This is the first time in my life that I've really stood outside of the church and found myself looking in. What I see is what appears to be a fairly exclusionary club where the members have their own coded language and peculiar way of doing things (yes, I said "peculiar" and not "particular"). It's certainly not inviting.

To be around church people one must be conversant in "Christianese." Christianese is a language, yes, but it's also a way of being. I wonder how many people would continue to speak Christianese if they realized how off-putting it is to non-believers and the unchurched or people like me who have stepped outside the church. Assuming, of course, that Christians don't wish to be exclusionary.

I ran into an old friend, a former friend, really. No, that's not right either, it was someone I knew in the context of church. She told me about a hard thing that was happening in her life and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I felt such compassion for her. When I told her how sorry I was, she said that she wasn't sorry, that she was unworthy of God's goodness and would willingly suffer whatever came her way, that she wouldn't stop praising the Lord! Her smile was so brittle I wouldn't have been surprised to see her face break into a million tiny pieces.

There was a pause. She said, "He bled for me, Katy. He bled for me." (a Christianese reference to Jesus on the cross)

My eyebrows went up.

I said, "Well, I can certainly see that you're doing your best to be strong." She responded, "It's God in me. Praise God that he's working in me. Everything is owed to Jesus. I'm just going to keep praising Him, Katy. Don't admire me, admire Jesus!"

I blinked.

I mean, I wasn't admiring her at all. I was simply stating what I perceived to be true that she was trying to be strong.

There was nothing in that exchange that felt authentic to me. Instead of seeing active faith, I saw desperate adherence to Christianese. It felt for all the world like she was striving to be admirable, like she was putting her faith on display for me. All I can say is that I perceived nothing of God in it. She struck me as being desperately and willfully lonely.

Before I could walk away she said, "Are you spending time in the word, Katy? How's your walk?" I felt my mouth gape open then shut again. How many times have I heard those words coming from Christian church leaders? How many times have I uttered them myself in my past church life? What do they even MEAN?! I was struck by how condescending those questions sounded, how insincere, how very distant and off-putting.

Not too long ago, I tried to explain my new faith to someone I once considered a dear friend. I barely got out two sentences before he leaped to his feet and left abruptly.

I watched him go and felt sad for a moment. He was someone whose kindness I'd once felt drawn to but it suddenly seemed terribly inauthentic, which is funny because authenticity is something I've heard him speak about numerous times. Well, I guess in a way he was being authentic. He was authenticity disinterested in knowing me outside of the church it seems.

I asked myself WWJD (for those of you who aren't conversant in Christianese, that's an acronym for "What would Jesus do?") and the answer that came to me was simply NOT THAT. He would not have jumped up and nearly upset the table with the quickness of his leaving. He would not have shut the metaphorical door, leaving a "members only" sign wagging on the doorknob in front of me.

More and more lately I am meeting people like me who have stepped away from the church, people who are deeply spiritual but don't feel comfortable in the church (again, for those not conversant in Christianese, "the church" is synonymous with Christians who define themselves as "God's people" and not a reference to a building). Instead, they feel like they want no part in an exclusionary club where everyone begins to look and speak the same. They want no part of the judgment. They don't want to be asked rote questions like, "Are you spending time in the word?" (Ah, "word" means "bible" and the bible is a book that is the literal, infallible word of God, in Christianese.)

I once wrote a blog called The Empty Church and that's really what I see when I close my eyes and envision the church. I envision a place full of lonely echoes, a people who have become inbred and weak.

I think it's time to lay down the Christianese, to shake it off and take a walk out in the wide world, learn to speak the language of the unchurched. Follow the advice of Saint Francis of Assisi who said, "Preach Christ at all times, if necessary use words." I'm absolutely certain that he was not admonishing us to speak in Christianese. He was admonishing us to love authentically.

©Just Kate, April 2010

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The Teeter Totter

I used to watch him with this Australian girl who was obviously head-over-heels for him. I didn't get it. They seemed totally mismatched. I didn't know either of them very well nor did I want to. They were people who shared my space and I noticed them but that's as far as it went.

We were living in an old, cold monastery in Canberra, Australia but we were both American. We had that in common, me and that guy. That and the fact that we were both in bible school. Anyway, someone had the bright idea of throwing us together on a music and drama team that would travel through the outback, performing for children.

I watched him then. He was quiet but funny. He could fix anything. He always told the truth no matter how uncomfortable it was for other people to hear. He always wore plaid shirts and a leather motorcycle jacket. He was tall and lean. We wore the same size jeans.

One day he was sitting with his back against the wall, playing his guitar and singing. I came into the room and heard the song, Wild Thing by The Troggs. It was forbidden music in bible school, the devil's stuff. I loved it. He looked up and I grinned at him. They would have labeled us rebellious by virtue of our U.S. citizenship, but we earned that label, too, I'll own that. Anyway, back to my story, before I could look away, he stopped singing and said, "Wild Thing, I think I love you."

And that was it. I was shot through by the truth of him. That's the best way I can describe it. He was so true, so honest. And I needed honesty more than anything. There it was, right in front of me, honesty clad in jeans, a plaid shirt, and leather jacket, honesty with a guitar in hand.

After that, we were friends. We would sneak out after midnight and run to the park where we would swing and talk under the Southern Cross. We would walk under Eucalyptus trees, listening to the nighttime quiet of the Cockatoos. On weekends, we rode bicycles to the fish and chips shack and ate our paper-parceled lunch, sitting in the grass.

I've said that our marriage was a happy accident, that I hadn't intended it. I don't know if that's true. I loved him. He wasn't at all what I expected. Nobody who knew us believed in us - separately, sure, but not together, no way no how.

Our school leaders wanted him to be with the Australian girl, the one who cooked for him and laughed at everything he said, the one who never challenged him.

Someone said we would be like two people on a teeter-totter. I'd be up in the air, swinging my legs, and he'd be solidly planted on the ground. They were right about that but wrong about what it would mean for us. I've always needed someone to keep me tethered to the earth. I've always needed someone to take hold of me and not let go. I needed him and I'm so glad he's been on the other side of that teeter-totter for 22 years now.

I don't know what happened to the Australian girl. No matter what they said, she wouldn't have been good for him. As much as I needed him to keep me grounded, he needed me to bounce the teeter-totter, to tease him with the sky.

I once said that I didn't have a love story. God, when I'm wrong I'm wrong. Our story is nothing but a love story after all.

I'm so glad we didn't listen to everyone who said we'd never make it. We barely knew each other when we were married, yet somehow we beat the odds together. It hasn't been easy. There were years when we were held together by nothing more than sheer tenacity and hope.

Our kids, like most kids, think of us as nothing more than mom and dad. It's as if we were born married. I doubt they've ever thought of us as individuals with stories of our own, and that makes me smile because I remember when we were brand new and there were no children; our story was still unwritten.

When I look at him, I still see that jean-clad boy on the other side of the teeter-totter and I know he still sees a blond girl backlit by the Australian sky.

©Just Kate, April 2010

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The Little Things

Looking back on my childhood I can't remember any details about our trips to Disneyland and other "big" events. I mostly remember them from pictures I've seen in old photo albums. What I do remember is riding my horse through the forest and fields, sitting in the hayloft reading with my kitty in my lap. I remember the time before my mom got really sick when she took me to a nearby river and we sat on the rocks and talked.

I remember laying in the grass under sprinklers at Grandma Grace's house, and speeding along dirt tracks on my motorcycle.

Today, as we were stacking heavy pallets, building fences, burning a massive burn pile, felling a 40 foot tree, cleaning out the barn, playing with our dogs and ponies, I realized I was as happy as I've ever been. The days that we spend outside working together are some of my best and most dear memories.

We ate lunch in the shade of the barn, on Adirondack chairs. Our youngest pony picked up a bottle of green tea and lifted it into the air like she was drinking and it was so cute. I wish I'd had my camera. The cats were twining between our legs while the dogs panted at our feet, and we talked and laughed and life was as good as it gets. :)

It's not the first time I've realized that life is made up of small moments, the day-to-day stuff that we all too often forget to savor in the moment. I remember when my grandpa died. He was 91 years old and his mind had gone back to the past, to camping trips when his children were little, then farther back to his boyhood, working in the forest with his father and brother. I loved hearing those stories. He smiled and laughed as his eyes were clouded by pain and the effects of morphine. He squeezed my hand in his, blue veined with skin paper-thin, and he called me by my mother's name and told me how proud he was of me - of her.

One day, when I look back on these days of my "prime," I know that I'll remember the small moments of our day-to-day lives and I don't want to let them pass without realizing in the moment how blessed I am.

I hope that you realize the beauty in your small moments, too, that you don't spend your days looking to the future - to this big trip or that big moment. I hope you value the here and now.

At this very moment, I'm cozy in our family room with my hubby and kids who are watching a movie that doesn't hold my interest but I love simply being with them, the sound of their laughter and exclamations as they follow the story. And I'm thankful that they're here with me. Life is good.

©Just Kate, April 2010

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What about you? I'd love to hear some of your favorite small moments, the things that make you happiest, small and big.

Get Over It!

People are always bickering about something: religion, politics, the correct way to discipline children, igo igo igo.* Why is that? I think it's because we take ourselves too damn seriously. Someone says something that doesn't sit right with us and we immediately take umbrage. We become like growling dogs with our hackles up.

Just this week I've witnessed good friends engaged in verbal brawls over the silliest things like "inappropriate" Obama jokes and whether or not Rush Limbaugh is an idiot. Why must we take our opinions so seriously? Why must everything be so sacred?

Personally, I have no desire to be "appropriate" and I'm really not that worried about what you think of me. Oh, I used to worry. In fact, I spent most of my life trying to do the right thing and not offend anybody. It was exhausting and it never really worked anyway. Someone is always bound to disagree about what's right and be offended about this or that thing.

I'm finally coming to a place where I can respond with a shrug when people get all riled up about things that make no sense to me. Here's a great example. You know those i-heart and i-hug applications on facebook? Well, I was sending them out to friends, male and female. My motives weren't that complicated. It simply seemed like a nice way to say "hi." But, you know what? Some people didn't like it.

Why? Because it's too flirtatious, a cause of jealousy, you see? I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that. They're just friendly facebook apps. But some people take EVERYTHING seriously. Ah, another i-heart from Katy? She obviously wants my man. She's hitting on him, the shameless hussy. Never mind that I was sending the same i-hearts to hubbies and wives. And, no, I wasn't hinting at a threesome. Get over it, people. Seriously.

I KNOW! Maybe we should legalize marijuana. More than that, we should make it mandatory. You know how the government is talking about regulating the amount of salt in packaged foods, because they're looking out for our physical well being? Well, maybe they should mandate that we all take a little toke and relax. Just imagine the health benefits, lowered blood pressure, less stress, a more harmonious environment.

Oh, don't get your panties in a twist, that's exactly what I'm talking about! If you're passionately against drug use, take a deep breath then do it again. Have a sense of humor. Don't take yourself and your opinions and views so damn seriously. PLEASE. I'm not *really* advocating for mandatory pot smoking, anyway.

And do I REALLY have to re-post a message about Jesus (I'm back to facebook here) to prove whether or not I believe in him or love him. REALLY? I mean, if that's what you think and you feel compelled to re-post, go for it, but don't ask me to do it. I'm perfectly happy to see you do your thing, now give me the space to do mine please. It's really easy.

Of course, I'm a pot calling the kettle black. I'm a hypocrite. When people stereotype the mentally ill and folks who are developmentally disabled, my hackles rise a bit. Then, I remind myself to let it go. I can seek to educate but there's no need to get pissed.

So, that's it. I think we all need to chill a bit.

©Just Kate, April 2010

*("igo igo igo" is Tok Pisin (the language of Papua New Guinea) for "etc.")

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Everybody Hurts

My mom’s body was bent, curled, and utterly ruined when she died. She had been sick for a very long time. Still, when she died it hurt so much I thought I might break from the pain of it.

People tried to tell me that my grief and sadness were unwarranted, that I should have been rejoicing because her suffering had ended. Well-meaning people reminded me that young people die in perfect health, in accidents. They compared the loss of my mom to those losses, as if her leaving mattered less.

Here's what I think: our losses are deeply personal. We should not compare our grief to that of another. We should not compare our hardships. Did the pain of others diminish the loss of my mother? Should I have grieved less because she suffered from a horrible disease that eventually consumed her? Of course not. We cannot quantify grief. It is what it is.

I cried when my beloved German shepherd, Kina, died. I still tear up when I think of her. She was loyal, equally capable of puppy wiggles and guard dog possessiveness. I grieved the loss of her. Is the loss of a beloved pet a big thing in the face of starving children? No, but I felt it nonetheless.

I'm grateful that my tears aren't reserved for big things. I'm grateful for the tears that fall over what some would quantify as little things. I am grateful for the passion that I feel about life. I don't regret it. Life is too short to live it with our hearts always in check.

There will always be people who are better off and worse. Always there will be catastrophic losses, small grief's, huge joys, and simple blessings. One loss does not magnify or diminish another.

Every living thing dies. Does that mean that we should not mourn? Of course not. We feel it. We keep it in perspective. We remember that loss has come and will come again.

Pain reminds us to appreciate joy when it comes. Death reminds us to love the living harder, fiercer, and better.

We spend too much time apologizing for our pain. We spend too much time trying to compose ourselves. Life is short. I want to feel it, every moment of it. I don't want to get lost inside of pain, but I want to walk through it when it comes. I don't want to duck under it or dart past it.

When you're in pain, I promise that I will not say chin up or it's for the best or life goes on or God's still in heaven. I'll simply let you know that I feel for you and with you. If you need a hug, I'll give it.

©Just Kate, Rewritten April 15, 2010.
(Originally published in 2008 as "Everybody Dies")

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Kumbaya and Coca Cola

I was born to go barefoot, wear old jeans, and beaded earrings. I love Kumbaya. I'd really like, in all sincerity, to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I'd like to hold it in my arms and keep it company. ♫♪ Coca Cola! ♫♪


Damn insidious consumerism. I'm trying to get my hippie on and suddenly there it is, the urge to pop a coke top and take a nice refreshing sip.

Give me a moment to shake that off.

Back on topic: I realize that it's terribly uncool to love those things in this era of high heels, skinny jeans, and bling. I don't like hip-hop or techno-pop. I try to be cynical and angry but I can't control my smile.

Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to ride shimmering, white unicorns over perfect, pastel rainbows, not at all. It's just that I love the earth. I love people. I like to sit down criss-cross applesauce and dream in the sun.

I even believe in free love. No, I'm not talking about the kind that takes place with strangers in never-been-washed sleeping bags while tripping on ACID or smoking pot. I'm talking about the kind of love that reaches across the things that divide us, like religion and politics, that cost nothing to give, that simply IS regardless of whether or not we agree.

And I wish my favorite sappy songs hadn't been turned into commercials.

It's okay for me to be uncool. I'm middle aged and couldn't be cool if I tried. My use of the word "cool" is most definitely uncool. I realize that.

I have a friend who's 80-something-years-old and he wears jeans and skate shoes and greets people with a grin and "hey man." He's not cool either but he's somehow perfect.

I was born in the wrong era or maybe I'm meant to be that distant echo of the past in this present one.

I not really sure if I'm cut out to be a journalist, which is occasionally my job. I don't want to create controversy or fan flames or scintillate or titillate. I like to help people tell their stories. I like to debate and provoke thought. I love to immerse myself in different points of view, to try to stand in other people's shoes.

I have no desire to convert anyone to anything. I'm definitely not cut out to be a salesman.

I'm a square peg in round-hole world, but, finally, at long last, I'm okay with that. For the longest time ever I thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn't getting with the program. I can't tell you how many times I've been labeled "rebellious." But, am I really rebellious? If it's rebellious to question and examine then I'll happily own that label. I don't want to baa my through the years, believing whatever I'm told "just because."

For the record, I'm not someone who flies in the face of convention simply for the joy of it. I'm simply full of wonder at this world I live in. I want to understand it and the people who inhabit it with me.

So there you go. Now you know the truth of me. I'm a closet hippie who wants to teach the world to sing, Kumbaya!

©Just Kate, April 2010

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Pictures of you, Pictures of me

I recently came across a manila envelope full of old photographs that a family member sent me shortly after my father died. At the time, I took a cursory look and closed the envelope to examine later when it hurt less.

I'm not sure how to explain my grief at the loss of my father when our relationship was so conflicted. All I know for sure is that he was the center of my life for as long as I'd been alive and then suddenly he was gone and I came undone.

Until the day he died, my life was focused on trying to win his approval, be a good daughter. I worked in his insurance agency for a long time. My husband and I managed my parent's property for them, doing home repairs, keeping up their five acres. When he had a minor heart attack, mom moved in with us and we fed her, changed her, and kept her for quite some time. It was something we did frequently anyway (My mom had multiple sclerosis and was completely dependent). He would show up at 5:00am, wheel mom into the house and bellow, "Are you STILL sleeping, kid?" in a tone of disapproval and incredulity, and then he'd be off again, without explanation, and mom was ours until he came back again, sometimes hours later and other times not for days.

My husband and I were happy to help because we loved and respected my dad. But he was so cuttingly critical, so impossible to please, that I found myself finally pulling away. I remember the day we told him we were moving to Papua New Guinea and he said, "You'll never do it. You're too weak." I was struck to the core by the obvious fact that my father couldn't or wouldn't see the truth of me, that I was anything but weak.

We went and it floored him. I saw it on his face when we said goodbye at the airport. My mom was crying and I hugged her hard, thinking it was quite possible we would lose her while we were gone. It never occurred to me that we might lose my father, but it wasn't mom who died while we were gone, it was him.

Anyway, I recently found those photos and I opened them again. There were pictures of me when I was very little, pictures of me with my dad. In one, I was standing on his hands and he was lying on the floor, bench-pressing me. In another, he was carrying me across a creek, walking on a fallen log. I was in a yellow sundress. He looked rugged, young, and strong. There were pictures of me and dad side-by-side in the sand, on a boat, on a motorcycle. I didn't remember any of that.

I now know there was a time when he loved me. The pictures tell that story. I think that maybe he always did. Something happened when mom got sick. He turned against me, could not tolerate me. There's really no point in my guessing why.

Recently, my oldest daughter was talking about childhood memories, and I was struck by her perception of things. My first reaction was one of hurt. She's hard on me. Then I remembered something I said to my dad shortly before we left for PNG. He snapped, "Why do you always act like you're being attacked?" I answered honestly, "Because I've learned to expect it, Dad. You attack me so frequently, without provocation, that I brace myself for it." I remember seeing a flash of recognition in his eyes. He dropped it immediately because it was true and any conversation would require that he own it, which was something he either could not or would not do.

So, when my daughter looked at me with accusation in her eyes, I let it pierce right through me, allowed myself to feel the painful truth that I was often unfair to her. There were times when I showed shades of my father in parenting her. I was demanding, critical, and unfair. It sucks. I'd like to say that she's wrong. To paint her in shades of disturbed, as my dad did to me, like my brother still does. But I can't do it. I own what I own and the truth is that I was not fair to her. We adopted her when she was four and she came with a plethora of behavior problems, disorders, blah blah blah... But the fact that she was an extraordinarily difficult child does not excuse my unfairness to her.

And yet I loved her. I love her still. We are complex creatures and all too often don't understand ourselves.

She may never forgive me for my shortcomings and failings as a parent, but I know that she loves me. Perhaps it's because she also remembers the good times, how desperately hard I fought to get her the help she needed, how tirelessly I advocated for her. I won't dismiss the wrong I did by saying something stupid like I'm only human or nobody's perfect. That's so weak. We should take responsibility for our actions. My dad taught me that when he utterly failed to take responsibility for his. Had he acknowledged what he'd done, apologized. It would have meant a lot. So, I struggle to do better than that. I am my father's daughter, yes, but I am more than that.

What's the point of all this? I suppose my point is that we hurt the people we love. We all do. And while it IS a part of being human, we should not shrug it off. I believe in kindness, I do. I believe in forgiveness too.

Some day I will die and my children will have their pictures and memories of me. I don't expect them to put me on a pedestal. I don't belong there. I just hope that they'll be able to look back and see that I loved them, that they were everything to me. I hope they remember the good and the bad and the times I said, I was sorry. I hope they take the best of me, learn from the worst of me, and that they don't waste one moment of their lives worrying that my parental failings were somehow their fault, because they were not, no more so than my father's failings were my responsibility. In the end, we do the best that we can and hopefully move forward and continue to love however imperfectly.

©Just Kate, April 2010

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His Eye is on the Sparrow

I woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside my window, so I stretched and smiled and went to open the blinds, thinking the forecasters had been wrong. By some miracle, instead of rain, wind, and incessant gray, I would find sunshine on the other side of the window pane. No such luck.

Instead, I found a crow hanging nearly upside down from the roof of the sparrow family's bird house on my porch, while mom and dad sparrow hopped from branch to branch in the nearby tree, angrily, frantically calling for the crow to leave their unhatched eggs alone, alone!

Out in the pouring rain, those tiny little sparrows sat, while the crow, safe under our porch roof, took it's time, peeking it's head into the too small hole, reaching, reaching, for precious, tiny eggs. I watched as one of the sparrows took flight and bombed the crow, who lost his footing and squawked angrily. I watched those little birds fight with all their might and I willed them to win.

Rationality told me that interference didn't make sense. Wild things live and die according to chance and the laws of nature, just as we do, albeit we pretend control. But, really, could I save the sparrow eggs? Maybe not forever. Maybe they'd never hatch, but damn it, I could give them a chance. I ran outside, barefoot, and clapped my hands, "get out of here!" The crow looked at me with disdain, not leaving his perch, but only tilting his head at me.

I clapped my hands and went right up to him, "Shoo! Get out of here." He finally gave up his perch. Before I could step back, mom and dad sparrow were swooping at my head with far more courage than they showed to their foe, the crow. I ducked and ran back inside the house, getting soaking wet in the process of zig-zagging away from the sparrows.

Some people see sparrows as pests. I don't. They mate for life. Did you know that? And their social behavior is very like that of humans. I feel an affinity for them. They're so tiny in this great big world, so fiercely protective of their children.

The first time I rescued a sparrow, I was a little girl staying with my Grandma Grace. We found the mother dead and the nest on the ground, with one baby bird still alive in it. We put it in a box in the garage and created a nest. Grandma gave me a hot water bottle to put under the tiny bird. We fed it with everything from mashed bugs to bits of bread. We didn't know what to feed a sparrow. Grandma let me sleep by it.

It was dead in the morning. We put it in a box lined with fabric from a dress grandma was sewing, and we buried it. My tough, no-nonsense grandma didn't chastise me for caring so much about a baby bird. I could tell she understood.

Part of me wasn't just fighting for that baby bird, I was fighting for me. For every hurt thing that didn't really have a chance.

It was the same today, when I ran out to chase the damn crow away. He has his eye on that nest of sparrows and he won't give it up. Crows are smart and determined and love a challenge. He'll likely get an egg or two but I've watched every year as nest after nest of fledglings take flight from that particular bird house. I've also scooped up more than a few and set them safely atop a branch before a predator could grab them.

Some never make it. Every year, when I clean out the bird house, I find a smashed egg or two, tiny little partly formed baby sparrows, fetal-like hatchlings with nearly translucent skin showing between bits of downy fluff. I cry over all of them. I'm in good company. In the bible, Matthew tells us that even God watches over the sparrows.

I sat for awhile and watched the birdhouse after I came in. I towel-dried my hair and shivered, wrapped myself in a blanket, and sat watching the rain and the little birds. A pair of Mallards landed in our little pond. I've never seen a Mallard smile but this pair seemed happy. Then, I realized that in spite of the pouring rain and the gray sky, birds were singing everywhere. They feel Spring in the air. They're joyful in the midst of the rain and cold. Even the sparrow parents seemed content again.

And so it goes.

©Just Kate, April 2010

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.


    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin