Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Core of Things

Been thinking a lot over the past year about my childhood. Feel intuitively that it went wrong somewhere... but just can't place my finger on it and its really beginning to frustrate me. Id really like to know; does EVERYONE struggle so much with their self image? Is it just me who always secretly feels this constant yearning to do more, be more, and at the same time a constant, barely audible voice that says, "You're not meant for that, you aren't good enough", like an opposing force that keeps me down, an internal gravity. Does everyone feel this way or is it specific to me? Either way I'm extremely curious; if everyone has this inner saboteur, where the heck does that come from?! (See previous blog I wrote on evolution, maybe...). If it's just me, why am I this way?

So I've been pondering and pondering my childhood. You'd think one would have unlimited access to their own childhood, I mean, I was there, I experienced it so I should be able to remember what went wrong. It isn't that easy, for anybody, I'm sure. There are years and years of memories and most of them now have no emotion attached to it; it's like a movie you watch in your head, about someone else, although you know it happened to you it isn't  happening now, so it doesn't feel so relevant. The past is funny like that; it no doubt shaped who we are today, and yet it's over and gone, it no longer exists. I think and think, seeking for my little saboteur.... where are you?!! And once I find you, then what?

Thinking about childhood has given me an interesting perspective that I think most adults have long forgotten. I try to put myself back there; what did it feel like to be a child? I try to bring back the emotions. When I really meditate on it, I can feel the vibrations of young life, the wiggles. I can't find any articles online to support the idea that children vibrate, but if you concentrate on the feeling of childhood... you can feel it. Each day was brimming with anticipation, an opportunity to learn and experience something new, the possibilities were endless and at the same time, who thought about possibilities? Anything is possible! Then, at some point, you start to be depressingly aware of limitations; you want to go to the movies but no one can drive you, you want to buy a toy but you don't have enough allowance saved, etc. Experts say putting limits on children helps them feel secure, and when I became a young mother I believed that. I thought, "my mother was too lenient, that's why I lack self esteem". So, are limitations nurturing, or damaging? Everyone experiences them, which brings me back to my original question....  is everyone damaged by limitations enforced by our modern day civilization/society? Possibly, but lets just assume again that I have an extra portion of self doubt, specific to me.

I had this crazy, scary experience a few months ago where I smoked some "herbs" or "incense", ya know, like Demi More's recent experience, if you didn't read about it google it, I read the extended story in Peoples magazine while waiting to see the periodontist.... Anyway, there are some currently legal "herbs" you can buy at a head shop; not marijuana but a similar high... unless you inhale a bit too much, which I did one evening. I had this panicked, edge of life and death experience (maybe I was on the verge of losing consciousness and convulsing, like Demi did, although I think her overall poor health had more to do with her episode than the drug) followed by some pretty dramatic/emotional dives into my childhood memory bank. I became my 9/10 year old self, literally, in my mind I was there, and the one resonating theme of emotion I experienced was self doubt, specifically the thought that I was ugly. Why did I think I was ugly, and why did/does that still seem to affect my feelings of self worth and potential?

My bad trip seemed like a breakthrough but I'm still at a bit of a loss at what to do with that information.... Obviously I was mirroring my mother's insecurities, and/or was a victim of corporate advertising and the media's emphasis on physical perfection, aren't most women? Don't most of us feel pressured to attain this image of perfection that is truly unattainable for 99% of the female population? And all the while it's a fact that men (assuming that's who we feel the need to look perfect for) are not as obsessed with this perfection as we are anyway? All this is information I know now, so why would a childhood insecurity have this great of an impact on my current psyche? "I'm ugly" goes a bit deeper for me, possibly?

I'd really like to hear other peoples feelings on this; self doubt, insecurity, if you know you have it and you know where it came from, please share :)  And if anyone has figured out what to do with that information, i'd love to hear!

Humbly yours :P
Miss Z

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Love Evolution

Been thinking.... A LOT. Can't begin to re-trace the train of events and the flow of thought that led me to the spiritual revelation which I received today but I'll try and explain the concepts that led me there.... using a somewhat mathematical breakdown. Basically, I believe that right now, while a few wise ones (comparatively speaking) have already been able to achieve it, we are at a cusp in time when the masses achieve an evolution of consciousness. We are, collectively, going to figure out the meaning/secret to life itself soon.... This is all of what i've been pondering from January of this year through a few days ago:

What makes us different from other species on this planet? THOUGHT. Cognition. Apes have apposable thumbs and can walk almost upright, they could probably achieve most physical feats we can what separates us from them is our ability to think, THAT is how we evolved from ape to man (biological evolutionary science i think supports this as the major change seen between apes and humans is skull shape and size, right?).

We gained the ability to learn about and adapt to our environment and we've been able to achieve an amazing ability to do that- we enjoy a standard of survival (won't say standard of "living" cuz I don't think we've achieved that yet) above any generation before us. But we became so good at it that we began to esteem ourselves as above nature itself- as if we could live beyond the limitations of what our earth (God...?) has put in place for us survive. We are close to completely destroying our very means of survival; we were only given this one planet. Our adaptive nature, from that initial evolutionary moment (ape to man), is making us more and more collectively aware of this problem.

Now, think of what one of the key discoveries was when we were at the last evolutionary moment. Think about the story from Genesis; Adam and Eve. The story goes that instead of eating from "Tree of Life" they bit into the apple from the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil". In my Christian days, I was told by some this was metaphorical and by some it was literal. At the time I read a short book that explained it as metaphorical, not getting into the biting of the apple and what that meant, but explaining  how when it says "God formed man in his image", that doesn't mean if we could see God he would look like a human, it means he created us with free will.... Knowledge! Consciousness! This struck a cord with me and I adopted the belief as my own. But I never could figure out what all that deceiving serpent, apple biting, cast from the garden stuff was about.

Then today I thought, imagine what we might have realized soon after we gained our free will, our knowledge.... that we can/have hurt our brother. Somewhere in the midst (which was probly a span of a few  ten thousand years or so) of this period in our evolution we were at an unique transition; aggression/violence was an act of self-preservation, an instinct, as it is with animals, but we who recently gained knowledge had a dilemma- we felt empathy... compassion... LOVE. How could we kill our fellow man, for any reason? We instantly felt GUILT. So as we gained love we also instantly gained guilt... "the knowledge of good and evil". Think about it, animals don't have true love or guilt.

I watched a program on animal planet once where they were following a family of polar bears. The mother polar bear had 2 cubs, one was robust and healthy, aggressive, the other was smaller and weaker and the mother polar bear sometimes had to intervene and protect him from his brother, or carry him distance. Momma polar bear eventually abandon the weaker cub, because her instinct told her that helping him along would compromise the survival of herself and her stronger cub. She did what she, instinctively, had to do. Just as male lions will fight and kill others to protect they're tribe, ensuring the survival of their offspring. We now have the capacity to ensure our survival without violence, there is enough for everyone if we share and respect each others right to live. So why do we still fight?

Now, if you think about it, what separates us the most from our "brother" today? What causes strife? Human dissonance is centered around differences in what we believe is "right" and "wrong"; what constitutes our "right to live". It's an ethical quandry we can never seem to agree on. I've always felt our founding fathers mocked us when they asserted the government would protect the human rights of "life, liberty and happiness"- did they think we'd really agree on the definition of that?!!  Why can't we agree. I've narrowed it down to this: we have guilt because we hurt our brother, this causes us to doubt our intellectual aptitude at all which makes us feel worthless- it's this constant feeling of worthlessness and inherent evil that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy perpetuating this horrible cycle, for what, at least a million years now (idk).

So here is an extremely brief history of the human psyche starting at the dawn of our "birth"; "I love you! Oh no, what have I done?! I am a wretched fool! I am stupid, worthless! If i'm fallible, so are you, you are wrong! I'm wrong, your wrong, we're bad and we do bad things! God help us! Govern us, we're stupid and bad! Make us whole, teach us the way, we'll fight our way in, we'll buy our way in, please tell us we're worthy!!"

THIS is why the corporations, governments, banks, etc have been able to take advantage of us and control us. They've helped perpetuate and kept this self lie going because it profits them (they are the few victims of extraordinary knowledge coupled with intense guilt, passed down over generations). We are unworthy and vulnerable simply because we think we are, we are violent simply because we think we are. "Evil" is guilt in disguise, and guilt is all in our heads. But what came before the feeling of guilt was the feeling of LOVE. Love is our true nature, love is part of the knowledge that separates us from other species. When we accept this, when we forgive ourselves, and our brother, we can reconcile with love, and know peace on earth. I believe these were the real teachings of Jesus.

It's time to reconcile with our true nature and take the next step in evolution from surviving on this planet to living on it. The only barrier is ignorance (in the literal and NOT judgmental sense). When we collectively overcome ignorance, and gain our new knowledge we will adapt by reconciling with love. It's the next evolutionary step and the vibration of it's fast approaching is already being felt- this is at the essence of the Occupy movement; a peaceful call, a spiritual hum resonating in anticipation of this evolutionary phase.
2012.... Bring it on!

Pretty confident in this philosophy (and pretty sure someone has philosophized it before) but as always, open to ideas,
Miss Z

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

worm hole to the truth of my existence

Ever have a reacurring dream? I only have 4 that I can remember; the one where I miss the bus, show up to school half naked and have to go potty in a bathroom stall with 3 ft high walls, then there's the one about the red house/barn on the country road (that's all I remember bout that one) then one where I'm living in a house and suddenly discover it has secret rooms and whole living spaces I hadn't known about.. then there's the one I had last night.
When I'm in the dream I realize I've had it before, but by the time I wake up I forget it and don't realize it's recurring until the next time i'm dreaming it, but when I wake up I forget about it again... This ever happen to anyone else? Anyway, I woke up this morning remembering and was astonished. In the dream I embark on a secret passageway. This changes (much like the house with the secret rooms) it could be indoors one time I dream it and outdoors in the woods another time, but all the same it's a secret path and I'm traveling it for the same reason. Every time it seems like a long journey, and it feels like one I don't make very often because I have to think about "ok go through this door, turn here" etc. I remember the way half by landmarks and half by instinct. For instance, last night I was traveling indoors, and I had to move a refrigerator to get through one of the doors I needed to pass through. I was in some random persons house moving their refrigerator to get through a secret door and they weren't very pleased I had to make haste because they were yelling at me. It's always like that; a little risky, a little frightening and takes several hours to reach my destination, on foot.
When I reach where I'm going, it never seems very climactic and usually I just turn around and head back! Never really discovering any reason for going in the first place, I just seem to be compelled to make this journey. Often I'm showing someone else the way (I'm alone only about half the times I dream it) but end up having no real purpose in showing them it's just like "Ok we're here", then we go back.
Well last night, I got to the end of the passageway, with my companion, and stopped to look around. I found myself in a room filled with lost objects from my childhood. Things I remember my mother, grandmother or great grandmother having in their homes when I was small. It seemed literally like a consignment shop, or maybe a storage unit, filled with the earliest memories from my childhood. It suddenly occurred to me why I had come; I was there to take things I needed for my new apartment. I had the sense I was starting over from scratch and had nothing. I was going to take some long lost relics from the past and put them back into use. I browsed the room picking out items I wanted, with total confidence in my right to these things and feeling an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and a calming comfort in these objects; like sitting in the warm lap of my great grandmother as she rocked me and sang me a lullaby. I felt at total peace with my past, like all was right and I ended up right where I belonged.
That's the best I can describe it. One of those dreams you hope you have again. Feels like I'm on the brink of discovering something really deep and revealing about myself lately; some missing piece that will make everything clear.... help me to unlock my true potential, my purpose. Dunno if any one else ever thinks bout stuff like this... may sound like the ramblings of a schizophrenic :p

Abyss diving enigma pondering,
Miss Z

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parenting Breakthrough

It's been slow progress launching my eldest into adulthood. I was so different from her; in such a rush to grow up when I was younger. When I became pregnant my mother completely handed me the ball, and I'll forever thank her for that. At the same time, I grew up with financial anxiety; between a struggling single mother and the influence of a great grandmother who lived like she was still surviving the great depression, my money was always on my mind. I vowed never to let my children feel like I may not be able to provide them with everything they needed and almost anything they wanted. So now as the parent of a teenager, I find myself caught between these two objectives; wanting to teach my daughter responsibility and how to fend for herself, but not wanting her to feel that she's totally on her own and that I can still care for her. This has been an ongoing battle over the last couple years.

I gave myself a little pat on the back when I finally got her to get her drivers license, but since then getting her to find a part time job has been the new hurdle. She said she was too busy with school and field hockey last year, then she quit field hockey and said school alone was just too hard and she'd wait till the summer then when the summer came she said she couldn't really commit to anything because she had all these plans throughout the summer (going to Block Island with her boyfriend, etc). So here we are, end of August and school about to start again and she's still making excuses. I gave her money for back to school shopping because afterall she's still in high school, living with me, I'm responsible for her and I would have felt guilty if I said "no". Then she worked at my mothers restaurant a few days the following week, made a decent weeks pay (for a teenager) went to the mall and bought herself more new stuff and even a birthday gift for her friend! I didn't say anything but made a promise to myself that I wouldn't be giving anymore handouts until Christmas.

So a few days ago she mentioned her friends were going out to dinner and invited her, but she had no money, could she borrow some.  I pointed out that she had money a week ago and spent it and still owed me for half the price of the pricey sneakers I bought her. She squirmed and looked away in discomfort of being confronted with her financial irresponsibility. I knew that she knew that I knew, and she knew too.... I confidently said, "Sorry Charlie, no can do", and walked away, end of convo. What did I encounter an hour later? Her sitting at the table circling ads in the Help Wanted section! She returned some expensive make-up she had bought so she had the money to go out to dinner with her friends, then the next day, went down to Leo's and applied for a waitress position! :D

Whats the moral of the story here guys? Balance of course! Parenting is a careful balancing act between your deep love for your child (be aware, some of that may be guilt your still dealing with from your childhood) and the duty to raise them to be a responsible and contributing member of society. I sighed a deep breath of relief this week that I seem to be keeping it in balance.
Loving life, keeping it real,
Mzzz Z

Friday, August 26, 2011

Grad School Application Essay

OK, I think this is MUCH better than my original, highly autobiographical and a bit TMI on some pretty personal stuff. Again, feedback is appreciated :)

.My name is Erin Zaffis and I’m applying to the Integrated Health and Healing program. Having worked as a registered nurse for the last 12 years, added to a life-long interest in environmental issues, has caused me to feel that in the very near future health care will become highly focused on health promotion, disease prevention and natural alternatives to the current expensive and often toxic therapies. I will explain why I firmly believe this, but first, I’d like to give you a little history about myself; the story of how I got to where I am today is an interesting one. I’ll attempt to keep it short and pertinent.
     People have always told me I have a creative mind. If that’s true, and I think it is, I would deny that this is solely the work of genetics and point to my upbringing; five key years of which were spent in Northern California. It was my sister, my (single) mother and I living in a coastal town about 50-plus miles north of San Francisco. We were far away and secluded from any highways, malls, theme parks, Chuck E. Cheese’s and most other trademarks of modern American culture. My eyes and my heart absorbed the beauty and diversity of this place; ocean, sand, tide pools full of cold water marine life, rocky cliffs topped with hardy grass and native succulents, foggy mornings, redwood forests and colorful townspeople with contrasting lifestyles and views. I had an insatiable curiosity which turned the one acre forest in our back yard into my personal school and laboratory. Once I discovered the freedom that learning how to ride on two wheels brought me, the small town became my very own Disney World. I explored every corner of it finding new secrets, treasures and pleasures. Did I mention we had no television? I’m forever grateful that for those years my mother and nature were my greatest teachers rather than numerous American advertising executives. I became a doer and an independent thinker. I’m still not sure exactly what switch flipped when we moved back to New England. We returned to our quiet farm town to find it quickly transforming into a wealthy suburb. I suppose this culture shock introduced at a vulnerable time in my life (early teens) caused me to feel a bit lost. At 15 I met a boy and “fell in love”. Before I was able to develop the vision of the adult I wanted to become, I threw my whole identity into who I would become with this person. It was no surprise I was pregnant at 16 and a mother by 17.
Within the first year after my daughter was born I came to the realization that in order to adequately support her I would need a college education. My high school guidance counselor pointed me in the direction of nursing, with its boasts of a growing job market, flexibility and good pay. I enjoyed people and excelled in science, so logically it seemed like a good fit. I also had a personal interest in childbirth; the birth of my daughter was somewhat traumatic and left me feeling abused by the health care system. I saw an opportunity, as a maternity nurse, to create positive change. I’m not sure what my drive and tenacity can be attributed to; I suppose that’s where genetics comes into play. Statistically it is unlikely that teenage mothers will attain their college degree, and yet after 4 years (and a summer) I had earned my Bachelor’s in Nursing, graduating with honors. By this time my daughter was ready to start kindergarten and her father and I had gotten married.
I struggled with my new career as a nurse. I didn’t feel I fit in with the hardened and cynical women who ruled the hospital floors and I also didn’t feel I was helping any of my patients with their countless prescribed medications and expensive diagnostic tests; few of them ever seemed to get better. Their hopeless conditions mirrored my hopelessness for a comfortable niche in the profession I had chosen. Just as I was ready to give up on nursing, I landed the job I had desired, on the maternity floor. My new role as health promoter and educator suited me much better, but I found myself frustrated with the maternity care system, which I began to see as wasteful, borderline barbaric, and very reluctant to change.
Everything started to turn around after the birth of my second daughter; when I was offered a position at the natural birthing center adjacent to the maternity floor (where I had birthed her). Finally I was doing something I truly believed in; assisting with births that were treated as a beautiful, spiritual, natural female rite of passage and not as a surgical procedure. I started reading up on midwifery and natural childbirth. I took over teaching classes that the midwives previously taught and reorganized the birthing and supplies rooms to make our work easier. Within 4 years I went from a per diem position, to the (only) full time on-call position, to manager of the small unit. I also became a La Leche League Leader after the birth of my third daughter. I was taking on more of a leadership role and slowly gaining confidence in my abilities as a nurse, collaborator and educator. As I was building my career and my confidence grew, so did the widening rift between my spouse and I. I decided to file for divorce in early 2009; I still revere this as the hardest decision of my life. By that August I was moved out on my own, with my 3 girls now ages 15, 7 and 3.
At 32 years old, this was my first time ever living on my own; truly independent and not accountable to any other adult. I embraced the freedom like a prisoner released after half a lifetime. The world was suddenly all new to me and wide open calling for me to taste of all that I had missed out on. It was like the 32 year old me went back in time, took the 15 year olds hand and said, “Ok now, we’ve been stalling for too many years, it’s time to find out who we really are.” Today I am humored to find myself gone full circle, right in the place I feel I started; a curious and experimental child of the earth, finding great inspiration in nature and learning great respect for it. I’ve taken another look at my roots; what I was taught when I lived in Northern California from the many conservationists (aka, “tree huggers”) who resided there. Looking at the world from an environmental standpoint has given me a very different perspective. I see humans living in total disconnect from their planet, as if they’ve been transported to another (Hollywood) dimension where life endlessly endures no matter what; there is no cause and effect, no consequences. I see a world where instant gratification has led to perpetual dissatisfaction and the never ending pursuit of happiness through the acquisition of things. I would love to be a catalyst for change; to help people break out of this cycle of consumption, debt, sickness, sadness and more consumption.
I took a weekend seminar in March of this year on “Transition Initiative”, a movement that began in England and is now spreading to all industrialized civilizations across the globe. “Transition” is a movement based on the reality of growing populations and higher standards of living coupled with limited resources. It takes a serious look at how we might face the challenges of the future, having spent the last 50 years in denial of our confinement on this one planet. I have decided to have hope for the human race; believing we can drastically change our thinking and find a way to pull together and create a future that is actually better than the current state of affairs. Concerning health care, as we move towards sustainable communities it is reasonable to believe people may naturally be healthier; consuming less processed foods. For what conditions still linger, we will have to develop new, less energy consumptive methods of treatment. It is exciting when I think of how we might combine effective ancient health care practices with the knowledge we’ve gained through years of medical research that industrialization has afforded us.  I also came to the realization that in the future people will most likely be living closer to each other, as transportation becomes more expensive. Mental health care will become very important in newly compacted communities. So, as you can see, it seems logical that health care will naturally trend towards a more holistic approach.
I consider myself lucky that I am able to identify, accept, and (hopefully) embrace the drastic changes we face over the next 20 years, but I realize I am the minority. I have given much thought to how the majority might be gently guided towards necessary changes in their attitudes and lifestyles. I have decided to lean towards health promotion, which is already gaining popularity, taking the stance that personal health and the environment are two matters that really cannot be removed from one another. I am working on an idea to combine my two passions by inspiring people to take up bicycling, which naturally merges needed exercise with sustainable transportation. Like other activities I enjoyed in my youth (nature, art, music) I have taken up cycling again and have developed a real passion for it. City people are comfortable on 2 wheels but I’m discovering suburban folks are not and I’d like to start locally by offering beginner classes in cycling. I am collaborating with a local bike shop owner to offer these classes starting in the spring. I've also started a blog ( and have a website in the works. I’d really like to see where this could go.
In conclusion, I see my education through The Graduate Institute helping me in any direction I choose to take; as a continuing member of a health care team or as an entrepreneur. In either event, my ultimate goal in life has always been to be a positive influence; on the lives of individuals, on the world as a whole, and probably most importantly, as a role model for my three amazing daughters.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Green Bike Blog: This blog is under construction!

The Green Bike Blog: This blog is under construction!: "Still working on it folks. Many ideas came and went in the course of 24 hours, hope to have it all sorted out by the end of the week and st..."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Seasonal "Meatless Monday"

But as you know you are rarely going to get a broken down, step by step recipe from me.  I don't really use them either, and when I create in the kitchen and it comes out good I have to sit there thinking "what the heck did I put in this?"  This particular time, the meal was half eaten before I realized it was so good I should blog about it! So, sorry this isn't the best pic:
What is it, you ask? A concoction of veggies we got from our garden! Spaghetti squash and zucchini roasted in the oven then shredded. Topped that off with cauliflower, broccoli and kale sauteed with olive oil and garlic, mixed up with a few Tbsp raw pesto I had made a few days ago (basil, olive oil, garlic, raw cashews, raw pine nuts, lemon juice).  Sliced up some sun dried tomatoes and threw those on there along with some sea salt and some mock Parmesan cheese (raw cashews, garlic, sea salt processed to a grated Parmesan consistency- so easy and great way to make a vegan cheese topping!).  Cory used regular Parmesan cheese and insisted that was better, and also convinced me to put a few dashes of hot sauce on there- he puts hot sauce on almost everything, but yeah it was good.