Kirkus Review of Burden of Light

THE BURDEN OF LIGHT by Ellia Vierling

THE BURDEN OF LIGHT

A young man struggles with overwhelming impulses and thwarted desires in Vierling’s darkly affecting debut novel.

Arriving in town by bus, Raymond is approached by a man suffering with a kidney stone. Although Raymond doesn’t want to, he assists him and ends up staying at the home of his new friend, Earl, and his wife, Clarissa. The outspoken, principled Earl takes a paternal interest in Raymond, and Clarissa mothers him, calling him “hon.” Raymond finds work at Earl’s former place of employment, an animal rendering plant, even though Earl warns against it, saying “[t]hat place will ruin a man.” Daily, Raymond fights the urge to retch as he deals with the gruesome sights and horrific smells of animal parts being rendered into soap and oil; it’s tough going, but he sticks with it. Eventually, he becomes smitten with a drinking buddy’s cousin, Jenny, but because he lacks polish, he scarcely knows what to do—and his buddy has also sternly warned him to stay away from her. When he finally approaches her, he’s too overwhelmed by her presence to engage in conversation, and as with many things in Raymond’s life, the reality falls decidedly short of the dream. Throughout the novel, the author allows Raymond only a few moments of happiness, as the character’s sometimes-brutal nature (and lack of nurture) often prevents them from coming into being. As in the works of Cormac McCarthy, the dialogue is without quotes, and scene after scene rings true, as each character utters lines in his or her own unique cadence. Raymond is a troubled man, an atavistic throwback caught by his need to be a man but not knowing how to go about it. Without the grace of love, embittered Raymond might have become a true American psycho. Overall, Vierling’s narrative is a stirring reminder of the fathering that’s necessary to ensure a boy’s passage into manhood.

A disturbing, heart-rending account of a young man caught in the abyss between desire and realization.

A slice of America

flagAnybody out there read “Rolling Stone” magazine?  I would imagine at least of a few of you do :)  (a bloody awesome rag indeed!)  Rolling Stone does a whole lot more than talk about music and your favorite bands…it digs into the culture of our country in surprising and pointed ways.

In this month’s issue, there is a highly disturbing article – and a most necessary read – about the state of affairs in this once booming country of ours.  Ours is the “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave…” a country that other countries around the world want to emulate, want to become, want to BE! (oops, is that snark peeking through?).  Yes, ours is a land that shines…and also, that vibrates with a deep and conflicting past, and continues to uphold this less-than-stellar tradition, I’m afraid.  The article in Rolling Stone is called “Where the Tea Party Rules” and it is deftly written by Janet Reitman, with photographs by Geordie Wood.   Straight up: it is challenging to read.  But, eyes wide open people!…it is an important article for All Americans to read, in that it provides a window into the fragmentation/corruption/and insularity that has overtaken the power systems in our country, that were once upon a time, established to offer protection for ALL its citizens – but now seems determined to protect only those who have the power,influence, and/or money, to purchase it.

The slice presented in the article is of Lima, Ohio – a once prosperous industrial city that boomed during the manufacturing explosion of the 1950’s and 60’s…and continued along that trajectory, for the most part, until the recession of 2007. What remains of this city (as an example of the Greater Country) is a shell, a broken and emptied ghost, of its not-long-ago promise: that a person could get a solid education, find a job, raise a family, send their children also to a decent school, get a strong enough education that they too, would be able to “duplicate” this same experience, and keep the “American Dream” humming along.  Unfortunately, for the majority of citizens in Lima, as well as for so many individuals and families in our country, this apparition of the “American Dream” has long since departed the desk top!

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Where has it gone?  To the top 1% – who have purchased their way into this position, and unfortunately, maintain the money and power to keep it this way.  The sad truth is this – the era of dignity, honor, and duty, in the United States of America, has gone by the wayside to the highest bidder.

I think the “little guy” – those without pockets stuffed with millions – has always been easier to bat around.  Of course.  But, up until the 1980’s, there were institutions in place, to ensure that the “little guy” could only be batted so far. Those Institutions guarded a vitally important tenet that ultimately, built this country into the land of ‘freedom and prosperity’ – that called people from distant shores with the promise of making a GOOD life here, in the USA.  That tenet was our system of Government – by the people, for the people – and the Regulations that our government instilled to Protect them.  Neither of these exist anymore.  Our government is now bought and paid for by a ridiculously thin slice of wealthy individuals with wickedly deep pockets, thanks to the abhorrent ruling of the Supreme Court Justices: Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, in April 2014 with the McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission ruling. Never before, in the history of the Supreme Court, has it struck down the federal contribution limit…why? Because somehow, other Supreme Court justices seemed to understand that by doing so, they would open up the highest offices of our country, For Sale, to the highest bidder – which would, in effect, pollute the entire basis of our Democracy.  And that is precisely what we are seeing now.

courtMake no mistake, wealth does not necessarily equate to intelligence, or to knowledge; nor does it equate to leadership, nor does it equate to the greater good for all people.  Indeed, more and more so, wealth seems to equate to this: That Which Is Good for ME.  When the highest offices of our country become items for “purchase” – people like you, and me, often feel like all we can do is sit back and bear witness to the dismantling of our once great country – a country that is all around us, reduced to little more than a whore who spreads its legs for a thick wad of green.  And who buys this whore?  Rich, wealthy, and overwhelmingly, white men.

My question is this: Who are these men to manipulate the lives of millions? Who are these men to say that the earth should not be protected?  Who are these men to say that anyone with the mind, the drive, the dream, to attend college can not go unless they either have a cache of green to support them, or are willing to put themselves into outrageous debt for many years – if not decades, of their lives? Who are these men to say that Florida residents can NOT put solar panels on their own rooftops – in the Sunshine State! on their own private property?  Who are these men to OWN this sky, this ground, this grove of trees, this ocean, this Supreme Court, this Country?  I am telling you – we are living in a “What the Fuck!” moment, if ever there was one.

Separation of Church and State was one of THE defining vertebrae of our spine – Gone.  The annihilation of Roe vs. Wade…by MEN – WTF!  The honor of our Highest Court – Obliterated.  Government as overseer to keep its Citizens from being gouged – not even a whisper on the wind any longer.  I wonder how long it will be before our protected watersheds/parks/land will lay under the scalpel of greed as well?

There is a pervasive sickness, that – like a spoiled child (think Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – “I want it NOW Daddy!  I want it NOW NOW NOW!”) has been allowed to run rampant, unchecked, and unrestrained, and without the Checks and Balances that used to define our system of governance, I seriously do not know what, or how, or who, might ever be able to turn this ship around.

Perhaps it is time to turn to history – to investigate and explore how other populations were able to topple the regimes that took over control of their bodies, their lives…or, perhaps its simply time to move to Canada.  We need a Jimmy Stewart (aka: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) more than ever! A valiant hero that will fight the powers that be and demand reform! demand change! Dammit!…but there is no Jimmy Stewart, people – there is only us.  The People. If we could only get it into our thick skulls: That, a People united is a Power unstoppable, and a People divided is a power no more.

How do we Unite?  That’s the trillion dollar Question.  I’d love to hear what you think…

 

The Signature of All Things

519bxnNZYWL._AA160_Rarely has a book penetrated me so…dare I say, never…as Elizabeth Gilbert‘s exquisite novel – The Signature of All Things.  Over the past two days, my time, my thoughts, my work, my life, my everything (other than my children, and their homework!) was completely and utterly overtaken by this engrossing and brilliant work of art…it overtakes me still, though I reluctantly closed the last pages of this book in the late hours of this morning.  To say how or why this novel delved so deeply into my heart, my spirit, my subconscious, into my very cells perhaps, is a task I will never rise to the occasion of fully explaining to any other soul, other than my own.  For this novel, for me, was much more than a “book” – it was deeply and emphatically, alive! –  so much so, that I could “hear” it, “feel” it, be ever expanded by it and “ignited” by it – and crazy as it sounds, I truly mourned when its life came to an end.  

From the first hours of my reading, and every moment then since – I often found myself in tears…from the Wonder, the Beauty, the Knowledge and Curiosity that is presented in this book, primarily through Alma, the amazing woman of science that charges into life, full steam ahead with her engrossing Commitment to Understanding EVERYTHING, head on, straight on, looking life in the eye, even when it was difficult…painful, even. 

Alma, is wondrous; she is the kind of character that I wish to know in my own life.  Steadfast, strong, brilliantly smart and learned, curious, exceptional in mind, bold, perhaps a tad (or more) selfish, genuine, and, even in the face of fear – ever unafraid.   She is also blunt, and wonderfully direct…perhaps owing to her endearing Dutch nursemaid, Hanneke – or perhaps in a way that the wealthy and educated were always permitted to be.  She had a mind, and she never suffered to use it…nay, perhaps this is too much, for she was a woman in the 1800’s after all, and as such, she did choose to publish her scientific findings not under her full name, but by initial only…so as to stand the chance of being taken seriously in a man’s world.

If you are curious about the world, if you enjoy digging into the minutia of life, peeling back the layers to see what resides there – if the wonders of the heart stir you, and the thrill of exploration sends your head spinning… you must read The Signature of All Things. An entire universe resides in the pages of this novel, in the lives of its characters…and for this, I praise with an exploding heart, the wonders that Elizabeth Gilbert birthed to us all.  If ever in my lifetime I am able to paint so delicately and fine a story and characters such as this in my own writing, I will die a happy woman, and one deeply fulfilled.

 

A chance encounter…?

Do you believe that there are such things as “chance” encounters?  My gut tells me, No – that if we are living in accordance with our Intention, which means we are living with specific purpose, specific aims, specific requests, and specific needs, then along our path, specific and particular people/ideas/actions/thoughts/information/deeds will be delivered to you along your journey, and always when that specific thing is needed most. Funny thing is, you often may not even know that you are in need of that particular thing, until you receive it!

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The other day, I met a man named Shanti at my local Trader Joes  (so many great encounters take place at Trader Joes! Such good people there:).  He was dressed all in white, had a kind face, a dark beard peppered with salt, and a thoughtful demeanor about him.  I struck up a conversation with him and we began to talk about yoga, and he asked which practice I aligned myself with.  When I told him “Kundalini” he responded in an unexpected way.  “Kundalini for men, yes…but for women, I don’t know,” he began…”for Kundalini’s aim is to cause Rise, and men need to rise – but women, they have nothing TO rise.” 

Of course, the rise of Kundalini is the “Serpent” (which is definitely an on-the-nose MAN thing!) but this Serpent has been taught to me, and to many many others, as the “sleeping serpent coiled at the base of our spines – a coil of Energy that when released, will allow us to Rise.”  I don’t feel the need to reorganize my thoughts, or my practice of Kundalini because of Shanti’s statement – I have studied, taught, and practiced this form of Yoga for over a decade and find it to be particularly effective in my being: mind, body, and spirit…so it works for me, serpent or no serpent!  But, Shanti’s perspective does add a new dimension to my understanding of this rich practice, and allows me to touch a bit of the unknown…after all, perhaps there is an element of truth to his statement.

warp

Before Shanti and I parted ways, he asked if I also practiced meditation, to which I replied yes.  This was partially true – I have long been a practitioner of meditation, longer than I’ve practiced yoga, but over the past several years, life has gotten busy and my meditation practice has…slipped.  He asked if he might take my hand, which I gladly offered, and he told me to close my eyes and breathe, and to tell him what I felt.  As he held lightly to my hand, I could feel a surge of his energy rush through me – it was very strong.  Heat ran up my arm, spilled across my chest, and my face began to flush. I told him I could feel his energy and after a moment he smiled and released my hand.  “Your mind is VERY busy,” he told me softly.  To which I replied, Yes, it is!  Busy Mind seems to be the new normal…but that doesn’t make it Good…as we probably all know!.. (BTW: I reinstated my Meditation practice the very day I met Shanti…I thank him for re-inserting that into my life).

The really cool thing that came out of this encounter with Shanti (which was not a chance encounter at all, I’m quite certain) was his words of insight and truth before we parted.    “You must move down from your head, and into your  heart,” he told me.  “Men need to rise, but women, they need to Open…”

This was precisely why I encountered this man, at that moment, on that day.  There are SO many reasons why I NEEDED to be reminded of the role of my 4th Chakra, my Anahata, my Heart-song…and his whisper to this truth simply lit me up!  I’ve been having trouble re-connecting to my second novel, which I started last year.  Finding my “doorway” back in has been difficult. Shanti’s gentle insistence that I move back down to my heart, suddenly allowed me to understand that I had been approaching my novel from my Head, NOT from my Heart!…I had been trying to “think” my way back in.

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As I was reminded this past weekend while talking with Steven Kotler at the Bulletproof Conference (which was AMAZING! Go next year if you can!) creating Art allows (requires us really) to tap into the state of FLOW.  Creating is about getting out of our heads, and moving into the rhythm and energy, the spirit and river, of the creative flow.  When I approach Creating, or perhaps LIFE in general, TOO much with my Head – it’s all about Reason, Mechanics, and the clunky act of Contrived Thought…but FLOW resides in water, in free movement, in Intuition and the unexpected, the unusual and the Surprise!  The Heart is all about TRUST, listening to your INTUITION, and LETTING GO!  It’s the leap off the trapeze as you fly free through mid-air, reaching your hands with great Trust toward the other who is there to catch you.

So from my heart to yours – I thank you Shanti…I thank all the Angels out there, meaning You, Me, All of Us – we are, and can be, Angels for each other – if we can keep our Hearts open, our Minds clear, and our Spirits Engaged and Free.

(an aside: in T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, he uses the word Shantih, which means: The peace which passeth understanding!Shanti at Trader Joes certainly passed this along to me)

*****PS…a Loud shout out on Steven Kotler: he is the author of The Rise of Superman (which is terrific!) and the co-author on the awesome book Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think – highly recommend you all Read This Book!  It’s inspiring, hopeful, kick-ass, and brilliant!  Fill your noodles with the Awesome-ness in this book – and spread the word!

*****PPSS…: Don’t know what Bulletproof is?  You are Missing Out!  If you are an Athlete, an Experience Junky (such as myself), or simply a Person Interested in Personal Growth, you MUST check out the link above to Bulletproof!

 

Connecting…

We live in a major metropolitan area – crazy traffic, bustle bustle all about, dense living, lots of sounds (noise!) and activity…it’s amazing, and at times, bewildering.  But – while this happens all about us, we are also surrounded by incredible mountains and foothills, awesome trails and parks, streams and the ocean, and fabulous bike trails the wend along our soon to be “set free” river. Los Angeles is a true “melting pot” – an incredibly “Amercian” city in its breadth and scope and diversity, and the way in which we must all make room for one another.

I think this is the image that many “see” in their minds when they think of Los Angeles: a smoggy, “star” lit city (no, I don’t mean the ones in the sky:)) that is dominated by whackos, wealthy movie moguls and “Yo-dude” surfers that are blonde, blue-eyed, and dumb :).  Some of this might be true, but really…Los Angeles is simply an AMAZING place to live, to raise a family, and to explore the richness of the natural world.

Example: my kids are currently involved in an Ancient Skills Class, taught by a fellow named Chris Morasky, who spent more than a decade living with and learning about the natural world, through various Native American Tribes.  He now runs classes for both kids, and adults, who wish to deepen their appreciation, and knowledge of, the natural world.  Our kids have only experienced one class so far, but already they have learned some really cool stuff:

scented beauty!
scented beauty!

Did you know that a Eucalyptus Tree can be a source of…sugar?  Not “true” sugar, but at certain times of the year (around now, beginning of Autumn), on the underside of the leaves, you will see small white bumps that are called “Lurps” (sounds like they were named by Dr. Suess!…which, by the way, is the German word (suess) for sugar!) Lurps aren’t crazy sweet, but they do have a hint of sweet to them.  Take a walk around some Eucalyptus near you and flip a leaf over…look for the white bumps (the older ones turn brown or black – they won’t hurt you though, just don’t taste as sweet) and try a Lurp!

lovely cottonwood
lovely cottonwood

Cool #2: Cottonwood Trees and…toothpaste?  Yep – there is a direct correlation!  Many people on the planet do not use a toothbrush and toothpaste, but instead use the tender branch stem of a Cottonwood Tree. Cool huh:)  We got to try this as we moved along the trail – this tree pictured above lent us a small, tender branch which Chris cut into 1 inch pieces or so…ideally you would pound the tip of the branch piece between two rocks to soften the tip of the branch – we simply peeled the bark back a bit and chewed on it between our back teeth for a few minutes until it softened.  And then, brush your teeth with it!  Cottonwood contains Propolis, an ingredient found in toothpaste which acts as a natural deterrent against bacteria.  SWEET.

zip zip zip!
zip zip zip!

Last Super Cool Thing:

Some decades back, a scientist from JPL, (JPL – Jet Propulsion Laboratory…as in the place that is responsible for all current Mars exploration!…JPL is very close to this amazing park we were exploring last week), was walking along the same trails we were on, and stumbled upon this plant, a Burdock Plant.  The burrs of this plant are incredibly sticky, and yet…they “zip” together, and “unzip” amazingly easy, without any damage to the burrs.  This plant, these burrs, became the inspiration for….Velcro!  A wicked awesome invention discovered here, in our backyard:)

Get outside! Keep your eyes open, your mind unlocked, and your inspiration ready!  You might just discover the next “big” thing…and, you might just have a ridiculous amount of fun. Love Your Nature! (pun intended!)

Eunoia…a beautiful gift

 

light dancing through sound
                  light dancing through sound

Perhaps it is owing to the fact that I am a writer.  Perhaps it is owing to the truth that I am also a musician, singer/songwriter, lover of song and sound. Perhaps it is simply the richness that lands on the ear, burrows into the heart and soul, when one hears a word that moves across or through our being with such caress, such beauty, that it positively stops us.   Amazing how words shape us, as though they are a chisel, carving out the form and indentations of who we are. Which words we choose to use, to utter, to carry in our pocket, speak volumes of who we are as a human being, as an individual, as a member of a collective, or class, or educational background, etc… Think about it: When we first engage with another person, the first thing we take in is their appearance, and the very next thing, is their speech…the words they use, but also, how they use them.  There is a certain “coding” in the language that we adopt (or perhaps, better expressed as this: in how we choose to use our language) that identifies and categorizes us, whether we like it or not.  Hence the saying: “Choose your words wisely.”

Language makes Specific.  It identifies, labels, and takes an abstraction and turns it into a concrete Thing.  So cool, right?  And yet, simultaneously, there is also this terrific abstraction to language.  “Why is a tree called a tree?”  your child might ask.  Or – “Why is this thing called a nest?” Good question, on both accounts.  I mean, what does a bird “call” its nest? Language was first created as pictographs, and slowly, these pictographs were given words that somehow represented the image.  This simple act of language – both oral and written, is something I continue to find extraordinary in its own right.  That we can speak to one another, and by and large, most often, understand what each other is saying…and even more profound, we can understand what each other means. Through language, we are able to reside on the same plane, and within the same arena of expression and meaning.

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For me, words are gifts.  I hold them inside me like candles lighting my way, allowing me to “see” my (and others’) thoughts, memories, emotions, feelings, objects, ideas…everything.  Words unlock the world and allow it to become personal, held, understood – words allow us to be here…to be present. Remember that moment in “The Miracle Worker” (the television movie about the life and experience of Helen Keller, who at the age of 2, was struck blind, deaf, and mute) when she first understood water.  The word “water” was being written on her open palm in sign language as her hand was held under running water…suddenly, she was no longer locked out of “life,” she could “connect” to the world around her – AND – place herself inside of it…all because of language.  Helen Keller went from being a rather monstrous being, into a curious, and swiftly intelligent human being…because language made the “invisible” visible, and the “unknowable” known.

Okay – so I want to share a word I’ve only just discovered yesterday, that sent my heart all aflutter the entire day long (and continues to do so :)) .  I can’t get enough of this beauty, and I will hold onto her my life long, dancing on my tongue, for the reminder that she instructs about the essence and qualities needed for a happy life.  I could not stop whispering this word to myself just to feel its sound, its give, its enormous beauty.  Everything about this word moves through space weightless, in the way that you feel light and free when true joy resides in you.  The word is… Eunoia (pronounced yoo-know-ee-ah), and its meaning is this: “Well Mind” or “Beautiful Thinking.”  Say it out loud, listen to its sound, its Sigh, its river of breath, its softness, lightness, and how it immediately calms, like a balm.  Eunoia.  It is like sunshine, warming and peaceful.   Eunoia is the shortest word in English that contains all 5 vowels, and it was first used in Aristotle’s book Nichomechean – Book 8, which was written for his son as a guide for living a happy and joyous life.  Eunoia is said to be necessary as the basis for a happy, prosperous. and long-lived marriage; and it is also said that Eunoia is the goodwill that a speaker creates between herself and her audience.

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My wish to you, my wish for all of us, is to live our lives in friendship with Eunoia – that we share it with those that we meet, those that we love, those that we struggle with; that we carry this in our hearts, and on the tips of our tongues, as a reminder that leads us to our most fulfilled and excellent lives.

Blessings to you.  And Words, Words, Words…..:)

 

 

 

AE911Truth…

(Disclaimer: I am not entirely comfortable writing anything “political” – it is outside my comfort zone, and in this way – I fear I’ve been trained well.  I am “stepping out” in a way that some might find…old news, or un-necessary, or even un-American…that is their right…as it is my “right” to speak out…rather, I believe, my “duty” as a Citizen of a nation that calls itself “the Land of the Free.”   This subject matter has everything to do with where we find ourselves, as a society, today…hence, I feel it remains entirely relevant now, and for our future)

footHere’s the deal – We Americans are born into certain “inalienable” rights. Right?  We studied the United States Constitution in Middle School, we learned about it on School House Rock (if you are of a certain age) and we are, as citizens of this country, protected by this umbrella in our everyday, daily lives.  Yes?

Or are we?

It is not news to state that our freedoms have come under attack as of late – especially if you are something other than a wealthy white male in our society.  Much of the “stripping away” of personal freedoms seem to have taken root after the attack of 9/11…in particular, the switch to a greater Police State, a seemingly good and necessary evil, in light of the horrors of that event.  It was a deeply tragic day, for all Americans…indeed, for many around the world.

outside crown

But, there is a problem with the climate that was created after the events of 9/11 that continue to persist today: the ON-GOING erosion of our personal freedoms.  And they appear to erode unabated, and un-debated (Hello Supreme Court!).  The personal freedoms of women, the personal freedoms of black men, the personal freedoms of poor people…all seemingly under attack.  (On the flip side, the personal freedoms of Gun Ownership grow stronger and stronger…hmmmm)

Mis-information is a powerful tool.  Orwell wrote about this subject matter with great insight and fervor, and I would hope that we could leave this “spread of mis-information” to fiction, as a reminder of the dangers of absolute power, absolutely!  I am a citizen of this country.  I have no connections to anyone in government or in power :) so what I’m about to write about stems from the insights I have read, and listened to, by individuals who DO have insight and connections to those in power, and in our government (and who at one time, were a part of these forces themselves).

overhead

Enter AE911Truth.  It has recently come to my attention that there is a growing collective in the minds and communities of our Scientists and our Architects, as well as individuals who once worked for the CIA and NSA, who question the validity of the reports that were written concerning the events that unfolded on 9/11.  Check out Corbettreport.com to watch compelling interviews with individuals that were highly ranked in the NSA and CIA as they join with AE911Truth to urge for a re-examination of what transpired that day ( in particular, in regards to the 3 towers, and the manner in which they collapsed).

*(An aside from Wikipedia): Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality,[1] or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.[1]The commonly understood opposite of truth is falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts including   philosophy and religion. Many human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most (but not all) of the scienceslaw, and everyday life.)  *See how LAW is included in the relevance of Truth?…)

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IF mis-information has purposely been passed down from our government, we the people have every right to insist that those who knowingly spread the mis-information be held accountable.  Why?  Two words: Police State.  The “police state” that grows around us, in our communities (check out images of police driving around our cities with left-over war machines, here in the NY Times) seems to be “tolerated” BY US, large in part due to the events that happened on 9/11.  Suddenly, the world was a dangerous place and we needed stronger defense systems to protect us.  Okay, that makes sense.  Stronger security at the airport?  Sure, good idea.  Stronger security at government buildings?  Absolutely.  Wire-tapping? Hmmmm…New unrestrained Police State?  WTF!

When did “shoot first, ask questions later” become good policy for Police?  Or, “shoot to kill” – when did that become the new way of “stopping” a suspect?  Or, 6 bullets into an un-armed young man, 2 of which were put into his HEAD, when did that become anything other than an Execution?  Apparently, this is all okay in this new Police State in which we reside.  This post-9/11 climate has become the perfect breeding grounds for intolerance, fear, suspicion…and a brand new use of Extreme Force.  And IF this has, in any way, been born out of purposely spread mis-information, by OUR GOVERNMENT…the depths to which this is wrong, is simply inexpressible.

black and white

Our new Police State policy has NOT led us to feel we are “safer,” but rather the opposite – our communities feel LESS safe, and entirely MORE DANGEROUS.   In the beginning of the 2nd paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, we are reminded: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

What our fore-fathers were saying is this: If our governing body is destroying our personal freedoms, and rights, it is our job to put them out, and start again.  Yeah, I know – we do that, don’t we?   By holding elections every 2 and every 4 years, right?  Ha.  Not when the richest white men in America can simply purchase any office which now seem to be readily, and deeply, For Sale (Hello again Supreme Court!)!

whole body

Life has certainly not gotten easier in the last decade, for the majority of people at least.  It has for some, the top 1% are laughing all the way to their Swiss bank accounts.  “Corporate greed” is redundant, and “un-necessary use of force” is swiftly becoming redundant also, if you are an officer of the law.  My point to all of this is this: If we have given away our rights, under the auspices of false information, large in part handed down, through the fists and mouths of our governing body – than we the people, should put into place, a NEW GOVERNMENT – one that puts Safety and Happiness, FOR ALL, at the front of its foundation. Yeah, I know…wishful thinking, right?

As long as we keep it so.

*Please consider signing the Petition on AE911Truth by clicking here*

 

 

Farm City!

An inside view of the making of an urban farm...plum full of humor, wisdom, and serious good advice!
An inside view of the making of an urban farm…plum full of humor, wisdom, and serious good advice!

 

If you have not yet read Farm City, by Novella Carpenter…give yourself a Big treat and get your fanny out to a bookstore near you and buy it!  This woman is awesome, and dare I say, the kind of person that I would call a local hero to us all.  Carpenter and her boyfriend moved from (if I remember correctly) Seattle, to a run-down section of Oakland, CA, and quickly turned an abandoned dirt lot into a verdant, abundant, living, thriving, urban farm.  She began planting edibles, with a focus on eventually helping to feed the people in her neighborhood…where there is nary a grocery store that sells fresh produce.  And then came the animals: bees, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, 2 very large pigs, and (guessing by the back cover of the book) somewhere down the line, goats.  Awesome, right! 
This book is an education in the down and dirty, pulsating, thriving, loving world of farm life (albeit, in a run-down neighborhood filled with a cast of crazy characters) from raising livestock, to dumpster diving to feed all these animals, to slaughter that is humane, though messy, to the divine act of eating the animal that you raised with love.  And it’s all told with Novella’s dead-pan humor, “tell it like it is” sense of humor that keeps you wanting more.  
Farm City is one of my favorite books of the year…and I think it will remain a favorite for years to come.

 

Novella teaches classes at her farm that allow others the skills to begin their own adventures, and she blogs about it all @ ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com.  And definitely check out her new book also, Gone Feral….

Summer Glory

 

Rolling yellow hills of Santa Cruz Island
Rolling yellow hills of Santa Cruz Island

At the beginning of summer (which for me means, the last day of the school year!) I made a conscious decision to allow myself an undivided summer…meaning, a summer devoted to my family, my husband, my kids, my pooch, my garden, taking care of my neighbors chickens, and enjoying every sun-drenched day of it!   Summer break was short for us this year, 2 little months (my kids returned to school Monday – August 11…sigh) and I did not want any conflicting interests getting in the way of my being fully present with them during our short time together. So, I took the entire 2 months off from writing – writing my blog, writing my novel, promoting my published novel, finishing my short story collection, re-writing my stage-play, song-writing…I mean ALL writing!…(other than my Gratitude Journal…which is filled with entries about them!)  And it was the best decision I could have made:)

Time is the leveler of equal opportunity, isn’t it.  We all have the same number of hours every single day, not a moment more, not a moment less.  And as my children grow, they become more evolved and complex, with their own defined interests, tastes, joys…you understand, and these precious days of spending nearly all my waking hours (and sometimes sleeping hours) with them, becomes less common, as they explore the world and their interests with friends, each other, or on their own.  As they should.  And so to hold these past two months in my mind, my heart, my spirit, of time spent with them – is a treasure beyond all compare. The memories of these past two months will hold me for a lifetime, and I do hope, the memories will carry my children as well.

Together, our family went camping several times, we hung out, we played, we swam, we boogie-boarded in the ocean waves, we hiked, we took our dog Rodeo on long walks along the Arroyo, our daughter learned to ride her bike, we saw movies under the stars, we listened to music in the parks and had picnics,  we read, we watched the kids create amazing homes, nature parks, amusement parks, and other worlds in Minecraft…they helped me can our homegrown tomatoes…we spent TIME with one another, and there is simply no greater gift.

My son, resting on our 8 mile trek to Smuggler's Cove...Ana Cappa Island seen in the distance
My son, resting on our 8 mile trek to Smuggler’s Cove…Ana Cappa Island seen in the distance
On our way out of Smuggler's Cove...a site of amazing Mediterranean beauty
On our way out of Smuggler’s Cove…a site of amazing Mediterranean beauty

My son just recently turned 10, and to celebrate this new double digit status, I took him backpack camping on one of the Channel Islands Santa Cruz, the largest island, and the only island with potable water – for 3 nights and 4 days.  Just he and I, and a double kayak.  It was tremendous.  It was extraordinary.  It was absolute kick-ass!  And the best way possible to welcome and usher in a new decade.  My son and I hiked every day, along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, through the yellow rolling hills, under the ever present sun and ever blowing winds…we kayaked every day, morning and late afternoon, and explored unbelievable sea caves, aqua blue waters so brilliant and crystal clear we couldn’t believe we were still in California, made our way through 5-7 foot high, white capped ocean swells to explore Neptune’s Trident!, we swam, we read Island of the Blue Dolphins (which is based on a true story of a woman that was abandoned and lived alone for 18 years on one of the smaller Channel Islands), we played cribbage, we watched the adorable and thieving small island foxes steal half our booty of food, we explored, we breathed in the eucalyptus scent that filled the air from the mighty trees all around the island, we rested on the fallen tree in the dry creek bed of our campsite soaking in the sun, we enjoyed every moment, and on the 4th afternoon when we were set to sail back to the mainland, we were more than sad to leave.

Kayak love as we approach the Elephant (otherwise known as the Marge Cave)
Kayak love as we approach the Elephant (otherwise known as the Marge Cave)
Our favorite cave of beauty, the Green Room in the Santa Cruz rock
Our favorite cave of beauty, the Green Room in the Santa Cruz rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 10 short years, our kids will be in college, graduating high school, traveling the world, deciding how they want to explore their lives, challenge themselves, create the life they dream of…and the days of sharing time with them will, very likely, occur less and less.  My kids will be experiencing young adulthood, ready to pounce on their independence and freedom and dreams and my husband and I will miss their presence more than we can possibly imagine. And so, I fill and store away all these precious hours, experiences, and memories that we are sharing now, and store them in my own private memory bank where I will be able to draw upon them each and every moment that I find myself missing their brilliance, their warmth, their smiles, their humor, their tenderness, their all.  Them.

I guess I write this to encourage each of you, to encourage all of US, to grab warmly the now of our experiences and create the time, the room, the allowance, to really dig into what is in front of us – the here and the now.  To saturate ourselves with the gift of this moment, this day, and to hold it dearly inside…a shimmer of light, to illuminate our hearts and minds, even years and years down the line.

Here is to you, for being present, for recognizing what is most important for you and giving yourself to it freely and completely, and allowing the rest to reside where it needs to – in the background.  The must do’s will still be there, waiting…even the want to do’s :)  It is the choice of living the Intentional Life – the life where you Choose the what, the how, the when, the now, with full embrace.

Enjoy the rest of the beautiful summer sun!

My beauties, first day back to school...xxoxo
My beauties, first day back to school…xxoxo

living, writing, seeing, listening