Thursday, April 29

Points of View

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake quotes from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Monday, April 26

Stepping Stones

I watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie last night. It was "When Love is Not Enought - the Lois Wilson Story." This story was almost too painful to watch, so much so, that I was relieved when the commercials came on.

Lois Wilson is one of the most important founders of the Twelve Step movement. She focused on the damage to family and friends affected by the drinking of another person by simply modifying and applying the principles of the program to fit the obsessive, controlling and warped minds, bodies and spirits of those affected by the alcoholic. Her tenacity, kindness and common sense started the Alanon program, a companion to Alcoholic Anonymous that ensures healing and spiritual progress for everyone.

What was most striking about this story is the crushing reality that love does not conquer all and that addiction is not only devestating but also contagious. This program and it's companion piece, "Bill W," should be required watching for all families. These pioneers of the "self help" movement sacrificed their lives to pave the way for the rest of us. Through this brilliant program and by their actions, they showed us that redemption is not in being a missionary but in being of service with a hand out and a hand up when there is no where else to go.

It works if you work it.

Thursday, April 22

As the World Turns

"What does biodegradable mean, Mom? I was helping my mother do laundry one day when I was in grade school and noticed this word on a box of laundry detergent.

"It means that once the soap goes down the sink, it dissolves and does not gum up the septic tank or sewer system. It's better for the earth and water." She explained.

My parents seemed to be aware of the benefits of taking care of the environment many years ago, particularly when an item "gummed up" the pipes or septic tank and caused problems and expensive repairs. I would guess that my parent's generation were practical first and altruistic second. Times have not change.

Our family has a hybrid car, we use biodegradable soaps, compact fluorescent lights, and try to remember to turn off power/lights when not in use. I'd like to say my first motivation is to save the earth, but honesty compels me to admit that the cost of gasoline, heating and cooling our home, and minimizing repairs is what really drives our desire to look for eco friendly solutions. Using cold water to wash clothes saves money and uses less fuel. Using less water, saves money and protects our water supply. Using a hybrid car, while expensive initially, saves money in the long run and uses less fossil fuels - reducing air pollution. So these actions are not only altruistic but self serving, in a good way.

Years ago, sorting through household trash to find recycle items was a royal pain. Finding things that biodegrade or have a low carbon footprint used to be difficult at best. And, advertising promoted disposing of anything old whether it still worked or not. Times have changed, and we can all thank environmental activists for not giving up.

Most cities now provide easy ways to sort and recycle glass, metal, paper and some plastics. Reducing waste, Reusing and/or re purposing items, and recycling has become second nature to us. Our children do not even think twice about this concept. Many of them bring their own cups to Starbucks and swap books, magazines, software, almost anything through such organizations as Freecycle. I have gotten so used to bringing my own reusable bags shopping, that I feel weird when I leave home without my own bag(s).

There are many more things we can do to improve our environment and save ourselves money. I just googled "ecofriendly" and there are hundreds of ways to love our mother earth and ourselves - can't have one without the other!

May all beings know health and peace.

Thursday, April 15

Cracked Pots

"It is no accident that following the news has become our life. Advertisers, the media, movie producers, and politicians know that fear captivates an audience and motivates them to stay tuned, buy the product, vote for the politician who is pushing the greatest fears, and join the group that promises the most protection. Fear is addicting, and the policymakers of all organizations know it. The pushers of fear are selling a product, and we have bought it wholesale." - from the book, "Fearproof Your Life," by Joseph Bailey

Joe Bailey wrote a good book. I recommend it to anyone interested in identifying fears and finding the courage to face them. I believe that America is obsessed with hurt. Everything hurts us. Our waters, skies, air, food, mothers, fathers, children, pets, priests, thoughts, ad naseum are sources of dire pain. We not only fear death, we fear life as well. Fear thrills us. Defiance is our outlet, but most of us are defiance-voyeurs, not really wanting to "fight the dragon" ourselves. For those that fight dragons, I applaud their energy. There is a lot wrong in this world and sometimes one must fight to make corrections or create a better world.

When the teabaggers first entered the political fray, I was intrigued and interested in their "dragon slayer" ranting. What bigger dragon is there than a greed-based banking system. The bank bailouts instituted by Bush II and executed by former Goldman Sachs CEO Paulson, then Treasury Secretary, were so sickening and mind boggling that everyone looked at the baggers and said, "Hell Yeah!" Americans are fed up with the rich getting richer on the backs of the peasant/workers and the arrogance of the wall street banks with their private jets, multi million dollar CEO bonuses harken back to pre-French Revolutionary days when the clueless aristocracy suggested eating cake if bread is not available. All the tri cornered hats, costumes, catchy phrases made for good street theater. The only problem with these performances is that the teabagger movement does not offer any viable solutions or alternatives.

To make matters worse, around the time of the Obama election, the sore losers in the Republican Party infiltrated the movement with quitter Palin spearheading the takeover and presto-chango, every Republican hypocrite and their media mogul pimps jumped on the bandwagon. The teabaggers became a big tent for birthers, birchers and other mega-right-wingnuts, and anyone who doesn't like Obama. Repugnatan mouthpieces roused the rabble by lying about health care reform, by spouting half truths about the extent of our tax burden, and by needlessly fear mongering to get an extra buck, or extra vote . What do all of these players have in common - fear. Just like the televangelists they emulate, hell fire, brimstone, conspiracy, self hatred (erm, hatred period) is the foundation upon which the church-of-the- almighty-dollar-saves-your-ass is built.

They fear "big government" but only when it helps the "lower" classes, apparently. It was okay for GWB to create the third largest federal government department, Homeland Security, while pushing through two tax cuts for the richest in the land, and funding two costly, needless wars. Did the "baggies" do the math back then? Thimk peeple - two wars at a billion dollars a week, two tax cuts that ".., cover less than ten percent of their long term costs.." and increases in federal government spending on "security" = Deficits. Oh, and before good ol GWB left office, he left a fiery pile of financial poo on Obama's doorstep - the collapse of the financial system and resulting bail out. Like father like son - two financial industry bail outs at taxpayer expense in one family - must be genetic. The baggers don't demonize Bush I and II - just Obama.

The cause of this economic disaster is the 1999 passage of the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act .

This legislation ".., repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, opening up the market among banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies. The Glass-Steagall Act prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company." (thanks Wikipedia)

You know what? Most mature people in this country took a look at the brink of disaster, saw that there were two choices: 1) do nothing and let the banks fail ala the Great Depression; or 2) bail their asses out and repair the shredded safety net. Anyone that thinks this mess could and would be cleaned up without an even messier solution has lost touch with the concept of "consequences." You elect a Bush, just like the last Bush, bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists and you get screwed. So, baggers, man up and suck it up. If you think Obama, Democrats, unwed mothers, abortion providers, immigrants, peaceniks, public option sympathizers are out to get you, then you have more to fear than fear itself. Remember, insanity is doing the same thing over again, expecting a different result. Allowing your repugnatan corporate sponsors to obstruct, water down, gut legislation to reform and regulate these wall street aristocrats and their shady network of bad loans and bad investments is propagating insanity: your teapots are cracked and don't hold water .
Update: 4/29/10 - Elizabeth Warren: GOP Reform Plan is a Failure, Republicans Choosing Banks Over Families

"Lonesome Rhodes: This whole country's just like my flock of sheep!
Marcia Jeffries: Sheep?
Lonesome Rhodes: Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers - everybody that's got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. They don't know it yet, but they're all gonna be 'Fighters for Fuller'. They're mine! I own 'em! They think like I do. Only they're even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for 'em. Marcia, you just wait and see. I'm gonna be the power behind the president - and you'll be the power behind me!"
- from the 1957 movie, "A Face in the Crowd"

Tuesday, April 6

Right in our Own Back Yard

"Too bad we have to kill it. A black widow is the best insecticide there is," said my brother.

We were getting ready for a backyard BBQ and fortunately decided to clean the plastic chairs and tables. The dark corners hid a couple of black widow spiders and my first thought was for the little ones who would be roaming our unmanicured back yard.

We keep the grass/weeds mowed, the vines trimmed, and that's about it. Through our "green neglect" (i.e., water saving) we've let the yard revert back to a semi natural state. The ivy fence, and our proximity to an undeveloped hillside attract all kinds of birds and animals, year round.

Right now, we're hosting a mother skunk and her four babies. These babies grow fast and are almost as big as she is after just a couple of weeks. We checked with animal control and they told us that skunks were beneficial animals, not easily provoked, and they'd leave in a month or less with their offspring. They asked us to be tolerant and patient rather than trapping them at this most vulnerable time. Apparently, coyotes will eat the young - I should have guessed since they eat almost anything.

So... We're enjoying the daylight hours in the yard and at night, make way for our skunk friends.

Thursday, April 1

Blue View

"Blue is an ideal color for places of healing, since it encourages relaxation and tranquility. It is a good color for contemplation and is very conducive to meditation, inspiring patience and calm thought. Blue makes you aware of the need for rest and allows you to make space in your life. It denotes a desire for peace and order and is the color of the present time -- the Age of Aquarius." - from the article, "Color for Healing" by Romy Rawlings

"What's your favorite color?" Ann asked.

"Green, I guess." I answered.

It was the middle of a hot, Arizona summer and despite the sprinklers and irrigation, almost everything was brown or a lighter version of brown. Green seemed juicy, moist, refreshing and something almost unattainable in this arid landscape. I was very young and looking forward to leaving Phoenix for some part of the summer. Taking a trip to somewhere greener had become a family ritual and a welcome relief.

For my first eight years, the family trips were back to southwestern New York - a lush, rainy, tree filled space by a lake which accounted for my love of the color green. Every shade of green, from vivid lime to dark green-black was represented in this summer landscape. Rain and more rain made it cool and green and, after a time, claustrophobic. I was used to the desert where I'd watch the sunrise in a bright technicolor sky and hoses controlled the flow of water.

We stopped our summer migrations to New York and began going to Balboa Beach, California, where the blue sky meets the blue ocean and everything is spacious, cool and dry - the best of all worlds. It was here that I realized my favorite color is blue.

Now that I think about it, I suppose a balanced combination of blue/green is my all time favorite. This dark aqua helps me envision the breathing spirit of renewal and balance - something bright and calm, peaceful and energizing.

May all beings know the healing energy of blue.