My husband and I recently met up with good friends on the coast in Bandon, Oregon.  One of the highlights of our trip came from my husband researching Bandon Dunes Golf Course. He found they had a Labyrinth!

He and I have a fun history with Labyrinths that began in San Francisco one rainy night a few years ago. As we passed by Grace Cathedral, we took a chance to see if it was open. We’d never been inside and I’d wanted to visit for ages. We got lucky! While there,  Lauren Artess a Canon at the cathedral, came in and began a candlelight ceremonial Labyrinth walk. We were mesmerized and she invited us to participate.  It was an incredible experience we’ll never forget.

After that Labyrinth encounter, my husband bought me Lauren’s book on Walking the Labyrinth. After reading it, I took a weekend class with her on the subject. She’s a great teacher and I highly recommend her classes.

So, when my husband asked if I’d like to go and try to find the Bandon Labyrinth, of course I said YES!

Our friends were willing accomplices although I’m not sure they understood what it was we were in search of. It had been raining heavy all day and there was a brief break in the weather as we headed out late in the afternoon. Within ten minutes we were at the spot the article offered as its clue for the trail head.

Our friends were skeptical as we got out of the car, but I was excitedly on a mission. As my husband convinced our friends we were in the right location, I had eagerly found the trailhead and was on my way down the path.

Our starting point was Bandon Dunes Golf Course Lodge. Down a narrow path off to one side was a small sign that pointed towards the Labyrinth. The path wound its way into the forest with a few signs posted along the trail. The tall pines were dripping from the recent rain and the path was covered in wet pine needles and bark. The scent was aromatic and fresh.

My husband and friends were a small distance behind me and I could hear their voices through the quiet. The forest was cool and still after the rain. I found the entrance to the Labyrinth area. There before me, cathedral like, welcoming and ready was this beautiful sacred circle.

This Labyrinth is like the one found at Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France which was also duplicated at Grace Cathedral. The Chartres Labyrinth is filled with multiple layers of symbolism, sacred geometry, and ancient cosmology. Labyrinths offer a sacred path.

 

Labyrinths are used as a form of walking meditation or prayer. An intentional offering is given as one walks the narrow, meandering, circuitous path, eventually finding the way to the center and back out again. A Labyrinth has only one entrance/exit and one path. It is a metaphor for our life’s journey….and the place in our journey we now find ourselves.

I entered the Labyrinth and began my spiritual walk. My husband and friends soon joined me in the circle, each at their own pace. The atmosphere was magical, quiet and sacred.

As I slowly and intently made my way around the circle I encountered feelings of great joy and moments of great sorrow. Memories and feelings flooded over me and I allowed them to inform me as I released them over to the Divine. At times I asked for forgiveness, other times I offered my gratitude, or lapsed into silence. The process is spontaneous, raw and incredibly healing.

Like many, our friends had confused the Labyrinth with a maze. Mazes are left brain activities. They’re like a puzzle to be solved using logic and analytical skills. Walking a Labyrinth is a right brain activity that involves using intuition, creativity and imagery.

Our friends tend more naturally to left-brained activities. This walk had one of them somewhat distracted and the other trying to quickly complete the task. They both hung in there and found their way to the center and back out again.

Upon finishing, I went up to the area’s entrance and read the monument that I had previously not noticed. The plaque explained the Labyrinth perfectly.

I asked my male friend if he’d read the inscription? My sense was he hadn’t quite understood the purpose of walking the Labyrinth. He was currently going through a difficult health challenge and I knew there was an energetic healing opportunity for him here. I was hoping he’d be open to it.

Upon reading the monument, he quietly told us he felt he needed to walk the path again with this new awareness. As he began, I watched him take his first few turns, and then I closed my eyes, lifted my arms just out from my hips, and opened my hands palms up, holding his space as I stood there, energetically, prayerfully following him around the path.

As he encountered specific turns in the circle I started to cry, sobbing silently and deeply. The release was profound physically, emotionally and energetically. The energetic imprint being displaced was very old and very deep. The shift was immediate and immense. I felt it move through my body, mind, and spirit, like a deep soul cleansing, leaving feelings of clarity, peace and serenity vibrating within me.

The beauty of spiritual work is all who are engaged experience healing. This Labyrinth walk provided significant healing for each of us, but especially for our friend.

At one point I briefly opened my eyes and saw that I had been joined by my friend’s wife and my husband, silently holding space with me, also with their eyes closed. My husband later told me that when he joined us to hold space, the energy was so powerful it gave him a jolt that went through his entire body. He had never felt the power of sacred space and prayerful intention so strong.

As our friend finished his second walk around the circle and came out of the Labyrinth it began to softly rain. God’s offering of a cleansing finish to this incredible ritual. The entire experience was simply beautiful.

This lovely Labyrinth is located where the filtered light and trees combine creating an outdoor cathedral and sacred sanctuary.

 

 

Just like sitting in meditation, each time we walk a Labyrinth it offers us exactly what we need; Reflection, prayer, release, answers, a glimpse into ourselves and into the Divine within us. We are in sacred communion with the Divine.

Deciding to enter the labyrinth, we choose to walk the spiritual path, to walk with the Divine.  And…as in life, we can get a little bit lost along the way. Eventually we find our way to the center, to enlightenment before heading back out onto the path.

 

 

I recently watched the video of Panos Panay unveiling Microsoft’s Surface Studio. You can feel his passion, excitement and pure love for this product jump through the video. Is the product cool? Absolutely. What’s impressive beyond the actual product, is how Panay dove into the working behaviors of different creatives and discovered how the different modalities create.

 

This is a guy who gets what it’s like for creatives to be immersed in their work. We don’t just get drawn in, we become absorbed. The words, drawings, or music pour onto the page (or surface) from our minds and hearts. The tools are an extension of us, as we get up close and personal to our work. We even can be a bit (or a lot) quirky about having the right tools and environment.

 

It was encouraging to see product designed for artists/creatives…because honestly, why should gamers or techies have all the cool stuff? Panay and his team understand the creative process and their product’s innovation is intricate and layered. It was…Pure Imagination. Panay even had his friend Stephanie Tarling record the song as part of the presentation. The song’s essence captures the team and this product perfectly. Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder’s Wonka) would be proud.

 

In a world where so many focus on being divisive, where integrity and accountability are lacking, my hope got fired up by a team of Microsoft Surface creatives. They’re developing products for other creatives in a free market that still influences the world, and it’s the best representation of capitalism I’ve seen in a long while. Bravo to pure imagination, to making dreams come to life and to enjoying the work.

I enjoy receiving inspiration and noticing the spiritual bread crumbs that come from surprising and yet, ordinary places. An advertisement/invite arrived in the mail the other day from the local Tommy Bahama store kicking off their Spring Collection. Ciao Italia!

It was just an over-sized postcard with a picture and a few words ….the way postcards are supposed to be; Compact, specific and quick.

Hey! I’m thinking of you and I’m someplace Fabulous!

I like Tommy Bahama as a brand. The stores are interesting, they normally smell good and make me dream of being someplace distant, relaxing and lavish. They sell us on ‘the dream’ and I appreciate that. I enjoy feeling transported if only for a short time.

This particular spring collection is based on a trip to Italy. Beautiful linen fabrics, casual elegance, easy style. What really hit me was the phrase they used on the postcard: il dolce far niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

Talk about transporting…immediately the phrase conjured images of lounging in a lovely resort (wearing beautiful clothes of course), strolling through cobblestone streets, sipping wine, watching beautiful sunsets, or chatting with friends and having no plans for days.

As an accomplishment driven, responsibility-phile, solo entrepreneur, I sometimes dream of doing nothing and how sweet that would feel, and then I immediately dismiss the notion. When I was younger with less responsibilities and more years ahead of me than behind me, I would actually allow myself time to do nothing. Now I even limit my naps to 20 minutes!

I know… intellectually… that life is short and there is validity in doing nothing. Experts agree it is extremely productive and necessary to recharge and refuel our minds and bodies by having fun and just relaxing.We come back to our tasks more focused, alert and creative.

Wow….Somewhere along the adulthood path I got caught in the “doing” cycle and became…dare I say it…task oriented and un-fun.

The Italians have the right idea….long lunches, naps every day and knowing summers are for a long lazy holiday.

Planning nothing into our daily or weekly schedules should be a priority. It should also be taught in school along with other real life skills (but that’s a whole other blog post).

Unlearning habits such as overworking and constant doing are important, as is learning to set boundaries. We (okay, me) must begin to ignore the voice of Mr. Guilt and instead embrace our Italian friend’s mantra,” il dolce far niente.”

After all, why should we only look relaxed and fabulous while on holiday? Why should we only enjoy the sweetness of nothing while on vacation?

Send yourself a postcard. A quick, compact reminder that now is the time to enjoy some sweet nothing time. Pull out your Tommy Bahama ‘vacation’ clothes, do nothing, have some fun and say Ciao Italia!

To the sweet life!

My husband and I feed the birds in our backyard. We have hummingbirds, gold finches, house finches, doves, black birds (many varieties), robins and other various “brown” birds. We are easily entertained watching their activity and marvel at how fascinated we are at something as simple as backyard birding.

Of course it isn’t inexpensive to feed them as they are hungry little things. I read somewhere a long time ago that birds eat at least 10 times their weight every day. I believe it! And then there is the issue of the pigeons that want to take part in the feeding frenzy and are messy, noisy and most unwelcome. Did I mention the neighbor’s cat that became an excellent hunter and took great sport in targeting “our” birds? Thank goodness he seems to have moved on, he brought out my mean mama self, bad language and all. Oh and the bird pooh and seed residual that surround the feeding areas are not aromatic at all. Lastly, we also have a few casualties that smash into the windows in their gluttonous confusion. Hence, the little birdie graveyard by the small maple tree. Mother Mary oversees the sacred ground.

There is always a price to be paid. No free lunch and all that. The fact is it is worth it. We enjoy them and they enjoy the dining sanctuary (minus the cat and windows). Our fountains in the backyard are as much for them as us, and they take full advantage by drinking and bathing constantly. The Robin likes to get totally soaked to the point I doubt he will be able to fly. The little house finches are like motor boats as they work to clean themselves. The doves are timid, the hummers are brave and the pigeons a nuisance.

Some like to eat off the finch socks, others are ground feeders and the hummers have their own liquid feeders. A year ago I decided I wanted to call in the Orioles. My brother has them in his yard about ten miles away. I am a bit competitive. Orioles are very pretty. I thought if he has them I should be able to bring them to my yard. I researched what they like to eat; oranges and sugar-water similar to hummingbird food. They make feeders specifically for Orioles that have a wider opening to drink the nectar. I bought one, made the nectar and put it out. Nothing all summer. Well, that isn’t true. The hummers loved it. Okay, so, all was not lost at least the hummers have another feeder.

I kept thinking how do I get the word out to all the Orioles that I know are out there, but I just don’t see? I sent them telepathic messages. No response. I kept the food out all year. I thought about them, read about them on my Android’s bird app. I played their songs from my phone app. I waited.

I noticed early this spring that some of the little brown birds started drinking from one of my hummingbird feeders. Interesting. Sugar addicts? Hmmm. Then a couple of weeks later I heard an unusual chatter and there was a female Oriole brazing her way to the feeder! She was noisy, on alert, and claiming her space. She is a little skittish but she drinks her dinner.

It took a year but it worked! We now have the male and the female Oriole dining with us. They aren’t the same variety that my brother has…so you know my work here is not done. My friend gave me a new Oriole feeder for my birthday this week. You place oranges on it and hang it in the backyard. I am fairly certain the ants and wasps will love it but I am also hopeful it will call in those beautiful black and orange Orioles my brother has in his yard. I may have to employ my patience as it could take another year to get the message out…Oranges at the Joiners!

I have begun to identify the birds by their songs and chatter. The Red-Winged Black birds have a whistle that is alluring. The long-tailed black birds come in loud like a motorcycle gang. The little brown birds come in gangs and are loud and noisy as they feed their young. The Goldfinches have a sweeter song and are quiet in comparison. The hummers click and buzz. The Mourning Doves coo their soft song as they sit and watch the activity. The Robins sing every morning during the spring and summer. I call them Morning Birds. Before sunrise they call up the sun….loud, clear and resonate. It works…that sun comes up every single morning. It makes me smile.

 

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Over the past few weeks I have spoken with both friends and family who have travel plans in place over the next couple of months. Some are going to exotic places like South Africa, India, Angkor Wat, Vietnam and Thailand. Others have Hawaii, Italy and Cabo San Lucas on their schedules. I enjoy hearing of their plans and the excitement that lights up their face as they share the details and research of their trip. I also love to hear about their trip upon their return home. The images they paint from their stories I find as interesting as their photos. Don’t get me wrong the photos are cool but the stories are their experiences!

Some are going in groups, others with friends or family, and others as a “single” while participating in a group tour. I know folks who like to bike or hike through regions of Europe, others who like to take River Cruises and others Motor Coach Tours. I admire them all. It takes planning, tenacity and an adventurous spirit to travel.

I think there is a difference between vacationing and traveling. Vacationing to me is about relaxing somewhere, playing and being in safe and reliable environs. This takes on many vistas…camping for some, at the beach for others or perhaps Disneyland. Traveling on the other hand is stretching our boundaries, seeing new vistas, meeting new people and exposing ourselves to different cultures. It can also be immersing ourselves in history, art, spiritual/religious pilgrimages or researching our family’s ancestry. While we certainly can use vacation time to travel and we can have fun and play while traveling, there is a different energy around travel than there is vacationing. I think both are necessary to feed and renew the soul.

Travel gives us an education unlike any other and helps us to be better citizens of the world and to appreciate home. As I see it, when we travel we become guests of the countries, cities and regions that we visit. We observe the culture, landscape, architecture and people and experience life from their point of view and existence. There are colors, smells, tastes, sounds and climates that are specific to each place we visit and we bring the memory of these back home with us. Travel of any kind expands our minds and opens our thinking, our compassion and personal insights. We are different when we come home, our life experience has changed and grown. We begin to frame how we live in the world differently.

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Vacationing also changes us. It renews us, gives us new vitality and resets our fun meters. It reconnects us with our inner selves and with our family or friends we might be traveling with. Vacationing gives us time to vacate the stale and stagnant mindsets and physical weariness we have fallen into through everyday life. It mixes things up and lets us enjoy different foods and drink. It gives us time to rest and be “on vacation.”

Most people find planning the travel as enjoyable as the actual going. We set our itineraries, begin to make arrangements and reservations while engaging our travel or vacation mindset months in advance. The planning is fun, gives us something to look forward to and offers interesting conversation with those that have already explored our travel destination.

Planning and traveling are exciting but what I try to remind myself of everyday is to pay attention to the beauty of where I live. It is easy to forget or not see the beauty of our own backyard (literally and figuratively). I know the sunsets in Hawaii are exquisite but so are the ones outside my home. The wildflowers blooming in the fields, the trees beginning to blossom, the rolling green hills and the clouds hovering over the foothills are just as pretty here as they are in Europe.

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Living in Northern California I consider myself extremely lucky. People pay thousands of dollars to come visit our area from all over the world and I live with its beauty and bounty every day. I bet wherever you live, you could say the same thing. And, while we all enjoy travel and vacation the simple truth is there is no place like home.

2d5e15dda3fee4120d88db625acfd38cHappy trails!

Let’s talk eyeglasses. I am a single lens girl. That holds true for both my vision and my focus.  I admire people who can wear bifocals or trifocals or those who can listen to music, watch television and read or work at the same time. I just can’t do it. I can get away with bifocals for certain situations but overall I am a single lens, single focus girl.

As I have aged this eyeglass situation has led to other areas of change in my life. For instance, I used to carry a small purse. I liked the shoulder bag style that had a wallet included and allowed for efficient organization of my essentials. Now that I carry an arsenal of eye ware with me, I have adapted to a larger bag.  It is cumbersome, heavy and feels a bit conspicuous. Actually, it feels like my grandmother’s purse. I am just not used to carrying a large bag. Shopping for a new purse is also a chore. I take out all of the filler paper and make sure there is room for my three to four sets of glasses, wallet and other female necessities.  Yes, necessities.  No longer do I have a cute compact to check my make-up. Instead I carry a 10X magnifying mirror (a whole other subject to write about another day), so I can check my lipstick and make sure I have no food in my teeth. I seem to have become more conscious of my appearance as I have aged. As they say, this aging thing isn’t for wimps especially when magnified 10X!

When I am out shopping I wear my prescription sunglasses for as long as possible. They are big, have my distance prescription in them and offer me the best vision experience. The problem is they are dark and not suited for most indoor lighting. This means I eventually need to switch to either my bifocals or my distance glasses and my computer/reading glasses. Walking with the bifocals can be a problem and switching back and forth between distance and reading is a hassle.  My hands, pockets and purse are full of eyeglasses. I can make myself nauseous fairly quickly with all the back and forth.

I have to say it is exhausting. If you can’t see clearly your brain just doesn’t work as well and you can become tired fairly quickly. I can also get confused as to which pair I have on until I realize everything is a blur! I can even panic as I head back outside when I can’t find my sunglasses, until I realize they are on top of my head! My husband once took a picture of me with my sunglasses on the top of my head, my reading glasses on and my distance glasses on my chin as I was looking at purses!

My dining out experience has also changed. I sit down and promptly pull out my eyeglasses and place them on the table. Reading the menu and eating requires one set, looking around the restaurant another set, looking across the table can sometimes be a third set. Getting it right isn’t easy. I go back and forth during the entire meal.  Without clear vision my brain fades pretty fast which has nothing to do with the glass of wine I am drinking! 

Another issue with all of these different pairs of glasses is expense… and fashion. It would be great to change my eye glasses to fit my different attire. This is cost prohibitive. When I was younger and all I needed were reading glasses I could have an upstairs pair, downstairs pair and pair for my purse and it was somewhat affordable. Now that I need 3 different pairs with different lenses I can no longer justify upstairs, downstairs and purse options.  So, you make a choice based on how you are feeling the day you pick out your glasses and then have to live with the darn things for a year or more.

I have only owned a couple of pairs I really loved. One got broken and scratched fairly early on and the others I lost while on vacation.  My husband has also lost and broken several pair. They are fragile little beauties that tempt you with their beckoning to be removed and placed down in the most inauspicious of places.

I rarely look at myself with my glasses on, and I don’t like my picture taken with my glasses on. On the rare occasions that I do see myself with my glasses on I exclaim “Oh what the hell was I thinking when I picked these out!” Of course, I feel guilty about the money spent on the darn things, so I just keep wearing them even though I might look like a fashion “don’t.”

Now, I don’t want to sound unappreciative. I am very grateful for the ability to see because of all these spectacles. However, I wish I didn’t need them, but since I do, I wish I was one of those people who looked great in glasses. I would love to be able to wear progressive trifocals or contact lenses and be tres chic. Instead it all just feels like I am a spectacle.

I recently read a blog post from Matthew Taylor at Theflyblog.com regarding mentors. His post asked the question “Where are the Mentors?” Initially, my reaction to his post and to most reader comments posted was agreement with their position: Mentors are difficult to find and seem to have a bit of an attitude. I still don’t disagree but upon further reflection, I agree differently.

As a good post will do, it made me think about the subject. I pondered the different mentors I have had in my life. There were those that I entered into a student/mentor relationship with formally and there were those that probably had no idea they were a mentor to me.

The latter group, were people I admired, looked up to and who seemed to be successful in their life or career path. I observed them, emulated them and learned from their actions and behavior. I analyzed their decisions and tried to understand their thought processes. They taught me many lessons and gave me good tools. I liked them and enjoyed being around them.

My formal mentors were very different. I had to prove to them my ability or skill, that I was willing to do the homework they assigned, that I was committed to the work itself, genuine in my desire and willing to invest in the process. This meant there was an exchange of either money or work for their knowledge and time. That is the rub for most students. The exchange rate may be too high.

My mentors shared with me their information, skills, strengths, beliefs and stories of success and failure. I also experienced their weaknesses, vulnerabilities, flaws and bad behavior. They put me through my paces, made high demands and at times gave little guidance. All of these things taught me immeasurable lessons and gave me real tools to work with. They weren’t easy lessons to learn but I was a willing student. It was worth every cent I paid and sacrifice I made.

Good mentors have strong boundaries and are successful, busy people. They are also some of the most giving folks I know. They get asked constantly to give of their time, talent and treasure and they do so willingly. They are passionate about their success and love to share their passion with others.

They also get asked all the time about how they achieved their success. Just like the author Matthew Taylor mentions at the beginning of his article who was asked, “How do you get a book published?” Her response was not well received by the hopeful new authors in the audience. It was, “Write the best book you can and get an agent.”

The author’s response was succinct and accurate. Did she offer up her agent’s number or tell the audience the secret to getting published? No, but in her response is the answer. It is hard work, perseverance, commitment and determination.

My father in law is a highly successful businessman. People ask him all the time how he became so successful. He willingly tells them. When asked why he gives the information so freely, he offers up this response: Very, very few will act on the information. Even fewer are willing to take the risks necessary to succeed.

As humans in this rat race of a world, we are all looking for the magic formula, the easy way to accomplish a goal, or the key that will unlock our instant success. Perhaps life teaches us that the magic is in the process. So maybe a better question might be; are you willing to take a risk, invest in your work and be a dedicated student? The old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” I believe to be true.

Pilgrimage: Journey to a sacred place.

I was inspired by an email message I received from Kayleen Asbro, about a pilgrimage she was embarking on to the caves of La Baume, France to finish her dissertation on Mary Magdalene. Kayleen’s in depth research and teachings on Mary Magdalene are extraordinary, enlightening and life altering. They are, in themselves a pilgrimage.

Being a pilgrim, we travel to a place where we are unfamiliar and face aspects of ourselves that can be uncomfortable for us.  On a pilgrimage we can also be brought home to our soul or discover unanswered questions that move us ever foreward. We can gather information about the world, each other and ourselves and process that information in new ways that both stretch us and identify us.  We embody the information from the geographical and spiritual experiences and they shift us. We begin to see differently, hear differently and when we look upon the familiar it seems somewhat unfamiliar. We have gained wisdom, understanding and have expanded ourselves.

When was the last time you took a pilgrimage? Perhaps, as Kayleen suggested in her email, it is more about our attitude about a trip than the actual trip. She asks, when you travel do you go on a vacation or a pilgrimage?  Even going to the grocery store can be a pilgrimage when we go with a different mindset or outlook, it can create an entirely different experience. There are times when a good book, movie or TV program can take you on an unexpected pilgrimage. Places of self-discovery are all around us, if only we allow ourselves to hear and answer the call.

My husband and I are currently watching the popular TV program Downton Abbey. This has been a pilgrimage of sorts for us, both to our own individual English Ancestry and to the aspects of human nature in all of its complexity. We seem, with each episode, to delve deeper into the foundations of the characters, resonating with the time, place and cultural carryover that flows through our own family history. Strong, stoic people who have a deep responsibility to the land, family and community whom experience embattled relationships that shift and change through the course of life. These are all uncomfortably and beautifully demonstrated and experienced as we journey with them, reviewing and stirring over our own families, responsibilities and choices. It is the long view that makes the journey bearable.

Next month my husband and I will be vacationing with friends. We will visit a new place with an open mind and fresh set of eyes. It will also be a pilgrimage. A time of rediscovering our relaxed selves, our playful sides, our friends and our relationship with sea, sand and stars. Ahh, my body takes a deep sigh and says yes. That is definitely a sacred journey.

For the traveler by John O’Donohue (Irish poet)

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

Argo Inspiration

I went to see the movie Argo last night with my husband. It was a high quality film all the way around the acting, directing, cinematography, casting were all great. It had me on the edge of my seat most of the movie.  It was intense and real.

I was 23 when this hostage crisis happened. I lived in a small apartment with my son and had a great job. Overall life was good for me. I remember the gas crunch and having to slow down to 55 miles per hour on the highway and being asked to turn our thermostats down or up depending on the season. I also remember watching on television about the hostages and becoming truly aware for the first time as an adult about foreign political policy.

As I was watching the movie I realized my memories of the news reports and outcomes of the crisis had faded and I found myself anxious. I looked at the cars, clothing, hairstyles and yellow ribbons and my memories began to stir. I realized that as an observer of the crisis watching on a tiny 12” television from my little apartment, the magnitude of the crisis didn’t always translate. Still, I considered myself a concerned citizen and I fully remember having discussions with family and friends about world politics. This crisis led me to vote for the first time in a national election. I have voted ever since.

Yesterday watching the movie and witnessing on the big screen the out of control mobs, the hunting down of US Citizens and those that would help them ,how the  hostages were treated, the courage, bravery, and fear of so many people who were involved, rattled me.  It is so very easy to stir up a mob and create irrational, reactionary, impassioned acts against others.

In a very small way, yet with similar mob mentality, I watch this happen frequently on Social Media sites. People make statements or claims without having facts or make accusations or attack someone online for a different opinion or view. You can feel the venomous angry words as they were typed, shouting down those they disagree with. Others just outright lie and put out erroneous information looking to stir up a mob of angry followers to promote their own agenda.

Here in the US, we live in a society of acceptance and open debate with law-abiding citizens. Are we perfect? No. However by our definition as a nation we are supposed to be indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. When we allow anyone to begin to divide us by religion, economic status, ethnicity, ideology or demand that others think as we do or else, then we have become nothing more than angry mob makers, pawns to those that seek to divide in order to conquer and grab power or at the minimum squelch the opposition.

I believe there was something good about saying the Pledge of Allegiance everyday when we went to school. It was a reminder of whom we are as a nation and how we pledge our allegiance to not just the flag as a symbol of our country but to the principles and ideals on which this country was founded and the people who inhabit our country and make it great. We are citizens who are responsible to ourselves, each other and our country. It is our responsibility to remember that we are one nation and that division only empowers those that seek to diminish others for their own empowerment. Responsibility takes effort, constant effort but the results are very worthwhile. The results are our children’s children will inherit a free land filled with a responsible citizenry.

It is time to stop being lazy in our thinking, in our actions, in our relationships and with our words. The world is a fragile and turbulent place and freedom should not be taken for granted but rather should be cherished, protected and given our allegiance.

Perhaps it is time to get back to basics and the Golden Rule. It is time to begin again to respect and honor our differences, but also remember our shared vision of freedom and love of country. I know that this is a bit like Pollyanna in my thinking but I am willing to try. As Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I am willing to be mindful and to exercise mindfulness towards our freedoms as I go through my days.

Bravo to all involved in Argo. You inspired me and made me remember my life is very good. I am grateful and lucky to be here.

Okay, I am going to tell you right up front that I am middle-aged (55) and am at that place I never thought I would be…starting to act and (Oh My God!) think like my parents! I find myself thinking about how life used to be and making comparisons to today’s world. Yep, I am getting older.

On my Facebook page yesterday someone posted the video clip of the new Carl’s Jr. Pulled Pork Burger commercial.  I call it Burger Porn.  Now, I am not saying it is a bad commercial but I think it is rather lazy and inappropriate. Not much cleverness to it at all.

To summarize, two young, very attractive, scantily clad women are grilling food and making what I will call “soft porn moves” both towards one another and with the food they are cooking, while two young men (who are fully dressed) are watching from across the way. Is it offensive?  Yes. Does it get your attention?  Yes. Did I remember the brand? Yes. So, on an advertising level it works. However, mothers and wives are not going to be happy and will probably go else where when choosing where to spend their fast food dollars. (As a matter a fact the Facebook posting was from a mom who wanted to boycott Carl’s Jr.) Young teen girls and older girls will want to emulate these seductive lasses so they can get their fair attention from young men.  Not such a great way for young women to get attention, at least in my book.

It also says a lot about our culture and just how low companies will go to get their market share of the fast burger buck. Overall it is offensive and at the very least inappropriate for a TV ad. Parents try to monitor what programming their kids watch and now they have to start filtering commercials, as if the job of parenting isn’t difficult enough. Don’t get me wrong I know that there are probably more offensive content out there on video games, movies, high school locker rooms and cable TV. I am just amazed that this commercial was pitched to a board of directors and executives who probably have kids of their own and all of them said; “Yeah!  This is a great ad!  Put it out there and let’s make some money!”  How very disappointing.

Right now there is the AT&T commercial on TV where the goat kicks the guy’s lunch over the cliff and his friends catch it on video via their cell phones.  I think this ad is very funny.  It makes me laugh for no good reason. Having said that, I couldn’t remember the brand or what they were trying to sell.  My son, who is in his thirties, doesn’t like the ad. He did remember the brand and what they were trying to sell though, (a cell phone that does video and can take a still picture at the same time).  My guess, I wasn’t their demographic.  So for the right demographic it was effective even if they don’t like the commercial. At least it wasn’t offensive or pornographic.

Now is when I am going to sound like my parents….When I was younger, there used to be something called a jingle (a good slogan or tag line also works), it went along with the radio or television ad and stuck in your head…forever!  I can still tell you the product associated with jingles and slogans from my childhood.  The jingles live on even after some of the products are no longer in existence.  Tried and true the jingle/slogan works.  Call them old-fashioned, corny or goofy but damn, they are effective! Quite frankly, I don’t mind goofy and most of these ads make us feel good or comforted and not dirty like we were watching something we weren’t suppose to see.

I appreciate when an ad or commercial is clever, can pull at my heart-strings, make me laugh or sing its jingle. I think at that point the ad people have done a great job.  I can say that I also appreciate a comedian that makes me laugh by being clever, witty, causes me to think and doesn’t use foul language.  I think using foul language as a comedian and using sex to sell products is just sheer laziness. Come on folks!  Get creative. Create something that inspires multiple generations to purchase your product don’t just sell sex to teenagers. That’s easy.

A trip down memory lane:

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz oh what a relief it is…..Alka Seltzer to the rescue!

My bologna has a first name its OSCAR…..

Double your pleasure, Double your fun, Double mint, Double mint Double mint Gum….

444-5555, That’s the number to the Classified…..

I’d walk a mile for a Camel…

Have it your way…at Burger King?

Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?

Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onion on a sesame seed bun.

10/2 & 4….Dr. Pepper…

Be a Pepper….Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?

You deserve a break today….At McDonald’s

If I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener…

I’d like to buy the world a Coke….

American Express: Don’t leave home without it.

M&M’s melt in your mouth not in your hands.

Got Milk?

Hallmark: When you care enough to send the very best.

Calgon….take me away!

Please don’t squeeze the Charmin

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow

You’re in Good Hands with Allstate

Budweiser King of Beers (Love these commercials! Some of my all time fav’s)

Lisa Joiner

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