My friends, this past weekend, I had the most amazing experience! I attended the O You! Oprah Magazine Live Your Best Life Event in San Francisco. It was INCREDIBLE! And the best surprise was that Oprah made a surprise appearance! I learned so much from so many people that I admire...I was in heaven! And because it was so amazing, I thought I would share some what I learned here with you. Also, hopefully that will help me remember some of what I saw!
Suze Orman was filled with emotion, you can imagine. She reminded us that, "Nobody's going to care about your money more than you do. If you aren't powerful with your money then you are not powerful. There is nobody to save us in these economic times except ourselves." She is predicting that our current economic woes will last until theyear 2015. So PAY DOWN YOUR DEBT, PAY YOUR BILLS ON TIME, and NEVER borrow from your 401K plan to pay your bills now. If you are under the age of 50 this stock market crisis is the most amazing thing that could happen to us! Invest in the market because our money will be going further. However, if you're 10 years out until retirement, take all your money out of the stock market. The other plan that Suze really wants us all to know about is about a deal called "Save Yourself Plan" with Ameritrade. If you go online and open an account with Ameritrade and save at least $50 per month for 12 months, in the 13th month Ameritrade will deposit $100 to your account. It's a return rate you can't afford to miss out on. You can find more information about this great deal at: http://www.saveyourself.com/
Peter Walsh is the amazing guy who goes into homes that have so much stuff there is no place to sit down and helps the families who live in those environments to clean the clutter in their hearts and homes. He is hands down a miracle worker. His key was this: What is the vision you have for the life you want? What do you want FROM the space you are working on? This is especially a helpful way to talk about areas that you may share with other household members. He asked this profound question: If you don't create the life you want, who is going to do it? Whenever you want to buy something, ask yourself this, "Does this item move me closer to the Best Life I want for myself?" he suggests that we all take the time to examine what we ahve and make sure all we have are the things that make our heart sing. I don't know how many of you have been to my house, but let me tell you this: It's approximately 900 square feet. There are 3 of us plus a gigantic black lab. My house is tight on space. But you know what he told me when I wanted to complain that there just wasn't enough space for everything? He said, "You only have the space you have. As tough as it sounds, if you're struggling with clutter you either have to move to a larger home or learn to make choices and live within the limits of your space." His other tips were these: * Understand taht it's not always about 'The Stuff'. Don't be too hard on yourself. Recognize that the clutter is often a reflection of something deeper that might be troubling you. Dealing with the clutter can open up not only the physical space in your life, but also your emotional, psychological and spiritual spaces as well! You don't just declutter your home. You declutter your head, your heart and sometimes even your hips. *All clutter is not created equal. There are 2 main types of clutter- memory clutter (the stuff that reminds you of some important event, person or achievement from the past) and the "I might need it one day" clutter (T he stuff we hold onto iin the hope of using it sometime. Like my fondue pots. Or my silver chafing dish...). He reminded us that when ALL the stuff is important, none of it is. Honor and respect your strongest memories. His helpful hints: Stop Buying. Be gentle on yourself. Never let junk mail enter your house. You may have 3 magazine subscriptions and 3 back issues of each of them. Only 9 magazines in the house at a time. Mail needs to have a home. Receipts should be dropped into an expandable file and then switched out annually. If you don't know what to save for tax purposes, go to IRS.gov and look at document 552. It'll tell you what you need.
I could tell you more about the wonderful things I learned from Marianne Williamson, the inspiring Story Corps speaker, and all the great sponsers, but remember when I promised that I wasn't going to get too wordy? (I know, I know, It's too late!) My next post however will be all about the amazing Stacy London from _What Not To Wear_ on TLC. She was THE BEST! My only sad moment was not getting to meet Martha Beck. I have admired her for so long and have read most of her books and I only got a picture of her. Actually, and not getting to be with Nate Berkus. But I'll enclose some more pictures of them just for you now. Enjoy and Go Live Your Best Life!
A dear friend called me the other day to ask if I was OK. I am. Apparently she had been reading my blog and was concerned about my ranting and raving. A dear relative emailed me and told me very kindly that my blog was a little too wordy to read. So here is something much lighter for now. As I was driving in Pebble Beach the other day to pick up Taylor from her soccer game, I was stunned by the beauty of the coastline. I pulled over and took these pictures for my blog with a special shoutout to Heidi. Welcome to California, Heidi and Family! May you be blessed with many beautiful hours of coastline splendor. For those of you who aren't so close to the ocean, this is for you too. I am so grateful that I live in such a beautiful place. I realize there are different beautiful nature-scapes, but this one made my heart sing. And that's what I'm all about these days. So, I hope these pictures make your heart sing too!
It seems that this proposition is generating a lot of chatter out in the world. I'm impressed by the rational and thoughtful arguments that have been made for both sides of the argument. Members of my family have been respectfullly debating this Proposition for the past week or so and I have been delighted to hear several viewpoints, thoughts and insights that they have shared. As such, I would like to submit a little history lesson (which I took from several internet sources, including wikipedia) coupled (no pun intended. I promise.) with my thoughts about this topic. I do not write this with the intent to offend or instigate. I write this with the intent of providing a historical context and my thoughts on the issue. On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court, by a vote of 4–3, ruled that the statute enacted by Proposition 22 and other statutes that limit marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. It also held that individuals of the same sex have the right to marry under the California Constitution. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of California opposes Proposition 8 because "no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination."
Let’s examine some of the statements that have been made regarding Proposition 8 and the Facts associated with them: Fiction: Prop 8 doesn’t discriminate against gays. Fact: Prop 8 is simple: it eliminates the rights for same-sex couples to marry. Prop 8 would deny equal protections and write discrimination against one group of people—lesbian and gay people—into our state constitution. Fiction: Teaching children about same-sex marriage will happen here unless we pass Prop 8. Fact: Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education, and no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it. California gives parents an absolute right to remove their kids and opt-out of teaching on health and family instruction they don’t agree with. Fiction: Churches could lose their tax-exemption status. Fact: Nothing in Prop 8 would force churches to do anything. In fact, the court decision regarding marriage specifically says “no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.” Fiction: Four Activist Judges in San Francisco… Fact: Prop 8 is not about courts and judges, it’s about eliminating a fundamental right. Judges didn’t grant the right, the constitution guarantees the right. This campaign is about whether Californians, right now, in 2008 are willing to amend the constitution for the sole purpose of eliminating a fundamental right for one group of citizens. Fiction: People can be sued over personal beliefs. Fact: California’s laws already prohibit discrimination against anyone based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This has nothing to do with marriage. Fiction: Unless Prop 8 passes, CA parents won’t have the right to object to what their children are taught in school. Fact: California law clearly gives parents and guardians broad authority to remove their children from any health instruction if it conflicts with their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
The nations of Israel, Aruba, and the Netherlands Antilles, as well as the U.S. States of New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island, recognize same-sex marriages lawfully entered into in other countries, while not (yet) permitting them to be performed locally. The Supreme Court of Connecticut has also ruled that restriction of marriage to heterosexuals is illegal under the state constitution, and gay marriages will begin in Connecticut at a date to be determined. From 1850 to 1977, California's marriage statutes used gender-neutral language, without reference to "man" or "woman," in providing that marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract to which the consent of the parties capable of making the contract is necessary. In 1948, the California Supreme Court became the first state court in the country to strike down a law prohibiting interracial marriage. It was the only state supreme court to do so before the United States Supreme Court invalidated all those laws in 1967. The California Supreme Court held that "marriage is ... something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the state; it is a fundamental right of free men ... Legislation infringing such rights must be based upon more than prejudice and must be free from oppressive discrimination to comply with the constitutional requirements of due process and equal protection of the laws" (Perez v. Sharp (1948) 32 Cal.2d 711, 714-715). The California Supreme Court explained that "the right to marry is the right to join in marriage with the person of one's choice".
Here is an interesting press release from tonight: LDS Lawyer's Commentary Mischaracterized in 'No on 8' Press Release Last update: 7:02 p.m. EDT Oct. 21, 2008
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif., Oct 21, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- "A press release dated October 19 from a public relations firm representing 'No on 8' is inaccurate and misleading," says Morris A. Thurston, an LDS lawyer who was erroneously cited as having "debunked" new California Prop 8 ads. “…Prop 8 will not require teachers to promote gay marriage or to make any value judgment regarding the morality of same-sex marriage compared to traditional marriage…More than a month ago, Thurston wrote a commentary on a document titled "Six Consequences ... if Prop 8 Fails." That document, unsigned and anonymous, had not been approved by the LDS Church, although it was being circulated by some local church members. "It contained certain misstatements about the consequences of Prop 8's failure," Thurston said, "so I wrote my commentary to correct these errors…The primary reason I wrote my commentary was to help keep the campaign honest. I am an active member of the LDS Church and a strong supporter of equal rights for gays and lesbians.”
Looking back through time, we find several types of marriages that were once considered acceptable and have since been found to be oppressive or undesirable, such as child brides or arranged marriages. Some cultures still believe in these practices, but our current culture eschews them. In some countries today, marriages are separate between church and state and couples are required to have 2 separate ceremonies. In the Roman Empire they had 2 types of marriage: one where the woman lost her rights of inheritance and one called a free marriage, where she did not. Interestingly, this is the same culture where the first recorded use of same sex marriages. Throughout the middle ages women had an age requirement to marry. In the 1200s it was 24 years of age, in the 1500s it was 20. It wasn’t until 1545 when marriage was officially defined as a union between a man and a woman. This was done by Roman Catholics as an Anti-Reformation act, because until then, most marriages were not consecrated or recorded by church officials. After that, Catholics had their marriages performed in ceremonies by priests, and Protestants registered their marriages with the state instead of the church. In England they had several “Fleet Marriages” or clandestine marriages where the 2 parties simply had to express to each other their consent to marry and they were considered married. They might do this because they had no parental consent or they were already married to someone else. After the Marriage Act of 1753 passed, you had to “publish” your intent to marry or obtain a license. However, in the Americas, Fleet Marriages continued. The Marriage Act of 1753 also did not apply to Britain's overseas colonies of the time, so common law marriages continued to be recognized in the future United States and Canada. In the United States, new common law marriages arising in the state are still recognized in Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and the District of Columbia, and in several Canadian provinces. Almost all U.S. states recognize common law marriages validly entered into at a time and place where common law marriage was recognized. While a number of U.S. states recognize either same sex marriage, or domestic partnerships with the same legal incidents as marriage, no U.S. state currently recognizes same sex common law marriages. It wasn’t until 1907 that the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act was repealed in Great Britain. Up until then, it was illegal to marry your dead wife’s sister. A marriage, by definition, bestows rights and obligations on the married parties, and sometimes on relatives as well, being the sole mechanism for the creation of affinal ties (in-laws). These may include: giving a spouse or his/her family control over a spouse’s labor & property. giving a spouse responsibility for a spouse’s debts. giving a spouse visitation rights when his/her spouse is incarcerated or hospitalized. giving a spouse control over his/her spouse’s affairs when the spouse is incapacitated. establishing the second legal guardian of a parent’s child. establishing a joint fund of property for the benefit of children. establishing a relationship between the families of the spouses. Marriage is not a prerequisite for cohabitation. In some cases couples living together do not wish to be recognized as married, such as when pension or alimony rights are adversely affected, or because of taxation consideration, or because of immigration issues, and for many other reasons. In some cases cohabitation may constitute a common-law marriage, and in some countries the laws recognize cohabitation in preference to the formality of marriage for taxation and social security benefits. Cohabitation alone does not create a common-law marriage; the couple must hold themselves out to the world as husband and wife; and There must be mutual consent of the parties to the relationship constituting a marriage Both parties must be of legal age to enter into a marriage or have parental consent to marry In some jurisdictions, a couple must have cohabited and held themselves out to the world as husband and wife for a minimum length of time for the marriage to be recognized as valid. Again, while a number of U.S. states recognize either same sex marriage, or domestic partnerships with the same legal incidents as marriage, no U.S. state currently recognizes same sex common law marriages. There are other parts of marriage that certain cultures place a different emphasis on that we do not. Some of these include: In some cultures, marriage imposes an obligation on women to bear children. In northern Ghana, for example, payment of bridewealth signifies a woman's requirement to bear children, and women using birth control face substantial threats of physical abuse and reprisals. People's Republic of China shifted from allowing polygamy to supporting only monogamy in the Marriage Act of 1953 after the Communist revolution. Many societies have also adopted other restrictions on whom one can marry, such as prohibitions of marrying persons with the same surname, or persons with the same sacred animal. Anthropologists refer to these sorts of restrictions as exogamy. One example is South Korea's general taboo against a man marrying a woman with the same family name. The financial aspects of marriage vary between cultures and have changed over time: Dowry In many cultures the family of the bride was historically expected to provide a dowry to the husband. A dowry was not an unconditional gift, but was usually a part of a wider marriage settlement. For example, if the groom had other children, they could not inherit the dowry, which had to go to the bride's children. In the event of her childlessness, the dowry had to be returned to her family, but sometimes not until the groom's death or remarriage. Often the bride was entitled to inherit at least as much as her dowry from her husband's estate. In some cultures, dowries continue to be required today, while some countries impose restrictions on the payment of dowry. Bride price and dower (All I can think of here is the movie, Johnny Lingo) In other cultures, the groom or his family were expected to pay a bride price to the bride's family for the right to marry the daughter, or dower, which was payable to the bride. If the groom or his family did not have the bride price to offer to the bride's family, sometimes a bride service may be accepted in its place. This required the groom to work for the bride's family for a set period of time. Morning gifts, which might also be arranged by the bride's father rather than the bride, are given to the bride herself; the name derives from the Germanic tribal custom of giving them the morning after the wedding night. She might have control of this morning gift during the lifetime of her husband, but is entitled to it when widowed. If the amount of her inheritance is settled by law rather than agreement, it may be called dower. Depending on legal systems and the exact arrangement, she may not be entitled to dispose of it after her death, and may lose the property if she remarries. Morning gifts were preserved for many centuries in morganatic marriage, a union where the wife's inferior social status was held to prohibit her children from inheriting a noble's titles or estates. In this case, the morning gift would support the wife and children.
Societies have also at times required marriage from within a certain group. Anthropologists refer to these restrictions as endogamy. An example of such restrictions would be a requirement to marry someone from the same tribe. Racist laws adopted by some societies in the past—such as Nazi-era Germany, apartheid-era South Africa and most of the United States in the nineteenth and the first half of the 20th century—which prohibited marriage between persons of different races could also be considered examples of endogamy. In the U.S., many laws banning interracial marriage, which were state laws, were gradually repealed between 1948 and 1967. The U.S. Supreme Court declared all such laws unconstitutional in the case of Loving v. Virginia in 1967.
In spite of this, several religions continued to condemn, or refuse to perform interracial marriages for many more years.
Remarkably, Proposition 8 will amend the State Constitution by a simple majority vote. But before you go all "will of the people" on me, please reflect that by a simple majority vote, African Americans would have remained "separate but equal" in the Jim Crow South. The point of the Constitution is to prevent abuse of the minority by the tyranny of the majority. That's why the courts exist.
After a LONG history and cultural lesson, for which I apologize, my point is this: There have been times when certain ideas of marriage have been appalling to people, but that have withstood time and have come to be considered acceptable. If I were in the pre-civil rights south, I would have wanted to be someone who would have stood up for interracial marriage rights. I would hope that I would have always stood for property rights equality. Indeed, history has repeated several scenarios that people have been persecuted for their beliefs and rights which have since been found to be considered humane and unalienable. I am reminded of the accounts I have read about women who wanted the right to vote. I am reminded of my forefather who practiced polygamy with the Mormon Church in the late 1800s and was denied the chance to attend his child’s funeral. I would hope that at any point in history, we would approach our fellow humans with respect and love and not purposely seek to take away their rights and liberties. People have a right to worship how they deem appropriate. I respectfully submit that people should have the right to marry the right person, in the right place at the right time as they deem right for themselves. And that might include marrying someone of the same gender.
Today is the last day to register to vote here in California.
Some of you may be wondering whether or not it matters if you vote. Some of you may wonder if you should read on if your political views may differ from mine. I hope by sharing this story, you will have an insight into my heart on voting.
When I was in my first quarter at the University of Utah, I was lucky enough to have taken a course entitled, _The Beauty of Freedom_ by JD Williams. JD WIlliams had a love affair with the US Constitution and The Bill of Rights. To say that he impacted my buddiing viewpoints is an understatement. He helped me to understand that to vote is a sacred covenant that you undertake as a member of this beautiful United States of America. He instilled such quotes as, "Your right to (fill in the blank) ends where my nose begins." Additionally, he had these great moments where he would invite members of the class to "Go for the Ruby Stickpin and quote a scene from _1776_ with him. As far as I know, to this day, only Camille ever raised her hand during that moment. As our beloved J.D. Williams so brilliantly said, “Democracy is built upon the right to be insecure.” We are vulnerable. And we are vulnerable together. Democracy is a beautiful experiment." Sadly, JD passed away last year, and I'm sure my heart is not the only one empty. It is because of JD that I have never missed a chance to vote since I became eligible. Thank you, JD. Thank you even when I had to walk uphill at night on crutches to vote for a small neighborhood ballot. Thank you for giving me the privilege of honoring the beauty of my freedom.
To quote one of my heros, Terry Tempest Williams, "This is the path of intellectual freedom and spiritual curiosity. Our insistence of democracy is based on our resistance of complacency. To be engaged. To participate. To create alternatives together. We may be wrong. We will make mistakes. But we can engage in spirited conversation and listen to one another with respect and open minds as we speak and explore our differences, cherishing the vitality of the struggle.
Democracy can also be messy and chaotic. In democracy, every vote counts and every vote is counted.
When minds close, democracy begins to close. Fear creeps in, silence overtakes speech. Rhetoric masquerades as thought. Dogma is dressed up like an idea. And we are told what to do, not asked what we think. Security is guaranteed. The lie begins to carry more power than the truth until the words of our own founding fathers are forgotten and the images of television replace history. An open democracy inspires wisdom and the dignity of choice. A closed society inspires terror and the tyranny of belief. We are no longer citizens. We are media-engineered clones wondering who we are and why we feel alone. Lethargy trumps participation. We fall prey to the cynicism of our own resignation.
When democracy disappears, we are asked to accept the way things are.
Question. Stand. Speak. Act.
Make us uncomfortable. Make us think. Make us feel.
Keep us free."
I encourage thoughtful, respectful political opinions. As far as I'm truly concerned, there is always room for an opinion. What is criminal in my view is when a citizen wastes their opportunity to participate in the Beauty of Freedom. I hope you're all registered.
Thoreau wrote in his essay, "Civil Disobedience,"Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence."
Included here are pictures I took today of the Democratic and Republican Headquarters here in Seaside, CA. Tonight, I honor my right to vote and encourage you to exercise yours.
ps: Ironically or not, one of JD Williams most visibile students was Karl Rove. And me, of course.
Towards the end of my vacation, in fact hours after I left Scottsdale, I came down with a serious case of food poisoning coupled with dehydration. Yikes. Because of this, I am behind on my posts, so just to share a little more of the Scottsdale experience, I am sharing a few more pictures with you all. This includes the pictures of the women we found who had all dressed alike for their tourism day. WARNING: If you are delicate in consititution, proceed with caution while perusing these pictures. However, I'm including a few of the cute girls we were with.
On Toni's last day of vacation, we stopped by Scottsdale, AZ to be official tourists. I learned a lot that day. I learned what you should NOT dress like. I witnessed some terrible tourist gifts. But one of the memorable moments was Toni discovering her favorite artist, Gary Ernest Smith ( http://www.overlandgallery.com/Artists/Smith.html) and having her picture taken with him, and him generously signing her book with original artwork. My friends, when you meet someone that you admire so greatly, you can only guess how thrilling that can be. I had never seen his work, yet I found his paintings to evoke a lot of emotion in me, mainly some homesickness for the pastoral scenes of Utah. Has anyone else met someone like this? I'd like to hear about your experiences.
While on vacation we went to Scottsdale, AZ. I had hoped to see one of my idols, Stephenie Meyer of _Twilight_ fame, but I didn't call ahead to let her know we were in town, so we missed her. We did however find many pictures of bad souvenirs.
Where do shops get the ideas to sell these ridiculous items? And what is it that makes people buy them? Once you've accidentally purchased one, why on earth would you give your friends one of these items, or, even worse, keep them as a memento of your journey? It pained me to see some of these. But of course, we did come away from AZ with our own momentos: Mexican Jumpiing Beans, A Scorpion Sucker, Scorpion Egg Bubblegum and a Pheonix T Shirt. Perhaps we had also strayed into unforgiveable souvenir territory. What can I say? When in Arizona, do as the Arizonans?
Friends can help you have such a nice day, experience life in such a nice way. Having friends helps you to remember to share your shoes, your make-up, and as this picture illustrates, friends share their inner tubes as well as their inner thoughts.
My friends, I learned something today. I learned that sometimes if you are still and quiet long enough, you can find valuable insight into your heart. As I was sitting next to the Lazy River today, watching the girls sail by on their rafts, sipping ice cold water and letting the vitamin D soak into my sun-starved soul, some answers for a question that has been plaguing me for over 10 years came to me. I was so shocked, that of course I instantly had to start talking and check my thoughts out with my friends. Maybe if I had been still just a few more minutes I could have solved more of my life's mysteries.
Also, I finished my book _The Queen's Fool_ by Phillipa Gregory today. I liked it more than I suggested earlier. It brough one or two tears to my eyes by the end. But I was glad to be done with that book. In other book news, Toni can't seem to settle on a book right now. She finished _Just Read_ bu Susan Briggs. Based on the fact that it was a 2 out of 5, I won't pick it up. But she read it in a day, and I should know since she sat next to me the entire time she read. But she couldn't let herself get into _Edgar Sawtelle_ and today she started _Carpool Confidential_ by Jessica Benson. She was about 13 pages into it and asked me if I knew where the book exchange was. Instead of starting a new book, I read the latest People magazine. I'm worried I'm surrounded by medicocre book karma right now. Does anyone else ever feel that way?
After some fun reading and a prickly pear margarita, the moms all took a few laps in the lazy river. We laughed so hard that I thought I might roll out of my tube. I love spending time with my dear friends, laughing so hard. I am so glad that I'm where I am right now.
Today was a wonderful chance to just relax and enjoy life. We started early by going to the Last Chance Nordstrom store in Phoenix, AZ. We got some GREAT deals and had a great morning shopping.
Later, Toni and I sat by the pool and watched the girls swim and play in the water. Apparently we had some winds this afternoon that may or may not have been associated with a recent hurricane in Cabo San Lucas. You know that didn't stop us from ordering some fun drinks from the cabana.
I'm reading _The Queen's Fool_ by Phillipa Gregory during this vacation. I read her latest book last week and I read it in about a day. This book is taking me many days to read. I like it, but it's just not a compelling page turner. Or maybe it's just that I'm reading it next to the balmy breezes through the palm trees and I just can't quite relax and stay focused on the story. I'm trying though.
I'm trying to add some pictures of the girls at the poolside and one of cute Jared and cute Toni celebrating Toni's 16th Wedding Anniversary. My sweet brother, Caleb surprised her with a cake and when Jared saw it he said, "It's my birthday!!!!" He struck that cute pose and kept saying "Cheese" over and over because the camera didn't flash. So Happy Anniversary, Toni and Happy Belated Birthday, sweet Jared. And if you look closely you'll see darling Ethan sitting behind them eating some delicious freezer pizza that Auntie Esther specializes in.
I'm trying to figure out how to publish some pictures from our vacation, so hopefully they'll show up here. Thanks again to my dear Beckie for helping me start this blogging adventure!