Thursday, January 29, 2009


In case it isn't an already-established fact, I'm a bit of a wacko.

This morning, I am sitting here with a list of calls to make ~ all of them toward a positive end, all of them for a good purpose, non-threatening. They are not call centers with the multi-layered "if you want this, push that" call-routing systems.

I can't bring myself to pick up the phone.

I hate making phone calls. As in really hate it!

Receiving them is fine, although I recognize that I tightly control incoming calls. Everyone who calls me knows they don't have to ask "are you available?" If I'm not, I don't answer. There are times when my phone is unplugged for days. Any time the phone gets picked up around here, I welcome the call.

This is something my housemate, as an example, can't understand. More than once she's said, "you can't just unplug your phone!" She looked at me with horror in her eyes because she honestly believes her phone is for the convenience of others.

Really? Watch me.

Frankly, I wish everyone else would do the same thing. The "are you available" dance is really rather annoying.

"Are you available to talk right now?"

"Actually, no. I'm on the other line" or "Actually, no. I'm just getting ready to go out."

Then don't answer the phone. There's this new invention called "voicemail". Even old folks like me know how to use it.

And I'll spare everyone the call-waiting rant.


Making a phone call shouldn't be quite so challenging. But it is!

Many people probably think I don't like them or I'm disinterested because I don't call. That's not true. Many people might think I'm flaky because I don't get things done on time or efficiently. It's not unusual to put something off for several days because I can't bring myself to make a call.

This phone-a-phobia seems a bit silly. I'm not a timid person. Looking at it logically, no one can beat me up, probably won't yell at me or be unpleasant. They're just phone calls.

Yet my gut wretches at the very idea of the list of calls I have in front of me.

Perhaps this is a bravery issue. Someone I like (and respect) says it's like exercising a muscle. Just make all the calls. White-knuckle it and make the damn calls! Yeah. Yeah. I'll do that. Um. The more I make calls, the more desensitization will take place and eventually making calls won't faze me in the least.

Oh, yeah?

I'm growing feathers. The clucking comes later.

Anyone else experience this? Is there a pill I can take? :)


Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Leave this site and go check out this post. You won't be disappointed!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

It's been a while since I've posted here. Frankly, there's not much to say lately. Since I decided to lay down arms, there doesn't seem to be the same need to spew my thoughts and feelings all over the Internet.

It's rainy here and I love every minute of it. Since my thinking has been as shallow as a parking lot puddle lately, I admit to hoping the rain lasts through my birthday tomorrow. It would be a nice little gift from the cosmos.

I've been reading "The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory" and find it very interesting. It keeps my brain from turning into a bowl of mush. On the other end of the spectrum, I've been gobbling up Sue Grafton books. Occasionally it's worthwhile to get lost in a predictable but well-written story. I've also been watching rather mindless TV ~ such as "The First 48".

There doesn't seem to be much going on politically right now to discuss. Obama has done some things I like ~ and some I don't. Does anyone else notice that it looks like he's aged five years in the past week?

Since my head is an empty vessel, this would be a good time to ask any questions you might have. I'll create posts out of my answers. :)

Hope everyone is doing well ~ and I'll be back when I have something to say.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Barack Obama's First 100 Days....

Forty eight hours from now, we'll be beyond the glitz and glamor, the charisma and a horribly expensive inaugural celebration. The figure I heard was $150,000,000 for the day of celebration, speeches and parties.

Personally, during a recession, I find that figure repugnant. There are people in this country who haven't had enough food today. There are people in this country who have lost their homes, their credit, their small businesses and their income. In light of that, I would have preferred to see something more low-key.

But setting that aside for the moment, I've been giving some thought to Barack Obama's first 100 days as president and the change so many of us hope to see.

Here are a few things that matter to me.

1) Bring jobs back from foreign countries and give them back to Americans who desperately need them,

2) Sign an executive order to close Gitmo,

3) Come up with a comprehensive plan to withdraw from Iraq without leaving the citizens of Iraq to fend for themselves after having destroyed the entire infrastructure of the country,

4) Order Leon Panetta, the new director of the CIA, to stop all covert activities throughout the world that are intended only to disrupt sovereign governments. It is time to rein in the Directorate of Operations and bring them back to their original purpose which is intelligence gathering,

5) Get a task force together to come up with a workable national health care program.


6) Show a commitment, not by talk but by action, to bringing this country in alignment with much of the rest of the world in terms of social justice and economic equality.

I think it's important that he realize people are going to be expecting results. Charisma will only get him just so far... and then it's going to be a matter of seeing substantial change. We're not at Martin Luther King's mountain top yet!

So... you. What change do you hope to see right away?

(Just as an aside, you can write a message to Barack Obama at .. The messages will be compiled and delivered to him.)


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pull The Lever on the Skinner Box....

Is anyone else out there sensitive to the weather?

When I went for groceries this morning, the clerk presented the usual, supposedly neutral, question, "Are you enjoying the sunny warm days?"

Truthfully, the answer is "no".

I like variety in weather. It is the middle of January. It shouldn't be constantly sunny and in the mid-60s.

(I'm aware of the horrid life-threatening weather in other parts of the country and can imagine those who would happily give me the finger for complaining.. but.. I'm complaining!)

When I left Los Angeles, it was largely because of the 10-year drought. Day after day, the weather was the same. I felt like I was in a Skinner Box.

When I left Tucson, I left because the weather was the same every single day. As they say, Tucson has two seasons: summer and Christmas.

This part of northern California is becoming the same which is part of the reason why I am looking at moving to Humboldt County. There are actually modified seasons there. There's rain.. and fog.. and cooler temperatures during the winter.

What a novel concept!

It has been the same here for so long that I'm beginning to feel like we're stuck in a Groundhog Day sort of universal time glitch.


Bring some rain, clouds and cool weather! I want to make soup and cuddle under a blanket. I want to drink tea while listening to the rain fall on the roof.

Pull the lever on the damn Skinner Box already! :)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Being Fundamentally Lazy....

Stop the war within yourself and you will do the world and humanity the greatest service.

Ajahn Sumanobhikku

I admit to being entirely pleased most days with the freedom that allows me to take it as it comes. My days flow in and out in a very relaxed and pleasant manner. I love being retired and I love owning my time.

Sometimes it goes too far though. It allows me to be blatantly lazy. There's nothing in my world that can't be put off. If I don't feel like doing something, generally I don't!

And as pleasant as that may appear, it has some drawbacks.

The fact that it has gotten out of balance came to my attention under very bright, unforgiving fluorescent lights. When I caught a glimpse in the mirror, I looked like a very tired, very poor and very neglected old woman.

Yug! That's just not me! I may be old.. but I'm not tired, not poor and not neglected!

The reason is that I'd continually put off coloring my hair so that I had three-inch roots of very drab, ugly grey. I looked like a house mouse. The old color had not faded away. I mean.. you can imagine!

Again. Ugh!

I colored my hair the next day so I am back to my ash-blond self.

That is a superficial and shallow example but it does bring to light that certain things need to be done and the freedom to "put it off" is something requiring moderation. It also reveals a deeper message.

Thomas Moore wrote in his book The Care of the Soul that the condition of our surroundings is a reflection of the state of our souls.

We send messages to ourselves and others all the time without even realizing it. In not taking care of my physical appearance, I am sending a message to others that I am not worthy and that neglecting me is quite acceptable.

After all, I neglect myself... on the easy stuff at that! If I'd neglect myself on a 30-minute application of L'Oreal... well.... what must I do on the big things?

(And I am not, not, not! talking about fat/thin, tall/short, or any other natural physical inclination. The most beautiful people I know do not conform to the cultural standard of beauty. This was probably an unnecessary disclaimer since anyone coming here knows I don't hold those views - but just to avoid misunderstanding!)

For the most part, I like my strange little life, surrounded by my unique clutter, my books and things that bring me comfort. I live in a small space ~ just me and the doglet ~ and we do quite well, even with the mess. We are not dirty ~ but we are cluttery.

But these little things, you know. They are the things that reinforce old beliefs.

So that is another thing I must reconcile, another thing requiring discipline on my part and a willingness to give up old messages in favor of affirming, good and soul-feeding messages.

So who do you see when you look in a mirror under fluorescent lights?


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Laying Down Arms....

Cecilieaux left an interesting comment yesterday. He said:

It occurs to me, from this post and the previous one and the new title to you blog that you may be -- we may all be -- closer to "home" than any of us think. We're always counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike and thinking they're all going to look for America ... but they (and we) are all in America already.

He's right. We are closer to home than we might imagine. It is not about Thailand or America or Canada or any physical place. It's about a process.

In a metaphoric way, he defined some of the changes I've been experiencing lately. If anyone has noticed a difference here, yes, it's real. It's not your imagination.

When I said it was time for reconciliation, that comes as a result of a year's worth of internal work. In some ways, it has been like the crumbling of barriers. It has tested and challenged me at some levels I didn't feel capable of reaching.

I no longer feel at war with "the West". It's just gone. While I still have my preferences and my beliefs, I no longer feel so angry. It has taken a lot to get me to this point. Looking back, every bit of it has been worth it. For so long, I couldn't let go of my own wounds, the ones inflicted by an ideology and way of life that neither fed nor nourished me. I was spiritually starving to death. I felt so completely alone in the world. There have been people who have witnessed my pain and stepped forward to help or even just acknowledge.

It is said that to let things go, we need someone to witness our pain three times. Then we have to release it. If we don't, we're choosing to live in the past. We're choosing to live our woundedness.

I don't choose that.

Caroline Myss talks about the three stages of spiritual evolution we all go through. We go through the tribal phase, the individual phase and finally the symbolic phase. That is very consistent with many spiritual teachers, east and west.

My tribal phase was finding Thailand and Thai culture. I needed a group to identify with, a group who shared values and taught me new ones. The tribe provides us with us with a foundation for not only discovering who we are, but who will support us in finding what we need to make our lives whole. I feel firm and secure in my "tribal" identity. My trip there at the beginning of last year confirmed it. I was indeed "at home".

I've learned that common beliefs matter most of all. Ethnicity and heritage are really secondary. There are those of us who can't identify with the ethnic or cultural heritage we were born into. Nothing wrong with that at all as long as we're willing to find something that does. I firmly believe we all need a tribal identity to feel whole. It is the earth beneath our feet.

The second phase, the individual phase, comes when we feel safe enough in our tribal identity to recognize our individual traits. We begin to question.. to pick and choose. We think more critically. I've been doing this with eastern/Thai culture for some time now, looking at the things that resonate for me and the things that don't. I've grown enough to know that my tribe doesn't need to be perfect.

I'd been off-balance most of my life because the individual phase is all I experienced, skipping the tribal phase altogether. There was no foundation, nothing to balance against. Nothing to compare. So I floundered for years and years. If I wanted to allow regret into my life, it would be the years wasted that would bring it.

Finally, we reach the symbolic phase which is where I find myself now, toes barely in the water. I'm learning. And testing. This is the phase during which we are able to identify symbols, to look at them objectively and glean their meaning. We find the root principles there, root principles that are true for everyone in the world, for all cultures and all individuals. Native American culture calls this "the shamanic journey".

We find the freedom to find truth in all traditions. We don't need to discriminate. We don't need to take everything personally. We understand the things that are really about us and the things that are not.

We no longer need to be "right".

There are basic truths that fit for eastern culture, western culture or any culture. That is that we all want to love and be loved. We all want to have meaning, however we define that. We all want to have purpose. We all want to "belong" somewhere... and to some thing.

And the symbols are the same for most of us, even though we might express them differently.

This is just beginning for me so I will try to write something here when a phase begins or ends. For now, I'm basking in the peace of it all.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Come Early Morning....

One of the changes I've made recently is to start each day with something positive and inspirational. I wanted to test it out before writing about it, but I've noticed that it is making a difference.

My room is just how I like it... cluttered with all kinds of personal things... lots of quilts and blankets on the bed, a dim light on the nightstand that glows through stained glass. It all works and when I first wake up, I look at the clock and occasionally turn on the radio. There's a local station here that plays beautiful instrumental music.

When I finally get out of bed and open the bedroom door, sometimes it feels like being hit with a bright light, like an interrogation booth. I don't like mornings generally. I'm not a person who wakes up with enthusiasm for being alive. That's just the truth I live with.

It takes something extra to put me in a frame of mind that will prepare me for dealing with the mental, emotional and physical glare. That's just a personal thing. I believe strongly in starting the day without petty frustrations or negative thoughts. I have a steadfast rule that I do not do problem-solving when I first get up. That is firm and non-negotiable.

Over the months, I've collected quite a set of DVDs. I have everything from Caroline Myss to Marianne Williamson, the Dalai Lama to Wayne Dyer. I also have some very good movies and DVDs of people doing Tai Chi, QiGong and other fluid, beautiful movement. There are even a few things I listen to on YouTube. If it inspires me, I have it ~ regardless of its cultural origins. If it's good, it's good.

I make some tea and sit in a comfortable chair, put in one of the DVDs and listen. Each day, I pick the one that seems most appropriate, depending on my frame of mind. It usually takes 45 minutes or so before I feel ready to deal with the computer, the news or the outside world.

It doesn't matter how long we choose to take with this sort of thing. It can be five minutes or forty-five. I know people who only take five minutes. There are people like me who often take an hour. The point is that I've noticed my attitude has improved and when I do have to go out or deal with something unpleasant, it doesn't cause me to act in an unpleasant way.

The beginning of the day is when our minds are most open.. and when we are most vulnerable. It only makes good sense to feed ourselves with something emotionally and spiritually nourishing.

Do you have a similar morning routine?


Monday, January 05, 2009

It's a Love Issue..... And Sometimes Love is Tough...

"Think about what you're really hungry for..."

Today when I watched the first segment of Oprah's "Best Life" series, I was struck by the simple truth of what she had to say. Ordinarily, I am not much of an Oprah fan because she simplifies very complex issues and doesn't seem to follow through.

Yet, in this case, I found the simplicity to be right on target. It really is that simple.

For those of us who are addicts of any kind ~ drugs, food, booze, relationships, ideas ~ you name it, the aphorism fits. It's a love issue. In my case, I switched an addiction to alcohol to an addiction to food. I use food inappropriately to fill me up in ways that can be filled in other healthier and more satisfying ways with a bit of mindfulness on my part.

Over the past month or so, I have gained five pounds. I don't have holiday parties or family gatherings to blame. I gained five pounds because I stuffed my face inappropriately. I felt isolated and the food comforted me. So every time my housemate baked fudge and cupcakes, I ate too many of them.

I paid attention to my body early this evening after having watched the show to really determine if I was actually hungry for food - or was I hungry for something else? I've eaten plenty today and there's no logical reason to want food. My body doesn't need food. My spirit needs comfort. My spirit needs love. And I need to love more openly.

So I thought I'd toss that out for everyone to consider. When you are hungry, feeling unfulfilled, what is it you are really hungry for? When you want a drink, what do you really want? When you feel like lighting another joint, what do you really need? When you tolerate unhealthy relationships in your life, how is it feeding you?

Armed with that information, we stand a much better chance of losing the grip of addiction. There are ways to fill our needs without destructive behavior.

Speaking only for me, I think we have to make a real commitment to stopping these behaviors. When things hurt, suck it up. When someone makes us mad, suck it up. When things feel bad, suck it up. When we feel isolated or alone, call someone. Watch TV. Listen to a radio show. When we feel stuck, move. Just move.

Better yet, learn to listen to our legitimate hungers and learn new ways to satisfy them. Getting on the phone for ten minutes to cure loneliness is much better than pulling out a carton of Ben and Jerry's.

I have recently set up a "buddy list" for those of us who find ourselves instantly heading for the refrigerator when things get tough. If it takes off, I'll write more about it here. (Things advertised on Craigslist rarely take off.. so I have no expectations.) I'm willing to let go of this fat ~ something that has protected me for a very long time ~ which I no longer need. This isn't about will power. It's not about determination, goal-setting or white knuckling. It's about transformation. It's about willingness to change and acceptance that sometimes we need to give up old coping mechanisms that may have been appropriate at one time ~ but not now. It no longer fits who I am today.



Friday, January 02, 2009

Coming Out of Standby Mode....

Wow. From the looks of things, I haven't posted much here in December. A lot of it was retreating, taking some time out of the mainstream (so to speak) and a lot of it was just plain old-fashioned avoidance.

This past season was one of the easier ones I've had in several years. A large part of it is that I used avoidance rather freely. Avoidance can be a good tool!

But I'm coming out of standby mode. The holidays are over. I'm glad to be back to "normalcy" because it gives me an opportunity to take care of lots of things without all the interruptions.

I've made the decision to actively choose a new place to live, to get out more to increase my involvement with other people and meaningful projects and... I've decided to file bankruptcy.

I ran it around in my head for quite a while and it seems to be the best option. I created a lot of debt last year and can't keep up with the payments. It's not just lousy money management on my part, although that's certainly part of it. Additionally though, some events that took place and cost me money I didn't plan on spending. Medical expenses and other unexpected drains on my finances took serious hold during the last four or five months of the year. This is happening all over the place right now... with hundreds and thousands of people.

It's no small decision for anyone. The consequences are serious. I'll have a crappy credit rating for the next 7 years and will not be able to make any major purchases. But the essence of who I am is not my FICO score or my possessions. My peace in this world is not dependent on a 750 credit score. In the end, it simply doesn't matter.

Sometimes we have to make these decisions and move on. Life happens. I should add that I am at peace with it. I lived without credit for over 20 years and did perfectly well. The main thing is to not get caught up in negativity about it.. or let it affect the way I see myself, the world or other people.

These things happen. Trying to control the outcome and fret about it will only create unnecessary unhappiness. I choose to be happy and content in my world, even when things don't go as I wish they would. We can choose to be content, even with a tanking economy and all the world's problems. We can choose to be content because in the end, we still have life ~ and we have each other.