THE AMAZING HEADER PHOTO IS BY...

...-Wink-...

See the original photo here.
See more of Wink's work here! :)

To The Troops

I support each of you -- as always. Your work -- your sacrifices -- the risks you take -- and what your family and loved ones go through when you are away. I'll never take you for granted and I pray for you every day. You know you make us all proud back here at home! Come back to us soon, safe and sound! :)

And for all the men and women in uniform: cops, troops of course, and those in plain clothes. Together, you are "The Atlas" of the world, and it is for you that the world is a better place. Stay safe!


About Me

My Photo
Key West, FL, United States
I find that life is both mystifying and magical. Something is always casting a new perspective on things, in amusing and astonishing ways. These perplexities confound and amaze me, and make me eager for each new day. And sometimes, they just confound and confuse me, but we all have those days! :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fairness

If you look up the word "Fair", you may shocked at the possible meanings -- anything from appearance being attractive, to things improving, to things being good, to --- what? -- things appearing good, but being false! *

* Definition Of Fairness at Encarta

I'm coming to find that things can have a lot of different meanings -- if you let others decide for you what that is, it can be all kinds of confusing. You can quite literally chase your tail trying to figure out what to do based on what others seem to want you to do.

But perhaps the truest meaning of something is what you decide it has for yourself.

Maybe we need to stop asking "Is it fair" and start asking "What's it worth" "What can I learn" "What is the importance to me..."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

When The Circus Comes To Town...

...it's a spectacle. We line up to see the strange events of dancing dogs, elephants that do tricks and lions that perform strange unnatural acts, where they are dominated, rather the dominant.

And of course, in amongst the thrilling stomach churning rides, and questionable games of chance, there are fortune tellers, strong men, aerial performers, tall men on stilts, women with beards, people who are too fat or too thin, or shorter than average. Often categorized as "Carnies" -- even by themselves, as if it was a special title conferred by The Maker.

Maybe the rest of us feel awed, nervous or unnerved by the different types of people we see working at the circus. Their casualness about such a transitory life, moving from place to place, being "different" from the rest of "us", and -- being happy? When they are so obviously "outsiders"?

So, have you ever asked yourself, "How does The Carnie SEE ME?" Is my life a circus to him or her? Am IIIIII the freak?

And it makes you wonder "What the heck does normal mean anyhow?"

You see, when you get enough of a certain type of people together that act and think in a fairly similar way, you get a tribe. That means that there begins to be a "typical form of behavior, a typical mode and manner, a typical rank structure, a typical way of thinking and being and acting".

The tribe confers benefits. It gives a sense of belonging in a place that can be a cold, empty, chaotic, neutral and even destructive world -- it gives a type of order that works for that group and its members -- and it creates rules and structure (i.e., organization, hierarchy, etc).

I think in this time, there are many different types of tribes -- possibly more than in any other time in history. There are online gamers tribes, corporate tribes, Wall Street tribes, medical tribes, warrior tribes, political tribes, sex (female, male, transgender, same-sex) tribes, religious tribes, charity tribes, entrepreneur tribes, online community tribes, and I could go on probably for pages, like water color painter tribes, acrylic painter tribes, mom tribes, dad tribes, writers, travelers... And, within THOSE main types of tribes, are smaller tribes, right down to mini-tribes.

OTHER ways or tribes may threaten your tribe -- or seem to -- but here's an idea. Enjoy all the benefits of belonging to your tribe -- not only is becoming part of a tribe hard, usually requiring rituals, practices, proofs, etc.... BUT -- it means people are on your side once you're a member and will back you, assist or further your reach if you can't be somewhere, as they stand in for you, speak for you, or just look out for you and your tribe and report on any threats or opportunities.

BUT -- look for ways to enrich your tribe. In the old days, tribes inter-married, strengthening bonds. They exchanged sons and trained the son in their tribe's ways before sending him back, creating a god-son bond between the two tribes. They acknowledged each tribe was different and each had different strengths and different weaknesses.

And look at things that other tribes do that you don't understand, not as wrong or bad, but as different. Why the heck do they do that? What do they get out of it? How do they make it work? When, where or how could this be made to work for YOU and YOUR tribe? Who should you talk to about this? And do you have to "squish it" or "skew" it to make it fit and work for you all?

You could call this strategy -- you could call this good planning or good resource management -- I call it diversification of knowledge and gathering of assets. The more you know, the more you and your tribe knows how to do, and even the more you understand about other tribes, and being able to establish when or if things would be a positive, a detriment, or a true threat, is of great value to your tribe.

It is not so much US-VS-THEM necessarily. It is not what is normal, because if it's normal in someone else's tribe, it won't matter what you think about them. To them, you are the one who won't be normal. It's what you can learn from each other, if you will or get the opportunity. This is a gift each tribe can give to each other tribe.

And maybe, it is good to remember, we are not so different from our ancestors -- the tribes in Arizona deserts or Siberian wastelands or bogs in the UK. We may live in glass and steel "tents", brick "caves" or wooden "huts", but humanity still gathers in small groups of similar interests and needs. We still ally ourselves with those who have common interests or enemies. And will likely continue to do so well into the future.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Exotic & Wild

My mum went to Mexico when I was a kid. And when she came back, it opened my eyes to other realms that I think fueled my interests in creating other worlds in fiction to this day.

She brought back:

(a) a gorgeous red and green skirt made from green satin and a red felt, with shining silver, red and green sequins and beads, shaped into the form of an eagle
(b) crummy photos taken out of dirty windows of a Cessna airplane she had traveled in to get to more remote areas where she went exploring
(c) shocking images of statues that were bizarre, even some that were grotesque, along with lurid and bloody tales of what happened there in the form of human sacrifices -- i.e., supposedly one of the statues of a reclining god that had a hole in its stomach. the sacrificial victim's head was inserted in the hole and cut off.

There were slides of pyramids, walls with carvings in turquoise, jade and lapis, terra cotta tiles, rough floors, and all showing up large and lifelike for a three year old, on the huge old fashioned reflective fabric screen.

And then, there was "Montezuma's Revenge" -- apparently, my mum learned first hand not to drink the water or to eat the salsas and chips put out on the table of the cheap restaurants where she ate.

She also told me about the "mansion" where she stayed at one of my grandma's friends in Mexico City -- apparently made of pink marble, with glass topped stone or adobe walls, a huge sweeping wrought iron sided staircase, it sounded more like a PALACE than a mere mansion, like I had seen in Hope Ranch before. The lady who lived there had closets of clothes, multiple entire outfits for every occasion for every day.

And she told me about slums, where people lived in garbage dumps in cardboard houses, like I played in out in the back yard. One summer, me and my little friends went garbage jumping on a daily basis, diving into dumpsters at the apartment complex to see what kind of stuff might be in there. naturally, when my mom found out, she put a stop to it -- but that was for discovery and exploration -- to live in the equivalent of a garbage dump? My tiny mind recoiled.

I think my mind expanded the size of several universes living vicariously through the experiences she brought back from her discoveries -- her health issues (she was put on medicine for weeks, more than a month to recover, because she couldn't retain ANY food and was losing a dangerous amount of weight).

I started building questions --

How could there be a palace, like in a Disney book -- and a slum -- in the same place?

How could a people who literally festooned every wall with amazing art, who had such amazing skills -- how could they make blood sacrifices? Of PEOPLE, maybe a friend, or neighbor, or little kid? How did they choose???

What else was out there?

It also made me aware of something else -- that THOSE people, the sacrificers -- lived in A TIME AND PLACE -- and went away.

And I somehow became aware ME AND THOSE AROUND ME IN THIS TIME AND PLACE -- have a lot to offer. Will we leave reminders of violence -- terrible sacrifices -- unreasonable superstitions -- and garbage dump slums and illness -- or will we bring healing -- cleanliness -- and appreciation for the individual and his or her contributions?

How do you want this time to be remembered? How can we make that happen? :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mobile Fun

In life, we are often reminded to bring our work with us.

Briefcase -- important documents -- tools, etc.

But when was the last time you were reminded to bring "mobile fun"?

I.e., deck of cards -- dice -- a notepad and pen for a last-minute game of pictionary -- the rules for charades -- a notepad for designing your dream room, making a list or plan for some project, or even to write a good old timey letter to a loved one -- even a role-playing book (some can be down-loaded online) and special dice (can be bought online) -- and you can play fantasy characters with pals. And always, we might be able to scare up a book or a ball, even it's just a handball or a hackysack. You could even just take a walk with a friend.

So often, we omit pleasure -- not intentionally. Just because we don't put it on our "List Of To Dos". WE are the most important TO DO.

Why do we need fun?

* To enjoy our pals
* To get our mind off things
* To take a break from work -- a real break, where we stop dealing with work/talking about work and STEP AWAY FROM THE "DESK"!
* For fun!
* To make new friends
* To stay active, mentally, emotionally and/or physically
* To save money on things that don't bring lasting pleasure (i.e., beer, fast food, nasty gossip)
* Taking a break lets the subconscious work on problems, facilitating problem-solving and trouble-shooting

This mental break is a refresher and helps maintain a convivial air with those you deal with on a regular business. And, most essentially, it reminds you that "You're #1" -- you may not always be able to put yourself (needs and wants) first, but you must still make yourself a priority, and downtime is one of those priorities.

And did I mention -- recreation is a major stress-buster? :)

Hugs and Kisses,
Love,
Ria

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Your Easter Basket

Regardless of what religion you do or don't practice, I recommend you give yourself the treat of an Easter Basket. Typically, we associate Easter with children and candy eggs. I'm saying, as an adult, not go back to one of its more ancient traditions -- that of rebirth.

So what would you give yourself in your Easter Basket that would help you in your path to a personal rebirth?

For me, there's just a few things.

* Not doing too much. I have a hard time keeping still. I feel I must fill every minute with something. So I end up with too much paper. Which brings me to my next point...

* Getting rid of so much paper. Choosing what's valuable to me -- paper -- or experiences.

* Getting rid of debt.

* But not at the expense of my hopes and dreams, which I will retain no matter what others think.

* Not letting others influence me too much.

* Learning to make decisions -- and standing by them, even if they are hard to maintain.

* Exploring non-expensive options for having fun.

* And most important, that I'm going to enjoy NOW, NOW. Not look into the future at the expense of now -- not hold onto the past at the expense of now.

* And, as a bonus to myself and those I care about -- to wipe the slate clean of all past mistakes. And enjoy them -- and myself -- warts and all. We none of us are perfect and sometimes it's better to spring clean envy -- frustration -- anger -- and other negative emotions, and move past the situations that brought out the worst in each other, and enjoy what your first noticed about those you care about and want to continue to have in your life.

So as I said before -- take a moment. What precious gifts would you give yourself? These are the kinds of things that may seem simple or silly -- but that might actually make you silly-happy.

And everyone deserves to be happy. :) Wherever you are, spring has sprung -- and instead of just worrying about getting rid of the old or the bad, focus a bit on making your life better -- you're worth it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Miracles

So many times, we pray for -- yearn for -- and beg for some huge miracle to come into our world and set things right. Something that will "rock our world" and clear all the chaos away, the pain, the confusion, the despair.

And also so often, we ignore the quiet miracles, the ones that pass without so much as a whisper or a shadow. A smile. A hand held out. A star held up in the sky by an "invisible hand" just for us the make a wish.

A miracle is something we need to give and a miracle is something we need to receive -- to live a blessed life, whatever your religion is or not. We need to be open enough to the experience. Without being taken advantage of by someone with less integrity who would manipulate and take advantage of hope and trust, and without giving too much and sacrificing yourself unnecessarily. A miracle is a blessing, that keeps the energy around you -- or turns it -- into something positive.

I call these "The Daily Miracles". The ones that are there for us or offered by any of us. This is significant. It means OUR actions are the ones that fill the world with miracles -- we are the ones who can make the most difference for one another.

And this is how we create a state of grace, a "Shangri-La" in the tumult and discord that tries us all. It is our ability to focus not on the shadows, but on the sun, the healing rain, the new growth and our friends, family and comrades that keeps us going. It is hope, plans for a vibrant future, and sometimes just knowing you'll have a blanket and pillow to sleep on.

A miracle. It can be the simplest of things. A 5 year old's pink barrette. A grandma's book of secret recipes. A loving couple's silliness as they race down the beach. Possibilty, promise, whatever you need or want -- it may not come when you want it, but it will always be there some time. Like a candle in the window on a cold winter's night, keeping the dark at bay...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Door To The Soul

I was thinking yesterday about self-respect. How some people seemed to have more and some people seemed to have less.

And I looked across the street at an abandoned building and saw that it had a very narrow door, that looked shorter than an average doorway.

And I've seen double doors, that were five times the size in comparison -- or simple wood doors that were regular-sized -- and regular sized doors that had stained glass windows or diamond panes of clear glass with lace -- or even perhaps to compensate for a more "normal" size and a sense of inadequacy, doors that have glass windows extending their size on one or both sides. I've even seen a door that was pudgy, arched at the top and seemed to be something behind which a troll would live.

And I started thinking that maybe each of us could be compared to a door in that way. The Egyptians had the concept of "Ka", a dead soul, that was weighed and put into a statue.

What kind of door would your soul need to pass through to match its size and consistency? Big, fat, skinny, short -- and I would argue this would indicate a lot about what your self-respect size is, or how much self-respect you have. If you see yourself passing through a tiny mousehole, you may have very little self-respect. If you see yourself coming in through the door of an airplane hangar, well your sense of self-esteem would be noteworthy indeed!

I think most of us are somewhere in the middle. Somedays we are more self-conscious, more apt to give-in, go with the group, ape our betters -- or those we'd die to have accept us, to finally "belong". (Sometimes, at the cost of self-respect, when our "doorway" would be smaller and smaller if we sacrificed who we were to fit in). And other days, we are somehow more self-aware, stand taller, are stout about the price to our soul of doing certain things to fit in would actually cost us a good deal of self-respect.

Sadly, wisdom is won, not gained. Meaning, usually you need to touch the hot burner on the stove, put the coin in the electrical socket, or lick the battery end to believe that you "should not do that". No one can impart wisdom -- or I think maybe mankind would be leaps and bounds ahead. But perhaps not. Perhaps it is the patterns of humanity that elevate us -- we have a common germ, a common learning ground that unites us all.

What this means though, is that within each of us, although we all end up making the same mistakes as the rest of humankind -- there is an individual in each of us who learns -- often all too painfully -- what not to do, the hard way -- and learns to solve problems their own way.

This is then when we start determining what size of door we want for our soul -- we don't wait to die and be measured, we start taking steps to create the openings we need. And maybe, like croquet, we have a lot of doors, for different stages of our lives. Or just one or two.

This is then I think all that can be said about self-respect. It can masquerade as ego. It can be a whisper and not a shout, in the absence of ego. But at the center of it all, is the core of your being. And you need to treat that right. At least as good as you would your car, motorbike or PC avatar! :) And hopefully more.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Magic

I said yesterday, in a funk, that "Magic didn't exist."

When, actually, I usually believe the OPPOSITE!

And then, as I was dropping off to sleep last night, I thought to myself, "Magic does exist. It may just not show up how we think -- expect -- or want. NOTHING IS FINITE."

When you get lost in the doldrums, as it is sometimes all too easy to do, remember that.

Here is the definition of Finite from MSN Dictionary*:

finite (adj)

Synonyms: limited, determinate, fixed, predetermined, restricted, set, predictable

*http://encarta.msn.com/thesaurus_561573649/finite.html

So nothing is:
limited, determinate, fixed, predetermined, restricted, set, predictable...

Embrace life -- and yourself, plodding, faltering, tripping, spinning, spasming or waffling -- and remember we only get to go 'round like this once.

There may be other ways, some other time, better things, but right now, this is who we are, what we are, how we are... Sometimes we can do no better, because we don't know what better is.

That's OK. Why? Because the adventure is the journey. The GRAIL is you.

You are not finite...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Predator vs. Prey

Life all boils down to this.

Fact.

Or -- question.

Life always boils down to this?

Not everyone is your enemy.

Not everyone is your friend.

And that doesn't make you enemies.

Fact.