Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Before the Fall....

"What is like a smelly fart,
that, although invisible is obvious?
One's own faults, that are precisely
As obvious as the effort made to hide them."

The Dalai Lama in "Songs of Spiritual Change"

Someone asked me, a relatively new reader, why I find awards, tags, etc., offensive to me or to my practice.

It is because they pander to pride. Of course the awards and such on blogs are penny ante and certainly not significant in and of themselves. However, if you peel back another layer, it becomes apparent that they pander to pride.

Pride is, by nature, separating ourselves from others and perceiving ourselves as somehow "better".

It provides a peak experience where it is as though the proud are on a high mountain, looking down at everyone else. As the Tibetans say though, it's cold at the top of that mountain, it is hard and nothing grows. We are the best and everyone else is inferior. Pride is associated with self-absorption and measuring our value by comparing ourselves to others. It encourages us to act competitively and then we become disrespectful. At some point, we become addicted to that peak experience and want more, more, more of the feeling it brings us. Without even realizing it, it does make us suffer.

When someone perceives him- or herself as a "loser", self-regard is diminished and become absorbed in self-criticism. It undermines our faith in ourselves. So excess - both in terms of exaggeration and devaluation - are equally destructive.

As long as we think and feel that way, we can never develop true concern for others and we can't develop true compassion.

I've struggled with this and I'm sure plenty of others do, too. In this culture, people have been brainwashed to believe that pride is a Good Thing because it will make us strive for more. (Italics are deliberate. Think about what that means for a minute.) Kind of like an alcoholic who can't stop drinking, we become intoxicated by our own inflated sense of ourselves. We then require more - more stuff, more adulation, more praise, more stuff, more adulation, more praise, more validation.

In the past, I've talked about my own background enough that most of the people who read here will see how easy it was for me to become addicted to pride. I wanted so much to feel worthy that I bought into it. And it was intoxicating. When I was writing a column for a newspaper that was read by thousands of people or when I was doing my weekly radio show, I was in the clouds! All that attention! All that praise! I got calls for interviews by NPR and often spoke at public events. The highs were incredible.. and I sought it out the same way I sought out booze. I wanted more, more, more. And then more was never enough.

It was a sick and tormented way to live. My comfort depended on all that external validation. My sense of worth depended on it.

The blog awards are such a microcosmic example that it would be easy to dismiss it - but just as everything eventually becomes something else - stream to lake to river to ocean - they can also be used as a tool to make someone "better" and someone else, by default, "less".

It's subtle. But it's there. Pride.

As Gary Zukav said, "An authentically empowered person is humble. This does not mean the false humility of one who stoops to be with those who are below him or her. It is the inclusiveness of one who responds to the beauty of each soul. ... It is the harmlessness of one who treasures, honors and reveres life in all its forms."

That's what I prefer to promote here.. because it is positive and powerful. It is kinder. It is life- affirming instead of life-depleting.

I hope that answers the question about awards.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Householders and then the rest of us....

There have been several events over the past few weeks that have given me the needed kick in the behind to forge forward.

Sometimes I get stuck, not knowing who I am. That's a weird reference so I'll explain. Outside forces can come into play and we forget who we really are. We think we should be something else and get caught up in the expectations of meeting those standards. It's sort of basic sociology that acknowledges that people don't like to be "not average". It's scary to stand out, to be different. We learn very early to stop speaking our truth and simply give in. Like Babbit who never did a single thing he wanted to do, we give up and do what is expected of us.

As long as I can remember, I've been all about ideas, the larger picture and I'm happiest when I am exploring new ways of thinking. I ponder. Endlessly. When new ideas are presented to me, it's my greatest pleasure to dig in, learn the history of the idea and explore how it can be applied to real life situations.

In other words, I am not a householder. Family life and the incumbent responsibilities have no attraction for me - and I don't even understand the desire that others have to create these small, autonomous units and build their personal empires. It has always seemed rather transitory and useless.

Well, you can imagine in a culture such as this one, that leads to harsh judgment. I've been criticized for not wanting to take on responsibility, have been called "lazy" and told that I "lack ambition".

Two of those things are true. I do not have ambition and don't want to be burdened with day-to-day responsibilities. Resentment builds each time I am dragged away from the things that I find important to handle some petty household concern. My housemate, on the other hand, loves it and feels empty when she doesn't have enough "to do".

After trying to live in that world for 40+ years, I'm finally letting it go and accepting what I have to offer as being perfectly valid and just as necessary. I want to put more of my energy into my practice, into learning, into offering something to the world that way. There is a lot involved in spiritual development and no one who is truly committed sits around on their asses eating popcorn (although there is a place for that occasionally, too). If I was free to do so right now, I would take up residence at the temple and spend all of my time on those concerns.

It actually requires a rather rigorous discipline to keep growing in any kind of practice. It means I meditate when I'd rather be watching CSI. It means helping others, even if I don't happen to feel like it that day. It means remaining vigilant about making sure my own spirit is clean so that I can help others from a position of authenticity.

It means rigorously making sure I don't fall into negative, judgmental thinking. It means practicing endless lovingkindness, even when I'd really rather tell someone off or criticize them for their shortcomings.

It means sticking to a strict standard of acceptance of others - where they are - not where I want them to be. It means forgiving all the time, not only the times I am able to somehow reconcile it.

It means stepping outside of myself, even when it's hard ~ because being selfish is always easier than the alternative.

Over the past few weeks, some of my major shortcomings have been brought to my attention. Not by others but through circumstances. Often that is how we learn. We see a pattern and recognize that it is trying to tell us something.

In response and recognition, I've decided to step out into terrain that is a bit more difficult and challenging.

I've been following the Five Precepts for a long time now. Now I am going to attempt the Eight Precepts.

One of the ways this is going to manifest most obviously is that I am not going to get further involved with things that I believe are contra-indicated in fully actualizing this practice.

The reason I am writing about this here, even though it is essentially a rather private matter, is that it will affect how I participate in the blogging community from now on.

I am no longer going to try to "fit in" with people where I am clearly having to try too hard.

I am no longer going to participate in contests, awards, tags or other social games that I find offensive and offensive to my practice. While I appreciate very much the kindness and the intent behind those who have generously offered me praise, it is not what I am here for. Your reading and an occasional comment if something I say is meaningful for you are more than sufficient validation.

I am going to comment mindfully. When you see a comment from me, it is because there is something I really want to say - and it is to you - not the others who may be reading. I am not going to comment for any other reason than simply my desire to communicate with you authentically on your topic, to encourage you or to comfort you.

I will do my best to respectfully respond to your comments because they matter to me and you deserve that consideration. Sometimes I might fall on this or respond a few days after you've left it. I commit to doing my best though.

I am no longer going to engage in social networking, competing for hits and comments or other trappings of "popularity". That is a craving that has distracted me too many times. It hinders my growth. I'm letting it go.

What I do offer is a glimpse into transformation. I will offer wholesome discussion of topics that will hopefully uplift and encourage. Sometimes I will try to bring your attention to something that needs fixing ~ a social justice issue or a larger cultural issue. In other words, I will simply "talk" to you.

I hope you will choose to continue reading.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Word verification....

Just a note to those who may come by here....

The word verification has become too difficult for me to process. There are specific reasons for that. My eyesight is not very good even though I've had surgery - and the letters often flip around. Additionally, I have spatial perception problems which makes it hard for my brain to process the mixed up font sizes and shapes.

I wanted to note this for anyone who is accustomed to receiving comments from me. I don't want it to appear that I have disappeared or lost interest. That is not the case.

I am still reading. :)


Friday, April 25, 2008

Grappling with a Warrior Spirit....

I've been thinking lately.

Can you smell the burning rubber?

Seriously though, I have been trying very hard to take the advice of my mentor in Thailand who says it's time to lay down the mantle, time to put the warrior to rest. He says it's time to hand the torch to those who are younger and have more fighting energy.

The reality is that it seems too soon. I'm not ready.

I still have the fire in the belly and can not seem to squelch it. It's unlikely at this stage that I will be able to walk the path of the peacefully detached.

There are conditions in the world that still enrage me, still make me angry to the instinctual core. It's useless trying to pretend otherwise.

There is value in the warrior spirit and it is needed, just as the peaceful, the detached and the more spiritual are needed. It is all part of the tapestry of this life. We are all needed and integral to the process of making the world better.

While I respect entirely those who have chosen another path, this seems to be mine. I may not be able to change anything single-handedly - but with those others, those who have a gentle voice can join with my louder one and together we can make the world a little better for those who come after us.

So I will continue bringing people's attention to the things that need to be changed and offer solutions where I can. I will continue raising my fist at the injustice and the harm perpetrated on those who are innocent or unaware. I will continue to deconstruct western culture as I see necessary and maybe - just maybe - I can plant a seed. If one person changes his or her way of seeing things and chooses to change behavior in even a small way, I've done my job.

My warrior spirit is too strong to simply put the fire out and retire to my garden. It's too much a part of who I am. It's not like choosing to change my hair color.

As Joan of Arc once said, I won't be looking behind me to see who is following - but I do hope some will listen.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sometimes we all need a refuge....

Some of you might recall when I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the wat and the wonderful day I had at the New Years Celebration.

I don't think I could have been more complimentary. And I don't think people could have been any kinder.

Now two weeks past the event, I realize they are not going to be my port in a storm.

This past few days have been rough on me for reasons I don't need to chronicle here. It has to do with moving and trying to communicate with others, not getting promised return phone calls, not being able to make any headway on any level to a point where I reached critical mass last night. My blood pressure was so high, I was afraid of stroking out.

It shouldn't be so f***ing hard to simply communicate with people! I'm a simple girl. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If I say I'm going to do something, I do it. That's what makes my little world spin around.

I wanted to make contact with the wat. I wanted to know when or if they were having any classes or activities because, dammit, I want my refuge.

It is not going to be them.

I sent emails shortly after the celebration which went without response. This morning, in an overly frustrated state, I sent a rather biting email, asking why it is that I can't communicate with them, why I can't get a simple answer to a simple question. I told them that if they don't want newcomers around, perhaps they should password-protect their website so we won't bother them. I went on to tell them that I would be more than willing to help them drive newcomers away. I'd be willing to blog it.

Before I turn you off completely with what might seem rather vengeful and mean, let me qualify it by saying that I think righteous anger is just that. Righteous. And when we are really angry about something, we have a right to say it. In an ideal world, we'd never get angry but this isn't an ideal world. Granted, I could have said it better - but at that point I believed if I didn't state it strongly, I would just be ignored again.

That's my history with them.

Late this afternoon, I got a response back to my older email telling me that classes have been cancelled due to lack of facilities. The man, woman or Unix script that answered my email went on to say, "Let me check if the head monk is willing to set something up in the near future."

Now would that have been so hard to tell me two weeks ago?

One of the things that so few people understand (or care about perhaps) is that this whole world is full of vulnerable people. When someone reaches out to a spiritual community, s/he shouldn't have to fight and threaten in order to be acknowledged. I was harsh and unkind - and if I hadn't been, I'd still be waiting for their response. I had to be discourteous to fight for courtesy.

How absurd is that?

Spiritual communities should be our refuge. Whether it's a church, a temple, a wat or a Wiccan circle, it should be the one place we are assured acceptance and love. That's where we feel safe and cared for. That is where we should be able to go for guidance and comfort.

I was fully prepared to get involved with them, to volunteer my time and occasionally contribute financially, even though I am on a fixed income. It mattered. They mattered.

I go into things with an open heart. I always default to accepting others.

And often end up disappointed.

That's my ultimate downfall. I can't seem to muster up the cynical suspicion that overlies most social interactions in this culture which are based on self-interest and advantage. Like Janet Jackson sang, "what have you done for me lately"?

Chances are I haven't done much of anything that will further anyone's material advantage or career opportunities. If that's what someone wants, I'm not your girl.

I'm still angry. Angry and hurt.

With time that will go away. There's got to be a central lesson here though. A message. Otherwise it all becomes so useless.

For me, I guess the central message is simple. Be kind. Keep your word. Don't be a disappointment to others.



Monday, April 21, 2008

Top 40: All the stuff you never wanted to know...

I brazenly stole this from Ian's site before realizing that he offered it, free for the taking. I offer the same to anyone reading here.

It seems safe enough to do this sort of thing again since some new readers have come and a lot of the older ones have moved on. The last thing I want to do is bore everyone into a coma.... but this one is actually kind of interesting.

So... here it is!

1. What I was doing ten years ago:

- Moving to Sacramento from Tucson

- Beginning a serious study of Buddhism

- Working at a corporate job I despised

2. Five things on my to-do list:

- Call Berkeley about housing options

- Finish up my laundry

- Spend the afternoon reading

- Go to Target to pick up medicine for D

- Make a Chef's salad for dinner

3. Places I have traveled:

- Hawaii

- Thailand

- Europe

- Israel

- the US and Canada

4. Five snacks I enjoy:

- Popcorn (butter and salt, please)

- Rice cakes

- Dried mango

- Dried papaya

- Diet Coke

5. Things I would do if I was a billionaire:

- Create a trust with a reliable investment firm

- Make a list of my truly good friends, the ones who are dependable and kind, noting the things they need to be safe and secure through this lifetime.

- Send a monthly check (or direct deposit, if they choose) to them through the trust. No good friend of mine would ever have to suffer financial insecurity again.

- Support my wat (temple)

- Hire Charles Eisenstein to be my private tutor. I think the man is brilliant

- Choose one major community project per year (in Thailand) and support it

- Support my family in Thailand

6. Five of my bad habits:

- Procrastination

- I can be a bit controlling

- Being stubborn

- Not letting go of things when I should

- Overeating

7. Five places I have lived:

- Tucson

- Baltimore

- Fort Collins, (CO)

- Khon Kaen

- Los Angeles

8. Five jobs I've had:

- Unix system administrator

- Technical Support

- Computer Operator

- Software Technician

- Data entry operator (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.)

Your turn! Let me know if you do it so that I can come by and read your answers. :)


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Form Over Substance: Flag Lapel Pins

As everyone knows who reads here with any regularity, I don't usually comment on US politics. At one time, I was extremely political and enjoyed getting involved in the fray; watching, listening, supporting, signing petitions, demonstrating ~ all of it was a fairly significant part of my life. During election results, each TV in the house was set to a different station so I could watch and be right on top of the incoming results.

Since then, I've gone in a different direction. My focus is more global and spiritual now.

Still, if I was going to get involved in politics again, I would support Barack Obama.

But I was drawn in this morning when I heard Mike Gallagher's talk radio show. I'm a talk radio addict and listen to all points of view ~ from Amy Goodman to Mike Gallagher and Michael Reagan. If they're talking, I'll listen.

The discussion involved Barack Obama's "refusal" to wear a flag lapel pin. Remember those little flag pins that sprouted like weeds after a spring storm in the aftermath of 9/11? They were for sale everywhere and everyone seemed to be wearing them. They were a symbol of solidarity more than nationalism. When it comes to things that make people feel a sense of community, I'm all behind it.

After several months though, they were co-opted by arch-conservatives and it became not a symbol of solidarity but a symbol of support for the current administration. Bush, Cheney and all his compatriots could be seen wearing them. Endlessly.

Barack Obama never "refused" to wear one. A few days ago, he wore one that was given to him by a veteran in the audience. Obama wore it as any gracious person would have done ~ as a sign of respect to the veteran ~ but didn't continue after that particular appearance.

The talk show pundits are twisting the truth to say that six months ago, he "refused" and since he "refused", the fact that he did it a few days ago makes him a liar.

The truth of the matter is that six months ago, he simply said that he would not be wearing one on the campaign, that he would prefer to show his patriotism by presenting solutions to US problems.

How that can be twisted into evidence of his "lying" and "refusing" to go along with a truly petty and minor symbol of patriotism in the larger scheme of things is beyond me.

This is a perfect example of form over substance that has become such an integral part of everything in US culture, not just the presidential campaigns.

It leads me to wonder how long people will put up with it. When is someone going to start speaking up about these petty smear tactics and yell, if necessary, "who gives a rat's ***!"

Quite honestly, that was my reaction.

These cultural attributes continue on because people allow it.

I'd like to hear solid solutions to the high unemployment rate, to the housing trouble, the economic inequality, the lack of affordable health care and the lack of affordability of a college education. I'd like to hear about foreign policy and how each candidate will end US aggression throughout the world. I'd also like to hear how each candidate plans to implement his or her solution.

You know.. the things that matter.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Conversing the Hours

Saturday, I was able to spend the entire day with a friend I don't see very often. As you can imagine, the conversation was fast and furious with many topics being put on the table, discussed and exhausted.

One of the most significant topics was one that got me put in the naughty chair. It is a chair I've grown accustomed to over the years. Being the Noam Chomsky of my social circle occasionally presents challenging interactions.

Eric and I had a conversation about a woman he is "seeing" (what a weird euphemism, but it works for the moment). He talked about ways to find out more about her, ways to discover how she really thinks and believes. What is she really like? One of the methods he proposed is Socratic questioning. That is a method of asking probing questions, peeling away layers.

I immediately balked at the method which I find intrusive. I've experienced it and was left feeling like Swiss cheese. I prefer to get to know people slowly, revealing myself as I feel safe and comfortable doing so. Probing questions are just that: probing. Think about the real meaning of that word and let it sink in.

My position is that Eric was looking to find fault. When we look to find fault, we invariably will. He was looking for some way to protect himself from possible disappointment. I also thought the things he was concerned about were a bit on the petty side. When all is said and done, someone's personal habits are not that important. Character is what matters.

Disappointment is a part of living. Trying too hard to avoid it just another way of avoiding life in general. It's the emotional Patriot Act. It is a particular type of energy that limits us in our positive experiences of others and is another way to increase our separation. He doesn't like Nelson DeMille. She likes chick flicks and I can't stand them. He leaves his towels on the bathroom floor. She always leaves the toilet seat down. He doesn't wrap leftovers the way I like them wrapped in the refrigerator. She reads too much.

I think when we get to a certain age, we realize how truly petty and insignificant most things are - and how much we've allowed our lives to become engrossed in minutiea. At the end of the day, it's just spackle. That's the crud that clogs up pipes and interferes with the free flow of energy between us.

Spackle. That is the word that got me assigned to the naughty chair. But I truly believe this. If we look for fault, we'll find it. If we look for reasons to divide ourselves further, we certainly will find them. Criticism leads to more and deeper criticism. Stream to river to lake to ocean. On and on it goes. As we do this individually, we do it with groups, with communities, nations and the world.

The older I get, the more I subscribe to the basic notion that we are all here, doing the best we can with what we have - and substance will win over form every time. I propose that all of us would be served well to simply accept others as they are, recognizing that we are all flawed to one degree or another.

This quote comes to mind: "Accept what people have to offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love."

What say you?

As an aside
, I have decided to change the name of this blog. The URL will remain the same but the name just isn't working for me anymore. I'd like to make contact with someone who would be willing to create a new banner for me and install it. Charging me a reasonable fee is okay. Please contact me or leave a comment if you know someone who can do it - or are willing to do it yourself. The new name will be "Finding My Way Home". Thanks. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sabaidee..... Lao New Year


Saturday, I spent the day at the Lao New Year's celebration at Wat Lao Phosiesattanak in Sacramento. It was one of the most amazing days I have ever had in this state!

The food was delicious. The setting was beautiful. The people were wonderful! I was floating on a cloud all day long as I smelled the smells that reminded me so much of the food stalls in Khon Kaen. (And of course I ate too much! :) We feasted on chicken on a stick, gizzards on a stick, cabbage and beef balls, sticky rice, papaya salad, Thai iced tea and so many other things I can't remember. (And I complain about being fat. Oh well. :)

We watched beautiful traditional dancing and heard music that melted my soul. Those plaintive voices went right into my heart and stayed there, even though I don't understand a word of Lao. There are some very good singers among the membership and I wish there had been a CD to take home. I'd still be listening to it now!

People danced traditional dances on a floor that is located immediately before the singers. It was truly, truly wonderful! Out of respect, I didn't go up there to dance but, believe me, it was a temptation.

Women in beautiful traditional clothing (unfortunately, the pictures didn't turn out) danced and it was heavenly to watch. My friend Eric came all the way from Pleasanton to meet me there (he's going to heaven for that! :) and we both stood watching for at least an hour. I was almost brought to tears a few times by the beauty. I don't have the words to describe it. It's one of those "you had to be there" moments.

I think what struck me most was the kindness and the acceptance of the people I met. They were all kind beyond description, warm and open. Sometimes it's hard to tell when going into an ethnic environment how the people will respond, whether they might feel intruded upon by a farang. A lot of times, not because anyone is being mean or unkind, an unknown person who obviously doesn't belong somewhere can make others uncomfortable. They don't know my history or my attachment to Southeast Asia. They don't know my spiritual practice. They didn't know that my identification goes a bit beyond being "just a Thaiphile". They are my home.. and my heart. Still, on the surface I was just some white person wandering through their celebration. It is their celebration. They made it mine as well. Not once did I feel out of place or awkward.

Sidebar: (Yes, that is me in the picture and truly, I am not that big! I'm a big girl, yes.. but, geez, the camera added at least 15 pounds! Allow me this moment of vanity. Eric took the picture and I'm sure he would acknowledge that he is only the photographer, not a miracle worker. :)

There were a few incidents that confirmed the level of acceptance for me. This is a bit esoteric but stick with me a moment. One woman I'd never met in my life came up to me and said "Were you chanting?" This is not a common or typical question. The truth is that I do not chant, have never chanted and don't feel any draw to it. I am more attracted to the Forest Tradition. Yet she asked me - and that is the sort of question one would ask a friend, a sister or a daughter. She was really telling me that I should chant.

That is the sort of interaction that only takes place in an environment where one is accepted.

I also had an interesting discussion with a woman who gave me some important insights into the current situation in Laos. She educated me well and I am hoping I will be able to talk her into writing a guest post for this blog. Don't be surprised if you see her here. She is a lovely person and passionate about her homeland - with just cause.

There was only one particular moment of embarrassment when another white woman showed up in short-shorts and a tank top - at a Buddhist temple. Suffice it to say that is not appropriate attire at a temple - and she was walking around with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I was grateful that she didn't walk up to the Seng See or the praying area like that.

I was embarrassed for her and myself which would require a longer explanation that I can offer at this moment. Those who know what I mean will know what I mean. If anyone else wants a more complete explanation, leave a comment and I will write you privately.

Overall though, it was a fabulously renewing experience that I absolutely treasure. If they'll have me again, I can't wait for the next celebration. It's my refuge while I am still here. Thank you to everyone at the wat who may read this. Thank you.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mad Dogs and Mean Girls

"Happy the age, happy the time, to which the ancients gave the name of golden, not because in that fortunate age the gold so coveted in this our iron one was gained without toil, but because they that lived in it knew not the two words 'mine' and 'thine'." Don Quixote

If you haven't been in a cave for the past week or so, you may have seen this story about a group of teenage girls who beat up another teenage girl for writing something disagreeable on her MySpace page. Two teenage boys enticed the victim into an apartment where she was savagely beaten by other girls. The beating is relentless and the girls seemed unstoppable. They behaved like mad dogs. This wasn't some minor-league ass-kicking. The victim will likely lose part of the sight in her left eye and some of her hearing. During the taping, one of the girls cautioned the others to avoid the knickknack cabinet. She didn't want anything to get broken.

The video which they proudly displayed on YouTube was one of the more appalling things I've ever seen and I've been on this planet for a while now. I've seen lots of appalling things. Usually, I can watch them with a healthy degree of detachment but not this time.

When the kids were finally arrested, they showed no remorse for their actions and harangued the police about needing to get out in time for cheerleading practice. One of them quipped, "Well, I guess we won't be going to the beach this weekend."

When I was able to get beyond flaming anger at the girls themselves and at the people of my generation who raised these hideously sociopathic beings, I began to look at it from a larger perspective - which is generally where the real answers are. This stuff doesn't happen in a vacuum.

This is an outcome and result of a culture and a society that believes we are separate, that has so dehumanized all of us that my pain isn't yours and yours isn't mine. It becomes possible to look at each other as objects to be managed and controlled ~ and ultimately conquered.

That further allows that the only thing that matters is getting what we want, that we have an inherent right to have what we want, that annihilation of any opponent by any means is acceptable and children can be raised to believe they should have everything they want - right now - and that no one has the right to put any limitations on them. They are separate beings. Separate from the rest of us. Their "dreams" matter most of all. This view is written into the culture's mythos and cosmology as well as the economic system.

It is a worldview that is doomed to implode ~ and should. There is no small print on everyone's birth certificate that guarantees that all their "dreams" should come true - or that life is "fair" or that just by virtue of birth, anyone has the right to oppress or abuse someone else. It is a sense of entitlement that has gone on long enough - far too long - and it's time for a smackdown. It is time to put the brakes on the Culture of Sociopathy


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wellness Wednesday - Cheap and Easy Pampering

Last Friday, I finally decided to get a manicure and pedicure. I'm not good at those kinds of things, completely lack patience for it, and want to stay with my program of making sure I receive regular touch.

At least where I live, there are nail salons and day spas on nearly every corner. They're surprisingly inexpensive and it feels great to sit back and have something like that done.

At first, I was reluctant because using those sorts of services seems disgustingly bourgeois, not in keeping with my usual pragmatic simplicity.

I began to enjoy it despite my almost puritan asceticism, especially considering the man massaging my feet was one of the most beautiful Vietnamese men I've ever seen. Eye candy. (Yes, even at my age, we can appreciate such things!) He massaged my feet, my ankles and my calves with sea salt and some other substance that felt like a lotion of some sort. He made my typically flip-flop-clad feet pretty and soft.

I drew the line at a toe ring which I declined.

Then it was onto my nails. Acrylic nails which I desperately need since mine break so easily. My nails are usually cracked and broken, causing me to look rather neglected. He even talked me into coloring them. He massaged each finger, my palms and hands. I sit here typing with pretty plum-colored nails. (Typing is not so easy with them but I'll put up with it.)

I recommend this. It cost under $40.00 and I left feeling renewed and pampered.


Thursday, April 03, 2008


After my weird encounter with the Might Be Stalker From Hell, I got to thinking about something.

One of the things that annoyed me a great deal in his conversations were the questions. "Did you think about me?" "Have you been thinking about me since we talked?" It didn't make me feel any desire. It just made me want to smack him. If I was willing to completely toss my Buddhist card in the fireplace, I might have said, "Yes. I thought about what an insecure dolt you are."

This led me to remember something. I have not been in a "romantic" relationship for quite a while now. When I did do that sort of thing, one of the conflicts I usually had with potential partners was the fact that I have a strong stoic streak.

My ex-husband complained of that, too. He felt that I didn't express myself openly enough. He used to say that the only way I would express intimacy was in the bedroom. (And he was complaining??? :)

Yet I am left with a real conflict between saying and doing. Saying is easy. Dumping an avalanche of feeling-talk is relatively easy. I prefer to show love through my actions. I'm not a particularly sentimental person which doesn't mean that I don't love. Actually, I do. Rather strongly. It just means I don't find it necessary to talk about it.

I'm always reminded of the scene in Fiddler on the Roof between Tevye and Goldie. Tevye asks Goldie if she loves him. She responds:

Do I love you? For twenty five years, I've washed your clothes, Cooked your meals, cleaned your house, Given you children, milked the cow, After twenty five years, why talk about love right now?

I have never been one to express feelings openly. It doesn't seem to be a part of me and being asked to do so (put on the spot) makes me squirm.

How about you? Do you think "saying it" is important?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Long Life.....

Apparently there is a show on TV tonight, a Barbara Walters special, that claims to have the directions to the fountain of youth. They claim we can live 150 years.

This got me thinking. Would I want to live 150 years?


I think it's too long to be on this plane. There are certain lessons we are here to learn and dying is kind of like graduating. I wouldn't want to stay in grade school for 150 years, either. There comes a natural time to die - and 150 years seems to be stretching the limits of nature - or even worse, it is controlling nature.

How about you? Would you like to live 150 years? Why?