Monday, September 26, 2011


In my long journey as a spiritual person, one thing has remained a constant.  Prayer.  No matter who you pray to, as long as the intent is there and you are praying with sincerity and humility, the outcome is the same.  It brings peace and reassurance.  I have often prayed casually; 'please let it rain'.  I have prayed with so many tears in my eyes; 'please let her passing be eased'.  I do not feel like any less of a person by getting on my knees and beseeching my deity or deities.  I still feel like the strong person everyone tells me that I am.  I feel even stronger because I am admitting that I am just a speck in a wide universe and the beings who have existed since before time have the wisdom and courage I need to proceed with my life. 

I have also encountered deities who prefer that I converse with them in simple conversation instead of prayer, on my feet instead of on my knees.  Okay, I can do both.  When I speak with Thor, he doesn't mind either way.  He prefers that I speak on my feet, however, he understands that the human condition is weak at times and is content to comfort me when I am on the floor with no strength left.  He has been called Good Friend throughout the centuries and the title is not misguided.  He really is a Good Friend, and when my worldly friends have been far away, he was my Friend. 

It is the time of the year when the Pagans mark the weakening and passing of our Lord.  He has worked tirelessly to fertilize the Earth and give us the things we need to make it through another long winter.  Now His work is done, the harvest is coming in, and He lays down for His rest.  At Samhain we will mark His passing.  But this is not the end.  He has merely gone to seek more knowledge to share with His children, like Odin who departed our world to seek knowledge and made himself a sacrifice upon Yggdrasil and then shared that knowledge with the people of Earth.  As He journeys, His children will seek him, and He will return to use with Yule, the warmth will gradually return to Earth as He is reborn and shares His warmth again.

I own a book called "Books of Hours.  Prayers to the God." By Galen Gillotte.  It is a great book, even for Christians who only pray to the male aspect of the Divine.  I use it frequently during the Autumn and Winter.  These are the times of the year when I feel very close with God.  He brings comfort, when everything looks bleak and cold and hopeless, He will return and bring light and warmth.  It is a cycle and its a certain hope.  To me, the hope of an end to a harsh winter is more real and tangible than living a long life and hoping for the best on the other side.  My view is much more simple.  I will go to a better place when I die, all I have to do is live honestly and honorably, without harming others.  My household follows the Nine Noble Virtues and those are the only guidelines we need. 

The definition of prayer as given in Book of Hours:  "Prayer, at its deepest core, is the passionate expression of love for God.  It may take the form of formal prayer, such as those prayers offered in this book, or may be wordless and incomprehensible cry of the heart.  It matters not, for God reads the intention of the soul even before it is articulated.  He reaches out to answer our need in tender yearning and, if we are open to it, we may fall into His rapture, which is beyond all words, and even beyond all thought."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Before I Was a Mom

It seems that 9 out of every 10 women in my life are pregnant.  It makes me remember all of the joys a new life can bring, as well as the challenges.  It also makes me miss my reproductive days.  I am not old, but I have the inability to create new life.  I do have two amazing daughters who I love more and more every day, so I give thanks for that.  Before my first daughter was born, I found this poem and I didn't fully understand then just how to true it was.  I used the poem as a favor at my baby shower.  I have included the poem below in italics and between each line, I have added my thoughts.
                                                    Before I Was A Mom

Before I was a Mom I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed.

Well, I sleep a little later now that the girls are aged 7 and 5 years.  If I sleep a little bit later than normal, they make a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  But I still cannot manage to sleep later than 7:30 am every morning.   I do stay up later at night than I used to, but 11 seems to be the latest.

I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday. 

Yes, this is one that never changed.  I brush my teeth compulsively, twice a day.  Now sometimes my hair doesn't get the same treatment, but I have mastered the art of the ponytail.

Before I was a Mom I cleaned my house each day. 

This one is also true.  I didn't realize how clean my house could actually be until both children began full-day school.  My house was always health-inspection clean, but it was disorganized and there were things lying everywhere!  But, the first week of school I enjoyed a quiet I haven't experienced in many years.  And my house became so clean, but the greatest part was that it actually stayed clean all week!  Until the weekend...

I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. 

I still trip over toys, skates, shoes, backpacks, you name it.  I still don't know all the words to some lullabies, although luckily my children were more than content with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. 

I wish I had the house that had plants everywhere, but I cannot seem to keep them alive.  It doesn't help that the entire first floor of my house has only three windows, one in the laundry room and the other two face the street.

I never thought about immunizations. 

I don't know who this hurts the most, me or the kids.  I hate watching them get the shots, but I have endured because I would rather a few hours of irritation than months of a horrible disease.

Before I was a Mom I had never been puked on. Pooped on. Spit on. Chewed on. Peed on. 

Its amazing how strong you become after enduring that.  I could probably watch open heart surgery now!  And what is with the burp clothes that they sell nowadays??  They are far too small to catch everything! 

I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.....
I slept all night. 

Oh, I have control of my mind and thoughts, although somewhat scattered.  And I haven't slept all night in years.  Its that compulsive mother in me.

Before I was a Mom I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests. Or give shots.

This ties in with the immunizations.  And the dentist visits.  Its horrible but necessary.

I never looked into teary eyes and cried.

Seeing a baby cry is one of the saddest things, but I know I have to power to ease their suffering.

I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.

I get the giggles when my children say or do something funny.  And when they were babies, I took great joy in every little thing they did.

I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

I still do that, day or night.  A sleeping child is the epitome of peace and beauty.

Before I was a Mom I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down.

I wish I had never sat my sleeping babies down.  They grew up too fast and I miss the feel of a little life in my arms.

I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.

Not being able to stop their suffering makes you feel helpless and useless.  Its a horrible feeling.

I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.

Its amazing how much your life changes after you have a child, and after they are a little older, you forget what life was like before they came along.

I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

You don't think you could love one person (or more) so much, but its amazingly possible.

Before I was a Mom I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.

I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mother, you still get the amazing feeling of feeding a small innocent child.  Its a small miracle that never ceases to amaze.  The bond between a mother and child is an unbreakable bond.

Before I was a Mom I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom. 

I have to constantly remind myself that being a mother is a noble profession.  It doesn't offer great pay, benefits, insurance, sick pay, or vacations.  But the education a mother gives to her children determines the next generation, and that generation can be successful and productive if given the right upbringing.  Otherwise, the next generation will stagnate and be nothing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Addendum to Previous Post

As I like to hear both sides of the story, I would like to let you know that there is a Swiss-made documentary called Without My Daughter, which is all about Moody and his side of the story.  Moody died on August 22, 2009 without ever having seen his daughter again. 

Before anyone judges another human being, they should remember the very wise words of Jesus Christ.
"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."

Whether you belong to one of the Abrahamic religions who hold Jesus as a prophet or not, his wisdom was meant to bring peace to the world, not war or division in his name.

In the Name of Hate, Dramatic License Gone Too Far

When September 11 happened, it was supposed to symbolize a uniting of this country and its people under the flag of the United States.  Instead, it became a turning point in the collective hate of this nation.  Its been a long time coming, but 9/11 was the catalyst and I don't understand why.  Blaming the actions of 20 Muslims on all 1.97 billion Muslims in the world is like blaming the actions of 100 members of the Westboro Baptist Church on all of Christendom.  Its illogical, unethical, and UN-AMERICAN.  We are supposed to be the United States of America.  I do not see anything united in this country except lines on a map.

I could write a book on the recent rise of Islamophobia, but I thought I would start small and give an examination of a movie I first saw last year and comparing it to facts and the book that preceded the movie.  The movie is called 'Not Without My Daughter', starring Sally Field and Alfred Molina.  It was based on a book of non-fiction written by Betty Mahmoody, the protagonist and William Hoffer, who is known as a writer of crime dramas and biographies.  Now, I will begin with an overview of the movie and how dramatic license censured the details that can be found in the book.

Sally Field plays Betty Mahmoody, an American woman who mets and falls in love with Iranian-born Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody, or Moody for short.  He has lived in America for 20 years and works as a doctor.  Together they have a child, Mahtob.  A little bit of trivia for you, Mahtob is the Farsi word for moonlight.  Basing on the events of the Iranian revolution of 1979, Moody comes under pressure from both sides of his life, the family in Iran and the people of his hometown in Michigan.  The pressure eventually becomes too much, he finally caves to his families wishes and convinces his wife Betty that they should go for a 2 week visit to Iran.  When in Iran, we meet Ameh Bozorg (which is basically a title meaning Dear Aunt), Moody's sister and many members of the extended family.  From the beginning, they all hate Betty because she is an American.  We see Ameh Bozorg and her husband and Moodys other relatives always yelling at her and making her life miserable.  Long story short, the whole movie is full of cliches, stereotypes, and Betty's desperate attempt to leave Iran.  She eventually does with the help of some American sympathizer, Iranians who fund and aid in Betty and Mahtob's escape back to the USA.  One of the things that surprises me the most is that in the movie, it looks so easy to escape across the desert of Iran and into Turkey and she just walks up to the embassy and cut to credits.  She could not have escaped the way she said because that time of year is like winter anywhere.  There was snow all over the mountains.  This is a detail that she talks about in this book but is nowhere portrayed in the movie.  Did she make the story up to gain compassion or publicity?  Who knows, nobody will ever know the truth.

Now onto the little details that were conveniently left out.
In the book, there is a lot of background material concerning how Betty and Moody met and the life they led prior to going to Iran.  Whether or not Moody was right in his decision to go to Iran, there were signs for many years prior to their feigned vacation that Moody was becoming fanatical.  He hosted meetings in his house for the local pro-Iran extremist groups for the local college.  Betty knew that he was considering going to Iran, and even actively planned the trip.  Upon arriving in Iran, most of what is seen in the movie is true.  However, there are lots of exaggerations.  One of the persons from the film, an American-born friend of Betty's who lived in Iran, Ellen, is portrayed as a betrayer of Betty's trust.  In a later interview after Betty's return to the states, Ellen denies her portrayal as a two-faced woman.  Another fact you learn from reading the book is that Moody's family in Iran were not as bad with Betty as they were portrayed in the film.  Nasserine, who in the film is portrayed as friendly and sympathetic is actually one of the worst persons to Betty.  Another character oft vilified in the movie is Ameh Bozorg, but she is in fact one of the persons who began seeing Moody's descent into madness and keeping him away from Betty when he has a temper.  She also stalls Moody while Betty escapes.

This movie plays on all of the typical stereotypes of Islam and of Iran.  Nobody is perfect, but it is very UN-AMERICAN to vilify anyone or judge them on the basis of what they see in the media.

But it seems that hatred and ignorance have become common place, despite the fact that this is the 21st century.  There is NO excuse for ignorance.  You have books, internet, smart phones, and plenty of innocent people who are willing to share their knowledge with you.  Don't close yourselves off and give in to hate.  Nobody gains anything from it.  Muslims died in 9-11 too, and I don't mean the terrorists.

Oh, and one last rant.  All of this controversy over the Ground Zero mosque and the one in Tennessee is rubbish.  If people would actually read the articles instead of the headlines, they would know that there is no plan to build a mosque at Ground Zero or in Tennessee.  There are already mosques in those two locations.  The mosque at Ground Zero was housed in a small space that had been in the same location for many years before 9/11 and was also damaged during the terrorist attacks.  Plans to expand it were underway since 2009 and didn't make national headlines in 2010, only to be used as fuel for the anti-Muslim Right.  The plan at Ground Zero is the same as the plan in Tennessee, to build a multi-use center akin to the Christian YMCA, a space that can be used for meetings, classes, children's activities and day care and will have a worship space as well.  The Muslim community in Tennessee has been there since 1997 and has always been welcomed and treated as equal.  With more than 200 Muslim families in that community, many were praying on the sidewalks because they have ran out of space in their mosque.  So they bought some land and planned a similar project that would house classrooms, a gymnasium, and a prayer space.  No minarets, no prayer calls at dawn, just a normal looking building.  Instead of support, they have received death threats and even arson committed on the site of the new building.  Is this what the Christian right want in this country?

This is all that hate can bring.