Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Latest Read


My latest read is called, A Portrait of Egypt by Mary Anne Weaver.

Synopses & Reviews
Publisher Comments:
For centuries Egypt has been a citadel of Islamic learning and thought, and since the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979, it has been of immense strategic importance to American interests in the Middle East. But Egypt is also a country in crisis, torn between the old and the new, between unsettled religious revival and secular politics. President Hosni Mubarak favors a secular society. But Mubarak's government faces constant conflict with militant clerics such as Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. In A Portrait of Egypt, Mary Anne Weaver argues that an Islamist victory in Egypt is almost inevitable, and, unlike that of Shi'ite Iran, its impact on the Islamic world will be truly profound.

Based on exclusive interviews with militants and front men, generals and presidents, A Portrait of Egypt is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the far-reaching consequences of the growing impact of Islamist politics and policies on the West.

Because the book is based mostly of a political nature with extreme viewpoints I’m having difficulty in reading it very quickly. I actually purchased this book 5 years ago, started it but couldn’t get into it, so put it away. After completely my last book and not having anything else to read I opted to give this one a try again. I’m more than half way through it and have mixed thoughts.

On the one hand it has recent historical information, which is rather fascinating, but on the other hand I’m perplexed by the actions or thought processes of either extremely intelligent or charismatic human beings. Certainly Islamist Militants, charismatic Sheikhs, religious leaders, corrupt government officials and other extreme leaders in any role of power have been around forever, but I’m curious to know what exactly causes these extremely bright people to become so narrow-minded in their beliefs that causes them to act so radical.

For throughout history we have so many examples of such intelligent people causing such heinous harm to their fellow human brethrens that to an average Joe as myself it is absolutely unimaginable. Yet, our history books or elders around us can recount the days gone by with all sorts of tails of extremism. We are currently living in times that are no different from that of our past with regards to extremism. Moreover, no matter what is accomplished in today’s world, extremism will be recorded in our future history archives as well. So, what is the root of such actions?

Again, if we look back not long ago at a collection of just random individuals such as Adolf Hilter, Joseph Stalin, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Saddam Hussein, and Heidi Fleiss – Hollywood Madam,
it would seem that “statistically” 4 out of the 6 of these people have had abusive childhood backgrounds. Is an abusive childhood enough to create such disturbing individuals? Moreover, is this enough to create such influential individuals to reek such havoc on the masses? Ok, so Heidi Fleiss never killed anyone, however, the fact remains she is on a very small scale a charismatic person that has a clever mind. Certainly Heidi wasn't the first madam, as prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, but the fact remains she was/is a very successful "business woman" and has had an effect on a number of people from all walks of life. I am also curious as to why it’s the male species that exudes these extreme qualities more so than women. Unfortunately, I am not able to think of any women that have done such atrocities to society, so if anyone cares to share such information I would greatly appreciate it.

Of course an obvious statement would be to say, “if only these individuals used their intellect, talents and skills for the betterment of the world rather than the destruction of human life, we’d be better off”. However, I have to wonder if each and every one of these few I mentioned thought exactly that statement? I wonder if in their minds somehow they thought they were making a positive impact or difference in the world to make it a better place to live?

Nonetheless I hope to finish this book, although it is of a dark nature so have a difficult time reading such things. On the other hand I have an admiration for the woman that interviewed so many influential people in order to write this book. She certainly an audacious woman in my book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Snotty Receptionist

An older gentleman had an appointment to see the urologist who shared an office with several other doctors. The waiting room was filled with patients. As he approached the receptionist desk he noticed that the receptionist was a large unfriendly woman who looked like a Sumo wrestler.
He gave her his name.

In a very loud voice, the receptionist said, "YES, I HAVE YOUR NAME HERE; YOU WANT TO SEE THE DOCTOR ABOUT IMPOTENCE, RIGHT?"All the patients in the waiting room snapped their heads around to look at the very embarrassed man.

He recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice replied, "NO, I'VE COME TO INQUIRE ABOUT A SEX CHANGE OPERATION, BUT I DON'T WANT THE SAME DOCTOR THAT DID YOURS."

Moral - DON'T MESS WITH OLD FOLKS

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

End Zone Dance

Grandpa was trying to teach Amira the most important move of the American football game--the end zone dance, which is what a lot of players do after they've made a touchdown. :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Think Before You Ink

This guy had what he thought was a great tattoo...

until he wound up in jail. Now he's...

THE MOST POPULAR GUY IN PRISON


Friday, October 19, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Random Blathering

Thank you in advance for your tolerance of my random blatherings, which serves as a processing method for me.

Epiphanies seem to drift through rather quickly and if we are not careful there’s the possibility we will miss them. Although, as loving and merciful as Allah is there’s a good chance others will come again down the pike.

These days I’m finding myself extremely frustrated and wondering what in the world could be causing me such frustration. After all, my life has been so wonderfully blessed. I live a humbly simple life filled with wonderful moments and memories that include explorations, spiritual connections, supportive family and friends, and a true treasure, Amira, alhamdullilah. Who could possibly want more? Isn’t it the human condition to always want or desire more than what we have already? Isn’t it the humble devoted spirit/soul that is absolutely grateful beyond measure for everything in existence at this very moment in time? How does one balance the two? They seem drastically conflicting and constantly at odds with one another, but somehow find moments of co-existence. Probably when our humaness stands steadily still for a moment and is ever present in the moment.

It’s no secret to anyone what I’ve been through in the last 4 years or so, since Amira’s father left. I don’t bring the situation up as a form of pity or as a way of continuing to brew upon it, but rather as a reflective point of where I’ve been and where I’ve come and how I feel about the future.

Of course when he first left I was in utter shock and dismay, to the point of even denial because after all the pain and shame was too much. Once shock, dismay, and shame decided they had done their part they left in order to allow depression to fill their spot. What a trade off---3 for 1! Thinking that couldn’t be a bad trade off the three for just one, it turned out to be more than I bargained for because depression carries a very powerful punch. Aside from the endless flowing tears of pain, the endless tears of guilt, the endless tears of worthlessness, and if completely honest with myself the endless tears of loneliness I hadn’t considered that someone like me could be depressed. Of course, this would then re-invite denial back into the picture because after all I was freakin’ depressed in spite of my perfect self that thought depression was only for the meek and timid. I hated admitting I was depressed because I never wanted to consider myself meek or timid; moreover, I never wanted to consider myself anything other than strong and smart both of which are not prerequisites for avoiding depression.

Besides how could I be depressed with an infant? I had to be strong for her. I had to teach her how to be a strong independent woman. How could I do that when I wasn’t even sure I was capable of doing so for myself? Somehow though we managed the storm by the grace of Allah, alhamdullilah.

All my waking moments, which were many because sleeping was difficult to do with depression, shame, worry, worthlessness, and all the other members of this clan that were interfering with my sleeping pattern, I spent in constant prayer and devotion with Allah. I had nothing else. God was the only one that I never felt like I was interfering with, or interrupting at 1, 2 or even 4 in the morning, or the only one I felt I could count on to be there no matter what, or the one I never felt I was burdening with my woes. Because after all as humans how much repeated stories of sadness could we possibly listen to without feeling like we were going to lose our minds or kill our friends for not getting over it? I could cry my heart out, I could be mad, I could be upset, I could be anything without the fear of rejection or abandonment, alhamdulliah.

Over time this became the most precious time of my life. The peacefulness that filled my emptiness, my ugliness, my shamefulness, my worthlessness and even my fearfulness, alhamdullilah.

I’ve become so dependent on this inner peacefulness, which I know can only come through God and my willingness to open my heart to receive His mercy. I suppose like all things it became habit forming in the since that I desired and longed for my precious time with Him, which could be reached at any moment and any where throughout my day. How’s that for a lifeline connection?

So, with beautiful blissfulness that fills my soul, why do I still feel myself at times feeling frustrated? I think because I know my true nature, which is not to be a celibate being, not to be a nun, not to be a Yogic guru tucked away in a remote location, and not to be single for the rest of my life. There’s a part of me that yearns for the intimacy of a husband, for the comfort and strength of a man, for the partnering of two souls to journey together through this crazy ride called life. However, I believe I realized this morning (hence - epiphany) perhaps the reason for my frustration. As much as I desire a husband, I dreadfully fear losing myself again. Knowing myself, and knowing that when I allow myself to love someone I love them completely. I love them with flaws and all----to the point of losing myself in them, which I realize is not what love is suppose to be about because when you do that you deplete yourself so much to the point of not being able to receive it in return. There’s a part of myself that wonders if my behavior has been changed through this spiritual refinement I’ve been going through all these years or if that part of myself remained the same. There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to take that risk to find out because if it hasn’t changed then I know the outcome from the past, and am not sure I could live through such difficulty once again. On the other hand, I’m not sure I can’t take the risk to find out if I’ve changed because then I could be missing out on another wonderful blessing from Allah. To have someone love me completely without losing themself in the process would be so incredibly wonderful. Is that possible? Is it possible to allow someone to love me without me trying to assume the whole role of loving?

I realize this is about control. I realize even in my blissful simple life that one of the reasons it is so is because I feel I have control over it. I know, I should be enrolled in some program where I stand before a group and say, “Hi my name is IbeeBarbie, and I’m a control freak”. But the honest truth is this is who I am. Believe me there isn’t anyone that can debate with me more than I do with myself over this issue. How I need to acknowledge I’m only fooling myself to believe that I’m actually in control of anything. How I need to accept the fact that life has ups and downs and that no matter what they are just experiences in life----not forms of torture in the hopes of killing us. How I need to remember that the only way to live life, to feel love, and to forevermore be connected to God is through living with my heart open, but I seem to fall short of succeeding at this.

Realizing the difference between men and women, I wonder if there’s a man out there that will patiently deal with my crazy way of over analyzing everything to death before coming to a conclusion. Quite possibly to the same conclusion as he, with of course, his conclusion being a more direct beeline approach than mine. Moreover, if I’m completely honest with myself, am I willing to accept such a man with such strength to be in my life or will I consider that a form of controlling?

I realize I’m not the only person in this world that has felt, feels or will feel this way at some point in their life, I just happen to be on that path at this moment in mine.

I realize to have balance both spiritually as well as the human side to be able to blend my internal peaceful self with another human being requires me to take a risk. I’m not certain, but I think herein lies the frustration I’m dealing with. I desire to be married and have a family so dearly, but feel concern about balancing both my spiritual life with God as well as my human duties as a wife and mother successfully. Sometimes there’s a part of me that wishes I could just shut that desire off so I wouldn’t have to worry about failing again at another relationship, but the desire runs so deeply I’m not sure it could be shut off. More importantly, I’m not sure I want it to be shut off-----I just don’t want to fail again, is more the issue for me.

The funny part is there’s no one beating down the door that even requires such a decision to be made. So not sure why I’m even making such a deal out of it, but rather think it’s that part of myself that I tucked away that is wanting/needing to come out and live again, and that scares the hell out of me a little bit.

Signed the woman that needs to at least consider loosening up on control.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Latest Read

After seeing one of Oprah’s shows a few weeks back with a guest speaker who wrote a book entitled Eat, Pray, Love, I knew that was going to be my latest read. The very next day I went out and purchased this book and have been reslishing it every since.

I’m not one that believes that things happen by change or by luck or anything like that, but rather think of them as divinely planned. I believe we have free will to make the choice to either follow the divine path that is laid before us or not. I believe the purpose of our lives is to learn from our mistakes, to stretch and grow beyond our own limits all for the purpose of having a closer relationship with God. So with that little tidbit information, I believe this book, although published in 2006 and even released in paperback in February 2007, was brought to my attention at the exact perfect time I was suppose to receive it.

I can relate to the author of this book on so many levels. The perfect description for her although linguistically I’m not certain any of us can be completely described to our full attention, but nonetheless she’s such a beautifully flawed human. She’s very funny. She makes herself very vulnerable with her life’s experiences, which is refreshing. She is so detailed in her experiences as if to say, “here I am standing completely naked for all to see my flaws, weaknesses, and insecurities”, and yet somehow this doesn’t make her seem weak, helpless, tawdry or even pathetic.

I am not completely through the book, but so far I can tell you it’s been a fantastic book to read. There are parts you just savor, then there are parts that leave you hungry for more, and even parts that leave you pondering. Overall I would consider this a must read book if for nothing else than the humanistic experience which is both so simple and yet so complicated. There is no doubt we are fascinating creatures to say the least.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Feet

Last Thursday evening Amira and I were so excited because we were finally going to see Mixed Up Me and Angela after a dry spell. With school back in session and Angela’s theater rehearsals our time isn’t as flexible as it is during the summer, so we managed to squeeze in a little time together.

I’m not sure who was more thrilled Amira or myself, but regardless we were excited. When I told Amira we were meeting them the first thing she said was is, “which Starbucks are we meeting at?” I was embarrassed and thrilled at the same time because first I was so proud of her memory skills and then second embarrassed that she equates the four of us with Starbucks. Anyway, we got to Starbucks and Mixed Up Me and I immediately start catching up as we knew the clock is ticking, and Amira and Angela started playing as well. Watching them out of the corner of my eye I could see they were practicing something, but wasn’t quite sure what it was. All I knew was they were ripping the place apart, they weren’t disturbing patrons, they were not screaming and Mixed Up Me and I were able to catch up---all signs of a successful Starbucks visit. :-)


When our time was wrapping up the girls came over and said they wanted to show us something. They wanted to show us the penguin dance, which of course is a made up name as well as a made up dance. Angela asked Amira if she was ready, and she said she wasn’t because she wanted to dance with Brandon. Whoever Brandon is???? However, Angela being the good sport she is agreed to assume the role of Brandon. And with that said I leave you this quick little clip I was able to capture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nYbDW9JLyo



Friday, October 12, 2007

Eid Al-Fitar

Eid Mubarak!

Blessings to you and your families.


May the precious blessings of Allah fill your life with peace, love and joy! May we remember to keep our feet firmly planted, but to live with our hearts open. May we always feel the constant love and mercy of Allah.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Resimay (Resume)

Deer Sir,
I waunt to apply for the reporter job what I saw in the paper. I can Type real quik wit one finggar and do sum a counting.


I think I am good on the phone and no I am a pepole person, Pepole really seam to respond to me well. Certain men and all the ladies.


Im lookin for a Jobb as a reporter but it musent be to complicaited.


I no my spelling is not to good but find that I Offen can get a job thru my persinalety. My salerery is open so we can discus wat you want to pay me and wat you think that I am werth.


I can start imeditely. Thank you in advanse fore yore anser.


hopifuly Yore best aplicant so farr.


Sinseerly,
BRYAN nikname Beefy


PS : Because my resimay is a bit short - below is a pickture of me. .. .. ...

















Employer's response:.....

Dear Beefy-I mean Bryan,

It's OK honey, we've got spell check. You're hired.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Three In One

UPDATE - ADDED PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
Sunday was going to be a fascinating day touching on the three major religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) with an ever, slight assuming dash of Buddhism in a most unusual fashion.

Well yesterday was a fascinating day for us. It started out late morning with my parents picking Amira and I up to take us to a Jewish bazaar. A strange thought crossed my mind “going to a Jewish temple on a Sunday, which is generally considered a Sabbath day for Christians”, but what the heck I had never been and had always wondered about stepping through the temple doors. What better way to experience it than through a bazaar? It wouldn’t entail a service in Hebrew, which would somehow just sound like someone clearing their throat or some other inaudible sound to my untrained ears. So, I was thrilled at exploring this unchartered arena.

The whole premise behind us going to this bazaar was to watch my parents’ neighbor perform an ancient Japanese drum ritual. Funny, huh? Going to a Jewish temple to witness an ancient Japanese drum ritual. Does this mean we some how blended Buddhism with Judaism? Who knows?

My parents’ neighbors, Mark (Japanese) and Jenny (I believe Irish), converted to Judaism 20 years ago, hence one of the reasons we were going to the temple. Mark is also a competitor of this ancient Japanese drumming ritual, which his group was asked to perform at this bazaar. As an aside, they were absolutely fabulous.


There was also a petty zoo and pony ride area in the back of the temple, which consisted of a few ponies, a couple of sheep tied to a fence and a little caged area that had a duck, couple of chickens and a couple of rabbits that formed the “petty zoo”. Of course keeping with Jewish tradition (I know there will be those out there that blast me for this stereotype, but what the hell it’s my blog) charged us $3 for Amira to go around a perimeter the size of an individual parking spot—twice. We could have paid the full price of $5 to have someone using his or her personal camera to take her picture on the pony, but we passed as I had strategically positioned myself to snap her photo without being caught.
Oh I have so many other stereotypical comments running through my head, but feel that out of respect for my fellow human brethrens I will just keep them to myself.

Being that it was Sunday, one cannot help but recall that this great country of ours was founded on the principals of Christianity, so allowed my mind to co-mingle the thoughts of Christianity principles with that of the Jewish principles and smiled knowing that I was free to do so.

Amira and I returned around 2:00 in the afternoon and decided to take a nap. We had plans to be somewhere that evening at 6:30, so wanted to make sure we were both well rested for this upcoming event.

At 6:00 Amira had awakened from her nap and we quickly got ready to go. We were going for the first time ever to break our fast at one of our local mosques, and I was thrilled beyond words. I had never broke fast with anyone beside myself and now Amira, so was so excited I felt like a little kid.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Sharif’s (the local jeweler) and the owner Mamoud, always the gracious gentleman, extended an invitation to Amira and I to attend the mosque on Sunday to break fast with him, his family and the community. He and his family were hosting the evening meal. I told him I had driven by the mosque so many times, actually drove in the parking lot a couple of times, but just couldn’t bring myself to go in as I’m was so extremely shy. Again, in his ever, gentlemanly way, he lowered his voice to a soft tone, his big brown eyes even seemed to melt, and said “please come. Don’t be shy. I will introduce you to my wife. It will be myself, my family, and all the people that work here with me. You know them. You and Amira will not be alone. Please come.” How could anyone refuse such a gracious request?

So here we were, driving into the mosque parking lot with hundreds of people already there. Now mind you, I’m so self-conscious because I’m a blonde haired, blue-eyed American who could never be confused with anything else other than being an American. I am the poster child for the All-American looking girl. And of course I feel like every Muslim here is of some Arab background, although logically I know that is not true. How stereotypical, once again, to presume all Muslims are Arabs. We know that statistically that is not true, but right now it’s me in a sea of beautifully dark haired, big round dark-eyed, wonderfully olived colored skinned individuals (Amira included with them) and me---whitey. :-)

I’m thrilled because Mamoud, who I know as Sharif, fell out of the sky in front of Amira and I just as we enter the doors to greet us. Ok, ok, logically yes I stood out like a sore thumb with my deer in the headlights look and all the other stuff I described above, so I was easy for him to spot, but with that being said I didn’t have to venture too far in the doors, fearful, before he immediately was there to put my nerves at ease.

He settled us at a table with his family/friends and near where he would be. He always checked on us throughout the evening to ensure we were ok. We met the most wonderful people and immediately felt like we were with family, alhamdullilah.

They served us the most incredible lentil soup, which Amira devoured. One thing I can tell you about Amira is that she loves food with such a passion as opposed to an obsession. Food is a pleasurable exploration, but not an addictive drug that she needs to survive. Unlike perhaps many of us, self included, that has learned to have a love/hate relationship with food. I’ve learned so much from Amira in the short 4 years she’s been with me that it’s just unbelievable. Words cannot thoroughly express the gratitude I’ve given God for such a beautiful blessing.

After our soup, then we were to get in line and get our main meal. The adults at our table told me they had pizza for Amira if she wanted, to which I said “no, Amira prefers the other food over pizza”. They were delightfully shocked. Amira waited at our table while I gathered our meal. They had such an array of assorted foods that one couldn’t help but want everything. I settled for the rice, hummus, falafel, pita, salad and chicken. As soon as I returned to the table Amira dove right in and started savory the wonderful morsels. Literally this food just tickled our palettes and melted on our tongues. It was heavenly.

Dinner finished and the Imam, whom I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about, got up and spoke briefly and as expected delivered a very exquisite message. While he was speaking, men were carrying a tray from table to table handing out the most tantalizing dessert I had ever tasted in my life (I have no idea what it was beyond scrumptious). When the Imam finished speaking, I thought it would be time to go, but unbeknownst to me while I was listening to him speak, they (the unseen individuals) were placing yet another round of food on the tables behind us. It was when Amira tapped me on the arm, looking past me at the tables filled with food and signing to me that she was hungry, which I could hardly believe after seeing what she had already eaten, I turned around to find the tables filled with the most colorful display of fruit I had ever seen.


We got in line to fill yet another plate of morsels for her. She decided on watermelon and an orange slice. You could literally see the delight in her eyes as she slowly placed each piece in her mouth and let it roll around in there capturing all of the sweetness fruit has to offer.

Once finished, we graciously thanked our host, Sharif, for such a memorable evening, to which of course he has no idea how memorable of an evening it was for me.


Before falling asleep, I recapped the days events and could only thank God with teared filled eyes for such a wonderful day, for the blessings He bestowed upon us, for the health and wellness of my family and friends, and for the continual love He bestows upon Amira and I on a daily basis.

I just love the little boy - he's so serious.
video

Mark (Neighbor) behind woman in front.
video

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ordinary Night Turned Extraordinary

Last night Amira and I were watching Oprah, and her guest of the evening was a woman named Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote a book entitled Eat, Pray, Love. The entire show was devoted to this woman’s soul-searching journey. Of course, one cannot grasp such a journey in a one-hour episode filled with endless commercials, but there were key things in this segment that captured my attention. It goes without saying that I’ll be getting this book as my latest read as I found her very interesting.

There were so many things that captured my attention, but one of them that seemed so very profound were the three things she did everyday.

One, when she wakes up she writes in her journal the same question, “What do I really, really, really want?” Then she writes the answer that comes to her. She said after doing this for a period of time one truly finds out what it is they are seeking in this life and will help them to focus on gaining it. For me, I see this as an opportunity to deepen my faith with God. For me it’s not about financial gain, about worldly gains, or anything of that sort, but of a much deeper understanding and connection---for there is nothing more uplifting, more satisfying, more rewarding, or more everlasting than that connection with Allah.

Second, she meditates. Again, I looked at this as spending time in uninterrupted prayer---communion with God. Stilling our minds, our thoughts, our movements, and our hearts long enough to be connected, which certainly requires practice. We busy ourselves so much that even sometimes during praying it’s easy to let our mind drift if just for a second and then collect again to focus. Remaining still and silent for me is definitely something I must continually work on. For years, I was afraid to be still and silent because that meant I would be alone with just myself, and that frightened me. I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t like the things that had happened to me. I didn’t want to be reminded of those things and didn’t want to be reminded of who I was. At first, it seemed like force to do such things as sit and be silent. Then, it became easy to justify life was too busy, so avoided it, but the pining was always beckoning me to come back. It was/is during the wee hours of the early morning when the sun has not yet risen that I could/can allow myself to sit in silence….to allow myself not to rationalize the situation, to not talk myself out of the moment, to not be anywhere else but at that very moment. It has become the sweetest tenderest moments of my existence. There was no judgments, no criticism, no sarcasm……..just me, the stillness, the silence and God.

Elizabeth then shared the third thing she does, which was at the end of everyday she writes something that she was grateful for in her day. I loved the fact that she was genuine and admitted some days are just plain crappy, but she still looked for something good in it. Even if it was feeling the sun shine on her shoulder as she was getting her mail out of her mailbox…..for her it was everything because it meant she was alive. How often do we forget we are alive? How often do we walk around in either depressed state or state of unconsciousness? How often do we wish we were more than what we were or desired more than what we have, only to leave us feeling empty and despaired?

It is always the little things that get overlooked. Why? Maybe because we don’t see them as significant or maybe we just don’t see them because we are always focused on something that should be grander in form. I know I’ve definitely been guilty of this on a number of occasions in my life. I just wonder if seeing the little things would give us a greater since of being right here and right now, rather than the bigger things that are always somewhere out in the future. This certainly doesn’t mean not to have goals, set priorities or have dreams…..no, not at all, those things are necessary. I think it just reminds us to remember that the only thing we have is right NOW, so enjoy it completely.

This morning when I woke up with no intentions of really doing anything but hanging out with Amira, I decided to write for the first time, “What do I really, really, really want?” My answer was “That unexplainable soul connection with another human”, and then just went about my business.

Going through some email, I received an email along with a video clip that afforded me a glimpse of that answer to my earlier posed question….’the unexplainable soul connection to another human’.

Email read - This is amazing.........

This is a story about a guy, who, like most of us is probably an everyday sort of person, maybe questioning his existences, measuring himself to others, never believing in his abilities or his worth.

Then one day, his passion outgrew his fears as he stepped onto a stage, a stage that took him to a place beyond his self imposed prison.

Watch the faces of the judges as this guy walks out on the stage. You can
Almost see what they’re thinking as they pre-judge this guy based on his looks
And the fact that he’s a cell phone salesman.

It seems this guy stopped believing in what people told him for so many years
and ultimately started listening to his passion.

P.S. I know Brave Heart shared this with us over the summer, but for some reason it moved me even more now than then, and then it was very moving.

Friday, October 5, 2007

THE STELLA AWARDS

Proof of entitlement mentality

It's time again for the annual "Stella Awards"! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico where she purchased the coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?

That's right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stella's for the past year:

7TH PLACE:
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store’s owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

6TH PLACE:
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.

Go ahead, grab your head scratcher.

5TH PLACE:
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT, days on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish.

Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish. Keep scratching. There are more...

4TH PLACE:
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Grrrrr ... Scratch, scratch.

3RD PLACE:
Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions?

Scratch, scratch, scratch. Hang in there; there are only two more Stella’s to go...

2ND PLACE:
Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh, yeah,plus dental expenses. Go figure.

1ST PLACE:
(May I have a fanfare played on 50 kazoos please)This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Color IS GOOD!

Maxine's recent doctor visit
Yesterday I went to the doctor for my yearly physical. My blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was high, I'd gained some weight, and I didn't feel so hot. My doctor said eating right doesn't have tobe complicated and it would solve my physicalproblems. He said just think in colors...Fill your plate with bright colors... greens, yellows, reds, etc.

I went right home and ate anentire bowl of :

And sure enough, I felt better immediately. I never knew eating right could be so easy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

G & G Pumpkin Patch

Grandpa pulling Amira to their pumpkin patch
My parents first time to grow pumpkins - These are called Cinderella Pumpkins
Patch of Pumpkins
Grandpa cutting the first pumpkin from the vine
Farmer Brown
Mrs. Farmer Brown
Grandpa handing Amira the pumpkin to put in wagon
Amira counting the pumpkins
Amira hauling a pumpkin to the wagon
Ahhhhhhh the crop
The final count was 17 - 3 missing from bunch because they are in our car. :-)
Amira ready to drive the quad to the garage to clean the pumpkins