Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Introduction

HI, WORLD!!!  I love you!!!

Please accept my reverent and joyful respect!

Thanks so much for being you, and for honoring me by reading my words!  ^_^

I am looking forward to getting to know you, if you choose to stick around!  <3

Here's a little about me...

I'm currently 32 1/2 years old, happily married with two kids (a seven-year-old son -- who's actually from my first marriage, which ended in divorce -- and a one-year-old daughter) and another baby on the way, due in November.

I was born and raised in California, in an ISKCON family.  ISKCON stands for "International Society for Krishna Consciousness."  It's a worldwide organization that was started by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, whom we refer to as "Srila Prabhupada," in 1966.  If you'd like to read more about it, here is a brief explanation on the organization's official website.  They need to update their page, as they speak there of ISKCON being "less than fifty years on the global stage" although our 50th anniversary just took place, but it is still a good summary description of our movement, which is commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement.  :)

The word that we ISKCON members generally used to refer to ourselves and each other (as distinct from non-members) was "devotees."  (Non-members were called "karmis.")

I loved growing up in a devotee family.  My mom and I used to watch Hindi movies (with English subtitles) about Lord Rama and Krishna (i.e., different forms of the one Supreme Lord) together since before I even learned to speak.  My favorite movie was "Sita Swayamvar" (a title now often sold as "Sita's Wedding").  God, I loved that movie -- and still do.  It is so exquisite.

I also loved our books.  Srila Prabhupada translated our volumes and volumes of scriptures from Sanskrit and Bengali into English, and different disciples of his had transcribed and edited them, painted many, many pictures to illustrate them, and formed a publishing house called the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust for publishing them.  My family had them all.  They filled a glass-doored bookcase in our living room, and I used to love opening that bookcase, taking out different holy books (the many volumes of the Srimad-Bhagavatam were my favorite!!), carrying them over to the couch and sitting down to immerse myself in the wonderful pictures.  I was so entranced by all those intriguing and beautiful depictions of the Lord's pastimes in His many incarnations, and by the stories that went with them.

From the time I could first hold pens, pencils and crayons, I was making my own pictures and writing my own thoughts about Sita, Rama and Lakshmana, or Krishna and His devotees.  The Lord and His pastimes filled my mind, and although I have since become distracted by many other things, He still owns my heart.

All my life I have known that my calling was to write (as well as to draw pictures).  I could never relate to people who didn't know what they wanted to be when they grew up.  For me there was never any doubt that I wanted to be an author and illustrator of books.  Books were my favorite thing.  Creative writing was my favorite school subject, but I also loved spelling (which came easily to me because of all the reading I did plus my sharp eye for detail and great memory), and I enjoyed doing book reports so much that I would sometimes do extra ones for fun, beyond what I had to do for school.  Each year when I got my new reading textbook full of short stories, I would devour the whole thing right away.  The library was always a favorite place to go, and later in my childhood and teens, I didn't consider my birthday celebration complete without a trip to the bookstore as part of the fun.

Other Hare Krishna children, including my own older brother, had gone through the experience of being placed in boarding schools called "gurukulas," both within the U.S. and abroad, for their schooling.  Their parents believed they were doing the best thing for their children by placing them there, but to everyone's utter horror, the truth eventually emerged that many, many of these children had undergone unspeakable abuses of every description at those schools.  My brother also had endured this abuse.  After thus losing trust in the gurukulas, my parents decided to keep me and my younger brother at home.  I was homeschooled all the way up until I graduated with a G.E.D. at the age of 16 after deciding I was tired of having other people tell me what I needed to study.  I was bursting with ideas of my own as to what I wanted to learn, and I felt that the standard curriculum was simply wasting my precious time.

Growing up with creative, energetic, fun-loving, accomplished, positive and goal-oriented parents who always encouraged and believed in me, I thought I could do anything I wanted.  Anything I set my mind to and had the intelligence, creativity, patience and diligence to achieve, I believed would be mine; it was only a matter of time.  Where there's a will, there's a way, right?  And I had so much creativity, passion, diligence, patience and determination.  So I dreamed big and fully expected to see my dreams come true someday.

I wanted to help save the world.  I was especially moved by the plight of helpless creatures unable to speak for themselves, like animals, insects and trees.  The fact that all other species on earth were viewed by most people as much less important than humans and basically existing for the benefit of humans struck me as horrifyingly, disgustingly self-centered and outrageously unfair on the part of mankind.  I wanted to save all the poor, downtrodden, underdog species from cruel treatment at the hands of unenlightened humans.  I had grown up vegetarian as part of being a Hare Krishna, and I desperately wanted to see the whole world adopt vegetarianism and nonviolence.  I wanted to use my writing to help open people's minds and hearts to the feelings and rights of others.

I also wanted to write fantasy stories and novels that would be enjoyable, and perhaps engage in other fun, creative pursuits like role-playing games, cosplay and informal drama with like-minded friends.  I loved other crafts besides just writing and drawing, and I was very much drawn to the fashions and lifestyles of bygone eras, so I wanted to learn how to spin my own yarn and thread, how to knit, weave, sew and embroider, and how to make natural dyes so that I could make my own costumes from the ground up.  I used to use quills and fountain pens, and making my own paper and ink was another wish of mine, as was the idea of making candles to read and work by after dark.  I used to dream of making my own soap, pottery, baskets, jewelry... basically, everything.  I dreamed of having a self-sufficient homestead surrounded by woods, and gathering all of my family's food from our wild environs, gardens, orchards, and dairy.  I dreamed of having horses and carts or buggies... I never liked cars and never wanted to learn to drive them.  I wanted to live a mostly old-fashioned non-electric lifestyle, but to use solar batteries or other small, eco-friendly sources of electricity to power the few modern conveniences that I felt were essential for me.

I did do some of those things... I engaged in fantasy role-playing games with my friends, I learned to spin, I could sew (by hand) and embroider, I made a few pottery pieces when I took a handbuilding pottery class, I made a little jewelry by putting together different elements that I had ordered from a catalogue, I helped my parents in the garden (and I never learned to drive a car)... but for the most part, I have had to learn the very important lesson that I can't do it all by myself.  In fact, I can barely do ANYTHING by myself, if it isn't my forte or something I absolutely love to do.  When it comes to learning something new or doing a task that feels like drudgery to me, I can do it and do it well, but I function much better if someone else is taking care of other necessary tasks, leaving me free to focus on the one I am doing -- to take my time and complete it thoroughly and peacefully.  Multitasking is NOT. MY. THING, and I am not one of those amazing Energizer Bunny people who can accomplish tons and tons of stuff every day.  Just a few things, done slowly, but well and thoroughly, with attention to detail -- that's my style.  Accepting my limitations has been a difficult and bitter lesson for me to learn.  I have poisoned myself with desperate and miserable self-hatred; I have sunk into depression time and again.  But I think I have finally learned that I am simply a small and limited being who can only do as much as God enables me to do and no more -- and that is OK.  I am still worthy of love, and I have to love myself.  I have to be completely understanding and forgiving toward myself regarding my limitations.  I have to do the best I can, and be happy with that.  That is enough -- from me.

But unfortunately that leaves my house a never-ending, disorganized mess, which I absolutely hate.  And I don't feel that I or my family should have to live like that.  So it follows that I need help.  But from whom?  My kids are too young to be much help (my one-year-old daughter, on the contrary, seems highly dedicated to un-helping with the housework; in her mind, apparently, everything -- EVERYTHING -- belongs on the floor, and she works assiduously toward this end at every opportunity).  My husband works full-time and cherishes his chance to relax when he's home.  My parents have moved to India, and though my mom does come and spend a month or two with us twice a year, I don't want to be forever waiting for her next visit to restore normalcy and livability to our household, just to have things go back to dreadful, un-livable mess again as soon as she leaves.  What I'd really like is to live next door to my best friend, so that we can help each other out with childcare, cooking and housework on a daily basis.  But that ain't happening, at least not yet.  So what to do?  I don't know.  I don't think we have enough money to hire help yet.  I'm not sure... I just know we've got soooo many places to put money and it feels like there's barely enough to get by.  I've thought of getting a job, but I was raised with "traditional family values" and I guess I still believe my rightful place is at home.  I do have friends around here, but mostly everyone just stays in their own home and takes care of their own stuff.  I've received general/non-specific offers of help -- "anything you need, just ask, OK?" -- but it is SO dang hard to call someone up and ask them to do something for you, like cook for your family or come over and clean your house, if you're not offering them something in exchange -- like money or better yet, the same type of favor in return.  But we haven't got much money -- and how can I help take care of another family when I can barely take care of my own???  I feel like I'm trapped in hell and there's no way out.  I keep on enduring the mess, day after day -- hoping I'll have the chance to get to it one of these days and at least make SOME progress on whipping this place into shape -- hating it when that keeps not happening -- seeing no hope on the horizon except my mom's next visit -- and that hope isn't a very bright one because even with two of us here, there's still more work to be done than we can ever get around to.  I groan for the days when big, extended families used to live together, and everyone generally had a great work ethic -- when there truly were many hands to make light work of the daily tasks.  I dream of living in a communal or traditional village setting, where your neighbors don't just issue vague offers of help if you need it, but actually make it their business to come over and see you, and if you need help in any way, they are there for you.  I think lots and lots and LOTS of people are really desperate for more help and support, and a more deep, true, satisfying bond with their friends and neighbors, whether they realize it or not.  How can we make that happen???  How can we knit communities together more closely again, as in olden days?

I wish I knew.  I can try to come up with ideas, but better yet would be to brainstorm ideas with others who are committed to the same project.  Alone, I feel like I have no energy to carry out anything I might come up with.  Like ideas, I believe energy is contagious when enthusiastic teamwork is at play.

I just pray that God will connect me with others who observe the same need in society and want to do something to fix the situation.