Saturday, March 26, 2011

Motivation and Memory

Myself at 25 years in 1991.

The above picture is an accurate representation when I was twenty-four,  twenty-five years old and exercising five days a week and not eating much. While working full-time, I signed myself up for Jazzercise in the evenings when I wasn't taking night classes at DeAnza. In the morning, I would take early morning swimming classes where would get up before 5 am and go to DeAnza's outdoor pool. Three days a week were Endurance classes, and two were speed classes. Then I would rush home, shower, and get dressed for work. It was even more amazing that this was the Winter/Spring of 1991 when there was a big freeze. Jars with water on our back porch in Cupertino would freeze solid and a neighbor would water his front yard creating conditions for icicles in the early morning when I was heading to the swimming pool. How did I do it then?

I made swimming and exercise a mindless habit without any thought put into it all. When you think about it you can talk yourself out of it. You can start feeling good about yourself enough to say you can skip today's workout. If you think about it you can look outside and say the weather is too wet, too cold, too hot, too uninviting. You will feel your muscles get sore and tell yourself that you will do it when you stop hurting. When you think about it, you start bargaining with yourself that you will start swimming or working out when you feel better about your body to feel comfortable being in a bathing suit. You may make good on all these wagers with yourself, but you're more likely to slip into a sad and guilt-ridden sloth.

In the past twenty years I had slowly let myself slip. There were times where I caught myself slipping and lost an incredible amount of weight that a sales clerk at Macy's would direct me to the Petite section. Then I slowly slipped again. That time I didn't catch myself. Then I quit smoking, got pregnant, and got busy in suburbia where you have to drive everywhere.

Oddly, I am healthier than that girl in the photo up there. I got skinny by hardly eating anything. I was hardly sleeping. I compensated for my poor habits, but exercising like crazy.

My pregnancy and motherhood had forced me to be thoughtful about what I was putting into my body because I breastfed my son for about 2 1/2 years. As I get older, I do not believe in cosmetic surgery, so I have to prevent or slow down the aging process by eating and drinking superfoods. All I need to do is to exercise everyday. If I do not get to be as skinny as the above picture it will be not as important than being healthy. I have watched loved ones who aged or are aging not so gracefully because of choices they made. That is not what I want for myself or my loved ones.

So I have started swimming outdoors even in the stormiest of weather. It is a resolve and shark-like focus to get me out everyday avoiding the barriers and excuses that would normally weasel me out of activity. Swimming in a deluge is the best way to experience a storm. You are in the water while the water dances with raindrops and wind. The weather cannot harm you unless there is a lightning storm. You are wet already.

Swimming is my choice because it is an exercise that I can participate in when I am eighty.

So here I go on my next adventure.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why We Should Stand With Wisconsin

My mom was a public employee in Children's services. She would come home with heartbreaking stories of dealing with severely abused children. She would relate how tough it was on the social workers who were overloaded with cases. My mother-in-law was a public employee and she would wake up early to get to work when the stock market opened to invest money for our county.

While being an adoptee, I have a complicated view of social workers, but I appreciate the work they do for the elderly, homeless, mentally ill, poor, children, single moms, the handicapped, all the people that the public would like to disappear. Social workers are evidence that at some point as a country we cared about the weakest among us. Private charities simply cannot help these people when they have to rely on volunteers and private contributions. They can never approach the scale of government workers. Government workers do what they do under the hostility of demagogues and the public scorn. People look down on public workers and treat them terribly. They do work that most people do not want to do and have none of the sexiness of private sector jobs.

People will complain about government workers, their poor service, and how the private sector is better. I know from working in the private sector, that the private sector has been working to provide less customer service to feed the bottom line. Try getting tech support on the phone sometime. There are bad employees in both private and public places of business and they can be equally difficult to get rid of, believe me.

Public employees keep our parks clean after the sloppy and thoughtless public visits them. Fire fighters run into fires to save us. Teachers educate the next generation of scientists, doctors, etc. Police keep us safe. Public health nurses help poor women breastfeed and take care of their newborns. 911 operators stay cool for us in our worst of times. There are public employees who track epidemics and some who track earthquakes. There are public employees who clear and repair roads. They make sure our workplaces, food, and drugs we take are safe. There are people who investigate elder abuse or child abuse. Even the paper pushers make sure we can depend that our records are their when they need them (except if you are an adoptee). The list goes on.

Those of us in the private sector have to spend an inordinate time trying to convince people that they need the products we offer, but public servants are needed by our nation's weakest members -- a pool of people that grow everyday.

Union employees fought and earned the rights they have because they organized and hung together. Their fight got us the 40 hr work week, sick pay, vacation pay, disability insurance, overtime things we take for granted and allow those rights to be eroded over time. That is why we have to stand with them now.

I believe that the purpose of demonization of unions distracts people from asking why the people who created this economic disaster are not being frogmarched to jail. It distracts from the reality that wealth is being hoarded by a few people who allow our infrastructure, public safety, education, all the things that made commerce possible to disintegrate. They have made their wealth of us, and now they do not care about the future of this country because they can simply take their wealth elsewhere. They have robbed wealth and have left a country for the next generation that is worse than they found it. Those who have all the wealth fight against our ability to have basic health care, clean air, clean water, and having a decent education.
They make us fight over reproductive rights, having a secular fact based education, workers rights, guns, climate change, and health care when in the past 25 and especially the oughts wealth has been redistributed at an historic rate from 98% to the 2% of the population.

It is time for us to see ourselves as workers and stand with Wisconsin and Ohio. Instead of resenting union worker benefits and security ask ourselves why we never fought for our own rights and benefits. The more workers earn and the more security they have the better economy we will have because workers can buy and generate demand for goods and services that generate wealth. Workers manufacture and provide services that create wealth. It is time to stand with the workers for the sake of our economy and the soul of our country.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Egyptian Solidarity Message to Wisconsin Workers

Libya News from Twitter

Posted on February 21, 2011

by Naddah
Aljazeera reports that Libya protests spread and intensify: More than 60 people reported dead in the capital. This is amid uncomfirmed reports from various Libyan diplomatic sources (via Al Arabiya and Reuters) lthat Gaddafi has left the country for Venezuela or Brazil, and another report of Two Libyan military planes landing at the airport in Malta unexpectedly (the Malta story is now being picked up by Aljazeera and Reuters). Aljazeera is also reporting that there are multiple reports confirm that military airplanes are bombing protesters in Tripoli and there are live ammunition being used on protestors from foreign mercenaries including ground artillery. The Internet and cell lines are down - all communications are down. Although there is limited phone service between Tripoli and Tunis, but it is precarious. Video, photos appear to show protests turning violent.  Along with rumors of Gaddafi flight, there are rumors from Tripoli that the parliament building was  set alight . There are also reports that Libyan embassy staff resign in Sweden, and the Libyan Ambassador to London has resigned & joined the protesters.

Crude oil jumps 5% as Libya protests spread

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"We Won't Go Back" featuring Lisa Edelstein

When my mother was alive she told me how she stopped her friend in the early 1950s from having a back alley abortion. My mother, a catholic, didn't stop her because her religion told her so, but because the guy who was going to do it had an eyepatch and dirty fingernails. Her friend had the child, gave it up for adoption, but lied about her offspring's ethnicity (said he was Italian when he was actually Mexican to make him adoptable). When abortion was illegal that didn't stop abortions, it just brought it underground where women were put into dangerous situations.

Back in 1990, when I was tabling for reproductive rights a man in his 60s came to our table and said, "I am a republican, but I have more reason to be pro-choice than any of you."

Of course, it was hard to believe him at first. He continued, "My mother died due to an illegal, botched abortion." Thud.

During my tabling, many people who were grandparents at the time would come over and thank us for being there. They would register their absolute horror and dismay that we would have to keep struggling for reproductive rights. That was 20 years ago and those people have most likely passed away, but I will keep their voices alive -- voices that know what life was like when women had no reproductive rights.

It is now 2011 and we continue to struggle. There is a state that is actually contemplating killing abortion providers being "justifiable homicide", we have wonderkind Justin Bieber saying that pregancy from rape "happens for a reason", and republican law makers continue to chip away access to legal abortions across the country. Once more, we need to muster to protect women's reproductive rights.

I write this as someone who has been honored by pro-life groups when I ran an award-winning adoption reform website, Voices of Adoption. I believe that all mothers need to be honored and supported to encourage women to be proud of their pregnancies and be able to parent. If they do not want to parent, they should have the ability to enter an ethical adoption that supports her through the lifelong effects of her decision with openness and no shame. Taking the stigma out of single parenting will go a long way
to remove the need to have an abortion. Remove the negative consequences of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and maybe you will see a decrease in abortions.

There are instances where women may not want to carry a pregnancy as a result of rape or molestation. There are excruciating cases where couples who desperately want to be parents are faced with a pregnancy with painful and terrible deformities with no chance that fetus is going to be a living baby. In those cases, republicans want that woman to risk her life and force her to remain pregnant when she knows her baby will be dead. Republicans want that couple to suffer because they have this fixation on fetuses.

I support reproductive rights because a government who can make abortion illegal can also make it mandatory, because the underlying assumption is that women have no sovereignty over their bodies.

Let us not go back...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Don't Blink

In Nature

Self Portrait, 2011

Or the crackling embers of the garbage can fire (bonfire was taken) of my vanity...

Confession. When I want an ego boost I post pictures of me when I am in high school or one of my more glamorous stages in my twenties on Facebook. Immediately after, I get pangs of guilt at the dishonesty of putting a picture up of me when when Reagan was president. That's not really me, is it?

To make amends, I go in with my Blackberry phone camera and take pictures, then with a combination of Photoscape and Photoshop, make those photos interesting. Nothing I do really alters the topography of my face or hair, it is all color, contrast, texture. I do nothing to get rid of the flaws. You see what the camera sees except through Sepia filters. Sometimes the things I do make it look even more flawed.

I have always wrestled with what photos are circulated of me. Back in the 1990s, I would get a call from media for pictures of myself. My work schedule hadn't allowed me an opportunity to have a picture taken of me. Then I would have to be nearly struck with a paralyzing dilemma -- do I send them an awesome picture or when I was younger, or do I somehow take a picture that would not be as flattering because it will be not by a good photographer like I had in the early days. A couple of times I would just send nothing in or have them send out a photographer. So many times, I have blushed at my shallow, shameful vanity.

Now, I am in my forties and I have crossed a threshhold where I am quite certain I am not going to look like I was when I was a teenager or a twenty year old. As I get older my German features I inherited from my birthfather emerge. There is nothing I can do about it. This is me. Forty means getting comfortable with new realities. When you are in your forties your face and body start to change. Being forty means loving yourself anyway. I do.

Favorite parts: lips, eyebrows, and eyes
Least favorite parts: nose and chin

This is me with my Vera Wang eyeglasses, half smile, and enlarged pores. No makeup except lipstick. This is not bad.

Only the Film Is Damaged

Look at this. I took a picture of myself that shows that I have pretty good skin and then proceed to put a filter over it that has stains and scruff marks.

Of Rowboats and Roses

An invitation launches dreams of love songs written with silver frankincense and sandalwood perfumed ink on places modesty that never reveals the location, but imaginations would excitedly muse. Whafts of velvety apricot roses and beads of perspiration dance seductively with eastern spices and new growth in the air. The intoxicating attar drives patience wild with delicate unspoken half sentences contemplating a thousand ways to desire and heartbeak. The crackling victrola echoes in the warm breeze along with dithyrambic croaking with the first palpitations of Spring. Paddle rhythmically strum and fan the riffling water. Nervous rowing glances and sips in the sight of petal soft skins hue blushing and glowing underneath peach paper parasols and feathered brims. Chestbeats are so frantic they might be betray feelings that mirror the tenor's crescendo of longing lifting off hard rubber groove. Eyes close, hats tilts forward they fall back onto silken pillows. Feeling hairs slowly undoing themselves by a uneasily languid recline on undulating lagoon. Opened eyes and cheeks become flushed in imaginings underneath shirts and smiles induce each other that the companionship is appreciated as innocently as possible. Breathing deeply silk stockings rub together. Eyes dart to shore to see if anyone is at shore.

Moving on impulses threatens to tip the boat over. On shore there are a throng of arguments and warnings to keep the space between. Hands and arms keep rowing as dreamy eyes trace the contours of the shore aching for the rowing never to stop -- breaking the spell.

Wherever She Is, She Is In Paris

Daydreaming comes easier to me than those that come when I fall into my pillow. If you find that have a far off look it is because I am somewhere else -- where I can look out the window and see the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. On fine airmail paper and fountain pen with perfumed henna'd ink I pour out my heart to a friend that I tattooed the map of Paris on myself, and postmarks come back with exclaimation marks.

Disappearing Frogs - KQED QUEST

As I have written in the first posts of this blog, frogs are sort of my totem or spirit animal. I have been ruminating how to do my part in saving them. You see, they are in danger all over the world. Their permeable skins and their amphibious lifestyle makes them vulnerable and a literal "canary in a coalmine". Everything we do to change the chemistry of our water and earth weakens them and makes them more likely to catch diseases.
In our neck of the woods, we have the red legged frog which is beautiful (well, all frogs are beautiful to me).

April 29th, 2011 is Save The Frogs Day. What will you do to save the frogs?

Freezing North American Wood Frogs

Frogs have always facinated me. Back in 1982 in my Biology class we were forced to dissect frogs. One of my best friends was my partner and the dissecting fell upon me. Frog biology was one of beautiful design. Over the years, I would marvel at pictures of frogs around the world and take trips to creeks and ponds to watch tadpoles.
I found a video about North American Wood Frogs who can literally freeze up, stop breathing, heart stops, and everything only to be thawed and awakened to mate.Science doesn't know what   This is exhibit #156 among thousands of reasons that we ought to save them. The things we do to save them can also save the planet.