Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Am Grateful For Childhood Teachers

I have always been a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. I also love Eckhart Tolle, so you can imagine when you put both of their concepts together you come up with an awesome poem!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Am Grateful For the Energy of Attraction

I have not yet written out the story (read: epic tale) of how the evil overlords (read: HOA) of our condos plan to poison my building in the (self)interest of ousting a bunch of termites at the cost of everyone's health. To them I say: In case you hadn't noticed, this is SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ladies. Termites are a given (or so I've read/heard/experienced). You may win the battle, but you will never win the war. Best you can do is keep giving them stuff to eat outside, so live cleanly and we can all prosper.

Regardless... The Sheeple are determined to poison my home so I am packing my shit to move out for two to five days. What a colossal waste of time, but grudgingly I admit at the same time it's not a waste at all. It is an opportunity to purge and pass on the outmoded, outdated, OMG-I-didn't-realize-I-still-had-that items in my life and I should be grateful. And I would be, if there were no poison involved. Of course, if there were no poison, I would not be packing, therefore I would be playing the procrastination game just like any other day. Sometimes it sucks to be aware of your own faults.

As there are always reasons to be grateful tho, I can tell you that I am grateful to not have a job at this particular moment because it means I can pack (sort of) at my leisure. In theory, this would mean I started packing two months ago when I was first informed of this potential health hazard. In reality, it means I've once again waited until I'm up against the clock (even after getting it postponed for a month!) and I'm now going through stuff to get the most important or what will be most affected out by next weekend. Thank goodness for the last minute or nothing would ever get done around here.

Today I decided to pack my books because they're easy, which is always appealing to the eternal procrastinator. I have a few antique volumes I've gathered from various places, and this particular one that inspired me to stop and post here was Harper's Fourth Reader, copyright 1888. I've never actually read this book - received it as a gift for helping with an estate sale - but thumbing through it just now I found it is, ironically, a type of textbook published for use in a classroom back in the day when Bonsall's schoolhouse was new and shiny, and women as old as I am were spinsters with little hope of marrying before they dropped dead. I mean seriously... 42 years old and no husband? Holy crap, you must be ugly or a shrew, and aren't you even lucky to still wake up on the top side of the grass at that age?! Good luck with that.

Anyway, I thought it was amusing that after spending all that time working at Pearson putting out today's college textbooks (which contained info I learned in high school - what's up with that? Dumb it down much?), two of the volumes that snuck into my library through no effort of my own were 123-year-old textbooks themselves (I have Harper's Third Reader as well, also copyright 1888). How can people disbelieve the energy of attraction with such glaring examples?

Other things I found amusing about these books... there is a Publisher's Note in the front of each book. For one thing, I consider myself in possession of a pretty decent vocabulary, but I actually had to look up two words because I didn't know their definitions, so apparently the Readers are still good at teaching people to read a century later. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

Also, I love "antique marketing"... in an attempt to convince teachers (or so it seems) that the new Readers are the best ever, they say, "They have been prepared with special reference to the practical work of the school-room. These pages are not encumbered with useless matter." Well thank goodness for that because I'm not so sure today's textbooks can say the same. Seriously.

Another good chuckle: "...It is desirable, rather, to improve the child's intellectual capacity by giving him lessons a little in advance of his present attainments, than to stultify his understanding and insult his intelligence by a strained effort to make every exercise appear child-like and easy."

Sure wish THAT was still the policy in schools these days!

stultify |ˈstəltəˌfī|verb ( stultifies, stultifying, stultified withobj. ](usu. as adj. stultifyingcause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, esp. as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine

Apparently, "lessons inculcating moral truths are of frequent occurrence. These lessons are such as will appeal at once to the child's better nature and strengthen his love for right-doing. Lessons intended to cultivate an appreciation of the wonderful and the beautiful in nature, and to introduce the pupil to a knowledge of the achievements of science and art, are given due prominence."

Would that today's learning materials inculcated more moral truths, a love for right-doing, and an appreciation for nature! Perhaps we wouldn't be destroying the planet as fast as we are.

inculcate |inˈkəlˌkātˈinkəl-|verb [ with obj. ]instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction
Last, the best part... the publisher actually thanks the editor, a couple instrumental people, and the teachers that contributed for pulling the book together, not the other way around.

My how times have changed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Am Grateful For People Like Frank Sinatra

There aren't too many articles I read that pull emotions from that deep place where such things hide, but this one did. I am already a Sinatra fan as it is, but this... wow. Loyalty like that is a rare find anymore.

I couldn't have written the story better myself so you'll just have to read it on CNN. I wish there were more people like Frank and Sal in the world today. Seems they are an endangered species.

What a PERFECT way to put it too...

Frank Sinatra's Lesson in Loyalty
Some people are so big during their lives, even death doesn't seem to entirely take them away.

THAT is the kind of immortal I want to be!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

I Am Grateful for Rockin' Awareness

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I was sitting on the patio tonight looking around and thinking (yes, I do that - sit there and think or daydream without moving for hours - been that way since I was a child) when I noticed that my roommate had stacked up a few pieces of rock and debris into a mini cairn under the oleanders. While my philosophical side (Right Brain) was being impressed with his creativity and thinking what a cool idea that was, my logical side (Left Brain) went straight to my Ego to collaborate. They whispered in a remote corner of my mind...

Left Brain: Hey, did you see what Roommate did? How cool of him.

Ego: We can do it bigger and better, but we need Right Brain to make it look all creative. Don't tell Right Brain what we're up to.

Left Brain: Ok.  Wait... what? What are we up to? (Trails after Ego...)

Oh brother.

Left Brain and Ego then go to Right Brain and say, "C'mon... let's build one too! Let's be creative and make it look all zen back here on the patio!" Right Brain was all, "OK!!" and fell right into it.

I have plenty of river rock that lines a small pathway between my patio and the green common area behind my condo (thanks to Boyfriend and same said Roommate). I immediately jumped over there, picked out a few rocks and proceeded to stack them up under the oleanders to the right of Roommate's little pile. Sitting back in my chair, Right Brain was all kinds of happy. "Look what we did! Yay! Rocks are cool! That was fun!" Left Brain and Ego were over in the frontal lobe stirring up trouble tho...

Left Brain: 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6 rocks. (Then in the Count's voice from Sesame Street, "Ahh ahh ahh ahhhhhh...")

Ego: Ha! It's more rocks than Roommate put together! We win! We have a taller cairn! Wait, is it called a cairn?

Left Brain: I dunno. Let's go look it up on the computer. (Which we did. Yes, it is called a cairn, but I could've sworn there was some other zennish Tibetan word for this kind of thing. If there is, I couldn't find it. Oh well.)

Ego (back on the patio admiring our handiwork): Awesome! Geez, when is Roommate gonna be home so we can show him we outdid him? Silly surfers.

Left Brain: Six rocks... hmmm... I'll bet we could get one more on there.

Ego: Yeah! Yeah! Let's put one more! Then it will be EVEN BIGGER!

Right Brain leans in: Six is good, but seven is better because it's a cooler number overall plus then you have one rock for each direction; north, south, east, west, above, below, and within.

Left Brain: Fine. Get one more.

We get one more and manage after a couple attempts to balance it on top.

Ego: WOO HOO! We now have seven! No one can beat us! We are the best rock pilers ever!

Right Brain: Uhh, guys? Does the pile look a little... I dunno... too orderly or something?

Ego: What? NO! It's awesome! Shut your synapse over there!

Left Brain: Of course it's orderly. All the rocks are nice and uniform and most are flat so easily stacked...

Right Brain: Yeah, exactly. It was EASY. Took like ten minutes tops. That means it was just winning a stupid contest (a non-existent one at that)... what did we learn from the experience? Nothing. Aren't we a little more creative than that? Shouldn't this inspire more thought? Reflection? Something? There is more to this than just putting one rock on top of the other.

Ego: Shut up Right Brain! You don't know what you're talking about. This rock pile is an indication of how amazingly spiritual we are and it's BIGGER than Roommate's. That's all that counts. Wait until he sees.

Right Brain: Yeah, I dunno. I just think it's not very CREATIVE. I mean it's really rather BORING and predictable all stacked with the biggest on the bottom and the smallest on the top - is that an indication of who we are? Boring and predictable? Gods, I hope not. Ours looks like a child did it.

Ego: Does NOT!

Right Brain: (Glances over at Roommate's cairn.) Yeah, ours may be bigger, but his is definitely better because it's creative. It was inspired. You know how he is... he sits out here thinking just like we do. He was probably out here looking around and got inspired. Look at it... his has different materials (not just the river rock) and they're all different shapes and sizes and stuff. Definitely better than ours, even if it is smaller. It's more thought-full. More is not always better.

Ego: Yes it is.

Left Brain (looking disdainfully at Ego): True, Right Brain. I hadn't thought of that. I do like that ours is logical and uniform but it's not nearly as creative as Roommate's - ours is definitely boring. Perhaps we should spice it up a bit.

Ego: Gods, you can be a drag Right Brain.

Right Brain goes and picks out other, differently-shaped rocks from the pathway and tries to balance them. It's much harder and takes a lot longer. Right Brain then tries using a twig in the stack, tumbling the whole thing many, many times over.

Ego: This SUCKS now. Thanks Right Brain.

Right Brain: Does not suck! It's supposed to be meditative! Shut up while I keep trying to balance this!

Ego: YOU shut up. I'm off to pout.

Left Brain: Here... try it this way... no that way... crap. Try this... no, that... ok, do this again... crap. An engineer would probably have this figured out in 10 seconds. Gods. Let's give up.

Right Brain: No! I'm having fun here. If it's not seven rocks tall it's not the end of the world.

Left Brain: But you HAVE to use all seven rocks because seven is a cool number and we already HAVE seven rocks!

Right Brain: I don't HAVE to do anything. We'll see what comes out.

Silence for a good 20 minutes.

Ego leans in: Are you all ZEN now, idiot?

Right and Left Brain: SHHHHHH!!!

 Many, many failed attempts later...

Right Brain: Ok, I think there was probably nothing wrong with the original orderly pile. Maybe that IS just who we are deep down. I dunno. I'm okay with it being orderly but maybe we can put the twig on top like some kind of antennae. Yeah, that's it. It's a Snail Control Tower instructing all the snails in the bushes who can go on which slime trail so there are no accidents.

Ego: You are RETARDED.

Left Brain: Okay, we'll do the orderly pile but we still have these other few rocks left over and of course we can't just throw them back because we already picked them up for a purpose.

Right Brain: Ok, we'll build a second cairn next to Roommate's and leave the first orderly Snail Control Tower pile over here. That way they're all used AND we get to show two different sides of us.

Left Brain: I'm good with that.

Right Brain: I don't remember playing like this since we were really little. This is kinda cool. Who knew rocks were so fun! I'll bet if you post this on the blog people will think it might be time to look into a good asylum for us.

Left Brain: Ha! Could be.

We build another cairn next to Roommate's with the remaining rocks, plus we add in a piece of bark that we had tried to use to rebuild the Snail Tower.

Right Brain: That one is awesome too! And it doesn't look nearly as boring as the Snail Control Tower. It's about the same height as Roommate's too. Yay for unity and like minds!

Left Brain: Yeah, that's pretty cool. Can we sit and think again now?

Right Brain: Ok, I'm just going to admire the handiwork close up for one more minute.

Ego (sneaking back in): You know, there's a couple chips of concrete laying there. That would be a third material. Might add something cool.

Right Brain: Don't fix what ain't broke.

Ego: I'm not trying to fix anything! Just think it would be cool on top. They're different sizes and shapes and stuff.

Right Brain: Ok fine.

Ego: (Smug grin)

Right Brain: There. Two concrete chips on top. Now it's done.

We sit back down on the chair.

Ego: HA. The "creative" one is two concrete chips taller than Roommate's.

Right AND Left Brain: SHUT UP EGO.

~~~~~~~ <3 <3 <3 ~~~~~~~

If you want to see a true master of rock stacking, check out Jim Needham from Carmel, CA. :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I Am Grateful for An Abundance of Thoughts

I've been trying to decide on one idea to focus on for a book proposal, but settling on one subject seems an almost impossible task. There are SOOOOO many thoughts that run around my head, it's like the proverbial herding of cats. Mental Cat Herder... that's my next job title, I swear. In fact, I might just go order business cards from Vista Print with that on it right n...

...crap! One thing at a time! Must focus on blog writing!!!

This is also why I haven't been posting many blogs lately... there is simply SO MUCH I want to post I have three thoughts about other things I want to share while I'm working on posting the first one. (You have no idea how many partial blogs I have saved that I haven't posted.) Blog posts sometimes honestly take me hours to write, short as they seem, because I am too much for editing and re-editing, and not enough for just GET IT OUT THERE.

I would like to accept *what is* more often and worry less about how it comes across to others.

I know I cannot please everyone all the time, even tho I have apparently made it my life's mission to try. I believe my obsessiveness when it comes to expressing myself clearly is born of a lack of adults' understanding when I would try to communicate as a child. Looking back, I see where I would often try to relate to adults on their level, but because I was a child they weren't expecting that (or didn't take me seriously, which I assure you I very much was a serious kid), therefore they would misunderstand, hence I rarely got the results I was after. But that's just one of my charming neuroses readers probably need not concern themselves with. Like how I combine eight ideas in one sentence through the abuse of parentheses and too many commas.

So about that book proposal (SEE?! HERDING CATS!!)... I try to placate myself by thinking, "Well, it's not like you'll only have the chance to write ONE book." I would hope anyway. Although if you're trying to gain a certain target market, writing about nine different non-related subjects from separate corners of the Universe is probably not the ideal way. Unless you're doing memoirs (which is perhaps the answer for me).

Not to be conceited, but I think my writing is pretty well done and the idea has been confirmed by others, so if I DO get a book deal then look out Best Seller List (and my apologies in advance to my future editor... and her shrink) and if I don't, well, I'll just have to learn how to make more noise about it and keep writing until something sticks I suppose. As I said, it's not like I lack for subjects - well, technically I do lack subjects, but only as a noun, which is why I'm not famous yet. Oh geez, now I'm making bad grammar jokes and it's only 11:30pm.

Moving on...

Tonight, a friend posted this article on her Facebook about Crowdsourcing and the graphic design industry. Having worn the graphic designer hat in the past, of course I was interested and of course I had an opinion, which I posted in a comment on Facebook after much careful thought and editing and re-editing to make sure I was understood by the adults. Which I then felt I wasn't, so I had to post again. Oh well. (More *what is*... more *what is*... serenity now...)

The good thing about the second comment though was that it forced me to reorganize my thoughts and more stuff came out of my head. Interesting stuff, even to me. In fact, it may have even given me an inkling of something that MIGHT turn out to be a life's passion as well as focus for a book, but I'm not putting too much light on it yet for fear of chasing it away. Some things are better to let come to you in their own time. I've spent 42 years trying to figure out something I might be passionate about, but so far nothing has moved me for long. Plenty of things I'm interested in, but nothing I can really say I have a true passion for. If this turns out to be something long-winded (as most of my writing is), I certainly don't want to kill it with premature zealousness. (That is so a word. Look it up.)

When I read the Crowdsourcing article, my thought was that I agreed with the author's assessment that crowdsourcing as a business practice creates a decline in the quality of design and allows an opening for cheap, unskilled labor to take over yet another industry. This is a wee bit ironic since altho I am not cheap (and will not participate in crowdsourcing), I would probably be grouped in with the people the designers are complaining about because I didn't go to design school, yet I can and have made designs and logos just as well as anyone else because I've picked up some skill and understood the principles along the way. Oops.

The deeper thing I was thinking though, is that crowdsourcing is not a real problem in itself. It is a symptom of a much larger problem - the collapse of American society. Here is the answer I posted... I know it's a bit out of context, but in the interest of GETTING IT OUT THERE and not overediting, I'm just going to post it as is.

Oh I agree! I do graphic design too and the prices people want to pay - it's stupid. In fact, I've pretty much given up finding another "normal" job at this point and have decided I will either have to find a new career or find a new lifestyle.

I didn't express myself very well before... I don't see the crowd/cloud thing as the problem. I see that as just another symptom. The problem is corporations always wanting to improve profits because they're not in the business of helping humans find love/happiness, they're in the business of making money (which is an *illusion* humans subscribe to - that money will make them happy :). Just like everything else, companies don't care where the designs come from or the quality of them, they just want to improve shareholders' dividends every quarter, so if the market is such that they can't sell enough to improve profits, they cry about inflation and start cutting costs. Employees just bend over and take it because what are you gonna do? You're already addicted to your lifestyle and that lifestyle costs a certain amount. Are you going to give up your job and risk losing your house or not feeding your kids? Not likely. Even if you (or even a group of you) quit on principle, there's 20 more people out there to take your place before you can pack your things, so the companies still win - they don't even feel the wind from the door hitting you in the @$$ as you leave.

You can apply this to ANY industry or product. (Ikea for furniture, any brand name label for clothes, Walmart for general items...) Nothing is a problem until it's the boss' problem, which means nothing will get fixed until Big Business feels the effect of no longer having an unending supply of humans to exploit. The last time Americans tried to say hey, we want better compensation, Big Business (read: Our Lovely Former Bush Administration) just said "No problem, we'll just get cheaper people in India and China. Let us know how that better compensation works out for ya America." And the human race just keeps cranking out more bodies to saturate the market and work for less money, so I don't see how anything is going to correct itself until the supply no longer meets the demand and the pendulum heads back the other way. Eventually it will happen, and honestly it makes me afraid to think of HOW that might happen but worrying about that too long will drive you insane.

Unless the people pull together and take a stand as a larger entity than Big Business, we'll just keep heading towards the cliff until we're over the edge. The neat trick Big Business has pulled is that they've programmed us to think it's an impossible task to motivate enough people for a mutiny. But organizing something like that only appears overwhelming because when we think in terms of "one person" we're thinking of each of our individual selves. If you think of "one person" as the human race in general, it's really just a change of mind. Group mind, mind you, but still one mind.

Apply the 100th Monkey Theory and suddenly Group Mind doesn't seem that terribly hard to access. Except it still kind of is because of the rate of growth of the human population… you're chasing a runaway train. But that's a whole other story and now what I really really really want to thank you for is the catalyst you gave me to write all that because I believe I have the basis for my book proposal that I've been looking for - or at least a good start. :)


My friend said I was awesome too and went back to discussing crowdsourcing as the root of the problem. I guess it IS the root of HER current problem as an individual, but this just totally illustrates my point... everyone is so focused on being their individual selves and figuring out how to solve their own individual problems that they forget the power they have to change as a larger entity, be that a small community, or a large company, or the entire globe.

What I failed to do right there in that entirely too-long dissertation on the troubles of the capitalistic world was instill in her the idea that she is not just one lonely raindrop adrift on the ocean... she is part of that ocean. She may not be able to change the tides as one lonely raindrop, but certainly if enough raindrops get together the wave will have an effect. I believe the popular description of this theory is:

Think globally, act locally.

or to relate it more closely to the individual:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

That kind of thing. The choices each of us makes in our individual lives EVERY DAY... from where we live to how we live to what we say and especially what we spend our money on... affects the Whole. No one is exempt. We pay these ideas plenty of lip service, but how many of us actually make the effort to walk our talk? (And don't think I'm ignoring the three fingers pointing back at me when I say that.)

If we shift our minds to focus on the Higher Good of the Whole in all our decisions, then the lot of the individuals improves exponentially.

I don't know where this is coming from as I'm usually a details person, not so much about the Big Picture, but there it is... I'm GETTING IT OUT THERE.

Now who do I talk to in order to get paid to do this every day?

(And by the way, if there are grammatical or other errors in here, deal with it because I'm not going back to edit it again or I'll be here ANOTHER two hours!)

There. I am taking the Johnny Depp approach to my work! (He never goes to see his own movies after they're done.)

(Damn... this is hard!)

Friday, June 03, 2011

I Am Grateful to Be an Angel

Women are Angels. And when someone breaks our wings, we continue to fly... on broomsticks. We're flexible like that. (Jackie Hines)

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Am Grateful For So Many Choices

Jason Mraz posted today to promote help for organizations who are trying to end the underground slave trade that still survives in our society. I was going to just make a short comment on his blog post as I usually do, but I ended up writing so much I figured I'd post it here instead for anyone caring to read all that verbage. I don't like to fill up his comments with really long dissertations of my thoughts.

So the original post he made is HERE.

I put the first two paragraphs below in his comments, with a link back to here in case some wanted to read ALL my thoughts. I guess if you're not a fan of Mraz's blog, it's best to read his post before reading the rest of mine so you're not lost!

My complete reply is:

I agree with you, Jason, that education is so important - through education the slave trade will end itself. I believe it's better to get at the root of the problem to stop the growth, rather than simply alleviate the symptoms.

I am grateful for people who have the resources to do both - support education, AND support those willing to reach into the fire to extract the souls that may truly desire change - those that request help in switching directions on the path they're walking and then follow through. Thank you for being you and for using your voice wisely. :)

I know this will probably not be a popular opinion, but the girls that were "rescued" had a choice in the beginning to walk away from anything the pimps may have offered them. Why didn't they? I don't believe anyone enslaves anyone else. I believe people allow themselves to be enslaved, and then get in so deep they need help to get back out. It's like falling in a hole.

After reading/watching/hearing so much research on why people make "bad" choices, I have formed an opinion that perhaps it's a reaction to fear. Fear of lack, fear of non-survival, fear of non-acceptance from society. Except what our society doesn't really teach us in school is that we are not the ONLY society on this planet - our money-based lifestyle is not the only way to survive, and indeed is not even necessarily the "best" way (if there is one). There are plenty of indigenous cultures that live close to the Earth, without money, and they survive just fine (if we'd quit being such mega-land consumers!), and they are generally happier, more disease-free, and more balanced in their minds than our society is. Imagine that. The only reason our society doesn't see it this way is because they are different from us, and we have become intolerant to those that are labeled "different." So when people in our society turn to things like drugs or prostitution thinking this will fix their lives or their money problems, is it because they fear living closer to the Earth? Do they fear being different? Are they fearful of non-acceptance from the rest of our money-ridden society? Do they think they won't survive at all?

Fear is the disease. Gratitude is the cure. In the meantime, education promotes healing. Just my opinion.

To alleviate fear, I apply education. Book learning and internet research is great, but nothing beats real world experience. If you can't get real world experience, guess what? Imagination works just as well and sometimes even brings new things into existence! :) Experiencing how other societies live, learning what's good (or not) for your body & mind, knowing what practices promote health and which tear it down and then actually having the self-esteem to DO the things that make you happy and say no thanks to the things that lead down a fear-filled path - I wish that with a healthy dose of imagination for EVERYONE on Earth.

When I look at things like slave trade - or people we label as criminals in general - from another perspective, I find I am grateful to those folks because they show me a path I do NOT want to go down. They are the signposts that say "Here, there be dragons." (And seriously? When did dragons get such a bad reputation? Maybe they were just misunderstood! :) I've had some unfortunate experiences with criminals... I'm not saying it's fun, I'm saying if you lose, don't lose the lesson. Often I find the reason people have put on their victim t-shirt and continued spreading a negative story is because they forget to find what they wanted to learn from the experience, therefore they keep drawing negative experiences to themselves. There are no victims on our globe. We all have free will and we all make choices that affect our path. Even as children. Our choice may be as simple as deciding to change perspectives. Once I see any "bad" experience I may have from a learning perspective, it's easier to tuck away the knowledge and move on in my life to something better and happier.

Personally I believe God (or whatever label you choose) only sends us angels. Some of them are dark angels, but they are all angels nonetheless. Criminals are dark angels AND they serve a great purpose to those of us not wanting to walk their path. They help remind us to stay focused instead on happiness. I am so grateful for that.

Everyone has the capacity to think like this. They only need to be shown that there is more than one path to choose from. That's where education comes in. :)

Again - just my two pesos.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Am Grateful to Live in Abundance

This morning I got up early (no small feat for this night owl!) and headed to Escondido with the bf to pick oranges with San Diego Food Not Lawns. I want to give a big Gratitude Shout Out to Esta Browning, an awesome friend I met through my volunteer work with Help the Homeless, who posted the picking event on her Facebook, which is why I got to be involved today.

SD Food Not Lawns is an organization started about a year ago which tries to match up otherwise-unharvested fruit from the thousands of trees on private property in Southern California with food banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, or any other worthy cause that can use them. Many properties down here have more trees than the owners can possibly eat the fruit from. Almost everyone knows *someone* that shares fruit from their fruit trees. Not letting the rest of it go to waste is a truly noble cause. I've often said myself that if we can FedEx a package anywhere overnight, why can't we send food that normally goes to waste here in the US to the countries with starving populations?

Mother Earth provides us with everything we need. And because we have evolved to such a point (much to the detriment of our planet to boot!) that we can move products around the globe in 24 hours, we are now responsible (and have NO excuse) not to be able to spread the abundance from one area to another.

With that thought in mind, it's TOTALLY cool how every time I put something out there to the Universe, it answers me almost immediately. My friend S, whom I dog sit for every now and again, has about 100 grapefruit and orange trees on her property. They only have them because they came with the house. As far as I know, they don't do anything to support the trees other than give them water so they don't die. They pick the fruit for as many friends and family and neighbors as they can, but a TON of it goes to waste. 100 trees produce A LOT of fruit!

The last time I was up there letting the dogs out, I was discussing with a different friend what a waste it is for all that fruit to just drop and rot. We brought a bunch home as I know we're allowed to, but we can't possibly eat our way through the orchard. Having just been on my weekend trip downtown for Help the Homeless, it occurred to me that taking a bunch of that fruit with me next time might be awesome. That thought naturally led to thinking about how appreciated that fruit might be at soup kitchens and shelters across the county.

Lo and behold, Esta posted the link mentioned above like a day or two later! They match up otherwise-unharvested trees with those that can benefit from the food. How COOL is that?!! Gotta love synchronicity.

Note: I probably intended to write something more for this post, but never finished it. It was in draft format when I found it but since it sort of appears to be a complete thought anyway, I'm just posting it so it stops telling me I have all these drafts! Can't have a drafty blog!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Am Grateful for Intelligence

The Best.Jeep.Ever. has needed some TLC lately. It was time for an oil change, a couple lightbulbs needed replacing, new tires, a nice bath… I'm never upset about spending money on the Godly Automotive Wonder that takes me everywhere I want to go exploring. I love my Jeep even with its big 'ole feet. You know what they say about a large carbon footprint... oh wait...

I admit I've never changed my own oil or a flat tire though. Some things are better left to the boys to get dirty with, or the experts that have all the right tools to keep an easy 10-minute job from being a 5-hour headache. However, I'm not one of those girls that's completely helpless in the garage either. I own REAL tools. They are not pink or sparkly - they are SnapOn silver, Dewalt yellow, Home Depot orange, Makita blue, or Ryobi green with black dirt accents. (And none of them are diminutive! ;) I've replaced my own headlights, battery, wipers, and tail lights in the past. I've installed iPod adapters (which required taking apart the dash to get to the back of the stereo head unit) in both the Camaro and the Jeep all by myself. Once I even changed my own idle air control (IAC) valve after a brilliant mechanic broke it (and zip-tied it as a fix! WTF?!), then wanted to charge me $183 for a replacement! I did it myself for less than $70. Go me!

Obviously, I am not afraid or ignorant of my vehicles.

So I found myself at the local auto parts store the other day. It happened to be a day when I chose to wear nicer clothes because the boyfriend was with me and I like to look my best when we present ourselves together in public. We are each other's arm candy. :) My outfit that day included a beautiful cotton sweater, designer jeans, high heeled boots, appropriate jewelry, and my expensive (not!) sunglasses (THOSE have sparkles on the sides!) pushed to the top of my head. My flashiest name-brand purse (under $100 people, so hush up) hung from my shoulder. To be fair, I suppose this look does give off a certain impression, especially to men found under a car more often than in it.

Looks can be so deceiving tho, can't they? This is why I don't judge books by their cover (except for the new teen novel Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck - I totally bought that solely because the cover was cool and it turned out to be an awesome story! SCORE! Her next book, Tiger's Quest, is coming out in June. Preorder now!).

I was looking for the lightbulb that goes over the license plate, assumably so my next victim of Texting While Driving can see who ran them over in the dark and report me to the police.


(Ok, not completely.)

Having never replaced this particular bulb before, and knowing there are usually several to choose from, I walked up to the register to ask the I-Just-Graduated-College-And-This-Is-My-Chosen-Career clerk to retrieve the correct part number.

"Hello, I need the lightbulb that goes over the license plate of my 2005 Jeep Liberty."

"Lightbulbs are in Aisle 5."

"Thank you, but do you mind looking up the number for me? It's much faster than going through the book." (You'd think the fact that I KNOW there is a number - or a book over there to look in for that matter - would be his first clue, but it went right over his head.)

"Oh sure… you said it's an Oh Five Jeep Liberty?"

I nod.

Not that he looked up to confirm.

(Tap tap tap.) "Okaaaayy… number 168…"

"Thank you." I turned to walk away.

A dirty, plump finger shoots out rather close to my ear. "It's down Aisle 5 there… on the right… here, I'll just get it for you."

I'm sorry, did the back of my head look confused? Even tho I'm already walking in the proper direction, Mr. Helpful whips past me like Dale Earnhardt Junior at Talladega.

"Thanks but really, I can find… umm, ok," I say pointlessly into the backdraft. Thanks for providing great customer service?

The clerk was already scanning the rows so I had no choice but to shut up and follow him. I'm sure he's looked at these things many times more than I, so a nanosecond after I arrive he dives for the correct item and starts heading back to the register. Again, I follow. About halfway there he turns around, shakes the package in my direction, and says as if speaking to a child:

"Now make sure you tell whoever is installing this not to touch the bulb…"

Wait... what? Whoever is installing this? What am I? Chopped liver? Why would the person installing it not be me, the same one asking for the part?

The boyfriend comes up behind me just then, at which point I apparently disappear in a chauvinistic puff of smoke. Relieved there is a penis in the vicinity, Mr. Helpful redirects his comment to my appropriately-gendered partner: "Hey, make sure you use a rag to hold the bulb when you put this in…"

Make sure you use a rag to hold what's left of your ego, pal, cuz mine is rearing up to its entire righteous five-foot-three height.

"I will be the one installing this, thank you," I say as I take the package from his outstretched hand. "And I know not to touch the bulbs because they are halogen and the oils on your fingers will ruin them," I add as I stalk to the register with an unladylike semi-snort of laughter while the two men stand there looking at each other, one with embarrassment and the other with a smirk.

Hello Auto Zone? The 50s called… they'd like their counter boy back.

"Ummm…" Mr. Helpful says, gesturing toward Automotive Genius No. 2, "… he'll ring you up." He wouldn't even look at me as he slunk behind the checkout and disappeared between the stacks of thingamabobs* and whoseywhatsits. I notice the other cashiers trying not to crack up. Whether it's at me or him I have no idea since my nose is so far up in the air at this point, I would drown if it started to rain.

So what have we learned today, kids?

For those of you who are curious, as I was, having never taken the time (until now) to actually find out WHY you shouldn't touch halogen bulbs, The Straight Dope (fighting ignorance since 1973!) has the answer here. If you don't have time to read all the technical explanations offered, the short version is "because it's baaad...m'kay?" Ok, not really. :) It's because your oily fingerprints leave enough residue to impede the infrared component of a halogen's light spectrum from exiting the glass, thereby collecting heat and creating a weak spot, which eventually can cause the glass to explode from stress (much like the heads of chauvinistic males when coming into contact with my ego), shortening the life of the bulb. (In which case I'd say the lifespan of the bulb is the least of your problems.)

Whew... good thing Mr. Helpful mentioned that rag! I thought they were only for dusting!

Ladies (and gentlemen), you now know how to completely disassemble a snarky cashier the next time they condescend to you about halogens. Word.

Happy Jeep having a day at the spa. :)

*You know how I know Macs are the smarter machines? Because they know how to spell thingamabobs!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I cannot imagine why anyone needs drugs or pot when u can get that high on a sunset. Driving NOT recomended until you come down!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Am Grateful For Imagination

My habit of thought over the past couple decades has been that we have our salary rates all wrong in this society. We pay those in Hollywood or sports millions of dollars to create a couple hours of entertainment for us while our teachers and firemen and emergency response teams are doing their work mostly on good morals and shoestring budgets. It didn't seem fair.

However, today, I received a different perspective out of the blue. I was watching a YouTube video of a conversation between Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and although I've realized this before, it was not quite in this way: science has created things that used to only be science fiction from Hollywood. Would they have created these technologies WITHOUT Hollywood first dreaming them up?

Einstein of course has the famous quote, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." I've always believed that to be true in my head, and now I realize perhaps it has moved down to my heart.

Is the economic pay scale of the USA not a perfect example of that quote? Who do we pay the most? The ones with imagination (Hollywood at least), or the ones with knowledge (educators and heroes)?

Scientists' minds generally lean toward logic and fact finding - they want to prove things work or exist or figure out why something is true. We consider them "at the forefront of technology" but are they really? Maybe scientists are actually the ones at the end of the line. What if the creative geniuses in Hollywood are the ones blazing the trail of evolution and we don't even realize it?

A logical mind that seeks facts is not normally the same type of mind that envisions things so far out that the majority of people on the planet hadn't even dreamed of it. (There are always exceptions of course - Tyson being one of them I think - and those are truly remarkable people with minds that are balanced in both creativity and logic.)

A specific example is another YouTube video I saw about a guy that created a machine to turn plastic back into petroleum. Most people in first world countries now have also heard of biofuel - breaking down what we consider garbage into usable fuel. Where do these ideas come from (at least some of them)? Most people from the 80s will remember the movie Back to the Future. Christopher Lloyd's crazy scientist character uses garbage to fuel the DeLorean time machine at one point. (I'm sure there are earlier examples, but that's the first one that came to mind.) That is now POSSIBLE in our real world (and actually has been for some time). It's not affordable for most, or prevalent in our society yet, but neither was TV when it was first invented. Or cell phones. Or cars. Or dozens of other technologies that have become commonplace perhaps because a scientist saw a cool, convenient gadget in a movie or a tv show (or in the case of 19th century inventors, perhaps heard an idea from a storyteller of some sort) and said, "I can figure out how to make that real!" And let's not forget the creative minds in companies like Apple who can come up with a product out of seemingly nowhere (iPods!) that we never knew we couldn't live without.

So perhaps our Hollywood staff is not as overpaid as I thought. I mean what value would you put on evolution? On advancing our thoughts and ideas? On education? Does it even really matter if we advance and get smarter and make new things? IS it even "getting smarter" or just becoming different? I guess it depends on the roads we choose, which is based on creativity, not always logic.

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need... roads."

And in the opposite vein - what of our "heroes?" The firemen and policemen and EMTs that save lives (some would add soldiers to that, but war is a whole other subject I'm not getting into here). I'm always the first to admire and thank emergency response people for their "underpaid service," but is our ability to prolong our lives actually what's mucking up the planet? Should we be thanking the ones that save us? From this new perspective, I'm not sure.

Certainly I was grateful to everyone involved is saving my grandparents' lives when they had a car accident about a year ago, but then again maybe it's a selfish thing for me to want my grandparents to live forever. I don't think even *I* want to live in this particular body forever! How boring would that be? About as boring as only getting to read one book, or only watching one movie... forever. Why would I wish that on them? Forever is a VERY long time. (And if you get into the philosophical question of "why are we here" I can imagine only being able to "live" one story forever might have been the impetus for multiple lives... but that's a whole other blog!)

Perhaps we are playing God or not facing our fears by keeping people alive for so long, and the consequences are the typical collection of physical inconveniences that we now label "old age." Are years of incontinence and dementia something to celebrate? :\ Perhaps we have advanced in our physical technologies, and we pat ourselves on the back for our so-called advances in social sciences, but are we actually still in the dark ages about death and other lifetimes?

Who would we be if we did not fear death?

Perhaps my grandfather could've avoided all the indignities and challenges of emphysema and Alzheimers if he had not been wearing a seatbelt and was therefore removed from the trouble of dealing with all that for another several years. My grandmother was NOT wearing a seatbelt and would have died without the help of the Intensive Care Unit. It's really a miracle she survived. I am extremely grateful to spend a few more years pestering her over the phone (we live on opposite coasts), but was it fair to keep her here only to be trapped in the house with my grandfather who needs someone to babysit him like a child at all times due to the medical problems he has now? What kind of existence is that (especially for a woman that is still very mobile herself)? Obviously a car crash full of anxiety and fear as you transition into another state of being is not an ideal way to go (I am not saying I wish that upon anyone, especially not my grandparents!), but perhaps we've created the ways in which we most commonly leave this existence through our misunderstanding of death and consequential fear of it.

If you knew in your heart all deaths have the possibility of being peaceful and happy, would you be more accepting of it and therefore be okay when your loved ones take that journey? Many people pay lip service to the idea, but underneath their concept of death, and what they believe in their heart about it, is still based in fear. I believe it will take a shift in a majority of society's consciousness to change that.

Native American elders (from a century ago, before the casinos) would simply decide when it was their time to leave, and they would go out in the woods or plains or wherever and have a peaceful, purposeful death. Same with Buddhists. We don't have nearly enough movies about that. Instead the film industry makes the most money from perpetuating our imaginings of a violent death, which in my opinion just creates more violent deaths in our world. It's a vicious circle.

By the way, I still think our teachers are WAY WAY underpaid. They give us a basis for learning to survive in this society. The trouble with teachers is that we have a limited idea of who our teachers are. To me, EVERYONE on this planet is a teacher in some way to everyone they come in contact with. Should we all get paid appropriately for what we teach each other? Well actually, I think we do. We have a beautiful Earth as our school, friends and family to love and support us, and most importantly our imaginations which fill in all the space between. To me, those things are the best payment of all.

Well… now my thought associations appear to have come full circle in the edits, so YAY for that!

I still haven't justified sports - perhaps that's truly only entertainment - but now I can allow for the possibility that maybe we're not as screwed up as we think in what we put value on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Am Grateful For Sunsets

For every afternoon in summer when I think surely I will die of heatstroke due to my western-facing windows and a condo without central air conditioning, I get the MOST AWESOME SUNSETS EVER in winter, and the ability to keep the drapes open for the entire thing, while the last rays warm my bedroom for the evening ahead.

(This pic was actually taken on my birthday, Dec 30, 2010, at Oceanside beach, but you get the idea. I am often too busy watching the sunset to take pics of each one!)

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Infinite List

I know I've been more silent than I've wanted to be this past month. I really do love writing, but my brain goes so much faster than my fingers have time to catch up with. No sooner do I have a subject to write about than it's replaced by another thought and another and another, until I give up trying to get to any one of them or have any hope of following the train of thought back to its origin. I hope I'll find a method to reconcile that soon. Of course that would mean self-discipline, which is not one of my strong points either.  **SIGH!**

Regardless, Jason Mraz, as usual, has posted something on his blog that I feel strongly about - Gratitude. I love expressing gratitude whether it's out loud, in my thoughts, or written; to a person or just the Universe in general. His post inspired a list that wouldn't stop forming in my head even after I clicked the submit button the first time. I posted on his comments FOUR times. Is that bad Netiquette? Even if it's good things you're posting?

I thought the list was worth reposting here, especially since I find it so hard to slow myself down long enough to write anything of substance lately. Here's hoping to this being the start of more regularity (the first thing on HIS list, and I can only imagine all the forms of regularity he's actually implying there :D ) in posts this year. At least it's my favorite subject to kick off 2011 with. :) (Figures it would be a kind of "pirated" subject as well...)

I'm grateful for:

San Diego
Big Blue (the Pacific)
Vitamineral Green
YOU for introducing me to it [meaning Jason]
YOU again for << insert a hundred different things you've said that offered me a new way to look at things or to think about or products to try >>
My teachers
Others who have presented new perspectives to me, always keeping it fresh
Beautiful clouds and amazing sunsets
Vegetation in all its glory
Animal friends and Wildlife
Nature in general
Trees [ok, just added those last two in]
The wonders of the Cosmos
Indoor plumbing
Good Health (did I say that already?)
Omnipossibility :)
The smell of coffee
Pure potential
Meaningful play
Cafe Gratitude (FOR SURE!)
Organic cotton
Down comforters
The Stars!!!
New Experiences
Apple Computers
Messages in the sand
and all the things I don't support and agree with in the world because they allow me to define that which I DO enjoy/support/believe. :)

Of course by now I've thought of another one as well: the ability to help those with less since I have a bit more at the moment. :)

Take 90 seconds and answer the most powerful question in the world:

What are YOU grateful for?!