Saturday, February 7, 2009


This morning I heard a song that made me think of a very specific time in my life, a time when I was first starting to come to what I refer to as my “full” spiritual awareness. One might assume that it was a magical time, but, in fact, it was more a time of facing harsh realties. To understand the full potential of the spiritual, I have learned, one must first understand and accept the crushing limitations of the temporal.

Today, I find myself in that same place again, my awareness expanded by the current events of the world, my understanding of the way things are here on Earth made painfully clear.

The original “epiphany” happened three days after the war started in Iraq in March, 2003. For about a month prior I had been a regular participant in peace marches and in anything having anything to do with opposing the war. There had been a week’s worth of protest events planned outside the Federal Building here in Seattle and the event I participated in this time was a poetry reading happening admist the protesting activities, which seemed like a metaphorical eye of the hurricane since that protesting had become anything but peaceful. The poetry was wonderful and inspirational; the choir that sang braved the late winter chill to give those of us in attendance the gift of such beautiful song. I felt privileged to be there.

As the event ended, I started to make my way back down the block. The scene was such that the anti-war protesters lined my side of the street, complete with signs and assorted regalia and on the opposite side of the street were the pro-war supporters who had come to protest the anti-war protesters. It was a curious sight to be sure. Both sides had become more and more heated in their yelling and screaming at each other just since I’d been there. I wondered how much more heated they would become as the days went on.

In retrospect I realize that they were a perfect microcosm for the two warring factions of America – the red states and the blue states, if you will. They looked and felt like their own civil war. And as the years have gone on, I have come to realize that this is how we will tear ourselves apart. This is the way that it will begin. This is the unavoidable reality that we are hurling ourselves toward.

That day was when I knew had to let the anti-war movement go. I could only participate in it so long as it was a peaceful demonstration but my conscience said to me that no one in this debate really understood peace and no one in this screaming match across 3rd Avenue could hear or understand a word the other was saying. This was the way of this world, I realized. Anger and screaming, people losing their tempers and no one listening; peace will never be created in such a place.

I gathered my coat around me, as if to protect myself from one of the harshest realities of life on this planet, and quietly, sadly left. When I got to my car, a song from the CD I’d been listening to came on and I marveled at how profoundly it fit the moment. On my route home, I had to drive down the street where the protesting was. Passing the protesters, the song fit the scene – brutal, harsh. It told a truth about this life that I have not fully been willing to accept until now; that the peace I have sought and have been working for all of my life will not happen on this planet.

My focus, now, must be on creating peace on a small scale, among the like-minded individuals who seek more than just what the shallowness of this temporal life offers - people who think big but know that small actions are what make things happen. This will be my shelter from the storm that will grow and rage outside. I must be the peace that I want to create. I have to think beyond the here and now to the spiritual realm; the place where peace can be fully realized.

“War Within a Breath” ~ Rage Against the Machine (Lyrics)


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The twelve things I’m grateful for

As 2008 ends and 2009 begins it’s natural to take stock of one’s life. Typically at this time of year I put together a huge list of things I want to change and accomplish. Before I do that, however, I feel compelled to acknowledge some of the truly good and wonderful things in my life. This year as been tumultuous for me to say the least, both personally and professionally, which makes a list like this all the more important. In times like those in which we are living, where so many of us have had a tumultuous year, it’s the positive things – and the positive thinking – that will sustain us and keep us moving forward.

Here are the twelve things I’m most grateful for.

1. Having a roof over my head: You’d think this would be too basic of a thing to think much of but with so many losing their homes this last year and me having, well, not the greatest of success in the writing realm, I am grateful that I still have a nice, warm place to come home to and a partner who’s stepped up his own work to make it possible.

2. I survived the Bush years: Good grief, January 20, 2009 has been forever in coming. It’s the end of an era – an era of me wanting to puke, cry and/or scream at every single thing the man has ever done or said. We may be mired in more sh*t now than ever but at least he finally won’t be around to make it any worse. I’m willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt that he intends to get in there and do his best to start fixing things. At the very least, I honestly believe he cares about the American people and what happens to them which is more than I could ever say for Bush.

3. I have a great family. They’re crazy for sure. Both sides, in fact. But no matter what drama has ensued in my life, they always love me. I marvel at this. I also marvel at their resilience. In my family we’ve dealt with illness, death, addiction, bankruptcy, loss – and we still keep going, making strides, getting better, hanging in there together. We may be strewn about the country but we are tight nonetheless. I’m lucky to be loved by such funny, crazy, awesome people.

4. My ten nieces and nephews (two I’m marrying into and one on the way): It makes me laugh sometimes to think of what a prolific family I come from but I can hardly complain considering what amazing, adorable, fabulous and brilliant nieces and nephews I have. They fill my heart with love and my world with hope.

5. I’m getting married this year to the best guy ever: How cool is that? With the predictions for 2009 being anything but good, I feel so fortunate to have something so positive to look forward to. I’m excited that so many family members and friends are coming in from out of town, too, and that we’ll all be together for this memorable occasion. I’m also excited that I get to marry a guy who, in the words of Bridget Jones, “Likes me just the way I am.” I’m truly the luckiest girl, ever.

6. My cat still has his health: Yeah, I know. This is such a goofball thing but Merlyn’s been my trusty sidekick for going on 13 years now and he was very sick, not eating, etc. a couple of months ago and, well, his life flashed before my eyes. He has since made a speedy and miraculous recovery and has resumed the full load of his daily chores including being under my feet in the kitchen “helping” at all times. Whatever would I do without my fluffy cooking assistant? ;)

7. My spiritual work is going well: Whenever I start to wonder what on earth I’m doing with my life, I think of how my work as a minister is really expanding. I have talked with and worked with more people this past year with regard to spirituality and, in a lot of cases, helping folks find and walk their unique spiritual path than I could have ever planned for or anticipated. Spirituality is “hot” now and I am so stoked to play whatever role I can in helping people expand their views. I feel fortunate that I get to serve God in a way that really suits me.

8. Valuable lessons: With so many work and financial trials and tribulations, I have had to stop at points and laugh…and cry…and pep talk myself…a lot. I’m not sure if I’ll stick with the writing thing or just exactly what I’ll do. It’s hard to struggle but it’s also hard to work in an office all day when, after 15 years of it, I know I’m so ready to move on. So, I’ve learned some valuable lessons this year; that life is about choices, tradeoffs, struggles, exhaustion, overextension, illness, recovery, perseverance and faith…and that those things are on-going, no matter what work you do or life you live. They make you deeper and stronger, if you let them and so I am letting them.

9. The past is never really gone: I’ve had the joy and pleasure of being able to get back in touch with friends this year that I thought were probably lost for good. It’s not only been a healing process for me but also a chance to move forward into the future with some truly treasured souls I have missed so much. Who said you can never go home again? You can…and you never know what amazing friend will be there waiting for you.

10. Travel: I never take for granted how fortunate I am that I get to travel. I remember being in my 20’s, not making very much money and getting about a week’s worth of vacation every year and feeling dismayed that I’d probably never see any more of the world than I did when I went to Europe in my teens. After that I decided I was going to at least travel around the U.S. (which is a world to see in itself) and I loved every minute of exploring this great country of ours. Now, in my 30’s, Europe is my beloved getaway destination. Slated for this year are Austria, Hungary, Holland, France and Spain. In my wildest dreams, I’d have never thought I’d be so lucky to experience the world and its cultures in such a personal way. It’s a dream come true and a lofty goal I can proudly mark off my “Bucket List”.

11. My horizons have been expanded: Travel will do this for a person but in my case, travel is only the start. The more people I meet, the more things I try, the opportunities that come my way that challenge and stretch me…just this year alone I feel I have changed so much and evolved in such ways that I could never go back to the life I had only a few years ago. Even the smallest things have contributed to my huge paradigm shift. I have lived a richer, fuller, more colorful life this year. Despite or even including personal trials and tribulations, my experience of life feels much more meaningful and authentic than ever before. It’s deep. It’s cool. And I think it’s only the beginning.

12. I’ve still got it: Oddly enough, no one threw that million dollar writing contract at me this year. Go figure. Yet I have written more this year than I ever have in my life and I’ve got some strong clips to show for it. The money? What can I say? I have some good clips… ;P I may not have proved that I can be the most commercially successful writer this year but I proved, time and again, that I can be an incredibly professional one that meets every deadline, focuses on giving clients the best possible content and does anything necessary to get and craft a great story. That, and I also proved to myself that at the ripe ol’ age of 34, my ability has grown, rather than diminished. The hard work has been worth it to come this far and be writing at this level. And when you look at it that way, I’m halfway to my goal already…


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bragging Rights

Being the consummate stage mother, er, girlfriend that I am, I relish those moments when Johann makes the papers because it gives me license to unabashedly brag about how fab he is - and he can't stop me. Ha!

Case in point: Mr. Gomez's poster for the Heavy Hearts show at the Comet this coming Saturday is this week's pick for The Stranger poster of the week. (It's the second time in a year that they've featured his work.)

Considering that inadvertently impaling one's self on a spike is of greater likelihood (and in some cases, less painful) than garnering a sincere compliment from any member of the Stranger staff, the fact that he received THE compliment and was further compared to his mentor, the legendary Art Chantry, is its own Stranger Christmas miracle. All that's missing is a little frankincense and myrrh...


Thursday, December 6, 2007

"It's happening again..."

The day of the Columbine school shooting, April 20, 1999, is a day that will always live vividly for me. I worked as the office manager at a school for kids with special needs (Children's Institute for Learning Differences, Mercer Island, WA) and I learned of it from our development director who walked into the office, tears in her eyes and said, "It's happening again..."

Indeed, it was. It wasn't the first time an angry young man walked into his school or other public place and opened fire. What was so tragic about it was that our mission at the school in serving the fragile population that we did (which included kids with severe behavior problems the public schools were inadequately equipped to handle) was to help children learn not only the academics they needed to be successful in school but a way to handle their illnesses, their emotions and their truly bad days in a way that would help them succeed in the world. The day of Columbine was a blow to us. It provided a grotesque reminder of how much work there is still to do.

In hearing the story today of 19 year-old Robert A. Hawkins who killed at least eight people in a mall in Omaha, NE, I am reminded of the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers and its assertion that the media bestows an absurd amount of fame on murderers in our society, so many of whom become infamous legends in their own time. It was supposed to be a commentary. Instead, it became an inspiration for Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris' rampage through Columbine High School. The satire was clearly lost on them.

Robert Hawkins' decision to "go out in style" yesterday may be due in part to the egregious amount of fame garnered by Klebold and Harris. They wore black trenchcoats, they listened to edgy music, they were part of a "mafia" and they carried bad-ass firearms. They certainly did have a "style" that might well be entrancing to other young men who have felt as alienated and powerless as they.

I understand that Hawkins was fired from his job yesterday, or the day before, and was angry. It may well have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I have a friend who also lives in the Midwest who was fired from his job yesterday, too. The difference between them is, as angry and devastated as my friend was about his lost job, he didn't go shooting up a mall about it.

That's what this is really about. There is a line that these young men who choose to kill cross, where they feel their pain and anger justify their horrific acts. But it does not and cannot...ever.

As I said after the Virginia Tech shootings, until we have not only an adequate health care system in place in this country that serves ALL citizens but also a mindset in our society not to ostracize or take pity on the mentally ill and emotionally fragile but, instead, to have compassion for them and care for them, we will continue to have more angry young men who feel they have no outlet for their fury and instability but to shoot up malls and schools.

We can decide to hear their cry for help or we can continue to be the victims of our own complacency. The choice is ours.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Coif for Your Cat

Now I realize there are serious stories out there that should be commented on but when my pal Arthur, papa of two felines, sent me a link to the Kitty Wigs website, I knew this was just the kind of insane magic that simply begged to be blogged about.

Without launching into harsh criticism over how the woman who makes these must be either a.) an alien (and not the illegal kind) or b.) that legendary old lady with a hundred cats, just suffice it to say that this website is a whole lot of bang for your cat wig buck, especially if you're looking to see if your cat could actually launch into orbit like a satellite when you try to put one of these little dandies on it. At least that's what Merlyn the Cat would do and man, that would be entertaining...


Monday, December 3, 2007

Barack OBollywood

It is rare that I am rendered speechless but it is also rare that one gets to see something this deliciously wrong/mind-blowing: Barack Obama performing at his Bollywood best.

Don't say I never did anything nice for you.


Radio Free Imus

Don Imus Back on the Air

Oh, good. I was worried we wouldn't have enough misogyny and racism on the airwaves so it's a relief that Imus - the repentant bigot - has been let back on the radio to "talk about race relations" presumably with the two (token?) black comedians he's hired for the show. This from a man who will, no doubt, accuse "Satan" Hillary Clinton of pandering to the National Association of Black Journalists with her Colin Powell comment last week. I guess it takes a panderer to know one.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

If the Shoe Fits...

This controversial exhibit at the New York Public Library has drawn ire from local Republicans worried about traumatized schoolchildren and tax payer money.

"An exhibit at the main branch of the New York Public Library is drawing outrage from Republicans because some of the work on display depicts former and current members of the Bush administration posing for fake mug shots. Each official in the visionary series, called “Line Up”, is seen holding a slate with a date of arrest corresponding to a date when the official said something about Iraq that was not “reality-based.” said John Del Signore of Gothamist.
While I'm no fan of traumatizing the innocent schoolchildren who frequent the NYPL, I still say they have a right to know that not everyone condones the actions of the president (and others) and that it is absolutely appropriate to speak out against a leader who's behavior is seen by many to be criminal. If we are too busy being P.C. to teach our children to stand up for what is right, there will only be more George W. Bushes in our future. And that's more frightening than any doctored-up mugshot.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Knee Jerk Response - Apparently We Can't All Just Get Along

It's rare that I comment on anything about which I don't otherwise have a well-formed opinion so you may well relish this moment of stupification.

I just read a story on MSNBC regarding Rodney King being shot last night in San Bernardino, CA. While I'm glad to hear that his injuries are non-life threatening, it does leave me dumbfounded as to how so many wild, injurous things can happen to one man, in one lifetime.

Of course, when you're standing on a street corner in the crime capitol that is San Bernardino (I, being a native of the Inland Empire can attest to the all-out the lack of safety going on in this city), you might want to be aware of the imminent danger you're most likely in. Especially if you happen to be Rodney King and danger seems to be stalking you at every turn.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

40 Lashes

When the now infamous Danish newspaper cartoons ran lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, I was upset. While I wouldn't exactly call myself the most P.C. person ever, I feel strongly that it's never o.k. to mock something that someone believes is holy, even if you don't understand why they feel that way or even if you disagree with their belief entirely.

It's decency - not something that needs to be legislated or enforced - just something that, as human beings, we afford each other, like common courtesy. In an effort to achieve some semblance of peace in the world, we could at least try to have a shred of respect for our fellow man.

Having said this, however, I've been following the story of Gillian Gibbons, the Britsh teacher in Sudan who has been arrested and charged with inciting hatred, insulting religion and showing contempt for religious beliefs by allowing her class of 7-year-olds to name the class teddy bear Muhammad, a name that was voted upon by the majority of the students. No doubt, like me, Gillan's met a few Muhammads in her life and probably thought nothing of the children naming the stuffed animal a common Islamic name.

Apparently, this is not only not nothing, it's actually a crime punishable by whipping (40 lashes, to be exact), a fine and six months in prison. I guess Gillian must have been absent the day they taught that in cultural sensitivity training...

Needless to say, I'm positively baffled, and a bit disgusted, by the kind of religious extremism that deems this sort of punishment necessary for a pseudo-offense. This isn't about protecting the holiness of the Prophet Muhammad at all. It's about controlling people through fear and it is a gross perversion of a religion that is centered in peace, compassion and love of God (Allah).

If that gets me 40 lashes, then bring 'em on.


UPDATE: 12/3/07: Sudan Pardons U.K. Teacher in Teddy Bear Case

UPDATE 11/30/07: Gibbons sentenced to 15 days in prison; "gross overreaction" among the Sudanese ensues.