Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Stories and Gardening

Contemporary writers have a unique problem.  They compete with the dead.

Ironically, they are also in conversation with the dead.

Many writers have been nourished by old, sometimes ancient, writing. In the mix of this nutrient rich soil, seeds of  stories are born anew. 

A smart-talking professor once told me that all the stories that could be written have already been written.  It kind of defeats a person to hear this when they're on the verge of graduation and thinking about making their living as a writer.   I wish I had been there to tell my younger self that writing is like gardening. Lots of people do it but it doesn't mean you can't make a lovely little plot for yourself. 

   Perhaps stories are like marigolds.  All the marigolds that will ever bloom are already planted, because the seeds that carry them to the next generation live within.  They only need to be sown, to land in the soil, to have water and light and air.          

I have not written a book, yet.  But I have a friend.  And her book is wonderful.  Today I want to give a little light, soil, water and air to a story that I love.

Brave Donatella and the Jasmine Thief is a fairy tale with all the goods: it delivers a compelling and sweet love story while engrossing the reader in an intriguing, suspenseful action/adventure tale that involves betrayal.

If you love Italy and all things Italian, you'll love this story. If you love plants and the story of how they came to be spread throughout the world, you'll be delighted.  If you admire beautiful art and deliciously crafted story lines, you'll not be disappointed.
By the way, children love it.  My son was captivated and entertained by the illustrations and memorable characters.  Particularly, he was a tiny bit scared of the powerful historical figure, Duke Cosimo De Medici.
But being a little scared is what makes reading fun.  Especially when the story leaves us uplifted and relieved, appreciating all the good things that come out of the bad.  

In this story, the Italian duke is a vain and villanous man with a wickedly sharp face who would imprison or kill anyone who stole plants from his garden.  Particularly, he would kill anyone who dared to steal Jasmine.  When a young man who is apprenticed to work in the garden steals a sprig to give to his true love, the beautiful Donatella, the two must run away in order to protect his life. 

In protecting her handsome love's life, Brave Donatella gives a gift to the world...selling the propagated stems of stolen Jasmine to live happily ever after.    


Sunday, May 29, 2011


This week Elliot and I were reading a book about Monarch butterflies. Several days later, the topic of "home"  came up.  I said that I was sort of like a Monarch butterfly, as I started my journey from my childhood home in Michigan and ended up migrating to the south.

He said,  "My home is in North Carolina.  No, actually I'm home everywhere, and so are you.  Our home is Earth.  We are on planet earth and can be home everywhere we go."  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Playing Big

"And the term “playing big” gives me a lot of anxiety…because it makes me feel like I should be confidently taking these big, giant steps towards my destiny. And I just don’t know how to do that…because I have no clue where my destiny lies."  ~Maegan Beishline

In the past two weeks, I have been participating (sporadically) in Maegan's Creativity Boot Camp.   Sporadically because right in the middle of camp, we headed off to the mountains for a quick retreat.  Since being home again, the rush of life and work has left me with little time to delve in to all of the exercises.  From what I have experienced so far, this course has been valuable, refreshing and uplifting.  As an independent artist, I found a supportive community.  I am inspired by Meagan's insightful writing and guidance.  Stories shared by the camp's contributors add depth and inspire courage.  Near the end, I realize that even my occasional participation has influenced my self worth and strengthened my identity.  I have been challenged to fully embrace my artistic life...although in truth I have not completely done that.

Quite recently I happened upon an assistant editorial job.  I meet all the qualifications.  It wouldn't be too difficult to revise my resume, shop for a professional set of clothing, meet with career coaches, polish my image and speaking skills.  I invested heavily in a demanding education.  This is my "chance" to put that to good use.  I could "play big" and take those confident steps toward that salaried destiny.        

 I probably should do it.  Attempt.  Try.  Make an effort to be a professional somebody.    

Then what is this maddening entity inside that screams "NOooooo!"  Why would you waste years of your life making pretty words in a row to glorify the wealthy and their need for perfection?        

         So, I didn't "play big."   

Instead I spent a wonderful afternoon sharing a vegetarian meal with Richard, followed by running and swimming at the Y.  In the dark evening I stepped outside and was instantly thrilled by a balmy breeze blowing and the sound of this wind rushing though the trees.  Wind almost never happens in this humid pocket of the world.   Energized by my workout, instead of going to bed, I took a candle out to the table on our screened porch, put in my favorite cd, and made art.
It was the happiest I've felt since being in the mountains. 
In this happy state, I had this thought that God has been providing for me my whole life.  In times when I worked for someone else and in times when I worked for myself. I realized that if I decide to fully give in to being an artist as my means of sustenance, then God will provide for me still.   I went to bed with the deepest sense of gratitude and peace.

I don't have to give up what I'm doing just now.  Not the garden, the home school, the business.

And I realized that I can change things.  I have other artistic pursuits that should not be packed away for "someday".   During the summer, when plush accessories are not popular, I can open up a new shop section with my watercolor cards.  That way I won't have to sit inside, chained to the machine in the evenings when the weather is beautiful.   I can also keep practicing my photography hobby, and spend time re learning my french horn.  There will be time to spend with my daughter when she comes for the summer.  Time to take my kids to the pool.  Time to strengthen my body on the trails.  Time to visit my mom.

I'd like to close with a quote by Isaac Penington in 1681, care of my friend Holly.

Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything, and sink down to the seed, which God sows in thy heart, and let that be in thee and grow in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is God's portion.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Smoky Mountain Getaway (Part 2)

As I write these lines, I'm listening to reports of tornado warnings.

As I write these lines, a black bear is roaming neighborhoods in Greensboro.

Have I mentioned that I was terrified to see a bear in the mountains?  Have I mentioned that I stopped calling them by name in order not to conjure their presence?  Have I mentioned that I would not hike or camp in a tent?   After all of that, I did not see one big dark hairy mammal in bear country.

Instead, I came home to the above photo on the front page of our city newspaper. 

Although I was a little alarmed at first, I am now simply tired of being afraid.  It's strange how much energy one expends on fear.  This poor bear, who has been treated like a rock star, must be nervous due to the attention he's getting.  At the last sighting, people with young children crowded around the tree he was resting in as if they were in a zoo.  Police asked these people to leave, but they stood snapping pictures instead.  

Since they have labeled him as "not aggressive," nothing is being done to remove him.    

What a nice bear.

He must be the only bear in the world without the potential to be aggressive.   

I don't mean to be sarcastic. It's just that I don't like to be forced to face my fears.  I have a difficult time accepting that it's necessary to be uncomfortable in order to grow.

I used to say that I'm not afraid of anything.  As time moves forward, I'm losing my invincibility illusions.  This leaves me to wonder if  I'm wise or weak.

It took some courage for me to go into the mountains and to walk on leafy paths. Yet because I faced my fears, our trip was a weekend I'll remember forever.  Especially the day we walked behind this waterfall.

There was magic in the air, in the water.  I haven't seen Richard so happy in such a long time.  It makes me realize that a happy marriage begins with happy people.   I recently asked myself  "what is the most wonderful thing that could happen to my husband?"        

It was freedom. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Great Smoky Mountian Getaway (part 1)

Dear Friends,

I have been away.  Thank you for all the wonderful comments you've recently left in my absence.  It was a happy surprise to read your thoughts on my return.   Today I'd like to share some pictures of our trip to Franklin, North Carolina and the surrounding areas.  Despite my great fear of a certain mammal with black fur, I went "unto these hills", into the Great Smoky Mountains.   The only large mammal that I saw was on this poster.

(Please stay tuned later in the week for an ironic post-script related to this picture.)

Back at the cabin, which my loving husband rented so that I could sleep at night, we enjoyed the sight and sounds of a river rushing over large rocks.  The quality of light was amazing as it filtered through the canopy of trees.  Once dispersed, this magical light reflected back in diamond like sparkles on the surface of the water.  There were a variety of plants and song birds, yellow swallowtail butterflies, big mossy rocks and ferns.  Truly this place is a hidden paradise.  The air was cool and fresh, with pockets of warm sunshine that I soaked up while reclining on a carpet of thick green moss.  We even found a few small gems in the river bottom, after we learned to identify them at the mine.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Butterfly Farm

A New Opportunity

After days of rain and low clouds, today the sky is clear.    I'm looking forward to taking Elliot to the butterfly farm so he can begin to create his final project for first grade: a nature documentary on butterflies.  He chose this topic after remembering how challenging it is to photograph a bird, much less take a video of one.  He considered the topic of plants, but sensibly realized that a nature documentary about plants might be a little boring.

My goals for Elliot this year were for him to gain confidence in reading, to engage him in the natural world, and to help him discover that most learning comes from within.  This seems rather vague, but since I did not plan to homeschool, I had freedom to experiment this year.  I'm so glad that I didn't buy a packaged curriculum but instead used my own knowledge of subjects in combination with local resources.  I'm glad I trusted myself and Richard to make this a great experience.  I'm happy that we stayed positive and gave ourselves time to let things naturally unfold.       

This year, we did several projects:

A stop-motion animated short film, which he posted on youtube.
Set up an email account which he used to stay in touch with his cousins, uncles and grandma.
Learned graphic designing using the paint program.
Learned to write and illustrate a 200 word story which he submitted to PBS Kids Go! Writer's Contest.
Made a terrarium.
Got a dog.
Built a tree house with his Daddy.
Spent an entire day hiking around a lake, identifying and counting birds for the Audobon Society's Big Back Yard Bird Count.  He saw 300 birds.
Became proficient in biking so that he was able to ride in neighborhoods with traffic.
Learned to tie his shoes!
Took trips to the local Natural Science Center that has a Zoo.
Learned nature photography from a class at the library.
Learned handwriting techniques.

Completed a giant math text book.

Visited the library weekly.   Enjoyed reading books every day.

Built a miniature outdoor pond with me.

Joined a t-ball team.

Took homeschool swim lessons and met some buddies.

Made art.  Played games.  Gave himself daily recess.    


I'm amazed that this year turned out so well.  In the beginning I was so insecure and felt like it was the end of world.  I had a vision of him being a spectacular student in the public schools, blowing me away with glowing report cards.  Instead, I got to enjoy seeing his naturally spectacular mind at work first hand.  He blows me away with his childlike wonder and willingness to stay the course through tough challenges.  And even though he must have felt lonely sometimes, he never cried about it.  

This summer, we are hoping to be more socially active. When the kids are out of regular school, we are looking forward to a new opportunity.  Our library needs volunteers for the summer reading program, and I have decided to help.  This means that Elliot will help too.  I'm sure these weekly programs will be packed with families.  We are looking forward to working in our community, especially at this great location.     

Here are a few pictures of our library, a truly special place that provided nearly everything we needed for teaching and learning this year.        

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Art makes me feel kind inside

Making art makes me feel kind inside.  Kind to myself.  Kind to my family.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Love and Good News

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

I hear a voice in my head, a voice which sounds like my voice. Who knows if it really comes from me?  There was once a homeless man who turned his life around by listening to that voice.  He believed the voice was God telling him everything.  He wrote a book and went on a tour, homeless no more.

Sometimes I listen to the voice just in case it might be divine inspiration. Yet, sometimes, like Van Gogh, I would like the voice to be quiet.   The voice is not usually telling me that I cannot do something, but rather that I must do too much.  The voice sends out a list like a train running by; fragments like boxcars clattering one after another.  It's a familiar sound.

Clickity clak, dog, dishes, laundry, vacuum, school lessons, get back to work, you are avoiding something important, feed the cat, more dishes, meal prep, clean up, sweep, omg the bathroom, ANTS!, laundry, exercise??? Huh? when will I get to do that alone? gosh the dust creeps back so fast, WEEDS! gosh the neighbors are going to hate me for all those dandelion seeds that drift in their yard, mow the lawn, geez when was the last time that boy washed his hair, fingernails? dinner, oh no! I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer.  dang it all, when can I have my dishwasher back, it's been almost a year and I am tired of the piles that accumulate all over, note to self, be kind when asking once again to get the thing fixed, whoops I wasn't very kind....

Then occasionally, when I am at peace an inspired, calm thought will drift in.  Sometimes these are insights or ideas that could only come from somewhere else.  Like the title of this post.  Love and Good News.

It's what the world needs more of.   It's what we're all surrounded in if we choose to see it.  It's what we can contribute to ourselves, our families, communities and the world.   If anyone were to ask what I write about, I want the answer to be love and good news.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Dad

I was going to post this yesterday, as it was my Dad's birthday.  Blogger was having issues...so here it is, a day late.
My father was the first of his siblings to graduate from High School.  He was the middle child of 15, 12 of whom survived into adulthood.  His mother died of cancer when he was fifteen.

The little boy standing next to him in this picture is my uncle Bruce, the youngest sibling.  He's wearing his kindergarten graduation mortar board.

Here's dad with all of us at my graduation from Guilford College.

There's too much to write about here in this post...

I still miss him.  Yet the things he taught me are gifts of wisdom that keep me sane, balanced, healthy and strong.

Everyone loved him.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Talking Things Up

I learned a new southern phrase this week.  To "talk something up" is a phrase that says telling a story will lead to the manifestation of the thing you are talking about.  My friend Connie recently told a story about a snake. The next day, a large black snake sat waiting for her on the doorstep.  Through her story, I remembered how much I talked about a certain mammal on my way to the Appalacian Trail.  And how this mammal showed up for me, over and over until I was faint with exhaustion from the adrenaline.  From now on, I will not be naming the things that I fear.  Call it superstitious if you like, but I intend to change.  I know that we are instructed to face our fears, but to stop calling them by name is my new habit.

So today I'd like to talk about money.  An abundance of money! I'm not sure why I have been afraid of money and numbers.  I think the fear about having money came from stories I heard as a child about the corruption that goes with having an excess amount of money.  When I was a girl, Elvis was in the declining years of his life.  I grew up with images of the fat Elvis dressed in outrageous white suits and scarves, but also knew that he hadn't always been like that.  I much preferred the young handsome version in the films. I clearly remember the moment his death was announced on the on the radio.  My mom and I were sitting on our redwood deck, snapping beans.  The sky was a brilliant blue.  I remember being alert to the silent pause in the music, and the anticipation of the breaking story.  There was sadness in the voice of the announcer as he shared that Elvis Presley had died.  He included the graphic detail about Elvis having a heart attack on his toilet.   We were silenced by the irony of the life of the King.  A life of excess, brought to a halt in such a humiliating way.

  I also remember when John Lennon was shot and killed in New York.  That I grieved. As a ten year old kid I loved the Beatles.  I was crazy for them.  Even now, the thought of John's death makes me sad.

These two events must have somehow shaped my ideas about having lots of money.  Which is a false idea, given that fame was a main cause of death for both of these wildly successful musicians.  It's wasn't the money that killed them.

Other myths about money may come from simply not having formative, concrete instruction about how to create wealth.  I went to school for my entire young life and did not learn anything about managing finances.  The only instruction we received were lessons on identifying coins in second grade, and balancing a checkbook in 12th grade.   Since my math grades were low, I never pursued finance in college.  Looking back, I was foolish not to teach myself how to make and save money.   The ambiguous instruction for doing this involved having a job.  I've had many jobs.  I have worked hard and continue to work hard.  I love a full day that's balanced with work and play.

So, as I go forward, I might mention money in occasional posts.  My hope is that in writing about money I may overcome my ignorance about it, or at least separate it from the "evil" connotations that have been attached to it.  I want to be able to feel that having money does not make me a corrupt person prone to wasteful excess and foolishness.   I want to enjoy it for the good that it can bring.

I also want to acknowledge and express gratitude for the fact that I have always been provided for, even in times when having a few coins in my pocket was all the security I had for that day. 

Perhaps a feeling of security is all one really needs to feel wealthy. 

And thankfully, I am most secure and happy when my hands are busy...which means that my creative dry spell is over.  Last night two new sets of Knees and Paws were started.  I'm amazed at the refreshing, restful sleep that came after my session at the machine. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Local Flavor

We've spent many hours at our desks, building our business, building our vocabulary.  The sunny sky and fragrant life outside became irresistible.  This week in our area, the jasmine is in bloom and the strawberries are in peak season.  It was time for a field trip to Rudd farm.

So we headed off on a whim.  We didn't even make time to pack a lunch at home, but bought some chicken wings and chips at the grocery store on our way out.

We made sure not to eat too much, anticipating what we'd be dining on later in the afternoon.

We were like bears in the woods...

Foraging for fruit in its prime.

The fragrance of strawberries was something that helped me to quit smoking several years ago.  As I worked in the field today, a silent celebration was going on in my heart.  How wonderful to be here, in this moment with my son, sharing an activity that I used to do for my first paid job.

While we picked, we listened to the other gatherers, and tasted another local flavor.  The flavor of a regional dialect, spoken between a farmer and his customers.  Spoken between people sharing recipes and weather predictions.

After our time in the strawberry fields, we took a peek inside the greenhouse.  We learned about the impact that the declining number of bees has on our farms.  Without bees to pollinate the crops, the growers at Rudd Farm used electric toothbrushes to do the work of bees.  I thought this was a genius adaptation.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How will they remember me?

Memory is ocean.

Ocean is memory.

Today is Mother's Day.  It's raining as I write in the dim light of a cloudy morning.  It is quiet except for the sound of water pattering on the aluminum eaves, percussion to accompany bird notes.

Memories of my mother float to the surface and wash up on the shore.  We live far from one another but I can see her in this morning light, reading and soaking up the silence.   We are alike.  We are different.  There were times when I chose to remember the sharks in the ocean instead of the pearls.  There were things she tried to give me which I refused.     There were things she gave me that no matter how hard I try to discard, remain firmly rooted in my being.  I expended a great deal of energy attempting to be different, while at the same time I tried to do everything just like my mother.  I take great pleasure in preparing her recipes.  I learned to sew things,  to keep a fresh clean my home like she did, to plant flowers and to delight children.  I wish I had the devotion she has, for God.  I aspire to the compassion she has for the sick, the elderly, the young and everyone in between.  To describe her life is nearly impossible.

It is in remembering my mother that I know how to be a mom to my children.  I have made variations, but her model is still at the core.

My children will have memories of me.  This also informs how I try to live my life.  I want them to have lots of pearls and not too many shark teeth.  Who knows what will stand out in their minds?  Who knows what will wash up on the shore as they grow and live their independent lives?

I really don't have much of a choice in this.  Parenting is the biggest risk any of us can take. It can be hugely rewarding, or sad and difficult.  It can be lonely when they're gone.

 To Mom if you are reading this, I love you.

To my children, if you are reading this, I love you too.

Happy Mother's day.      

Friday, May 6, 2011


It's five o'clock in the morning here, an early hour for me.  I can't stop my blogging habit even though I need to focus on the sewing machine.

I'm awake with gratitude.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor for what I thought was the beginning of a uti.  The visiting physician there surprised me by saying that the test for uti was negative.  I should have a scan to check for either
1.  Cancer
2.  Kidney Stones

And that I should prepare myself for an agonizing trip to the ER.

That kidney stones can be as painful as childbirth. 

So, off I went to the Imaging center where I was promptly told to pay $800.00, or a portion of this amount.

Thankfully, Richard was with me or I might have walked out the door wondering when I might die.

I obediently agreed to the scan.  It was a futuristic moment.  A great round machine whirred and spoke to me in a computerized voice while I lay on a crisp white sheet.  I felt like aliens might appear over my head with strange instruments and garbled language.

Within a few minutes, I was called to the front desk where the doctor explained that I had some very small kidney stones.  That all I needed to do was to go home, take some motrin and otherwise live my life normally.

To celebrate, we went to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant.
Which made us sick...

But this morning I'm feeling much better.   I went to sleep thinking of a story that my daughter Emily told last night on the phone.  It was a sad story about people who are suffering as a result of their poor choices.  It reminded me how tender hearted and compassionate my daughter is.  The story made me realize how truly blessed I am to live in this home with my family.  My basic needs are met every day, and on many occasions my wants are met too.     It makes me realize that I am capable of giving more to those in need.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Play Break!

 I've really enjoyed this past week of blogging, but also feel like I've gone a little overboard in internet usage.  For two weeks, I've been avoiding the stacks of brand new plush and also some new cotton that is begging to be turned into Knees and Paws.  The shop seems to have gone into a hibernation mode.  Being a one woman operation, the cause of this is me.  I'm playing the work avoidance game because I just finished cleaning and rearranging our home and don't feel like making a mess.  Unfortunately, in my line of work, or play, I have to make a little mess for the sake of progress.    So today you are all spared of my philosophical ramblings for a simple quote. Today I'm borrowing one from Stuart Brown, MD in his book Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul.

"Play, it is believed, aids in the process of synaptogenesis through simulation and testing. At play we imagine and experience new situations, create and test new possibilities, and learn and practice new skills and lessons in a safe environment. Because we are just playing, there is no risk in failure and we can push the envelope‒and thereby boost cognitive development without penalty. In this way, Brown and other play researchers hypothesize, play helps “sculpt” the brain."

In case you are wondering,

syn·ap·to·gen·e·sis definition

Pronunciation:  /sə-ˌnap-tə-ˈjen-ə-səs/
Function: n
pl -e·ses ; Pronunciation:  /-ˌsēz/
:  the formation of nerve synapses

There are ten more days until Creativity Boot Camp begins!  So I need all the nerve synapses I can get!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Institutional Influence

As we near the end of our first year of homeschool, I'm discovering that it's easier for me to teach the subjects that previously were most difficult for me to learn.  In the last six months,  I've enjoyed teaching math, science and computers more than I have enjoyed teaching the language arts. This surprises me. Since leaving high school, I have maintained a committed resolve to avoid those tedious subjects. It seemed too risky to spend money on a college course that I might very likely fail...or have a mental breakdown trying to learn.  The consequences of my insecurity are that my choices for possible jobs is so narrow that I lost confidence in the adventure of finding a well paid career.

Because of Elliot and the home learning environment we are creating together, I realize that I am perfectly capable of learning science, technology and math.  It's a major breakthrough in the life of Jenny.  Taking the model of the competitive institution out of learning is going to change my life.

Yet it took a long time for me to figure out how to teach reading and writing.  I have known how to do those things well for 35 years and thus had no memory of how I learned to encode and decode our language.  Having no magic, secret formula, I chose the obvious path of practice.  Every week, we visit the library and check out ten easy reader books.  We also practice the basic mechanics of handwriting.  I offer daily writing topics and show Elliot that writing is a process of editing.  It doesn't matter if every word is misspelled.  The beauty of writing is that you can fix mistakes, or make something interesting by putting different ideas together. 

Like the idea of institutions and families.

Marriage has been called an institution but for the sake of this argument I want to put it in the "personal" category.  When I think of the word institution, I think of big, impersonal buildings with an ordered structure, a hierarchy of power and a standard operating procedure.  I think of schools and hospitals and government. I think of self perpetuating systems.      

And how the institutions are something I must accept as a person living in society.  I must accept them but at the same time I have developed an aversion to them.  The only institutions that I enjoy spending time in are the library and the YMCA.  These are systems designed to improve the lives of the ordinary citizen, in a non competitive atmosphere.  You can build muscle or increase your knowledge at your own pace.  You can follow your interests.
A good marriage works that way too.  I'm happier when I'm not competing with Richard.  This is also a breakthrough in the life of Jenny...who used to feel like she had to compete with her husband in order to gain his respect and attention.

Giving up the need to be correct, to make the "better" choice, to make self-promoting decisions is a relief.  It creates less tension in the house.  It makes for a peaceful life.

Taking the model of the competitive institution out of marriage is going to change my life. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I am, to use a southern phrase, "full to busted" with the many happy birthday wishes that came my way yesterday.  All day I felt very happy, no doubt because that phrase kept popping up on my fb profile, on this blog, through my phone and in person from Richard and Elliot.  That much positive energy sent to a person has a wonderful, invigorating effect.  I have a deep sense of gratitude and joy about the gift of my life and the people in it.  Please forgive me for gushing a little, but there were years when I did not feel this happy inside, especially on my birthday.  Holidays, no matter the celebration, normally contain a touch of sadness to go with the sweet.  This year, that touch of sadness came through a world event.

Since my daily routine involves a trip to the coffee pot and the computer, the first thing I saw happening in the outside world on my birthday was the claim that Bin Laden was assassinated and thrown into the ocean.

I'm not sure if I believe it.  When network news describes the events using animated graphics to replay the military action, I wondered:

Are we at the point where we will accept cartoon images as actual truth? 

Even if it is true, why celebrate?  While I'm not sad for this one particular human loss, I wonder if I'm alone in thinking that it's not good to jump up and down for a death wrought from vengeance, paid for with so many lives and funds that could have promoted life sustaining efforts.

Perhaps some will be happy under the belief  that NOW, finally, we can stop making war.

I want our country to stop making war.

I want peace on Earth.

Killing is not an act of peace.

We cannot rid the world of violence and oppression by making war.  Will humanity kill humanity until the last man is standing alone?

Perhaps not.  Perhaps something else is happening.  We currently have a population overload...it seems that life keeps growing, multiplying our numbers so fast that we are having a hard time sustaining ourselves.  And given the unstable weather and natural disasters, we have bigger problems than incidents of terrorism or radical, unstable countries.

We have work to do.  We have love to give.  We have prayers to say and kindness to share.  We have positive energy and the power to keep wishing people happiness wherever we go.

I may be a little older and wiser after having four decades of birthdays but I still believe in love.  I still believe in the ideal of peace, despite the illusion that it's no longer practical or realistic. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Friendship Blog

This blog has changed. 
I'm am happy to say that what began as a "business" story blog is now a friendship blog. Today, on my fortieth birthday, I am in a much better place than I was ten years ago.  In the last decade, I moved from Michigan to North Carolina, was divorced...embraced independence while struggling as a single parent, worked at three different jobs, finished my degree, learned hang gliding, fell in love, had a baby boy, bought a house, was married, stopped smoking, renewed my faith with the Religious Society of Friends, experienced the death of my father, started a business, began homeschooling, became a dog owner, learned to blog, taught myself to sew, wrote a patent application, hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail, and best of all, made new friends.

When I write posts now, it is not to a vague "somewhere out there" audience.  I share my thoughts now in the comforting company of people like Michelle, Corinne, Thisisme, Angie, Odie, Lori, and lots of unnamed friends who read without comment.  I appreciate you because of your kindness and presence here.

Today I especially want to thank my Mom.  For my life.  For spectacular childhood birthday celebrations, especially the year when I turned six.  My mom is an artist who shares her work with her family. I remember that this pink castle cake took all night to decorate.  And although I was more tomboy than princess, I was thrilled with this cake.  I felt incredibly loved and special because of this extravagant gift.

That year, I also received a pair of fantastic blue roller skates.  I wish I still had those skates and a basement to roll around in.  One of my favorite childhood memories involves skating in our basement to my mom's Jan and Dean record "Dead Man's Curve".  I took those curves like a race car driver.  Without a helmet.

 So thank you Mom, for assuring that I had a great childhood, full of love, creativity and play.

And thank you to my Grandma who is not with us now, but who continues to influence my life.

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