Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Fall in the River Immediately"

This blog post, Stepping Stone Sunday, speaks to me.
Patti Digh says, " Fall in the river immediately...We lose so much by anticipating, fearing, trying to stay dry. Life is wet and now. Messy, sweet messy. Get soaked to the very bone! Then falling becomes less fearful."

Tomorrow is Sunday. I am moving to a new place, a new home.

I am excited, but there is a small undercurrent of fear about what may or may not happen in the days and weeks to come.

So much to do, so much at stake.

But the reason I am so excited is because this is a risk.

It is a thrill to finally follow my heart, and my heart has been speaking to me loudly in the past few weeks. It may be a risk, but, for me, there is no other choice.

While pulling out my old journals and trying to decide what to do with them, I haphazardly opened to a page that I wrote about a week before I went to college, moving away from home for the first time. I had so many fears, so many uncertainties plaguing my mind. I remember that time quite distinctly because I remember thinking later, I did all of that worrying for nothing.

Life happens whether I worry about it or not, and it almost never goes the way I think it will.

It is usually in the days and weeks right before the transition that I do most of my worrying, (aka, obsessive thinking.) I want this new, uncertain thing to get here already so that I can stop thinking about it and get on with my life.

I was feeling that way a few days ago, my mind circling all the possibilities, the numerous ways things could happen. Suddenly, I didn’t want to do that again. So instead, I drove to the park, and I sat in the grass by the lake while the sun was making its descent in the sky.

I just sat there, and I looked, and I listened, and I felt, and I smelled, and I breathed deeply everything that I saw, heard, felt, and smelled.

Slowly, my mind cleared of all the useless clutter. And I felt very peaceful. I wondered why I didn’t figure this out before—the power of nature to clear my mind and remind me that everything will be okay.

So tomorrow, I am moving to a new place. I don’t know what will happen, or how it will happen, but I have an idea. And my heart has a vision.

Beyond that, I will keep reminding myself to clear my mind of all the useless clutter.

Because a month from now, a year from now, I will know that there was nothing to worry about in the first place.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dropping Keys

A poem from my favorite Persian poet, Hafiz:

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
While the sage
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


we are desensitized
finding and losing
throwing away
tin-rust dreams
eaten by time
and sighs of surrender
cut into the dough and yeast
of a moonless life--

where do you go when you lose the force
that pulls the tides from under your feet,
the certainty and surrender of direction?

we cease our belief
in fairies and dragons
while secretly wishing for heart-pounding mysteries
to fold us into complete abandon,
transform us into shepherds
and sheperdesses
with magic residing under our fingernails.

we pound ourselves out on rocks,
never broken,
only molded
with time and movement
and the hottest fire,
we are smooth
and fiercesome, at the same time,

if we could only see.

failing and building
failing and inventing
new life.
we are fallible and infallible
darkness and light
The beams in our eyes
are always stronger than we know.

Our only true failure
is the thought
that we have failed at all.

A Twinge in My Heart

I am participating in an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

What message is yearning inside you? What is something you know deep in your soul? Don’t look for someone else to describe it. You do it. Write it down. Write it as a poem, a sentence or even just a string of words. Just make sure you get it to paper.

I actually wrote and posted this short poem earlier this morning, before I looked to see what the prompt today was. It seems to have answered the above question before I even knew what it would be.

A sudden thought, a twinge in my heart:
I want what you want for me God.
Because your ways are Beautiful
and Mighty
and Glorious
and I marvel at your Majesty
working in my life
all around me
the way you speak to me
your Spirit moving within my heart and Soul
causing me to want more
of You
and like a bird
I rise higher and higher
on the gusts of wind
you send my way.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Am Good Enough

I am participating in an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future.

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

At any given point in time, you’re only one thought away from changing your thinking. What thought can you change today?

I have so many thoughts that I am working on changing. It is tough sometimes to un-root all the bad habits, the negative thoughts that underlie my life and that I’m not always even aware of because I’ve had them for so long!

But today, in this moment, what would I change?

Immediately it comes to mind, the thought that I am not good enough. Perhaps “hell” is always comparing myself to people who seem to do life so much better than I am.

These past few weeks, I have been learning to accept myself the way I am, right now, in each and every moment. I am accepting my flaws, loving them, especially for what they keep teaching me. Because no one is perfect, and while I have never wished or tried to be “perfect,” I am seeing that perfect is boring. Sure, I’m not so great at small talk, and I’ve had plenty of awkward conversations and more embarrassing moments than I care to remember. But that is a part of who I am.

I have always been shy ever since I was a little girl, a trait I have not been able to shake no matter how hard I have tried. So finally, I’m accepting it. Yes, I am shy. But I am going to talk to people anyway. And it may feel like I fail at it, like it could have gone way smoother, but I am going to keep doing it anyway.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teach Me About Love

I am participating in an online initiative and 30 day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.

“Books are the best of things, well used. What is the right use? What is the one end, which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

As a writer, your only duty is to be original, to inspire, to put something new on paper. Don’t be reasonable – your job is to to fire up people’s imaginations, to give them permission to dream, and to lift their heads up to the incredible sight of the stars. They may forget what you wrote about – but they won’t forget how you made them feel.
It’s your turn now. Dream, be unreasonable and write what comes to you for 15 minutes.


Life is sacred. But how does one live a sacred life? Every day, I keep reminding myself to live in the present, to “be here now,” to not worry about the future and what it may or may not hold. There is so much that I want, but if I dwell on what I do not have yet, or that which is hard to come by, I miss out on all the moments happening underneath my nose.

This is a challenge for me. Be content right now, accepting myself as who I am in this moment. It is a challenge to be happy when the guy I want to know better seems to be out of my reach. It is a challenge to be peaceful when I am not confident in my own words, thoughts, and actions, when I am fearful of taking risks. Because what would happen if I actually got what I wanted? What if I didn’t want it anymore? What if I hurt people? Disappoint them? But the other question begs, “What if you don’t?”

And so here I am, plunging into the great unknown, trusting that the One who made me will lead me through troubled waters onto steady ground. I have several risks I am about to take, but I do not want to say too much because the time has not come to make them real. But I cannot ignore my heart’s leading, the intuition that prods me in one direction or the other. I’ve ignored it before, many times, and my own ignorance caused me great heartache, unnecessary misery.

Nearly two months ago, I asked God to teach me about love. Because I am more clueless than anyone. I felt as if God laughed and said, “Finally! It’s about time!”

It struck me as funny that I have never thought that precise thought before—I have never asked God to teach me about love, somehow as if God and love are separate things. But when I said this thought, I felt God laugh, and my eyes stung with tears. There was a deep pang in my chest as I wondered at the enormity, yet simplicity of such a request.

Now here I am, two months later, and I am simply amazed, humbled, and gratified at all the things God has been teaching me. He has been easing me into it, but the message is clear…He is not merely going to “teach” me about love. He is going to fill my life with it so that I experience it in all its glory, in all its many forms. Just wait, He says. There is much more to come.

Perhaps the hardest thing He has called me to do, aside from accepting such boundless love, is to give it away with my arms stretched wide and all the generosity I can muster.

It requires, in every moment, a shifting of my thoughts from the darkness of my past, to the heights and glory of His all-consuming purpose.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I wasn't sure how to go about it,
or what to ask,
or if you'd even answer.
The blue in your eyes throws me off every time,
and I'm left hanging on the space in between
watching the words from your lips
and pretending that I really am on the ground.

I couldn't be sure what to say
or why my hands were shaking,
my words stuck in my throat like a fat rabbit
in a tiny hole,
or why my heart beat faster than
bolts of lightning crashing down trees.

Your voice, it lifts me every time,
and my soul tries to catch it
like a butterfly in a net
or a firefly in my hands,
but instead it catches me
and throws me to the place
of never knowing
where I stay
in the middle,
the air beneath the air.
And there, I am content.

This is My Hope

You know what I find amazing about God? He doesn't belong to any one religion. As much as we'd like to think so, we can't own Him. We create all these little puny boxes, and this one's labeled "Christianity" and that one's labeled "Jewish" and that one over there is "Muslim" and right here we've got an "unbeliever" in whatever sense of the word. But what a lot of people overlook is: God is in all the boxes. But most of all, He is outside the boxes too. And once you climb out of your particular tiny box you've been cooped up in all your life, you'll see that He's a lot bigger than you ever imagined. And you'll see that He doesn't care what's inside of your box, because whether you're outside or in, He is working there. But if you choose to stay inside that box, there is a good chance you'll never see the larger picture. You'll never experience freedom and a love that embraces all things. You'll never truly grow, because that box is cramping your roots. And you're roots are trying desperately to escape the walls you're enclosed in, and if you don't give your roots that freedom, parts of you will die. Your joy, your light, your soul. If you want to find God and free your soul, climb a mountain, deconstruct that box, float down every river you come to, take every path that calls your name. Because wherever you go, God is there. And wherever God is, there you are.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ben's Birthday + Yoga for Back Care

Last Monday was my brother's fifth birthday. Since my mom had to work third shift the night before (she's a nurse), I took over most of his birthday preparations. How sad would it be if no one made him a cake or wrapped his presents?
Here he is with the beautiful cake that I had fun making even though I didn’t eat any:

Last night, I was doing my Yoga for Back Care DVD with Rodney Yee. I have come to accept that I won't be able to do regular yoga. At least any time soon. I won't be able to do all those flexible configurations, those complicated poses that require a bendy body. My body is not bendy. Not like it used to be when I was a runner and before I herniated a disc in my lower back/spine. There is now a stiffness in my legs that I can't fully straighten, and I'm not going to try. For a long time, I was afraid to do anything about my back stretching wise. I didn't want to tear/hurt/dislocate anything. I didn't (and don't) want to do any bending forward movements since that is what I had done when my disc tore. I was bending over to pick up a dirty sock. My back was already in a fragile place to begin with. The bending movement only shoved me over the edge.

So I have only recently begun taking care of my back in an active, stretchy way in a hope to strengthen it and prevent future injury. Rodney Yee's yoga routine for the back really helps. His poses are simple and they target the muscles of the back to loosen and relax them. If anything doesn't feel right, I don't do it. But mostly, all the poses stretch me in a gentle way, making me fluid and mindful of my back, spine, and entire body.

I don't do my back yoga until the evening or pretty close to when I am going to bed. I tried to do it in the morning once, but I still felt way too tight. I need the day time to loosen up slowly and then the yoga at night helps me to relax and let go of the stress I have accumulated. I think it helps me sleep better too.

Last night, while doing my yoga, Ben comes into my room. I have a big double bed, and he usually shares it with me after I read him a story. It's a nightly ritual that sometimes is an annoying habit, but sometimes I don't mind either. So he comes in, ready for his story, and I tell him to wait quietly until I am finished with my stretching. He sits cross-legged on the bed and watches the DVD. Then he starts doing the poses too. It was the cutest thing ever to glance over and see a little 5-year old doing yoga stretches.

Eventually he came to the floor to do them along with me. And then he said, "I need a comfy mat too." So I shared my mat with him. I don't know how relaxing and mindful I was at that point because I couldn't help laughing at his sincere attempts to do some of the poses. But surprisingly, he followed along pretty well. Once, he said, “You make it look so easy.” (Ha!) And another time, “Are all of these supposed to stretch the spine or something?” (Yup) Anyway, he’s a cutie, and he’s always my entertainment.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

8 Things I Have Learned from Eat, Pray, Love (hopefully for good)

Several posts ago, I wrote briefly about Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love and how much I enjoyed it. I also shared several of my favorite quotes, which is a very very small piece of what I liked about the memoir because I found myself wanting to quote almost everything. However, I did not share what I got out of the book personally, and, for my own benefit more than anything, I feel the need to make a list of what I got out of the book. Because I am certainly thinking and acting differently now that I have read it. If this makes any sense at all, I feel like a more intentional person, or at the very least, as if I am shifting in that direction. So here are some things that I got out of Eat, Pray, Love:

1. I don't worry as much anymore. About a number of things. Currently, I'm not worried about when I get married or who I will marry. That part of my life is best left to God because any time that I try to make things happen, it never works out. Liz jumped the gun with her marriage and found out later that it was not what she wanted at all. During this period of singleness, I am learning patience, as well as, trying to figure out who I am, what I want, and what love means exactly.

2. I'm not worried about money. I used to worry about it all the time, and I was a stingy person as a result. But I have been finding that there is joy in giving my money to benefit other people. It makes me want to keep giving more, and in the end, I always find that I have either enough or more than enough, and that God keeps on blessing me.

It is important to clarify, that I do not give so I can reap blessings from God (even though that is a nice thought, blessings, that is). My main reason for giving is because I hate the selfish, ungrateful person I become when I am hanging onto every penny and then squandering it on things for myself. Deep down, I really despise that person. It took a force of will to make myself start giving a portion of money away each month. I didn't want to. I really didn't. Finally, I asked God to please show me who I should give to because I kept coming up with excuses as to why I should keep putting it into my bank account. But giving away my money when I have bills to pay helps me build trust in God. It shows me that He will always take care of me and that I have so much to be grateful for because I live in a house, I have enough to eat, I have more than enough clothes, and I am surrounded by family and friends. Not to mention, I have several jobs on top of all that.

While I already had the above thoughts circling in my mind before I read her book, Liz seemed to validate these ideas and show them in action. And while before, I tried not to worry about money, the difference is that now I do not worry about money.

3. I find myself praying and talking to God more. I find myself wanting to have quiet time so I can discover what God is saying to me and what my heart is telling me. I want the same peace of mind, the same joy and simplicity that Liz Gilbert found from her meditation practices. I also see that peace of mind is a choice and that it is not an impossible thing to want, but if I do want it, then I am the one who must ask for it and do everything I can to attain it.

4. I find myself looking at life through a more humorous lens. Sometimes I take things way too seriously, and I miss out on a lot of fun and laughter. Perhaps I should laugh at myself more, and maybe if I smile more in general, it will start feeling more natural. This is a hard thing to do when you are already thoroughly irritated, but it's worth a shot. The old medicine man in Bali gave Liz the simplest meditation to practice: Just sit and smile, he told her.

5. I don't feel the need to criticize "religion." Well, the many facets of the Christian religion. Growing up in a Christian home, it has always been something that has hovered over me. Lately, it is not something I want to focus on anymore. I would rather work on myself and try to love people more because that is one thing I have a hard time with. Until then, I just want to forget about everything else.
In the past, when someone had a different viewpoint than me on the subject of religion, I felt a sort of unresolved discontentment. This comes from my Christian upbringing, I suppose, where one is told that we should be "evangelizing" all the time and "saving" people. I have never been all that comfortable with modern sales-pitch evangelizing, but for a long while, I felt a certain amount of guilt whenever I let a moment pass when I could have been "witnessing" to someone. And that is all I'm going to say because I'd rather not bore myself or anyone else for that matter. There is one part in the book where someone tells Liz, if someone tries to argue with you about a certain aspect of their spirituality, for instance, they are trying to tell you that their way of praying is the best, simply say, "I agree," and then go home and pray your way. I found it amazingly reassuring and relieving that I don't have to make people see my way, and I don't need to get disgruntled if they think or do something different than me. It's simply not that important. There is also a quote that I like from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "God enters by a private door into every individual."

6. Life is a brilliant adventure. What more can I say? Except that I don't feel like I'm tapping into the adventure part of life very actively. But I should start. And it's not that I should, but that I want to.

7. God does answer prayers. Sometimes in a timely fashion, sometimes not. It struck me as very awesome and very revealing that Liz's prayers were answered, often in humorous, ironic ways. Sometimes right away, and sometimes later down the road when she least expected it. But they did get answered. Somehow, and this book has a lot to do with it, I feel more confident with my prayers. When I pray, I expect things to happen. For some reason, before, it had always been a question.

8. Good things will come in their own time. Life may seem miserable and full of despair now, but if I could see several years down the road, I would see that I have nothing to worry about at all. Any pain I am feeling now, will make the good things that happen later all the more meaningful.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Yoga, Ridiculous Easter Movies, and Attempts of a (sometimes) Fashionista

Today I wore an outfit where every article of clothing was a different color. (I've been trying to utilize more of my wardrobe lately). I wore a corduroy skirt which is a mauve-ish/purplish color, blue leggings, a mustard yellow shirt, and a green zip-up sweater. I realized I probably didn't match at all, but it was comfortable, and my sister, who is a fashionista and is always creating these unique, dazzling outfits, informed me that all the colors looked good together. But whether she said that or the very opposite, I would have worn it anyway. (Maybe).

It is a chilly, cloudy day and my little brother is angry that my parents are forcing him to go to soccer practice. I feel bad for him. He's my little buddy, and I'm always wanting to cheer him up or make him laugh, but now I have to be the grown up too and let my parents force him to soccer practice.

Last night, my entire family went to the movies. I didn't care what we saw, but Ben really wanted to watch Hop, which looked entirely ridiculous to me, but I knew that he definitely shouldn't watch Arthur (with Russell Brand) because, even though it looked hilarious, it probably wasn't appropriate for a 4 year old. So Ben and I ate popcorn and raisinets and watched Hop, which happened to have Russell Brand in it also, while my parents and sister went to Arthur. I cringed slightly at all the Easter stuff, like the candy factory and the bunnies and chickens, but it was entertaining and cute to say the least, mostly because the main character is the attractive guy who played the hero in 27 Dresses. In this movie, he's still cute with that endearing smile, and he is in his 20s, with no job and no ambition so his parents kick him out of the house, upon where he meets a disturbing little bunny named EB who has runaway from being the Easter bunny and who has Russell Brand's amazing voice.

I have to say, this movie had much better acting than a previous movie I've seen...which would be...I'm trying to think of it...Oh yes. Eat, Pray, Love. After reading the amazing book, I watched parts of the un-amazing movie. The acting was not very good and the dialogue was awkward, and some of the scenes seemed displaced, and I couldn't bare to watch it after having read the actual book, which was fabulous, and hilarious and life-changing altogether! So anyways, I thought the acting in Hop was much better than in Eat, Pray, Love.

In other news, I bought a yoga mat. A dark green yoga mat with a yellow-green design of a tall plant on it. I have decided to take up the practice of yoga in hopes to improve my flexibility and strengthen/heal my back, which has been doing much better by the way. (I herniated a disc in my lower back last summer, which took a long long time to recover). So we'll see how it goes. My flexibility is currently that of the creaky tin man in The Wizard of Oz. Any sort of bending is very close to impossible. When I do Downward Dog, I feel like I am closer to doing the Plank instead. The only comfort is the nice pretty lady on the DVD who keeps saying to do what my body is comfortable with.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love

I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love right now, and I think I'm falling in love with it. Perhaps because I feel like I'm becoming a better person as I'm reading it. The kind of person who is more sure of herself, less afraid to make mistakes, and more willing to live fully in the present. Liz Gilbert just took me on this amazing trip to Italy, and now I am living with her in an Ashram in India soaking up the wisdom that she is soaking up from the unique people around her as she learns the art of devotion, develops a yearning for God's presence, and makes me want to teleport to that very spot in India right this second. She describes her first night there, in the cool temple courtyard surrounded by the gardens, underneath the starry midnight sky, accompanied by the voices lifted up in song with the beat of the drums increasing in speed and excitement as they greet the approaching new year.

Even though I am not physically there, I feel like her experience has become a part of me, a kind of yearning for more beauty and more sacredness in my life. Because that is what I felt when I read that particular passage. I felt as if I were stepping into something sacred and passionate.

And then there are the people who speak words of truth and encouragement into her life, words that propel her on her journey of healing. Here are some of my favorites:

Teenage Indian boy: "Take seriously. Make punctual. Be cool and easy. Remember--everything you do, you do for God. And everything God does, He do for you." 131

Richard from Texas: “Stay put Groceries. Forget about sight seeing—you got the rest of your life for that. You’re on a spiritual journey baby. Don’t cop out and only go halfway to your potential. You got a personal invitation from God here—you really gonna turn that away?

Liz (aka. Groceries): “But what about all those beautiful things to see in India? Isn’t it kind of a pity to travel halfway around the world just to stay in a little Ashram the whole time?

Richard from Texas: “Groceries, baby, listen to your friend Richard. You go set your lily-white ass down in that meditation cave every day for the next three months and I promise you this—you’re gonna start seeing some stuff that’s so damn beautiful it’ll make you wanna throw rocks at the Taj Mahal.”

More from Richard from Texas:

“Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don’t you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean you got zapped kiddo. But that love you felt, that’s just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That’s just limited little rinky-dinky mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceries—you have the capacity to someday love the whole world…”

Liz responds to this epic, heart-revitalizing statement: “But…I seriously believed David was my soul mate.”

Get ready for another epic piece of wisdom from Richard:

“He probably was. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. …”

So that’s just a little taste of the book and some passages that opened up a different way of thinking to me. If you ever get the chance, this book is a great read.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Perv Update!

Okay, here is a short note just to say: "He got caught!!!"

No, not just caught flashing his winky (which I am happy to say my distracted mind did not glimpse.) See my brief account of the disturbing encounter.

The license plate my friend and I turned into the police department was indeed correct. That night, at around 10 pm, the cops pulled his truck over when he was just getting off work. They arrested him, and it turned out that he confessed. He had been scared all day. Apparently, as he had leaped into his truck and sped off, he had heard my friend and I say something about his license plate as we whipped out our phones. No sir, we are not the naive 16 year olds we may look like. We are in our twenties, too old for your 19-year old self.

I am glad that we were able to put some fear into him. Things like that just should not happen when I am trying to take a walk on a lovely March day.

The Magic of Three Small Sentences

The note taped to the Sub Folder read: "Don't worry about anything. Do what you can. Enjoy the day."

In the three seconds that it took me to read those words, my mood shifted completely from dread and subtle anxiety to confidence and determination to have fun. Because standing in a Kindergarten class five minutes before the little kids you've never met before run in, it's impossible to know what exactly to expect.

Last night, when I received the call I was filled with dread, wishing I hadn't said yes, even though I've never said no yet. This morning, before reaching the school, I felt a little better. And then the note. I felt completely different. Don't worry... Enjoy the day...

Today didn't have to be miserable, and I wasn't about to make it so for these kids.

They were a great class, and by the end of the morning, my favorite class I decided. They were chattery, but they listened to me and followed instructions without much hassle. With all of the morning work done, the afternoon was a bit more relaxing as I let the kids play with puzzles and other games. A group of the kids soon were helping each other put together a big puzzle, and they were working together quite well. I had popped in a Yanni for the very young CD (at least I think it was Yanni?), and I noticed the kids didn't argue with each other over the pieces with the music playing (like they did before.) They sang along with the catchy, funny songs.

What if I had listened to my dread and said "No"? What if that note hadn't been there to brush away my anxious thoughts? I would have missed out on a great class to sub for. Or perhaps I wouldn't have been so at ease with myself and the kids. I've written those three sentences on a yellow index card. It will be taped on my wall by my desk from now on. But more importantly, the message and the peace it brought me will be fastened securely in my mind as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pervert on the Lam

My friend and I were five minutes into our walk when a blue pickup truck pulled off to the side of the road on my left. I was talking so I barely had time to realize what was happening. A guy got out of the truck and said, "Hey check this out." All that registered in my mind in those three to five seconds was that he had blonde hair, why the heck is he talking to us, and "Oh my gosh, what is he doing with his belt?!"

We kept walking, ignoring him, and Heather got out her phone and recorded the blue truck's license plate. I'm glad she was with me because I would have been too confused to even think about getting the license plate, and the idiot guy in the truck drove away before I could get a closer look at it.

We were angry and partially in shock. This had never happened to us before. "It was all hanging out there," she said as she tried to remember the phone number for the police station. Luckily I hadn't seen. Perhaps I have my poor prescription glasses to thank for that. I'll tell you one thing. I am never walking that way again, and I am never going to walk by myself if I can help it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Materialism, Spirituality, and Jane Goodall

The other day at work, I wrote:

I’ve been thinking about money lately. How our lives, in a way, revolve around it. How it can either trap us or free us. How it seems we can’t do anything without it. We need money to eat, travel, buy the things we want. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so dependent on money. I wish I could be like Jane Goodall and live among animals in the forest…

I think everyone feels like that from time to time. We want to escape this chaotic structure that doesn’t always seem to make sense. But even Jane had to leave the haven of her forest in Gombe, Africa to go back to England or to teach at Harvard, or as she did in her later years, face the harrowing long weeks where she traveled the world to advocate for animal rights.

If you couldn’t tell, I am nearly finished reading Jane Goodall’s memoir, A Reason for Hope, where she describes her early life, her passion for animals, and how she came to study chimpanzees in Africa, which became her life’s work. It is a good book, very thoughtful and thought-provoking, and in one of the last chapters, in almost perfect timing with my own thoughts, I thought I found an answer (or something close to it) to the Western materialism that invades our lives and, at times, seems to box us in.

Jane aims at where such materialism began. Growing up in England during World War II and witnessing the horrors of Nazi regime, she reflects that the luxuries we now take for granted, were simply unavailable back then. At that time, however, she learned the true value of food, clothing, shelter, and life itself. Often, they did not feel it was their right to own a bicycle, television, dishwasher or other amenities that so many people find necessary for daily life.

She writes, “Of course, I understood why those who had lived through war or economic disasters, and who had built for themselves a good life and a high standard of living, were rightly proud to be able to provide for their children those things which they themselves had not had. And why their children, inevitably, took those things for granted. It meant that new values and new expectations had crept into our societies along with new standards of living. Hence the materialistic and often greedy and selfish lifestyle of so many young people in the Western world, especially in the United States.”

She continues by wondering if such young people were content with such a lifestyle? This is where I fall in sometimes. I have so much, especially compared to many others in less developed countries, but sometimes I find myself wanting more and feeling unsatisfied. When this happens, when I get caught up in money worries, I find myself wishing I could disconnect from all of it, all the concerns for money and jobs and material things I think I need.

Jane says, “Often their behavior suggested that they felt something was missing from their world. Was it, perhaps, a craving for meaning in life which had led to the emergence of the hippies, the flower children of the late 1960s and early 1970s? Was that why so many young people of wealthy parents had left their families to seek new experiences? They had tried living in communes…experimented with drugs, traveled to India in search of gurus. Desperately, or so it seemed to me, they had sought to escape from the soul-numbing materialistic hedonism of their time.”

She also speaks of the newfound or growing interest in Native American cultures and their reverence for the Great Spirit, the Creator, which I have always admired. Sometimes, I find myself wondering what life would be like, what this world would be like, if we had stayed closer to the earth, not defiled nature and instead lived in harmony with it. Of course, I think these thoughts as I am sitting in a small office, facing a computer screen.

So what is the answer? How can we forego the materialistic tendencies of our culture and become in tune with the Great Spirit that is flowing through all life, through all animals, waters, trees, and even humans?

Jane transitions to focusing on our spirits to fill the void. Her insight makes sense and is a new way of understanding “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Afterall, how can we love ourselves and live up to the standards we set for ourselves? She says, “Suddenly it seemed clearer and I thought I understood. The “self” that we had to love was not our ego, not the everyday person who went around behaving thoughtlessly, selfishly, sometimes unkindly, but the flame of pure spirit that is in each and every one of us, that is part of the Creator…That which is loved, I realized, can grow. We had to learn to understand and love this Spirit within in order to find peace within. And only then could we reach out beyond the narrow prison of our own lives, seeking reunion with the Spiritual Power that we call God, or Allah, the Tao, Brahma, the Creator, or whatever our personal belief prescribes. Once we had attained that goal, our power to connect with others so that together we could create a better world, would be immeasurably greater.”

I know that is a lot to quote, but somehow, in the midst of all my worries and musings, those words encouraged me. It put my focus, not on money or materialism, but on the Creator and what money can do to help other people. There are so many good things I could discuss from Jane’s book, (which I may get to later) but for now, I’m going to stop right here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

in and out of the snow

Sometimes I just don't feel like thinking or writing in complete sentences. Today is one of those days. Actually, the past month has felt like that, which is why I've barely posted anything on here. Today, I'm just going to go with it.

Rolled out of bed at 7:20.
Coffee!!! I...need... coffee... to function these days.
Blizzard! Aarghhhh...
7:40. Hope I don't slide into a ditch, as I drive down a country road through blowing snow, one hand on the wheel, guzzling coffee simultaneously. Yes, risky, I know.
Arrive at school and feel a surprising wave of relief that I'm NOT covering for pre-school class today. And all the while I had told myself I didn't mind it...
2nd graders. Ten kids in class. One boy. Poor boy.
Awesome, I tell them to be quiet, and for the most part, they listen. (!)
Very well planned lesson plan.
Ahhh, this is so nice...I can sit by myself in the classroom while kids are at lunch. No more-"Prestin eat your peaches" or " "Sarah stop talking to Lucy and eat."
Let me emphasize once more: Ahhhhh.
Oh my gosh. No more "nap" time either. Ahhhhh.
1:00 Principal: "We're sending you home at 1:30 since you're from out of town and the snow is getting bad. Oh, and you'll still get paid full day."
Thank you proposed 18 inches of snow! Although, another hour and a half here wouldn't have killed me...
Thoughts on today's class: Helping girl to write vocab sentences. Vocab word: "able." Giving her ideas..."You could say, 'My mom is able to make me breakfast.' Does she make you breakfast?" "No. My mom is in jail." "Ohhh...Your dad?"
Later. Same girl. Lying on the floor, crying. Holding envelope of pictures. Her mom and her. Later, I found some letters that she had forgotten, laid out carefully on a table. All from her mom.
"Hello Princess! I am blowing you a kiss. Did you catch it? I miss you very much...Everything will be alright...We will be together again someday...You are a very smart and beautiful girl...I am so proud of you...Stay strong for me...Love, Mommy"
I make it home through the deep blowing snow.
They say 18 inches to fall from the sky.
For now, the roads, sidewalks, and backyards--a smooth, glistening white sea.
How deep, just looking at it, one cannot say.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lazy Day Pizza

I made homemade pizza last night. I've been wanting to make it for a very long time, but I've been either too busy or too lazy. The recipe I used is actually called Lazy Day Wheat Pizza, and since it was a cold ice and snow day yesterday, I thought it would be the perfect time to finally cook it. I had a lot of fun making it too.

It was the pizza to trump all pizzas. Much better than the soggy stuff we got at Happy Joes the night before last, much more wholesome than anything from Pizza Hut or anywhere else. I told my sister over the phone that I was making pizza for supper and she groaned. "We just had pizza for lunch!" she said. But I was sure that mine would be much better than any cafeteria pizza. I know I will be making this much more often. Here is the recipe:

Pizza crust:
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 packet active yeast
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup hot water
1 T oil
1 T honey

Pizza sauce:

1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
1/4 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Stir flour, yeast, and salt together. Add water, oil, and honey. Mix well. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Remove from bowl and place dough on greased pizza pan. Spread dough out thin enough to cover bottom of pan and form an edge. Let rise in warm oven for 5 to 10 minutes with a towel placed over the crust. Remove from oven and spread with sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 425 degrees.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

And Nothing Was Simple There

Before I started reading A Moveable Feast I didn’t understand Ernest Hemingway. I didn’t care enough to understand him anyway. I didn’t get why everyone made such a big deal about him. Maybe its because the first contact I had with his writing was The Old Man and the Sea in high school where I was too impressionable back then, and although I didn’t complain, everyone else did about what a boring piece of writing they had to read. And so they didn’t. But I did, although I can’t remember if I tried to understand it or not, then.

I picked up A Moveable Feast because someone had made a reference to it in their book, and I wanted to know what they were talking about. It’s the kind of book that one can sit comfortably with, and I’ve made it a ritual to sit with it and a cup of tea in the morning to suddenly find myself in Paris or the Austrian mountains and for once see a clear picture of a person who writes because he has to, not for money which he probably couldn’t stand the thought of, but because it was in his blood. Because everything was a story to him and his best friends were pencil and paper so he could get it all down.

He had a funny way of looking at people, like he didn’t miss a thing and he noticed everything about them on the first meeting. I never really knew that first impressions meant anything until he described a person looking “marked for death” or how a man looked rather nasty, not evil, but nasty, and the way these first impressions made him perceive these people from then on. He always seemed to know what was going on and what people were talking about, even though they didn’t say it directly, and I also found that he had a great capacity for being a friend even if he didn’t enjoy being with a person all that much. On the other hand, he could be an angry, intolerant fiend if the right person came along to press his buttons.

He has a way of describing the every day and the mundane in a way that makes you care, and then at the end he’ll throw a twist in that makes you read the paragraph over to figure out the mystery of it that he won’t say flat out.

He is honest in every observation and thought and word.

“I knew I must write a novel…I would put it off though until I could not help doing it. I was damned if I would write one because it was what I should do if were to eat regularly. When I had to write, then it would be the only thing to do and there would be no choice. Let the pressure build. In the meantime, I would write a long story about whatever I knew best.”

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Today is an ocean day. I could feel it when the sun glinted through the window and opened up the call of the ocean within me. The ocean has been calling me for some time. I realized yesterday that it has been calling me since I was eight years old and saw it for the first and only time. I stood on the rocky shore of Virginia with the wind against my face and hair and a hurricane brewing in the sky, and I was not afraid.

Every March or April when Spring is just around the bend and the wind blows in both warm and cool at the same time and the trees are bare but beautiful beneath the golden sky, this feeling comes. I can only describe it as an unexplained joy, the kind you feel for no reason at all. It makes you glad to be alive, fully aware of that moment and no other, when your blood is flowing healthfully through your veins and your nerves are conversing calmly with one another. I didn’t know it then, but it was the wind bringing the ocean to me in the only way it could.

That is how I feel in this instant. However, it is in the deep of winter, the cold is unrelenting, and I am inside so I can not feel any wind. But I can see the trees, and the clouds are silver and gold with bits of pale blue appearing gently above the horizon. And when the wind chimes ding softly, I am sure that it is an ocean day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

See-Through Curtains

Memories are foolish, the girl thought. Foolish like the curtains in her room that people on the outside could see through. The girl liked some memories, like when she was little and would ride her bike down the street without a care in the world. And the way she would play with the neighbor kids, but wouldn’t give one thought to whether they were weird or poor or too good for her.

Some memories the girl hated. Like her first kiss, and her first boyfriend (who didn’t give her that first kiss) or the way the halls of her high school made her feel small and unimportant. In some ways, moving back to her hometown felt like living inside a bad memory.

The girl loved and hated some memories at the same time, but in those instances, hate is a different form of love often mistaken for regret or a strange sadness. A man the girl loved had taken a part of her heart. Sometimes she wondered if she really loved him or if she loved the way he made her feel, and was there really a distinction between the two? The man was strong and smart and surprisingly sensitive. Perhaps the most surprising of all was that he looked twice when she walked by. Yes, that was the most unexplainable part.

When he looked at her, his eyes were pages that she could read volumes upon. At other times, his eyes flipped like a trick mirror. One instant, teasing and flippant, the next serious with desire. She saw the desire, and it both scared, confused, and pleased her all at once.

Foolish, really, she informed herself regularly so that she wouldn’t think of him anymore. It never would have worked. Him and me. The curtains lifted with the breeze coming through the window. The girl looked at them in irritation. It is time for new curtains, she thought. Ones dark as a wall this time. But she knew the curtains in her mind would keep letting certain uncomfortable memories through.