Off to a Good Start

And so we begin. Tune the instruments. Tighten the screws. Hitch up the horses. Wash the car and change the oil. We are going on a journey.

Every once in a while I want to go. Somewhere. Anywhere. I would like to travel, maybe even to exotic places. I read a blog from someone who had went to the Amazon. This couple travels to places like the Amazon, and I’m not talking about the store, so I enjoy reading what about their experiences. It’s exciting. Sometimes though I wonder if I don’t enjoy the thought of having been a world traveler more than I really want to travel.

The thought of commuting gives me a headache. All of the packing and catching planes and ticket purchasing and money exchanges.  Just the thought makes my head want to explode. I remember various trips I’ve taken just inside the states.

I have started a travel fund. I thought I’d save up the money and then I’d be ready. No more excuses. Well at least not that one. I’m sure I could come up with another if I needed to. My main problem with travelling is that I don’t want to go alone. Very boring. Interacting with another person is some of what makes it special. I know, there are those who will argue with me about it, but I’m such a loner in the rest of my life that I can talk myself out of going and doing the activities during the trip. So imagine I’m in my hotel room in Paris and I can’t leave the room because I’m tired. Who will shove me out the door to go have coffee at the bistro down the street? I need someone who is excited about getting out and seeing the sights. I don’t want to go constantly but some is necessary or otherwise why go at all?

I found this and it looks interesting. I’d enjoy listening to music and meeting the band. I can drink and be a groupie for a couple of days.

An Artist’s Soul

Artists live by their own rules. Many say they walk to the beat of their own drum. I agree. I also believe they have their own view of life that’s not shared by many.

Most look at artists and wanderers and think they honor poverty, but I don’t think that’s the case. I honestly think they don’t wish to bow to anyone else or live restricted by any dogma. I don’t think they set out to be poor. Or alone. It’s not always a choice though. If brought to the choice of following someone’s rules, having the steady paycheck and climbing the required ladder to success I often turn away. Usually the path that I revert to isn’t really a path. Stepping off the beaten path means walking alone sometimes. Making your own path and using your own guidance. I’m not poor by any means, but I’m not where I could have been had I chosen to suck it up and not speak out. I might have been able to do that but I truly doubt it. It oozes out of my pores. People can smell the distinct smell of anarchy on me some days.  I’m okay with that.

The joy of life is the walk. Step by step. Skip by skip. Leap by leap. There is no fun following someone down a path you don’t really want to travel. I choose to step off that path. Call me a coward. Call me a quitter. Or call me a wanderer, it really doesn’t matter to me. After about two or three steps away from the path that you’re travelling, I won’t be able to hear you. I’m on to the next sunrise just over that ridge.

I found this post recently and was a bit moved by the story. I hope you can stop by and read it. Wandering Corpse of Humanity’s Soul

The Benefit of Being a Loser

If you’re a loser, the only way is up. You’re destined for greatness. If you’re not used to winning easily, if good grades didn’t come easily to you, there’s no need to worry. Count your blessings. Why? Because if things come easily, you never build the stamina to stick with anything. I have a terrible memory. I’ve stated this before. When school required memorizing, I would go home and write things out, over and over. I learn by doing, by touching, by experimenting. If I put something together with my hands once, I can do it again fairly easily. If you give me set of instructions to memorize, I’m in HUGE trouble.

In 7th grade, the teacher told us to memorize and recite the Gettysburg address. It was our test and my impending doom. I worked on it and read it over and over. I’m sure my mom had it memorized just from listening to me. The week of the test, I gave up. I had worked on memorizing this speech for 2 weeks and was only halfway through. After asking the teacher how much it would affect my grade, I made a rational decision. I had a good grade in that class. I was studious and did my homework on time so that in all the other aspects I did what was important. This one assignment wasn’t going to flunk me. I eased off the pressure and recited the speech as well as I could, knowing I would get an awful grade. I hate beating dead horses.

People around me are always surprised that I don’t have a good memory. They think I do. They don’t see behind the scenes. I adapt. I use reminders. I trick myself into remembering using plays on words or rhymes. The benefit of knowing early in life what your weaknesses are, means you can decide what really matters to you. If it’s important, you won’t rely totally on your weakest link. Be rational about it. Use what you are good at and keep on going.

What If

What if we changed our culture? What if we no longer applauded great wealth at any cost? What if we applauded generosity, compassion, and forgiveness? Yes, it’s easy for me to say these things since I’m not wealthy, but I’m not alone in saying them.

Malcolm is targeting the systems we’ve built, the truths we hold so dear and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we can produce some more heroes. – Seth Godin in review of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book.

From ABC news –

At the age of 14, Hugh Evans spent a night with cockroaches crawling all over him. That experience turned out to be life-changing for Evans, now 30. Far removed from his comfortable home in Australia, he traveled to the Philippines with an aid organization that set him up with a host family. Their home was in Smokey Mountain, a teeming slum in Manila. A boy in the family, Sonny Boy, was the same age as Evans. The disparity between their lives struck him hard.

In some circles we have improved. But there are enough sub-pockets in our culture that keep the generosity movement bogged down. We are a generous nation and so are people all over the world. You can see groups which care about cleaning up oil spills, those concerned about animal endangerment, and many are helping provide clean water for those in need. But we need to start at the bottom, at the base of society. Our desires. Our ambitions. Our vision of ourselves. There is a level of crud and corrosion that we must clean or we will all drown. We envy and want great wealth because we are afraid. I am afraid. If I don’t get that job, that bonus, that raise, that particular car, I’m afraid I will starve. I will perish. I will not exist anymore. I feel jealous, unloved and abandoned. Over an iPhone that I didn’t get. It’s ridiculous. My whole mindset needs rearranged. I live in a rich country. So rich that I have never missed a meal because of lack. Others around me live the same and yet we feel poor because we don’t have cable television. Or internet. Or whatever latest gadget that someone else has.

There’s an experiment going on all across the world now, or I should say it’s a conversation. It’s called by a variety of names, but in essence it’s living at the poverty level for days or months, voluntarily.

The next post in the continuing frugal gastronomy series features a pair of schoolteacher-writers who gave themselves the toughest of all restrictions: All their food had to cost no more than $1 per day per person. Amazingly, if they invited guests over to eat, the guests’ food had to be covered by the $1 allotment. You’d have to really like the guest, I suppose.

Once again, I’ll repeat: Eating on a budget is not a contest; it’s a conversation.

Read more:

And the most famous instance is probably Ben Affleck and his challenge from April 29 through May 3, 2013.  Could you eat for $1.50 a day?

The challenge is simple: Agree to spend no more than $1.50 on your daily grub from April 29 to May 3. That figure represents “the accepted global figure used to define extreme poverty,” according to The Global Poverty Project, which created the challenge. – Live Below The Line

Some advice from Joe Vigil:

  • Practice abundance by giving back
  • Improve personal relationships
  • Show integrity to your value system
  • Eat like a poor person

Everyday Things

I have people ask me sometimes, why do you bother wearing makeup everyday? Or why do you dress up always? Well, when should I wear makeup or fix my hair? Special occasions only? This seems silly to me. What you want to become, you have to be.

Your life is the total of your daily activities. The effort you put into your life daily, hourly, minute by minute is the life you live. If you only give your days 50% effort, you’ll get 50% back. Live smarter. Live stronger. Put in what you want to get out of it.

I know if I am paying for 10 gallons of gasoline for my car, I wouldn’t keep going to the one that just didn’t get around to fixing their pumps. Especially if I got shorted a gallon each time. I really like to go to the ones that give me extra.

I demand a lot out of everyday life and I am prepared to put a lot into it. I have ambition and I have enough orneriness to back it up.

Counting Coup

They say that times are changing. The old order is passing and a new accepted point of view is entering. For those who might not understand, just remember it was only 100 or so years ago when the only way of recording your history or communicating with a friend meant paper and pen. Fifty or so years ago required people who weren’t white to eat at a different restaurant than the whites. Those whose skin was not pale, those such as natives, were thought to have no souls.

When paradigms shift, it seems so obvious that the new way is the correct way. How did we ever think that it was okay to own another human? How did we not know that little creatures called bacteria cause illnesses? Many once thought plagues were caused by sinful behavior. Well in some instances it was. The sinful behavior of those that ordered the delivery of tainted clothing did start an epidemic of smallpox. Those that became sick and died were not the sinful ones though. It was the invading people who were sinful.

What will happen if we no longer have money as our standard? If we were all free people with equal standing in life, if we were all able to live as we wished without worry of starvation or being homeless. I’m not trying to be Marxist or really referring to any particular form of communal living. My thinking is idealist in that area and I realize this, but my point is not about how we can do this, but what would we be like as people. We like to measure, to count, to stack and amass our store of wealth. It’s how we rank. If not by money then how will we know we are the best or a total failure?

What achievement will show off your success? If our choice of houses or cars or clothing didn’t signify our status or reassure us of our success, could we be content? Will the next generations look at us as greedy and vain? Possibly.

Bob Lefsetz – Observations


Not only are the odds of winning the lottery long, in order to have a million dollars to spend each year, you’ve got to win seventy five.

This article in the “New York Times” breaks it down:

Win a Lottery Jackpot? Not Much Chance of That

What you want is freedom. And if you can’t gain it by winning the lottery, maybe money isn’t the answer.

In the NYTIMES Win a Lottery Jackpot August 09, 2013, referring to the Powerball jackpot of 40 million,

The odds of winning, however, remain infinitesimal: Powerball players, for instance, have a 1 in 175 million chance of winning. You have roughly the same chance of getting hit by lightning on your birthday…That is why the lottery is called a tax on people who don’t understand math.

I think it’s possible for some to live without status in this life. I see a few of these people around. It’s something I’ve envied in others, the ability to focus only on their own inner life and the good they are doing in the world around them. That’s very Buddhist sounding or even Jesus-like. It’s how I want to live my life.

Namaste 🙂

Missing Identity

I was listening to a self-help guru in the 1990’s and the strangest thing (to me) happened. The man asked, “If you could do ANYTHING and you knew you could not fail at it, what would you do?”  The first thing that popped into my thoughts was to write. I wanted to write. I hadn’t thought of writing since I was in the 8th grade and my teacher circled at least half of my essay and noted it heavily in red ink. Inside, a dream that I had buried and forgotten for dead, clawed its way back to the top.

Listen to your inner voice. Is she happy? Does she want to sing? Does he like the shoes he has on? The color of his tie? How about his activities? Are they something he does to belong or does he enjoy them? If there is one thing she could change, what would it be? Now after pondering this a little while, don’t do anything yet. Let the thought sit inside of you for a time. Like a seed planted in the soil, let it germinate. This is scary. Sometimes the dissatisfaction and restlessness can build up if I ignore some aspect of my life.

Nothing has to be done or changed or removed or even happen immediately. I’m not saying that your life will even change dramatically, but I am saying make time for you. It’s time to see the beauty and strength that is in you. There is gold and jewels underneath all of your restrictions. There is talent that has been dormant for a long time because a parent or sibling told you not to show off.  I think you should let some of it show. Just a little peek for now. The process will also involve learning to trust your own judgments. You will learn how much is too much or not enough, of food, of activity, of friendships. Do you know what you value? Whether it’s people in need or friendships you value; or if it’s caution or even reckless abandon, only you can decide what is right for you.

Freedom or Romance? Could you choose?

Which is it? Think quick. What would your choice be? If you could only have one, and be able to live that one to its fullest, which would you choose? The choice is a fantasy. No one has absolute romance or absolute freedom and it may be one of those things that no one needs, but if it came down to one or the other do you know your preference? Maybe you didn’t realize there was a choice.

The choices:

Cinderella with her fairyland romance. The prince claiming her for his own and in front of all her naysayers announcing her as his bride. The ring on your finger, the kiss on the cheek, not to mention the passion. Certainly the wild roller-coaster ride of romance hits some, but it rarely lasts. They tell me it isn’t supposed to last. It’s supposed to blossom, develop and grow into a fully developed love. Now tell me again why we idolize the fairy tales? Is it their mature love? No, it’s the passion. It’s the feeling of belonging. Instant HOME.

Freedom to go anywhere you want to wear the colors of your choice, to think and act freely, even speak from your own mind. You walk in loyalty to those you wish to be loyal to, not having to compromise your true loyalties for the sake of country, political party, religious affiliations or family ties. To move with the wind and flow as the river. No checking in, no expectations, no disappointing others. But having no preset boundaries, no home base, some feel lost.

The truth is these are not either or choices. Just take a good look at the choices you have now in front of you. Make an aware choice. What are you giving up if you choose to take this job or that? What does your family expect of you? Your religion? Your friends? If you are free to move anywhere, to be anyone, what is your gain? What do you walk away from?

A good mix is the best. There’s a balancing of freedom and home ties and it changes at different points in your life. When you feel the pinch of your too tight shoes you know it’s time to squeeze your feet out of them and let them have some air. In the same way, when your personality feels cramped or your life feels dry, boring, or wasted, check your home ties or your freedom level. Adjust as necessary.

But the question still stands, if you could only choose one, which would it be?

Aside: Here’s some beautiful artwork which seems to me a nice mix of romance and freedom.

Stories We Tell

I’ve talked about stories before. It’s probably one of my top 5 issues. Mostly because it goes by daily and we don’t notice its influence. We know about forgiveness. Change this one thing in your mind and so many other things fall into their perfect places. Probably 80% of us are on some type of self-improvement kick, but our story goes unnoticed.

Maybe you have no idea what I am talking about. Okay, ground rules.

  • This is non judgmental. No story is wrong. And no story is right. Mine is just mine. Not superior or inferior.
  • We don’t always know who gave us our story, but we can notice that it’s there.

  • It’s changeable if we decide to change it.
  • Only we can change our story.

  • We all have a story playing in the back of our minds. Some script we rule our lives by.

Who is the bad guy to my good guy? What is my role in life? Notice the next time you’re in a room with a group of people. We all have our drink in hand or we’re standing around our cubicles. If someone is talking, someone is telling their story. What does their tale say about them as a person or community? What does it say about their belief in right and wrong? I’m really hesitant here to say much because I don’t want people to clam up around me. Maybe if I generalize, people won’t realize how much I listen to them. But specific instances would highlight my meaning. Are you the good parent? Your ex the bad one? Are you clever? Your classmates stupid? We like to talk about how we hate stupid people, but most of us cringe inside wondering if we’re the stupid person. Haven’t most of us went the wrong way on a one way road? Yikes.

Okay, so I will dive in….

If I want to be the good guy, I have to cast someone in my life as bad. Usually we have regular cast members in our life that fill the roles we play. I’m the good one. The smart one. So you have to play my bad, stupid friend. Just kidding, not really you. The guy driving in front of you in the morning is stupid. Let’s use him. We can tell because he’s on his phone when he’s driving. Right? He forgot to use his turn signal also. Can’t he see how stupid he is? This also makes him a bad guy. He’s breaking your rules.  What about when your ex forgets to tell you of an important birthday party for your 8-year-old daughter, planned for the weekend-your weekend? Of course you get angry. Rightfully so! You’re angry because once again he has proven how irresponsible he is. On the side note, he also proved how responsible and righteous you are. So when you tell the story of your ex and his lack of consideration and his lack of planning, you add any details to flower it up a little. The time he forgot to pack her toothbrush or her lunch for school. How her bedroom at his house still isn’t decorated. What a horrible father he is. By telling these things you aren’t really concerned about the toothbrush or the bedroom paint color. You’re telling your story. Your role in life. You are RESPONSIBLE! And don’t forget smart. We might as well walk up to people on the street wearing a t-shirt saying we are responsible and smart. I’m with Stupid (arrow pointing to the side). We could start our conversations with, I am so responsible. Let me tell you what happened today to prove it.

Am I overdoing it? We all play roles in life. I have mine as well. Why do I have a blog? Why write a book or two? What’s my story? Shhhhhh..don’t tell if you know. Super undercover here.

My story

I want to tell you my story. At least one of them. I have a few. Some of them conflicting with each other. I grew up in a great home. We weren’t rich, but my family was hardworking. I was always proud that my last name was Bailey. It meant a lot to me. Strong, capable, enduring. I was a tiny girl in a small town. I was always trying to catch up with my brothers. If I could keep up, I felt big. My family had two businesses in a town the size of a peanut, so I didn’t feel obscure. I started kindergarten and graduated high school in the same town. Small town, small school. It was a perfect environment for me. I had lots of adults around me. And I have one very strong memory of a family in particular.

Not only did I start and complete school in the same town, but my family went to the same church all of my life. From 8 years old and up. I was baptized in that church and got married there. They gave me my baby showers and poured a lot of love into me. The McAfees were a family that had helped start the church. They took me under their wings for some reason. Their oldest daughter gave me her paper doll collection when I was around 10. When I was 15 I volunteered to help in a summer children’s program. I went into the classroom expecting to be a helper and wound up being the teacher. Mrs. McAfee was my helper. She told me straight out that I would teach this class and she was only the helper. Stammering and stuttering…ummm. Why? Because that’s who she was. She saw something in me and wanted to encourage it to grow. It always makes me tear up. I feel so blessed to have grown up with people like that surrounding me.  They loved me. And not only me, they did that with many children. It was their story.

Carolyn Myss has a book called Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential.  She talks about archetypes. If you have a chance to read it, I urge you to do so. She has a new one which I haven’t read yet, called Archetypes: Who Are You?. Archetypes are stories. Roles that people play. One that seems the most obvious to me is Oprah. She plays a queen. Whatever your feelings towards this woman, you have to admit she’s a queen. She’s not evil, she’s not good, but she is in charge when she walks into a room.

Just a quick note on role-playing. It’s one way to update your story. Role playing has a very powerful effect. People can often put psychological spells on you by putting you into a role, but you don’t have to play their game if you recognize what they are doing. Don’t play along. Walk away.

There’s a study from Stanford University of inmates vs wardens role-playing. In 1971, for 6 of the originally planned 14 days they conducted an experiment with mostly white, middle class volunteers to test the outcomes of the roles we play. If you’ve never heard of it, you can read about it here wikipedia or Stanford Prison Experiment. I don’t know if these people had any lasting after effects, but I can’t imagine it not having a lasting impression. Professor Zimbardo later apologized in his book, The Lucifer Effect

“of not providing adequate oversight and surveillance when it was required… the findings came at the expense of human suffering.”

Now you have a good idea how the game is played, let me remind once again you of the ground rules about the stories we tell…

  • This is non judgmental. No story is wrong. And no story is right. Mine is just mine. Not superior or inferior.
  • We don’t always know who gave us our story, but we can notice that it’s there.
  • It’s changeable if we decide to change it.
  • Only we can change our story.
  • We all have a story playing in the back of our minds. Some script we rule our lives by.


The company I work for is wanting to move its office to a more spacious building. One that could house all of our office staff, including the warehouse. In the process of negotiating with the city council and the surrounding businesses, the owner of our company has met with some opposition. Not fire-breathing dragons at least, but bear-like opposing forces. Developer challenges downtown parking moratorium

The site is a renovation paradise but has some tight restrictions. 3rd and Kenosha is known as Hodges bend. Getting a permit to build a parking lot is like putting a girdle on a fat lady. And we must have parking.

In the dynamics of asserting our wishes, as a company or as an individual, the surrounding area will feel some trauma. It must. It either gives way and caves in to your force or becomes dented and scuffed. If you are the heavy weight and bully your way through, they’ll cave in and let you have it. But this is a disturbing picture in my mind since you’ve broken the harmony of the place and it’s no longer the environment you wanted before. Much like the child who wants the kitten, if the child isn’t gentle the kitten loses his anime. Yeah the bully gets what he wants, but the true essence is no longer there. The flower is dead and might as well be plastic.

Gentle persistence. We weave ourselves into the life of our dreams, gradually becoming a familiar face. We coax with subtlety, refining along the way. We expand, contract and conform all the while asserting our wishes. Exhausting? Sometimes. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. To win friends and influence people you can’t bully and demand. You use kindness and not in that overly kind, passive-aggressive way that annoys the heck out of all of us. The type that you feel you have to return the favor.

The surrounding area for our new office is owned by a local guy.With several retail shops and a bar under his ownership, he’s gradually building his empire. It’s an impressive story by itself.  But there are always new kids coming into town. The game we play changes and the rules adapt. This is life and we live it every day. Sometimes it alters while we are not paying attention, so it seems like an outside force has wiped the old away and displayed the new. Truly it was only one person or a group of persons that developed a different view. Not evil, not good, just different.

Peace isn’t always about submission. It’s often about getting what you want as well as allowing the other their needs as well. Equilibrium, dynamic, hormesis.