Tag Archives: Art

Reputation Management and Appropriation, Lessons in Ethics from Edmond Dantès

My study of communications and public relations was taught by passionate adherents to Ivy Lee’s Declaration of Principles – that it is the ethical responsibility of a public relations practitioner to offer uncompromising truth to the public on behalf of one’s clients. Perhaps because of this, and despite working in high tech for 16 years, it should be un-surprising that I view the use of technology in the form of bots exponentially deployed during the United States 2016 presidential elections, let alone anywhere else, as abhorrent.

My various social media accounts address the complexities of my person; Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram serve as outlets for my professional existence while Pinterest and Facebook are more intimate expressions – at the intersection of these social platforms is my blog. While I have a blog I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself ‘a blogger’ (it is not a commercial venture). Yet my writing on this platform, having gone viral, has had impact – in part responsible for shifting public policy and the proposed exploitation of the pristine waters of the Adriatic in 2015/2016.  While building my own Instagram presence I admit to being thoroughly perplexed as to how (with the quality of photos and nominal content offered) fellow travel specific accounts could possibly have earned followers approaching 100,000 in less than a month. Thus, the clarity offered in reading Jess Gibson’s Dear PRs post referencing ‘bot-gate’ was genuinely appreciated, and it’s also why I take a particular delight at the failure of Instagress.

The truth has always found a way to be revealed, in our connected world discovery of appropriation, fraud or illicit behavior comes down to days, minutes or even seconds with a few keystrokes and keen intelligence. Throughout history there have been individuals whose jealousy, ruthlessness, greed and sloth have risked fortunes and reputations for (perceived) gain or retribution – Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo anyone? Just as Edmond Dantès took full advantage of his time falsely imprisoned to learn every skill imaginable in developing a faultless reputation and re-branding himself, every effort in thought leadership and in garnering a dedicated follower base, and fostering epic levels of engagement takes considerable patience, skill and acuity.

Beyond the Instagram bloggers’ ‘bot-gate’ other more widely known unveilings of deceit relate to appropriation of the resistance movement by Pepsi and State Street of New York City’s iconic bronze sculpture created by Arturo Di Modica.

The Tate Modern offers this essay on appropriation,

[…] to create a new situation, and therefore a new meaning or set of meanings, for a familiar image. Appropriation art raises questions of originality, authenticity and authorship…

All great art is subversive, a commentary manifest with physicality. Co-opting the passion found in resistance to injustice in its many forms, feminism, racism, environmental stewardship, and its related arts for commercial gain by the advertising industry has a vast history in the United States.

Fearless-girl-vs-arturo-di-modica

I don’t like what Fearless Girl ‘is’ specifically because she is contrived by Mad Men to gender-wash their clients’ bottom line. The $2.5 trillion (under management) State Street Global Advisors opted for a publicity stunt on International Women’s Day of instead of doing the long overdue ‘hard work’ of creating a work environment of equality and gender partity or proactively investing in education for girls on a global basis. For the unaware allow me to point out that advertising (in which both Pepsi and State Street engaged) is only related to public relations as it is a part of the greater communication functions in general. It seems to me if you are retained to represent the interests of a seven or eight figure client your responsibilities should include candid risk assessment to any proposal you present. Ultimately this all comes down to proactive reputation management versus putting your client in the rather costly position of damage control through crisis management.

With so much to lose why take a chance in the first place?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog 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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Living in Holocene – Days Like These

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”                                                 ~ Psalms 90:10 King James Bible, Cambridge Edition

Hennaed hands, a mass of humanity – utterly naked adorned but in red dye as a piece of performance art by Spencer Tunick, mudder races, the exhilaration of the Hindu festival of Holi (Festival of Colours) – even when things appear the same, they are so very different; hennaalmost imperceptible subtleties, we are all united in the common human experience. Our joys and happiness have depth and shallowness, clarity, lingering as memories, captured in images, put in frames, or as a ‘picture memory’ indelible to ravages of time; the passage of each day a special gift to appreciate, or squander, life happens, even if you choose to be observant you are magically, exquisitely, ‘in it’.

I walked to meet a girlfriend and her fiancé this afternoon, shared a Magic Hat beer called Séance – the darkest carbonated alcoholic beverage I have ever consumed (it was delicious) – watched the tiniest bit of the (American) football game, the pretext to get together so I could hear her wedding plans, see “the ring” and then walked the mile plus back home. On my return there were nine, nearly identical, small radio operated model yacht raced a course around five buoys in the pond of the park, the breeze lifted as I sat at the picnic table wet with remnants of the mornings’ heavy rain, darkening grey moved quickly across the sky and I thought of Tunick’s installation art as it had been shared via Facebook earlier in the day. I had, in turn, shared and responded:

“I think this is less about holieach person finding their niche as it is THE PERFECT representation of how we are all joined by our common existence, made of precisely the same “stuff” with minor outward physical difference (in this performance art by Spencer Tunick – he has negated even those differences to the extent possible – exquisitely leveling us in our humanity)! BREATHTAKING, thank you for sharing – I feel inspired to play with more words as result. ox, Te”

I thought of Tunick’s vision again as I was just about to clear the park, we’ve had snow (albeit a very small amount) in the city in which I live and, yet, here was an apple tree still holding all of its fruit – small green apples (yes, I filled my purse to nearly overflowing with them) – tunickagain, common in their experience and nearly identical in appearance. How many people had even noticed the tree? You can be certain that plenty of people driving their cars took notice of a woman in a skirt picking these apples! The Holocene, in geological terms, commenced with the gradual warming of the earth, within it is all the written history of the human species and places (“urban”) that have been continuously inhabited for nearly 12,000 years. We don’t think of our four score and ten in our youth, perhaps not even as our middling years encroach on our passions, but the underlying messages of the songs embedded in this post (thank you Bon Iver and Die Toten Hosen) which I have united to form the title of this post, for me, amplify and echo our lives  – spent in community and in solitude.

Necessary to our health, we must celebrate, make time for now so we have a long view of miles and miles and miles to recognise with contented sighs at the end of our days…

Marijan, thank you for ‘starting some of my sentences’ for me!

If you enjoy my blog please consider “buying me a cup of tea” in your currency to me via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Transcendence and Snowglobe(s)

boston at nightFor a moment pretend you are four years old, your nose pressed against the cold window pane, against the dark backdrop huge snowflakes fall and swirl in the street lamps’ golden halo, your tiny exhales fog the scene but magically it clears over and over again you are in rapture and you exist in this quietude of wonder for what seems like no time but in fact a half an hour or more has lapsed. Mom, or Dad or your favourite Aunt notices but doesn’t interrupt, distract or call you to dinner – as they are capturing this moment of your pleasure in their own memory to wistfully recall as the years slip by and you grow. The memory is palpable and shared, though you were blissfully unaware the gift your silent observation has provided. When your next birthday came around your tiny hands held the gift of a snow globe, and as you shook it the picture memory flooded back to you – because within the sphere was a small snowy landscape with a street lamp, exactly as you had experienced standing at the window as the snow and the street lamp merged into you and lit you from within.

33Bridges-Snow-Globes-Walter-Martin-and-Paloma-Munoz

See: http://www.martin-munoz.com/ for information about the artists of these contemporary snow globes

Some memories are more powerful, have greater impact upon us in the long term than we can even begin to comprehend. And when we draw upon these moments of our lives they aren’t remembered as a short film with sounds and words and precise lighting, no, I believe that they are recollected as the miniature scene in a snow globe. The swirling flakes of iridescence in water obscure the memory and then as the snow settles we are provided clarity – just a very tiny vision of what was, but perfect, absolutely perfect.

My girlfriend Jennifer had invited me to accompany her on a road trip to Boston and I admit I had trepidation over such because there is a more tenuous hold on adult friendships than those of our youth – perhaps because we realise the fragility and impermanence of life – it’s ‘reasonable’ to at least think about avoiding circumstances that could undo something which we hold precious. Once reconciled that all would be fine, it was with the experience of being a tour guide in Niagara Falls for three years that I planned and plotted – and while it’s hard to know how anyone will receive what you present them, easier perhaps with anonymous strangers than a dear friend, I approached this with nurturance and love. I was all in to map out ‘a gift’ and while I culled what I loved most about living in Boston and surrounds in the hope of providing a transformative couple of days of beauty, peace and experiences – I admit the anticipation of being back in Boston swamped my heart and head. While it would never be possible to share the gains of emotional experiences found in solitary activities (like a child standing at a window) such as riding my bike along the Esplanade, skating alone at midnight one bitingly cold night under a full moon on the (rarely frozen) Public Gardens’ lagoon, singing carols by candlelight and street lamps as Christmas Eve snow fell on Louisburg Square, swimming at Rockport’s Front Beach in pre-dawn waiting for the sun to rise, sitting in the courtyard of Harvard’s Fogg museum listening to viola de gamba and harpsichord, oh, yes, a very personal collection of ‘memory’ snow globes each impossible to share but it was the essence of these experiences I wanted Jennifer to find ‘for herself’.

deborah's snow globe

Golagai 2 by Deborah Barlow

I appreciate, and I see, and I am moved to tears and reflection and joy, and contemplation over the creative endeavours of others – even when I don’t understand their work as they might have intended. I had the very great pleasure to stand before this piece of art last weekend in the dining area of the home of my new (old – turns out we both worked for the same tech company albeit a decade apart) friend Deborah Barlow and her husband David Wilcox. I won’t lie, the biomorphic nature of Deborah’s oeuvre is ‘over my head’ intellectually but mastery of anything can be felt if not understood. My immediate, non-edited reaction to this piece of art was it was a snow globe, newly shaken, and waiting to reveal its hidden secrets as the pearlised flakes swirled around in the space contained within the outlines of the frame and it made me happy – no, rather, nostalgic and happy and filled with anticipation of Jennifer’s experience of the ‘edited’ Boston I had selected for her (and for myself to walk again).

Within an hour of arriving in town we were at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, within two hours I was reaching a (desired) state of grace and white light in my solar plexus sitting in quietude in the MFAs Buddhist Temple. Jennifer sat on the opposite side of the main entrance and when I got up she also did, her eyes brimming with tears, in that moment incapable of expressing words she could only repeatedly nod her head as she looped her arm through mine to steady herself against the wave of emotion and peace the various Buddha’s had gifted her. rasha-flying-solo

Memories come at us hard and fast and when we least expect them to, art is like that – or should be; we are transformed by being ‘present’ for the experience of someone’s gifts of artistry, how these affect and have effect on us. I might have initially connected Deborah’s work as a “snow globe” but now, forever, it will linked to the gift I hoped for Jennifer, transcendence.

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Dearly Beloved We Are Gathered Here Today – a love letter to Boston

mateDearly Beloved,

The vows we make to love, honour and cherish are often thought of as the point of commitment following a courtship, sometimes – without realizing how or why – we make a commitment long before we even meet the love of our life.  This love embraces us, carries our burdens when we are weak, makes us stronger, gives and receives, become intrinsic to our psyche, this love becomes ‘home’ in every sense.

Me, age 17, September 1978, senior year picture

Me, age 17, September 1978, senior year picture

At the beginning of our senior years in high school (at least in the United States) we are asked to not only synopsize four years (including a school year not yet ‘lived’) but also to frame our dreams and life goals and it’s not lost on me that my personal summary read:

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First, please note, I had never traveled to Boston as a child, I didn’t have relatives that lived there, no personal reference point to have expressed this life goal. In fact my first sighting of the Boston skyline was via the Mass Pike as a 23 year-old newlywed bride when we stayed with a friend in Newton en route to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where my husband had a job interview. In 1998, divorced with my former husband’s words echoing in my ears “I am keeping you from being everything you are capable of becoming”, my new tech employer gave me the option of working out of the headquarters at 55 Broad Street in New York City or the ‘geek center’ off of Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge; the location was a no brainer as I actually loathe how NYC drains me energetically, and because I have long been a proud member of Red Sox Nation – this was my rebellion against my hockey-loving father who “would rather watch paint dry” than baseball – I was Boston bound!

Map copyright and more info at: www.emeraldnecklace.org

Map copyright and more info at: http://www.emeraldnecklace.org

Boston. And surrounds. Separate but entwined, each better because of the unique characteristics of the other, a rich tapestry, a complex piece of music, a gorgeous piece of art, red brick and puddingstone, slate sidewalks and iron fences, arcing spans to walk across in the ‘Emerald Necklace’ or on “The” Charles – oh, my ‘self’ and my love. charles

For a decade I lived with you, was defined, made whole and existed as the best person I have ever been intellectually.  I (inadvertently) found sanctuary in Emmanuel Episcopal with its exquisite music and thoughtful, inclusive and very progressive community, every week you offered up lectures about things I didn’t know I needed to know at the Boston Public Library, Harvard, MIT, the Theosophical Society and Swedenborg Chapel and chamber concerts with BEMF and Boston Philharmonic, at Sanders Theatre, Jordan Hall, and the acoustically perfect Medieval courtyard of the Fogg.  I was left breathless and renewed swimming in Cape Ann’s icy coastal waters as well as inspired by the collections at the MFA, Peabody Essex, the Sackler, Fogg (which with the Busch-Reisinger will reopen this fall as one museum as designed by Renzo Piano) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner  Boston, my beloved, you gave me life as if I had crossed the driest desert to find an palm oasis with a single cup hanging from an ancient hand-wrought chain affixed to a stone surround protecting an artesian spring of pure water from which to drink without abatement. Sustenance. Oh Boston, thank you.

Photo by Raymond Britt

Photo by Raymond Britt

I have been back and forth since 2002 when life forced me away from you and all you give. And when, last year this time, two young men who you also embraced betrayed you and then set out to destroy all of your beauty and turn you and your surrounds into a war zone my heart twisted in wretched agony and I cried copious and unrelenting tears. Oh, my love, oh, my dear Boston.

A serendipitous gift brought me back to you this weekend, and what I carried now as part of my being was renewed in your energy in places as familiar to me as the shape of my own lips which I used to metaphorically kiss you with tender spoken memories created together and to express endearments held tightly in my heart but always shed in tears of gratitude to be back with you if only fleetingly.

cherry

Boston Public Garden

As I walked with my best girlfriend (whose wanderlust made this re-connection possible) through my former ‘front yard’ of Boston Public Gardens (explaining what she was seeing and my history laid against the backdrop) the memories of a decade of pink confetti falling from your 100 plus year old cherry trees fell through my mind as if I were inside a snow globe, in this moment of transcendence the scar tissue ruptured.  Not a helicopter heading for Mass General but most clearly a surveillance one broke the rapture, and then another helicopter two minutes later – I was undone.  Our hearts are resilient, our psyche’s mend, but still scar tissue reminds us that to love sometimes means that we will also be hurt, and that when our beloved is hurt it scars us as well.

I came home to you dear Boston for the purpose of sharing you with someone who needs your love as I once did and in incremental steps from Brookline to the Back Bay, to Longwood and the Fenway to Cape Ann and back to Cambridge to Beacon Hill – you did exactly what I hoped you would, you embraced, and nurtured and sustained with the deep refreshment of your very existence. Thank you my beloved, but you had one more gift – for me, thank you. You reminded me that home is not where you live, or where you were born, it’s not the objects which surround you no, truly, ‘home’ is where the heart is.  We carry ‘home’ around with us and breathe it in like an asana and Boston you have been my home longer than you know.  On this trip, at every intersection of my old life with my current one, you seemed to anoint me with blessings. Against your refined beauty you also brought me (utterly incongruent) Croatian messages, making it clear that my new lover whose spine curves along the Adriatic languidly awaits, ready to embrace me.

I will always love you, my darling Boston, I will miss you but you will always be my hearts’ home.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal, and do 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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Nostalgic and guilty pleasures found in marshmallow Peeps, honouring Mrs. Dwyer

I am a hypocrite in my food choices for the span of time each spring that it takes me to eat one four pack of Just Born (always the yellow ones) Peeps. I succumb to this guilty pleasure to remember and honour Mrs Dwyer.

Argh, sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and various food dyes – but I don’t care (though I wish I KNEW IF the sugar was GMO-free). 

Mrs. Dwyer was my 1st grade teacher.

Easter-time 1967, I was 6 years old and had a stabbing pain in my right side and a slight fever. Mrs. Dwyer sent me down to the nurses’ office. I remember hobbling the seemingly endless distance over the terrazzo floors, wincing with every step. Within the hour I was in carnation chairthe Emergency Room and headed for surgery to remove my appendix which they later told me had nearly ruptured. When I woke up Mrs. Dwyer had sent a bouquet of flowers – peppermint striped and white carnations, a couple of red and white paper straws bent to ‘take a sip’ all served up to resemble an ice cream soda. It was the first time (and obviously memorable) I had received flowers! I remember that they smelled like cinnamon, and to this day I can’t see red and white striped carnations without having my heart clench, getting a lump in my throat and thinking of Mrs. Dwyer. I have a chair that I reclaimed and refinished in my early twenties that I finally recognised years later was a tribute to her love – I am about to sell it after living with it since 1983 – but what is in my heart and head ties this to her and who she helped make me.

In retrospect there is no doubt in my mind that I was one of her favourites (after all the woman also came to my wedding and rushed the altar to bestow her blessings and kisses and hugs when I was pronounced a married woman at 23) but then, I was a scared little kid with a huge bloody incision laced with cat gut  who had just been soothed and affirmed as special by someone I thought (still do) extraordinary.

When I came home from the hospital three or four days later Mrs Dwyer magically appeared with an enormous (to me, at the time) Easter basket and amidst the floss grass were speckled eggs, jelly beans, a chocolate bunny and PEEPS!  I am pretty sure she had taken the Peeps out of their cello wrapper because I remember their being just a littlemarshmallow_peeps crunchy on the outside. The yellow sugar coating and the evaporating moisture of the gooey middle forming a crust. It is still the only way I can eat them – poke a hole in the package wait 24 hours and devour! Each one makes me 6 again and knowing fully and completely that someone (outside of my family) loved me. I was (and still am) the single yellow Peep in the sea of pink, purple and blue Peeps, utterly unique and special because Mrs. Dwyer made me so!

Our childhoods are filled with such sweet pleasures that we rarely recognise for just how special they are at the time (or later) and whilst I don’t live in the past, sometimes these extraordinary moments appear like a rainbow with all the associate blessings and I am so very grateful.

Recently another iconic brand of my childhood has been making quite a bit of social media noise for its “Wholesome” ad campaign launched a month ago (today). Honey Maid Snacks produces the ubiquitous graham cracker used for S’Mores and cheesecake crusts (like my Aunt Wanda Novak made) and made so famous (for a certain generation of us) by Bill Cosby in his routine on Kindergarten (timestamp 2:00). And, like many of the nearly 6 million people who have watched the commercial on YouTube and witnessed the ‘haters’ response to it, I applauded and cheered (and yes, Tweeted) when their response to the ugliness of a (very loud) but narrow minded minority hit the circuit about a week ago – entitled LOVE. But to the two artists whose efforts turned all the comments on the Wholesome ad into art – a special shout out. I noticed that the ugly comments you rolled inward, while the beautiful responses you rolled outward, yeah, I noticed. Love, should always be radiated outward and (though it pains me) let the ugliness destroy itself in its own shadows. We are one, and your art united all of our hearts – thank you.

smeepssmores

 

 

 

bunny smore

 

sugar mountain

 

 

I know it seems like I got off track from Mrs. Dwyer and Peeps – I have not, I assure you. Because while I have been thinking about graham crackers and Peeps, and the joys of childhood and nostalgic longings for what ‘was simpler’ I found a S’Mores recipe – made with Peeps! Coined S’meeps! And I thought OMG that is SO COOL – so I Tweeted that out as well!  Now, a tower of smushed, melty chocolate and Peeps is a far cry from Bill Cosby’s Kindergarten but truly, emotionally anyway, as intrinsically innocent and perfect as my long ago Easter basket.

peepssmores2

No Peeps or Bunnies were harmed in the writing of this blog post!

I wish you beauty in everything that touches your life, and hope that today (and every day) you will find a way to bring some memorable sweetness to your own and someone’s life who least expects such. Go forth and Peep!

Sending you love in Heaven Mrs. Dwyer, and an enormous heart filled with gratitude.

 

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my print or ebook from Amazon, please click on the cover art of my book, ebook also available through Barnes & Noble and Lulu, thank you! 

 

Vulnerability, a conscious choice to find love

Today is Valentine’s Day and even those ordinarily stubborn and immoveable hearts long for connection.  Connection, in its truest and most meaningful form, demands vulnerability – honest, authentic, weak-kneed, open-hearted vulnerability.  It is the integrity of our vulnerabilityvulnerability which issues forth the tenderness we wish to claim for ourselves and to enhance our lives.  Vulnerability is our collective “raison d’etre” – without it we are nothing.

At risk of sounding too go-hug-a-tree like Aquarian (that I most certainly can be at times)  I often wonder what holds people back from ‘putting themselves out there’ because it is in my most vulnerable moments that I know I am truly alive.

Meeting on the stairs

“Hellelil and Hildebrand, the meeting on the Turret Stairs” (1864) © National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

I don’t know that I have ever felt the purity of emotion and sentiment, the perfection of human love (however impermanent) so eloquently captured in Frederic William Burton’s painting of the the ill-fated lovers Hellelil and Hildebrand but I agree with the words of George Eliot (British, 1819 – 1880) who wrote of  the painting ‘the face of the knight is the face of a man to whom the kiss is a sacrament.’  Who amongst us wouldn’t wish to love in such a powerful manner? In this work of art, as in life, it is the vulnerability depicted which humbles and wrenches the heart.   

In contrast with Burton’s watercolour, earlier today The Local Sweden ran a story for Valentine’s Day about a widower named Nils 87 and his lover, friend and wife of 59 and a half years Mimmi – and my heart constricted with both sorrow for the loneliness he expressed and joy for all that he had the pleasure to know as her husband.  My girlfriend Doris knows something of this having lost her amazing husband Bob to cancer a couple of years ago after 48 years of marriage – each holiday my heart breaks for her aching loss, something I can’t imagine and will never know, pain I cannot abate for the woman I hold dearest and longest against all those people in my life that I love.

mosaic-heart

Yerba Buena Mosaic Heart, San Francisco, by Laurel True

Love stories, the ones that end happily especially, are what give the rest of us hope – to find that elusive connection with one person (while there may well be multiple soul mates, I prefer to believe in the “fairy tale” version of profound love that empowers, encourages, cherishes).

Some time ago I read the (miraculous) effort of A.S. Byatt – Possession.  A Booker Prize winner, both intellectual mystery and powerful romantic effort spanning the intricacies of two (primary) relationships, and integrating the fictionalised writings of Christina Rosetti (as the character Christabel LaMotte) and the character of Randolph Henry Ash (generally believed to based upon a combination of the English poets Robert Browning, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson) Ms. Byatt’s effort brought the stunning vulnerability of loving completely to very nearly audible breaths and sheaths of brittle paper held in our hands.  I read it twice, stunned both times, wanting the protagonists to cause less pain to each other even as their truths established the means of surviving their immutable hearts.

Rumi, ever wise, oft quoted in love, wrote:

rumiAnd it’s true, what comes back to us in any form of loving should not be the gift of our vulnerability but the beloveds’ version of it.

To be, in the words of the last man I kissed, “be full of fire and of tears”.  The passion that ignites a fire is kindled with fuel found in tears of vulnerability, transparency, compassion, kindness, tenderness and authenticity and there cannot be a strategic vision for success in such a realm.  We give ourselves over to love’s magnificent power – in hope.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Your good deeds – before man and God – Syria

ClementinesIt is Christmas Eve, Bach Cantata’s currently fill the air around me in my living room with the soundtrack from Love Actually queued right behind.  I just ate a couple of juicy, gloriously tasting-of-sunshine and warmth Clementines (which would have been the height of luxury a hundred years ago in a Christmas stocking) and the snow that is coming down is non-threatening and insignificant tiny wisps coming from the North (as it should be).

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My Christmas tree 2012

Some years I go all out with rather Norse and Celtic pagan and Druidic greenery overload (mantles, lintels, door swags) adding sleigh bells to my door knocker and then taking all the living room lamps out and living with candlelight and a Christmas tree lights for three weeks – which is fantastically romantic, but totally impractical – this year didn’t feel right about any of that. The truth is I have ceased to really celebrate holidays – not because I don’t believe in their merit, and not because I am Scrooge and holding onto a heart hardened and mean.  No, it’s largely because when you exist in a state of perpetual gratitude (as I do) there seems a falseness about the stress levels and overachieving and over purchasing attached to days that are supposed to be sacred and times for rejoicing and reflection; people fighting more instead of being bathed in pure white light – this hurts my heart so I purposefully avoid the pain.

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Henry Avignon, 2013, For Dylan Hockley

A little more than a year ago a man with a history of mental illness destroyed the lives of 26 families and that of their surrounding community and shook America (again) to its core.  And an artist friend of mine listened to the words of his son and created a memorial collection of art that is filled with light and love gifting the families with the images he created for each victim.  Shy of the year anniversary a song was published and recorded by a band called Alternate Routes – the song is called Nothing More (and you should listen to it) at the end of the YouTube video a not-for-profit that works in the memory of but one of those children is featured but the words, oh – the words:

To be humble, to be kind. It is the giving of the peace in your mind. To a stranger, To a friend To give in such a way that has no end. We are Love We are One We are how we treat each other when the day is done. We are Peace We are War We are how we treat each other and Nothing More To be bold, to be brave. It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved And the darkness can come quick The Dangers in the Anger and the hanging on to it. Tell me what it is that you see A world that’s filled with endless possibilities? Heroes don’t look they used to, they look like you do.

I didn’t put up a Christmas tree this year – instead I donated the money I would have spent to the special appeal for Syrian children through UNICEF primarily because my girlfriend Farrah (a dual citizen, American-born Lebanese) cried out for help on her Facebook page because ‘that handsday’ nine Syrian children had died of complications from the cold in their refugee camps.  And as the universe has this uncanny way of making sure that such things maintain equilibrium I have a bottle of Islay Scotch from my ex-husband to offset the ache in my heart of such senseless loss.

And so, when I saw a story in the Wall Street Journal about how DIYers were using their forearms to knit, huge chunky blankets and scarves my first reaction was to share it on Facebook and ‘hope aloud’ that somehow this skillset could find its way to these refugee camps so that parents stripped of their dignity through no fault of their own could be empowered with a hand up rather than a hand out, and create with their love necessary warmth to protect their children.

Which lead to the trail of posts and comments you can find here, which ultimately lead to this Tweet, TY4 FT  @ahsan_jehangir – http://www.thistleandbroom.com/…/tab_pr_2011_0504.htm … this is the beautiful yarn for @hands4Syr #PeaceAndLove pic.twitter.com/hIjBCAHkxF and a happy ending to my story – where my amazing Welsh accountant and his wife will deliver kilos and kilos of this energetically pure, certified organic wool from the Isle of Mull and spun at the UNESCO World Heritage arm knittingSite of New Lanark Mill to the drop site in Edinburgh this Friday morning and onward to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey or wherever Hand-in-Hand For Syria takes it.

The Bible is conflicted on ‘how’ we do good deeds – Matthew 5:14 says: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Whereas Matthew 6:2 says: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

As someone who believes in a Divine presence but is less certain about which monotheistic (if any?) faith S/HE is particularly aligned with, let me just express if there was a way to get all of refugeeswinteryou to ‘just do’ something amazing and kind and charitable by willing it to be so with my energy I wouldn’t be telling you this story tonight, the presumed holiest of holy evenings of the Christian faith – but I understand the limitations of my presence here on Earth.  I am not seeking ‘points’ with God, or with you dear reader.  Whether you embrace either chapter and verse of Matthew I tell you this story of suffering and action to challenge you, my readers in 201 countries to ‘do’ something. We are Love, We are One.

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