Saturday, January 28, 2006

money fears

I have been listening to one of Suze Orman's audio-CDs on money and financial freedom etc and she has you work through your first memory memory, your greatest fear and then connect the two. Then you come up with a personal statement and you're supposed to repeat it over and over all up and down and all around until it becomes a reality. Suze had become a stock broker from being a waitress and she felt like a fraud so she told herself she was "powerful and successful, making at least $10,000 per month". In 1980 this was a ridiculously high amount - she had been making $400/mo at her waitress job. But before long she really was!

So I have toyed around with this. At first I had (this is kind of embarrassing - lol) "I am generous, joyful, powerful and successful, making at least $50,000 per month." but then I decided I really don't like the word powerful. It's not me. I don't want power. So I changed it to healthy since that is something very important to me. This has been my slogan for the past week or so. But I have been thinking that I'm not sure about whether there is a conflict between the whole "You can not serve both God and money" thing and striving for financial prosperity by putting an actual dollar amount. I don't want money for money's sake but I think of all the things I could do with it to help "save the world" and all - to be honest, I am inspired by Oprah. She is truly a personal hero of mine. She started off dirt poor like me and has become not only a successful and extremely financially successful woman, but a beautiful soul who has and shares a lot of joy with the world.

My dad chose a life of voluntary simplicity and voluntary poverty, while my mom had more a lifestyle of "wealth" while constantly telling me she didn't have enough money for this that and the other ... and so I wonder if I sabotage my ability to be completely free of that fear where I'm stuck in between the fear of having nothing and the fear of overwhelming success. I always feel like I don't "have enough," (time, money, everything!) when in reality I am blessed with an abundance! It is attitude. I had nothing with my dad and yet I had everything.

I do fear having a lot of money. It's easier to be doing medium well, not in debt and having some good assets, but not so well it's overwhelming. And yet does this fear keep me from achieving more? Do I sabotage my own ability to get ahead by my semi-conscious fears? Or am I right to not try to make money but to try to create a career I love and prosperity will follow (or at least I will be able to "make it"). Do I have a "right" to become wealthy if that were to happen to me? I think there are also fears because of the biblical passages of it being easier for the rich to get through the eye of a needle than get into heaven. Yet in reality, compared to the majority of the world, I am already far wealthier than most people in the entire world (as are all middle class people) so this admonishment applies already.

I don't have any answers, just questions today.

Friday, January 27, 2006


We kicked off our dinner parties with a gnocchi making dinner at Sonia's yesterday. It is an Argentinian tradition to eat gnocchi on the 29th of each month and to place money under the plate to bring prosperity. This is a funny story because at the SEJ (Society of Environmental Journalists) conference a bunch of writers and editors went out in Austin the first night and one editor kept saying he needed to go find "nyo-key" and it sounded like some Japanese thing. I didn't know what the heck he was talking about! I had seen the word "gnocchi" but pronounced it no-chee. As soon as Sonia said the word I was like - oh my gosh!!! Ding ding ding!!! It all made sense...

It was not the 29th but we celebrated anyway and all put money under our plates for prosperity. No one had any money so I gave everyone dollar bills. Does that mean I get all the prosperity? LOL. Sonia taught us all how to make gnocchi and it was so fun! Here are some photos from the evening.

Next I am hosting a "Reverse Super Bowl Party" at my house: Watch the commercials and talk during the football! I am overbooking myself (darn that multi-tasking) because after I sent out the Evite I realized I was going to be in Florida the same day! However I fly back in at 120pm, so will have to get home and get ready for having a party at my pad the same day. At least in Florida I should have some relaxation time... beach, massage, body wrap, exploring a beautiful island... I'm going to Amelia Island Plantation Resort.

I interviewed a biologist who studies red panda (nigale poonya - love that word! lol) in Nepal and I am sooo stoked about the possibility of going there on one of their trips. I have to sell a story on this critter! They are the closest relative of the giant panda, they eat bamboo, and they look more like a fox than a panda! The name panda came from Anglicization of the Nepalese word poonya. Check out the website: or go to Red Panda Eco Trip info directly.

Stormy rolling gnocchi on a gnocchi board.

Sonia serving up our gourmet home-made gnocchi!

Sonia making crepes!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

getting ahead

The nice thing about working from home is I actually have time to get some things done that I have been meaning to for oh, say a few years?! Like backing up my computer. Thank God for microsteps, but I bought a hard drive backup in late December, and it took me nearly a month to figure out how to use the software and get the backup right. The first time it backs up, it takes literally over 24 hours and makes my computer act like a slimy crawling thing. (i.e. A slug). It's annoying as hell since I'm typically in hyperactive-multi-tasking woman mania! So I did my first back up a few weeks ago. Or so I thought. Yesterday I went to check whether the files were actually there on the external hard drive and they were not! I had done a "duplicate" not a "backup" but I could not even find the duplicate files. So I read the online manual (when all else fails, read the manual...) and I had to do a different operation! So now I think I actually have it, after a gazillion tries... success!

I also have been working on my 2005 taxes early. This is a first.. I have never begun organizing the files until March at the earliest. In an act of decluttering mania, I have also gone through my file cabinets and recycled two huge garbage bags full of old paper stuff. Decluttering is so satisfying! LOL I sound like a total dork, but that's ok that is typical ;)

I am also trying to plan out my meals so that I can be prepared and save money (in theory... in practice I have found so many yummy recipes that I'm spending a small fortune at the grocery store to get new items). I am continuing my healthy eating post-cleanse. I am really enjoying it! I used to love cooking but the last year or two of my marriage I got sick of making food and feeling unappreciated so I kind of just gave up. I stopped making much of anything. It was a semi-conscious deliberate move but I think it hurt me more than anything since I and the kiddos didn't eat as healthy. I made this very yummy spinach-tofu quiche that is sooo good with salsa, and my first post-cleanse meal was an awesome soup with all kinds of veggies, brown rice, miso, curry, turmeric, cayenne, and cumin. I made a cabbage-apple-walnut salad tonight. I am introducing foods slowly into my diet & have not yet had wheat or most dairy. I've been having soy milk and soy products a lot. Well anyway I have not had many internal mental meanderings which is why I am blogging less and I've been really trying to focus on getting caught up and all. Sorry this is so mundane... no more talk about frozen pee, what can I say. LOL.

However! I am going to jet off to a resort in Florida next week, for a bit of pampering and relaxation, horseback riding on the beach, you know, it's a rough life but somebody's gotta do it! And Wednesday we are having our dinner party at Sonia's where we are all gonna cook homemade gnocchi and pasta sauce - I am so looking forward to that! And drink some wine! Because I'm not driving! :) I have some cool assignments I'm working on too. So I'm staying hopping! Peace to all!

Friday, January 20, 2006

nature and death

I was reading some of my old posts from New Mexico and it made me realize how free and joyful I was during the time there. It really is different back here in suburbia and I miss nature. I don't just take off and walk in the afternoons and dangle my feet over the mountain ledge, or watch the sunset. Or the stars. Or the sunrise. Or awaken to the yip of coyotes. It is a different world, this suburban jungle. I was walking to my mailbox today - about 50 feet from my front door - and just thinking how ugly it is here. I felt like "I don't belong here." I talked to my kids about moving to some land and building a house, but they like it here. For the first time in their life, they have friends to play with just down the street and they have people over all the time. I'm torn, as they have the country life with Matt's home and I travel enough to get my nature. Maybe I just need something different but still with people close by. I miss nature being just outside of my doorstep.

There's a little girl in my daughter's class whose father died a few years ago right before school started. It was the first year my kids had gone to this school, so I had never met her dad. Today I saw a plaque that said "in loving memory" of her father and it just made my heart break. It makes me sad because life just goes on, you know. For a child, how can you comprehend the immenseness of a loss that large? None of her peers can really understand what it must be like, and so she must internalize it to some degree as I'm sure she can't just sit and talk about it or cry about it as an adult would with friends and family. I know as an adult, you grieve the loss of a loved one for years. Yet a child can't just go into a deep depression (which I believe, if temporary, is a natural part of the grieving cycle). She just carries on as if nothing had happened almost. Yet we humans can be so strong. We can overcome so much, but most often we don't - we internalize and don't learn how to move on and become stronger from adversity - we get stuck replaying those childhood traumas for the rest of our lives. I pray it isn't so for this little lady, as she is smart and funny and has so much going for her.

overall things are going well, just trying to keep all the balls juggling and balanced - have slipped some but they're still juggling! I find it interesting that as my new year resolution is to be closer to God and I am working on this (have set aside mornings to pray and read the bible every day - and have except for i think 2 days), that i also have found other aspects happening naturally. I didn't make health or friendships or finances a "resolution" because i want to put God first and let all else follow. but I've found I'm naturally falling into things that are along those lines - and it seems to me to honor God to take care of my body through eating healthier and choosing products more in line with what I believe to be environmentally and socially responsible products, and to develop my friendships more closely, and to work on a solid financial plan. all these things have been blessings already in this new year.

I'm excited about cooking again for the first time in a long time, and about some get togethers with friends I've planned, and about some very cool articles i'm writing this year. there is much to look forward to! and much work to do. i love the freedom of working for myself!

Monday, January 16, 2006

hats off to MLK

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

I heard Martin Luther King Jr's speech on the radio - twice in fact today. The first time I was in the auto shop waiting on my car and I mentioned it to the kids, who said they didn't care and so I explained to them its importance and his importance in our nation's history. The private school they go to has a mix of black, white, and Hispanic kids and I really enjoy the diversity aspect of it for a private school. I love that my children will grow up and not see black children as "other" than them, that they will know they are just people like them with a different skin color, but they are friends and peers with them in a way that even I wasn't in the 1970s and 1980s growing up. My kids seemed more interested when I pointed it out to them.

My son has been asking why we don't have any black people in our church and I don't know what to say to that question. I have heard it said that the church is the last of the segregated places. I don't know why but I do know that Kingwood Texas is pretty pasty white though that is changing. It's not that it's purposefully segregated. I remember hearing a friend of mine (not a close friend and I don't keep in touch with her anymore) say she was looking at houses and she liked one but there were black neighbors, and she said "I don't have a problem with black people. I just don't really want them to live next to me." I was shocked! And disgusted!

I am thankful that neither of my parents were discriminatory in any way and I grew up not seeing black people as any different than me on the inside. In fact I rather think people of culture have a lot of strength that some whites just don't have. My first boyfriend was dark-skinned, I think he was from Barbados or something. Kind of Tony Kanal coloring. I grew up listening to funk, and steeped in its culture by my dad - Bootsy Collins, Rick James, etc. My first concert was Rick James in 5th grade - Superfreak, yea! :) Woohoo! I had just moved back to live with my mom, and he was coming to Dallas and I told her I just HAD to go see him! So we went: my brother, my mother and me. My mom said we were the only white people there (I didn't even notice). I do remember him coming on stage with a gigantic joint. I mean several people had to hold it! LOL.

Anyway the second time I heard the speech I was heading to church for a care group meeting and it brought tears to my eyes. He is such an inspirational leader and our nation is truly blessed that he lived.

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

"I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."

Amen to that.

sisterhood of the lemonheads

Today is Day 10 of the Lemonade Cleanse, and I am truly grateful for my sisters in lemonhead-hood Daline and Amy. On there is a group of people who have done the cleanse who refer to themselves as lemonheads. I thought that was pretty funny. I only meant to go 7 days, but the book by Stanley Burroughs recommends a minimum of 10 so I decided to stick it out. Honestly I only intended to try it for a few days, maybe 3 or 4. I had no idea I would feel this good or stick it out this long. As my son said "I didn't know you could live on lemonade for that long!" LOL.

Well the lemonade has a lot of sugars from the natural maple syrup, vitamins in the form of freshly squeezed lemons and cayenne pepper. You can apparently fast on it for quite some time. I think 10 days is enough for me, and I'm going to start the transition where today I drink some orange juice, then tomorrow I have OJ and homemade vegetable soup. It's been so cool to have two friends to share stories about what's happening to our bodies and our thoughts and to share what we've read about in terms of detox issues and health issues, and to motivate one another to continue in a healthy lifestyle. I'm going to try to do shorter detox cleanses for each organ system - where you have herbal tonics and foods that target a specific organ. First I'm going to get on a normal, albeit healthier, eating plan again!

I put the photo of my rice steamer with all the fresh veggies cut up and the glass jars filled with bulk items and it just looks so vibrant and healthy and yummy (it's on 1/8) and I also put a photo of my candlelit bath on 1/12. I am now in the habit of taking all my showers by candlelight and it's so much more peaceful.

This is something interesting:
You can diagnose some of your ailments using a tongue analysis! Of course you would have to go to an actual naturopathic doctor to get a formal analysis but this site was very interesting. During detox most people develop a white/yellow coating on the tongue that is normally present during illness but occurs during detox because you're clearing out all the built up residues in your body and they leave through every organ system (skin, elimination, and apparently the tongue). Supposedly the coating will clear up and the tongue will turn pink again when the detox is complete but I still have a bit of a coating although it appears to be less than a few days ago. Interesting... It will be interesting to observe as I get back on normal food what happens.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

spam and balls of string

Since I've switched ISPs I've been getting more SPAM. Not much, but more is slipping through the cracks. These just crack me up.

Sent from the "Admissions Office" (never mind that it doesn't say what university):

"Happy Holidays. We are happy to inform you that thanks to a private nomination, you are now eligible to obtain an official University Degree."

Wow! I'm eligible to receive a university degree! LOL. Is this one of those mail-order diplomas? I can't believe people actually would fall for this kind of stupidity. Then again, this is an insane day and age, when people believe things like that dinosaurs roamed the earth with people...Any day the President of the Flat Earth Society is going to run for election or something.

And today, I got a Spam that says I should "Build my family, make kids with Spermamax." What a name! The sad thing is it preys on people who maybe have infertility problems and obviously it's some crank.

Lately I have found myself annoyed very easily at people who are either doing something that annoys me (lol) or who are incompetent or otherwise frustrating. There was this really nice guy at TD Waterhouse who was helping me set up my account on Quicken and the guy was in the department that helps people with this specific task, and he was reading the manual and had never used the program! And of every time I've called (about 7) I've only ever gotten one guy who knew it backwards and forwards (and go figure, the phone got disconnected and I didn't get his name). Why do these companies not train their people to know what the heck they are doing? The nice guy ended up almost making me lose all my files by making me create a new file instead of a new account within the file. Fortunately I figured it out.

Then there are people who I care about or work with or other situations that are just frustrating me to no end. I am one to speak my mind, and sometimes that gets me into trouble. I am trying to impose a 24-hour email rule on myself. I see vast improvements in certain areas of my life, including that of patience, but on the other hand sometimes it truly is a dance, an untangling of string, this journey of spiritual and emotional maturation.

Today I really thought about the analogy of untangling a ball of string. Sometimes you have to go backwards to get the tangle out. If you fight against the backing up direction, and pull straight toward the direction you ultimately want to go, you will end up with a knot, not an untangled ball of string. I think that my impatience with people comes with seeing behaviors that cross my boundaries- judging me, codependence, lack of true communication, denial, narcissism, tunnel vision, seeing only their perspective. I think that my change in response is indeed growth in this area, as when someone does something that maybe hurt my feelings or annoyed me in the past I'd get upset or try to do everything to fix the situation. I still try to live at peace with all people, insofar as it is possible with me, but now I don't depend on people's approval as much, and I don't really care if I say something that offends someone else if that is an inevitable result of my marking my own boundaries and stating my truth and standing up for what I believe to be right, or right for me. If someone's narcissism is darkening my world, it's better for me to remove myself from the situation and distance myself from that person even if it's someone I love.

I am past the point where these kind of things make me upset or sad, where I'd cry or be sad about it. Does that just mean I am jaded or hardened? I don't think so. I know that relationships will have bumps, and you just state your truth and work it out. If the other person can't listen then that conversation is over. If they do, then you can have real dialogue. But maybe I am too quick with my jabby responses when someone responds in a way I don't like. So I need to work on that 24 hour rule... Because it always comes across worse than I feel it in my heart. My annoyance is usually short-lived and easily fixed, but sometimes you do have to distance yourself from negative people. There is always prayer, which I do believe is a powerful way to influence the world. Skeptics may not agree, but prayer is a beautiful, peaceful way to put forth positive loving desires into our own hearts and minds and into the world's collective conscience and before the throne of God.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

lemonade and computers

Four days on lemonade and I'm surprisingly energetic! Maple syrup has a lot of calories, and lemon and cayenne pepper provide the vitamins. It has been great having two friends doing this at the same time to compare notes with. I think that it's not necessarily the lemonade as some super tonic but the act of abstaining from all the junk in our SAD (Standard American Diet) that benefits the body. Preservatives, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and even all the healthful foods that can cause subtle allergies in some people that we may not even recognize (gluten/wheat, dairy, etc). So by ridding the body of these for several days, the body can begin to function healthily. I think I will be far more conscious of what goes in my body and I've already started throwing out a lot of things in my fridge that have yukky ingredients. Amy and I have done yoga and went to the steam room at a couple places and it's been great. We are using our complementary 30-minutes free in the Spa as a reward for completing 7 days! It's too bad Daline can't come and join the celebration since she is in Moab!

My computer went on the fritz last night - NOT GOOD! It was in this weird endless loop where Windows would not load, even in Safe Mode. Being the persistent little bugger that I am, I tried it over and over about 15 times and wha-la! Miraculously one time it started in safe mode!! I was able to then go back and select an earlier version of Windows that was operating properly. Now it has installed updates and I'm concerned it will crash again. I keep telling it not to reboot. Lord, have mercy! :) I am meanwhile frantically backing up everything on CD. In fact, I also had bought an External Hard Drive and had JUST backed everything up - but I honestly don't know if it worked, and I've also just learned that you have to pay someone to retrieve all the darn info if you need it! How lame is that? Seems easier just to have backups of the critical docs on CD.

Monday, January 09, 2006

shameless plug - free $250 Starbuck's card...

You can get a $250 free Starbucks card by completing this, but for ME to get mine, I need 5 people to sign up for this - you have to complete at least one offer - some cost $ and some are like a credit card or AOL Trial - you can cancel them right away. What I did was the Free Coffee Roasters thing b/c you get a free Cuisinhart coffee maker and coffee bean grinder for $29, and then you can cancel the membership after that (I have done this with Gevalia) so you don't have to keep paying for the coffee (unless you like it...)

I'm begging you - hee hee :) I could really use some Starbuck's coffee when I get off this Master Cleanse!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

weirdest place to put cayenne pepper

Weirdest place to put cayenne pepper: lemonade.

I am doing a Master Cleanse, which is otherwise known as the Lemonade Diet. It's really not a "diet" because it's not for the purpose of losing weight but for purifying and cleansing out one's body and organ systems. I am doing it with my friends Daline and Amy for up to 7 days, so we are providing support for one another. In the morning you do a sea salt water cleanse, and I tell you, it cleans you out!

I did a Detox Diet for 4 days prior to this, which was eating all vegetables, fruit and whole grains and avoiding wheat or wheat relatives (no oats, barley). I ate buckwheat and quinoa (keen-wa - one of those words that once you know how to say it, you still want to say it the other way like kwin-o-a). I loved cutting up all the veggies and seeing them in the steamer - they just looked so wholesome and delicious (and were!). I had already given up coffee and Diet Coke on the Detox so it has not been bad going on the Master Cleanse at all (some experience some bad side effectis of headache, etc the first day or two). On the Detox I had a really bad headache the first couple days. Now I am fine, just hungry! The lemonade has 1 1/4 cup of maple syrup and organic lemons juiced up fresh (with pulp) and cayenne pepper. I'm not starving, just wanting food. I'm coming to recognize how much the act of eating and food are comfort to me.

Amy and I took a trek down to Whole Foods - I had never been to the Houston Store - and my thought was just like, this is home!!! Heaven! I like the cool granola people that shop there even - in Oregon everyone is like that, just about. But in suburban Houston I am hard pressed to find like-minded folks. Greenies. Outdoor enthusiasts. Hippie-types. Bohemians! Adventurers! I must go back. :) Anyway so I got some things for the lemonade cleanse, but also some snacks for our hike.

After our shopping foray, we next went hiking in Brazos Bend State Park. I'll upload some photos soon (after my computer stops backing up - it is taking 2 days! It's ridiculous!). We went walking around some old bends of the Brazos river but I think next time I'd like to go in the forested part more. It was a gorgeous day - the weather has been up to 70 degrees here in Houston! I guess this is our global warming winter. Amy and I had been talking about going hiking for, oh 9 months or so! Maybe even more. I am committed to doing more outdoor fun things and social gatherings this year with those who I've been wanting to catch up with!

Later today, I am going to soak in the wood room sauna with Amy... helps purify the system even more. To great health in 2006!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

a holtcamp holiday

A few photos from the Holtcamp family Christmas
Christmas Eve
Matt came over Christmas Eve and the kids opened his gifts. This is Savannah opening a gift with Sam watching.
For Christmas Eve dinner I made ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, spinach, and we had sparkling cranberry juice! This is the nativity on the dining table. Savannah thought it would make a good centerpiece.
Christmas Day Sam playing with some dinosaurs, turtles, and lizards he got.
First thing Christmas morn, the kids woke up to some gifts under the tree. 
Making a gingerbread house.
Savannah working on part of the gingerbread house.Expecto petronus! Laughter is good medicine!
We made beaded snowflake ornaments and snacked on cheese, crackers, and leftover ham.

draw near to God

Although there are numerous things I would like to resolve in 2006, ranging from financial to career goals to eating healthier and purchasing greener, I decided a few days ago that the only new year's resolution I am going to make is a singular resolution to draw closer to God, to really know God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and to love God more and let all else follow.

When Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment he answered, Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Mark 12:30) I find the way this is stated so beautiful. My reasoning behind my resolution is also rooted in Scripture in a part where Jesus is teaching about not worrying (which is definitely one of my weaknesses):

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and all these things will be given to you as well." Luke 12:27-34.

Because I vacillate between faith that everything will be ok and worry (reflected in my talk to my kids and friends), I feel I need to draw closer to God (Come near to God and he will come near to you, James 4:8). I can't manufacture a lack of anxiety on my own since faith itself comes from God -- as do all fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, Galatians 5:22).

So I thought about how I could get to know God, to really know more. I have done a dozen Bible studies, and I have read a lot of the Bible, and a lot of sections or books multiple times but never cover to cover. So I have decided to read the Bible through from beginning to end, and really think about it all as I read. I'm taking notes in a journal as to my thoughts and I may start a blog on it.