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Posts tagged ‘enlightenment’

13
Jul

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming!

The weekly photo challenge for this week is “Dreaming.” Read more

1
Mar

the path of happiness is measured by human kindness

So the Academy Awards are decided.  I enjoyed the show and agree with the outcomes.  I don’t care about the fashion or the best or worst dressed – everyone was beautiful as far as I’m concerned.

But, I’m so sorry that a wonderful, wonderful film was not on the award list. The wonderful movie, Happy, (thehappymovie.com), may not be Academy Award material, but it’s material that says a great deal about the meaning of life.

Happy is a documentary about the meaning and the search for happiness. When I saw the film recently, it reaffirmed for me that the path toward happiness is measured in human kindness.

To be happy, to find happiness is what we all want as human beings.  The filmmakers – psychologists and other professionals, tell us that the pursuit of happiness requires us to live a life in which performing acts of kindness is so ingrained in us it comes naturally and happens often.

When artists create, or writers write, they enter what’s best described as “the zone.”  That zone is where happiness happens and is measurable.

Depression, as we know, is an illness that is talked about, and talked about, and talked about. Depression is measured, diagnosed and medicated.  Acts of human kindness result in elevating the brain chemicals and systems that produce “happy endorphins and serotonin messages.”  When the brain is stressed-out and the happy chemicals in our brains go haywire on us, leaving us low, sad – depressed, medicine can turn it around.

Scientists and psychiatrists measure the level of depression and attempt to cure it with medicine that stimulates happy brain chemicals once again.   Granted, there’s much, much more to mental health – it’s serious and important and I don’t mean to make light of the topic… Instead, I wish to illustrate what the filmmakers of Happy tell us about how to create happiness, and that it can be measured and improved, too.

The main message of this film (for me) revealed a truth that simple human kindness, being grateful, sharing and giving to others, is a critical reality for living a life of happiness.  It’s all wrapped up in empathy, compassion for others; giving of ourselves, serving others, being passionate givers and knowing the return on that investment is our happiness.

In our daily lives we hear and read about hate and ugliness constantly.   Sadly we don’t hear about happy things such as examples of giving and compassion often enough. Rather, we hear and read news reports filled with politicians and criminals spewing hate.  They seem to embrace negativity and hate with a real passion.

Nearly every day this blog is used for people to talk about the Casey Anthony case.  Remember the Casey Anthony trial?  It was about determining who senselessly murdered a beautiful little child – Caylee Anthony.

In this Orlando, Florida case about the death of little Caylee Anthony, it was pretty clear that the toddler’s mother, Casey Anthony, single-highhandedly murdered her own daughter.

But, Casey Anthony was found not guilty by a jury of twelve people.  Granted, that was not a verdict anyone expected, least of all me, the reality of the trial’s outcome is something I’ve completely accepted.

Casey Anthony is not guilty of murder in the eyes of the law.

No one can punish or try her with this crime ever again.  No one…. That includes Federal entities, too, for those who are petitioning the government to try Casey Anthony in Federal Court.  It will not happen. And we need to thank our lucky stars that our justice system gives Casey Anthony that protection.

There are too many cases of truly innocent people punished by our system, and that is wrong, too, clearly.  The facts are these: The application of our state laws and our constitutional rights are often abused by over=zealous lawmakers.  There are prosecutors and law enforcement agencies out there who don’t always care about the innocent, they want to solve cases by any means possible.  It is up to us to VOTE for lawmakers who RESPECT the HUMAN Rights of all people, who apply the LAW evenly to ALL people.  That includes immigrants AND all ARAB human beings, by the way.

There are people in this country who believe in an eye-for-an-eye justice, like in Biblical times.  There are lawmakers who feel this way, too.  In fact, there are people with political power in this country who are so twisted, they’d like to give angry mobs the ability to hold be-headings, or hangings.  There is one GOP lawmaker in North Carolina who’d very much like that to happen. Republican Representative Larry Pittman says, “Let’s round up the (so-called), abortionists, rapists, kidnappers and murders and hang-em high.”  More specifically, Pittman said:

We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out. Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner,” Pittman wrote in the email. “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.  via North Carolina GOP Lawmaker Calls For Bringing Back Public Hangings, Starting With Abortion Providers.

As America gets dumber it’s reflected in the people WE VOTE into office.

There are Americans who feel just as Representative Pittman does about forms of punishment.  There are people who want Casey Anthony dead. These angry and sick people would like nothing better than to see Casey Anthony face the ultimate punishment, and no doubt they’d like it to happen publicly.

God help them.

God help us all if haters, in the name of religion, seek justice their way.

7
Dec

Hillary Clinton – A role model for all

Hillary is speaking from Geneva in this wonderful talk about Human Rights and the GLBT community.

10
Nov

get out of your box, whack #3

This is a very topical Whack.  I agree it’s necessary to get out of your box to look for unusual possibilities in usual places!

It’s limiting to be defined by a single box because, as human beings, we are constantly evolving and evolution will happen whether we like it or not.  The world will go on with or without us.  And if we’re lucky – if our children’s children are lucky, we will continue to evolve as a human race and stop making wars because we don’t like our neighbors religion, or we want their land, or their weapons or even their people.

It’s unhealthy to be in a box  Life in a box is no life at all.  Thoughts outside of the four walls of the box are far more interesting, don’t you think?  Going outside of the box involves risk.  And an open mind.  Opening the mind is not easy when prejudices interfere.  And being risk-adverse is nearly as sad as not accepting or appreciating people for their differences.

99.9% of all DNA in a human being is identical.  Yet, we are afraid of a seeing a Muslim or Arab person in an airport!  There is nothing so horrible as that kind of disrespect.  People who accept the Islam faith are not different than people who accept the Christian faith.  There are horrible people and there are loving and beautiful people in both beliefs.

Most people have two eyes, a nose, teeth, arms and hands with usually five fingers and five toes on the end of two feet that are at the end of their two legs.  Chances are, though, if you happen to be one of the brave individuals who jumped on the “Mission Possible” boat with criminal George W. Bush, you may no longer have arms or legs.

If you sacrificed your body as a result to the big lie, I am so sorry.  Americans know your reasons for fighting were honorable.  Unfortunately, you were led by a criminal into a war that was based on fiction and lies.

Criminal George W. lied to Congress and the American people for his own political interests. Criminal George W. lied and attacked the people of Iraq in March of 2003 without provocation.  It had nothing to do with 9/11 either.  As most of us are aware, it had been proven that Iraq had no role in those attacks.

We attacked Iraq because the Bush Crime Family, with their deep family ties in Saudi Arabia, had their eye on a bigger prize:  Oil. Texans must have their oil.

So, this Get out of Your Box Whack refers to beliefs, culture, and how we should look at the world not by our rules, but by a set of truths different from our own.

Truth?  Hah!

There are person (s) who call themselves Christians and post on this blog to fight, and to lecture me (and others) about our religious views.

I’ve learned there are two kinds of “Christians” – the people who go to church because it fills them up with things they value and enjoy believing in.  And those who are fanatics about religion with one goal in life – to tell “non-believers” like me how horrible we are because we question “religion” and because we don’t believe in their religious brand, we are not the chosen ones.

Sorry, folks, but demeaning non-believers is not Christian.  It’s just annoying and hypocritical in the extreme.

I think it’s beyond the beyond of wonderful that you love your religion, but I don’t like it jammed down my throat in mean or demeaning ways.  So, leave me alone!   If I wanted to become a Holy Christian person I would!  But, I don’t want to.  I like what I think and I will go on thinking this way, too.  Get the message?  I don’t like being boxed in.

I enjoy reading about the history of religion, of all religions and I don’t like one over the other.  I like the diversity of many religions!  Who can say there is just one GOD?  I bet GOD is a SHE.

Oh, and I believe in evolution which tends to be the opposite of what the loud Christians believe.

I believe in Islam. I believe in Judaism.  I believe in Buddhism (I practiced Buddhism for a couple of years until life got in the way.)  I believe in your religion, whatever it is because I am able to get out of the box with curiosity and find something good in what you believe.  But I don’t want what you have, okay?  So, you can go away now.

You’ve already told me you’re the chosen one….and you’ve explained how I am nothing and I will not get into the Kingdom, and when I die I’ll be on the wrong side death’s door, or something inane like that and blah blah blah.  When I hear all of that I have to ask, who’s the hater?

I never answer the door when the religious people come knocking on Saturday, all dressed to the nines in 90 degree weather.   I won’t respond to people who attack me because I don’t care about their religion.  I would love to talk about anyone’s religion, but NEVER ever will I entertain insults.  I don’t trust people who want to push religion on anyone.  Religion should be lovely, personal and enlightening, right?  Dumb me.  I thought the study of religion would result in wisdom, sensitivity, acceptance.

Speaking of wisdom….

Did you know more and more children are being born without wisdom teeth?  A professor told a class I was in that because more and more people are born without wisdom teeth, it is due to the evolutionary process of discarding human traits that are superfluous, or not needed.

I found that fascinating – to be witness to evolution as it is happening.  However, there are two schools of thought on this. One school says that if a person does not have wisdom teeth as a result of genetics, that trait will be passed on, and on, and on.   Evolution, on the other hand, will cause traits that are not useful in an environment to slowly disappear.  The differences are not so different in my view… but I am hardly a scientist or anthropologist.

However, my professor could be right, and he could be wrong because scientists are not quite certain.  The point here, then, we cannot dismiss either possibility because the truth is still evolving and it changes…..

We all have roots extending back 200,000 years to the emergence of the first modern humans in Africa, and back more than 6 million years to the evolution of the earliest human species in Africa. This amazing story of adaptation and survival is written in the language of our genes, in every cell of our bodies—as well as in the fossil and behavioral evidence.  http://humanorigins.si.edu/

Regarding “Get out of Your Box,” the message is as clear as day.  Wouldn’t you agree that thinking in a box is incredibly limiting?  Being in a box means to accept only what we know – or think we know.  Like Hamlet said to his friend Horatio:

There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.   Shakespeare, Hamlet,  Act I, Scene V.

9
Nov

no hasta la vista for the constitution, baby!

Tuesday’s votes in various states – many of which were extremely controversial – were for the most part defeated.  Mississippians rejected the Republican Personhood/Anti-Abortion Initiative… (phew!)

A story in The New York Times concludes:

And while voters in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states, turned away a measure that would have outlawed all abortions and many forms of contraception and had drawn conservative support from members of both parties, they tightened their voting laws to require some from of government-approved identification. Democrats had opposed the requirement, saying it was a thinly disguised attempt to intimidate voters of color.

In Maine, where Republicans recently had ended same-day registration at polling places, voters decided to restore the practice, which Democrats support.

In my view, it was a wonderfully DISMAL day for Republican Conservatives who want to set the clock back on women’s issues, LGBT issues, gay marriage, Unions, abortions, immigration in favor of Christian rule….  and so much more.

For the record, I have nothing against Christianity – I’m one, sort of.

Every religion has value – just as every human being has value.  Christianity should not define a person any more than Islam should.  Let people wear their religion proudly but quietly, please.

I get very cantankerous when it comes to categorizing the United States as a Christian nation.  It is not true.  Never has been.  Talk to the hand on that one.

Why do people have to shout so loudly about “being Christian?”   It seems unbecoming and counter-intuitive to the spirit of Christianity.

Anyone who has to press and press and ram religion down people’s throats is insecure in their own belief.  True “Believers” don’t need to call attention to themselves.

Christian Conservatives, and many of the tea drinkers, would like the rest of us to believe if you are not Christian, you’re nothing.   Excuse me?!!

How would the Christians like it if we became a Hindu or Islam nation?  They wouldn’t like hearing that anymore than non-Christians like to hear Christians shouting their superiority!

How does this sound…

We are a Jewish nation because Judaism rules!

I say we are a Buddist nation.

Excuuuuse me, we are a Islam religious nation.

Dammit, I said we are a Hindu nation!

Well, CLEARLY this nation is all about Scientology – duh!

Get outta town, you nut case – there’s no denying that we are becoming a Bahá’í people.

Gimme a freakin break people, we are a Tele-evangelist society, always have been, always will be.

Well, butter my biscuits, we are a nation of Yoga tele-novelas!

Butter your own biscuit buddy – you clown, there is no dispute here – we are an HBO nation.

HBO.  They don’t HAVE religion on there!

Hah!  That’s my point, you pea brained parasite – I like my religion ‘HBO Latino’ style.   So, hasta la vista to you, baby!

This country was built by immigrants of all religions. We are a diverse nation of every color and every religion known created by man.  Every one of them has a place behind the scenes and out of the workplace, out of government – not down our throats!

I get so angry when people can’t see WHY religion is the ultimate, dangerous divide.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.  ~ Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, (1818 – 1883)

5
Nov

no one wants an abortion

I spent most of today reading “Woman and the New Race” (1920), by Margaret Sanger.  I’ve carried with me certain memories from studying her work in high school and college.  I remembered all she did with regards to birth control, but I’d forgotten the magnitude of it upon society in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cover of "Woman and the New Race"

Cover of Woman and the New Race

I did not remember the squalor that families lived due to having more children than they could feed.  Women were subservient to the wishes of her husband; they were the unwilling slaves to sex because they had no say in the matter.  The role of the woman was to be the weaker sex; she had no voice in the dynamics of her marriage; she kept the home, satisfied the man, bore children, and “remained a dominated weakling in a society controlled by men (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920).”

What ever your thoughts on this matter, in the early days of this century, Margaret Sanger did her utmost to help women break the bonds of excessive child births to become owners of her mind and their bodies at long last.

Women were repressed – they were no more than brood mares.  There were so many cases of infanticide.  It was constant, tragic, unbearable…. those accused of infanticide were given harsh sentences.

The woman’s suffrage movement had just given women voting rights; she could also now own property and work outside the home, but she still had no control over her very being – her existence demanded she be subservient to sexual needs of the man, which meant she bore children constantly, weakening her body, pushing her into ill health and early death.

Woman’s acceptance of her inferior status was the more real because it was unconscious.  She had chained herself to her place in society and the family through the maternal functions of her nature, and only chains thus strong could have bound her to her lot as a brood animal for the masculine civilizations of the world.  In accepting her role as the “weaker and gentler half,” she accepted that function.  In turn, the acceptance of that function fixed the more firmly her rank as an inferior.  (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920)

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, chances are you do not like the reality or the idea of abortion.  I surely do not wish abortion on anyone, but I would never want to castigate another woman for making the very difficult and serious decision to abort.

To abort a baby is a terrible and difficult decision for a woman to make. Woman are wired to want children, to love them, and nurture them.

I had a roommate years ago who got pregnant. She was young, unmarried, very little money, and no plans to have a long-term relationship with the man she was seeing at the time.  She made the decision to abort after talking it over with her family, who did not tell her what to do, but promised to be non-judgmental and support her decision – to have the baby, adopt or abort.  Who wants to make that decision?

I took her to the doctor the day of her abortion.

She came home emotionally drained, in terrible pain, and utterly devastated at the thought of what she’d done, but knowing she had to do it.

She was out of work for longer than a month because she couldn’t stop crying.

No woman wants to abort.  And no woman wants to be told she cannot abort.

There have been terrible lies since the misogynist Herman Cain made his ignorant comments about Planned Parenthood, and Margaret Sanger.

People are actually believing that Margaret Sanger was pro-abortion!  In fact, she was not.

Sanger’s goal was to end back room $5.00 abortions with the legalization of birth control

We have Sanger to thank for birth control, for men and woman.

Do you remember the Comstock law?  She fought against the injustice of the Comstock law and suffered multiple arrests as a result.

Woman’s passivity under the burden of her disastrous task was almost altogether that of ignorant resignation.  She knew virtually nothing about her reproductive nature and less about the consequences of her excessive childbearing.  It is true that , obeying the inner of their natures, some women revolted.  They went even to the extreme of infanticide and abortion.  Usually their revolts were not general enough.  They fought as individuals, not as a mass.  In the mass they sank back into blind and hopeless subjection.  They want on breeding with staggering rapidity those numberless, undesired children who become the clogs and the destroyers of civilizations.   (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920)

What a voice Margaret Sanger has!  She writes with both clarity and passion.

There were many things I read, however, that proved to me that we do not learn our lessons well as a nation.  That’s a big subject for another time!

Here is the URL of the Google book:  Woman and the New Race, by Margaret Sanger.  http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=VLHH8qVM0sgC&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PA118

10
Oct

three cheers for the california dream act!!!

The Dream Act is no longer just a dream in California!!!

California Governor Jerry Brown (D), signed into law The Dream Act,  a bill that will allow students, who live legally in the United States but lack legal documentation, to qualify for Federal and State Financial Aid!

This is a wonderful opportunity for California to invest in its best and brightest students, ensuring they receive equal opportunity to Financial Aid funding for Higher Education.

I work at a University in Florida and I am absolutely thrilled for California, happy that Gov. Jerry Brown stood up to the opposition and did what is right for the people of California – for the FUTURE of California.

Florida had an opportunity to pass the Dream Act a couple of years ago.  It failed.  The Republicans opposed the bill.

Florida was wrong to deny its residents access to higher education.  It is just plain wrong.

The Dream Act is a win-win for the students, the state, and the university the student attends.   Let me explain why.   Here is a scenario about the opportunities of the Dream Act:

Scenario:

Student John Doe was brought to the USA by his parents when he was just an infant.  His parents are poor, uneducated, but able to see the importance of elementary and high school for their children.    Like his parents,  John is not an “official”  American citizen, though he regularly attends public school.  He has always maintained an A Plus GPA.  He is a natural leader and was named Valedictorian of his graduating class.   John is a very talented student in every sense and he dreams of becoming either science teacher, or scientist.  He is passionate about teaching and understands the schools today need good teachers.

All of Johns teachers;  his Principal and Guidance Counselor, encourage him, but for naught.  John would never be able to attend college, and he knows it.  The cost of college is way beyond the reach of his parents.

What will his future be after High School?  Minimum wage?  Fast food?  Retail?  Waiter?

There is no way John can dream of a career as a science teacher, or a scientist.  What will happen to him?  After High School, he will be a number – a poverty statistic.   He’ll be one of the shadow people who live at or below the poverty level.

The fact that talent like John’s will go to waste is a crime; it’s also a crime for the US to NOT have the benefit of John’s intelligence and his future contributions.  John would have made a difference, but antiquated laws kept him handcuffed and in the shadows of poverty.

Thanks to Governor Jerry Brown, it is a new day for John Doe.

Today, John can have the education he deserves.  He has worked hard for it.   Tomorrow, we will be the benefactors of what John will contribute to society.

The Dream Act for Higher Education will have a ripple effect.  One drop in the pond will send waves that reach out-and-out-and-out, like the reach of good Karma.  Just as  good begets good, John will touch the lives of countless students when he becomes a teacher,

This dream has been a long time coming; thank Heaven for visionary leaders like Jerry Brown.

Scott Jaschik, writing for Inside Higher Ed, a popular source for higher education, has this to say in today’s edition

Giving undocumented students access to state student aid is seen as particularly important, by advocates for such students, for a number of reasons. Many have very low-income levels (because they cannot legally hold jobs), and they are ineligible for federal aid. So state aid, combined with access to in-state tuition rates, can make a big difference in their ability to enroll. The bill would cover only those who graduated from a California high school and who affirm that they are taking all possible steps to legalize their immigration status.

So, Alabama, with your Stalinist immigration policies!    ….Take that!  

 

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3
Sep

wendy and the lost boys

I want to share information about this wonderful book I am reading about the Playwright Wendy Wasserstein.

I can’t write about the book just yet – I’m not nearly finished with it.  But, it’s the kind of book that refuses to let you go.

Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein is the title of the book; written by the remarkable Julie Salamon.

Wendy passed away from cancer at age 55.   She is the author of the Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig, Isn’t it Romantic, Uncommon Women and Others, and more.

For the Heidi Chronicles, she won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award.   You don’t have to be a lover of the theatre to love this book.

I’ve never really been able to accept that she’s gone.  She would have had more Pulitzer Prizes’ and Tony’s if her light still burned.

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. ~ Shakespeare

25
Jul

faith hope and love

I’m feeling a little under the weather tonight – exhausted mostly.  And, I just lost all the data in my iPhone as I was trying to update the software.  I figured out how to restore it, I think.  The phone seems to be righting itself.  It’s taking a long time, though.   I’d be lost without my iphone…. I have faith it will straighten itself out….

Anyway, I don’t have the energy to write tonight.   So, I’m leaving you with a passage from Corinthians, that I have loved since I was a child.

One of the bloggers here, Faith, shared this passage today.  And, I remembered how much I loved it, and how it made me feel to read it.

I am not one to read the bible, or go to church, or pray very much.  But I do have faith – in love especially.

In truth, I have only read pieces here and there from the bible, never the whole thing.

My bible is Shakespeare, poetry, and good fiction.  My personal God lives in everything and everyone, and of course, in Nature.

The interesting thing about this passage – no two versions of it are alike.  There is a vast differences from one version to the next.   I kind of like this version:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.   ~ 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

I have a great story for tomorrow, by the way…. you’ll love it!

17
Jul

freedom

The clock in an Orlando jail struck midnight and the bars opened and out she walked with her freedom fighter, Jose Baez.

She is free. Casey Anthony, according to the laws of this wonderful country, can now walk into freedom unburdened by the fear of retribution or hate or those who would do her harm.

It is beneath us as citizens to spew hate at a free American citizen.  We are better than this.

It was a few minutes after midnight, exactly three years from her initial arrest, and Casey Anthony took long and quick strides behind Jose and into an awaiting car and toward freedom.

I watched how she walked as she left the jail.  As I watched the replay of her release from jail, I thought to myself, this is the first time Casey Anthony has been able to walk without chains and handcuffs!

Seeing her dart out of jail behind Jose, I noticed that her arms were not keeping time with her strides as she walked.  It was if her arms were stuck to her sides.  And then, I realized, she has not been able to walk like that in three years!  No wonder she seemed awkward.

Leaving the Jail Behind. Photo Credit: Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

You can see in this picture just how odd her posture is as she walks.

It’s as if she’s not sure how to walk, and is placing her arms behind her body to be handcuffed.

This is not the same nimble girl we saw in so many trial-pictures.

Besides that, look at the guy in the uniform with the big gun!

Who did he think he might have to shoot with that gun?

Casey was found not guilty – how bizarre it is that her first taste of freedom happened with guns all around, helicopters in the air, law enforcement on horseback, the general public screaming, “MURDERER,” and the paparazzi click, click, clicking away, dressing the dark, hot night with continuous bursts of light.

Freedom is something I take for granted. I hardly think about it.  Tonight I am thinking about it and realize how grateful I am for my freedom.

How do we define freedom when we are already free?  I guess, the only way for me to define freedom, really, is to define what it is not.

Not being free is to not have keys to the bars on your door.

Esoterically speaking you could say that freedom means being alive.  Aside from that, three years in jail is the absence of freedom.

If my windows and walls were made of bars, I would not be…:

  • going to Target
  • taking a bike ride
  • getting a new car
  • eating toast with guava jelly
  • having a beer
  • wearing a hat
  • eating ice cream with chocolate sauce that becomes like a hard chocolate shell, then heaping whip cream on top of that
  • kissing my dog making loud smooch-smooch sounds
  • tasting warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven
  • falling asleep on the couch
  • chatting with neighbors and their kids
  • laughing when my dog yelps and moves his feet in the air during a bad dream
  • eating eggs with grits for dinner
  • eating chocolate for breakfast
  • playing dominoes
  • eating blueberries one by one
  • taking pictures of butterflies
  • playing solitaire on the computer
  • extra pickles on a hot pastrami & cheese sandwich
  • seeing a ballet
  • getting a tweet
  • meeting friends for lunch
  • going thrift-shopping
  • eating Filet Mignon medium rare
  • wearing a new outfit
  • eating a baked potato – loaded
  • loving the smell of fresh bed sheets
  • yawning because someone else did
  • hearing children laugh
  • blogging
  • painting my toenails black
  • paying bills and having money left over
  • getting a goody-bag from mom
  • reading Shakespeare
  • going to the theatre with friends
  • Googling
  • looking at old pictures
  • wearing pearl earrings with matching pearl necklace
  • having seven pairs of flip-flops
  • putting a banana, with strawberries, and blueberries and ice in a blender and then drinking it
  • watching a movie in the middle of the day and not worrying about things I should be doing or need to be doing
  • listening to James Taylor
  • watching my dog eat a treat
  • going to “Butterfly World”
  • enjoying a cold diet Dr. Pepper when it really quenches my thirst
  • finding a lost earring
  • having thai food
  • Seeing Degas paintings up close
  • getting a new Netflix movie in the mail
  • seeing a rainbow
  • falling asleep outdoors
  • brushing my teeth when ever I want to
  • voting

I could keep this list going.

I am so grateful for the little things.

13
Jul

this is my symphony

It’s Wednesday, which means there are only two more days until the weekend….and sleeping in.

I live for weekends!

It’s not that I don’t like to work, because I do, but it’s not my favorite thing to do – it’s not my symphony, it’s not my passion, but it’s okay.

I like working at a university – it’s both a lovely and fun environment.  The campus is beautiful, too: www.nova.edu

The work I do is called Instructional Design.  I write training for employees of the university, not for students, though students are the ultimate benefactors of trained employees.

My work entails analyzing what learners should learn, and how they will learn it.  So, I design and develop curriculum that I break down into relevant chunks, i.e., small sections of learning activities.

Most times, I deliver the material in the classroom, too.  I call on my acting skills to get me through that, as I’d rather be writing and creating curriculum than teaching it. It’s because I’m an introvert, but can easily go into “showtime” mode and turn into an extrovert when I have to, though it’s exhausting at the end of the day.

I have read that it’s fairly easy to tell if you’re an extrovert or an introvert by determining if you feel energized as a result of working or being with a large group of people.  If other people energize and make you happy, chances are you’re an extrovert.  If, on the other hand, it’s exhausting to work with groups of people, chances are you’re an introvert.

What got me started on this?  LOL!  Oh! (I had to look back), I was talking about the kind of work I do and then began to ramble.

I’m tired tonight.  And I don’t really want to talk about the Casey Anthony case because there’s nothing new!

Well, that’s not entirely true…. I read a couple of things.  The law firm handling the Zanny the Nanny case, Morgan and Morgan, concerned that Casey Anthony will skip town as soon as she’s released from jail, want her to be deposed at the jail, before she’s released.  There will be a hearing to determine if this can occur, maybe as early as tomorrow.  I believe they want to depose her on Friday.  It’s an emergency motion that will be heard in front of the Judge in the Civil trial –  Judge Jose Rodriquez.

So, that’s it for tonight, though I did want to leave you with this lovely thought:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony.  –-William Henry Channing, clergyman, reformer (1810-1884)

Don’t you just love the line, “This is my symphony?”  I do.

Days are always better when I hear a symphony – real or imagined.

1
May

Life is Eternal

Just a short time has passed since the untimely death of Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) Detective, Michael Erickson.

As the Caylee Anthony case evolved, so did my admiration for all the men and women of the OCSO, especially for the detectives working the case.  These men and women were incredibly committed, worked so diligently to bring to justice the murderer of the beautiful child, Caylee Marie Anthony.

The OCSO Detectives on Caylee’s case were her voice.  They spoke for her then; they still do.

One of these detectives was Michael Erickson.

I remember Detective Erickson’s voice and remember how kind yet professional he seemed.  He was on the witness list for Caylee’s case, too.

Detective Erickson was a husband, father and grandfather.  He looked so young; I was surprised to learn he was a grandfather.

I know the loss of a father, too.

Soon after my father passed away, I’d lost a dear friend – she was helping me get through my father’s loss when she died. The year was 2000, and it was an immensely painful time – I was a basket case for a while.

A friend sent me a lovely poem/essay that she thought would help ease my pain and anger (I was so angry for a long time afterward).  This poem was like a light piercing through my darkness.  It reminded me of the faith that I’d been questioning, and it did ease my mind. I read all kinds of inspirational books at the time, but what I am about to share with you, helped more than any book….

This is dedicated to the family of Detective Michael Erickson – especially to Krista.

Life is Eternal

I am standing upon the seashore

A ship at my side spreads

her white sails to the morning

breeze and starts for the blue

ocean.  She is an object of

beauty and strength and I

stand and watch her until

at length she hangs

like a speck of white cloud

just where the sea and sky

come down to mingle with

each other.  Then some one

at my side says: “There!

She’s gone.”

Gone where?  Gone from

my sight – that is all.  She

is just as large in mast

and hull and spar as she

was when she left my side,

and just as able to bear her

load of living freight to the

place of destination.  Her

diminished size is in me,

not in her; and just at the

moment when some one at

my side says, “There! She’s

gone,” there are other eyes

watching her coming, and

other voices ready to take

up the glad shout, “There

she comes!”

by Henry Van Dyke


16
Jan

full version Martin Luther King’s: I have a dream

This is the entire Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech.  It’s 17 minutes.

“Now is the time to rise,” he says, “to make justice a reality for all of God’s children…”

We have come a long way with regards to Civil Rights, but not far enough – not yet. But, as he says: “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.”

We can dream.

28
Nov

HOPE for a BETTER WORLD

This is a short, but powerful, video featuring one of the most famous speeches by Harvey Milk, given in 1978.

Listen to Harvey Milk.  Listen to his message of  hope, peace, equality and justice for all.

We are all one people in this wide world.  Let us stop bullying each other.

Our classrooms are filled with children who, because of ignorance on the part of their parents, condone Gay hatred and thus we have young people committing suicide.  Young people who were born Homosexual but are too young to understand what it means to be Gay.  They are too young to know that being Gay is RIGHT for them.  Children who are too young to appreciate that no one should care about an individuals sexuality because it belongs to the individual.

There is no right or wrong in being Gay or Straight.  One is not better or worse than the other.  Believe this.  Live this for the sake of our children.  For the sake of children who will grow up to be lovely human beings, not necessarily because of their homosexuality, but because they will have grown up with a sensitivity that will become a lovely sensibility.

Believe this.  Stop the hatred.  Stop the bullying.  Condone kindness, empathy, and appreciate the different colors and the different sexuality that others own.

Live your own life without fear or judgment.

Just.  Live.

Say no to fear.

Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio there is a young gay person who all the sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child, and the Anita Bryant’s and John Briggs’ are doing their part on TV. And that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide. And then one day that child might open the paper that says “Homosexual elected in San Francisco” and there are two new options: the option is to go to California, or stay in San Antonio and fight. Two days after I was elected I got a phone call and the voice was quite young. It was from Altoona, Pennsylvania. And the person said “Thanks”. And you’ve got to elect gay people, so that thousand upon thousands like that child know that there is hope for a better world; there is hope for a better tomorrow. Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s: without hope the us’s give up. I know that you can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope. -Harvey Milk, 1978

27
Nov

the work of forgiveness

Thanksgiving weekend and the air around us seems to literally sing as our friends and loved ones gather around us – as we give thanks that our loved ones joyously grace our lives.

The ability to feel thankful rises from one’s ability to be truly grateful, this goes without saying. But, what about forgiveness? From where does that rise?

When one cannot forgive is it because gratitude and forgiveness are inexorably weaved together via our near-perpetual state of humanness? Is it due to our being human and thus imperfect, that we can not always forgive? It seems to me that choosing to not forgive is the ultimate negative emotion. Think of all the negativity involved in the act of refusing to forgive!

Often we hear people cry, “I just can’t forgive this”, or “I just won’t forgive that….” We nod and say, “I hear ya’, you need to just walk away from that.” And, yes, it is true, there comes a time when, to save our sanity, it is necessary to “walk away” when we feel put upon, abused or used. That is a positive first step. But I think it’s only the first in a long series of steps in the work of forgiveness.

But, do we always walk away with an intent to forgive eventually? What does it take to forgive? Is it necessary to forgive?

When one thinks of what it takes to forgive, really forgive, can that also include a murderer on death row?

Who among us could forgive a murderer? I don’t know if I could, but I have read about people who have been victims of murderers who go to the prison, face the guilty, and forgive them – right in the face of the murderer they say, “We forgive what you did because we know you are sorry for what you have done.” (Will forgiveness work only when the wrong-doer is repentant? I tend to think that is the case.)

Think of the redemption in the act of forgiving like God would forgive! Does the thought of such deep forgiveness stir something in you, as it does me? I want to believe that I could be such a forgiving person should a murderer kill my loved ones, but, to be honest, I don’t know if in reality I could be so forgiving.

I say so often, “Well, we are only human.” In the case of forgiving a murderer, I think it applies – we are not God, right? Well, this is indeed true, but can’t we be “god-like” in our actions and reactions?

I write about the Casey Anthony case because I have so much vested in the case – I’ve followed this case for so long and though I tire of it at times, I am fascinated by it, as many of us are.

And I often think, who is left to forgive Casey Anthony?

Her parents and family can’t forgive her and this is why they choose to believe someone other than Casey killed Caylee.

Can we forgive Casey Anthony? Does it even matter if we choose to forgive her or not?

I don’t have the answer to that. However, here’s a short passage from a little book I treasure. It will not answer the question for us, but may get us to think about what it really means to forgive and live with a grateful heart.

Maybe.

The following is taken from the text: “Attitudes of Gratitude”, by M.J. Ryan., pages 111-113.

Nothing blocks feelings of gratitude more than anger and resentment. That’s why the practice of gratitude requires the work of forgiveness. We can’t feel grateful to our parents for what we received from them when we are still angry about their abuse, self-involvement, insensitivity, alcoholism, or neglect. Nor can we receive the gifts of a relationship that has ended when we still feel hurt over betrayal, angry over deceit, sorrowful over abandonment.

Nor should we. Trying to force ourselves to feel grateful when such strong negative feelings exist only compounds the injury. We have been hurt. Let’s not deny our woundedness on top of everything else. Healing, in the form of acknowledging the grievance and grieving the loss or wound, needs to happen first.

However, there comes a time in the process of emotional resolution for forgiveness. For only forgiveness can move us out of the victim stance and free us to move on. Depending on the kind of wound you have suffered, this may be deep psychological and spiritual work. No one can talk you into it. No one can do it for you. Only you can come to the place where you want to forgive.

What helps the forgiveness process is to understand that resentment is a second-hand emotion, a cover for underlying feelings that have never been expressed….

….At some point you realize you are a better, stronger, more loving person than you might have been if you hadn’t been so hurt, and you recognize the gift in your particular suffering. In that moment, you move from victim to victor, from victor to venerated teacher.

Forgiveness leads to gratitude, and not just gratitude in general but, in a beautifully healing movement, to an outpouring of appreciation for the very things that caused such pain in the first place. Thus is our suffering redeemed.

There are many ways to victimize people. One way is to convince them that they are victims. ~ Karen Hwang

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