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Friday, May 29, 2009

Negotiating Change

The summer is a time of change for me. When I go out to work, my schedule is planned out with deadlines and tasks but at home every one's schedule is in flux. We are like a rug just given a great smart shake. Ouch!! So far I got sick, my husband got sick and now my daughter. Only my son has been spared. I'm wary of the domino effect and continue to glance at him sideways. Why do we get sick at semester's end? As a matter of fact, what is it about seasonal change that brings on a cold? I'm not sure of the answers but I do know some ways that I use to negotiate the transition and I thought I would post them to remind myself. If you are undergoing a similar situation feel free to try them and add your own in the comment section:

1. Get up in the morning at a regular time and meditate or do something soothing.

I found a gentle chant for you to play:

2. Go outside and appreciate nature...

3. Create a work and play plan...

4. Make sure you go to bed at a regular time.

5. Laugh as often as possible.

6. Re-evaluate your life in gentle doses...(Don't overwhelm yourself by creating drama.)

What do you do to negotiate change? I have a friend who schedules all of her yearly medical checkups at this time. I wonder if I should try that? I went to the doctor about an infection and he said many people were coming in for the same thing; it must be the seasonal change. This is Puerto Rico, we're in the tropics! What seasonal change are we experiencing? It's just hot, hotter, hottest. I'm wondering how subtle shifts in climate can cause a significant change. Do our thoughts about change interfere with our adjustment?

Here's an attitude shifting video from 1966, it's Abbe Lane and "The Tom Hansen Dancers" (You don't know them? -neither do I!) They are "Havin' A Heat Wave" on "The Red Skelton Hour" :

It certainly puts a smile on my face!
What am I doing now? (smile's gone...)I'm off to the doctor. Whether or not it's the weather, my daughter's sick...is it the flu? I hope she recovers soon because tomorrow she's going to a prom. (Note: positive thinking.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tender Mercies

Recently, my daughter said to me,"I didn't know your dad played the guitar. Why didn't you ever tell me?" I wrote about my family growing up in a rural area in Michigan in March this year but so much of my memory of that time was overshadowed by later events, particularly my mother's murder. I hardly ever write about my father, Richard, who died when he was 49 years old. It's difficult to write about him; I often think about the fact that he died before mom came out. They had an intense relationship with lots of fighting and making up. He was a dedicated father and a traditional family man. I guess it would have been confusing for him to know about mom's love of women.

I was so close to him. We had the same kind of quiet manner and appreciation of nature. He used to take time to teach me to sing. He knew mostly country gospel songs though he wasn't a religious "church going" man. He didn't talk much about spiritual subjects; actually, he didn't talk much at all. I used to think that he found God in nature but now I wonder if I was thinking about myself. Robert Duvall plays a character similar to my father's in the following scene from the movie, Tender Mercies.

Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall) teaches Sonny (Allan Hubbard) a bit about playing the guitar.

I remember this song, "The Old Country Church" in particular. We sang it in two parts, Dad would sing the low part and I would echo with the high. He was quite serious while teaching me and I knew that if I didn't pay attention my lesson would end. With five children in our family, I did not want to lose his undivided attention. I think I was the only one he taught these songs to but I cannot be completely sure. I am sure that I felt special when he took out his guitar and taught me to sing the songs he learned in his rural Tennessee childhood.

Dad's Wild-wood Rose

Open fields where
Long corn-rows stretch tiny...
Walking in the back-field,
"Who cut down the cornstalk?"
"I did. I'm sorry."
Sun-sweat in 100 degree weather...
"Can you make some ice tea?"

Tomatoes rest plump,
Victorious over healthy weeds.
Sun-falls and evening-rises.
A black hymnal falls open,
"Can we sing, The Old Country Church?"

The curved wood vibrates a melody
Through Dad's strings...
Crickets gently join
Cotton-wood heart shaped leaves
Dip and bless quiet-cool
All is well

Cynthia Pittmann

I miss my dad's company. I miss sitting out on the porch, lilac scent streaming through the cigarette smoke while watching lightning bugs. I would sit quiet waiting for the evening silence to break with a few words from my dad. And hope, too, to see his gold-tooth smile as he told a childhood story.

I remember your songs and your stories. Goodbye, Dad.

Richard Alfred Pittmann October 19, 1936-August 5, 1996

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Truth about Lying-Honest! (Update)

Flixster - Share Movies

Kate: A healthy person is someone who expresses what they're feeling inside. Express, not repress.

Luc: In that case, you must be one of the healthiest people in the world.

Most of you have seen probably seen the movie, French Kiss. Below, I have posted a slightly exaggerated but funny scene on cultural differences that relates to a kind of "truth." Kate (Meg Ryan) is telling the charmingly cunning and slightly infatuated Frenchman Luc (Keven Kline) that her facial expressions have to match her emotions. Why do I find her sincerity amusing? I think that most of my life, I have been this American type as well...maybe you are too? Perhaps, I fool myself when I think I have absorbed Puerto Rican culture enough to maintain a strategically neutral face. (I secretly think that Puerto Ricans and the French people have a lot in common when it comes to customer service. Perdoname!)

Watch the short scene above

I believe in emotional honesty but tempered with a kindness that fits the situation. For example, truth that hurts sometimes has a hidden motive. I much prefer to hear "You haven't gained any weight" than "What happened? You were sooooo thin!" Why am I thinking about what honesty means?

Linda of Vulture Peak Muse bestowed this clever, "You've been through a lot" (my re-name) award upon me a couple of weeks ago but I haven't been able to address the requirements. I know that the award is for writing with honesty and is given to those who share their life experiences in writing. After receiving this award, Linda took on the challenge and wrote an incredibly honest account of her life but later deleted it. I know how she feels, it's a personal risk to be honest. Sometimes, I think I over-share here at Oasis Writing Link but I've come to accept this aspect of my personality. I love truth in writing-especially when it involves personal emotional risk. I admire people who can accept themselves so well that they are willing to share openly-flaws and all. Of course, everyone has their own understanding of honesty. With that in mind, I will proceed with posting the rules and fulfilling the requirements of this Honest Scrap Award:


Hi friends, just a bit of self-interruption to tell all of you that Reveda the sweet dimpled baby gave me this award, too. I just found it thanks to Braja. Love to you sweet baby and everyone go over there and look at her darling face.


The rules of this award are:
1.You must brag about the award.
2.You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to the blogger.
3.You must choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
4.Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog
5.List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself.

Ten Honest Things About Myself

1. I enjoy writing and would like to finish my dissertation this summer so that I could write in another style with a more personal focus.

2. I'm extremely attached to my daughter and am secretly suffering yet pleased that she has a desire to go off to study far away from me.

3.When I was a child, I wanted to be an artist. I must still have this desire because I surround myself with artistic type people and both of my children study the arts. (music and painting)

4.I also wanted to be a go-go girl -dancer-until my father spoke to me quite strongly, "Being a go-go girl is not a career!" He was so serious and harsh that I realized I might not know what being a go-go girl meant.

5. I'm highly conscious of maintaining healthy lifestyle but also drink coffee...coffee...coffee! (I'm convinced that Puerto Rican coffee is the best coffee in the world and I cannot resist it.

6. I have a vivid memory of people, the past and emotions. When I want to recall an experience-my own or something I read/viewed, I see a picture in my mind and emotions are drawn to the image...so I remember novels I read as a child or young person but not necessarily the author's name or the name of the book. The visual image connected to emotion is alive in my mind...also emotional expressions on people's faces.

7. I avoided taking math at the university; when it was time to graduate, I had to study independently and pass a math competency exam. If I did not pass the exam, I couldn't graduate. The third and final attempt was successful.

8. I have a tendency to worry, which makes me ultra careful about exposing myself to news of all types. Nevertheless, I am completely open to personal sharing and other "real" stories, and consider it an honor when people trust me enough to share.

9. (related to # 8) I have been a "counselor" (career, college, prison) many times and look at all my life interactions in this manner.

10. When I was 20 years old, I climbed to the top of the beautiful Blarney Castle in Killarney, Ireland, leaned back (hung upside down) while my sister, Pamala, held my feet and kissed the Blarney Stone. From that point on, I was blessed with the gift of eloquence and I have a certificate to prove it!

The last requirement:
Then pass it on with the instructions!

1. Colleen's My Journey to Ironman. (She has an incredible way of making a contribution to the world health.)

2. Ms. Lucy of Enchanted by Josephine

3. Natalie of Musings from the Deep

4. Julie of Tangobaby

5. Paris of Remembering Paris

6. Braja of Lost and Found in India

7. Michelle of The Truth as I Know it

Now imagine that you are listening to Billy Joel singing "Honesty" since "they" won't give permission to embed the You Tube!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

To Mom on Mother's Day; I Will Always Love You

Today, naturally, I'm thinking of my mother and appreciating the gifts she has given me. May she be surrounded in light and love...and too, may all of you resonate with the kind of nurturing love that you need in this life.
[Whitney Houston]

Below we have the heartwarming Dolly Pardon singing her song...
[lyrics to three versions]

And why not include Lorelai singing to her daughter, Rori? This clip from the Gilmore Girls reveals the moment when Lorelai shifts her attention to Luke Danes and reveals to everyone that she loves him....or was it just the combination of the song, a few too many drinks and the memory of an old romance?

Happy Mother's Day to you all!

photo credit

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Noblesse Oblige Meets The Dust Bowl

Noblesse Oblige Award

The fine writer and book lover, Carol, of The Writer's Porch

has honored me with this colorful and dynamic award. What a charming acknowledgement of my efforts here at OWL blog. Thank you, friend!

Here is a description of the award

This award recognizes the following attributes:

1) The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervades amongst different cultures and beliefs.

2) The Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage and offers solutions.

3) There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture, Sciences and Beliefs.

4)The Blog is refreshing and creative

5) The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking

Wow! What a compliment! Here are my responsibilities:

The Bloggers who receive this award will need to perform the following steps:

1) Create a post with a mention and link to the blogger who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award to you.
2) The award conditions must be displayed in the post.
3) Write a short article about what your blog has thus far achieved preferably citing one or more older post to support:
4) The blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award to blogs in concurrence with the award conditions.
5) The blogger must display the award at any location on their blog.

Oasis Writing Link; A Short History of Beginning at an Ending

Oasis Writing Link started almost by itself; I had been thinking about starting a blog after I read the book Julie and Julia by Julie Powell; briefly, it's a book about a woman who started a blog and how it evolved into a book (now it is a film staring Meryl Streep that is scheduled to be released this August!) when a work friend told me I should just type in blogger.com and see what it was all about. She said it was quite simple. (Julie has a current blog where you can comment!)

Without clear intention, I decided to fill out a request for a blog. Many of you know that Oasis Writing Link has the acronym OWL which points to my mother, Susan Pittmann, a Halloween baby, who loved that she was born on the witch's day. She was murdered in 1992 by our neighbor, Mr. Brooks. (James Elwood Brooks); I have written about the circumstances surrounding this hate crime. OWL blog is a tribute to my mother's life.

Recently, my sister, Linda found this photo of Brooks; it appears to be the mysterious missing photo taken by Christine Puckett, my mother's murdered partner, just before they were both shot. I heard that Brooks hit Christine with a shovel before he went into his house to get the murder weapon. I understand that Chris was trying to document his aggression so that the police would take precautionary-preventive action (at least take his weapons away!!!) How shocking to see his blurred angry face just before he shot my mother and Christine. (I saw these photographs for the first time just one hour ago.) From the photo angle, Christine must have been lying on the ground while she quickly took the shot. I remember Mom saying that they needed to prove that he was behaving aggressively because the police wouldn't act on Brook's verbal threats. They said they needed evidence to document his irrational condition. Sadly, it is on this day, cinco de mayo, that they both were shot and killed.

I also have two other new photographs most likely taken just before this one:

Mr. Brooks -as we used to call him as children- is quite angry here, and shouting in the first mini photo. In the second, he is reaching into his car to get the shovel to strike Christine. The larger blurred photo is when he lifted the shovel and moments after, it must have struck Christine. Then he returned to his house, lifted the rifle and shot Christine from his kitchen door. When she fell, he selected the loaded double barrel shotgun, which was along side the door and walked over to her bleeding body. My mother was on the phone talking to a 911 operator (I heard the tape); she said: "My worker's been shot!" They asked for information and likely tried to keep her there but she left the phone dangling and ran out to Christine. By that time, Brooks was again out in our yard with the shotgun, they had some words. Probably, mom tried to calm him down but he just lifted the gun and shot mom at close range. She died rapidly as the blood poured from her aorta just below her heart and into the soil. Brooks then walked over to Christine and shot her again. This is what I think happened; it's what I can piece together from the various stories, hints and facts that I know. Great sorrow swept into many people's lives on that day. Mom had five children, seven grandchildren, many unofficially adopted children and grandchildren, many friends and relatives.

Mom and Christine's deaths were like a dry wind that left a shadow of ash on all of those members of society who passively permit anger and aggression towards those who chose to love someone of the same sex. (For more information about the impact of this crime, you can go to this documentary film website and read about the Pittmann Puckett Story.)

May we all learn to love and accept difference in each other.

The DUST BOWL - natural disaster cause by the violation of our earth, unknowingly caused by the belief that we can dominate nature, and force it to change.

I want to call attention to these blogs that strive to bring understanding and empathy into this world; these blogs uphold a positive faith in our ability to act by the force of love to create a better world.

1. The Soaring Impulse
2. Lori Times Five
3. Lost and Found in India
4. From Forensic to Fine Art
5. Mama Shujaa
6. An Aerial Armedillo
7. Tangobaby
8. Psyche Connections

Please visit these lively blogs that celebrate life and call on all of us to be the best version of ourselves.