Blog Topics; how do You decide?

Complete set of the seven books of the "H...

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When you’re writing a daily blog, how do you decide what the topic will be?  For some folks a specific subject is the foundation and everything else is decided from there.  Parenting, politics, healing, pets, pests, ……………the list goes on.  What about when you don’t do that?  How does a topic become a topic?

It’s not like it’s assigned; like homework or a magazine article.  I think most bloggers are independent writers.  People with something to say and the blogging world provides the venue to say it.  Which makes it all the more interesting to me ; wondering about how topics are chosen.

It’s like imagining how best selling authors come up with stories.  If these folks really write what they know, they lead very interesting lives!  Wouldn’t you like to follow John Grisham around for a day?  How about Dan Brown?  I’ve always been curious what a day in Stephen King’s life would be like, he has a curious, not to say spooky take on most things.  If you assume, as I do, that fiction flows into reality.

And those were only the first three writers to come to mind; there are so many good story tellers!  I love Robert Parks books.  All fast reads and very entertaining.  He did a lot without using a lot of words.  Janet Evanovich  does well with that too.  When the characters step off the page and become three dimensional, escape from reality is complete.

I do seem to have two different modes when reading fiction.  With the lighter more humorous stories, the characters step out of the book.  With the more serious stories, I dive in, like I can be in the middle of things, yet keep the characters contained within the confines of the book covers.  Don’t want some of them in the real world, at all.  I read a lot of murder mysteries and have a fascination with fictional serial killers  and especially the psychologist types that draw word pictures of them.  Profilers!  Most intrigued by the process and ability, doubt I’d ever want to do it myself.  Is it just fiction, or, do you really have to guard against becoming like the monsters you hunt?  Some of this comes from having too much free time on my hands and some of it crosses my mind whether I’m busy or not.

I don’t read much in the fantasy genre and yet I have two authors I read over and over that fall into the category.  Marion Zimmer Bradley and J.K. Rowling.  Okay C.S. Lewis too.  I came across The Mists of Avalon so many years ago, I don’t even remember.  It’s Arthurian legend from a woman’s point of view and I reread it every couple of years, just because.  Bradley has written other books and I’m sure they are just as good and I haven’t read them, yet.  As to Harry Potter, well, that’s a kind of annual thing.  From book one to book seven, one after the other until I reach the end.  Each time something different catches my attention, more details stay with me even after I’ve closed and reshelved the books.  And there is no question of reading only one or two, definitely not out of series.  I don’t care much one way or the other about the movies, just have to read the books, in order, as if the seven were one.  It is all one story, just had to be in multiple books to prevent physical injuries.  My theory any way.  As for C.S. Lewis, his Lion in the Cupboard series was pretty good, I just relate more to Harry Potter.

As long as I’m talking about favored authors anyway, might as well mention James Clavell, Herman Wouk and James Patterson.  These are also authors I will purposely re-read.  There are a couple of writers I find myself re-reading by accident.  See a title and think, that looks interesting and then get a few pages into the book before discovering, I’ve already read this.  Most of the time I’ll finish reading it anyway, cause what I remember tends to build anticipation rather than spoiling the story.  I keep Clavell, Wouk and Patterson on hand, just in case…the world comes to an end and there is nothing new to read, or, I just can’t decide on a book.  Too many choices, what if I pick the wrong one?  These three are guaranteed likes, I know it from the start.  I’ve read them before.

And this just isn’t what I thought this blog was going to be about.  At all!  I had my Melodie Beattie meditation book at my elbow cause I was thinking about the reading for today’s date in Journey to the Heart.  I’d say it’s a good one, if I didn’t say that just about everyday.  To myself ,if not out loud.  She writes in a way that reading what she’s written is like having her in the room with you.  She’s comforting and reassuring without lying!  That’s my take on her writing anyway.  It’s like she hears what’s in your mind and heart and offers perspectives and suggestions for looking at things differently.  Nothing far fetched or difficult to do.  More like the difference between looking at a table setting sitting at the table and then looking at it from across a room.  Perspective.  Sometimes when you’re too close to a thing all you see are the flaws.  From across the room there is a beauty that shines through, even though you know the flaws are there.  The plate still holds food, the fork still picks it up and carries it to your mouth.  All the separate parts are functional and the flaws are minor.  When they’re not right in your face, they’re mostly unnoticeable.  It’s even possible to see the beauty when you stop looking for the faults.  Seems to work the same way with people.  Look too close and all you see are flaws.  Stand just a little away and there is a whole person and really so much more than acceptable.  A dear and loving, loved, lovable friend.  The magic happens when you can do that for the person you see in the mirror.  And Melodie Beattie has been one of my guides down this path.  That is almost what today’s reading was about.

So, I’m curious to know.  Blog topics; how do you Decide?



If it’s Trendy, it Certainly doesn’t require my attention!

Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood

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I came to the conclusion, don’t ask me when, that if something is trendy it doesn’t require my interest and especially not my attention.  If it’s trendy far too many minds are giving it interest and attention already.

I do understand that if more people thought like I do, unemployment would likely be much higher.  People magazine would not exist.  How many people do they employ?  How about MTV?  The list could go on.It’s not like I’m totally incognizant or even immune to trends.  Being human and having a need to be part of society I see and hear things and even form opinions. I don’t often feel compelled to share them; most often they are more wait and see anyway.  Wait for the initial excitement to die off and see if anyone even remembers the next day, week, month, etc.  I most especially don’t follow “news” trends.  When they learn to tell only who, what, when and where, I might try listening again.  There are a couple of reasons for this perspective.

  1. they seem insistent on why, which is most times inexplicable, especially where crime is involved.   What makes their best guess any better or worse than mine or yours?  And that’s all it can be without knowing a great deal more than is revealed by the “investigative reports”.
  2. placement matters.  Lead stories sell lots of product.  Selling product is why there is “news” at all.  Wonder if those folks are in the least insulted that more and more people consider them “infotainment”?  As i fail to see either information or entertainment, I don’t miss them.  Never formed the habit of watching, so, don’t miss them even though I don’t see them.
  3. it insults my intelligence when they rehash, well, most everything really. At first i was going to mention debates and presidential speeches; things like that. Then realized they rehash most things.
  4. Can you remember a time they asked a question you wanted answered?  I can’t.
  5. they trivialize or ignore important things, especially if it’s contrary to the thinking of sponsors.  Tell it all or shut up.
  6. I , personally, don’t care what “celebrities” think about any given topic, more often than not.  When we become personal friends, I’ll ask, if I really want to know.
  7. Since I wouldn’t choose to have my tragedies, screw ups and personal business scattered to the four winds, I certainly don’t like being bombarded with sound bytes and photos when it’s done to other human beings, celebrity or average citizen.   I’d suggest turning the cameras around except that would be cruel also.

Sorry, went on a little tear.  Is it any wonder there is so much stress in the world?  It is my personal belief that all the wrong people are being stressed.  I’d really like to see bright lights trained and doors unlocked on many of the dark places where decisions are reached.  All those places protected, shielded by moneyed sponsors.  The places where some ONE  decides you and I shouldn’t be bothered with information we wouldn’t understand.  It might confuse us!!!!  What’s to be confused about?  If we knew what you were doing, action would be taken to delay or stop what you are doing!

I will say right here, in case you haven’t already guessed, these are my opinions, thoughts, ideas.  They are only being expressed here and now because I found a safe venue to express them, as completely as possible, that no one has to hear, or read or watch.  If you like them and agree, good.  If you don’t like them and disagree, good.  If it gets you to thinking and verbalizing without causing harm, even better.  We need more people thinking, weighing and evaluating.  Most particularly about things we are effected/affected by that don’t ever get presented on the “news”.

Here’s the thing; for many years I said and even believed, “I don’t care”.   Ignored the anger, resentment, frustration in my tone of voice.  Imagine my surprise at learning how much I actually do care.  And learning that powerlessness is not the same thing as hopeless.  It’s a whole new way of looking at things and I’m curious to see where it leads.

Denial doesn’t actually make things go away, it just removes things from our active focus and attention.  It might be what is necessary, for awhile.  And if you’re not diverted by the infotainment, chaos and disarray of modern media, it’s entirely likely you are depressed to some degree.  Maybe not.

There’s a thought running through my mind and I can’t quite catch it.  I think it has something to do with change of attitude and perspective, sorry, no bells ringing yet.  Something about denial involved and I still can’t pin it down.

Ah, yes, All or nothing thinking!!!  If you had confronted me on just that topic, even a couple of weeks ago, I would have told you “I don’t do that anymore”.  See, denial!  Right now there are any number of times I would still say “off with their heads” or “This is the only way to go”.  Or, things similar to that.

Please hear this, before reading further; what follows are sarcastic, cynical, tongue in cheek solutions to a few of the challenges we face as humans and citizens in the world today.  I do not own weapons of any kind!  I do not suggest, recommend or encourage the use of violence or weaponry for solving interpersonal, international differences.

So, tongue in cheek, ………………never mind.  Old thoughts, clearly seen as no longer valid and mostly encouraged by the vicarious catharsis of revenge movies.  Can I hear a big round of applause for Dirty Harry!  I used to have other favorites, but they just got too outlandish to be believed.  Maximum destruction of property and no collateral damage! Please!  Only the “bad” guys got maimed or killed?  Truth is, I don’t even know how Clint Eastwood movies still make my view list.  Still watch’em, still enjoy watching ’em.  Go ahead, make my day!

Another old habit, hard to lose is taking things personally.    It’s another one of those things I would have sworn I’d given up.  Until I found out I hadn’t, not really!  That was surprising.  Note to self: denial is not your friend.  It leads down so many wrong roads.

And I don’t know how well this transitions, but, the above got me to thinking about things I hear people say and the single thought that runs through my mind, when I hear them saying some of these:

  • I’m not a victim
  • I’m happy, joyous and free
  • I am (or am not)____________________

The single thought is: I think thou doth protest too much!  Okay, there is a common corollary thought: Who are you trying to kid?  And, in the interest of mental and spiritual health, I have to ask and answer myself, honestly, first.  Not new, just recently refreshed.  Backed up by self examination and revelation to a living breathing other.  I can bs myself quite well.   It all changes when the information is shared.

It is most definitely not trendy to admit perceiving oneself as a victim.  How else would you describe a fairly constant, possibly low threshhold, state of feeling hopeless and helpless?  Compounded by attitudes and beliefs that life is tough, I have nothing to offer, good things don’t happen to me, if they do it’s a fluke……shall I go on? Before I forget, aided and abetted by the fear mongers spewing scarcity and chaos at every flick of the dial. (click of the remote)  Sounds a lot like depression, doesn’t it.  And, odd as it seems, I believe depression is trendy.   Between that and bi-polar, ADD and ADHD, seems everybody is at least one of them these days!  Why is that?  Because the drug companies have a pill for it?  If the first one don’t work, there’s three more we can try.  In succession or altogether.  Whatever your insurance will pay for!  Doesn’t pay to be depressed and uninsured, at all.   Unless you’re willing to take a non-drug approach and find a way to look at the person in the mirror, honestly.

Finding a comfortable place in the middle ground is something of a challenge.  Sometimes, finding the middle at all is a gift.  I didn’t get to where I am now all on my own and I didn’t get to where I was before on my own either.  The difference between now and then is, I do less kicking and screaming.  I still balk at some things, however, I choose who to follow, who to believe, who to trust.  It makes a difference.  Remembering that my feet are made of clay and the same will be true of any person I ask for help keeps me from idolizing anyone.  It helps.

This has been a rambling diatribe if I ever wrote one.  If you’re still here, thanks.  If you’re not…….

I’m still thinking what I started out saying:  If it’s trendy, it Certainly doesn’t require my attention!

Gathering courage

This whole blogging adventure started because I found a program on my handy little Netbook that was designed specifically for that purpose.  I had heard of it, probably from its’ early stages and pretty much dismissed it as having no redeeming value.  Until I watched Julie and Julia my opinion remained pretty much unchanged.  Something in that movie flipped a switch in my brain and nothing has been the same since, having the program pre-installed seemed like Kismet.

My approach to blogging is very similar to my approach to swimming….s  l  o  w  and exceedingly cautious.  The difference is I can go years at a time without swimming and never miss it; it’s not the same with writing.  Since I first started this I have been aware of the subtle and insistent whisper; “write something”.  And private journaling hasn’t been the answer.  The potential contained in blogging is the possibility of interaction with other human beings.  Someone might read what I’ve written and have a thought, feeling or belief and express it!  Hence the slow and cautious approach.  What I dread most about swimming is total immersion in cold water; anything below 98.6 is cold to me.  I have actually just dived in a time or two and yet the success of those experiments was not enough to convince me that every other time would be the same.  What I dread about interacting with other human beings is a similar kind of immersion.

One of my favorite expressions is; opinions are like as______, everybody has one.  And whether my opinion on any given topic was formed slowly over time and resulted from intense research, or, came suddenly to me in the aftermath of an experience, I hold them , defend them, resist changing them with every fiber of my being.  I might be using the word opinion interchangeably with beliefs here.  Time and a few more thoughts might clarify.

I rarely, if ever, wear my heart on my sleeve.  It has taken some time to internalize that vulnerability is a constant state and even though some behaviors seem to be protective that is only an illusion.  What I’ve been noticing lately is that wise people take risks on a daily, even hourly basis.  Not jumping out of airplanes, cliff diving type risks.  They risk revealing themselves, warts and all to the people around them.  Quite frankly, I’d rather jump out of a plane. 

People who know me know there are several life endeavors my heart beats for.  I would be hard pressed to list them in any fixed order of priority.  They can’t all be number one and yet, some days , well, I just don’t know.  Here are some of them, just to give you an idea.

  • Two grown children
  • six grandchildren
  • six brothers and one sister
  • Dad
  • twelve step recovery
  • essential oils
  • physical healing, alternative medicine, organic food

Overcoming spiritual bankruptcy, however slow the process seems at times, surely has to be number one, even if just as a program running in the background.  I can say, with a high degree of certainty, I couldn’t be doing this if I hadn’t embraced that almost twenty years ago.  Life expands and contracts for me in direct correlation to my willingness to use the principles I learn (or at least hear) in the rooms. Being stubborn and rebellious by nature my learning curve sometimes looks more like a straight line.

I tend to listen more than speak about God, Higher Power, Creator…….call it what you will.  Not because I’m embarrassed.   Quite bluntly and frankly I detest proselytizing.  If you believe in God, Jesus Christ, Buddha, whoever, don’t tell me……show me!  Talk is cheap!  And with that belief, I attempt to live my life.

The truth is, most of the time what I engage in is survival.  And I don’t knock it, too much, because I have experienced real moments of life and have faith that more will follow.  Being a turtle has allowed me to continue living through times and experiences I tend to think I might not have survived, intact.  Altered states, while temporarily viable at times, are not something I welcome as an ongoing condition.  I define altered states as drunkenness, pharmaceutical cures, insanity… you know, fun stuff.  I much prefer the inside out approach of attitude adjustment that occurs when I apply the principles and tools derived from the twelve steps.  Never ceases to amaze me how well they work.  Always amazes me to find I’ve been resistant AGAIN.   

If I did the math correctly, there are seventeen people alluded to on the list above.  The most important people in my heart, but not the only ones.  I left out spouses of children and siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, dear friends and lots of acquaintances.  So many people.  I love them to pieces and am particularly inept at demonstrating it more often than not.  Some of it is my responsibility to change and some of it isn’t.  I find myself wishing for some kind of instant, permanent fix, all the time knowing, it just ain’t gonna happen!  It’s not even possible.  We change, all the time.   Ideally we are learning and growing.  Sometimes the learning process is exceedingly messy and growth can only be measured like the movement of glaciers.  If patience could be packaged and sold it could be a booming business.  It seems I run out of it at the worst times, more often than not, with myself.  What tends to get my attention first, however, is when I run out of patience with people, places and things outside myself.  I’m not sure of the complete truth of that last sentence, but, for now, let it rest. 

The last three entries on the list intertwine, might even be considered elements of one topic.  However you perceive it, my interest and pursuit of information in this vein grows as time passes.  The more I learn, the more I seek to learn.  Before I started writing this the “self help” nature of it totally eluded me.  It’s always been there, I just haven’t acknowledged it.  Mostly because the discoveries and experiments have seemed more of an adventure than anything else.  When I come across a new to me idea I just have to try it out.  Since I discovered Essential Oils about five years ago I’ve been something of a mad scientist.  They are SO cool.  I “play” with them on a fairly regular basis.  My collection, while nowhere near complete is extensive.  I use them in so many different ways, for so many different things I wonder how I ever functioned without them.  Mostly I limit my sharing on e.o. and related topics to  people I KNOW to be like minded.  I really don’t like proselytizing on any subject.  And there are a growing number of people who are like minded these days.  Kind of reinforces the whole idea that we are rarely alone, really.  If anything, singularity is a matter of degree and/or comfort zone.  The larger your comfort zone, the less singular you are likely to feel.  I believe if we are unique in any way it is in the combination of beliefs, experiences and all the various and sundry other things, which, when added together become one human being. 

Just found out it took me over 1200 words to spit all that out. It has taken me these many months to weigh and balance the decision to write something close to my heart and post it to my space.  Something tells me it’s a risk worth taking.   Might have to rethink the title, or, not.  Here goes!

Health and Wellness If I Ruled the World!!!!


I believe it necessary to start by saying, this is personal fantasy and I have no delusions of grandeur. especially since I couldn’t spell grandeur without an assist from spell check.  As with all things outside my physical being, I am powerless over peoples willingness to even attempt any of the following suggestions.  I should also add that my formal education is limited to a BS in Public Administration and I always laugh when I think of it or say it out loud.  I am something of an autodidact and pursue interests that vary, sometimes minute by minute, and I do a really lousy job of keeping track of documentation.  Somewhere in the back of my mind is a bibliography of massive proportions.  If they ever come up with a defragmentation program for the human brain, I may invest in it.  In the mean time, all I can say is, I truly don’t just make this stuff up out of whole cloth.  Somewhere along the path of life I have read something and it stuck with me.  I’m pretty good at trivia games, on a number of topics.  It seems to be genetic.  The shallowness or depth of information and the accuracy of recall is usually related to emotional involvement with the topic of the moment.  Having said all of that, just one more digression and then we’ll stay on the topic of this moment.  It occurred to me, I haven’t told you what I am going to tell you.  Is that only done with term papers and military presentations?  Oh well!  I’m not doing either one here and I really don’t know what I plan to say anyway.  My goal is to write out thoughts as clearly as possible and hope for the best.  Maybe some clarity?!  Maybe the ability to either let sleeping dogs lie , or, define a plan of action to cause those lying dogs to correct their propaganda and start telling the truth for a change.  Anyway, here goes nothing. 

Pharmaceuticals would be the absolute LAST method of treatment.  If and ONLY IF nothing else worked.  Reliance on prescriptions seems to become more prevalent with each passing day.  And the most bizarre aspect of this reliance is most of the drugs prescribed have worse side effects than the original condition!!!  WTF?!?  There are so many varied and assorted OTC and prescription drugs designed for people to continue to engage in habits that made them ill in the first place in boggles the mind.  If I keep getting heartburn, acid indigestion or acid reflux, perhaps it would be best if I stopped eating greasy food, started eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Possibly I should even consider leaving caffeine out of my daily diet.  And that’s just off the top of my head.  I have stopped offering suggestions to people when they complain about different conditions because it has become evident to me they are either un able or unwilling to make some VERY simple changes to increase their comfort and physical well being.  When I am in a cynical state of mind, I conclude that they prefer their current state.  Either it gains them sympathy or, it gives them something to talk about.  There are folks out there who engage in I’m sicker than you contests and I have found them to be the most resistant to anything other than pharmaceuticals.  Go figure!

In the arena of diet it is difficult to decide where to begin.  Nutrition labels?  As if they really give usable information to the average consumer.  Who out there honestly believes a candy bar, any candy bar, is a source of nutrition?  As for other foods, how many of us have the necessary mathematical skills to determine under which given set of dietary circumstances we are going to receive the nutritional benefits of say a bowl of cereal?  The panels rarely, if ever, describe the actual conditions pertaining to how I will eat said bowl of cereal.  First of all, I don’t have any recall of measuring and weighing the amount of cereal in the bowl.  I just pour some in and add yoghurt.  Unless I can get unhomogenized whole fat milk.  Low fat, nonfat, no fat …. flavorless and indigestible.  Even in desperate situations I choose to do without.  Okay, not everyone would make the same or similar choices.  Still, the question remains, how many know that This bowl of cereal consumed with 4 oz skim milk is going to be part of a total of say 1500 calories ingested today?  I ask because the vitamin and mineral breakdowns listed appear to be conditional.  As a percentage of ….. something.  So, for the sake of argument, let’s say I eat exactly x oz. of the product with x oz. of skim milk and nothing else until tomorrow, won’t I be taking in 100% of ________________ for that day?  Or, what if the vitamins and minerals listed are added to the product, rather than naturally occurring?  And the body either doesn’t or can’t use them because some element that makes them useful isn’t present.  So all these wonderful vitamins and minerals get flushed out as waste or shunted off to the liver or appendix or gallbladder or wherever.  Then what?  I can’t be the only person asking these questions!

Sticking to the topic of diet.  When oh when are people going to wake up to the fact that they would be galaxies better off eating any food at all, as long as it didn’t contain the descriptors low fat and/or sugar free?  Or fat free?  Find adjective free food and eat that.  Your health and weight control issues are much more likely to just melt away.  Provided you read the ingredients.  High fructose corn syrup will add to your problems.  Anything that you can’t readily identify or that sounds like a science experiment will add to your problems.  Keep it simple.   Having said that, it occurs to me how difficult that has become where food is concerned.  Designing and consuming an honest to God healthy diet requires education, research, planning…. a lot of sifting through controversial “information”.  I would venture to say even a degree in nutrition has become a handicap.  Who researches the benefits and liabilities of of anything anymore, just for the pure benefit of knowledge?  Who has the resources?  I have come to believe it is a matter of individual trial and error.  Perhaps it always has been.  In my mind, the flaw in most published research is it is tainted by the interests of whoever instigated it in the first place.  Even if the researchers didn’t actively take measures to sway the outcome from the very beginning, it is highly unlikely that outcomes with a negative impact to the product in question would ever become public knowledge.  Especially if the product is already available on the market.  Is it cynicism or pragmatism I am revealing here?  Some of both, I suspect.

In taking a short break, a thought occurred to me.  What if it all comes down to our individual bullshit detectors?  I’m pretty sure we each have one and some of us give it more credence than others.  Over time, I have come to see that mine is usually pretty accurate.  And yes, I see the qualifiers in the previous sentence.  It’s about faith.  Faith with works; something living.  On topics that involve strong prejudice on my part I have found my BS detector faulty.  The more I challenge what I think, believe or have the willingness to do the more accurate the detector becomes.  Something about contempt prior to investigation.  Friends of Bill will more readily identify that whole concept.  whole new tangent.  thought fragments/sentence fragments.  stream of consciousness.  Ties in to not relying solely on self .  Coming to believe that there is, indeed, a power greater than ourselves and having faith in same that help and guidance is ALWAYS available.  Even in quagmires surrounding what to eat and what not to eat.  One only need ask and then listen to the “still, quiet” voice within.  Or, pay close attention to what comes about next… It often is like magic.  So easy to discount, it’s a wonder anyone has noticed and reported at all.  Empiricists would call it anecdotal and therefore unreliable.  Oddly enough the reason they cannot produce similar results in a “scientific” study is the result of rigid parameters designed to factor out things that occur in the anecdotes.  Like, thinking of a question and then having someone arrive at the door with the answer, or, call on the phone, or turn on the radio and have a relevant song or other piece of music play.  Or have a book or magazine article “fall open” to a relevant page.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  If you hear hoof beats, look first for horses, just don’t totally rule out Zebras.  That’s all I’m saying.