Tuesday, July 24, 2007

America is driven, but the world questions our destination

The following is an article that appeared in our local paper several months ago. It has been hanging on my fridge and I read it quite often. I would like to share it with the rest of you.


Written by Todd South

I feel most like an American while driving. The movement mimics my country's attitude.

Each year, things go faster. There's always something more important to do, somewhere more important to go.

Where we're going, why are we going there so fast? What are we missing along the way?

That's the image I think the rest of the world has of us. Still moving but not going anywhere.

I'm not going to share patriotic writing that rallied the troops and citizens. The author who best tells the story of Americans wasn't too popular in his own time.

Henry David Thoreau was a bit of an outsider. He also didn't care much for any transportation outside of his own two feet.

The American I love is the nation of outsiders, nonconformists, and dreamers because America, at its core, is about possibility.

The work that illustrates this best is "Walden." Thoreau stepped away from the bustling towns of 19th-centruy Massachusetts and found solitude in the woods.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life," Thoreau tells readers, "and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

In his cabin, he laid out thoughts that struck to the heart of what a person's life should be about. He questioned the status quo and challenged readers to examine what they considered commonplace.

For generations, we have been put to sleep by promises of comfort and security. While leading the world in material development, we have neglected our character development. Thoreau said, "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation."

Our nation is leading its own life of quiet desperation, and we don't even realize it. Much of the world doesn't like American now.

Like our country, I know what that feels like. I served my country as a US Marine Corps sergeant in 2003 in Iraq. I was my comanding officer's driver. I drove onto and off a ship. I drove through camps and cities. Across borders and through deserts I drove. I passed camels and men who walked for days to reach a tent they called home.

I drove around bombed-out-buildings and through hawklike stares of dark men who hated me.

Once I returned home, people asked me about Iraq. I can't say too much I saw it from behind a steering wheel. But I've seen most of America from behind a steering wheel, too, always going somewhere, never really in a place, just passing through.

In Iraq, I was insulated from the people we were liberating by a thin sheet of glass and a plastic door. The Humvee I drove stood out as the only patch of green ina whirlwind of hot, brown sand and an impossibly blue sky. But the dirty glass and green plastic door were enough to divide liberated and liberators, as our president called us.

Most Americans I see are a bit more comfortable in air-conditioned, cushioned-seated cocoons rolling through cities and across this land, but they're still cut off.

If we listened to Thoreau, we might question our push forward, our need for more and more and more. We might recognize that the hope with which we once inspired other nations is now seen as sheer greed.

We might see that showcasing giant personal vehicles, immense wardrobes and eating contests to the world does not arouse others to follow our example.

In "Walden," Thoreau advocates a maxim that holds true still: simplify, simplify, simplify! He returns to the idea that people should question what they do and why they do it.

I believe we could once again lead the world through our actions and not just our spending. But this can happen only by looking inward and taking full account of our culture and what this nation is really about.

Self-determination and sacrifice, leading a deliberate life - these are the ideals that show what America was once and still wants to emulate.

If we showed the world these core principles of what America is beneath all the surface garbage we've built over generations, then others would again follow our lead.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter

I'm just barely catching up on my lack of sleep from taking the kids to the Harry Potter movie opening and then the book comes out!! Of course we had to go to the book release party at Barnes and Noble silly!!

Naahhh, just teasing, it was loads of fun! Martin and I found a corner, by women's studies, lol, and sat down to read our own books and people watch! Some people were sooo into character and it was quite entertaining. My favorite was the fat lady, carrying around a big frame in front of her. We got lots of pictures which I will upload later.

We now have five teens camped out at our house. They tried to stay up all night reading the book but it is awfully quiet in this house and one of them is crashed on the couch.

Tonight we are off to our first overnight camping trip, in the motorhome, this summer. Looking forward to relaxing and sleeping :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Okay, so amazing how this universe works!! I posted this morning on my journey away from Christianity and the need to constantly grow and change and not feel like I have it all figured out. I get home this evening and open my e-mail and this is what my Daily OM said:

Living in an information age, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the constant influx of scientific studies, breaking news, and even spiritual revelations that fill our bookshelves, radio waves, and in-boxes. No sooner have we decided what to eat or how to think about the universe than a new study or book comes out confounding our well-researched opinion. After a while, we may be tempted to dismiss or ignore new information in the interest of stabilizing our point of view, and this is understandable. Rather than closing down, we might try instead to remain open by allowing our intuition to guide us.

For example, contradictory studies concerning foods that are good for you and foods that are bad for you are plentiful. At a certain point, though, we can feel for ourselves whether coffee or tomatoes are good for us or not. The answer is different for each individual, and this is something that a scientific study can’t quite account for. All we can do is take in the information and process it through our own systems of understanding. In the end, only we can decide what information, ideas, and concepts we will integrate. Remaining open allows us to continually change and shift by checking in with ourselves as we learn new information. It keeps us flexible and alert, and while it can feel a bit like being thrown off balance all the time, this openness is essential to the process of growth and expansion.

Perhaps the key is realizing that we are not going to finally get to some stable place of having it all figured out. Throughout our lives we will go through the processes of opening to new information, integrating it, and stabilizing our worldview. No sooner will we have reached some kind of stability than it will be time to open again to new information, which is inherently destabilizing. If we see ourselves as surfers riding the incoming waves of information and inspiration, always open and willing to attune ourselves to the next shift, we will see how blessed we are to have this opportunity to play on the waves and, most of all, to enjoy the ride.


So true that intuition is sooooo important. We have all the answers inside us- we just have to learn to listen. Like the book The Four Agreements explains, we have all been "domesticated" and it's not easy to shut those other voices off; all those things that we have been taught as truth that were only someone elses truth and not our own.


I've been so busy enjoying our very short summer that I just haven't had the time to blog like I do in the winter. I've also been a little stymied, due to my complete focus on some research that I have been a little caught up in.

I was raised in a very strict, fundamental, cult-like Christian sect that taught us to never question but to just have 'faith'. I left that church five years ago and became a member of another Christian church that, unlike the church I grew up in was not black and white in their thinking, still taught to "just have faith", to not question.

So many questions rose up in me all through my life, not only about the church I grew up in but questions about Jesus and Christianity in general. My focus five years ago was to challenge the history and validity of this sect I grew up in. I satisfied those questions quite quickly and I didn't have to look very far. But those nagging questions about Christianity continued to pop up in my mind, so many things that just don't make sense to me, yet I continued to "believe" because that is what I was taught to do. Besides the fact that so many things in the Bible don't make sense and don't add up, the Bible was telling me things that just didn't line up with what I was actually experiencing with God. I just couldn't ignore it any longer.

I have spent the last several months researching and discovering things that make me completely in awe of how ignorant man can actually be. How much we take for truth without every questioning it. And it isn't just religion, it's everything; our government and all of it's institutions, the media, the masses. It's really quite pathetic and I'm quite guilty.

My journey through unschooling has slowly taught me to question everything and to not mindlessly think in a certain way and do things just because "somebody said" or some book printed it or the government thought it was good and healthy. The more questions I ask, regarding the Bible and Christianity, the more answers I receive and the more I move away from it. And I know there is validity to the answers I am receiving because I have an inner peace that I have not felt before. I am completely content with where I am and where I am going and that means something to me.

There is a Japanese word that a friend has on her license plate- Kaizen. The Japanese definition is "change for the better", the English translation is "continuous improvement". There will always be room for change and growth, always more to learn and discover. I never want to think that I have all the answers or that I have it figured out so much that I will never change my opinion on things. This world is so full of wonder and things we will never have the answers for and I will continue to question, research, and discover.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Awesome week!!

It's been an incredibly wonderful week filled with friends, family, and a lot of fun!!
Last Wednesday was Rylee's birthday. We went to H2Oasis, the local indoor waterpark, and swam for a couple of hours and then on to my sister's house for food and birthday cake. She's six years old; hard to believe!
Last Friday we went up to Girdwood (about 70 miles south of where we live) and went to the Forest Fair; a fun, hippie festival where I was completely in my element! They had tons of booths, food, and great music. The teenagers didn't appreciate it as much as Tanya and I so they spent most of the time in the car listening to their own music, but that was fine with us. Problem was when we got back to the car they didn't actually turn the car on and they ran my battery out so we were dead in Girdwood. I had to go around asking people for a jump and finally rounded up this nice young man. He was quite proud of himself; bragging about money and how he was getting ready to get drafted by the NHL and offered to hook us up with some NHL stars, lol! Quite entertaining.

Saturday morning we met Martin's mom, dad, sister, and niece, and my sister, brother-in-law, and niece for lunch at Vagabond's. I then took Rylee out to pick her own birthday present out because I just couldn't think of anything to get her last week. Saturday night Martin and I took the kids, along with a couple of Kev's friends to Ratatouille. What a great movie! We are definitely buying that one.

Monday we hung out with friends, I went with my friend Tanya to get her nose pierced (so pretty!), and then I went to yoga (as usual).

Then last night was really exciting, lol! 14 of us headed into Anchorage around 5:30, went to dinner, the mall, and then headed over to the theatre for the Harry Potter opening. We got to the theatre at 9:00 (the movie didn't start until 12:00) and sat around chit chatting for three hours. It actually went by pretty fast, having my best friends there to talk with. And at least we got good seats! I hate those openings when you end up getting stuck up in the very front! We didn't pull into the driveway until just before 4:00 am. I am one of the few people that don't work too so I'm sure everyone is exhausted today. I got to sleep until 10:15 so I'm not doing so bad today. It was a really fun night; I just really enjoy hanging out with my kids and their friends and to top it off I had my good friends there too. It helps that my best friends are the mothers of Kev's best friends :)

Monday, July 02, 2007


I went to bed last night very angry and frustrated. Yet another evening with the stepmom and all her complaining and poisonous, negative energy; feeling the need to have a conversation with my dad and vent!

This morning I woke up, and during my meditation time I spent time saying the prayers from "The Four Agreements", and suddenly the anger and frustration vanished and in it's place was a sadness and a need to pray that God would send her peace and heal her from whatever hurt that she is feeling and spreading all around her. Just the reminder that I see myself in all people and that we are all connected and when I send her frustration and anger, I am only giving it to myself and feeding myself with that poison.

These are the two prayers from The Four Agreements which, if you haven't read you must. I apologize that they are so long but they will fill your day with peace. When we love ourselves and fill ourselves with peace and love that is what we have to give away to others.

Prayer for Love:

We are going to share a beautiful dream together- a dream that you will love to have all of the time. In this dream you are in the middle of a beautiful, warm sunny day. You hear the birds, the wind, and a little river. You walk toward the river. At the edge of the river is an old man in meditation, and you see that out of his head comes a beautiful light of different colors. You try not to bother him, but he notices your presence and opens his eyes. He has the kind of eyes that are full of love and a big smile. You ask him how he is able to radiate all that beautiful light. You ask him if he can teach you to do what he is doing., He replies that many, many, years ago he asked the same question of his teacher.

The old man begins to tell you his story: "My teacher opened his chest and took out his heart, and he took a beautiful flame from his heart. Then he opened my chest, opened my heart, and he put that little flame inside it. He put my heart back in my chest, and as soon as my heart was inside of me, I felt intense love, because the flame he put in my heart was his own love.

"That flame grew in my heart and became a big, big fire- a fire that doesn't burn, but purifies everything that it touches. And that fire touched each one of the cells of my body, and the cells of my body loved me back. I became one with my body, but my love grew even more. That fire touched every emotion of my mind, and all the emotions transformed into a strong and intense love. And I loved myself, completely and unconditionally.

"But the fire kept burning and I had the need to share my love. I decided to put a little piece of my love in every tree, and the trees loved me back, and I became one with the trees, but my love did not stop, it grew more. I put a piece of love in every flower, in the grass, in the earth and they loved me back, and we became one. And my love grew more and more to love every animal in the world. They responded to my love and loved me back, and we became one. But my love kept growing and growing.

"I put a piece of my love in every crystal, in every stone in the ground, in the dirt, in the metals, and they loved me back, and I became one with the earth. And then I decided to put my love in the water, in the oceans, in the rivers, in the rain, in the snow. And they loved me back and we became one. And still my love grew more and more. I decided to give my love to the air, to the wind. I felt a strong communion with the earth, with the wind, with the oceans, with nature, and my love grew and grew.

"I turned my head to the sky, to the sun, to the stars, and put a little piece of my love in every star, in the moon, in the sun, and they loved me back. And I became one with the moon and the sun and the stars, and my love kept growing and growing. And I put a little piece of my love in every human, and I became one with the whole of humanity. Wherever I go, whomever I meet, I see myself in their eyes, because I am a part of everything, because I love."

And then the old man opens his own chest, takes out his heart with that beautiful flame inside, and he puts that flame in your heart. And now that love is growing inside of you. Now you are one with the wind, with the water, with the stars, with all of nature, with all animals, and with all humans. You feel the heat and the light emanating from the flame in your heart. Out of your head shines a beautiful light of diffferent colors. You are radiant with the glow of love and you pray:

Thank you, Creator of the Universe, for the gift of life you have given me. Thank you for giving me everything that I have ever truly needed. Thank you for the opportunity to experience this beautiful body and this wonderful mind. Thank you for living inside me with all your love, with your pure and boundless spirit, with your warm and radiant light.

Thank you for using my words, for using my eyes, for using my heart to share your love wherever I go. I love you just the way you are, and because I am your creation, I love myself just the way I am. Help me to keep the love and the peace in my heart and to make that love a new way of life, that I may live in the love the rest of my life. Amen.

Prayer for Freedom:

Today, Creator of the Universe, we ask that you come to us and share with us a strong communion of love. We know that your real name is Love, that to have a communion with you means to share the same vibration, the same frequency that you are, because you are the only thing that exists in the universe.

Today, help us to be like you are, to love life, to be life, to be love. Help us to love the way you love, with no conditions, no expectations, no obligations, without any judgment. because when we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty and we need to be punished.

Help us to love everything you create unconditionally, especially other human beings, especially those who live around us- all our relatives and people whom we try so hard to love. Because when we reject them, we reject ourselves, and when we reject ourselves, we reject You.

Help us to love others just the way they are with no conditions. Help us to accept them the way they are, without judgment, because if we judge them, we find them guilty, we blame them, and we have the need to punish them.

Today, clean our hearts of any emotional poison that we have, free our minds from any judgment so that we can live in complete peace and complete love.

Today is a very special day. Today we open our hearts to love again so that we can tell each other "I love you," without any fear, and really mean it. Today, we offer ourselves to you. Come to us, use our voices, use our eyes, use our hands, and use our hearts to share ourselves in a communion of love with everyone. Today, Creator, help us to be just like you are. Thank you for everything that we recieve this day, especially for the freedom to be who we really are. Amen.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another Wonderful Week

Another incredibly wonderful week under my belt.
It just seems that my life has found its groove. I have this inward peace that is pretty hard to push off kilter. Even on the seemingly "bad" days life is just good.
We have had quite a few sunny, warm days. The kids and I have been spending quite a bit of time at the lake. We have even dreamed about living on the lake but not sure if we want to create the chaos that it takes to move again. Our housing market here is pretty flat at the moment so it wouldn't be a smart move to sell our house anyway. Renting it out is always a possibility though.
Thursday we went to music at the park; trying to make a habit of it for the summer. This week was bluegrass. Quite often the music that is being played is not really my kind of music but it is something about the atmosphere of being at the park, with people of all different walks of life sitting there enjoying something together, that does something for my soul. My good friends Tanya and Debbie came too (picture at the top) which makes it even more enjoyable.
Right before we went to the park I got this new tattoo and Kev got his eyebrow pierced. I'm personally not into the facial piercings, it really grosses me out, but it's his body and he thinks they look really nice so............ I suppose some people think tattoos are a turnoff also and I happen to think they are a beautiful work of art so I guess to each his own. What made it even more fun is that all the kids and Martin were there along with two of Kev's friend and one of their mom's. It almost made me feel like a monkey in the zoo but it created some wonderfully, good energy!
On Friday Calista and I went to Friday Fling with Tanya and Sarah. Friday Fling is kind of like a Saturday Market but much smaller; music and local craft booths, food, etc. We started the day with soup from our favorite coffee shop, Vagabond Blues, and ended the day with a trip to a new thrift store in downtown Palmer. This new thrift store is made up of all very trendy, brand name clothes. I bought a jacket that is just rocking my world!! I will post pictures of that later, as I have to fix a little rip on it first.
Later in the evening we went over to Debbie and Ryan's for "spinach crap". Kev hangs out at the Murphy's every Monday, during Heroes season, and Debbie started a tradition of making this spinach ravioli stuff that the kids have dubbed "spinach crap". It's their favorite dish and I never make it right to their standards. I guess Debbie has a special touch when she makes it :) After we ate our "spinach crap" we played a game of Japanese Rummy. That was the first time we played, very fun! We are very thankful to be blessed with such wonderful friends!
I also made an official decision this week to go ahead with the yoga teachers certification class so that I can teach yoga. She decided to add a new class in October so it will be happening a lot sooner than I thought. On the application one of the things she asks us to do is right a story about ourselves and be introspective about it. It's funny that it makes me so anxious because I blog all the time and am fairly introspective about things but something about "having" to do it makes me feel like I am back in elementary school. So all week I have been wringing my hands over what this story might be. I think I have an idea, just funny that it is requiring so much of my energy. This class will give me the 200 hr certification and then in June of next year I will continue on and get my 500 hr certification, which allows me to teach anywhere, where as the 20o hr has some limitations.
Martin's ENTIRE family will be coming to visit in the next month which will add a little more excitement. One sister and niece will be here this week so we look forward to a good time! There will be one week in August that they will all overlap and be here at the same time to celebrate Merle and Lois's 50th wedding anniversary. He has four sisters, three brother-in-laws and seven nieces and nephews so it will be a busy, fun time that we are all looking forward to.
I'm sorry this post is so squooshed together. Blogger is on the blitz today and won't let me make spaces between the paragraphs.