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The Way of Walking Alone

Kazuko Hosokawa Dishman (aka - my mom)

This past Sunday, in celebration of Independence Day, I posted the Declaration of Independence in its entirity along with my own personal reflection as to importance of what that historical document set out to do. I am proud to call myself an American first and foremost. My ancestors on my father’s side arrived and settled in what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 1600’s. But that’s only half my ancestry.

My father met and married my mother in Japan. She was born Kazuko Hosokawa. The Hosokawas were one of the ruling samurai clans of Japan for many generations, and the family coat of arms (my mother was happy to report after a recent visit) is proudly displayed in the Tokyo National Museum.

So, while I am VERY much American, I am also very proud of my Japanese heritage, and I wanted to share a little of it with you today.

Miyamoto Musashi

In the second month of 1641, Miyamoto Musashi (considered to be the greatest samurai who ever lived) wrote a work called the Hyoho Sanju Go (Thirty-five Instructions on Strategy) for Hosokawa Tadatoshi. This work overlapped and formed the basis for Go Rin No Sho, more famously known as The Book of Five Rings.

The Way of Walking Alone
(or The Way of Self-Reliance)

Do not turn your back on the various Ways of this world.

Do not scheme for physical pleasure.

Do not intend to rely on anything.

Consider yourself lightly; consider the world deeply.

Do not ever think in acquisitive terms.

Do not regret things about your own personal life.

Do not envy another’s good or evil.

Do not lament parting on any road whatsoever.

Do not complain or feel bitterly about yourself or others.

Have no heart for approaching the path of love.

Do not have preferences.

Do not harbor hopes for your own personal home.

Do not have a liking for delicious food for yourself.

Do not carry antiques handed down from generation to generation.

Do not fast so that it affects you physically.

Do not be fond of material things.

Do not begrudge death.

Do not be intent on possessing valuables or a fief in old age.

Respect the gods and Buddhas, but do not depend on them.

Though you give up your life, do not give up your honor.

Never depart from the Way of martial arts.

Second Day of the Fifth Month, Second Year of Shoho (1645)
Miyamoto Musashi

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as either a blessing or a curse.” – Don Juan

P.S. – If you haven’t done so already, head on over and wish Billy Coffey a Happy Birthday!

Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide (Repost)

In honor of my friend Mare’s birthday, I have decided to repost a portion of my very first Sky Mall post. Because Mare loves the Sky Mall! Now, I realize that this post features Christmas decor, but seriously people – it’s October already! Retailers are already dragging out the politically correct holiday muzak, garland and fake trees. Why not get a head start on the holiday rush?

Happy Birthday Mare!:

A funny thing happens when you write a blog (for me, anyway). Everyday, seemingly mundane experiences, in the hands of a seasoned blogging veteran (going on 8 months now – “I’ve come a long way, baby!”), are a never ending source for blog fodder. So what do you think I’m going to write about? What, pray tell, is the focus of this particular post? Well, silly! It’s Sky Mall!

For those of you who are not familiar with Sky Mall , it is a delightful little catalog that can be found in the seat pockets of most commercial airplanes. It is a literal extravaganza of a bunch of overpriced crap that nobody needs. How truly American! Truth be told, this catalog was such a wealth of material that I am forced to write a series of posts. I sense that you are all giddy with anticipation, so let me begin.

Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide! (Part One)

Oh, what to give this year? Most of us have so much that we are either stuffing our closets, attics and basements to the brim or are looking for ways to get rid of the items that no longer have the sparkly shimmer of newness. But because I realize nothing says “I love you the most” like an overpriced gift, I am endeavoring to provide some gift ideas for even the most discriminating person on your Christmas list. For your shopping convenience, I have categorized items by the potential recipient of such extravagant awesomeness.

Let’s kick things off with the most important person on your gift giving guide. Namely YOU! And what better way to get everyone in the holiday spirit than some over-the-top seasonal yard art?

Tacky Holiday Decor

Nativity Set: What better way to express the true meaning of Christmas than a full color, pre-lit, blinged out Nativity Scene? Show all your neighbors that you heart Sweet Baby Jesus! And at the low, low price of $579.94 for the entire set, you might even consider buying one for your heathen neighbor.

Pre-Lit Bethlehem Star: If you’ve decided to purchase the Nativity Set, then all your neighbors are sure to see just how holy you are. But are you missing out on an opportunity to witness to those who may be traveling past your house via low flying aircraft? Never fear, this “majestic 7′ x 10′ tall lighted Bethlehem star creates a beautiful display on your roof that is sure to capture your neighbor’s attention!” A mere $59.99

I don’t know about you, but nothing brings back sweet, childhood Christmas memories like “a giant inflatable, illuminated, animated 14′ long Christmas train!” When it comes to capturing the magic of Santa Claus and the little child in all of us, I say the bigger the better! ($199.99)

I grew up in an era before cable, satellite television and Tivo. One of the things I looked forward to each Christmas was sitting down in front of the old, 300 pound wooden box with a screen inside of it and watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. That’s why when I saw “Brightly colored hammered steel brings Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally and Snoopy to life right in your front yard!”, I knew it must be mine! ($199.99)

Looking for a way to frame your beautiful display of twinkly, Christmas cheer? May I suggest the Lighted, walk-thru 3-D Archway. “Welcome to your holiday “portal”! Archway’s metal-mesh frame is adorned with 400 pre-strung multi-color mini-lights for a brilliant color display at night. 129″ x 89″ tall overall.” ($149.99)

By now, some of you must be thinking, “Ah, Katdish! How pedestrian! I’ve seen all this before. How can I express my love of Christmas yet still maintain my sense of flair; my “razzle dazzle” if you will? Look no further. “Moving Hollywood-style Searchlights – with music . Two independently swiveling projectors cast large images that dance all over your home’s exterior from over 30′ away. Meanwhile, it plays your choice of 25 songs (20 Christmas, 4 Halloween, plus Happy Birthday) to add to the festivities.” ($139.99) I didn’t even know there was one Halloween song, let alone four!

And since you’ve invested wisely in your beautiful, festive yet tasteful holiday wonderland, wouldn’t it be great if you put all your neighbors on notice? “While waving one arm and moving one leg, this snowman stands atop a countdown clock much like that used at NASA for shuttle launches!” Let all those slackers know just how long they have to redeem themselves and their sparsely decorated yards! ($139.99)

So, there you have it. With a little help from our friends at Sky Mall, you can make your neighbors green with envy and your heathen friends red with shame as they behold your holiday yard in all its glowing glory.

We’re off to a great start! In my next entry, we will explore some fantastic gift ideas for your friends, family and business associates. Until then, remember that as long as you still have checks, you are never truly overdrawn, and that Christmas shopping is just the kind of “emergency” that your financial adviser was telling you about when he or she suggested you apply for a major credit card.

The Matrix

(Yes, I know – my photo editing skilz are epic, aren’t they?)

Today is my buddy Steph’s birthday.

Now I could spend a bunch of time explaining to you why I superimposed her picture onto a Matrix movie poster, and wax poetic about voodoo chicken necklace wearing hound dogs and the alternate universes of Texas and Georgia, but some things should just remain a mystery.

Besides, it would take too long.

And I’m feeling sort of lazy.

Which is cool, because this is for Steph.

And she’s probably feeling lazy too.

Trust me. I know these things…

So, in honor of Steph’s birthday, may I offer this celebratory video in her honor:

Okay, so most of you are thoroughly confused. But you can’t honestly tell me you’ve never made that observation while reading my blog in the past. You know you have…

Now would you be a dear and go wish her a happy birthday over at
The Red Clay Diaries? If you like this blog, you’ll be all up in that one. Promise.

Happy Birthday, Steph!

Saint Helen of Chicagoland

If you read my blog yesterday, then you know that a) I am lame, and b) it was Helen’s birthday. As promised, here’s my little Ode to Helen:

No songs, no beautiful haiku’s, wonderful polka videos. Many of my bloggy gal pals paid tribute to Helen yesterday, and they did it up right. But because I want those of you who don’t know my friend Helen to see what I see in her, that’s what I will attempt to do here.

Helen has been reading Hey Look a Chicken for almost as long as I have been writing it. I believe her very first comment here was on my post, The Top Ten things your friend/significant other with ADD wants you to know but keeps forgetting to tell you:

Helen said: I happen to be cdo. That is like ocd, but in proper alphabetical order, as it ought to be!

And that, as they say, was the start of a beautiful friendship. If you follow @helenatrandom on the twitter, then you already know what a great sense of humor she has. What you probably cannot surmise on 140 characters or less is that this funny gal is also compassionate, loyal, articulate and incredibly intelligent.

Okay, so many of you might be asking yourselves, “If she’s so smart, why does she follow this blog?” Answer: Shut up, who asked you? Okay, real answer? I think we’re kindred spirits. We’ve both had obstacles to overcome. Still do. But Helen handles things with grace, humor and a heart for God.

I don’t think I could pick just one favorite post from Random Musings, but the following excerpt is from one of my favorites. It’s Helen at her transparent best:

I have especially good memories of being a child on my way to and from school, passing a house that had beautiful light up nativity in front of their house. How I loved it! I remember walking up to the baby Jesus as a kindergartner, with my mom calling after me “Helen, I taught you better than to walk on the grass. You don’t even know these people! They might be angry!”.

I remember a middle aged (probably thirty-nine like me) woman coming outside in her house dress, telling mom it was okay, not to worry about it, I have her permission to stay on the lawn as long as I like, and come as often as I like. That was so nice of her. Poor lady. I don’t think she realized that I would take that as permission to come and kneel before the Christ child every day the nativity was up, every year through eighth grade.

Actually, she never came outside when I was there again. But, God bless her, she never said “Stop it already. You are no longer small and cute when you do this! You are absolutely frightening!” I mean, think about it. I probably looked like I should be riding the short bus. And, while I could read and write well above my grade level, and could hold my own in math, I was rather slow socially. Obviously. And, of course, I thought it was every body else.

My poor mother.

I was probably in Sixth Grade the day I came home half an hour late with my knees wet from the snow. It was the first day baby Jesus was up that year, and I had a lot to say.

Mom was always a worrier, and my coming home that late (very over protective) with pants wet from the knee down pushed her to the edge. She was yelling “Where were you? What on earth could you have been doing?” etc, I’m sure you all know the drill. And I look at her like she was…..well, acting strangely and say “Mom, didn’t you know the Nativity on the next block was up today? Where else could I have been?” Of course, she tries to convince me that the permission given me was not for all eternity, but I said “Wouldn’t they just say something already if they changed their minds?” Mom was exasperated with me, so I tried to keep my time with the nativity short from then on.

On my way to school, I would wave to the Holy Family, then stop to talk to them for a moment on my way home. Yeah. I know. Short bus. I looked like a big dumb kid. But I didn’t care. I wish I cared a little less now….

By the time I entered college, the family either moved, or didn’t put the nativity out any more. Either way, by then I was too grown up by then to do childish things, and not grown up enough to do child like things.

I do still cherish these memories. Every time I see an outdoor Nativity, I reflect on how I can receive Him like a child now. I guess the answer is to just love Him without wondering how I am being perceived by others.

In case you were wondering, we do not put out an outdoor Nativity (my husband doesn’t like them, and I have submitted to him on this matter), though I have Nativity sun catchers in my window displaying the story of that glorious day. I have not seen any children gazing in wonder, but if I do, I will be sure to tell them to get as close as they like, take as long as they like, and come as often as they like.

In interest of full disclosure, the set above is not the one I remember from my youth, but it is beautiful, isn’t it?

So, that’s my friend Helen at Random Musings. Did your world just get a little brighter? I know mine did.

Happy Belated Birthday, my friend! Here’s another Nativity scene for you:

Beth – The Alternate Lyrics

In honor of Beth’s birthday, I have chosen a cheesy Kiss song from the 70’s with the lyrics changed up just a bit. For the back story on this dedication, you will have to read this blog post and the subsequent comments from Beth’s blog That’s Not Me Anymore.

Beth, today’s your birthday
And I thought you’d like to know
Me and the girls have been prayin’
For a Youtube Snuggie show

It’s been several months now
Since I mailed that thing to you
I think you need to post it
Oh, Beth what can I do?
Beth what can I do?

Beth I know you’re wanting
To bust a Snuggie covered groove
Tell Frank to begin the filming
And girl show us all your moves

It’s been several months now
Since I mailed that thing to you
I think you need to post it
Oh, Beth what can I do?
Beth what can I do?

Beth, I know you want to
And I hope you’ll be alright
‘Cause me and the gals will be groovin’
All night …

Happy Birthday Beth! Love you, gal!

Happy Birthday Smurfette!

Hmm…that’s a fairly accurate description of my friend Sherri. She’s one of my chatty gal pal blogger buddies. She’s not blue, but still…

I really don’t think I’m the type of person who you can be lukewarm about. You either really like me, or really don’t. Poor Sherri! Preacher’s daughter and fine upstanding citizen that she is, she really should not like me at all. Especially since I tease her incessantly. But she can’t help herself. She freaking loves me, and the feeling is mutual.

Today is Sherri’s birthday, so I want you all to hop on over to Matter of Fact and wish my short, unintentional shoplifting friend a very happy day.

This is Sherri and her better half, Big Al (he digs me too, but he doesn’t like gerbils).


(Did you know that you’re an entire year older than me?)

Na, na, na, na, na – You say it’s your birthday!

Okay, so here’s the deal…

I have met some amazing people over the past year via this blog and others. However, there is a group of gals that have gone above and beyond the casual relationships ordinarily established on my blog and others. These women are my friends and my prayer warriors. As I sit and write this post, emails are flying fast and furious as we join to lift up another friend in prayer. I will unabashedly say that there’s not much I wouldn’t do for them, and I love them dearly. One of those women happens to be celebrating a birthday today. For a bit more background on this little posse, you can check out Annie’s post here.

Several months ago, I embarked on a ridiculously overambitious project of assigning fictional characters to blogger friends of mine. I really should update that…(But I digress…) Here’s what I wrote about Candy:

Candace (Candy) from Steele the Day as Phoebe Bouffet from “Friends”

So it seems that Candy is a bit of a health nut — kind of a granola girl. (Just like me, only completely different.) The only reason I know that she is older than I am is that she tells me that I remind her of her daughter and, she said she didn’t know who Heart was but was down with Sonny and Cher. I gotta tell you, that always throws me when she says stuff like that because she just seems really young at heart (must be the green tea). She’s not quite as nutty as Phoebe, but she has her moments!

UPDATE: I wrote that was when I was first getting to know Candy. She’s every bit as nutty as Phoebe! She is also hilarious, kind, compassionate and just wonderful all the way around. I hear she also makes some mean Chex mix in obscene quantities.

Happy Birthday Candy! I love ya, gal! Even if your husband still refuses to follow me on the twitter…

Happy Birthday Billy Coffey!

On March 24, 2009, I was reading my friend Jason’s blog when I noticed a comment from someone named Billy Coffey. I had seen his blog on Jason’s sidebar before, but never clicked over there. I have enough trouble keeping up the blogs on MY sidebar, let alone everyone else’s. But for whatever reason, I clicked over there. What I found was an incredible, wonderful story about a wise grandmother who taught a very profound truth to her grandson using a fruit salad as an object lesson. Like so many of you reading this, I was completely hooked. To show my appreciation for the writer’s talent, I left the following comment:

“Your grandmother was a very wise woman, indeed.
And you dropped the “f” bomb on her? Jerk!
Just kidding — that was a great post! Glad I found my way over here!”

And that, my friends was the start of a beautiful friendship. I’m still a little overwhelmed that Billy agreed to guest post for me not only once, but every single Monday. Someday soon when he’s a bonafide published author, he probably won’t have time to write for this silly little blog. But knowing him, I’ll have to refuse to post anything from him. Because he would rather wear himself ragged then let down a friend. As impressed as I am with his stories, I’m more impressed with the storyteller. And I’m proud to call him a friend.

Happy Birthday, Billy. May you get everything you wish for this year.

Breathing in, breathing out, and moving on

I took my first breath around 5:30 am thirty-seven years ago today.

Birthdays have a meaning that no other day can hold, even Christmas. Because it’s all about you. Sharing is neither required nor expected. It’s the one day when you can get away with most anything.

When you get older, though, birthdays develop a deeper meaning. Or even no meaning at all. I know a lot of people who refuse to celebrate their birthday, as if that is enough to halt the hands of time. I doubt I’ll ever reach that point, though. I don’t mind growing older. Just as long as I grow wiser, too.

If I’ve done my math right (and I never do), I figure I’ve taken approximately 194,471,999 breaths since that first one. That’s a lot of inhale/exhale. A lot of time. Age has never really mattered to me. I’ve known elderly people who were more alive than teens, and teens who were already half dead from the ravages of life. The important thing is that you spend your time wisely, that your heart grows along with your body. We each get the same amount of hours in our day. What separates the blessed from the cursed is what we do with them.

There are certain times of the year that lend themselves to reflection. Christmas has always been one of those times for me, though I’m not sure why. And New Years, of course. But even more so than those is my birthday. July 6 has always been a marker along the way for me, a chance to pull over and take a look not at the road ahead, but behind. If only to see how far you’ve really come.

How far I’ve come down that road isn’t really a matter of distance, of steps. It’s all about what you’ve learned along the way. Which is why every year on this day I’ll walk upstairs to my writing table, pick up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write down what I’ve learned thus far.

It changes, this manifesto of Billy Coffey. It evolves and contracts along with my level of experience in life. Some things I thought were true once turn out not to be true at all, and vice versa. Life is a process, not a set of steps with a definite beginning and end. You don’t often get from point A to point C via point B. Nothing’s that easy. Walking through this world is a little more roundabout than that. Sometimes you can get turned around and lost. And then, hopefully, found again.

I’ve done a lot of inhaling and exhaling over the past twelve months. This was a year of finding. The year I started blogging and easing out of my shell. The year I found myself again. And I pray the next year will bring much more of that.

So here it is, for better or worse, my latest manifesto. What I learned in the last year:

I learned there is a power in words that is overwhelming, one that is able to both lift up and knock down, inspire and doubt. I learned that strangers thousands of miles apart can form bonds of friendship that are both unbreakable and deep.

I learned that the darkness in your life is made bearable by finding the courage to share it with others, and that with much prayer comes much protection.

I learned that my children aren’t here for me to teach them how to live as much as they are here to teach me.

I learned that truth really is stranger than fiction, which is why life is so much worth the living.

I learned that love covers a multitude of sins.

I learned that a penthouse in a big city could never offer the peace of a front porch in a small town.

I learned that lofty dreams and great expectations are best achieved by the hands of God rather than my own.

And finally, I learned that hope is stronger than doubt, faith shines brighter than fear, and that sometimes our hearts must be broken just so they can be made bigger.

What will I learn over the next few months? Who knows. But katdish was kind enough to let me post one of my favorite songs below, and I know this. Regardless, I’m going to enjoy my trip around the sun.

Happy Birthday!

In honor of my favorite guy’s birthday, I’m taking a break from my ranting and random silliness to pause and say:

Thanks for putting up with my crazy family, my short attention span and inability to keep track of my keys and other important items. Thanks for being a Godly man, a good husband and father, and for working so hard to take care of us. Thanks for being the smartest person I know without acting like it. Thanks. Just thanks for everything. I know I drive you crazy sometimes, but what’s life without a little crazy?

So, in honor of your birthday, I posted this clip from your favorite movie. Who knows? Maybe as a gift to you, I’ll sit down with you and watch the ENTIRE MINI SERIES. (Of course, that’s going to have to cover birthday and Christmas.)

A very happy birthday! Love you!