Monday, December 22, 2008

Blessings for Sacred Holidays and 2009

Grandkids hamming it up! That's even sweeter than the gingerbread house on which they just put the finishing touches. May all beings be well. May all beings be happy.

To see a scene of beautiful Ashland, glorious in lights for the season, visit my last year's post found here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This Story Has a Happy Ending

Several years ago a squirrel, or more likely a blue jay, buried an acorn in the middle of our back yard. Sam saw that it had sprouted and put a little fence of sticks around it to alert me to leave it be. Before I understood the magnitude of what was happening, I acquiesced. It was little. "Oaks grow very slowly," I told myself. I should have put my foot down right then, on top of that treelet.

Fast forward to August 2008. That tree is pretty darn big. It is shading what we would like to call our vegetable garden. More importantly to me, it is blocking the sky. Now I do put my foot down. The tree must go. Sam sadly sees my point. I'm sad too, because the tree means so much to him. We had recently done some research and decided it was a California black oak. Now it had an identity and birds regularly sit on it's branches. Still, I wanted it out of there. Obviously I have a ruthless side.

We called ArborTech (Ben) to look at another tree that might need thinning (think vegetables). I mentioned that we also wanted to take down this adolescent black oak. Without hesitation, Ben said, "We can move it." I could hardly believe it, but he assured me that a friend of his was about to pay a nursery $350 for a tree that size. "I'm sure he'll be glad to have this one for free." That's how we met Barrett and his friend. The story unfolds below. It took these hardy young men most of the day. They smiled a lot, letting me know that they had not outgrown playing in the dirt and doing the next to impossible, moving a very big tree to it's new home on Faith St.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Art of Tree Re-location

Sam has visitation rights whenever he wants.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes! Yes! Yes We Can!

Cincinnati, Ohio, November 2, Barack Obama again told the American people what he believes.

We don't need to keep talking about big government versus small government. That's old thinking. We need smart government...We don't need money or reform for education. We need both.... We aren't red states and blue states, we're the United States.

Obama is a Both/And President! I'm awed and grateful that he will lead us for the next eight years. As I've sweated and fretted out the days before we actually crossed the finish line, I've listened to American Prayer by Dave Stewart dozens of times and made the SoulCollage card pictured here.

American Prayer ends with words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about reaching the Promised Land followed by this refrain:

When you get to the top of the mountain
Will you tell me what you see
If you get to the top of the mountain
Remember me

My personal American prayer is that we continue the work started by courageous men and women before us, the work of choosing to create a country where love is more powerful than fear.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"This is the most important election of my life. I'm on a limited budget. I couldn't afford to keep contributing money, so I volunteer my time."

That was Maria's answer when I asked what had prompted her, at 80 years old, to coordinate office volunteers at Barack Obama's headquarters in Medford, Oregon. It's a small office in a small state (seven electoral votes). I've worked four hours a week over the past month and a half. Maria, along with her dog Jessie, has been here for 5-6 days a week since the office opened. I've seen her in this office doing everything from training new volunteers to entering data (see photo above) to sharpening pencils. Today she even brought in homemade snacks for staff and volunteers.

Dr. Bill Thomas asks (by way of his book title)
What Are Old People For? Maria models a terrific answer to that question. Elders offer expertise, gained over a life time, when something really important needs to be accomplished. We provide leadership or raise money or answer the phone (my job this afternoon) if that will pave the way for positive change. A lot has been said in this election about the importance of the young voters. That’s cool. Young, old, 30 somethings, midlife. This year people of all ages get it. In a democracy our role matters. Voters, volunteers take a bow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008


About a week ago I realized that if Obama lost this election and I had done nothing more than make a few donations, I would not be able to live with myself. I find it hard to go to people's doors uninvited, but last night I started talking to voters in my neighborhood and tomorrow I'm working on the desk at Obama headquarters in Medford, Oregon. I don't suggest this is the answer for everyone, but I could feel that it was something I must do.

A second thing I realized is that I need to work to change the feelings of fear and hatred regarding people who think/feel differently from me. In my case this would be Republicans. Doing that is harder, for me, than knocking on doors. It's a challenge to put the anger I feel over the Iraq invasion, etc., into a form more useful than blame. I have the sense that "feuding" somehow feeds our collective spiral downward, but it is a constant struggle not to give way to invective, name calling, and simple wailing. Well, the wailing is probably okay. It’s not a projection. It’s sorrow. Sorrow over loss of freedoms, loss of lives, loss of world stature is warranted. It’s the way we remain human when faced with monumental loss.

On This American Life recently there is an interview with a young man who returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with PTSD and much fear and hatred of all things Muslim. What did he do? He joined a Muslim student group at his community college. It is a terrific interview. It’s called The Devil In Me. You can find it here.

This veteran was able to deal with his feelings and beliefs only after the heat of battle. I currently am in that battle for the election of the next president. So off I go to score points for Obama, with good will to all as often as I am able. Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Are You a Renaissance Soul?

Are you a Renaissance Soul? According to Margaret Lobenstine you are if you have too many passions to pick just one. I imagine blog readers to be a bit like me, flitting from blog to blog, drinking deeply or just sipping from lots of different sources. And if you are a Renaissance Soul AND a perfectionist, Lobenstine has a great antidote. She suggests you perfect perfectionism by scoring your level of perfection for different projects. Here is an example from my own life. I am willing to weed around the giant sunflowers in my backyard at 50% perfection. I will tackle clearing our our car port at 75%. Maybe 10% for clearing my mind of all thought during meditation (some mornings it could just be .01% perfection! LOL).

My daughter, son-in-law, two adored grandchildren plus son and daughter-in-law are arriving this afternoon. I was surprised to find that, along with my excitement and anticipation, I felt a vague fatigue. Since I had no physical reason to be tired, I decided to do a self-guided Focusing session to see more about that. By listening more deeply to myself I discovered this: I could enjoy their visit 100% IF I would just do the hostessing at 25% perfection. Plus, I'd feel more present with them if I finished and published this post. Energy back on line. Blog post underway. Anticipation flowing.

Would you like to learn Focusing? For a limited time, I am offering one free session per week as part of my training to be a Certified Focusing Professional. Contact me from this site.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Life is pretty darn good

Here is Sam, off on his his radiation treatment! What a guy! He bikes most days to Rogue Valley Medical Center, a 30 mile commute round trip. Fortunately the weather has been just beautiful since he began treatment four weeks ago. I wrote about my worry over all this in an earlier post. Things haven't been perfect, for sure, but he's half finished and still biking.

Plus, I saw something really dear on my walk through Lithia park this morning: a doe with two fawns nursing!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I'm glad I finally cleaned out my IN basket. I found this at the very bottom. It's a portrait done a few months ago by my granddaugher, Evelyn.

BTW I just found out that moi means beautiful in Dutch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Boogie Time

In my last post I mentioned NIA, the dance form I practice. The photo at left is a SoulCollage card honoring my NIA teacher, Rachael Resch. Rachael is off to Portland, Oregon, this week to get her NIA Black Belt! This is the culmination of several years of study and practice, through White Belt, Blue Belt and Brown Belt training. Rachael is an awesome teacher. I can hardly imagine her getting any better, but I'm also sure we'll see some new moves and expanded attitude as a result of her week with Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas, two amazing innovators.

I have decided to do (daily) a NIA 7 minute fitness and healing practice which Rachael introduced this past month. I spend one minute of rest and then one minute in each of the developmental stages (embryonic, creeping, crawling, standing, and walking) then one minute getting up and down off the floor and then one minute laughing ! Well, I see that is 8 minutes if you count resting. Whatever! It's interesting, easy, strengthening, and repatterns some of what we missed as young'uns. You can learn more about each of these stages on Rachael's blog (also link in sidebar) and hear about her training as she goes through her week of Black Belt.

To see more SoulCollage cards visit SoulCollage talkabout (my other blog) To experience SoulCollage on the web visit Kaleidosoul, Anne Marie Bennet's extensive site.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lift Off!

As I headed down 505 from Berkeley, California, toward home (Ashland, Oregon) I was pondering whether to stop in Winters, CA, for scrambled eggs. Then I saw the hot air balloons - two of them getting ready for flight. Definitely a sign. I pulled off, took several photos, and found a homey local breakfast spot. The coffee was good. I took a deep breath. The evening before I'd made a huge decision. I am entering the Certified Focusing Professional training, a program that's a bit of a stretch. I know from experience that stretching is helpful for all kinds of tight places, financial, physical, and intellectual. Fortunately I have my Nia dance classes to make it lively.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

More About BOTH/AND

In last week's post I was gushing about BOTH/AND. I was so energized after the Treasure Maps retreat I came home and started photographing women for a new website, Gorgeous Grey Hair. I offered to guide several friends in Focusing sessions. I added a coaching client, and I agreed to write an article for a SoulCollage newsletter. Sort of BOTH/AND/AND/AND. As I was beginning to recognize that I might have taken the concept over the top (the tip-off being intermittent waves of panic) I got a great newsletter from Jude Spacks regarding limitation. Here's an excerpt:

"Limitation doesn't always sound like good news. But in the I Ching Book of Changes, the world's oldest advice column, Hexagram 60, Limitation, augers success.

'As a lake exists by containing only a limited amount of the infinite quantity of water, a person is defined by the choices they make based on integrity. Without the structure provided by limits, creative choice would dissolve into boundless, formless mush. But too much limitation makes for the rigid control that provokes resistance and rebellion; so it is necessary to set limits even upon limitation.' (Wilheim/Baynes translation of I Ching Book of Changes)."

(Jude offers some savvy interpretations and a cool oracle for you to try. This newsletter will be up only this month. Sign up immediately at )

Ok, limitation lives. BOTH/AND doesn't mean that you can have 145 items on your ToDo List and over-fill your calendar without agony. My mistake. So what does it mean? I really had to think about this. I've decided BOTH/AND is more like a place, a mysterious and magical land where Creativity Rules. There are lots of ways to get there. I personally like SoulCollage and Focusing, but journaling, art, chanting, praying, daydreaming, running, laughing, dancing all work well. Even a stroll through the park or three conscious breaths can bring you into BOTH/AND territory. It's a trip worth taking.

PS: Many thanks to Rain for sending me a photo for the new website Gorgeous Grey Hair. I'd love more photos from you gorgeous grey (gray), white, salt andpepper sisters. Help me reach 100 photos. sharryt at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

BFF* - No Need to Choose Just One

Friends are very important to me. Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Typology test? If so, you may have been frustrated by the forced choice of some of the questions. One question really annoyed me: Would you rather have a FEW DEEP friendships or MANY SHALLOW friendships. I always wanted to answer, "I would rather have MANY DEEP friendships!" But the test didn't allow that answer, so it seemed life didn't either. Recently I attended Treasure Maps to the Soul, a retreat which artfully challenged that limited belief.

Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin teach Inner Relationship Focusing and have developed Treasure Maps to work with places in our lives where we tend to feel stuck - old patterns that have not given way despite therapy, affirmations, fire walking, or church. It was a fascinating week over-all, but one concept in particular grabbed me. Barbara and Ann claim we live in a BOTH/AND world. We can have our cake and eat it too.

Driving home from Calistoga to Ashland, I mused about that idea of BOTH/AND and remembered the "few deep" vs "many shallow" friendship question. As I drove the curving road leading out of the Napa Valley I realized that I had, indeed, created a life in which I have many deep friendships. In my case it happens that a lot of these friends live elsewhere. We don't have regular quality time. In some cases we only get together every few years, but each visit is extremely meaningful. In this important area of my life I have, indeed, been able to have my cake and eat it too. Yum.

(Could it be that we rarely, maybe never, have to choose between things that really matter to us? If your life sometimes feels like important needs are being overlooked, abandoned, or buried, you might want to consider Focusing.)

The picture with this post is a SoulCollage card honoring Ann and Barbara. More SoulCollage cards at SoulCollage Talkabout.

* Best Friend Forever

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Human Cost of War

As I drove to town this morning I was stunned to see a display of white and red flags completely covering the lawns of Southern Oregon University. They stretched out for blocks! A small sign said Iraq War Memorial.

I stopped and talked with some folks at a table on one of the lawns. The exhibit is traveling throughout the country to demonstrate, visually, the cost in lives in Iraq since 2003. Each red flag stands for 5 American deaths. Each white flag stands for at least 5 Iraqi civilian deaths due to the conflict.
The project is called the Iraq Body Count Exhibit. I plan to come over on Saturday to help take down flags. They will then travel to Sacramento where they need 100 volunteers to place flags in front of the California State Capitol for Memorial Day.

Big numbers like 86,000 sort of skid off my brain, but seeing the flags, rows and rows and rows and rows is just heartbreaking.

To learn more about this exhibit or make a donation to help keep it moving, visit

Edit: After I wrote this post I found the brochure from the Iraq Body Count Exhibit. They have the number of Iraqi deaths at 655,000 and American deaths 4050. The figure of 86,000 above came from a different site (also informative) They have, obviously, used different sources for determining the number of Iraqi civilian deaths. Whatever the number, it's too many.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Whole Foods - Ashland Style

Like fafner, I am doing my best to make friends with vegetables. I'm planting lettuce and sugar peas along the path to our front door. As soon as I finish writing this post, I'm heading to the kitchen to roast a cauliflower I purchased from Josh and Melissa of Barking Moon Farm. Our local Grower's Market has a number of booths and CSA's similar to theirs. We are blessed here in the Rogue Valley.

Over the past year I've read thousands of words regarding diet and healthy eating. So controversial! Fats, yes or no? Meat, yes or no? Grains, yes or no? But there is some agreement, best summed up by Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. He says, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." And, I would add, the occasional brownie or lemon bar.

I thought it was so sweet of Lydia (comment in last post) to wonder if I was having too much fun to post or was in too much pain. I didn't quite realize that when Spring blew in, blogging would become something I should do rather than something I love doing. I'm not keeping up reading my favorite blogs (see blog roll for some great suggestions) and even find myself skipping The Elder Storyteller's Place to head outdoors. But I'll be posting irradically. If you want to catch the occasional blurb, you can subscribe for e-mail updates. The form is in the sidebar.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Big News at the Bottom of This Post

I do get it about memes. I get tagged and I tag 5 more. It’s a great way to network. However, I don't like tagging others. Call me churlish (or shy). I recently was tagged for two memes. The first came from Mismell. Her answers are here. Read mine below.

4 places I’ve been:
Paris (Yes!)
North Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Kerens, Texas (home of mygrandparents)
The Big Island, Hawaii

4 jobs I’ve had:
Mother (covers a wide territory of duties: job description would take a page) Present activity mostly includes listening and trusting.
High School teacher/counselor (23 years)
Creative movement for kids (a few session s, years and years ago--lots of fun!)
SoulCollage Facilitator (current)

4 shows I tivo:
Zip. Television is barely on my radar.

4 favorite foods:
Brownies, fudgey is best.
Lemon bars with ginger made by Lauri
Apple crisp made by my daughter, Sally.
My mom's peach ice cream.

I was also tagged by Alice, of My Wintersong, to write a 6 word memoir. Easy. It's the tagline to my blog: Sharry’s my name - Connection’s my game
Note: change in tagline May 26, 2008.

Alice’s memoir is here. It was fun to answer these. If you'd like to play, consider yourself tagged!

Here's the BIG NEWS:
I got a lovely e-mail from Emily Lunday Garrett. The story of my contacting her is here. She appreciated hearing from me after so long. Her health is shaky, but her spirit is standing tall and strong. It was a joy to make that connection. I feel blessed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Body Says "Quiet"

I arrived home from the Embodied Life retreat with a very sharp pain in my mid-back. It turns out some ribs had gone awry. I've spent the last two weeks mostly lying on my back and breathing consciously. Sort of like meditating all day, interspersed with naps. Apparently something in me was not ready to return to hecticity.

While at Santa Sabina I discovered a poem that delighted me. It’s from a book of poems by Kenneth Koch called New Addresses. The poem is To My Twenties.

To My Twenties

How lucky I ran into you
When everything was possible
For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart
And so happy to see any woman—
O woman! O my twentieth year!
Basking in you, you
Oasis from both growing and decay
Fantastic unheard of nine-or ten-year oasis
A palm tree, hey! And then another
And another—and water!
I’m still very impressed by you. Whither,
Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,
Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable
For the moment in any case, do you live now?
From my window I drop a nickel
By mistake. With
You I race down to get it
But I find there on
The street instead, a good friend,
X_____N_____, who says to me
Kenneth do you have a minute?
And I say yes! I am in my twenties!
I have plenty of time! In you I marry,
In you I first go to France; I make my best friends
In you, and a few enemies. I
Write a lot and am living all the time
And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you
After my teens and before my thirties.
You three together in a bar
I always preferred you because you were midmost
Most lustrous apparently strongest
Although now that I look back on you
What part have you played?
You never, ever, were stingy.
What you gave me you gave whole
But as for telling
Me how best to use it
You weren’t a genius at that.
Twenties, my soul
Is yours for the asking
You know that, if you ever come back.

Yes, each decade has its own charm, doesn’t it? Maybe even its own personality. My own twenties didn’t have nearly so many exclamation marks. I was married and raising two kids! (Wait, there’s an exclamation mark right there!)

I'm still pondering why this poem grabbed me as it did. Something about that twenty year old, that thirty year old, that (you get the idea) past me still operating in the present me. Plus wondering what I'd say to my twenties. Could we finally just sit down and talk?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

This Pandora's Box Has Nothing But Gifts

I should be packing. I"m Traveling tomorrow with my friend Sheila to beautiful Santa Sabina for the second installment of the Embodied Life Mentorship Program. Lucky me!

However I can’t drag myself away from my computer because I’ve just discovered a great place to play. Pandora! Have you been there yet? An Internet radio station that plays your kind of music. I can safely make that bold statement because, whatever your likes in music, you’ll find it at Pandora. It’s soooo interactive. That’s why I’m hooked, of course.

It is the outgrowth of the Music Genome Project. This from their website:

Each song in the Music Genome Project is analyzed using up to 400 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst. These attributes capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also the many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of listeners. The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome's rigorous and precise methodology....

I haven’t had time to explore fully, but the short story is that you choose a favorite song or artist, and Pandora (which means “all gifted” in Greek) plays a similar song or a selection by the artist. They give you a quick explanation of the musical components of your choice and then proceed to choose other songs based on your original selection. Right now I’m listening to Jennifer Berezan’s Returning. And, while I put my clothes into the suitcase, I'll be gifted by Pandora with more of that same vibe. They even give you the rundown on what that vibe is. For example: Fado, by Clannad, has folk roots, new age influence, a subtle use of vocal harmony, etc.

When I've had enough beautiful, mellow, folk-like harmonies, I'll go back and plug in Born to Run.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Wendy at COPD-Caregiving Is NOT For Wimps! tagged me for a meme. That means I'm suposed to answer some questions about myself.

If you could do anything you want to, what would it be?
If you could paint the (whole) world one color what would it be?
Would you rather be an animal or a person?
If you said animal, which one?
Add your own question.

1. If I could do anything I wanted, I would effectively persuade the United States Government to stop all torture of prisoners and refuse to participate in extradition. Mother Jones showed up in my mailbox today, the whole issue on torture by the USA. I hang my head in sadness over our conduct.

2. I'd paint the world the color of sunlight. Except at night.

3. I'd rather be a person. A person who knows she is an animal and treats her body accordingly. This morning I was thinking my body would probably like to be taken out for a walk, every day.

4. If I were to be an animal, I'd like to be Luna, my cat. Just for a few days. Then I could return to myself and understand her better. You know, like in those movies where the moms and daughters switch roles.

5. My question: If you could give someone a single book, excluding religious texts, to help them with their life, what would it be? A few years back I gave both my kids a book called A Life of One's Own by Joanna Field. I don't believe either of them has read it.

Edit: Wendy commented with the reminder that I was supposed to tag 5 others as part of this meme. OK. OK. (for some reason I feel a bit shy about doing it) I tag Fran at Sacred Ordinary, Cheryl of Art In Everyday, Marianne at Busha Full of Grace, Elaine at Miss Elaine-ous Life, and Taru at Powerful Aging. These are all wonderful women with diverse styles. Check them out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love Is In the Air

Today is our Anniversary! Sam and I got engaged 11 years ago. We got married 3 years ago. This SoulCollage card can't begin to capture his quirky personality, but it does show his big loves: spirituality, biking, music, photography, and Luna (our cat). To those loves I better add myself, his kids, his sister and brother, my family, his ex-wife, all our friends, the biking buddies, cats and dogs, trees. He does catch and release for spiders and winces when I cut flowers. He's got a huge heart.

Hugs and kisses, Sam. And hugs and kisses to all you friends and family that make our life rich with support and friendship.

Happy Valentine's Day to all readers of this blog. May love flow in your life today and every day.


Sunday, February 3, 2008


I got a phone call today. It was Jim LeCroy, a fellow graduate of Arlington Heights High School, class of 1959. He had news for me. Good news. Long story short: he had found out the whereabouts of Emily Lunday, my former journalism teacher. I wrote recently on my other blog, SoulCollage talkabout, about what Mrs. Lunday meant to me. What I didn’t say was that I was making a very serious effort to find her.

Of course I started with Google. Nothing. I called the Fort Worth (Texas) school district; they couldn’t tell me anything without a social security number. I joined Net Detective (a complete bust - they don't even have me). I knew my best hope was former students of hers; she was really a wonderful mentor. So I began asking the few folks I still knew in Fort Worth. My friend, Kaye D. Thornton, had worked under her and was good at keeping up with people. Kaye put me in touch with Jim who recently had dinner with Bill Adams who was also looking for Mrs. Lunday and had some information. Her name is now Emily Lunday Garrett. With that name, Google came through. Ms. Garrett was honored (in 2004) for starting Women in New Roles at Tarrant County College back in 1978. Bill even had an address for her.

Emily Lunday Garrett probably doesn’t remember me. Forty-nine years is a long time. But not too long to say, “I remember you. You really made a difference in my life. Thank you."

That letter is in the mail!

Edit: To see a follow-up of this post see post March 30, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

You Don't Have to be Good at This

Meditation, that is. That’s what my teacher, Russell Delman, says. “You don’t have to be good at this. At a deep level meditation is already here.”

I sit in meditation almost every day. Usually just before daylight. Twenty minutes sitting, ten minutes walking, five minutes sitting. It’s a mini version of what we do during the Embodied Life retreats. Sometimes I start reading e-mail and then a few blogs and then make some comments on those blogs and then Sam gets up and I sit for ten minutes or not at all. Consistency is more important than a marathon once a week, but there are really no rules. Today I noticed I was thinking about what to say in this post. But my breath was still there and, eventually, I remembered. The breath is really dependable.

I used to feel like sitting meditation was a digression from my real life: reading, fixing breakfast, walking to the gym, checking the movie reviews, etc. Recently I’m beginning to recognize that sitting and noticing my breath are also real life. Perhaps even more real because I know I’m doing it. That’s called “mindfulness” and after years of sporadic practice, I’m beginning to notice when I’m noticing. Not much to brag about, but I’m satisfied.

I revere Russell. He is a kind and astute teacher. Wise and funny. The SoulCollage card pictured is made to honor him and his teaching. His CD’s offer both guided meditation and Feldenkrais movement instruction.

Another site I recommend is Life is Round – a visual delight. They feature mediation instruction that reflects the idea: the media is the message.

To see a fab SoulCollage card made by my friend Leslie visit SoulCollage talkabout.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Woe Is Me

This is the kind of blog post I vowed never to write. A list of woes is quite uninteresting for folks who have their own troubles thank you very much. So why am I doing it anyway? Because it’s the truth of the moment. Sometimes I forget I am (according to all the spiritual traditions that make sense to me) much bigger than this little, isolated, finite self. This week I’ve felt small. I’ll bullet the complaint list so one may skim.

  • I have a cold and my head feels like it's full of, well, what it is full of.

  • the Democratic primary contenders are bad mouthing each other

  • the Asian market are dropping now too!
  • I'm reading about people losing their homes and losing their jobs and moving in with their parents, guys in their 40's and 50's

  • it's cold out (duh!)

  • the usual violence is occurring hither and yon

  • Sam, my beloved, is scheduled for radiation on his prostate tumor sometime very soon

I'm sure it's the last that is contributing the most to my heart-heavy outlook. I belong to an e-mail list of prostate warriors. Last week two reports came in from men who had very serious symptoms from their radiation series. Statistically this likelyhood is low, but hearing actual stories is haunting. I worried a lot before Sam began his ADT (androgen deprivation therapy). If you don't count the high blood pressure that has resulted, he has weathered his "therapy" pretty well. His attitude and mood have remained up-beat even as his strength and libido have waned. He is still taking 40 mile bike rides and spinning twice a week. What a guy!

So the truth is that my bleak mood is fingering every negative issue. It's not the markets or the elections or even my aching head; it's my inability to control the outcome of Sam's treatment. Good to know. Thanks for listening.

There are a lot of resources for men (and their wives) regarding prostate issues. Here are a couple: Us Too and Prostate Cancer Research Institute

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Books, Not Bombs

I am reading Three Cups of Tea. It is the story of how Greg Mortenson built a school in Korphe, Pakistan, a hamlet at the foot of the Karakoram mountain range. Dr. Greg (as the villagers call him) isn’t wealthy, nor did he have academic degrees. He is just your average Joe. Okay, your average Joe with the will, stamina, and desire to make it almost to the top of K2. Still, what Mortenson did, and is still doing with his Central Asia Institute, is a reminder that individuals can make a huge difference.

I felt inspired reading this book. Inspired to do what I can. To trust that, even though my contributions may not be big, they could be essential and life giving. In fact it reminded me to find and reread a precious memento from my high school teaching days, a stapled bundle of papers handwritten on lined notebook paper. By today’s glitzy presentation standards it is rather humble—but it means a lot to me. Senior Becky Goff summarizes what she learned in my class. This is Becky's final paragraph:

I have always thought that one person could not make a difference in the world, so why try? But this class stresses personal individuality and I have learned that I am as important as everybody else. As my opinion of myself altered, I felt better and more self-assured. So if I had to narrow down all the positive aspects of this class to the most important, it would be my individual gain to becoming a more independent person.

Global Studies Summary, per. 7, Nov. 1, 1988

If I were still teaching Global Studies today, Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin would be the perfect textbook. We would learn of the wisdom of Haji Ali, nurmadhar of Korphe village. We would learn of the dreams of his granddaughter, Jahan, to become a doctor. We would take in the stark beauty of the mountains and the challenges of crossing the wild Braldu River in only a hand cart. We would learn of Muslim hospitality and the great value placed on friendship.

A country, Pakistan, known mostly through lurid headlines, becomes a place not nearly so different from our own. Many customs differ, of course, but our desire to see our children safe and educated is identical. Mortenson believes the war on terror will be won by books, not bombs. I believe him.