Monday, December 29, 2008

Relatives, non-relatives and the like

Christmas is behind us and all that's left are the memories. And this year's memories included some typical family-related drama. Some with our family and most with non-family (or not technically) and even some from a blast from the past. Since I'm a huge fan of human theater, this year's events supplied me with hours of entertainment and opportunities to identify behavioral stereotypes.

The Scrooges
These characters exist in my family-namely my husband and son. My husband has carried this from his childhood: perpetuated by his mother and grandmother making the holidays miserable for everyone involved. My son, however, is not technically a scrooge; he pretends to hate Christmas when in reality he actually loves it. How do I know? He takes tremendous time and effort choosing gifts. He knows what he wants to buy and won't settle for anything less. He takes time searching for the perfect stocking stuffers and wants to make sure that every Christmas tradition is in place and in tact as it has always been. He secretly enjoys everything to do about Christmas and yet complains about it every year. I just listen and secretly know it's all a huge smokescreen to cover his emotional attachment to this time of year.

The divorced parents
My daughter's boyfriends parents are divorced and both have remarried. This adds two more family dynamics to holiday drama: arranging meals and Christmases around two more families and their schedules. Honestly, it got to be almost comical. And here's the thing--they aren't even married yet. I can't imagine what will happen when and if kids are thrown into the mix. It's way to exhausting trying to keep up with all of it.

The selfish brother
This guy is unbelieveable. He expects everyone's lives to revolve around him. He won't be inconvenienced for anything and expects his entire family to foot the bill for his entertainment and activities. The odd thing is...they all do it. They pay for his way; they cater to his demands; they let him get away with wrecking their good times. He ruins their Christmas every year and they continue to let him.

The controlling sister
She still believes that even though her brothers are grown men, she has the right and the privilege of telling them what they should do and shouldn't do. She orders them around like she's the parent and expects them both to follow her orders. And guess what? They do. It's a very strange family dyanmic. I haven't figured out if it's out of guilt or some sort of duty that they follow her lead. Perhaps I never will. Of course, it causes all kinds of issues with their relationships.

The neglected mother
No matter how much time you spend with her, it's never enough. But, she won't take her time or spend her money to travel to where you live to visit you. When you come home, she expects you to be with her 24/7 and begrudges you any time you spend with any other family or friends. When you aren't with her she calls you asking when you will be back. (Note: I will NEVER be this mother..and I mean NEVER!)

The stepmother
This woman spends her time trying to win the approval of the stepchildren by making her home "fun" for them. Mind you, she's the "affair" that their father had so many years ago when he left their mother. But now, she's the "cool" stepmom. She cooks lobster. Has a hot tub. Buys them Christmas presents and talks their father into finally spending money on his children after all these years. So why wouldn't they want to be over there than at the house where they are bitched out for not being there enough?

When I was growing up, my father always said we were spending Christmas in our home and if anyone wanted to come and visit us they could. I always hated it because it was just us and the family never came (except my great-aunt). But now I understand the logic in it. We always had a drama free Christmas and didn't feel pulled and tugged every which way. It makes perfect sense now after observing what happens on the other end of the spectrum.

Happy (haha) Holidays,
Walden Fan

Thursday, December 25, 2008


For unto us is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord...

Walden Fan

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Piece of Sky

Last night I was winding down after the day and I turned on the television while I was checking my email. And one of my favorite movies was on: Yentl with Barbra Streisand. I started watching it and a flood of emotions came back to me from the first time I saw the movie. Boy can I relate to Yentl. She was a woman living in a world that didn't recognize her value. She wanted to study the Word of God and debate the Talmud with other Jews, but it was considered a sin. She lived in a world where only men were allowed to be leaders in the church. Only men were allowed to teach and take positions of authority.

When I first saw this movie I was in a battle at my church with the leadership over the amount of influence I held in the congregation. My denomination frowned (and still does) on women taking any role of responsibility in the church. It was acceptable for them to work with children or in some kind of children's ministry, but not in a position of leadership over men. So the battles raged and I eventually succumbed and left the church and the denomination.

There are so many songs in this movie that speak to me of that time in my life--relating to not fitting in and wanting so badly to serve God when He called me and the search for divine inspiration and knowledge. But one of my absolute favorites is at the end of the movie when Yentl finally "finds herself" and heads to America where freedom allows her to pursue her passion. She is standing on the bough of the boat as it heads toward her dream and sings:

It all began the day I found
That from my window
I could only see
A piece of sky.
I stepped outside and looked around,
I never dreamed it was so wide
Or even half as high.

The time had come
To try my wings
And even though it seemed at any moment I could fall,
I felt the most
Amazing things,
The things you can't imagine
If you've never flown at all.

Though it's safer to stay on the ground,
Sometimes where danger lies
There the sweetest of pleasures are found.
No matter where I go-
There'll be mem'ries that tug at my sleeve
But there will also be
More to question yet more to believe.

The more I live - the more I learn.
The more I learn - the more I realize
The less I know.
Each step I take-
Each page I turn-
Each mile I travel only means
The more I have to go.
What's wrong with wanting more? If you can fly - then soar!
With all there is - why settle for
Just a piece of sky?

Flying and soaring,
Walden Fan

Monday, December 22, 2008


I spent the day with my daughter. Every time I'm with her she brings me so much joy. I can't imagine my life without her. I can't imagine what my life would have been had she not been a part of it. I've had some of the most amazing life experiences because of her. We've shared moments of absolute ecstasy and moments of total agony together. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for her and I'm sure she for me. We can spend hours together talking about anything and everything and never tire of each other's company. It's the mother/daughter connection that either works or doesn't. When it works it's heaven; when it doesn't it's pure hell. My mother and I had one of those heaven sent relationships. She was in my life for 32 years and that wasn't nearly long enough.

It's the little things that remind me of my mother and make me miss her. Sitting with my daughter today wrapping presents reminded me of the last Christmas we spent together and even though we knew the end was near we enjoyed every last milisecond together. She's a part of me and she's a part of my daughter. And when I look at my daughter and she smiles that HUGE smile she so often does I remember my mother, always smiling.

There's a Streisand Christmas song that pretty much says it all:

The best gift
That I ever got
Didn't really weigh a lot
It didn't have a ribbon 'round
And it sometimes made the terrible sound
The best of all it seems to me
It wasn't neath the Christmas tree
And yet, I guess I'd have to say
That it made all the other presents twice as gay
The best gift that I've ever known
I'd always wanted most to own
Yet in my dreams of sugar and spice
I never thought it could be so nice
The best gift that I ever get
Was sometimes dry and sometimes wet
Was usually pink but oftentimes red
As it lay so innocently in its bed
The best gift of the year to me
The one I hold most dear to me
A gift that simply drove me wild
Was a tiny new born child...

Enough said,
Walden Fan

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm dreaming...

...of a white Christmas. Yes I am. Because...I'm 54 years old and I have NEVER seen one. Since I live in south Texas, it rarely (if ever) snows. However, in 2002, it did. Where was I? I was in New York City spending Christmas there in an attempt to have a white Christmas. The first time in over 100 years it snowed three inches in my hometown and I was in New York where it DID NOT snow. Totally ironic.

It's not that I haven't ever seen snow. I've seen snow. I've walked in Harvard Square in Boston in the middle of a blizzard while the local people watched me stand there and "take it in". I've been on a train platform at 9 degrees waiting to catch a train while it was snowing. It's not that I haven't seen snow, it's just that once I'd love to wake up Christmas morning and see snow on the ground. I don't think that's too much to ask. Do you?

So for all you northerners that are snowed in today and cursing winter, there are those of us in short sleeves celebrating Christmas with NO SNOW. So thank God you're where you are with a roaring fire and hot chocolate and SNOW. Because I'll be where I am wishing I was where you are (or at least in Boston where there is a foot of snow).

Still dreaming of a white Christmas,
Walden Fan

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sleepless Nights

One of my favorite Christmas related songs is "Count Your Blessings" from White Christmas.

"If you're worried, and you can't sleep,
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings."

I wish it worked. But some nights nothing works. I can listen to music, count my blessings, read, pray (which for some reason works more often than not); and still, sleep doesn't come. So instead of lying in bed and getting frustrated, I just get up and try and be productive.

As you get older, sleep tends to evade you. I guess that's where they got the saying, "sleeps like a baby"; because babies, teenagers and pets are the ONLY ones who sleep through earthquakes, tornadoes and all forms of natural disasters. Most adults have insomnia at one point or another. It's just the nature of life I suppose.

In an effort to be productive this morning and perhaps begin the day on a positive note, I thought I might actually list the blessings I counted. Who knows, once I'm done maybe I'll fall asleep!

1. Freedom to worship, vote, choose, and even disagree
2. A roof over my head and food on my table
3. Children who love me and respect me
4. A spouse who goes to work every day and allows me the freedom to work at home
5. Friends who put up with my good days and bad days and accept me for who I am
6. Music and all the joy it brings into my life
7. Parents who raised me to love God and love His Word
8. The new friends I have met in the past few years online and eventually in person
9. The ability to express my feelings with words
10. A life filled with great memories and miraculous moments

Still awake but feeling blessed,
Walden Fan

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's SNOWING in Vegas!

A friend sent me this picture of Las Vegas and the SNOW. Seems everyone is getting snow this year for Christmas...everyone but ME that is! Gee..I wish I was going to Boston...

Walden Fan


It's Christmastime. The time of year when we give presents and we receive presents. For many of us it's become a drudgery--trying to find something for those who have everything and don't really need anything. It's the time of year when the stores but out all those useless items that we only buy once a year and that end up in a drawer or regifted.

It makes me think about giving, and what it really means. I read a quote the other day that sums it up for me:
giving in it's purest form expects nothing in return. Sometimes we get so caught up in the Christmas season and shopping that we forget why we do it. We forget that there really isn't anything more gratifying than to give and expect nothing in return.

I've given many times without expecting anything in return. I did it because I wanted to. Not because I felt obligated. I did it because I loved the people I was giving to. After all, that's the true basis that we give. We give out of love. And if you're not giving out of love, you aren't embracing the true meaning of giving.

Find someone that you can give to anonymously without expecting anything in return. It will be the greatest gift you give this year and it will bless your heart and warm your soul.

Giving the gift of words,
Walden Fan

Sunday, December 14, 2008


On Friday I was watching Oprah Winfrey. I NEVER watch her show, but she was interviewing Tom Cruise and it was supposed to be an interview that talked about all the controversial subjects: chair jumping, Scientology, his Brooke Shields comment, the Matt Lauer interview, Nicole...the works. It was an interesting interview, but I guess the question that I took away from it was her asking him what he valued in a friend. The most important trait he said was "loyalty". I've thought a great deal about that comment over the last 24 hours.

What does loyalty really mean? The dictionary defines it as: unwavering devotion; commitment to a promise; a firm ally. Some synonyms are: faithful, steadfast, abiding, devoted. I wonder how many of us can say that we possess that quality in our friendships?

It's understandable why Tom Cruise looks for that trait. His confidence cannot be betrayed. The papparazzi is always looking for someone to provide information related to him and his family. Loyalty to a promise of secrecy is paramount. When his family is attacked in the press, he needs that firm ally to stand on his side and defend his integrity and his honor.

But does the average person really require that level of loyalty? Absolutely. We all have personal and private things we share with our close friends. Things we have told no one else. A loyal friend will not betray that trust. Many times we are attacked by others. A loyal friend will always stand on our side and defend us when we are maliciously maligned or attacked. A loyal friend rejoices in the good times and empathizes when you are in pain or hurting. A loyal friend hangs in there during those inevitable disagreements and works through to find a resolution.

I'd say that Tom was right. Loyalty is the most important quality you need in a friend.

Walden Fan

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Music that soothes the soul

Music can soothe the soul like nothing else. It's always been that way. And it will continue to be that way forever I believe. David used music to soothe King Saul. "...David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better..." Music is a gift from God. Many believe that music can heal our souls and even our physical bodies. I completely agree.

A close friend of mine sent me an early Christmas present today. It was a music cd by a young man out of Oklahoma. He's a pianist and it's more than music. It's therapy. I can actually say that the music this young man plays soothes the soul. There's something about his compositions that brought peace to me as I listened to them. They penetrated my heart and as I closed my eyes and listened I felt a calmness and a sense of oneness with God.

On the cd jacket, Jarrod says:

May these songs bring

Healing to your wounds,
Joy to your sorrows,
Depth to your passions,
Beauty to your romances,
And life to your souls.

If you're looking for any of these things, add this to your collection.

Feeling peaceful,
Walden Fan

Friday, December 12, 2008

How much is too much?

My best friend asked me this question tonight, "How much can one person take?" It's a question we have all asked at one time or another. It's a question that doesn't really have an answer. I wish it did, but unfortunately, I don't think any of us know how much we can take until we are faced with those trials and tragedies. That's when we find out what we are made of.

Surprisingly, most of us are able to handle whatever life gives us. We may struggle. We may cry. We may even give up for a time, but we usually find the strength to keep going. That fighting spirit is built into each one of us. It surfaces when we want to give up. It gives us that extra push to keep going and it gives us hope that tomorrow can be better than today.

We've all been there and felt like we can't go on. That if one more bomb falls on us we won't be able to get up. We crawl under the covers and hide, hoping it will all go away. But in the morning, things don't seem so bad as they did the night before. And we find the strength to try for one more day.

We can all be overcomers. All it takes is making that choice and refusing to give up the fight. The key is taking one day at a time. Sounds simple right? It's not. It's hard and it requires every ounce of courage we have to make it through those days. My mother used to tell me, "this too shall pass". I have to admit, I hated those words, BUT...she was right. It passes and on the other side sometimes, if you're lucky, you've learned something or gotten stronger because of it.

Living to fight another day,
Walden Fan

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Movies

I love movies. I especially like listening to the dialogue in movies and picking out that one special line that immortalizes it in my mind. It might be the writer in me, but it's why I can watch a movie over and over again and find something different every time I see it. This time of year, I'm especially attracted to the Christmas stories. I've watch them year after year and I never grow tired of them.

Just for fun and because I'm feeling unusually capricious tonight, here are some of my favorite lines from some of my favorite Christmas movies:

"You'll shoot your eye out."
A Christmas Story

"But for now, let me say - Without hope or agenda - Just because it's Christmas - And at Christmas you tell the truth - To me, you are perfect - And my wasted heart will always love you"-
Love Actually

"I'm giving thanks that we don't have to go through this for another year. Except we do, because those bastards went and put Christmas right in the middle, just to punish us."
Home for the Holidays

"You guys give up yet? Or are you thirsty for more?"
Home Alone

"Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

"When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting, whatever it is you've got left."
White Christmas

"Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!"
It's a Wonderful Life

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."
Miracle on 34th Street

"My family's in Florida and I'm in New York!"
Home Alone - Lost in New York

"The main trouble is there are too many people who don't know where they're going and they want to get there too fast!"
The Bishop's Wife

Off to watch Home Alone,
Walden Fan

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I have spent the last several days decorating my home for Christmas. As I've said previously, I love Christmas. But this morning I began to feel just a little tinge of sadness. I started thinking about my father who never really liked Christmas. As a child, I hardly remember him participating in any of it. Except the one event I always hated: the annual Christmas shopping trip. This was a shopping trip in which I would pick out my Christmas present and my father would purchase it on the spot. Some would say that was thoughtful of him. But for some reason it seemed insensitive. It was almost like he couldn't be bothered with taking the time to listen to me or get to know me so he could choose a present he knew I would like. So each year I would pick out my present and each year he would buy it, take it home to my mother, have her wrap it, and place it under the tree.

After my mother passed away his disdain for the holidays increased. It didn't matter how much I tried to make it joyous and special for him, he dreaded that time of year. My children never truly understood, although I know it was related to the fact that she died shortly after Christmas. It brought back so many memories of the last Christmas we all spent together.

It's funny how childhood memories come flooding back this time of year. And it's a little sad that those feelings of insecurity seem to still be there when I think about my father. Even on the day he passed away I was still trying to please him; and he still never could let me know how much he loved me. Of course, my rational mind knew he loved me. But it always seemed I could never win his approval, no matter how hard I tried. And yet after he died, countless people contacted me to tell me how proud he was of me and how much he loved me. Sad that he could never really make me feel that himself. And in spite of it all, I miss him terribly. I miss our Sunday morning breakfasts together. I miss his infrequent hugs. I miss listening to gospel music with him. I even miss putting out his HUGE stocking at Christmas and filling it with gifts that were picked and given in love.

All I ever wanted was to please him, and all he ever wanted was for me to know he was proud of me. That's all daughters ever really want from their fathers. What a shame that most of them are never able to express it.

Feeling a bit sad and nostalgic today,
Walden Fan

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I was watching one of my all-time favorite TV shows (The West Wing) today and the subject of religious freedom was the topic of the episode. A group of persecuted Chinese Christians had stowed away on a freighter. 63 of them survived the trip to the U.S; 18 of them died. When they arrived in San Diego the INS discovered them and as is the custom, started the proceedings to deport them. But the group claimed they were fleeing religious persecution, so it brought up a completely new issue. Why? Because this country was founded by men and women fleeing religious persecution. The President was informed that it was not uncommon for illegal immigrants to feign religious persecution in an effort to remain in this country. So the leader of the group was summoned to the White House for the President to perform a "test" on the validity of their claim. The man told the President that a series of questions would never prove the validity of a person's faith. The real test is in how you live your life and what you choose to do with the freedom God has given you.

One of the reasons I love Boston is that its the seat of the beginnings of our country's pursuit of independence. It's the place where it all began. It's where the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired in the pursuit of liberty. For me, it's hallowed ground. You can't stand on that spot, on that bridge in Concord, and not feel the passion of those patriots that day. You can't sit in the Meeting Hall at Fanuiel Hall and not experience the intensity of the words that were spoken there in defense of freedom. Walking the Freedom Trail still gives me goosebumps.

I have thought endlessly about that word the last several months. What does it really mean to be free? Even when we think we are free we can be in our own self-imposed prisons. We can break free from oppression or abuse and yet never really be free because we are still bound by the affects of that abuse. We can live in a country that claims that everyone is free and yet it appears at times only certain citizens have rights while others are persecuted unfairly. We all have the freedom to choose, but are our choices made based on our economic situation or our responsibilities that keep us bound to mediocrity?

People have died to be free and stay free. And yet I think we underestimate the significance of this one little word.

Still contemplating,
Walden Fa

Monday, December 8, 2008


What can I say? I love Christmas--the giving, the decorations, the music, the shopping excursions, the great family memories, and of course, the worship. No matter what is going on in my life, Christmas is always a constant and I look forward to it every year.

This year we'll be celebrating as we usually do: just our small family. But we still have our traditions: the 24 days of Christmas, tamales and chili on Christmas Eve, nutella crepes for breakfast, Christmas dinner complete with holiday poppers, and a movie on Christmas day. They might be rather simple and not very unique, but they are tradition and seem to bring stability to our family no matter what is going on in the past year.

I've had some really rough Christmases that might make people think the bad memories should outweigh the good. But they don't. Why? Because Christmas for me is all about hope. The first Christmas was about God giving us hope in a world that need it more than ever. There was political upheaval and religious pride and persecution. Much like our world today. And just like then, the answer isn't in a man, or a plan, or change. The answers will always be where they were that first Christmas. In the promise of a Savior.

So, as Sheron says on her blog, Random Ponderings, it's ok to wish me a Merry Christmas here, because for me, the greatest gift I ever got (Jesus Christ) is the reason I love this time of year.

Merry Christmas,
Walden Fan

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Word on the Street

I have this great book that my brother told me about--it's a street version of the Bible. It was written by this "dude", Rob Lacey, that was dying with cancer and spent the time taking the Bible and translating it into a story in street language.

When my mother died, he and I searched for reasons. We kept being told to read the book of Job. It was supposed to give us comfort. Let's just did not. We never really understood why God would take someone who was obviously Godly and test him just to prove he was indeed Godly. But when my brother found this version of the Bible, for some reason, when he read Job it finally clicked--over 20 years later. The title of Job was "Mess Happens". Basically it says God is God and the sooner you accept it, the better you will be. So I had to get my own copy to see for myself. I read Job and I have to say it did help on some level, but I've since found some of the most insightful representations of some profound truths as I read:

So why so sullen, soul. Why so moody, me?
Why so down, so depressed, so incapable of breaking free?
Don't give up--let God lift your life up!
Stack that weight on God, all of it, complete.
See if he can't juggle it, smuggle it away at last,
And set you back on Celebration Street.
(Psalms 42:5)

What is love anyway? Not the tripe you've been force-fed! No. Love gives people space and time; it does people good. It's not jealous, loud-mouthed or big-headed. It's not vulgar. It doesn't look out for Number 1. It's not got a short fuse--it forgives and forgets. Love doesn't smile when dark stuff goes on, but throws a party when the truth gets out. It protects more than a super hero; it trusts more than a toddler. It's always positive. It always hangs in there. Love doesn't let you down.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8

These are words I can relate to. Words that inspire me. Words that give me hope and peace when I let them sink in. It's the WORD that does it for me. Always has, always will. (In the beginning was THE WORD, and THE WORD was with God, and THE WORD was God. John 1:1)

Soaking up THE WORD today,
Walden Fan

Addendum--Rob Lacey didn't succumb to cancer. In the last few pages of his book are his journal. He asks the question we all ask at one point or another in our lives--Why Me? "And with answers so shy," he says "I won't ask why? Right now I'll just ask, how do I live? How do I die? I'll leave the questions lying there. I'll leave my lopsided, left heavy, rational, righteous brain. I'll just give God His fame. The always different, ever the same. I'll thank Emmanuel, I'll thank God with us. I'm well."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

On Walden Pond

One of my favorite authors is Henry David Thoreau. On one of my many trips to Boston I was able to visit the site of his cabin on Walden Pond. There is nothing quite like standing on the place where he lived and was inspired so many hundreds of years ago.

Walden Pond is one of those magical locations that inspires me to write. Walking along the pond and seeing the trees glisten in the water, while listening to the deafening silence, puts you in touch with your thoughts. It's so quiet there you can hear the leaves fall and the wind in the trees. The water is
so still and calm that skipping rocks almost seems criminal. And although I am a city girl at heart, being there makes me appreciate the beauty in nature and the quiet peace that can come when you separate yourself from the world and everything that crowds out your passion.

Thoreau went to the pond because he wanted to write. But even more importantly, he wanted to get the most from his life by determining what was really important, and he did that by removing himself somewhat from his normal life. He did this by living a simple life in the woods. He also took the time to seek spiritual renewal--much like a spiritual retreat. He expressed his purpose quite simply:

"I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived"

Living deliberately can be hard. The day to day dramas and the responsibilities of life sometime crowd out our discoveries. And these days, I'm all about those discoveries.

This blog will chronicle my pursuit and hopefully remind me to "suck out all the marrow of life"

Living Deliberately,
Walden Fan