Friday, October 20, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Selfish

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Words you're speaking
Leave me screaming-
Silent screaming in my head.
All the nonsense
That you polish-
Empty promises you give.

It's the "you" show,
Bask in your glow-
Everything's about the lift,
About the spotlight,
Make you feel right-
It's a game that no one wins.

Time consuming,
All your ruining-
Overcomplicated thoughts.
Data lacking,
Opinion packing-
Crash and burn again, again.

More frustration-
You're the worst, the worst of it.
Attention seeking,
Me, me, me-ing-
Wake up or you'll lose it all.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Mantra: Ask Me No Questions, I'll Tell You No Lies

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 truth is sometimes a fine, thin line
I was talking with my friend today about the frailty of truth, of fact, of proof. Of how, even with the greatest advancements of technology and science, there is still so much speculation and so many conflicting data points in play that finding that one piece of evidence that proves something is one way or another beyond a shadow of a doubt is difficult. Sometimes, impossible.

This can be applied to many things: climate change, religion, politics, vaccines. Even forensic science, with the huge advancements it's made, is still quite frail in determining whether or not someone is guilty of a crime.

Part 1: The disparity between factual data.

My favorite example of this is GMOs. I've long been an advocate for the labeling of food products that have been, especially in the last decade or so, genetically modified. My reason list is long, but to sum it up: what you don't know can kill you, especially when it's in your food.

GMOs of today are not the GMOs of yesteryear. It's no longer seedless watermelons or hybrid pluots we're dealing with. It is very seriously altered chemical makeups of plants that contain DNA structures unnatural to them normally and, most importantly, with unknown (lengthy) scientific data to back up possible outcomes.

I argue this point a lot and people who don't see my overarching point argue that there's data (or Bill Nye) that show GMOs are safe.

Yep. There sure is! But there's also plenty of data that shows they aren't safe.

We're both right.

Confusing as heck, huh? How can the facts point two different ways?

Consider what we do know, what is a fact: Scientific data changes on the regular.

Here's a great example of what I'm talking about: Eggs, which have been made out as the villain, only to be redeemed as the all nutritious life saver of the food world. This happens time and time again and it's just one of many foods (and things, in general) that this has happened to.

One decade to the next what we're told to eat/do/believe and why we're told to do these things changes. And it changes dramatically. All because of new research and new data, all of which conflicts with other research and data because research is a finicky bitch. If you don't know what I mean, take a business research class. What it essentially comes down to is that the control groups and how things are handled must be perfect- and perfect doesn't exist. What works today in this group of people might not work tomorrow in that group of people, all because the sun was warmer or their DNA had a special defect or they ate one extra meal that they forgot to record. Everything is fragile.

(It's important to note that, sadly, many times research is not done by an independent party, which means collusion and money bribing often come into play. But we'll get to that next).

This is why we're constantly told conflicting things. This is why people argue to the bitter end. You will always find what you're looking for, whether you are for or against something. It's the world we live in.

The ultimate fact of all of this is that we won't know the finite truth until many years down the road, in most cases. It will not be until enough time has passed and enough proof has surfaced that something was either right or wrong. Sometimes that means, in the process of waiting, a lot of people can end up being hurt. I'm looking at you, Lysol ads from the 50's. And you, Agent Orange, that is affecting people decades later who weren't even in the war. If you don't know what I'm talking about, research these items. It is sad and true and awful. It is the exact thing I'm saying: We usually don't know the effects of something until decades have passed and it's too late.

In this instance, with GMOs, it means if I'm wrong, no harm. Literally- no harm. But if I'm right, and the data I look at is right, then lots of harm. Lots and lots.

My first point on this piece, in general, is that next time you argue with someone, please consider how many conflicting pieces of data their are in the world. Everyone can have their opinions, but there's no reason to be an asshole. Be open minded. Realize why one person feels one way and the other feels another.

My second point is this: When you're looking at something that is potentially harmful in any way, shape, or form, to you or someone else, consider erring on the side of caution. Consider how many things have been proven wrong in the past, years and years and years too late. Consider that if only someone had made one teeny tiny change from a cautious perspective a much better outcome could have occurred. Think about it. All I'm asking is for you to just think about it.

Then there's the flip side of how honest the world has really been with us. The almost overwhelming sense that for some things there must already be hard, cold, exact proof that A leads to Z. What usually happens in these case is that, once again, years and years and years later the truth does come out and yes, A led to Z like everyone thought all along.

What do I mean?

Part 2: Some truths are hidden on purpose.

One of the things that bothers me the most in this world are truths that are hidden, or altered, for the wrong reasons. Facts that are changed so that we are led to believe something that is, actually, quite false and quite dangerous.

There is information we, the people of this country, this world, are not privy to. For reasons of safety, for reasons of concern in uprising, for reasons of profit, success, greed. For reasons that are just and good and right, but also for reasons that are treacherous and terrible and wrong.

What we are told today might very well not be the truth tomorrow, and we might only come to discover that after it's too late.

Consider each of these scenarios that we now know far more about. Things that, at one time or another, were only speculation, rumor, or unknowns.
 - Argo: A finely kept secret for years. A good secret, one in which lives were quite literally saved because of the lies fabricated in order to successfully pull off the task at hand. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but doesn't it make you wonder how many other things exist within our government that we know nothing about? 
 - The Catholic Church's issues with molestation, rape, and pedophilia. To be clear, I'm not beating up the beliefs of Catholicism. On many occasions in this blog I've been clear that I support a wide range of beliefs. This is not what I'm talking about. The point being here is that there is so much proof (SO MUCH PROOF!!!) that countless people have been abused and that the church has hidden it for years, and why? That's the question you must ask. Is it a reputation thing? Is is the fear of loss in faith? Or is it the fear in loss of power and money? Regardless, why are any of those fears more important than the lives the church is damaging by not admitting the truth and fixing this once and for all?
 - The Space Shuttle Challenger was a focus point in one of my human resource classes. There is an excellent film on the events that led to this disaster, but to sum it up, while we know the issue was with the O-rings, the disaster that occurred could have been avoided if the people in charge had been more concerned about safety and less concerned about the reputation of their space program and the potential loss of money due to not launching.  
 - PG&E. I'm sure you've seen the movie and/or heard about what happened, so we'll sum it up like this. PG&E was an asshole and basically said, "Let's just dump all our toxic chemicals in the ground because it's cheaper and then lie to everyone about what's in their water." People got insanely sick. More lies. Erin Brockovich uncovers something, then kicks a whole lotta ass and brings some justice to the people affected.
 - Enron. I'll just leave it at that since we all know how effed up that story is. 
We are lied to: all the time, about all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. Unless we hold ourselves accountable to the truth and a high moral code, unless we hold our governments and leaders to this same accountability, and unless we question what needs to be questioned, this will never stop happening.

Part 3: What does it all mean?

Pay attention.

You can't ignore the influence of money and power. In absolutely every scenario I've written about there is a certain level of both of these being at stake. Money and power are constantly being used, being leveraged, being threatened. And because of those two items, those two things that aren't supposed to be the driving force of humanity, humanity ends up suffering.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? If a GMO company is filthy rich and has far too much power, what is it willing to do to keep it? What is it willing to do to lead you away from the truth? Why is cancer such a money making business? Why is illness more profitable than health, in general? And how in the hell does child sex trafficking exist in a day and age when absolutely everything everyone does is monitored?

Somewhere, someone knows the answers to these questions. Someone knows the finite truths. And if they don't now, one day they will. Let's hope we all find out the truth when it's discovered and let's hope our world starts caring more about integrity and less about profitability.

Life is a dancing act between double edged swords. One way or another, you're going to get cut.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: The Addiction Race

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The morning of the sale, everyone was out there
Waiting for the doors to open.
They all wanted what they'd
Seen in those pictures.

The Addiction Race

How does it feel to have your wings crushed down by stone?
How does it feel to want the meat but find the bone?
What is it like to know your life is ending fast?
What would you do if you knew today was your last?


Why are you rushing everywhere?

Who would you go to if all you had had turned to dust?
Who would you turn to with your life, who would you trust?
Where are you going in this hurry that you take?
Who are you blaming, placing others lives at stake?


It seems like you're in a race to die.

It seems like you don't know what's coming for you.
Why are you in a rush for your life to be through?

Monday, October 9, 2017

I'm With You. I'm Here.

Lofty Softy
With all of the things that have happened this year, that keep on happening, I feel like I'm running out of words. There are only so many ways you can say, "I'm sorry. This is terrible. We need to fix this. What will it take?"

We have earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and volcanos, to name just a few things Mother Nature has been throwing at us. We have people with weapons they should never have had the opportunity to purchase. We have people in power doing nothing to stop stoppable things, making matters worse, wasting our time day in and day out on nonsense. We have people in charge of far too important things who value money over humanity far too much. We have fear and violence and issues popping up left and right that should have been put to bed decades ago.

There are no suitable excuses. There shouldn't be any excuses, period.

I was fed up a long time ago. I don't know what this feeling is called now; furious frustration with a mix of disbelief and sadness.

Last night I lay in bed thinking, thinking, thinking. When a mad man goes on a killing rampage it makes you wonder about all kinds of things, like where next where next where next? That was just one thought that kept running on repeat.

Whoever you are, wherever you are reading this:

I'm with you.

I see you.

I hear you.

I'm here.

We can do better than this. We should expect better than this. We need to fight for better than this.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: When You Left

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

When You Left

Through the woods and through the trees,
When shadows came upon my eaves,
The sky was overcast by you
In shades of purple, gray and blue.

Through the darkness and the pain,
Through emotions I can't name,
Swallowed whole, engulfed, submerged
In the depths of your last words.

My breath quiet, shallow, thin
Until I felt a stir within.
All I knew is what I'd lost
The day you made my heartbeats stop.

Every smile, every moment,
Everything that made me someone,
All my joy was bound in you
So when you left, you took that too.

Monday, October 2, 2017

You Need These Recipes In Your Life: PB Banana Bars and Sensational Cauliflower

First batch. The second batch came out even better.

GF (and Vegan) Peanut Butter Banana Bars Dipped in Chocolate

First up, this insanely good recipe for peanut butter banana bars dipped in chocolate. I've now made these multiple times to the appreciation and joy of my friends and family.

Instead of typing out the whole doggone thing on here, I'm just going to direct you to the link because A) I didn't have to edit/alter anything to make these gluten free and B) the recipe is actually really easy to follow and finally C) this lady is a genius for creating these babies and y'all should check out her site.

Tip #1: Follow her directions. She's telling you not to omit things for a good reason. Also, give yourself time to make these. It's a process, but if I can make them look pretty, anyone can. I will also say if you're not a professional chocolate dipper (as I am not) add more chocolate chips. I went with the amount instructed on the first round, but found I needed more because my chocolate coating skills needed a little help. The second batch was gorgeous simply because I had made sure I had extra chocolate to dip into.

Tip #2: Consider making the bars smaller. These babies have a fine line between too hard and too soft to eat once taken out of the freezer and left to defrost a tad. I've decided making them smaller, square bite sized pieces will do a world of good.

Sensational Cauliflower 

I've been seeing a lot of cauliflower recipes around, so I took a few (like the one below) and combined them together to make the seasoning for this recipe. The hubs isn't even a fan of cauliflower, but after this, he's in love. We've gone cauliflower crazy over here!

Here's my take on the cauliflower:
- One large head of cauliflower
- 4 to 5 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 TSP salt
- 1/2 TSP black pepper
- 1/2 TSP garlic powder
- 1 TSP paprika
- 2 strips of cooked bacon diced up (optional, although let's be honest, bacon makes everything better)
- Fresh thyme

1. Slice the cauliflower like you would bread and place all pieces on a non-stick bake pan.

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine: olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. Mix together.

3. Coat the cauliflower slices, front and back, with the mix of seasonings by brushing it on each piece.

4. Bake on 425 degrees for 35 minutes. At the halfway mark flip over the cauliflower so each side gets a nice toasty look going on. You don't want it burned, but you want it good and brown at the tips and edges. (If you're adding the bacon, start cooking it during this process so it's ready to go once the cauliflower is done.)

5. Then, chop up some fresh thyme and sprinkle it all over the cauliflower when done. (If you're going the bacon route, dice it up now and add it to the cauliflower.)

6. Finally, have those delicious PB bars for dessert. *wink wink*

We also tried out a pork chops and bacon recipe, with cauliflower of course, which was pretty darn good. As for the pork chops and bacon, you can just follow the directions exactly outlined here. Depending on the size of your pork chops, you may want to cook the cauliflower separately. I say this because some of it got burned just waiting for the pork chops to finish up. While you want your cauliflower good and baked, you don't want it turned to char. (Also, don't buy gigantic pork chops if you want the bacon to actually wrap around it. LOL *facepalm*)

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Never

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

You're not me.
You'll never find your way,
Not looking through remains of all the things I've thrown away.

You're not me.
You'll never have my dreams,
Not searching in the cobwebs of the things you choose to see.

You're not me.
You'll never have my life.
You're searching in the wrong place for the peace that you desire.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Mantra: The Search for Answers

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: One of these days the sky's going to break, and everything will escape and I'll know. - Civil Twilight

I have always wanted to know. Everything. All of it. Every single detail. I've been seeking answers to the unanswerable since I was a child.

At first, my questions were about God. I wanted to know what heaven looked like, why we couldn't visit the dead, why God could apparently hear all of our prayers but we could never have a real conversation with Him. I wanted to know if the streets were actually paved in gold, if everyone who was up there recognized each other, if we all died one age but arrived in heaven another. I wanted to know if every day was exactly the same, if people got bored, how it would feel to be happy for the rest of time, for the infinity I was told heaven was all about.

I wanted to know if, once we were dead, we were somehow able to still visit earth and see all the places. All of them. Every inch of this planet. If we could float in the sky, if we could swim in the oceans, if we could do all of this without fear, without worry, without the limitations of being human. I wanted to know if death was some kind of a magic wand that granted us the ability to be super human, super wise, super everything.

As I've grown older, I've added more questions to my list: The List of Unanswerable Questions.

My views on God and heaven and religion have changed. Now, I want to know if we only live one life or many, if there are parallel universes with parallel versions of us, if there is absolutely nothing after we shut our eyes for the last time.

I want to know why we don't use 100% of our brains and what it would really mean if we could.

I want to know what the future holds and I want to be able to see events from the past, to see how things really happened.

I want abilities that do not exist. I want answers to limitations.

When I was very, very little I would keep a mental list of all of my questions. Each night I would repeat them to myself in my head, over and over again, as a way to remember them for the future- the future I believed in where, one day, all of my questions would be answered.

I still believe that future exists. I don't know where or how or when, but I believe one day, somehow, all of the answers will escape and I'll finally get to know.

Things like why we have such a hard time being kind to one another.

Why we live in a world that tolerates hate.

Why things that are so clearly unacceptable haven't changed and why we've ever had to deal with them in the first place.

I am trying to love the questions, even the hardest of the hard, the most painful, the most urgent.

My list has grown longer and my patience shorter, but I wait. I wait for all of us to somehow, someway, live our way into the answers.