Have You Named Your Home Yet?

Since I was a very little girl I have wanted to name everything that was mine, and even some things there were not mine.  What I mean by that is – my dolly had a special name – Rose (I only had one doll because that was all my parents could afford), my paper dolls (cut out from comic books) all had names, my tap shoes (Tappy Toes) and ballet slippers (Tippy Toes) had names, and so on. I just believed that things became more mine when I put a name to them.

As I got older I continued to name places and things. Initially there were my apartments – my first one was in a Hollywood rooming house where I had one room, shared a bathroom, and had kitchen privileges. I named this special place of mine – Holly One. My second apartment, larger with a bath and Pullman kitchen was – Holly Two; my third with both a kitchen and bath, plus a pull-down bed – Holly Three, and so on. You get the picture.

Then when I was able to purchase my first car, a wonderful Morris Minor which I had painted red, I just knew it had to have a great name – so I named it – Scarlett O’Hara. And sometimes it appeared the name fit very well, especially when it would say to me “I’m too tired to drive you now, I’ll drive you tomorrow”. Since that time I have had several more cars and all of them had appropriate names. My current car is a Honda Element with a license plate reading “Vicar”.

Any home I ever lived in or owned had to be special or I couldn’t live there. Each one had its own unique qualities, and more than one or two were built on a vortex. I lived in a wonderful English Tudor Style House near Seattle – and where I could view my ethereal Mt. Rainier – for many years. It was, perhaps, my favorite house of all and it was named after my favorite English Actor, Anthony Quayle – hence the name Quayle’s Nest. The house was set back from the street and had about 18 to 20 very large evergreen firs which just grew in the yard. I never planted any of them. We raised our four children in that house and built a lot of memories. Whenever there was a bad storm, all the lights in the house would go out and we would set out candles everywhere, start a fire in the fireplace, and cuddle up in the family room in front of the fire as we roasted marshmallows, heated water for tea or hot chocolate and just made the best of it. If the lightning and the thunder came too close to the house, all of us would lay down on the floor in the hallway, where there were no windows, until the storm was over.

We finally decided to leave the area when my arthritis began to complain. The continual rain and cold winters played havoc with my bones, then beginning to feel the results from years spent as a dancer and a speed typist. The final decision came when I got up one morning, went to my closet, and found most of my shoes and clothing were damp from the continual rain, and rain, and rain.  It wasn’t that the roof was leaking – we had just had a new roof put on – no it was just that the side of the house where the rain was being pushed by heavy winds, had become so saturated that the dampness permeated into the walls.

Since most of our children had moved out of the State of Washington anyway, we decided to look at the Southwest. (I am a Southwest Woman after all) and found our perfect home in Las Vegas. The size was about the same as the one we were moving from – that was important if it was going to hold all of our books (thousands of them) and our various sets of china, teapots, and figurines.

We have now lived in this house, which is near another one of my ethereal mountains, for almost 15 years. Yet I have had a great deal of difficulty coming up with a name for this wonderful home. It does have a great deal of spirituality in it, and it seems to respond to the love we are giving it.

I tried many names over the years, Solleone (Sun Lion); Avalon House; and Tuscan Gardens; however none seemed to work for me. But this year I have finally found the name that fits all of the house, the outside, the inside, and the love encircling it. A name that expresses our joy and happiness within its walls, plus recognizes the spiritual life of the house. We have named the house “Anam Cara Cottage” – Anam Cara is a Celtic word meaning “Soul Friend” and that is what we have found here. We are soul friends, with each other and with the house.

The Autumnal Equinox this year (2010) appeared on September 22nd and that is the day we designated as our “Official House Naming Day”. On that date we walked through the house with our Aspersorium (Holy Water Sprinkler) and burning Sage (the word sage – salvia – comes from the Latin word salvare, which translated means “To heal”) touching the doorway of each room and area and thanking God for the blessings He has given us by allowing us to live in this beautiful home.

So now our house has a name, the “Anam Cara Cottage”, and I am currently designing a plaque that will be put on the front of the house, just as they do in England.  

Have you named your home yet???

Women and the “Me Only” Generation

Recently there has been a lot of talk, press, media, etc., on the subject of breastfeeding in public. Having raised four children, two biological and two adopted, I trust I have the experience and the knowledge to speak on this subject without an emotional bias.

This is the first time in my lifetime that women have become so self-centered, so righteous, and so “me only” orientated.  After generations of believing they were not treated as equals, women have gone beyond wanting “equal” rights, they now want “me only” rights.

So what do I mean by that? Let me try to explain.

I spend a great deal of time in casinos and some of what I see shocks me – and I believe – shocks a lot of other people.  It is not uncommon to see a woman lay her baby down on a bench or the floor and change his/her diaper right there in public. Not in a restroom mind you, but right where people are sitting, right there where people are walking back and forth.

And breastfeeding! Why does a woman feel she has the right to expose everyone in a restaurant, or in a waiting room, or any other public area, to her breastfeeding her baby? Where are the rights of those of us who are trying to eat our meal, or have nice conversation with our husband or friend, without having this pushed in our face? And, most of all, where are the rights of the baby? Does anyone ever think of that tiny little person?

When I had my first child, my wonderful pediatrician, the sainted Dr. Seymour Zoger (see a short bio at the end of this article), came to my home to see where the baby was sleeping, what the layout of the house was and, most of all, to make sure the house wasn’t too hot or too cold. He told me that I was keeping the house too hot, that my daughter needed to adjust to the house temperature and it should never be kept like an oven. Being as how this was my first child, in fact the first baby I ever held, I was grateful for his kind guidance.

In addition, his instructions to me were that my daughter should not be taken out in public for at least 3 months. She needed that time to adjust herself, and her immune system, to being out in the “world”. She also needed the time to develop a regular eating and sleeping pattern. His belief was that a baby needs to just be that, a baby. Not an addendum to the mother’s hip or something to carry in a car seat to the grocery store, to a restaurant, or on an airplane trip.

That is the first and most important lesson I learned as a new mother, that my wants and needs had to be sublimated and secondary to the wants and needs of my baby. Something I don’t see happening today. Today’s mother drags her baby with her where “she” wants to go, regardless of the needs of the baby. (I’ve even seen new mothers shopping with a less than one week old baby – the baby being held in a sling in front). One of the worst sights I have ever seen was when my husband and I were eating in a German Restaurant, with music so loud we couldn’t even talk. The meal was served family style and next to us was a couple with a tiny two month old baby, as they proudly told us. Can you imagine what was happening to the baby’s hearing?  And when a baby becomes fussy or cries (as this one did), out comes the breast or bottle to shut the baby up.  This is not good for either the mother or the baby. The mother is upset and nervous, trying to keep the baby quiet, the baby senses this nervousness from the mother and soon relates being fed with tension. How different it is when the baby is fed quietly at home, in a loving and comforting atmosphere by a mother who is relaxed.

A baby has the need to cry, this is how they develop their lungs. To try and keep them quiet in a restaurant, movie theater (yes, movie theater) or other public arenas by putting a bottle or breast in their mouth only makes the problem worse. The obesity in children comes from overeating, and that pattern is started, in too many children, when they are newborn babies. Generally the first thing these children say when they get home from school is “I’m hungry” and they run to the refrigerator.  When I was young and said that to my mother, she told me to have a drink of water. That worked for me and my brother, and it also worked for my children. And that means water, not juice drinks, not soda, not flavored water, but just that good cold water we all need to drink. Even adults could lose weight (and save money) by substituting water when they are hungry or thirsty instead of some ice-cold vanity coffee drink (which is quite expensive).

Raising four children has given me a lot of experience. None of my children were ever breast fed or bottle fed in public. No diapers were ever changed in a restaurant or other public entity. I might have changed a diaper while visiting a friend or relative, but never in public.  Another thing Dr. Zoger taught me was that a baby did not have to be bathed every day. To do so only dried out their skin and their natural protection is continually washed away, which made them a target for germs.

You think that isn’t possible? Well, I am here to tell you it is and I did it. Not one of my children ever had diaper rash, colic, cradle cap, or ear infections. Their colds were few and far between, generally after they started school. It is true that all of my children spent some time in the hospital, two of them for the removal of tonsils (the biological), and two of them for pneumonia (the adopted).  Since I did not have the health records of my adopted children’s parents, I didn’t know that allergies ran in one family, and that another problem ran in the other.

The bottom line is that babies need to be babies, they need time to adjust to the world slowly, not be thrown into it just because the mother wants what she thinks she needs and wants and doesn’t care about what her baby might need or want.  I have been blessed with 4 great children, all grown, all married, and all who think they may have had the best upbringing ever.

Give your baby a break!  Let your baby just be a baby for at least the first three months of his/her life. The personal price you will pay for this, sublimating your wants and needs, will earn more dividends than you know.

(Dr. Seymour Zoger was a San Francisco Pediatrician and Pediatric Oncologist. He had such a magical way with children that they didn’t want to let him go. They were still trying to be his patient when they were 18, 19 and 20 years old. An old-fashioned doctor, he made house calls for many years, answered the phone in his office himself and always wore his trademark bow ties. In 2004 he received the UCSF Exceptional Physician Award and was compared to “the proverbial pebble, his influence rippling out to make lasting changes” and he was praised for his unwavering ability to reach children of all ages. Born in 1928, Dr Zoger died on July 10, 2008 in a Tel Aviv Hospital while visiting Israel with his family.”)

All My Grandparents Were Immigrants!

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Abraham Lincoln  

 Why is it so difficult for people to understand the words “illegal immigration”? As a child I was taught that illegal immigration was against the law of the United States, that legal immigrants were welcome but illegal immigrants were not.. Why people are upset about this differentiation is beyond my ability to comprehend. Why would any American be upset by the United States trying to protect their citizens and their borders?

Now you might think that I’m prejudiced – that I’m not understanding  the plight of illegal immigrants, or whatever. The fact of the matter is that I do understand immigrants. All of my grandparents came as legal immigrants from Poland. They did not come to the United States on a Visitor’s Visa or on a Student Visa and then just stay without legal residency. They did not sneak into the United States or marry someone to get into the United States. No, they waited their turn to immigrate and they came in as legal immigrants.

So the question I ask is, if they had to do this, why can’t other immigrants? Why should we turn our eyes away from those that are not in this country legally – pretending that they don’t exist.

My Maternal Grandfather was always very proud of his Citizenship Paper. He would show the document to me as a matter of pride. The paper was priceless as far as he was concerned and he would point out the paragraph where it stated that he renounced his loyalty to Poland, and announced his loyalty to the United States.

My Maternal Grandfather and Grandmother taught themselves to speak English. There were no “English as a Second Language” classes” for them to attend. They learned the “hard” way, by speaking it every day. My Grandfather even taught himself to read and write English, doing it so well that he spent many years serving on the School Board in his local community.

My Grandparents raised 8 children in a small farming community in Wisconsin. It wasn’t any easier then than it is now. The difference is that there was no welfare, no food stamps, no aid to dependent children. They had to support themselves and feed their children by their own hard work. And they did!

My Grandmother taught her daughters, 6 of them, to cook, sew, and tend to the farm stock. The 2 sons were also taught – they had to chop down trees for firewood, to repair the house and the barn when needed, milk the cows, feed the cattle, etc., and they even learned to do a little cooking.

And while I am speaking mainly of my Maternal Grandparents, (I spent more time with them as I was born on their farm) my Paternal Grandparents lived a similar life in Illinois. They raised 5 children without any Government Assistance. They worked hard to do this and when my Paternal Grandfather died, his wife went to live with her daughter. There was never a thought of putting her in an “old people’s home”. The parents took care of the children while they were growing up, and when it became necessary, the children took care of the parents as they became too old to take care of themselves. That was a given.  (Actually this still works today as one married couple I know took in both her mother and his mother when their respective spouses died.)

So – if they could do it – if they could wait their turn to immigrate – if they were willing to work hard to support their family – then there is absolutely no reason that others can’t do the same thing. And it is easier today than it was in their day.

The interesting part of the story of my grandparents is that none of them ever went back to Poland to visit. First, they could never have afforded to do this, but secondly they considered themselves Americans, not Poles. And as far as I can ascertain, none of their children, or their children’s children ever visited Poland.

But it isn’t only my own Grandparents that waited to immigrate. Many years ago I worked with a young woman from the Netherlands who had immigrated to America with her husband. The interesting part of her story was that they waited to get married until their immigration papers were approved, and then they married the day before they left their own country for their new country.

There are so many similar stories, stories that show America welcomes immigrants, but the immigrants should be legal, they should wait their turn, they should come when it is the right time for them to come.

Along with this story, an even bigger question is how does an illegal immigrant obtain a job? I can remember when I would get a new job, I had to show my social security card, driver’s license, and other identification, which the company kept copies of in a file under my name should any question about my status come up. Everyone had to do this. Why don’t they have to do it now???

Final Note:  When I was 18 I wanted very much to immigrate to England. I loved everything English, I was eager to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and I thought that I could build a good life there. So I applied for immigration status. I soon found that my dream of legally immigrating to England was just that, a dream. One of the requirements in the immigration papers was that I not become a burden on the country and that a relative in the United States would support me and/or send me an airplane ticket to return to the United States if I was not able to find a job to support myself. And, in order to find a job I would need legal immigration papers. I accepted that fact and respected their requirements. I ask no less of those who want to immigrate to America.

We Didn’t Know We Were Poor!

Lately I have been quite concerned about the way people are beginning to rely on the government for all of their needs. With each earthquake, with each hurricane, with each disaster, instead of people pulling themselves up by their boot straps and going forward, they sit and wait for the government to help them.

While it is true that there are some people who definitely need help, the majority of the people don’t really need help, they just don’t want to help themselves.

Today I hear people moan over the fact that they don’t have enough money for food, and that the food banks are running low, yet when I go to the grocery store I see carts and carts of food – most of which is junk food – in the checkout lines. Much more food than I bought each week when I was raising four children.

How many children eat soda crackers and milk or water for dinner? My brother and I did when the money ran out a day or so before my father got paid. How many children eat soup made from ketchup and water? My brother and I did – it filled out stomachs and it was good. If we complained to our mother that we were hungry, her answer always was “Have a drink of water. Dinner is in an hour and you are probably just thirsty”. Eating between meals was not done, it was a selfish gesture. If we ate at the proper times of the day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we didn’t need to eat between meals.

Were we deprived. No, not in anyway. We had enough to eat, not too much, we played outdoors instead of sitting inside watching TV or playing video games, and we were never overweight.

We were also quite healthy toddlers, and young children. We never missed a day of school, and loved just being children. Christmas was a special day when we would get, maybe, one thing we wanted. And our wants were simple. A doll, some toy cars, a pair of roller skates (actually given to us by an aunt and uncle). Nothing expensive for our parents could not afford expensive toys. Some parents would even purchase used bicycles and repaint them for their children. We were all in the same boat. Poor but happy.

The Ethereal Mountain

I have always had two requirements as to where I lived. I had to be near the mountains and near water. If, perchance, I could only have one of these requirements, I always chose the mountains.  It is the mountains fill me with awe, it is the mountain that allow me to truly see the beauty of God’s work, and it is the mountains that fill my life with wonderment.

 From the time I was a young child, living in the shadow of Mt. Shasta in California, I could see and feel the etherealness of this mountain. It loomed over us with its majesty and I could feel that strength and deep spiritual quality that Mt. Shasta offered all. Of course, I was very fortunate at this time, for I could also view and enjoy the Pacific Ocean and all of its beauty.

In my twenties I moved to San Francisco and there I met Mount Tamalpais. Mount Tamalpais is the highest peak in the Marin Hills, which are part of the Northern California Coast Range.  The Sleeping Lady or the Sleeping Maiden are the nicknames for this beautiful mountain. And, again, I had the privilege of living not only within view of this mountain, but was also surrounded by the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Moving to Carson City. Nevada I found my favorite mountain, Jobs Peak. Jobs Peak is in Alpine County, California and is the most prominent peak visible from the Carson Valley in Douglas County, Nevada. I am fortunate to own several paintings of Jobs Peak by the local artist, Mimi Jobe, who lives in the shadow of this mountain. Todd Borg, who writes the Owen McKenna Mystery Thrillers, lives in Lake Tahoe and has included this mountain in some of his books. I have taken many photos of this mountain – one of which is on the banner at the top of this page. And, it goes without saying, that living anywhere near Lake Tahoe is a blessing.

Again I moved – this time to Seattle, Washington. What can one say about Mount Rainier? This is the highest mountain in Washington State and the Cascade Range. Its beauty is known all over the world. There is little that can equal it in majesty, not just because of its height, but also because of its topography. On clear days it dominates the southeastern horizon in most of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan areas. On very clear days, it can also been seen as far away as Portland, Oregon and Victoria, British Columbia. Whenever I drove across either of the bridges over Lake Washington I was treated to the sight of The Mountain, as locals call it. Driving up to the base of the mountain and eating fresh homemade Blackberry Pie at the small restaurant that was there is a delight to remember. And if this wasn’t enough, there was also Lake Washington and Puget Sound to delight the water needs.

I can’t leave the Seattle area without a mention of Mount St. Helen. Living in Kirkland when it blew its top in 1980, I stood on a foot bridge over the 405 freeway from where we could see the plumes of smoke and ash rising from the volcano. The next morning our cars were covered with an inch of ash.

Now I live in Las Vegas, Nevada and am surrounded by the Spring Mountains on the West and the Sheep Mountain Range to the North. Mount Charleston, located in the Spring Mountains, is generally 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the city, which is especially welcome in the summer months. Mount Charleston is a ski area and has a hotel and a lodge for Las Vegas residents and visitors who want to get away from the Las Vegas Strip

Near my home I can see the small Lone Mountain which fills me with the same spiritualness as Jobs Peak. Located in the northwest side of the Las Vegas Valley, it juts out of the horizon as an introduction to the larger mountains to the west. Driving down a street toward my home Lone Mountain overshadows everything. As I look down the length of the road toward this small mountain, Its quiet beauty gives me a spiritual lift and I once again I find myself entering the realm of the ethereal world.

We all have mountains to climb in our lives. Sometimes we can climb them easily, other times it is very difficult. But whatever your mountain be, consider it a miracle in your life, a miracle that will move you forward to new heights. In the movie – ”The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain” told the story of a man who was able to find his mountain. Can you find yours?

Listen to Your “Ghosts”!

So many of us live in a closed vacuum afraid of moving forward or backward. We are just standing still, in one spot, hoping that our life will go well and that we can get through another day without too much difficulty.

How sad it is!

Women are especially given to this because of their natural nature – being of service, rather than – of being served. Through the years, school, marriage, motherhood, grandmother-hood, and so on, women leave their own wants and desires and give in to the wants and desires of those they love. And this is the sadness of it all.

My own life was like this until I reached my third decade. I spent most of my young adult life trying to placate and pacify those around me hoping that they would like, nay love me. I wasn’t trying to buy their love, I was trying to earn their love. I didn’t realize, at the time, that if they were to love me, I had to love myself.

Through much study and self-examination I found that who I was, who I truly was meant to be, had gotten lost in the years of placating others. The change came when I discovered that I had not been listening to my “ghosts”.

Now what does that mean?

The “ghosts” are the magic and enchantment you once had as a child. The magic of childhood is perhaps the most perfect of all magic’s. The enchantment of having an imaginary friend, the enchantment of daydreams, the enchantment of playing with your doll family and knowing that they were your friends, and most of all the magic of growing up.

We have to bring back the meaning and magic into our lives. We have to have that childhood enchantment again which will allow us to grow even bigger and better as women, as human beings. We have to learn to be enchanting to ourselves, even if we don’t allow ourselves to be enchanting to others. What we see in the mirror is our true self. Do we want others to see that self?

We have to bring back our dreams. What did you once want to be? Who did you want to be? What was her name?

When in your life did you stop dancing? When in your life did you stop singing? When in your life did you stop listening to your “ghosts”? Who are these “ghosts” that surround you? When did you stop listening to the silence? You need silence to listen to your “ghosts” – and if you are to grow you must pay attention to your “ghosts”.

The “ghost” of your voice – singing;

The “ghost” of your feet – dancing;

The “ghost” of your body – moving;

The “ghost” of your mind – reading, writing, creating.

We must listen to our “ghosts” and pay homage to them.

You have to have a commitment to your dreams. You must ask yourself what YOU want, and then be willing to accept what comes. And if the doors do not open right away, wait for it may not be the right time.

To find your “ghosts”, to find your dreams, to find yourself – you must be quiet, you must honor the silence, and you must quiet your mind. Only then will your “ghosts” appear to you – and lead you back to the magic and enchantment of life as it once was, and as it will be again.

Please let me know when you have found your “ghosts”.

Age is an Illusion – Get to Know Your Inside Age!

You are the age you want to be, no matter what the calendar says.

At 103 years of age, Beatrice Wood wrote to a friend:

“I hang on to the statement of scientists that there is no time. Therefore, join me in telling everyone you are thirty-two. This allows me to go after young men and plan grabbing husbands from my girlfriends. Choosing to live in the timeless, I am now at the easiest and happiest time of my life”

Many women try to hold onto their youth by dressing and acting young. They dye their hair, have plastic surgery, and spend a lot of time and money dieting and working out. Others embrace old age with open arms, almost running into that vacuum.

Neither of these scenarios are right. Women should not try to look young or old, they should not try to act young or old. Instead they should embrace the three stages of their life, – Maiden, Mother, and Wise Woman – and the three ages of their life – Real Age, Favorite Age, and Inside Age.

For me, age isn’t important. In fact, if anyone asks how old I am I simple say “I will always remain 35 no matter what my chronological age. If Jerry Lewis can be 9 years old inside, I can be 35.

Why do I choose to be 35? Because it was the age when I felt I had at last managed to become a woman. I was no longer afraid to live. I knew I was a unique individual that had been given some special gifts to share with my family and friends. This I did – and I have had a beautiful life ever since.

We are all unique, unique in our own special way. That uniqueness is part and parcel of our very being and should not be sublimated just because the chronology of our years goes up the ladder.

What do you think?