Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Recap, Finishing and Thoughts on the New Year.

This week there were many stories in the papers that caught my attention. I saved a few of them in hopes that I would have the time to blog about them before they went out to the recycle bin. So, here I sit typing furiously in hopes of getting these thoughts out into cyber space before 2008 begins. Although I seriously doubt that there will be much different happening in the way of news, politics and the like.


One of the first that got my ire up was an article, in a local paper, about Ohio getting tougher on social drinkers. This is really beginning to piss me off! Now, let me say that in no way do I condone going out and getting sloppy assed drunk and driving, but how can a few adults go out for dinner, have a couple glasses of wine and then get stopped at a sobriety check point and get nabbed for a DUI because Ohio keeps lowering the limit! All the while repeat offenders stay on the roads. Due to these check points they do not have to even witness any erratic driving and just because you may have had a few drinks with dinner, in a 4 hour or more time period, you will still blow, then you get popped. It is very unfair. The repeat offenders keep driving and the good citizens that just are out for dinner with friends are paying the price. It is making it difficult to even go to a restaurant or pub any longer. I for one am sick and tired of it. It has become an issue in the news recently because an older couple were out for dinner and he ended up getting popped, in a check point, and it cost him thousands of dollars and they took it too the papers are and are making a case out of it because they think that it is unfair. Good for them. MADD has great sway in our state, and much influence over politicians. I feel for those who have lost someone in a drunk driving incident, but why make it so hard for the average citizen who is just going to a local Applebees?

The next two articles were very good and came to us courtesy of; William McKenzie of the Dallas Morning News and David Ignatius of the Washington Post. Both of these articles were about religion and the presidency and politicians playing the Jesus card. The Post article, by Ignatius was a fascinating look at the letters of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and their thoughts about religion. "Their letters", says Ignatius, " are a reminder that the founders were men of the Enlightenment-supreme rationalists who would have found the religiosity of much of our modern political life quite abhorrent." He goes on to say," It's not that these men did not have religious beliefs: They were, to their deaths, passionate seekers of truth. It's that their beliefs didn't fit into pious cubbyholes". He talks about how Jefferson, a deist, took a pair of scissors to the New Testament to create his Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, which cut out the parts he regarded as supernatural or misinterpreted by the Gospel writers.

On November 4, 1816 Adams wrote; "We now have, it seems, a national Bible Society, to propagate King James's Bible through all nations. Would it not be better to apply these pious subscriptions to purify Christendom from the corruptions of Christianity than to propagate those corruptions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America?" He concludes the article by saying that the Founders certainly believed in God, but for most, their faith was a deeply private matter as Jefferson put it in Jan. 11, 1817 letter about a subject "known to my God and myself alone." They found loud, public displays of religiosity a profanation of this inner and spiritual practice of religion. I think that after reading this article I am going to try and find this entire collection of letters to read. They sound absolutely fascinating!


If you can get a copy of the Dallas Morning News article it is also a good one. Here Mr. McKenzie talks about the current candidates trying to "out Jesus" one another!He states that each side tries to shape Jesus into the character that they most like; the The religious left morphs Jesus into a Democratic Liberal; the right shapes him into a Republican conservative.Says McKenzie, " At some level I don't fault them. They are trying to reassure the voters they share some of their values". Personally I wish that they were focus more on the things that are issues ,and that make a larger impact on the U.S. and world ,rather than who attends which church and can sing a few hymns.

Now, after many weeks of 12 hour days, aching knees and a slight shoulder injury, I have decided to leave EMS work. I took a small promotion at the coffee mega-giant and am taking more hours there, that will secure my health benefits, and mean more money. I loved and enjoyed the EMS work, but have to admit, after 8 months, that it really is for the very young and makes some serious demands on your body. I am okay with this. It has taken me several years, and much thought, pondering and reading, to realize that it is okay to re-invent yourself. To become something or someone new every so often. It is amazing how much better I have slept in the last few nights since I made me decision and sent in my resignation letter. The knowledge I have gained will benefit my family for the rest of my life, not tom mention those that I work with. My certification from the state is good through 2010, so who knows what I may do in these years.

I am looking forward to the things that may come my way in 2008. Mentally I believe that I am prepared. I know that growth will always be an active part and I look towards this with great anticipation. I made a small card and carry it in my pocket daily. It came from an excellent article on the Living Life Fully web site. It is just 4 little statements:

1. Focus on today only

2. I get to choose how today will go.

3. Positive attitude No matter what happens.

4. Live out & act on my priorities.

I take control. I don't leave it to anyone else or outside forces. I may live with a family, but ultimately it is all up to me how my life is affected and how I affect the lives of others. I wish you all a very happy & healthy & productive 2008. I hope that you can focus on your life, priorities and the changes that you wish to and need to make in the coming year.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mixter Tagged Me!

Seems that Mixter wants us to play a little meme for the holidays, so I'll bite!! Although I'm not going to link, if any of you guys want to play you'll have to copy & paste and play along in your blogs. Drew, this means you too.


1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share Christmas facts about yourself.
3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of "Getting to Know Your Friends."

1. Wrapping or gift bags?
Wrapping. I like to have a yearly theme and run with that. Although this years theme was, "empty out the basement and use what you have".


2. Real or artificial tree?
Artificial. I am very allergic to pine. We had them for years and finally got an awesome, and quite beautiful fiber optic tree. Nice to sit around and drink some wine. Great lighting effects.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Weekend after Thanksgiving. I love the tree and decorations. It is so naked after they all come down.

4. When do you take the tree down?
My birthday is Jan.13th. Usually a day or 2 after that.

5. Do you like egg nog?
OMG NO!!!! Gross.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I was 12 and got an official Mickey Mouse watch.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?

Nope.Don't care for religious statues or crosses etc. in houses.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Some re-gifted stuff from someone that I thought was a friend.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Christmas Story & Christmas Vacation.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
When I have the money!

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
All deserts.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
It's fiber optic and we can make it do anything we want. It is multi-colored and it pulses gently.

14. Favorite Christmas song(s)?
Most of it unless it gets real churchy sounding. Believe by Josh Groban is a fave.


15. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
HOME!!

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Yep.


17. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Neither. The tree is already glowing.

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?

Morning.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

Commercialism and mass consumerism and rude people.

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color?
Fiber optics make it easy. I buy 1 or 2 new ornaments for our tree every year. We have some cool ones. Like a manatee with a Santa hat from our cruise.

21. What do you leave for Santa?

Cookies and milk, duh!

22. Least favorite holiday song?
Grandma got run over by a reindeer. YUCK!

23. Favorite ornament?
The ones Max made in elementary school that have his picture on them.

24. Family tradition?

We have several, but one of my faves is that we eat appetizers and all kinds of finger foods on 24th and sweet rolls in the AM on the 25th before doing stockings and then gifts.

25. Ever been to Midnight Mass or late-night Christmas Eve services?
Maybe 3 times in my life. Twice at a non-denominational church and maybe once to someone else's service. Too late to be up and I usually still have too much to do to fight a crowd at a church service.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Wishes, Cheer, Friends & Parties.







Last night we met friends out for some free food and holiday cheer. My really good friend Jane works at this place on a river. It used to be an old mill and they turned it into the coolest place. They have an excellent patio and balcony that look out on the river and waterfall. On Friday's they put out lots of free food. So, we met up with some old and new friends to have some cheer before we all get caught up with families.

I thought that I would follow in the footsteps of several of my blogging friends and look at the past year and towards the new year. In 2207 I re-invented myself and along the way I became more of the person that I like. I like a great deal. I lost someone that I thought was a good friend, but in reality was not. I found out who the really good friends were. re-connected with some that had gone along the wayside. For that I am very grateful.

I took many long, hard looks at my life and I made the improvements that were necessary. John and I are stronger than ever and I have made that possible. I re-connected with him and made the deep commitments that I needed to make.

I have taken the time to to really understand what is important and what matters. I have taken off the facade and let myself be the person that I was meant to be. I actually like myself these days. I am doing work that I really like and spending time with people that I really like.

I began my blogging life in 2007 and it has been one of the great pleasures of my life. I have rekindled old friendships and made great new ones. I have expanded my mind and hope that I have added to the thoughts of others with my contributions. I have met people that I would love be closer to, so that we could all go out for coffee and hang out. Mixter, I know that we are soul sisters!!

I have a feeling that 2008 is going to be another year of changes for me and I look forward to them as much as sharing them with all of you that have come into my little slice of heaven.

May the New Year bring you all health and happiness. Love and Blessings to you all!!!


With Love,

Dharma

P.S. By the way, my hubby John, is the fella in the denim shirt in the photos with me. You do not see many pics of us together because he is always the guy with the camera.

Monday, December 17, 2007

No Surprises Here!!





dharma --
[adjective]:

Extremely extreme!
'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Another Top 10 List


As 2007 comes to a close there will be many lists compiled about the best the year had to offer. Based upon someones taste and likes. This one was put together by the American Film Institute.

It is their list of what think were the best movies of the year as well as a few TV shows. I have to say that it is an impressive list of films. None of which I have seen yet. They include the likes of; Michael Clayton with George Clooney, No Country for Old Men with a huge stellar cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones just to name a few. They are all big dramas that I will probably rent, when I have the time, on Netflix. I consider them to be my best discovery, with no late fees, it is my kind of movie rental heaven. We used to be terrible about getting then back on time and would have gigantic sized late fees!!

I love some really good dramas that have good writing and an excellent story line. John, on the other hand, does like explosions and car chases, so they have to be a REALLY good movie for him to sit through. I am all in favor of the action epic, every now and again, but sometimes just like to sink my teeth into a good story. Something about winter that makes movie watching that much more enjoyable. I guess the idea of curling up with the dogs and a blankie and a nice red wine as opposed to being outside, in the summer, with a fire and warm weather have a big influence.

The comedy Knocked Up was also on the list. I have heard form many people that it was a very funny movie. Another that we never made it out to see. Unless it is a big budget, special effects, that you "must see" on the big screen we rarely make it out. Max sees WAY more movies in the theatre than we do. It's not just the cost these days, but also time. By the time a movie starts we are already getting tired. A matinee starts while we are still doing our weekend tasks and want to finish and the nine something show just starts too late. Out by midnight in the winter is just too cold. No way!

They even have a few TV shows on the list. None that I TiVo regularly, but have tried to watch a few times. I had thought that Pushing Daisies was full of potential. Not so. Gave up on it. Visually it is awesome, but it tries too hard and just got annoying to me. One that I might try to get into is Mad Men. I saw a few minutes a few times. Not only is it stunning to look at, but the dialog is quick and witty and a few critics have said that it mimics the time period that it represents, perfectly. Takes place in the 1950's when men still smoked in offices and went out for the three martinee lunch and it was the norm. The only show that I still TiVo regularly is Scrubs and it is in its last season. Max likes it too and I just bought him the soundtrack for Christmas since they usually have such awesome music in their episodes. One of the really good ones was when Colin Hay, from the defunct 80's band Men at Work, sand an acoustic version of one of their hit songs. He, by the way has an album out called Man at Work. Saw it when I got the CD.

So, what are your choices? What do you recommend from this year? As Siskel & Ebert used to say," The balcony is closed."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Firm on Abstinence Funding

If you will pardon the pun it seems that the "abstinence only" programs are going limp. According to the Washington Post and MSNBC there are now 14 states that have sent the money back! Good for them for standing up and saying that they do not believe that the programs are effective. 14 states have either notified the government that they will either not be applying for funding or will be opting out of future funding, forgoing more than $15 million of the more than $50 million that is available. Ohio and Washington have applied, but have stipulated that the money will be used for comprehensive sex -ed and that has made them ineligible. Many other states are considering withdrawal as well.

As the states begin to wake up and realize that these programs are not working Congress is considering raising the funding to $204 million. This seems to be a wise move on their part. NOT! How do these people retain their jobs? Do they not hear what the people want? They continue to follow what a few small groups care about and do not hear what the larger desires are. If private sector folks were to operate this way in their employment we would all be out of work! It continues to amaze.

William Smith of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States said,"We hope that it sends a message to the politicians in Washington that this program needs to change, and states need to be able to craft programs that are a better fit for their young people and not those dictated by Washington ideologues."

Those in favor of the programming counter that they teach "relationship building skills" and accurate discussions of sexually transmitted disease. Are they kidding with this? Having taught in the middle school and high school setting I can tell you that they are not interested in "relationship building" skills. Who at that age is? Hell, we have enough trouble perfecting those skills as adults! It is only about the sex. Short and sweet. They are not out to cement a relationship in stone or make a life long commitment. They already know about the diseases out there. They are also still having sex.

It continues to be yet another example of a White House that relies on their conservative religious background and base to use money on programs that has no basis in success. Yet, as many of us know and other bloggers continue to point out, there seems to be no end in sight. If just one of them would speak up and address issues that really affect and matter to any of us they would have mass support and appeal. Alas, it seems that we are going to be subject to continued wasting and unnecessary programs.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

TheTwilight Years

As a parent I can not imagine what it would be like to loose your children. To have them die before you. Once would be terrible, but I can not even begin to imagine twice. My best friend passed away in 1995, at the age of 34, from complications of AIDS. His parents were, as you would expect, devastated. No parents ever expect to have to outlive their children. These people have always been like a second family to me, so I am always in contact with them, my son calls them grandma& grandpa and they were photographed with me when I graduated from college, they attended my wedding. So, several weeks ago when mom fell and broke her hip Max and I were right out to the nursing home to visit. That was when she told me that her daughter, who was just a few years older than me, was dying of cancer. It was just a matter of time since it had gotten to her brain.

I was shocked. She had moved back home to live with them, the same as their son had done before her, and they had been so busy with this new situation that she apologized for not calling. I told her that under the circumstances I could totally understand.What do you say to someone who is about to loose their second child? To have had to watch them be consumed by another debilitating disease.

She passed away the day before Thanksgiving. Mom & Dad are even more bereft because they did not make it to the hospital in time. Mom is still walking with a walker, recovering from the hip and can not leave the house and dad just did not get there in time after the hospital called. Now they are beating themselves up for not being there for her at the last few moments of her life.

They have a third child, a son. He is a few years older yet and also has moved back home with them. He has had several small strokes and is not quite able to live on his own any longer. He is a shell of the former guy that I knew in high school. They have their hands full. At a time in their lives when they should be traveling and enjoying their retirement they have these multiple worries. I cry because I can not imagine the size of their grief. I plan to try and see them more than I have because I hope to alleviate a tiny bit of their grief and give them something to think about that may not be quite so sad.

I can not imagine how they will make it through the holidays, but they are blessed with grandchildren, from their daughter, and the three of us will go over and mom will still make my favorite cooked cookies and fudge, and I will take it and relish another holiday that I have them with me.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sunday Newspapers, Coffee & Daily Focus


Sunday is my day. It's the only day of the week that I do not work. The day that I can get a few hours extra sleep, leisurely shower etc. and then pop on down to the coffee shop to read and write and occasionally delve into deeper conversations. Sometimes not so deep. My favorite thing to do is to read all the Sunday papers and look for topics that might make for good blogging banter. I also take along all the Daily Meditations, that I print from the Living Life Fully web site, then I read and journal about the topics and themes that they talk about. Usually this all will last about 2 - 3 hours, sometimes longer, if I don't have to go get groceries. This is my time. The time that I look forward to and by the end of the week find that I am anticipating. The time to re-charge myself. To re-adjust my attitude.

Our first topic comes to us courteous of the New York Times. DNA is restoring freedom, but what is the value of lost years? Can you put a price on the best years that someone can lose all the years that they were wrongfully imprisoned? I know that they use formulas and assign monetary value, but is it the right amount? How do you devise a formula, mathematically, that can tell you how valuable those years would have been to that persons life? Stan V. Smith, a forensic economist and an expert on compensation for loss of life, said that in some respects, the wrongly convicted may actually suffer a loss greater than death. " It's not just the years they lost and the mental anguish of being incarcerated wrongfully. Your earnings are going to be impaired forever, your social interactions are going to be impaired forever. It's like being thrown into a time warp." Representative Donald M. Payne, a Representative from New Jersey and a Democrat, has introduced a bill that would set aside $1.25 million a year for programs for exonerated prisoners. He says, " One of the biggest challenges is that once an innocent person comes out of prison, they are not equipped with the tools to reintegrate into society, and that's something that money alone can't solve." One exonerated gentleman said," We may be free physically, but mentally we're still living the nightmare every day." Many have mental health problems and can become addicted to drugs and alcohol. The system may be imperfect, so what can be done to help these people? Fixing the system will take time, but we have to think about what can be done now. How do we help people who may have lost 10 or more years of their life and whose mental health has fallen apart due to being subjected to wrongful imprisonment?

Talk about sticker shock! By Election Day, the two presidential nominees are expected to break the $1 billion mark in combined spending- a 50 percent rise over the outrageously high price of the 2004 campaign. Between the presidential and congressional elections fundings are rocketing towards $5 billion!!! Unreal. How did this get so out of hand? What does spending money like this ever get to the point where it told what type of character the candidate had? How they were going to put a chicken in every pot? Make the streets safer? Now, not only am I disgusted with all the rhetoric, but I am disgusted to hear about their spending excesses. It truly does seem as if politics is only for the wealthy and those who have large family battle chests and can go for the long haul. Disgusting to say the least.

Seems that Bush has gotten a $28 million dollar increase in his abstinence only sex education program. Well, based on things that are coming to light, no pun intended, this program is not working. DUH! Last April a Congressionally mandated evaluation found that students that received this program, in elementary school and middle school, were just as likely to have sex in the following years as students who did not get such instruction. Seems that 14 states have now rejected this federal money and are going with teaching about sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and pregnancy. It encourages abstinence, but also gives the basics and other facts for those that still will have sex. In this day and age when it is a status symbol to have sex, and sometimes get pregnant, in high school kids need to be armed with facts and real information rather than just being told to say no. The amount of money spent on the abstinence program could be put to much better use.

" It's somehow odd that we don't focus more on our capacity for delight, our ability to find joy in our day-to-day lives." That one really hit a nerve with me this weekend. Especially after I had allowed myself to become immersed in all the typical stressors of the holiday season. The idea of mass consumption and the need to be everything to everyone. It only took a few days and I was totally consumed with all kinds of stress and guilt. Not being able to do this and that. Ideals that were set too high. All because of the holiday and the feeling that things have to be perfect for everyone on that one day of the year. So, after I read this meditation I stopped beating myself up and started to think about just enjoying each day for what it is. Dropped the ideas that I thought I had to have and decided to let things comes as they come. Finding the joy in the stuff of everyday life. By looking ahead a few weeks I am just making myself a wreck, but when I am just looking at the day at hand, I can find joy in even the shortest of conversations or a laugh with a customer. I am as successful as I want to be. And that was this Sunday!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Golden Compass & More Religious Debate


It seems that another movie will be coming out, this Friday, and is stirring up more religious debate. Following in the path of the likes of the DaVinci Code, Chronicles or Narnia and Harry Potter. I have never heard of the Golden Compass books and do not think that I will run out and read them because usually I am not a big fan of books with children as main characters. It sounds as if the director has plans to make sequels, from the others in the series, and it getting attention from various religious groups and scholars the same way that the whole Harry Potter series has through the years.

This series is supposedly written by a man who is claiming to be both an atheist and an agnostic. They are reported to be the anti-religious books akin to the Chronicles of Narnia. They are said to be about a world where all the religious people are evil and something along those lines. Why does everyone have to get so "up in arms" about books like this? Either you let your kids read them & see the films or you don't. Why do we always have to over analyze everything?

Remember all the witchcraft furor that went on over the Harry Potter books? So, how many kids converted to some type of witchcraft or pagan religion due to those books? Either you have some sort of rooted family belief system or you don't. If your fear is that a fictional story, a fantastical one at that, is going to turn your little angle into a Satan worshiper or the anti-Christ, then don't buy the books!!

The film is based on the first book in a trilogy called, " His Dark Materials.", by Phillip Pullman. The series is an award winning series of books, so maybe those people who gave the award were godless souls from hell. The movie is already being condemned by conservative Roman Catholics and some Evangelicals. It seems though that even between religious scholars etc. that there is no consensus because the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, of New York, called the film ,"selling atheism to kids at Christmastime in stealth fashion." They are naturally calling for a boycott of the film. Then on the other hand you have the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that said the film was, " intelligent and well-crafted entertainment." Make up your minds folks!!

I probably will not go and see it, although I have heard that it has a great cast, simply because I have gotten a bit tired of the genre. After LOTR I got tired of the big fantasy epic with talking animals, trees etc. I will be interested to see if any of the local religious groups, or church youth groups, show up to protest at their theatres locally. A few did once over Harry Potter. With so many other things going on in the world it is sad to see that so many waste their time worrying about books and movies. Isn't it enough that there are still parents out there that even BUY books and better yet, kids that read them.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Listening, Honesty, and Being a Good Friend


I apologize, the photo that comes along with this entry was just too funny, to me, to not include it ,even though it does not really go along with the sensitive and heartwarming piece that I am about to compose.

This is a story that has been in the works for quite some time, but I have finally made some mental notes and decided to sit down and write the darn thing. To be your own person. You would think that by the age of 40 you would be able to carve your own niche in the world. Not be pushed along by your peers. Kind of like high school etc. I guess it still happens. To talk less and listen more. To ask more questions and to REALLY be interested, really interested in the lives of others. The things I must have missed......

I had a friend, I'll call her Bossy McKnow-It-All, and for 6 years I thought that we were good friends. Really, the last year was not one that I should count because that was when it all began to fall apart. When I began my quest to be a better person and to look deeply into my soul is when I began to see and hear the things that she was really saying, and I found that she was not so nice.

There were some really good people that she helped me to lose as friends. I have since called them and apologized for my behavior and we are all now back on speaking terms. They were ladies who's whose company I had once really enjoyed. I hope to again. I have made the right step in the direction of making my life better. Getting pulled into the dramas, that was how she liked to live her life and continues to do so to this very day, I could not stop it. It washed over me like a tidal wave and I was totally engulfed in all of her negativity and bad vibes. At one time someone had given us the nickname of the "chaos twins". I really am embarrassed by that now. It really was like someone took the blinders off my eyes. I began to see and hear her in a totally different way. I noticed how she never really wanted to know how my life was going, but would ask the one introductory question, wait for the answer and then launch into a diatribe about her life. Every statement by someone else and line by line dialog. It was as if she thought that we all wanted every intimate detail of her life.

It was when she began to constantly use the phrase,"It's all about me.", that I began to realize that she really thought that it was and she really meant it. No one else even mattered. That was why she just divorced her husband, of 23 years, and basically left him with the 2 kids. She has a very small visitation, but that was her arrangement. She was only concerned with what people would think, if she the mother, did not want to see her own kids. They are better off living with dad most of the time. She was the one that walked away. She thought that the grass was going to be greener.

Some of the friends form her past told me that they were shocked that I lasted 6 years because she had a history of dropping friends and making new ones almost every 3 years. I really went the distance!! Now that I have moved on there is so much less negativity in my life. The friends that I have are positive people. I take the time and listen to what they are saying.

I am sad for her that she does not even realize what a good friend that she lost. When I told her that things had not been right with us since January of this year, she just quit talking to me. Never wanted to know why or what was I talking about. Either she really knew or she just does not want to hear it and wants to keep living her life in a bubble. That is not any way to live. Without real friends or people that care about you. Sadly she has surrounded herself with "yes" people and people with low self esteem and they feel flattered to have the attention that she lavishes upon them. They feed off each others needy personalities. Not the kind of situation that is either sincere or real. Not one that I ever want to be a part of ever again.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pushing the Envelope of Christianity




Nothing like getting back into a little controversy, or big controversy, after the holiday buzz wears off. I am sure that this is going to probably piss-off a few people, but when I read stuff like this it makes my blood boil. I do not see why groups constantly feel that they have to impress their ideals upon others. Why they can not just say, "Hey, we're here if you need us." Why do they have to go to such great lengths to alienate others while getting their message out.

The two articles
I read were at Mother Jones News. Now, I am aware that the military is made up of many, many different kinds of people with many differing religious backgrounds. If I respect that, then why do others have such a hard time? Why do they seem to want to make this a crusading military of 100% christian combatants? According to Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force JAG and White House attorney for Ronald Reagan, the Officers Christian Fellowship has their mission statement that reads,"....a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit." So, my first question is, who makes us the deliverers of Christ? Who are we that we think we must represent Christ to all the world? Why does that have to be the center of our military program? Sounds like the beginning to a Holy War to me.

This summer Mr. Weinstein found out about a plan to send packages , by the Pentagon, to soldiers in Iraq. They were nicknamed "Freedom Packages". They were to contain Bibles, proselytizing materials in both English and Arabic and Left Behind:Eternal Forces, a video game inspired by the Left Behind post-Rapture books in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers. Partly due to Weinstein's efforts the packages were never sent. Weinstein cautions," Whenever you have a virulent form of any faith engaged in the machinery of the state, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, we have ended up with tidal waves of blood."

Weinstein says that he has fielded more than 6,000 complaints from soldiers who claim to have been persecuted by Christian Evangelicals, 95 percent of the complaints have come from mainstream Christians. Tipsters have helped him catch uniformed military officers publicly endorsing an evangelical group and ferret out an anti-Semitic Bible study guide on an army base web site. In September, he shunted many of the complaints into a massive lawsuit against the Department of Defense. His lead plaintiff, U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Hall, alleges that a major at Iraq's Speicher base threatened to block his reenlistment in the Army in retaliation for organizing a meeting of atheists. If they want to meet why should it be a problem for anyone? If everyone else has a group and a meeting why can this group not have their own time? What's good for the goose should also be good for the gander, don't you think? Fair is fair.

A then Democrat and now Republican, Weinstein represented Regan during the Iran-Contra affair, criticizes the former president of creating the opening that lead to Evangelicals in the military, but says that George W. Bush dropped the floodgates. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation group counts among its supporters; refugees of the Bush years such as David Iglesias ( one of the U.S. Attorneys that was dismissed this year), Ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame) .

In 2002 General Jerry Boykin told a congregation of Baptists, in Oklahoma, that "America's enemies will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus." These are the kind of people that really frighten me. These are the remarks that give other countries the notion that we ARE on a religious crusade. There is nothing wrong with soldiers having their faith, going to their particular services, but when it becomes fanatical, like anything else, is when it becomes scary.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gratitude & Thankfulness

I hope that all of my faithful readers & dear friends have an enjoyable holiday with family & friends. I also hope that the spirit of gratitude fills your soul, not just turkey & pumpkin pie. I know that I have much to be expressing gratitude for and on those days and in those times when I feel like complaining most I know that I have to stop, and take stock of my life and see what is really important. On that note, I leave you with some quotes from the Living Life Fully web site that I read and quote from so often.

I am so GRATEFUL to be alive.
I am GRATEFUL for every gift and ability life affords me.
I am GRATEFUL for each and every experience I have had that has made my life what it is today.
I am GRATEFUL for the lessons I have learned.
I am GRATEFUL for the opportunity to learn more.
I am GRATEFUL to be an expression of the divine life moving in me and through me.
I am GRATEFUL to be awake.
I am GRATEFUL to have a consciousness.
I am GRATEFUL that my life can be a reflection of divine consciousness at any given moment.
I am GRATEFUL that today is the only opportunity I need to live in the fullness of joy, peace, and unlimited abundance.
Today, I will plant seeds of GRATITUDE in my life, knowing and believing that they will bloom to the goodness and glory of the Divine.
I am so GRATEFUL! For all I have received and all that is yet to come!

Iyanla Vanzant


A thankful person is thankful under all circumstances. A complaining soul complains even if he or she lives in paradise.

Bahá'u'lláh

Let us give thanks for this beautiful day.
Let us give thanks for this life.
Let us give thanks for this water
without which life would not be possible.
Let us give thanks for Grandmother Earth
who protects us and nourishes us.

Daily Prayer of the Lakota




Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Buffoons & Polygamy



Warren Jeffs was convicted ,Tuesday, of 2 counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the marriage of a 14 year old follower to her 19 year old cousin. He received two consecutive terms of 5 years to life. Mr. Jeffs is the leader of what continues to be a small sect of followers, in Utah and Arizona, that follow the teachings that were outlawed by the main Mormon church and call themselves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. They still operate under the idea that these practices are directed from the "Man" up high.

The church is known for arranging marriages of young girls with older men. Sounds like a perverts dream! The girl was told that the marriage was ordained by God and her refusal would put her salvation at risk. Nice. Scare tactics about burning in hell etc. to scare someone into marriage. Way to go. Another example of a man taking his power and holding it over others to control and dominate their lives. Even more egregious because he is also using the word and personage, or whatever, of God. I guess you can not get much higher on the power food chain than to use God.

Under Utah law the victim had the right to receive $5,000 in restitution from Jeffs, but said that she did not want it. She said, " My restitution is knowing that I spoke the truth and the justice system has done its job." Not that the money would have made the whole thing feel any better anyway. It is those lost years of childhood, teen years and innocence that she will never get back. The memories that will forever taint any, and maybe all, of her adult relationships.

The best part of this story came out about Mr. Jeffs time in jail. Seems that as a man of the cloth he does not have much faith in religion. I thought that suicide was an ultimate sin to God, yet we find out that while in jail Mr. Jeffs tried to hang himself. Obviously he was not successful, but doesn't God frown upon that? I guess he just is not as strong a believer as he likes to state. Or, he is just another cowardly low-life that realized he has no redeeming qualities and his life has been a sham.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Adult Material : Ladies Night & Heavy Artillary









Last week I did two things that I have never done before; 1. I went into a sorority house and 2. I attended a ladies toy party in said sorority house!!

Let me explain; I work with a really cute girl who is the president of her sorority. She mentioned at the coffee house that she had recently attended one of these ladies toy parties and would any of us come if she had one herself. Naturally we are a fun bunch and we said yes!! Well, it was everything and more than I anticipated. It was full of young girls, 19-21 that all had really skinny, tight butts with cute pearly white teeth. They all looked exactly the same with their tight, straight leg jeans tucked in to UGG boots. The only way to tell them apart was blond, brunette, redhead. seriously! Only the 3 of us from the coffee shop were older than 30.

Well, we played a musical chairs type game where you passed a very large and rubbery device. Whoever got stuck with it when the music stopped had to sit down. Well, I was the final winner and you can see my photo holding the pen that I won as my prize.

She had male organ drink straws and we got pens that were topped with them. She made cookies in those shapes as you can also see from the photos.

What surprised me the most was the amount of money these young girls were spending on some very serious heavy artillery!! Almost all of them spent $80-100 dollars on this stuff!! Some of the gadgets looked like major warfare items from the Army and Navy. Not to mention that they made horrendous buzzing noises and required a truckload of batteries that you had to remember to take out between every use. Also, infections were a concern so you had to buy the cleaner that they sold for that artillery. Too much crap and stuff to buy. I can hardly remember to change the batteries in my smoke detectors let alone worry about them bursting or exploding inside some device that you have to clean after every use. Now I know what these girls are doing with the money that their parents are sending them or maybe it's their student loans. Anyway, it was a far cry from the Tupperware and Mary Kay parties of my past!! I tasted more fruity gels and goos than I have in a lifetime. I may actually be getting a few cavities from all that. The girl who won the edible panties said she thought she and her friend might just eat them out of the package on the way home. Kinda like a fruit roll up.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good Friends & Great Food


















Last Saturday one of my very best friends from high school, Jon,came from New York to celebrate his moms birthday. So, he invited me to attend dinner with them at a small, but excellent place that is known for their spectacular seafood dishes. It's situated on a small lake and has windows all around that you can look out and see either the lake or fantastic night skies.

Jon has lived in NY since we graduated. At one time he was an actor and a dancer. He has a fantastic little apartment right near Central Park that was built in the 1920's by the Astor family. These days he is a graduate of NYU and a playwright. He still has family in this area, so we try to see each other every time that he comes this way.

I had a fabulous dinner!! It was hard to choose they had such a great menu, but I finally settled, after 2 glasses of a great Cabernet, on a chicken breast that was topped with delicious crab meat and then a cheese and a light sauce with a hint of lemon and herbs. It was HUGE and I could not finish it no matter how much I wanted to try! It came with excellently prepared and seasoned red skin potatoes and some of the most succulent green beans and red peppers. The beans were perfect in their crispness and not under cooked. I hate it when the veggies are too crisp! We had started off by sharing several appetizers of seafood pizzas. They were unlike any I have ever eaten because the crust was so light and buttery I could not believe it. One was topped with crab and the other shrimp. Then a delicious herb cheese and fresh tomatoes. Mmmmm-mmmm good!! I will go back. I could not believe that all these years I have never been there to eat. I just had never considered it. The one reason may be the cost. They were very pricey. Jon did pick up the check, but it would be a nice special occasion place. Not exactly a place that has a kids menu. Max would probably not appreciate all the flavors and subtle nuances of seasoning etc. For example their prime rib was $30.

I am mostly posting this so a few of you might get a partial glimpse of my newest hair foray.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Time & Talents

" Whatever you are by nature, keep to it; never desert your line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed."

Sydney Smith



This was the beginning quote in the series of articles that I read today from the Living Life Fully web site. I read these every few days and use them as my inspiration for writing and journaling. The series became very important for me today because they not only reflected some situations that have been happening in my life, but also those of a good friend. Armed with that information I decided that it would not only be good for me to blog about these things, but also as as a reflective tool because I also know others who have been going through changes and the ebbs and flow of life in general. So for all of us I present this material today. I'll call it my Zen Sunday.

I will probably quote a great deal from this first article because I highlighted nearly the entire article. It was was appropriate. "One of the most painful things that I witness over and over is when people desert their true natures because they think that acting some other way or doing other things will bring them more acceptance by others."

This used to be so true of the way I lived my life. I thought that I had to subdue the activities and things that I loved to either be taken seriously as a "grown-up" or to be a success in the real world. Then one day, in the not too distant past, I actually woke up and realized that I could be an adult, but at the same time I could still follow my heart and do some of the things that I love. One of those things is theatre. I was, at one time, a theatre major and had big plans to be on Broadway. When those plans never materialized I pushed them to the back of my mind and pursued a more adult profession. I did not hate teaching, but I always still felt drawn to singing and acting. That is why, for the past year I have occasionally gone out to auditions. I am making the time for myself to go out and do the one thing that I really enjoy. I did not get the last part, but I have another coming up December 3rd and maybe that will happen for me. There me be other talents that you have, but one should not put them up on a shelf because you think someone else might not like whatever it is you like to do. Maybe you like to paint, but everyone else thinks you suck, so what I say!! Do it for yourself.

"What are your talents? What kinds of things come the easiest to you? These are the things that you can not desert, for in deserting them you're rejecting gifts that can make your life much happier, much more whole, much more fulfilling."

I have to say that when I gave it some thought and practiced this approach I was a much happier person to be around. I felt like I was getting something out of my life rather than just giving to everyone else. There has to be something in this for you. You can only stifle your true self for so long before you become a resentful person. You may not realize it at the time, but if you are holding back for someone or something else it never can come to any good.

I used to want to please everyone, and it still matters but on a much smaller scale, and for this change I am also a better person. I make sure that I take the time necessary for myself, I want to have that time alone to read and write and think and plan. When I don't have that time I can feel myself becoming very cranky and irritable. It is never too late to make the changes you need in your life. You are never too old. How much happier you could be by just taking the time to make a few small changes over a period of time than to live your whole life for everyone else, and then one day realize, you did so little for yourself. It is not very pretty to become a martyr and think that you have given up so much for the sake of others because what you have actually done is not for the good of anyone.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Food is Fun!





















Whoever the people are that get to be " U.S. Researchers" have to be some highly over paid folks. According to an article at MSNBC these researchers have come up with the end results that people who are emotional eaters do not lose weight as well as those who are not. DUH!!! Hello...... Any of us women who suffer through this could have told them that without the high cost of the researchers and the time it took them to come up with this wisdom. According to Heather Niemeier, a researcher on obesity at Brown University, "We found that the more people report eating in response to thoughts and feelings, the less weight they lost ." More DUH!!! Again nothing that I did not already know from first hand experience. My own mantra used to be,"I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I am sad. Food is my friend." Heather also went on to say that of those people who did lose weight, the emotional eaters were most likely to gain it back. Again, I say......DUH!

As a woman I have always had problems with my concept of my own body image. I let the magazines and other entertainment tell me how I should look. Although I never did suffer from any eating disorders, mostly because I loved food too much and also hated throwing up. I was never a reed thin girl, but almost always built kind of like a female softball player. Hips run in my mothers family, thanks mom!! I even had a boyfriend once that told me that my thighs were too big for his taste. Nice. So, I took various pills and whatnot trying to loose weight through most of my 20's and part of the 30's. Once I was actually too thin from some of these and had those nice collar bones protruding from my shirts. A good and popular look if you live in Hollywood.

It has just been in the last few years that I actually began to accept myself, through much soul searching and reading, and decided to try and just be healthy. Well, once more I jumped on the Atkins bandwagon. Lost about 50 pounds. Hey, I liked the way I looked, but I was sick to death of eating that limited diet and not the same foods as the rest of my family. Plus it is expensive to buy meat, cheese and eggs all the time. Plus, you always have to cook something. There were nights when I was too tired and then would break down and dive head first in to a box of cookies made by some elves!

Food has always been a love of mine. I love to go to good restaurants and try new things. I love the way food is presented. I adore a beautiful desert tray. When we took our cruise, well let's just say that I wore many flowing skirts and elastic waist items so that I might partake of every buffet from one end of that ship to the other! Occasionally I like to go to a beautiful holiday buffet complete with ice sculptures. Like I said, I do love food.

Well, about 11 weeks ago I made a choice. I saw how hard this EMS work was on a body that was less than in shape. So, I decided that I had to do something. I ended up doing something that I thought was just for huge older ladies. I went to Weight Watchers. Boy, was I surprised! There were lots of younger women and some even came with their hubbies. I saw that I knew many of them from the coffee shop or other places in town. I did it for me. Not to fit the ideal that some magazine tells me I should be, I did it for how I want to look and feel, not for what John might think.

Well, I actually am doing it! I am down 14.8 pounds and wearing clothing that had long been forgotten in a closet. I am working out again and doing yoga. I like that it allows me to eat the same food as my family, except in something called "portion control". A new concept to me! I must say that I still have my emotional moments, but I have bought little chocolate bars, that they sell, and they do take care of my needs. If this is what it takes, and it is slow and you do have to eat more fruits and veggies, then I will be in it for the long haul. I know that slow and steady wins the race and is also the safe way to do it. I have given up all the yummy additives from my coffee and just drink plain 'ol espresso now. I try to write more when those really low emotional moments hit. I know though that there will be times when I hit a road block, but then I just get right back on track the next day or the next meal.

I quit buying those magazines a few years ago, sometimes I will glance at one in the store, but I believe that I am much better off working on a body image that is my own and not airbrushed by some guy who thinks he has the perfect idea of what a beautiful woman is.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What to do With That Extra Hour



The clocks have now been set back one hour and here I sit, on a Sunday morning, wondering what I am going to do with my extra 60 minutes today. The possibilities are endless and with only one day off a week I could choose to go in many directions. Having posted not much substantial recently I think that I will choose to sit here and compile a posting of all the misc. tid - bits that have been happening for the last few weeks.

Suffering from just a slight hangover this AM after having wine and snacks at a friends house and playing a fun game called Scene It. An interactive TV game that has a DVD and is all about movies and trivia and pop culture. Have any of you ever played it? We had a blast. They use some great graphics and music. I am considering getting it as a family game for us for Christmas, although I am not sure that Max is old enough for many of the movies. Some were old black & whites that were WAAAAAAAY before my time. Fun none the less.

All through my life my best friend, from high school, parents have been like a second family to me. They were there when I graduated from college, they treated Max like their own grandchild. I found out this week that Betty had broken her hip and was recovering in a nursing home. The reason that Don, her hubby, has not had time to contact me until now is due to the fact that their daughter, who is only 2 years older than me, is close to dying from cancer. She has moved back in with them and can no longer drive. It is all her major organs and finally entered her brain. I feel so badly for them. This is the second child that they have had who had to move back in with them due to a terminal illness. My friend passed away in 1995 and now their daughter. It must be so hard. She will leave behind 2 adult children, of her own, and 3 grandchildren.

EMS work has been kicking my butt these past weeks as well! We have been busy on all of my shifts and I am feeling it. We have had to transport everyone. The cot weighs 70 pounds and then you add a person, a tank of oxygen and a heart monitor and then try and lift that thing several times in the course of about 6 hours!! Whew!! Into and out of the back of the squad. In and out of a residence, school or workplace. I have been whipped every week. This week the paramedics were laughing because one of our first patients had blue hair and several facial piercings and they let me handle it because they thought he was right up my alley and we looked really cool together with all of our multi-colored hair.

Yes, the top of my head is now all blond with the dark red in the middle and the even darker under that. I think I love this color scheme the most and when I ever have a chance to post a photo I will. I think by now you all know how much Mixter and I love to mess with our hair color.

Another thing about EMS that happened this week is that I have decided to wait another year before going to paramedic school. If I went to the next session it would be right in the middle of Max's senior year of high school and I do not want to interfere with that. I would be tired and bitchy all the time as well as never home. I am not going to do that to him. I want his senior year to be as much fun as possible and all about him, so I can wait a year. It is very demanding and you have to log over 300 hours at the various hospitals and that is not even counting the several nights a week that you have to go to class at another hospital. I feel really good about the decision and so I know that it was the right thing to do.



Max called me while I was at EMS, this week, and told me that as soon as I could get home I should. That there was a huge mess from one of the dogs. IT truly was a mess. Seems that Burt, the Beagle, had gotten sick and blown up like a pinata throughout the entire downstairs of the house!! Out both ends. It took hours to clean up. Poor Max could hardly keep from throwing up. It was a chilly day and we had to open all the windows and turn on fans. I had to throw away 2 rugs and a couch pillow. It was all over the couch, throughout on floors and stairs. Thank god he did not make it upstairs!! Today I am going to use some of that extra hour to go out and buy some new rugs. I waited a day before feeding him again and kept an eye on him and even after a day just started off with a half cup of his dry food. All seems to be back to normal now.

Looks like I am going to begin my new position and training responsibilities at the coffee mega giant in 2 weeks. Not too much more that I do not except with the addition of money counting and actually working 8 hour shifts. At least it will guarantee my hours for insurance purposes. The raise will be helpful too.

Looks like John will be leaving the fair city of Chowchilla, Calif. tomorrow and coming home. A city whose claim to fame is a woman's prison just outside of town. We don't know how long he'll be here before he heads off to Australia. He was there last year about this time. Just in time for the beginning of their summer and our fall/winter. Lucky him, although he will be busy, but the people down there always treat him so well.

So, I think that I have just used up a good portion of that extra hour. Now I will get in to my usual Sunday routine of hitting the coffee shop to read and write, grocery store and laundry. How about you? What are your plans for your extra hour? Use it the best that you can and have a great week!!

Grammar Time




You Scored an A



You got 10/10 questions correct.



It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.

If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.

As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.

And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.



Friday, November 02, 2007

Identity Time

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a MoveOn.org liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand.


Thank You Mixter for the quiz!! This could not have been more right on!! Although, for number 4 there was more than one choice I would have loved to make.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The KIte Runner

I just finished reading this great little book and if you want to read it, before the movie comes out, you should jump on it. It is a quick read and I think I had it done in a week. Not very familiar with the people and country of Afghanistan it painted a great picture for me. For those of you that may not be familiar with this title, it is 2 years old and has been on the N.Y. Times Best Seller list for 2 years. I had not heard of it until we began to sell it and the coffee mega giant. My friend who is in an actual "book club" told me that she read it when it first came out and that it was very good. So, I bought it and gave it a whirl.

I often wondered, as I read, how much of his own life in Afghanistan the author injected into his characters. They were very lush and full. There have been stories in the news that the release of the film is being held until the movie company can get the child actors and their families out of Afghanistan for safety reasons. There is a scene that occurs in both the book and film that may be unacceptable and disturbing to their countrymen due to religious reasons and so they fear for their safety. It is portrayed carefully in the film, but by their standards not acceptable, so until all is settled the film will not be released. I will go and see it because when I finished the book I actually said to myself that it would make a good movie.

The story is about two young boys, from different social levels who are like brothers. Their relationship to each other, with their own fathers and the country they call home. You will become riveted as you follow these characters into their adult lives, I know I did, and once the last page comes you will want to know more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Teenagers & Life


In December the United Nations took up a resolution calling for the abolition of life in prison without the possibility of parole for children and young teenagers. The vote was 185 to 1, with the United States the lone dissenter.

This article was featured in yesterdays New York Times and I found it quite thought provoking. Let me start off by saying, as someone who has taught "at risk" teens I know that there are those who can be worked with and turned around. Now, none of my kids had ever committed a heinous crime, so I can not speak to that sort of mental state, but I think if you catch them young enough that maybe they can be helped as opposed to sitting in prison for the rest of their life from the age of 13. Children can learn and are malleable.

According to the article there are currently 73 children serving sentences right now for crimes committed as children.

On October 17th, which is today, a group called Equal Justice Initiative plans to issue a report about adolescents that are currently serving these sentences. They say that states should be required to review the sentences of juvenile offenders as the decades pass looking for cases where parole might be warranted.

Prosecutors and victims' rights groups say that they are opposed to such an idea and option. They believe that the people are so dangerous that only life sentences without the possibility of release are the only fit and moral response. Corrections professionals and criminologists here and abroad tend to agree that violent crime is usually a young persons activity, suggesting that eventual parole could be considered in most cases. But the American legal system is more responsive to popular concerns about crime and attitudes about punishment, while justice systems abroad tend to be administered by career civil servants rather than elected legislators, prosecutors and judges.

According to a 2005 report from Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 59 percent of the more than 2,200 prisoners serving life without parole for crimes they committed when they were 17 or younger had never been convicted of a previous crime. And 26 percent were in for felony murder, meaning that they participated in a crime that led to a murder but did not kill anyone themselves.

Bryan Stevenson, the executive director for Equal Justice Initiative said, " Thirteen and fourteen year old children should not be condemned to death in prison because there is always hope for a child." I tend to agree.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Changes

Tuesday morning as I was getting ready for work I was listening to a local talk radio station. The topic of their AM contest was based upon an article in a recent issue of GQ Magazine. The article was about " 27 Things That Have Changed Your Life." They mentioned things like the TV remote, microwave ovens and many female models. I began thinking that it would make a good blog entry.I think that I might look at some things other than material items as well. I started to think about my list, but I am not even sure that I can come up with 27 things, but I am going to give it a whirl and I am going to throw it out there for the rest of you to see what might be on your list!

These are only numbered for my ability to get track and has nothing to do with level of importance.

1. Moving away from home after high school graduation. Going to Texas to go to college made me a stronger and more independent person.

2. Getting a dog. Never having dogs growing up made me realize what an asset a dog can be. They are really there for you.

3. Graduating from college. I ended up in careers that were far different from my teenage ambitions, but they were the ones that I had natural abilities to do and I was really good at them.

4. Having a child. Up until then I was quite the party gal and was probably headed in a bad direction. It caused me to slow down and become concerned with someone other than myself.

5. Journaling & Blogging. By writing on a regular, if not daily basis, I am able to look more closely at things and pay more attention to myself and the changes in my life. It is an outlet like I have never had and gives me the quiet reflective time that I cherish.

6. Meeting John. Had I not needed someone with a truck to help me move it probably would never have come to pass. Prior to that I had been involved in a bad relationship and did not trust people. He rebuilt that part of my life. I trust him like I never have anyone else for many years.

7. TiVo. It is frickin' awesome!! When I watch my shows I never have to watch commercials! The best thing since sliced bread. I also can tape the stuff I want and watch it when I want.

8. Starbucks. When they first opened here they brought a quality coffee in to this town and now they pay me to be there and offer me quality health benefits. I have also made some new female friends there that I really like. It has been a great opportunity. Not to mention the free pound of coffee a week!

9. Boy Scouts. I learned that I have a true love of camping and backpacking that I never knew or had as a child. I was able to go to New Mexico and trek, I have been able to go all over Ohio and spend many nights in a tent under the stars, not to mention in to Virginia as well. I learned how to pack a pack, how to "leave no trace" camp. First Aid on the trail.

10. EMS. This one is obvious, the knowledge that I am learning has not only changed my life, but can be used to change that of others. I can be an asset in my own home or other job, even on the road. Kids at work come to me all the time with their cuts, scrapes and bruises.

11. Becoming a Parent. In my early 20's I never wanted kids. It was a surprise to everyone when I got pregnant. It made me a less self-centered person. More caring. A very good change. I think I was too self absorbed.

12. Becoming computer savvy. I never had any desire to mess with computer stuff, but when I worked for the police dept. they put one on my desk and expected me to learn how to do stuff. Now.... I can not imagine living without one. I use it to get all my news and information as well as keeping in touch with people near and far, like Wisconsin!!

This is just the simple stuff that I could think of right now. In no way does it dismiss any of the millions of other things and people that have entered and / or changed or contributed to the many parts of my life and made me in to the person that I am today.

How about you?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

That Pesky Mormon Background






















Newsweek has a very good article about Mitt Romney and his Mormon Background. It speaks very well about how his handlers are adept at skirting all the tough issues concerning things that the church does and believes. How they have him using vernacular that is not typical to the average Mormon, to make his religion seem more main stream to average folks. As a "recovering Mormon" I can tell you that if it bothers you to have people letting God lead this country, then Mitt Romney is most definitely not the guy anyone wants for president.

He has used phrases like "judeo-Christian" when asked to describe his religious beliefs, but he uses it as a generic term because people would flinch, the average Sunday church goer, if they actually knew how the Mormon style services were run. The bible may be there, but almost ALL of their scripture and speech material comes from their Book of Mormon. They like to say that they believe the bible, but that it has not been translated correctly. Heck, when I was there, about 6-7 years, I hardly remember a time when a bible was used and when it was they took such small and distinct phrases from it just to prove one of their points.

Once you learn anything about the Masons you find out how much of their symbolism the originators of the Mormon church adopted for their temple religious signs and symbols. That they wear clothing and make movements quite like the Masons do. Their leader Joseph Smith was a Mason as were many men back in that time period.

The typical Mormon prays about EVERYTHING and every decision they make and they believe that the answers they get come directly from God. In their churches they promote by prayer. So, I for one do not think that I want a president that would make decisions based upon this reasoning. He might take in all the advise from his staff, but ultimately he is going to pray about it and go with the Lord. They are HUGE believers and practice this religiously. No pun intended!

I do not mind if my leaders have a passing mention of some kind of religious affiliation, but it is when it is THE integral part of their life, the guiding force , that it makes me very wary.

It is good to have a moral basis in your life, to know good from bad and all that, but I am just uncomfortable when someone with such background as Mr. Romney's wants to lead this country. He has had many positions of power within the church and people expect him to keep it up at home as well. He could never back off from his Mormon roots as the higher up leaders would not allow it and would have a talk with him about this. I know first hand as I toiled for years in positions that they gave me and as they piled on more and more they expected more from me and my behavior was always watched.

He may very well be a good person and a nice man....just not one that I would like as president of a country with such diverse religious views and his being the one that is most questionable as to origin and beginning.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tragedy Really Averted?





















This woman is still alive after being trapped in her car for 8 days, but the really tragic part of this story is that she has no health insurance. Like millions of the rest of the population of the U.S., myself included, she had to take a job to acquire the health insurance that they offer. Not only does her family have to worry about her long recovery, but they also have to worry about how these bills will get paid. The same scenario that continues to get played over and over in this country. Many are just one tragedy away from financial ruin. Myself, I get tired of having to work 6 days a week just to keep my health benefits. When will all of our leaders finally wise up and do something that will benefit us all?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday, Chilly Sunday

It sure felt like fall this weekend. The sky was full of fluffy, fat clouds and the air was cool and crisp. For the first time, in many months, I had on jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt. Even had on shoes!! Well, it is September and fall is just lurking around the corner. Against my warnings the teenage son wore flip-flops to a football game on Friday night and came home with very cold toes.

The hubby was home for a very brief visit this weekend and is leaving Monday for a several week jaunt to Chicago. I have family there and am giving some thought to maybe driving up there at some point for a long weekend. Although it has been brief we did have a busy weekend, not much substantial was accomplished, but sometimes you just have to have an all fun-filled time and leave the pressing stuff for a later time. That is exactly what we did.

Friday he flew in and after a few hours at the office he came home and we spent a few hours munching and gabbing at a BW 3's. He has been on a wing kick for many months and has been on a search for the best hot sauce that still has flavor. I am very picky about wings and do not often eat them out. As a matter of fact I am going to be making some during today's football game for our at home enjoyment. I found a wing sauce made by Budweiser and plan to try it out.

Saturday morning I had to sell some coffee and pastries, so he got to hang out at the house with the kid and the dogs all the while with his lap top and piles of receipts spread all about the downstairs while he tried to get his expense reports caught up. I, as usual, came home with a list of evening activities to occupy our Saturday night.

Our younger neighbors were having a party to celebrate his 22nd birthday and invited us over for food, cookout, and beverages. I took a bottle of red wine, sense it was fall like weather, and we went over. Nice kids and had some really colorful friends. We were probably closer in age to his parents, but as usual I am always more funky then most women closer to my age. They had veggies and dips and we made acceptable small talk for a couple of hours and then headed out to another party near our neighborhood.

The guy who does my hair is now in a really cool shop just 2 blocks from our house, so we were able to walk, and not worry about drinking and driving. He had invited us to a party at the shop. It is a really, cool and punk shop called "Skullz". Everyone that works there has hair colored like the rainbow and piercings that are too numerous to count, not to mention an array of tattoos.

We walked down to the shop having been told that nothing was required. What a cool party!! There was tons of food and an equally full bar. A finger food bonanza. Several varieties of hot and spicy Mexican dips and meatballs. Fruit pizza, which I love when someone else goes to all the trouble to get all the fruit and peel and slice, especially kiwi and fresh raspberries. Veggies and cheese trays....just a ton of food. There was a drag queen getting make-up done to head off to a drag show and another young guy getting his bushy, caterpillar eyebrows waxed and shaped for the first time. There was un-top 40 music and little kids cavorting around on those wheelie shoes. We called the son to come down and partake of all the finger goodies too! Not being a beer drinker I opted for the vodka and orange juice. Well, after we had eaten and had our limit of alcohol we walked home and slept in late on Sunday.

Which brings me to today. What a glorious end to the weekend! We both threw on some casual stuff and headed off to one of our local eateries. This place has been a staple here for 20 years and has a huge menu with food potions enough to feed an army. It is always hopping on Sunday mornings, especially with folks that are needing breakfast and still wearing last nights faces. That would be me. With eyeshadow still smeared on from Sat. night and plaid pj pants, college sweatshirt and black Chuck Taylors I looked like someone nursing a hangover, but lucky for me I was not. At this point in life I think I know how to avoid that misery!

We both had huge plates of food that included eggs in different styles. Then we headed home for an hour or so nap. Decadence! I then got up and headed out for some vanilla white mocha's and a New York Times. I sat on our porch in the cool afternoon, while hubby was indoors with the game on, and enjoyed my way through the movie reviews, magazine section and political articles. Lingered on the fashion pages and op-ed sections. Ate a few yogurt covered pretzels with my mocha, threw a few balls for the Golden Retriever and finally dragged myself in to get the laundry going so the hubby can pack later and get ready to leave again.

A weekend to treasure. Nothing important accomplished....ahhhhhh, wonderful nothing, sweet nothing.