Posted by: Laura Carter | July 28, 2019

Sacred Space

meditation, stones, pond,prayerHey y’all, it’s Sunday and time for a little reflection regarding sacred space.

A sacred place is, first of all, a defined place, a space distinguished from other spaces… A sacred place focuses attention on the forms, objects, and actions in it and reveals them as bearers of religious meaning. Encyclopedia.com

Sacred space is any space or area that has been dedicated to a sacred (holy) purpose. An emphasis on sacred space is found in all of the world’s religions and traditions and they all have places set aside as holy, that they use for worship, prayer, and important rituals. The School of Magical Living

Many of the definitions I found on the internet tie sacred space to a specific religious meaning or place. But I like to think it’s simpler than that. A physical sacred place may allow you to reach the ethereal sacred inside yourself.  It’s not necessary to be associated with any religious ritual. It’s just spiritual in and of itself.

When I think of sacred space, I think of experiencing moments where the world seems to stand still and the cosmos aligns itself in perfect harmony.  These experiences might last for a few seconds or several minutes.  But, before the gears of chaos engage again, I always have the overwhelming feeling “Woo-hoo, life is good!”

aiea heightsWhen I was in my early teens, we lived in a house located next to a state park on top of Aiea Heights, Oahu, Hawaii.  I would hike by myself up the trail to sit on a patch of green grass beneath a big evergreen tree that overlooked Pearl Harbor and the ‘Punchbowl’ Cemetery. Even at a young age, I knew this place was a conduit to the spiritual. The view alone is enough for anyone to appreciate their innermost sacredness.

In my twenties, music was the vehicle for many a trip. I’ll never forget the time I was laying on the floor listening to Emerson, Lake and Palmer through headphones. I’m sure I was transporting somewhere groovy until I opened my eyes at the end of side one and there were two Doberman Pinchers staring me in the face.

 

As an adult, I enjoy sitting by the pool. Watching the clouds drift by, listening to the birds, I feel my body and soul warming, the tension washing away, and I experience “the eternal happiness of the spotless mind.”

Oh, I could go on, but I encourage you to find your own path to a sacred space whether it is physical or metaphysical.

Posted by: Laura Carter | July 23, 2019

Waiting with Strangers

The older you get the more time you spend in doctors’ offices. Plus, because I volunteer for an organization that facilitates rides to medical appointments for seniors who cannot drive, I am sometimes left sitting in doctors’ offices for long periods of time.

Most waiting rooms are solemn places with ailing strangers crowded together at a sort of sad party that no one wanted to get invited to, but here we are.

There used to be loud television news or game shows to keep everyone occupied or annoyed. In the past several years, I noticed there were more of the ‘made for the doctor office’ healthy living themed programs. Still…

Today I took a client to a busy orthopedic physician’s office. No TV at all—yay! The room seemed the very ideal of diversity with patients, and those accompanying them, spanning a variety of ages and ethnicities. I wasn’t checking genders.

Instead of the usual stoic silence of strangers, everyone in the office was engaging with their neighbors. “What surgery did you have and how did it go?” “I like your fancy walker.” “Where did you get your hair done?” “What are you reading, is that an e-book?” I swear I’ve never heard such friendly conversations before in a waiting room.  And, the whole room turned over at least once while I was waiting, but the conversation mode stayed lit.

I found this delightful in lieu of all the divisive and unfriendly banter in the news and on social media. No one was telling anyone to go back to from whence they came, arguing politics or evangelizing—my own personal pet peeve.

While I was waiting for the client to finish her appointment, I had a good conversation with a gentleman, with painful knees, talking about the new opioid rules and regs that have put some folks at a disadvantage.  I shared with him the phone number of a nonprofit that could maybe hook him up with a ride instead of the usual city van service that took so long to pick him up when he is ready to go home.

It was all reaffirming somehow—that humans can really still be nice to each other. It gave me hope.

I still hate waiting though, nothing can cure that.

In San Antonio, you can volunteer with Northeast Senior Assistance (NESA) 

Posted by: Laura Carter | June 15, 2019

The Future looks a lot like now

I recently rediscovered the amazingly good science fiction novels by Jack McDevitt. I’d read a number of his books published in 2000-2012. His stories specifically interested me because they were action loaded, pithy, and plausible–in a sci-fi kind of way. The Priscilla Hutchins series starred a strong female character, which I like as well. space

Now as I re-read them in order, I see that almost 20 years ago he was telling the far-away future, with insights that are still quite relevant today. The following are some quotes that made me think he could have written these stories last week.

“There’d been studies over the years supporting the proposition that groups composed exclusively of women usually made intelligent decisions, that exclusively male groups did a bit less well, and that mixed groups did most poorly of all, by a substantial margin. It appeared that, when women were present, testosterone got the upper hand and men took greater risks than they might otherwise. Correspondingly, women in the mixed group tended to revert to roles, becoming more passive, and going along with whatever misjudgment the males might perpetrate.” Chindi (The Academy series (Priscilla Hutchins) Book 3) by Jack McDevitt

“There is, he’d said, an inverse correlation between the amount of power a person has and the level at which his or her mind functions. A person of ordinary intelligence who acquires power, of whatever kind, tends to develop an exaggerated view of his own capabilities. Sycophants gather. There is little or no criticism of decisions. As his ability to disrupt the lives of others advances, these tendencies become stronger. Eventually you end with Louis the Fourteenth, who thinks he’s done a good job for France, although the country he left behind was ruined.” Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt

https___cdn.pixabay.com_photo_2018_08_29_04_20_planets-3639154_960_720“Freedom and idiots make a volatile mix. And the sad truth is that the idiocy quotient in the general population is alarmingly high.”

“It is not faith per se that creates the problem; it is conviction, the notion that one cannot be wrong, that opposing views are necessarily invalid and may even be intolerable.”  both attributed to Gregory MacAllister, “Downhill All the Way” in the book Odyssey (The Academy series(Priscilla Hutchins) novel Book 5) by Jack McDevitt

Posted by: Laura Carter | June 10, 2019

Advice in Four Words or Less

Today’s blog is a total Twitter rip-off. Thanks to Giles Paley-Phillips @eliistender10 for asking the question: Your best advice in four words or less.

This a fraction of the replies, but worthy of sharing.

Walter Shaub
@waltshaub
do the right thing
Art Thiel
@Art_Thiel

1. Don’t sweat petty things.
2. Don’t pet sweaty things. (h/t George Carlin)

Rogue EPA
@RogueEPAstaff
Don’t vote Republican 2020.

Patrick Leiser
@leiser_patrick
Even better: Don’t vote Republican ever

Rachel Wolfson
@wolfiecomedy
smoke weed every day

Cliff Jerrison
@pervocracy
Condoms, sunscreen, vaccines, seatbelts.
Posted by: Laura Carter | June 3, 2019

Vulture Zoo Ball

We went to the Zoo today and all I got were these pictures of vultures. Seriously they were hanging out in almost all the exhibits.

It was downright creepy.

Posted by: Laura Carter | April 29, 2019

Tall girl tells shrinking tale

So, I measured my height the other day. I have to say it was a shocking and somewhat depressing revelation to find out I am now just 5’7” tall. Although most of us upon reaching the senior citizen stage of life, understand that we shrink in height as we age and our vertebrae compress, sometimes getting squeezed out altogether. But, in a way it made me feel somewhat diminished.

Why did I take it so hard, you ask? At the age of 14, I was a 5’10” gangly girl. Quite outstanding at that time, I was head and shoulders above, not only the other girls but most of the boys as well. Try finding a dance partner when the dudes would be staring right into your budding bosom. Skinny legs and all, I was mostly in angst over this tall development.

Some of the most frequent questions: “Do you play basketball?”  Well, no. You kind of have to be coordinated to do that. Did I wear high heel shoes ever? Uh, no! Did pantyhose ever fit me?  No again.

At 20years old attending college in San Marcos, TX

I managed to grow into being a tall woman and tallness became less an issue making way for many other issues. In fact, I am sorry to lose that youthful part of me. And, I’m sure those three damn inches went into my hips.

Posted by: Laura Carter | April 21, 2019

Sunday Morning

Back when my husband Richard and I first got together, our respective children were very young. My son JB was 11, his daughters Maria was 6 going on 7 and Linda was 5. Every weekend we were challenged to find free or cheap activities to keep them occupied.

It wasn’t too hard 35 years ago to rent videos from Blockbuster, go to a ‘free day’ museum visit or head across town to the $1 movies. In the summer we spent lots of time at the apartment pool. Somehow we got into the habit of every Sunday morning heading out to Friedrich Wilderness Park.

We’d pile into our little Ford Fiesta with a bag of snacks and take a hike. This was the days before IH10 had Fiesta Texas theme park, the Rim and a s**t-ton of other developments.  We’d usually take the medium level trail. JB and Maria ran around the course leaving Richard, Linda and I in the dust. But, that was OK. We’d meet at the bottom and have our picnic.

Sitting on top of the tallest part of the trail–in the shed which was home to hundreds of daddy-long-leg spiders–I’d proclaim “This is our Sunday church. We should contemplate the beauty and be thankful.”

This Spring, Richard and I have been taking Sunday strolls around the San Antonio Botanical Gardens 

These are some of the pictures from today’s nature church visit.

Read more about my ideas about what Church means to me.

Posted by: Laura Carter | March 2, 2019

Memories–who you were, are and will be

What makes a memory anyway?  When people speak of ‘making memories’ I think they’re most likely alluding to a significant life event which will be remembered forever by the parties involved.  Sometimes I feel like my memory is a roll of the dice or maybe more like a pinball machine bouncing from bumper to bumper after each flip. It seems memories can be traumatic or trivial. My guess is it depends of the individual.

Scientifically speaking: One study at UCLA determined through research experimentsmemory-word-cloud “This link between reactivation of neurons in the hippocampus and conscious recall of past experience has been suspected and theorized for some time, but the study now provides direct evidence for such a link.  “In a way, then,” Dr. Fried said, “reliving past experience in our memory is the resurrection of neuronal activity from the past.” Seems rather unromantic, yes?

A How Stuff Works article says “Human memory is a complex, brain-wide process that is essential to who we are. Your “memory” is really made up of a group of systems that each play a different role in creating, storing, and recalling your memories.”

townes-and-me0001-2

Me and my brand new baby boy.

What have I forgotten? For many years I waxed nostalgic about my days during and after college when I lived in the great hippiedom of Austin, Texas.  Specific memories were apparent, but it was more a general recollection of a feeling of peace, freedom, music, and fun that carry these times around my brain.

Recently, I reconnected with two women friends from those years who lived in the same Austin neighborhood as I did on the outskirts of Clarksville. We were pregnant at the same time giving birth to babies, who through toddlerhood grew up as best friends.

In our reminiscing, I realized I had pushed a lot of memories from those days to the back of my mind. Because why? One explanation could be that I was no longer in touch with those folks with whom I could be remembering.  Also, because those were wild, unfettered times, it didn’t always seem like the best tales to tell.

Consequently, I became aware of meaningful parts of my life I had kept under my memory radar. I am grateful to those ‘historically significant’ friends who led me to recall and reembrace much of that part of my past.  I like to think all memories are intricately a part of your life-defining who you were, are and will be.

Of course, the Beatles said so many things the best.

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

Posted by: Laura Carter | January 21, 2019

A letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Dr. King,

The day you were assassinated I was on the campus of Prairie View A&M, which in 1968 was still an all-black college located just west of Houston, Texas. I was in a group of white students participating in an ‘exchange program’ in collaboration with the college I was attending.

In those days, Southwest Texas State College students mostly came from small Texas towns. The guys were shit-kickers i.e. studying agriculture; the women aspiring to become teachers, nurses and wives. There were no African Americans on campus. There was one beatnik who became my boyfriend–but that’s another story.

Dr. Clyde Bullion, our very liberal and a tad kooky sociology professor, spent several years opening minds and hearts, encouraging everyone to embrace racial and social justice. He held the first class on Black History and introduced us to African American writers and poets.  Bullion would stand on his desk and holler out readings from Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Dubois. Quite impressive–even though Bullion was white. We thought the visit to Prairie View made perfect sense for us.

During our two day visit, we were treated respectfully by the students and staff of the college. We attended classes, plays and social events. I remember sitting with a group of black students in an off-campus bar and asking, rather naively, the question surely stolen from me by Rodney King (whose beating and related consequences are attributed to the 1992 Los Angeles race riots) “I don’t know why we all can’t just get along?” Later, stunned and disheartened to the core to hear you were assassinated, we visitors were immediately sent home to “avoid any problems.”

I think you would agree, it seemed to have gotten much better. We even elected our first black president! Then, sadly, we are reminded of how deeply racism runs in our country with shootings of unarmed black children and men. #blacklivesmatter, the statistics regarding racial profiling by the police, voter repression tactics in some states, and the appalling racist behaviors of some citizens toward our very own President Obama. These incidences have us facing realities we may not wish to admit.

The statistics also prove inequality still exists.  Here are a few stats from Black Demographics website.

Blacks make up 14.1% of the population in the US.

Percentage in poverty: Blacks 24.2%           All races 11.8%

Percentage in poverty under 18: Blacks 39.6%      All races 22.6% (Appalling so many children of any ‘color’ are living in poverty.)

Graduation rate: Blacks 63.6%              All races 80.6% (Which seems rather low as a whole.)

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African Americans constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population, and have nearly six times the rate of whites.

Black Median Household income: $33,460

(all races $50,502)

All Black Workers 2012 weekly earnings:$606

(all races $765)

Black Men weekly earnings: $633

(White men $854)

Black Women weekly earnings: $590

(White women $712)

MLK-2014-2

So, Dr. King, there seems still much work to be done. Annually, on a federally instituted day to celebrate you, people in cities around the US march to keep your spirit and desire for social justice alive.  I still hope someday we can all get along.

Peace and love y’all,

Laura

Right here in San Antonio, we have one of the largest marches of any city. For more information on this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day San Antonio March, click here, or find one in your city.

Posted by: Laura Carter | January 11, 2019

Happy New Year from an old hippie

When is it too late to say “Happy New Year”? My personal opinion is it’s appropriate all through January, then it becomes tiresome. Also, we forgot our black-eyed peas. I hope that does not forecast a calamitous year.

However… things aren’t looking too good in the USA right now. Most days, I open up Facebook, Twitter or news sites and go WTF! 

At my age, it’s hard to face the reality of our possible demise. My generation spent so much time and energy trying to create a place of equal opportunity for all genders, ethnicities, ages et. al. and for education, housing, healthcare, civil rights…

And, the saddest thing to me was when I told a group of 30-40ish women that ‘I was just an old hippie’ and that’s where my values and attitudes were born and raised, they just gave me a blank, puzzled stare. Suddenly, I felt my age a bit more. 

Our poor planet! Katharine Hayhoe’s TED Talk addresses the issue of climate change.  Her message “the most important thing you can do is just talk about it,” makes this talk essential viewing.

If you want to escape reality for a while, my suggestion, if you like science fiction, is to watch all three seasons of “The Expanse” on Amazon Prime. Best stuff out there! I confess to watching it three times–’cause I’m old and my mind wanders.

world peacePeace and love y’all,

 

 

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