Monday, February 18, 2008

Birth-week Celebrations, Feb 2008

33 years on this earth. 33 years of breaths. 33 years of heartbeats. 33 years of dreams.

The so called ‘age of Jesus’:

“I think it is a safe bet that God considers 33 to be the perfect physical age for maturation- anything before that is young, anything after is older. So it's been speculated that, physically at least, all of us will appear to be 33 years old in Heaven.”

33…A powerful numerology number:

“There are 3 double-digit numbers that, while they are rooted in the single-digit numbers, require special emphasis and attention. These are 11, 22, and 33.

They are called Master numbers because they possess more potential than other numbers. They are highly charged, difficult to handle, and require time, maturity, and great effort to integrate into one's personality.

The 11 is the most intuitive of all numbers. It represents illumination; a channel to the subconscious; insight without rational thought; and sensitivity, nervous energy, shyness, and impracticality. It is a dreamer. The 11 has all the aspects of the 2, enhanced and charged with charisma, leadership, and inspiration. It is a number with inborn duality, which creates dynamism, inner conflict, and other catalyses with its mere presence. It is a number that, when not focused on some goal beyond itself, can be turned inward to create fears and phobias. The 11 walks the edge between greatness and self-destruction. Its potential for growth, stability, and personal power lies in its acceptance of intuitive understanding, and of spiritual truths. For the 11, such peace is not found so much in logic, but in faith. It is the psychic's number.

The 22 is the most powerful of all numbers. It is often called the Master Builder. The 22 can turn the most ambitious of dreams into reality. It is potentially the most successful of all numbers. It has many of the inspirational insights of the 11, combined with the practicality and methodical nature of the 4. It is unlimited, yet disciplined. It sees the archetype, and brings it down to earth in some material form. It has big ideas, great plans, idealism, leadership, and enormous self-confidence. If not practical, the 22s waste their potential. Like the 11, the 22 can easily shrink from its own ambition, causing difficult interior pressures. Both the 11 and the 22 experience the pressure-cooker effect very strongly, particularly at an early age. It must work toward the realization of goals that are larger than personal ambition. The 22 serves the world in a practical way.

The 33 is the most influential of all numbers. It is the Master Teacher. The 33 combines the 11 and the 22 and brings their potential to another level. When expressed to the fullest, the 33 lacks all personal ambition, and instead focuses its considerable abilities toward the spiritual uplifting of mankind. What makes the 33 especially impressive, is the high level of sincere devotion. This is shown in its determination to seek understanding and wisdom before preaching to others. The 33 in full force is extremely rare.

Another way to look at the Master numbers:

The Master numbers 11, 22, and 33 represent a triangle. A triangle of Enlightenment.”

I’ve personally got a lot of hope and anticipation for 33. I believe it will be a life altering year. I also think it will be my best year on Earth yet. I’m really excited about the possibilities…

  • Nursing School (I’ll find out in March/April if I’m starting this year).
  • Publishing a Photo Book on Tibet (draft is ready to send out, just need an intro letter)
  • Discover art with avenues other than photography (ceramics mostly)
  • Further developing my life in Portland (making new friends and connections)
  • Continuing to simplify my life (supporting local, less car more bike, sustainability)
  • Adventuring the Pac NW (ocean, rivers, mountains, forest…YES!)
  • Always finding ways to grow closer to myself, my life partner and God
  • Possibly pregnancy???

I could go on about what I’m looking forward to. The list is endless. I’m filled with just an utter and sacred sense of wonder and enthusiasm for life. Things just seem to be happening and I feel I’m learning to surf the roller coaster of this very uniquely human experience in the world like I’m learning to surf the snowy mountain ridges.

I can only hope to maintain this sense of child-like curiosity and unbridled happiness at being alive. But to think that I’ve come so far in 10 years…even less. It was not that long ago that I was in therapy and seriously struggling with tenacious depression…Another time, another place…same roots. That same dark soul is now bright and that storm I weathered makes this joyful and blessed time all the more welcome and strong.

The last few days, my birth-week celebration, as I’m calling was sublime. Whatever is above and beyond perfect…it was that. Wednesday was my birthday proper and Leigh and I woke up to the rare and beautiful February blue skies of Portland (although I have been known to bring the sunshine to Feb wherever I may be). After a delicious treat of homemade cinnamon rolls…divine only begins to describe this fast becoming birthday tradition. Packing a lunch, we loaded into my new-ish Subaru and took her out to the beach for a picnic and some checking in with Mother Ocean. Hitting 33, I need to get some guidance from the waves and wind.

Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall
You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all

Watched the men who rode you switch from sails to steam
And in your belly you hold the treasures few have ever seen
Most of em dream, most of em dream

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothin to plunder
I’m an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late

I’ve done a bit of smugglin, I’ve run my share of grass
I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast
Never meant to last, never meant to last

And I have been drunk now for over two weeks
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I got stop wishin, got to go fishin
Down to rock bottom again
Just a few friends, just a few friends

I go for younger women, lived with several awhile
Though I ran em away, they’d come back one day
Still could manage to smile
Just takes a while, just takes a while

Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I’ve found
My occupational hazard being my occupations just not around
I feel like I’ve drowned, gonna head uptown

We drove across the Columbia over to Washington and then headed west, following the mighty river the whole drive out. It was beautiful. I was constantly reminded of Lewis & Clark exploring this river over 200 years ago (oh how it’s changed!), riding its current on the search for the elusive Northwest Passage. We saw seals (or sea lions or sea otters) in the river 60 miles inland, swimming upstream. Beautiful and a special treat. We drove through all kinds of charming farmland and through the lovely coastal range until we finally hit Cape Disappointment State Park (here).

We grabbed our bags and blanket and hit the windswept expanse of sand and surf to relish the delicious delicacies that Leigh prepared for us – falafel, hummus, fresh tomatoes & lettuce, yogurt sauce…YUM! It got better. She just kept pulling all these wonderful things out of her bag of tricks – organic root beer, a smoked porter, blackberry soda. And that was before dessert. She is truly too good to me. I am very lucky to have found her.

After the goodies, we took a short walk on the beach, examining the crazy designs the surf and sand create, the awesome views up and down the coast and in both directions seeing lighthouses. We got to watching the little ‘squirrels of the beach’, the sandpipers run so fast up and down the beach avoiding the foamy waters that they’re legs became little cartoonish blurs. Admiring the grace of the seagulls alternatively fighting and playing in the strong breezes.

From the beach we took a short drive to the stop of the Cape to look out from the lighthouse where the mighty Columbia River meets the mightier Pacific. The maelstrom of currents created there has been the graveyard of ships for centuries. In the last 200 years, there have been more than 2,000 shipwrecks recorded along this section of coast! No wonder it’s called Cape Disappointment. From our high perspective, we saw three dolphins playing in the waves below and watched the Coast Guard drop their divers in training into the churning waters for training. Cold, cold, unforgiving waters!

We didn’t get as much time at the beach as we wished and had to head back after the lighthouse view, but we still enjoyed our ride back. It was such a special day, a magic day no doubt, that we saw 3 different rainbows. 3 rainbows! Are you kidding me? So incredibly special. One was so close to us that I swear I saw the leprechaun dancing with his pot of gold. A beautiful and perfect birthday if there ever was one!

The next day (Thursday, Cupid Day) I hit Mount Hood from the best day of snowboarding I think I have ever experienced. It was another blue sky, crystal clear warm-ish day with no wind at all (which is just totally unheard of to get all three to line up like this…notice the 3 theme happening?). The day was perfect in every way – the lift ticket was free (I’m volunteering for a non-profit group called Chill – here - , a Burton Snowboard off shoot that brings inner city and at risk youth up to the mtn and teaches them how to snowboard), the weather was perfect and there was absolutely NO ONE on the mtn with me…it was like my own personal snow park. I boarded hard, through trees, down really fast slopes, carving up any powder I could find…and there was lots!

After lunch, I met my Chill group coming up and worked with the 30 or so kids form inner Portland and working with other volunteers and the resort’s instructors helped coach many of them to staying up on their boards within an hour or two. For many of these kids it was the first time they had done anything like this at all. To see their faces light up with joy, accomplishment, confidence…and see to them cheer and encourage each other on was inspiring and fulfilling. Almost better than the boarding that morning…almost, but not quite.

Saturday, another ridiculously beautiful Oregon day, we celebrated with a bunch of our Portland friends by going hiking in the Columbia River Gorge on a trail leading up to Angel’s Rest, the most spectacular view of the river I’ve ever seen. We hiked to the top with a group of 7. It was a great hike – waterfalls, forest, breathtaking views, rocky cliffs and an unbelievable sunset.

We all then met up another couple friends at a fun McMenamin’s place called Edgefield – here - on the way back into town.

“It is a world of relaxation that seamlessly blends Oregon's natural beauty with McMenamins' signature whimsy: historic buildings of all sizes artfully restored and rich with cozy interiors, tranquil ponds and dazzling gardens, great food and drink, plentiful entertainment and surprising recreations. Encompassing a lush 38-acre parcel of farmland at the mouth of the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, Edgefield is a 15-minute car ride to or from the center of downtown Portland.

The stately main Edgefield building (circa 1911), with over 100 European-style guestrooms and hostel accommodations, is a national historic landmark. Each spacious room is furnished in charming turn-of-the-century decor. There are no televisions or telephones in the rooms, encouraging tranquility as surely as do the rocking chairs on our verandas. In the morning, join us in the Black Rabbit Restaurant for breakfast.

On the grounds, you will find a plethora of diversions. Enjoy our fine-dining restaurant, classic pub, numerous small bars and colorful summertime grill. For liquid refreshment you will enjoy handcrafted ales, wines, spirits and aromatic house roasted coffees created by McMenamins.”

I am amazed at how quickly Leigh and I have found our ‘niche’ here in Portland. We have amazing friends who love us and are totally inspiring. It’s like we landed into open arms. Portland has truly embraced us and I am so grateful.

Sunday was a special day for just Leigh and me. We made reservations at a place called Urban Fondue in the chi-chi part of NW Portland – here. We had the three course set dinner which included a cheese fondue with bread and fruit to start, our meats in our chicken cilantro basil broth and for dessert we got the Black Forest chocolate fondue with vanilla crème and cherries. This culinary treat was served with a plate of cut up doughnuts, pound cake, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie dough…holy decadence Batman! Uh, yeah…

So that was my ridiculously decadent, wonderful, sublime, incredible, beautiful, fun perfect birth-week celebration. What a beginning to 33! I can only hope it’s an auspicious start to the rest of the year and another 33 years of full life experience.

With light.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Yes We Can!...and we should.

Staying political....Super Tuesday in a few days. BIG day.

I’m giving you Obama's victory speech in SC, which brought chills and a couple tears. For one of the first times, listening to a politician at that, I remembered our American ideal, the land of the free, home of the brave, a model democracy for the world....I haven't ever felt this hopeful about making a necessary change in the direction of American politics.

Below the victory speech is an op-ed by Caroline Kennedy from NY Times. She puts it perfectly when she says, "Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual."

January 26th, 2008 -

"Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country’s desire for something new – who said Iowa was a fluke not to be repeated again.

Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.

After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we’ve seen in a long, long time.

They are young and old; rich and poor. They are black and white; Latino and Asian. They are Democrats from Des Moines and Independents from Concord; Republicans from rural Nevada and young people across this country who’ve never had a reason to participate until now. And in nine days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again.

But if there’s anything we’ve been reminded of since Iowa, it’s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy. Partly because we have fine candidates in the field – fierce competitors, worthy of respect. And as contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a contest for the Democratic nomination, and that all of us share an abiding desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.

But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington – a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got; with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care they can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.

So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against.

We are up against the belief that it’s ok for lobbyists to dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.

We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.

We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.

And what we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It’s the politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won’t cross over. The assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don’t vote. The assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate; whites can’t support the African-American candidate; blacks and Latinos can’t come together.

But we are here tonight to say that this is not the America we believe in. I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.

That is the country I see. That is the country you see. But now it is up to us to help the entire nation embrace this vision. Because in the end, we are not just up against the ingrained and destructive habits of Washington, we are also struggling against our own doubts, our own fears, and our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.

So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. That change will take time. There will be setbacks, and false starts, and sometimes we will make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope. Because there are people all across this country who are counting us; who can’t afford another four years without health care or good schools or decent wages because our leaders couldn’t come together and get it done.

Theirs are the stories and voices we carry on from South Carolina.

The mother who can’t get Medicaid to cover all the needs of her sick child – she needs us to pass a health care plan that cuts costs and makes health care available and affordable for every single American.

The teacher who works another shift at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet – she needs us to reform our education system so that she gets better pay, and more support, and her students get the resources they need to achieve their dreams.

The Maytag worker who is now competing with his own teenager for a $7-an-hour job at Wal-Mart because the factory he gave his life to shut its doors – he needs us to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it. And struggling homeowners. And seniors who should retire with dignity and respect.

The woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breathe since the day her nephew left for Iraq, or the soldier who doesn’t know his child because he’s on his third or fourth tour of duty – they need us to come together and put an end to a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

It’s about the past versus the future.

It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

There are those who will continue to tell us we cannot do this. That we cannot have what we long for. That we are peddling false hopes.

But here’s what I know. I know that when people say we can’t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of the elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day – an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 along with a verse of scripture tucked inside. So don’t tell us change isn’t possible.

When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change can’t happen.

When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who’s now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign. Don’t tell me we can’t change.

Yes we can change.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can seize our future.

And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and take this journey across the country we love with the message we’ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words:

Yes. We. Can."


Op-Ed from Caroline Kennedy –

A President Like My Father


Published: January 27, 2008

Over the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.