Category Archives: culture

Eclipse

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DSCN0194Last week an event of astronomical proportions occurred when a total eclipse of the sun was seen through a broad swath of the continental US and in partial elsewhere. An eclipse happens when the earth, moon and sun align, normally when the moon is in  crescent stage (according to the science tech who spoke at the gathering I attended to watch this event). The moon slowly encroaches on the sun until it fully covers it for several moments, leaving only a small bright circle of light as the sun tries to unsuccessfully maintain its superior stance in the heavens. In other words, a much smaller, seemingly dead asteroid has the ability to entirely block an enormous ball of burning flame from view, change the daylight to twilight and drop the temperature some significant degrees. That’s pretty cool.

I have always loved the mystery of space and the stars and have often been accused of having my head lost in them. As a young teen enthralled with such TV shows as Star Trek and later the iconic world of Star Wars, traveling to the stars was always an absolute dream of mine. I was determined to become an astronaut until I was undermined by my own inability to master high level math and science classes. Alas, my trip to the stars would only ever be real in my vast imagination bolstered by books and films.

What is it about our dreams that make us believe they are attainable? When we are

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Dreamcatcher by Pexels via Pixabay

young, the sky’s the limit until someone tells you it is not. We can have absolute faith, unshakable and true, that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to until we bump up against reality. Now that is not true of everyone. There are those who knew right away what they were meant to be and have achieved those goals. But I see that as kind of an eclipse; all the stars aligned for that person to make that dream happen. And yet despite that realization, I have never given up on having dreams. What is true is that as flexible humans we can adjust our dreams so that they are attainable. Or perhaps it is ourselves that we adjust to be more in line with our dreams. Like that determined little moon, it is possible to find yourself having your moment in the sun with the greatest of satisfaction and accomplishment. The real trick to dream attainment is discovering who you really are.

In that respect I believe it is important to follow your heart’s demands because more often than not it brings you to the place where you are supposed to be for the dream to evolve. The dream in my 20’s was to work in film and live in Hollywood. That I lived in northern Canada in a small town thousands of miles and a lifetime away from such a dream didn’t stop me. Once I got to Hollywood and started working on the dream, the bump against reality was jolting.  I did not expect it to be easy but it did not take me long to learn that much of the promise of Hollywood is as opaque as the smog that covers it. In a city built on fantasy, image counts, body type and hair color counts, speech and words (but not necessarily truth) counts. Talent really doesn’t register until you’ve been lucky enough to get a few jobs and even then it might not count.

Yet I have no regrets, not one. I grew up in Hollywood, I had fun in Hollywood and yes even got to meet the actor who played one of those fictional Star Trek characters I admired so much. I also met some lifelong friends and the man I would marry and raise a family with. And yes, the dream changed. I realized I was very good at listening to people, pinpointing what they trying to express and able to give them ideas to help with their particular concern or question. I went back to school and got my degree. One dream eclipsed another. That happened to be the right one for me but it could not have happened if I had not followed the one that wasn’t quite right for me.

Today is the last day of August as autumn begins to eclipse summer. Perhaps life is just a series of eclipses and our job is to find that brilliant circle in each event to mark our life’s unique journey. Sometimes it’s hard to know what each transition might mean especially when the darkness encroaches. I think of what the people of Texas are experiencing now in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. How devastating to think about rebuilding their lives let alone just surviving the event. Yet everywhere in that disaster is evidence that love has eclipsed hate. People have come together to help each other and there is seems to be no divide in the common goal of saving lives.

Maybe the universe was trying to tell us something a week ago Monday when millions trained their eyes to the sky. Mother Nature knows how to get our attention as she has proven once again with this cataclysmic hurricane.  We need to pay attention if we are to survive. There always seems to be a light in every moment of darkness. We are human and as such we have amazing capacity to rise again. If we can hold out over those moments of darkness, that sun will start to reveal itself again. Time to let go of all this hate and discourse. Time for the next eclipse.

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Eclipse by ipicgr via Pixabay

Tattoo

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20170613_192600I have a confession to make. I just got my second tattoo. It’s the symbol of a  lotus flower with it’s roots deep in the mud. I chose that symbol based on the Buddhist belief that without mud you will not get a lotus flower. In other words, the beauty of our life is grown out of the proverbial mud we must slog through to find what is truly important in our lives.

As a younger person I never thought I would be one to get a tattoo. Tattoo’s have certain stigmas attached to them. The person who decides to get one must be wild and even a little dangerous. There are actually some tattoos that scare the heck out of me and I would never want to meet that person in a dark alley. For some reason the tattoo says more about the person then any other attribute. But mostly it is the fact that those with tattoos agree to have a small needle jab ink into our skin to create some amazing works of art that seems to set those without tattoos apart.

Tattoos have been around since the beginning of the human existence or at least for several millennia and possibly longer. Mummified skin has been found in countries spanning the globe and in almost all societies. Tattoos could be status symbols, amulets against evil or for safe childbirth, the product of religious ceremony and culture or the result of the drunken longing of a homesick sailor for his mom. They can also be a symbol of personal rebellion against the status quo or maybe a badge of honor after a life changing experience. If life’s battle scars make one a warrior then maybe getting a tattoo to mark that battle is like a signpost on the road of that person’s life. I have seen tattoos that illustrate the struggles and triumphs that person must have experienced. Of course I have seen just as many butterflies, flowers, skull heads and hearts, random symbols that can only have personal meaning to the one wearing them.

Our family faced a crisis when my son was in high school and it was news that devastated us and thrust us into an alternate reality where the norm was long hospital stays, endless drug therapies and days on end when family members resided in different cities as we fought off that specter. We had just begun to recover from that year long event when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We faced another year similar to the one before but this time I was angry and determined to avoid the disruption we had previously experienced. That was easier said than done. Halfway through the 8 month treatment, I was not so defiant as I fought just to stay above water day to day. My son had moved on to college by that time and carpe diem was the philosophy I watched him follow. So I was not surprised when he called to tell us he was getting a tattoo. Nor was I concerned. In my mind, we had just had the very hard lesson for the past

IMG_1491 (1) two years not to sweat the small stuff and getting a tattoo was definitely in that category. My daughter started her tattoo journey by celebrating her high school graduation and then again for her college graduation.

I got my first tattoo the year after I finished breast cancer treatment. It is the Celtic symbol for healing and that’s just what I wanted for myself and my family. I often forget that I have it because it is located in a place I only see in a mirror. But I recall the prayer I offered up when that ink was being needled into my skin. And I think of the prayer I offered up when the lotus was being tattooed on me as well. Now that is in a place I can see daily so that I can remind myself on those tough days that at the end of it I am likely to find a lotus blooming. Or at least have the faith that there will be one.

Everyone has scars, the worst of which are often hidden. Perhaps tattoos are a way for some to reflect the focus, the work, the energy it takes to move beyond those scars to continue on that long and winding road of life. Tattoos are not for everyone, no doubt. There are many other ways to mark the signposts of our lives or symbolize the fights we have survived. Or to celebrate life’s beauty or the birth of a child or yes, to honor your mom. My family has chosen to wear tattoos and we all have at least one. Maybe that does make us rebellious or wild. I am okay with that if some get that impression. I see it more as my children marking the signposts of the life they have lived and are living, including that time we all traveled together to the edge of the abyss. Thankfully, there was a gloriously blooming lotus flower waiting for us there.

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Photo by vibrantskys via Pixabay

 

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Connections

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strike-51212__340What did we do before social media? Well I know what we did, of course and what we didn’t do. We didn’t know our friends and acquaintances every move, thought, or action punctuated by a thumbs up or a heart emoji. We never saw thousands of photos capturing life in real time, sharing public and private moments that our friend circle and beyond have shared and shared and shared yet again. Snapchats and Instagram exposes life in instant time. And yet the great irony is that with all of this isolating technology, we do feel connected.

I do know what we did back then although I cringe to hear myself refer to the past as if I were withered with age. Life was just a bit quieter and moved at a slower pace although that just seems so in hindsight. At the time, I felt like life was fast. But one could wait for days or weeks for a phone call from a friend. We took so much on faith. No news was good news so our loved ones were fine. And then we had so much to tell each other once we did connect. We spent hours over dinner and drinks talking face to face, catching up on each other’s lives.

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Fractal 19 by Florin Florea

As much as one of my major pet peeves is the practice of staring at one’s cell phone at the same time someone is sitting across from them, waiting for their attention, I must confess I love social media. And it is mostly because I have been allowed to glimpse into my children’s and friends and family’s lives without having to waiting for the phone to ring. Social media lets me see things they like without them having to tell me. I can see what they are passionate about or angry about or events they might attend and even hear their voice in the world as they express their views. Social media is a helicopter parent’s dream!

But as with all seemingly magical gifts, there is a downside. There is a certain level of voyeurism in social media. Friends, family and acquaintances “friend” you and allow you to peek into their lives for better or for worse. Conversely they can peek into yours. It is up to me what I put out into the social media but sometimes more can be exposed then I might want it to be. What need does being a presence on social media fulfill for me? I find it ironic that I feel connection with the most disconnected medium there is.

This is truly a brave new world. We open ourselves up to others in ways never seen before. Sometimes our lives get opened up without our consent. Hacking is a sport, it seems. The goal is to see who can score the biggest revelation about a person or an organization or even a government. Conversely a person can hide who they truly are behind an attractive persona. They can reinvent themselves, be someone completely new. We could all live in an alternative universe with alternative facts. The truth can hide behind the many facades of social media or it can become something entirely different. That certainly seems to be the reality that we find ourselves in now. The irony. How ironic. How I love that word.

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Social Connection by Appanna

But going back to my original question: how did we get along without social media? I can’t even say because we have now lived so long with it.  Social media allows a person to follow another person into places they may not have realized. I am happy to see glimpses of my children as they move through life. A Snap here, an Instagram there. A book that has a face, complete with eyes and ears and a loud loud voice.  A post with a photo worth a thousand words. A Tweet that can uplift or shred a person in just 140 characters.

It’s odd to have an online presence. I can actually Google myself. Social media has allowed me to be a writer. It allows my writing to reach readers from around the globe. I love checking my WordPress analytics to see in which country today’s readers reside. What is more social than having your thoughts and words, your story reach someone thousands of miles away. It is a small world indeed. I relish being able to watch my nieces and nephews and siblings and friends and my children fumble and navigate their way through life.
Yet I must I confess this both excites me and scares the heck out of me. We all open ourselves up in a way that is both brave and reckless. Yet that is the world today and we must keep pace. Which brings me, as always, back to my children. How I love this tenuous thread that keeps us connected. I can still keep them close as I let them go. The irony of that is not lost on me. But I don’t care. I will selfishly and joyfully keep whatever connection to them they  will allow me to. It’s not the only connection and it is most certainly not the most important one. But it is one I am grateful for.