the grace of their presence to bless my own life.

Virginia Tech Observation

I was glued to the computer today watching the convocation from Virginia Tech. Confronted with the senselessness of these murders, the strudents' bravery and grace is inspiring. I only hope we don't expect too much from them. Politicians trying to make political hay from their hardship of loss. As a society and as humans we all want to help and to understand. But most of all, we need to allow the students and hokies the space to heal.

Prospective Proposals

Modest proposals. Prospective jurors need to be asked whether their health will allow them to serve on a jury. Those who have stress induced headaches or who cannot handle small spaces and being pressured need to be excused without exception. Prospective jurors need to be encouraged to speak up when they feel they won't be impartial. Prospective jurors need to let the court do the job of selecting who goes into the jury box instead of who is first in line. No shoving to get to the head of the line going into the courtroom.

April 16, 2007

The Naked Ape

Desmond Morris,The Naked Ape. http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Ape-Zoologists-Study-Animal/dp/0385334303 What a stir that book caused back in the 1960s. My mother was glued to that book when it came out. And as outrageous as the book was, subsequent history proved the author right. Man is a killing ape. And killing never stops. Death never takes a holiday. Those poor students at Virginia Tech. Those poor families. My heart grieves no matter what the final answer is on how this all went down. It is just too sad.

Stress as a Slaughterhouse Chute

From birth to the final berth of the grave. Increasingly, I find myself on a human version of the slaughterhouse chute. Sometimes it is a traffic lane I need to keep my car inside. Sometimes it is answering questions. Sometimes it is rushing to log into the computer's automatic log in database. However it happens, when life narrows for me I feel threatened. And last week's duty at the courthouse was no exception. I went from the vast expanse of the parking garage to the walkway leading up to the court. However, the courthouse is being renovated so to enter the building you actually have to go through a lightless canvas passageway created by scaffolding and blocked off with police tape. Then through the metal detectors and then into the jury room. To get to the courtroom, 30 people crowd onto an elevator and we all troop down to a tiny courtroom. By the time I get into the room I am so tense from being chuted one place to the next I have a myofascially induced stress migraine. Stress kills just as surely as drugs or a gun. It just takes longer and is invisible.

Just the Facts Ma'am...

Tonight's Law and Order had a phrase "just tell the truth and you'll be ok." But whose truth? What are the consequences of telling the truth? It reminds me of the warnings I was told last week at voir dire. The judge and the attorneys asked the jurors tons of questions about whether we could be impartial. When I was asked if I could be impartial, I said no. So the attorneys and I trooped up to the judge where I told them I'd already made a snap judgment on the case. I told the truth. Was it what the judge wanted to hear? Was it what the attorneys wanted to hear? I couldn't tell. I only know it took guts for me to admit that I couldn't be the perfect juror. There is a not so subtle pressure in the jury box to say "sure, I am just as good as the next man," "sure I can be impartial," or "what will the other people think if I admit I have an opinion." Just the truth...yeah, sure. And yet, in a way that's right. By telling my personal truth and not what the "system" wanted to hear, I set myself free. All it cost was letting go of my attachment to how it looked to others.

Omnivorous Reading v. Carnivorous Eating

I am drifting towards vegetarianism. I have not fully converted myself but am less likely to eat beef and fish and more likely to eat eggs and cottage cheese. I still eat chicken but am trying to phase that out as well. Sadly though I still do eat and I wonder whether eating cheese means that cows give birth to little cows who are slaughtered so I can drink their mom's milk. Sigh. So to help me get over being carnivorous I read Buddhist texts by Buddhist writers about the impermanence of things. Here is one I am reading right now.
Thich Nhat Hanh quotations


This is a bad year for survivability so far. From my brother-in-law to friends of my daughter and now to news reports of 30+ dead at Virginia Tech. Life is unpredictable. I can't blame this year on my horoscope. I wish I could. I can't blame it on sunspots. I wish I could do that. I can't even blame it on politicians who are full of hot air. I wish I knew who I could blame so I could say a brocha for them. If you are Jewish, you know the kind: "God bless and keep ____ far away from me." But I don't know. I am grateful I found this organization http://www.caringbridge.org/ though just in case the worst happens and I need to keep the family informed. It seems to be a reasonable website.

Finding Talents from an "Oh, That's Nothing"

You know the phrase... Oh, That's Nothing. That's a sure fire way to find the things you do easily, effortlessly. Talents. Now as I go forward I am looking that the things I say "Oh, that's nothing." So looking for "nothings" means "something."

April 15, 2007

Bad Weather

Waves of Wind are gusting all around tonight. As they whistle around the windows and irritate the windchimes, my cats cluster closer. The closest definition I could find for a winter disturbance like this is the word: extratropical cyclone or Nor'easters, named for the strong northeasterly winds blowing in ahead of the storm, are also referred to as extratropical cyclones. A winter-time hurricane. http://www.mcwar.org/articles/noreasters/NorEasters.html

Meanwhile, hug those closest to you -- whether in fact or in memory or in prayer. Let them know you care. Blessings ...

Lights when Dark

Light on a gloomy night. Mostly when I am glum, I need to light more than just my computer screen. I need to actually turn on lights to fight the gloom.

The Dresden Files by James Barker

From Spenser to the Dresden Files...I love tv that is based on books.

It's not easy being Green

"It's not easy being green," Kermit would sing. He was right then and he is right now. The new green movement as led by Al Gore and Robert Redford does not inspire confidence. Perhaps it is because I have been there and done that through the years and seen corporate greed and waste on a global scale increase while all I have done is pittance. Here in DC where buses that run on natural gas when John Q. Public can't get access to it, where prices to gas climb to over $3.00 leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I have no idea whether this green movement will do any good and every expectation that it will just be a new scam and so no hope for the survival of us long-term. Hopefully, I am wrong. Hopefully, it is just this bad case of the glums I have. Hopefully ... firms will get involved like this one I just found http://klm-solutions.com/

April 14, 2007

Weaving Musical Magic

Beginnings. Baroque music was my first musical love. It still is although many of the heavy rock and emo bands catch my attention. There is something magical in the way the music weaves from woodwind to string and back again. Calm and contained yet spritely.

Fixing Window Frames and Life

Dogs love to chew. Bored dogs chew more than most. Boredom is tough on everyone. Recently my window frame which was chewed by the prior tenant's bored pit bull puppies was fixed. But I have no idea when the contractor came. It is odd that I wait and wait for something to be done and then when it is I don't even notice it. Maybe it isn't odd at all though. Perhaps it is like recovering from illness. One day I hurt, the next day I hurt, the third day I think I hurt because that's what I usually do, and the fourth day I realize the pain is gone. I just wasn't aware that it was done. Profound thoughts for mundane things. Happy Saturday, folks! Now where did I put the contractors' number so I can thank them? Hmmm.

April 13, 2007

Counting Blessings Instead of Woes

Counting blessings just sounds sappy, I know. I thought so too. I really did. It seemed so useless when I started my journey. Now it is an essential part of how I dig myself out of pain. So my count tonight is I have got my fingers and toes, I don't need my woes. My count is my back aches but is whole. My count is being able to be there for life instead of being invisible.

Finding Fun

Fun ... do any of us know what that is anymore? We are all so programmed to be busy all the time. Do this, do that, drive here, drive there and don't forget to pay the bills. I suspect it is more learning to have fun with the one I am with which is me mostly. So what is fun? For me, writing, drawing, reading, watching old movies, researching odd facts, patting cats are fun. Oh, and driving on new roads I don't know. That's fun too. I love finding old places and pretty farms.

Sitting with

Sitting with ... whatever emotion I have at the moment. Right now it is concern for a sick kid. Right now it is worry that my healthy kid is having fun at an ice skating party. Right now ... the only control I have over things is in my reaction to them. I want to worry about both my girls. I want to tell them to be well, to have fun, to be ... content with their lives. And the fact is, folks, I only have control over myself. So I sit here tonight. Mentally wiping the fears off of me so I can work on whatever it is I need to do. Sitting. See my link to the Commit to Sit movement that Tricycle is sponsoring. It is well worth the read.

Marking Time

Marking Time. Calendars, water clocks and sundials all mark time. Spring is a season that fools me into marking time faster. Waiting for that first perfect daffodil, that first perfect spring rain misting the plants and grass, that first warm sunspot to linger in as I go about my errands. I wait, I wait impatiently trying to read the celestial signs -- is it going a hot spring or a cold summer, a dry season or one full of wet shoes. Kids mark time too. Only in the spring of their lives they mark time with going out with their friends or as they grow older with going into the army or to college. Marking time with dances, marking time with college applications, marking time to have fun. Now with the kids growing older, I realize that releasing them to be themselves is perhaps the biggest gift I can give them. The gift of them finding themselves. So yes, mark time, measure it however you want, but enjoy each second deeply. Otherwise, you just fooling yourself. Marking time but forgetting to live. What a waste...

Destructive Behavior

We all have destructive behaviors. From Don Imus to people I see every day -- We are all train wrecks waiting to happen if we don't read the signs and stay on the track. It is very boring to follow the rules, though, but essential in the long run. So take care of yourselves. You are the only one ultimately who will.

Slang and Imus

Slang and the downfall of Don Imus. Love him or hate him, Don Imus represents all that is crude in today's society. He says what other people think and like the little kid who said the Emperor had no clothes, he gets away with it. But the downfall was what I rail against daily, viz, the coarsening of daily discourse. What am I talking about? I mean conversation has sunk to such a level that my kids call their friends "ho"s and think nothing of it. Personally, the "ho" word offends me deeply and that's just when I hear my kids use it. For a public figure to use it to describe a girls' basketball team not only insults the players but every woman every where. Not only young girls like the basketball players, but women every age. For shame, Don, for shame. A glib mouth and being allowed to get away with verbal assaults has finally bitten you back.

April 12, 2007

Feeling Less Like a Ghost These Days

I am a recovering ghost. No. Don't laugh. I have a hard time getting people to notice me. I used to disappear in front of my kids. I used to disappear in front of people at work. It is a very handy skill to have when I am walking down a rough street. Sadly, though, the street people near my job are invisible too so we all see each other. That's a joke, folks. As with any 12 step program, I didn't start to get better until I admitted that I was a ghost and I had a problem not being heard, seen or felt in my own life. Since then I have become more visible -- not only to others but to myself. And that is very good thing.

Tapping to Heal

Fear, Adrenalin and anxiety disorder. Adrenalin which helps us run away from danger is a memory enhancer. So, where do we store remembered fear? Apparently, in the brain somewhere. After 9/11, I first heard of psychotherapists using a type of desensitization for survivors which involved tapping the face to release fears. Although I respected the research and its results, this article is the best I have seen on explaining why it seems to work. http://www.psychotherapy-center.com/energy-psychology-ruden-paper2-2005.html

Electromagnetic Sensitivity and Ghosts

Bumpkum, I hear you blurt. Personally, I agree with you. The Science Channel had a show on this morning discrediting paranormal sightings. If you believe them, these hauntings are caused by houses being in the wrong location. Granite absorbs energy and under the right circumstances releases electromagnetic fields which cause humans living in the house to see things and for things in the house to move about independently. The investigators of the show even went so far as to accuse a man who lives in a haunted house of doing the haunting himself. Here is the program description: MegaScience Ghosthunters TV-PG, CC Do you believe in ghosts? To those who claim to have seen them, there's no question ghosts are alive and active in our everyday lives. Others flat out deny their very existence. Now scientists say there may be an alternative explanation.
Humph!!! Alternative explanation!!! I lived in a haunted house. I've got personally experienced stories. Not hearsay. Direct contact. My house was nowhere close to granite, power lines, or other things. Grrrr. And we had those incidents until my mom had the back porch where two spinsters hung themselves torn off the house. Grrrr. It just irritates the hell out of me when scientists try to say this stuff doesn't exist.

For an interesting website that is about ghosts try the shadowlands. http://theshadowlands.net/places/

Troubling Trouble

Cancer (June 21 - Jul 22)
You may be worried about the consequences of your feelings today as you realize the significant practical ramifications of them.
You probably don't know yet how it will all work out, so thinking about the ramifications of expressing yourself can be a bit scary.
Keep in mind that your emotions always impact your life, whether you say anything or not, but it's pointless to hide them now.

I always check my horoscope. While I believe in never troubling trouble, until trouble troubles me, I like to know when a train is going to hit me. Sometimes my horoscope is really in left field. Sometimes it is spooky good. Today's a pretty accurate reflection of what I am feeling. Today I watched everyone around me wrestle with feelings. Maybe it is the phase of the moon. Maybe it is pre-tax season which tenses everyone up. Whatever it is, today was full of a lot of people troubling trouble and getting tense.

April 11, 2007

Public Perception Private Pain

The 4 Ps. Keep a still upper lip, don't ask, don't tell, Henry James, Golden Bowl, fashion, never tell family secrets, always keep private things private. And the list could go on and on and on. It is really a battle for Congruence between the physical outside and the emotional inside. The last stanza of Moody Blues' lyrics to "Nights in White Satin" is really the best I have read on the eternal struggle:
Breathe deep the gathering gloom
Watch lights fade from every room
Bed sitter people look back and lament
Another day's useless energy is spent
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love and has none
New mother picks up and suckles her son
Senior citizens wish they were young
Cold-hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight
Red is grey and yellow white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion

Between Fear and Love

How did my day go today?
When did my yesterdays run away?
And where did they go?
Only through Reflection, will I Know

Back Away from Snap Judgments

Arrrgh, voir dire. Given the tinnitus, when I listen, do I hear? Given my migraines, when I look, do I see? Given my emotions, when I hurt, do my feelings cause the pain? All too often, I get migraines or myofascial spasms when I feel trapped. Yesterday's civic exercise in jury duty voir dire was a classic in feeling trapped. Today is not so bad. The illusion of having control lessens my pain.

Journeys' End

The end to life's journey is usually in a cemetery. Being an amalgam, I am not at all sure where I will be comfortable. Cre-mains, re-mains, cemeteries - jewish or public, buddhist collumbariums, no clue. So today the first step on that journey meant picking up the phone to find out whether I would qualify for a cemetery near me that is old and downtown and quaint. And then I found a website called www.GraveSolutions.com which gives prices for graves. And thought of the phrase: Birth to Berth.

Berth — Infoplease.com
He has tumbled into a nice berth. A nice situation or fortune. The place in which a ship is anchored is called its berth, and the sailors call it a good or bad berth as they think it favourable or otherwise. The space also allotted to a seaman for his hammock is called his berth. (Norman, berth, a cradle.) Dictionary of Phrase and Fable , E. Cobham Brewer, 1894 .

April 10, 2007

Taking a Stand on "I"

Curse you, big I!!
I like to think I can hear other sides of a story without pre-judging. Hah!! Most of the time that thinking gets me into trouble. Key word: "I" The more "I"s in my writing, the more EGO and hurt PR*I*DE.

Mood Follows Action

Whatever it takes, when the glums come around, I need to grab a bunch of jellybeans and go for a drive. Usually I go out to sit with the cats at www.foha.org and then drive a new way home. The longer the drive, the better I feel. Just do it!

Miami Ink

I love bold drawings that tell a story. I am a design freak. Miami Ink tattos are just so tempting. I believe in the power of drawings to bring closure to things that are painful. Tattos are not for me but I can enjoy the view.

Miyazaki -- Awesome Director

When looking at films I love, I find often they have the same director. Such is the case with Howl's Castle, Spirited Away and others I haven't seen yet. He is called the Japanese Walt Disney but I have to disagree. Disney was never as lyrical.


Thayer News

The things I find. I love the web. Here is the autobiographical information on Thayer. It turns out he also wrote "Casey at the Bat". Just goes to show I never knew my sports or I would have remembered his name better. http://www.poemhunter.com/ernest-lawrence-thayer/biography/

Smiling Dragons

Tada!!! After much searching I found the phrase that nailed me to the writers' bench years ago. American Heritage published it in the 1960's or 70's. It was written by Ernest Thayer in the 1880's. I found it online in GER's Favorite Quotes. Here is the full quote which started me off yearning to write and write well:

"We have reached the age, those of us to whom fortune
has assigned a post in life's struggle,
when beaten and smashed and biffed by
the lashing of the dragon's tail,
we begin to appreciate that the old man
was not such a fool after all.
We saw our parents wrestling with the same dragon, and we
thought, though we never spoke the thought aloud,
'Why don't he hit him on the head?'
Alas, comrades, we know now.
We have hit the dragon on the head
and we have seen the dragon smile."
-- Ernest Lawrence Thayer, at his tenth reunion at Harvard ,
re-published American Heritage, 1976.

When looking for Dragons

When looking for dragons, be sure to stop and say hello. One particular dragon is in this book "There's NO Such Thing as a DRAGON." This is a child's unerring pointing at the adults in his life who tell him to ignore reality. It is a marvelous parable for our times. Enjoy and attend to the dragons who are in your life. They only want to be told they exist.

William Graham Sumner and NPR

NPR recently reminded about the summers I used to read the American Heritage magazines cover to cover. And reading William Graham Sumner made American Heritage special. He is a truly classic writer with all the phrases that thrill me. And given the link below, he is very much on point for the discussion about education. Here is the link. Read him for yourself. And Enjoy the prose.

Howl's Castle

I have finally seen the beginning of Howl's Castle. Wow. Ten minutes makes a huge difference in the wonderful film. I am even more in love with it. The premise is how does a plucky young girl cursed by the Witch of the West into instant old age conquer her fear of being ugly. And best of all, she has a young wizard fall in love with her. It is marvelous. Here is link. Enjoy for yourself. http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/howl/ I especially love the music both in the songs and in the background. It is just a fantastic movie.

April 9, 2007

Be Water, My Friend

Be Water, My Friend....Bruce Lee: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/bruce_lee/
These have classic quotes from the mind of Bruce Lee. What makes them classic? Because they are timeless. They could have been written 2000 years ago, today, or somewhere in between. They are just as true for me as they were for him. That's my criteria for classic quotes.

The Solace of Spiritual Salts

After a colonoscopy, I have learned two things. (1) I like the taste of the solution. Call me weird, others would agree with you. and (2) Eat salt for regularity. I have also started to think that spiritual salts would be good whenever I have deep doubts about what to do next. Those salts are called prayer and meditation. And when I need to find the answer fast, without doubt, I use a dowsing thread with a bead or a crystal or a button at the end of it. Here is a link to a very good description of dowsing for self-knowledge...

Public Access to Research

This is a petition for access to publicly funded research. Apparently, we now need to have petitions for knowledge. I just think that to deny access to research done with money from public funds is wrong, wrong and (did I say?) wrong. It is important not only to know what was done with the public funds but to be able to see whether the scientists are actually allowed to do research on important things like global warming. After the dismissal of the 8 United States attorneys and the reports from the EPA scientists who reported pressure not to go public with their reports of global warming, I believe it is very important to know that we (John Q. Public) are getting the work we pay for.

Creative Computer Koans

A really nice and funny Zen website can be found at http://www.do-not-zzz.com/

Invisible Cobwebs of Stress

In addition to viral and bacterial disease, I know for sure that stress causes its' own share of illness. Asthma, chronic pain, migraines ... these are all stress related illnesses.
No doubt about it, modern life is stressful. But stress itself? It is invisible. It is as see-through as habits of thought and reaction to events. Stress doesn't show up until a temper snaps, a pencil breaks, a child hits, or a parent yells. So: How to keep the cobwebs from gathering? Spring cleaning, spiritual thought, meditating helps.

April 8, 2007

Peer Group Pressure

Why is it we all need to feel like we belong? What happens when no one wants you in those groups? I say without pride I never belonged to those groups. I was the one no one picked. I was the band freak before it was popular. I was the preppy before it was cool. So now when I see ads for websites like the newest over 50 years one at http://www.eons.com/, I have a lot of consumer resistence. These clowns didn't want me before. Why should I bother with them now? In all honesty, however, I owe those popular kids a huge debt. They made my life as a free thinker possible. If I had been sucked into the popularity vortex, I would not be who I am today.

FivL Cats

Today I helped out at the Friends of Homeless Animals FivL Cat Shelter. www.foha.org I have said it before and I'll say it again, FivL cats are the friendliest felines I have ever met. All they want to do is snuggle into laps. They will even share lapspace with their housemates. FOHA has about 17 cats at any given time who are FivL positive. The shelter is one of the few that believes in rescuing FivL cats. Most vets and shelters will put them down just as soon as they learn they are sick. And that's such a shame.

April 7, 2007


Life is a bumpy road. Pain happens, life happens, joy happens, death happens. Letting go of the pain is a journey to trust that life without pain is somehow not scarey. That I can float on the ocean of awareness without needing pain to drive me to create. What will that feel like -- to trust myself? to trust life? to trust those around me? So the koan for the night? What is the feeling of no pain?

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, folks.
May we all know peace.

Unintended Consequences

There oughta be a law.

Unintended consequences dog the unenlightened. From the depths of World War II extinguishing so many people to the population boom. And now the baby boom generation. From choosing gasoline energy over batteries to power early cars. Each day we deal with choices that were set down for us long before we born. Add to that mix, our own choices as we choose from what we are given. Choices which haunt all of us. Global warming, political corruption, bottom line economics. Those are just the public issues. The private choices are far more devastating because they affect us personally. So choose but choose when wide awake.

Journeys start with a single step

I went to a massage therapist today. I had never been to one before. I am really hopeful that this will work on unkinking my muscles. Today's session was really good. Very comforting. Very enlightening. It is a journey and as with all journeys it is good to have company on the way.

April 6, 2007


Somtimes things don't work out the way I expect, they actually work out better. I just have to allow life to unfold instead of trying to stop it from flowing. Damming up creates lakes of pain inside which crinkle me up. So tomorrow I go, I go, to the un-crinkle person. Hurray!

Inarticulate and Learning to Love Electronics

My mind wanders ... what was I writing about again? Oh, my mind wanders. When I write by hand it is much worse. So, for good or bad, I have learned to love my computers. My Google HomePage has little goldfish that play with me. No, really! The fish swim toward my pointer. Bliss. My own real fish don't do that. But these do and they are amazing. Gadgets are such a help when they work. And even when they don't it helps me remember to stay humble. And that's not such a bad thing to be reminded of ...

Loneliness and Being Alone

I guess I have evolved. I used to think being alone meant I would be lonely. But that's not true. When I am alone now, I am perfectly whole. Whole instead of ragged with holes from self-doubt, self-involvement, self-judging. Whole is good. Empty ... that's the yang of the yin of Whole for me. Still working on that concept from the TaiChi pose of filling all my weight into the foot that is holding me up--leaving the other leg empty. I am ok if I use the Eastern view of empty. The western view of empty is ... grim.

Why is it?

Indelible smiles. I wish. To get one just click on an old Mr. Rogers show where he is feeding baby ducks. Sweet, sweet, sweet stuff. Beats Peeps even for smiles that linger on the mind if not the mouth. Why is it that smiles don't last? Perhaps a lack of sweet smiles is my problem... All I know is Mr. Rogers was amazing. And oddly enough, I used to cringe at it. Perhaps I am finally lightening up....or growing up... http://www.fci.org/broadcastcalendar.asp?date=4/6/2007
Friday, April 6, 2007
The McFeelys have baby ducklings; video of ducklings hatching. (#1700)
Parenting Tip: Look at your child's baby pictures -- talk about the growing and changing your child has done since then.

April 5, 2007

The Big Sit-Down

Passover means many things. One of them is a huge meal. A seder. If you go to any of them, be sure to bring alka-seltzer for dessert because you are going to eat too much. That's one of the unspoken rules of seders. Another rule is to have tons of guests. Old, young and in-between all engage in communal kvetch-ing. So pass the Tulkoffs.

Grim but Good

Planning for death is on the internet now. Many of the websites are just plain weird. But here are a few worth the effort of looking at. From Plan It Your Way which sounds like a Burger King commercial to others: http://www.thefuneraldirectory.com/planityourway/default.asp

Death just doesn't take a holiday and doesn't have a schedule. So here are some other sites I am looking at to stay focused on this issue.
First is Necrosys Laboratories: Taphophilia Taphophilia is a love of all things related to cemeteries, mausoleums, crypts, ... TAPHOPHILIA: A love of cemeteries, graveyards, and burying grounds.

An even more detailed is another site is called: http://www.taphophilia.com/modules.php?name=News But frankly, it is a website in flux and I don't know how long this link will remain active.

Daily Life and Paying Attention

From today's Beliefnet: Buddhist Daily Sayings...

Attention is living; inattention is dying.
The attentive never stop;
the inattentive are dead already.
Dhammapada 21, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

April 4, 2007

The Obvious and The Invisible

We are all creatures of habit and I am no exception. That got pointed out to me early today as I attempted yet again to get the security card to operate the elevator. This time I decided to take issue with the fact that the elevator was misbehaving and went to the Director of Mechanical Items (not his real title). He was a very nice fellow and wanted to borrow my key card to see if it was working. I asked to go along with him so I could observe exactly what he did when he used the card. And, tada, he held it differently than I do. When I hold the card just like he does, it works. When I hold the card my way -- it doesn't work. Weird but true. So now I hold the card the way he did and it works for me too.

Habit is a funny thing. Things we all do habitually become Unconscious and Invisible. It is not until we mindfully attend to the details of life that difficult situations get resolved.

Peep, Peep, Peep?

For more peeps and laughs and smiles, scurry over to the link above. I just found it.

April 3, 2007

Cats and Perching

Cats love to perch. It is a known fact. My cats like to steal each other's perching places. And I think it is adorable how innocent they act when the owner of the perch comes over to me to complain. La-de-da-de-dah, I almost hear the cat in possession of the perch chirp. Ha. It makes me laugh.

GPS Systems and The Closer

Tonight's Closer made me stop and think. The program was about an autistic teenager who was obsessed with locations. Specifically, his father's GPS system. Sadly, his father was killed in the program and the child asked "Where is Death?" so he could orient himself. That chance line brought me to my computer to orient myself given all the deaths that have been hitting the family.

Lewis Carroll and Age

The older I get, the more words I need to commit to memory. Pulmonary distress, gastric reflux, embolisms, fissures and now fistulas. All are becoming a new vocabulary for me. Mind you, as a word nerd, I love these things. Cool ways of spelling ugly conditions and making them seem pretty. If only that were true.

Perhaps if I looked old, these things would be tolerable because old people get them. I just don't look old enough ... Personally, I am rooting for looking old because it will give me the acceptance I need to deal with aging issues for my body instead of denying it by looking at my body image.

Until then I will re-read the classic Lewis Carroll comment on old age:
Lewis Carroll: You Are Old, Father William

One Size Fits All-On Getting Old

Siz-ism. One size fits all. One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small. But the ones I get over the counter do nothing at all. Oh, the not so Fun-gi-ble-ness of Life. My shoulder hurts today so I am in no mood to put up with much that is stupid. I will have to take more medicine to deal with it and then read lips for the rest of the day because the amount of medicine it takes to quell the pain makes my tinnitus worse. Must find someone from the list of energy workers I have to help me deal with this. I have put off getting help until now because I kept excusing my body's bad behavior. Arrggh


Excuses!! From Watergate to last week I hear excuses all the time. From "Smoked but didn't inhale" to Mr. Samson's self-serving appearance before Congress to ..... Excuse, after excuse, after excuse, after ... I am tired of hearing them. Bad behavior from High Officials to our peer group angers me.

Don't get me wrong. I am just as guilty of excusing my own bad behavior. But I work hard these days on being accountable. Accountable for my actions as well as for my inactions. However as a society, I think we excuse too much bad behavior. We use the alphabet of woes to justify why we behave so badly. Pardon me while I root around to dig up those wonderful lines in the siddur for Kol Nidre.

Great Expectations

I am disappointed in my generation and the one just before me. In many ways we have served ourselves first rather than served society. I say this not because we don't deserve the social services or the other things we have come to believe are our rights. I say this because we have inflated society the same way many of us inflated our lungs with illegal substances back when we were in college. Bill Clinton says he never inhaled but plenty of others did. We are all hooked on the highs in life -- higher salaries, better houses, bigger Mercedes, better colleges and so on and so forth.

Maybe life has always been this way. After all, King David was never satisfied. He and Bathsheba certainly created many waves -- and not all of them in that fabled bathtub. So perhaps this sorry old world is in fact just exactly the way it is supposed to be and I just never paid attention before. Sigh.

Shadow Games

Shadow games. My cats play them with curtains, with sunlight onto the wall and in ways I haven't figured out. And everytime I see these shadows the cats cast I think of how grace shadows me around surrounding me with peace. Happy Passover, folks....

April 1, 2007

The Life Boat Policy

Rescue and Law Firm mergers really are very similar. Rescue has many parts to it. First - perhaps most invisible because it is most obvious -- is this: Don't sink your own boat when pulling animals or lawyers out of bad situations. With cats (if you rent) you can rescue yourself right out of your rental. With lawyers the possibility of a hostile takeover must be first and foremost in your mind. A friend today quickly goes away in the "what have you done for me lately" atmosphere of 'eat what you kill' that rules law firms these days.

One of the Reasons I Draw

Here is a drawing I just did. It is a cat and a snail. Ok, ok, I know I am no artist. But there is a story between these two creatures. I just haven't been told it yet. One of the reasons I search for serenity is to hear the stories the drawings or tv or chance thoughts tell me. Oh, no, I don't hear voices. But I do get inspirations. So stay involved in what you are doing, keep open to new insights and start to draw either with words or with pens. Bon Chance...

Cat Drool...


The site above is by a vet who counsels on what drool means in healthy and unhealthy cats. Frankly, though, I never realized that cats drooled until my sister told me. She specializes in cats and I specialized in dogs until the past year. So much of what I know is from resources like my sister, messybeast and massive amounts of remedial reading. But I must admit I feel right at home with the idea of drooling cats.


Mysteries. Fear 'em or love 'em. It is hard to be unemotional about them. Does the Loch Ness Monster exist? Is the Ark of the Covenant somewhere in Ethiopia? It is not so much that I do not care. On the contrary, I care very much. What I am uneasy about is this modern quest to understand and rid the world of mystery. In some ways, mystery is an integral part of acceptance. And acceptance fundamentally is a part of serenity. I am not ready to say that there is a final answer to any part of my life -- thank you very much.

Where has all the Hard Porn Gone?

I am reminded of an old protest song, Where have all the flowers gone? as I write this post. I find more hard core porn on the television than ever these days. I try to avoid it. I really do. I watch the history channel which interrupts itself to sell erectile dysfunction pills. I try to watch the news and hear language from the newscasters that would have made Frank McGee blush. I try to watch programs like Law & Order and am accosted at 7 pm with compromising situations. Eeewwww! I know that Tom Lehrer used to make fun of the morality officers of the 1960s, Take the Wizard of Oz -- there's a dirty old man and lay the presumption of dirty language and filthy movies off on the viewer's own world view. But censors have their place and clearly no longer work in the newsrooms and casting areas of the country. Perhaps they work for the military now telling us how well we are doing? Or perhaps they work in Homeland Security telling us how safe we are? I only know ain't no one home doing the work those folks used to do back in my day.

Soft Porn

Perhaps I am too old. I am, after all, a card carrying AARP-er. But the emphasis since Clinton's escapade in the White House on sex has increased enormously. When the Clinton scandal was all over the newpapers and television, I cut off our subscriptions to both of them. I did not want to deal with awkward and inconvenient questions from my young children. Now my children probably know more about sex than I ever will and I am still upset by the sex in commercials, in the news, on the internet, in magazine ads -- in short everywhere.

Humans were not designed to be bunnies. If that were so, we'd have long floppy ears and a pouf of a tail and go hopping about. We were designed to do more than fornicate or talk about manners, ways and how many fornications we had. I find it dismaying that the best minds in Hollywood and advertising are sunk so low. Ads for intimate lotions should be banned as well as ads for E.D. Those are issues that need to stay on an individual level between friends, between lovers, between doctors and patients. They should not be touted on the television by drug companies trying to sell disease so sell their product.

Architecture, Arches and Loss

Drawing strength from what isn't there is an architectural concept perhaps most visible in the magnificent groin arches of the medieval churches. The fulcrum, the archstone, the curve compensate for the additional bricks that are not there. Perhaps looking at loss as a source of strength is similar to the use of the curve and arch in church architecture. Perhaps what isn't there in our lives anymore will strengthen us as we go forward in our lives.

Cats Curled Capture Cuteness

Cats are very self-conscious. If I catch my guys doing something cute and they notice that I notice, they immediately get up and do something else. I need to carry my camera phone with me at all times to surreptitiously click and capture the moment. In a way, my feelings are the same. The instant I notice I am "feeling" happy, sad, angry, envy, that is the instant I realize I am no longer feeling that emotion anymore. So who is up for buying psychic cameras to "Capture the Feeling."

Hungry Spirits called Death

Death is a hungry spirit. Just when I think someone is inexhaustible and will forever go on, they become deathly ill. Today it is my mother-in-law. Last week it was my brother. The week before that it was my brother-in-law and death took him away entirely. Pagans had their sacrifices to keep the gods satisfied. But that is not an option for me. Be well out there. Pull those you love close to you. Tell them you love them (if, indeed, you do). Because only this instant is life. Only this instant can you choose to feel serenity, anger, pain, love, joy or whatever emotion you care to experience. Only this instant is life. Use it wisely but enjoy it deeply.