Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

The Artistic Diva: It may just be necessary

My children have accused of me of “diva moments.” It is not at all an unfair accusation, though I take seriously my role to minimize it.

Note, I say minimize, not eliminate. Well, I note it anyway. Because until I now I’ve always felt a twinge of guilt associated with these moments when my concentration is so narrowed and my lens so telescopic that anything outside the frame is as unwelcome as Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Vacation movies.

I was trying to explain this to my kids’ significant others the other day and the more I tried, the more I infused it with humor to mask my baseline discomfort at the idea that I was giving myself permission — at times — to be an asshole. This is fundamentally at odds with who I attempt to be as a person who values and celebrates others. The incongruence of these two opposing values stung at me for a long time after like the road rash The Bride picked up on Mother’s Day showing off on a skateboard she had no idea how to ride.

I still picked at the scab the next day. My future daughter-in-law’s question buzzed at my ears like Tinnitus. “Well, if you know you are that way, why do it?”

Sigh. It’s hard to explain I wanted to say.

Finally, I landed on something this morning that put my mind at ease just a bit. The world is noisy. It’s fleeting and skittish as if the whole of humanity share the same ADD disorder. Twitter is a billion-dollar example of capitalizing on this collective impatience and — dare I say it? —  self-centeredness.

To have any degree of accomplishment (that’s not the word I want… I think “mastery” is better, but I’m still not sure) in an art, be it words, song, dramatic interpretation, painting, even chisel to stone, it takes both a focus that is at odds with the world and an “otherness” that wants to create something of value for all.

I lack mastery in all but a very few, a select few, fields of artistic expression. But in those that really matter, and even to some extent the pursuit of learning those that far elude mastery, I can’t do what I do with the clatter of this world fighting for my attention. The closer I get to the putting three or five or seven words in the exact order to say the exact thing I want, the less patient I become, the more heightened my irritation is, as if I unconsciously call the battalions to high alert to the ramparts of my mind in defense of this moment in time and space when something outside of me, better than me, and yet a small slice of the fulfillment of me, happens. Why do it? she asks? Because I’m not sure It’s not necessary.

I realized later had I been less concerned with my own ego and entertaining them, I would have thought about the question my son’s lovely lady asked. I would have said to her — a wonderful dancer from childhood, I am told — “Because it’s a bit necessary I think. Didn’t you find it so in the studio?”

I’m guessing she would agree with me, because she too has a little diva in her, or at least I suspect she did to be as good at her art as she used to be. Don’t we all have a little of this in us, right there nudging next to our finest moments, perhaps jading them with a bit of ourselves that we know are not as colorful as the art we try to produce?

I am constantly reminded how flawed I am. I am constantly aware of how hard I work to smooth rough edges that take hours of spiritual discipline to sand away yet can become married in a moment of elevated voice and sour-filled expression of selfish pity.

I suspect it’s necessary, these diva moments,  this side of heaven to keep us humble and to keep us learning until that day when we finally get it right, on Earth as it is in heaven.

At least I hope it is, which heightens my awareness of my responsibility to do what I do while minimizing my diva moments even if I don’t really want to eliminate them.


Proof God’s a woman: Emmenagogue herbs

Emmenagogue is one of those big words I’m learning in my holistic medicine courses that I can’t pronounce and struggle to understand. But what I did learn about this word is its proof God really is a woman.

Emmenagogue herbs are specific herbs for a women’s reproductive system. It’s amazing, when you think about it: plants grown from dirt — the same stuff God used to create us according to Genesis lore — with the specific purpose of helping ladies fulfill the mandate to “go forth and multiply.” But God in her caring empathy also cooked up some plant life to deal with the discomfort of menstruation and the hot flashes of menopause as well. Seriously, no man — not even God — would think of how necessary relief is in times like these. That’s what my husband would call hoof-to-head focus. God’s a hoof-to-head kind of gal, I’m learning.


I learned that specific herbs may assist a women for various problems related to the reproductive system. They can assist in stimulating or increasing menstruation flow. But other herbs can prepare a women for childbirth. Still others can assist to heal the body following childbirth.

When a women is pregnant it’s a good time for her to take stock of her lifestyle, and ensure that she is making the best health decisions for her and the growing fetus inside. Many herbs will provide you with the extra vitamin and nutrients that are required for a healthy pregnancy (for example Dandelion and Wild Strawberry will provide a pregnant woman with the daily requirements of iron and folic acid).  In that respect, it is important that she always checks with her healthcare provider if herbs will be used at anytime during pregnancy.

One other note: Just as there are many helpful herbs during a pregnancy there are also herbs that are contraindicated for pregnancy. Herbs like basil, licorice and yarrow should be avoided through breast-feeding.

Do your own personalized research on herbs. I’m learning it’s a good thing to consult a qualified herbalist, be it wanting to avoid a pregnancy, help start one, maintain a healthy one, or just better care for those female-related issues that we all deal with throughout our lifetime. The Big Woman Upstairs, it seems, has us all in mind, after all.

Holy Basil — ‘the immaculate one’ — added to garden plan

The hubby and I continue to plant our garden, making modifications from the original plan. I knew I may be up against stiff opposition when I suggested to him that we plant a different type of basil from the traditional Italian sweet basil that he adores.

He looked at me, dirt-stained hands hanging from his sides, with a stare that reminds me of his days terrorizing opponents on the wrestling mat.

So I gingerly started listing the reasons why I wanted to make this change.

“It’s called Holy, like the Holy Spirit?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, sensing an opening. Afterall, he’s the cook and the one with his hands dirty. I’m the brains of the operation — or at least that’s what he tells me. I was messing with about 100 years of tradition on this and I knew it.

“Well, I’ve already planted the other basil, but we can add it,” he said at last, picking up his rake to return to his work.

“Great,” I said. Baby steps.

I am intrigued by this herb and how it is used after reading its history. Holy Basil is said to have spiritual qualities as well as medicinal ones. It’s considered to be the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion, and as a result it is often found growing in courtyards and near temples. It is said to protect those that grow it from misfortune and to sanctify and guide them to heaven. Holy Basil is therefore appropriately called “The Incomparable One.”

Research indicates that Holy Basil offers medicinal qualities, though a lack of scientific evidence confirms these benefits. Holy Basil is considered antiemetic, anticancer, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, sedative, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic and antiulcer, according to PubMed.org.

Holy Basil is also said to contain powerful antioxidants. Preliminary clinical studies suggests that Holy Basil may have a positive impact on ulcers and blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetes. It is also being studied for its positive effect on anxiety/stress and for its prevention of cavities. We don’t have many cavities, but as we’ve written before, we both have our share of anxiety.

Holy Basil can be grown quite easily in either pots or in the ground. It prefers warm soil in direct sunlight. Because it requires full sun it has a tendency to dry out in the hotter summer months, so ensure your plant gets plenty of water during these times. Holy Basil will develop flowers as it grows, however, it is noted that if you allow your plant to flower, it will not affect the potency of the herb.

A tea is the most practical way to use Holy Basil. Cover two teaspoons of fresh leaves with 8 oz of boiling water. Cover and steep for five minutes prior to straining out the leaves and drinking.

My husband will be far more likely to toss into his cooking than make a tea. I’ll try that one.

My interest peaked by the different flavor it may bring to my family’s Italian dishes. (hmmn… I hear the hubby mumble at this idea… which translates into, “I have my doubts.”) Research indicates that Holy Basil has a more peppery taste than our well known Sweet Basil. Finally, since I am always interested in herbs that have a potential to assist in reducing anxiety I will try this to see if it helps in that regard. The spiritual history around Holy Basil also has me interested in growing it on my property. Who doesn’t want to keep misfortune away from their doorstep?

Mindfulness is like living on the ocean shore

A few years back The Bride and I spent nearly a month in Mexico living along the Sea of Cortez. The beautiful seas could kick up waves and whitecaps and turbulence like most great bodies of waters. But its remarkable ability for morning stillness captures my memories most. I’d get up and that enormous, powerful, mystical sea would lie calm as a lake without a ripple across its surface. The pelicans would fly low, barely above the crystal clear glass with a perfect view of the breakfast swimming below. They’d fly up and with the urgency of Robin Hood’s arrow pierce the tranquility, snatch their prey and fly back up to the skies above. The water would ripple outward at the momentary disturbance but soon return to the silent calm.

Th hectic nature of the day would rise. Fishermen would crack the water’s surface with their boats and winds would stir up the waves and the sprinkling of tourists would splash up on its shores. By mid-day the waters would resemble their natural state, sea-like, with whites and foam and curling waves.

I grew up with the powerful Pacific nearby, always within a quick drive to visit. It’s relentless power never stilled. It’s slamming shoreline never quieted. So the stillness of Cortez showed me a stark contrast that offers a silent portrait for stillness, a power my mighty Pacific has never known.

Throughout my life my mind has been the Pacific. I’d stare incredulously at The Bride when I’d ask, “what are you thinking?” and she’d reply, “nothing.”

Impossible, I thought. The idea of a silent mind was as foreign as building a house on Mars.

I learned to drink to quiet my mind. For more than twenty years I took my medicine faithfully, never once letting a night go by without some measure of calming elixir dulling the crashing waves inside my head.

The Bride struggled with anxiety in those years.  I felt such compassion for her even though I was oblivious to the idea of “worry.” I didn’t really grasp it. She once asked me — during a particularly scary time in our life with the storms of life crashing powerful waves against our existence — what I feared.

“Nothing,” I said, fully meaning it. Because the alcohol had done its work, the relentless activity of my mind had dulled and even though a storm brewed outside our doors, my mind felt calm. Ah booze, you once made me feel like Superman.

It’s this reality that causes me to resist a gentle suggestion that I consider anti-anxiety medication. I’d love my mind to slow down, but I prefer to figure a way to do it naturally through the disciplines of silence, of yoga practice, of prayer, of relationship.

So now, both sober and finding far more common ground over our anxiety, we together pursue the mindfulness that keeps life in balance. The daily activity and winds through our life whip up a good internal storm now again, but the focus on that Sea of Cortez dawn-like calm remains a daily pursuit. Some days are more Cortez like than others. The Pacific routinely makes its presence felt on our shores. But we’ve learned a few things along the way that I consider critical for finding the balance that leads to a healthy emotional, mental state.

  • Relentless truthfulness — with yourself most of all — is critical. I read from the interesting book Pastrix, by Nadia Bolz-Weber, that Jesus didn’t compare good and evil but truth and evil. We don’t overcome our evil with white-knuckled goodness but truthfulness. As Jesus said, “the truth will set you free.”
  • Honor the silence — Even if I can only go for a few minutes, the discipline of silence is worthy of practice just as I exercise my body physically. Few doubt any longer the health benefits of silent meditation. I am often ragged at best with my efforts, but it’s worth it, in particular, the intentional disconnect to the digital world this affords me.
  • Season liberally with grace — Peace is not a place we arrive to but a condition of life’s journey. We will storm through life often enough. We will, frankly, make a hot fucking mess of our lives even on our best days. I am so grateful for grace. The 11th step is the daily moral inventory, which is paramount in my life. It’s like letting the air out of the balloon that has built up all day. I still struggle with the practice of simply admitting it when I’ve screwed up. This step forces me to do so and the waves inside me calm when I do. God’s grace is so abundant. I need to be reminded of it daily.
  • Learning what is — A change in the weather often comes when I simply embrace the weather. I hear the storm inside my mind. My nerves crackle with the energy of a power line. I feel the disquiet in my chest and gut. I do best when I simply name it all. This is what is it is, I tell myself. I’m anxious. I’m pissed. I’m scared. I’m tired. Life feels shitty right now in this moment. I learn to see what it is. Because once I do so, the mother’s heart of God comforts me and reminds me, “All that is true, but your are OK. You are still here. This storm will pass.” And sure enough, soon enough, if does — and for the last 57 months, it has passed without me taking the drink I always want in times like those.
  • Avoid future tripping — Do you ever have a conversation with yourself about a future conversation coming up that you fear will be ugly? I’ve driven down the road playing out the scene I anticipate before me so thoroughly, I can’t recall the drive at all. But my body feels the experience as if it’s happened. The back and forth rehearsal, in which I’ve played all the roles, usually goes dramatically bad. I play out the future and it’s like a Shakespearean Tragedy — full of woe. Then the real event arrives and it’s rarely as bad as I anticipated. But my body went through the agony of the worst anyway. This future tripping feels real and I suffer it as real, even when I’ve done it all in my mind. Perhaps this is why Jesus gently reminded us, “Do not worry about tomorrow, today has enough troubles of its own.” Jesus never expected us not to feel anxiety, he only offered the advice of staying present, in the moment, so you only experience what’s real not the pain you envision.
  • Combine heart and head with yoga and prayer — too much of our spirituality is sedate, which gives little release to the physical needs of our bodies. Yoga has remained over the last five thousand years because it refuses to compartmentalize our souls but deals with us as what we are, a vastly interconnected human being that all needs to sync in harmony to run at peak performance. Yoga allows the body to lead the mind and connect with the soul holistically. When I couple it with prayer I simply feel better almost every time. I rib my oldest friend — a gay pastor who loves modern Evangelical church services (ugh..) — that all those antics would be better served dancing at an Ozzy concert. He tells me with a silly smile, “I love happy clappy services. I’ll admit it.” I suspect it’s like his yoga, when his body can match the worship in his mind, so maybe it’s not so bad after all.

If you struggle as I do with anxiety, and with mindfulness and the discipline of being present, I hope some of this will help. Please understand that for many — perhaps even me, who knows — the problem is a chemical dysfunction within the brain and could best be treated with medication. I don’t suggest anyone should feel bad for taking what makes them feel better, no more than a diabetic takes insulin. That choice is yours and you should do as you will. I just know that these things don’t hurt either and we all can benefit from them to a lesser or greater degree.

Namaste, God Bless, Peace, and may grace abound.



Snake-handling TV preacher dies of viper’s bite

A snake-handling TV preacher died on Saturday of a snake bite.

Pastor Jamie Coots, the star of “Snake Salvation,” was bitten on the right hand at his Kentucky church, Middlesborough police said.

The Pentecostal holy man refused to go to the hospital or accept any medical treatment, police said.

Coots, whose show appeared on National Geographic’s television channel, believed snake handling was a commandment from God and a viper’s bite was God’s will.

“When I first started church I said if I ever went to a hospital or a doctor over a snake bite I would quit church,” Coots said in one episode.

via Pastor Jamie Coots, snake-handling TV preacher, dies of viper’s bite   – Daily News.

When you read this, what do you feel? I wondered what God felt. My mind took off for a little while on this thought. I finally pictured this well-intended (I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt) goofball showing up in heaven and God saying,

“You big dummy.”

And the good news is the nasty finger he let decay off him the last time he was bitten by one of snakes was healed. Because God is like that. She just shakes her head and puts us back together. For some, thank God, the process takes place on this side of heaven. For Jamie Coots, I like to think it’s taking place on the other side.

I just know God loves all us dummies too much not to do it, here or there.

Hoof-to-head in contrast to American idols

I’m often asked what our blog is all about. I don’t really have an answer. I realize this is a terrible sales pitch, but I’m not selling anything so I don’t have to bother.

But I gave the idea some thought recently.  I decided what it is is simple: A celebration. We celebrate art. We celebrate recovery. We blather on about the stuff that makes life full and wide and meaningful and fun. That’s sort of what we mean by the hoof to head concept. In food this “trend” is using all parts of an animal, which is great stuff. My grandmother did that her whole life and her recipes reflect it. She never knew she was trendy. She just thought it was necessarily frugal.

In philosophical focus, hoof to head is something also a bit trendy that goes against the grain of rampant consumerism. When we write about our efforts to re-use, reduce, recycle and restore (that’s a biggie for us) we are making an effort to “lessen our global footprint,” to use a trendy term.

But we sure as hell aren’t concerned with being trendy, just responsible. We are a species that have built monuments of trash. By taking a hoof-to-head approach and trying to limit our waste, we strive to live a bit more in harmony with our world and environment.

At the deepest level, hoof to head means a spiritual view of life that recognizes the intense idolatry of wealth and greed. The concept is one that goes a lot deeper than a silly blog can properly define. But it goes back to the old saying, “you gotta serve somebody” even if its our own ego.

I read an article by David Brooks the other day. I find it’s important to read conservatives so I don’t end up just reading all the stuff I already agree with. In this column he talks about the poor job modern religions have done in communicating the wonder of faith.  I disagree with Brooks as much as I agree with him. This one, I agreed wholeheartedly. I like it that there are conservatives out there closer to my view than those with the megaphone that seem to hold Jesus hostage. In this column I’m reminded that we all serve something, we just don’t admit it.

So I’m rambling a bit as I am prone to do when I try to capture the esoteric things I sense but don’t really know. The whole concept is easier to explain in an example than actual words, so follow along on this rabbit trail of thought for a moment.

It starts with this. Why do so many, many people want to be the next American Idol? Seriously — you’ve seen the crowds. People will wait and wait and wait for a brief chance to be a star, and idol, the Voice, or whatnot. But idol is really the word. That’s what it is, idol worship. I get the allure, but do these folks really stop and think: what would happen to me if I won? Or do their parents?

2014-01-05 19.42.52

We read virtually every day about young stars — the Justin Beibers and Lindsay Lohans of this moment, but an exhausting list of examples that dot every turn of the calendar — and how their lives are riddled with brokenness: addiction, bouts with the law, destructive relationships, angry outburst, just to name a few. We watch in horror as their lives become a 24-hour reality show and paparazzi feeding frenzy.

Any sane reaction would be: no way, no how. I’ll never go anywhere near that life. OR better yet, I’ll never wish that life upon my child if its my last breath. I’ll do everything in my power as a parent to keep them away from that influence.

Because I don’t know too many teens who could make all that money and have all that adulation and live in that shark-tank filled world of Hollywood and expect to remain decent, healthy, happy and sane. It seems impossible.

Let me get extreme here: If you had to choose, would you want your child to smoke a joint or be a child star? I don’t like pot and am thankful my kids never got into it, but I’d fire up the bong if it came down to these choices. The pot they’ll survive. The odds are considerably longer if they become a child star, or a pro sports athlete, or a rock star, or whatever. It’s just way, way too much.

So if it seems that clear, why would so many of us be thrilled if we were chosen to star in a movie, or if our kid was? Come on, fess up. If one day your kid came home and said they were being offered a chance to star as Brad Pitt’s child on his next blockbuster and a contract with a long string of zeros on it after the dollar sign were waived in your face wouldn’t you be thrilled?

That’s our idolatry. That’s where we’ve gone so far awry as a culture.

That’s why we write this stuff. That’s why we think there is a healthier way — a hoof to head way, a whole-person approach to living our best lives.

If the churches of our land were doing a better job of modeling a better way, than this wouldn’t be such a strange concept. But how is the star power of spiritual leaders– bankrolled with mega churches, and mega followers and mega book deals — any different? How is the name-it-and-claim it “Christian” philosophy of wealth, success and prosperity any different? Is it really? Can we really praise God with one hand and fly our wealth flags in the other?

We didn’t think so.

So, we’ll keep on exploring this humble little hoof-to-head path in the physical, emotional and spiritual realms in the hope of finding a better way.

Jesus held hostage by the fundamentalists

Remember WWJD? The parodies of it were memorable that’s for sure. Like most fads, especially Christian ones, the whole thing turned sort of nauseating really quickly, like fish left out too long.

But my gripe wasn’t the idea, which came from the rediscovery of a sort-of archaic book that really was pretty inspirational back in the day. The notion was this: If you’re not sure what to do in a given situation, ask yourself what would Jesus do. That makes sense.

The only problem is most of the people wearing fancy bracelets and spouting WWJD didn’t seem to actually know Jesus all that well, at least judging from their behavior.

Read through the New Testament about Jesus. He was truly only pissed off at one group of people: The religious leaders. He loved the sinners. He thought the cast-offs were fun and interesting and chose to hang out with them. He liked to sit and talk with hookers. He didn’t like the wealthy and elite, and they didn’t like him much either, but still he treated them with compassion. But he had some harsh, harsh words for the religious leaders of the day. Brood of vipers I think he called them.

So ask yourself this. If Jesus were here today, who would he call a brood of vipers? The Fundamentalist Brigade or the Rainbow Coalition? He’d love my gay friends, I know that. WWJD with the gays and addicts and felons and rebels of today? We already know because he did it. He’d love them.

And what would he do if he walked into a Mega Church on Sunday morning? We already know because he did it. Tables would be a flying.

For far too long Jesus has been held hostage by the fundamentalists. They’ve changed his brand. They’ve Americanized it and cleaned it up and made it stand for white, rich, bigoted, elitist and hateful. So a lot of people have learned to despise the Jesus brand without ever knowing about Jesus the man.

More of us who have tried to get know him need to free him from captivity. We need to let people know the powerful political voice of conservative Christians doesn’t speak exclusively for the Jesus we read about in the Bible. They may contribute a verse, but they don’t get to sing the whole song.

I mulled this today as I realize that balance is critical to my hoof-to-head approach to healthy living. I have to spend as much time on my soul as I do on my body and mind. I have to nurture a proper spiritual condition as much as I consider what I eat, or won’t eat. The more I do this, I more I feel the weight of Jesus’ hostage situation and my long years of silence about it.

Jesus is not a brand. And nobody gets the corner on his market, not unless they want a table flying in their face and whip cracking above their head.

Think about that next time you wonder WWJD.

Don’t worry? Not easy but worth the effort

My bride comes by worry honestly. It’s woven into her DNA, a sort-of default status that her brain clicks to if she doesn’t give it a better alternative.

She married a guy who didn’t get it. For most of our married life, I was immune to worry, even at times when worry would have absolutely been the most sane reaction to the events at hand. But I had help. I drank. A lot. And that had an amazing ability to drown worry with bravado and recklessness before it ever got fired up.

Then I went to rehab. Guess what happened? I developed an anxiety disorder. The bride got the last laugh on that one — but alas, the bride doesn’t work like that. She simply understood better than I did the things I was feeling. She showed me all the empathy I lacked.

2014-01-05 19.44.42

I’m convinced worry has a toxic effect on our well-being. Eastern spirituality talks of it in terms of energy and aura. This is useful. A negative, worry-filled outlook colors everything else, seeping through our bodies with deleterious effect.

Rooting out the worry from our lives is one of the healthiest, hoof to head things we can do.

Now we both deal with worry in more proactive ways. I don’t drink. She tries not to ruminate and let her mind race ahead to a future of doom. We use our spiritual exercises in the morning to stay in the present and give the worry to God.

We also hike. It’s amazing how a trek past a gorgeous madrone grove (see above photo) can take your mind off the troubles you literally walked away from.

When I hike, my mind races towards gratitude. It just flows that way. The more grateful I am for the blessings of this life, the less room I have for worry.

I take comfort in the scriptures that reveal a God who, unlike me, shows tremendous empathy toward our inclination to worry. Jesus reminds us that God takes care of the worry-free lilies and birds whose needs are met. He sent his disciples out with nothing and said their needs would be provided. Before he left he gave a strong reminder:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he said.

St. Paul strikes me as a guy who once suffered from some serious worry. But in one of the most tremendous passages of ancient writing (Philippians 4) he tells us “be anxious for nothing” and to simply pray instead.  From the barren loneliness of a prison cell he tells us the secret of contentedness.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he wrote.

Paul had plenty to worry about and opted instead for joy and faith, which seems to have worked better than wine.

Don’t worry, be happy, the saying went. It wasn’t bad advice.

20 reasons why I’m an alcoholic

I’m a list maker. It’s nearly a compulsion. I have lists everywhere. I have lists of my 12 favorite books, my five favorite baseball parks, my all-time baseball team, my to-do lists for tomorrow, my to-do lists for the month, the list of stuff I want to do around the house… well, whatdya know, Ijust made a new list: a list of lists.

I got a problem here, I know.

Anyway, I came across an old list I made up shortly after I got out of rehab. My first sponsor was the first guy I could find, who was a homeless guy with just a few teeth, a terrible smoking habit and a serious commitment to Alcoholics Anonymous. I liked him and he prodded me forward. One of the ideas he had was to make a list of why I thought I ended up a boozer. Like sick ’em to a dog, I made my list.

Looking back on it now, it still rings true. But I’m so far removed from that guy that I read it now with a sense of freedom. That’s what they mean when we say we celebrate recovery. At first the idea of never drinking again sounds like a death sentence. I truly believed life would never be fun again. I didn’t believe I’d never drink again. Now, not only am I having the time of my life, I don’t even want to drink. It’s amazing how the brain changes.

I share this list today as nothing more than an oddity, a peek back to a much more difficult time. But if you’re there… wondering if you have a problem or knowing you have one and can’t possibly imagine life without booze, well, read on. Here’s why I am an alcoholic. Maybe you can try making your own list.

Twenty reasons why I’m an alcoholic…

1) Because I’ve been rebellious all my life. What better way to rebel?

2) because my image was built on the caricature of a “real man” or a “sophisticated man,” a writer like Hemingway, etc. In other words my self-esteem was tied up living on the edge, drinking in the good life, collecting wine, etc. I went so far as to buy a bar just so I could have my own corner table

3) because I used it to ignore stress. I thought I was like the “Godfather” who solved everyone’s problems, when in fact I was stressed out of my mind and needed to drink to calm my anxiety

4) because I thought it made me fun and helped me break out of my uncomfortability in social settings

5) because business deals and work meetings are best conducted in bars

6) because I avoided my inner fears for decades by drowning them with alcohol

7) because I feared abandonment by everyone who matters to me

8) because I am weak and afraid

9) because I’ve been disappointed with myself for years, especially with my lack of follow through and lasting success

10) because I really, really, really love wine!

11) because I’m very reckless, so of course, I push everything to the extremes, including how much/how often I drink

12) because I’m powerless and basically out of control

13) because I’m lonely and felt unloved most of my life

14) because my parents really stressed me out and ultimately left me feeling undefended against the world

15) because I grew up feeling I pissed off everyone around me

16) because I suck at saying “no” to myself and/or others, which creates a big fucking mess of instant gratification most of the time

17) because drinking made my bad choices easier to deal with

18) because I wanted to prove all the “fundamentalists” wrong about drinking

19) because I love the show “Cheers” and still love happy hours

20) because I’m a complete fucking idiot.

See, aren’t lists just great?! It’s all in how you look at it. When I wrote that list a couple of years ago I never wanted a drink so bad in my life. Now, I read it and thank God for all She’s done in my life. So yes, lists are great. It’s all in how you look at it.

Meditation in vogue but is it just talk?

I can’t help but notice a lot of folks are talking about meditation these days.

In the Twitterverse, for example, I read a Daily Health Tip that said 20 minutes a day of meditation can help your physical health. Sounds great. Folks tweeted and retweeted it. And I just wondered… do they actually do it?

I’m not trying to sounds all hooty-tooty-spiritual-guruie, because I’m no such thing. I just try to meditate a bit and try to pray most days and I’ve found it’s really EFFin hard. Few things I do regularly that I suck at this much, so I’m just wondering do all these folks who talk the meditation game actually meditate?

I read a while back that Deepak Chopra meditates for two hours every morning. TWO EFFin HOURS?! My mind was completely shot into orbit. Everyday?

I wanted to toss down my dollar bill and yell, “BULLSHIT! I CALL bullshit!”

But then I thought about it, and if a guy that prominent says he does it, I assume he has a whole gob of people waiting in the wings to tear his ass down. Isn’t that pretty much how it works. Those “tell alls” pay and the posse gotta get get paid, even the posse of a spiritual, positive guy like Deepak I assume. So if he isn’t doing it, I suspect someone would have outed him by now.

Two hours… man, that’s some serious hang time.

I’ve developed a fairly routine meditation and prayer practice. I rarely top 20 minutes. In fact, about a year into it, I became sort of disgusted with what a wimp I was and decided to track my meditation time in a totally non-Zen, very Western-goal-driven-I-gotta-whop-this-ass kinda way. I kept track of both how many minutes I meditated and an overall grade of the quality.

My journal filled with things like this:

“Meditation time: 12 minutes. Actual quality time free of thoughts: 17 seconds…. Well, shit.”

Or this:

“14 ragged ass minutes of mediation today.”

You get the point. Like I said, I’m not very hooty tooty guruie about this stuff. I just want to try to practice it and hopefully get a bit better.

Maybe its just me but it seems meditating is more like watching a two-year-old than blissing out with a higher power. Moment by moment I’m constantly chasing my mind around, ripping its fingers out of light sockets and taking away the scissors. Day by day, the more I think I’m moving toward Deepak Hang Time, I realize those 14 ragged ass minutes look pretty good after all.

But here’s the rub: As you can see I’m already hard enough on myself about something that’s supposed to be basically judgement free. So then, with a really backass mindset I go read about all these meditation benefits and how everyone is doing it, doing it, and… well… let’s be honest here… it pisses me off. Like, what the hell am I doing wrong?

Of course, I know better. It’s not a race. My practice is mine, not yours and it doesn’t really matter if you’re Kung Fu Woman and I’m Kung Fu Panda. Still… sigh…

Anyway, chime in here if you want. Tell me your stories. Don’t be shy. Tell me how you meditate for 90 minutes and see only clouds in your mind. I’m game. I love the abuse (no, really, I’d love to learn more, hear more… seriously… those aren’t fingers crossed behind my back at all… scouts honor) and would love to hear your experience.

I’m off to sit a while alone with my thoughts and … try not to stab the scissors of my mind into a light socket.

Oh yeah… namaste.