A Year Of Art, A Year In Imagery
~ As Christmas Day Is Here ~
Now More Than Ever
As Heaven And Angels Sing.
Now More Than Ever
Glory Be To The NewBorn King.
Now More Than Ever
My Faith Is Tested Like Never Before.
My World Is Full Of Such Horrific Sorrow
As I Embark On This Next New Endeavor.
As Friends Become Foes
And As Family Becomes The Enemy.
God’s Enduring Love
Must Be Our Enduring Legacy.
What Will I Do
When The Devil Is At My Door?
Will I Stand By My Convictions
Or Will I Corrow In The Corner?
Is All Religion Based Upon Fear
As My Glorious Christmastime Comes Near?
Or Is All Of Fear Itself Wholly And Whole
A Lack Of Religion and Quite Severe?
As We Only Have Fear Itself To Fear
Let Us Fear Not - Because God Is Truly Here.
It Is Our Faith That Will Indeed Help Us Cope
As We Enter This Season Of Perpetual Hope.
As World War Three Is On My Horizon
Freedom Lovers Must Now Not Frighten.
As Our Enemies Have Already Prepared Their Battleships
We Really Need To Dust Off Our Own Crumbling Airstrips.
Liberty Itself Is Once Again At Risk
As Each Generation Sadly Must Fight For It.
Lives Will Always Be Lost In The Name Of Freedom
We Cannot Know It Only By Visiting A Historic Museum.
Now More Than Ever Before In Our Lives And Not Discreetly
We Fight For Those Freedoms Or We Will Lose Them Completely.
Those Liberties That We Hold So Dear
Will Slip Away With The Passing Of Each Year.
Even If Churches Are Still Closed
And If Only We Could See Him Transposed.
God Is Truly On Our Side
Just Look Up To Those Heavenly Skies.
Now More Than Ever
He Is Right There In The Twinkling Stars.
Listen For The Cry Of Angels
As The Hover Over The Little Wooden Manger.
Maybe Belief Doesn’t Belong Inside A Building After All.
And Maybe Now More Than Ever
God Is Standing Straight And Tall.
Maybe We Just Simply Need To Follow Him
And Maybe Jesus Is Much Bigger Than We All Could Ever Realize.
As He Is The Only True God
Ignore Everybody Else In All Their Camouflage Disguise.
Now More Than Ever
False Gods Are On Every Corner.
Now More Than Ever
We Hear Them So We Don’t Get Bothered.
By The One True God Which Is The Only Way.
And That Route Is Harder Than All the Others
Which Will Eventually All Wither And Decay.
Now More Than Ever
The Harder Choice Is The Right One.
Now More Than Ever
Being With My God Is Like Living On The Run.
But Don’t Run My Dears
As You Don’t Have To Flee.
Live The Life Jesus Died For Without Fear
As You Stay Humble And Stay Free.
And Let Us Honor Our Country's Founding Fighters
As We Brush Past All The Messy Distraction and Fodder.
Follow The Christmas Star As It Gets Brighter.
As We Live For That Heavenly Father.
Now More Than Ever In Solidarity With Those Who Died For Our Very Freedom
May We Honor Their Bravery And Courage Under Fire
And Their Ultimate Sacrifice As Their Day Did Indeed Come.
Now More Than Ever And With Every Single Day
At This Very Time And In This Very Place.
In The Name Of Freedom I Shall Live
With Courage Of My Very Own For Goodness Sakes.
Because The Devil Is Here My Friends
And He’s Shining Just As Bright
He Is Fighting Too
And He’s Doing It With All His Might.
Look Away For A Second And You May Be Distracted By His Light.
As The Situation Each Day Continues To Be Dire And Full of Fright.
Looking Down At Our Phones
And Not In Each Other's Eyes.
It’s So Very Very Easy
To Fall For The Devil's Lies.
And As The World Tries To Take My God Away From Me
Now More Than Ever I WIll Never Ever Let That Be.
Now More Than Ever
As Christmas Day Is Here
I Will Stand Atop The Hills
And I Will Shout Loud And Clear.
Our God Is Here And He Is Within You I Shall Say
Behold Seekers All The Tidings Of Great Joy.
As Now More Than Ever
I Will Hold Fast And Stay Forever True
To My Freedom And My Religion
And To My Red, White, And Very Blue.~
~ My Faith In God Is What Carries Me Forward ~
Faith can move mountains, right?
Well, if that’s the case… then faith can lift your house right on up off the ground too, right?
Sure. Yeah, right. I guess so. Whatever you say…
But no joke guys, I think, and believe, it can. Faith can do it all. Faith can move anything. Including your house.
Faith has all the power. Faith holds all the cards. Faith can allow one to complete seemingly impossible undertakings, and surpass insurmountable feats.
And what were these past two years... if not - one big, gigantic feat?
Looking back, boy, what a time to be alive...
If there’s one way to express my feelings on these past two years, it is this:
In order to persevere... I must have a Foundation of Faith.
And that foundation, even though it might be floating up in the sky(?) is what has kept me grounded, and sane, during life’s tough challenges.
Would it make any sense to you if I told you right now that I am living my very best life? Literally - right now. Every single day.
Throughout this pandemic. Throughout the ups and downs of the coronavirus, the surges and down dips in deaths and hospitalizations and body counts. Throughout global strife, this year, and last. International relations at their very worst in my lifetime. National relations also-the same.
Despite everything that has happened, and everything that is going on, and maybe even everything that is still to come. I am still living my very best life, each and every day. And I attribute that fact to one reason, and one reason only - my faith.
And there’s no doubt that this year, and last, have presented some very difficult circumstances, both externally, and internally. Personally, and professionally. Nationally and internationally.
There are actually far too many of said circumstances and challenges to name here, and nor do I want to name them, each and all. But these challenges and obstacles and pure blockades, were, and are, beyond overwhelming. And I blow my own damn mind each and every day with my ability to maneuver around them.
It took me a very long while, but I have come to believe, and actually understand and comprehend, that a solid foundation is exactly what is needed during life's hardest and harshest moments. And it is that foundation of faith, and my faith alone, that gets me through each day.
That statement is so very true for me and I genuinely believe it. And in my eyes, it is simply and purely because when things get tough, and when things are looking down, and when you find yourself falling into a deep and dark and despairingly black hole, you actually can’t fall too far… IF you have a solid foundation. Because on your way down, you’ll reach the concrete floor of your home’s foundational base. And it’s that foundation that will catch you, and stop you, from burrowing further into the cold and dark earth underneath, during your time of depression or sorrow - a time of sadness, and pain.
And whether, when I lived up in Illinois, and my home’s foundation was literally below ground, in a basement. Or, now that I live in Florida, and the ground here is too wet and springy and bubbly and swampy for my foundation to be below ground, and thus a basement here being very hard to come by... The foundation of my house is currently at grade. But either way, I still have a foundation. Its depth is just a bit different than I was used to all my life, previous to living in the South.
And that little engineering and structural design and home construction fact got me to thinking...
There were moments this year in which I could barely function. I could barely move forward. And I could barely even drink water.
There were times I couldn’t even swallow. Not even coffee.
There were equally bad times last year. I’m still not over it all. Nor will I ever forget all that has happened and occurred on my watch.
Life is hard.
And it always will be.
But our responses, and reactions, and perseverance, and - our foundation - of our very faith in God, is what will carry us forward.
And whether I stand up on my very own, or God has to drag me by my soft and fuzzy dog paw patterned fleece pajamas on out of bed, pull me up onto my feet, and drag me into the kitchen kicking and screaming to make the morning coffee - either way - I’m going to keep going. Heck, even if God has to lift not just me out of bed, but my whole freaking GD house off the ground, either way, and some way or another, God is going to get me going. And God is going to keep me going.
I tend to think that sometimes he does literally just that. I’m still stuck in bed. And won’t move. God gives me a boost or two. He tells me it's time to get up. It’s time to get ready for work. It’s time to go, CHRISTINE!
And when I still won’t move, and can’t even comprehend starting another day of life, that’s when God offers one more bribe. He tells me we can grab some Starbucks on the way to work. A venti hot latte, coming my way… if only, I will start another day.
And when THAT doesn’t work - you know I’m in a bad place. I’ve never met a Starbucks I can resist.
So it is then that God knows I am in the depths of despair (as Anne Shirley of Green Gables once said).
When a coffee bribe won’t work.
That’s when God really has his work cut out for him.
He knows that his Christine Pieper is doing pretty bad. Turning down a drink from her favorite barista. That’s the measurement of true despair.
He then says, the freaking heck with this.
And He, instead of dragging me out of bed by my feet, decides something stronger is necessary to get me going. He knows pulling me, myself, won’t do it just today.
So He decides to pick up my entire house - by its foundation. He rips it on out of the ground. And He carries me, and lifts me with helium and colored balloons, house included, over to my place of employment. I’m dropped off in the parking lot, with a smack on my butt for my misbehavior at that.
I walk on into work…
Dragging these ridiculous looking balloons behind me.
I punch the time clock.
Coworkers completely disturbed by all the helium floating along beside me.
And I start my workday. In utter and pure protest. Disgust at the thought of surviving yet another shift. Is this what success looks like?
I absolutely LOVE my work...
But I can hardly move a muscle or bone inside my body.
I always thought that having a solid foundation was imperative to success and achievement. Whether that achievement being going for the Olympic Gold, or dragging your sad and sorry behind out of bed in the morning and brushing your teeth. I’ve discussed with you many times before about that solid foundation and how imperative it truly is.
And that foundation is a rock. It’s solid. It has to be. And the other requirement, or so I thought, was that it has to be deep. And it has to be so strong as to compete with and support the weight of the world and Earth’s rotational axis and gravity itself to keep it from drifting away into the abyss.
But - maybe, just maybe - I have been thinking all wrong, this entire time. About that said foundation.
I’ve done a lot this year. And last. All throughout COVID. I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed or could possibly imagine doing. All through challenge and hardship. And all because of my light and airy and flowing Foundation of Faith.
I let God do the work for me. I watched as my foundation of faith was set free from the ground. No longer locked deep into the basement up in Illinois; unglued from its at-grade base here in Florida.
As I floated around in the sky. All these past two years of Covid. Here and there. Near and Far. Blowing around in the wind. Spinning and dizzy. With delight. Or delirium? Swirling around in the sky.
Up and down.
And upside down.
My foundation was NOT solid and rock heavy as I thought it needed to be. My foundation was light… and airy. It has become so very light that one could stick a helium balloon or two on top of that silly little house… and the whole gosh darn home would lift entirely off the ground. Setting sail on a wild and ridiculous ride. God blowing it in the wind. Only He - controlling the direction of flight.
And that’s exactly what the heck happened to me. And I’ve been sitting in a helium balloon filled house, flowing around in the wind, these entire past two years.
I’ve done NOTHING - on my own.
And I’ve done EVERYTHING - through God.
Nearly two years ago now I went back to work. But being without work for roughly a decade, it was a huge decision and obviously a life altering moment in time for me.
As they say... I did not come to the decision lightly. In fact, it was such a big decision, I relied solely on God to help me with the choice I ultimately made.
God guided me in that decision to leave the home. And I have come to know, only through my now vast experience in conversations and coffee dates with God, that my best decisions in life are the ones I make with Him… The ones where we sit and chat over a latte while listening to cafe music in the background. We hear the steam of the espresso machine as it drowns out the voices of others - all in equally important conversation amongst themselves.
And those decisions are potentially made in the blink of an eye. The snap of my finger. With the force of wind going through me so very strong that I nearly vomit.
One minute - I’m chilling with God at Starbucks.
The very next - I’m at home, curled up into a ball, on the floor of my home. The thought of throwing up too very much to control. Agonizing. Nauseous.
Next minute - I’m in the bathroom - head in front of the toilet. Awaiting the uncontrollable reaction that I know is coming next.
Would it make any sense to you at all if I told you the very best decisions I have ever made in my life are the ones where I want to vomit at the thought of the choice I need to make? And just after conversing with God on the subject matter?
I did a lot of research, and I prepared myself as best as possible.
How to go back to work after ten years?
How did I do it?
Or, after that initial choice, how do I change jobs, or career paths, once again? How to keep going? After starting work, all over, once again? Being in a land, now so foreign to me, I might have well been standing at the South Pole on day one of orientation.
How to rejoin the workforce after so much had been changed in my absence? After all, just think of the technological improvements in the last ten to fifteen years, let alone the societal changes as well.
Where the term “onboarding” is now known to all who work and get hired? What in the heck is an onboard, anyway? And most importantly, is it something I can use for surfing?
I am asked of my pronouns.
And they are proudly displayed upon a bulletin board, or in the employee break room.
I’ve never been asked that in my life. And it’s always at work now where I’m asked. I’ve even been offered buttons to wear. I can proudly display my She, if I choose to.
Do workers today have more protections afforded them? And perks, and shiny, little specks of bling thrown at them to get them in the door, and seem to actually be treated as human beings by their employers?
When I stopped working, I was not even wanted by my employer at the time. And I do think that was me personally. I’m not saying all employers are not actually wanting of their employees, but I do know I personally, felt extremely unappreciated.
I was way overworked, way stressed out, had a mere one second of vacation time per year, and was just expected to suck it all up, and work harder and harder. And my salary could not afford me even a studio apartment near my employer. All for what?
There was no enticement. There was no bonus. A raise at the exact rate of the cost of living adjustment - each year - and that basically meant my pay would stay the same every year of my employment. No real increase in relation to my job and skills and profession. No real raise based upon my performance. My individual circumstances were not ever taken into consideration.
And I worked hard and harder.
And ultimately, I ended up getting sick… and sicker...
Until the day I was too sick to work at all.
I lost my job.
Years later -
I was officially defined as disabled by the federal government.
Disease without cure, that which would ultimately end in death and inability to work for the future of my life on this Earth.
There was no cure to what ailed me. So says my doctors, and the United States of America.
And I had to accept that fact to move on with my life.
We’ve talked about my journey through chronic pain before, and the purpose of this post is not to re-discuss it here and now. But what is important today is - WHY. And HOW.
Why did I have the opportunity to go back to work?
Because faith can move mountains?
How - Because… faith lifted my very house up off the ground… and took me with it, and threw me into working once again.
I’ve accomplished more in these past five years since God saved my life, and the past two years of work, than probably all my other years of breathing, combined.
And it’s all attributable to my Foundation of Faith.
I was sick. And I was sicker. I was so very sick I did not know how to go on. With life. At all.
I felt 95 years old.
And I was in my 30’s.
I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t brush my teeth. I couldn’t put on some simple clothes and walk out the front door. And I couldn’t interact within society. Because I couldn’t even move.
My foundation was solid. And heavy. And that’s what I thought was the right kind of foundation to have.
But, I couldn’t move even if I tried... I was bolted to the floor.
However, little did I know at the time, a miracle was brewing.
Deep down in the underneathness of the earth, the swampy ground, far under where all of the alligators and snakes and cockroaches live, cause - Florida - that foundation began to move.
First it bubbled - like a spring. Disney Springs to be exact.
It bubbled until it shook itself clean off the ground.
And God decided to lift my entire freaking house, foundation included, off that wet ground. And pulled it on up into the sky. Taking me with it. Whether I wanted to go for a ride, or not.
I had no idea what was happening to me…
I had no choice in the matter.
Because God did all the work for me.
And at the worst part of it all is that, I didn’t even know that God was doing all the work. He was hidden, you see, above all the balloons I was looking up at.
So, as I pondered before:
Does any of this make any sense to you?
I have come to believe that if this does not make sense to you… simply close your eyes. And then, let God make the next decision for you and your life. And afterwards, open your eyes back up, and you’ll probably understand what I’m trying to say to you here.
And if this DOES make sense to you right now… Keep on keepin’ on.
Because that rock solid foundation I told you about all along. The one so solid and hard and deeply buried in the wet or cold ground, the one you need for the worst of days, amidst the worst of tropical storms and hurricanes, to keep you afloat… it really doesn’t need to be hard at all. It doesn’t even need to be concrete. Or cinder block. Or brick. It doesn’t need to be huge and firm, like my home's foundation back in Illinois. In fact, it can be at grade. And it can be very thin. It can allow all the snakes and lizards and maybe even gators, to get inside your house. Because it doesn’t matter at all how strong the foundation really is. It only matters that God goes ahead and picks it up, and transports the entire kit and caboodle, you included, where you need to be. And where you are meant to be.
And if you do happen to see any snakes and gators along the route, with the flick of the wrist, God will send them packing.
When I went back to work almost two years ago, little did I know that at that very moment I was sitting in my first job interview, there was a virus circulating in China. One that would spread and engulf the entire globe by its presence. I never believed that by filling out a job application, I would end up having to maneuver around the suffocating evil that was airborne all around me. I just thought I was going back to work. As a person with a disability. As a person that constantly needed to watch out for my own protections in the workplace. Because no one can protect me at work but me.
Within these past two years, I’ve had many hard, and harsh, and cruel, and disappointing, and exciting, and thrilling decisions to make, or be made, for me since I began working once again.
I don’t talk about my disability or chronic pain in specifics. And I would never even dream about telling all the people I meet that I’ve met God before. And that He is by my side at this very moment. And He is the reason, and the only reason, that I punched in today, and that I punched out today… with every intention of coming right back tomorrow and doing the same thing all over again.
And I would never expect anyone else, including an employer, to understand any of this even if I did tell them. But I do have a very harsh resume gap. Being nearly 41 years old, and not working for a chunk of my adult life, there are bound to be questions. What in the heck have I been up to? Why do I want to work right now? Why should they hire me, without prior experience/s they may be needing from their employees?
I can’t answer any of that. And nor do I intend to.
I can Attend though.
And I can perform. And from here on out, my job, and my work, is my choice. I choose what I can and cannot do. I know my limits. And I know the line I will never cross, just to earn money.
And I’d like to think that today, unlike when I left the workplace many years ago now, it seems employers actually want their employees to grow, and succeed, with them. Maybe it’s now not - What can the employer get out of me? Before dumping me to the side of the road, to fend for myself?
I do believe that employers today understand that workers need to feel like human beings. With differences, and needs, and desires, and personal goals they want out of work. And we all may have different paths to take. And not meant to stay at the same place for 44 years of work life. That inevitably, we will move on. And our journey will change, and we may not be with them as long as they may want from us.
And that all of this is our choice, not theirs. We, the worker, guide the economy. And it’s not the other way around.
But unfortunately, as I said before, a virus started circulating the globe, as I filled out job applications.
It spread, like wildfire, all unknown to the world, as I sat in job interviews.
There was talk about some silly little respiratory illness, but thousands of miles away, of course, as I began work and my orientation.
I was then being trained by day, and by night, listening to the news of a lockdown in Wuhan. Still so far away and foreign to me. What was there to worry about here? Everything, in fact.
And as I began really working day by day, all of a sudden a toilet paper explosion happened. And by explosion I do mean explosion.
First, there was a mass run on toilet paper throughout the world.
And the world got weirder… and weirder.
But then the world of humans got even stranger… On the fifteenth day after the initial fifteen days to slow the spread, or, basically on the fifteenth day of the next thirty days to slow the spread, or otherwise known as April 15, 2020… a paper factory in Maine literally blew up.
The stuff of dystopian movies are made of is exactly what these past two years of work throughout covid has been for me.
I’ve had the best job of my entire life - during the pandemic. I’ve had the worst. In these two years I’ve worked more new roles than in all the past twenty combined.
I’ve trained, practiced, and studied. I’ve taken tests, and been certified, in this, and in that.
And as the seasonality of the coronavirus and its strange and new variants have come and gone in haste, so too have other duties as assigned and staff and employers and their needs. I’ve gone up and down an endless roller coaster of surge... and wane. Flowing to the East, and back to the West. Up and down. Thrown on up into the sky. And then all the air comes out, deflated, and back into the swampy, snake infested mud I go once again. It’s been the ride of a lifetime. And to add to the strangeness of working throughout covid… all the while when so many countless others have had the opportunity to stay home the entire time… literally makes all of it all the more surreal.
I get foggy eyed, real fast.
Rubbing my eyes to make sure I’m seeing straight. This whole experience being indeed confusing, and quite messy.
I constantly find myself brushing the dirt off my feet, and sanitizing the palms of my hands.
I’ve tripped over my own two legs.
And I’ve fallen flat on my back.
And then I get right back up, for another wild ride.
My hands have been dirty. They’ve been greasy. They’ve been cut, black and blue, and swollen and blistered. They’ve handled and touched and transported substances I’ve never imagined I would be holding ever in this life I have upon Earth.
Is any of this really happening?
Or is it all just an endless dream? Or nightmare? And I just can’t wake myself up?
I don’t expect understanding or comprehension of my past, because it’s too confusing to even comprehend or understand myself. But I do expect - of myself - understanding and comprehension of one miraculous concept.
I made the choice to go back to work at the beginning of 2020. I consider myself in a very odd and strange position to be in life.
The cloud of virus storm brewing on the coastal horizon. Heading our way in secret, calm waves, across oceans to the American shores. No place on Earth left untouched. Human Resources Departments changed - forever.
I’ve been working all throughout the pandemic... With a GD mask on. With orientations cut short. Gloves and PPE. Shortages of everything and anything you can think of. Last year - Not allowed to sit next to my coworkers during lunch. My job has changed. Roles. Duties. People. Policies.
Hugging someone crying - not allowed. And then, all of us deciding together to hug and embrace anyways, cause covid policy be damned, if someone just lost a loved one, they are going to receive a hug. And I don’t care what CDC ‘guidelines’ have to say about it.
I’ve worked part time, full time, and overtime. I’ve worked strange hours. And I really and especially worked on those infamous other duties as assigned. Because what the heck is covid, if not falling directly under that final bullet point on almost any job description?
As corona surges, my job changed.
As corona wanes, my job changes once again.
Up and down.
Blowing in the wind. I’m thrown all over the place.
Trying desperately to watch my six.
Working for small wages, then more wages, then the best wages I’ve ever earned in my life, then even less wages once again. Phenomenal perks. No perks. Good hours. Bad hours. And some God awful really, really sucky hours.
And forever reminding myself that my work is not my life.
My life is also not my work.
My life is only, and forever will be, my faith.
And it is that delicate line, between my very faith and the exchange of money for labor, which I must always stay true to.
I’ve worked many a strange role, to help myself find where I am suited best, in my new work life. And, even more important to working with disability - My line in the sand has been drawn. I know, firmly, what I can do and will do, and will NOT do, for my employers. And I never once guessed that when I made the decision to work again two years ago, that I would ever even come up against that line itself. I always thought that borderline was so far away, that I never would have to truly worry about brushing up against it. But the awful truth is that - The place I never thought I would have to go - the line I know I will never cross, staying true to my own new life, my convictions, and my very Faith. I'm actually hitting up against that line, Every. Single. Day.
I am tested. And I am trialed. I am pushed to the very limits of my human heart.
The roller coaster of emotion. And stress. And policy. And drama. Bureaucracy. And life changing experiences. Has anything really changed since I left the workplace years ago? It may very well be worse than it was well over a decade ago… I really don’t know.
And I have no idea where I’ll be thrown to next.
I’m literally just going with the flow at this point.
I never could have done all that I’ve done…
Without faith in God.
But most importantly, I never could have done it if God didn’t pick me up, my entire house, foundation included, and thrown me on up into the sky, allowing me to flow in the wind, whichever way He deemed we sail. All the while, bracing myself, upon my Foundation of Faith.~
~ Let Me Be Blunt ~
Sincerely ~ your fellow American,
~ On This Sad And Somber Evening Of Our Defeat ~
THIS is not a news cycle. This, is not going to be swept under the rug. And this, is not something that will be forgotten.
And while every day is the best day of my life - TODAY - I have permission to be sad. Very sad.
No man left behind. That’s the United States. But that imperative virtue has been forgotten.
We have fallen. We have fallen in virtue, and in valor. In our values and our beliefs. In our ideals and in our ideas. And we have fallen out with each other - over definitions.
As, laughably, we cannot even agree on the definition of war.
What defines a war?
A rose by any other name is still a rose, right? And a war by any other name is still a war, right?
Well, maybe not so.
And that’s because of politics. The politics of modern American life in 2021.
We just lost the war in Afghanistan. Whether you like it or not - whether you want to hear it or not - whether you want to believe it or not - We just LOST. And sadly, I don't think many people even realize that fact.
In complete and utter and total defeat.
We were chased out of the country.
And we left, running away, with our tails between our legs.
But in this era of our truth, and your truth - THE truth - has been tossed out the window, and clear over the borders of our manifest destiny.
So, right now, there are actual people who don’t even believe we were still at war, for twenty long years, and there are people who think this was a policy win - simply because Twitter told them so.
There will now be people who don’t even know, understand, or believe that there ever was a war. It will be washed away in their newsfeed - never to be seen, or heard from, or scrolled past, again.
But, whether Twitter informs the body politic, or not, I have just witnessed the single biggest foreign policy catastrophe in my entire life, and one of the worst in the entire history of America as a reigning superpower on the face of the planet. The stuff nightmares are made of. A decision and a loss so horrific, and a choice that will have severe and horrific immediate term consequences, as well as dangerous and grotesque repercussions for generations to come. THIS was nothing short of a complete and total dereliction of duty.
High crimes and - much, much more than - misdemeanors.
Impeachable offenses left and right.
Incompetence on every level - well not on every level. Our actual troops are competent in their service and not my target of analysis here in this column. It’s our so-called ‘leaders’ whose incompetence is reprehensible.
Who will resign?
Who will be fired?
Who will be court martialed?
Who will be tried for treason?
I didn’t think so.
So - Who are we? Who were we? Who are we going to be?
Are we an Empire? Or, are we a Republic?
Do our leaders rule over us without any assurances of accountability, checks, and balances? Rulers that do not even answer questions on the disaster of their own making? Or, are we still a Republic? Where our leaders are not leaders - but are our entrusted representatives - representative of us - and are held to account for each decision they make on our behalf? Because we can’t have it both ways. And we can’t not know the answer to that question either. And I believe the lack of a solid answer - to who we are - as a national identity, is a main part of the endless wars we find ourselves in.
Because the politics of war can so very easily lead to endless war.
It’s all so frightening and surreal, it might as well be a piece of fiction. We’re fully engrossed in the part of the story where the evil villian holds all the cards. All hope is lost. And despair is setting in, rapidly.
Flip the pages through a little golden book. Turn straight to the page where the evil villain is at their most powerful.
Remember when Sleeping Beauty was forced toward the spindle prick? All Aurora had to do was to touch the prick of a needle on the spinning wheel - and all her dreams would come true, right?
Maleficent's power over her forced her there, toward that needle. She was in a way - sleepwalking, really. She didn’t even know what she was doing when she touched the needle prick. She was brainwashed at the time? She was put under a spell. She was ‘tempted’ and could not resist the touch. All decisions actually being made by the evil villian.
The great and beautiful and Magnificent - Aurora. With lips as red as the red, red rose.
Controlled by the evil and disgusting and villainous - Maleficent.
But true love conquers all. And eventually, after great battles, and an evil and horrific war against our fire breathing dragon, good does reign once again, and evil is destroyed. Death by sword, and fallen over a cliff to her demise. All the forces of good, against all the forces of evil. What a film, right? What a story. What a book, bound in gold.
What we are being subjected to right now is the part of the story when evil takes over. All hope is near lost.
Despair is setting in.
Faith - lingering quietly - in the background. Hidden to us amongst the smoke and embers and wilting and dripping flowers.
Oh yeah, and by the way. Let’s not forget that we aren’t the only ones bearing witness to all this drama unfold on the big screen. We’ve got China, sitting out there in the cheap seats, eating buttery popcorn and drinking sugary soda, laughing all the way to the bank during this entire, long, action scene. Laughing. Because they already know the sequel.
Wake up - sleeping giant!!!
None of this is fiction, a book, or a film - it’s actually happening before our very eyes.
And, you see, none of this happened overnight. In fact, sixteen long years went by in Aurora's case. Twenty - in ours. Wth evil plotting and patiently waiting behind the scenes. Under cover. Manipulation. Patience.
But after all that time, and all that waiting, and hard work, and prevention, Sleeping Beauty still touched the needle prick. Within the time it takes to snap a finger. When the time came, it was as if the past many years of work and prevention were thrown out the window. It didn’t matter. None of it did. It was going to happen all along. And Maleficent knew it. She held the power. She held the keys. And she got exactly what she wanted. Because she simply had the patience - to wait.
To bide her time.
And to continue spinning her web while doing so.
She held on through the politics of the time. In fact, she manipulated the politics for sixteen years. And she rode it straight on into battle.
And all in an instant. In the closure, and departure, and desertion of Bagram. In the announcement of our departure. In just the slightest touch of a finger to a spinning wheel. Good was trapped by evil. And once that happens, there is no going back. There is only war to break free from such power. Evil must be destroyed to win. Evil must be killed.
And it is that delicate and sensitive spot we find ourselves in right now. The politics of war. The patience the Taliban had to wait us out. We are, quite sadly, on the opposite side we should be right now. Evil is triumphing over good.
So, sadly, we now find ourselves at a desperate crossroads.
It is time, my dear friends, to pray for our great and sacred nation.
Our president said we will not forgive.
Without forgiveness we are finished. We are not America anymore. I knew it was coming. As I’ve spoken about forgiveness many times before. But when our nation’s leaders speak directly to our evil enemy, and tells the world we will not forgive. We are not America anymore.
As America falls, the Devil rises. Yes, the devil himself has now entered the scene of our great and momentous battle. Hell hath no fury, like that of a 140 character tweet. Or press conference.
And so we find ourselves discombobulated. Confused. Demoralized. Defeated. And begging our enemy for safe passage. WHAT?! Beg?! America does not BEG!
And clearly the begging did not work. And it will not work. As surely as our flag stands at half-staff today, our loss here is so very, very real.
And as sure as day turns to night - we really did leave our fellow man behind. We said we will hunt them down. At the same time we asked for their help in our exit. At the exact same time telling that very same enemy we will not ever forgive them. So many sacred vows. So much allegiance. All shattered.
Virtually, and literally, overnight.
The prick of a needle.
The last troop boarding a C 17 transport plane.
We are defeated.
Celebratory gunshots reign towards the Heavens... by the Taliban.
But we are still in an endless war. Because nothing is really over here. It’s only just beginning - once yet again.
Our endless war is directly tied to the politics of war. It’s all cyclical. And it’s all repeatable. Like a hamster spinning on a wheel producing great force of spin - but getting nowhere at the same time. Over and over and over again. Because the hamster's wheel doesn’t have an end point. He may think he’s running for the exit. Some sharp point or clear destination. Or that he will eventually get somewhere - anywhere - at some point, in an unknown future. But he never does. It’s maddening to watch the hamster be so utterly humiliated. But at the same time, the hamster has absolutely zero idea he is being humiliated in his repetitious actions.
After twenty years of spin, it’s simply and utterly maddening!
Throughout nearly my entire life - We have been in some sort of war. The Cold War. The Gulf War. All the ‘smaller’ wars and battles, that have all since been forgotten. And now, the long and endless War on Terror.
Ohhh, this war is so very long and drawn out that it has had to go through name changes quite a few times over the years. Maybe it was simply a marketing major, who, in the gig of a lifetime, was able to market and sell the idea and ideals of this endless war to a nearly handful of U.S. presidents. With great success might I add. As, in fact, the marketing changed as fast as the political winds changed.
So as the war itself changed... As the times changed... So did the war - and the very definition of war. But it’s still the same war. It’s still of course the initial War on Terror.
We went to war twenty years ago to stop terrorism from landing on our shores again. We went into Afghanistan, attempting to defeat our enemy, who harbored our evil villain inside Maleficent's castle - and then we stayed, and stayed, and stayed. And then we went into Iraq, to defeat another enemy, and there we stayed, and stayed. We stayed - until people forgot we were even still there. And most importantly, we stayed well beyond the time most people forgot WHY we were there to begin with. And thus, bringing us back to the definition of things once again. And marketing. And the politics of war. When we cannot even define our reasoning behind certain actions - we are doomed. And that’s exactly what happened here. And exactly why we just lost it all.
Twenty years ago, as planes flying in the sky helped change the world. Twenty years later, planes helped change the world once again.
Because naturally, history is doomed to be repeated?
Yes, we have been at war in Afghanistan nearly my entire adult life. I am blown away by this fact, even though I’ve known it all along. In that time we have seen bombings, raids, deaths, alliances, enemies. Beatings, kidnappings, ransoms, and beheadings. Leaders come, and leaders go. Resignations, and new leadership. Elections, and new leadership. Schools built. Hospitals established. Bagram Air Base.
Declines in violence. And with that decline - a decrease in troop levels.
Bloodshed. And with that - troop surges.
And politics. Lots and lots of politics.
The politics of war.
And sadness. Utter and complete sadness.
The heartbreaking imagery regarding the current catastrophe playing out in Afghanistan is nearly too much to handle. It is a gut punch. It is a tragedy on every level. It is shocking. But also, not shocking at all.
Almost anyone with a brain inside their head who knew, or even had an inkling, and understood how ISIS and the Taliban and terrorists and religious extremists operate, could predict such a scenario would happen upon our exit from the region.
And actually, I am reminded, by myself, that when the second plane hit the second tower - signifying that fateful day what this all actually was, in real time, defining the act of terror we were witnessing unfold, the very next thought that floated inside of my brain were the words: Osama Bin Laden.
And now - an anniversary twenty years in the making.
A political deadline, of getting out by the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, dreamed up by Al Qaeda, means we already lost. The moment we created that fictitious deadline. As fictional as our fantasy land and storybooks bound with gold. We have given our enemies all that they needed to win the war. They patiently waited twenty years for us to leave, and we did just that. Because wars aren’t won on deadline. Wars are lost on deadline. Wars are not won with end dates. Wars are lost with end dates. Wars are not won by simply making the enemy wait until we leave. Wars are lost while our enemy sits there - patiently - twiddling their thumbs, as we argue and yell and scream and protest and riot and vandalize, all amongst ourselves mind you, over choice in wording and definitions, as we make our slow exit out. Hoping they just won’t even notice that we’ve just cut and run.
Wars are only ended by the destruction of our enemy.
And wars are certainly not won by giving our enemy the keys to the kingdom.
And that’s just what we just did.
We exited the scene of the crime.
We flew away.
And left the keys to Bagram right under the doormat.
We Lost. Period.
We also left behind, completely irresponsibly and incompetently, billions of dollars worth of military technology and weaponry. And thousands of innocent lives. All of which - will certainly be used against us in the future.
And in a great and deep mystery of life, that may forever haunt brains and cause some to question their fellow man - For a people so disgusted with guns and what they stand for, the hypocrisy here, is laughable. Our enemy now has more guns and ammunition - of ours - that we built and paid for, in their very bloody hands, right freaking now. More guns and ammo than this group of people can even comprehend. Is there any wonder why another group of people is fighting for their rights as Americans to keep and bear arms against all enemies - foreign and domestic.
None of this disgust here is to discount the heroism of the thousands of U.S. military forces who fought and sacrificed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Troops and veterans who risked their lives and the many who lost their lives this entire war, and the thirteen who perished just now in ISIS’s latest attack at the Kabul Airport. The focus of my disgust here is about the politics of this war - the politics playing out behind the scenes. The politics we will never, ever hear about. The politics, so secret, so truly evil, and treasonous, it will most certainly never see the light of day. We may never know the full story, during our lifetimes, as to how this decision to close, excuse me - abandon - Bagram, and, in turn, to allow the worst prisoners on planet Earth to walk free, and cut and run from the global War on Terror, came about.
And if I’m being just a tad pessimistic here, please know that it is indeed intentional.
After twenty years of war, it’s only natural to become pessimistic about our chances, about our standing in the world, and our lasting legacy as well. It’s only natural to think negatively. It’s only natural to feel we have no chance to recover from this. To see this defeat for exactly what it really is. The utter disgust over the fact that we lost the peace - is heartbreaking. WE. We did this. WE let this happen.
And I argue, that is for one reason, and one reason only.
Because, you see, I believe America - is no longer - America. I believe American freedom and ideals of our Republic have been destroyed within these actions. The ones taking place outside of public view, and the actions behind the scenes in the imaginary boardroom I will never lie eyes upon. America is gone. And Big Brother is in control. Politics won. The bureaucracy won. And what makes this all even sadder is the fact that it did not have to be this way.
The thing is, you see, we did have a chance. We did stand a chance. We did have a path forward. And we did have a possibility of winning… because we WERE winning. We were winning all the way up until we announced our departure. The announcement of our departure is the trigger. The abandonment of Bagram is the needle prick. So simple. And oh so very innocent, right? The thirteen dead Marines are the drop of blood spilled. And just like that - we have submitted to the enemy - and we are under their control. They hold thy very keys to the kingdom now.
It really was all that quick, and all that simple. And that’s simply because after twenty long years of war, our enemy never lost hope. Our enemy never became pessimistic about their chances. Our enemy simply waited patiently, on baited breath. To hear of our departure. And waved and laughed their wicked goodbyes at us as we left in defeat.
As we became more and more enraged with one another, our enemy grew closer and stronger… feeding off our rage.
Our enemy remained steadfast and true to the core of their beliefs. All our enemy had to do was merely wait us out. Knowing we would leave. Knowing we would eventually cut and run. Because our enemy knows our politics better than we know ourselves.
I, of course, don’t have any answers here. Only my thoughts, and ponderings, and more questions than ever answers. I have no idea if it simply was not time to leave just yet, or if we more than overstayed our welcome? Were we keeping the peace there? We were holding down the fort, yes? We were the guardians of the kingdom? I do know we had so very many relying upon us. And we ultimately betrayed thousands who were left defenseless as we broke tear-inducing promises and made one nonsensical decision after the next. Falling like a house of cards, in one breath.
Twenty years of sacrifice down the drain. Twenty years of hard work, sweat, blood, tears, loss, sacrifice. Trauma. Suffering. Depression. Grief. Prayers. Mourning. And twenty years of helping build a democracy. A new republic. All vanished. Into a silent and isolated new world.
An isolated new world, with a radically extreme leadership, proudly bearing ownership of their own Twitter account. They? Are allowed a Twitter account? A terrorist organization. But some American citizens are not? Is there any real wonder why we lost - still? Ahhhhh…. the irony here on full display for the world to see. But the world does not see and the world cannot see. Because what they need to see is censored on that same pathetic platform.
Oh, how poetically ironic it all is...
So now come the bombings, the beatings, and the beheadings once again. Only now, unlike twenty years ago, they can be quite easily censored. With the key stroke of an algorithm - We won’t see it all. And especially not on the front page of the newspapers printed on paper. Oh - So unlike twenty years ago. May God help us all.
The terrorists have won.
There’s a reason we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Because as soon as you negotiate with a terrorist, the terrorist immediately wins. A conversation with a terrorist is a victory for a terrorist. Period.
I think an optimist could envision us leaving Afghanistan in peace. But, that’s literally just a thought. I think what really happened here is that a political operative sold a story to a leader... of backdrops with victory emblazoned in the background. And a political fool took the bait. And we switched from our winning stance over there these past years, to being the bait and hooked onto the line. We’re either a fish too stupid to know there’s a sharp hook hidden within the bait, or a beautiful and great Princess with red rosey lips, simply under the spell of evil temptation - Politics.
Way back in the day, when I was a political science major in college, I remember all too well being taught the phrase - All Politics Is Local. Well, maybe the sad and real truth is that: All War is Deception (?)
Maybe nothing good actually comes of politics? Because politics breeds bureaucracy, and bureaucracy breeds endless war. ‘1984’ - in real life.
As the date of September 11th in the year 2021 grows closer - the politics of war lined up each day in the queue. As twenty long years went by. Imagery and statistics and dates and anniversaries were all aligned to be celebrated. And just as the fish cannot resist the temptation of the worm and takes a bite, the politics of war was too tempting for the leaders of our free world to resist.
So now we bear a huge responsibility. In our defeat. To all the lives upended in our departure. To all the Afghans we left behind. All the American’s left to be killed. All of our allies that we quite beautifully betrayed.
Because just as terrorists changed our lives twenty years ago. We have now, in our ultimate betrayal, to ourselves, changed the course of our own lives. And of countless Afghans and the American’s and allies left in the dust of our tires skidding as we sped on out of town.
No one knows what the future will bring. No one could possibly know.
But I know one thing. There is some political operative, trying, right now, sitting in a back room, somewhere hidden from view of the world, seated around a conference table, selling their idea of the next great war… to yet another great political ‘leader’ - Selling the idea of the poetically beautiful politics of said war.
And as history does repeat itself, the political leader will take the bait.
And bombs will burst.
And troops will be deployed.
And each day as we arise, we will witness headlines about surges, and about casualties. As more heroic Americans perish in our name.
And yellow ribbons will be tied ‘round the old oak tree.
And war bonds will be sold - merely under a different, and more modern name - infrastructure. And the money will be printed. And political deals will be penned. And people will get very, very rich. And drunk on their new found power.
And China will make its next move. This time - a big one.
And it will all be too late to turn back. Because once the fish is on the line - he is indeed trapped. Until he is eaten, that is.
What beliefs will be passionately put on display to sell such an idea?
Maybe it will be the planes.
The air planes that changed the world.
Maybe these planes will be the marketing strategy. The strategy we will never set eyes upon ourselves. The political operative will of course burn and censor the strategery behind it all after they make their case to our dear leaders.
But maybe it will all be sold on the planes.
Because twenty years ago, planes flying through the sky changed the world in a flash.
And twenty years later, planes did the exact same thing.
Twenty years ago, our very own planes were the literal weapon. Twenty years later, our literal planes were literally the only way out.
Twenty years ago, people fell from the sky to their death. Some, falling and perishing to their death, not by their choice. And sadly, some, choosing that death of the fall, over burning up in the fire of hell breathing flames throughout the towers.
Twenty years later, still, the sight of more falling to their deaths. As some clung to the side of a C 17 transport plane out of mere desperation to escape the fiery hell that awaited them under Taliban rule.
They chose death by falling to Earth… due to an American plane… once again. In a different way, a rhyme of history, not a repeat. That they'd choose this death over the death of the fiery hell awaiting them by the hands of this newly empowered radical regime.
Yes - Maybe history doesn’t really repeat itself. Maybe Mark Twain got it right after all. That while history doesn’t repeat itself - it so very often rhymes? The poetic irony of our ultimate defeat.
Planes used to start a war.
Planes used to end a war.
Afghans clinging to planes, begging for help that was not coming.
Planes used for a terrorist victory. Planes used for an American loss.
The Taliban all the while shooting victory bullets into the sky, as we flew the last of our birds away. And lifted off from their newly decreed soil. Their very own manifest destiny. Realized before our very eyes.
But destinies realized or not, my dear friends, global war is coming. As sure as day does turn to night. As certain as the very naked and disgusting truth that we left our fellow Americans behind. As certain as that - war is brewing.
How will our planes once again factor into the next war? None of us know that right now. But that one person does.
The one political operative selling the politics of that next disingenuous, and very tempting, war.
The one who just graduated, with that fancy marketing degree - and a minor in speech comm, just for cookies and giggles.
That person knows. They know it all.
They may even be meeting in Room 101, right about now, face to face with the first person who went against them and their almighty vision of our great and noble future.
And whoever they are selling their story to, I know only one thing. The clouds of war are forming. Just as swiftly as the politics of war set the forecast.
So while today still really is the best day of my life - today I also mourn. Today I pray to our Almighty God. Today I weep. For America. And her defeat.
And as evening comes, I pray for our future as a nation. As we crumble and fall apart at our very own feet. As we have, in real life, succumbed to self-destruction. As we are no longer that last great hope on Earth. And as we bow directly to the face of evil. In our very submission - to their destiny realized. And as we touch the needle, and prick a single drop of blood from our finger. And as we fall under a great and powerful, destructive and evil spell. I do pray this very night.~
~~ God Bless America, and God Bless Our Troops. - I never forgot, even though most of the world did. ~~
Youtube Shorts Video
Check out my first Youtube Short video! It only took me a few months to figure out how to post a thirteen second, on repeat video, lol.
I had a lot of fun making it, so let me know whatcha think please.
I hope y’all enjoy ;)
Mezza Luna Ristorante - Dining Review
“So… How old are you now?” I asked the hubby, as we sat down to dinner.
We had just been seated at our lovely outdoor table at Mezza Luna Ristorante - for a special Saturday night - a birthday celebration - dinner out.
“29,” he says.
“No, really?” I question him.
“35,” he then says.
“No... I seriously don’t know,” I say. Now resorting to begging for his age. “I literally do not remember your age, and I only remember that I am 40 because I am, right now, at this moment, the big four o.”
“35,” he says, again. “And I’m not getting any older.” That’s it. It’s been authoritatively decided. Discussion over.
Well - I simply knew that wasn’t true. But we proceeded to dine upon some fabulous food, all the time with me not knowing the real number. The age for which we were celebrating this fine night.
Because, you see, I don’t really know if it's a “covid thing” or what, but time is just flying by.
One breath, and a day has passed.
One blink, and a whole week flutters past us.
One sip of water, and a whole month is swallowed up whole.
In fact, by the time we finish eating this very meal, we will be 65 years old.
And the pandemic itself - well that flew by too. I tend to think it’s all because I’m the busiest I’ve ever been, and not because of a global plague that seemingly altered time itself. But, who knows?
Either way, I can barely remember my own age, let alone the age and/or birthdates of anybody else I know and love, including my own husband - and maybe that is not a covid thing? I think I’m just really, really bad at ages... and birthdays... and numbers.
I guess I always have been. But the older I get, it apparently shows more now… As I sit across from the hubby, proceeding to ask my own husband for his age on his own birthday during this very special night out.
Our server comes over. We start with water for both.
Gulp, and another month disappears. Hooray!
I then ask for lemonade, and Bryan requests an old fashioned.
By the time our meal was perfectly prepared, cooked, seasoned, and served to us, we were flying well into the year 2022. But that all hasn’t happened just yet.
Eventually, we settled on 43 (???) Our take on his real age this evening. On this beautiful day in the month of May, in this grand and fabulous year of life on Earth: 2021.
“Are you sure?” I ask. Doubting even the truth, simply because I have no idea or grasp on reality any longer… Ages and time blown apart. The Earth, to me, might as well be spinning around the sun at a rate of 365 rotations an hour instead of 365 rotations a year. No concept of time any longer, not even a smidge, even left in my brain at this point in my life. And that, I finally have come to believe, has something to do with Covid.
And maybe that’s all simply because, when people are asked to stop living their lives - living - becomes increasingly more important. In my head, that is.
It’s a beautiful evening at the beach. We are seated on the outdoor patio of Mezza. Located at 110 First Street in the Beaches Town Center area of Neptune Beach, this local Floridian establishment has always seemed upscale and expensive in my mind, and seemingly a bit out of reach for an everyday occasion. But for birthdays, anything goes, right? So, while I expected quite an expensive dining experience, Mezza Luna ended up being nothing like what I thought and perceived it to be - In a good way. It wasn’t nearly as pricey as I was predicting, and it was a much more casual atmosphere as well - also, in a very good way.
With today’s hits playing loudly on the stereo speakers, intermixed with some oldies and goodies, the vibe was upbeat, happy, and not at all stuffy or too fancy. Our entire dining experience ended up being an absolutely and utterly perfect atmosphere for the type of dinner we were going for that evening.
It’s now May. So at dinnertime - the sun - it’s still out. And, gosh, it was a hot one. There were seats on the back patio - straight in the sun - and I knew we could never last out there. Not even five minutes. I would have easily melted away. I had just finished a shift working outside in the heat all day, and sitting straight in the hot sun was never, ever going to happen that night.
But the whole front end of the restaurant has another outdoor area that is completely covered in shade. It’s actually set up really, very quaint. You’re “inside” the restaurant, with the feel and coziness of being inside and away from the elements, but the front wall is open to the outdoors and fresh air. So we were technically seated outside - per my request placed on my OpenTable dining reservation app. Also, the mask mandate in the local Jacksonville area had just been recently lifted, so for those looking to enter without a mask, no mask was needed. Every single staff member of the restaurant still had masks on though.
If you don’t have OpenTable, and you enjoy dining out, I highly recommend it. The process of booking takes a mere few seconds, it’s free, and it’s easier than a phone call. Plus - all your reservations add up to monetary rewards. I’m a big fan.
Our drinks arrived, and ice cold lemonade never tasted so good. I downed my drink, and another was brought immediately over to me.
We then ordered the meatball appetizer to split, and Bryan ordered a wedge blue cheese salad as well.
The meatballs were seasoned wonderfully, with a creamy sauce of something or other underneath. I didn’t really bother to look at the menu, I really just devoured it as quickly as I did my lemonade; noting later - however, that it was served with creamy polenta, tomato, mint, and piave cheese at $11.00.
And Bryan’s iceberg salad was served with crispy shallots, bacon, sun dried tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing, at $9.00.
Our server asked if we wanted fresh bread, and of course, because we are merely human, we said - Yes.
Dinner was fabulous. And I couldn't remember the last time I had such a marvelous meal, seated that close to the ocean, and so close to home.
We both ordered steaks for the main course. I had the filet (at $35.00), my usual go to, and Bryan had the grilled flat iron steak frites (at $27.00), any steak - his guaranteed usual.
The bordelaise sauce drizzled over my filet was superb. And I immediately commented to Bryan… “How come we can’t replicate this at home?” I kept eating and I don’t remember what we decided our answer to that deep question was.
Being that it was Bryan’s birthday, dessert was a must. So, we ordered two, of course. And that way we could each try each other’s and share.
I loved the affogato. To death. I would go back to Mezza just to order it once again. At $6.00 it was worth every penny, and a cool treat on this hot night.
And, then there was the cheesecake. Oh, is there anything so good in all this miraculous world as a slice of cheesecake?
Well, maybe the next best thing is taking the leftovers home. At $8.00, and heaven on Earth, I asked for the seasonal sauce to be left off. I just wanted the slice served plain. And as we were too stuffed to eat anymore, I asked for my remaining cheesecake to be boxed up. To be feasted upon later that evening back home of course…. And therein lies the only ‘problem’ of the magnificent evening. And I dare say it was really even a problem. I actually just asked for a box…
Meaning, I would box up the cheesecake myself. But, the server wanted to bring the dish back to the kitchen and box it up. And that’s when I realized he did the same with my steak.
This was the very first time since covid began, that a server wanted to take my meal away from me, that I had already touched, and bring it back into the kitchen. That act seemed to go away, nearly one hundred percent of the time, since the beginning of the pandemic.
As soon as the plague began, everything and anything was all about contact. Touch points were focused upon. And the less touching the better. Along with cross contamination, and risk of cross contamination. So, I naturally thought it was swell when seemingly every single restaurant started bringing the box out to the table, instead of taking the touched plate back into the kitchen to box up there, thus risking more germ spread back onto everyone’s food unnecessarily.
So, I did think it very, very strange that the server wanted to take my slice of cheesecake, that I had already feasted upon, and bring it back into the kitchen to box up. I didn’t say anything, but I did ponder this, deeply.
And as I pondered, my cheesecake was making its untimely transition.
When my lovely piece of food was brought back out to me... it looked like this:
A fine meal. A lovely evening. Everything - perfection. Down to the sights and sounds.
And then - sad face. :(
Or, should I say smoosh face.
My cheesecake went through the ringer back in the kitchen. My cheesecake died a slow death. It transformed from a slice of cake... To cheese mush inside a plastic see through box. Sealed for transport into space. Or somewhere else very far away.
But who am I kidding?! I did not really care one bit. As we learned growing up, it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s inside that really important.
It’s not the gift that matters, it's the thought that counts.
Never judge a book by its cover.
Contents may have shifted during transport.
Wait - none of that is what I was going for here.
Anyway, I could care freaking less what my cheesecake looked like as I carried it out the door. And yes, it got eaten less than two hours later in less than two seconds flat. Presentation be forgotten that night, my dear friends. No, I did not care what it looked like on the outside. I didn’t care. It all certainly did not really matter to me.
Because, if I’m so busy loving my life, so very freaking much, to the point that I cannot remember how old I am, or how old my husband really is, because life is too much fun to stop and think about it. Then I certainly could care less about the doggie bag presentation at a fine dining establishment with today’s hits blasting on the radio overhead as we freely inhaled the salt life.
All I cared about was the birthday that was being celebrated. And the fun time we were having. And the very fresh and very salty air that we were breathing in on that beautiful patio. As we watched tourists and locals pass by on the adjacent sidewalk. And we ate our fresh bread, and slapped on way too much butter.
And scooping up whatever that creamy mush was underneath our meatball appetizer, while enjoying a steak that I could never replicate in my own kitchen. And bringing home with me a cheesy slice of heaven. It all didn’t matter what it looked like. And how it was presented to me. And as I pondered the state of my flattened and battered and weathered and worn and completely beat up cheesecake seated in front of me, sealed tightly for transport across great oceans on a big container ship for a long haul journey… I decided to ask my husband, once again.
I stared at my smooshed cake. And I pondered the physics of time and space once again. “44?” I questioned him.
Desperately aching to know and confirm his real age, yet again. And too lazy to pull out my calculator to simply subtract 2021 from his year of birth, to find the correct number in a matter of seconds.
“NO!” he desperately bellowed back at me. “I am NOT 44 today.”
So we settled, once again, on 43.
He was 43 years old. And yes, I am 40.
We had that confirmed. Leaving no room for doubt.
And so we continued our evening. And we both knew each other’s real ages. At least for that one night. Until I proceeded to forget it all once again. When the day transitioned from Saturday to Sunday and I didn’t even know what universe I was living in, once again.
So, yeah, we knew we were in our forties. We knew we loved our steak dinner. And we certainly knew covid was in the rear view mirror. And life kept moving on. But, the funny thing is, life never really stopped. That’s the amazing thing. Covid never stopped our lives. As we celebrated the transition from 42 to 43… life was still happening. And life would continue to go on. Whether we knew our ages at the time or not. Under a mezza luna moon… life was continuing to happen all around us.~
~ Celebrating Four Whopping Years Out Of Rehab ~
Today I’m celebrating four years of life.
I may be 40 years old, but these last four years are what today is all about.
May 11th is the anniversary of my discharge from Mayo Clinic’s Pain Rehabilitation Center - located in Jacksonville, Florida. Today... marking four years out. Four times three hundred and sixty five whopping days. Each and every single day being counted and tallied. All adding up to - four years strong - and four years of absolutely killing it at life.
You don’t get to that numerical tally by simply blinking and repeating. Or taking a breath in, and a breath out, over and over again. But then again… you actually, and really, do.
I would not be the happy, content, at-peace-with-the-world, and God loving person that I am right now and today, if it wasn’t for Mayo, and my time spent there. Because while God saved my life, Mayo Clinic helped give me the momentum to keep going after that.
And I’ve rambled on about Mayo in the past quite a few times, so you can go ahead and check all of that out below, if you’re interested in learning more about my experiences at the Clinic:
Christine’s Floridian Dreams: ABOUT
#34) Merry Christmas ~ And How To Buy For That Person On Your List Who Saved Your Life ~
#65) The Sea Life ~ Happy Easter
The above articles delve a little bit deeper on how I came to be a patient at Mayo Clinic, my experiences traveling from Chicago, Illinois up to Rochester, Minnesota for treatment, and all the way to my new and fabulous life in Jacksonville, Florida. Plus, why my long and challenging month at Pain Rehab changed my life, and continues to change me - to this day.
So today, I wanted to pull your attention to what I view and believe, very strongly, are the tools and virtues necessary for living a fruitful and rewarding life with chronic pain. Because, four years later, it’s not just a snap of the fingers and life is amazing - it requires work - constant work - every single day. And one needs tools in order to do this work. So - here are the most vital tools I deem imperative toward continued success and maintenance after leaving rehab:
[ Plan ]
I plan. And I plan for everything. I plan my day. I plan my week. I plan my next two weeks out, and I strategically and creatively title that plan - “My Two Week Plan.” I plan the month. I plan the year. And, most importantly, I also plan for all these things to NOT go according to this plan.
But, at the same time I do all of this plotting and planning and scheming and theorizing... I simply live for today. (And, if that sentence makes any sense to you, please let me know.)
[ Purpose ]
I live. And I live now. I don’t wait to live. And I don’t count on tomorrow (even though I plan for it).
I wear my favorite clothes today (and I don’t save them for a better outing). I burn my favorite candles (and I don’t save them for only when guests come over). I sign up for the class I’ve been aching to take. I paint on all my canvases. I purchase tickets to my favorite play. I buy my coffee on the outside (as Jerry Seinfeld once said). I go to museums. I try all the newest restaurants. I create every single day - and not merely when I have time. I read all the books - of all kinds. I travel. I explore. I look up at the sky - and not down at my phone. I drive with the windows down. And I say hello to strangers, all the time. I know exactly why I am here and exactly what I am supposed to do. And I do it. Now. And I don’t save any of it for the unknown future.
Ahhhh, the unknown future. The future on a distant horizon we cannot possibly yet imagine. That brings me straight on up to my next tool.
[ Perseverance ]
There’s a reason the Mars Rover of 2020 was named Perseverance. My goodness! Can you even imagine the amazing journey that darn little robotic thing went on to get where it is right now?
Mars!... Freaking Mars! Do you really even realize how far away Mars really is from us here on Earth? Enough ‘really’s’ already. Without perseverance, there would literally, and really, be zero evidence of humanity on Mars. Or should I say - evidence of Earthlings on Mars. And that’s because the road to Mars is not paved and narrow. There is no defined route to arriving on the Red Planet. We’re making this all up as we go. It’s all foreign territory. And it’s scary. But thrilling. This - this feat - never accomplished before - landing humans on Mars. Who on God's green Earth knows when this will happen? It could take a number of years - a tally of days - a number and amount of time beyond our comprehension right now. And - It will take determination. It will take struggle, and challenges we possibly cannot yet even imagine.. It will take sacrifice. It will take discipline. And it most certainly will take - perseverance.
To persevere, means to struggle. To persevere, means to keep going. To persevere, means to face adversity, challenge, pain, hardship, and loss... and to keep going away. To persevere means you know how far away the future is, and to continue onward anway. To persevere, means it’s ok to fail. To persevere, simply means to get back up and try again.
So, while I plan for the future... And I live life for today… And if at first I don’t succeed, I try, try, again. This fact brings me to my final bullet point of today’s discussion - Patience.
Yes, I live in the moment, while at the same time... I have to have the patience of a freaking saint.
[ Patience ]
The single most important factor to making it through one thousand four hundred and sixty days of life outside of rehab. Without patience, I wouldn’t be writing this today. Without patience, I would not be celebrating four years strong. Without patience, I would have zero creativity. Without patience, I would be suffering. I’d be pacing, and agonizing, and wondering when in the freaking heck is all of this pain ever really going to go away?... Really.
Without patience, I would not be alive.
There’s a real and solid reason why there is a saying on this Earth that goes a little something like this:
Patience Is A Virtue.
That’s because it really and truly is.
Patience is NOT the most popular kid in school. People tend to not like Patience. And actually, people tend to despise Patience. Patience is continuously, and unrelentlessly, teased and taunted and bullied. And sadly, Patience gets tortured every single gosh darn day, somewhere on this planet.
Yes, Patience is really hard to live with.
But Patience is Required for Success.
So if you really want to succeed at whatever your goal is, I’d say to simply suck it up, buttercup... And to welcome some good, old-fashioned Patience into your new and modern life. Become friends with Patience. Actually, I'd even go so far as to say to make Patience your very best friend in life... Yeah, Patience is really that important.
So while everyone else is beating up Patience in the back alley around the corner from the school yard… YOU - you there, you go ahead and save Patience from that beating. Drag Patience out of the alleyway. And usher Patience straight on into the nurse's office for a solid checkup and mending and a bag of ice to go home with.
Then, take Patience home with you. Serve Patience a plate of cookies and milk - almond milk - not cows milk. And ask your mother if Patience can sleep over. Watch your favorite movie with Patience. And then, go ahead and watch a film that Patience likes, that you happen to utterly and totally despise. But suck it up and have some darn patience already. Humor Patience, and watch the movie anyway. You’ll be best friends in no time. Gosh, and at that exact point - Patience will really and truly love you back, too.
If you can learn the value of patience, you can learn the secret to life. If you can learn the virtue of patience, you will be exactly where you are meant to be. If you can simply have patience, there is nothing that you cannot do in this world.
But gosh, golly, oh jeaz - there is most definitely a secret to being patient - and that is this. if you can accept patience, you can accept your pain. Your struggles, your misfortunes. Your annoyances. Your anger, temper, and all your irritations. Your mind - arguing with itself. Your heading - spinning. Your every breath you take. You can then handle the deck of cards you’ve been dealt. You will learn from this adversity. And that experience will build momentum, and carry you forward, through time. Yes, if you can accept and welcome patience into your life, you’ll be killing it at life too. Because, without patience, you’ll really never know or even possibly imagine where you will be... four years from now.~
*Editorial Note & Disclaimer:
All views, opinions, and statements herein are my own. I am not a doctor. I am not trying to save you, and I cannot make your pain go away. I am merely detailing to you my own personal opinions and experiences with the Mayo Clinic as a patient. Each person is unique, and what works for one, will not work for all. I share my story in hopes it will reach someone who may need to hear or see just these exact words at this exact time to push them to get the help they need… right freaking now. Because - sometimes saving yourself, is allowing others to help you save you. If you are in chronic pain, struggling, or severely depressed, I would highly recommend calling the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida to explore treatment options. Their phone number is 904.953.2000.
~Women In World War II - Film Review~
I had no idea what to expect when I popped this DVD into my little, black, spinning machine. But, I was delightfully surprised by what I had discovered within.
I’m a huge fan of old, classic films - especially from the 1940’s and into the 1950’s. Those years are, without a doubt, my favorite era of filmography. And having knowledge of, and already having viewed, countless movies from that time period, I was shocked that I had never run across this one.
I believe this film was recommended to me by Big Tech. You know - the guys who know more about you than you do about yourself.
One of the big sites told me I should check this out. And, either they really do know me better than I do, or a little birdie told them how completely and utterly patriotic I really am. A quick glimpse of the movie poster, imagery, and really, the title alone, and I immediately clicked. A simple skim of the plot, and I went straight over to the Jacksonville Public Library mobile app and requested to rent.
What a joy!
And what sorrow…
For anyone who is even a remote fan of World War II films, this one is a must-see. The title says it all, and the title does do it justice.
Based upon a true story, So Proudly We Hail tackles a plot involving a ‘small’ and somewhat forgotten and overlooked bullet point of WWII subject matter - WOMEN.
The Women of War… The Women of World Wars... The Women who also risked it all - for freedom.
While, of course, men did most of the fighting, and dying in WWII, women were also heavily involved, at home, and abroad. And contrary to popular belief, women were allowed on the front lines. It just wasn’t discussed, acknowledged, and brought to our attention as it should have been.
Yes - It should have been - so that we could honor the might and bravery and history of American women - in the world's biggest and mightiest war.
No - it wasn’t just Rosie the Riveter back on the homefront, representing the women of American wartime, in bomber plants and machine shops across the U.S. for the Defense industry.
While we remember and know Rosie pretty well - we cannot overlook Nancy the Nurse.
She was nursing on the warfront, and she tackled the death and destruction straight in evil’s path.
So, while Rosie riveted away on airplanes and war ships and other munitions, Nancy was also seaming and mending pieces together, with stitches and staples of a different sort, and working on a different sort of product.
Rosie handled the steel - and Nancy handled the blood and guts.
But they all gave it their all... and that’s all that really mattered at the time.
Starring Claudette Colbert and Paulette Goddard, two of the silver screen’s most extraordinary stars at the time, So Proudly We Hail, accurately, and with great detail, captures the role females in the Army had during some of the war's most challenging times.
And before going any further with this review, I want to highlight an aspect of the film which I deem one of the most important - its context - Time.
So Proudly We Hail was released in 1943 - during the height and depth of WWII. The context is imperative. This film was produced during the war - and not AFTER the war.
This context is of extreme importance, and is what makes this film quite different from WWII films released AFTER WWII was complete. When the war was literally over, extinguished, not of this Earth any longer.
Context is something that - we - society today - have all but forgotten. And context is essential to our understanding of the time period.
And why context is so crucial should be so very obvious, but increasingly isn’t. The war was RAGING while this film was viewed in theaters all over the United States. The war was being fought, the people were sacrificing, people were dying, and the people were afraid of their unknown futures.
American’s had no idea who was going to win the war while watching this film upon its release. Yet, American’s still sacrificed, and they still gave up so very much. All for a belief... a simple, true and noble belief - in hope.
For a better future.
For a free world.
For an end to slavery and tyranny, concentration camps, hate, imperialism - and against the destruction of faith - and for value of personal freedom.
So, while I do love watching these old classic films in the context of the world of today - seemingly and literally a million miles away from the values and context of a world that was alive less than a hundred years ago. I also equally enjoyed viewing So Proudly We Hail with the remembrance of the fact that all of this was made and written and said and sweated over while we were still fighting against the Third Reich and the Imperial Japanese.
No one at the time knew how this horrific world war would end, especially in 1942 and 1943. Only really in 1944 could some see a light at the end of the tunnel. Again, calling all of context into play here.
It all could have gone either way at that point in 1943. The world could have gone the way of the thousand year reign of a fascist dictator, or it could, and did, go in the direction of freedom. And that fact of their lack of knowledge of the future is what I enjoy the very most when I view these films of that time period.
Additionally, and of quite importance regarding the axis power of Japan during the time, no one knew we would someday become allies, and what I have always viewed as a special kinship and friendship between the United States and Japan - after the war.
I believe with all my heart that our relationship with Japan is of solid hope for the world to see - that enemies can become friends. That horrific atrocities on both sides can truly be forgiven. And pave the way toward a better future - for both nations, and others. And this is worth noting due to the scenes in the film where hatred toward the Japanese is discussed from the American point of view at the time.
A time - after - Pearl Harbor had been bombed.
A time - before - Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed.
Of particular note is a scene where Veronica Lake’s character says she is going to ‘kill some Japs.’ She then has a realization - what good would that do? That is not her role. She is sent to the front lines as a nurse - to heal any and all - at a hospital, in the jungle. She does fulfill her role and duty, and does not kill her enemy instead at the time.
Ultimately, however, it is her character that ends up ironically sacrificing herself to save her fellow female soldiers from their enemy at the time - the Japanese. And in her final act, she ends up killing herself - to kill the enemy - to save her American comrades. This scene, showing that no matter how her personal beliefs evolved over the course of their wartime struggles, people still made the ultimate sacrifice. And some still were forced to kill, even if they truly did not want to, in the course of war and evil.
Throughout the entirety of this wonderful piece of film, we are treated to the display of American Army Nurses on patrol, on shift, and their struggles off shift as well. Love, duty, honor, and sacrifice abound the entire film. This movie sheds light on the role of nurses in war, and what tools they had - or did not have - to work with while caring for their patients.
Seemingly forgotten in the jungles, these brave nurses triaged patients under a canopy of palm trees. Their operating rooms were made of tin roofs and cloth sheets for walls. They ran out of what we call today - PPE - personal protective equipment. And they performed surgery without masks. Simply because they just didn’t have any around to use.
Gloves were in extremely short supply. And where today’s hospitals have entire sterile processing programs for surgical instruments, this film portrays how nurses had to wash and sanitize tools in basic garbage bins and barrels - in a futile struggle to remain germ-free for each and every, and endless, patient.
Medicine running out, and at times completely out of supply, patients had to be treated without pain killers, and no anesthesia. A basic - grit your teeth and bear it - sort of agony, for stitching and mending.
And post op - forget any special flower bouquets and treats and books and magazines to keep occupied. Patients by the hundreds and thousands, lay on makeshift stretchers, to suffer through their terrible recoveries in the hot, humid, and wet open air weather of the so-called hospital. All these patients - laying in that shared, open air, watching as our heroic nurses continued treatment on countless other patients seemingly all around them.
And in case one was starting to forget - the film does a solid job of not ever letting us forget that all their hospital work was under constant threat of destruction and actually bombing. Army staff and patients were constantly fleeing enemy soldiers, snipers, airplane attacks from the sky above, and there were constant forced evacuations onto safer land - that was, conspicuously, never found.
As the situation seemed to get worse, for allies in the vicinity, sadly, the war did eventually take a very bad turn for the allies. Bataan, and the Battle of the Philippines, being what many consider one of the American militaries worst failures in our history. In that, the United States, amidst the U.S. and Filipono forces’ inability to hold the line, they ultimately fell - to the Japanese. As the overwhelming and brutal forces of their imperial enemy in this area were too much for both nations to endure. And sadly, after the fall, there was further atrocity - when the Bataan Death March was played out on enemy territory.
Roughly 80,000 American and Filipino troops were contained as prisoners of war, and horrific treatment of these prisoners led to countless further wartime deaths. Post War, Japanese commanders were tried and convicted of war crimes for their knowledge and failure of oversight of subordinates and for allowing these war crimes to take place on their watch.
So, knowing all this, many tears were shed while watching this film. As pain, and suffering, and sacrifice, and hate, and love, were all on full display.
And yes, there was Love.
There was Love - that surrounded the entire film. Love, that gave many hope, I might think, at the time. Love was still happening. Love of all kinds. And this film - in the greatest of great horrors of war time - showed that people were not afraid to actually live while they were alive. Something - as I have said many times - many today have now conclusively forgotten.
We are an afraid people right now. And we are scared to live while we are alive. These people were not. And I am not afraid to live either. The love and life portrayed in this film is indeed something we all can take lessons from today.
During struggle and and sacrifice and the horrors of war, one still must live.
After all, when else is there to live, than when you are alive?
Amidst bombs exploding, one must still live as they watch the bombs fall. In the middle of a raging fire, one must search for water and various types of flame retardants. Surrounded by hate, one must spread good will. And with smoke attempting suffocation, one must still breathe. Life.
If we are not living - we are dying.
If we are not moving - we are receding.
If we are not learning - we are submitting.
If we are not struggling - we are not human.
If we are not risking it all - we are doomed to never know what could truly become.
If we do not know sacrifice - we do not know God’s ultimate glory for us.
If we are not loving - we are doubting God’s creation.
If we do not have Faith - what is our future?
Faith - this brings me to my favorite scene of the entire film.
Walter Abel, playing the role of Army Chaplain, gives a superb performance, and is my favorite actor in the film. He remains, to this day, one of my favorite character actors of the time. His on-screen presence is a joy to me, and a light to my heart. If I had been alive during his lifetime, I would have strived to have met him in real life. And I know I would have written letters to him, thanking him for the joy his characters brought to my heart.
The scene - was of course - Christmas. My favorite holiday. My favorite time of year. Our beloved characters were all onboard ship, and the Chaplain said a prayer. The script is poetic. And many ears today could benefit from hearing his special words. It’s as if God spoke onboard the mighty vessel. And God was there - glowing amidst the light of their special little makeshift Christmas tree.
And this remains my favorite scene - because…
What is war - without Christmas?
“You must forgive me for being sentimental...” Abel states, as personnel gathered around the silly, impromptu Christmas tree.
And he continues: “We’re a sentimental people…”
“Our enemies deride us for it…”
But - “It’s what makes us stronger.”
He asks the people standing around him to have Faith. To continue forward. Even as that very night the ship steered straight into the hellfire of the coming battle. And even as he knows - and they know - what is waiting for them when they reach shore.
But still - they prayed.
And they still - had Faith.~
~ Living In An Alternative Universe - Without Facebook ~
Well, It’s officially been over 30 days now since I deleted my Facebook account.
And, I can see clearly now, the rain has gone.
All kidding aside, it’s been the best thirty days!
So - If you’ve been thinking of leaving Facebook, this one’s for you, my dear:
I’ve rambled on and on about the positive and negative aspects of social media many times in the past, and you can check some of it out right here:
#71] My 69 Week Break from Social Media ~ Why I Left & Why I Came Back
So I won’t really delve into any of that just right now. But - I will tell you here about these past thirty days, and why I’m never going back on social, ever freaking again.
Basically, I have really, and quite passionately, come to believe and understand, that there are two very different worlds taking place right now. There is the Universe, and there is the Alternative Universe. And, confusingly, I’m not very sure which one is which, or which one we all live in, but I do think there are two different worlds happening right before our eyes.
I’m a huge Elon Musk fan, and I love how he, and many others, speak of the Simulation Theory. It basically goes like this - that we, humans, on Earth, are living in a Simulation, controlled by a host(s) in an outside, and completely out of reach, universe. I’m not going to get too sciency and technical here, and it’s all just a theory, because if we are part of a simulation, and we don’t even know it, and there’s no science to back it up, then what is there to even elaborate on for the purposes of today’s post.
But, if we are living in a simulation, then it means our entire world is fabricated. And we are game pieces, or avatars, and we don’t really have free will. And that the creators of this simulation, kinda, sorta, throw things in - like a pandemic - to throw us off our game. Because they get bored easily and wanna mix things up, and see how humans react. And, it also means the simulation is so real-like, that we would never even believe we are “fake” - kinda mind blowing, right?
And - if the universe is infinite - meaning it never, ever ends, then there is an infinite amount of possibilities of this theory being true? So, basically, what I’m trying to tell you right here is that, if the world never ends, there are lots and lots of “alternative” copies of Earth out there. All floating in an infinite universe, with infinite copies of us floating around as well. I mean, what happens at the end of the universe, anyways? - If the universe has an end, what is beyond the boundary?
So, maybe, somewhere in the infinite universe, there is an Earth out there, with two suns?
Maybe, there is a copy of us out there, on a copy Earth, looking up at the sunset, and seeing a binary sunset.
What if The Big Bang was simply us, popping out the opposite end of a Black Hole? Exploding our current life into being? And all of our universe, had once lived on the polar opposite end of this Black Hole? After all, haven’t we been told that nothing, absolutely nothing, can escape from a Black Hole? And no one knows what’s on the other side, right? So, what if we were sucked in, and came out, on the other side? We wouldn’t even know it. The death, and destruction, of the force of the black hole, killed and born, our universe into being, in the smallest fraction of time possible of all impossibilities.
Maybe, there is an Earth out there, where world wars never raged, and the U.S. Civil War never happened? Maybe Walt Disney never died of cancer, and instead grew the Disney Company into something completely different than it is today? Maybe the current Disney Company never purchased LucasFilm and thus, Star Wars, for four billion dollars? Maybe Rome never burned? Maybe we never landed on the moon? But instead, we went straight to Mars? And the classic, alternative universe theory, maybe a young Adolf Hitler was accepted into art school in Austria, and never brainwashed racial, ethnic, and religious hatred en masse? And was, therefore, never able to convince other human beings to commit a genocide of six million Jewish people?
And maybe, all of these people, who were never gassed and cremated, and never fought in wars that never happened, went ahead to live into old age? Maybe Rome - stayed Rome. Maybe World War I and II never occurred. And maybe all these people who lived invented great things? That we currently do not have? And maybe because of these inventions, social media, including Facebook, were never invented, because that idea, at that exact time, was not sparked into being?
Maybe I never had to go 30 days without Facebook to officially close my account? Maybe the entire world is at peace right now? Instead of China militarizing in the open seas? And potential terrorist threats to our homeland were never needed to worry over? Maybe communism was never invented? And liberty and freedom are all that we all know?
Maybe I dreamed all this up over the past thirty days?
And the world is really just as it truly is?
And Facebook still exists, just as it really does.
And thus, the online world, and the real world, is just as it all appears to be.
And maybe we only have one sun.
And maybe we will never, ever, ever witness a binary sunset, even though we know in our hearts, such an idea is possible?
Thirty days ago, my heart guided me toward the Delete button. I went from a bright and colorful and cheery avatar, smiling and holding a piece of my art on canvas, straight into what I call the gray zone.
I opted for the permanent DELETE button - instead of DEACTIVATE.
DEACTIVATING your account merely does exactly what it is called - your account becomes inoperable, non-viewable, no activity is possible.. But it is still there, in case you ever want to REACTIVATE it once again.
While, DELETING your account, on the other hand, does exactly what it says. It DELETES your Facebook account. So, 30 days ago, that’s exactly what I did. And with that decision of deleting accomplished, my account was subjected to thirty days of gray.
I imagine this gray stage can be viewed in one of two ways.
One being a form of punishment, or human torture, and tormentation. Facebook has decided that because you want to leave its platform, you first must be submitted to thirty days of teasing. Daring you to come back. Your decision to leave - not permanent - until the passage of one months time. And one month, in this crazy age, is eternity. So, if you can make it through the tortuous month, you’re free.
But instead of punishment, I like to view this gray stage as a badge of honor.
I’ve beat the system. I’ve declared my beliefs. And I stand on my own. Proudly. No longer allowing social media, and Facebook, to rule my life. And even if it didn’t rule my life, social media likes to think it does, and that’s just as bad. And dangerous. Because that’s how it gains all its power.
I had done ALL OF THIS DARN STUFF before. I had lived thirty days in the gray in the past. And now, I did it all over again. For the final time.
I lived 35 years of life - WITHOUT a Facebook account.
I actually stubbornly refused to join Facebook, for many, many years. Valuing my privacy, over anything else.
But then, I got very sick. And, for about ten years, I suffered. And when God helped me save my own life, I found my voice, and I knowingly gave up a certain small amount of my privacy… All so that I could help you. By sharing my stories and experiences with you - my hope is that you can see that you too can save your own life, if it needs saving, and that saving yourself is indeed possible. And that God truly is there for you too - of course.
But I don’t need to be on Facebook, or social media - to share with you.
I was moving away from home, and everything I knew, when I joined Facebook. I was still very sick when I joined. But then, I stayed on Facebook, and shared more and more, after God saved me. It all became too much. And something had to give.
I needed a break. I wanted to break free. From everything social media. It had rubbed me the wrong way. And my gut told me to get outta there. And I deleted all my accounts. Deleted - not Deactivated. And I lived social media free for 69 weeks. Well, scratch that, I lived social media free for 35 years plus 69 weeks.
And then, sighhhhh - I went back once again. The FORCE pulling me back in. The connectivity of the sites, too strong, to stay away. I was, ultimately, sucked unreluctantly back into the black hole.
So, during all this, I definitely saw life from many perspectives throughout this entire time period. I’ve lived with social, and without. I’ve seen the good. I’ve seen the bad. I’ve seen life with Facebook, and I’ve lived, and dreamed many dreams, during life without Facebook.
I’ve seen Earth with one sun, and Earth with two suns.
I’ve lived on both sides of the moon.
I have seen the flip side.
And I LOVE it!
So, after more than 40 years of life, and 30 days of living in the gray… It’s time to celebrate.
Magna Cum Laude.
I am now living Facebook FREE!
Nice knowing ya - Well, actually, it wasn’t really nice knowing him. But, no need to hurt his feelings and tell him that right here.
And I do NOT miss it - at all.
So, if that’s what you were wondering, and if that’s why you're here with me right now, that previous sentence I can guarantee you is two hundred and fifty three percent TRUE!
I do NOT miss Facebook.
Oh yeah, by the way, I did the same exact thing with all my other social media accounts.
Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc….. They’re all gone.
They were all deleted on different days and at different times. But, they’re all gone. And they’re all not missed.
I’ve firmly decided upon a life without social media. And once again, I say, right here, as my declaration of fact, and to hold myself accountable. I am NOT going back this time.
I am going full speed ahead.
Light speed ahead, in fact.
Into my life without social media.
Goodnight Like Button.
Goodnight Love Button.
Goodnight Hug Button.
Goodnight Angry Button.
Sleep well, my very dear, very fake, friends.
And that point, right there, is where I bring you back around, to the other side. That word - Fake.
Fake. Fake. And FAKE.
Social media is not real life.
Did I blow your mind with that one?
I hope not.
I hope you already know that the online world is not the real world.
I hope you know that what’s trending on Twitter is really only trending there, and not on Earth.
I hope you know that it doesn’t really matter how many likes you get.
And I dearly hope you know that when someone sends you a precious little Mr. Angry Face, not to take that button personally.
Because, if everyone did believe all that, the world would be in some pretty big trouble.
I mean, it seems that Facebook alone, minus all other social media, can pop out more angry faces in a day, than most people have breaths in their lungs for a lifetime of breathing. Just click on a live stream of something, and watch all the buttons fly by… smile, hate, smile, angry, smile, angry, angry, angry. Angry.
That’s a lot of angry faces to go around, JEEEE JUS!
There’s a lot of hatred online. There’s so much hatred online, that it's come to the point in which many humans actually believe what is happening on the internet, and what’s happening on social media, is actually constructive of what is happening in the real world.
And, guess what? I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true.
Twitter - wrap your head around this one please - is not representative of real life on Earth.
And let’s not forget about Zuck - Poor Mark Z. - he really and truly is not your friend.
And that Pinterest board you made - you don’t actually have that bulletin board hanging on the wall in your home office above your desk.
And that cloud of yours - it’s not actually floating in the sky - either.
And, maybe - you’ve heard this one - what is being portrayed on Instagram is not real life? See, I told ya you’ve heard that one before. I’m not the only one around saying these things, and these are not new ideas. I’m simply putting it out there in my own little way for your grasp and understanding of how much these social media sites have played with our Earthly timeline and trajectory.
I believe, firmly, that social media has altered the trajectory of humanity.
I believe that, because of social media, the humans who live upon our dear Mother Earth, are headed out into the dark and desolate abyss of an unknowing and quite scary future. When, instead, we could have taken a different path. But it’s all too late now. And we can only watch the horizon line, and steady our path to a more clear and lighted runway, somewhere lightspeed far into our future, and hope we land in safe territory, and not upon a fiery red Hell, flaming widely atop a different Earth, in an alternative universe.
Because ultimately, the real danger of all these social media sites is that all the infinite fakeness of - or shall we say - simulation - of real life online, and how life is portrayed online, has become so real. The line between reality and online reality so blurred. That what is taking place in the simulated world of social media is our real life, and human beings are becoming increasingly unable to distinguish what is real and true and what really happening, and what is being simulated before us for our binary eyes to see and believe in and never know how simulated or fake it all really and truly is.
So - in my desperate plea to you right here, right now, I’m here to tell you to follow your gut in regards to social media. If it doesn’t feel “right” for you, it probably isn’t.
Hit that DELETE button.
Even if it means taking a different, foreign, dark and mysterious path.
Go ahead and take the path that’s deathly scary.
Take the path of mystery and risk.
Take the path that is so long, you have no idea where it will end. Or even, if it ever will end.
Lightspeed to Endor.
Just do it.
Because while you may be headed into a dark and scary future, living without the social and without the media, you can’t make it somewhere grand and beautiful and amazing and wonderful, without risking it all, and trying something that hasn’t been done before.
Your stomach may make you sick. You may feel nauseous, and question your own sanity. You may lose many friends - friends that you were only connected to via glitz and glamour of the Hollywood lights. But, if you want to find a place with two suns, you have to sever all communication with those beings anyway.
Because AT&T and Verizon don’t have cell service that far away. And there’s no land line reaching into the abyss either.
In fact, you may be risking your very life, to travel that road. And live that life. And be who you are supposed to be.
Disclaimer here: By deleting your Facebook account, you will most likely sever some relationships. And that’s ok. You see, sometimes people’s only connection to another, in this day and age, is via social media. Some people don't know your real digits anymore - only your fake digits. So, you will lose friends. You will suffer loss. And you will lose memorable imagery as well.
Ya know, speaking of loss, just the other day, my hero, Elon Musk, was once again “trending” on all the mediums of our Mother Earth.
It seemed, my dear souls, the Twitterverse was quite mad at him - once again. Because he said something so horrible, so terrible, so horrific, and it landed on our precious and delicate little ears. These ears could not comprehend such a thing. And in this world, he received many Angry Face buttons for his beliefs.
He - brace yourselves for this one my friends - said something shocking. Elon said that in order for humans to arrive on Mars, a bunch of people are going to die. And the Twitterverse had an absolute freaking cow.
Because of course, in this age where everyone lives inside their safe little bubbles, no one remembers what life is like outside that bubble. No one really remembers that living means risk. And exploring means sacrifice. And that these people who volunteer for such a mission, may not come back alive. But, Elon continued, it will be a glorious adventure.
This arduous and dangerous journey, into the darkness, will bring about death and destruction, but it will also bring about new worlds. And how can so many people love Star Wars, and Tatooine, and dream of a land with two suns, without comprehending the sacrifice that will be needed in order to find such a land outside our own dreams and in our real lives?
Of course people will die getting to Mars. Of course, because with great risk comes great sacrifice. And, I argue to you now, of course with great risk also comes great reward. Comes the beauty to see the land with two suns in real life. To travel lightspeed to other worlds. Worlds, not even visualized by humanity just yet. And with that - alternative worlds, where tulips bring about happiness. And Hitler graduated from Art School and became a worldly philosopher and astronomist, and not a genocidal maniac. He and Walt Disney teamed up, and Walt Disney’s World’s fifth theme park became an Art Park. Where anything you can dream up, you can create in this new reality. One canvas free with admission entry daily.
This glorious adventure, that Elon envisions, and speaks of, that stirred the pot, and made many angry faces bubble up into hot steam, is exactly why this man is a hero of mine. He is one rare soul on this planet. Who believes in an alternative world. Who chooses the road less traveled. Is not afraid to step off the path, and go deep into the dark and lonely space of life, and say the things that are now too delicate for humanities ears to comprehend. And do the things that humans are now too afraid to do. And risk the things that have to be risked, to find out where the land of two suns really is at. So that we can witness a binary sunset, with our very own binary eyeballs.
If you Google the term Binary Sunset, and read about the Star Wars soundtrack, you may discover for yourself something quite spectacular. You may read in the comments - ironically written on social media sites - about the infamous song that stirs this adventure. A dream that is about to be dreamed. People, in the comments, say, that the sound of this song gives them goosebumps.
Why would such a sound give someone goosebumps? They are saying these words online. But they are not living these words offline. They are hiding behind their computers. And not living the stuff dreams are made of - the stuff of goosebumps - the stuff that sends shivers up their spines, in real life.
My challenge to you here, is to search for that feeling which gives YOU goosebumps. What sends a shiver up your spine? What scares you to near death? And what brings you more joy than all the heavens set upon binary sunsets? Find that feeling. And go with it. Let go of the fake life on social media. And live a real life once again.
And, let us not forget, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m saying right here and now that it is going to be hard.
It will be painful.
And yes, it may make you throw up and vomit your cheeseburger.
G forces and the speed of light tends to do that to a human stomach.
And, soak in all the fine print right here: you WILL, most definitely, one hundred percent positively, lose many friends and family members in the process. Because in the process of living a life made of dreams and Star Wars and Revolutions and Forces outside of Earth’s atmosphere, with it all comes a great deal of emotion and loss and isolation and darkness. But you could never see the light of lightspeeds, without seeing the darkest of dark black hole event horizon lines.
And there will be times when time passes more slowly, because you won’t really know what’s going on outside your own little spaceship.
And there will be times where time seemingly passes as fast as light travels, because you will be having so much fun, and living the life of adventure, that glorious adventure that many search their whole lives for and never find.
So with all that being said, my thirty days are up. Thirty days of gray and my thirty shades of gray living.
I’m outta here and ready for my Mission to Mars. I suggest you buckle up and launch your own mission as well.
Goodnight, Goodbye, and Godspeed.
Bring it on.~
~ Reconciling Our Irreconcilable Differences ~
I remember watching Lucy walk over to Ethel’s apartment to borrow a cup of sugar. And visa versa.
I remember when DJ Tanner talked on the phone with Kimmy Gibbler.
I remember playing baseball in the street.
I remember when neighbors actually spoke to one another.
I remember when a new family moved into the neighborhood, the locals would trek across their lawns, ring the doorbell, introduce themselves, welcome the newest residents, and drop off some baked goodies - whether it be a loaf of bread, or a plate of cookies. And it actually didn’t matter what form of food the calories were melded into, what mattered was the act of the offering.
And that was it.
They were now neighbors.
And - They were friends.
It didn’t matter who was a republican and who was a democrat.
And, all the politics in the world... wouldn’t stop a neighbor from helping a neighbor in need.
Someone would always be there to shovel the snow for the people nearby them.
Someone would always have time, or desire, to organize that infamous summer block party.
And at Christmas time, there’d always be that neighbor who wanted to host a cookie exchange - or even - set up matching light-up plastic soldiers lining the entire block.
But does any of that matter anymore?
Does anybody still do any of these things?
Do you even talk with your neighbors?
But I do know it's becoming increasingly rare. With our phones in our hands, and our heads bent down, we can’t even see our neighbors, let alone talk with them, through that black and desolate screen.
So, over time, with less one-on-one communication, we have now ended up in the situation we currently find ourselves: Anger. Hate. Violence. Incivility. And worse.
And, no I’m not blaming the smart phone for all our worldly problems.
I’m blaming us.
WE - are bigger than a phone. WE - are bigger than the internet. WE - are bigger than social media.
But - WE - have forgotten all this.
In this crazy covid world, we have forgotten that humanity is more important than how many likes we get. That communication isn’t just one directional. And that the world isn’t one size fits all.
We have even forgotten how to speak simply with one another. And how to speak civilly with one another.
And without communication with another - we are no longer unified.
Why does a couple, or a union, divorce? Separate, or break up? Why does a relationship end?
Is it because they no longer love one another? They can no longer agree? They’re not on the same page? They have different aspirations and life goals? They feel anger and hostility toward each other? They cannot even communicate with each other any longer? They are disgusted with one another and cannot stand the sight of the other? Maybe, maybe all of the above… but maybe it’s the simple fact that they no longer want to share a life together. After all, love cannot be forced.
So, what happens when we, as a nation, no longer agree with another?
What happens when we no longer love our neighbors?
When we cannot agree on the definition of words?
We are basically speaking different languages at that point, right?
Speaking different languages is not always a problem. There are people who speak different languages all over the world, and they all don’t disagree with and hate one another.
It’s the actions one takes that lead to agreement or disagreement. Civility or incivility. A smile and a handshake go a long way, especially if two people standing before each other do not understand the words coming out of their mouths.
But what happens when two people who do speak the same langage stand before each other, attempting communication, and one word means something to one of them, and the same word then means something else - something completely different - to the other? The meaning being contradictory, the opposite of intention… leading to anger, or violence over perceived meaning?
Are we in the denial phase of breaking up our relationship in this country right now?
I don’t know… maybe we are well past denial at this point. Maybe we’re well engulfed in the anger phase by now?
Yes, that must be it. Because all I see is anger and hostility - on the news anyway.
In real life, it’s a completely different story.
In real life, I see the sun rise. I see people walking on the beach… passing each other and smiling. I see myself shopping in the grocery store. And real people being real nice to one another.
I even still see neighbors helping neighbors.
Could it be that the news and media paints a different picture of real life? Are we in denial of what’s really happening, or is what’s really happening just happening differently in different locales? Is one person’s perception of the same matter differently perceived by the other? Can we even wrap our heads around that question? Yes, maybe that’s it. What’s happening online really is happening, but some people can’t see it? And maybe some people see the same thing but completely differently.
Who knows? But, either way, I still see us falling.
My perception is I see the country falling apart. As some are still baking cookies for one another, others are beating people in the streets. Bloody and bruised. Chocolate chips and cinnamon rolls. Hatred and anger. Lemonade stands and block parties. Fires and bear spray.
And, due to all this disagreement we have with each other - Is it time we broke up with one another?
No. I argue, No.
It’s not time.
We have a long road ahead. With each other.
Side by side.
Agree and disagree.
We should not divorce.
We have reconcilable differences.
We have differences - yes. But they are NOT irreconcilable.
In any good, healthy, solid, and long term relationship - continuous work is required.
We have work to do, indeed.
But, that work must be together. Not apart. Not separate. Not under disunion. Not under false pretence. And not under a guise of fake mediation.
We MUST work hard at living as good neighbors to one another. We MUST be civil. We MUST be noble. And true. And kind. And do it all for nothing in return. When did everything become about what you will get out of it? When did actions become simply about the reaction? And nothing more? After all, every time Lucy borrowed a cup of sugar, did she ever repay it?
When did we start not dropping off a plate of cookies when a new neighbor moved in next door? Expecting nothing in return, except maybe a smile. A handshake. An introduction. A civil conversation?
A long, long time ago, I guess.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. These cookies... they don't have to be homemade. They don’t have to be the fancy recipe straight from your Grandma’s kitchen. They don’t have to be gourmet.
These cookies could be a plastic box of store-bought chocolate chip cookies, sealed with a bar code and priced at $3.99 for a box of twelve from the Publix down the road.
But, here’s an even bigger secret. You don’t even need to bring cookies with you. You just need to say hello.
No, you see - It’s not the cookies we have forgotten, and it’s not that we cannot afford $3.99 with endless bills to pay, with worries over rent and healthcare. It’s the act of walking next door that we have truly and utterly and sadly forgotten and completely eliminated from our lives. The act of crossing the lawn, getting shoes wet from the morning dew on the blades of cut grass. Walking up the front lawn, climbing the porch, and ringing that gosh darn effing door bell - with good intention in our heart.
Cookies not included.
Cookies not needed.
Just a Hello.
Just a Welcome to the neighborhood.
We have definitely forgotten this simple act.
And who am I to even write about it? I have forgotten it too. Well, I haven’t forgotten. I do THINK of it when someone new moves in. But that’s about it. I THINK. I don’t ACT on it. After all, who has time for all that, right?
I’m the busiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I am living my very best life. But I am NOT partaking in dropping cookies at people’s doorsteps. And maybe that’s where this whole thing has gone wrong. Right freaking there.
I am truly happy. Extremely happy. Immensely happy. I am busy. I work hard. I love my family and friends. But when’s the last time I welcomed a new neighbor? I have no freaking idea.
I must give myself some credit though where credit is due. This Christmas, my husband and I made hundreds of cookies - piles and piles of cookies. The proof is on my Youtube Channel if you don’t believe me. And I did deliver cookies to neighbors and strangers alike. But this is simply one small act.
And today, I made a double batch of cookies for work tomorrow. A coworker's last day. For a ‘party’ and for my best wishes to send this person onto their next adventure in life.
One other small act.
These little acts. They do add up. They become our life. And our lives. If we are not interacting with one another regularly, in real life, then how can we have a civil relationship with each other in real life?
We need to say hello. We need to get to know one another. We need to have a relationship, other than by our avatars and screen names. Outside of the computers and not reflected through our phone screens. Let’s toss aside our usernames, and use our real freaking names.
So, is it time we broke up? Should we be getting a divorce?
I still say NO.
Now is not the time to call it quits.
We have still but a fleeting moment.
Not even now, as cities burn once again. Not even now, as the world seemingly readies itself for another war. Not even now, as more death engulfs the world. Not even now, as Evil reigns. And Evil thinks it’s winning. The flames having the upper hand. With fireworks in the night sky, and the Devil staring straight at us front and center. World War III on the horizon.
We can still work this out.
And we can stave off a civil war. But, we must heed the warning signs.
We can find the reconcilable parts of our hearts. And join together once again. As one nation, undivided.
And then we can have a simple block party. Hot dogs and beers all around. Slip, sliding away. Party in the USA. Everyone’s invited - Kimmy Gibbler included. And cookies are not required.~
~ Saying Goodbye, Once Again - and Forever - to More Social Media Sites ~
God Bless You.
In the beginning… And in the very, very end…
You - and only you - are accountable to yourself. No one else can truly hold you accountable - to your actions, your beliefs, and to your own integrity.
So, how does one maintain accountability in this wild and crazy technological era, this day of non-stop scrolling, in this data-driven age? An era where seemingly anything, and everything, goes. Laughter and madness reign equally supreme. Until they don’t...
Whom holds who accountable?
The answer - always - begins, and ends, with yourself.
Believe it or not, your actions, do matter in this world.
You are your own measurement of success. And failure. And mistakes. And misgivings. You know your own heart - and no one else needs to know it like you do. And thus, you own your knowledge, education, and accomplishments too. You are your own person. You are who you believe yourself to be. And ultimately, you are a product of your own actions.
And you, and only you, can take the action to decide to be on social media, or not. To be a part of all the laughter and the madness... The boredom and addiction of the scroll... the insanity of the comment section…
You decide whether you want to be associated with these companies. This is a very personal decision that only you can make.
And here’s my personal decision:
Today, I left social media. Yes, I’ve now said even more Goodbye’s.
I suppose I’ve said a lot of goodbye’s lately - piles and piles of goodbye. Earlier this month I informed y’all that I had deleted my two Twitter accounts. And by the way - I don’t miss them ONE FREAKING BIT!
Also earlier this month, in anticipation of today’s actions of closing the accounts altogether, I had deleted the apps of all the social media sites I was on as well.
So today, I went ahead and I did a whole heck of a lot more deleting. And I’m writing it all down right here. To maintain accountability - with myself. To boldly hold myself in check. To document date and time stamp. This post is my record and documentation of fact. My accountability to my own soul.
Today, Monday, March 22, 2021, I deleted social media and internet accounts and apps from my phone, my browser, my Macbook, and from my life. These sites include some of the big, main social media sites, plus some many more random apps and sites and bookmarks and memberships.
Why? You ask?
Because of everything, and anything.
Because if I don’t hold myself accountable, I cannot hold companies that I conduct business with accountable. And if you are on social media, you ARE conducting business with those media empires. And, most of them, they ARE empires.
I believe social media is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to hang out. In a way, it’s kinda like the wild, wild west of our time. Everything and anything goes. Amidst all the drama and divisiveness and anger and hate and censorship and blocking and cancelations and deletions. All that wildness all still happens - before it goes ahead and gets itself canceled. After all, something has to actually happen, before they can unhappen it, right?
I am seeing these vast media empires setting extremely dangerous precedents, one after another. Including the old originals and largest and most popular social media sites. And I won’t even get into the newer platforms that are continually growing beyond their elders and taking over in terms of membership numbers. Plus, social media sites seem to be joining up with the actions of many other very large corporations of our time. Partnerships. Mergers. And they are all seemingly going in one direction. They’re all targeting one thing:
Reaching for more and more data:
Each time we click, scroll, accept, and check, we are giving away a piece of ourselves:
And they continue to invade more and more of our privacy:
Our very souls...
Will they be coming for our intestines? Track our bowel movements?...
I shouldn’t speak too soon, should I?
But the scarier part of these precedents, is that they don’t seem to care about the precedents they themselves are setting. And I cannot, in good conscience, support - any - of these companies any longer.
The only thing left, and it’s hanging on by a thread - and I mean a very thin thread - is my personal, and private, Facebook account. And that’s as of this writing. And believe me when I say, it’s weighing on that good conscience. I do believe Facebook has been in long decline for quite some time now. It’s all the negativity, all the data breaches, all the arguments. And I’m hanging on, just barely, without the app, logging on for extremely brief periods of time, through browser only, without bookmark, for right now. But sadly, I’ve seen too many relationships destroyed because of Facebook. And I don’t see the good of it outweighing the bad much longer for me.
Let me tell you - None of this is easy to do. I LOVED that infamous grid style imagery platform. It was my absolute favorite social media. And I’m proud of every single photo I had once displayed on the site. I love photography, and it was a swell venue to showcase my adventures snapped via camera. My grid consisted mostly of flowers, doggies, and donuts - silly, yes - popular, no - but mine. Or was it?
But, in the end, I had to make a choice. A choice I knew I was edging toward with each passing day. Deleting and canceling my membership was as difficult a decision as was my act of deleting my entire Etsy shop last year. But if I can’t stand with my integrity intact, I will not stand, because my integrity means as much to me as the action of standing up. I, therefore, cannot support the companies I disagree with in any way, any longer. And I’m not perfect, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve made as many mistakes as have these companies. But, I know my own integrity. And I don’t really know theirs. And like I already stated, I’m still on Facebook. So - there is that. Make of it what you will.
But basically, I have reached a point that I’m not going to humor these places anymore. I’m not going to join along. I’m done playing their games. And I’m not going to be another number. One more person, contributing to the degradation of civil society. I am doing my part. By getting off their platforms. Before they can banish me into the dark and desolate forest, simply because I sneezed in the wrong direction. And if you think I’m exaggerating, then bless your delicate little heart. Because that’s exactly what will happen. Someone will literally sneeze in the wrong direction, and then… may God save their soul from the wrath of social media bots and bunnies and banishers.
And It’s all THEIRS. Not mine. I don’t own anything I do while visiting their institutions. That question of personal data sharing should concern every human being on this planet. If the data they take from us is not concerning to you, I am then and now concerned for your own safety, privacy, and well being.
I’m done selling myself - body and soul - and I’m done giving away my data to them. After all, these companies have reached a point where how much more data can they possibly want and attempt to extract from us all? Next, someone will come along and say we need rectal swabs to get on airplanes… oh wait, that is actually happening in 2021.
Like I said - our intestines.
So now, with my own accountability in check - I am really one less. One less bunny bot contributing to the complete and utter destruction and annihilation of civil society. By deleting the apps. By deleting the accounts of my choosing. All and each stemmed from specific reasons that shall remain private. But each one was picked and chosen for very specific reasoning.
So, because of Everything, and just maybe because of how you treat literally Everyone - Goodbye - And Good Riddance to social media. And God Bless you, too. ~
~ A Film Just Before Its Time ~
If there ever was a film I was terrified of upon its release - it was this one.
Just the other day, I recently re-watched “Contagion” - the now infamous film from 2011 - starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon, amongst many other notable actors and actresses.
I had seen Contagion ten years ago, upon its release. And I remember thinking at the time how scary of a film it truly was.
To me - Contagion was a horror film.
An apocalyptic film.
A sci-fi film.
A nightmare scenario.
Eerie. Very eerie.
A film that scared the living daylights out of me.
It shook me - to the core. But, why?
I could never really understand that. Why? Why did this film so severely affect me at the time of initial viewing? Was it a sense of foreboding? A sense of truth in terror? A feeling that fiction is reality? Or can someday be?
Can all fiction someday come true?
And what about historical films? Can history repeat itself? Was there ever a film made about the 1918 influenza outbreak? If so, did anybody learn anything from it? Or were we just doomed to have it all happen all over again, no matter what film was made, or not? No matter what happened in the past, does history always repeat itself?
I also remember thinking at the time that I could NEVER, EVER rewatch this film. It was too horrific for my brain to process this storyline more than once. A note to self - once and done. If this film happened to reair on cable tv years later, I would NOT be viewing it. Remember - CONTAGION.
Well, little did I know that I’d actually watch it two more times in the next ten years.
Was I crazy or something? Why would I purposely subject myself to a film that so obviously had shaken me?
At the very beginning of the Covid 19 outbreak, just a bit before it was formally declared a global pandemic, so a little over a year ago now… I went ahead and rented Contagion from the Jacksonville Public Library.
Something told me it was time to rewatch this scary film. There were things happening in the news that sounded awfully similar to what I had watched all those years before, on screen.
What the heck was I doing?
I brought home the DVD, carried it in the house, and I let the disc just sit there on my console table. I was thinking - contemplating…
Should I rewatch this horror?
But I was curious. Very curious.
And - By this time, nine years had gone by since I watched the film.
It was the year 2020. I had turned 39. Nothing scared me anymore. Nothing.
I had changed A LOT in those nine years since first viewing the film.
Now, I actually LIKE watching horror films. Apocalyptic films, sci-fi films, suspense films, thriller films, you name it, if it keeps my brain utterly and totally occupied, I’ll watch it. And I enjoy them all.
So, as the world was getting closer and closer to a nasty and evil and very real pandemic raging outside our walls, I had Contagion sitting there - waiting for me to view it once again.
So as the real life nightly news began preaching more and more about washing hands, using sanitizer, and cases of this novel coronavirus spreading widely, my curiosity peaked.
I ended up putting the DVD into the player, and I hit play. On a lovely evening, after a very busy day at work, and with a tv dinner in hand, my husband and I rewatched Contagion - for the second time.
This time, I watched it from start to finish - with the backdrop of a real life, strange, and mysterious virus standing just outside my door.
This time, I watched with an open mind.
This time, I watched to see how the world handled itself in this fictional crisis and war-like situation.
Well - of course - the world went crazy. Completely and utterly crazy.
On this fictional Earth - There were protests and riots, destruction and houses broken into. There were gunshots. There were bare store shelves, military on the streets, quarantines, and gloves, and hand sanitizer, and blockades, masks, and treatments, studies and vaccine research. And there was isolation, and school closures, contact tracing, and even discussion on how to allocate and distribute those precious vials of potential immunity. This list does go on.
It was all there.
It was scary, yes.
But it was still so fictional.
The film was still so out of touch with reality.
It was still sooo sci-fi.
We finished off the film. And went to bed. And went back to normal and not so crazy life. But, I guess, little did we know at the time that normal life wouldn’t be so normal anymore. Just a matter of days and weeks later. All that crazy - was coming our way.
As I slipped the DVD in its case and then slid it through the return slot at the library… the world outside went ahead and changed on us all.
So then the pandemic came. Once upon a time in a not so distant world. A virus plagued us all - IN. REAL. LIFE.
The fictional world of Contagion came true.
With shocking and detailed accuracy. Even down to conspiracy theorists influencing millions of people in various ways, and people wearing bubbles around their heads.
So as the one year anniversary of the plague came around, I found myself the other day, in contemplation, yet again. Over the film - Contagion.
Something told me I had to rewatch this horrific film, yet one more time.
How would I view Contagion, after experiencing a real life one?
So, for now the third time, I rented the film from the local library.
And I did my now usual hesitation - but this time just for a split second. I laughed. And I popped the film into the DVD player.
What on Earth is there to hesitate about at this point? Have we not seen it all in this past year?
This now silly and comedic film couldn’t possibly scare me now! Ha! As I laugh at our messed up little globe. The problems humanity has to deal with couldn’t scare me out of my mind. Nothing could shake me - to the core - after enduring what we’ve endured.
So, last night, at the age of 40, and ten years after its release, with a dinner consisting of frozen pizza and club soda, we rewatched Contagion, yet again.
Gosh, Matt Damon looks a lot younger there! - I thought as the film began.
I laughed as they tried to identify the virus - it’s ‘novel’ said the CDC.
And I remembered how a year ago I kept asking myself, why are they calling this virus a NOVEL virus?
I gasped as panic set in, similar to the real life panic.
My jaw dropped at the bare store shelves. And the fight for food and survival.
And I flat out had to press pause as all of societal order - began to break down.
It’s easy to look back and think all this was coming, and coming fast, and that we simply weren’t prepared. It’s easy to think of the should haves and could haves - now.
But how could we really have been prepared for the apocalypse? How does one prepare for a meteor to hit the planet? Not everyone has MRE’s sitting in a climate controlled basement bunker, patiently sitting there and waiting for their time in the limelight.
I hit play again and continued watching. They spoke of people leaving their clothes at their front door upon return home from work. So as not to contaminate their house.
Matt Damon’s character repeatedly hands his daughter hand sanitizer after they touch objects outside their home.
His daughter spends basically a year at home, sitting in her room, and texting her friends. Growing increasingly sad, anxious, and desperate for the end to this worldwide ordeal. When would she go back to school?
Well, as in all good end-of-the world films, the saga did come to an end. They found a vaccine - not necessarily a treatment - from what I understood of the ending, anyway. The world moved on. People started to venture on with their lives, slowly, and hesitatingly. And the story closes following a bird and a bat and a pig and raw meat and a chef and bare hands, and then - a handshake.
I think the very end of the film is always what scared me the very, very most about it.
While Contagion was completely fictional. Seeing it for the third time shook me again - this time to the core - again. Yes, the entire film was a work of fiction. But what was nerve-wracking and shocking to me, now, with this third viewing, was how true to life the entire storyline was. How did this film predict all that was to come? How did this story come true - down to a T? To the finest detail?
It was as if real life over this past year was scripted to match this film. Or was it that the film had been scripted to match the future real life? It all was just so eerie to watch. It was truly scary. Can fiction really become reality? And you know what? It was probably more difficult to watch the film for this third and final time. That’s right, I finally don’t need another viewing. Three and I’m done. I’ve lived through the film and I’ve lived it in real life. Next in line for viewing, please.
What was it about it for this third viewing that was so shocking to me? Why did the film originally shake me to the core ten years ago? Why was I so scared watching a piece of pure and utter fiction? Why did the bat and the pig and the raw meat imagery stay in my mind for all those years?
Maybe, just maybe, it was because I knew, ten years ago, deep in the back of my mind, how real and possible and true this piece of fiction could become, if we just gave it enough time. ~
~ Happiness in the Midst of All Adversity ~
I was driving down 1st Street yesterday - March 10, 2021 - and a sign above a local bar captured my eye:
‘A YEAR AGO THIS WAS OUR LAST NORMAL DAY AND NOBODY KNEW IT’
What a sign, right?
Our last normal day...
Yes, Goodbye to normalcy. One year ago.
That’s because, today - one year ago - a global pandemic was formally declared.
And with that formal declaration, the world as everyone knew it… changed forever.
Whether or not that nasty and sticky little coronavirus touched us personally, every single human being on this planet has been affected in some way or another. And we all continue to be. The ripple effects - monstrous. The waves - continue.
But there’s just something strange about marking one year. One year of anything life changing, really. It reminds me - in a very somber way - of the sad and solemn anniversaries that come round each year on September 11th.
But while, every year, on September 11th, I am extremely sad - today, I am not.
Today - I am happy. Truly happy.
Religiously - happy.
Happy to be alive.
Happy to have survived this past year intact.
Happy for everything I have learned.
Happy with how my life has changed over the course of the pandemic year.
Grateful for everything.
Grateful for everyone.
Thankful for everything and everyone I said hello to. And met this past year.
Thankful for everything and everyone I had to say goodbye to over this past year.
So, today, just for kicks, and since I deleted Twitter just the other day, I went ahead and removed some apps from my phone that I was - well - pretty sour with, let’s just say. While I deleted Twitter entirely, I deleted the following apps today and still have accounts as of today - Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Facebook Business, and Facebook Messenger.
I decided the benefits of having the apps themselves did not outweigh the risk. I decided I will need to reach all these sites with a browser, and not an app any longer.
But these are very easy decisions for me. Because I’ve said Goodbye lots of things these past years…
Hello masks and face shields and gloves.
Goodbye toilet paper.
Hello hand sanitizer.
Goodbye in-person meetings.
Goodbye Kirk Douglas, Kobe Bryant, Kenny Rogers.
Hello Dr. Fauci.
Goodbye job. Goodbye Etsy shop.
Hello new job.
Hello new neighbors.
Hello new friends.
Hello new routine.
Hello new entertainment.
And - Goodbye 2020.
And now that we’re well on our way into 2021, and seeing this beautiful new year unfold before us, I wonder… What will we see Goodbye to this year? What miracles await us? What excitement awaits? What dreams will fall from the Heavenly clouds and into our minds and hearts?
So, while September 11th will always and forever be sad to me, and the tears always roll down my cheeks, no matter how hard I fight them. Today, March 11th, every year, I will always remind myself to be happy.
Because happiness reigns in my heart as I mark this one year anniversary. And happiness is what I have made of this past year.
Because, if there’s anything great, noble, big, and phenomenal, that this pandemic has taught me... it’s that nobody can take my happiness away. No matter how bad the world gets. I am in control. I know the course I’m headed. With Mercy and Comfort in my heart. Faith - intact. And my beliefs - unwavered. I am the one who makes ME happy. I am the one who steers my own ship. And I am the one who lives my life. Nobody else can do it for me. Nobody else is going the same way. And nobody can take any of it away from me ~ unless I let them.
So, as they say - COME AND TAKE IT. ~
~Saying Goodbye to The Most Destructive Social Media Platform on the Planet~
Today I finally deleted my Twitter accounts. Accounts - plural - because I had two accounts… a public Twitter, and a private Twitter.
But either way - they’re both gone as of today. So, goodbye - and good riddance - Twitter.
I have had an on again/off again sorta relationship with Twitter for a few years now. But today, we formally broke up. Forever.
Like - We are never, ever, ever getting back together babe.
The main and exact reason for my breakup with Twitter will always be private and, thus, I am not going to share that with you here today. But I am very happy, indeed, to share that the relationship is over. OVER! And if anything I have ever written is deserving of an exclamation point in my writings, it is the previously typed one word sentence.
We are divorced.
Our union - dissolved.
Irreconcilable differences - Checked.
But - THIS - is not bad news.
THIS is good news.
Very good news, in fact.
You see - I am now one less person on the vast, and seedy, and quite despicable platform. One less is a sea of millions. One less droplet of water in a vast ocean of destruction.
And gosh, the waves were strong.
Like hurricane force winds taking place. EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. OF EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Don’t get me wrong, here. There is a whole lotta good taking place on Twitter. Like - oh, let’s just say - local weather reports. Or, maybe even announcements of the special flavor of the day at the local ice cream shop. And, maybe even a Tweet from your favorite author sharing with you the title of their next and upcoming book.
But the loudest voices in the room seem to be filled with hate in their hearts. And I just don’t have time for hate.
My private Twitter account was the one I really enjoyed the very best, and is, sadly, the one I will miss the most. It was there, behind lock and key, that I followed all my favorite people in the world. I read their daily musings and followed along as civilized society fell apart around us all. I considered it a private diary of sorts. Where I was brave enough to declare to my private little world who I really ‘had a crush on’ at the moment, and who I ‘loved’ deeply. Who would I go to the ends of the Earth for? Only my diary knows that. And the few people whom I allowed to view that sacred, private diary.
My public Twitter account, on the other hand, was very simple. And not very exciting. I had, oh, I would say, roughly about three followers, and I followed about seven public accounts - including a few bakeries. If I read an interesting piece of news, it was here that I would tweet out a link to said article. And it was here that I would find the donut of the day, and coffee of the moment. It was here that I would be informed of a 99 cent sale on medium iced coffees after 3pm at Dunkin. For goodness sake, if there isn’t anything more important in the world than to know about that sale, I don’t know what is.
But, while the public realm of Twitter can be filled with innocent coffee and donuts, and surveys about which drink is your favorite - the caramel macchiato or the peppermint latte - Twitter can also be filled with a lot of destruction. At the exact same time. There may even be a hate-filled answer to an innocent survey question about what your favorite drink happens to be. if there is any place in the world that can turn a simple comment (Tweet) into the end of the world - it is on Twitter. The Hate was real people. Real.
And I’m guessing that as long as you haven’t been living under a rock in recent history, then you know as much as well.
Somebody always misinterprets someone else. Somebody always hates what someone else has to say. I’m not even referring to myself or my own Tweets here. I’m just referring to what I have witnessed across the entire platform. And it seems Hate breeds Hate. And the loudest voice in the room gets louder, and bigger, while the smallest voice, or the most quiet voice, gets quieter.
My own footprint on Twitter was small. Very small.
And I’m sure not one person on Twitter will miss me there.
And guess the heck what? I certainly won’t miss that blue little bird either. Bless his little heart.
I don’t think there is one single thing I will miss by not being on Twitter - except, maybe - the weather reports.
It was Twitter that I have relied on during almost all previous hurricanes that have come through during the past few years. It was Twitter that stayed on strong, and kept going, if the internet service was bad to nearly non-existent. It was Twitter that I could pop on and see what the latest forecast was from a local or national meteorologist - up to the minute reports. What was the governor saying? What was the mayor’s latest press conference? Had the river flooded? Was 1st Street under water? Twitter would keep me updated. And help keep my mind at least a little bit at ease, as I watched a storm churn and whirl past us.
So, I guess I’ll just have to get my hurricane weather updates elsewhere. Of course all of this is easy to say right now - in March - when the ten day forecast ahead of me is ten glorious days of sun. Easy for me to say now, when the upcoming hurricane season is still a few months away.
Many people have survived many hurricane seasons without Twitter. I’ve been one of them before. And I guess in 2021 - I’ll be one of them yet again.
I said goodbye to Twitter for many reasons. Many, many reasons, in fact. And as I said already, I won’t name the reasons themselves here. And the reasons shall remain locked away in my very own private diary. But, I am overall ecstatic to share this news with you. The news of saying Goodbye. The news of hitting the DELETE button. And I’m happy to share this news with you right HERE. And NOT on social media.
Alrighty then - I’m gonna go eat some Munchkins. And drink my large Iced Latte from Dunkin. And I’m really gonna enjoy another blustery and wintry day on my barrier island. And I don’t need that little Blue Bird to tell me the weather forecast today either. Because I just looked up at the beacon of sunlight staring right down at me. Beckoning me to get my daily dose of naturally derived Vitamin D, as I sit down to read a good book - by my favorite author.
So, Goodbye Twitter.
Tweet Ya Later. ~
If you enjoyed my ramblings and babblings, you may also like:
71] My 69 Week Break From Social Media ~ Why I Left & Why I Came Back
~Finding Peace Amidst A Simple Morning Walk~
Thought I’d post my usual (daily) Instagram image right here today - instead of actually on the social media platform I just mentioned.
Because Christine’s Floridian Dreams lives in - well… Christine’s Floridian Dreams.
And while I do love Instagram, I also loathe all social media platforms.
So as I watch the world seemingly crumble - and desperately attempt to continue onward - around me...
That world cannot crumble me - and I continue onward as well.
And I remain optimistic.
As my focus goes inward.
And I go for a walk.
Sipping my steamy, hot, morning coffee.
And I hug my furry baby.
The world is at peace. Or so... it seems.
While I enjoy a blustery, winter day on the coast.
So today’s post - including the image, caption, and any relative hashtags - lives here, and here alone. On my website. And in MY dreams.
I’ll see you again tomorrow Instagram. But for today - you don’t get even a slice of my time.
~ Cheers ~
2020 ~ A Year of Art, A Year in Imagery:
The End. ~
There’s an old Irving Berlin holiday tune that has some of my favorite lyrics ever written into song. It’s quite a simple and basic little melody, and of all the old Christmas classics played on repeat each year, it is definitely not one near the top of the list, nor is it as well known as some of his more famous songs. But has a lot of sentiment, and, to me - it’s quite nostalgic. It goes a little something like this:
‘One minute to midnight
One minute to go
One minute to say good-bye
Before we say hello.’
So - How do you say goodbye?
How do you say Goodbye? To 2020. And how does one say Hello? To 2021.
How do you welcome the new year in? Particularly, this one.
After such a year that we all had. After such sadness and such joy. After challenge and triumph.
And after thriving success and ultimate failure.
After surviving a tumultuous year.
Because if you’re reading this - you DID survive 2020.
My favorite lyrics continue:
‘Let’s start the new year right
Twelve o’clock tonight
When they dim the light
Kissing the old year out
Kissing the new year in.’
So - How do we all move on? How do we all proceed forward? What are the next steps you wish to take? What will you kiss goodbye to? And what will you welcome in return?
I’m not a fan of new year's resolutions - because I’m a definite fan of making changes in the moment - not waiting for a defined day. A date as far into the future as an unknown January 1st could be.
Basically - while I do make goals each new year, I don’t really “resolve” to do anything - I actually act.
I do believe actions speak louder than words.
So, How did I act - last year?
I worked instead of wishing. I took steps instead of standing still. I produced instead of wavering. I painted instead of crying. I wrote instead of longing. And I filmed instead of pacing.
2020 was the best year of my life.
So, no, of course I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to say goodbye.
But I knew I had to.
And I knew I had to move on.
My dearly beloved song then concludes:
‘Let’s watch the old year die
With a fond good-bye
And our hopes as high
As a kite
How can our love go wrong
If we start the new year right?’
So, yeah, um… what can possibly go wrong, right?
If we do all the right things… and make all the right decisions… and keep our chins up. And all carry on.
Yes, what - my dears - can possibly go wrong? During this bright and breathtakingly beautiful new year?
If world news and national events are used as a predictor, then it’s already looking like 2021 will be the very best year of my life, once again.
Because - With great sadness comes great opportunity.
With terrible actions comes the possibility of reaction.
With traumatic surroundings comes probability and junctures.
For the option of turning a new path.
To go ahead and take that fork in the road.
To aim high - and aim for that awesome and completely unknown road stretched out ahead of you.
And while you’re looking at the distant horizon, scared and standing - now - in strange and foreign territory. Go ahead and keep hoping… keep loving… and blow a kiss at everything which is now behind you.
So, I blew a kiss.
And I did say Goodbye. And then I said Hello.
Cause basically, what else was I gonna do? I kinda had no other choice, right?
Sigh… As I waved goodbye to the old year...
Sigh… As I kissed the new year in.
And as I kissed, I thought of it all. A year in review. A year in imagery.
The goodbye to my Etsy Shop. The goodbye to jobs and income. The goodbye to that which does not need me nor want me anymore. The goodbye to dreams. The goodbye to assurance. The goodbye to friends and family. The funerals not attended and the sympathy cards sent instead. Goodbye to sickness, and politics, and news, and coffee shops.
Goodbye to my Hamilton tickets. Hello to my Macbook Air.
Goodbye to magic - Heck I even had the opportunity to stand in front of Cinderella’s Castle on the very day Walt Disney World shut its doors to us. The biggest goodbye The Mouse has ever seen in his entire life. I stood there, and I said goodbye, and knew I would miss it all so very terribly.
The closure of nearly everything safe and comforting in this world.
Goodbye to dependency, Hello to risk.
And once risk enters the scene, then Hello to more risk.
Hello to hesitance abound.
Hello to skepticism.
Hello to mystery.
Hello to new conflict.
Hello to checks directly from Uncle Sam.
Hello to my Youtube Channel.
Hello to paddleboards, gimbals, and beach cruisers.
Hello to nights grieving for my country and for the state of our nation.
Hello to some of my favorite and most meaningful paintings I’ve ever created.
Hello to writing that came from 2020 - lived.
Hello and rejoicement to the best doctor’s appointment and hospital visit I’ve had in ten years.
Hello to sharing that news in silence. With no one.
Goodbye to age 39,
And Hello to age 40. A new decade of life.
And as I said all those Goodbye’s.
As the sun set on the final day of that tumultuous year we all called 2020.
As dusk turned to dark - one last time that crazy year.
And as I watched the horizon line blur, while the ups and downs faded away.
The roller coaster of emotion… of journey… of countless peaks and valleys.
And, gosh my gosh - There was death on that horizon.
There were tears flooding that horizon, forming a ferocious mirage.
There was fighting, and there were bombs, and there were arguments, and bullets and lasers and bricks and fire and sand bags and Hate.
As all of that faded away - I noticed something strange.
I noticed - that HATE didn’t fade.
As everything came to a close, and as the sun sunk low under that line, Hate stayed. And Hate hovered. Hate lingered. And Hate was proud.
Hate was going to survive through to the new year. Holy freaking crap! Hate was going to welcome in 2021 - standing right beside me.
As I looked out at the road ahead, Hate stood right next to me - eyes gazed upon the same horizon line mine were currently looking at.
What a scary realization, right?
Hate stayed with us and Hate stayed with us strong. Heck - Hate had literally crashed my New Year’s Eve party and I couldn’t throw him out. An unwelcome guest for sure, but a guest that wasn’t leaving, any time soon.
The sky grew darker. As the clock inched closer to midnight.
The fire of Hate grew more intense - the closer to midnight - the brighter the fire and light.
As the bells rang. And as the ball dropped.
Amongst all the kissing - Hate was a cloud above us all. I could still see HATE - all fiery and bright - in the darkness of that all important midnight.
Amongst all the fireworks - lighting up that midnight sky.
No one else noticed - was I was looking directly at.
No one else noticed - it wasn’t just sparkles lighting up the black darkness.
No one else noticed - the fiery glows in the distance.
No one else noticed - the Hate all around.
The evil hovering - in the fog.
The evil hiding - in plain sight.
The evil - celebrating right alongside me.
So, gosh, I thought. Is everyone cheering for Hate? As the pots and pans were being banged? It was just so obvious to me that Hate had crashed the party. How could anyone else not see this?
Is Hate something we must live amongst, forever?
Does Hate ever go away?
How do we say goodbye to Hate?
How do we push it all away from us?
How do we push Hate out of our lives?
And if you have the answer, the more power to you.
Because I have no idea. Other than to keep living the good life you are living.
To Love and be loved. Live and let live. Be and let be.
Will Hate always be there? A cloud in the sky, that never dissipates?
If history is to answer, then I guess the answer is - yes. Because the funny, or rather not so funny, thing about Hate is that it seems to hover... in the background… quite strategically and amazingly skilled. Camouflaged into any scenery it finds itself. Just waiting to pounce.
I think maybe it can never be wiped off the face of the planet. It’s too sneaky, and destructive, and quite quick at breeding as well. And even if we separated from Hate here on Earth, Hate would still be somewhere else trying to catch up with us again. Like the forces of gravity spinning us round and round. I’m not sure if there is a way to ever unlink humanity from Hate.
But if history and the cosmos is the answer, then I guess we know what we have to do - too.
Yes - We MUST keep living that good life.
We MUST keep trying.
And we MUST keep loving.
We even have to give love when it’s the very hardest thing to give. When it’s the last thing we want to do. We still need to give. And we need to forgive. And - We should most definitely still Love the one we Hate.
Because if love triumphs over evil - just like in all the fairy tales we’ve ever read - then Love must be Lived to truly succeed. It cannot just be words. It cannot be just wishing. I cannot just be pacing. And it cannot just be longing.
And it cannot be resolved and aimed for. It must be practiced in real time. Not waiting for a better day that never comes. It must be lived and lived now. Through chaos and destruction. Through foreboding and mourning. Through fire and screams. Through all the rain and clouds and snow and sleet. Through the wildfires out West. And through the snow storms out East. Through the hurricanes in the south. And through all the rough oceans and the highest of high seas. Through patience while waiting for that better day. It must be lived now.
Love cannot wait for another day… sometime in the future. When you have more time. When you retire, or when you have the day off work. Love must be lived today. While you are at the grocery store. And before you even punch in to work. And it must be there well after you punch out as well.
Love must truly be Lived in order to thrive. And breed. And renew, and grow. And strengthen. Maybe it’s just that Love takes longer to multiply and spread - because it is so very, very delicate. But Love, in abounds, can surround Hate, and make it less noticeable.
I think that thought and realization is what I took away from 2020 - when I blew my kiss into the air.
So, if you are questioning how to transition. If you are questioning how to proceed. And how to move forward. And how to say Goodbye. While at the same time saying Hello. The answer may be quite simple indeed.
Simply kiss that new year in, and keep on keepin’ on...
Yes - and do it before you even feel like doing it,
So - start before you’re ready.
Begin before the word Go.
March before you feel like it.
And Love before you want to give it.
Live that beautiful life that you and only you have been called on to live.
Live now. And live proud. Kiss the new year in with joy in your heart. Cheers to new beginnings.
Live loud. And live gloriously.
And, as my very own take on one of my favorite old songs so goes:
Let’s let the old year die
With a fond goodbye
And our hopes as high
As the sky...
Kissing the old year out
And wishing the new year in.
What on Earth can possibly go wrong
If we start the new year right? ~
Christine Pieper is an Artist, Lifestyle Blogger and Vlogger - living, writing, painting, and filming in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, with her hubby and nine year old puppy. She made a major life change in 2017 by uprooting and moving from Illinois to the Sunshine State, and has been living her best life in Florida since - detailing all her many and varied adventures living and traveling the Deep South to share with you here. Her mission is to help you live YOUR best life - by getting out there, going for it, and making that big change you always dreamed of. Christine will inspire you to get over yourself, show up for yourself, and get out of your own way. The only one stopping you - is YOU.
*To catch all of Christine’s Floridian Dreams, just bookmark this site, and check out her YouTube Channel while you’re at it - why don’t ya?
Hey there friend - Go ahead and check out some of my other ramblings by clicking the links below:
36] The End Of A Decade & My New Year’s Wish To You ~
49] A Picture Worth A Thousand Words ~ Happy Valentine’s Day, World
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