Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Mantra: The Things We Know, The Things We Don't

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Pay attention
Mikio Murakami

Have you ever considered the weight of knowledge? Of what knowing or not knowing something really means in the big picture?

Once upon a time, Japan released upon us the deadliest hot air balloons known to man. In an attempt to terrify and kill us, they created Fu-Go weapons that would float, thousands of miles in the air, from their country to ours. Silent weapons of death sent by the gods in the sky.

You probably don't know this story because it was a secret for many, many years. At the time, and for decades after, the government kept it a secret on purpose. This was done intentionally and strategically. Almost no one knew what had happened, that is, except for a small group of very unfortunate people. There was no hysteria in the United States, no fear, and Japan thought they had failed. That same lack of knowledge, however, is what killed a pregnant woman and several innocent children. Had they known these weapons were out there they never would have gone to investigate the strange thing in the woods that they spotted.

The knowledge we possess, or the lack thereof, comes with a price. It is powerful. It is what tips the scale one way or another. Very often, is the deciding vote in life or death, good or bad, dangerous or safe situations.

Consider a time before fossil fuels. An era before we had electricity and power as we know it today. For most of us, it's unimaginable. Now, consider what it was like for the people that realized they could literally power the world with fossil fuels. I am certain their intentions were primarily good. I am certain it never even occurred to them what that would mean to the world decades into the future, the price we're all paying right now- the rush to find a renewable means of energy. What we didn't know then, we know more about now.

The key to this Puzzle of Knowing lies in what comes after our frame of knowledge changes.

We decide who we are by the actions we take. Do we acknowledge the errors we made along the way and move forward toward better things? Or do we pretend we don't know any better, still, when the evidence is so clear?

This is where you need to pay attention; to how you see things, to how other people react, to what comes next. This is why you need to pay attention; right now, immediately, always.

We can't know everything, it's impossible. That isn't an excuse for us to throw our hands up in the air like we just don't care.

Instead, we must remain open minded and we must look at every angle possible. We must be willing to change our minds when new facts and data surface. We can't get stuck in the old, in the past, in what worked once upon a time. We must hold ourselves accountable to find the facts, not rely on social media as our history lesson in life. When we are shown that we are wrong, that there is a better way, regardless of the effort, we must work towards that new and better way. And when we see something that we know is wrong, we must stand together until it is made right.

I mention that last piece because it feels vitally important in this very moment.

I can't tell you how many times I've recently seen or heard "Give our new president a chance. Whether you like him or not, he's our president and we need to support him."

Normally, I would agree. Normally, it's not that big of a deal. Really, it's not.

However, nothing about our new president is normal.

To all those people who are telling everyone to give him a chance, to see what happens over the next four years:

 - Think of Rosa Parks. Would you have told her to calm down, that everything would be just fine, to give it a few years and see what happens?

 - Would you have stood behind Hitler when he promised to return his country to its former greatness?

I hope your answer for both of those is no.

Knowledge is power.

What we know about our new president is: He's a blatant liar, he doesn't conduct himself as a leader, he's using Nazi terminology in a modern way (Don't believe me? Read this and this), and that he has ill will towards a variety of people.

We know the White House website changed its page in less than 24 hours of him becoming president, with a QVC ad for his wife and the removal of certain info related to LGBT and climate change. We know people around the world, in numerous countries, have expressed concerns about his presidency and, just over the weekend, showed a tremendous amount of support for women's rights, among other things. That single point alone should speak volumes.

What we don't know is what he's capable of or what the future holds.

Here's to knowledge. Let's see where it gets us next.


For everyone around the world who has been standing by our side, supporting the people of America, using your voices and fighting with us- thank you. Those two words don't adequately sum up how appreciative we are. Thank you for helping us fight, not just for a better America, but for a better collective world.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Judgement Day

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Judgement Day

J is for the judging judgers who, themselves, will one day be
Judged by others who beyond this realm decide eternity.

U is for the universal ignorance we thrive upon, 
Laughing, smiling, masking, hiding all we know that's here and wrong.

D is for the damaged doing, damage done, and yet to be- 
The roots of thoughts that shape our moments where we're never truly free.

G is for the good, the kind, the meek who often find the way
When all the bad, the dark, the evil seek to ruin every day.

E is for enough, it's over; give it up and let it be.
No elixir, drink, or fixer lets you pass through life so free.

M is for the measures taken, taken for our souls own good. 
Not one apple, not one snake could ruin such a thought out world.

E is for eternal freedom from the choices we have made, 
Had we only given, given of ourselves in such a way.

N is for the night that comes, that lets us dream of brighter days
When every sin and every thought have cursed us from our infant gaze.

T is for the time that's passing, ticking by with every breath,
With every moment, every passing, our lives line up as they're meant.

D is for the damned denying all that comes and soon will be, 
Thinking they can outrun Father Time for all eternity. 

A is for the angels calling, beckoning us one and all
To listen closely, tip-toe carefully, through the valley of the fall.

Y is for the year of measure, when our sins shall all be weighed, 
When each and every one alike will see the final path they take.


Fun Fact: Judgment vs. Judgement: They're both right, but there are a lot of people who freak out over the difference. Calm down, people. It's fine. Move on with your lives.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Mantra: And I Don't Want the World to See Me (pt. 1)

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: "I will love the light for it shows me the way, but I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars." - Og Mandino
I feel like I have writer's block. I don't, not really, but it feels that way. I have started and stopped this post countless times. I've erased, started over, tried to write something completely different.

It's not working.

I've written about this before, but mostly I try to avoid the subject. When I do broach the topic, it's in times, like this, when I feel like I've lost, that I'm losing, that I will never win a battle that doesn't even belong to me. And, so, I write. I write because I know others also feel this way, possibly for different reasons. I write because the process of writing somehow always heals me a little bit. I write because no one should feel alone, regardless of which role you play.

I suppose we should get started.

Part 1

My mom has severe OCD. It's undiagnosed, but that doesn't matter. We don't need a doctor confirming what we both know. She has it, it's intense, and it's unavoidable.

Last week, my mom had one of her more severe episodes. Part of it involved her calling my phone over and over and over again. Call, hang up. Call, hang up. This was new. This hadn't happened before. When she finally stopped, and I was able to call her, she burst into tears. We talked about all the thoughts in her head, some of which I can't even go into now because they're just too complex.

Anytime something like this takes place, one of two things happens: Either I use humor to lighten the mood and try and get her in a better state of mind or I completely lose my cool and become unavoidably frustrated. I don't prefer the latter, but you have to understand- I have been dealing with this, by her side, my entire life and, the key to my frustration in all of this: she refuses to get help. Even though I wish I could always remain calm and collected, there are times when I simply am unable to muster that kind of energy. There are times when I can't control my own emotions in this never ending war with her mind.

In this particular scenario, I was able to talk her off the ledge, a little at least. I told her to go outside and look at the clouds. To stare at the sky and ponder it's vastness until no other thoughts consumed her.

And then, after we'd hung up, I proceeded to cry.

I know some of my tears are selfish. Some of them are brought on by the past; memories of all the years growing up with her lost in her random and strange and sometimes unbearable moments. Some of them are brought on by what I think will be the future of her, of us, of my children growing up not getting to have the same grandparent experience I did. Some are brought on by my complete and utter lack of having any way to help her.

This last one is what broke me most recently because I know; I know there are things she could do to get help and I know she never will.

If you look up the categories of OCD, my mom has all of them. Every single one. This means her life is difficult, painful, and overwhelming. It means she lives in a way most people can't even contemplate. It means being her daughter, her only child, her only immediate link to this world, is also quite difficult in different ways. It means I desperately want things for her - better, happier, healthier things - that she won't allow or accept in her life because of her refusal to seek out assistance. It means I have to learn, over and over and over again, that this is her life. She has to decide how to live or not live it.

And that's the part that consumed me last week, as I Googled every possible option and treatment, and ran across an article another daughter, in a similar set of shoes, had written. Her same concerns, her same worries, and the truth we all know:

There is only so much you can do for someone else. Ultimately, their life is in their hands.

You can have endless conversations, point out all the reasons, all the ways, all the options. It's still up to them. You can offer your assistance, your time, your help. It's still up to them. You can offer logic and reason and fact checked data, but they have to make the choice. That's the only thing you can't do for them.

And, so, I must continue learning to offer assistance to her in other ways that will help on the surface but never in whole. I must continue learning - remembering - that this is her life, not mine.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: I Will Not Settle, Will Not Fall

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

I Will Not Settle, Will Not Fall

I will not settle, 
Will not fall.
I'll build the walls, 
Then break them all.
I'll fight the fight
And keep on living-
I will not settle,
I will not give in.

I will not forfeit,

Will not break.
I won't deny
My destined fate.
 I will not let
The demons rage,
I will not rush
Where I must wait.

I will not settle-

Settle never.
Not for you
Or your endeavours.
I'm worth the battle,
Worth the distance,
Worth the challenge-
Curse resistance.

I know my value,

Know my reasons,
Know that I can
Fight these demons.
Know that I am
Worth it all-
I will not settle.
I will not fall.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Reflection of Shadows: Lessons on Life

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Lessons on Life

We grow,
We learn,
The seasons turn.
We change,
With grace,
We find our place.
We laugh,
We cry,
The time- it flies.
We love,
We give,
We learn to live.


This is the last post for the year, folks. Enjoy your holidays with your loved ones!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Mantra: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Don't stop

I'm in the middle of my annual Lord of the Rings marathon movie watching, I can't figure out why I have four gazillion different fonts showing up on my doggone blog randomly, and I have a grocery list two pages long, front and back.

I'm busy. You're busy. We're all busy in the best possible ways right now.

We're preparing homemade meals. We're bringing people into our homes who may not have anywhere to go for the holiday season. We're loving and laughing and spending quality time with each other. These are the things that truly make this the most wonderful time of the year.

They don't have to end when the holidays are over.

Don't stop giving: your time, your love, your compassion.

Don't stop caring: about loved ones, strangers, people near and dear or far off.

Don't stop believing: in hope, in love, in other people. In a good and kind and honest world.

Don't stop.

That's all.

Enjoy every ounce of the awesomeness that is this time of the year, but remember, it doesn't have to end. It's up to you to keep the spirit of love and kindness alive all year.


If you want to help someone in a significant way right now (for instance, the people of Aleppo who are facing unimaginable horrors) you may want to consider donating to Doctors Without Borders. The smallest donation will still make a significant impact.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Reflection of Shadows: Before and After

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Written a decade apart.


I love you more than the sun loves to rise,
And I love you more than the birds love to fly,
I love you more than the stars love the sky, 
- I cannot live without you in my life.

I love you more than anyone else,
I love you more than love itself,
I love you more than the moon loves the night,
- I cannot face the day that you die.

I love you more than I've words to speak,
I love you more than I love anything,
I love you more than my poor heart can handle,
- What will I do without my dear Gramma?


I've loved you in every tear that has fallen,
I've loved you in every memory come calling,
My love doesn't sway on the darkest of nights,
- I'm learning to live without you in my life.

I've loved you with every whisper of "Why?"
And I've loved you with every repeated "Goodbye."
I've loved you with every day that has passed,
 - My heart went with you the day that you left.

I've loved you with each and every breath,
I've loved you in ways words will never express,
I've loved you - I'll  love you - unending, I swear,
- I will never stop missing you, wishing you here.

Happy Birthday, Gramma. I love you always.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Mantra: The Earth Manifesto

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: The earth cares not what you think; it cares only what you do

Right now, my brain is wrapped around the idea of loss. Of incomprehensible loss in multiple ways.
  • Civilizations who rely on the earth as a provider; damaged and hurting and in need of water, of grass, of change.
  • Coastal communities who have seen significant declines in fish populations, significant increases in sunny day floods, and devastation brought on by unbelievable storms.
  • These facts: Half of the world's coral reefs died this year. Refugee situations are being caused by lack of food, water, and acceptable living conditions. Thousands of people dying because of extreme heat never before seen.
Right now I'm focused on a little something called climate change (or global warming). The discussion about climate change is so much more than just about the climate. It's about our culture, our outlook on life. What we consume, what we replenish, what we overlook because we have so much going on in our lives.

I've been doing my homework.

It's terrifying.

We are the most dangerous species on earth. We demand and consume more than our planet can sustain. When the day comes when the planet can no longer handle our demands, it will no longer be able to handle us. It will no longer be able to support or provide for us. Apparently, we're almost there.

I'm trying to understand why people don't believe. Why they think it's a hoax, a lie, a conspiracy. Why it's not enough proof to know that 99% of scientists agree we are in major trouble and that these 99% of scientists are losing sleep every night because yes, that is how bad it really is right now. 

Years ago, when I was deep in the world of health and wellness, I would tell my friends and family about all the things I was learning. I cannot tell you how much skepticism I was met with. To me, it was all logical, plain and simple. Here are the facts. Look at the data. Everything was painfully obvious. But to them, it wasn't. Almost ten years later and many of those friends and family members now believe and reiterate what I once told them. The funny part is they don't even remember our old conversations. They bring up the data as if it's brand new, which it is- to their acceptance of it.

My point is that most people have to come to terms with things in their own time. Often, they come to terms with health and wellness because of illness. We humans tend to only look for a different side when it's either too late or when we are personally affected. We don't have the luxury of waiting until it's too late with the planet. We have now, and if we don't act now we won't have a later.

I realize that part of the problem is that it's not necessarily overwhelmingly obvious in modern civilizations. It is explicitly obvious in developing countries. What we do here - in New York, in Los Angeles, in Phoenix - affects people living in the Philippines, in Africa, in India. Our lives have not been significantly impacted, so for some of us it's hard to believe. But countless other lives in these, plus many other countries, have been. I, as a citizen of humanity, struggle immensely knowing that things are far worse than far too many people are willing to acknowledge.

The thing is, though, there are signs here in the United States. There are signs all around us if we're willing to open our eyes. In my backyard, and on walks with my dogs, I find the bodies of dead bees everywhere. The dust storms have increased in recent years and the monsoons have decreased. It is hot hot HOT in Phoenix. Our desert plants that normally thrive in the heat are dying.

Miami suffers from what they call Sunny Day Flooding. On the warmest, sunniest, completely rain-free days they have immense amounts of sea water flooding their streets. If we, collectively, as the citizens of planet Earth don't do something, Miami will one day (not that many years from now) no longer exist. None of our current coastal communities will. They'll be underwater.

If things don't change, we will see increased refugee surges all over the world. I want you to pause for a second and imagine that. Picture the place you're living right now. Add two million people. Add four million people. What will that do to jobs and housing and supply and demand? Think about it.
  • There are places - today, right now - where people can no longer live because of the lack of water. Because nothing and no one, not even plants, can survive. Right now. Right now.
  • In some of these same places, crime has increased. There is a direct and proven correlation between impacted climates and increased crime for the simple reason of trying to survive. 
  • Animal species are dying at rapid rates. If things don't change, it's predicted that elephants will be extinct in another fifteen years.
Non-believers will be shaking their heads right about now, scoffing. Thinking they know more than the experts. Patting themselves on the back because they saw an ad on TV (paid for by the oil companies) telling them that climate change is a hoax, a way to raise taxes. 

Here's the thing, though:

The earth doesn't care what you think.

Your opinion won't change the facts.

The thing that disturbs me the most is the people who are so unwilling to listen, to learn, to actually open their minds to any and all new thoughts. They are so set in their ways they won't even try.

That is pure laziness.

The real harm lies with them. Because at the end of the day this all boils down to two things: either you believe in climate change and you support whatever needs to be done to stop it, or you don't. For those of us that believe, nothing new that comes is going to surprise us. We expect things to keep getting worse. But for those who don't believe, if major changes don't start happening right now, those people will one day have no choice but to believe. And at that point, they will have wasted precious time doing nothing. And it will be too late.

The question we should all be asking ourselves right now is: Which side do I want to be on?

Once upon a time I heard a saying: "The earth doesn't need us, but we need it."

I hope everyone realizes how true that is. Us climate-change-believers aren't just trying to save the earth. We're trying to save the human species. We cannot continue to purge the earth of it's resources and continue blindly thinking everything available to us is endless, limitless, never ending and without consequences. We can't continue living the way we have thinking it's sustainable. There are limits in absolutely everything in life. That includes what we take from and put into this earth.

In the business world, you have your ups and downs. You have quarters where you are excelling in every possible way and quarters where you fail. If you're lucky, you have years of great work with only blips of decline here and there. Consider the planet in these same terms. It's unreasonable to think that the earth can continue performing at its peak day-in and day-out without ever faltering. That is an impossible task. Taking that into consideration, it's inevitable that terrible things will happen. Terrible things have already happened. Vert simply put, the earth is not exempt from failure, just as nothing in life is. We must come to terms with this, we must understand this, we must take it upon ourselves to be responsible for taking better care of it so that we don't fail to our own detriment.

Let's face some facts here: Livelihoods will be affected by fossil fuel companies going away. It's true. Anyone who works for an oil company will likely lose their job. I'm not saying this lightly or with disrespect. That is a scary concept for anyone. However, you have to remember that new jobs will be created. Plenty of new jobs will exist in support of sustainable resources.

Let's face some more facts, shall we?

Other people's livelihoods have already been affected by climate change. In far worse ways than losing a job. People who have no other means of survival, people who live off of the land. No one, not one single human on this earth, should be willing to hurt another person so they can lead a life in excess. It is a selfish person who refuses to make the necessary and needed changes so that someone else, somewhere possibly miles and miles away, may have what they need to survive.

I too am facing this thought of selfishness. What does all of this mean for me? There are questions I have to ask myself constantly.

We should all be asking these questions of ourselves because we all need this planet.