No expectations. Realising two, for less than one

The life philosophy that is so perfectly captured in an ancient Scots expression of “what’s meant for you will not pass you by” is how I have always chosen to live. Everything either is, or, it is not. NothingThere might be a desire but there is not expectation – expectations carry the potential for disappointment. No one likes disappointment. No, I would rather live in a place of delight when something wonderful happens than be disappointed by people, events or life itself. In such a mindset the glass always is at least 1/2 full, if it isn’t overflowing! Within this is also the deeply rooted principle that there is nothing that I have to have. Absolutely, NOTHING.

As a six year old child my beloved, adopted, Aunt Dorothy had a price tag on every single thing in her home (and in the log cabin behind it) – she had an antiques business. I recall being allowed to pick up luminescent carved jade Buddhas only to discover a (shocking amount) tag on the base. Such embeds in a child’s mindset that all possessions are transient and that we are only their temporary guardians – this carries you through life with a certain ease of not holding the bouquet of life too tightly about anything.  Of not controlling, of not worrying, of rarely angering and not screaming when I do, of living in the precious moment, of being able to let go of things (and sometimes people, and definitely jobs) rather than have resentment consume me. Doing this ensures that nothing becomes a burden, or impedes my personal journey toward enlightenment. In life there are many things that will ‘no longer serve’ and in releasing, while painful, is (eventually) liberating. That is not meant to read as being heartless but I truly (also) believe in the profound words of Ecclesiastes 3:1 as found in the 1967 song by The Byrds – to everything there is a season.

I love estate sales. I am sure the idea of poking through a dead person’s things is a source of creeping some out, but for me (and quite of few like me) it is a source of unlimited potential of discovered (often inexpensive) material happiness. Last week my girlfriend Kanikaa and I went to two estate sales. Having over the course of the last year sold off all of my various chairs I wanted but one thing – the armchair frame in the French Louis XVI style (to cover – at least the front of it – in this totally DSCN9828wild 1940s vintage Chinese silk brocade that was once a long, full skirt).  Assuming I was lucky enough to get it, I had set a budget of $65 for it.  The chair frame was anomaly – the rest of the house was decidedly Mid-Century Modern. Even arriving by 7:30 AM for a sale that started at 9, Kanikaa and I wound up with temporary numbers 14 and 15. Thankfully I believe in ‘putting it out there’ if there is something I would like to manifest. Thankfully I will talk to anyone. At 8:30 I approached the vehicle with the two women who had given out the temporary numbers with Kanikaa. It turns out that Arielle and Amanda have a shop, they had arrived at 5 AM to be the first two in the door, and they were only interested in Mid-Century Modern. Also thankfully they were more than happy to put a sold tag on the chair frame ‘for me’. You can imagine my delight, Chairswhen we were let in in the second group, to discover that it wasn’t simply one chair, but a matching pair! And, AND, each chair was priced at a mere TWENTY-DOLLARS! So, while I might have been delighted with one, to get a pair for less than what I had budgeted for one? WooHoo! would be putting it mildly. But here’s where it gets even better – ultimately the frames became FREE. How Etegereyou say? Within hours of arriving home I discovered that an étagère that I had listed on eBay would definitely sell – recovery of what I had spent on it in the first place after five years of enjoyment and a modest profit which completely covered the $43.20 expended on the chairs. :D These are not fine French antiques, rather they are vintage hardwood frames from a now defunct furniture company in Grand Rapids, Michigan – the original paper labels are on them – I don’t believe they have ever actually been upholstered.

My girlfriend Doris, who also spent many years with a bona fide antiques business, offered her congratulations and expressed “Sometimes I wonder about you and how everything always works out.” (For other examples of these minor victories over material things please see the posts Pursuit and An utterly incongruent story of six lamps.)

Kanikaa asked as we returned home – me flying higher than a kite with happiness – how I would have gotten to the sale if she hadn’t driven, and I said I wouldn’t. But, she said, but you wanted the chair. Yes, I replied, but there is absolutely nothing I have to have, and there will always be another chair. Still, I am thrilled with the gift of the universe saying yes – once again – and everything working out for me – without expectations.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book ‘all that I need, or live life like a dog with its head stuck out the car window’ below, thank you! 

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travel anticipation

Tethering our lives to love

It might seem hard to process the concept of being grateful for starting your day in tears. To feel something, anything, so keenly that the only possible response is a clench of your throat, Staples-Mill-Pond-Dam-Break-2-bigfollowed by the flooding of your eyes where salted droplets spill as over a millpond dam. I am not particular in how this happens – only that it does. To feel this alive in sadness, in humility, in joy, in reverence, in gratitude, my truth is that I write best when I am so filled with emotion that the only outlet, after the tears have dried, is my keyboard.

I have been bouncing the concept of tethering around for a couple of days but suddenly it was the bonds of an impossible-to-hold-in-your-hand love that proved to be the greatest measure of tethering.  Tether is an Old Norse word. Traditionally, tether meant a rope, chain, or similar which binds an animal to a fixed object so as to limit its range of movement but it can also mean the utmost extent or limit of one’s ability, endurance or resources. It’s been commandeered by the tech community to refer to connecting one mobile device to another (such as phone to a laptop) to share the Internet connection of one with the other so as to sync mobile tethercontent and actions between the devices either by a wireless LAN (local area network) such as a Wi-Fi or by physical means such as a cable through USB ports. This post about tethering is not about technology… nor is it about animal husbandry, but it is about connection –establishing it, maintaining it and pushing the boundaries of our conceived endurance to be something more.

In just sixteen days I leave the (rather dull) surety of my life of the last six years for something unknown. To be honest the last six years have been the longest I have lived in any single place since marrying out of my childhood home 30 years ago. I am more gypsy than anything and Gypsybeing so planted has caused me to chafe just as any animal would tethered to a fence or a building.  It is a test of my endurance, my abilities and certainly my ability to perform superhuman (all legal) financial machinations, to do this. There is ABSOLUTELY no safety net (though I have listed my apartment on AirBnB and am selling some of my possessions on eBay in hopes of offsetting my collective expenses).  While I have leapt into the void in response to being pulled toward Croatia, I know that whatever awaits me is going to be trans-formative. That’s a good thing, to keep expanding and not to contract into some ever smaller portion of myself where fear rules and which can happen far too easily as we get older. But this action of mine is accompanied by a confluence of apprehension and exhilaration – the Swedes (bless them) have a word for this – Resfeber. With resfeber comes a totally illogical and travel anticipationunexpected need for ‘tethering’ myself with the familiarity of my pantry found in the packing of a duffle bag filled with teabags, Aztec Elixir Vosges drinking chocolate, dark Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, golden flax seeds, Odwalla Superfood Bars and a long discontinued, exquisitely scented candle (I admit to hording three of these from when they were reasonably priced) from the defunct Henry Slatkin & Co. It’s utterly insane as intellectually I know that foodstuffs are only too easily available to purchase, Split being one of Croatia’s major urban areas as well as having immediate access to the harvest that can be found from the sea literally 50 metres from the apartment I am renting. It is because I currently can’t read more than a half dozen words in Croatian and none of them relates to food that I have taken this action – a safety net of sustenance until I can purchase honey, olive oil, yogurt, butter, flour, sugar and fresh vegetables. Some part of me feels weak to need this tether  yet every nomad has carried provisions with them against uncertainty for tens of thousands of years.  I am managing resfeber with my tether of comfort – uniting the woman that I am in this moment and who I will become beginning the afternoon of the 6th of November – much as a child clings to its softie or binkie.

Earlier this morning the source of my tears was a video posted by a friend on her Facebook wall for two of her friends. Facebook (despite all the less than ethical machinations of the company) has developed something truly beautiful, likely on the success realised by Upworthy, called Facebook Stories. In this video (originally posted on Vimeo) a woman in São Paulo befriends a man who had been homeless for 35 years; a man, who but for the grace of God, who could be any of us. A man who bent by life still had the discipline to write his poetry every single day; this, kindness (2)perhaps more than the happy ending this woman brought about by her acts of compassion and kindness is what made me cry.  Our greatest selves are realised only in the extension of, being a vessel for, the amplification of the universal energy commonly known as love. His words expressed, her energies to empower those words. The connection to one another possible through social media that fostered a real community of support and an endless cascade of tears thousands of miles away; the pebble in the pond manifest, tethering ourselves to another (or a vast unknown collection of others) energetically.  We do as we have been done for – the coding of our DNA and the memories housed within the epigenetics of who we all are, our expectations, our will to survive or to create or to provide comfort it’s all “there” within each of us waiting to be connected, tethered to the rest of humanity. We can be envious, resentful and mean or we can take pleasure from the fact that what we give, who we are, is part of an endless ripple of love.

Friends have suggested that I am leaving them while also cheering my ‘bravery’ for doing this Croatian rentalwithout a plan, this action of mine isn’t either – it simply ‘is’. Life is shortened by each passing day – it is our duty to live it fully whilst we have power to do so, to embrace impermanence with passion and commitment. The recent death of the younger brother of my friend Deborah and  the discovery that both of my parents have been diagnosed with cancer served as the catalyst for booking my ticket. The 2″ square box of my parent’s entire lifetimes chafes at me even though we have not had contact in more than a decade of years. Facing such I recognised that I need to live more fully again. I also need to write again. Not sporadically but wholly committed to six to eight hours a day, every day for 88 days. My second book has no definition as yet but I know I will find it in salty tears at the edge of the Adriatic and the unexpected (but most welcome) kindnesses of people met as a result of social media who have become integral to my journey in this lifetime.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Hemingway

Olive oil, living wills and Martini’s

Yesterday I was been blessed with truly one of the most extraordinary days of sublime perfection a human being has a right to experience.

The journey of our lives is interactive,  there are segments of time in which we need to exist in a state of letting things unfold and others when the journey demands a willingness to ‘set things seget vranjicain motion’ and to embrace the consequences. Well, three days ago I finally booked my plane ticket to Croatia.  I will spend three months from November to February working (and hopefully writing in completion) the first draft of my second book in Seget Vranjica. I am ridiculously happy, but, I admit, I am scared senseless at the “OMG, WHAT HAVE I DONE?”, and honestly, as a writer, ‘just where is the money going to come from to support this folly?’ aspect of this. (As I write this my heart is pounding so loudly I am sure that it can be heard in my neighbors’ apartment above me.)

My neighbor Andrea lives (as many 20-somethings do) in a minimally furnished apartment whereas I have stuff; admittedly less stuff than in nearly 15 years as I have been culling my possessions for over a year now but still.  We have worked out (between us, not with our landlord as yet) that she’ll continue to pay her rent but give up her studio and migrate upstairs while I am out of the country and live with my things and I will pick up the difference, plus electricity.  She gets a “home” and saves a tiny bit of money, I have peace of mind – everyone wins.

Yesterday morning I awoke to messages from three men from OKCupid – two Croatians, ages 24 and 34 (the latter also charmingly “tucked me in” with wishes for a restful sleep), and one Italian age 44. The first two gentlemen sharing that my soul spoke to them through my pictures and words (at least one has gone on to read some of my blog posts) and the Italian is willing to travel more than 6 ½ hours by car simply to share dinner, dessert and conversation in English with me. I don’t care how young or old you are but as a woman who will turn 54 in February can I just say there is NO FINER WAY to start your day!

POutine

@lepetitpoutine

Andrea and I went to the Farmer’s Market about 10 AM. I had hoped to introduce her to my terribly smart, physically gorgeous, ridiculously tall, green eyed goat cheese maker and shepherd friend Max (sadly we got his engaged to be married brother instead) but I bought eggs, apples, the last of the seasons’ tomatoes, some shallots, oh yes, and Cotton Candy (spun sugar, candy floss) made out of Maple Syrup sugar. In the midst of this I quite literally picked up an apple from under a tree on the grounds of the high school and ate it on the spot – the taste of cold tart sunshine spilling forth made me so happy my eyes filled with tears of gratitude to BE “THIS” ALIVE.  In this pocket of sublime perfection of beautiful, organic food, happy children, dogs out with their owners, blue skies, cold air,  sparkling light, and Andrea’s “life altering” experience of eating Lizzie’s Le Petit Poutine for the first time the suggestion spilled forth from me (before 11 AM) to go to my favorite local restaurant The Revelry and have a Martini (not “normal” behavior). The bartenders hug and kiss me, the co-owners’ sister the same. I am NOT in the league of Dorothy Parker or Hemingway yet they all know I write and celebrate this. Zach (leading man of the dominion of exquisite libation) Hemingwaycommented this afternoon that Hemingway wound up drinking in Cuba because it was cheaper than doing so in the United States; he also paid me a supreme compliment that a year ago I might not have received as such – seemingly I am a “bad ass bitch” because he views me as being smart and wise and confident.  Zach also immediately noticed and commented on my “lightness” – I suppose such is the result of having booked the plane ticket to an uncharted, yet what will surely be an epic adventure. As we all know magic happens in “the void”. The status quo destroys everything worthy in life except the surety that tomorrow will be as today whereas magic happens in the place where we are most uncertain, where anything can happen, where we are stretched beyond our comfort zone.

“Let life carry you. There is nothing to understand, life just happens. Allow thoughts and feelings to pass through you – not be a part of you. Life is unfolding perfectly.”

The last four weeks of opportunities and utter failures in my judgment (including receipt of a marriage proposal for a Green Card and cash) have taught me one thing – most people have ulterior motives and their transference can wreck even the most perfectly idealized ambitions to leave the world a better place. I won’t belabor the two points that clearly fostered ‘the leap’ as I treat them as catalysts to get to my more authentic place and not regret for what might be lost as a result of my intolerance for varying degrees of stupid.

I made Andrea cry over the first Martini (there wound up being two each). Tears of (I think) being flattered to be asked to be a witness to my need to have a living will (on the off chance Olive oilthat I needed to be repatriated for medical reasons) and then of laughter as my segue was of trying to scheme a bottle of this seasons’ freshly pressed olive oil from the harvest my friend Marijan will have helped to bring in before he leaves for two months in Germany.  Aren’t Martini’s truly amazing things?

I know that ‘the magic’ is happening because risk is proportional to reward. Remember and embrace this – there are no such things as coincidences, but you MUST decide that everything becomes as it should be when we trust ourselves and our capabilities and leap into the void.

Go. Live. Fully.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Och Aye. Scotland and Freedom.

I have had a decade long love affair with Scotland that is about to come to an end.  I have sat on the edge of her St. Andrew's Cross, Adapted Gallery Page_editedentangled politics whilst trying to make one tiny portion of the country better, through my company Thistle & Broom, T&B, to perpetuate her traditional hand skills and unique culture and in providing economic benefit to the talented artisans and craftspeople that make their home within her geopolitical boundaries. My decision comes following the duplicity of an English customer and one of the 80+ year old Fair Isle hand-knitters whose work has only been available through T&B – my disappointment was immense.

My Scots blood is seven generations removed (and like most Americans I am a mutt joined with French, English, Irish, German and Polish heritage).  My maternal forebear, carrying the last name of Johnson was a mere scrolling signature of entry into Canada who later migrated to the United States, and who like so many in the 19th kiltcentury was forced from his Highland lands by greed and famine.  I do not self-identify with a specific clan, so I have also never worn a tartan or learned to properly dance a Highland reel (oh, but I do love a man in a kilt). I took my first sips of single malt early in December 2002 when I first stepped upon the sacred ground of ‘home’ and ate haggis six months later on a return to Scottish soil. I once sat with an officer of the Bank of Scotland spouting statistics about loss of jobs, the Diaspora, income disparities between the central belt (running between Edinburgh and Glasgow) and the Highlands, Islands and Borders whereupon he said “why do you know so much about my country?” to which I replied “why do you not?”.

I have ached over nepotism and patronage, smiled sweetly in the face of ridiculous levels of naiveté and been crazy angry over outright lies and swindle perpetuated by people who claimed to support Scotland.

I have been mightily frustrated by the “not-invented-here” Scotland comicmindset, the territorialism of middle level bureaucrats and the mind-numbing aspects of how 1000 years of subjugation can make a population of talented, intelligent people collectively feel like the utterly incompetent bastard cousin (Shaun Moore’s epic Wha’s Like Us? is perfect, do watch the video) – part of the family but looked down upon.  What happened to the people who affixed their signatures to the most important piece of diplomatic language ever written, The Declaration of Arbroath?

I have watched as Whitehall consolidated Scottish regiments just as the English banned wearing tartan in 1746, and wept. I have been welcomed into homes across the country, and toasted in pubs where I knew not a soul on entering and left richer with friendships that are as solid as Ben Nevis.  I have had a Scottish lover many years my junior who I still cherish and with whom I remain Glencoefriends. I have enjoyed eating fish and seafood hours out of her clear waters, and drunken my fill from ice cold cascades issued from chasms in solid rock. I have sunk up to my hip in a couple of peat bogs and been grateful for not ever encountering the quick sands found on her Outer Hebrides. I traversed her breadth, and width, logging tens of thousands of miles upon never previously traveled roads and made the last ferries on time in all kinds of weather.

Scotland is a home I didn’t know I had, until after 17 years of subtle messages made it damn clear she was calling me to her.  I have invested time, energy and financial resources I was ill equipped to make – and regret not one aspect of having done so. I have learn much – which I now take forward to the benefit of other countries and regions of countries and apply the T&B model. New beginnings. And so, on the eve of the Scottish Referendum where the country I have loved faces new challenges and opportunities herself I have a few things as an outsider that I have refrained from previously expressing.

DSCN9250First, a question to pose – if British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama are so certain that Scotland will fail why plead for her to remain part of the union? Why does her independence so threaten the state of the global economy as to expound on this? Why not just let the little country fail? I have a short list of whys and they have nothing to do DSCN9253with altruism toward Scotland’s population and everything to do with greed – Timber, Oil, Natural Gas, Fishing, Wind Power, Tourism, Whisky and Innovation (scroll down, there are astronomical values at stake here). There’s one more thing, when you perpetuate meddling in global affairs using the military for the benefit of “interests abroad” the Trident nuclear missile silos of the United Kingdom are located on the west coast of Scotland at Clyde – the Scots have wanted them gone away for a very long time, and England doesn’t have a place to put the armaments.

At least some of you reading this will understand the history, how Scotland came to be part of the United Kingdom. For those that really don’t understand – allow me.

DSCN0275 As for believing a word the English promise the Scots we need only to look to history; earlier today I Tweeted this image, at left, and

Let’s take a lesson from ‪#‎history on ‪#‎English ‘promises’ to ‪#‎Scotlandhttp://www.thistleandbroom.com/scotland/glen-coe.htm

For those who appreciate a bit of humour with their hard facts I commend John Oliver (Englishman though he may be) for his explanation of the Scottish Independence vote.

Scotland is where she is today because, very short history lesson, in the 17th century Scots founded the Darien Company to conduct trade – which would have been in competition with England’s East India Company. Aside from the various disasters which befell Darien, from the beginning England was keen to protect its trade monopoly, global expansion and world dominance.  With DSCN9259the failure of Darien the bankrupt Scottish aristocracy was offered a bailout – The 1707 Treaty of Union allowed the 1% to maintain their status and lands and essentially sold Scotland cheaply giving over her population and sovereignty to England to the considerable benefit of the latter’s trade, colonialism and war efforts. With that unlikely and largely unwelcome marriage the British monarchy realised 10% of all revenues from Scotland – go back to the Timber, Oil, Natural Gas et al link above and calculate the monies involved on an annual basis to fully comprehend that Scotland has been propping up the UK economy for a great many years (not the other way around as Cameron and company would have the world believe).

Now, least you, dear reader, think that I am a fan of Alex Salmond and the SNP – I am not. I also do not agree with most Scots as they wish (incredibly enough given that the Windsors are not actually the legitimate heirs to the British throne) to have HM Queen Elizabeth continue as their monarch (maybe it’s my being an American?) but it’s particularly frustrating to me given how much land surrounds Balmoral and the other properties owned by the royal family in Scotland and how these would better serve the Scots. Again, an outsiders view.

So, YES (a thousand times yes) I believe that Scotland should be a free and independent nation. I believe that the time of the British Empire is long over yet many upper class English men cling to the DSCN0401vestiges of the historic glory days where trade was really a pretext for pillage and meddling in the sovereignty of other nations (you really must read William Dalrymple to truly understand the history of British classicism, racism, bigotry, entitlement and arrogance that we continue to witness on the global political stage daily).  Yes, the ‘natives’ are restless, no doubt that the significant changes (should a Yes vote be realised) will be daunting to overcome (and I have doubts about the managerial, negotiation and diplomatic skills of the SNP), but if you tell people that they will fail there is no greater rallying cry to success (the heist of the Stone of Destiny being a wonderful example, another is Michael Forbes who has tied up Donald Trump for so long). New research shows there is a lot more under the North Sea than the “Better Together” folks would have Scots believe. And yes, it is getting vocal and ugly on the streets of her beautiful cities – this is a divisive, life altering decision for nearly 5 million people.

On the eve of a historic vote for Scottish Independence I am ready to sell Thistle & Broom. To let someone Scottish, I hope, grow the business in ways that truly give Scots the considerable bragging rights they should own because Scotland and her people are truly remarkable.  Step out of the shadow and own your destiny Scotland.

Sláinte mhath.

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pink

Walk softly, wear pink, and carry a big bamboo stick

Nikita and MadhuThis blog post is dedicated to the memory of Madhu and Nikita, friends age 16 and 17, who took their own lives in India this last week.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise but women really do make up half of the world’s population. And with that the solid density of sheer numbers it would be logical to assume we would be better represented – in everything (and safer). Yesterday morning a gentleman friend in Croatia posted an article to his Facebook wall which included a photo of the NATO gathering in Wales. He offered a comment to the affect that the photo clearly spoke to why our world is in such a state of dis-ease, decline, dysfunction. You would have to be a total idiot not to see that we are on the verge of outright global war as a result of civil wars in the Middle East, the rise of IS (Islamic State) and Vladimir Putin’s testosterone being just a little too high for any of our collective good (and unable to be treated medically); only four women are in that elite group of global leaders. nato wales

Servane Mouzan, brilliant champion of empowering women through her London based effort Ogunte also had a comment about the status of women yesterday; being underrepresented in high tech. Servane’s was an article in Inc. magazine which covered a study conducted by Kieran Snyder (who holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked in tech at very senior levels for more than a decade) about the disparities in performance reviews between men and women – it’s worth the read. And sadly, in the United States – not even one of the top ten countries in the world for gender equality (2012) – a woman will still earn a mere 77 cents to every dollar a man earns doing exactly the same job.

I (still) don’t tend to think of myself as a feminist, but increasingly I am completely disillusioned as to the humanity of a great percentage of men and certainly some women (the ridiculous and the outright mean anti-feminists who deny their gender equal pay while raking in salaries that make their net worth $12million USD basically by being a bimbo) who deny equality.

fruit of thy womb cathy hayes

Fruit of Thy Womb by Cathy Hayes

We are all, without exception, born of the “fruit of thy womb” so when women actually ‘need’ to have a day dedicated to the prevention of violence against them – 25 November – it should be an embarrassment to every single human being on this planet.  I am fortunate. Only once in my life has a man even threatened to hit me (my father) and I have never known the violence of rape but all too many women (and girls) know this terror, live with it daily, suffer needlessly from it.

Against all this I am inspired to the point of near awe at two separate groups of women in India (which ranks 20th out of the G20 countries for women’s rights) and whose paternalistic society breeds rampant misogyny, violence against women, perpetuates child marriages and denial of education for girls and women – the scope of which is heartbreaking and played out daily on both traditional and social media platforms.

First, let me state I don’t condone violence – of any kind. But these Indian women, the current ranks 400,000 of them and growing, walk dressed in flowing hot pink saris like gorgeous butterflies wafting across 11 districts in Uttar Pradesh (a Northern Province bordering Nepal with a pinkpopulation of some 204 million people) carrying long bamboo sticks exacting retribution on men for violence against women; these are the women of the Gulabi, or Pink, Gang. A woman taking on the role as a warrior is not new; recent forensic analysis by the archaeology team at University of Western Australia determined that historic Viking raiding parties were actually made up of 50% women. But those were side-by-side efforts with men, a model of civilization which our whole world would certainly benefit from embracing once again, whereas the Gulabi women are police, jury and judge all in one cohesive unit in a country that tends to turn a blind eye to meting out justice for women.

And now, girls. Amazing young women whose passion and determination to get an education, to avoid becoming a child bride, by owning something of their own and not only increasing their value within their families and communities but more especially to Girls Projectthemselves. I had been aware (in those fleeting moments of social media that slip through our psyches) of girls being taught to garden because of this Sundance Film “After My Garden Grows” by Megan Mylan (for those too lazy to do the math around the dowry conversation 20,000 rupees is the equivalent of $332 USD. Let that tiny amount sink into your brain. I just rediscovered the Girls Project because of this image, at left, the supporting article, of five girls who avoided child marriage by learning to garden.  As a gardener, this made my HEART SOAR! So I dropped the Landesa Organisation a note – and promised to include them in a blog. I cannot encourage your financial support enough. This not simply about young women in India, it’s making our whole world better by empowering our girls, giving them the tools to value themselves and create economic value for their communities. It’s about our respecting that “Half the Sky” is still largely underrepresented, devalued and debased and it’s in all of our best interests to fix this – now.

Do something, anything, in memory of Madhu and Nikita. Namaste. 

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How Doctor Who made me see something, more

This post is for all those who wonder, doubt, and diminish the impact their lives have on the world (and I will own that is also me sometimes) but especially for those who are about to give up hope and who succumb to the pain that society thrusts upon the fragility of the creative.  In our world of ‘lowest common denominator’ it is truly time we stand firm and own our magnificence – no matter how uncomfortable it might be for ‘the others’.

My dearest girlfriend in the world, Jennifer Sertl, posted a video for some artists that she knows in the expanse of the world – both in person directly and through her vast, interconnected social media sphere to thank them, to encourage them, to shout out their presence to a larger audience that ‘follows her’.  Her message, and the video itself, were not directed toward me, but as I viewed it the importance of the pebble thrown into the pond rippling outward – in wonder and impact demanding to be shared.

Please watch this two minute video excerpt from the BBC’s long running Doctor Who. 

Irises by Vincent Van Gogh OSA409

Les Iris, 1889, Vincent Van Gogh

As I have been reminded quite a few times recently that I ‘make a difference’ and that my gifts are considerable. I tend to discount some more rigorously than others but I am learning that in devaluing any portion of myself I diminish the whole of my being, and most importantly my integrity and what impact I might have (tiny, imperceptible though it might be). We are a flower garden, a bed of iris sharing nourishment, dependent upon conditions seemingly out of our control in which we thrive – or die.

If you only could pull a Doctor Who after your death; to return to the living for a few finite, spectacular moments if only to understand the lasting impact of your words, kindnesses, deeds and creativity. NEVER, EVER, give up on the fulfillment of your passions – with, or without, recompense. Root yourself in the soil, turn your face toward the sun, drink in life in all its glory, pain, and beauty and give that nourishment back in the impermanence which is common to all things.  Live with grace at your elbow gently guiding you (and sometimes violently pulling you) to create a masterpiece that is uniquely yours to give. Reside in mindfulness and passion, read (and perhaps write) poetry, create moments of magic for yourself and others.

“He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray. To use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world…”

The words might be from the video clip as Vincent Van Gogh is being spoken of, but I believe it is the pain of our experiences which allow each of us to create beauty in our own very specific way. All too often we fail to see ourselves as others do. And so, when I watched this, twice, I cried tears of gratitude in exactly the same place in which Vincent is overwhelmed. I am so fortunate to be reminded on a regular basis that my presence in this world makes a difference to others.

Starry Night over the Rhone 1888

Starry Night over the Rhône, 1888, Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh didn’t cease to inspire, and not just those of us who have ever stood transfixed before one of his canvases.  In this homage, Don Mclean’s “Vincent” (Starry, Starry Night) – itself a masterpiece – is set against outtakes from the same episode of Doctor Who; the result is breathtaking.   So I am now telling you, each who might read this, you are important. You – yes, YOU – make a difference by your presence on Earth (and in the heavens) every single day.

I am conveying love and passing blessings over you for all that you do, for simply being, and encouraging you to go on despite your pain and the pain we witness around us to create ecstatic beauty. And I am thanking every single person who this week (and many other days and times throughout my life) who has made me see what you see about myself.
OX’s – Te.

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The ferment of genius in a broken world.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
― Anaïs Nin

Flee

Photograph by Massimo Sestini, accompanying the Italian navy in rescue June 2014

According to (nearly) universally held scientific beliefs human beings have traversed the breath of the Earth for over 60,000 years. Migration is not a new phenomenon, neither, sadly, is the terror of being a refugee, but the epic proportions of displacement are all too familiar across the globe certainly are new.

Somalis in Ethiopia

Somalis in Ethiopia

There can be nothing more de-humanising than to have your community scattered, the traditions of your culture destroyed, to experience the brutality of violence directed toward you because of your geographic location (and the covetousness for what lies beneath your feet) or your faith. That we, who are all ‘of one’, could do this to another and not understand that we are doing this to ourselves (for eventually we always reap what we sow) is beyond my capacity to comprehend.  Being assigned refugee status and then being forced to live in an encampment with tens of thousands of others who likewise are forced to accept this fate and ‘live’ on the handouts of NGOs is beneath human dignity. And yet, according to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, UNHCR, there are more than fifty (50) million people living this way. FIFTY MILLION PEOPLE living in tent cities and if you can read this from the comfort of a home, where water runs in your tap and flushes your toilet, where you can bathe, and cook, and sleep anytime you wish, a piece of you – in our common existence – is living this other life.

I believe in the ferment of genius.  That there are ideas floating all around us, destined to be pulled down because at a precise moment in time we see a problem and know with every fiber of our being that there is a solution to it that ‘we’ have been called upon by the universe to fix.  Goethe understood it too.

Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.
                                                                                                     ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Because of her Lexus Design Award winning “Weaving a Home” project, I discovered the extraordinary work of Abeer Seikaly a couple of weeks ago. I have worked with artisans and Abeer_Seikaly_woven_tent_2craftspeople for more than a decade to find a way of taking their traditional skills and making them contemporary and commercially viable so, you can imagine how Seikaly’s efforts took my breath away. The conjunction of honoring the traditional housing of nomadic peoples everywhere, seeing in handwoven baskets a possibility for something more, and her training as an architect have created something truly innovative and worthy of the (all too often loosely assigned) appellation of genius.

In combination with “ovens made from old bath tubs” we might be able to fix some bathtub ovenpressing problems and build communities (and all the healing, dynamic energy which accompanies such) within refugee camps to restore a level of human dignity.

I have facilitated introduction between Ms. Seikaly and a friend of mine who is the CEO of Glen Raven (Sunbrella) fabrics.  I suggested that the integration of a rain collection and cooling system into the functionality of her design and they have now taken the conversation into the business development core of Glen Raven for direct conversations. I can’t know the outcome, but I see NO REASON why something couldn’t be developed for those living near salt water but within an arid environment to cope with increasingly demands on water resources. I am so very hopeful of something smart, and cost effective, will come of the connections I saw and acted upon.

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