I Hear You

March 23, 2010 by  
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Below is John’s writing.  He wrote it thinking about his wife who has recently past away.

Your voice is as subtle
as the sound of silence.
I hear your whisper
steady and intense.

Your breath is as natural
as the scent of fresh air.
I inhale and exhale
in meditation and prayer.

Your touch is as soft
as a swift gentle breeze,
I feel the chills
in one heart squeeze.

Your sight is as clear
as a crisp sunny day.
I have insight
when I meditate and pray.

Your taste is as pure
as water from a stream.
I am afloat
in the wake of a dream.

Your wisdom is as bright
as the truth you bestow.
I am inspired
by what you know.

John

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My Husband’s Birthday

March 4, 2010 by  
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Today is my husband’s birthday. Celebrating this day was always a special event. His personality was such I called him “my baby boy” as he never grew too old to have silly fun. One year I surprised him with horseback riding on the Buffalo River. Down a dirt road in Yellville, Arkansas, we celebrated at this small B&B surrounded by nature. One year with our eyes filled with tears, we celebrated life attending the funeral of a young lady very dear to our heart, the daughter of a life-long friend.

His birthday in 2008 was another celebration with tears. The day before, after three emotional weeks in the hospital, I had brought him home. After a quintuple bypass in January, his heart was getting weaker. His cardiologist had called in a specialist from the transplant center, which the nurses referred to as the heart failure clinic. His favorite nurse hugged him goodbye saying “If anyone deserves a new one, you do.”

Never did I imagine that would be his last birthday on earth. Last year I celebrated his birthday with him, and yet without him. His ashes at home, are inside a beautiful hand carved wooded box. Two crucifixes lay on top, gifts from the priest who married us and presided over his Funeral Mass.

And now 2010. I feel like a wreck. I feel more devastated than last year. I don’t choose to be sad. I don’t want to be sad. I pray that his strength will help me better accept my life without him here.

Celebrate Love and Life. Powerful words I am trying so hard to embraced with passion.

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What The Fox Said

November 22, 2009 by  
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To talk about my husband in past tense is extremely difficult. When he passed away everything in my world changed. I’ve never lived alone before. It’s never been just me. To wake up all alone just doesn’t seem natural.

When my husband retired he took over everything. He managed our finances, the laundry, even taking my clothes to the cleaners. He went to the grocery store. He did all the cooking. I would wake up to coffee and breakfast on the table. Everyday he would cut up an apple for me to take for lunch and he would always drive me to work on the first day of teaching at each new semester. There were lots of days he drove me to work just because; just because he wanted to talk and for us to spend more time together.

The life that I lived blinked off the screen. My world of us, we, ours… that world doesn’t exist anymore.

I feel like I have been dropped off in space. I don’t know how to function, how to just be. I have to relearn, to rewire the way I think. How do I live as one? How will I know what to do? Who will listen to me late at night when I have a bad dream? Who will I talk to about all the little things I used to talk about with my husband?

What do I do with all the time I have since he isn’t here to share this journey with me? How do I learn to live without the man who walked beside me for over 20 years?

Antoine De Saint-Exupery offered wisdom in “The Little Prince” that has stood the test of time. This book teaches the secret of what is really important in life. There is one quote that really speaks to me and I often remind myself of the message. “Good-bye” said the fox. “Here is my secret: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eye.”

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Steps to Love according to WikiHow

June 28, 2009 by  
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Love is a strange thing.  It can be the most amazing feeling in the world, or it can really hurt, but in the end love is something most, if not all of us, will face. It does not make you a bad person to desire someone else’s love, even if they do not love you.  However, to truly love someone, you must let them be free.  It is selfish to blame them for your feelings.  While there are many different ways to define love and there are many different ways to love someone (even yourself),  here is a general guide to loving.

Steps…

1.     Say it. When you say the words “I Love You”, they should carry with them the desire to show someone that you love them, not what you simply want to feel. When you say it make sure you really mean it and are willing to do anything for that special person.

2.     Empathize. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Rather than impose your own expectations or attempt to control them, try to understand how they feel, where they come from, and who they are. Realize how they could also love you back just as well.

3.     Love unconditionally. If you cannot love another person without attaching stipulations, then it is not love at all, but deep-seated opportunism (one who makes the most of an advantage, often unmindful of others). If your interest is not in the other person as such, but rather in how that person can enhance your experience of life, then it is not unconditional. If you have no intention of improving that person’s life, or allowing that person to be themselves and accepting them as they are, and not who you want them to be, then you are not striving to love them unconditionally.

4.     Expect nothing in return. That doesn’t mean you should allow someone to mistreat or undervalue you. It means that giving love does not guarantee receiving love. Try loving just for the sake of love. Realize that someone may have a different way of showing his or her love for you, do not expect to be loved back in exactly the same way.

5.     Realize it can be lost. If you realize that you can lose the one you love, then you have a greater appreciation of what you have. Think how lucky you are to have someone to love. Don’t make an idol of the person you love. This will place them under undue pressure and will likely result in you losing them.

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Wikipedia’s Love

June 5, 2009 by  
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Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection and attachment. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure to intense interpersonal attraction. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to intense interpersonal attraction (“I love my girlfriend”). This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.

As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

Love
From a scientifically testable frame of reference, love is a type of interpersonal relationship where mutual assumption of good faith results in a state of emergence, i.e. constituents individually perceive the group’s social evolution as both beneficial and greater than what could be achieved by the sum of the relationship’s parts.

Biological sciences such as evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuroscience have begun to explore the nature and function of love. Specific chemical substances such as oxytocin are studied in the context of their roles in producing human experiences and behaviors that are associated with love.

Evolutionary Psychology
From the perspective of evolutionary psychology the experiences and behaviors associated with love can be investigated in terms of how they have been shaped by human evolution. For example, it has been suggested that human language has been selected during evolution as a type of “mating signal” that allows potential mates to judge reproductive fitness. Miller described evolutionary psychology as a starting place for further research: “Cognitive neuroscience could try to localize courtship adaptations in the brain. Most importantly, we need much better observations concerning real-life human courtship, including the measurable aspects of courtship that influence mate choice, the reproductive (or at least sexual) consequences of individual variation in those aspects, and the social-cognitive and emotional mechanisms of falling in love.” Since Darwin’s time there have been similar speculations about the evolution of human interest in music also as a potential signaling system for attracting and judging the fitness of potential mates. It has been suggested that the human capacity to experience love has been evolved as a signal to potential mates that the partner will be a good parent and be likely to help pass genes to future generations.

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Beautiful Young Blonde

May 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

I travelled to Brazil to see my dad a few weeks ago.  He had some heart complications and so I decided to fly in to help my mom and be by his side.

In the plane, behind and to the right of me a beautiful young blonde sat with her 3-4 year old son. 

Before we took off, I heard her on the phone say her husband would be flying down in a couple of days in his private jet.  I started to wonder who this woman was.  A private jet?  Not too many people ever have that experience in their life.  I could tell she was Brazilian because of her accent and that just added to my curiosity. What was her life like?  Was her husband Brazilian or American?  How did they meet?  Was he young like her or was he her sugar daddy?  My imagination kept creating new scenarios but what I was most struck by was the lovely manner in which she related to her son.  They played together and it seemed to me that they were both having fun, real fun.

In the middle of the night when I woke, I saw her son lying on top of her.  He was having trouble sleeping so she had him on her trying to comfort him.  I know she was really tired but she kept stroking him and speaking to him in a quiet soothing tone.

Eventually the boy fell asleep.  I kept looking at them as to me they made a beautiful picture of love. 

In this world where we are always trying to put ourselves ahead of others to bear witness to the opposite is touching. 

I know she was a mother taking care of her son but still for that moment at least to me her gesture was meaningful.  Her son was more important than her.

I wanted to thank the young beautiful blonde for giving me that moment to treasure.  So if you are out there young mom, my deepest thank you.

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Missing God…

May 11, 2009 by  
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Reading Rumi has made me feel somewhat nostalgic for god. I miss him. Maybe he misses me too.

Maybe god is at his wits end. After all he has tried in vain to find a language that would get through to us. Surely, he thought, with all the imagination and heart he’d poured into the flora and fauna he couldn’t fail to get his message across. Somewhere he would find a listening audience. Even a few solitary listeners would do. He knew that words and magic tricks were of no use in dealing with a cunning species that had its own words and tricks. He’d labored to find a subtler method of communicating, a more refined language, a medium that would seep in under the radar screens of human consciousness.

It just didn’t work out. Instead of unfurling our contemplative antennae, we reverse engineered the whole starburst of natural creation down to its genetic skeleton. We managed to decipher the blueprints of the assembly line; zoomed in on the infinitesimal building blocks out of which everything under (and including) the sun is made – tiny particles that don’t even exist, not really, except maybe as a dark blip through the looking glass of an electron microscope.

Pretty soon the hands of God will rise up and issue a universal gesture of surrender. Having no purpose he’ll wave his magic hand and fade finally away. And no measurable change will be detected, or noticed.

And if man should paradoxically follow in the footsteps a non-existent God – losing his way, losing any sense of coherence, losing his taste for existence in a like manner, he too will exit the universal stage. And no one will notice a thing.

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The 3 stages of love

May 11, 2009 by  
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The 3 stages of love

Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in the States has proposed 3 stages of love – lust, attraction and attachment. Each stage might be driven by different hormones and chemicals.

Stage 1: Lust

This is the first stage of love and is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen – in both men and women.

Stage 2: Attraction

This is the amazing time when you are truly love-struck and can think of little else. Scientists think that three main neurotransmitters are involved in this stage; adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin.

Adrenaline

The initial stages of falling for someone activates your stress response, increasing your blood levels of adrenalin and cortisol. This has the charming effect that when you unexpectedly bump into your new love, you start to sweat, your heart races and your mouth goes dry.

Dopamine

Helen Fisher asked newly ‘love struck’ couples to have their brains examined and discovered they have high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This chemical stimulates ‘desire and reward’ by triggering an intense rush of pleasure. It has the same effect on the brain as taking cocaine!

Fisher suggests “couples often show the signs of surging dopamine: increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship” .

Serotonin

And finally, serotonin. One of love’s most important chemicals that may explain why when you’re falling in love, your new lover keeps popping into your thoughts.
Does love change the way you think?
A landmark experiment in Pisa, Italy showed that early love (the attraction phase) really changes the way you think.

Dr Donatella Marazziti, a psychiatrist at the University of Pisa advertised for twenty couples who’d been madly in love for less than six months. She wanted to see if the brain mechanisms that cause you to constantly think about your lover, were related to the brain mechanisms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

By analyzing blood samples from the lovers, Dr Marazitti discovered that serotonin levels of new lovers were equivalent to the low serotonin levels of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients.

Love needs to be blind

Newly smitten lovers often idealise their partner, magnifying their virtues and explaining away their flaws says Ellen Berscheid, a leading researcher on the psychology of love.

New couples also exalt the relationship itself. “It’s very common to think they have a relationship that’s closer and more special than anyone else’s”. Psychologists think we need this rose-tinted view. It makes us want to stay together to enter the next stage of love – attachment.

Stage 3: Attachment

Attachment is the bond that keeps couples together long enough for them to have and raise children. Scientists think there might be two major hormones involved in this feeling of attachment; oxytocin and vasopressin.

Oxytocin – The cuddle hormone

Oxytocin is a powerful hormone released by men and women during orgasm.

It probably deepens the feelings of attachment and makes couples feel much closer to one another after they have had sex. The theory goes that the more sex a couple has, the deeper their bond becomes.

Oxytocin also seems to help cement the strong bond between mum and baby and is released during childbirth. It is also responsible for a mum’s breast automatically releasing milk at the mere sight or sound of her young baby.

Diane Witt, assistant professor of psychology from New York has showed that if you block the natural release of oxytocin in sheep and rats, they reject their own young.

Conversely, injecting oxytocin into female rats who’ve never had sex, caused them to fawn over another female’s young, nuzzling the pups and protecting them as if they were their own.

Vasopressin
Vasopressin is another important hormone in the long-term commitment stage and is released after sex.

Vasopressin (also called anti-diuretic hormone) works with your kidneys to control thirst. Its potential role in long-term relationships was discovered when scientists looked at the prairie vole.

Prairie voles indulge in far more sex than is strictly necessary for the purposes of reproduction. They also – like humans – form fairly stable pair-bonds.

When male prairie voles were given a drug that suppresses the effect of vasopressin, the bond with their partner deteriorated immediately as they lost their devotion and failed to protect their partner from new suitors.

Source: The Wellcome Trust is the UK’s leading biomedical charity. Their mission is to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health. This includes raising public awareness of the medical, ethical and social implications of biomedical research.

Explore-At-Bristol is one of the UK’s most exciting hands-on science centers!

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STRANGER AT A COFFEE HOUSE

May 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

Written by

Ligiah Villalobos

A few years ago, I went through a very painful experience.   Finding out that the guy you’re in love with is sleeping with someone else has a way of making you lose all self-confidence.  Your heart feels empty and hollow.  You feel unattractive, worthless, miserable.

On this particular day, I had spent the entire day crying and going on an emotional roller coaster that seemed never-ending.

I took a shower, hoping that would help me clear my head.  It didn’t.   So, I decided to get out of the house and go to my usual coffee house in Venice, California where I went to write.  Maybe a change of scenery would be good for the soul.  I called a friend and asked him to meet me there.

I arrived at The Novel Café with my hair still soaking wet, no make-up and puffy eyes from all the tears I had shed that day.  I got myself a cup of chamomile tea and sat at a table to write while I waited for my friend.

Soon after, a man walked in – a stranger, no one I had ever seen before.  But he reminded me of the man who had just broken my heart – dark-skinned, dreadlocks, Venice vibe.  The man walked up to the counter, ordered his drink and turned to look at me.  I could feel him staring but I didn’t look up.  He came toward me, standing almost in front of me for what seemed like a lifetime but in reality it was only a few seconds.  Finally, he found a chair across from me, sat down and opened a big book.

But, I still felt his eyes on me and could tell he wasn’t reading the book.  I started to feel very uncomfortable – there are lots of strange people in Venice and at this coffee house, they were regulars.  I was really anxious for my friend to get there.

Finally, my friend arrived.  He asked me how I was doing.  I started to cry.  I then began to give him all the details of the break-up.  The more I talked, the more I cried.

Half way through our conversation my friend said, “You know, there’s someone across from you pretending to read a book but actually looking straight at you?”  I explained that the stranger had been doing that for the last half hour.  My friend then said, “That’s Venice for ya, just a bunch of losers with nothing else to do.”  For some reason his comment made me cry even more.  I felt like one of those losers.  I asked my friend if we could leave.  The man was making me too uncomfortable.

As we walked out, we passed right by him.  He made eye contact with me then lowered the big book he had on his lap, wanting me to see what was on it.  I nervously looked down and to my surprise I saw two pages that were covered with amazing pencil drawings of me.

There was one of me writing, a second one capturing me as I ran my fingers through my wet hair and a third one of me looking out the coffee house window, deep in thought.  He was not reading at all, he had been sketching me the whole time.  My friend and I were speechless.  The drawings were absolutely stunning.

The man didn’t say a word to me, he only smiled.  I quickly walked out, too much in shock to even say, thank you.

Since then, I have gone back to that coffee house dozens of times and have never seen him again.  But that night, this complete stranger gave me a gift of kindness when I most needed it.  He was able to go beyond my outward appearance and see my soul.  He saw something beautiful in me when I couldn’t.

As I walked out with my friend and into the night, I began to cry, completely overwhelmed by the experience.

My heart was full again.

Ligiah Villalobos is the Writer and Executive Producer of the feature film Under the Same Moon, (La Misma Luna). The film was an Official Selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and became the highest sale for a Spanish-language film in the history of Sundance.

Villalobos has been named “One of the 25 Most Powerful and Talented Hispanic Women in the Entertainment Industry” by the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard Magazine in 2007 and was recently honored with the 2008 Norman Lear Writers Award at the Imagen Awards.

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Love After Love…

May 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the others welcome, and say, sit here. Eat

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate

notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life

Derek Alton Walcott (born January 23, 1930) is a West Indies poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who writes mainly in English. Born in Castries, St. Lucia, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.

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