Sunday, February 22, 2009

Two books that pulled me away from the others I was reading

This happens to me a lot - I'm happily reading one book, another catches my eye, and before I know it I'm reading 5 books at a time.

Book Number One:
The First Idea: How symbols, language, and intelligence evolved from our primate ancestors to modern humans. Stanley I Greenspan and Stuart G Shanker. This has it all - sociobiology, emotions & the development of intelligence, and what looks like a good reason to read the whole thing, the final chapter entitled, "Future Evolution: Toward a Psychology of Global Interdependency."

Book Number Two:
The Tao of Equus: A woman's journey of healing and transformation through the Way of the Horse. This book is simply gorgeous, deep, complex and purely simple at the same time. There is a profound synergy between this book and book number one that bounces through my brain and body with delicious energy.

The Book I Haven't Gotten to Yet, that if I do get will probably trump all of these:
Animals Make Us Human: creating the best life for animals. Temple Grandin.

Falling in Love

So my little bro is falling in love (as is his totally cute, sweet, smart gf - can you tell I like her?). It reminds me of when Shane and I fell in love. There was something so right about all of it. I was (and am) tremendously lonely whenever he was gone. I don't know how we survived living in two states for eleven months expect through our utter faith in one another and enormous phone bills. Shane can see me the way no one else can. The thought of not being with him through my life's journey brought me unbearable sorrow and pain and the dream/image/thought of being with him brought a great sense of peace, joy, freedom, and a deep centered power. There's really no other feeling like it. It was a knowing that was deep - body/soul deep - the knowing that overwhelms and confounds the knowing that comes from the brain.

I started thinking about falling in love the other day when I went to my older son's school singing assembly. The fifth graders performed a rap about not smoking (oy!) and one rotund kid came forward, mumbling out a free flowing extended "improv" as cool as could be and another kid got up performed a break dance routine that was straight-up old school. The other kids cheered and boogied in their seats. And I started to cry. Seriously cry, tears of joy flowing down my face. I think what got me was the sense of pride in the whole class as they worked together and enjoyed the skills of their classmates. Each grade performed a song. The first graders (M's class) and the kindergartners sang a very sweet song (more tears): I like being me/and my friends help me see/I'm somebody special/happy as can be./I feel good inside/when I do what's right/I help my friends and family/I like being me. Eli and I cuddled as we watched the performances. And I swear I fell in love with all the kids/teachers/parents/etc in the auditorium.

After taking Eli to his preschool (where I already know I am in love with all his friends and have the hardest time leaving each morning) I came home and listened to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill yet again while doing laundry and grading papers. Hill's song "To Zion" was one of the inspirations for MZ's name. That song never fails to get me crying . . . "And I thank you for choosing me/To come here unto life to be/A beautiful expression of His grace." I know I'm not getting the lyrics exactly right - but this is what I hear. I think so much of the living of life well requires falling in love with life, falling in love over and over again with the people who surround us, with the Earth that sustains us, with the Spiritual powers that nurture us - with everything. Because everything is everything -- L Boogie is absolutely right on that account.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Addicted to the printed word

I have a tendency to read mostly non-fiction. I have a bad habit of reading just the introduction and a chapter or two of many books. But life is too short to waste reading books that don't really grab you. Here are two books that have grabbed me and that I intend to read all the way to the end:

The Forgiving Self: The road from resentment to connection. Robert Karen.

Very accessible and humane discussion of what forgiveness really is - deeply spiritual and realistic.

Enduring Seeds: Native American agriculture and wild plant conservation. Gary Paul Nabhan.

I cannot praise this 20-year old book highly enough. Beautifully written and vitally important information.

Here is another book that I've just started and I have high hopes for:

The Ascent of Money: A financial history of the world. Niall Ferguson.

I've just read the introduction so far. Hopefully it lives up to its ambitions.

I have other books by my bed that I haven't started "really reading" yet. So those will have to wait for another post . . . if they make the cut.

Monday, February 9, 2009


So I had a powerful dream last night. Someone, I'm not sure who, was reading my cards, and pointed to the 12 card and said, very clearly, that's you. I could not actually see the card, I just knew which number it was (this is strange - I usually see things - even read things - in my dreams). The number twelve was just simply stuck in my head when I awoke and I never forgot it. Stranger, I forgot which card in the tarot number 12 was, so I ended up looking it up online at work and, then, remembered and was not surprised.

The twelve card is "the hanged man," which sounds seriously scary but it is not. The hanged man hangs by his feet from a cross. His right is crossed behind his left. His arms are usually immobilized as well. But the man's face is serene and peaceful. The card is often viewed as someone who is "hanging out" between the worlds - not quite part of our work-a-day world, not quite part of the realm of the spirits. I love, love, love Johanna Powell Colbert's version in her Gaian tarot. The hanged man is a woman, standing in tree pose upside down in a tree! The horizon is tilted (I love that part!). I recommend you go see it at her website gaiantarot[dot]com

To me the card is about walking between the worlds, being suspended between the real world of our bodies and eyes, and the other real world of our spirits and energies. Both in touch with what we normally call reality and that other reality of the Spirit, of G-d. I drew this card for myself with my women's group a couple months ago. Apparently that energy is still with me. It makes me happy to think that the walker between the worlds is me.

Also, my Mom's birthday is coming up, February 12. I think the 12 is also connected with her. Love you Mom.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Martha Beck's "Team" thing

So, I've written many posts in my head that never made it to the keyboard. Maybe I'll remember them this weekend. Maybe not.

I've been reading Martha Beck's blog lately ( and I've found it interesting. Martha was a professor of mine at BYU and she had somewhat of a cult following even then. Funny to me how independent feminist types are always looking for a leader (ok, ok, that was a wild generalization that I didn't really mean, sorry). I've read all but Martha's most recent book. I've even hoisted a few copies of "Finding Your Own North Star" on unsuspecting friends. Her ideas have been very useful in my life, but I don't see her as a guru.

Anyway, her idea of a mystical team dedicated to saving the earth was interesting to me because I've known about the team, well at least a team, for a long time. In fact, her recent obsession seems a little late in the game to me, but the more the merrier. Mother Earth needs as many humans as possible paying attention and living lightly upon Her. I liked her talking about the ancestors, but I was surprised she was afraid of them at first. To me, G-d is a collective of beings dedicated to the continuation of life and the joyful enjoyment of the same - i.e. the ancestors. The ancestors came to me most strongly when I was in labor with Michael. The peace of those moments is precious to me.

The funniest thing to me about Martha's writings is how Mormon they are, without her realizing it. Her writing, coaching, everything is about getting in touch with the Spirit, bringing the Comforter's presence. The numinous knowing that she talks about is the same as a "real" testimony, the clear as day knowing what is true and the almost irrepesible need to follow that truth. I'm not really LDS anymore either (see above), but I know G-d when I see them.

In one of the posts, Martha listed certain qualities of people on her team. I realized going through them that I am not one of those people. I am certainly on the save the earth team, I'm just not on her team. And that's okay, because I have my own team, my own tribe.

It turned out to be an interesting exercise for me to respond to the qualities one by one. And, because this is my blog, I'm gonna throw it all out there and see what y'all think!

* You’ve always felt separate and odd, misunderstood by others while having the ability to make them feel understood.

True for many, many years. I feel understood by most people now that I know better how to make myself understood. People do seem to be drawn to me and always have. I believe that people tend to like me because I love them first. There are very, very few people that I have met in this life that I did not like, and even fewer that I do not love.

* You’re haunted by a feeling of having something incredibly important to do, but you don’t know what it is. Over the past couple of years, this feelings has become almost overwhelmingly intense.

True to a point. I had the overwhelming mission sense from childhood through to my mid-thirties. I drove some of my dearest friends in college insane with the “I know I need to do something important” talk. However, the feeling has actually de-intensified in the past few years. The de-intensification seems to have started after I recovered from my illness and got into therapy. I believe the feeling has de-intensified because I am on the right track and don’t need to be prodded as much anymore. At least I hope the spiritual nudges are more subtle now because I catch on quicker and not for some other more sinister reason (I’m ambidextrous, not left-handed - just a little language joke there).

In the O for You conference talk that’s online (go to the "news" section of the Martha site if you are interested), Martha talked about female students coming to her and talking about feeling they had a mission in life. Martha was one of my favorite professors actually -- and I feel like I should be referring to her as professor Beck -- and several of the students who came to her were my friends, but I was not one of the students that came to her. I knew I had a mission in life and wondered how I was going to get there, but it never occurred to me to ask Martha about that, at least not that I’m recalling now.

I do remember Martha wondering why I was so fascinated with bem diagrams of traditional masculine and feminine characteristics in the Western tradition. I was fascinated by them because I didn’t fit in any category and it confirmed what I always knew to be true – that the whole idea of certain personality traits belonging to one gender or another was bunk! The whole idea of a gender dichotomy fascinates me because it has never fit with my experiences with people. Still doesn’t.

*You hate small talk, but find that large talk is not encouraged.

I do dislike hateful small talk. However, I enjoy the kind of small talk that means, “I love you, but I’m too tired to think or speak too deeply. Let’s chat about the weather and just feel good in one another’s presence.” I find large talk wherever I go and whenever I want it, for the most part. The non-encouraging of large talk by the larger culture has never discouraged me!

*You love, love, love animals; in fact, your life feels incomplete unless you’re interacting with animals.

Not true for me. I do like animals, there have been a few special pets that I have loved. Some animals have been very bonded to me and I to them. But it’s not a “love, love, love” thing. I like people in general more than animals, but I don’t find animals to be that different that people, if that makes sense.

*Your childhood and adolescence were difficult. Like really, really difficult—abuse, addiction, years-of-total-despair difficult.

Yes and no. I did have years of great despair but I always fought it off by being true to myself. I felt that I was an “object of scorn” at my elementary and jr high school.I felt very, very alone as a child and thought my parents did not love me. But I did have G-d and a few dear friends (some of whom are still a part of my life). I broke off with some deeply bad-for-me friends in 8th grade, found much better friends in 9th grade and by 10th grade I felt I had found my people. Many of those people are still my friends. I figured out in college how to draw my people to me and have never been without friends since. I think I’ve sort of figured out how to be just normal enough not to scare everyone away!

*You’ve had a significant “life accident” such as losing several family members to death, being physically disabled, or having a child with a disability.

I lost my mom recently, but have not lost several family members unexpectedly (the old ones are mostly all gone now). No one in my immediate family is disabled and neither am I.

*You’ve had a long-term, disabling and/or painful illness that was mysteriously unresponsive to medical treatment.

Nope. I had a very rare form of cancer for which the only treatment was hysterectomy, but I wasn’t in pain, wasn’t disabled. The experience did spur me into therapy, which was good. I did have undiagnosed hypothyroidism but it responded instantly to treatment.

*You occasionally feel compelled to learn or create certain things, without really knowing why.

Make that always compelled to learn. I regularly have dozens of books checked out from the library. I read all the time! I used to wander the floors of the BYU library just looking for books that popped out to me. I recently learned that my husband did the same thing in college (but he was the U).

*You’ve begun meeting people who are like you, in a strange way you can’t articulate, and you feeling powerfully drawn to these people despite lots of surface differences.

Don’t know about this being a recent thing (see above answers). I’ve always had at least a few wonderful friends in my life at all times – I’m lucky that way. I have noticed that some of my oldest and dearest friends are interested in the same things I’m interested in about homesteading, the environment, and social stability, and I think that’s something.