Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Black Day, pretty girl

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oh pretty girl, O pretty pretty girl,
I did not even recognize your face.
Your curly black locks were all out of place.
Your body is severed, I can't help but stare,
Your life was unknown until they found you there.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oh lovely lady, O lovely lovely lady,
A lady of life, a caged bird you were,
Were you really deserving all the torture you endured?
Your killer he loved you, before and after you died,
When I read your story, tears filled in my eyes.

Oh beautiful soul, O beautiful beautiful soul,
A life that was robbed of the proper renownd,
If you had lived, maybe a queen you'd been crowned.
Your longing eyes haunt, your face so pretty,
All that seek your mystery are overcome with pity.

Oh dark day, O dark dark day,
I am sure your mother cried down inside,
For the loss of the light of her life had died.
Your father felt bad, he had kicked you out,
Because you stayed out late and liked drinks that were stout.

Oh lost lady, O lost lost lady,
Will we solve the crime and give justice it's due?
Will we hear your story and live life anew?
Will we remember you years after your story is solved?
Will the light in your eyes be our eternal resolve?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy after thought...

The decorations in my office building have been up for about the past four weeks. As I walked out the front door yesterday, I noticed that in the past day, several Happy Hanukah plastic window stickers have been posted on the front door...interesting...It seems as though Happy Hanukah was an after thought...probably provoked by someone was was rightfully offended in that Christmas decorations were hung but there was no mention of Hanukah...I can't say that I blame them.

The thing is, I wonder if the fact that it was an afterthought is not equally offensive, I fear it would be for me...Although I believe that this holiday time is about an attitude, not decorations, I can't help but wonder if next week there will be another afterthought..Kwansa. Hmm?

I was reminded yesterday of what the holidays are like for children. As I was doing some cocktail dress shopping for myself, about three isles over, I heard a youthful voice belting to the top of her lungs, " JINGLE BEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLSSSSSSSSSSSS, JINGLE BEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLSSSSSSSSS, JINGLE ALL THE WAY." She sang verse after verse with the same was so endearing, really. She was so filled with the holiday spirit, her mothers pleads fell on deaf ears. After she finished Jingle Bells, she moved along to "WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTTMMMMMMMMMMMAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS!" and sang it as well, verse for verse. Many of the shoppers, finding it delightful and uplifting to hear the voice of the child over the hub bub around the store followed and sought out that little voice, just to see the source of this holiday cheer. She was tiny, maybe 25 pounds and three years old, but so determined to spread the message of the holiday season.

When we are children, we are not consumed by the political correctness of the holidays. The holidays are full of magic and excitement and learning about the true meaning of the Season, whichever meaning your family honors.

How do we get back to those days? I think that the way we return to those days is by having children of our own or partaking in the holiday of a child. Then we are truly reminded what the holidays are all about.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Alchemist, In Search of One's Personal Legend

The Alchemist

I want to start out by saying that this book has forever changed me, my life and my outlook on life. In all honesty, before reading this book, I found myself at a cross roads, which I believe that we all find ourselves at daily. I was in pursuit of my goal in life, what I was meant to do, what I was meant to be and what direction I should follow to get me there. My mindset was that I needed to figure out what I want to do and then map my path in that direction. This book has shown me that my problem is that I have been approaching the whole situation at a backwards angle. I am putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, and Pat Green says, “Never put the cart before the horse, unless he knows how to push it, of course.”

That being said, I more than highly recommend it to any and every person within eye sight of this blog or ear range of my voice. I cannot tell you enough what a life changing experience it has created within me. These are my highlights on some of the book’s themes and my thoughts accordingly.

Defining Personal Legends

In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho centers the book at one boy’s search for his personal legend, his destiny, the thing in life he is meant to do. Defining one’s personal destiny is done by describing his journey. It is in the journey that one finds all of the skills and information he will use to fulfill his personal destiny.

We find true peace, love and fulfillment in our lives when we follow our personal destiny, our personal legend. One might ask how we discover the path to our personal legend, and Coelho answers that one must follow the “omens”…Omens are God’s way of communicating to us which way we should go.

Throughout the book, the boy finds his way to his personal legend by following omens, but what is most important about following omens is having the faith to do so. In the beginning, the boy takes his inheritance from his parents and buys a herd of sheep in order to see the world, as being a shepherd was the only way in which those who are poor may see the world. As the novel progresses, the boy takes a leap of faith and gives up his herd, gives up a life he worked for in Africa and gives up the woman that he loves all to follow his personal legend. The faith is the glue that cements the journey with the realization of the personal legend.

I believe another interesting point about omens and personal legends is that before I read this book, I had heard of such and always looked for what I believed to be signs or gut feelings in my life, but after reading this book, I have confidence that I am believing in a gift that God has given to each and everyone of us. I feel that after reading this book, I have been enlightened to the tools that will help me reach my own personal legend it is my RESPONSIBILITY to put these principles, ideals and themes to work in my own life. I have been given the tools, now I must learn to use them.

Channeling our Past is the Key to Our Future

In the introduction, Coelho speaks of four obstacles we as people must overcome to realize our personal legend, one of which is fear. He explains that as children, we are initially told that we can do and be anything we want to be and then slowly as we age, we are confronted with people who seek to convince us that our dreams are just that…dreams. Coelho sees childhood as a time when we, free of fear of financial concerns, free of social stigmas of professions, free of worldly influence into our dreams, we truly see what we truly desire.

I think of Taylor’s mom when I think of this concept. As a young girl, his mother loved to cook and bake. As she got older, she took many different avenues, but can you guess what she does now? She owns her own bakery and makes scrumptious cakes and cookies and pies and anything you can possibly imagine. As a child, she dreamed. As an adult, she took differing paths that eventually lead her to her dream.

When Coelho speaks of fear, he also speaks of the concept of fear and anticipation of what we fear becoming reality. He says, “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity.” How true this is! I think that what Coelho means is that when we couple the anticipation of what we fear with the resulting effects of what we fear, it can seem impossible and unbearable. When we live fearlessly, we actually suffer less because we have eliminated the majority of the problem, that being the anticipation of what we fear.

Love and Personal Legends

In the book, Coelho discusses the role of love in one’s personal legend. He begins explaining that many people struggle with the role of love in their personal legend due to the fact that when one follows his personal legend and reaps the benefits thereof, it is possible that a certain level of guilt will form towards those we love because we feel as though we have surrendered them in order to follow our dream or that we feel guilty for our success in following our dreams and pursuing divine happiness. I think this is such a valid point and I think that it happens in the subconscious.

He goes on to say that real love seeks to support and follow us on our journey. The example in The Alchemist is the love that exists between Fatima and the boy. She tells him, when faced with his departure to follow his personal legend, that she is a “woman of the desert”, meaning she has seen men come and go following their destiny across the desert. Some she saw return to the women who so faithfully waited for them, some did not, but it did not matter, she did not waiver in the lot she chose in life. She chose to love a man who follows his legend and whether he returns or not, she has known true love in her lifetime…a love so true she could hold it so loosely.

The boy contemplates the issue of love and possession/ownership when the he is in the desert and observes the hawks. He is contemplating a love that he does not fully understand yet. Fatima told him she would wait for him, but the boy, he was learning of true, pure love. One that allows for full support of one’s partner on his/her journey…a love that does not restrict, does not stake claim in one’s life and expect the other to revolve circularly at a constant pace around it. It is love in its purest form.

The Universal Language

The “universal language” in which Coelho speaks, to me, is the most amazing concept in this book. The “universal language” is a language recognized by every living thing on earth and probably beyond. It is a way of speaking that at times can involve no words. It is the language of nature and of life. It is amazing how many times things in life speak to us without saying a single word. A common example is reading someone’s expression or body language. It is so much more than that though. It involves seeking to “speak” the universal language but also listen to it and the things it can teach each and every person.

I think of my friend Brandon and also of Taylor when I think of this concept. They are two people that I consider very “in tune” to nature…and it involves nothing but giving nature the common courtesy of observing it. According to Deepok Chopara, nature is perfect, nature is Zen. Nature is the way it should be and it does nothing to pursue this course of perfection, it simply exists that way. We as people have much to learn from nature, it speaks to us each and every day, we just don’t take the time to pay attention to the message it sends. My friend Brandon seeks wisdom from nature, especially rivers. He sees many metaphors for life in the all perfect nature of the river and seeks to apply those principles to his life. That is speaking the universal language.

This to me is another concept in which, after reading the book, I have found awareness of and seek to build upon this awareness. By doing so, I am enriching my life and learning things that I had no idea existed before, seeing more than meets the eye, and to me that is such a powerful and beautiful thing. God created nature in his own perfect wisdom and design, just as he created us. The difference is, nature is not given a will, it is not given authority or decision making capabilities, it does not choose when it rains or snows or which way the wind blows, God gives nature its orders and as such, it is the purest reflection we as humans have of God.

The Consequences of not following your Personal Legend

As the boy debates whether he can give up his one true love in the world, Fatima, to follow his personal legend, the Alchemist tells the boy of what happens to people when they do not fulfill their personal legends. He tells the boy that if he chooses to stay in the oasis with Fatima that his life will appear to be fine…that is for about the first year. Then the longing and wondering for what his personal legend could have been will cause him to become weary. Fatima will grow weary for seeing the person that she loves suffer for not following a legend on her account. Eventually she will force the boy to find his legend and end the despair, but by this time, the boy’s personal legend has passed and vanished forever. He has missed his opportunity in life and will spend the rest of his life in pursuit of what he could have and should have obtained.

I myself have been a victim of this, putting my life and happiness on hold for something that was never really real from its beginning. In the end, I spend some days wondering how my life would be different. I think that Coelho is trying to make the point here that we are to commit to our legend and finding it and in doing so, we not only enrich our lives, but we enrich the lives of others around us, those who love and care for us, for those who truly love us do not wish to see us suffer. Suffer is what we do when we do not seek our legend no matter what, at all cost.

Fear of Realizing our Dreams

The last of an innumerable list of topics covered in this book is the fear that exists in some of realizing their dreams. The account in reference is that of the man who owns the crystal shop. He tells the boy that in his faith, each person, in his life, is to make a spiritual journey to the city of Mecca. Although the man is old, he is still capable of making the journey; it has been his dream since he was young. He has the money to do so, but he fears that if he realizes his dream, he has completed all that he has sought to do in his life and in trekking to Mecca, he has realized his final dream and has nothing more for which to live. It is the pursuit of one day realizing his dream that he believes keeps him alive, yet he knows inside, he will never realize it. It is a very complex theory, I admit, but is very easy to rationalize.

Some people are afraid of realizing their dreams. They are afraid of what comes after that realization. What will they do then? What is there left in life? Well Coelho makes the point that you move on to the next dream. Dreams manifest on the realization of dreams. It is a rippling effect. Success feeds off success. We should not be afraid of realizing our dreams; we should be excited, because after we realize the dream before us, there is always another dream around the bend.

Monday, December 11, 2006

God says "All things work out for the best for those who serve him"

It never ceases to amaze me how God takes care of those who serve him. Many times in my life he has revealed this to me and I can help but share the message.

You see, when I was in college, I made a little deal with God. I didn't make a whole lot of money in the beginning, so one Sunday I was at church when the student chaplain was delivering the message. He talked about the same deal he had made with God, which inspired me to do the same. He spoke of how he told God that since he wasn't a student and didn't have much money, whatever cash he had on him when he came to church belonged to God, no matter what.

I too made this deal with God. In the beginning, I did not make a lot of money and what I did make, I rarely had in cash, but each time in which I was faithful to my promise to God, I found myself blessed immeasurably. As the years progressed, I began bartending, which was, for the most part, a constant flow of cash. When I could manage the energy, after working about 65 hours a week, to get up and make it to church, I held faithful to my promise. In turn, God again continued to rain blessings on my life. You see, those who are faithful and serve him, they receive blessings in return, although we give with no intent of blessing at all.

Even now, though I do not get the chance to attend church as often as I would like, I still keep my promise to God. I give to people, causes and organizations and still, in all aspects of life, but especially financially, God always provides. He always holds true to his promises, provided we hold faithful to him.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

To whom much is given, much is expected

My parents always harped this point to me and my cyblings..."To whom much is given, much is expected". As a child, to me that literal translation meant that I am smart and I have no excuse to make bad grades...which was true.

At this altitude in life, I see that it means so much more. A dear and close friend of mine just started a blog profile here on Blogger and I call this quote into practice when I think of his work. He is such a talented writer and wordist, as I call it. God has given him this gift for multiple reasons, I personally believe that it is his personal legend to become a writer. Upon ridicule for postings on other blogging outlets, he removed his work and found a safe haven here. I am glad that he did, selfishly because the things that he writes touch my heart and the very core of my soul, and unselfishly, I know that his works help others find clarity in their lives as well.

I hope that some of you will read his work, as he is unnamed for personal reasons...and let him know how his work effects you. It is measure of society how many views our blogs have, but it is a measure of the soul how many lives your work effects. One never tires of hearing the way his work has effected lives, that being it's sole goal.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

Thanks once again to John Mayer for giving phrase to the feelings that most of us have felt many, many times.

In his song (album Continuum) entitled Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, he sings of a relationship in the home stretch of over, “not the storm before the calm, this is the deep and dying breath of this love that we been working on” . He knows that the relationship is over and he knows that rapidly approaching is the time in which they will have to let go (“we’re going down and you can see it too. We’re going down and you know that we’re doomed”). What a beautiful phrase…”slow dancing in a burning room”. Isn’t that exactly how it feels? You are trying to cling on to that last tidbit of what you have, and as you do so, so quickly the world around you is burning down.

When it seems so right and then it is over is when it hurts the most. He says “I was the one you always dreamed of, you were the one I used to draw. How dare you say it’s nothing to me, baby you’re the only light I ever saw. I make the most of all the sadness, you’ll be a bitch because you can. You try to hit me just to hurt me so you leave me feeling dirty ‘cause you can’t understand.” It is especially hard when one person can foresee this demise and the other can’t. It is really gut wrenching. It is the most helpless feeling really. What are you supposed to do, beg that person to stay in a relationship that is not working? That is what I did TWICE, and I can promise that doesn’t work.

“Don’t you think we ought to know by now, don’t you think we should have learned somehow?” It is at that point where the damage is done and it is irreversible that we see the things we should have and could have done. The end holds the value of hindsight and most times, it is clear as crystal.

It is really an amazing way of describing the feeling. What amazes me is how others can feel this emotion and express it in the most perfect way. Thanks to you John Mayer for once again blessing my life with the ability to beautifully express such a powerful feeling.

Stephenson Southern Vocabulary List VOLUME 2

After the success of my first blog on my family’s Southern vocabulary, I decided to open the table for discussion, entries and inspiration during my Thanksgiving break at home. It was quite the entertaining conversation recalling all of the quirky phrases that are more than common place in my home and I have now officially decided that anyone who comes to visit must read both lists in order to keep up in conversation. So really, as embarrassing as it may be, it is my duty. No self respecting Southern woman would treat a house guest without the utmost respect, so out of my southern graces, I give you this second list.

1. Dob- the process of applying Noxema to your face
SENTENCE: Bub, you just need to dob the Noxema directly on the zits.

My father coined this word during my brother’s pubescent phase of life. He was constantly on him about having good skin. Apparently that trickled down to me and my sister and to this day, a pump of Noxema can be found in my sister’s shower. Noxema is not just a product, it is a way of life.

2. Grandma Grace- your imaginary grandmother whose sole job was to maintain your seat should you decide to get up. You can reclaim your seat at any time, as long as you have asked Grandma Grace to save it. Grandma Grace has the ability to save your seat for hours, days, weeks and months
SENTENCE: I have got to go to the bathroom. Grandma Grace save my place.

Yes, good old Grandma Grace. I believe that it was my brother who introduced my sister and me to Grandma Grace. Grandma Grace has held every seat in and out of my house, car and wherever else we found ourselves as kids. The thing that always bugged me about Grandma Grace is that you can never dispute her. And I believe the rules did state that it was the honor code on whether you called upon Grandma Grace or not before you got up. She is a fair and just lady.

3. The Red Plate- a “special” red plate that one is only allowed to eat on in special occasions such as birthdays, good grades, hard days and anniversaries. The plate was rimmed in the words “YOU ARE SPECIAL”.
SENTENCE: Since today is your birthday, you get to eat off the Red Plate tonight.

The Red Plate was a prize, oh yes it was, or was it? It let all of the people at the table, a.k.a your family that spends day in and day out with you anyway, that it was your birthday (in case they forgot!) or that you made an A on your spelling test or that you had a really hard day. Somehow the pork and bean stuff looked a lot better on that red plate.

4. stinkerbell- the generic name given to any perfume
SENTENCE: Okay, we’re in the car and somebody sprayed the stinkerbell.

Stinkerbell. The term originated from a perfume that little girls wear, or wore back in my day, called “Tinkerbell”, which smelled like a mixture of cat pee and steamed broccoli. It was an awful odor and it drove my father crazy, especially when someone applied it while in the car. From then on, any lotion, perfume or body splash, no matter how inviting, was forever labeled “stinkerbell”.

5. trolls- children
SENTENCE: Yeah I am out running errands today with the trolls.

It just sounds bad, but my sister and I found it endearing. It was always good for a hearty laugh, plus, at a young age, my sister and I did resemble trolls, so I guess it was fitting.

6. briars- eyebrows
SENTENCE: I need to get to that mirror with good light so I can pluck my briars.

Yes, this is southern dialect at its finest. This is a term frequently used by Granny when speaking of the way she religiously plucked her eyebrows each morning, and I do mean EACH MORNING.

7. “Stranded… (sing the song)”- This was usually preceded by the following conversation:

“Mom, I am out of toilet paper, can you bring me some?” say I.
“You gotta sing the song.” she replied.
“But Mom I am serious. I am not singing that song.”
“ Well then you don’t get the paper.”

And the song went like this:

Stranded, Stranded on the toilet bowl.
What do you do when you’re stranded,
And you don’t have a roll.
You must prove you’re a man,
You must wipe with your hand.
Stranded, Stranded on the toilet bowl.

Yes this is a sick form of torture. The last thing you want when you are out of toilet paper is to have to sing some idiotic song just to EARN your new role. I soon began checking the status of the toilet paper before I even ascended the throne. The only times I got caught were emergencies. The worst is when I found myself in a public restroom with no toilet paper and asked my mom to pass some under the stall. You guessed it, she made me sing it. Torture and Humiliation, I tell you. Torture and Humiliation.

8. fandangos- the over sized bucked teeth that run on my dad’s side of the family.
SENTENCE: Have you brushed those fandangos today?

The curse of the fandangos was inescapable for me and my sister. We were cursed with the biggest buckiest front teeth in the history of Alabama. I believe we got an extra dollar (yes a whole extra DOLLAR) from the tooth fairy when those two front ones came out. It was a blessed day in the Stephenson household when my mother went to work for a dentist. That enabled us to get our fandangos fixed and now we have beautifully straightened oversized teeth. When I was little, I stretched the truth a bit and told myself that a lot of models have big teeth and that made me feel better.

9. big quarter- a 25 cent piece, not two dimes and a nickel or five nickels
SENTENCE: No Daddy, I need a big quarter.

A childhood blunder, but so cute and sincere. My sister, before she realized that there were more avenues to twenty-five cents other than a quarter, when given two dimes and a nickel requested that she exchange it for a “big quarter”. Of course, now that her mental math capabilities are professional grade, she no longer relies on the big quarter philosophy in life.

10. tissy- a fuss
SENTENCE: You have just worked yourself into a tissy over nothing.

A some-what common Southern term that was and still is frequently used in our household. I believe it was more frequently used when my and my sister’s college careers overlapped, because I think one or the both of us called my mother in a “tissy” every day.

11. Lemonsine, Barracuda- the names given to two of my father’s cars.
SENTENCE: That old Lemonsine was nice, but this new Barracuda is a smooth ride.

I believe that the Lemonsine was named accordingly due to the fact that it was a lemon color, but also because as I recall, it was always broken. The Barracuda was a spawn of Granny’s lack of memory on what kind of car my father had just bought. I believe it was a Baretta but she was a little confused and called it a “barracuda”.

12. Indian Spirits (sometimes known as just “the spirits”)- somewhat of a haunting smell; an air freshener that not only cancelled out any smell in an 18 mile radius of where it was sprayed, it also doubled as a murder weapon that was capable of suffocating the victim to death
SENTENCE: Who just got out of the bathroom and forgot to spray the spirits?

Brutal. This “air freshener” when sprayed evoked a spiritual experience because you were sure that you would rather leave this life than endure the wrath of the spirits. I think it did more to pollute the air than freshen it. I believe that there were several times I was rendered unconscious by suffocation by the “haunting” aroma of the spirits.

13. Cantada- a fancy word for a church Christmas musical, includes singing and spoken word
SENTENCE: Did you hear my new practice tape for our Christmas Cantada?

Yes, I heard the tape on the only tape player left in America. It is the same tape I swear I have been listening to for the past 25 years, but my father swears differently. I never had the heart to tell him that I did look forward to the Christmas Cantada every year only because that was one Sunday that I could count on not having a long winded sermon to color and pass notes through. I have not attended the annual Christmas Cantada in several years, but I am not sure that I am sad about that.

14. deet deeter- noun that can describe either a cashier or the cash register itself.
SENTENCE: I will be the customer and you be the deet deeter.

Funny, how when you are little, imaginations run wild and you somehow desire to be the “deet deeter” at every store you go to. My sister and I, as I look at it now, made admirably attainable goals as children, since we wanted to grow up and be a deet deeter, and I should say we have well surpassed our goals.

15. hogly wogly- code word for the local grocery chain called Piggly Wiggly
SENTENCE: I am just going to run down to the hogly wogly and pick up some eggs.

We had to humor ourselves somehow, after all, we were raised in L.A. As a matter of fact, I was (and believe I still am) in the super saver club at Piggly Wiggly.

16. barhonica- harmonica
SENTENCE: Mommy, I want a barhonica for Christmas.

My adult dyslexia apparently showed warning signs as a child. I thought the enchanting sounds that came out of that barhonica was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. Even now, I still have an ear for blue grass every now and again.

17. hike your duke- the act of getting into a car, or any elevated location
SENTENCE: That truck is really high off the ground, I am not sure I can hike my duke up there.

Yes, you read that right. This came from my mother. I am not sure where she picked it up or if her sick sense of humor manifested this phrase, but it is grotesque and vulgar and quite the conversation piece.

So when you coming over for dinner? I suggest you spend quality time looking over this and the previous list, we expect our dinner guests to not only show up for dinner but have a good conversation on hand.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Who wants to be a Magician Anymore?

Who wants to be a Magician Anymore?

I can honestly say that I witnessed magic this past Fathers Day weekend. I had the pleasure of attending a magicians reunion. Yes, you read that right, a reunion of magicians. Old high school classmates, football teams, college friends and yes, magicians, they all do it. They reunite and once again, it is magic.

The assembly of magicians in Butler County was no coincidence. Butler County resident, Bill Bearden, is no stranger to the world of magic. He spent many years in a self-owned promotion business which traveled throughout the southeast raising money for civic organizations. This business promoted everything from the horse and pony show to the likes of the talented magicians assembled in Butler County that weekend.

While on sabbatical for this reunion, a showmans work is never done. I, an amateur magician whose sole claim to magical fame includes making money disappear from my bank account, was in awe and appreciation of the off-duty show I received sitting around the kitchen table of my grandparents, Bill and Ann Bearden. From disappearing quarters who found their way into one of our ears to flashy card tricks that began with the classic catch phrase, Pick a card, any card, I sat in amazement of such a distinguished and underappreciated art form. As I sat, I pondered on the fact that since the age of probably around six, I cant remember hearing someone say, I want to be a magician when I grow up. My mental calculator began running figures in my head. Was there any way that I could quit my job in Atlanta and pack my bags and move out to Vegas and begin a fun filled career as a magicians assistant, after all, my parents did say I need to find a career path. After a little less than a split second, I decided that I would have to find a boss that could do a permanent disappearing act on my bills or myself, so needless to say, I nixed the idea completely, but nonetheless I pondered, why more kids did not want to grow up to be magicians?

The life of a magician is filled with none other than magic. As the magicians sat reminiscing, I found myself entranced in their stories. From rubbing noses with David Copperfield to even being the recipient of one of his childhood tricks, the stories of life on the road were nothing short of amazing. These magicians travel from coast to coast and around the world performing their routine, bunny in hat, to the delight of adults and children alike. What I found so magical about the whole experience is that just like those who practice law, snap photos, sell cars or write books, if you love your job, you are never really off work. These people live, breathe, eat and sleep magic and it was great to see them discuss their passion. These are people who take delight in their job. They get enjoyment and pleasure out of making others happy and they do it for a living. I can honestly say that it beats the cube monkeys of my generation who enter data daily for wages spent on Red Bull and Chappell Show DVDs. Much to my delight, they preformed tricks for me for the better part of hours and like magic, time passed so quickly that three hours later, I found myself still glued to my seat, eyes glazed over, in eager anticipation of the next trick. These guys are masters of the art, so skilled in the trade that instead of spending the time and energy or even inquiring on how to perform these magical tricks, I just sat back and enjoyed them.

Once my mother pried me away from the table and into the car, I couldnt help but feel a sinking sadness in my heart. After a hard week of life, for three hours, I escaped. I forgot about my troubles and was entertained. The magicians had performed their passions so well, the equivalent of being engrossed in a nail biting book or entranced in a cliff hanging action flick. It is almost impossible to describe. I challenge all to recall the last time you went to a magic showit has been a long time hasnt it? Well, I was reminded of the fact that in a world of shock and awe and the likes thereof, I was pleased to find that magic doesnt change. It is and always will be magic. The magic of magic is that it still entertains and delights you after all of these years, somewhat like the concept of riding a bike; you never forget.

All of this brings me back to my initial questionWho wants to be a magician anymore? Being in the generation of want-to-be Russell Simmons and Bill Gates and Puff Daddys (or is it P.Diddywho knows anymore!) it is sad to see such a tradition and art die with the last of my grandparents generation. Magicians are dying out like small town carnivals and clown birthday parties. Since the introduction of the internet, imagination for my generation is fleeting. When have you ever heard of a dot.comer willing to depend on his showmanship for anything? When have you heard the phrase THE AMAZING and have it followed by the name of someone under the age of fifty? I write with such a sense of urgency, a sense of passion to revive a dying art form. Generation whatever we are now has apparently forgotten the magic of our younger years and in the fight for survival with that generation, the baby boomers have done so as well.

I ask that you give some thought to magic, not the Harry Potter folklore that children today think of as magic, but real top hat with white bunny magic. I encourage you to support this dying art form, keep it alive. Go see the shows that come to the area. Lets not be telling tales of magicians to our grandchildren much like we describe dinosaurs or eight tracks. Help make the grandeur and showmanship of magic live in forever.

The Value of the Human Touch

So as I sit at my desk after a two day hiatus enduced by an aweful germ I caught while merrily putting up our office Christmas Tree, I am currenlty cursing "the human touch" or at least the germs that manifest and spread thereof, but I think this holiday season there is something that we should remember about the human touch.

Over Thanksgiving, my sister and I pretty much solved the world's problems over mexican (at Ole Mejico as we often refer to it) and did a follow up analysis on our brilliance over coffe at Barnes and Noble. She told me about her experience going to jail house ministries with my mom. She realized how sad it was that those women would not be going home to their families for Thanksgiving, they would not have the embrace of families that love them, really every one would be so busy spending time with their families that they would be virtually forgotten. She said that it was amazing how the women there just wanted a hug and were so grateful for someone to just take time out of their lives to care about them. It is amazing how reassuring just a simple hug and an open ear can be.

We then expounded the conversation by talking about my Dad. My father is, among his eighteen jobs, a pastor. He preaches at two small rural churches each Sunday. There are many elderly and lonely people who attend his church. My father makes a point to shake each person's hand and actually make that human connection. If they see no one else all week, they will get a hug or a handshake on Sunday, rest assured. There is something about that human touch that is a transfer of energy and life. You know some people that go to his church go for days and maybe even all week without human touch or interaction.

It is hard for we city dwellers to imagine going all week without some one bumping into you in line at the grocery store, reaching across you in the lunch line or breezing past you as you walk through the door, all of these things though subtle, and sometimes unwanted, are human touch.

This has really come to my attention over the past few days. I work five days a week and interact with people closely on a daily basis. The past two, I have been quarintined in my house, fearing my illness has been contageous, and have spent the past two days without human touch or interaction. I must tell you, it is quite an experience to be without it and to be conscious of the fact that you are without it. Taylor came by last night with my two favorite things, a cheese danish and chocolate brownie (never too sick for either of those...not even on my death bed!), and when he came in, he gave me a great big old hug. Even though I was knowledgable of the effects of the human touch, and I could prepare myself for how good that hug would feel, you can never really prepare yourself. The only similar experience I can compare it to is that of running outside on a beautiful fall day with the sun shining down warm on your face and the world spinning around you in an orange, brown and yellow glow. That is what it feels like...and it is a sensation that I think most of us either don't have the awareness to realize or are so busy that we igore it.

We have the choice, as I did this week. We can be very negative on the (at times GERMY) effects of human touch or we can embrace them and spread that energy and love to other. Think about it when you see someone that you think may not get out much, or some one you know has been sick or even just your friends and relatives that you love and care about..what better way to show them you care than by taking the time and care to extend to them the human touch.

The most expensive thing that we as people can give of ourselves is our time. By giving minutes and hours of your life to listening and visiting and helping others, we are giving life, and that is greater than any other gift we as humans can give. Please remember this during this wonderful holiday season!

The Little BIG thing I have leard about Karma

A little BIG thing I have learned about Karma

So, two blogs in one day....Lord only knows what you might be thinking, but the recent Thanksgiving holiday, coupled with a few sick days at home has given me lots of topics and nothing but time on my hands to contemplate them.

In the previously alluded to conversation in which my sister and I solved the world's problems, we also talked a lot about character and Karma. My sister being a firm believer in Karma, as am myself and many of my friends and family, it is apparently a reoccuring theme in my life and hers as well.

You see, Karma has always existed in our lives, but before, we were not conscious of it and its effects. Karma is something that is only of use and benefit to us if we are aware of it and acknowledge it. I wish I had my wonderful book on hand, Deepok Chopara's book entitled THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS in which he does an amazing job of clearing up any gray areas one might have regarding karma.

My definition, as I understand Karma, is that karma is the equal reciprocate of actions that one commits, good or bad. That being said, simple "mental math" tells us that good karma yields good karma and bad karma yields bad karma. Simple as pie, right? Well, that is the thing, you can define karma in Webster's or mathematical terms but I prefer to give you a definition that shows, as well as tells you, exactly what is Karma .

When I was in high school, shamefully enough to admit, I wasn't the nicest person. Whatever excuses I may drum up in my head, there really is no excuse in life for just plain not being nice. There was one kid in school, names withheld to protect the innocent( though if I thought it kosher, I would announce his name as well as a big fat apology on the biggest billboard I could find!), who I was particularly not nice towards. I don't really think of myself as a bully, for I myself was a victim of many cruel jokes, rumors, etc. but I was, without rhyme or reason, just plain not nice to this kid. I made fun of him, so did others, but I am taking blame for myself here. Pretty much, I in company of others, were responsible for making this kid seem as though he was different, that he wasn't a part of our crowd or any crowd, for that matter. As the weary years of high school progressed, the teasing became more frequent, and then my senior year, it kind of stopped. I had been going through my own personal trials and tribulations, as had everyone else, and when senior year came around, it was apparent that many things had changed. This kid, he had changed alright. He came to school with a new lease on life, and everyone wondered what had gotten into him. We all knew his parents were going through divorce, which although I cannot empathize, I try my best to sympathize, and that was about all we knew. Our life changing senior English class taught by the lifechanging Ms. Virgina Stallings did wonders for us all, and one day, after we had all broken the ice and gotten to know each other for what seemed like the first time, this one kid, in his own way set himself free, he told our class that he was gay (As to my current knowledge, I believe he still is..)

Over the years, the guilt of what I had done, or what I thought I had done to this guy has mounted. I wondered if it were me that had pushed him just an inch closer in this direction. Who knows. The debate of nature v. nurture in this situation is a hot ticket, but the fate of this kid has weighed heavy on my mind. And this is where karma rears his head..

Insert illustrations of your choice here...

You see, in my life, God has allowed me to become kindred spirits with one of the strongest most amazing men I know, who just so happens to be gay. I love Jonathan with all of my heart. I truly abound with his spirit and strenghth in my life. Jonathan has taught me things and shown me character more than almost any person I could ever hope to love in my life. He has shown me the struggles and downs and he has rejoiced with me on mountaintops...I love him with all of my heart and soul and no one other than he and I will know the kindred bond we have with each other. My sister explains it this way, that there are a select few of your friends that you are willing to lay down your life for, that you are willing to sacrifice any personal gain to see that person succeed, a person from which comfort and love flows like the juice out of the middle of a piece of Freshen Up gum..I mean, the person that you love more than life itself, and for me, that is Jonathan.

Now you may be asking, but Lauren, you were mean to a boy and karma gave you a gay best friend? That doesn't sound right. Well, dear reader, are correct. You see, the irony in karma is that although I was given a soul mate in Jonathan, I also have to live with every bit of criticism he endures for the remainder of his life. I hear every judgment, condemnation and hateful remark people make about him and his lifestyle. Although I can and do defend my beloved Jonathan to the bitter end, it is always there. The sting that words can have, the sting that I inflicted on that kid in highschool, it is always there. In ways, karma is more than repayed me. I can readily handle criticisms of myself, but what hurts the most is when people criticize the ones that you love.

It is truly heartbreaking what karma does to people, but there is always a "silver lining" as my sister will have it. My silver lining is the joy, life and love that Jonathan brings to my life. My joy is in his successes and accomplishments (which he is at the top of his class right now, I will have you know!). Please let this tale be a word to those who are old as well as those who are young. You reap what you sow and that is why it is important to share my story in hopes that others will be aware of the effects that each and every action stands to have on our future lives.