Wednesday, April 22, 2009
There is a blog I like to frequent: http://cubaninlondon.blogspot.com/
This man has such interesting things he reads and listens to, and insightful commentaries and ideas. I always come away appreciating something new...sometimes something I was already aware of, sometimes not, and that is part of the joy I have in the discovery.
In getting caught back up with my favorite blogs and all the happenings, I found that he had posted a poem by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz...and hence my reflections...
Some time back, and for several years, when working for a large Fortune 100 corporation, I was the leader of our women's organization. The purpose of which was to assist the women in the center with their special interests and needs, both professionally and personally. We had a variety of activities through the course of the year, some of them volunteering within the community, mentoring young women, education with domestic violence awareness and other key issues. Eventually we also incorporated a book club, a talent exhibit and other special presentations.
My point in sharing this, is that we also celebrated Women's History Month, which occurs in March, here in the U.S. During the course of the month we had guest speakers, often women from within the organization, sometimes leaders, sometimes not and on occasion women from outside the business from within the community. We also had special topics for displays throughout the building. On one particular occasion we were focusing on Women Through Time, who had been pioneers in their field of interest.
During the course of my research for my portion of the display, I came across a number of very interesting women, but one in particular by the name of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz.
She was born in the mid-1600's in Colonial Mexico and was the bastard child of a nobleman, so you can imagine the life set before her...being illegitimate and a girl-child during a time when education and prosperity was not readily available by your works, but rather by bloodlines and position.
From the get-go she was exceptionally bright and self-taught. As a young child she taught herself Latin, followed by Greek logic. Eventually she was relocated to Mexico City and joined a convent and then one more, obviously becoming a nun.
She was very aware of her surroundings, of her class, her position, but also in the power of her own mind. She was exceptionally literate and wrote voluminous amounts of poetry and commentaries. She was constantly being evaluated, pondered upon and persecuted by the leadership and authority of the time.
For example, the following item taken from the article in Wikipedia:
"Due to corrupt popes during her time, her independent thinking alarmed and angered the oligarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, for it sawed away at the fundamental idea that women are to serve and not to think; they are to be unpaid or lowly adjuncts to princes of the Church and Spanish royalty."
Fortunately for her, despite the decries against her...
"...powerful representatives from the Spanish court were her mentors and she was widely read in Spain, being called "the Tenth Muse." She was lauded as the most prominent poet of the post-conquest American Continent. Her work was printed by the first printing press of the American Continent in Mexico City."
Just a small glimpse into the life and works of an incredible woman, who truly stood alone in so many ways during her time, and was buffeted by those around her in positions of power, yet stayed true to who she was inside...a learning, literate, bright and electric woman full of thoughts and ideas.
If you haven't been acquainted with her prior to this, you might take a few moments to view the Wikipedia link, or perhaps do your own research on her. She is worth your time, all these centuries later, because she is still a stellar example of independent womanhood.
Happy reading...and I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts on the matter!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
"Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth."
Being a fan of Ayn Rand since my relatively recent reading of Atlas Shrugged, I have looked for other ways to incorporate her into my life, for opportunities to learn more about her and her ideas...hence the quote.
I came across this quote some time ago (meaning weeks), and have decided that I do like it..very much so...indeed...definitely YES!
While I have a very definite and solid belief in God and in the hereafter, and all the things that this belief constitutes and builds within my own vision of life after death, I do believe that Ayn is correct. Life is not for waiting for...life is not for later. Life is for now...now...and again NOW!
Can we afford to wait for heaven...for joy...for life to begin with all of it's perfections that we assume we will have in the hereafter? I say no. I think our mortal existence is meant for experience, for joy, for laughter, for learning, for sadness, for growing, for moving and seeing and feeling. So often we get lost in our day to day, living our plodding lives allowing them to grind along...and it is a miss for everything that is out there to be seen and loved and learned.
Of course, we have our chores, our tasks and our responsibilities. In order to be a successful and happy adult there are many things that must be accomplished and taken care of and we are better for it. I do believe though that sometimes the joy gets lost in the shuffle, and that is a tragedy, particularly if it persists day after day, week after week, month after month and, often sadly, year after year.
While a joyful life, carefree and devoid of sadness and tragedy is an impossible myth, living life in joy and delight is not. We each choose how to react to the world and the people in it. I'm not saying that we should not ever be sad or angry or upset...by all means, those emotions are good and human and often cathartic when used properly...but I also think that we choose too often to be angry for longer than we need to be. We often choose to blame others instead of opting for changing ourselves, our circumstances or our surroundings. Action and change is always more difficult than complacency and the status quo. We often choose to be sad and not find a way to climb out of this bucket, wallowing in this dark shadow for much too long.
I think our emotions and the length of time that we experience them are largely based on choice and by choosing to smile, and to be happy, and to push through the disappointments, sadnesses and tragedies, that we find we are able to make a happy and joyful oasis for ourselves that can be truly a heaven for us.
There will always be someone out there who has more than we do...always someone more beautiful, someone smarter, someone cleverer, someone wealthier, someone with whatever material delight may be our fancy in the moment...and instead of coveting and desiring and pining for what we do not have...why not enjoy life as it stands, making it beautiful and full of the things we can reach for around us...even while still working hard to achieve some of these other material desires?
I am happy because I choose to be. I have had tragedy and I have known despair. I have been sad and heartbroken and thought that life would never be the same...and I was right in that...life was altered and not the same...life did change...with each experience it changes, but I learned, and continued onward, looking for light and joy. For myself, being a happy person by nature, I also chose to continue along that path...to find delight and to find joy and to make it part of my daily life.
I don't have all of the money I would like to have, I drive an older car, but it is paid for...I could use a larger home with more room for entertaining...but in the end...my money pays my bills and allows me to responsibly care for my family, my car gets me where I need to go and the gas mileage is great...my home is often crowded to bursting with friends and family all cooking and laughing and talking together crowding in around the table with too many chairs too close together, with babies and children running about squawking and laughing and crying and always underfoot--but we are together and we are sharing life and love and joy. When it is quiet and everyone is sleeping, I feel the peace and joy that comes from a happy home where even when annoyed or ornery or blue, everyone loves each other and tries most of the time to be kind (all the time is obviously an outstanding human goal...).
Life is for living...it is for grabbing with both hands...it is for kissing and crying...it is for working and for playing...it is for loving and laughing and shouting...it is for sunlight and shadows...it is for tragedy and soaring ecstasy...it is for delighting in and sharing in and holding each other up together. Life is for being. Life is for learning. Life is for growing. Life is for now.
So I conclude with..."Ask yourself"...ask yourself what you love, what you want most...where is your joy...where is your delight? Where is your heaven? Do you wait for it to come to you in a place and time that cannot be told...or do you choose to make it here...and now?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Well...as many of you may know...I had previously committed myself to not reading the Twilight series...mostly through a series of not-go-great experiences along with my own resistance to diving in to Pop Culture whenever people tell me "You have to..." do whatever it is that they are raving about. I know, I know...probably a little arrogant...but whatever...at least I recognize it for what it is.
If I had come upon the books of my own volition, I probably would have read them much sooner, because they are pretty much up my alley, but they didn't and I didn't and when I was in the utter LUNACY that was the 4th book release, at the local Barnes & Noble...when all I was looking for was the 4th book in a Romance Novel Series about Magic and Dragons that are human and sexy...you know (LOL)...15-17 year-olds twitterpated over some book, along with the t-shirts for Team Edward and Team Jacob (my thoughts..."What...the...hell...???) not to mention the fact that I was almost run down on 2 separate occasions by manic mothers either dropping kids off or freaking out for a parking spot so they could get their copy...and almost having my car run into by a gaggle of girls dressed in strapless prom dresses over t-shirts, and two mini-vans with those same manic mothers in them...yeah...you could say it became an adamant point of pride not to give in to the mania.
But I digress...LOL
My point is that things finally quieted down...life returned to normal...and I felt that I might contemplate reading the series. Then...oh yes...then...I heard several scathing critiques of the books from a couple of different people who I do not deem to be trustworthy in recommendations for books, music or movies and I thought...well...if they hated it and don't recommend it...well...perhaps this bears looking into. LOL
So, for my birthday my husband bought me, by request, the hardback boxed set of all four books, with their accompanying limited edition cards...and I proceeded to DEVOUR all four books within one week's time...and the inner 17 year-old (I17YO) within me wept, and rejoiced and fell in love with every aspect of the books, but particularly with the concept of Edward the Brooding and Sensitive Vampire. The I17YO wished that these books had existed back in the day, when Wuthering Heights and the Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories were her staple for getting through any number of events. When dark, brooding, purple rain clouds, and deep green forests were the flavor of the day. When love was dramatic and all encompassing, when hearts broke so easily and emotions were wild, unchained and raw...when lyrics of favorite songs were exactly what you were feeling or going through...it's true...I recently read some old poetry that this 17 year-old wrote...and it is ripe with drama and emotion...and sometimes suspiciously...almost plagiaristically...close to the lyrics of favorite songs...LOL
I'll admit it... I LOVED the Twilight series. It's not Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, it's not Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, it's not Darwin's Origin of Species nor **gasp** Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra...but I don't think it was ever intended to be any of those things...thankfully...there are plenty of heavy handed things to read about the cosmos, life and the meaning of the universe and whether God really exists or not, that it is nice to leave those debates behind and lose yourself in the passion and memories of the moment. I enjoyed the complete and utter emotional ride that these books were. They were melodramatic, full of burgeoning feelings, insecurities, boundless joy and despair, growth and learning, pain, mistakes and good and bad...all things that you're dealing with when you're a young girl.
People complain that the books aren't "realistic"...seriously??? They are about vampires and humanity...last I checked there were no bats in the belfry...it is a work of fiction. I think mostly they have complained that there was no reality when it came to sex and the teenage population. My thoughts around that, yes, there is a lot of teenage sex, particularly in the world today, but I don't think all teenagers are doing it, and honestly, I think a lot of them approach it with trepidation and nervousness, and maybe some silent relief when it is not demanded of them. I think that is part of why these books were so popular. There was no push for advancing the physical relationship beyond what the character was ready for.
Don't you remember the rushing build up in your chest, when you thought you loved someone or at least were seriously "In-Like" with them? That every glancing touch, fingertips, brushing back of the hair, touch of the arm when joking, when all of those tiny, tiny things were monumental and meant for complete and utter evaluation on their meaning? When those things are so overwhelming, that it's nice not to have the immediate pursuit of the pounding of the flesh, quite figuratively putting the cart before the horse, taking place.
These books fit a very particular need that I didn't even realize was in there. I re-connected with someone that I use to be. I'm not that girl anymore, but I see signs of her here and there and know that she is still around, deep down in there. I love that girl that I use to be, she was young, fresh, funny, quirky, and so, so trusting and loving. She grabbed life with all her insecurities firmly wrapped around her and just jumped into it. Poor thing had no idea what was ahead...LOL...but that is life isn't it? Just taking that plunge and trying to swim the best you can.
Oh yeah...and BTW...definitely, definitely Team Edward...LOL
Today’s commute was actually very enjoyable…despite the bad weather.
I ab-so-lute-ly love rain, I always have. How I ended up living in the high mountain desert, well, that’s a story for another day…
At any rate, I live in this place high up in the mountains, where it rains, but not much compared to some of the other places I’ve lived in the world, Brazil and the North Eastern U.S. So, any time it rains here, any day, it is a thing to be celebrated. Also, of course I’m happy that it is rain and not snow. For those of you who interact with me regularly, you know I’ve been whining and crying about the snow and how long the winter is lasting blah, blah, blah. What a whiner! LOL (Usually I don’t mind it, but I’m not kidding when I say it needs to get on its way like a month ago.)
Today, the clouds were so low, you couldn’t see the mountains, and with the wet spray surrounding every single car and truck, blurring all of the lines, made for an oddly buffered and soft gray drive, which somehow was delightful and not overly stressful.
I’ve started making jewelry again. I’ve tried my hand at it off and on through the years, but never too seriously. One of my passions is jewelry, I don’t have much of the more expensive stuff (though I do like it), but me and costume jewelry…we go way back. It is a long-standing and delightful relationship that has gone on for years, since I was a very small child. I have some older pieces, that are downright ratty, but I keep them tucked away because they remind me of a little person that has grown up and gone on to other things.
Anyway, I’ve been experimenting with different looks. I do like artsy and eclectic so some of them get some funky colors mixed in together. I’m not looking at anything too avant garde, mostly just items that I would want to wear, which works out, because why would you make something you thought was awful? I need to take pictures of the new pieces, so I can start giving and selling them away. I think this is something I could be awesome at, because I do have an eye for it and I love doing it.
Additionally, I am re-learning how to crochet. I haven’t done it for years, and when I did do it, I was a novice, a noob, an unpracticed participator in the art of crochet. I really love it, but I need to sit down with a pro and really focus, doing certain things over and over again, so I get it and it sticks in my brain. I would like to finish of the granny square afghan I started way back whenever it was…dare I recollect the actual year?...oh…here it is…yeah…so this is an unfinished project from 1999…10 years apparently is the charm.
I also started back up with card-making/stamping. I’ve done a few items. My sister and I made baby shower invites for our SIL, and they turned out really great. My sister took a baby animal theme and I did underwater creatures. We stamped, be-ribboned and wrote everything out and sent them on their way. I was pleased with the result. I also made several additional cards. Several were stamped but one of them I did as a free-hand drawing and I LOVED it. My sister said I should replicate it but keep the original. We’ll see. I don’t know that I can currently part with the original I love it so much…LOL