Monday, December 31, 2007
So just now I decided to look up the definition of Homey G Slice. Well I couldn't find anything googling it so I tried Home Slice. Here's what I found on Urban Dictionary:
synonomous to "homie".
def 1: means good friend or buddy
def 2: means someone who seems like a little slice of home, thus home slice
So that made me feel pretty good, though Sam cracked up at the "little slice of home"
But wait, keep scrolling down... Then I read:
def 5. Someone who is an over the top dork. Someone who is trying way too hard to be cool and fails miserably. Look at that guy in the polyester leisure suit trying to pick up on that super model. What a home slice.
And keep going...
def. 6 a cool street name like poop dawg, pee diddle, or gary
Anyway it got a good laugh out of us all so I thought I'd share it :) They've also changed grandma's name from G-ma (her hiphop name) to Gamoski and Grandpa to Gaposki. Oh, did I say that my ex calls me Doonberry?
And while I was at urban dictionary I browsed some words-o-the-day and got a kick out of these:
The bits of food matter that fly onto your mirror while flossing your teeth.
I need to wash those flojectiles off my bathroom mirror before the Health Department shuts me down
The condition shared by all males wherein a common illness (usually a mild cold) is presented by the patient as life-threatening.This is also known as 'Fishing for Sympathy' or 'Chronic Exaggeration'.When the patient is your boyfriend, he will exhibit the standard symptoms (such as an overwhelming desire for compassion) while simultaneously rejecting any and all efforts you make to placate him.
You: Awww, you poor fella.
Him: I'm DYING!
You: (Soothingly) Oh, you're not dying Cy.
Him: (Indignant) I AM! I have Man Flu!Y
ou: Do you need some sympathy?
Him: Yes! But no one understands my pain...
You: I understa-
Him: NO YOU DO NOT!!!
\purge the cabin\
Rolling the windows down on a vehicle for some fresh air, usually after one of the passengers has passed gas.
Damn was that foul! Purge the cabin before we sufficate back here!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Sam & I goofing around in the Disney Store. I love Émile! He was sooo soft and fluffy! I said he was my new boyfriend :)
Me and my new boyfriend, Émile (from the movie Ratatouille)
I have started reading Scott Peck's book The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, which I've been wanting to read for some time. Peck is a genius. He is in my opinion the greatest writer that ever lived. He just GETS IT in terms of so many things - religion and science, Christianity and other religions, how society works, how the human spirit matures, psychology, and on and on. Everything I read of his I underline or highlight every other sentence. In this book, I just read the Prologue, Introduction and the start of Chapter 1, but already I want to stand up and applaud. It came out in 1987 but it's still so relevant today. (Sometimes I think I want to start just talking about and promoting what he spoke and wrote about, because everything I read I'm like ,"What he said!" I refer to him so often in my own writing. If Huxley was Darwin's bulldog, I want to be Peck's bulldog!)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Grandpa Skip working with Sam on the gingerbread house. Note the "evil" crazy Sam in the background. Watch out, he's wielding a spatula!
The final product! I made a crystallized ginger chimney, and Sam made a window from cranberries and poppy seeds. Carob chips on the bottom and a candy cane! We made it all natural. Well I guess the candy canes are not natural...
The cutie pies with their presents on Christmas morning!
This is fuzzy but it illustrates my point above perfectly... she sat here for I think an hour!!!
Monday, December 24, 2007
The folks and the kids and I went to church service and that was lovely. Then we had lasagna and the kids opened a present each. Tomorrow we'll open everything. When I was a kid, we used to open presents on Christmas Eve because my uncle's bday was Christmas Day, but we'd open all our stocking presents on Christmas morning. They were all wrapped up and I loved opening the wrapping paper on each tiny little gift tucked in my stocking (except the one Christmas my mom actually gave me a lump of coal - and that was it). I used to do this micro-wrapping for the kids, but to be honest, I can't be bothered anymore! I don't have the time or the patience... I wrap the big ones under the tree and tonight I plan to just stuff everything into the stocking unwrapped.
I never told the kids about Santa Clause. I mean they knew the story but I never deceived them into thinking a big man in a red suit was coming down the chimney and giving us a bunch of presents. I feel that kids should be taught truth...
I'm ok with whatever everyone else's decisions are for that issue, but my mom likes to tell me (every Christmas) how my kids missed out on so much because I didn't tell them about Santa Clause. What they didn't miss out on was the awful disappointment kids get when they learn that it's all a lie, and Santa isn't "real"!! I want my kids to believe in God - an invisible omniscient and omnipresent being of light and goodness and love and truth. That is hard enough. Why teach them then about something that you know isn't real, and then reveal it's all been a big myth after all? What then will they think about God?
So of course my mom doesn't get all this... but I really don't appreciate her telling me every year that I've deprived my kids of something... I said mom you're basically telling me I'm a bad parent. She said "No I'm not, that's not what I'm saying." There was something else... I can't remember but it ended with me saying, "Denial is not a river in Egypt!" (I love that saying but it took me many years to GET what it meant because I didn't get the connection between Denial and The Nile - I'm a little slow, what can I say) ;)
So far this actually means we're getting along well this holiday. I'm serious! This is a big improvement from the Christmas everyone in the house got in a huge fight, my aunt slapped me (or hit me? I can't remember), I took a swing back but got intercepted by my uncle, everyone cried, people left the house, and in the end everything was my fault... Needless to say, I've always been the family scapegoat.
I better go be Santa. I'm putting on my Santa hat now...
I spent today cooking and cleaning with the kids and then watching a bit of The Fellowship of The Ring extended version, also with the kiddos. My mom and stepdad arrive tomorrow; the holiday begins! Today Sam & I cooked a gingerbread house and we'll decorate it tomorrow. I've never made one from scratch before so it was pretty cool to do so. Savannah made a banana cream pie recipe that is awesome, mostly by herself; she wanted to say she did it all by herself. I prepared the lasagna we'll have tomorrow night (Christmas Eve) but we'll have our big dinner on Christmas Day. Wow, I really can't believe it is Christmas. This quarter of the year went so fast. I guess it's because I left for Nepal before Halloween, came back just in time for Thanksgiving but was super jet-lagged for 2 weeks, and then it was Christmas time. So time goes.
With the coming of the new year, and the passing of life so suddenly, the time comes again to reflect on goals and changes and such. I think often about living life fully, and I hug my kids daily, and tell my friends and family I love them. I've rid myself of toxic and negative influences and friends, while trying to be a good influence myself. I always try to be aware of, and improve or change any negative qualities in myself. Yet especially the suddenness of Jim's death has really made me think even more about this - what changes do I need or want to make in my life to make this the life of my dreams?
Some things to think about as I roll on towards the New Year.
Friday, December 21, 2007
- Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking.
I've been privileged to get to know an incredible woman a little bit better over the past year since our church's New Orleans mission trip. This Monday, her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly. They have 6 beautiful children. Her blog "Have you seen my mind? I've lost it again" is hilarious and candid. She just returned from a mission trip to Kenya, and had mentioned the possibility of going again next year and whether I wanted to go. Heck ya, I wanted to go.
I don't want to say too much more, but I feel deeply saddened by her loss. This family had shown me kindness and welcome, and I was touched by the love they still share after 24 years of marriage and 6 kids. It's something to aspire to. They were both devoted Christians, and it showed in their lives and their genuineness. The funeral is tomorrow morning. It's a sad time.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I mention the Word Wenches blog because in the post I stumbled on (where they mention the Aeron, which is why it came up in Google) the writer/blogger said something that made total sense to me. She said as a writer she is a hare, not a tortoise. She doesn't do a little bit of writing every day, slow and steady like a tortoise. Rather, she cranks out a whole bunch in a very short time. I thought, wow, that is so me! I sometimes get mad at myself for doing random stuff (wasting time?) like blogging, Facebook, CNN.com, emailing, and feeling this sense of literal dread when confronted with the idea of actually starting an article (seriously - I hate starting articles - it's painful). Reading the tortoise vs hare comparison, I realized that being a hare is just my writing style and working style. I am able to crank out good copy in a short time, and never miss a deadline. I've learned this technique works for me. I consider those online sites like Facebook (well some of them) creative outlets. Or sort of random mental stimulation. But I think I need to find a little more balance though and use a combination of tortoise and hare techniques to become even more productive while still enjoying my creative online endeavors.
Another random interesting thing is that the White House has a set of ornaments painted with themes of each individual National Park, Preserve and Historic Site. There are 350 ornaments painte dby artists across the nation and you can browse images here. I thought they were pretty cool. This one has pitcher plants on it, and represents the Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, just a couple hours east of where I live. Some of them are much more beautiful than this one but this is relevant to an article I'm working on right now! Actually the White House has a theme of Holiday in the National Parks for the White House Christmas tree.
I’ve also heard that they’re “greening” the White House in a few ways. It’s like Bush is trying to bring attention to environmental issues late in the game to soften up the negative image of the Republican party’s environmental record right before the election.
Here is what they wrote:
“This Christmas season we give thanks for our nation’s abundant blessings. In the spirit of gratitude for our natural and historic treasures found from sea to shining sea, this year’s theme highlights America’s national parks. From breathtaking landscapes to important historical sites, generations have marveled at God’s magnificent creation and cherished memories of visits to these special places.”
– George W. Bush | Laura Bush
I mean really? Come on. BARF. Bush may appreciate beauty in nature (who doesn't?) but his environmental record shows that he's selling out on our national parks, infiltrating them with private vendors, cutting critical funding, opening ways for oil drilling and new roads... the list goes on. In fact NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has a nice list of Bush's environmental record with national parks online.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I've struggled a bit lately with wondering why amidst all the positive feedback I receive from friends, my kids and their friends, random blog visitors, and family, I still fret over the very few times I get people who say things like "what an idiot" or who disappear and leave me questioning what I did wrong. Was it something I said? Some stupid thing that was mis-interpreted? Was I actually an idiot? (quite possible!) ;) But is that unforgivable? I guess I live in a world where I imagine that friends are friends for life, and that pretty much all offenses (especially minor annoyances) are forgivable and work-through-able. But I have found that is not a common way. I'm grateful that I have been able to find so many wonderful friends who do believe like I do, and who I would do anything for. But I always feel weakened by rejection, which I'm sure relates to the abandonment issues of my childhood. I need to truly integrate into my heart that my worth comes from God's love for me and not from the approval of anyone... yet at the same time it's reassuring to know that I have made a difference in the lives of my friends and that there are people who respect and admire what I do. It lifts me up and brightens my life.
I decided to make a "wall of love" for my office where I'll have photos of my friends and printed out statements that they've written to me over the years. Here are just a few from the last couple weeks:
- You are a treasure in my life!
- You are just the coolest friend! excuse me now I have to go cry tears of appreciation.....
- You are such a vibrant, glowing soul, smart, creative, a good friend to your friends, hugely curious about the wide world—and so incredibly talented!
- Sending you a big hug girlfriend along with a pint of yer fav ice cream (or soy ice cream?) I feel your pain Wendee, I really do. It's a painful rollercoaster, this believing in ourselves and putting ourselves out there.
- You are incredible, and rejection and abandonment issues should not be on your radar.
- Wendee, you are such a blessing to me. I hope you're taking some time for yourself and also not being too hard on yourself, in terms of loneliness, stress, anything. You're awesome -- great writer, neat person, cool woman, good friend, beautiful soul. I'm totally grateful for you.
I choose to believe these words as manna from heaven, gifts from God through my friends. I choose to believe the good and not the negative voices and the rejection, though I do try to learn lessons and always ask what I could do differently or to have a different outcome. I am going to watch a movie with the kiddos now. Love and light and laughter to all!
Horseplaying tonight before we headed out for ice skating.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The way the beach is kissed by the sea
Only love can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers laying in the fields
Love can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky
Only love can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high
- Love Reign O'er Me by The Who, Quadrophenia
My dad recently shared these lyrics and though I've heard the song a hundred times in my youth, it's been some time now. What beautiful lyrics. And they go on...
I recently watched the movie Gandhi which was released when I was in middle school (1982) and I never watched it, but always wanted to. What a powerful story Gandhi has, and what a great movie. I am particularly taken by his stance on non-violent resistance. Could another person like Gandhi arise today, amidst all the bloodshed and hatred? I'm not sure. Looking at the way Jesus died rather than fight, I'm inclined to wonder if absolute non-violence is actually the Christian calling, which humanity has fallen far short of. I don't have any answers, only questions. And more than a little bit of sadness at the state of the world. It's easy for me to sit here and say "Where does all this anger and hatred come from?" but I'm not living in extreme poverty with my children, friends, parents, relatives murdered before me as some in warring nations have over their lifetimes. I only know that anger and hatred and revenge can never be the solutions.
Some of the things Gandhi said in the movie, which may not be exact quotes from his life, which moved me include:
"The only devils are those in our own hearts, and that's where the battles should be fought."
"I am willing to die for this cause, but there is no cause for which I am willing to kill."
"Through our pain that we suffer, we will let them see their injustice."
"Truth is God, and God is truth."
"Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable."
I've been feeling a bit discombobulated lately. It's a big transition time for me and some decisions that are out of my hands are causing me to postpone other decisions that will depend on that outcome. It's crazy making time... it's not always easy to let go and let God.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
i love penguins !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On another note, I'm finishing reading Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son, which is a stunningly beautiful, powerful and amazing book that recounts his encounter with the Rembrandt painting and how he relates the stages of his life to the characters in it, which are the characters from the Biblical parable of the same name from Luke 15:11-32.
"Here is the God I want to believe in: a Father who, from the beginning of creation, has stretched out his arms in merciful blessing, never forcing himself on anyone, but always waiting; never letting his arms drop down in despair, but always hoping that his children will return so he can speak words of love to them and let his tired arms rest on their shoulders. His only desire is to bless.
In Latin, to bless is benedicere, which means literally: saying good things. The Father wants to say, more with his touch than with his voice, good things of his children. He has no desire to punish them. They have already been punished excessively by their own inner and outer waywardness."
I'm looking for good vegetarian recipes so if anyone knows any send them my way!! I'm recently reverted back to vegetarianism, and just don't have a lot of good wholesome recipes. Send 'em on over! Let me tell you, the kids, carnivores that they are, are just thrilled by this!
"You're not a very good vegetarian," Savannah said to me tonight.
"Why?" I asked.
"You eat meat all the time!" she replied.
"I just started!"I said.
"You are NOT going to become a vegetarian, I'm not going to let you!"
This is going well... ;)
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I spoke with my brother, Lazer, on Thanksgiving, who was with his daughter (Kira) but said to me he hated the holidays because he didn't have family to spend it with. Dad was sick. Lazer said he knew why people killed themselves during the holidays. He's not a depressive type at all - in fact he is quite the opposite. Almost to the point of denial of the darkness and sadness of the soul that we all hold within us, especially those with as strong of abandonment themes as we carry from our childhood. I felt for him, because I felt exactly the same. I didn't think the thought of relating to why people kill themselves but I myself had felt the extreme pangs of loneliness and I didn't have my kids with me, and he did. He's a single dad. My mom, when I related this to her, in her typical manner said she was going to call him and tell him to 'stop being so negative.' God love her! Relate, acknowledge, understand, feel the pain, listen. Don't deny or negate the feelings! So I have my mom and dad still living, but lost both at various stages of my childhood, as well as other people I loved. I also lost innocence in their care. Speaking of loss and the loss of innocence I wanted to share these photos of these beautiful orphans from the Oshin Child Development Center in Kathmandu, Nepal that I visited. The website has photos and info but I'll post my own. I really liked Samrakshya - she is such a beautiful girl! My daughter is excited to write to her when she gets back from Mississippi tomorrow.
Note how they eat with their hands - this is the culture there.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Six! But Carlos took this one so maybe it doesn't count! From left and going clockwise, this is Charlotte (in red) Lynn (in black), Maggie (in brown), Tammy, me and Trish (in white). I love these awesome women! What a great Thanksgiving! And I slept soundly for the first night since I've been home!
Me at Thanksgiving at Maggie's...
Thursday, November 22, 2007
This year I'm thankful for:
- Family and friends, new and old and the love you've all shared with me
- That so many people care enough to try to help save the planet - let's hope it's not just a "trend" that disappears.
- That we CAN offset our emissions... I encourage others to at least match the average U.S. output. That equals a donation of around $200.
- Good health, a wonderful home, and the opportunity to travel and write about places and issues that need positive attention drawn to them.
- Saving grace, and the love and sacrifice of Jesus: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. My Lord, Savior, Redeemer and Friend.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. God Bless You!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
A couple of my articles are out now.
An Off-Setting Adventure:
Cruising the Galapagos with a Carbon-Neutral Conscience, E/The Environmental Magazine, Nov 2007. Unfortunately you need a subscription to access it... but soon enough I'll post a version online.
Don't Mess with the Snappers: Irascible conservation veterans keep fighting for their beloved Big Thicket. Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. Dec 2007. The link still goes to the Nov issue as of today but the Dec issue will be up soon.
Fabrics, KathmanduMacaque at the monkey temple, Kathmandu, overlooking some Tibetan prayer flags.
Monday, November 19, 2007
- First Time (song) by Lifehouse
This came from my journal ... reflections on the trip.
I was really excited on the flight home to Houston, as well as the last leg of the trip from Bangkok to LA. Don't know why, it was just this bubbling energy from the adventure gone by, that all had gone well, that I was safe and sound and the bonding and connecting that occurred really mostly toward the last days. For many days of the trip I just felt alone, though not lonely, but didn't know if I fit in. Anyway, as I was riding in the bus back to Bhadrapur from the mountain highlands I started to reflect on the sort of detached attitude I carried through the trip and wondered where could I find again this pure joy that I experienced when I spent some weeks in solitude in New Mexico? Why on my trips to Peru, the Galapagos and now Nepal was I not feeling particularly inspired? I felt mostly just a lone soul wandering through a distant land. I liked the people on the trip but making friends takes time. There's no instant bonding as adults, I think, the way kids do.
At one point on the trip a communication breakdown, and some small frustrations added up and I felt overwhelmingly not just a lone soul but I felt strongly that I'd made a poor choice in coming on this trip and spending money that I should have saved or spent on the kids education or something for our family (since my editor said I could write the article without going - though of course such articles are inevitably better when one sees things first-hand). I questioned myself as to why I made the choice to wander and explore when my heart truly belongs at home, with my children who need me and my ability to love, protect, cherish and guide them. (I also do believe that kids suffer when parents have unlived lives or unmet dreams -- they sacrifice too much of themselves at the kids' expense... kids need parents as role models also). But in my circumstance, money is truly extremely tight and I just felt that I'd made a bad choice. I started to cry as I walked alone down and up the rugged path, people far behind me and people far in front of me but me alone.
I felt maybe the reasons I chose to go to Nepal - besides my wanderlust and desire to see all the continents - will come out in time. I certainly loved seeing the red pandas in the wild, something very few Westerners have seen - few people at all, for that matter. I loved the scenery (though cows and their cowbells are omnipresent no matter how seemingly remote the forest or extreme the slope), and I loved the hard sweaty, heart-pumping, breath-taking trekking we did and meeting new people and seeing the culture.
I came to a sort of conclusion that I want to travel with someone rather than alone. I don't mind being alone but there's something to be said for traveling with a close friend or partner who you share a bond with already before the experience. I think that having someone like that there would have made all the difference. I'm a social person who cherishes my friendships, even as I also need a lot of alone time to nurture my creative spirit. The experience certainly enriched the muse and gave me some inspiration for the fount. The feeling on the plane was unmistakable, just hopefulness, excitement and energy and a desire to step back into a leadership role that I have given a backseat over the last few years. I love public speaking, teaching a group of students, and hope that with my book I can step back into that role.
I also had some insight into religion and spirituality as I reflected. Being in a nation with a lot of Tibetan prayer flags, Buddhist temples and Hindu worship (and sharing a trip with Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and myself a Christian) I got to thinking about the Zen Buddhist principle of non-attachment. I am interested in knowing the origin of this principle and its etymology, because I tend to think that attachment is normal and healthy - to friends, family, children, and even God. It's when attachment degenerates into addiction that problems ensue. We have to be able to say goodbye - often permanently - to people or ideas that no longer work without catapulting into depression or an inability to function. The alternative is that the principle is 'wrong'... though I tend to think not because Jesus' teachings repeatedly echo these words about non-attachment or what I'd refer to more as non-addiction.
"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:25) -- don't be attached to your very life because it's a temporary home of the spirit which has a greater purpose - to serve and love selflessly. Death is not to be feared.
When his immediate family wanted to speak with Jesus while he was in a crowd, he replied, "Who is my mother? And who are my brothers? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Mt 12:48-50). In other words, do not be too attached to blood family because although it's natural to feel more altruistically toward them, our true calling is to God and hence all humanity. We are all brothers and sisters, we are all One. Our duty is to serve all.
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (Mt 6:24) In other words, do not be too addicted or attached to money or the seeking after of it...Jesus also told the parable of the rich fool: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:16-21). Many more teachings on greed and attachments to money are there also...such as when he tells the young man to sell all his possessions and follow him.
Do not be addicted to outcome... "God's will be done" even to the point of death such as Jesus crucifixion. There's a far greater good that comes out of suffering done for God's glory. Don't take this out of context though - there's never glory in inflicting suffering on another nor in staying in a relationship or situation in which one's very life, safety or sanity are threatened. I do believe that God brings good out of our suffering if we're open to the life lessons within and our hearts do not become hardened but stay open and humble. We can see a thousand deaths but still know that death - even if prolonged and tortured and scary - is not eternal but a momentary suffering. Sometimes perhaps it's harder to see death than to experience it. Death occurs and ends but our life sustains beyond it. Even if one doesn't believe in an afterlife, the gifts or creative works we leave behind, the love we've shared and given to others through hugs, kind words, smiles, friendships - these things live on after our death. Our molecules certainly live on - forming into dust and then into other organisms or parts of the earth and the universe. As Michael Dowd says, we are all stardust!
So overall I sort of had a feeling that I was ready to 'feel' again, to risk, to feel deeply and passionately in the part of myself that I seem to have closed off somehow, maybe due to detachment. But detachment differs from non-attachment. So... Bring it on!
At the airport my kids gave me a HUGE hug (both of them at the same time). Sam clung especially hard, which is unusual because Savannah is usually the one expressing how much she misses me. I gotta keep this short. Here are just a few photos from the trip. Will create a gallery at week's end after I write my article on mountain lions!
I have so many shots of cute kids peering out open windows! Love this one. A cute Nepali boy carrying a load of sticks (probably firewood).
An abstract shot of incense and marigolds inside of the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu. Althuogh it's a Buddhist temple a Hindu prayer service was being held here.
A baby macaque eating what remains on a candy wrapper. The monkey temple is so named because of the many macaques there, protected by Hindus who believe they are an incarnation of the monkey God Hanuman.