Friday, October 31, 2008

Love Rock Number One: Focus On What's Right

How important is this? It is vital to focus on what is right with our lives and to look at those things with gratitude. So, I gave away my first rock (video is 1:43):

Rock My World!

Kim Mailhot, the Queen of Arts, sent me ten rocks, to do with whatever I saw fit. Here and here is where she writes about the rocks. What a creative idea! A way of spreading love around...

So I made this short video (2:36) about the rocks. One thing I promise when you see it is that your hair will never looks worse than mine at the video's start...so you now need never feel like you need to look any special way in making a video. I've busted that myth forever. For-EVER!



For the next few days, I'm going to make little videos about what I do with the rocks. It should be an interesting journey.

One thing, already interesting, is that one of my rocks is a BE BRAVE rock. I don't know if Kim knew how much the BE BRAVE project means to me. Here is my BE BRAVE summary from the first season of BE BRAVE, and my first post from the second season of BE BRAVE. That second season has languished lately, and I've realized that I'd forgotten all about it. Not just the second season, but about being brave. I have indeed moved into survival...again. So this rock was a great reminder. When I saw the rock in the video, I "misread" it because I "mis-saw" it, thinking it said, "Be Here". I'm all for being here, for being present, but I also want to be brave. So guess who is going to get that rock?

Here is one of my favorite BE BRAVE posts, the Libby Sauter video, one I've watched again and again and again. If you haven't seen it...or even if you have, watch it now:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Nordic Ski Walking at 95

This is a picture of a woman named Agatha Nordic Walking at age 95 originally featured on the Nordic Walking Blog. That inspires me, for sure. I still Nordic Walk, it's just that my distances are limited by my foot problems. However, you'll find me on clear days going up and down, up and back, over and over again on my driveway.

I also wanted to mention (just for the sake of silliness) Japan's Banana Diet Craze. It is Wellness Wednesday. Let's have some fun!

LoveHubbie just got back from an out-of-town trip, so I've been taking care of pre-vacation things here by myself for the last two days. The whole two days of his trip went by, and I'm at a loss for what I did except for errands and things like getting my car fixed, sending off a departing employee, helping with some minor office problems, handling an insurance problem, doing some banking, handling some business on the phone with various doctors, getting my rings cleaned at the jeweler, etc. Stuff that you need to do but that you don't have a lot to show for at the end. Except for that nice feeling that stuff got done and the pile in your head of undone things is a bit smaller.

So this is one of those posts that you post when you really have nothing major to say, but you just want to stay in touch. And I thought Agatha was a great poster woman for wellness, too. Makes me feel like Nordic Walking is a life sport that I'll hopefully be able to continue until I'm 95 as well :) Happy Wellness Wednesday evening!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reading, Kindle, Book 2.0 and Ludic Reading


On Friday Oprah promoted the Amazon Kindle, her new favorite gadget, something she says has changed her life. One of the exciting things about this ebook reader from my perspective is that the type of screen and the ink used to display on the screen are actually easier on the eye than a real live book. And you can adjust the font size for your reading pleasure and perhaps read without reading glasses. In addition, before buying a book for the Kindle, you can read the first chapter for free, then decide. I'm pretty impressed! FYI, Oprah is offering $50 off the pretty steep $359 pricetag for 5 more days.

In addition, here is an article from Newsweek by Steven Levy called "The Future of Reading". It is in this article that I first read about what the author calls "Book 2.0"---what comes next after we evolve past printed books into the post-Gutenberg era. Right. When I first heard about this, I thought "Never!" and then I spent some time looking into it. Readers and writers, this is information you'll want to know. Here is a quote from the article:

"'The key feature of a book is that it disappears,' he [Jeff Bezos] says. While those who take fetishlike pleasure in physical books may resist the notion, that vanishing act is what makes electronic reading devices into viable competitors to the printed page: a subsuming connection to the author that is really the basis of our book passion. "I've actually asked myself, 'Why do I love these physical objects?' " says Bezos. " 'Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?' The answer is that I associate that smell with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas."

Long before there was cyberspace, books led us to a magical nether-zone. "Books are all the dreams we would most like to have, and like dreams they have the power to change consciousness," wrote Victor Nell in a 1988 tome called "Lost in a Book." Nell coined a name for that trancelike state that heavy readers enter when consuming books for pleasure—"ludic reading" (from the Latin ludo, meaning "I play"). Annie Proulx's claim was that an electronic device would never create that hypnotic state. But technologists are disproving that. Bill Hill, Microsoft's point person on e-reading, has delved deep into the mysteries of this lost zone, in an epic quest to best emulate the conditions on a computer. He attempted to frame a "General Theory of Readability," which would demystify the mysteries of ludic reading and why books could uniquely draw you into a rabbit hole of absorption."---Steven Levy in "The Future of Reading"

I'm going to leave you hanging---it's a great article, so please read the rest if you are interested. If you do, you might be as excited as I am about going "down the rabbit hole"! It's mind-blowing...

A very informative video about reading, the future of publishing, and the Kindle can be found here. Page down to "Hear Jeff Bezos, Bestselling Authors, Charlie Rose, and Martha Stewart discuss Kindle" and click on "Hear journalist Charlie Rose talk to Jeff Bezos about Kindle on the Charlie Rose show" to the right of the video. The conversation of Charlie and Jeff will be interesting to all readers, ebook or non. They discuss "improving" on "the book". Wow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Recreating Eden

Today I had a very special Sacred Life Sunday reading Rick's wife's book Recreating Eden. I was a bit nervous about reviewing it, since Rick and I are friends...but knowing how he appreciates honesty, I went ahead with it anyway. Fortunately it was a fantastic experience. Rick's wife is Julia Rogers Hamrick, and Recreating Eden is a truly amazing book. As a former life coach interested in spirituality, I've read a lot of self-help books, personal growth and transformation books, and books about all types of spirituality. Recreating Eden is a keeper---and unique in the genre.

The experience of reading the book is itself an "upper". Positive energy emanates from it. Really. Really! As I read it I just felt GOOD. I spent the last two days reading it and am left with a feeling of limitlessness and bliss. The last time this happened for me was when I read Ram Dass' "Remember, Be Here Now" in the late 70's. Wow. Who else remembers that one? Come on, 'fess up.

So then I reviewed Julia's book for Amazon and joined the crowd of rave reviewers there.

You know how there is a perfect time for each book you read? Well, this was the perfect time in my life for this one.

If you'd like, read my review here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

For Writer Bloggers

This article by Andrew Sullivan is provocative---it's about blogging as an emerging literary form---and will be of interest to those of you who are writers. It's rather lengthy, but worth the time.

When I have something like this, something that requires time or thought (like Chani's posts), I enjoy printing them out and reading them in a quiet place when I have time...or even sticking them in my purse in case I get caught with unexpected waiting somewhere.

Enjoy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

19



Amazon has changed its reviewer ranking system. Their new system is based upon the overall helpfulness of your reviews, and removes some of the quirks of their past system. People apparently would do all kinds of things to beat the system and pad their votes---things like opening new Amazon accounts just to vote for their own reviews and forming groups for reviewing---now all of this is eliminated in computing the new ranks.



I've been reviewing for Amazon for over 11 years, and have over 1300 reviews; previously my rank was in the top 500, which allowed me to get lots of free things from Amazon, including advance copies of books, lots of free published books, free merchandise like my video camera I use for videos here, a whole year of Seventh Generation's incredible laundry detergent, lots of teas, and more. All the free stuff only started when I cracked the top 500 though...which took about 10 years. Before that, and now, I did it just for the fun of sharing my opinions on various products and books with people who were trying to make buying decisions.

So today, my rank jumped from 313 under the old "classic" system to #19 (which is my favorite number). It is also the day of mine and LoveHubbie's birthday. And under the new system, Amazon keeps track of "fan voters", who are "people who consistently appreciate the author's reviews"---and I have exactly 19 of these. Hmmm...



I'm still in a bit of shock about my jump in the ratings. I guess it will mean more free stuff...and thus, more fun for me!



In the scheme of life, this means very little, of course, but for me it's something to remind me that things can change very quickly in our lives---in all areas---the BIG areas too---very quickly. Someone changes the rules, things shift...and sometimes for the better.

I am keenly aware of the fragility and downside of life, of how things can be going great and then whammo---surprise---you're kicked in the gut---but I'm used to having to work very, very hard for good things. So today I was just thinking that I want to be even more open to good gifts coming from unexpected places. Just in general. To be looking around every corner for nice things to happen.

First I win some love rocks, and now this. Two days in a row. I'm on a roll.

~Photos that are not screen shots were taken at Amazon in Seattle by LoveHubbie Mark

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Won Some Rocks from the Queen of Arts!


I, who (until today) have never won anything online, have won some rocks from Kim Mailhot, whose blog is Queen of Arts. So it was my lucky day! The picture above is of her creations, including some of her bamboo tile necklaces. For a "Rocking Tutorial" on how to make the painted rocks, please see Kim's post here. You probably have most of the supplies already. And it's fun to pick out the rocks. I am also going to experiment with this technique.

Especially interesting is how Kim uses the rocks in her "Rock My World" love campaign. Read about it here.

Anyway, thank you Kim, and I'll let you all know when I get my rocks and what I do with them :)

~Photo from Kim Mailhot via her blog Queen of Arts

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Simplicity, Simple Things

Today has been such a simple, lovely day so far. I have really enjoyed almost basking in the simplicity. So here is a video about my day. I should add a caveat that I noticed as I was editing it that I put my artwork (and occasionally myself) down fairly frequently, so this was a good reminder to me not to do that---either in my head or out loud---but to encourage myself more... Even so, I wanted to share it with you as it enables you to join me in my happy---yes, happy (really)---day!

The video is 8:19 long:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Perfect Consumers...Are We Free?

Today I wanted to share another quote from Kathleen Norris' new book "Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life". I'd promised I'd do this back about three weeks ago. This quote is timely in our current economic crisis, and before the election as well.



"Modern conveniences might save people from tedious labor, but they could do nothing to assuage the sense of being in a precarious position in a rapidly changing world. Instead of feeling carefree, many people felt burdened with more and more "necessities," until they were less able to distinguish between needs and wants, between self-indulgence and self-respect. They became, in short, perfect consumers.

Our politicians are fond of telling us we live in a "free country." But they less often invite us to consider what our freedom consists of and what it is for. In asking those questions we touch on a great dissonance in American culture. In her essay "Keeping the Sabbath," Dorothy Bass observes that
"in Deuteronomy the commandment to 'observe the Sabbath day' is tied to the experience of a people newly released from bondage. Slaves cannot take a day off; free people can."

In that light, how many in the world are free? The poor can't risk losing a day of fishing or farming or factory work. The sweatshop manager doesn't provide time off for illness or leisure. And the rich are reluctant to put the brakes on a society that offers such great rewards for greed, ambition, and workaholic habits that erode the spirit." ---Kathleen Norris from "Acedia & Me", pp.122-123 [Emphasis added by me.]


Just something to think about. How free are we, really? I know that relative to other countries we certainly are in many ways (we are SO free!), but not in others (how can you be really free if you can't afford health care for your children? or when you are a slave to your work and you don't even realize it!?!?!). What do you think?

I'm off for the rest of the day to get my teeth cleaned and then hire a new receptionist for LoveHubbie. Tonight I've promised myself I'm going to have blow-out wild and crazy fun. For me, that means reading fiction :) I'm been abstinent for way too long.

I'd like to get some discussion going here as well, too. So...what do you think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Making A Difference


I wanted to share with everyone an opportunity to make a difference that I found out about from yertle. Part of being healthy is contributing to others' lives, and though I know we all do this in various ways, this way in particular was especially rewarding to me today.

The opportunity is called DonorsChoose.org and the way it works is that public school teachers put requests into the database for certain supplies, or trips, or visitors, or basically any materials or whatever that they think their students really need, but that they cannot afford. You can review all of the projects and search based on many different criteria. Then you give any amount of money, whatever you can afford, towards a project that appeals to you.

So tonight LoveHubbie and I donated to a school in rural West Virginia that desperately needed dictionaries. Desperately. They had been waiting since May and received nothing until tonight. The requesting teacher was a previous student who had gone to college and come back to teach at the same public school she had attended. This really impressed me. I was so happy! I could just imagine how excited everyone would be, getting something so incidental for a well-funded school---some dictionaries---but actually very huge for their little school. They were all sharing several worn out paperback dictionaries that were 7 years old, falling apart, and actually had chunks missing so that the students never knew if they would be able to look up the words they wanted.

I would have been happy just for the thrill of donating, but the students then send thank you notes. This really is a brilliant idea. Everyone wins.

You can even buy gift cards for a specific amount of money and then give the card to someone who can then pick out which project they wish to donate to. How cool is that?

Check it out, it's such a positive and creative way to help young people!

~Photo via Cute Overload

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today, Think of Love

I saw this picture on Cute Overload and wanted it on my blog. It made me smile and thought it would do the same for you:



~Photo from Mike B. at Memphis Online via CuteOverload

Where Have I Been?... Lost.



I've missed Sacred Sundays and Wellness Wednesdays and all of the days in between. Where have I been? Right here. Lost in emergencies and problems and taking care of the next urgent thing, as I wrote to Jane, who is losing herself in the same way. It's so easy to do.

For me, when every day is scheduled to the max, and there are no breaks, and days are filled with energy-draining interactions with people, and you decided to stop drinking to support your husband, and you are running... running... running.... you can get lost. Like Jane. Like Nina (wow, she captures this so exquisitely). Like me.

Today is the first day out of many that I've had nothing scheduled and that I've had a chance to stop and think, start to get caught up on blogging, and just be myself. As an introvert, I get recharged from being alone, and at last I have a chance to recharge my batteries. I still feel like I have nothing to say, like I'm an empty well, but I wanted to reconnect and to say...something. To have something here rather than silence.



Lately LoveHubbie has been having a difficult time. Lots of problems and issues and troubles. So our home has been Drama Central. My challenge has been to support him with love while at the same time not be derailed by what he is going through, since they are his issues, not mine. We handle things very differently, and it does me no good to get overly involved and upset to the point where I cannot be supportive or take care of my own life. I am also challenged by rising to respecting his values and approaches to life when they are not congruent with my way of being in the world.

So I find myself at the end of the day, or even through the day...lost...just surviving...wanting to recharge...and now finally, finally, finally---getting that chance.



~Photo of Buddha by LoveHubbie Mark

Friday, October 3, 2008

Think



"Would you rather be right about being powerless or wrong about your ability to be great?"---Unknown

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sin and Forgiveness

Today, and on a few subsequent days, I want to share some interesting quotes from the book that I blogged about a few days ago---Kathleen Norris' new book "Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life". Here is today's quote:
"...to dismiss sin as negative is to demonstrate a failure of imagination. As the writer Garret Keizer asserts in Help: The Original Human Dilemma: "Everyone believes in sin, the people who charge their peers with political incorrectness and the people who regard political correctness as the bogey of a little mind." He adds, "What everyone does not believe in, as nearly as I can tell, is forgiveness." It requires creativity to recognize our faults, and to discern vitures in those we would rather disdain. Forgiveness demands close attention, flexibility, and strigent self-assessment, faculties that are hard to come by as we career blindly into the twenty-first centruy, and are increasingly asked to choose information over knowledge, theory over experience, and certainty over ambiguity."

I'd like to write something more about this, but I'm still pondering. I just have vague impressions, pretty unformed. Impressions about the so-called old-fashioned, definitely politically incorrect, absolutely intolerant concept of "sin" (that's what enlightened folk in our culture believe, of course), and about the in vogue and politically correct but little practiced concept of "forgiveness".

If I say I believe in sin, everyone assumes lots of things about me, right? If I say I believe in forgiveness, everyone assumes lots of other things about me... [and I'm referring to our mainstream Western culture here].

Except sometimes, when it's not okay to believe in forgiveness...as in with abusive or philandering husbands, or with child molesters, leaders of countries, potential leaders of countries, terrorists...then it's okay to hate.

I'm not sure what else to say, but I like thinking about it. I hope you will, too, and share your thoughts with comments.



~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Wellness Wednesday: I Am Enough

Kelley's poem from yesterday, and then her post today reminded me of a post I'd done a while ago and something I really, really needed to remember. She writes:
"The truth is I AM enough - we are ALL enough, Divinity lives within each of us, and we don’t even have to look that hard for it, we just have to get quiet, really listen to our hearts and trust in even the faintest whispers of our dreams. We just have to let go of the assumptions and judgements we make about ourselves and the world around us. We just have to open the flood gates, even a tiny little bit, and Divinity will come rushing out for all to see."---Kelley from Dragonfly Reflections


Yes! Yes! Yes!



~ This is a beautiful painting I purchased a while ago by an unknown artist (I can't read her/his name in the signature). It is a poem called "I Am Enough".

UPDATE: I found out who created this: the artist's name is Kristen Jongen and her web site is Soul Soup! Her art work is wonderful and so are her books, so glad to finally "find" her!