Sunday, May 29, 2005

Saying Yes To The Moment

Just Say 'Yes' to the Moment
The Chinese word for busy is 'heart-killing,' which is one reason why Tara Brach believes we should all learn how to slow down.
Interview by Lisa Schneider

Tara BrachTara Brach, Ph.D., a meditation instructor and clinical psychologist, was raised Unitarian and at age 21, joined an ashram, where she lived for 10 years. When she discovered Buddhism, she was happy to find that it offered her "a profound accepting and opening to the depths of who I was" vs. the sense of striving for perfection she had experienced in the ashram. The founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Tara has practiced and taught meditation since 1975, and is the author of "Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha." We caught up with Tara at "Being Fearless" an Omega Institute conference held in New York last month.

You write that traditional Western psychotherapy tends to hone in on what's gone wrong in an individual's past, and Eastern practices can help you get to the heart of "what's right".

I would say both Western psychology and Eastern paths would recognize that we get caught up in feeling like a separate self and an unworthy self. I call it "the trance of unworthiness" because it's like our whole reality shrinks and we get very self-centered in our idea of "I'm a deficient self, I need to be better." That takes our life energy.

I think the reason Buddhism and Western psychology are so compatible is that Western psychology helps to identify the stories and the patterns in our personal lives, but what Buddhist awareness training does is it actually allows the person to develop skills to stay in what's going on. It's learning to stay. In our culture especially, our reflex when it's uncomfortable is to leave and we get busy. The Chinese word for busy is "heart-killing." Isn't that amazing?

So what we do when we get anxious and insecure is we speed up. We get busy: we get addicted to email, we get addicted to being online, we get addicted to food and drugs, we get addicted to talking to other people--not just to communicate but just to keep busy. Buddhist practices offer a way of saying, Hey, come back over here, reconnect. The only way that you'll actually wake up and have some freedom is if you have the capacity and courage to stay with the vulnerability and the discomfort.

Meditation helps us to pay attention so that we can directly realize and trust the goodness that's there. We actually begin to recognize that who we are is awareness, who we are is love, and our sense of identity shifts in such a fundamental way that it actually challenges the small-self story.

What do you mean by "small-self"?

The perception that we are separate and deficient. One of the metaphors I always find helpful is that our being is like an ocean and we get identified with different waves, like different weather systems that go through, like we get identified with fear or clinging or certain thoughts and if we can recognize those waves but remember our oceanness, really remember who we are, remember the innate radiance of our mind, the tenderness, then we can be with the changing weather systems, the waves, but not get caught up in them, not lose sight of who we are.

One of the teachings I love the most from the Buddha is, "Our fear is great, but greater yet is the truth of our connectedness." So we can remember our belonging at any moment—even facing death—if we can remember the love that holds us. Then we can actually face living and dying and have something that's large enough to hold us.

One of the reasons I was so drawn to writing about radical acceptance is because we spend so many moments at war, and we do it in the ways we judge ourselves, we do it in the ways we blame others, we do it in the ways we feel it's our country against that country. There is so much division in this world. So what is really the path of healing? It can begin in this moment, by embracing the life that's here. Because if we can begin to bring a sense of peace and care to the life inside us, naturally the circles widen to include other people. It's the way of the heart—if we can be kind towards ourselves we'll be kind towards others.

This conference is about fear, something you've written a lot about.

The biggest fear we have is that somewhere, we are failing or are going to fail. You can almost say that our personalities are in a large part a way of compensating for fear. We want to show to the world what would be acceptable and loveable. In doing so, we in some way disconnect from the aliveness and authenticity of who we are.

So I really feel like our path should be one of slowing down enough to re-embrace, re-connect with what we've pushed away. One of the simplest ways we can do that is just to intend to say "yes" to what we experience in the moment. I teach that a lot. We can at any moment feel what's going on; just say "yes" to that. It's a practice of truthfulness, we're acknowledging what's real and saying, this is here and meaning that with some kindness and when we do that, when we accept what's in the moment, it actually taps us into the intelligence, the wisdom, the heart that allows us to act more wisely in the future.

One of the great psychologists, Carl Rogers, put it this way, "It wasn't until I accepted myself just as I was in this moment, that I was free to change." So it's a pre-condition to true transformation, is to accept ourselves in the moment.

Why are we so afraid to fail?

Because we think failing means that our biggest fear [will be realized]: that we'll be rejected. And rejection is bad; it severs our belonging. So we do whatever we can to not have that happen.

If deep down we're feeling something's wrong with me, we can't really be intimate with another person. We can't take risks, we can't be creative, it binds our life. So when people start recognizing how much of their life has been imprisoned by that trance of unworthiness, just that recognition with it comes a sense of "Oh, it's possible not to live inside that." And it's very liberating.

When some people talk about accepting themselves they have this fear that they're condoning some bad behavior, or that if they accept themselves, that means they'll never improve. But the truth is, we're not saying, "It's OK that you did that bad thing." All we're accepting is the actuality of our experience in the moment: I'm accepting this shame is here, I'm accepting this fear is here, I'm accepting this anger, I'm accepting that there's craving, I'm accepting the truth just now, that I acted out of that craving and I ate too much. I'm accepting how bad I feel about that. But in the moment of accepting, we're not condoning. We're just acknowledging the truth of what's here with kindness. The reality is, if we can do that, it actually begins to free us so we can in the next moment, be a lot more wise.

Can you tell us about your own practice? Do you meditate every day?

Yes. I meditate 45 minutes in the morning and I catch-as-catch-can through the day.

You're very good at making it a priority.

Yeah, because it's a gift to the soul.

What I believe in for myself and for most of us is that we need to learn to pause more. That we race through the day, it's like we're living our life as if we're on our way to the next thing which means we get to the finish line—death—and we haven't really dropped in and touched what's here. So a lot of my inner training is to pause and reconnect, it means I come back into my body and come back into my life.

I think the two most powerful questions I ask myself are, "What is happening inside me right now?" and "Can I meet this with some kindness?" Just to keep stopping and doing that. Because if I can do that with my own body and heart, then I can show up in the same way and pause and really notice with another person, their vulnerability, that each one of us is scared in different ways. I mean we're all feeling the same stuff. And also their goodness, like I can actually pause and sense that each of us wants to be happy, we want to love without holding back and we want to be free. So it helps me to pause and then move through the day with more awareness.

Does American culture pose particular challenges for Buddhists?

There's a growing number of people that are really waking up and cherishing waking up, people who want to be honest with what's happening and want to live in a genuinely compassionate, tender way. It's a challenging time in that it's very painful to see all this violence there is in the world. It's very painful to see how out of fear and greed and consumption we're destroying the earth.

A number of us won a Buddhist peace fellowship in Washington at the time we were going to war with Iraq because there's a recognition that to be committed to reverence for life, and not harming means that to take a stand in our world, that you can't separate our inner commitment to spirituality from our outer commitment to be part of the healing of the world. And a number of us were arrested; I was arrested before the war started. But the commitment was not to be an anti-war movement that was strident and angry; it was to come from a place of genuine caring about the world and embody that. And so we actually, it was quite a respectful kind of process and it continues to be happening.

So when you ask me about being a Buddhist in the world today, it's not being a Buddhist, it's being a person that loves life and wants to wake up and I feel like, I have many friends in many different religions, we're all holding hands, wanting to wake up together.

Is activism a big part of your life?

Yeah, it is. I don't think of the spiritual path as something that's just on a cushion or in a cave. I feel like we live out our values and our love for life by waking up both in solitude and quiet and also by speaking our truths and doing whatever we can on the planet that'll help us move towards healing.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Good and Evil Collaborating?

I just finished reading "American Gods". A friend recommended it, saying he thought I would like it. He definitely knows my taste- because I absolutely loved it.

It reminded me a lot of Stephen King's The Stand. Good vs. Evil. God vs. Satan. Faith vs. Reality. Red pill vs. Blue pill. People taking sides and being called to fight their "holy war".

(For those who may wish to read it in the future... you may want to skip this entry. I will be talking about the ending!)

I devoured the last 100 or so pages on my flight home from NY. Mostly on the second leg of the trip, enjoying the atmosphere of an occasional bump from turbulence, the dark, and my little overhead light as I read. The ending was not quite what I was thinking, actually a great spin on Good and Evil. Making up a war because deaths will make both sides stronger. Interesting concept.

When I finished, I didn't feel like reading anything else. I couldn't sleep. So I sifted through my iPod looking for something to distract me for the remaining hour or so of the flight. Being the good little fan that I am, I have several Shadowlands plays in my iPod. I decided to listen to "Pride". I guess I wanted to stick with the God theme.

Now, this play really doesn't have anything to do with God. It really has more to do with the arrogance of man than anything else. It takes place during the Inquisitions, and a young priest is charged to investigate a witch trial. While traveling he meets a Friar, and they banter back and forth a bit about God and Satan.

Now I have listened to this story before. I read the book. But having just read the other book, I mused about what was being said. Lucifer, God's most loyal angel, went against him to try and take control of the universe. There was a battle of Good and Evil, and Good won.

But did it? Perhaps we as mortals are just pawns in a game. Perhaps they are working together, pinning man against man in a battle that doesn't even exist. A battle that doesn't need to be there at all. Because our sacrifices, our beliefs as well as our non-beliefs, only make these Gods stronger. Look at our world today. Thousands of different religions, most of them condemning others that do not believe their way. Then there are the "unofficial" religions; Wiccan, Paganism, Satanism... we have religions that believe in God, and some who don't believe in God at all. The entire middle east conflict is one big holy war.

I see God and Satan hidden in the background, Satan laughing joyously. God? Well, I would think that he would feel some remorse in the game he is playing. Yet reluctantly playing the game because he knows this is exactly what keeps him alive. And we all have to make sacrifices, don't we?

Perhaps what we need is a Shadow to come along and tell us that there is no war. To tell us that there is no reason to fight. There is nothing to fight for. To expose our Gods for who they really are.

A few photos from NYC

My walk from the Convention Center with Empire State Bldg. in distance

Me and My Aunt Roberta

Me and my Aunt Debbie

Friday, May 20, 2005

Back to the real world

...and you know, that's ok. I gathered my info, I played around, I saw my family.

It's raining today, and cold. I love this weather! Back home Bret said it is getting close to 110. YUK! Can I stay another week? At least wait out the summer?

Yesterday I did the Met. Excellent. Julie (Thelma to those who read the blog)told me that the Max Ernst exhibit would blow me away. And it certainly did. Pictures in books or off the internet do not do the actual art justice. The colors, the textures, the depth. I was in awe of it. The Diane Arbus exhibit was also excellent. What a quirky photographer. I also had time to wander through my favorite section- medieval and Renaissance. There is never enough time to see everything, so I think forward to the next visit...

Afterwards I met my Aunt Roberta at her office and we met up with my Aunt Deb and cousin for dinner. Then we just hung out all evening, and I packed. The goodbyes were teary- my aunt's cry like a leaky faucet. :-)

Now it's time to go and hug my girls. I can't wait to see them! Samantha whispered on the phone last night that they made stuff for me, but I'm not supposed to know about it... oh she cracks me up! My husband sounded frazzled on the phone last night. Definitely a sign it's time for me to come home...

I'm rested. I got my break. Now I feel I can go home and be a better mother and wife to my family. I also feel ready to work. I've had lots of good ideas come to me from being at the convention, and I can't wait to start making them a reality.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My work here is done... time to play!

Convention over. Today was pretty much a bust. Picked up MORE things for the girls, but most of the booths were closing down so not much going on. And I was tired... didn't even get out the door until almost 11. Then by 2 I was pretty much done, and just wanted to go back and rest before meeting my dad for dinner. I did get a picture of the street I walked down each day, with my great view of the Empire State building. But that is a future blog entry.

So I met my Daddy for dinner. I just love my dad. I like to think that he and I have a good relationship. He's just so laid back. And we just drive, and talk about whatever, or don't talk at all. We drove out to Sheephead's Bay (it's in Brooklyn near Coney Island) and had dinner. Seafood just tastes better near the water, rather than in AZ.

So we get back, I say my goodbyes to my Dad, and go upstairs to see my Aunt and Uncle for a bit. My Aunt says to me, "So you have a new brother-in-law, huh?"

I look at her like she is insane. "What are you talking about?" Katie has been married for almost 9 years now, and Jenn just got enga-

My aunt saw the light go on above my head. "Haven't you checked your email?"

Crap. The ONE time I don't check my email, I get something important. I ran downstairs and checked it. Well, what do you know. Pictures and everything. I had just met Omar when we were in CA two weeks ago. Oy... leave it to my sister to spice things up a bit. :-)

So, tomorrow is my play day. For once I don't have to carry my heavy bag all over with me! Going to pretend I'm rich and hit the shops on 5th avenue. Ok, just window shop, but still... then lunch with my Aunt Roberta, and then the Met Museum of Art. It will be so great to parooze at my own pace! Plus I really want to see the Max Ernst exhibit. He is amazing. And Chanel, for the small smigen of Diva in me... ;-)

But I am now itching to get back to my kids. It is now to the point where they don't hardly say anything to me on the phone. Tonight they happened to be looking at a scrapbook album that I put together. Samantha cried into the phone "there are more pictures of Allison than of me!!!!" So then I'm crying... aahhhh! My huband just sounded tired.

"I'm ready for you to come home." He sighed.

Awww... the poor man wants to sleep in Saturday. :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Seriously, can there really be 5 million types of paper?

Because apparently there are, and they are all being displayed in NYC. I must say I think I have had my fill of paper. And paper-peddlers. If tomorrow wasn't the big shopping day, I'd skip out on it altogether. I've got everything I need to show to my company. Today I actually wasn't all that into it, and I walked through the last part of the show. WAYYYY in the back, where the cheap seats are. The smaller companies who couldn't afford the main floor.

But you know what? They were the best people to talk with. These are the ones where the actual designers and artists are, instead of just reps. So I got the best ideas and leads from them. I also have walked away with several ideas that I want to try out myself in my own card lines. This has definitely sparked some creativity in me.

But I'm still tired. I had a friend call me late last night (actually it was only 10 for her), and I was silly enough to answer. So I only got about 4 hours of sleep. My appetite is returning, but the cough remains. So I came back early today.

On the way back I found the Tibet House & Museum. It was one of the places I wanted to visit while here. Great artwork, and there was a small group of monks chanting in the shrine, so I got a little treat sitting and listening for awhile.

So now I am resting up before dinner with my aunt for her bday. But I think I am getting to the point where I am ready to go home. I miss my family. :-)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Tired Girl in the City

I think the initial excitement is starting to wear off. I am having a tough time moving today. My aunt poked her head in the room at 7 to wake me, on her way out to work, but I didn't move until 8. Good thing I don't have a scheduled time to be at the convention. But even stretching took a big effort, and all I wanted to do while meditating was fall back asleep. I still have that cough too, which really is the only thing left of this cold. The most annoying part.

Yesterday was opening day at the convention. Holy crap is that convention center HUGE! I walk in, and realized that I am definitely in the right business. Aisles and aisles of cards, stationary, ribbon, scrapbooking supplies, as well as gifts and trinkets to go along with all of it. So I wiped the drool off my face and jumped right in.

After two hours I realized I had not covered even an eighth of this convention, and after 30 more minutes I knew it was time to go when everything started looking the same. After all, I had 4 days of this. Pace yourself girl!

So today I'm just about ready to hit it again. Strange, getting up, dressing in nicer clothes, putting on make up each day. I miss my kids. Last night on the phone I could tell they were getting a little more accustomed to my absence. They were distracted talking to me, and I felt a little sad. Miss me dammit! My husband's comment to me was "Of course I miss you, but I have the bed to myself!" Oh I feel the love... heheheh.

Tonight I will take the Ferry over to Staten Island, and see my dad and his wife. YEA! I'm excited to see him- both of them. Especially the first thing he always says to me when he does see me when I visit-

"Welcome home baby." :-)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

OMG I'm Carrie Bradshaw!

OK.... not really. Actually not even close. I mean, Carrie would never wear tennis shoes. But I did think of the character from "Sex in the City" as I walked by the D&G store this afternoon.

After falling asleep just before midnight, I awoke feeling fairly decent at 7:30. It actually surprised me, considering it's 4:30 back home. I stretched, meditated, and took a LONG hot shower. Today after spending the morning catching up with my Aunt Roberta and the family upstairs, I ventured out into the city to meet a friend of mine from high school. She is actually the sister of our friend Rob, the girls godfather, whom you met in the Disneyland blog entries. She and I graduated the same year however, and only really saw each other when we would see him. We were laughing because we graduated 15 years ago (ouch) and this was the first time we actually hung out. So we did what any rational girl would do in NYC- we went shopping. Though we went and got some lunch first.

Speaking of eating, this cold is still killing me. I now have no appetite. Which normally I would sickly be happy about so I could drop a few pounds. But DAMN, I'm in NY! I tried to eat a bagel this morning and couldn't even eat half. Then we go to lunch and I pick at my food. I'm in a city with 8,000 different types of food to eat, and I'm not hungry. Well, at least with all the walking I'm doing I should drop about 15 pounds this week. YEA!

Anyway, we eat and laugh and catch up, then head back downtown to Soho for our shopping adventure. She wanted to hit the Apple store (yes her NOT me)as well as just show me around. Oh the joy! The sweet joy of over priced clothing! (And if Bret is reading- I behaved myself... somewhat. ;-) ) Picked up a few things for the girls, but mostly just enjoyed the company and being able to walk through these stores at my leisure. It would be too crazy with kids, and well with husband... he would have been like all the other men I saw as we paroozed. Sitting on benches in the store, looking bored and waiting.

So, we got our fill, and I was starting to tire out and feel a bit achy, so we grabbed a drink in a little cafe (no NOT a Starbucks!), and then I headed back. She invited me to dinner with her and her girlfriends she was meeting, but I just felt so worn. Darn this cold! On the way home I mused about my husband a bit. I had never really ventured out on my own when we had visited NY in the past. I was always with him, and he was the map guy. He figured out how to get where we were going, and I followed. It felt kinda nice to do it on my own for a change. Which to some would sound strange, but now and then it's nice to remember that you are a separate person as well as part of a team. :-)

So tomorrow the reason I am here begins, the big convention. Which a friend joked, "If it's a stationary convention, shouldn't you stay where you are?" Yuk-yuk-yuk.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Live from New York! The day that never ended.. or began

My jaw is sore. I couldn't figure out why for quite some time. Then, as I was in the car going from the airport to my Aunt's house in Brooklyn, I caught myself.

I have been clenching my teeth. I must have been doing it all day. All week, most likely. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

All week I had been fighting a cold. I have no clue how I got it. In my last entry I mused that I probably gave it to myself. Well, between the coughing and aches and general stressing about the trip, I have not slept. Wednesday night I was tossing and turning so much I was up until 3am, then up again at 7 to get the kids off to school. Even my husband was telling me to go back to bed. Which I did, and it only made me late for my lunch date with him. :-(

So, last minute as always, throwing clothes and cards into a suitcase that evening, and printing out addresses of the places I wanted to visit while in NY. The last time I looked at the clock it said 2am. The alarm went off at 3. If I dozed in that hour, I honestly couldn't tell you.

So, I threw on clothes, stuck my toiletries in the suitcase, nearly tripped over the dog on the landing bringing it downstairs, and loaded the van. Went back up and peeked on my girls. Oh they were so sweet and peaceful sleeping, I just wished I could have crawled in with them! I didn't think I would miss them before I even left, but I did. Kissed Bret goodbye, but I am not sure if even he remembered it.

I talked to a friend on the phone during the drive to the airport, it actually helped keep me awake. Of course, I left way too early in my stress. So, I had a flight at 6:45. By the time I parked the car in the long term lot, took the shuttle to the terminal, checked in, went through security and walked to the gate, it was 5:15. Of course 2, if I had left 30 minutes later I would have been rushing to make my flight! By the time I sat down to wait, I was sure I would fall asleep and miss the flight altogether.

Instead, I gave one last attempt at a longer layover in Minn to visit with my dear fellow pinko Dave, offering to give up my seat and take a later flight. Not only would it have given me 4 hours to visit, I would have gotten a free ticket voucher as well. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. Though I did get in 10 or 15 minutes earlier than expected, so it gave me a few extra minutes. And did I sleep? Well, no. I was stuck between two sweet elderly women. One enjoyed chatting incessantly with me even WITH my headphones on. The other was a bit overweight. So much so that she needed the armrest between us up the entire flight. All I have to say is, it is a good thing I don't have too much of a problem with personal space. :-)

SO- after a year of chatting online and raising cyber-hell together, I met in person the cave-dweller known as Topper. As all the people(so far)that I have met online have been, he is exactly how I thought he would be. Though boy- EAT something! You are paper thin! ;-) I was completely whacked out from lack of sleep, cold medicine, and for some reason that tune from "The Music Man" was playing my head. You know the one. "Pick a little talk a little pick a little talk a little..."

But it was a great half hour, and hopefully he will make the long 15 minute trek to catch me on the way home next week as well. I'll buy the coffee. :-)

After going through security again, I realized that the terminal I needed to be at was WAY on the other side of the airport, and I had only 20 minutes to spare. So I got my jog in for the day. Luckily, this flight wasn't as full, and there was an empty seat between me and the other person sharing the row. Unluckily, we hit more turbulence, this time enough to spill my drink. It was pretty consistent throughout the two hour flight. So again sleep evades me. I was laughing at myself a bit though. Why do you hold on to your seat tighter when you are freaked in an airplane? Is it going to keep you from falling?

When I was finished kissing the tarmac at LaGuardia, I turned on my cell phone and I had a message. My girls had called, to ask if I had gotten to NY yet or if I was still in the plane. That they missed me and to call them. OH yes I will certainly miss them this trip!

So now I am back to the beginning, in the car on the way to my Aunt's. During rush hour. In New York City. Heh. But we actually didn't do too bad, making it in 45 minutes using every back road that existed rather than the main highway. By this time I was feeling BAD. The aches had returned, and I was coughing like a lunatic. Then I realized I had not eaten a single thing all day. Gee, the little things you forget when you travel!

SO here I sit now, in the guestroom at my Aunt's. Glad that I am able to blog my adventures. I spoke to my kids, hubby is calling me back after they go to bed. :-) I visited with my Aunt Debbie, and later my Aunt Roberta, Uncle Sal, and my cousins came in to see me. I just about cried when I saw my little cousin, about to enter HIGH SCHOOL. Dear lord, he was just under 2 at my wedding. And my older cousin Anthony, graduating college. Someone dig my grave now. He was ring-bearer at my wedding!

SO I will go and be comatose now. Tomorrow a whole new adventure begins!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Fear of flying stressing me out?

I've got a cold.

At least, I guess it's a cold. My throat has been sore for two days. I'm achy and popping advil like it's candy. I toss and turn all night while coughing and praying for health or death to be swift, which I'm sure is driving husband bonkers.

Funny this hits me now, when I'm flying across the country on Friday. I hate to fly. There are not many things I hate. Actually, I can't think of anything else I can honestly say I hate, other than flying. We were not meant to fly. We would have been born with wings, or in the words of I believe Mel Brooks, "God would have given us tickets".

I read my will every time I'm going to fly. Make sure it's all in order. I call all my close friends and family and say goodbye. I try to think forward to the reasons I'm going. Focus. Nope. All I think about is I don't want to leave my girls without their Mom.

I also deal with guilt. So much guilt. I don't know of any of my friends with kids who would leave their children. They just don't do it- or they take them along. Should I do the same? Am I not supposed to have a good time? Yeah, it's business. But this convention is about something I -love-, and of course I can't wait to see my family, get lost in a museum or two, sit in Central Park and read. Of course there is plenty of shopping to do. :-) All the things that are a little more difficult with children (and sometimes husband) in tow.

Honestly, it's better when I travel alone, or with my kids. If it's just me and my husband, forget it. He asks over and over if I'm ok, I want to strangle him! With the kids I'm distracted, and forced to put on the brave face so they don't get all freaked out like their wuss mother. When I'm alone I can at least read and get lost in my music. (Which this time means I get to take the iPod- I will not have a dull moment in the music department, that's for sure.)

So I think I got myself sick. I'm sucking down Trader Joe's vitamin C drinks until I puke. Hopefully by Friday when I am up WAY before the sun for my 6:30 flight, I will not have to kill my pain with advil any more. But I also have plenty of chewable vitamin C pills as back up...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Letters from my girls

"Mom, you HAVE to stay in bed tomorrow."

Wise wise words from my oldest on Saturday night, as I was tucking her into bed.

Of course, I hear then walk into the bedroom at 7:30 to 'silently' wake up Dad. Though I made the game-plan last night: "you will give me until 9am to sleep!"

They were SO excited. They made me breakfast, which I forced a couple of bites down because I never eat breakfast. My husband even made me coffee. (Holy crap, they can be trained! Only took 12 years...)

But the most precious things were the notes my daughter's wrote to me. From Samantha, with help from her teachers:

All About My Mom
My Mom is 5 feet tall. She has black hair and beautiful brown eyes. She loves to play tricks on me. Her best friend is Julie. She likes to eat Macaroni & Cheese. It's her favorite food. My mom's favorite desert is brownies. Purple is my moms favorite color. My moms job is to clean the house. I know my mom loves me because she helps me find my toys. If I could give my mom anything, I would like to give her a mother's day card. I love my mom because she is always nice to me.

Love, Sam

From Allison:

Dear Mom,
Happy Mother's Day. I hope you enjoy your gift. I will do anything you want me to do. I looovve you sooooo muuuch! HOPE YOU ENJOY MOTHER'S DAY.

Hugs and kisses from me to you.

God they kill me. I'm leaving Friday for NYC, and I miss them all ready..

Friday, May 06, 2005

More Church Thoughts

More from my dear brother-in-law...

I'm not very good with "absolutes" ...ever. Well, maybe sometimes. When I was a punk kid, friends would ask me who my favorite Beatle was, and I'd say, "Well, I guess, Paul - he gets all the chicks... no wait... maybe John - love the way he stands all nearsighted and cool at the mike with his teeny Rik... but I also really like George's "different" sorta songs and sense of humor... and the haircut always looked best on Ringo...
It seemed sorta silly to me to "need" to have a "favorite anything," let alone a fave-rave Beatle. I could never even pick a favorite color.

Colors always seem to need other colors to look their best.

I know we all use the word "favorite" pretty much all the time. We bandy it about incessantly... mostly meaninglessly. It's a colloquialism much like "paying attention..." Makes you wonder about cost-effectiveness in this self-absorbed world.

Someone once asked Jung or Watts or Kurt Vonnegut Jr. or some other smart guy if he believed in god. He said that he didn't like the word "believe..." It built too many restrictions and walls around a life. Then he said something like (and I seriously paraphrase): "If I pick one god, or one kind of god to believe in... then all of the infinite other choices and variables that might be this resplendent and powerful and awe-inspiring universe, no longer exist.

I don't see why the "Church" can't be everything to everyone. After all, they are the church - a supposedly nonjudgmental place of true freedom and infinite love. Isn't that what god is? Awright, maybe I've gone too far. But why not have a nice Pagan-like mass, prayed in that magical Latin language with the priest dressed in those regal gold and purple vestments, just for the old and young folk who dig the "Christianity" that was emulating the Earth goddess and the Romans. And maybe a nice new progressive guitar-playing, hand-shaking, English-speaking mass for the more progressive who believe in the tenor of the truth rather than the trappings. Of course then there are the singing/screaming southern Baptists who seriously bust-a-nut to kick out the jams to raise the dead every Sunday. If you haven't seen that, you're missing more than a good rerun episode of "Friends."

Why can't the priests that want to get married, get married, and show the laity hoi polloi, the preeminent grand idea of what this family that the family-values people are always shouting about, is actually about? And the pastors who feel that their homage to the supreme is the pristine celibacy of a serene and stained-glassed and holy environment... they can remain the zen-like monks they wanna remain. And all else that is good.

What a mess man makes of the "word" when all he hears is the lyrics... and not the song.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

What's Jesus got to do with it?

Today I got the opportunity to see another show taping. Last week Bill Maher, this week- "Your Life- A to Z". It's a local show here in the Valley. Geared toward the stay-at-home-mom dynamic, I went along as moral support for my friend. She was a guest, talking about traveling with children and offering some tips. Which really has nothing to do with her business, but when you're trying to get exposure, well, you adjust.

True to form, she arrives promptly at 8am to collect me. True to form, I woke up late, and had been running around for 45 minutes straight getting kids ready for school while getting myself ready at the same time. My husband took the kids to school so I could do this, so he was upstairs getting ready for work while I got the kids ready. Which normally wouldn't matter because I normally take the kids to school in my PJ's... but today I needed to mix among the living.

So I hop in the car, and we're off. She listens to motivational things in the car. Business, religious, whatever. Today was religious. She apologized, but I didn't care. I settled in to listen and analyze.

The woman was preaching to women. Oh my, did she preach! (Lemme hear ya say AMEN!) Jesus this, Jesus that. God this, God that. Do it all for Him.

OK, I was starting to get angry. I felt it. God and Jesus don't mix well with me. Someday I might really dig down and figure out what my issue is, but this morning all I was wishing was that she would turn on her A/C in the car and find us coffee. So I started to focus on what this woman was preaching about.

Discovering yourself. Accepting yourself. Loving yourself. Finding out what has hurt you in your past, to make you who you are today. How to let go.

Wow. It was a great, wonderful message. I think about these sorts of things all the time actually. Then she said it- what made me want to scream and yell and tear my hair out-

"Do it for Jesus."

Do it for Jesus? Now, why would I want to do that? Do it for Jesus. It's the only way to save yourself, if you change your attitude for him. I looked at my friend. Here was someone I considered to be a very strong woman. A go-getter, determined. Makes her own path. She was doing it all in the name of Jesus?

Seriously, would Jesus really WANT me to better myself, find my path, find my spirit, for HIM? Not the Jesus I've learned about.

Are humans really that weak-minded that they need an in-animate being to do things for? We can't do it because WE want to? We can't do it for ourselves? Because WE want to be better people, we want to know our path- for US. Not for Jesus, not for God, not for Allah, not for Buddha. Not because the Torah said so.

Religion is an excuse. An excuse to be a better person, but also an excuse to make mistakes. Because you go to church, go to confess your sins when you "do wrong", and all is forgiven. Clean slate to do more wrong. No one takes the time to learn from what they do, good or bad. Use it to make yourself a better person. No, instead everyone operates on the "Jesus will forgive me in the end, so who cares?" mentality.

That is the sort of hypocrisy that irritates me. Don't do anything for Jesus, me, your husband, your wife, your dog- do it because YOU want to.

Do it for you. That is more impressive than anything.

A Divine Image

Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secresy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

William Blake

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

William Blake

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Edgar Allan Poe

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Photos from Disney Trip!

Via Snapfish... you may need to make an account to view them. But everyone has the junk email for those purposes, right? ;-)

The Photos