Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

my Facebook message and email (respectively) to WI Representatives Steineke and Petersen regarding "christmas tree"

Dear Mr. _______,

as a minister, a City Planning Commissioner, and a former Wisconsin resident, I would like to address the issue of the use of christmas versus holiday regarding the tree. I understand this is a tremendously sensitive matter for many people of all belief systems, so please bear with me. This matter can set a precedent for other communities and states.

First, there is no official state menorah or festivus pole but there is an official state tree.

Many of us, christian and nonchristian, put up the tree because of the holiday season, and many of us call it a christmas tree. That the state needs to legislate its name is unreasonable since we all know what it is, and I doubt that any taxpayer is paying you or anyone else to legislate this, given the state of our economy. Government should not endorse any particular religion. Government works, you work, for everyone, not just a particular majority.
The evergreen originated as a pagan symbol during the holidays, as did many other practices that are part of this holiday, and therefore, the tree is not just a christian symbol, though many in this country would like to believe.

This country was NOT founded on christian principles. this country is the melting pot, and if you truly look at history, the founding fathers promoted secularism for a reason. A quarter of this country are not christian, and thus, do things differently. You work for all of your constituents, regardless of their religious affiliation (or lack there-of).
Although many celebrate christmas, including millions of non-christians, consider this fact: Look throughout the pages of the bible, and you will find not ONE WORD of "christmas" being celebrated by any of YEHOVAH's people. It is not mentioned once! Neither the messiah nor any apostles ever observed this holiday, nor the new testament church!
Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25.
In the 4th century CE, christianity imported the saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the saturnalia as christians. Review your history books on Constantine I.

The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically christian about saturnalia. To remedy this, these christian leaders named saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

Just as early christians recruited Roman pagans by associating christmas with the saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”.

That said, at the end of the day it's about acceptance, or at the very least, tolerance of everyone around us. No one should have to feel defensive, about how they express simple things, like stating merry christmas or happy holidays.

As a minister, I promote acceptance and inclusiveness, to say that EVERYONE should look at what is intended when people say things. If I say happy holidays to you, that is my way of wishing something positive to you, and if you say merry christmas to me, that is your way of wishing something positive to me. It is all intent, and I believe that's what we need to look for. We need to look deeper into the people around us.

Many people, christian and nonchristian, celebrate something during this time of the year. It may have a different meaning for each person, and that's ok. We need to promote understanding and acceptance.

I encourage you to look at this matter from all angles, for all of your constituents, not just what you consider to be the majority. And then take measures toward inclusiveness. Majorities are not supposed to receive preferential treatment at the expense of others.

I am not saying that you personally cannot call it a christmas tree. I am not christian, and I still call it a christmas tree, though its meaning for me may obviously differ from what it means to you. Among my christian friends, I honor their expressions and way of doing things, and among nonchristian friends I also honor their way of expression and doing things. There will always be extremists on any side of an issue, one who says you can't say merry christmas and one who judges a person who uses secular expressions. I honor all, and promote inclusiveness. As a politician, hired by your constituents, you can have your personal beliefs, but your employer, I imagine, wants you to be fair and impartial.

I encourage you to promote understanding and acceptance-hold yourself to a higher standard. Be the one who encourages everyone, christians and nonchristians, to look beyond mere words and objects and doctrines to find deeper meanings. Why does it take atrocities like September 11 to unite this country's citizens?

Sincerely, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Namaste, and Assalam Aleykum

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Provocation: Cain Settlement Money Makes a Mockery of First Amendment.

The Provocation: Cain Settlement Money Makes a Mockery of First Amendment#.TrGMNUdu3W4.facebook#.TrGMNUdu3W4.facebook

Money IS a huge factor here. If you don't want to be bound by a contract (even one requiring you to remain silent on a matter), then don't sign the contract and DO NOT take the money. The victim's acceptance of the money is JUST AS UNETHICAL as the offender's offering of this money. this case has nothing to do with ANY amendment. it has to do with people's choices.

Friday, October 28, 2011

5 Fort Carson Soldiers Injured In Afghanistan - News Story - KRDO Colorado Springs

5 Fort Carson Soldiers Injured In Afghanistan - News Story - KRDO Colorado Springs
One Dead, Two Others Injured In Taliban Attack
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- An attack Thursday by Taliban forces in Afghanistan left one man dead and seven others injured, including five Fort Carson soldiers, an Army spokesman confirmed.
The injured soldiers are members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Maj. Kevin Toner, a spokesman for the unit, did not identify the soldiers but said they were hurt Thursday afternoon in the U.S. compound at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar province.
Toner said the soldiers, along with an Afghan soldier and an American civilian contractor, are expected to recover from their injuries. An Afghan interpreter died in the attack, Toner said.
In providing details of the attack, Toner said Taliban forces used small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades on coalition forces in the camp from a three-story building nearby.
The four-hour battle ended, he said, when a coalition helicopter fired a guided missile into the third floor. Toner said the number of Taliban forces involved in the attack is unclear.
Toner said the Taliban rigged the building with explosives and placed two improvised explosive devices in vehicles that exploded in the camp compound, but the explosions caused no injuries. American forces fought back with machine gun fire from guard towers, Toner said.
Toner said the attack could have been part of a wider offensive against the camp.
''It seemed they had something bigger planned,'' he said.
A key Taliban tactic in the war has been Some military experts say attempts attempts to breach American base defenses have been a key Taliban tactic in the ongoing war, and that similar attacks have occurred in Kabul and in Afghanistan's eastern provinces.
Thursday's attack is one of the largest by the Taliban against the brigade since it arrived in Afghanistan last June.

The love of my life was one of those injured.  He called home to tell me he was ok, but never gave details.  Hours later the Department of the Army called to inform me that he was injured, but ok.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

keep on keeping on...

Sam: "...the folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept holding on to something."

Frodo: "What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Employer wanted

My favorite rock wall at the Crags looking mystical, like a
picture out of LOTR.
 Highly passionate energizer bunny with high expectations and level of commitment who gets things done, never settling for less, seeks employer who values passion and Incline and furry Therapy, is altruistic, standing for something and believing in diversity, enjoying all of life and the world. This employer knows that doing what is right is not always convenient, but will always follow the path of highest conviction.

This employer will foster a team environment, always supporting, valuing and thoughtfully considering ideas, thoughts, suggestions or criticism that could lead to an improvement in the work environment or the wellbeing of treasured staff, or creation of a place where employees feel valued and empowered, knowing that what they do makes a difference, and that their ideas and other contributions are valuable. This employer will intuitively seek the best, truest and most valuable skills and assets within his or her treasured staff, always first assuming, and expecting, the best of them, always believing in their potential to succeed, and pushing him/herself and others to higher levels of performance. Demonstrates clarity of purpose. Values staff who stick with tasks when others quit.

This employer will embrace and respect diversity in all its glorious forms and manifestations, wisely knowing that with differences come new ideas and solutions, new inventions, improved methods, best practices, powerful skill sets, and creates empowered and impassioned employees.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I can fly!

It's been an incredibly long week (long two years), with some nearly sleepless nights, but it's all done. I am no longer a masters program student.  Does this mean I get to have "MPA" behind my name? When I look back over all that we have accomplished in this masters program, it's a remarkable thing-that each step prepares you for the final step-the Public Administration captone project, which is huge-you create a project that incorporates elements from every course and every aspect of administration that you have learned over the entire program, and end up with this thing that is nearly living, breathing, and seemingly not that far from manifesting. All the long nights and brain-frying pay off before you even have your new job. Then there's this sense that, if we can do this, we can save the world (or conquor it)-or at least our little corner of it (except for the week 8 project- which was really hard to narrow down to 10 slides-90 slides would have been easier-Death by PPT!)

 In addition to trying to finalize this final step of the project, I incorporated that information, as I have been doing all along into my original PPT presentation from week 2, which is now nearly 90 slides! And though this barely covers the "tip of the iceberg" on all that is necessary to implement a nonprofit program, it feels more attainable than ever-within reach.  Understandably, more brains are better than one, and this program proposal will go through revisions and upgrades once I have others "on my bandwagon" who will inevitably bring knowledge and expertise to the table, but it's an awesome feeling-to create something that feels so big that has the potential to help people. 

I presented my proposal, my large nearly 90 slide PPT, to the Fountain Valley Foundation Board last night and hours later they invited me to join the Board! It's a foundation in transition, but those who remain are a good group, they operate from a place of integrity, so, even though it could take a while to make this program a reality, I think it's completely possible. And I get the honor to be part of a wonderful thing as it evolves to become even better.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Conservation Wolf Stamp

Conservation Wolf Stamp Definitely on my "to be purchased" list. Being the most endangered wolf in the world, it is our responsibility to preserve them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Do Spouses (military) Serve?

My responses & thoughts regarding Bobbi Taylor's beautifully written Toughest job in the Navy and the question Do Military Spouses Serve, which directly relates to The Meaning of Sacrifice

I agree [with Bobbi] to a point. I don't think being a military spouse is the toughest job, compared to what the service member deals with, and we will go to hell and back with the love of our life, no matter what career they choose. I disagree, however, that we're just plain ol' wives. We are resilient and strong, even when we don't want to be. We keep giving more even when we feel like giving up and giving in. We keep on trucking even when it feels like the truck is on its last life.
It isn't just about missed birthdays and anniversaries. It's about saving the country while the spouse is saving the family-dealing with crises at school and your child being transported by ambulance after an accident and keeping it together when you want to fall to pieces. It's about realizing that mom isn't the one the sons need, but dad isn't here, so you do your best and try to find surrogates, who are never truly the one the sons need-they never totally fill those shoes. And it's comforting your child after a police officer knocks on your door, and your child immediately thinks something bad happened to dad (because he doesn't know it wouldn't be the police coming to tell you).

It's facing your fears when the love of your life goes on deployment number 5, and finding a way to deal with mechanics or anything/anyone else that intimidates you because you don't have the expertise and yet the work must be done. It is that, as you say, that falling back on that old phrase, "No news is good news" when you haven't heard anything in a while; even though you think, "I should be used to this by now," you never really do.

No, I don't think we are just plain ol' wives. We are special. We are strong. We are resilient. And yes, we sacrifice a great deal to just keep on keepin' on.

I feel a rant coming on... I think that, typically, the wife/mother is the glue that holds together and keeps any household running effectively. Over and above that, my husband doesn't know what meds my kids are on, doesn't handle school issues, doesn't keep the grocery list, doesn't take care of his soldiers' spouses and families while he's home, let alone while he's gone. He doesn't track appointments, meals, or juggle computer/appliance repairs with UPS deliveries that require a signature. He doesn't make excuses to the neighbors why the yard isn't as kept as it should be, or jump into action when a soldier's kids from his exwife are suddenly thrust in the soldier's lap and his family needs clothing, a bed, and bedding, among other things.

In addition to being an Army spouse, I have worn the uniform, and am retired, and I can tell anyone, in no uncertain terms, that being the spouse is much more challenging than being the one in uniform.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pleiades-newest addition to Ten Eyck Troop!

Adopted from the Humane Society, he is named for the open star cluster the Taurus constellation.  It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.  According to some sources, peleias refers to a dove (or doves plural) and "pel" means "dark colored or gray."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Here we go again...the countdown to deployment

Actually, it feels like we've never stopped the countdown to the next deployment. The moment they come home they're preparing for the next all-expense paid vacation in whatever sandbox in the world seems to need them. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spay Day 2011 Online Pet Photo Contest

Spay Day 2011 Online Pet Photo Contest

Hi! Solstice wants to ask if you will vote for her in the Spay Day Online Pet Photo Contest - and help save other pets' lives at the same time?  Helping animals is really important to me, and your donation will not only help Solstice in the contest, but will save pets' lives by reducing pet overpopulation. Thanks!

Conquered the great pumpkin

Coming home for the first time-one very sick little dumpster kitty

Lord of the Rings Monopoly will never be the same

I'm just so happy to be safe and have a full belly

Up to no good..

Getting better each day

Well enough to have energy to play!

She has a lioness inside her and radiates sunshine (hence, her name); she shows gratitude more than anyone I know (she was very sick when I found and nursed her to health). She's so lovey for a cat-even though ours is a mutual arrangement (as it is with all cats) she will snuggle and purr for hours showing her happiness and gratitude.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

 Rent "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." It's a delightful story about a man and a flock of wild parrots in San Fransisco. If life purpose seems elusive, this heart-warming, true-life story will give you a lot to think about. Filmmaker Judy Irving eloquently captures lives and thoughts most of us rarely ponder. The extras with even more information on the flock and the human lives touched by them are amazing-better than the extras on most dvds. I have ordered Mark's book, which is his memoir. I adore the positiveness of his life-I'm a bit envious even. Yes, there are tears, but it's really just the circle of life, which continues regardless of how humans feel about anything. One can't help but relate to how these birds have influenced Mark's life, in some small way, perhaps we all long for such profoundness to come to our lives to lift us up and inspire us. We can all admire Mark for caring for the birds, for trying to learn and understand them. But the bigger gift is what they have given to his life. It's apparent in his disposition, his blog, his website, and throughout the film. Check out his website and his book and be inspired.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Carpe Diem; how to live an "extraordinary life"

My oldest son was disrespectful to a teacher one morning, so I got a bright fuzzy pink bathrobe and slippers and went to his school to "shadow" him (the office staff were all giggles when I signed in and got my visitor badge). 

The Language Arts teacher had challenged the kids to do a free-write essay (no gramatical rules or formal writing etiquette) on what Carpe Diem means and how to live an "extraordinary life."  She gave them the quote: "It's not the number of breaths that we take that is important, it's the moments that take our breath away."

Popularly translated as "seize the day," per Wikipedia, "Carpe literally means "to pick, pluck, pluck off, cull, crop, gather", and that someone named Ovid intended the word to mean "To enjoy, seize, use, make use of." Wikipedia continues, stating that "though it is a misconception that it says "seize the day" this may be because it is an imperfect translation."  The Miriam-Webster online dictionary states "the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future."  The teacher gave this in the context of "living," after telling the students about a former student of hers who had passed away.

What a great thought-I love free-writing! Think The Bucket List and Live Like You Were Dying (a movie and a song, respectively). 

So, how do we live an extraordiary life?  How many of us can afford to go sky-diving, drive our dream race car at any raceway, or even have the practical ability to just escape to the woods on a regular basis (if you don't already live there)?  How do we make each day special?  Can we manifest just one thing each day to create "moments that take our breath away?"

Tim McGraw's take on it is one place to begin (lyric from Live Like You Were Dying):
He said "I was finally the husband,
"That most the time I wasn’t.
"An' I became a friend a friend would like to have.
"And all of a sudden goin' fishin’,
"Wasn’t such an imposition,
Is this enough to create "moments that take our breath away." Sometimes. Emotional connections can have a huge impact.  How do I become the "husband/wife" that most of the time I am not?  How do I become the friend that a friend would like to have?  In our regular life, day-to-day relationships can feel mundane, uneventful, comfortable.  There is nothing wrong with comfortable, but there's a reason magazines spout articles on how to spice up relationships. Tim McGraw's intent here is to simply not take those things for granted.  To cherish and value those ordinary, comfortable relationships. Gratitude. 

I think Carpe Diem takes this a step further, however. It's the difference between truly living and just existing. The idea behind The Bucket List is to find joy in life. Two terminally ill men go on adventures to experience grand things before they die.  "Grand" is subjective, however, and included on their bucket list is something along the lines of "kiss the most beautiful girl."  It turns out that the character Jack Nicholson portrays has a beautiful granddaughter who he has never seen due to a falling out with his daughter.  "Kiss the most beautiful girl" takes on an entirely different meaning in this context. Also on this list is "laugh till I cry" and "witness something truly majestic." Do we have to drink Kopi Luwak or go to the Himalayas to achieve these?
What can we love in our daily lives, and what can we manifest in our everyday lives, that is extraordinary living that will take our breath away? 
Hard thought... brainstorming..... brain hurts....
Lets see. I love the smell of freshly cut grass, but we don't have grass, as is common in this area.  I love the smell of burning wood, but we don't have a fireplace or wood stove.  I love the woods, but have to go out of my way to get what next?
Helping my kids with math or having a clean kitchen floor doesn't take my breath away. I was never a good teacher, and gave up on having a clean house years ago.   I adore sitting with my cats, petting them, hearing them purr, but it doesn't take my breath away.  It's not that I'm not grateful for these things.  Perhaps Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs partially explains why we need something more to feel like we're truly living rather than just existing. But I think it comes back to gratitude.

I love being healthy, strong, and vibrant. I love Tae Bo, yoga, meditation, shamanic journeying, and listening to that which is not audible to the ear. I love being gifted with the ability to share healing Reiki energy.  I'd forgotten how I enjoyed lifting weights-the mere action is empowering, and the after-affects, enlivening. I enjoy playing Lord of the Rings Monopoly with my son, and making my boys do Tae Bo when they're acting rowdy and rambunctious.

The goal, then, is to figure out what we can do right here at home to take our breath away on a regular basis, whether it's meditation or sky-diving. Everyone may have a different definition of what an extraordinary life is, but let's take a shot at this. Let's find what we can do that brings us joy and creates extraordinary living right here close to home. 
*Meet the barn owl at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Feel the majestic power of his wings as he flies past you. And check out the Meerkat Cam at! I love this beautiful owl and the beautiful and smart raven who lives in the same building!
*Provide for someone else's need.  Participate in ColoradoSpringsFreecycle by checking in occassionally at to see what others are asking for. You might find something you are looking for as well as saving the environment by recycling items you no longer want.  Occassionally people will ask for help in some way (for food). You will feel joy by anonymously and spontaneously helping others.
*Visit the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide, CO or the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center in Calhan, CO for a tour. Standard tours at both locations are $10, and you might be rewarded by the majestic sound of howling wolves or the mighty roar of regal lions. and

*Hike the Manitou Incline a few times per year. It will take your breath away -literally- during the hike up and again once you're at the top.

*Hike to the top of the Crags.  There are a couple different routes of varying difficulty, and once at the top, you won't want to leave.

*Attend a drumming ceremony at the Garden of the Gods facilitated by the Inner Light Center. Very uplifting and healing, it will take your breath away. 

*Commit to learning something that you would never ever have attempted before: belly-dancing, shamanic journeying, golfing, fencing, kickboxing... find whatever it is that you ever dreamed of, or something that you would never have thought of before, and dive in!

This list will be updated as more ideas and information are received at Renee's Fountain Valley Fotos Facebook page.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Raven at CMZoo

Shadow, my princess

Parker (dead doggy after a long hike)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just for fun (even on Wordless Wednesday..)

1.What color are your socks right? two-toned blue

2.What are you listening to right now? discourse of my kids & my father while they're washing dishes

3.What was the last thing you ate? just ate cinnimon dessert pizza (sorry)

4.Can you drive a stick shift? I learned on a duce (old Army two & one-half ton truck)

5.Last person you spoke to on the phone? my hubby

6.Do you like the person who sent this to you? N/A-I read her blog!

7.How old are you today? 42

8.What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Olympic figure skating and gymnastics

9.What is your favorite drink? black tea with honey or a nectar

10.Have you ever dyed your hair? can't live without it

11.Favorite food? smoked salmon that only my hubby can make!

12.What is the last movie you watched? The Blind Side

13.Favorite day of the year? Close tie between 4th of July and the Renaissance Festival!

14.How do you vent? Talk to my hubby, write, meditate, or sing

15.What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbie

16.What is your favorite season? Spring

17.Cherries or blueberries? Both; use in cereal, smoothies, etc

18.Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? sure, why not

19.Who is the most likely to respond? not sure-ditto

20.Who is least likely to respond? is this really important?

21.Living situation: In my beautiful house, my hubby, my two sons, my princess cat Shadow and my lioness kitten, Solstice, husky Sienna, and currently, Grandpa is with us

22.When was the last time you cried? must we air dirty laundry?.. Christmas night (drunk sister acting inappropriate)

23.What is on the floor of your closet right now? which closet? LR just has shoes, toys, and vaccuum

24.Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to? Lisa G.

25.What did you do last night? masters degree homework

26.What are you most afraid of? Spiders, failure...let's see, boats

27.Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? Swiss cheese & mushrooms

28.Favorite dog breed? Huskies, Goldens, Australian Shephards

29.Favorite day of the week? I don't have one these days

30.How many states have you lived in? 10 (if military training counts)

31.Diamonds or pearls? I used to think rocks belonged on the side of a mountain, but, I truly adore my wedding ring, do diamonds

32.What is your favorite flower? Cala lillies... lilacs...gerbera daisies... must I choose?

Find previous person's list at Laughs & Frustrations of a Proud Army Wife

Wordless Wednesdays- our camp fire -summer 2010

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Is Facebook a Blessing or a Curse?

There seem to be mixed responses among military wives at Is Facebook a Blessing or a Curse?.  Here is my feeling on the matter:

The issue is how we cope through their absence. My husband, now over 20 years of service, is leaving in a few months (not including a year in Korea). We have had separations with and without the use of any internet technology.

How we manage during these times is a matter of choice. Our responses are often a result of our own insecurities ("why is he posting on someone else's wall and not mine?”), which will eat us alive. Do not let unfounded insecurities not only paralyze you.

In a healthy relationship, you will have a life outside of that relationship - if I have 5 minutes to post on someone else's wall, why can't he if he gets the chance? In a healthy relationship, this is not a problem. We all have friends, family and acquaintances outside of our primary relationship. And we use whatever practical tools we have to communicate with them. There was a time when being overseas meant the only communication was through written letters. Phone calls were impractical and costly. Facebook is just another form of writing that requires less time, thought, or effort to be connected. And the connection is superficial. Facebook is a spontaneous tool for short notes and pictures.

Facebook should not be the only tool we use to communicate with loved ones. Letters and phone calls connect us better. We tend to abbreviate correspondence when using the internet. I remember when my husband did not have reliable phone access and had no internet access. Every few weeks he would go to a place where he had to pay by the minute to use the computer or make a phone call. And he wrote letters. I still treasure those letters.

We will use Facebook this next time around, but I am not reliant on it, and not hurt if he chooses to communicate (briefly as is the way with Facebook) with someone else. I am the one on whom he spends the money to call over static-filled phone lines. I am the one he is coming home to. But I will cherish every photo or comment he gets the chance to post on Facebook that gives me a small insight to what he is experiencing and how he is doing life at that moment.