Monday, August 27, 2018

So... about those good old days

Did they really exist? The good old days, that is. I mean, I'll give you this. In the good old days, we were young, wild and free. Or at least, it felt that way. Well, for those if us who were born in the “right” place and descended from the “right” people, that is. Some of us weren't that lucky. I was one of the lucky ones. I see that now.

But while I was enjoying my youth in the good old days, many people were struggling. Some, because they were of a certain ethnicity. Others, simply because they were adults with responsibilities and with more awareness than I. I would imagine that being a mature adult in the good old days was very different than being a child or even a young adult.

In fact, I'm betting that adults in the good old days had every bit as much to be concerned about as we have today. OK, maybe, they were not quite as aware as today's adults. I suppose that's why they look at the past we fondness. They were somewhat sheltered, weren't they? That allowed them to relax and enjoy life just a bit more when they did have a free moment to do so.

Now, let's talk about this awareness thing, shall we? In today's world, with advanced technology, we're so very connected. We're pretty much aware of just about anything that happens, everywhere, aren't we? Even in tiny countries we've never even heard of. We're aware of people we don't know. We're aware of their lives. We're aware of their struggles. We're aware of their tragedies. We're aware of their negative characteristics. But we hear very little about their goodness or their triumphs, don't we?

We see the world as an ugly place because that's how it's presented to us. Why is that? Well, folks, it's partially because tragedy sells. Pain sells. Heartbreak sells. Fear sells. It gets our immediate attention. Admittedly, though, we actually are facing some very real challenges the seriousness of which has been building up for a while now. You know, things like global warming, dead zones and other environmental issues.

But these things aren't believed by everyone, are they? That's because, unfortunately, it's not profitable to believe them, is it? In fact, working on these issues is expensive. Now, many of us know that the cost of believing in and solving these issues is well worth it. Because our very survival as a species depends on us doing so. Unfortunately, that group does not include those with the power to address them. They don't want them addressed. Because again, taking action against environmental issues is not considered profitable.

 Likewise, it is not profitable to discourage war. War is very profitable for the powers that be. Therefore, it behooves them to instill “patriotism” in the average citizen, even to the point of shaming them for having a preference for peace. Furthermore, they create an illusion of our superiority to people in other countries, which neatly provides the profit mongers with soldiers to fight their monetized battles for them. When most of the time, we're not actually going to war for peace or to conquer evil or fight injustice, we're going to war for profit or to obtain resources.

Now, let me be clear. I love my country. I love that I was lucky enough to be born here. I see that people in some other countries have struggles the like of which astound me. I also understand that the very capitalistic regime that seeks to make a profit from us, also benefits us.

But my friends, I must be honest, there are also countries where the powers that be don't lie to/brainwash their people who enjoy those benefits as well.

Incidentally, it would even appear that some countries have it better than we ever did. Yes, even in “the good old days” if there ever was such a thing. We're seeing that now, due to our increased awareness. And yet, some people cling to returning society to the way they feel it was in those good old days. I don't blame them. Do you? I mean, we have truly placed the “good old days” on a lofty pedestal, haven't we?

The problem is, though, they really weren't all that great for most people. Life is always difficult. It was then and it is now. It just seems better in the past because looking back always carries with it fond memories. The human brain is built to survive tragedy by leaving it in the past. Bad memories fade over time. Otherwise, we'd all go bonkers.

 I mean, think about it, when someone close to you dies that maybe you didn't really get along with, don't you try to remember the good times and forget the issues you had with them? Well, it's the same way with everything in life. Moving forward with fond remembrances of the past is perfectly natural. Add to that the subtle brainwashing inherent in every society, brainwashing designed to take us in a profitable direction and you get this Utopian-like idealistic view of the past.

But folks, our past was anything but perfect. If you examine it closely, you can even see the beginnings of what our society is today. You can see the roots of the purposeful manipulation. You can see the for profit corruption. And most certainly, you can see the hatred and bigotry that existed and is being allowed to exist today.

Hatred and fear for profit has always been a background theme in our society. Folks, it was common to hang people for the color of their skin right up until the 60's. My friends, we are being led to long for the good old days. It enables the powers that be to manipulate us and bend us to their will. It allows them to use and abuse us. It allows them to pull our strings in the direction they need this society to go in order to further stuff their pockets. They have us right where they want us. Compliant and obedient.

But that's not enough. They want our kids too. They want us to breed generations of warriors for them. They even sponsor and finance the books used to educate our children, not out of generosity, but because they have a vested, monetary interest in what our children believe. They need a never-ending supply of unaware, obedient, subservient people to fuel their mission. They need puppets.

Ironically, they teach us that democracy is superior. The problem is that what we have isn't a democracy. It never was. It's always been about making a profit for certain people. Yes, even in the “good old days” because the good old days never existed, my friends. They're just an illusion. There has always been corruption. There has always been discord. There has always been a hierarchy.

We just never noticed before.

And the moral of this story is, every era has it's delights and downfalls and I'm at peace with that. Probably because I choose to be a part of the positive end and not participate in the mass manipulation that has always been a part of our society. Probably because I'm a non-conformist to the max.

My Mom ate banana bruises

She ate apple bruises too. Peach bruises? You betcha. She did it for all of us. And as crazy as it may sound, I'm at peace with it, now that I know why. What the heck am I talking about here? Oh, I mean this quite literally. My Mom ate fruit bruises. She also scraped the mold off of cheese and ate the non-moldy part. Ya, sounds gross, right? But there was a reason for it. There's more that she did that fits this category, but the point is..

I never realized why My Mom ate fruit bruises and the like until just recently. Sure, we were poor you guys. (I never really thought about how poor until just recently either.) That's because my Mom and my Dad made so many sacrifices for us, that we didn't notice.

But it was so much more than that. We were grossed out that my Mom would cut the bruised part of the fruit she gave us off and eat it herself. We thought it was some kind of depression era habit. I guess it was. But what we didn't see is that we got the good part of the fruit. That was the whole point. We couldn't afford to waste food. So, my Mom made sure we had the best part.

What I, personally, never thought about is that the fruit bruises my Mom ate were probably also the only fruit she ever got. She always saved the good stuff for us. She had grown up in the depression. She wasn't as picky as we were. So she would scrape the mold off the cheese and sour cream and eat what was left.

But she would give us the good stuff that hadn't gone moldy. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that she did this with everything.

She was constantly taking Grade B so we could have Grade A. And while my Dad wasn't quite as “gross” as my Mom in this respect, his life was all about us kids too. Every minute of it.

Oh, they both had their hobbies. My Dad liked gardening and woodworking. He grew our food and made a lot of the things we used around the house. He even built us kids a color TV because we wanted one and couldn't afford it. He sent away for a kit and worked on it for months. It wasn't for him. It was for us. And when my Mom took up “crafting” she made things for us. Everything was for us.


All of it was for us. Every mouthful of bruised fruit. She used to say, “I'll take your bruises, Jeannie.” And now that I think about it, she meant that literally. And me, as a kid, the whole time and a little ways into adulthood, I just thought she was kind of gross. Or at least, her habits were. But really, she was just giving me the best in the only way she could.

So now it's my turn to give her my best. And I guess that's true of all people with aging parents. But not all parents eat your bruises for you or scrape the mold off the old sour cream, eat what's left and give you the newer container. Not all parents work as hard as my Dad did and come home and work some more. Not all parents make the sacrifices mine did.

My Dad is gone now, so I can't thank him in person. But I can thank him by calling my Mom more often, writing her the letters she loves to read and maybe sending her a care package here and there. Because that woman ate my banana bruises for me. And he loved her so much, you guys. So much. But that's a story for another day.

Off to call my Mommy. Peace out.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Vegan for the peace of it, inspiration from a veteran soldier

This morning I watched a video of a seasoned vet with a different perspective on going Vegan, due to having witnessed and possibly participated in violence as a career. Now, I'm not the military type. Never have been. Never will be. But for some reason, this gentleman really got through to the core of me with his purpose for going Vegan.

He said, although not in these exact words, that he was sick of death, blood and violence. That he was searching instead for life and rejecting death. And that for him, that sense of inner peace now starts on his plate. He feels better knowing that he is projecting peace with his diet. In other words, it gives him a base of operations for how he lives his life.

You might think it crazy that as a peace sign throwing hippie child, I would find common ground with a former soldier. And that, after so many years struggling to overcome the cheese addiction that was blocking my being altogether vegan, this vet made me feel something that just might be the catalyst for me to “go all the way”

Now, my Vegan friends, don't get all up in arms here. Please. The amount of cheese I consume is minuscule at best. But I do cave occasionally. I've always admitted that I'm not a perfect Vegan. However, the point is that after hearing this gentleman speak of his rejection of death, blood and violence, I truly feel that I'm ready to make that full Vegan transition now.

Which is a good thing, so don't bring me down now, of all times, please.

And you know as well as I do what I'm talking about. There are a lot of angry Vegans out there. And maybe their anger is justified. Certainly it is. They are angry over the death and suffering of other animals at the hands of omnivores, whether directly or indirectly. They tend to be brutally intolerant of those who are not Vegan because of this. Particularly those like myself who should know better.

Their anger is not inspiring to me. But this man, this former harbinger of death, so to speak, who has decided that he is fed up with death and is extremely joyful and happy in his new life as a Vegan, may very well be the catalyst for my own personal change.

I think it has a lot to do with his aura. He's completely at peace with his choice. He feels good about himself for making it. And most of all, he's done with the anger. He's done with the death. He's not spreading his beliefs in a forcible manner. He's spreading them in a peaceful manner. And peace and joy and love, my friends, should be at the core of anyone professing to be Vegan, shouldn't it?

I mean, isn't that what this is all about? The rejection of violence? The joy of living life knowing that your core purpose is to do no harm?

And here is this veteran, telling us all, from the perspective of someone who has had direct involvement in the violence of war, that peace begins on our plates. Here is the most unlikely of people, showing Vegans how to peacefully project their beliefs.

He doesn't judge. He doesn't preach. He's not sarcastic or offensive. He doesn't insult others who consume animal products. He doesn't throw red paint at people. He simply emits peace, love and joy from every core of his being. He's happy with his choice and it shows. Now that's something to aspire to and be inspired by! Vegan for the peace of it. I like it.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Making peace with fences?

In the last couple weeks, I have had the opportunity to watch two kinds of people build fences around their respective homes. On doing so, I made a couple observations that I'd like to share with you. Now, let me be clear, I'm not passing judgment here. And indeed, my own fence building would likely reveal my own “shortcomings” as it were. Although, in my opinion, shortcomings are more of an indication of one's location in their journey, than they are a fault. But that's a story for another time.

So... The most obvious and first observation I made of the two fences, was the way they were facing. The owners of house one, faced their fence with the “good” side toward themselves. While the owners of house two, faced the “good” side toward their neighbors. I found this very revealing of where their sympathies rest and how they view the world.

By facing the good side toward themselves, the first homeowners made it clear that they place themselves first. Especially since the building code states that the “good” side should face their neighbors. They were in such a hurry to put up a barrier from their neighbors that they didn't even bother to check the rules.

Now, I have to be fair, they needed the fence so that their dogs would not jump over the existing chain link fence into their neighbor's yard.

Remember that last bit. You'll see why later.

And.... back to the fence building details. It's also much easier, for construction purpose to face the good side in your own yard. So, this is revealing too. Clearly, doing things the “right” way was an inconvenience for them. Clearly, their time frame was more important to them than being polite. This was also reflected in the fact that they didn't even have the courtesy to wait for the old homeowners to move out before barging in on them to construct their fence. As you may have guessed, I was one of the old homeowners. That's how I know this.

They were in a huge hurry to make the house their own, which frankly, I completely understood. Because while they were putting up their fence, we were patiently and courteously waiting for the former owners of our new house to move on so that we might begin making our new house ours, just as they were making our old home theirs.

Now, the very fact that I highly resented their intrusion, because I was simultaneously being respectful by not intruding on the former owners of our new home is a bit revealing of my own character flaws. In other words, I'm not perfect either.

As you may have noticed, I enjoy studying human behavior, even my own.

Anyway, eventually we left the impatient new homeowners behind and moved on to our new home, where, by coincidence, our new neighbors (previously mentioned as the owners of house two) are also building a fence, also for the purpose of keeping their dog from jumping the existing chain link fence.

But our new neighbors are building their fence very differently.

As I mentioned, first of all, they were facing the good side toward us and their other neighbors. Which, even if it wasn't the law, was very respectful. After all, how likely do you think it is that in a small town with less than 1000 residents, anyone is going to check the fence to see that it faces the right way?

Well. I can tell you that in this particular town, the zoning laws are very loose and there are many, many people who have ignored them for decades anyway. And ironically to my delight, they will likely continue to do so for many years to come. In fact, people here are pretty much free to do things their way as long as no harm comes to others. Hence, the overall charm of this town for me.

Our new neighbors chose to be considerate in their fence construction. They didn't have to. They also didn't have to take the time to tell us that their dogs jump the chain link fence and that's why they're building a fence between us. They especially didn't have to do this on the very first day we moved in, but they did. They also could have banged up their fence rapidly, without care and never spoken to us again, but that's not what they did.

They faced the good side in their neighbor's direction. They took their time building that fence well. And instead of just befriending the one neighbor who took the time to reach out to and assist them, as the first homeowners did, they spoke to all their neighbors before anyone even had time to inquire about what they were doing. The fact that they made the first move combined with the fact that they did the right thing by all their neighbors is impressive in comparison to the other folks, don't you think?

And the thing is, our new neighbors still aren't done with their fence. So when we go outside, we wave at each other. We laugh over the dogs, who still jump the fence occasionally to play with my grand-daughter's dog. And while we're watching them build their fence the right way, the careful way, the courteous way, they're also watching us bring our yard back to life in a similar manner.

It all feels very small town and we're loving it. It's such a contrast to the rush and hurry of city life that we left behind, you know? And there you have the biggest difference in character between the two sets of homeowners. Two very different philosophies in play. First there was the “get it done now, no matter what it takes or who gets in the way and has to be run over” philosophy. Then there is the “take your time, do it right and do it with a smile” philosophy.

Ya, I'm going to like it here. It's my kind of peaceful place.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Peace by force? Not exactly

When we move to the country to find our peaceful place, we'll be getting more peace than we originally bargained for. That's fine by us. In fact, we're looking forward to it. The small town we're moving to isn't as remote as some. There's even internet. Gasp! It's just not the awesome reception we're used to. But, guess what? We've decided that we can live without it anyway.

Sort of.

We'll still have WIFI hot-spots on our phones. So, it's not a total disconnect. And we do have a choice. We could pay for internet there, even though it's not quite what we're used to, here in the city. But why bother when we know we're better off without it? 

And hey, the whole idea of moving to a less populated area is to live a slower, more “old school” life. Without internet, we'll have more time for important things.

So, what exactly will we do, without internet?

We'll sit out on our deck and stargaze because light pollution isn't a thing where we're going. Or we can do that at the astrological society dark site that's just a mile from our house. We might volunteer at the peaceful prairie sanctuary. We'll definitely be gardening. Maybe we'll even take a bike ride on the prairie. You know. Country stuff.

And of course, once a week or so we can “go to town” as they say. Or not. Because we don't really need to. There are plenty of amenities close by. Besides, we'll be busy hanging out with friends and family, playing cards or board games and enjoying our new above ground pool. We have room for a pool table in the basement. Maybe we'll find one for free on Craigslist. It's certainly not unusual.

And yes, maybe all of that sounds a little old fashioned. That's OK. So are we. And let's face it. Who hasn't thought of turning back the clock to simpler times occasionally? Aren't we lucky to actually be able to do it?

But, basically, we'll be more present, to use the current word for it.

Ya, we'll be OK without awesome internet. Meh. Who needs it when we have each other?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Peace Path Revelation - Your life really is other people's business

When you realize there is truth in the title of this post, it's a bit of a tough revelation to swallow. Why is it anyone else's business how you live your life? The answer is both simple and complex. So, to begin with, let's start with a fact we are all familiar with.

We are all connected through our actions and reactions.

No argument there, right? Most of us know that everything we do or say impacts others. Even our beliefs influence our behavior. They prompt us to speak, act and react in a certain way. Therefore, our beliefs also impact other people, especially those closest to us.

Are we in agreement so far?

Good, because here's where it gets interesting.

Because of our connection to everyone and everything in the universe, while we appear to be individuals, our true value and purpose lies in being a functioning part of a greater whole. This revelation can be both liberating and scary.

Relinquishing yourself to the cog in the wheel theory, well, it pretty much goes against everything we've ever been conditioned to believe, doesn't it? I mean, we're all about being who we are, celebrating our individuality, etc. etc.

And yet, gazing at the big picture reveals that every little piece of the natural world, ourselves included, is just another cog in the great wheel of life. We are both insignificant and valuable. Our value lies in the fact that how we live our lives impacts everyone's “success” and not just our own. It has both nothing and everything to do with our independent actions.

Complicated, yes?

Your decisions, thoughts and actions have a huge impact on everyone around you. If you're not pulling the weight of the chain that your particular cog is responsible for pulling, chances are, someone else has to take up the slack in order for the wheel to turn.

On the other hand, if your cog is functioning properly, the wheel turns more smoothly in response. No one else has to pull your weight. 

To take it a step further, if your cog is functioning above and beyond what it takes to turn the wheel, you not only carry your own weight, you ease the burden of others. That is, for people who are not, for whatever reason, performing their own duties.

This group would, of course, include the sick, the elderly and such.

Unfortunately, it also includes people who, for whatever reason, have decided that their life is none of your business, people who, even though they are perfectly capable individuals, refuse to hoist their burden, which forces you to take up the slack, yes?

Feels a little different on the heavy end of the chain, right?

Do you see why everything you say and do is the business of someone else? At the very least, you have to admit that it is the business of the cog closest to you, that is forced to take on your duties. However, in actuality, your life is the business of everyone who is influenced by your thoughts and resultant actions.

Which is literally, everyone!

So, yes, although it's a tough pill to swallow, it really is everyone else's business how you live your life. It's still your prerogative to live life as you choose, of course. Sort of. Just keep in mind that doing so without considering your impact on others will sometimes limit their ability to function properly.

And that's just not very nice, is it?

But there's another silver lining to taking up your own slack. Because guess what? If you're not burdening those other cogs with your duties, they'll likely be able to focus on their own responsibilities instead of worrying about yours. And that means, no one will have to pick up their slack either.

See how that works? We're all in this life together. That makes what everyone does, everyone else's business. We might not like that but it doesn't make it any less true.

So, go ahead, follow your dreams. Just make sure you're not holding others back from doing the same.

Yank your own chain, little cog. That way, no one else has to yank it for you.

#BeLove #BeKind #BeConsiderate

Monday, April 23, 2018

Peaceful, easy country feeling

So many thoughts swirling through my head this morning. All of them, very peaceful. Relocating to a tiny, somewhat antiquated western town on the plains of Colorado next month has a lot to do with it. Very much looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere there. Still, we can all create a zone of peace, no matter where we live.

This morning I'm listening to “my” favorite yard bird, accompanied by the crows of the neighborhood rooster and wondering how much my connection with the universe and the sense of peace I've been experiencing of late have to do with me focusing on moving to the country.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying that I'm particularly special. We're all connected to the universe. Every last one of us, along with every other living being or blade of grass or tree on the planet. We're all a part of nature. We are nature.

Now, let me back-track for a minute to fill you in.

My bird is a black capped chickadee with a unique, two whistle chirp. There was one in my country yard, growing up. There's one in my city yard now. I wonder if there will be one in my new yard, out on the plains. Wouldn't that be awesome?

And yes, we are moving. City home sold. Country home purchased. And while I still love the Denver metro area with all my heart, life out on the plains suits us much better. Truly looking forward to living in a place that lacks tall buildings, light/sound pollution and looking forward to the slow life. Besides, we won't be too far away. It's a commutable distance.

But Oooh and Ahhh to:

Star gazing from our backyard deck. Tilling and planting our own healthy country soil. Being a contributing member of a small community. Long, leisurely bike rides to nowhere in particular with a packed picnic lunch in the bike basket. Sitting by the wood-stove on cold winter nights. Room for extended family and guests on holidays and special occasions. Room to create. Room to breathe. Room to relax.

It's going to be spectacular! But then again, life always is, with the right state of mind. And now, back to today:

I'm sitting in my chair, listening to these two, decidedly different birds serenade me and planning a peaceful country life. How will I fill my rooms and my days? What do I still need to pack? Because I want to be ready to roll when the day comes. Ready to start a new life again. Ready for positive and even negative changes.

Because life is about change, isn't it? Learning new things. Growing. Stretching. Spreading wings to take on fluctuating currents, soft breezes and even an occasional tumultuous, temperamental tornado or two.

I woke up this morning to a new day and a new life, just like I do every day. Trudging the peace path and loving every minute of it. But somehow, today seems more peaceful, knowing a dramatically new beginning is just around the corner. Can't wait!