What Do You Need?


Ah, the holidays. The week before Thanksgiving Black Friday ads begin. Print ads in the newspaper, pop-ups online, an onslaught of email, television. The bombardment doesn’t end until the after Christmas sales are over.

Black Friday,

Small Business Saturday,

Cyber Monday.

All commercial creations designed to part you from your hard-earned cash.

Hey, I enjoy getting the jump on Christmas shopping, but by the time Thanksgiving is over, I’m sick of the holiday hard-sell.

Seeing Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving doesn’t do anything to get me in the spirit.

I’m lucky. I have all that I need: a roof over my head, food, car that runs, meaningful work, internet access, and plenty of interests to keep me occupied. I’m grateful for every ounce of it and painfully aware that so many don’t have any of those things.

I’ve had lean times in my life when I had to decide between buying toothpaste or something to eat. (I brushed my teeth with some baking soda that had been deodorizing the back the empty fridge for months and bought some bologna. Good times.)

But the lean times taught me to be frugal. Whenever I’m going to buy anything from land to lunch, I ask myself what I need first.

What do you need? What do you friends and family need?

I have many people in my life who don’t have as much as I do. The same questions apply. I want to gift them with something they really need or want instead of some silly item they won’t use. Giving someone kitchen knives when they already have a set isn’t a gift.

Oh, and that Goodwill toward men thing? That includes everyone. A smile or word of kindness is absolutely free. Give liberally to all the grumpy, angry, rung-out souls in the service industry who have put up with more abuse from strangers than any one person should ever have to.

Don’t fall for the crazy commercialism. Monitor your spending. Consume wisely. Give what you can in the most meaningful way possible.

There’s an old saying, he who dies with the most toys wins.

Wins what? A plaque on their headstone?

I think he who dies with the most toys never had his priorities straight.

Show Up Anyway


I was awake long before sunrise this morning. In the U.S. today is Thanksgiving, which is a time of gratitude, family, and feasting. But my thoughts traveled to a dear friend who tragically lost five members of her family on Thanksgiving. Her cousin’s ex-husband showed up at the family gathering and shot everyone, including two of his own children, before turning the gun on himself. The only light at the end of this story was that organs from the youngest child saved the lives of seven others.

I tell this story, not to dampen spirits, but remind everyone to remain light.

There is plenty of darkness in the world. We don’t have to feed it. Terrorism seems to be all we hear about on the news. Thousands of folks across the world are missing loved ones stolen from them. And if you ask any Native American how they feel about Thanksgiving, you won’t get a happy answer. They view Christopher Columbus like the Jews view Hitler.

There are so many reasons to be depressed around the holidays. But there are far more reasons to be happy and grateful. Life is about showing up anyway. No matter what horror occurs, if you can still get out of bed, get dressed and get on with living, you are way ahead of the darkness.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, perhaps you can create light with whatever you do. Maybe forego that war game and play cards, or watch a family film instead of one with a body count. Have a laugh, or a cup of coffee and a piece of pie with someone who has had a harder time of it.

Life is chock full of challenges, disappointments, loss, and injustice. Can we just lighten up briefly? Help others to? Put the corn back in cornucopia? Can a few of us who haven’t suffered some horror recently bring a smile to someone who has? And if you have suffered horribly, can you put one foot in front of the other and do your best to show up anyway?

Just a thought.

Count your blessings, no matter what you’ve experienced. Because de-light can defuse de-dark, even if only for a moment.

reverse terror



Where Does the Time Go?


An old friend moved back to town. I thought she’d only been gone a year. But no. She’d been gone two.

My youngest sister is a generation apart from me. I remember her being a child. A few years later she became a chef. This week she announced that she is going to be a mom. What??

This year is nearly gone. I am in the final draft of a novel I had intended to publish last year, and it’s still not quite ready.

Has time sped up? I feel like the sand in my hourglass is pouring down faster than ever.

What to do?

Take a breath and know that the appearance of time is a matter of perspective. Don’t sweat it. Focus on the present and be as productive as possible while remembering to be grateful for everything going right in my life. There were many years where nothing went right. Thankfully, those are deep in the past.

If you live in the States, you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving this week. Even if you aren’t, remember to be thankful for everyone in your life, every moment you spend with loved ones, every lesson you learn from the bad times, every meal you enjoy that others might not have, and every joy you can find in your life. Be present. Pay attention. Take stock in things of importance. You never know when your last grain of sand will slip through your hourglass.

You Don’t Need a Bulb to Shine Your Light

green light

Veteran’s Day prompted Walmart to come up with a new popular idea. They ran a commercial promoting green light bulbs as a way to show veteran’s support. But were any proceeds of those sales benefitting any veteran’s organization? The ad did not mention any such benefit. At the least the Breast Cancer Foundation claims that some of the proceeds go to research for “The Cure.” But honestly, for all the pink merchandise on the market, I would think they should have been able to fund “The Cure” for several forms of cancer by now.

Friday’s terrorist attacks prompted many American’s to post images of the French flag to show their support of the devastation abroad. But what did this accomplish? Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to show that you are on the same wavelength and empathize with others. But can’t we do more?

I’m all for supporting a country or cause, but in a manner that is more significant. People’s lives shouldn’t be reduced to an anecdote, catch phrase, wristband or light bulb. Doesn’t matter if they fought for their country, struggle with illness, or are ordinary folk living mundane lives – every life should matter. Animal, vegetable, mineral, we all contribute something.

But mirroring the hate that caused extremists to take lives, including their own, serves no one. Hate won’t help heal the families who are grieving. And killing others will only attract more retaliation. But I do understand why the human animal wants to react with aggression. Reaction is what we do in response.

What if we could take action with thought and words instead of buying merchandise?

Thoughts are things. They become a physical energy. If we are all thinking hateful, retaliatory thoughts on terrorists, we are batting for the wrong team. Mirroring anger only accelerates that energy like throwing gasoline on a fire. Yes, we should always be vigilant with defense against the opposition. But what if we keep our thoughts in a lighter state, open to possibilities instead of slamming doors on communication through misunderstanding? Making ripples in our own backyard pond might touch someone across the pond. If we are mindful of what we think and speak and place on social media, perhaps we can brighten instead of darken our little corners of the world. The more light, the better.

You know that when any group of people gathers and negativity rears its head, everyone jumps on that wagon and collectively grows that thought, especially the negative ones.

“The economy sucks.”

“The government is corrupt.”

“The world is going to hell in a hand basket.”

“People are horrible.”


Don’t follow the herd.

Families who lost loved ones on Friday are inconsolable in their grief. Their lives have an enormous empty hole in them that will never again be filled. They can’t see any light.

In my town, there are homeless veteran’s panhandling on every major intersection. For many, life seems pretty hopeless at the moment. So the rest of us need to step in and hold that space for them, thinking and speaking as light and encouraging as possible, raising the energy to keep balance.

If you want to buy a green light bulb or pink hat, great. Just match that sense of giving with the right energy, and a contribution to the actual cause. If you’re around anyone whining and griping about the state of the world or the hateful people in it, break the thought by interjecting something lighter, more positive. Take the wind out of the black sails. Feed the light with uplifting thoughts and words. Because the living must continue to live.

The Power of Belief – The Dark Side

Have you ever believed in the existence of vampires?

Unless you came from a region where that belief still exists today, probably not.

On this week’s Expedition Unknown Josh Gates traveled to Romania and Bulgaria chasing stories of vampires. In one news report, people had been arrested for digging up a guy they believed to be a vampire. Yeah, I thought this was a joke, too. Josh was apprehensive until he spoke with the attorney involved in the case. The accused were arrested and charged with grave desecration, among other things. Now, this is where it gets weird. Their six-month sentences were suspended, and the men were released. Apparently, after a gruesome ritual, those who had been ill got well, reinforcing their resolute belief that this action protected the village from sickness and death.

Josh’s interpreter confirmed that the belief in vampires still existed “but only in the country.” City folk have apparently let go of the idea. When the team arrived at the scene of the crime, they were greeted by angry villagers spoiling for a fight. After some fast talking, they calmed down. “Hey, we know the guy. He’s family.” So Josh went to talk to the leader of the group of grave-robbers.

He confirmed that he and five others had exhumed the body of a dead man who had come to many members of their village in dreams, making them sick. They had taken matters into their hands by removing the heart from the corpse, grilling it to a crisp, and placing the ashes into a potion that was consumed to rid the village of the effects of the vampire.

The leader of the group was adamant in the interview that he’d done the right thing because the corpse had blood around the corners of his mouth and his nails and beard had grown. He was firm in the belief that had saved the people of their village. (In death, internal hemorrhaging can cause blood to appear, but nails and hair don’t continue to grow. They just appear to be longer as the skin shrinks and recedes.) But rural folk cling tightly to centuries-old beliefs, especially if a ritual seems to aid the sick.

Josh then participated in planting verbena at the grave of a suspected vampire. The belief is that the poisonous roots will grow down into the body – killing it from good. He then traveled to an excavation site where a skeleton of a man had a metal plowshare pinning the body down at the neck. Another way to ensure the deceased did not become a vampire. They theorized that misunderstood illness or physical conditions might cause speculation at the time. Centuries ago, doctors had limited knowledge of the possibilities. But even suicide was considered a reason to worry that a person might transform into a vampire.

Stories like this make me wonder about my beliefs. What beliefs were passed down in your family or community that you question now?

Change isn’t just a season


“I’m baa-ck,” to quote the little girl in Poltergeist.

Many apologies for my extended absence. Life happens, and we never seem to be prepared when it happens to us. I’ve had to iron out some areas of my life and am now ready to resume after a reboot.

(The northern lights were suppose to be visible to where I live, but our weather had other plans for the night sky.)

northern lights 2

In the meantime, I’ve been exploring the shift in my direction. Like the seasons, I’ve been changing. I used to fancy myself a student of the paranormal, but I now think I am merely a tourist. Fascination from observation is not immersion. Although there were many periods where I submerged myself in supernatural waters, I have not devoted my life to the journey as others have. I’m not in the trenches digging with a shovel by lamplight.

I’ve come to recognize that my path is a lighter one. Though I will often step off of the path to peek down dark alleyways with a flashlight, I’m always pulled back to a more metaphysical road. One thing that hasn’t changed is my belief system, which I’ll be sharing down the road.

I wrestle with how much I should share without stressing the boundaries of online security. But part of my quandary in understanding others is the lack of true communication in online forums. It seems everyone has an opinion, but rarely one independent of others. Human beings crave acceptance, community, or unity with others of like mind. We don’t often get it in earnest.

I have always felt separate from most groups of people. Being in awe of humanity doesn’t necessarily mean I always love people. For as much as we seem to have in common, most of us turn our focus to our differences that seem to create great divides. I want to explore humanity while I’m still in the land of the living, both the light and dark sides. I want to examine different perspectives because I don’t think the light is possible without the dark. And there are great mysteries in both worlds. I’m curious about a lot of things, but mostly what harms, what helps, and what heals the human spirit.

Fall is my season, when the old fades to make room for the new. I’d like to grow into someone new, too. So I’ll be spending a little more time with the living instead of the dead. I’ll always chase a good mystery, but I plan to give equal time to enlightened elements. Hope you stick with me.

For now, get out of the Halloween candy.