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?

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?

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

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

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas 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,


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 --

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

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.