Monthly Archives: August 2013

“We Have to Project a Positive Future”

Yesterday, I felt inundated by questions and dark thoughts about why the world is the way it is. My stock answer, the one I tell myself over and over is, “It is what it is,” whatever it is. This is a dichotomy of thought on my part as I also tell myself that it is possible to change my own situation, circumstances, feelings and thoughts just by thinking positively, by not letting the shadows of what might be overtake the light of what is. I can make the shift from negative to positive. I can bring positive love and light into my life by being love and light, by sharing the good and putting less focus on the not-so-good.

I also believe that when we have questions, even those internal little niggling thoughts, answers present themselves. It’s up to us to look and listen, to be still. If we ask (even silently), we shall receive.

So, with the thoughts of yesterday still whirling around in my mind, questions about how we can possibly make the world a better, safer, lighter, more loving place bouncing and pinging, I found this video on my Facebook news feed. It’s from a site called The Master Shift.

John Lennon was not my favorite Beetle. In fact, he lost me when he slipped into what I called his “Give Peace a Chance” phase. I was young and silly and had no idea what that was all about. I’ve changed since then. I’ve grown a little in my thinking and I realize that Lennon, like so many others who were able to hone in on something real and tangible while the rest of us were in denial, while presenting an image of a hippy-dippy lifestyle that was suspect in my eyes, was looking and listening and finding answers that make sense for all of us.

This video is long by today’s standards of seven second bytes but it’s worth a look and a listen. You may have heard it all before; it may not bring instantaneous meaning to you or answer your questions, but it was there for me this morning to shine a little light on my own questions and I want to share it with you.

Lennon 02Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Just for Fun!

You make a difference

 

 

 

Speechless

LaManchaColorweb

This morning, while floundering for something to write about, swallowing my desire to rant about the negativity that seems to be spreading like an unchecked virus around me, a song came to mind: The Impossible Dream. I have fond memories of Man of LaMancha. My brother went to see the musical in high school and came home inspired. He gathered our friends, handed out roles, taught us the words, and we re-enacted various scenes from the play. That memory of my brother standing in our backyard belting out this song is still my go-to when it feels like negativity is winning.

As to the negativity? When this is the best advice a woman can offer young girls in finding their place in the world, I am profoundly saddened: “The world we live in is a twisted and broken place.” I have no words to describe how wrong this feels to me.

So, I offer you this little bit of nostalgia and hope. You can find it on YouTube but it won’t compare to the wonderful memory I have in my head.

The Impossible Dream

Music by Mitch Leigh and Lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.

One last thought for today:

Stars

The Thing Under the Shed

The Girls 02

My dogs have been going crazy the past couple of days. They woke me up at five o’clock yesterday morning, whining and whimpering, anxious and scared. As I opened the back door, I heard thunder far off in the distance, rolling in waves. I laughed as the rain started to come down giving everything, including my dogs, a much-needed and long-awaited soak. 

My girls are trained for hurricane/tornado weather. When the skies turn dark and the wind begins to howl, my dogs head to the guest bathroom–the only room in the house without windows–with or without me. It’s not unusual for me to look up from my computer (usually when the power has flickered or gone out completely) to find I am alone in my office, the dogs having made their way to the bathroom to settle in until the storm passes. By the time I join them, Elektra has usually pulled the mat off the rim of the tub and made a nice little bed for herself and her sister. Bella sits like Snoopy on his doghouse, head hanging, looking sheepish and afraid. I usually light a candle and sit down on the toilet lid to wait out the thunder. It’s not often that I’m afraid, but there is comfort even for me in the sharing of solace and companionship.

Today, the alarm whimpers began again around five o’clock. I haven’t slept well since breaking my foot on Sunday so I listened to the quiet around me and hushed the dogs. By six, there was no sense in trying to sleep. Bella had rattled the blinds on the back door sufficiently to incite a riot in the little ones. I hobbled to the kitchen and began my day, letting the dogs out while I scanned the backyard with a flashlight, looking for nocturnal visitors: armadillos, opossums, or the neighbors’ cats. The girls sniffed every inch of the patio and then made a beeline for the shed.

There is no barking in the morning regardless of what the dogs find lurking in our yard. My girls know the rule: barking = no treat. They quietly nosed around and under the edge of the shed, dancing excitedly. My mind always runs shrieking to the worst possible scenario: python, rattlesnake, or alligator. (It could happen!) My flashlight revealed nothing. I headed back to the house and the girls followed, the little ones jumping through the dewy grass like black-and-tan dolphins. I dried their bellies and feet, gave Bella a quick pat-down with the towel, and filled their food bowls. All three dogs stood nose-to-glass at the back door, watching the shed, ignoring breakfast, ignoring me.

The little ones are napping now, stretched out on their pillows at my feet. Only Bella stands guard at the back door, waiting for the thing under the shed to show its face. I know that at some point today, I’ll have to cram my sore foot into a hiking boot, arm myself with a long stick, and poke around under the shed. There are better and worse things to do on a gray day. Coffee first, though, and maybe a pill for the pain. Then I’ll gird my loins for battle and hope for the best. I wonder how fast a black racer can slither? Wait, don’t tell me! I don’t wanna know!

I hope you have a happy, sunny day today wherever you are!

Merrily Down the Garden Path

Withered Rose 02

Is it just me or is the bloom off the rose of social media? Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but it seems to me that as the focus of Facebook and Twitter has changed from, “Look at me and all of the interesting things I’m doing!” to “Buy this!” the social aspect of connecting with friends and family has slowly been leached out of the media.

I’ve never been a big fan of Facebook. I just don’t have enough friends online or off to require a repository to keep up with them. And besides my writing, I don’t have enough interesting happenings going on in my life to require instant status updates. I have to admit, it is much easier to share photos and quick messages with family and my few far-flung friends, but if the news is big enough, we still call each other or text or send an email.

As for Twitter, for me the platform has devolved into 140 character commercials. When I first joined a little over a year ago, the art of the mini conversation–enticing people to connect with you through short bursts of witty banter–was becoming a valid art form. I liked the give and take, matching wits and quotes with like-minded people. The fun of Twitter, however, quickly faded as my posts and follows were greeted with stock replies of, “Thanks for following. Now, please check out my website/blog/author page and buy my book!” I can honestly say that throughout my Twitter adventure, not one long and involved conversation ended without a plea for a book purchase. In some cases, I bought the books; in other cases, I felt manipulated.

Now I know it’s all about the numbers. We’ve been convinced that the more likes and followers we have, the more successful we will be as authors or salespeople or entrepreneurs. (Maybe that’s really one job description: it seems impossible nowadays to be a writer without also being head of sales as well as the leader of our own one-(wo)man band/corporation/organization.) Long gone are the days of hole-ing up to write “The Great American Novel.” Now you have to be “out there” building a presence, developing a fandom with followers. And then you have to write four or five or six more books just like that while you hawk your work on Facebook and Twitter and every new platform that comes along. Forget about writing good books or building relationships or maintaining the ones you have. It’s all about the advertising. Sell, sell, sell! is the new mantra of the upwardly social.

As for me, I’m stepping off the garden path and letting the crowd pass me by. Social interaction makes me uncomfortable hence my comfort in being a cave dweller. As for the internet and life in the social matrix? There has to be a better way.

So, today I’ll leave you with this:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles today, To-morrow will be dying. Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)

(I wonder how many will remember this from lit class and how many will think of HBO’s Newsroom?)

 

When Did the Right to Bully Become a Way of Life?

 

I think for many of us, when we think of bullying, the image that pops into our heads is that of a scrawny, bespectacled child handing over his lunch money to a bigger, brawnier kid with a henchman or two at his back. Deep down, we know that this scenario is sad and wrong, but we’ve seen it so many times either in movies or real life that we’ve slowly become inured to the idea. In the animal kingdom, this same scenario is common place where “survival of the fittest” is the rule to live-or-die by and the weak, with nothing to offer in lieu of, simply become lunch.

There are, however, other, more damaging ways to bully and I, for one, am tired of it.

Bullying

I have a friend, a smart, animal-loving, kind and gentle friend who also happens to be disabled. Her life has taken her down more than her fair share of rocky roads and now, in her later years, she finds herself in less than optimal circumstances, living in a very neat and well maintained mobile home in a park run by bullies; she is sandwiched in on both sides, tormented and harassed by bullies; she has been subjected to the worst kind of treatment by her neighbors which is both supported and encouraged by the park’s management, and she is represented by the worst kind of bully: an attorney who doesn’t like conflict, who doesn’t see the harm in letting the wolves circle and threaten and snap at her door and at her heels, and who has little compassion for his clients and even less understanding of the circumstances in which they find themselves.

We’ve set up a system in our society where those who are the least able to stand up for themselves are fair game to be preyed upon and victimized by the bullies as well as the system. We tell ourselves that there are agencies, both governmental and charitable, working to protect these people but the truth is, the burden of proof is on the victim and the process one must go through to get help is as threatening and uncomfortable as the bullying.

Do you need legal aid? Prove that you are destitute and worthy of assistance and maybe, just maybe–if you jump through our hoops to our satisfaction–and fill out this stack of forms, and account for every penny you have, and prove to us that you are not at fault, that you didn’t step one toe over the line, we’ll consider your case and get back to you in oh, say, a month or six weeks. Good luck in the meantime. As for legal advice? Keep your doors locked and your head down and don’t stir up trouble. Stay inside, avoid your neighbors, walk your dog after dark, don’t make eye contact or respond to threats and taunts, and have a nice day.

As a friend, rather than a family member, I have no legal ability to help my friend. I can’t schedule appointments, talk to attorneys or to the park’s management or the neighbors on her behalf. I have no legal standing, no caché, no authority to protect her. I do the best I can to encourage her, to try to pull her back from the funk and the abyss of loneliness and dejection. Her stores of energy and white hot indignation have long been depleted. She has her memories of what it was like to be whole and happy and a welcomed part of her community. But the truth is, the cracks through which so many people are falling these days as we devolve into a ruthless, selfish, terrorizing society are ever widening. And there is no one working to close that gap.

As the financial gap widens between the haves and the have-nots, so does the gap between the civil and the uncivil. When bullying becomes the norm–and we are this close to becoming a bullying society–we will be done as a nation of freedom and personal liberties. When victimization becomes standard treatment and we can no longer distinguish between bullying and standard operating procedure, when people feel that they have the right to bully rather than the right to protect, life as we know it will be over.

Look around you. That time is near.

If you have any suggestions for how to deal with bullying, please feel free to comment. As much as I love being a cave dweller, there are still some battles that are worth leaving my cave to fight.

A Thought to Ponder 

See this world as a free world, and see everyone in it as trying through their individual experiences to find their way back to that calling, back to that Source Energy. And even though there are billions of them going about it in a way that is different than you would choose, there’s no right or wrong way. In other words, bless them all, and get on with the only thing you have any power about, which is opening or closing your vortex to your natural state of Well-Being. —Abraham

We should be supporting and assisting each other, not judging and victimizing. The world will be a healthier, happier place when everyone feels supported and loved and accepted and allowed to follow their own path.

the path 02

 Photo by Chris Wood

One Thing Leads to Another

"Make Things"

“Make Things”

My recent trip to Scotland seems to have flipped some strange Ms. Fix-It switch in me that I’m having trouble turning off. In the past two weeks, I’ve renovated my office, built shelves and a desk to create a mini-office space in my old closet, and relocated every book I own; repurposed cabinets and shelving (the cabinets in my old office closet now reside in the master bathroom); rearranged and/or replaced all the photo groupings and pictures in my house (I scanned old photos to create a huge black and white montage); repaired the dishwasher that has sat dormant in my kitchen for the past eight years. I’ve moved furniture, sewn cushions and made three new dog beds from an old, holey comforter that I could not bring myself to throw out; I’ve made several cork boards using old picture frames; spray painted just about everything not nailed down; made tissue paper flowers to keep my hands busy while I’ve planned new projects and compiled lists of things to scavenger hunt at the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store down the street. I’ve cleaned every closet in the house, rearranged every nook and cranny of storage space, and I’m now in the deep-cleaning phase of my whole-house makeover.

YIKES!

My renovation binge began simply enough. I was anxious to write about my trip, to organize photos, to relive my adventure on paper. My office, however, was left in a disheveled mess as I’d neglected it in the weeks prior to leaving, stacking papers and books and scribblings here and there for future reference. Sitting down at my desk that first day back, I realized that I needed to make some breathing space, to move a few things to de-clutter my work area. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was emptying out the closet, taking down shelves and cabinets, and spackling nail holes. My office is now clear of clutter but I have yet to accomplish what I originally set out to do. (I now believe that tidying, the most harmless of chores, is the gateway to full-scale revamping. Now I know better!)

Who IS This Person?

This person who is bustling about sewing and organizing and remodeling seems unfamiliar to me. Granted, I like to sew. I like to organize. I don’t mind a little remodeling. But this is out of the ordinary for cave-dweller-me.  I’ve been shopping! I’ve been to Home Depot three times in five days! One project leads to another–and another–and another. And although my comfy cave is becoming a little more comfy, I’m finding that the deeper I go in my quest for completion, the more problems crop up.

So, my new goal for the coming weeks is to find balance in my mania to renew and refresh and revitalize both my cave and myself. I will finish the projects I have in process and get back to writing. I’ll give the house one more quick cleaning and then close the door on all of the DIY projects on Pinterest that are calling my name. And while it’s been mostly fun moving book cases and solid oak desks and repairing the dishwasher all by myself, I think I’ll call for backup to fix the new leak under the kitchen sink. Even a cave dweller requires a little professional help once in a while.  Fingers crossed that this is not one thing that leads to another. 🙂

Just for Fun!

Elephant and water

When DIY jobs go bad, there’s only one thing to do: laugh! (And then call a plumber!)

Jump!

Jump

My life has never been about putting down roots and staying in one place. It’s never been about making safe choices or tip-toeing out to the edge of the cliff to peer over the rim into oblivion. My life has been about jumping and leaping, soaring and flying, and, more often than not, crashing and burning. But therein lies the root of perspective. How high is high? How low is low? What does it feel like to be truly happy? What does it feel like to free-fall from perceived financial security to no income in the blink of an eye–by choice? It’s scary as hell; it takes your breath away; there is a profound exhilaration when the ability to sprout wings comes fast and furious; and it’s addictive.

Twelve years ago, I had a good job with a good salary in a city I loved. One day, I woke up in my comfy cave (yes, I had one then!) and decided that I needed a change. I quit my job, gave up my townhouse, put everything in storage, and hit the road, traveling across Canada and the western U.S. in a pick-up truck while I waited for the next big thing to come along and grab me. Since then, I’ve moved from Maryland to Ohio to Georgia, back to Maryland, and finally to Florida.

My brother asked me one time why I keep making these big leaps in my life and the only answer I could think of was this: It’s more fun to jump off a cliff than to fall off a cliff. It’s all about perception, really. I perceive therefore I am. I am what I perceive.

When push comes to shove, something clicks in my brain and I realize that I can either become the victim (slipping and falling while I go into shock and wondering all the way down what the heck just happened) or I can take control of my life and my decisions. For me, the act of jumping ignites a sense of all possibilities and potentialities rushing to the forefront, vying for attention. My descent begins to look like a good thing as I waver in the wind, adjusting my wings to land in a spot of my choosing be it soft, green grass or rocky terrain, in familiar territory or an alien landscape.

But I think the real answer to why I leap is really this: There is no reason to be unhappy–ever. I still find myself with the blues once in a while, but I know that I can change my feelings as easily as I can change my mind. Small leaps of the mind can be as fruitful as big leaps if you put your energy and intent behind them.

After all this time, having made great leaps and tiny jumps and displayed phoenix-like qualities more than once, I have discovered that I am the master of my destiny and when my spirit says “Jump!” it’s not usually a matter of how high but when.

Just for Fun!

Happiness in a VW

This one is for you, Topher!