Comforting Words: 01/2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Not Time, But Love...

Listen to this audio post - click to play

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Criminal Minds & Inspiration

After a hard and emotionally taxing day at work (read as almost everyday) one of my favourite unwinding methods is - television watching.

Today was a particularly hard day, one extended by needing to meet my daughter after work and get some business that we have delayed out of the way. So my watching of Oprah was curtailed to a few minutes while the van heated up.

On my way through the door, however, I resolved that this was an evening that I was going to flake out in front of the television, never mind having to write a post for Comforting Words!

I know that the jury is still out on the benefits of television watching and in fact some have returned with a 'guilty' verdict, i.e., that too much television is damaging to the intellect. My personal experience though has been mixed as television has taught me many things that serve as inspiration and even affirmation for my life's work.

There are of course the more obvious programmes that fits snuggly in that category of "affirmative and empowering" television, namely shows such as Oprah's and features and documentaries on channels like National Geographic and Discovery.

A long-ago friend of mine loved to say "pick the sense out of nonsense," however that was not my intention as I sat to watch this evening's episode of Criminal Minds. Although, I would not consider myself hooked to this series, it is one that most Wednesdays Juds and I tend to view.

Who would have guessed though that a show about FBI profilers, using their knowledge of psychology and criminology to 'suss' out murderers, rapists, paedophiles and every other brand of criminals you could imagine, would have Juds in tears and me writing a post about its motivational value!

This week's episode was not only a tear-jerker, witnessing to the power of love, particularly that of a mother who would rather go to the electric chair as an accomplice to a serial rapist and murderer to protect her child. This otherwise run-of-the-mill albeit well-acted detective series, was also a lesson in selfless service to others.

Gideon, one of the leading FBI profilers, ended this week's episode with a quote from author Albert Pine that literally moved me from my couch-potato like pose to the computer to write this post:

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal."

This is what I am talking about, people, when I invite you to join with me and the Comforting Words Community and put real meaning to the day as we affirm one woman this International Women's Day.

"What we do for immortal," no matter how simple it might seem. Who would have thought that a simple and mindless (potentially mind-numbing) act like watching television would hold such a lesson? Some of you might be thinking that your $20.00 gift or sending this box of Affirmation to a woman somewhere in the world will not make a difference.

I, however, beg to differ and urge you to take a couple hours to purchase a gift, write your nomination, email your 'article' to me and snail mail the gift for inclusion in the package. For more details, visit Comfort Foundation & Ministries and join our free and private mailing list.

Let us as a community, small as we may be, remind a woman in March that her presence on this Earth plane is a blessing. Let us step into our immortality by stepping out of ourselves!

And, watch some television - you might be surprised what gem you might come across!



Photograph from Criminal Minds courtesy of Yahoo Images.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pet Peeve: Good Manners

I have this pet peeve that has gotten me into, let us say, some uncomfortable moments particularly since moving to Canada.

The irony of the situation, however, is that before coming to live here whenever conversations would turn to people and cultures of the world it was not unusual to hear the observation that Canadians are so polite. Imagine my shock to find this not to be the whole truth, especially in the part of the country where I reside.

Many a jokes there have been about this Canadian politeness, including the one about the placard-bearing citizens who during President Bush’s 2004 visit could be seen with signs that read, "Please leave."

Joel Fleming posted an article on his blog in which he asks the question, one that I have heard many times in the last three years and particularly during the election campaign, "What does it mean to be Canadian?" Joel writes that in his experience "politeness (again, usually in comparison to the southern barbarian hordes)," is among the characteristics of being Canadian.

Why am I raising this issue today you might ask? Do I not believe that Canadians are polite?

Honestly, turning on the computer this morning I had no idea for a topic and as I went through my regular routine of reading emails and checking the results of the Comforting Words survey (which incidentally will be closing soon), I noticed "Today's Quote," to the right of the screen. It was one from Voltaire (1694 - 1778) and it read, "To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."

Reading this was no coincidence as the issue of "manners" - having and displaying them - has been up front and center to me in recent times.

I grew up in a country and society that was colonized for the longest time by the purveyors of manners - the British and as much as one may try to rinse the residue of colonialism from the psyche some things, particularly those that make life and relationships pleasant and enriching, will always remain.

One of my mother's favourite golden rule was "manners will take you through the world," and although her constant repetition of this would immensely annoy me as a teenager, I have come to appreciate the hidden treasure in her words. I have had the opportunity to travel to quite a number of countries across Eastern and Western Europe, the Caribbean and throughout the United States; and as a tourist the most precious item in my luggage was good manners.

Several times during my travels and even now in Canada, I found myself in scrapes, lost or have had property stolen and on every occasion it was the grace of God and the manners that my mother told me would take me through the world that saved me from what could have been very, very unpleasant situations.

The "manners" that I am referring to go well beyond being polite - a characteristic that I have in fact experienced in many Canadians.

Politeness, to me, is an aspect of displaying 'manners', but is not the sum total. According to the dictionary, the word "polite" also means "glossy, polished, refined," and what is even more interesting is that "polite" in all its glossiness is also related to "politics."

"Manners", on the other hand is more directly concerned with "the way in which anything is done; method; habit; custom," and it is also about character.

I would not wish for anyone to read this post and think that I am saying that all Canadians may be polite (glossy, polished, refined) but lacking in 'good' manners (method, habit, custom or even character). Neither am I saying that people living on islands with a British colonial past have better manners.

What I am grappling with is to understand my experiences in relation to the universal image of Canadians - why and where is the gap?

Over the past three years, I have had contact with many polite Canadians, however, the good (or well) mannered ones have been far fewer in number. It is the deep and underlying characteristic and texture of contacts that drive me into full agreement with Emily Post who said:

"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use."

It is easy to speculate and even to become paranoid about this perceived gap, however, if 'understanding' is truly my desire, I know that is not a viable option. My search or desire is not for what has been described as "elaborate courtesy," rather it is for a genuine sense of being 'seen', welcomed and celebrated.

This country prides itself as such as place, one that is welcoming and celebratory, one that is multicultural and, in its international endeavours, Canada seeks to be a "peacekeeper." However, may I suggest that if Canada is to be authentic to these aspirations and/or designations, its citizens will need to go beyond the gloss and polish of the words?

Like everything else, true manners begins at home; it begins in the heart and as quoted above, it is an “awareness of the feelings of others” not simply a display of seemingly polite gestures and uttering the correct phrases.

As I continue my quest for understanding it is certain that the true feelings of the people I meet will reveal themselves. My prayer is that, in the words of Solomon ben Yehuda ibn Gabirol, author of The Choice of Pearls, I will pass "the test of [my own] good manners" by being "patient with bad ones."

Will you?



Cartoon courtesy of Yahoo Images

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Keeping Hope Alive

Last Saturday (January 14) I spent the most interesting day, participating in three very different events yet linked by a common thread – hope.

A few days earlier my woman-friend B, the one who I was spared listening to her singing on a fourteen-hour car trip to Vancouver last summer, sent me an email that her mother had made her transition. While neither my partner nor I had ever met B’s mother, we know and care for B deeply and so decided to attend the memorial service.

Sitting in the medium-size chapel that Saturday afternoon, I looked around and noted that we were the only so-called visible minority among just over one hundred people gathered. I mused to myself that my fellow mourners were probably wondering where we met the departed.

Several possible meeting places soon revealed themselves as I listened to the eulogy, delivered by three of her children, as not only were family members gathered but people who B’s mother had met through her travels to several countries, including the Caribbean. She had also volunteered at local charities serving the needs of newcomers to Canada and had served her church community to the end.

In short, she lived a good life in many respects and despite whatever limitations she might have had, she reached out to the world around her. B read a poem that was one of her mother’s favourites and one that will remain with me for a while to come. Entitled, “Don’t Grieve for Me,” the poem basically chronicles a life fully lived and departed in grace. Between the lines, it invites those of us remaining on this Earth plane, to embrace life and live fully in hope and love.

Leaving the downtown chapel, we headed west to the home of two lovely women, D and K, we met several months earlier in the grocery store. This meeting is a story in itself but suffice it to say that since that time, the four of us have become fast friends. Our gathering this Saturday was planned weeks ahead but had shifted a bit as D had called earlier that morning to tell us that the current Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Central (where they live) will be making a presentation at a local club for lesbians.

Juds, my partner, had always being fascinated by this particular politician and her journalistic instincts were propelling her to get Anne McLellan’s reaction to being sarcastically labeled “Landslide Annie.” Just after 4:00 p.m., we noticed a minor flurry at the door which announced Ms McLellan’s arrival. Needless to say, Juds and I were more than a little surprised that this ‘powerful’ woman was without an entourage much less security, save for one female assistant. In the society and culture from which we originate a politician of any note or stature, not to mention the deputy prime minister, would never be traveling alone – not even to his/her bathroom!

I was equally struck by how easily Ms McLellan entered into conversation with us after K and I approached her, introduced ourselves and our issues. K was particularly concerned about the prospect of a Conservative government and was earlier trying to coax the rest of us into agreeing to migrate to Quebec should that party win the elections. Knowing that to successfully find one’s place in that province French would be an important asset none of us was taking her on. However, I wanted to hear what the Deputy Prime Minister’s views were on this possibility and whether we should seriously really listen to K.

Apparently the plan was that this campaign stop should have lasted not more than forty-five minutes. However, between K and I commanding her attention, the photographers wanting to get the best shots of her with the framed Charter of Rights which she had presented and her earnest desire to greet almost everyone in the club, Ms McLellan left much later than her assistant preferred.

Returning to our table I asked myself whether having met her and had some of my questions answered, would I vote for her and specifically the Liberal party? Bearing in mind my natural liberal instincts, as discussed in the last post, if I lived in her riding, Edmonton-Central, I would. She would not get my vote simply because of any promises she made during the conversation but more so because of the hope she inspired. Not living in her riding, would I vote for the Liberals?

The truth is that although I am aware of the scandals and the alleged corruption that plagues the party, the Liberals would get my vote not solely on the basis of my political and religious heritage. Neither would they be getting my vote because I am voting against the Conservatives because of their stance on same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to choose or the obvious deficiency in social programs in their platform.

The Liberals would get my vote, this one time, because of the sense of hope that I get from their platform that my family – diverse as it is in terms of culture, ethnicity, sexual orientations and religious/faith beliefs and led as it is by women – would stand a chance of achieving our highest aspirations in this country.

After leaving the club, feeling both hopeful yet very concerned about the prospect of a Conservative government, we headed to K and D’s house to make supper. What was more significant was that as we cooked and prepared our multicultural menu of Jamaican curry chicken, dirty rice, steamed kale, fried green tomatoes and banana cream pie, we were making plans for our future.

Juds and I headed for home about 10:00 p.m., with our tummies full of a delectable meal and our heads and hearts full of ideas and “to do’s” to make our common dream of creating an organization that would serve the needs of our community. I had already taken some of the first steps towards this through this blog and through the establishment of the Comfort Foundation & Ministries, the interim web site of which you can view here.

The Comforting Words Woman of 2006 project is another step in this dream of affirming women across the world and you are invited to join forces with us in doing this. All it requires is a gift of not more than US$20.00 and sixty or so minutes of your time writing about the woman you nominate for this award. For further information, check out “Be A Part of…” and submit your nominations by February 10, 2006.

As the political machinery grinds here in Canada and in fact around the world, even in your town, simple steps to remind ourselves that without each and everyone of us, without our voices and without our support and action – small as they may be – our societies and the world will be completely taken over and run by people who have little more than money, domination and power on their minds.

I urge you to do your small bit to remind your neighbours and yourselves that it does not take much to “keep hope alive.”



Photograph available at Yahoo Images

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Canadian Election on My Mind

Before I get into the main theme of this post, let me first announce that there are exciting developments in this Community.

I have created and will soon officially launch The Comfort Foundation & Ministries! Members of the Comforting Words Community will be informed by email this week when they can access the web site. Bookmark this page and visit frequently throughout this week for a link to the new Comfort Foundation & Ministries' site.

Secondly, nominations for the Comforting Words Woman of 2006 will officially open on Monday, January 15. Submission details are available here and at the Comfort Foundation & Ministries. Be part of the...Affirmation!

    Now, on to what has been on my mind, here is my post for today:

Barely able to speak and coughing like a dog that some cruel person threw sand on, I laid on my couch for most of this past week and watched television.

Much of my attention was on the election campaign that is coming into its final week. As I mentioned in a previous post, politics was (and to some extent still remain) an area of more than passing interest for me. Today and for some time now, although I have not been actively engaged in the political life of any country in which I have resided, that inactivity has not quenched my appetite to understand Canadian politics in general and the dynamics of this upcoming election.

Frankly, I have been fairly ambivalent towards the rhetoric emanating from the mouths of the four major party leaders, although sensing a significant difference between their platforms. The sincerity in each of the leader's belief that his party has the best options for Canada (and/or Québéc) is clear, albeit dogged by the public perception that politicians never speak the full truth.

When we migrated to Canada, without any long or in-depth analysis, I was naturally drawn to the Liberal party. This might have to do with my long affinity with liberal-like parties and movements (including religious) around the world.

However, the New Democratic Party piqued my interest and I have started paying closer attention to its platform and positions. The Bloc Québécois being largely focussed on Québéc was more of a curiosity than a real option that I would need to consider when my time comes to vote.

As for the Conservative Party, one that was re-shaped and re-formed soon after our coming to live here, that is another cup of tea. Admittedly, some of my biases towards political and religious conservatism rose to the surface the first time I listened to the leader of this party.

Which leads me to the point that the choice facing the people of Canada on January 23, 2006 is not an easy or light one. On the surface it might seem that it is a simple choice between a party mired in corruption and scandal, i.e., the Liberals and one promising change, i.e., the Conservatives.

We all know that change is the only constant and therefore it is futile to even try to stop or prevent it. However, I submit that when change is promoted as the primary reason for choice making we are on shaky grounds. What is even more interesting in the campaign strategy of the Conservative party is that while it touts "change" as the motivating factor for a vote against the Liberals, one of its major concerns and objectives will result in the retarding of change.

It is the latter that moved me from ambivalence to resolution. For eighteen months now I knew, like all Canadians paying an iota of interest in the political life of the country, that the Conservative party is dead set against same-sex marriage. Somehow though, I missed the complete implications of their leader's promise to re-open the issue should he become Prime Minister.

Let me state for the record that although I have been in a committed same-sex relationship for the past 15+ years, we are not married and it is not something that is on the horizon for us. This decision was not made because we do not celebrate the legislation passed lst summer in Parliament but is a personal choice - one that many heterosexual couples have and continue to make - we are no different.

Having said that, two things arose me from my ambivalent stupor this week, the first being the realization that the clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that the Conservative leader plan on using to reverse the same-sex marriage legislation is the same one that would be used to disempower the women of Canada in more ways than one.

The second, a comment that to now I have discounted as sheer ignorance, came from an immigrant of East Asian descent. In a television interview, this individual (male) stated that he was seriously considering voting for the Conservatives because of the same-sex legislation.

No, it was not the first time that I was hearing this comment nor was it the first time I have heard a new Canadian say this, nevertheless it jerked me out of my prostrate position on the couch. Some months ago there was a report that the immigrant community was being targetted as prime audience for the anti-same-sex marriage movement. Stupidly I thought that people (myself included) who, for the most part, have left their countries of origin due to varying discrimination would not fall prey to this tactic. It seems I was wrong.

Paulo Freire wrote his classic, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, way back in 1968 but much of his observations remain true almost 40 years later. Here is an interesting quote from that book, which in my view applies to the position many immigrants and New Canadians have taken on same-sex marriage:
"... The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors... The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity" (27).
This confirms for me another issue, one that I have often said - that there is far more than three letters (ism) that bind sexism, racism and heterosexism. They are bound by an insatiable desire for power and domination one over the other.

It is not my contention that the Liberals are pure - because it is hard to ignore the unfortunate evidence of corruption and misuse of power. Neither is my argument that the Conservatives are devils, hell-bent on turning Canada into one huge Bible belt, with women barefoot, pregnant and back in the kitchen.

Rather, it is my prayer that as Canadians - native and new - go to the polls on January 23, 2006 they choose representatives that are not limited nor limiting as Friere describes:
"...Rightist and ...leftist are both reactionary because, starting from their respectively false views of history, both develop forms of action that negate freedom... "Circles of certainty."(20)
The time has come for a new world, one that not only 'speaks' of multiculturalism, inter-faith, diversity and the full dignity of all human persons but one in which the citizens of the world live as if they truly believe in these ideals.

Canadians, pioneers of some much that has brought peace and respect of the human person and the environment to our world, have a chance to take this one step further on January 23. Time will reveal all things.



Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Power Hungry Politicians & Hungry People

It's January 2006 and I am living in Canada but on some levels it feels like 1980 in Jamaica.

That was the year the Jamaica Labour Party, won the general election after being in opposition for almost eight years. Although there is one major difference between what happened leading up to that election in Jamaica and what is occurring now in Canada, leading up to the January 23, 2006 election, the spin, the quarrelling, the finger point and mudslinging are all too familiar.

The 1980 election was the bloodiest and the most violent one in Jamaica's history. Approximately 889 people were killed during that year as a result of the tribal warfare and political conflicts. In 2006 Canada, gladly no one has been murdered as a direct consequence of the sparring between the three federal parties and the Bloc Québécois. At least not physically.

Growing up in the political fervour of the 1970s, for a very long time it was my desire to enter politics. However, for several reasons not least of which my sexual orientation, that thought remained exactly that - a thought.

Another reason, one that was fairly high on my list and linked to the first, was the violence associated with being in politics, the need to "murder" one's perceived opponents. I knew that as a lesbian, there was no way I could successfully participate in the public life of my country of origin without having my personal life massacred.

In fact, based on the experience of many gays and lesbians in Jamaica, it is almost certain that had I even attempted to enter politics in an up front way my sexuality would have been fodder for the mill and my life would have been in danger.

Since coming to Canada in 2002, this is the second federal election that I am witnessing and I dare say it is getting nastier. Dismay marks my reaction as I watch the election campaign unfolds. Last night, while watching the French language "Leaders' Debate," it felt like de ja vu hearing the politicians jostle for the lead.

I said a prayer; grateful that thus far the people of Canada are either so polite or ambivalent about politics that the mudslinging, name-calling and blame shifting will not end in street wars.

Or is it that they are not hungry?

The politicians certainly seem hungry - so hungry that one stammers with his pretentious passion, another sounds like a bad public service announcement, the third is so cold his eyes are blue and the fourth is so focussed on 'mine, mine' it seems he thinks that God created air just for him.

Hunger is a serious motivator. Les Brown is quoted as saying: "Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way." There is much merit to this view.

However, hunger played a significant role in the murder of the 889 people in 1980 Jamaica. Hunger is responsible for the wars and destructions in many countries around the world today, namely in Africa and other so-called Third World nations.

Power hunger was largely responsible for, to cite a few, the Second World War, the current war in Iraq and the daily war being waged against women, children and LGBTQ people across the world.

My prayer is that the people of Canada will never be hungry, never sit back and allow politicians hungry for power to force them into starvation that leads to the death of humanity.

In 1980, the same year that almost 900 Jamaicans were killed due to political hunger, the Presidential Commission On World Hunger concluded that:
"Each major cause of hunger could be averted or overcome if the human community were to act cooperatively and decisively.

"Conversely, the persistence of hunger reflects a lack of sufficient political will to eliminate its causes. If decisions and actions well within the capability of nations and people working together were implemented, it would be possible to eliminate the worst aspects of hunger and malnutrition by the year 2000."
There is deep wisdom in those words -- are you listening?



Cartoon available at web site of C.T.L.

P.S. Have you given thought to who you will be nominating as the Comforting Words Woman of 2006? Join me this International Women’s Day, in letting a woman know that she is a message of hope, strength and courage to her community and this one – Comforting Words.

My idea is to present to one woman a gratitude and love package from the Members of Comforting Words, spurring her on to continue doing what she is doing to make her family (whatever that looks like), her community and, by extension, the world a more nurturing place.

Beginning January 15, 2006, each Member, i.e., someone who has joined our mailing list, can submit the name of a woman in his/her sphere of influence who they feel is a symbol of hope, strength and courage. To be eligible to nominate your Comforting Words Woman of 2006 and have her receive what I am sure will be a box full of support and encouragement, you must join our mailing list by February 15, 2006. Scroll, find and click on the "Join Our Mailing List," box to the right of your screen.

Please note, you cannot nominate yourself nor the hostess of Comforting Words.

Members are asked to submit a short description of this woman and why you have nominated her, along with a gift of no more than US$20.00 in value to me (I will provide my mailing address via email) by February 10, 2006. Your article must also include a description of your gift and why you chose it.

As your submissions are received, they will be edited for privacy and posted on Comforting Words for all to review. On February 15, readers will be asked to vote, selecting the woman who we will honour this year. A basket/box of all the gifts will be sent by airmail to this Comforting Words Woman of 2006 in time for March 8.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Memoirs, Brokeback Mountain and Love

There is so much to tell and finding a starting point is challenging. My ‘review’ of the movies that I have seen over the past couple of weeks is one thing I want to share. Plans for marking International Women’s Day this year is another. I also want to let you in a secret that jumped out at me in a bookstore on New Year’s Eve and the impact that it has had on me.

The most important thing, however, and that is where I will start, is my gratitude to all of you who have taken the time to complete the Survey. There were some initial technical difficulties, which a couple of you quickly brought to my attention and hopefully those were corrected to your satisfaction.

The Survey, which is providing me with valuable feedback on Comforting Words and how I can better serve you throughout this year, will remain open until the end of this month. Those of you who are visiting for the first time or have not yet given me your feedback, please take a few minutes and do so now.

Promotions for the movie Memoirs of a Geisha describe it as the love-story of the year and while it is indeed a wonderful work, I would disagree that it is indeed the most important piece on love. This has nothing to do with my personal bias but rather with the fact that a truer love-story does not exist at the cinema this season than Brokeback Mountain.

Despite some criticisms of Memoirs, I would recommend the movie for its artistic qualities. True, as I entered the cinema I reminded myself that the story I was about to see would hold themes that had the potential to stir in me the most visceral reactions. The subjugation and denigration of women, turning them into mere properties of men and with the sole purpose of their lives being the pleasure of men is not a subject that I take kindly to.

Coaxing myself, however, to bracket my experiences and let the movie speak to me, I relaxed into my seat, which was incidentally very close to the wide screen. My attention was almost immediately caught and held throughout the movie by the art, the grace and beauty of pre World War II Japan and the walking canvasses called geishas amidst the poverty and strife.

Brokeback Mountain, however, pulled me into a world still so real to millions of men and women across the world, struggling to claim a place for their love. My reaction to the technical aspects of the production would be wanting and therefore I would recommend reading the reviews of those more informed to comment. This movie has also had its share of negative feedback from persons intent on promoting hate and fear.

A colleague of mine told me that the question has been raised as to what group of people would be the largest viewing Brokeback Mountain and my response to that was it should be mandatory for the hatemongers to see the film. The movie is one of the few positive and true depictions of the love and suffering that gay people around the world live daily and therefore is an affirmation to that community. Nevertheless, it is the story that it tells of how discrimination fosters falsehood, brokenness and loss of dignity that is the more powerful message.

Speaking of messages, this International Women’s Day, I invite you to join me in letting a woman know that she is a message of hope, strength and courage to her community and this one – Comforting Words. My idea is to present to one woman a gratitude and love package from the Members of Comforting Words, spurring her on to continue doing what she is doing to make her family (whatever that looks like, her community and, by extension, the world a more nurturing place.

Beginning January 15, 2006, each Member, i.e., someone who has joined our mailing list, can submit the name of a woman in his/her sphere of influence who they feel is a symbol of hope, strength and courage.

To be eligible to nominate your Comforting Words Woman of 2006 and have her receive what I am sure will be a box full of support and encouragement, you must join our mailing list by February 15, 2006 Simple click on the "Join Our Mailing List," box to the right of your screen. Remember, membership in this community is reasonable -- a desire to be authentic, so do tell a friend about it!

Please note, you cannot nominate yourself nor the hostess of Comforting Words.

Members are asked to submit a short description of this woman and why you have nominated her, along with a gift of no more than US$20.00 in value to me (I will provide my mailing address via email) by February 10, 2006. Your article must also include a description of your gift and why you chose it.

As your submissions are received, they will be edited for privacy and posted on Comforting Words for all to review. On February 15, readers will be asked to vote, selecting the woman who we will honour this year. A basket/box of all the gifts will be sent by airmail to this Comforting Words Woman of 2006 in time for March 8.

I think I have shared enough for today and so I will tell you about the secret I discovered in my next post. In the meantime, please do go see Memoirs of a Geisha and Brokeback Mountain and post your comments here.

Many of you in the survey said that you want to be able to more readily see the comments posted on this blog and I am working to make that happen. However, some adjustments have been made already and I would also ask that those of you who send your comments to me by email consider sometimes posting them directly here.

Remember that in order to post or read the comments, simply click on the "Comments" icon at the end of each post and follow the instructions.

Much love and blessings until next post,


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Year of The Dog, Snakes and all God's Children

So it's the Year of the Dog and according to one Chinese Culture web site, people born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 have some of the "best traits of human nature." However, the rest of us, i.e., those born in say 1965 like me, should not despair that traits such as loyalty and honesty are beyond our capabilities. If it is any consolation Dog People can be "somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn and eccentric, " according to the same source.

The point is, everything has its up side and its down side, has light and shadow, and indeed pain and joy. We would prefer to experience the seeming positive side of people and situations but authentic living requires embracing both -- what brings us joy and what is painful.

Over the past year, I have shared with you many moments of pain; issues that have brought tears to my eyes and even situations that are seemingly easier to forget. On occasions, I have also shared my joyful moments, things that inspire and draw me into a celebratory mood. As I thought about this New Year and how Comforting Words could move forward one thing stood out -- this blog must remain authentic to my and your daily experiences.

Moving into a sense of greater authenticity, with myself and with you, I am therefore seeking your assistance. My desire is to ensure that Comforting Words more deeply serve your needs as I grow with you, therefore I have created a very brief survey, soliciting your feedback about this community, the past year and how it can better serve you, your family and your circle of friends. Please, take a few moments and complete the survey. Your privacy is guaranteed as I am not collecting or tracking any personal information. My interest is in knowing how best to support you over the next twelve months.

As for me, born in the Year of the Snake, the source cited above, says I am supposedly "deep, have tremendous sympathy for others, tend to overdo and although calm on the surface," I am also "intense and passionate." Whether that is true is left to be seen and judged by history. For now, my hope is that through this blog, Comforting Words, I along with you can make a difference in even one person's life in some way, shape or form.

Throughout 2006, I hope to present you my dear friends with ideas, simple things that we can do individually or as a community spread across the world to celebrate the beauty that the Divine has implanted in each and every one of us. In fact, there is an idea already bubbling in my head - a special way to mark International Women's Day on March 8, 2006.

Snake People they say never worry about money and are financially fortunate. Thus far, that has not been my experience, however, I truly believe that in giving we receive and during 2006, I will more intentionally activate the power of sharing in my life and will share ideas with you how to do the same in yours.

Another thing about Snake People is that we are usually good-looking -- you can be the judge of that as I continue to share photographs throughout the year.

One big event coming up early this year is my 41st birthday on February 15. My partner has decided to host a pyjama party to mark this milestone and invitations have already been sent to all members of Comforting Words. What this event signifies more than anything else is retrieving joy and laughter as an important part of my life. Those of you who will attend have been asked to bring much of that to this event -- your childish joy of life! No sour faces will be allowed.

Whether you are a Dog, Snake or a Dragon (my partner) this year at Comforting Words will be an exciting and insightful. We will continue in the vein that has become the norm here - honesty, integrity, truth telling - as we seek justice, love, equality and freedom for all people, everywhere.

You can be a part of that by simply joining our Mailing List (scroll down and click on the box to the right) and/or tell a friend or two about Comforting Words. You will notice that Comforting Words can now be translated into several languages by the click of a button on the Babel Fish link to the right of this section.

Membership offers you the chance to win one of our monthly specially selected gifts (yes, that will continue, it offers my direct support, whether by e-mail, our Discussion Forum or telephone. Membership also offers you several chances per month to be real and retrieve the authentic You.