Tuesday, June 23, 2020

From Jo, with Love

I’m assuming that you, like me, have grappled with this dilemma…

Have you ever gone to an art fair and browsed through exquisite paintings, crafts, photographs, and some you would like to buy, but the price tag prohibits it? The artist deserves what they are charging, for I know chances are they spent hours on that painting or sculpture. Even if they did whip it out, they deserve energy in the form on money in exchange for the energy they put into their craft.
By Jenny Armitage, at the Oregon State Fair
 My grapple is charging for my services.

I feel odd charging for something I have created, knowing how much art feeds the soul.

On the other hand I know if you don’t charge you’ll soon go out of business. What a shame.

I’ve paid people, and I have taken a lot of free advice from people willing to give it.

Perhaps these comments ought to end up being my morning pages that Julia Cameron writes about in The Artists Way.

For those who do not know about Morning Pages, they are a way to write out the crap that’s cluttering one’s head, and it’s not for public consumption. With morning pages, you can gripe on the page and then throw it away. It’s a way to put a period at the end of a sentence. You know how thoughts can cycle through then turn around and bite you on the butt.

Morning pages are a way to write without fear of mistakes. It’s letting thoughts pour out through the fingers. Why write it? That way you can put a period at the end of a sentence and be done with it. Who wants to repeat themselves with a pen—you get writer’s cramps.

It’s the best therapy I can think of right now.


I need help turning my thinking around.

What if my art stinks? And who wants to buy it anyway? People are short of funds right now I don’t want to ask them to part with money better spent on survival. And regarding books, who reads these days, and why would they read mine?

Long ago I took a correspondence course from The Art Instruction Institute thinking I wanted to be an artist. Charles Schultz, Peanuts creator, you’ve heard of him, took that course before me, and that convinced me to sign up. Somewhere in the middle of the course when we were doing pen and ink drawings, I came upon the phrase “The Painter with a Pen,” and while the course is long-gone, and I’m not an illustrator, or a cartoonist, I like the idea of being a painter with a pen. For do not words draw upon a page, and with ink?

 Zig Zigler to the rescue!

“It’s the attitude, not the aptitude that determines your altitude,”

I know that half the world–more than half–spend their day doing soulless work. Thus, we ask ourselves, “Why am I different? What makes me think I can pop out of the morass and do what I want?”

Suffer with the world seems to be the mantra.

Well, are you not a child of God destined to do great things? We didn’t come here to be small. We came to live a grand life, and to live abundantly.

Are we someone who settles?

Indeed not! Let’s go for what we want and ask others to come along.

You know there are a few, bless their hearts, that do what they love, and love doing it. And they get paid for their services.

It doesn’t matter whether you like them or not, what matters is that they believe they deserve to be paid, and they do.

Motivational speakers are hot on that trail, and people flock to them for inspiration and advice. Their clients plunk down money, often running up their credit cards to do it.

The BELIEF is that these people can help them accomplish what their soul is desirous of. It’s a belief that they can live their dreams if only someone points the way. And if they do find their way, their money is well spent. But you know that all the motivation talk in the world doesn’t do diddly squat, if we don’t let it in, and take action.

From old Zig’s wonderful drawl: “Some say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing. That’s why we do it daily.”

And so, I searched the web for his Attitude vs Aptitude quote and found one of Zig’s talks:

  • Recognize when you’re down.
  •  Set a limit on it—know it is temporary, and set a get up and go day.
  •  Wake up in the morning and say, “Today I’m going to give it my best shot.”
  •  Do it with a smile.
  •  Attitude, like the flu, is catching. Associate with positive people, avoid nay-Sayers.
  •  Measure your success, not against others, but with what you could have done.

Zig’s podcast segued into a commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania given by Denzel Washington:

“You will fail at some part of your life.”

“You will suck sometimes. “

“Don’t quit.”

 “I never understood the concept of ‘have something to fall back on.’” said Washington. “Fall forward.”

Do you have the guts to fail? What are you going to do with our one glorious life?

After Washington failed two auditions in a theater in NY, he went onto many more failures. Thirty years after that first audition, he was back in that same theater performing Fences, for which he won an Emmy.

We find ourselves in an odd world condition. But we will get out of it. We will find our passion again.

Why wait?

We need encouragement, passion, more now that ever.

Do it now.

Okay. After that input, I’m off and running. I wrote the first edition of my newsletter “Where Tigers Belch.”

I'm doing the thing I've failed at before, write a newsletter--more of a journal, but this time It's my journey to find that spot where the tiger belches. He belches right on the spot where magic happens.

A newsletter cometh. FREE first copy below.

Volume 1, June 21, 2020

May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poet’s towers into dark primeval forest where tigers belch, and monkeys howl…beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”–Edward Abbey 

Have you ever had one of those days where you felt off?

You were out of sorts, irritable, thinking that nothing was going right? You were mad at the world and mad that things weren’t going according to plan. You were angry that you aren’t further along on your enlightenment trail, and wondering what in the heck enlightenment is anyway. 

You could search for years and never find that spot where the tiger belches, where you are calm, and believe that all’s right with the world. It is the place where you feel invincible.  

I understand the gap. Best to back off. Go into your hut, take a nap, pet that baby cheetah that was sleeping on your bed, and listen to it purr. (I’ve heard that they have a purr like a lawnmower, and if they lick you, your skin will feel like it has been sanded.) Decide at that moment that you will be fresh tomorrow, and you are not going to push it today.

Tomorrow, you think, I will take my backpack. I will add a few bottles of water, a couple of sandwiches, and set off to find my destiny.

This is the purpose of Where the Tigers Belch—more a journal than a newsletter. It is an investigation into finding our purpose, and learning that we are magnificent beings on the road to greatness.

Page 2

We’re not on safari here, although I wish we were. We’re here to find the spot, that spot that lights our fire. That’s where the tiger belches.

 I could say sleeps or lies down, or roars, but I like Abby’s lyrical poem, so I’m saying, “Where he belches.”While in Africa, Martha Beck found herself in an awkward and dangerous place. She was between a Momma rhinoceros and her baby. Standing there looking at an animal the size of a Volkswagen bus, she experienced a strange phenomenon. She was frightened, yes, but she was also elated. She was at a place she had dreamed of since childhood, and at that moment that rhinoceros represented her one true nature. She felt that somehow, she had come face to face with her destiny. (Between a rhino and a hard place?)

Perhaps that rhino was a talisman for her, a representation of what she could become: big, strong, able to overcome obstacles, that thing that both scares us and elates us. We just hope we live to tell of it.

Being at a spot where a tiger belches has a gentler ring than coming face to face with a rhino. The purpose is the same.

The teacher Abraham talks about the vortex. That’s her description of that place where
 you are experiencing your highest self, and that’s the place where miracles happen.

Tony Robbins pumps up his energy, and the energy of the audience by standing, moving, dancing, yelling, for we know that not much happens when we are in a slump, or bored, or lackadaisical.

I’m using the word miracles loosely here, for I think a miracle is divinely sent by grace, maybe asked for, maybe not.

However, Creating at the spot where the tiger belches is an intentional, thought induced action.
I don’t think we can take credit for all we have produced, for I believe in muses, and divine intervention.  However, we can take credit for finding that spot in the jungle where the tiger belches, and where the magic happens.

You think we’re small? Don’t believe it.

I’m excited about this journey and can’t wait to begin. If you’re not into jungle walks or then grab a Starbucks latte or Dutch Bros. and come along sipping as you walk.

In the morning we’ll begin.

The Next issue will begin July 21, 2020


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A View from My Desk

 Nobody told me in the ad that my recently purchased item could be assembled with basic tools in three easy steps—a good thing because it couldn’t. I searched the Internet, found a desk I liked and bought it.

 Online stores must like people like me.

When I opened the box, I saw at least 100 pieces, not including screws, or those little wooden dowels you fit and glue into little wooden holes. (Glue included.) Tracks that supported the drawers needed to be screwed to the sides of four drawers, and their slip-tracks needed screwed into the desk’s walls to support the tracks. Four drawers had four sides and a bottom. There was a heavy iron frame that supported the bridge-like desk, and the top of the desk was so heavy I couldn’t lift it. All these items plus the box it came in and the Styrofoam that protected it were spread out on the living room floor.

Call Casey.

Casey is my grandson. He’s 14 -year-old and a master builder, on top of that he likes doing it.

Three evenings later, I had a desk.

That freed up my kitchen table where I had been writing. 

Remember the desk I had in Hawaii where I wrote all those blogs, and I could look out over the expanse of grass that was enlivened every morning by the Goddess of the Green? Oh, you had to be there. Or have read The Frog’s Song. My desk extended along one wall had a corner piece and another portion that Zoom Zoom, our cat, claimed. Zoom Zoom became brave after we moved to Oregon—even wandering up the street and sleeping in the neighbor’s yard, but in Hawaii, he was terrified. The desk was his haven, it was where he slept, ate, and grew fat. He left it only long enough to use the litter box. (Thank heavens.) Then, as though on springs, he bounced back to his spot.

He tip-toed out onto the porch one day then quickly scurried back inside. He must have thought that something big and scary was out there. But we had no bears, raccoons or snakes, only feral cats, rats, mongooses, and wild pigs. Nothing that would hurt him, but he must have figured, you can’t be too careful.

Well, there was one particular storm in Hawaii that made my blood curdle, and I’m generally not afraid of rain, but the coconuts were dropping like bombs, so a little kitty cat best stay indoors.

Are we afraid of coconuts falling?

There is always something to be afraid of, isn’t there? A virus, going against the rules, social disapproval, job loss, no food, no shelter, no one to care for us, wild boars.  

Yesterday I heard Abraham tell of being on a plane where the flight attendant told the mother not to get out of her seat. She had three children, two beside her and a little boy across the aisle. When the plane’s engines roared, and the acceleration of the engines thrust him back into his seat, the little boy, separated from his mother, was terrified. 

Finally allowed out of her seat, the mother cradled the little boy in her arms and cooed in his ear, “It’s okay. Everything is okay.”

I would have been out of my seat, flight attendant, or not. Now I want to take all the frightened souls in my arms and say, “It’s okay.”

The parent in us needs to calm the child in us and say, “It’s okay. Everything is going to be all right.”

There are people trying to frighten us. Hell, they are terrorizing us. Remember, frightened people are controllable, and controllers like manageable people. 

Fear keeps us from our power.

I’m not saying we should run amuck, I’m saying question authority. Be in command of your own life. (One reader said, “I think I should go out and catch the virus and start herd immunity.) Most of those in command are mucking around, not knowing what is happening any more than we do. And you know the media has hyped this coronavirus to white-hot intensity. And you notice that when race became an issue, they hopped right on over to that. (Black lives have always mattered—why in the hell haven’t we moved past bigotry? I thought we were smarter than that.)

It’s time we thought for ourselves, instead of waiting for someone to tell us what to do. I was shocked to see how quickly people hopped to the prescribed way.  Wave around something scary, tell people to go home and stay there. And they do it.

Doesn't that frighten you a little?

Oh, I was talking about my desk wasn’t I? I’d offer you a coffee, but I am a distance away. But I will go to the kitchen and warm up a cup from my French Press (that keeps coffee tasting good for an entire day). You get your coffee, tea, or bourbon, whatever floats your boat, and come back. We have places to go and promises to keep. 

My Naturopath says that coffee is dehydrating, and I should drink a glass of water for each cup—no wonder I spend so much time in the bathroom.

I’m back.

The coffee is hot, the roses have fresh water, the cat is Obi.

Have you noticed that the world has gotten so serious that we’re afraid to be frivolous? 

Where’s the fun?

To repeat myself with Clarence Darrow’s quote, #“If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.”
(Published on another post titled Ha, April 10, 2020—a dear reader reminded me of it.)

One Epidemiologist said that we are killing more people with this lock down than the virus is. 

People aren’t meant to be lonely. People aren’t built for continual fear. Fear should be short-lived, to protect us from danger, fight, or flight, not a constant strain. People are made for interaction, for free speech—not to be muffled. We came here to live abundantly.

Nelson Mandela (30 years in prison) said something to this effect: that you can imprison my body, but not my soul, or my spirit.

Victor Frankl (a holocaust survivor) said that it’s man’s search for meaning that sustains him.

Joseph Campbell isolated himself for about three years, and mainly, he read. Since he was interested in mythology, he chose that subject. He emerged the premiere authority on The Power of Myth.

We could consider this time to be an awakening. As nature is thriving from a reprieve from us, so could we consider this to be a time of healing instead of a time of sorrow.

“There’s an innate human goodness that shows up when our newborn is laid on our chest, or when we see somebody in pain. Everyone has the capacity to care. And sometimes it just gets blocked. We become hardened when we’ve been hurt.”—Jared Seide, from a Sun Magazine interview.

My daughter, who is a caregiver, asked me why some people just keep the TV on, and there is the news in the background, and they have no reaction to it? Sometimes the most horrendous happenings are shown, and do they get up and turn it off the screen, or be horrified? No. No response. Nothing. 

Search for your passion.

Don’t let the world beat you down or numb you.

We need our tribe, someone who cares for us, someplace safe where we can share ideas without fear of ridicule. We can debate, but this polarization—I’m right, you’re wrong, has got to stop.

There is a room in a castle in Germany called the Rose Room. In the days when people lived in the castle, The Rose Room was sacrosanct, meaning what was said in that room was sacred, and stayed in that room. You could discuss whatever—rather like Get Smart’s Cone of silence. (Get Smart was a TV show, do you remember it? His cone of silence was a joke, though, it didn’t work—rather like pulling up one’s mask so the other person can understand what you are saying.)

People come from different belief systems, and I see how we, I, go to the areas that support that belief. As a result, sometimes, that belief becomes gospel. (That’s how we lose the scientific method when “Being right,” overrides “Truth.” Even scientists are people.

And there are those on the opposite side who have their beliefs, their interests, and they to go to literature, movies, or research areas that support that belief.

Then we come together—two separate lines of thought--and beat each other up. (Sometimes literally. Sometimes figuratively.)

There must be arbitrators in the world that can talk people down, that can see different sides, and thus calm souls in turmoil.

“It’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay. You are a powerful being, meant for great things—that’s the reason they are trying to keep us down.

Well, they don’t know who they are dealing with.

“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”-- Dinos Christianopoulos.

“You have been granted 2 billion seconds on this planet, give or take. You are a billionaire! Many billionaires, however, squander most of their fortune on bitter recriminations about how unfair everything is. Many of them are right, and it really is unfair. But you won’t get a refund from the universe for the time you spent brooding about the unfairness. You lose them just as surely as a second spent experiencing joy, only they don’t even give you something nice to remember them by.”-- Megan McArdle, Boomerang

Megan reminded me that politics is not the most crucial thing in the world. It’s just the one people talk about the most. That’s because everyone shares the government; only you are married to your spouse, and you live with your family.