Monday, November 28, 2011

God's Undercover Agents

     In the Neighbor to Neighbor section of the December issue of Guideposts I spotted an article about how the Oregon freelance cameraman, Kevin Felts, was able to see abundant fruit come from a random act of kindness just last April. The coincidence of his chance meeting with the recipient, author Paul Young, was another aspect of the miracle and was the type of circumstance which the Lord loves to bring into effect. Above all the rewards which are bestowed upon us everyday, of which we may or may not be aware, seeing someone become as blessed as Paul was by Kevin's selfless act are those which bless us the most. It was a wonderful thanksgiving story which I can relate to wholeheartedly. To hear more on the story you can click here and do check out the actual article as well.
     Whatever you feel about this story there are many like them out there. I have a few of my own, both as a recipient and a giver. One winter, upon leaving work in a sudden blizzard, I was rescued by four football-size men in a Rambler out of a large snowdrift in which my car had become stuck. From out of nowhere, here they were! They got out of their car and started pushing mine and got my car back on the highway. My car drifted off the on ramp and I got stuck on the shoulder again. A man stopped immediately and said, "I can't get your car out of there but I can take you home." I locked up my car without stopping to question the help and he took me right to my door at home. I asked him if I could repay him and he said, "No. Just remember to help someone else like this someday." Whether these men were angels or not I cannot be certain but everyone of them were God's agents, regardless.
     Several years later when I was headed to choir practice for church I spotted a couple right on the corner of a big, busy intersection who had the hood of their car up and seemed to be at a loss. I stopped and asked them if I could help. The man said that he needed a jump for his battery and I had just bought an emergency kit for my car. Without hesitation, I went to work getting my car situated to give them a jump and handed them the kit. Their car started up and we went our separate ways without even asking names. They were very happy and so was I.
     Some years ago, after I closed my nail salon and was liquidating my salon furnishings and equipment through a garage sale, a cousin of mine came to the sale and among other items which she purchased had spotted a beautiful sofa that I had kept in top condition. She didn't have enough money to pay for it but she really wanted to have it for her basement. I told her, "Go ahead and take it and you'll pay for when you can." I knew she was good for it and good to her word. Years went by and she would mention it from time to time but I knew her and her family were in a tough financial struggle so I never made an issue of it. After ten years she hadn't paid for the item but I let it go. In my mind, I had pardoned the debt and wiped it out. I felt better for pardoning it than to continue to expect the money and I felt that in some small way I was able to help her by striking the debt. Paid in full. Over.
     Just last year she approached me with $20 and pressed it into my hand. She knew I really needed the money. She still has financial struggles so I was surprised. She said, "Remember the sofa ?" After thirteen years my memory was hazy. I had forgotten about it completely. When she gently reminded me of the debt she included, "I can pay it off now. I'll make four more payments until I've paid it off." I hugged her because it was a miraculous amount at that point. I never would have expected to be rescued by my cousin but it was a lesson to me in forgiving debts. My patience paid off in a way I never would have expected and it was a lesson to me in how to deal effectively with such situations. Looking to the Lord for our source is the only way to live this kind of life of faith and His leading. You can see how it has made a real difference in my life.
     These are all examples where the agents of God, angels or not, were those with faces (if not names) and I am glad that some of those agents are as close as my family. Kevin and Paul's eventual chance meeting may have been orchestrated by God but even if this cannot be arranged, I can tell you that there is no finer feeling than knowing that you have done right through an act of kindness- especially during this time of the year when it can make such a difference in someone's life. You may not ever know how far it goes but God's Undercover Agents act on faith and not by sight or accolades. I can vouch for the fact that just the act itself makes you feel good. Now, there's something that doesn't have to be taken to the bank or noted on a check register. Golden.
The Castle Lady

Friday, November 04, 2011

Beyond Reason

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1
     Substance and evidence are the strongest words we use in the English language for the tangible properties on subjects which may be elusive of definition. If we want to solve a mystery or win a court case we must have these elements or success is uncertain. This verse in the bible stands out the most of all in its quest to define our strongest motivation for every action we put forth in life. It goes a step further than we dare go. It asks us to put away logic and forge ahead when we see nothing ahead. It urges us to seek light in the darkest shadows. It brings us to places of answers although the path was only strewn with questions.
     We often think of spiritual aspects of our lives as if it was only mist, vapor and wind. Anything which is not made of atoms- as we know them- must be relegated to the unknown, unseen and intangible. This is our world as we see it. As we read further in this chapter in Hebrews we are given examples such as Noah who was mocked while he was building the ark. Abraham wandered around with an enlarged family for many years because they were looking for a city already built, not quite understanding that they had indeed arrived and had taken possession but had not laid down the roots. Sarah conceived and bore a child when she was way past normal child bearing years and could not help but laugh when she realized what was happening. Joshua and Israel marched around the city of Jericho six times in six days and seven times on the seventh day, blowing trumpets and shofars. Along with the thirteenth encircling, they all shouted together and watched the thick curtain walls of the city literally tumble down. Without attacking this citadel to bring it down, they merely obeyed Joshua's instructions which were given to him by God. These are clear acts of biblical faith and there are many more instances, along the same lines, throughout old testament history concerning strong faith.
     No other verse in the bible is so succinct as a definition of faith because it refutes our common sensibilities and asks us to believe despite how our physical realm persuades our minds. To the natural mind of man it is easier to doubt than to have faith but we all operate with a certain level of faith or we would not get out of our beds in the morning. There is common faith spoken of in Romans 12:3 but the verse above calls us to greater faith. In its highest and truest form it builds our spiritual character in such a way that we can exceed even our own expectations of ourselves in living a victorious Godly life. One does not have to be tested to build their faith in this way. They only have to be willing to put away their worldly attitudes and motivations and step into the realm of attaining possibilities.
     Conversely, such great faith will not go untested because the natural life we live concurrently makes trials, hardships and even tragedy inevitable. A common error among the faithful is to assume that when you're suffering illness or experiencing seeming insurmountable difficulties that your faith is flagging. However, we need such strength to endure those times and eventually come through in the same way that strong faith helps us escape trouble altogether. Some may be delivered from death while others are enabled to die victoriously. After all, great faith involves a belief in a better place in the hereafter. 
     Jesus felt that even small amounts of faith were enough to move mountains ( Matthew 17:20) which alluded to endless possibilities. When faith is released into God's hands through prayer it galvanizes your faith into bonafide miracles. He becomes our source of growth and possibility because nothing is impossible to Him. Through the act of prayer and faith in those prayers our perspective becomes focused into a Godly perspective and our faith grows in proportion to that measure. The miraculous intervention itself is not the builder of faith but the prayer, which is in line with the Word of God, will build a momentous faith within yourself. Not only that, but the most wonderful payoff is that anyone who witnesses you using your faith and seeing miracles has a tremendous opportunity to live a life of faith, as well. Your children, family and co-workers will want to live a faithful life when they see it in action. Romans 10:17, James 2:17 & 18,  1 Tim 3:9 
The Castle Lady
Faith goes beyond reason. It goes beyond what you can see.
But it is as real as anything you can touch or feel.
- Henry Cloud

Friday, September 09, 2011

In talking, reading and writing- do opposites attract ?

     I generally laugh at horoscopes if my eyes happen to land on them any time I'm reading the paper. The advice can often be unclear and quirky, to say the least, but yesterday I found a rare pearl in the following sentence. It is so apt and relevant to my life right now.
Someone in your daily life means well and can inspire you
at the same time can make goulash out of
the most precise communication and situations.
- from the Denver Post horoscope for Virgo 9/8/11
by Jacqueline Bigar

     Keeping a good attitude often involves ignoring someone else's bad attitude. If you don't believe me, try telling someone exactly what you think when they make you angry. Just remember that you alone are responsible for your words, action and character. Responding out of emotion is never exactly clear and often conveys intentions and definitions that are opposite to what you wanted to communicate. Before you say that sentence, do this: Ask yourself, "Is this true ? Is this harmless ? Is it necessary? If it isn't don't bother to say it. 
     Understanding people well involves more work than most of us are willing to exert. It is for this reason that I am more inclined to write my communications than say them verbally. I have found that unless the distractions around me are deafening, no one can mess up a clearly written and ruminated sentence. Through my writing I can convey my intentions much more clearly than when someone is forced to actually listen well to what I am saying. If someone misses the details from my writing it becomes their own problem rather than a failure on my part. This is what it means to be a good writer. An excellent writer is a diplomat and is well on his way to mastering his thought life.
Just The Castle Lady...

reading you loud and clear !  

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Debt Deal Sounds Like Let's Make a Deal

     Have you ever watched Let's Make a Deal on TV? The show is still on the air, believe it or not, and the deals can still be quite sour if you happen to pick the wrong curtain in lieu of a few hundred dollars in cash. Something about those clunker deals reminds me of the Debt Deal which is going down in Congressional meetings these days. Their compromise is as bad as any ideas they have come up with in most recent years. In the hands of Congress they never get any better- they always get worse.    
     Are you more than a little upset about the debt deal struck by Congress? This deal calls for a Super Committee to recommend spending cuts with a ceiling in the vicinity of $1.5 trillion ! If it seems a little fishy to you it's not without good reason. I'll bet you're wondering where the cuts are going to come in and who they're going to affect. Thanks to our Presidents input and compassion (among other politicians and advocates for saving Social Security) the elderly beneficiaries will continue to get their checks at least until the end of this year. Thanks to those who care about the elderly in this country who live from one social security check to the next we are only reassured for a limited time and the spending cuts loom in the minds of those who haven't any other source of income.
     All the faces you see above are what Congress is calling a Super Committee and they're out to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in ways that are totally unacceptable for anyone who has to live off the money they paid into Social Security alone. These short term cuts could be devastating. Believe me when I say that no one could possibly ever get rich by having to live on Social Security and those senior citizens who shrug it off never had to worry about actually having to live only on these entitlement payments.
     The truth is that Super Committee has only one agenda. They want to plunder the funds which remain in Social Security to cover a debt they incurred and we are not responsible for- and we never were. Social Security is a wonderful program that was instituted by FDR- the greatest President we ever had- and is being attacked by the very politicos that didn't want the program instituted at all from it's very inception. There is no other government fund gathered as taxes from the people that is more efficiently run than the United States Social Security Administration and I would challenge those people who want to take an axe to it to prove that the problem is not a problem at all but a large sum of money they want to practically rob from us.
     This Super Committee's ideas are to raise the retirement age, slash benefits to new lows or completely destroy the program by privatizing it. I'm sure you won't mind having to work at your backbreaking job until you have to do it on crutches, start eating Alpo and Mighty Dog instead of Hamburger Helper or trying to figure out how to get a stockbroker to make $5 out of 2 pennies for you, will you ? All kidding aside, it is time to tell the congressional looters of our government mad money to keep their filthy hands off the only back up we have when this economy finally tanks. If you don't believe me, take a look at what is actually in that fund and tell me they're allowed to take anything out of it at all. They stole our payroll tax surplus to the tune of $2.6 trillion and left a bunch of IOUs in its place. Does it sound like they have your best interests at heart?
     My suggestion is this: if you're smart enough to be outraged, call someone on the committee- or everyone of them if you have the time- and tell them to fix it this way:
     "Admit that you have stolen money from the people to pay off debts they never agreed to pay, restore the system's backup for fiscal soundness by locking the trust fund amount, fully apply the payroll tax on your rich buddies and make the increase in payments like it was promised to us when you started applying the increase in 1984. It sure as heck wasn't so you can go flying around in jets everywhere."
The Castle Lady

laughing with and not at you ! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Love is like a balloon....

Man is in love
and loves what vanishes.
-W.B. Yeats

Lord, it's morning !
Your sun- on easter feet-
has creeped into my room
and called me
from my slumber tomb:
"Arise, be risen,
and spread the news.
It's morning !"

With kisses that take flight,
The Castle Lady

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mary Jane's World

The T.V. has finally gone out

Digital is no longer a possibility

Can't afford cable, dish, satellite or any form that will bring that

series back to your daily life.

Do what I do...

Read a book, go for a walk and look at life

clean that shelf...

There's much more to life than what is on the boob tube.


The Castle Lady

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Why Buy Travel Insurance ?

For most of my life I have traveled without travel insurance. The first time I purchased insurance was for a tour in Europe at the insistence of the travel agency. It certainly paid off and I am now an advocate for flying only with insurance for long tours or expensive vacations. Could anyone have predicted 9/11? My dream vacation of a grand tour of all the major European castles coincided with this world changing disaster. Without the insurance I took out, I would've had to pay for a week's worth of hotel rooms in one of the most expensive cities in the world for accommodation- Munich. I had to pay for all my meals at that point and I never saw a McDonald's. To top it off, one of my bags became so damaged I had to replace it. This and several other problems created by my delay in returning home became a source of loss that would've been financially devastating.
I'm sure most people think of travel insurance as a waste of money because there are so many insurance policies we have to deal with and pay for continually. I can clarify my position with one sentence. Bad vacations happen to good and bad people alike. Accidents and injuries can happen along with delays, emergency situations back home and baggage is lost and delayed every day of the week. Everyone should carry travel insurance each time they fly big ticket trips. The convenience of paying for insurance far outweighs the expenses and aggravations if you don't carry insurance, depending on the severity of the problems which can occur.
Your coverage is often determined by your own needs and there are many choices out there, as far as companies go, but you should go with a company that specializes in travel insurance if you want to get the best rates and a comprehensive array of coverage. What should you look for in insurance? Make sure that the company offers these basics:
1. Cancellation, interruption or delay coverage.
2. Medical expense and evacuation coverage
3. Lost, delayed or damaged baggage coverage.
4. 24-hour emergency assistance
Many people assume that their medical insurance will cover them outside the U.S. but in fact, most do not. A good travel insurance company will offer coverage for injuries or medical treatment that requires a visit to a physician, transport to a medical facility or home. Evacuation coverage is key and is often preferred in cases of sudden sickness especially in severe cases. The most important aspect of buying a policy is that the carrier comes highly recommended and several web sites give you the opportunity to review the terms and costs prior to using an unknown company. I recommend or to get more information about what's available and what to look for concerning each individual policy. Don't wait until you receive the papers for the terms of your policy. Find out specifically what you will need and make sure the terms make sense before you have bought the farm. The trickiest part of buying travel insurance is knowing what coverage you will need before you need it.
When I went on my castles trip my carrier was Trip Mate who were courteous on the phone when I made my claim. They gave me a time frame of how long it would take for them to make a decision on my claim and they did follow-up to my phone call reassuring me, by mail, that they would process it quickly. Within two weeks I had my check by mail in the full amount I requested for hotel bills, meals and intercity travel. I got a refund on the amount it cost to replace my bags and the hotel bill amount was there in full. Travel Guard is another good carrier which covers all four of the basic policy coverage with the same courteous and quick handling. Once you've done your homework in checking out the company your agent approaches you with or the recommendations you garner and everything checks out you're good to go. Travel insurance generally doesn't have a high cost. You'll pay more in landing fees and taxes and if you have to make a claim you'll be glad you took my advice.

Just keeping my readership happy and informed.

Kisses !

The Castle Lady

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Barbie's Ken Reaches 50th Milestone

     Barbie's boyfriend, Ken Carson, turned fifty last March without much fanfare or brouhaha. It's probably because he's a man, I suspect, but they made a much bigger deal about Barbie's fiftieth birthday almost two years ago. I guess the real truth is a little hard to take. He is slightly younger than her but he hasn't accomplished anywhere near as much as Barbie® has all these years!     
     Ken had rather scrawny beginnings but he was reinvented quite a bit, anyway, just like Barbie® has been through the years, if only superficially. Ken was a little bit dorky-looking in the early 70s and was a total wash-out in 1991 as Totally Hair Ken® but everyone has bad hair days- why not bad hair years ?
     More recently he's appeared younger than he did when he started out ! How the heck did that happen, I wonder?!! If I go by doll years he'll go down in history as the best looking man to ever go through the middle-age crazies! Who wouldn't want a piece of that... uh... let's not go there ! Even though I suspect that Ken is a gay male fantasy, it's still rather fun to think that middle-age savvy could be incorporated with handsome-blonde blue-eyed twenty-ish looks. Talk about your dream man !
     Well, all this just points to the fact that everybody ages if they don't die first. Some of us just age better than others I guess- if you're plastic enough, however, you may improve with age.
With ageless kisses
The Castle Lady

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Talk about your cat and mouse games....

Just in case you missed this in May,


The Castle Lady

Saturday, July 02, 2011

I have a date with destiny !

      I recently viewed the summer film Soul Surfer at the dollar movies and was pleasantly surprised at the presentation of Bethany's story. I'm not sure what I expected since I knew what had happened to her from the newspaper articles which came out at the time of the attack in which she lost her left arm. All the basic details were in the first article of how it happened but I (and the rest of the country, I suppose) could only imagine what she would have to go through in the ensuing months and years after she survived the attack.
      At one point in the film she has recovered and is unsure about continuing to surf competitively or to quit completely and she goes to the spiritual mentor of her youth group to talk. She finally breaks down in front of the mentor and cries, "How can this be God's plan for my life ?" Her mentor has no clear answer for her but she is very sensitive to her plaintive sublimation even though they both know the answer.
     It states in the Bible: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope.
      Early in the movie, Bethany wins the surfing championships and finds a sponsor. Soon after, her mentor reminds her about the commitment she had made to participate in a youth outreach in Mexico but Bethany turns her down because of the competitions she'll have coming up and she wants to get in practice. This is a major error that many on-fire and committed Christians make and I will admit that I have made myself, sometimes. By doing this you are giving God a big fat, "No." A greater error could not possibly be made because it's a defiance- no different than sin which is also a defiance of God's laws.
     However, this is not about God seeking revenge. When you defy God in this respect you have taken a turn in the road. You have officially left the path he had for you and now you are on unsafe ground- not unlike a sheep which has left the fold. There are wolves, sharks and whales out there ready to waylay and destroy you. Fortunately, an allegory which Jesus related to a gathering tells us all we need to know if we have only temporarily become waylaid. This was the story of the two sons who were both asked to go to the vineyard and work. (Matthew 21:28-31) One son refused and left. Later on, something happened and he came back to the Father, asked forgiveness and went to work in the vineyard. The other son said he would go to work immediately and then never showed up. Jesus asked his listeners which son had done the will of his father.
     This is obviously just a question of character but on second thought- is it? The question with the Soul Surfer story is weather Bethany was in the first category or the second. In truth, she made the error of the second son who said he would- but changed his mind for no apparent reason. When I was a child I remember my mother and church members talking about their children walking out of the arc of safety. What is the arc of safety? It is a road that you have been warned not to take. It is a sin you return to or can't seem to defeat. It is going to the exact place that you were warned not to go and out of defiance or willfulness go anyway. The term speaks for itself. 
     "You are now on unsafe ground. You are in the devil's territory and he will win because you're willing to play games with him."
     Your destiny as a child of God is one of victory. If you want to remain victorious then you must follow the path that God laid for you. If you take any other you are on ground which must be repaved by the Word of God. Are you strong enough to blaze a trail and keep a ring of Godly fire around yourself ? My advice is a biblical one. Only fools walk where angels fear to tread. Angels do not defy God, they obey him. You cannot walk his path and branch off another way. If you do this you are only being foolish and will be defeated at what you are trying to do on your own. 
     I have a date with destiny. The Lord says this is my destiny and has given me his guidance- clear and concise on how to get there. I will follow his plan and I will arrive victorious. I have what he says I have. I am what he says I am. I will do what he says to do. I will win because he's on my side.
Oh confess it, girl, confess it !
Jeremiah 29:11 
Matthew 19:26
The Castle Lady 

Friday, June 03, 2011

Wake up laughing

This has been an interesting day- so far. I can certainly tell that summer has arrived. Very first thing- before I even opened my eyes- was laughing at a Boulder D.J.'s banter about how Bono had hitched a ride somewhere in Canada and the driver boasted that he had picked him up without knowing it was him at first. Taking the whole matter too far the D.J. continued,

"You, of course, wouldn't pick up Bono- no! - you'd get some psycho."

After about five seconds of dead air silence he rejoined,

"I'm not saying that everyone who hitches rides is a psycho."

Upon hearing that- practically unconscious still- I roared in laughter knowing full well what I just heard but not yet awake enough to realize what I was laughing at or why. It did keep me chuckling through the morning.

This is called a good start to a wacky day. I had to go to the bank and I got a few errands done on the way. When I got to the shopping center some cops had blocked off an entrance to the shopping center. No explanation was given or supplied. As I kept reaching different entrances they were systematically blocking off each entrance I approached. What is this stupid game? I'm thinking to myself. By the time it was apparent I wasn't going to get to my bank at this shopping center I moved on and went to another branch at a different location, thereby defeating the short trip into a long drawn out affair. I got my business done at the other branch and then tried to figure out where I would get ice cream as I had intended. I ended up bringing home some ice cream treats rather than a tub of ice cream like I had intended. Rude!

All the while I was detoured I mulled over what I had encountered and decided that one of the many businesses must have been robbed shortly before I arrived. What were the chances of that ?

When I got home there was a short news flash on the T.V. and sure enough the King Soopers that I had intended to go to for my banking and for my ice cream had been thieved and the cops had chased him into Home Depot. According to the report he disappeared in that store and they never found him. It has occurred to me, just now, that if I had picked up a hitchhiker it probably would have been that guy that stole something (ice cream?) at King Soopers. Now I have another good reason never to pick up a hitchhiker- it wouldn't be Bono that's for sure !

Keep laughing !

The Castle Lady

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poetry for all Seasons and Reasons

     At the beginning of this month I spotted an article in the Denver Post newspaper which gave a lackluster viewpoint on the future of poetry in print. It seems that with all the new Nook and Kindle electronic reading devices, poetry has been left in the dust as far as accessibility. Why would any poet want to be published in print ? Interestingly, the author of the article, David Milofsky, had to acquiesce to the fact that most people who are still reading books or collections of poetry want to buy a book with pages you can turn. That is very encouraging to me because it says that poets are still the most visible authors. Perhaps we'll take over the book stores someday. Well, we can dream can't we ? 
     While Milofsky may be encouraged by the fact that well recognized poets are still being published, with the dubious honors and distinctions which were already in place, the unknowns, who may be better, worse or at least equal to their fellow stars have been using the electronic medium to reach their reading public for going on three decades. I have personally been posting my poetry online for more than a decade now, selling my first edition poetry book, Seasons of the Heart online for almost as long and have enjoyed a certain amount of recognition from common people and people who love poetry all the while. It hasn't made me a publishing superstar yet, but I remind myself that starving poets are legend. It's a shame that people are so ignorant to the fact that they are actually addicted to poetry and they are unaware of it. How so, you say ?
     Well, think about all the music with lyrics you listen to in a day. Perhaps you watch a little T.V. each morning before you go to work. I guarantee that you will hear at least several commercials with jingle music on them before you've even had your toast. How about the alarm each morning ? More music, more poetry. Then, when you're driving to work you'll hear anywhere from 5 to 10 songs on the radio along with some more commercial jingles. Pardon me but that's a lot of poetry to listen to before you even get to work. If you have piped in music where you work there's more right there. It's true that much of the elevator and office music may not have lyrics to their MOR washed out noise but if you work in a mall or retail store you're more likely to listen to whatever is the most contemporary to back to the 80s full on with lyrics by the original artists.
     As you drive home you'll hear some more from your radio or CDs or MP3s depending on what you have going on in your vehicle. After dinner you'll probably watch shows that all have their own ditties and more music on the shows you watch. You know what ? That's a lot of poetry~ every day. Somebody writes those lyrics for a living. Some may be passable and then there are genius lyrics which elevate our souls and we feel it and may still be unaware of what we are enjoying. Listen to the lyrics of George Harrison's Across the Universe and it will make a believer out of you.
     Now that you have been enlightened to your dependence on poetry you will certainly appreciate what you have been enjoying all along a little more now won't you ?
I thought so.
Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
they slither wildly as they slip away
across the universe....
The Castle Lady

Friday, April 08, 2011

Nuggets and other tidbits

      I don't write about sports events that often and in most conversations I veer away from putting forth opinions about players, teams and my own personal philosophies concerning how a sport should be run. It doesn't mean I don't have strong opinions about them but I tend to keep it to myself. Sports are to be enjoyed as spectators and participants, principally, and not argued or fought over as if that was more important. In addition, if you don't at least participate directly in a sport, it is my opinion that you shouldn't discuss particulars about rules, decisions or abilities of players. My feeling is that you really won't know what you're talking about and your opinion should be kept to yourself.
     That being said, I am going to put in my 2 cents worth about the Nuggets, Denver's NBA team, with and without Melo and I am doing so not necessarily because I want to start a discussion, argument or brawl but just because I think what I have to write about the issue is valid. I read all these negative comments from sports commentators, sports writers and columnists, casual spectators and naysayers and I feel an opposite viewpoint might be refreshing.
     First off, before Melo was traded to the Knicks he has been a boon for quite a number of years to the Nuggets. The attendance at the Pepsi Center increased continually and continues to climb. His offensive playing was phenomenal the entire time of his tenure with the Nuggets if you check the averages. His injuries were minimal and he often played through certain problems. That's beyond the call of duty. For one year he topped Kobe Bryant as the highest scorer in the NBA and he kept up a high average. It is my understanding that he cooperated with everyone on the team and never played the star against any teammate. He's a sensitive guy so when I looked on his blog and  read negative comments on the entry where he thanked Denver for all the great years I became a bit irate.
     The Nuggets are doing phenomenally most recently and I applaud that and realized a long time ago that they had a great roster of very talented players. I can't think of one Nugget who isn't showing abilities currently that hadn't already shown up in the stats. The only exceptions were a couple of Nuggets who were traded along with Melo and Chauncey, ironically enough. That happens. Not everyone lives up to their potential. The real debate always seems to center around the defense/offense objective. You have to have both to win a game. Each is equally essential to a good or great basketball game. When it is unbalanced either way you have a serious issue. Right now the Small Forward position, which was taken over by Danilo Gallinari, is among the double digit scorers but if you compare most of his scoring with Melo's stats you're going to find an interesting difference. If an offensive player is allowed to dominate a game then there are a lot less opportunities for the remainder of players to play an offensive game. Just use your head because I'm only using logistics here. A lot of coaches allow their offensive stars to dominate the ball.
     If you think I'm wrong then let's focus on LeBron James for a minute. Have you seen the Win/Loss stats this season for the Cavaliers ? Since LeBron has been whisked away of his own volition they have had the worst season ever. Worse than the Nets 2009/2010 season. Worse. Perhaps they relied on LeBron's offensive playing a little too much. This is sad. Meanwhile, the Heat are enjoying being on top in the southeast division and the Eastern Conference topping the Boston Celtics ! The truth about the Nets is that they needed Vince Carter's great offensive playing and maneuvering fouls to get in those extra points. 
     My point is- that won't happen if you have a team who can play offensive and defensive basketball equally well. It won't matter if your offensive player is gone because the team was always ready to play real basketball. This is really lacking today. I remember watching basketball games on T.V. when I was a little girl that were riveting. I don't see that much anymore and the action seems awfully slow. Slam dunking is great when you see a team work up to that pitch in their playing. It should be a crescendo to fast passing, sticking to a ball, ali ooping and any amount of legitimate maneuvers that show skill and energy. The Nuggets are currently playing this kind of basketball. It works.
Just the humble opinion of
The Castle Lady      

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can You Save Someone from Dying of Anorexia ?

I saw a headline at the beginning of this year that got my attention because it involved the death of a young woman who shouldn't have died so young. There was nothing wrong with her physically that couldn't have been corrected if she had received proper treatment early. She was not attacked, murdered or in an accident. She died because she starved herself to death believing she was overweight.
Her name was Isabelle Caro and she was a French fashion model. She had suffered from anorexia nervosa from the age of 13 and was never told that she was killing herself. Instead, her employers encouraged her to continue to starve herself under the supposition that she may not be able to wear clothes or look good in them unless she kept her weight low. At the time of her death, she was 28 years old, weighing only 29 kilos, which is about 64 lbs. For a model, she was short- only 5'4". Before she died she started a campaign in 2007 in Europe, putting billboards up where major fashion shows were taking place, addressing the problem of anorexia and shocked the fashion world with her bold statement by showing her emaciated body and gaunt face.
While fashion and print modeling may be the strongest encouragement for someone with Caro's inherent problem there is a bigger concern staring society in the face which could become bigger with time if we don't all stop and look around us. While America may have a large percentage of people who are overweight and battling serious illnesses because of it there is a strong percentage of men, women and children like Caro who are silently killing themselves and no one will come forward and tell them they need help. It's an insidious disease because it's so difficult a subject to broach in public or in private. However, no one should sit idly by and watch someone they love slowly but surely starve themselves to death. Anyone who lives with someone with anorexia nervosa has an obligation, through love, to tell that person they need to get help and then make sure they get that help.
I consider myself a person who survived anorexia nervosa. I didn't do it alone even though I was so young that no one recognized the problem except one person. My mother noticed. She tried to encourage me to eat. She pulled me out of dance classes because she thought I was getting dangerously thin. She took photographs of me and showed me them. I thought I looked fat in the pictures even though I was one of the original lollipop girls. (I can look at those photos now and see what I couldn't at the time.) One day I remember my mother holding out a cookie in front of me and begging me to eat it. Something changed in that moment.
At the moment I heard my mother imploring me to eat something I realized it was just my desire to control something in my life. I felt powerless in every other aspect of my day to day life, so refusing to eat was my chance to take power back. I believe it is the same for all who suffer from anorexia. The power is an illusion aided by this feeling of euphoria which cannot be explained. Dopamine levels in the blood can become high so instead of eating they run or workout like a maniac just to feel like they can cope with life. Their bodies stop telling them it's hungry. They don't know they're hungry and they have a distorted view of what they look like. If you want to save someone from dying of anorexia tell them they are too thin and if they don't eat they are going to die. If you love them you'll do it.

Bon Courage,

The Castle Lady

This is the 100th entry on this blog.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My secret blog...

Yes. I've been holding out a little. This is my Rock Blog for those of you who haven't been following real close. It's my rock-n-roll side so be ready for a different way of me looking at the world. The music world that is...

The Castle Lady rocks your world

with kisses !

Friday, March 04, 2011

The 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day ! ! March 8th

For those of you who have never heard of this international holiday which supports the independence, fortitude and ingenuity of women I wanted to supply a little bit of information. It is well worth supporting. In some of the 176 countries which recognize this day many activities are very supportive of women's causes. One organization which supports it is online at and you can find out more about it wherever you are at on this big blue marble we call earth.
March 8th is the day to mark on your calendar and possibly get involved in one or several activities. Those who live in the New York City area can attend the celebration at the Ramada Plaza New Yorker Hotel. There will be all manner of authors, journalists, artists and female entrepreneurs who will speak, teach and give all types of support for women's issues, rights and general support to the cause.
Finding online celebrations and information will be easy this year so go type in International Women's Day into your browser and go on a search. You're sure to find an activity just right for you.

With lots of support and care,
The Castle Lady

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Boy Wrestles Girl ?

     Did any of my readers see the recent story on TV news about the two teenagers of the opposite sex who were scheduled to wrestle in the first round of the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament? The 16-year-old boy, Joel Northrup, and a 14-year-old girl named Cassy Herkleman were set up to a match and the boy refused the match, walked off the mat and had to forfeit to her, losing his chance at a state title. It looked like a case of a win/win for feminists and non-feminists alike but if you look a little closer this is really becoming much more than a battle of the sexes. It seems to be a battle of keeping to your convictions and faith and being penalized for it.
     A popular ESPN columnist, Rick Reilly, jumped on the story and I guess it quickly became national news. Joel, who is home-schooled, is also a pastor's son. His father, Jamie, was quoted as saying, "We believe in the elevation and respect of women, and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns -- full contact sport is not how to do that," when he was questioned by the Des Moines Register about his son's decision.
     "As a matter of conscience and my faith," he wrote in a statement, "I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner."
     It's too bad his decision was not recognized for an act of faith and that he be given another chance to compete against an opponent that he felt was a comfortable match. I think he should be rewarded for and commended for his ethics. How many teenagers make a stand for anything these days? If it happens we don't hear about it often enough. We'll hear about all the trouble they can and do get into but how often is it the other way around and made into national news?
     Unfortunately, Rick Reilly decided to humiliate Joel by saying he was wrong to refuse the match and wrote that,
          "If the Northrups really wanted to respect women, they should've encouraged their son to face her."
     Perhaps it never occurred to Rick Reilly that they were encouraging their son to think for himself and provided him with the best ideas of character for a man. That is especially true in these times when domestic violence is more rampant than ever and violence against women can be seen on TV sitcoms for several hours nearly every single night. There are several organizations which are gaining strength and momentum trying to help women in situations that have become life-threatening. I personally wonder how this idea that full contact sports, such as wrestling, would show any amount of respect for the person of a female.   
     That said, this story is really more about the distinctions surrounding gender than it is about these three individuals opinions– or wrestling itself. Coed sports is still largely not done especially on a professional level. The passage of mandate title IX in 1972 states that schools receiving federal funding should offer female athletes access to the same opportunities as the male athletes receive. I don't see any reason that this should be interpreted to mean that coed education should be encouraged or even made accessible. These same opportunities exist even if they are separated and it would certainly be more appropriate considering our current problems with violence and vice.
     I hope that what Joel's father had to say about his son's conviction, namely that he may not have wrestled Cassy but he did wrestle (and win) with his faith, will get more media attention than Rick Reilly's diatribe. That's a good and admirable thing and ought to be national news more often. Maybe everyone will finally understand why we keep to our convictions rather than go along with everything that is approved of by the world.
Keeping it light but with integrity,
The Castle Lady 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nuggets News or Knicks News ? Can't Choose !

Whether I did this consciously or not- I know I predicted the change in the Nuggets line-up, which happened recently, a little more than a year ago. I spotted first round draft pick Danilo Gallinari out of a small crowd as the next wunderkind of NBA basketball. I hope I was right. He has very quickly taken Carmelo Anthony's place as Small Center. This was Melo's position through the nearly eight years which he played for the Nuggets and kept consistently high scores akin to that of Kobe Bryant and several other stars in the NBA.
Danilo was given the number 8 supposedly because they found out his birthdate, which is 8/8/88, could possibly be a lucky number. Well, I've been saying that for years even though I am no adherent to such superstitious ideas. What got my attention was his good looks and his stats which were very good for a European player. To me, basketball will always be an American sport because it was invented and perfected here. It makes sense that the best of the NBA would be here. Well, there are now quite a few Europeans proving us all wrong on that premise. I sincerely hope Danilo will be able to do just that because he's got some awesome shoes to fill and he'll have to do better than 2 points for a game. Maybe our climate is a little rough for him.
The first game without Melo is showing me that many other prodigious players are going to have to really step up their game and take themselves to the next level. On February 24th the Nuggets played the Celtics and won 89-75 which is wonderful considering that Kevin Garnett was very much in attendance. As a matter of fact Kenyon Martin, Power Forward, caused him to hit the hardwood and K-Mart (as we like to call him!) made the most points at this game at a total of 18. To exceed Melo he'll have to double that consistently with every game. He was his usual happy, mouthy self by the fourth quarter when he was fouled. To K-Mart that's money in the bank! Affalo and Chandler were right behind him in scoring but they'll have to bring their numbers up as well. With Chauncey and Carmelo gone they must do even better. Andersen aka Birdman is still day to day since that knee surgery but he'll get back to doing what he does best. Blocking slam dunks from the Big Birds ! !

In other news...... The Knicks lost to the Cavs ? ?
Big kisses from
The Castle Lady !

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Proven Method for Avoiding Jet-Lag !

I have read about and tried a few methods for avoiding jet-lag which rendered mixed or bad results through many years of traveling. One exception to this roundelay of panaceas was the anti-jet-lag diet I tried before going on my European castles tour in 2001. I would remind everyone that this experience included a week delay return flight because the end of the tour nearly coincided with 9/11. The day I returned after a long two flights back home from Munich (including a brief layover at Dulles Airport) I got up at my usual time the next morning (even after poring over my hundreds of e-mails 'til midnight the night before), after I arrived home ! I got back into my home routine without so much as a yawn !

Today I'm going to share that method with you. Please let me know your results after you try it. I'm interested to know if this method works for everyone from all walks of life.

This diet was exclusively designed with the idea of helping people adjust to changed schedules, changing shifts for workers (such as power plant operators) or those wishing to drastically rotate work hours. The development of this diet was the invention of Dr. Charles R. Ehret for a division of Biological and Medical Research as an application of his fundamental studies of the daily biological rhythms of animals in a research lab in Illinois.

1. Determine breakfast time at destination on day of arrival.

2. Feast-Fast-Feast-Fast on home time three days before departure day. On day one, feast on a high-protein breakfast and lunch and a high-carbohydrate dinner. No caffeinated drinks should be consumed except between 3 and 5 p.m. On the second day fast on light meals of salads, light soups, fruits and juices. No coffee or caffeine drinks should be taken in except between 3 and 5 p.m., once again. On the third day you should go back to feast with an identical routine as described for the first day. The fourth day, being the day of departure, you will fast with one distinct change. If you drink caffeinated beverages you should take them in the morning when traveling west or between 6 to 11 p.m. when traveling east. If you are traveling west you should only fast for one half of the day.

3. Break your final fast at your final destination breakfast time. For best results you should not consume alcohol on the plane. If your flight is international, long or you experience long delays and layovers be sure to only sleep until normal breakfast time at your destination and no later. When you wake up, feast on high-protein breakfast. Stay awake and active. Continue day's meals according to meal times at destination.

What should you eat ?
Examples of foods to feast on are high protein breakfasts and lunches which would include steak, eggs, hamburger, high-protein cereals, nuts and green beans. The protein stimulates the body's active cycle. (This will re-train your body to have a active cycle for a longer period of time.) High-carbohydrate suppers will stimulate a sleep cycle and they include such dinners as spaghetti, pastas (without meatballs or sausage), crepes (without meat-fillings) potatoes and starchy vegetables and sweet desserts.
How do I fast ?
Fasting has a distinct effect on your body. It depletes the liver's store of carbohydrates which thereby prepares the body's clock for resetting. Suitable foods which can be consumed at this time, in moderation, are fruits, light soups, broths, small salads, dry unbuttered toast or half pieces of bread. As light as you can is the rule to keep calories to a minimum. Water hydration is essential.
On your return flight, you will want to repeat this procedure, again, three days before departure day. The best way to stay on track with this procedure is to log your feast, fast days so you will stay on schedule. This is made to reschedule your body for the destination and timing is important. Use a day book or an online calendar to keep your progress current and correct. Script it ahead of time, if you need a reminder, then check your progress. The only way this schedule can be defeated is if your destinations change drastically. Some adjustments can be made within reason depending on the destination difference. Do not continue a feast-fast-feast-fast routine for longer than four days.
Thought for the day:
And let us, with God's help, begin a new diet:
Fast from Criticism, feast on praise
Fast from Self-pity and feast on joy
Fast from Ill-temper and feast on peace
Fast from Resentment and feast on contentment
Fast from Jealousy and feast on love
Fast from Pride and feast on humility
Fast from Selfishness and feast on service
Fast from Fear and feast on faith.
The Castle Lady
with a feast of kisses and hugs !

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Good News for Airline Passengers ?

     Maybe. Yes, I know that doesn't sound very encouraging from the last time I addressed a specific airline travel situation on this blog back on November 28th, 2009 but the reports look better if not improved to everyone's satisfaction. In truth, 2010 still had its problems. The downright space invading body pat down complaints, Europe's volcano eruption flight delays and new fees instituted by airlines were hardly a step in the right direction. However, a turnaround in DOT's focus from targeting airlines with more regulations to becoming more consumer friendly and enforcing regulations that actually help air travelers is a breath of fresh air. This is the first time in the administration's history that airline passengers rights are being given first consideration since DOT has been in force!
     Last Spring, a rule was put in force which limited tarmac delays to three hours. In addition, several consumer protection initiatives have been brought to the tables which will force air carriers to display airfares and optional fees to allow better side-by-side price comparisons and boosted fines for overbooking were also proposed over the summer which should be finalized by this Spring at the latest. Once these changes are approved airline passengers will have more clout and consideration with DOT than ever before. Not since the deregulation of 1978 has such radical changes gone into initiation and it will continue if everything gets approved and in a short period of time.
     Because of the changes that have already taken place our nation's cops issued 47 tickets to some of the top airlines of which the revenue from the citations totaled $3.33 million in penalties. This is up from 2009 in which the numbers totaled were 30 tickets and $2.6 million. The citations covered such areas as misleading brochure information on baggage compensation and failure of online information supplied by an airline to disclose full ticket prices. One citation even covered El Al's non-compliance with international baggage policy regulations.
     Unsurprisingly, DOT is getting some criticism on the new tarmac delay regulations from travel industry insiders and a few outsiders. All committees, aviation analysts and various industry agencies, such as AAI, feel that more can be done. Michael Miller, AAI's vice president says, "I don't think the tarmac-delay rule is well thought through, and I'm not alone." He also says that for the DOT to create a new legacy of consumer friendliness, it would be necessary to create new initiatives to make air travel noticeably better. One way would be to partner up with the Department of Homeland Security by improving the way passengers are screened and move away from the body-scan/pat down procedures now in place.
     Thomas Dickerson, the author of the book, "Travel Law" and a New York Supreme Court Judge feels that the poor disclosure of new airline fees for extra luggage, ticket changes and other options which were once bundled with the basic airline ticket should be better regulated. There has been an increase in litigation over surcharges, airport concession fees, government fees and passenger facilities charges. 
     With the changes, it appears that many people are stepping forward for greater airline passenger advocacy and that is a step in the right direction if these changes are not tied up in arguments over how these regulations should be written or enforced. Time is of the essence and any input from the consumers themselves will put us on a faster track to solving these issues and making flying more consumer-friendly. Everyone concerned will gain from the changes, I feel, including the airline industry itself.
The Castle Lady with good news for the new year 2011 !    

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Consider the Source

Any time someone tells you something really bad
about someone you know
hardly know
or don't know at all
they are telling you more about themselves
then they are about the person
they talked about.
-Evelyn M. Wallace