Sunday, October 27, 2013


I was thinking of the severe drought and the tremendous amount of rain we here in the Hill country have received recently. My thoughts were that so many of us have been praying for it that we got a deluge in response. And that led me to the following email a dear friend, Carin Horn, PhD, wrote to our Dreamshack ladies a while back. I saved it, hoping a time would come that she would allow me to post it on my blog. When I wrote and asked her permission, this was her response:

"Thank you, Marilyn, for the reminder. That particular event changed my life in many ways and on many levels. You are welcome to use my comments in your blog. I thought about this last night while I was affirming the divine intention of gentle rain. Knowing how the law of attraction works, the more folks that can express gratitude BEFORE the rain event, the more likely it will occur. That concept is one of the most powerful that The Master Jesus taught -- give praise before it manifests in the physical. Or, as Jack Garner says, 'Act it and you are it.' There's a very deep lesson for each of us in his words."

"When I was in my early 20s, we were attending The Shrine of the Master (metaphysical) Church in Sarasota, Florida. I went to numerous spiritual development classes, which focused on prayer, visualization, affirmation, and intuition. One class met at 7:00 in the evening while a very strong hurricane was approaching the east coast of Florida. The directed visualization involved 'seeing' a wedge of energy placed against the vulnerable coast with the angled side of the wedge positioned to reflect/bounce the storm's energy back into the Atlantic Ocean. The class prayed and focused our light to serve the greatest good until about 8:00.  Shortly afterwards, we all went home.

In the morning, the radio announced that for unknown reasons, the hurricane turned east and moved out to sea at 8:15 the night before! I was astounded and amazed beyond words! Had 'we' really helped move that storm away from the people along the east coast? I couldn't wait to speak with one of the older women who also attended the class the night before. When I commented about the radio newscast she said, 'Oh, Carin, we have been doing that for years!' Boy, did I feel like a neophyte...but what a wonderful way to be consciously initiated into The Oneness that we are.  All things are possible when we work together for the highest and best."


"The highest and best." I love that phrase and its implications. Sometimes, I find it difficult to word my prayers or longings in that light. I find myself more often praying that an outcome is what I want, not necessarily what is in the highest and best for all concerned. 

Especially when it comes to my politics! And when I think about it, I'll bet that is what most of our politicians are doing also. Holding out, asking, or demanding what they think is "best". Not necessarily what is best for the country. 

As one of my favorite songs goes, "Let peace begin with me", may I start watching the things I am praying for and the wording I use. Maybe what I wish to happen is not in the best interests of all concerned. Granted, deflecting a hurricane is not the same as wanting my favorite piece of legislation to pass both houses of Congress. However, if enough of us in the country ask/pray that the highest and best for everyone in the country is in the hearts of those representing us, I believe that we can influence the turn of events and become even more what we've always proposed to be -- the greatest country on earth -- not one of ridicule in the eyes of the world.

Love and peace,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Smile a Little Smile

Don't we wish our politicians sounded like this now? They are actually smiling in these video clips. Maybe they ought to start singing in Congress. Music soothes the soul. It's good to remember that these guys are human after all.

After the outbursts of angry constituents in recent weeks, I don't think a representative will be singing what retired General Colin Powell is singing in this one:

If Congress keeps up with the squabbling and gridlock, someone needs to tell them "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

All of the above brought lots of smiles to my face, and I hope it does to yours, too.

Love, peace, and laughter,

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Gamification – A Tool to Get Kids Outside

My oldest granddaughter, Audrey, who is studying for her Master's degree at Duke University, wrote the following for one of her class assignments. She generously gave me permission to publish it on my blog. You can see why I am so proud of her. She's a young woman after my own heart. A lover of nature and little children.

"My dad is one of those intellects with accolades that just don’t stop. To paint a picture, he’s a radiologist M.D., with a PhD in physics and Masters in computer programming…you get the idea. Today, what really gets him excited is the “gamification” he is infusing in his lectures – oh did I forget to mention he is also a professor?

At first I thought he made up the term “gamification,” but apparently it’s a real thing with an actual definition. It is the application of game thinking and game elements to nongame problems, with the hopes of engaging users. This, well-seasoned with his dry sense of humor (I vaguely remember seeing a Batmobile photo somewhere on his website…), makes for a very student-satisfied and entertained class.

It’s not all that surprising that gamifying scenarios to younger generations is a successful technique. After all, most children today know how to unlock their parent’s iPad and navigate to the Angry Birds app. Speaking of birds--

I think that gamification, in the context of bird watching, would be a very useful tool in kindling children’s excitement and passion for nature. But before I get into my reasoning for this, I should provide some insight to what bird watching is all about.

While I have always enjoyed being outdoors, it wasn’t until about a year ago that I started developing an interest in bird watching. Over this course of time, my interest has grown to a full-blown passion, and now I proudly consider myself a total bird nerd. I’ve come across many people that seem skeptical of how birding can be as exciting as I make it out to be. These reactions got me thinking: “just what is it about birding that is so appealing to me?”

I’ve realized that the best way to put it is to explain birding as a special treasure hunt crafted by Mother Nature. In an abstract sort of way, this “gamifies” the whole concept of birding. The goal is to spot as many birds as possible, identify them, and if you’re lucky take a photo to add to your collection! This offers a tangible purpose for your outdoor excursions – a hike through the woods is no longer just a matter of getting from one end of the trail to the other. Instead, it is the potential for seeing something entirely novel – and not just birds! By nature, bird watching forces you to walk slowly and quietly, and really heighten your senses (especially hearing). If you do this, you will inevitably witness some fascinating details that you will otherwise surely miss. The picture to the right is of a whitetail deer fawn napping
quietly that I would have completely overlooked, if I weren’t keeping my eyes peeled for a scarlet tanager. As you can see, the treasure hunt for birds functions as a gateway for enriching your overall experience and interaction with nature – how great is that?!

Another common misconception about birding is that it’s something that mainly interests older people and certainly not children. Well this just isn’t the case. Last summer, I had the pleasure of taking my two younger cousins (photographed on the left) on a nature walk. I pointed out all the birds I could see, had them look at the birds through my binoculars, and mentioned many fun facts. I was thrilled when they started asking me questions about all sorts of things they thought were curiosities of nature. They sensed and reciprocated my excitement when we spotted a new bird and were very impressed that I could identify a bird just by hearing its call. Imagine their thrill when they realized they could do it too, with just a few tips! By the end of the trip, I knew there were two new birders in the world. This was confirmed when their mother called me a few days later to tell me that my cousin had been pointing out chickadees, cardinals, and mockingbirds outside their window ever since our little adventure. Apparently my little cousin also wanted to know if we would be going on a nature hike again soon.

I’ve gone on several other successful hikes like this one with children of all ages. After this nature walk, I received about a dozen blurry photos of a robin in a text message. I’ve realized what a great tool birding is for getting kids to step away from the TV and head outdoors, especially when you introduce it as an adventure."

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Spooks, goblins, witches, princesses, jack-o-lanterns, and candy -- lots of candy! These are just a few of my favorite Halloween pictures. Mostly family, but a few friends, too. I wish I had scanned the one of my oldest, Craig, and his little sister, Carajean, when they went as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Craig was six years old, and was put out with me for making his costume. It was a little short for his liking, and he had to wear green tights as well. Maybe next year I will find it and post it!

Congress has played a lot of "tricks" on us this season. The government shutdown was a disaster for the GOP. Those youngsters, i.e., the new members of the Tea Party ushered in in the last election, must think they are still in school. Their actions were so immature -- downright childish say some commentators. They want what they want or they will pick up their toys and go home! I don't think any of them is old enough to be on any pension, Medicare, Social Security, or in need of Veteran Benefits. Thus, their inability to empathize with the general public. They scared the bejeezus out of lots of folks, especially seniors and the poor. They want to cut spending on much that many of us are dependent upon, and ended up hurting their own Tea Party members by holding out so long on a compromise! I thought it apt when Senator John McCain referred to them as "Hobbits" from "Middle Earth". Let's hope that when they are up for reelection they will all return to Middle Earth!

The GOP took most of the blame for the debacle they made of Congress. And Ted Cruz added more reasons -- in my opinion -- for not sending him back to Congress in the next election. He is an embarrassment to our state, as Michelle Bachmann is  -- or should be -- to Minnesota. He was transparent as someone running for President in the next election. He cared more about the public attention he garnered than working with his fellow Republicans to reach some agreement.

A sigh of relief that the last round of partisanship politics seems to be over. Let's hope and pray that we do not see a repeat of this in January or February. Surely they learned their lessons. Maybe over the holidays each of them -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- will take time to actually read what their constituents have been telling them about the madness we all had to witness. And may they all realize how lucky they are to still have a job. In any other line of work with a job approval rating like theirs, they would be fired!
(CBS News)

Until next time, get your treats ready for all the little Halloween visitors. They will be here before you know it.

Love and peace,

Friday, October 4, 2013


Wendy Davis, Texas State Senator, is not one of the elite, favored few, born into privilege. She has struggled to become what she is today. From a small "trailer house" as a young single mother, often unable to pay her bills, she worked two jobs in order to pay for her schooling, eventually landing a full scholarship to TCU in Fort Worth. After graduating with honors, Wendy went on to graduate  - also with honors - from Harvard Law School in 1993. She has spent most of the time since then in public service.

Her 11-hour filibuster to block Texas Senate House Bill 5 earlier this summer gained national attention. I personally sent her an email saying she would have my vote if she ran for Governor. Now that she has announced her candidacy, I will support her to the best of my ability. She is a strong, brave, progressive woman who will stand up for women's rights, as well as helping the poor in Texas.

HB5, which "...would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital-style surgical centers do, and mandate that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital" (Wikipedia), was passed and signed by Governor Rick Perry. I agree that abortions after 20 weeks are abhorrent, and shouldn't be carried out unless the mother's life is in danger. However, the strict mandates contained in this bill, along with Texas' already existing abortion laws will cause more than a third of the state's licensed health centers to stop providing the service and many will close their doors. In some cases, it will be a distance of 100 miles or more for access to any of the health care available.   (photo by Andrea Grimes)   
I found it interesting that in an interview, Governor Perry's wife Ann, when asked about her stance on abortion, said she believes -- although it is "wrong" for her personally -- that it is a woman's right to choose. 

Abortion is not the only thing provided at the Planned Parenthood centers, many of their services are not only available to women, but also to men and teenagers. Most of these services are free or based on a sliding scale fee. I went to their official site for the following information on services they do provide:

       ~Planned Parenthood health centers focus on prevention: 71 percent of our clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy.
~Planned Parenthood services help prevent more than 684,000 unintended pregnancies each year.
~Planned Parenthood provides 585,000 Pap tests and nearly 640,000 breast exams each year, critical services in detecting cancer.
~Planned Parenthood provides nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
~(Only) Three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.
~Planned Parenthood affiliates provide educational programs to more than one million young people and adults each year.
~Planned Parenthood has more than seven million activists, supporters, and donors working for women's health and safety and our fundamental reproductive rights.
~Join us in the fight for commonsense policies that foster the sexual and reproductive health and rights of individuals, families, and communities.

Planned Parenthood has filed a suit against the State of Texas over part of the new law. You can read about it in detail here: Planned Parenthood Sues Texas

I think Texas is way overdue for changes in our leadership. If left to the current State (Washington isn't the only one with Tea Partiers) legislature and the type of conservative governors we have had in recent years, we women might as well quit our jobs, don our aprons, and stay home like good little women of the 1950s. Barefoot and pregnant to boot! And the back alley, dangerous practitioners of illegal abortions -- or the pitiful attempts at do-it-yourself coat hanger abortionists will flourish again as they did prior to Roe v Wade.

I hear that the Republican supporters in Texas are launching a smear campaign against Senator Davis, picturing her as a "baby killer". I hope there are enough sane, reasonable people left in this state to stand up against them, and concentrate on the difference someone with Wendy Davis's qualifications and vision will make in our state. 

With hope for our future,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

12 Guidelines to Help Congress Do a Better Job

The following was written and posted on a blog by one of my favorite bloggers. Beth happens to be a Presbyterian minister, formerly an attorney. She writes with a foot in each camp, and is always on target in my book. She gave permission to share this portion of her blog post October 1st. I urge you to go to her blog site and read more. The address is at the end of this piece.

“..with suitable humility, do I offer a short list of rules (more guidelines, really) that might help Congress get past gridlock and actually have a budget every year as they’re required to do (except when they don’t):

1. Remember nothing is forever: if you will simply remember this obvious fact, maybe it’ll be easier for you to vote on a budget that contains provisions with which you disagree.  You can always vote to eliminate the program next time.  But so long as a program is a program, please stop voting not to fund it simply because you wish the vote had gone the other way.  Which leads to rule #2:

2. Live with it.  Things will not always go your way.  This is how things work when we work in groups.  And maybe, just maybe, ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is, is not as bad as you fear.

3. Resist the temptation to play hide and seek: this is not the playground, this world you inhabit.  Obscuring what you’re doing by calling it something else or using thousands of words you pray no one will ever read is dishonest.  We deserve better of you and so do you.

4. Act as if we matter: Even if we the people do not matter to you, act as if we do.  Who knows, maybe over time, we’ll actually come to matter to you – and that will be a good thing.

5. “They” love America as much as you do: if you believe, really believe, this, you’ll be surprised at how agreeable you can be with your political enemies.

6. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it can’t be done: yours is a hard job.  Anyone who says or thinks otherwise is foolish.  Pay them no mind.  That said, never forget that the job being hard is no excuse not to do the job.

7. No one did this to you: nobody made you be a Senator or Congressperson.  This was something you chose.  So please stop resenting the job you worked so hard to get and simply do the job.

8. Remember what your job is: your job is not to get re-elected.  Your job is not to poll all of us to see what we think.  It’s your job to do the heavy lifting of thinking and listening to others among your colleagues and being informed and making rational, thoughtful, and if you are so inclined, prayerful, decisions.  Stop pawning your job off on the American people, hiding behind our opinions as if they’re determinative of what you should do at any given moment.  We hired you to represent us, not reflect us.  We want you to be better than us, not mirror images of us.  And if you need further reminder, go back and reread the Constitution and remind yourselves that we are not a democracy: we’re a representative republic.

9. You are not indispensable.  Nobody is.  Thus you are not.  The Republic will continue without you.  A little humility goes a long way in doing a job, any job, and especially your job, well.

10. This too shall pass.  When the Civil Rights Act was passed in the 1960's, certain Senators predicted the end of the world.  It was the end of a world, but not the end of the world.  And that’s (according to many of us) as it should have been.

11. Compromise.  Said another way, Idealogues are ill-suited to representative republics.  If we the people those many years ago had wanted to always have things go a certain way, we would have kept to kings and queens.  Only when one person is in charge does everything always go the way that person wants.  When all of us are ‘in charge’, it’s messy and complicated and hard work and it requires compromise.  Compromise is not the nasty cost of doing business in the United States; it’s actually the bedrock of our governmental institutions, this idea that the other guy or gal may actually have something of benefit to offer to our common good and our common understanding of ourselves and that our best understandings, not our worst,  come out of the wrestling.

12. When you’re beaten, shake hands.  Every child on every sports field across America understands the ritual of shaking hands, declaring the contest at an end with an acknowledged victor.  When you lose, simply admit you lost and move on.  Don’t keep refighting the fight.  It’s exhausting of resources and wastes time.  You can keep protesting when you’re outside the decision-making circle.  But when you’re inside that circle, you actually serve the working of the institution at least as much as you serve your own particular agenda.  To lead, one cannot act as an outside agitator.  That’s actually the job of folks like me."

- See more at:

Now maybe I will forward this to my Congressmen..

Peace and Love,