Saturday, February 28, 2009

YaYa trilogy--Yea!

I just finished the third YaYa book YaYa's in Bloom, at least I read it third. Reading this third book, I came the realization that I really like these books. There is something about the characters and the situations presented that is really enjoyable. I also like them because there is an underlying hope in the novels that is often rare in really good novels. (Another hopeful novel that I love is The Color Purple). The other aspect of these novels that I loved was the theme of sisterhood among strong and intelligent women. In a society where women's worth is predicated on looks and youth, it is refreshing to see characters who are multi-faceted, sexy, beautiful, smart, and tragic all at the same time. This viewpoint is a reminder for women everywhere to see each other as sisters. We are one sisterhood and have the capacity to help each other to phenomenal degree. I know that I have been blessed with many women in my life who, in sharing their experiences and listening to mine, have helped me evolve into a wiser and happier person. What we forget when we start to believe that women are only capable of cattiness, rumor mongering, and backstabbing, is that women are also capable of great loyalty, love, and friendship. This power of women has the potential to truly heal the world!

Boston, Baby!

Hello, everyone! I am back from a professional trip to Boston. It was my first time visiting this city. To be honest, I had a preconceived notion of Bostonians that included envisioning very cold, snobbish people in general. Now, there have been plenty of times in my life when I have been wrong, but, man, I was soooo wrong about Boston people. Every interaction with Boston residents, from young college-students, to hard-worn working men, involved automatic courtesy and a willingness and openness to help a visitor to their city.
I have grown up and lived in the suburbs for the majority of my life. The cities with which I have some familiarity include Philadelphia, New York, Denver, and now Boston. What I have noticed is that every big city has its own feel. Boston had a "small town" feel in a big city. I really enjoyed my trip and am thankful to all those Bostonians that helped me find my way and were just generally courteous. What a great city!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Soul of Whole

In many of my posts, I have been talking about taking care of the self. A huge part of this is taking care of one's spirit. Easier said than done! For many of us, the chaos of life distracts us from anything but basic survival--getting to work, getting the bills paid, maintaining children, doing schoolwork, and whatever other forms of torture we subject ourselves to!! However, there are simple ways to reconnect with our spiritual selves and help us feel whole again. One method that I am starting to really find meaningful and yet simple, is the mandala. A mandala is a circular design that expresses the inner self. Carl Jung, one of the most fascinating psychologists that ever lived, talked about the mandala as a way to come to an understanding of the complete self, which, in his theory, could not be accomplished completely until around the age of forty. Anyone can create a mandala and in any medium--pencil, paint, crayon, whatever! What the mandala does for us is remind us of our wholeness, that we are complete in and of ourselves. It also reminds us that we are more than the sum of our daily tasks. Here is a great website that has some great mandalas that other people have created. Sometimes, their commentary on their mandalas are better than the artwork!!

The Magnum Saga

I have a confession. My cat, Magnum, has not let me pet him for almost four months. Magnum was originally my sister's cat; she got him as a kitten when she lived in CO almost thirteen years ago. He was always skiddish, supposedly due to being taken from his mother too early. When I moved out of my sister's house, Magnum stayed with her. A year and a half ago, I took Magnum and Godiva. Godiva died at the end of October, a week before I moved in with John. At that time, my sister and I had to corner Magnum and throw a towel over his head in order to get him in the carrier. Then there was the forty minute ride to the new apartment. Since then, if I get within two feet of him, he hisses at me and then meows. Sometimes he will just stare at me. This state of affairs has actually been very hard for me. Losing Godiva was really hard. She would greet me at the door when I got home, meow and rub against me. Magnum would follow her lead. I am trying to convince John to get a kitten--I think I almost have him convinced! For me, part of self-nurturing is having a cat to pet. Magnum is the white and grey one, Godiva is the all black one.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Must Haves--Night at the Taj

Last night, I went to the casino in AC with John, Debbie (John's former mother-in-law) and Joe (Debbie's husband). As anyone who has been to the casino knows, it's basically a lot of bells and whistles, colors and lights meant to lead you into sin and temptation. We went to the Taj, one of Trump's many homages to himself. Due to my current financial situation, I try to limit my spending to $20. Well, sitting at a $1 slot, I found myself falling victim to the gambler's lie, "I must hit at some point!" Eighty dollars later, I realized that money goes fast in a casino! Duh!! I guess I just paid for one of Trump's girlfriend's hair extensions--your welcome! Anyway, at least we got to enjoy the buffet, hello, all you can eat shrimp and crab!! Greed and Gluttony all in one easy location. While in the Taj, it occurred to me that the real American Dream is the get rich quick ideal. The fallacy that if I just had enough money, I'd be happy. This is the greatest lie we tell ourselves. Yes, money can reduce stress, especially for those of us with huge school loans. However, it is not the cure-all that many of us believe that it is. We have become a society in America of "Must Haves". I must wear Prada, I must have a Coach purse. These names somehow give people validity to their existence. Can you say, that stripped of these names, down to the essence of who you are that you would be satisfied? What do these brands that you "must have" really do for you? For those of you who cannot pull away from these brands, that is a key question to ask yourselves. Instead of looking at tags and labels, take a look at the sky; it's a much better way to spend your time. For those of us to whom brands are meaningless, we need to speak up and not be ashamed of not being obsessed with this capitalist lie. For instance, who needs an $800 Burberry scarf? When one steps back and truly examines this, it appears ludicrous. If you must wrap yourself in expensive items while your soul is rotting, what good is it? How about mansions in the soul? Ultimately, the economic crisis is a spiritual crisis. Instead of filling the emptiness inside us with food (like me), cigarettes, alcohol, shoes, clothes, jewelry, maybe we can look for unseen things that can soothe the savage beast within us all!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"All You Need Is Love"

Of course, since it is Valentine's Day, I have to blog about love. Most people think about romantic love on February 14th. Many people become annoyed at having it thrown in their face that they are alone. I have been in that position. In college, I'd watch the gang of guys walking to the sorority house, dressed in suits, roses in hand, and not a one for me. Now, I am very lucky to be with John who treats me to many little kindnesses on a daily basis. However, Valentine's Day does not have to be about just romantic love. Oprah made this point on her episode yesterday. She had on a woman who wanted to honor her grandmother, who ended up getting a Volkswagon Bug from Oprah--must be nice!! Part of wellness and overall psychological health that I want to address, though, is loving oneself. John once said to me, "isn't that narcissistic?" Actually, narcissism is a very superficial and weak version of self-love. Those who are narcissistic are typically overcompensating for a deep sense of insecurity or a poorly formed sense of self. I am talking about loving the self for the majority of us who are primarily of the nuerotic/depressive ilk. Self-Love starts with self-acceptance. It is also about counting one's needs as part of the overall equation. So, this Valentine's Day, and in general, remember to take care of yourself, either by taking a hot bath or reading a good book, or whatever types of things bring you joy (avoid using food though as that is a slippery slope that ends with 300 lbs and size 32!) Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Travails of Chocolate

Today's post is all about one of the greatest joys of my life that is also one of the banes of my existence. Of course, I am talking about that sweetest temptation, that greatest of culinary siren songs, chocolate. Now, I know there are some, like my childhood best friend Lily and my close friend Betty, who could turn a cold shoulder to this delectable treat. However, for me, enjoying a huge, multi-layered, fudgy, icing-filled piece of chocolaty wonder is about as good as it gets. In fact, watching food network challenges involving chocolate sculpture can send me into waves of ecstacy. So, one might ask, if you love it so much, why call it a bane of your existence? Ahhh, that's the question and the conundrum of life. Anything as wonderous as chocolate has to have a down side. That down side is sugar, which, when eaten in bulk (and I mean a gluttonous journey involving cookies, peanut butter cups, hershey kisses, etc.), leads to many health complications not to mention the amount of cellulite created. Chocolate is the reason I am in Weight Watchers.
You may be asking yourself what this commentary on one of my favorites of God's creation has to do with self-evolution? Well, that's just it. Part of what holds us back from realizing our best selves is the bad habits in which we engage. For me, the bad habit is overindulging in the "sugariness" of it all. For others, it could be smoking, drinking, not exercising, shopping too much, etc. One thing I have had to do is not have chocolate in the house and only let myself indulge a little. If I cross the line just a little bit, I can set off a fire-storm of chocolate consumption the likes of which Hersheys, Nestles, Girardellis have never seen. It also emphasizes my need to learn how to treat myself in non-caloric ways.
Self-nurturing is a huge part of self-evolution and leads to greater resilience. What makes something self-nurturing is completely dependent on the individual. For me, reading, writing, drawing, and listening to music are some of the healthy self-nurturing activities that I enjoy. It is not a perfect system; however. Last night, I ravaged a giant Hershey Bar and hid the remnants in the freezer (so John, my boyfriend, would not know). I just finished said remnants right before I wrote this post. That's ok, though, because I do not believe in the concept of perfection. But that is for discussion on another day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why I loved "A Prayer for Owen Meany"

Recently, I just finished John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany". While the setting of this book is in the fifties and sixties from the perspective of the narrator grown up in 1987, the book has universal appeal. What amazes me about the book is that the political atmosphere that is being criticized is not that different from the current climate. What I also liked about it is that it asks the basic questions about the meaing of life without giving any dogmatic or self-righteous answers. It makes you related to the humanity of the characters and all their flaws and has you, by the end, questioning the meaning of life and the synchronicity of seemingly random events and facts. It has me wanting to read more and more about Carl Jung and Taoism and all the other theorists who believed that somehow there is a meaning and a pattern underneath it all, even though we cannot always see it or comprehend it.

My First Foray

Hello world. This is my first entry. My focus in my blog is wellness of the whole person.