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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

you suck and i don't

People love to post one-liners about "small-minded people".  Like this little gem:

We are stimulated by these words b/c we believe these words apply to us - to us and our frustration with those people who are petty, closed-off or simple-minded.  Those people who, for some reason, cannot stand to see us find success in the world and seem to revel in our screw-ups and missteps.  When we think about these peeps, it goes something like this:

Oh, you don't like me b/c you are just so small-minded.  You can say nasty things about me but I don't care b/c you are small.  And I am big.  I am a big-minded, high-road-taking, well-adjusted, totally wicked awesome person.  And you're not.   And you're a bad dresser, too.  And you have a big bum.  And an ugly husband.  So think about that while I become a huge success.

Exaggerated.  But tell me I'm not right.  Right?  That's what these little picture quotes should really say.  Because that's the deeper meaning.  These uplifting quotes are really passive-aggressive digs at other people who, we think, don't like us or don't support us.  They're judgments.  This is us judging other people as small-minded b/c they don't see things the way we do.  We are pointing our fingers at that person who sits in judgment and saying, "SEE?  I AM the GOOD person here.  YOU ARE the DOPE," and doing exactly to them what we fear they are doing to us.   

I really think this type of name-calling is all about insecurities and our basic human desire to be acknowledged.  If we could just acknowledge each other, be more receptive with each other, be more respectful of each other's presence, we wouldn't have any need for these sneaky, yet colorful, "you suck and I don't" boxes popping up all over our news feeds.  

Peace, love, gratitude,

p.s.  Please share this if you like it.  I would very much appreciate the support!  :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

short & sweet... literally

a few weeks ago, my 6 year old SG (6 years old today, actually) threw a penny in the fountain on the town green.

"whatdya ask for?" i probed.

"fluff," she answered matter-of-factly.

"fluff," i repeated.

"yah, fluff."

later that evening i trucked over to the stop & shop and bought a tub of fluff.  the next day i made her a soy butter and fluff sandwich and sent her off to school.

she came home elated, all teeth and cheeks, "mommy!  mommy!  my wish came true!  i had a fluff sandwich in my lunchbox today!"

i didn't say anything else about it, just smiled and winked.  i want her figure out on her own how her power works, how by sharing her wishes, she's helping to make them come true.  a little example of the way the universe conspires to help her along the way.

wishes are beautiful things.  but if we keep our wishes a secret, how will they every come true?  most wishes require other people's participation.  we all have wishes, we all have dreams, we all have goals.  no need to be shy about it.  this is our humanness in action - by nature we are dreamers, we are doers.  so why deny ourselves by not sharing our dreams?  scream it out loud, i say.  why not?  let family and friends know what we want to do, where we want to go, who we want to be.  b/c then, they can help us.  they can improve our chances of bringing our wishes to life.

just today, my son XG ran by the fountain and tossed in a penny.

"whatdya ask for, big man?" i probed.

"a donkey tree," he sputtered.

...good luck with that one, kid.

peace, love, gratitude,

please share this if you like it!  :-)

Friday, June 15, 2012

quitchyer complainin'

man, i've been CRAZY the past few weeks!  i liken my behaviors and thoughts to a dairy queen blizzard.  a messy mix of irresistible but unhealthy morsels that require much concentration and discipline to resist.  the hormones, the season change, the pressure of the suburbs, the tennis moratorium, the constant intrusion of three small children in my eighteen inch bubble...  have all contributed to this recent state of relative dis-ease.

whilst in this state i have found myself doing a lot of moaning and groaning.  eeeeessshhhh... i can be such a complainer.  and like i said in my post a few  days ago, inviting complaints to the party will only attract more of the same.

trouble is, i'm a talker.  i'm an analyzer.  i'm an over-sharer.  so when i'm feeling all complain-y, i tell people.  i say, screw the edit button.  i'm going to play the raw footage.  i replay my ridiculous story of hormones and transition and children until it's completely played out.  i can only imagine that, as much as my friends love me, they cannot possibly enjoy listening to my woe-is-mess.  

it took me a casual comment by my friend RG (yes, lovey, your RG) to realize what i've been doing.  after complaining about having to mow the lawn and manage the kids and blah blah blah, RG looked at me and said, "it sounds like you need a drink."  a fairly benign remark, but this is the effect it had on me:

honestly, i've just been waiting for the dust to settle.  for the vacation to start.  for the big change that's gone come.  right?  b/c the hormones will balance.  b/c the kids will find a new routine.  b/c the pressure of living next door to the joneses only exists if i allow it to exist.  b/c my kids are actually pretty great.  b/c something wonderful will happen that will break me out of this state and everything will be better.  right?  right?  right?

WRONG.  if i want better i need to demand better.  ahem, invite better.  inviting better starts with changing my story. and that means i've got to stop making excuses, stop telling the old story.  it's easy to complain - it's mindless to complain.  complaining puts me back in the big dairy queen cup filled with things that are bad for me.  living with gratitude is much healthier, much more wholesome.  you can't complain and be grateful at the same time.  and this life is certainly something to be grateful for.  so, the change starts now.  the change starts with remembering that we are exactly where we are supposed to be - in this very moment.

we can all use a dose of moonstruck once in a while, can't we?  we all complain.  we all play the victim.  some more than others.  (i am so guilty of this.)  we air our grievances, forgetting that life is actually pretty damn great.  we tell our friends - can you believe she did that to me?  i feel sick.  my husband is so lazy.  i'm having the worst day.  my eyes are too wide apart.  this shopping cart has a squeaky wheel.  this traffic is atrocious.  the grass is too long.  there's never enough time.  it's too hot.  it's too cold.  the sun is too bright.  the rain is too wet.  

there.  that one's for you.  isn't that better?  

peace, love, gratitude,

share this with someone who's been going through a tough time and complaining a lot lately.  hopefully they'll appreciate it and not slap you back.  ;-)

the joneses don't really live next door.  my neighbors are actually extraordinary.  :-)

this lawnmower was the inspiration for this blog post.  she was my final straw.  when she gave out about 7/8 of the way through the lawn, i tried to sweet talk her.  i caressed her, stroked her, i even did reiki on her.  she was so stubborn.  so i'd like to formally apologize to her for the kicking, cursing, and manhandling.  turned out all she needed was a little more fuel.  oops!  good girl.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

letter to the editor

A couple of months ago, I found this article on "Christian Worldview" by Albert Mohler and wanted to share my email response to him.  

Never Having to Say You’re Dead? The New Interest in Reincarnation

Dr. Paul DeBell believes that he was once a caveman. Not only that, he is fairly certain that his life as a caveman ended violently. “I was going along, going along, going along, and I got eaten,” said the psychiatrist.
To his life as a caveman, Dr. DeBell adds his knowledge of previous lives as a Tibetan monk and “a conscientious German who refused to betray his Jewish neighbors in the Holocaust.” Dr. DeBell’s account is found in “Remembrances of Lives Past” by Lisa Miller of Newsweek magazine, published in the August 29, 2010 edition of The New York Times. Miller writes of the growing acceptance of the idea of reincarnation among Americans.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported last year that a quarter of all Americans now believe in reincarnation. As Lisa Miller notes, the report found that women are more likely to believe in reincarnation than men, and registered Democrats are more likely than Republicans. In any event, the popularity of reincarnation is rising, and Dr. DeBell is but one example. A psychiatrist trained at Cornell University, Dr. DeBell is one of the voices on behalf of reincarnation, but he is not alone.
In her report, Lisa Miller also introduces Peter Bostock, a retired teacher in Canada, who believes that he was once a large estate manager in England, and that he was then in love with his present wife, who was then a cook in the estate’s kitchen. Their forbidden love in a past life gives meaning, he suggests, to their marriage today. He told Miller that the couple shares a powerful attraction “that a soul makes when it encounters the familiar.”
The most influential figure in Miller’s report is Dr. Brian Weiss, who has pioneered what is now called “regression therapy,” based in the remembrance of past lives. A graduate of Columbia University and the Yale Medical School, Weiss became a lightning rod for controversy within psychiatric circles after he published an account of his treatment of a woman by hypnotizing her and assisting her to remember several past lives. Dr. Weiss now holds weekend seminars that attract hundreds of participants. He also claims that such therapeutic approaches are gaining credibility within the psychiatric profession.
Miller, who recently wrote a book on the afterlife, recognizes that the growing acceptance of reincarnation points to a retreat of Christian beliefs. In her words: “In religious terms, the human narrative — birth, life, death and rebirth — has for millennia been relatively straightforward in the West. You were born. You lived. You died. After a judgment you went to heaven (or hell) forever and ever. Eternity was the end: no appeals allowed.”
Reincarnation offers an escape from that linear view of history and human destiny. The Eastern conception of time common to Confucian cultures is deeply cyclical, with events and persons appearing again and again throughout time. As Lisa Miller summarizes the worldview: “You are born. You live. You die. And because nobody’s perfect, your soul is born again — not in another location or sphere, and not in any metaphorical sense, but right here on earth.” There is more to it, of course. Hinduism teaches that eventually, after however many lives, the soul reaches perfection and release. Until then, the soul takes on life after life.
One of Dr. DeBell’s patients told of finding relief from grief over her mother’s death by discovering that in previous lives she had been an Italian merchant who sold textiles along the Amalfi Coast, a herbalist in Africa, and a freed slave in New Orleans.
Readers of the report are likely to note some strange patterns. Why is it that these people seem only to recover knowledge of such noble past lives? A German who refused to betray his Jewish neighbor during the Holocaust? Where are the people who claim in past lives to have been concentration camp guards or complicit neighbors?
Put bluntly, even if you set Christian concerns about reincarnation aside momentarily, the picture looks dubious. Furthermore, the therapeutic application of reincarnation as a concept looks like just the latest fad. Do these people actually believe what they claim? Some do, of course, but Lisa Miller acknowledges that the nature of these recovered “lives” is slippery. She explains that psychiatrists “have begun to broaden their definition of ‘memory,’ leaving aside the question of whether a scene uncovered during hypnosis is ‘real’ or not.” That is a difficult question to leave aside. Most people would probably want to know if their neighbor really believes that he was a galley slave on a Viking ship in a past life.
Lisa Miller suggests that reincarnation is growing in popularity because Christianity is in retreat, especially among the young. But Stephen Prothero of Boston University asserts that increased interest in reincarnation is tied to the relative prosperity of the American people. Americans like their lives and their possessions, he argues, and they like the idea of postponing eternity. “Reincarnation means never having to say you’re dead” he offers.
In reality, few concepts can match reincarnation in terms of being incompatible with Christian doctrine and the Christian worldview. The biblical view of history is linear, not cyclical. The Bible assumes and claims a past-present-future orientation, with the end bringing the perfect judgment and justice of God. History is not a great wheel, but a chronological current.
The Bible states clearly that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” [Hebrews 9:27]. There is no “do-over,” and no great cycle of life.
Lisa Miller has a point when she suggests that the growing acceptance of reincarnation is tied to a loss of Christian knowledge and conviction among Americans. Nevertheless, it seems very likely that this new acceptance of reincarnation is more a matter of therapeutic fads and cultural fashions than as huge theological shift. The shift is more likely a loss of Christian conviction in the face of secularization — not a comprehensive embrace of Eastern worldviews.
Nevertheless, it is important to know that a growing number of Americans now believe in reincarnation and are accepting ideas from Eastern religions and worldviews. But, even as this development is important in missiological terms, it is still hard to take very seriously.
Even in these confused times, how many Americans really want to consult a psychiatrist who believes he was once a caveman who got gobbled up?

Dear Mr. Mohler,

I just found your article online about reincarnation and wanted to share my viewpoint as a Cultural Christian who believes without doubt that our souls take on human form time and time again.  Of course the first thing I wanted to do was poke holes in your argument, specifically the following quote from the good book:

The Bible states clearly that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” [Hebrews 9:27]. There is no “do-over,” and no great cycle of life.

The Bible is an awesome resource.  One from which a person of any religious persuasion can learn and grow.  But it's also a book that has been, can be and will be translated and interpreted for all time.  As many will agree, the book is alive.  The idea of reincarnation does not compete with this quote from The Bible.  A man does die once - well, in most cases.  Sometimes a man can die, be resuscitated then die again later.  But, yes, we agree that an individual man usually dies once.  And, yes, after that comes judgment.  The soul reviews the life of its individual, along with Jesus or other Masters and, according to the research done by folks like Raymond A. Moody, experiences the joys and pains inflicted upon others during that lifetime.  There is no "do-over".  That personality existed once in your steadfast chronology and the soul grew exponentially by the lessons learned in that lifetime.  

The second idea I'd like to refute is that this is an American's need to stay connected to material wealth.  In fact, I have spend years working on disconnecting myself emotionally from material things, as Buddhists teachings have advised.  In addition, I can safely assume that when my soul does return to earth, I will not be "me" again.  I will not live in my house again.  I will not drive my car again.  I could be a man in Africa, I could be a nun in Switzerland, I could be a humpback whale for all I know.  So the argument that westerners are frantically reaching in attempt to hold onto possessions is simply invalid.    

My faith is not a "fad".  I believe, as well as BILLIONS of others around the world, that while the man lives once, energy is forever.  Like trees and flowers that bloom and die, capturing energy for a short time then releasing it back to the universe only to capture it again...  so does the human body.  No energy can be created or destroyed; therefore the soul exists eternally.  Before AND after death.  Just think:  If God can launch my soul into a little baby's body once and pluck it out of a wrinkly old body once, then who's to say that God doesn't have the power to do that a hundred times?  A thousand times?  Our earthly lives are a drop in the ocean.  Why would God waste all of that heavenly energy when He/She/We can recycle it over and over?  Doesn't it make good efficient sense to reincarnate souls?  Do you really think that when you die you will spend eternity sitting on a cloud and playing the harp?  What or where was your soul before you were born?  These are the big questions that I asked myself and why reincarnation was the only idea that made sense to me.  

Another incorrect assessment is that folks always regress to lifetimes when they were somebody special or important.  I have regressed through meditation many times and visited many past life times.  I have seen myself as a poor Chinese woman in the times before Christ - no one special.  I have seen myself as a little girl living in the country - no one special.  I have seen myself as a civil rights activist - passionate, but seemingly un-special.  I've seen myself as a nomad in Nepal - completely alone in life.  But I have had experiences when special people have been revealed to me, too.  The Universe released these lives to me when the time is right.  *Note:  I don't see what's so special about being a caveman who was eaten, or about being a caveman at all.

I respect the Christian faith and those who believe so passionately that they are living their "one sacred life".  I believe with equal passion that God created man in harmony with the Universe, as a reflection of nature, with a soul that cycles just like everything else on Earth.  And I love Jesus.  He is awesome.  We can all learn from his messages of love and compassion.  I can't limit his teachings to a single book, though.  I prefer to keep my eyes and ears open to the messages that God's great universe delivers in the here and now - and not limit myself to the messages provided to us through lens of founders of Christianity.  Those men had clear agendas.  I, as a seeker, do not.  


Vanessa Gobes

p.s.  Dr. Weiss has a terrific saying regarding the experience of channeling past life memories:  "When you hear hoofbeats, don't look for zebras."

Peace, love and gratitude to my readers.  Feel free to post comments here.  Love to hear all of your ideas and viewpoints.  Oh, and please share the blog with friends if you like.

Friday, June 8, 2012

don't. yes. wait, stop. okay, go.

I'm going to apologize for this post before we even get started.  So.  Sorry.  But I chortled and snarked all the way through.  Maybe a bit of an Andy Rooney moment for me.

I was in my bathroom getting ready this morning, examining the silver hairs streaking through my locks and thinking about expectations.  A lot of my friends (and one extremely close family member in particular whom I worship and adore) would look at me in this slowly-advancing state of salt-and-pepper and use the word, "hag."  Besides the silvers (they're not grey, they're silver), my hair is probably a little too long. A little too frizzy.  Oh, I could take the time to blow dry, grease it with Moroccan Oil, dye it back to its original monotone chestnut color, but I'm not sure I care.  Anna Wintour says that any woman of a certain age should cut her hair above her shoulders.  Hmmmm...  yah, no.

thanks, DD, for a nice, demonstrative pic of my hag hair ;-)
There are lots of rules like Ms. Wintour's here in America - social norms we call them, if I'm remembering the term from 11th grade Sociology correctly.  Don't wear white between Labor Day and Memorial Day.  Don't eat on public transit.  Greet people with one kiss on the right cheek (unless you are a New Yorker who pretends to be a European, then you deliver one kiss on each cheek while scanning for other more important friends in the room).  Do not invade a stranger's 18 inch bubble.  Get married before you make babies.  Hold your tongue in an elevator.  Tip anyone in the service industry.  Etc, etc, etc.

And then there's the cursing.  Oh, the cursing.

I know there are social rules about cursing, but I still go back and forth on how I feel about it.  Those who read my blog faithfully are familiar with my ease at dropping eff bombs.  Writing for me is a passionate release, a focused meditation - and often times my fingers fly over the keyboard so quickly that I barely know what I'm writing until I'm done.  If a few unclassified words end up in the mix, who am I to edit them?

Plus.  In real life, I quite enjoy the eff word.  I use it occasionally.  Maybe too occasionally.  But I don't place any verbal value on it, except as a non-verbal verbal that lets people know that I am flawed.  (Though most wouldn't need four letter word to see that.)

And then there's always pressure to stifle the cursing in front of the kids.  Tell me.  When it comes to parenting, what is right?  Apologize for letting "shit" escape in front of the kids?  Don't apologize for letting "shit" escape in front of the kids.  (Maybe they didn't notice???)  Is hell a cuss or a place?  Is ass a donkey or a bum?  Is fart okay?  What about penis and vagina?  I think they're good.  But not in school.  Boobs?  Butt?  Shut up?  How 'bout the modern alternative - Shut it?  Is it okay that my 7 year old knows all the words to "I'm Sexy and I Know It"?  Is it okay that my 5 year old sings "Red Solo Cup" and that I think it's kind of funny when she says, "And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glasses."  (I mean, she's almost 6, really, but that's still pretty bad, right?)

I actually spend time pondering the spiritual repercussions of cursing.  Oh, yes, I do.  I mean, it's about 49th on my list of priorities, squeaking in just after emptying my mom's dog's anal sacks, but the spiritual questions are there.

Is cursing an unmindful form of communication?  Is cursing offensive?  Yes, I suppose it is.  But why?  I guess I know why, but is it because God cares?  When I splatter searing hot bacon grease on my bare arm and shout, "JESUS!" does Jesus give a shit, ahem, I mean give a damn, ahem, I mean give a rat's ass... oh whatever.  You know what I mean.  But really.  Does he?  And does he / He / HE care if I capitalize or not?  Honestly, I'm thinking no.  And if, by some small chance, I'm right and God doesn't care, why do some people care so much?

(Whew!  Tangent.)

But, like I said, it's not just cursing, it's everything.  There are hundreds of social norms that differ greatly from culture to culture.  Wave with the back of your hand in Greece, cover your shoulders in Morocco, don't be American in England, take off your shoes upon entering a house in Japan, wear thongs on the beach and bikinis to the grocery store in Brazil, wash your poopy bum with a communal bar of soap but only with your right hand in India, don't write in red ink in China, stare at people past the point of awkwardness then let your dirty white lap dog eat off your plate in France.  What is acceptable changes so vastly from country to country, it just makes me laugh.  Because it's all so funny, isn't it?  All these rules about living.

The rules in life are all so particular.  And peculiar.  Are these socially acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviors cast offs from religious orders?

Don't eat meat.
Don't eat meat with milk.
Don't eat meat with milk on Fridays before sunset on the fourth night of a Harvest Moon.
Sit cross-legged with your hands open on your lap.
Sit with your middle fingers touching your thumbs.  No, your index fingers.
Don't sit.  Lay down.  Or stand up walk.  Just shut up and be quiet.
Wear an orange robe and only an orange robe.
Shave your head.  Let one piece grow.  Let two curls grow.  Let one long hair on your face grow.
Don't cut your hair.  Don't cut your beard.  Now hide it all in a turban.
Hide your hair, hide your shoulders, hide your ankles.  You know what?  Just hide your whole face.
Kneel down, stand up, cross yourself, repeat after me, say it again, say it again, one more time, say it again.
Eat this dry cracker.
Now return to your pew and continue with your dozing off.

Who made these rules anyway?  (Men.)  But seriously, who?  (Old men.)  Really, though.  We judge others so harshly when they don't abide by the rules.  Meanwhile, the most important rules are often ignored - BE KIND, BE PATIENT, BE HONEST, BE HERE NOW.

Well.  Now that I have thought and pondered and assessed and analyzed the things we humans do and why we do the things we do, I have to go explain to my kids why they can't say "fart" in the classroom.    

Peace, love, gratitude,

Share if you dare.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

it's a party!

I get invitations for all kinds of things.  Holiday parties, charity functions, walks around the block, parent-teacher conferences, the white sale at Bloomie's...  I always consider the invitation and decide what needs to be done based on my calendar.  Can I do it?  Can I fit it?  Can I manage it?  And then, typically, I do whatever it is I need to do to make it work.  I call a sitter, pencil it in, find an outfit, arrange a carpool and hit the road.  That's the type of response that we would expect to give to an invitation.

You know, the universe works pretty much the same.  When we invite a thought, an event, a situation, a relationship into our lives, the universe responds just as we would to a proper invitation.  If the invitation makes sense, our spirity selves will pull strings in order to make things happen for us.  If it doesn't fit in our calendar, we will have to work a thousand times harder to make things happen on our own... or run out of days trying.

When we invite positivity into our lives, we will receive positivity into our lives.  Ask and we shall receive.  Really, all it takes is the ask.  All we have to do is be honest with ourselves, feel worthy of goodness in this lifetime, and imagine ourselves receiving.  RECEIVE.  I love that word.  All this is easier said, I know.  But it's true.

You want good in your life?  Ask for good.  Don't beg.  Don't plead.  Don't compare your good to your neighbor's good.  Don't get angry when it doesn't work out your way right away.  Be patient.  Keep asking.  Write your requests down.  Create a formal invitation addressed to all the good things you want to accomplish, to the children with whom you want to have patience, to the success you want to find in your employment.  Go ahead, try it.  Okay, okay, I'll try first:

"Dear Universe, I invite you to bring flexibility into my life... specifically, into my hamstrings.  I invite you to help me find inspiration in my writing so I can connect with and help others.  I invite you to bless my family with health and kindness.  I invite you to bring my new baby niece home from Honduras this month."

(Saved the best for last. ;-)

That's all it takes.  The universe is eager to receive your invitations and will provide you with exactly what you need.  Because the universe is working for you.  The universe is constantly catching you and tripping you, holding you up and pushing you ahead in order to get you exactly what you need in every minute.  The universe wants you to learn and heal and love and feel.  Elevate.

But, hey.  You want bad?  You can get that, too.  Burying yourself in gossip and materialism, greed and anger, jealousy and obsessive thoughts will get you loads of bad.  And maybe all that bad is what your are meant to receive.  Maybe that bad is your karmic payback.  Maybe you just need to stew in that bad for awhile so the universe will keep on sending you bad.


Until, until, until, you start INVITING THE GOOD.  Because when you are READY to invite the good, the universe will sigh relief.  THANK GOD SHE FINALLY ASKED ME FOR SOME GOOD!

But if you don't invite the good, ask for the good, expect the good - the good won't come.  You might get  bitty flashes of the good.  The good might poke it's shiny head out and say, "Hey hey!  I'm here!  I'll tickle your belly, give you a laugh, but then I've got to motor b/c you're not quite ready for me yet.  When you invite me formally I'll be here for you b/c I love you.  I do.  But until then, I remain a whisper."

It's really up to you.  Invite the good.  Invite the bad.  It's all the same to the universe.  But is it all the same to you?

Peace, love, gratitude,

If you enjoyed this blog, I invite you to share it.  Thank you.  :-)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


i felt mildly accosted one day last fall by a sweet little 7 year old.  it happened at the end of my daughter's birthday party.  i'd just spent hundreds of dollars on cake and dinner and activities for my daughter's "most favoritest" small people in the whole wide world.  at the end of the celebration, the kids were loading into their cars to go home, and one of the little girls politely demanded her favor, hands wide open, eyes wide open and trained on my face.  "oh.  well.  i don't have any favors."  her expression said it all, but she continued with, "really?  we always get favors after parties."  i've gotta say, i was a little shocked.  and don't get me wrong - this is a good kid.  this child was seriously confused and surprised - and to tell you the truth, so was i.

stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff.  stuff.

stuff.  do we seriously need to provide plastic bags full of plastic stuff and fake food wrapped in plastic IN ADDITION TO the mounds of pizza and cake and crafts and entertainment we just provided for our tiny little children?   i'm not sure a company like "oriental trading post" even needs to exist.  but somehow it does, and somehow we party-throwers cannot help but litter them with purchase orders for plastic magenta hula skirts and blinking yellow necklaces and glitter-covered beer mugs and turquoise rubber duckies and orange kazoos and black chattering vampire teeth and...  (i'm going to channel susan powers for a minute) "STOP THE INSANITY!!!!!!!"

can we please stop??????  all of us?  me, too!  let's stop!  okay?  we don't have to buy this stupid shit!  let's shop and plan mindfully.  the kids only play with it for 2 hours before it breaks and ends up in the trash anyway.  let's just stop.  because it's not just about the short-term waste.  it's also about the long-term results.

are we, as parents, creating little monsters?  yes.  are we programming our kids to have unreasonable expectations?  absolutely.  and, more importantly, in order to meet these expectations, are we endangering our children?  i mean, spoiling them - yes, that's for sure.  but also endangering them?  YES!  all of these pointless trinkets end up somewhere.  and it ain't in my compost bin.

this message is going to anger many party planners, and it's going to offend a lot of mommies, and it's going to disappoint a lot of children, but listen.  as said by the great chief seathl in his letter to franklin pierce in 1854, "Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste."  all of that plastic shit is going to end up in a landfill.  all of those candy wrappers are heading into that landfill, too.  our unmindful purchases are only creating a more complicated world for the very children we are trying so hard to please.  and guess what?  it doesn't have to be like that.

i challenge you, as a mommy or a daddy, to say, "fuck it.  i'm not doing it this year."  because when you say, "fuck it," another mommy or daddy can say, "fuck it."  and then before you know it, when our children attend a birthday party, they can do this:  CELEBRATE.  PERIOD.

i'm happy to be the first bad mommy who does not give party favors.  i'm also happy to be the first bad mommy who does not give birthday presents.  i'll take the dirty looks and the judgment and the criticism.  because in the end, i know it's not so bad.  it's actually really really REALLY good.

when my children are invited to parties, they will not show up with games or toys or bead kits.  unless granted special permission, they will show up with smiles and experiences.  they will show up with little hand-written cards inviting the birthday girl or boy to a day at the park or a trip to a museum.  b/c there's just too much stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff.  stuff.

peace, love, gratitude,

if you are tired of the pressure to give party favors, please share this blog.  xoxoxoxox

Sunday, June 3, 2012

life set to music

It took me a long time to engage in spirituality.  For 30 years or so, there was just a big question mark hovering over my head regarding eternal life.  I always thought spirituality was found in church, but now I know that religion doesn't encompass spirituality.  God is too big to fit in a church.  Christianity doesn't own Jesus.  Islam doesn't corner the market on Allah.  Buddhism doesn't hold the only key to Enlightenment.  God is found everywhere - in me, in you...  and, as will be expanded upon in today's post, in music.  

Now that I am aware of the existence of GOD and ENERGY and SPIRIT, I notice these things everywhere and in everything, especially music - from Indigo Girls to Katy Perry.  Has God always been there?  Waiting for me to wake up and pay attention?  Of course, right?  I don't know how, but during the course of my first 30 years, somehow I missed God's existence - not just in music but in everything.  Blew right by me.

I missed the one *thing* that is every *thing*.  While I was sleep walking, millions of other people knew about, were singing at the tops of their lungs about, that *thing*.  For all these years, millions have been infusing that *thing* into every *thing*.  

Does a fish know he's swimming water just b/c he's surrounded by it?  Evidently not.


My cousin MB posted a Cat Stevens video on her Facebook page a couple of weeks ago - a tribute to her Dad.  As it turns out, it was a tribute to my Pop as well.  The song was "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out".  We, as a family, have been singing this song since we were little hippie kids.  

I remember being 4 years old, belting out Cat songs by the campfire on Saco River in New Hampshire...  Our hairy-faced fathers strumming their guitars, playing their harmonicas and singing without inhibition while our five little girl faces (cousins and sisters) lit up with joy and contentment.  And I also remember being 11 years old, Pop conjuring another Cat song called "On the Road to Find Out" in attempt to explain to me why he had to leave his family.  These songs have been with me all my life.  (With us all of our lives, right girls?)  

As a child I thought "Sing Out" was about happy people singing and dancing.  As a teenager, I didn't care what the song was about.  As a twenty-something I thought the song was about finding your voice.  But now I really get it.  Cat's singing about the very ideas that my gurus like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer tout now.  He's singing about creating and creation, about accepting and acceptance, about free will and synchrodestiny.  

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well if you want to say yes, say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
'Cause there's a million things to do
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are 

And then there's "Road to Find Out".  Well, honestly, I think even as an 11 year old I understood the general meaning of this one.  The difference now is that my feelings about it are no longer connected to rejection and abandonment.  When I hear this song, I think about Cat's journey as a seeker, much like my own.  I think about the years I've spent traveling and growing and birthing and reading and listening and watching and absorbing in hopes to find that answer, that connection to peace and spirit... finally discovering that the answer has always been right here - waiting to be found.  The answer is neatly wrapped up in a little package labeled "Vanessa".  "The answer lies within."  Yup.  That's about right.  

Well I left my happy home
to see what I could find out
I left my folk and friends
with the aim to clear my mind out

Well I hit the rowdy road
and many kinds I met there
and many stories told me on the way to get there

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
So much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out

In the end I'll know
but on the way I wonder
through descending snow
and through the frost and thunder

I listen to the wind come howl
telling me I have to hurry
I listen to the robin's song
saying not to worry

So on, and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
So much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out

Well I found myself alone
hoping someone would miss me
Thinking about my home and the last woman to kiss me

Well sometimes you have to moan
when nothing seems to suit you
but never the less you know
your locked towards the future

So off and on you go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know and I'm on the road to find out

And I found my head one day
when I wasn't even trying
and here I have to say
cause there is no use in lying, lying

Yes the answer lies within
so why not take a look now
Kick out the devils sin
pickup, pickup a good book now

Yes the answer lies within
so why not take a look now
kick out the devils sin
pickup, pickup a good book now

Yes the answer lies within
so why not take a look now
kick out the devils sin
pickup, pickup a good book now 


When music is interpreted from the perspective of a seeker, we connect to the artist in a truly intimate way.  We say, "I get you.  I understand where you are coming from and where you are going.  I know your struggle.  Because I'm seeking, too.  We are all suffering and struggling in the same way through our different human experiences.  And I am grateful for your artistic expression." 

So Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens, I am grateful to you for lighting up the road of my own spiritual journey.  Even when I didn't know I was walking it.

Peace, Love, Gratitude,

A lifetime of thanks Uncle Angie and Pop, for always bringing your guitars and your songs.  I think if you two were around today, you'd look and sound and feel something like this:

p.p.s.  If you like this blog, please share it.  :-)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

daily om answers the call

ummmmmm...  i'm thinking madisyn taylor must have read my selfhelpitis blog.  i mean, what are the odds?  ;-)

posted by "DailyOM" yesterday:

June 1, 2012
Recognizing Happiness
Analyzing the Path

by Madisyn Taylor

When we take the time to recognize when we are happy and what that feels like, it becomes easier to recreate.

Those of us on the path of personal and spiritual growth have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them.

Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives. We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss. Without diminishing its power, we can retrace our steps to discover what may have put us in this frame of mind, and then we can take note of the choices we‚ve made while there. We might realize that we are generally more giving and forgiving when there‚s a smile on our face, or that we are more likely to laugh off small annoyances and the actions of others when they don‚t resonate with our light mood.

Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low. Knowing that like attracts like, we can pull ourselves out of a blue mood by focusing on joy. We might find that forcing ourselves to be giving and forgiving, even when it doesn‚t seem to come naturally, helps us to reconnect with the joy that usually precedes it. If we can identify a song, a picture, or a pet as a happiness trigger, we can use them as tools to recapture joy if we are having trouble finding it. By focusing our energy on analyzing happiness and all that it encompasses, we feed, nurture, and attract more of it into our lives, eventually making a habit of happiness.