Saturday, April 30, 2005


When I took my car to the shop to get the rear shock-strut repaired, I had intended to replace the good side, too, in order to keep too much pressure off the right side. Usually a good idea when repairing anything that has two sides. Surprise! They screwed up my paycheck by over $400. So I got only one side done.

My wiper blades are in bad need of replacing ever since I pulled the right one loose from the frozen trough on the windshield, pulling off the rubber blade. No big. It was time to replace them anyway. Surprise! Brent, the mechanic from Fraser Auto, brought my car back in the gnashing teeth of a blizzard, complete with ice, rain, snow and flesh slicing winds and the wipers hadn't been replaced. He had to order them. Good news? It was still light -- sort of. I drove him back to the shop but couldn't pay for everything because his computer was down. Surprise! I pulled back onto the road for home as the gods slammed down the horizon blinds, fighting winds determined to flip me casually off the road and into every ditch and guard rail and over the bridge between Fraser and Tabernash. I had to stop every few hundred yards to face the lacerating sleet, snow, and deadly breeze to clear the ice off the mangled wiper blades so I could see enough to keep driving toward home. I didn't have any gloves and my jacket was insufficient to the task. Good thing I didn't wash my hair that day. The accumulation of sleety snow eventually melted enough to drench my hair. The only thing I lacked was shampoo and conditioner. I did make it home despite the defogger failing to defog the window and stopping to clear the windshield by hand.

Brent told me I could come in the next day and get the new wiper blades and pay for the repairs. When I woke the sun was shining, throwing rainbow glints off trees drooping with heavy, wet snow. Surprise! I recognized the heap of snow that was my car under a foot and a half of snow. And the guys didn't come to plow. Good thing I still had plenty of junk food left over from my junk food fest the night before. (Joy at the Snooty Coyote gave me a ton of free Frito-Lay products left by the retiring delivery guy. Surprise!)

It continued to snow on and off throughout the rest of the day and it was snowing when I woke at 6:22 this morning determined to unsnow my car and drive down to Fraser. Surprise! When I opened the door an avalanche threatened me and knocked me to the floor. Snow from the steeply pitched roof obscured the windows on the first floor, neither of which I could see in the narrow closed-in entry, and buried the paving stones under the covered walkway. I floundered through the snow toward my car, found the handle and pulled it open while snow from the roof, door and windows deluged the front seat. At least it would keep my butt wet and cool. Just what I needed. I cranked the ignition, but the car wasn't in the mood to cooperate; it knew what awaited it. I was determined and it finally, weakly, and reluctantly gave in and turned over. While it warmed up I circled the car in thigh-deep, wet, clinging and insidious snow with my long-handled scraper and cleared the windows and windshield, prying up the useless wiper blades and clearing them of ice. Back inside the car, I said a quick little prayer and hit the gas, forcing my way down the driveway. Surprise! The county plowed the road at the end of the drive and left me a big foot-high fence of snow and ice. I geared down to low, hit the accelerator and bucked my way across the impasse and onto the cleared road. So far so good.

Hit the post office, crept into the parking lot at the repair shop and got out. Surprise! The wiper blades were there, but so was a bill much larger than I expected, especially since I had declined the left side repair. At least the shock-strut is under warranty and I can get my money back from that -- when I get to Arvada the next time. I paid the bill and winced when he ran my card through the machine that -- Surprise! -- didn't want to work. It finally did and I folded up my receipt while Brent got his screwdriver and headed for the car. He replaced the wipers quickly and offered to adjust the blade arms down because they weren't hitting the windshield at the right angle. He started working and then walked away while I paced and walked around. Fifteen minutes, no Brent. Twenty-five minutes, no Brent. Thirty minutes, no Brent. Surprise! He forgot about me. I picked up his screwdriver laying on the power steering pump, dropped the hood, walked the screwdriver back inside and drove around the building to get gas and fill the tires with air.

The rest of the day was pretty anticlimactic -- for a change. I got my groceries, dropped off the DVDs at the Fraser post office, and headed for home with my wiper blades clearing every speck of dust and dribble of snow that hit and melted on the unfogged windshield. Surprise! Yes, another storm was on the way. It was Brent's fault. He got his jeep out and cleaned it up because last weekend the weather was clear, sunny and warm. He angered the weather gods and they dumped their cold revenge on us every day since last Sunday.

So here I sit. I have no new movies to watch, too many books to read and review, plenty of junk food left from my orgy Thursday night, and a gathering distrust of the weather gods. They continue to spit their cold fury down on my world and I wonder if this year, like last year, spring will be a no-show and summer will appear and disappear in two weeks. Surprise! I won't be here to see it -- if I ever get out of here -- because the weather gods are much kinder on the other side of the Continental Divide. I must remember to offer a proper and generous sacrifice in the Garden of the Gods after I move to make sure they don't follow me and spit cold fury on me any more as I get lost among the multitudes in Colorado Springs.

For once, I'm looking forward to no more -- Surprise!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Mea culpa

For the nonliterary and non-Catholics out there, mea culpa means through my fault. It has come to mean forgive me.

No, I don't need forgiveness, but forgiveness is on my mind. Forgiveness for being wrong.

If someone admits to being wrong but you never see or hear them say they're wrong, does that mean they're infallible or that they believe they are always right? Or must they go to everyone who knows them and admit being wrong when it doesn't concern or involve them? Should they say, "Last (fill in the blank) I was wrong about something I said to (fill in the blank) or believed about (fill in the blank) and I just wanted you to know so that you wouldn't think I'm never wrong??

Do we owe everyone we come in contact with a laundry list of our faults, mistakes and misconceptions just to prove to them we make mistakes and have flaws? Should we list every time we used WiteOut or rewrote something? Is it necessary to enumerate our sins and lies to prove we're human? Or is it enough simply to accept that no one is perfect and that we all make mistakes? Do we need people to prove to us that they are worthy of our friendship because they don't agree with us or feel they're right about something with which we do not agree?

Seems to me that kind of thinking would keep everyone so busy nothing would ever get done.

For me, I don't care if you agree with me or not. My opinions are MY opinions. They change as I learn and change and grow, but they are still my opinions. I don't feel it necessary to tell you that I once believed wholeheartedly in Christianity, or that for a short time I was fascinated by and interested in Mormonism, or that long ago I believed that no water that came from reprocessed human waste could be drinkable again.

Over the years I have read and learned and experienced many things and I have changed my mind countless times about philosophy, religions and people. I once believed that illegal immigrants had no place in America and that they should be rounded up and sent back, until I met one of them and became friendly with him. I learned a lot about what really goes on in this country with regard to illegal immigrants and how different branches of the government treat them very differently. I once believed that having a lot of possessions and money and property was more important than anything else; I don't believe it any longer. I haven't for a long time.

Was I wrong to believe that possessions were more important than anything else, that security and success were all that mattered? If so, there are millions upon millions of people all around the world who are wrong, too. I believe very differently now.

I make mistakes all the time. To the people who view my mistakes, I admit I'm wrong. So until I make a mistake in the middle of the Super Bowl on live television on a satellite feed, don't count on me admitting it to the world. If you're not there or you didn't pay attention when you were, tough luck. You missed your chance to feel superior and to have proof that I am human. In the meantime, you'll just have to take my word for it and watch a whole lot closer.

After all, that's why they invented spell checker and WiteOut and dictionaries and answer keys in the first place.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Out damned spot

I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders and I can't stop smiling. Everything is brighter even though the sky is as white as the frosting on the trees and ground. So many things have changed, but the biggest factor was getting rid of some of the negativity that has been weighing on me and holding me back. My positive attitude is affecting others, too. Not just my family but close friends, too.

Smiling and happiness is infectious.

Go infect a lot of someones today.

That's an order!

I'll shut up now.

Black and white

Ever notice how friends will jump on the bandwagon and back you up when you tell them someone you know is being nasty to you? They don't need to know the details because they know you. But do they really know you? The real you? Probably not.

In this world of faster communications, email, instant messages, chat rooms, and the Internet, one of the biggest problems is perception. Two people can read the same message and see totally different meanings. One person writes in a calm and collected way. The other person reads it and sees anger and recrimination. Without little smiley faces and stage directions (like HUGS, LOL, JUST KIDDING, etc.) people read into what you write what they're feeling. If they're having a bad day, nothing you say is coming to come out friendly or even nice.

For instance:
An English professor wrote the words, "woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing."
The women wrote: "Woman! Without her, man is nothing."

Communication problems and differences are not just gender related. They crop up between man and man and woman and woman all the time. It's always about perception.

I had a run-in with a friend this week. She took exception to me writing about our conversations, emails and discussions on my journal because I had not asked her permission first. I have always written what matters to me, what affects me, and what I think. After all, it's my journal. The situation escalated until she attacked me publicly on my journal in comments and I responded calmly and logically to her rants. Things escalated further when she ranted at me for making the situation public. I didn't mention any names and no one would have known it involved her had she not put it out there, but she blamed me for holding her up to public ridicule and said anyone could go thru my friends list and figure out it was her. I explained that most people don't prowl through my friends list trying to figure out who I'm talking about. She responded with, "I don't do that." I had to smile. I was speaking generally and she considered it an attack on her.

The thing is, she does do that. She has followed me to other communities on many occasions and casually mentions the information in an email as if I had told her. One thing about being completely open is that you don't have to worry about remembering what you told different people. I tell everyone the same thing. And I have learned from bitter experience not to tell her everything. After all, that's why I still keep a paper journal, so I can keep some thoughts to myself.

I eventually screened the comments so that no one could see her melt down but she failed to recognize that. Very few hours later she made a tearful post in her journal saying that because of a certain situation she was going to take time off from writing in her journal and that she didn't want to talk about it. Two days later I told her she was being childish and doing exactly what she had criticized so many other people for doing -- creating drama and talking about not writing in her journal and/or deleting journals, both of which she did. So she wrote another post to clarify things and a mutual friend let her have it between the eyes about her ignoring them and treating her badly. She jumped right back at the other person, carrying on an argument in public, losing her cool and generally making an ass of herself. When the other person suggested screening the comments, she said she didn't know how (uh huh) and that she preferred to live her life in the public eye without editing (right). Several people jumped on the bandwagon with a variety of nasty comments and how they understood how she felt and what she was going through and that she didn't need to explain herself to anyone who knew her. They were right.

She doesn't have to explain herself to anyone who knows her, but they don't know her. They know the person she has created online and not the real her. But I know her intimately. I've spent lots of time with her up close and personal. Still, you have to admire people who are willing to run to a friend's rescue, even though they are not really friends but merely acquaintances.

Friend is a word that is used as indiscriminately and love and few people really know what it means. It is doubtful any of them would be willing to throw themselves between her and danger and give their lives for her, and that is the definition of a friend. I'd push someone out of the way or help someone in danger, but there are few people I'd give my life for. I enjoy living it a whole lot.

Anyway, the main point of this post is to draw attention to how we treat people and what we really do and do not know about them. It is so easy to defend someone you think is a friend and whom you believe to be mistreated, but next time you jump to someone's defense, take a little time and ask yourself if you really know the whole truth. If you don't, step back, ask some questions, or, better yet, stay out of it. You may be defending the wrong person. After all, what do you really know about them from personal experience and observation? Do you know only what you read in their journals or what they've told you? Do you really know them at all?

Think about it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Suicide Bear

The EVIL ONE loaned me his library book, another tale of a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. But this one was different. It's not just another chronological journal of hiking the trail with blisters and toenails turning black and falling off or falling down on wet rocks and scraping your hide completely off, but an interesting mix of fears, insights, revelations and experience. As Far As The Eye Can See by David Brill is a thoughtful and richly descriptive book that gives you more than the hardships of the Appalachian Trail; it explains how the trail changes your way of thinking and you.

My favorite part of the book was the suicide bear. The park rangers say the bear is covered with scabs and his fur is patchy where he's fallen and injured himself pretty badly, but he's also very fat and sleek.

One of the tricks of hiking anywhere you need to carry food is hanging your food bag in a tree several hundred yards from where you sleep so that if bears do come into your camp they won't bother you and they might not get your food if you hang it right. After all, there's nothing worse than knowing you have many miles to go before you can replenish your food and water and you wake up to find your food bag destroyed or missing. Some people keep their food in metal bear proof containers. While that works to a certain extent, it does add a lot to your pack weight.

Anyway, the suicide bear is an ingenious fella. He climbs the tree where you hang your food bag, climbs out as far as he can on the limb and then swings himself from the branch trying for the bag. Most of the time he fails and comes crashing to the ground in the bushes or onto rocks or roots or stumps or -- well, you get the idea. Food bag 1 Suicide bear 0

He doesn't give up this wily bear. He keeps climbing the tree, climbing out on the branch and swinging towards the food bag, falling, dusting off his bleeding and aching hide, kicks away the clumps of fur and flesh, and goes for it again. Eventually he gives up and heads for the next food bag, and the cycles continues. Obviously, despite his ragged and battered appearance, the suicide bear is still alive, swinging from trees and scoring enough to keep him sleek and fat.

Brill's book isn't all humorous moments. Some of what he describes is sheer poetry, but all of the book is pure unadulterated human experience of the best kind.

Even if you're not planning to hike the Appalachian Trail, or any trail for that matter, pick up the book and treat yourself to a few hours of pleasure. You'll be glad you did.

Negativity flies

I know it sounds all new age, but I am still amazed at people who are always so negative and never get why they have so much trouble. It's not big things like their kids breaking a limb or losing their job or anything like that, but little things like the car breaking down suddenly or finding a mustard stain on your favorite blouse right before meeting someone for dinner or an interview. It's like iron filings to a magnet or flies to a manure pile, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That would seem to indicate that negativity would create the opposite reaction of positivity, but it doesn't.

I know lots of people who seldom, if ever, think a negative thought, like who is the most positive and optimistic person I know. He never has anything bad to say about anyone and even when he has a negative moment he checks himself and remembers how good he has it and that he has so much more to be thankful for.

There are times when I think I'm going to fail or someone doesn't like me, but then I remember how good I have it and how many times I have fallen only to land on my feet. I'm not rich. I'm not famous. I'm not beautiful. I am very blessed. No matter where the path has led (and it has led to some very dark places over the years) I have always been able to find the light. I'm just realizing that my optimistic attitude has been the main reason why I have always come out all right.

We can't keep negative things from happening in our lives, but we can lessen their impact and reduce their numbers by a positive attitude, find the good in any given situation. It takes practice because negativity is a powerful force, much like a black hole or that pile of manure attracting the flies. In a very silly way it is like Yoda and Darth Vader with the force and the dark side of the force, and we know who won that battle in the end.

I'll shut up now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

We voted for them... it's time they work for us.

For the past nine months I have been wrangling with the government over a settlement I am owed. In the meantime, my life was turned upside down. Last night, after months and months of calls and getting no info, conflicting info, or just plain nowhere, I got an intelligent person who told me more in ten minutes than I have learned in over nine months. She also gave me a tip, which I used this morning.

I called the local representative on the case this morning and was told he was in a meeting but would call me back later. I've heard that one before -- lots of times. I told the woman on the phone who I was and what I wanted and that if he didn't get back to me today I would be calling my Senators and congressmen and the media to see how they felt about the way my case has been handled.

He called me this afternoon full of apologies. I told him I knew he was busy and I didn't want apologies I wanted and answer. He was out of breath, but he stammered out that given the circumstances that he could expedite my case and get my settlement to me. After hearing similar assurances before I wasn't ready to throw in the towel so I asked exactly what he meant by expedite things.

"I'll send you the forms."

I groaned. "How long will this take."

"I'll get the forms in the mail today. No, wait, the mail has already run. I'll send them first thing tomorrow."

"And then what?" I asked.

"Fill them out, send them back and we can have a check to you by the beginning of next week."

Now we're talking. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, ma'am. I'll handle it personally."

I found out they could have expedited all this months ago, but no one told me until I used the magic words: Senator, congressman, media.

I usually don't make a fuss about things, but I do state my needs and cases clearly. Still, government red tape obviously needs more than talk to get things done. This particular office doesn't want to be in the news again for incompetence and mishandling another case. I found that out last night, too, from the helpful lady who gave me the hints I needed to get things done.

I have been worried about all this because even though I found an apartment and put down a small deposit, without that money I can't move. Now I can move and move earlier than I thought.

After a thoroughly rotten day yesterday and receiving an email from my current landlords with a bill for propane charges I have already paid for twice (they don't know I know about that one), and a demand to give them a timetable on vacating the premises, I needed some good news. This was it.

I have loved living here, but with the low rent and idyllic settings came a much higher price: no privacy. The landlords came up here when I was gone without notifying me or asking my permission on many occasions. On the occasions they did call and I told them it was inconvenient, they came anyway. That wasn't in the lease.

I have many close acquaintances here in the valley and I will miss them all. I'll miss all the animals who have become so much a part of my landscape and my life, like the harem of does that come up to the deck when I talk to them and the magnificent stag and his protege that stop every time they see me, coming closer when I call to them.

However, I won't miss the movies that were not brought up here because they were too controversial or the high prices for the tickets. I definitely won't miss the landlords or their lack of regard for the lease agreement we signed. I won't miss not being able to spend more time with my friends who were afraid or unable to come up to visit me and whom I could not afford to visit because of the financial situation I have labored under for nearly a year.

I am anxious to move. So are my parents. They just closed on their house, but have not been able to close on the house they're buying because of miscommunications with the bank. And now my father is fretting himself into another heart attack because he's sure he's homeless. It doesn't help that the new owners have torn down his palisade fence, bulldozed all his bushes, shrubs, trees and flowers, and uprooted the ancient black walnut trees that stand in front of and behind the house they have lived in for 25 years. My father has to sit and wait while strangers turn the last sanctuary in what was once a thriving farming community into a used car lot, bulldozing all the love and care he lavished on the beautiful grounds so they can pave it over.

My father has never been homeless. I have. He is 77 and not equipped to handle such a drastic change in his life or the uncertainty of his future. He's not as adaptable as he once was and he has never had to face having no home to go to. Mom is taking it a little bit better because she believes everything will work out. She has seen me get into and out of tougher situations and always land on my feet. She has hope. Dad has none. And you'd think she would be the one to fold under the pressure since she is fading and her every movement is coupled with searing joint and back pain. She may need another transfusion and it's so soon after the last one. Her veins are about ready to collapse and when that happens they can do nothing more for her.

Funny, my sisters and brother and I always said we'd have to bulldoze the house when Mom and Dad died. None of us knew how right we were.

This has been a difficult time for me, although there have been some wonderful bright spots, among them a blast from the past who has brightened many moments. If not for him, maybe this time I would have succumbed to fear and depression. But Mom is right. No matter what happens to me, no matter how things seem, I always land on my feet. At least this time the mere mention of government did some good. Now I just have to find a way to help my parents weather their storm, and I will find a way. Maybe the mention of government will help them, too. Stranger things have happened.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Taoist Way or the Highway?

I received this in an email this morning in response to my post yesterday about people in unhappy marriages.

Out of a sense of ego, we force things.

The society in which we live promotes the idea, ‘If you don’t like something then DO something about it.’ But, in the Taoist mind, it may seem that all the ‘doing’ is unnatural and contrived ~ that it only serves to promote the dilemma. A sage may tell you, do nothing about it, and it will change on its own. This may be good advice, and if nothing else sounds pleasant and wise. But how many actually understand at some intuitive level what this means?

It doesn’t mean that we become a turnip staring at the walls. It means we stop forcing things. If we can’t sleep, then we can’t sleep; we don’t attempt to force sleep, and we don’t fight against the temporal manifestation of our moment. If we have too much energy, when we live naturally this energy will expend itself. If we are lacking in energy, this imbalance will also be redressed in natural living.

We simply stop forcing things, and stop assigning value which only serves to perpetuate our suffering.

While there is some merit in learning to deal with our personal lives in such a manner, when we interact with others it fails. To deal with insomnia or an excess/lack of energy by balancing our lives/diets, is one thing, but to deal with people in the same way doesn't work.

If I thought this way and was out walking with a friend who was raped at gun point, then I would just keep walking because the situation would work itself out. I wouldn't call the police or for help and I certainly wouldn't involve myself in saving my friend because that would be forcing the issue out of ego.

That way of thinking also means that if someone is in an abusive or unfulfilled or unhappy relationship, they should just go with the flow and not force things because that's their ego talking. If a spouse beats another spouse to death, not fighting back, not running away, not looking for help and simply taking the beating is the Taoist way; they would be forcing things because of ego. The same is true of people in unhappy/unfulfilling/otherwise bad marriages. Live in balance, preserve the appearance of things going well and die a little more each day because to do anything about the situation (and that includes therapy, drugs, divorce, etc.) would be egotistical.

Meeting a bear in the woods intent on having you for lunch means letting the bear have you because that is the Taoist way. To run, play dead, fight for your life is forcing things and that is the way of the ego. Forget about self preservation or happiness. Grin and bear it and things will end up as they should.

Then again, the same could be said of someone who is married and involved with someone else. The spouse, if they find out, should just let it happen and wait for things to work out and no one should feel guilty. Now that I can agree with.

There is a book called A Passage to India where in an Englishwoman visiting India becomes acquainted with an Indian man. He plays tour guide for her and her friend and plans a lavish picnic to some echoing caves. A Hindu holy man refuses to go and even deliberately misses the train just as it is leaving the station for the outing. He knows something awful is about to happen and because of his beliefs refuses to become involved. Something does happen. The woman becomes overwhelmed by the echoes in the cave and accuses her Indian acquaintance of attempting to rape her when he tries to get her out of the caves to safety. The Indian man's life is ruined and he must settle somewhere else despite having a promising career as a doctor before the Englishwoman came into his life.

Had the holy man told them what would happen or been on the scene to prevent the situation, the Indian man's life would not have been ruined. But that is the Taoist way, which is very similar to the Hindu way. It would be egotistical to intervene in any situation even when you can help.

In so many ways that philosophy, good as it may be in some areas, negates free will and the power of the individual to change his destiny and the outcome of any situation. Walk across a road just as a car runs a red light and you must stand there because you are destined to be run over by the car. Everyone watching should stand by and watch because to change destiny is to give in to ego. Running away, diving out of the way or do anything to save yourself is ego.

While I believe that if you are having a bout of insomnia and simply can't sleep it's probably best not to resort to drugs, that is my choice and my way of dealing with things. Eventually, my sleep patterns will revert to normal. Using excess energy or resting when my energy is low is something else I can deal with. But those are personal issues and mine to deal with as I choose. Forcing myself to sleep, taking some to drain the excess energy or boost a flagging energy level is one thing, but to keep from helping someone or failing to say what's on my mind or refusing to get out of a bad situation is something else again. Maybe it is ego. I prefer to think of it as steering my own destiny much the same way a ship navigates wind and wave and current to get where it is going.

I'll shut up now.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Staring into the sun

Someone I know is unfulfilled and unhappy in his marriage and he met someone else and wanted to explore being with her. It isn't that he doesn't love his wife, but he needs more than she can or is able to give him. The closer he got to the other woman the more he realized he wanted to be with her and find out what there was between them. He was afraid to tell his wife so he planned to meet the other woman secretly. They talked online and through emails, chat, IM and on the phone, but still they didn't meet in person, thinking that would be adultery. He was wrong. Adultery is as much a thought as the physical act of being together and being intimate. He was adulterous in his heart, according to current religious beliefs.

Finally, terrified of the consequences, he admitted the truth to his wife, that he was unfulfilled and wanted to be with the other woman, wanted to make love to her. His wife is unhappy and unfulfilled, too, and she told him to go be with the other woman...and he did. He still doesn't know whether or not he will end his marriage but at least he has a chance to find out what he has with the other woman, just as his wife is finding out what choices and chances she has outside of their marriage.

He earned my respect by being open and honest despite his fear. Had he not talked to his wife he wouldn't know she feels the same way he does: unfulfilled and unhappy. He and his wife love each other, but what they have is not enough. He has earned the right to complain.

Many people are unhappy in their relationships, but few are willing to admit it. Instead they snipe at their partners, hide their thoughts and feelings and generally make themselves and everyone around them miserable. They whine and complain to friends, spilling their pain in journals (paper and online), but never tell their partners because they're afraid of what might happen. To family and neighbors and the rest of the world they put on a happy face, wearing masks and acting a farce for the rest of the world. After all, if it looks good, it must be good -- like putting sweet frosting and decorations on a dung pie, but be careful when you take that first bite.

So many people prefer to wallow in misery or lies and subterfuge than admit they hate their lives. They would slice out strips of flesh and soul, bleeding and hurting, than tell someone, anyone what they want and need and admit they can't get it from their current partner. Instead they say it's complicated or they're waiting for the other person to make a move or they don't want to push. It's dishonest. They're living a lie and this is what they teach their children, all for the sake of appearances.

As far as I am concerned, you have forfeited the right to whine, complain and otherwise beg for attention. Until you're honest with yourself and everyone around you, until you quit pretending you're happy and everything is all right, you don't get to kvetch.

If you want to know how someone feels -- ask them.
If you are unhappy -- say something.
If you know where your happiness lies and what/who makes you smile -- reach out and take it.
If you prefer to wallow in pain -- shut up until you do something about it.

If half a life is all you want, you're welcome to it, but you haven't earned the right to whine unless you do something about to change your situation and choose a full and happy life. It's not complicated. You may have to split your possessions and find somewhere else to live. You might even have to give up seeing your children every day. You certainly will have to face your neighbors and family and the rest of the world and let them see the past few years they thought you were happy was all a lie, but what you get in return is an open and honest and much happier life.

However, if you are currently involved with someone other than your spouse or partner and you're dangling the other wo/man on the hook, have the decency to tell them that you prefer to live a lie and be unhappy than to be with them. If you're the wo/man dangling on the hook, ask the hard question, the one that will end the pain and give you a chance to heal and move on with your life: Are you going to leave your spouse and be with me?

Draw a line in the sand. If the other person won't cross it, turn and walk away. Yes, it will hurt, but the hurting will lessen with time. Stay and play the martyr and I guarantee the hurting will never go away. It's your choice. Keep cutting out strips of your soul or lay down the knife and give yourself a chance to heal.

No choice is still a choice.

You can run, but you cannot hide...

...for long. Eventually life and your choices catch up with you.

Spring is a time of rejoicing. The earth is blossoming again, bringing with it a promise of life. It is a time to plant the seeds that will become the harvest to sustain us through the year and into the darkness of winter.

During my last few weeks in my mountain aerie I see the evidence that spring is coming. Pale furred vixens trot along the road with squirrels and mice between their jaws, taking nourishment back to the den to feed their hungry kits. Does and cows feed on soft green shoots alongside the roads, undisturbed by my clanking progress up and down the hill. Yesterday I stopped to watch as they grazed undisturbed, unconcerned by my scent and appearance, even welcoming my presence, daring to come closer when I call and speak to them. We have shared this land for two years now and they know they are safe from me and that I leave them food and salt and water during the lean times. Harems pass through my yard almost daily now and squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, pine martens, raccoons and birds greet me from their hiding places, edging out of the shadows and into the light anxious for whatever scraps and food I leave out for them.

Everywhere I look I see fulfillment of life's promises, everywhere but among my friends. They still hide in the shadows even when a friendly face beckons them closer and holds out a helping hand.

So many people I know and care about have failed to get the message. People are not mind readers (except for a few here and there) and they do not know what we will not and do not tell them. Instead they suffer in silence while poison grows in their hearts and withers their souls. They are like unplanted seeds, full of potential but sterile and untouched by all they need to allow them to grow. They choose darkness, shadows, doubt and fear for their nourishment and wonder why they are unhappy. They run from the calling of their heart and soul, following some mistaken belief that if they suffer they honor life and love. They're wrong.

We all make mistakes, but that does not mean we must pay for our mistakes for the rest of our lives. Even murderers and thieves are allowed to serve their sentence and eventually move back into the world. But so many people believe that they are bound by duty or honor or social expectations to pay with their lives without pardon, without reprieve, without parole. They run from themselves and their heart's desire, hiding in the shadows away from the light. After all, they deserve to be unhappy; they deserve to be punished; they deserve to be alone. And so they hold tight to the seeds they need to plant in order to harvest life's fruits and wonder why nothing ever grows.

Even as they hide from themselves and all that makes life worth living, they lie to themselves and all around them that this is what they want. Like shiny black beetles they hide from the light unaware that living in the shadows bleaches them, rendering them blind and white as an albino. When they emerge from the darkness into the light their mistake is obvious. Even so those who choose to hide from the calling of heart and soul are marked. Nothing gives them any joy, except for fleeting glimpses of a smile or a laugh, but the smiles are merely stretching lips over the teeth and the laughter has a hollow ring.

We are so afraid if we open our hearts we will be rejected, and that is a possibility, but life is always a risk from the first searing breath as we emerge from the dark warmth of the womb into the glaring light of a cold empty world, and yet we breath and breath again and keep breathing until we no longer think about it. We totter to our knees to crawl, pull ourselves up from the ground to wobble and fall as we learn to walk, and skin our knees and elbows and face as we take our first running steps, but we keep going. When do we lose the desire to push on, to keep going despite the pain and scrapes and disappointments of our first attempts to move into the world and take our place among the rest of humanity?

The older we get, the warier we become, afraid to run the risk of falling and skinning our pride. We mortgage the present for a future that is not guaranteed and may never come, hoarding our hearts and our love like Midas hoarded gold until all we touch is tainted by fear and completely inedible, unable to nourish us, and so we wither and die like fruit on the vine during a drought. The fruit holds no moisture to sustain life and the hard pit tastes bitter, sucking the last bit of moisture from us. But we still believe that no one notices the hard dried fruit of our lives because we dress well, have lots of nice things, travel, eat well, drink well, and look successful. We run away from ourselves, unable to face ourselves in the mirror because it mocks us with the truth, so we stop looking in the mirror or see the mask behind which hides the soulless vampire who casts no reflection.

We run away from life, from love, from our heart's desire, offering our souls like a martyr's sacrifice on the altar of life, sure we are doing the right thing. We ask for truth and offer nothing but lies and dishonesty. We teach our children that appearances are what matter and that life is an empty desert where mirages are the only reality.

Spring is the promise of a fruitful harvest, but only when we give the seed to the earth.

Past, Present and Always.

A call from Dr. Jeff to post pictures to share and compare sent me to old files I have kept over the years. During that search I found something someone had written for me over three years ago and thought I'd share it here.

Love's Intoxication

Sex is a highly overrated and empty experience that leaves behind a feeling of loss and loneliness afterwards. Lovemaking, however, is an almost spiritual experience, where the fears of acceptance, performance, vulnerability, and other such worldly things are replaced with love, trust, and the joining of two souls in a place where time ceases to exist as the world fades away.

I can remember a time of playful lovemaking, touching, exploring, caressing and melting into each other with warmth and love, with subdued excitement, lost in the seconds and minutes, time standing still, the world disappearing, captivated in the blissful moments as passions slowly rise to new heights, hearts racing, sweat from our bodies wonderfully mixing, suddenly stirring into a rhythmical pulsating frenzy, ending in an explosion of senses that leaves us both giggling like little kids and finds our bodies trembling with delight, unleashing feelings one could only imagine being found in fairy tales.

Nothing on this earth is greater than the love of a woman, providing the ability to witness the world through wonderfully different eyes. Discovering the capacity to become an extension of someone else as you behold them becoming an extension of you. Together, the world ceases to be a threat and the serenity that follows is incredible. Every day is filled with bright and beautifully colored gifts just waiting to be acknowledged and accepted. You suddenly long to be the best that you can possibly be, so focused that the ability to hate or to judge is lost, finding, instead, the astonishing vision of the extraordinary diversity of all God's creations.

Ray Buck
December 14, 2001

Thank you again, Ray, for reminding me that along my journey thru life I have been blessed with such friends.