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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A gentle reminder to myself


-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ants, ants everywhere and a little Christmas

So today I was greeted by a march of ants coming down from the ceiling into the kitchen to swarm the dog dishes of food and water. Now I'm toxic from spraying and cleaning, I can feel the ants itching all over me and my eyes are weepy from the chemicals. I've taken extra Immune and given Kaylee double her dose of AIO-Canine to detox us from all the crap I sprayed. Of course Mom is coming today, I really needed this extra KP duty. At least the kitchen floor is now spotless, one chore out of the way. And I can't help but wonder....where will they appear next.

Today is about making everything neat and pretty, clearing away the debris of wrapping and empty boxes, making as much room in the house as possible. It's small and we have two overnight guests coming. Not just overnight, for several days. This is good, it will keep me busy and my focus outward instead of inward. Joey is with me all the time these days, his memory hovering around and cloaking me in a mist of regret and despair. But I know it's a cloak I will be able to throw off for part of each day as I prepare for Christmas. And as a distraction, I want to write about that for a moment - why I celebrate Christmas and what it is I think I believe this year.

Jesus was born a son of God just as each of us are. I believe he is one of many who were given the gift of divine sight and the ability to share a little of how and why we are here. Of how we can have a beautiful human experience. And within his teachings are the fundamentals I try to embrace. The ideas of creating heaven and hell on earth, the idea that through death comes rebirth - spiritual as well as physical. That we are all made of light, and can reach a place within ourselves of infinite possibility if we follow a path to enlightenment. This is why I celebrate his birth; I believe he was enlightened, and had many things to teach us about both the human and the spiritual experience. This is a season of joy and hope and love, and I revel in it. I look forward to the moment I step outside on Christmas eve, and feel the soft cold night around me, lit by sparkling stars and suffused with love.

Friday, December 19, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I've been trying to help a friend of my son's. He's 23 and constantly in trouble of one sort or another. Upon occasion I provide rides, or a little walking around money, or a bed for the night. But this week...I am done. I believe I have crossed the line between helping and enabling. I probably crossed that line long ago, but because of emotional ties to Joey it's hard to see or feel clearly sometimes. Anyway, after deleting the details of the morning - they are inconsequential - my eyes are finally wide open to how I am not helping him at all and I've told him NO MORE. Long story short I was out in early commute traffic, in the rain, only to be stood up for a favour he had asked of me the night before. Fine, if that's what it took to wake me up I can deal with it. But then, on the way home I was a little pissed, and being an emotional eater I realized I had a job in front of me. I had to fight my way past a pastry cafe ( I actually went in and browsed before leaving and getting back in the car empty handed), a 7-11 (I almost convinced myself I deserved a hot chocolate), two McD's (just a biscuit, I thought, but drove on) and then stopping to pick up a stocking stuffer made it out of the store without anything to eat. Whew! One final push to get past the local 7-11 and I am home, still without breakfast, and needing to vent before heading for the kitchen to make a green smoothie. So I guess he actually he did me a favor; not only am I done enabling him, I am also starting the day empowered by all the tough choices I made on the way home.

Then getting home. I forgot to take the precautionary measure of moving the chair away from the Christmas tree, and darling little Kaylee had gone to town tearing off ornaments and chewing them up. I swear the tree looked like she had jumped in it to find the little bamboo drums that she apparently found irresistible; the golden beads that had been draped so prettily were all askew and there were needles all over the floor. The little brat. Of course, I have been gone a lot more than usual, so I only yelled at her once (WTF?!) and then picked up the wooden shards, rehung the ornaments that weren't ruined, straightened the tree, and vacuumed. She is hiding in her bed. Which reminds me how glad I am I hid the Christmas chocolates in the closet last night so they were not accessible to her on the bureau like they were yesterday.

Big Sigh. The house is crazy messy right now, you know - the chaos just before everything comes together to look and feel Christmasy? So there is lots to do to keep me busy, and while the pain still comes in waves as things remind me of Joey, it is much more manageable than last year.

Back to work. And Breakfast. Which just makes more work. Sigh.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oat Bran Blueberry Pancakes

Last night I lay awake in that elusive but sought after dream state where you can really think clearly, and tried to make sense of ... everything. If we are spiritual beings having a human experience, what does that mean? do we choose the experience? in that case is everything preordained so you know what to pick? and why do we pick? do we want to or are we compelled? and who orchestrates that? and how impossible does all of that seem given the way everything intertwines? is that god? is this an experiment? or is this school and someone picks for us? is there nirvana somewhere that we aspire to and have to take certain classes to get in? or by spiritual do we mean purely intellectual energy and we dive into a human life like a ride at the carnival? is that why there is so much suffering on earth? those lives feel more and the goal is to feel - with no difference between good and bad? As you can tell this went on for quite a while, and while the questions kept coming with divine clarity, there were no answers presenting themselves for the session.

My answer ... pancakes! Or rather, one large pancake. 1/2C each lite soy milk and oat bran, 1T flax meal, 1/4tsp each baking powder and soda, 1T raw agave, 1 1/2C blueberries nuked on high for a couple of minutes until it's jam. This made one huge oat bran pancake that fit perfectly in my 9" crepe pan. Cut up and drenched with steaming blueberries this was filling and felt decadent while still falling into the healthy range. So while I am still medicating with food, the good news is that the quality of the food has improved greatly. This high fiber breakfast should keep me happy well past lunchtime ;)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Trees

Part of Christmas around here is decorating paper Christmas trees. It all began with Joey winning a craft project in 1st grade (above) 18 years ago, and it grew into a tradition of creating a Christmas tree forest on the wall each year. Friends, children and adults alike, have all contributed over the years and I have dozens of trees.
While taping up paper trees this year I was inspired to make a new cardboard cutout of a smaller tree to mix in with the larger trees. Above is a sample of an older larger tree and a smaller one that I just decorated. Some of the trees have names or years on them, but even if I don't remember who did which tree, I do remember everyone who ever made one, and putting these up brings back good memories. Here is one of the walls from last year.
Anyway, today was wonderful, mostly because my DD and her brand new DD were visiting, and we were decorating the new little trees together. I can see a time when my month old granddaughter will be sitting at the table decorating her first tree, and how we will tell her the story of Joey; this is how sad and sweet go together. But really, I know it wouldn't have been any less sweet without the sad part. I have heard time and again that without the pain, we wouldn't understand the joy, but I don't buy into that anymore.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Of mornings and Geese

I haven't been sleeping consistently well, and last night I took some sleepy stuff. Which means I am groggy this morning. Which pisses me off. I am a morning person, or at least I use to be. And I miss it. I miss waking up glad to greet a day full of possibilities.

<---(I found this picture that I took in Sept '07)

There is a gaggle of geese flying by as I type this morning. It's fun to think that the three pictured here may very well be part of that flying formation. The Canadians invaded our golf course several years ago and just never left. Googling an ornithology map it looks like we should only have them in winter, but I know I have seen them while riding my bike in more clement weather. And this year we are apparently in the flight path of their roosting and eating fields. It's wonderful to hear the honking as they fly by, such a happy sound. While out walking last week a few dozen flew right over me in their large Vee, so close to the ground I could see how strong and solid they are - very majestic really. I just love them. So today begins with something I love, a good omen. It's so nice to have something positive to focus on as I start the day, a little reminder that I am still surrounded by small miracles.

Writing of which, I am reminded; a friend sent me an email recently, highlighting the top ten photos from the Hubble Telescope. And in just one of the beautiful pictures of another galaxy, they noted there were more than 8 Billion stars in just that one picture - and at first I felt so small and insignificant, and in the next moment so very rare and special (another ellie arroway ref.) Certainly if we are so special, then each experience should mean something extraordinary, should signify ... something. If I could just figure that part out, maybe I could feel past this loop I am in and start experiencing more of life again. I am a spiritual being having a human experience...I wish I knew why, I wish I could recapture the feeling that it matters. Now I am really rambling, because that brings the memory of being a little girl. I'm swinging on the front gate of our house, dressed so prettily for ...easter? christmas?... anyway, someone comes to get me (I can't remember who) because it's time to take pictures. And I am mad, and I think something along these lines.."Oh bother, why do I have to be here, why do I have to go through all of this again, I wish I could just go back." Such a strong feeling, such a confidence that I came from somewhere better and that this (my current life) is just temporary. So I know, I really do know, but I just haven't been able to care again yet. And I'm tired of not caring. And now I have to tag this as a pity party. Rats. Shake it off, get dressed, get busy, go go go...

Friday, December 5, 2008

On being a sponge

Why am I so ... inclined to glom on to whatever I hear or read. You can't sleep, I can' t sleep; you're snacking at night, I'm snacking at night; you didn't exercise, neither did I. It's crazy, like I'm leading bits and pieces of everyone else's life. It' s like visiting with my Canadian cousins and all of a sudden there's an uplift to the end of my sentences. Same thing happened on our surf trip to Mexico - interesting that the countries that border us each have a similar speaking inflection while we in the middle somehow missed that endearing trait. Anyway, lying awake at 3 this morning (why is that the magical number?) I just let my mind go all the places I usually avoid. I use to have this rule that if I was in bed and started thinking about 'work' I had to get up. I was not going to spend personal time thinking about that, and in bed is personal time. But even those thoughts managed to find a place in my meanderings this morning. Eventual sleep broken by a whiny puppy provoked me to the couch, and then the phone ruined even that brief respite. I'm just grumpy, and pissed about it. I need for this to be a productive day. I'd better start with warm feet, then a green breakfast, that will help. No, tea first, clear the head. Then I can think about why I am such a sponge.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Presents

I was stressing a tiny bit over what to do about presents earlier today; worried the holiday spirit hadn't kicked in, worried about money or the lack thereof, worried that I wasn't more worried. Then my DD came over with the new baby and we started talking about who she looks like and I pulled out my basket of film. After Joey died I finally got around to putting all my super 8 film onto DVD's - so afraid of losing those memories and wanting desperately to see them, to see him. Last year I picked up the software to make labels, and so I'm thinking this is the year to finally finish up the project and get copies out to the family. When the DVD's were made they also made four master reels that I can still run on the projector; I can see ahead ten years, a. watching her mother on film cavorting naked in the sprinklers and laughing with delight. Anyway, I need to get on that tomorrow and start making copies and labels and christmas sleeves to wrap them in. At least at this point it's just my time that's needed to pull it all together, which is good because that is what I have to give right now. Watching part of it tonight was like having my heart wrenched out of my chest, and we stopped and said our goodnights before it became any more maudlin. Only happy thoughts around that baby! No wrecking the new merchandise.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The chore of keeping busy

It's a quiet grey morning, the ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum of my puppy running down the hallway and the clickity clack of my keyboard the only sounds in the house, and I find myself turning inward to join the silence. Sometimes on mornings like these I need to make a list to get going: get dressed, make a smoothie, walk the dog. I miss the AM urgency of getting ready for work, of being busy without effort, of feeling productive naturally. So when I realize I need to get moving sometimes making a list helps. I think I need to work on the garage today and clear a path to the Christmas decor; not that I can afford to keep the Christmas lights on as much as usual, but I think it will make me feel good to get them up. My Mom is coming to visit this year (to see her great granddaughter) and I need to make sure she knows I am okay and that it's Christmas as usual. Why is it always more important to make sure others know we are okay, why do we spend so much energy towards that end? I remember when I was working in SF and flying home for visits in LA and I would whip out my Macy's card and buy a couple of new things to wear home so they would 'see that I was ok.' And here I am ..oh, 35 years later doing practically the same thing. Does this mean I haven't grown up? Or that I had it right at 18 and it's important to put on a good appearance. Maybe not for the reasons originally acted on, but because the first step to being okay is pretending. If you act like a duck....etc etc. Perhaps that is just part of how we create our universe. I was speaking to a friend the other day about the holidays and how it's hard to not feel they are jaded by the commercialism. But it brought to mind a quote, lines spoken by Jodi Foster in the movie Contact.
"Ellie Arroway: Funny, I've always believed that the world is what we make of it."

It's the whole 'Secret' thing, create what you want to live, and I want a happy Christmas - even if some of the time it's just pretend.