The First Five Seconds

The First Five Seconds

The first magazine article I ever sold I wrote about an event I saw at the end of the year 2000, and it caused me to do a double-take. An older man was walking his dog. It was a little black dog on a leash. I was driving to the library in the small town that I lived in and there on Main street, suddenly the dog ran up a tree. The man was still holding the handle of the leash and my mouth dropped open. I slowed down. Not a dog at all. It was a black cat. The man was walking his cat. Please remember, this is small town America, 15 years ago. I had to tell someone. I was so flabbergasted when I went into the library. I hurried in to speak with the librarian who told me a story, which led me to write my article about her and her cat when she was in Kuwait.

Keep Playing

I hadn’t written or even published anything professionally yet, but I had dreamed about it. I had even subscribed to the Writer’s Digest magazine and drooled over all the how-to articles. Everything was low-tech, paper submissions at that time. I had my thick paper-bound book of places to submit your articles and a lot of ideas in my newbie’s head. Just no experience. I can’t say that I’m so proficient today even. The market changes quicker than any of us can keep up, which only means that it’s always a new game. Make up the rules and keep playing.

When I got home from the library, I pulled out my handy-dandy spiral notebook and started jotting down the story. I had the subject, cats on a leash and cat training with operant conditioning, and I had my expert the local librarian who had trained her two cats with this method out of necessity while in another country. Now who could best use this article?

$$$

I was limiting my field by writing my article first, but it’s the way life happens sometimes. I grabbed my dog-eared books with all the listings of magazine publishers and started sorting through. I shot off a query letter and put in my hook line about the dog running up the tree and a bit about keeping your cat safe when you’re on vacation and such, the sort of things that I thought they might be interested in for their audience. It worked. My heart stopped almost when I actually got the “we’re interest” phone call. I was getting paid. ASPCA published my first article in the summer of 2001.

Firsts

Everyone has their first story, their first photo, their first client or first whatever. It happens so quick sometimes you don’t have time to think about it. I listened to a Ted talk today by Mel Robbins called How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over, that said you have 5 seconds to act on an impulse before you lose the energy to move forward. You can use that in your favor the next time an opportunity leaps in front of you, remember you have 5 seconds to take an action forward. Write it down, take a step, make a call, or say yes. I was too young and naive at the time of my first to even think anyone would say no to my crazy story. I’m older, wiser now, which only means I second guess myself. I pause. I pull my punches. The urge has left and the opportunity is gone. I have missed a story. I have lost the chance to connect with another person. And that’s a sad thing to miss.

Privilege and Guilt

Privilege and Guilt

I have been embarrassed by my whiteness, my richness, my entitlement. Embarrassed, ashamed, repentant. Inside I was apologetic, not wanting anyone to think that I believed that I am better than another. Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying too hard to prove something. But who am I trying to prove this to? And why?

Check out this video:

We have no control over our birth. Where we are born, the family we are born into, the color of our skin, and the status of our household is decided for us. The religion of our culture is usually the one that we adopt. And yet we claim these things with such pride and place our hand over our hearts, pledging allegiance as if we chose them.

Kids do not create the circumstances they are born into.  Never apologize for who you are, unless who you are is an asshole.
Privilege is what most parents want for their children.  It’s what most people want for themselves.
The problem is not privilege, and the goal is not equality of outcome.
The goal is simple recognition that a lot of people are running the race of life with rocks in their pockets and combat boots on their feet. They are being forced to start a half mile back, and with bad maps.  – Don’t Feel Guilty About Privilege

terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2015/07/dont-feel-guilty-about-privilege.html

We may not be able to change another’s current privilege, but we can change the future generation. It’s not necessary for me to apologize anymore. I don’t have to hang my head. Really. I don’t know why I ever thought that I should.

Slowing Down to a Human Crawl

Slowing Down to a Human Crawl

How much does it cost to feel well? What are you willing to give up to be free of pain? We know that healthcare doesn’t come cheap. Vitamins are expensive. Organic food is a bit extra so we weight the cost. Is it worth it for us? What about the medicine we take? That’s been my dilemma. But not so much about the cost. The medicine I’m taking, Topamax, helps prevent migraines. It’s also been helping in preventing my neck pain. The side effect for me is tiredness, fatigue. With each increase in dosage comes a bit of slowing down. So, my cost/ratio question is, how much pain prevention is it worth for me? How much slowing down can I adapt to?

All glory comes from daring to begin.

John Brown, a poem by Eugene Fitch Ware.

For a while I didn’t know if I was going to make it each time my doctor kept saying, we’re going to try upping your medication. But on the flip side, I didn’t know if I was going to make it with the fire-like pain that was radiating up the nerves in my neck and my skull. I trudged and braced myself, hoping I could make it through another day, then the week. Sometimes there was a reprieve. Until now. I’ve had a full month without headaches. That’s darn good. Freakin’ amazing! It’s been close to 9 months since this process started and now I finally see the progress. The slowing down is worth it.

We live and change

This article though is a little disturbing to me. The trend towards constantly rewarding our happiness button, or shortening our attention span a bit more, is increasing instead of decreasing. I think we’d be happier as a species relaxing our attention and letting go, but that’s just me. Check out the article if you wish here, What would you pay to be happy? The Guardian.

…the poet Guillaume Apollinaire: “Now and then,” he advised, “it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” That’s worth a T-shirt.

William Davies’s The Happiness Industry, from the above article.

 

Yoga challenge – Can you be still? A Sequence To Challenge Distractions.

 

 

What If – Repost

What If – Repost

If I could ask you to do one thing, I would ask you to watch, Living On One Dollar. It’s available on Netflix and goes well with this post.  And now for the re-post–

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.

http://www.squidoo.com/david-and-goliath-malcolm-gladwell-s-tour-de-force

From ABC news –

Hugh Evans presenting the Global Poverty Project
Hugh Evans presenting the Global Poverty Project (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/05/could-you-live-on-a-dollar-a-day/

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: http://business.time.com/2009/08/18/how-to-eat-on-a-dollar-a-day/

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

What can you do?

Get involved.

To help other countries:

  • Micro financing – KIVA.org or others like it.
  • Help with clean water Charitywater.org

Help your local homeless shelter or food pantry. If you don’t know if one exists in your town call your town council or a YMCA.

Help to change attitudes one person at a time. Start small. Show them how changing one life makes a difference. Immigrants and the homeless aren’t nameless or faceless. They are people. They are you and me. They hurt. They dream. They cry. They smile.

 

It’s the Most Charity Time of the Year

English: child enjoying clean and safe drinkin...
child enjoying clean and safe drinking water from a newly built well, funded by charity: water

It’s that time of the year again. Just like last year, I wanted to share with you a couple of my favorite charities. Here’s a link to last year’s, What Color Are Your Towels?

I hope that this has been a good year for you and that you are able to give. If not, then take care of yourself and your own. There’s nothing wrong with that. In the lean years, that’s how we do things. But in those other times, when we’ve planted our garden and have tomatoes “growing out our ears” we make big batches of salsa and give it away. I’ve donated so far this year to Charity:Water and Kiva.org, which is really a loan that is repaid, but I redistribute the funds.

I was fortunate to get involved with TheThinkingAtheists event which looks like it might still be open. I would love to see this fully funded.

Keurig has offered to match donations to Charity Water for the building of freshwater wells in third-world nations.  In the past, The Thinking Atheist community has funded two wells in Ethiopia, and we consider this a worthy endeavor.  Click here for info and to help reach the $20,000 goal. https://my.charitywater.org/compassion-for-clean-water

If you’d like to get someone a gift that also works as a charity donation, check out some of the stores for your favorite charities. Some of the items are so cute. I want these pins,

 

 

 

Below is a short piece by Seth Godin and he lists a few of his favorite charities at the bottom. Please feel free to add some of your own in the comments.

Babies and bathwater – Seth Godin

I got a call yesterday from a charity.

Actually, I got an unsolicited spam pitch from one of the worst charities in America. They give less than 1% of what they raise to the cause in question.

Therefore, some might say, it makes no sense to give to anyone, ever.

Which would be a shame, because it’s a mistake to fail to do the hard work of discerning the good from the deceptive.

The thing is, everything worth doing is done to excess, poorly, immorally, inefficiently, by someone. But that doesn’t change the fact that the very same thing done right is worth doing…….The right charity changes the world, just as it changes us when we engage with it.

[Charities I’m donating to today: Acumen, Room to Read, charity: water, DoSomething, Possible Health, Afya, Build On and Pencils of Promise.]

 

My Version of Confirmation Bias

I did something really stupid over the last 3 or 4 months. I hesitate to tell it because it seems so embarrassingly obvious now. And I bore you with the upfront explanation because I’m vain. Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe, but I’d hate for anyone to think I’m as ditsy as my blonde hair appears.

I have one credit card that I run my monthly expenses through, as suggested by many financial experts, such as, Ramit Sethi, although I’m not a total fan of his.

I had some unexpected expenses so I didn’t pay my card in full and thought I’d catch it up later. Well this is the silly part. I downloaded the online spreadsheet each month to keep track of my monthly expenditures. This sounds smart, right? Until I misread the spreadsheet. I glanced and glazed over at the charges, mentally noted the total at the bottom. The next month the same. By the third month I’m puzzled. The balance was growing tremendously. Curious, I went back over the expenses and mentally added them up…whoa wait a minute. There’s a payment credit and it’s numbers offset the balance. Ugh. Classic mistake of confirmation bias. I had looked at the total I wanted to pay and just went with it. I liked that number. It’s what I wanted it to be, regardless of the true amount owed.

In short, your own mind acts like a compulsive yes-man who echoes whatever you want to believe. Psychologists call this mental gremlin the “confirmation bias.”- JASON ZWEIG

How to Ignore the Yes-Man in Your Head

Have you ever read through something you’ve written a month or a year ago? Amazing how you notice the errors later, but you swear they weren’t there when you posted the writing. That’s why we hire editors for the really important stuff. I call it confirmation bias, but it’s also called not seeing your own imperfections. You can’t. You’re too close. You need the skill of another person that’s not your mom or dad. Someone not too nice or not too critical. Truthful.

Humans are pattern-seeking animals. Once we have determined that a pattern exists, whether it actually does or does not, we tend to look for ways to confirm our suspicions. This is what is known as a confirmation bias. It can influence you in almost every area of your life; from school, to work, or even with the news or entertainment you may enjoy. However, recognizing that you have such biases is the first step in overcoming them and having a more objective view of the world. – Examples of Confirmation Bias

The next time something doesn’t seem right, but you just don’t “see” it, ask for a second opinion. Maybe someone else can help. We all have confirmation bias. Sometimes it’s as plain as the nose on your face, but you look right past it.

What is a Confirmation Bias? – Psychology Today

Now for my other bias, I love this music….

Meager

Money
Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

It’s time for a change in perspective.

I’ve stated too often that I’d rather be happy and poor than to be rich and miserable. Or stated another way, I’d rather have choices and freedom than any beautiful house, car or luxury. I realize it’s time to update that picture in my head, because it’s not an either or choice. I need money. I want money.

Nowhere else in my life do I let myself off easy. In my work I put in the effort to get it right. With my remodeling or repair of my house, I have some darn high standards. So why would I lower my standards in my finances. There was a point I was trying to make when I first said I’d rather be happy than rich. It goes along with the proverb, It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home. – Proverbs 25:24

After living with a workaholic for so many years and longing for his companionship, my twisted logic kicked in. It seemed happiness equaled less money. It sounds silly I know, but beliefs and life scripts don’t always make sense. I’m no longer in that situation, so I’m updating my belief.

It’s a fool’s choice. It’s not real, much like fool’s gold. You have what you have. You either have money or you don’t. There’s no crossroads to meet the devil on, no trading of your soul for fame and fortune, no genie, no lamp, no lucky rabbit’s foot. Work, rest, enjoy what you have.

Check out Stories We Tell and Change It Up

 

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You Can’t Bottle Beauty So Live Now

 

Beauty 6
Beauty 6 (Photo credit: Leah Makin Photography)

Why is it when I see beauty I think I need to own it? And when I think of owning something I become distressed because I can’t afford the object of beauty. So my faulty reasoning kicks in and tells me if I can’t own the beautiful object then I can’t enjoy the beauty. Not true.

I can still enjoy the beauty and the warm glow inside of me from seeing the beauty. Touching it. Smelling it. No one owns the sky and the clouds, but yet on a warm sunny day I feel the pleasure of the birds flying and the soft clouds floating.

Beauty can’t be contained. You can’t bottle it up and store some for later. It’s that moment. Only exactly that moment. Trying to describe the beautiful ruggedness of the Rocky Mountains and how the air is crisp in the morning when you climb the trails, is like trying to explain a joke. The punchline loses it’s punch. If I see something that I think is beautiful I have to stop at that moment and appreciate it. Someone beside me may see beauty also but I can’t explain the awe to them. Not with a thousand pictures. Take fewer pictures and live more moments.

When you call me close

to tell me

your body is not beautiful

I want to summon

the eyes and hidden mouths

of stone and light and water

to testify against you.- Leonard Cohen

 

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How To Not Eat the Marshmallow

I was watching the new Cosmos series with Neil de Grasse Tyson, when a new car advertisement comes on. It hits me suddenly and I have the urge, no, NEED to research Subaru. Why? Some subliminal reaction? I have a good car. I picked this particular car and don’t have a desire for a new one, but yet I still had the new car craving. Because if I had a new Subaru Outback I’d have adventure. I’d be young and trendy. I could explore and travel and I’d be happy! Subliminal messages are like a virus to me. Just like the latest diet craze, any new fact or interest I get tends to take me chasing rabbit trails.

Ways to distract myself from spending money

The trick is to catch it at the first urge. There’s a short pause between seeing the shiny apple hanging from the tree and thinking of the sweet taste it will leave in my mouth. Also, thinking of it being there, taunting me. It won’t stay there forever. Shouldn’t let it go to waste. Ah heck, I might as well just eat it. STOP. Somewhere before my hand reaches for the prize, I have to catch my spiraling thinking. Faulty logic. Enticing images. That’s my magic moment. If I can learn to catch myself before I hit the BUY button I’ll be okay.

There are methods to distract yourself. When I’m exercising I use distraction to hold a pose just a little longer. I sometimes tell myself I’ll run to the next stop sign, then turn around. Mostly it works. It’s almost like working with a child.

You may have already heard of the study done with the marshmallows. I’m going to repeat it because it fits with my thoughts on spending money.

The Stanford marshmallow experiment:

The children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice (Oreo cookie, marshmallow, or pretzel stick) was placed on a table, by a chair.[1] The children could eat the marshmallow, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.[1]

Mischel observed as some would “cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can’t see the tray, others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal”, while others would simply eat the marshmallow as soon as the researchers left.[1]

It’s a natural response to distract ourselves. You want to eat the cookie. The cookie is within reach, but you don’t. So from now on, if I can catch myself in that moment before I hit BUY, I will go clean the toilet!

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But I Don’t Want to be a Socialist

Forex Money for Exchange in Currency Bank

I’m torn between two social systems.

My dissatisfaction

 

Hospitals, doctors, churches, governments are all evaluated on their performance. Only a small part of that performance is of curing illness. The biggest remaining portion is decided by profit. We know this and realize this, but it doesn’t hit us in the face until you or your family need care. Especially expensive care. I gathered as many of my thoughts as I could trying to understand what I feel is wrong with society. I’ve been troubling over this for some time. Years.

 

Purpose

“FedEx used to believe that they were in the customer service business, and that speed and reliability were the driving factor behind everything they did. Now, it seems, they are in the profit business. That the purpose of all of those people and all of those trucks and planes is to maximize profit. The rest is merely a means to that end.” Seth Godin, What’s It For?

 

We are there for our families. We don’t expect our children to make a profit. We raise them for 20 or so years because we love them. Our society is based on greed. And my impossible dream seems even more impossible after I realized the wall I keep running into, which is the two priorities. Nurture vs Profit.

 

It dawned on me in a moment of complete panic. My differing views are covered by Marxism or Socialism. I also realized that made me the enemy. I am the hated Socialist. But no, I’m a Capitalist. All of these years I’ve been trying to figure out what is wrong with society or what is wrong with the government. Why do they not care for their people? I know now. I have been the naive Marxist.

 

Social Styles

 

I found an article online regarding the difference between Marxism and Capitalism. I found it interesting, maybe even a bit grounding, but now I am confused. In theory, Marxism or Socialism is a more giving society except that I’ve seen the end result in many European and Asian countries. These are ruled by strict iron fists and it never turns out well for the people. The citizens are oppressed and it reminds me of gray cloudy days. Sad. The only one close to my ideal is France, although it’s not officially a socialist society. Some do call it that, but it’s still a capitalist country. In the way our current world is structured, I don’t think it’s possible to have the ideal that I would wish for and that leaves me sad. I would love to see a society where the people are the main goal, their welfare and the raising of the family. Maybe it isn’t time yet for this world to maintain that style of living. A girl can dream. I can imagine that we could work at jobs and produce food for our families and not be worried that someone will take our homes from us, but our world’s ideology would have to be upgraded a few notches.

 

Nurturer in a Profit driven world

 

Until then, I suppose we have to work with what we have. My main concerns about the Capitalist society is in the healthcare and educational arenas. We are heading in a more caring direction. I hope we continue.

 

  • Immunizations for all and at least the basic of healthcare needs met.
  • I would also like to see religion not be as damning and punishing, withholding love from people.
  • There’s plenty of room in the fields of charity and training, teaching in the basics of caring for ourselves.
  • I would like our society to be a generous society. One that provides for its own and does not withhold goods for survival.
  • We should be beyond survival. It seems we are held down to that level of fear needlessly. We are just inches away from attaining what we need and it moves just a bit.

We as humans are clever enough to use both capitalism and socialism to our advantage. Neither are evil in their own rights. It matters only how they are used.

 

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