Monday, July 26, 2010

Mojo Monday ~ Family

“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” ~Erma Bombeck

If I ever write a book about my family it will be called either The Brady Bunch Gone Bad or Cracks In My Rose-Colored Glasses.

When my parents married, my dad already had three children and my mom already had two. When they married they had two six-year-olds, one five-year-old and two four-year-olds. I came along in 1969, quite by accident, when the youngest were seven years old.

I idolized my older pack of siblings even though I survived numerous hazardous experiences while in their "care", such as being fed a poisonous concoction of mushroom and various plants from the yard in my playpen (I had my stomach pumped at the hospital), being served Boones Strawberry Hill (screw-cap) liquor at the ripe age of 4-years-old (so much that I vomited), being dragged along on wild car rides with non-licensed under-age drivers or at the age of ten being part of a rip-roaring, multi-person, fist fight at an outdoor wedding.

For a good portion of my life I really did wear rose-colored glasses and only focused on the good stuff.  While that was a rather positive and nice place to reside it wasn't completely honest or real.  When I became a mom myself four years ago, suddenly I found myself looking at things with new eyes, and in essence, I began to develop cracks in my rose-colored glasses. I met with two different therapists for about two years and during that time I experienced some powerful self-exploration and contemplation of my childhood and my life. I also began to process some deep residual anger that had been stuffed for many years. 

Today, when I think about the possibility of someone serving my little 4-year-old twin daughters some cheap Strawberry Boones liquor the mama bear in me still begins to growl a bit.  I would never want my daughters to experience some of the things I did when I was just a little girl and I know that those early experiences have molded some of my protective ways, and possibly over-protective ways, into my very being. 

Yet I have been finding my way back to having a sense of humor about my childhood, my family and some of the truly crazy and even horrendous things I have experienced in my lifetime.  Being able to look at one's life experiences as adventures, perhaps even grand adventures in some cases, or as great material for stories or a wild memoir, allows one to make peace with the past. 

If you were going to write a book about your family what would it be titled?  Do you have a close family?  Do you come from a large or small family?  Any significant memories or stories?  Have you read any good books about families? 

A family memoir I really enjoyed reading and would recommend is called The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Here is a short video of Jeannette talking about the book and her mom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mojo Monday ~ Friendship

"friends: us. always. travels. stories told and a few kind lies. lots of laughter and a little chocolate. secrets shared and tears shed. kindness with time in between. dreams and awakenings. long roads, healing and quiet comforts. wicked mischief and wanton hilarity. time and always us: friends. always." ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

"A woman needs close friends who she can turn to every day (and night) of her life. It may not be the same person each day because, like our lives, friendships are dynamic. But I hope that your best friends---even if the list is serial---offer you the unique sense of intimacy, trust, and reciprocity that will allow you to feel loved, understood, needed, supported, challenges, and inspired.

Yes, these relationships are complicated, some even bordering on mysterious, and creating them and making the meaningful ones stick takes some work. But they are as essential to our happiness and well-being as are nutritious food, clean water, and fresh air. Female friendships have their ups and down--and most of them don't last forever--but we are very fortunate when best friends are a constant in our lives." Excerpt from Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD

I drove six hours north on Friday to meet with an old friend in Florence, Oregon. She drove six hours south from where she lives in Washington state. We spent two nights in a comfy cabin and had approximately 24 waking hours to talk and catch each other up on our lives and what is happening in our respective families and children, she has an 8-year-old son and a 3 1/2 year old daughter and I have 4-year-old twin daughters.

We have been friends since 1993 when we met in Aix-en-Provence, France. I was studying French as part of a University exchange program. Already fluent in Spanish, she was independently studying at the same institute to improve her French, as she was working for a British publisher there in France. We were in the same class and became friends. I had come with a large posse of Californian college students. She was there essentially on her own and while she originally came from Texas she had already lived in Mexico and Spain. I immediately admired her independence and her gift in speaking languages.

When I decided to extend my stay in France past the standard one-year commitment I had to find a new apartment and roommate and my friend Karin was also seeking a new place as she was staying on in France too. We became roommates and spent another half year living in France together. We witnessed one another's falling in love, her with an Italian and myself with a Moroccan. She was incredibly supportive when my Moroccan fiance died in a car accident and I tried to be supportive when she and her Italian parted ways.

Our life journeys continued in other parts of the world. I returned to California and she moving to Baltimore, Maryland. She came to California to visit me and then entered an MBA program in Italy where she met her husband who is Colombian. She moved with him to Argentina and then to Miami after they married in 1999. I flew to visit them in Florida when she was pregnant with her first child. They moved to Tennessee and then eventually to the state of Washington. Both of us being on the west coast now has made it easier for us to see one another once a year these past three years.

This past weekend we talked about our friendship and reminded each other what we admire about one another. We are the same and yet different. We have shared international experiences and a love of travel. We have both dated foreign men. We are both now married and have had children. We have both had our struggles with adjusting to being a mommy and have supported each other with our understanding and supportive words and nods of knowing. We also share certain social values, views on parenting and life in general that continue to fill out the nuances of our friendship. We also always remember one another's birthday.

What are your thoughts on friendship? Do you have a best friend or a close group of friends? Have you ever experienced the painful loss of a friendship? Do you have any tips on keeping a long-term friendship alive and well?

Here are some interesting books that touch upon women's friendships and relationships:

The 7 Aspects of Sisterhood by Debra J. Gawrych

Sacred Circles: A Guide to Creating Your Own Women's Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes and Sally Craig

Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman's Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD

Lastly here is a poem by Rev. Melissa M. Bowers

Praise to the Women on My Journey

To the women on my journey

Who showed me the ways to go and ways not to go,

Whose strength and compassion held up a torch of light
  And beckoned me to follow,

Whose weakness and ignorance darkened the path and
  Encouraged me to turn another way,

To the women on my journey

Who showed me how to live and how not to live,

Whose grace, success and gratitude lifted me...

To the women on my journey

Who showed me what I am and what I am not,

Whose love, encouragement and confidence held me
  Tenderly and nudged me gently

Whose judgment, disappointment and lack of faith called
  Me to deeper levels of commitment and resolve.

To the women on my journey who taught me love by
  Means of both darkness and light,

To these women I say bless you and thank you from the
depths of my heart, for I have been healed and set free
through your joy and through your sacrifice.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mojo Monday ~ Literature

 "Books are carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time." ~ Barbara W. Tuchman

I am a lover of books. My love affair started when I was a very small child. Trips to the library thrilled me. Immersing oneself in other worlds, seeing new perspectives through either a writers’ or a characters’ point of view and learning about the real world or even an imaginary universe is, I believe, one of the most valuable educations anyone can attain. Introducing a child to the wonder of books is one of the greatest gifts you can give to her.

Some people love novels. Others are drawn to non-fiction. Some readers love particular genres like science fiction or even self-help.

Do you have a favorite genre? What about a favorite book or books? Is there one on your shelf that you will never part with or that you have given as gifts to family and friends?

Here is a short list of books based on categories that I have enjoyed.

Relationships: If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path by Charlotte Kasl, PhD

Creativity: What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul by Oriah Mountain Dreamer and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Parenting: Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children and Becoming A mindful Parent: Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children both by Sarah Napthali

Health and Wellness: Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness by Kathy Freston and A Woman’s Book of Strength: An Empowering Guide to Total Mind/Body Fitness by Karen Andes

Personality: Strength Finder 2.o by Tom Rath

Wisdom of our elders: Grandmothers Counsel the World by Carol Schaefer

Spirituality: The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark by Sera Beak

Self-Love: When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim McMillen

“When I loved myself enough I quit wishing my life looked some other way and began to see that as it is, my life serves my evolution.”

“When I loved myself enough I no longer needed things or people to make me feel safe.”

“When I loved myself enough I began to feel a divine presence in me and hear its guidance. I am learning to trust this and live from it.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mojo Monday: Freedom

"Every human has four endowments ~ self awareness, consciousness, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom...The power to choose, to respond, to change." ~Stephen R. Covey

Freedom: 1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another

An incredibly historical speech about Freedom was made by Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington DC.  It was his I Have A Dream speech.


Nelson Mandela said that during the twenty-six years he spent in a South African prison that “I thought continually of the day when I would walk free.” Yet his embrace of the Ubuntu philosophy gave him a great perspective, "It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black.  I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed.  A man who takes away another man's freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bard of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.

I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else's freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me.  The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.  When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both...For to be free is not merely to case off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

Victor Frankel, a Viennese psychiatrist, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz during WWII, made this observation about the essence of freedom: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread....They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances — to choose one’s own way.”

What are your thoughts on Freedom? 
What does Freedom mean to you?

If you want to contemplate the meaning of Freedom even more, one place to start is a web site called The Campaign to Liberate Freedom.