Monday, June 29, 2009

An Aversion to Labels

I have a real aversion to the need to label everything and everyone. It has always bugged me. Once the label has been attached, all preconceived notions begin to fall into place. The need to dig deeper is abandoned as they have been neatly categorized and judged. No further thought is necessary.

And it really doesn't matter what the label is: Liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, Military, gay, straight, Black, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, Christian or Buddhist. There are always words attached to each term. Say for example, "Rightwing." My first thought is: extremist. But is that fair?

In the past it has been the political labeling that bothered me the most. My leanings are decidedly liberal and I am an admitted member of the Democratic Party. My political heroes growing up were Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey. But, I am also a reborn Christian who was raised in the Catholic church. For some that would automatically bring the assumption that I was anti-abortion. Hmm?

Abortion is one of those topics I will not discuss. I have actually stopped discussing any controversial issues. Why? Because everyone seems to have such extreme views. Any discussion is probably not going to change the mind of anyone. In fact, it generally solidifies their belief because they have to justify their positions. So what is the point? After awhile it just becomes so much mental masturbation. I am not going to change your mind and you are not likely to change mine. So lets just forget about all of that nonsense and just be friends.

And I have to admit that at the age of 54, some of my views are fairly set. But, trust me, my ideals and positions are what they are because they have evolved through experience and life, my life and my experience. I don't claim to be right and everyone else to be wrong. That would be stupid. I think differences can be a beautiful thing, whether they be opinions or whatever. Each individual evolves in their own way through choices made be themselves and others, through events over which they sometimes have no control, through environment that shapes them and molds them into the person that they are. It is all of these things which cause them to form their value systems and shapes their opinions.

Now comes the really difficult part. How do I pull all of this mess together. Can I bring all of these rambling thoughts to a conclusion? Well let's see... I started at the very beginning with an aversion to labels. I feel that in applying a label to someone, you don't allow them to be anything else. They have been categorized and accepted or not. In doing so, you fail to see the whole person. You might not see that you actually might have things in common.

What it really comes down to for me is respect. We don't know the life the other person has lead that has caused them to form the opinions and views that they have. It is okay to disagree, but show respect for the other person while doing so. What if they don't respect you? Well be the better person and respect them anyway...

Maybe there is no way to neatly pull all of this together. I am kind of all over the place today. Ah, what the hell! Life is confusing and it's Monday. That should be excuse enough...

So find a way to end this please?

I guess all I have to say is don't label me, categorize or judge me. You don't know where I have been or what I have been through. Respect me and my opinions... or don't. Accept me for who I am... or don't. Your choice. And if you don't... your loss.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Profession of Faith

There comes a part in the Catholic Mass where all of those present are invited to join in a Profession of Faith also known as the "Nicene Creed." When I learned it as a child it was called the "Apostle's Creed." It is amazing to me that after all of these years I still know it. I can recite by rote, every word perfect. But, it always bothered me that I knew it so well I never had to think about it or what the words meant.

I was raised a Catholic and did not question any of the doctrine or dogma until I went away to college. My world opened up there in many ways. I was exposed to many new ideas and I subsequently began to question some of the old. I started attending bible studies with a prayer group. I had never really studied the bible before. As a Catholic we learned from the old Baltimore Catechism. During my sophomore year of college I became a reborn christian and began to drift from the church in which I was raised. There were just too many discrepancies between what I was reading and in what I had been taught.

I left college after that year and moved to Minneapolis. I began to sample different churches and religions to find one that I was comfortable with. I went to Baptist churches, Assembly of God, and finally ended up in a charismatic church in south Minneapolis called the Jesus People Church. It was there that I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I became an on-fire Christian and you could not shut me up. I witnessed to everyone I saw. At a bus stop, in a bar where ever I was. I was out to save the world! I would not be stopped! My family didn't know what to think of me. My mother thought I had joined a cult and talked to the local priest about it. I remember one long talk with her when she began to cry. I was very confused, my brothers and sisters began to avoid me. I no longer felt comfortable in the church I had been going to. I felt out of place, like I wasn't a good enough Christian. I felt unworthy and stopped going to church altogether. I still believed, I just never found a church I was comfortable with.

Years past and and I began to develop my own creed, my own profession of faith. What was truly important to me? One thing that I always recalled was that we were to be Christ-like in our behavior. I had never felt comfortable or accepted anywhere, by anyone. I had always been somewhat of a loner. So that became part of me, I would be accepting of all. I also got the feeling that too many people were too quick to judge others. I mean who are we to judge. It's not our job!

Rather than witness to people about my faith, I listened instead. I was a friend first. I didn't judge or tell them what to do. I just was there if I was needed. It was amazing! People would talk to me about anything for hours. I would just listen. I found myself occasionally lead to certain people who were in great need. I swear I quoted bible verses I never knew. Words seemed to come from another source. It is hard now to explain it, but it was like I was just a conduit. And somehow they were comforted.

Along the way I also found my church, but it wasn't in a building. It was a walk in the woods on a sunny day, breathing the fresh air and truly marveling at what God had made.

So where am I going with all of this? Oh yes, my creed! I found that through all I had learned and experienced, that the best way that I could serve God was to be the best person I could be. I would respect others and their opinions even if they were different than my own. It mattered not if they were Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, whatever. They had come to their belief system in their own way as had I. Who was I to tell them that they were wrong. Who was I to judge them.

I was never the type of Christian who wore it like a badge, flashing it to all. I was quiet and preferred to teach and lead by example. I had learned that lesson the hard way when I was a young, baby christian. I wanted so much to "save" all of my family and friends that I drove them away. I pushed in instead of being invited. I was truly obnoxious! You cannot lead anyone to anything that way. You pretty much just piss them off and then what have you accomplished.

And that is the problem that I see with many Christians today. They are too quick to push in where they are not wanted or needed. They judge what is right or wrong and condemn those who do not believe as they do. I feel it is not the right of man to judge by God's law. God will be the judge himself if necessary. I get the feeling that some feel morally superior to others. These are the ones that ultimately give Christians a bad name. They talk of the lost lambs who have not yet found they way. Give me a break! Do they really think anyone will listen when you just get in there faces with a moralizing attitude, confront them and tell them they are wrong! Oh my God we are all going to hell!

Ok. Maybe a little extreme there. But, I hope you get my point. It is the method and the attitude I oppose. Get out of peoples faces and remember the message. Remember that Jesus called the apostles to serve and to teach. You can always be of service, but you can't teach someone if they don't want to be taught or don't feel they need to be taught.

So that is it, the profession of my faith. Take it or leave it, it matters not to me! Like I said, I'll listen, but I won't barge in and tell anyone what to do unless they ask. Unless I am invited in.

This article was first published on on December 2nd 2008

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dawn is fast approaching...

Dawn is fast approaching...

This is not necessarily a good thing for me. Once again I cannot sleep, three hours and I'm up again. Even as I sit here, yawning, I know that if I go back to bed, I will just lay there, yawning. I am exhausted, but cannot sleep.

Is it just my restless mind that will not allow me sleep, or is something else? Unfinished business perhaps... Unresolved issues, also a possibility. I always tend to have them... Sometimes I just think too much, feel too much.

But, this ultimately solves nothing. In less than an hour the sun will rise. A new day will begin and I will not be prepared for it. Ah, blessed slumber, why does it suddenly escape me?

I can hear the birds begin their morning call as they greet the sun.

Dawn is fast approaching...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What does Community Mean to me...revised

Several years ago, when I was a new writer on Newsvine, I was shown the value of community and wrote of it there. The original article was entitled "What does Community Mean to You." It was written during a time of extreme stress and crisis as I was at the beginning of a journey to be shared with my mother. In the two years since it was written. I have occasionally considered doing a revised version, an update on my life and hers. Mainly this is because I have Google Analytics on my Newsvine column and the original pops up in a search at least once a week. I happened to be looking at the recent stats on the site yesterday. And please, that note there was really no particular need for me to do so. You see, I am not submitting much to that site anymore. I think I was mainly curious to see if I had reached "0" hits for the day. I saw that, on Friday June 19, 2007, I had 5 hits. I dug further to see what was being read and was not surprised to find that the "Community" article I had written two years ago popped up. The surprise, however, was that two hits came from Iran, more specifically, Tehran. In the midst of all of the chaos, someone felt a need and did a Google search using the terms " community what you mean."

We are all each in our communities, citizens of a greater world. But, in the past week we have been reminded of how close we all are as we have been made witnesses to the extreme situation in Iran by way of Twitter and Facebook. Technology has made the world a much smaller place and we as individuals can have an "effect" and at the same time be "affected" by it. We have all become witness to history as global change is occurring a half a world away. Whether we like it or not, we each as individuals are also part of this change. At some point on Friday last, someone in the midst of a great crisis reached out in search and found my article. It doesn't appear by the stats that they stayed long, but they did later return. I can only wonder as to the affect of the words in my article.

I don't know if I can easily answer the question I posed on this article today. You see, my answer is different daily. It depends on my circumstances at the time. One thing I do know is that we as a people in this human race are all interconnected in ways that we might not always be aware of at the time. Our simple interactions with each other on a daily basis can at times have profound effects and we may never know about it.

I have been blessed in the two years since I wrote the original article. The situation has changed for my mother, who was the subject of the first article. I wrote of how individuals in her community assisted her so that she, at 90 years of age, was able to continue living in her home. Two years later it is no longer possible for my mother to live independently. She now resides in a nursing home in her small community and is being lovingly cared for by friends of mine and by the grown children and grandchildren of friends and neighbors of hers. Every time I visit her I am reminded of that community. Four years ago last week, my dad died in that same nursing home. The community was there for him then as well as for me.

So now, back to the greater question. What does Community mean to me? Right now, I feel part of this greater community as I have seen the events unfold and watched as the Internet community has reached out to assist in any way possible to the citizens of Iran who are part of our digital world. Personally, I felt the need to reach out last night myself as I was emotionally drained from an interaction with another Internet friend. I was again blessed as a "twitter' friend answered and helped comfort me in the the very wee hours of the morning when I was feeling very alone.

We are all part of this greater world community and it is imperative that we remember that. With each person that we meet individually in the communities in which we live or digitally across the vast expanse of the world by way of the Internet, we must remember to treat everyone with respect. If you have the opportunity to help someone, just reach out and do it. You may never know the effect of your action, but if we all practiced this each in our own communities, in our own interactions whether digitally or in person, we can and will change this world and make it a better place. This is what "Community" means to me.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

When your life journey becomes painful...

Sometimes I feel I am lead to people in pain. It has happened so often to me, that I almost see it as part of my job as I traverse the path on my journey through life. Most times I can help and somehow find the words that they need to hear, I can comfort them.

It is strange though, when I begin I usually don't have a clue as to what I am going to say or in some cases, write. But the words come and it is as if they are coming from outside of me somewhere. I am just the vessel, the instrument used to convey the message. But tonight was different, it was too close to my own situation. As I wrote, I knew that the words I was typing were not just for him, but for me as well.

I am in that unenviable position of having to take my own advice. It is in regards to my own mother. These past couple years it has become increasingly harder for me to go see her. I have made plausible excuses and even as others accept them, I know in my heart that they are just that, excuses.

I have actually already written about this, around and through this. I understand it, but I cannot accept it. I miss the mother that I had and find it hard to see and accept the woman that she now is. My mother and I were not always close. But through the years she became the strongest part of my support system and I have lost that now. I find myself feeling somewhat adrift. I grieve for a mother who still lives.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why Does it matter?

Why Does it matter?

Why do people
have to hate on other people,
just because
they are not the same?

Why does it matter
what God you believe in
or if you believe at all?

Why does it matter
if you love
and want to marry
someone of the same gender?

Why does it matter if your skin is Black, Brown, White or Yellow.
Why make a case out of race? Put that anger in it's place,
for aren't we all members of the human race?

Hey, tell me... please!
Why does any of it

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Random thoughts on a morning I am up waaay to early!

I have no clue as to why I am waking up so early these days. At first it was 6:30 or so and gradually started moving closer to 6am. Now this morning I woke at 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. I am literally getting tired of this, exhausted in fact. I started taking afternoon naps but stopped because I thought it might be interfering with my sleep so am forcing myself to stay awake.

I had a real strange dream last night too. I was back in school in class and Clint Eastwood was there in his "Gran Torino" character as one of my classmates. This particular class was "web enhanced" meaning a lot of the work we did in class and the information we receive is online. For some reason I could not find a computer that would work and needed to take an a quiz. Now the really odd thing is that I have not yet seen the movie "Gran Torino." I have only seen trailers for it and read reviews. Well actually, I only read one review written by a friend of mine Perrie on Newsvine "Everything I need to know about life I learned from Gran Torino." I don't usually bother with reveiws because I never agree with them. Opinions are subjective and I would rather form my own opinion than go or not simply because some paid critic reviews it. I am not a sheep to be lead around by someone else's opinion. However, I liked the way Perrie wrote about it. I intended to see the movie while on break, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Hmmm? maybe I should do that?

Before I started writing this, I checked my email and am now wondering? Who are all of these people and why do they want to follow me on "Twitter?" I can maybe understand when I am doing the music thing and playing tunes from "" because we have similar tastes in music. But, I do not understand why anyone would want to follow me from some of the random things I tweet? Some of them are obvious spammers that I immediately block, but why the others? I am actually not interested in following a lot of people at this point. I would rather just follow a few that I like to converse with. However, I probably should if only to promote this blog.

Oh well! It is now past 7am and I probably should consider taking a shower and getting some breakfast. I think I made a cup of tea, but once again forgot it. Probably really strong by now! It is always dangerous for me to sit down at my computer and go online first thing in the morning. An hour goes by and I realize I have not eaten when my stomach starts to rumble. I also tend to write posts or comments like this that sometimes make no sense to me later. I am almost scared to do a spell check here... done. So, what's for breakfast?

Damn, there goes my alarm! It's 7:30 already! I have just spent another half hour editing after spell checking and adding the link. *Rubs eyes and wonders where the time went?*

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I imagine...

I imagine a world where people come first, not profits.

I imagine a world where companies and corporations use their profits to invest in people and create jobs that provide a living wage. These jobs will rebuild our infrastructure so that we do not have to worry about crumbling roads and bridges. These jobs will rebuild our manufacturing base so that we can create safe products so that we don’t have to import them.

I imagine a world where people come together despite their differences in religion, gender, race or nationality and work for the betterment of all.

I imagine a world where technology is developed to truly provide renewable energy so that corn can be grown to feed the world, not for fuel to run it.

I imagine a world where politicians can be trusted to do the right thing.

I imagine a world where people are accepted for who they are and not judged because they are Hispanic, female, gay, black, white, rich. poor, liberal, conservative, etc....

I have a very vivid imagination!

*This article was first published on 12/10/2008 at

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Honor your Father

It has been real difficult for me these past few weeks. At first just a little blue, but not really knowing why. Then came my birthday which I have never handled well. But even that wasn't it. Then I came to realize that I was suppressing what was really bothering me. You see for anyone who has lost their dad, the occasion of Father's Day can be a real depressing thing. But even more so for me because 4 years ago, I lost my Dad to cancer just 2 days before Father's Day. And today is the anniversary of his death.

I never imagined that I would take his death so hard. Don't get me wrong, I loved my Dad. But, I was so much closer to my Mom. My Dad was always there, but whenever I called it was always my Mom that I talked with. Whenever I went to visit, Mom and I would be talking in the kitchen and Dad would just be in the other room. But once he was gone, I found myself wishing I had spent more time with him, that I had gotten to know him better as an adult in the same way that I did with my Mom.

When I was young, I used to love to hear his stories of growing up during the depression and serving in the army during World War II. If it was a real funny story he would be laughing so hard that I couldn't understand him, but I laughed anyway because he was. When I became a teenager it all seemed to change. I kind of took a break from both of my parents for awhile. I blamed them for a lot of things that they didn't deserve. I deliberately set myself apart from them. Actually, probably more from my Mom than my Dad, but the distance was there. I created it.

I eventually grew up and let it all go and was able to develop a solid relationship with my Mom as an adult. But, not with my Dad. It just didn't seem that we had all that much in common. Now I kind of feel bad about that. It took learning he was dying for me to realize how much I appreciated him.

On my Dad's final day, I was there for him as I should have been all along. I stayed and I talked to him for hours. At the moment of his death, I felt a joyous release as his spirit left. Even as I witnessed his departure, I knew he would always remain a part of me. Oddly enough, we are probably closer now than when he was alive. I feel him usually when I have great need and most times it gives me comfort. Except for now on this the anniversary of his death. Grief is funny and can affect you in strange ways. Four years later it is still fresh as if it happened yesterday. It is heavy and presses me down hard. I almost want to feel bad and push away any good feelings. And I push away anyone who tries to help me and shut them down. I don't know, maybe in a way I feel I need to punish myself. I don't want to feel good. I think back on all of the time that I missed with him. I know that he deserved better from me.

As a person and as a writer I can almost always find a positive slant on things. But, not so in this case because it still hurts and I miss my Dad.

So for those of you who still fortunate enough to have your father, honor him with your presence this Sunday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hope Heals

When all else is gone,

hope still lives.

It is the one thing

that can never

be taken away

by anyone,

unless you let them.

It is the smile of a child,

who has not yet learned despair.

It is the sun rising bright,

every day,

shaking off the dark of night.

Hope is a muscle as strong

as the heart still beating.

It is the best,

deep within each of us,

waiting to be born anew.

Hope is the balm to our souls.

Hope heals...

My Church: Where God truly lives

I am a Christian, but I do not go to a church made by man.

I have never felt comfortable being confined inside a building.

I do not need a priest, rabbi or minister to tell me of God.

I see him everyday in the people that I meet.

I have no need for a sermon filled with dogma.

The Springbrook Nature Center is my church.

My heart aches with the beauty that I behold there.

The birds and buzzing insects sing the choral praise.

The wildflowers provide the ornamentation for the altar.

And as I look up to the heavens through the leaves,

God whispers to me through the gentle breeze.

I say Amen...

photo by Mary Moellenhoff

Friday, June 12, 2009

Breathe Deep

Breathe Deep

Take it slow...

Life passes by so fast

In a rush to do everything,

we miss the little things

The beauty in a field of yellow dandelions

on a backdrop of bright green grass.

Blue skies,


a light, breeze on a summer day

gently caressing you

The pungent, earthy smell of fresh

after a sudden storm...

Breathe Deep!

Photo by Mary Moellenhoff