Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stilling Accepting Contributions!!

Just wanted everyone to know that I'm walking in the AIDS Walk, March 11, and if you want to walk with me, by all means come along. If you want to help Bering Omega and see 75% of your contribution go to the great work of that organization (including the AIDS hospice where I volunteer) with the other 25% going to an equally great group, the AIDS Foundation, you can make a donation on my personal page.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

T'ai Chi and Tea

Sunday I traded Jesus for Buddha.

A buddy asked if I wanted to go to a t'ai chi class with her. While I had been told earlier in the weekend that Sunday was the New Year, the two of us hadn't let it register that if we were going to a temple on that day, we might encounter a crowd.

We did. Early enough (we thought) for tea, we sat down in the Tea Room and placed our order. Mine was to be a pot of lemon, honey and pomegranete-infused liquid. The panini like veggie sandwich rounded out the $5 order. The volunteer staff seemed slightly out of sorts with the size of their crowd. Several times they stopped by our table to tell us it would only be a "few more minutes" and apologize. Twenty minutes later, the sandwiches arrived. Five minutes after that, the tea was served. We had missed (we thought) our class.

We settled into the peacefulness of the place, the energy generated by families walking the grounds and enjoying the Tea Room. Then a young man stepped up to our table and let us know that if we were the ones interested in the class, we could still attend.

Thirty minutes late we walked in on the stretching. Not yoga but still nice.

The instructor was a small man with a tendency to break into laughter if he felt you might not be understanding what he was saying. The class was made up of five individuals who were all over 60 (and possibly 65 years of age) . . . 4 Anglos and an African American. They seemed unfazed by our interruption. The instructor even came to us during the break and offered to give us a "make up" for the 30 minutes we missed. By the time, the end of the class arrived, though impressed with his generosity of spirit and time, I'd had about all the slow-paced instruction for the slow-paced movements that I felt necessary so I left my buddy to take it all in.

I have to admit the pace was comforting and once I gave into the idea that I wasn't going to make the 45 minute trip to my faith community, I relaxed and did my best to follow his lead.

But ultimately, it was the contradiction that led me to know I wouldn't be returning (at least to the class . . . because the tea was EXCELLENT).

The moves are based on slow versions of moves one might make in combat. I couldn't quite align the idea of a peaceful meditation with defensive and offensive gestures, no matter how beautiful.

In the end, I missed my friends and family back in Tomball and once again wished the drive weren't so long. So it's Jesus 1, Buddha 0 on this round.*

(and no, I'm not really keeping score!)

Monday, February 19, 2007

(London)-- The Truth Isn’t Sexy (TTIS) is raising awareness amongst younger people about the realities of sex trafficking. The cross-party parliamentary launch of the campaign will take place on 20 March, 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. The launch is being sponsored by Lord Roberts (Lib Dem) and Louise Ellman MP (Lab) and supported by the Centre for Social Justice, a Conservative think-tank. We have partnered with the NUS to reach young people across the UK. Shockingly, there are more people traded in forms of modern-day slavery than at the height of the slave-trade. Between 600,000 and 800,000 people worldwide are trafficked every year, many of those into the UK.

In contrast to other agencies whose work is directed towards the victims or the supply side of the industry, The Truth Isn’t Sexy is addressing the ‘demand’ part of the sex market. We are starting conversations in an atmosphere that is neither judgmental nor moralising, but highlights the harsh realities at work within the global sex trade.

TTIS challenges increasingly prevalent attitudes that both normalise ending up in a lap-dancing club, brothel or massage parlour and even attach a certain social cachet to these activities. We are asking those who use these services to think about the wider impact of their choices; to consider that women may have been forced, manipulated or coerced into such work. When this is the case 'The Truth Isn't Sexy'.

To that end TTIS is launching a beer mat campaign to coincide with the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Designed to catch the viewers attention by imitating telephone box calling cards; one side portrays an enticing image but the flipside shocks and highlights the brutal reality of the lives of trafficked women. In partnership with the NUS, the themed beer mats will be placed in Student Unions nationwide. This will build on the strong political, media and public interest generated by the bicentenary.

The Truth Isn't Sexy Campaign has been designed and developed by a group of young people who felt passionately about raising awareness for this issue. To date everyone has worked voluntarily and used their skills in organisation, design and networking to make this campaign happen. For more info refer to

TTIS is a great example of what can be done when a few people get together to try and change things. Alongside reaching young people through student unions and in London pubs and clubs we are working to get the funds needed to print and distribute the campaign in each major UK city, at the cost of £2500 per urban area.

The launch of TTIS also coincides with the release of the film “TRAFFIC” made by the same people who made “CRASH”, the 2005 smash hit, and we have been involved with this film’s editing process.

Contact The Truth Isn’t Sexy:
Campaign Director Aimie Littler (READERS NOTE: Aimie's a friend of mine!!!)
Tel +44 7970 854415

Could Mess with Your Trust Issues

An Argentine soccer fan has sued the man who tattooed an illustration of a penis onto his back instead of the logo of the fan's favorite team. Seems the tattooist was a keen supporter of a rival team. (The Week, 2/2/2007)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Found on a Friend's Fridge

i beg you . . . to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, to live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer . . .

rainer maria rilke

Misc. Friday

Started the day with my usual end of the week catch up on reading (and, now because of podcasts also listening). Here's a few things I found thought-provoking:

Blogs are searchable and viral. Podcasts are more intimate but not as viral. And video is even better. Since yesterday I saw that a Houston-based award-winning film a couple of years ago only cost $218 to make, I'm wondering when we're going to see the surge hit the church world. I know there are signs of it out there, but we still seem to be shopping in the cheese section with our media efforts.

One woman described herself as "a priest without walls serving a variety of communities." I like that.

Stephen Baker at BusinessWeek Online proposes that the Apostle Paul was a blogging pioneer.

And today's joke in the Chronicle amused me (in much the same way as Rodney's comment about Valentine's Day being Single Awareness Day and Juli's joke buried in comments regarding the lust in space astronaut): I'm reading a book on anti-gravity and I can't put it down.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fixed or Better?

Today I listened to a few men speak on how one might turn ordinary conversations into spiritual conversations. One man suggested the rather unique concept of listening. To preface his point, he said, "Women seem to already have a handle on the value of this . . . "

I try to stay away from generalizations about men and women and what one or the other group does or doesn't do. But I did have a follow up chat with a woman who heard the presentation and we made a distinction that I found interesting. (Again, this IS a generalization and I know it.)

Men seem to want to fix things. Women tend to speak more about "making things better." While a small distinction to be sure, the difference between whole and fixed and simply better is a pretty big deal, don't you think?

Bow Wow

He was angry . . . and therefore petty.

"I want the book I let you borrow back tonite."

Since he was dropping me off at my hotel at midnight and he was scheduled to be back to provide transportation to the airport in a matter of hours, I countered,"Can't you wait until tomorrow morning?"

"No, I want it now."

"Are you going to come up and get it?"

"No. Bring it to me."

And . . . God help me . . . I did.

On the walk back, I realized that the scene as it was transpiring had happened one way or another for far too many times in my life. My friends tried to point the behavior out as I moved in and out of relationships -- both friendships and more romantic encounters. But for the first time I saw it.

I didn't like what I saw. And I promised myself . . . never again.

This bitch is through with fetch.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

What do you think?

My buddy told me before Christmas that he had a client he wanted me to meet. Seems this guy had thrown out one of those "don't you know anyone you can introduce me to?" after having finally come to terms with the fact that he and his former girlfriend weren't going to make it.

So Wednesday we all went out to dinner -- my buddy, his friend Christian that I had met only minutes before, me and The Guy.

The restaurant was good and The Guy picked up the entire tab.

Ok, that's the best part. It definitely goes down hill from here.

Wait . . . Christian was good, too. When he met me he said I looked fabulous and at least pretended to be shocked when he heard my age! Plus he rolled his eyes at all the right times when The Guy was on what he thought was a roll. He wasn't.

The Guy wasn't bad looking. In fact, I'm sure people tell him he favors Michael Douglas -- thinner, smaller frame but the hair and the angles of the face are similar.

He wasn't exactly rude either. He just never looked at anyone else at the table except my buddy -- the one guy he knew. He told long stories with no real punch line and he told everyone of them to my buddy. I can't emphasize this enough. It was as if my buddy's face had a magnet attached and The Guy's eyes were locked in some sort of force field.

When he left for a rest room break, we pounced.

"He's nervous! Don't you think?"

"He's gotta be. He can't talk to anyone but me!"

"Has he looked at you once, Karen?"

"That time he asked me what I did, then answered for me and began a new story which he proceeded to tell to YOU."

"Well, at least we know he's rich."

Dear Christian had to throw that in . . . after we'd heard about an Armani suit, a cashmere coat, a Mercedes, a condo in Houston and a place in Denver -- all details in various long stories with seemingly no real plot twists.

Once the boys left me alone with him while they took a "smoke break." He found the tabletop fascinating, asked about where I fell in my family birth order, told me I must be spoiled as a result of my status and then launched into a story about how his brother was one of the spoiled ones. He then wondered when the boys might be returning from what he deemed was at least a two cigarette break.

At least twice he touched my arm ... as if he was trying to let me know that he did realize I was there, or else checking to make sure I was.

So I'm left with choosing between "he's just not into you" or "he's really, really, really out of practice" or "he's socially inept." Which would you go with?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Trading in an Overcoat for that Swimsuit I Bought

The temperature is going to be somewhere around 20 degrees. I have two sweaters and a short coat. I'm crossing my fingers that my boots will keep me warm. But I'm still smiling because I'm going to New Jersey. Yep, New Jersey! Forget the movies you've seen, the caricatures that you probably default to. The people I'm going to see are great. The trip to NYC is a short one. At some point this weekend I'm going to hear jazz. And along the way, I'm going to do what I can to help a group of people achieve what they want to achieve.

Life is good.


I spoke to an astronaut a few months back and asked how many other people in the world's history would be included in his ranks -- those who had found a home away from home for a brief time in space. He said about 500.

Imagine. You're one of 500 people in history and current times to do what you do. And one day you wake up and decide to throw it all away with a cross country drive that ends in disaster.

For love? Or was it more along the lines of the CNN headline -- Lust in Space?

Some NASA psychologist somewhere is hoping no one knows his/her name 'cause he/she's going to have some explaining to do.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Storytime or Maybe Not

I've often said, "It's all about the story." In the midst of a great adventure like hiking in Yosemite when you find your vehicle's tire is flat, that thought comes in handy and can put the experience in perspective. I've said similar things when I found myself walking alone in the rain on a dark street in Vietnam, arguing with personnel at a Thai airline counter that I could get into Turkey without a visa purchased in her fair city, discovering that it's less than ideal to take oversized luggage stuffed with missionary gifts through the Underground in London even if everyone is getting in a few hours of site seeing . . .

Recently though I've been playing with the lack of value in the "story." For every event there's what happened. Pure and simple. No added interpretation. No commentary. No assumptions applied. Just what happened.

And then there's the story -- the meaning and interpretation we give to what happened.

Apply this to relationships and some real healing can take place. My father didn't think less of me. He simply said, "If you can make As, do it." My friend didn't reject me. He stopped seeing me. The difference may be subtle but it's there.

And if you want a really good time take this thinking to the bible. Avoid interpretation and commentary and see what it leaves you. We did this as a staff this week and it was truly eye-opening.