7/26/09

Two Days to a Bittersweet New Phase in Our Lives

2 more nights here in NY....my mom keeps hinting at being very upset over the fact that we are leaving her home. We've been living in an apartment below her house for 4 years now. All our 100+ boxes are packed and we are ready to move from here Tuesday night and start a new life. I suspect the first few nights will be hardest for my mom and step-dad who have been very intimately part of Luke's for 4 years now...and Nora has never known any life different than having the love of so many adults in our immediate family.

My sister and I set up a SKYPE account so that my mom and the kids could talk through online video for free. I suspect Nora will have it the hardest for she asks for my mom the minute she wakes in the morning and goes to the door, knocks on her door to wake Lela (grandma) in the mornings. Again, my stomach is in knots over the change....and I can't seem to feel better about it.

.Skype video


I know in my head that the change will do my family well. We need the space. Also, jobs are few and in between and I am lucky enough to get the job of my dreams (during such tough financial times )....I will be teaching art full time to kids AND to top that, get paid very well for doing it. The odds of that happening again are very few. In addition, my son (and later Nora) will go to a very good school with low teacher ratio and heavy parent involvement. But, the feeling that I am taking something wonderful and sacred away from both my mom and my kids that will not and cannot be replaced continues to haunt me?

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I will have to live with this for a while and hope that it resolves itself in my heart in time. In Buddhism you are often asked to sit with the feelings and allow them to pass though you as if it were a ball of energy working itself through your body, like a sharp pain would. I am resolved not to fight this sadness, I will allow it to linger as long as it likes and and allow it to slowly pass through my body with the passage of time. I will trust what I have learned through these years, that it's often when we fight the uncomfortable feelings that we suffer even more. So I will continue to wake my husband nightly and share my worries, and my sadness.....

When Kyle, a dear dear friend took his life, it took me 2 years just to not cry over him every other day. Now I think of him and I can at least function. Knowing that even the worse of life's tragedies will be bearable with the passage of time helps me deal with my current tough issues and make me less fearful over change.

7/25/09

DAMN! The Democrats bow down again.......

President Barack Obama pauses as he talks to the media in the briefing room of
On the whole incident with Gates, Obama and Officer Crowly this week, Obama unfortunately bites the dust and bows down again and although the media does not pronounce his words as an apology.....to a woman like myself......it certainly feels like one....

Here is this "non-apology", read it and tell me what THAT sounds like?

"I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department and Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could've calibrated those words differently."

and added that the sergeant is an "outstanding police officer and a good man."

Okay folks, that sounds like an apology to me! If we were in an argument and you called me stupid, then said these words to me, I would feel like you apologized and we are okay again.....LOL. I'd love to see Obama actually stand firm on his beliefs and not try to be so partisan....After all, he was elected by a huge majority. The Republi-cons (my husband's phrase) do not care about partisanship, they cry and cry "bi-partisan!" only when things do not go exactly as they'd like....but in fact, they themselves are not partisan and never back out, never apologize or otherwise. Obama acts as if he were a meek player in the game and as if he did not have the upper hand. here we are with a democratic majority in all fronts and we are still cowering.....

That fact of the matter is that he did not need to apologize for his comments. Gates was in his own home, walks with a cane and is an elderly man. To walk up to this man and handcuff him was "stupid".....no ifs, ands, or buts.

Oh, by the way the tags "Republi-cons" and "Demo-cowards" are my husband's inventions....I just heard him use it 2 days ago and thought them to be very fitting and it made me laugh. I keep telling him he should start a blog....so far no luck.

7/22/09

Kucinich my man......!!! YES Healthcare IS a basic right

Just heard a bit on Democracy now on health care. First hear a snippet from Michael Steele and then a longer interview with Kucinich. I have always thought this man to make so much sense. I just love listening to him......here are some quotes I just loved from the interview.....
(my personal comments, if any, are in red. )
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*****"we have a system with 50 million people uninsured, another 50 million underinsured, where you have thousands of different insurance companies that are involved in jacking up administrative costs. One out of every three dollars goes for the activities of the for-profit system, for corporate profit, stock option, executive salary, advertising, marketing, and cost of paperwork. You eliminate that $800 billion a year in overhead, and you have enough money to be able to meet the needs of all people in this country. And when you eliminate the overhead at a state level, you can meet the needs of people of a state level. "

*****"How have we tolerated 50 million Americans being without health insurance? The insurance companies have almost a death grip on our political system. And they can have so much power that they can exclude 50 million people and trap another 50 million in confiscatory premiums, co-pays and deductibles, just jettison millions of Americans into bankruptcy. And yet, we still have this system. And people are saying, “Well, you know, we can’t have a government-run system.” Well, frankly, we tried this system controlled by private insurers, and it’s been a calamity for America.

*****"One out of every three Americans is either uninsured or under insured. And when you consider one out of every three dollars goes for the activities of the for-profit system, we clearly have to change the equation here. It’s almost like a form of slavery that our country’s been experiencing. When you consider how vitally linked health care is to economic security, the entire middle class is at risk here, if we continue to stay in a for-profit health care system. Health care must be viewed as a basic right in a democratic society, or we’re just going to be owned by the insurance companies, and our political system will be owned by the insurance companies.

*****Well, (what's being offered now) it’s not close to the idea of single payer. It’s mandating that people buy insurance. And it’s telling insurance companies they have to sell insurance. Well, you know who wins in that deal. "

*****"Right now is a mishmash, which is being offered up as reform. Well, no wonder it’s in trouble from all sides."

*****I mean, if people were offered a clear choice of a single-payer plan or not and told what the advantages are of having the government paying the bills, eliminating the overhead, enabling all Americans to have not just basic coverage with doctor of choice, but vision care, dental care, mental healthcare, prescription drugs, long-term care, all covered, if people knew that was the choice they could have, there wouldn’t even—there wouldn’t be much of a debate at all.

*****But we’re falling back on old ideological arguments, when the fact of the matter is the insurance companies are running Washington and we have to break their hold. And that’s why the single-payer amendment that I offer that gives states an option is a small step in the direction of trying to give states the ability to be able to determine their own destiny, and then hopefully America will be able to see in these laboratories of states that we can have a single-payer plan that can save people money and protect people’s economic security and their health. Healthcare is a basic right.

*****What I see is a public plan that gives the insurance companies the option to pick the people’s pockets. As long as you have a public plan, which now is going to be supported by what? Cuts in Medicaid, on the other hand? And undermining benefits to the elderly? Are you kidding me? (he is so right!!! you have to see the interview....he is very much a crusaders in my eyes) I mean, this is—the balance that’s being constructed right now indicates an inherent flaw in the proposal, to begin with. Now, I will vote for it, if we can keep the single payer in, because I think it would be worth the price. But without the single-payer provision in it, I don’t know what’s in the bill that would really be worthy of supporting.

*****The country has been lulled into an acceptance of war. And it’s tragic, because the war has been based on lies. And we’ve been lulled into it, because we’re in this fiction that somehow a new administration will take us in a new direction, and everything is going to be fine again. The only thing that’s going to be fine is if we get out of Afghanistan and get out of Iraq and stop Americans’ hegemony in the region and to take a new approach in the world, which is cooperative instead of trying to dominate other countries. We need to protect this country, for sure, but we sure aren’t doing it by the approach that we’ve used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I love this part below.....totally his style......love him!!!

AMY GOODMAN: How has the—how did the politics play out there? How were antiwar Democrats pressured into voting for the funding?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I don’t know. I can’t speak to that, because I wasn’t pressured.



7/18/09

Would you like a shower....or a million bucks?

Tiredness is a wonderful state to be in......
when tired....or should I say, exhausted your mind has a way of cutting out the unimportant and only focusing on the main issues at hand...such as food, pain, sleep...etc

I just did a 7-hour yard sale on an 85 degree day. For someone that hates being out in the sun like myself, that is a HUGE, huge feat. As I sat for the first time in the day and all I wanted was a warm shower....and man did that make a difference. You would have thought someone handed me a million dollars in cash if you saw my smile right after that shower....

Now I am happy, resting in my rocking chair, my skin feeling clean and fresh....now I just have to cross my fingers that the kids do not wake from their nap for maybe another hour.....but that may be wishing too much.....okay...half hour.

7/17/09

Jesus E-mails and Spiritual Materialism

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A friend who has known me for some time now sent me a Jesus slide show through e-mail today.
I know he meant well as I am used to his attempts at convert me.
But, being Buddhist makes the people not familiar with this philosophy, simply dismiss it as if I were not a form of spirituality. Slowly, it is starting to get to me....

Ironically, I don't think there is anything more at odds with most religions than being a spiritual materialist.
You've met them....
They pronounce their religion by the hour as if it would disappear if they did not bring it up.
They compare and contrast your spirituality to theirs constantly for it's all essentially a contest. And, it's imperative for them to constantly criticize others' spirituality in order to feel superior.

I need to figure out a better way to deal with these situations in which I unsuspectingly get swept up on some defense-of-Buddhism conversation every time I run into someone who does not respect it as a form of spirituality. It's time I stop cowering at these "attacks" and stand up for myself verbally.
Seems simple enough....you respect my religion and I respect yours. Right? WRONG!

Yet, just the other day, a man in his late 30's comes around dropping off advertisements for various construction tasks he could do in your home and in attempts to get information he starts up a conversation. At some point in the conversation he claims he is a "god-fearing man", he pronounces that he goes to church every Sunday and asks me, "Don't you believe in Jesus, the Savior". I hardly begin to explain that I'm a Buddhist and the man proceeds to attack me verbally with "Did Buddha die on the cross for you?.....NO!". I felt like a teenager getting a lecture for my mom for trying to dye my hair....."a phase, simply a phase she would say". Needless to say, we will not EVER be hiring him, but what shamelessness to come to my house, knock on my door and disrespect me!

Essentially my belief is non belief.
What I mean by non-belief is I do not feel a need or a fear to ritualize my practice in order to feel god's presence.
I most absolutely believe in a higher power.....You only need to be around anything beautiful to truly know deep inside that a higher being created all this.......
Yet, I do not believe god lives in a church, god is everywhere, in all beings.
I proudly do not go to church. I would love the socialization and community church provides, and that's about it.
My relationship with my maker and is within and I care not how others are spiritual.
I do not care to ever convince or convert others of my set of beliefs for I think people resonate to the religion they are in due to their specific life needs....
I absolutely do not believe God is a fearful, vengeful or jealous God.....those are weak human manifestations....
I do not think God could be described in words...
Last, and most important of them all, I feel one could find spiritual meaning and growth through reading even secular books. Books have saved my life and repaired my sanity....most of my most influential books were not religious in nature.....God IS everywhere....not just in church, and not JUST in the bible...

So I still don't know how to approach these people....Maybe the answer lies in understanding...they are happy and proud in their religion and want to share the joy they feel in it....Looking at their "attack" as just an misguided invitation would help me address the issue in a more civil manner. My hubby suggests I should be as honest as they are and share the joy I feel in my beliefs without the regard to their rudeness or initial disinterest. I see now how in trying to no step on their beliefs I totally disregard mine and it's interpreted as me not having any beliefs....So there.....be yourself, without shame...speak about my beliefs as openly as they talk about theirs....who knows, they might learn a little about me.

7/16/09

Life has no opposite

Have you ever experienced death of a loved one and as you mourn this loss, you painfully notice that the world continues to move forward?

In thinking about this, I am reminded of one of my favorite Eckhart Tolle quotes, "Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite"

I made the grave mistake today of watching the 5 o'clock channel 7, (corporate-owned) news and all they cover is death, accidents, murders and more death. How do people watch this kind of "news" daily and not begin to think death will creep from any direction at any moment? The more I watch TV, the more I become disconnected from the Eckhart Tolle quote above and come to unnaturally fear death. Yet, death is just a phase of life. Death is not the end of life.....Life contains death in it. Death is a minor phase of life. To illustrate, A predator bird comes and swoops in the water and with its claws grabs a fish from a river. The fish's death means life to the bird. Death and birth are intertwined and are part of this beautiful cycle of life.




7/14/09

Katie Byron quotes I love right NOW!!!

My experience is that the teachers we need most
are the people we’re living with right now.
Oh, is this right! from co-workers to friends and all the way down to my kids.
******
The whole world is simply my story,
projected back to me on the screen of my own perception.
All of it.
I absolutely believe that we all live in our own heads....often when we think people are mad at us or lash out at us, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with us.
*******
As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there”—
as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—
the situation is hopeless.
It means that you are forever in the role of victim,
that you’re suffering in paradise.
I had a very tough childhood. But I would not be who I am today without all that suffering. I would not have changed a thing for I love my life. We need to figure out ways to teach our children to take responsibility for their suffering and teach them how to enjoy life. No matter what tragedies occur, you are alive and THAT is the biggest gift of them all.
********
Would you rather be right or free?
I would rather be free than right. There was time when being right was so important. As I get older peace and sanity mean so much to my well being. You can have the last word any day.
*******
Nothing outside you can ever give you what you’re looking for.
There was time when I was in love with being in love. I fantasized being in love and having this fictitious romantic love and THAT meant true happiness. I now fantasize being in love with myself and maintaining peace and love in my life within me.....HAPPINESS absolutely does not come from outside of us.
*******
That’s where the fear comes from—
from your un-investigated thoughts.
May one day our country become wiser in realizing that gay love does not threaten them, other religions do not threaten them, that countries that are communist does not threaten them......we cannot react out of fear.....
********

Buddhist Quote of the Day

You will not be punished for your anger,
you will be punished by your anger

I had an incident this morning with my hubby in which I totally lost it. Hours later we both know it was really silly....but I was so angry at him then. When you are this mad you want the perpetrator to feel it too....so you start to unconsciously plan ways to diffuse that anger by sending it back from where it came from.....but for the first time I allowed some space to invade that tight anger. Lately, I am starting to value my sanity and peace more than being "right" or the satisfaction of getting "back at" the perpetrator. As he ranted after something I said to him, I emotionally pulled away and began to focus instead on all the things that are going right in my life and how incredibly blessed I am .....and suddenly being "right" and coming back with a hurtful comeback was no longer important.

7/13/09

Open Minds Here and Now


Remaining open has been my lesson these past few days following Michael Jackson's death.

How many times have we gotten into arguments with loved ones just because we closed up immediately, assumed the worse from the start and stopped listening to the message being conveyed right here, right now?

I cannot count with my fingers and toes the times my hubby and I argued over simple wrongful assumptions..."I thought you'd do this, so I did this". Proof that we live 99% in our heads, so sure of the outside facts, yet never stop to actually check these facts and see if things have changed with each new situation.

With Michael Jackson, I have always loved, loved, loved his music. Although you will not find any of his songs in my Ipod for I hear mostly music in Spanish, his music and his lyrics have been part of the background of my past for as long as I can remember. In trying to understand the severity of the mourning people around me are going through, I started watching loads of interviews with the singer/dancer through www.Hulu.com and also through www.youtube.com. The more I watched, the more I became increasingly sad that I did not know enough about a person like himself before he died. I find out now that MJ was so in tune and parallel with who I am as a person.

In just having watched hours of interview footage on him, anyone with half wits could see that he was practically an asexual being, whose gender was comfortably undefined. Like a pre-pubescent child who does not care whether he or she were a girl yet, Michael Jackson seems to me childlike in all his action. From his voice, to his demeanor, from what makes him happy, to his sense of humor...it all is childlike, honest and pure.

What made me angry beyond repair while watching these interviews were the majority of the interviewers who were always so self-righteously and visibly shocked at his apparently "odd" choices.....like the one interviewer who asked 3 times how he would find it fun composing in a tree, or the interview with Oprah in which she asked him if he was a virgin. Question after question I became more and more disgusted at the open disrespect they extended to the King of Pop. I'm pretty sure Oprah would be eternally offended if SHE were asked if she were a virgin. One interviewer became increasingly persistent in getting MJ to confess his facial surgeries after denying them various times.

I have seen this type of behavior many times in my life. Whenever a person dares vary from the common gender allowances we associate for men and women it seems like all of the sudden respect and decency go out the window....all of the sudden your very humanity is questioned and no bars are held....

So I am open ready to truly hear and experience all that is coming from a person without adding on my own spin. I am ready and open to be an example of openness to those around me who might only choose to see what they see.....Michael Jackson was a gentle soul, an amazing songwriter, musical and choreographer. He also saw his role in the larger picture of life and his life work purposely addressed us as part of ONE world. His message was one of peace, love and compassion.



7/9/09

Meet Michael Jackson....

If you watch this interview in its entirety you will be won over....What a beautiful, sweet, positive and gentle soul. I would have loved to have known him in person.....(The interviewer SUCKS....so beware....)


Mom's Moments...

I love being a mom....all the hard times you put up with daily melt away instantly in moments like these and I would even go through hundreds of hours of whining and kid drama just so that this moment can be realized multiple times.

I was in the car yesterday prepping the kids for our small outing. For those of you who are not around kids..a 2-year-old talks but with 1-2 words at a time....and well, they do not really hold a conversation YET....Luke on the other hand expresses himself very well.....with that in mind, here is the script.

Mom: We are going to the bank guys.
Nora: Bank!! (she claps and smiles....they get these small lollipops there for free if they sit tight and behave)
Luke: I am going to get the grape one (excited tone)
Mom: Luke, did I tell you that when I went there last time with just Nora, she chose one for you, a blue one, and did not eat it the whole ride to the house....she held it until she saw you. Isn't that nice. Your sister loves you so much Luke.
Luke: Thanks Nora you are the best ever. Best, best, best!!! But you got me the blue one Nora. Next time, Nora (he repeats her name a lot) get me the grape one. Okay, the grape one....
Nora: Yah, Yah.....(nodding in understanding....but not)
Luke: You hear that Nora....the grape one, that is my favorite....okay?
Nora: Yah....(Nodding again like she understands)
Mom: (cracking up while driving)

7/7/09

P Party

In attempts to get Luke ready for Kindergarten we have decided to celebrate a letter every other day. For the past 2 days now we have bee working on the letter P. Yesterday, we ran around placing P labels on all items that begin with the letter P. Today we had a P Party. All food and guests had to begin with the letter P.......lots of fun!!



Mom made P Potato fries.
We cut up peppers.....
Mixed punch....and placed it in a small container to pour.
Mom made a quick Pizza.
At the table there were pink and purple markers and crayons to draw on their paper.
Pink Pig and Panda were invited.
We also cut up some pickles....which no one (but mom) ate.
Each child got a pink straw and a purple cup.

Panda too ate the pizza...
Pink Pig ate the Pizza.
Luke, Nora and I all sat on chairs that had pillows.

Luke and Nora taking her turn hitting the fake pinata.....no candy, just toys in them....from around the house.

7/6/09

How Movies About LOVE and LOVERS Ruin Relationships....



I love my husband.
Now.... he's not the romantic type...in fact he's not at all romantic.....
He's never bought me flowers except for once, has no idea how to go about buying a gift for someone, and sometimes does not even remember REALLY important dates.....unless reminded.

But having grown up more of a realist and shunning all things cheesy and over-the-top I have never really thought "romantic" men desirable at all. In fact just the opposite has been my experience. Deep inside I always thought, "If they have to try so hard, then they are not being themselves." Just as I've always thought myself most beautiful without makeup for its truth and honesty about what I really look like, I have always valued the bare truth over false facades of all kinds.... This "suspicion" of all skewed representation of self extended even to the way they chose to live, dress, even who they'd talk to. The showy-er the man the more unattractive they seemed to me.

If you watch a lot of movies about love and lovers though you can easily come to think such a relationship where a man is not constantly pouring his love onto you is not worth saving, and indignantly move on in search for greener pastures. This is very sad, for movies have a way of setting up these fictitious, unnatural and unrealistic expectations for all our relationships creating unnecessary tension. We never stop to ask, will a man who loves us to "death" really make us happy? Or, in true love, does intensity really have a place? As taught in nature, suns that burn hottest die faster. If love is felt intensely, then can it really be love? In that case, where does the laundry fall in this intense world of love?

Okay ladies, perhaps there is a guy out there who knows just the right combination of poetic words to say after an argument, or one that can plan a 4-course dinner and bring you flowers on your anniversary date and somehow manage to make it all a surprise. But if you create a tight list of MUSTS and SHOULDS, you miss out on the list of existing gifts your mate already possesses. For example, my husband does all the laundry in the house, even rinses out Nora's washable poop diapers by hand and does it many times a week. He's the only man I know among my family who actually sits and plays with his kids (for hours too)....not just 20 minutes as you rush to pass them on to someone else. He's always the one to load all the food perfectly in our bags when we food shop, has more patience than a saint and is the more self assured person I know. These are just a few gifts I've discovered in my relationship and in remaining open and without my tight list of MUSTs and SHOULDS, I find more and more gifts daily.

Aside from what the movies say, love does NOT HAVE TO come wrapped in roses and poems. Let's drop all preset expectations and start seeing people outside of boxes and labels. A new world will reveal itself ....If you are open to accept what is or not there without a battle....you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

I am not saying to let go off all expectations. Obviously the man must respect you, and love you and vice versa....but love has many forms and sometimes we crave the type of love that burns intensely, like in the movies.

With this said, I have come to learn that in marriage, as in any relationship, we must fall in love twice for it to work out....FIRST we fall in love with the person we think we know, then SECOND (and this is the one that will make it or break it)....we must fall in love with the person they really are....

7/4/09

Working Through Mixed Emotions......


I am having mixed emotions about relocating....I'm not changing my mind...just struggling to feel okay about moving my kids away from their "Lela.." (Grandma)

In less than a month we leave my mom's house, where we've been renting the downstairs apartment for the past 4 years, to move 250 miles away.

Although what's pulling me is THE job of my dreams, incredibly better pay, and a great school system for the kids.....I am still aching for my poor mom who will very much miss my kids....and vice versa...

She's been with my oldest since he was 1 and my youngest has always had her around...

Both my kids adore her (and my step dad) and I can't help to wonder if this is a good move or not. It's hard to tell.

I am willing to give it time....a couple of years and then decide whether to move closer or back to NY.... or maybe even stay...right now the sadness is raw and the anxiety slowly building.....all these questions. Will my mom be okay? will the kids be sad? will they remember those cozy Saturday mornings running into grandma's room to giggle and cuddle? Am I taking something away that I can never give back? Will it be worth it?

The love of a child is incredibly powerful and in its absence it has a tendency to leave an almost unbearable emptiness. I cannot even begin to imagine my mom's first few days without the kids....the silence..the house void of mess, rid of all the toys, no sippy cups left out overnight....

I trust that time will heal these feeling and eventually I know my mom and step dad will get used to having their place back; without all the mess.....Also, my hubby and I will learn to raise our kids like most Americans, alone and without the help of extended family.....

More than ever, technology becomes important. E-mails, family blogs, Video CD, Skype.....I am going to teach them all I know about these mediums so as to try to keep connecting....I am hoping that love will prevail and that my kids still know just how much they matter to so many people aside from just my hubby and I....even if they do not see them every day...