---Alice Abrams

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Echoes of "Silliness"

So many captions, so little time!!! Join the fun and add your own!
1. We're off to see the wizard...
2. This is carrying the whole "metrosexual" thing way too far!
3. No, I think I look better than you do.
4. Face it, we both look like idiots.
5. Looks like we have the same proctologist, huh?
6. What kind of handbag do you carry with a get-up like this?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Echoes of Gratitude

I found my "Gratitude Journal," a few months ago. I think I made ten or eleven entries several years back. I started again in April of this year and then it got put away when we had the house painted.

On the front page of the newspaper this morning was an article entitled, "Being Happier Stumps Science," (Malcolm Ritter, AP science writer). The article is quite lengthy but worth looking up. The premise is that studies show "for decades, a widely accepted view has been that people are stuck with a basic setting on their happiness thermostat. It says the effects of good or bad life events like marriage, a raise, divorce, or disability will simply fade with time.

We adapt to them just like we stop noticing a bad odor ...after a while. ...But recent long-term studies have revealed that the happiness thermostat is more malleable than the popular theory maintained, at least in its extreme form. 'Set-point is not destiny,' says psychologist Ed Diener of the University of Illinois.

As a motivation speaker and executive coach, Caroline Adams Miller knows a few things about using mental exercises to achieve goals. But last year, one exercise she was asked to try took her by surprise.

Every night, she was to think of three good things that happened that day and analyze why they occurred. That was supposed to increase her overall happiness.

'I thought it was too simple to be effective,' said Miller. 'I went to Harvard. I'm used to things being complicated.'

Miller was assigned the task as homework in a master's degree program. But as a chronic worrier, she knew she could use the kind of boost the exercise was supposed to deliver.

She got it.

'The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier.'
she said.

Results may vary, as they say in the weight-loss ads. But that exercise is one of several that have shown preliminary promise in recent research into how people can make themselves happier - not just for a day or two, but longterm. It's part of a larger body of work that challenges a long-standing skepticism about whether that's even possible.

The think-of-three good things exercise that Miller, the motivations speaker, found so simplistic at first is among those being tested at the University of Pennsylvania.

People keep doing it on their own because it's immediately rewarding. It makes people focus more on good things that happen, which might otherwise be forgotten because of daily disappointments.

Miller said the exercise made her notice more good things in her day, and that now she routinely lists 10 or 20 of them rather than just three.

Any long-term effect will probably depend on people continuing to work at it, just as folks who move to Southern California can lose their appreciation of the ocean and weather unless they pursue activities that highlight those natural benefits, said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of Riverside.

'Happiness is the process, not the place', says Diener. 'So many of us think that when we get everything just right, and obtain certain goals and circumstances, everything will be in place and we will be happy...but once we get everything in place, we still need new goals and activities. The Princess could not just stop when she got the Prince.' "
So, in light of this, I think it's time I seek out my gratitude journal and begin finding at least three things to be grateful for everyday!

Echoes of "Wet Fur"

These are my unlicensed therapists. Look at those eyes...don't they look bright and caring?
They listen to my every hurt and heartache. And the best part? I never get a bill.

Throughout my life I have always had a dog. And from my youngest days, I can remember the feeling of pouring out my heart to my fuzzy psychiatrists and spilling tears onto shiny coats and never feeling rejected.

Warm wet noses, gentle brown eyes and wet fur.

Echoes of Shadows

I took this photo because the shadow intrigued me. Shadows create the "light against dark" that make a picture more interesting than just a flat image.

We carry shadows on our souls and hearts - reflections of our lives, words said and deeds done, by us and to us. They create who we are, how we react to situations in our lives that fling us back into the past where a shadow formed. We cannot remove these shadows - they are permanent. What we can change is our reaction when these shadows loom large again and cause us pain.

I dwell in "Shadowland," where the shadows threaten to overwhelm who I should be. Instead, I live with past hurts and rejections and allow them more space than they are entitled to. I suppose this is true of most people who are chronically depressed. We've all been told about those "tapes" that play in our brains, you know - the negative tapes that replay over and over again every single thing we've been told about ourselves that hurt. "You're stupid, you're fat, you're lazy," all the hateful things we heard on the playground and in our homes. We've been told to replace the negative tapes with positive tapes. be con't.

One of the first things I read this morning:

Nurturing Yourself
Cognitive Restructuring

Just for a moment, picture yourself as a child clutching a ribbon tied to a beautiful helium-filled balloon. As long as you hold the ribbon, the balloon will do your bidding, following where you lead. But if the ribbon slips out of your hand, the balloon soars upward and you lose control over it. It may go only as far as the ceiling of the room you’re standing in, or it may fly into the sky.
The thoughts that race through your mind sometimes follow suit. You may start with a simple thought, such as "the train is late," only to have it drift out of control. "I’ll be late to work. I won’t make it to my meeting on time. My boss will be angry with me. My job is in jeopardy."

Sometimes even seemingly happy thoughts hurtle down the same track. "Wonderful, the lab report says my biopsy results are negative!" can quickly turn to "I wonder how good that lab is? Maybe the results were positive, and the lab didn’t pick it up. Cancer that’s undetected gets worse. By the time the error is found, it could be too late."

Cognitive distortions: These scenarios are examples of cognitive distortions. They can engage the stress response almost as easily as a growling Doberman bounding in your direction. So, too, can the barrage of negative thoughts that many people play through their minds on an endless loop, or flip on automatically when faced with certain people or situations. Familiar examples include: "I look awful," "I can’t do this," "I’m stupid," "I’m such a screw-up," and "I’m a loser." The voice may be yours or that of someone else from your life, such as an overly critical parent.

Even in the absence of obviously stressful situations, this inner critic can make you miserable and stressed. Cognitive therapy is built on the premise that thoughts and perceptions shape moods and emotions. A stream of highly negative thoughts may contribute to depression and anxiety. These negative thoughts are often riddled with irrational distortions and exaggerations. They can be examined and deflated, though, once you learn the skills of cognitive restructuring, a cognitive therapy technique that helps people change the way they think.

Cognitive therapy (I "googled" Cognitive Therapy and went to Wikipedia for this definition. It has much more information and definitions. I highly recommend!)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Cognitive therapy or cognitive behavior therapy is a kind of psychotherapy used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, delusional disorder and other forms of mental disorder.
It involves recognizing unhelpful or destructive patterns of thinking and reacting, then modifying or replacing these with more realistic or helpful ones. Its practitioners hold that clinical depression is typically associated with negatively biased thinking and irrational thoughts. Cognitive therapy is often used in conjunction with mood stabilizing medications to treat bipolar disorder

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Echoes of "The Dream of Peace..."

I was given a great gift. I had a dream that brought healing and hope; sweetness and light; faith and peace.

My parents were 30 when I was born, and then a teen-ager in the sixties. They were born in 1917 and 1919. It's difficult to image the immense changes in science and technology, let alone culture. I was extremely close to my dad but I gave him a lot of grief in high school. My mom let me know just how much grief: high blood pressure. He died a few years later of a massive heart attack. I took it upon myself to carry the weight of his death on my shoulders, placing the responsibility of his heart attack on my actions.

I never had the opportunity to know him as an adult. I was barely 21 when he died. I never said, "I'm truly sorry." I prayed one night and asked God to please tell my dad how very sorry I was for the hurt I had caused.

One morning, I awoke after having the most vivid dream of my life. It was brief but as clear as if I had literally walked into the scene and taken a photograph of every image and nuance.

The Dream ~~~It was nighttime and cold. You could see your breath in front of you. I was at a train station right out of the 1940's. There was a structure under which the train pulled in, steam and smoke boiling out of the engine and from underneath the big beast. I've never cared much for trains but this one was special. I had an air of anticipation and even though I was standing back in the distance watching, I knew I had to come closer. A door opened and a man, wearing an overcoat and a fedora stepped through, turning to give his hand to a woman, wearing a heavy winter coat with a fur collar, and a hat. They were definitely dressed in clothing from the '40's. They stepped onto the platform and looked toward me, as though they were expecting me. Through the dim station lights, steam and foggy air, I could finally see their faces. It was my mother and father.

They looked just as they did in photographs I had seen when they were in Washington D.C. during the war. Young, bright-eyed, and very much in love. As their eyes alighted on me, my mother rushed toward me with her arms outstretched, my father following quickly behind her. I hurried to them and as we met, we gathered each other in an embrace, holding on tightly, the three of us. My mother said, "We love you." And I knew that this was the greatest gift of all: Forgiveness.

I reveled in their closeness and the sweetness of their presence, their essence, their being. There were no other words said and as we continued to embrace, I could hear the steam from the train, still standing on the platform and I knew our time together was at a close. We walked toward the train and they mounted the steps. As they withdrew from my grasp, they once again said, "We love you," and the train slowly pulled away from the station, into the night. I could see their breath in the air as they waved slowly, smiling at me until I could no longer see their faces.

I have never believed that dreams have a purpose or are anything other than busy thoughts of our daily lives and inner turmoil. Until now.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Echoes of a Gray Heart...

Thanksgiving is in two days. I forgot to mail my cousin's birthday card so it would get to her in time so I sent her an e-card. How thoughtful of me. She is always on time and I'm a day late and dollar short. I think about these things for days and then, when the time gets close, I drop the ball. I have a project for her I've been thinking about and working on in my mind, but I haven't been able to actualize it. I hate this about myself.

Thanksgiving - I have no idea where my son is, haven't talked with my oldest, and my youngest and her boys are going to my brother's. I felt a subtle "grayness" creep into my veins and fill up my heart. When C asked me about it, I told her there was no way we could go because of the "dog issue," and even at that, it's about $75 just to board the birds for that length of time (Wednesday-Monday). I asked Wally about just going down for Friday for dinner and he told me he really doesn't feel like he wants to beat himself up by driving 4-6 hours that day, and that he doesn't feel that he wants to be around KR right now.

I told him that I had tried so hard not to let my problem with him seep into other's relationships. I told L & C that they needed to overlook my issues and not let it influence them. But my poor husband is the one that saw me fall apart and weep, not understanding what I'd done. He's had to bear the brunt of my breakdown and he can't let go. I understand that. I am sorry for it, as well. He once said that KR was like the brother he never had. One mistake, one misunderstanding and a family is torn asunder. Maybe that's too harsh a term, after all, I'm free to go down anytime I like. It's just no longer my home. I should've gotten over that a long time ago. It stopped being home when my mom died. I just didn't get it.

THANKSGIVING - I have a lot of things to be thankful for. I do have people that love me, I just make it so difficult for them. I retreat and push away at the same time. Even though I sometimes wish I no longer exist, I do. I would never wish pain on those I love. Somewhere, deep inside of me, a primal part of me, I could never bring shame or pain to Wally, my children, or Lynne.

That I take refuge in my belief in God and His grace to see us all through the messes in our lives; the shadows that linger. For that I give Thanks.

I give Thanks to God for His saving grace - without it, I wouldn't be able to find my way in the dark and embrace the morning light.

Echoes of a Gray and Foggy Day...

It's a gray and foggy day here, has been now for a couple of days. My view is not quite the same as it is here, looking out over the valley over the Napali coastline on Kaua'i. I have a much more limited vista from my own front porch (and much colder!).

Corinne got in from London late last night. She almost didn't make it at all. She lost her passport! She was surrounded by armed men at the airport and after three hours of intense manuevering and phone calls, managed to make her flight home.

Take note: For frequent travelers abroad - store a copy of your passport in your computer and store it where you can access it from an internet navigator.

She had a wonderful time - saw all the landmarks this time, stayed away from bangers, steak and kidney pie and warm ale. But she did have a $40 waffle at the hotel! They met a Scottish cop from (where else but) Scotland, an Aussie from New York, and Gail's online beau from Liverpool. They spent a day in Paris, which, unfortunately, was not very enjoyable due to a massive lack of sleep from the night before. She thinks she saw the "Arch de Triumphe," but isn't real sure. They drove by the Louvre on a bus but decided not to stop because it was too large to do justice to...

Some French man asked her if she'd ever slept with a frenchman. She asked him if that wasn't a "bit too bold to be asking." He told her he'd willingly oblige. I'm sure he would. They ordered lasagne for lunch because they couldn't understand the menu. They were too afraid of winding up with some strange, exotic dish so stuck with the familiar. C'est la vie, n'est pas???

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Echoes of More Beauty

I don't want to end the day on a sour note so I'll add some photos that I've FINALLY learned to download from my Kodak gallery. And it was SO easy. Duh...

1. The mighty Kern river! White water rafting is popular. People from out of county love to come up for swimming and that's where the problems begin. Beautiful but oh, so deadly...
2. The leaves of the Canna Lilly are striped so
colorfully and they match the coleus well. Hmmm. Have to remember that for the next planting...
3. Wally loves coleus so I always try to plant some every spring. These turned out very well...

Echoes of Arrogance

This fractures me. The art is crappy, for one thing, even for a children's book. Liberals talk about unity constantly, then in books slanted especially for children, they start brainwashing by pointing out how terrible Republicans are.

Isn't that sweet...Oh, by the way. The reason I found this, it was on an Amazon ad for "the book George Bush doesn't want you to read." I guess not! Nor would any other thinking person!!!

For further arrogance, check out the author's note under "contact author." She evidently can dish it out, but please don't bother her with a rebuttal. Coward.

Echoes of Beauty

It was a typical fall day today...clear skies, chilly, bright colors, crisp. So why am I posting a photo of a palm tree? This is a shot I took by the river the day we took the trip to the fern grotto. I want to paint this some day, when my paints aren't all packed up and I can get to all of my supplies. Hawai'i is beautiful in the fall, too. We've been there in May, September and October. The colors are always the same. Everything is bright and alive, and in Kaua'i, it's probably wet! That's what I loved so much - the dampness and earthiness of the place.

The fern grotto was coming back after being devastated by a hurricane (can't remember which one). I was running around snapping photos right and left, of the ferns and Wally...and a young German tourist came up to me and asked me if he could take a photo of me and Wally together with my camera. He said we looked so much in love! I honestly think that's one of the nicest things a stranger has ever said to me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Echoes of Fun and Fonts

Kaysar...the most beautiful face on Big Brother -whatever number it was. I have always had a "thing" for dark, swarthy guys. He sure fit the bill, and was a gentleman, to boot! Who says reality TV is all bad???
Played around with the new settings on the blog and think I'll try this template for a while. It's not as glaring as the other one, although I loved the contrast of the dark blue with the photos.
I love color and contrasts, light against dark and shadows. It's always intriguing to see what color can do to lighten a mood or darken it.
Studies show that even the worst of prisoners respond to the color pink. I don't think my son-in-law would like the fed prison painted pink inside. (He's a C.O.). Red is definitely a stimulus and it's why it's used in so many restaurants and dining rooms. It promotes appetite and conversation. That's why I tend to move towards shades of greens. They're cool and comforting. I went through the orange/turquoise/olive green stage; now I want peace and languid solitude, someplace where I can dream of being by a stream, shaded by ferns and tall, aromatic pines.
My youngest took off for England yesterday with her friend, Gail. They're going to Paris for a day. I told her to be certain to wear an American flag pin and forego wearing deodorant. Yeah, like that will happen. Last time she was in England, she was with her son's soccer club and they didn't get in a lot of sight-seeing, so they're planning on tons of that and some shopping. Harrod's should be gorgeous, what with all the decorations this time of year!
One more bit of news about her. She took off her husband's wedding band. She's been wearing it on a chain around her neck ever since he died (April '05). She's got a guy...They've only been dating a couple of months but she seems so happy!!! She just told me because he's an employee and she was afraid I'd be worried. He's volunteered to quit and find something else so it won't be an issue. He has a real estate license but as we all know, that's kinda rough right now! He just got it when the market started tilting. He's 38, been in the Navy, he's a believer, has a six-year-old daughter...Have to see what happens. She is anxious for us to meet him when she returns from "Jolly Old England."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Echoes of Defeat?

I've used this image before but it just fits how I feel about the outcome of this election. Blah! Nancy Pelosi??? Harry Reid??? Ted Kennedy??? The list of loons could go on and on but why bother. We know the cast of characters and now we'll get to listen to them front and center for the next two years. Whooopie! I guess we're going to hell in a handbasket.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Echoes of "Election Day"

How many days have we put up with political advertising and all the mud-slinging that goes along with it? (Lynne, better stop here ;^) )
Everytime Gore and Clinton came on the TV with their ridiculous reasons to vote for Prop 87 (in California, no less) I grabbed my trusty remote and hit the mute button.
Due to the rough handling my poor remote has received these last few months, I'm gonna have to trade it in.
Seriously, if I have to listen to Pelosi or Reid gloat for the next two years, I'm going to find a cave somewhere and live like John the Baptist. I've eaten roasted grasshoppers before and I love honey. I'm not too certain about the hair shirt, though. The only good thing I can think of that can come out of this whole mess is that the dems will screw things up so badly, people will be more than glad to elect a Republican prez in '08.
I can't bear the thought of Her Royal Highness, HRC, as president for four years.

Both sides had better clean up their acts and support the war on terror and blasting the insurgents all the way to "heaven" where it just might be a little hotter than they had expected; and the men who like little boys need to be neutered with a dull knife and then locked up forever. We need to elect people with the backbone to do the right thing!!! No pay-offs, no bribes, no abuse of interns (male OR female); no pork-barrel spending, no phony-baloney election promises, no more good ol' boy backroom nonsense. It's got to quit!!! We need a third party desperately and good people who will do what they say they're going to do and keep their noses clean. Is that asking too much???

I'll wait 'til tomorrow and see how badly we lost. I can't take any more of this tonight. I need a glass of wine.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Echoes of "Now What!"

This is all I want...just a place with lots of ferns and cool, cool water. I'm on a Merry-Go-Round again. The places we like in Tehachapi won't permit manufactured homes and the places that will are on the windward side and in the middle of a sagebrush meadow. The windmill farms are on that side of the valley, also, just in case the point isn't brought home well enough. There's WIND galore! Okay, the only other places available are Sand Canyon, yes, it's sandy and all the hippies live over there with the Bhuddists, which might be okay. Except for the sand...Then, there's Alpine which is very descriptive. It's HIGH. Snow and things like that, along with no paved roads or utilities in certain areas. So...back to the drawing board. Tehachapi isn't out entirely, just have to step back a pace. Lots of people are moving up there in manufactured housing. We'll just have to talk to the right ones.

Sitting here on a Friday afternoon, bummed out. Yesterday's Open House which was designed to draw moms in from the school didn't work out and now we're going to have to drop the price again. We started at $350K and are now taking it down to $325K.
Last weekend and again last night I started looking at places near Lynne's, high dessert and up north. Then the phone rang. It was Lynne! Her friend, Tony, a realtor, was doing some footwork for her to see if he could help us out in anyway.
Bless you, Lynne!!! And Tony, for his help. He's going to check out some land down in that area, too. Maybe I'll wind up somewhere closer to Lynne. That would be wonderful!

This Merry-Go-Round will stop one day and just knowing that someone cares as much as Lynne does makes my heart happy.