Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ken Burns is back with The War

Ken Burns is an extraordinarily talented documentary film maker, with his works appearing on PBS. He's done the History of Jazz, one on Baseball, and one on the Civil War. This time he's done a seven part series called The War and it is premiering tonight on PBS. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to seeing this man's vision. Golf loves history, especially that of wars in the past, and I'm excited to show him how well a Ken Burns documentary is.

Book stories

I have two book stories to share:

I mentioned in my previous post that we're seeing a friend of ours on Wednesday at his coffee shop in Berkeley. His Thai ex-wife, A, was friends with another Thai woman named Dii who stayed in Mr. Coffee and A's home before their marriage ended. Years ago, Golf worked out of Mr. Coffee and A's home helping with the Thai Language books that A later became well known for. Anyway, Dii and Golf became friends and they enjoyed each other's company. They did fall out of touch and have not seen or heard from one another for a few years now. Mr. Coffee called us last week and said Dii was in town and could we meet at his coffeeshop in Berkeley on Wednesday. So we're going to go meet Dii and have a nice visit with Mr. Coffee and I'm going to tell him about my fantastic service that will save him tons of moola.

A few months ago, Golf, Aidan and I walked into a local thrift store one Saturday morning. I found a book with a Buddha image on the cover and it turned out to be a travelogue and spiritually contemplative book about a Canadian man who went to live in a forest monestary famous for ordaining foreigners in eastern Thailand. This part of Thailand is very poor and the time the author stayed in this monestary was in the early 80s.

I really wanted this book, I didn't have ANY money with me and while itwas only 50 cents, I still had the cashier put it on hold and we went to the ATM a few blocks away, bought some stuff to get change and came back later to get it. Shows you how much I wanted it!

In one of his stories he spoke of meeting a teenage girl whose mother had cancer and ended up putting a bullet through her head to end her misery. The monks asked this girl's father if they could keep the mother's bones on display in the temple since Buddhist custom does not allow for cremation by those who commit suicide. It was a way to remind the laypeople of the transitory nature of our life and how to nurture our spirit that goes on, but our bodies do not.

The author had met the daughter and she asked him if he wanted to meet her mother, and then took him to see the bones, which shocked him, no less. Her mother's photo was next to the skeleton. The author had asked the girl how she spoke English so well (remember this is poor and rural Thailand) and she said had gotten a scholarship to study in the US.

Out of curiousity, I visited the author's website and it turned out there were photos from his time there at the forest monestary. There was a photo of the girl with her mother's skeleton, and she had a sweet smile on her face. For the sake of privacy, I'm not including the photo on my blog, but if you'd like to see the picture, please email me and I will send you the link, you'll see why when you read on.

I had told Golf about bits of the book and included this story. Later on, he had remembered that Dii had said she had gone to this temple frequently and that her mother had committed suicide and her bones were at there on display! I said No way! This is the same girl!!! I had found the part in the book and read it to him, then went to the website to show him the photo. Yes, that was his friend Dii! Can you believe the coincidence!

Now I'm completely fascinated with this woman. How did Dii end up living in the United States? I know she studied here as a girl, but even knowing English, how does a poor village girl get the opporunity to come here? Did she marry an American? What kind of life has she had here in the US? Her story has got to be so interesting and the path that got us together (which is not even complete yet since I won't have met her til this Wednesday) is quite unique.

I will let you know!

2nd quick book story: OPRAH announced on Friday that she's having Elizabeth Gilbert as a guest on October 5th to discuss her book Eat Pray Love. WOW! I'm in the vibe and the groove of Oprah lately. Don't know why, but I do love that woman and I'm NOT a celebrity worshipper (far from it). So mark your calendars ladies, I'm very excited! :)

In preparation for my first sale

It's been busy for me around here the last week. Next week will be busy too. The middle school I substitute teach at practically has teachers lined up wanting me to sub for them. I will teach every day next week except for Wednesday, which is going to be for my first sales practice with a friend of ours (gotta start with who you know!) but the two of the days I have to go in are only mornings.

In the meantime, I've been studying my training videos diligently and taking copious notes! I'm so determined to do well in this endeavour! My opportunity to help others save money at the same time as make some lucrative income for my family has shown itsself and now its up to me to take action and follow through. Of course I'm very nervous about it, but like starting any new job, there's a learning curve in the beginning as you test the waters. And most the time, speaking from experience, you get used to it within the first week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Just finished a really good book

I love travel memoirs, and this book, Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, was that and more. It's also about her spiritual and emotional journey following a difficult divorce and finding herself again. It's an interesting perspective coming from a person who is only five months older than me. I like reading about people who are my age; to find where their lives have taken them and what sort of experiences they have had.

Elizabeth Gilbert is one of those people I instantly like and her book reads nearly like a blog, but more poetic and descriptive, which I LOVE since I'm such a visual person.

Upon visiting her website (linked above), I learned that she follows the yogic path that my best friend has followed for over a decade. I've never heard anyone's diffiuculties or breakthroughs when following this spiritual path, so when I personally had some doubts with some of the aspects of this yoga, I had no perspective or anyone to talk to about them and thus lost interest.

Somehow, by reading Gilbert's stories of her experiences, my interest in this yoga has been renewed. I need to hear others' perspectives and experiences with this practice and share what we go through - that's how I feel more connected. I cannot go through such a journey alone.

So last Saturday, my friend and I attended the local Oakland Ashram for the weekly satsang. This was my first visit in over five years! It felt different this time because before I had felt a disconnect that I did not understand. Somehow, by simply having another person share her experience with me the way a good friend would over a cup of coffee, I was connected at last and felt more ready to pursue this practice in my own way.

It was a lovely visit with my best friend and I hope to make it a monthly event with her. I'd go more often on my own but I don't want to burden Golf with baby duties too much. It's simply a lot of work to handle when babies are so little - till they are like 3 1/2 or so. It is getting easier to leave Golf with Aidan guilt-free, to take more personal time for myself but I'm not quite there yet.

I want to add that Elizabeth Gilbert's account of her travels in Italy and Indonesia were also quite good. I especially liked Indonesia. She's such a good and kind person. Anyway, I highly recommend this beautiful book!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My New Vision Board

Since my first vision board was done on New Year's Day, some circumstances have changed and I felt a need to reasses my goals and put together a new vision board. It's not much different from the last one, but I've taken some things out and added a few others.

I've added pictures of good, wholesome fruits and vegetables and serene, beautiful spirituality. I put in a pic of Oprah because of all the good she has accomplished and has become quite successful in the meantime. I've even donated to her Girls' Academy in South Africa as I feel it is an extremely worthy and just cause.

Speaking of charity, I added a photo from an ad on microloans (top left) and I plan to give more to various charities as our income permits.

Golf has had such good luck with his selling on eBay and I hope for further success. Our experience has been quite different than some sellers, but from our own perspective, we cannot complain. Oh and the car - I hope to have our own within the next year. Needn't be new, but quality made.

The picture of the house is representative of our first investment property that I hope to acquire within the next year. This method of investing is what I'm counting on to fund our retirement as we both have a late start in retirement planning and it's looming ahead of us. I don't want to be destitute upon our later years or forced to work til we drop dead. And I certainly don't want to rely upon the government!

Anyway... I'm pleased with it and I have also rewritten my long term and short term goals within the realms of:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Financial
  • Family
  • Career
  • Spiritual
  • Social

It's a great way to take stock of my life in a well rounded way and keep myself going in a particular direction, rather than meandering around aimlessly. I recommend writing your goals and expectations of your life at least twice a year.