Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm Ba..ack

Did you miss me?

If you read my post below, then you know that I spent the last 24 days attempting to write a 50,000 word novel. So do you think I got it done?

Well I did!!! Can you believe it? It's an amazing feel to accomplish something that seemed so insurmountable in the beginning.

I'm busy celebrating right now, but I will be back soon to tell you all the amazing things I learned during this month.

A special thanks to my friend who suggested I do this with her (she got it done too, btw). I am SOOOOOO glad I did this.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Taking a Break

Well, I'm announcing that I will be taking a break from the stream in November. Rest assured that it is for good reason.

I am participating (with a few adventurous friends) in a contest called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write an entire novel (50,000 words) during the month of November.

Needless to say, I will be focusing on writing in the month of November, just not blogging. I might stop by for a quick update, but no promises.

I'm really excited to be participating in this contest, and will be sure to come back in December and let you all know how it goes!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Tao of Guns

While reading and contemplating the Tao Te Ching, I came across the first verse that I'm having trouble with. It's Verse 31 and the part that is bothering me goes as follows:

"Weapons are the tools of violence; not of the sage.

Therefore, the followers of the Tao never use them.

He uses them only when there is no choice,
And then calmly and in tact,
For he finds no beauty in them.
Whoever finds beauty in weapons

delights in the slaughter of men;
And who delights in slaughter
Cannot content himself with peace."

Anyone who knows me well will spot the problem right away. My husband is a HUGE firearm enthusiast. I’ve never been that into them, but he has made me much more comfortable with them, they are a large part of my life and our life together. Neither of us would ever use firearms to harm anyone or make any offensive type actions, they are seen merely as a defense tool (and hunting tool for my hubby).

I am struggling with how this verse applies to our use of firearms. I tried talking to my hubby about it, be he’s too scared that I’ll want to stop doing anything with them to look at it objectively. I feel like Lao Tzu has acknowledged that sometimes, the use of a weapon in self defense is necessary as long as ALL other options are exhausted (the last resort line.) But this seems to contradict the line about how weapons are not of the sage.

I have no conclusions as of yet, so any input would be appreciated.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Four Agreements

Sometimes the Universe puts things in your path just when you need them. I was at the library yesterday and came across an unlikely book called The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, so I didn't think much as I pulled this from the shelf, but then on the back of the book was a quote from one of my personal inspirations Dr. Wayne Dyer, so I immediately gave the book more attention.

I have only begun reading it, but it's already had an effect on me. I'd like to share the four agreements with you.


Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinion and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.

I will be sure write again once I have finished this fascinating book.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In my own words

I felt inspired after reading some poetry, so I thought I'd dabble in a writing style I haven't visited since high school. I might lengthen it later one, I'm not sure.

My Circle

I cast my circle around me, to protect me, to fuel me.
I feel the energy building, from everywhere I see.
I close my eyes to better feel the sensation.
My body shakes with pure exhilaration.
Never knowing this bliss, would truly be a curse.
I am one with the energy, with nature, with the universe.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Dyad Moon

Last night my pagan friends and I went out to celebrate the full moon. We had been doing this every month for a while, but we missed the last couple, so it was good to be back.

The June full moon is the Dyad Moon, which is all about pairs and duality. Naturally as a Taoist, duality is central to my beliefs. It is in fact the main reason that I became one. I decided to share the following poem from Chuang Tzu with my friends, to contemplate during the thunderstorm. This is only the first verse.

Great and Small

When we look at things in the light of the Tao

Nothing is best, Nothing is worst

Each thing, seen in it's own light, stands out in its own way.

It can seem to be "better" than what is compared with it on its own terms.

But seen in terms of the whole, No one thing stands out as "better."

If you measure differences

What is greater than something else is “great”

Therefore there is nothing that is not “great”

What is smaller than something else is “small”

Therefore there is nothing that is not “small”

So the whole cosmos is a grain of rice,

And the tip of a hair is as big as a mountain-

Such is the relative view.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Quote - Rengetsu

We accept the graceful falling

Of mountain cherry blossoms,

But it is much harder for us

To fall away from our own

Attachment to the world.

- Rengetsu

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Henry Miller quote

"If there is to be any peace, it will come through being, not having." - Henry Miller

I find this quote incredibly thought provoking. I've observed that I and others in my life are often focused on the things we would like to have, and seem to get to a deluded point that having that thing will make us happy, and even further, that we can't be happy without it.

This simple quote reminds me that only I can make me happy, not things, not even other people, only me. And if given the choice, why would I choose to be unhappy? Of course outside influences cannot always be avoided. But I think if I at least acknowledge that possessing certain objects has no real bearing on my happiness, I will find myself closer to peace.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Tao takes on Murphy

OK, so I'm guessing you are all familiar with Murphy's Law which states "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

I was raised with this philosophy, as were many of the people I know. It is pretty common to hear people using Murphy's Law as a reason to do or not do something.

Taoist thought often says the exact opposite. You should always believe the best of yourself and others. Keep positive thoughts, always kind and loving even in the face of adversity. Always know that the universe is unfolding as it should, and trust that everything happens for a reason.

Since becoming a Taoist, I have worked very hard to deprogram my Murphy's Law training, and it's been hard. But the more I am able to undo, the happier I am. Now I can look at it, and think, wow, how unhappy is the person who always assumes things will go wrong. Even if they're right, there is something to be said for hope.

To me, it all comes down to the old adage, "whether you think you can or can't, you're right."

It's all about the thoughts, and living in Murphy's Law world, people become jaded and hopeless, which is something I never want to be.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wisdom can come from anywhere

I was just watching something on TV when I heard that Kevin Costner counseled a friend with the following advice,

"One episode of a person's life, does not define who they are."

Now I don't know if that is his originally, but I found it quite profound for a Hollywood actor.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to build a bear, our neice's style

So today was our trip to Des Moines, taking Little Miss (our 3 year old niece) to Build-A-Bear for her present. She was looking forward to it so much that she called me last night to talk about it.

I have to admit that Capt & I were looking forward to it also. We used to spend a lot of time with her, and miss that now that I don't babysit. I went and got her from daycare today, first wrong directions led me to a room where I got to say hello to a friend's little boy, then in the right room, she popped up from her nap ready to go.

We came back to my house to pick up Captain, managed to fit in a rousing game of go-fish with the cards she got me for my b-day. Then we were off. She was quite the chatter box the whole way there. I could tell she was relishing having the sole attention of two adults. We also sang her version of Row Row Row Your Boat and If your happy and you know it. Once there, she charged her way through the mall towards the store. It was completely empty when we got there, so she got much personal attention.

We began by picking out the bear itself. She debated between a couple of bunnies and a frog. Finally ended up with a pink bear with flowers all over it. We said OK, then it was time to choose a sound the bear could make. She tested all the buttons and fell in love with the monkey sound. I told her there was a pink monkey over there, but she wanted the bear to make the monkey noise. O...K... It's her bear, so there you go.

We stuffed the bear, she went through the little heart routine they do, and she spent a good ten minutes at the "washing" station that lets them brush the bear and shoot air on it. Time to find clothes. The first thing any cool bear needs is a pair of great shades just ask Little Miss. She then informed us that her bear was a boy, and needed boy clothes. O...K... A pink bear covered in flowers, makes monkey noises and is a boy. Of course.

Then she found a white skirt she really liked. We had to draw the line at making the pink bear in a skirt a boy, so I told her it would have to be a girl then. She decided that it would be worth it, so the bear became a girl.

A cute sequined top, some shoes and of course panties (Little Miss looked scandalized by the idea of her not having any ) and our bear was done. She decided to name the bear Flower, and her new best friend was born. They put her in the little cardboard house they give you, but not before Little Miss gave her a kiss goodbye . How cute.

We managed to drag Captain out of Scheels, bought some pink fudge, stopped and ate, then she slept the whole way home. A really fun day with a really fun little girl.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quote - Lao Tzu

In the world of knowledge, Every day something new is added.

In pursuit of the Tao, Every day something new is let go.

- Lao Tzu

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chuang-Tzu is right

The operations of heaven and earth proceed with the most admirable order, yet they never speak. The four seasons observe clear laws, but they do not discuss them. All of nature is regulated by exact principles, but it never explains them. Thus the perfect man does nothing...he merely contemplates the universe.

This seems to be a way of saying that the universe has a plan for us, and does not owe us the explaination of what that is. We should trust that everything is as it should be, which is harder than it sounds.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quote - Andre Gide

"I'm erecting a barrier of simplicity between myself and the world."

-Andre Gide

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our Valentine Tradition

I come from a family of gift givers. The focus at our house growing up was finding presents with a lot of thought behind it (poems and handmade gifts were prized above all others), not just some random thing no one wanted anyway. So this was how I viewed the world, then along came Captain.

My husband is officially the worst gift giver on the planet (He's gotten better, but the title is well earned). It's not his fault, he grew up in a family that didn't believe much in giving gifts (at all, canceling Christmas when he was 12). We struggled in the early years of our relationship, both with our separate ideas of what's the best way to do things.

I insisted that he should be able to find something that makes him think of me, or write me a love letter, or something that had thought behind it, he countered that if he bought something, the more money spent the more he loved me.
He insisted that he loves me everyday, so why should one day be special. I countered that I don't look at it like I don't love him any other day, but I jump at any chance to celebrate the amazing love that we share.

Eventually, with a lot of compromising on both our parts (we are very good at that) we came up with a Valentine's tradition that we love. Every Vday we go to a restaurant that we've never been to before. No gifts necessary, just conversation. I LOVE this tradition. Not only does it mean a nice evening together with my husband (no cell phones allowed), but I get to try something new. My husband is a creature of habit and would only go to 1 or 2 restaurants for the rest of his life and be totally happy.

I look forward to our conversations each year about where we should go, any places we've thought about trying, etc. One year, when we couldn't afford much, we opted for trying a new recipe instead.

I know many are so fed up with the commercialism of Vday that they ignore it all together, and that's their choice. But for me, Vday is a chance to dress up a little (I never get to otherwise) and share a unique fun experience with the man I love more than anything in the world. For the rest of my life, I know there's one day a year that our love will take a new adventure.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Year of The Ox

A very happy new year to all those who celebrate with the lunar calendar, as most Taoists do. This day is most well known as the Chinese new year, but is celebrated all over by lunar calendar followers.

This year ushers into the year of the Ox. The Ox is dependable, modest, calm and stable, they tend to speak little but when they do are quite eloquent. The Ox is exactly what we need this year to help our failing economy. Here are some Ox facts:

1. Our new president, Barack Obama is an Ox. Oxes tend to achieve through hard work and routine.

2. Oxes are some of the truest friends you'll ever have.

3. Oxes tend to be good at careers like composer, landlord, doctor, cook, police officer, teacher, judge, banker, insurance broker and gardener.

4. A Chinese New Year tradition had the elders giving red envelopes to the young people that contain money.

5. Oxes are most compatible with Snakes, Roosters & Rats.

I am a monkey, but can really see the need for an Ox.

Happy New Year!! Happy New Year!! Happy New Year!! Happy New Year!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

On Eating

I decided to share another story from my book Tales from the Tao, which I love more and more. This story I totally get and just want to share.

On Eating by Solala Towler

A teacher was traveling with some of her students. At one of their stops they were served the meat of a pig. The students were horrified to see the teacher calmly eating this forbidden food. "Teacher," they cried, "is not the flesh of an animal forbidden by our order?"

The teacher went on chewing slowly, clearly savoring the taste of the pig. When she had finished she said, "Can you not see that it was a great and honored gift from these poor people to be given this delicacy? No doubt it was given at great cost to them and with an attitude of humbleness and generosity. Who am I to spurn their gift?"

"Besides," she said, taking another bite, "it is not what goes into your mouth that defiles you, but what comes out."

This story has 2 great messages packed into one short story. I am constantly baffled by how entirely ungrateful people are. Yet another thing my husband has taught me, always show your gratitude, if you think they get it, say thank you one more time.

And the last line is a doozy.

Friday, January 2, 2009

So another year has come to an end. I thought I'd do a recap of the events that shaped this roller coaster of a year for me. This is probably more for myself than anything, but here goes:
Just a note: N=Nephew so a nephew named Brad would be NB. F=Friend, MIL= Mother in Law Captain = My hubby

The year started of cool with us winning the "sack of groceries" at the Holiday Auction they had. This consists of a large list of food items that we would get free from Fareway once a month, all year. A really neat prize that we enjoyed up until this month!! It also saw me avoiding Captain's mother, but we won't get into that.

February brought the incredibly painful loss of my grandmother Hildred. I was very close to her, so this one hit me pretty hard. Luckily at this point I was beginning my search into other religions, and it's about this time I came first came across Taoism, which helped me think about death a little different.

March rang in with another tragedy when my 59 year old uncle passed away. This one was shocking, but not as hard personally as I didn't know him well. It was terrible for my mom though, and a bit of a reality check when you lose someone so young. I think about how my mom was younger than me when she lost her dad, gasp, I can't even imagine.

April brought a wonderful OCT play called Mixed Nuts. FKi and I had been saving this one till we found directors we could trust it with as we wanted to be in it. We found that with My Mom & FHe, and the show was fantastic!! Also this month was the forming of a book club known as Universal Khaki.

May brought a new job for Captain working tech support for Cloud Ten. The best part of this was he works from home, so his commute is 30 seconds. After that, this month was welcomely uneventful. May also brought me a new nephew, ND.

June/July brought nice weather and camping. Universal Khaki continued and gave birth to a D&D club, still meeting (tonight in fact). We also got to know FHe's husband who is a lot of fun to D&D with!! Their family also came camping with us and I think had as much fun as we did. NKr & NM also joined us. We also developed a TV show starring Uncle Captain and his nephew M. (JK, but it was a running joke ) Mom & I sold some stuff at the Nationals. Captain turned 30!!!

In August, Capt's VA decision came through. Big sigh of relief from both of us.

September brought yet another play and one last trip to Lake Rathbun. I went from Russian Ballerina to short lived famous chef. This play was alot of fun because it had almost everyone in it, or so it seemed to me. At this point, FAl joined our D&D group, then when he DM'd he brought Be.

October saw Death by Chocolate perform. It also saw OCT go into lease negotiations, which was not pleasant. We had our Day of the Dead celebration on Halloween again, quite a lot to add this year. More D&D was played and books were read. NKy turned 3.

November brought the weather, and for me a new blog!! That's when I started this blog. Mom joined us for Book Club, and more importantly she got a new job!! She is now the circulation manager at the paper. Thanksgiving was as reported on earlier.

December came, and we took our annual shopping trip with Dad which was very nice. Spent a lot more time with Dad this year, and am very glad of that. We attempted to celebrate Yule in Cedar Rapids, and FKi turned ??? I won't reveal it if you don't know. Christmas was wonderful on all accounts. And New Year's was interesting if nothing else.

All in all, a roller coaster of a year. The Universe giveth & The Universe taketh away. Thus is the cycle of life.