September 2007

Traditional Thai Noodle Soup served on Sundays at Wat Mongkolratanaram

Wat Mongkolratanaram

Today was a day when I had to escape…if I had spent another minute in my house, dealing with the crap of my life I would have well and truly lost it. As it was by the time I was driving out of my drive way I was praying for divine assistance to guide me and protect me and surround me with love. I was feeling desperately in pain. Moments like this come without warning when I overextended myself emotionally, physically or financially. In this case I have been physically and emotionally working far too hard, for far too long on the process of selling my home and releasing belongings, or moving other belongings. The work, projects, maintenance and efforts of this pre sale time are thankless and completely all consuming as well as mind blowing. I have been keeping this effort and energy focus for eleven months, (and I have a GREAT FREAKING HOUSE!!) It is classically just the housing market, at least I am seeing more and more interest of late. Always a good thing. An open house is planned for next weekend. Though with the open house is a steam roller worth of pressure to make sure every t is crossed.

Today with escape and peace on my mind I drove to a Thai temple called Wat Mongkolratanaram in the Palm River area of South Tampa. It was a gift to spend part of an afternoon there. I was able to enjoy authentic Thai food that people from the temple cook each Sunday to raise additional funds. This year their new temple was dedicated and it is beautiful. When I visited this afternoon one local Thai woman proudly showed me the new gold decorative windows that had recently arrived from Thailand, and will be installed to make the outer windows of the temple match the ornate style of the roof. In front of the temple door stands a beautiful gong that is probably rung before temple services. Outside the door were a mix match of shoes and sandals that everyone removes before entering the temple as a sign of respect.

The temple gardens are filled with large majestic trees and a path down to the river where children and adults were walking out on to a pier to enjoy the view. As I carried my Thai noodle soup and coconut rice cakes down to the river front picnic tables I finally felt like I could feel a deep breath of peace flowing through my body. I had removed myself from my every day life and entered for an afternon the life of the Thai community and I was deeply grateful. Not only do need to remove myself from the silliness of constant house chores but I need to immerse myself in an exotic culture, which I deeply miss experiencing since returning to live in the United States.

I know travel and adventure will come again into my life. Still this stage seems to be lasting eternally long and feels incredibly painful some days. So on this day, outside the temple where they had set up a prayer area with candles and incense I lit an incense and said a prayer of gratitude for being there, for what I have in my life and for the peace I found there today. If you are finding yourself in a stressful or painful time look for a place of peace where you can spend an hour. Even if it is your local park or botanical garden. May your day be filled with love and healing.



Two days ago I discovered photos of my father’s that I’ve spent four years searching for. When my father died my relatives and I began by searching for photos to use in our power point slide show for his funeral. We found some, but not the quanity we expected and there were portions of his life missing in the photos. I was puzzled and continued to search the house top to bottom and found nothing. I was stumped, over and over I looked. What had my father done with the photos?

Two days ago when sorting through file cabinets in the garage I stumbled across an entire drawer in a large file cabinet filled with manilla folders and files of photos. I had to smile, this was so typical of my father. He was a business man who was very efficient and organized. Many of us put our photos in albums, apparently not my dad. His photos were in manilla envelopes organized by family event or by vacation. It was a blessed moment to find these photos. I ended up spending nearly half a day sorting through pictures and the accompanying letters and cards I had written my dad over the years that he had saved.

It was a deeply emotional journey for me to view some of those pictures and reflect on the relationship ups and downs my father and I faced through the years. As I read the letters I had written, not every letter was a happy one. There were moments in my father and I’s relationship that were filled with conflict, much like any family and to reflect on what we had faced and healed over the years was deeply moving, painful and healing. I found that by the evening my body and spirit felt like I had been through a war. It stunned me to realize the depth of feeling that remained in my heart for some of those moments that we experienced as daughter and father.

It was a gift to find those photos and I have now used some of my favorites of my dad and of my life in the tropics to create a work station/desk area for my writing. I am including a picture of the workstation. It is the desk my father used. It used to be a boring office black color. I took it to a powder coat company and had it painted a tropical ocean color and then finished it with a collage of photos from those I found two days ago. The cost for this project was just over 250 dollars, plus an additional fee of 75 dollars for a specialized paint color that had to be ordered. If a basic color is selected there is generally no additional fee. If you have a similar desk you could do the same and create a personal look that you love. I will treasure this work area because it brings a small part of my dad’s life close to me and allows me the pleasure of seeing his pictures and those I sent him of my life in the tropics.

Veil of Roses
By: Laura Fitzgerald

Veil of Roses is a novel that touched my heart. This book gives any American pause for thought about the freedoms that we experience daily without a thought. I’m not even speaking of the more obvious freedoms such as choosing the person we marry or traveling to a variety of foreign destinations we enjoy. I am talking about small things, like having coffee at Starbucks with a friend of the opposite sex, walking down the street in clothes that speak out for causes we believe in or holding hands with a lover in public. All of these we do naturally without thinking for a moment that there are cultures where each of these is forbidden and would get us arrested.

This novel is an eye opening look into the lives and culture of an Iranian family. From the lives of the parents who for a time lived in our western culture to the grown daughter they are trying to give freedom to with a one way ticket to America. She has a three month travel visa to stay with her Iranian born sister married to an Iranian American. In this time she hopes to meet an Iranian man whom she can marry, so that she can leave Iran for good. This book was so engrossing that I read it in one night. I highly recommend this book, it is an eye opening look at a culture where women have few choices. As a woman it makes my heart bleed to know these women have so little hope. May each of us use our choices wisely and pray that these women can someday soon make their own too.

I know this seems an odd topic to discuss on a blog dedicated to healing grief and finding a way to happiness after pain and loss. But, seeing as I’m a writer who uses a computer every day of my life, and who has three computers in her house this feels like a topic of importance. Most American families have at least one computer in their home, many have more. So it stands to reason there will come a day when said computer wears out and needs replaced. What happens to the old one???

Hopefully most people take them to monthly recycle locations for electronics at their county landfill. I just did that last month, and let me tell you, even knowing it was a special drop off spot, designated for recycling electronics gave me a lot of pause for thought. I saw the HUNDREDS of electronics being sorted and separated, computers, microwaves, tv’s etc… Even if parts are recycled there has to be much that eventually is put back into the earth. How can that be good? Simply it can’t be and it makes my heart hurt for what we are doing to this planet…

So today I have found a website that gives information for each of the computer electronic’s companies and shows us where we can send our old computers, sometimes at NO COST, for recycling!! Now that is worth blogging about! Kudo’s to Sony for now starting a program to take ANY SONY product. Kudo’s to Toshiba for taking their old computers for FREE.Yes, Thank you Tony (my computer person) for recommending Toshiba when I bought my last lap top!! Other select computer companies also take theirs free, but NOT ALL. Some charge a fee. Click on the curly line under this post to see where you can send your old computer.

This is a huge challenge and one that I continue to work on. Right now my list of alternative choices is small but I will continue to post new ideas and finds! So far I’m using these general techniques for my drinks.

1. Seltzer Water because it offers the carbonation that I enjoyed in soda.
2. Seltzer water ..two parts to one part regular flavored bottled water, the sugar style variety, not the chemical versions with sweetner. Which is why I use only one part regular flavored water to three parts seltzer. I still get the flavor but a great deal less sugar.
3. Tea
4. Seltzer water mixed with juice. Same basic premise as above, one part juice to two or three parts seltzer water; depending on the mood.
5 Organic soda …When I really crave a soda I choose a natural organic soda and have it for a special treat. So far one per week.

If someone had told me even two years ago I would give up diet soda I would have laughed in their face. That just was not something I would have considered in the realm of possibility. I finally decided a month ago to ditch the diet soda and basically not drink soda. Amazingly I am not having difficulty with it at all. Which is truly amazing for a person who used to drink at least one diet vanilla pepsi each day. In the last year I have been doing a lot more reading and research on food, food additives, and have begun to change my perspective on what I am willing to put in my body and how I want to live my life.

Of course I cannot afford to buy ALL ORGANIC food, who can? But, I have been for some months purchasing only organic milk, mostly organic meat and selected organic fruit and vegetables. Apples being one of them, as I have learned that apples take one of the biggest hits on being sprayed by chemicals. At least if you cannot afford to purchase organic fruits and vegetables then wash them thoroughly with soap and warm water to remove the chemical residue that you can.

I have sworn off equal and spenda products, it is stunning to me how much of our food is now filled with these things. The more I read about them, the less I want them to pass my lips. It is certainly a new way of thinking for me. One that has been deliberate, gradual and well thought out.

It is all about choices, perspective and priorities. What is your opinion on this? Have you made similar changes in your life? I feel good about the changes and I feel even better about living my life in the most healing fashion I can.

Today has been an R&R day for me, which feels amazing. I enjoyed my weekend of R&R so much that I decided after another four days of home projects and preparation for home showings that I deserved time for me. Today has been the beginning of that. I say a beginning because there will be more of these days ahead I can assure you.

It is just after five thirty in the evening and I realized a few minutes ago that I have been wearing my bathing suit all day. It made me laugh with joy. When is the last time I did that? Years ago, when I lived on Hawaii or Guam. Most likely Guam. I started my day with a swim and a bit of relaxation on the beach. But I certainly have to credit my ray ban sun glasses for my view that looked like the the pacific or the caribbean. I noticed a while ago that my ray bans make the water appear a tropical blue green color, like the water I treasured on Guam and in Hawaii. So it’s an illusion, this illusion makes me happy and brings a bit of the true tropics to my Florida world, that’s really all that matters.

I found myself truly happy this morning floating on the waves in my noodle chair. If you haven’t seen these you need to find one if you love time in the water. These things are simply made of a foam floating noodle and some netting. The netting slides over the noodle and becomes a chair you sit in to float around on the ocean. It is so cool and so very relaxing. I decided after that forty minutes of floating on the waves that my noodle chair is staying in my jeep so any ocean day can be spent at least in part floating, watching the waves, the pelicans and the beautiful sky. Today as I lay there I found myself as calm as if I were doing a meditatation. The waves, the water and the sky created a natural meditation that everyone deserves to experience. It was an eye opening moment for me, to realize just how good the ocean leaves me feeling. Just 40 minutes gave me a whole new perspective on my day. Can’t we all use that?

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