Hillbilly to Hebrew

I recall during the early years of grade school, a teacher had asked us to find out about our ancestry. So, I went to my best resource, Mom.

I asked “what are we Mom?”

Well, she must have been in fine humor that day because she answered me “hillbilly”.

And that’s what I reported back to the class.

I’m really glad that I don’t recall the reaction, as I’m certain that teacher was moved to either shock or laughter!

Seriously!

I thought Hillbilly was my label for a long while.

It did make sense, somewhat.

The family reunions for Mom’s side were happy, musical affairs, always including acoustic guitars, tambourines, banjos and mandolins. Bluegrass was always the theme, and quite a few of the relatives could play and sing.

There’s a small town (population 200 or so) that several of the relatives call home, so when we all assembled to enjoy each other’s company, moving from house to house – mostly barefoot – it seemed like it was “our town”.

They’re fabulous memories to have: My hillbilly memories.

For the record, it turns out I’m mostly German/English.

Whatever that means.

You see, I’ve transitioned.

I don’t want to be thought of as hillbilly

or German

or English.

I have a preference now, and no – it’s really not Hippy either, hehehe.

Because I’ve taken the label of Hebrew – in fact, it was a label that was given me by my Priest.

Accepted; willingly, eagerly, and with great respect for the serious implications that it requires.

You see, I have agreed to keep the law of Torah as best I can in a world that is not conducive to Torah.

It’s sobering.

It’s complicated, yet breathtakingly simple.

If only all things were so simple!

Here’s To Health

For the first time in my life, I find myself staring at an ensemble of pill bottles each day. I said I’d never do this.

To be fair, one bottle is aspirin and one is sub-lingual B-12 and the other is grape seed extract. Not prescription medications, but they’re pill bottles, nonetheless.

They are definitely signs, glaring signals that my body has betrayed me.

You see, I have allowed stress to become a constant companion, effectively overshadowing my beloved intrinsic factor, which is no longer available to couple with the B-12 included in my high consumption of B-12 laden foods.

The result was a shocking failure to recall important details, like words or things that needed done, combined with frequent imbalance, numb fingertips, and a shroud of mind-numbing depression.

Coincidentally, I found that my cerebral small blood vessels are not faring well and are aging more quickly than I. In order to pump up their elasticity and stave off stroke or dementia/alzheimer’s, I’ve conceded that daily aspirin or grape seed extract will be my new brain food.

I sort of feel that I’ve succumbed, pulled out the white flag and surrendered to those things to which I had been so solidly at odds. I hang my head in shame and confess: OTC (over the counter) is my new daily regime.

During childhood, having little means for frills, my parents raised us kids with very little medical intervention. I recall the trips to the hospital for two raging kidney infections, and doctor visits for the festered wound that hadn’t healed because a sliver of glass still rested inside, and the insect bite on my sister’s knee which almost left her unable to walk as the swelling intensified (that knee was HUGE). Naturally, when my brother lost the end of his finger, there was a trip to the hospital, and similarly when he broke his collarbone. Otherwise, I cannot recall seeking medical care. We were treated at home.

Then I witnessed my mom’s deterioration due to progressing multiple sclerosis. She was ever ready to try another method to stave off the slow march of physical loss, as she had witnessed her cousin’s drastic and fatal decline from MS. Bee venom therapy, any new drug on the market that her insurance might cover, multiple prescriptions to handle the side effects of the few given to treat her symptoms. And in the last years, she had intense infusions of prednisone, combined with a daily regimen of oral methotrexate (chemotherapy drug).

There was a tray on her kitchen counter to hold the overflowing supply of daily pills she would take. I would watch her assemble her dose, allotting herself a hand full of pills, and this more than once per day! I knew then what I did not want for myself.

That’s the back story, the terms by which I had made my firm stance. Imagine my reaction to a declaration that I likely had multiple sclerosis.

Yes.

You may have guessed my response.

I refused all medical treatment options that were presented to me.

With internet research and regular prompting from my dear friend, I embarked on what has been a three year focus on healthy diet. I really thought that a pure focus on the creation that Almighty put in place, simply plants and animals, could undo the damage I’d done with years of convenience food eating. And I have to declare, it’s worked wonders.

I found that most of the diseases I was facing, or that had symptoms similar to mine, were autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune responses (where the body produces little warriors to go out and destroy its own tissues) are a reaction to inflammation. Inflammation begins in the gut.

Bingo!

I set out to work on addressing the inflammation. (Do a search for anti-inflammatory foods to see where I began).

Elimination of processed foods, initially focused particularly on removal of high fructose corn syrup, and striving to eat only items in packages that contain ingredients I can easily identify has had huge impact.

I’ve also used the ‘Dirty Dozen’ guide to eliminate standard produce and purchase organic or naturally grown produce – or grow my own with no use of pesticides/herbicides.

Grass fed meats are now the only meats we ingest, along with only raw, organic or hormone-free milk. I added highly cultured plain yogurt for improved gut health as well.

The results have been fantastic:

  • The majority of the numbness and tingling is now gone.
  • I now rarely have muscle spasms, and haven’t limped in a long time.
  • My lingering pitting edema is gone, with only a rare case of swollen ankles remaining.
  • As a fabulous side effect, my seasonal allergies have been reduced to a very minor reaction during the most intense seasons. What was a daily snot-fest is now an occasional and rare thing.
  • And my near daily headaches and body aches are a thing of the past.
  • Dietary changes have improved my health significantly!

But this latest information has thrown me a curve ball. I understand the facts: the intrinsic factor necessary for binding the B12 so that it will properly absorb into my body is not working. Am I not producing, or am I producing too much acid via stress and thereby wiping out my little helpers? One method points to a healthy gut, which I have been working on with diligence. The other suggests an overabundance of stress, which I’ve been ever so faithful about creating.

With no option but to forge ahead with life and its accompanying stressors (padding about the home barefoot and pig-tailed on a full time basis in a nirvana-like atmosphere of calm is simply not an option, although I’d gladly pay a doctor to prescribe that!), I’m left to treat the symptomatic malabsorption of B12 by ingesting more than my fair share each day and supplementing with monthly injections.

The last major headache I had was so intense, affecting my vision and making it extremely hard to talk clearly and concisely, so stroke-like in nature, that I’m very attuned to the ever present possibility that I could suffer a stroke. And my Grandmother died with alzheimer’s, which has a tendency to be gene related. Don’t we all do our crossword puzzles and read our novels to keep our minds healthy, to stave off the dreaded ‘old-timer’s’?

So, here’s to health! I’ll pop my daily OTC pills, and continue my healthy diet regimen and be ever so very thankful that I can.

On Behalf of the Cat, and More

It seems that the camps are often split. No matter the topic, the opinion, there’s not much middle ground and all parties line up on one or the other side of the fence, the rope, the line in the sand:

Democrats vs Republicans.

Black vs White.

Country vs Rock and Roll.

Us vs Them.

You vs Me.

Ya know? Why is it always one or the other? What is it about us that makes it so hard to come to terms with each other? Why can’t we just agree to disagree, and get along? Why does it always have to be a competition of opinions?

Okay, not a problem that’s left for me to solve, right? But I can share an opinion about a rather minor sort of split.

Dog vs Cat
I saw a post about animals yesterday and found myself countering a recent cat vs dog post last night. The post is about the difference in how dogs and cats greet their owners.

There’s a photo of a dog, mouth in a happy and open pose, tail in the mid position, obviously in wag mode – and the phrase “omg you’re home, I’ve missed you!”
Then there’s the photo of a cat, kicked back in ownership style on a recliner (presumably the master of the house’s favored chair) and with a look of indifference – and the phrase “I see you’re home, feed me now.”
I’ll concede, I have seen cats act similarly (and there’s no question the dog pose was straight on). The strange thing is, the cats we’ve owned (albeit there have only been two) do not fit that stereotype.

Both of our cats were the first to the door as we came through. Both were vying for attention alongside the dog, and both were extremely happy to get that attention.

For the record, both the dog and the cat are trained to expect a ‘treat’ when My Love comes home from work each day. That may be the key… but I get the same reaction whenever I walk through the door. I don’t give treats by schedule. No sirree bob! It’s always going to be a happy little surprise when it comes from me. I’ve always said that our cats truly think they’re dogs. Perhaps that is where the real secret lies. Who knows.

At any rate, could I judge the whole cat kingdom by mine? Could I presume that all cats will playfully box a dog snout several times during the day and the dog would always playfully nuzzle the cat’s belly? Could I solidly state that every cat would sit at the window watching for our arrival and then be the first to the greet us at the door?

Sorta like saying all Muslims are out to kill Americans, huh? Or like saying all Mexicans are trying to overtake America? No? Maybe it’s like saying all men are pigs, or all cops are power freaks? Or like saying all women are shopping crazed, man-hungry bitches?

See? It’s not that simple. Not one side or the other. And certainly not solid facts splayed across an entire segment of a population based on the action of a few.

I challenge you to see the other side, to read between the lines. I challenge you to not accept every stated fact-ism at face value, but to get to know the real information behind the quote, the article, the statement. I challenge you to check your ‘facts’ before you share them, before you help spread vitriol.

So, to speak on behalf of the cats out there: They’re gettin’ a bad rap. Ya gotta give those cats a break!

Shadowed Rituals

Funerals are never on the top list of things to do. Not the ‘I wanna’ list anyway.

But when a death occurs in the family, or in the family of a dear friend, you offer your support: attend a ritual to help the living move forward and let the dead lie.

That’s how I found myself inside a catholic cathedral last year. (I’m not christian, in case you’re just stopping by – used to be, was trained to be, but then I discovered my beliefs – long story  – follow along if you’d like to know more).

Life in a primarily christian surround becomes an ever-present obstacle course of fluxing themes and cultural inheritances; a deluge of seasonal visual and audio barrages that keep me reeling from sensory overload and instant transport back through my memory banks. There are times when I find myself with a hymn stuck in my head. Damn!

I digress. Back to the funeral. Not where I wanted to be, for certain, but where I went to give formal support to my friends.

There is a definite shadow of Torah upon which the catholic religion is based. I say shadow not to incite, but because when we’re talking about an entirely different god, I cannot with good conscience say that it is built on Torah. Structured to resemble/shadow, yes. Definitely. When you see a good thing… why reinvent the wheel, right?

So I’m watching the incense burner ritual, noticing the priest’s clothing, the washing of hands. I look around me at the grandeur, imagining that there is, at the very least, gold-plating on the vessels. Also, the physical structure of the cathedral, the massive columns, the intricate designs, the lavish shine and polish a replica of the temple built once kings were placed in an unwarranted position and allowed to replace the importance of the priesthood.

Suddenly, I feel the loss of what Almighty designed. The tears I shed are not the same as those shed by the people around me.

The loss of Torah, the exile, is more poignant when you have such a visual reminder.

Granted, those specific rituals would NEVER have been seen by the community. They were not available to the common man or to the Levites. Only Priests entered the Mishkan, and only the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. The only things that may have been witnessed by the community were the sacrifices on the main altar, which stood outside the Mishkan.

The rituals served to bring back to mind the words of Torah, the commands in place for the structures, the rituals, the Priestly commands.

Catholicism has at least retained a decent copy of the hierarchical structure commanded by Almighty. Warped and extremely faulty, in my opinion, but a reminder, nonetheless, of the place Priests were given in Torah. The importance of an eternal heritage, a constant position to serve Almighty and to give the people a conduit for serving Almighty.

These thoughts were forefront as I contemplated the end of my life, in comparison.

What end-of-life closing rituals will I, or should I employ when I feel my life slipping away?

I have no need to accept a savior. I have no hell to fear, no heaven to which to aspire. I’ve no last rites or rituals commanded.

Those commands that I’ve broken are to be atoned as soon as I know them, and restitution made where required. Those commands that I’ve broken unknowingly are graciously covered annually through Yom Kippur.

What I will have is the ending of what I am now.

I reflected on the fact that I hope to have 30 to 40 more years of this life. A lot of time to live the example of my beliefs and to hope for an inheritance to share. A lot of time to watch the world go ticking along, for better or worse. A lot of time to put words on pages. A lot of time for pain, for sorrows, for hardships. A lot of time for beauty and joy and laughter. A lot of time for family and friends and food and work. A lot of time to consider my end.

And at the end, if the time of my end becomes clear to me, I hope to call a dear friend. I hope to make connection with my Priest and to tell him I’m ready for Almighty to give me Shalom. And I hope to sleep with my ancestors.

Intro

Understandably, my voice is only truly important to me. But part of that importance is that I share.

Silly, I know.

A bit surprising, admittedly.

Apparently my ego is a bit larger than I thought. This is my little act of voyeurism.

Posts will be about a variety of things.

I may post about steps I’ve taken along the way to find myself.

Expect to see a lot of belief based, Almighty based, Creator based posts.

Sometimes I’ll be on my soapbox, and sometimes I’ll pour my heart out.

All of it will be important… to me.

So.

There it is.

Your warning.

Bail now. 😉

The Disconnected Life of a Common Man

Religion is one of those subjects best left off the table.

You keep to your beliefs and I’ll keep to mine and we’ll get along just fine, yes indeed.
But years go by…

Beliefs evolve and mature, as an aging soul takes stock. The outcome: a realization that time is slipping ever so quickly past and that what there is left is all there is.

Time to make the best of what I’ve got.

I find that I no longer care to get along. Haven’t, in fact, cared for almost two decades. But I’m polite, sociable, so I’ve kept my mouth shut for the most part. Carried my beliefs in my innermost being and trudged along like everything was just fine on the exterior.

I’m saddened, you see.

I’m bereft and disconnected.

My people, my community, is not to be found.

I’m a functional silo, like the others who believe as I do, with our only support system one that is as tenuous as the continued strength of the electrical grid and the satellite system.

Our “community” is who we are – individuals pocketed and scattered hither and thither, singular souls taking stance in a world of difference and indifference.

It creates a sorrow like no other, an ache for what has been lost since before the first Israelite temple was built, before the first king was chosen:

The community of the Hebrews, comprised of twelve tribes and the Levites, all ruled by the Priests. The Aaronic priests, who were the sole recipients, the sole keepers, the sole instructors for God’s words. A community whose rules included full acceptance of strangers, like me, who stumbled across and took as oath the wholehearted beauty of a system entirely dependent upon the Rule of God.

Mesmerizing in its perfect simplicity, it has created a longing, a desire for a thing that I don’t believe I will ever live to see.

There.

That’s the reason for the sorrow, the ache.

Detachment.

Unfulfilled dreams.

Dreams dependent on people who are blind to their roles.

My role is to be a common man, the role of the twelve tribes and the stranger – no gender bias, just simplicity – and to fulfill my daily role of living a life commanded by God through Torah, relayed by the Priests, sons of Aaron.

I’ll keep my role. I’ll not waver from it.

But damn, it’s lonely out here.

Stripping Away Cultural Inheritance

%d bloggers like this: