Archive for December, 2008

Winding Down

Posted on December 31, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Philosophy |

Why is the year-end so poignant, yet so hopeful? So busy yet so reflective?

As I watched all ten of Time Magazine‘s Top 10 Viral Videos of 2008, I realized I’d posted on three of them this past year. (Christian the Lion still made me weep; something about the last scene just gets to me!) There are many other “Top 10″ lists at Time‘s link you may enjoy, another of which I’ll post about tomorrow. In the meantime, back to the Viral Videos:

I think the one that summarizes the hope and promise of the year for me is #9 on the list. This one quickly spread all over the world, as a class of teenagers adapted a hip-hop song to encourage voting “however you like!”. What many of you did not see, however, was the follow up interview with the students after the election. I was as moved by one child’s emotional reaction as I was by anything else connected with the US Presidential election this year: “If [he] can become president, I can do anything…”

That, to me, summarizes a year of ups and downs. I truly believe ANY of us can do ANYthing. As I go forward from this tumultuous year, I choose my role models carefully. I listen to my intuitive guidance. Let us do “anything” and “everything” together in 2009. Happy New Year!!!

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Time to celebrate and be joyful

Posted on December 24, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Philosophy, Spirituality |

mooseThis post title has two meanings. One is: “This is a traditional time of year to celebrate, as several religious and secular remembrances are going on now.”

Another meaning is this: “Please do take the time to celebrate!” Sometimes, end-of-year activities can get a little hectic; emotions can run high. I remind myself to—even if only for a few minutes on some days—take some time to breathe, reflect, and be at peace with what is. It can make all the difference in how I go on with my day.

This year, Hanukkah, Christmas, and two friends’ birthdays all come along the same week. I shall be attending a Christmas Eve gathering, which will be a traditional Southwest holiday feast: Homemade tamales and tacos! These will be all vegetarian, and VERY tasty. Good cheer will abound. My only required contribution is a bowl of chopped tomatoes! Even I can do that! ;)

Last year I posted about multiple holidays; Hanukkah came early then, and a couple of the other dates have shifted too. I do recognize and appreciate many holidays: Diwali, Bodhi Day, Hajj, Eid, Winter Solstice and Kwanzaa, among others.

I will have many end-of-year things to say in a little while. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview: “I believe 2009 will be, for number of reasons, one of the more amazing, and life-changing years in our history.”

Be of good cheer, you dearest of bloggers. I truly wish you all the joy the season can bring. pinecones

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Posted on December 15, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Games, Musings, Travel |

Part one of this post is sponsored by my friend, b0bbyg, erstwhile Media Studies student, more recently blog-novelist (bloggelist?). His tag is my command:

4 places I go over and over:

(1) Chorus rehearsal. What can I say; I like to sing!
(2) Science club meeting; ditto
(3) Saguaro National Park – The best hiking in the winter
(4) Trader Joe’s, the best food market

4 people who e-mail me regularly:

(I’ll pick two blog buddies, and two non-bloggies)

(1) thebeadden, to share updates on life, and support in situations.
(2) sulz is sensitive to when I’m challenged by something, and helps me then; and also sometimes asks my advice, which makes me feel good.
(3) My sister. She lives too far away to visit often. It was difficult to get her to use email at first, though.
(4) The president of my chorus board. Usually with things for me to do!

4 of my favorite places to eat:

(1) Quiznos (submarine sandwiches)
(2) Opa! (the best Greek food)
(3) Harvest Moon (my favorite Chinese food place)
(4) Shogun (Sushi!)

4 places you’d rather be NOW:

(1) In my bed as I’m getting sleepy
(2) The South of England
(3) A warm beach on Maui
(4) Anywhere with interesting architecture to observe. (But, in all truth, I really am quite content where I am!)

4 TV shows I could watch over and over:

B0bby, who tagged me, already used TWO of mine!

(1) Doctor Who
(2) Star Trek TOS
(3) Stargate SG1
(4) Red Dwarf  (do we notice a pattern?) ;)

4 movies I could watch over and over:

(1) The Wizard of Oz
(2) The Sound of Music
(3) Somewhere in Time
(4) The Bishop’s Wife

4 people I hope will respond:

(1) thebeadden
(2) Poch
(3) Curious C
(4) Shane

And, sponsoring Post Part deux, are the bloggers thebeadden; Apar; and sulz, who have recently given me awards! I am humbled and amazed. And I’m instructed I must award these to other bloggers, as well:

I received this from Apar and from sulz. Since each of them thought I might be worthy of it; I’d better pay attention. Thank you both!

“The proximity award rewards bloggers who are not just on the lookout for quality posts, but truly care about the blogger behind the words; for investing and believing in proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships”

proximidade_blog_award

In our blogs, “nearness” is a relative term. Some of the people I feel “near” to are actually quite far away physically. A blogger I know who embodies these qualities is half a word away from me. I award this to Poonam, who deserved the award even before she invested so much time, energy, care, and love into designing and implementing an amazing blog awards program!

This one comes to me from thebeadden. It has a picture of an “eye”, and at least one of my eyes were a bit teary after I read her post.

The Eye Spy an Excellent Blog award goes to people “to let them know how much their words have touched you and made a difference in your life.”

eye_spy1fromjqthumbnail1

Although I don’t comment as much as I might, because he is just so prolific in bringing us wisdom from many traditions, and concepts to ponder, and his unique take on worldwide teachings, I do read everything he writes, and Davidya has indeed touched me and made a difference in my life!

***Update, Tuesday: I just received an “Embracelet” (awww) from Kiran. Isn’t it nice? Thanks, Kiran:  friendship

Memes and awards remind me to take a step back; to remember how much I appreciate this community, and to allow the lighter side of consciousness to come out to play! I am grateful.

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Here’s to “H”—a meme!

Posted on December 11, 2008. Filed under: Games, Musings, Philosophy |

I took up the challenge of thebeadden, who’d had it from joanharvest. It is a meme, but it’s different in that it’s an “opt-in” meme. I didn’t have to name five other bloggers and risk their annoyance, or just post a generic “idon’twanttobotheryoubutifyou’dliketodoamemei’dreallylikethat!” No, this meme is for the brave and hardy soul, who is willing to tell me they WANT a letter! I know a couple of you will step up to the plate! Don’t leave this a “one-letter-blog”! thankyouforyourattention.

RULES: “You leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. You write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and post it at your place. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on.

You can leave a comment and not be assigned a letter if you want.  Just let me know if you want a letter to keep this going.”

thebeadden assigned me the letter “H“! She assured me “H” is very special, and it is. Please bear with me as I etymologically explore some H-things I love:

1.  HOLIDAYMiddle English holidai, holy day, from Old English hālig dæg : hālig, holy. The word is a combination of “holy” and “day”, but you knew that, didn’t you? One of the definitions is is “to suspend usual activities“. I think we all need to do that from time to time, in order to be appreciative, and re-charge our batteries. I try to remember the “holy” in “holiday” even when not in a spiritual context: from Middle English: preserved whole or intact.   This puts me in mind of a thought I like to cultivate: “Every day is a holy day” if we do take time each day to be in appreciation, to “suspend our usual activities.” The song Everything is Holy Now reflects some of my spiritual evolution. I heard the songwriter in concert, and was deeply moved.

2.  HAPPINESS -  “good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.”  —Does it get any better than that? :) Middle English, from hap, luck.

3.  HIDDENto conceal from sight; prevent from being seen or discovered; from the Greek, keúthein to conceal. But there is a deeper meaning, which explains its inclusion on this list: “To seek refuge.” We all need a place, whether physical, or within our own minds, hidden from others, where we feel safe and able to contemplate.

4.  HOLISTICEmphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.  This term is so often used in relation to medicine, or health practices, but it applies to many things in life. from the Greek, holos “whole”

5.  HARKlisten; used mostly in the imperative; Middle English harken, herken, from Old English heorcian, to hear. This time of year, it’s nearly impossible to hear or read the word “hark” without completing “…the herald angels sing…” But, in addition to the popular song, I can always use a reminder to listen, attentively “in the imperative”. It bodes well for understanding.

6.  HEAVENLY -  There are many definitions for the word “heaven”, but when I think of “heavenly” it is of the epitome of a thing. I don’t use the term lightly. If I describe a thing as “heavenly” it is the best of the best; it surrounds one with love; it cradles in comfort.   “Appropriate to heaven in character or happiness; perfect; pure; supremely blessed” Old English heofon “home of God, from Germanic gaham; to put on, clothe one’s self”

7.  HAIR -  I like my hair. I have a lot of it. I can hide behind it, or be enhanced by it. German haar “hair”), from ker(s)- “to bristle”

8.  HERE -  One of the most influential spiritual books, ever: Be Here Now, by Ram Dass. I’ve heard him speak many times (lucky me). He demonstrates through his life that “here” is the only place there is, and “now” the only time. Middle English, from Old English hēr; “in this place, where one puts himself”

9.  HAVING -  Having is the state of relationship with physical matter. It can also be used to describe conditions or emotions, such as “having a wonderful day”, but there is a temporal sense to it which speaks to me of interaction with this wonderful earth (and any other heavenly body I may yet roam).  Old English haban “to have”, from kap- “to grasp”

10.  HURRY -  I’m not sure why this one came up; I’m usually trying not to hurry. I used stream-of-consciousness thinking for this meme, though, and just wrote down the first ten “H” words that came to mind. But, when I looked up the source I found this, and sort of liked it: “1590, first recorded in Shakespeare, who used it often, perhaps a W.Midlands sense of M.E. hurren “to vibrate rapidly, buzz,” from P.Gmc. *khurza “to move with haste” (cf. M.H.G. hurren “to whir, move fast,” O.Swed. hurra “to whirl round”), which also perhaps is the root of hurl. The noun is 1600, from the verb.”from Online Etymology Dictionary

Well, there you have it. I must be in a reflective mood, because nearly everything I chose has a contemplative, meditative quality, and as a matter of fact, most of them are qualities rather than things. So be it! Peace to all. :)

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Hoarding?

Posted on December 9, 2008. Filed under: Games, Health, HowTo, Spirituality |

I’ve got the paper thing pretty well handled now. My storage cubes didn’t quite work out as planned, but I read once in Real Simple magazine that there are very few, if any papers and documents which cannot be recreated these days. So, I’ve kept tax returns (seven years worth) financial statements (mainly to help me prepare those tax returns) my will, passport, deed to my house, and birth certificate. I used to have a huge file of “personal papers”. I’ve limited those to writings and drawings which are particularly meaningful. Then, there is a box which has items labeled “nostalgia”. It’s OK to keep this, and take it out and look at it every year (or five or ten).

my-desk

Where I’m still hoarding, though, is with “stuff” (other than papers). I have quite a few 3 1/2″ floppy disks. (I know, I know) They don’t have anything meaningful on them. I have even found several places I can recycle them, including one which will donate any recycling income to charities. I keep thinking I might “need” them though—who am I kidding? Oh, yeah. Me.

I have my fantasy office, and my real office. In my fantasy office, I have just the supplies I need, neatly arranged in a cabinet, on neatly labeled shelves. I have just enough bookcases, with books beautifully arranged by category. I have my lovely lounge chair, and footrest, and reading lamp, and of course this beastly (said with affection) computer.

My “real” office has books piled on the floor. CDs piled in the bookcase (old games and business software I don’t use now). There are shopping bags, craft materials, notebooks and binders I will never…{wait; wait, they might come in handy}…use, in the cabinet. I have old scrapbooks and photo albums. I have sheet music I don’t even like! I have two soft-sided briefcases with holes in them, along with an assortment of other bags and cases. I have stationery I will not use, because, quite honestly, I rarely send personal correspondence any more; I almost always use email.

And then there’s my closet. I admit it, I hoard clothes! I don’t buy new ones very often because I don’t like to go shopping, but I hold onto the old ones way too long; particularly if I especially like the color. I’m not all that good at picking out colors that look good on me and that I also enjoy looking at. So, when one of these wondrous perfect-color garments wears out, I’m very reluctant to let it go. If the shirt has a hole in it, I can wear it to paint! or do gardening! If it’s even more decrepit, I can turn it into a rag! (You should see my rag bag—I could never do enough housecleaning to use them all!) I have shoes I might wear someday. I have shoes I should be embarrassed to wear any day.

One of the things that helped me out with all the papers I used to have was the knowledge they could be recycled. I am lucky enough to have curbside recycling in my neighborhood, and I’ve contributed greatly to their efforts. Those clothes I am willing to let go of, as well as some items that could actually be used by someone go to charity thrift shops, so that’s all right. It’s those other items; those thoroughly worn out items I have trouble with. They will go into a landfill! Maybe I can squeeze some more use out of them, somehow!

Of course, they are taking up space in my house, now. Is that better than in a landfill? Well, it’s worse for my daily life and peace of mind. And I come, now, finally, to the point of my post. There is a spiritual principal (not religious, but spiritual) which states that physical clutter promotes mental clutter. There’s another principal that states that letting go of items (or thoughts) which no longer serve one makes space for the new to come in.

Also, and what I find intriguing in our consumer-driven society, is that often, as far as personal prosperity and quality of life is concerned, less is more. It’s better to have a nearly-empty room, attractively decorated in a way that makes one feel calm and peaceful, than a room crammed with expensive items which clutter our minds and hearts. Contrary to common sense or popular wisdom, in times of economic stress, it’s actually better, emotionally and physically to get rid of all those extra possessions which really posses us. Living more simply can free our space so we can concentrate on what really matters in our lives. I’m not saying we should live starkly, like monks (if we’re not in fact monks). For those possessions we do want to keep, because they enhance the quality of our lives, we should buy the best quality we can afford. Making lists of the things we actually use most often, or look at and love, can tell us what’s important.

notebook

So, as I go forward in this holiday time, and also in a time of economic uncertainty (but aren’t they all?) it feels very appropriate to be letting go of more and more, benefiting others and making way for the new.

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Blame.

Posted on December 5, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Health, Philosophy, Spirituality |

This post has been swimming in my brain for a few days—it wants out! When a word or feeling presents itself for my attention repeatedly, I know it’s time for me to give it a look. One of the best ways I know to explore these attention-getting topics is to write about them on this blog. It seems to do me a world of good. :)

I don’t generally watch much news on television, and hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the Internet headlines, either. However I realize I’ve been semi-addicted to the news continually since August 8th, and, I’m ready to wean myself from it again. I usually get what I feel is the needed amount of news in 5-minute sound-bites on the radio; if something “major” has happened, I’ll hear that too, and can then choose to seek more information if I wish.

So, what happened on August 8th to change this? The Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. After the Olympic Games, almost immediately, the U.S. Democratic Presidential Convention was broadcast on TV. Following on the heals of the Democratic came the Republican Convention. There was a major hurricane in the middle of it all.

After the conventions, the more-interesting-than-usual nature of some of the candidates made me follow the campaign as I’d never done in my life. By then, it was mid-October, and I was hooked. Daily viewings of my favorite online news websites would take up much time I’d previously spent reading books, or doing other things—like blogging. For some bloggers this has been great fodder, but these are things I don’t generally write about. I had to ask myself, “why? Why don’t I blog what I read in the news, since I focus so much energy upon it?”

I look back on the past several months; and realize that, in my addiction to the excitement of the news, I was also absorbing plenty of hyperbole. 24-hour news stations, by their nature, have to talk, talk, talk, about something. A lot of what they mention has to do with Blame. China was blamed for human rights violations, and, less seriously, for under-age gymnasts. The Democrats blamed the Republicans, and the Republicans blamed the Democrats…and the current administration, for the “state we find ourselves in.” The hurricane, well, it must have been someone’s fault, although the aftermath did not carry as much blame as its more famous predecessor.

Most recently, I have been distressed at the amount of blame being levied by many people, from many countries, regarding the attacks in Mumbai. Please understand, I feel great sadness and compassion for those who were hurt, and the families who mourn, wherever they were from. I understand initial anger, sadness, and grief. My own country experienced these things after September 11, 2001. Some of us humans feel best if we can, actually, assign blame for such actions. Again, let me make clear that I do believe that, when crimes are committed, and there is evidence, a fair trial, and conviction, that perpetrators have earned the right to serve their sentences.

I’m speaking here to individuals carrying anger and rage and the desire to blame long after its usefulness. It is my belief that this hurts the angry person much more than those to whom the anger is directed. Also, in our quest to assign blame, we often condemn an entire segment of a population. Most of us would not hold a small child living in, say, Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or Ireland responsible for terrorist attacks. Yet, these situations often escalate into wars in which that small child could easily become a casualty.

Speaking for myself, I have no enemies, and even if I did, it would not be possible to have a “country” as an enemy. How could that be? A country is an area of land, and every single one of them nurtures many fine people who, if I had the chance to know them, could become my friends.

I am a product of two previously warring nations. I am an American of part-German and part-Scottish extraction. It was before my time, but Germany and the UK have been bitter enemies a number of times; most notably and recently during World War II. To this day, my family members won’t tell or don’t know what my father’s relatives who remained in Germany did during the war; how they survived.

I’ve met my German relatives’ children and grandchildren; people just like me—except they speak German better than I do. :) Germany and the UK are friends now, but I know of people, alive today, who feel 63 years isn’t that long ago; who still don’t trust “those krauts” as they call Germans.

Life is transitory. People who believe in reincarnation and who have studied its teachings tell me I may come back, next time, in the guise of my current enemy. Our bodies are like suits of clothes. Eventually, they will wear out and we’ll go shopping for another suit. Most of us would discourage our children, if we have them, from disliking or being mad at someone because they didn’t like their outfit!

Finally, I’m reminded of a powerful scene from the film, Gandhi. In it, a distraught young father comes to Gandhi for advice. He is a Hindu and has just seen his little boy, “only so high” killed by Muslim soldiers. He wants to know how he can possibly deal with the grief of this. Gandhiji says to him (and forgive my paraphrasing; I’m relying on memory): “Find a boy, a Muslim boy about “so high” whose parents have been killed. Take him into your home to raise, but you must raise him as a Muslim.”

The distraught father isn’t sure he can act on this suggestion, and to be honest, I’m not sure I could either. It would be one thing to adopt an orphan; quite another to raise him in a faith in which I did not believe. Still, I remain moved by this, and I suspect it might have eased the father’s great burden.

I remind myself to forgive where I see blame in the world, including within myself. And I’m listening to less current-events news, and more music! :D

Etymology of Blame:
Middle English, from Anglo-French blamer, blasmer, from Late Latin blasphemare to blaspheme, from Greek blasphēmein
Date:  13th century
1: to find fault with : <the right to praise or blame a literary work>2 a: to hold responsible <they blame me for everything> b: to place responsibility for <blames it on me>

Origin:
1525–35; < LL blasphēmus < Gk blásphēmos defaming, speaking evil, equiv. to blá(p)s(is) harm, evil (blab- harm + -sis cf. bláptein to harm) + -phēmos speaking, deriv. of ph speech

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When in doubt, take a quiz!

Posted on December 3, 2008. Filed under: Games, Health, Musings |

It won’t resolve the doubt, at all, but it’s diverting! I’m not sure why, but I haven’t been in the mood to blog much. I am in good health; I’m (almost) getting enough sleep, but somehow, bloggie-me is in hiding. :? I have seventeen drafts, ( :!: ) but none of them are resonating with me right at this minute. So, I took three somewhat related Blogthings quizzes! I liked the results, and/or what they purport to say about me, so I thought I’d share them with you. When it’s right, I will get my blog groove back. Until then—what sort of person are you?

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

What Advanced Degree Should You Get?

You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)
You’re a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You’d make a talented professor or writer.

What Type of Writer Should You Be?

You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer
Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you’re from.
And while you may have some problems being “normal,” you’ll have no problems writing sci-fi.
Whether it’s epic films, important novels, or vivid comics…
Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!
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