Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Willing to Wander

I’m a big believer in pilgrimages—whether it’s to the Mekong River to watch for “dragon fire”, or a mountaintop in Spain where the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared, or a dirt road in rural Missouri where a “spooklight” dances, or the deep silence of the woods around a Trappist abbey in rural Oregon. My own understanding of a pilgrimage is that of a quest—I try to take a route I haven’t taken before to a place I’ve never been before, where an answer to a question may or may not be waiting. I’ve discovered that risk and openness usually bring a surprising gift.
When I visited the Trappist abbey recently, the weather was perfect, the hiking trails lush, and the sounds of forest creatures and burbling streams and wind sighing in the tree tops a welcome relief from the concrete and traffic of Seattle. The monks started singing at 3:30 in the morning, punctuated the rest of the day with prayer and singing, and finished at 7:30 pm. I tried to sleep as late as 6:30 am, but with bells ringing and other retreatants rising early, it was difficult. It’s only a place you should visit if you’re willing to enter into the “monastic rhythm”—and it’s a little jarring at first coming from the hyperactive outside world. My favorite time of day was the 7:30 pm prayers and songs in the candlelit chapel as a monk pronounced, “Brothers, we are now one day closer to our eternal home. ”That comment sent a shiver down my spine, reminding me that we are all pilgrims, and each day is another mile in the journey. Every day is a new mile we haven’t traveled before—and we don’t really know where our wandering will ultimately lead or what our destination city will look like. I guess that’s what travel used to always be like. Now, we tend to be fully informed and completely connected over the internet before we even take our first step. Yet adventures still await those who are willing to wander. After departing the abbey, I just started driving in the general direction of the Pacific coast. Along the way, I spotted hand-made signs and arrows proclaiming simply, “Monastery.” Naturally, I had to follow. The signs led me along deserted stretches of two-lane highway. I was just about to turn around when I reached another arrow pointing to an unpaved road. The unpaved road dead-ended, and when I stepped out of my car, a beat-up old tom cat came racing out to greet me. Maybe the monks’ silence left the cat starved for conversation. I had arrived at the only Brigittine monastery in the world, where cloistered monks chanted and made chocolate. I took a few moments to pray in the “Our Lady of Consolation” chapel and, of course, I bought some chocolate. For some reason, the winding roads on this little pilgrimage kept depositing me on the doorstep of those hidden ones who are devoting their lives to praying for the rest of us. Apparently, there are even cloistered cats.
Also posted on my blog Strange Islands

I'm dying.

I'm dying. My days are numbered. I realize that we only have a certain amount of days to use at our disposal. When confronting our demise, it can often make us reflect on what we do, where we have been, what we could have done, and what to do with the time we have left.

Now before I cause panic or anyone to wonder about my health, I am okay (as far as I know). I am still waiting on the results of my recent cholesterol test, maybe then my worries may shift. (Sorry Mom if I spooked you.)

I am not in a melancholy state of feeling like a pierced Goth kid who sees death as a perpetually looming reaper. Although it did not help that I awoke with no voice, and a cold like I have not seen in ages, I still am not doing too badly for a 45 year old dude with many miles on him.

I guess what started the inspiration for this installment was indeed the fact that I remained home from work and was watching the Today show. I was watching a segment highlighting the story of a family in which the mother (of 2 young girls) was fighting, to no avail, Stage four cancer. It was heartbreaking as the mother’s main worry was that of the welfare of her children. More so, she lamented missing “moments” with them: proms, weddings, vacations, and grandchildren to name a few.

The piece also highlighted an organization, to which the name momentarily escapes my memory that will help provide vacations, moments mind you, for the families of the terminally ill. They offer them a fond memory and a reprieve from the ravages of the illness for a brief period in time. It warmed my heart, and I commend these people for their fine efforts.

I listened to her newfound wisdom of making the most of the time she had left, and her deepened appreciation for the “small stuff” that used to pass her by. I stopped to reflect on that poignant realization. “Oh my gosh”, I thought. We are ALL dying. Maybe we do not know when exactly, but do we have to become confronted with the finish line to start to practice the wisdom now obtained by the ones who have been informed of their time remaining?

I also thought deeper for a moment. Who are the actual lucky ones here? (With absolute compassion and all due respect) I wondered which life was more coveted: one that is long without awareness to its gifts, or a narrowed timeline with a deepened appreciation of life’s blessings and a love for each individual moment. Quite a toss-up isn’t it?

Without being dark or macabre, I want to remind all that we are indeed dying. This I say without the intent to sadden, but to uplift. Many proceed through their timelines without knowing the date of their departure. That is the way it should go, right? Our schedules, the small stuff, and trivial circumstances flood our days, leaving little room for desire, or urgency for that matter, to take time for the important stuff. The stuff we would so trade a king’s ransom for if we had one more day at the end. More time to do the things we would do, if we all knew our departure time.

Since many of us are lucky (or unlucky, depending on your viewpoint) to not know when we are leaving this earthly plane, perhaps it should truly spark more urgency than less. One who has been handed a terminal health obstacle for example can immediately get on a shift in perspective and start to gain closure, reconnect, or simply appreciate the things we the oblivious procrastinate. Many of us, myself included act as if we are drinking from a never ending well. What if God decided to call us home next week? What if it was tomorrow? What if it was this evening? How would you act? What would you do? Who would you surround yourself with? What are your loose ends?

I realized a few things today:

Time is a precious resource If we compare it to money for example, we can spend it. In both we can dole it out to achieve what we need to do, and trade it for accomplishing things. Like money too, sometimes we trade our resources for wise things, other times not so wise. We can save it. Through planning and frugality, we can economize things we do in order to maintain as much of our precious resources as possible to use at a later time. Both time and money should not all be blown on a whim or foolishly. Lastly though, we can waste it. However the grave difference here is that there is a possibility to make more money, blessed would we be if we found a way to print more time.

Things left undone. Are there experiences that nag at you, calling for you to try? Is there somewhere you have always wished to visit? Is there a class you always wanted to take? Is there a book still unwritten within you? Have you always dreamt of seeing Europe, maybe the ocean, maybe simply another city? If your time was greatly limited, what would you do? Are you a parent? I never heard of a man on his deathbed saying, “Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office!”

Things left unsaid. Do you have any “I love you’s” still trapped inside you? How about any “I miss you’s?” Perhaps you may have accumulated an “I’m sorry” or two. Often we hear of people who regret that they were never able to release the burden of words left unsaid. Take your own inventory. Is there anything that needs to go or be shared?

Many of us do not know exactly when we will leave this big blue marble. Even those who are burdened with physical or health obstacles may not always know the exact time of departure even when knowing their time is more limited than others. I feel that we can all agree if we knew our time was going to be shorter than we expected, we would be prompted to take on an urgency to wring the most life we could out of our remaining moments.

Like the song by Tim McGraw advises: “Live like you're dyin'” Don’t wait until a difficult diagnosis or loss of a friend or loved one, prompts you to an awareness you can engage now in this moment. Although I am not sure if I will try skydiving, I will try my damndest to appreciate my moments here more. I will try to recognize the gifts that lie before me, and will try to be more frugal with my time.

Since I have now spent enough time in front of a computer, I think I will log off and live a little.

This is a re-post from Artisan of the Human Spirit by Tony Anders

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scanning for Updates

   “Windows has important updates to install.” Hmm. Click.
   “You may continue working while Windows prepares updates.” Click. Click.
   “Windows must restart to install updates for programs and services. Save any open files and restart your computer.” Huh? You said I could…
   “Do you want to restart now?” No!
   “Windows must restart to install …” Click. Click. Click. Wait.
   “Windows is configuring update one of three. Do not turn off your computer.” Naughty Beth. Just wait.
   The black laptop screen reflects my image.
   Restart complete.
   “Windows has updated your computer. Click here to see the updates installed.” Go for it. Click.
   “Security Patch KB0..” click.
   Note to God: Um, if I may, did you see that?
   Note to Beth: Reboot.

[also posted on my blog]

A journey of self-discovery

I sat in silence.

The sky engulfed me. So did the greenery.

It was a meditative state ... hearing nothing but the chirping of the birds.

The sound of the breeze in the rustling leaves.

The smell of grass.

Everything kissed by the sun.

I was at peace.

As I cocked my head to the left, I saw the freeway ... glistening metal and glass edifices.
A mass of civilization. People running from Point A to Point B.


Trying to make ends meet. Trying to figure out their purpose in life through their work. Trying to survive in a consumerist battlefield.

Perched up on the green folds of the mountain, I tried to blur it out.

All needs, wants, ambition, goals -- vanished.

Replaced by calm.

It was so real, that it felt surreal.

And then came a flood of questions.

Why didn't I make more time for such escapes from a life that continued to stress me?

have I built a life that continually demands me to be a robot?

Why can I not just leave it all behind?

Why can't I enjoy more time with Nature?

Why can't I just spend days wandering, reflecting, marveling?

Why do I need a routine, a structure to make sense of my existence?

Why can't I just be?


Create my own reality.

I didn't come back with any answers, but the questions keep nagging at me.

When I
know what I really want to do, when I know what brings me contentment, when I know what makes me fulfilled...

What's holding me back?

Is it a false sense of security?

Is it just because?

I don't want to go down the "I don't know" never leads me to any answers, just buys me more time to muster up the courage and ultimately confront my fears.

I want to close some doors and not look back.

I want to open some doors and explore with wild abandon.

One day soon we'll have to sit and talk it through.

I, me, and myself on a journey of self-discovery.

Also posted on my blog.


Introducing myself is never easy.


I suppose I’d better do that 'thing', you know the 'thing', the 'bad thing'. Writing is easy (okay, writing well isn’t, but simply writing is), I can write about my life, I can write about my wife. I can write about my kids, I can write about… Damn, I can’t think of anything useful that rhymes with kids – lids? How often do I write about lids? I’ll consult with my Dr. Seuss thesaurus, and get back to you.

When it comes to writing about that 'thing' though, I draw a blank.

That 'thing' – is me, Glen Staples, the idiot still making sand castles, even though his children have run off to play with a kite.

Sadly then, I have to introduce myself and that involves getting my keyboard to write a bio (the mere mention of that word brings me out in a sweat).

Think back to when you were 18 and had your first car. It was an old style Mini, or something similar. You got it 4th hand and it was a wreck, but it was so much fun. Your mates would all pile in, and you would head off to the coast for the weekend with the cassette player (use Google or Wikipedia if you are too young to know what a cassette player is) blasting out Kiss or Bon Jovi (again Google will help). Another night would see you parking up in the woods with a girl whose name you had already forgotten, and then desperately trying to master the art of bra removal.

That’s not me – I don’t think it ever was.

I’m the 2nd hand Ford you had when you were 20. You had started having ‘relationships’, which could sometimes last months. This meant that you were officially ‘a couple’ and could therefore not go on the weekends to the coast with your mates. Also the excitement of the bra removal had gone, because it was no longer new and her name was on the green strip along the windscreen. However the car stuck by you through all this, got you where you wanted 8 times out of 10 and it had a CD player.

That’s me – not quite so much fun as you hope, but loyal, often dependable and almost, but not quite, modern.

I left home at 16 to join the Royal Navy, where I attempted to have ‘relationships’ with many women around the world, often at the same time and usually unsuccessfully. Eventually, I found a girl foolish enough to take me on, so I left the Navy and settled down to a more normal life.

Now I have two children, a wife and a London commuter’s life, all four of which give me plenty to write about, because there are funny things that you can see in almost all situations if you know how, and where to look.

Check these posts out if you want to see what I mean.


I live in a sit com

Training update #2

These can all be found on my blog

Hopefully, now that I’ve got the introduction out of the way, I can relax and write some more for Writers Rising soon, meanwhile I need to get a cup of tea so that I can sit and read some more about you.

By the way…

I can write about my kids,
I can blink my eye lids,
I can eat the meat of the Krakka-Dakka-Zidz.

Good old Seuss never lets you down in a crisis.

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Swan Song

I am a profoundly unhappy person. It is true and I cannot help it. I try to walk through life counting my blessings and holding to everything I can, no matter how feeble, to help me get by. It is one step at a time, it is grudingly ...I am who I am. Of course I would've wanted to be another person, to live another life but I canot change the facts, no matter how much I try. So, instead of chasing the windmills I have to accept my fate. I know I made a lot of mistakes in life, at least I tried each and every time to go against fate and I failed and I have been paying since. No point to dwell in the past, though. It is done and finished. Now, I have to concentrate on the future. To take my unhappiness and twist it make it work for me the way happiness and contentment work for others. I will do it even if it will be the last thing I'm doing...

Of course I wanted to have a career, a loving husband, a supporting family and community, beauty, wealth and so on. But I don't have them. And what I had, I lost because of my naivete or stupidity.I have only my stuborness and my fantasy, my children, my books, my dreams and God. And my Armageddon, the last battle, my swan song, my writing. And these are the things I cling to with all my strength. Because they are only mine and their doing and un-doing depend only on me. No other.

So I'll take my feelings and my tears and my pain and weave them with the love for God and for my children and the outcome will me my making and only mine. And then I will be able to say "Nothing can hurt me now because I've been hurt so much I made my failure my armor and dissapoinment my sword".

My swan song, verses - my bitterness, melody - my loneliness. I take them all and disolve them in my being. I accept who I am and what I've done. And hold my head high...

Love is the Only Way!

Without love, there is no hope.
Without love, there is no joy.
Without love, there is no solution.
Without love, there is no future.

You may give money.
You may give 'stuff'.
You may talk about love.

But without having love,
They are empty gestures.
Empty like the heart that gives -

Out of duty,
Out of guilt,
Out of confusion.

You will see problem,
After problem.
Suffer pain,
After pain.

Only love can heal.
Forgiving and true.

Love is the only way!

Look at your relationships in this way,
look at your situations today
And ask,
Where am I not loving?

Do not look at him or her to blame.
Only look at them to see the reflection,
of who you are

Are they unhappy?
Are they sad?
Are they mad?

What is it in YOU that is making you project unhappiness?
What is it in YOU that is making you project sadness?
What is it in YOU that is making you project madness?

Remember, Love is the only way!

Post on my blog

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Butterfly Effect

(Taken in full this time from my website, but if you like, I'd love you to drop by my website
Sometimes we  get so caught up in self-righteousness and festering anger that we can lose the present moment.
This weekend, a side of me I don’t like very much reared its ugly head.
Thankfully I was bought back down to Earth by a butterfly.
Yep don’t adjust your goggles, I was literally pulled out of my dark hole by a good old fashioned, wing flapping, flower hopping butterfly!
Who’d have thunk it?
I don’t know if there was a major planetary collision, or if the fairies that took my sleep gave me a severe case of cranky pant-it-is from hell but the last few days I have been in a really bad way.
The Cowboy and I have not been seeing eye to eye, nor have our eye to eyes been seeing much sleep, probably the cause of our eyes not meeting.
We decided a fix of the outdoors might help matters.
We packed up Monte and went for a walk to watch the cricket at the park.
The walk was mostly in silence though inside I was boiling.
Halfway I decided I couldn’t keep it inside anymore and unleashed a can of crankypants.
I picked a fight.
Cowboy failed to respond to my advances.
I could feel my frustration rising rapidly.
My fuse  was about a millimetre long and it short circuited.
Irrationally, I did an about turn and decided I wanted to be on my own.
I started legging it in the opposite direction.
“Where are you going?” Cowboy said bemused, pram in hand
“Home!” I yelled dramatically.
He yelled back to stop being so stupid.
Easily convinced I sauntered back over and decided that I would go along with them, I just wouldn’t talk.
This plan succeeded for about ten seconds before I launched into it again.
The more I spoke the more I became  wrapped up in my self-righteousness and hard done-byness (both legit words).
I had temporarily forgotten that the apple of our eyes, Monte, was right there sitting up in his pram soaking in the parental atmosphere from hell.
Just as I was about to take a short breath and start my next rant, Monte let out a grunt and a point and I noticed he was looking at a butterfly.
“Butterfly!” I said – briefly breaking out of cranky pant mode.
He continued pointing.
I lost where I was in my rant and too looked at the butterfly.
It was a particularly beautiful butterfly exploding with bright colours.
It was not one of those drab little moth like ones that you see everywhere.
It was certainly quite the  extrovert.
This butterfly was working it!
It was shakin’ its butterfly bootie all over the shop,  spinning and fluttering in front of the pram.
As we kept walking I noticed that the butterfly kept up with us.
I was captivated!
I hadn’t noticed at the time, but it had caused me to lose my train of thought.
I had shut-up!
I had never noticed a butterfly hanging around like this before.
For more than half a block it swirled and fluttered in front of us.
I wondered if it was some sort of angel purposefully captivating me to snap me out of my anger-fuelled monologue and into the moment.
Was it a magical butterfly sent to transform me from the ugly creepy crawly that I was acting like into someone more carefree, beautiful and present.
I stopped.
I listened.
I returned to the moment.
I looked around for the first time that day and I really noticed what a beautiful day it was.
I looked down at my son and at Cowboy and took a deep breath. I felt like I had just stepped out of the jaws of hell and how good it was to get out of there!
It was a nice day, I was with my family and we were walking to the park.
That was it!
What the hell had I been on about?
Then just as quick as it appeared the butterfly disappeared.
We went on to have a lovely afternoon watching the cricket. The memory of my angry rants left behind.
When we returned home  I read Monte a book.  A colourful book filled with farm animals.
He kept closing the book up and pointing to the tiny publishers logo on the back of the book.
“Yes, that’s nice” I said returning to show him the cows.
Determined, he would continue to close the book and again, point at the logo.
I had a closer look.
The logo was a little butterfly.
Monte looked at me, I swear, knowingly.
I don’t know if you believe in signs or little messages from beyond, but I am convinced that the butterfly was there to remind me to look at the beauty in the present moment.
It also reminded me that we all have our caterpillar days, the key is to leave them in the past, transform ourselves and look for the beauty in the present moment.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dragon Fire Festival

Hello Writers Rising!
My name is Lynne Walker, and I'm a new contributor, invited by Katherine Jenkins, one of my fellow writers in our Seattle writing group. I'm interested in all kinds of writing, from fiction to non-fiction, including journalism. So I thought I'd start by posting a short travel piece about an unexplained mystery in Thailand. I've been catching up on what you've been writing, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog postings in the days ahead.

The Dragon Fire Festival
The full moon often scalds the Thai landscape with strange surprises, and I find myself holding my breath to see what crawls from the shadows. Who is this emerging from the fields at this dead hour of the night? What is that strange shriek, in a place where no shriek ever has an innocent explanation? I have become a believer--the countryside is riddled with ghosts. And in a small town not too far away, dragon fire erupts from the Mekong River, but only in October, and only when the moon is full.
The fire-breathing dragon apparently spends the entire year resting on the bottom of the Mekong and emerges just once, to show off, on the banks of the chosen town of Phon Phisai. Thousands of locals turn out to wait for the dragon’s breath to rise from the Mekong River. Pink lights burst out of the river on this one night and arc silently into the sky. The town celebrates the dragon’s spectacular display with Bung Fai Payanak (บั้งไฟพญานาค) or the Dragon Fire Festival. The Dragon Fire Parade drums its way down Main Street during the day, and at night a river parade of lighted bamboo floats glides past, to keep the dragon company. This legendary spirit, which some say shielded the Buddha from the rain and sun while he meditated, stirs to life each year at the end of the Buddhist Lent, breathing celebratory fireballs into the sky.
When we arrived in Phon Phisai in the afternoon, the boardwalk along the river was already bustling with people. Vendors hawked dried squid, speckled bird eggs, cotton candy, balloons, grilled chicken, soccer-sized grapefruit, roasted bananas, beer and soda. Wooden boats dotted the tranquil waters of the Mekong, and opposite us shone the lush green coast of Laos.
After eating, we staked out a spot to sit on the riverbanks, and at dusk we heard a piercing whistle. Was it the sound of the dragon rising from the murky Mekong to breathe fire into the sky? No—it was only the introductory fireworks for the evening. In fact, the entire evening was filled with fireworks, from start to finish—enough to frighten any lurking dragon away. Once it was dark, the river parade of floats began (this also can be viewed in Nong Khai). White lights, and in some cases dozens of candles, covered bamboo structures designed to look like ancient Oriental sailing ships and other marvels. Vendors moved through the packed crowd selling noisemakers and coiled dragon puppets with red battery-powered eyes. Paper lanterns drifted higher and higher into the night until their fiery glow vanished. To add to the mystery, the electricity powering the vendors’ stalls along the river kept going off throughout the evening.
I asked one Thai woman if she “believed” in the dragon fire we all were waiting to see.
“I believe,” she said cautiously, and then cracked a sheepish smile.
A group of Thai schoolgirls handed me a survey in English. Do you believe it’s a spirit? the survey asked. Do you think it’s fireworks? Natural gas? Do you think it should be researched?
“By all means, research it,” I agreed.
An excited roar suddenly rippled through the crowd. People stretched and craned their necks to see.
“Mai mee arai,” people murmured all around me in Thai. “Nothing, it was nothing.”
“Do you believe?” a Thai woman inquired, turning the tables on me.
“When I see it, I’ll believe it,” I replied, and everyone around me burst out laughing.
It was wall-to-wall people and a spirited roar swept through the crowd every time a light—any light at all—feebly flickered. A deep rumble began to grow as the crowd pointed and shouted. At last, I saw it—small red lights, arcing into the air like emergency flares or Roman candles, minus sparks or smoke or sound. I zeroed in on a tall American with a camera.
“Oh, sure, I believe,” he said enthusiastically. “It’s definitely something.”
But why were the searchlights from a motorboat in exactly the spot where a pink light had erupted a moment before?
“Police inspectors,” one local told me. “They are making sure no one else is out there. They are inspecting for fraud.”
This quirky detail-- inspectors in motorboats racing about to certify the dragon fire-- seemed completely in keeping with the good-natured spirit of this festival which celebrates an authentic Thai mystery. (posted in greater detail on my blog Strange Islands)

An Open Letter to Little People (Mine Specifically)

by Kristin Brumm (kbxmas)

I was reading one of those stories in the news the other day that I would have glossed over in the past but now that I'm a parent take on a whole new meaning. You know the ones I'm talking about. A man or woman is killed in some freak accident and as you skim the story you find out he/she had young children at home. Shudder the thought.

It got me to think what would happen if I were to meet with unfortunate design and merge with eternity while my kids were still at a tender age. If one were to ask them years down the road what wisdom they had learned at my knee that helped shepherd them into adulthood, they probably would have to give it a hard think and then come up with such as this: “clean your nails, good god”, “lean over your plate so you don't get crumbs in your lap” and “brush now or else.”

It occurred to me that I almost never tell them anything of consequence. Not that kids learn by being told, of course. But in case they ever learn by reading, I thought I'd collect my collective wisdom and put it in once place so that I would have it all ready in the event of my untimely demise or (more likely) untimely institutionalization or (most likely) our children's ability to swiftly disable the parental controls on the computer and discover my blog. Ergo,

An Open Letter to Little People (mine, specifically)

From where you sit now life may seem fairly simple and straightforward and in many respects it is. But as you lean towards adulthood you'll no doubt try to complicate it, because that's what we all do.

For instance, as you grow up you will have many friends who will all have different ideas of what is required to be adored by others. Because you are human, you will for a time play the game of trying to morph yourself into these different ideals. It is my hope that sooner, rather than later, you will learn that the quality which others most respect and find attractive is authenticity, the irony being that once you discover this you will no longer care much what others think.

Many things will seem wildly important to you at different times in your life. But here's something that really is. Find the one thing in life that makes your heart sing and do it and never stop doing it, even if it makes your father and me weep into our pillows at night. We'll get over it.

A well-paying job is lovely. A home is lovely. But before you chase that kind of stability, get out and see the world. One cannot purchase the perspective of life as viewed from beneath a worn rucksack on a lost bit of track somewhere in the Peruvian Andes.

If you're unsure whether or not you should say it, and...
  • you're really angry
  • in a business meeting
  • have had a few too many
  • are talking to an attractive man/woman who's not your significant other
  • are in a chat room
  • are being evaluated for a raise
  • are about to hit reply to all
you probably shouldn't.

If you're unsure whether or not you should say it, and...
  • you're feeling hurt
  • are feeling centered
  • are in therapy
  • are talking to your parents
  • are hooked up to a lie detector test
  • the man/woman of your dreams is about to walk out the door
you probably should.

Things that are a bad idea:
  •  Credit cards for college students
  •  Credit cards in general (unless you pay them off every month)
  •  Thinking, eh, you're okay to drive
  •  Unprotected sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend because my god you love him/her so much and besides, you know it's a safe time of the month
  •  Unprotected sex in general
  •  Drugs, legal or otherwise, prescription or street, your parents' or yours or anyone else's
  •  Owning a firearm (unless you live in the Yukon and need to take down a caribou for your dinner, what the hell are you thinking?)
  •  Tattoos that spell things out
  •  Martyrdom
  •  Whining
  •  Playing the victim
  •  You get the picture

 Things that are a good idea:
  • A degree in the liberal arts (if you really want to go into business get an MBA, but for undergrad go liberal arts; you'll be a better person for it and you will absolutely get a job)
  • Condoms (yes, harp harp)
  • Being the first to apologize -- contrary to popular belief, it takes a bigger person
  • Laughing at yourself
  • Turning off the TV and reading. Lots.
  • Speaking your truth
  • Over and over and over, even when it hurts
  • Accountability
  • Integrity
  • Love over gold
  • Anna, take your calcium

And always, always, you are loved.

That should do for now.

Kristin Brumm writes at Wanderlust

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Acceptance in the moment

Being present is a beginning in living in the now but how one feels in the moment is important to note. Can you reach acceptance in the present moment? How do you feel when you slow down your breathing, still your thoughts, and focus your mind? If you are having a difficult time achieving the bliss and peace so many describe in celebration of each and every moment, see if you can at least reach acceptance.

Acceptance is a beginning. Can you reach a point in every moment of your life, when you stop to focus and really pay attention in the moment, of at least accepting your reality in that moment?

See if you can at least achieve acceptance, not anything else, no emotion, no value judgment of whether it’s a good or bad moment. Just try acceptance in your reality in existence in any given moment, even in those moments where there may be something challenging.
Everyone has to start somewhere.


Introducing Myself

Hail Fellow Writers Rising! My name is Deborah Clarke-Blome, and I am very happy to finally join this wonderful blog at the invitation of my friend, writing group partner, and yoga buddy, Kathy Jenkins. I am an English as a Second Language teacher, mother of a beautiful 11-year old boy, and partner in a very long-term relationship (which is either the same relationship with three or four different people or several different relationships with the same person). I spent the first fifteen years of my life living in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Taiwan with a year or two in between in Pennsylvania and Virginia. About every third summer my family would return to the U.S. and I would catch up on American culture--mostly by watching TV--which we had sparse access to overseas. Although as a child I pined for life in America, I truly treasure my multi-cultural past. In particular, I am grateful for my experiences living in Bangkok in the early 1960’s. Bangkok is my aesthetic root: my imagination was born there and will be forever stamped by the sights, sounds, colors and smells of life in the tropics. I’m still interested in travel, but right now I’m settled in Seattle, WA, giving my son the kind of stable, neighborhood-based childhood that I never had. In different periods of my life I’ve worked on writing fiction, short essays and memoir but have never tried to publish anything. This year I decided to make an effort to be read by others outside my circle of friends.

Cosmic Symphony

Ages ago, a Facebook friend encouraged me to write a blog post about online friendships. I tucked that thought away with intentions of revisiting it when the timing was right. Since then, I have read many blog posts of fellow blog authors discussing this same concept. My own interpretation of this phenomenon is uniquely mine and may stray further from the basic premise than you might expect at first glance.

I look deeply into everything...people, occurrences, music, art, unusual happenings, those breathtaking moments that, should we not take care and choose to look more deeply, we might miss, they're so fleeting. I have been pondering this online gathering of people, looking at it from every angle, nudging with the occasional inquisitive touch, smiling in recognition often and seeing a stunning, crystalline mirrored reflection of strong purpose in the eddying waves that ripple outward from my fingertips.

Each of us is a pebble of sorts in the vast depths of the pools of Facebook and Twitter and whatever new social media forums may be birthed in the future. The strata of social media, once thought to be a flash in the pan fad that would quickly reach its zenith and die a quiet death, has become so richly and deeply layered that I do believe it is time for us to admit it is here to stay. We as a country and indeed, as a world, have embraced Facebook and Twitter to such farflung lengths that most of us are able to claim friendships with wonderful people on practically every continent. I am certainly in this group.

It delights me, this ability that I have to connect with people the world over. And it is this very happenstance that causes me to stop and, as I am wont to do, ponder deeply. I am of the opinion that with this astonishing bandwidth of internet presence, combined with a wide range of social media forums, the world is perhaps as small as it has ever humanly been possible in history to achieve. In mere seconds, we can communicate with someone on the opposite side of the world. The words flash so quickly on our screen that it negates the need to even pick up a phone to communicate.

As I ponder, my mind thinks that perhaps those who dreamed up the concepts of Facebook and Twitter were led by a Higher Power to create a communication device that would, in effect, connect us to those we might never have the chance to meet otherwise. Even here in the U.S., where travel is quite a simple thing to achieve, there are friendships I have developed - valued ones that I cherish - with people that I simply would never have had a chance to stumble across if I had been searching for them somewhere out there in the world on a face to face basis. Yet, in a very purposeful manner, I have been guided with gentle purpose to meet these different people.

Those of like mind, who "speak my language" with such sureness and clarity that it warms me to the very center of my being have cropped up in seemingly random connections or conversation threads....and the blinding, heart-stoppingly beautiful moment of friendship occurs. A remembrance of sorts...that, "Oh, there you are! I've been waiting for you!" kind of recognition that sparkles and shines so brightly that I imagine delicate, yet enduring ethereal threads stretch across the planet to reconnect us. Some of you will read this and nod, immediately grasping my message. Others will find this content to be another whimsical dance out there on the edge of what you find yourself capable or willing to embrace. It matters not how you perceive my words here.

What matters most to me is that I am alive to experience this, and these relationships. The richness of some of the connections, defying all odds to explain many of them, are so powerful that at times I am simply in awe of the gift. Yet, part of me realizes that these happenings are of dynamic design. I have an inner knowing that I will, at some point in the not too distant future, see some of these people, these remembered loves, face to face. I feel a very strong sense of destiny entertwined in these friendships.

A Twitter conversation recently with a remembered friend of my very heart spoke of this very thing....the threads of friendship as they weave across the Cosmos. This dear friend mentioned feeling that Spirit presents a kind of grid for us to interconnect, and I agree with this mindset. There is a curious kind of precision, an almost mathematical dance that is taking place in my life with many of these friendships. I have created several Facebook groups and fan pages where individual groups of people are connecting, and here again, I am forced to stop and ponder the why of this. I have always recognized myself as a facillitator of many things spiritually and energetically related, and it appears that this tendency is making itself known in the cyberworld as well as in everyday Life. Mystical teachings call these patterns Sacred Geometry, shamanistic designs that open the mind and Spirit up to higher levels of energy and learning.

I see all of this trickling down to what many would call a very mundane manifestation in social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter. The beauty and sheer mystery of the connections do not lose a single ounce of unique energy simply because they come together in the flashpoint of social media communication. Indeed, I think that highlights the beauty of it all....and it transports my Soul to recognize it for what I believe it to be....another pathway to connect with those my heart and Spirit recognize far before I am physically able to set eyes on these people.

In my mind's eye, at times I see it all taking place as an elegant, very controlled waltz, with each set carefully placed on a ballroom dance floor of neverending proportions. At other times, I hear a wild Irish jig that wails and spins in a frenzy of fiddles and drums, firing each Soul to flash and fly hither and yon, sparking bright connections with such a rapid pace that the human eye and mind simply cannot comprehend. And then it all coalesces into a physical manifestation of keyboard strokes, mouse clicks, smart phone and laptop screens. I see fine points of light marking each individual Soul, streaking outward leaving a trail of light that interconnects in intricate Mandala-esque patterns. I cannot imagine that this dance is without musical accompaniment. Would that our human ears could actually hear that mystical manifestation that we produce as we whirl throughout this cosmic dance.

We seek, through the medium of art, to create physical interpretations of mathematical and geometric patterns. Mandalas, such as those found in the Buddhist faith, show beautiful, entertwining circles and lyrically flowing curves and loops, depicting what has become an often quoted "circle of life" work of art. I have often thought that these artists' renderings might be our Higher Mind tapping into that Universal Consciousness and creating on canvas and paper, in metal, marble and wood, physical manifestations of experiences remembered by our Souls.

Whatever the inspiration, whatever the Divine purpose behind all of this worldwide connecting of people via social media, I am convinced there is a stronger, deeper purpose at hand than mere entertainment. From a One World perspective, social media is allowing us as a collective people, to cross boundaries and socio-economic barriers via the internet and find ways to communicate and understand one another in a manner that has never been possible in history before. That, in and of itself, is mind boggling when you think about it. The great minds of our modern age spoke eloquently about embracing one another on a loving plane that eschews those barriers and labels. Perhaps social media is yet another stripping away of needless layers allowing us to simply be ourselves and communicate for the simple joy of connecting.

As I warned in the first paragraph of this blog article, I have strayed quite far afield from my Facebook friend's suggestion to blog about "Facebook friends who haven't ever met face to face". I could have simply written a light-hearted post about that fun aspect of social media. I chose, instead, to plumb the depths of esoteric concepts....well, perhaps not the really deep depths, but my own ruminations of how they apply to social media. If you're still with me as I bring these thoughts to a close, you most likely are one of two things - you are a true friend who loves me despite not always "getting" what the heck I'm rambling on about (and if so, I love you in return, more than you can imagine), or you are a friend remembered who "gets" the concepts I am spinning across the page here.

Either way, you have engaged in this journey with me and we have produced another cosmic symphony of sorts, as our combined energies stepped across a crowded ballroom floor. As any proper southern lady would do, I curtsy and spread my skirts in thanks for a lovely moment spent together and cast you a genuine smile as the band strikes up another tune....and the dance continues.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Waking Beauty

Today I feel a pang of emptiness and the world seems grey. This is part and parcel of the Motherhood experience, right?
Awake all night even before the Rooster?
Viewing the world through foggy lenses and a muddled head is what a Mother expects to experience but dreads with all her might.
I am starting to wonder if I might feel a little better accepting this rather than fighting it.
Today my vision is clouded following a wakeful night with my son. He has taken to clinging to me like an orangutan in the night hours.
If I try to deliver him back to his cot he tightens his grip and burrows his monkey-head into my shoulder pleading with me not to leave him.
I cannot find the strength to leave him alone screaming in his cot, so  I lie awake as he drapes across my body and sleeps – scared to move a muscle.
It reminds me of the years before baby when I used to have a cat that draped luxuriously across my double bed while I scrunched in a corner.
Your comfort comes first, your Majesty
There is no doubt about it, being tired is hard.
When tired the world looks different. Patience is tested,  reactions exaggerated, the drama of small things magnified.
“You need to get sleep in order to be a better mother”
Ideally, yes!
But this is like the mirage in the dessert. I think Motherhood is easier if we stop running so hard to reach the imaginary puddle of water...
Rest of story here