Evolving – A Continuous Process

The Shadow Knows

by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis

In 1930 a radio show began that was a mainstay in the United States for 24 years. At one time, one of the most famous voices in radio was The Shadow – Orson Welles: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” The Shadow could read minds and become invisible. He solved mysteries. He was a pretty talented guy with a great speaking voice. Although this is the not the Shadow of our discussion, we are going to address some of that evil that lurks.

In some cultures the misinformation of others’ opinions (especially those we absorbed during early childhood) that cements itself into our minds is called “personal demons.” In others these are considered to be the lies that turn the beautiful dreams of our lives into nightmares. According to some, this is our internal judge that was created by those around us who told us the lies (according to the Toltec belief system). In others still, all the garbage that is fed to us by others, that trails around with us making us feel self-conscious, useless, self-destructive, insignificant, unattractive, unintelligent, stripping us of our self-esteem and making us think that we are less than what we are is known as Shadow. All the misconceptions and hatred that others fed to us come back to us because our subconscious believed it. It was said so it must be true. That’s how the subconscious works. It is emotional baggage that we drag around day after day, year after weary year. It is the albatross that wraps itself around our necks and will not release its claws. It stunts our growth. It stops us from reaching our full potential. It makes us think that we are less than what we are and, consequently, could be. It holds people in the cycle of poverty. It stops the budding new artist from eventually becoming “The Old Master.” It slows progress as the inventor believes that his invention is as inferior as he is, and thus the invention is never marketed. It creates deep depressions and manic behaviors. It makes us fear public reprisal in return for our speaking out about our convictions. It stunts us and the world around us. Many things that were said to you in anger or frustration still lurk deep in your mind, down in your heart, swirling in your soul. Who knows what evil lurks? The Shadow surely does for it holds all the evil ever spoken about us and all the indications that were ever given to us by our parents, siblings, teachers, peers, spouses, and kids that we were inferior, less than a person, not good enough, not appealing and on and on and on. Sort of gives a new and darker meaning to the song, “Me and my Shadow.”

How many times have you reflected upon an uncomfortable situation, reliving the drivel that made you feel miserable, hearing the words that caused you pain over and over again, making you feel terrible about yourself repeatedly? Once is not enough for many of us. We can’t let go of the old hurt. We are unable to detach from the scene and instead put it on a never-ending loop so that we increase our feelings of distress and further impress upon our subconscious minds how very inferior we are. Some of us are absolute experts at this process and can go back 50 years to self-destructive instances we can clearly remember to say nothing of all those times that we just incorporated someone else’s toxic thinking into our heads beginning before clear memory. Our masochism seems to know no bounds.

There’s a scene in Peter Pan where his shadow becomes detached from him, and he returns to the Darlings’ house to retrieve it. He takes some time and trouble to attempt reattachment before Wendy sews it back on for him. Ah, if it were that easy to dump my Shadow there’d be no sewing going on at my house. However, this is real life; and we should deal with our Shadows swiftly and effectively. Time to grab your emotional sword and start hacking away with deft blows and holy vengeance.

Remember that evil spoken about us is not necessarily our evil. We’ve all tried to console a broken-hearted friend by telling them that what someone else said told a lot about the speaker and not about the person who was the brunt of the comment. Like many other things in life, it’s a lot easier to say than it is to convince ourselves of the truth when we are on the receiving end of abuse. However, there are ways to rid ourselves of the gunk and crud. One is to set aside at least an hour of peaceful time when you will not be disturbed. First, thank whatever power you believe in (even if the only power you believe in is yourself) for having created you. You are, after all, the only you there is. You have a special group of talents and abilities that no one else has. Now, give yourself your consent to be honest. Tell yourself aloud that you have nothing to hide and that you are able to look at yourself without the mud that has been slung your way. You are clean and new and ready to start out in a better direction. Now take some paper and a writing instrument of choice and write down all your good qualities. Put them in the form of affirmative statements such as: I am beautiful. I am smart. I am helpful to others. I’m a good cook. I’m a good mother. I’m a loving and faithful wife. Keep the sentences short and to the point. Use the entire hour – time yourself. If you run out of nice things to say, repeat some. That may get you thinking about some other great qualities that you forgot about yourself. After this part of the exercise you deserve a nice bubble bath – indulge.

Next, construct an email and send it to your friends. Here is the text. Feel free to copy and paste it and send out:

ONE Word
Describe ME in ONE Word . . . just one word! Send it to me only, then send this message to your friends and see how many strange things people say about you! This could be fun! Just hit reply and send me my one word back. Then forward this message on to your friends (including me) and see what they say about you!

I’ve seen this exercise on Facebook as well, and it’s not quite the same as the email version since the responses are plastered on the internet. Copy and paste this text onto Facebook:

Describe ME in ONE Word . . . just one word! Put it in the comments below, then copy and paste this message into your status and see how many strange things people say about you! This could be fun!

The responses I got back made me feel special. I was better able to see me through the eyes of others. You see, it’s very easy for someone to say something rotten and nasty out of anger. It is very difficult to give someone a heart-felt compliment. This is human nature. We are all guilty of the same things. So don’t sit and feel sorry for yourself because everyone is human. Just go get the list of good things about you and add the positive, descriptive words from you friends to it. Unless you truly are an ogre and need to change your name to Shrek, your friends will give you a better picture of what you portray to the world.

The last thing you need to do is to forgive everyone whom you think wronged you — all those creeps who put you down and made you feel unworthy. By the way, that includes you. Yes, you. Another aspect of human nature is that we are our own worst critics. Of course, if you are an egomaniac this may not hold true, but your one word responses to your email should give credence to the fact that you need more work than one magazine-length article could possibly supply if that’s the case. Most of us do not fall into that category; and, frankly, anyone with a highly inflated ego would have stopped reading this somewhere during the second paragraph. They would not ever believe that someone could feel inconsequential because of a comment from another person. If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to forgive and get over it. Let go of the muck. It isn’t worth hanging on to. If you had a rotten tomato in your hand, would you carry it around with you for a while, a day, a week, a month, a year? NO! What would that do for you? The junk that was told to you that made you feel bad is nothing more than a rotten tomato –THROW IT AWAY! It’s drippy and it stinks.

It’s now time for another bath. Light a couple of candles and turn off the electric lights in the bathroom. Use your favorite scent of bath oil, essential oil(s), soap, bath salts or whatever pleases you. My personal favorite is lemongrass essential oil. Play your favorite type of relaxing music. Lounge in the tub for a bit and then bathe. As you do, imagine all the gunk that settled in your mind, heart and soul over the years being wash out of you. Lie back in the tub and visualize all the gray and dirty brown goo seeping from your pores and collecting in the bath water near the drain. Watch the water wash the darkness from your soul. When you feel that you’ve released as much crud as you have inside, pull the plug, and remain in the tub until all the water and that negative gunk have gone down the drain. Start fresh. It’s a new you. Be the best you that you can be.

To purchase the purest oils available, click here.

Live well!
© Bobbi Curtis 2015


Feelings of Superiority


by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis

As humans, we look around and see what we have invented, what we have built, what we do each and every day that no other type of earthly creature has ever done nor can do.  We are full our abilities and full of ourselves.  We are the mighty, the brilliant, the powerful.  Look at the technology we have at our fingertips – we can even control time, well, to some degree.  Our TV’s will now pause and replay what is happening in real time, so we’re getting there.  We can go to sites where we can map our trips and see actual satellite photos of the terrain through which we will drive as we do so, not a map that was drawn by a person.  We see the real thing – mountains, rivers, buildings, even cars and trucks on the road we will be traveling.  The list is virtually endless.  Each time we conceive of something, another greater accomplishment looms in the very near future.   (Oh, but we haven’t cured the Common Cold because think of how much money the pharmaceutical companies would lose every year if they could no longer sell all those multitudes of symptom-treating chemicals . . . or cancer, or diabetes, or AIDS, or – OK, that list is just about endless too.)

Although this is not an essay on religion or spirituality, it seems necessary to mention that, in the Western Culture, these feelings of superiority have been fostered by the religions that hold a grip on the largest numbers of the populace.  The first five books of the Christian Bible are also the Torah, or written law, of the Judaic belief system.  Islam also shares these books, although they claim that the books have been corrupted by man, they are, nonetheless, the basis of that belief system as well.  These three major world religions follow the same god (here left in lower case since the name of the god differs due to language differences) and the same basic beliefs/laws.  In the Book of Genesis (Bereishith), the first chapter, twice man is instructed to “ . . . ‘rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” (Gen. 1:26 NAS)  “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Gen. 1:28 NAS).  Is it any wonder that our nature, after all these years, has been bent toward this feeling of superiority?  As a side note, we see to what this philosophy has brought us.  Take a look at the air that hangs over our major communities.  If memory serves, we’re not supposed to be able to see the air.  We are forced in many places to filter our water and the bottled water industry is thriving.  I don’t know about you, but after having been raised when you could go to a local swimming hole and not worry about any adverse consequences, I’m now disinclined to swim in anything but a chlorinated pool these days.  We have introduced so many chemicals into our food sources that they are no longer safe to eat.  I’m not so sure we’ve done so well with that ruling over everything stuff.  What do you think?

What intrigues me is that as we move through the years, and our inventions become more and more complex and machines perform more and more of our daily functions, we feel more and more superior.  It would seem to me that this is not the case and that the reverse is true.  Step into my time machine and see what makes me think so.  Let us go back to the early 1600’s (barely 400 years ago).  With the knowledge you have today and with no help from the other pilgrims, how long do you think you’d survive in the wilderness of Plymouth had you been on the Mayflower?  How are you going to eat?  How do you know which plants are poisonous or not?  How are you going to clothe yourself in order not to die of exposure?  The winters are more than just a little cold.  How are you going to build shelter?  What tools would you have at your disposal?  Do you know how to use them, or make them?  There is no A&P, no Macy’s, no Ace Hardware.  Good luck!

We also seem to think that we have become more intelligent over time.  We look back in awe that someone could figure out how to build a pyramid.  Some have even tendered the idea that outer space creatures must have come to earth and aided in the building of many of our most magnificent ancient structures.  This implies that we assume that, a few thousand years ago, people were not intelligent enough to figure out how to cut rocks and put them strategically on top of each other.  Why do we think that stone carving is something that must be done by machine in order for it to be done well?

Personally, I’m in awe of the fact that the ancients lived long enough to procreate.  But, instead, they developed language, math, astrology, astronomy, medicine, architecture, science, art, music, textiles, monetary systems, laws, religions, philosophy, business techniques, etc., etc., etc.  We have no reason to think that we are more intelligent today than man was several thousand years ago.  What we have is more knowledge (in some cases).  What we’ve done is to build upon what the last generations left for us.  This does not superiority make.  Also, we do not control nature.  When she sends us a big, fat storm, run!  When she sends us a big, fat wave, run!  When her winds pick up cars, trucks and houses, run!  How superior are we?

I feel it an absolute necessity to mention here that there are spiritual belief systems that do not proclaim the superiority of man (humans).  They teach that everything is an integrated whole.  Nature (the Earth) is believed to be a living, breathing entity and that all upon her are connected.  When any of Earth’s beings, including the Earth itself is harmed, then all upon her are harmed as well.  This connectivity disallows any feelings of superiority.

Live well!

© Bobbi Curtis 2015


 

DEFINING YOURSELF


by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis

They (whoever “they” are) say, “Always be yourself?”  Sometimes “they” are wrong.  Sometimes “they” are a little loony.  In this case, however, “they” are absolutely correct.  Being yourself not only means that you do not have to put on a façade everywhere you go, but it means that you do not have to change facades in mid-stream when you happen across someone from another walk of your life at a time when you did not expect it.  This means that you do not have to remember a lie.  Not being yourself is a lie, a cover-up.  It can get so bad with some that they begin to believe the lie, and they lose themselves entirely in a pseudo-self, never finding satisfaction nor being happy inside their own skin.  At worst, there are a few impressive sounding psychoses, which may endanger a person’s quality of life to the point of spending one’s days weaving baskets in the nice, white building with the nice nurses issuing tranquilizers and the nice, young men in the white coats.  At the very least one lives an empty life, not quite fulfilled, not quite satisfied, not quite happy, not quite comfortable.

When we are true to ourselves, living and acting in a manner which reflects our inner lights and our Higher Selves, we can find satisfaction from within, no matter how much we may hate our jobs (hopefully it still puts food on the table) or are not quite satisfied with the ’87 Dodge which we are forced to drive or the tacky apartment in which we must raise our three kids alone because that skunk of a husband took off with a stripper.  Yep, I’m making a point.  This will not make you thin, rich or desirable to every man who lays eyes on you.  It will, however, help you make life choices that are suited to you and help you to understand yourself.

One of our biggest challenges is to know ourselves.  So, who are you?  You are not your job.  You are not your house or your car.  You are not just a “mother of three”.  It’s not your religion; it’s not your clothes or your makeup; it’s not your clean (or dirty) house. WHO ARE YOU?  What makes you tick?  What makes you laugh or cry?  What are your goals, aspirations, dreams?  Who you are is not what you do or what you have.  It’s how you do it; why you do it; how you feel about it; and what you “want to be when you grow up”.  Here’s a way to help define yourself.

Get paper and pen (pencil if that’s part of who you are), or pop up Word (if that’s how you like to write), and answer a few questions.  You can read them from the screen and write your answers.  You can copy and paste them into Word or other word processing program and type your answers – whatever YOUR heart desires.  It’s all about you right now, so let’s get started.  One reminder, though – steer clear of the thought pattern that starts out:  I’m a mother of 2, I do this or that (unless what you do really does help define you – some are lucky enough to have their dream jobs), and my husband is a lawyer, teacher, bum – whatever.  Now, let’s begin.

  1. What motivates you?
  2. What do you contribute to your church (not money), your community, your peers at work, your home, your family, the lives of others?
  3. What obstacles have you had to overcome?
  4. What sets you apart from others?
  5. Are you honest with yourself?  If not, why not?
  6. How do you want people to describe you?
  7. What brings tears to your eyes?
  8. What makes you laugh out loud?
  9. If you could do anything you want what would it be?
  10. Why are you not doing what you want to do?  What is stopping you from doing it?
  11. How would you rate your general satisfaction?
  12. List your talents.
  13. Which of the talents that you have do you think are the most important?
  14. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  15. Are you doing it?  If not, why not?  Is it a good thing?
  16. What has been one defining moment in your life – do not use your marriage, divorce or birth(s) of your child(ren)?
  17. Are you happy in your skin?  If not, why not?  If it’s something that is changeable, what do you have to do to make it happen?
  18. Write your own epitaph.  What are you not yet doing to make it true?
  19. Do you have abilities/talents that you aren’t using?
  20. What is your best attribute?
  21. What is it about you that you like the most?
  22. If you had time and money to do what you want for three months, what would it be?
  23. How do you handle stress?  Are you satisfied with your stress control or lack of it?  What do you need to change if anything?
  24. How do you handle adversity?  Are you satisfied with your adversity management style?  What do you need to change if anything?

Now, read your answers again.  Does this help you define you?  If you’re curious about what others think of you, send your friends and family an email asking them to describe you in one word.  The descriptive words you get back will help you know how others see you.  ONE WORD OF WARNING:  If someone is rude enough to respond with a vehement negative, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT TAKE IT TO HEART.  It could be a bad joke.  Consider the source.  Consider yourself.  Is the comment true, half true or an outright lie?  Even if it’s a lie, it could say a lot about you.  It could be saying that you have some good qualities of which this person is jealous.  Be honest with yourself, and you’ll know how to take and use the comment.

At this point, you should have a better idea of who you are – what defines you.   You may have also run across a few things that you want to work on within yourself.  If that has happened, make a list of those things and begin a strategy of improvement – slowly.  Keep your answers and review both your progress and changes every couple of months (more often if you’d like).  Remember that you are growing and changing every moment of every day, and you can make conscious decisions to move in specific directions.

Be kind to yourself.  Respect yourself.

Be well.

© Bobbi Curtis 2015


YOUR BEST


by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis

We all know that doing our best should be a regular practice.  We have our lazy days, though, when we feel that we can slide by with a little less than 100%.  We come up with all sorts of excuses for not doing our best.  We blame everybody else . . . the kids kept me up late; the dog barked all morning and then puked on the carpet right before I had to leave the house; I’m having a bad hair day.  We decide that 99% will do.

I’m going to get squarely to the point (I guess that would be a pyramid).  There are over 7 million surgeries performed each year in the U.S. alone.  70,000 of them would be lawyers’ delights if surgeons went by the “99% Is OK” rule.  Over 2.6 million head of cattle are inspected each year before they go to slaughter and end up on your dinner table.  That means 28 million pounds of beef that are not fit for dog food would be sold for human consumption each year if the inspectors all decided that “We Can Get by with That”.  If 10 million computers are built and sold annually, then 100,000 non-functional computers would be in stores and on-line for us to purchase.  If pharmacists lived by the “That’s Good Enough” philosophy, then 30 million of the 3 billion prescriptions filled in the past year would be incorrect.  Over 50 million cars came off assembly lines from August of 2003 to July of 2004.  The 99% rule says that 500,000 would be defective.

Imagine the poor slob who sits down for a glorious T-bone, which is more difficult than usual to cut and chew, becoming violently ill a few hours later from the tainted meat.  He turns on his computer to see if there is any news concerning bad beef in his community, but the jacked up piece of crap gives him nothing but the blue screen of death.  He then jumps in his new car, puking all the way, turns the key and . . . pop, splat, fizzle; it dies halfway down the driveway.  His neighbor kindly takes him to the ER where, instead of pumping his stomach, they cut off his left foot.  When he comes to, instead of the nurse giving him the pain pill that the doctor ordered, the pharmacist put a blood thinner in the little, white paper cup.  He swallows it and an hour later his brand new stump is bleeding like a fountain.

I was going to quote religious philosophy from Christianity to Zen Buddhism and give references to several motivational speakers, but I decided it really wasn’t necessary.  You tell me – is Good Enough Good Enough?

By the way, according to the article “Prescription Errors Rising” at ConsumerAffairs.com, the number of prescription drug errors annually is 5%, not just 1%; and those errors are the cause of about 7,000 deaths each year.

© Bobbi Curtis 2009


The Lessons We Refuse to Learn

by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis

We’ve heard the cliché that we must play with the hand life deals to us. This is true in some regards. Most women who are 5’3” don’t have much chance to play professional basketball. Those with an average IQ are not often asked to join a think tank and work on world problems. Many other examples come to mind, but the point is that we do each have certain limitations by which our lives are governed to some degree. However, if you find yourself continually being stopped, hampered or made miserable by a specific, recurring dilemma, especially if you find yourself saying, “Oh, for God’s sake, not this same garbage again!” then it’s probably time to look more deeply within.

There are two laws of physics that apply here: the law of cause and effect and a very important law that says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” (Newton’s Third Law). Several Eastern religions call these basic scientific principles “karma”. One of the reasons that I write is my belief that we all need to be in a continuous state of evolution – learning, growing, changing, becoming better beings, in short, evolving. Part of the evolutionary process includes learning from our own mistakes. This requires the ability to be honest with ourselves and to see and to begin to understand ourselves better. “Soul-searching” is one of the older catch phrases, and the word “karma” has become better understood and much used in Western culture in the last several years. The act of being responsible for one’s own actions fits here as well.

Karma is, at its very base, the law of cause and effect. If Mary puts her hand in a flame, she will get burned. If George writes checks for more money than he has in his bank account, checks will bounce. We must suffer the consequences of your actions – simple, right? Actually, yes, it’s that simple. I think that one of the most interesting interpretations of this is The Definition of Insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Unfortunately, we humans tend to suffer from this form of insanity for most of our natural lives. We tend to wander through, doing what we do, and learning little about ourselves. It’s high time we put some effort into our evolutionary development. I don’t know how much the rest of you have noticed, but there may not be much time left . . . but that is material for a future article.

I implore you each to begin to take responsibility for your own actions. If you are having difficulties that happen to you repeatedly, then you must look to yourself to see what it is that you keep doing that is making it necessary for the lessons to repeat themselves – they will repeat until you learn the desired lesson. If we each are to grow and learn as we age, then this is an absolutely crucial step.

Something else before closing – love each other, respect the Earth and her beings, do what you know in your heart to be right, be the best you can be, and . . .

Live well.

© Bobbi Curtis 2015


Maybe That’s the Best They Can Do

by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis

It is said that we should be careful for what we ask that we might just get it. Here is another that bears watching. Be careful of negative feelings toward people we dislike, for we or someone we love might just turn into that person. It has happened many times in my life and has been mentioned to me by friends and acquaintances on far too many occasions to be ignored.

We live a world full of all kinds of people. We make the excuse that, “It takes all kinds,” when we attempt to slough off the bad feelings that are welling up when a person says or does something evil either to us or to someone we like or love. This is especially true when we are trying to console or calm our friend or loved one when they’ve been hurt or infuriated by one of the Neanderthals with whom we must interact. However, care should be taken if/when we begin to obsess or complain too much about those who are highly rude, unusually inconsiderate or downright nasty. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

The first comes from my own repertoire. I’ve been married a few times (unsuccessfully) and have had a couple of sort of long term, serious relationships. As these relationships were playing themselves out, I found that there existed some role reversals. If husband number two had driven me crazy by procrastinating, then I would make husband number three suffer over my procrastination. If husband number three was ultra-critical, then husband number four had better look out. The scathing remarks were going to be fired off without warning. This did not occur on purpose, but I certainly began to see trends. I don’t now think that it was a subconscious attempt on my part to pay someone back through another. Occasionally I would be right in the middle of the mess I’d helped create and say to myself, “I’ve turned into my ex-husband!” The dismay was overwhelming at times. As these instances repeated themselves, I began to learn a little more understanding for others. It helps to see things from many angles – especially when one has the opportunity to be both a receiver and a sender.

I think this is the most pointed example I’ve heard. While she was growing up, a friend’s mother had often told her, “If I every start to act like your grandmother [the mother-in-law – shudder and shake], shoot me dead!” Grandma was a miserable person. Since she didn’t like peaches, her granddaughter should not like peaches. She’d turn her nose up in disgust and make an ugly face if Shelley ate a peach in front of her and then stalk off to another room. Shelley, undaunted, would follow her into the other room and make a big deal out of enjoying the peach. Grandma pronounced words wrong. For instance, one of her favorite TV shows was Gunsmoke. Even though she never missed an episode and heard the name at the start of every single show, she insisted that the male lead character’s name was Matt Dilling – correct name, Matt Dillon. Oregano was oregana. The list is relatively endless. Since Shelley had been taught the importance of correct grammar and rules of speech and pronunciation, this drove her well over the edge.

Her grandmother had lots of friends. Many of her friends knew each other. She’d tell each friend that the other one had said something horrible about the other woman. These people became mortal enemies, never to speak to each other again. The old bat remained friends with both women and commiserated with both of them about how horribly their other once-mutual friend had treated them, fueling the fire if it looked like they might make up.

Grandma had an attic full of old crap that she thought was made of 24-karate gold. In an attempt to start an argument between mother and daughter, she would promise the stuff to the mother and the same stuff to Shelley. Little did she know that neither one of them was interested in her junk.

When she watched something educational on television, she’d immediately begin to explain it to everyone in the room backwards and inside out. One thing that particularly drove Shelley nuts was the way she read all the signs along the highway when they were driving along. They had all moved to Salt Lake City from the east coast. There are signs along the interstate telling where the exits are to get to the lake. The signs say, “The Great Salt Lake Next Exit.” This would bring on a lecture from Grandma about “these people who think this place is so great, and it’s just big, dirty and disgusting.” Every time this occurred, Shelley would explain that the signs were not referring to the city but to the lake, and it’s proper name is The Great Salt Lake. However, that never stopped the tirade every time they passed those signs.

Grandma would sit in Shelley’s mom’s kitchen, after having moved in with her son and daughter-in-law, spouting recipes although she never picked up a pot or pan to cook anything; and everything that the mother cooked was criticized throughout every meal. I met the woman and experienced this first-hand on more than one occasion. She would screw up her face as though she’d just ingested something out of a cat’s litter box and loudly pronounce that, “This is the worst meal I’ve ever had.” By the way, Mom’s cooking was great. As is typical in most sit-coms, her daughter-in-law could do absolutely nothing right (think Marie Barone as played by Doris Roberts in Everybody Loves Raymond); but, in her own mind, she was kind and considerate of others’ feelings. My, she would never think of being rude or critical! She would never say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings. Fact: She was rude, critical, and stupid. Fact:  Her granddaughter couldn’t stand to be around her from an early age. The older Shelley got the more she detested her grandmother. Another fact:  As the mother in this scenario grew older, she turned into her mother-in-law – right down to facial expressions, the set and stony jaw, and the crossed legs and folded arms that marked the ends of opinionated monologues.

Discussion over! The only person in the room who knew anything about what was being discussed was Mom, now turned Grandma right down to mispronouncing the word “oregano”; and no one had better open a mouth to dispute her final word. You see, she knew it all and no one else knew anything. This was NOT the woman who’d reared Shelley.

Several years after her mother passed on, it occurred to Shelley that this might have been meant as a learning experience for her. She loathed her grandmother long after her death. Dealing with her mother after the transformation was difficult at best. She had done her best to stay out of arguments with her mom and just ignore most of the annoying mannerisms. She decided that she needed to forgive her grandmother’s poor behavior and remember her mother as the kind and loving person she’d been, instead of the pain in the rear that she’d become.

Carrying around hateful thoughts and mean emotional baggage just might heap some coals of fire upon us. Condemning someone who doesn’t know any better doesn’t do us any good. My mother’s closest friend was probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. Mom tells a story of them driving along when a poorly maintained car pulled up beside them. My mother, being overly critical by nature, commented on the shabby shape the car was in and questioned what kind of person would have the nerve to drive around in something like that. Her sweet friend’s soft-spoken response was, “Maybe that’s the best they can do.”

Be well.

© Bobbi Curtis 2015


I AM IN AWE

by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis

I recently received the following email again from several of my friends – friends who do not know each other.  It started its run on the Internet early in the Iraq war and has resurfaced.

IRAQ – VERY INTERESTING – DID YOU KNOW?

  1. The Garden of Eden was in Iraq.
  2. Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of civilization!
  3. Noah built the ark in Iraq.
  4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.
  5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!
  6. Isaac’s wife Rebekah is from Nahor, which is in Iraq.
  7. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.
  8. Jonah preached in Nineveh – which is in Iraq.
  9. Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the ten tribes of Israel.
  10. Amos cried out in Iraq!
  11. Babylon, which is in Iraq, destroyed Jerusalem.
  12. Daniel was in the lion’s den in Iraq!
  13. The three Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq (Jesus had been in Iraq also as the fourth person in the fiery furnace).
  14. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon, saw the ‘writing on the wall’ in Iraq.
  15. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews captive into Iraq.
  16. Ezekiel preached in Iraq.
  17. The wise men were from Iraq.
  18. Peter preached in Iraq.
  19. The ‘Empire of Man’ described in Revelation is called Babylon, which was a city in Iraq!

You have probably seen this one. Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq! However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible. The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia. The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers, more exactly between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The name Iraq means country with deep roots. Indeed Iraq is a country with deep roots and is a very significant country in the Bible. No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated with it than Iraq. This is something to think about! Since America is typically represented by an eagle, Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages. The following verse is from the Koran, (the Islamic holy book):

Koran (9:11) – For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace.

Note the verse number. Hmmmmmmm?! God bless you all, Amen!”

I made numerous corrections to the text and deleted the threat at the end concerning breaking the chain because I could not reprint it in good conscience otherwise. At first, I was mildly amazed that others found all this information new and enlightening. It rather made me wonder what some people were doing in World History class. I did not stop to look up all the Biblical references (at least one of which is a bit loosely interpreted), but I was still stupefied that it appeared that folks in the US just don’t seem to understand that the Middle East has been fighting over the same small piece of land since before recorded history and that every Western European and Middle Eastern “religious” war for centuries has also involved that same piece of land that is claimed by more than three major religions.

Abraham – of both Judeo-Christian and Islamic fame – had two sons by two different wives. The Tribes of Israel are descendants of one half-brother. The other half-brother is the forefather of the Arabic/Islamic group. So, in essence, this is a family feud, which we are still fighting today – after how many generations [typed with eyes crossed]?

I have read a bit about the Islamic religion, its history and its values. The teachings of Islam match those of the Judeo-Christian faiths in amazing ways. For the sake of the point of this article, both religions call their God “the God of our fathers” and each purports that their God is the one and only God. Please correct me if my knowledge of family trees is wrong, but if two family lines can trace their lineage back to the same guy, then the God of which each of these religions speaks is the SAME GOD. Since there are restrictions in the Jewish faith about pronouncing the name of their God, I’ll enter it here as YHVH in an effort not to offend.  Some Christian groups call the deity Jehovah.  The God of Islam is generally called Allah or Al-ilah.  In all three religions, though, this deity is known as the God of Abraham.  Keep in mind that names are different in different languages. If my name were Peter in England, and I moved to Mexico, people there would call me Pedro, but that does not change me in any way. I would still be me. Calling a deity a different name because of a difference in linguistics does not change the deity.

One could ramble at length concerning the stupidity of the war that never ends. However, suppose that The God of Their Forefathers really has mandated this war, and it’s really not just a human greed and jealousy issue. Maybe this is the way that this deity has chosen to punish his people for their transgressions. Maybe it is His way of ridding the Earth of those who have not lived as He ordained. Could we still be paying for Abraham’s sin of taking a second wife? That is, after all, how this got started, according to the traditional stories passed down by word of mouth before they were written into the holy books by which these religions operate. Is it time to look at this for what it is and begin a new way – the way of love that was the original mandate from The One, no matter what name you apply?

I checked the reference to the Qur’an from the email that I got repeatedly. 9:11 reads thus: “If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, they shall become your brothers in the Faith. Thus do We make plain Our revelations to men of Knowledge.” I see no comparison.  Unless I have issues understanding words, this passage seems to me to say that if anyone shows contrition in regard to their sins, prays and gives the religious entity the proper amount of charitable donation then they shall be accepted and treated as members of the faith.  The passage that went wild around the Internet, which is reprinted above, says something entirely different and is a farce. It is propaganda. It is a lie. I can guess at the intention of the writer, but it would have made far more sense to tell the truth. Making a bad situation appear to be a prophecy from God is a sacrilege in any religion — it’s called deception, something that is frowned upon by The God of the Fathers. This email should incense American citizens, not give us a false sense of superiority.  The email makes it seem as though we are simply living out some prophecy of long ago, giving credence to being bullies — something else that makes Jehovah scowl in displeasure.

I am befuddled, though. How did I receive this same email (within the space of four days) from five different people who do not know each other? How is it that information can travel through so many hands so quickly and not have someone fact check a bit? I read an email about growing older a few months ago. I also received it from several people who do not know each other. It referenced the hula hoop and indicated that it was around in the 1920’s as if that were the time of its invention.  Hooping dates back to the ancient Greeks.  British sailors noticed in the 1800’s how similar the hooping motion was to the hula dances of the Hawaiian Islanders and the name “hula hoop” was introduced.  The plastic version of the hoop was mass produced in 1958 as a toy and the name “hula hoop” was trademarked by Wham-O at that time. This is, of course, a far less radical “mistake” than misquoting a holy book; but, just as another example, I looked it up out of curiosity. It took me less than a minute to find out what I wanted to know. Yet, none of the folks who sent me that email mentioned that it was in error. We live in an age where information is but a few clicks away; and, although we take our time to read and send these emails to our friends and families, do we ever question their veracity? Do we ever wonder who wrote them and from where the information came? Are we curious enough to take one more step and see if what we are reading and sending is of real value? The Internet is truly a miracle. Are we using it for its intended purpose – The Information Superhighway? I am in awe.

Think. Question everything. Be well. Be informed. Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear. Investigate and learn. Grow and evolve. Become more than who you are right now.

Blessed be.

© Bobbi Curtis 2014

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