Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Coming Soon

Yes, I remember I have a blog.  Changes are on the horizon...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rant 1

In the last two days, two people have reminded me that I need to update my blog. Life has gotten so busy in the last several weeks and I can't pinpoint why.  Besides that, I've been feeling private and quiet.

Anyway, September has flown by.  I'm not quite sure what I was thinking when I thought I'd be able to update my SFH: Lotus Pose page weekly-ish, but I am improving, albeit minutely.  Perhaps I'll post improvement photos this weekend.  My balance is returning and letting go of attachments doesn't seem quite the enormous mountain that I felt it was; however, progress is slow.

I've had some rants lately too.


For example:

1.  Homosexuality.  Whatever your personal feelings toward homosexuality are, nothing will change the fact that a) it exists and will continue to exist, and b) whether or not you agree with it or not, if a person feels he/she was born gay, you are not the person to tell them they are right or wrong.  When you are perfect in every way (which you will never be, by the way), then you can tell someone that being homosexual is wrong.  It's okay if your God doesn't agree with homosexuality, but it's not okay for you to implement your beliefs on someone else.  Recently, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy the military currently holds against homosexuals has really struck a chord with me, especially regarding it's recent coverage int he news.  It is an absolute shame that a person can be homosexual and want to serve the country by joining the military, but must hide their sexuality from their comrades, the people they are expected to fully trust during an enemy attack.  How does that make any sense? I'm not attracted to every person I meet; when a homosexual is put in an environment with many same-sex individuals, he/she won't be attracted to all of those people, either.  And besides, sexual harrassment in the workplace is illegal.  Laws protect both men and women from being sexually harassed at work.  My military husband counters my argument with this: "You don't know how it is in the military, Sara.  If a straight guy harrasses a gay guy and the gay guy reports him, the rest of the guys in the unit will make life hell for the gay guy for a long time."  He's right; I don't know how it is in the military.  However, if the military took a more just stand on homosexuality, it wouldn't be such a problem. How about this: Whether you're gay or straight, do your job to your best ability and we'll all go home happy at the end of the day.  Granted, that's a little idealistic.  But at the end of the day, there are members of the military with several divorces, children out of wedlock, who are alcoholics addicted to substances such as nicotine and painkillers, and service members who beat their spouses and children.  What makes them better than someone who simply wants to serve his/her country and happens to be gay? Why is their behavior permissible but homosexuality is not?
People get so upset about homosexuality and I think fear of homosexuality speaks volumes about the individual; I think it speaks clearly of ignorance and also of possible homosexual tendencies buried deep within that scare the individual.




Christians talk about how the Bible says homosexuality is wrong.  They cite laws in Leviticus, such as these:

Leviticus 18:22: 
"You shall not lie with a male as those who lie with a female; it is an abomination."
Leviticus 20:13: "If a man lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and they shall surely be put to death." 

 But come on.  What about the rest of the laws in Leviticus that the Christians flat out ignore.  Like, for example Leviticus 12:1-8, which details specific rules a woman must follow after giving birth.  Moses, the author of Leviticus, writes about the uncleanliness of a woman after childbirth and compares it to the uncleanliness of a woman while she is on her period.  If the child is a boy, the woman is unclean for 33 days and if the child is a girl, the woman is unclean for 66 days.  During her period of uncleanliness (no pun intended), "She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over" (Leviticus 12:4b).  After the days of her purification are over, she must offer a lamb and a pigeon or dove for a sin offering.  No woman I've ever known has made an offering of a lamb and pigeon or dove post childbirth.  So if Christians are not following all of the laws of Leviticus, but chose to use the laws of Leviticus to condemn homosexuality, doesn't that amount to hypocrisy? Any woman who has had a child and uses the laws of Leviticus to condemn homosexuality and didn't sacrifice a lamb and a pigeon or dove after the period of uncleanliness oozes with hypocrisy.


How about Leviticus 19:19? "Keep my decrees. 'Do not mate different kinds of animals.' 'Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.' 'Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.'"  Right now, I should be condemned, just as the homosexuals are condemned, on two counts.  My pumpkin plant is next to my cactus garden and my sweater is a cotton/polyester blend.  Clearly, the laws of Leviticus are archaic, yet two verses are consistently used to condemn homosexuality while the rest of the verses aren't followed whatsoever.

Or what about Leviticus 19:27: "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."  That means that people who get haircuts are directly disobeying the laws of Leviticus and doesn't that make them just as "wrong" as homosexuals?  Or, because people fear homosexuality, they can pick and choose which verses of the Bible to obey and which not to obey anymore, because they are "obsolete?" Seems kind of backwards to me.

Or what about Leviticus 23, which details specific rules for the Sabbath, specifically stating, "You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD" (Leviticus 23:3b).  That means no unloading the dishwasher, doing laundry or homework (that word specifically has work in it!); it means no vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom and cleaning up after a meal.  But wait...plenty of Christians do these types of things on the Sabbath, after church, and still condemn homosexuality because the Bible says its wrong.  Until Christians decide to follow all rules of Leviticus, they can't hone in on one, because that virtually screams hypocrisy.  

According to the author of Six Biblical Passages to Condemn Homosexuals:

The English word "homosexual" is a composite word made from a Greek term (homo, "the same") and a Latin term (sexualis , "sex"). The term "homosexual" is of modern origin and was not used until about 100 years ago.  There is no word in biblical Greek or Hebrew that is parallel to the word "homosexual."  No Bible before the Revised Standard Version in 1946 used "homosexual" in any Bible translation.

The word translated as "homosexual" or "sexual pervert" or some other similar term is Greek arsenokoites, which was formed from two words meaning "male" and "bed".  This word is not found anywhere else in the Bible and has not been found anywhere in the contemporary Greek of Paul's time.  We do not know what it means.  The word is obscure and uncertain.  It probably refers to male prostitutes with female customers, which was a common practice in the Roman world, as revealed in the excavations at Pompeii and other sites.

Some of you might cite Matthew 19:4-6, which are often popular marriage vows, as a Biblical argument clearly condemning homosexuality.  Jesus said, in response to the Pharisees who wanted to test him: "'Haven't you read,' he replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate."  Incidentally, this passage is in reference to divorce, answering the question, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" (Matthew 19:3b).

[Allow me to insert here that according to Divorcerate.org, which, for the most part, matches most statistics I researched online, 50% of first marriages in the United States will end in divorce, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages will end in divorce.  These statistics are from a country that fiercely fights against gay marriage because marriage is sacred.  Clearly, it wasn't sacred for half of those who got married, divorced, remarried, divorced again, remarried again and divorced again.  Only half of the heterosexuals in the United States who marry take their vows seriously.]

Anyway, on with Matthew 19.  According to Jesus, "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:8).  However, Jesus continues: "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.  For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:11-12).  The modern definition of eunuch refers to a castrated male; however, the word eunuch means much more than simply castrated male, referenced in the Talmud.  In the Talmud, eunuchs were not only men with missing genitalia, but also "associated with stereotypically effeminate characteristics and behavior (just like modern gay men)" ("Jesus said some are born gay").  So, Jesus accepted the eunuchs as normal and the Talmud suggests that ancient eunuchs were, along with castrated males, homosexual males.  Now let's go back to the Old Testament, to the book of Isaiah, on the topic of salvation. Isaiah 56:1-5: "1 This is what the LORD says: 'Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.  2 Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath with desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.'  3 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, 'The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.' And let not any eunuch complain, 'I am only a dry tree.' 4 For this is what the LORD says: 'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who chose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant- 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.'" According to the book of Isiah, to be pleasing to God, eunuchs and the rest of us should keep Sabbath, and do what pleases God.

The Bible offers no clear-cut resolution on homosexuality, but those who attack homosexuality like it's a contagious disease reek of ignorance and fear of the unknown.  Because we live in the Land of the Free, those who believe it is wrong are certainly entitled to their beliefs but should not ever impose them upon another.  Furthermore, the definition of marriage should be revised to the union of two people, instead of specifically a man and a woman.  Laws prohibiting gay marriage and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" reek of discrimination as well as the lack of separation of church and state.  Believe what you want and I will too; but I will never, ever try to impose my beliefs upon you.

Why is homosexuality such an issue, anyway? Shouldn't we be focusing on more pressing issues, like obesity?  Why aren't the Christians attacking obesity, because clearly it exhibits gluttony and a lack of self-control, which are explicitly mentioned throughout the Bible.  Take, for example, Proverbs 23:20-21: "20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, 21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags."  Furthermore, the obesity crisis in the United States is much more costly and urgent to solve than going on and on about gay marriage. Philippians 3:5 provides a bleak outlook on obesity: "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame."

Finally, Jesus preached LOVE, both to self and others.  Discriminating against homosexuals simply on the basis of who one chooses to have sex with is foolish and ignorant and certainly doesn't model love.  In sum: Galatians 5:22 states "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  The obesity crisis, as a whole, is clearly lacking in self control, but how does homosexuality go against the fruit of the Spirit?

This issue saddens me so as it is close to my heart.  Let gays get married and be open in the military and it will become less and less of an issue.  Because, seriously, aren't there bigger things to worry about? Like your rising healthcare costs because of the continuous list of health issues caused by being obese, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, etc, etc, etc.  Obesity can kill you; homosexuality cannot (even though HIV/AIDS kills, homosexuality by itself does not; heterosexuals contract HIV/AIDS as well).

So I think I'll close for now, even though I have many more rants.  I'll save those for another rainy day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Peek into My Life


May 11, 2009
Best day of my life...I married the most wonderful man I've ever known
Lawrenceville, GA


Command Sergeant Major Murphy
A very curious cat


August 2009, Ocala, FL, Denton's wedding


May 2009, Martin, GA
The week we got married, the day before I had to drop John off at Ft. Benning for five long weeks
(while I hunted for apartments)


Sweet Kitty sleeping...her tongue dangles from her mouth sometimes (I think because she doesn't have the teeth to keep it in place)


See how regal he is! 


Kitty after a haircut



May 11, 2009.  Best.  Day.  Ever.  
Lawrenceville, GA



Stephanie and me...lifelong friends with a rich history
Flowery Branch, GA, sometime in 2009



Friends since birth...Ben and me
Mobile, AL, August, 2007,



My little brother, Brett, and me


One of my greatest friends from college, Dagmar
Tampa, FL, April 2008



August 2009, Ocala, FL
Denton's wedding



December 2006 (L to R): Eve, Matt (04/13/1981-07/13/08), Mary, me, Brett
Dawsonville, GA



Eve and me, July 2009
Columbus, GA



Eve and me, Denton's wedding, August 2009, Ocala, FL



Eve and me, Flowery Branch, GA, May 2009




Me, Stephane, Shannon (FBRC), January 2009
Flowery Branch, GA



Worlds Greatest Gramma and me, May 2009
Lawrenceville, GA



John and me, Freeman Park, NC, August 2010



Phenix City, AL, happy kisses, Summer 2009



John and me, Verona, Italy, March 2009



Columbus, GA, Halloween 2009, Judy, me and Samantha



Mom and me
June 2009, Flowery Branch, GA



Nicolette and me
Freeman Park, NC, April 2010



My yoga instructor, Samantha, and me
Fayetteville, NC, August 2010



One of the best times of my entire life
North Pole, Alaska, 2005



My gorgeous family, May 11, 2009


My Mobile, AL ladies, Shannah and Julia
July 2009, Gulf Shores, AL



Shannie and me, friends since 5th grade, sometime in 2008 or 2009, Flowery Branch, GA



Shannon, me and Stephanie
May 11, 2009



Shannon's wedding, May 2, 2010
Braselton, GA



Stephanie, Kristen and me
Thanksgiving 2008



Stephanie and me, Summer 2009
Waffle House

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's All About the Floint and More on Letting Go

Remember the yoga workshop I raved about? So much of what I learned is still resounding in my brain and body, but it seems that I've taken two steps forward and the same two steps back.  The more I want to let go, the more my attachments seem to manifest and multiply.  My balance is off and I can't concentrate to meditate and all I want to do is let go of attachments.  I want to let go and be free and live in this moment and this moment only because it is all I have.  The past is dead.  The future is not guaranteed.  But I have this moment and I'm living and breathing and healthy and happy.  

What does it mean to let go of attachments? Attachments hold me back from living in the present moment, the only moment I'm guaranteed.  Attachments include (but are certainly not limited to): pride, ego, distraction, judgement, resentment, competition, expectation, desire.  Memories, too, are attachments.  I have had a lot of happiness in my 27 years, a lot of happiness and some sadness, desperation, and loneliness. And during all of these times I have memories, some I choose not to remember and some to which I cling.  These memories are attachments because the past is dead.  Nothing can be undone so I must let it all go.  The more I carry, the more I weigh; I will never be free unless I am weightless.  

Yoga is mental, spiritual, physical and emotional; as I strive to release these attachments (particularly the memories), the more I relive them.  I wish I could say that they release as I relive them, but that's not the case.  I've known Jessica since childhood; we went to middle and high school together and have reconnected through Facebook.  She left a comment on an earlier post that reads, "Perhaps it's the thought of to whence you're letting these things go. They have to go somewhere, don't they?"  Honestly, I'd never considered where the attachments will go once I've released my grasp on them.  Jessica hit the nail on the head.  I want to let to, but I don't want to forget.  I don't want the past to be in vain.  

At the workshop, Lila Pierce Brown said that the ultimate realization of letting go of attachments is the ability to release memories that bring joy, but keep the joy of the memory.  Release the memory that brings joy, but keep the joy.  Be filled with joy because I've kept the joy and hold onto nothing else.  Releasing the memories doesn't mean I have to forget the past; rather it means I no longer carry the past with me.  Letting go of attachments allows me to draw my focus inward instead of being distracted by pride, ego, resentment, competition, expectation, desire.    

Though inwardly my yoga practice has struggled as I'm learning to let go of attachments, physically it has improved tremendously (also courtesy of Lila).  While in pigeon pose during the workshop, Lila looked at the foot that rested under my chest and said, "Don't forget about your floint."  My what? A floint, I've learned, is a cross between a point and a flex.  Here's how to make a floint: Spread your toes as far as they'll spread, point your feet keeping toes spread, and feel how the muscles along the inside of your leg are activated because of the position of your big toe. Even if your feet aren't pointed, they can still be in a floint.  As long as all muscles in the foot are active, you've achieved the floint and you should be able to feel muscles working up your legs into your core.  Here is my floint.  


Throughout my yoga practice, I continually remind myself about my floint and I can see a huge difference in many positions, especially when I remember mid-pose to floint my feet.  I feel the strength from my big toe working up my leg through my inner thigh to my core and not only is it stabilizing but also strengthening.  Perhaps the addition of the floint to my yoga practice will help me send the attachments to another place, a place where they reside in me no longer.  My freedom will come when I have abandoned the attachments and kept the joy.  

Where will the attachments go when I finally allow myself to release them?  Perhaps its not the letting go that I'm afraid of; maybe it's where I'll be once I let go of attachments.  That will truly be a radical change and I believe it will radiate throughout me inside and outside of my yoga practice. 

In other news, I've posted the promised section.  You should be able to locate it on the home page and it's called SFH: Lotus Pose.  Since the title of the blog is Starting From Here, I decided that I would invite you to start with me my journey to lotus pose.  Be forewarned: it could be a long journey.  However, once my body realizes lotus pose I will have (hopefully) learned to let go of attachments and enjoy a deeper meditation.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Further Along the Quest of Letting Go

I am feeling more unbalanced than ever.  The more I seek balance, the more unsteady I feel.

Tyler Durden said it best in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club: It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.  


My quest to let go of attachments has me tense and unyielding.   My hips and groins seem tighter than ever and my effort to balance them is hard work.  Nothing worth it ever comes easily; this is true.  However, the attachments to which I cling: pride, ego, distraction, judgement, resentment seem to manifest deeper when I try to release them.



Coming soon: a weekly-ish photo blog of my progression into opening my hips and groins as I let go of attachments.  My ultimate goal is lotus pose.


You will see I am very far from this goal; however, letting go of attachments takes special practice both with breathing and meditation and so it will be from the inside out that these attachments will be released.

Stay tuned: Starting From Here: Lotus Pose coming soon.  (Along with a billion other blogs I've written in my head but don't have time to write).

Friday, August 20, 2010

On Pets

I love my pets and our household is balanced.  Two females, two males; two felines, two humans.


This is Miss Gatinha Princess Kitty of the World.  We mostly just call her Kitty and this is how she spends most of her time.  We refer to the guest bed as "her" bed.  But don't worry, when you come visit, we take off the cover under which some pretty bedding is hidden.  Nothing is known of Kitty's beginnings; she was rescued after surviving Hurricane Katrina. Kitty has several missing teeth and is very difficult to get to know.  She's picky and routine-oriented and this can be annoying.  However, Kitty loves me and knows me incredibly well.  She is strange but we've been through a lot together; I've had her since October 2005.  When John and I got married last year, Kitty had none of it for about 9 months.  She disapproved of the fact that he was indeed here to stay and acted out in atrocious ways.  She made a point to sit and glare at John as often as possible (sometimes for hours at a time; she once fell asleep holding her head up) and showed her displeasure in other ways as well.  When I asked the vet for kitty Prozac, she looked at me as though I'd asked her to amputate my nose.  She sniffed and informed me that "I needed to be more sensitive to Kitty; six months isn't really that long of a time for a cat to hold a grudge." She then glared at John and said, "We don't throw cats against the wall.  Ever." 

 Then, by way of loving manipulation, Command Sergeant Major Murphy joined our home.  



Murphy has a splotchy nose but is very regal.  He is sweet and playful and he is definitely the quintessential little brother.  Kitty actually  hated John less when Murphy arrived on the scene; Murphy wanted to play with Kitty and Kitty definitely did not want to play with Murphy.  When Murphy and John became a team, Kitty seethed.  A hectic move from Georgia to North Carolina forced Kitty to be amicable toward Murphy and now I'd call them friends, though Kitty would probably refer to Murphy as an acquaintance.  They are both nosy and sensitive; a few times they've been spotted sleeping next to each other with less than a foot of space between them.  


In other news, John has started doing a little yoga with me at night.  He calls it stretching, but we're trying to incorporate it into our nightly routine (routine loosely describes our evenings).  If we can do it for at least a week, he'll see dramatic improvement in his flexibility (or lack thereof).

Holy cow, look at the time.  I've been sitting here way too long and it's off to the library I go.  


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Listen

More than five years ago, my friend Barrie taught me how to listen and I'm still learning.  My soul is not still, resisting the listening it should be  doing, but my soul feels apprehensive and uncertain.  I'm learning to let go of attachments: pride, ego, competition, distraction, expectation, desire, resentment.  These attachments will hold my soul hostage.  One time long ago I let go, so I know I've been there before.

 When is the last time I was still? 

Let go of attachments and experience joy.  How easy it sounds.

Letting go means disallowing other's actions affect me because I am full of joy.
Letting go means remembering the past with joy because the memories have been released and only the joy remains.
Letting go means joy is mine.
Letting go means allowing myself the peace to freely experience joy at will.  

During my private yoga practice, I have been focusing almost exclusively on hip-openers to release the attachments, using my sinking breath and with every fiber of my being focusing on the attachments and practice over and over letting them go.  Let go of attachments but keep the joy.  Today's sequence included seated and supine cradle the baby, firelog,  supine pigeon and pigeon.  This morning, I got a pretty nice flow going, but breathing takes practice.  But I'm trying to still my soul so it will be available to listen.