Friday, October 31, 2014

The origins of our Halloween traditions

Halloween is here again. Although I’m not a big fan of Halloween, I’ve been interested in the origin of this time year when kids and adults alike dress up. Halloween or All Hallows Eve is the Christianized feast of the Celtic harvest festival known as Samhain. Samhain is the celebration of the ending of summer and the beginning of winter. The festival was usually celebrated halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. According to Irish mythology, Samhain is the time when the doorways between this world and the Otherworld opens allowing spirits and the dead to return. Beltane is a similar festival in the spring which celebrates the living while Samhain celebrates the dead. During Samhain, the Celts would wear costumes, going mumming, and guide the spirits back to the Otherworld.

When the Celts wore their costumes, the theme was humor and ridicule to confront the power of death and the coming of winter. Scholars have postulated that the Celts wore costumes in order to confuse the spirits and possibly avoid being possessed. The masks worn possibly were to represent and honor their dead ancestors. 

Mumming is the ancient form of modern day trick or treating. Mumming involves a group of costumed individuals going house-to-house performing a folk play in order to receive some form of reward usually food. With the introduction of Christianity to the British Isle, mumming became souling. Souling is a form of trick or treating where the small cake is handed out to the children who come the door on Halloween. The children would either sing or say prayers for the dead and each cake eaten would represent a soul being released from Purgatory.

The Celts used carved turnips as lanterns to the spirits back to the Otherworld and the ward off evil spirits. The term Jack-o-lantern comes from the popular Irish Christian folklore about a man named Stingy Jack who tricked the Devil so much that he wasn’t allowed in Hell and his sinful life prevented him from going to Heaven. The Devil gives an ember from the fires of Hell and Jack places it in a turnip lantern to light his way. Stingy Jack was doomed to roam the world looking to rest his soul.
“So the moral of the story
Is that it’s time to mend your ways.
Be generous and giving
For the remainder of your days,
For if the Devil doesn’t want you,
And Heaven turns you away,
You’re doomed to wander in darkness,
With only a turnip to light your way.”

Everyone have a safe and happy Halloween!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Imperfect Rose: first in the series about four sisters

Imperfect Rose by Celeste Messer is the first book in the Patrick’s Garden series. It is the story of Rose McRae, who is oldest of four daughters. She is the smart one, Lily is the beauty, Violet is the sweet one and Daisy is the wild one. With each one in their category, Rose feels she has to live up to the title as well as resents to attention given to her younger sisters.

Rose has a mind for business and she lives in New York City trying to build a successful company with her boyfriend (and she hopes soon fiancĂ©). She has not return home to Texas since her father’s death two years prior and she has effectively ignored her mother, Margaret, and sisters as well. Until one day, after learning that she was not invited to her boyfriend’s family’s weekend party, she decides to head to her hometown, New Layne, Texas. There she learns that her mother has had a terrible accident and has lost her memory. Her mother thinks its 1983 and is asking for her fiancĂ©, Blue. Rose and her sisters must help their mother recover her memory as well as solve of the mystery of who Blue is. Will Rose be able to put aside her resentments and help her family or will she leave them again?

There is a lot I liked about this book and a few that I didn’t. First, I loved the dynamics of the sisters. I liked how Rose was seeing her sisters in a new light and she realizes that there is more to her sisters than the label their father placed on them. I also loved the mystery of Blue and how he fits into Margaret’s history. There were a few surprises revelations. In the story, there is the question about one particular book written by reclusive author Adrienne Louis. When the author is revealed, Daisy says “I didn’t see that coming.” I did. The set up for the surprise was a little too obvious. But who the author is was a surprise. The other revelations I can’t write about because they will ruin the surprise but I can say that I was shocked and eager to finish the book to see how it ended. One thing I didn’t like was the sisters’ use of “crapdonia” which I suppose is their phrase instead of saying a curse word. It wasn’t said too often but it was often enough that it got annoying and it didn't seem to fit. Overall, I enjoyed Imperfect Rose and I am looking forward to the rest of the books in the series.

Imperfect Rose is available on Amazon for the

Kindle for $0.99 and on paperback for $12.95

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sundown syndrome: end of the day confusion

Sundown Syndrome or “sundowning” is a state of confusion that occurs at the end of the day and into the night and can lead to pacing or wandering. Sundowning has been compared to Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a common depression caused by less exposure to natural light and usually occurs with the onset of winter. Sundowning occurs in approximately 20% of Alzheimer’s patients and usually peaks in the middle stages and lessens as the disease progresses ( Although Alzheimer’s patients are more susceptible to sundowning, changes in blood pressure, glucose levels after eating as well as individuals with macular degeneration can experience sundowning.

The exact cause of sundown syndrome is unknown (Mayo Clinic). However, studies have suggested that it may occur due to changes in the brain’s circadian patterns. The cluster of nerves which keeps the body’s 24 hour clock has been altered or damaged. Another study done with mice has shown that it may occur due to a change in the brain’s chemistry from the younger mice to the older mice ( A few factors may aggravate the occurrence of sundown syndrome are: fatigue, low lighting, increased shadows, disruption of the body’s internal clock and the difficultly separating reality from dreams (Mayo Clinic). With the inability to understand what he/she is seeing, he/she will often misinterpret what is there. For instance, one story I came across in my research tells the story of a man who thought he was being robbed at home because the sunlight coming through the blinds created stick figures on his walls. He would repeatedly call the police.

The symptoms of sundown syndrome may vary from patient to patient. Majority of patients will experience: confusion, anxiety, aggression, forgetfulness, delirium, agitations, ignoring directions, restlessness and trouble sleeping (Mayo Clinic and A patient who experiences these symptoms may be compelled to wander or pace and may yell and become combative. Many physical ailments may lead to a patient being more susceptible to sundowning. Severe constipation, poor nourishment, pain, an infection and too many medications.

There are some tips for reducing the occurrence of sundown syndrome (suggested by the Mayo Clinic and

Plan activities for during the day to optimize exposure to the sun and to encourage nighttime sleepiness
Avoid daytime napping
Try to maintain a predictable routine for bedtime, waking, meals and other activities
In the evening, reduce background noise and stimulating activities (i.e. TV viewing)

Healthy Diet:
Limit caffeine and sugar to morning hours
Eat an early dinner
Light snacks before bedtime

Medical Advice:
Check for any conditions which may be contributing factors (i.e. UTIs, sleep apnea)
Regularly check medications to make sure still needed

Good sleeping environment:
Use a night light to reduce agitation that occurs when surroundings are dark or unfamiliar
Play gentle music in the evening or relaxing sounds of nature (i.e. waves) to promote sleepiness
Change bedrooms if needed

Calm reassurance:
Gently remind the patient where he/she is and what time it is.
When in a strange or new setting, bring familiar items (i.e. pictures) to help with relaxation

Due to the stress it puts on caregivers, sundown syndrome is a common cause of caregiver burnout. It is a difficult situation to take care of an individual with Alzheimer’s. My Grandma Ruby suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and it was heartbreaking to see her unable to recognize where she was or who she was with. I’m not sure if she suffered from sundown syndrome but she probably did. Sundown syndrome in combination with other disorders can be terrifying for the sufferer as well as stressful on a caregiver. I think following the above suggestions from the Mayo Clinic and other medical sources can help lessen the effects of sundowning as well as the stress and anxiety it can cause.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson

The Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson combines two of my interests: the military and a romance story. This series has intrigue and suspense, mystery and an old fashioned love story.

True Devotion is the first book in the series. It is the story of Lieutenant Joe “Bear” Baker, commander of a Navy SEAL Team and Kelly Jacobs, the widow of a Navy SEAL from Joe’s team. Together, they discover that in the six years since Kelly’s husband’s death, they have developed feelings for each other. As they begin to date, the ghost of her late husband and Joe’s job threatens to tear apart their new relationship. Along with the reappearance of the man called Raider, who is responsible for the death of Kelly’s husband. Kelly must decide if she can risk falling in love with an active Navy SEAL and Joe must race against time to stop Raider before he strikes again.

True Valor is the next book. This is the story of Lieutenant Grace “Gracie” Yates and Air Force Major Bruce “Striker” Stanton, pararescue jumper. After a mission which goes horribly wrong, Bruce reaches out to Grace in letters. Together, they begin a letter writing relationship as mail in the military is a lifeline. An old fashioned love story told through letters, Grace and Bruce become confidants in a way only someone in the military could understand. Their relationship is put to the test when Grace is shot down behind enemy lines and Bruce and his team are sent to rescue her. As Bruce struggles with being away while Grace is in recovery, Grace must fight tooth and nail in order to get back to flight status.

True Honor is the final book in the series. It is the story of Chief Petty Officer Sam “Cougar” Houston, whom we see in the first two books, and Darcy St. James, a retired CIA agent who is drawn back into the world of espionage and terrorist plots. Their world is shaken as the country tries to recover from the aftermath of 9/11. They race against time to find the men who profited from the attack on the World Trade Center.

I love this series for its romance, its realism of military aspects and its characters that you wish you knew in real life. As someone who has never been in the military, these books help give the reader an insight into military life for the men and women who proudly serve our country as well as the families are left behind to love and support them through the distances. I highly recommend the Uncommon Heroes series. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The importance of learning from our elders while they are still here

Over the past few years, I’ve been interested in genealogy and tracing my family tree as far back as I could. Thanks to, I’ve been able to trace my family back to my 11th great-grandparents, into Canada, France, England and that is just a part of my family. The names and dates listed are just a part of the story. I often wondered what their lives were like, their hopes and dreams, their struggles and their fears. Did they ever fathom that their 11th great-granddaughter would wonder about them? It is important to talk to our elders and learn from them while they are here. The life lessons and the historical eyewitness testimony that they can give us is priceless.

The events they have witnessed or taken a part of can help history come alive for us. I remember talking to my grandmother Ruby about her experiences in the Great Depression in the plains of Oklahoma. The simple words she told me have stayed with me to this day. She told me that nothing went to waste because they didn’t know when they would be able to buy more. It is a lesson that I have learned myself. I also wished my grandmother Ruby was still here. I would ask her advice about how she moved on with life when she lost her first child. Although, I smile, knowing she would probably say “because I had to.”

This past week, my family has lost a sweet man and truly the last of his generation. Samuel Arzaga, Sr was my uncle by marriage. Even though there was a language barrier between us, I know he was happy to see me and my husband happily married and raising a family. What I didn’t know was the events he witnessed and the events he suffered and struggled through in order to make a life in America. I recently learned that he was a Zootsuitter in the 1940s and experienced discrimination at every turn. The irony is that I am writing a story about Los Angeles in the 1900s and I’ve been researching the Zoot Suit Riots. I’ve been looking for eyewitness accounts and little did I know that there was someone right there. What amazing stories he could have told me. Now I’ll never be able to hear them.

My research has made me realize how important it is to talk to our elders, to get their stories before they are gone and lost to history. It is a lesson I will pass on to my children and hopefully one day, my grandchildren. It is a funny situation you find yourself unable to talk to your elders when they’re here but when they are finally gone, you have a million questions. I encourage everyone to speak with their grandparents, neighbors or any elders you can find because everyone has a story to tell. You’ll be amazed at the history you’ll hear in their words. You’ll be amazed how eager they are willing to share their experiences. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The O'Malley series by Dee Henderson: stories of family and faith

The O’Malley series by Dee Henderson is another example of great books that have stayed with me. Each book focuses on one aspect of the Christian theology with each character who is a non-Christian struggling to understand and accept. Set in Chicago, Illinois, The O’Malleys are 7 individuals who met at Trevor House, a home for children who have been orphaned or taken from their parents’ custody. Together, they decide to start their own family, choosing the name O’Malley and maintained a strong bond that rivals some natural siblings.

First, The Negotiator is the story of Kate O’Malley, a police negotiator who meets Dave Richman, a FBI agent. Together, they must untangle a mystery of a plane bombing. The main theme is God’s mercy versus justice. She learns that her youngest sister, Jennifer, is sick and she questions God’s mercy to those she believes deserve justice. Dave must help her understand that God accomplishes both through Jesus Christ.  One of my favorite quotes from this series is: “Faith is the ultimate personal decision.” I also love Dave’s explanation of the different between a relationship with Christ and a religion: it is the distinction between “follow me” and “follow these rules.” 

Second, The Guardian is the story of Marcus O’Malley, a U.S. Marshall who is assigned to protect Sherri Hanford, the only eyewitness to the shooting death of her father and a family friend who is a federal judge. The main topic between Marcus and Sherri is the idea of unanswered prayer. Marcus, who abandoned his faith when God didn’t answer his childhood prayer and Sherri, who also had an unanswered prayer, helps Marcus understand that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way we want Him to. God always answers prayers. Sometimes He answers yes, sometimes it’s not yet and sometimes it’s no.

Third, The Truth Seeker is the story of Lisa O’Malley, a forensic pathologist who with the help of Quinn Diamond, a U.S. Marshall and Marcus’ partner, investigates a possible serial killer with a connection to a missing person case from Quinn’s hometown. The topic of the Resurrection is the main theme. Lisa, who has witnessed death as a young child and spent her career investigating death, doesn’t believe that the Resurrection is real. Through the course of the investigations, she must decide if she believes in Jesus and His Resurrection.

Fourth, The Protector is the story of Jack O’Malley, a firefighter who is drawn to Cassie Ellis, a fellow firefighter who was injured in a tragic fire. Together with their boss, Cole Parker, they must investigate a series of arson fires before someone is hurt or killed. The main theme of this story is the reality of Hell. Jack is one of my favorite O’Malley character. He is funny and lovable. He also have a knight in shining armor quality that makes him the ideal firefighter. He struggles with the fact that he cannot protect his youngest sister from the illness that is ravaging her body.

Fifth, The Healer is the story of Rachel O’Malley, a trauma psychologist for the Red Cross who helps people after major tragic events. She is called in to help with the victims of a recent flood in the Chicago area when a crime is discovered that connects her to the victim. She must figure out how she is connects as well as struggle with her new faith, her new relationship with Cole Parker and the realization that her youngest sister is dying. This book is the most emotional for me. Even after reading it for years, I still cry at the end.

Lastly, The Rescuer is the story of Stephan O’Malley, a paramedic and the only O’Malley who has accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. The story begins immediately after the events in The Healer. Stephen, unable to cope with the changes around him, takes a very long vacation. He is effectively running away. As he drives away from his home and family, he runs into an old friend, Meghan Delhart. Stephen is drawn to the small town life which Meghan has settled in. He buys a neighboring farm. They soon discover a pieces of stolen jewelry and they must unravel the mystery before someone comes looking for them. The main theme of this story is how someone keeps their faith in Christ amidst personal tragedy and crisis.

These books are filled with laughter, tears, and thought provoking questions that many Christians struggle with. Ms. Henderson offers a few answers to these questions but effectively each person must answer one question: will you put your faith in Jesus Christ? The O’Malley series is a great story of one family’s journey through crisis and faith. How blood doesn’t necessary create a strong bond of family. I also highly recommend Dee Henderson’s Danger in the Shadows which is a prequel to the series and it is a great mystery focusing on Dave’s sister, Sara. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bullying: it's not just a school yard problem anymore

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Everyone has experienced bullying, either been a victim, a bystander, or even the aggressor. Bullying is not just a school yard problem. It carries over into adulthood and can be seen in the workplace and on social media. Bullying is not just a parent’s problem, it is a societal problem, a problem that we should all care about and take notice.

Bullying is described as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated. This behavior includes making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose. Victims are often singled out due to race, ethnicity, religion affiliation, sexual orientation, or physical or learning disabilities.

The rise of technology has led to the rise of cyberbully. Cyberbullying includes the use of internet anonymity to send offensive photos, images or threating comments. It can also be hacking into someone’s online account and sending or posting inappropriate and embarrassing messages, videos and photos without consent. The statistics of cyberbullying is scary. 1 in 3 teens will experience some form of cyberthreats. Over 25% of teens will experience repeated cyberbullying. Over 50% of teens won’t tell their parents. Over 50% of teens will be bullied online. About 50% of teens will engage in some form of cyberbullying (source of statistics from 

The BULLY Project is a social action campaign which has been inspired by the award winning documentary, BULLY. The goal is to stop bullying and changing the culture of bullying. I highly recommend seeing the documentary, BULLY. The website,, had great resources for parents, teachers, and students about how to recognize bullying and how to help stop it from happening.

In conclusion, over the last two years, a number of news stories from the United States and Europe have featured a teenager who was bullied so much online, in school and in their neighborhoods that they took their own lives. Even one suicide is too many. We need to step up and stop this type of abuse. No one deserves to be treated with such disrespect and words so cruel that could harm any soul. Please if you are being bullied, seek help. Talk to a teacher, an adult or your parents. Parents need to teach their children to treat all people with respect. If you see bullying happening, please don’t be a bystander and let it happen. Step in and defend or tell someone who can. Together we can stop bullying! 

In loving memory:
We will never forget
Rebecca Sewick, 12 years old,
Amanda Todd, 15 years old,
Ciara Pugsley, 15 years old,
Erin and Shannon Gallagher, sisters, 13 and 15 years old
Jessica Laney, 16 years old
Anthony Stubbs, 16 years old
Joshua Unsworth, 15 years old
Daniel Perry, 17 years old

Hannah Smith, 14 years old

Friday, October 17, 2014

Series of books by Robin Jones Gunn which have and stuck with me

I realized that most of the books I’ve been reading lately have been for reviews rather than my own pleasure. So to take a break, I’m going to review a few of my favorites. Books that have stayed with me years after reading them starting with in Robin Jones Gunn’s interlinking series starting with the Christy Miller series. Ms. Gunn announced this year that she would be publishing a new Christy series. I am super excited to read these news books. I started thinking about her entire series and how they interlink and how they have influenced my growth as a Christian through high school, college and even in my marriage.

The Christy Miller series starts with a 15 year old Christy who is visiting her aunt and uncle in Newport Beach, California. She soon learns that she and her family will be moving from their dairy farm in Wisconsin to Escondido, California. The series of 12 books follow Christy as she navigates situations that many teenagers will face: popularity, standing up for your faith and what you believe in, dating, drugs, alcohol, graduation and becoming an adult. These books are available individually as well as in volumes with 4 books each. The titles are: 1) Summer Promise, 2) A Whisper and a Wish, 3) Yours Forever, 4) Surprise Endings, 5) Island Dreamer, 6) A Heart Full of Hope, 7) True Friends, 8) Starry Night, 9) Seventeen Wishes, 10) A Time to Cherish, 11) Sweet Dreams and 12) A Promise is Forever.

Quickly following the Christy Miller series is the Sierra Jensen series. Sierra is a young girl who the reader is introduced to in A Promise is Forever of the Christy Miller series. Sierra movers to Portland, Oregon with her family. She must learn a new city, make new friends while juggling school, a new job and the responsibilities of home. The titles are: 1) Only You, Sierra, 2) In Your Dreams, 3) Don’t You Wish, 4) Close Your Eyes, 5) Without a Doubt, 6) With This Ring, 7) Open Your Heart, 8) Time Will Tell, 9) Now Picture This, 10) Hold on Tight, 11) Closer Than Ever, and 12) Take My Hand.

The Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen stories are continued in the Christy and Todd: The College Years series. Christy is on a path of growth after high school and into adulthood. She steps outside her comfort zone. The series features all the beloved characters from the Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series as they attend a Southern California university. The titles are: 1) Until Tomorrow, 2) As You Wish, and 3) I Promise.

The Katie Weldon series features Christy Miller’s best friend, Katie, as she figures out her own path as her best friend begins her life as a married woman. Will Katie find the man that God wants her to marry? Will she ever find her purpose in life? The titles are: 1) Peculiar Treasures, 2) On a Whim, 3) Coming Attractions, and 4) Finally and Forever.

I highly recommend these series as well as Robin Jones Gunn’s other titles. Even though these books are written, first, for teenage girls, I believe that many women benefit from the lessons that Christy, Sierra, and Katie must learn. The life lessons can be applied to any young girl or woman’s life. Two of my aunts happened to give me one book of the Christy Miller series and I was hooked and these books have influenced me that the lessons have stayed with me. I look forward to passing these books onto my daughter. You never know how one simple gift of a book can influence the life of a young woman. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Three great charities for the support and awareness of pregnancy and infant loss.

As many of you know, my husband and I have had two pregnancy losses. Our first loss was on January 7, 2011, when we discovered that my baby no longer had a heart beat and I miscarried. My second was on October 30, 2013, when we lost our daughter, Ziva Rae, due to an incompetent cervix and she died shortly after birth. In the months after Ziva’s loss, I searched for support and I came across a group on Facebook which is filled with women with similar stories to mine. I have three organizations which are close to my heart and I wish to bring awareness to their efforts in the hope that it can be brought to those who can benefit from their services.

October 15th is the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The day of remembrance is to bring awareness to pregnancy losses (miscarriages and stillbirths) and infant losses (SIDS and neo-natal deaths). Every year on October 15th at 7 pm, candle lighting vigils are held around the world known as the International Wave of Light. The campaign for this day of remembrance was started in 2002 with Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown and Tammy Novak. House Concurrent Resolution 222 was passed on September 28, 2006 supporting the goals and ideals of a day of remembrance. Together, these women formed Remembering Our Babies, a foundation which brings awareness and education to communities and promotes openness, understanding and compassion for a family’s grief and offering ways to remember their babies. is a memorial keepsake boutique where parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or anyone who wishes to honor these babies can purchase items from custom jewelry to t-shirts. The money that is raised funds their efforts to bring awareness and support for those who are in need. 

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a non-profit organization which provides professional photography for families who have suffered a loss through stillbirth or eminent neo-natal death. It was co-founded by Cheryl Haggard and Sandy Puc after Sandy Puc took photographs of Cheryl’s son after his stillbirth.  The group’s name is taken from the classic children’s bedtime prayer. A group of 11,000 volunteers have created a network of photographers who have come to hospitals in order to take photographs for a family. These images are a great step in the family’s healing process and honoring the memory of each child. The network of photographers are available across the United States as well as 40 countries worldwide. These pictures become precious treasures for the families. 

Molly Bears is another organization which is close to my heart. It was founded by Bridget Crews after she lost her daughter, Molly Christine, at 34 weeks on May 30, 2010. The organization makes weighted bears and support for grieving families who had suffered an infant loss. The bears are weighted to match the weight of the child (up to 12 months of age) and when the baby was miscarried an approximate weight is used for the gestational age. Since their operation began in August 2010, Molly Bears currently has orders for 7,000 bears (which there is an average 9-12 month wait time) and has made over 5,500 bears to grieving families. These bears are made 100% by volunteers who sew and carefully weigh each bear. I look forward to the day when I can get one for my angel. 

I was never aware of these resources for pregnancy loss until I lost my own. There is so much information that is provided by these organizations for support and services which are designed to help with the grieving process. I wish that I had them when I first lost my angels. My goal is that the information can be spread in the hopes that one day someone may hear of these wonderful organizations and get the support that they need and know they do not suffer alone. If you need these services or know someone who does, I highly recommend visiting these sites. These organizations were created to support, counsel and heal mothers in the future because the services weren’t available for them and they didn’t want it to happen again.

If you would like more information or donate to these worthy causes, please visit their websites:
Now I Lay Me Down to Me
Molly Bears

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Universe-sity: another self-help book of positive thinking

The Universe-ity: A Spiritual Education Using Law of Attraction by Michael Samuels is a how to be successful without education. He uses the terminology of school to illustrate the law of attraction. First, what is the law of attraction? Let me explain because Mr. Samuels does not explain it very clearly in his book. The law of attraction is simply positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative.

In his introduction, Mr. Samuels asks did we ever learn in school? Yes! I did. I loved school. I learned many life lessons from my teachers with the illustrations in literature and other subjects. I did attend college and I have two Bachelor’s degrees. While I am not making money from this education, I do not regret the knowledge that I have obtained. I use my education every day. I may not make money doing it, I still use it. Mr. Samuels makes the statement that “no one in school taught us about who we really are?” How can a teacher do that? I don’t understand. No one can teach me about me. I discover who I am through life experiences.

It seems to me that Mr. Samuels’ measure of success is money and material possession. His list of individuals who were successful without the benefit of a high school diploma, let alone, college is filled with actors and actresses, musicians. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a wife and mother. I’ve been happily married for 5 years with a two year old daughter. I feel that I am successful. My husband and I have a wonderful relationship and my daughter is a healthy and happy toddler. Do I make money? No. Am I any less successful? No.

I feel the problem with many college students today is that the idea that a college degree with help you make a lot of money. While Bill Gates and Steve Jobs do not have college degrees, they have the innovation and drive to create something that the world has never seen before. You can’t teach innovation. You can encourage and you can inspire but you can’t teach someone to see a masterpiece among tubes of paint or electrical wires. Positive thinking will only take you so far, you must have drive, determination and perseverance. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My memories of the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation

I have long admired the Native American community. In college, I took a literature class and an ethnic class which focused on the amazing people. I have a family legend which says that I have Native American blood on both my paternal and maternal sides (I’m still looking for proof). The family stories of my connection to the Native American people helped fuel my desire to know the different cultures and understand their way of life.

When I took the ethnic studies course, my professor organized a weekend field trip to the Tohono O’odham Reservation in southern Arizona. The Tohono O’odham people are the second largest in the nation and were called the Papago Indians by European settlers (it means “bean eaters”) and it is a name which they have rejected and I can understand why. The experience I had on the reservation has stayed with me all these years and what struck me the most is the story of the Man in the Maze.

The Man in the Maze is a symbol of life, happiness and sadness. It represents a person’s journey through life. The twists and turns are the choices in life. With each turn, a person gains more understanding and strength. When a person reaches the middle of the maze, he or she has reach his or her goal/dream. The figure in the picture represents I’itoi, the mischievous creator god who resides in a cave below the peak of Baboquivari.

The above picture is one I took of Baboquivari. Out of respect of the Tohono O’odham people, we stayed a distance away as the site is sacred to them. I recently discovered that the Tohono O’odham is fighting to preserve the mountain as a sacred site because the mountain has become a favorite for hikers and rock climbers and many of these individuals do not respect the mountain for what it is and have defaced the mountain. It saddens me to see a sacred site treated with such disrespect. How would you feel when something you hold dear was mistreated by those who do not know or do not care? I'm sure you'd be furious. 

I suppose what I admire most about the Native Americans is their respect for nature and all living things. They see life in a way that so many have forgotten or simply do not care. I know that some Native Americans may look at me, a white woman, and wonder why does she care? I don’t know if I can really explain it. I just feel a connection and a desire to understand. I know that history has darken the relationship between Native Americans and the rest of the country. My hope is that I can learn and then teach my children all the voices of American history, starting with the Native Americans. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Just Ask the Universe: another self-help book of positive thinking

Just ask the Universe: A no-nonsense guide to manifesting your dreams by Michael Samuels is a self-help book in which Mr. Samuels attempts to explain on the reader can achieve his or her wants and desires by using the power of the universe. I must say that I had a hard time reading this book. I didn’t request it as I usually do when I get books for my reviews. It was sent in a package of other books. I felt I had an obligation or at least try. Twice, I picked it up and I was finally able to read through it.

First, he describes to universe as “flows through you and around you.” Sounds similar? It should. Obi-Wan says “It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together” when describing the Force to Luke in Star Wars. Second, he discusses the dos and don’ts of the universe. Do be positive and give thanks when you received what you want. Don’t wish harm to others or take away from others, it will come back to harm you (basically karma). Third, you basically mediate on your want list.

I understand the power of positive thinking. It’s like the story of the little train that could. You keep pushing yourself despite struggles and obstacles and you will achieve your goals. But there is not steps to achieving the goals in this book. It’s basically mediation. It’s like my dream of publishing a book. I know that I have a list of things I need to do before I publish. I can’t just put it on a list and mediate “I want to be published" and my book will magically appear on the bookshelves. This is basically Mr. Samuels' method. 

Another issue I have with this book is Mr. Samuels capitalizes universe where I won’t because he writes “When I capitalize the Universe, it is not because I believe this is God. I believe there is a God who is the creator of the Universe. I capitalize the Universe because I have tremendous respect for it and I believe it is different from God.” NO! God is the Creator of all. You can’t separate the Creator from the created. It would be like to separate the ingredients of a cake once it’s been baked. I have never been a fan of self-help gurus, like Tony Robbins (who seems to be the hero of Mr. Samuels), because it’s all feel good encouragement with no real call to action. While Mr. Samuels accepts to explain the call to action, I feel he fails to do so adequately. I cannot recommend this book. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Famous quotes that you may remember wrong

One late night of internet surfing, I was searching for new post ideas. I was looking for something new and fun to write about. I came across a website which debunked many historical myths or legends. Song lyrics are often misheard and misquoted for years that the wrong words are so ingrained in our memory that we can’t help but sing the wrong words. Movie lines are misquoted and become a part of the movie’s legacy when the words were never actually said as quoted. I started thinking about the famous quotes which people still believe and they were never said.

First, “Let them eat cake” was never said by Queen Marie Antoinette of France (1755-1795). This quote was claimed to have been said when she learned of the invasion of the Bastille Prison on July 14, 1789. It was actually written by Jean Jacques Rousseau in his autobiography “Confession” which was about his life up to 1765. The book was completed in 1769 and published in 1783. He was writing about an incident with “a great princess” when she was informed the peasants had no bread, she reportedly said, “Let them eat cake.” Many historians speculate that the princess Rousseau was referring to was Maria Theresa of Spain and that the French Revolutionaries falsely assumed it was Queen Marie Antoinette and used it to show the apathy of the monarchy and further support for the revolution. It worked because the queen and her husband, King Louis XVI, both lost their heads in 1793.

Second, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is paraphrased from the William Congreve 1697 play The Mourning Bride. The play is a tragedy about Zara, a queen held captive by Manuel, King of Granada and a web of love and deception that results in the mistaken assassination of Manuel and Zara’s suicide as a result. The actual quote is “Heaven had no rage like love to hatred turned/Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” The quote is about how love turned to hatred has greater power than the wrath of heaven and that even hell can’t compare to a woman who has been betrayed. Either way it is quoted, the line does not paint a pretty picture.

Third, “Theirs but to do or die!” is a misquote from “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The actual quote is “Their’s not to reason why,/Their’s but to do and die.” The poem is about the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War (1853-1856). The quote is about a soldier’s willingness to follow orders. They must not question why or how but to do and often die following their orders. Tennyson wrote this poem as a celebration of those soldiers who heroically gave their lives in the battle. In Saving Private Ryan, Corporal Upham paraphrases this quote when he says “ours is not to reason why, but ours is to do and die.” The misquote says “do or die” when the actual quote is “do and die.” The changing of the word from “and” to “or” changes the whole meaning of the phrase.

In conclusion, it is funny how one wrong quote can take a life of its own that some are unaware or don’t believe it when they are corrected with the actual quote. What quote can you think of that are often misquoted?