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Friday, October 29, 2010

I Get A Little "Horny".....Witch Costume Do You Choose?

I love the change of seasons. As I drove home today, I was so distracted by the beauty of the trees lining the highway. I kept thinking how amazing the colors are. We only get to see them in the fall, but they are actually there all the time. They are called secondary pigments. In the spring and summer they are covered up by the green chlorophyll, but they are always there. I can't help but see the parallel to the celebration of Halloween. I don't know where you live, but around here it's kind of a big deal.  Costumes, candy, much fun!
I love having an excuse to dress up for Halloween, but I haven't bought and adult costume in about 11 or 12 years. Every year I put on my horns that I bought at a Renaissance Faire in 1999. They are real horns. I dig  them out of my drawer and slip them under my hair so they look like they are actually growing out of my head. I always wear my pentacle necklace (along with my cross and Blessed Mother Medal) and this year I added orange and black striped tights. My students always ask me what I'm supposed to be. A devil? No. A cat? No. I usually don't answer them. It's too complicated to explain to them, and my unusual religious beliefs are certainly not an appropriate discussion for public school. But I don't care that they don't get it. I feel magickal and energized and excited by the energy in the air. Did I mention that I love Halloween?
Anyway, I find it interesting to see what costumes people choose for themselves. I Think this gives us some insight into who we are. These are our fantasies. An expression of the person we really are inside, but repress because of the social pressures of our job, family, or religion. I have a student who I adore. He's smart and funny and  has mostly female friends. He's only 11, so I don't think he's ready yet to accept his sexual orientation. He's planning to be Lady GaGa for Halloween. No surprise to me....(wonder how his dad feel about it.) My muscular 6 year old gymnast who thinks she's invincible and who seems to want so badly to fly is going as Wonder Woman. And my best friend who spends her days in a fancy smancy office in Manhattan is obsessed with dressing up as Snooki from the Jersey Shore.  Halloween is a day when we can live our fantasy for a minute without any judgement or repercussion. For a moment in time everyone is free to show their real inner self without fear or insecurity. The restrictions of conformity fade away like the green chlorophyll in the trees, revealing the beautiful colors that make us unique and different. I believe that God created us all with the same beauty and splendor and diversity that He (or She) created those spectacularly colored trees. And I love having the opportunity to see that splendor revealed.  That's why I love Halloween.....well that and the Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why Women Rock From A to Z

A is for Ask your mom...she always has all the answers.
B is for Breasts. We have them. For feeding or fondling... they are fabulous!
C  is for Creativity. Have you ever visited an elementary school? The teachers are predominately women. These are some of the most creative people in the world.
D E F G is for Doing Everything For oo-Gots.(this is poorly spelled NY Italian American slang....roughly translated ... we do everything for everyone and get nothing....but balls.
H  is for Healers, because we can cure any ailment with our magic kisses!
I...there is no I in woman.
J is for Judge Judy, because she is the type of woman our children should aspire to be.
K is for Kitchen. We have worked so hard to get out of it... and yet we still spend half of our lives cleaning it.
L is for Learning because we never stop. Studies show that when a woman becomes a mother she creates thousands of new synapses in her brain...we actually get smarter!
M is for Motherhood, of course. The curse of Eve is God's greatest gift to mankind.
N O P is for No One's Princess: never have been, never will be.
Q is for Queens. Women are so magnificent that there is a whole sub-culture of the opposite sex who emulate us.
R is for Reason. Because we always have to be the voice of.
S is for Sisters. If you are blessed enough to have them, you will NEVER be alone in this cruel heartless world.
T is for Teachers. Some of us teach for a living, some of us teach by living.
U is for Uterus. Come on.... WE CAN GROW PEOPLE!!!
V is for Voluptuous. Because there is nothing more beautiful than the curves of a woman's body.
W is for Witches. The name given to wise old women in "the old country" who used natural remedies to heal the people in their villages. The word originates from the word Wicca which means wise. The men who ran the world decided they were a threat. We were hanged and burned.
XXX It's not the most lucrative industry in the world because of the handsome male actors....(not that I've ever seen it). 
Y is for Youth. When we have it we don't want it, and then we spend the rest of our lives trying to re-live it....But that can be fun!
Z is for Zebra. Prints are very in this season, and they are fabulous... just like we are.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not So Great Expectations

      They call it the "Golden Rule." I actually think its Biblical in origin, but everyone, regardless of creed, seems to spout it even if they don't live by it. I think they teach you this when they hand out crayons in nursery school. It sounds good in theory, but essentially its flawed. Or slightly tarnished at best.... and since gold is highly un-reactive I think we should call it the "Gold-Plated Rule."  You see, I have always been overly sensitive to other people's emotions. Empathic actually. So much so that I become obsessive if I sense I have hurt or even insulted someone. So I do unto others as I would have done unto myself.  The problem arises when I do unto others with the EXPECTATION that they will do the same unto me. This is when people disappoint. My husband and I try to go out of our way for the people we love. We call. We go. We invite. We listen. We buy. We donate. We do. Just ask; we're there. Don't ask; we'll still be there. We give and give and give. We really try to be the best friends, children, siblings, and parents that we could possibly be.  And often we look at each other and say. "What the hell is wrong with us?" "Why do we give give give and So-and-so doesn't seem to even give us a second thought." He'll say, "I'm tired of being the only one to call. The phone works both ways." I'll say, "I always worry about her and she doesn't even give me a second thought." And we become disillusioned. We feel like an after-thought. And the reality is that we often ARE the afterthought for many of the people we love so dearly.  

Why so cynical you ask? That's not like you, Meliss! Where are your rose-colored glasses today? Did someone make your glass half empty? 

     I'm not being cynical. This is the reality of life. One of the toughest lessons that I've learned over the years is that you can only account for your own behavior. I cannot always expect to get the same level of love and commitment back from other people that I offer. And the reason for this is that not everyone is capable of making the sacrifices that we make. Some people are, and I am always humbled when they reach out and show their love for me. When friends call or visit or go out of their way for us, I am so moved and give thanks for the blessing of their friendship. But I have come to have low expectations of people. These days I take what I can get when it comes to love. Some people I know have never experienced the level of love we are willing to give them. They do not reciprocate because they are simply not emotionally equipped to do so. Does that mean they love me less than I love them? No. People learn what they live. If they haven't been shown real unconditional love, how can you expect them to show it? You can only expect people to give what they are comfortable with and nothing more. I have come to a point in my life where I have not so great expectations. I do unto others with NO expectation that they will do the same unto me. I do what I do simply because I do. I know what's right, and I know what sacrifices I am capable of. So I give the most I can in whatever way I can. With no expectations. In the end I know when I did the right thing, and ultimately I believe that it all comes back to me (three-fold actually). So maybe sometimes I make myself the door-mat....or maybe I make myself the example. Either way, I have to believe that the love I send out is not being lost or wasted. And sometimes it's really hard to swallow my pride and let go of my giant ego. But if I have less than great expectations, I never can  be disappointed..... in myself or you.
 Sending love out to you.....always!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Take a Moment to Enjoy Your Tea. (BTW a moment is exactly a minute and a case you were wondering)

La vie est trop is too short. That's what it says on the frame around my license plate. Maybe you've wondered. It's French. I love all things French. Yes, even the people. Funny thing about French people, they can sit at a cafe for hours sipping the same cup of coffee. The French have a certain joie de vivre: joy of life. They relax and enjoy the fresh air while they sip their coffee. They chat with friends and really enjoy their time at that cafe. I find this inspiring. As an American, I don't have time to do this. We never have time for anything do we? To read a book, cook a healthy dinner, call our friends, exercise....the list goes on and on. We just don't have time. How come the French have the time, but we don't? Don't they have children and schedules and meetings? We need to learn how to stop and sip our coffee. To smell the aroma before we take a sip. Hold it in our mouths. Let the flavors linger over our taste buds. Take a moment to think about where that coffee came from. Lets say it's free trade, shade grown organic coffee. Imagine the little coffee plants, absorbing the energy from the sun to make the sugars that allow its flowers to grow and bloom. Imagine the beautiful butterflies that drink the nectar of its tiny white flowers carrying the pollen to fertilize the plant. Imagine the fertilized flower shriveling up and giving way to the beans that will soon be harvested and ground up to make the flavorful mixture that is currently dancing over your taste buds. Imagine how the water that is absorbed through the roots has been cycled around by nature for the 4+ billion years of Earth's existence. You could go on to think about where the cream and sugar originated. Think about how you came to be at this moment with all the elements and people around you. Take stock and be grateful. Take a deep breathe. Inhale the aroma again. Hold it. Release all the tension of your body as your exhale.  THIS... C'est la joie de vivre.

I don't drink coffee. That's a lie actually. I will drink it if it has enough sugar, milk and flavoring to drown out the taste of the coffee. I prefer tea. All kinds of tea. I'm not talking about infusions like peppermint and chamomile. They have their place, but I LOVE real tea: green tea, white tea, or black tea. So instead of sipping coffee, I sip tea. After my kids go to bed, I sit on my worn out couch with my amazing husband. I feel a calm come over me. I let the tea take over and the tension of the day melts away. Granted, I don't spend hours sipping. Not sure how the French get past the fact that hot beverages get cold. And I need to get to bed by 10 if I am going to of any use to anyone the next day. But these are the moments of joy that give life color. Taking time to really be in the moment, revelling in the pleasure of a simple gift of nature. This is the secret to happiness. It's the accumulation of joyful moments that make a person's life fulfilling. It's up to you to find the simple pleasures and take advantage of them. Life IS short, but if we can grab hold of a moment here and there, it can be short but full.

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Tolerance for Intolerance: Differences Enrich Our Lives

My mother always told me I was special....still does actually. I think I am special. We're all special. I know it sounds like a spot on Sesame Street or Barney, but it's true. Every person I meet contributes to the experience of my life. Whether I meet you for a minute or I know you for years, I can learn from you. Even that guy on the expressway today... the one picking his nose. He taught me to be conscious of how I appear in public because you never know who's watching. Kind of makes me re-think the outfit I wore to work the other day- it was 80's day. Hair was big; make-up was heavy! Wonder how I looked to passing cars. But I digress.
 My point is that you never know what other people can teach you. Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to the creepy IT guy at work. (The one who kind-of looks like a serial killer.) We were discussing the frustration that comes when technology breaks down. I mentioned my frustration with the film industry's depiction of post-apocalyptic America. (30 years later, no one has veered from the paradigm created by Mad Max.) He proceeds to tell me that he loves that stuff and that's why our fore-fathers created the second amendment.... This is usually where I exit-stage-left, but for some reason I stayed. I found out that he is training to become a blacksmith (truly a dying craft) and that he is into survival training. You know, what Bear Grylls pretends to do. Anyway I found this fascinating, and I learned from our conversation how to make a Dakota fire hole, a small campfire that the Native Americans used. Who knew?  Now it is not likely in my life that I will ever actually MAKE this sort of fire, but prior to this conversation, I didn't even know that such a thing existed. There's a whole culture of people who practice survival skills. He's not a person with whom I would regularly socialize, and I KNOW we have some very differing political views, but that's okay. In fact that's what life is all about. Meeting people who are different from you. Hearing their stories, learning from the wisdom of their experiences that you will never have yourself.

I get so angry when people are intolerant of others. A facebook friend of mine posted a warning yesterday that in 7 months the world is going to end. Yes, really. Apparently there are people out there who believe that May 21, 2011 is exactly 7000 years since Noah's flood. Google it, they claim some evidence in the Bible that that is when a giant earthquake will begin the Apocalypse. Not exactly my cup of tea. At first I was angered by what I feel is her ignorance. Then I thought about it. Why do I care? So what if her faith is predicting a doomsday in 7 months. It doesn't affect me at all. Those are her beliefs. I have to respect that. Her faith is hers; my faith is mine. I really don't understand why people waste their energy hating or judging others because they have different beliefs, or cultural mores, or sexual orientation, or genetic make-up. "Live and Let live" or in the wisdom of the Jersey Shore geniuses, "You do you, I'll do me!"

Some people collect stamps or coins, I collect friends. Not Internet friends, nothing so creepy or narcissistic. Real friends. People to get to know and love. Differences and all. We are all special and different and beautiful in some way. It is a gift to make a new friend and learn from her experience. Even if she does think the world is going to end in 7 months. Hey, maybe she's right. Maybe I should be nicer to that IT guy. If civilization as we know it comes to an end, he'd be a good friend to have!