In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Monday, December 31, 2012

I Better Get a Move On

Today I came across a website listing the Wonders of the World.  The list is divided into categories:  eight lists with seven wonders in each as well as a final catch-all ninth list with 13 wonders from all over the world.  Being one of those people who love lists, and feeling cocky about my traveling credentials, I eagerly counted those I have visited.  Imagine my dismay at how many of the world's wonders I have yet to see. 

Here is my own personal list:


List 1 -  The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Of these, only one exists today, but it is an important one:  the Great Pyramid of Giza.  I can't quite forgive myself for missing out on that one, and need a plan to remedy this.   

I do give myself some credit for visiting Olympia last summer where I read about the legendary statue of Zeus which was once there - and a Wonder of the Ancient World.


List 2 - The Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind

 I did much better with this one, having been to the Colosseum, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  However, there are four locations I have never visited.





List 3 - The Seven Natural Wonders of the World

For this category, I can only claim two wonders: the Grand Canyon and the Northern Lights.  I've actually been to the Grand Canyon more than once and seen the Northern Lights twice, so do those count as four?

List 4 - The Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

I  did even worse here since the only location on the list I've been to is the Galapagos Islands




Since I snorkeled for the first time in the Galapagos only five years ago, I guess this isn't so bad.








List 5 - The Seven Wonders of the Modern World

I was surprised that out of this list, I've only been to the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate BridgeFive more to go.


Lists 6, 7, 8 and 9 detail what they call the "Forgotten" Wonders 

I was unable to determine just what constituted a wonder being forgotten, so I can only surmise that there wasn't room for these places on the "A" lists.  As they include some of what I consider extremely important buildings and beautiful natural locations, it is hard for me to see how they could have been outvoted. However, since there are also many stunning places that weren't mentioned at all, I have to wonder who could have possibly forgotten those as well.  Since the 9th list comprised 13 forlorn wonders, what would a few more hurt?


From these four lists, I have collected Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, the Parthenon, the Statue of Liberty and Gateway Arch in St. Louis (listed with the Eiffel Tower and the Parthenon? Really?).  How strange that the "forgotten wonders" are the ones I've been to the most.

As for one more from this list, last summer when I visited Tanzania, I was very close to Mount Kilimanjaro.  However, since it was night when I arrived, and the mountain was shrouded in mist during the day, I never actually saw it.  That will be my excuse to go back.

So, of the 63 wonders listed, I've only seen 14.  Obviously I've got some traveling to do

For the full lists, visit Wonder Club.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Let the Light Shine

    Today on this second day of winter in Northern California, a steady rain falls from a gloomy sky.  Contrary to the Mayan calendar predictions, the world still exists and we are still left to muddle through our muddly human lives.

When I woke this morning to the chilly gloom, I went around turning on the Christmas lights strung throughout the house.  Although I was raised in a Christian household, I know that there are many other spiritual traditions that center around light at this time of the year.  Today it is easy to understand why.

As I pack my suitcase to visit my family in even gloomier Portland, I am cheered by the promise of more lights, including the light of love.  Isn't that all any of us can really count on?  

So, everyone, let your own light shine - in whatever form that takes for you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


This year my birthday is 12/12/12, the last time in this century that such a triple digit date will occur, and  according to the ancient Mayans, it is supposed to be a day that begins a complete spiritual transformation. While not expecting any miracles today, I do find it interesting that in the last few days before my numerically special birthday I've gathered a few seeds of that could grow into something significant.

  About a month ago I wrote about one of my writing quandaries:  what can I consider "real" writing?  Should I count the writing I do for my teaching job as part of my writing regimen? I received loads of advice from people who all basically told me that I should change the way I view the place writing takes in my life.  Of course, being a stubborn first-born I didn't really listen to them.  Or maybe  like many people, I needed to hear this lesson over and over before I could figure out how to listen to them.  So now I've been hit over head a few more times -- and finally the message has gotten through.  

First I received a post from one of the blogs I follow:  Writing Through Life by Amber Lea Starfire. Titled Blogtalk: A Writer's Attitude  this post discussed the same issue I have been struggling with:  should all the writing I do that is not "creative" count as part of my writing life.  Ms. Starfire says yes! Her advice has encouraged me to pay more attention to all the writing I do thoughout my days and make sure that I work to craft everything I write with attention and care.
  Then I found a link to a beautiful video created by David Shiyang Liu that is based on a lecture by Ira Glass: Ira Glass on Storytelling.  Glass discussed the dilemma that a beginner in any field faces: that the craft she produces cannot come close to her aspirations.  Instead, the beginner artist must persevere in spite of the disparity between her ability and the ideal to which she aspires. While not technically a beginner in the writing field, like most writers I know, I do suffer from writer-doubt.  So it was good to hear encouragement - once again - about not letting imperfections stifle my writing.  While I know all this, sometimes I need to be reminded.

And the final piece to the puzzle came together when a friend shared an article on Facebook:  The Art of Being Still by Silas House published in the Opinion Pages.  In this article, House offered advice on learning to cultivate what he calls a stillness of mind that would enable me to go through the day observing the world from a writer's point of view.  By doing this, writers can consider themselves as writing everyday even when not physically putting words to paper.  While it would be tempting to take advantage of this technique to the exclusion of actual writing, I decided to try it that very day.  While driving to a friend's house, I practiced my stillness of mind.  During that 30 minute drive, I thought about several new ideas for a memoir piece I've started including some inspired on the weather I contemplated that day.  

I also got the idea for this blog post.  So happy birthday to me.