Monday, February 28, 2011


"Let there be peace, I am a stand for peace
Let there be love, I am a stand for love
Let there be joy, I am a stand for joy
We are making a new world now." 

--Karen Drucker, closing song at Seattle Unity

Friday night I went to see the movie, "I AM," with a bunch of friends. I was poised to love it, to be inspired, and to have my life changed, but I left the theater feeling somewhat disappointed. 

My disappointment turned to dismay when I realized that almost everyone in the group I was with LOVED IT. I mean, REALLY LOVED IT. 

I was flummoxed. 

Did I not "get" the movie? Did I miss something? (It was the late show on a Friday night.....)

The thing I just kept thinking is: There is nothing new here. Everything he presented in the movie I have already seen or read or experienced somewhere else. We are all one. The Universe is connected in ways we cannot fathom. Yeah? And? 

I am not even sure what I wanted from the movie, but I wanted something MORE. Something BIGGER. Something MIND-BLOWING. 

I guess it was that movie for some people, it just wasn't that movie for me. 

The thing that really gets under my skin is something Tom Shadyac (the director and star) says in the trailer, "I decided to....spark a conversation around challenging and rarely-asked questions....What's wrong with our world and what can we do about it?"

I reject the premise that these are rarely-asked questions. I ask myself these questions. Every. Single. Day. And so do the friends I went the the movie with (a group which included a massage therapist, a psychic, a cranial sacral practitioner, and two highly intuitive energy healers). Which is why I just cannot understand why they were so enamored with it.

The irony of the whole thing is that just prior to the start of the movie I got into a discussion with one of the women in our group (a friend of a friend and someone I had never met before) about Catholicism and the clergy-molestation scandal. I did not handle it well. 

[As a quick aside, my history with the Catholic Church: I grew up pretty fundamentalist Protestant, became a Catholic when I met my husband, and ended my affiliation with the Catholic Church five or six years later for personal, political and spiritual reasons. While I no longer support the church financially or take communion, I do attend services from time to time with my husband.]

I had just read an article about the Texas priest who is under investigation for the attempted murder of a boy who has accused him of molestation and my hackles were up about the Catholic Church so when we started discussing Catholicism it brought up a lot of energy for me. A LOT. 

I was sitting there in my head saying, "Calm down. You don't know this woman very well. Your husband is Catholic and you can understand that. There is no need to make a stand here, etc., etc." But I just wasn't listening to myself. 

I wanted some kind of admission, from this woman that I don't know at all, that what her church had done by covering up all of these cases of molestation and refusing to apologize publicly for it was wrong. Wrong with a Capital W. 

But she couldn't, or wouldn't, at that moment give that to me. And I couldn't, at that moment, accept that. 

And then the lights came down and the movie started and that was it. We didn't get a chance to finish our discussion or come to any kind of meeting of the minds (and I think we would have gotten there had there been time) and I felt badly about that. 

So maybe I didn't get it because I wasn't in a space to get it. I was sitting there thinking, I know this already, this is nothing new, all the while still obsessing about what was separating me from this woman I had just met (our opinion about how best to react to the clergy molestation scandal in the Catholic Church).  

So what now? 

Yesterday I took the kids to Unity and got a hit of the I AM that I could appreciate, accept, and understand. 

At the end of the service we all stood hand-in-hand singing, "Let there be peace, I AM a stand for peace; Let there be love, I AM a stand for love; Let there be joy, I AM a stand for joy...." Tears came to my eyes, as they always do at the end of the service, and I realized, once again, that it doesn't matter HOW you get to Peace, Love, Joy, and Oneness, only THAT you get there. 

So if you see the "I AM" movie, I hope you love it. I hope it inspires you. I hope it gives you hope. 

I also hope that you recognize that just being there means you already are. YOU ARE.

Friday, February 25, 2011

NOT a Disney Family

"Nobody but yourself can tell you what to accept and what to reject...[W]e begin to figure out for ourselves what is poison and what is medicine, which means something different for each of us....[W]e are the only ones who know what wakes us up and what puts us to sleep."  

--Pema Chodron,  The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness, the book I read on the plane-ride home from Disneyland, the irony will become apparent, read on....

We took the kids to Disneyland this past weekend. I'm not sure why I thought that was a great idea, but for some reason I did. 

On the first day (which was also President's Day) we went to California Adventure, thinking it might be less crowded than Disneyland, and had an okay time. 

It wasn't very crowed and there were some fun rides and interesting things to see, but I kept thinking to myself, "Three hundred dollars for THIS?"

No matter what we did it just didn't seem worth the amount of money we had paid to do it. I kept telling myself, "Disneyland will be different. Disneyland is the real deal. This is just a poor substitute for Disneyland," but I wasn't convinced. 

It took all the parental guilt I could muster the next day to plop down my debit card again and give them another THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS to go to Disneyland. 

Walking into the park, however, I felt the sense of anticipation and wonder that one is "supposed" to feel when going to Disneyland - just saying the name "Disneyland" evokes fantasies of laughter, good times, dreams coming true - right up until I realized we had beat the rush by about thirty seconds.

Within minutes of entering the park we were swept up in a torrent of people, maps and kids in tow, heading for SPLASH MOUNTAIN! SPACE MOUNTAIN! TOON TOWN! 

We decided to make our way through the park, wandering as we went, just taking our time and letting the Universe and our own interests guide us. The kids saw the Indiana Jones ride and wanted to go on that so we joined the long and winding queue that was the beginning of the end. 

After waiting in line for half an hour or so we finally made it inside the cavernous building that led to the mining cars waiting to take us on "the ride of our lives!" 

After walking for five minutes through a maze designed to look like the inside of one of Indiana's adventures (and hoping against all hope that this walk was not what we had waited thirty minutes for), we made it to the second line, where we waited for another thirty minutes in a poorly-ventilated mine shaft with hundreds of other people. 

We were all tired of waiting by this point, but I was trying to look on the bright side and said to my husband, "At least it isn't ninety degrees out today. I can't imagine being trapped in here in that heat." Nonetheless the boys and I were slumped on the floor and it soon became apparent that something was wrong. The idea that a riot might break out occurred to me just before the line started to move again. 

Alas, we were not heading for our mining cars, but back out into the park - the ride had broken down and could not be immediately fixed. 

We were given "fast passes," which allowed us to cut to the front of the line, for the ride of our choice and encouraged to "check back in an hour or so" in hopes that this ride would be fixed. 

A little discouraged, but still with the hope of Mickey in our hearts, we headed out to SPLASH MOUNTAIN. The water ride at California Adventure had been my younger son's favorite and we thought a little water fun was just what we needed after being trapped in a mine for an hour. 

SPLASH MOUNTAIN WAS CLOSED. Not even kidding. A yellow-flagged rope drawn across yet another labyrinthian line tested our faith in Mickey. 

But we were not to be deterred. The boys really wanted to do the "Jedi Training" that friends of theirs had told them about. If they got their "Jedi Master" badges or certificates or whatever the day would not be a total loss. (Only three hundred dollars to become a Jedi Master? What a deal!)

As we looked at the map, which did not seem to show "Jedi Training" anywhere, we passed by a boarded up area that said, "Star Wars area under construction. A new and improved exhibit coming in 2011" (or something like that....). 

There would be no Jedi Training today. 

At this point we had been in the park for over two hours and we had yet to do one thing. I was DONE. I turned to my husband and said, "If this is the happiest place on earth, I want to kill myself."

And that was it, Disneyland was over for us. 

There was no way I was going to pay THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS for that. I walked up to the nearest employee I could find - a middle-aged man dressed as Buzz Lightyear - and asked him where I needed to go to get my  money back. 

"You're serious?" he asked, with a smirk on his face.

"I'm serious," I said, very seriously. 

I had started to think about how things had gone down - and, yes, how much we had paid for things to go down that way - and I was pissed. 

"City Hall, in the center of Main Street," he said, adding in true Disney spirit, "Have fun!"

"I will," I replied, not knowing just how much. 

As we walked back to Main Street the boys voiced their thoughts about our day at Disneyland: 

"If this is the happiest place on earth, I want to kill MY self, " my older son said, repeating my comment from earlier. 

"The most awful thing I can think of is less awful than Disneyland, " said my younger son, finding a way to express his disappointment.  

I marched my family straight to City Hall. On the way my husband tried to suggest that they wait outside, but I knew I needed the kids to be there to make this work. My plan, if I encountered any resistance to a full refund, was to suggest that a YouTube video of my kids repeating the above statements probably wasn't in their best interest and that it would be easier for them to just give me my money back. 

Luckily, I didn't have to resort to threats (which, to my credit, I knew were not coming from my Higher Self, but my Higher Self was still stuck inside Indiana Jones' mine shaft). Unlike the rest of Disneyland, their customer service lived up to its reputation and we were given a full refund after talking to only two employees. 

The first knew by my tone and demeanor that I was not to be trifled with and wasted no time in passing me off to his supervisor, Kevin, a man thirty years his junior and twenty years mine. 

Kevin made a brief attempt to "see what we can do to turn your day around," but I soon made it clear that nothing less than a full refund was going to do the trick. 

What I didn't realize is that a full refund comes with one extra benefit - an escort out of the park. 

That's right, we were escorted out of Disneyland! 

I couldn't have asked for a happier ending. Something about being escorted out after the day we had just made me....HAPPY. Giddy really. I danced a jig, I gave a cheer and then I started to laugh.

Soon, we were all laughing. Deep, loud belly laughs like I hadn't laughed in months. 

We recounted the past few minutes, "The look on Buzz Lightyear's face....the fear in the customer service people's eyes...." 

We invented a new game called, "_________ is better than Disneyland," deeming things like Brussels sprouts and nail trimmings, homework and liver as all "better than Disneyland," and we just kept on laughing, all the way back to our hotel. 

Maybe Disneyland really IS the happiest place on earth. 

The thing is I know lots of families and lots of people who have gone to Disneyland and LOVED it, had the time of their lives. It really was, for them, a dream come true. 

That is why this quote hit me so hard on the plane ride home. We try so hard to be a "one-size-fits-all" society. THIS is great! THAT is great! DO THIS! DON'T DO THAT! DISNEYLAND! BABY SIGN LANGUAGE! IMMERSION EDUCATION!

But the truth is, one size never does fit all. It never has, and it never will, "...[W]hat is poison and what is medicine...means something different for each of us." 

There were women at Disneyland wearing high heels, drinking 16-oz lattes, and pushing babes in strollers. Just one of those things - Disneyland - put me over the edge, I can't imagine that I would have survived all four. But they were having fun, or at least appeared to be. 

I know there are people for whom our day at Disneyland, including the full refund and escort out of the park, would have been horrifying. For me, it was just what the doctor ordered.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

God's Currency

"We're not here to earn God's love; we're here to spend it."

If you are a lefty and you don't read Funny Times, subscribe immediately. This is the funniest, cleverest, most joyful political magazine I have ever read. It makes fun of the left and the right equally (though there is no doubt that it is a "liberal" paper) and it doesn't shy away from spirituality as so many political mags do. 

This quote is a perfect example of the joy that is Funny Times. And, it seems to me, to lead naturally to the following question: HOW can I spend God's love today? What a different world we would be living in if that was the question we were all asking.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Defining Joy

"At the beginning joy is just a feeling that our own situation is workable. We stop looking for a more suitable place to be."

In the midst of my existential crisis last week, I was blessed with this quote from my favorite American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. 

I love this definition of Joy, because it is a definition that I find possible.

So often I feel like Joy is impossible because I define it as some sort of extended or permanent state of extreme ecstasy. But if Joy is just the feeling that my situation is workable, Well! I can aspire to that. 

Maybe I can even achieve it once in awhile.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What do you REALLY want?

--From The Seattle Times online edition, February 7, 2011

What are you spending your time on?

I came across this video by chance, while reading the newspaper on the web, and it helped me to experience a moment of clarity.

Towards the end, Rocket Rivers says about Jordan, “I'm not really surprised by him because he puts in the work....he's in the gym two or three hours a, of course, it's going to pay off,” and the thought came into my head, “What do I want badly enough to spend two to three hours a day on?” 

My answer was: Enlightenment.

Now, of course, I don’t really know what that means….but when I think about it, I picture some kind of revelation, some kind of transcendence, some kind of....peace….of the kind that I feel I have been searching for all of my life.

So I have decided to rededicate myself to meditation. To spend 2 or 3 hours a day not thinking, not doing, not moving. Just allowing. Just breathing. Just being. Because if you really, really want something, you have to put in the time. You have to put in the work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Examined Life

"The unexamined life is not worth living."


If this quote is true my life must be worth living and then some. Monday I was propelled into yet another existential crisis. 

This has been a pattern of mine over the years. I am humming along, thinking that all is well when all of a sudden I read something or hear something or experience something that calls into question my whole life and how I have lived it up to this point. 

Right now that "something" is the book I quoted in my post from last week, "Sex at Dawn."  I have not even gotten to the sex part yet and it is blowing my mind.

It is about the evolution of our species and the authors' assertion is that we basically took an evolutionary wrong turn around 10,000 years ago that has led to most of the evils of the present day: war, disease, famine, reality television. 

This idea that we are all living an unnatural life is both comforting and highly disturbing. 

Comforting because it affirms my life-long feeling that things are not quite right in this life. That things could be - and should be - a little bit (or a lot bit) different, easier, less complicated and confusing, simpler. 

Highly disturbing because there is just no way to go back. Nothing anyone says or does (short of some 2012 predictions that is...) is going to turn back time on the development of agriculture (the "wrong turn" Ryan and Jetha speak of) and the industrialization of Western society.

So where do we go from here? How do we live when our whole lives have turned out "wrong?"

And the answer is: I DON'T KNOW. 

Whenever I start thinking too hard about something too big this is where I end up.  At I DON'T KNOW, and I DON'T KNOW is not a pretty place. 

I end up paralyzed by the need to know, while the words I DON'T KNOW just keep reverberating more and more loudly in my head. I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW. 

When this happens, everything is called into question and it is all I can do to function. I just wander around thinking and repeating, I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW. 

My dad always said that when I started to say I DON'T KNOW, he thought that it meant I DID know, but I didn't want to admit it because it was something too big or too scary. 

I think he was right. 

This time my I DON'T KNOW was calling into question my whole life and not just mine, the whole life of my species. That's a pretty big I DON'T KNOW. 

So here's what I DO KNOW: I do know that I don't know where we came from or how we got here or even if there is a God. I don't know if I believe in a random collision of atoms or a white-bearded man on a throne or even intelligent design. I don't know if we should be living in roving bands of hunter-gatherers or our individual castles in concrete jungles. I don't know - yet - what I truly believe about Heaven or Hell or past lives or angels. 

I know what I have been taught and told and read about, but what I TRULY BELIEVE is still eluding me. That's why I read and write and think and meditate and do everything I do. To try and figure it out. That's why I am here. 

I'll keep you posted.


Monday, February 14, 2011

What is love?

"Let me remember love is happiness and nothing else brings joy."

"Grace is acceptance of the love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear."

"...[W]ithout the ego, all would be love."

"What is not love is always fear and nothing else."

"Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this that you must look upon: sacrifice is attack, not love."

--A Course in Miracles

A late-breaking post today as I was in the midst of yet another existential crisis and did not get a post written....more on that later in the week. 

Since I really have no idea about anything today I am turning once again to A Course in Miracles to give me some insight. These are some of my favorite ACIM quotes about love. Hope you enjoy them! 

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope your day was filled with lots of love and joy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Less than I AM

"Sadness, illness, and despair, are less conditions than they are decisions - to see yourself as less than you really are."

Whoa, talk about a karmic kick in the pants!

I have been despairing of life lately. Feeling the heaviness of it, wallowing in the hardness of it, not seeing the beauty or the joy in it at all.

I'm not sure why. Biorhythms, the weather, hormones....who knows....

As I wrote last month, there is no point in asking WHY? It just is or has been. 

Today wasn't any better and my husband and I had a nice big knock-down drag-out right before I had to leave for work - always a pleasant way to start the day. 

One of the things he said to me during our "discussion" was that I don't really see myself and therefore I don't really know who I am. At the time it kind of pissed me off. 

When I got to work and opened my email, this little gem was sitting in my inbox, just waiting to kick me in the gut, metaphorically speaking. 

As soon as I read it I knew that I had somehow gotten seriously off course. I don't know why.  I don't know how. I just know it happened and that this was my nudge from the Universe to get back on track and keep things moving in a positive direction. 

Run. Meditate. Do some yoga. Breathe. To do whatever I need to do to get in touch with my Divine presence once again, to see myself as I really AM.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pondering Parenthood

 "Parents are as confused by life as anyone else. But they try very hard. "

--Rohinton Mistry from A Fine Balance

Driving home from the grocery store today I saw a sign for a preschool in the area. It said, "a relaxed trusting atmosphere for your child," or something like that....

It caused a full-body sigh of exhaustion in me as I remembered that time - not so many years ago - when my boys were toddlers and I was looking for a preschool for them.

I spent SO MUCH time on it. Online. Talking to other parents. Going on tours. Thinking. Planning. Considering. Wondering.....

Once they were in school I spent MORE TIME getting them there, picking them up, deciding which snack to bring, worrying about how they were doing, wondering if we had made the right decision....

The weight of all this time and energy got me down and I had a thought: What if we just didn't do that?

What if instead of thinking, planning, worrying, and wondering we just WERE. With our kids.

What if instead of reading, and touring and talking to other parents we just LISTENED. To our kids.

Later, when I was walking my kids home from school they were a few steps ahead of me, plotting their next Lego Star Wars Xbox mission and paying absolutely no attention to me.

As I watched them walk up the hill toward our house together I could see them walking away from me.

Some scientists believe that most of what kids learn about how to be in this world is learned in the first seven years, which would mean that my work is pretty much done.

I don't know if I believe that, but I do know that from this point on it is their friends and their peers who will have a much bigger influence on them than me and my husband. In a way, our work IS pretty much done, for better or for worse.

I know that I have failed them in many ways, taught them bad habits, failed to give them what they needed, and crushed their spirits, without even meaning to. But I hope I have also taught them many good habits, given them most of what they needed and taught them how to find what makes their spirits soar.

In any case I know that I have done the very best that I could in each moment, even if sometimes that wasn't good enough. And I have tried very, very hard.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Dearest Friends

"I will recognize in everyone my dearest friend." 


I have been feeling kind of lonely lately. 

There are a lot of people in my life, from various facets of my life, who I appreciate and enjoy spending time with and love, but it seems that they are all scattered right now. 

With so many of my friends, our paths don't seem to cross every day, or even every week. There are very few people (aside from my husband and my boys) who I see and interact with every day. 

I guess this is just a fact of modern life. We are all involved in so many things that we are constantly ebbing and flowing in and out of each others' lives. 

While pondering this new reality (up until last year when I went back to work there were other parents I was hanging out with pretty much every day), I heard the words "love everyone," and remembered this quote.  I think I might try it.

Instead of looking around and hoping to see a friend, why not see who appears in front of me today and meet that person as a friend?

Friday, February 4, 2011


"We have to recognize the various tribes we belong to and begin extricating ourselves from the unexamined assumptions each of them mistakes for THE TRUTH." 

--From the book Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha

This is a quote from my new favorite book - and I am only 31 pages into it....

This book is such genius it's all I can do to go to sleep at night and get my kids to school in the morning. All I want to do is sit and read it cover to cover. 

It's all about how we basically have it all wrong about sex and love and monogamy and pretty much everything in between and for some reason I am really digging being told that everything I think is wrong. 

I think part of it has to do with the movie I saw last night. 

"Blue Valentine" is a quiet out-of-love story about a young couple who meet, fall madly in love and get married in a complete cloud of hope and optimism that few of us are fortunate enough to experience in our lives. 

Fast forward five or six years, however, and the wheels are coming completely off this bus. 

The thing I love about this movie is that nothing "happened" to make this happen, except LIFE. 

No one cheated, no one hit anyone, no one committed a heinous or illegal act. The couple has just grown weary of each other and of their lives. Who hasn't felt that way about their life or a relationship at some point in time?

The movie ends on an ambiguous note and you do not know what is going to happen with this couple as the credits roll in bursts of fireworks interspersed with their happier moments. 

I left the theater feeling sad and hopeless, but in the best possible way. 

It was as if someone had turned the world inside out and shown me that I know nothing. That we all know nothing. That none of us knows anything. At that moment, I found this strangely comforting. 

Watching this young couple fall in love through the flashbacks I would have bet money on them to go the distance, but I would have been wrong (or at least partly wrong). 

You just never know what is going to happen to you or anyone else and there is something so liberating about knowing that you just don't know. It frees you from having to know and that feels like true freedom to me. 

It's almost as good as being told that everything I thought I knew about sex is wrong....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine

"my soul's journey

To let go of the fear and anger which imprisons my heart,
To relinquish all childish expectations and live joyfully in the 

      world  as it is -- not as I wish or imagine it to be,
To be free of the always craven and ever-craving ego,
To be released from the endless hungers of the body,
To see God in others,
To see God in everything,
To die without death and merge my consciousness into the
      cosmic sea of bliss from which I came,
To crank out two sitcoms a week that can compete
      with a deaf chick dancing her ass off...
This is my soul's journey."

--Chuck Lorre, writer and producer of The Big Bang Theory, from Vanity Card #196 

Once again the Universe provided much-needed comic relief at the perfect moment. 

After the out-of-control birthday party mentioned in my blog post for Monday, I escaped to the basement and into one of my favorite shows, The Big Bang Theory.  

For 22 blissful minutes I sat and laughed my ass off, accepting the much-needed comic relief with gratitude.

And at the end of the show I was further blessed with this message from the Universe via one of its holy messengers, Chuck Lorre.

I don't know much about this guy, other than he can write the shit out of a 22 minute sit-com and he has a healthy dose of self-awareness and self-deprecation, but I love him and consider him somewhat of a kindred spirit (or at least someone to whom I would want to be a kindred spirit). 

This little poem or bit of verse is a perfect example of the genius of Chuck Lorre because it contains the yin and yang of life so perfectly.

He, like all of us, is looking for something big and holy and lofty, and in the meantime is stuck here on earth doing something small and crass and mundane. 

And that, it seems to me, is the human fucking condition. 

We all have inside of us this soul that wants to soar and fly and reach the heights that we know are sometimes available to us; and we are all trapped inside of these bodies that shit and piss and breakdown and cause us to feel pain and anger and despair time after time, day after day, year after year. And there is nothing for us to do but live with it and accept it and - when we can - find a way to laugh about it. 

Thanks for the reminder Chuck. You are an angel in my life!