Monday, October 31, 2005

feeling down

I struggle lately with feeling down. I seem to waver between total internal panic and faith that whatever happens I'll find a way and God will protect my spirit. Its a tough battle. I need to mourn my many losses of late. I'm feeling a bit bitter and angry to be honest. I feel like Peter who tries to walk on the water and he gets scared and starts to sink in his lack of faith. He starts out bold and then wavers.

So I've been looking for a writers escape where I can go for 2-3 weeks to focus on my book proposal. I actually have 5 books I am pondering. OK yes, it's true, as my friend said to me and I love this "multitasking will be the death of me!" However 2 books would be repubs of already written material and 2 are partly written and I just need to focus and finish. One project involves publishing parts of my blog and recrafting them into essays.

Savannah cracks me up - in the movie when Zorro and his wife were kissing she was like "they are practically eating each others' jaws!" roflol. Reflections through the mind of a child! I laughed so hard when she said this. Well I'm going to sleep now. night.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

right and wrong

I took Savannah to see the movie The Legend of Zorro tonight. I truly enjoyed it. It exemplified the ongoing struggle between knowing when to turn the other cheek, versus fighting for what is right. When his dad tries to tell him life is more complicated than he thinks, and you don't always need to fight, the little six-year old son replies, "There is a right, and there is wrong." I do believe this is true. The question remains, how does one know when to fight and when to walk away?

I have been thinking a lot about when I was raped as a teen (see July 4, 2005 post "date rape and freedom"). Although I had a blackout the day after the event and could not remember anything immediately, it came back in pieces, and with discussions with my friend who was with me, and later when I serendipitously met the wife of the guy who I was on a date with (it was not him who perpetrated the crime - read the post...). In my head I can picture me lying there in the bed of the pickup truck, passed out, and I can picture the teenager- he was a small boy - and how he messed with me. What I have thought lately is that I don't think that he was being overtly malicious. I don't think it crossed his mind in any capacity the consequence of his actions on me, and my future (or him and his future for that matter).

I think that this boy was selfishly seeking after something he wanted in his animal-nature, which was sex. He was a young horny boy, and there was a young attractive girl lying there who he knew would not protest because I was not awake to do so. Although I did stir in my drunkenness, I did not protest. He was quiet and gentle not violent or aggressive. And this added to my guilt I imposed upon myself over the months that followed and years to follow. If I allowed it to happen was I a participant? To this day that event affects who I am. It had a very traumatic impact on my life in the immediate days to follow but has continued to be with me in my life and my relationships ever since.

The thing is, this was not a violent rape that tend to be perpetrated out of power hunger or anger (and I have a very good friend who at 12 was raped in a field by a stranger). What I have pondered lately is how the rape I endured is similar to what happens in the political world, or with the many small, unthinking actions that have a devastating end result on our environment or social justice systems. There are so many selfish, unthinking acts that people justify as ok because they're not outrageously, egregiously wrong. People often make decisions that go against the public good and that have subtly negative consequences but they get small degrees of self-gratification, whether through political backslapping or hopes of career advancements or funding of one's pet projects. Make no doubt about it, some of these acts in cases where ethical boundaries are crossed or money or prestige are placed as higher goals than the greater good -- are wrong as was the rape I endured. But they are easier for people to justify. Yet the consequences can be ever as far reaching.

So the world becomes filled with people who cross boundaries they shouldn't and those who allow their boundaries to be crossed. It takes courage and a strong learning curve to know how to change either of these tendencies. How does one know where the line lies when the other person does not speak up for themselves? We have to be ever-vigilant of not stepping over someone's boundary, but at the same time we do not have the power of mind reading and many people won't tell you. I for one tend to assume people will tell me if I do something they don't like, so I tend to just live in the moment and say whatever. But then I analyze what I've already said to death - after the fact. I suppose I need to do this before rather than after.

Its a tricky task navigating this world, it is.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


you and I we're like 4 year olds
we want to know why and how come about everything
we want to reveal ourselves at will and speak our minds
and never talk small and be intuitive and question mightily and find god
my tortured beacon we need to find like-minded companions

- Alanis Morrissette in Joining You.

I believe in a life of utter visibility. That means complete transparency. Nothing hidden, nothing denied. Not even the part of myself tht I didn't want to look at, much less acknowledge. [V]isibility is the key to authenticity, and that authenticity is the doorway to your True Self...
- Neale Donald Walsch in Foreward to Debbie Ford's book "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers"

I came upon this passage the other day and was stopped in my tracks. I have never read any of Neale Donald Walsch's stuff but that is what I've been saying all along about radical honesty and transparency and just laying it all out there on the line because we are all human. We have all been ashamed, and embarrassed, and we all do things we are not proud of, but how can we truly move forward and progress as a society if we as individuals hide ourselves from even ourselves?

Well I have to keep this short but I'll just say even though it seems like commonsense, its not. This world is so full of people with a lot of pride, greed and selfishness. In fact I believe that is what is meant by original sin. The worldview of a baby and a child is that the world outside is only there to serve their needs. As a child grows, that view should open up and broaden and one gains perspective and compassion for others and sees how one's actions affect others, and hopefully modify behavior as a result.

Not everyone does develop less selfishness though, and some (most even) continue to seek their own needs above others throughout their adult lives. We do well to treat others as well as we do ourselves - and not just our friends and family but strangers and even our "enemies". This is the golden rule. I see some who treat others better than themselves, and in the process neglect their own needs (eg. parents who pour their whole lives into raising their children and once their out of the home the individual feels so empty because they have neglected their own callings), and I don't think this is good either. I think we are to love both ourselves and others, putting God above all. What does it mean to put God above all? To me it means following the spiritual laws laid down in Scripture so that we don't end up thinking we are following God when we're really following our own ideas. There are a lot of people who claim to be religious who have some pretty screwed up theologies like KKK and types (no kidding the guy has a website - this guy is so full of hate). Oh how funny I just read that some people hacked into his website and stole the domain from under him and changed it to - See an article on it.

There's some scary stuff out there folks.

Monday, October 24, 2005

hill country

I have a zillion things to do, but I wanted to mention a very cool guy and outstanding photographer I met - Francis Zera - check out his amazing photos! - and here is a link to his gallery from this trip. (you can replace the "1" with 2, 3 and 4 to get additional pages).

And also, here are a few of my own Hill Country photos (c) Wendee Holtcamp 2005.
The daylit moon against a Hill Country backdrop - Colorado Bend State Park.

A Watusi cow saying hello. CAVU Canyon Ranch, Kimble County.

CAVU Canyon Ranch big blue skies in the morning light.
An old building ruins near Raye Carrington's Flyfishing Resort on the Llano River.

The Presidio, an old wartime fort in San Saba County.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

tsunamis, dreams, and the parting of the red sea

(I wrote this 10/22 in the town of Mason, TX).

I awoke from another tsunami dream. I rarely remember my dreams, but this morning I had two - one was that I could not fit everything into my suitcase - gotta laugh at that (for both its literal and figurative meaning). In the 2nd one - I was at a beautiful pool in some sort of class being taught outdoors. Daline was there too and I said let's go somewhere beautiful and get away - let's just fly off in the morning (gotta love that spontaneity) and we were going to do it, but then it started raining and then right before I awoke I'd went into a building for a few minutes then came out and it was pouring rain and I looked to where all the students were sitting at the table overlooking the ocean and a HUGE wall/wave of water was heading toward us.

You know I have to wonder if the Red Sea parting wasn't a tsunami. I believe that most of the miracles in the bible have natural explanations. I still believe God was involved and it was a true miracle. But He always leaves a natural explanation so that thoe of little faith can explain it away. But the power in God's truths is that a natural explanation does not diminish the miracle. The miracle is in that God's people who loved him were saved from the onslaught of the murderous armies seeking revenge.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

i'm in love

I have officially fallen in love... with my camera! I admit I was not impressed with my new Canon Rebel at first, but this trip I've been playing around with it and its INCREDIBLE! I am having a blast. I think I've taken about 9,000 photos all in one day and I am officially gonna have to get a new computer to hold all the images!

I have been in a quite reflective and somewhat melancholy mood lately, a lot of fear based on uncertainty about the future. I have this odd mix of self-assuredness and boldly going forth mixed with deep-seated fear and anxiety and self-consciousness. Somewhere in there I just take it day by day and know by faith all things will work out. By this afternoon I was starting to feel a bit better, and these are the reasons:

(1.) I fell in love with my camera and have had so much fun playing with it and getting some great photos.

(2.) I have met some cool people including a photographer who showed me a few things. I have to get this totally groovy lens called a lens-baby that he has-

(3.) I went kayaking on the Colorado River today and got out at this little cove where there were two small spring-fed waterfalls. I got out of my kayak and walked barefoot on the limestone ledges and explored a small limestone bluff under which were a bunch of mussels - a raccoon must have taken them under there. Very cool. Climbing around barefoot on the rocks just reminded me how cool and fun it is to explore and how interesting life is when you are outside the box. Outside the box has become so cliche' but if you're really doing things that are out of your ordinary average everyday experience, feeling and experiencing life and interacting with the earth, and trying to see things through a different lens, its a lot of fun.

(4) We took a short hike to Gorman Falls and it is drop-dead gorgeous. The funnest thing was figuring out how to use the blur feature on my camera, and though I need a tripod some of the shots turned out pretty cool.

(5) Lots of article ideas!

I will not have email access after tonight until Sunday. I'm heading where no cell phones dare to roam - East of Eden (literally...) I'll update later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


there's an underestimated and impatient little girl
raising her hand

- Alanis in 'Wake Up', on Jagged Little Pill

my dear friend said to me that i remind him of another friend who has a similar personality and yet she ended up getting frustrated at the turn of events in life and lost her passion for the environment and making a difference and all. he said something like promise me you will not ever lose your passion. I'm trying lord, i am trying but i tell you its hard in this world.

i remember when i was a sophomore in college i worked as a receptionist over a summer to raise money for my Australia rainforest trip that fall and there were these 2 middle age men and i had all this joie de vivre and they were cool and i'd say be happy, and they were just like, you don't understand, life just hasn't beaten it out of you yet. they'd been divorced and things had not gone well for various reasons. but i promised myself i'd never let all the crap in life take my joie de vivre because why should i let the crap of the world rob me of my life? life IS joie de vivre - it is what makes life itself worth living. just do your best to keep your attitude right - you have power over your choices and who you surround yourself with and whether you let bad things get you down. Jesus even says, you WILL have troubles but take heed I have overcome the world. In other words (my words) the light of God is far brighter than the darkness in the world and cling to and look to the light, keep it in your heart and let it wrap you in its comforting love and peace. keep on keeping on.

i am going out of town to the hill country hiking and kayaking - i'll be back sunday night! cheerio.

sam's ginormous poopie adventure

sam said he would kill me if i actually posted a blog entry about this. we sat here at my computer giggling and struggling for the keyboard earlier. i told him that was one of the disadvantages of having a mom who is a writer, that lots of the little funny stories and things they do will end up in articles or my writing. i like to say what i read in Anne Lamott's book, and that is if you don't want to be written about you should have behaved yourself better in the first place. truth must be told.

so on to sam's ginormous poop. for a little pipsqueak darling that he is, that boy has the biggest poops in the history of planet earth. i can not tell you how many times i have personally unclogged the toilet after him. and he is so proud of himself when he clogs the toilet. he gets a big shit-eating grin and walks around all self-righteous like it is something truly to be proud of. savannah brought "sam's ginormous poop" (her words) to my attention today when she was about to get the in the shower. in her little sarcastic manner she is like "i am just TRYING to have a shower without the disGUSTing smell of sam's ginormous POOP!" ah days in the life of being a mommy - and a single one at that whereby i am responsible for all these lovely tasks like unclogging toilets.

i like to tell the story of my self-named "i-don't-need-a-man grill" that came to me in a gajillion pieces and i put it together myself on super bowl sunday without a single bit of help - a gas grill - and it works and i love it. so one day i bought a backyard patio table and was putting it together and the kids were helping and i said "i will call this my i don't need a man table" - and then at some point i got stuck. i could not do something and i was like, darnit, i am going to have to call daddy. so then savannah and sam figured it out all by themselves, and then savannah said to me, "you can call it the i-don't-need-a-man, but-i-do-need-two-very-smart-kids table." she is so funny.

oh and at bedtime i asked sam why he did not want me to post this, and he said because it was embarrassing that his mom would write about poop! i said why do you care what anyone thinks? it was not that his friends might see it or that he was embarrassed about his toilet-clogging, it was that his mom, heaven forbid, is a bit offcolor. ah well, such is life. i never was normal. today in the grocery store we were getting some things and i yelled out woohoo just for fun. savannah looked at me shocked for a moment and then started jumping on me - she is getting very tall and almost bowls me over! she said mom you are crazy. i said why be normal? normal is boring.

Monday, October 17, 2005


as i sat in my son's parent-teacher conference today, tears welled up in my eyes. it has been a hard day. sam has been a bit naughty at school, he is the youngest and smallest in his class - he has skipped a grade but gets straight As but his emotional maturity is sometimes more his age than his grade. he has a (much larger) bully in his class that picks on him and sam tends to poke and annoy the boy too. but his teacher said he is always honest and admits his faults and shows a lot of integrity. she said that she normally gives the kids a jolly rancher to clean up this one part of the classroom and one time she said she was not going to give them candy that day, and another boy said "well i'm not going to do it if i'm not getting candy" but sam decided he'd do it anyway and all on his own, even when his classmates didn't. she said that showed a lot of integrity and she was very impressed. at that point is when i really started to cry.

of course i'd been crying already earlier but this is the reason it got to me when she said this about my son: every time in my life when i've been honest, done the right thing, or stood up for what i believe in against others who don't understand or don't care, i've ended up with the short end of the stick. it just hurts so much to know that my beautiful son is growing up with integrity but where is it going to get him? i don't mean to sound cynical. i know that truly in the eyes of God we have to do what is right no matter what happens in the world. it just truly breaks my heart that it does not seem to make a difference particularly in the business world. i remember in high school i worked at randall's grocery store, and my boyfriend was in the military and leaving for overseas and i decided to call in to work to try to take the day off. i told them the truth, that my boyfriend was leaving and that i would not see him for many months and i wanted the time to spend with him. i could have called in sick and lied. but i told the truth and i was fired for it.

i really try to do my best in everything i do in life. i don't always succeed. i make many mistakes. i see my mistakes and i take responsibiity for my mistakes. but it is not usually returned. i am fortunate that the friends who are with me through the years are those kind of people. i think we need something to change this unfortunate tendency in the world but i don't know the solution. i see that everytime in the business world you apologize and take responsibility the other side just says "yep you were wrong - see ya." my car floor is covered with books like "principle centered leadership," "winning with integrity," and others but at the end of the day where did it get me to try to figure out how to do the right thing, how to stand up for what i believe in and tell my truth?

but then i read the end of tuesdays with morrie to my kids tonight, and it broke me up how this young man, this sports writer put his face up to the old dying man's and they told each other they loved each other and how the one taught the other how to open up and be vulnerable. i could barely continue reading. i know that this is what really matters in life - being true and vulnerable and giving love, even when its hard. i thought of my own parents and how hard it will be to see them grow old and die and how much i want them to know how much i love them. i thought of how i sometimes mentally disconnect from my own kids because i was disconnected from my parents when i was a kid and i love my kids so intensely yet that same intensity scares me and i don't want to get too close. i have a good relationship with them and i am so much more patient with them now that i am single but i also am not their best friend the way celeta was with me. i am constantly guilty of working too much and not spending the time i vow i will with them. i guess i just know that i have to continue to live the best life i can with the most integrity i can no matter what holes i inevitably dig for myself, just try to learn more and more about how to be honest yet at the same time to self-protect.

life is just so confusing sometimes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

i don't care, you can't make me

What an incredibly beautiful day! Sunshine, peace, breeze. I went outside to say hi to the kids who are playing in a neighbors yard. I showed them how to do headstands (something I am very good at) and we had a cartwheel contest (I won) :) and I started to spin around and around as I am inclined to do and after pronouncing me once again a lunatic they all started doing it too. "We tried to have her put into a mental hospital," my daughter told the other kids, "but they wouldn't keep her."

I taught them how to stand still and swing your arms loosely back and forth and say "I don't care, you can't make me!" a trick I learned from the very creative writer SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy). "I'm going to do that to you sometime!" Savannah said to me. Then she climbed on my back and would not let me go. I love those kids, they are so amazing. I work them hard - they do all the vacuuming, mopping, folding clothes, cleaning the bathrooms, taking care of the cats, and various and sundry other chores but it makes me happy when their teachers tell me they can tell that they have been taught responsibility.

Well I'm headed to see the movie "Wallace and Gromit and the Case of the Were-Rabbit" with the kids and the ex-hubby in a bit but I'm going to go sit in the sunshine in the interim because its soooo incredibly beautiful out! I do so love sunshine.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

outside the box and inside my heart

I have no job, but I feel so blessed and I feel free. Feeling imprisoned by other people's limitations and expectations has always felt so burdensome to me. I am not one to live inside of a box or to be confined to the smallness of other people's demands and expectations. I am going to dream big and watch those dreams continue to manifest. I remember one professor said "You can't fit Wendee in a box" in class, and I was like "That's right! You can't fit me in a box!" I am sure I sounded pretty obnoxious. It's so funny to shine the light at oneself and realize what a moron you are most of the time but I do the same thing to everybody else and love em anyway. I think people take themselves too seriously. I love to be happy, and silly and have fun. Today in the kitchen I spontaneously broke into dance along with the song, and my son Sam was like "Mom, you are a lunatic!"

When I start to feel so in love with life, I feel like I want to wrap my arms around the world. There are so many people I adore. Each person I think about and I feel such gratitude at the kindness they showed me just in being there at whatever time in my life they were there, and for continuing to be there over the many years. My Aussie friends: Jenny who invited me to Mon Repos to help with nesting sea turtles, an experience which changed my life (I fell in love with those creatures), and who thought I had some kind of something special. Creative Rin who loved frogs and brought me to a frog frenzy (who knew there was such a thing) and pushed me around the parking lot in a grocery cart and we caught all kinds of mammals, reptiles, birds and other creatures together. Michelle & Nancy the rat crew. Kathryn "Chip" I remember laughter. My earliest friend I still keep in touch with - Elissa who in 7th grade TPd houses with me and yet we still relate to one another so well. Daline words can't say enough how much you mean to me. Celeta the first woman who saw how precocious I was and treated me like a human rather than a child, who took the time to teach me to crochet, knit, bake bread, garden, make homemade tea from dried mint leaves, make huckleberry jam, and taught me about the birds and the bees. Mom and Dad you gave me life, faith, integrity, Skip you put up with me being a total pain in the a** and still think I'm cool. Kim, Kelli and Suzanne we had so much fun in high school, such a tumultuous and intense time in our lives. You are soul mates. Oh wow there are so many more people I can't list them all! Paige, Jen, Diane, Janie, Johane, Laurie Price, Laurie Wildman (you crack me up girl!!), Nedaro, Matt, Rhonda, Ruthanne, Stormy, Theresa, Zofia, Wendi, Sus, Susan my very cool cleaning woman who I can't afford anymore, Gia, Elizabeth, Gail, Amanda, Ginger, Miriam, Holly and Ross, Jeff, Mary Anne, David D, David and Tracey, Heather, Jennifer L (the other J Lo), Lazer my brother who sells sticks, aunt Linda, Shannon, Alisha, Sonia, Clea, David, Sara. All my writer buds new and old: Sharon, Melissa, Sheri, Jennifer(s), Kristi, Loriee, Lisa, Miranda, Dana, Hilda, John, Peggy, Cornelia, Vyv. And those friends who have touched my soul lately - Bill, Todd, Dale, Robert, Brandt, weird why are they all men. LOL. I think you are all peaches. :o) Then there are all the very cool people I work with in the community but you will have to remain unnamed.

I feel like jumping up and down (I do that sometimes, its fun you should try it). I'm in the kind of mood where I'd like to go outside naked under the stars, if I was with someone I loved. (PS Do not do these two activities at the same time).

I will also say when you have this many great cool friends and you encounter people being shits, its pretty obvious. When I was in 5th grade I bought this notepaper that had quotes from people on it. One was a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson and it was the one I did not understand. It said something like "I have learned to be with those I like is enough." It made absolutely no sense to me. But now I get it very well. I agree with it, and I live my life by it. I like most people - but I don't like pettiness, pomp, pretentiousness, and prejudice. I don't like jealousy, greed, selfishness and turning a blind eye to one's weakness. I worry about the sheep-like nature of people and I don't like when people shut others out. I really love real people, and when I find them I think the world of them. You are all so dear to me. Big hugs!!!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

speaking up

Living with integrity means speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. -Barbara DeAngelis

I just got this in my email newsletter that I get weekly "Your Daughter Can Thrive" from Sharon Day I rarely read it because I don't have time. Today I did. What it says really spoke to my life right now.

How well do you speak up for yourself? How does your daughter do in this department? I don't mean the kind of bravado some folks display, brashly volleying opinions and emotions around like the weapons they can be. Some women say they're "in-your-face" in the name of honesty, when what's really going on is a self-preservation tactic. The teeth and growl of all those 'honest' words simply keep people from getting too close, and keep that woman from feeling below the surface.

No, I'm asking how able you are to simply state your feelings (especially those strong feelings) in a neutral, calm, yet accurate fashion. Most of us have had zero training, no role model, and, in fact, have been severely conditioned to do exactly the opposite.

Marianne Williamson says it beautifully in her classic, A Woman’s Worth: [As women we] "are still in emotional bondage as long as we have to make a choice between being heard and being loved." This is the legacy we have inherited, from eons of women being subjugated, marginalized, and shushed with the words, "Be nice!"

I feel this tension so intensely - I have some friends who have the opposite problem of not speaking their truth at all, but I am very good at speaking up for myself but the reality is that I must not do it well because I end up pissing people off when I do it - am I the kind of person who brashly volleys opinions? I would say in person no, I present my concerns calmly and rationally. But I think when email is the only option that my words or rants can come across just that way - very different than how I am in person or how I feel in my heart. But at the same time, it doesn't matter, it is indeed self-protection mode. I was so neglected and lonely as a child -and told that what I believed was inaccurate and untrue - that I have an incredibly intense need for my truths to be heard. I would rather be heard than loved.

I also can feel very angry at a situation and as soon as its resolved it's over. But if it does not get resolved it festers and I can't go on with that relationship. I tried in my marriage for way too long at this - the friends who know me and have been there with me through my life know I'm very loyal. I don't have conflicts with many people. But if someone is upset at me, I will try to see it from their perspective and honestly apologize - but I also will speak my mind and people don't always like this in any capacity, even calmly.

I cling to making things work almost to a fault - I stayed in my unhappy marriage for years and years and years thinking I could make it work, that I was a failure if I left, that I would be a failure as a Christian if I got divorced, a failure as a mother. I don't EVER want someone to be able say that I didn't do everything in my power to make it work - whatever "it" was. And yet the other party usually doesn't see it that way - and they are usually partly correct - maybe I didn't try as much if trying means to know when to stop or when to shut up and let well enough alone and let things go. How I wish I could take the feelings in my heart and make someone else feel them and know I was being true and honest - as much as I know about myself and my motives I reveal. Sometimes realizations dawn slowly on both sides.

Since my divorce, I am learning that when things are not good I know it fairly quickly and I need to walk away more quickly from the situations that are not positive for me. I get along very well with most people up until the time there is tension - then I have found most people prefer to not resolve or address issues and I fight it to the death - my fighting may be my voluminous emails, but I'm trying to force my opinions and perspective on another and you know, it just doesn't usually matter to them. True friends care, but most people - acquaintances - really don't care. There are some unusual souls who do have a lot of compassion for people they don't know well and they are blessings to the earth.

I come to the table assuming people want to work things out. I bring my concerns forward because I lose my motivation very quickly when I feel frustrated, and so I know myself well enough that I need to resolve the issue. Yet rarely have difficult situations been resolvable other than walking away. That is a shame. I remember that Debbie Ford - like me - says she was a fiercely independent self-starter who felt she had to rely on herself in the world. She hated "weak and needy" - but of course it kept coming up for her. And yet she said that it was in being defeated that she finally turned a page in her life and found joy.

In reading the Sharon Day newsletter further, wow, she has a story where she's sitting in the gynecologists office in the gown for an hour, and when the doctor comes in and asks how she is, she calmly and even a bit playfully responds, "You know, actually I'm cold, uncomfortable, and frustrated. I've been here for an hour." And yet Sharon says of the doctor, who she describes as generally a very caring, attentive doctor, "even someone this evolved was flustered by my simple statement of truth. She explained. She sort of apologized. ... Through the whole visit, though, I could feel her disdain, rather than an appreciative, "Thanks for telling me! I wonder how many other patients have felt that way and never had the guts to tell me?" as I had hoped."

This is pretty much exactly what I have found to be true.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

who is the donkey?

I read the bible story about Balaam and his donkey (Numbers 22:21-39), and this is what bugs me about God, He brings me more questions than answers. The bible is supposed to bring wisdom and lessons to the reader, but as I read it I have to wonder am I the donkey or the foolish man?

The story goes Balaam was on a reckless path and his donkey saw the angel of the Lord and stopped in his tracks. Balaam got mad and beat the donkey each time, angry that the donkey was making a fool of him. This happened three times, when God gave the donkey speech and the donkey said to Balaam, "What have I done to make you beat me these three times?" to which Balaam finally realized the errors of his ways, fell facedown, and said "I have sinned!" Then he changed course and obeyed God.

I think I know the answer to that question, but you always have to ask, and question
oneself, because there is always the possibility of pride in oneself and we can always learn from each character in a story. It's funny that the stubborn donkey is the one who actually was the one who could see the angel of the Lord and obeyed while the one supposedly in charge was the one actually being stubborn and not patiently asking, why might the donkey have stopped and is not obeying?

In my opinion people get mad easily in proportion to their pride. There is righteous
anger in response to injustice, and the discussion I had on humility speaks to some of this - the space in between letting anything occur without speaking out, and getting quickly or unjustifiably angry. We have to learn to see from another perspective which enables us to not get too angry ("why is the donkey acting like this?"), but we also have to help others' see our perspective if we want them to empathize. In my opinion, we shouldn't protect our "reputation" or how we look to others so much as we should behave ourselves in the first place and be willing to openly let everyone see ourselves truthfully. If we act with integrity, we should not be ashamed at the mistakes we have made in our lives, they are part of the beauty and imperfection that we of humanity carry. We try to recognize them and change and improve but there is no shame in being human and real.

So much of humanity is hidden in shame and secrecy and denial. Alice Miller's work on this in relation to families, child abuse, and the reign of leaders like Hitler and the lasting effects of violence, shame, and emotional manipulation on society is brilliant (Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, and The Drama of the Gifted Child are three of my favorites of her books). It occurs everywhere in small little actions and not always large, dramatic ones.

If I had a council of living and dead people who I could have to guide me (and do) it would be: M. Scott Peck, Alanis Morrissette, Anne LaMott, C.S. Lewis, Debbie Ford, Alice Miller, Erich Fromm, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Annie Dillard, and Jesus. I'm sure there are more but these are who I think of now (in addition to my dear friends and family who do guide me!).

Oh! I have to add my newest intrigue - Anderson Cooper. I have never seen his TV broadcasting because I don't watch TV but I read an essay he wrote on his brother's suicide and it touched me deeply, and then I did some searching about him and he is fascinating, deep, emotional, real, and brave. Well I think that it was actually him reporting in the video clip shown at the SEJ plenary that I wrote about in my essay posted on 10/4 that made me cry when I saw the scenes of New Orleans. Maybe one day I will meet him.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

In memory of M Scott Peck

Scott Peck, author of one of my all-time favorite books "The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth" was truly a brilliant man. He died Sep 25, 2005 at age 69. I am known to buy up as many used copies as I can find and give them to friends. It is probably the single most influential book in my life other than the Bible. In fact it probably brought me to God more than any other book - well actually I read "Further Along the Road Less Traveled" first - it was on my dad's bookshelf and I read it over the summer after my mom kicked me out of her house and made me go live with my dad as "punishment". Funny thing is when he wrote the first book, he was not a Christian. The story goes someone came to him and said, did you realize that what you wrote reflects Christian theology? And he was like, no... and then he gradually figured it out himself and embraced it.

He has the most similar understanding of Christianity to my own beliefs of anyone I know of. I am just reading an article on his life/death in the online Washington Post and didn't realize he - like me - had Jewish blood. How cool is that! This is an interesting quote from that article "[H]e said he had an appreciation of Jesus Christ as someone 'who was almost continually frustrated.' He told Omni magazine, 'He was a man who was often angry, scared, sad or even prejudiced on occasion.' He had little regard for what he told another interviewer was the ever-smiling 'wimpy Jesus.'"

Today, I bought his book "The Road Less Traveled and Beyond" the last in his series -I am researching competition for the book I'm writing (an essential component of a book proposal). At the end he wrote a long poem about his life and relationship with God and a few parts spoke to me about some things in my life right now.

Was it at five...
or ten or fifteen that
I first decided to speak
The truth
When I could have gotten away with a lie?
I can't recall.
Certainly by college, honesty
Had become my habit
(some have said my compulsion).
I do not mean I never withhold
A piece of truth now and then;
Only that it is painful for me
To love in such a way.

My book on "What is Truth" (in progress) discusses some of Peck's ideas, because they are truly and simply brilliant, deep, and so insightful into society and how we could become a better world if people would just listen and incorporate this information into their lives. He discusses the concepts of great truths as paradoxical, and describes the way people go to great lengths to fight against new information and proclaim the heralder of the news as "evil" or wrong, rather than the minor adjustment it would truly take to incorporate the new information (classic example is evolution for Christians). I will one day expand on something that takes up a mere 2 pages on the stages of spiritual growth - I will relate it to the evolution of a culture (rather than individuals which he does). If you haven't read his book - I highly recommend it. It changed my life.

Friday, October 07, 2005

caught in the tsunami

I just awoke from a nightmare. I used to have them a lot as a child but honestly I haven't had one in years and years. I always sleep well and easily. It wasn't a terror but a fear dream. In it, I was on a beach and there was an old rickety board that led out to a platform (sort of like pier but it was concrete) where there was something I had to retrieve. I think it was a surfboard and now that I think about it I recall thinking in my dream that having it would impress somebody. But I was going out to get it for someone else and thinking I was being brave. The rickety board was scary but I went fearlessly across and got the surfboard, but then somehow I got washed by a wave into the water. I remember the water was beautiful and clear, like Hawaii and the beach was tantalizingly close. I was in the water which was calm, but I looked oceanward and a huge wave was coming toward me and some radio voice or something told me that there was some barrier on the beach that had created this huge wave and it was slowly but powerfully coming at me. I felt gripped with fear but at the same time the little sarcastic voice in me was saying something like, "oh great." I felt I knew I could get out, but I wasn't for sure, but at the same time I wasn't sure how I got into that mess. It seems pretty symbolic. I'm exhausted and I'm going back to bed. Its been a bad couple of days and I can't seem to do anything right!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


In the Weekly reflection email from the Henri Nouwen Society it said: "I could not fathom how these refugees could remain positive despite their suffering. I soon came to admire the optimism and courage of these remarkable women. ... Asha was a widowed Somali refugee, a mother who had lost all but one of her children in war. Every day, she came to the office with a smile on her face, eager to improve her English skills so that she could find a decent job in America. Although she could never fully escape her past, she worked toward providing a better future for her son. Faced with the choice of giving up hope or embarking on a new and unknown life, Asha chose to celebrate life."

I can't say I've been through wartime violence or loss of my children (Lord forbid), but I had been thinking about how when you have truly been through some very difficult times, and you make it through alive and healthy, and you see many around you still lost in the fog, you achieve a different sort of joy. I like to say I don't want to grow up, but the truth is when you've been to hell and gotten out, you have grown up and you know it's ok and desirable even to not take life too seriously. I like to be completely silly sometimes, and I like to hang upside down from monkeybars and do cartwheels in the middle of the park or on the beach, and I like to wear pigtails in my hair and write with a fuzzy pink feather pen.

I've been scared and helpless, I've been molested, I've been raped, I've had a gun held to my head, I've been threatened and hit, I've succumbed to drug and alcohol use as a teen, I've attempted suicide and I've been manipulated and told that what I knew to be true wasn't true. Through it all I fought to find out what the truth is and to seek to become the best person I could be. I wanted to live a life of integrity and I've made many mistakes along the way. But I am so glad that I was able to quit smoking and my party days over 15 years ago, and I made myself who I am today (with God's help couldn't have done it without it). Not every one of my friends made it through. All of these horrible things happened so long ago. I believe in miracles because I am one. My life is one. And I'm very grateful.

love and sorrow

Who am i that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to
feel my hurt. Who am I that the bright and morning star would choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart. Not because of who I am but because of who you are. I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind. Still you hear me when I'm calling, Lord you catch me when I'm falling, you told me who I am. I am yours. - Casting Crowns in "Who am I".

I am feeling sad about love this afternoon. I know it is sappy but I see movies in which two people fall in love and it seems so magical - I love how they can make me feel though. I know its the movies. I then think of Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow and know that they are real people, real in the sense of not fake Hollywood types (not that I know them personally but I can tell a lot about Sheryl Crow from her lyrics and Armstrong from his drive), and you know I am a People magazine fanatic... LOL. I can feel the love in her lyrics on her latest album and the look in her eyes. It seems such a beautiful love story, two mature people who can find hope and companionship and attraction. I feel so jaded and doubtful it will ever happen for me.

It's funny because most of the time I really don't care, I have a bunch of truly awesome real, kind and generous friends, a satisfying and important career, and I feel like I'm relatively well-rounded (that sounds funny). Most of my days I just am so busy and things go along and I try to enjoy each day and not take life too seriously - its something I say in my prayer every morning - this is the day the Lord has made, let me rejoice - find joy - and be glad today! Anyway, I used to really want to find a great huge love and then I did when I was young (20), but marriage is so much harder and painful than anything I imagined, and we both had so much growth to do. I don't know if I've ever met a really happy married couple. And if they exist its because there is a mutual respect and each person has their own life too. Then I got divorced and the first real relationship turned out to be based on a house of cards - everything I thought I had wanted and had turned out to be utter untruths. So what now?

These thoughts bring tears to my eyes because I won't settle. I want it all, and I'd rather stay solo than be with someone that doesn't share the vision. Not perfection but someone real and good all the way down to their soul and funny and full of joie de vivre and honesty. And let's be real, there has to be attraction and passion. There are some of these people out there but mostly they are married (and I won't go there!). Or in Antarctica. I try to believe that the right person is out there but to be honest I don't know that.

I have to be ok with the possibility I will always be alone. And I'm ok with that but sometimes it does get lonely. I read somewhere that the difference with friendships and a life partner is that you have someone who "witnesses" your life day in and out. You have someone who is "there" with you through all that you endure - the joys and sorrows. And to this day, my exhusband is still the one who knows me better than anyone and who has shared in all that I have gone through even after the divorce - when I found a lump in my breast he told me that married or not he would be by my side, and that no one should go through something like that alone (it turned out benign), as I went through my post-divorce depression, and he was there as my heart was broken, as painful as it was for him. But we are two separate souls on separate paths. Life can be so sad sometimes. Then again, maybe it is just that time of the month ;)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

hope and SEJ conference reflections

I wrote this when I got home from the Society of Enviromental Journalists national conference in Austin and the issues of the day that environmental journalists, editors, writers, broadcasters face. I will update my blog more later - the conference was great and I now have to play catch-up! I got my new Canon Rebel Digital and have been playing with it a bit.

Hope and reflections - by Wendee Holtcamp

As someone who does not have a working TV, in the opening plenary I watched for the first time the scenes of New Orleans. It moved me to tears to see the devastation and the people calling out for help. It angered me to hear the politicians congratulating themselves for doing good jobs and claiming ignorance to the severity of the situation. What a powerful and important job we have.

Time and again in the world’s history, the powerful take advantage of those without an ability to fight back. The environment has no voice of its own. The forests and the air and the water are silent. The wild creatures that depend on healthy ecosystems for their survival do not have any voice except for their ability to affect us enough to speak for them. I do believe that the environment’s only chance for a healthy future -- and that environment ultimately sustains humankind as well --is the voice that we as journalists and storytellers speak.

So many people – people I know – truly believe that everything is fine in the world, that the politicians are doing a good job, and that the environment is as healthy as ever. I try to comprehend why so many people seem so apathetic, because people react viscerally when they see injustice, but for the most part, people are not reacting to many of the world’s imminent environmental and political crises. Citizens are not being forced to not speak out. So why are people not reacting?

I can only believe that people simply do not yet believe it. And they don’t believe it because they do not yet see it clearly. There is too much propaganda from every direction and the public has little ability judge the reliability of information. They don’t know what science to trust, what media to trust and what people to trust so they make up their own minds on who to believe. We have to gain back the trust of the public. We have to show that environmental issues pervade every aspect of our lives, and we have to tell these stories in an accurate, compelling, raw, and honest way.

In Bill Moyers eloquent speech, I believe he was passing the torch to all of us. Instead of passing it to one person, we can each hold a small light with which we can bear witness to the truth through our writing, broadcasting, and storytelling. There is a huge audience out there that we are not reaching, because if they understood the gravity of many of the environmental crises in their own backyards, in their lives, in their air, their water, their food, I have no doubt that more people would not tolerate it. People wake up, eat meals, take showers, drive to work, fill their cars with gasoline, work in their offices, go shopping, and go on with their daily lives with little attention to what truly goes into each of these activities and how their small daily actions affect the planet that they will ultimately leave to their children, and my children.

It breaks my heart to know that I may leave my children a world that is darker, more soiled, and less healthy than that which I was born into. It was my father’s generation who fought to pass the Clean Air and Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Law to leave the world a better place for me when I was a child in the 1970s. I still want to enjoy pristine forests, sustainable cities, healthy food, and clean air and water. I want all the species that exist today to exist in a hundred years. We have a right to protect what our parents fought to leave us, and that is now being stolen from under us. Our weapon of choice is the written word, and the spoken voice, and it is a critically important fight we face. As Joseph Pulitzer said in a quote I keep at my desk, “Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.”

People reason with their minds but ultimately make choices with their hearts. We need to engage both intellect and spirit in order to reach more people with the truth of what is happening in our nation and our world. There is so much darkness yet I refuse to feel hopeless or powerless, because I am not.

When I sit here at my computer writing, I like to burn a candle and to think of this light as symbolic of my ability to bring clarity and vision to those who can not yet clearly see.

As Thomas Merton said in No Man is an Island, “A man of sincerity is less interested in defending the truth than in stating it clearly, for he thinks that if the truth can be clearly seen it can very well take care of itself.

It was a great conference. Until next year, keep the hope alive.

[PS The photos were taken at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin which we visited on an SEJ conference tour. The top photo is the "green roof" or ecoroof modules that will be installed on top of a strip center in Austin that includes a Starbucks.]