Saturday, July 30, 2005

I'm in love with Bill Clinton

On the way up to the Canyon last weekend, we listened to his book. By the time we got to his high school days, I looked over at my husband and said, "sorry honey, but I think I'm falling in love with this man." The bruise on my left shoulder is pretty faded now...

Seriously, this is probably one of the best books I've "read". What an interesting, caring, genuine man. Yes, read that again. I admired him before, but after this I admire him more than ever. Telling his side, yet taking complete responsibility for his actions. ALL of them. Even at the times when you feel he didn't need to. He gives you hope as well. It's amazing- someone coming from the childhood he had becoming a world leader. No big money, no inherited money, just hard work and perseverence. If I ever were going to start believing in heroes, he would be on the list for sure.

Two pinko thumbs-up on this one- buy it NOW. Or get in touch with me, I can hook you up. ;-)

Friday, July 29, 2005

A Weekend, A Wedding, and A Really Big Canyon

It took a wedding to get out of the heat for a weekend. The daughter of a friend of my foster-family was married up at the Grand Canyon on Sunday. What a great excuse to go to the Grand Canyon! See, Arizonans going to the Canyon is sort of like New Yorkers in Manhattan. It's just another place to go. But this time, my kids have not been yet, so it was another all new experience for me. :-)

So, my brother Andy flew in on Thursday, and my parents got in Friday. That afternoon we all trekked up north. I love watching the scene transitions as we rise in elevation. From desert, heat, and cactus, to cooler temps, pine trees, and fresh clean air. We stopped for gas just a few miles south of the park entrance, and Bret told me to get out and smell the air. Ahhhh... pine. The girls told us it reminded them of being back in Maryland at my parent's house. Pangs of homesickness hit me, as we didn't get to make our yearly trip there this summer. Sometimes it really stinks to be an East-Coast girl stuck in the desert. But, I had my parents here for the weekend, so that helped ease the sad feelings temporarily.

Our room was tucked nicely away in the trees, and had no A/C. I didn't mind, but the blast of afternoon stuffiness that hit us when we first opened the door didn't make my husband very happy. I tried to reassure him that though it was warm in the afternoon, it would cool down and be wonderful in the evenings. He also grumbled a bit when he found out we were not staying with the rest of the family in the hotel outside the Canyon Park. My thinking was it would be fun to stay inside the park, and also close to where the wedding was to take place. He grumbled some more, but felt better when he found out that others were staying scattered all over the area as well. I was feeling guilty and bad about it for awhile, then promptly decided that I was not going to be upset about it anymore, and moved on with the weekend.

Saturday the family split up for most of the day. I had a bridal luncheon, and the dad's all took the kids sight-seeing. When I returned to the lodge no one was back yet, so I took advantage. I quickly changed, and went off wandering on my own to explore the area (and work off some of the cheesecake from lunch!).

It was a nice hike. Started out on the warm side, but through the tree tops I watched an afternoon storm blow in, and by the time I returned to the room again there was that pre-storm energy in the air. I love that feeling, of a storm brewing. Even here at home with the monsoon, although it's still very hot and gross, I love to sit outside and watch it progress. I had missed Bret and the girls by about 30 minutes (we were exchanging quick notes), so I lied down on the bed, listened to the wind in the trees, and promptly passed out for a bit.

The evening was nice. A group of us went to dinner, and I got to catch up with my parents a bit. The down side was when the waitress spilled hot chocolate all over our friend Christa. That is bad enough in itself, but Christa also has MS and is in a wheelchair. :-( They were so worried they had EMT's come and check her out. She took it in stride, but luckily the drink was for one of the kids, so it wasn't as hot as it might have been.

Sunday was wedding day. It was, of course, beautiful. You can't have a better backdrop than the Canyon to say your "I do's". It was small, only about 40 people. I enjoyed the fact that I pretty much knew everyone there. Pretty much all-inclusive, with a breakfast before the ceremony where we all mingled, watched the kids next to the cliffs, and took in the view. All in all a lovely day, even the drive back was nice. Though it was almost saddening to feel the blast of heat as you opened the car doors.

You can see the rest of the photos here. :-)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Church Chat And My Grievance With God

If only it were the Church Lady sort from that old Dana Carvey SNL skit. In my Truth Seekers network, religion and God tends to come up now and then. Why wouldn't it? The network seeks truth of all kinds: God, aliens, and Tom Cruise included. I certainly have never minded exploring God and religion, but I happen to take a more personal, spiritual approach vs. a religious view. Quite frankly, religion to me is an excuse.

A cop out- a reason not to think. Whatever you want to call it, it is used for that purpose. If you can't figure out what to call something, or why something is either beyond beautiful or beyond reprehensible, people chalk it up to God. What always seems to enrage me the most when discussing religion with others is when church comes into the picture. Why would anyone need to go to church to learn about God? In the lastest discussion, someone pointed out a study that said that people who go to church are happier and healthier than those who do not. Well really this just angered me (which I suppose could prove their point I imagine).

I know I have a Catholic upbringing working against me here, but I fully acknowledge that all churches are NOT run like a Mass. I (as well as my husband) realized long ago that we didn't need church to prove that we trusted in God. Really, isn't He the only one you really have to prove your worth to? God doesn't want you to prove yourself, He just wants you to be happy. God understands that we can be happy with or without going to church. We've tried together about 10 years ago to find a church, but my husband really made it clear to me that I should examine why I'm looking for a church in the first place. When I looked at it, I had no reason. I felt I could do my spiritual journey on my own, and not have to worry about becoming part of the Sunday morning cattle call.

I know that seems harsh, but really that is all it seems to me. When my first child was born, my husband and I discussed what we would do when it came to religion. He is Catholic, and I was concerned about whether he would want our baby baptized or not. He really didn't care either way, he feels as I do. We should wait, discuss God and different religions with our children, and then let them decide what path they would like to go on when they are old enough to understand. I was actually surprised he felt the same way, but then on the same note I understand. He became Catholic at 19, and wasn't raised to think that this is what you HAVE to do concerning religion. He chose his path. I was raised to think you must attend church, which is why I am probably so uncomfortable with the concept of going to church once a week to "prove my worth". To whom am I proving this to? The other parishioners? The preacher? God? Hardly.

I'm certainly on my own journey, I know this. I went from ending my high school years thinking there is absolutely no God, going through the motions of my wedding in a Catholic church, to realizing there absolutely has to be a God, because I was given two very unique and wonderful gifts in my children. There is no other reason for that in my opinion. But I cannot make my journey about God. I try and make it about myself. I don't pray, because I found out long ago that prayers are not answered. I have started taking a more Buddhist approach to life, though I certainly do not agree with all elements of Buddhism either. I meditate, and that has given me an outlet in which to center myself, which I found to be actually quite liberating in it's own way. Through it all, Church just never seems to fit into the picture of what I think a relationship with God should be.

I do know another reason I have such a hard time when it comes to religion. I have a grievance with God, and it goes back to my childhood. Those almost three years when I was suffering, when the most incomprehensible things that could be done to a child were being done to ME. Where was God then? Is there some greater purpose, some reason that I (or any child for that matter) needed to have a trusted family member screw me every other night for THREE YEARS? Would I not have the life I have now if I didn't go through it? Was it a test by God of my strength, my endurance of life itself? Would my life have been BETTER if it hadn't happened? Or worse? Did I pass? Did I prove my worth by having this dark period happen? Why would a loving, caring God test a child in that way? What greater purpose could that possibly have?

I often think about the movie Forrest Gump when I think about this. The scene where they are on the shrimp boat during the storm, and Captain Dan decided to take on the storm, climbing up on the mast and in a nutshell telling God to bring it on. Of all the scenes that would normally make one cry in that movie, that scene is always the one that makes me tear up. Especially after the storm. His peace is made, and he's swimming in the very ocean that hours ago tried to claim him. I find myself longing for a similar opportunity. Where is my storm so I can have it out with God?

Then again, maybe that is what Church is, and why it is so hard to accept it and open myself up to attending. Maybe Church would be where I would have out my grievance. I have not written off ever attending church. I know that feelings and emotions and thoughts about things change constantly. I just hope that someday I will feel strong enough- brave enough- to take on the challenge it presents me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Restore Our Belief; Accept Then Act

"No man is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore our belief in our own guidance."

~Henry Miller

Accept - then act.
Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.
Always work with it, not against it.
Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.
This will miraculously transform your whole life.

~Eckhart Tolle

Friday, July 01, 2005

Misplaced Anxiety

Which should be the slogan for my life at times. I get myself all worked up about things- think "too much" about them as a friend would say- then the moment is over and done with and I'm left wondering why I stressed in the first place.

Flying is my #1 example of this. The last time I flew (with the help of an airplane of course) I didn't sleep the entire week before, because I stress about it. I'm not good at putting things in a higher power's hands. I need to feel I am in control of a situation, and when you think about it are we ever REALLY in control of anything? Whatever is going to happen over the course of your life, is going to just happen. Unless you stay indoors your entire life, you really cannot predict the outcome. So I fly, and get off the plane on the other side, no worse for wear.

Today my daughter had tubes put in her ears to drain fluid that has been apparently there for quite some time. Now, the procedure is SO totally nothing- you wait around for two hours vs. the 10 minute procedure- so why should I worry, right?

Ha. You would think I had already rendered my daughter dead or something. She was even looking at me like I was a little insane. What made me let it go was the way she stoically decided she wanted to WALK with the nurse back to the operating room, rather than ride on the bed or have her father carry her. What a trooper.

I looked at my husband and said, "What am I worried about?"

He looked at me and said, "duh."

Because you can't tell an idiot they are acting like an idiot until they have realized they are being an idiot. :-))

When they came to get us, only one of us could go into the recovery room at first. I got up to go, then looked at my husband's face.

I smiled, and let him go in first.