May 28, 2007

How things work: The mouse pointer

My mom knows I'm kinda geeky (and honestly, so's she; we once worked for the same computer company) so she knew I'd be interested in how the cursor actually does its thing. It's a Flash demonstration, so just wait a bit, then move your own mouse pointer into the light gray circle. And yes, I know it's absolutely silly, but it really tickled my funnybone.

Cuisine and camping

Somebody has a picture of a hamburger on their blog. Big picture. Big burger. And they are giving it (the burger, not the picture) a review.

Which is something you'll probably not see on my blog. A food or restaurant review. I don't know what things are called, and my cooking is more a la short-order cook than chef.

Thing is, my relationship with food is simple: If it's there and I'm hungry, down it goes. I was raised to eat what was before me and to try anything once (which I still do, short of those deep-fried spiders and live octopuses, but I have eaten dead octopus). I am even more willing to eat if it doesn't require any work on my part.

Here's the funny thing: I will happily cook on my stove for you and go through all the preparations and clean-up. I do not get the charm of skewering a hot dog and holding it over a campfire (I get sitting by a campfire and watching red glows wink off into the dark as they rise above the flames), or finally threatening a BBQ into a proper temperature and throwing dead animal parts on it. That sort of thing frustrates me. Watching the same slab of meat broiling in a restaurant is a happy scene, and makes me look forward to the food. Cooking out-of-doors doesn't. (I am so out of step with Norwegians on this one!)

I don't mind picnics. Ready-made sandwiches packed and squished in a container along with utensils in glorious plastic and plastic-coated cardboard, investigated by the local six-leggeds, that I like! Nearly the same, was the type of food and the way it was served on the boat trip I took recently. Norwegians love seafood buffets. Typically, the shrimp is served whole, i.e. with head and legs and ectoskeleton and feelers, so you have to cleanse it yourself. I know how to do that, but here is possibly the real reason why I don't enjoy certain aspects of "roughing it" with food: You can't time when you actually get to eat because of the unpredictability of preparing it first. Cleaning enough individual shrimp to actually get enough to put on a slice of bread takes time and is very messy (and smelly). So since I knew I wasn't going to enjoy that, and likely get frustrated before I'd cleaned enough to actually make a meal, nor eat any crab or lobster, I bought a seafood (!) sandwich at our fish market on my way. Got my shrimps and salmon in that. And questions from everyone, but they understood my explanation. :-) (And I did have the mussel bisque. Two bowls.)

I'm not sure why I'm a picky eater when it comes to the outdoors version but I do see a parallell to something else many people enjoy: Camping. I remember chuckling at a girlfriend who owned only high-heeled shoes and boots, buying her first pair of trainers in order to walk a trail with a new boyfriend. I have always owned footwear for trails (if not for muddy ones), so it's not like bugs and twigs bother me. But the idea of pitching a tent appeals not one bit to me. Tents are stupid.

My grandparents had a pop-tent. A six-sided feat of engineering and design that I haven't seen matched before or since (not that I keep up with the world of camping equipment, but now I see only four-sided). The drawing here comes close to what our tent looked like. It was like opening an umbrella. You slipped the rods into each of the six sides, raised the thing up to standing, spread out the six sides and tent floor, then pushed down the top and voila! A canvas igloo, with room for two sleeping bags. I'd set that up by myself in the summer in the backyard, but I never slept overnight in it. Most other tents I see used require a committee and possibly an aerospace engineer to set up. Whatever it takes, it's too much work.

But I'll stay in a cabin with no indoor plumbing. I am not bothered in the least by outhouses, the old kind with a wooden seat over a hole in the ground. I grew up with that (and we even had to fish one of our kittens out of it once - mind the gap!).

So there's a limit to my enjoyment of roughing it. I'm either lazy or sensible. Can't decide which. ;-)

May 26, 2007

Knitting for the advanced

I have a couple of knitting friends (waves to Sravana and Paula) and so of course I thought of them when I went to our museum of arts and crafts to see the Knitnic exhibit. Objects and advertisements were made from knitting. I especially enjoyed the entire white wool living room set which included side table, chair, TV, lamp and telephone, right down to the power cords. A cute idea was a pointed bit of orange purlknit still tethered to its ball of yarn, entitled "Making a Carrot". Equally cute was the miniature red quillotine. Artists. They do think of the darnedest things. (More photos here, also showing the artists.)

The picture above is of a teddy bear knit from bronze thread. We were warned that it would look very soft to touch, but would give us nasty metal splinters if we did. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to photograph, so used my two youngest friends as alibis for taking a picture. Recently confirmated Odd Erling on the left, and his older sister Ann-Kristin on the right (and now I've linked to you, grrl, so you'd better update your blog!).

Ann-Kristin got to be my alibi again for one of the rudest but also funniest pieces of art we've seen in a good while. And this was the one that really made me think of my knitting friends. ;-) The quality of the piece is like a fine jersey. Click on the photo to read all the funny blurbs, including "Nudist knitting colony discovered in Wales".

May 25, 2007

Unmesswithable

In a comment to my last post there was a suggestion that I got my morals from a religion. I replied "My morals have not been dictated to me by religion (because I didn't have one), but by my family, society and personal experiences."

Actually, I'm not sure where I got my morals from, but I assume it was family first and society second because religion just didn't play that big a part. Well, it did, but not for the reason you think. I was raised by my maternal grandmother and her husband, my mother's step-father. Grandma was half Irish and half English and her mother got hell from her Irish family for marrying "that Englishman" (spit it out when you say it, and you get the picture). Grandma had lived first-hand through the divide that religion and ethnic differences can cause and also through the screwier side of Victorian child-rearing (such as never informing your daughters about puberty) so never shoved religion or way of life down anyone's throat. She chose instead to be open and honest and accepting. Case in point: I could ask Grandma about menstruation and masturbation and she gave me straight answers. She never said anything was a sin, though she still had her Christian faith.

Grandpa lost his faith, if he ever had one, somewhere during the war (WWII). After watching so many young men die uselessly, he no longer knew what to think and chose not to waste any time trying to figure it out. So he became an atheist.

Think about that for a minute: Two people, incredibly devoted to each other, each other's best friend, each respecting each other and determined to get along, had quite opposite views on whether or not there is a god and what the nature of that god is. What I grew up with was the attitude they both shared: People are good. People are interesting. Everybody deserves equal treatment and equal respect. Both of my grandparents grew up in racist eras, and chose not to carry those attitudes forward into their own lives. I was an adult before I heard any racial slurs (and I think it was "Blazing Saddles" that introduced me to them). Nobody in my family ever said anything derogatory about any race, ethnic background or nationality.

So my morals, my general attitude about how to treat people are most closely akin to "live and let live", and have nothing to do with a fear of hell. I don't bother tsk-tsking other people's behavior. I knew from my own family that things can happen that have nothing to do with a person's goodness. Also, six years of bullying made me keenly aware of what it's like to be attacked for no reason. Not all bully victims learn that, but bully others. I tried that once - once - and it turned my own stomach to be as mean as my tormenters. I didn't do it again.

There are things about me, a vibe I give off, I guess, that results in me not attracting certain people. For example, drug users. I don't use drugs and I've never tried drugs, so drugs are just not in my sphere of experience or interest. People who use sense this. And some I've met think I'm cool because I don't judge them, I don't give them a "look". See, this is how I operate: I watch out for myself. My morals are just that: My morals. Not yours. Mine. Do not try to make me do something that in my opinion would be wrong for me. It doesn't have to be wrong for you or illegal, but if it is wrong for me, I will not do it.

Here's an example: One friend I had had the opinion that if she met a guy in a bar and he made a pass at her, she'd go to bed with him. If he was married, wasn't her problem; it was his. I can understand the rationale behind that, but I can't bring myself to act on it. Me, if some married guy makes a pass at me, I turn him down, because I respect marriage. Not just my own, but anybody's. You see, I always remember there's a third party: the wife. I'd hate to be the wife at home whose husband had a one-night stand because some other woman ignored the gold band on his finger, just because he did.

I've had people (men, usually) practically demand that I lighten up. Sorry, no. I live in this body, with these feelings; you don't. So don't assume you know what's good for me, what I can live with. I guarantee you that I probably have more fun that you do, because I never have to worry about getting caught doing something I'm ashamed of or doing something that would hurt somebody else.

Which leads me to another unmesswithableness: Hypnosis. I'm not entirely sure about it, but have heard some myths, like how flexible your eyeballs are (how far you can move them up and down and sideways) shows how susceptible to hypnosis you are (more flexible = less susceptible). At any rate, once in a psychology class in college, our teacher decided to give the class a sample of hypnosis. We all rested our right arm and hand on the desk, closed our eyes, and listened to him repeat phrases like "you are relaxed" and "your arm is light as a feather" over and over for 10 minutes. Then he said "Open your eyes." To my huge surprise, one finger was lifted off the desk. I could not feel the sensation of muscles holding my finger in the air. Then I looked at my fellow classmates. Only one other had only a couple of fingers lifted. The rest had their whole hand in the air and a couple their whole arm from the shoulder in the air. None of us had any sensation of muscle activity. Awesome! I'd love to repeat that experiment.

For the record, low IQ is not the reason hypnosis had so little affect on me (I know you were wondering after reading myths). More likely it was that other unmesswithability of mine: I do not willingly relinquish control to someone else, so some skepticism in me, some unwillingness to trust my teacher or the situation completely, may have made me less susceptible to hypnosis. I've been bruised so many times, I no longer let my guard down completely. There are times when it would be good if I did - like now, during my massages. It would make relaxing a bit easier. That's my next project.

May 23, 2007

Atheists vs. Christians - or atheists AND Christians?

I just read an article on theists vs. atheists and it was not a waste of time. It was a very good look at how the non-believers and believers can get along and why insisting on not getting along isn't a good idea at all.

Over on my other blog I go on about God a lot. I try to write for the atheists and those folks who grew up feeling strangled by religion and so have trouble with the word "God". (Since I found a definition of God that doesn't include a definition of hell, I'm OK with the word and concept.) But I cannot speak about my own spirituality and spiritual process without including God because that's not how I am wired. And apparantly we are wired for such things. Faith or a need for a faith is emerging as something genetic. And for that reason, I am baffled at how atheists get through their day, their life without having a faith, without prayer, without a desire for a connection to something bigger and better than oneself, and at the same time a part of oneself.

I have always had that desire. I attended a number of Bible camps growing up and have always tried to sort out this religion thing. I never could get the deal with Jesus, because the whole dying-on-the-cross thing baffles me. No, don't try to explain. Many have tried before you, and not one has been able to get me to understand why his death changed anything. (Which reminds me of a discussion with a former Christian friend: What is being saved? My answer: Remembering your spirit and being true to it.)

So I had to go find my faith outside the religion offered me (Norway is an Evangelical Lutheran nation). My good fortune is that I grew up with a woman who had a philosophical and investigative spirit and introduced me to things like theosophy and the Rosicrucians. Said woman was married to an atheist. I wish I had asked him more about his lack of faith. But he was one of the most spiritual people I have ever known, because he always managed to give and get respect; even abused animals trusted him automatically. So I know that those Christians who insist on shoving their (negative version of) religion down my throat are missing the point of their own religion, and the derogatory attitude some atheists have towards anybody who believes in (a) God is likewise missing the point of being human. Most people, theists and atheists alike, fall somewhere in the great middle, and get along fine with everyone else, and want to. And that is what the article I linked to above shows.

If you've been defining others in your world as "those people", please go read. There is no "them". There is only us.

May 22, 2007

In a lighter vein

Sheesh. My last post brought even me down. It's not that my life doesn't have its ups and downs, but I tend to want to have something constructive to say about it or do about it, so focusing on the word "sadly" just - sucks. Even in a blogpost. So while I do have some potential health issue to explore, I'm not down! I'm not doing "sadly" any more. Here's actually what's been happening:

Just in the flow, man, in the flow. Or in the zone. You know, when you are completely present and everything just flows right along with you. For example, the ceiling lamp in my living room: It is of such a design that it looks best with one of those large, round bulbs, not a regular incandescent bulb. So I finally found myself in the store in town that sells such bulbs, stocking up on the special size coffee filters I need, and on impulse bought a bulb. At home, I thought I'd re-use the regular bulb currently in the lamp, but when I grabbed it to unscrew it, the bulb detached itself from its metal bottom. Whoops. Well, a pair of pliers easily undid the screw part, so in with the new large bulb, and everything's fine. But you just gotta marvel at the coincidence, yes? The timing? Oh, sure you do. Listen, that's the point! That's what Jung was on about: Synchronicity.

And what else happens? A woman I know via Usenet happens to drop a comment about her thyroid medicine, and I suddenly realize here's someone I can pump for information as it relates to the Norwegian healthcare system. And she is willing to give advice and has already given me a very good list of things to ask my doctor to check for me. How 'bout that!

Ain't nothing sadly going on here!

May 19, 2007

Sadly and such

My last post was written during a sickleave from work. Since then, Norway's Constitution Day (May 17) has come and gone, without me participating in any way this year, and I had one day at work, a quiet day, since many co-workers had taken the day off to extend their weekend.

Today I braved the cold wind and enjoyed a cruise with Bergen's pride, the barque "Statsraad Lehmkuhl", chartered by my trade union. It was an enjoyable 5 hours in the middle of a Saturday, in spite of rain and strong wind. The ship itself glided smoothly through the choppy waters, and below deck, we stayed warm and entertained since there was wine and beer and a jazz band.

My brain is actually preoccupied with my health and an odd word usage of late: Sadly. I find things make me sad. I'm not sure why, but the word "sadly" pops up easily in my speaking and writing. Could be a phase. Or it could be something else. I'm not in the habit of getting sick barely a half year after the last time I had a similar illness so something's up, and since my mom has hypothyroidism, which affects the immune defense system, I'm definitely thinking something may be happening with me, too. So I've spent a lot of time surfing the 'net looking for information, which is why I'm now eating coconut oil. At some point, I'll make a doctor's appointment, too.

May 15, 2007

Black teen humor and me

A father proudly posted the URL to his 13-year-old daughter's website to a Usenet group I read, boasting his daughter's site gets 21,000 hits. So I took a look. The tiny photograph of the web mistress herself showed a pale and serious face framed by dark hair, the almost gothic and always closed look some kids sport.

Me being me, I clicked on something called "too much time on my hands" and landed right in the test results of "Most Likely Way to Die" which had "Suicide" far outranking all other options.

So I asked the dad about whether or not he knew the dark thoughts lurking in his daughter's mind, and both he and another dad promptly suggested that childless I had no clue what kids' humor is like today. The test is all in fun, silly.

It is very possible that I don't know what today's teens find amusing. The teens I do know personally don't have this dark, permanently pouting outlook on the world.

Now, I have no personal experience with teen angst. I was so relieved to not be bullied and to be in California and to be making friends with people with whom I had no painful history, that I pretty much enjoyed being a teenager.

When I was about 13 or so and still in Norway, I considered suicide, fed up yet again with being bullied. I went through my options (poison, gun, drowning, etc.) and realized it would be hard to pull off a suicide without someone seeing what I was up to (because my most practical option was hanging and you can bet someone would notice me schlepping rope; I didn't know about orgasms and belts back then). I then thought about what my tormentors would think when they heard I was dead, and then I got angry. I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of beating me down!

So when I moved back to California at age 15, it was a new and glorious adventure and overshadowed any teen issues I had. I was so used to the world being against me anyway, that that wouldn't get my attention.

It may be my personality, it may be my upbringing, but I wasn't drawn to destructive behaviors. I always laugh at the claim that good girls always fall for bad boys, because I can't ever remember wanting trouble in any form. I didn't have a father to rebel against, either.

Now, I've posted on this blog my own results to a "How Will You Die" test. And I've thought about that now, about whether or not I am being a hypocrite. I posted the results back then because they were fairly pleasant and a bit humorous. I would not have posted the results if they had come up with suicide; it's not what I want on my blog and that answer would probably upset me and my readers, anyway. But I realize now that someone else taking the test could come up with other results and get upset. (And now I'm debating whether or not to pull the above-mentioned post.) So I react when a 13-year-old posts a similar test, though she could just be showing off to her friends.

But that leaves me with what she must have answered to get suicide as a clear result. She may not have been honest in answering, but what if she was? And even if she did do the test as a lark (as I did), there's still the truth that there is always a bit of seriousness in every joke. Perhaps she's just more willing to admit to having the same thoughts I had at her age. Or is using humor to make a difficult topic easier to handle.

At any rate, I'm not convinced it's only black teen humor.

May 14, 2007

Food meme - sort of

Paula tagged me, and when I saw what I had been tagged with, I immediately felt at a loss. You see, my relationship with restaurants in Bergen is, well, more or less non-existent for a couple of reasons.

First of all, my company has an excellent employee cafeteria and a hot dinner Monday through Thursday. I get my dose of salted cod, or Ma's meatballs, or lapskaus (Norwegian Mulligan stew) there, cheaply and without the fuss or leftovers such dishes cause a single gal (who doesn't really know how to make them, anyway).

Secondly, though Norwegians eat out far more than they used to, and the variety of restaurants and types of food has multiplied the last couple of decades, it is still relatively expensive to eat out in this country, and so it's not done that often, not even weekly. People who do eat out once a week or more either have an expense account or still live at home and pay no rent. So if I'm going to fork over that much money, I want to feel it was worth it. Which brings me to:

Thirdly, I might eat out more often if I actually liked the food. The best food and service cost accordingly, making those experiences not something to do on a weekly basis, and sometimes not even monthly. Since I get my dose of typical Norwegian food at work, I tend to focus on the town's foreign restaurants, but they don't satisfy my tastebuds. The American restaurants in town taste cheap to me, like an attempt at mimicking American that almost but not quite succeeds. We have a Mexican restaurant, but it must be some kind of hybrid. It offers no dishes I know from California, and there's never any refried beans or yellow rice, but there is the ubiquitous handful of green salad, which may sport a tomato, but never any dressing.

That said, there are a few places I would recommend to visitors, as well as prioritize for myself, depending on occassion:

  • For some of the city's best sandwiches, and conveniently located right off the main square behind Hotel Norge, there's Godt Brød (Good Bread). You can also get a variety of teas and coffees there. My favorite place to rest my feet and get a bite while shopping.
  • For something to eat on the go, or the basis for dinner, try hot fish cakes at Søstrene Hagelin (the sisters Hagelin) - an institution in Bergen, and just up the street from Godt Brød. You can sit down to a hot meal there, too.
  • For something exclusively "bergensk" (of the city of Bergen), there is Bryggeloftet & Bryggestuene (Wharf Loft & Wharf Rooms), right on Bryggen itself. The decor downstairs (The Rooms) features paintings of old-time Bergen on every wall. Upstairs (The Loft) is more like a Norwegian lodge. The menu features uniquely Norwegian dishes, elevated to fine cuisine. The service is quick and good and the employees are very used to tourists. Try the local specialty: Bergen's fish soup.
  • For dining with a spectacular view and excellent service, there's the restaurant at the top of the funicular: Fløien Folkerestaurant (Fløien Folk Restaurant). More expensive than Bryggeloftet, but if you want to extend your stay on Bergen's roof, this is a good place to do it. They have an exclusive fish and shellfish stew which is one of the best seafood dishes I have ever had in my life. For the lunch crowd, they offer a cafeteria-style hot meal.
  • Finally - at a mid-priced range - your typical family restaurant, Norwegian style: Restaurant Lido. It's on a corner across the street from the tourist office, and if you're lucky, you can get a table with a view of Bergen's open-air fish market and watch the comings and goings of the locals. The food is typical fare for a Norwegian cafeteria (which brings back childhood memories), and the place appeals to older Norwegians because there's nothing exotic or demanding about either food, furnishing or atmosphere. That and the tables set with paper tablecloths and crayons also make it a popular restaurant for folks with kids. Some of the guests' more artistic doodles hang on the wall.

    I used to go to this restaurant one Saturday a month with my friend Elsa, and we'd order "today's special" and the house wine (meaning, watch the cashier pump some box wine into a carafe). We'd then spend hours talking and looking out the windows at life outside. Never a dull moment.

    Lido has no website of its own, but it and many other Bergen restaurants are listed here.

PS: I'm not tagging anyone for my own screwy reasons.

May 13, 2007

Cleaning out my surf-box

I have a folder in my mail application, labelled "surf" into which goes e-mails containing links to sites to read or explore later. Most of the mails are from myself to myself. Here are some gems worth sharing:

  • It’s not what you plan to do that comes first, it’s what you’re willing to give up to make time and space to do it. From the Lifehack article Letting Things Go, which is a good read for us procrastinators. It touches on one reason we don't do what we want to do: We simply don't make the time for it.
  • Somewhat related to the above is Merlin Mann's suggestion for getting a fresh start by replacing one project. Find something that gets you really excited and makes you feel energized and hopeful about the prospects in your life. Pretend for a moment that you can finally scratch an itch that you may never have acknowledged until now. [...] Excise something stupid, and undertake something cool.
  • Widgety goodness - via your browser (seems to work in Camino, though Firefox is recommended). I still don't know what to use Protopage for, myself. It is the web equivalent of walking into a stationary store and seeing a dozen different types of planners complete with extras (like maps and stuff), and then I end up browsing for hours.
  • Wallpapers (as Windows users call desktop pictures). My link puts you in the middle of landscapes and animals, or something. Can't read the writing.
  • One of many logic games.
  • Sound effects for your mailbox. I'm a sucker for Bugs Bunny.
  • Stanford U as podcasts. Keep on learning!

Crystal

Sravana writes about an aura test, which includes a bit about so-called Indigo children. I took the test, not really expecting it to be more than entertaining, but the last questions about "red overlay" made me cry. After answering about likes and dislikes of various kinds, came a reminder about how an abusive or neglectful childhood can sidetrack a person.

Which made me think about recent events. The physical therapist currently loosening my knots had a monologue about his past dabbling in New Age, about working out childhood issues, and his decision to just say, "those aren't deciding the rest of my life!", and about how people have stuff buried in them - and in their bodies - that if they dealt with would leave them happier and healthier. I tried to respond to all this, that I had been working on these issues my entire adult life, and was pretty self-aware, but he just wasn't listening, so I gave up. When I went back a week later, he asked me if I had thought about the stuff he'd talked about and I answered, rather annoyed, "All the time, since I was 18." He said he just wanted to know if something new had surfaced since my last massage. "No, nothing," I lied.

Becaue I had, during the weekend, encountered another man who managed to keep me a captive audience and, with the claim of "friendly conversation", gave me a monologue and heard not one word I had to say.

Of course this makes me wonder about what vibes I'm sending out, or whether or not I'm not being clear enough to other people. I am so used to being told I talk a lot (too much, say some), that when I am silent and doing all the listening, I figure I'm finally doing something right, something polite and considerate. I didn't see that I was being run over and disrespected as their listener, partly because both men were making (wrong) assumptions about me.

Well, it all ended up with a cold and a sinus infection ("someone annoys you") which has kept me from attending a confirmation today. I am, however, feeling better, and I think extra doses of vitamin C, going off my diet, and trying to rinse through my nose has helped. The body knows.

So, what does this have to do with aura tests and the title? My aura is crystal. That was the one that got the highest score, closely followed by violet and indigo sharing 2nd place. I am a rare bird, apparantly. The definition of crystal (chameleon) I see as echoing my Gemini Moon very well. I do tend to behave according to the occassion, and I can be either lady or tramp, depending. I do not see this as hiding my true self, because my core self never changes, nor do I adopt to others in order to make them like me. But I can see where I can be too adoptive to the situation.

New challenge: How to speak up when the other person isn't listening. How to be crystal clear.

Some thoughts for the seeker

Been there, done that (BTDT) is a phrase often heard (and often joined with "Got the T-shirt"). My books show me an interest in astrology, palmistry, auras, healing, reflexology, ayurvedic medicine, macrobiotics, psychic phenomenon, pendulums, chrystal healing, aroma therapy, the tarot, yoga, reiki, UFOs, chakras, automatic writing… All collected over many years since I was 18, and all more or less tried out.

I came of age in the 1970's, during a high time for New Age matters, and a renewal in something else called New Thought. I ran to psychics, astrologers, palmists, sometimes wishing I had their gift. As a young woman who was confused and clueless about her future, it was easy and fun to seek out answers that way. And for this budding yogini there were also any number of spiritual teachings to check out and sort through.

Over the years I have been told I am an old soul, formerly an Egyptian priestess, a bitchy 13-year-old prostitute with bad teeth, a communications officer from another galaxy who arrived here some 7000 years ago (I rather like that one), and assorted other stuff. All very heady and entertaining but in the end rather useless.

Here is what I have found in my decades of dabbling with things that are "out there":

You don't need a psychic or astrologer to tell you your future or even your past, and you don't need to know your past life (assuming you believe you've had one) to know what your karma - the stuff you have to sort out - is in this life. All the clues you need to figure out how to heal and be happy are given to you right here, right now. If you have lived a while and still feel stuck, look back over your past. You'll see a theme repeating. You'll see the same issues surfacing again and again, asking you to learn and heal and move on. There is no mystery here; nothing is hidden from you in your own life. Even without clear childhood memories, you can understand what your wounds are and help yourself heal. It does take a certain willingness to poke around in the painful parts of your self. You may also find meditation can help you get at the parts of yourself the distractions of everyday life tends to drown out. Or you can imagine talking to your six-year-old self.

Can talking to an astrologer help? Certainly. The patterns of your life show in your birth chart. Do you need astrology to figure yourself out? Well, you shouldn't. You should know yourself. But if you haven't thought about the theme of your life and you need help seeing it, it does help to have someone to talk with about these things, and a palmist or tarotist or astrologer can open that door because the theme is often what they notice first.

In my own seeking experience, the messages about life and our purpose (essentially: love is all there is and all we are) started to repeat themselves. I found this boring and unsatisfying. Why was I hearing the same thing again and again? I later realized it was because it was the truth. It was a universal experience that many people had had and that was why it was repeated so often. Anything that contradicts this message of love deserves skepticism or even outright criticism. And that showed me who to trust when I was seeking further information.

When you open up to the spiritual side of your nature, it can be a very heady experience. An ego-trip. You feel so good about yourself and your new-found awareness, that you can get rather proud and haughty about it, and lose patience with those who don't get it or who are trailing behind you in their own journey to enlightenment. BTDT myself and I've seen it in others. But it goes over, once you realize that the here and now in your physical body is feeding your spiritual growth. If you fail at something as simple (and as considerate to others) as paying your bills on time, what good is having seen your spirit guide? Be aware that great spiritual truths can be found in our earthly experiences. As above, so below.

We are all on the right path for ourselves, and as evolved or enlightened as we need to be for what we are to do in this life. Pain is a sign that we are not being true to ourselves.

So seek out whatever, wherever. If you are seeking, it is because you know there is more to learn and more growing to do than what you are experiencing in your current circumstances. But don't spend money on umpteen psychic readings. Keep your own counsel in all this seeking. Not all the predictions or information you'll get will be of value. Be a little skeptical; don't hand over your will or responsbility for yourself to someone just because they went right to your pain. (A psychopath at a party can do that, too.) Understand that each person giving you a reading has their own view of things, and this will color the information you get, which is one reason they don't all say the same thing. Use the psychic not as a comfort or as someone to make decisions for you, but as someone you can ask the deeper questions of. The meaning of life questions. The meaning of your life. Find out what wound you have that must heal and what purpose (area of growth) you have in this life; the two are usually related. Details like career, marriage and health will take care of themselves.

Love is all there is, above and below.

May 10, 2007

Faith takes faith

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "To take the first step in faith, you don't have to see the whole staircase: just take the first step."

Faith is a very difficult notion. So many try to compensate for a lack of faith by using will-power or rituals. And so many feel they have no faith, that they constantly fall short of believing in whatever deity they want to believe in.

In my metaphysical readings, I came across the statement that faith requires - faith. At first glance, that doesn't seem all that helpful. But here is what is meant: Faith isn't something you start out with, faith is something you give yourself by just believing it is worth it. Faith isn't something you have; it is something you build.

You need just that one belief: That there is a power in the Universe that wishes you well and that you are a part of and therefore can use. Evyerthing in this world is meant to support and continue life. You are no exception to this rule.

Like it's my own home burning

The Griffith Park fire has made the Norwegian news. For me, it's like watching my own home go up in flames.

Griffith Park's Greek theater was the first place I ever attended a rock concert, and in trying to get tickets to another rock concert, I managed to run a red light and get a different kind of ticket.

I used to drive Los Feliz Boulevard to work and college, as a way to avoid freeway clogs. I always enjoyed that part of my drive, with thick woods to the north of the boulevard and nice homes and view of the city basin to the south. The most beautiful part was coming to the final bend that put me on Western Avenue. Suddenly, the street would stretch perfectly straight out and below me, with traffic lights glowing in a straight line way off into the distance, being the only thing to penetrate the haze. I saw this cityscape as a work of art and actually played with the idea of doing an India ink drawing and wash. The idea is still in my head, and I still enjoy the memory.

I know that the firefighters will succeed (they always do, God bless them) and that eventually the trees and plants will grow back (they always do), but in the meantime, it is shocking to watch such a beautiful area, and so close to homes and the city itself, go up in smoke.

May 9, 2007

Confirmation time

Things can be extremely seasonal in Norway, sometimes to the point of comical, as my grandma noted when she discovered that house slippers are sold only at Christmas time. That was then; now, slippers are sold all year round. However, don't expect to find bathrobes in any other month than December.

And so it is with confirmation. You find the pre-printed invitations, his or her decorations, and greeting cards for the confirmating teen only in spring, even though some kids have their ceremony in the fall. A few hectic weekends at the end of April and beginning of May see churches stuffed to the rafters as young teens renew their pledge to their faith.

This year there is a confirmation in the family, as it were. Torleif's youngest will be dressed in a gown, wearing a nice suit and tie underneath, receiving his blessing in the old church in Os. Today I shopped for a card for him and discovered that the four choices of my youth (two for her and two for him; never is gender differentiation greater than at confirmation) has grown into four whole racks of cards, two of which you see on the photo.

Some kids take the religious aspect seriously; most want the party and the gifts, which is usually cash - ever increasing amounts of it. Most are also sensible about what they want the money for (education, a driver's license, a trip, a savings account). And for those who want the rite but not the religion, there is a now a secular ceremony which is gaining popularity. After the ceremony, family gathers (friends don't because they have their own confirmation party) for food and gift-giving, usually accompanied by childhood photos of the guest of honor, and the telling of anecdotes and singing of home-made songs, all intended to both honor and somewhat embarrass the budding adult, who is usually overwhelmed into silence.

It's a rite of passage I never went through myself, not knowing if I was baptized or not, and certainly not interested in the teachings of the church. But I enjoy watching the kids I know make this first big decision in their life, and with the party, move officially into the realm of adulthood by sitting at the grown-up table.

May 7, 2007

Fine woman all fine again

In regards to Saturday's post about a certain work situation: Meetings today resolved it all. However, I have chosen to remove that part in Saturday's post and any comments relating to it. I would love to be able to talk about my job, etc., but I neither want to be dooced nor accidentally badmouth my company. I have been employed there for over half my life, I have just realized (wow!), and it is a very good employer. Case in point: My situation that got resolved swiftly and happily for all parties today, and I got kudos[1] for the way I handled it.

I am not sorry for my initial post. I was somewhat shocked about what had happened, and the feedback I got from my readers, as well as their (your) concern and advice, has helped make this situation easier for me. I am sorry your comments to Saturday's post had to go because of what was being commented on, but I hope you can feel me reaching out through cyberspace to give each of you a big, warm hug of gratitude.

[1]Did you know "kudos" is a singular Greek word? I always thought it was Japanese. What is Japanese, is "honcho". I always thought that was a Spanish word, like macho. Which, for a moment there, I thought was Italian. OK, I'm done.

May 5, 2007

Some thoughts on decision-making with fear

In a (pretty much political) discussion elsewhere in the wide world of electronic communication, I offered this "advice": Never let fear advise you when making decisions.

I got the reply that for that to happen, you need truthful information. My reply to that was that fear is fear, no matter what causes it.

Then I was asked about "never". I confirmed "never". Fear is destructive and, as the motivation behind decision-making, the exact opposite of love. Too many people make decisions because they are afraid of some consequence, rather than making a decision that will actually make them happy.

This led to my discussion partner stating that fear has its uses, such as in keeping you from getting hit by a car while crossing the street. To which I said that I have never avoided crossing streets on a red light out of fear. I have, however, not done that because I understand the physics of a mass of metal bearing down on me at 30 mph or so and the reaction time required by a driver to stop said vehicle upon discovering me. The only time I have been afraid is _while_ crossing a street because I misjudged a situation or a driver did.

I don't cross streets against traffic because I'm not suicidal or stupid. I don't eat poisonous plants for the same reason. Fear is not a part of the equation at all. I am not afraid of any poisonous plants. Some sit in pots in my home and get watered regularly.

The short answer would have been to say that fear is not the same as caution. Fear always gets my adrenalin pumping; caution doesn't.

***

Another person asked how do you stop fear?

My reply:

Fear-based thinking sees problems, enemies and lack at every corner. Subsets of fear include greed, envy, jealousy, pride, anger/aggression and more, so anytime you act on one of those, you're sabotaging yourself.

A lot of the above has to do with expectations from others, who are equally fear-driven in their decision-making. Like keeping up with the Joneses because you think that'll make people like you better (i.e. you're afraid of not being liked if you shop at Goodwill). Unfortunately, the motivation isn't always as clear as in the example. A lot of our behavior was learned when we were little and just became habit, a "given" for how the world's supposed to work, so keeping up with the Joneses could be compensation for parents who never paid you a compliment but seemed to admire money.

Love-based thinking sees solutions, safety and abundance, even when the outcome is unknown. Freedom, peace, joy, harmony, abundance, prosperity, creativity, etc., are subsets of love. Any decision made that is driven by love will benefit everyone, partly because it doesn't harm.

How does this work with whole nations? We don't know yet. Hasn't been done as a general rule, though there have been a number of instances where diplomacy got the chance to do what it's meant to do: keep the military idle. And sometimes people do try to do love-based things on a big scale, like creating the UN, or Live-Aid.

***

Fear is not necessarily something to eradicate in your life; after all, it can make you react quickly enough to a dangerous situation. But when it comes to non-life-threatening decsions - like jobs, marriage, education, eating - a lot of people do base their decision on fear: They are afraid they won't find a better job, or a better partner, or a job without a college education, or the funding for the college education so they don't get one, or that something in the barbecued spare ribs will kill them even they eat the spare ribs rarely, etc. In those situations, fear is useless; it is a distraction from true problem-solving and even fun.

A fine, unmarried woman fine enough to marry

Lately I've been getting what I consider an odd comment, but when I think about it, I think it's just how some men compliment a woman: A couple of men have expressed surprise at my unmarried status because I am a fine woman and ought to make someone a good wife.

The physical therapist I saw Monday asked me why a fine woman like me wasn't married. I had a stock answer (wanted to figure out how to make myself happy, rather than expect a man to do so) but later wondered why I even had to answer that question. I asked it of myself, and it occurred to me that there was an assumption that being married must be a desirable goal or state for everyone.

I got this assumption a second time at a company picnic last night, when I was again asked why a fine woman like me wasn't married. Why didn't I have a man? My expression led my questioner (whom I was dancing with at the time) to start sputtering and add, "Or a woman, uh, if, er, well..."

So why am I not married? Moving away from home when I was 25, into a place of my own, introduced me to a phenomenon I had never experienced at home before: Peace. No one to argue with, no one to get annoyed with, no one else's routines to be considerate of, no demands. It was the first time in my life that home was completely undemanding. That, and my parents' divorce leaving me with the very deep and strong desire to never go through something like that in my own marriage (one divorce is enough), has made me cautious about pairing up, as in living together. Perhaps I should have been a bit cavalier with my heart, but after years of loss and bullying, I had trust issues. So I worked on that and other issues without a mate, healing and growing at my pace, in my way. I honestly cannot see how I would have held a marriage (or a household) together happily during those years. I mean, I got rid of my anger only last year, and this year I'm finally learning to not let my disorganization sabotage my daily life.

Yes, some folks would say I might have gotten over some issues and anger, etc., sooner with a mate, but the fact is, neither they nor I can know that for sure. After all, I still have to answer to myself, be responsible for myself and my needs and wants, whether or not I'm with someone. As for the future, I am no longer at an age for starting a family, so that leaves twosomeness for its own sake, and I see no point in seeking it out just because "everybody else" does. There has to be a very good reason - a very wonderful person - to get me to give up my current, happy single life. Someone who won't pull me off my spiritual path, and my newfound desire for peace and simplicity. I am also an introvert, meaning I re-energize by spending time alone, so I can't be around other people all the time. The fit between me and somebody else is going to either give me my space and alone time, or energize me, or both. I haven't yet met a romantic interest that fits that bill.

May 2, 2007

And so it begins

I tell people I'm on a diet. Don't know why, really. I guess I just don't want to keep it secret. So now I have people telling me that I must be joking. They tell me I look great. Have I accidentally sabotaged myself?

While it is nice to get compliments, having been 120 pounds for 20 years since age 18, weighing more is unusual, and weighing way more even more so. I'm not really used to or comfortable with seeing rolls of fat on my belly (a feature that clothes camouflage and so I fool people). I had some leeway for a while, but no more. One book I read said that your optimal weight is what you weighed when you were finished growing/developing, plus or minus 10 per cent, which means over 20 pounds less than my current weight. Even my current goal of 10 pounds' loss, will leave me over my optimal weight, but hopefully those pounds will not be around my middle any more.