Apr 30, 2007

Birds, bulges and benches

Yes, another four days since I last posted. Here's why:

SATURDAY: "Dawn's at 5:45 am. I'll pick you up at 5 am." So I got up at 4:30-ish, starting making the coffee for the thermos and gathering the breakfast sandwiches I had made the evening before, dressed warmly, stuffed a small rucksack and grabbed my camera. At 5:05 am, my friend Torleif and I drove to a recreational area I have written about before on my homepages: Kvarven.

The moment we exited the car, we were met by a wall of sound, created by dozens and dozens of songbirds. Torleif has been birdwatching since he was a boy and could single out each individual specie's characteristic song. I realized that I know birdsong like I know flowers: Rose, dandelion, everything else - crow, great tit, everything else. But it was an amazing experience, to be washed with all that chirping. Immediately, we starting trying to find the singers themselves, sometimes spotting one in the top of a tree.

We got to the spot we had picnicked at the last time we were here birdwatching, and ate breakfast, enjoying the vista way out to the North Sea and back to our own local fjord. There were some fog clouds delaying the sunrise a bit as it rose up behind the eastern mountain range that shelters Bergen's bay, but once it was up, so were we.

The last time, Torleif had heard the call of a black grouse and we headed off in that general direction, and were rewarded with seeing the bird perched on top of the radio mast inside the old military site, still fenced in and off limits. Kvarven is still military. This year, we headed up that same path, hoping to spot the grouse, but we didn't even hear him. We decided to follow the path that skirts the fence. One reason Norwegian scenery is so lush is because it's so wet; our path went through marshy parts and after jumping several puddles, we were wondering about turning back, but I saw the trail rising and figured it would dry out so we forged ahead a bit more.

And came to a vista neither of us was expecting. We sat down and gazed at untouched landscape, wild, hidden and gorgeous, for quite some time. We could hear the muted hum of traffic from the highway just on the other side of the western ridge, but not enough to ruin the illusion of having the world to ourselves.

Finally, around 9 am, we turned around and went back, running into another hiker. I spent the rest of the day happy, but feeling tired like I'd been partying all night. I did end up falling asleep on the couch for a while in the afternoon.

SUNDAY: A glorious day. Clear skies, sunshine, hardly any breeze: T-shirts and shorts weather (if you didn't stand still in the shade). I was getting dressed and opened a package with new panties in my size. Or so I thought. To my shock, the panties were a snug fit. I then spent a while reading a diet book I had bought about a year-and-a-half earlier, weighing myself and measuring my waist and hips. Not good. According to my BMI, I am now overweight, my ideal weight was over 10 kilograms (22 pounds) ago, and my waist-to-hip ratio is now dangerous, as in I have too much around my middle. So I got ideas for dishes to cook (for some reason, they struck me as far tastier now than back when I bought the book) and grabbed my pedometer and went for a walk in the sunshine.

I do not want to go up another clothes size. I have to get my waistline back. But this is all foreign to me. I have always been skinny and when I first started gaining weight (as I entered peri-menopause), I had feminine curves for the first time in my life. I didn't mind. But the pounds kept creeping up on me. I sit around a lot more than I used to...ahem...blog. And they say getting rid of excess weight after menopause is harder than before, so here goes. For the first time in my 46 year life, I will count calories. I am a bit impatient because a safe weight loss means 90 days just to shed 10 pounds (without heavy exercise). Bleh. But a couple of pounds should make the panties fit again.

MONDAY: A rather quiet day at work as half our department had taken a vacation day, as had many others, giving themselves an extra long weekend, since tomorrow is International Labor Day and a holiday. I had jumped at the chance to get a massage with the physical therapist who serves our company on Mondays. He had two available sessions today and I took the 12:30 pm one.

I thought it was the usual loosening of the shoulders, but he found deep knots that hadn't been addressed in a good while. He used a technique I hadn't experienced before, which was to press on the knots while I took deep breath and held it (something about the oxygen, he said). The knots did let go and I was so excited, I asked him if the second available session was still free, and it was. So a little after 3 pm, I was once again on his bench, and this time, having cleared away some other tensions a couple of hours earlier, he found deeper ones, and it hurt. It was almost to the point where I felt like stopping him. As it was, he couldn't loosen this one knot in my right shoulder; it was too stubborn.

He moved to my hips. Oh, OUCH! If I thought that knot in my right shoulder was bad, the ones he found circling all around on my butt muscles were far worse. I've decided to keep going until I'm back to a regular level of "tense". I couldn't relax, I couldn't let go (and I did think of an e-mail exchange with some friends about giving up control; ha! I can't) and my breathing wasn't deep enough (it hasn't been for a good while, I know). So here's someone who can help me work this stuff out (and maybe the emotional reasons for it) and his time gets deducted from my paycheck. It's a good thing I'm getting a tax refund. What good use for it!

He told me I was good-looking woman, and was surprised I had never been a regular exerciser since I seemed so strong. "Blessed with a good body, I guess," I said, secretly appreciating the compliment considering Sunday's ruminations. And I intend to keep my body good.

PS: With a day off tomorrow, I just might get all the photos from my birdwatching walk published. My homepage links to my photo albums.

Apr 25, 2007

Slow, but good

"Doesn't ride the same day he saddles" (as the Norwegians say) could describe me. As some folks would say, I had a frog to eat. The idea of eating a frog is repulsive (not talking about legs prepared by some French chef here), so tasks that seem difficult or distasteful are like the idea of eating a frog, and therefore constantly put off.

My frog was a leaky kitchen faucet. For two years I have lived with a drip and these last months also a non-functioning cold-water handle. Several weeks ago, I finally looked up several plumbers in the area, thinking one who is familiar with the now aged plumbing of the apartment building I live in would be a good choice. I had three choices. Yesterday, I e-mailed two of them. One called me back, and we found out today that I have actually attended two parties at his house.

The plumber came today, which was perfect since I happen to have today off. We found a problem with my ancient stop valves so he and his boss (the man I had partied with) will set up a date to change those valves for me (which involve shutting off the water in my part of the building).

It's weird walking into the kitchen and not hearing a drip. It is a huge joy that, once I got off my butt, things, happened quickly and easily.

I know, it's just a faucet, a couple of hours' work. Why the big deal? That brings me to another joy: Discovering what it is like to not live in a panic.

I suffer from CHAOS: Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome. It is an affliction that affects otherwise intelligent and capable people. For some reason, we just can't figure out how to keep house. I have always been domestically challenged and have, on and off, tried FlyLady's recipe for keeping house. After trying to fend off "hot spots", I decided to go with her method of just shining the kitchen sink. And I discovered that doing a load of dishes doesn't take much more than five minutes to do. I was in my 40's when I discovered that.

Seeing a load of dishes no longer panics me. I have discovered a new competency in myself: I can do dishes whenever and I can do them quickly. Dishes Are No Problem.

I then floundered. The kitchen sink is easy to focus on. It involves specific tasks (clean dishes, put away dishes, wipe down sink). And it inspires to tidy and wipe down countertops, etc. So it would be nice for something similar in another room.

I'm expecting guests this summer so the need to declutter has grown. I donated a bunch of stuff to a flea market took and started to see empty spots, to see space. Boxes that had been sitting underneath my coffee table were finally gone, too. I cleared off the coffee table itself, also, and immediately the living room looked nicer. I had found my "kitchen sink"!

Last week I got things done the night before my daytrip to Oslo, knowing I was going out again that same evening. The next morning, I actually had time to spare, waiting for the taxi to take me to the airport. I was not looking for something last minute, nor was I wondering if I had everything I needed. I thought, "So this is how normal people feel." Very seductive feeling, calm.

I hadn't cleared out the cupboard in the bathroom where the stop valves are and suddenly, I had to make sure everything was in order to receive a plumber. I procrastinated last night. I went to bed early, promising myself an early start today.

Well, I didn't get that early a start but by now I knew that I could do anything in 15 minutes increments and that household tasks often take less time than we realize. So, I had everything cleared out in an hour and could sit down with a cup of coffee and a bit of lunch. The place actually looks nice.

That's when I discovered that I don't know how to wait. I'm so used to doing everything last minute, with 5 minutes, not 50 to spare before company arrives, that just sitting around started to make me nervous. Heh. Something new to learn how to do: Wait. In peace. So I got down to surfing the internet.

But why the frog now? I have been making progress, I have seen - and felt - what it means to not let clutter rule my life, what it means to have some order and routine in the house. And it bothered me that the heart of it all, where it started - the kitchen sink - no longer ever looked wiped down and empty because a stupid pitcher was constantly standing in it to catch drips and lessen their noise. (Not to mention what crappy feng shui that is.)

So no more pitcher. Just perfect timing and a shiny sink.

What does this look like to you?

It's amazing how something that looks like it would need a 24-hour soak in my kitchen, is absolutely gorgeous when it's 300 lightyears wide.

Apr 21, 2007

Opining on the news

Do I have an opinion about the recent news? About a young man who opens fire and kills 32 other people, and wounds 17? I am asked by Norwegians what it means when Americans go amuck with firearms. What's with Americans and guns?

I cannot answer them. I don't know myself. I was not raised in a gun culture. Quite the contrary: My biological maternal grandfather was shot dead before my mother was born, and my grandma became strongly anti-guns.

I have fired a weapon. I had a friend and a paternal relative who let me try a pistol or two. It left me with a lot of respect for the things - and a huge gratitude that I normally was nowhere near any.

I have no clue what to say about America's gun laws. California is restrictive but has problems with illegal weapons; neighboring Nevada allows carrying concealed weapons and has experienced a drop in the crime rate. I don't like the idea of concealed weapons, but I do like the idea of a lower crime rate. I'm torn. What really bothers me is that handguns really have only one function: To threaten harm or do harm to another human being. It's hard to like something so negative.

I don't know any crazy people, American or Norwegian. I am one of the few people (apparantly) who does not have an alcoholic friend or relative (that I know of, at least). I don't do drugs and nobody I know does them, either. No mental illness or even clinical depression in the family. No jailbirds. And no beliefs about how we need to protect ourselves from some enemy. The people I know don't have any enemies..

I cannot tell you why such shootings happen or how to prevent them. I don't think the insanity behind them is uniquely American. What is uniquely American, is the access to firearms. But I cannot tell you that a tragedy would never have happened if the laws were different: Without firearms, the killer could have built a bomb instead or set a fire. And knowing that fellow students and teachers can be carrying concealed weapons might have been a good deterrent.

But there is another issue, and one that isn't uniquely American: Apparantly nobody noticed the young man, and therefore didn't notice he wasn't functioning well mentally and socially.

UPDATE: Some people have been thinking about the issue. Here is the last installment of a three-part series on how schools can avoid shootings. (Thanks to Beep.)

Multiple choice

Taken from Tim (and I may have done this meme before. If so, I apologize; blame the brain):

(X) Smoked a cigarette
(X) Had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back
( ) Been arrested
( ) Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school (yes, because I was bullied and couldn't stand facing my tormentors; IOW, I had a note from home)
( ) Seen someone die
( ) Been to Canada
(X) Been to Florida
( ) Been to Mexico
(X) Been on a Plane (as recently as Wednesday, actually)
(X) Been lost
(X) Been on opposite side of the country (in my case, both US and Norway)
( ) Been to Washington D.C.
(X) Swam in the ocean
(X) Felt like dying (but only briefly)
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers (and cowboys and indians)
( ) Recently colored with crayons (I guess mucking with Photoshop doesn't count)
( ) Recently sang karaoke
(X) Drunk while singing karaoke (of course. Is there any other way?)
( ) Paid for a meal with only coins
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t (and I'm not telling what that was)
(X) Made prank phone calls
( ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain
(?) Wrote a letter to Santa Claus (I don't know. Can't remember. I lost my belief in Santa rather early.)
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone you cared about
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Made a bonfire on the beach (with old tires in the pouring rain)
( ) Crashed a party
(X) Went roller skating
(X) Ice skating
  1. Any nicknames? None. In fact, never.
  2. Mothers name: None of your business
  3. What is your favorite drink? Water. With booze: A semi-dry white wine or a good ol' gin&tonic
  4. Tattoos? None. I've thought about it but can't decide what I'd like permanently drawn on me for the rest of my life.
  5. Body piercing? None. Sounds too - fussy. Risk of infection crap and all that.
  6. How much do you love your job? A lot. In fact, I'm surprised I still love what I found to do over 17 years ago.
  7. Birthplace: Long Beach, California - because that was the closest hospital
  8. Favorite vacation spot? None. I rarely like to go back to the exact same place, unless it's to visit someone.
  9. Ever been to Africa? No, but when I was younger I wanted to go. The desire has decreased.
  10. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? Sure.
  11. Ever been on TV? No.
  12. Ever steal any traffic signs? No, but wanted to. My German teacher in high school had a long one from Wales he'd pilfered while on vacation there and I thought that was rather cool. Tourists in Norway steal "moose warning" signs a lot.
  13. Ever been in a car accident? A couple of small ones.
  14. Was it your fault? None of them were.
  15. Salad dressing? Blue cheese!
  16. (Tim omitted this one, understandably) A, B, C, D, DD cup size? B/C
  17. Favorite pie: Pumpkin.
  18. Favorite number: None. I'm with Tim. What's with having favorite numbers?
  19. Favorite movie: Oh, man... Decisions, decisions. I can't pick one.
  20. Favorite holiday: None. They're all different, and I like them all for that reason.
  21. Favorite dessert: None. I'm not a dessert person.
  22. Favorite food: Spaghetti.
  23. Favorite day of the week: Friday. Everybody's happy and I feel free because it's the start of the weekend.
  24. Favorite brand of body soap: None. I'm not brand loyal.
  25. Favorite TV Show: Decisions, decisions. Meh, OK, here's one: Law & Order.
  26. Favorite toothpaste: Sensodyne Whitening. Right, you've heard of that. It's for sensitive gums, has no triclosan (anti-biotic) or that something-laureate that makes it foam but that can irritate mouths and is mildly bleaching (not that I've noticed on my teeth). So that's why.
  27. Favorite smell? Roses!
  28. What do you do to relax? I drink a cup of calming herbal tea or maybe do some yoga.
  29. Do you have a message to your friends reading this now? Thank you for reading this far. :-)
  30. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Oh, I hate these kinds of questions. I don't even know where I'll be in 10 minutes! I assume I'll still be working and living right where I am. I have no reason not to.
  31. What do you do when you are bored? I am rarely bored.
  32. Ever been in love only to have your heart broken? Sure, but I usually do the breaking (up).

Apr 19, 2007

Anniversaries

Midnight. Wind and rain slash at my coat, lifting it, getting my skirt wet. It's a thin skirt, with glitter on it, and underneath I'm wearing only panty hose. Although the weather is almost freezing, I'm not. I'm warm because I've been drinking.

The evening started with a glass of bubbly around 7 pm, worked its way through an appetizer and "pause dish" with plenty of white wine, a delicious main course with red wine, and a dessert platter with port (I left before the cake and café avec). In between courses, the 30 people around the table sang various songs to drink to, and the company song, as well as listening to a few speeches - and a belly-dancer.

The occassion? A co-worker's 25th anniversary at our company. My co-worker was an equal mix of genuine gratitude and genuine embarrassment at the attention and gifts bestowed on him. Not a bad word was said about him. I listened to stories about him, poems written or read in his honor, and couldn't help but wonder what my own 25th anniversary celebration would be like.

I found myself wondering if it would even be a celebration.

My reputation at work is one of a short-tempered person and although I'm much calmer and happier now, the people I used to work with when I first started at this company have not been around me to see the change. So if I were to invite former co-workers or bosses, what would they say about me? And could I bear to hear it if it were about my temper?

Thing is, I don't think I could. I've always been a bit sensitive about it, partly because it was used against me when I was a kid. I'm not mean, I'm not unreasonable, and abuse can bring out the worst in a kid. So being easily annoyed is not really who I am; it's just what I expressed for so many years.

I have about a year to think about this stuff. Assuming I'm still at this company... (HA! I always say that. Look who's still here.)

Apr 17, 2007

Head lines

Sravana seemed worried in a comment to my previous post that her head line isn't terribly long, because I said that that is the line associated with longevity, not the life line. And of course, this all needs clarification.

The head line is all about how you think and whether or not you think well. It is also a calendar for when things may happen. Many of us are born with chained lines, islands in the line, and other things that weaken a head line and a palmist can tell you when in life these could become an issue (like depression). I can tell you this: You can influence your head line. It reflects your thinking and therefore your life, and will change as your thinking and life do.

My grandma once told me that I had no head line when I was born. I definitely have a head line now, one in each hand. And, I can see that the line has been deepening with age, up to the age I am. Even the island that was once so prominent in that line in my right (dominant) hand, has faded. (The one in my left is still there.) What does this mean?

Well, if you've been reading me for a while, you'll know I'm into affirmations and prayer. I am basically trying to keep my easily worried mind from worrying. The focus on thinking constructive, positive thoughts has changed my outlook and my life. And my head line is happily reflecting that, and it has strengthened in the portion that shows my younger years and has lengthened a bit, too.

Grandma's nearly straight and clear head line (and she was a happy woman, not given to idle complaints) grew to the opposite edge of her palm, reflecting her own longevity (she was 94 when she died).

Some trivia about lines: Women's head lines are more typically detached from the life line, than are men's. A broken life line that continues shows someone who will live in a country they weren't born in (that'd be me). Writers often have a head line that ends in a fork.

Apr 16, 2007

A bit more about the new header

A bit more. HA! Haven't told you a thing, have I. OK, well, now I'm going to tell you.

I enjoyed making my own masthead or whatever it's called (header, right). There's a feeling, when you finally get The Idea, and it just Works. You know you can run with it, you know you can create it, you know you can make it exist outside of your head. And so I had great joy in finding the elements I wanted, and each one led to a new inspiration that gave me another element. No frustration - just pure creative process. Man, that felt good!

Against the backdrop of stars, which are the Stars of the Galactic Center, there are, from right to left: Fox gloves, the blue marble of home, my neighbor's cat (because I wanted an animal), Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (because it's one of the coolest drawings I know and also because Vitruvian Man definitely looks like he could roll in the universe), me with one of my favorite items (no, not the mirror), and at the far left, my grandma's palm, severely lined from existing for over 90 years. By the way, it's not your life line that shows how long you'll live, but your head line. The life line shows physical constitution, but the head line shows your mental health, your attitude. Grandma's head line kept deepening and lengthening with age till it crossed her palm completely. Anyway, I like the idea that Grandma still has a hand in my life. :-)

But every artist must first have an inspiration, and mine was "The Muppet Show". Plowing through season 1 yet again on DVD, this time with comments turned on, Mildred Hockstedder's remark struck me as the perfect mission statement/new blog title. Because while you're looking for your role in the universe, enjoy a roll. The universe is one awesome and beautiful playground!

All done!

Welcome to my new look! Er, my blog's new look. I hope you like it!

Apr 13, 2007

Whoa, four days?

Seriously, has it been four days since my last post? What have I been up to?

Well, it's been another one of those weeks, where I've been busy with Real Life. Specifically, I've been busy gathering fleas. For a fleamarket. Yes, they call it that here in Norway, too (except it Norwegian, of course - "loppemarked"). I have been decluttering, and it has felt good. Now to finish the decluttering job and call the flea market people (who represent a brass band based not far from my hairdresser's part of town).

I also need to declutter my shopping cart, since the store not 300 feet from me is closing its doors after tomorrow. That means shopping at the center where I work, and hauling stuff up the hill. Better with wheels. The shopping cart was last used almost two years ago to haul home something from Grandma's place. I don't remember what. It's going to be a treasure hunt!

In other news, I've been revamping my (other) webpages. I was uploading all kinds of stuff to Flickr and then got to the 200 photo limit of a free account. Well, I'm spending money for dot Mac (Apple's own disk subscription thingy) so I thought I'll use more of that rather than subscribe to Flickr. So the Flickr links to the left are gone, new and altered photo albums are up (via my homepage), and will be updated and added onto there. One of the albums is following Ortuvann through 2007, inspired by my "walkies".

And - I'm finally putting up the photos from my California trip two years ago. Also soon to come: A new look and name for Astroblog.

Yep, you heard it here first (if you hadn't, I'd be worried). Since I no longer blog about things "astro" on a regular basis, the blog needs a new name. I also have wanted to personalize its look a bit more. I finally got the idea for both a name and a way to illustrate it that I liked, and last night I thoroughly enjoyed being creative with Photoshop - even impressing myself. My idea worked! I didn't frustrate myself but actually kept on inspiring myself! Can't beat that!

So Watch This Space.

Apr 9, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast

Alice writes in her blogpost "Pearls Before Breakfast":

This is brilliant. Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten convinced violinist Joshua Bell to play his $3.5 million Stradivarius for quarters in the Washington, DC subway during rush hour back in January. How'd it turn out? Read for yourself (video is included). Enjoy!

I did enjoy. It was a very interesting and well-written article. I don't think I'll be able to look at street musicians in quite the same way again.

Thumbs up

I found this at Beep's - another thumb.

You Are the Thumb
You're unique and flexible. And you defy any category. Mentally strong and agile, you do things your own way. And you do them well. You are a natural leader... but also truly a loner. You inspire many but connect with few.
You get along well with: The Middle Finger
Stay away from: The Pinky

Palmistry interests me (though I can't read palms). I get a kick out of observing things like finger length, joints, flexibility, meatiness, and space between fingers. It can be rather revealing to watch someone's hands. For example, the angle of the thumb to palm can show degrees of caution in starting a new project. (I'm a medium, in case you were wondering.)

Apr 8, 2007

Present Simple

...is the blog of Badaunt, an English teacher (that is, she teaches English; she's actually a New Zealander) in Japan. It has taken me a while to grasp her style, but today's blogpost clinched it. When you read a story that puts you Right There with the writer, then that is some damned good writing. Badaunt's writing made me feel an annoying ringing in my ears, and I was surrounded only by the subtle white noise of a fan heater.

Apr 7, 2007

News from the neighborhood

On March 25, the magpies had made the floor of their nest.

By April 6, they had a roof. It's slow going (or so it seems), but considering that trees are not yet budding, and I woke up to a snowshower this morning, the birds seem to be right on time.

A couple of mornings ago the magpies were making quite the fuss, loudly screeching their characteristic "cat-alert" (which is a bit like a machine-gun firing). I looked out and saw no cat. I looked up at the birds and their nest, and for a brief moment, saw a white, furry face poke out between the twigs of the nest. The cat was well-hidden within the nest so no point in taking a photo. Eventually, the cat left (I missed when and how), and the magpies resumed building in peace. (Cats in magpie nests is not a good thing; one neighbor's cat (Buster's mom, actually) got caught in one and in her struggle to free herself, injured herself. Humans trying to pry her loose, ended up having to cut the nest apart, twig by twig. It was like trying to go through rock, I was told.)

In other news: I found out today that my local grocery store, a mere 75 meters (246 feet) from my door to theirs, is closing in a week. Their lease is up and they aren't earning enough to stay. I'm going to miss them.

Apr 4, 2007

B+

No, not my blood type - my personality type. As found at a Type A's blog. ;-)

You Have A Type B+ Personality
You're a pro at going with the flow
You love to kick back and take in everything life has to offer
A total joy to be around, people crave your stability.

While you're totally laid back, you can have bouts of hyperactivity.
Get into a project you love, and you won't stop until it's done
You're passionate - just selective about your passions

Apr 2, 2007

Insults and the right to free speech

Bloggers all over are currently discussing the suggestion of a blogging code of conduct, where bloggers are required to refrain from insults and threats, or get their blogs yanked.

The debate is generally anti-code, justified by the claim that it is freedom of speech to say what you want, and said freedom is protected by the US constitution. The thing is, we aren't discussing political blogs or racist blogs or pornographic blogs or blogs that in general have some kind of inflammatory material on them. We are discussing blogs much like my own: One person's personal outlet offered to the world because it's a rewarding thing to do (get to write, get to share, get feedback). But on some blogs, commenters are leaving insults and threats, including death threats.

The general reaction to this, that I have seen so far, is if you can't tolerate some sicko comments on your blog, you are too sensitive for blogging so just stop blogging. Don't bitch about the internet being all mean and harsh and evil and stuff because it's Free Speech, man!

In other words, the right to free speech equals the right to insult, to badger, to threaten. Too bad if it upsets the recipient.

That got me thinking. Is that really free speech? Is that sort of writing really a right? All of our laws are generally about getting people to be nice to each other, about getting along and not harming each other in any way. So why would the first amendment in the US constitution be an exception to that?

I don't think it is. I think the first amendment and any laws that protect the right to free speech are about protecting the right to speak your mind without being ridiculed or persecuted. That means that insulting or threatening someone because of something they wrote goes against the spirit of the first amendment.

As well as being wrong.

Who makes me think

Eep! I've been tagged! By Mark. So here are five blog(ger)s that make me think:

Mark hisself. We have some things in common but we don't necessarily process the same way, and so I can't just sit back and assume. I've discovered I can't even make assumptions about myself.

Alice because she keeps abreast of stuff, and keeps me informed (and even on my toes). And she inspires me with her photography.

Sravana and her spiritual blog (she has another "everyday" one) because although we are on the same sort of journey, we process differently, and I enjoy that difference.

Emily, because she has managed to pull me into her world and see Norway all over again - from the outside. It's a balancing act, staying happy in a country so very different from the US and Emily's experience with it is quite different from mine, so there is a lot she can teach me.

Gretchen and her Happiness Project. The more I read it, the more I discover I can learn from it. I initially linked to it from my other blog because I thought it might be useful to others. Turns out, I'm "others", too.

Those who want to, may consider themselves tagged. :-)

Apr 1, 2007

Giraffes = fun

Where does the idea come from that if what we are doing is fun, it can't be God's will? The God who made giraffes, has a sense of humor. Make no mistake about that. —Catherine Marshall

Are you sure you're seeing it right?

I saw this cartoon over on another blog, and found it to be an excellent illustration of how many of us see our problems - or our shortcomings (take your pick): Far bigger than they really are.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.



This cartoon speaks to me in another way: It illustrates how my prayers are answered, or rather: What happens when I focus, when I use my affirmations and set my worries and assumptions aside. The bottom picture shows a figure struggling up the slope and we see the next revelation: The goal is Right There, that it wasn't that difficult or far or huge or insurmountable - or even that lonely. And that realization, that the problem wasn't all that overwhelming after all, can come in a moment of calm, in a moment of meditation, or when the solution presents itself (and you can spend a minute feeling stupid :-) ).

Many of us expect solving a big problem or any problem to be difficult, to require a lot of effort and time and even some pain. This is our biggest illusion: Assuming life must be difficult. And yet, most problems resolve as simply as the cartoon suggests. The belief that life is not meant to be hard challenges us. We have been taught the opposite: Life is a struggle.

But what if the truth about life is that it is not a struggle? That life's true nature is to flow easily, gracefully, effortlessly and our true nature is to flow with it in the same manner? These are the thoughts of taoists and buddhists - and even mystics of other religions. The truth about life on Earth is not that it is hazardous (or even unfair), but that it is a safe place in which to express yourself as a unique being.

UPDATE: Sravana forwarded "The Art of Surrender" to me. It relates to the post above.