Metamorphosis ~ Emerging From Darkness

Metamorphosis ~ The Butterfly ~ © Barbiedoll 2006-2011

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s been nearly five months since I finally took the leap of faith & began my adventure into the world of blogging. As I’d intended, it’s been therapeutic as well as enjoyable for the most part. That’s not to say it’s been the least bit easy or even entirely comfortable for me to actually learn to speak my mind & voice my own opinions.

Most who knew me prior to my embarking upon this journey know that I’m constantly striving to be there for everyone—remaining the consummate happy-go-lucky cheerleader, somehow managing to be the pillar to lean on & the shoulder to cry on, ready on-call 24/7 with the right thing to say or do to pull someone else out of a slump, researching for hours or even days the answers they sought if I didn’t know right off the top of my head, helping to urge them on in their own personal battles or journeys, trying to give them the validation they sought for their point of view or actions whether I agreed or disagreed, or even spending money my family could ill-afford to spend in order to help a friend in need. I did my best never to offend anyone unless I was defending a loved one, at which point I have a tendency to become a fierce force to be reckoned with—the very personification of tooth, fang, & claw. In other words, for the most part, I was literally living the quote from Walt Disney’s movie, “Bambi”—“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Continue reading


Mammoth Magic ~ My First Guest Blog Appearance

Several weeks ago, I was honored to be offered the incredible opportunity of writing a guest blog post about Mammoth Cave for David N. Walker (follow David on Twitter), a freelance writer & the co-founder of Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp (follow Kristen Lamb of Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp on Twitter). I just can’t thank David enough for giving me the thrilling experience of writing my first guest blog appearance while also allowing me to share my memories of Mammoth Cave with all of his wonderful readers. What a great subject for me to write about that I’ll always hold near & dear to my heart as my first experience as a guest blogger. I thank you so very much for the privilege, David. The following post is that guest blog entry, “Mammoth Magic”, originally posted to David’s website on August 12, 2011.

There’s a magical place on this amazing planet we call home—a place where one can literally feel Mother Earth breathe. Though it was discovered by humans at least 4,000 years ago & rediscovered by modern humans in the late 18th century, it is a place that still holds many of her secrets even today. This awe-inspiring place is called Mammoth Cave.

Mammoth Cave's Natural Entrance

Located mostly in Edmonson County, Kentucky & officially established as a National Park in 1941, Mammoth Cave National Park is a sprawling 52,835 acres on the surface but, even to this day, no one knows exactly how many miles the twisting labyrinth & sometimes massive rooms with vaulted ceilings travel beneath the surface. Each year, a special expeditionary team of spelunkers & scientists explore & map a bit more of these passageways into the heart of this incredible system. To date, at over 390 explored miles, Mammoth Cave remains the longest cave system in the world.

I’ve been privileged to have visited this wonder of our Earth four times so far in my life. Each time, I find myself overwhelmed with even more emotion & awe than the last—especially when I’ve made the journey to share its incredible beauty with someone else & bear witness to their first reactions to my favorite treasured gem beneath our feet. The ever-changing landscapes, both subterranean & on the surface, ensure that repeat adventures to this epic wonder of Mother Nature are most certainly never reruns. I’m so mystified by the spiritual essence of the Earth that envelopes me whenever I’m there that, when I was seventeen, I even wanted to get married in the Domed Cathedral room.

I don’t recall how old I was when my parents first took me there on our annual family vacation, but I do know I was quite young. I was so inquisitive—overflowing with questions & a deep desire to learn that’s never left me—that the park rangers apparently really took a liking to me. They even allowed me hold a cave cricket gently in the palm of my hand, which is illegal today, & help them pull up a net/basket from the river that runs deep within the cave system to see if there were any blind cave fish or cave crayfish to show everyone on the tour & there were!

The Mammoth Cave Crayfish (Orconectes pellucidus)

I recall being so giddy to be ‘helping’ the guides—to be learning about all these strange & wondrous-looking subterranean creatures up close & personal. Even as I write today, these memories still make my heart race with joyful excitement. I’m extremely grateful my parents gave me that opportunity for myriad reasons, but primarily because tours of the river level—I believe it’s called Echo River, if memory serves—were discontinued for the most part in the ‘90s due to the possibility of the boats harming the fragile aquatic creatures & ecosystem, so it’s something that I’ve been blessed to have done that no member of the general public nor I will ever likely be able to do again.

Mammoth Cave literally speaks to my soul. The breath of cool air gently caressing you as Mother Earth exhales her welcoming greeting while one strolls along the path toward the cave’s Historic Entrance on a sultry summer day, seeing the huge stalagmite & stalactite formations that have taken millennia to form from minute drops of mineral-rich water, the oddities of flora & fauna that have adapted to life in the fragile cave environment, or the eerie feeling one gets when the National Park Rangers take you down deep enough & then extinguish all the trail lighting so one can experience what complete total darkness feels like are just a few of the fond memories that flood back & make me smile when I think of trips to Mammoth Cave.

If I were asked to name one place I’ve been in my life that I feel everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime in order to connect with what I consider to be the heart of Mother Earth, herself, that place would be Mammoth Cave. Please tread carefully, go easy on leaving footprints, take nothing but photographs & memories for, despite all of her enormous splendor, she is but a fragile piece of our environment that absolutely must live on for future generations to appreciate & love as much as I do.

To The GOP Presidential Hopefuls

Dear Republican presidential candidates & current Republican elected officials,

In light of recent events, I am writing to all of you today, as one who considers herself to be a moderate Republican with beliefs leaning toward those of the Republican Liberty Caucus, out of concern for the direction it would appear the vast majority of the Republican Party candidates are headed—a direction which causes me even greater concern for the United States of America as a whole.

It seems, for all intent & purposes that the Republican Party has morphed into a radical extremist fear & hate mongering party that no longer represents the views of moderate Republicans or even those of many average Americans at all, for that matter. I find myself rapidly becoming increasingly disgusted & disenfranchised by all the divisive hate speech, pledges, & rhetoric being tossed around. Maybe it’s simply that these members of the Republican party cannot hear the voice of the oft-silent moderate over their own boisterous bellowing & preaching or the frantic scribbling sounds of their pens busily signing the pledges of special interest & lobbyist groups, but it certainly appears that they have completely turned their backs on & lost touch with the more moderate-minded & lifelong backers of their party. In doing so, these extremist Republicans are not only committing political suicide for themselves, they are virtually ensuring another four years of Barack Hussein Obama which, in my opinion, is the equivalent of signing the death warrant for the America that most of us grew up in, take pride in, pledged allegiance to, & love. I would sincerely hope that is not what the Grand Old Party honestly wants & that they will begin hearing the voices of the concerned moderate Republican.

I implore each & every one of you not to continue to delude yourselves with the notion that, simply because I & most other moderate Republicans or Independent voters sincerely want Obama out of office for the good of this nation, we will vote for whomever the GOP ultimately endorses, regardless of any extremist actions of said candidate. There are a good many moderate Republicans or Independents who will not or cannot, in good conscience, vote for whomever the Republican Party chooses to run against Barack Obama in 2012 just to ensure that Obama does not get reelected. However, I don’t believe those individuals would vote for Obama, either. Essentially, considering the copious amounts of venomous hate speech, pledges based on personal religious beliefs, & divisive rhetoric the current GOP field of presidential hopefuls have been rabidly spewing, they are virtually revoking the right to vote at all from any conscientious moderate Republican or Independent who just cannot swallow enough antacid tablets in order to stomach casting a vote for one of these hateful, theocratic, far-right conservative Republicans who may run against Barack Obama.

I don’t think there are many American citizens who would wish to be ruled under Sharia Law here in the United States of America but, oddly enough, upon reading the full text of one particular pledge—“The Marriage Vow” by The Family Leader church group—after having watched the HBO documentary “Love Crimes of Kabul”, I found “The Marriage Vow” pledge to be frighteningly similar in many ways to the very Sharia Law it rallies against. Shame on those who have signed or plan on signing this document!

I believe I speak for most moderate Republican or Independent voters when I ask that the GOP please present us with a balanced candidate that we can truly believe in & cast our vote for with a clear conscience. One that has not already signed a theocratic pledge filled with racism, homophobia, & anti-female sentiment thinly veiled under the guise of ‘family values’. Present us with a candidate that tells us exactly how he or she intends to work with American citizens to fix the dismal economy, bring good jobs back to the United States, defend our borders, & stop illegal immigrants from leeching off of the American taxpayer’s dollars for education or welfare programs. Show us the candidate that will assist us in reforming the aforementioned welfare programs so that the average hard-working American taxpayer isn’t forced to stand in line at the grocery store behind people in designer clothes buying expensive name-brand foods with food stamps/bridge cards only to see them walk out & load those groceries into a luxury SUV said hard-working American taxpayer could ill-afford. Present us with the candidate that will ensure fair & equitable international trade while rekindling reasonable relationships with the decent allies we’ve unfortunately lost while being forced to endure the Obama administration. Give us a viable Republican candidate that isn’t patronizing lobbyists of various organizations by signing or saying things that promise us only what liberties they intend to revoke from the American citizens once they’re elected & start telling us what they’re going to do to defend our Constitutional freedoms—and that means liberty, the pursuit of happiness, & justice for all American citizens.

I praise former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman for his courage in repeatedly ‘pledging’ to his audiences to sign no pledges & for his clear statement regarding said pledges: “I don’t sign pledges–other than the Pledge of Allegiance & a pledge to my wife.”

I’ll be blunt here. Just because I happen to like steak in general doesn’t mean that you can just throw any rotting, toxic, ill-cooked cut of beef on my plate (the random GOP candidate) & expect me to eat it only because you know I definitely despise the only other entrée choice of liver & onions (Obama). I’ll more than likely starve first, as will the rest of America should Obama be reelected. The way many members of the Republican Party have been behaving lately, it looks like I may become a very skinny woman.


Cari L. Pedstelak

Note: The following is a list of some of the pledges I’ve found that GOP candidates and/or current GOP officials have signed. Speaking for myself, I take strong issue with the first two, although I honestly believe that the only pledge any candidate or politician should ever make is to We, the People of the United States of America–their potential employers (lest you have forgotten that the taxpayer is, indeed, your employer as this is a government of the people, by the people, & for the people–not of the politicians, by the politicians, or for the politicians).

An Open Letter to U.S. House, U.S. Senate, & President Obama

Dear U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, & President Obama,

Since approximately 5 months after Mr. Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States, our family has barely had enough money to scrape by & the situation continues to remain in a downward spiral. As Michigan residents, we feel this has much to do with our then-Governor, Jennifer Granholm, paying more attention to assisting Mr. Obama with his ‘transition team’ than in performing the duties associated with the job she held at that time, such as paying attention to the plight of Michigan jobs & businesses or to the dismal train wreck she was making of & preparing to leave our beautiful Great Lakes State in. Mr. Obama, it would appear, encouraged this deplorably neglectful behavior on the part of Ms. Granholm by enticing her with such things as the potential of a nomination as a Supreme Court Justice or United States Attorney General in his administration. We’ve attempted to maintain a sense of humor regarding this travesty by referring to it as “The Jenny ‘n Barry Show”.

Due to the numerous financial setbacks we’ve suffered, this year our family has found that we simply cannot arrive at a budget agreement we all feel is fair to all parties involved. In fact, we’re still struggling to pay off the only credit card we have, which we were forced to use to pay what you claimed we owed on taxes. Oddly enough, the issuer of that credit card, which was always intended to be used strictly for emergencies, has refused to raise our debt limit/ceiling.

Until such time as we are able to arrive at a unified decision that fits all of our various needs & any special interests, we find ourselves forced to shut down our checkbooks & will no longer be able to pay our taxes (aka your paychecks/’entitlements’–or had you forgotten that you work for us, we the people of the United States of America?).

We’re certain that, since you’ve now found yourselves in a similar position, you’ll be understanding of our predicament & will patiently await our decision regarding our family’s economic policies. As we’re sure you’re well aware, these are indeed difficult times for everyone during which we all must make sacrifices for the greater good. We’re also certain that you will all agree that family must come first–above all else.

We do wish to extend our sincerest gratitude to each & every one of you for setting such a fine example for us to follow regarding how to work things out like mature adults. We now know that it’s perfectly acceptable to simply storm out of the room without even hearing what our other family members have to say, which is such a relief! It saves us so much strain of actually having to think of ways in which we can compromise & meet one another halfway! We’ve also learned that, contrary to what we’d been taught throughout our lives, name-calling is permissible as is caving in to the demands of those family member(s) who happen to be the most raucous, regardless of whether doing so is in the best interests of all parties concerned/affected. We also are now aware that, once we’ve stomped away from negotiations to do things we find more interesting & less stressful (such as planning lavish birthday celebrations), we can simply veto or immediately vote down anything put forth by those family members that did bother to remain in the room continuing to try to work things out & we barely even have to give their proposal a second glance before doing so. What a weight off our already heavily-burdened shoulders! Thank you again, ladies & gentlemen, for your fine examples of true leadership!

Sincerest gratitude for your patience & understanding,

Cari L. Pedstelak & Family

Poor Pinocchio — A Bit of Humor

Snow White, Superman, & Pinocchio (a bit of humor courtesy of my Dad)

Pinocchio, Snow White, & Superman are out for a stroll in town one day. As they walk, they come across a sign: “Beauty contest for the most beautiful woman in the world .”

“I am entering!” said Snow White.
After half an hour she comes out & they ask her, “Well, how’d ya do?”
“First Place!” said Snow White.

They continue walking & they see a sign:
“Contest for the strongest man in the world .”
“I’m entering,” says Superman.
After half an hour, he returns & they ask him, “How did you make out?”
“First Place,” answers Superman. “Did you ever doubt?”

They continue walking when they see a sign:
“Contest! Who is the greatest liar in the world?”
Pinocchio enters. After half an hour he returns with tears in his eyes.
“What happened?” they asked.
“Who the hell is Obama?” asked Pinocchio.

It looks like Mr. Obama didn't find this funny. Sorry 'bout his luck! (Photo Credit: AP)