Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Happy Day

Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood. Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.
Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life. Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.
--By Paulo Coelho

Although I had repercussions in my lower back today from too much decluttering yesterday, I went back to my old office for the craft and bake sale. I purchased a couple of very useful items, and I ordered two pieces of durable medical equipment which will make my life a bit easier.

What made this a happy day, though, was the way my former co-employees greeted me. As always, their faces literally lit up, and I received and gave many hugs. My life is generally in a state of hug-famine, so I enjoyed this "feast". My company was always my family, and it still is. I remember that when I retired, someone said I was the "heart and soul" of the place.

I was also able to lend my good friend J a copy of The Women's Comfort Book. She is having major surgery for weight reduction soon. This book gives all sorts of ideas for nurturing oneself and ways to find comfort.

I am still working on doing the final decluttering preparatory to this weekend's cleaning marathon. I work in very short spurts, then return to my heated pillow.



Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Helping Neighbors

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." --Anaïs Nin

I made a new friend in the summer of 2002. At that time I was taking numerous walks around the outside of my complex. A neighbor from down the hall started slowing his steps to accompany me. M and his wife were recent immigrants from Ethiopia, Coptic Christians from Addis Ababa. During our third or fourth walk I asked him if he was happy here in America, or if he would rather be back home. M said he was too old at 44 to learn a new culture. "America is good, but it is not my home."

I told him about my immigrant Danish grandparents (paternal side) who had much the same feelings. They came here in 1908 and never could afford to return. He was so grateful that someone understood the sadness.

I have enjoyed Ethiopian food at their home. They have marveled that I like spicy food, but cannot quite fathom my difficulty in eating from the huge bread circles piled with meats and sauces.

I helped his brother and family when they also immigrated. I took them around to various government offices and tried to assist with language difficulties. One of my "great moments" was taking them to their first McDonald's and the joy of a six-year-old girl who discovered the delight of drinking through a plastic straw. She hugged me hugely when I liberated about 20 of them for her.

I have gladly helped M and A in writing business letters, making business calls, etc. They each hold down two jobs, supporting 14 family members back home.

These two very special and kind friends are giving so much more back to me this coming weekend. They have volunteered to clean my whole apartment for me. My place has suffered from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) for several years. The mess was based on depression and increasing disability, complicated by a mostly-white, long-haired cat living on a blue carpet. Following that, one of their countrywomen will be here a couple of times a month.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Pain Control

"Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong."--Lao-Tzu

It is time to return to a peaceful orientation of blog and mind. I will be an activist in my own way and try to return some positive energy into this hypernegative world.

I have had a very accepting attitude toward the pain in my upper back. It has just been "there". I try not to aggravate it by unwise physical activity, and I do not take pain medications.

On Saturday, continuing the "cleaning out" process in my apartment, I chanced upon one of last year's Christmas gifts. My niece M had made a handmade pillow for each member of the family. It is flannel and rectangular, stuffed with rice. It is put in the microwave to be heated and then applied to whatever body part is in pain.

I found that this works. Fifteen minutes spent in my wing-backed chair with the heated pillow on my upper back provides about 90 minutes of pain relief. I am resorting to the pillow often during the day and before my morning and evening sitting practice.

Finding a way to treat this pain has somehow changed my attitude toward it. I find the pain less acceptable. When I hurt, I want to "fix it". This somehow feels a violation of spiritual principles. I want to sort this out inside.

Meanwhile, I'll enjoy some pain-free time.




Saturday, November 06, 2004

Immigrating to Canada

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it...always."~Mahatma Gandhi

Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.
[paraphrased]--Buddha

I, like many other liberal Americans, have been considering immigrating to Canada. It is more to the left politically, and their elections have never been co-opted with fraud. I could not enter as a "skillful worker", as I am unable to work. My only chance would be to marry a Canadian, which is also not possible. Therefore, I am going to read more about Canada and see what life lessons I can learn from their government. I'll put the Toronto Star up as my homepage. I will then set about minimizing my self-identity as an American.

Canadian authorities have reported a six-fold increase in hits to their immigration website since the election. They also have indicated that political feelings of Democrats would not be a factor in qualifying one as an immigrant. However, if Bushites start executing liberals, they will consider giving refugee status.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Live Life Where Your Heart Is

Animated Stardust (linked here) found this sentence during a delightful bookshop-browsing session in Wales: Live Life where your heart is.

I realized that I am living where my heart is. I am living in a home and a condominium community that I love. Because I have given of myself to them, I receive a great deal of kindness in return.

My life has been "place stable". I haven't felt the need to change where I live for the past 17 years. I somehow have always known that fulfillment and pleasure exist in going inside myself rather than changing physical location.

For the first time, I realized that there are great blessings in my physical infirmities, as well as pain. I have the blessing of being distant from the demands of the world to "produce". Having no pressure from schedules or clocks, I can follow my own internal timing.

The mental freedom has been most incredible. I have the time to read and write what I want. I have been able to launch upon new spiritual voyages and experience landings in strange harbors. Blogging has allowed me to dip into the minds and hearts of others, some of whom I am beginning to consider "mental friends".

Only I can limit what my heart and spirit are able to become. Though a troubled body was required for me to experience this mental freedom, it seems a small price to pay.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Next Four Years

I believe there was election fraud, but without a paper trail there is no way to even look at the results. Thankfully, Minnesota voted strongly for Kerry. At least I know I am surrounded by more of my political friends than Bushites.

For the next four years I will live as I have the last four. I will feel no personal loyalty to the government, deep personal loyalty to my country and liberal values. I will concentrate my concern on those I care for and those who have been, and will be, hurt or neglected by the Federal government.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

At the Polls

I was fortunate today to be able to vote from my car at the curb in front of my precinct poll. This was possible because I have a handicapped parking permit. The procedure is interesting. S rode with me to vote. She then told one of the officials that a curbside vote was outside. The official came out to see who I was and to have me complete a voting certificate. He told me he would be back with a ballot for me to use, and I would complete it in the presence of two election judges, one from each party.

I began to worry slightly. Hmm, they could foist two Republicans on me. Luckily, the second judge was my Red Hat friend N, and I KNOW she is a Democrat. We shared a hug, and I completed my form.

It was a very easy way to do my voting and avoided a long wait in line with my walker.

Now, a polarized country waits. No matter what the decision, I fear we will be waiting for quite a while. No matter what the decision, we will continue to be polarized.

I am doing sitting practice rather than watching the brouhaha on TV.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I'm Voting for John Kerry

Tomorrow I will be casting my vote for John Kerry.

America is moving on a course that can only lead to the destruction of the principles on which it was founded. The Jeffersonian ideal of a democracy for the common man has been transformed into an oligarchy controlled by corporations, the military and reactionary political leaders.

Our individual rights have been undermined. Under the guise of the "Patriot" Act, our individual medical records can be freely accessed by the Federal government. More and more "ordinary" people are slipping below the poverty level or otherwise struggling due to a poor job market and outsourcing of jobs overseas. Corporations now consider stockholders' profits first, with only minimal concern for their employees.

On an international level, we have wasted the almost universal goodwill we had after 9/11. Iraq was not involved in the World Trade Center disaster. What other purpose did invading Iraq serve? Assisting the oil companies, of course. I DO support our troops. I support their right to come home to their loved ones and their ordinary lives. Even the e-mails they send from the war zones are censored, so we can only imagine how miserable and disillusioned they must be. Bush is so hated by the rest of the world, except some folks in Britain, that he has no chance of ending this war. Kerry, on the other hand, does not have the baggage of four years of Bush's jingoistic nationalism. I believe he will find the solution.

I recall the major speech President Eisenhower made just before leaving office. When asked what the greatest threat facing America was, he replied, "The growing strength of the military/industrial complex". We have Bush leading the military, with the way paved by Haliburton.

We have been known as the "Ugly Americans" for decades. Now we are creating whole generations of terrorists who will feel a sacred duty to attack us. This will mean an increasing loss of our civil rights in the coming years.

And in a much larger way, I seek a more cooperative nation that cares for the human needs of the common man. I seek a nation where people respectfully listen to each other instead of shout and threaten. I seek a nation where the qualities of discussion, empathy and compromise replace saber-rattling, domination and "my way or the highway".

I, as well as millions of others, are visualizing Kerry's victory, the celebration and Kerry's taking office in January, 2005. We also see the troops coming home, medication costs reduced, outsourcers penalized and a balanced budget. We see an America that is no longer a bully and would never engage in a pre-emptive war.

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