Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Magic

It's a day that only comes around every four that makes it different for sure, but this one was very special. Because today is the day that a puppy magically turned into a young dog.

Argyle got his first big boy hair cut! And, he did very well considering all the new sounds and buzzing and snipping, and cutting, and oh my toe nails what are you doing?!

We knew we had a brindle puppy, but even we couldn't have guessed how much brindle goodness was laying in wait under all that puppy fuzz!

So, here he is, my four month old Big Boy who got his first hair cut on a day that only comes every four years! I think I'm going to love him four ever!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Argyle's Mum

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's Not That

Have you ever had one of those times when you're hungry, you know you're hungry, and you start running the list of things you could eat? Or, you stand with the glare from the light inside of the refrigerator being the brightest of possibilities because nothing in there jumps out as The Thing that might satisfy?

Or your driving and every place you could stop meets with, "Mehhh, or nope, or I had that two days ago," so you continue driving in hope that the place will finally appear?

Have you ever been hungry and even the thought of your favorite food doesn't seem to work? Not even chocolate?

But, you know you're hungry because your tummy rumbles or you just can't stop thinking, "I'm hungry,"?

Well guess what? You're not hungry; you're thirsty!

Yep, most of us have forgot what it is to recognize thirst, especially women because most of us walk around in a constant state of slight, if not great, dehydration. Women don't want to bother with peeing so they stop drinking. Crazy, but true. And, with so many options around for what to drink, we think we're getting enough fluids but it's only water that really does the trick for the body.

So, if you think you're hungry and you just can't figure out what to eat, reach for a glass of water and drink it all down. Wait about 5 minutes and see if you discover that suddenly, you aren't hungry after all!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Discovering The Beauty of Drinking Water

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sometimes It's So Easy... recognize the miraculous in the mundane. Like being able to wonder about the amazing colors and qualities of food just before you pop them in for a warm roasting. I'm not really a Foody, but who couldn't be amazed by the colors?!

...being totally enamored of an amaryllis bloom. One that you successfully re-bloomed from the year before. To see the strength of vivid color in the washed out day in February is a gift.

Do you suppose that those brief moments of, "Oh wow!," are a measure of Spirit's Grace? I'm thinking they must be so. Here's hoping you can find a moment of passing grace in your day.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Graced

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Answer For Myself

Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." And, that got me thinking about a boss I once had who was able to make the most complex marketing data so easily understood. It was a gift.

Being good with words is a gift I have, but I understand that it can also take me down the unintended Road of Verbosity. Not good. I am now going to practice my willingness to put things simply because this question pertains to me. At the end of this, please let me know if I did an adequate job.

I am asked a lot, "How can you, A Reiki Master, a pagan, lean so far toward conservatism and so far from liberal thinking?" It seems that being philosophically open and into alternative therapies and healing means one must embrace the liberal mind-set. A true misconception.

I am simply not liberal enough to view those around me as being too disadvantaged, unable, or unwilling to reach for more and better. Or, see the world as a mean and stingy place where people who wish to change their circumstances can't work like crazy to change them. I'm not willing to step into a role of knowing better than you do about what is best for you.

I am not so liberal as to think that vast parts of the world or population need to be cared for because they are incapable of doing so for themselves. I'm not liberal enough to think of those with socio/economic hurtles to leap can't get over them unless we remove them. Or that I should force my definition of a better life onto your world view.

I'm not liberal enough to think that life should be fair. And that all of us should have the exact same measure. I'm not liberal enough to think that we should allow our government to mandate that those who have more must give to those who have less. I'm not liberal enough to think I know the rightness of things and that it's my job to make sure I Mama Manage the lives of others.

I am liberal in my view of the fact that there will never be enough love in the world and that all of us should have the right to find love where it is for us. In whatever form it takes, in whatever person we recognize it. I believe in sex as a Spirit given gift designed to give pleasure. I believe that all of us should recognize it as a gift and act accordingly.

I think we should all value ourselves enough to understand what we are doing if we decide to withhold from sex or participate in it. And, that sex is sacred just as we are sacred. Sex is natural and good but, it requires that we act responsibly. I am not liberal enough to think that birth control should be a government mandate paid for by tax payers. If I want the right to chose for myself, my sexual path, orientation and participation, I must also shoulder the responsibility of the healthcare that goes along with that choice.

I am liberal enough to understand that all are my brothers and sisters and that I have the responsibility to help where I can; assist when asked; nurture and mentor; support growth and willingness; care about those who are less fortunate. Do what I can to be of value and service.

I am also conservative enough to understand that all are my brothers and sisters and I have the responsibility to help where I can; assist when asked; nurture and mentor; support growth and willingness; care about those who are less fortunate. Do what I can to be of value and service.

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you- you did read the same dictates twice. Why? Because these things that liberal folk think of as their defining qualities, are exactly same for those who view themselves as conservative!

Liberal folk aren't better people because they think of others and champion the 'less fortunate'! It's not their wheel house. They don't own this. Conservative people feel the same way. And, that's why I can be a Reiki Master and a pagan in my spiritual orientation and still be conservative.

The difference? I'm okay with the notion that life isn't fair; I don't think it's supposed to be. I think our view of life being unfair can very often be the divine spark or the catalyst to reach for more or develop more, or search for more, or just begin to value ourselves more to believe we should expect better and get better! The first step in beginning a journey toward something!

As a conservative, I am not at war with money. I don't think of it as evil. I respect it for what it is- simply a physical manifestation of energy exchanged. And so, I like money. I want it; to share it and use it; make it; save it; and make it work for me.

As a Reiki practitioner, I understand that in order to become healthy and well, an individual must have a sense of their own power and ability. They can't be passive; they must participate. To be part of a healing process, both the practitioner and the patient must be on equal footing. It's a partnership; it's an eye-to-eye experience. One is not more-than, while the other is less-than.

In order to get a sense of one's personal power and begin feeling empowered to stretch to their full potential, one has to invest in themselves and the process. For most of us, when it comes to services, it's the exchange of money that we rely on.

But, as a Reiki practitioner, I clearly recognize that money is not the only way to do this. If I have a client who doesn't have the cash for their session, I ask, "What is it that you can exchange? What do you have that you are willing to invest for our time and energy?" And, anything that is agreed on starts the process of investing in Self and being an equal.

As a conservative, I am looking for that glorious moment on the teeter-totter of life, when you and I are in perfect balance with each other...that scant second when we look each other in the eyes, and hold things in that remarkable sense of being in equal relationship with each other. The moment is gone too soon as the Earth's gravitational pull sends me downward while you lift up, and then the process is reversed. But for one glorious second we experienced complete balance.

As a Conservative, I want all of us succeed. I want to see all of us realize our potential. I want all of us to reach for satisfaction. Sorry to say Liberals, you do not get the moral high ground on this one.

The difference between a Liberal and Conservative? Being conservative, I understand that it's not my job to define success for you. I understand that I cannot want better for an individual than they want for themselves. AND, I respect the learning path of each individual and the choices they make to either stretch past adversity, or accept it as their due. Being conservative, I hold constant hope that those with less will start their journey toward more, but it's not my job to do the heavy lifting for them.

We are all here to learn. Some of us learn through hardship and despite it. And some of us learn by staying stuck in the middle of it. I can only speak for what I know of my life and how I view things. I can only share my views if you ask me and I can walk the road with you for awhile, but I won't become the road for you to trod.

So yes, I am pagan and I am a Reiki Master and I am gifted and blessed and willing to share those with all. And, happily, there are many out there who feel as I do. I'm not singular in being a conservative and being compassionate. These states are not mutually exclusive.

Did I state this simply enough?

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Blessed & Conservative

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Faith Testing/Dogma Threatening/Soul Searching

I was raised in a Pre-Vatican II, Roman Catholic world. I received an outstanding education over 12 years, thanks to the dedication and discipline of two different orders of sisters. Elementary school was spent with the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. My high school years were navigated by the Daughters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland. I am blessed in both experiences. I found mentors and challenging women in my educators. Like anyone, there were some I loved, others I would avoid at any cost. And, now I can guess that they most likely felt the same about their students.

I am from a tradition of going to Mass every Sunday unless you were half-dead. I was made to go to confession regularly. I participated in First Friday services. We ate no meat on Fridays. We observed giving up things for Lent. We marked the passing of the year through Church holy days and Saints days. May processions. Adoration of Mary as the Blessed Mother. Little girls being dressed as tiny brides to receive their First Holy Communion. Choir practice and statues. Incense. Palm fronds. Prayer books and personal missals. Church was open all day and any could stop in to sit in the quiet of contemplation close to the God who made you.

As I grew older, I began to question my religion; I think most of us begin to question the rightness of continuing in a religious tradition that has been handed to you by your family. Sometimes the robes of religion fit you just fine and other times, well, you find that try as you might, you just can't make it work for you. At this point, some people just walk away from it totally as just, "not for me," but others begin a pilgrimage to discover what does speak to them. Learn what other faith path continues to allow a clear recognition of the soft whispers of the creator.

Post Vatican II, with much of the ritual and ceremony removed from their lives, many Catholics became disenchanted with the Church. Angry, too. The Latin was removed. Nuns habits were abolished or significantly modified. Priests left the priesthood. Sisters left the convent. Many beloved saints were demoted. It was a hard time for many. Some never recovered. I was young enough that all of these changes left me bewildered, but didn't really impact my sense of home being SS. Philip & James parish. That came later.

I began taking classes in comparative religions. I started studying the bible as a text, perhaps divinely inspired, but maybe not. I began to look closely into the history of the early Church and how it all started. And, when I was a young woman who was becoming sexually active and beginning relationships, I still thought of myself as fundamentally Catholic, even though I was searching for answers.

It wasn't until I got into college and my early 20's that I decided that the Catholic Church wasn't my faith path any longer. I couldn't abide by the notion of being against birth control of any form and at the same time, being anti-abortion. I couldn't abide by being put in a totally unrealistic situation with a no win option.

But, most importantly, I couldn't as a female, find a lasting home in a religion where women were treated as second class citizens. A religion where women could not hold a leadership role. A religion that even in the 20th century viewed women as hand maidens to the ceremony; to the life of the parish; to the ability to be recognized for their work and efforts. And...

...I couldn't buy into a religion that was Paul based in its theology. Because, let's face it, Paul did NOT like women. At all. And, the Roman Catholic Church as it exists now is centrally Paulian in its dogma and doctrine. They like to brush over the obvious dislike of women, but it's pervasive.

So, because I couldn't follow the rules, I stopped being a Roman Catholic.

And I started looking at other Christian religions. For awhile the Episcopals were deeply interesting to me because they had begun to ordain women and seemed much more reality based when it came to walking the path of Christ in the real world. But, that too, went away when I realized that somehow, it still left me feeling, "There has to be so much more in terms of being in relationship with My Maker. This is simply not it for me."

While I was sampling other forms of worship, I was fortunate to get my first real job out of college with Saint Joseph Hospital in Maryland. Coincidentally, it was founded by the Sisters of St. Francis and I was overjoyed over my 11 years there to see some of the sisters who taught me years before. I basically grew up there. And, when I left, it was as a member of the middle management. I had input to decisions and direction of the hospital. But, none of us could impact or change the over-arching premise that this is a Catholic hospital and driven resoundingly by its mission and vision as a Roman Catholic institution.

We celebrated high holy days. Mass was said at every major hospital event. New areas or new departments received a blessing ceremony. A crucifix hung in every patient room. A statue of Mary welcomed visitors who came into the lobby. And, for many, its being a Catholic hospital made it their hospital of choice.

As an employee, we were told that our personal religious beliefs would not exclude us from being part of the St. Joseph family. But, as employees, we all had to abide by the premises and tenets as taught by the Church. The physicians on staff understood that abortion procedures would not be done at this hospital. Birth control and other forms of contraception were not distributed through the hospital pharmacy. And, birth control was not on the list of medications that were covered through the prescription plan for employees.

Like any other religious based organization, when you come to work at a Catholic hospital, you understand what you are signing on for; it's a place that accepts all who come for care, regardless of race, religion, and ability to pay. A place where social justice is expected from the performance as each other and to patients and families. The same can be said of Catholic schools and other missions.

St. Joseph is not singular in this regard. It is the same at all of the Catholic hospitals. It sets them apart. Perhaps it makes them better. Maybe it holds them depends on each person to interpret this for themselves.

I just know, that while I did not consider myself a Catholic any longer, as part of the hospital staff, I went to Mass; I participated in the various services; I crafted our communications around the mission and vision in every brochure, newsletter, message my office sent out. One of the things that I admired about one of my bosses, now close friend, Carole is that she is Jewish and was always at every celebratory Mass and service. Certainly it was not her religion or faith views, but she believed that, when she made the choice to work there and be part of management, she needed to participate in those things that her organization believed to be important.

When you work for an organization, you are there by mutual choice. And, if you're going to be there, you must play by the rules as set forth.

This brings me to the issue that I have been struggling with for days. Because I find that I am increasingly angry. And, that's odd to me because, after all, I'm not Catholic any longer, so many might think that I shouldn't care...but I do care...

...I care a great deal. And, I'm angry.

With the new Obama Health Care initiative that is starting soon, upheaval and argument has really bloomed. It has divided us as a nation in many respects. I'm not going to discuss whether I am for it or against it. Let's just say as it currently stands, I think we're stuck with bad legislation. It may be funded in a passionate desire to help people, but I'd say as it is written right now, 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'

The health care legislation says that all places of employment must have birth control on the list of those medications fully covered under employee prescription plans or pay significant fines. And, that's a huge problem for Catholic places of employment. Let me remind you: BIRTH CONTROL IS IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH ROMAN CATHOLIC DOGMA.

The White House glibly says, "Institutions can get waivers..." but that's not exactly true. Because in order to qualify for the waiver, an organization can only service those who share the same belief. And, Catholic hospitals; Catholic schools do not discriminate or turn any away. Trying to operate in such a fashion would be anathema. So, they won't qualify for the waiver unless they collapse their services to only Catholics. Or hire only Catholics.

My problem with this? You do not have to work at a Catholic institution. You have choices. As it stands right now, if you are employed by a Catholic institution and need abortions, birth control, or other services along those lines, there are many more options for those services.

As a female in the work force, your birth control should not be my issue and why should I, as a citizen, have to pay for the services required by an active sex life? Birth control is not a right! It's an individual's responsibility. Do we really need to tell religious organizations that they must pay for it or be fined? It is not that expensive and easily accessed, so what is this administration really saying?

If you are an employee of a Catholic institution, buy it, and put the costs toward your flexible spending account. Or get it for free from Planned Parenthood or the area health department. You have options. You are not restricted from getting the care and birth control you might need, you simply can't have it paid for by your Catholic employer!

Really? Is that so hard?!

I hear women saying all the time, "I don't want the government in my bedroom or my sex life!" and I also hear them say, "I should have total access to choice!" YOU HAVE IT! But, you can't get it everywhere....most particularly, you can't go to religious outlets for employment and tell them they must forget their fundamental belief just so you don't have to go another 30 feet down the road to another source. And, if you don't want the government in your sex life, you can't applaud it and support it when they try to force religious organizations to pay for your contraception! You can't have it both ways.

If you don't want the government telling you what to do in your personal life, why would you ever condone this current situation?! If it doesn't absolutely alarm you, why not?

This is an unbelievable stretch. The current administration is over-reaching and now moving into areas that brush up against Church and State dramatically. If you let this one go, what will be the next? Which is the next religious organization that will be forced into something? When do we say, "That's far enough!"

A recent poll of Catholic women showed that about 73 per cent of them think that they should be offered birth control. But that's not the point!

Like most women, I would agree, the Catholic Church needs to change their standing on the issue of birth control, but until they change, it's their doctrine; their rules; their dogma. You don't ask the Church to change, you abide by their teachings or find a home that suits you.

The truth here is that the average, reasonable person will say, "I'm not concerned about this, because I don't have a problem with a Catholic institution not doing these things. It never crossed my mind to think they should."

But, the problem is, your Government does! It is attempting to force their thoughts on care whether you think it makes sense or not. We can't just let them do what they think is right for us. They're not our parents! We can think for ourselves! We should be taking care of ourselves and those around us who need it, not the government. And even more critical, we should not have a government that believes they have the authority to tell a religious organization to forego their history and doctrine because they say so or pay a fine for holding fast to their guiding principles and values. HELL no!!

So if you think that the Obama administration is correct, let's be clear about what you're really saying: You would rather Catholic organizations deliver less health care; less education; less social services to the general population and restrict it to only Catholics in order to avoid being severely financially penalized. Does that really sound like it's a good idea when access to contraceptives is really not an issue for employees of Catholic institutions? You decide.

Render unto God what is God and unto Caesar what is Caesar's, was The Christ's best advice on how to live in the world that needs to give weight to both the state and the church. But, the ability to do this is becoming a perilous ledge that we are all dancing on at the moment. And we should all be very afraid of how far down the drop is below.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is A Woman In Conflict

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Silent Sermon Sunday

Louis C. Tiffany

May the week to come bring light that sparks your creative heart.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sadly, Some Things Never Seem To Change

Catherine The Great of Russia

During my time in Russia, I became quite fascinated by this empress. She was a remarkably capable, compassionate ruler, and in many ways advanced for her time. She is sometimes called, The Enlightened Empress. But, sadly her qualities are not what first come to mind when you hear her name. Instead, we think of her sexual exploits. Yes, she had many lovers. If you had been married to her disgusting husband, you probably would seek comfort and love in the arms of others, too.

That business we all snicker about, her coupling with a horse? Well, let us remember that history up until more recent times was penned by men. And, we all know that a great many of the males in our species are intimidated by powerful women who know who they are and like themselves. A blog for another day.

Currently, I'm reading an extensive biography about Great Ekaterina, written by Robert K. Massie. He titled it: Catherine The Great- Portrait of a Woman. It's a pretty good read. And I was struck by an observation made by Katherine and, sadly, how much it still pertains to us in our time.

You need to remember that she came into power years before we had our Revolution here in America. 1776 is still a few years away. To give you a reference, here in the colonies, we were in the throes of breaking the tyrannical ties of England, when this young woman assumed the empress role and ultimate responsibility for the vast kingdom of Russia.

Massie writes about her first brush with the Russian senate, quoting her observation of this august body that could not make laws, for that was the job of the monarch, but was there to enforce the laws that were in place for the good of the country. Says she of her Senate in June of 1763: "I cannot say that you are lacking in patriotic concern for my welfare and the general welfare, but I am sorry to say that things are not moving towards their appointed end as successfully as one would wish." The cause of this delay, she said, was the existence of, "internal disagreements and enmity, leading to the formation of parties seeking to hurt each other, and to behavior unworthy of sensible, respectable people desirous of doing good."

Sad to say, if Katherine was dropped as a leader, ruler, president into the middle of our world today, she would feel right at home with the Senate with whom she would have to negotiate. She would be just as frustrated. Sadly, some things never seem to change.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Hates Professional Politicians

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Advanced Intelligence

It's started; big time it's started. It's most obvious in the political races that are now going on. And, just today, the car in front of me had a bumper sticker that read, "2012, The End of An Error".

You all know me enough by now to know that I found it clever because of the play on words. And, maybe or maybe not, my political views might mirror the sentiment. But, just so you know, my political views are not up for debate in this particular posting. Neither are yours. For now, let's all agree to disagree if that's the case. Or clap our arms around each other if that's our shared view.

But, here's what I will say about that bumper sticker and these political races, and ultimately on the election later this year: Please, please, please do not say around me, "I knew better all along!" Because either side of the equation, regardless of the outcome can be smug and say such utter nonsense.

The truth is: You don't know better. I don't know better. None of us truly knows better.

The best we can say is that we know different...or more correctly, differently. It's all subjective and a matter of opinion and most often, Group Think. We tend to gravitate to those who share our thinking and opinions. It's only Human nature to do so. But, being one of the group doesn't give you advanced intelligence or any other super power. So don't be so smug. Stop it. Just stop it.

I don't know better about anything; neither do you. I just know different; so do you. And, that I can live with and so can you.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Open To Discussion
Blog Widget by LinkWithin

My Previous Musings