I need a Hero

Of course, if you are an 80s kid, you are thinking of this song right about now. Watch Video

Heroism. What is it?

What makes A hero ?
Is it someone who leaps tall buildings in a single bound?
Or is a hero a person that knows the right thing to do, or say?

My daughter says her dad is her hero.

She defines a hero as someone who helps other people. Do Armed Forces Heroes give life for country? Or maybe they are heroes for joining and showing up.

Being killed or dying unexpectedly, becomes more of a criminal act. I was quite inspired to write about this topic after Mark Hare, spoke at First Unitarian Church last month. His service is listed on his blog.

It’s in many of us – not born on a distant planet. It’s part of who someone is.

People who are heroes don’t think of themselves as heroes but its based on the decisions they made in their lives.

Everyday heroes – the Webster firefighters

I was one of the many in my community to be shocked & horrified by the actions of a lone gunman on Christmas Eve 2012. Read Article

To think about the men and women I have given speeches to over the past two years at the Fill the Boot Drives … I was speechless. Firemen are very much a big part of fundraising for the MDA.

These men and women who run into buildings to rescue people and animals are true heroes. Not because of their bravery but because of their strength of character.

You will be missed.

Prayers and Support for Webster Firefighters

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Honest Delusions

The title of my post comes from an amazing sermon I heard at church last week from a retired newspaper reporter. At the FIrst Unitarian Church of Rochester, we have taken on a “Provocateur-in-Residence,” named Mark Hare, formerly of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Hare’s first sermon was “The Honest Person’s Honest (Even Noble) Delusions” and just blew me away. (Listen here: streaming | download ) He talked about how all people put up delusions about all sorts of things. Putting self imposed limits on ourselves that sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing, until someone else points it out. For example, telling yourself you’re too old or too busy to go back to school or to take a new job, then someone else tells you that, well No in fact you can do it because of X, Y & Z. Then you think – well yeah, of course I could do that!

The part that astonished ME was when Hare started talking about his friend with cancer, near the end of his talk. Mike & I just kept looking at each other because we knew how it felt to “deal” with a terminal illness. This friend with terminal cancer, was told he would have 6 months to live. He just kept living his life. He made plans to play music and travel and kept living. You would think he never remembered he was dying. But it was not true. As Hare puts it, he had that stuff in the “closet” until he could deal with it. He didn’t live his life as a dying person, he lived it as a living person, and every so often he’d check in that “closet.”

Well the night before this we were watching Doctor Who’s Episode “Night Terrors,” where a frightened “little boy” kept all the scary things in the cupboard! (cupboard=closet) And since he was actually an alien being, they were really going into the cupboard. Even little kids can understand putting scary stuff away from sight!

I can relate to both these stories. Yes I have ALS, with no cure, that continually progresses, but I have chosen to live my life as a person who gets up, gets dressed and goes to work. I shove that horrible news I have that I will someday not be able to do anything back into the closet until I can deal. Occasionally, I do take it out and remind myself to enjoy each day that I have as it comes. I don’t think our human minds can handle knowing that sickness will wear you down and death is coming. That dark place will freak you out.

The best part was sharing this service with Mike, who gladly, already knew I was not acting in self denial but in a place that moves me forward in life. Which I guess keeps my body motivated to live as well.

The State We Are In

Finally my family and I are making it back to church. I find it hard during the winter months. Plus I usually get some horrible sinus thing that REALLY knocks me out now that I am unable to cough. Anyway, the service was pretty powerful. It brought the news in the world and in our country right to my ears. I try to avoid news. It’s usually bad and tends to depress me. The Trayvon Martin shooter  (the 911 transcripts are telling) and the Afghan rampage, that I tried to not care about, smacked me in the face on Sunday. Then the Wise Rev. Jen told her story in the sermon (Going to the Balcony) about fearing for her family because she was in the country with her wife and kids and getting stared at by the locals. Also the bits & pieces I’ve read about college girls getting call sluts from grown men, I’m starting to feel like the US is really slipping. I wonder if all the right wing rhetoric is really having an adverse affect on everyone. I’m starting to think that people like Rush Limbaugh and that Beck guy are just hate mongers. They should be charged with infighting hate crimes! They rally people to do their bidding in their small worlds. Do they not know that an ENTIRE WORLD is out there? People have banded together in other countries by utilizing social media. I think it’s time for the real Americans of the United States to say “knock it the fuck off.” Peace.

The world has gone crazy (or how governments get overthrown)

In my “day job” I’ve been spending a lot of time on Tweetdeck watching all our Twitter accounts. I should say that I’ve really just been watching the world revolutionize! Of course most of it is coming from NPR’s Andy Carvin! In the course of my workday, I’m seeing average people around the world using their phones – overthrowing regimes! Mixed in with tweets from The Onion, Duran Duran & Alyssa Milano, were these retweets from real people, talking about protesting to change their government. First it was Egypt, then Libya… Real humans talking about what is going on there at that very moment… Women & children being woken up in the wee hours with tear gas and rubber bullets!

Do these regimes not understand that this life is one of a global consciousness?

On to something less heavy…

…like God & Spirituality!

After all, this blog is about my spiritual journey as well!

I started out as any good WASP, going to Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church of Wheatland (aka Scottsville Union Presbyterian Church) . My mother’s family went to the church as did my cousins that still lived in the area. When I think about church — THIS is the one I know the most. Between weddings and funerals and great Christmas Eves, I fondly remember this church.

There were really only 2 negative memories. (I did get yelled at for shooting a scene for my Dracula movie in college without permission on the grounds there, but that hardly counts! Oh, yeah… I also looked up the minister’s robe to see what he had on under there.) Once, when I had to be baptized when I was 7 because my Catholic father would not allow my mom to baptize me as a baby. When she was divorced she had it done. I just felt really stupid standing there being baptized with all these babies! The other time was when I was elementary school age, maybe 1st or 2nd grade, I couldn’t understand why we had to read these parts of the service where we say how we’re sorry we’ve sinned and done bad things in unison. I remember thinking, “What have I done? I’m just a kid? I haven’t committed any great sin! Why am I saying this stuff?” I felt I was a pretty good girl for the kind of life I had lived through already.

When my mom remarried we moved. We eventually attended the Arcade United Methodist Church. There were no Presbyterian churches around there. Mom said this was a lot like our other church and that when Grandma went there, it was a Methodist church. Honestly, I really don’t know what the difference is even today. The believed in Jesus and doing the right thing for others. At the time we started, the minister was Native American. He had great stories to tell before the kids went off to Sunday school. By the time I was in adolescence, I REALLY didn’t want to go to church anymore. Mom & I would fight about this. Finally she conceded. (I found out later in life that she wished she’d pushed for it more and that she felt that she somehow failed me.)

My close girlfriends in the neighborhood had tried practicing magik for a short time. We were able to do some minor things, but it freaked us out so much that we didn’t do it anymore!

So then, Senior year in High School comes. Some friends of mine were leaving the school when another classmate crashes into them – right in front of the school. I remember I was staying over at a friend’s house when we heard the news. Someone died. It was a boy I had been friends with for many years and had a HUGE crush on. I was shocked. He promised he would take me to the prom. My friends were all crying and upset. I didn’t cry. I consoled them. Until, of course, after the wake.

I know that my friends were trying to be helpful. I did not want to see his dead body in the casket wearing that red sweater that he looked so handsome in. I wanted to remember him alive. After they dragged me to the casket and I saw him lying there like a big doll and saw the 3 roses my mom gave to him in our names (Chris, Tami & Joy), I just couldn’t take it. We went to the car to head over to the funeral at the Catholic church, and I wept. Deep serious weeping. I cried all the way there and through the entire service. How shameful that such an amazing person – who was a year younger than us all –  was dead, taken so quickly. I listened to that service and thought “No. No way is there a God. There is no possible reason that this sweet boy had to die.”

I rejected the priest’s eulogy. And that day, I also rejected the notion of God.

My First Buddhist Retreat – Day 3: 7-25-10

Sunday

Ugh — today is sooo sluggish. All I want is sleep! My roomies are early birds. They were up BEFORE the bell. (Bell rings at 6am – this time I actually heard the bell as I was already awake.)

We broke the rules by whispering in the kitchen. It’s a HUGE kitchen! We don’t know how all the things work in there!

It’s another rainy day. Which is fine by me. Yesterday was hot for that outdoor walking meditation. I’m going to skip it today. I kept falling asleep during meditation afterwards.

Now it’s sunny again. I got my stuff mostly packed. I planned on doing that at the 2pm walking meditation, but I want to get it all together while I’m still able to move around.

Almost time to head back up for teaching/meditation.

One thing I learned from last night, for sure, is Anam is just a guy. That’s it. Which is really all he is saying. “Hey, I’m just a guy – you can do this too!” That, to me, is more authentic than most of these folks here could ever dream of being.

Finished lunch — Pizza! O my god! These people know how to cook! Everything is just so delicious. I wish they could come home & cook all my meals!

This mornings teachings were spot on. He practically named me as someone who profoundly effected him this weekend! Someone who was dying told him they want to live the rest of their lives with awareness. Unless one of the other 3 people were dying, who else can it be? I made sure to listen & not fall asleep.

I just got yelled at for turning the lights on while I snapped a pic on my phone.

My space at Stillwood 1

My space at Stillwood 2

 

THESE WERE TAKEN WITH THE LIGHTS OFF

Well, gees, didn’t hear me complain when you guys woke me up so early. OK so clearly I have some more work to do here. Today is my last day.

This evening we’re having people “Take Refuge.” I think I will do it.

Look up book: Taming the Tiger Within by Thich Nat Hanh — great quotes about death – would like for funeral.

I’m gonna do it! I’m gonna vow to be one with the light  — oh wait — I don’t think I have that correct.  I’m taking refuge. Dedicating myself to moving ahead to find awareness & pass it on.

I did it! I vowed to practice non-violence, to be true to the dharma & commit to the sangha. Or… you should just probably read this Refuge in the Three Jewels. I cried during the ceremony. I opened my heart to let it all in.

This is the last night! I hope I get time to actually speak to some of these people. (Mostly ladies.)

I can’t stop coughing now. Great. The head lama (Ani Trime) just handed me a cough drop. It’s cherry. Bleh. I didn’t know those robes had pockets!

I finally asked about the Prayer Wheel! What a nice idea! Thanks, Larry for the talk!

Well that was pretty much it for my journal (Thanks, Lynne!) After the last meditation session we were all able to talk again so us weekenders could say our goodbyes. It was funny to be talking again and Wendi & I could finally hang out and chat. She stayed the whole week. Maybe next time I could too.

Everyone was so incredibly helpful. Sue brought my bags to my car. Larry had wrapped a gift for me to take back home. It was a beautiful Tibetan mat with with, I think, the silver plate and scissors used in the ceremony. Wendi walked me to my car. So nice and peaceful.

Of course then I made a wrong turn (it was dark when I left) and was lost for 30 mins in the dark forest. I stuck it together and did not panic. Finally I saw NEWARK! I knew I was safe. Who knew Newark was so big? I’d only been to Tom Wahl’s! Once I saw the Tom Wahl’s sign I knew I was on my way home.

So exhausted after a weekend of meditation!

My First Buddhist Retreat – Day 2: 7-24-10

Saturday

I’m starting to feel like the woman from Eat Pray Love. My inner dialogue is driving me CRAZY!

Just had dish duty. Yuk! I hate washing dishes. At least it was only breakfast. My new friend Wendi, has been helping me a lot. She used to watch Nik in the toddler room at church.

Got through a couple more hours of meditation. Anam is a funny guy.

Some thoughts have come up… If life & death are concepts — then what is the truth? (Reality?)

I don’t like to eat & be silent. Eating is for Community!

I’d like to know what the deal is with the prayer wheel.
– Can anyone spin it?
-What’s it for?

Boy it is hot in this sitting area…but cooler than outside.

Oh I don’t know how I’m gonna do this walking meditation at 2pm. I don’t know if it’s on the trails or what. I need an arm to do that.

How does Beth do it? She looks so happy. Beth is my other new friend who suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down. She’s in a wheelchair & she doesn’t let it stop her. I must keep in touch with her afterwards.

I wish I brought my camera. I guess it’s just as well. Keep me off my electronics.

OK walking meditation OVER. That was tricky — especially with all the obstacles on the floor. We went outside. I walked by the garden — just beautiful — recognized lots of plants & flowers, too. They arrange it all so nicely. I made a beeline right to the shade trees. I wonder if the bark was supposed to do that peeling? At least the walk was only 45 minutes. I wish it wasn’t so hot outside. Nice & cool in here in the meditation room. I could use a nap. I wonder when my brain will stop the crazy rambling?!

Oh my goodness — I fell asleep during this afternoon’s teaching/meditation! I then rested afterwards and almost missed the next session!

I got someone in my room now. Don’t know who they are but they took the box of tissues as her own! Grrr…

I guess I’ll see Anam. I can’t imagine what to say.

What a delicious dinner! Pesto & gazpacho! Yum! Kudos to Savory Thyme! Of course, I couldn’t help but think that lunch’s salsa became tonight’s soup! (Thanks, Micah!)

Looks like I’ll be meeting Anam tonight. What am I gonna say? I need guidance to see myself through this illness? I know I’m seeking guidnace — I’m not sure how to ask. Maybe they told him I’m dying. How to proceed…

Oh yeah — and I saw my awareness tonight during Anam’s guided meditation!

Well — I saw him… and … I CRIED. I could barely get it out… & I’m all runny nose, tears coming down — uh what a mess! Smart guy. He told me to turn that DESIRE to live to INTENTION to awareness & enlightenment. He says it’s there — it’s always there. Just need to accept it. Dive in. The body is just a guesthouse. Well, glad that’s over.

My First Buddhist Retreat – Day 1: 7-23-10

For my 40th birthday I decided to go on a retreat. I chose to try this: Residential Retreat
with Anam Thubten Rinpoche
put on locally by Rochester’s Dharmata Meditation Sangha. (Last year I saw Anam at the UU church and bought his book. Excellent read.) I wrote this entries the good old fashioned way — on a pad of paper with a PEN.

Friday

1/2 day maybe…

I’m staying in the Sewing Room. I feel a little bad that I’m all by myself, but also feel kinda relieved. I met a nice lady in a wheelchair named Beth. She seems to be taking me under her wing. I have alot of questions for her after this retreat! Luckily, she lives near me.  I’ve turned off my phone. No internet or TV. I brought my book of poetry by Rumi (thanks, Irene!). Right now it’s just me and caney. (My cane.)

This place has quite a history! Visit Stillwood Study Center for more info.

The Sewing Room is HUGE. I don’t know what or who uses this place for sewing. There’s also paper & art supplies. Cool.

Looks like I gotta wash & dry ther dishes as my yoga karma duty. Of course, right? (I hate washing dishes!)

I’m ready for a nap & I just got here!

Turns out I know some people here from church. Kinda cool. They are taking good care of me. Even JoEllen put in a good word for me to meet Anam! I don’t know what I’d even say to him.

I must be going to the meditation now.

That was fast! I didn’t know time could fly by so fast! Now it’s time for bed. Lights out &  NO MORE TALKING until I leave Sunday!

Authentic

This word just keeps coming up over and over these days. Living authentically, being authentic. Being your authentic self. Authentic tweets! What does it all mean? Or more importantly — who ISN’T living this way?

authentic Definition

Am I real? Are you real? Of course  in Buddhism, nothing is real and is not real!

I’d like to think I am an authentic person. I try to live my life the same way as my values. It doesn’t ALWAYS line up that way. I’m only human … and humans are … fallible.

I dislike dishonesty. Brutal honesty is not always the best way, I know. But just come out with it people!

I know several people who do nothing but live for someone else or for other people’s ideas constantly. They are miserable. What good is that? You only get THIS life.

Live NOW! You never know when you’ll be diagnosed with a terminal illness or killed unexpectedly.

I want to continue to live my beliefs, for as long as I am alive. I want to eat cheese and chocolate and drink wine ANYTIME I CHOOSE. I want to love  – and express it – to everyone I love. There isn’t time for “maybe someday”.

Live your life authentically NOW. No bullshit. Just be honest with everyone and most importantly, yourself. Live simply, simply live.

Woe is me

Now, I’m not trying to get lots of sympathy here. I’m really not! I’d like to think the title of this post is really just full of sarcasm. The rest of the post is not.

I’ve been sick. First we thought it was asthma, then anxiety, then plantar fasciitis, lots of physical therapy (land and pool) but after years of not walking right, not walking up stairs and falling down, I finally went to a neurologist. I get my results from all my testing, supposedly, Monday, March 15, 2010.

I’m more than a bit nervous. Especially today after getting a call from the doctor’s asking if I want to come in TOMORROW and then getting mail form the office as well. Both turned out to be routine type things.

I hadn’t been thinking about March 15th for a while! Although, I KNOW my mom is. She’s praying for me. My mom’s cousin even took a photo of me to the laimas in India so they can pray for me. I’m sure many of my friends and family and even coworkers are all sending prayers in my direction. I’m honored and I thank everyone. Hey, it can’t hurt, right?

Now I’ve been obsessing for years on what MIGHT be wrong with me. Could be a pinched nerve or something like that, OR it could be ALS or MS. Now those last two frighten me. They make me have my life flash before my eyes. I don’t want to miss my kids growing up to be bright strong women and give me grandkids. I don’t want to leave my husband without his partner. I have SO MUCH that I want to accomplish as well. I’m not sure I can bear the news if it’s bad.

I am sick & tired of being sick & tired. I want to know. I need to know. I’m sick of people asking me if I’m pregnant because I’m gaining weight and I walk wobbly. I tired of falling down everywhere where I can’t get up and need strangers to help me get back up. I can’t take care of my house and my family the way I used to. I can’t even run after my 4 year old to play a game of chase.

So for the last 2 weeks, while I wait for this appointment on Monday, I try not to think about it. Or I joke about it. Granted, the meds help. I will take this time to NOT fret and to enjoy the next few days with my family. I will NOT be attached to any outcome.