Friday, November 28, 2008

Gift giving

Above is a message about holiday gift-giving. Stop shopping. In this time of economic hardship for so many, it is time to return some thought to the process that has become automatic. We are all looking for meaning in our religious traditions. This holiday season, why not stop and think about the way you spend your money and time. What are you really giving? What do you take away from the holidays?

I am not going to stop shopping, but we have reduced the number of people we shop for. I would like to replace those gifts with something meaningful. Also, the gifts I do buy? I am rethinking about where I shop and how I spend my money. Rather than going to the catalogs for all my presents, I am seeking out local stores and businesses in my area. The Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network has a new brochure of businesses in my area. These include organic farmers, stores that stock free trade gift items, and local businesses.

Our family has a book exchange among the kids ages 2 months-14 years. All of them are readers and they get plenty of toys, so the books are something they actually look forward to each year. I usually put a big order into an online bookstore. Maybe I will again this year, but I am starting to think in new ways. We have an independent bookstore that is not too far away from us that sells new and used books. It is possible I will try them first.

The purpose of this post is not to make people feel guilty in a time where we are all already bogged down with dictates of culture and restraints of finances. But maybe we question the way we do things this year. Then we formulate a plan for next year. Maybe I'll seek out my books earlier--keep a list in my purse for when I do have more physical time and more time before my deadline.

In the meantime, I have bought some items at local stores. That is a step in the right direction. And if after watching the above video, anyone wants to give me a certificate for some homemade curry, color me grateful.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

AS you can see...

I kinda dropped the ball on NaBloPoMo. But I am writing. Good thing when you call yourself a writer. And I scheduled some studio time to paint. Good thing when you call yourself a painter. (I haven't finished a painting since March.) I am hoping I'll have something to show for myself soon.

Also did a whole bunch of workshops recently. It is hard in this economy to fill my workshops, but I have been doing them as long as someone shows up. The energy is wonderful for me and--dare I say--the collective. Last night's healing workshop created some great vibes, and I sent it out to friends of mine who need some healing right now.

So moving into the holidays, I am taking a very gentle approach. I am getting things done. They may not always measure up to my intentions, ambitions, or proclamations, but I am moving forward.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pinch me!

Folks who know me, won't be surprised that I voted for Hillary in the primaries. Though I was disappointed that she didn't get the nomination, switching my allegiance to Barak was not difficult. As Gloria Steinem said (Paraphrasing here) we had an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. I was more excited about either of the two presidential candidates for the Democratic party than for any in recent years. But after seeing Barak Obama give his victory speech, I am glad that he won over Hillary.
First, I want to start off by saying that he gave his speech in the same park where I ended my marathon 5 years ago. So that place has significance to me as a place where you end a LONG journey. (I never again ran a race over 5 miles.) I overcame a lot to run in that race, and to this day it ranks right up there with the birth of my daughter in the enormity of the physical challenge and the high when it was over. So enter into my personal temple of endurance, the first black president-elect of this country and his family. I saw the looks on the faces of the people of that park. I have known the scars that slavery has had on this country. I just finished reading a book on Lincoln, so I feel refreshed in that history. Sometimes, we don't know how hard an opression is and how it affects all of us (white or black) until it is lifted. Maybe I would have felt the same way to see a woman up there. But one thing that is in Obama's favor over Hillary, is the way the world is looking at us and seeing that we have challenged the old regime. A woman could have accomplished that, too, but another Clinton couldn't.

I received an email of Michael Moore's "Pinch Me" letter from the same woman who sent me the prayer a few days ago. Ordinarily Michael Moore's tactics turn me off. As much as I agree with his message, I think he goes overboard and alienates the very people he is trying to persuade. Or maybe he is just trying to embarrass--in which case he is accomplishing his goals. But this letter really expressed the way I was feeling. In a word--expansive.

Here is my favorite paragraph from the letter.

The arts and the artists will not be seen as the enemy. Perhaps art will be explored in order to discover the greater truths. When FDR was ushered in with his landslide in 1932, what followed was Frank Capra and Preston Sturgis, Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck, Dorothea Lange and Orson Welles. All week long I have been inundated with media asking me, "gee, Mike, what will you do now that Bush is gone?" Are they kidding? What will it be like to work and create in an environment that nurtures and supports film and the arts, science and invention, and the freedom to be whatever you want to be? Watch a thousand flowers bloom! We've entered a new era, and if I could sum up our collective first thought of this new era, it is this: Anything Is Possible.

Can you imagine equating the election of a president with artistic blossoming? And lest you think it is a joke, I received this letter in the evening. Earlier today, in the dawn of this new administration, I sat at my computer and wrote like I haven't been able to write in months. I probably produced more pages than I have in 6 months total. Wow! Pinch me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I have been on edge for a while now. I don't like when things are up in the air. Election season is just that--a time of unknown variables. And it is contentious. With so many friends on either side of the fence, I am afraid to speak my mind. I was recently at a book club with women I am getting to know. I'd been warned away from bringing up politics. But the conversation turned to Sarah Palin. Slowly, we all started to voice our disappointment. For some it was outrage. We had common opinions, but good manners had kept us from an open discussion. I bring this up not to showcase my own, "Do you think I am that stupid?" moment when her candidacy was announced, but to say that this election, and most elections, bring up divisiveness. Walking to the polls today, I thought, I am really excited to be casting my vote, but mostly I am glad to end the phone calls, the political ads, the speculation, the picking sides. I am ready for some mending on all fronts. Walking out of the polls, I was able to breathe the fresh air and let go of some of the tension I had been holding onto.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prayer for Election

In between all the emails and phonecalls, I received for the election, I received a note from a friend with the following prayer attached. It comes from a translation of the original Aramaic of the line "Thy Kingdom Come" from the Lord's prayer. I did a little research (Google: Aramaic translation Jesus Prayer) and found that the Lord's prayer "Our Father..." has many translations. The Aramic language is rich with layered meanings, so that translations are varied and complex. (Something I was not told as a child when I had to memorize THE perfect prayer.) I am sure that this election, when so many people are struggling, will inspire many diverse prayers. For me, this prayer of unity and peace speaks to my needs and hope for our country. Thank you, Linda for sending it to me.

From the ARAMAIC PRAYER of Jesus
Tey Tey Malkutah
(Usually translated as THY KINGDOM COME)
Create your reign of unity now-
through our fiery hearts
and willing hands.

Let your counsel rule our lives,
clearing our intention
for co-creation,

unite our “I can” to yours, so that
we walk as kings and queens
with every creature.

Desire with us and thru us
the reign of universal fruitfulness
onto the earth.

Your rule springs into existence
as our arms reach out to
embrace all creation.

Come into the bedroom of our hearts,
prepare for the marriage of
power and beauty.

From this divine union, let us birth
new images for a new world
of peace.

Transliteration by Saadi Niel Douglas-Klotz

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween, All Saints, All Souls

Halloween is a prickly subject in these parts. People are divided. Is it satanic? My belief system doesn't include a devil. In my religious practice, Halloween is a time to remember the dead and in that remembering, to know that our lives are finite, and we need to live to the fullest. My grandmothers died on dates that bookend Halloween. October 18 and November 5. So I am already there in thought. The veil that separates us at this time is thin. Dressing up is part of the ritual because it allows us to transform the bounds of our daily life. Our church even has a parade during Sunday morning services to show off costumes. What do you aspire to be? What are you afraid of and want to conquer? Life is finite. Question your boundaries, and have a little fun in the process.
I think that next to Thanksgiving, Halloween may be my favorite holiday. This year we had white chicken chili and cornbread. My daughter, the actress, dressed up as Marilyn Monroe. My son, the sci-fi enthusiast, dressed as some sort of robed, skeletal creature. I was told, I should go as a "normal" mom. Something I have apparently not achieved in life. My mother always spend sthe holiday with us. She dresses as a clown--or some variation. This year she was a clown with a batgirl mask. She is 65, but she went door-to-door with my kids, receiving candy--enabled by the fact that she is shorter than my son, and he got to go trick-or-treating.

The next day was a continuance--a day to exemplify this life-cycle we are in. All Saint's Day. My nephew turned 12. We feted him over a dinner of (coincidentally) white chicken chili and cornbread. Also, I found out that my friend's father died that morning after a long bout with cancer. Tomorrow I will make a pilgrimage to hug my friend. My arms--a circle. This life--a circle.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Passing the torch

Today, we visited my 91-year-old grandpa. It was a momentous day. My brother and his wife were down from State College area with their new baby boy. He is the 21st great-grandchild for Gramps, but the first male who will carry on the family name. So we took a picture of 4 generations of Althouse men. Sometimes, the name gets passed down, but the genes take on different physicality. Not so in this case. These Althouse men have a direct line from one to another. It was a joy (and a bit of a fright) to see. Perhaps this was more noticeable because 3 out of the 4 A-men were bald. That tells you about their physical appearance. The fact that a few of them sported my daughter's halloween wig (she was Marilyn Monroe) will tell you about their personalities. They are quite the corkers--at least the older three. Baby A is in for quite a ride with these men as his mentors.

Another torch was also passed today. My husband ran against my son in a 5K. This is the first time they raced against one another at this particular distance. My husband just completed a half-marathon in September. My son just completed his first season of cross country. His race distance was 2 miles at the junior high level. He is 14 and my husband is 40. Today youth triumphed over experience, but both had great times. Jonah ran his 3.1 miles in 20:05, and Mark ran in 20:19. I am proud of my guys. I won't tell you who I was rooting for.

NaBloPoMo (II)

If I can figure out how to get the NaBloPoMo badge back on my website, I am going to attempt 30 blogs again this month (NOVEMBER!). They will most likely be short, but I want to connect with words again and this commitment is a good way to start.