Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grains Of Sand


There were so many different grains of sand that fell this year. Each one very precious. Each one with significant purpose and meaning. I learned so much, this year, more than I have in a very long time. Listening affords one the opportunity to hear and then change, if one is open to that.

This was the year that seemed to ride on shifting sands all the way through... everything I thought would go one way, went another, so many plans were changed or let go of, and things I didn't expect presented themselves from seemingly nowhere.

Fine grains~
     There was forgiveness between people I love, and I forgave, and I was graciously forgiven.  It emphasized compassion, understanding, patience, devotion and love, and it strengthened bonds.
     There was discovery and adventure in small and huge ways, in new places and in old, hand in hand with friends, which only serves to enrich those kind of experiences even more.  These excursions included the procurement of a red satin fringed flapper dress, Tony Bennett, King Tut, incredible moments in Muir Woods, tigers & leopards, ocean waves, orca whales, beautiful cities, a champagne birthday on a beach before an ocean sunset, a random cow, tangible history in Westminster Abbey, new friends in London, old and new hidden treasured places along the Thames, midnight under Big Ben, a movie set & some incredible actors, dolphins in SF Bay (?!), the best breakfast cafe in SF, the best sushi in the world in V.BC, a girl and her horse make beautiful subjects before a lens, mountain lakes don't last for eternity, there are faerie glens in woods & secret mountain places, I went halfway up the Eiffel Tower... again, the umbrella salesman has a stand at the end of the rainy road, I already met the only accordion player who knows La Vie En Rose and he's not in Vegas, art comes in every form and when it's water, it's beautiful, there's no rush or thrill like standing on a stage in a theatre singing your heart out to strangers, and it is equally thrilling to see dear friends do the same.
    
Medium grains-
     Friendships mean different things to different people and when they are lost, it isn't always a bad thing.  In the face of lost friendships, the loyalty and devotion of good friends is truly shown for its priceless worth. 
     When times are very difficult, in loss, in fright, in pain, in anger, in confusion, there isn't anything so good or precious as the warm steady strength of a friends hand or loving arms to make it through the darkness.
     We have control over our environments, most of the time, and we have absolute control over how we choose to react to our environments and our experiences.  I quote Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, “...The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” as he explains how he made it through his unthinkable ordeal.  I repeated lessons in learning to adapt and grow in different environments... learning to make choices that would benefit others as well as myself.
     Humbleness is found in honesty with self and when spoken with love by others, and it is the essential nutrient a soul needs to grow strong and upright. 
     Allowing shame and guilt to dictate behavior and thought is an unnecessary self-inflicted binding that hinders recovery and growth and should be left alone entirely.

Coarse grains- 
     One of the biggest lessons of the year, and one I am still working through, is that love is all encompassing... real love knows no bounds, it is not ruled by organization... by trying to force it into categories and definitive segments... compartmentalized until it is nicely and neatly controlled. It is fluid, powerful, endless, as the oceans I love so much. Learning how to love like that is a work in progress for me.  It is astounding what I've held back from others because I did not understand the way that love is.  I raged against the wall only to discover that I'd built the dam with my own two hands, all by myself.  There's a confounding revelation.
      Another lesson is learning to deal with everything as it comes, instead of pretending it does not exist, as has been my modus operandi for a long while.  This behavior has excluded me from the very world at large... known, unknown, wanted, unwanted, and I've missed more than I could ever express. I have a passion for life that is boundless within certain bounds.  That paradox cuts off so much possibility. I want boundless passion for life... period. I don't want to miss anything. Ever.      
    

I hope that this year has found you well and successful in every way. Healthy, strong, and happy. I hope you've realized dreams and goals, and I hope you have new ones shining in the distance of days to come.

Happy New Year

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nobel Peace Price


Our most sincere and delighted congratulations to
Liu Xiaobo for winning the Nobel Peace Prize this year!

Our most sincere and heartsick sorrow to Liu Xiaobo that the Chinese government has charged him with 'inciting subversion' and imprisoned him for 11 years. This stems from his work to change China's communist ideals.


The price of freedom is high, but there is nothing that those who want it won't sacrifice to get it; history has shown us this time and time again.

The Chinese government has called Xiaobo's Nobel win "an attack on its political and legal system" and a "political farce", as they view the (massive world wide) support of Xiaobo in an extremely negative light. His wife, Liu Xia has been under house arrest since the Nobel committee announced Xiaobo's win.  No one will be allowed to accept his prize for him, unfortunately. 

The Nobel committee will honor this imprisoned hero by representing him with an empty chair at the presentation of the awards.  He may not be there to accept it physically, but his absence will make him more powerfully present than anyone else who is there.  It will speak volumes to the world, and hopefully, to the leaders of China.    

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said,
"The Nobel committee has to admit they are in the minority, the Chinese people and the overwhelming majority of people in the world are against this.  The decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee does not represent the wish of the majority of the people in the world, particularly that of the developing countries... This is not an issue of human rights; it is an issue of interference of internal affairs...  Liu Xiaobo broke Article 105, a crime of instigating the subversion of state power. He went beyond general criticism of the state..."
I believe that she is wrong, and I am not alone in that opinion.
Almost 100 protesters marched on the Chinese Embassy in Oslo with a petition containing more than 100,000 signatures demanding Liu Xiaobo be released from prison, crying "Freedom to Liu! Freedom for China!". 

Leaders from many nations all over the world including President Barack Obama and his wife have called for his release as well, and China's leaders in Beijing have only grown more furious over the requests and demands for Xiaobo's freedom.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry has blocked all media and internet coverage and all information about the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Liu Xiaobo. 

President Obama stated,
"Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law. The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible."

The chair is only empty of a physical body... it is filled beyond measure with faith, with ideals, with dreams, with the support of those who have freedom and of those who believe in it and dream of it every day.

These are the struggles that bring us to freedom in the days to come. Liu Xiaobo, we believe in you, and in what you stand for. Keep the faith. Peace be with you.

Chris Andrews Photography http://www.cja-images.org.uk/index.html

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Rhyme of the Dream-Maker Man


The Rhyme of the Dream-Maker Man

Down near the end of a wandering lane,
That runs 'round the cares of a day,
Where Conscience and Memory meet and explain
Their quaint little quarrels away.

A mist air-castle sits back in the dusk
where brownies and hobgoblins dwell
And this is the home
Of a busy old gnome
who is making up dream-things to sell,
My dear,
The daintiest dreams to sell.

He makes golden dreams of wicked men's sighs.
He weaves on the thread of a hope
The airiest fancies of pretty brown eyes,
And patterns his work with a trope.

The breath of a rose and the blush of a wish
Boiled down to the ghost of a bliss,
He wraps in a smile
Every once in a while
And calls it the dream of a kiss,
Dear heart,
The dream of an unborn kiss.

Last night when I walked thro` the portals of sleep
And came to the weird little den,
I looked in the place where the elf-man should keep
A dream that I buy now and then.

`Tis only the sweet happy dream of a day-
Yet one that I wish may come true-
But I learned from the elf
That you'd been there yourself
And he'd given my dear dream to you,
Sweetheart,
He'd given our dream to you.

~William Allen White

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Passport Stamps

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

~Aristotle

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Unemployed Philosophers Guild

Viaggiatore and I wandered across a delightful new site and must share it with you; it's that good. I don't like to think of any philosopher being unemployed, but this group has made the most of it, that's certain!

Welcome to The Unemployed Philosophers Guild!

This is where you will find such fantastical fancies as:


Atonemints... for each of your sins - You could ask forgiveness with fresh breath, which won't hurt...  



Relativity of Time Watch  -  The numbers on this watch actually rotate with each passing second, making 3:00 into 9:00 in 30 seconds.


Alice's Enchantmints - Fresh breath for the Curiouser and Curiouser! 
 



Inspired by Leonardo's notebooks, this watch tells time backwards. The numbers are backwards. Everything is backwards. Look at in a mirror and it looks like a normal (but beautiful) watch.


Mug Shots - 6 arresting shotglasses! Includes Al Capone, John Dillinger, Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, Machine Gun Kelly, and Pretty Boy Floyd.

"Super Strong Manly peppermints. Let the world see and smell you for who you are."

One of their best products, in my humble opinion: 
Freudian Slippers! 
"Now you can really put your foot in it! Walk in the masters footsteps with our Freudian Slippers!"


There are so many clever, fun things to enjoy at this site.  I do love the mugs; most of them have disappearing and reappearing features when a hot beverage is poured into them, some of the best are:

The Cheshire Cat mug... the cat appears and disappears
The Global Warming mug... the continents disappear
The Civil Liberties mug... the civil rights disappear
Dr. Who's disappearing Tardis mug
The Freudian Sips mug
The Dorothy Parker martini glass "...'I like to have a Martini, two at the very most; three, I'm under the table, four I'm under my host!' So quipped Dorothy Parker."

I bought the Shakespearean Love mug, of course, as I am a hopeless romantic and I adore Shakespeare.
If love isn't your thing, there's a Shakespearean Insults mug which is very fun!

The best thing on my SLove mug is a little notation printed on the bottom that states, "For best results, use other side." Such clever mirth!

There are T-shirts, notepads, a large variety of mints, time pieces, finger puppets, energy bars, pill boxes... and so many other fun things for the keen thinker who has everything.

If you like politics, art, history, impressionism, science, philosophers, music, religion, literature or the renaissance, you will find yourself laughing at so much of what these Unemployed Philosophers offer.

Have a fabulous time visiting them.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

That's The Buzz

There are companies who manufacture caffeinated water.  I used to buy a couple called H20 Zip and Aquajava.  It seemed a sort of oxymoron incarnate to me, because caffeine dehydrates a body.

I was just wondering... what would happen if someone made coffee with caffeinated water...

Letting Go


The bad news: letting go can be a difficult thing to do.


The good news: once we let go, it leaves our hands wide open to accept new things.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Love Embattled


"It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same..."

"...He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."

"He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine..."

"He'll never let his friends be at ease, and he'll never be at ease himself!"

- Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights



Is there nothing as tragic and beautiful as deeply passionate love that exists but cannot be given a breath of life? I find myself wandering through the mists of Wuthering Heights from time to time; aching for the dark, brooding, melancholy Heathcliff and the only light in his life, his strong and determined Cathy.  


It is nearly unbearable to love someone so much that you cannot have; as though they were the very air that brings life and without it there is no life worth living. Is there passion like this in life? Is there love that cannot be measured, cannot be lost or changed; even by death? I must believe that there is. I must believe that every level of love leads to a pinnacle as poignant and eternal as this... as deep and strong and timeless as this... for there is no denying what our souls know, and mine knows that this is true.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oh The Irony Of It All

First and foremost: a hearty thank you to those who served their country whether or not they agreed with politics or war.  Happy Veteran's Day.


Second... I had something shipped from a distant library to my library because I need it desperately and immediately.  I got an email from my library this morning saying that it was in and I could come pick it up when I liked.  So, I drove to the library today, was delighted because the parking meters were free (Veteran's Day) and then completely flummoxed that the library was closed (Veteran's Day).  My urgent request will have to wait until tomorrow. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear, Dear Diary

Dear, Dear Diary,

Let's do this today, because we need to do this today.  Let's come up with 5 Things What Are Good, as our Dearest Jon used to do. 

1. Trying BIG new things which necessitate one jumping feet first into the OMIGOSH-I-HAVEN'T-EVER-NEVER-THOUGHT-I-COULD-DIDN'T-THINK-I-EVER-WOULD-BUT-I'M-GONNA-DO-IT-ANYWAY-OMIGOSH pool.  It's deep in here, and I like it.




2. Very grateful for dear friends & family who are always there to support, love, encourage and believe in me. I cannot imagine where I would be without you. 



 

3. Stash White Christmas White Tea.  O.M.G.  This is my new favorite tea of the season. I don't like peppermint, but I LOVE this tea.  YUM.  If you could put a snowy Christmas morning in a mug and drink it, this is what it would taste like.



4. The last truly warm day of fall on a Monday, following a weekend that could have been stolen out of late June... right before the first snow of the fall.




5. Seeing each new day as an opportunity to grow.


Beautiful

Something very beautiful, to make up for the last post.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Momentary Pause For A Trainwreck

Normally I only post quality material on this blog.

I'm going to make an exception today because Halloween just didn't scare me enough and one of my friends directed me to a very scary website; a recommendation which just may have earned him a smack in the back of the head.

As with any trainwreck, it's one of those seriously disturbing things that draws you in and you just can't look away, even when you know you should.

Fair warning & disclaimer given.  Welcome to People of Walmart.com.  Don't eat or drink anything while you are at this site; it will not end well.

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/

It is astounding to me that people like this exist on our planet, and may I just say how grateful I am that so far our paths have not crossed often. Sometimes there are just no words... and yet, somehow, the commentator on this website is witty enough to find a fitting & oftentimes humorous caption for every single photo.

If you click on the photo tab, be sure you scroll down each page... you won't believe what you'll see. 

Here are some of the more TAME demo shots from the site... Don't say we didn't warn you:












A Denial


A Denial

We have met late-it is too late to meet,
   O friend, not more than friend!
Death's forecome shroud is tangled round my feet,
And if I step or stir, I touch the end.
   In this last jeopardy
Can I approach thee, I, who cannot move?
How shall I answer thy request for love?
   Look in my face and see.

I love thee not, I dare not love thee! go
   In silence; drop my hand.
If thou seek roses, seek them where they blow
In garden-alleys, not in desert-sand.
   Can life and death agree,
That thou shouldst stoop thy song to my complaint?
I cannot love thee. If the word is faint,
   Look in my face and see.

I might have loved thee in some former days.
   Oh, then, my spirits had leapt
As now they sink, at hearing thy love-praise!
Before these faded cheeks were overwept,
   Had this been asked of me,
To love thee with my whole strong heart and head,
I should have said still . . . yes, but smiled and said,
   "Look in my face and see!"

But now . . . God sees me, God, who took my heart
   And drowned it in life's surge.
In all your wide warm earth I have no part
A light song overcomes me like a dirge.
   Could Love's great harmony
The saints keep step to when their bonds are loose,
Not weigh me down? Am I a wife to choose?
   Look in my face and see.


While I behold, as plain as one who dreams,
   Some woman of full worth,
Whose voice, as cadenced as a silver stream's,
Shall prove the fountain-soul which sends it forth;
   One younger, more thought-free
And fair and gay, than I, thou must forget,
With brighter eyes than these . . . which are not wet . . .
   Look in my face and see!

So farewell thou, whom I have known too late
   To let thee come so near.
Be counted happy while men call thee great,
And one belov├Ęd woman feels thee dear!
   Not I! That cannot be.
I am lost, I am changed, I must go farther, where
The change shall take me worse, and no one dare
   Look in my face and see.

Meantime I bless thee. By these thoughts of mine
   I bless thee from all such!
I bless thy lamp to oil, thy cup to wine,
Thy hearth to joy, thy hand to an equal touch
   Of loyal troth. For me,
I love thee not, I love thee not! Away!
Here's no more courage in my soul to say
   "Look in my face and see."
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Heart And I

MY HEART AND I

Enough! we're tired, my heart and I.
We sit beside the headstone thus,
And wish that name were carved for us.
The moss reprints more tenderly
The hard types of the mason's knife,
As Heaven's sweet life renews earth's life
With which we're tired, my heart and I.


You see we're tired, my heart and I.
We dealt with books, we trusted men,
And in our own blood drenched the pen,
As if such colors could not fly.
We walked too straight for fortune's end,
We loved too true to keep a friend;
At last we're tired, my heart and I.

How tired we feel, my heart and I
We seem of no use in the world;
Our fancies hang gray and uncurled
About men's eyes indifferently;
Our voice which thrilled you so, will let
You sleep; our tears are only wet:
What do we here, my heart and I?

So tired, so tired, my heart and I!
It was not thus in that old time
When Ralph sat with me 'neath the lime
To watch the sunset from the sky.
"Dear love, you're looking tired," he said:
I, smiling at him, shook my head.
'Tis now we're tired, my heart and I.

So tired, so tired, my heart and I!
Though now none takes me on his arm
To fold me close and kiss me warm
Till each quick breath end in a sigh
Of happy languor.  Now, alone,
We lean upon this graveyard stone,
Uncheered, unkissed, my heart and I.

Tired out we are, my heart and I.
Suppose the world brought diadems
To tempt us, crusted with loose gems
Of powers and pleasures?  Let it try.
We scarcely care to look at even
A pretty child, or God's blue heaven,
We feel so tired, my heart and I.

Yet who complains?  My heart and I?
In this abundant earth no doubt
Is little room for things worn out:
Disdain them, break them, throw them by!
And if before the days grew rough
We once were loved, used, - well enough,
I think, we've fared, my heart and I.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browing

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Incognito

incognito \in-kahg-NEE-toh\ adverb or adjective

: with one's identity concealed






Example: "[Mary, Queen of Scots] loved St. Andrews, where she kept a small vacation cottage and often stayed incognito, doing her own shopping and cooking, and playing golf along the links by the Firth of Forth." -- From an article by Sally Jenkins in The Washington Post, July 15, 2010
This blog has oftentimes been my mask. My voice aloud, my identity incognito (for the most part)... and I find that Oscar Wilde was perhaps partially correct when he said,
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."

...but I do not think that this idea is entirely true.  In the midst of the current political blizzard of lies, slanders and shallow promises, it is hard to see truth and the public masks that are worn aren't unlike those creepy clown masks with the empty eyes and painted smiles. 

There are those rare and wonderful leaders who believe in honesty, revel in it, in fact... Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Sister Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, and so on and so forth. No mask did they wear, to speak the truth.  

I've found that I have different masques... different persona's for different circumstances and situations. 

A masque for work







  

   A masque for play







A masque for family




A masque for friends





















A masque for various circumstances

I've wondered, when I gaze into the looking glass... if I wear a masque for myself too often.  I wonder how much truth comes from behind these masques... if they are half truths, partially disguised for the viewer, partially revealed, because honestly, we really want people to know who we truly are, to some extent... or at least, we show them who we want them to believe we are.

Knowing that we constantly change; daily even, I am growing towards leaving the masques behind, so that I can see clearly, so that others can see me clearly and make no mistake about who I really am and what I really think.

To thine own self be true ~ remove the masques for my own perspective and for all of those around me, because if they are interacting with a masqued me, the self is lost in shadow and the interaction is skewed.

and...

Actions speak so much louder than words ~ the truth will out, one way or another.



and...

Truth is somewhere in the middle ~ there is a bit of honesty on both sides of the masque.





But... perhaps I will keep one or two masques around... for special occasions.