Friday, February 29, 2008


I have come to realize that my kids are very literal about things. It has been fun to test this theory out. I have two instances recently that have proved this to be true. The other day, I encouraged the kids to go to the dining room table because there were cookies "with their name written all over them". They came back saying, that none of the cookies had names on them. I then said, "Well, I guess we can't eat them then.....".

On another occasion, I was warning Alea that she should do what I was asking her to and that if she didn't do it I would know because I have eyes in the back of my head. She first looked concerned and moved toward my head and then decided to test my abilities by asking, "Ok then, if you have eyes on the back of your head, what is outside this window?" I replied, "A tree". I was correct. A quizzical look followed. Yes, I am amazing, just give in to that thought........

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Mary" Christmas

As we were driving along, in one of those quiet contemplative moments, Kye posed a question, "Mom, why is it "Mary" Christmas?" I replied, "Well, it is a different way of saying Happy Christmas." Kye retorts, "Yeah, so why don't they just say that?"

A good question. How does one answer that? So, I researched it on the internet and this is what I found- not conclusive, but something.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Dad Might Be Right (?)

Well, I bought a paper when I was in Albuquerque - I was on a quest to purchase a Wii for my kids and needed the circulars. No luck with the Wii but I did read the Parade Magazine in the Albuquerque Journal. It's top story was titled: "Who is the World's Worst Dictator, Our Annual Top 10. I was intrigued to say the least. The article included pictures, defined what kind of atrocities the dictator was currently engaged in and also identified how the U.S.A. is linked to the country being described.

What was shocking to me was that we are giving aid and business dollars to each of these countries in some way, shape or form- very discouraging to say the least. I know there are times when you may overlook something to get what you want, but the things these dictators do cannot be overlooked- unless you are unaware. Atrocities on the list include, but are not limited to: no access to information; all government propaganda, collective punishment- 3 generations getting punished for one member's alleged crime, labor camps, firing at crowds gathered to protest, women not being able to seek medical care without a male guardian's permission, forced abortions, limiting practice of religion, public hangings, and many others.

So it is my goal to be more aware of where we purchase things from and consciously choose to boycott those countries that fall in these categories. I know there is much more we need to do to really resolve the problem, but this is the first step for me. My dad would agree that we should not buy foreign products and only support the US economy. We came to this conclusion from different angles- but it is worth mentioning that we agree on this one.

One thing we don't completely agree on is seeking out new energy resources for cars and other oil dependent products. I think we need to aggressively put dollars toward research and development to increase our options. Papa believes that there are enough oil resources (in the US) to last a long time and we need to just be willing to drill for it.

I guess I would like us to become as diversified as possible, having choices and not feeling like we "have to" compromise our values by purchasing oil or other products from these dictatorships.

By the way, the top 10 worst dictators according to the Albuquerque Journal are:
1. Kim Jong-IL North Korea
2. Omar Al-Bashir Sudan
3. Than Shwe Burma
4. King Abdullah Saudi Arabia
5. Hu Jintao China
6. Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe
7. Sayyid Ali Khamenei Iran
8. Pervez Musharraf Pakistan
9. Islam Karimov Uzbekistan
10. Isayas Afewerki Eritrea

I am going to need to get a world map out for some of these countries- never heard of Eritrea before.

So, right now, I know I can keep this list with me at the store and be more discerning about my purchases. By the way, there are many more countries that have abhorrent practices- these are just the 10 worst according to Parade magazine. If you are interested in the whole article you can access it here. It is a good read and very informative.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I was at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History recently while visiting my sister and came to a realization as I gazed upon beautiful objects and paintings. As I looked at the beauty around me I acknowledged a desire to allow in my life only those things that have these qualities:

1. Is it functional?
2. Does it add beauty to my life?
3. Does it bring me inspiration?

In considering these things I would like to choose the objects that hold as many of these qualities as possible and I believe there will be no need to invite an object into my world that does not have any of these qualities.

Recently, I went camera shopping and found myself considering this very criteria. My sister DeeDee suggested a particular camera that has served her well and is very functional. I held this camera and recognized that it was of good quality and would do the job for me but, I realized that I did not like the look of it. I am not usually one to be picky about these things and was surprised by my own reaction- I was actually encouraging myself to spend a little more to get what I wanted- something functional as well as beautiful (in my eyes).

A camera is something that will be with me for a long while and I want to look forward to reaching for it. I don't want a lingering feeling that I really desired something else.

By the way, I learned something about cameras- the memory card speed is a big factor regarding lag time between pictures. This has detracted me from fully appreciating digital cameras in the past and I was pleased to find out that it is a relatively simple solution. So, if your camera takes too long between pictures to gear up for the next picture, purchase a different memory card- it just may do the trick!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lenten Promises

A friend of mine asked me if I was "doing anything" for Lent. Coming from a long tradition of Catholicism this was a very appropriate question. As Catholics (and other traditions) we are asked to consider giving up something that we enjoy or to do something that would represent a sacrifice to remind ourselves of the sacrifice that Jesus gave to us by dying on the cross. In years past, I would give up chocolate or make a commitment of service to someone in need. (And, as true friends of mine know, giving up chocolate is nothing to sneeze at :-)

But, as I was prayerfully thinking about this this year, a strange thing happened. The answer was a non-traditional one. Initially I brushed the idea away and lazily continued with my day. Then I realized that the sacrifice that was presenting itself was a difficult one indeed- and my initial dismissal might really be one of cowardice.

I will attempt to share with you what came to me, but I am not sure I completely understand it or can fully articulate it. You see, it has to do with thoughts and thought processes.

When I feel judged by others (rightly or wrongly) I have a compulsive thought process that consumes my energy. It remains there even when I am not purposefully concentrating on it. It has something to do with not being able to let go of the other person's judgement of me. Stuck in a limbo place of wanting feedback, yet not getting lost in the feedback; hurt that they would think such things of me and feeling wronged by their assessment.

Many times, I am able to deal with criticism - this obsessive dynamic comes only when the person, after being somehow wronged by me, labels me as a "bad person". If the criticism is rooted in an action or behavior of mine, I usually can either change the behavior or determine that it is a difference of opinion and move forward. It is when the person couples one of my behaviors with a motive or a judgement that it really throws me.

I guess God is asking me to let go of this fruitless process. I just end up fretting or toggaling between rationalizations, insecurity and despair. I am sure most people go through this process but I know for a fact that my process, in this way, does not help me- at all.

So to let go:
~I need to let go of the idea that I can be all things for all people.
y~I need to let go of the notion that I should automatically and inequivicably take outside criticism while ignoring my own internal guide or judgement.
~I need to let go of the wish to be accepted by others- some people will not be that into me or
may not see me the way I hope that they would.
~I need to let go of the obsessive thoughts that come with trying to problem solve- sometimes,
problems cannot be resolved.
~And, sometimes I need to let go of people in my life that contribute to this thought process, it just may be that the chemistry between myself and them is such that it does not work.

I mean, if a person makes me out to be a bad guy and cannot see anything different- how does it serve me to be with them? I think I need to ask if any amount of work or problem solving really will make things better? If not, it may be time to move on. I suppose it would make a difference if these folks wanted to reconcile and were open to a better connection. Sometimes people are not ready- and that stands for me too.

For the record, I only have this particular situation with 3 people in my life. And for each, the situation is different and probably will take a different course of action. For what it is worth, I think it will take some form of letting go to move forward with each of them. I think it may be necessary to let go of the current situation in order to realize something new or healthy in the future.

The other element I am recognizing is that I am trying to give love where there is judgement and try to change energy that way. I think I need more prayer to figure out how to let go and I feel fortunate to have discerned what my Lenten promise should be- now to the actual practice.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Buffalo in Me

I spent the day in Olde Town in Albuquerque, New Mexico today with my sister Alanna and her good friend Jeff. We had a lovely traditional mexican lunch and visited a few of the local artist shops. I found a few items to give to the kids as souvenir gifts. Each shop had signature items that represented true New Mexico; colorful pottery, beautiful jewelry and folk artistry abounded there. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was a good one for galavanting.

The very last store we visited was called Garden Critters of New Mexico. Metal sculptures, ornaments and wall hangings were everywhere. Some of the sculptures were coated with color, others were either the natural silver color or the copper coloring. Many of the sculptures were created to be put in a garden setting. Suns, animals, heiroglyphic designs and other various shapes covered the walls, tables and other surfaces (including a christmas tree). As I looked around, I did not have any particular aim in mind- just drank it all in. I was attracted to some of the sun sculptures, a dual toned cross and then, after perusing much of the store, I saw a copper buffalo.

My first reaction was one of avoidance. You see a good friend of mine has likened me to a buffalo and the thought and intent of the reference was not one of admiration- more like a criticism. So the metal representation of this reminded me of his assessment. I think, at the time of description, he was expressing the qualities of the buffalo that may include- not being unaware of smaller creatures or things, bumbling through life, stomping on those smaller than itself. I don't think he was supposing that buffalos intend to stomp on others, just that is what happens when a buffalo walks through life. In short, If you want to hang out with a buffalo, you better get out of the way when it starts to walking because it may not notice you in it's path.

This image of me was not flattering to say the least. It maybe suggests that I am not empathetic or observant; that I am clumsy, or not capable of recognizing nuance in life. Or maybe that I may not have an appreciation for "those smaller than me". Either way that description gave me an impetus to pause and reflect. Do I devalue others? I would never want to somehow make someone feel small through my actions. Am I just roaring through life not aware of the hurt I cause? Do I express appreciation for people in my life, for who they are and where they are? All good questions, and I am thankful that my friend felt safe enough to give me this feedback.

Being in New Mexico, near Native American tribes brought me to some memories of a camp I developed that incorporated Native American symbolism. I remember the buffalo being one of those symbols- a very positive one, so I thought I would research it again, hoping to gain a different perspective. My search took me to a website that shares the symbolism of many animals in the Native American tradition.
This is what it says about the buffalo:

Buffalo: sacredness, life, abundance

Buffalo is considered by many tribes as a symbol of abundance: its meat fed the people, skins were used for clothing and covering, bones and sinew were crafted as survival tools, hooves were converted into glue. According to Lakota tradition, White Buffalo Calf Woman gave them the Sacred Pipe, promising abundance as long as they prayed to the Great Spirit and honored All Their Relations, that is, all other creations of nature. Buffalo's Medicine symbolizes an honor, reverence or special love for all things that Mother Earth offers her children. It is also knowing that abundance is present when all relations are honored as sacred, and when gratitude is expressed to every living part of Creation. Buffalo signals a moment to reconnect with the meaning of life and the value of peace, to praise the gifts you already have, and to recognize and honor the sacredness of all paths, though they may be different than yours."

It is my hope that I could emulate the buffalo in this way. How wonderful it would be if we would all try to connect with the meaning of life, the value of peace, praise the gifts we already have and honor the sacredness of all paths. In many ways, I try to practice these principles, I don't pretend to get it right, but in my heart I try.

If I have somehow stomped on you or did not notice your energy or your contribution, know that I am interested in you and want to know your story and I strive to really honor the sacredness of your path. I am sure ego or zealousness, or momentum get in the way. A little pinch might do the trick to bring me to reality (or maybe just tell me how I am coming across).

Ultimately, I would want the buffalo in me to reflect the positive qualities described within the Native American tradition and not the person my dear friend describes. I am a work in progress.