Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Magic, Beauty, and Love abound

The world is a magical place. Meadows dressed in yellow flowers surrounded by 1,000 year old giants of the earth. Alpine Lakes sitting at the base of snow covered majestic peaks that extend their tops to the sun. The flight of seagull gliding effortlessly over the open sea.The gentle movement of a stream as it meanders through the forest. Morning mist that shrouds the rocky coastline of the Pacific ocean. A hibernating oak tree standing alone with it feet covered in snow. A lonely solitary country road winding its way along a green pasture on a winter morning in February. The golden leaves of an aspen tree on a crisp autumn day in the High Sierra's. Footprints in the sand leading to nowhere on a beach with no humans in sight. Two lovers looking into the fading face of the sun as it takes it's last bow of the day. Purple and yellow flowers bursting with color in an otherwise desolate landscape of Death Valley. A lighthouse standing all alone in the distance sharing its light with those who have lost their way at sea and fear the retribution of Poseidon...and... The flickering flame of a vanilla scented candle which is currently providing the light for this writer. There is magic all around us. There is beauty all around us...and...There is love all around us even though at any time we may not feel it's touch or understand it's depth. At any given moment we may feel that magic, beauty, and love has left us and been replaced with a void of darkness...but let us not forget that the existence of darkness does not have the power to extinguish the light or the magic, love, and beauty of this world. How do I know this? Because, since the beginning of time the two have always co-existed and even when it looked like darkness might destroy the light there was always the beauty of a flower, the loving hands of a mother, or the magic of the creation everywhere.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Day in the Snow

Today was one of the most beautiful days in Bako in years. We have been in a severe drought for the past two years with less than three inches a year. For the past 10 days it has rained off and on with more on the way in the next ten days. Yesterday the snow level dropped to around 2,000 feet and the local mountains were covered with snow when I woke up this morning so I got my butt into gear and headed to the hills before the snow melted. I didn't get as many good pics as I wanted because many of the out fo the way roads were closed but I got a few unusual pics and posted them here at this space.

Only in California

Cognitive Dissonance?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Search for the Holy Grail

Thomas Moore the author of Care of the Soul writes,
"A major difference between care and cure is that cure implies the end of trouble. If you are cured, you don't have to worry about whatever was bothering or you were struggling with any longer. But care has a sense of ongoing attention. There is no end. Conflicts may never be fully resolved. Your character will never change radically, although it may go through some interesting transformations"

At one time during my life I read a fair share of self help books but many years ago I became so disillusioned regarding the possibility of significant change I abandoned the project altogether. Today, I generally don't ascribe to formula's nor do I expect any significant change or quick fixes from reading any book or listening to any expert guru pontificating about this or that. What if there is, as Moore suggests, no cure for some if not many of our personal spiritual/psychological ailments? Are we without hope? Not if Moore is correct when he suggests in his writings that ongoing attention and care of our soul can in the end lead to transformation that may not solve all our problems but may potentially provide us with the inner strength and motivation to live our lives with dignity, grace, and love despite our shortcomings, individual limitations, and personal demons that haunt our lives. I can fully understand why so many people are searching for answers to their personal problems but perhaps "expecting" the find a cure to many of our problems is our version of the search for the Holy Grail.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Life Can Be Very Frustrating at Times

My friend Kathleen who visits this space from time and time and is a regular on my facebook page suggested I include a blog entry on life's hassles and frustrations. This was a collaborative effort. Thanks for the idea Kathleen.

1. Trying to keep cool in Bakersfield during the summer. In cold weather you can always put on more clothes but there are only so many clothes one can take off and still walk around in public.

2. Almost anything to do with car repairs.

3. Trying to remember all the various computer passwords.

4. Dealing with bureaucracy of any kind, especially on the phone.

5. Programming electronic small appliances, such as BLUE TOOTH, personal travel assistant, IPOD, etc. - IPOD

6. Driving in foggy weather in Bakersfield during a really foggy day.

7. Trying to buy Christmas gifts for people who have everything.

8. Trying to multitask too many things at one time, like downloading an IPOD while talking on the phone and watching the news at the same time.

9. Picking a movie at the video store when you have two or three other people with you.

10. Reading through a digital camera manual which is now somewhere between 150 to 175 pages.

11. Listening to almost any talk radio show for more than five minutes. If it's Michael Savage or Sean Hannity you can reduce that number to two minutes.

12. Driving in heavy traffic in a large city that you have never been to before.

13. Finding parking in San Francisco.

14.Waiting in almost any hospital emergency room.

15. Going to Costco at the beginning of the month or the holidays.

16. Trying to explain to women why I like my beard and why it has nothing to do with trying to hide or cover up something.

17. Trying to explain to people how an educated and otherwise sane person like myself has a house filled with dragons, wizards, gnomes, and a couple of rather unsavory mythological creatures.

18. Explaining to school administrators how the use of movie video clips has potentially important educational value.

19. Unwrapping almost any sealed item from the store these days

20. Listening to computer geeks at the computer store tell you how easy it is to install and use some new computer program you just recently bought.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Verbal Abuse

Recently I encountered an individual who is very skilled in the art of verbal abuse and during our brief encounter they used the entire arsenal of the abuser which includes wagging the finger, guilt, shame, moralizing, and repeated attempts to define me and my reality. The encounter was short because over the years I have learned a series of responses to diffuse and break the spells of those who resort to scorched earth tactics. The unpleasant episode reminded me of a very good book I read on the subject by Patricia Evans called The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond to it. Evans has written a number of books on abuse and other related topics which include, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out...Teen Torment: Overcoming Verbal Abuse at Home and School...and...Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People Who Try to Control You. I recommend her work highly and encourage anyone who is dealing with emotional/verbal abuse at home, school, work, etc. to check out her work and become a spellbreaker before you look back on your life ten years from now and wonder to yourself, "why did I tolerate" such nonsense. Here are some excerpts from her book on Verbal Abuse to give you a flavor of her thoughts on the subject...and...don't forget, "Sticks and Stones may break your bones, but words will break our hearts", Robert Fulghum.

An abuser is determined to not admit to their manipulation and need for control.If they did, they would have to come face to face with their own feelings...and...since a verbal abuser needs to have Power Over their partner, they cannot accept them as their equal.

An abuser's worth is derived from a sense of one-upmanship and winning over. If one partner accomplishes something, the abuser views their accomplishment competitively.

There are many ways to manipulate another person, including being "friendly" only when one expects to get something from the other, suggesting disastrous outcomes to another's plans, and acting as if something has been agreed to or decided that hasn't been agreed to or decided.

When the verbal abuser refuses to discuss a problem, they prevent all possibility of resolution. In this way, they exercise control over the interpersonal are frequently left with a sick, hurt feeling that is never really resolved. There is no feeling of closure.

Verbal abuse closes the door to true communication and intimacy. Intimacy in a relationship requires mutuality. Mutuality requires goodwill, openess, and a willingness to share oneself. An abuser cannot control their partner and be intimate with them at the same time. Intimacy is lacking if there is no equality, partnership,mutuality, and goodwill...and...because of the abuser's need for dominance and their unwillingness to accept their partner as equal, the verbal abuser is compelled to negate the perceptions, experiences, values, accomplishments, and plans of their partner.

The more a partner shares their hopes and fears with the abuser, hoping for acceptance and intimacy, the more the abuser views their openness as weakness; the more superior they feel; the colder they become, and the more Power Over they feel.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Some things I would do over

I am generally not one for regretting most of my decisions of the past because it has finally sunk in that it is not a good idea to beat myself up. It's not that I don't reflect about the past because I often do but I believe that my emotional, physical, and spiritual condition at a particular time overrides my decision making process to the point that if I had to do things over I would probably make the same decision most of the time. For the sake of making conversation here is a list of some of the things that I wish I could over if I given the chance and was in the state of mind I am today.

1. I would have stayed in Oregon and not come home to Bakersfield after going to school at Oregon State. I have never liked living in Bakersfield and I can't wait to move someday.

2. I wish I would have dated more when I was in college. Between the ages of 19 and 25 I did not have one serious romantic relationship with a Daughter of Eve. What was I thinking?

3. I wish I would have went out for the Basketball team in high school. I was one the best players in Bakersfield in high school but had such a fear of failure I was afraid to go out for the team. I was so good that I frequently held my own playing against college players in pick up games and some of the guys I played against were starters on the Junior College state championship team. I was a scoring machine, a white version of Allen Iverson.

4. I wish I had traveled to Europe before I got married. I had planned to travel to Switzerland and study at L'abri, a popular religious study center but I ended up staying home, getting married and paying off my wife's student loans.

5. I wish I had experimented with at least one drug. To this day I have never experimented with any drug, not even beer and I just can't relate to people when they talk about drugs or drink a beer from time to time. I am like a fish out of water in most social situations because I don't drink beer, wine, etc.

6. I wish I had taken more risks in life. I have played it pretty safe most of my adult life. Lived in the same city, worked at the same high school for twenty two years and belonged to the same religious sub-culture for twenty five years. I just feel at times like I may have missed out on so much.

7. I wish I had pursued my creative side when I was younger by taking art classes, learned to play an instrument, or something. It wasn't until I was in my forties that I discovered that I had a very strong artistic side to me.

8. I wish I hadn't passed up two opportunities to see Dave Matthews and U-2 in concert years ago. I have a real cheap side to me and just couldn't pull the trigger on spending some bucks on a live concert but I now realize I really missed out.

9. I wish I hadn't gotten so engulfed by my religious and political ideology for so many years. In hindsight, I think it was counterproductive to much of my life and contributed to some of my marriage problems and lack of social skills and kept me insulated from the other half of the world for a so many years.

10. I wish I discovered some of my real "issues" when I was younger. For many years I have spent so much time and energy dealing with various symptoms with little to show for it and have only figured out the major pieces of the puzzle of my life in the last five years. Better late than never, I suppose.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Friendship is a necessity. If we neglect it, we will feel a vacuum in our soul. Friendship makes a major contribution to the process of soul-making and without it we feel a painful lack and debilitating weakness of heart. Friendship offers the soul intimacy and relatedness…and…without intimacy, the soul goes starving for the closeness provided by intimate relationships…In friendship, we want to receive and to be received. To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship…A friendship doesn’t require compatibility. Friendship is not essentially a union of personalities it is an attraction and magnetism of souls….It may be wise, then to cultivate friendships in an indirect manner. Friendship may not respond well to pressure….Friendship consists of mutual understanding, a common concern for each other, sensitivity to the soul work of the other….Friendship entails a paradoxical blending of intimacy and individuality….and…to the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendships... Thomas Moore

As I get older close friendships have become more elusive yet more important. Most of my friends my age are now very busy with work and family responsibilities which more often than not prevents them from hanging out with other guys much of the time. In general women seem to be more intentional about spending time with each other and mutual support seems to be an important aspect of their time spent together. Men on the other hand often get together for sporting events or just to shoot the bull where small talk seems to rule the day more often than not. Personally, I miss time with my single friends back before I was married when we would often sit up until the wee hours of the morning sharing our lives, hopes, and dreams. I can't turn back the clock but I would hope that more men would see the importance of taking more time to cultivate their relationships with other men and pursue the potential healing that is available to those men who are willing to be vulnerable, show concern, and sensitivity for each other. We need each other.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Are you listening God?

This is beginning to look serious. Much of California has experienced a drought the past two years and with no serious rain in sight it now looks like this will be the third year in a row we will get about half or less of our annual rainfall amount. Last year it was very dry in my neck of the woods, less than two and a half inches of rain for the entire year!...While California has an annual snow pack we can fall back on the snow pack to this point is only about 60% of normal. The coastal areas from Ventura to Monterey are going to be hurtin for certain because they get all their water from local reservoirs...which means...they may have to ration water by not watering their lawns and taking even more drastic measures. Personally, I miss the rain in large part because when it doesn't rain it looks just down right ugly in my neck of the woods and the air quality sucks. So, God, if you are reading my blog right now please send us some rain, snow, and wind because we need it really, really, bad...