A Chance for Change

Building a life is a blend of hard work and varying luck; building a fulfilling life takes some imagination as well. We do what we can with the building blocks we have yet there are no guarantees. The principles, priorities, and projects we create a life from are seldom constant so it’s just as important to be ready to deal with loss as it is to be willing to let go. Sometimes, the only way to improve a situation is to change it entirely. A steady improvement of circumstances is certainly the goal though not always possible. It’s the choices we make in the face of loss or when facing a dead end that really matter. Whatever our situation, it’s up to us to make the most of it. If opportunity knocks, it’s up to us to answer. We must take a chance to make a change.
“There are two primary choices in life:
to accept conditions as they exist,
or accept the responsibility for changing them.”
— Denis Waitley
My Hunny and I have run the gamut of fair to middling circumstances, living paycheck to paycheck and making positive moves as opportunities arose. We went from apartment to townhouse to owning our own home only to end up selling it when the work dried up. We moved, started over, moved some more, and were rebuilding when the crashing economy led to Dave’s first layoff. Suddenly moving again, we chose to simplify – having always pared down to essentials with each move – and redefine “essential.” Having let go of the material, it was time to let go of a life filled with quantities rather than quality. Focused on survival but missing the mark, we nearly worked ourselves to death with ever increasing hours and continually decreasing health.

I’d dealt with chronic illness throughout my life and I could no longer pretend it shouldn’t affect my choices. If all change starts with the choice to take a chance, one choice I needed to quit making was the chance I kept taking with my health. Quitting my job meant starting over yet again but we had nothing left to lose. Perhaps we should’ve moved home to San Francisco then but a different opportunity knocked, we answered, and new experiences are never regrettable. Our circumstances had much improved by the time Dave was laid off once more, as I strove to reclaim what health I could in a studio we loved. We were, however, in a town we’d never be happy in with nothing to hold us there. It was finally time to go home, and thank God we did.
“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling,
but in rising again after you fall.”
— Vince Lombardi
Always determined to bloom where we’re planted, we chose to take root where we’d flourish. The expense had kept us away long enough and aspects of living in San Francisco make up for any relative hardship, from its public transportation and healthcare to the diverse culture and moderate weather with so much in between. As a spoonie, such benefits are life-giving and allow me to have a more active life here than has been possible elsewhere. The debt-free healthcare proved life-saving within a year of making the City by the Bay our permanent home when three decades of Endometriosis nearly ended me and led to three surgeries in under three years. My Hunny and I have spent the past year recovering – financially for him and physically for me.
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”
— John Wooden
Now that this final geographical move to the one city we’ve both loved since childhood has improved our quality of life, we’re ready – and almost able – to improve our living situation. Repeatedly rebuilding has left me grateful to have a home at all but unwilling to settle for mere survival. We’re in a residential hotel and the conditions here exacerbate my own compromised condition. Moving to the city gave us a fighting chance, and moving within the city will allow me to keep fighting. Unless we’re making progress, we’re facing stagnation and the time has come for taking action. Faced with the need to move despite limited resources, I’ve taken a bold action and started a crowdfunding campaign. I’m determined to thrive, not just survive, and this is my chance.
“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”
— Jack Canfield

The Dorey Constant

I was your little shadow

Before reaching equity with Momma
Or recognizing my soul in Grandma
There was you

What could’ve been treated as tagging along
Used instead as a chance for me to belong
There with you

Anything done had fun to be found within
Nothing was mundane, especially when
There were two

You were my first best friend

Tasks as games, errands became adventures
Logic as puzzles, bedtime stories offered cures
Walks as archaeology, flies were fishing lures

I was your little brown eyes

Leaving me no doubt I was exceptional
While ensuring everyone felt special
That was you

Peacemaker who took everything in stride
Supportive, and confident without pride
That is you

Finding hope with a quiet determination
Knowing letting go may be the solution
That’s me too

You were my universal constant

© Dorian Dorey Rhodes 31 July 2014

The sign outside my grandparents’ mountain home displayed my family name

Being able to say “me too” when it comes to my grandparents reassures me that I’m part and parcel of their living legacy.* Those two simple words keep me connected to them, and specifically remind me that Granddad loved “me too.” That deceptively simple phrase was how he responded to “I love you” when one of his girls called him at work. Although he was clearly just keeping things professional, there was a sense that he felt too deeply to risk getting personal. He warned me any time I cried that, if I continued, he’d join me. Seeing me cry was enough to make him cry, and not saying “love” at the office hinted at the real possibility his voice might crack if he let himself say it. He laid the foundation for the most important lesson Grandma taught me, that our choices also affect those who love us. My Granddad was the first father I ever knew, and the best man I could ever hope to know. He exemplified what it was to be a good man yet not by being a man’s man – veteran, engineer, and mountaineer that he was – but by being unabashedly accepting, caring, and creative. Don Dorey proved that real strength comes from within.

As a tomboy and his namesake, my connection to Granddad was strong. When talking to himself (which the best people do), he called himself Dorey and my nickname was Dori so those private dialogs always seemed to include me. We’d take on challenges together and “Get it right, Dorey” or answer the tough questions like “What’re you doing, Dorey?” Grandma was concerned I’d take it personally when he was frustrated too but I’d seen him sign his name, “GD Dorey,” often enough that it was clear who he meant when he swore to himself: “Goddamn Dorey.” Rather than teach me conceptual lessons of right and wrong, Granddad shared more relatable truths; cussing is a privilege earned with age, lying is only for Liar’s Dice, gambling is reserved for Solitaire, drinking is intended for meals or Sock It To Me Time and, like most things, is more enjoyable in moderation. With him, I learned a deeper appreciation for those around me. While Momma inspired me and Grandma reflected me, Granddad gave me a sense of place. As a Dorey, his Dori, I not only belonged but could share that feeling through the ready acceptance of others he personified. Without him, I’m disconnected from a universe he gave meaning to.

In memory of G[eorge]D[onald] Dorey, my G[od]D[amn] Granddad:
Don Dorey, you are missed and we are better for knowing you.
October 1919 – July 2014

*Dan Fogelberg embodied what it was to be a “living legacy” and the phrase always reminds me of him. (post to come)

Growing Independence

True change is never immediate but our choices plant seeds that our actions water. Unrest often leads to declarations of intent yet it’s what we do with those good intentions that make the difference. In 1776, a resolution “declar[ing] the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from allegiance to or dependence on the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain…” was presented to the Continental Congress. Copies of this Declaration were distributed throughout the colonies and other territories upon its adoption. That Declaration of Independence was adopted on the 4th of July but signed a month later, created a year into an ongoing rebellion against Britain, first recognized nearly two years later, and officially acknowledged after seven more years of war when the 13 participating colonies became the country we now know as The United States of America in 1783. That initial dawning of independence did not create freedom. In declaring ourselves free, we stated our intent. An intention that would’ve been but a footnote in history had we not been willing to put in the work, take the risks, and suffer the losses.
“To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Allies are another important part of any revolution. French involvement was crucial to The American Revolutionary War and it was the Treaty of Paris that officially recognized the independence of The United States. Some Americans think France should be beholden to us for our role in World War II but it was the least we could do, considering we may not have existed as the country we are without them. Whether revolting against the status quo or our own unrest, support is key. The American Revolution started with individuals addressing injustices and led to fellow colonists, united colonies, then allied countries working together for a greater good. From the moment we decide our circumstances must change, we are fighting for or against that goal with each choice we make. The alliances we choose decide which seeds are watered; a lack of support can stunt their growth, negativity – especially our own – can damage our revolution at its roots, and discouragement may cause drought but even small actions taken with intent can revive a thirsty ideal. We create our world through action and can change the world when we take action together: “Injustice in the end produces independence.” — Voltaire

star-spangled coffee
Raise a mug to independence: (|_|*Happy 4th of July*|_|)

By celebrating the birth of an independent nation, we honor not only the individual freedoms that makes possible but the unity that shared struggle creates. Our liberation came at a terrible price, many of our most important lessons were learned too late, the ideals we declared with our independence have yet to be fulfilled, but we’re a work in progress and we can’t give up. By securing liberty for any of us, we ensure the fight can continue for all of us. When we remember that America was created by rebels and immigrants, we understand it’s not exceptionalism that makes us great but diversity. Our independence is founded on diversity and equality; as they continue to grow, we will become the world citizens that requires of us. We must respect the rights and freedoms of others in order to protect our own, seeking justice and defying injustice. Rebellion begins with questioning as conditioning and fear are twin pillars of the status quo – designed to keep questioning to a minimum. Although our options may be limited and our freedoms will be challenged, our ‘unalienable Rights’ begin with freedom of thought and therein lie the seeds of change.
“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are,
without regard to place or person; my country is the world,
and my religion is to do good.”
— Thomas Paine
To embrace the independence of being free from outside control, we must exercise the independence of thinking for ourselves. Any freedoms we’re granted or opportunities we’re provided should be a beginning, not the end. Only we can declare our intention, claim our independence, and exercise our freedom. Those choices plant seeds of possibility that are nurtured by our actions and influences. Despite varying degrees of privilege, we are not truly free if we’re not willing to imagine a world radically different than the one we know. That willingness, that independence of thought, is what the 4th of July is really about. Few freedoms exist that new thinking didn’t help create. Even our intrinsic liberties require creative thinking to be put to dynamic use. Whatever your country, don’t let your life be dictated by circumstance. Don’t settle for declaring what you want. Revel in that victory and find ways to start implementing what you envision. Whether the changes you imagine are large or small, take the action your current circumstances allow then build on that as things begin to change. Be patient but persistent, avoiding the drought of inaction and the acid rain of self-doubt. The seeds of good we plant for ourselves or the world, can and should be watered: “True independence is a state of mind, not of being.”*
“The first thing I want to teach is disloyalty, till they get used to disusing that word loyalty as representing a virtue. This will beget independence – which is loyalty to one’s best self and principles, and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes.”
— Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain’s Notebook

*I’m quoting Phyllis Dorey Thiessen, aka my mum; watch for the post of that story, coming soon..

The Speed of Life

The hurrier you go, the behinder you get.* Whether it’s mistakes made when rushing that then need to be fixed, things forgotten while hurried that need to be found, rash decisions that lead to delays, or unrealistic goals that leave us scrambling; going too fast slows us down. We have an optimum speed, like any machinery. As biological machines, we need to honor the time it takes to function well and balance the speed of our motor skills against the rate of our mental processes. We each operate differently so the worst thing we can do is compare ourselves to others. I’m hindered by chronic pain, for example, and it doesn’t just slow me down physically but mentally as well. Spoonies often get stuck in a cycle of all or nothing since it takes so much to do so little and the harder we push, the more we crash. I became the embodiment of “the hurrier, the behinder” when years of pushing through the pain left me bedridden. It’s human nature to push through and it often seems like the only alternative is to give up but we don’t just have an on/off switch.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon, as quoted in Beautiful Boy
~ image via Two Places at Once ~

In a world with so much to do, and too much to be done, we default to a setting of ‘busy bee’ and can end up too busy to just be. I found myself rebelling against that busyness this month. I couldn’t keep putting in so much effort for so little return and staged a slowdown. Now I’ve confirmed the more obvious but equally problematic truth that the slower you go, the behinder you stay. The extra reading, bonus TV marathons, and addictive puzzle-solving were good for my brain but became another form of busyness. Whatever we fill our time with will leave us with no time to spare if we don’t pace ourselves. Finding an optimal speed of life gets even trickier when any uptime requires increasingly more downtime and energy is being borrowed against a deficit. The need to prioritize is universal, as are conflicting concerns, and I may be dealing with more than my share of opposing interests but we’re all dealing with something. What we prioritize and how we spend our free time not only decides our days, it affects our happiness and can impact who we are.
“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants.
What are you industrious about?”
— Henry David Thoreau
The more we try to do, especially in any given day, the less we’re likely to accomplish. It’s not necessarily our goals that set us up for frustration, if we’re willing to let go of certain ones or postpone things as needed, yet our expectations are often unrealistic. We seldom allow for interruptions or downtime, both of which can provide some of the best moments of our day. Switching up the kind of busyness I focused on for a month proved what I, of course, suspected; all those ongoing endeavors I was avoiding, as important as they are to me, just aren’t that urgent and don’t need daily attention. Better yet, I was reminded how important it is to include a steady supply of escapism – or I’ll need to escape again. It’s time to pick the pace back up, so long as I don’t get in a hurry and I remember happiness is only possible one day at a time. Our days are finite and each one matters so let’s quit measuring them by what we’ve accomplished but instead by whether we enjoyed ourselves in the process: Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.**
“It is only possible to live happily ever after on a daily basis.”
— Margaret Bonanno

*One of the many gems of wisdom my Grandma made sure I knew. **This is commonly misattributed to John Lennon.

Maya Angelou, Our Angel of Hope

We are more than the sum of our parts. This paraphrase of Aristotle* sums me up, especially given the many broken parts that come with being a spoonie. Dr. Maya Angelou beautifully embodied this concept that speaks of not being limited by our limits nor defeated by our defeats. The desire to be more and the need to overcome are universal, they encapsulate what it is to be human – as did Maya, in word and example. She refused to be limited to her parts, from the parts of her born of horror as well as hope to the parts she played in helping us face our horrors and find our own hope.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
— Maya Angelou
The difficult and ground-breaking parts she played in her own life, including teen mother and cable car conductor, along with the world-changing parts she played in our lives, through the arts and activism, are immortalized in her writing and the part it will continue to play in the human experience. By sharing her own experiences, with as much honesty as hope, Maya Angelou exemplified for all of us the ability to become more than the sum of our experience. Through her shared parts and experiences, she not only exalted our individual humanity but expressed our shared human condition.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. — Maya Angelou
handmade postcard by Michele Quam

Maya was living proof that our stars aren’t fixed and our lives aren’t dictated. Our circumstances aren’t always in our control but what we become within, beyond, and despite those circumstances is. Whatever we’re in the process of overcoming, whether it haunts us like the childhood trauma she endured or overtakes our lives like the chronic illness/es I’m fighting, when we remember that we’re all struggling – that we’re all fighting something – we realize that we’re not fighting alone.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
She understood, and taught by example, that our individual insights reveal universal truths. My experience is utterly unique yet it has elements that connect to yours, and we can learn from each other, and we are the same; we are human and, in that shared humanity, there is hope. Maya survived unthinkable struggles by choosing to thrive, overcame hardship by allowing it to fuel her, fought prejudice by becoming a loving activist, and – in perhaps her most compassionate act of all – wrote it all down for us.

“…I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’
I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands;
you need to be able to throw something back.
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart,
I usually make the right decision.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone;
people love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou, I’ve Learned

Maya Angelou makes us feel hope. She said, “I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.” Not only will she always be known as intelligent, courageous, and loving but her intelligence, courage, and love taught us that we can be too; she taught us by being true to herself, she taught us to be our true selves. When we heed her heart, we learn that we’re enough.. “You alone are enough, you have nothing to prove to anybody.” May our marvelous muse rest in peace for, through her, we have indeed been Touched by an Angel:
“…We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.”
— Maya Angelou, Touched by an Angel
Her “mission in life was not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” In so doing, she taught us how. Maya’s our angel now, an angel of hope who lives on in her poetic legacy, encouraging us to live and love fully in turn.

*“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” ― Aristotle

San Francisco calls to me.

The City by the Bay invites you in with historic landmarks and remarkable architecture but asks you to stay with openair artistry and café tables. It’s a city built for walking; just as you haven’t really had coffee until you’ve had a quality roast brewed well, you can’t truly appreciate San Francisco from a car.* Its sidewalk cafés and alleyways, its unexpected parks and street art, the artisans selling their wares along with the more planned popup happenings make outings an adventure. There’s always a farmers’ market or craft fair, with food trucks and impromptu entertainment to be found. From Peace Plaza in Japantown to the thrift stores in the Mission District, from free museums along the Embarcadero to interactive music stores and bookstores in the Haight and North Beach, there are new discoveries to be made throughout the different neighborhoods. Each journey through this diverse mecca is as interesting as the destinations it offers.
“I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars!”
— Douglass Cross
Growing up in a small town, my many walks never abated my wanderlust. There was nowhere new to go, and not enough happening in the few public spaces there were. This is why California’s Central Valley kids spend their time in vineyards, drinking – which would almost seem poetic if they weren’t raisin vineyards. Given my rebellious spirit, it’s just as well that I grew up with so few options yet I never felt at home there. The one redeeming quality my so-called hometown has is its proximity to other places; mountains to the east, the ocean to the west, and San Francisco to the north. Escaping every chance I got started with high school road trips and became impulsive getaways that continued from the other direction upon moving to Oregon with my Hunny years later. Magical Mr. Mistoffelees, a furbaby who’s since crossed over his own bridge, would purr with me as he stretched along the dashboard in front of me when I could no longer resist a drive to the city. I’d inevitably have to turn right back but even the shortest visits left me feeling more myself.

San Francisco skyline
The San Francisco skyline as seen from Treasure Island by Dave Rhodes aka my Hunny

My Hunny and I share a deep love for this welcoming city. He spent his childhood Thanksgivings here and was initially stationed at its now defunct ship yard when he joined the Navy out of high school. San Francisco was our go-to getaway, we celebrated anniversaries in the Theatre District, birthdays at Mason Street Wine Bar, and New Years in Union Square; the city itself has been our vacation home. My draw to our Sanctuary City goes beyond the nostalgia or shared memories and runs deeper than the undeniable affinity it inspires. The concept of home can be a difficult one yet ultimately speaks to belonging. My grandparents’ cabin provided the only real sense of home I had but, for all the love felt there and as much as I love that mountain community, I was nevertheless out of place. This mountain girl will always love nature but thrives on the inherent energy of human activity – I’m a city girl at heart. Born across the bay, my connection to the Bay Area has always been strong despite not growing up here.
“No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does.
Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living.”
— William Saroyan
I don’t remember my first visit but, for once, the lack of memory isn’t due to my damaged brain as I was in utero. I’m a product of the Summer of Love; my mum dared dream of a more fulfilling life born of that promise and moved north that year. The following year, I was born. Proving the impact of environment, even via the womb, I became a neo-hippie far removed from my pre-birth days at Haight and Ashbury. Momma had long since returned to the Central Valley, leaving her hippie days behind as well. Before her return though, during that uneasy time living just outside the City by the Bay, any chance to cross the bridge became a saving grace. In turn, while I was growing up stifled in central California, trips to this city of my heart were my salvation. As my Hunny and I created some of our best moments in my city by the bay, it proved the one constant in our nomadic life and nowhere else have I ever felt at home. Even my brother, without such a formative association, made a home here for a time. So – despite being very different people on vastly disparate paths – my mum, brother, Hunny, and I each found salvation across a bridge or two on a peninsula that defies description. San Francisco is hometown to none of us yet a home of sorts to all and, best of all, finally my home.
“Somehow the great cities of America have taken their places
in a mythology that shapes their destiny:
Money lives in New York. Power sits in Washington.
Freedom sips cappuccino in a sidewalk café in San Francisco.”
— Joe Flower

*An open-top bus works though.. Tours, street cars, and trains will help you discover the walks you want to take.

Happy Mother’s Day!

From Pooh Corner to poetry
With courage and coffee
Thru Art for art’s sake
She inspirited me

From Upstart Crow to unity
With trust and tea parties
Thru Truth for my sake
She inscribed her love

From Camp Nelson to crazy
With freedom and fantasy
Thru Faith for our sake
She inspires me still

© Dorian Dorey Rhodes 11 May 2008

bird soaring through the forest
White Bird Flying by Phyllis Dorey Thiessen aka my mum

“Hold fast to your dreams for, without them,
life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
— Langston Hughes

I’m the happy result of an unlikely event, a planned teenage pregnancy. Unhappy with her life, my mum made a bold change; she married at 16 and had me a year later. Momma hadn’t found a better life but she had realized her dream of becoming a mother and her brave pursuit of something more gave us each other, and San Francisco. From that nontraditional beginning, through impromptu poetry readings to her own artistic endeavors, she raised me first and foremost to be creative. That gift is as important to me as her unconditional love and unwavering belief in me. Creativity as an end, not just a means, has enabled me to see possibilities beyond my limitations as a spoonie. Momma not only taught me to dream but to dream creatively.

Our mums bring us into being, guide us as we grow, support us if we’re lucky, and befriend us if we’re ridiculously lucky. I’ve been ludicrously lucky but, then again, I started life as a dream come true – what a legacy!? Momma wonderfully captures our creative journey in her response to this poem,* “We’ve both been through all kinds of crazy since Camp Nelson (playing at the creek!), & Winnie the Pooh curtains, & huggable Eeyores – not to mention coffee & books at the Upstart Crow – but what we found there has brought us through the tough times, & lit up our memories of the good times, & added the magic!!” She’s described me as her alter-ego and she’s my inner compass; my mum and I are more than compatible, we’re complementary.

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
— Washington Irving

*Appropriately enough, this poem grew from seeds planted while writing a birthday poem for Momma.

Coffee, Tea, and Me

Black, liquid hope sold here.* Coffee has been in my life since the caffeinated trio who raised me finally acquiesced and allowed me to join them in their marvelous morning routine. My “coffee” was mostly milk, of course, but the milk-to-coffee ratio gradually reversed – with the coffee increasing as my height did. Black coffee was my drink of choice by the time I was well over five feet tall and the pain-relieving, happy-making escape that each mug provided was no longer reserved just for mornings. Not only did this miraculous hot beverage provide myriad “me” moments, it was clearly good for not just my mental wellbeing but my physical health as well. My chronic pain and coffee’s caffeine made us a good fit yet that’s only part of its allure.

An essential element of coffee’s goodness is its aroma, which is enhanced by warmth. A nice spot of tea also provides that comforting combination. I had a well-rounded upbringing thanks to my anglophile mum, who properly follows her morning coffee with afternoon tea. One of the benefits of tea is its variety, making it possible to opt for less caffeine without compromising flavor. Between the bean and leaf, there’s bound to be a caffeine-flavor combo to suit everyone and there’s nothing like a hot beverage when you need a moment to yourself. Cold drinks work yet savoring helps us slow down for a bit, and the sipping a hot beverage requires has a centering effect. A hot drink is beneficial year-round too as it’s scrumptious if you’re cold and helps you adapt to the heat if you’re hot.

Don't you just need some more?
Need Some More? by pica-ae

Find moments throughout your day – whatever the drink and whatever you’re doing – as we all need a breather, or ten. You don’t have to be still with your beverage for it to be therapeutic but you’ll be better off for every pause you let it create. Coffee really is a great way to start the day, especially if you take that time for yourself before getting caught up in the day’s busyness. While my beloved bean provides a pick-me-up when needed, tea can provide a curative calm. Tea comes with its own rich history. The simplest of tea ceremonies are powerful in action and intention. It’s the intention behind an action that gives it meaning which is why taking a coffee or tea break offers the most return for the least effort. Each equally wondrous in its own right, coffee or tea is therapy in a mug.

Then there are the health benefits:

Coffee in moderation and tea reduce heart disease risk.
Coffee protects against gallstones and kidney stones.
Coffee aids in fiber intake and fighting asthma.
Coffee & tea reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Coffee & tea protect against liver disease.
Coffee & tea have powerful antioxidants.
Tea promotes alertness and relaxation.
Tea helps prevent tooth decay.
Coffee & tea are hydrating.
Coffee protects the brain.
Caffeine reduces pain.

Given my lifelong love affair with coffee, my “coffeesister” moniker is no surprise but there’s more to it. From the fellowship my family’s always shared over hot beverages to the friends found sharing a cuppa with someone, I believe in the ritual of it. I consider coffee and tea tangible friendship.. Science fiction guru, Robert A. Heinlein, created the concept of “water brothers” in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. Those who “share water” affirm mutual trust, understanding, and acceptance. Imagine feeling that way about ourselves, much less someone else. What better way to start than by opening our hearts, filling our mugs, and taking the time to simply be? As a coffeesister; I believe in sharing water, the aromatherapy of a hot brew, and the importance of being kind to each other – starting with ourselves:
“Coffee [or tea] is real good when you drink it, it gives you time to think. It’s a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”
— Gertrude Stein

*This is proposed as a coffee house name in the Gilmore Girls episode “I Solemnly Swear”


Two decades & more now past
Cosmos glimpsed beside a bonfire
A decision made, never to be undone
Change does come with time.. or should
Shifts & nuances pass as conclusions remain
Doubt everything, trust no one, yet truth’s salient
Hesitance set aside that night on the beach
Life not only claimed but purposefully
Each choice unique to the maker
Free to explore once grounded
Seeing beyond myself; open
Possibilities lead full circle
Chaos that lends control

© Dorian Dorey Rhodes 11 August 2008

bonfire on the beach
Bonfire on the beach by SchultzLabs

My life-changing bonfire was on a beach in San Luis Obispo, California and that life-changing decision was essentially to give a damn about myself. It may even keep me from being damned but that wasn’t the point. I chose to accept me, and the interconnectivity of creation. To honor my belief in a bigger picture, I not only need to continue questioning but question more. By accepting that there is more to life than I can readily know, it becomes a driving force to know what I can and that’s only possible through science. My faith in a larger truth is also a choice to explore all truths. As scientists would – and theologians should – confirm, each answer leads to another question. Thank God too because there’s a multiverse to be discovered:
“Science wants to know the mechanism of the universe, religion* the meaning. The two cannot be separated. …it is unreasonable to think we already know enough about the natural world to be confident about the totality of forces.”
— Charles Townes, 1964 Nobel physics laureate

*Religion may not be the best word; although I’m a woman of faith, I don’t consider myself religious.

Be You to Love You

I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not.* The real hope is to be loved for exactly who we are, yet it starts with us. We must learn to appreciate our true selves before anyone else can but, in our desire to connect, we may find ourselves going along to get along. People pleasing, avoiding conflict, self-doubt – whatever the reason – hesitating to be ourselves will leave us feeling uneasy anyhow. It also makes it harder to know ourselves, much less love ourselves; it’s harder for anyone to know us.. How can we find similar souls unless we let others see who we really are?

Be yourself. If you water yourself down to please people or to fit in or to not offend anyone, you lose the power, the passion, the freedom and the joy of being uniquely you. It's much easier to love yourself when you are being yourself.
full printable size available via my Pinterest

“It is better to be hated for what you are
than to be loved for something you are not.”
— André Gide
Being loved is good, being loved for the right reasons is better, and being able to love yourself is the best. When we’re true to ourselves, to our convictions, we become more confident. Each time we choose to be real instead of play it safe, we learn more about who we are and who we want to be. That’s where the power, passion, freedom, and joy come in; the excitement of existing lies in being unique, and we all are! Every chance you get, learn something new about yourself by choosing what feels right for you. Nothing compares to being you so remember:

Be yourself. If you water yourself down to please people or to fit in or to not offend anyone, you lose the power, the passion, the freedom and the joy of being uniquely you. It’s much easier to love yourself when you are being yourself.”
— Dan Coppersmith, co-author of The Self-Esteem Playbook

*Used by Kurt Cobain in his suicide note, this paraphrase of André Gide’s quotation is frequently attributed to Cobain.

Home Virtual Home

Where does the time go? Three months have gone by since the momentous decision to acquire our own internet again and we did get back online. That’s the good news. The lack of blog activity is the sad news. I’ve published & unpublished, started & abandoned, loved & ignored a number of blogs over the years. This one alone has seen many designs, posts come & go, me come & go, vied with WordPress, and – most recently – broken. Yes, no sooner did I get back online and start working on this poor neglected site then its dashboard presented with a permanent error. Its settings won’t open, Blogger help is essentially nonexistent, and my energy is limited.

So it is that the relaunch of my online presence has been thwarted. Although this is far from its first thwarting, it shall be its last. That’s right. I’m going for the declaration.. “Challenge accepted.” I may not have settings but I have moxy so, by God, I’m going to rebuild my poor spoonie of a site. As Oscar Goldman* would say, “we can rebuild him. We have the technology.” Well, we have enough to fake it anyway and all spoonies fake it til we make it. I’m done keeping my creativity on hold; it’s too fragile: “Creativity is a fragile, delicate flower which must be cautiously cared for and protected from the harsh elements of ‘human weather.’” — Elle Nicolai

Creativity is not a talent. Creativity is a drive.
cartoon by Hugh MacLeod aka gapingvoid

My personal weather is stormy and my circumstances rocky, making crashing common. A safe harbor is what I want. Just as my home-tel is a haven in a shared existence, my virtual world needs a corner of its own. I thrive on, and in, the social spaces yet want someplace to collect what I’m doing there. My creative drive coupled with the desire to share what I’ve already created makes an online home a must. To hell with the lack of settings, I’ve got enough setbacks of my own. (That’s the bad news.) If I can’t fix what’s broken, I’ll work around it; pretty damn appropriate given that’s what it’s like to live with chronic illness/es. My broken blog and spoonie self are going to make do then – emphasis on do.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

*Oscar Goldman is a science fiction reference, for you less nerdy than I, and I’m quoting The Six Million Dollar Man.

I post therefore I am.

I’ve been offline intermittently over the years, between health and connection issues, despite having an online presence for over two decades. I marvel at what keeping any of those early sites would have resulted in, archive-wise if nothing else. I have saved bits and pieces of my writing over the years though I’ve lost my old originals along with far too much digital data, yet I’m determined to not only stay online going forward but to create a record of what's left.

That goal requires borrowing my Hunny’s MacBook as I’m able and finally getting our own internet access again which we’re about to do.. We’ve lived in our latest home-tel for six months now and determined we can’t move readily so can justify the expense at last, in no small part due to reallocating our budget. It’s been a tough wait and it’s not quite over so the next few weeks will be spent anxiously awaiting our U-verse installation amidst reclaiming said online presence.

Thus this post; proof that I exist! ^_^

construction cats, source unknown