23 Cool Things To Do. Or Not.

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1. Use your head and listen to your heart.

2.  Aim for being imperfect. You’ll probably succeed. And success is good for you.

3. Make rules and then use your head, listen to your heart and if your rules don’t apply any more, toss them. When you’re making new ones, use your head, listen to your heart.

4. If you’re going to speculate on the future, make sure your speculations make you happy and optimistic about life and you and everything. If they don’t, find something else to do other than speculating. (Hint, see 7, 11, 12…)

5. Avoid smugly spiritual people. In fact, avoid smugly anything people.

6. People who believe they’re better than you usually have a tremendous skill you don’t have – bullshitting themselves.

7. Snuggle up as often as you can to a furry animal that loves you and wants to be snuggled up to.

8. The word anal sounds horrible because it is horrible. When you see it disguising itself as a human, run as fast and as far as you can.

9. Do something new for God’s sake. And yours.

10. Bored is angry.

11. Let yourself fall in love once in a while. And have sex. Sex is good for you. At least I think that’s what somebody said to me once.

12. Eat dark chocolate more than once in a while. Especially if the sex thing isn’t happening. Mind you, if that’s the case, there’s always the other option… Have the chocolate afterwards. Or before. Or during.

13. If you want a face lift, to hell with all the smugs who say you should learn to love yourself for who you are.

14. If you want something you can’t afford, find a way. Try to stop short of robbing a bank but if you must, then be Hollywood about it and don’t get caught. Hey, you can even write the book or the screenplay and sell it to George Clooney. If you don’t know how to write, here’s my number…

15. Get the heck out of whatever one horse town you inhabit in some part of you. Jump on that one horse before somebody else does and ride on out of town.

16. This whole business of worshipping at the altar of balance is getting out of hand. Go on, take a risk; get unbalanced now and then.

17. Which would you rather have on your tombstone: “she was always soooo nice to everybody” or “damn bitch drove me crazy sometimes”.

18. If there’s something you don’t like about yourself find a way to change it. If you don’t want to be bothered… Oh. I got nothing for you then.

19. If somebody bullies you, clock them.

20. Too much insurance = not enough living. It’s a proven mathematical formula discovered in the tombful depths of some Egyptian queen or other. Or was it Euclid? Darwin? Well, whether they said it or not, I just did.

21. If you’re feeling blue be kind to yourself. Whatever you do, lecturing yourself into a false state of blissful happiness is neither listening to your heart nor using your head. Blue is blue. Better to cry and have somebody hold you or snuggle up to a furry animal that likes it and loves you. Pretty soon you won’t be feeling blue any more.

22. Take up the hula hoop.

23. It’s much more fun to be sassy than overly well-mannered. On the note of fun, have some. Have a lot. Throw balance right out of the window on this one.

Sometimes Chocolate Works

I’m a co-creator in my life.  My part is to be as present as I can and as accountable as possible for my actions.  A friend of mine once said “all we have to do is show up at the door.  The rest isn’t up to us.”  Easier said than done.

Everything has a price.  It’s always a trade off between what has to be paid and what can be gained, and whether that gain is just for physical survival or for integrity of the heart and soul.  The belief that one has to be sacrificed for the other is very powerful in western culture.  I’ll stick to my belief that whilst it’s a challenge to have a really good balance, it is possible.

This moment is all I really have.  A moment that holds wild dreams and powerful aspirations as well as the reality of what I’m capable of achieving right now.  So long as I allow the former to live and breathe and accept the truth of the latter it will develop to the point where my dreams can actually materialize.

Vulnerability isn’t shameful.  It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  It means you need love.

Barack Obama said once that without compromise nothing would ever be achieved, and the American Constitution wouldn’t exist.  He added, though, that everybody has the right to draw their line in the sand.

When somebody walks away from a relationship, it could be because they’re selfish and thoughtless.  But it’s just as possible they left for a real reason.  It’s easy to blame the person who leaves.  Not so easy to examine your own behavior to see if you chased them away.

I like people who can say “If I’ve hurt you, I’m sorry, and if you want to talk about it I want to listen.”

People who are afraid of their own feelings and don’t know what to do with them will be terrified of yours, and will pressurize you not to feel, but to be sensible and rational.  What they don’t realize is that if only they could let you be and give you love and understanding, you would automatically get to that point of being sensible and rational.

When we overvalue money life will give us an opportunity to reassess our values.  It will do it gently at first, but if we can’t listen, the opportunities will get increasingly painful until we can’t avoid them any more.

Humans are notoriously bad at listening to their own needs, and placing any value on them.  This has been turned somehow into a saintly virtue.

If I’m judging somebody else without making the effort to know their side of the story, chances are I’m avoiding uncomfortable truths within myself.  Easier to judge you than to face me.  We should be careful with our judgments because they are lethal weapons that can do a lot of damage, especially if we spread them around so other people believe them too.  The saying “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can do no harm” is bollocks.

Sometimes chocolate works.

ePublishing? It’s Easy! Very Funny…

I don’t know how many times I’m going to keep posting this coming soon image!  I swear I am working hard to get this wretched epublishing thing worked out, and every day I think “right, tomorrow is the day”.  Then tomorrow comes and I despair as I gaze into my immediate future and see only a long long long line of tomorrows when I didn’t manage to publish!

Computers can be so frustrating.  You can’t ask them any damn questions.  And even when your questions are answered by humans in forums they don’t make any sense.  And they don’t understand why they don’t make sense.  And I can’t explain it to them because I don’t understand either.

There’s an ebook creator guide but surely whoever put it together never knew nothing.  Doesn’t know what it’s like to know nothing.  So of course it doesn’t make sense to a pleb like me. Anybody got any chocolate?  Maybe a cup of tea.  Right, that’s what I’ll do.  It might stop me wanting to chuck my computer out of the window.  Through the window, actually, just like in the movies.  That always looks so satisfying.

I have renewed respect for anybody and everybody who’s ever tried something new from scratch.  You start out with a kind of vision, and it all looks nice and neat, easily attainable.  The fantasy carries you for a while.  Then you start getting your hands dirty and clarity flies out the window but there’s nothing satisfying about it.

Soda water in the brain is more what it feels like.  You curse the day you ever had even a tiny spark of a dream or an idea, wish you hadn’t started, and you lust after the idea of giving it all up and never ever EVER starting something new again.  But it’s in your blood now, and something drives you on, through the dense fog of nothing.  making.  sense.

Downright sado-masochism, that’s what it is…

Love of Coffee and Chocolate – and Intelligent Presidents

“Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” [Franklin P. Jones]

 “I have a holistic need to work and to have huge ties of love in my life. I can’t imagine eschewing one for the other.”  [Meryl Streep]

“I’d like to be a queen in people’s hearts but I don’t see myself being queen of this country.”  [Princess Diana]

Everybody’s got something to say about love, haven’t they?  Well, not everybody.  I watched again some of the BAFTA pre-awards the other night, and everybody went love-gaga for this decade’s British film icon-babe Colin Firth.  I wonder what he thinks about love?  I don’t know, I couldn’t find anything he’s said about it, so I chose this one instead “My singing voice is somewhere between a drunken apology and a plumbing problem.”

Is there any love in there?  Love of humor of course.

Michelle Obama said “Cute’s good. But cute only lasts for so long, and then it’s, ‘Who are you as a person?’  Don’t look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. When you’re dating a man, you should always feel good… You shouldn’t be in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t make you completely happy and make you feel whole.”  [ Michael Y. Park. “Michelle Obama’s Secrets to Finding a Great Guy” People.com. 10/28/2009.]

Obviously she’s got something right.  Andrew Romano said of the Presidential couple “… I think it’s the Obamas’ willingness to act in public much how they act in private – open, informal, flirtatious – that has incited most of the swooning.  At the Youth Ball, I noticed the president do something that’s impossible to imagine any of his predecessors doing: resting his head, eyes closed, on Michelle’s shoulder.” [“Our Model Marriage” Newsweek 2/23/2009.]

Love – isn’t it a great thing when it’s the real thing?  Love of truth, love of freedom, love of chocolate and coffee.  Love of intelligent Presidents married to extraordinary women.

Even Einstein had something to say about love: “you cannot love a car the way you love a horse”.  Nicely put.  Not sure what he thought about men and women, though…  Or chocolate, for that matter.  Or American presidents.  But I bet if he was alive today he’d vote for Barack Obama come the elections.

Blame it on the Chocolate. Chocolat and the Life Well Lived

I saw the film Chocolat again the other night, what a treat in every way.  It’s a classic tale of lust for life in all its beauty and sensuality fighting draconian, arid morality that poses as deep spirituality and seeks really to stifle and destroy everything that’s good and truly sacred about life and people.

The story’s set in the 50’s I think, in a small rigidly Catholic village whose priest tries awfully hard to be holy but secretly loves rock music and is really fighting a losing battle within himself.  Still, he – and the townspeople – are controlled by the resident Count who fiercely represses his own  powerful sensuality which terrifies him.  He imposes a frigid, acetic, heart and soul-dessicating discipline on everybody.  Women dress drably and are either slaves to their chauvinistic, insensitive men or to a punitive, unforgiving God.

The film opens in lent, where the Count’s control is all the more severe.  A few of the townspeople are in the mood for rebellion but they don’t dare.  They’re ripe to be led into sin, though.

Into this tight-lipped, severely judgmental community drifts a beautiful, sensual free spirit and her equally beautiful daughter.   To the horror and outrage of the Count she wears feminine dresses and red shoes – opens up a chocolate shop where sells the most devastatingly seductive chocolate drink and home-made chocolates.

And the war is on.  They’re persecuted by the Count who tries to force people to shun them so the shop will close down.  But the heroine and her daughter embody love, compassion, warmth of heart, body and soul, tolerance, humor, fun, spiritedness – and refusal to be taken down.  Gradually, the townspeople find themselves being seduced against their better judgment.

In the end, good triumphs over evil, love wins the day, and even the Count gives in to his own sensuality and desire to live a rich, rewarding life.  Blame it on the chocolate.   I love movies like this, where petty persecution parading as spirituality and the ugliness of warped spirits and minds which turn people into rabid bullies get shown up for what they are – all sound and noise, signifying absolutely nothing.  And where all it takes is one strong soul to stand up against the bullying masses and they’re vanquished.

It’s a David and Goliath story told sensitively, powerfully, with passion, humor and beauty to feast your eyes on.  It reminded me how fantastic life can be, gave me courage to pursue my dreams regardless of obstacles.  It lit up my world, and the vanquishing of the bullies made me laugh out loud.  Now where can I go and find myself some chocolate…

Listen, here’s what I think.

I think we can’t go around…

measuring our goodness by what we don’t do.

By what we deny ourselves…

what we resist and who we exclude.

I think we’ve got to measure goodness…

by what we embrace…

what we create…

and who we include.

                                                                                                   (from the priest’s sermon)

Rules for Successful Blogging; Chocolate; and My Trip to Paris, Milan and New York

Here are some rules for personal bloggers.  They’re bound to be useful, sure to be the formula for instant success.

Rule number one: be interesting.  If your life is boring, stop blogging.  Oh, that doesn’t work.  Well let’s try rule number two: if you have to drop names, then do it casually, as in “took the car in for a service, treated myself to yummy dark chocolate with orange in it, had drink with George Clooney to discuss the problems in his latest script, bought the groceries, made supper blah blah blah.  Boring day.

Rule number three: only tell the truth and don’t exaggerate.  If your day goes something like this, it’s fine:

6.30     Alarm went off.

6.31     Pressed snooze button.

10.30   Hammering on door by boss.  Woke up, had forgotten snooze button kills the clock.  Answered said door, groggy, unapologetic, and dressed in – well, never mind that.  Boss said “I came to fire you but by God you look sexy”.

10.33   Went back to bed.  With boss.  Had a fine time.

12.40   Boss got dressed, kissed me on the cheek – and fired me.

3.00     Had interview with tabloid journalist.  Bought a box of dark chocolates and celebrated my capacity for revenge ha ha.  Didn’t like the job anyway.  Quite liked boss, though.  Bastard.

5.00     Huge  bunch of roses arrived with note from boss “can’t get you out of my mind”.  Ideas of revenge melted, to be replaced with horrified regret.  Called tabloid journalist who said “you must be kidding this is my first byline.”  Finished the chocolates.  Might as well get fat since I’ve lost both job and best love opportunity I’ll ever have in my life.

But if all you did was get up, go to work, come back home, switch on kettle, watch TV, dream about Paris, New York and Milan and wonder what boss would be like in bed – well, I say forget the rule about exaggeration, just make something up.

Since I don’t have a job or a boss and I just didn’t have time to fit George Clooney in today, I took a trip to Paris, New York and Milan.  Actually I went to a bookstore with a chic café where you can read all the magazines, and treated myself to a yummy café Americano and dark chocolate muffin sort of cake thing that sent me to heaven.  And I read all the new Vogues for this month, and Officiel haute couture, that kept me in heaven.

Flying high there for a while.  Thank god for an imagination.  And chocolate, of course.  And George Clooney.

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Chocolate is more popular than World Peace, but Horses are more Satisfying

According to Google, only 110,000 people search every month using the words World Peace.  Isn’t that sad.  I guess none of them are arms manufacturers.  1,220,000 are interested in slavery.  I wonder how many of those are actually looking for potential slaves.  Scary thought.  Depression – 6 million.  Crisis – 5 million.  That’s understandable.

But top of the pops is chocolate, with 20 million, and coffee a close second with 13 million.  I would have thought that if you were obsessed with either coffee or chocolate you’d need to drink it, eat it, experience the pleasure of it.  What’s the point of reading about it and looking at pictures?  Choco-voyeurism.  Choco-sadism.

Well, somewhere in between lies a fascination with horses.  They get the same number of hits as depression.  6 million.  I can understand that.  I started horse riding lessons a week ago, and had my second lesson yesterday with a horse named Moolan.   It’s the most amazing experience so far.  I think words are going to fail me.

I’ve looked at horses all my life with awe and a pretty passionate desire to be able to ride them.  It seems so strange that it’s taken me all these years to start.  One good thing about starting anything after postponing all your life is the immense relief of finally saying yes to yourself.   I wondered if I’d find that I’d been in love with the idea of riding but wouldn’t like the reality of it and having to go through the learning process, but that didn’t happen.

My thigh muscles are weak as dishwater.  I don’t know much about how to relax and focus on everything you have to focus on all at once, let alone communicate with a horse, but I still feel as if I belong there when I’m in the saddle.  The whole world and its complexities, the challenges of trying to live my life in a way that brings me fulfillment and doesn’t land me on poverty street; how quickly time is passing – it all falls away.

Just me and Moolan, learning to be aware of what I’m communicating to him all the time, all the mixed messages I’m giving him, learning how to be clear about the ones I want to give, and what I have to do with my whole body to give them.

It’s a strange thing, the relationship between horse and rider.  I’ve often heard people say you’re the boss and you have to know and show it.  I didn’t like that, it sounded like bully power.  But actually I don’t think it is.  It seems to be more about being sure of what you want and telling your horse in a clear, unapologetic way.  It’s also about respecting the horse and its incredible power, intelligence and sensitivity to your every movement.

One thing’s for sure.  I can’t rescue Moolan and apologize for giving him an instruction, he just ignores me!   I have to deal with my own emotions – I certainly can’t take my anger out on him,   I’d be likely to get a kick in the face and be thrown, and it would serve me right.  I definitely can’t be a victim – I’m scared to ask for what I want.   He won’t feel sorry for me.

But he is a patient horse, and he’s gentle and understanding that I’m a beginner.  I feel pretty moved by that.  And when I got my messages clear we had a couple of moments of being in a kind of rudimentary harmony.  I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.  I had a sense of what it is to be independent and accountable for myself and connected with another being.

It beats chocolate, I tell you.