Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Common Ground, Holy Ground - Working for Peace One Thought at a Time

I want to live in a peaceful world.  The whole world, not just my little spot on the hill here in Tennessee. Jim and I have managed to bring our dream of a peaceful, welcoming home into reality and we're grateful...but it's hard not to feel helpless and overwhelmed when we look at the larger world and realize we have no control over events. I can't transform the whole world.

Or can I? 

I've stated my belief here before that we have very little control but enormous influence, and that we are shirking our responsibility when we don't use what influence we have for the good of all.  If the world is, as I believe, an interconnected web...if we really are all made of the same stuff, connected and influenced by the actions of all in that web...then we influence the whole with every action.  And if, as I also believe, thoughts are things ...that what we choose to think about will make its way into reality...then we influence the whole with every thought and that influence grows exponentially stronger when we think about something repeatedly and with intent. And if I can influence the thoughts of others with words, spoken or written, am I doing all I can to use my influence for peace? 

I don't have the data, but I'm making an educated guess here that there are more people in the world who want peace than there are people who don't.  Theoretically, with all of us thinking about peace, we should be able to influence the world in that direction, right?  Obviously we haven't succeeded yet, so there's a fly in the ointment somewhere.

The problems start with the fact that violence, even a small amount compared to the whole, creates fear and fear keeps us from thinking peaceful thoughts. You can't be afraid and not think about what you are afraid of. Hatred directed toward you, even if you don't return it, is so emotionally overpowering that we can't seem to help thinking about how unfair it is, how wrong, how damaging. Those are not peaceful thoughts.  Doubt, grief, envy, jealousy, depression, anger, attachment...how many other detractors from peaceful thought enter our lives every day? 

And we, in our infinite wisdom, add to the problem by selecting entertainment that puts images of violence and misery into our image-processor brains and call it good.  Many movies feature more violence, cruelty, and pain in ninety minutes than many of us will experience in a lifetime. While we consciously know that the images on the screen are not "real," they're still there, saved and stored and cataloged.  I watched two movies with my husband this weekend that gave me a stark reminder of why I made the decision years ago to not watch such things. "Dark Knight" and "The Happening" were both good movies; Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker was astounding. But I have replayed over and over in my mind scenes from those movies, pictures of madness and horrifying death. Why did I think it was a good idea to put those images in my mind, images that weren't there before and serve no good purpose? I'm still trying to shake my mental Etch-A-Sketch clean.

What if we all made a conscious decision to think about other things? What if we, on purpose, with will and intent, choose to think about things that promote peace?  If the world is filled with conflict and we want peace, focusing on the conflict isn't going to get us there. What if we made a concentrated effort to turn our attention away from the source of the conflict and look for the common ground? 

It will only be a ripple. I know that the horrible mess in Gaza and Israel won't disapper tonight even if the whole world takes up the cause. Peace won't greet the dawn in Afghanistan...hatred and bigotry and genocide and senseless violence won't fade from the world and leave great peaceful holes in their wake. But my looking for common ground in my own interactions will affect me and my personal actions on the great web. I am the only thing I can control, and by controlling my thoughts I alter the influence I have on the world. If enough of us exert influence, what might we accomplish?

Today I will focus my thoughts deliberately on words, actions, and images that promote peace, understanding, coexistence, and joy.  Where there is potential conflict in my life, I will look for common ground and resolution. I will use discernment in my entertainment choices. I will choose words that promote peaceful thoughts in others.  I will make every effort to use what skills and talent I have to influence the web for the good of all.

I challenge you to do the same, and post a comment back here with your thoughts. Can we change the world, one thought at a time? I believe we can.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

No Secrets - Just Scraps of Honesty

Yvonne Perry of Writers in the Sky has honored me with an Honest Scrap Award. The award is for bloggers who blog honestly and from the heart, and I'm really flattered. There are no medals, no trophies, no big checks to cash...just the opportunity to share ten of my deepest secrets with you. I also get to nominate seven additional bloggers for an Honest Scrap Award, which I will do at the bottom of this post.

So here goes...more than you ever wanted to know about me:
  1. I love to cook and hate to clean. Since I'm a very messy cook, this can be a problem.

  2. I rarely use recipes. They're like coloring books - someone else has already had all the fun creating the pictures. I like a blank canvas!

  3. When I was in my early 20's, I was a singing waitress and I loved it!

  4. I have firewalked (walking on a bed of hot coals). It was a turning point in my life and an incredible experience.

  5. I believe panang curry is quite possibly the most wonderful taste in all the world.

  6. I recently lost over 75 pounds following Weight Watchers and have gained 22 of those pounds back. Food and I have an interesting and challenging relationship.

  7. Until I was an adult, I never ate pecan pie. We used hickory nuts instead.

  8. My father could not read or write, but he ran his own business successfully for years. He was one of the smartest and hardest working men I've ever known. He worked full time, raised a BIG garden, always had some type of livestock (pigs, cattle, chickens) that he raised for both food and sale. He worked all the time.

  9. I was raised Baptist until I was about four, then as a Jehovah's Witness. I later joined a Presbyterian church so I could sing in the choir. I left when I could no longer pretend to share the same beliefs and explored some more, finally finding my way home to an eclectic neo-Pagan spiritual path. I believe that all the "truth" in the world, should we ever find it, will amount to no more than two or three grains of pure thought; the rest is just fluff and bother. If we look for what we have in common instead of focusing on our differences, we could eliminate the hatred and misery associated with religious intolerance.

  10. I believe that people act on what they believe, even when they don't know or understand their own beliefs. I don't get mad too often because 99.9% of the stuff that might make me angry really isn't about me at all. It's just people doing what they do.

Ok...that's my ten things...not exactly secrets, but chances are you didn't know them all. Now it's time to pass the torch. I'm nominating the following honest, gutsy bloggers for the Honest Scrap Award:

Alex (Deaconblues1982)

Julie Ann Dunn

Sitara Haye

Mark David Gerson

Robert Girandola

Josie Thane


Katherine Turner

Ok, folks...show us your honest, scrappy selves. You're on!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Humility, Gratitude, and Friendship

I never cease to be amazed at the revelations and lessons life offers...and what a slow learner I can be.

When I fell and injured my arm last week, I was with two friends I dearly love.  I know, too, that they love me. They made their love a verb by making sure I was cared for and working together to get me back to the office, to the ER, and back to connect with my daughter (who, along with her boyfriend, verbed her love, too).  Both friends offered to drive me home, one following in another car so my car could get back to my house, too.  I did everything I could to keep them from having to make that trip, even though they were more than willing. 

Why?  On the surface, the answer is I didn't want them to have to make a forty mile round trip on a Friday night.  But if I'm honest, I know there's something more, something in me that makes me just about willing to stand on my head in poo before I let someone just help me like that. 

Fast forward to yesterday.  I had to be in the office and my steady stream of pain meds meant I shouldn't drive.  Daughter got me there but had to work last night, so I needed a ride home.  That meant I had to call on the same friends from whom I had turned down the ride on Friday.  One was working from home that afternoon; the other had plans for a holiday outing with her work team.  Both willingly and graciously agreed to help anyway.  But here's the thing:  I turned them down on Friday when they were all ready and lined up to take me home without having to jump through too many hoops.  When I finally swallowed my stubborn pride and false sense of independence and called on them, it meant a change of plans and extra trips.  The friend who ended up bringing me home had to bring her son out with her on a rainy, foggy night after dark, even though she doesn't see well at night.  The other was "on call" when she should have been free to just enjoy her party.

Humility and gratitude are favorites lessons of the Universe. I believe them to be among the most important spiritual values we can possess...and I still fall so short.  Humbled by the reminder that I have much work to do, grateful for friends who love me anyway, I stand once more in awe and wonder...and sheepish chagrin at my own foolishness.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Fought the Law and the Law Won

My recent brush with the law (more of a collision, really) has reinforced once again that crime doesn't pay. Apparently, neither does confident, joyous exhuberence...the kind you feel when you're out with two of your best friends and enjoying the conversation so much that you turn and walk backward on the sidewalk to keep talking and fail to see the big chunk missing which your foot finds nonetheless and you are no more able to stop yourself falling than you are able to stop this sentence from going on forever until...BOOM! BOUNCE! SLIDE! The law got me. Gravity is REAL!

So what's a right-handed writer with a broken right arm to do? So far, the only answer that has presented itself is to put my left hand to double-duty and do a lot of extra proofreading. I'm surprised at how quickly I can type with my oft-neglected left hand. Mr fear that my blog might languish unattended is rapidly disappearing.

Showering remains a concern, but I have my priorities. The blog is safe.

More to come. Time for pain meds.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wisdom in musical form...

$1.45 a Gallon - Hold Me Back!

No...really...hold me back.

Take my car keys away. Help me remember how committed I was to driving slower, consolidating trips, and working from home when gas was $4.00 a gallon. And while you're at it, don't let me buy ice cream.

I feel a little like a child who insists on playing with a sharp knife. I cut my finger, just a little; it hurt and it bled and it scared me. But then the bleeding stopped and I didn't need stitches and it healed and now the knife is looking all shiny and pretty again. If I ignore the painful but relatively gentle warning and play with the knife again, will I cut my finger off next time, or fall on the blade and impale myself on my own stubborn refusal to behave?

When gas went to $4.00 a gallon, I heard the warning and put the shiny toy down. We drove so much less and so much slower. I didn't run to the store every time I had a creative urge to cook something and needed just one more ingredient. My employer was gracious enough to let me start working from home part of the time, cutting another 45 mile round trip out of every day. Not only did we save money, but I could almost feel the trees on our hilltop property breathing easier, saying, "Thanks!"

Ah, but as soon as gas went down again, I saw the shiny and started reaching for it. Filling my tank for $30 instead of $80 made me feel all healed up. With giddy, guilty glee, I pointed my full to the brim mechanical chariot toward unnecessary destinations at unduly high speeds because it only cost me $30 and it was shiny and pretty and fun.

I'm getting the same warnings about my hard-earned weight loss. I've put back just a few pounds of it and I can feel the effects. Not good. Not good at all. I lost all that weight and got to feeling good and in control and smart enough to know I could splurge a little now and then...and then again...and now...and now and again. Now I'm struggling to get back into a healthy eating pattern again before I have to go wrestle my friends for all the too-big clothes I gave away. That would not be pretty.

Everything about my life right now feels like I'm at the, "Ok, I warned you!" stage, that split second of decision time just before your common sense takes over and pulls you back or you go for it anyway and the tale, should you live to tell it, starts with, "See, what had happened was..."

The gas spike had a domino effect at our house. At nearly $80 a tankful at peak prices, our budget took a hit. Prices on some items we buy regularly, like diet soda, went up and have stayed up. We made adjustments, switched to store brands, bought less. We didn't suffer, mind you...just shifted to a more conservative spending pattern. Same with the weight loss. We didn't suffer. I cooked more at home, made healthier meals, smarter snack choices, exercised more. Because we went out less, we spent more time at home getting stuff done and being together.

It probably comes as no surprise that we actually enjoyed ourselves. Driving slower is less stressful; driving less is bliss. Spending less wasn't painful; it was kind of fun to see how creative we could be. Healthy food is delicious, fresh and light and tasty. I looked forward to my daily walks. So why oh why would we go back to the old ways?

For that matter, why would any of us? Did you make adjustments when gas was so pricey? Have you kept them up? At $4.00 a gallon or $1.45, driving is no bargain. You could make gasoline free and it wouldn't reduce the damage we do every time we fire up Bessie in the driveway. And just because I have the money back in my budget now that gas has gone back down doesn't mean I have to spend it. If we were happy and healthy on less, why spend more? I have plenty of bills and debt that would benefit from the application of a little more cash each month. And before you raise the, "We need to spend to stimulate the economy!" flag, I'm not talking about hording money under my mattress (though I really wish my 401K had been under my mattress); I'm talking about spending wisely and paying down debt. Reducing debt is good for any economy, and environmental and health concerns don't experience recession.

This is my public commitment to not going back to my pre-warning ways. I'm going to drive less, spend less, eat better, and exercise more. I'm going to start right now by walking away from the computer and getting in a light workout before I start work. I'm working from home, keeping one vehicle off the road today.

We've all been given plenty of warning and now the warnings are getting dire. I challenge you to look at where you are now. Are you playing with the shiny knife again? Put it down! Walk away! There are lots of fun things to do without impaling ourselves on our bad habits.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Religion and Politics Do Not Mix

These are not my words; they are my thoughts. I could not have said them better myself.

Religion and Politics Do Not Mix
By Yvonne Perry

You may have been taught in school that America was founded upon Christianity, but proof of such is not reflected in the writings of our founding fathers. In fact, the first six American presidents were actually opposed to the doctrine and dogma of Christianity.

Would you refer to prejudice and premeditated murder as Christian traits? One of our forefathers was so prejudiced against the American Natives that he once described them as "having nothing human except the shape" and as "a beast of prey." Known as the "Father of our Country", President George Washington was known as "The Town Destroyer," and "The Killer of Women and Children" among the Onadaga Indian People whom he and his militia killed in cold blood. Did good ol' George (who couldn't tell a lie) believe this country was founded upon Christian fundamentals? Washington is quoted as saying, "The United States is in no sense founded upon Christian Doctrine."

John Adams, the second President of the United States, had little use for religion when he said, "The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence "found not one redeeming feature in orthodox Christianity" and added:

Christianity------the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ------Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and imposters led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus. The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and the freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated Reformer of human errors.

Jefferson also called for limitation on the power of the Government, and was an advocate for the separation of Church and State.

James Madison, fourth president of the United States, thought no better of religion when he said: During almost fifteen centuries the legal establishment known as Christianity has been on trial, and what have been the fruits, more or less, in all places? These are the fruits: pride, indolence, ignorance, and arrogance in the clergy. Ignorance, arrogance, and servility in the laity, and in both clergy and laity, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, was no doubt a religious man who is remembered as a Christian President; however, some say Lincoln was a skeptic of Christianity. He is quoted as saying, "The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma." His views did not change during his political career. He was later noted to say, "My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."

After Lincoln's assassination an American author and the editor of Scribner's Monthly named Dr. Josiah G. Holland wrote about Lincoln's religious views:

"------He believed in God, and ------believed himself to be under his control and guidance. ------This unwavering faith in a Divine Providence began at his mother's knee, and ran like a thread of gold through all the experiences of his life. His constant sense of human duty was one of the forms by which his faith manifested itself. ------He recognized an immediate relation between God and himself, in all the actions and passions of his life. He was not professedly a Christian-that is, he subscribed to no creed-joined no organization of Christian disciples. He spoke little------of his religious belief and experiences; but that he had a deep religious life, sometimes imbued with superstition------."

Perhaps Lincoln recognized the difference in spirituality which is our connection and relationship to our Creator, and religion which is the very thing that attempts to separate us from one another and our Creator.

Aside from presidents, other founding fathers of notoriety agree that Christianity has little merit when it comes to governing a nation of people. When Benjamin Franklin was asked about his religion, he said:

As to Jesus of Nazareth, I think the system of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with the most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubts to his divinity. ------ I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.

Deism is a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century religious philosophy and movement prominent in England and the United States. Deists normally reject supernatural events and divine revelation common to organized religion. Disregarding holy books and religions that affirm the existence of such things, deists support religious beliefs must be founded on human reason observation of the natural world which reveal the existence of a supreme being. Deist Thomas Paine had a strong opinion about religion:

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. ------Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is part of the Bill of Rights which prevents legislature that establishes a national religion by Congress or that prefers or supports one religion over another. The First Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This part of the First Amendment is sometimes referred to as "the separation of church and state" which means that the state or national government should be kept separate from religious institutions.

I doubt the Ten Commandments were posted in courthouses during the early days of U.S. history. Our founding fathers proposed the First Amendment and rejected Christianity as a ruling factor in government and political issues. After being ruled by a government which tried to synchronize the beliefs of the entire population, they were fed up with being told what to do and what to believe. They wanted religious freedom. Today, we as citizens still want religious freedom, but there can be no religious freedom when one religion controls the masses through government. Yet, this is exactly what has occurred in our nation. Religious groups attempt to control the government by imposing laws that decide what a marriage is, what can be grown in our backyard and what medical research can be federally funded.

Every time a law is passed that gives jurisdiction over what happens in a person's home, marriage, healthcare or religion, we lose another personal right that was assured in the laws used to found our country. It's time to stand up and vote against bills and amendments that take away the one thing our founding fathers did have in common-freedom from religion.

Works Cited:

The Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1968, p. 420







Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS). She and her team of ghostwriters are ready to assist you with writing and editing for books, eBooks, Web text, business documents, resumes, bios, articles, and media releases.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Yvonne_Perry

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Perfect Family

What is the perfect family unit? Western culture has firmly embraced the notion of the one-man-one-woman-plus-children as the ideal family, the one to which we should all aspire. Is it? Is that the family you grew up in, the family you live in now? Is it the family of your friends, neighbors, relations?

In "The Perfect Family is a Myth", Cornell University anthropologist Meredeth F. Small suggests that our narrow definition of family is not universal nor is it historically true. She makes the point that, even in a Western culture that idealizes one family model, families that actually conform to the model are rare.

How do you define "family?" Is there an ideal family unit? Does your family fit that ideal?

Among my own family and our circle of friends...my husband and I have children from previous marriages, one of whom lives with us, the other two with their mother. Among our friends and relatives are single parents, childless single women and men, married and unmarried committed couples of various gender pairings, with and without children, and a triad or two. Each of their families are filled with love, laughter, conflict, challenges, sadness, support, and every other aspect of family life. We also refer to our spiritual group as family and share enormous love and support within that group. My husband and I have had many conversations about the concept of line and group marriages. We both embrace, at least on a philosophical level, an idea of family beyond the limited Western definition, yet even we struggle at times with long-held beliefs and norms.

What about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on what makes a family. The definition of family in our society is changing whether we talk about it or not. Dialog gives us an opportunity to participate in the change, not sit dazed and confused on the sidelines watching the landscape shift. This kind of social evolution can be a long, bumpy ride. I don't know about you, but on a trip like that, I like to drive.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Gay Rights - Newsweek Poll Results

I don't get it.

More Americans than ever, a pretty clear majority if a recent Newsweek poll is any indicator, are in favor of granting gays and lesbians virtually all the legal rights associated with marriage, but not allowing them to get married. Read the full poll results to see the numbers.

Actually, I do get it.

It's the same issue I've railed about in previous posts. We have allowed the word marriage to be defined in a religious context. That definition has become so ubiquitous that people who favor granting gay and lesbian couples all the legal rights associated with marriage through civil union can't take the final step and say, "Yeah, let them get married."

Let them inherit property...have visitation rights...adopt or use assisted fertility and have children...make them eligible for dependent insurance benefits...just don't let them get married. All the legal rights and responsibilities currently granted through legal marriage are fine; only the moral definition of marriage, a definition rooted in religion, is still holding up the show.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And a really bad precedent.

What about divorce and remarriage? Many Christian sects teach that divorce is against God's law except in cases of adultery, and some teach that it's wrong in any case. Shall we decide then, that divorce is illegal? What if we held a vote and your marriage to your current or perspective spouse hung in the balance while other people decided if it was moral or immoral?

How about procreation? There are those who teach that marriage and sex are primarily for procreation. Why don't we vote on whether birth control is moral enough for America? And while we're at it, let's make marriage between partners who can't have children illegal, too, since they can't fulfil the true purpose of marriage.

So if you're a post-menopausal woman and meet the love of your life, you can have a civil union but don't try for a wedding, 'cause we're not standing for it. If you've been divorced and meet someone new, go ahead and live together and we'll sanction it legally so you can have insurance and stuff, but we reserve the right to maintain our moral superiority and smug self-righteousness intact by not calling it marriage because America is a Christian nation.

Wait a minute...what did I just say? America is a Christian nation? When did we get a state religion? When did we ratify a Constitutional Amendment and adopt an American morality?

Oh...that's right...we didn't. My bad.

No. It's bad, but it isn't mine...and I'm not going to stop talking about it until we get over it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Twitter Addiction - the #whoandwhyifollow post

I am a Twitter junkie.

There, I've said it...and I'm not ashamed. Twitter is just about the coolest tool on the web right now (among the ones I've tried so far; the web's a big place and I haven't gotten around to all of it...yet).

What makes Twitter so twittalating? Short (140 characters or less), frequent posts about whatever you're moved to share, and some Twitterific people! Some are purely social; some are marketing products or services; the best share freely of themselves, their knowledge, and their view of the world.

Now @David_N_Wilson and @SarahJL have started an avalanche of shout-outs to the Tweeters, Tweeple, TweetiePies...well, you get the idea...the people we enjoy most on Twitter. In the spirit of share the wealth, here are my favorite people in the Twitterverse. To keep from making a 20,000 word blog post, I've restricted myself to just a few. I enjoy everyone I follow on Twitter for one reason or another; these are the ones with whom I've made an extra connection, professionally, socially, spiritually, or all of the above.

Without further ado, here's my #whoandwhyifollow list:

@SarahJL - "I'm a Twin Cities Radio DJ, Voiceover coach & Belly dance teacher and performer. I love my husband @QuantumGood, our cats & spiritual freedom!" Who wouldn't want to follow Sarah? She's fun, smart, talented, and has a wide range of interests that she shares freely. Her blog rocks, too!

@firehorse_ij - "Cubicle dweller, voracious reader, slightly neurotic" Another smart, funny person; we share a professional interest in training development and an enjoyment of commercials that say something so unexpected and out of place that you spew coffee out your nose. She blogs, too.

@writersinthesky - "Published author, writer, editor, podcaster, owner of WITS Creative Writing Services. Gardening, marketing, stem cell research & spiritual discussions." Yvonne uses Twitter to market her writing services business, to promote causes she's passionate about, and to share her knowledge with others. Her website is cool; her blog about writing is informative and a good read.

@markdavidgerson - "Speaker, workshop leader, creativity coach, spiritual mentor and award-winning author of The MoonQuest & The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write" Mark is inspiring! I've never met him, but even his 140-character Tweets give off a gentle, caring vibe. Check out his website, too.

@Judith12 - "Neither artist nor poet. Quasi-retired. Oft reclusive. Seasoned. Wiccan. Innkeeper. Equity: stage manager." I disagree with Judith's profile; she IS both artist and poet. She paints little 140-character word pictures of her beautiful home every day and I just love them! Judith is one of the first people I found (or who found me) on Twitter and I'm glad.

@DatingGod - "health freak, world phreak, parttime recluse, shamanic healer, writer, earth mama, bee-hybrid, couch tuber, will tweet for organic red wine . . . " Cool writer chick with a great blog, a wicked sense of humor, and a beautiful "Yes!" approach to life. I haven't forgotten that I owe her a response to something she asked of me a long time ago and hope she hasn't given up on me! Check out her very personal, very interesting blog.

@deaconblues1982, @NPMMDad, @rickbaldwin - Three very interesting gentlemen. Deacon's a personal friend, NPMMDad and Rick Baldwin are local guys. They're all smart and funny. Deacon and NPMMDad share day to day thoughts and life; Rick Baldwin posts short, funny quips all the time...nothing earth shaking or of any real importance, but witty and fun.

There you have it; my Twitter A list. Everyone I follow on Twitter brings something good to the party, and I enjoy the whole shebang. If you're not on Twitter, I recommend it. Just be aware - it's habit forming.

Happy Tweeting!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Not a Poetry Lover...and Yet...

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. -Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

I am by no stretch of the imagination a student of poetry. A large portion of the poetry considered worthy of study in my school days was filled with obscure references and imagery I had no frame of reference for. Teachers weren’t satisfied with how the poem affected me or what I thought it meant. No, there was a right answer that most often lay somewhere just outside my vision and grasp. Having to work that hard just sucked all the life out of the art for me.

Ah, but there were a few, a rare collection of poets and poems that did touch me. Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg and, later, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Rabindranath Tagore, and Rumi, penned words that could have come from my own mouth, my own heart, or made real for me an experience I can never know first hand. They wrote poems that offered immediate recognition, like being reunited with old friends. My husband has that magic, too; several of his poems paint images more faithful to the truth than any camera can capture. And my Master List of Influential Poets wouldn’t be complete without the songwriters whose lyrics have been my constant companions for so many years…Lyle Lovett, John Prine, Paul Simon, John Mellencamp, Neil Diamond, Melissa Etheridge, J. D. Souther and other alchemists who made gold out of words and rhythm and fire.

The poems and songs that move me all begin in delight and end in wisdom. They delight with rhythm, a cadence and flow that lives and breathes with the words. The poems I love best can be read out loud, the meter echoing the heartbeat of the message. I delight in the sound and the words and the imagery all the way to the end and then there comes the wisdom…the resonance, the fire and passion and soul of the poet, the emotion, the experience. It’s like eating delicious oats, eggs, butter, sugar, walnuts, and raisins…and getting a warm cookie. What a gift it must be to have that magic!

Today, in honor of the many poets who have enriched my walk so far and the many more to come, I’m sharing one of my favorites with you. It’s hard to choose just one. I consoled myself with a reminder that I can always share more later. I invite you to share your own favorites, too, in comments. We’ll create our own mini-anthology.

From Gitanjali, by Rabindranath Tagore:

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy
through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked
in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life
and my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Which comes first - the smile or something to smile about?

Another amazing video from Nik Askew, lifted once again from Luminous Inspirations (thanks, 2Da1, for your beautiful posts!).

What a beautiful smile this woman has! She exudes grateful, heartfelt joy and reminds us that, "I'll see you tomorrow..." isn't always true. We don't have tomorrow. We hope to have it. We plan to have it. But it's not a given.

Watch...enjoy...and smile.

'smile' from Nic Askew on Vimeo.