Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Time of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Today I am thankful for so many things. You are one of those things! I've been on this writing journey for a few years now and every year brings new readers with new ideas and insights. Thank you for sharing your time with me and your thoughts with all of our precious readers. You are a blessing in my life.

Today I am thankful for a new president who I believe will listen to the people and care about their lives. During Barack Obama's interview with Barbara Walters last evening he made a point of his discussions and negotiations within his security detail to allow him ways to keep his finger on the pulse of the nation. I think that's amazing and wonderful. We finally have the opportunity for a president who actually believes in the Constitution and all the good our country is and should stand for.

Today I'm thankful for my job. I have the best job in the world. Every day I go in and help really great people care for their companion animals. I spend all day getting doggie kisses and ferret hugs. And, yes, I occasionally get peed on. But what's a little pee between friends, right? I have the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible people who do the most amazing things with the little they have for themselves: rescuers who pick up a dog on the side of the road and pay for vet bills and give the dog a warm bed and good food; ladies on fixed incomes who buy bags and bags of food for the feral cats in their neighborhoods, capturing the cats and having them altered before returning them to their families; owners who care enough about their companions to give them training and learn how to be better dog moms and dog dads; and families who bring their children in and teach them about how to care for their cats or dogs--or fish or ferrets. What an awesome job to have!

Today I'm thankful for my friends. I have many acquaintences, but few real friends. I pick them very carefully. I learned many years ago that a true friend is hard to find. I had a teacher in high school who once told me that if I can go through life with one or two really true friends that I would accomplish more than most people. And her words have proven to be so true. I am blessed beyond measure by the true friends with whom I share my soul.

Today I'm thankful for the Provision of Goddess. No matter what happens (and as I've said before, happenings happen) there is always an undercurrent of support. Bills get paid. Food is on the table. A roof is overhead. And all of the pets in our home (seven dogs and eight cats) all have the best food and care that can be given to them. Goddess reaches into our lives every day and gives what we need. And we even get some of what we want. It's a wonder to see Provision every single day when so many have lack. We're not rich monetarily, but we are loved and cared for by a Goddess who created us and wants us well.

As we move through the harvest into the winter of the year, let's take a moment to remember those people who have affected our lives this year and give thanks. Let's remember those souls, animal and human alike, who have taught us this year's lessons and be thankful. And let us move into the next chapter in our lives with a grateful heart knowing that our needs are met and our daily comings and goings matter to a Goddess who loves us.

Happy Thanksgiving, all...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Live Simply

"Tis a gift to be simple; Tis a gift to be free..."

These are the words of an old song; I believe Quaker in origin. I love them. It is a gift to be simple.

Our confusion comes in thinking about the word, "simple." Simple doesn't mean short on intelligence. Simple doesn't imply an inability to understand. Simple is...well...simple! It teaches us to be uncluttered and unencumbered in this life.

Why uncluttered? Because one of the most pressing anxieties we have is our attachment to "things." When we desire something we create an attachment to it emotionally, physically and spiritually. Often our attachments keep us from fulfilling our truest self. For example, I love chocolate ice cream...alot. If I continue to allow my attachment to that object, I suffer. Emotionally, I berate myself for my lack of will power. Physically, I feel unwell and my body is in a state of ill health. Spiritually, when I give myself over to that attachment, I create a barrier between me and my higher self. All of this attachment encumbers my life and disallows me the freedom to simply live.

So why is this on my mind now? Because life is becoming over-cluttered and over-encumbered and I'm feeling the effects of it all. The stress of an encumbered life does a number on you. And as I look back over the years, I've allowed myself to become further buried under mountains of attachments: education, finances, tragedies...things. And all have worked together to put me in a place of stagnation. Stagnant is certainly not a place of growing. And we all must grow to live...if not, we're dying.

I look around my house and there's stuff everywhere. I've never been a cluttery sort of person, but here I am in the midst of stuff that needs to be done. I've neglected my physical self for so long that I struggle to do the most mundane of tasks. I eat poorly. Sleep poorly. Exercise poorly. It's no wonder I feel the way I do. And all of it affects my spiritual well-being beyond measure. So what keeps me in bondage to it all? Me. Just me. I am responsible for my life.

We've gotten away from personal responsibility in recent years. If you're unhappy, it's your mom's fault. If you can't keep a job, it's your boss' fault. Ad infinitum. No. All things are under your control. True, you cannot control what "happens." Happenings happen all the time. What can you control? Your response to them all. My response to them all.

So, in response to the stressors in my life, I buried myself under mounds of objects and food. But there comes a time when you face yourself in the mirror and realize all is not how you expected it to be. Life is a chore. And that's when it hits you...simplify. Take control and simplify life so I can truly live.

So, today Goddess speaks to me of simplicity. I'm being urged to clean out the clutter, organize and do away with many of the attachments in my life. I am compelled to care more about myself and my health. And I know deep in my heart of hearts that by doing so, I will set my spirit free, as well as my mind and body.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. It used to be, as I remember it, a very important day. But over the years, it has been relegated to minor parades and small cemetery ceremonies. I think that ought not be so. For to whom do we owe this country? Veterans.

I grew up with a veteran. My father was a vet of WWII and Korea. He was a submariner. He loved his country. We went to the parades on Veterans Day every year. I even remember marching in some of them with various civic groups. But the one thing that stands out in my mind, even after all of these years, is my father standing for every single American flag that passed by. Every one. He didn't stay seated. He didn't turn around and pretend it wasn't there. He stood and saluted.

When we would sit together as a family at these parades, my parents in their lawn chairs and me on the curb, I would notice a wistfulness in his eyes. His countenance changed when those flags marched by. As a child, I didn't understand. As an adult, I may not fully understand but I see. I see that same look in the eyes of The Greatest Generation.

On one forum recently, a poster stated that to be a hero was to do the courageous thing, think it nothing but their job, and be silent in honor of those who gave all. I'm thinking that might be true. You see, my father never spoke of his military service. Only once did I get a glimpse of that world when a PBS documentary came on about submariners. He spoke very little. We visited the USS Drum here in Alabama and went through the sub. Still, very little words were spoken. It was a humbling experience, nonetheless. My dad was silent.

Later, after he passed away, I started looking into his service. I remembered the name of a sub he was on. I found their reunion group. A few of the old sailors were still alive and remembered my father. One even had a drawing he did of my dad all those years ago. He had kept it and never knew why. Well, now we know. He was kind enough to send it to me. I found that he was a Plank Holder on that sub, one of the Mighty Mine Dodgers. They fought in the precarious, mine-filled waters off the coast of Japan. I am amazed at the strength my father had at such a young age.

But, when I consider that strength and remember the man who saluted every American flag he passed, I'm not surprised. He carried himself with honor and integrity his whole life. He was a walking picture of the quintessential American veteran: full of respect for his country and his countrymen.

And in honoring my father, I must say a word about my partner. She served almost 15 years in uniform. Fifteen months of that service was active duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Like other soldiers, sailors and Marines I've known, she carries that honor and integrity as a banner. She speaks of the fallen as the heroes. She simply did her job. But to me, she will always be a hero for her service. And it is this love of God and Country that drew me to her. She, like my father, loves America and that for which it stands.

And last, we must remember not only those who gave their lives, but those who have not returned home. How many of our beloved military personnel are still not repatriated? And what has our nation done to return them home? Yes, every now and again you hear of remains that are found and returned. But it is rare. And we hardly ever hear of them. I would hope that we would honor our commitment to them and work to ensure all of our soldiers are returned to the country for which they died.

My father's brother was killed in VietNam. My dad served in WWII and Korea. My partner's father served in VietNam and was career military. My partner served in OIF. Like other families, there is a long and wonderous military tradition that should be respected, honored and celebrated.

Let me close with this story: After my father passed away, I felt such a gut need to connect with him. I planned a vacation to Washington DC. I wanted to walk among the monuments to previous wars and soldiers. I wanted to experience this America for which my father would have offered himself to die. I wanted to see the VietNam Wall and find my uncle's name. I needed to walk Arlington National Cemetery and see my uncle's gravesite. I needed to pay my respects to all who gave so much so that I could live in the greatest country on the planet.

It was a most memorable visit. I went to all the places I wanted to see. I took etchings of my uncle Bobby's name on the wall and sent them to my father's two remaining brothers, one of whom served in the Navy during WWII. I bowed my head at the grave of my uncle. And all of these were life changing for me.

But the greatest touch of all came at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I couldn't help but think of the families whose loved ones were entombed there. For decades, these families have lived not knowing the fate of their loved ones. And, yet, there were here, celebrated and honored every hour of every day...rain, snow, sleet or shine. I stood in the heat and watched the changing of the guard. The preciseness of their movements, every step in honor of the fallen. I was moved by every click of the heels on their shoes. Every salute was so perfectly performed and timed. And it wasn't just the precise nature of it all. It was why the precise nature. Every movement, every salute, every step was there to honor a fallen comrade known only to God.

I can't say if people noticed the sweat pouring down my forehead. But I can tell you there were tears streaming down my cheeks. They were tears of gratitude for a country and for the men and women who have made it possible with their sacrifices. And today, you'll probably see a tear now and again as I remember why this holiday is so significant.

Please, take a moment this day to thank Goddess for men and women of strength, courage and honor who selflessly serve our great nation. And then thank a soldier for their service. Chances are they'll be self-effacing and point to those who gave all. But, please remind them that they are heroes, too.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Back of the Bus

I'm an avid reader of AmericaBlog. I'm addicted to it. I read it several times a day. Today, John Aravosis writes on the loss of civil rights for gays and lesbians.

I had great hopes for people in California seeing beyond the hate and voting to support gay and lesbian marriages. I mean, California is a big, blue state. And I'm disappointed that churches would dump hundreds of thousands of dollars in another state to control who gets to celebrate their love with whom. The Mormon church should be ashamed of themselves.

This is a new blog I found and I cannot agree more with the writer. How would these folks who voted against gay marriage and gay adoption/foster feel if the rest of us decided they were worthy of our hate? What if tomorrow, when the votes were counted, all of their marriages were declared void and their children declared illegitimate?

I think they would rise up in anger, claiming that the majority had no right to take away their lives. What would they do without access to their loved ones in hospitals? What would happen if they all lost their spousal survivor benefits and found themselves without recourse to keep what they worked, with their spouses, so hard to maintain? What would happen if the state came in and took their children because they were no longer able to adopt or foster?

All hell would break loose. And you know it would! So why are we sitting back and allowing bigots to control our country. Although President-elect Obama doesn't agree with using the term "marriage" to describe our relationships, I hope and pray he will look beyond his own fears and issues to grant us an equal place at the table.

And to our gay and lesbian friends, I say, don't walk to the back of that bus! Don't turn away from that place at the lunch counter! Don't allow bigotry to stand. Stand up. Be counted. Continue the fight.

On this day, civil rights have been hilighted as we've elected our first black president. Let today be the day the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens are hilighted as we stand against the new acceptable bigotry: hatred of us and our desire to be full citizens of this country we love.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


My friends,
Tonight we celebrate a new beginning to an age old story: the wonder that is the United States of America.

I'm almost 50 years old. As a very young child, I remember seeing those signs that read "coloreds only" next to bathrooms and water fountains. I remember riding the bus with my grandmother and wondering why all of the black families were in the back of the bus. As a child, none of it made sense to me. Children, in their innocence, look beyond labels. They don't see color. And I didn't see color as a child, either. And no explanation could make sense of what my eyes saw--as opposed to what my heart knew was right.

Regardless of what a wonderful country we have, we continue to have divisions by race, gender, religion. But on this night, we reached across those divisions. We reached toward hope. We reached away from the nightmare that has been the presidency of GW Bush. We elected a black man as president of the United States of America. And not only a black man, but a man of character, honesty, integrity and intelligence.

And as I sat and listened to Obama's speech, my mind went back to the days of my childhood. I thought of all of the signs I saw. I remembered all of the hateful words I heard. And I had hope. I had hope of a new day. I have hope of a new day. And as I listened, tears began to well up inside. Those tears overflowed and streamed down my face as I felt proud of America and of Americans. I can hold my head up again and not feel ashamed of our administration. I can know in my heart that MY president thinks of me. And that he thinks not of me only, but of all Americans.

Today I have hope that we will bring our troops home! Would that not a single other person have to die for GW Bush's war of personal aggression. May all of the stars on the lapels of Americans be BLUE stars, not GOLD: Blue stars for soldiers brought home from war in one piece, restored to their families.

Today I have hope that our economy will turn around and jobs will increase. I have hope that our country will become prosperous once again. I believe that, if our elected officials will put aside partisan politics and reach across the aisle, we can be great once again. In in so doing, we will restore the respect of the world toward the United States of America!

Now it's up to us to support our President. It's up to us to pray, send protecting energies toward, and trust Wisdom to make her home with him.

Yes we can! Yes we can!