Fairy Tale Mash-Up

“Write the Story”– a Picadilly publication has inspired this week’s writing prompt. Let’s write a Fairy Tale Mash-Up!

For this week’s writing prompt, take one or two or more fairy tales and mash them up into one story. Bonus points if you use the following words: sword, stone, grove, tin, cardboard, lilac, and sparkle.

A Missionary in a Remote Village

A Missionary in a Remote Village

I recently started writing again. Currently I am following the advice Julie Cameron offers in her book “Right to Write”. I have had writers block for most of the last few years. I am learning how to get my legs back under me and start writing. For now, I am just writing. Every day. Three pages. Whatever comes to mind. I am working on training my inner critic to be silent and just let me write; training my subconscious that writing everyday is part of an ordinary day; and finding the fun in writing once again.

I have a book of writing prompts I got from Barnes and Noble that was published by Piccadilly titled “Write the Story”. Writing responses to a few of the prompts has been my afterwork activity this week. Moving forward, I am going to try to post a prompt on Tuesdays and post my response on Wednesdays. Not all the prompts will be from the aforementioned books, but I wanted to mention the book because it is pretty good. The writing prompt I wrote a three page response for was “A Missionary in a Remote Village”.

“A Missionary in a Remote Village”

A finch flitted amongst the apple blossoms. Old-fashioned waddle and daub buildings lined the cobblestone road leading to the town square. The town square was little more than an elaborate crossroads with a circular garden with a stone statute in the center.

The stone statute made Elia’s gut turn over and sharp pains radiate from her mid-section. Its linear outline and bold, simplified facial features proclaimed this village was protected by the Harridan.

Elia took a deep breath and whispered to herself, “Sky Father, who sees all, protect me as I venture forth in your name into the lands of the false goddesses.” She adjusted the leather satchel bag on her hip and looked for an inn. She saw The Broken Branch and headed for it.

As Elia stepped down and over the threshold into The Broken Branch a man called to her from the shadows past the bar, “Hey sky maid, you aren’t from here. What you doing in Mersla?”

Elia walked to the bar. She smiled in the direction of a burly man with a full dark beard. He had a brown apron wrapped over his trousers and around his waist. His white shirt Elia suspected was less white in the full light of day. She responded, “I am traveling and telling folks the stories of my lord, Sky Father. He stretches from sunrise to sunset and all is visible to him.”

The bartender moved behind the bar, took a mug and placed it beneath a tapped keg. “He don’t see what isn’t open to the sky. The Harridan’s ears are so keen that if a virtuous mouse squeaked for protection, she would fly to its aid and beat its attacker. Does you sky god have ears? What will he do?”

Elia smiled. “He is benevolent. Sky Father blesses us all with rain to make crops grow and snow to fill the rivers. He whispers on the wind and if you listen close you can hear the secret of life and know the mysteries of the universe.”

The barkeep harrumphed. “Benevolent? He’s a pussy and won’t fight when the raiders turn up and want to steal our crops and cattle and rape our women.”

“Would you have crops or cattle without the rain?” asked Elia.

“No, but the rain and the snow comes pretty regular. As do the raiders. What’s your god going to do about them?” said the barkeep.

Elia straightened. This conversation was developing in a way she had not anticipated. She had seen in her imagination the villagers hanging on her every word, rapt in the wonders of the Sky Father. This very confrontational barkeep was not swooning under the grace of the Sky Father. She said, “It is not so much what he will do for us in this life as in the next. He watches us and weighs our actions. If we are found to be kind and virtuous, he blesses us in the next life.”

The barkeep frowned. “Sky maid, I’d much prefer the Harridan’s blessing in a fight. Give me good aim and power behind my ax. This is the life I have and I would like to keep it. Being a good man, the neighbors will take care of that. If I cheat or lie, there’ll be a reckoning. This village is not so big and we take care of our own. If you want a room for the night and a hot meal, I am happy to provide it to you, but don’t climb on no table and start preaching or I will have to show you the door. We got an understanding?”

Elia nodded and said, “Yes, sir.”

As the evening progressed, villagers wandered into The Broken Branch. One man brought a violin, another a guitar, and a third had a banjo. They began to play. A woman with blonde hair and a man danced. Their feet shuffled and kicked to the beat. A fourth musician came in with an accordion. The music pulled people in from the warm night air.

Elia sat and ate the stew the barkeep served her. She dipped dark brown bread in the broth as she watched the dancers spin and whirl across the stone floor. Two older men played cards in the corner, smiling and talking as they made matches and laid them on the table. An older woman laughed so hard she doubled over.

The Sky Father could not see their merriment. Surely such happiness was a gift? Such joy a blessing? The barkeep had stated that the raiders came frequently to this village so they knew hardship. Sky Father must see their hardship. Elia had witnessed their well-tended gardens and rows of wheat. The goats in the hills above were fat and well cared for. She had seen women drying fish near the shore. There were large herds of cattle. This village might be small but it was very prosperous.

Sky Father must have seen their hard work and rewarded them, but why send the raiders? And why do nothing when the raiders come? Why would the Sky Father not lend these people assistance? Why did they only know of the Harridan? Elia sat and contemplated on the situation.

When she retired to a corner of the communal loft of the inn, resting her head on her satchel, she continued to contemplate. The Sky Father was all knowing. And benevolent. He would never abandon righteous folk. There must be some reason for the raiders plaguing this village.

Elia’s tortured thoughts ended with the cool light of the rising sun. The sun beams split the darkness and dissipated her doubts into the corners of the loft.

Hope.

The Sky Father spread hope. The raiders came so the people knew hardship and pain. Sky Father with his stars and the sun in its orderly path guided the way for the raiders, who were also their children. They must have need to raid and so the Sky Father provided for them. And through providing for the raiders, he created hardship for the villagers so they could know the sweetness of their lives and experience gratitude. Nothing would be taken advantage of.

Elia smiled to herself. Her faith was renewed. Her hardship on the dusty road would end and she would know the sweetness of success. If not this village, another village would see the goodness of the Sky Father and accept her teachings. She decided she would start with the lonely shepherds. They would appreciate company and may give her enough time to hear her out. She would take the subtle and quiet path.

observations June 8 2018

While I was running errands today I made some observations—just noting things. So here are my

observations for June 8 2018:

Cabela’s

I drove today to Cabela’s Sporting Goods store. I was hoping to find some inspiration for my soon to be fourteen years old son’s birthday present. It was like stepping into a foreign land. There was a mountain in the middle with waterfalls and taxidermied animals. (My spell check is saying taxidermied is not a word, but taxidermy is.) Anyway, the animals were kinda creepy with always staring flat, glass eyes. I noticed the water did not run on the backside of the mountain near the camping department. Maybe if you are camping you don’t want waterfalls? But you do want dead animals?

Dead animals aside, because it was the middle of the day on a weekday, Cabela’s was not very busy. And every other customer was being approached and asked if they were finding everything. The cashiers looked like zombies they were so bored, and yet the one when I finally checked out looked pissed I had stepped in her line. The customer service seemed to be impeccable, except I was being avoided by all the sales associates. I am not certain why.

Maybe it was my Birkenstocks? Or I forgot my deodorant this morning?

I don’t know. Feeling like a stranger in a strange land, I eavesdropped as a salesman spoke to two women. Their conversation was not about camping supplies. He disparaged the US government’s involvement in something and called President Obama a mocking name. I saw t-shirts a person could buy to advertise their favorite gun manufacturer and one t-shirt emblazoned with “An AR-15 is for self-defense”.

Sharps and the Dutiful Consumer?

Taxidermied animals, rushing fake waterfalls, and pro-gun t-shirts, oh my! Cabela’s was certainly feeling very off for me. I don’t see the rationale behind buying a Yeti cooler when a Coleman will still keep ice for three days. Further, hunting for shorts my son would wear only turned up ones that were camouflage and I wasn’t certain would be appropriate for school. None of this stopped me from being a dutiful consumer in a capitalist society. I bought my daughter a couple of pairs of leggings that were on sale. Two “Life is Good” t-shirts proclaimed the virtues of being outdoors and they were on sale, so I bought them. A blanket claiming to remain sand-free at the beach piqued my curiosity and I bought it. Hehehe, I will put that to the test. And my favorite travel mugs were on sale. I bought two.

Despite all of this, the thing that stuck in my head most about Cabela’s was going into their public restroom and seeing a half-full sharps container on the wall. Never before have I seen that anywhere else in a public bathroom. I don’t know if Cabela’s typical customer base includes more diabetics or if this is the new reality of an out-of-control opioid epidemic in Trump’s US. I can only speculate Cabela’s felt the need for a sharps container because too many needles were sticking out of the regular trash bags.

Kombucha, Dead or Alive

Speaking of trash, I am trying not to trash my SCOBY. For this reason, I went to a home brewing supply store today to get a glass 1, 2 or 3 gallon jar for my newest pet/science project in the house. The salesman was a bit too forward– hitting on me, so I make no apologies for darting over to look at the kombucha culture kits in the store in the middle of one of his “witty” stories. I did not go in the store for witty stories, I came for a larger home for my growing SCOBY.

When I got home, I looked at my SCOBY. Damn, it grew. And it is all kind of white. I am not sure it is alive. I googled what a SCOBY looks like when it goes off. They look kind of off even when they aren’t. I do know from reading a few blogs on kombucha that if it is growing blue and green mold it is definitely off.

Or is it just a continuation of the science experiment?

Laundry

Speaking of white things, I saw a big white laundry van advertising to do “students, families, or individual’s laundry”. Aren’t students individuals?

And then my “get off my lawn, back in my day” old lady brain kicked in. Back in my day, Grandma used to tell me to watch my long hair when I was cranking on the wringer washer. That’s true by the way. I also never experienced an in-home dryer until I had lived through having to go to the laundromat with a toddler. Everyone should have to live through going to the laundromat with a toddler before they get an in-home washer and dryer. Trust me on this. The world would be a better place. Maybe not with rainbows over fake waterfalls kind of better place, but a much more compassionate place for parents with toddlers.

Food Co-op

Yup, another “get off my lawn, back in my day” old lady observation on this June 8, 2018. I went to the food co-op. In my Birkenstocks. My food co-op used to only give a discount to people if you volunteered so many hours a week. I remember going into the food co-op on Saturday mornings and bagging pasta, nuts, and granola; restocking stuff on shelves; and helping the employees.

Now, I am a lifetime member and we don’t have to volunteer anymore. We get a discount just for being a member. It feels like I am doing less to be part of a community to help one another and more to be a dutiful consumer. On top, the co-op is always advertising for help and the cashier is rarely the same person for more than six months. This bothers me. Are we paying the cashiers enough? Are they being treated well? And then I see a sign advertising “curbside pick-up”. I am feeling a little queasy about a natural foods co-op with social justice roots advertising “curbside pick-up”. Is this the new fitbit reality where walking in ten minute bursts throughout the day but not going into the grocery store to pick out your own food makes sense? Or a bourgeois tilt toward the Amazon economy?

Tattoos

Speaking of bourgeois tilt, tattoos seems to be very commonplace. It is almost more radical to not have a tattoo. Further, people’s choice of tattoos kind of fascinate me in the same way as their choice of ringtones for their phones fascinate me. What ever possesses someone to have stars tattooed behind their ears? Or a ninja turtle brandishing a sword protecting their shoulder? Or R2D2 toodling around their lower back? How do people pick their tattoos? It’s forever, mostly. I cannot decide on a poster for my wall forever. How would I ever decide about a tattoo to be etched onto my skin? I think I am just a commitment phobe.

 

Enough observations for June 8, 2018. I have a pirate novel to read and poetry to write. The night is young. The air is warm. And the world is a strange place.

Lazy Sunday Mornings

 

Lazy Sunday Mornings

It is Sunday morning, a very lazy Sunday morning. I was up before 5am, as usual, but I am still in pajamas. Still drinking tea. Planning out my day. At it is only 9:30am.

Usually a Good Deal Happening

Lazy Sunday mornings are a contrast to my usual. I often have a good deal on the go—reading several books at one time, volunteering, cleaning up and maintaining a half acre garden, learning new songs and practicing old ones on both guitar and mandolin, writing poetry, raising my kids, caring for two dogs and three cats, working on coding, reading about child development and autism… The list can go on. And on.

Last Spring

Last year at this time, my garden did not get cleaned up. I planted no more than a half dozen tomato plants. My perennials fought with weeds. Playing music was set aside for several weeks. The only books I read were about Javascript.  My day job was requiring that I study for and pass Microsoft certification tests. I was cramming for the first one and my life consumed by learning Javascript.

Before you cringe, please understand I like the puzzle aspect of coding and Javascript requires some mind flexibility to work with because it is a little inside out.

However, the push to study for and pass the Microsoft certification tests and add to the list of coding languages I know in a very short time was exhausting. After the test, I slept for a couple days. When I woke up, I looked around. My house had not been cleaned for a month and a half. I had missed the opportunity to put in a garden for the summer. I had had to drop a math class that I wanted to take. Currently I am regretting I did not take that class because I still need to take it and now I will have to do a fair amount of review to get back up to speed in my math skills. Use it or lose it applies to math. The best mathematician’s I know stay in the math.

A Friend Sent Me a Book

A friend sent me a book—“The Art of Doing Nothing”. At first I was freaked out because she works for a kind of financial collection agency and the package had a return address from this collection agency and I have never had dealings with them. Yikes. The book is really cool though. And it isn’t about doing nothing. Not really. It is about procrastinating and that’s ok. Breathing. Meditating. Lounging. Taking baths. And listening to your intuition.

At first I did not know what to do with this book.

Currently, I am “planning” into my week a bit of doing nothing because when I don’t I work myself into exhaustion and crankiness.

 

Lazy Sunday mornings are a good thing. Too busy lives can sometimes take a toll. It is not only ok to plan in some rest, but it is essential.

Winter

hedge fence in winter Winter

I walked with my camera this afternoon, on this winter day. During the summer, the outdoor gardens of the botanical garden fill with people on a Sunday afternoon. Today, as I strolled through the children’s gardens, no one was there. I saw only one other set of footprints.

The snow simplifies the landscape. Muted colors contrast with the brilliant white. A hush lays heavy, the snow absorbs the sound. My footfalls crunch beneath me. Winter has a poetry all its own.

Winter Solitude

by Matsuo Bashosnowy spider web climber

Winter solitude–
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.

 

green lawn chair in snowWinter Trees

by William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Winter Evening log lean-to with copper pan

by George Trakl

When snow falls against the window,
Long sounds the evening bell…
For so many has the table
Been prepared, the house set in order.

From their wandering, many
Come on dark paths to this gateway.
The tree of grace is flowering in gold
Out of the cool sap of the earth.

In stillness, wanderer, step in:
Grief has worn the threshold into stone.
But see: in pure light, glowing
There on the table: bread and wine.

little library in winterWoods In Winter

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O’er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river’s gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater’s iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.

ram sculpture in winter

death

Deathdeath of the day

We don’t speak of death. We have few conversations around what to expect at the end of life, but we do have many misconceptions of what it is to be elderly. Most of us don’t prepare for retirement until it looms close. We don’t talk to our children about death because it is not a subject filled with toys, balloons and cake in our culture.

This morning I spoke with a friend about aging parents. I told her about how my mother in the last months of her life aged decades. Nothing prepared me for the weekend my aunt Mary and I sat with my mother as she was dying. My mother took secrets with her to her grave– that I found out while removing her things from the house the week after she died. That weekend my mother fought for her life even as she was dying. She was frightened and confused and disoriented because of her physical condition. In moments she was lucid and venomously angry with me for fixing the oxygen tube she kept pushing away. She spoke once and said she did not want to die. She was restless and slept and didn’t recognize me. When she died on that November evening, my aunt had stepped out of the room. I would like to say that something profound happened, but my mother just died. There was nothing momentous or dramatic about her death. The lack of great meaning made a huge impact on me. I had witnessed her struggle all weekend and easier than breathing, she had died.

I Haven’t Seen Much Death

Over the progression of my life, I haven’t seen much death. Goldfish, a few guinea pigs, the thirteenth puppy in a litter of puppies my dog had when I was growing up all died. And my grandparents. But I did not see them die. I saw them after they had died. I went to their funerals.

When my guinea pig died in my hands of a seizure, I was about 14 or 15. And it bothered me for weeks. I didn’t know why the guinea pig had had a seizure. The pain of the animal’s passing distressed me. I didn’t know what I had done wrong. I was kind of used to goldfish dying. They seemed somehow fragile.

When the thirteenth puppy in the litter died, I cried and cried. I did not know why that puppy had had to die. My dog had been able to care for all the other pups. It bothered me greatly.

Ghosts

My great grandfather was the person who taught me to read. I grew up on his tales of when he was a young man and had been quite an adventurer. He and my great grandmother moved out of their house and into a nursing home when I was in fifth or sixth grade. He died when I was in tenth grade, months after the guinea pig and the puppy dying. My mother, grandmother and I were out of town when he passed. I dreamt that night of him before I had known he had died. He had said good-bye to me in the dream and I had been confused. When I found out he was dead, I was speechless.

My great grandmother announced she was dying on a regular basis after that. And whatever relatives were within range would come to her side. I was in college when she finally did die. She said good-bye to me on the way out as well and her passing was not much of a surprise.

silence in the trees

Great Silence

When my mom died she was somewhat young. Not an age you think of someone as being ready to die. I had no dreams of her saying good-bye. I sat and said good-bye to her, she didn’t respond. There was just silence, as she was no longer there.

We don’t discuss the impact of other people’s deaths on us. We expect people to respond in very prescribed ways. Kubler-Ross wrote about the stages of grief so people look for a smooth progression through these stages, but it is like find stone markers on an overgrown path and you may loop around a bit.

The week after my mother’s death time warped. Moving through a fog, I had no context for the new reality of my mother not being alive on the planet. I don’t remember crying. My mother didn’t want a funeral. She wanted to be cremated; her ashes sprinkled where her husband’s ashes were; and she wanted no memorial service—we had a wake and only one of her brothers attended.

Lake Michigan at Pierce Stocking Overlook

Life, Death, Time and the Universe

There are few children’s books about death. We don’t hold classes or discussions to prepare for death. We hardly have any education to prepare for living our lives, let alone finishing our lives.

Every day fills with errands and work and trifles and beautiful moments and lucky finds and so much more. We are such small creatures in a vast universe and our lives are miracles. This is humbling. And expansive. And death is part of life and time sweetens or sours things depending on your point of view and if you can find the balance.

New Year’s Day And the Hero’s Decision

New Year’s Day and the Hero’s Decision. No other day of the year exemplifies the hero’s decision the way that New Year’s Day does. People come to the new year full of hope, wishful thinking, determination and the desire to change their circumstance. Many want to lose weight. Others want to find themselves in a relationship. More want have more money, read more books, create more works of art, build more bridges, dig more fence post holes, sew more stitches, save more time, rescue more kittens, throw out less trash, recycle more, compost more, change their oil more regularly, rotate the cans on the shelf, finally clear the clutter…

New Year’s Day As a New Beginning

Every story starts with a beginning. New Year’s Day draws a line. The old year, and all of its mistakes and glories, is over. Today, everything starts fresh.

Each of us is the hero of our own story. Sometimes these stories are inspiring:

Malala Yousafzai who is a young Pakistani woman who was shot in the face. She is an activist for the education of women and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

Daryl Davis who is a blues musician who befriends members of the Ku Klux Klan. He is a black man and his message of friendship has caused approximately 200 Klansmen to give up their robes.

Ron Finley who is a self-styled gangsta gardener in South Central Los Angeles creating food in a food desert.

Joanne Rowling who as a single mom living on benefits wrote the Harry Potter series.

Geoff Lawton a permaculturist who has brought green growth to the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan.

While these stories make the news and may inspire us, our everyday existence defines our personal stories. These may not be dramatic, but they are ours and only we know what effort they require. We bring home a paycheck and make certain the bills are paid. Conquering the laundry mountain at the end of the bed is no small thing. We finally learn how to make a decent gluten free loaf of bread. We read for an hour or exercise for 30 minutes every day. All of these achievements start with a thought and a decision. And each New Year’s Day can start a new chapter or a whole new story.

Every Moment A Decision

Heroes make decisions. And each of us is making decisions at every moment whether they are conscious decisions or unconscious decisions. It is very easy to bump along, go to the job that pays the bills, flick through the channels on the television every night, eat the pre-packaged food advertised as convenient, win social approval, read the best sellers, and go about life like floating down a river in an inner tube. It can be pleasant. And this is fine if you are happy and your purpose is to live life in this manner. Actually, there is much to be grateful for in this expression of life. And your life is your story.

However, if you are living your life as described in the previous paragraph and it is not a conscious decision or you have no real purpose of your own, it is quite easy to have your life given over to someone else’s aim. You can be manipulated for all sorts of tomfoolery, skullduggery, and fiendishness.

In addition, life may be lived like a leaf on the wind. If the wind blows gentle and the sun shines warm, it’s a beautiful day. Perhaps someone paid you a compliment or payday arrived. But what about when the wind blows chill, like -15 degrees Fahrenheit? Or it is raining? What about when you are fired from the bump along job? And the roof is leaking? And you burned your grilled cheese after spilling coffee on your white shirt? Do you feel lost?

Our Own Hero

At moments of failure, we learn who we are. We have to fail to be able to dig deep within ourselves and find meaning—how badly we want something, how much an aspect of living is important to us, who is important to us, how we will express ourselves, and what the story of our lives will be. The only way to be aware/awake is to ask questions:

  • Who am I? How am I unique?
  • What will be my epitaph? What will I be remembered for?
  • How do I want to contribute to the world?
  • How will I express myself?
  • Who is important to me?
  • What will I fight for?
  • What do I love?
  • How can I express love?
  • What is my “why”?

 

We, as heroes, make the decisions that start our journeys. What journey will you be on in 2018? How will you make the year your best ever?

Beyond Capitalism

Beyond Capitalism

Recently, Ursula LeGuin asked speculative fiction writers to write about possible systems beyond capitalism for the world to move to. I am currently reading a book titled “Zen and the Art of Making a Living” by Laurence G. Boldt.

Boldt writes in the first chapter:

“About the time the Industrial Revolution was really getting into gear, political revolutions were everywhere replacing kings with parliaments, presidents, and promises. The key promise was that the common man would soon be king. He would possess for his own the kingly prerogatives of power, leisure, and security—power over his station in life, the liberty of leisure, and the security of property.”

Boldt goes on to discuss that capitalism was intended to provide us all, via the free market, with labor saving devices that would ensure our leisure. Capitalism was how through the exchange of goods we would all benefit and become kings of our own castles—whether they were mansions or a trailer. The dream was to obtain power, leisure and security.

What other virtues did we lose track of?

While we were focusing on power, leisure and security, what other virtues and conditions did we lose track of? If we explode the myth of our modern existence, what has the work of most people resulted in? Do we have lives of leisure?

I remember seeing videos of what the future would look like, as predicted by people in the 1950s. The work week was supposed to be shorter. Household chores were to be done with “push button” ease. Everyone was to live in cleanliness, safety and comfort. Leisure.

While the vision of life in the future from the 1950s was a specific kind of rosy view, our reality is not comfortable for most. Recently, a United Nations official investigating poverty in the US in Alabama was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world. Read More.

Further, while things recently have grown more extreme as income inequality has grown, in the US the free market has not been benefiting everyone. More and more families are in poverty. A few years ago a report was issued in the US that stated 1 in 3 American adults were in collection for non-payment of debt. Read More.

Capitalism is Not Serving Us

Capitalism is not serving the majority of us. For instance, most Americans are working longer hours with fewer days off. Further, we have little power in a world where the very rich can influence elections that make them richer. Worldwide, this coveted western existence with our twin obsessions of owning things and consuming, has lead to the degradation of the environment and a pan-global culture lacking in meaning.

With things as they are, what if we step off the treadmill? What if the goal is no longer “more”? Ever more and more “Gross National Product”. Or more clothes, money, electronics, etc.

Further, what have we forgotten about? The environment. Or perhaps our inner lives. Our humanity. Creativity. The ability to have the freedom to direct our lives. The ability to see our own identity beyond what we do for a living. Duty. Wisdom. Peace. Connection to our communities, to our families, and to other people.

Imagine

What if in a future economic system value was placed on not pulling resources from the earth, but rather recycling? What if there was value in not making money but rather being wise? Or clever enough to find creative ways to do with less? What if there was value in work that nurtured the soul?

Before you scoff at these suggestions, remember that you live inside of our societal myths and we are firmly embedded in the “rightness” of our current economic system. Perhaps, in 200 years if humanity survives climate change and the current great extinction, our notions of owning, having and consuming will shift. Maybe, in that time period, this age will be looked on as Golden Age because people will live in a time of scarcity. Or maybe, they will live with more balance and look back at this time periods as a period of obscene over-consumption and stupid degradation of our habitat. Maybe there will be a shift in thought. What future systems can you envision?

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I hope today is filled with treats and no tricks, well at least only fun stuff.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Let’s just make this Halloween the BEST! Think back to when you were a small child, what would have been the best? Be the adult that the small child in you would have wanted to be at that door.

Teenagers Need Candy!

For those passing out candy this year, when a teenager comes to your door, please give them the candy. And without saying “aren’t you too old to be doing this?” Because they could be out doing things much worse like drinking & driving, vandalizing, drugs, etc. I would rather they be knocking on my door asking for candy & having safe/ legal fun than seeing them doing something dangerous. Kids grow up way too fast. Let them spend one evening channeling their inner childhood. Let them just have fun! Fun is good!

No Costume? No Problemo!

Please don’t refuse a child candy because they aren’t dressed up. Some children have autism and/or sensory issues that make dressing up challenging. Also, I used to be a teacher and every year I brought in trunks of costumes because some children cannot afford a costume. Please be kind, everyone you see is participating the best they can. They just want to have fun! And have candy!

Make All Welcome!

Don’t get antsy if they don’t look like they’re from “your” neighborhood. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. Perhaps they want to spend an evening in a place as nice and safe as where you live. Maybe they live in the country where there aren’t enough houses close together. Please just be kind to everyone! Have fun!

Don’t Judge a Book

One last thing, size doesn’t always determine mental age or special needs. You may see a teenager, but they may still relate as a younger child!

Have Fun!

Please be kind. You are already being generous, open your heart a little more! Be that really cool house!

Actually, wouldn’t it just be awesome if Halloween was a big street party? A chance to go out and hang with all the neighbors? And costumes are just fun!

Have fun! Eat some candy! Give out some candy! Wear a costume or not and enjoy other people’s costumes! It only happens once a year, make it the best!

Gratitude and Cookies

Gratitude and Cookies! I have been reading “You Are A Badass At Making Money” by Jen Sincere. This book is about mastering your mindset to bring more abundance into your life through a combination of opening to possibility, defining what you are looking for, seeing the value in what is around you, working hard and identifying when good things come your way. Just reading this book has made me more mindful and lent me some optimism.

Gratitude and Cookies

Gratitude and Cookies

Jen Sincero in her book titled “You Are A Badass At Making Money” tells a story of several children who receive cookies. A couple children greedily gobble down the cookies and run off. One of the kids whines about how their cookie isn’t as big as another child’s cookie. Another thinks how many cookies they receive is unfair. Another child criticizes the flavor of cookie because they prefer oatmeal raisin to chocolate chip. Some children happily munch on their cookies, haphazardly say thank-you and just as happily walk away.

And then there is the kid who is truly grateful for the cookie they get to eat. They thank the neighborhood mom who made the cookies and tell her how good the cookies were. They show genuine deep appreciation for the cookies. Maybe this kid even helps wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen.

I’ll bet that last grateful kid also enjoyed their cookies more.

The Great Big Universe

Sincero in her book says that the universe is like the neighborhood mom handing out the cookies. The grateful kids who enjoy the cookies , the ones who happily munch on their cookies without a fuss are the ones who the mom likes to bake for. However, the mindful, grateful kid who tells that mom how wonderful her cookies were? And helps clean up the kitchen. That’s the one the baker really wants to make cookies for. That’s the kid who will be invited in to stir the batter and lick the bowl and have as many cookies as they want.

I read this and my first thought was of Eddie Haskell from “Leave It To Beaver”, except Eddie Haskell was never genuinely grateful. He was just a suck up. This story of the cookies and gratitude stuck with me. I thought about it off and on for the last two days.

Sincero talks about gratitude being a way to get in touch with faith, to raise one’s frequency to match that of the “Universal Intelligence”, and more. A quote from the book on page 159 reads,

“There is no lack of things to be grateful for if you remember to pay attention.”

Ok, Let Me Take a Look Around

While having read all of this, I still began to have a less than spectacular Monday. I took a minute, took a deep breath and thought about what in my situation I had to be grateful for. A bit of really oppressive black Monday, cloudy day thoughts lifted. A co-worker did an amazing job of presenting the work our team has been doing and he spoke well for us in a meeting, I sent him a thank-you. And it made me feel pretty good.

I paid close attention to the music I was listening to and this added to my good mood.

Arriving home after rehashing some negative past stuff about my career change with my music teacher, I sat at the kitchen table. I took a deep breath and thought of as many things as I could that I am thankful for. I expressed my gratitude for things I would be bummed if they weren’t in my life. Actually, I tweeted them out. I felt silly, but also my mood elevated. So, I tweeted more and I realized there were a great many things that I am genuinely glad are in my life. And a good number of these are pretty damn mundane. Flush toilets, electric kettles and antibiotics spring to mind!

Conclusion?

I am definitely going to keep reading Ms. Sincero’s book. And I recommend this book to other people even if you don’t want to make money like a badass.