Tag Archives: Facebook

Caveat Emptor – Social Media Influence, the Frye Fest and Reputation Management

This is not an echo of these words of P. T. Barnum – “As a general thing, I have not ‘duped thePT-barnum world’ nor attempted to do so… I have generally given people the worth of their money twice told.”, but rather these “Every crowd has a silver lining.”

Every generation has a Bernie Madoff, a Kenneth Lay, a Donald Trump who beguile the seekers of vast wealth, inclusion, distraction or any combination thereof to part with their money.

For Millennials, at least for this end of April 2017 weekend, it seems that person is Ja Rule, née Jeffrey Atkins, rapper, and creator of Bahamian Ponzi Scheme also known as the Frye Music Festival*** 2 May update – Federal Trade Commission violations cited and lawsuit filed.

Like so many before him Ja Rule was successful in his scam (or “not a scam” as he claims) for two reasons, he understood the raw vulnerability of the masses (even privileged ones willing to spend upwards of $250,000) and created a compelling campaign leveraging LOTS of young beautiful women (gaining more than 800k views) whose only claim to fame is to have built very successful personal brands making them social media influencers as a means of monetizing that vulnerability for personal gain.

frye

The influencers (I think the term shills is more appropriate) among them Kendall Jenner (nearly 22m Twitter followers),  Bella Hadid (more than 750k Twitter followers), Em Rata (more than 1m Twitter followers) made out like bandits with paychecks reported to being $250,000 to stand around, or lounge in bathing suits adorning the eye with a promise of ‘come play with me’. Using Instagram they promoted, and promoted, and promoted and in doing so the money poured in. Sex, as ever, sells.

Kendall Jenner made 250K off of promoting #fryefest ,

Yesterday, April 28th, Ja Rule (allegedly) tweeted and someone posted a screen grab to Instagram that the Frye Festival was all a big ‘social experiment’ to test the mettle of participants in a Hunger Games like scenario of adversity. (Some of the related posts include drinking their own urine to survive.)

#fryefestival • Instagram

Time will tell how short the memory of the public is, and whether by association these women have negatively impacted their credibility and their future earnings, and whether Ja Rule will be the subject of both a Class Action lawsuit and criminal charges for fraud.

This goes back to my last post, less than a week old, about ethics and reputation management. The nature of social media is that everything good or bad plays out in real-time. In our Wild, Wild West of social platforms there is broader issue for Twitter and Instagram and Facebook to consider – if ‘sponsored content’ results in an abuse of the public trust by hosting the influence peddling content are you complicit?, and if so, are you culpable?, should you distance your business further from such content and somehow shift the juncture of revenue generation? If a post subsequently results in bullying, terrorism, human trafficking, stalking, domestic violence, fraud, wrongful death, or murder have your policies enabled such to take place? Will any of these potential tragic events subsequently amplified to audiences approaching 600 million people globally result in lawsuits for ‘pain and suffering’? Corporate communications professionals should be involved in risk assessment, and not simply for the sake of reputation management or avoiding crisis management. I hope that this weekend legal, executive and communications teams at various social companies are meeting to develop (or expand) policies and legal protections.

The public clamors for social influencers to more carefully examine their choices of endorsement deals, a fairy tale ending which will never happen. It is the idolization of the rich and infamous which brought these individuals to Exuma and they need to take personal responsibility for their choices.

In closing, Caveat Emptor

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! 

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! 

 

Politics, NOT as usual, Croatia’s presidential candidate Ivan Vilibor Sinčić

Hrvatska verzija slijedi engligh.

sunset over TrogirEach day starts with a unique promise – to change something about ourselves or the world around us.  I don’t think most people give this too much thought, but it’s always there, the possibility.  For six days I had been trying to break through the first line of contact to offer both my professional communications skills as well as leveraging my political campaign experience to the aspirations of a young man running for president of Croatia – yesterday an early morning Facebook text conversation netted me a phone number, and a path to Split.

civil disobediance

Lead by example – taking on “the system”

At the end of my day I wrote on my Facebook wall, and posted pictures:  “Interesting day. Honour your skills when you’ve no clue what to do and all of the sudden a MESSAGE is really loud. I was invited to share lunch with Croatian presidential candidate Ivan Vilibor Sinčić by members of his campaign team including Jakov Perica on Split’s Riva this afternoon.” As someone with a past history of serving as the finance director for three Congressional races in the United States it takes about two minutes for me to weed out ‘real deal’ vs. ‘fraud’ – Sinčić is the REAL DEAL. Thoughtful and articulate in a way that allows me to express Croatia would be VERY LUCKY to have him (especially because of his youth and track record on human rights and economic issues) as their next president. I don’t believe that I am here by chance over this – I am here because my friend Marijan expressed to me over a year ago “my country needs people like you”. Well, LET ME HELP and then let me make Croatia my permanent home.

Friends know that I never say, nor do I write, anything I don’t mean, and I am in sincere in this Tweet:

@TeresaFritschi #Croatia‘s Prez candidate Vilibor #Sinčić is like #ThomasJefferson #Robespierre

I am sure it is nearly impossible to imagine the intellect and incorruptible nature of two of the 18th centuries’ greatest minds existing in a single man today – but John Vilibor (Sonny) is such a human being.

Corruption is nothing new – every society has been victim to a percentage of its population that always demands more than is ethical, fair or just. On the bus to Split I was informed that Al Capone was actually of Croatian ancestry (keeping in mind that the Italians – specifically the Venetians were here when Marco Polo was a child).  For 800 years (or more) with further and bankfurther influence and decimation of society has come in the form of those behind global banking interests (oh DO watch this ½ hour video to understand that this is not simply in the United States but impacting people across the globe).

Ivan at foot

Touching the toe of Ivan Meštrović’s colossal sculpture of Gregory of Nin for luck

So like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Saunders in the United States Croatia’s presidential hopeful Ivan Vilibor Sinčić gets it and he wants nothing to do with this influence in his country. He has built a record, as President Barack Obama did in his youth, of functioning as a champion of human rights, of being a community organizer deploying small efforts designed to thwart illegal evictions of homeowners by building a ‘living wall’ of protection and both knowing and leveraging the laws of Croatia. He is outside ‘the system’ which makes his efforts underdog in the extreme. He is a quiet presence in the throng of humanity, listening, touching an arm, posing for pictures – a very shy, very sincere, smile gracing his face.  Despite his stature he doesn’t take up much space – that is until he speaks and then he owns the room, fully and completely with his passion, and thoughtful rhetoric. Perhaps it’s because I have worked for my whole adult life making other people look good that in witnessing authenticity of this caliber my breath went completely out of my body – I don’t speak Croatian yet I understood exactly what he said.  But people see it.  Croatians feel at a cellular level and respond to Ivan as if crossing a desert and finding an oasis to quench their thirst. They seem ready to rise up and reclaim their lives and make their whole society better in the process; maybe all of our societies in leading by example. By what those of Nguni Bantu term roughly translating to “human kindness” but most literally means that you cannot rejoice if your neighbor has none – Ubuntu.

My friend Ken Herron has chided me for three years about my unwillingness to prostitute my skills to survive. He knows, because I inherited his role as a chief marketing officer, that I am perfectly capable of making crazy money “doing what we do” but I have never been able to do this. If I believe I will give of myself until I drop, but nothing can induce me if I don’t respect you, your product or your mission.  It’s been less than 20 hours as I write this since posting a 2:30 segment of Ivan’s speech yesterday from Split on Twitter and on Facebook, even as a seasoned communications professional I am stunned by the rate of viewership.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” 
― Anaïs Nin

I truly had no intention of ever returning to politics, so traveling 4400 miles to discover that the skills of my lifetime could possibly realise real value for 4.3 million people is at once a stunning revelation, and like slipping back into my most authentic skin. We seek other states, connect with other lives and other souls for resonance, and authentication of who we are at our most elemental. We travel to give of ourselves and to receive. We travel to leave the world and ourselves better than we were before we leapt into the void of the unknown.  I seem to have come home to myself.

Svaki dan počinje s jedinstvenim obećanjem-promijeniti nešto u vezi sebe ili svijeta oko nas. Mislim da puno ljudi o ovome niti ne razmišlja, ali ona je uvijek tu, mogućnost. Šest dana sam se pokušavala probiti  do prvih kontakata kako bih ponudila svoje profesionalne  komunikacijske vještine kao i da svojim iskustvom u političkim kampanjama podržim težnje mladića koji se našao u utrci za predsjednika Hrvatske. Zahvaljujući jučerašnjem ranojutarnjem dopisivanju na Facebooku  došla sam do telefonskog broja i našla se na putu za Split.

Na kraju dana napisala sam na svojem zidu na Facebooku, uz popratne slike: “Zanimljiv dan. Pohvali svoje sposobnosti kada ne znaš što bi i odjednom je PORUKA  vrlo glasna. Pozvana sam na ručak na Splitskoj rivi ovo poslijepodne s predsjedničkim kandidatom Ivanom Viliborom Sinčićem. Pozvali su me članovi njegovo tima uključujući Jakova Pericu .

Kao netko tko je u svojoj prošlosti radio kao financijski direktor u tri kongresne trke u SAD-u, treba mi oko dvije minute da prepoznam tko je pravi a tko lažan- Sinčić je PRAVI.  Promišljeno I artikulirano na način koji mi dozvoljava da se izrazim, Hrvatska će biti vrlo sretna što ga ima (osobito zbog njegove mladosti, ali i dokazanoj borbi za ljudska prava i ekonomske probleme) kao svog sljedećeg predsjednika. Vjerujem da nisam ovdje u ovome slučajno- ovdje sam jer mi je moj prijatelj Marijan prije više od godinu dana rekao: “moja zemlja treba ljude poput tebe”. Pa, dozvoli mi da pomognem, a onda i da Hrvatska postane moj trajni dom.

Prijatelji znaju da ja nikad ne govorim niti pišem ništa što ne mislim i da sam iskrena u ovom Tweetu :

@TeresaFritschi #Croatia‘s Prez candidate Vilibor #Sinčić is like #ThomasJefferson #Robespierre

(Hrvatski predsj. Kandidat Vilibor Sinčić je poput Thomasa Jeffersona i  Robespierrea)

Sigurna sam da je teško zamisliti intelekt i nekoruptivnu prirodu dvojice velikih umova 18. stoljeća  u jednom jedinom čovjeku-ali, Ivan Vilibor Sinčić je baš takvo ljudsko biće.

Korupcija nije ništa novo- svako društvo je bilo žrtva određenom broju populacije koja uvijek traži više nego li je etično, pošteno ili pravedno. U autobusu prema Splitu saznala sam da je Al Capone zapravo bio hrvatskog porijekla (imajući na umu da su Talijani-točnije Venecijanci bili ovdje kada je Marko Polo bio dijete. 800 godina (ili više) sa sve većim i većim utjecajem na društvo i njegovim desetkovanjem, ono je palo pod utjecaje globalnih bankarskih interesa. (Svakako pogledajte ovaj polusatni video kako biste shvatili da ovo jednostavno nije samo u SAD-u već utječe na ljude diljem globusa). Stoga, poput senatorice Elisabeth Warren i senatora Bernia Saundersa u Sjedinjenim Američkim državama, Hrvatski potencijalni predsjednik Ivan Vilibor Sinčić shvaća i ne želi imati ništa s ovim utjecajem u njegovoj Zemlji. Stekao je dosje, kao što je  predsjednik Barack Obama u svojoj mladosti, djelujući  kao prvak u borbi za ljudska prava. Ivan V.Sinčić je  suorganizator zajednice koja je uvođenjem malih napora stvorena kako bi spriječila ilegalne deložacije kućevlasnika, praveći “živi zid” zaštite,  poznavajući i koristeći zakone Hrvatske. On sam je “izvan sistema”  što čini njegove napore u krajnosti uzaludnima.

On je tiho prisutan u gomili ljudi, slušajući, dodirujući ruke i pozirajući za slikanja- vrlo sramežljiv, vrlo iskren, s osmijehom koji krasi njegovo lice.  Unatoč svojem statusu, on ne zauzima puno prostora-barem dok ne progovori, a tada je prostorija samo njegova u potpunosti, s njegovom strašću i  promišljenom retorikom.  Možda jer sam tijekom cijelog svog odraslog života radila čineći druge ljude da izgledaju dobro, svjedočeći autentičnosti ovog kalibra moj dah je potpuno napustio moje tijelo–ne govorim još hrvatski, a ipak sam razumjela točno što je rekao. Ali, ljudi vide. Hrvati osjećaju na baznom nivou i reagiraju kao da su prelaskom pustinje naišli na oazu koja će im utažiti žeđ.  Čine se spremnima uzdignuti se i ponovno preuzeti svoje živote u svoje ruke te učiniti cijelo njihovo društvo boljim u procesu; možda i sva naša društva, prednjačeći kao primjer.  Jedan od Ngunu Bantu izraza je ugrubo preveden kao “ljudska dobrota” ali doslovnije znači da se ne možeš radovati ako tvoj susjed nema ništa- Ubuntu. Moj prijatelj Ken Herron me tri godine korio zbog moje nevoljkosti da prostituiram svoje vještine kako bih preživjela. On zna, jer sam ja naslijedila njegovu ulogu glavnog marketinškog službenika, da sam ja savršeno sposobna stvoriti velik novac “čineći to što radimo” ali, nikad to nisam mogla učiniti. Ako ja vjerujem, ja ću dati sve od sebe dok ne svisnem, ali ništa me neće natjerati ako ne poštujem Vas, Vaš proizvod ili misiju. Prošlo je manje od 20h kako ovo pišem, a otkako sam postavila dio Ivanovog jučerašnjeg govora u Splitu na svoj Twitter i Facebook. Čak i kao iskusna komunikacijska profesionalka, zapanjena sam brojem gledanja

“Mi putujemo, neki od nas zauvjek, kako bismo vidjeli druge države, druge živote, druge duše. “― Anaïs Nin

Zaista nemam namjere se ikada vraćati politici, stoga putujući 440 milja kako bih otkrila da bi moje životne vještine  mogle možda realizirati stvarnu vrijednost od 4.3 milijuna ljudi odjednom je zapanjujuće otkriće, i  poput klizenja natrag u moju najautentičniju kožu. Tražimo druge države, povezujemo se s drugim životima i drugim dušama zbog reznonancije i autentifikacije  onoga tko smo u našoj srži. Putujemo kako bismo davali sebe i primali. Putujemo kako bismo ostavili svijet i same sebe boljima nego što smo bili prije nego li smo uskočili u nepoznato. Čini mi se da sam došla k samoj sebi.

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! 

AllThatINeedbizcardartfront

Heart of home – (any size) kitchen

20141127_151933Let’s be honest about how spoiled we are as Americans; our kitchens, whether we cook or not, are enormous by the standards known and embraced by the rest of the world.  We have stuff for nearly every task – even if we only do this task once a year for Thanksgiving.  My new friend Ellen, who came for homemade roasted chicken and dumpling soup a couple of days ago, gave up on ‘being American’ more than a decade ago, she moved to Croatia a year ago, recently moved to Split to be with her fiancé. Over lunch Ellen was trying to explain this dome-shaped electric oven thing she has to cook in which came with the flat of the man she is engaged to (which belonged to his parents before he occupied it and near as I can figure this “thing” must date to Tito’s rule over the former Yugoslavia). (Incredibly enough she managed to make an absolutely brilliant Thanksgiving meal from ‘this’ shown at left.)

On the flight from Washington to Munich The Lunchbox was amongst the offerings to be watched – and I was struck by the size of the ‘kitchen’ from which the heroine worked to create lunchboxIndian culinary magic.

I am currently living in a holiday flat. It is outfitted with flatware, dishes and glassware, a spatula – better used for the grill, a slotted spoon, two wooden spoons, one ice cube tray, two cutting boards, a grater, a ladle and a handful of knives – thankfully sharp – and some perfectly functional cookware. There is no Cuisinart, nor charming Hohner harmonica outfitted Chantal teakettle, no measuring cups and spoons, no antique pottery bowls nor German knives, and certainly not a four burner gas range with an oven large enough to roast a 25 pound turkey, with room left over for the chestnuts and Brussel sprouts, stuffing and sweet potatoes. But as someone who cooks – I am relearning how to without the convenience. While I thought to pack my lemon squeezer, and despite hauling more than 150 pounds of luggage with me, I neglected some rather practical considerations and my various girlfriends scattered across the United States responded to a dismay posted to my Facebook wall at neglecting to pack Demerara sugar, celery seeds, Miracle Whip, Coleman’s Dry Mustard with an offer to send these things. There are gorgeous cabbages everywhere and fresh fish – coleslaw is in my future! To Christina (Kiki) Kelley and Jan Wheeler I can’t thank you sufficiently – copies of the book I am supposed to be here writing will be yours once it’s published.

My landlords have given me license to their citrus trees – mandarins, limes, and LEMONS! So the prudence of packing my lemon squeeze has turned into glorious sunshine to drink.

DSCN9841 DSCN9843 DSCN9844 DSCN9849This morning I tackled a leek tart, as much like a quiche as I could make it without the “right pan”. What I had to work with were truly gorgeous eggs, (world famous) Pag cheese, a large leek, ground golden flax seed and Tibetan sea salt that I brought with me, some whole milk, butter and flour purchased in Trogir.  I found a medium size plastic bowl and an enameled pan with a handle in the cupboard, and my landlady let me borrow her rolling pin (mind you no waxed or parchment paper).  I had a leftover 500 gram yogurt container, this chart, and my eyes to guide the process. I managed to outdo myself. My friend Ken Herron maintains that I create food porn – this blog is the only way I can share with him, (sending you love Ken!).

You don’t have to be the Barefoot Contessa to make beautiful food. You need to carve out a space of time to provide nourishment that is authentic and close to the earth and the sea, you need desire and you need passion. Whether a neighbor is next door or thousands of miles away our world contracts or expands according to your beliefs and attitude. You go to places outside of your normal experience to live deliberately – like Thoreau.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau

Namaste.

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

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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 consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com 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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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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Forgive them; for they know not what they do

I am sitting at my computer spilling tears. Normally that is a good thing, often it’s even a great thing, because I feel deeply and am unembarrassed to express the depth of my emotions as I connect to the ephemeral, the sublime, the ethereal and the exquisite and take incredible joy in my observations – these tears, are not those tears.

Last week a gun rights person, with whom I have no acquaintance, in an attempt to insult me called me Ms. Kumbaya. As a child of the ’60s (born in 1961) the Summer of Love and all the resulting 1969activism that sprung forth from it (from which a great many of have benefited) could be traced to Khumbaya My Lord (try this version from the Soweto Gospel Choir), as well as Peter, Paul and Mary singing Blowing in the Wind, Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence – and countless others – quite frankly she couldn’t have directed a higher compliment toward me.  Over the course of the last couple of weeks, across the globe, some truly heinous things have been committed and most of them done in the name of God – and, so this woman’s comments were surreal against the scope of my tears this week.  With every betrayal of common sense, logic, and of humanity witnessed I have experienced the five stages of grief as defined by the Kübler-Ross model. (And yes, it would have been so much easier had there been a solid life force of a partner to physically lean on but my garden, once again, came through with a respite from these pains and offered all its green solace to heal my breaking heart.)

In addition to all those tears, as a result of epic disbelief and the resulting anger, I have expressed un-imagined words on Twitter and Facebook this week That’s really saying something, as close friends will confirm that my authenticity can be painful if you harbor the least bit of personal doubt or any insecurity because – and I will own this fully – if I have one fatal flaw it is seeing the world and people I love “in fullness” of their greatest potential rather than quietly living in the status quo. So while it’s not just ‘one thing’ but many that are bothering me, let me start with this meme, and the words that accompanied it on Facebook:

religion

“While every American has a right to free exercise, I believe two initiatives of the U.S. government…have perpetuated a very asymmetrical view of religious freedom. This view too often privileges the right of missionaries to proselytize at the expense of everyone else’s right to practice their religion without intrusion, or in the case of many Ugandans, simply live and love whomever they choose, regardless of gender. This too is America’s right hand.”

-Co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation

The problem is that most people view the world through the lens that is most comfortable to them, taking a very literal view, measuring it against “their truth” and pronouncing failure upon anyone else who disagrees and deny others the right to express themselves.  How many times in human history have we heard “Kill the Infidels” “Kill the Saracens” “Kill the Non-Believers” or “Beware of false Prophets…”? Do we even recognise the irony of all this against the actual scriptures from Bible and Qu’ran alike? Our societies are becoming ever more segmented along individual truths and polarizing rhetoric drives us further apart at a time in human history when we really need to come together to solve our greatest problems.  We are pushing each other into corners of hate, suspicion and fear because we are terribly afraid; we should be hugging not judging.  There is no question in my mind that we are witnessing bullying on a massive scale! As emotionally appealing as “an eye for an eye” might be, the accompanying truth as so eloquently phrased by Mahatma Gandhi “…will only make the whole world blind.” keeps me from embracing the model put forth by The Rude Pundit.  The hypocrisy of found at the base of the United States Supreme ABORTIONCourt ruling in favour of Hobby Lobby was a huge contributor to my round of tears (of anger and frustration) this week, especially as it came on denying women the same barrier of safety which the Supreme Court judges and the employees of their court enjoy.  When a woman cannot freely manage her own health privately and without running a gauntlet of abuse from those whose religious convictions would allow them to humiliate another in Christ’s name there is something very wrong with the version of Christ’s teaching you adhere to (please do not contort his messages of compassion for this). mary magdalene

We prostitute ourselves and the truth for the illusion of “security” and we are dead as a result.  If you want to hold up a banner in God’s name then it should read:

Micah 7:18-19
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

Each of us arrive at the culmination of our lives (if we don’t question this each day) answering to our conscious and to God (should we so believe). I prefer to believe that Christ’s last words had real meaning for all of those doing horrible things in His name “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”  

For myself, I walk outside of religion but keep a deep binding faith that the tears I shed for humanity are not in vain.

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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