Tag Archives: Thoughts on Life

Another Year Turns

Tis the end of a year. The first dawning breaths of a new one.

Its been a very long year. A year of political and emotional unrest. It seems at times like we have taken so very many giant steps backward. Actually, we have. But, then again, we haven’t. Not in the truest sense. For every roll back of rights, of gained ground, there has been push back. Even the leaders in our armed forces have stood for the rights of the LGBT community.

Things look dire at times. But, I think we have to shift our gaze and stop looking at the capitals and start looking at the communities. Yes, we have had Nazi flags and white supremacists marching down the streets. But, we have also had huge corporations starting to pull from states, cities that promoted laws of intolerance. Stories of sexual misconduct is nothing new to any woman, particularly when involving men of power. Yet, even the most anti woman rights members of Congress are calling for reform and investigation. Many at the top of their specific ladder have tumbled to the ground. And dialogue is opening about these things. Not all of it is good, but it seems to be moving in the right direction.

It may be that all that has happened shall have a positive result. We have become complacent in our maintaining of our governing bodies. Maybe we are learning. We shall see this year.

My life has been a roller coaster as well. Loss of a long term job. A short stint with another job, which is now gone as well. Was only a contract, but there was the hope for more. But, there is hope for a better promise around the corner. I passed the test, which is the first step. May be the new year will give me this position and send my life on a totally different path.

I now have an art studio. And even with all the stress that life has thrown at me this year, I have found time and inspiriation to keep creating. I have found friends to share with on these paths. I have grown and learned much this past year.

I don’t make New Year Resolutions. I think they are a recipe for failure. Virtually no one fulfills them. Instead, what I have been trying to do is to give myslef a direction to keep aiming for. Maybe I should start making them a list that I keep adding to.

So, I think it doesn’t need to be said that I shall keep making art.
I will learn to relax more and try and take better care of myself.
And I will try and break the habit, once I get a new job, of not taking vacations. I need to spend time with people I love. I need to get away a bit once in a while. Maybe not to exotic places, but some time away. With people.
And I should probably try and get out a bit more.
And through it all, I will make more art.
Because as long as people can keep making art, there is hope for the world.

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

The Lost Art Of Communication – Safety Screens

I actually started this a while back from a different angle.  I may add those parts in as serial installments at some time as I feel this is an ongoing subject that needs some serious pondering.  So, aside from that little introduction, on with the piece.

Communication has become a misnomer in our society anymore.  We are dysfunctional, divided and biased without full information.  The news has been reduced to short feeds on our phones, quarter paragraphs on the websites and sound bites on the television.  We connect, arrange and break up through the safety screen.  This makes it so easy to not have to deal with the messy interaction of emotions, self-reflection, or taking of responsibility for our actions and seeing the possible destruction our actions have caused.

Case in point.  I just had a multi-year relationship end via a 3 paragraph e-mail.  No in person discussion, no voice talk.  Just a simple safe e-mail, where the other party didn’t have to deal with the pain that was caused as a result of their decision.  The reason for it was because I had the audacity to get angry that they had made plans to have friends out on my birthday weekend almost 2 months ago and I only find out the week before my birthday.  Yet, I am in the wrong.  I am abusive because I say it is thoughtless and disrespectful to not speak of this well in advance.  I’m not even worthy of a phone call for this.  Just an e-mail so they can have the last word and walk away from the wreckage without a single look back.It is like I was a file on their computer that had been sitting around for too long and simply swept into the recycle bin during the latest housekeeping.  I wonder how many of us now find ourselves sent out for recycling?

The saddest part of this is that it could have been handled so very differently.  Communicating early on, accepting it could get a bit emotional and messy, but that is part of life.  I believe this had more to do with his inability to find the contract work he needed to make the trips out since he retired.  Something I had even asked him about on occasion and was told that wasn’t the case.  I have known it would come to an end at some point because of his retiring in another state.  So, I wonder how much of this was needing to create a situation rather than admit I was right and he had failed to find the jobs he was so certain he would get.  The truth is, it wouldn’t have made him any less in my eyes, it’s just how things are sometimes.  I would have been hurt.  Maybe angry for a little bit.  But it, at least, would have been something I had both been expecting and could live with.  It would have changed the relationship.  Granted, it would have taken some time to get used to, but when you care for people, you work through things.  You find ways.  You fight for the relationships that have meaning.  They don’t come along very often.  You don’t just sweep them into the trash because you made promises you can’t keep.  Because its easier to throw it in the trash rather than ride out the storm.  So you shatter what could have been reformed a bit with a little patience and real communication.

Were this an isolated incident, it would be one thing.  But it isn’t.  People talk through screens, make plans through them, organize and create their lives through them.  They are the greatest hiding devices in the world.  You can be anyone you want to be, say anything you want to say.  Hell, even the man in the white house shoots out angry tweets at anyone that displeases him that day.  The sad truth is that is how he got there in the first place.  So, it is no wonder that it has become the common way we deal with our lives.  Nor is it any wonder that we don’t understand why things are the way they are.  One of the more ironic things is the fact that he and I used to make comments about other people conducting their lives, breaking up, etc., via their phones or other electronic devices, what cowards they were to not handle such things face to face.  And yet, he also chose the coward’s way out.

We cannot as individuals or as a society build bridges if we remain behind a safety screen.  If we stand in a place where we believe that we can do what we want without taking anyone else’s feelings or expectations into consideration.  Alliances, friendships and all relationships are complicated workings.  They don’t always run the way we want them to.  But, if we step from behind the safety screens, we may find that there was more worth saving than we thought.  And in the interim, it shall be a very sad birthday this year.

SephiPiderWitch
September 9, 2017

 

Blind Curves: A Woman, a Motorcycle, and a Journey to Reinvent Herself

Blind Curves: A Woman, a Motorcycle, and a Journey to Reinvent Herself by Linda Crill

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I was looking for awakenings, insights, and interesting stories on the journey. However, the author was fixated through the entire book on her motorcycle, learning to ride it, maneuver it, etc. And though I can understand how that needed to be a part of the book, she rarely deviated from it. She made the entire Pacific Northwest route where she gave only a couple of pages to the surroundings. Overall, I found the book tedious lacking in atmosphere and engaging storytelling. The author is used to giving talks and speeches before crowds for work she does. And maybe that is where the problem is. She writes like someone standing before a crowd trying to do an infomercial. I actually found myself skimming through areas of the book so that I could reach the end, hoping that she would something of real interest. Ah well, maybe the next book.

 

April 2 – How I spent my day

How I spent my day today.

  1. Washed linen
  2. Made bed
  3. Made weeks worth of fruity/veggie cups for morning shakes
  4. Played with Cassie
  5. Cleaned kitchen
  6. Played with Cassie
  7. Cleaned laundry room and took bags of clothes out to garage to go to thrift store
  8. Played with Cassie (she thinks everytime I get done with something, its playtime)
  9. Put pot of eggs on to boil
  10. Went outside to look at yard and started talking to neighbor.
  11. Checked status of decomposition of vole.
  12. Had nice conversation before realizing eggs were still on stove and squealed and ran back inside
  13. Brushed debris off patio table
  14. Collected pot fragments from exploded planter from freeze (made some really neat swirls!)
  15. Moved makeshift bench from behind shed to by fire pit.
  16. Made bath water for birds.
  17. Argued with birds over giving them new cake when there was still some of last cake in feeder.
  18. Took hay forky thing to move brush and cuttings needing burning to different location few feet away.
  19. Moved makeshift bench to where brush was before moving.
  20. Arranged long sleeve tops in closet by color.
  21. Played with Cassie
  22. Watched episode of Grace and Frankie while doing little work on hot pink spider pussy hat.
  23. Played on computer for a while.

And just realized I should probably find a few minutes to wander out tomorrow and take a few pictures of what I did today.

 

Because – Art and Starry Night!

Sometimes it seems there is just too much hate and ugliness in the world.  Though there are many experts that continue to assert that in spite of what we see in the news, we are, in reality, becoming a more peaceful species.  Maybe it is because we so love a good horror story, a scare that gets our adrenaline pumping and springs us into action.  It does sell papers and jumps the ratings on TV stations.

One cannot ignore the bad news stories.  The horrors of what religious fanaticism and the hatred it breeds can reduce some humans to do.  For, if we don’t pay attention to such things, we have no hope to find answers to change such things.

But, we must also call to mind the beauty of what we can be.  The greatness we can achieve.  It is the beauty and the art that allows us to rise above the tragedy.  And though we cannot always “Make Great Art” as Neil Gaiman says, sometimes it is enough to just appreciate the act of another doing so.
Found this clip this morning on a feed.

Sephi PiderWitch
June 15, 2016SPW Logo

 

Imagine

Google-ImagineMy heart is just breaking.  A man walked into a gay nightclub and killed 50 people and wounded at least 53 more.  Total strangers.  Not in a war zone, not in defense.  Simply because they were gay and living out loud.

They say they believe he is Muslim.  But, that doesn’t matter.  I have heard enough from the Christian pulpit saying as well that gays should be killed.  And from many other religions.

Why?

Why can’t the religious people just not allow people to live on their own terms?

Why must they spread fear and hatred and death?  And yes, I hold all the religious people responsible that condemn those that are different.  Whether you pull the trigger yourself or not, you hold a responsiblity.  You feed the anger, the hatred.

Why must people hate anything that is different?

When you call a Trans person a pedophile, you feed the hatred.  When you call a gay an abomination, you feed the hatred.  When you call an atheist a blight, you feed the hatred.  When you excuse the rapist, you feed the hatred.  For every time you speak such words, you strip a bit of the humanity that that person has.  You make it far easier for the gunman to justify his actions.  For your words of hatred tell him that he is doing humanity a service, that he is a hero.

Your religion doesn’t make you a better person.  It doesn’t give you the right to stand in judgement.  It doesn’t give you the right to pull the trigger or throw the punch.  I really don’t care if you keep your religion.  Just keep it held deeply to your breast.  Its judgement applies only to you.  Not to your neighbor or the man or woman in the next city or across the country.  Your color doesn’t make you better.  It just means you maybe burn easier.  For, under the skin, we all bleed the same blood.  We all have the same organs.

And if your religion tells you to kill, to demean, to hate, to disenfranchise, to discriminate.  Maybe you might want to rethink that religion.

My son is gay, so this hits me very hard.  My son is an amazing person.  The world is a better place for him being here.  His gayness is simply who he is drawn to.  The beauty of his soul is his gift to the world.  The brilliance of his mind is his gift to the world.

If your religions believe he is wrong, then I wish you the most Godspeed to any God or Hell that may await you in the next life.  And if your God, if he exists (which I don’t believe he does)  truly finds my son and others like him to be wrong, then I hope that karma finds a way to send him to the deepest bowels of his hell to be food for his demons.

And now I shall listen to John again.  He seemed to understand better 45 years ago than we do now.

Sephi PiderWitch
06/12/2016      SPW Logo

 

 

2016 – Connection

Happy New Year 2016 replace 2015 concept on the sea beach

I haven’t quite started this new year off well.  Weeks late on a first post and a couple weeks behind on my weekly photo shots.  Ah well, better late than never.

In closing the book on the old year, it feels good to move forward and hope for the best.  For many, for the world, 2015 had been a very rough year.  People being shot for drawing pictures some found offensive, people being shot for no good reason.  Rivers of hate speech flowing from every corner of the earth, from the pulpits, the media, the high level politicians.  Cries of persecution from the persecutors,   The only right that seems to be protected is the right to hate, to denigrate to second class citizen any who don’t share the beliefs of the bullies.

One would think that by this time we had figured out how to learn from history, but it appears to not be the case.  We  point fingers at one group, yet fail to see those same behaviors in ourselves.  Too blinded by the hate frenzy to see the very human face of the person we will throw under the bus.   Adding fuel to the already blazing inferno, we are in an electronic propaganda war where we are fed snippets that are either partial truths or outright lies.

And this, I believe, is the biggest part of the problem.  We no longer connect.  We no longer touch.   We are too busy looking at our computers, our TV screens, our tablets to see the humans before us, around us, that are us.  We do almost everything from an electronic device.  We get our news from Facebook and Twitter and even the news outlets have gone to a captioned image format.  And, as is the case and purpose of headlines, we are fed bites to incite, inflame, stir.

That has always been the case with the news and many other introductory arenas.  What is different now is that it seems that is all that is consumed before moving on.  There used to be discussions, in the coffee houses, at dinner, at breakfast, at parties and gatherings.   The story was read beyond the headline, the person was questioned beyond the introduction.  Conversation was a vital ingredient.  Understanding the issue was a vital ingredient.  The headline was simply to get your attention.  You were supposed to read further, to seek understanding, knowledge, insight.

I miss long conversations with friends around a table.  I miss long conversations on the phone with a dear friend.  As dated as it makes me, I miss a written correspondence from a friend.  And I miss the e-mail lists where there were discussions on issues, happenings,

People say it is just a sign of the changes of the times.  However, not all changes are good.  And though technology is, for the most part, a good thing, even a good thing misused can become a bad thing.  We read our smart phones and get our news from twitter, have our emotions jarred by memes on Facebook and get our smiles from kitten videos.  If we can’t say it in less than 140 characters, we know no one will trouble themselves to read it.  I actually listened to a man at my writing group the other night say that he kept the chapters in his book to only a few pages because publishers say that is the extent of a reader’s attention span.  Really???  I sincerely hope that is not true.

There have been a number of recent articles on what we have lost with the loss of letter writing.

I found this in the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/culture/charlottehigginsblog/2012/oct/23/lost-art-letter-writing)

But still… O’Connell quotes this lovely passage from a piece by Catherine Field in the New York Times.

“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.These things, letters we can hold and read over and over again, conversations that inspire, delight, fuel us.”

Words are the keys to our hearts.  They are the cement that bonds people together as they speak and learn and share and understand.  They are a stew pot whose ingredients alone are a bland or harsh side dish, but when combined, form a sustaining meal that will nourish the soul.

You look at the political arena, the News Media, the Pulpit  and from their words believe that we are all galaxies apart.  Aliens living in a segregated landscape that is separated by a vast divide, impossible to cross.  And because we don’t look up from that picture, we buy into it.  We turn from people whose beliefs differ from ours, whose political stand differ from ours.  The reality is that in most cases, if we can step away from those issues that divide and simply extend our hand in friendship, sit down and have a cup of coffee, share stories, and find common ground, we may find in most cases, we aren’t so different.  We may find that we have missed that simple connection of laughing with a new friend.  And blur that edge that a few have set between us to divide us.  It is far more difficult (though not impossible) to hate someone you know than it is to hate a stranger.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  But, I can hope for a New Year’s solution.  That we add a bit of the old back into the new.  That along with our smart phones and Facebooks and electronic gizmos, that we have a long phone call, take a walk in the woods, catch up with old friends, meet some new ones, some of whom don’t share our beliefs.  Find a divide and cross it.  Our real country motto is, Out of many, one.  We destroy hate when we blur the lines.  We blur the lines when we reach out to each other and touch.  When we touch, the divide goes away and those that would teach hate lose their power.

Holding Hands

Sephi PiderWitch
01/18/2016

 

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Mortality by Christopher HitchensI knew this book was going to be a difficult read when I picked it up.  The surprising thing was that I picked it up at the small local library.  Makes me wonder if they knew who Hitch was before adding it to their shelves.  Maybe they did and that would seriously elevate them in my opinion.

The title, “Mortality”, pretty much tells you what the book is about.  And given that it is written by Hitchens will tell anyone who knows anything about him that he handled this as he handled everything else he wrote or spoke about.  With brutal honesty.

Through the short book, Hitchens takes us on the journey that was to be the rest of his life, the tests, the radiation, the sickness, the effects and tolls it takes on his body.  Christopher Hitchens was diagnose with Esophageal cancer in 2010.  To one of the most erudite speakers of modern times, I can’t imagine a worse place he could have been inflicted.

The book is hearbreaking in its honesty, as Hitchen’s not only recounts ancedotes from office visits, the treatements, the doctors, caregivers.  He also shares the vileness that people can reach even when a person is down by sharing some of the hate mail he received, the betrayals of people baiting his misfortune to fuel their agenda,  i.e. ending an interview with comments about just rewards from God,

Though I am not  surprised, I am grateful to Hitchens for writing such a painfully honest book about dying, about the fraility of the human body and the very human scream that “I wasn’t finished yet!”
We lost a wordsmith of the highest degree when we lost Hitchens and a debater that knew few, if any rivals.  And we lost a man who cared very deeply about his fellow human beings, his world and leaving it a better place than when he entered.

We haven’t heard the last from him though.  He left many writings that haven’t been published.  And his wife’s afterward tells you that she will begin to work on giving us all he wanted to share with the world.

Mortality is a brilliant book that will inflame you, touch you, bring a tear to your eye and a fire in your heart.  Whether you believe, or don’t believe, as Christoper did, and even more if you do not, it will give you a glimpse into the true humanity of the man many know simply as “Hitch.”

SephiPiderWitch
01/07/2016

 

Plain Red Wrappings

This year's holiday season red cups at Starbucks have stirred up critics who accuse the company of waging a war on Christmas.Sometimes ridiculous just hits levels that cause you to give yourself whiplash from how sharply you jerk your head to the side in disbelief.  The latest such case is the one about the new Starbucks Holiday cup.  And it is being condemned by the religious community at large all the way up to presidential candidates as the latest assault on the “War on Christmas”.  And what is so very shocking about this inflammatory cup, one may ask.  Its simply red with the Starbucks logo on it in green.  Well, what else is there that is causing such a controversy?  Nothing.  Yes, but what is the source of the reason for the controversy?  NOTHING.   Literally, NOTHING.

It seems if you choose to opt out of choosing sides, of trying to decide what images will or won’t inflame someone, or some group out there, and go with a plain, undecorated (aside from the company logo) red cup, you have declared War on Christmas and a War on Christianity.

Originally, I was just going to laugh this whole thing off.  However after giving it some thought, I realized that this has presented probably the most glaring example of how ridiculous this whole accusation has become.  And reading some of the comments people left on the news item clearly shows that I was not the only one that found it placed very firmly beyond the extreme line.

The truth is that it seems almost like the opposite of the Draw Mohammed thing.  Draw any depiction of him in any form and you can be put to death.  Well, if you fail to offer the appropriate supplications to the glitter god of Christianity, you will be picketed, persecuted, publicly shamed.  (Though they all still seem to be using the internet, google and all those other very convenient tools created by the apostates and heretics)

Granted, we have not yet progressed to the point of putting people to death for their beliefs, though the talk of such things gets louder and from a greater number of pulpits.  I suppose time will tell on this.

Now, I can’t profess to know what the execs at Starbucks were thinking when they came out with the plain red cup.  If I was to follow my logic, it would be that they chose this as a way of avoiding the firestorm that any symbol/s they might choose to grace their cups with.    And I have to imagine that they were probably found sitting around that same conference table after the shitstorm began scratching their heads and saying, “How they hell did they get to War on Christmas from a plain red cup?”

Note to Christians.  Failure to bow before your “god” is NOT a war on your holiday or your religion.  It is simply a person choosing not to subscribe to your belief.  Acknowledgement that there are many that do not share your belief and honoring them with a blank slate to create their own is NOT a war on “your” tradition.  They gave you a blank cup.  You can draw anything on it that you want.  Or nothing.  Your religious beliefs are not being restricted and persecuted because you cannot force the entire country to bend to them.

This whole thing would be funnier than hell if it wasn’t so common and being pushed at such high levels.  We even have presidential candidates that have said if they are elected, Everyone will say “Merry Christmas”.  I wish people would really sit down and let that sink in for a bit.  EVERYONE will say “Merry Christmas”.  How different is this than the countries that control and prosecute non-Muslims?  Maybe we aren’t throwing them in jail or executing them.  Or at least not yet.  It is only a difference by degree, and that degree is becoming closer and closer all the time.  That is a truly scary notion.

This season doesn’t just belong to one religion, one belief.  It belongs to almost all beliefs.  The blank slate of the red cup at Starbucks gives everyone the canvas to celebrate what it means to them.  I don’t know if that is what their intent is.  Or if it was a stepping back.  Or if it was just plain cheaper.  But, I do not believe it was a war on the season.  Its just a red and green cup for the season that will hold a hot beverage to warm you on a cold day.  Granted, its an overpriced hot beverage.  But, its simply a hot cup.   That’s red with a green logo.  There are far greater things in this world that need our energies.  A red cup does not.

And to end, just a little sampling of some of the celebrations for the closing of the year.

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Viewing the World Through a Peephole

2496peephole-640x480Facebook, Twitter, even the major news sites, now word bites, scrolling headlines and momentary brushes with the world making people feel informed and in the know.  The newspaper has fallen to the wayside.  Investigative reporting focused more on the latest Kardashian trend and what Jaylo had for breakfast than world or national news that has real impact on our lives, our futures.

The more I contemplate this, the more bothered I am about it.  Though the reality is that history is always written by the victor/conqueror, at least with a written account from someone, you can call to task the words that were said yesterday and hold them up as a mirror to the words today.  Also dying to the point of near extinction is the expose journalism that spawned such shows as 60 Minutes and its ilk.  The age of brevity seems to be sweeping the age of understanding into the dusty recesses of the room.

Now, I am not against technology.  Nor am I against the quick dispersal of information that we have available with the information highway.  It has its place and serves up to us the ability to have our pulse on the world’s happenings if we are interested.  However, the problem is that too many have become headline readers only.  They browse their Twitter feed, their Facebook feed, the headlines of whatever Reader they are using and call themselves “informed”.  But, I have learned, from speaking with many that claim that they are “informed” and they do follow through and read these full articles. That in most cases, they do not.  Nor do many check the sources of the stories they take as truth.  “I saw it on Facebook, so it must be true.”  And yes, we have all had moments where we react too swiftly to memes and such and get swept up in the flurry of messages and click that share button.

Additionally, the evening news is more like Good Morning America than a newscast.  There seems to be a much greater emphasis placed on making it a feel good place to watch, like sitting in a room of friends, than anything resembling in depth clean reporting.  You have Fox with an accuracy rating of 18% and dropping, MSNBC which though its accuracy is slightly higher, has been listed as being mostly opinion.  I’ll argue that Fox is as guilty or more so in that realm as well.  And even though CNN has almost double the accuracy points and reliability, that still is not a record to tout.

I wonder how much the folding of so many newspapers had to do with this.  For now, you no longer have the archived stacks of papers to prove what was said last week, last month, last year.  Yes, you have You Tube and Internet archives.  But, it doesn’t have the same feel as that folded paper read over morning coffee.

The media, the power and money behind the media are fully aware of all of this, play on it and manipulate it to their greatest advantage.  They know and make use of the fact that what was known today, incited anger yesterday, was the driving force last week, will either be forgotten or marginalized by the next election, the next battle.

I remember many years ago reading 1984 by George Orwell.  He predicted all of this in the pages of the novel.  Actually, “predicted” may not be the correct word, as it implies the gazing in a crystal ball or receiving visions or knowledge from a mystic oracle.  His predictions were based on what he saw, where he saw technology going and how it would be used and manipulated based on human and societal natures.  His Newspeak is becoming more prevalent in the media.  News is being transmitted in feeds much like the ticker tapes of the stock exchange.  Facts or details changed and rearranged on a minute by minute basis.  The general population believing every word that is transmitted and dismissing lingering questions regarding what they “thought they heard” in a previous report.  The enemies of the State today were yesterday’s friends of the State.  And the country was involved in a never-ending war.  I think I may need to pull this book off my shelf and read it again.  Its been many years and I would like to see how much more I am missing.

The bottom line is we are dumbing down and becoming a surface only society.  We view the world through a peephole.  Its a place of safety where we can see what is out there before we open our door to potential annoyance or danger.  But, it only gives us a tiny and distorted view of the world.  We don’t see the truth through its lens.  We see a partial image that blurs and twists at the edge.  And we cannot live behind that lens forever.  If we do, we condemn ourselves to a fractional life and a world we are delivering to the Big Brothers who are already far too powerful.  There’s nothing wrong with looking through the peephole before we step out.  To get a glimpse that we may brace ourselves for before proceeding.  But, we mustn’t stop there.  We must step over the threshhold and immerse ourselves into the reality of all that is.  We need the full story, not just the first 144 characters.

SephiPiderWitch
06/03/2015