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Archive for the ‘quotes’ Category

A true child of the ’80’s am I, raised on the wisdom of sitcoms and television dramas. I admit especially to being a M*A*S*H-aholic. Back in its heyday, my big brother watched it (he being the older, wiser, and more worldly of the two of us) and I admit now to an obsessive need to view the marathons on TVLand and Hallmark Channel every chance I get. Many an important life lesson was learned from that show (along with The Golden Girls) and even now I find that the TV shows of my childhood are still shaping my values.

The episode I was watching earlier tonight was the pen pal letters episode – Hawkeye’s friend back home gets her elementary school students in Crabapple Cove, Maine to write letters to the personnel of the 4077th. In the midst of writing back to the children and amongst the amusing and mundane anecdotes that the staff chooses to tell the kids about, there are several poignant moments in which the staff is forced to reexamine their role in the war – and in life. One of the students writes a letter that Hawkeye must answer in which the student says he hates the doctors because they fixed up his brother and sent him back into combat in which he was subsequently killed. As Hawkeye is pondering how to answer this child, a child is brought in from a local orphanage who has a severe brain injury – and the priest who runs the orphanage prays “Dear God, I thank you for providing….to have them here in this place at this time is truly a sign of Your providence.”  All of a sudden, Hawkeye knows what to write to the poor young student back home, full of so much anger: “I understand your feelings. Sometimes I hate myself for being here. But once in a while, in the midst of this insanity, a very small event can make my being here seem almost bearable.”

I had seen this episode at least 5 times before and yet this was the first time that this whole exchange made me stop and go hmmmm….

I am a woman of strong faith. I have stated over and over and over again that I am sure God has a plan for me, that the struggles and pain that I have suffered for the last 10 years have not been in vain. I constantly recite the AA mantra “Let go and let God.” Despite my faith, I admit that I have often questioned why God has put me in this situation, given me this kind of pain.

Now, thanks to a television show (geez, welcome to religion in America), I have a whole new way of looking at things. Because of God’s plan, I was put here at this moment in time in this particular geographical location for a purpose. Divine providence has brought me to this moment in my life with my own special brand of emotional baggage for a purpose. And, much like Hawkeye, I don’t quite know yet what that purpose is – but I have a strong faith that my small event is coming, that event which will make it all clear.  I have only to wait and to trust in the Lord and to believe that my time is coming. I will let you know when that time comes. In the meantime, I can only hope that I will become Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan when I grow up. But that’s a topic for another day.

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As I have grown older and witnessed the vast inequities in our world, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has become a hero of mine, the voice in my subconscious always urging love, tolerance, peace, nonviolence, and diversity. I have written before on the inspiration that Dr. King has given me in my personal life but today I write about the inspiration that I pray every day he will give to all corners of our society.

On the great day in which he delivered the famous “I Have A Dream” speech, he was speaking specifically on the topic of the racial crisis facing this country. But when Dr. King speaks of rights, promisory notes, and dreams of equality, he was not only talking about equality for black and white but also men and women, gay and straight, rich and poor, young and old, Christian and Muslim. His words painted a canvas of freedom and justice – and almost 50 years later, while we have made amazing progress, that painting is still unfinished.

I am always amazed when I hear Dr. King speak of his hope for a world where blacks and whites can eat together at the same table. Considering that I was married to a black man (and I’m so white, I’m neon), the world has come a long way! In Dr. King’s time, in some areas of the country, I would have been arrested (or worse!) for being with a black man – nowadays it’s not so uncommon and certainly not prosecutable. So many of my friends are of different colors, ethnicities, and backgrounds that it makes the violent and disciminatory realities of Dr. King’s world seem unbelievable. Our world is so much more diverse and tolerant than I’m sure anyone of that era could have ever imagined. And yet, even the most idealistic and naive amongst us can see that there is still progress to be made. There are still inequalities in this world to be solved, injustices to be made right, and discrimination to be overcome.

I, too, have a dream that someday this world will be full of people who treat each other with love, kindness, and fairness. I have a dream that someday physical attributes will not be the ruler by which people are measured – that someday, we will consider ‘pretty’ to be in someone’s soul. I have a dream that skin color, economic status, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation will not be factors in how we judge people – that we will love them regardless of these factors and be influenced only by ‘the contents of their characters’. Dr. King has taught me a lot about the kind of person I want to be and I am sure that I will continue to learn from his words and his actions.

So, I invite you all, on today of all days, to take some time out of your life to view the video of this great orator from August 28, 1963 – and maybe say a prayer for peace and equality and love in the world.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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 So I was driving home from work a few weeks ago and saw this simple statement written on a sign board for one of the more….uh…fundamentalist churches here in Easton. And, while I generally don’t agree with the statements this particular church posts (don’t start sending me hate mail, I just don’t agree with some of their beliefs), this particular statement really got me thinking.

I admit that, for the past several weeks, I have been a tidbit grouchy. Perhaps its the keen sense of loss and grief I feel for the act of eating and enjoying a meal, perhaps it was the surgical experience of having my guts scrambled. Perhaps its the culmination of the past several years of stress, or maybe it was just because I have bottled up too much anxiety lately and it’s starting to manifest. Regardless of the reason, I have been grouchy and grumpy.

But this sign gives me a sharp dose of reality. I should be grateful for the wonderful things and people I have in my life. I have my health (came through the surgery with flying colors, according to the surgeon this week), I have a roof over my head (at least for the time being), I have family and friends near and far, I have a strong fire department family. I have a job that I love and which challenges me daily and I have fantastic, caring coworkers. I have a strong brain and a stronger character (hence why I have lived the last 2 years without one single spiteful action – yay me!). I have hobbies and activities that give me an outlet for stress. I have food in my pantry (which someday I’ll get to eat again) and I have heat in the winter and A/C in the summer. I have a wide and diverse group of people that I truly care about.  I have four-legged furry children who love me unconditionally. What amazing things do you have in your life to be grateful for? What people can cheer you up, make you laugh, help you out, cry with you, and love you always? What blessings have YOU been given?

November means Thanksgiving and I think too often we forget the origins of the holiday – thanks giving! So instead of grumbling and being grouchy this month, I think I’ll choose the “humbly grateful” option. Thank you Lord for giving me life, friends, family and love. Thank you Father for giving me a life that is filled with laughs and lessons. Thank you God for the challenges and obstacles you have given me – it has made me stronger, wiser, and more tolerant. I am truly grateful and humbled by the blessings you have given to me.

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I admit to being one of those bizarre, childless adults that loves kids movies. Those movies are an amazing genre that can tackle all sorts of life lessons in the most simplistic and yet wonderful way. They are also the means by which we are teaching the next generation of people how to treat other people, how to be decent human beings, and how to live their lives to the fullest.

I want you to think about some of MY favorite films – what kinds of lessons do kids learn from Shrek? How about tolerance for those that are different. Or to not judge someone on their looks. Or to believe that dreams can come true. And what about The Little Mermaid? Learn that everyone has dreams and wishes, regardless of their species or differences. Or what about the Harry Potter series? We learn about depending on their friends, about not calling other people names or judging them because of their backgrounds, about respecting the rules, about being brave in the face of adversity.

Children’s movies mold our younger generations by posing questions about the world they live in, by taking everyday problems (peer pressure, teasing, telling the truth, right vs wrong, etc.) and putting them in fantastical situations that appeal to their imaginations. But I firmly believe that those same movies can teach us, as adults, those exact same lessons! Too many times in my adult life I have witnessed other ‘grownups’ who need to learn about treating other human beings with kindness and compassion, about not judging people (skin color, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political ideologies, etc.), about truth and honesty, and so many others. Adults are not exempt from the rules of basic human goodness – and if it takes a movie to remind them of that, then I will buy the whole damn world a ticket!

One of my favorite learning opportunities that is cloaked in the guise of a kids’ movie is a treasure called “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.” On the outside it looks like a quirky picture with an oddly-assorted yet mega-talented cast (Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, and Jason Bateman) but on closer examination, it is a wonderful life lesson on the power of belief, discovering one’s self, and faith in things unseen. It is filled with some great gems of wisdom:

Mr. Magorium: Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.

Eric: All stories, even the ones we love, must eventually come to an end and when they do, it’s only an opportunity for another story to begin.

Mr. Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words.

I’ve lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I’m only asking that you turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest “He died.”

Mr. Magorium: We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.

Henry Weston: You know, some people… send flowers, or cards, or… give people hugs. I… make sure their paper work’s all in order. I thought I’d try something different.

Eric: What Mahoney needed was the opportunity to prove to herself that she was something more than she believed.

I often find myself identifying with ALL of these characters – the dreamer, the lost soul, the anal retentive one, the sage, the pragmatist, the inner child. It is truly one of those movies that you find yourself pondering on long after the final credits roll – regardless of the fact that it was marketed to an audience that packs Fruit RollUps and Cheetos for lunch. And it’s a movie that will urge you to rediscover the magical, wonderful, exciting things in the world around you. If you haven’t already seen this film, I HIGHLY suggest you give it a try. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone that you’re watching kids’ movies….

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately as to why I started (and have continued) this blog. Many people have weighed in, both positively and negatively, on my writings – but I’m not sure that I’m writing it for anyone else but myself. I have learned a lot about myself by putting my thoughts down for the world to see. I’m not writing to hurt anyone or to cause hard feelings, I’m not hosting my own pity party, I’m not using an easy outlet for my anger and bitterness. I’m not publicly exposing the secrets and foibles of my family and friends (with the exception of my lying, cheating bastard of an ex-husband) and I’m not ridiculing the people I love. I am simply exploring who I am and what I want in this world.

I am reading an absolutely fantastic book right now called Eat, Pray, Love about one woman’s attempt to find herself. She was lucky enough to have the money to travel all over the world to discover herself – a luck which I don’t share – but she wrote about her experiences. I wonder if she took a lot of crap for having written about her friends, family, and strangers that she met along the way? I wonder if people took offense when she dared to include them in her stories or to express her opinions about their actions.

I can’t apologize for my observations on the world and for finding my voice. I am only just relearning how to express myself and my feelings. Granted, I probably shouldn’t be using the Internet as a way to redefine myself – my ex-husband is right that it is an awfully public forum – but I wonder if I need the sense of commiseration and companionship? It comforts me somehow when I know someone somewhere has read what I have to say and has listened to me. I know that sounds pathetic but it’s true. I like knowing that someone out there may be feeling the way that I do or may be going through the same life-changing events that I am.

But, lastly, I write because it makes me happy.

“In addition to her secret pleasure in reading, Laura enjoyed writing. Nothing serious or big or personal, no journal stuffed between the mattresses, no shoe box filled with smudged pages, no amazing blog that had made her famous in cyberspace. She was satisfied with a small stage…this method of relationship was far more gratifying to her than speaking by phone or in person. For one thing, she was an entirely different Laura on the screen; she liked herself far better in print. It was curious, that she was so much more interesting and witty and sure when no other human being was present…”   ~”Laura Rider’s Masterpiece” by Jane Hamilton

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One of my favorite movies of all times is a little-known Will Farrell film called Stranger Than Fiction. Now, I know that most Will Farrell movies are either dumb (Talladega Nights, anyone?) or an acquired taste (for those of you that loved Anchorman). But Stranger Than Fiction is a totally different breed of movie. It follows a tax accountant, Harold, who lives a quiet, routine, and boring life – who suddenly wakes up one morning with an unknown voice narrating his life and controlling his movements. He struggles, every single moment, with a suddenly-changed life and the new concept that someone else is making the decisions to control his life. See where I’m going with this? Do you understand why I can identify with Harold? I too am now wandering a path laid by someone else – and am struggling a bit with it. I do have to admit, though, that I envy Harold – he has Kay (his narrator) to help guide him. I often feel that I am on my path alone, that I am standing alone in a room screaming for help and no one is there to guide me.

But one of my favorite parts of the movie is when Harold discovers what contributions can be made to this world, how the little things around us can save us from drowning.

Kay Eiffel: As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

This little concept has really made me think, made me ponder what contributions I am making to the world around me, what small things I can offer to the human beings around me to help make their journeys easier. What small gifts can I give to the world to help make someone else’s life better?

There are so many things that I want to do and to be, so many dreams yet to be lived and so many goals yet to be met. It’s almost overwhelming to me sometimes. But I do know that I have decided one important thing: if I’m going to make the world a brighter place, I’m going to do it with cookies…

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One of the guys in the firehouse  has implied that I am a Man-Hater. In fact, he was nervous allowing me to be alone with his girlfriend (who herself is divorced) for a couple of glasses of wine for fear that I would turn her into a Man-Hater too. I am so saddened by this implication because, honestly, I truly do love men. Many of my best friends are of the male persuasion and I adore the  unique perspective they have on life.

I tried to explain to my friend that I do NOT hate all men in general – maybe just one. And I’m not even sure I can hate him – my ex has truly shown himself as an AssHat as a husband – but I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a firefighter and paramedic. It’s very hard to hate someone you admire. But in thinking about being accused of being a Man-Hater, it reminded me of one of my favorite movies, “Runaway Bride.” In the opening scenes of the movie, a cynical male columnist writes this about us women:

Today is a day of profound introspection. I have been accused of using this column to direct bitter diatribes at the opposite sex. This uncomfortable accusation has plunged me into at least a minute of serious reflection, from which I have emerged with the conclusion that, yes, I traffic in female stereotypes. But how can one blame me when every time I step out my front door, I meet fresh proof that the female archetypes are alive and well. The mother, the virgin, the whore, the crone. They’re elbowing you in the subway, stealing your cabs, and overwhelming you with perfume in elevators. But perhaps in fairness to the fairer sex, I do need to broaden my horizon and add some new goddesses to the pantheon. I would like to nominate for deity the cheerleader, the coed – and the man-eater, the last of which concerns me most today. In ancient Greece, this fearsome female was known as Erinys, the devouring death goddess. In India, she is Kali, who likes to devour her boyfriend Shiva’s entrails while her yoni devours his dot, dot, dot… never mind. In Indonesia, the bloody-jawed man-eater is called Ragma.  You notice these are all countries without cable. And in Hale, Maryland, where she helps run the family hardware store, she is known as Miss Maggie Carpenter…

How ironic that, since my ex has accused me of using this blog to display my bitterness and my friends think I have gone off men altogether, I am labeled a Man-Hater. I guess I am in good company, though, as you look at “Runaway Bride’s” researched list of mythological divinities that have paved the way for me. I am certainly, according to this list, not the first woman to be frustrated beyond belief by the actions of the opposite sex. And, as many of you reading this are probably female, you can understand the things that guys do that make us crazy…

But, as I said before, I really am NOT a Man-Hater. I would hope my guy friends could testify that I pride myself on being “just one of the guys.” I depend on my men to keep me grounded and to help me to let go of grudges, to not allow emotions to get in the way of reason, and to be a little selfish sometimes. My guys are the balance to the estrogen of my girlfriends and I need them to help me not take life so seriously, to laugh at the absurd, and to relax a little more. I rely on them to teach me about beer, baseball, fart humor, and the genius of Mel Brooks movies.

So, I am proclaiming here and now (are you listening, Chris?) I am NOT a Man-Hater! I will not be turning into Kali and devouring your entrails or going postal on your guyness. My guy friends are wonderfully unique creatures totally different from my girly self and I am truly blessed to have them to keep me straight and to keep me laughing!

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