Why Critics are Good

I’d been thinking about another ranting post in defense of women for today.  I’d read two things yesterday-an article and a blog comment-that got me all stirred up.  Though the author of said comment would never read this post, I wanted to rip him a new one.  (In case your wondering the comment was on a blog post over at Owning Pink and it listed the things that “the vast majority of men”  expect a woman to do/have including long hair on their head and no hair in their nether-regions.)

My anger came from fear and my reaction was to fight.  I wanted to defend all those young women who are jumping through hoops, going against their values, and making themselves smaller all in an attempt to get love from creeps like this commenter.  I judged and am still judging this guy for what he had the nerve to write on a website intended to empower women.

So I came here to rant, but when I arrived here I found a new comment for me.  It was on my Crisis of Faith post and it basically pointed out my own hypocrisy.  How can I claim to be a person who is both open-minded and compassionate if I can not open my heart and find compassion for people who have different beliefs and values than I do?  Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors and to forgive seventy times seven.  If Jesus is my way-shower, I need to go within and find forgiveness and compassion for the people that instill fear in me.  My anger always comes from fear.

So right now, because of that critical comment, I am thinking a lot about my reactions and how to transfuse them with love.  Is there a way to stand up for what you believe in without fighting against anyone?  Can I truly love and forgive the leaders who are butchering jobs in my community and the commenter who believes that a woman’s worth is measured by the kind of hair she has (or doesn’t) and the sexual favors she is willing to perform?  I don’t want to remain silent, but I also don’t want to judge harshly out of anger.

What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

My Fairy Name

My sweet online friend, Megz, invited me to join a Facebook group made up of the women whom she considers spiritual companions.  I was thrilled to be included in the group, in fact I teared up as I read the purpose of the group.

She asked that everyone come up with a name for themselves that included the whimsical and magical titles of Goddess, Fairy, or Diva.  My daughter, Bella, is obsessed with fairies these days and along with her best friend identifies all the people who are really fairies and what kind of fairies they are.  Since Bella and Samantha have already named me a fairy, I knew my name for the group would have to include Fairy.

Coming up with the rest of my fairy name has been the tricky part.  This seemingly simple assignment has me asking big questions about myself.  What is my life theme?  What do I want to be remembered for?  What are my deepest desires?  The first attribute that popped into my head was compassion.  After that I thought about creativity and writing.  I have big dreams for my writing but not for the reasons you’d think.

I’d love to make a lot of money so that I could use it to help people.  I loved to have a name and place in the publishing world so I could use my voice to raise awareness and invite others to help people.  I want to bring compassion into whatever corners of the world that I can in whatever way possible.  At different times in my life it will look different.  In my 20’s I worked as an elementary school teacher in inner-city schools.  In my 30’s I’m raising my children and volunteering in their schools and our church.  In my 40’s50’s, 60’s, and 70’s who knows?  I just hope that at all stages in my life I can in some way be a servant for compassion.

So for now the best name I can come up with is Fairy of Compassion and Service!

Need to Refuel?

I have to thank my friend Kristin for giving me the idea for this post.  You see I deleted the last post I published and mentioned it on Facebook.  Basically, I keep playing the same ole song here…the one where I express fears and worries about the future.  Kristin replied to my status update and said she had an idea for me.  We talked the next day and she gave me this one.

Kristin noticed one day that her cell phone’s battery was low.  Then she climbed into her car and saw that the gas light was on.  She thought about how all of our gadgets and gizmos have their own ways of telling us that they need to be recharged so they’ll keep working.

It’s the same for our physical bodies.  We know when we’re hungry, thirsty, and sleepy.  We know meeting those needs will replenish us and provide the energy we need to be active and productive.  But what about our spirit?  Does it tell us when it needs replenishing and if so, how?

Lately I’ve been in a bit of a skeptical funk.  I know I need to refuel.  I know that something is missing and even more so I know what it is.  The fear I’ve been feeling and expressing is my spirit’s gas light.  I know if I recharge and really connect with God the cloud of fear will lift.  Admittedly I’m not doing what I know needs to be done and I’m not sure why.  Right now, I’m just running along on spiritual fumes.

I guess this is part of the journey we’re all on.  There are moments when we’re overflowing and moments when we’re on E.  In those empty times we just have to watch the signs carefully until one points us to the nearest gas station.

Putting Food in its Place

Every morning I wake up happy and it’s not really because I’m excited to start a new day.  Actually it’s because I can’t wait for breakfast.  A waffle smothered in peanut butter and honey with a huge cup of coffee is the way I start my day.  I wolf it down in about two minutes, but what a pleasurable two minutes it is.

I’ve had this twisted relationship with food for as long as I can remember.  Growing up food was at the center of everything good in my family.  On vacations, holidays, family get-togethers, and trips to the movies, what we ate was just as important as what we did and who was there.  Food equaled love, comfort, and safety.  And the food we ate was always rich, delicious, and decadent.  So for me, eating rich and delicious food is more than just eating.  It goes much deeper.

It seems more and more I am becoming aware of the business behind our food.  Three years ago, I became a vegetarian for this reason among others.  In the last year I connected with Laurie, who looked to food as a way to minimize the effects of her MS, and Caren, who has recently become a bit of an activist for veganism.  Inspired by them, I am trying to make better choices.  I am even trying to inch my way toward veganism.

Taking meat out of my diet was easy for me.  I recently read Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and so much presented in that book made me grateful I made that choice three years ago.  But now I’m thinking about dairy, sugar, caffeine, and gluten.  I’m resisting doing further reading because I know the more I learn the less I can ignore the changes I need to make for my health (and the health of my family).  I’ve cut my cheese intake down a lot this last two weeks.  I’ve added lots of greens.  I’m still putting half-n-half in my coffee and still drinking two huge cups a day.  Coffee has, in a way, become my last substance for escape.

I keep telling my husband that I want to eat to live rather than live to eat.  That is food’s place after all.  In saying that though, I’m not sure that I will ever reach a point where food will just be  food to me.  There will always be an emotional element.  I just hope over time I can feel as good when I’m eating a spinach and arugula salad than when I’m eating my peanut butter and honey waffle.

Crisis of Faith

Today I met with my “spiritual mommy.”  Usually we get together and share the miracles in our lives and touch briefly on our struggles.  We acknowledge easily how God is working in and through us.  That is what usually happens.

Today I sat on the bench next to Mildred and cried.  The tears weren’t about my life but about the world, my society, my nation.  I cried because I’m having a really difficult time seeing God these days.  The country and way of life I was raised to love and strive for has been swallowed by greed.  Opportunities are falling away.  There seems to be no guarantee for anyone that you will consistently throughout your life have your BASIC needs easily met.  Mega-Millionaires and Billionaires are getting preferential treatment while support for disabled Americans (including war veterans) is being snatched out from beneath them.   The Republican party has managed to attach the moral issue of abortion to the budget so that they can screw over the entire country (well, except for the millionaires and billionaires) and get away with it.  They are manipulating their constituents in the name of Greed, but conveniently renaming it GOD.

So I am having trouble finding the Christ within these political leaders as well as their constituents.  My own father, a retired government worker at a unionized job and father of three middle-class daughters, is a proud Tea Party Republican even though their actions will no doubt lesson the probability of his daughters and granddaughters having comfortable, healthy lives in America.  When I see his pride in the Republican party I take it as a slap in the face.  Unfortunately it causes me to believe that my father and his fellow party members care about no one but themselves, not even their own children and grandchildren.

We are at a moral precipice in this country and I’m starting to wonder where the real God is.  I know there are lots of people pounding on their bibles to fight abortion and gay rights, but so few seem interested in fighting so strongly for the rights of the poor and the weak.  When I wrote about being liberal months ago a few of my Republican friends showed up to assure me that they weren’t greedy and just wanted the freedom of choice of who they donate their money too.  It sounded good in writing, but I’m not sure how it works.  How does a weak, poor, and in essence powerless segment of society manage to “market” themselves to the sympathies of those charitable Republicans?  They can’t!  Which is why we CAN NOT in good conscience cut social programs that provide basic needs to these voiceless masses.

I am watching all of this unfold and I will tell you that I see so much evil in a political party that shrouds itself in Christianity.  I see followers of Jesus betraying his very teachings.  I find myself terrified of the possible pain that will be inflicted on the people of this “great” nation at the hands of these Christian Republicans.  And at the end of it all it makes me doubt the existence of God and I find myself praying for signs that he/she/it is still in control here!  Unfortunately right now the only winners I see are the folks who have thrown ethics, morals, compassion, and brotherly love out the window.


Plea for Help for a Friend

I haven’t mentioned this issue anywhere on the net this past week, not because I didn’t want to put it out there, but because my friend is an extremely private person and I wasn’t sure if she’d want me to share her situation publicly.  But after talking to her husband today I want to do whatever I can to help them and this is one way I can do that.  So here is the story.

I have an amazing friend who I met back when I first moved to Tally when Bella was a baby.  We were acquaintances for a few years before we bonded in the waiting room of our daughters’ dance class.  Since then we’ve gotten together on a regular basis.  She is one of the greatest women I know.  She, is in fact, a role model when it comes to motherhood and she has done so much for my girls and me over the years.

Some time ago she started having spotty vision and a “wushing” sound in her ear.  She went to the doctor to have it checked out and discovered she had a cyst on her brain.  It was so serious she was sent to Shands in Gainesville.  Once there they decided brain surgery needed to be done immediately.  She had that surgery on Friday April 1st.

I’ve been in contact with her husband and the surgery was successful (though they did need to go back in and do a smaller procedure yesterday) and now she faces the next phase: recovery.  She will not come home to Tally until next week sometime and from there I can only imagine will face a lot of rehabilitation.

I don’t know the details yet of what she will need but I know it won’t be easy.  She is unable to work her part-time job and her husband has and will be taking time off from work.  I’m sure there will be a lot of extra and unexpected expenses involved in their lives in the coming months.

If you feel particularly empathetic and generous here are some ways I was thinking we could help:

-Giftcards for Publix or Walmart to buy groceries.

-Giftcards for Gas stations since they will be driving to and from appointments a lot and I’m sure returning to Shands.

For local friends:

-donating to take a meal

Please contact me if you are interested in helping.  You can email me at horner38@gmail.com or reply here and I’ll email you.  If you are unable to physically help please just keep her and her family in your prayers as they face this challenge.

Bigger Than Me and Mine

I went to the library the other day to pick up some books that were on hold for me.  Out of habit, I stopped at the Self-Help/Spiritual section for a quick look before going to the check out counter.  One book JUMPED out at me.  I pulled it down and read the title.  It wasn’t really my kind of book but something in me knew I had to get it and read it.  The book is called Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America and for me checking out that book was a little like sitting down with the intention of watching Fox News.  I mean for the past three years I’ve felt and spoke of how finding The Secret and books like it changed my life for the better.

I’m over halfway through the book and can’t believe how many times I’ve nodded in agreement with the author (Barbara Ehrenreich).  I just finished the chapter titled “God Wants You to Be Rich.”  In that chapter Ehrenreich even mentions my own church, Unity, but focuses on the mega-churches like Joel Osteen’s.  A lot of these Pastors are living like kings and queens and pass along the message that that kind of lifestyle is exactly what God wants us to have.  We should ask and expect God to give us big houses, fancy cars, and other expensive extravagant stuff.  (This was a huge focus in The Secret which was my big criticism of it.)  It seems they’ve moved from what we can do for God towards what God can do for us.

If I had to put into words where I am on my spiritual journey now, I’d say it’s not where I was a year or so ago.  I specifically remember writing someone an email where I said “God just wants us to be happy!”  That friend didn’t have time for an appropriate reply but promised to write more later.  He never did but I can now imagine what he might have said.   That brilliant insight of mine wasn’t very brilliant.  Assuming that most of the stuff people do to feel happy is very egocentric how does that benefit anyone else, or God for that matter?  If God does in fact want anything from us, it’s got to be bigger than just our personal happiness.

But I realize now that I got that idea from all the positive-thinking, self-help books I was reading at the time.  I’ve always had moments of doubt  about the Law of Attraction.  There are things that don’t add up.  Is it really fair to say that someone has attracted rape, abuse, schizophrenia, poverty, and cancer into their lives with their thoughts?  Many people would say yes but I have a difficult time accepting that in good conscious.  What I am more likely to believe now is that maybe we do create a life-plan for ourselves before incarnating.  The challenges that come our way are put there for our soul’s development and we as earthbound humans can’t quite understand the real significance.

I do believe we have life purposes and that we figure that out as we go.  But I don’t think everyone’s purpose is to prosper or be happy.  Sometimes great changes happen in response to the suffering of another.  Which brings me to my latest realization.  If God wants anything from us, I think it is to serve in whatever way we can.  I buried my head in the sand for a long time so that I could stay peaceful and happy.  I was peaceful but completely ignorant of what was happening in the world.  I was out of touch with reality.  Various things have come along in the last two years that should have forced me out of that bubble.  But somehow through all of it, I remained “positive.”  Lately though, I’ve been looking closely at the world again and a lot of  it is f*cking ugly.  I can’t deny that.  I can’t visualize that away.  And I don’t want to bury my head again.  I have realized that one thing I can do right now is arm myself with knowledge and shine a light on the injustices I see all around me.  Every time I’ve done that on this blog in the past I’ve felt fearful, but lately I’ve wondered if maybe that fear is telling me this is exactly what I need to be doing.

I think I’ve finally realized that I don’t want to live a life devoted to Self-Help, but rather a life devoted to Helping OTHERS.   And if I dare to wish for anything I’ll wish that I am presented with ways that I can do just that.