Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why I Still Write Letters...

And love to get them.

This article really digs deep into the issue as well as giving Kate Spade a serious plug for her new line of paper goods. (I guess that is why it was in the "entertainment" section of the AP wire.

Letters are great... wonderful... personal. There are things I am incapable of writing in an email. I don't know why it should be that thoughts and feelings are more easily conveyed in written word if they can't be said aloud to the person, but it is certainly true for me. Maybe it is because, with really important letters, I often write the letters in my journal first or on a scratch piece of paper. I reread and make sure I am really saying what I want to say. That is not to say that I don't ever just write a letter and mail it off... but I almost always reread it before I put it in the envelope. Again, there is nothing stopping me from doing that with an email. I have been known to craft email messages over a long period of time...rereading and editing, etc.

Perhaps the difference is not in the writing but in the reading. We read email fast, we hit the reply button and answer the last question quickly. We don't always respond to the "tone" we think we hear in the email as much as we respond to the "feeling" we have when we read it. I know I have done this... and it has caused great confusion and miscommunication.

The bottom line for me is that I don't get the same quality of response from an email...either because I expected more or because I got less. When you send a letter, it really is a message in a bottle. Feeling the envelope in your hand, seeing your name written on it, it can make up for whatever the words are inside the letter. You know what it has taken to sit down and write the name and address and craft the note inside. And time is a great healer... the sense of relief for writing the letter and sending it off has set in by the time you get the reply.

And letters are prettier than computer screens, hands down.

What *DO* Married Women Want?

So, I hope you all can read this article... interesting study.

Married women want to be taken care of and have their freedom and want their husbands to do some of the housework or to just be emotionally available.

I am not sure how to process this little study, but it struck me as something to share with the loyal readers.

I wonder what a female commentator would have had to say about this study.

Maybe more thoughts will come when I reread it; for now, it's just to share and collect comments.

Opine away.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Violent Encounter Witnessed

Bringing a new twist to the meaning of violent squatters, I witnessed an overprotective bird protecting a hole in the telephone pole she is now calling home. The would-be intruder was a red-headed squirrel who probably just wanted to get across the high wire. I don't think squirrels would poach a bird's nest or steal eggs. I am quite sure squirrels are avowed vegetarians, if not vegans. It certainly would explain their jumpy behavior if they were vegans.

In any case, I was sitting on the steps waiting for some friends to pick me up when I heard a funny noise. It was a cross between a squeak, hiss and cry. I thought it sounded familiar, in NJ I had noisy brown squirrels who made that noise when they chased each other around trees in springtime. { :) } But in this age of squawky electronic devices, I wasn't sure if it was nature or man-made.

When the sound persisted, I look around and sure enough, following the sound I saw the squirrel going around the telephone pole near the top. As the squirrel appeared to be alone, I was intrigued. Watching, I noted a very small bird dive bombing the squirrel and precipitating the sound I heard.

The little bird continued to dive bomb until her objective had been accomplished and the squirrel retreated down the pole. He seemed more bewildered and inconvenienced than scared or angry. Her home secured, the little bird retired to the hole, sticking out her ever vigilant head.

I rushed back in for my binos and a bird book, but, sadly, I have only Eastern field books. She's small, gray with no markings I could discern. White underneath and a small peak on her head. I couldn't tell if she had a black beak, but I know where she lives.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saffron robes, high tech sandals and frappacinos

In my quest to find compassion for myself and others, and in that way secure some measure of happiness, I have turned to meditation and reading the Dalai Lama.

I guess it's no surprise to discover that meditation does not come easily to those of us afflicted with ADD. (I like to call it multi-tasking, but I am fairly confident that not being able to concentrate on just one task at a time is most accurately diagnosed as ADD than a propensity to multi-task.)

Despite my initial inability to empty my mind and focus on only one thing, I have learned to meditate. I have even learned walking and eating practice.

Trudging faithfully through the Dalai Lama's book on Happiness, I have been intrigued by the teaching, though annoyed by the co-author's psycho-analysis deconstruction.

I imagine the Dalai Lama's life of practicing the deep compassion he describes in humility and the profound peace it must give him. I get the slightest twinge of guilt when I feel the need for a donut, nachos or a drink to help me get through difficult times.

It was delightful, then, today to witness the flutter of saffron robes (Buddhist monks) descend on the s-bucks with comfy high tech sandals (and socks, of course) to order their frappacinos. I guess no one is above human luxuries or treats.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mini Meltdowns & Safe Harbors

Do we just reach the point when melting down is inevitable?

Do we enter the safe harbor and instinctively feel the sense of safety required to unleash the mini meltdown?

Whichever is the case, I was grateful today to have the mini meltdown and feel, finally, the release of the toxins that were not only polluting my body but had paralyzed my mind as well.

Surely this small release is only the beginning; a respite, if you will, from the storm. But, hopefully it provides the needed recharge to face (weather) the tempest. Perhaps renewed energy will carry me to the compassion and peace I believe is warranted for all.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tangles, Knots and Other Life Complications

What does it is take to get the knots to untangle? I feel like this picture... my guts are turned inside out and then wrapped around each other in unnatural ways. I wish I could understand how I could logically and rationally have come to a sound decision for my future yet be so tangled up in the immediate situation that I can't seem to move down the road.

It just doesn't make sense to me... if I were still wandering in the darkness, trying to make sense of the situation or struggling with the what the best decision will be, then I would understand the tangle.

I made my decision based on what I think is best for me, past experience and in response to my physical reaction to my current situation. But, I didn't necessarily spend a lot of time thinking about how this situation was created. Actually, I did spend quite a bit of time contemplating my role in the situation getting to this point. But I have shied away from trying to untangle the other people's involvement. Perhaps it is for this reason that the tangles are only partially loosened and rearranged.

The thing is that I need to deal with all of the sides of this issue. Just saying that I am doing the best thing for myself does not release me from the self-blame and self-recrimination. No matter how much I want to believe that I am being truly compassionate with myself, I have to admit that not being able to accomplish the personal goals I set each day reminds me that I am allowing the demons to question, thwart and undermine my resolve.

I don't think all of the kinks need to be worked out --- aha, I admit that perfection is not my ultimate goal. A start. But I want to be able to get to a more orderly arrangement. I want to find peace amid the chaos that is the world outside of me. I want this Celtic knot that will help me to exhibit both the complexity and the peacefulness of my soul.

Is this possible? How do I start to reorder the tangles instead of trying to banish them? I am hoping that writing about it, albeit cryptically and generically, that I have started down that road. I need to believe that this situation has presented itself in order to help me resolve the issue of knots, tangles and other life complications. I need to believe that I have the strength, courage and resilience to make to the other side of this one, too.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The treat at the end of the run

It used to be that I dreamed of a big latte as the best treat at the end of any run. In fact, I went to the trouble of buying two moisture-wicking shirts at REI with zippered pockets for the peet's or sbucks card. Then I gave up coffee. So I needed to come up with a better end treat.

For the past two weeks, I have tried to get up and run, early. The first week, I made it out TWICE by 6:10 am. The second week, I only made it once before Mother Nature decided I should stay in bed for the 40 degree weather. [For all you East-Coasters, 40 degrees is equal to igloo weather for those of us from the West Coast; years of living in New Jersey did not thicken my blood. Or maybe it is just that I can't put California and cold together.]

This morning, since I didn't have to go to work, I could stay in until the heat of the day arrived, that would be noon. Too late for a latte? Not really, I can have chai latte at any time of the day, except evening as it has caffeine.

With the sun up and the day beautiful, I decided that my end of run treat would be to visit the cemetary. I didn't have the energy to go to the top of the hill and look out at the Bay Bridge, but I did make it to the Home of Eternity.

I like to read the gravestones as I jog SLOWLY by... it is almost like visiting a bunch of dead people I don't know. I love to try to piece together their lives from the scant information available. I like to think they enjoy the drive by visit even if they don't know me.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Giving up the ghost

I am not sure if it is really giving up or just reassigning my priorities. But it sure feels like giving up.

I have spent my entire professional career, which I am sometimes scared to admit is nearly 14 years, in the public sector. First as a teacher and then in non-profit educational organizations.

I became a teacher because I am a teacher. It is not necessarily my favorite career; certainly it is not where I saw myself when I thought about making my mark in the world. But, I am a good teacher. I am a teacher. I see and feel my students. I am able and willing to adapt to reach each one. Like all good teachers, even after a fantastic lesson, I go home with the one kid who didn't get it. That's what makes teachers good. Good teachers lack a sense of pride that allows others to say it's the kid's fault he/she didn't get it. A good teacher judges his/her worth by the success of his/her students.

I enjoyed being a teacher just for that reason. It is the only part of my life where I can say I am truly humble; it is the only time when selfish pride does not invade my personality.

Similarly in the non-profit arena, my desire to make things better on a larger scale, my pride has remained largely at bay. As I look around me, seeing so many others out to "save the world," I recognize how easy it is to fall into the messiah trap. I am genuinely grateful that I have remained on the edge of that abyss.

Instead, I look at this world and wonder why as good people with lofty goals we can't be more successful in changing things. Why we can't we be more effective, more efficient, more impacting? Why are we content to think that what we are good at is enough?

So, I have been humbled once again. I thought I could get into the wider world, outside my classroom, and make real change. The farther away from my class, my domain, the more it becomes clear to me that the real change I desire is remarkably impossible. And so my pride rears its ugly head again. I recognize that my goal of change needs to be tempered with reality. I know that I need to set goals that are realistic, measurable.

Leaving the world of "I can be the change agent" feels like losing a limb. I have lived too many years exchanging feeling successful with feeling righteous. Being in a no-win situation, again, makes me feel as though much of these past 14 years have been a waste. Not the teaching years, I know, in some way, I touched at least some of my students. But, certainly these last three and a half years have been, too often, an exercise in futility.

Turning this page, then, feels like both a failure and a victory. I expect no great adventure on the other side. I would like to have a job that some people call "phoning it in" or "punching the clock." I want a job that pays the bills and leaves some time for fun as well as continued introspection.

It makes me no less sad and no more happy to make this switch... I have pushed my emotional and physical self to the limit making this decision until, finally, it is the only decision left.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Strength...Anger... and other illusions

The thing about appearing strong to other people is that they start to think, no really honestly believe, that you (the strong one) can't be hurt.

It is like a challenge to hurt you, to break you, to bring you down.

As long as they believe you are strong, they feel like the proverbial David bringing down Goliath.

Didn't Goliath have feelings? Did god create Goliath just so David would look like the underdog winner??

What if Goliath, like the wicked witch in Oz, had a story of his own to tell? What if Goliath were just plain human who happened to be big, and people treated him poorly, so he became hurt and sad, and lashed out in anger.

Anger is such an easier emotion to show, particularly if the real emotion is pain, hurt, vulnerability.

Someday I am going to become the angry, strong woman who doesn't care about anyone but herself... just like Goliath eventually gave into the hype. And we all know how that story ended.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

It seems like all those whose blogs I read chose to post about Valentine's Day. Who am I to break the tradition, as it were.

I proudly wore red today because I am in love.

It may not seem like the real thing to anyone around me, but I don't care.

It is a love that won't go away. So, I can embrace it or I can reject a very large part of myself. I embrace it.

There's nothing wrong with love. It's a great thing, in fact. I am going to use it to help me get farther on this road.

There was even a lovely Valentine's Day card waiting for me when I got home. A very good friend took this special day to remind me that she cherishes my friendship. So, it wasn't from him. It doesn't change the love.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Spa daze

I cannot say enough about the beauty of the spa day.

For $30 you get to use the gym, which helps you earn the rest of your relaxing day. With just the right spa, you have a jacuzzi room, with chaise lounges ready to help you rest after your turn in the jets. The sauna and steam room, as well as the waterfall treatment. Some spas have the swedish spa, hot and then cold; this one didn't.

The best spa ever had a relaxation room with a chaise lounge, mood lighting and comforting eucalyptus scent. No better place to lounge. No better.

Green Valley had the hot tea, cool water, trail mix and granola for in between exercise and luxuries.

Get yourself to the nearest luxury spa, and don't worry about getting a treatment, get the treatment... just spend the day at the spa.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Seeing Red

Flying over the desert today, my eyes were drawn to the red.

It pops up, seemingly unexpectedly, from the brown, dry landscape.

It seems magical, mystical, other-worldly.

All that and it is just due to a different mineral composition in the soil.

Why are we so enticed by red?

Is there something intrinsically bewitching about red?

Friday, February 10, 2006

The climate we live in...

If you haven't seen Good Night and Good Luck, go see it.

The fact that it is nominated for an Oscar will probably mean it becomes available in the theater again.

Reading through this article as well as a few others TODAY about how we are dealing with immigration makes my stomach turn. Maybe if you read one article every three weeks, you could say, these are just dramatic cases that fall outside the ordinary. Instead there are two or three articles a day to deal with the climate of fear and intimidation in which we are living.

When you have only known one country, perhaps you can make excuses for the idiosyncratic flaws you find there. But, I have had the fortune of living in several countries for extended periods of time. No country is perfect; and certainly I have seen many other people treat immigrants unfairly. But this is my country, the country of immigrants, and it is beyond against everything we stand for to make those who wash up on our shores into terrorists and enemies.

This is, of course, without comment to the second grader who was strip searched. What kind of excuses will the flag wavers come up with to explain that one?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Some religious meddling I can get behind...

In a move that has finally painted a face on evangelicals that demonstrates their humanity and connection to this world... 86 ministers have signed a statement that calls for the government to do something about global warming.

I love it when people surprise me... and challenge me to rethink my perception of who they are. This has done just that... it will certainly make me listen more attentively when they expound their points of view, even those that I am personally not able to support. Grounding themselves in their humanity rather than their spirituality gives me the opportunity to stretch beyond my own biases.

Thanks to god, the goddess, spirits everywhere and especially to the people who believe.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I don't think I ever thought I would make it to 100 posts... I had a slow start, and could hardly believe when it had been a year since I started blogging. I have good months, and bad months. I have spurts when all I can do is rant... and others where all I can do is cryptically muse about my life.

That's how you get to 100... no cake, no party, no balloons, just posting.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I spent the day at a workshop on how to be an adult in relationships... a difficult topic to be sure. Mr. Richo was a very interesting and engaging fellow. He likes to illustrate his points by pulling apart words: looking inside words for their Latin and Greek roots.

(***It is always amusing to me how little English speakers know about their language that they are so mystified and awed by the ability to look inside of words for origins and meanings; I will admit to being just as interested in this process, but it is not surprising to me, rather it is affirming that our languages and cultures are connected by these roots.)

You couldn't really ask for a more beautiful setting...Spirit Rock is like a little peace of heaven. This time around, I didn't get to see Bambi's relatives or really hear the birds' songs... too many people. But sitting and eating lunch on the hill with the sun shining brightly and the wind rustling the grasses made the day nearly perfect.

Mr. Richo, as I said, was both amusing and full of knowledge to share. I feel as though I might have needed the more advanced workshop as most of what he shared I have already come to... perhaps the practical tools he offered to help us walk through the door will make my own practice more useful. But the truly fascinating concept he discussed was the shadows.

I have been playing with the shadows for quite a few years... opening the closet, dumping out the boxes and truly examining these shadows. I have come so far in this practice that I can, even, recognize the utility of the shadows. I see how I have done my best with all the tools in my kit, even when I had to use the shadows to protect myself. It makes it easier to put those tools back in the box when you recognize their power, use and necessity. You know they are there if you need them; you are empowered, then, to hold yourself back from using them unless you really need to...instead of fearing that at any moment your back will be up against the wall and the tools will wield themselves without control.

The shadows that embarrass me the most are selfishness and greed; I feel them most acutely in the notion of scarcity and "getting my due." I am truly embarrassed by these emotions, and more humiliated by the actions that sometimes come about as a result of these feelings. These are the shadows about which I often feel out-of-control, but there are others. My ability to cut down, belittle and put in her/his place so easily with no regard for the aftermath is certainly troublesome, but I feel I control it so much better now. I wouldn't give that shadow back, it has kept me safe and sound and moving forward at times of great darkness in my life.

The startling revelation from Mr. Richo was the "collective shadow" that lives within each of us ... though we may never have exhibited these shadow elements, it is true that they live within us. The aversion and denigration of others, the bias, the anti-semitism, the hate for anything we cannot control and all the actions that ensue from these emotions. Yes, Mr. Hitler as well as Mr. Rumsfeld live in all of us ... waiting to spring to action at any moment. We can only control these shadows, this collective shadow, by acknowledging their reality, their existence and their power.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Heavy Heart

I read this article early this morning ... it makes me sigh with relief and it hurts my heart at the same time. I can't help thinking every time I see her how preventable this was and how so very unfair it is for her to carry both the burden of her conscience and the condemnation of so many who have no inkling what it is to be at the mercy of the kind of sincere medical/emotional disease she was at the time of the deaths. It is not that I mourn her children any less, but my heart hurts for her as well.