Thursday, November 30, 2006


I used to think, not so long ago, that it was somehow virtuous to oppose others. My defiance was energizing. It was how I knew I was alive.

I was secretly proud whenever I heard myself referred to as a hothead. Having been painfully shy throughout childhood (and adulthood in certain situations), it was taken as a supreme compliment.

There was one problem. Several years ago I read somewhere the nagging question: "Would you rather be right, or would you rather be spiritual?" Try as I might, I couldn't get that nagging question out of my mind, especially following my trademark explosions.

At work, I am a member of a committee in which I strongly disagree with the other members on a current issue. My serenity has been ruined for weeks over this. It's the kind of upset which pervades nearly every waking moment- it's unshakeable.

Finally I've accepted that it's my choice to suffer over this. I spoke my mind; therefore my individual job was finished. The mistake I made was in pushing against the others afterwards, as if I could convince them that I was right. That's NOT my job. My job is to express my opinion when appropriate, even tweaking it when my perception changes. Beyond that, I am a member of a group, and my opinion hopefully melds with that of the others.

At home, I have certainly been guilty of pushing myself against the child and the Chihuahua. For example, I used to become livid whenever the dog behaved in a manner I deemed inappropriate. I yelled at the cowering animal as if he had wrecked my very life. But then, during the few days leading up to his castration, I softened, remembering that Paris Hilton's Chihuahua died during the same surgery. He survived the surgery, and I've been treating him like royalty ever since.

Has his behavior changed? Not really- only mine has, but my life is better. The dog bounces off the ceiling when he sees me, crying and even howling with joy. When things like that happen, with nothing but joy going on, I know I'm living the life I was meant to live. I'm being true to my nature.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

a morning of contrast

Ever since re-committing to a more spiritually oriented life I've been receiving email inspiration each morning from the teachings of Abraham. Today's was, as usual, simple yet potent. Its topic was following one's bliss, and it stated that if you feel joy and speak of joy, then you're following your bliss,and therefore your life's purpose. Abraham is always reminding us that our emotions guide us if we let them, and that's how we know when we're on or off course. I'm trying to learn this lesson. I know that, regarding my #1 dilemma of the year, whenever I drive through the urban neighborhood which I think I want to move to, I feel energized, glad to be there, and generally stirred. Where I live now I feel dull, isolated, lonely, wistful.

A few short minutes after reading today's Abraham message, my child, who had been leafing through a catalog from Plow & Hearth, exclaimed, "Mama! Listen to this! They're selling a tool to get you out of a car when you're trapped inside!.......How do people get trapped inside their cars???!!"

This was a rude awakening from my Abraham-induced wonder. I took the catalog from the incredulous child and examined the ad for the "Lifehammer" tool. Like the child, I couldn't imagine how people became trapped inside cars. We laughed about the silly notion at first, until I read the explanation. This tool is intended for people trapped inside a wrecked vehicle. The LifeHammer will slice through a locked seatbelt with its protected razor, then smash out the window with the precision steel, double headed hammer. There is also a key chain version of this tool which you can carry with you at all times to ward of any and all unforseen disasters.

All I can say is, I'm glad that I'm not fear-based enough to be a candidate for the Lifehammer. Good heavens. Every choice we make determines the course and quality of our lives. What kind of message do the buyers of LifeHammer send to the universe? I choose to recycle the catalog and head out to the college art museum, throwing caution to the wind, inviting joy, not tragedy.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

a spiritual question

No doubt, some of us are more spiritually oriented than others. I, for one, used to harbor some mighty lofty ideals until my child came onto the scene. Then real life set in. Navigating through each day became my loftiest goal. The spiritual life would have to wait.

Then, a few days ago, I decided that one of the things which could improve my life right now might be a little dose of spirituality. On Monday, I set out to re-establish daily meditation, for starters. Next I signed up to receive daily inspirational quotes via internet from a favorite "guru." I hauled out my top ten spiritual books and started reading.

On a roll, I realized that there was one particular book I must have. I knew exactly where to find it: there's a very eclectic bookstore situated in a large 80-year-old house nearby. Something memorable usually happens to me when I go there, and today was no exception.

First of all, miraculously, when I opened the creaky old door and walked in, the first thing I saw upon entering was the very book I had desired. As I paid for it, the cashier and I wandered into a discussion of the power of intent, a popular topic these days and appropriate considering the magical positioning of that book. I told her I had no problem believing in our ability to determine the course of our lives with our thoughts and spoken words, but I said I was stuck on one aspect. She wanted me to elaborate, and I said I wasn't sure what I really wanted. I do believe I have power to materialize my desires, yet I can't figure out what they are!

I explained my dilemma regarding whether or not I should move to the urban neighborhood (which I've already blogged about ad nauseum). Is it really best for myself and my child to move there? I can't tell!

This bookstore is no Barnes and Noble- it's more like a library, where a tacit call for reverence prevails. So I whispered to her, bending over closer to her ear, "I DESPISE suburbs!" in the most emphatic whisper that I thought the store could tolerate.

She looked at me for several seconds, stunned. "I thought you said you lacked clarity!? You just spoke to me loud and clear about your desire. It couldn't be more clear to I'm getting goosebumps....this happens to me whenever I'm involved in a profound spiritual interaction...oh, my, now I'm starting feel really hot....this is very significant..."

I left the store wondering, like the dutiful doubting betty that I am, whether I had finally been given a sign. Should I just shut up and go with it, and set out to visualize my Victorian house downtown, or was this a trick, played out by two bumbling seekers trying desperately to make sense out of the universe?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Experimental Meditation

It's time to put my money where my mouth is. For as long as I can remember I've been repeating this mantra: "Oh, I know exactly what I need. I don't need a book or a guru or a counselor to tell me this. The only thing that's going to slow down the whirling is meditation."

I am tired of seeming so unsure of myself. Decisions are agonizing torture, calling for advice from anybody who'll bid me the time of day. It's quite amazing, come to think of it, that I actually went into action last summer and put my house up for sale. I can only explain it by assuming that enough people told me to do it. Granted, they were all sick of hearing me debate with myself, ad infinitum, as to whether I should move to the urban neighborhood I coveted, where I could walk (instead of drive) to my life's destinations.

I even used you, my blog readers. Many of you indulged me with encouragement and suggestions regarding what is becoming my theme of the year : to move or not to move.

Now, my house still sits on the market, with showings (for potential buyers) fewer and farther between, as winter approaches. The ever-active whirling dervish of my mind wonders: "Hmmmmm....this must mean that I wasn't meant to move......this house IS in a great location, after all, on this incredible rose garden....if these people can't appreciate my house, then I'll just STAY here- I'll show 'em...although I do hate living in the suburbs....yet as time passes and my savings seem to be dwindling, I see that I can't really afford the more expensive, trendy urban neighborhood- that's the reality of the situation...why can't I live in the area I want to, in the house I want? there any way I can make it happen?........should I get a new realtor?.......maybe if I could find a man to hook up with, together we could afford what I want....etc., etc." This is what it's like inside my head.

It's nothing that a little meditation can't fix, right? We'll see. Instead of agonizing over neighborhoods, (or any of the other more fleeting issues like whether or not I was dissed at work) the theme of this week is going to be MEDITATION, and my objective is to slow down, and to empty, my mind. Its chatter is driving me crazy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Effect of James Carden, Part II

Exactly one year ago I published a post about my 10th grade history teacher, James Carden. He was one of those inspiring zealots who leave lasting impressions on the people they encounter.

I voted today. I might have voted even if I hadn't known James Carden, but it would have happened with more detachment, I'm sure. James Carden taught me, a very non-political person, to care, and to act accordingly. And if the truth be known, during a frighteningly apathetic time of my life, I didn't bother to vote, and didn't give a rat's ass about it, either. Then I remembered James Carden.

He was intense, by golly. He didn't speak; he bellowed. If it wasn't important, then he didn't bother to say it. His words were punctuated by fists pounding and face reddening. His body paid the price- his heart condition required him to pop glycerin pills upon each outburst.

I don't favorably recall many events from my school years, but I do fondly remember our political debates in James Carden's class. That's how he taught us to care, even though it was very uncool for teenagers to do so. In the safety of his classroom, away from our peers who wouldn't get it, he ignited our fires, built to burn for a lifetime.

I voted today, and I cared about and had researched each of my choices. I thought of James Carden as I was handed my "I voted today" sticker. James Carden's fire has surely been snuffed out by now, but the many others he lit burn steadily.