Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude!

Nov. 30th -- To sum up my month of gratitude, I would like to express my utmost appreciation to people I have never met. To all those who try out natural cures and tell us what works; to spiritual men and women who pray for us, whether we know of them or not; to thoughtful people who watch those in power and expose their misdeeds; to anyone who works to help us understand complex documents, like insurance forms or proposed laws or bills; to the unsung heroes like food inspectors, crash test scientists, and hosts of others who assure our products meet reasonable standards; the list is really too long. I would like to think that everyone who has read these posts will pursue their own expressions of gratitude. I like to imagine a fellow listening to (say) his uncle or even a complete stranger bitching about his job, and then saying to him (or her), "You know, I never realized how important your work is to society as a whole. Has anyone ever thanked you for it?" And then thanking them profoundly.

Nov. 29th -- I am so glad I own a car! Maintenance, insurance, and gas are a pain, but I love knowing I can just jump in and take a road trip. I used to drive cross-country on trips, though I have not done so for a long time (many reasons, mostly physical). But it's still great to take a weekend trip here or there. One thing I think most people in this country do not realize is how far apart our cities are, how sparsely populated the U.S. actually is. Europe, for example, has been well-settled for thousands of years; the U.S., nary a few hundred past the Appalachias. I love the freedom of controlling my own movements, and not having to take public transportation. Windows down, singing at the top of my lungs (provided there are no other passengers), cooler and food to hand, I used to be able to drive all day without thinking twice about it. The oddest thing I guess I ever did on the road was strap my panda on top of my cooler; when I would drive by other cars, the kids would point at Boozer riding shotgun and laugh!

Nov. 28th -- I am forever grateful that I was born an American citizen. Our country is not perfect, but it's far and beyond so many others. I've visited three other countries, and even felt mild 'culture shock' returning from one highly developed European country. So many people in the U.S. have little empathy for those who survive day-by-day, when they do not realize they can learn valuable lessons from them all, even from those living on American streets. I am grateful for what I have, I am grateful for the compassion others have shown me, and I am absolutely grateful to be living in the Land of the Free, where I can believe anything I want, take any job I want, celebrate any holy day I want, live wherever I want, consort with saints and sinners as I want, and do almost everything I want. Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow U.S. citizens, and be grateful for the blessings available in this great country!

Nov. 27th -- I'm going to get a li'l silly today and tell you why I am so grateful for blankies! All blankies are wonderful, whether for simple insulative purposes or works of art. Comforters, quilts, throws, doesn't matter to me; I luv 'em, one and all. My winter fave is a thick comforter, corduroy on one side and microfiber fleece on the other; my summer faves are two thin quilts two different sisters-in-law made us. I adore the many fabrics they come in, such as velour, and I covet these two throws I gave my mom once that I bought at an alpaca show; I should have kept one for myself! Blankies mean comfort and love as much as warmth, the ultimate considerate gift (in my opinion) to show you care to spiritually nourish your loved one by wrapping them in your protection as they sleep. Of course, the best part is snuggling with your Beloved under a nice, big blankie...!

Nov. 26th -- Although I complain about it entirely too much, I am grateful for my body and my health. I'm getting better, slowly but surely, and a large part of that is due to changing my health habits. I'm eating real food nowadays, i.e. nothing from a place that advertises on TV, and preferably as 'raw' as I can, such as no overcooking the vegetables. I'm using healthy spices, too -- my 'Magic Medicine Mix' consists of equal parts of turmeric, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne, with a small amount of black pepper (to make the curcumin in the turmeric vastly more effective). I'm not ingesting aspartame, but after being addicted to Diet Mountain Dew for some 20-25 years, I know it will take time for my body to recover from that damage. When I do have the energy to get up and move, I am trying to include walking, not just housework or yard work, and one of these seminars at the expo I went to last weekend has inspired me to get back into stretching, though nothing close to 'yoga' yet! I think I'll start on the 5 Tibetan Rites again, soon. Here's a PDF; there are YouTube videos, too.

Nov. 25th -- I am so grateful to have a home. Sure, there are trials to home ownership, but to know you have a 'room of your own', a place you can arrange with all your most favorite comforts, protection from the elements, room in which to pursue your amusements and store your books, is a blessing beyond measure. I love my yard and its mini-forest, and although it has a number of things I would correct if I could (foundation, minimal insulation), I love coming home to my snug li'l farmhouse and burrowing in with my hubby and doggies on cold nights. I pray that everyone find a decent, warm domicile this winter, preferably one they can permanently call their own and develop into a sweet retreat from society and the brutal weather.

Nov. 24th -- I am so grateful for the Elders. I love speaking to older people just in general, since they've experienced life lessons they are (usually) more than willing to pass on. But the Elders, such as the Native American elders or even specialists in new fields who go out of their way to (say) teach at conferences, make me grateful I live in a society and time in which we have the resources to find each other, for many elders have been given permission to teach to whoever would absorb their teachings. I think of the dark ages in Europe during which about the only people allowed to learn anything had to become religious clerics or, at a minimum, an apprentice to a craft (on sometimes near-slavish terms). Appreciate the elders in your life; ask them about things they would teach you. At the very least, get some of the old-time stories from your parents and grandparents and other relatives before they get lost for all time!

Nov. 23rd -- I am very grateful for the 'convention' and 'fair' culture in the U. S. I have a huge number of interests, but although I do not always get a chance to indulge them, sometimes I get to go to a fair or convention, for a weekend or even an entire week, and immerse myself in some particular kind of fandom. I met my hubby at a science fiction convention, for example (married him at one, too! well, just before; it was our honeymoon). My dad and I both love barbershop music, so if I want to go to the yearly international barbershop quartet convention, he pays my way. This weekend I'm at a psychic fair/expo, with all the fabulous panels, gorgeous New Age jewels and jewelry, and 'readers' galore. I went to my first Tibetan healing ceremony and have been slavering over getting my own Tibetan singing bowl, but opted for some Douglas Blue Feather flute music, instead. (I must have spent half an hour lusting for one of the flutes at his booth, too.) Oh, and I am TOTALLY waffling over the decision to buy a Himalayan pink salt cooking slab -- yes, you put it directly over the flames and cook your fish right on it! Just wipe with a paper towel and season with olive oil after, and it lasts for years (just don't use water). At the very least, at these fairs and conventions you can always find lots of flyers, cards, brochures & so forth, to order things later if you wish!

Nov. 22nd -- I am grateful for word processing programs. Yep. If I had to write everything longhand, I'd have permanent writers cramp up to the middle of my back. I use Word '07, and with all the publishing I've been doing, I feel like I understand about a tenth of the entire program. When I first went to college, I was thrilled just to have an electronic typewriter with a white correction strip. I can't imagine having to type up a million words and edit them on sheets of paper -- how many reams would I have gone through by now? I had a computer by the time I studied for my masters in education, and although I had to devise and write the formulas into the master boxes, all I did was put in the data, and boom! Two correlations I could analyze! Thanks to all the genius coders out there, making our lives easier!

Nov. 21st -- Please don't come down too hard, but I am so very grateful for! Not only can I order just about anything I want, I can earn money by publishing my ebooks AND selling my own stuff, though I've not signed up for that yet. I check reviews and prices on things there all the time, and I'm now setting up with their CreateSpace print-on-demand publisher. I know everyone's rather wary of their monopolistic tendencies, but hell, they wouldn't have gotten so huge if they weren't doing a lot of things right! I just wish I had purchased stock when I first heard about Amazon years ago!

Nov. 20th -- I know it sounds rather trite, but I am so grateful for my bed! We have an extra-firm memory foam mattress, the 2nd and only kind we buy, and it is heavenly. Non-allergenic, the biggest advantage besides comfort is its insulative value; it warms to your body's temperature and holds the heat all night long. Spending a third of your life on a horrible spring mattress is a damn shame -- go try out a memory foam mattress! The prices have come way down in recent years, so do some comparison shopping online and treat yourself and your Beloved to the perfect Christmas gift!

Nov. 19th -- I am grateful for my doggies! I 'rescued' them when they were 8 weeks old, from a litter that was going to be dumped in the countryside, wishing I could have adopted all five (but I knew the hubs would never go for that). Taking responsibility for them has occasionally been the only routine I could maintain. I wonder if they think of me as their goddess, and how I rate in their minds. I have little songs about their names, a particular tone of voice when I speak to them, and set phrases I use when speaking to them. "No Mommy Noms for you!", "You are the precious!", and "The best girls in all the land, and the Mommy doesn't lie about important stuff like that!" There is considerable debate about the origins of dog domestication, too -- see I personally think that humans have been genetically altered in the waaaay distant past (perhaps 200,000-300,000 years ago; I am positive Earth held high civilizations before), and the scientists who did so genetically modified wolves into dogs to become our perfect friends. My beautiful girls have been incredible companions throughout this long depression and recovery, and make me laugh every day over some of the silly posturings they take on in attempts to get some affection. Those tummies don't rub themselves, Mommy!

Nov. 18th -- I will not be making a public post today. Instead, I will be writing a letter to a teacher who was a tremendous influence on me, expressing my appreciation directly. I hope you all consider doing the same at some point in your lives, because teaching is a heart-wrenching profession, never knowing whether you have positively influenced anyone and/or helped them prepare for the nebulous future.

Nov. 17th -- I am utterly grateful for what passes as 'everyday science' now. 100 years ago, the best weather prediction you could get was Grandma's knees or Grandpa's once-broken bone; now we have meteorologists that put out the call hours or days ahead of time of tornado/hurricane/blizzard conditions. Gardeners can find just about every possible soil amendment for their finicky plants in home improvement centers, complete with instructions on the box or bag, and even hydroponics mixes to grow without soil entirely. Cooks can find recipe books that describe why overmixing the batter makes their quickbreads and pancakes tough, or the proper way and length to cook eggs and meat safely, not to mention things like how the pH of food combinations affects their palatability or nutrition! We have electrical devices and batteries and lights and portable gas-powered appliances barely imagined even 50 years ago. And, naturally, the creation of 'intuitive' interfaces allows a noob like me to do something as artistic as come up with book covers -- for a gal who can barely draw stick figures, I can assure you I adore playing with my image manipulation programs! To all the scientists out there, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Nov. 16th -- I am so very grateful for 24-hour stores! Whether it's the local mega-mart or the gas station convenience store, I absolutely appreciate businesses that cater to us 'night owls'. I love going grocery shopping at 3 a.m. to avoid the crowds, as well as filling up my car. I'm so glad we live in such a safe country that can support 24-hour stores, too. I've told people before, "This IS the land of milk and honey -- you can go out your door this very instant and buy milk and honey in the smallest mini-mart open in the middle of the night!" And I try to thank the people working those hours, too, at the very least with pleasant conversation to make their jobs easier. It pleases me to know that businesses are open for those who must work night shifts, too, like hospital workers, EMS, utility companies, and police. If only we could do business 24/7 with the government!

Nov. 15th -- I am grateful for city services! If I had to harvest all my own water, chop wood all day, and repurpose every single bit of garbage that could not be composted, I'd never get anything done. I'm absolutely grateful for postal services, because I order and receive more items through the mail than I do going out to shop. I am super-grateful for road maintenance, especially during winter, though Louisville tends to be hyper-vigilant about using salt on the roads. Still, there have been many times I needed to travel and the trucks were out scraping the roads. Now if I can only get the metropolitan sewer district to admit they screwed up our drainage years ago such that our driveway keeps washing out, and get them to fix it, I'd be a happy camper!

Nov. 14th -- I have always appreciated music, so I am utterly grateful for the explosion of technology that can provide me with centuries of expressive music, even from cultures I've never heard of or hardly explored. I used to sing and play several instruments, but horrific depression has kept me from my music for many years, now. I've totally lost my singing voice, due to the alpha-inspired social pressure of teaching through weeks of a terrible chest cold in which I could feel my vocal cords grotesquely twisting through every cough. My guitars languish in corners of my house, for I would usually only play them to accompany my singing. I am grateful for, of all things, these cheap plastic recorders I play; although I may not be accomplished at them, the sound of flutes, recorders, and piccolos stimulate my heart chakra. I love going on YouTube and having 'thons', like a Luciano Pavarotti/Three Tenors evening, a night exploring East Asian music, or a 70's funk-a-thon. Cello and pipe organs are my favorite instruments; I can't begin to say who my favorite vocal performers are unless you give me a category, and they are always subject to change. Favorite quote: Victor Hugo — 'Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to remain silent.'

Added 11/19:  Listen to this AMAZING instrument!

Nov. 13th -- I am very grateful that I have learned the value of dreaming, and in so many ways. In sleep, most dreams are chaotic mash-ups of experiences of a day, but we can learn to 'command' our dreams to bring us solutions to problems and insights into the greater issues of our lives. Prophetic dreams do occur, though I cannot say with certainty that I've had them (just several too-eerie 'coincidences'), but there are plenty of confirmed ones you can find online. In addition, dreams teach the language of the soul, the deep, inner symbolism by which your subconscious mind (and Higher Self, if you trust that kind of thing) can teach valuable lessons. I just woke up from a dream this morning that brought me great understanding of at least half of the problems of my life, so I will take the time to re-evaluate those problems in that new light and devise new 'approaches' to them. Last but DEFINITELY not least: understanding the power of dreams means you can use those deep symbols to actively imagine situations in a theta state while you are still awake, and then COMMAND your subconscious to bring those things into being! This is called manifestation, aka 'the law of attraction'! The trick is that, once you command them, you have to 'forget' about them so your subconscious can 'work' them into being. Instead of nagging the Universe, once you command a process, you need to stay out of the way so it can manifest!

Nov. 12th -- I am grateful for trees, the 'lungs' of our planet. Food from nuts, medicine from bark, leaves, fruits, and roots (sassafras tea from my own trees!), shelter, firewood, clothing, sweetener (xylitol from birch, maple syrup), musical instruments, paper and books, a myriad of products from cellulose. But once again, the most important part: OXYGEN. And nowadays, with the concerns over global warming, carbon sequestration. Most heartbreaking statistic: we have destroyed over half the trees on the planet since the Industrial Revolution. Second most heartbreaking statistic: the Amazon rainforest continues to be harvested. Massive plantations of monoculture fast-growing pine trees will not help nearly enough, not to mention the fact that those are all 'destined' to be used as lumber within 50 years. We need broad plantings of deciduous (leaf-bearing, not needle-bearing) forest trees, as thoroughly mixed as possible, just to clear the air of pollution. Hubby & I planted tulip poplars, burr oaks, black locusts (highest BTU's of any wood), and all kinds of seeds, although many did not come up. No matter; our tiny forest is thriving, and one of my many lottery dreams is to help people reclaim old strip-mined land by planting trees. When I die, I want to be cremated and have a redwood or a giant sequoia planted with my scattered ashes. I wish I could afford to support the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive to spread cultivars of the most ancient trees from around the world!

Nov. 11th -- I frankly don't have the words to express my gratitude for veterans. In my series, particularly book 3 Fealty, I describe a society that actively cares for them, as well as a Service with training methods I feel would contribute to a Serviceman's deep understanding of his true value. One of my lottery dreams is to build small living communities to get homeless veterans off the street, get them treatment if they need it, and help them re-integrate into society. I even wrote a poem the other day that I sent to a contest, called Phantom Pain. And although I often ask them about their Service, so few veterans care to talk about it to outsiders; I don't want to offend them, but I still offer, just so they know a random stranger cares for their pain and sacrifices. I pray the divine beings watching over them can 'get through' to them, with warnings and intuition and outright signs, to indicate when extra caution is needed against the terrible intents of their enemies. Hail to the great-souled who offer their lives for their people!

Nov. 10th -- Although I have pronounced criticisms of the current U.S. educational system, I am profoundly grateful for the educational opportunities I have had or made. The system is flawed in many ways, and although its compulsory nature engenders a considerable amount of the demotivation of students, in truth we desperately need every citizen to be educated BEYOND their abilities. We need a citizenship aware of all possible careers, as well as opportunities to socialize with and learn from people outside their limited neighborhood influences and daily lifestyles. We need students to be exposed to ideologies and arguments that affect vast populations, even the entire planet, so they will at least be aware of them, possibly to find solutions from others to solve their personal problems, or even develop solutions that can spread worldwide. See Above all, we need a populace aware of methods of resolving conflict that do not entail violence, for war is a failure of (unnamed persons) to achieve civil working agreements, leading to tragedies of blood and infrastructure and contamination that warp entire societies for a lifetime, and beyond.

Nov. 9th -- I am thoroughly grateful for peace, and not just the peace that armies bring our nations. I love the peace I feel when writing on my laptop as my doggies snore away on the couch. I am thankful for the peace of waiting in long lines, where everyone chats lightly with each other in order to keep patient, instead of blaring their frustrations out and causing us all to have a bad day. I relish the peace of the woods, with no sounds of tractors, chain saws, or heavy equipment cutting them down. I adore the peace of suburban neighborhoods, with children unafraid to ride their bikes on the streets, with parents and older siblings doing things out in the yard and meeting up with neighbors, all keeping watch on the younglings. I love knowing that people like Gandhi, MLK Jr, and the Dalai Lama have set the standard of peace as the true meaning of civilization. To all those souls who set aside their aggravations and outright offenses in order to demonstrate and promote peace, I give great thanks.

Nov. 8th -- My gratitude knows no bounds for emergency workers, and not simply because I have EMTs and ER physicians in my family! Anyone who trains in any emergency procedure holds my highest regards, for such people have not only dedicated their time and attention to put others first, they have also made a commitment to cope with devastating situations that could easily take their own lives. Firefighters, EMS, Servicemen, police, even teachers now receiving security training -- remember the Sandy Hook school shooting? -- and others such as Fukushima and other nuclear scientists, biohazard response teams, search-and-rescue workers, and quarantine nurses: they all show a dedication to solving horrific problems so that no one further must suffer. I wish everyone honored them more than they honor celebrities, sports figures, politicians, and rich people, for they deserve more of life's treasures than the pompous, greedy show-offs who capture so much attention. SALUTE, one and all!

Nov. 7th -- I would like to give thanks for and to all my friends, especially family-friends. You make life bearable, intriguing, exciting, sometimes aggravating, often funny, and always meaningful. I try to support you to the best of my abilities, so I desperately hope you all forgive my shortcomings. It saddens me when I cannot help someone, especially if a person takes just one episode of my inability to help as a rejection of their friendship or some such. I suppose such a thing is what differentiates 'acquaintances' from 'true friends', but I would truly hope even my acquaintances would understand, say, my disability or health problems or money issues or whatever might have been the cause of some disagreement or lack of support on my part. I pray everyone takes advantage of every contact with their friends to treat them as if they may never see them again, for fate can be unutterably swift and cruel. That is why I strive to offer the best of myself to you all.

Nov. 6th -- I am exceedingly grateful for the Internet! Anyone with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge understands that feeling, of running searches all night long until you collapse in exhaustion. Now that I have been writing full-fledged novels these past several years, access to virtually instant information has upped my productivity several times over, for how much enthusiasm gets dampened by the need to go to the library the next day and gather a dozen books to peruse over a period of hours or weeks? In addition, social utilities such as email and Facebook keep me connected to family and friends I would not otherwise go out of my way to contact, because we are all so busy it tends to take gravely important circumstances for us to even pick up the phone. Now, it's a quick note to everyone on your contact list, or a FB post, and many of the most important people in your life can brief all the others not online! Although I don't have the need to do so very often, one of my favorite things to do is comparison shop online. I will never buy a big-ticket item again by relying on a salesman's word; car, appliance, computer, equipment, tools, what have you, if it's over $100, I will not only look for the best price, I will also research the product made with the best materials, overall value, customer satisfaction, you name it. I hope everyone understands, and fights for, one of the biggest issues coming up in the near future: maintaining net neutrality!

Nov. 5th -- I am extraordinarily grateful that I occasionally feel a link to, and am developing an understanding of, Spirit. This is not 'God', nor 'dead people', nor angels nor guides nor anything that can be said to have a personality; this is more like what scientists search for as zero-point energy, vacuum energy. The substrate of the universe is an energy that sustains, permeates, possibly creates, all matter. Some even call it Mind, because intelligence can be 'found' there, but those who clairvoyantly or telepathically or by some other means such as pendulums can access information are simply 'tuning in' to (in my mind) the residuals of material reality, such as the Akashic Records, and occasionally tuning in to beings of personality like those mentioned above. To me, Spirit is the essence that we learn to tune in the first place, the force through which we can access other people or realms, like TVs and radios can be tuned to waves of electromagnetic energy. I feel the connection is like daydreaming or imagination, but with that deep certainty with which you know the 'truth' of everyday life. That 'link' starts with subtle knowledge, a sureness beyond words, and is the only way we can grow to understand the vastness of the universe, the potential of miracles, and the power we hold in ourselves as divine beings.  See

Nov. 4th -- How could I mention gratitude without mentioning my dad? I owe him my intellectual drive. I owe him my 'bash away at it until it's perfect' attitude. I owe him my love of nature. I owe him for things I can barely conceptualize, much less verbalize. He is a rock, a self-made man of deep integrity who may not consider some of the things I do important (I doubt if he's read a book in 20 years, much less a novel), but is nevertheless proud of me, supportive of me, and has treated me as equally as if I were the son he never had. Every moment with him is precious, respectful, enlightening, and humbling. I can only hope to achieve his level of soul-greatness someday, for he is well-loved by everyone, and for good reason: he brings out the best in us all.

Nov. 3rd -- I am so grateful for my mother! Imagine the utter confusion of a classy lady trying to raise a daughter who bounced between 'Earth Mother' and 'tomboy'! Yet still she supports me, reading my books despite the science fiction, buying me things like fancy clothes, purses, and makeup, and reminding me at every turn that personal, social, and emotional reality is more important to most people than 'logic' or 'reasoning'. Any social influence I may ever attain will be due to her, and I can only hope to achieve such benevolent grace as she exudes. Today is her birthday, and I pray she gives me her good guidance for several more decades!

Nov. 2nd -- I am grateful for modern medicine! Although I concentrate on finding the most natural methods to maintain my health, sometimes they are not enough. Thank God for antibiotics, for example! I am particularly grateful that my doctor considers some natural healing methods to be just fine; he cannot prescribe them by law, but when I describe what I do, he will nod, smile, give me a 'thumbs up', or some other positive gesture to show he appreciates my efforts to maintain my health.

Nov. 1st -- I am so grateful for my husband. He can fix anything but my health. He takes such good care of me, I wouldn't be here if I did not have him in my life. I used to be proud of my independence, but since I married him, I realized independence can still include commitment. Now that I AM dependent on him, my gratitude for him can barely be described with mere praise. He has already long earned his angel wings, and I wish I could find a way to repay his dedication to me.

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