Our Tiny House

Friday, March 30, 2018

What is Your True Calling?


When my daughter and I were traveling across country, we stopped at a little restaurant in New Mexico where the waitress loved us up so much we were practically throwing tips at her.

While I remember that waitress, and I know we tipped her abundantly, I don’t remember the food. (Unlike the Easter dinner we had at the Anasazi Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico where we had the best dinner of our lives so far. There Content was King.)

#Marie Foleo, whose B-school course I am taking, admonishes her students not to offer discounts or place their items on sale. Customers who are always looking for the lowest prices, and the best deals, will abandon you when times get tough. They will go to someone with a lower price.  However, she says, give away a lot of stuff, information, or service/love, such as our waitress in New Mexico gave to us. We remember her to this day, and that was over 10 years ago.

You will be contributing.

Yes, we want/need money to live on, but above that, we want to make a difference.

You might have noticed that the sites you are apt to sign up for have already given you tons of good advice or information.

I think back to Tony Robbins—everybody knows him, right? I have gone to events that were not his; he was simply one of the speakers, yet he gives so much of himself on stage that you are apt to go into overload. The first time I heard him speak live was in Portland Oregon over twenty years ago. I was so jazzed when I came out of that auditorium that I didn’t feel the ground beneath my feet.

Online Tony’s abundance of free information is there for the taking. When I saw the free Netflix documentary,  #“I am Not Your Guru,” I was sold.

After more than twenty years of knowing who he was, and being awed by his knowledge, and ability to move people, I plunked down my money and bought a plane ticket—and got lost.

But not permanently lost.

What kept me from his events for so long?

Fear.

I was afraid of getting busted. I was afraid of walking on fire. It was too expensive, all those, but it was my life on the line, as is yours.

Sometimes you just have to grab your own running shoes and get going.

Anyone attempting to expand their horizons, whether it be a new artistic endeavor, a new business, or changing one’s life pattern, runs into fear.

 Steven Pressfield, in his book, The War of Art, calls it “Resistance.”

Resistance doesn’t want us to do this. It doesn’t want us to do that. Instead of doing the work we were born to do, we procrastinate, we watch television, we play with our cell phone, have a new love affair, drink too much, take drugs, or tell ourselves we couldn’t do it anyway, who are we? You know all those things that keep us from our true calling.

Why do we sharpen so many pencils (figuratively speaking) before sitting down to the keyboard, or the design table?


Monday, March 26, 2018

Stand Up!


Suddenly outside our restaurant window, a great throng of people streamed past. Droves of people marched down the middle of the street, children, dogs, moms, dads, grandparents, people in wheelchairs, more came and more. Many held placards.

It was a #protest march against #school shootings.

I wanted to support those dear people who wanted a peaceful environment for their children. They wanted their children safe, they wanted their schools safe. So I waved, and they waved back. Pretty soon I felt left out; I wanted to be out there marching with them—scenes of the 60’s flashed through my head.

However, school shootings isn’t a gun problem. It’s a psychiatric one.

Stiffer gun control, arming teachers, blaming the NRA, the government, that seemed to be the focus, and I questioned it. But then, if there are no guns no one would be killed or injured by one.

It’s a complex issue.

When I was growing up in our little provincial town, a boy used a metal pipe to kill a little girl camping out in her own yard. It isn’t all about guns. It’s demented people. He wanted to see a naked girl.

Studies have shown that a majority of school shooters are either on drugs or are withdrawing from them.

Yet, I didn’t see any placards protesting the use of drugs to medicate children.

Shooters have often been abused at home and at school. Shooters often don’t get with the school’s program, or fit into the schoolyard. The cafeteria is probably a horror. If a student is so crazed that he wants to shoot up the school and the people in it, something is seriously broken.

It the shooter is an adult it is an act of terrorism. (That’s broken too.)

Once a person feels helpless, anger and resentment build, they are hurt and want to hurt others. Probably if that boy who became a shooter had asked the girl he just shot in the head for a date, she would have put her heel in his shoe. But then since the deranged kid already felt he was a loser, he wouldn’t ask.

By the time a shooter has decided to do the deed, they are willing to lose their own life in the process.

That’s rock bottom.

It is hard for someone who values their life to communicate with one who doesn’t value theirs.

Yet, we want out children safe. We do not tolerate violence.

What to do?

We know that mental distress can cause mental illness, continual stimulation of cortisol, and all that brain chemistry I don’t know about can totally screw up a person.

And then there is body chemistry, chemical imbalance, inadequate diet and a constant influx of adrenaline that can instigate thrill, fight or flight—the issue is complex.

End result: We have a person society proclaims to be mentally ill.

Drug them.

Instead of arming the teachers with guns, what about arming them with knowledge. Teach them to notice and care about the child who is sullen, angry, lacking in motivation, getting poor grades and doesn’t care. In the past we shamed them, sent them to the principals' office, or expelled them from school.

In my grade school, there was a boy that if something was out of whack in the classroom, the teacher blamed him, and she was usually right. A man teacher in our fifty grade spanked him in front of the class on a regular basis. I feared that he would end up in jail, but I have seen him at my high school reunion, and he is cool. A nice guy.

This kid and I were once neighbors, and he called me on the phone before our high school reunion encouraging (begging) me to come. Without that call, I probably wouldn’t have gone, and I wouldn’t have found out how cool he had become.

Maybe we had more resilience in those days. I don’t believe anyone entertained the idea of taking a gun to school. Golly, we got busted for chewing gum.

I know that now the teachers would label my friend as hyperactive. He was a skinny little kid with lots of energy.

I’m happy they didn’t ruin him. I do believe that he had an outrageous sense of humor—perhaps that saved him.

Educators and society love the students who excel in their studies.  They get all A’s; they are popular, but what about the ones labeled as Hyperactive, Attention deficient, or Bullies?

Drug them.

If you think tough kids don’t want love, ask why they join gangs.

I know, getting to a sullen, depressed, rude, or quiet child takes Herculean effort. It’s easier to drug them.

My Grandson can deliver a dissertation while circling the room—some children learn better while moving, especially boys.

Yes, I know its complex, and some might say that there will always be crazies, but what if we weren’t so anxious to medicate a Hyperactive child, an attention deficit child, a loner, a misfit, or a bully?

My take on schools is that students can learn the essentials on reading writing arithmetic, oh yes, biology, physics music and art, all that, in a couple of hours a day. Perhaps a better use of their time would be learning how to be a human being, but then, that is a skill few of us understand.

After my rant on the psychological aspects of gun shootings, I looked online and found that gun control in other countries does reduce gun deaths. And you know that in Britain, even the policemen do not carry guns.

Gun-related deaths drop in all Europen countries who have implemented gun control. Guns are virtually absent in Japan.

In Germany it's different, there are more guns in households, and the lowest percentage of gun-related deaths.

A German person must undergo psychological testing to own a gun.

Imagine.

To the student who commented that at least she felt that people cared.

Yes, we care!


Here on this blog, I have struggled with wanting this page to be a positive place to sit. I want it to be motivational. I want people to go for their dream and to believe that it is possible to obtain that dream. Yet, at other times something impacts me like that demonstration outside my window that I didn’t even know Eugene Oregon had planned.

Sometimes we just have to stand up.

Whoops, I stood up and the cat fell off my lap.


P.S. In Jakob the Liar, a 1999 movie, Robin Williams (Jakob) instills hope in a tiny Polish village by saying (lying) about a hidden radio that gives news that the German war is faltering. While the “Authorities,” aka Nazis, have guns, Jacob does not. It appears that if he had had a gun, he might have survived.

Abuse of power.

Not good.

And probably one reason Americans are so adamant about holding onto their guns.

No child should ever have to ask this question:

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Take a Peek Inside



You know how it is when you are in an appliance showroom, you open the classy refrigerators and admire their gleaming pristine interiors?  You can’t help it right? Well, I can’t.

I looked at my refrigerator that same way this morning—clean white interior—all surfaces scrubbed. But then the kitchen behind me looked as though a tornado had dropped its payload on the counter tops.

Oh yes, I’m embarrassed to tell you I threw away a great amount of plastic—I didn’t know what else to do with it. Eugene is not taking recyclable plastic right now. Threw it AWAY?  There is NO AWAY, there is only out of my house and into landfills, and the oceans. CRAP.

When we lived in Hawaii, I thought all garbage should go into the volcano. Wouldn’t that take care of plastic? Turn it into rocks?

I have refrigerators on the brain, and right now, plastics too. I’ve written about refrigerators before, please forgive me for writing about them again, but living without one for six-months made me sensitive to having one or not having one.
 (I love having one.)

And they represent commitment.

When you have refrigerator stuffins’ spread all over the kitchen, you must clean it up. 

You are committed.

Although we didn’t have a refrigerator in Hawaii for a time, we did have an ice chest. Six months into our stay we bought a refrigerator, but then, we didn’t have enough solar power to run it.

We used the freezer compartment of the refrigerator, though, by buying ice and using that small space for essentials—like half and half for coffee, and butter for eggs and bread, and burrito makins’. (Fruit was out there on the trees, waiting to be picked.) The larger, main compartment of the refrigerator held our bottled water.

Fascinating how we can made-do when push comes to shove.

When I was a kid, we had an ice-box. And—just like the movies—an ice-man carried an enormous block of ice on his shoulder into the house and placed it into the ice-box. During the week the ice slowly melted, with the water flowing into a pan at the bottom of the box.  Grandma would take out the pan on a regular basis and throw away the collected water.

And then years later those old wooden refrigerators became a design item.

But back then we kids on the street would follow the ice truck, and the ice-man would give us shards of ice to suck on.

Simple pleasures, and memorable ones.

I’m not suggesting we go back to earlier times, but I am suggesting we appreciate what we’re got, and to know that we are resourceful people.

And all those sandwiches I carried to school were wrapped in waxed paper, not plastic. (Have you ever had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cratered in the center by the apple that molded itself into it?)

Of late I have been using plastic bags instead of paper bags—you know to save the trees, but a day ago my Grandson reminded me that paper bags are recyclable, and if we throw the paper onto the ground it will be gone in a day or so. (Especially in wet Eugene.) "If a fish eats the paper," smart Grandson continued. "He would probably spit it out for it tastes bad, or if he swallowed it, it wouldn't kill him."

Now, since we, especially in the US, use plastic bags on a regular basis, great amounts end up in the ocean choking sea life either with them getting tangled in it or by eating it. I don’t know why they eat it—some bags resemble jellyfish when floating in the water, and some sea-life eat jellyfish. Other plastic strips must look like worms or kelp, and even sand-sized particles of plastic get scooped up by scavengers. Unbeknown to a Momma albatross, and other sea birds, she feeds these particles to her babies.

Gone babies.

Oh dear, I didn’t mean for this to be a muck-raker—maybe an awareness-upper, for I am suffering over the plastic issue.  I began with refrigerators which being made largely of plastic, are a good use for it.

But bags? That’s another story.

Twenty years ago when two friends and I traveled in Germany we saw that no grocery stores provided bags. We even placed produce on a scale, weighted it, and the scale spit out the price on a stamp. We stuck the stamp to the produce, but did not bag the apples oranges, lettuce or whatever.

Customers either brought their own bags, or wheeled their groceries out to the car in their grocery cart and transferred them into a box in the car’s trunk. At home, they carried in the box, emptied the groceries , and replaced the box back into the car.

Simple. Easy.

I came home from Germany championing the cause of no paper or plastic bags. “Carry your own twine, cloth, or paper bag,” I said. Then what did I do? I fell into the lazy zone, and let the grocers bag my groceries.

And even in Eugene Oregon, who this past year created a ban on plastic bags, I would forget my bags and buy paper ones. We live just outside Eugene, in Junction City, and the Grocery here uses plastic bags.

I fell into the trap.

But I have climbed out. Yesterday I filled the car with my cloth bags. (And, of course, we can reuse paper bags if we have them.)

Thanks for reading. Hey, I think I should begin selling reusable bags. I need to come up with a clever design though—maybe quotes, I love quotes. When I came back from Germany, I tried giving away reusable bags and nobody wanted them.

I was ahead of the time.

Now reusable bags are being sold all over the place. People are even making grocery bags out of kitty litter bags and chicken food bags.


 Many thanks for being here,
Jo

Monday, March 12, 2018

Where Would I be Happy?



I love springtime

Long ago, well, in July of 2009, to be exact, during a personal crisis and financial crunch, I stood in amid an Oregon forest, in my horse paddock and lamented this question: “Where would I be happy?’

The answer was immediate. Talk about a thump on the head. And this was after we traveled to numerous places searching for our little spot on the planet. (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, California). I don’t know if it was the Universe speaking, my intuition, God, or wishful thinking, it doesn’t matter, I  listen to all of those voices.

The answer?

“Check out Hawaii on the Internet!”

After I found a beautiful piece of property for half of what we owed in Oregon, my daughter said, “Let’s do it.” (Meaning let’s move there.)

We cleared our house of ten million years of accumulation—well, maybe 20, and packed up a 12 x 24-foot shipping container with stuff we felt we had to have. After our two vehicles left on a big flatbed transport vehicle, aiming for the Seattle Port, one husband, one daughter, one seven-month-old grandson, two dogs and two cats, plus me, flew away to live off the grid in Hawaii.

The story fits into a book called The  Frog’s Song. I think the frog is me. However, frog’s do figure predominately in the story.

A publisher has picked it the story, and the most stupendous editor in the world is editing it. She says The Frog’s Song will be out within two years. TWO YEARS!  Yipes, well it ought to be shorter now, for we are about six months into the process.

The editor gives her input in chapters, I rearrange them, and eventually, we will put all those flayed chapters back together again. I am grieving for I wanted to quote Mark Twain, from the book Mark Twain in Hawaii, Roughing it in the Sandwich Islands. (Hawaii in the 1860’s) He had only shortly before leaving on assignment for the most prominent newspaper on the Pacific Coast, “The Sacramento Union,” adopted the name, Mark Twain. He spoke so eloquently about the islands it made my mouth water, and I bet it would be yours too. The publisher, however, is worried about copyright. We’ll see what happens. It is nice, though, to have a gatekeeper.

Of course, I am wondering if anyone will want to read The Frog’s Song.
I‘m having fun, though, reliving the experience without the nervous expectations, and trauma of the first time around.

Aloha,
Joyce
(Aloha is hello, goodbye, I love you. Aloha is doing good without expecting anything in return. It is a way of life.)